If one has read the series of articles about Spain which Lazaro Teran, the foreign editor of the big Republican paper Polilica, has published in the Journal des Nations ; if one has heard Alvarez del Vayo speak in the League of Nations and heard the reports of the Spanish women when they had just arrived from Madrid, then one visualises a great unfortunate country, an unenlightened, abused population, and a neglected countryside. Spain kept down in ignorance, poverty, and dependence by the three equally mighty and equally corrupt powers: the Church, the Feudal System, and the Army.
All three had the same object, all worked to make the gulf between those who have and those who have nothing deep and impassable, so that those who have all lose nothing and those who have nothing get nothing.
There as everywhere else, the mighty Catholic Church, the proprietor of more wealth than any feudal overlord, serves the interests of the rich by teaching that the riches of the kingdom of heaven belong to the poor and that all other wisdom is superfluous. The overlords taught the peasants that the land in Spain was theirs and that the people only existed in order to cultivate it for the grandees of Spain.
"Do you know what wages a farm labourer gets ?" asks a Spanish worker. "Sixty centimes for twelve hours work. A landowner such as Medinacoeli may hold 99,000 acres in fief but he does not need to have more than half cultivated in order to be rolling in money. The rest he lets lie fallow as pastureland." The third power in Spain, the Army, which ought to have been the country's protection, was in reality its enemy. It always opposed the people. "The Army", exclaimed one of the women indignantly, "Spain has no Army in the national sense like other up-to-date countries. Spain has a military caste which has no other object than gain and no other policy than to force the State to allow itself to be exploited. And the generals ! Do you know that in Spain we have just as many generals as Germany had during the war ? After we lost our colonies they installed themselves at Court and quarrelled over privileges and increases of salary. We had 20,000 officers for 100,000 men, one officer for every five soldiers. The Army was badly equipped and organised and not in a position to defend the country. All the money went in salaries to the officers. Morocco was the only place where the Army was up-to-date." The people of Spain are now fighting against these three powers. This fact suffices to prove that the application of the political labels of a modern state to present events in Spain is mistaken and misleading. In the most primitive districts of Spain, Castile, Estremadura, and Andalusia, there are no capitalist or middle classes, only overlords and peasants ; and it is there in particular that the revolt is raging. It is only in the north, in the industrial centres, in Bilbao and Catalonia, and towards the east where the large estates are cut up and where the ways of living are more European, that one can speak of a labour movement. And when one realises that during the monarchy, the Spanish State opposed every political reform, even the formation of a modern Conservative Party, then in any case the Socialist Party in Spain cannot be very old.
Since the Hapsburgs ascended the Spanish throne the country has been continuously under foreign influence. At one time it was the Holy Alliance, at another the Pope in Rome. These reactionary powers hampered in Spain that progress in liberal and democralic directions which was made in other European countries. When the war came, the Court, the landowners, the Church, and the Army immediately ranged themselves on the side of the Central Powers. Practically the entire population was opposed to it.
Official Spain became a staff receiving commands from the Central Powers. Spain helped the German submarines in the Mediterranean and part of the Atlantic and the capitalist class in Spain made huge sums out of war industries and contraband. They all hoped that the victory of the Central Powers would insure them peace and quiet to enjoy their riches and to keep their privileges and their caste system without having to be inconvenienced by unrest among the populace.
The State would have nothing to do with reforms even if they were brought forward by the Conservatives, indeed not even if they came from on high as Antonio Maura, the Conservative, suggested. But unrest there was, both among Maura's Young Disciples and among the Lefts. Neither social nor economic problems existed for the monarchy and the reactionaries, they simply could not see the problems of Spain from a national standpoint.
Thus in 1917 Spain was sharply divided into two absolutely opposed camps. A deep and obvious rupture arose between the rulers of the country and the country itself. The political-social movement had its most active centres in Barcelona, Madrid and Asturia, but it shook the whole country. It ushered in a new age, and both the movement and the reaction against it have increased in intensity and violence during the last twenty years.
After the first rising had been quelled came the war in Morocco with its sanguinary defeat, when the generals leading the present revolt showed their incompetence and their corruption. Then came Primo de Ftivera's coup d'état, a military imitation of Mussolini's march on Rome, which was nothing but a new phase of the anti-national policy which again made Spain dependent upon one of the Great Powers of Europe. Between 1917 and 1936 progress and reaction, risings and suppressions succeeded each other. By the 14th of April 1931 the Spanish people had become strong enough to usher in the Republic but simultaneously with its proclamation the reactionaries began to prepare for the military revolt which is nowruining Spain.
Right from the very beginning Mussolini took up a hostile attitude towards the Republic. He had his own good reasons. In 1926 a secret agreement was concluded between Rome and Madrid giving Mussolini the right to use the Spanish naval bases, particularly the Balearic Isles, which could interfere with France's communication with her African colonies. King Alfonso XIII took this agreement with him into exile and it is this and the promises of the Ex-King and General Franco to renew it which in particular have procured the help of Italy for the rebels.
As far as the other Fascist countries are concerned, the German staff have from the time of the Great war had a net of agents spread over the whole country, in addition to the German Trade Associations which are now acting as centres of Nazi and military propaganda and espionage, all of Them on the best of terms with the Spanish Conservatives.
While the Spanish grandees thought of nothing but overthrowing the Republic, while the Spanish generals only thought of how they could, by means of foreign aid, get back their power, the Spanish Republicans proved to hy almost too chivalrous. They did not use the period of transition from one system to another to rid the State of all parasites and obvious opposers of the democratic system, and as happened to the social-democratic Government in Austria so to the Spanish Republic: their chivalry brought its own punishment.
The three most important tasks for the new republican Government were a reform of the army, a land reform and a reform of the church.
