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Title: Peace Theories and the Balkan War
Author: Angell, Norman, 1872-1967
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Author of "The Great Illusion"




Author of "The Great Illusion."



    Whether we blame the belligerents or criticise the powers, or sit in
    sackcloth and ashes ourselves is absolutely of no consequence at the
    present moment....

    We have sometimes been assured by persons who profess to know that
    the danger of war has become an illusion.... Well, here is a war
    which has broken out in spite of all that rulers and diplomatists
    could do to prevent it, a war in which the Press has had no part, a
    war which the whole force of the money power has been subtly and
    steadfastly directed to prevent, which has come upon us, not through
    the ignorance or credulity of the people, but, on the contrary,
    through their knowledge of their history and their destiny, and
    through their intense realisation of their wrongs and of their
    duties, as they conceived them, a war which from all these causes
    has burst upon us with all the force of a spontaneous explosion, and
    which in strife and destruction has carried all before it. Face to
    face with this manifestation, who is the man bold enough to say that
    force is never a remedy? Who is the man who is foolish enough to say
    that martial virtues do not play a vital part in the health and
    honour of every people? (Cheers.) Who is the man who is vain enough
    to suppose that the long antagonisms of history and of time can in
    all circumstances be adjusted by the smooth and superficial
    conventions of politicians and ambassadors?--MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
    at Sheffield.

    Mr. Norman Angell's theory was one to enable the citizens of this
    country to sleep quietly, and to lull into false security the
    citizens of all great countries. That is undoubtedly the reason why
    he met with so much success.... It was a very comfortable theory for
    those nations which have grown rich and whose ideals and initiative
    have been sapped by over much prosperity. But the great delusion of
    Norman Angell, which led to the writing of "The Great Illusion," has
    been dispelled for ever by the Balkan League. In this connection it
    is of value to quote the words of Mr. Winston Churchill, which give
    very adequately the reality as opposed to theory.--_The Review of
    Reviews_, from an article on "The Débâcle of Norman Angell."

And an odd score of like pronouncements from newspapers and public men
since the outbreak of the Balkan War.

The interrogations they imply have been put definitely in the first
chapter of this book; the replies to those questions summarised in that
chapter and elaborated in the others.

_The "key" to this book and the summary of its arguments are contained
in Chapter I. (pp. 7-12)_


I. The Questions and their Answers

II. "Peace" and "War" in the Balkans

III. Economic Causes in the Balkan War

IV. Turkish Ideals in our Political Thought

V. Our Responsibility for Balkan Wars

VI. Pacifism, Defence, and the "Impossibility of War"

VII. "Theories" False and True; their Role in European Politics

VIII. What Shall we DO?





"Peace" in the Balkans under the Turkish System--The inadequacy of our
terms--The repulsion of the Turkish invasion--The Christian effort to
bring the reign of force and conquest to an end--The difference between
action designed to settle relationship on force and counter action
designed to prevent such settlement--The force of the policeman and the
force of the brigand--The failure of conquest as exemplified by the
Turk--Will the Balkan peoples prove Pacifist or Bellicist; adopt the
Turkish or the Christian System?



The "economic system" of the Turk--The Turkish "Trade of Conquest" as a
cause of this war--Racial and Religious hatred of primitive
societies--Industrialism as a solvent--Its operation in Europe--Balkans
geographically remote from main drift of European economic
development--The false economies of the Powers as a cause of their
jealousies and quarrels--- This has prevented settlement--What is the
"economic motive"?--Impossible to separate moral and
material--Nationality and the War System.



This war and "the Turks of Britain and Prussia"--The Anglo-Saxon and
opposed ideals--Mr. C. Chesterton's case for "killing and being killed"
as the best method of settling differences--Its application to Civil
Conflicts--As in Spanish-America--The difference between Devonshire and
Venezuela--Will the Balkans adopt the Turco-Venezuelan political ideals
or the British?



Mr. Winston Churchill on the "Responsibility" of Diplomacy--What does he
mean?--An easy (and popular) philosophy--Can we neglect past if we would
avoid future errors?--British temper and policy in the Crimean War--What
are its lessons?--Why we fought a war to sustain the "integrity and
independence of the Turkish dominion in Europe"--Supporting the Turk
against his Christian victims--From fear of Russian growth which we are
now aiding--The commentary of events--Shall we back the wrong horse



Did the Crimean War prove Bright and Cobden wrong?--Our curious
reasoning--Mr. Churchill on "illusions"--The danger of war is not the
illusion but its benefits--We are all Pacifists now since we all desire
Peace--Will more armaments alone secure it?--The experience of
mankind--War "the failure of human wisdom"--Therefore more wisdom is the
remedy--But the Militarists only want more arms--The German Lord
Roberts--The military campaign against political Rationalism--How to
make war certain.



The improvement of ideas the foundation of all improvement--Shooting
straight and thinking straight; the one as important as the
other--Pacifism and the Millennium--How we got rid of wars of
religion--A few ideas have changed the face of the world--The simple
ideas the most important--The "theories" which have led to war--The work
of the reformer to destroy old and false theories--The intellectual
interdependence of nations--Europe at unity in this matter--New ideas
cannot be confined to one people--No fear of ourselves or any nation
being ahead of the rest.



We must have the right political faith--Then we must give effect to
it--Good intention not enough--The organization of the great forces of
modern life--Our indifference as to the foundations of the evil--The
only hope.



What has Pacifism, Old or New, to say now?

Is War impossible?

Is it unlikely?

Is it futile?

