Challenging Militarism

TREATMENT OF THE MEN IN PRISON

From The Tribunal 22nd November 1917

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

In the House of Commons on Tuesday, 13th November, Mr. E. Davies asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the feeling which exists in the country owing to the fact that mean who claimed exemption as conscientious objectors, but failed to satisfy the various standards of the tribunals in different parts of the country and who, refusing to obey military orders, have suffered punishment on more than one occasion for what is, in effet, the same offence,he is ina positions to say that the question of the method of dealing with these men is being reconsidered by the Government?

Sir George Cave: if the hon. member means by his question to suggest that the general feeling of the country is adverse to the continued enforcement of the law in the case of persons claiming to be conscientious objectors, I do not agree with him. It must be remembered that all conscientious objectors now in prison have been offered their release on condition of their undertaking non-military work under the Home Office scheme, and have either refused the offer or failed to carry out the conditions on which they were released. The question how these men should be dealt with has been recently considered by the Government, who have determined that the law must be enforced, and that they must serve their sentences in prison. But in the case of men of this class who have sentenced to a long term of imprisonment the Government have decided that some relaxation of the prison rules should be allowed to prisoners who have earned the marks representing a twelve-months’ sentence (whether such marks have been earned in one or more sentences), and I propose shortly to give directions to this effect under No. 243a of the Prison Rules.

In the House of Lords on Nov, 14th, Earl Curzon stated that he would consult with the Home Secretary and make a statement at a later date as to the possibility of a further relaxation of prison rules.

Information is to hand from one prison that an alteration has already been made there in the regulation regarding books. Under the new order a C.O. is allowed to have his own books sent to him at the prison. His name must be clearly written therein. These books are to be housed in the Library but kept for his use only and he is apparently to be allowed the usual number in his cell at a time. At the end of his sentence he will be able to take these books away with him. We await Lord Curzon’s further statement with interest.

STOP FUELLING WAR (SFW) - Eurosatory witness and action

Monday, June 11, 2018 to Friday, June 15, 2018

PARIS – at the time of the arms fair, Stop Fueling War (SFW) would like to have a large presence in central Paris. ..they want this event to be fun and approachable, to help the general public become aware of events such as Eurosatory, the influence of the arms trade on foreign policy, & the lack of investment in alternatives to armed responses to conflict. https://stopfuellingwar.org/en/actions

Letter to the Editor from E. Sylvia Pankhurst

From The Tribunal, 13th December 1917

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

THE REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE BILL

Dear Editor.— Whilst there is yet time pacifists should seriously consider whether the present Representation of the People Bill is a measure worthy to be placed in the British Statute Book in this twentieth century when so many other nations have thrown open the franchise both for local and national purposes to all men and women without any weighting of the scales to the advantage of the rich and the disadvantage of the poor, such as is provided by plural and dual voting, by pauper disqualification and by registration which is not continuous. This Bill differentiates most unjustly against women, providing that less than half of them will be enfranchised under it.

By the evil precedent of disenfranchising conscientious objectors it has struck a formidable blow at freedom and progress.

When this war, once advertised as “The War to end War,” at last comes to an end, the militarists will make a hard fight to retain conscription. Should they succeed, we shall see year by year growing numbers of young conscientious objectors disenfranchised. Thus the vote against militarism will be whittled down.

Nothing can be more dangerous to liberty of conscience and the progress of human kind than toleration of a system which punishes convictions by disenfranchisement. There is no doubt in my mind that pacifists should urge Members of Parliament to oppose the remaining stage of this Bill. As a woman who would be enfranchised under this measure I would rather wait till I can vote with all men and women on equal terms.—

Yours, etc. E Sylvia Pankhurst
400 Old Ford Road, E.

WHY I REFUSE TO BECOME A SOLDIER

From The Tribunal November 15th 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

Extracts from B. J. Boothroyd’s court-martial statement.

“I have refused to acknowledge military authority because I do do not regard myself as a soldier. That the law says I am a soldier does not concern me; the law was passed for the immoral purpose of forcing men to commit murder and to expedite murder, and therefore, I have no option but to refuse to obey it.

“War is the sanction of every vice that human mind can imagine. Every form of bestiality, every category of sin that human history contains is encouraged by war an exemplified in this one. War inevitably creates a state of things in which lying, treachery and end theft are enforced by Act of Parliament – in which the torture and destruction of men’s and women’s bodies is made the subject of technical instruction, and in which every evil, the capacity for which is inherent in humanity, is taught as a virtue by civil, military and ecclesiastical authority. With this state of things I am out of harmony, and to every manifestation of it I must offer uncompromising opposition.

“To ask me to be a soldier is to ask me to throw away my humanity, to extinguish the spark of divinity that is the soul of every man, and to ask me to act contrary to what are to me fundamental ethical laws, namely, to return good for evil, to refrain from judging and punishing the sins of others, and to treat others as I would be treated myself.

“Further, war necessitates the denial of that liberty of choice and action and that insistence on the sanctity of individuality which is necessary to human growth and development, and substitiutes a course of training that reduces the race to a set of standardised automata, without wills or judgement, permanently subject to the interest of a ruling class.

