Ch 16 Origins of the World War

CH.16-ORIGINS OF THE WORLD WAR

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CHAPTER XVI: ORIGINS OF THE WORLD WAR

SECTION 3: INTERNAL CRISIS 1906-1914

 

THE TORIES HAD BEEN IN OFFICE FOR 20 YEARS BUT IN 1906 WERE SWEPT FROM OFFICE BY A POPULAR VOTE.
THE PEOPLE REALISED HOW LITTLE THEY HAD GAINED DURING THE COLONIAL TRIUMPHS.

THE TORY PARTY WAS SPLIT OVER THE QUESTION OF IMPOSING TARIFFS AND TRADE UNION THREAT AGAINST THE TAFF VALE JUDGEMENT.

THE ADVANCED IMPERIALISTS SAW THE LOGICAL DEVELOPMENT OF A TARIFF PROTECTION UNIT, WHILE OTHERS FAVOURED FREE TRADE. BALFOUR SAT ON THE FENCE.

THE RESULT WAS VICTORY FOR THE LIBERALS, WHO RAISED THE BOGUS CLAIM OF DEAR FOOD.

CHAMBERLAIN’S INDUSTRIAL STRONGHOLD OF BIRMINGHAM SURVIVED THE ELECTION AND ENSURED THE DOMINANCE OF THE PROTECTIONIST GROUP WITHIN THE TORIES.

 FOR THE FIRST TIME, THERE WAS A BODY OF LABOUR MPS. 29 WERE ELECTED AND SAT WITH THE LIBERAL RADICALS. TOGETHER, THEY SUPPORTED A 'TRADES DISPUTE ACT'.

LIBERALISM WAS FACED WITH OPPOSITION FROM THE LEFT. THIS WAS THE REAL REASON FOR A SERIES OF SOCIAL REFORMS, WHICH ULTIMATELY BECAME ASSOCIATED WITH LLOYD GEORGE.

LLOYD GEORGE WAS A WELSH SOLICITOR WITH CHAPEL ELOQUENCE AND A COMPLETE ABSENCE OF SCRUPLES.

HIS REFORMS WERE CONCERNED WITH MINOR ISSUES AND EXCLUDED QUESTIONS OF PRICES AND WAGES.

THE OLD AGE PENSION SCHEME OF FIVE SHILLINGS FOR THOSE OVER 70 (WHOSE INCOME DID NOT EXCEED £21 A YEAR), THE TOWN PLANNING ACT, THE HEALTH AND UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT AND FINALLY THE AGRICULTURE ACT WERE ALL FROTH.

THE EFFECT WAS TO SUCCESSFULLY TAKE THE STING OUT OF THE LABOUR OPPOSITION.

LLOYD GEORGISM BOUGHT OFF THE WORKING CLASS AND EXPANDED ARMAMENTS BY £30 MILLION IN SIX YEARS.

THIS HAD TO BE FOUND FROM HIGHER TAXATION, WHICH INFURIATED THE TORY LORDS AND LANDLORDS.

IN 1910, THE LIBERALS FOUGHT AN ELECTION ON THE THEME ‘PEERS VERSUS PEOPLE’.

THE RESULTS WERE A DISAPPOINTMENT, WITH THE BALANCE OF POWER BEING HELD BY LABOUR AND THE IRISH NATIONALIST GROUP.

A SECOND ELECTION A YEAR LATER BROUGHT NO REAL CHANGE TO THIS.

THE REAL REASON BECAME APPARENT IN THAT WORKERS’ CONDITIONS IN 1910 WERE WORSE THAN IN 1900.

PRICES WERE HIGHER, LEADING TO PURCHASING POWER FALLING, AND THE TRADE UNIONS REACTED.

THE STRIKE MOVEMENT HAD ITS ORIGINS IN THE RANK AND FILE, LEAVING THE PARLIAMENTARY LABOUR PARTY BEHIND.

UNION RECOGNITION STRIKES AND DEMANDS FOR NATIONALISATION CAME FROM THE INDUSTRIAL WORKERS.

ONLY THE WAR PROBABLY PREVENTED A GENERAL STRIKE.

IN 1905, THE WELSH MINERS STRUCK, AND THIS WAS FOLLOWED FOR SIX YEARS BY STRIKES BY THE RAILWAYMEN, COTTON SPINNERS, ENGINEERS AND MINERS IN THE NORTH EAST.

THIS LED TO THE NATIONAL COAL STRIKE OF 1912: OUT CAME THE DOCKERS, CARTERS AND SEAMEN.

THE GOVERNMENT COULD NOT INTERVENE WITH MILITARY FORCE FOR FEAR OF INFLAMING THE SITUATION AND PUSHING IT TOWARDS A GENERAL STRIKE. THE RESULT WAS AN INCREASE IN CONCESSIONS AND WAGES ROSE TO EIGHT PENCE AN HOUR.

