The Dance of Death
We have recently developed a habit of holding public meetings to denounce the sins of our neighbours. On such occasions violent and exaggerated statements are made and the whole audience worked up to a condition of glorious indignation and intense moral satisfaction with themselves thanking God as the Pharisee in the Temple, that they are not as this Publican. I cannot find in the scriptures that Our Lord tells us to meet together to confess the sins of our brothers, instead of confessing our own sins, and we are especially warned not to pass judgment. We, like the village gossip, always assume the worst. What effect are such meetings likely to have in the countries which are denounced? We have recently had some experience owing to the German press having at last taken to hitting back, digging out some black passages in our past history, and describing them with the gross exaggeration customary in political propaganda. These attacks in the German press have produced a feeling of intense indignation here. We may criticise our own sins, but are not going to have any damned foreigner doing it for us. It is none of his business, we say. Curiously enough the Germans have just the same feeling about things we say about them, and so the piling up of ill feeling is growing on both sides every day.
It is generally admitted by serious students to-day that the war of 1914 had no legitimate cause, if any cause for war can be regarded as legitimate. There have been in the past economic wars, dynastic wars, religious wars and wars for the conquest of territory, but in 1914 the nations of Europe had no quarrel with each other, and the whole world was prospering and increasing in trade.
It is true that we were very jealous of the rapid increase of the German export trade, and suspicious of the Fleet they were building although it was much less than half the size of our own, but I doubt if any merchant feeling the pinch of German competition in the world market would have regarded that competition as a justifiable reason for war.
The quarrel between Austria and Serbia could have been settled by reasonable negotiation between Austria and Russia without disturbing the rest of Europe. The only outcome of the war has been that millions of lives were thrown away, and a distracted Europe and an impoverished world left as the only tangible result.
Looking back on those years before the war, I realise that an insidious propaganda against Germany had been carried on for a long time, - why or by whom or with what intent I do not know, - which was gradually poisoning our minds. It is true Germany had the most powerful land army in the world, that the German Emperor had the gift of saying boastful and irritating things, and that there was a pan-German society which amused itself by drawing imaginary maps of a German European Empire. There had also been some trouble over the Agadir incident, when the German Emperor woke up to find that we had presented France with the whole of Morocco which did not belong to us; but there was no justification for saying that Germany meditated wars of conquest, and as an actual fact the German foreign office was in dread of the power of Russia.
What were the facts? Since the war of 1870, for which France and Germany were equally to blame, up to 1914 Germany had been at peace with all the world. We on the other hand had been constantly at war. We had invaded and conquered Egypt, we had made war on the Boers, we had fought in Africa and on the frontiers of India, and had annexed Burma. The gates of the temple of Janus had never been closed; yet we were firmly convinced that we were a peaceful non-aggressive people, and Germany an aggressive military nation.
Now that no serious student of the events leading up to 1914 [can still claim] that the German government was to blame any more than any other European government including our own, this legend about an aggressive Germany is obviously false; yet it is still believed by many people in this country, and we are told that Hitler is the successor of the Kaiser, and aims at the military conquest of Europe. The last war was psychological, it had no basis on realities, and if there is another war in Europe it will also be psychological.
In the old days of mercenary armies in Europe, two kings might quarrel and let loose their armies on each other without troubling to consult the people, whose first knowledge that war had been declared was when soldiers of both sides began looting their farms. To-day, now that we have conscript armies, it is necessary for the government before it can declare war to rouse the peoples of two countries to such a hatred of each other, that decent Englishmen and decent Germans get out their rifles and try to kill each other. This is done by means of propaganda.
There are of course powerful interests in every country to whom war means big
profits and who may be secretly engaged in financing propaganda and, as I have
shown elsewhere, the Socialists and Communists in
Europe to-day are exerting every effort to set the four western powers at war; but
this is not sufficient to explain the rapid spread of an infection over a country
producing all the symptoms of mental rabies. The Press have no scruples about
stimulating this mental intoxication if it sells a few more copies of the paper, and
do not hesitate about publishing shocking lies, and using the poster to excite the
The most serious danger to Peace is the utter want of any feeling of responsibility
on the part of the British, French and American Press and wireless. Let me take a
The most serious danger to Peace is the utter want of any feeling of responsibility on the part of the British, French and American Press and wireless. Let me take a recent example.The annexation of Bohemia and Moravia by the German government, and the joining of Memel to the Reich, has caused considerable excitement in this country. It is therefore a time when those responsible for news should do their best to calm and not excite public imagination. The B.B.C. sent out a message that the German government had told the Lithuanian government that if they did not hand over Memel, German planes would bomb the capital of Lithuania, and that while the Lithuanian parliament was meeting, German bombing planes flew backwards and forwards overhead.
