Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

7 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



THE WAR AND SOCIALISM How the Past 29 Months Have Justified the I.L.P. TOM RICHARDSON'S GREAT SPEECH AT MERTHYR The Sacrifice of Motherhood and Childhood. I, Some Aspects of the Cost of Modern Warfare. One of the best speeches that we have been privileged to enjoy at the Rink was delivered J there on Sunday afternoon by Mr. Tom Richard- son, M.P. (Workington). Mr. LI. Francis pre- feided over an a tendance that was unfortunately well below our average, probably as the result of the very bad weather conditions obtaining. Mr. Francis dwelt upon the consistency of the I.L.P. attitude throughout the war, and con- trasted it with the pre-war utterances of Mr. Robert Blatchford in the Clarion and that gentleman's present attitude, towards Germany and militarism. Tom Richardson complimented the local I.L.P. on its past record of work dene during the past 29 months under exceptional difficultites and ex- ceptional circumstances while the programme of speakers foreshadowed by the immediate future indicated not only that the efforts were to be continued, but that the Branch was determined that the year 1917 should be one of much greater activity than the one which had passed away. He thought no finer tribute could be paicTto Keir Hardie than to know that the work which he Kved and died and fought so arduously for was. to be continued amidst the stress and strain of modern times and modern life. He fully hoped that the rank and file and the outside public would rally to the call of the I.L.P. and help it in its very necessary and urgent work it is under- taking. (Cheers.) The last two years and five months bad wit- nessed rtianv changes. We of the I.L.P. had maintained a consistency and loyalty to our pro- fessions and to our faith that would save us from the inconsistencies of our old friend Robert Blatchford. It was impossible to address a meet- ing in these times without making some refer- ence to the war, and his first observation would we that there was no one, Pither on the platform that t h ere was no one, (, or in the bodv of the hall, whether man or Woman so siniple-minded or innocent as we were on the 4th of August, 1914. He imagined that if it were possible to take oif the Statute Book the Defence of the Realm Act, and give to those who were still adherents of the principles of Iiibc-rtv and of our Freedom the right of discuss- ing without restraint, not only the consequences, but the origins of the war, In less than a month }. a revulsion of public opinion m this countrv that would in itself be a vindication of the attitude of the I.L.P He was sure there vmre none of us willing to accept as the funda- mental and primary causes of this war the rea- sons that were given either by our politicians, or statesmen, newspaper editors or even religious teachers. The causes lay deeper- they were more fundamental. He would only like to make one observation in that respect, and that was that as a Britisher, and one who desired to see his own country occupy a foremost place in the councils of civilisation he pleaded with himself as he pleaded with his fellowman and woman to avoid the fatal mistake-which so many had already made—of assuming the attitude of the Pharisee of old when he thanked God that he was not as other men. (Cheers.) He felt cer- tain that when the time came and we could dis- cuss without reservation or hesitancy the causes of the war. we should—if we were courageous— if we would be faithful to the facts of life and of history-as a British people and nation con- fess that we were not without guilt; were not without responsibility, were not sinless in this connection. He wanted to ask that afternoon one or two questions. The first was this—Tias the experi- once and education of the past 29 months vin- dicated and established, or falsified and wea- kened the main line of argument of the I.L.P. attitude; aiad following that he wanted to pur- sue the same inquiry into a line which had, he feared, been lost sight of in the hysteria of war- time and to ask the question—Has the last 29 months' experience falsified the economics of Socialism or has it established beyond question and doubt not alone the economic soundness but the moral superiority of what the I.L.P. has stood for during the past 24 or 25 years ? So far as the war was concerned he wanted to remind us that we had not been at war long before the I.L.P. accepted full responsibility for the somewhat general statement, that under modern conditions of warfare a decisive military victory was a physical impossibility. An in- creasingly large number of men and women who had been whole-hoggers in supporting the war had, at least, come to the stage that they not only had serious doubts, but were willing to state that what the I.L.P. spokesmen had been say- ing on that important subject was true and was being written in letters which were plain and distinct in the sad history and tragedy of this war. Verdun was one illustration of this. After six months of the maximum expenditure of the resources of the Central Powers, they had had to admit that the task was impossible. Again, in spite of the