Challenging Militarism

WHAT WE MUST NOT COMMENT ON

From The Tribunal 28th February 1918

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 further extracts go to: http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal

We need not remind our readers that our issue of February 14th was suppressed by order of the Home Secretary on account of the article on “The Moral Aspect of Conscription.”

In the House of Commons on February 25th. Mr. Lees Smith complained that regulated brothels in the neighbourhood of the British military quarters in France had not been placed out of bounds by the War Office, as similar places had been by the United States military authorities, in localities in which American troops were quatered.

In his reply Mr. Macpherson, the Under Secretary for War, laid great stress on what he described as the importance of interfering as little as possible with the jurisdiction of the civil authorities in an Allied country. He assured the House that if our soldiers were found in any way “creating a disorder in any of these institutions,” the Army authorities would have no hesitation in taking action; but they could not do it in a rough and ready way. Our officers in a particular town would go very quietly to the mayor of the town and would make the necessary complaints, and he was sure that joint action would then be taken – and taken promptly – “without hurting the sympathies of the French people or casting any slur of upon an institution which they think proper to maintain in their midst.

Mr. Lees Smith having asked whether it was seriously suggested that it would endanger the relations between this country and France merely because it was stated that these places were out of bounds for British soldiers, received the following reply:-

“I did not expressly say that I implied that, and I meant to imply a great deal more that I cannot discuss in this House. I might have given a semi-sufficient reason, not quite a sufficient reason, for our inaction if my hon, Friend wished to have an answer, but I am hoping that the Committee realises that there are far greater difficulties behind this.”

Mr. Chancellor: Do I understand that the impression is that offence would be given to the military or civil authorities in France if you protect our soldiers from disease and moral ruin by placing these places out of bounds?

Mr. Macpherson: No, the hon. Member for Northampton said that there were thousands of unregistered women outside in the streets, and he went on to imply that relations took place between soldiers and these women. If that is so, human nature being at is, I am not at all sure that it is such a bad thing to have a certain house where women are registered and kept clean.

The Manchester Guardian remarks:- “It is plain that what Mr. Macpherson called an ‘unsavoury and malodorous subject’ will have to be raised again and yet again until a satisfactory statement is forthcoming. Those are not the fitting terms in which to describe the question. What is malodorous would be encouragement or connivance in such a manner by anyone responsible for the good name of the British Army. Hundreds of thousands of very young men are going to France month by month from decent homes, many of them withing a year of leaving school.; they are now going under a law of compulsion, and the least which their parents have a right to ask is that all reasonable precautions should be taken to keep the grosser forms of temptation out of their way.”

OVER TWELVE MONTHS FORCIBLE FEEDING

From The Tribunal, February 21st 1918

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

Emmanuel Ribeiro, who was arrested in January, 1917, and has been hunger-striking in the Warrington War Hospital for over twelve months, is now in a very serious state of health. On 13th February a friend obtained permission to see him, and has sent the following report:

“Ribeiro was forcibly fed during our visit, but we were not allowed to see the process, although we saw the tube etc., brought in. It was over in a few minutes, and when we returned he was ill and giddy from the effects of the treatment. He was evidently suffering from very strong movements of the heart. He pressed his hand hard on his left breast, seemed pale and exhausted, and for a time could speak only with difficulty……I consider that the condition of Ribeiro is alarming, his health being much worse than when i last saw him. I fear he will die if not quickly liberated.”

But in spite of these facts we are told that the Medical Board recently announced that Ribeiro was going on well! The authorities know that he will never be in a fit state to be Court Martialled, yet they still continue their persecution of him rather than discharge him. Ribeiro has amply proved his right to exemption under the Act; moreover he is one of those Conscientious Objectors “in a poor state of health” whom the Government have promised to release.

In a leader in the Manchester Guardian of February 18th the case is commented on as follows: “The whole process is stupid, useless, wasteful and disgusting. If anything more need be said it may perhaps not be irrelevant to remind the Government that by this sort of senseless persecution they are doing more perhaps than in any other to ruin their credit with great numbers of thinking men and shake their confidence in a cause for the support of which such measures are deemed to be necessary.”

OUR PROSECUTION

From The Tribunal February 14th 1918

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

There was a crowded court at Bow Street on Saturday afternoon last, when the TRIBUNAL prosecutions were heard. The National Committee of the N.-C.F., which was sitting at the time, adjourned to the court and man other people well known in the movement were to be seen there.

