Tuesday, 11 February 2014

THE EVILS OF MILITARISM.

To the Editor.

Sir— It is one of the inevitable results of all acts of oppression and injustice that the penalty imposed upon those who have been guilty of them does not necessarily take the form of a retaliation, but almost invariably proceed as a consequence of its own acts. Such being the case, it is therefore not surprising to find that a nation like the English, who have violated and destroyed the liberties of two brave little republics in South Africa, who cruelly wasted thousands of human lives, and squandered upwards of £228,000,000 in order that Rand millionaires might have cheap labour to work their mines, should be visited, not so much by remorse for their cruel and inhuman conduct as by a haunting sense of insecurity, which a fateful Nemesis ever invokes against those who, possessed of higher ideals, have descended to lower and ignoble ones. And so it happens if we are to continue to follow the insane and incapable leadership of those who involved us in this most iniquitous war, that the only thing now left for us, it would appear, as per our military expert, Lord Roberts (who declared the war was over two years before peace was finally patched up,) is to secure our freedom by adopting those methods of military enrolment, which, among the nations of Europe, have done so much to maintain the iron grip of despotism over the masses of tho people, which has checked liberty, encouraged corruption, and retarded their moral and material advancement more than any other factor in modern times. In the United Kingdom and British India during the current year nearly £90,000,000 is being expended upon the army and navy— the largest sum ever spent by any people by way of current expenditure upon a defence force which it is still contended is inefficient. What are things coming to in this twentieth century, about which so much loudmouthed, boastful nonsense has been spoken and written, if the issue of all this intelligence, the aggregation of all this wealth, is merely that we may more effectively provide the means for blowing each other up? What comes of all this vapouring talk of human brotherhood and of the glories of our common Christian faith when the end and aim of all our institution is to set each Christian nation in battle array against each other, each equipped with the most deadly weapons that human ingenuity can devise for securing each other's mutilation and destruction? It is, of course, not denied that if we are bent upon carrying out the insane Imperial policy of Cecil Rhodes of grimly "painting the world red" we shall certainly require a very large army and a most powerful navy. But we who are just plain ordinary folk, who will be expected to "pay, pay, pay," may reasonably ask whether it is necessary that we should submit to this enormous and ever-increasing drain upon our resources— an expenditure which will benefit no one but a few commanders-in-chiefs, moneylenders, millionaires and other parasites, with but the inevitable result of arousing the jealousies of surrounding nations and of provoking that very opposition to our policy against which it was professedly designed this huge expenditure upon armaments was to render us invulnerable. The grim iron man of military aggressiveness is never satisfied.
A few years ago it was thought to be sufficient, for defence purposes if the English Navy was equal to that of two first-class Powers; but now, notwithstanding the millions spent upon the construction of new ships, which frequently have become obsolete before they have scarcely been put into commission. Admiral Fischer, our naval authority, declares that to maintain our naval preponderance we must increase our strength as three to one. In view of the increasing strength of the German Fleet he has given further expression to the utterly cynical opinion that if England is to smash up the German Navy now is the time to do it, before it becomes too strong. It is this reckless sort of talk of these professional butchers, as if human life was generated solely for the purpose of being employed as a target, to be shot at, that so much of this increasing and extravagant expenditure is due. And thus it happens that, instead of every battleship constructed, or battalion formed, adding to our defensive strength, this aggressive activity on our part serves only to excite a similar activity on the part of our supposed opponents, with the consequent result of a general increase of burdens on all sides, without any addition of strength to either. The interests of the masses of the people are ever in favour of peace. It is only the military cliques and classes ambitious for opportunities for destruction and promotion that derive any advantage from war. And when once the people realize what are their true interests, and refuse any longer to be deluded by appeals to a false and narrow patriotism that would induce them to seek the mortal injury of a neighbouring people, it will then be recognised that the only statesmanlike way for the settlement of disputes between nations as between individuals is to come to a calm understanding upon the points at issue and to agree to submit them to arbitration. In conclusion, permit me to add that while I believe under a wiser and more moderate policy resort to a conscription or some form of compulsory military service will be utterly unnecessary, it must be clear to all that we cannot continue our present policy of arrogant self-assertiveness without increasing our military and naval forces in order to secure us from that attack which our aggressive attitude is certain in the near future to provoke.
I am. Sir. &c,
W. H. POPE.
 The Register 18 August 1905,

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