From the November 1919 issue of the Socialist Standard
That organ of capitalist interests, "The Star," in a recent editorial (14.10.19) sheds its rays on some of the bestial products of our vaunted civilisation. It shows some of the streams from the overflowing cesspool of capitalism, but, being what it is, it takes care not to reveal the source—the actual cesspool!
The most characteristic feature of capitalistic journalism, it seems, is its supremely cunning evasion of basic truths. All kinds of fine phrases, lies, half-truths, pathos, and camouflage are good material wherewith to erect buttresses to prop up a decrepit, damned, and doomed system of society.
The "Star" heads its editorial "If Only––."
It pronounces its benedictions on the League of Nations Union and refers to it as ''the greatest hope of mankind." It says: "The King's message pleases us. He says that 'millions of British men and women, poignantly conscious of all the ruin and suffering caused by the brutal havoc of war, stand ready to help if only they be shown the way.'" (Italics mine.)
The "Star" takes its cue from the King's Message. It deplores the bitter results of the war with as much fervour as it aided and abetted its prosecution when the "Honour and Liberty" of capitalist thieves was at stake.
Speaking of war it says : "We all hate it. We all passionately desire to make it impossible in our time or in our children's time. Why, then, is the universal will of mankind defied or evaded? " And it querously asks: "Why can't we get on with the building of the League of Nations."
It proceeds :
"Mr. Asquith in his lucid and laconic speech says that all is not going well with the League. Old and new wars are being waged. Men are being slaughtered. Wealth is being wasted. From Riga to Fiume there are baleful omens. A pallid impotence paralyses statesmen. A year has slipped away since the Armistice, and with every month the chance of wiping out war is ebbing. Mr. Asquith tells the doomed world that if the nations for another generation go on cherishing animosities, hatching rival ambitions, manoeuvring by some new system of groups and alliances for international positions, and in the meantime husbanding their resources for that purpose, there is an end—a tragic and decisive end—to all the the best hopes of humanity. War as we have endured it is horrible, but war in the future will be immeasurably more horrible."
Ay ! Millions of men and women were deluded by the capitalist battle-cry of "A War to End War." Millions of workers doubtless cherished hopes that the Great War would mark the beginning of a warless future when it was brought to a ''glorious conclusion." But it has not.
Their hopes have been torn from them, and trampled on in this "period ot reconstruction." The "beautiful new world" spoken of by that arch-deceiver of the working class, Mr. Lloyd George, is as sordid and hellish a world as ever the old one was.
Having successfully essayed the inequitous task of starving the German people into supine surrender and smashing them militarily, the Allies are now engaged in the biggest political crime against a whole race ever engineered. Russia, with its teeming millions of inhabitants, is being slowly but surely starved to death by a blockade of the most infamous character, in order to make it safe for—CAPITALISM I
All and every naval and military means in conjunction are being employed in a sanguinary struggle ostensibly to crush out Bolshevism—a purely working-class movement. Seemingly no sacrifice of workers' has been too great to seat Capitalism firmly in the Russian saddle and possibly to re-establish Czardom. The present writer remembers having seen the cover of a magazine on which appeared in glaring letters, "Russia—England's opportunity." Exploiters, thieves, and all the plutocratic scoundrels of the world have feasted their greedy eyes in imagination on the vast virgin wealth of the Russia they desire to exploit.
"The chance of wiping out war is ebbing," wails the "Star." And if that paper spoke the truth that it knows so well it would admit that there never has been a "chance of wiping out war." Under capitalism war is a "cert." Sooner or later, whenever capitalist interests in conflict cannot be adjusted in the political field, they are fought out on the battlefield by masses of the working class pitted against each other in groups by their callous masters, and compelled to commit wholesale fratricide for the sake of financial interests and sordid commerce.
The capitalist spokesman, Asquith, in his "lucid and laconic speech," practically admits the menace of a great eruption of the war volcano in the not distant future. None knows better than he that it is capitalism alone that caused the Great War, and that will again set the war machines in motion whenever and wherever is pursued a relentless search for markets and control of trade routes.
None knows better than he that a league of nations is no preventative of future wars. Under capitalism war is the final method of settling the claims of opposing interests: "Victory" its arbitrament—for which the workers pay in agony and death.
The social atmosphere is electrical with discontent, suspicion, and mistrust: the deluded people are beginning to see the inability of their rulers and exploiters to make of Earth anything other than Inferno. The failure of the present system is apparent. Its inevitable turmoil is snaking the whole structure of society; its bankruptcy is palpable. Even in "peace" time its civilisation is a piggery gaudily painted to camouflage its essential slime and filth.
To continue the quotations from the "Star":
"Mr. Asquith says that the world is still bristling with the machinery of destruction. The mills of murder are still working full time. The war budgets of all the Powers are still on an appalling scale. We are worse than the worst. We set the pace for our allies. It is a hot and hellish pace. Why are we wasting hundreds of millions on armaments that cannot possibly be used if we mean what we say? Is it to fill the pockets of the armaments firms? Is it to support parasites in khaki ? Is it to supply an instrument for insensate ambition? Or is it sheer pure stupidity?"
Is not this an admission of the inability of our masters to create a "beautiful new world" ? And what of this ?—
"The chemists are only lisping the "alphabet of destruction." In a few years they may invent horrors, that will torture and slay us in our beds, not by tens but by hundreds of thousands.
We all know this. We all foresee the inevitable agony that is being prepared. And yet we are helpless. We cannot coerce the fools or chain the lunatics. We are the victims of a nameless evil. . . . We lack the courage to impose our will upon the pygmies who mismanage our affairs. The bitter truth is that the people in every land are giants who are caught in the toils of cunning and crafty miscreants who are coldly cruel in their selfishness, pitiless in their arrogance, merciless in their vanity."
The bemoaning fatalism evinced in the above reflects the fact that the capitalist class are unable to check the mighty forces they make use of. The proletariat the world over are learning by bitter experience that Capitalism alone is their enemy, and that if the world is to be free they themselves must set it free. The anarchy and chaos caused by the present system is such that we are rapidly approaching the time when it will become unworkable. Crisis will follow crisis, and the world's wage slaves will have the truth of their position forced upon them as their misery increases.
Workers, for your own sakes and for humanity's sake study Socialism ! Then, when yon understand it, you will organise to establish it and so emancipate yourselves from the shackles of wage-slavery on the one hand, and rid yourselves for ever from that awful and doubtless true menace of war which butcher Asquith, for sordid ends of his own, so vividly depicts but can find no reasonable remedy for.