J. T. Walton Newbold

What is the League of Nations—Anyway?

Letter sent to Capt. W.D. Basset, V.C., Secretary of the League of Nations (Scottish Council)

Source: The Communist, September 30, 1922
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: David Tate
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.

Dear Sir,

I am in receipt of your letter of the 18th September, enclosing ticket giving me a seat on the platform at the League of Nations Union meeting at Motherwell on Friday next. I shall not, however he able to attend.

My attitude to the League of Nations is well known in the constituency before which I have been a prospective candidate for nearly four successive years.

In 1918 in the course of my election address, I stated:—

I believe there can be no escape from war and the rumours of wars except by making an end of capitalism, by replacing the rule of the so-called “Democracies”—the great capitalist states—by a World Federation of Free Commonwealths where-in the whole industrial and political power must rest with those who, by hand and brain, contribute to the upkeep of society. They and they alone have any just claim to order the affairs of the world.

For that reason my slogan is “Complete and unconditional surrender of capital and all power to the Working Class”

That still remains the slogan of my candidature. Nothing that has transpired since that time has caused me to modify my opinion—except to strengthen it.

In the judgments of some, the League of Nations is a dream, an idealists’ dream a thing unsubstantial and incapable of realisation in this hard world.

With them I do not concur. Institutions are not conceived out of mere aspirations and ideas—however noble and however enlightened,—but take shape and substance around a framework of material fact and in response to the historic requirements of the dominant class in society at any given time.

The League of Nations was, in its beginnings, the essay of the statesman—the first concrete expression of whose ascendancy in the politics of America was the broadcasting of credit and the centralisation of its control by the Federal Reserve Banking system.

President Wilson was the man who having performed his appointed task of stabilising capitalism in the United States, was entrusted with the mission of saving that system throughout the world.

The greatest exponent of this idea in the British Empire is General Smuts, man who has for a decade been the pliant but not too obvious—and, therefore, more useful tool of the cosmopolitan collection of creditors who rule on the Rand and throughout United South Africa. His nominee, Strakosch, occupies the all-important position of secretary of the League’s Financial Committee. This gentleman’s activities in Central Europe, like those of his patron on the Rand, will some day meet the justice they deserve.

Ter Meulen, Brand, Drummond Fraser—those well-chosen bellwethers of the cosmopolitan banking oligarchies of Amsterdam, London, Paris, Liverpool and, New York,—why do you not be frank and put them upon your note headings, rather than the marionettes whom they move upon the stage of politics?

The League of Nations has a function and a future. The more the Supreme Council is discredited; the more the ascendancy of the bankers over the industrialists asserts itself the more the manipulators of the exchanges and the credit houses handling cotton and the other raw materials extend that secret dictatorship that every banker and every steelmaster knows to his cost, the more do we read and hear of the League of Nations.

The more extended becomes the queue of unemployed at the Labour Exchanges in “this land fit for heroes,” the more the payment of relief drains the emptying coffers of the Treasury and the Parish Councils; the more desperate becomes the financial plight of many a shipping company, a shipyard firm and its gaunt and idle steel works subsidiary, the more do the debenture holders, mortgage holders and creditors cudgel their distracted brains to discover some new form of official receivership.

The more discontented become the masses (walking the streets for years on end), the more they lose faith in government and in established forms; the more they threaten to take power into their own hands—so the more do the harassed capitalists hurry on with the erection of new defences and new safeguards for their property and their dominion.

Much as I should have enjoyed being present to witness the snare set for the bird, I regretfully thank you for your invitation and remain,

Yours very sincerely,
(Prospective Communist Party Candidate for the Burgh of Motherwell and Wishaw)