Friday, April 22, 2022

War: Methods of Offence and Defence (continued) (1940)

From the December 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

While the Roman republic was carrying all before it the power of cavalry began to show itself, and in the latter part of the Empire it dominated the military situation as the supreme offensive weapon.

The hills and marshes of Italy were not an ideal training ground for cavalry. Like gunpowder, the new offensive weapon came from the East, originating among the Magyars and the Gauls, who developed their horsemanship on the plains of Hungary and the steppes of Russia. When these barbarians first overflowed the Roman frontiers they presented Rome with a military problem that was only solved ultimately by making these barbarians citizens of Rome and the basis of its army. But the solution was obtained slowly and occupied centuries in accomplishing.

It is an extraordinary instance of the cupidity, solidity and power of the Roman commercial class that, in spite of numerous disastrous defeats sustained by Roman arms, the wealth and influence of Rome extended and digested victors and vanquished indifferently into its predatory pursuit of riches. For the grandeur of old Rome was based upon the capacity of its privileged patrician and commercial class of merchants and financiers to contrive that all roads carrying wealth, sweated from slave and freedman, led back to Rome.

In the early years of the Roman republic, while its power was extending over Italy, the heavily armoured Roman soldier, fighting in the phalanx formation borrowed from the Greeks, was irresistible. When, however, Roman conquest spread beyond the borders of Italy the Romans came in contact with foes whose offensive equipment showed up certain weaknesses in the closely-packed phalanx.

The first shock received by the Roman military organisation was delivered by the Carthagenians.

While Rome had been conquering Italy, another State, Carthage, had risen to power in North Africa. The Carthagenian was a maritime power drawing wealth to itself through sea traffic. It was by far the wealthiest State in the Mediterranean area, and Rome and Carthage eventually came to blows because of the growing influence of Carthage and the fear this inspired in Rome that Carthage would obtain control of the narrow strait between Sicily and Italy and dominate the Mediterranean. It was a struggle between two nations whose privileged classes both drew their wealth from usury, commerce and exploitation. But whereas (in those days) the Romans fought Rome’s battles, the Carthagenians never fought theirs, relying upon the huge numbers of mercenary troops their enormous wealth enabled them to purchase.

In passing it is worth noting that there was one important difference between mercenary and native troops that the Carthagenian wars brought home so forcibly to the Roman Government that steps were taken in the course of the war to remedy it. The Roman levies were compulsory and had a tendency to melt away as the soldier-farmer learnt how his land was ruined or his farm legally and illegally taken from him by financiers while he was away on foreign service. The mercenary, however, remained as long as his pay was good, though in defeat he sometimes turned upon his paymasters. As will be shown later on the Romans got out of this difficulty by the revolutionary change of organising a volunteer army.

The first series of battles was fought on the sea the Romans being successful. They introduced a revolution into sea warfare. The old method of fighting was to ram and sink the opponent’s ship—hence the iron beak below the waterline. But the Romans were poor sailors, and to make up for this deficiency, and to take advantage of the fighting skill of their soldiers, they introduced the method of grapple and board. To effect this a narrow movable gangway with a sharp spike at the end was attached to the ship in such a way that one end could be raised into the air and dropped upon the deck of the enemy ship. The sharp spike pierced the deck and the Roman soldiers rushed down the gangway to engage the enemy in hand-to-hand fighting. Against the Carthagenians, who were expert sailors but poor soldiers, it proved very successful.

The Romans then carried the war into Sicily and Africa. Four years were spent gathering and equipping an expeditionary force to attack the city of Carthage itself, and eventually an army of twenty thousand infantry and five hundred cavalry was landed on the coast of Africa. The small size of the cavalry force shows what little reliance was placed upon cavalry by Roman tacticians.

This army was met by a mercenary Carthagenian army which had been carefully trained by Xanthippus, a Spartan in the service of Carthage. When the two armies met the numerous Carthagenian cavalry, which was stationed on the wings of the phalanx, swamped and drove from the field the small force of Roman horse, and then turned inwards on the Roman centre enveloping and almost completely annihilating it. Only two thousand escaped.

The weakness of the phalanx formation was that, if crowded in upon itself by a force striking from different sides and the rear while the front ranks were still engaged, the soldiers became too closely packed to raise their arms and use their long pikes. It was cavalry that showed up this weakness, and the battle in North Africa was the first important victory of cavalry over infantry. The Greek and Roman phalanx had always depended upon moving forward rapidly and keeping formation until they got af the enemy, but cavalry was too mobile to be reached in that way. However, the hills and marshlands of Italy were not good breeding grounds for cavalry on a large scale, and a compromise formation was later developed by the Romans to meet the new form of offensive.

After the struggle between Rome and Carthage had lasted for twenty-two years, the Romans gained a naval victory that for a time set a limit to the encroachment of Carthage. The latter suffered a further setback by the revolt of its mercenary army which was being treacherously hamstrung by its faithless paymaster. The terrible story of the ferocious crushing of this revolt is told by Flaubert in his novel, “Salambo.”

The next important phase in the struggle between Rome and Carthage for supremacy was the period of Hannibal’s march in B.C. 217 from Spain over the Pyrenees and Alps into Italy, and his conquering progress towards Rome. Again cavalry was the ruling factor in Roman defeats. Hannibal’s force, though inferior in size to the Roman armies, was immensely superior in cavalry, and Hannibal planned every battle to make the best use of this force.

Ultimately another crushing blow was delivered to the old infantry formation by cavalry when the heavy Gallic cavalry of Hannibal dealt its sledgehammer blow at the battle of Cannoe. The Roman infantry were again forced into a helpless heap and massacred by a much smaller body of horsemen. The experience of North Africa had been repeated and was to occur on a larger scale once again before the Romans recognised that the day of the heavily-armed infantry was passing and a more mobile offensive weapon had to be forged.

Hannibal’s final withdrawal from Italy was not due to defeat on the battlefield, but to blockade, guerilla and fortress warfare, and the jealousy and suspicions of the ruling groups in Carthage who eventually recalled him.

The next period of interest in this discussion is the time when the German tribes were threatening to overflow Roman frontiers. At first the Roman armies suffered overwhelming defeats. Then an army, raised and trained under a new system devised by the Roman general, Marius, was successful, and the invaders were driven off.

The new military organisation developed under Marius to meet the cavalry menace was a carefully trained volunteer paid force, with its infantry ranks spaced out in three sections grouped as a cohort (six centuries totalling 600 men). Ten of these cohorts formed a legion. The weapons of the legionary were a javelin for throwing and a short sword for close quarters, and his armour a helmet and cuirass. Thus the old armoured citizen-soldier of the phalanx with his pike was abolished and a professional army established in his place. The new legionaries were capable of building fortifications and roads and were the foundation of the system which carried Roman arms successfully all over the known world and built roads and fortifications that still remain famous. It has been asserted that the new army fought as much with the mattock and spade as with the sword. It met all the calls upon it successfully until it came up against the Magyar horse archers and finally the heavily-armed Gothic cavalry in the later days of the Empire.

The disaster that eventually rendered the Roman legionary obsolete was suffered at the battle of Adrianople where the Emperor Valens was defeated by the Goths in A.D. 378. It was the most crushing defeat since the battle of Cannoe and was brought about in a similar way. While the infantry ranks on both sides were engaged the Gothic cavalry, which had been foraging at a distance, received news that the fight was in progress, and, galloping on to the field, rode the legionaries down and forced them into a tightly-packed, helpless mass. Only a few thousand were able to escape.

This Gothic cavalry was a formidable force. With body and limbs clad in mail, and armed with a heavy lance, they were irresistible. There was also added to their equipment a heavy battle-axe which could be thrown or wielded and would penetrate Roman armour and split the Roman shield.

After Adrianople the Roman Emperor, Theodosius, commenced to enlist in his service every Teutonic chief whom he could bribe to enter his service. These war bands obeyed their immediate commanders alone. Thus order in the Roman world eventually depended upon the purchased loyalty of these Teutonic chiefs.

Henceforth for a thousand years heavy cavalry was the ruling power in war.

The limited nature of the subject under discussion prevents us from examining the internal constitution of the Roman Empire which had its share of responsibility for the poor show put up against the German hordes and also for the attempt to digest them into the Empire.

