WHAT ARE WE DOING ? SEE PAGE 3
OUR DISCUSSIONS THIS EASTER PAGE 3.
Political Notes By F. W. Jowett, M.P. GOVERNMENTAL INDIFFERENCES. nM I -1 Peace debates in farnameirc are or uvue u&c now. It is for the public outside to make the next move. The Government, supported by its Parliamentary majority, has deliberately avoided every opportunity of bringing the war to an end by means of an agreed peace. Always it has calculated on one factor or another giving the Allies the power to impose peace by force. When the military situation has seemed favourable the knock-out blow has been confidently pre- dicted. At other times the relentless pressure of the Allies' blockade has been relied upon to bring viet.ory through the starvation of the German people. Always confident of securing victory by one or other of these two alternative solutions, although hope- lessly incompetent of adopting the best means of obtaining a 'decision by either of them, the Government has treated every suggestion of peace bv negotiation with contempt. When, in the autumn of 1916. peace overtures came from Germany, Mr. Lloyd George said the Germans were "squealing for peace." When Count Olemin made his proposal of peace with no an- nexations and no indemnities and gave the Gov- ernment the opportunity of saving Russia by bringing the Allies into the peace negotiations backed bv all their combined forces, the Govern- ment held aloof, contemptuously indifferent of the mighty issue then at stake. The result is what we now see. I F. r Tu -1 I And what is it that we now see. e see the blockade against the Central Powers broken. The iron ring around Germany no longer exists, and the starvation weapon against the German peo- ple is turned by the U-boats against us. Having recklessly depleted the ship-yards, the railways, docks, and the land, of men to provide armies for gambling adventures in far distant lands, where even if the armies had been successful, their success could not compensate for the loss of shipping they required for their prosecution, we can nei t her import enough food nor grow it. If a careful estimate of the military and econo- mic strength of the nation had been made by the Government at the beginning of the war it would liave been seen that by massing the whole of i,iie -British utf-u mi the Western front to prevent Germany ad- vancing further into France and Belgium, and, at the same time, developing the productive energies of the country to provide food and raw materials and transport them for the use and maintenance of the military and civil population. the war would have had the best chance of suc- cess, so far as it could, in any event, have been, successful. Xo such estimate was. however, made and the Government, therefore, has not only failed to protect the nation from war, which is the greatest of all national disasters, or to get the nation out of the war when it has had the opportunity of doing so. but it has proved itself hopelessly incompetent to carry on a war which it had not the wit to prevent nor the courage to cut short by agreement. All •this has been made clear in Parliament over and over again, and the country has been warned of the consequences. In Parliament there is no response to appeal or remonstrance, and the For- eign Secretary, Mr. Balfour, goes airily on his way in a select world of his own blissfully un- conscious of the increasing mess into which he and his Government- are plunging the country. RUSSO-JAP DEBATE. In the debate in the House of Commons on the proposed invasion of Russia by Japan, and in the debate which followed some days later on Parliamentary control over Foreign Affairs, Mr. Balfour showed how far he was out of touch with realities. In the former, debate he pretended that the proposed Japanese invasion of Russia is intended to help the Russian Revolution, for which he expressed his sympathy. Everybody knows, of course, that it is nothing of the kmd. In his lofty and superior way Mr. Balfour ignored the plain fact which mocks at his pre- tence, which is, that the Russian people do not want their country to be invaded by Japan. As the "Manchester Guardian" fittingly asks: — How are we, or Japan for us. to make war on the only existing Government in Russia and at the same time not make war on Russia? How are we to go to her with peace' on our lips and a machine-gun in our hands and not by the very act write ourselves down sheer hypocrites whose false pretence would cry to Heaven and resound through the earth, and put in the shades even the hypocrisies of Germany? Yet through Mr. Balfour's aristocratic mind there passes no shade of suspicion that the people of Russia and not Mr. Balfour and his fellow diplo- mats should decide whether or not they want a Japanses Army in their country. SAME OLD GAME. Although