There are poisons known to medicine which are called cumulative poisons. One drop will do no harm, but it remains in the body waiting for the next drop and the next and the next, until sufficient of the poison has accumulated to produce illness and death. The same is true of poisons to the mind. We read in the Press a lie about Germany, next day we read part of a speech denouncing Germany, on the Sunday we hear a sermon in which Germany is attacked. We pick up a magazine lying on the club table and there is an article abusing Germany. And so day by day and week by week and month by month this cumulative poison collects in our minds until the day comes when it produces a mental fever in which all sense of proportion is lost and we are controlled by the horrible delusion that it is our duty to go out and kill.
An interesting example of this occurred in the House of Commons the other day. The leader of the Labour party and the leader of the Liberal party both accused Franco of having dropped from his planes chocolate boxes containing infernal machines to blow children to pieces. There is a well known morbid disease known as persecution mania which often results in the sufferer committing murder. Both these men have reached this dangerous mental condition. They will not have to commit the murder themselves, but will send other men out to kill and to be killed.
When once war has been declared, the governments of both sides take charge of the propaganda machine and pour out lies about the people on the other side in order to keep hatred at a killing point. Many will remember that during the first year of the war, it was decided by both sides on the French front to have a truce at Christmas with the result that the German and English soldiers got so friendly that if the higher command had not stopped it at once, they would have refused to go on killing each other. I remember the first time I visited France during the war. I went to the camouflage factory and was astounded to find that our officers liked the Germans and only began to use bad language when the Portuguese were mentioned. The hatred of the German which was felt in Great Britain did not extend to the fighting line. As I watched Chinese labourers, French peasant girls, German prisoners and English soldiers all working happily together I wondered what we were fighting about.
It is also necessary, in order to keep the war fever at its height, to invent a slogan. Our slogan was that we were fighting to save democracy, - the victory of the allies having resulted in the abolition of parliament and the setting up of dictators in nearly every country in Europe. [Scriptorium comments: the present-day parallel is The War On Terrorism...]
I have during my life seen the nations of Europe hurled at each other's throats in a meaningless slaughter by means of lying propaganda, and when I see the same thing going on to-day in an aggravated form, I confess I am very much afraid. The German people who have been carrying through a revolution against enormous odds, have doubtless done many things of which we cannot approve, but these things have not only been exaggerated out of all proportion, but have been successfully used to rouse the most dangerous and bloodthirsty of all human emotions, - moral indignation, and the church has been pressed into service in order to bring us nearer to war. Everywhere the gospel of hate is being preached in the Press and from the pulpit. We are told by those preaching this gospel that they have no hostility to the German people but only to the German government, the wicked Hitler and the dreadful Nazis. If that is true, surely the right way to go about it is to persuade the German people that our view and not their view is right. Surely a hatred of Hitler is not a reason for killing millions of Germans, and incidentally killing millions of Englishmen in the process. If war is declared against Germany, every German whatever his private opinions will line up behind Hitler to defend his fatherland, and after a furious and bloody war, nothing will have been settled and Europe ruined.
We are told that Hitler is going to do this and is going to do that; let us at any rate wait and see if he does do any of these things before we dream of plunging into war.
The danger of the situation in this country is that good well-meaning people have got trapped by this propaganda and are beginning to think that the killing of Germans is a righteous and Christian act. If these people would go to Germany and visit some of the little German towns and wander about among the decent kindly people and say to themselves when they see a German workman returning to his home, "I am going to kill that man", and a German mother sitting in a public garden with her children, "I am going to make her a widow, and I am going to drop bombs upon this town and set it blazing in flames with the tortured people dying in agony in the ruins", all this in the name of the Christian religion, I believe they would go away shuddering at committing such devilry in the name of Christ.