The armoured knights of mediaeval times and their part in the building up of Feudalism will be discussed in the next contribution—that is, providing bombs do not interfere with the production of it !

War: Methods of Offence and Defence (Continued) (1940)

From the November 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

In Homeric times the principal warriors were protected by helmets and bronze shields lined with hide—that is to say those who could afford it were so protected, the rest of the fighters had little more than dogskin caps to protect them. Fighting at that time was by individual warriors supported by followers.

By the sixth century B.C. the work of the smith in producing iron weapons and armour had completely altered the method of fighting, and the growth of a landed and commercial aristocracy had produced the military phalanx formation. All armour and weapons were provided by the individual soldier, and the more prosperous citizens of each state armed themselves with long spears and protected themselves with breastplates, greaves and stout shields. In the phalanx the fighters were trained to move together as a body and stand together firmly against the most vigorous attacks. As the soldiers advanced the first lines would have their spears lowered ready to attack while those behind would hold their spears upright ready to be lowered when required. The whole solid body behind the attack would give impetus to the shock when the actual moment of impact occurred.

This formation required strength and fitness in the soldier to obtain the maximum result. It was the excellent Greek athletic training at the time that made of them such formidable soldiers when fighting in the phalanx, and the Spartans the most formidable opponents of all on account of their mode of living and all-round physical culture.

When the Athenians met the Persians at Marathon (B.C., 490) they used the Greek phalanx formation, but they varied the usual tactics. As a rule the whole line advanced equally, but the Persian superiority in numbers was so overwhelming that this method would have weakened the attack as the line would have been too thin.

The vast Persian Army disembarked near the plain of Marathon, but their equipment was far inferior to that of the Greeks, of whom they had previously had little experience. Their weapons consisted of bows and arrows and a short sword for close fighting. Their defensive armour was very poor, consisting principally of wicker shields— a poor defence against the powerfully propelled Greek spears.

The Greeks drew up in formation on the hills above Marathon and, when they realised that the help expected from Sparta would not reach them in time, they prepared to attack the Persians who had already formed into battle line.

The Athenian General Callimachus had already decided upon the new plan of attack. The hoplites (heavily armed soldiers) were placed on each wing and the less well armed and lighter forces were put in the centre of the line. As the line advanced it increased its pace so as to lose as few men as possible, to the Persian archers, and charged each wing with terrific force, putting them to flight. As had been expected, the Greek centre could not stand up against the Persians, but while the latter were disorganised from their victory they were surprised by the attack of the heavy Greek wings which, instead of following up the defeated Persians, had turned inwards upon the centre and annihilated it. The result was a complete and sweeping victory for the Greeks, but it was their heavy armour as much as their tactics that was responsible. The highly civilised Greeks then pursued their semi-barbarous opponents and slaughtered thousands of them before they could reach their ships.

The solid phalanx remained the deciding factor in warfare throughout antiquity. It was improved by an innovation of a Theban General Epaminondas. Before this, however, light armed troops and horsemen were added in increasing numbers. The lightly armed troops first became important during the Peloponnesian War and were the basis of the professional soldier—the mercenary who sold his fighting power for pay to the highest bidder. These troops needed far more training than the hoplite. To be successful they had to become accustomed to rapid movement without losing formation. When the Peloponnesian War ended the men who had formed these companies for years found, themselves useless for peace-time occupations, and the only vocation left them was permanent soldiering, so, like Xenophon’s “Ten Thousand” (who hired themselves out to a Persian pretender), they sold their fighting power to any Greek state that was prepared to pay for their use.

It is interesting to notice that the Greek horsemen who operated along with the heavy armed foot soldier at the time of Pericles were composed of a limited number of wealthy young men who could afford horses. So that the army was a faithful representative of the social division in Athenian society—the wealthy, the middle class, and the poor.

We will have to depart a little from strict chronology in order to make understandable the progress in the methods of warfare. Hence, before dealing with the rise and fall of Athenian power, we will explain the next and vital development, the Greek phalanx—the innovation of Epaminondas. Until his time Sparta had remained the supreme land power in the Mediterranean area.

Epaminondas was the leading general of a Greek state, Thebes, that hitherto had not played an important part in warfare. Under his direction, however, it became for ten years the principal power, with an invincible army. This invincibility was entirely due to the new manner of employing the phalanx. The principle of the method was to throw the whole weight of the attack upon one point in the enemy’s line while at the same time keeping the rest of the enemy’s forces occupied.

It is a principle that was borrowed by Alexander the Great, and has been successfully employed by victorious generals right up to the present day, as witness the operations of the German army in France and elsewhere.

Before this it had been the custom, as already mentioned, for the whole line of foemen, ten or twelve ranks deep, to advance at an even pace I against the opposing line. Epaminondas, however, massed his best troops on one wing in a column fifty ranks deep, which charged the opposing wing with tremendous weight. In the meantime the rest of the line advanced slowly to keep the enemy’s attention occupied, but did not make contact until the enemy’s lines were already destroyed. The principle was tried out successfully at the battle of Leuctra when the Spartan army was completely defeated and the king and his best troops killed.

This new device of launching an overwhelming force at one selected spot in an enemy’s lines was adopted by Philip of Macedon and his son, Alexander, and was eventually part of the tactics of the Romans.

Philip of Macedon increased the efficiency of the Theban phalanx by some improvements of his own which made the Macedonian phalanx the most formidable of the times. He had the spears of his warriors lengthened so that the first few ranks could come into action before the enemy could make contact. He also made far more use of cavalry than had been the practice previously. The subjection of Greece to Macedon and conquering swoop of Alexander into Asia is a matter of history well known to most people.

Reverting back to the rise of Athens to imperial power and its defeat in the Peloponnesian War, it is worth noting that the improved warship, which was the basis of Athenian naval power, was actually invented by the Corinthians, but their geographical position prevented them from reaping the full benefit from the invention.

The early Greek warship had ten to twenty oars on each side and was provided with a mast and square sail. The new warship had three banks of oars on each side, and, in addition, at the prow, a beak shod with iron just beneath the water line with which to ram an enemy ship.

As pointed out, Sparta was for centuries the invincible land power of Greece, but Athens, owing to its favourable situation in the Mediterranean, grew rich in commerce and built up a maritime empire. Its commerce made of its sailors first-rate seamen, and the addition of the new trireme (warship) gave it undisputed supremacy on the seas. When, therefore, Athens came to blows with Sparta the problem was to find a way of circumventing the invincible Spartan army as Athens was vulnerable by land. There was only one way open—an old one—and that was for the people to leave their farms to be devastated by the enemy and retire with their flocks and herds inside the city walls with the object of tiring out the besiegers.

In preparation for this eventuality Athens had already, under the guidance of Themistocles, built walls round the city and extended them to the Athenian port of Piraeus, about five miles away. Thus Athenian commerce was able to continue, and the citizens could draw food from abroad while remaining safely inside their walls. But one unlocked for eventuality defeated the plan that had been so carefully and confidently made, and that was the plague, the terrible scourge of the East.

The public places of Athens, the temple enclosures, and the spaces between the long walls were put at the disposal of the refugees to erect temporary shelters until such time as the Spartans, tired of waiting fruitlessly, would retire. Unfortunately for the Athenians, in the second year of the siege, the plague was introduced by some sailor from a foreign port. In the insanitary conditions of the crowded city it wrought havoc.

Before it declined, more than one-third of the population had fallen victims to it, and the rest were so badly shaken in morale that they were in poor condition to carry on the war. The plague, in fact, against which the highest and strongest walls were no protection, dealt the first hard blow in the series that eventually toppled the Athenian Empire; at the same time it showed a vulnerable spot in the defensive armour of city walls.

Before leaving the discussion of Greek warfare one amusing incident snows the relatively small scale of naval warfare in those days. In B.C.405, Lysander, a Spartan Admiral, had sailed to the Hellespont with the object of blockading Athens by stopping her supplies of corn. Athens sent a fleet of 180 ships after him. This fleet anchored at a place called Aegosopotaine. It was an open beach and one day, while most of the crew were on shore having their dinner, Lysander and his men rowed rapidly across and captured most of the Athenian fleet with hardly any resistance !

The next important development in warfare occurred in Roman times. We will discuss that in the next article.

