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Remembered Today:

MPs opposing Britain's entry into the Great War

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Hello Terry

Yes Anthony Robertson in 'Radicalism Against War' also mentioned an international gathering of Socialists in Brussels in July 1914 in which the internationalist principle was affirmed. The assassination of the French Socialist leader Jean Jaures on 29th July 1914- who seemed to have created contacts with like minded people in many countries including Germany- must have been a blow for Socialists opposed to war.

I have been interested to read the more I look at this subject that the non-Socialist arguments against participation in war, in those last few days, did try to play the anti-Russian card, considering that a European war would lead to Russian expansionism and that Britain must not party to this. Niall Ferguson covers this issue in 'The Pity of War' in the chapter 'The August Days; The Myth of War Enthusiasm'.




I agree that the rally was probably an ILP initiative. Socialism was seen as an international philosophy and, therefore, British socialists argued strongly that they should not be forced into a war which was going to be fought against, and largely by, the German and British working classes. After all, they argued, they had no quarrel with them, but were being forced into it by the ruling elites.

Out of interest and at the same time, a group of some sixty Oxbridge academics signed a letter which was published in the Times, condemning the impending war against Germany. Germany had been highly regarded as the centre of scientific and cultural influence in Europe, so much so, that the British middling classes often gave German second names to their sons and sent them to German academic institutions for their tertiary education.

Two things arise immediately out of the above: how quickly those attitudes changed on the declaration of war and how British propagandists were quick use this against Germany with the word "Kultur."


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