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of March 1907, quoted by Mr. Ellis Barker in his British Socialism :
The conception that war is only a product of human unreason is on the same level as the idea that revolutions are only mental aberrations of the
War is rooted in the opposing interests of the nations, as are revolutions in the opposing interests of the classes.
The majority of our British Socialists also recognise the fact that Hervé's extreme doctrines find but small acceptance in these islands, and that, however wasteful and regrettable the average working-man may deem war to be, he is quite willing to fight if threatened by invasion.
2. Belief in the improbability of war is a potent factor in the reluctance of our people to accept national service, and it is a belief very hard to combat, because it is held by the great masses who decline to study the subject, and are content to live their lives immersed in cares of family or business, or it may be in pleasure, hoping that no great crisis will occur in their time, trusting to Providence or luck, and indifferent to the logic of facts, or to probabilities based upon historical parallels. It is in combating this widespread indifferentism, and in dispelling the mists of ignorance, that the widest field is open to all lovers of their country who believe in the reality of the danger with which she is threatened. Our working classes are quick to appreciate argument, and are quite willing to be convinced when the causes which have led to wars in the past, and which may lead to them in the future, are explained. The great difficulty is to get them away from their own immediate concerns and to cause them to think, and this can only be done by voluntary effort throughout the kingdom, especially as regards village meetings and discussions in working-men's clubs, which can generally be arranged. We know that Herr Bernstein and other leading German Socialists still regard war as possible, and acknowledge that in this event their first duty is to their country.' And the same view is held by the saner leaders of Socialistic thought in England. “So long as even one Great Power maintains the present form of military organisation, so long as war is possible, so long will it be necessary that forms of military organisation exist in all countries. We dare not preach peace where we know there can be no peace.”
3. As to the wickedness of war we need say little; what we have to deal with here is the practical question apart from other considerations. There are a few people in these isles who hold the extreme Christian doctrine of suffering all things and of refusing to resort to force under any circumstances—and if they are prepared in private life to be smitten upon both cheeks, to give • British Socialism,
• Forward, May 1907.
up cloak as well as coat, and even to allow their wives and daughters to be assaulted without lifting a band in their defence, they must be allowed to act up to their convictions in public and national matters as well; fortunately they are few in numbers, and of little importance.
4. The uselessness of war brings us to a belief which is held by a considerable number of the working classes, and for which the Socialists are striving to obtain general acceptance. It is founded on the statement (utterly unsupported by proof though it be) that 13,000,000 of our people live in utter wretchedness, on the verge of destitution, and have nothing to gain by war; that wars, in fact, are waged solely in the interests of the propertied classes. It is, perhaps, a little hard on supporters of the National Service League that, besides securing the acceptance of their proposals for military reform, they should have to combat Socialism as well ; but if this is the white man's burden,' it must be borne as best it may. A writer has lately tried to drive home this argument as to the futility of war, by showing that to ruin England would also ruin Germany, owing to the interdependence of European finance, and that in the end the wealth of a country depends upon the workers who would still remain after a wave of successful invasion had passed by; he further attempts to prove that Germany would not benefit by absorbing Belgium, Holland, and the North-Eastern departments of France; but he has to arrive at the lame conclusion that, until all nations adopt his views, all must remained armed, unless in the fortunate position of Small Powers, whose existence is guaranteed by treaty and secured by a more potent force, the jealousy of the Great Powers. It is much to be desired that some of our workers whose minds are being perverted by Socialists could read and appreciate the sufferings of the inhabitants of the French provinces in German occupation during 1870-71; they would learn that money was only paid for articles regularly requisitioned, and that no indemnification could be or was given in respect of nine-tenths of the damage done : fields trampled, crops destroyed, houses burnt or prepared for defence, no cultivation possible, property plundered where the owners fled from the scene of hostilities; they would hear of peasants having been hung or shot for aiding francs-tireurs in irregular acts of war; and they would learn something of the burden of taxation necessary to pay off the war contribution levied on a defeated enemy. If they had any imagination, too, they might be able to realise that invasion of England would bring with it far more misery than France experienced in 1870, because the inhabitants of our occupied counties would undoubtedly starve ; the enemy would not feed them, and obviously we could not run
• The Great Illusion, by Norman Angell.
provision trains from Bristol or Liverpool to Ashford and Tonbridge if all Kent were in hostile occupation. Moreover, we live by our manufactures rather than by agriculture, and war would dislocate all trade, interrupt the steady inflow of raw material, and, owing to the rise in prices, would cause numbers of factories to shut down, thus largely increasing unemployment and want. Indeed, it is difficult to paint in too lurid colours the evils which invasion would bring upon our country, and the suffering which would be inflicted upon the poorest classes.
And, of course, the matter can be argued from another side. Is it true that our poor have nothing to fight for? Look at the men around us occupying prominent positions to-day, who have risen to affluence from the ranks of labour, and consider how many more have begun ascending the ladder of prosperity. Indeed, it can be said without exaggeration that every worker is a potential capitalist. And for those who do not rise, are they so utterly neglected and so miserable that they not only have no pride in their country but do not care how or by whom they are governed ? This can only be true of the people known as the submerged or unemployable; they, indeed, have nothing but private charity or State relief as their ultimate hope ; but the great mass of workers are alive to the benefits of the rule under which they live, and have a margin for their amusements; they know, moreover, that
, the State is not indifferent to their welfare, and they are hardly likely to be misled to any great extent by fallacies preached in the interests of Socialism.