Notes by the Way: Workers Better Fed 200 Years Ago (1940)

The Notes by the Way Column from the November 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

Workers Better Fed 200 Years Ago

Sir William Bragg in an interesting article on the kind of food we ought to eat and the possibility of supplying it to everyone in war-time (Times, October 26th, 1940), throws light on what has happened to the diet of the workers during the past two centuries—the centuries when we were reaping the supposed benefits of capitalism: —
“Professor Drummond, of the Ministry of Food, has recently made it clear that in this country our people were worse fed at the end of the nineteenth century than at any time within the preceding 200 years. White bread and meat in some plenty had become the principal foods of a great part of the population, and, though energy and warmth were thus supplied in sufficient quantities to appease hunger, a number of constituents necessary to health were no longer included in the popular diet. This was not so when milk and vegetables, fruit and wholemeal bread were more commonly consumed. The result of the change was the frequent occurrence of certain diseases, and the nation was horrified to find in 1914 that a considerable number of the people must be classified as C 3.”
—(The Times, October 26th, 1940.)
He goes on : —
“White bread and meat are the cheap foods when the demands of hunger are alone concerned, because they supply the energy and warmth which the body wants and asks for. Consequently, when there is very little money to spend on food, the body is allowed to go without the necessary aids to health and growth which the cheaper foods do not contain. Thus the poor suffer first when the proper supplies are not available, not because they go hungry but because they are insufficiently protected from disease and structural failures. From the national point of view the protective foods are the cheapest, because it is costly to maintain an unhealthy nation.”
Sir W. Bragg appears to think that the fault has been one of the population merely falling into bad habits, and he is gratified with “the effort now being made by the Minister of Food to bring milk and other protective foods within the reach of the poorest.” He does not touch on the fact that there have been and will continue to be the interests behind the food trades whose concern is not with working-class nutrition, but with making a profit. They have at their disposal powerful means of encouraging the population to buy their well-advertised products whether good or bad, and the small voice of any disinterested scientist or doctor has no chance of being heard against them.

It will, too, be noticed that Sir William Bragg is anxious that certain foods should be brought within the reach of the poorest—he has nothing to say about the problem which underlies it, the existence of rich and poor.

* * *

The Scientist and Accumulated Knowledge

Incidentally, Sir William Bragg wrote interestingly about the use the scientist makes of accumulated knowledge and experience : —
“Scientists have so many new tales to tell that they are often supposed to pay little regard to that which is old. It is a fundamental mistake. Science is built on the accumulation of experiences, and every scientist knows that he must not base his conclusions only on the last few experiments in the laboratory. He must take into account all that has been done before. History is to him a very real thing; tradition is priceless, because there is no substitute for it. Practice is based on the experiments of innumerable years, and even when there are no written records to be consulted, the behaviour of men, the thoughts they have turned over and sifted, the knowledge they have gained in ages of trial and error are all of value; they are not to be thrown aside in favour of the last galvanometer reading. When a scientist records a discovery he only makes a new entry in an old book.

Now in this matter of food the scientist is at the. present time insisting that certain old ways are best, and it is queer that he should be supposed to be trying to introduce fads that have no merit but novelty.”
* * *

“There Is No Morality”

The Daily Worker (October 28th, 1940) had a smug editorial under the above heading telling us that “there is no morality in power politics. The European system has always been based on the balance of power, with France perched between Britain and Germany—the two strongest imperialisms. After their own military defeat and the vital elimination of British influence on the Continent the French ruling class now enters the camp of their former enemy. Capital knows no frontiers….”

It comes ill from the Communist Party, which has defended the Russian Government’s power politics through thick and thin, to talk in this strain about other governments. The choicest passage in the editorial comes later when the Daily Worker says that “the Tory ‘anti-Fascists’ are still itching to switch the war, and they would take Hitler into their arms to-morrow if only he would honour his promises of Munich. And so would the dollar capitalists of America.”

The Daily Worker seems to forget that one principal reason why other people cannot take Hitler into their arms is that he is already in Stalin’s arms, but, apparently, in Communist eyes, hobnobbing with the Nazis is only a crime west of the Rhine.

Remembering Finland it is ironical to be told by the Daily Worker that it is the code of the detested “power politics” that “conflicts can be settled only by means of superior force and violence.”

* * *

Those Bus Tickets Again

It was recently suggested in these columns that if the powers that be really wanted to save paper, and if their vision were not limited by the capitalist necessity of profit making, they would not waste efforts printing thinner bus tickets, but would do without tickets. Now the “Londoner” in the Evening Standard has been thinking about the problem : —
“The reduction in the length of the London bus ticket has caused some people to suggest that London Transport should find means of using tickets a second time, or even of dispensing with tickets altogether.

But no one can explain how this is to be done and, while invention in most fields marches on, the majority of tickets used to-day on road vehicles all over the country are issued by a device that has known no major change since it was first made, some sixty years ago.

I am told that nearly £1,000,000 has been lost in efforts to establish various new types of issuing machines. One of the successful is the “Tim” printer used now on some London buses, but the old “bell punch” system remains pre-eminent.”
—(Evening Standard, October 22nd, 1940.)
For a very long time Socialists have been trying to persuade the workers that while capitalism has provided the incentive for much technical and economic development, it now stands in the way of the development of society. Perhaps something that seemed unnecessary or even Utopian under peace conditions, in the eyes of men and women still steeped in tradition, may be more easy to grasp under the stress of war. Under a sane, economical system of society road vehicles and rail transport systems would exist simply to convey people to their work and their places of entertainment, etc. Consider then the absurdity of a social system which permits the problem of transport to be cluttered up with financial considerations and the employment of an army of men and women engaged in checking and counter-checking the payment of fares, and generally in safeguarding the interests of a body of shareholders who own and control what are mistakenly known as “public” services. Even under the stress of travelling to and from work during the war the companies are still concerned with the problem of profits. Consider the absurdity of the disclosure that “nearly £1,000,000 has been lost in efforts to establish various new types of issuing machines.” Consider the absurdity of the following : —
“Many people have been told that the little confetti-like circles of ticket that fall into the bus conductor’s machine are counted as a check on receipts. And most of them think that it is not true. But it is true—up to a point.

The scraps of paper are counted if the conductor’s takings do not agree with the serial numbers on his unissued tickets when he goes off duty.

Generally the clippings are emptied out of the “punches” and heaped together to become pulp.”
And all of this puerile business proceeds in what the Labour Party calls the “socialised” London Passenger Transport Board.

* * *

The Army and The Workers

Readers of the Socialist Standard over a number of years will remember several occasions when Communists have argued that the S.P.G.B. is wrong in holding that when a Socialist majority is in control of the political machinery this will also give control over the armed forces. One of their arguments has always been that the army, both rank and file and officers, would be out of sympathy with Socialism and would assist reactionary elements to prevent the majority from democratically and peacefully introducing Socialism. In particular they have argued that the officers would challenge the democratic system. In the light of this controversy it is interesting to read the following views expressed in the Soviet newspapers. The summary was published in the Times (October 7th, 1940), from their New York correspondent: —
“New York, October 6th
Soviet newspapers published last night what foreign correspondents in Moscow were permitted to say were “significant,” approving references to working-class participation in Great Britain’s war efforts. They were contained in a two-column message of the Tass Agency from London, which praised British defences and the discipline, moral, living conditions, and social conditions in the British Army. The article, in giving an eye-witness account of a British anti-aircraft battery in action, reported that most members of the battery were trade unionists and of working-class origin. This, it declared, was “unlike the last war when few trade unionists were among the British soldiers.” It was unlike the last war, too, it added, in that British officers were now drawn from all walks of life and were not professional soldiers.”
* * *

Without Comment

Mr. William Hickey, in the Daily Express (October 22nd, 1940), has the following: —
“A worker in a Torquay hotel (“which of course might bias my outlook,” he says) sends this choice there’s-a-war-on cutting from a local paper: —

” Dog nurse wanted. Woman to take care of small dog, partially paralysed. Vet. attending daily. Only those who have some experience & knowledge of this type of case need apply. …”

I feel sorry for this dog’s obsessed owner ; sorrier still for the dog. Wouldn’t it be best to coin a phrase & put him out of his misery ?”
* * *

The Case of Prince Starhemberg

The following report of some heated questions and answers in the House of Commons is taken from the News Chronicle (October 24th, 1940): —
Captain Balfour, Under-Secretary for Air, replying to Mr. Wedgwood (Lab., Newcastle-under-Lyme), said that Prince von Starhemberg held the rank of lieutenant in the Free French Air Force, and received £1 4s. 11d. per day in pay and allowances.