Is not force a remedy, and at times the only remedy?

Could any remedy have been devised on the whole so conclusive and
complete as that used by the Balkan peoples?

Have not the Balkan peoples redeemed War from the charges too readily
brought against it as simply an instrument of barbarism?

Have questions of profit and loss, economic considerations, anything
whatever to do with this war?

Would the demonstration of its economic futility have kept the peace?

Are theories and logic of the slightest use, since force alone can
determine the issue?

Is not war therefore inevitable, and must we not prepare diligently for
it? I will answer all these questions quite simply and directly without
casuistry and logic-chopping, and honestly desiring to avoid paradox and
"cleverness." And these quite simple answers will not be in
contradiction with anything that I have written, nor will they
invalidate any of the principles I have attempted to explain.

And my answers may be summarised thus:--

(1) This war has justified both the Old Pacifism and the New. By
universal admission events have proved that the Pacifists who opposed
the Crimean War were right and their opponents wrong. Had public opinion
given more consideration to those Pacifist principles, this country
would not have "backed the wrong horse," and this war, two wars which
have preceded it, and many of the abominations of which the Balkan
peninsular has been the scene during the last 60 years might have been
avoided, and in any case Great Britain would not now carry upon her
shoulders the responsibility of having during half a century supported
the Turk against the Christian and of having tried uselessly to prevent
what has now taken place--the break-up of the Turk's rule in Europe.

(2) War is not impossible, and no responsible Pacifist ever said it was;
it is not the likelihood of war which is the illusion, but its benefits.

(3) It is likely or unlikely according as the parties to a dispute are
guided by wisdom or folly.

(4) It _is_ futile; and force is no remedy.

(5) Its futility is proven by the war waged daily by the Turks as
conquerors, during the last 400 years. And because the Balkan peoples
have chosen the less evil of two kinds of war, and will use their
victory to bring a system based on force and conquest to an end, we who
do not believe in force and conquest rejoice in their action, and
believe it will achieve immense benefits. But if instead of using their
victory to eliminate force, they in their turn pin their faith to it,
continue to use it the one against the other, exploiting by its means
the populations they rule, and become not the organisers of social
co-operation among the Balkan populations, but merely, like the Turks,
their conquerors and "owners," then they in their turn will share the
fate of the Turk.

(6) The fundamental causes of this war are economic in the narrower, as
well as in the larger sense of the term; in the first because conquest
was the Turk's only trade--he desired to live out of taxes wrung from a
conquered people, to exploit them as a means of livelihood, and this
conception was at the bottom of most of Turkish misgovernment. And in
the larger sense its cause is economic because in the Balkans, remote
geographically from the main drift of European economic development,
there has not grown up that interdependent social life, the innumerable
contacts which in the rest of Europe have done so much to attenuate
primitive religious and racial hatreds.

(7) A better understanding by the Turk of the real nature of civilised
government, of the economic futility of conquest of the fact that a
means of livelihood (an economic system), based upon having more force
than someone else and using it ruthlessly against him, is an impossible
form of human relationship bound to break down, _would_ have kept the

(8) If European statecraft had not been animated by false conceptions,
largely economic in origin, based upon a belief in the necessary rivalry
of states, the advantages of preponderant force and conquest, the
Western nations could have composed their quarrels and ended the
abominations of the Balkan peninsula long ago--even in the opinion of
the _Times_. And it is our own false statecraft--that of Great
Britain--which has a large part of the responsibility for this failure
of European civilisation. It has caused us to sustain the Turk in
Europe, to fight a great and popular war with that aim, and led us into
treaties which had they been kept, would have obliged us to fight to-day
on the side of the Turk against the Balkan States.

(9) If by "theories" and "logic" is meant the discussion of and interest
in principles, the ideas that govern human relationship, they are the
only things that can prevent future wars, just as they were the only
things that brought religious wars to an end--a preponderant power
"imposing" peace playing no role therein. Just as it was false religious
theories which made the religious wars, so it is false political
theories which make the political wars.

(10) War is only inevitable in the sense that other forms of error and
passion--religious persecution for instance--are inevitable; they cease
with better understanding, as the attempt to impose religious belief by
force has ceased in Europe.

(11) We should not prepare for war; we should prepare to prevent war;
and though that preparation may include battleships and conscription,
those elements will quite obviously make the tension and danger greater
unless there is also a better European opinion.

These summarised replies need a little expansion.



"Peace" in the Balkans under the Turkish System--The inadequacy of our
terms--The repulsion of the Turkish invasion--The Christian effort to
bring the reign of force and conquest to an end--The difference between
action designed to settle relationship on force and counter action
designed to prevent such settlement--The force of the policeman and the
force of the brigand--The failure of conquest as exemplified by the
Turk--Will the Balkan peoples prove Pacifist or Bellicist; adopt the
Turkish or the Christian System?

Had we thrashed out the question of war and peace as we must finally, it
would hardly be necessary to explain that the apparent paradox in Answer
No. 4 (that war is futile, and that this war will have immense benefits)
is due to the inadequacy of our language, which compels us to use the
same word for two opposed purposes, not to any real contradiction of

We called the condition of the Balkan peninsula "Peace" until the other
day, merely because the respective Ambassadors still happened to be
resident in the capitals to which they were accredited.

