E. Belfort Bax


(14 April 1906)

Morocco, Justice, 14th April 1906, p.2. (letter)
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

DEAR COMRADE, – The German action over Morocco and the Algeciras Conference is an apt illustration of the advantage sometimes accruing to honest men when one thief sets out to catch another.

Some two years ago M. Delcassé, without consulting anyone but sundry high-finance circles in Paris, certainly without consulting the French nation, negotiated a diplomatic instrument with Great Britain, one of the features of which was that this country, in return for the renunciation of French claims in Egypt, magnanimously conceded to French capitalism the right to exploit Morocco unhindered.

M. Delcassé, it should be premised, a hard-shelled Germanophobe French Chauvinist, had signalised his entry upon office by breaking off negotiations for an entente with Germany, begun by his predecessor, M. Hanotaux – an entente which, had it been realised, would have at least inevitably had the effect of preventing the Boer war, and upsetting the colonial policy of Mr. Chamberlain. Biding his time for the indignation of the French people against England over the South African crime to subside, M. Delcassé then instituted the present entente with official England in place of one with official Germany. This is the secret, of course, of the popularity of M. Delcassé with the patriotic Briton and his sympathisers.

But M. Delcassé was so elated with the success of his Germanophobe-Anglophile policy, that he thought he could “cheek” and flaunt Germany with impunity. Hence he ostentatiously neglected to communicate to the German Government, with the usual official courtesies, the substance of the agreement with England anent Morocco, in contravention as it was of the Madrid Convention of 1880 to which both France and Germany had been parties. What followed, of course, was only to be expected. Official Germany was roused. The Kaiser went to Tangier and the diplomatic “fat was in the fire.” The German Government was now driven into the curious position of becoming the champion of a weak barbaric power against the advance of capitalism as represented in this instance by France. Hence Germany was isolated, all the other capitalist forces being naturally against her.

Our comrade Hyndman waxes very indignant at the conduct of Germany towards France last summer. He considers that Germany insulted France. But what France was it that was harried by Germany? Certainly not our France. That the France of M. Delcassé and of the big financiers got a kick from across the Rhine, is not surely a circumstance that need draw tears of resentment from anyone calling himself a Socialist. In what respect is M. Delcassé, the eulogist of the Czar and the Russian alliance, better than Count von Bülow or the Kaiser ? The fact is the “France” of Delcassé, like the “Germany” of von Bülow, means the official embodiment of capitalism and class-ascendancy. Which of them hits the other in the eye it seems to me is no concern of us as Socialists. That there is a strong resentment felt by many Frenchmen at England trying to force France into this Morocco adventure, which can only mean loss to the bulk of the nation, I know for a fact. They have had enough, they say, of Tunis and Madagascar.

One other point. What does it matter, I would like to ask, that Von Bülow, on one occasion, foolishly intimated that Germany had no interests in Morocco – a point which Hyndman is so fond of labouring? The statement was obviously untrue in the face of the German colony at Tangier, and German trade in the country, and is it reasonable, I again ask, to expect that the blundering remark of a statesman shall bind the policy of any State as the “laws of the Medes and Persians”? Comrade Hyndman would not himself expect it in the case of any other State than Germany.

Anyway, the result of German action has been to effectively “dish,” for the time being at least, the designs and tricks of French capitalism – “pacific penetration” and the various dodges for “opening up” the country, sweeping Morocco into the great trough of the world-market, reducing the natives under the factory system, etc.

Singularly enough the German Government has been driven by circumstances into championing (1) the substantial independence of Morocco, and (2) the strictly international character of any control or interference that may take place at all – points which it is surely impossible for any consistent Socialist not to approve. On the other hand, “France,” i.e., a gang of French financial politicians whose interests lie in the direction of “imperial expansion” at all costs to the rest of the nation, had marked down Morocco as their prey. The result of the German action has been, thank goodness, their discomfiture and that of no one else. – Yours,


E. Belfort Bax


Last updated on 10.7.2004