Se or Azana, the Premier, began by reducing the number of officers. He went so far in his considerateness that he allowed those officers who did not sympathise with the new constitution or who wished to retire, to enter the Reserves on nine-tenths of their previous wages. Eight thousand availed themselves of this, the rest took the oath of allegiance to the constitution. Those who went over to the Reserve immediately formed the setting for the Fascist and popular clerical organisations of the extreme right. The others who had taken the oath joined the conspiracy.
Agriculture in Spain rested in most places upon a pre-capitalist basis of feudal exploitation and dependence. Now the State demanded part of the large estates. It demanded assurance that the soil would be cultivated and it fixed a minimum wage for farm labourers. But it was impossible to agree as to the price of the land. The State offered the owners the value which they themselves had given to the Inland Revenue authorities. If the owners demanded a higher price then naturally they must make good to the State the amount of which they had defrauded the revenue for years by undervaluation.
But the big landowners refused both. In addition the State called for the institution of a 4 % income tax, Finally as to the reform of the church, this was the same as has been instituted in the majority of European countries. The property of the Church was nationalised, and 80,000 monks and nuns lost the right to teach, but there was no question of any expulsion either of the Jesuits or of other congregations. No hindrance was put in the way of the Jesuits either in regard to religious services or religious educational activities. Only as a Society was the Order dissolved. But the worst stumblingblock was the decision that the congregations must themselves pay their priests and defray expenses at the service.
These were the reforms which the so-called "red" Government wished to carry out. It was against these reforms that the officers, the church, and the overlords ceaselessly conspired. It was in order to prevent these reforms that the three ruling castes with the help of the Fascist governments started civil war in their country.
The first move against the Republic was Alcala Zamora's resignation with Lerroux's radicals from the Republican-Socialist Government. Article 26 of the Constitution, dealing with those outside the Church, was used as their pretext, but it had been formulated by the Papal Nuncio in Madrid himself and so could scnrcely have been more moderate.
After that a reactionary block of generals, bishops, over-lords, and Lerroux's radicals was formed. As their leader they chose Juan March who was a millionaire, a banker, and a smuggler. It was of him that the late Senor Garner, the Minister of Finance, said in the Chamber: "Either March will beat the Republic, or the Republic will beat March." During the first two years of the Republic he confined himself to leading the conspiracy from abroad.
On August 10th, 1932, the Gonvernment discovered that a military coup financed by the landowners was in course of preparation in order to prevent the land reform. All the officers denied that it was a conspiray against the Republic and as far as the majority were concerned proofs were lacking. On this occasion also the Republic was forbearing. The death sentence on the leader, Sanjurjo, was altered to lifelong imprisonment and they were content to dismiss the generals when they had given their word of honour never again to take part in military or political movements. Shortly after, when Sanjurjo's adjutant published a book in which no secret was made of the objects of the conspiracy, it was seen that chivalry and trust had again been carried too far.
March was still abroad and from there he financed his party and its paper during the election campaign in 1933. All forces were mobilised.
Alcala Zamora, now President of the Republic, refused to give his confidence to the Premier, Azana. Strange alliances were entered into. Radical- clericals and extremists who even had common cause with the anarchists, joined together ; and when the left split their votes at the election, the Conservatives won.
They did not suffer from too much chivalry.
An amnesty was immediately issued to Sanjurjo and all who had been condemned for military and reactionary revolts. They immediately replaced all Republican officers with their own people. They made no new laws. They confined themselves to destroying all the work of reform which the Republicans had carried out. The land reform was the only one the Conservatives had to sign. But the landowners were unyielding and the law regarding the minimum wage was repealed and distress grew. In Andalusia the population had not even bread for four months. People died of starvation.
The Conservativc Government was incapable in the face of the grandees of Spain as the Left had been. Even Gil Robles, the leader of the clericals, demanded that the rich people should agree to a 4 % Income Tax but they refused.
After the election March returned to Spain. He came, as Lazaro Teran writes: "In order to get the Government under his thumb and start his fleet of smugglers smuggling tobacco between Africa and Spain." And every possible manueuvre was now set going to overthrow the Republic. Gil Robles and Lerroux caused a ministerial crisis whereby the anti-republicans got into several of the ministerial orifices, among them Salazar Alomso who became Minister of the Interior.
It was he who was designated as the instigator of the October rising in 1934. It was and it remained a blunder on the part of the Socialist Party and its leader, Largo Caballero, but it was provoked by the Government, as Alfonso himself admitted. Asturias, the only place where the rising had caught on, suffered terribly. There already the reactionaries had the Moors and the scum of huntaitity, the Foreign Legion, to help them and it was General Franco who led the massacres. Three thousand people were killed with the most atrocious cruelities. The Spanish press was gagged, the foreign press was silent.
General Franco had kept himself in the background during the first attempt at a coup d'état after the inauguration of the Republic, but after the election of 1933 Gil Robles, Lerroux, and March joined him in the plot.
It was then when General Franco had command of the Balearic Isles that the so-called "national" officers who were under Franco, supplied Ordinance Survey maps of the islands, of the fortifications, information regarding the calibre of the guns, military strengh, and defence plans, to the agents of Italian Fascism. None of them were ignorant of the strategic importance of the islands for Spain in a future war.
It was no secret. Both the President of the Republic, Alcala Zamora, and Gil Robles, both the Minister of War and the Director of Police knew about it.
The clerical-radical Government sat for about two years. It succeeded in reviving the good old days when the State paid the priests, when the overlords were sole masters of the land and when the farm labourers had 60 centimes daily in wages. The only constructive thing they did was to reinstate the 8,000 officers and nominate still more.
