Sylvia Pankhurst 1922
Source: Sylvia Pankhurst, “The Truth about the Oil War” Dreadnought Publications pamphlet, 27 pages;
Published: by The Dreadnought Publishers, 152 Fleet Street, London, E.C. 4., Price One Penny.
Oil concessions are those for which the great capitalists scramble most eagerly to-day.
Oil shares are amongst the most profitable of all shares.
Oil is the fuel which gives the greatest proportion to-day of all-round efficiency, combined with cheapness, both for manufacture and transport.
Oil is the principal fuel of the world’s navies.
Whoever owns the oil in peace-time; in wartime the oil will be seized by those armies and navies which control the road to it and the territory where it lies. They will seize it for their own use, and prevent its use by others.
Possession of the Narrow Seas was always hotly contested because of their war-time importance. Now that oil is the fuel of navies, those narrow seas, the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus, have assumed an enhanced importance, because there are rich oil-bearing lands beside them.
The Turkish Petroleum Company was formed in London before the War to exploit the Mesopotamian oilfields. Originally it was an Anglo-German company, but the Germans lost their money in it as a result of the War. Mesopotamia having been captured by the British Army during the war, and subsequently retained by the British Empire, the British capitalist oil company is sure that the Government of Mesopotamia will place its interests before all others, unless the Turks oust the British and recover Mesopotamia.
With the support of the Banque de l’Union Parisienne and of Thalmann and Company, a French Capitalist group was formed in Paris to exploit the oil wells of Syria. During the world-war the French captured Syria from the Turks, and have kept it since. A French administration therefore at present safeguards the interests of the French oil company.
A British company before the war secured an oil concession from the Turks at Adrianople, in Thrace. The Allies took Thrace from the Turks and gave it to the Greeks as the price of Greek assistance in the War; and, of course, according to custom, it was arranged that the British company should be undisturbed.
The American Standard Oil Company secured an oil concession at Rodosto, in Thrace, on the north shore of the Sea of Marmora; but that is only a “notoriously inferior” oil region – the Americans have largely been “done” over the oil. No doubt they arranged that the Greeks should respect their concession, poor as it is said to be.
There is a vast oil region in the Armenian vilayets of Erzerum, Van, and Bitlis, covering a stretch of 220 miles; it is held by the Turks. This oil could compete favourably in price with Mesopotamian oil, because it could more readily be transported westward to the Mediterranean. French Capitalists are said to have got a promise of this oilfield – or something more substantial than a promise.
There are also other oilfields in Turkey, upon which both British and American concession hunters have cast jealous eyes, but the Turks by the Angora Treaty have pledged themselves to favour the French.
This is why British Capitalism supported the Greeks in their attempt to drive the Turks away eastward; for the Greeks, in return for British assistance, would have shown the favour to British Capitalist exploiters which the Turks are showing to the French in return for French support. This is how the Eastern people use the cupidity of the Western Capitalists to serve their own ends.
This is why, when the British prepared to fight the Turks after the Greek defeat; the French refused to assist. This is why there will presently be a great war in Turkey.
Russia is rich in oil. Before the War the United States, Mexico, and Russia, gave nine-tenths of the world’s oil production. Between 1901 and 1905 Russia produced 374.5 million barrels of oil, which was 38.4 per cent. of the world production. After that Russian oil production decreased: the wells already sunk had evidently passed the highest point of their productivity, but there are other sources and experts say that the Russian output could be greatly increased beyond its hitherto highest point.
Nevertheless, the experts are agreed that there will presently be an acute shortage of petroleum products in Russia, even with the present great reduction of transport and industrial production, which has arisen owing lack of rolling stock and machinery, and other causes. The oil shortage is partly attributed to the burning of eight million tons of oil in the Grosny new oilfield during the Civil War, and to “the practical loss” of the present producing strata of the Baku fields, by far the richest Russian oil region; this loss being attributed to lack of material and skilled engineering labour. As we have seen, however, Russian production was declining even before the War.
In spite of this approaching great shortage, plans by the Russian Soviet Government and by foreign Capitalists are going forward for a great export of Russian oil.
