Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Murder! (1923)

From the January 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard

When two Irish Patriots, in the mistaken notion that they were assisting the Irish people, shot General Sir H. Wilson, they were dubbed murderers. They regarded him as the military representative of an enemy Government, and thought themselves justified in taking his life because they had but recently learned in the British Army that this was a right and proper thing to do; but they were hanged. The judge who condemned them talked some impertinent nonsense about the impossibility of reconciling Christianity and murder, but was apparently unaware that various Christian nations had been devoting the whole of their energies for some years to murdering each others subjects.

The fact is, that there is a double standard | of judgment. Murder by an individual on his own behalf is wrong, and will be punished; but murder by a ruling class in defence of its right to the private ownership of the means of life may be deemed “the preservation of law and order,” and is then not only excusable but highly moral.

The politicians carry out the orders of the ruling class, and are, of course, permitted in the execution of their duty to murder as much and as often as may be necessary.

Recently, ex-President Taft was in this country, and was received with open arms by Society, the Press, the Legal Profession, the Political Clubs, etc.

Ex-President Taft is an honourable man: he was also Governor of Philippines during Roosevelt’s Presidency. When in 1904, Roosevelt was running for the United States Presidency for the second time, much depended on the success of his policy in the Philippines, which America had not long forcibly annexed from Spain. Owing to natural discontent and gross misgovernment, the Islands were in a state of insurrection ; but were this news to leak out, the election might be lost.

To send troops to assist or evacuate those already there would have exposed the true position. What, then, did Taft do?—this honourable man, this confidant of European Cabinets, this lion of the best Society, entertained by Judges, and beamed upon by Royalty?

Stanley Portall Hyatt, an eye-witness, gives the answer:—
  “The insurrection had broken out, or rather, had blazed up, some months before, inconveniently near the Presidential Election, as the leaders knew well. . . .
  “ When the men in red took the field . . .  the High Gods of Manila attempted to keep the news out of the Press by practically cutting off Samar from communication with the outer world, leaving the unfortunate coastal people, the tao or peasantry, to their fate. Yet for months past, those same tao, knowing the Pulojanes were preparing to rise, had been sending frenzied appeals for protection to Manila. A thousand white troops distributed round the coast would have resulted in the saving of 50,000 lives. There was actually a white regiment in the island, at Calbayog, yet even when the Pulojanes were burning and slaughtering a few miles away it was not allowed to leave its camp. Officially, Samar was at peace; and if the 14th Infantry had taken the field the American nation might have begun to doubt the truth of Official statements, which would have meant the loss of votes. So the tao were left to their fate. Within the year, nearly a hundred thousand of the natives of Samar perished, and the island was absolutely ruined; but still the election was won.” (The Diary of a Soldier of Fortune; page 304.)
Even Churchill might envy the man with the above to his credit, and he could certainly never hope to beat for cool cheek the United States Government’s statement that the Philippines are “ happy, peaceful, and in the main prosperous, and keenly appreciative of the benefits of American rule." (Manchester Guardian, December 23rd, 1921.)
H. E.

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