Let us see what "Peace" under Turkish rule really meant, and who is the
real invader in this war. Here is a very friendly and impartial
witness--Sir Charles Elliot--who paints for us the character of the
Turk as an "administrator":--

     "The Turk in Europe has an overweening sense of his superiority,
     and remains a nation apart, mixing little with the conquered
     populations, whose customs and ideas he tolerates, but makes little
     effort to understand. The expression indeed, 'Turkey in Europe'
     means indeed no more than 'England in Asia,' if used as a
     designation for India.... The Turks have done little to assimilate
     the people whom they have conquered, and still less, been
     assimilated by them. In the larger part of the Turkish dominions,
     the Turks themselves are in a minority.... The Turks certainly
     resent the dismemberment of their Empire, but not in the sense in
     which the French resent the conquest of Alsace-Lorraine by Germany.
     They would never use the word 'Turkey' or even its oriental
     equivalent, 'The High Country' in ordinary conversation. They would
     never say that Syria and Greece are parts of Turkey which have been
     detached, but merely that they are tributaries which have become
     independent, provinces once occupied by Turks where there are no
     Turks now. As soon as a province passes under another Government,
     the Turks find it the most natural thing in the world to leave it
     and go somewhere else. In the same spirit the Turk talks quite
     pleasantly of leaving Constantinople some day, he will go over to
     Asia and found another capital. One can hardly imagine Englishmen
     speaking like that of London, but they might conceivably speak so
     of Calcutta.... The Turk is a conqueror and nothing else. The
     history of the Turk is a catalogue of battles. His contributions to
     art, literature, science and religion, are practically nil. Their
     desire has not been to instruct, to improve, hardly even to govern,
     but simply to conquer.... The Turk makes nothing at all; he takes
     whatever he can get, as plunder or pillage. He lives in the houses
     which he finds, or which he orders to be built for him. In
     unfavourable circumstances he is a marauder. In favourable, a
     _Grand Seigneur_ who thinks it his right to enjoy with grace and
     dignity all that the world can hold, but who will not lower himself
     by engaging in art, literature, trade or manufacture. Why should
     he, when there are other people to do these things for him. Indeed,
     it may be said that he takes from others even his religion,
     clothes, language, customs; there is hardly anything which is
     Turkish and not borrowed. The religion is Arabic; the language half
     Arabic and Persian; the literature almost entirely imitative; the
     art Persian or Byzantine; the costumes, in the Upper Classes and
     Army mostly European. There is nothing characteristic in
     manufacture or commerce, except an aversion to such pursuits. In
     fact, all occupations, except agriculture and military service are
     distasteful to the true Osmanli. He is not much of a merchant. He
     may keep a stall in a bazaar, but his operations are rarely
     undertaken on a scale which merits the name of commerce or finance.
     It is strange to observe how, when trade becomes active in any
     seaport, or upon the railway lines, the Osmanli retires and
     disappears, while Greeks, Armenians and Levantines thrive in his
     place. Neither does he much affect law, medicine or the learned
     professions. Such callings are followed by Moslims but they are apt
     to be of non-Turkish race. But though he does none of these things
     ... the Turk is a soldier. The moment a sword or rifle is put into
     his hands, he instinctively knows how to use it with effect, and
     feels at home in the ranks or on a horse. The Turkish Army is not
     so much a profession or an institution necessitated by the fears
     and aims of the Government as the quite normal state of the Turkish
     nation.... Every Turk is a born soldier, and adopts other pursuits
     chiefly because times are bad. When there is a question of
     fighting, if only in a riot, the stolid peasant wakes up and shows
     surprising power of finding organisation and expedients, and alas!
     a surprising ferocity. The ordinary Turk is an honest and
     good-humoured soul, kind to children and animals, and very patient;
     but when the fighting spirit comes on him, he becomes like the
     terrible warriors of the Huns or Henghis Khan, and slays, burns and
     ravages without mercy or discrimination."[1]

Such is the verdict of an instructed, travelled and observant English
author and diplomatist, who lived among these people for many years, and
who learned to like them, who studied them and their history. It does
not differ, of course, appreciably, from what practically every student
of the Turk has discovered: the Turk is the typical conqueror. As a
nation, he has lived by the sword, and he is dying by the sword, because
the sword, the mere exercise of force by one man or group of men upon
another, conquest in other words, is an impossible form of human

And in order to maintain this evil form of relationship--its evil and
futility is the whole basis of the principles I have attempted to
illustrate--he has not even observed the rough chivalry of the brigand.
The brigand, though he might knock men on the head, will refrain from
having his force take the form of butchering women and disembowelling
children. Not so the Turk. His attempt at Government will take the form
of the obscene torture of children, of a bestial ferocity which is not a
matter of dispute or exaggeration, but a thing to which scores,
hundreds, thousands even of credible European, witnesses have testified.
"The finest gentleman, sir, that ever butchered a woman or burned a
village," is the phrase that _Punch_ most justly puts into the mouth of
the defender of our traditional Turcophil policy.

And this condition is "Peace," and the act which would put a stop to it
is "War." It is the inexactitude and inadequacy of our language which
creates much of the confusion of thought in this matter; we have the
same term for action destined to achieve a given end and for a
counter-action destined to prevent it.

Yet we manage, in other than the international field, in civil matters,
to make the thing clear enough.

Once an American town was set light to by incendiaries, and was
threatened with destruction. In order to save at least a part of it, the
authorities deliberately burned down a block of buildings in the pathway
of the fire. Would those incendiaries be entitled to say that the town
authorities were incendiaries also, and "believed in setting light to
towns?" Yet this is precisely the point of view of those who tax
Pacifists with approving war because they approve the measure aimed at
bringing it to an end.

