An interesting item of news recently appeared in the Press of this country. Under the heading, "On Ticket-of-Leave: Bolshevist System for the Bourgeoisie," I read that, according to a telegram from Petrograd, new passports for the bourgeoisie have been introduced by decree in the form of testimonial books. It continues—
"Everybody who makes use of the work of others is to be provided with these—namely, directors of enterprises, members of administrative councils, merchants, brokers, ex-officers and lawyers. Only annotations of these books, saying that the requested work has been accomplished, will entitle the bearers to travel about Russia."—"Evening Standard," Oct. 24th, 1918.
Assuming the report to be true, I think we are entitled to rejoice and be exceeding glad that these blessings of civilization—work and registration cards and similar documents—have been conferred on those who in the past have been graciously pleased to bestow them on members of the international working class. It is the touch ironic.
We have read so many times of late that the Bolsheviks were in the pay of the Germans that it is with difficulty we approach the following—
"The Matin publishes a telegram from Zurich, according to which the German Press is said to be displaying uneasiness with regard to the activities of the Russian Embassy in Berlin. M. Joffre, it is stated, is suspected of assisting in the importation into Germany of bombs and grenades, which are supposed to have been subsequently hidden in different parts of Berlin."— "National News," Nov. 3rd, 1918.
Therefore, you can pay your money and take your choice. On further reflection it would appear to be so much camouflage in order to obscure the position of affairs in Russia. One thing we know is that the Bolshevik revolution has sustained for twelve months the attacks from within and without.
Another Russian tit-bit also found a place in the newspapers here, doubtless because a "Bolshy" was having a tilt at Kaiser Bill (late of Prussia). According to a telegram the Commissary, M. Zinovieff, in a speech to the Soviet in Moscow, said :—
"The German Consul has requested me to reply by letter whether it is true that I called the Emperor a brigand, as the German papers say.
Amidst general laughter, M. Zinovieff asked, Is it possible to suspect a Bolshevik of expressing himself disrespectfully regarding a monarch who is God's anointed, marked with God's finger, like William? I do not think I deserve this suspicion."—"Daily Chronicle" Oct. 25th, 1918.
One of the results of the revolution in Germany has been the liberating of Karl Liebknecht, among others, from prison. We read that
"Liebknecht arrived at Berlin railway station yesterday afternoon, and was received in a triumphant manner by thousands of Berlin workmen and women, who crowded the station and surrounding streets. Liebknecht looked sick and exhausted, and his face told of hard suffering during his two years' imprisonment."—"Daily Chronicle," Oct. 25th, 1918.
In an explanatory note this journal of Liberalism goes on to inform its readers of the fearless and consistent attitude adopted by Liebknecht during the war. It says —
"Karl Liebknecht is the arch-enemy at home of Prussian militarism. He was elected to the Reichstag in 1912 for Potsdam, the Kaiser's own borough. From the beginning he has opposed the war, and in appeals from prison to the workers he has proclaimed war on the German Government and the Junkers."
Now this is not the first occasion on which the English capitalist Press has given laudatory puffs to opponents of the German ruling class. Strikes on the part of the German workers have been eulogised here, whilst similar occurrences on the part of English workmen have been sufficient to call forth denunciation by that self-same Press and demands made for the immediate despatch to the front line trenches of such traitors to the country. If by a geographical accident Liebknecht had been born in England and had been the "arch-enemy" of militarism, I wonder whether he would have received the same attention in the capitalist Press, and further, would the treatment meted out to him have been any different from that which obtained under the regime of the Kaiser ? From the evidences on every hand I think not.
On this subject, referred to above, an illuminating comment was made in another journal, which is worthy of repetition here. Let me quote :—
"One of the most interesting and satisfactory incidents of the change in Germany has been the amnesty to political prisoners, including Karl Liebknecht. It is an instance in which there seems to be room for acting upon the old injunction that it is right to learn even from the enemy. We can scarcely, while preaching liberal principles to Germany, refuse to practise them ourselves. Some of the imprisoned "conscientious objectors" are really very little more than political prisoners. If it be argued that the conscientious objectors' crime is not political, the position of the Government becomes even more difficult. For if these men are not imprisoned for political reasons, it is difficult to see why, except on moral or religious grounds, they are imprisoned at all, and the Government have themselves expressly denied their own competence to punish men for their religious opinions."—"Daily News," Oct. 28th, 1918.
