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Stop The War, 1916-style

In 1916, the Reverend Swan of the Brotherhood Church in Hackney held (I kid you not) a “Stop the War” meeting. It did not go well.

Trouble was forseen by the police

Now, why would that be?

…the first hymn was sung. Then the trouble began.

…soldiers and civilians rose in a body and denounced the cha’rman [sic] and his companions as traitors.

[The vicar’s supporters] tried to drown the opposition by singing “The Red Flag”…

Oh yeah?

…but the public voice was stronger and carried the day with “Keep the home fires burning.”

Those were the days.

…some one began throwing down Chinese crackers. Hand-to-hand struggles became common all over the floor of the church. A man, who said he was wounded at Neuve Chapelle and had been invalided out of the Service, stood up on a seat in the centre of the building and pointing at the little crowd of young men, asked why they were not in khaki.

The vicar abandoned the proceedings but the crowd did not.

…a resolution demanding that the war should be carried on with all vigour until Germany had been beaten was carried with cheers.

When I first read this article, I assumed this meeting was the doing of some wooly-headed cleric. Not so. The Brotherhood Church’s other great claim to fame was that in 1907 it hosted the 5th Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (General Secretary, one V. I. Lenin). And, in case you were wondering, no, they were not duped.

You’d need a heart of stone not to laugh.

The Times 17 January 1916 p5

The Times 17 January 1916 p5

30 comments to Stop The War, 1916-style

  • Paul Marks

    The singing of the “Red Flag” gives the game away.

    Like the so called “Easter Rising” in Dublin, this meeting in London was by Marxists.

    The mask of religion (the Rev….) shows how back the Liberation Theology trick goes. It certainly was NOT invented by Rev. J. Wright and Barack Obama in Chicago back in the 1980s – here it is back in 1916.

    Although the “religious” left have learned a few things – they would no longer sing the “Red Flag” and they would scream “McCarthyite” at anyone who pointed out that they were Marxists.

    But the truth remains – these people do NOT want peace.

    People who sing the “Red Flag” want WAR – CLASS WAR.

    By the way read the lyrics – Chicago gets a mention (even though the song was written in the 19th century).

    All this goes back a long time.

  • Alisa

    The people’s flag is deepest red,
    It shrouded oft our martyred dead,
    And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold,
    Their hearts’ blood dyed its ev’ry fold.

    Then raise the scarlet standard high.
    Within its shade we’ll live and die,
    Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
    We’ll keep the red flag flying here.

    Look ’round, the Frenchman loves its blaze,
    The sturdy German chants its praise,
    In Moscow’s vaults its hymns are sung
    Chicago swells the surging throng.

    Then raise the scarlet standard high.
    Within its shade we’ll live and die,
    Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
    We’ll keep the red flag flying here.

    It waved above our infant might,
    When all ahead seemed dark as night;
    It witnessed many a deed and vow,
    We must not change its colour now.

    Then raise the scarlet standard high.
    Within its shade we’ll live and die,
    Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
    We’ll keep the red flag flying here.

    It well recalls the triumphs past,
    It gives the hope of peace at last;
    The banner bright, the symbol plain,
    Of human right and human gain.

    Then raise the scarlet standard high.
    Within its shade we’ll live and die,
    Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
    We’ll keep the red flag flying here.

    It suits today the weak and base,
    Whose minds are fixed on pelf and place
    To cringe before the rich man’s frown,
    And haul the sacred emblem down.

    Then raise the scarlet standard high.
    Within its shade we’ll live and die,
    Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
    We’ll keep the red flag flying here.

    With heads uncovered swear we all
    To bear it onward till we fall;
    Come dungeons dark or gallows grim,
    This song shall be our parting hymn.

    Then raise the scarlet standard high.
    Within its shade we’ll live and die,
    Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
    We’ll keep the red flag flying here.

    Written: 1889
    Lyrics: Jim Connel

  • Paul Marks

    There are two great mistakes still made about the First World War.

