Friday, October 26, 2018

Reprisals (1917)

From the November 1917 issue of the Socialist Standard

The topic of the hour, in the tube, tram, cookshop, four-ale bar and at the workshop bench, is “Reprisals.” For the moment the real issues of this colossal tragedy are put upon one side, and one hears from the lips of jaded workers who have never known what “Peace” really is, such catch phrases as are current in the Press and also the ludicrous ejaculations that are reported as being uttered by the Godhead of the British Empire—Mr. George (the Commoner not the King—namely: “Give them a dose of their own medicine! ” “Give them Hell! ” “Bomb German women and children!” and other equally nauseous expressions indicative of the state of mind of the world’s peoples in this, the twentieth century of “Christian civilization.”

It is not necessary to discuss whether air raids on Southern Germany will prove an efficacious preventive of air raids on England, though, of course, thinking workers who know the cold-blooded contempt in which our masters hold us, will realise that they do not consider the lives of working-class women and babies at all, but desire only to damage the German master-class property in return for the damage done to their own here. As General Smuts stated: “London is the nerve centre of the British Empire,” and the axle on which turns the wheel of Armageddon, which the Germans will continue to attack, regardless of the fact that Allied airmen are bombing German towns. Thus members of the working dam unfortunate enough to be dwelling in the danger zone need not be grateful to their masters for blowing to pieces German women and children, also of tbs working class, but should rather bestir themselves to think about the present state of affairs.

Gothas may come over and bomb Shoreditch and the Allied aeroplanes may fly over the next night and bomb Baden; Caprionia may bomb Pola and the Austrians in return may bomb Venice; raids and their consequent reprisals may be the next phase in the war, but why, oh why, should the working class think they have any cause for satisfaction ? Does the murdered Shoreditch baby revive and live anew when a Baden baby is slaughtered? Will the babies of Pols rise refreshed and sing the National Hymn of Austria on learning of the fate of the Venetian babies ? No! All that will result will be that workers, as they always suffer, from the ghastly effects of a rotten social system; and that the capitalist class in their fight for commercial supremacy, one section over the other, will go on shedding blood other than their own, until their objects are attained.

What reck they so long as their Argosies reach new-won markets, even if the seas upon which they ride are of human blood? No! friends of the working class, “Reprisals” are not measures to safeguard your lives: yon are too cheap to be worth that trouble.

But apart from Reprisals, the present war, as I have stated, is entering upon a new phase. The Press calls it the “Air offensive". It is a phase that is fraught with solemn bodings to the workers of the world. The science of warfare has progressed in astonishing leaps and bounds. The Zeppelin, the most effective air weapon in the earlier stages of the war, is already spoken of as out of date and innocuous. New inventions of lethal intent have crowded across the stage of war in a progressive stream; new explosives, new guns, new gases; tanks, U boats, Gothas, '75s and a host of others that make one shudder to think of what the war of the future will be like.

That is the question for the working class to consider. The capitalist system has culminated in this state of affairs, when it is death to look out of one's door at the moon; when chaste women and prostitutes shelter together in cellars, and parsons rub shoulders with honest men in underground places.

But the science of warfare will not stop there. The international capitalist gang will be always squabbling and coveting the world's markets, so long as they remain in control of the world's wealth. And wars will come and go, each one more terrible than the last.

Think then, comrades of the international proletariat, of the heritage you are leaving to posterity, of the death that falls from the skies, strikes from below the surface of the seas, and creeps over the landscape in a cloud of gas. It is not for you to shriek for reprisals on yourselves, but to act, at once, on class-conscious lines, organise for Socialism and overthrow for ever the tyrant that stands with his foot on your neck pressing you down into the bloody mire. Don't worry yourself as to whether that foot wears a jack-boot or a patent leather one, but arise and fling it off. Join with our comrades of all lands in building a new world above the ruins of the old, a world where national boundaries shall be unknown and wars be things of the past.
 Stanley H. Steele


British Red and Prussian Blue (1917)

From the November 1917 issue of the Socialist Standard

One of the finest of modern novelists and writers on Art —Mr. George Moore—speaks in one of his books of the "colour" of the mind of a certain celebrated artist. He means that which tinges his mental vision and steeps his habitual outlook in a certain definite and personal hue: liras producing characteristic “colour schemes.’’ This peculiarity of mental colouration is not limited to artists, however, nor to colour schemes done. Everyone’s outlook on Life is personal and self-coloured, and that of the capitalist class is entirely different from that of the workers: in fact, in complete opposition in interest and purpose. Further, the British capitalists, when they are Imperialistically minded, think in terms of Empire—the one and only British Empire!— "on which the sun never sets."

