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French trade unions, after the Fashoda incident, for the pur-
If war ever threatens to break out, the working classes and
If, however, despite all efforts, war breaks out, then it becomes their primary duty to bring about its conclusion as quickly as possible, and thereafter to make the most of the opportunities offered by the economic and political crises which are sure to follow the war, in stirring up public opinion and hastening forward the abolition of capitalist class rule.
By the time of the next Congress at Copenhagen in 1910, the general strike sentiment was still more in evidence, being now strongly supported by the British. J. R. MacDonald, speaking for the British Labor Party, rebuked the German Socialists for their unwillingness to indorse the international general strike. Ledebour,
speaking for the German Party, rebuked the British Laborites for keeping in office by their votes governments that increase expenditures for army and navy. The general strike amendment proposed by the British and French was finally postponed until the next Congress (the Congress of 1914, which never took place) as the following brief report of the American delegates will show.
THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIALIST CONGRESS AT COPENHAGEN
The amendment, proposed by Vaillant, of France, and Keir Hardie, of England, was as follows:
Among the means to be used in order to prevent and hinder war, the Congress considers as particularly efficacious the general strike, especially in the industries that supply war with its implements (arms and ammunition, transport, etc.), as well as the propaganda and popular action in their most active forms.
Ledebour of Germany spoke at considerable length in favor of the resolution presented by the committee and against the Hardie-Vaillant amendment. Keir Hardie, who had been instrumental in drawing up the amendment, said in part:
The great question before us is that of hindering war and furthering disarmament. On this question the English Labor Party takes a clear position. We are not only against war, but also against militarism. We maintain that the army and navy are the brutal means used by the modern state to maintain the possessing class in the enjoyment of privileges. By no means do we wish to subscribe to the use of the general strike against the danger of war at all times in all nations. We only desire to say to the working class of all lands that if it unites its economic strength, the power of the working class is sufficient to make war impossible.
Vandervelde, of Belgium, introduced an amendment providing that the Congress send the amendment of Keir Hardie and Vaillant to the International Bureau for study of the subject, and that at the next International Congress a report be presented on the investigations made. Both Keir Hardie and Vaillant agreed to this and the Vandervelde amendment was accepted by the Congress.
LETTER OF THE BRITISH SECTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL
SOCIALIST BUREAU The arguments in favor of the proposed general strike were well summed up in a letter addressed in August, 1912, to the labor unions of Great Britain by Keir Hardie and Arthur Henderson, the two delegates representing these organizations, together with the Labor and Socialist Parties in the International Socialist Bureau:
Everyone will recognize the gravity and importance of the matter. War with all its horrors is always inimical to the interests of the working class, and is always in these days undertaken for the benefit of the financial and propertied classes. The recent South African War is a typical illustration of this truth, which is further exemplified by the present war between Italy and Turkey over Tripoli. The workers of the world have no interest in fighting each other, but have every interest in coming together for their mutual advantage. The International Conferences, which are now so frequently held by the trade-unionists of different countries, such as the Miners, the Metal Workers, the Textile Workers, the Printers, and many others, are tending to create a feeling of solidarity and to break down racial prejudices mainly founded upon misunderstanding, which only the ruling classes have an interest in perpetuating. Those who support an anti-war strike do not do so as an alternative to political action, but as supplemental to that action, and only to be used as a last resort where political action is not yet sufficiently developed to prevent it.
Take by way of illustration the case of Germany and this country. The German Reichstag has 397 members all told, of
whom 110 members are Social Democrats, representing 4,250,000 electors. These could undoubtedly put up a formidable fight against war on the floor of the Reichstag. A like remark applies to the Labor Party in our own country, numbering 41 in a House of Commons containing 670 members. A tremendous backing would undoubtedly be given to this fierce struggle for peace by the parliamentary representatives were it known that in both cases the trade unions had a firmly grounded understanding, mutually arranged, to cease work, if need be, rather than tamely to sit still and allow their masters and rulers, backed by the powerful influence of the capitalist press, to force war upon them. Besides, it should be remembered that the House of Commons has no voice in declaring war.
Since the Copenhagen Congress the Socialist attitude towards the general strike has not only been the subject of wide discussion; it had a somewhat more practical test, for at the time of the Morocco crisis, in 1911, it seemed the time had arrived when it might be put into effect.
It will be noted that the Germans did not suggest the general strike or any action approaching it as being even a remote possibility. It must here be pointed out, however, that some of the more revolutionary German Socialists feel that, although the most extreme and violent measures are justified to prevent war, against a highly organized military system like that of Germany a general strike at the outbreak of war would be a useless waste of human life, even if equally extreme measures might promise results at later stages of the war, or at its close.
SOCIALIST ACTION AT THE TIME OF THE MOROCCO AFFAIR
(1911) Vorwaerts, on July 4th, as soon as the Morocco affair broke out, urged the members of the Socialist Party “to protest against the methods of jingoes who wish the citizens' blood for the capitalistic interests in Morocco, and against imperialism, which is the cause of the military dangers hovering over the German nation."
On July 7th, the French Socialist, Jean Jaurès, wrote to Vorwaerts, suggesting calmness and demanding energetic action on the part of the European proletariat. A few days later his paper, L'Humanité, published a resolution of the Executive Committee of the French Socialist Party to the effect that the French section of the International was ready to carry out the resolution of the last International Congress. [That of Stuttgart-see above.] The German Vorwaerts upon the receipt of this resolution responded, with the approval of the Executive Committee of the German Social Democratic Party, saying that the German Party accepted the initiative of the French comrades with the warmest sympathy and satisfaction, and adding: “Morocco is worth the bones of neither the French nor German workmen."
On August 17th an international peace demonstration, attended by several thousand workingmen, took place in London, arranged in co-operation between the Executive Committee of the Labor Party, the Federation of Trade Unions, and Trade Union Congresses. The meeting was addressed by Keir Hardie, J. R. MacDonald, and H. M. Hyndman. French guests participated as speakers. Keir Hardie demanded that the English workers must hold themselves prepared so that if the order for war and the murder of brothers went out, not a soldier or a cannon should be transported by steamer or railway. A resolution was passed calling attention to the danger to world peace, of the exploitation of home and foreign markets, and promising solemnly to prevent the breaking out of war.
J. R. MacDonald, chairman of the Labor Party, made the following remarks in the English Parliament:
“The House knows the forces, the organization, and the movement in Europe with which we, English Socialists are connected; that so long as there is a general federation of labor or a labor party they will all work for peace. The International Miners' Congress has just passed a resolution, that if peace should be interrupted at the present moment, we will nevertheless stand by it. We appreciate the deep seriousness of the situation. We also know that it is very useful for the ruling classes to learn the story of an organiza