The international plot was carefully planned. After Gil Robles had visited ex-King Alfonso in France and the latter had been in Rome, Austria, and Germany, a meeting took place in Lisbon where the Archbishop presided and the Government of Portugal took up its place in the international Fascist organisation against the Spanish Republic. It was Gil Robles and the clericals who had the power at that time in Madrid.
The meeting in Lisbon took place before the election. The revolt should really have broken out immediately after, but Gil Robles hoped right up to the last day for a victory at the election. Not until it had proved a victory for the Left exceeding even the most optimistic hopes of Republicans and Socialists was a military coup d'état decided upon.
Spain is the second victim of the Fascist weapons. Ethiopia was the first step in the Fascists Mediterranean plans. Spain is the second. In Spain too it was an unequal fight. The country's army and weapons were in the hands of the Fascists. Five years ago they had already begun their preparations. Under the pretext of manoeuvres they built fortifications, dug trenches, established depots for ammunition which they are using today against the people of the country and the constitutionally elected government of the country.
Against them is an army of Spaniards of all classes, an army in overalls with guns which many do not even know how to handle. An army consisting exclusively of volunteers, of soldiers without uniforms, without training, and often without ammunition. Betrayed by the officers who were paid to defend them and who now with foreign aid are killing and maiming them.
So the statesmen of the Great Powers have again managed to save peace. Ever since they have had a League of Nations which was to introduce court settlement in place of war, they have done nothing but Save peace at the cost of justice. Every time there has been a war they have Sacrificed justice in order to preserve peace, the peacc of the Great Powers, not that of the League of Nations which was peace from attack, war, and Conquest for all its members in accordance with the Pact.
Justice need not have been Sacrificed for that peace, it rests on the foundations of justice. It is a collective peace which includes all, it is the abolition of war. But that peace for which justice is now sacrificed is the Great Powers peace. It is preserved by allowing the one mighty robber after another to attack and Conquer a weaker Country, by allowing the one modern well-equipped war power after another to roll a defenceless unprepared population down with tanks, exterminate them with machine guns, and burn them with poison gas, and allowing the robber to make off unaflected with his booty.
This localized war is the peace to which the Small states may look forward, the Great Powers peace, the Gangster peace.
This was the peace that was saved in 1931/32 when Japan began her war of Conquest against China and the League of Nations limited itself to refusing to recognise Manchoukuo ; and it was in order Lo preserve this Same peace that it allowed Mussolini to fall upon Ethiopia and adopted thc so- called neutrality as regards the revolt in Spain.
The same question has arisen in both the recent Conflicts. What is a state ? What is a government ? When does a state cease to be a state, and a government to be a government ?
Mussolini declares he has conquered Ethiopia and King Victor-Emanuel has been appointed its Emperor, but about half the Country is unconquered.
Never mind, says Mussolini, a State without a government is no State. The Ncgus has fled and the Government at Gore is no government.
History has something different to say. During the Great War the Belgian Government for example sat in Havre and the Germans occupied almost the whole country. There was no one however, not even Germany, who dared to say then that Belgium was wiped off the map of Europe and Wilhelm II also Kaiser of Belgium.
When in 1914/15 Serbia was crushed, its army hunted out of the country, its population decimated and suppressed, no one thought of declaring that Serbia as a state no longer existed.
That which could not be conceived in I9I4/18 when the world still had no League of Nations is thus introduced by the very League of Nations itself that had undertaken to replace war with arbitration. For the third time it has allowed war to rage between two of its members instead of unanimously and collectively preventing it. And so now it not only in official defiance of the Pact recognises the rights of the conquerors but also a right to conquer which is going even further nowadays than before the Great War and the League of Nations.
Baldwin, the conservative Prime Minister of England, and Leon Blum, the social democratic leader of France, were both in agreement about getting the matter disposed of as quickly as possible. Far more important than the prestige of the League of Nations, than the maintenance of the Pact (in any case on paper), not to mention the right of a weaker state to exist, was it for the two Great Powers to secure the presence of the conqueror, Mussolini, at the next Locarno meeting.
Avenol, the General Secretary of the League of Nations, was told in Rome by Mussolini that his Italians could not stand the sight of the Ethiopian delegation. Since Mussolini did not recognise its existence and the Italians knew that Mussolini was always right it might easily affect them like the spirit of Banco. Avenol promised to do what he could in association with England and France and had great hopes.
But he was disappointed. The small and lesser countries thinking of their own skins, got the Ethiopians into their seats. The League of Nations had, as the Journal des Nations wrote, again won a victory. But when the reasons of the Credentials Commission came to light, all the glamour departed from the victory. It did not sound as if the League of Nations which" had pledged itself to respect and maintain against all outside attack, the territorial integrity and political independence of all its members ", could admit that the one member consumed the other, so of course the Ethiopian delegation had the right to take its place in the Council like the other members. But no, a paragraph concerning "doubtful cases" was found. By the help of this paragraph the Great Powers pacified the small states by slipping the Ethiopians into their seats, and pacified Mussolini by intimating that the momentous doubt might well be gone the next time. In order to emphasise England's favour towards Mussolini, the English Consul shortly afterwards escorted the Government in Gore to Uganda. So the Ethiopian Government was non-existent and the Ethiopian state might now be sacrificed on the altars of the Gangster Peace.
The settlement meant the recognition by the League of Nations of the right of the conqueror. What was open to doubt was not at all the right of Italy to consume Ethiopia, but Italy's assertion that Ethiopia had indeed been thoroughly and completely consumed. Had this been the case, there would have been no doubt. Ethiopia, member of the League of Nations, would immediately have been struck off the roll. Now the matter has been postponed one year out of respect not for Ethiopia but for the small states.
