Your answer to the above question will doubtless be an indignant “No!” It would be well, however, to examine the facts of the case before making a hasty reply. This brings us to another question, which must be fully considered before the first one can be dealt with.
What is this Prussianism—or Prussian Militarism—of which we have all heard so much during the last terrible twelve months? In plain language, it is a system by which an army (composed of workers compulsorily enlisted) is used by the military class, for the holding of the mass of the people in subjection, and for the conquest of foreign territory. Who, then, benefits by the existence and activities of the military class? It is the few who have made themselves the legal “owners” of the land and other means of producing food, clothing, and shelter, and all else that is needed by everyone in order to live. By “owning,” and therefore controlling, the means of producing and distributing all the necessaries (as well as the luxuries) of life, a small minority is enabled to own and control the lives of the toiling wage-slaves.
In every land the Wage-Slave System finds its strongest support in the military class, and the lives of the workers are held of small account where the interests of Property are concerned : the military organisation is frequently employed when those interests are endangered by workers on strike for the rights of human life as against the so-called “Rights of Property.” Again and again have soldiers been called out to shoot down their civilian fellow slaves. And in every land the propertied classes—that is, the self-appointed owners of the “right” to dominate the lives of the masses—the propertied classes (through the School, the Church, and the Press) do their best—or rather their worst—to poison the minds of the workers [page 2] against the workers of other countries—men and women who suffer similar wrongs at the hands of their “patriotic” masters.
“Prussianism”—or more correctly MILITARISM—is not confined to Germany : it exists in each country to the extent that suits the schemes of the dominant minority. The only difference between Continental militarism and British militarism is that, as yet, whilst all Continental workers, on reaching a certain age, are legally liable to be conscripted, only a certain number of the British workers are compelled to yield to the indirect though powerful appeal of Sergeant Starvation. However, there are in this country those who are trying their utmost to seize what seems to them an unrivalled opportunity of forcing CONSCRIPTION upon the workers. Several steps in this direction have already been taken, such as the Defence of the Realm Act, the Munitions of War Act, and the “National” Registration Act. (Beware of anything that is labelled “National”—it will usually prove to be thoroughly reactionary!) The next session of the House of Paid Palaverers will probably begin by the introduction of a Bill for the establishment of CONSCRIPTION. But it will not be called Conscription (in accordance with British traditions the pill must be sugar-coated), it will be disguised under the title of “NATIONAL SERVICE,” or some similar mask. Nevertheless, it will mean that each available worker is to be forced into army or arsenal, or into such other groove as may be selected for him by the “powers that be” : regardless of the judgment of the individual’s conscience, he is to be compelled to further the ends of the Coalition of Bureaucrats, who have definitely refused even to state the terms upon which they are prepared to cease the bloody sacrifice of the flower of the present generation.
Fellow worker, if you are a man, will you tamely submit to be still further enslaved? Will you allow yourself to be dragooned into killing your fellow slaves, perhaps to be killed in taking part in the quarrels of Governments arising out of their rivalry for the capture of world markets—for the cause of Empire abroad founded on Slavery at home? If you are a woman, will you meekly consent to the sacrifice of your man or your brother for such a cause as this? If you are the mother of a boy, brought into the world in pain and perhaps in peril of your life, could you bear to see him coerced into apprenticeship to the hideous trade of slaughtering the sons of other women— [page 3] is it your wish that he should pass through the fire to the modern Moloch of Militarism?
You who are a man, assert your manhood! Think for yourself—rely on yourself—act for yourself! Don’t be deceived by paid politicians, don’t be hoodwinked by the hireling hacks of a prostituted Press! Don’t allow yourself to be made a dupe—a tool in the hands of the Anglo-Prussians! Take your destiny into your own hands: learn a lesson from the bold action of the miners of South Wales, who, by sheer determination and by standing shoulder to shoulder, have gloriously won a battle in the ceaseless campaign against Property and its ally—the State! Remember that, when this disastrous European holocaust is over, the real fight for Liberty will still remain to be fought in every land—in the mine, the factory, and the field!
Don’t be Pro-Prussian!
Resist the Blood-Tax!
Refuse to be a Conscript!
Copies of this manifesto can be obtained free on application to the Anti-Conscription League, 127 Ossulston Street, London, N.W. Donations towards the cost of printing will be gladly received.
(Please turn over.)
[page 4] The Anti-Conscription League.
The Anti-Conscription League is an organisation consisting of men and women who are totally opposed to Conscription in any shape or form, whether Military or Industrial. MEMBERSHIP of the League is confined to men who are likely to be called upon for service should Conscription become law, and who are determined to refuse such service—whatever the consequences may be. Men above military age, and women, who are in sympathy with the aims of the League, are welcomed as Associates. The Associates of the League, besides assisting financially, will be able to render invaluable aid in educating public opinion, and organising protests against any suppressive proceedings which may be instituted against Members.
The League bases its attitude upon the urgent need that has arisen for offering immediate and whole-hearted opposition to the threatened further enslavement of individuals through legislation.
If you are in agreement with the aims of the League, as stated above, act at once! Join the League to-day. Send your name and address (stating whether you are joining as Member or Associate) to the Secretary, Anti-Conscription League, 127 Ossulston Street, London, N.W., who will also gladly receive contributions. The minimum subscription (for Members and Associates) is sixpence per quarter.
This part should be cut off and sent to the Secretary.
Being in full sympathy with the aims and objects of the Anti-Conscription League, please enrol me as* (* State whether Member or Associate.).
Printed by the FREEDOM PRESS, 127 Ossulston Street, London, N.W.