The ruling class of Great Britain have managed to seize more of the earth's surface than any of their competitors. Capitalists of other lands are handicapped, therefore, in finding a market for the increasing quantity of products that result from modern industry. In consequence they have of recent years shown great activity in organising and extending their fighting forces, in view of the wars rendered almost inevitable in the fierce struggle for markets and colonies, present and to come. The capitalist dam of England are using all endeavours to safeguard their interests and to maintain their supremacy, and they view with dismay the admitted fact that the state of recruiting is such that the authorities dare not impose the severe training that obtains in the armies of their Continental rivals. They see that it is no patriotic motive that leads a man to join the "colours,” but merely the want of the necessaries of life. The Army Medical Department in their August 1908 report said :
“The majority of recruits were growing lads and a large number were out of employment at the time of enlistment. Experienced recruiting agents estimate the proportion of the latter as high as 95% of the total. In many instances the lads were suffering from want of food and »ere generally in poor condition. The old tests which recruits used to be subjected to are far too severe for the would-be soldier of to-day "To remedy this state of affairs, to get a larger and better supply, our masters are trying to arouse and foster the military spirit in the sons of the workers. Hence, they institute rifle ranges in the schools, start Boys' Brigade and Boy Scout movements. They also use men who have a following among certain circles — men like Robert Blatchford — to write articles in their Press, praising the British Army and painting the life of “Tommy Atkins" in rosy colours.
The ignorance of the workers is one of the chief obstacles which Socialists at present have to face. On the other hand it is the one thing upon which the capitalists trade, when dealing with the workers. It is with a view to dispelling the ignorance of how the employing class treat those who serve them that the following two extracts from the Liberal Press are given.
“Brooding over poverty and his inability to find employment, Joseph Henry Broad, twenty-eight, a builder’s labourer, of Gold-street, Stepney, ended his misery by committing suicide. The inquest disclosed a pathetic story. The widow stated that her husband was formerly a soldier in the 2nd Essex Battalion. He served in the South African war, and had two medals and three bars. They had been married eleven months, and during the whole of that time had been particularly unfortunate, her husband having had only six weeks’ work. He was much depressed owing to not being able to obtain employment, and on the day of his death she found him sitting by the fire, crying bitterly. Witness left the room for a few minutes, and on her return she found that he had hanged himself with a leather belt. Medical assistance was summoned, but her husband was found to be dead.
“Witness added that her husband recently had influenza. The reason he was crying was because they could not meet their expenses. After paying the rent on that morning they had only two farthings left. The deceased was invalided home from South Africa, and had a pension of sixpence per day. The Coroner: How have you managed to live? Witness: We borrowed on the pension. Witness farther stated that she and her husband had been very short of food. On Friday last all they had to eat was a bloater between them, and on Saturday a halfpennyworth of fried potatoes. Of late they had subsisted mainly on bread and butter. Her husband’s relatives were poor people, but used to make a collection weekly in order to help them.”
Reynolds’ Newspaper, 1.5.10.
“Three little children were murdered at Islington last night It is alleged that their father cut their throats with a razor during the mother’s absence from home. The cause of the dreadful crime was poverty. The scene of the tragedy was a house in Dennis-street off the York-road, when Henry Higginbottom, his wife, and three of a family occupied one room. Higginbottom, who has been in the army, is a carman, but of late has been out of employment. He is only 25 years of age. . . . Continued unemployment had made him depressed and this preyed upon his mind. . . . Higginbottom is said to have served in the South African War, and to be at the present time in the Army Reserve and in receipt of a pension. The wife is employed at a coffee shop. She was called from her employment to hear the news of the tragedy, and when she saw her children lying dead she fainted.”
Reynolds’ Newspaper, 24.4.10.
After fighting for those who rule, they were left to suffer hunger and to face unemployment; to see those dependent upon them want. These men helped the capitalists to get a “United South Africa ”; to raise the Union Jack over the graves of thousands of men, women and children on the veldt. How different has Lord Kitchener been treated on his return! Feted by the leading lights of the capitalist class everywhere. They did not let him want. The workers, after all, are so many, so they can be left to starve.
The Liberal and Tory party voted £50,000 to Lord Kitchener and £100,000 to Lord Roberts for their misdeeds in South Africa.
Fellow workers, your masters take advantage of your hunger and nakedness to enlist you in their battalions. For what? To defend their property at home and abroad; to keep your fellow slaves in subjection in Britain ; to extend the boundaries of their empire.
You own no property to defend ; you have no freedom to conserve. It behoves you, therefore, whether inside or outside the army, to join the Socialist Party.
The aim of the Socialist Party is to abolish the property conditions that give rise to wars; to institute a system wherein armies and navies become unnecessary and merely figure in the memories of a hated past. Read its literature.