the question of a Japanese invasion of Russia, was referred to throughout the debate in the House of Commons as if it were merely under consideration the information from Rus- sia is that the Japanese landed at Vladiyostock in the middle of January. Be this as it may, the Japanese are following the usual custom in preparation for war. They are publishing weird stories of massacres and atrocities to excuse an invasion. For two or three days a story was circulated that 150 Japanese had been robbed and murdered in Eastern Siberia. The story was. however, entirely unsupported by any kind of evidence, and after it had run for two or three days the acknowledgment had to be made that it was unconfirmed. Another story has been circiilatejd to the effect that in one small town in Russia 500 members of the local middle-class were massacred in a single night. In Sevastopol. it is said, the sailors decided to execute a, general massacre in two streets inhabited by the most well-to-do people in the town. The bodies, it is alleged, were all thrown into the sea, and to im- prove the effect of the story on the mind of the reader, it is further related that the widow of one of the murdered men employed a diver to recover the "body of her husband. The diver re turned, without the body, in a state bordering on insanity because he had found a throng of bodies "standing upright swaying in the water." Stones had been tied to their feet. Presumably, the Japanese public require their atrocity stories well spiced before they can be agitated into a suitable condition of just and righteous indigna- tion. A "TRUE BLUE" PROTEST. I Even the Yorkshire Post," a most uncom- pwmÍ6,ing "true blue Tory paper which has given unwavering support to the war, has been moved to protest against the action of the Gov- ernment in allowing obvious lies to be circulated to breed and foster feelings of hatred among the people. The Yorkshire Post does not be- lieve the extremely vulgar stories circulated con- cerning the ex-Tzar's Court, nor does the "Post" believe that the Tzar personally was plotting against Russia's allies for a separate peace. This disbelief has led the Post to express itself to useful purpose with regard to the statements flaunted abroad not only in the columns of newspapers, of all sorts and sizes, but likewise in volumes—some of them, such as that of Mr. Le Quex on Rasputin, evidently written for the consumption of those whose ignorance will allow them to swallow any rumour, and to read page after page of some of the most illiterately writ- ten stuff that was ever printed." WAKENING UP- I- I Newspapers have been so free of any form of protest against the dissemination of false charges against enemy nations that it is well to make special note of the protest of the Yorkshire Post There were stories of thousands of Bel- gian children," the "Post" reminds its readers, "in hospital in this country with hands or feet cut off to make a German holi- day. Inquiry failed to discover a single in- stance but we believe there was' never a straightforward contradiction by our Govern- ment. Reports of the kind undoubtedly in- flamed the people of this country against in- dividuals and nations, and to a belief in a Gospel of Hate, which is opposed to any Gos- pel preached by Christianity or even by modern pagnni^d < iv'lisntio BUT GOVERNMENT STILL IDLE. I That there have been barbarities in abundance the Yorkshire POSJt" does not doubt, and this is what we all say. but, as the "Post" goes on to add— Too late the crime and the system which produces it is right beyond dispute to them an end must be put-further than this is dan- gerous. The country is entitled to know authoritatively what. proved foundation there is for this hatred, especially because of its necessary bearing upon the ending of the war and the hope for humanity thereafter." But the Government so far from meeting the wishes of the Yorkshire Post in this mat,ter is spending public money at the rate of 1 000. 000 a year on what it calls "Avar aims propaganda," which includes the wholesale dis- tribution, regardless of expense, of some of the worst samples of this literature for the promo- tion of the Gospel of Hate. MR. BALFOUR'S EXCUSE. I I. I Mr. Balfour, in the debate on the proposal to appoint a Committee for Foreign Affairs to which I have previously alluded, allowed it to be irh- ferred by the line he took in defence of the secret agreement to give Constantinople to Rus- sia that the late Russian Government demanded Constantinople as the price of its continued prosecution of the war. A Foreign Affairs Com- mittee, he argued, if it had resisted this demand, would have lost an ally. Considering that the ally in question was the late corrupt Russian Government we should not have lost much in any