IV. Concerning Some Cardinal Sins of Militarism
The militarists are not all dull-witted. That is proven by the extremely clever educational system they have introduced. With noteworthy skill they rely upon mass psychology. The army of Fredericks composed of mercenaries and the scum of the population, had to be kept together for its mechanical tasks by pipe-clay drill and thrashings. That is no longer possible in an army formed on the basis of a civic duty and placing much greater demands upon the individual. This was clearly recognized at once by men like Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, whose army reorganization began with the proclamation of the "freedom of the back." Yet, bad treatment, brutal insults, beatings and all kinds of cruel maltreatment belong also to the stock-in-trade of our present system of military education.
The attitude of military circles toward the
maltreatment of soldiers is naturally not determined by considerations
of ethics, civilization, humanity, justice, Christianity and other
fine things, but purely by jesuitical expedients. The hidden danger
which that maltreatment constitutes for the discipline and the
"spirit" of the army itself
has not even to-day been generally recognized.
The ragging of new recruits and recalcitrants by the older men,
the brutal barracks jokes and vulgar language of all kind, and
the fairly frequent knocks and blows and hazing, are heartily
apt proved without scruple and are even positively considered
necessary by the majority of non-commissioned officers and even
officers, who, estranged from and hostile to the people, have
been trained to become the most narrow-minded petty despots. The
fight against those outrages therefore meets almost at the outset,
with an all but insuperable passive resistance. Privately, but
not publicly, one may hear daily how superiors describe the desire
for decent treatment of the "fellows" as a symptom of
a silly humanitarian soft-headedness. Military service is a rude
business. But even where they have thoroughly recognized the hidden
dangers of disciplinary maltreatments they find themselves again
in face of one of those disagreeable alternatives at which a system
based on brute force and setting itself against the natural development
must always arrive, and several of which we have already pointed
out. For those maltreatments are indeed (as we shall show more
conclusively) indispensable auxiliaries of the external drill
which capitalist militarism, (for which the inward voluntary discipline
is an unattainable goal), can not dispense with for want of a
better method. We repeat that they are considered, not officially,
it is true, but semi-officially, in spite of all the scruples
and regrets we hear expressed, not as a legal, but as an indispensable
means of military education.
But apart from military scruples, our militarists
suffer from a bad conscience since they have been caught at their
game, i.e., since the relentless Social Democratic criticism of
the army institutions began and large portions of the middle-class
commenced to disavow that military morality. With a gnashing of
teeth militarism had to acknowledge that it was not simply devised
and commanded by the supreme war lord, but that it depends, especially
in regard to its material existence, on the popular representative
body on which it looks with such scornful disdain --on the Reichstag
which includes even representatives of the "mob"; in
short, that it depends on the "rabble" and that under
cover of their immunity the people's representatives in the Reichstag
pitilessly exposed its nakedness again and again. In sullen rage
it saw itself obliged to maintain the good mood of those plebeians,
those Reichstag fellows, that despised and derided "public
opinion." The problem was, not to put to too hard a test
the devout belief in militarism possessed by the bourgeoisie who,
as a rule, were ready to grant all possible military demands but
who, especially in times of financial troubles, were not rarely
apt to kick against the pricks, moreover, things had to be made
easier for the bourgeoisie when the latter were dealing with their
voters, largely anti-militarists, because of their social position,
and ready to embrace Social Democracy when they recognize their
class interests. Such weapons as were likely to be most effective
had to be withheld or snatched from Social Democratic propagandists,
so militarism had recourse to the tactics of hushing-up and concealment.
The procedure of the military courts was secret, not a ray penetrated
that darkness, and if one succeeded in penetrating it things were
denied, disputed and extenuated with might and main. But the torch
of Social Democracy sent its light farther and farther, even to
behind the barracks walls and through the bars of the military
prisons and fortresses. The military debates that took place in
the German Reichstag in the eighties and nineties of the last
century constitute a tenacious and passionate fight for the recognition
of the fact that the atrocities of the barracks are not rare and
isolated phenomena but regular, extraordinarily frequent, organic,
constitutional occurrences, as it were, in military life. In that
fight effective service was rendered by the publicity of the procedure
of military courts in other countries, proving that military maltreatment
is a regular attribute of militarism, even of republican militarism
in France, even of Belgian militarism, even in a growing degree
of the Swiss militia militarism.
The impression created by the army orders of
Prince George of Saxony (of June 8, 1891 ), which were published
by the Vorwarts at the beginning of 1892, and by the orders
of the Bavarian war minister( December 13, 1891 ), and by the
Reichstag debates, which lasted from February 15 to 17, 1892,
was mainly responsible for the effect which the Social Democratic
criticism exercised. After the usual "due considerations,,
and scufflings the reform of our procedure in military trials
was brought about in 1898 with a great amount of painful exertion.
True, the reformed procedure still permitted the courts to a large
extent to exclude the public and thus to cover the terrible secrets
of the barracks with the cloak of Christian charity, but it succeeded
(in spite of all the orders which almost suggested the most sweeping
use of the powers of excluding the public and in spite of the
much discussed disciplining of the judges in the Bilse case) in
bringing down such a hail of appalling cases of maltreatment upon
the heads of the public that all objections against the Social
Democratic criticism were simply swept away, and the existence
of the maltreatment of soldiers as a settled institution of "state-conserving"
militarism was acknowledged almost everywhere, however reluctantly.
More or less honestly the authorities attempted to grapple with
this repelling institution which proved of too great an advantage
to the socialist propaganda, and though they did not believe in
any substantial success, they yet wanted to arouse the impression
of dislike for the institution and readiness to try their best
to abolish it. They began to hunt down with a certain amount of
severity those guilty of maltreating soldiers, but militarism
has after all a greater interest in maintaining military discipline,
in training the people in arms to be docile fighters in the struggle
against their own international and national interests than in
attacking the maltreatment of soldiers. It is instructive to compare
the sentences passed upon the basest tormentors of soldiers with
those pronounced almost daily upon soldiers for often quite petty
offences against their superiors, or for of fences committed in
a state of excitement or intoxication by soldiers against their
superiors. For the soldier there is a blood-thirsty, Draconic
punishment for the smallest sin against the holy ghost of militarism;
for the other offender there is, in spite of all, a relatively
mild indulgence and understanding. Thus the campaign of the military
courts against the maltreatment of soldiers, conducted parallel
with a campaign to throttle every vestige of an impulse on the
part of the subordinate to exhibit a consciousness of self-dependence
or equality, naturally fails of practical result. The whole story
is told by the case of the Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Meiningen
who had sufficient courage to call upon the men themselves to
assist in the campaign against maltreatment so as to be able to
attack the evil more energetically than ever before at the root.