THE DOCK STRIKE, ORGANISED IN LONDON AND MANCHESTER BY TOM MANN, WAS UNOFFICIAL AND WAS IN DEMAND OF UNION RECOGNITION AND THE ABANDONMENT OF COMPULSORY ARBITRATION.

AFTER A LULL IN 1913, 1914 SAW THE RESUMPTION OF EFFORT BY THE 'TRIPLE ALLIANCE' OF MINERS, RAILWAYMEN AND TRANSPORT WORKERS.

A GENERAL STRIKE AND REVOLUTION OF SORTS WAS IMMINENT.

THE GROWTH OF THE SHOP STEWARD AND ENGINEERS’ POWER TOOK PLACE DURING THE WAR YEARS, WHEN THE OFFICIAL TRADE UNION MACHINE HAD BEEN HANDED OVER TO THE GOVERNMENT.

WITHIN A FOUR YEAR PERIOD, TRADE UNION MEMBERSHIP HAD INCREASED TO FOUR MILLION.

THE PANKHURSTS LED THE CAMPAIGN FOR A FRANCHISE FOR WOMEN.

MUCH MORE SERIOUS WAS THE QUESTION OF IRELAND. IN RETURN FOR SUPPORT BY THE IRISH NATIONALISTS, A 'HOME RULE BILL' WAS INTRODUCED, WHICH GAVE IRELAND A MEASURE OF INDEPENDENCE, BUT CONSIDERABLY LESS THAN THE DOMINIONS.

THE BILL WAS REJECTED BY THE LORDS. THE KEY WAS ULSTER AND ITS CAPITALIST EMPLOYERS.

IRISH NATIONALISTS CLAIMED THAT IRELAND WAS A NATION AND NO ENGLISH PARLIAMENT HAD THE RIGHT TO PARTITION IT.

THE ULSTER PROTESTANTS CLAIMED THAT NO ENGLISH PARLIAMENT HAD THE RIGHT TO PLACE THEM UNDER CATHOLIC RULE OF THE SOUTH. THEY EVEN CONTEMPLATED SUPPORT FROM GERMANY.

A LARGE BODY OF ‘VOLUNTEERS’ WAS RAISED AND CIVIL WAR LOOKED POSSIBLE.

EVEN THE ARMY IN THE NORTH THREATENED TO RESIGN BEFORE IT WOULD MOVE AGAINST THE VOLUNTEERS.

LENIN WROTE THAT INSTEAD OF THE LIBERAL GOVERNMENT APPEALING TO THE MASSES, IT WAS OVERWHELMED BY THE LANDLORDS AND ARMY AND MADE CONCESSIONS. HE ARGUED THAT IT WAS AN EXCELLENT LESSON IN (RULING) CLASS STRUGGLE.

THE CHALLENGE IN THE SOUTH BY THE IRISH VOLUNTEERS AND THE DUBLIN STRIKES AGAINST EMPLOYERS’ ATTEMPTS TO SMASH THE MILITANT IRISH TRANSPORT WORKERS’ UNION WAS MET BY EXTREME BRUTALITY BY THE POLICE. IT LED TO MANY FATALITIES.

THE DEFEAT LEFT AN INVALUABLE LEGACY WITHIN CONNOLLY’S CITIZEN ARMY.

CONNOLLY SAW WHAT FEW SAW. HE UNDERSTOOD WHAT LENIN UNDERSTOOD. THIS WAS A CLASS STRUGGLE OF A COLONIAL PEOPLE.

ONLY IN A WORKERS AND PEASANTS’ REPUBLIC WOULD THE PEOPLE OF IRELAND REALLY BE FREE.

ALTHOUGH ARMS WERE SOUGHT, THE CONFLICT THAT FOLLOWED INEVITABLY LED TO A COMPLETE SPLIT ON THE OUTBREAK OF WAR.

CIVIL WAR, THE RISING TIDE OF LABOUR UNREST AND THE POSSIBILITY OF A GENERAL STRIKE IN ENGLAND WERE NOT PECULIAR TO ENGLAND.

IN INDIA AND EGYPT, NATIONALIST MOVEMENTS WERE MAKING RAPID PROGRESS.

THE RUSSIANS WERE RECOVERING FROM THE 1905 AND 1906 REVOLUTIONARY CRISIS.

A SCANDAL IN FRANCE THREATENED. IN GERMANY, THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATS WERE GAINING SUPPORT.

THERE WAS HARDLY AN IMPORTANT COUNTRY TO WHICH A FOREIGN WAR DID NOT PROMISE AN EASY WAY OUT OF INTERNAL DIFFICULTIES.

THE WAR OF 1914 WAS NO DOUBT THE INEVITABLE RESULT OF THE GENERAL SITUATION CREATED BY WORLD IMPERIALISM. HOWEVER, THESE INTERNAL DIFFICULTIES MUST BE RECKONED AMONG ITS SYMPTOMS AND THE PRECISE MOMENT FOR THE OUTBREAK OF WAR.

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