When savage tribes wish to make war upon another tribe, they work their young men up to the killing point by means of war dances which produce the necessary mental intoxication. Our method to-day is more elaborate, but the object and the outcome is the same. The dance of death is getting wilder and wilder in this country, until nothing will satisfy us except a holocaust of blood.
It is obvious that the war propaganda in this country, and in America, cannot be kept going without a large expenditure, and the investment of capital in buying up politicians, managing governments, and controlling the British and American Press. It is impossible to find out who really owns the big British dailies behind the scenes, but it is evident that most of them dare not publish anything but anti-German news. Probably the only really free press in England today, are the local weekly newspapers.
Those who handle large sums of money are the International financiers, who do not spend money for ideological reasons, but only to make more money. It was not till I read the story of the political activities of the great Jewish banking firm Kuhn Loeb and Co, and the way in which they controlled American Presidents, and financed the Japanese war against Russia, that I realised the connection between war and high finance, which is the polite name for money lending on a big scale.
We cannot imagine our dear old orthodox British banks indulging in such unorthodox practices, but they pick up the crumbs which fall from the masters table. The profits are made in handling big loans, the general public finally holding the baby. Since the war, by means of propaganda, the American public have been persuaded to invest large sums in loans to bankrupt South American States, every penny of which has been lost, the financiers making their profit and clearing out. We had a ramp in the cotton industry, organised by the "City", which robbed the Lancashire workers of their savings and ruined the industry.
The richest field for plunder for the international financier is war and rumours of war. Owing to the present bad temper among European nations, some five thousand millions, if we include the U.S.A., is being spent on armaments, with no control on profits here or in America, and most of the money is being borrowed, while war means the borrowing of huge sums by the government at high rates of interest. It is obvious then, that while war ruins nations, it is the best way in which high finance can make enormous profits, the burden of interest being borne by future tax payers.
In the second place, as long as Germany and Italy are under their present governments, they will not touch foreign loans, and Germany by her method of internal economy and trading has eliminated the international financier, and those who make profits by playing with foreign exchanges. That is doubtless why the government is being forced by the "City" to start a trade war with Germany. If the economic methods devised by Germany are successful, and spread to other nations, and if Hitler succeeds in his policy of establishing permanent peace in Europe, the high financier will cease to be able to exist. It is therefore their main interest today to plunge the four powers into war, in order to destroy Germany and Italy. Having failed in September to start Europe fighting over a time table, they are now trying to bring in the U.S.A., which has already begun a trade war against Germany. It would be interesting to know the real origin of Roosevelt's outburst about defending "Christianity, democracy and international good faith". Who pulled the strings and sat grinning in his bank parlour in New York?
The organisation of mass propaganda here and in the U.S.A., by financial groups, means the end of democracy, which is based on the free expression of opinion and putting both sides before the people. Not only is the Press and the B.B.C. controlled, but the House of Commons itself is being intimidated, as the Members of Parliament fear their constituents whose minds have been poisoned by mass propaganda. There are many Members of Parliament opposed to our hostility to Germany, but they are afraid to speak in the House.
In fact, we have reached the extraordinary position in this "free and democratic" country, that the only place where a fearless discussion is possible and takes place, is in the House of Lords, where the members, separated by their exalted position from the tyranny of machine-made democratic opinion, can speak freely what they believe, and excellent speeches are made opposing our hostility to Germany.
Freedom of speech, a high level of intelligence, and a genuine desire for the public good, apart from the low motives of political life, has deserted the House of Commons, and taken refuge in the House of Lords.
Once their propaganda has been successful, the governments of democratic countries have to yield as our Government has yielded to the outcry about the annexation of Bohemia and Moravia. Only Hitler and Mussolini are strong enough to say No and will keep the peace unless we and France compel them to draw the sword. Unfortunately in this country the "City" pulls the strings, and while our young men will be fighting and dying under the delusion that they were defending Christianity and democracy, they would really be fighting to make profits for the international financiers.
The vultures of finance gorge on war and rumours of war, and millions of lives are sacrificed to fill their money chests.