Put it another way. You do not believe that force should determine the
transfer of property or conformity to a creed, and I say to you: "Hand
me your purse and conform to my creed or I kill you." You say: "Because
I do not believe that force should settle these matters, I shall try and
prevent it settling them, and therefore if you attack I shall resist; if
I did not I should be allowing force to settle them." I attack; you
resist and disarm me and say: "My force having neutralised yours, and
the equilibrium being now established, I will hear any reasons you may
have to urge for my paying you money; or any argument in favour of your
creed. Reason, understanding, adjustment shall settle it." You would be
a Pacifist. Or, if you deem that that word connotes non-resistance,
though to the immense bulk of Pacifists it does not, you would be an
anti-Bellicist to use a dreadful word coined by M. Emile Faguet in the
discussion of this matter. If, however, you said: "Having disarmed you
and established the equilibrium, I shall now upset it in my favour by
taking your weapon and using it against you unless you hand me _your_
purse and subscribe to _my_ creed. I do this because force alone can
determine issues, and because it is a law of life that the strong should
eat up the weak." You would then be a Bellicist.

In the same way, when we prevent the brigand from carrying on his
trade--taking wealth by force--it is not because we believe in force as
a means of livelihood, but precisely because we do not. And if, in
preventing the brigand from knocking out brains, we are compelled to
knock out his brains, is it because we believe in knocking out people's
brains? Or would we urge that to do so is the way to carry on a trade,
or a nation, or a government, or make it the basis of human

In every civilised country, the basis of the relationship on which the
community rests is this: no individual is allowed to settle his
differences with another by force. But does this mean that if one
threatens to take my purse, I am not allowed to use force to prevent it?
That if he threatens to kill me, I am not to defend myself, because "the
individual citizens are not allowed to settle their differences by
force?" It is _because_ of that, because the act of self-defence is an
attempt to prevent the settlement of a difference by force, that the law
justifies it.[2]

But the law would not justify me, if having disarmed my opponent, having
neutralised his force by my own, and re-established the social
equilibrium, I immediately proceeded to upset it, by asking him for his
purse on pain of murder. I should then be settling the matter by
force--I should then have ceased to be a Pacifist, and have become a

For that is the difference between the two conceptions: the Bellicist
says: "Force alone can settle these matters; it is the final appeal;
therefore fight it out. Let the best man win. When you have preponderant
strength, impose your view; force the other man to your will; not
because it is right, but because you are able to do so." It is the
"excellent policy" which Lord Roberts attributes to Germany and

We anti-Bellicists take an exactly contrary view. We say: "To fight it
out settles nothing, since it is not a question of who is stronger, but
of whose view is best, and as that is not always easy to establish, it
is of the utmost importance in the interest of all parties, in the long
run, to keep force out of it."

The former is the policy of the Turks. They have been obsessed with the
idea that if only they had enough of physical force, ruthlessly
exercised, they could solve the whole question of government, of
existence for that matter, without troubling about social adjustment,
understanding, equity, law, commerce; "blood and iron" were all that was
needed. The success of that policy can now be judged.

And whether good or evil comes of the present war will depend upon
whether the Balkan States are on the whole guided by the Bellicist
principle or the opposed one. If having now momentarily eliminated force
as between themselves, they re-introduce it, if the strongest,
presumably Bulgaria, adopts Lord Roberts' "excellent policy" of striking
because she has the preponderant force, enters upon a career of conquest
of other members of the Balkan League, and the populations of the
conquered territories, using them for exploitation by military
force--why then there will be no settlement and this war will have
accomplished nothing save futile waste and slaughter. For they will have
taken under a new flag, the pathway of the Turk to savagery,
degeneration, death.

But if on the other hand they are guided more by the Pacifist principle,
if they believe that co-operation between States is better than conflict
between them, if they believe that the common interest of all in good
Government is greater than the special interest of any one in conquest,
that the understanding of human relationships, the capacity for the
organisation of society are the means by which men progress, and not the
imposition of force by one man or group upon another, why, they will
have taken the pathway to better civilisation. But then they will have
disregarded Lord Roberts' advice.

And this distinction between the two systems, far from being a matter of
abstract theory of metaphysics or logic chopping, is just the difference
which distinguishes the Briton from the Turk, which distinguishes
Britain from Turkey. The Turk has just as much physical vigour as the
Briton, is just as virile, manly and military. The Turk has the same raw
materials of Nature, soil and water. There is no difference in the
capacity for the exercise of physical force--or if there is, the
difference is in favour of the Turk. The real difference is a difference
of ideas, of mind and outlook on the part of the individuals composing
the respective societies; the Turk has one general conception of human
society and the code and principles upon which it is founded, mainly a
militarist one; and the Englishman has another, mainly a Pacifist one.
And whether the European society as a whole is to drift towards the
Turkish ideal or towards the English ideal will depend upon whether it
is animated mainly by the Pacifist or mainly by the Bellicist doctrine;
if the former, it will stagger blindly like the Turk along the path to
barbarism; if the latter, it will take a better road.

[Footnote 1: "Turkey in Europe," pp. 88-9 and 91-2.

It is significant, by the way, that the "born soldier" has now been
crushed by a non-military race whom he has always despised as having no
military tradition. Capt. F.W. von Herbert ("Bye Paths in the Balkans")
wrote (some years before the present war): "The Bulgars as Christian
subjects of Turkey exempt from military service, have tilled the ground
under stagnant and enfeebling peace conditions, and the profession of
arms is new to them."

"Stagnant and enfeebling peace conditions" is, in view of subsequent
events distinctly good.]

