Peace, blessed Peace!
The Peace Conference summoned by the Czar of Russia is now sitting at the Hague - and the Czar is busy using military force to suppress the constitution of Finland.
Peace, blessed Peace! Britain prepares for war with the Transvaal in the interests of the capitalist speculators who desire to exploit that territory.
Peace, blessed Peace! The United States troops are busily engaged in massacring the Filippinos; looting their towns and burning whatever they cannot carry off.
Peace, blessed Peace! Lock out in Berlin, lock out in Paris, lock out in Scotland, lock out in Dublin, lock out of workers by the masters, desirous of reducing their wage slaves to subjection.
Peace, blessed Peace! The Peace Conference is sitting at the Hague - and the Prince of Hades enjoys the joke.
When nations go to war the women and children are exempted from molestation by the contending forces, but in the industrial struggle - the class war - it is the sufferings of the women and children upon which the capitalist class depends to defeat and subdue us.
You see, it works out in this fashion. There is no antagonism between the workmen and those by whom Labour is employed (eh, Mr McCarron) but when the masters desire to provide their wives or daughters with some fresh luxury - a dainty diamond bracelet or a Continental trip - then the workers are called upon to submit to a reduction of wages -
Just to show their friendly feelings and their humble Christian spirit.
Sad to say, the workers most inconsiderately refuse. Some foolish idea about the duty of providing the necessaries of life for their own wives and children gets into their heads, and as a result of this little difference of opinion there is a lock out.
A lock out! You know what that means. It means that the master class as its weapon against the workers uses the powers of slow and maddening starvation. It means that your master in order to defeat you, takes the food from your table, the clothes from your body, the coals from your fires, that he condemns you, as far as in him lies, to hunger and misery, and that he calculates, with a fiendish ferocity, that you will submit to his terms rather than see those dear to you perish for lack of proper nourishment.
That is a lock out. During the lock out the masters want for nothing, the workers are in want of everything. A fair fight? Hem.
At the ballot box the master would only count as one against his workers; their force could, if properly used, ensure the triumph of Labour as certainly as on the industrial plane the power of the master's purse will nearly always win.
Yet it is upon the industrial field alone that the workers prefer to fight.
In the workshop they fight the masters - at the ballot box they elect the master or his lackeys to rule them.
Yet it is the men elected at the ballot box who make the laws which govern the fight in the workshop.
When will the workers learn that the political power they could wield as an organised body is the greatest weapon in their hands, that the field of politics is the only field upon which the workers can win emancipation from the domination of capital?
In other words, when will the workers copy the masters who, not content with their tremendous economic power, unceasingly strive to secure every atom of political power in order to entrench their class in its position of supremacy.
Let the workers organise to seize political power; let them remember that all industrial institutions can be moulded responsive to the will of the class wielding the governmental power, and, so remembering, let them direct their energies toward the only object worth striving for, viz, to wrest the private ownership and control of industry from the hands of a robber class, and prepare the ground for the harvest of freedom - the Socialist Republic.
Then we shall have peace. Not the peace of imperial hypocrites, military bullies, lying diplomats and commercial pirates, nor yet the peace of beaten slaves, but the peace of a free people, paying tribute to no exploiter, fully masters of their own destiny.
Peace, blessed Peace?
Republished in James Connolly: Lost Writings, (ed. Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh), Pluto Press 1997.