Mr. Bertrand Russell received many congratulatory handshakes on his entry, and the atmosphere was tense with interest and enthusiasm. We do not intend to give a detailed account here of the proceedings – for the case has already been widely reported in the public Press, and as the case is still sub judice we are prohibited from commenting upon it.

The actual passage on which the first prosecution was based occurred om Mr. Russell’s article, “The German Peace Offer,” in our issue of January 3rd, and reads as follows:

“The American Garrison which will by that time be occupying England and France, whether or not they will prove efficient against the Germans, will no doubt be capable of intimidating strikers, an occupation to which the American Army is accustomed when at home.”

Mr. Travers Humphreys, prosecuting for the Crown, stated that in view of “the diabolical effect” this passage would have if published without contradiction, a prosecution had been decided upon, and it was thought desirable in the public interest that the words should be read in open court – thus ensuring, we may point out, that their “diabolical effect” should be spread broadcast over the world to a degree that the circulation of the TRIBUNAL does not yet permit of. But we are, perhaps, too modest in our estimate of our own influence, as we learned later that “it is difficult to overstate the effect which that passage would have in all probabilities upon the soldiers of this country and their Allies,” and, moreover, that Brigadier-General Childs was present in court ready to give evidence on this point.

Mr. Whiteley’s able speech for the defence was notable for the dignity and force with which he argued “that everyone is still entitled to his own opinion, and that so long as the law be not broken, freedom of the subject and of the Press is still the right and prerogative of every person, whatever his views may be.” Moreover, he emphasised the fact that Mr. Russell was warning the public in this article of what he considers is a serious menace, and one of which Labour should be warned in time.

It is impossible to give any idea of the bitterness of tone in which Sir John Dickinson gave his decision: six months in the second division, without the option of a fine, for Mr. Russell, and £60 fine and £15 15s costs for Miss Beauchamp. Appeals against both decisions were entered at once.

The Second Summons

The second summons was against Miss Beauchamp alone, and was for publishing “false statements” in the TRIBUNAL of January 3rd. the statements so described were contained in the “Guard-Room message of that date.

It is clear that the prosecution entered the court with the intention of taking this case the same afternoon, for when Sir John Dickinson proceeded to sentence Miss Beauchamp on the first summons, Mr Humphrey interupted with: “I don’t know whether you think it desirable on the question of the penalty to consider the other case first?” Mr Whiteley at once rose and said that as the second summons was on a question of fact, the onus was on the prosecution to prove the falsehood. The paragraph was a quotation from a letter, and he would have to ask for an adjournment as Miss Beauchamp wished to call the writer of the letter, who is at present in prison, and a Home Office permit would have to be obtained before he could appear. Then, again, she would call a number of other witnesses, and there would be a contest of facts.

On hearing this, Mr. Humphreys, who appeared to be surprised, consulted with General Childs, and later asked that the case should be adjourned sine die. This the magistrate agreed to, and the court rose.

Mr. Russell and Miss Beauchamp were conducted with all ceremony to the cells, there to await the conclusion of the formalities connected with bail, for which Earl Russell and Mt. Cobden Sanderson were sureties.

The crowd waited patiently for their appearance, and a hearty cheer went up as they came down the steps. The enthusiasm displayed reminded us of the prosecutions in the early days of the Fellowship, and it was good to the high spirits of bothe “criminals.”

We advise all our readers to mark April 12th carefully in their diaries, for that is the date of the appeal, and will prove to be a very interesting and important occasion, and one that may be a red letter day in the history of the movement.

Oh! What a Lovely War-Resistance! – Music in Opposition to War

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Peace Museum, Bradford International Conscientious Objector’s Day Lecture with Chair of Trustees, Rev Clive Barrett. 18:30 https://www.facebook.com/events/1849371518436127/

Conscientious Objectors Day Ceremony

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Manchester 5pm – 6pm Outside St. Ann’s Church, St. Ann’s Square, M2 7LF simple ceremony to mark the quiet heroism of those who
followed, not the drumbeat of war, but their consciences, by refusing to take part in any killing.

Opposing War: CO Memorial Design Launch

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Edinburgh Quaker Meeting House, 6.30pm – booking and further info: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/opposing-war-co-memorial-design-launch-630p...

Collateral Damage 1918 to 2018

Wednesday, May 2, 2018 to Friday, June 22, 2018

[to 22 June] Commemorating war victims and building peace Installation of white poppies – Manchester Friends Meeting House, Mount St M2 5NS Open during office hours, Monday to Friday Poppies can be brought to join the installation at Mount Street Friends’ Meeting House or sent to join the mass installation in London in the autumn.

CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS WHO HAVE BEEN DISCHARGED

From the Tribunal 31st January 1918

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

…FROM PRISON ON GROUNDS OF ILL HEALTH

28th January, 1918

Arrowsmith, W.G. (Merthyr Tydfill), prison: Manchest C.P., in hospital. 3rd sentence; no papers.

Bishop, D.G. (Tunbridge Wells), prison: Winchester C.P, mental. 3rd sentence; complete discharge.

Bunce, John (Altrincham), prison: Canterbury C.P., 3rd sentence, no papers.

Horton, Percy F. (Brighton), prison: Edinburgh C.P., in hospital. 3rd sentence; statement from Secretary of State for Scotland that he is released “to care of his friends.”

Pickles, W.A. (Blackburn), prison: Shrewsbury C.P. 3rd sentence; no papers.

Ramsay, W.A. (Chelsea), prison: Liverpool C.P. 3rd sentence, no papers.

Smith, Albert (Blackburn), prison: Shrewsbury C.P. 3rd sentence; complete discharge.

Smith, T.S. (Duston, Northhants), prison: Shepton Mallet C.P. 3rd sentence, no papers.

King. D.A. (Hornsey), prison: Exeter C.P., special treatment. 2nd sentence, no papers.

Allen, Clifford, prison: Winchester C.P.. in hospital. 3rd sentence, no papers.

Evans, J.W. (Chester), awaiting 4th C.M. at Red Barracks, Weymoth, mental. Army Reserve W.

Gilbert, Thomas, prison: Winchester C.P. Army Reserve W.

Hobhouse, Stephen (Hoxton). prison: Exeter C.P. 2nd sentence; Army Reserve W.

NFPB Huddersfield gathering

When early March snow prevented our members’ meeting that month from going ahead, trustees agreed to plan one or more additional NFPB events. The first of these was held in Huddersfield on 14th April, with local Friends joining in and providing warm hospitality to the approximately 18 participants. A second will take place in Lancaster on 12th May.

MILITARISM IN SCHOOLS

From The Tribunal January 24th 1918

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

Sir. – There is a certain type of mind which regards the militarist as a ferocious, swashbuckling sort of fellow who wants to make everyone miserable and to be all the time on top himself. Now, although that kind of person is easily produced by militarism, he is by no means its chief danger. In general, he becomes so unpopular both with his superiors and with his inferiors that his position is difficult to maintain unless he curbs his ferocity.

The danger of militarism is not that it produces characters which are peculiar either for good or for evil, but that it definitely aims at producing uniform characters which have no peculiarity at all. Your true militarist aims at an ordered, graded society wherein each individual has his place in which it is his duty to remain.

Peculiarity in religion, dress, diet, political opinions or anything is equally detestable in his eyes. If his system obtains, a people becomes uniform and therefore servile and dead.

During the war militarist institutions have been imposed on the people of this country. It has been a difficult thing to do notwithstanding the fact that the great majority accepted the impositions as they came along. In the administration of the Munitions Acts, the Defence of the Realm Acts and the Military Service Acts and particularly of the Orders in Council. Under the two last, the militarist authorities have been continually brought into conflict with men and occasionally with women who have grown up free from the uniformity and servility essential for the easy working of such a system. It is naturally now dawning on the minds of those who desire such uniformity and servility in the people that the process must begin earlier. In the child individuality is still latent and there is the opportunity for militarism. Thus the experience of the last three years has caused the militarists to turn their attention to education. It does not in the least matter that the object lessons of Germany with its utilisation of the schools and universities for the purpose of militarism is before our eyes.

It does not matter the children of this generation will need all the resources, initiative and enterprise they can develop if they are to solve the problems of a world drained of its strength by war. The militarist means to mould the human material while it is plastic, and his hand is stretching out to grasp it.

Compulsory Cadet Corps, lessons from militarist pamphlet, dismissal of teachers whose views are in any way peculiar, registration, docketting, drilling, putting mind and body into uniform – that is what he is planning, especially for the children of the “lower orders.” The children of “the classes” may have some individuality if they like. Few enough of them will want to change their social order very materially. But the rank and file must be regimented. Therefore, say the militarists, let us talk everywhere of patriotism, let us get the hygenists to declare that the childrens’ bodies, the schoolmasters their minds, and the parsons their souls, need drill and more drill: and let us therefore delude Labour into handing over the coming generation to us. Is Labour, I wonder, willing that the bright promise of childhood should be so blighted?
Yours Etc, R.N.Langdon-Davies (Secretary, National Council for Civil Liberties.)

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