A new colony has been founded according to the best imperial pattern and for the first time with the recognition of the League of Nations. Yet another nation with its cities, industries, traditions, and laws that from now onwards must work for another people that by the power of arms forces it to do so. The Emperor of Ethiopia could raise no loan with which to buy weapons or reform and modernise the country. Mussolini can, to his own advantage and that of the foreign capitalists, and on this loan the people of Ethiopia must pay interest to benefit the foreigners. Yet another cause for dissatisfaction, revolt, murder, and war has been created.
And the way has been opened through the League of Nations itself for the attack of the stronger upon the weaker.
Events in Spain presented the Great Powers with a new problem. It was not a war between two countries, it was a revolt against a constitutionally elected government and the question was what attitude the other countries ought to adopt in the circumstances. The Great Powers chose neutrality.
Again it was the Gangster Peace they saved.
For there is no such thing as neutrality where a revolt is concerned.
Neutrality presupposes two or more belligerent powers. But neutrality is putting the rebels and the government on a par. That is a breach of two of the main principles of international law (see page 18).
No one denies that the Madrid Government is legitimate. The French Minister of Foreign Affairs, M. Delbos, who brought forward the proposal of non-intervention, affirmed this in the Chamber of Deputies: "No one can call in question the legitimacy of the Spanish Government . . . We were within our rights in supplying them with arms. When we did not so ", added the French minister, "then it was in order not to give an excuse to those who might be tempted to supply the rebels." In order to prevent the fascist governments breaking international law and supporting the rebels by supplying them with arms, the democratic governments therefore agreed themselves to break international law and to support the rebels by refusing to sell arms to the Government.
If this is what statesmen call jurisprudence, then it is tantamount to what other people call "confusion of ideas".
Thus week after week passed. The democratic governments negotiated with the fascist governments while the latter supplied the rebels with what they needed in the way of arms and aeroplanes, and transported troops from Morocco to Spain for them. If indeed the democratic governments did not do the same as the fascists and help the rebels across Portugal.
The idea of neutrality originated in England. The reactionaries and the rich bourgeoisie have only one real enemy, but on the other hand it haunts them everywhere. It is Communism. For them Hitler represents only one thing, the bulwark against the Soviet. The English Conservative Government was not keen on the Socialist Leon Blum and his "Front Populaire" either. Delbos' utterance shows that neutrality was forced upon France by England: "Had France given the least cause for dispute . . . a certain friendly disposed power would have left France certainly in the lurch." There are examples of how this manner of breaking international law has been dealt with previously. During the war between the North and the South in America when the Southern States wanted to break away, England was on their side and they got a warship rigged out in an English harbour: but it brought its own punishment. In 1871 Great Britain was condemned by the Court of Arbitration to pay the United States fifteen and a half million dollars compensation although the Southern States were recognised as belligerents.
Who should codemn Hitler and Mussolini to pay compensation to the Spanish Government ? There is no one who respects the rights of the weaker.
They all fight together like sharks round a prey which no court would award them. That is why they are in the race for armaments.
Now as hitherto the desire of the various states to expand is perfectly licentious. In the fight between countries only one thing counts, moneyed interests. But there are two kinds of moneyed interests: that of the banks and other private capitalists and that of the imperial interests of the state ; and they do not always go together.
Private capitalism demanded that its large investments in Spain, for cxamplc, should bc protected against everything approaching Socialism or Communism. It took the side of the rebels who represented the power of money against the exploited the church against enlightenment, the existing state of things as opposed to progress. The imperial interests of the capitalist state tend to protect the national capital by keeping competitors at bay, by insuring markets for the products of the country and keeping the doors open which give access to her raw materials. Just like private capitalism, it sees its enemy in Socialism and Communism and consequently on this point sympathises with the rebels. But on the other hand it cannot avoid seeing dangerous and regardless competitors in the onward niarching fascist dictators. The capital state has therefore conflicting interests to defend and so her policy becomes inconclusive and vacillating.
And so Fascism fares better than Democracy. Dictatorship is. better fitted for modern times and modern warfare. The dictator has forced private capitalist interests down under those of the state. The autocratic ruler has by his economic planning abrogated the conflict that is weakening the democratic capitalist countries. Therefore Fascism will spread and nothing can stop it.
An ethical union between the democratic countries is pure romance, nor is it any more likely between the fascist countries. This applies to all countries. When their interests run parallel they cooperate, when they run counter they part, whether they be fascist, democratic, or bolshevist. That is the consequence of the competition, the frontiers and the hysterical nationalism of today. Duly see how democratic France threw the Pact and its collective security overboard and Ethiopia into Mussolini's arms, in order to secure Italy's help against Germany.
The indignation of the democratic governments against Fascism is only fancy dress. Look at their statesmen. Listen Lu what they say at home and at Geneva. Not one honourable word. Sheer camouflage and swindle in order to go on with their gangster policy under cover of the League of Nations.
All of them have trampled the population and the civilisation of whole continents under their imperialist boots. Kicks for everything such as human rights and human dignity that stood in their way. And thus are they doing still in all their colonies, as well as any Fascist.
People as yet do not understand that it is their own interests that law instead of force be inaugurated in the human common-wealth. They fight fascists in other countries, not seeing that Fascism is nothing but the logical outcome of the principle of violence which is also the foundation of the power of their own country. They will have to realise it.
More and more governments will have their eyes opened to the practicability of fascist methods. The more Fascism, the fewer debates, the greater fighting power. The majority of European countries are fascist dictatorships and possibly even the proud English who "never, never, never shall be slafes" will have the experience of being made slaves of Fascism in their own country as the ultimate consequence of their own policy of might and power.
For out of gangster morality arises gangster war and ganster peace.
