The Drums of Armageddon: BRITISH SOCIALISTS AND THE OUTBREAK OF WAR: July - December 1914 (Paperback)
The outbreak of war in August 1914 was devastating for many people.
None more so, however, than the British socialists who strongly believed, despite 'German menace' warnings, that war was a nightmare of the past and socialism was growing steadily around the globe.
The Drums of Armageddon is a detailed and poignant exploration of the last peacetime and the first five wartime months of 1914 as presented on the pages of the three longest established socialist weeklies - Justice, the Clarion, and Labour Leader.
It begins by looking at worries about war in the Balkans, at the activities of militant suffragettes, serious strike threats and a near civil war situation in Ireland. And once war was declared, the widening split in socialist ranks.
Its main focus is on the divide between the Clarion which accepted the necessity for the war and the largely 'anti-war' Independent Labour Party (ILP). And within the British Socialist Party (BSP) between the self-styled 'Old Guard' with a 'pro-Ally' stance who found themselves besieged by more recent recruits taking an 'internationalist' line. These early months of the war also saw the formation of two important new organisations, the Union of Democratic Control by Labour and Radical Liberal MPs and others, and later the mainly pacifist No-Conscription Fellowship. This complex and fascinating period of British history is well-documented and the author has done a meticulous job in interpreting the day-to-day reality of its impact on British socialism.