The 50 Years Ago column from the September 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard
As we went to Press with our last issue, but too late for us to deal with the events in our pages, the great capitalist States of Europe were flinging declarations of war at each other and rushing in frenzied haste to the long-expected and carefully prepared for Armageddon.
When we say that this mad conflict has been long expected and well-prepared for we make a statement that is almost trite. However much the masters of Europe may have tried to hide the underlying causes and objects of their military preparations, they have never taken any pains to conceal the fact that they were arming against “the day,’’ and that “the day” was inevitable. Miles of paper and tons of printing ink have been used in the various countries in order to disseminate among the “common” people— i.e., the working class?—explanations calculated to fix the blame on other shoulders. In each country voluminous “exposures” have been made of the villainous machinations of the “foreigner,” always in such deep contrast to the Christian innocence of the exposers. But so far have any of the chief parties ever been from disguising the inevitability of the event they have been arming for, that they have used these very “exposures” to obtain the assent of public opinion to the race for armaments and the preparations for wholesale slaughter.
On the Continent they speak of British hypocrisy. The truth is that there is among the rulers of every capitalist country, hypocrisy enough and to spare, and the attitude of British Statesmen toward neutrals abroad and the working class at home reeks with characteristic hypocrisy. In spite of the fact that nowadays very few even of their working-class dupes really believe in the “altruistic” humbug regarding the maintenance of the “independence of small nations," or attach any importance to Asquith, Grey & Co’s, drivel about the “honour of Britain,” it is on those canting grounds that our masters seek to justify their plunge into the red vortex of war.
From the Socialist Standard, September, 1914.