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Shaw recognizes that the evils of militarism
rest even more heavily on subject peoples than on the soldiers,
citizens, or taxpayers of the dominating races. He says of the officer
he has been describing, who is humane and intelligent in civil life,
that in his military capacity he will frantically declare that "he dare
not walk about in a foreign country unless every crime of violence
against an Englishman in uniform is punished by the bombardment and
destruction of a whole village, or the wholesale flogging and execution
of every native in the neighborhood; and also that unless he and his
fellow officers have power, without the intervention of a jury, to
punish the slightest self-assertion or hesitation to obey orders,
however grossly insulting or disastrous those orders may be, with
sentences which are reserved in civil life for the worst crimes, he
cannot secure the obedience and respect of his men, and the country
would accordingly lose all of its colonies and dependencies, and be
helplessly conquered in the German invasion which he confidently expects
to occur in the course of a fortnight or so."


"That is to say," Mr. Shaw continues, "in so far as he is an
ordinary gentleman he behaves sensibly and courageously; and in so
far as he is a military man he gives way without shame to the
grossest folly, cruelty, and poltroonery. If any other profession
in the world had been stained by those vices and by false witness,
forgery, swindling, torture, compulsion of men's families to attend
their executions, digging up and mutilation of dead enemies, all of
which is only added to the devastation proper to its own business,
as the military profession has been within recent memory in
England, France, and the United States of America (to mention no
other countries), it would be very difficult to induce men of
capacity and character to enter it. And in England, it is, in fact,
largely dependent for its recruits on the refuse of industrial
life, and for its officers on the aristocratic and plutocratic
refuse of political and diplomatic life, who join the army and pay
for their positions in the more or less fashionable clubs which the
regimental messes provide them with--clubs, which, by the way,
occasionally figure in ragging scandals as circles of extremely
coarse moral character."[283]


It is not surprising that those who view armies in this light preach
desertion and insubordination. A recent cable dispatch sums up some of
the results of the activity in this direction of the French Federation
of Labor with its million members, and of the Socialist Party with its
still larger following:--


"Last year there were 13,500 desertions and 53,000 who refused to
answer their call to military service. Loss to France in 1910, two
army corps. These figures are given by _La France Militaire_, a
soldiers' newspaper. In a fund called '_le sou du soldat et des
insoumis_,' the idea was to develop antimilitarism and
antipatriotism. Five per cent, on the subscriptions of the
workmen, belonging to the labor unions, was ordered to be set apart
for this fund. The conscripts before departing were requested to
leave the name of their regiment and their number so that sums of
money might be sent to them for antimilitary propaganda in the
barracks. For eight years that sort of thing has been going on, but
things never reached to the extent they do now.

"'The comrades of the workshop count on them to spread among those
around ideas of revolt and rebellion,' is an extract from a letter
read by M. Georges Berry in Parliament, and he added that he had a
score of such letters emanating from the unions. In M. Jaurès's
organ, _L Humanité_, there appeared an article on December 22,
1910, inviting all the conscripts of the Labor Federation to send
in their names so that financial aid might be sent to help them in
organizing 'insubordination and desertion.'"


When the Caillaux Ministry came into power in 1911, a large number of
the most prominent leaders of the Federation of Labor were arrested for
participation in this agitation. But for every arrest many other
unionists signed declarations favoring identical principles, and as the
whole Federation is wedded to this propaganda, it is more than doubtful
if the whole million can be arrested and the propaganda done away with.

This agitation is not directed primarily against possible war, or even
exclusively against compulsory military service. Just as the
preparations for an insurrectionary general strike in case of war tend
to break down the power and prestige of the army, even if war is never
declared, so the teaching of insubordination and desertion have the same
effect, even if the compulsory armies are replaced by a compulsory
militia, having only a few weeks of drill every year, as in Australia,
or by a voluntary militia, as in this country. The Socialist world
accepts the word of the American Socialists that a militia, if less
burdensome, and less obnoxious in many ways than a standing army, may be
just as thoroughly reactionary, and quite as hostile to the working
class. The French Socialists and unionists encourage all general and
organized movements among common soldiers. And their ideal in this
regard is reached when a whole body of soldiers, for any good cause,
revolts--especially at a time of popular demonstrations. During the wine
troubles in the south of France, a whole regiment refused to march--and
for years afterwards was toasted at Socialist gatherings.