neveiveqtialled valour, heroism and self-sacrifice of the British Tommy—and the I.L.P. yielded place to no man in its admiration of Tommy and Jack. (Cheers.) On July 1st last and succeeding days, in suite of the casual- ties that rose like mountains and continued for weeks, the Somme illustrated in striking light the fact that this war could not be settled along military lines from the standpoint of either side. And the sooner the rank and file of the nation faced that fact squarely and organised so as tol compel even a Welshman Premier to obey the I voice of Demos, and that Reason and Humanity be allowed to supercede the military mind, the military caste and the military spirit. (Cheers.) He ventured to submit without reservation and without any bravado that so far as that aspect was concerned history would adjudge the I.L.P. not. only as having been loyal and consistent in times of stress to the principles it previously preached, but history would adjudge the I.L.P., notwithstanding the sneers of an unscrupulous manufactured Press—as having been the wise statesmen with the result that with greater ac- curacy and vision they had been able to antici- pate the course of events so far as this war was concerned. One word, and one only, on the American Note which had been the subject of d 't" very muc h discussion and criticism—some of it very intelligent, but the major part of it hys- terical in the. extreme. Notwithstanding all the press might say, and notwithstanding what the Kaiser might say on the one hand, or Mr. Lloyd George on the other, he ventured to think the liberty, with a full knowledge that it was dan- gerous to phophecy, of stating that the begin- ning of 1917 marked a new stage in the history of this war, and that sooner or later peace by negotiation—which had all along been the policy of the I.L.P.—must be accepibed, not only as. a policy on the lines of least resistance; but as the most sagacious and as the most states- manlike. If we were to have a peace with any semblance of permanence about it, then the sooner the better that military caste of mind I and spirit was dethroned, and the intelligence of an intelligent Democracy allowed to occupy the seat of Government of power and of author- tile seat of of powei? and of -t-Lit h oi-- We had been reminded very much of the bru- talities of Prussian militarism. He was sure no one would question his statement when he said that every man and woman in the I.L.P. wa-s up against Prussian militarism—(cheers)— anci against militarism in all its forms. (Re- newed cheers.) The I.L.P. did not wait for an European war before it discussed from the street- corner, the market-place and the biggest halls in the kingdom, the inherent evils of militarism. We were up against that all the time, but he had one word of caution to utter here. He had no doubt that Germany was beaten from the military point of view 15 months ago, and he was interested to find quite a number of people, not only in this country, but in France and Bel- gium also share this opinion, but he wanted to caution us that whilst Germany had been beaten on the military plane, there was another way in which she could win—if the German military mind and spirit was established as a permanent institution in the life of the British nation and British Empire. It was one of the most ,elemen- tary facts-of present day political and industrial life that the militarist mind and spirit at that moment, occupied the seat of Government; the power and authority in the councils of the Bri- tish nation. Proceeding, Mr. Richardson said that lie wanted lur a. fovr minutes to turn oui- aiteiition to an enquiry concerning the economics of Socialism, which he was afraid had been lost sight of to some extent through the prevailing hysteria. Much as we as a Party were concerned in the problems of peace, as a Party we should insist, as. indeed, we should be compelled, to give just a little more attention to our larger programme of constructive economic and social reform. That did not necessarily mean, and ought not to mean, weakening our efforts in the least in all those movements in the direction of peace by negotiation. Had the past 29 months history falsified and condemned or established and proven the econ- omics of Socialism? He was one of those who believed that the one outstanding fact of those 29 months in the economic history of the whole world had been the establishment beyond ques- tion of doubt of the soundness of the economics of Socialism. For the past 20 odd years the I.L.P. had been telling the British public—as our fellow Socialists in other lands had been telling their countrymen—that the private ownership of the means of life is not only econ- omically unsound but morally wrong. Had that been established or falsified? If the men did not know; their wives knew something about it. We had not been at war 48 hours before every housewife in the country was made aware of the fact that as a result of the war she was at the mercy of those men and institutions that- controlled the supplies of the essentials of life. One other elementary fact which was outstand- ing was that the so-called law of Supply- and Demand, which we were asked to believe was eternal, had been