Throughout history there were always a few who warned us.
Often they were ignored. Mostly the message was repressed by those in power to keep the truth hidden.
In 1910, George R. Kirkpatrick published the book “War – What For?”
I don’t think it ever became required reading in our schools.
Excerpts and Illustrations:
Justice heals the wounds and sores in the social body.
Justice strikes down all robbery—illegal and legal.
Injustice burns, irritates—kills sociability and creates conflict.
Injustice prevents brotherhood.
Injustice is unsocial—anti-social—and is thus a social sore.
Injustice, organized injustice, is the soul of all class-labor forms of society.
The purpose of all class-labor forms of society is robbery.
The robbed resist—sometimes.
The robbers are ready for resistance—always.
In all class-labor forms of society the ruling class always have:
FlRST, AN ARMED GUARD—READY :
ready to serve as tusk and fist of the robber ruling class,
ready to suppress protesting chattel-slaves,
ready to suppress protesting serfs,
ready to suppress protesting wage-earners,
ready to defend the class-labor system,
ready to extend the class-labor system,
ready to defy and defeat and hold down and kick the robbed working class.
Second, an unarmed guard—composed of prideless purchasable human things, social chameleons, moral eunuchs, political flunkies—intellectual prostitutes—
ready to make laws in the interest of the ruling class,ready to interpret laws in the interest of the ruling class,
ready to execute laws in the interest of the ruling class,
ready to cunningly cajole and beguile the toil-cursed working class,
ready to cunningly teach meekness, humility and contentment—to the working class,
ready to cunningly teach servility and obedience—to the working class,
ready with grand words to cunningly dupe and chloroform—the working class,
ready to bellow about “Law and Order” when the un-employed call loudly for work or bread and when hungry strikers open their lips in self-defense,
ready “for Jesus’ sake” (and a salary) to glorify war and scream to the “God of Battles” (also the “God of Peace”) for victory;
ready to baptize wholesale murderand flatter the blood-stained conquerors;
ready to whine and mumble over the shell-torn corpses of the victims and hypocritically sniffle and mouth consolatory congratulations to the war-cursed widows and orphans—
ready thus to mock their own ruined victims—for a price; ready to preach—to the workers—that they must fight like hell to “get a home in heaven.”
Many of my brothers—my betrayed younger brothers—are soldiers : they have been seduced to serve as Armed Guard. They have been deceived. And they are abused. Many of them are even driven insane.
Imagine J. P. Morgan, rifle in hand, doing picket duty on a dark, sleet-drizzling night. Imagine J. Ogden Armour, George Gould and Thomas F. Eyan with heavy shovels dig-ging trenches, stopping at noon to eat some salt pork, em-balmed beef and stale crackers. Imagine Eeggie Vanderbilt as a freighter hurrying rations to the front and taking care of six mud-covered horses at night. Imagine the strong younger John D. Eockefeller on the firing line with his breast exposed to the hellish rain of lead from a Gatling gun.
Yes, indeed,—just imagine a whole regiment of big bankers and manufacturers dressed in khaki, breakfasting on beans and bacon, then rushing sword in hand to storm a cannon-bristled fort belching fire and lead and steel into their smooth, smug faces—for fifty cents a day.
Brother, when you are ordered to the front just glance around and notice the noisily patriotic gentlemen who keep to the rear—at home where it is safe and delightfully quiet. These patriots in the rear will sweetly say, “See you later!”
If you ever get back from the war, they will see you when they flatteringly give you a “welcome home.” Mark you: When war breaks out these “best people” do not say, “Come on, boys, come on—follow us.” Hardly. It is “Go on, boys, go ahead, go right on. We will be with you.” That is, they will be with you as far as the railway station, and after that these “prominent people” will give the “brave boys” absent treatment.
Brothers, my American brothers, brothers of all the world, —if you have minds exercise them—for your own class; if you have pride, show it—for your class; if you have loyalty, prove it—for your class ; if you have power, use it—use it in self-defense—for your class; if you can climb, why, climb, united with your class altogether—climb out of hell, the hell of capitalism.
Divided, your masters despise you.
United, your masters dread you.
Get together, brothers, and get up off your knees.
Refuse to go to hell—the hell of war.
Refuse to stay in hell—the hell of capitalist industry.
Unite ! For peace and freedom—unite!
Form, toilers, form!
A solid front on the battlefield—of industry.