He was, however, soon forced to quit the army on account of this
bold step. The incident brightly illuminates the whole uselessness
and hopelessness of the official campaign against the maltreatment
The little book written by our comrade Rudolf
Krafft, a former officer of the Bavarian army, on "The Victims
of the Barracks" treats valuable material with the expert
knowledge that can only come from inside information. Regular
compilations of trials for maltreating soldiers (or sailors),
made by the Socialist press at certain intervals, furnish a positively
overwhelming mass of material which has unfortunately not yet
been edited. An important and thankful task is awaiting some one.
Being fundamentally opposed to militarism we
have no delusions about it. Scharnhorst, in his "Order Concerning
Military Punishments," writes: "Experience teaches that
recruits can be taught the drill without beating them. An officer
to whom this may appear impossible lacks the necessary faculty
of instruction or has no clear idea of training." Of course,
theoretically he is right, but practically he is far in advance
of the times. The maltreatment of soldiers springs from the very
essence of capitalist militarism. A large proportion of the men
is intellectually, a still larger proportion physically, not equal
to the military requirements, especially not equal to those of
the parade drill. The number of the young men having a view of
life that is dangerous and hostile to militarism, who enter the
army increases continually. The problem is to tear that soul out
of those "fellows," as it were, and replace it by a
new patriotic soul, loyal to the king. Even the most skilful pedagogue
finds it impossible to solve all those problems, let alone the
land of teachers available to militarism, which must in this respect,
too, be more economical than it would like to be.
The militaristic pedagogues have but a precarious
subsistence. They depend entirely on the good will, on the arbitrariness
of their superior, and must expect every minute to be thrown out
of employment if they do not accomplish their chief task, that
of forming the soldier in the image of militarism -- an excellent
expedient to make the whole apparatus of the military hierarchy
extremely pliant in the hands of the supreme command. It goes
without saying that such superiors drill their men with a nervous
lack of consideration, that they soon come to the point where
they use force. instead of persuasion and example, and that such
force, owing to the absolute power which the superior has over
the life and death of his subordinate who has to submit to him
unconditionally, is finally applied in the shape of maltreaments.
All this is a natural and, humanly speaking, necessary concatenation
in which the new Japanese militarism, too, has promptly got entangled.
It is another dilemma of militarism.
The causes of such maltreatments are not to
be met with everywhere in a uniform degree. It is above all the
degree of popular education which exercises a strongly modifying
influence, and it is not surprising that even French colonial
militarism forms in this respect a favorable contrast to the Prussian-German
It is exactly in this form of exercising disciplinary power, and just in that necessity by which it arises out of the system, that we Socialists find an excellent weapon with which to combat militarism fundamentally and most successfully, arousing against it an ever growing portion of the people and carrying class-consciousness into groups that otherwise could not yet be reached or could only be reached with much greater difficulty. The maltreatment of soldiers and military class-justice, one of the most provoking phenomena of capitalist barbarism, are not only dangerously undermining military discipline, they are also the most effective weapons in the war for the liberation of the proletariat. That sin of capitalism turns against capitalism itself in two ways. However much the sinner may repent, honestly in helpless contrition, or in the style of the fox in the fable, those weapons can not be taken away from us; for though he appears in sackcloth and ashes the sinner is irreclaimable.
Historical materialism, the doctrine of dialectical evolution, is the doctrine of the inherent necessity of retribution. Every society divided in classes is condemned to commit suicide. Every society divided in classes is a force that ever wills the evil and accomplishes the good and, even if it did not will the evil, must do the evil; it must perish through the original sin of its class character; it must, whether it wants to or not, beget the OEdipus who will slay it one day, but, unlike the fabled Theban, with the full consciousness of committing parricide. That is at least true with regard to the capitalist order of society, with regard to the proletariat. Of course, the ruling class of capitalism, too, would very much like to enjoy its profits in complete comfort and security. But since that comfort and security neither agree with the national and international capitalist competition nor with the permanent taste of those at whose expense it lives, capitalism erects for the protection of wage slavery round the sanctum of profit a cruel fortress of despotism, bristling with arms. Though militarism be a vital necessity of capitalism, the latter is naturally not pleased with the gigantic expense of militarism and considers it at heart as a very disagreeable burden. However, as it is impossible today to follow the old Cadmean recipe of sowing dragon's teeth in order to make the ground yield armed soldiers, there is nothing to be done but putting up with Moloch Militarism and feeding its insatiable appetite. The annual financial debates in the various parliaments demonstrate how painful a subject this quality of militarism is to the ruling classes. Capitalism, hungering for surplus value, can only be impressed by touching the financial spot, its constitutional weak spot. The expense of militarism is the only thing that keeps it in bounds, at least as far as it is borne by the bourgeoisie itself. The ethics of profiteering, however, seeks and finds a way out that is as easy as it is base -- the shifting of the greatest or a great part of the military burdens to the shoulders of those parts of the population that are not only the weakest, but for whose oppression and torture militarism is chiefly established. Like the ruling classes of other social orders the capitalist classes use their despotism, which is moreover based in the first place on the exploitation of the proletariat, not only in order to make the oppressed and exploited classes forge their own chains, but also to make them pay for themselves for those chains to as large an extent as possible. Not content with fuming the sons of the people into the executioners of the people they press the executioners' pay as much as possible out of the sweat and blood of the people. And though here and there one is sensible of the bitterly provoking effect of that infamous outrage, capitalism remains true to its faith unto death, its faith in the golden calf. To be sure, that shifting of the military burdens on to the shoulders of the poorer classes diminishes the possibility of exploiting those classes. That can not be explained away, and that likewise contributes to the annoyance of capitalism, ever intent on exploitation, at Moloch.