Mr. Wedgwood: Is it not rather indecent that this man, who assassinated democracy in Austria, should now be allowed to fight on our side and be paid by us in a war against all that Starhemburg has stood for ?

Captain Balfour: I reject wholeheartedly the hon. member’s suggestion. We owe a debt of gratitude to anyone who risks his life in the air to fight on our side.

Mr. Woodburn (Lab., Clackmannon and Eastern) : Is there any suggestion that we are going to impose this man on Austria at the end of the war ?

Mr. Shinwell (Lab., Seaham) : Supposing his name were Starhemberg, instead of Prince von Starhemberg, would it make any difference ?

Captain Balfour : No. None at all.

Mr. Wedgwood : Why does not he allow other aliens from Austria who hate Nazism to fight ? Why keep them in prison ? Why allow this scoundrel to fight for democracy? (Loud cries of “Order!”) I want an answer.

At this point the Speaker intervened and the next question was called.”

* * *

The Times and the Causes of War

On October llth the Times published the first of two articles on “Fallacies of Nazi Finance,” written by an unnamed correspondent. He touched, incidentally, on the world scramble for markets, and had the following to say about its relationship to war : —
“Beyond doubt one of the fundamental causes of this war has been the unrelaxing efforts of Germany since 1918 to secure wide enough foreign markets to straighten her finances at the very time when all her competitors were forced by their own war debts to adopt exactly the same course. Continuous friction was inevitable.”
The Times correspondent’s main concern was to show that “Hitler has not advanced Germany one step towards the solution of this problem,” and he did not go on to the still wider problem of how to get rid of this struggle for markets. Socialists, having become aware of the facts long before they were discovered by the Times, know quite well that the problem is utterly insoluble short of introducing Socialism.

* * *

Do We Want to Legislate for the Talented or for Everybody

In an article which otherwise showed a good deal of insight into the real nature of the poverty problem the Reverend W. Rowland Jones (Daily Herald, October 28th, 1940), describes the “better world” that he wants to see as one in which “the backward son of the rich” shall not be able to pass through a sheltered life “to a position of responsibility just because he is a son of the rich,” and in which “the brilliant son of the slum” shall not be hedged in and “kept out of the advantages of education just because he is a son of the slum.”

The idea behind this is to be found mixed up with all the reforms demanded by the Labour Party, it is the idea that attractive careers should be open to the talented, not kept as a preserve for the rich and influential. It is naturally a very good idea in the eyes of those who think they are talented, but thwarted in their striving for success in the world of to-day. It is not a Socialist idea. Giving a privileged place to one select group means relegating the rest of the population to an inferior position. Socialism, on the other hand, will give every human being access to the means of life. Socialists are not concerned with enabling a selected few of the poor to climb into the ranks of the rich, but with abolishing both rich and poor.

Mr. Jones should consider the problem again, and particularly consider what he means by his own phrase that the new world “shall have no poor and rich.”

* * *

Really, Mr. MacDonald ! 

Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, Minister of Health, spoke recently about the future health of the population. The Times reports his speech as follows: “He insisted that the lessons taught by the war must be remembered in peace. One of these was the stimulating effect on their physical well-being of sending children from the cities to the country; after the war the children in cities must be able to draw fresh draughts of life from that source. Another lesson was that there must ! be adequate consumption of the right kinds of food.”—(Times, October 18th, 1940.)

Obviously the Times noticed nothing odd about the speech, for they did not make any critical comment. Yet the speech is odd and incomplete. Why, in the past, have poor children not been sent to the country and not been given enough of the right kind of food. Mr. MacDonald implies that fathers of children did not know, having had a war to teach them, or if they did know they forgot, and in future they must not forget. And if it wasn’t the fathers who forgot then it was someone else, perhaps the Government, or the rich. The truth is that most of the fathers had a very good idea about it all and did not forget. The Government and the rich did not forget (they remembered about their own holidays and food, anyway), they just weren’t concerned. The fathers failed to take the necessary step because they were poor, and for no other reason. It is therefore up to Mr. MacDonald to tell us precisely what he and his fellow Ministers are doing to abolish poverty.

* * *

The Complacent Bishop

Bishop Hensley Henson, Canon of Westminster, preached a sermon at Westminster Abbey on the anniversary of the declaration of war. He touched the social reforms that were introduced since the last war.
“The last War had stirred deeply the social conscience of the British people, and perhaps one reason why the nation was so perilously slow to realise the fell significance of Hitlerism was its fear that war would arrest the salutary movement for social reformation which, in the interval between 1918 and 1939, had effected such great improvement in the life of the people and brought new hope into the darkest places of industrial society. The determination to fight was accompanied, and in some sense conditioned, by a determination to continue and complete the effort to re-order British social and economic life on more reasonable and equitable lines. The combination of these two objects—defence and reform—was deeply significant, for it separated sharply the British ideal of a rightly ordered society from the ideals of Moscow and Berlin, which were either coldly indifferent or professedly antagonistic to Christian faith and morals.”— (The Times, September 4th, 1940.)
The complacent view of “such great improvement in the life of the people” is hard to square with the well-known facts of poverty in the distressed areas and elsewhere. A few weeks after the sermon was preached a letter was published in the Manchester Guardian (September 24th, 1940) from Mr. Eddie Williams, Chairman of the Children’s Nutrition Council (Wales). The following is taken from the letter, which dealt with investigations “into the income and expenditure of some of the poorer sections of the community” :
1. Number in family seven—father and mother and children aged 14, 13, 11, 9, and 5.
2. Income £2 5s. unemployment assistance.
3. Expenses: Rent 12s., coal 2s. 6d., light 2s., clothing club 3s., insurance 1s.

The parents say : “What we are receiving is not sufficient to clothe and shoe the lot of us and to feed the children and ourselves all the week. Often there is nothing in reserve in the larder. We cannot afford to buy milk; and butter is too dear. Three of the children get free meals in the school feeding centre, and we are thankful.”

1. Number in family seven—father and mother and children aged 26 (a cripple), 13, 12, 10, and 9,
2. Income £2 5s. from unemployment assistance and the cripple on relief just enough to keep himself.
3. Expenses: Rent 11s., coal 2s. 6d., light 2s., clothing 4s., insurance 1s. 6d.

The parents say they are unable to use meat coupons because meat and bacon are too dear. Their children are without boots most of the year because boots are out of their reach. They buy one pint of milk per day and two tins of milk a week. The children in school have free dinners. Other instances were also given.”
It is true that these investigations were made after the war had been in progress some time, but even if the families had received the same income before the war their standard of living must have been deplorably low.

* * *

How To Win Elections in Rumania

Mr. Noel Panter, Balkans correspondent of the Daily Telegraph (October 17th, 1940), tells how Rumanian and Hungarian peasants were induced to vote for Nazi-minded politicians: —
“Nazi propaganda in the Hungarian provinces is of the most blatant type.

It was in Rumania that M. Goga, who became Premier, gained electoral support by proposing to bring the printing presses and royal mint from Bucharest to the village market-place so that the peasants’ pockets should be filled with crisp 1.000-lei notes as these rolled off the machines, “instead of those officers and courtiers who have the advantage now.”

To-day the Hungarian peasantry are being told that when a Nazi Government is in power pengoe notes will be scattered about the streets and the millennium will have arrived, with the wealthy being compelled to share with the poor. The benevolent Greater German Reich, they are also told, will assure work and plenty for all.”
This sounds very childish—until we remember the Social Credit Movement and the way the Alberta Election was won by Dr. Aberhart with his promise of “dividends for all.”

* * *

Candid Mr. De Valera

It is striking to contrast the above with Mr. De Valera’s gloomy words to his supporters : —
“The Prime Minister, who, when in opposition, had painted a rosy picture of what he could attain if given a majority, admitted that the problem was disconcertingly difficult. Indeed, he went so far as to say that it defied solution, and that it is an apparently incurable ” blot on our social organisation.”