Hence has arisen that phrase expressive of bombastic Imperialism: “The All-Red Route." This was, as some may know, coined to denote the trail of British capitalist enterprise: “Our Possessions” as the school-books have it.

It is a long, long trail, too, and engirdles the Earth! It is invariably coloured “Red" on the map, and this colouration is grimly and ironically appropriate. For the capitalist class of Britain in their insatiable greed for wealth and dominance in the world-markets have steeped these territories and lands in many cases in the red blood of British soldiers and workers of this and the captured lands. Listen to this!—
  If there be a God then what he would like me to do is to paint as much of the map of Africa British Red as possible; and to do that I am elsewhere to promote the unit? and extend the influence of the British Race.—Cecil Rhodes. (See “Review of Reviews," April, 1902.)
Look into the average school geography book and see there what is owned and controlled by the British capitalist class, and what they have coloured “British Red" on the map. The robbery with violence of the rights of the people of other nations, the crushing of “small nationalities” under their ruthless heel, has culminated in a long chain of “possessions" and “dependencies." According to the facts, served up in the schools to engender a pride in “ Our" Empire, some of these portions of the globe have been “occupied" by us, others “annexed" or “acquired." Some have “capitulated," been “taken possession of” or “settled." What a lot do words sometimes signify! “Annexed”! “Settled”! Sometimes the heights of perfect candour are reached, and then we read that a certain place or colony was “captured” or “conquered.” We are told in McDougall’s “The Colonies and India," that these territories have been won by the sword, by settlement, by treaty,. and by purchase. In the introduction we read: 
  But after the battle of Plassy in 1757 the power of the French was destroyed in Bengal, and from that time the British power advanced rapidly! "Leagues of native princes against the British m the south only led to a further extension of British dominion."
Later, re South Africa, we read : “After wars with native Kaffirs, Zulus and Raautos, British territory was greatly enlarged! And so on, ad nauseam.

Our capitalists have, for many years, been “thinking Imperially.” They have been planning and scheming to colour the map with as much “British Red” as possible. The pride of Empire sheds its glow over many of their own wage slaves. These latter, lacking class-consciousness and political knowledge, think that they also should be proud of these “achievements" of the “Empire-builders." Ye gods! Is there anything to be proud of that men of their own nationality should have “subjugated" the men of another—and by means of brute force, cunning, diplomatic twisting and intrigue ?

What profits it the worker, who is a wage-slave in his “own" country, that the wage-slavery of which he is the victim at the hands of the British ruling class should be extended to workers of other lands ? If it were not so tragically ironic it would be a matter for Homeric laughter!

So matters have continued. The British Empire, like an octopus, has spread its tentacles to greedily clutch whatever it can, and enlarge its domain for capitalist exploitation. Other nations look enviously on and wish to emulate their rivals’ achievements. “We also must colonise, must expand somehow—no matter what the cost," they think. Germany desires “World-conquest," and to colour the map Prussian Blue. It would delight the Teutonic capitalists. The sight of great colonies coloured “British Red" is like a red rag to a bull: an incitement and an offence. The greed of gain dominates their thoughts to the exclusion of all other interests. Flaunting Imperialism induces similar desires; desires lead to action, and they in turn lead to “colonisation. ’

