Dora B. Montefiore 1918

Educate, Agitate, Organise

Source: The Call, 26 December 1918, p. 4
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.

The elections that have been forced upon us by our unscrupulous Junkers, led by their Welsh demagogue, are over. As to the results of our B.S.P. candidatures, we await them with philosophic calm, knowing full well that if the present wave of organised revolt does not surge into Westminster and sweep the babbling politicians and lying lawyers off their feet, why the next one, which will have gathered strength in a year or two, will do so. That this recent election was a long-planned and deeply-laid scheme on the part of the enemy is apparent in the working of the women’s vote, and in the cunning displayed in rushing forward the polling day before the return of the soldiers and sailors. It has been well known for years that the women municipal voters were the backbone of ignorance and reaction; they were therefore carefully selected as parliamentary voters, and to them was added the great mass of married women whose husbands are ratepayers. All the young, better educated, more evolved and class-conscious women were carefully excluded from the ballot box at the important election which was to decide which class was to reconstruct after the capitalists’ war had laid the world in ruins. Again, what chance had our soldiers and sailors in the ice-bound ports and wastes of extreme Northern Russia, in the sandy deserts of Mesopotamia, of Egypt, or of Palestine, of weighing up the issues on which this recent election has been fought? How can they in those remote parts of the world have access to the literature written by their class, for their class, in order to refute the cheap lying promises and rhetoric of the master and profiteering class? Take the question of Housing, which Mr. Lloyd George in each one of his speeches has dangled before the eyes of the women voters more especially. Do either the millions of returning soldiers or their wives realise that there can be no settling of the housing question as long as the land is in the hands of private owners? The Russian peasants realised that and made the socialisation of land the basis of their demand. After that came the socialisation of other things (such as the railways, canals, factories, mines, and workshops) essential to life of the people; and thus, and thus only, could the housing question be settled in Great Britain. If rent had just to be paid for the land, and profit paid on the iron, the wood, the cement, the bricks, the tiles to be used in the construction of the necessary houses, the rents would be assessed at a rate beyond what the workers can pay, as is the case in the Garden City schemes. The soldier has fought for his country, has fought for his home. He must have his home and his garden if he desires it; but he must have it without bringing in profits to landlords or shareholders. Again, in the matter of education, Mr. Lloyd George has in electioneering speeches gushed about the children of the workers receiving the same education as the children of the rich. None can know better than the Prime Minister that such an educational state of things is impossible as long as all privilege lies with the possessing classes, and all the richest educational endowments are in their hands. Why, those special privileges were, in the Representation of the People Act, made doubly secure by retaining parliamentary representation for the Universities, and giving these Universities a special polling day, so that Plural Privilege Voting could be exercised. Until we can really democratise our education, so that no teacher in Council Schools shall be called upon to teach a class of more than twenty children, and until those children are maintained by the community in a state of health that enables them to receive instruction profitably, we shall not have begun to “make the world safe for democracy.”

It is quite within the bounds of possibility that the flatulent advertisements in the columns of the “Daily Mail,” wherein Mr. Lloyd George claims support at the polls for himself and his profiteering friends on the grounds that “he has won the war, and given votes to women,” may pass the Censor more easily than does the literature of the Labour Party, and that on the Murman coast and in the Black Sea our soldiers and sailors may at times mistake fiction for facts. It is as well, therefore, that they should be enabled to read the opinions of some, on this question of “winning the war,” who cannot be suspected of Socialism, and who yet do not support Mr. George in his assertion that he has won the war. Lord Mersey, when taking the chair for Mr. Asquith in June of this year, said: “No one could predict when peace would come, but even then many years must elapse before we should be able to say who was the winner of the war.” And Lord Buckmaster is reported to have said in a speech at the National Liberal Club: “The real winners of the war will be determined ten or twenty years afterwards, and they will be the nation who will be best able to face the growing discontent of a disillusioned people, to ward off growing famine, and to save their people from the universal bankruptcy to which Europe is speeding every day with increasing pace.” Therefore, in the opinion of those who are not vote-catching demagogues, the war is not yet won, the nations of the world are threatened with “growing famine and bankruptcy,” and the people generally are disillusioned. It. is as well to make a note for future reference of these interesting points, as these are the eruptive troubles that are supposed specially to afflict countries which have opted for Bolshevism! As to Mr. Lloyd George’s claim that he gave the vote to women, and therefore deserves their gratitude, our reply is that just as the soldiers fought to win the war, so the women fought to win their political freedom. They have neither of them yet finished the fight, because the soldiers have not yet obtained their homes for which they fought, and only some women have been enfranchised; and their reply to Mr. Lloyd George is: “Thank you for nothing.”

Meanwhile our work of education, organisation, and agitation grows ever more and more strenuous. We Marxians hold the interpretation which alone can help the people to crystallise their scattered atoms of rebellion into intelligent, ordered, insistent demand, backed up by political and industrial action. Never before have the capitalists provided such favourable conditions for the spread of industrial education and agitation. For the prosecution of their war they have brought labour from the ends of the earth, and the ferment of the life and death struggle of the masses, fighting body to body for the interests of their masters and oppressors, has taught the people what nothing else could have taught them that if life is to be worth living it is worth controlling, and that henceforth neither Emperors, Kings, Politicians, nor Priests should control the destinies of the workers, but that the workers themselves, through their own Soviet Councils, elected solely by the workers, should take and hold for the benefit of the whole community the power that administers all things which are necessary for the life of the community. It will then be not any one nation which has won the war, but it will be the workers of the world who have won it, and who at the same time have won the world for the workers.