case, but, as events have proved, the ally was lost although the demand was granted. STIIL REMAINING. I But Mr. Balfour does not* seem., even yet, to have realised that in promising Russia Constan- tinople the Governments concerned made a pro- mise which even if Russia had remained in the war would have extended the duration of the war. Indeed, in all human probability the pro- mise could not, have been kept, however long the war might have been continued with the ob- ject of keeping it. The Russian revolution has at all events got rid of this otherwise insuper- able difficulty that, at one time, stood between the world and the peace it so much needs. The Italian difficulty, the fruits of another secret treaty, and the Alsace-Lorraine difficulty, still remain. EVADED. I Thb real issue involved in the debate on the subject of a .Foreign Affairs Committee Mr. Bal- four never attempted to deal with, and that is that the secret committments which bound this country to Russia and France and compelled the Government to act with them—although the safety of Belgium could have been better safe- guarded if the Government had not been so bound—would in all probability never have existed if the Foreign Secretary had been obliged to .secure the consent of a committee composed of representatives of all parties to the making of those commitments. ANDERSON'S SUGGESTION. I Sir Claude de Crespigny, baronet, of Cham- pion Lodge, Maldon, Essex, is suffering under a serious grievance. He has not yet been reim- bursed for the loss of some pheasants two years ,ago, the result of military occupation of his land. His cause, however.was most ably championed by Sir Fortescue Flanneiy, an Unionist member, who is determined on securing redress for Sir Claude. Ma-. Anderson suggested that Sir Claude might be allowed to wait for his com- pensation for lost pheasants until some tens of thousands of people whose businesses have been smashed by the operation of the Military Ser- vice Acts have received compensation for their losses.
The Call to Education GEO. LANSBURY'S CLARION NOTE AT MERTHYR. SHALL WE BE WORTHY OF SOCIALISM? That wonderful sincerity, and splendid ability that so often coupled the names of Jas. Keir Hardie and Geo. Lansbury during those strenu- ous early years of the John the Baptists of Bri- tish Socialism, was as strongly marked as of yore on Sunday, when George addressed certainly the biggest Rink meeting of this year—a meet- ing that reminded one of the Peace Conference of December, 1916, as much for its healthy spirit as for its size. Ted Jones was in the chair, and his competitive anxiety to further the 1,000 new members campaign developed in his open- ing remarks powers of oratory that surprised some of us. Geo. Lansbury. who was given the reception that he deserved, a rousing, spontaneous tribute of the love he has engendered by his deeds. His subject was a good one, Come, Let us Reason Together." We might have great meetings and big movements, but unless behind our meetings and our movements we had intelligence we were not making any progress. The one thing the world lacked to-day was intelligence on the part of the masses of the workpeople. If the work- ing people of the world were thinking out their own problems in their own way, and with their own brains, the Democracies of the world would not be slaughtering one another to-day. It was only because those whom it paid were able to trade on the ignorance of the masses that wars and things like that were at any time possible. (Cheers.) OUR FATHERS AND EDUCATION. I We had inherited a great deal from the past. Every young man and young woman had in- herited from the past the right to learn to read and write, and that ought to be one of the most revolutionary things in our day, because we had now at our disposal all the literature of the world, and the history of the world. If Ave would we could read and learn how down all the ages the workers—the toilers—had been just the pawns in the hands of Kings, Governments and Capitalists who had used them to attain their own ends. We should understand, also, that this war in which we are to-y"1 v engaged was on all foul's with all the ot] that had taken place" in the history of d. Our fathers —some of them—were able io understand that, though they had very little knowledge at their disposal, and so they put right in the forefront of everything they fought and struggled for this one ivord-FAiiientiozi. OUR HERITAGE. I And we were reaping the result of their work. Unhappily, many of us did not read the sort of things we should read. The trouble with the mass of the people was that they took what was said in the newspaper as being even more true than many people believed the Bible to be true;, and the result was that Corporations of Capi- talists, and