The Drums of Armageddon

Some Features of the Book

The Drums of Armageddon covers a very short period - only the five months starting with July 1914 following the Sarajevo assassination and concluding that December. It traces last peacetime preoccupations and then reactions to the outbreak of war as they appeared in the three longest established socialists weeklies of the day; Justice, The Clarion, and Labour Leader. Most people on the British Left in 1914 read at least one of these. The title is borrowed from a Clarion article by Robert Blatchford at the beginning of the First World War.

The ILP's Labour Leader quickly came out against British participation in the war and by the end of the year was promoting the No-Conscription Fellowship and the Union of Democratic control which united Labour and Radical Liberal MPs against 'secret diplomacy' and in favour of a just and non-vindictive peace settlement once the war was over. Even more quickly The Clarion came out in support of British participation while the BSP's Justice tried - vainly - to hold together both 'internationalist' opponents of the war and the 'pro-Ally' members of the 'Old Guard of the SDF' who believed Britain had no alternative but the rally to the support of Belgium and France which were invaded by Germany.


The Drums of Armageddon. British Socialists and the Outbreak of War, July - December 1914

Available in UK from

ISBN 13; 178-1-5272-6126-6

The Drums of Armageddon, an online talk by Ian Bullock 17 June 2020.
This free talk was part of the Working Class Movement Library's live-streamed Invisible Histories series.

top ^