Foreign & General
1. Chinese dollar reaches about 3½d. Daily Telegraph [a]
2. Twenty Bulgarian MPs. received in Moscow. Daily Telegraph [b]
3. British-French military delegation arrives in Leningrad. Daily Telegraph [c]
1. Fresh reports of trials of objectors by tribunals do not in any case indicate objection on political lines (normally members of Christadelphian etc. churches). Daily Telegraph [d]
2. Attack on “the° Link” in “Time & Tide, with implication that it should be suppressed. Daily Telegraph [e]
3. Again denied that banning of Time by Federation of Wholesalers has political motive, though evidently it has. Daily Telegraph [f]
Party Politics
1. I.L.P. Nat. Council again speaks of unconditional affiliation, but in referring to intentions within L.P. suggests activities which would amount to flatly opposing L.P.’s present line on rearmament etc. & presumably will not be accepted. New Leader
2. Those present at the House of C. reception to Menna Schocat[1], representing League for Jewish-Arab Unity included H. W. Nevinson, Chalmers Mitchell, Lord Faringdon[2], Wilson (Cecil), Lansbury, A. Maclaren, M.Ps. New Leader
3. Various arrests in France in connection with anti-war & anti-imperialist activities include Lucien Weitz & R. Louzon[3] (18 months). New Leader

[a]Daily Telegraph 11-8-39 Page 11-2 [b]Daily Telegraph 11-8-39 Page 11 [c]Daily Telegraph 11-8-39 Page 1 [d]Daily Telegraph 11-8-39 Page 9 [e]Daily Telegraph 11-8-39 Page 14 [f]Daily Telegraph 11-8-39 Page 12

[1] Menna Schocat was a pioneer revolutionary in tsarist Russia who suffered imprisonment and exile. She escaped in 1905 and went to Palestine, where she was active in various workers’ movements. She insisted on Jewish-Arab workers’ unity and championed the cause of Arab peasants. The ILP had proposed to work for the unity of Jewish and Arab masses against British imperialism, in the hope of setting up a workers’ state federated with neighbouring Arab states. It also championed the right of persecuted Jewish workers in Europe to enter not only Palestine, but all countries, including Britain and the dominions.

[2] Alexander Gavin Henderson, 2nd Baron Faringdon (1902-1977), a contemporary of Orwell at Eton, was Treasurer of the Committee of Inquiry into Non-Intervention in Spain, 1936; and Treasurer of the National Council for Civil Liberties, 1940-45.

[3] Lucien Weitz, editor of Independent News, published in Paris, was also associated with the journal of Solidaridad Internacional Antifascista, of which Orwell was a sponsor; see 434. Weitz and a number of others associated with that journal and with the ILP’s brother organization in France, Parti Socialiste Ouvriers et Paysans (see 7.8.39) and its journal, Juin 36, were imprisoned as a result of publishing articles exposing clandestine sales by French motor manufacturers to Germany, and antimilitarist tracts. Robert Louzon was imprisoned with Lucien Weitz and others. Of the nine people named in The New Leader as being arrested, Orwell picks out these two names, presumably because they were known to him personally or by their writings; Weitz in Independent News, and Louzon in La Révolution Prolétarienne or his book L’Economie Capitaliste. Peter Davison

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6 Responses to 11.8.39.

  1. Peter Davison~~
    I appreciate the annotations.
    Thank you for providing context, insight and fodder for the imagination.

  2. Max says:

    It’s good to see the conscientious objectors are putting up a fight to avoid fighting. But it’s interesting to think that, if we’d all been conscientious objectors in 1939-40, we’d have had a Nazi Britain and on principle we’d have had to stand by (no demonstrations or plackards permitted) while they went about their grisly business. Is there anyone out there who could make the case for conscientiously objecting to taking on Hitler. How would we as a pacifist society have coped with SS killers and Gestapo torturers?

