If the German war-lords had set out deliberately to ham-string the American Socialists, to make it impossible for them to go on demanding peace, they could not have acted differently. They dragged the helpless Bolsheviki into a peace-conference at Brest-Litovsk, and forced them to cede away all the territories that Germany had taken, and on top of that to pay an enormous indemnity. They planned to compel the new Russian government to become a vassal to the Central Powers, working to help them enslave the rest of the world. The German armies went through the conquered territories, stripping them bare, robbing the peasants of every particle of food, beating them, shooting them, burning their homes if they resisted. They gave to the world such a demonstration of what a German peace would mean, that everywhere free men set their teeth and gripped their hands, and swore to root this infamous thing from out civilization. Even Jimmie Higgins!
Yes, even Jimmie! He made up his mind that he would work as hard as ever he could, and produce as many automobile-trucks as he could. But alas, a man cannot be hounded and oppressed all his life, cannot have hatred and rebellion ground into the deeps of his soul, and then forget it over-night because of certain intellectual ideas, certain new items that he reads in his paper. What happened to Jimmie was that his mind was literally torn in half; he found himself, every twenty-four hours of his life, of two absolutely contradictory and diametrically opposite points of view. He would vow destruction to the hated German armies; and then he would turn about and vow destruction to the men at home who were managing the job of destroying the German armies!
For these men were Jimmie’s life-long enemies, and were no more able to forget their prejudices over-night than was Jimmie. For example, the lying capitalist paper which Jimmie had to read every morning! When Jimmie had read a patriotic editorial in the Ironton Daily Sun, it had become utterly impossible for him to help win the war that day! Or the politicians, seeking to use the war-cry of democracy abroad to crush all traces of democracy at home; to “get” the radicals whom they hated and feared, and by means of taxes on necessities and a bonded debt to put the costs of the war on to the poor! Or the capitalists, making fervid speeches about patriotism, but refusing to give up the whip-hand over their wage-slaves!
Jimmie Higgins was working in a factory, making automobile-trucks for the armies in France; and the owners of the factory would not let the men have a union, and so there was a strike. The bosses made an agreement to take everybody back and permit a union, and then proceeded treacherously to violate the agreement, getting rid of the most active organizers on this or that transparent pretext. Jimmie Higgins, trying to help with the skill of his hands to make the world safe for