It is difficult, with the data available, to pronounce judgment on this matter; but the policy of great export appears to conflict with the Soviet Government’s professed anxiety for the internal development of Russia – an anxiety supposedly so great that it is made the excuse for abandoning all vestiges of Communism and for calling in foreign Capitalism to accelerate the development. The increased export of oil would seem to be a short-sighted and spendthrift policy. Is it dictated under threat of war?
The Soviet Government some time ago decided to hand over Russia’s oilfields to the foreign Capitalists who had already made vigorous war on Russia, largely for the very purpose of securing these oilfields. The Soviet Government at first proposed to form a unified oil company, 25 per cent. of the shares to be held by the Soviet Government, 25 per cent. by the former Capitalist counter revolutionary owners, and 50 per cent. to be bought by three great oil companies – the Royal Dutch-Shell Combine, British company in which 60 per cent. of the shares are Dutch; the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, an all British company in which the British Government owns the majority of the shares; and the United States Standard Oil Company.
This project was abandoned, partly because Standard Oil and the Royal Dutch-Shell refused to enter into the same combination.
During the Genoa Conference, as everyone knows, it was reported that the Russian Soviet Government had entered into an agreement to give the Royal Dutch-Shell Combine a concession to exploit all the oilfields of Russia.
This aroused the anger of America and France. The Soviet Government and the British denied that such an agreement had been made; but it has since transpired that an agreement was either made, or discussed, by which the Soviet Government was to form an oil-exporting company, the agency for which was to be given to the Royal Dutch Shell Combine, so that all the oil exported from Russia would pass through the hands and be subject to the control and the profits of the Royal Dutch-Shell Combine. In wartime, of course, the Royal Dutch-Shell would not supply oil to countries opposed to Britain.
The Royal Dutch-Shell has acquired more Russian oil properties than any other. It has acquired the Rothschild Company at Baku, and the Rothschild distributing agencies throughout Russia. It has subsidiary companies in the Grosny and Emba (Urals) fields.
In 1920 the American Standard Oil Company purchased control of the Nobel Company in Baku.
The Anglo-Persian Oil Company has since acquired a considerable block of Nobel shares.
British Capitalism does not cease its struggle to control the world’s supply of oil.
British and American Capitalists meet as the great competitors in Russian oil, but British Capitalists have secured the greater part of the spoils.
France at present has little or no part in Russian oil.
Before the War the shares of two big Russian oil companies, the Neft and the Bakinski, were freely dealt in on the Paris Bourse; and the French bankers, Dreyfus and Company, assisted in raising the capital. The enterprises were controlled and operated by Russians.
After the Revolution the owners of Russian oil properties fled to Paris, and there obtained advances from French banks by pledging their confiscated oil holdings. Thus many shares in Russian oil are held by French banks.
Belgians also pledged their oil shares in the same manner. Before the War the Akverdoff Russian Oil Company was acquired by Belgians. The American Standard Oil Company and the French bankers pursued a united policy at Genoa on the question of Russian oil, demanding that the Soviet Government should return all confiscated properties.
Lloyd George and the other British Capitalist representatives, eagerly desirous of obtaining the fullest opportunities for British Capital to purchase all properties from the Soviet Government, declared that in the interests of democratic government, Russia must be allowed to maintain the nationalisation of the oil properties, provided she paid compensation to those from whom they had been confiscated. Nationalisation merely to sell again to a higher bidder, or more powerful interest, is hardly a Communist or even a democratic proceeding; but Lloyd George and the Soviet Government were agreed on this policy. Honesty gets short shrift in international politics, you must know fellow-workers.
Baku is important, not only because it is the centre of rich oilfields, but because it is the base for the refining and distribution of the oil, not only of the Caucasus, but of North Persia, Turkestan, and Siberia.
Batoum is important because it is the port from which Caucasian, Siberian, Turkestan, and Persian oil is shipped westward. There is an oil pipe-line from Baku to Batoum. This pipe is 560 miles long. It has a diameter of 8 inches. It requires nineteen pumping-stations, and has a capacity of a million tons a year.
Batoum before the War was in Russia. It now belongs to the State of Georgia, where there was a clamour for self-determination which was conceded by Soviet Russia. Georgia presently became a Soviet Republic federated with Soviet Russia. The interest taken in little Georgia by some of our Imperialists is explained by the fact that Batoum is in Georgia. Whoever controls Georgia controls the export of oil from Batoum. Georgia as a little independent State could easily be coerced by a stronger power – say the British. Georgia federated with Soviet Russia would be under Moscow’s influence.
