Tom Quelch 1914

The War and Its Outcome

Source: Tom Quelch, (son of Harry), “The War and Its Outcome,” Justice, 1st October 1914, p.7, supporting John Maclean, letter with same title in Justice, 17th September 1914, p.4, which was a reply to the article “German and Prussian Domination” by Belfort Bax in Justice, 10th September 1914, p.2.
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

Dear Comrade, — I am in cordial agreement with the views expressed by our comrade Maclean in last week’s “Justice.” This war I regard as the crowning triumph of British diplomacy. Our own ruling class are the responsible parties.

The capitalist class in this country definitely determined long ago that sooner or later war would have to take place between Germany and England, and for years past the sole aim of British diplomacy has been to suffocate Germany industrially and politically. Germany was the only serious economic rival of England. The entente with France, Sir Edward Grey’s fondness for Russia — every move in the great diplomatic game has been towards that end.

How successful this policy was is exemplified by the fact that Germany was the first country to suffer from the industrial depression — which was about to spread all over the world. Unemployment had reached a very high percentage — some say 18 per cent. — in Germany just previous to the war. That unfortunate country was blown out like a balloon with commodities, and had got to burst. The main contributing factor to this war, as to all other wars, was the economic one. Social-Democrats, above all others, should not forget that fact. And, seeing that England, France and Russia had the stranglehold on Germany, it was only natural that she should hit out.

It is rather amusing, just now, to find Socialists concerning themselves about the “honour” of this country. The honour on this occasion amounted to careful manoeuvring on the part of Grey and his agents so that Russia and France should be well into the fire, should bear the brunt of the battle, before this country was involved. While the best manhood of France and Russia (with a few hundred thousand British workers) is being wasted in crushing Prussian militarism, our own ruling class, like a set of greedy pigs, is indulging in a mad scramble after German colonies and German trade. One would have thought that Social-Democrats had sufficient knowledge of England’s “honour” in the past to be caught by the plausible bosh that the capitalist Press “spoon feed” to the public. The governing class is not concerned in the least about the desolation of Belgium — it has profited by too many desolating campaigns itself to be squeamish on that score — only in so far as it affords a cloak to its own despicable plundering.

The “Times” cohort of “newspapers” is now setting up a howl for “a fight to a finish.” Let Socialists consider what “a fight to a finish” means before they join with the wolf pack. Are we going to encourage the letting loose of high-souled Sikhs and Gurkhas, Turcos and Sengalese on a “civilising” mission amongst unfortunate German working-class women and children (the ruling class of Germany will be careful to get their own women and children out of the danger zone)? Is it to the interest of the workers of England to completely shatter even the Prussian military caste in order to make the path free and easy for the Russian autocracy and the new, high-straddling British Imperialism? Would it not be more to our interest, as a rising revolutionary class, to have a weakened, crippled Prussian militarism as a balance and a menace to our other foes? Let us aim at a speedy peace.

Now just one word about the German Social-Democracy. Many Socialists seem to have lost faith in our German comrades. They think they should have shown to better advantage during this crisis. Personally, I consider the German Social-Democrats have done exceedingly well to keep their heads and to get as much power into their hands as possible. They are biding their time. It was ridiculous to think that they should precipitate themselves against the callous military adventurers who have unsheathed the sword on behalf of German capitalism before the war. The country was mad with race feeling, and any attempt they made would have proved futile, and would have unquestionably led to the complete disruption of their organisation and numberless shootings and imprisonments. Our comrades t know history too well to be caught in that way. It will be after the war, when the reaction comes, that our comrades will have full opportunity of showing their mettle. And I sincerely believe that the followers and countrymen of Marx, Liebknecht and Bebel, who have displayed so much courage and tenacity in the ceaseless struggle for their ideals, and who have so many times given substantial proofs of their international solidarity, will in every way prove themselves worthy of the glorious cause of Socialism.

-Yours fraternally,

Tom Quelch.