The League of Nations has moved into its magnificent new palace. Its objects are the same as in the old one. It is there to get the Covenant respected and to intervene when it is broken. When insteed of attending to that the members of the League of Nations resolve not to intervene, the League of Nations in reality has no members, or the members no League of Nations. And the magnificent palace might not have been built.
Non-Intervention began in China, where total-war was waged for the first time after the world had got its League of Nations. The Japanese shells and gas-bombs fell over towns crammed with people. They fell on schools, hospitals, and homes for the homeless. The representatives of the financial interests of the Great Powers who have seats on the League of Nations could not see there was anything to gain by interfering. They let the bombs fall, the towns burn and the Chinese perish.
It was not called Non-Intervention, but that is what it was. For the members of the League of Nations did not know there was a war one. They had simply noticed that in two countries in the far East there had been a sudden demand for war material, a demand which they conscientiously fulltilled.
When the Manchukuo Empire was an established fact they therefore refused to recognize it both de jure and de facto.
Actually it was only de jure. They were obliged to recognize it de facto. If they wanted their capital and their commodities placed in the enormous country that was to be exploited capitalistically, or civilized, whatever may be the term chosen, they naturally had to negotiate with Japan who had captured it and not with China who had lost it, or with the "independent" Emperor of Manchukuo.
The next occasion on which the League of Nations experienced the total- war was in Ethiopia. Then it was sometimes non-intervention in favour of the aggressor, sometimes intervention in favour of England. Both were sometimes purely imperialistic without the cooperation of the League of Nations, sometimes imperialistic in conjunction with it.
It began with the agreement at Stresa between the three Great Powers on conditional non-intervention -i.e. an open breach of the Covenant of the League of Nations, where two of its members agree that a third may unimpededly attack a fourth. In order to ensure that the conditions were observed Great Britain sent her fleet into the Mediterranean as a private imperialistic threat of intervention.
As this did not frighten Mussolini, Great Britain walked into the League of Nations again and started sanctions against Italy. They were worthless, for they were not carried through. And even if they had been, they would not have been in Ethiopia's favour, but in England's. They had nothing to do with Ethiopia's right as a member of the League of Nations to exist as an independent country.
While England was intervening together with the League of Nations in her own favour, France intervened in Italy's favour, against whom the sanctions were aimed. While the aggressor, Mussolini, supplied himself with everything he needed, the French at Djibuti held everything back that should have gone to the Negus by the French railway. When at the close of April 259 tons of poison gas had gone through thee Suez Canal, the Committee of Thirteen (the League of Nations without Italy's delegate) asked the International Red Cross to send in a report on the action of the gas. But the president, the Swiss professor Max Huber, refused. It turned out later that the professor was also president of a large concern which receives its raw materials from Italy and which has invested almost 34 millions, more than half of its foreign capital investments, in Italy.
During the League sanctions, which apparently were directed against Italy as the aggressor against Ethiopia, came the Laval-Hoare proposal which divided up Ethiopia in favour of the Great Powers. Laval fell, and Hoare iell, and, accompanied by the expectant cheers of the crowd, Mr. Eden came along in his swan-boat on the wave of popular indignation to fight for the League of Nations, the Covenant, collectivity and wronged Ethiopia.
The fight ended in defeat of everything Mr. Eden was to save ; the sanctions collapsed of themselves. Ethiopia was erased from the map and handed over as a colony to the murderous pacification of the Italian Empire.
But the storm of indignation had died down and in calm water Mr. Eden was able to sail back to his island home. Hoare was rehabilitated and was given another portefolio, and the honour of Laval was saved.
Everything was well, except that in Geneva Avenol, the secretary- General of the League of Nations, stood gazing with yearning eyes in the direction of the land with the blue sky, where the oranges glow and where the laurels grow. And as the expected did not come, M. Avenol himself set out. He longed to know what Mussolini demanded for returning to the League of Nations whose member, Ethiopia, he had just extinguished and whose representative was Secretary-General Avenol.
In this murder of one of its members the League of nations went a little farther in its indulgence towards the murderer than in the China- Japon war. It acknowledged Italy's conquest de facto, but not de jure. This nuance means that although Ethiopia is effaced from the map of the world, it is still a member of the League. As far as Ethiopia is concerned the only effect will probably be that the Negus goes to London to be present at the coronation ceremony instead of Mussolini's son-in-law Count Ciano.
The total-war comes near and nearer. It is now so near that most countries in Europe are taking part in it in one way or another. From China via Ethiopia it has reached Spain.
The League of Nations regards the war in Spain as not being its concern. This time Non-Intervention has been delegated to a committee sitting in London. In that committee where of course the two democratic Powers England and France, have most to say, this non-intervention in favour of the aggressor has reached his culmination.
The Non-Intervention agreed at Neuchâtel in 1900 with regard to a country in a state of revolt, consisted of two points. I. No one may prevent the lawful government from procuring what it required in order to quell the revolt, and II. no one may supply the rebels with war material or money or permit them to use the territory of a foreign state as a basis of military expeditions against the government.
Thus in its very substance the Non-Intervention of Great Powers as regards the Spanish Government was in opposition to the first point and very quickly, it came into opposition to the second point. The Fascist countries breach of international law, however, was even more rapid. It came not merely before Non-Intervention, but before the revolt itself. The revolt started on the 18th of July. On the lsth of July, three Italian military pilots had received their marching orders. When they made a forced landing on French territory on the way to Spanish Marocco, the French High Commissioner found this document.
