Challenging Militarism

RUSSIAN SOCIALISTS & CONSCRIPTION

From The Tribunal 2nd November 1916

This is a further update in a series of updates 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

A mass meeting of about 2000 persons was organised by the Committee of Delegates of the Russian Socialist Groups in London amd the Jewish Social Democratic Organisation in Great Britain on the question of the maintenance of Right of Asylum last Sunday week in the Premierland Cinema, and manifested great enthusiasm. Alex Gossip, E.C. Fairchild, D. Carmichael, Mrs. Bridges Adams, Mrs. Bouvier, and a Jewish and a Polish speaker explained the great importance of the issues at stake, and the connection of the present struggle with the general problems of the present time. A resolution was unanimously carried protesting-

“That the present policy of the British Government towards the refugees from Russia is diametrically opposed to the rights of foreigners and contains in itself the destruction of the Right of Asylum, and that this policy is one of the forms in which the growing universal militarist and imperialist reaction finds expression.”

On the previous evening, at the concert and ball organised by the Committee of Delegates of the Russian Socialist Groups in London, a military and police raid took place. Representatives of the military and police invaded the Hall and demanded the papers of every man. All names and addresses were taken, but no “absentees” were found.

The period allowed by the Home Office for the voluntary enlistment of friendly aliens has now elapsed, but at the moment of writing no steps have been taken to impose conscription upon those who have not enlisted.

A very large number of friendly aliens, particularly Russian Jews, are determined not to undertake military service, and they are organising themselves for resistance. Our Russian Comrades may be assured of the sympathy and support of the N.-C.F. in their struggle.

WHAT A SOLDIER THINKS

From The Tribunal 29th October 1916

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 Nation” this week contains one of the strongest and most satisfying comments upon the attitude of the country towards War that we have read for a considerable time, even in pacifist journals. It is headed, “Some Reflections of a Soldier,” and is a critical analysis of public opinion. It describes how the writer, like many others, went out to fight for certain ideals, and how it was only the strength of his convictions that carried him through the ghastly life he has lived ever since. Now he comes home and mixes with the people formerly of his own class and confesses that he often feels as if he were among strangers. He relates how when the newspapers arrived with Lloyd George’s latest rhapsody about cheerful Tommies with the glint of battle in their eyes, or “The Times” military expert’s variations ad nauseum of the agreeable doctrine that whatever its losses, the numerically preponderant side can always win, they used laughingly to conclude that it was “only the papers,” and that the people at home could not really be like that. But he adds that since he has returned he has found that such things were not so much caricatures as he expected.

A Veil of Falsehood

The writer says there is a veil of falsehood between the soldier and those at home. He finds that the latter have made an image of War, false, but picturesque, that flatters their appetite for novelty, excitement and easy admiration, without uncomfortable, emotional disturbance. He ridicules the Press invention of a conventional kind of soldier who is easy to believe in, but who is both ridiculous and disgusting, being represented as always cheerful, as revelling in the sport of killing other men – ‘hunting Germans out of trenches as terriers hunt rats’ and overwhelmingly kind to prisoners. This latter kindness, he says, is true, but the emphasis which is laid upon it is insulting and unintelligent, as though soldiers were expected to hunt or starve prisoners. “Do you not see that we regard these men who have sat opposite us in mud as victims of the same catastrophe as ourselves, as our comrades in misery much more truly than you are? Do you think that we are like some of you in accumulating on the head of every wretched antagonist the indignation felt for the wickedness of a Government, of a social system…”

The Horrible Suggestion

In the writer’s opinion the worst enemy in this untruthful picture of war is the horrible suggestion that war is ennobling and that men find in war the fullness of self-expression impossible in Peace, and that they are more truly men than when they were at home. Indeed, to him, the reality of war is horrible, but not so horrible as the grimacing phantom which the newspapers hold up to the public. The soldiers, he said, are neither so foolish or brave, nor so wicked as the mechanical dolls who grin and kill in the newspapers. He strongly denies all this fictitious exhilaration, and says that men who have spent a winter in the trenches regard war with hatred, and hoping dimly that by suffering it now, they will save the future from it, look back with an even exaggerated affection to the blessings of Peace. People, he says, are now more prone than they were to give way to hatred, which is not common among soldiers. It is easy for people at home to hate, as they cannot appease the anguish of their losses by feeling that their turn may soon come. But the worst hatred – the hatred which appals, is not among those who have suffered, but among those who discover in hatred the only outlet for the sensation of activity which they miss. You do not, he says, help yourselves, your country, or your soldiers by hating, but only by loving, and striving to be more lovable.

Keep Space for Peace Week

Saturday, October 7, 2017 to Saturday, October 14, 2017

WORLDWIDE. Join the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space as they commemorate Keep Space for Peace Week. Events happening across the UK, as well as the rest of the world – more information to follow. http://www.space4peace.org/

Stop the Arms Fair – No Faith in War

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

. Faith groups of all kinds will come together for a day of prayer and nonviolent direct action against the arms trade and war profiteering. ExCeL Exhibition Centre, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, London E16 1XL.020 7281 0297 https://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/events/stop-the-arms-fair-week-of-act... or https://www.caat.org.uk/events

Hiroshima Day

Sunday, August 6, 2017

- links to information about events around the country to mark this 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima http://cnduk.org/component/k2/item/3470

It Starts Here!

Friday, May 19, 2017

preparation weekend for those planning to witness against the DSEI arms fair in London in September . Details – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/it-starts-here-tickets-32928933326?aff=eac2

Independence from America Day

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

MENWITH HILL. Reading and handing in of Declaration of Independence. Speakers, music, singing, food and drink. NSA Menwith Hill main gate, N Yorkshire.http://www.caab.org.uk/events/tue-07042017-1600/independence-america-eve...

Armed Forces Day - peaceful counter vigil

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Liverpool peaceful counter vigil at The Albert Dock organised by Merseyside Peace Network. Peace Fair with Film Show during the day at Liverpool Quaker Meeting House, School Lane Liverpool L1 3BT (tbc) [email protected]

Day of Action in support of the Global Nuclear Ban

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Women Ban the Bomb is a women-led initiative calling for people of all genders, sexual orientations, ages, races, abilities, nationalities, cultures, faiths, political affiliations and backgrounds to rally and march on Saturday, June 17th 2017 in New York City and around the world in support of the negotiations. Actions around the world. See http://cnduk.org/get-involved/events for events in the UK. https://www.womenbanthebomb.org/

​Protest, Power & Change - 2017 Peace History Conference

Friday, June 9, 2017 to Saturday, June 10, 2017

http://www.abolishwar.org.uk/london-phc-2017.html
Organised by Movement for the Aboltion of War in partnership with Imperial War Museums, it will take place on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 June in London.

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