Challenging Militarism

Discussion on the arms trade with Andrew Feinstein

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Edinburgh – 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm – Venue: Quaker Meeting House http://peaceandjustice.org.uk/events/event/discussion-on-the-arms-trade-...

Peace Crusades in Glasgow and Manchester

Saturday, September 30, 2017

SIX MONTHS FOR SPREADING TRUTH

From The Tribunal September 6th 1917

This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and November 1918
_For other extracts go to:_http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal

Friends of truth and humanity are few in these days, but all of them will be indignant at the prosecution of Mr. E.D. Morel. Of those who criticised the policy of the Government in connection with the war, Mr. Morel is the one who has suffered most from calumny and misrepresentation. The Press, day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year, has devoted itself to stating, or insinuating, that he is an agent of Germany, until at last through sheer reiteration it has produced an unshakable belief in his wickedness in the great bulk of the population, and a measure of suspicion even among many who should know better. He is, as I can testify from personal intimacy and friendship, a man actuated to an extraordinary degree by horror of cruelty and love of truth. These passions are criminal nowadays, and those in whom they are strong can hardly avoid committing illegal actions.

Mr. Morel’s “ill-judged activities began with his successful campaign to make known and to put an end to the atrocities in the Congo, in the course of which he necessarily made enemies of the British, French and Belgian Governments. The Clerical Party in Belgium was associated with King Leopold, and opposed tooth and nail any reform which might diminish the revenue derived from the the tortures of helpless negroes. The French Government dreaded an exposure, because a not dissimilar system existed in the French Congo. The British Government objected to Mr. Morel’s activities because of the official attitude of France. Nevertheless, he succeeded in so rousing public opinion that the necessary reforms were instituted and the old, bad system was brought to an end. Public men who knew of his activities mostly assumed he must have some sinister motive, for they held that no man does anything in politics from disinterested reasons – a view presumably based on self-examination. The harder it was to discover a wicked purpose, the more deep and cunning his plans were assumed to be.

It is hardly to be wondered as if on his side, with his experience of the unwillingness of the Allied Governments to put an end to atrocities far more systematic and widespread, and quite as horrible, as those of the Germans in Belgium, was unable, when the war broke out, to adopt quite the usual romantic view of it. His book on Moroccan diplomacy, published before the war, has shown conclusively how large a share of blame must be attached to the Entente. Whoever has made a disinterested study of the cause of the war must agree with the man Morel in thinking that, if wars are be brought to an end, the nations will have learn some deeper understanding of their causes than is involved in merely attributing them to the wickedness of the enemy. Mr. Morel has devoted himself to the dissemination of the truth, both here and abroad, but in these days it is illegal to attempt to communicate the knowledge of facts, even to so eminent a writer as Monsieur Romain Roland.

The use of punishment instead of argument is proof to all thinking people that the authorities are unable to refute Mr. Morel’s assertions amd have to rely upon brute force to prevent their being heard. Every honest man who loves truth and humanity would be willing to commit Mr. Morel’s “crime.” If honest men were not so rare, all the prisons in the country would be too few to hold the criminals who preferred truth to the encouragement of butchery.

Bertrand Russell

Manchester & Warrington Quakers withness & worship during Conservative Party Conference

Monday, October 2, 2017 to Wednesday, October 4, 2017

“In this fractured world, how can we respond? What does love require of us?” (BYM Epistle 2017)
• 1–2pm Daily silent vigil on the Meeting House steps –
• 10am–4pm Daily silent meditation in the Meeting House –
Further information: [email protected] or call 0161 834 5797

Echoes of Conscience

Selecting extracts from The Tribunal has been a highly enjoyable but quite hard task. What to choose out of all the often passionate, often insightful, often moving stories from the First World War which might otherwise be forgotten?

The Tribunal was a newspaper published by the No Conscription Fellowship from 1916, when the Military Service Act introduced conscription into British law. The story of conscientious objection in this country has been seriously neglected; the dominant narrative being that, however tragic the war was, people went to war without complaint and did largely as they were told. This is very far from being the whole truth.