[Footnote 2: I dislike to weary the reader with such damnable iteration,
but when a Cabinet Minister is unable in this discussion to distinguish
between the folly of a thing and its possibility, one _must_ make the
fundamental point clear.]



The "economic system" of the Turk--The Turkish "Trade of Conquest" as a
cause of this war--Racial and Religious hatred of primitive
societies--Industrialism as a solvent--Its operation in Europe--Balkans
geographically remote from main drift of European economic
development--The false economies of the Powers as a cause of their
jealousies and quarrels--This has prevented settlement--What is the
"economic motive"?--Impossible to separate moral and
material--Nationality and the War System.

In dealing with answer No. 4 I have shown how the inadequacy of our
language leads us so much astray in our notions of the real role of
force in human relationships. But there is a curious phenomenon of
thought which explains perhaps still more how misconceptions grow up on
this subject, and that is the habit of thinking of a war which, of
course, must include two parties, in terms, solely of one party at a time.
Thus one critic[3] is quite sure that because the Balkan peoples "recked
nothing of financial disaster," economic considerations have had nothing
to do with their war--a conclusion which seems to be arrived at by the
process of judgment just indicated: to find the cause of condition
produced by two parties you shall rigorously ignore one. For there is a
great deal of internal evidence for believing that the writer of the
article in question would admit very readily that the efforts of the
Turk to wring taxes out of the conquered peoples--not in return for a
civilized administration but simply as the means of livelihood, of
turning conquest into a trade--had a very great deal to do in explaining
the Turk's presence there at all and the Christian's desire to get rid
of him; while the same article specifically states that the mutual
jealousies of the great powers, based on a desire to "grab" (an economic
motive), had a great deal to do with preventing a peaceful settlement of
the difficulties. Yet "economics" have nothing to do with it!

I have attempted elsewhere to make these two points--that it is on the
one hand the false economics of the Turks, and on the other hand the
false economics of the powers of Europe, colouring the policy and
Statecraft of both, which have played an enormous, in all human
probability, a determining role in the immediate provoking cause of the
war; and, of course, a further and more remote cause of the whole
difficulty is the fact that the Balkan peoples never having been
subjected to the discipline of that complex social life which arises
from trade and commerce have never grown out of (or to a less degree)
those primitive racial and religious hostilities which at one time in
Europe as a whole provoked conflicts like that now raging in the
Balkans. The following article which appeared[4] at the outbreak of the
war may summarise some of the points with which we have been dealing.

Polite and good-natured people think it rude to say "Balkans" if a
Pacifist be present. Yet I never understood why, and I understand now
less than ever. It carries the implication that because war has broken
out that fact disposes of all objection to it. The armies are at grips,
therefore peace is a mistake. Passion reigns on the Balkans, therefore
passion is preferable to reason.

I suppose cannibalism and infanticide, polygamy, judicial torture,
religious persecution, witchcraft, during all the years we did these
"inevitable" things, were defended in the same way, and those who
resented all criticism of them pointed in triumph to the cannibal feast,
the dead child, the maimed witness, the slain heretic, or the burned
witch. But the fact did not prove the wisdom of those habits, still less
their inevitability; for we have them no more.

We are all agreed as to the fundamental cause of the Balkan trouble: the
hate born of religious, racial, national, and language differences; the
attempt of an alien conqueror to live parasitically upon the conquered,
and the desire of conqueror and conquered alike to satisfy in massacre
and bloodshed the rancour of fanaticism and hatred.

Well, in these islands, not so very long ago, those things were causes
of bloodshed; indeed, they were a common feature of European life. But
if they are inevitable in human relationship, how comes it that Adana is
no longer duplicated by St. Bartholomew; the Bulgarian bands by the
vendetta of the Highlander and the Lowlander; the struggle of the Slav
and Turk, Serb and Bulgar, by that of Scots and English, and English and
Welsh? The fanaticism of the Moslem to-day is no intenser than that of
Catholic and heretic in Rome, Madrid, Paris, and Geneva at a time which
is only separated from us by the lives of three or four elderly men. The
heretic or infidel was then in Europe also a thing unclean and
horrifying, exciting in the mind of the orthodox a sincere and honest
hatred and a (very largely satisfied) desire to kill. The Catholic of
the 16th century was apt to tell you that he could not sit at table with
a heretic because the latter carried with him a distinctive and
overpoweringly repulsive odour. If you would measure the distance Europe
has travelled, think what this means: all the nations of Christendom
united in a war lasting 200 years for the capture of the Holy Sepulchre;
and yet, when in our day the representatives, seated round a table,
could have had it for the asking, they did not deem it worth the asking,
so little of the ancient passion was there left. The very nature of man
seemed to be transformed. For, wonderful though it be that orthodox
should cease killing heretic, infinitely more wonderful still is it that
he should cease wanting to kill him.

And just as most of us are certain that the underlying causes of this
conflict are "inevitable" and "inherent in unchanging human nature," so
are we certain that so _un_human a thing as economics can have no
bearing on it.

Well, I will suggest that the transformation of the heretic-hating and
heretic-killing European is due mainly to economic forces; that it is
because the drift of those forces has in such large part left the
Balkans, where until yesterday the people lived the life not much
different from that which they lived in the time of Abraham, to one side
that war is now raging; that economic factors of a more immediate kind
form a large part of the provoking cause of that war; and that a better
understanding mainly of certain economic facts of their international
relationship on the part of the great nations of Europe is essential
before much progress towards solution can be made.

But then, by "economics," of course, I mean not a merchant's profit or a
moneylender's interest, but the method by which men earn their bread,
which must also mean the kind of life they lead.