. . . The working classes must produce more and, if necessary for this result, work harder. The trade unions must cease to practise restriction of output and must be prepared to accept a lower standard of living.
—(Economist, September 7th, 1940.)
Mr. De Valera also stated, according to the Economist report, that “Nationalisation of industry or the manipulation of credit are incapable of improving the situation.”

At least the Irish workers will not be able to complain in future that De Valera has given them less than he now promises.
Edgar Hardcastle

Blogger's Note:
This column was actually unsigned but it was obviously by Hardcastle, who was the usual writer of this column. It just happened to be the case that Hardcastle - who was on the editorial committee of the Standard - already had three signed articles in this issue of the Standard, and my guess is that his usual signature ('H') was left off this column because it didn't want to give the (true) impression that he'd written the majority of this issue.

Roumanian Ripples (1940)

From the October 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

"The Balkans Have No Future.” Karl Marx

The River Danube is one of the most important rivers in Europe, and the desire on the part of Germany for possession of this waterway is closely connected with the cause of the war.

As pointed out in a previous issue of the Socialist Standard, the Rhine and the Danube have been connected by a canal so that boats can go from the North to the Black Sea: the German capitalists desire to enlarge this canal and also to cut a canal from Bucharest in Roumania to Salonika in Greece. This would enable ships to travel from the North Sea to the Mediterranean without having to go into the Black Sea and pass through the Dardanelles.

It is because Hitler is determined to have full control of these waterways that he is being so vigorously opposed. With these in his possession he could utilise the wealth of all Southern Europe in the interests of German capitalism. His object is to turn France into a producer of raw materials for the benefit of German industry, and to compel all the countries in South-Eastern Europe to dance to the same tune. The complete control of the main transportation system would go a long way to enable Hitler to succeed in his object of dominating Europe. A glance at the map will show how Roumania occupies a strategic position of the highest importance in the present conflict.

Nearly 80 per cent. of the people of Roumania are engaged in agriculture and kindred occupations, but there are a number of important towns. Between the peasant and the townsman there is rivalry; the merchant to a great extent holds the whip hand over the peasant, who must sell to and buy from the former.

Low-grade capital is always at the mercy of high-grade capital, and as the peasant is the sufferer in Roumania he supports the Iron Guard and the Nazi Party.

King Carol has recently abdicated and fled along with the lady to whom he is apparently more attached than to his wife. The Iron Guard were strongly opposed to the lady above referred to, not so much on account of her Jewish blood, but principally because she is said to receive diplomatic pin money from a country outside Roumania.

In the Economist (September 21) we have the following: —
“Those who argue that with the dismemberment of Roumania the sphere of possible agreement between Germany and the Soviets would be all but exhausted, can point to the Danube question to prove their point. In spite of Russia’s demand that no Danubian question should be settled without her, and her sharp reminder that as an interested party she expected to be consulted, Germany has taken the law into her own hands, and at the recent Danubian Conference the representatives of Germany, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Jugo-Slovia, Roumania and Bulgaria agreed to do away with the International Danube Commission, under the presidency of a German, Herr Martius. German control is assured, since only the President has the power to convene a session. An Iron Gates Committee, representing Jugo-Slavia and Roumania, is also to be set up under German presidency. Thus the Soviets have received a very obvious and very serious rebuff, and for the first time since the signing of the Russo-German Pact an obvious difference of opinion has been made public. Germany’s attitude to Russia has not suffered a serious change, since it always completely opportunistic. It is merely the circumstances that have altered. Russia has now advanced to the utmost limit compatible with Germany’s Eastern interests. And Germany is now busy playing her cards in Italy and Spain, where her connection with Russia has always been suspect. But Germany will find it more difficult to be rid of Russia than it was to invite her in. Control of Bessarabia gives the Russians control of the Kilia channel; the most-used outlet of the Danubian Delta. Their decisions on Danubian traffic can not only be formulated but also enforced. And Germany is in no better position to risk a clash with Russia than she was a year ago. Neither will thwart the other to the point of an open estrangement, but the events of last week suggest that the elements of a permanent divergence of opinion are there.”
We do not see the Economist attempting to analyse Russia’s moves in Bulgaria; it is interesting to speculate what is likely to be the effect on Turkish and Grecian politics if Bulgaria, stimulated by Russia, demands the return of the territory formerly “belonging to her bordering on the AEgean Sea; the Balkans is full of combustible material.

The strange part of the present situation is that the Balkans, generally at war with one another, are now at peace.

It is a precarious peace, however, and exists solely because those engaged in hostilities (both sides) do not desire war in the Balkans just now.

As things stand the Nazis can do as they like in Roumania. All hopes of genuine solidarity have been abandoned and the enforced unity of a single party—and that party one which in normal times could not once achieve a parliamentary majority—has thwarted all party concentration. The Iron Guard is the sole legal and political party, and in General Antonescu’s new Cabinet Horla Sima, leader of the extremist faction of the Iron Guard, is deputy Prime Minister—four ministers and five out of nine under-secretaries are influential.

We can see, as yet, no sign of a clash between Russia and Germany; it may come, but at present with some writers the wish is father to the thought. Russia goes out of her way to make things as irksome for the enemies of Germany as she dare without exciting comment. Note the action of her Communist agents here and in U.S. In the latter country the Nazis and the Communists propagate the same policy—the United States must keep out of the war.

It is true, however, that the Soviet Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs recently informed the German Ambassador in Moscow that Soviet Russia as a state bordering on the Danube “must take part in deciding questions that concern the Danube and that the Soviet Government expects to receive all relevant information regarding the Vienna Conference of experts on Danubian questions of International concern.”

The hope of Socialists is beyond the war, and the object of the ruling class is to devise some ways and means of preventing the working-class carrying out their historic mission at the end of the present conflict. The Editor of the “Nineteenth Century” has his ear to the ground and he can see what is coming. Note carefully what he says :
“Broadly speaking, England should assume the conscious leadership of the potential European revolution and give her support of every subversive or revolutionary movement against German domination. There is no sign of revolt amongst the Germans themselves, but if they meet with failure in the field they will be threatened with revolt at home. England cannot assume revolutionary leadership in Europe if she does not herself accept profound social changes which will cumulatively achieve as much as violent revolution can achieve. But that she should proceed any other way than by organic reform, that she should undergo violent upheaval can only be the earnest wish of Hitler and his Allies. Organic change that will deepen national unity by promoting greats social justice and eliminating excessive individual greed and privilege in the bitter need and heavy sacrifice which the war will impose is essential to ultimate victory. Without it England will have no lasting inner strength and no real authority in Europe. Without it she will be unable to win not only the war, but also the peace. Nothing must be allowed to weaken her effort on the land, on the sea and in the air. Necessary as it is for her to promote the anti-German revolution everywhere it will not win the war.

“The war will be won first by defeating the Italians, then the German armed forces in battle.

“Defeat will accelerate the advent of revolution, but defeat must come first. Every Italian or German reverse inspires and fortifies the revolutionary forces and weakens Italian and German resistance to them. But the revolution itself will be the consequence, not the cause of defeat. Defeat once it comes will be clinched by revolution or even by the menace of revolution. Revolution can help decisively to accelerate the final overthrow of German power.

“For England the European revolution is a means to an end. It is not in itself desirable as revolutionary romantics pretend. It is an accessory, an important one, but, nevertheless, an accessory to the action of the armed forces, a means to achieve not a ‘new order’ or a ‘better Europe’ (except in so far as Europe will be renewed and made better by the removal of German domination) but the one war aim, which must be achieved at all costs, to break the power of Germany, and the one peace aim—which no ideal or Utopian proposals of any sort should be allowed to obscure—to keep the power of Germany broken.”
The grave-digging by the capitalist class goes busily on.
Charles Lestor

Notes by the Way: No Labour or Materials for Deep Bomb-Proof Shelters (1940)

The Notes by the Way Column from the October 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

No Labour or Materials for Deep Bomb-Proof Shelters

Long before the war was entered into Professor Haldane and others were warning the Government that air raids on the scale witnessed in Abyssinia and Spain would necessitate deep bomb-proof shelters being built. On various grounds those whose job it was supposed to be to provide protection rejected the demand. Now that the raids are here and people who can find no safety or sleep aboveground are crowding into the underground railways at night the Government finds that in any event “we have not the materials or labour for effectual burrowing.”—(Manchester Guardian, September 24th, 1940.)