Now we were told earlier in the “Great War,” by that notorious political twister, Lloyd George, of the dire results to the British worker if our present capitalist made enemies won the war. “God help Labour if Germany wins!” so said the wily Welshman. We who are Socialists, know the frothy folly of such a remark. What is more, Lloyd George himself must know that the workers will not and cannot be worse off economically and otherwise under capitalists of the Hun kind than of the Brit-Hun type. They will still he wage-slaves, selling their labour-power of hand and brain for their daily bread. The same precariousness of livelihood, menace of unemployment and want, would threaten them. Their wages would continue, on the average, to only just suffice to keep them efficient. What matters, then, the nationality of their exploiters? Brazen lies of politicians flow as frenzy from their lips as do their innumerable pledges. Listen to Lloyd George:
   There is no section of the community that has such an interest in the victory of the Allies as the workers of the world  . . .  It is this federation of free nations (the British Empire) that has presented such a formidable obstacle to the collective aims of German Militarism.—“Daily Chronicle,” 16.8.17.
And now finally:
  He [Lloyd George] had always believed in telling the truth, the whole truth, to his fellow countrymen, because he knew that was the way to get the best out of them.—The “Star,” 7.9.17.
There is nothing like truth: it is so refreshing! Had the politicians, diplomats and capitalists of Europe on the eve of war declared the truth, and told why they contemplated letting hell loose by declaring war, then in verity there would have been no war. The whole cunning, despicable and sordid business is clothed in lies: lies of foreign offices and shameless falsehoods of parliaments, pulpits, and the prostitute Press of capitalism! Ana the workers, who in the past have largely ignored Socialism and lapped up the lies their masters feed them with, thought it was their war! What interest have they in capitalist wars? Their portion is to be riddled by the machine gun as they go “over the top " to bayonet their capitalist-made foes, or blown to pieces in a “big push.” You pick up the paper and read that yesterday over 1,000 men were killed amongst the English alone, and in the same edition we read in reference to that day’s warfare, “ Haig states there is nothing to report"! Capitalism in warfare or in days of much-vaunted “Peace" is the same, and the same barbaric ruthlessness is displayed by the master class the world over.

Germany in her dream of world-conquest wants to colonise, but she is face to face with the fact that her rivals have “got there first," and established “ the Empire." Hear what Sir A. Stanley, speaking recently, said :
  Had the system of peaceful penetration carried on by the Germans before the War continued for a few years more it would have meant the industrial destruction of this country. Neither this nor any other Government would ever tolerate a continuation of that policy. —“Daily Telegraph,” 21.7.17.
So it appears they thought the time was ripe, and their rivals also. Shortly after—thanks to capitalism—the curtain was raised and revealed the beginning of the most tragic drama and orgy of militarism the world has seen! Of course it is all put down to the Kaiser in this country! In Berlin they say: “England is alone the enemy.” So we see the real cause is purposely obscured, but not to the Socialists!

Perhaps the quotation herewith will prove illuminating and show how frank are some who aid and abet. Mr. Harold Fraser Wyatt, of the Imperial Maritime League, writing in the “Nineteenth Century and After," (Sept., 1914), says:
  Efficiency for war is God’s test of the nation's soul. Victory it the result of efficiency, and that efficiency is the result of a spiritual quality . . . And the efficiency or inefficiency of its armaments is the determining factor in a nation's success, or of a nation’s failure at that culminating moment of long processes of commercial and diplomatic rivalry —the moment of War.
Comment is needless. Again :
  The problem of the British Empire is—How is the British Empire to triumph over the world.— Colonel Charles Ross, D.S.O. (“ Representative Government and War," p. 361.)
Finally:
  The British Empire stands face to face with the world; and if she is to exist her armaments must be increased to such an extent as will enable her to contend if necessary with the whole world.—Ibid, P- 375.
The present war is obviously a thieves quarrel of the most sordid, mercenary, and disastrous kind that has ever afflicted the long-suffering and exploited workers. It is the outcome of our masters in this and other lands "thinking Imperially," the fruit of their efforts in Empire-building, struggling for world markets, and of their vaunted “diplomacy" and “commercial integrity.”

But Lloyd-George is optimistic as ever. Recently he spake thus:
  Our footprints may be stained with blood, but we will reach the height, and in front of us see the rich fields and plaint of the new world we have sacrificed so much to reach."—The “Star," 7.9.17.
One thinks, as one reads the last portion of the above, of two names and all they connote— names written large in “British Red”—“Gallipoli" and “Mesopotamia"; and again one thinks!

