Thursday, 14 August 2014

Incitement to Mutiny, 1912

Text from: 1912 The Syndicalist Trials, pdf at lib.com 

OPEN LETTER TO BRITISH SOLDIERS
Men! Comrades! Brothers!
You are in the army.
So are we. You, in the army of Destruction. We, in the Industrial, or army of Construction.
We work at mine, mill, forge factory or dock etc., producing and transporting all the goods, clothing, stuffs etc., which makes it possible for people to live. You are Workingmen's sons.
When We go on strike to better our lot, which is the lot also of Your Fathers, Mothers, Brothers and Sisters, You are called upon by your Officers to MURDER US.
Don't do it.
You know how it happens. Always has happened.
We stand out as long as we can. Then one of our (and your) irresponsible Brothers, goaded by the sight and thought of his and his loved ones' misery and hunger, commits a crime on property. Immediately you are ordered to murder Us, as You did at Mitchelstown, at Featherstone, at Belfast.
Don't You Know, that when you are out of the colours, and become a `Civvy' again, that You, like Us, may be on strike, and You, like Us, be liable to be murdered by other soldiers.
Boys, Don't Do it.
'Thou shalt not kill', says the Book. Don't forget that! It does not say 'unless you have a uniform on'.
No! MURDER IS MURDER, whether committed in the heat of anger on one who has wronged a loved one, or by clay–piped Tommies with a rifle.
Boys, Don't do it. Act the Man! Act the Brother! Act the Human being! 
Property can be replaced! Human Life, Never!
The Idle Rich Class, who own and order you about, own and order us about also. They and their friends own the land, and the means of life in Britain. You Don't! We Don't!
When We kick they order You to murder Us. When You kick, You get court–martialled and cells.
Your fight is Our fight. Instead of fighting Against each other We should be fighting with each other.
 Out of Our loins, Our lives, Our homes, You come.
Don't disgrace Your Parents, Your Class, by being the willing tools any longer of the Master Class. You, like Us, are of the Slave Class. When We rise, You rise; When We fall, even by your bullets, Ye fall also. England with its fertile valleys and dells, its mineral resources, its sea harvests, is a heritage of ages to us.
You have no doubt joined the army out of poverty. We work long hours for small wages at hard work, because of our poverty. And both Your poverty and Ours arises from the fact that, Britain with its resources, belongs to only a few people. These few, owning Britain, own Our jobs. Owning Our jobs they own Our very lives.
Comrades, have we called in vain? Think things out and refuse any longer to Murder your Kindred. Help US to win back Britain for the British, and the World for the Workers.


[This appeal gave rise to the Syndicalist prosecutions of 1912. It was printed in The Syndicalist of January 1912.] From solwest.org.uk



As well as foreshadowing WW1 trials for publication of anti-war material, the case evidently showed up some differences, which were to become more acute, with (and within) the official suffragette movement.
The above leaflet seems to suggest that the reduction of the sentences in the Syndicalist case was unduly lenient, if only by comparison with the treatment of women activists. It does not relate to the First World War itself, as may appear at first sight (and as implied in the programme of events from which it is copied).

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