    There is the establishment cover-up mistake – the efforts to justify the absurd tactics of Haig and co.

    That angers me – and it is righteous anger, especially this year (the centenary of the Somme – where not a single General resigned, let along killed themselves, after July 1st).

    However, there is also another “mistake” – made both by the Fascist “right” and the Marxist “left”. And by innocent people whom they hoodwink.

    This “mistake” being that the First World War was not necessary at all – that our cause was not just, that we should have either ignored what Germany was doing or made some sort of deal with Germany.

    When one looks into the activities of such people (the people who lead this operation – not the innocent dupes) one normally finds they have the same attitude about the Second World War that they have in relation the First World War.

    This is to be expected – given the basic ideological continuity in Germany in terms of the twin objectives.

    The domination of Europe (including Britain – the idea that Britain would have been treated as a special case is nonsense that Fascist types delude themselves with).

    And the use of the resources of Europe (including the populations – as slave labour) to ensure German domination of the World.

    This was not just true of the Second World War – but the First World War also. It was bound up with the conscious and deliberate rejection by many of the German elite (although many good ordinary Germans remained) of the universal principles of justice – a denial that such basic principles of moral right and moral evil (independent of geography, “race”, “historical stage” and so on) even existed.

    The denial of individual moral responsibility (our ability to choose to what is morally right against our desire to do evil – in that terrible agony we call “everyday life”) – determinism. For the determinist is really saying, although they normally do not admit it, is “give in to evil – do not resist, resistance to evil is impossible anyway”. To put it in vampire terms “the thirst always wins”. Reason is a “whore” (Martin Luther) or a “slave” (David Hume). Just stop fighting, give in, you will feel so much better……. we offer you the “freedom to be no longer free”, an end to the terrible burden of moral responsibility (moral choice). Just give in “do it” (plunder, rape, enslave….), and the pain will go away……

    And the denial of universal principles of moral right and moral evil – various forms of relativism. Were, of course, problems in ALL countries before the First World War (for example in the United States such intellectual leaders as Noah Porter and James McCosh were dead – replaced by creatures such as Richard Ely and Woodrow Wilson).

    However, in the German elite both these problems (in fact moral evils) had become a plague – they had become dominant.

    In Britain such men as Harold Prichard and Sir William David Ross (Major Ross) were still Professors of Moral Philosophy as late at the 1940s. And in the United States such people were also still to be found – although perhaps not in the very “elite” universities (always the first to be corrupted) at least in most universities and so on.

    In Germany (even before the First World War – not just the Second World War) such people would be unlikely to get a job in a university – other than cleaning the toilets. A few scholars (some of them actually socialists) clung to Kant (not to the followers of Ayn Rand – compared to the other German philosophers Kant is actually the least bad alternative) and there was the Roman Catholic natural law tradition (in spite of Bismark’s effort to destroy it in the “Culture War”), but that was about it. And to cite the moral universalist Kant in German elite circles would have been considered hopelessly “old fashioned” by most elite members. As for citing Roman Catholic natural law thinkers (already considered “old fashioned” by many in the Roman Church itself by 1914) in the German elite of 1914……. well that would have not gone well.

    It is true that rabid anti Semitism was not yet added to the mix in official doctrine (although, as in all countries, it grow stronger in Germany from the 1870s onwards) dragging up the anti-Semitic ravings of Luther, Fichte and others was left to Mr Hitler later – but all the rest of the fatal doctrine (denial of individual moral responsibility, the agony of being human, and the denial of existence of basic universal moral principles) was already dominant in 1914.

    And it had to be defeated – the failure to do so in 1918 (the compromise peace – spitting on the sacrifices made by millions of Allied soldiers) made the Second World War inevitable.

  • Paul Marks

    Many thanks Alisa.

    Yes indeed.

    People who sing that song are certainly not “peaceful”.