Militarism rests like a leaden weight on our
whole life. It is particularly, however, a leaden weight for our
economic life, a nightmare under which our economic life
is groaning, a vampire sucking its blood, because it withdraws
the best energies of the people from production and the works
of civilization continually, year after year (In Germany there
are at the moment of writing 655,000 of the strongest and most
productive men, mostly between the ages of 20 and 22, permanently
in the army and navy), and also because of its insane direct costs.
In Germany the military and naval budget, which is increasing
by leaps, amounted in the year 1906-07 (inclusive of the colonial
budget, but exclusive of the supplementary estimates) to more
than 1,300,000,000 marks, say one billion and a third.
The costs to the other military states are relatively not smaller, and the military expenditure
of even richer countries, such as the United States, Great Britain
(which, in 1904-05, had an army and navy budget of 1,321,000,000),
Belgium and Switzerland, is so extraordinary that it occupies
a dominating position in the budgets of those countries. Everywhere
the tendency is in the direction of a boundless increase, close
to the limits of the ability to pay.
The following interesting compilation is found
in the Nouveau Manuel du soldat:
|"In 1899 Europe had a military budget of||
|It employed in a military capacity||
|who, if they were to work, could produce, at the rate of three francs per day per man, the value of||
|Europe further used for military purposes
|which, at a rate of two francs per day per horse, could produce a value of||
|Adding that sum to the 12,507,963 francs we obtain a total of||
|Multiplied by 300 that sum shows, together with the budget, a lost productive value of||
But in Germany alone the military budget increased
from 1899 to 1906-07 from 920,000,000 to about 1,300,000,000,
more than 40 percent. For the whole of Europe the total amount
of military "overhead charges," not counting the costs
of the Russo-Japanese War, reaches at the moment of writing some
say 13 percent. of the total foreign trade of the world. In truth
a veritable policy of bankruptcy!
In the Russian Baltic provinces the military
suppression of the revolutionary movement was for a long time
confided to the very barons affected by that movement. In a similar
manner America has realized the "unlimited possibility"
of leaving the maintenance of capitalist order even in times of
peace to the employers, as a concession to be exploited, as it
were. Thus, the Pinkertons have fairly become a legal institution
for the class-struggle. At all events, that institution, like
its Belgian counterpart, the civic guard, has the advantage of
reducing those effects of militarism which are disagreeable even
to the bourgeoisie (maltreatment of soldiers, expense, etc.) and
of partly withholding some highly effective material for agitation
from the enemies of the capitalist order of society. However,
as has been explained, that way out of the difficulty, which is
moreover anything but pleasant for the proletariat, is as a rule
blocked to the capitalist countries, and the introduction of the
much less burdensome militia system is for a predeterminable time
denied them because of the function the army has to perform at
home in the class-struggle, a function which is even developing
a pronounced feeling in favor of the abolition of the existing
Comparing the entire budget of the German
Empire for 190~6-7, which amounted to 2,397,394,000 marks,
with that portion of it devoted to the army and navy, we notice
that all the other items play only the part of small satellites
to that mighty sum, that the entire fiscal system, the entire
financial system group themselves round the military budget --
"as the host of the stars are mustered round the sun,"
as the poet says.
Hence militarism dangerously impedes, and often
makes impossible even such progress in civilization as in itself
would advance the interest of the existing social order. Education,
art and science, public sanitation, the communication system:
all are treated in a niggardly fashion since there is nothing
left for works of civilization after gluttonous Moloch has been
fed. The ministerial declaration that the obligations of civilization did not suffer, convinced
at most the East Elbian junkers with their low cultural demands
whilst it could not wring more than an indulgent smile from the
other representatives of capitalist society. Figures furnish the
proof. It suffices to compare the one billion and a third of the
German military budget of 1906 with the 171 millions that Prussia
spent for all kinds of educational purposes, or the 420 millions
that Austria spent for military purposes in 1900 with the 5 1/2
millions she spent for elementary education. The latest Prussian
school maintenance law, with its niggardly settlement of the question
of teachers' salaries, and the notorious Studt decree against
the raising of teachers' salaries in the cities speak volumes.
Germany should be rich enough to fulfil all
her tasks of civilization, and the more completely these tasks
should be performed the easier it would be to bear their costs.
But the barrier of militarism obstructs the road.
Quite especially provoking is the way in which
the expenses of militarism are defrayed in Germany -- and elsewhere,
in France, for instance. It can almost be said that militarism
is the creator and preserver of our oppressive, unjust system
of indirect taxation. The entire tariff and taxation system of
the Empire, which amounts to a squeezing-out of the masses, i.e.,
the great needy mass of our population, and to which is due, for
example, that in 1906 the cost of living for the mass of the people
rose by no less than from 10 to 15 percent. as against the average
for the period from 1900 to 1904, not only benefits the junkers
(that parasitic class so tenderly cared for, very largely for
militaristic reasons), but serves in the first line militaristic
purposes. It is no less mainly the fault of militarism if our
system of communication, the development and perfection of which
is especially to the greatest advantage of a sensible capitalism
equipped with a shrewd understanding of its interests, does not
by far meet the demands of traffic and technical progress, but
is used as a milch-cow for a special indirect taxation of the
people. The story of the Stengel bill on imperial finances ought
to make even a blind man see. It is possible to calculate almost
to a cent that this bill was only caused by the necessity of stopping
that 200-million hole which militarism had once again succeeded
in making in the imperial treasury; and the kind of taxation resorted
to, which presses heavily on articles of popular consumption,
beer, tobacco, etc., and even on communication, that breath of
life of capitalism, excellently illustrates what was said above.