A solid front on the battlefield—of polities.
Light a lamp in your neighbor’s brain.
Strike a fire in your neighbor’s heart.
Society is, and always will be—as free as the majority have sense enough and pride enough to make it ; or as tyrannical as the majority are meek enough to permit it to be.
Brothers, will you be tricked to the trenches, march in the mud, murder your class and bleed yourselves for such as these ? Will you stand at “attention” for these international leeches ? What about loyalty to your own class ?
And the working class are thinking to-day more than ever before. And, thinking, they begin to see that hand-clapping, fife-playing, drum-beating and buncombe from a prostituted orator are neither freedom nor justice, nor even the sign of such; but are, rather, just what Mark Twain called them* —a “bastard patriotism.”
The motive of the young men who voluntarily join the army or the militia is possibly, in many cases, a good motive. Perhaps they do not see the tricks of the string-pullers behind the scenes, the powerful motives of the industrial masters be-hind the curtains.
Like hungry wolves hotly eager in sight of prey, like clouds of vultures swooping confidently over a field strewn with a vile feast—thus the capitalist nations are gathering together their drums, their rifles, cannon, dynamite,. lyddite, embalmed beef, hospitals, soldiers, marines, battleships, and boat-de-stroyers, preparing to assemble for bloody struggles.
There is talk of peace—but preparation for war.
Simply to secure more opportunity to make more profits for more money-hungry cowards, who will loll at home—safe —while the brave boys” do the fighting.
There is talk of peace—and preparation for war.
Refuse, brothers, refuse. Be proud. Refuse to let your flesh rot and your bones bleach at the bottom of the ocean in the interest of these international leeches.
Lift up your meek faces, you tricked toilers of the world. The war trenches are yawning for your lives—a gulf in which the hopes, the happiness, the blood and the tears of your class will be swallowed.
When you understand, brothers, you will defend yourselves.
The day is dawning when the working class will not only shrewdly refuse to be tricked to the trenches, but will also proudly seize all the powers of government in defense of the working class. The working class must defend the working class. The state, the school, the press, the lecture platform, and even part of the church, all these powerful institutions, are at present used to fasten and hold the burdens of toil and the curse of war on the backs of the brutalized and despised working-class producers and the working-class destroyers.
It is our move, brothers. Have we sense enough for self-defense?
Let it be remembered that in the gentle heart of a humble mother whose loving sons have been butchered in battle, it is always winter. The cheap rhetoric and hypocritical com-pliments of the coarse-grained political orator, the honeyed words of any man in any profession—sacred or secular—craftily exempted from the war which slew her loved ones, these can not charm the wintry desolation of her life into rare June weather. Nor can the wound in her mother heart be healed with a stingy quarterly allowance of filthy money called a
pension. When her loved ones were slaughtered her joys were slain.
This woman must indeed protect herself; and she can protect herself, somewhat,—if she will.
She can do this : She can teach her child to hate—to hate war.
Boy, kill one human being, and you will be called a murderer—despised and hanged. But kill a thousand human beings in war—and you become “great”! Deluded women smile upon you, little children gape at you, preachers praise you, politicians pet you, orators glorify you, capitalists grin at you, universities honor you, and the Government medals and pensions you;—but lonely, war-orphaned children and war-robbed widows, these despise you exactly in proportion as they understand you.
Remember, boy, the soldier’s sword reaches through the slaughtered father to others—reaches the hearts of helpless women and helpless children.
Which would you rather be, boy, a dead and useless slaughterer of men, or a live and useful man of peace?— a dead butcher or a live brother?
“Leading citizens” actually lead. They are the capitalists. Industrially and politically the capitalists have the world by the throat. They force their ambitions, their purposes, and their policies upon both the preacher and the wage-earner.
Their purpose is : profits, more profits and still more profits.
Their policy is: more markets and more territory—for more profits, at all hazard, in absolute defiance of Confucius, in defiance of Buddha, in defiance of Christ, in shameless defiance of the saeredness of human blood. They will, if need be,—that is, if business, commercial exigencies, require it—they will order the high-salaried generals to wash the earth with the blood of the socially despised working class, while safe in their palatial homes these “leading citizens” will masquerade as patriots, and on the “holy Sabbath day” they will virtually force their salaried pastors to pray and shout for blood-dripping victory.
This is the industrial rulers’ history.
This is the industrial rulers’ present politics.