German Lloyd Georges make similar speeches, throw out the same sops to aid the prosecution of the war to a “victorious conclusion." But the time is coming, aye, and soon! when no rhetoric will stay the disillusionment of the masses, when the Socialist Party will be completely vindicated. Not once have this party confused the issue. All along they have pointed out the capitalist nature of the present European struggle, maintaining that abundant proofs are to land of the real object for which it is being waged.

Workers, it matters not to you under whose rule you are, nor whether Empires rise or fall. Dynasties may topple and “Democracies” arise, yet if wage-slavery continues, these changes leave your position absolutely unaltered as a class!

To abolish poverty and unemployment, wage-slavery and war, and the thousand evils of the capitalist system, is within your power. It is you alone who can effect your emancipation. Organise to capture the powers of government and completely control the destiny of your class - the wealth-producers of the world. Your only enemy is the international capitalist class. You alone can achieve the greatest purpose the mind of man has evolved—International Socialism!

Under that system alone can come about the brotherhood of man, liberty, comfort, and peace for all. Hail the “Socialist Commonwealth of the World."
G.

Socialism and Science. (1917)

From the November 1917 issue of the Socialist Standard

How Science Leads Capitalism To Its Doom
From the start of the great war up to the present day much has been said and written about German science and organisation. The extremely rapid advance upon the forts of Namur and Liege, where guns of unheard-of calibre and deadliness were used, and the subsequent sweeping descent upon Paris, were admitted by even Allied military critics to be remarkable examples of scientific military achievement. Realising that only by resorting to science could such methods be successfully met, Allied effort was unanimously directed to scientific research. So we see new departments set up in this country, specially staffed, to investigate new inventions likely to be of service in combating the scientist across the Rhine.

But turning from science in the service of Mars to science in applied to industry, we see again astonishing results. As far back as 1909 Mr. Balfour delivered an address at Manchester University upon the subject of science in its relation to economic affairs and as a basis for present-day education. The concluding words of bis speech are worthy of perusal. He said:
  The great advancement of mankind is to be looked for in our ever-increasing knowledge of the secrets of nature — secrets, however, which dare not to be unlocked by those who pursue them for purely material ends, but secrets which are open in their fullness only to men who pursue them in a disinterested spirit. The motive power which is really going to change the external surface of civilisation, which is going to add to the well-being of mankind, which is going to stimulate the imagination of all those who are interested in the universe in which our lot is cast—that lies after all with science. I would sooner be known as having added to the sum of oar knowledge of the truth of nature than anything else I can imagine. Unfortunately for me, my opportunities have lain in different directions.
If Mr. Balfour has been unfortunate in that his opportunities have lain in a different direction, those opportunities have assuredly brought greater material fortune than generally falls to the lot of scientists. The life stories of Linnaeus, John Kay, Lavoisier, Marx, and countless others demonstrate the usual reward of the men of science. The capitalist system stands condemned if only by reason of its brutal crimes against its men of genius.

To day we hear unceasing talk of the need in this and other countries for improved industrial methods, and of the necessity for taking pattern from our more studious and scientific “enemies” from Dusseldorf and other towns in the German manufacturing districts. Yet what does all this mean even if carried out? It must lead to one thing—and here the Socialist explodes that nonsensical piffle anent the formation of a “league of nations”—it must mean competition in a more intensified form than anything hitherto endured, and as a natural sequence, more terrible struggles over trade routes and markets.

The history of science is a history of ceaseless opposition of the most brutal and degrading kind at the hands of the followers of Christian teaching. Galileo, who, when a boy, discovered the law of the pendulums motion by observing a lamp swinging from the roof of the cathedral at Pisa, and who later constructed one of the first telescopes, was subjected to the most persistent tyranny at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church. The most deliberate lying and hypocritical abuse was directed upon the youth of Pisa as he persistently swept the heavens with his telescope, more especially when he revealed the mountains and valleys of the moon. No less brutal was the spiteful war waged by the Christians against Nicholas Copernicus, up to that time a Christian follower himself, because of his compilation of his book “Revolution of the Heavenly Bodies.” Protestant and Catholic sank their differences in order to persecute Kepler, because his discovery of the motion of the planets undermined the chief tenets of the churches.