No doubt, in many respects militarism is a burden to capitalism itself, but that burden is as firmly installed on the capitalist back as the mysterious strong old man was on the shoulders of Sin bad the Sailor. Capitalism is in need of militarism just as spies are needed in times of war and executioners and their assistants in times of peace. It may hate militarism, but it can not do without it, just as the civilized Christian may detest the sins against the Gospel, but can not live without them. Militarism is one of the original sins of capitalism, which may be susceptible of being mitigated here and there, but of which it will be purged only in the purgatory of Socialism.
We have seen that militarism has become the
centre round which our political, social and economic life tends
to move more and more, that it is the wire-puller operating the
marionettes of the capitalist puppet-show. We have seen what the
purpose is that militarism pursues, how it tries to accomplish
that purpose and how in the pursuit of that end it must necessarily
produce the poison by which it is to die. We have also pointed
out what an important rôle as a conservative force it plays
-- alas! with little success -- as a school for drumming proper
views into the nation in uniform and civilian dress. But militarism
is not content with that part; it exercises even today and in
quiet times its conserving influence in various other directions,
as a preparation, as a preliminary practice for the great day
when after a long apprenticeship and service as a journeyman it
has to produce its masterpiece, for the day when the people rises
boldly and fearlessly against its rulers, the day of the great
On that day, which the elect of militarism
would see dawn rather today than tomorrow (because they hope that
the sooner it comes the more surely it will be the deluge of Social
Democracy) militarism will shoot, fire grape-shot and massacre
en masse to its heart's content "with God, for King
and Fatherland." The 22nd of January, 1905, the bloody May
week of 1871 will be its ideal and model. The commander of the
Vienna corps, Schonfeldt, made a touching vow at a banquet oú
feasting bourgeois in April, 1894, when he said: "I can assure
you that you, too, will find us behind your front when the existence
of society, the enjoyment of the hard earned property are endangered.
When the citizen stands in the first line the soldier flies to
Thus the mailed fist is ever raised and ready to come down with a crushing blow. Hypocritically they speak about "the maintenance of law and order," "the protection of the liberty to work," and mean "the maintenance of oppression," "the protection of exploitation." Whenever the proletariat exhibits an inconvenient animation and power, militarism at once attempts to scare it back by the rattling of the sabre, that militarism which, ever present and omnipotent, is behind every action the forces of the state undertake against the forces of labor, and gives to such action the ultimate, still invincible weight. That weight is, however, not merely reserved, behind the vanguard of the police and constabulary, for important occasions, but is also constantly available for the clearly understood purpose of aiding in the everyday work and of strengthening in a sustained guerilla warfare the pillars of the capitalist society. It is just that restlessly and craftily employed versatility that characterizes capitalist militarism.
As a functionary of capitalism militarism fully understands that its greatest and most sacred task is that of increasing the profits of the employing class. Thus it thinks itself authorized and even obliged to place the soldiers, officially or semi-officially, as beasts of burden at the disposal of employers, particularly the junkers, who use the soldiers to supply that want of farm hands which has been caused by the inhuman exploitation and brutal treatment of the farm laborers.
To send soldiers to help with the harvest is a practice as constantly met with as it is detrimental and inimical to the interests of labor. It reveals, like the system of soldier-servants, the whole mischievous and stupid humbug behind the arguments which are used by those monomaniacs of the goosestep and the parade drill to show the purely military necessity of a long period of military service, and awakens not very flattering reminiscences of the company system of the time before the crash of Jena. More complicated are the numerous cases in which the post office and the railroad management temporarily employ soldiers at times of heavy traffic, but they should also be mentioned in this connection.
By sending soldiers under military command to act as strike-breakers militarism interferes directly with the struggle of labor to emancipate itself. We need only point to the case of the present com mender of the Imperial Anti-socialist Union, Lieutenant-General v. Liebert, who even as a simple colonel had comprehended in 1896 that strikes are a calamity, like a conflagration or inundation, of course, a calamity for the employers whose protecting spirit and executive officer he felt himself to be.
As regards Germany, a special notoriety attaches
to the method of gently pushing the men released from military
service into the ranks of the strike-breakers, a method practiced
as late as the summer of 1906 during the Nuremberg strike.
Of much greater importance are three events
that occurred outside of Germany. In the first place we must mention
the military strike-breaking on a large scale that took place
during the Dutch general railroad strike in January, 1903, and
which had its crowning achievement in the law withdrawing from
the railroad workers the right to organize. In the second place
we refer to the military strike-breaking on a large scale during
the general strike of the Hungarian railroad workers in 1904,
on which occasion the military administration went farther still
and not only commanded the men in active military service to break
the strike, illegally keeping them with the colors beyond their
period of service, but had the impudence to mobilize the railroad
workers of the first and second reserves and such other men of
the military reserves as had the necessary technical equipment,
and force them into strike-breaking service on the railroad under
military discipline. Finally, military strike-breaking on a large
scale was resorted to during the Bulgarian railroad strike which
was proclaimed on January 3, 1907. Of no less importance is the
campaign inaugurated at the beginning of the month of December,
1906, in Hungary by the minister for agriculture in conjunction
with the minister of war against the right of combination and
the strikes of agricultural laborers, in which campaign stress
was laid upon the desirability of thoughtfully training soldiers
to serve as bands of strike-breakers in harvest-time.
In France, too, strike-breaking by soldiers
The fact that military education systematically fosters strike-breaking propensities and that the workmen released from the active army become dangerous to the struggling proletariat, on account of their readiness to attack the members of their own class in the rear, must also be counted among the international militaristic achievements.