The Turks are now laying claim to Georgia, and the Turks are receiving French support.
Both northern and southern Persia are rich in oil. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company – an all-British company, in which the British Government holds the majority of the shares – monopolises the south Persian oilfields.
The Anglo-Persian Oil Company was formed in 1909 to take over the concession held by the Burmah Oil Company and the late Lord Strathcona. This concession had been obtained from the Persian Government by a Mr. Darcy. The Burrnah Oil Company was already exploiting oil in Burmah, and was subsidised by the British Government. The Government secured the controlling interest in the new Anglo-Persian Oil Company.
The Anglo-Persian Oil Company also exploits oil in North Persia, and is in competition there with the American Standard Oil Company. The Persian Government recently granted the Standard Oil a concession on territory which the Anglo-Persian claimed as its own. The dispute is ostensibly patched up, but the Americans are not satisfied.
The United States was the first country to make an extensive use of fuel oil. To-day two-thirds of the world’s oil production comes from the United States; but whilst the oil is being drawn from United States soil at the rate of 450,000,000 barrels a year, the reserves of oil existing in the United States are believed to be only about 7,000,000,000 barrels thus at America’s present rate of consumption her native oil supplies are said to be only enough to last about twenty years.
This estimate of affairs should be taken the some reserve. America is a vast Continent, and further oil reserves are likely to be discovered there. We suspect that American capitalism is advertising and exploiting the situation in order to stimulate popular interest in oil and to secure Government assistance in securing foreign oil resources for American Capitalism to exploit, and thereby increase their wealth. We suspect that British oil experts have also been not unwilling to promote the view that there is a limited supply oil in the world, and that the nation which does not secure its supplies early will presently find itself at the mercy of its neighbours whose oil-driven navies will easily outmatch its own ships.
Be this as it may, British Capitalism, and the British Government itself, have vigorously assisted in using up the supplies of United States oil, and the enterprise has, incidentally, been highly profitable to the capitalists.
The business of securing United States oil for British companies was very stealthily conducted.
A small British mother-of-pearl company called the Shell Transport, traded in distant seas. Aided by Sir Marcus Samuel and by capital from the Rothschilds, the Shell Transport ok up oil, and soon secured concessions in Rumania, Russia, the Dutch East Indies, and Egypt.
In 1911 the Mexican Eagle Company was formed by the Pearson group, with Lord Cowdray at their head, to develop the oils of Mexico. The company; acquired an interest in the rich Tampico oilfields on the Gulf of Mexico, a most important centre, since, through the construction of the Panama Canal half the world’s liners would soon be passing through the Caribbean Sea. American Capitalists objected to this concession, for they regard Mexico as their special sphere of expansion. Rival claimants to rulership in Mexico who have struggled over that little republic during recent years have been subsidised by the rival oil interests – the British and the American – and the struggle still continues.
In 1912-13 the Mexican Eagle secured important concessions from the Governments of Costa Rica, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. These concessions would have been still more important in regard to supplying oil to the ships passing through the Panama Canal. Again the United States protested, declaring that the concessions were an infringement of the Monroe Doctrine. The Governments of the little States which had granted the concessions withdrew them in fear of the power of the United States.
The British-Shell Transport now entered the field. It first obtained concessions in the British Colony of Trinidad, then in Venezuela and Colombia. This time the United States did not protest. It was not yet realised in America that the Shell Transport Company, also, was working in conjunction with the British Government. The Shell Transport veiled its activities by creating a number of subsidiary companies. One of these is the Burlington Investment Company, a subsidiary company of which is the Colon Development Company, a British concern, but formed in conjunction with the American Carib Syndicate.
The Shell Transport did not stop at obtaining concessions in the small States of Central America. It carried its operations into the United States themselves. The United States Government, unlike the British, had preserved the “open door” in regard to oil within its borders. The Shell Transport, or anyone else, American or foreign, could buy land in the States, and if there were oil, or ore deposits below the surface, it could own that wealth with the land it bought.
American public opinion was chiefly concerned at this time with the spread of the great Trusts. Competitors with the Standard Oil Trust were therefore sure of a welcome in many quarters.
The Shell Transport and the Royal Dutch Oil Company, with which the Shell combined in 1907, Soon secured oil concessions in California, Oklahoma, and Texas.
