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struggle, and that by the miners themselves, not by their representatives. And the pool stands for exactly the same principle as the national minimum did in 1912. Instead of the individual discrepancies caused by abnormal places, which led to that struggle, we have to-day the district discrepancies caused by the economic position; and they have been universally admitted to be indefensible. The object of the pool is to fill up those discrepancies, so far as may be, and level the status of men doing similar work. The motive is identical, and this ballot shows the extraordinary hold it has on the men. Nor can any one say that it is not a laudable motive. It may be unwise or impracticable from an economic point of view-that is a matter for argument—but its root is a fellow-feeling. Why are the owners, and the Government with them, so immovably opposed to anything of the kind, that rather than even consider it they are willing to enter upon and indefinitely keep up this suicidal conflict which is bleeding the country white ?
One motive, probably the most powerful though not the most fundamental, is the conviction that the demand for a pool is merely a cloak for ulterior and revolutionary designs, for nationalisation and the abolition of Capitalism at large. They have grounds for that conviction. The Left Wing have never concealed their revolutionary goal, but have proclaimed it from the house-tops; and the Sankey inquiry left no doubt about the campaign. The owners and the Government believe that to yield on the matter of the pool is to open the door which the revolutionary element has been unsuccessfully trying to force. For otherwise the owners cannot be charged with a dogged conservatism or resistance to change. The scheme they put forward before decontrol is a most remarkable innovation which puts the economic relations of employers and employed on an entirely new footing. It embodied the principles of a standard wage, to be the first charge on the industry and not subject to any automatic reduction; a standard profit bearing a fixed relation to the aggregate wages paid; the division of further profits between owners and men in a fixed proportion; and a joint audit of accounts to ascertain the data for determining these amounts.
The full bearing of these proposals, which the Miners' Federation accepted in outline, though disagreeing on the precise percentages, has never been appreciated or explained to the men. But no less an authority than Mr. Frank Hodges paid the scheme a striking tribute at the Board of Trade Conference on April 28.
'It is,' he said, the most far-reaching proposal that has been made in modern industry, and had it not been for the fact that it is related to districts instead of related to the national trade, that proposal would in itself have removed from our men's minds much of the suspicion, doubt, and irritation that exists now; for whatever happens in the future we should know to a penny how much profits the trade was going to give up and how much wages the workmen were going to receive. Both parties would have concentrated upon reducing the costs of production to the lowest possible point; they would have had something to stimulate them to the greatest possible efficiency, so as to have had the largest possible balance between cost and price for division between the parties. It would have worked automatically; we would have had no strikes and stoppages about it; the revenue and income and expenditure would have been ascertained quarter by quarter, and the national trade would have moved on for many years to come in an atmosphere of complete quietness and, I think, prosperity.'
Employers of labour who propounded a scheme so described by the chief spokesman of the Miners' Federation cannot be called reactionary. Yet they were willing to wreck the fair prospect by insistence on the district basis; for there is little doubt that had they conceded the national basis the miners would have been in a mood to settle the minor details without difficulty. The adamantine refusal even to look at the national basis can be accounted for only by fear that it concealed further designs; for there is nothing in the thing itself to justify such absolute opposition. The economic arguments against the pool, which would be a partial application of the national principle for a specific purpose, are quite inadequate; and the exaggerated terms in which they have been advanced show it. A strong case needs no such support. Any one might suppose that such a thing as a pool had never been heard of before, and that unrestricted competition was
the order of the day; whereas there has never been unrestricted competition, and the order of the day is the formation of various sorts of pools. The mine-owners themselves are always forming combines, which are complete pools; and the same process is going on in all mature and highly-developed industries, especially in the countries that are beating us. It makes for economy
. and efficiency and steadies the market. The German coal syndicate is a conspicuous example. Twenty-eight years ago, in 1893, Sir George Elliot, who was quite as good a business man and knew as much about coal as any living mine-owner, proposed to amalgamate all the collieries in the kingdom into one concern, with a scheme of adjusting wages and profits very similar to the present one; and his purpose was to prevent the recurrence of the great disputes of that year. The three independent business men on the Sankey Commission recommended unification of the industry. In the face of all this it is impossible to maintain that there is anything impracticable or economically ruinous in pooling or amalgamation. The immovable opposition to it, endorsed by the Government, rests on other grounds, on fear of the designs behind it; and for this fear the revolutionary element among the miners and their supporters outside are responsible. The miners, on their side, fear corresponding designs to 'smash the Federation' entertained by the Mining Association. And for this fear the militant wing of the mine-owners and their supporters outside are responsible. So it is to these pugnacious spirits on both sides, who provide each with ammunition, that we owe this stupendous piece of folly, which really is the way to shatter the entire fabric of British industry,' as some one in an excited moment said of the pool. If the sane and sober men, who know that they must live at peace with their neighbours or all perish together, do not assert themselves, that will be the end.