Military authorities everywhere have always
been convinced of the capitalist truth of the saying that the
Hydra of revolution is lurking behind every strike. The
army is therefore always ready to put to flight with sabre and
gun the disobedient slaves of the capitalist whenever the fists,
sabres and pistols of the police are not immediately effective
in so-called strike riots. That is true in regard to all the capitalist
countries and also, of course, in the highest degree of Russia,
which, as a whole, is not yet a capitalist country, and which
can not be considered as typical in this respect on account of
special political and cultural conditions. Though Italy and Austria
are among the greatest sinners, they are surpassed by the states
enjoying a republican or semi-republican form of government. In
judging historically the value of the republican form of government
under the capitalist economic system it is of the greatest importance
to point out persistently that, apart from England, there were
no countries where the soldiery was so willing to suppress strikes
for the benefit of the employers and behaved so bloodthirstily
and recklessly as the republican or semi-republican countries,
like Belgium and France, with which the freest countries of the
world, Switzerland and America, can easily bear comparison. Russia
is, of course in this respect, as in all spheres of cruelty, beyond
comparison. Barbarism and worse than barbarism -- the savageness
of the beast characterizes the general civilization of her ruling
classes and is the natural inclination of her militarism, which
has literally bathed itself, ever since the first timid stirrings
of the proletariat, in the blood of' peaceful workmen who in monstrous
misery vlere crying for deliverance. One must not cite any particular
event, as that would mean tearing in a petty and arbitrary spirit
a link out of an endless chain. For every drop of proletarian
blood that has been shed in the economic struggle in all the other
countries taken together, Czarism has crushed a proletarian body,
in order to suppress the most modest beginnings of a labor movement.
An employment of military power similar in
its nature we observe in the activities of the colonial armies
and constabularies against those natives of the colonies who will
not willingly allow themselves to be brought under the yoke of
the meanest exploitation and greed. However, we can not deal more
fully with this particular subject.
It must still be mentioned that often no sharp distinction can be made in this connection between the army proper and the constabulary and the police; they work together intimately, they replace and supplement one another and belong closely together, if for no other reason than that the quality which counts here -- a violent combative temper, a willingness and readiness to sabre the people resolutely and ruthlessly, is also, in the case of the police and constabulary, mainly a genuine product of the barracks, a fruit of military education and training.
In two instructive articles (published in Mouvement Socialiste, May-June and August-September, 1906, Les massacre de classe en Italia) Ottavio Dinale gives an historical account of massacres of workmen in Italy. He does not merely deal with massacres directly connected with strikes, but also with those got up on occasions of labor demonstrations in the economic struggle outside of strikes. The articles show clearly how quickly the army appears on the scene in Italy on such occasions, for what slight cause and with what sur passing severity military attacks are made on defenceless crowds, how it is even customary to continue firing into and slashing at the fleeing, dispersed crowd. He sums up by stating that in Italy the "bullets of the King" shatter the bones of Italian workmen every year perhaps some five, six or even ten times. He points out that the Italian bourgeoisie, the author of those massacres, is among the most narrow-minded, backward bourgeois classes of the world, that in the eyes of these capitalists Socialism is not a political philosophy, but a species of criminal disposition, criminal propensity, the most dangerous for public order. He quotes the words written by the Milan newspaper Idea liberale on the morrow of the butchery of Grammichele: "Killed and wounded -- those people have met the fate they deserve the grapeshot, that is the most precious element of civilization and order."
After such samples one need not be astonished
to hear that even a so-called democratic government, like that
of Giolitti, never could be got to call the military to account
for their bloodthirsty barbarities, but rather praised them officially
"for having done their duty." It appears still more
natural that a resolution of the Socialist party in the Italian
Chamber demanding restrictive regulations in regard to the employment
of the military in collective conflicts should be voted down.
The first effect of the shootings of the month of May of 1898 was to clear the situation in the class-struggle and make even the blind and the short-sighted optimists see how matters stood. The following is a nearly complete register of the bloodshed of recent years:
killed wounded 1901, June 27, Berra 2 10 1902, May 4, Patugnano 1 7 1902, August 5, Cassano 1 3 1902, September 8, Candela 5 11 1902, October 13 , Giarratana 2 12 1903, May 21, Piere 3 1 1903, April 20, Galatina 2 1 1903, August 31, Torre Annunziata 7 10 1904, May 17, Cerignola 3 40 1904, September 4, Buggera 3 10 1904, September 11, Castelluzzo 1 12 1904, September 15, Sestri Ponente 2 2 1905, April 18, Foggia 7 20 1905, May 15, St. Elpidio 4 2 1905, August 16, Grammichele 18 20 1906, March 23, Muro 2 4 1906, March 21, Scarano 1 9 1906, April 30, Calinera 2 3 1906, April 4, Turino 1 6 1906, May 12, Cagliari 2 7 1906, May 21, Nebida 1 1 1906, May 21, Sonneza 6 6 1906, May 24, Benventare 2 2
The total number is 23 butcheries with 78 killed
and 218 wounded. A good harvest!
Innumerable are the cases in Italy where the
military have been mobilized against workmen and "peasants"
that were on strike or were demonstrating for some economic reason
and where no blood was shed. Those "exercises" of the
army are daily news items on the other side of the Alps.
We may also mention here as a matter of course a fact attested by Hervé, viz., that, just as it is in Italy, it is impossible to keep pace with the butcheries of striking workmen and peasants in Spain, a country in whose territories once upon a time the sun never set and where it does not seem ever to rise nowadays.
As is generally known, matters are not much better under the black and yellow flag of the Dual Monarchy. The Socialist deputy Daszynski could justly exclaim in the Austrian parliament on September 25, 1903, "During strikes and popular demonstrations, as well as during the ebullitions of national feeling it is always the army which turns its bayonets against the people, against the workmen, against the peasants." And with reference to general Austrian politics he could as justly point. out, "We live in a state in which, even in times of peace, the army remains the only thing that will cement together such disparate elements." He could point to the incidents that took place at Graz in ~897 and the blood shed at Graslitz. At the downfall of Prime Minister Badeni, in the month of November, ~897, the military were employed in Vienna, Graz and Budapest with sanguinary results. We remember the frequent butcheries of workmen in Galicia (a case deserving special notice is that in which the blood of farm laborers was shed at Burowicki and Ubinie [Kanimko], in 1902), the bloody events at Falkenau, Nürschan and Ostrau, which must properly be credited to the constabulary, a special body which is particularly devoted to maintain order in the interior and is partly subject to the orders of the military authorities, partly to those of the civil administrative authorities, which however is subject to a purely military discipline. During the general strike at Trieste, in February, 1902, there were also clashes with the army, and ten persons were either killed or wounded. We must also mention the incidents that took place during the bricklayers' strike at Lemberg in 1902, and the political demonstrations succeeding that strike, when hussars rode and shot into the crowd, killing five persons. The purely nationalistic scuffle at Innsbruck in 1905 is, however, outside the scope of our subject.
