Dora B. Montefiore 1919

Dr. E. J. Dillon on the Peace Conference

Source: The Call, 30 December 1919, p. 4 (1,169 words)
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.

If anything would tend to increase the hostility of Socialists to the existing capitalist system with its greedy crowd of statesmen, financiers, crowned heads, tame Labour leaders, and prostituted press, it would be the perusal of Dr. E. Dillon’s cinematograph-like descriptions of the scenes in the coulisses, and sometimes in the limelight of the stage of the so-called “Peace” Conference, whose labours at Versailles have “made the world safe for hypocrisy.” Dr. Dillon, as a Home Ruler, writes in a vein of cynical irony about the “Great Four” who behaved throughout as benevolent despots, to whom despotism came, more easily than benevolence; and he makes out an absolutely sound case for those who feel that two at least (and those the two chief Anglo-Saxon delegates) were too ignorant of the details of European conditions, geography, ethnography, complicated strategic frontiers, and racial rivalries to be able successfully to fill the role of all-pervading demigods, rearranging the map of Europe according to their make-believe Olympian plan. It is a sublimely ludicrous picture! Woodrow Wilson setting sail from America, preceded by the trumpet blasts of the “Fourteen Points,” the first point being “The Freedom of the Seas,” which he was obliged to drop, before setting foot in Europe, because British statesmen had shown their teeth and had communicated to him by wireless that they would have none of that nonsense. As a matter of fact, we gather from Dr. Dillon’s pages that the much-Vaunted “Fourteen Points” were an absolute frost at Versailles, for “State Secretary Lansing admitted to the States Foreign Relations Committee that the President’s fourteen points, which he had vowed to carry out, were not even discussed at the conference.” As we all know, however, Wilson got even with his co-delegates by insisting on having his shadowy League of Nations endlessly discussed at the conference before any realities of peace were allowed to be considered, thus prolonging by months the armistice, and helping to bring economic ruin and misery on Central and Eastern Europe. He also eased his ethical temperament by hectoring and brow-beating the delegates from the lesser States, using in his process of subjecting them to his will a similar form of pressure to that used by the capitalist to the worker—the economic thumbscrew. “Oh, you won’t consent to advise your Government to have a piece of territory snipped off in one part, or a part taken from you in another part, or a concession for your oil or coal mines granted to the financiers of one of the four Great Powers? Very well then, you will have to go without the food and the raw materials you require, till you come to your senses.” This, in effect, was the language used, and the action taken towards the small fry of the nations by two men, “one of whom had never heard of Teschen before the year 1919,” and the other of whom asked where this place Transylvania was “that the Roumanians were making all this fuss about.” On the subject of the Balkans I must challenge Dr: Dillon’s contention that, “of the total population of Bulgarian and Turkish Thrace, the Turks and Greeks together form 80 per cent., and the Bulgars only 6 per cent.” Every later Turkish census gave an overwhelming predominance of Bulgarians as inhabitants of Thrace, every ethnographical map shows the same state of things, and in most books of travel written about the country stress is laid on the fact that the Bulgarian language is everywhere spoken. Bulgaria was punished by the terms imposed on her at the Peace Conference, first, because she was an enemy Power, and secondly, because her army and a large majority of her people have Bolshevist tendencies and it is deemed expedient to clip her wings, and make her as dependent as possible on the good or bad will of her neighbours.

We Socialists affirm (and rightly from many points of view) that monarchies are side issues, and that it makes little difference whether the various countries where the class struggle is being carried on live under a Monarchy or a Republic. But much of the intrigue which has been carried on during the war is due to the close relationships of some of the reigning families in Europe to our own reigning family. We are familiar with the fact of the Russian Queen Mother having resided for months in London with her sister, the English Queen Mother, where she made herself the centre of Imperialist intrigue against the Soviet Republic. Then we find Roumania, whose queen is a near relative of our King, treated by the terms of its Peace Treaty as a favoured nation, granted the Southern Dobrudja, which was originally Bulgarian territory, and sharing with Serbia the Banat, the richest undeveloped portion of the Balkans. Finally, we note that when the question came up as to whether neutral States should sign the covenant, President Wilson declared himself against such an arrangement, adding, “I think it would be conferring too much honour on them, and they don’t deserve it.” In April, 1919, “the delegates and the world were surprised to learn that not only Would Spain be admitted to the orthodox fold, but that she would have a voice in the management of the flock, with a seat in the Council.” it is needless to labour the point.

Dr. Dillon is more at home in the gossip of a prolonged Peace Conference than in the world of realities of a prolonged class struggle. He devotes a chapter to Bolshevism, which he defines as “a few epileptics running amok among the multitude of paralytics.” He boasts of having been privileged to know Dostoyevsky, who he considers was not a forerunner of Bolshevism, but “one of its keenest antagonists.” Tolstoy and Gorki he looks upon as forerunners, but he does not mention Turgenieff, who shared that honour with them; and writes of Bakunin as if he also were a forerunner of Bolshevism, whereas Bakunin was an anarchist, and bitterly opposed in his writings the authors of the Communist Manifesto, on which Socialism, or Communism is founded. But though our author loathes Bolshevism, he knows enough of European tendencies to realise that it is in the order of coming changes, and that neither abuse, misrepresentation, nor Lloyd . George, nor Clemenceau, nor President Wilson can stay the force of its rising tide. “What Germany borrows from Bolshevism to-day, Western Europe will borrows from Germany to-morrow, and foremost among the new institutions which the revolution will impose upon Europe is that of the Soviets, considerably modified in form and limited in functions.” Bolshevism only offered to the people three points instead of fourteen, and they were bread, land, and peace. When the peoples of Europe extend their hands with real faith in the demand they can have all three of them, they can at the same time sweep away the Versailles Conference, and all its hypocrisies.