[Since these words were passed for press such offices as they advocate have been successfully asserted, and the coal dispute is at an end. May its severe and serious lessons not be forgotten by workmen, or employers, or the nation at large !] Vol. 236.-No. 468,
Art. 12.—THE GERMANS IN BELGIUM.
1. The German Army in Belgium: The White Book of
May 1915. Translated by E. N. Bennett. With a Foreword on Military Reprisals in Belgium and Ireland.
Swarthmore Press, 1921. 2. Royaume de Belgique.
de Belgique. Réponse au Livre Blanc Allemand. Paris : Berger-Levrault, 1916. 3. L'Armée Allemande à Louvain. Deux Mémoires publiés
par les soins du Gouvernement Belge. Port-Villez (Seine
et Oise), 1917. WHATEVER may be thought of the value or the desirability of the proceedings against individual war criminals,' there can be no doubt that, in regard to the German people, and even the German army, at large, most Englishmen are willing to let bygones be bygones. No good purpose is served by deliberately dragging to the front hideous memories that are receding into the background of our minds. We are willing to hope that, in the school of adversity, Germans are learning to look with critical eyes upon that. Furor Teutonicus' in which, at the outset of the war, they openly gloried, magnifying and inflaming it both in prose and verse.
But Mr E. N. Bennett, the translator of The German Army in Belgium,' is not content to let bygones be bygones. He must needs rake up the ghastly story of August 1914, in order to claim our approval for the German action. His book is a complete translation of the White Book, Die völkerrechtswidrige Führung des belgischen Volkskriegs,' published in May 1915. He gives us the text without a word of criticism or comment. His personal contribution to the volume consists of a preface of eight pages, in which he maintains that, barring certain instances' in which the Germans exercised their right of reprisal with unreasonable severity and without adequate discrimination, nothing happened in Belgium that was in the least discreditable to probably the most sternly disciplined and best educated soldiers in the world.' He complains that the British Government ungenerously suppressed the disculpatory evidence which he here presents to English readers. The complaint is justified, though not precisely
on the ground he suggests. It is amazing that the British authorities did not publish and annihilate the White Book. The task, though tedious, would not have been difficult, for the German defence is incredibly feeble. It has been pulverised by the Belgian Government in several publications. One of these, L'Armée allemande à Louvain,' apparently unknown to Mr Bennett, translates the German evidence in full, and tears it to shreds in an absolutely masterly and conclusive fashion. But the Belgian publications were too voluminous for the general reader. It was difficult, indeed, to display very briefly the abounding inconsistencies, incredibilities, and absurdities of the White Book, especially as a large mass of collateral German evidence had also to be taken into account. Still, it would have been possible, within reasonable compass, to make the White Book look extremely foolish; and, if this had been done at the right time, it would certainly have been worth doing.
Two pages of Mr Bennett's Foreword' are devoted to extracts from Belgian (and Dutch ?) papers, supposed to prove the reality of the alleged franc-tireur attacks. These quotations were among the prize exhibits of German propaganda. They prove that, during the first four days of the stupendous calamity which had befallen the nation (the latest extract is dated Aug. 8), some Belgians were willing to believe, and some newspapers to print, the wild rumours which filled the air. It is natural that the Germans should make capital of them as indications of a state of mind; but the specific incidents related are demonstrably lies, and the Germans themselves make no effort to substantiate them. For instance, a paper of Aug. 6 stated that the population of Visé offered a 'vigorous resistance to the advancing Germans, who completely destroyed the town.' Now it is true
! that, in a drunken frenzy, they completely destroyed the town-but not till ten days later. When they entered Visé they met with practically no resistance and did little or no damage. A paper of Aug. 8 relates a story of a German officer assembling the inhabitants around him and addressing to them a pacific oration, at the close of which a shot suddenly fired at him caused him to fall dead to the ground.' This story went the round of the