"Military strikes" have also been frequent in Russia as well as in
France--and have received the unanimous approval of the Socialists of
all countries. No matter how small the causes, Socialists usually
justify them, because they consider military discipline in itself wholly
an evil--and the worst tyranny of capitalist government. They promote
military revolts in favor of great popular causes for a double reason,
and they also have a double motive for supporting purely military
revolts against militarism. For if Socialists are engaged in a class
war, which practically all of them believe may, and many believe must,
lead to revolution, it is as necessary to disarm the opposing classes as
it is to abolish military discipline because of its inherent evil. It is
this fact that explains the importance of all Socialist efforts against
imperialism, colonialism, nationalism, patriotism, war and armies--and
not the idea, common among Socialists, that Socialism alone can be
relied on to establish permanent international peace.

Moreover, the most successful attacks on existing governments in their
coercive and arbitrary aspects, as the Stuttgart resolution suggests
(see above), have been when there were threats of an unpopular war. The
Socialist attack is then not only leveled against war, but also against
armies. A good example is the sending of a delegation of workingmen to
Berlin by the French federation at the invitation of that of Germany at
the time of the Morocco affair (July, 1911). There the Secretary of the
associated labor councils of France, Yvetot, made a speech, the
importance of which was fully appreciated by the German government,
which ordered him to be immediately expelled. His remarks were also
appreciated by his German Socialist audience which responded to them by
stormy applause lasting several minutes. The sentiments so widely
appreciated were contained in the following remarks addressed to the
French and German governments:--


"Just try once, you blockheads, to stir up one people against the
other, to arm one people against the other, you will see if the
peoples won't make an entirely different use of the weapons you put
into their hands. Wait and see if the people don't go to war
against an entirely different enemy than you expect."


The significance of this declaration was not that it declared war
against war, but that, under a certain highly probable contingency of
the immediate future, it prepared the minds of the people for the
forceful overthrow of capitalist governments.

To the preparations of capitalist governments to revert to military rule
in the case of a successful nation-wide general strike, the Socialists
reply at present by plans for weakening and disintegrating armies. And
they do not hesitate to say that they will use more active measures if
capitalist governments persist in what seems to be their present
determination to resort to some form of military despotism when the
Socialists have won over a majority of the population to their views.

FOOTNOTES:

[277] Eugene V. Debs, "Life and Writings," p. 456.

[278] Tolstoi's Essay entitled, "Where is the Way Out?"--October, 1900.

[279] Dr. Karl Liebknecht, "Militarismus und Anti-Militarismus"
(brochure).

[280] Dr. Karl Liebknecht, "Militarismus und Anti-Militarismus",
(brochure).

[281] George R. Kirkpatrick, "War--What For?" pp. 318-325.

[282] George R. Kirkpatrick, "War--What For?" (Preface).

[283] Bernard Shaw, "John Bull's Other Island," pp. xxxix-xliv.




CHAPTER VIII

POLITICAL AND SOCIAL REVOLUTION


"The legal constitution of every period," says Rosa Luxemburg, "is
solely a product of revolution. While revolution is the political _act
of creation_ of class history, legislation is the continued political
_growth_ of society. The work of legal reform has in itself no
independent driving force outside of the revolution; it moves during
each period of history only along that line and for that period of time
for which the impetus given to it during the last revolution continues,
or, to speak concretely, it moves only in the frame of that form of
society which was brought into the world through the last overturn....
Therefore, _the person who speaks for the method of legal reform instead
of the conquest of political power and the overthrow of_ [_present day_]
_society is not as a matter of fact seeking, in a quieter, safer, and
slower way, the same goal, but a different goal altogether_; namely,
instead of bringing about a new social order, merely the accomplishing
of unessential changes in the old one."[284]

It is not that Rosa Luxemburg or any other prominent Socialist
underestimates the importance to the Socialist movement of universal
suffrage, and of the utilization of our more or less democratic
governments for the purpose of reform.



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Keywords: during, country, society, militia, different, appreciated, importance, period, present, reform
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