landlords and vested interests got hold of the newspapers and ran them for the ex- press purpose of misleading the populace. Yet, there was no need to be misled. The free libraries, the Labour and Socialist Press, and the neutral works of literature left no other excuse for our being ignorant than that we were too lazy to be anything but ignorant. (Cheers.) [CRITERIA OF USEFULNESS. -1 Though people might join the I.L.P. and the trades unions catering for them because they were carried away on a wave of enthusiasm, they would not be of any use to those movements unless they became intelligent members of those movements. There 'was never more need for in- telligence than now when we were at the end of a historical era in time. No set of men or women who were thinking to-day knew what was going to happen at the end of the war, could,, in fact, be sure what would happen to-morrow. SOCIALISM, BUT WHO? There was no question, said Mr. Lansbury, that the next step forward in evolution was Socialism. There was no other way for human- ity to go. But we of the British nation had no right to imagine that we were going to evolve into this Socialist State. It was quite possible that this Western civilisation might be completely blotted out. It was not necessary for the future well being of humanity that we should be the people to carry on the torch of Liberty. Other peoples might take it from our hands and carry it on to success because we were impotent and too much wrapped up in sheer materialism to be able to carry it on for ourselves. AH our lives was founded on the absolute lie that competition for our daily bread was the natural law of life. He believed that the natural law of life was co-operation and not competition. (Cheers.) He believed tha.t all the history of the world demonstrated that man had not yet emancipated himself from the savage idea that we could only get through life by being more powerful than our neighbour, and able to subdue him to our will. We should never get the world properly organised until we got the Avorking-class to recognise that this struggle was an unnecessary struggle and need not be pro- yiding we were intelligent enough to organise our lives differently. The competitive struggle had left us absolutely, beggared—beggared in !morality, beggared in material things. PEACE TALK. But. what were we to do? The first thing was to begin to think for ourselves. And from thinking would come action. For instance, the papers told us—with what amount of truth he knew not-that peace talk had taken place, that General Smuts had met the representative of the Central Poiv-ers. He thought it an outrage that secret diplomacy was going on at this moment, as was exampled in that meeting in Switzerland. (Cheers.) The workers had borne the brunt of the war, and they ought to make the peace, and they could not do it unless all the cards were (Continued at foot of next column).
I Christian Peace Crusade I AUTHORITIES' WHOLESALE DESTRUC- TION OF NOVELS. Miss Wilson-Wilson, the well-known pacifist novelist, and head of The Christian Peace Cru- sade—for whom there is a warm corner in thou- sands of South Wales' hearts—writes us that the Authorities have informed her (through the police) that they have pulped up some 18,000 copies of the cheap edition of her notable noyel "The Last Weapon," notwithstanding the fact that the book has been on the market for two years, and was, in the first instance, sent to every Member of the two Houses of Parliament. They have also destroyed copies of her other novel" The Wrestlers, "-whicili was written be- fore the war, and reAised for publication since war broke out. DIRECTEST ATTACK YET. Not content with this iconoclastic breaking of Miss Wilson Wilson's idols, they have destroyed the copies seized in the recent raid on the Christian Peace Crusade" offices. of the movement's Confession of Faith and Certificates. In this latter connection Miss Wilson writes — This is perhaps the directest attack on the Message of Jesus Christ—as apart from official Christianity which has been made, saving al- ways the actions against conscientious objectors. If nations believed the Last Weapon,' and signed on to our Confession of Faith—wars would cease, and the happiness of international Co-operation would be realized. But militarism is born of Fear. Fear doire not face Truth- hence the pulping machine. STILL OBTAINABLE. 1 Our losses must oe to the value. of at least £ 150, but there is no prosecution at present, and I should be glad if you would kindly make it clear that The Last Weapon may be obtained of any bookseller. As for our Confession of Faith and our work for a Christian Peace, we should deserve the contempt of the whole world, if in this hour of awful international agony we ceased to deliver our Message."