In Hungary considerable military excesses directed
against the populace occurred quite frequently up to recent years,
and the constabulary has always done its "full duty";
as, for instance, during the riots on the Pussta Tamasie, where
it fired on peaceful farm hands without any reason whatever. One
particular event of most recent date should be remembered, viz.,
the battle that was fought on September 2, 1906, in the county
of Hunyad, where the military were on the rampage among the striking
miners of the Petroseny coal mines. Numerous persons were severely
wounded, two mortally, and a hundred and fifty were slightly wounded.
On a later occasion we shall briefly refer
to the other skirmishes and engagements which the army has fought
in the politcal struggles of the proletariat of the Habsburg
In the speech mentioned above, Daszynski demanded that the "bayonets should not mix in politics." But since that time, as every one knows, the bayonets have turned to politics more eagerly and actively than ever before.
In Belgium the butcheries of workmen have a long history. The events of the years 1867 and 1868 are of importance, if only on account of the intercession of the International. The butcheries begin with the so-called hunger revolt of Marchienne in 1867, when processions of defenceless demonstrating workmen were set upon by a company of soldiers and cut down. There followed, in the month of March, 1868, the massacre of Charleroi and, in 1869, the infamous butcheries of Seraing and the Borinage.
The massacre of Charleroi, arranged by the
military and constabulary against the miners who had been driven
to the utmost desperation in consequence of the restriction of
output and wage reductions, induced the International at the time
to begin a vigorous agitation in Belgium, and led to a proclamation
by the General Council of the International, which resulted in
a considerable success for the International as regards organization.
The scenes of the sixties were repeated during the so-called hunger rebellions of 1886 in which not only economic questions, but also the demand for universal suffrage played a part, the latter in a confused manner, it is true. General Baron Vandersmissen issued his notorious circular letter on April 3,1886, a circular later condemned by even the Chamber of Deputies, in which he declared cynically, "L'usage des armes est fait sans aucune sommation" [use is made of arms without previous warning]. There was an unheard-of number of victims. In Raux alone 16 workmen were killed by a volley. On all this class-justice set its stamp of approval and laid particular emphasis by numerous heavy sentences which were imposed on workmen. From 1886 to 1902 there was scarcely a strike in Belgium without the military interfering. In that period some 80 men were killed. During the general strike of 1893, which though of a political nature may be mentioned in this connection, numerous people were left dead on the field of battle. The names of Verviers, Roux, La Louvière, Jemappes, Ostende, Bergerhout, Mons have been burnt as with a red-hot iron into the memory of the class-conscious Belgian working-class. They are blood-stained leaves in the big book registering the sins of Belgian capitalism. It was in 1902 that the standing army, together with the reserves, was mobilized for strike purposes for the last time, that time in consequence of the general strike. The unfavorable reports about the disposition and sentiments of the soldiers that reached the cabinet and were soon verified by the fact that the soldiers began to show their revolutionary temper in a fairly open manner, sang the Marseillaise, hissed their officers, etc., led to the Flemish soldiers being sent to the Walloon districts and vice versa, and finally brought about the decision not to use the standing army at all. Since 1902 the proletarian soldiers of Belgium have ceded the honorable role of acting the watch-dog to capitalism, the part of a "flying sen try before the money-chest of the employers," at least as far as the interior militarism is concerned, to the constabulary and civic guard, as previously set forth. To protect their sacred exploiting privileges the bourgeoisie were now at all events obliged to exert themselves and risk their own skins -- if such a danger can be said to exist at all in face of unarmed crowds. Elsewhere we have described that the civic guard does excellent work in the fight against the interior enemy.
In France the history of the class-struggle has been written with rivers of blood. We will not conjure up the hecatombs of the three days' battle of July, 1830; nor the 10,000 that died in the street fighting from June 23 to 26, 1848, the victims of the executioner Cavaignac; nor the first of December, 1851, of Napoleon the "Little"; nor the sea of blood made with those 28,000 heroes, in which the French bourgeoisie, murdering in a wholesale fashion as the agent and avenger of a capitalism that was shrieking with rage, tried in the red week of May of 1871 to drown the Commune, that capitalist slave war; nor the Pere Lachaise cemetery and its wall of the Federals, the monuments of an incomparable heroism. These struggles, revolutionary in the highest degree, in which militarism did its fearful work, are outside the scope of our historical speculations.
The exploits of French militarism against defenceless
striking workmen begin at an early date. The so-called "rebellion"
of the silk weavers of Lyons, whose banner bore the famous and
moving words, "vivre en travaillant ou mourir en combattant"
[to live working or to die fighting, began in the month of
November, 1831, by the military firing on a peaceful demonstration;
in a fight lasting two days the indignant workmen conquered the
town, the national guard fraternizing with them; but soon the
military occupied the town without a blow. Ricamari, Saint-Aubin
and Decazeville are names of localities rendered famous by the
first exploits of militarism under the second French Empire. In
those times the bourgeois republicans were most vehemently opposed
to sending soldiers to the strike districts. These same republicans
had scarcely got into power when they themselves began to adopt
the method of Bonapartism which they had only just fought against,
and they soon excelled their model. They found words of disapproval
only when the culprit was a Clerical or a Monarchist, and then
only out of political spite. At Fourmies a bullet from a Lebel
rifle, striking down a young girl, Marie Blondeau, on May 1, 1891,
inaugurated the new regime's baptism of blood. The bag of the
day, which was made by the 145th regiment of the line, consisted
of 10 killed and 35 wounded. But the butchers of Fourmies, Constant
and his assistant, Captain Chapuis, were soon to have companions.