Some pertinent comments have been made on this belated discovery, one by Mr. Lloyd George and others by the City Editor of the Daily Herald, and Mr. R. R. Stokes, Labour M.P. for Ipswich : —
“In a newspaper article to-day Mr. Lloyd George describes as “sheer nonsense” the Government view that deep shelters cannot be provided at present. He points out that the Spaniards dug their deep shelters at the time when they were actually being bombed, that we have 800,000 unemployed to meet the labour problem, and that we have enough material to make the roofs of the shelters able to bear the pressure upon them. Mr. Lloyd George is too old a campaigner to make such statements without sound evidence up his sleeve.

Nor is he the only one. Mr. R. R. Stokes, the Labour member for Ipswich, himself an engineer, is to ask Sir John Anderson whether he is aware that competent engineers believe we could dig deep bombproof tunnels for the whole of London’s population at a cost of £120,000,000. If such statements can be substantiated, and particularly if it can be shown that we have enough materials, the Government will find itself in a weak position, for it has already abandoned by implication its view that the principle of deep shelters is wrong. It did that when it countenanced the closing of the Holborn-Aldwych Underground line, which ran its last train last night. If it is right to turn this tunnel over to the public as a deep shelter, why not make others ?”—(Manchester Guardian, September 23rd.)
This is what the City Editor of the Daily Herald has to say about the scarcity of cement: —
“One of the authorities’ professed reasons for not supplying London with more underground shelters is an alleged shortage of building materials, particularly cement.

To tell the public flatly that cement supplies cannot be obtained is highly misleading. Our cement output is large, and the Government itself can and does decide how much should be used for what purpose.

If it wished to use a certain quota for shelters, it could do so.

Secondly, the public should realise that our cement manufacturing capacity has been restricted for years past by the Cement Ring—which includes the great combine, Associated Portland Cement. The Chamberlain Government allowed this ring persistently to limit our output capacity in the interests of high prices and profits.

For instance, in the summer of 1939 Associated Portland Cement bought a cement factory at Hartlepool and closed it down on the ground that its capacity was “redundant.”

In the previous November Lord Wolmer, chairman of the Cement Makers’ Federation, made a speech loudly lamenting the “surplus capacity” in the industry, and the “influx of newcomers.” This speech was believed to have succeeded in preventing a big new cement plant being put up.

And now the people are told that there is not enough cement for proper shelters.

Apologists for the ring, though admitting its restriction policy, argue that the industry would have greatly increased its capacity before the war if Mr. Chamberlain and Sir John Anderson had been willing to place firm long-term contracts for cement to be used for shelter purposes. Even this our pre-war Government refused to do.”—(Daily Herald, September 24th, 1940.)

* * *

The Land of “Socialism”— Russia
“The first sentences under the recent decree making directors, engineers and others liable to imprisonment for defective production were announced here to-day. Three men were sentenced to five, six and eight years respectively on charges of producing faulty condensers.
A decree provides that persons charged with loafing or leaving work will be tried by a judge alone, not, as hitherto, by a judge and a factory delegate.”— Reuter.—(News Chronicle, August 17th, 1940.)

* * *

“Intelligent Life”

From an interview with the Astronomer Royal:
“The Astronomer Royal declares that vegetation exists on Mars. He affirms that intelligent life may have been there in the past, but there is no indication of it now.

So the conclusion of the Astronomer Royal is this. Conditions in which intelligent life was possible have existed on Mars. They will exist in Venus. But in all our planetary system at this moment, the Earth is the only place where we can be sure intelligent life does exist”.—(Sunday Express, September, 1940.)

* * *

Two Views of “Hospitality”

From the London Correspondent of the Manchester Guardian : —
“Meanwhile Londoners continue to use the Underground stations as shelters in spite of official discouragement. There is really strong feeling behind this, and not only in East London, where the lack of deep public shelters is most felt. Everybody with whom I discuss the matter is filled with admiration and pity for the people who come so far and endure such discomfort to sleep in peace.

I cannot remember any time for years when there has been among the luckier section of the population here such a vivid realisation of the social injustice which gives the less lucky section rickety houses in which no safety can be found and rickety incomes which give them no hope of escape to something safer. Middle-class indifference to working-class hardship has always been mostly a matter of ignorance, but there is no ignorance in this case. All of us know now what it feels like to be lonely and exposed in air raids. The demand for deep shelters and decent shelters comes from us all.”— (Manchester Guardian, September 23rd.)
From a letter to the News Chronicle: —
“On Wednesday at 2 a.m., with a party of about 30 people, mostly women residents and servants from a neighbouring street, I was evacuated at a moment’s notice to a luxury hotel in Park Lane. Many of us were in night clothes ; all of us had had a shock. The hotel lounge was crowded with people in evening dress, smoking, eating and drinking. No one took the slightest notice of us except a hall porter who, when approached, told us to sit on the staircase. No comfort or refreshment of any kind was offered, and it was with difficulty, after half an hour’s insistence, that I was able to buy some cigarettes.

What would have been our reception in an East End home ?
Mary Glasgow. S.W.3.
P.S.—I was wrong in saying “no comfort or refreshment was offered.” At one point a gentle elderly lady came with a bag of dog biscuits asking whether there was any animal with us.
—(News Chronicle, September 23rd.)

* * *

Dean Inge on Hitler and Napoleon
“There is a delicious story in John Bailey’s Diaries. An old don was presented to Napoleon during the Peace of Amiens. On his return his friends asked him what he thought of the Emperor.

“Oh,” he replied, “you could see that he is not a University man!” That was the donnish way of saying that he was not a gentleman ; Wellington said the same.

Napoleon, though a genius, was certainly a cad. He was utterly unscrupulous and immoral. His soldiers admired him, but he never made a friend. The two men with whom he could not dispense, Talleyrand and Fouché, both betrayed him, as he knew they would. His two wives were as unfaithful to him as he was to them. He left a legacy to a man who tried to kill Wellington. “A shabby thing to do,” said the Duke.

Nevertheless, he never descended to such depths of villainy as Hitler. For he was Emperor of the French, and the French, though they have their faults like other people, are not savages.

Hitler, whose real name, if he has a name, for his father was a bastard, is Schicklgruber, is a criminal of a rather uncommon type.

He is an absolutely shameless liar, but he is also a wholesale murderer. On June 30th, 1934, he organised a massacre of inconvenient friends, who had raised him to power. It is believed that about 700 were killed. Since then, he is responsible for the deaths of innumerable Jews, Communists, Poles, and others. He is the perfect criminal.”
— (Evening Standard, September 23rd, 1940.)
Napoleon, we notice, was immoral. The Dean curiously does not mention Napoleon’s conqueror, Nelson, in this connection. Incidentally, it may be observed that it has pleased various prominent men in recent times to gloss over the vices of Hitler and his ally, Mussolini. Lord Rothermere, for example, was for years an admirer of and apologist for Hitler. In 1933 (Daily Mail, July 10th, 1933), Rothermere was saying : —
“The world’s greatest need to-day is realism. Hitler is a realist. He has saved his country from the ineffectual leadership of hesitating, half-hearted politicians. He has infused into its national life the unconquerable spirit of triumphant youth.”
Six months later when he was running his “Hurrah! for the Blackshirts” campaign, and telling Daily Mail readers to join Mosley’s organisation (Daily Mail, January 15th, 1934), Germany and Italy were held out as models to be followed.

* * *

Pointed Remarks about Lord Rothermere

A correspondent, writing to the News Chronicle (September 20th, 1940), makes some telling observations : —
“In view of the fuss raised about Gracie Fields one notes with interest the fact that Viscount Rothermere is residing quietly in America. Was it not this reactionary who proclaimed not so long ago that Hitler was “no ogre” but, on the contrary, “exuded good fellowship,” and oh that there was “no man in Europe in whose judgment he (Rothermere) would sooner trust ?”

Did not his Lordship, on one famous occasion instruct his readers to vote for Mosley ? Funny, that the noble Viscount should not happen to be in England in these exhilarating days !