Merthyr Hospital I INCREASED. AIVNIJA, REVGNUf OF$« m\ PROBABLE. I After nearly two years' negotiation, there is a probability of the difficulties between the Dow- [lais and Merthyr miners and steelworkers and the Executive Board of the Merthyr General Hospital being solved with a consequent promise of a prosperous era in the financial history of that institution, as the workers' subscriptions towards its maintenance will ensure a revenue of about 24,000 a year. A conference of the representatives of the workers on Saturday at Merthyr considered a report as to the new concessions the hospital authorities are prepared to make with regard to the representation demands of the workmen conditional upon annual subscriptions of 4/- per man (and 2/- each in the case of every lad under the age of 18 years) towards the maintenance of the hospital. j Compared with the original offers of the Exe- cutive Board, their new proposals are remarkably generous, particularly respecting the moot point of representation on the board. They are pre- pared to increase the number of workmen's re- presentatives from six to fifteen—eighteen being the quota asked for by the workers. They, too. are agreeable to rescinding the amendment to a rule, passed at the last meeting of the Court of Governors, limiting representation to five members for £ 100, the position again being five for £ 50 and one additional mem ber for every £ 15 up to £ 200. Other of the chief concessions are that small societies paying C5 shall be en- titled to appoint a governor, and workmen's re- presentatives shall be allowed to vote for the representation allocated to the governors. The question upon which negotiations were ex- pected to come to naught was that of medical- men's claim to a seat on the board by virtue of their appointments on the staff. The workers demanded an immediate limitation, but the doc- tors were adamant. Fortunately a way out was discovered, and it is this: the Executive Board proposes that the existing representation shall continue, but that no vacancy shall be filled until the members on the board for the medicos are reduced to four, at which number the representation shall after- wards be retained. Accordingly, until this limit is reached, no new member of the medical staff is to be elected on the board. After the conference decided to re- commen d to the various organisations concerned the adoption of these proposals, which, ac- cordingly, will be submitted to mass meetings of the workmen.
'Counsel of Terror, Panic and Eyil, t C. H. NORMAN'S CLEAR-CUT STATEMENT AT COURT-MARTIAL. BRAVE STAND BY C.O. C. H. Norman, after being honourably ac- quitted only a. few weeks back (as announced in the Pioneer") has now stood his court- martial, and has heard the sentence of twelve months' imprisonment with ha-rd labour for re- fusing to obey military orders at Exeter Bar- racks. We believe that Mr. Geo. Bernard Shaw and others of the few publicists who have re- tained a semblance of reason, are interesting themselves in the unusual case of Norman and Hughes, and, for the sake of British Justice, as well as for the sake of Norman himself, we trust that their efforts may bring deviation to Nor- man, and to 1. P. Hughes, who was concerned with him in the Dartmoor trouble following the inquest on Firth, and who, with him, has been the victim of official action. Meanwhile, the following clear-cut, trenchant passages from Norman's statement at the Oouri- Martial will interest our readers, and should provoke thought if brought to the notice of the unconverted. A COUNSEL OF TERROR. "It is now approaching four years since this disastrous war was embarked upon with a reck- less levity by the statesmen of Great Britain. It is approaching ten years since I ventured to sub- mit a memorandum to certain (Cabinet Ministers on the certain consequences of the entangle- ments with Russia and France which Britain had been involved in by the secret dealings of some five members of the Cabinet who were then controlling British foreign policy. Every warn- ing, which then fell on heedless cars, has been proved by the logic of fatal events as well found- ed. It is an odd circumstance that the only persons who have correctly forecasted the course of this war were the small band who op- posed the foreign" policy of 1907-1914 on the ground that it would prove the ruin of their country's manhood and the destruction of its prosperity in commerce and in the peaceful arts of trade. When war broke out, the only doeision that could be taken by that minority was to