The Worker January 1916

Shall the Apathetic Make the Rebels, Slaves?

Source: The Worker no. 4, 29 January 1916 p. 8, by E.M.;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

It has been said that many of the Clyde workers are indifferent to the Compulsory Military Service Bill, That, like unto bodies inanimate, and without mind and will, they choose the path of least resistance, careering hither and thither helplessly to whatever doom may await them.

That may or may not be, but let us consider the position. Among workers there are two distinct types. The one represents the worker who remembers the treatment meted out by the bosses in the past, recognises his own status in society, understands the fear of the bosses regarding the growing intelligence and power of the workers, and has no illusions as to the danger, yea, the consumate cross-eyed folly, of yielding to these same bosses, a weapon which would leave the much-hated, intelligent and outspoken workers entirely at their mercy.

That type of worker is unalterably opposed to Military Compulsion of any kind. He has studied history and he knows that the master class as a whole have opposed, do now oppose, and will in the future oppose, by every means in their power, any attempt of the workers to improve their conditions of living.

He also perceives that conscription would involve the destruction of Trade Unionism, and a host of minor liberties which would perish along with it.

That man only wants a lead and he will fight to the bitter end, along with numerous workers of the same vertebrate type on the Clyde and throughout the country.

I repeat, give the men who feel in their bones the chafing of the oppressors chains and shackles, a chance to unite as one man, on a common platform; and they will make the Powers of Hell tremble.

But it is said another type exists on the Clyde. Unthinking, inert, narrow, bourgeois, ignorant, petty, short-sighted men-pleasers. Men with no convictions, but prejudices, no fundamental principles of life, but superstitions. Men who believe that three meals a day, work and sleep, is the be all and end all of their existence. I do not blame these men. They will not always be so. Education has taken many of us out of the same pit. We hope they will be rescued too. But we know that it takes time, and no man will change his direction, simply by being told to. Not, at least, until he is persuaded in his own mind that he is doing the right and manly thing. The masters are preparing the shackles, and before many days have passed they will be binding us. . . unless the intelligent anti-slavery workers act. This is not the time for ordinary propaganda, for indefinite organisation.

It is possible that if we allow day to follow day in vain efforts to convert the unthinking, the unwilling, and cowardly; if we fritter away precious hears, discussing organisation which might bring the apathetic into line with the rebels, I say it is possible that we shall perish on the Sacred Altar of organisation itself. That is a danger, an increasing danger, and it is because I realise that, that I wish to repeat once more – Let those who would save Britain, Save Liberty, Save Civilisation, Save Themselves, Strike one collective Blow at Conscription. And Now.

K. S.

Morris Hall, Shaw Street
SUNDAY; 30th January, at 6.45

Speaker – J.B. HOUSTON, M.A.
Subject – “The Enslaving of the Workers.”

SUNDAY, 6TH February

Printed by the Socialist Labour Press, 50 Renfrew Street, Glasgow.