All this was being engineered by the Petroleum Committee, the appointment of which Lord Fisher had secured. The Royal Dutch Oil Company had had its original base of operations in the Dutch East Indies. From 1907 the Royal Dutch and the Shell Transport agreed to grant each other 40 per cent. of the shares in all their new subsidiary undertakings, and an understanding was reached between them on all questions of markets, prices, freights, etc.
When war broke out, the Royal Dutch, like its partner in the Combine, the Shell Transport, placed its resources at the disposal of the Allies and received in return the protection of the British Government, and, incidentally, of its Navy. This understanding is said to have been further strengthened and cemented since the War. The Dutch Government, though at one time regarded as pro-German, has probably also come within the orbit of British influence, just as Belgium is in the orbit of French influence.
During the War the United States supplied 80 per cent. of the fuel oil used by the Allies. The oil capitalists of America made vast sums of money, and were acclaimed for their services to what was called the cause of human liberty.
After the War the American oil kings, observing that their oilfields had passed the highest peak of their productive capacity, began prospecting abroad. In October 1919, one of the prospectors of Standard Oil reached Jerusalem, only to be arrested by the British General in command of the city. President Wilson protested in the name of the Fourteen Points that there should be “equality of treatment,” especially in such countries as Palestine actually “mandated” to the British by the League of Nations, for the protection and welfare of the poor natives, as it was pretended.
The British Foreign Office, with its tongue in its cheek replied that there was no discrimination against its noble Allies, the American capitalists, because, as a matter of fact, the Foreign Office had prohibited prospecting by anyone.
The same reply greeted the request of President Wilson for the “open door” to American oil prospectors in Mesopotamia. In Central America it was discovered that British banks had secured a controlling interest in certain oil companies that had been thought to be American, and in every direction America’s quest for oil met the closed door.
Some British patriots, excessively ignorant, plume themselves on the thought that Britain is a Free Trade nation, and that therefore it is for the good of humanity that the British Empire should be so vast that the sun never sets on it. Here was an illustration of the fatuity of such fancies.
On March 10th, 1920, the United States Senate called for a report upon “the measures taken by foreign Governments to exclude Americans from oilfields.”
One of the British oil kings, Sir E. Mackay Edgar, replied to this challenge in the “Times,” exulting over the manner in which the British Capitalist Government has stolen a march on the Americans:
“To the tune of many millions of pounds a year, America, before very long, will have to purchase from British companies and to pay for in dollar currency, in increasing proportions, the oil she cannot do without and is no longer able to furnish from her own store. I estimate that, if their present curve of consumption, especially of high-grade products, is maintained, Americans, in ten years, will be under the necessity of importing 500 million barrels of oil yearly at 2 dols. a barrel – a very low figure – and that means an annual payment of 1,000,000,000 per annum, most, if not all, of which will find its way into British pockets.... With the exception of Mexico and, to a lesser extent, of Central America, the outer world is securely barricaded against an American invasion in force. There may be small isolated sallies, but there can never be a massed attack. The British position is impregnable.”
On May 17th, 1920, the U.S. Senate received the report it had called for, which stated that the British Empire restricted Americans from exploiting oil within its territories:
“1. By debarring foreigners and foreign nationals from owning or operating oil-producing properties in the British Isles, Colonies, and Protectorates.
“2. By direct participation in ownership and control of petroleum properties.
“3. By arrangements to prevent British oil companies from selling their properties to foreign-owned or controlled companies.
“4. By Orders in Council that prohibit the transfer of shares in British oil companies to other than British subjects or nationals.
“British monopolies have already been established in the United Kingdom, Persia, India, and many other countries....”
The United States Government was now determined to retaliate.
On April 28th it procured from the Senate authorisation for the Naval Secretary to set apart “reserves” of petroliferous land in any State, such land not to be leased or sold without his consent
United States resentment at having been out-manoeuvred in the oil scramble will simmer until it leads to war.
Whilst the British Government admittedly owns half the shares in the Burmah Oil Company and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, it denies, however, that it has either any financial interest or control in the much larger Royal Dutch-Shell Combine, although the Shell and the Anglo-Persian have an agreement by which the Shell markets the produce of the Anglo-Persian. The British Government even denies that it has any control over the commercial policy of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, in which it holds the majority of shares. Such protestations are treated with scorn in France and America, the two countries where the British oil seizure policy is most resented.