op- pose the policy of the war and to-endeavour to maintain those liberties of free discussion and writing which are always the first casualities, curiously enough in i war to maintain libert-v. ^'iVly'iSpMiion oS uiWe of killing expressed in 1911 (in my Essays and Letters on Public Affairs ') has been confirmed by every event of the present catastrophe. I then remarked, The idea of killing as a trade is revolting to any decent mind. It is a counsel of terror, panic and evil. It is a doctrine of hell, not of Christian morals, or ordinary human ethics.' THE MIRAGE OF VICTORY. On the outbreak of war I wrote in a pamph- let which has been suppressed that the only re- sult of this war would be to make Britain a mourning house, Europe a graveyard and the world a bankruptcy courts Wjdtten in 1914, that stands true to-day. I am guiltless of assisting in such a policy, and I intend to remain so. In forming in 1915 the British Stop-the-War Com- mittee in conjunction with Mr. Scott-Duckers, who has also been a resident in various of His Majesty's prisons for close upon two years, I felt the only cure for the then and the present state of Europe was the restoration of peace. Peace could have been made in Septem ber. 1914. at Christmas. 1914, in August, 1915. at Christ- mas, 1916, and on other occasions, especially in February, 1917, on better terms than are likely to be attained now, but the mirage of victory has tempted our statesmen from the oasis of a negotiated peace into the blinding sands of the desert of disaster, for who can deny that the military situation of the Allies has become pro- gressively worse in the past eighteen months? I have opposed this war from a hatred of the prin- ciple of men killing men in the furtherance of the schemes of ambitious cliques; therefore, I am compelled to continue my refusal to submit to military authority."
Interesting Labour Conference ORGANISATION OF TRADES COUNCILS AND LOCAL LABOUR PARTIES. The Fabian Research Department Conference on the Organisation of Trades Councils and Local Labour Parties held, on March 16th, at 25, Tothill Street, Westminster, was well at- tended hy delegates from Trades Councils, Local Labour Parties and other organisations. Mr. G. H. Stuart Bunning (Parliamentary Com- mittee, Trades Union Congress) presided, and excellent speeches were delivered by Messrs. D. Carmicliael (London Trades Council), Sidney Webb (Labour Party Executive), John Baker (British Iron, Steel and Kindred Trades Asso- ciation), G. D. H. Cole (.Fabian Research De- partment). A discussion followed on various problems of local organisation, in which Messrs. J. S. Middleton, G. Bernard Shaw and others took part. The delegates were afterwards en- tertained, to tea by the Research Department. It is intended to hold further Conferences of this character as the Research Department en- quiry into the history, organisation and work of the Trades Councils and Local Labour Parties proceeds. A questionaire embodying the main points of the enquiry will be in the hands of every Trades Council and Labour Party Secre- tary in the course of the next fortnight.
N.U.R. Wage Demand. At its meeting last week the Executive of the N. U .R. decided to make application for a fur- ther wage increase to the employees of British railways. It is stated that the new application will pro- bably take the form of an extension of the 121 per cent. to all railway workers employed in + +:t.>l't" n""+- ) -1.
on the table. If there was peace talk going on now what were we going to do about it? They said that the Germans had offered terms. If they had, then the public ought to know them, a vote ought to be taken—not to elect M.P.s, but as a referendum on the peace terms what- ever they were. And. above all, he wanted the men in the tren hecs to vote on this. (Loud cheers.) It was this sort of jiggery-pokery secret diplomacy that went on at Westminster, and he wanted to see it put an end to, and to see a real Democratic peace. What we had to do to-dav was to bring pressure to bear on the Government, so that if there was any peace offer it should be put in plain, blunt language, to the vote before being rejected. If we did not make our intentions clear, then we should have to be satisfied with being told that it was a "German Peace Trap" and stuff like that. The real peace of the world would be found not in domi- nation, but in disarmament and a League of the Nations of the World. He wanted disarmament, because so long as there were armaments some- one would sometime or another want to use them. /Oheers.>