We generally think of the primitive life of man--that of the herdsman or
the tent liver--as something idyllic. The picture is as far as possible
from the truth. Those into whose lives economics do not enter, or enter
very little--that is to say, those who, like the Congo cannibal, or the
Red Indian, or the Bedouin, do not cultivate, or divide their labour, or
trade, or save, or look to the future, have shed little of the primitive
passions of other animals of prey, the tigers and the wolves, who have
no economics at all, and have no need to check an impulse or a hate.
But industry, even of the more primitive kind, means that men must
divide their labour, which means that they must put some sort of
reliance upon one another; the thing of prey becomes a partner, and the
attitude towards it changes. And as this life becomes more complex, as
the daily needs and desires push men to trade and barter, that means
building up a social organisation, rules and codes, and courts to
enforce them; as the interdependence widens and deepens it necessarily
means disregarding certain hostilities. If the neighbouring tribe wants
to trade with you they must not kill you; if you want the services of
the heretic you must not kill him, and you must keep your obligation
towards him, and mutual good faith is death to long-sustained hatreds.

You cannot separate the moral from the social and economic development
of a people, and the great service of a complex social and industrial
organisation, which is built up by the desire of men for better material
conditions, is not that it "pays" but that it makes a more
interdependent human society, and that it leads men to recognise what is
the best relationship between them. And the fact of recognising that
some act of aggression is causing stocks to fall is not important
because it may save Oppenheim's or Solomon's money but because it is a
demonstration that we are dependent upon some community on the other
side of the world, that their damage is our damage, and that we have an
interest in preventing it. It teaches us, as only some such simple and
mechanical means can teach, the lesson of human fellowship.

And it is by such means as this that Western Europe has in some measure,
within its respective political frontiers, learnt that lesson. Each has
learnt, within the confines of the nation at least, that wealth is made
by work, not robbery; that, indeed, general robbery is fatal to
prosperity; that government consists not merely in having the power of
the sword but in organising society--in "knowing how"; which means the
development of ideas; in maintaining courts; in making it possible to
run railways, post offices, and all the contrivances of a complex

Now rulers did not create these things; it was the daily activities of
the people, born of their desires and made possible by the circumstances
in which they lived, by the trading and the mining and the shipping
which they carried on, that made them. But the Balkans have been
geographically outside the influence of European industrial and
commercial life. The Turk has hardly felt it at all. He has learnt none
of the social and moral lessons which interdependence and improved
communications have taught the Western European, and it is because he
has not learnt these lessons, because he is a soldier and a conqueror,
to an extent and completeness that other nations of Europe lost a
generation or two since, that the Balkanese are fighting and that war is

But not merely in this larger sense, but in the more immediate, narrower
sense, are the fundamental causes of this war economic.

This war arises, as the past wars against the Turkish conqueror have
arisen, by the desire of the Christian peoples on whom he lives to shake
off this burden. "To live upon their subjects is the Turks' only means
of livelihood," says one authority. The Turk is an economic parasite,
and the economic organism must end of rejecting him.

For the management of society, simple and primitive even as that of the
Balkan mountains, needs some effort and work and capacity for
administration, or even rudimentary economic life cannot be carried on.
And the Turkish system, founded on the sword and nothing else ("the
finest soldier in Europe"), cannot give that small modicum, of energy or
administrative capacity. The one thing he knows is brute force; but it
is not by the strength of his muscles that an engineer runs a machine,
but by knowing how. The Turk cannot build a road, or make a bridge, or
administer a post office, or found a court of law. And these things are
necessary. And he will not let them be done by the Christian, who,
because he did not belong to the conquering class, has had to work, and
has consequently become the class which possesses whatever capacity for
work and administration the country can show, because to do so would be
to threaten the Turk's only trade. If the Turk granted the Christians
equal political rights they would inevitably "run the country," And yet
the Turk himself cannot do it; and he will not let others do it, because
to do so would be to threaten his supremacy.

And the more the use of force fails, the more, of course, does he resort
to it, and that is why many of us who do not believe in force, and
desire to see it disappear in the relationship not merely of religious
but of political groups, might conceivably welcome this war of the
Balkan Christians, in so far as it is an attempt to resist the use of
force in those relationships. Of course, I do not try to estimate the
"balance of criminality." Right is not all on one side--it never is. But
the broad issue is clear and plain. And only those concerned with the
name rather than the thing, with nominal and verbal consistency rather
than realities, will see anything paradoxical or contradictory in
Pacifist approval of Christian resistance to the use of Turkish force.

It is the one fact which stands out incontrovertibly from the whole
weary muddle. It is quite clear that the inability to act in common
arises from the fact that in the international sphere the European is
still dominated by illusions which he has dropped when he deals with
home politics. The political faith of the Turk, which he would never
think of applying at home as between the individuals of his nation, he
applies pure and unalloyed when he comes to deal with foreigners as
nations. The economic conception--using the term in that wider sense
which I have indicated earlier in this article--which guides his
individual conduct is the antithesis of that which guides his national

While the Christian does not believe in robbery inside the frontier, he
does without; while within the State he realises that greater advantage
lies on the side of each observing the general code, so that civilised
society can exist, instead of on the side of having society go to pieces
by each disregarding it; while within the State he realises that
government is a matter of administration, not the seizure of property;
that one town does not add to its wealth by "capturing" another, that
indeed one community cannot "own" another--while, I say, he believes all
these things in his daily life at home, he disregards them all when he
comes to the field of international relationship, _la haute politique_.
To annex some province by a cynical breach of treaty obligation (Austria
in Bosnia, Italy in Tripoli) is regarded as better politics than to act
loyally with the community of nations to enforce their common interest
in order and good government. In fact, we do not believe that there can
be a community of nations, because, in fact, we do not believe that
their interests are common, but rival; like the Turk, we believe that if
you do not exercise force upon your "rival" he will exercise it upon
you; that nations live upon one another, not by co-operation with one
another--and it is for this reason presumably that you must "own" as
much of your neighbours' as possible. It is the Turkish conception from
beginning to end.

