Arthur MacManus

A Call

Source: The Socialist, November 1918.
Transcription: Adam Buick
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2006). 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.

At last the European War has drawn to a close.

To analyse the cost and estimate it in terms of men and money is superfluous, as there scarcely exists a home that has not either directly or indirectly, been called upon to render its quota, and one but irritates the flesh of the raw wound.

What can and ought to be done is rather to learn the lessons of the War and apply them in shaping our destiny in the future.

And foremost among the many lessons is the enormous amount of human suffering and sacrifice a people is called upon to make when war-fiends are let loose. Consequent upon this is the moral: Render war impossible in the future. We know that every one has this on the tip of their tongue, and the casual observer inclines to feel assured that the moral repugnance against its ghastly character has arisen, and that public opinion will never again tolerate war. But the price paid for this war is the price paid for reliance on such pretentious pleas, and it therefore behoves us to go further and ensure that impossibility by creating such machinery as will prevent war. It is for this purpose that the League of Nations is being so generally discussed, and were the terms of reference: “To secure the aims and objects which in the past led to war, in such a way as will obviate war”—then the League of Nations is the best scheme yet advanced. That this is the point of view, animating most of those attending to reconstruction is demonstrated by the very character of even their catchwords: Freedom of the Seas; German boycott; Colonial homogeneity—all of which simply imply structure and machinery to secure scope for the ordinary purposes of commercial trading.

If commercial security contained within itself elements ensuring an opportunity to all the people to live the life that is in them, in a way in which they might do, and in such a way as Nature intended them to do, then there might be some reason for the working class to give support to these schemes. Commercial security will not mean security of your job. It will not mean full scope to develop your home as you ought to do. It will not give you the right to determine your own or your family’s existence.

In short, it will still keep you bound to the factory-life—a wage-worker, with possibly more wages than formerly, but a wage-worker nevertheless; compelled by the sheer force of this economic fact to rule your lives according to the dictates of those interested only in making profit out of the security of commercial trading, and consequently out of your very flesh and blood. No, the League of Nations, in so far as it is not a league to ensure and maintain the freedom of the people within the nations, is of no value to us.

If the working class allow society to be re-established on the old basis of one class exploiting and living on the very life’s blood of another class, then our children will have good and sufficient reason to curse us for our selfish ineptitude and indifference. We cannot plead as our fathers could, ignorance. Have not the Russian workers shown the way? Bereft even of our possibilities, and at a greater disadvantage than we, yet they rose in their might and decided that Russia was going to belong to the people of Russia, and not to Czarist autocracies—nor yet to Russian and European capitalist speculators, some of whom never set eyes on Russia.

That way lies the solution. Britain for the people of Britain, and not as it is to-day, for a handful of them. If the Government succeeds in getting their Whitley Reports, &c., accepted by the workers then the door is opened to another generation of enslavement, toil, and the wanton sacrifice of the manhood and womanhood of the working class. Reject these schemes for the pretentious packets they really are, and turn your attention rather to the purposes of securing your own freedom and leave the employers to look after themselves.

This is what is meant by Revolution! From all parts of the world come rumblings denoting the rising of the workers, clearly pointing out that in all countries the workers are no longer going to tolerate the life of slavery that has been theirs in the past. Are we going to be behind?

We of the S.L.P. say No!!! And would urge all workers to make this their cry at elections and on all occasions in the workshop. On with the Revolution and the Socialist Republic!!!

Our comrades in Russia are stretching out their arms, beseeching assistance, and this way lies real assistance.

They are standing upright in the full dignity and strength of their newly-won freedom, imploring us to rise from our knees and stand erect, side by side with them and shoulder to shoulder—forming the only League of Nations capable of preventing war and ensuring peace: the League of International Working-Class Solidarity, bound and knit together by the bond of comradeship, and not commercial and profit-seeking interest.

A. M. McManus.