We have seen how Socialists as a whole are not averse to the idea of a nation in arms, provided that military law is nonexistent, and that the officers do not come from the propertied class, and are elected by the men. Now, the argument used to induce the working classes to accept compulsory service on this basis only is that our Regular and Territorial Forces, as at present organised, are weapons in the hands of the capitalists, and could be used to oppress labour and to put down anything in the nature of a general strike; and this in spite of Lord Haldane having explained that the Territorials cannot be called out as such in aid of the civil power, but only as individuals, just as all men, whether in military service or not, can be summoned to help to maintain law and order in case of emergency. It is, therefore, apparent that the Socialists aim at securing a force with which to carry out a revolution, knowing full well that interference with labour disputes conducted in an orderly and legal manner is outside the sphere both of the Territorial Army and of the National Army as proposed by the National Service League. Let us now try to see what possible military value could be claimed by a force such as would be acceptable to the Socialists.
Nothing can be more certain in the opinion of all who have studied the art of modern war that, in view of the wide extensions now practised on the battlefield and the often necessary removal of the men from the immediate control of their officers, rigid discipline and thorough training are more necessary now than ever they were before. The soldier must feel that he is part of the military machine, acting and maybe sacrificing himself for the general good, and an army cannot hope for success unless prompt and complete obedience is rendered to superior authority through every grade of the hierarchy of war. And unless military law is enforced whenever a national army is embodied there can be no such obedience and discipline, for the power of punishment, like the power of reward, is one of the chief weapons which an officer should possess. And even more fatal to discipline and military efficiency than this matter of military law is the Socialist proposal that a national army should elect its own officers. Under this system popular men or those with money to spend are elected, and not those best qualified to lead in war; for how remote war seems, and how often do we find peace considerations outweighing what would obviously be best on active service! This popular election of officers was practised by the Boers, but was given up soon after their last war began. Napoleon stopped the same custom as soon as he raised himself to power; and it was given up by the Northern States of America during the Civil War. It was abolished, too, in New Zealand under the provisions of the Defence Act of 1910. It cannot be too strongly impressed upon our working classes that if, as very many of them do, they desire a national army which would keep them safe from invasion, they should spare no efforts and grudge no sacrifices in order to possess a well-trained corps of officers, without which their military efficiency would be slight indeed.
The most promiscuous murderer in the world is the ignorant military officer ; the dead are hecatombs of his ignorance; the survivors melancholy spectres of his incompetence.?
An ignorant officer is a murderer; all brave men confide in the knowledge that he pretends to possess, and when the death trial comes their generous blood flows in vain. Merciful God! how can an ignorant man charge himself with so much bloodshed ? I have studied war long, earnestly, and deeply, yet I tremble at my own deficiencies.8
The attempt to organise an army with too great a regard to popular opinion is generally doomed to failure. Marshal Niel's proposals for the reconstruction of the Garde Mobile in 1867 were mutilated by the French Chamber. Niel wanted fifteen days' drill a year; the Government ruled that the men must sleep every • Nation in Arms, July 1909. ' Valour of Ignorance, Homer Lea.
* Sir Charles Napier.
night in their homes, thus making real training impossible, especially in country districts. And the committee appointed to report on the Marshal's scheme used these words, the English echo of which can still be heard in discussions on national service : 'La jeunesse de France sera toujours prête à marcher au jour de danger et alors ses instincts guerriers se révèleront dans tout leur élan.' It is true that our Territorial Army is far in advance of the Garde Nationale Mobile of 1870 as regards both training and organisation, but the fact remains now, as then, that you cannot improvise an army, and that all preparation for war must precede the outbreak of hostilities. That Garde Mobile, as recorded by Thiriaux, failed lamentably on many occasions. We read that two battalions abandoned Fort Mont Valérien on the 20th of September 1870 and returned to Paris; that at Le Bourget two battalions had not half their numbers, the remaining officers and men having left the ranks and returned to Paris, while one company had only eleven men present; and that in March 1871 ten out of eighteen battalions were in a state of mutiny. It is easy to multiply proofs of the dangerous inefficiency of hastily raised and partially trained troops. The history of the reconstituted armies of the French Revolution in 1791-2-3 abound with cases of disgraceful panics, desertion, and wholesale plundering, as set forth by Beurnonville and in the correspondence of General Schauenburg. So also we can read in the pages of Henderson's Life of Stonewall Jackson, and in the Life of William Howard Russell, how the volunteer army of the Northern States of America dissolved in panic flight after the battle of Bull Run, an action in which the losses were by no means severe, and after which there was practically no pursuit. Time will, of course, witness the development of raw levies into seasoned soldiers, and this process was well shown in France at the end of the eighteenth century and in America during the Civil War; but it is precisely time which would be lacking in the event of an invasion of England. That struggle would be short, sharp, and decisive, and we should stand or fall by the fighting value of our military forces when the first hostile soldier set foot upon our shores.
It is, in fact, abundantly clear that Mr. Hyndman and his friends fail altogether to understand the building up of the military edifice, and especially do they ignore the fact patent to every instructed soldier, that unless that house rests firmly and solidly on the foundation of discipline the labour of the mason will have been in vain. The Socialistic party must therefore face this dilemma' : either the national army will be imperfectly disciplined, and will be so deficient in solidarity as to be useless against a trained Continental invader, or it will have acquired sufficient of