  • Patrick Crozier

    Although this is a long way from the original post I think it is worth pointing out that in November 1918, Britain hit the jackpot. Germany lost all its modern battleships, all its submarines, all its tanks and all its aircraft. Its army was reduced to being little more than a gendarmarie. Also Germany had become a republic, like Britain. There was every reason to think that the new Germany would be quite different from the old, not least because, in the huge casualties at the front and at home, the Germans were well aware of the costs of the old Germany.

    It is difficult to see how Britain could have justified the sacrifice of 100,000s of extra lives when it had already achieved so much.

    The truth is that when you move from monarchy to republic the insanity lasts a lifetime. They couldn’t have allowed for that in 1918 even if they had known it.

  • Patrick Crozier

    An establishment cover-up to protect Haig, eh? Well, if there ever was it doesn’t seem to have been very successful.

  • Rob

    North London hasn’t changed at all then.

  • What Rob said. I was going to comment that it is now compulsory in Hackney but Rob got there first.

  • Mr Ed

    I thought the Red Flag started…

    The People’s flag is deepest red,
    We’ll put a bullet in your head,
    The Terror-Famine is our tool,
    For those who hate our bloody rule.

  • Mr Ed

    An establishment cover-up to protect Haig, eh?

    Well, smothering his achievements in an Earldom seems to be a way of sweeping over his faults, when he perhaps merited a court-martial and to be reduced to Private, and sent off to clear minefields, with a sledgehammer. I wouldn’t do what the Soviets did, put penal battalions in dark uniforms in snowy conditions, as that would have deprived him of the opportunity of making a positive contribution to the war effort.

    It’s a wonder that the Kaiser didn’t decorate Haig.

  • Arise, ye children of the trust fund
    Arise, ye parasites
    Go forth and plunder the productive
    And slaughter the innocent!

  • Patrick Crozier

    I shouldn’t think the Kaiser was so keen on decorating Haig in November 1918.

    Personally, I like my cover-ups to be made of sterner stuff. IIRC there was some difficulty in getting Haig to accept the earldom. They could easily have withheld it.

  • the other rob

    If we’re going in that direction, there’s always the corollary to the red flag:

    The working class can kiss my ass
    I’ve got the foreman’s job at last!

  • Umbriel

    “Liberation Theology” arguably even predates Communism itself, if one wants to trace back to the peasants’ revolts of the Middle Ages. The surprising thing here to me is that it coexisted so casually with the most strenuously atheistic sort of Marxism. Or perhaps it’s just that until 1917 the Leninist movement hadn’t yet taken over ownership of the “brand”.

  • bgates

    I’m not familiar with the song, but I can’t help but notice it could be sung to the tune of “The Ballad of the Green Beret”.

  • Mr Ed

    bgates, the tune is ‘O Tannenbaum‘, but with a fast tempo.

  • J.M. Heinrichs

    The mention of Chicago in that splendid song is based on the Haymarket Riot of May, 1886:


  • veryretired

    The left, whether marxist or progressive or socialist or some other convenient euphemism, has been a fifth column inside western civilization since its inception in the 1800’s. Most people, who are not obsessed with any visceral hatreds the consume their whole lives, cannot comprehend the total loathing with which leftists approach western culture.

    It always amazes me that so many are confused by the alliance between radical islam and the left. Until you comprehend the shared hatred of the west, and everything our culture has been based on for centuries, it seems mysterious that two groups who seemingly disagree on so many supposedly vital issues could support and parrot each other in their attacks against us.

    But when the realization dawns that a shared hatred of liberal, democratic, capitalist, technological, Christian society underlies everything they say and do, then this unholy alliance becomes more understandable.

    The millions dead under socialism, and the endless repression and violence advocated by islam, are not aberrations, but the only possible result of their doctrines.

    They are united in their sincere, heartfelt desire to see you, and everything you exemplify, and every one you know, dead, dead, dead.

    They’ve been vigorously pursuing our destruction for over a century, and they have come much too close to achieving their goal.