Fourmies was followed by Chalons in 1899, La Martinique in 1900,
then Longwy, where the officers sealed and celebrated the Franco-Russian
alliance by using Russian knouts; finally, in the months of May
and June, 1905, there were the events of Villefranche-sur-Saone
and particularly Limoges with the cavalry charges and shootings
of April 17, 1905. In December, 1905, the drama of Combree was
enacted, and on January 20, 1907, the people demonstrating in
favor of Sunday as a day of rest were chased off the streets of
Paris by an immense muster of troops. In this recital we must
also not forget Dunkirk, Creuset and Montceau-les-Mines where,
according to the report made by the Conféderation Générale
du Travail (the French Federation of Labor) to the Dublin
international conference, the soldiers declared their solidarity
with the strikers.
What Meslier exclaimed during the latest great anti-militaristic trial is true: "Since the murder of little Marie Blondeau at Fourmies the workingclass of France has passed through a long martyrdom abounding in victims." Nothing shows better the absurdity of the illusion of a peaceful development cherished by the adherents of the"new method," than the fact that the vigorous growth and increase of anti-clerical and republican sentiment and activities which could be noticed in the France of the last five years, the France of Millerandism, has not resulted in a diminution, but positively in an increase of the "punitive expeditions", of the military against strikers. The latest radical democratic government of Clémenceau with its two Socialists will also not bring about a change. Lafargues's pointed remark in the Humanité, "The modern armies serve exclusively for the protection of capitalist property, in so far as they do not concern themselves with plundering colonies," hits the nail on the head in regard to France also.
It is easy to show what that "tone of equality" signifies which, according to Professor Sombart, pervades in many respects the social and public life of the United States, and to demonstrate that capitalism, when it comes to the point, can very effectively reinforce its "tone" by the sound of the cannon, the rattling of musketry and the swishing of the sabre, an accomplishment in which it still outstrips even the proletariat of America. The following facts are not only instructive in regard to the great importance which the methods of military recruiting and the disposition and training of troops have for their availability against the "interior enemy. They often assume a peculiar character in consequence of the comparatively well-armed condition of the working-class, attributable to circumstances peculiar to America.
Beyond the ocean, as in Belgium, the period
of the butchery of workingmen begins with the movement of the
unemployed. On January 13, 1874, a strong police force pounced
upon an unemployed demonstration without any provocation. Hundreds
of severely wounded workmen remained on the battle-field of Tompkins
Square, New York. Then followed the dramatic events of the railroad
strike in the month of July, 1877. Against the strikers of the
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad the governor of West Virginia sent
several companies of state militia which proved too weak however.
The 250 men of the Federal army sent to their aid by President
Hayes achieved no better result. In Maryland the rifles of the
militia killed ten and wounded a greater number of men. In Pittsburgh
the local militia, called upon by the sheriff, refused to act.
The old trick of employing men from other parts of the country
was resorted to. Six hundred men of the militia sent from Philadelphia
fought a short but fierce battle with the strikers, but were beaten
and fled the next morning. The militia called out against the
strikers in Reading, Pennsylvania consisted mostly of workmen
who fraternized with the strikers, distributed their ammunition
among them and threatened to turn their arms against all hostile
militia units. But one company, which was almost exclusively composed
of men belonging to the possessing classes and was led by a reckless
officer, opened fire on the crowd, killing 13 and wounding 22
persons. The company was, however, given no time to enjoy its
exploit, and had to retire soon in a badly beaten-up condition.
St. Louis, which for a time was entirely in the hands of the strikers,
was finally re-conquered for "law and order", by, the
entire police force and several companies of the militia, after
a veritable siege of the headquarters of the executive committee.
The terror which overtook Chicago in the month
of May, 1886, is attributable to the Pinkertons and the police
force. Mr. McCormick, of the McCormick Reaper Works, let his armed
Pinkertons loose upon the strikers (to protect the "willing
workers," as was alleged), and thus started off the sanguinary
attacks by the police, who clubbed men, women and children without
distinction, killed six persons and wounded numerous others. That
occurred on May 3. On the 4th of May the celebrated dynamite bomb
affair occurred, which produced a violent street battle in which
4 workmen were killed and about 50 wounded, whilst of the police
7 were killed and 60 wounded. The whole world is acquainted with
the horrible trial arising out of the events of May 4, 1886, a
trial in which the democratic class-justice of America gave a
splendid proof of its qualifications.
The events during the period from 1892 to 1894
deserve a more detailed treatment. In the first place, violent
fights took place in the month of July, 1892, during the strike
in Carnegie's iron and steel works at Homestead between the armed
Pinkertons, called in by the employer; 12 men were killed and
20 severely wounded, the Pinkertons were beaten, and finally Federal
troops brought about the defeat of the strikers by occupying the
town, and with the help of military law. Almost at the same time
a miners' strike broke out in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Here the militia,
which was only some 100 strong, was not in a position to interfere
in the fight between the strike-breakers and~the strikers, who
were well armed. It was only when Federal troops, asked for by
the governor, arrived that the strikers were routed.
In Buffalo the switchmen went on strike in
the month of August, 1892. The local militia, called out immediately
at the beginning of the strike, did not appear to be inclined
to prevent picketing. Finally the sheriff was asked to request
the governor to send troops, whereupon the entire militia of the
state, twenty times more numerous than the strikers, appeared
on the scene within forty-eight hours and restored "peace
In the same month the strikes at the iron mines
of Inman and at the coal mines of Oliver Springs and Coal Creek
caused the governor of Tennessee to concentrate the whole available
force of the state militia, after some portions of the militia
had been disarmed by the strikers and sent home again. Here, too,
the suppression of the strike was followed by the merciless work
Finally we must make mention of the Pullman
strike of 1894, when the President of the United States, not heeding
the protest of Mr. Altgeld, the governor of Illinois, despatched
Federal troops who broke the strike in conjunction with the state
militia; 12 men were killed. As in all the other preceding cases
the courts, it is true, worked jointly with militarism and contributed
so much to the defeat of the workmen by means of the famous injunctions
and wholesale imprisonments that the leader of the strike, Debs,
attested: "Not the railroads, not the army defeated us, but
the power of the courts of the United States."