At the beginning the war in Spain was regarded as a civil war. As there is no article in the Covenant to determine the League's attitude in a civil war, the Non-Intervention agreement for the present was not in conflict with the Covenant. But when in August the Italians sent army planes to Spain, occupied Malorca and formed a military aircraft base on the island, Spain's foreign minister del Vayo appealed to the assembly in September. He pointed out the great danger to peace if it should become the custom for a country to begin by provoking a rebellion in another country and then supporting it with military forces without admitting it, without any declaration of war or in any other way. The assembly demanded proofs. They were already available in the Non-Intervention committee in London. Del Vayo also mentioned the thousands who had become victims of the fascistic aeroplanes and the foreign war material which was illegally being sent into Spain.
Now it was evident that Non-Intervention was in conflict with the Covenant. In the face of a military attack on one of its members the League of Nations has no right to declare itself passive. But the Assembly did not move.
At the beginning of December Mussolini sent to Spain as many troops and as much material as he considercd sufficient for Franco to win the war with.
On the II th of December, del Vayo demanded the summoning of the Council.
Now it was Madrid that was at stalke. Were further proofs required ?
Was it not German and Italian airmen who with their bombs were murdering and burning in the capital of Spain ? Did not Franco's soldiers call the Fascisti the "blond Maroccans"? If the League continued with its peace policy, del Vayo foresaw a pacified Europe in which all problems were settled by means of international fascism. But the effects of del Vayo's appeal were the same in the Council as it had been in the Assembly.
On December 22nd the Committee raised the question of the stoppage of volunteers to Spain. Presumably the term "volunteers" included the Italian regular troops, though many of them believed they were on their way to Ethiopia when they sailed for Spain. Under any circumstance the result would be in the aggressor's favour, as at that time there were almost ten times as many fascistic troops with Franco as there were foreign volunteers with the Government. On the same day Italy demonstrated her good will by landing 6,500 soldiers in Spain. The day before the Anglo-Italian gentleman's agreemcnt 4,000 more had arrived.
On the 7th of January Mussolini signified his adherence to the stoppage of volunteers. Nevertheless he would have preferred that all non-Spanish eombattants should be withdrawn from Spain. What he meant by that is scarcely worth while pondering over. Ten days later another 10,000 men arrived from his country to Spain. On the 25th January he repeated his adherence, and during the next few days the number of Italian troops in Spain was brought up to 70,000.
As the Manchester Guardian says, the Italian diplomats know what they are talking about. For once the British diplomats did not know so well. On March 6th, Lord Cranborne stated in the Commons that the prohibition had come into force on the 20th of February at midnight. Next day came a telegram from The Times own correspondent in Gibraltar that on March 6th a steamer had arrived at Cadiz and had disembarked large Italian forces. And as a matter of fact on February 28th, Mussolini had already shown how much his word was worth. Then the first 10,000 arrived after the prohibition had been signed by the Powers. And they were not the last.
On March 6th, the doors were definitively closed. The warships of the four Powers were now to patrol the coasts of Spain, and international troops the Franco-Spanish frontier. Russia and Portugal wished to be -left out of it, and they were. The two fascistic dictators who had shown greater contempt for everything in the form of pacts and agreement than the others (they break them while they give their word and put their names to them) these two allies were chosen to enforce an agreement on a coast where their warships and airmen a short time before had bombarded Malaga and their troops had occupied it.
Then came the defeat. During a violent offensive by the Governmental troops the end came in an almost panicky fligth of the rebels not far from Guadalajara, with large numbers of prisoners, soldiers and o%cers, all Italian. Additional evidence of Italy's part in the war appeared. Mr. Eden in fact already had a whole museum full. Reports came from delegates correspondents, professors, British and French members of parliament. From Mme. Brown photographs of German Junkers machines, from Lord Hastings copies of papers found on fallen foreign airmen, unexploded incendiary bombs, name- plates of aeroplanes, Italian parachutes, etc. Then came General Mancioni's congratulations orders and documents from the Italian prisoners.
Mr. Eden was asked questions in the Commons. He did not know yet if it was true that there were Italian soldiers and offcers in Spain. He wanted conformation of the evidence and would make enquiries in the Non- Intervention Committee. But now events became too thick. They rushed past Mr. Eden and left him to continue his conjuring in which nobody believed.
Mussnlini hastened back to Rome - owing to a sand storm in Lybia - and Signor Grandi declared in the Non-Intervention Committee in London "that not a single Italian volunteer would leave Spain till the civil war was over ".
That was plain enough speaking. It meant War, and not Non-Intervention.
And with that one would have expected the whole miserable comedy to come to an end. But no. In the Manchester Guardian Weekly on 25th March Noel Baker in all seriousness explained how the patrolling Fascists not only can evade the control in six infallible ways, but how they can also make it impossible for the Spanish Government to evade control. Lloyd George in the Commons asked what the Government would do if it were true that Mussolini was going to send two fresh divisions to Spain. And Mr. Eden's deputy, Lord Cranbourne, was not realy fortunate this time either when he averred that" he had no reason whatever for believing that Mussolini intended to do anything of the kind ". As regards the prohibition of volunteers, he insisted that it was being observed.
So the comedy went on.
There remains the question of what is behind this policy. Why did the democratic countries apply immediate sanctions against the constitutional democratic government of Spain ? Why France refuse to sell the Government aeroplanes ? Why did Great Britain refuse the Government's ships oil at Gibraltar ? Why were the Government's ships prohibited already on the 9th of August from calling at Tanger ? Why is this so-called Non-Intervention Policy maintained in the face of the incessant breaches of it by the Fascisti ?
Has the Spanish conflict - like the Ethio-Italian - its Stresa, where the Powers made their agreements ?
What is it that is happening in Spain ? Is it civil war, class war, or international war ? Or is it all three ? Who is doing the fighting in Spain, and what are they fighting for ?
On one side there is a Spanish general together with the army, the landowners and the ecclesiastics, and whoever they could get to join them.