* * *

Constructive Franco and Generous Balbo

This game of praising the dictators still goes on. When Marshal Balbo died in an air battle in Lybia (or was got out of the way by Mussolini as other reports have it) Mr. Ward Price, in the Daily Mail (July 1st, 1940), ended a flattering article on him with the words: —
“A frank, generous spirit, who lived dangerously, Marshal Italo Balbo was an adversary of the kind that Britons instinctively respect.”
and the Times (September 25th, 1940), could write about Franco’s “wise policy of reconstruction” in Spain.

The Manchester Guardian (July 1st, 1940), had this comment to make about “chivalrous” Balbo : —
“He was, in fact, one of those Fascist Rases, or “bosses,” who in the period of the “March to Rome” fought for Fascism and carried it to success by the most brutal and unscrupulous means against its political opponents. Cesare Rossi and Finzi said that Balbo organised the bludgeoning of the dissident Fascist deputy Misuri when he tried to expose abuses in the Fascist party. Certainly it was Balbo, the Ras of Ferrara and head of the Fascist Militia, who in August, 1923, sent the notorious order to the Fascist Secretary of his city about how to deal with some Socialists who had been acquitted after being kept in prison without trial for two and a half years. They were to be got out of Ferrara, but if they persist in remaining, thus causing unrest, they must be bludgeoned, not to excess, but methodically, until they make up their minds to go. . . . The police will do well to persecute them by frequent arrests, every week at least, … if there should be any beatings (which will be conducted “in style”) there is no desire to see prosecutions instituted.”
As for Franco’s wise policy of reconstruction in Spain, Mr. William Munday, for many years Daily Mail correspondent in Spain, writes as follows : —
“It is dangerous to think aloud in the cafés, and Franco has carried out a big political clean-up. Spies are everywhere, ready to inform on the indiscreet. There is no room in the gaols for all the political prisoners, so they are left at large and collected as wanted.

All roads out of Madrid are well policed, and travellers are closely scrutinised by keen-eyed Civil Guards, who stop cars and demand papers. Railway tickets are only sold against safe conduct permits.

The result of all this is that Madrid is a vast rabbit warren in which are hidden hundreds of enemies of the regime, unable to escape. The police drag-net makes its daily haul.

That is Spain to-day. Spaniard against Spaniard. Families split up.”—(Daily Mail, August 6th, 1940.)
If Franco is trying to improve this desperate situation in Spain he certainly ought to; he waged civil war, and was largely responsible for causing it.

* * *

Russian Oil and German Bombers

Although it is reported (News Chronicle, September 4th, 1940) that Russian shipyards are building numerous tankers for transporting Russian oil from Black Sea ports into Germany, it may be that so far comparatively little Russian oil has been supplied to Germany. On the other hand, the Russo-German Pact was partly designed to increase the supply of materials to Germany, and it was said that on the anniversary of the Pact the Russian Press emphasised the value of the Pact “as a weapon against Britain’s blockade.”-(Daily Herald, August 24th, 1940.)

While this is going on the Communists indignantly protest when British oil firms go on supplying oil to Japan to be used in the war against China. The principle is the same in both cases, the sordid capitalist principle that all trade, including trade in means of destruction, is legitimate. This is not a principle that Socialists have ever adopted or condoned.

* * *

The Future of Gold

The Nazi Minister of National Economy, Funk, in a recent speech in Berlin, boasted that “gold will play no role in future as a basis for European currencies,” and again “a currency does not depend on its gold cover, but on the value which the State gives it,” but the Nazi Government’s actions show how little it believes in Funk’s doctrine, for Gerrmany has gone to extreme lengths in the past year to seize gold in all the occupied countries.

Similarly the Russian Government is now disputing with the British and American Governments the possession of gold held in London and New York on behalf of the Baltic countries overrun by Russia. Molotov, in a recent speech, addressed angry words to both Governments about “these illegal acts.”— (Daily Worker, August 2nd, 1940.)

It all shows how little the Russian and German Governments believe in the possibility of capitalism being overthrown as a result of the war, and how little they believe even in the likelihood that a better basis can be found for capitalist trade than the gold basis.

* * *

Further Progress of the Red Army
“Marshals of the Red Army are in future to wear a five-pointed star consisting of 31 diamonds in a gold and platinum mounting. The largest of the diamonds will be one of 2.62 carats.”—Reuter.—(Manchester Guardian, September 4th, 1940.)

* * *

From a Communist Manifesto Secretly Circulated in Italy

The Daily Worker (July 8th, 1940), published a manifesto of the Italian Communists. It is interesting to see that they at least have not been taken in by Nazi-Fascist talk of the need for “Lebensraum.”
“The Fascist potentates declare that we must win supremacy in the Mediterranean, that we must defeat British plutocracy so as to put an end to our poverty and tribulations. What a brazen lie ! Our country possesses sufficient natural riches to satisfy the lives of our people.

The overthrow of British plutocracy is the job of the British people. Our job is to overthrow the Italian Fascist plutocracy who, like vampires, suck the blood of our people.”
The manifesto does not contain any of the specious doctrines by which the Communists here and in Russia justified the invasion of Finland and the Baltic States.

* * *

What is Happening in France? A Question to the Communists

The Communist Party is in rather a dilemma about happenings in France. On the one side the Communists declare that the Communist movement in unoccupied France is strong and popular, and on the other that the Petain Government is very weak. Why then do not the French Communists put their “mass movement” theories into practice and seize power ? Who is there to stop them? Not Petain, for “the Petain Government’s authority is extremely weak” (World News and Views, August 24th, 1940), while “there is widespread opposition to the Petain regime, especially among the industrial workers, demobilised soldiers and unemployed, in those areas where the Communist Party’s influence was strong before the war, e.g., Toulouse, Lyons and Marseilles.”

Similar information of “serious and widespread popular unrest” is reported in the Daily Worker (August 16th, 1940).

If, then, Petain could not stop such widespread unrest, who is stopping it ? Who is preventing the Communists from carrying out their usual plan of taking over the Government. Can it be Stalin or Stalin’s friend, Hitler?

Truly a curious situation.
Edgar Hardcastle

War: Methods of Offence and Defence (1940)

From the October 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

A few years ago an English Prime Minister, when discussing the question of defence against enemy aircraft, made the statement, “the bomber will always get through.” Recent experience, both here and in Germany, would seem to give support to this view. Yet in spite of the way we have suffered from the night bomber in the past few weeks, the time will surely come when this menace, in its present form, will be met and will have become out of date. This is the lesson of history.

The history of the art of warfare is the history of advances in the technique of attack, followed by the discovery of defensive measures that caught up with it, or a new form of attack that nullified the old. Mankind does not set itself insoluble problems. Each new instrument of warfare has simply been a fresh problem for the opposition to solve, and they have always solved it, from the time of the flint-headed spear of cave man to the appearance of the explosive bomb of the airman.

We proposed examining some of the principal means adopted for offence and defence from antiquity to the present day with some remarks on their origin and social effects.

It may be as well at the beginning to explain in what way we distinguish the offensive from the defensive methods of warfare. The distinction can only be broad and arbitrary because from one point of view a spear, for instance, is both a weapon of offence and defence. However, for the purpose we have in view, we will define defence as weapons, armour or other means adopted to resist or outwit the attack of the supreme offensive weapon of the moment. For example, shields, armour, walls, catapults, cannons, etc., are such types of defensive means. In time, of course, the defensive means itself becomes a method of offence, for instance, catapults and cannon.

We will begin our study by very briefly examining the method of warfare followed before the advent of civilisation. It is not necessary to go deeply into this early period because organised warfare only really came in with the beginning of civilisation, and has remained with us ever since.

The earliest means of attack, after man had really become man, was the flint-headed spear, wooden club and, perhaps, the boomerang of old stone age man who lived in the early period of savagery. These implements were less used against man himself than against the wild beasts he hunted and who hunted him. The only thing that could be described as defensive armour in those days was the roughly prepared skins of wild beasts that man wore as clothing. Sleeping in caves, under pieces of bark propped against trees, or in rude bough huts early man, like the animals, depended principally on his alert senses and his agility for his safety.

Towards the end of the period of savagery man made a great step forward in offensive methods; he discovered how to make and use the bow and arrow. This made him a regular hunter as opposed to his previous existence, which was mainly that of a food gatherer.