This is the industrial rulers’ future program.
And the preacher must therefore salute the cash-register and baptize the cannon—or lose his job just like any other hired man who fails to please his economic master.
“Business is business,” — that is “the law and the gospel” of capitalism.
The workers should learn from history and keep distinctly in mind this great lesson : With noble individual exceptions the ministry, the religious leaders, have in times past defended chattel slavery with its unspeakable horrors for the working class ; and have defended serfdom with its hell for the working class; and have ignobly defended all Christian national and international wars of modern capitalism praying on both sides to the “God of battles” for “glorious victory” regardless of the blood spurting from a million wounds in the torn breast of the working class.
The path of human progress in modern times is steep and slippery with the carcasses and blood of the socially despised working men—and the Church has not defied the cash-register idolater and demanded peace.
Brotherhood and peace—divinely high thought!
But, alas ! the thought is too high for low-browed strenuosity of the tough-rider type; the thought is too large and fine for the poor brain of a bull-dog or a human bully or a socially blunted holy man or any other breed of stunted runts.
The strutting, thin-brained rooster in the farmyard crows, “Hurrah for this our very own dunghill, the finest filth pile on earth.” Thus this spurred and feathered patriot virtuously cultivates his vanity by boisterously challenging “the enemy” in the neighboring farmyards.
“Hurrah for our tribe,” screams the savage—patriotically.
“Hurrah for our village of Squeedunk,” yells the local human shrimp. More patriotism.
“Hurrah for our great city!” squeals the boastfully “metropolitan” small man sweltering in unspeakable corruptions.
“Hurrah for the nation—right or wrong!” yelps the patriotic national mongrel.
And thus these socially puny creatures, these social runts, stand ready, as it were, to “patriotically” throw carbolic acid at their national and international neighbors.
“Hurrah for Mankind, hurrah for Life!” finely calls the socially developed man, the Increasing International Man.
On the Political Field the capitalist class divide the working class into two or more groups and have them
politically antagonize themselves, have all the workers all the time politically sting and defeat one another—that is,—have them cancel the political power of the working class.
Thus the confused working class are easily defeated politically—which makes it far easier to rob them industrially.
We must learn this: Everywhere, always and under all circumstances the working class must stand together in the use of all forms of power we have in defense of our class.
Having distinctly in mind, then, these important preliminaries,—and especially the fact that whatever we do in self-defense we must do as a class handed together, let us consider still further the source—the fountain-head—of the trouble called the class struggle, one form of which is commonly called war.
All great military leaders in all wars—in all struggles — in all time have always used the two following tactics:
First: Divide the enemy, if possible, and have them crush one another; or,
Second: If circumstances hinder the first tactics, then divide the enemy and crush them one part at a time.
And the captains of industry, the capitalists, right now employ these tactics with success. They themselves band together, but they divide and rule the working class.
War — war broadly considered — the class struggle, throughout the history of civilized society is no more and no less than the natural aggressive robbery by a part of society provided with an opportunity to rob and the natural resistance of the class that is robbed.
War, the war, is aggression and resistance—robbery and resistance—plunder and protest :
(1) The aggressive industrial robbery by one class, and
(2) The resistance to industrial robbery by the other
Not only in the history of civilized peoples everywhere for thousands of years, but also in our own present-day capitalist society everywhere, we see this natural aggression and natural resistance.
The result to-day—as in the past—is struggle, war, class war—between the parasites and the producers.
The war is the class war.
The conclusion cannot be dodged: Peace is impossible—UNDER CAPITALISM.
In spite of all the sincere and insincere hopes and prayers for peace there will always be, under capitalism, legalized wholesale plundering of the workers by the capitalist employers—a form of aggressive social parasitism by the employers and vigorous resistance by the workers in proportion to their realization of the robbery;—and consequently there will be wage struggles, wage reductions, compulsory underconsumption, “over-production,” unemployment, bread lines, soup kitchens, rent riots, evictions, “demand-work” marches, strikes, picketing, “scabbing,” boycotting, lockouts, injunc-tions, “bull-pens,” blacklisting, insterstate kidnapping; and also anti-picket thugs, policemen, Pinkertons, deputy sheriffs, constabulary, cossacks, militiamen and the “regulars” shooting down underpaid, underfed workers; everywhere the belittled lives and the spilt blood of the working class.
