Dora B. Montefiore 1918
Source: The Call, 24 October 1918, p. 6
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
M.E. Quelch’s question is at the present moment very much to the point, for history is being made rapidly, and it is incumbent on the workers to have a revolutionary Reconstruction Programme ready prepared to meet the reformist Reconstruction Programme of the other Parties. The problem before us is how are the land and the tools of production to be removed from private ownership to social ownership, while at the same time distribution (at first of the necessaries of life, and later on of the full products of wealth) is secured on an equable basis for all wealth producers? The events of the last four years have to a great extent taught us how the machinery for this revolutionary change may be organised.
From the day war was declared, the banks were closed for the greater part of a week, and when reopened a capitalist revolution had taken place within their silent walls, and depositors were compelled by legal force to accept “scraps of paper” in exchange for the gold which had been, guaranteed them when they entrusted their deposits to the bank. First act of violence. Workers organised for revolution, please make a note of it.
Next the railways, shipping, and a large number of industrial undertakings were seized by the Government and, under its control, were worked in the interests (it was asserted) of the common good. Second act of violence. Workers organised for revolution, please make a note of it.
Then a decree or law was passed with many penalising clauses to prevent anyone in the kingdom from obstructing or criticising the Government in its many acts of violence and under the penalties introduced by this Defence of the Realm Act many have suffered pains, persecution, and imprisonment. Third act of violence. Workers organised for revolution, please make a note.
Then a Conscription Act was passed forcing all men between certain ages to leave their homes and occupations, and become trained, drilled, and organised soldiers. If any, for conscience’s sake, resisted this State violence they were thrown into prison, shamefully and often cruelly treated; while some have died or have lost their reason in consequence of this violent treatment. Fourth act of violence. Workers organised for revolution, please note.
The law regulating the duration of a Parliament was arbitrarily, put on one side, and all these acts of violence were carried out by a Government which had no mandate from the People; so that the Government of the United Kingdom has, for the last four years, been virtually a Dictatorship, and workers organised for a revolutionary change of ownership of the means of life have before them an object lesson of how the thing may be done. They must remember that the rising class in a community has always formed its own new moral code within the old society forms; which moral code can only be put fully in force and receive sanction in the new and evolving society.
One of the first actions of the newly-formed society must be the repudiation of all public debts contracted by the old form of government. While the wealth-producing workers are attending to the taking over at the point of production of the wealth-creating industries, the distributing workers must be organising transport and distribution on the new economic basis; and the workers engaged in education must be organising their department in the same way, and with the inspiration of the new evolving moral sanctions.
At the end of four years of peace from the clash of militarism we should, with the aid of a temporary revolutionary Dictatorship of the People (such as we have been undergoing for four years at the hands of the capitalist-militarists), have evolved a working form of the socialisation of the means of life; and should, with the aid of International Socialists all over the world, have replaced the competitive struggle of capitalism by the human co-operation of Socialism.