Thursday, July 7, 2016

Facts and Promises (1915)

From the April 1915 issue of the Socialist Standard

The great slaughter still rages! Carnage and desolation follow in the wake of the contending armies. The spirit of murder animates the ruling class! Like all other wars, this war is economic in its origin. Like all other wars, it is being waged in the interests of the master class. Like all other wars, it is fought mainly by the working class. Roughly there are about 20,000,000 workers engaged in the senseless and brutal task of destroying each other. When this frightful carnage is ended to the satisfaction of our masters, what benefit will accrue to those workers who are shedding their blood? Almost every available means has been used by the ruling class and their hirelings to lure the working man into the vortex of war. From the campaign in the Press, down to the wholesale "sacking" of employees of military age. Into all trades and callings have the Army officials forced their way; the latest phase of their recruiting campaign being that of urging the Grocers' Federation of Great Britain to dispense with all their available men to become "cannon fodder," and engage women for the work in the shops. At the same time they urged employers to assist members of their staffs who, by enlisting will make "considerable financial sacrifice." Apropos of which we cull the following from a letter in the "Daily Chronicle" (25.3.15): 
"Sir,—I am an old soldier, and served my country for two years in Africa. I am married and have a family of 7 children. On the outbreak of the War I rejoined the colours. My employers posted handbills all over the place offering 10s. a week to all married men who enlisted, and free house and coal, and our jobs back when we came home. But what happened after they found our fleet was too strong for the Germans and that Kitchener was going to get all the men he wanted or could equip, and that they were in no danger of losing their works? They suddenly stopped paying the 10s. a week ; - a little later they stopped the coals, and now they say soldiers' wives will have to pay house rent, and we are not in a position to guarantee you your employment on your return."
And yet the British capitalist class through their Government entered this conflict on the pretext that Germany had refused to recognise the “scrap of paper" guaranteeing Belgian neutrality. This conduct is typical of the attitude of the master class toward those whom they trap into fighting their battles for them. 

Some of those now doing the vile work of their paymasters on the Continent will return some day to the same conditions of slavery in factory hells and mines for just a subsistence wage, lucky indeed if they get that. The greatest of all wars will still continue, and maybe some of those now “somewhere in France" will then be engaged in a strike or lockout against the masters, probably to be shot down by their military comrades in the struggle for a miserable subsistence. This, then, will be the return for all the arduous toil and suffering of the trenches.

We urge the workers of all countries to organise as a class to gain control of the political machinery in order to establish the Socialist Commonwealth, whence shall arise happiness, comfort, and luxury for all. Speed the day!
C'Arcy.

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