Wayne Thorpe - El Ferrol, Rio de Janeiro, Zimmerwald, and Beyond: Syndicalist Internationalism, 1914-1918
"International syndicalism is our holy family"(1). Thus declared Die Einigkeit, the journal of the German syndicalist trade unions, on 25 July 1914, on the eve of the outbreak of war in Europe. This declaration constituted not only an identification with syndicalist organizations elsewhere but a pledge to honour labour internationalism in the event of war.
In 1871, Karl Marx wrote that governments use war as a fraud, a ‘humbug, intended to defer the struggle of the classes’. In 1914, that fraud was so effective that not only most workers but also most Marxists supported their respective nation’s rush to war. Ever since then, governments have used war to defer class struggle and prevent revolution. But this strategy cannot last forever.
In all the debates about which country was most responsible for the horrors of World War One, Britain invariably escapes any serious blame. That is until now. Douglas Newton has written the definitive account of Britain’s rush to war in the summer of 1914. It is 'only' a liberal anti-war account but as such a thorough account has never been written before it is still extremely useful. This is the concluding chapter of his book, The darkest days.