And it is because these false beliefs prevent the nations of Christendom
acting loyally the one to the other, because each is playing for its own
hand, that the Turk, with hint of some sordid bribe, has been able to
play off each against the other.

This is the crux of the matter. When Europe can honestly act in common
on behalf of common interests some solution can be found. And the
capacity of Europe to act together will not be found so long as the
accepted doctrines of European statecraft remain unchanged, so long as
they are dominated by existing illusions.

       *       *       *       *       *

In a paper read before the British Association of this year, I attempted
to show in more general terms this relation between economic impulse and
ideal motive. The following are relevant passages:--

A nation, a people, we are given to understand, have higher motives than
money, or "self-interest." What do we mean when we speak of the money of
a nation, or the self-interest of a community? We mean--and in such a
discussion as this can mean nothing else--better conditions for the
great mass of the people, the fullest possible lives, the abolition or
attenuation of poverty and of narrow circumstances, that the millions
shall be better housed and clothed and fed, capable of making provision
for sickness and old age, with lives prolonged and cheered--and not
merely this, but also that they shall be better educated, with character
disciplined by steady labour and a better use of leisure, a general
social atmosphere which shall make possible family affection, individual
dignity and courtesy and the graces of life, not alone among the few,
but among the many.

Now, do these things constitute as a national policy an inspiring
aim or not? Yet they are, speaking in terms of communities, pure
self-interest--all bound up with economic problems, with money. Does
Admiral Mahan mean us to take him at his word when he would attach to
such efforts the same discredit that one implies in talking of a
mercenary individual? Would he have us believe that the typical great
movements of our times--Socialism, Trades Unionism, Syndicalism,
Insurance Bills, Land Laws, Old Age Pensions, Charity Organisation,
Improved Education--bound up as they all are with economic problems--are
not the sort of objects which more and more are absorbing the best
activities of Christendom?

I have attempted to show that the activities which lie outside the range
of these things--the religious wars, movements like those which promoted
the Crusades, or the sort of tradition which we associate with the duel
(which has, in fact, disappeared from Anglo-Saxon society)--do not and
cannot any longer form part of the impulse creating the long-sustained
conflicts between large groups which a European war implies, partly
because such allied moral differences as now exist do not in any way
coincide with the political divisions, but intersect them, and partly
because in the changing character of men's ideals there is a distinct
narrowing of the gulf which is supposed to separate ideal and material
aims. Early ideals, whether in the field of politics or religion, are
generally dissociated from any aim of general well-being. In early
politics ideals are concerned simply with personal allegiance to some
dynastic chief, a feudal lord or a monarch. The well-being of a
community does not enter into the matter at all: it is the personal
allegiance which matters. Later the chief must embody in his person that
well-being, or he does not achieve the allegiance of a community of any
enlightenment; later, the well-being of the community becomes the end in
itself without being embodied in the person of an hereditary chief, so
that the community realise that their efforts, instead of being directed
to the protection of the personal interests of some chief, are as a
matter of fact directed to the protection of their own interests, and
their altruism has become self-interest, since self-sacrifice of a
community for the sake of the community is a contradiction in terms. In
the religious sphere a like development has been shown. Early religious
ideals have no relation to the material betterment of mankind. The early
Christian thought it meritorious to live a sterile life at the top of a
pillar, eaten by vermin, as the Hindoo saint to-day thinks it
meritorious to live an equally sterile life upon a bed of spikes. But as
the early Christian ideal progressed, sacrifices having no end connected
with the betterment of mankind lost their appeal. The Christian saint
who would allow the nails of his fingers to grow through the palms of
his clasped hands would excite, not our admiration, but our revolt. More
and more is religious effort being subjected to this test: does it make
for the improvement of society? If not, it stands condemned. Political
ideals will inevitably follow a like development, and will be more and
more subjected to a like test.

I am aware that very often at present they are not so subjected.
Dominated as our political thought is by Roman and feudal
imagery--hypnotised by symbols and analogies which the necessary
development of organised society has rendered obsolete--the ideals even
of democracies are still often pure abstractions, divorced from any aim
calculated to advance the moral or material betterment of mankind. The
craze for sheer size of territory, simple extent of administrative area,
is still deemed a thing deserving immense, incalculable sacrifices.