These however could not have been many. He had the army, but there were not troops enough just the same. He brought the Moroccans over from Africa, and that was not enough either. He is constantly calling for troops. He get them too, but not from Spain.
On the other side is the lawful Government of Spain. They are not short of men. They do not need to call for troops. More enlist than they need. It is the military that is lacking, trained soldiers who have learned to use arms, officers who know how to lead attacks without wasting human life.
Thus this appears to be a civil war, with Spaniards on both sides of the front. That is that. It is to some extent a continuation of the struggle against the Catholic Church and the Christian monarchy which the Spanish Liberals have fought since the French Revolution. Only in 1812 did the country get a constitution that abolished the Inquisition and deprived the Church of its power. But that lasted only a few months ; Ferdinand the Seventh allied himself with the Church and put an end to the constitution.
The inquisition was brought in again, and the Liberals were murdered in its torture chambers. In 1820 the country revolted. The constitution was reestablished, Schools were build, and Ferdinand had only one desire: "To be the greatest servant of his beloved people ". But while the Liberals were building schools, Ferdinand and the Church joined the Holy Alliance, and 60,000 foreign soldiers marched into Spain. On that occasion they were French. Schools and books were burned, and the inquisition began again. That was the struggle in Spain for centuries. That is what it is tn this day.
After the French Revolution, Spain had 134,000 priests, 46,000 monks and 32,000 nuns. As to the wealth nf the Spanish Church, the same standard may undoubtedl hey applied as that with which the former Italian finance minister Nitti measured the wealth of the Vatican: "It is at any rate so great that it is incomprehensible what the Catholic Church wants with the two milliard lira it received under the Concordate with Mussolini." The Pope's concordates with the Fascistic dictators mean that the richest institution in the country no longer allies itself with the Monarchy, which is no longer a power in the land. As ever, it sees its advantage in adhering to the strongest movement of the day, to the economic and military imperialism in its most powerful form. And that is Fascism. But it is nothing else, no matter how beautifully it is dressed up.
Behind the military Fascism in Italy and Germany is the economic Fascism. And behind the non-intervention of the democratic countries stand the capitalistic interests. For never does revolution break out in any country, and never is war waged, unless capitalistic interests are involved.
We need merely take oil as an example. During the whole of this century thousands of people have been goaded into war and rebellion by the oil interests. No raw material has caused so much fighting as oil. This is partly due to the fact that inventions have made it indispensable in every country. But that matters assumed the character they did was first and foremost due to the man who started the fight with an insatiable passion for money and power. Whoever has read Ida Tarbell's extensive book: "The Hislory of the Slandard Oil Co." will know who turned the oil industry into an oil war. It was said, that Rockefeller offered her a solid sum for not publishing it.
As is evidenced by the Standard Oil's gigantic activities there was room in the oil industry for a whole lot of concerns which, under normal development and commercial competition, would have given both ample interest on capital and reasonable prices to consumers. But from the very first John D. Rockefeller regarded the oil industry as his private property, whereby it was his right to destroy any existing or new competitor. Rockefeller demanded the monopoly, monopoly profit and monopoly power.
Whereas all the oil-industry people had agreed that the means of transportation in their country were to be accessible to all, and on equal terms, Rockefeller had hardly got in when by bribes and tricks he secured such big discounts and built up such a ramified system of espionage that he was able to beat them all. In her last chapter, Conclusions, Ida Tarbell says: "There is no gaming table in the world where loaded dice are tolerated, no athletic field whcre men must not start fair. Yet Mr.
Rockefeller has systematically played with loaded dice, and it is doubtful if there has ever been a time since 1872 when he has run a race with a competitor and started fair." It was only when Rockefeller got a competitor who matched him, the Dutchman Sir Henry Deterding, chief of the Royal Dutch-Shell Co., that the oil war began in earnest outside the U-S-A- Deterding had realized from the first that future power in the oil industry rested on possession of the oil fields, as Rockefeller had seen it in the means of conveyance. And now, wherever there was oil, these two equally ruthless, equally ambitious men collided. And not only there. It was not the crude oil alone they fought for, but the means of conveyance, the refineries and the markets. They made the whole world their battleground. For the entire world needs the commodity that drives the modern motor. The oil concerns became belligerent powers.
But they did not have the battle to themselves.
The other belligerent powers gradually discovered that to make war they must have oil, and that to get oil they must go to war. And in 1913 Winston Churchill succeeded in making the British Admiralty principal shareholder in the Anglo Persian oil Co. which collaborated with Shell-Deterding. Thus the British Government became Standard oil's competitor, which greatly increased the tension between Great Britain and the United States.
The strategical measures in the fight for oil are the same for the Great Powers as for the oil companies. And for the populations who are fortunate enough to have oil in their country, the result is alsu the same.
Professor Delaissi describes how the two companies fought for the oil in Mexico: "As soon as the Government took sides with the one or the other party, there was a revolt. The twu armies marched on Tampico, where the oil fields are, one equipped with British weapons, the other with American." The side that wins puts in its own President, the other overthrows him and establisties its President. After every civil war of that kind the country's dependence on foreign capital has grown, the debt has become more oppressive and the people poorer.
Among all the 18 or 20 bloody conflicts caused by oil in various parts of the world, there is one somewhat similar to the situation in Spain. This was the White-Russian counter-revolution in 1917.
Under Czarism, Royal Dutch Shell held the major part of the Russian oil fields. But when the ancient regime in Russia was overthrown and the socialistic-revolution established, the State sequestrated the country's oil fields. Deterding was left with enormous load of shares that suddenly had become valueless, and at once started a violent campaign. Even in 1917 it was he who mostly financed the White-Russians during the counter-revolution.