As a matter of fact, the Government’s pretence that it does not interfere in oil policy is grossly absurd, because all Governments under Capitalism obey the dictates of the great Capitalists upon oil, as upon other important matters. The men who control the great oil companies are in close touch with the Government. Governments frequently pretend that they do not interfere in commercial matters, but the Foreign Office diplomatists of all the Governments are at the disposal of their great national Capitalists, and when the diplomatists fail to achieve the desired end, the armies and navies are brought into play for the same Capitalist interests.
Before the War the Germans discovered oil in the upper valley of the river Tigris, which waters Mesopotamia and flows south to the Persian Gulf. The Germans had obtained from the Turks a concession to build a railway to Bagdad (that Berlin to Bagdad railway over which there was so much friction!). By this railway it was intended that the Tigris oil would be transported.
The British objected to the Germans developing this oil. The quarrel was patched up for the time being by conceding the oilfields to a firm called the Turkish Petroleum Oil Company, the capital of which was to be provided in part by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, in part by the Royal Dutch, and in part by the Germans. The Germans, as a matter of fact, held only 25 per cent. of the shares, and after the war these were granted to the French by the San Remo agreement.
The jealousy to secure control of Mesopotamia and its oil, and this railway to the East, were part of the great rivalry that led to the War. The British, by the method of the mailed fist, secured control of this important trade route with Mesopotamia and its oil.
In pursuance of the British Imperialists’ deliberate policy of securing world domination through oil, they set themselves to gain control of the oil within the French dominions. The San Remo agreement, though professedly a cementing of the friendly Entente, was a part of this policy.
The San Remo agreement, on behalf of the British and French Governments, was concluded in April 1920, between Sir John Cadman, the chairman of the British Petroleum Executive, and M. Philippe Berthelot, for the French Government. This agreement dealt with oil in Mesopotamia, Galicia, Rumania, Asia Minor, Russia, the French Colonies, and British Crown Colonies.
As to Mesopotamia, the French were to get only the 25 per cent. share held by the Germans in the Turkish Petroleum Company, 50 per cent. being held by the Anglo-Persian Company, and 25 per cent: by the Royal Dutch-Shell. The French Government was to be allowed to purchase 25 per cent. of the output at market rates, and the company was to remain under permanent British control. In return, the French Government is to arrange for the construction, when the company desires it, of two pipe-lines to the Mediterranean, through French spheres of influence, without charging any royalties or way-leaves for the oil transported, also to give facilities at the terminal points for erection of depots, railway refineries, loading wharfs, etc. The material necessary for the construction shall be free from import duties and way-leaves. The French Army of Occupation must guarantee the security of the concern.
In the French Colonies the San Remo agreement binds the French Government to give facilities to Franco-British companies for the acquisition of oil concessions, provided these groups contain at least 67 per cent. of French capital. The British agreed to give “similar advantages” in the British Crown Colonies, “so far as existing regulations allow.” Existing regulations, however, debar other than British subjects from holding oil concessions in British territory, and also limit the amount of shares which may be held by foreigners. It is prescribed, for instance, in Trinidad, that not more than 25 per cent. of the capital and voting rights may be held by foreigners, and that the chairman, managing director, and a majority of the other directors, must be British. The bargain is thus most disadvantageous to the French. The French stipulation applies only to the capital invested in the concern. The result – the outcome of very skilful diplomacy and manipulation by the British petroleum magnates – is that the newly discovered oilfields in French possessions, in Algeria, Morocco, and Madagascar have been handed over to the Royal Dutch-Shell group to exploit. British Capitalist Imperialism is not much concerned as to the nationality of the majority of the small shareholders, so long as it has arranged that the directors of the company and the large holdings which assure the majority at the shareholders’ meetings, are under their control. The majority of the Royal Dutch shares is actually said to be in French hands, but the combine is securely under British control.
This agreement with the Royal Dutch applied, not only to the French Colonies, but to all countries where France might have oil interests. The San Remo agreement applied also to Rumania and to Russia, where the French and British Governments agreed to give joint support to their respective nationals. How this bargain regarding Russia was broken by British Government representatives at the Genoa Conference we have already seen.