    Perhaps it’s time, and past time, to take some serious steps towards fighting back, and reversing these trends.

  • Bruce

    “The people’s flag is deepest pink,
    It’s not as red as people think,
    The working class can kiss my arse,
    I’ve got the foreman’s job at last”.

    Thus starts the “alternative” version sung to royally piss off the bolshevist sociopaths and their camp (and straight) followers / “useful idiots” .

    One amusing side-note from the ‘eighties:

    Some fellow Army Reserve types lived in a dorm/ college on a campus. The key feature of their “living” room was a VERY large red flag.

    Any visiting pinkos nodded with approval.

    The joke was that said red flag, in the REAL world, indicates a “live-firing area”.

  • AngryTory

    The joke was that said red flag, in the REAL world, indicates a “live-firing area”.

    no joke.

    They are united in their sincere, heartfelt desire to see you, and everything you exemplify, and every one you know, dead, dead, dead.

    Which is why web sites, arguments, political rallies, and all the rest do no good whatsoever. The only solutions are to keep them from participating in the body politic (the status quo in the entire west up until the 20th Century) and overall to wipe them out.

  • Paul Marks

    The establishment cover up for Haig has been very successful Patrick.

    I remember John Terraine and other charlatans being the main works when I was at university – and they also the main source for television documentaries (with wise Haig being quoted against the Nivelle offensive and so on – without it being mentioned that the quoted wise-words are actually examples of Haig and co “revising” their words at the time – into what they wished they had said).

    Britain “hit the jackpot” in 1918.

    Actually we did not even get back the island off the coast – let alone restore the independence of the Kingdom of Hanover or anything else. No independent Bavaria – nothing.

    Our gains in Europe were ZERO – a funny sort of “hit the jackpot”.

    “But Germany was now to be a Republic”.

    How many times do I have to explain the German academic position?

    The ideology of the German academic and political elite.

    But of course, silly me, the British position is that ideas-are-not-important.

    Actually the German Republic was worse than the monarchy – as anyone could have guessed it would be.

    The new Germany was MORE (not less) centralised than the old.

    Tax and so was all to be basically decided at the centre.

    And one of the first actions of the new regime was to abolish trial by jury.

    The British establishment seem to insist on refusing to see the point – refusing to understand that what is important is ideas (principles).

    It is starting to irritate me.

  • Paul Marks

    To give one example…..

    Patrick has stated, quite correctly, that the Germans had promised not to build up a big army again.

    You have made a treaty with people (the German academics and so on) who deny there are any such things as a universal principles of moral right and moral evil.

    And I have to explain to you how absurd the idea of making a treaty with such people is?

    Perhaps we should sign a peace treaty with the Islamists as well.

    I am sure they would be prepared to promise anything you want them to promise.

    And then cut your throat the first Moonless night.

    How can I make the British understand that ideas are important?

  • Paul Marks

    The President of France pointed out in 1914 that the Germans had really declared war upon the universal principles of reason and justice – as they denies such principles existed.

    Yet Stephen Parker was telling me yesterday how we should have made a deal with the Germans – as Lord Landsdown (the Petty family) suggested.

    Make a deal, sign a treaty, with people who deny that there is any such thing as universal principles of natural justice – moral right and moral evil.

    And people say I should keep my temper.

  • Paul Marks

    It is not just in economics that German academia denied universal principles – see the “War of Method” of the late 19th century.

    It was also in ethics – morality.

    And the Germans were the most “educated” people in the world, the ideas taught by the academics and school teachers MATTERED.

    There were a handful of Kantians and a handful of Roman Catholic natural law thinkers – and that was it.

    The rest of German academia in 1914 was Hell on Earth in terms of their principles.

    But I am just banging my head against a brick wall.

    “Look Paul – the Germans have signed a piece of paper, promising X, Y, Z”.

  • Patrick Crozier

    I am not aware of any evidence that Haig falsified the record when it came to the Nivelle Offensive or anything else.

