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Commonsense and the Con-…

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Commonsense and the Con-  scientious Objector. ??i.dH.HJ'Uj ??tJ'jt.?n?&. The conscientious objector is thought to' be a queer creature. The Sunday papers delight to picture him as being either a crank c,-i, a cow- ard. and furnish pictures of long-haired specta- cled faddists, and youths- spoiled by the foolish fondness of their mothers. The mention of his deep and inward conviction creates a smile, and opinion varies as to whether he is a fool or a rogue. He is, however, a very ordinary individual; like other men, he has no inward tinkling bell" to guide his actions, and no mysterious monitor solves the problems of his life. In August, 1914, he, too, was confronted by new situations. The world seemed in the melting pot; trusted leaders took recruiting pladorms; pacifist preacher and mihh'can were united by the horror of militarism; terrible at-II rocities Riled the air, and the International had disappeared. His favourite journals gave him no guidance; the Labour Leader, Clarion," or ,'7 Justice" took opposite sides, and he had to decide his problems unaided. Perhaps Brails- ford's War of Steel and Gold," or Newbold's disclosures, or Shaw's pamphlet helped him to find his feet. A visit to a recruiting meeting may have convinced him that his place W aš i,,o,t "to Berlin. with that crowd. He may hav?? "eh b'S inadio n illogical for a while, yet as he loo ks back in the light of present- day know l ed ge, he does not regret- his deci- lie clo,es no'?, lils doe?-,? Study and reRection reveal the causes behind I the effects, war, diplomacy and atrocity. He recognises that the drum and trumpet" his- tory "which he has been taught is but a small part of histo!rv and he sees the hollowness of the oia gags of patriotism and freedom. Re- cent happening's have their morals. Thrift has been strenuously advocated; the workers must do wihout servants, motor-cars, and pianos. It is not the workers whom the conscientious ob- jector sees riding in carriages, with two stal- wart men upon the box, or lounging in luxu- rious motors. Trade Unions are forbidden to demand higher wages by a Cabinet who still draw their bit. Wondrous schemes of co- operation between Labour and Capital are being; outlined. Master and man will unite to con- tinue a war in trade after the fighting is done. The devil will enjoy holy water, and lion anci lamb lie down together. These schemes are as brilliant as the three wives to-each man proposal which forgot that the worker does not draw the salary of a Kitchener r The Conscientious Objector is not favourably impressed with the military fashions. Why should a man with a starred shoulder com- pel a respectful salute from a private? Money probably procured his rank, but does not guar- antee his ability. Unquestioning obedience is the one quality required in a soldier; militarism will never be ended by men in khaki; but by those who have out-grown national hatreds. The smuggler did not abolish smuggling: that was accomplished by the removal of the high duties. The highwayman did not invent the railroads or the exchanges, which made his profession out of date. The Conscientious Objector is often supposed to believe in a weird "non-resistance to evil" doctrine. The famous u mother and sister" I question of the Tribunals is founded on this assumption The Tribunal members may rest assured that if a Objector saw. a woman maltreate d lie would undoubtedly rest- rain the offender, if possible. The analogy is a failure circumstances alter cases: what a per- son would do in a suppositions situation has no bearing upon the present real situation. An absolute non-resistance to evil brings to mem- or.- the story of the child who, on being told that God could do> everything, asked if He could make a stone, bigger than he could lift. The same objection might be .arvnlied to the s a ore dness of human life" idea. Like other men the Conscientious Objector would shoot a mad 1. dog or even iji desperate straits a madman; but that fact does not prove that he should be now shooting sane men. in France. Bible texts do not prove his position wrong or right, The revival of the old tribal gods, who fight for each nation, is making him re- view former, beliefs. He cannot cultivate "the simple and child-like faith which R. J. Camp- bell proclaims, and wonders if the ark of old filled with this metaphysical moonshine would I be bullet-proof. The differences between rival dogmas have lost his interest: does it matter whether he spells atonement at-one-went, or takes :a "sprinkling," or a "dip," or bub- bles over with texts like a Plymouth Brother? More vital questions demand his attention: he is driven to inquire into the reasons why he is in his present, position; and to analyse the forces wihch make wars inevitable to capital- ism. He will find a guide book of present so- ciety in Marx's Capital," and the Commu- nist Manifesto" will arouse an evolutionary rhythm in his thought, and he will fight in the class war. The Trade Union meeting will dis- place the prayer meeting; a Labour Press the l chapel debt. The Conscientious Objectors are too numerous to be shot, and the strength found in association will not be forgotten. The fact of being ready to dare a law makes him consider the foundation of all laws and authority, and he will find them man-made. This fact will not make him an Anarchist who rejects evevy authority and law. Freedom is not achieved in that fashion. We are made for co-operation—like feet. like hanpfe. like eye- brows. like the rows of the urrner and lower teeth and this becomes more necessary as so- ciety develops. The collier needs the haulier; the haulier the rider; the rider the engine man, they al! need the fan-men, and so the endless chain proceeds It is upon this division of labour that our modern freedom depends. Mod- ern production cannot be carried on without capital, i.e., accumulated labour. Capitalism needs investment of surplus orofiis, and rival nations compete for spheres of exploitation, and this competition breeds war. The Con- scientious Objector wishes to abolish war. and to do so he must abolish capitalism. Common- sense should direct his efforts into controlling the accumulated labour, and his weapons are the strike and the ballot-box. Poverty is the only hell, and heaven is what he makes it. "Workers of the world unite, you have a. world to win." M.S.

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