In picking these extracts, however, I make no claim to the historical relevance or importance of all or even any of them. It would be best to consult the actual newspapers themselves if you wish for that kind of information. Nor do I claim any kind of neutrality; but then The Tribunal itself was hardly neutral in its support for the C.O.’s.

Instead, I have been looking out for human stories, humour, wit and, in the case of several of them, just plain good writing. The writers of these articles were not simply chronicling facts and figures; they were making a case for conscience as a guide to behaviour in the public sphere, whether tied to religious faith or not. Highlighting the stories of those who were treated abominably by being sent to France and “sentenced to death” before having their sentences “commuted”, as well as one tragic story of a young man dying of consumption due to ill treatment, we see how high the cost of conscience was for many.

An example of the sometimes gallows humour of the writers would be “How It Is Done”, a sketch of how an encounter between a C.O. and an officer might go. (I used this as source material for a poem for Conscientious Objectors’ Day.) I have taken some extracts from longer pieces, such as one by Bertrand Russell and one complete article, “Improving The Race”, to show the quality and the passion of argument often displayed by the writers.

I’ve also tried to highlight seldom-seen parts of the story, such as C.O.’s from “the colonies”, or “friendly aliens” living in Britain who may have had to join up. So we have stories of Russian exiles, Indian tribunals and a (nameless) Caribbean.

I hope these extracts both inform and move the reader.

Steven Waling

Peace History Conference: 1917

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Salford. – a day exploring the effects of the Russian Revolutions on the British labour and peace movement. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/peace-history-conference-1917-tickets-357...

Creating a better world: Some lessons for the next 25 years

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR)‘s 25th anniversary conference – London – http://www.sgr.org.uk/events/creating-better-world . –
With the world facing heightened risks – the conference will draw upon some of the latest research to look at what could be achieved in the not-so-distant future.

Take Action on Militarism

Saturday, October 21, 2017

at FriendsHouse in London: Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW) and ForcesWatch are launching a pack on taking action on militarism in the UK – workshops, speakers etc. Booking via https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/take-action-on-militarism-gathering-ticke...

News of Our Comrades Abroad: India

From The Tribunal, August 23 1917.

This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and November 1918
For other extracts go to: http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal

Some interesting news from India, where several men have appealed to Tribunals under the “Indian Defence force Rules, 1917.” Among st them is Mr. W. Bevan Whitney, B.Sc., A.M.I.C.E., who appealed to the District Magistrate at Poona, in the following terms:-

“I wish to say first of all, that I believe that service to one’s fellow men must be the guiding motive in every sincere man’s life. And secondly, make it perfectly clear that I base my objection to serving in any military capacity on my deeply-rooted conviction that war in its methods and ethics is utterly incompatible with the whole teaching of Christ as interpreted by his life. I hold this religious conviction so strongly that it would render me useless in any part of the military organisation, all of whose units have for their objects the efficient prosecution of the war…”

“I therefore beg that the conscience clause in the Law at home be taken as a precedent with cases such as mine in India, as I believe that not only is there nothing contrary in the terms of the Defence of India Bill, but that it is definitely stated that in certain exceptional cases, it is in the power of the Authorities to grant total exemption.”

Eventually Mr. Whitney was allowed to leave for Mesopotamia on Y.M.C.A. work, work he had accepted while his appeal was pending, and of which he writes, “I did not tell them the Tribunal had not given me exemption, as I was afraid that I was trying to evade the penalties by joining them. I had made up my mind I might have to go to prison, and felt quite glad at the thought.”

The following paragraph tells of how the fight is being carried into the guard-room in far away Scundarabad:-

“Cowper (Plymouth brother), Scundarabad, was court-martialled for not carrying arms on parade. I have heard he got 72 hours’ detention or something. I have not heard since what happened to him. I saw in the paper there are about half-a-dozen other “C.O.‘s” also mentioned as appluing before tribunals. None of them got exemption. I have not heard what has happened to any of them.”

Pontefract public meeting on Nuclear Convoys

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Hosted by Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament – 19:00–21:00 – Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/161722344388003 – This meeting is being organised by Yorkshire CND in conjuction with local residents, and is for anyone who is interested in, or would like to find out more about nuclear convoys. It will be in St Joseph’s School hall. All are welcome, and refreshments will be provided.

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