From the March 1915 issue of the Socialist Standard
It is a very strange thing how deeply the average worker of to day is concerned about the independence and neutrality of “Plucky Little Belgium.” One would think to hear some of them talk, that it was the alpha and omega of this country, to protect the smaller and weaker States of the world from the continual encroachments of their larger and more powerful enemies. The capitalist Press is devoting much ink and paper in telling us that the present crisis into which we have been drawn, "to maintain our dignity and honour,” is due to Germany's disregard for the neutrality and independence of Belgium, which had been guaranteed to them by treaty, and Lt. Gen. Imhoff, at Urania Hall, Berlin, is reported by the "Daily Call," of the 8th October. 1914. to have made the following remark: "Foreign policy is the expression of national egoism, consequently every treaty is worthless when national interests demand that they should be broken." This with reference to agreements signed by the capitalist governments of to-day (with which I shall deal later) hits the nail squarely on the head. He then went on to say that "necessity breaks even iron itself.'' and as one of the greatest necessities of the capitalist class is the extension of markets for the expansion of their trade, it is quite obvious why agreements signed one day are broken the next.
We are therefore called upon by our masters to down tools at once and fight for "freedom and democracy" against the tyrannous aggression of Belgium by the Kaiser and his hordes.
Now before accepting the statement that England and her allies are fighting for freedom, it would he advisable to first of all examine a little of the past history of these "champions of the smaller States," to see how they have performed in this respect, in the past, before joining bands with them in the present.
We will then, in the first place, take the noble and liberty loving government of Russia, which in 1911, to show their love of freedom and independence of the smaller States, violently attacked Persia, in collusion with Great Britain, in spite of the fact that they were pledged by agreement signed in 1907, to maintain the independence and integrity of this small country. And her continued encroachments on the liberties of Finland from 1906 to 1911 was, of course, also due to her "desire to defend the smaller States."
France, another of our allies, has by her occupation of Fez, in 1911, overthrown the independence of Morocco, which, by the Act of Algeciras, she and other Powers pledged themselves to maintain.
Japan, another country with which England is allied, and which has promised to support them in maintaining the independence of Belgium, annexed Korea in 1911, thus violating the agreement of 1904, which was supposed to guarantee Korea's independence and integrity.
England, with her anxiety for the "independence" of the smaller States, could not be out of this "good work,” so she absorbed with the aid of blood and fire the Transvaal and Orange Free State Republics of South Africa in 1902. And even now while this war is still raging and while the hirelings of the allied Press are foaming with anger about the broken agreement of Belgium's neutrality by Germany, they themselves are losing no time in snatching colonies from the latter, quite irrespective of the wishes of the inhabitants thereof.
And again, while England has repeatedly promised to evacuate Egypt, she has for more than thirty years continued to maintain her hold on that country, and has finally annexed it — of course, for the good of the Egyptians; and these are the countries which appear so troubled about the broken agreement concerning the independence and neutrality of Belgium.
No, dear reader, it is not the freedom of "Brave Little Belgium” that the allies are so anxious about, but the freedom of the capitalist class of England, France and Russia from the competition of their greatest rivals and pacemakers, the German capitalist class. A government like ours, which could not see its way clear to incorporate a 5s. per day minimum wage in the Miners’ Act 1912 does not suddenly become loaded with the burden of protecting the smaller States, at the expense of (according to "Reynolds,” 27th Oct., 1914) £39,000,000 per month.
De B. Gibbon, in the “Industrial History of England,” tells us that all the wars of the nineteenth century in which England was engaged were fought in the interests of commerce, and the wars of the present century appear to be pretty much the same.
Your enemy is here at home, as the enemy of the German working class is in Germany, consequently we ask you to study the facts, and when yon have analysed them with the same intelligence as you use in your daily toil, yon will join with us in the great struggle, not for Belgium for the Belgians, nor Europe for the Europeans, but of the world for the workers.