Francis Delaisi, in his book on “Oil,” declares that the agreement to hand over the exploitation of French oil to the Royal Dutch was wrung “from the French Government by a promise by Lord Curzon that the French should have Syria. Emir Feisul was then repelling the advance of the French into Syria, and Emir Feisul was supported by British arms and money. When these were withdrawn, on the oil bargain being cemented, the French General Gouraud made his triumphal entry into Damascus, which was acclaimed by the French and British newspapers.
The Greeks have been used by the British Government as a pawn against the Turks, just as Feisul was used against the French. In the latter case, also, the Government is influenced by its rivalry with France. The French interests in the Rumanian oilfields are at least equal to the British; but in Rumania, also, the Royal Dutch will be in control. Though Franco-British companies will be formed, their business will be only to find the capital.
The French shareholders will grow richer by the prosperity of British companies; but the power will be in British hands. The great ones of France bitterly resent the position.
British Capitalism had got the better of French in the San Remo agreement, but it was obvious that the Americans would protest against it because it would keep them out of all territory under French control. The agreement was kept secret at first, but of course it presently became known, and of course U.S. Capitalism objected.
The Americans were already realising the discrimination which the Franco-British oil agreement was causing against them in many directions. For instance, during the War the British Government, by means of the Navy, sequestrated the oil-boats of the German subsidiary company of the U.S. Standard Oil Company. As soon as the Armistice was concluded, the Standard Oil Company asked for these boats to be handed over to it, promising to put them at the disposal of French oil companies. The British Government resisted the demand, the French gave the Americans little support. A year passed in negotiations, during which Standard Oil was losing profits it might have made. Such are not trivial matters to the dividend hunter.
The Standard Oil Company, on April 1st, 1920, formed a Franco-American subsidiary company, which bought a magnificent building in Paris for several million pounds, and made important oil contracts. The San Remo agreement was signed on April 24th, and very shortly afterwards the French Government refused to recognise the contracts between this new subsidiary company of the U.S. Standard Oil and its French customers. The United States Ambassador protested. The French Government’s Commissioner, M. Laurent Eynac, replied ambiguously. Then the text of the San Remo agreement became known; it was published, first unofficially, then officially, in “Le Temps.”
The U.S. Government addressed a Note of protest to France and Britain, demanding the open door – or, in other words, no discrimination against oil concessionaires on account of their nationality. To punish the French, the United States refused to assist in floating the International loan, by which the French Government would realise at once the money which was supposed to be coming to it, in some far future, under the German indemnities.
Nevertheless, the San Remo agreement remained, but the United States is a powerful factor which cannot be altogether ignored. Lord Curzon, the British Foreign Secretary, and Sir John Cadman protested, and still protest, that Britain also believes in the open door. Such protestation, of course, failed to satisfy the Yankees, and it was necessary to allow Standard Oil to resume an oil concession in Palestine, which it had possessed before the War.
The U.S. Standard Oil Company now turned its attention to the rich oilfields of Djambi, in the Dutch East Indies, a matter of much greater immediate commercial importance than Palestine and Mesopotamia. The Royal Dutch-Shell Combine, already established in the Dutch East Indies, was determined to be the monopolist there.
On April 19th, 1921, the United States Minister at The Hague delivered a Note to the Dutch Government, protesting against all the rights in the Djambi area being given to the Royal Dutch-Shell Combine, and expressing the U.S. Government’s concern “that a monopoly of such far-reaching importance in the development of oil is about to be bestowed upon a company in which foreign capital, other than American, is so largely interested.”
The protest was unavailing. British Government influence, and that of Dutch shareholders, was too strong. At the end of April, 1921, the Dutch States General passed the Bill awarding the working of the Djambi oilfields to the Batavia Oil Company, a subsidiary company of the Royal Dutch
The Dutch Government, now a weak subsidiary within the orbit of British Imperial power, dared not refuse the bargain.
The ordinary Dutchman knew nothing of the fact that this concession to the Batavia Oil Company would be one of the causes of the next war. Thus are the people powerless to control their destinies through the medium of Parliamentary Government in a Capitalist State.