This is somewhat severe on the people who are making the world "safe for democracy." Our rulers can undoubtedly "learn even from the enemy" if they desire to do so. We have only to call to mind the Irishmen and women who have been thrown into prison, and without trial, too; the large number of C.O.'s, many of whom are undergoing the second and third sentence; and John Maclean, of Glasgow, to realise how far we are behind the people who yesterday our masters termed the enemy.
Now the Election is upon us and we are hearing so much about the virtues of the Coalition candidates, "our gallant heroes" and their wives would do well to remember the generous treatment which they have received at the hands of the Coalition Governments during the war period. After long and strenuous pressure, and with an election looming in the distance, our legislators suddenly saw the justice of the demand for increased separation allowances, etc., and made some advance, with a further promise of looking into the matter. Compare this generosity with the following: —
"In the matter of a visit of twelve gentlemen to Dublin, when £31 of public money was spent in two days in drinks and £5 in cigars, the Ministry now state that the officer responsible was reprimanded, and he subsequently resigned." — "Daily News," Nov. 18th, 1918.
This case was reported in the papers some time ago, but I quote what might be termed the inquest story, because it confirms the allegations then made. The quotation above is taken from a memorandum replying to the criticism of the Select Committee on National Expenditure as to the transactions of the Ministry of Information. Truly the devil is good to his own.
We have been obliged to smile at the pantomime performances of Havelock Wilson of late. What with arrogating to himself the right to determine whether or no certain people should be conveyed to the Continent to attend conferences, and then at last having to climb down from this exalted position, it is surely a case of the mighty having fallen. Doubtless this last achievement was facilitated by the fact that "at a special session of the Irish Trade Union Congress and Labour Party held in Dublin it was decided, at the outset of the proceedings, to exclude the delegates of the Seamen's and Firemen's Union as a protest against the members of that Union refusing to facilitate Mr. Henderson, Mr. Huysman, and other trade unionists in attending the International Labour Congresses" ("Reynolds's," Nov. 3rd, 1918). This is most assuredly an object lesson of the biter being bit.
Future historians will be able to place on record the wonderful methods adopted by a parsimonious, cheese-paring ruling class to make more tolerable the condition of its fighters and their dependents. Flag days have become part of our lives, and cadging appeals for this fund and that are of almost daily occurrence, all of which are to provide something that should have been assured by the State to the "men who have saved the Empire" (capital E, please). Ye valiant warriors, note these words—
"In response to the appeal for money to supply soldiers children with boots, "The National News" has received £931 17s. This has enabled us to relieve a thousand of the most necessitous cases in all parts of the country, and we feel that we have shown the way in which the needs of the men's dependents should now be supplied by an official organisation. . . . We must take this opportunity of thanking our readers whose generosity has enabled us to do so much for the bootless "kiddies" of our fighting men."—"National News," Nov. 3rd, 1918.
Capitalist politicians and apologists give utterance to fine words when speaking of the self-sacrifice of the armed forces, but they have as yet failed to translate into deeds their recognition of the hardships endured by the soldiers and sailors and their dependents in making the world safe for their capitalist masters.
How well the Labour fakirs carry out the desires and devices of their capitalist paymasters has been abundantly evidenced in recent times by the "plums" of office which have been bestowed upon them. Therefore, I conclude, it was acting on the principle of one good turn deserves another that friend Clynes has made arrangements for the production of potato flour on an extensive scale to be manipulated by the capitalist for the capitalist in the interest of the capitalist. But let me quote—
"Mr. Clynes desires to entrust this business to private enterprise rather than to undertake what promises to be a continuing industry with the official staff of the Ministry of Food, and has been authorised by the Treasury to afford generous facilities to persons who have suitable buildings for housing the plant, and the necessary enterprise for starting the factories. The Ministry of Food will supply the potatoes required, and will purchase the whole of the resulting flake on terms which will leave a reasonable margin of profit to the manufacturer, and also enable him to acquire the plant." —"Daily News," Oct. 21st, 1918.
Here we see the gentleman who desires to be returned to the next Parliament to assist in the great kidding campaign of "reconstruction," helping to make the world safe for democracy— pardon, I mean for the capitalist. Though the heavens fall, we must preserve the right of "a reasonable margin of profit" to the employing class.