It still remains true that, though the militia failed frequently and though the strikers were frequently armed, it was the military power that decided the defeats of the workers in all the cases .mentioned, and subsequently, too, the strikers in America "were in a majority of cases quelled by the aid of the local police, state militia or Federal troops," also aided, to be sure, by "government by injunction." Almost without an exception the strikes ended thus with the defeat of the workmen, according to Hillquit, who seems to be somewhat too pessimistic in this connection.
Canada's "free" soil was reddened by the blood of workmen at Hamilton on November 24, 1906. During a collision with striking railroadmen the militia wounded 50 persons, some of them severely.
Switzerland's record in this field of military activity is truly quite a long one. As early as 1869 the government of Geneva employed both the police force and the militia against striking workmen. In the same year the government of the canton of Vaud recalled by telegraph a battalion that had marched off to do military exercises, supplied it with ball-cartridges and had it march with fixed bayonets into the town, where the workmen were on strike. It was also in 1869 that the government of Basle made troops act as pickets against the workers when the women silk weavers struck to improve their miserable conditions, and when in the same year a strike of vase-makers and engravers broke out at La Chaux de Fonds, the new bourgeois government provided itself with arms and ammunition for a possible mobilization of the militia.
In 1875 blood was shed. The government of the
canton of Uri mobilized the militia against 2,000 striking workmen
employed at the construction of the St. Gothard tunnel, who were
chiefly up in arms against the shameful truck system, it is said
that the employers interested placed 20,000 francs at the disposal
of the government for that mobilization. As a result of the bold
attack several people were killed and some 15 remained wounded
on the battle-field of the class-struggle. Blood was also shed
in 1901 by two companies called out against the strikers of the
Simplon tunnel by the government of the canton of Valais. Some
workmen were severely wounded on that occasion. In the same year
two companies of the militia had to do duty as pickets against
striking Italian bricklayers in the canton of Tessino. In the
month of October, 1902, occurred the well-known affair of Geneva
where, during a strike directed against an American band of exploiters,
the workmen were chased and clubbed by order of the government
of Geneva. Militiamen who refused at the time to act as bum-bailiffs
were imprisoned and declared to have forfeited their civic rights.
Incidentally it may be mentioned that on that occasion even many
of the bourgeois that had not been called out armed themselves
against the workers. At about the same time the militia was mobilized
at Basle for a strike. In 1904 the employers of the building trade
at Chaux de Fonds called upon the government for military help
against a strike which to their disgust was perfectly orderly
in spite of all provocations and therefore hopeless from the employers'
point of view; as a result, cavalry and a battalion of infantry
appeared promptly on the scene and, by intimidating the proletarians
who were conducting a legal fight, forced them back into capitalist
slavery. It was also in 1904 that the military was called out
against strikers at the Ricken, in the canton of St. Gall, to
protect, as was alleged, the fruit and vegetable harvest which
was in no way endangered. St. Gall also sent its militia to Rohrschach,
where, during a disagreement about wages in the foundries owned
by French capitalists, an excited crowd had smashed a few windowpanes.
A very serious affair took place at Zurich in the summer of 1906.
In consequence of the great increase in the prices of all necessaries
of life several strikes for higher wages had broken out in that
city, when the workmen employed in the building trades likewise
proclaimed a strike for the same reason. The militia interfered
without the slightest cause with sanguinary results, and beat
and clubbed the striking workmen in the most brutal fashion, dragging
especially the foreign strikers off to the barracks where they
were struck with riding-whips under the direction of the officers.
Moreover, picketing was prohibited as well as every kind of demonstration.
The interpellation relating to those infamous events which was
presented in the Grand Council was at first laid on the shelf
and finally simply throttled without any discussion by the solid
bourgeois majority. And to cap it all, six of the strike leaders
were put on trial and, on August 24, 1906, Sigg was sentenced
to be imprisoned for eight months and to forfeit his active civic
rights for one year, for an alleged incitement to mutiny by means
of an anti-militarist leaflet addressed to the militia; the other
five were acquitted.
More can hardly be expected from a bourgeois
republic and a militia.
These things appear in their proper significance
in connection with the fact mentioned elsewhere -- that the Swiss
citizens not in active military service had their ammunition taken
out of their custody in 1899. It will be seen that this happened
just early enough to facilitate, in view of the intensified form
of the class-struggle, the employment of the militia in the interests
of the capitalists.
On December 21, 1906, the National Council had adopted, by a majority of 65 against 55, a clause of the law on military re-organization providing that, if conflicts of an economic nature "should endanger or disturb internal peace," the calling-out of troops "necessitated thereby" shall be resorted to solely for the purpose of "maintaining public order." The whole law was adopted by 105 votes against 4. Undoubtedly the provision referred to does not mean anything but what was hitherto the rule of conduct followed when the military was called out; it is thus worthless, doubly worthless, nay, positively suspicious in view of the great minority who declared themselves even against that clause.
- The men that reorganized the entire Prussian army system after the Prussian army had been shattered at Jena by Napoleon, in 1806. [TRANSLATOR.]
- In Manteuffel's sensible command of April 18, 1885, we read: "Insults attack the sense of honor and kill it, and the officer who insults his subordinates undermines his own position; for there is no dependence on the loyalty or bravery of him who allows himself to be insulted." . . . "In a word -- as the subordinates are treated by their superiors, from the general to the lieutenant thus they are."
- A slight indication is furnished by the mass of deserters and men liable to military service who disobeyed orders to join the army. No less than 15,000 German deserters perished in the French colonial army during the first thirty years of the existence of the "splendid German Empire," whilst the bloody battle of Vionville in the Franco-German War resulted in only I6,000 men being killed and wounded.
- Every soldier fighting in German Southwest Africa meant an annual expense of 9,500 marks to the German Empire in 1906
- In France, for instance, in 1905: 1,101,260,000 francs. Since 1870 France has spent some 40 billion francs for military purposes (exclusive of the colonies).
- "Kulturaufgaben" -- a very difficult word to translate correctly. The lately much derided German word Kultur does not merely signify material civilization, but civilized life in its widest aspect. [TRANSLATOR.]
- The practice of officers of engaging private soldiers as domestics. [TRANSLATOR]
- See Hillquit's History of Socialism in the United States, which has been mostly used for the part referring to the United States.