After the Dutch East Indies came the conflict between the U.S. Standard Oil Company and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, regarding the oil of Northern Persia. Sir John Cadman was in the United States at the time. Remember that it was he who signed the San Remo agreement for the British Government, that he is technical adviser to the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, in which the British Admiralty owns half the shares, that he was director of His Majesty’s Petroleum Executive, is certainly on whatever Oil Committee the Government is now running, and is also chairman of the Inter-Allied Petroleum Executive. Sir John Cadman endeavoured to patch up an oil peace with the Americans. Although the Government pretends it has no oil policy, Sir John Cadman made an agreement for the equal exploitation of North Persia by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company and the Standard Oil Company. The peace, however, is only a patched-up peace. The oil contest continues, and it is one of the great forces leading to another war.
The guiding principle of Capitalism: the stuff of which it is made is competition, the strife to make profit out of one’s fellows, and to grow richer than one’s fellows. This strife, which is inherent in all the ramifications of society, finds its final expression in the contest of great Empires for world dominion. The British Empire, France, and the United States: these are the great competitors to-day, though the Eastern nations, at present, only striving to free themselves from Western domination, may spring forth as candidates for world dominion presently.
The Allied Governments declared that the last war was the result of Germany’s striving to rule the world. The rulers of the German Empire were as eager for world dominion as are the rulers of the British Empire; but the rulers of the British Empire were, and are much nearer to becoming world rulers. The German Empire was only a candidate for world rulership which had made remarkable progress, considering that it was a late comer in the race.
The contest for world dominion has become keener since Germany was eliminated from the struggle. The fears of each one has intensified that, not itself, but another one of the rivals may become the dominant power, now that the three great competitors, enriched by the War and the spoils rung from Germany and her allies, have increased the vast difference in wealth and power between themselves and the rest of the world. The contest for world dominion, like the smaller contests of Capitalism, can never have a permanent solution. Ever new contests will, and must, arise so long as Capitalism remains. Capitalism is always at war; its component parts are always contending with each other.
The present crisis in the East may result in the British Empire annexing the Straits, as it annexed Egypt and other parts of the Empire. On the other hand, it may lead to a contest which will break up the British combination This may prove to be just one more of “England’s Little Wars” to extend the boundaries of the Empire; but the other great rivals are watching with jealous vigilance be moment when the British Empire shall be attacked, and, if its rivals can compass that, destroyed, and its wealth divided amongst the other combatants. If the British Empire seizes the Straits, it must either fight its powerful rivals to keep the Straits, or it must buy off the jealousy of its rivals by agreeing that they shall secure an equal acquisition of wealth and power, by another theft from Turkey, or some other nation which is unable to resist.
So the contest will continue, always growing fiercer, whilst Capitalism continues. Science places ever more terrible means of warfare at the disposal of the great combatants, the few rich men behind the Governments of the Great Powers, who throw the entire populations of the nations into the strife for their enrichment.
It is useless to imagine that a change of parties, a change of diplomatic method, will check the gigantic contest. The League of Nations itself will either remain a cipher or be used as an instrument in the hands of which ever power can succeed in dominating it.
The great Capitalists and Generals understand this: the world contest presents itself clearly to their minds. They prepare systematically and without compunction for the strife, arranging the wars in which the lives of millions will be sacrificed with the same coolness as Cabinet Ministers manipulate a general election or their wives organise bazaars. They believe the strife inevitable, and by this fatalism, divesting themselves of all sense of responsibility, they merely take what care they can to be on the winning side.
“Wars will never come to an end,” says the supporter of Capitalism; but we who are Communists know otherwise. We know that wars will cease, but only with the downfall of the Capitalist system. We know, further, that with the downfall of the Capitalist system the coercion of nation by nation, class by class, by which the Government of present-day society is maintained, will also disappear. We know that no half-measures will suffice, and that the entire fabric of Capitalism must be swept away if its evils are to be eliminated. Communism and Capitalism cannot dwell together. There is no hope in eliminating merely the big Capitalist, for the small capitalist is continually growing with prosperity into the large capitalist.
Only complete Communism can save us from Capitalism, for Communism cannot exist as a half-measure. There must be:
Common ownership of the land, the means of production, distribution, transport, and communication, and management by councils of those who do the actual work.
Money, barter, and all forms of payment, and buying and selling, and wages must be abolished: Rationing of any sort can only be tolerated in case of scarcity. Each shall give according to his capacity, each shall use according to his needs.