That the war has indeed been a good thing to the capitalist is overwhelmingly shown by even a most cursory perusal of the daily Press. A glance at any company meeting notice, or a study of the Excess Profits Tax, will tell the same tale—swollen profits. Another instance recently afforded I append here. The Secretary of the Grocers' Federation, addressing a special meeting of the Grocery and Provision Trade Section of the Balham, Tooting and District Traders Assn. Said :
The Food Controller had been the grocers' real friend for the last four or five years, in enabling them to dispose of all their surplus stock, much of which the public would not look at prior to the war, but which during the last year or two they gladly bought.
That was one of the good things that the war had accomplished. It had been a veritable spring cleaning for them, and in other ways, such as the extra halfpenny profit on cheese, lard, and margarine, the Food Controller had done the grocers good service, as it meant that nearly nine millions sterling had been given to the trade during the year.—"Daily News," Feb. 24, 1919.
The good work done by the Food Controller (from Lord Devonport to the latest Labour occupant of the office) for the benefit of the capitalist is here testified to by one who is an interested party. Truly they who pay the piper cali the tune.
In spite of the nonsense frequently indulged in by "labour leaders" and others during the past few years, that there is no such thing as a CLASS war, strange to say, signs are not wanting to show that this ever-pressing fact becomes clearer to those who have eyes to see. Recently Lord Claud Hamilton presided at the annual meeting of the G.E.Ry. Judging by the remarks he then made and the applause with which they were received, it is abundantly clear that he and those who listened to him are in no way mistaken about the matter. Enter Lord Claud—
What had happened during the last nine months? One concession following upon another on the part of the Government: concessions not to reasoned argument, not in reply to private grievances, not in the interests of justice and fair play, but to brute force. (Hear, hear.) Brute force in any shape was contrary to the instincts of the British nation. (Applause.)
We have disposed of it on the Continent. We are surely not going to allow it—fostered by those who have not risked their lives nor suffered the unspeakable miseries of trench life—to raise its obnoxious head at home (Hear, hear.)
The time is arriving when the Government must take off the velvet gloves which they have worn too long. (Hear, hear)"—"Evening Standard." Feb., 1919.
So there you are, fellow wage-slave, it's up to you. He (Lord Claud) realises the bitter fight between the haves and the have-nots. Think it over. Then join the ranks of the workers who are organised for the war against capitalist oppression.
A few days before the House of Commons adjourned for the Easter recess a motion was introduced by the Labour Party having for its object the provision of
Pensions adequate for a healthy and useful life to be paid to all widows with children or mothers whose breadwinner has become incapacitated, such pension to be provided by the State.
Some discussion ensued, and then Mr. Shortt pointed out what this involved, namely: It means that any widow with children, however rich she may be, or any wife of a husband who cannot work, even though she is extremely well off, would have the pension.
Now this may pass for serious criticism in the House, but to me the point has no substance whatever. In the first place the pension proposed to be paid to widows with children "adequate for a healthy and useful life" would and should preclude those "rich" widows whom Mr. Shortt had in mind. If they are "rich" then they have the wherewithal to obtain those social amenities which go to make up a healthy life. And regarding the other part of the qualification, i.e., "useful," then up to the present I am unaware of any evidence existing that the rich are useful.
Concerning the remainder, referred to as "any wife of a husband who cannot work, even though she is extremely well off," then in this case also the resolution is sufficiently clear, for no pension is necessary to that section of the community Mr. Shortt describes as "extremely well off," to ensure them the means of obtaining the essentials of life.
The financial aspect of the case was also mentioned, and it is distinctly good, coming from a member of a government that has been spending very close upon eight million pounds a day in the butchery of the world's working class. It was as follows : "One has to take into consideration the amount of money which the State possesses." Now all this chatter in the House is mere camouflage. The Government had no intention of favourably considering the resolution, notwithstanding all the flowery talk of making England "a land fit for heroes," and other meaningless phrases. In conclusion, let me quote from a paper which is an avowed supporter of the Government, and from which source the previous extracts are taken—
. . . the House has done what it has often done before when dealing with a subject which requires big thinking and real courage. It has talked it out. Fearful to vote for such a big reform, and yet not willing to be charged with voting against it, the issue has been dodged."—"Reynolds's," April 13th, 1919.
A little more than a month ago an important event took place—that is, for the leisured class. While the "sporting" members of the working class were studying the noon papers and endeavouring to find some winners, those who toil not neither do they spin were assembling to witness the Victory Grand National. I read that the attendance was a record one, and the Commander-in-Chief of the British Navy, together with the Earl of Derby, Lord Sefton, Lord Lonsdale, and a host of other titled people, were there to celebrate the event. But a short time ago we were being told by the Leverhulmes that in the new world after the war all would have to take part in the process of wealth production, and thereby make good the deficiency caused by the war. Pardon my inquisitiveness, but when are these people going to commence?
"The 'New York Times' correspondent in Washington states that Major-General Graves, who is in command of the United States forces in Siberia, has sent a report to the War Department, in which he states that the reason for not assisting the Japanese at Habarovik was that the Japanese shot woman and children and also that he did not recognise the Russians in this fight as the real enemy.
"When General March was questioned on the subject he said the Chief of Staff had nothing to say at present."—Central News. — "Daily News," April 17th, 1919.
When Lloyd George addressed the National Industrial Conference at the Central Hall, Westminster on the 27th of February last on the subject of Labour Unrest, he stated that one of the factors contributing to unrest was the high cost of living. He then went on to say—
We will get back gradually. I do not say that you will get back soon or for some years to the condition of living that you had before the war; but within the next few week there will be a reduction in the cost of some of the essential necessities of life. By the summer I hope that the cost of living in a working man's household will have gone down by about 4s. a week in the cost of certain necessities. By the end of March you will have achieved about half of that"—"Daily News," February 28th, 1919.
We have now reached the period when, according to Lloyd George, we should be about two shillings a week to the good. From enquiries which I have made it would appear that this is another to be added to the long list of unredeemed pledges.
Five months after the signing of the armistice find the newspaper folk waxing eloquent on "Shall the Ex-Kaiser Hang ?" To-day he is reprieved ; to-morrow he is to be tried. Personally I do not think he will suffer the death penalty. It would be establishing a horrible precedent. And one never knows what might follow. The conflicting statements made concerning this august person will be illustrated by the following items of news :—
"Paris. Wednesday.—It is understood that the "Big Four" have decided to eliminate the idea of the capital punishment of the Kaiser, but they will provide some means of bringing him under the control of the Allies.
In addition there will be a strong indictment pointing out the responsibility of his leaders."—"Globe," 10.4.1919.
"Paris. Tuesday.—The Paris edition of the "Chicago Tribune," under a page-wide heading "Kaiser to be Tried for War Crimes," declares it is in a position to state that the Kaiser and other Germans will be tried before a tribunal formed by the League of Nations for violating treaties and for crimes committed during the war.
It states that the report of the Responsibilities Commission specifically indicts the Kaiser, the Crown Prince, Hindenburg, Ludendorff, Tirpitz, and others, and that it is believed the death penalty will be inflicted upon the German leaders responsible for cruelties and crimes committed during the war."—"Daily News," 16.4.1919.