Workers of all countries, unite!
From ‘The Call’, paper of the British Socialist Party, February 7 1918
This war, the most ghastly and terrible that has affected our world, could never have broken out if the workers of all countries had discarded the superstition of national patriotism and had remained loyal to their class.
At international congresses the tactics to be adopted by the workers were clearly defined. But no arrangements were made to carry them out; no preparations were made for concerted action, should the contingency arise. With the result that, when war did come, distrust and uncertainty undermined the International. It collapsed, and today the dead and the maimed bear witness to the unpreparedness and folly of the working class.
In every country a remnant remained loyal to the International and strove to carry out its decisions. Against overwhelming odds they sought to stem the tide of fanaticism that swept over Europe, and to bring reason to the masses intoxicated with war. In each country they were charged with being in the pay of the enemy. In France and England they were pro-Germany; in Austria and Germany they were pro-England.
For three and a half terrible years we of the BSP and The Call have exposed the imperialist character of the war. Through all that time we endeavoured to allay the hatred engendered and to bring the workers of this country to a sense of class interest. We concentrated our attacks on militarism and imperialism at home, certain that, isolated though we were, we were working in unison with our comrades in other lands.
We began to make headway. In every country the desire to bring the ghastly slaughter to an end grew manifest. But, as reason returned to the workers, they discovered that the war held them in a grip it seemed impossible to shake off. The workers were divided, pitted against each other. Drastic action in each country separately would place our fellow workers in the trenches in a terrible position. ‘We must go on if the others go on,’ was the cry.
We urged the necessity for an international congress, but the government refused, knowing that the workers would settle their differences once they got together. Only the most drastic measures would have been effective in compelling the governments to give way; but these the workers dared not adopt. Once again fear and distrust were responsible for keeping the workers in the clutches of militarism.
The Russian workers delivered the first blow for working class solidarity. They made the first breach in the wall of militarism and capitalism. Russia’s stupendous achievement brings hope and strikes fear in the breasts of those who have everything to lose by the triumph of the working class. Her call to the workers of all lands is irresistible. The response gathers volume as the days go by. The workers of Austria-Hungary demonstrated their readiness to enter the fight against the enemy - the real enemy. Now the German workers, so long denounced as the willing tools of Prussianism, have made their voices heard. Our own capitalist press, true to its antipathy to all movements of the working class, derides and jeers at the German workers’ action towards a general peace.
They call on the German workers to rise, and in their hearts they hope that the German militarists will be successful in imposing silence on the people. For the moment Hindenburg may beat down the German workers, to the intense satisfaction of our warmongers; but the wind that arose in Russia blows towards the west.
The workers of all countries will unite.