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“Sinn Feiner Gets 15 Years In Prison,” Toronto Globe. September 28, 1918. Page 07.

J. E. Plant’s Sentence Of Death Is Commuted – ‘Conchy’ Given 10 Years.

(Canadian Press Despatch.)
Niagara Camp, Sept. 27. – The first drafted man in camp to be sentenced to death by the general court-martial is John Edward Plant of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Central Ontario Regiment, whose sentence was promulgated this afternoon at a garrison parade. His sentence, however, has been commuted to fifteen years’ imprisonment in the penitentiary at Kingston, and this was read at the promulgation by Captain Roy Parke, Adjutant of the 2nd Battaltion, 2nd C.O.R. Plant is a Sinn Feiner, and refused to perform military service in any capacity.

Johnston Marks of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd C.O.R., who is a conscientious objector and refused to put on uniform, was sentenced to penitentiary for ten years.

Col. K. I. McLaren, Camp Commandant, was in charge of the parade for the promulgation of the sentences.

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“More Objectors Placed On Trial,” Toronto Globe. August 1, 1918. Page 10.

Three Men Before the General Court-martial at Niagara Camp

One A Sinn Feiner

Another an Austrian Who Is Ready to Do Service at Home

(Canadian Press Despatch.)
Niagara Camp, July 31. – A general court-martial was held here this morning, when Lieut.-Col. A. J. McCausland, of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd C.O.R., presided at the trial of two men, Sherman S. Babcok and Joseph Toorish of the 1st Battalion, 2nd C.O.R. Lieut.-Col. G. L. Francis of the Railway Troops Depot presided at the trial of a third man, Paul Joseph Forst of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd C.O.R. in place of Col. McCausland, as Forst is a member of Col. McCausland’s battalion. The other members of the court sat throughout the trial of the three accused, and were: Major F. P. Myles, Major A. A. McKenzie, Capt. W. R. S. Richardson, Capt. L. H. Bertram and Lieut.-Col. J. A. MacDonald, Judge Advocate. The prosecutors were Major S. H. Bastick and Major C. P. Mackenzie.

Babcock and Forst are conscientious objectors, and Toorish is a Sinn Feiner who was charged with having ‘willfully defied authority’ by refusing to put on the King’s uniform, and having declared that he would not fight for the British, who had killed his people in the Sinn Fein rebellion in Dublin in 1916.

Reads Statement of Views.
Toorish is a big fellow, of good education, a native of Dublin, a confessed Sinn Feiner and an office clerk. He had written a lengthy statement of his views on the question of Great Britain’s treatment of Ireland and the people of the south of Ireland, and his reasons for refusing to don the Khaki in behalf of the British and the other allies. This statement he was permitted to read, and it was put in as evidence in his defece. He said: ‘If the British Government had put Herbert Asquith’s Home Rule Bill into effect, Ireland would not be in her present position of antagonism to the British. The Sinn Fein rebellion in Dublin in 1916 was the direct outcome, and I believe the rebellion was justified.’

Toorish feelingly referred to a lady who was very dear to him, and whose life was to have been linked to his, whose death he said was due to British bullets. ‘The cause she died for,’ he said, ‘is a good enough cause for me to die for too.’

Casement and Carson.
Toorish cited the difference in the treatment of Sir Roger Casement and Sir Edward Carson, the first named ‘a loyal Irish gentleman,’ having been shot in the Tower of London, and Carson admitted to the British Cabinet, though both men were in the same boat, so far as their connection with the Germans had been concerned. Toorish positively refused to recede from his position of opposition to the British Government, and expressed himself ready to be ‘sacrificed’ for his opinions.

Disclaims Pro-German Sympathy.
Toorish is a native of Strabane, County Tyrone, Ireland, and before coming to Canada nine years ago was a student at Dublin University. He has resided in Toronto several years. He was candid enough to admit that his sympathies were not with the British in this war, though two of his brothers were fighting with the British. However, he would not admit being a pro-German. He was loyal to Ireland, he said, and he was a Sinn Feiner.

John Doughtery, 425 Annette street, Toronto, and Daniel Roughan, 98 1/3 Bellwoods avenue, Toronto, both natives of Ireland, gave character evidence on Toorish’s behalf.

Professes Conscientious Objector.
Sherman S. Babcock pleaded guilty to the charge of having refused to put on the uniform. ‘I am a child of God,’ he said in his defence, ‘and I feel that it is against the Lord’s will that I should kill anybody.’ He declared that he would not obey the Military Law, and would take what punishment was in store for him as a result of his stand.

Babcock is 22 years of age, and a harnessmaker by trade. He said he did not belong to any sect whose tenets forbade him performing military service.

Objector, Not an Enemy.
Paul Joseph Forst, an Austrian, who was naturalized, had refused to put on the uniform, and claimed that it was because of his religious belief that he would not take part in military affairs, not because of his Austrian origin. He professed to be willing to do work for the military cause, but said he would not wear the uniform. He based his religious belief on books published by the Ecteric Society in California, he said.

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“The growing proletarianization of modern man and the increasing formation of masses are two aspects of the same process. Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life. The violation of the masses, whom Fascism, with its Führer cult, forces to their knees, has its counterpart in the violation of an apparatus which is pressed into the production of ritual values.

All efforts to render politics aesthetic culminate in one thing: war. War and war only can set a goal for mass movements on the largest scale while respecting the traditional property system. This is the political formula for the situation. The technological formula may be stated as follows: Only war makes it possible to mobilize all of today’s technical resources while maintaining the property system. It goes without saying that the Fascist apotheosis of war does not employ such arguments. Still, Marinetti says in his manifesto on the Ethiopian colonial war:

“For twenty-seven years we Futurists have rebelled against the branding of war as anti-aesthetic … Accordingly we state:… War is beautiful because it establishes man’s dominion over the subjugated machinery by means of gas masks, terrifying megaphones, flame throwers, and small tanks. War is beautiful because it initiates the dreamt-of metalization of the human body. War is beautiful because it enriches a flowering meadow with the fiery orchids of machine guns. War is beautiful because it combines the gunfire, the cannonades, the cease-fire, the scents, and the stench of putrefaction into a symphony. War is beautiful because it creates new architecture, like that of the big tanks, the geometrical formation flights, the smoke spirals from burning villages, and many others … Poets and artists of Futurism! … remember these principles of an aesthetics of war so that your struggle for a new literature and a new graphic art … may be illumined by them!”

This manifesto has the virtue of clarity. Its formulations deserve to be accepted by dialecticians. To the latter, the aesthetics of today’s war appears as follows: If the natural utilization of productive forces is impeded by the property system, the increase in technical devices, in speed, and in the sources of energy will press for an unnatural utilization, and this is found in war. The destructiveness of war furnishes proof that society has not been mature enough to incorporate technology as its organ, that technology has not been sufficiently developed to cope with the elemental forces of society. The horrible features of imperialistic warfare are attributable to the discrepancy between the tremendous means of production and their inadequate utilization in the process of production – in other words, to unemployment and the lack of markets. Imperialistic war is a rebellion of technology which collects, in the form of “human material,” the claims to which society has denied its natural materrial. Instead of draining rivers, society directs a human stream into a bed of trenches; instead of dropping seeds from airplanes, it drops incendiary bombs over cities; and through gas warfare the aura is abolished in a new way.

“Fiat ars – pereat mundus”, says Fascism, and, as Marinetti admits, expects war to supply the artistic gratification of a sense perception that has been changed by technology. This is evidently the consummation of “l’art pour l’art.” Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, now is one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic. Communism responds by politicizing art.”

– Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,“ 1936

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