And there will be increasing opposition to free assemblage, opposition to free speech, opposition to free press—in order to silence discussion and stop the spread of knowledge of what is fundamentally wrong.
Now what shall we do about it?
It is as plain as “a, b, c.”
War and all the forms of the class struggle are excessive social inflammation.*
(a) Injustice violently inflames society.
(b) Social parasitism is monstrously unjust.
(c) Social parasitism therefore inflames society—and
should be destroyed.
(a) Any form of society that produces and protects a
class of social parasites will always inflame society, and should
therefore be destroyed.
(b) Capitalism produces and protects a class of social
parasites, and thus inflames society.
(c) Capitalism must therefore be destroyed.
Society must be organized with justice in its structure.
We must search for justice—for a new social structure.
We must construct a form of society that will “make it easier to do right and more difficult to do wrong/’
Shall we be non-resistant?
No, emphatically, no.
Non-resistance is not natural (especially for the class con-scious workers) —for workers who understand their interests as a class; and non-resistance is not reasonable, is not safe, and is not possible. Non-resistance would mean defeat and degradation for the working class—forever.
Then is peace a childish dream and is war to be an end-less wrangle and blood-spilling nightmare—for the working class ?
We must resist.
But we should not resist first and only by physical force.
The working class must think—or they will have to struggle and bleed and weep and wait forever,—wait and
whimper like babies in the woods for “some one” or some “good people” to come and “save” them.
The workers must think till they find a form of social organization in which the fundamental cause of war, that is, class robbery, will have no opportunity, and will therefore cease to exist.
What must we do?
We must destroy capitalism and close the class struggle.
In all the variations of the struggles or wars of capitalism the working class are hired, flattered, fooled, or forced to do all the actual fighting.
This must cease—as soon as possible—as a preliminary.
This will cease^-when the conscious workers successfully explain capitalism and war to the confused and deluded workers. War will cease when we have explained the national and international conspiracy of the capitalist class.
War will cease when we rouse the workers of the world by explaining.
By explaining we inform.
By informing we increase intelligence.
By increasing intelligence we increase self-respect and the passion for a greater life and for the freedom necessary for a greater life.
Explain—inside and outside the ranks—everywhere—in shop, mill, mine and on the farm.
Explain till emperors and presidents dread their own conscripted and “volunteer” armies.
Explain till murder for board and clothes and $ a onth looks vile.
Explain till young working-class men inside and outside the ranks see the light.
Explain till an advertisement for human butchers and military fists becomes utterly disgusting to the working class.
Explain till our class becomes class conscious—till it sees itself, sees its class interest and its class power.
Explain till our class can not be fooled, hired, flattered or forced to butcher or be butchered.
Explain till our class, like the capitalist class, understand the political method of class defense.
Explain till millions of the roused workers of all political parties clasp hands at the ballot box in a political party of their own class for the defiant self-defense of their own class.
Explain, till our class clearly sees and proudly declares that we must destroy the capitalist class-labor form of so-ciety and reconstruct society on a plan of rational mutualism.*
The working class must, then, legally, do whatever is necessary to protect themselves from the strangling clutches of the capitalist class.
And here is what is necessary:
The working class must themselves become organized political auhority, must seize the powers of government—and thus secure legal control of sovereign political power which carries with it the legal right to control, or revise, or abolish, or reorganize industrial institutions; must thus secure the legal right (and power) to construct and inaugurate that industrial form of society which will destroy capitalism with its organized, legalized opportunity for class robbery, and which will, at the same time, substitute organized, legalized opportunity for every member of society to make a living without being robbed, opportunity to live without wasting and vulgarizing his life in a struggle against his fellow men.
One more word here:
With pride and defiance hold up your heads—and think.
Prepare to say: “WE REFUSE.”
Beware. Another war is brewing.
“Another war is necessary!”
—your betrayers will presently tell you.
True! From the capitalist’s point of view another war will, indeed, presently be necessary; another war becomes more and more imperatively necessary—and for a new and increasing reason.
The much plundered working people are beginning to think.
Thought is revolutionary. A thought is a file, a keen saw, with which a soul may escape from the gloomy dungeon of prejudice.
Thought is intellectual nitro-glyeerine for blasting the flinty mountains of prejudice. Thought utterly destroys mental rubbish.
Thought kills what ought to die.
Thinking slaves promptly become defiant and dare to do for freedom.
Thought kills—kills slavery.