Thursday, May 4, 2017

"What will he Do With It?" (1919)

Editorial from the January 1919 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Martial Law General Election has come and gone. As was generally expected, the “Coalition” gang got there. They polled, in the United Kingdom, 5,091,528 votes, against 4,589,486 polled by the non-coalitionists. Thus they had a majority of 52 per cent of the votes cast. This astounding majority, we are seriously informed, overwhelmed David Ll. G. But, as showing how minorities fare under capitalist “democracy,” it may be remarked that this five per cent. vote majority gives the Coalition (leaving Ireland out of it) a majority of some 317 seats.

For us, of course, the election was bound to provide consolation prizes. It is sweet to observe that Butcher Asquith has got left, and it is sweeter than saccharine tablets to note that J. R. Macdonald has bitten the dust. The Liberal henchmen have proved who their masters are, alike in the defeat of men like Henderson and Macdonald who have been unfortunate enough to lose their masters’ support, and in the victory of men like Thorne who, openly flouting their “labour” crutches, clung frantically to the hand that doles them out their £400 a year, and found, if we may mix the metaphor in a good cause, that they had backed the right horse.

And now Lloyd George goes on to juggle with his promises. Pledged up to the hilt to Home Rule for Ireland, he is going to carry it with a vast Unionist majority! He is going to make a “beautiful new world” with a majority of the stoutest defenders of the old sordid and bestial working-class environment. Well, we hope the workers are about to learn a few useful lessons—and we think they are.

Another Election Lie.
At the fag end of the election campaign Lloyd George made a bid for the soldiers’ votes by declaring for rapid demobilisation and no conscription after the war. As to the first, we shall see presently what he means by that, but as for the second, he has warned us beforehand that he was simply lying.

Earlier in the campaign the wily one said that the question of Conscription depended upon the terms of the peace settlement. He was opposed to Conscription, he said, but if other countries had large armies—why, of course, and so on. He at the same time declared that Britain must retain her navy, which he said is a defensive force.

Now it must be obvious that if Britain is to retain her gigantic navy other countries are going to provide themselves with instruments of defence. The American Naval Secretary soon showed this when he declared that “It was his firm conviction that if the Versailles Conference did not result in a general agreement to put an end to naval construction the United States must bend its energies to the creation of incomparably the greatest navy in the world.” (‘"Star,” 31.12.18.)

It is sheer rubbish to talk of the Navy as being a defensive weapon. Lloyd George’s persistent claim that without the British Navy the Allies had never won the war proves that it was an offensive instrument of the first order. If it were merely a defensive weapon then it might be extinguished in a general disarmament. But Lloyd George says no, it must be retained. And Secretary Daniels, knowing that it is the factor in the control of trade routes, and therefore of.the world market, declares that America does not intend to be shut out of the world market.

And so there we are. The game is about to begin all over again—and nobody knows it better than Lloyd George. So when he says that he is in favour of no-conscription he is only lying to catch votes. He tells us the truth when he says Conscription in this country depends upon what obtains on the Continent, for that means that he is already preparing to institute it as an integral part of the “beautiful new world.”

Confirmation!
“If Germany had waited a single generation she would have had a commercial empire of the world.”

Thus spake President Wilson in Rome on Jan. 3rd. Strange, is it not, how our opponents and apologists for the war prove the correctness of our statements regarding the root cause of the conflict and belie their own beatitudes concerning the high ideals which have actuated the Allies. Can it possibly be that they find, when the bill is finally presented, and shows ten million naval and military deaths alone, to say nothing of the millions of other deaths for which the war is responsible, that the old shallow bunkum of honour and the like is really too absurdly inadequate, and that is better to rely on the truth—that it was an economic war?

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