  • Mr Ed

    I am not aware of any evidence that Haig falsified the record when it came to the Nivelle Offensive or anything else.

    Patrick, as a statement the above simply indicates that this is an area of which you have no knowledge, and it begs the question ‘Why not check the extensive research and the record?

    We know much of Haig’s character, much negative, such as the issue of his failure of a mathematics examination, which appears to have contributed to the great General Sir Redvers Buller VC, who actually saved a trooper’s life in combat in the Zulu Wars -an act that is remembered by the man’s family today by naming the male first-born of that trooper’s line ‘Redvers‘ – refused him a place at staff college. Haig reportedly concealed this failure and later sought to abolish that exam.

    So if it squirms like a sh*t, squashes like one and smells like one, I say surely check the evidence to see if it tastes like one.

  • the other rob

    @ Bruce. There was another version, around the time of Tony Blair’s first becoming Prime Minister. It went:

    The people’s flag is palest pink
    Not half as red as you might think.
    Ye working classes stand and cheer
    A Labour government is here.

    We’ll change the country, bit by bit
    So slowly you won’t notice it.
    And just to prove we’re still sincere
    We’ll sing the Red Flag once a year.

    I never did decide whether it was Blairite triumphalism or Trotskyite snark. It could be taken either way.

  • Rich Rostrom

    One cautionary note: back in the day, “wooly-headed” was an epithet for “negro”, based on the hair; a careless reader might think that was the intent here.

    As to Red clergymen: “liberation theology” certainly was not invented by Wright or Obama – it dates back to the 1960s. Britain’s problems in this area have been almost continuous: in the 1930s and ’40s, there was Hewitt Johnson, the notorious Red Dean of Canterbury.

  • Patrick Crozier

    Mr Ed,

    When it comes to the many claims made about Haig – or anything or anyone else – the onus is on those making the claims to produce the evidence.

    Was it a primary source? Was it a secondary source? Was it something picked up at school or from the media or through gossip? If it is written down was it written down at time? And who by? Was the writer a credible witness or not? Sources matter.

    For example, everybody knows that Haig supposedly said that: “two machine guns per battalion was perfectly sufficient” or some such. Only one problem: it’s not true. There’s no evidence that he ever said it.

    The need to produce evidence is especially true in Haig’s case. He has been continually condemned since the 1930s as a butcher and a buffoon. It started with the works of Lloyd George and Liddell Hart. That alone should set alarm bells ringing.

    There are rather too many people who cleave to the narrative of Haig and British army incompetence. I got fed that stuff at school and through television and through “received opinion”. But if the machine-gun quote is wrong what about the rest? We simply cannot accept what we are told and we have to demand proper evidence. When we’ve got it we may come to much the same judgement but at least we’ll know it’s true.

    So, you think he lied about Staff College? Fine. How did that idea get inside your head? Did you read a book? Yes? Great. Is it a good book? Does it have lots of references? Does it have a reference to that particular incident? Was the author looking at things with an open mind or trying to prove something? If he is trying to prove something it probably isn’t good history. What do other historians think?

    And even then that’s not an end of it. Let’s assume he lied about Staff College. So what? If it makes him an habitual liar then there should be plenty of evidence of it during the war. He oversold things from time to time, sure, but off the top of my head I can’t think of a single outright lie he told in that period. (That’s more than can be said for Lloyd George.) But let’s imagine it’s true – that he was a liar. So what? Frankly, as far as I am concerned, Haig can be the greatest bounder in history but if he’s a good Commander-in-Chief then all is forgiven.

    So, the question becomes was he a good C-in-C? To get an accurate picture of that – should you desire one – you have to ask the difficult questions: Is that alleged fact true? What would I have done in that situation? What would change my mind? I like to think I’ve been doing that for a long time. It’s not easy. You think you’ve settled on an opinion and then along come some facts and spoil it all.