Sunday, January 22, 2017

The War and its Effects (1905)

From the July 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

The War in the East will have far-reaching effects upon the Socialist movement in Europe and in America. As Socialists we are neither enthusiastic Pro-Japs or Anti-Russians. We know that whichever wins it is but a win for capitalism. Although we anticipate the ultimate triumph of Japan we do not for one moment believe that this will benefit the Japanese workers, far from it. The only result for them will be a greater intensity of labour necessary for the support of the Japanese capitalists, who, after the few years which, will be required for the adjustment of industry, will enter into the hurricane development that modern capitalism with its machinery and trusts needs.

Japan of to-day is one of the great competitors for the trade in the East. Japan of a few years hence will be the great power. Her close communication with the advanced form of capitalism already in existence in the United States is bound to have the effect of putting her in the front rank of capitalist development, while her relationship with China may well result in her becoming the most important factor in the industrial revolution of that unhappy bone of contention among nations, or the capitalist portion thereof. Japanese officers have already been engaged to drill and organise certain Chinese regiments and as their brains have been used by the Chinese because of their superiority in military affairs, so will they be utilised to organise Chinese industry. The training of centuries in the manipulation of tools enables the Chinese to adapt themselves to the requirements of modern industry in a remarkable way and the "white Australia” policy of the Australian Labour Party, the Anti-Asiatic legislation, if we may so term it, of other countries directed against yellow immigration, bears eloquent witness to the readiness with which the Chinese enter into effective competition with white labour--always, of course, to the detriment of the latter seeing that the standard of comfort of the “Yellows” is so much lower than that of the "Whites,” and seeing that the competition of cheap labour always fosters a tendency for wages to be reduced to that level.

The fact that white workers will have to face is that capitalism is international, and that it is not “Whites” and “Yellows” that meet in the markets of the world, but buyers and sellers, whose nationality does not matter one iota as far as the value of the goods to be exchanged is concerned. Thus though the capitalist class may be induced to legislate against the Yellow races in the White countries, they assuredly will not legislate against the buying or selling of the products of Yellow labour, when these products are made in the Yellow man’s country.

The effect of the War from the East alone, will make a considerable difference to the United States and Canada almost at once. This is certain to show itself in the greater intensification of labour, and the concentration of capital in those two countries. The corresponding effect of these to the workers will be a still larger army of the unemployed and a considerable decrease in the proportion of the total product received by the working-class as wages.

This in brief will be the result of the recuperation of Japan, and the subsequent opening-up of China by her, with all its vast resources of wealth and its unlimited supply of labour. But how shall we fare in Europe?

One thing is certain and that is the overthrow of the Russian Autocracy. Whether this will be accomplished by the disintegration of the West and South-West into a number of independent States at once, or by the adoption of a constitutional government for the Russian Empire as it is, with a later devolution, time will show. But whatever happens it means the more intensive and extensive development of capitalist proper in Russia. To-day, American, English, French, and German firms have their factories there. In spite of the patriotic howl raised by these people about supporting home industries, etc., there is not one of them but who is perfectly willing to establish his factories in “despotic Russia” if he can get cheaper labour or raw material, even if it does mean that a few of his fellow-countrymen have to put up with the mere trifle of being starved in the meantime.

The West of Russia with its large towns of St. Petersburg, Riga, and Vilna. and the South-West with Odessa, Kiev, and Kishenev. and the South with Baku and the other oil towns are being rapidly brought under the full domination of capitalism. True, the old regime holds sway over the agricultural parts, hut with the breakdown of the autocracy and the establishment of a constitutional government capitalism would be supreme in the towns and this would have an immediate reaction on the agricultural life of the surrounding districts.

The increased competition in the markets of Europe would react at once on the whole of the European working-class to its detriment. The effect of the increased competition in both hemispheres would be bound to make itself felt  to the workers in both. The results of such development will make the workers more and more conscious of the fact that their interests do not , lie in the perpetuation of the capitalist system, but in its overthrow. There will be greater opportunities for the Socialist to point out the only remedy—Socialism. The intensified class feeling that will be created, will be moulded into definite concrete form by the Socialists, by the building up of a revolutionary Socialist Party for the overthrow of the capitalist system and the establishment of the Socialist Republic.
E. J. B. Allen

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