The bow and arrow was the weapon of supremacy for the ethnic period of savagery. Its superiority over the club and spear is obvious. The quarry could be stalked and killed from a distance. The group first possessing it was for a time placed in a supreme position, as against the users of club and spear.

In the next ethnological period, the period of barbarism, a tremendous discovery was made, one that influenced the course of social development for centuries, and fundamentally affected the prosecution of war as well as everything else. This discovery was the smelting of iron ore. Soon the iron sword replaced the bow and flint-headed arrow as the weapon of supremacy.

The new ploughshare of iron not only developed the art of corn growing, it also tied man down firmly to settled habitations, and the flimsy stockaded village of moving people—the defence against the bow and arrow—gave place to the walled town, with turrets and battlements.

At first the walled town gave complete security. On the alarm being sounded of the approach of hostile forces, the inhabitants left their fields, carrying with them portable goods and driving their livestock into the shelter of the walls, where there was adequate accommodation for a long siege. These walls surrounded a large area, including space for animals. We will explain the arrangements in more detail later. Warriors of the opposing sides then went forward to engage each other in single combat.

This way of carrying on war was in operation during the Homeric age of the Greeks before they had stepped upon the stage of written history. The legend of the siege of Troy is an illustration of the powerful defence put up by city walls in those days. Although the attacking force was encamped outside of Troy in vastly superior numbers and besieged it for over twenty years, the city was never taken by assault. It eventually fell through the introduction of a small body of the enemy by means of a stratagem. This force then opened the city gates—the one vulnerable point— to the invaders.

The Viking of historic times is also a direct representative of this period. Iron increased the offensive and defensive armour. Bronze helmets, shields, body, arm and leg armour were added to the defensive in place of the leathern protection of former times. The spear was also added which revolutionised the method of fighting, and was constantly lengthened until it reached the enormous length used in the impenetrable Roman phalanx.

(To be continued.)

Planning for After the War (1940)

From the October 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

Class Co-operation or the Abolition of Classes? 

Mr. Hannen Swaffer, writing in the Daily Herald (August 23rd, 1940), tells of a conversation he had in the house of “a member of the War Cabinet,” with “a Tory high in the counsels of the Premier,” “a Liberal M.P.,” and “a key man in the Civil Service.” The four of them were engaged in what is always a popular pastime during wars; they were discussing the after-war “reconstruction.” They had dealt with ” the inequalities of our educational system, the slums of Tyneside, the plight of Merthyr, the need for health services, a score of evils.” Then the Civil Servant spoke as follows : —
“You three are all politicians, or, at least, interested in politics. I am not. You all agree. People do agree nowadays. Why cannot you, after the war, insist on a plan, work it out, preach it as a gospel and combine to ensure its acceptance ?”
Pause for a moment to observe the smug conceit of the “Civil Servant,” doubtless some highly placed and high salaried official in whose ranks this self-satisfied ignorance is very common. Content with his safe, interesting job and comfortable income, puffed up with his authority over the lower ranks of the civil service, he “isn’t interested in politics.” What he means, of course, is that it is expected of him to kow-tow to whatever politicians happen to be in power at the moment, and so long as his world is kept safe under the shelter of capitalist politics he isn’t interested in any other kind of politics.

He can safely be marked down as a type of those who will put up the most blind and obstinate resistance to the introduction of a better social system.

Mr. Swaffer went on to remind the other three that formulating plans does not solve any problems: —
“I pointed out that it was not as easy as that. I had accepted a plan. In theory, the other two might agree with most of it. But the devil of it was that most of the people I sided with wanted a little more food, more regular work—just a little more immediately—and that, however benevolent-minded the other two of us might be, they would be checked in their desire to obtain this for the masses by interests from which they would find it almost impossible to escape.”
Here, of course, is the crux of the matter: “Interests” will stand in the way of “just a little more of everything for the workers.” But it is well-nigh certain that Mr. Hannen Swaffer does not really understand more than half of the problem. He is prepared to concede to his political opponents a certain benevolent-mindedness. If benevolent-mindedness is the key to the situation, how is it that 40 years or more of Labour Party requests for a little more have produced little or no result? Only the Socialist can explain the mystery and solve the problem, yet the explanation is simplicity itself. Swaffer, along with a host of religious and political advocates of social reforms, accepts class divisions in society. Socialists want the classes abolished. Swaffer wants the propertied class to be more benevolent, socialists see that there is no solution along that road. While society is divided into two classes, one of which owns and controls the means of production and distribution while the other class is in truth propertyless, social reforms must be and will always be subordinated to the necessity of keeping the social system functioning. In other words a class which lives on property income (rent, interest or profit) cannot behave other than as a propertied class, no matter how benevolent some members of it may be. What keeps the capitalist system going is the expectation on the part of the capitalist that he will be able to make a profit out of the sale of the commodities he allows his workers to produce for him. No profit, no production! is the law of capitalism. Against that mere sympathy carries no weight at all. It is the easiest thing in the world for the capitalist to have his conscience salved by tame economists who claim to prove to him that poverty, unemployment and so on are unavoidable and will not be helped by social reforms. Failing that there are always journalistic hacks or others ready to “prove” that there is no working-class poverty, or that it is self-inflicted, through drink, thriftlessness or large families, or that things used to be bad but they are just about to be put right, or that poverty is good for the poor and they like it. Mr. Swaffer, himself, recently addressed some sharp remarks to Viscount Gort, who, in a broadcast, said we had been “leading a pleasant life, with plenty of relaxation and not too long hours of toil,” and that “neglecting our religious obligations and in pursuit of pleasure we filled the roads and deserted the churches.”— (People, August 11th, 1940.) Mr. Swaffer said : —
“Does Lord Gort really believe that everybody in Britain has a motor car, that he leads a pleasant life, and that he does not work hard enough ?

When I went into Merthyr with Edward VIII a few days before he abdicated, I saw there, lined up, all the Old Contemptibles of the town. They numbered 25. They had all been unemployed for five years, and some of them for ten years. And, under the existing system, not one seemed likely to have a chance of working for one hour again as long as he lived !

These men had all rushed to arms in August, 1914, to make it “a land fit for heroes.”

Certainly, when I saw them, they had “not too long hours of toil,” but they had spent much longer hours in the Labour Exchange queue. As for their relaxation—well, perhaps they had relaxed throats.”
One great obstacle standing in the way of Socialist propaganda is that it is not easy even for the worst sufferers from this class-divided social system to rid themselves of the idea that we must have a privileged class. Hence the readiness with which they follow the blind lead of those who are so gratified at witnessing the present contact between the classes. Good relations between the one class and the other is such a pleasant notion, disturbing to nobody. They should notice, however, that it is also productive of nothing once the temporary condition has passed. Good relations in the past between slave owner and slave never abolished the system of slavery. Mr. Emrys Jones, well-known journalist, writing in the Daily Mail (September 28th), is a case in point. He is pleased to find that the householders in a very snobbish and exclusive square where he lives have welcomed evacuees from East End bombing. He says: —
“I am glad to report, there are no stupid remarks about the place being ‘spoiled.’ It seems we are nearer the class-less society now than we ever hoped to be in our time.”
Note the childish words about the classless society. The propertied and non-propertied class do not cease to exist because for a while members of the former readily accept close proximity with members of the latter. What Mr. Jones for the moment forgets is that the propertied class as a whole, believing as they do that they deserve their privilege and that the world could not run except on a class basis, do not and never did hope for a class-less society. On the contrary they feared it and will continue to do so. It is the workers who will gradually become able to see that the future of the human race is bound up now with the abolition of classes.

Socialists have often been attacked for adopting an unhelpful, critical attitude towards the plans and proposals of benevolent-minded persons. Events have, however, always justified our criticisms and our contention that reforming capitalism leads nowhere. Let us now challenge our critics. Let them tell us why they believe that the means by which the human race lives must be owned and controlled by a small minority of persons, companies and combines. Let them tell us why the human race any longer need costly financial and commercial institutions kept going with increasing chaos and disorganisation, backed up with a multiplicity of laws and regulations. Let them tell us why we need a social system which breeds poverty, misery, ill-health and wars, with an increasing proportion of the energies of mankind devoted to trying in a complex, roundabout way to ameliorate these evils with plans and reforms and charity-mongering. Why not that class-less society known as Socialism?
Edgar Hardcastle