But the armies were international, as now in Spain. While it lasted, Russian oil shares went up and down on the European Bourse
s in keeping with the victories and defeats of the Whites. In 1919 he tried to incite some of the tribes against one another, but failed. All his efforts were useless, but at last in 1923 he succeeded in starting a revolt in the Caucasus, but it was beaten down by the Soviet troops.
Spain has no oil, but she has refineries, and she has to buy her crude oil. Standard Oil and Shell-Deterding had the transport, the refineries and the Spanish market. But when the Nationalist, Primo de Rivera, came into power, he did exactly the same with the refineries, petrol tanks and stations in Spain in 1927, that the Bolsheviks had done with the oil fields in Russia in 1917: he let the State seize them. He offered the companies 75,000,000 pesetas. They demanded 300 millions and took vengeance by laying Spain "dry" of oil and by boycotting Spanish fruit in America and England, so that Spanish pesetas tumbled down.
In an article in "Neues Wiener Journal" on the part which oil is playing in the war in Spain, is said: "In all those parts of Spain where the nationalist government holds the power, Royal Dutch Shell has the monopoly on the petroleum and petrol trade. If the nationalists win - which Sir Henry Deterding doubts no more than General Franco - that monopoly will be expanded to all Spain." Thus Sir Henry's interest in Franco's victory and his collaboration with the smuggler-millionaire Juan March, have their natural explanation.
England and France also have capital invested in Spain. The rich copper-mine Rio Tinto for instance is quoted as well at th stock-exchange of London as of Paris, and the stock rises and falls according to the warluck in Spain, just as happened with the Russian oil-fields, while Soviet and the Zaristic troops were fighting for power. It was quoted £18 in October 1936, in February it rose to £32 and is now again down to £24 after Guadalajara.
Another fact shows still better whom the capitalistic power of the two great democracies is supporting. The money of the fascist rebels is quoted twice as high as that of the legal government, although Franco's money is not backed by gold and although his government has been recognized only by the two fascistic dictatorships and by Portugal. In the bloody game, that is going on in Spain the capitalistic power of England and France as well as Mussolini and Hitler have placed their stakes on Franco. The capitalistic interest has enforced its policy in spite of international right in spite uf all reasonabilities and in spite of the harm it does to the interests of the Empire.
Other capitalistic interests, however, are also represented in that devastated country. Even in April 1935 the large German metal company had formed a banking and industrial group to exploit Spain's mines. The group was joined by the mighty armament-industrial trust, Rheinische Metalwerke Dosseldorf, Siemens and Halske, the war-works Vulkan and Krupp in Essen, and the German I.G. Farbenindustrie.
The enterprise was a comprehensive one, and the German group decided to allow Italian industry to come in, Rockefeller's representative in Italy took the scheme to Rome, and the Italian industrial society got the capital from - the insurance companies. Twelve of the group's confidential reports of the various Spanish mines, with analyses of their contents and value were published in Le Travail on December 26th, 1936.
One of them contains asphalt, coal and probably oil, Another contains lignite, which I-G- Farbenindustrie uses for its liquid coal to replace oil and make Germany independent of the oil of others in case of war. The other mines contain iron, copper, graphite, nickel, tif, etc. SoIne aI.e mentioned as being very rich. Report Nr. II refers to a gold mine, for which the assay shows that a new German method of extraction can get I16 gr. of gold out of every ton. The gold mines of the Transvaal do not yield more than 10 gr. for every ton of ore.
The preparations were finished, the plan ready, the capital at hand.
The group was convinced that the 1936 elections would see Gil Rubles victorious, so that the concessions could be issued. When it turned out that the Republicans had got in, everything came to a standstill for the time being. The Italo-German group would apply for no concession from a Republican government. It waited patiently from February till July, when General Franco let his Moroccans loose on the Spanish population, supported by German and Italian war material and troops.
Thus capitalistic interests run like a red thread through wars, rebellions and revolutions. The forces that have met on Spanish soil are the same that meet everywhere. The struggle that is being fought out is the standing struggle all over the world. It is the Church and capitalistic interests in Spain that are rebelling against the right of the people to benefit themselves from the country's wealth, both above and under the oil.
It is immaterial what name we give this unprecedented slaughter which is now decimating the Spanish nation. As Professor Delaissi says: "There is no reason for distinguishing between the economic rivalries and the military wars. They have the same aim, the same motive, the same tactics and the same result." Wondering why populations always consent to be driven into wars which are getting more and more devilish, one must remember how ignorant and easily led man still is, and how practically all means of propaganda are in the hands of the capitalistic powers: schools, universities, press, radio, theatres and cinemas. Besides all this the greediness for money and power that makes of a Rockefeller and a Deterding brutal criminals is to be found on a smaller scale in most human beings The masses do not march for the sake of oil for others, but in order to march they must be made to believe that in some way or other they march for oil for themselves. In our days this is called "the nation". Love of country has been forged into a weapon in the hands of the capilatislic power, that knows neither patriotism nor its caricature, nationalism.
The defeat at Guadalajara in Spain shows the effect of what must happen when soldiers begin disbelieving in their own cause. When the Italians asked themselves what, after all, those Spaniards had done to them and why they were intruding into their country and killing them, the battle of Guadalajara turned into a panic-stricken flight of the Italians.
After all it is not the machines but the men who are winning the battles. At the moment the masses realise that there is only one war in which they have got something to gain, the war against the capitalistic power, and furthermore that war is not only the wringing of capitalists for booty, but is also the iron first that keeps the masses down - then no devil would be able to make them march any more.
60 Centimes suisses or six pence
Reprint of articles published in Politiken 1937, the leading paper of Copenhague.
The authors address :
19, rue Henri Mussard GENEVA