“Moreover, I am convinced that if the people of England and Germany could know to-day what I know of the political and financial events which led up to this war, instead of being fed upon the lies and half-truths of our officially ordered press, the men who are now killing each other in their ignorance would refuse to fire another shot unless it were at the rulers who have deceived and exploited them.

“Until this spell of false morality, false facts and bad logic, appealed for under the name of patriotism is broken, I believe there is no future for the race, but chaos and destruction. For my part, I intend to do all I can to exemplify another way of life, based on a conception of human relationships which will render way impossible. My alternative to punishment, whether of men or nations, is the example of a better way; to antagonism – amicable co-operation based on the common interests of humanity; to armed defence – fearless trust of my neighbour; and any law which orders me to live contrary to these principles I shall disobey without hesitation and try to persuade others to do so.

“With all due respect, I must disclaim any interest in the opinions expressed by this Court as to my guiltiness or otherwise, for I regard myself as the accuser in this case, believing this Court to be both a symbol and an instrument of that system of militarism which has plunged the world into misery. I wish to say, however,- and this in conclusion – that I do not wish my attitude to be mistaken for discourtesy towards the members of this Court, or to any soldiers.

My attitude towards soldiers is one of hope that their splendid qualities may some day be diverted from unnecessary destruction to the enrichment of humanity, by a fuller appreciation of the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ and a better acquaintance with foreign politics.”
B. J. Boothroyd

NAE NUKES ANYWHERE! March and Peace Rally at Faslane

Saturday, September 22, 2018

NB: Change of date International Rally at Faslane marking the first anniversary of the signing of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (aka Ban Treaty) – being organised by Scottish CNDhttp://www.nuclearban.scot/nae-nukes-anywhere-international-rally-at-fas...

Christianity & War Reclaiming the nonviolence of Jesus

Fly Kites Not Drones

Sunday, March 18, 2018 to Sunday, March 25, 2018

WILL CONSCRIPTION CONTINUE AFTER THE WAR

From The Tribunal 8th November 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

The Pope’s second Note to the belligerent Powers suggest, as one of the Terms of Peace, universal abolition of conscription by international agreement, a suggestion which was subsequently emphasised and amplified by Cardinal Gasparri. From what has been said by Count Czernin, and somewhat less explicitly in the German reply to the Pope, there is every reason to suppose that the Central Powers would be willing to accept such a clause in the Peace Treaty. The Allies, so far, have given no hint of any desire for dimunution of armaments elsewhere than among the Central Powers.

The No-Conscription Fellowship, as its title indicates, is vitally interested in the proposal to abolish Conscription. Many people in this country who dislike Conscription regard it simply as a measure for the duration of the war, as, indeed, it is nominally, as soon as the war ends. There is, however, every reason to fear that this optimistic belief is a delusion. If Conscription continues on the Continent, and if international relations after the war continue to be conducted in the same principles on which they have been in the past, it may be taken as certain that compulsory military service in this country will continue. The only genuinely practicable method of inducting our rulers to abandon such a convenient institution will be by an international agreement, and it is much to be hoped that all who do not love militarism for its own sake will rally in support of the Pope in his proposals and will endeavour to prove that it is not only in Germany and Austria that the abolition of militarism is desired.

The evils of Conscription are many and various. The financial burden alone constitutes a grave evil after the war, when every nation will be crippled by the debts contracted to capitalists and all available labour will be required to repair the ravages of war. So long as Conscription persists, it is almost impossible that neighbouring nations should be on genuinely friendly terms, since each is continually obsessed by the fear of what its neigbour’s conscript army might do in an invasion. Genuine friendship between the nations demands a diminution in their offensive power in order that suspicion, terror and pride may no longer be the feelings that dominate diplomacy. All who have studied Conscription of the Continent are unanimous as to the damage it does to the health of the race through the spread of venereal disease, and it is impossible to estimate the moral damage that is done to the health of each nation by teaching them that the most important thing to learn is how to kill. We of the No-Conscription Fellowship are especially concerned to emphasise this aspect of the evils of Conscription. We believe that those who have the deepest moral insight and the greatest capacity of love for their neighbour cannot consent to make themselves the blind tools of destruction at the bidding of Governments which may be ambitious and unscrupulous. We believe that the effect of Conscription is gradually to stamp out those who have such insight. And in this process it cannot but crush individuality and independence of thought, producing a slavish population whose acts are dominated by fear and inspired by the purposes of others, not y their own desires and aspirations. It is not by such populations that great things are done for civilisation, or that progress is to be expected in any of those directions in which we should all wish to see the human race moving. For all these reasons we hope that our rulers will graciously permit us to support the Pope in his endeavour to secure the objects for which we are said to be fighting.

BERTRAND RUSSELL

How to be a conscientious objector today

Monday, September 24, 2018 to Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Course at Woodbrooke

Hope in Troubled Times

Friday, June 8, 2018 to Sunday, June 10, 2018

Course at Woodbrooke

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