The extent to which scientific research has been hampered and put back by vitriolic Christian spite will never, perhaps, be known. It remained for such men as Halley and Newton to administer what is regarded a the coupe-de-grace to such opposition, and to definitely establish for all time the triumph of scientific achievement over ignorance and superstition.

But not merely in the field of astronomy was bitter opposition met with. Geography, geology, chemistry, physics, anatomy and medicine, and finally political economy, all aroused the deepest animosity on the part of those whose interests were affected. Such economists as Adam Smith, Ricardo, and John Stuart Mill were quite acceptable to the master class, but the genius of Marx, so damaging to the very foundations of capitalist domination, compelled the modern master class to resort to the weapons of its priestly predecessors.

To-day we perceive the international capitalist class falling over itself in its efforts to employ new methods of wealth production. With the securing of political power, to which all economic power is subservient, the masters were assured of all the benefits accruing from the genius of their slave-workers, since without capital the working of the discovery is usually impossible, and the capitalist State is careful never to assist the needy inventor to securely place his own invention.

More than one great thinker have embraced suicide rather than witness the exploitation of their life’s work by the financial thieves to whom they have been forced to entrust their theorisings. Others have died wretchedly, breathing hatred of the gross injustices of modem society. The tragedy of John Kay, and that of Heinrich Heine, one of the greatest of lyrical poets, were bad enough, in all conscience, but many worse are on record. The hostility which was turned upon Copernicus was later used in despair against Darwin, and with no more success. In 1874 Bishop Cummings, a well-known American Church dignitary, said with regard to the work of Darwin:
The Church has no fear of science; the persecution of Galileo was entirely unwarrantable; but Christians should resist to the last Darwinism, for that is evidently contrary to Scripture. 
Bishop Cummings apparently forgot that the theories of Galileo were just as much opposed to the Scriptures as were the theories of Darwin, else why the persecution of the man ?

The views of the Church upon the subject of the Darwinian theory were never better expressed than in a letter published in "The Church Chronicle" (New York), May 28,1874. It read: :
  Darwinism—whether Darwin knows it or not; whether the clergy, who are half prepared to accept it as “science,” know it or not—is a denial of every article of the Christian faith. It is supreme folly to talk as some do about accommodating Christianity to Darwinism. Either those who talk so do not understand Christianity, or they do not understand Darwinism. If we have all—men and monkeys, women and baboons, oysters and eagles—all developed from an original monad or germ, then St. Paul’s grand deliverance—"All flesh is not the same flesh. There is one kind of flesh of men, another kind of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are bodies celestial and bodies terrestial"—may still be very grand in our funeral service, but very untrue to fact."
So much, then, for the onslaught of the Church upon one more triumph of scientific research. To-day the masters are calling all the resources of science to their aid for the purpose of increasing their opportunities of exploiting the workers That such exploitation lies at the root of all modern wars has been pointed out by Socialists for many years.

The rapid advance in machinery means the creation of an ever-growing surplus of commodities. The need for foreign markets for the disposal of this produce is the cause of almost every international dispute. The struggle for international wealth grows greater even as the paucity of new markets makes itself more manifest. As is so clearly demonstrated by H. de B. Gibbins in his "Industrial History of England": “The nations must go on fighting for an outlet for the extra wealth produced, otherwise the whole gigantic system of international commerce must breakdown by the mere weight of its own intensity."

Analysis of the structure of capitalist society demonstrates how nations producing for profit and not for social use create a surplus of commodities. Thus we arrive at the keynote of this competitive system, and, incidentally, the true cause of all its warfare.

So long, therefore, as capitalism survives must we endure warfare. Socialisation of the means and instruments of production and distribution in the interest of the whole people is the only possible solution, and this can only be achieved by the working class itself. The more the master class try to delude themselves that science is on their side the greater becomes the instability of capitalist domination. Science can only find its true expression in a sane, commonsense order of society as outlined by tbs S.P.G.B. Once the workers become educated enough to realise the possibilities behind our proposals the doom of capitalism will most assuredly be at hand.
B.B.B.