E. Belfort Bax

“Poison” and Preparedness

(26 October 1922)

E.B.B., “Poison” and Preparedness, Justice, 26th October 1922, p.7. (review)
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Proofread by Chris Clayton (May 2007).

The Poison That Destroys, by E.D. Morel (ILP, 8 Johnson’s Court, E.C.4) 2d.

Military Preparations for the Great War, by E.D. Morel. (Labour Publishing Co., 6 Tavistock Square, W.C.1) 6d.

We have received a copy of two of Mr. Morel’s latest attempts to whitewash the late German Imperial Government. It is important to emphasise the fact that it is the Imperial Government of Germany, military and civil, that Mr. Morel is concerned to defend. There is evidence enough after all that has passed in Germany that public opinion is perfectly well aware that the mass of the German people were hoodwinked and betrayed by their Government and the military oligarchy which really ruled the pre-war German State. This defence of the system and the classes concerned is, of course, simply playing into the hands of the Junkers and the reactionary classes generally who are responsible, and who are still active in their endeavours by any means, fair or foul, to destroy the German Republic.

We have, of course, the usual arguments of the so-called “pacifists” which, put shortly, amount to the grave charge against the nations threatened by pre-war Germany that they wickedly took certain steps, as the event proved in the autumn of 1914 quite inadequate, in the direction of self-defence. Of course, we are told that the idea of Imperial Germany having planned the war for years before it actually broke out, which is confirmed as a fact by the State Archives published by Karl Kautsky and in the crushing indictment of German pre-war policy, contained in his book Wie der Weltkrieg Entstand, is untrue. This is the sort of thing that counts as argument with Mr. Morel and presumably other members of the Union of Democratic Control. To take one instance. A heinous charge is made of the fact that Lord Haldane has admitted that the problem which presented itself to him in 1906 (!) was how to mobilise and concentrate at the place of assembly to be apposite near the Belgian frontier, a British expeditionary force of 160,000! Amazing admission! (pp.11-12). What is there amazing about it? It is surely quite natural, seeing that it was the well-known intention of the German General Staff to invade France, and possibly afterwards this country, by way of Belgium, either by agreement or by force of arms. We confess that, to us nothing seems more obviously legitimate than to make provision for that event. M. Morel evidently forgets that Napoleon called Antwerp the key to England.

It would be interesting to know whether our friends of the U.D.C. actually believe that England or France really meditated an aggressive attack on Germany! In the absence of any shadow of proof of this, the purely defensive character of the measures adopted by the Western Powers must be the very obvious explanation, one would think, to any unbiased mind. Yet these are the measures upon which Mr. E.D. Morel launches the full blast of his indignation

The second pamphlet received, Military Preparations for the Great War, is merely an array of statistics with the intention of proving the preparedness of the Western nations to meet the German attack. Our only answer is small blame to them if they were prepared! But, as a matter of fact, that they were not prepared is proved by the fact of the victories of the invading forces in Belgium and France the initial stages of the war. Surely the virtual “walk over” of the German Army to within striking distance of Paris in August and the early days of September 1914 is sufficient motif of this, quite apart from any question of the armaments in existence.




Last updated on 28.5.2007