blown to the four winds. The past 2D months had established beyond question of doubt that it was a menance to the country and to the well-being and security of the people of this or any other land that a system should be allowed to obtain which granted the power to any limited number of individuals of owning and controlling the means of life. (Cheers.) The I.T,.P. had all along told the people that the capitalistic system with its private ownership of the means of life meant that the producers were not allowed to enjoy the results of their labours, la b oui-s, or, in other words that under Capitalism the worker, whether by hand or brain, was exploited by those who owned and controlled the means of life. He knew that many of the people did not believe that when it was pointed out to them in the past. Could any man be in a moment's doubt after the tragically painful experience of the war, not only in Britain and the belligerent states, but also in neutral countries. that Oapi- talism had exploited not only the producer, but the consumer also with a brutality and soulless- ness that civilisation had never heretofore ex- perienced. Private ownership had extracted from the State as a State in the great emergency in the history of the nation not the minimum but the maximum return. If we drew upon the education of the past 29 months and applied our knowledge in the domain of economics we should asvake to that fundamental, all-important guide in economics that Capitalism as a system knew no politics, knew no nationality, and no religion other than profits and dividend (Cheers.) He found a more healthy disposition on the part of a (Trtaiit section of the Press of this country to discuss the. cost of the war. No mention was made, however, of the cost in killed and permanently disabled, and in the moral and other considerations which ought to be taken into account by the British public. at this mo- ment. But from the money point of view, if we came out of this war with a total of not more than £ 4>{XX)?000J000 expended it implied and in- volved that in interest alone the British tax- payer would have to raise, annually a, larger amount than the largest Budget that any Bri- tish Chancellor qf the Exchequer had ever in- troduced. Sir John Brown, a member of some Chamber of Commerce in Scotland, had stated that for every £ 1 raised before the war P.3 must be raised after the war, amd that repre- sented a taxation of £ 35 per head for every man, woman and child in the country. Remem- ber the cost not only in our generation but in generations yet unborn. (Cheers.) But when estimating the cost, even assuming that we come out with half a million slain, hQ hoped it would not be more; with a million and a half per- manetly injured—he wished he could think it would not be more—and an added National Debt of £ 4,000,000,000—he wished he could hope it would not exceed that; thera were still other considerations to be reckoned with. What about the sacrifice of motherhood and potential mother- hood of the nation. Hundreds of thousands of our wives and sisters had gone into munition factories, to work under conditions that not only undermined their physique; that not only un- dermined the future motherhood of the nation but introduced factors of a moral and inteMec- tuai nature which could not be left out of that balance sheet. (Cheers.) Men who talked about patriotism and thought' about Imperial- ism were imperilling not only the present motherhood, but the future motherhood of the nation. Therein was represented a sacrifice and toll which did not spell stability. It was not good nationalism; it was bad Empire building; it was not good patriotism. (Cheers.) The man who talked about the revival of the spiritual nature after this war was not honest; was add- ing insult to injury; for the ape and tiger in man could Hot be released in the expectancy of reaping the fruits of the spirit. (Cheers.) It was because he loved his country and desired that it should occupy a foremost place in the councils of civilisation that he asked that ac- count of these things should be taken now. Then, in a nation professedly Christian there was the infantile mortality rate; and apart from that the decline in the birthrate. Sinee the war started the serious pre-war infantile mortality rate had gone up by leaps and bounds. Was not these things worthy of consideration? The I.L.P. could claim that it had due regard for nationalism, aye, and Imperialism; but its first regard was for a. healthy as well as a virile nation. (Cheers.) All these questions war- ranted him in saying had established beyond doubt the economic and moral soundness of Socialism and their treat- ment- under present conditions warranted him in saying that if we were to have a peace that was to be an abiding peace and an internationalism which bespoke relationship denoting fatherhood and brotherhood, it could only be secured by the overthrow of Capitalism. Tjie dynamic be- hind life must not be the desires of the personal self of the few, but the desire of the whole to administer all to the entire body politic. In conclusion he appealed to all interested to get into line by joining the I.L.P.

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