  3. AlexS says:

    @Max: that is the typical argument used against pacifism. I think there is no single solution to all problems. Non-violent resistance will not always be an option, but there are many instances in which it is dramatically more efficient than the alternative.

    And there are instances in which resistance (violent or non violent) itself is not a solution. In the case of Jewish persecution, it did not matter whether resistance was violent or not (although I think violent resistance would have accelerated Jewish extermination). The only real option was escape.

  4. Max says:

    I wasn’t making an argument, I was asking a question, and I’m still not sure of the answer. I was not thinking specifically of the Jews but of all Nazi victims. However, AlecS is convinced that had the Jews resisted they would have died quicker. Was it better to have died more slowly? I can’t quite follow the logic. But, broadening the argument, does that mean that had we in Britain resisted Hitler harder than we did we’d have lost the war?

    Going back to what I was asking, I was thinking what would a pacifist nation have done when the Panzers landed and began rolling down Dover High Street. Would we have been offering them flowers, like the Austrians, or standing in front of the tanks like the young man in Tiananmen Square? If AlexS were giving the orders that day, what would they have been?

    Just curious.


  5. Roving Thundercloud says:

    The point of being a pacifist, whether an individual or a nation, is to work to “remove the occasion for war”. Which means you don’t sit on your hands during the buildup and then panic when the tanks roll down your street. Instead, you work for justice and build coalitions for strength. I’m not casting blame (so easy from the armchair, no?) but the list of direct causes, triggers, and underlying tensions for WW II is very long, meaning there were plenty of opportunities for choosing alternatives, rather than meeting them in the usual way. I don’t want to get into a debate about every specific juncture; I’m just trying to describe a worldview in which we don’t get to the point of having the tanks in your neighborhood in the first place.

    People tend to want pacifism to “solve” all of the problems that have arisen in a violent world, between imperfect people, who have bought into force as a means to “solve” conflicts.

    Pacifism is not a way to solve problems. It’s a way to face problems in such a way that a space is created, and connections between people are created, so that the work of reconciliation (which *is* a way to solve problems) becomes possible.

    The default, retributive violence, isn’t a way to “solve” problems either; it’s a way of facing problems that destroys safe places and connections between people, and which in turns creates the grounds for more retribution that spirals violence into the future–sometimes for hundreds of years.

    To quote a Quaker, Tim Travis: “Can anyone really say that resisting the Axis Powers with violence really worked? The Russian military resistance, for example, lost (I seem to recall) in excess of 20,000,000 people (civilian and military deaths), something like 13% of its 1939 populations (highest percentage of all nations in the world in that particular iteration of this dance of war). What would it have cost if the Russians had adopted a strategy of passive resistance? I’ve heard all the arguments but I don’t believe that the outcome would have been any worse. I do believe, though, that everyone involved would have come out of it very different than they did.”

    You didn’t do this, Max, but it is wearying that humans tend to
    engage in protracted wrathful and exploitive policies, and then when they are struck back at, turn around and ask, “Now what, Mr. Pacifist?”

  6. Max says:

    If working for peace rather than agitating for war is what makes a pacifist one imagines that the majority of human beings are pacifist. I wasn’t thinking of that so much as the moral dilemma faced by a society about to be occupied and enslaved. What, I am asking, would a pacifist government, once its endeavours for peace had failed, advise the man and woman on the Dover High Street to do when the tanks rolled in?

    As for Russia, Hitler, of course, planned to exterminate all Russians as sub-humans. Would non-resistance not then have amounted to mass suicide? Is there any case in history where a whole nation or ethnic group has said, ‘We know you intend to exterminate us or to enslave us unto death, but we are pacifist so please be our guests.’? Would black Africans rounded up by slavers have been better advised to resist or go quietly? Couldn’t that position be seen as profoundly fatalistic? I only ask since Orwell at that time was teetering between pacifism and wanting to fight, wasn’t he?

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