       *       *       *       *       *

And yet even these ideals, firmly set as they are in our language and
tradition, are rapidly yielding to the necessary force of events. A
generation ago it would have been inconceivable that a people or a
monarch should calmly see part of its country secede and establish
itself as a separate political entity without attempting to prevent it
by force of arms. Yet this is what happened but a year or two since in
the Scandinavian peninsula. For forty years Germany has added to her own
difficulties and those of the European situation for the purpose of
including Alsace and Lorraine in its Federation, but even there, obeying
the tendency which is world-wide, an attempt has been made at the
creation of a constitutional and autonomous government. The history of
the British Empire for fifty years has been a process of undoing the
work of conquest. Colonies are now neither colonies nor possessions.
They are independent States. Great Britain, which for centuries has made
such sacrifices to retain Ireland, is now making great sacrifices in
order to make her secession workable. To all political arrangements, to
all political ideals, the final test will be applied: Does it or does it
not make for the widest interests of the mass of the people involved?...
And I would ask those who think that war must be a permanent element in
the settlement of the moral differences of men to think for one moment
of the factors which stood in the way of the abandonment of the use of
force by governments, and by one religious group against another in the
matter of religious belief. On the one hand you had authority with all
the prestige of historical right and the possession of physical power in
its most imposing form, the means of education still in their hands;
government authority extending to all sorts of details of life to which
it no longer extends; immense vested interests outside government; and
finally the case for the imposition of dogma by authority a strong one,
and still supported by popular passion: and on the other hand, you had
as yet poor and feeble instruments of mere opinion; the printed book
still a rarity; the Press non-existent, communication between men still
rudimentary, worse even than it had been two thousand years previously.
And yet, despite these immense handicaps upon the growth of opinion and
intellectual ferment as against physical force, it was impossible for a
new idea to find life in Geneva or Rome or Edinburgh or London without
quickly crossing and affecting all the other centres, and not merely
making headway against entrenched authority, but so quickly breaking up
the religious homogeneity of states, that not only were governments
obliged to abandon the use of force in religious matters as against
their subjects, but religious wars between nations became impossible for
the double reason that a nation no longer expressed a single religious
belief (you had the anomaly of a Protestant Sweden fighting in alliance
with a Catholic France), and that the power of opinion had become
stronger than the power of physical force--because, in other words, the
limits of military force were more and more receding.

But if the use of force was so ineffective against the spiritual
possessions of man when the arms to be used in their defence were so
poor and rudimentary, how could a government hope to crush out by force
to-day such things as a nation's language, law, literature, morals,
ideals, when it possesses such means of defence as are provided in
security of tenure of material possessions, a cheap literature, a
popular Press, a cheap and secret postal system, and all the other means
of rapid and perfected inter-communication?

You will notice that I have spoken throughout not of the _defence_ of a
national ideal by arms, but of its attack; if you have to defend your
ideal it is because someone attacks it, and without attack your defence
would not be called for.

If you are compelled to prevent someone using force as against your
nationality, it is because he believes that by the use of that force he
can destroy or change it. If he thought that the use of force would be
ineffective to that end he would not employ it.

I have attempted to show elsewhere that the abandonment of war for
material ends depends upon a general realisation of its futility for
accomplishing those ends. In like manner does the abandonment of war for
moral or ideal ends depend upon the general realisation of the growing
futility of such means for those ends also--and for the growing futility
of those ends if they could be accomplished.

We are sometimes told that it is the spirit of nationality--the desire
to be of your place and locality--that makes war. That is not so. It is
the desire of other men that you shall not be of your place and
locality, of your habits and traditions, but of theirs. Not the desire
of nationality, but the desire to destroy nationality is what makes the
wars of nationality. If the Germans did not think that the retention of
Polish or Alsatian nationality might hamper them in the art of war,
hamper them in the imposition of force on some other groups, there would
be no attempt to crush out this special possession of the Poles and
Alsatians. It is the belief in force and a preference for settling
things by force instead of by agreement that threatens or destroys
nationality. And I have given an indication of the fact that it is not
merely war, but the preparation for war, implying as it does great
homogeneity in states and centralised bureaucratic control, which is
to-day the great enemy of nationality. Before this tendency to
centralisation which military necessity sets up much that gives colour
and charm to European life is disappearing. And yet we are told that it
is the Pacifists who are the enemy of nationality, and we are led to
believe that in some way the war system in Europe stands for the
preservation of nationality!

[Footnote 3: Review of Reviews, November, 1912.]

[Footnote 4: In the "Daily Mail," to whose Editor I am indebted for
permission to reprint it.]



This war and "the Turks of Britain and Prussia"--The Anglo-Saxon and
opposed ideals--Mr. C. Chesterton's case for "killing and being killed"
as the best method of settling differences--Its application to Civil
Conflicts--As in Spanish-America--The difference between Devonshire and
Venezuela--Will the Balkans adopt the Turco-Venezuelan political ideals
or the British?

An English political writer remarked, on it becoming evident that the
Christian States were driving back the Turks: "This is a staggering blow
to _all_ the Turks--those of England and Prussia as well as those of

But, of course, the British and Prussian Turks will never see it--like
the Bourbons, they learn not. Here is a typically military system, the
work of "born fighters" which has gone down in welter before the
assaults of much less military States, the chief of which, indeed, has
grown up in what Captain von Herbert has called, with some contempt,
"stagnant and enfeebling peace conditions," formed by the people whom
the Turks regarded as quite unfit to be made into warriors; whom they
regarded much as some Europeans regard the Jews. It is the Christian
populations of the Balkans who were the traders and workers--those
brought most under economic influences; it was the Turks who escaped
those influences. A few years since, I wrote: "If the conqueror profits
much by his conquest, as the Romans in one sense did, it is the
conqueror who is threatened by the enervating effect of the soft and
luxurious life; while it is the conquered who are forced to labour for
the conqueror, and who learn in consequence those qualities of steady
industry which are certainly a better moral training than living upon
the fruits of others, upon labour extorted at the sword's point. It is
the conqueror who becomes effete, and it is the conquered who learn
discipline and the qualities making for a well-ordered State."

Could we ask a better illustration than the history of the Turk and his
Christian victims? I exemplified the matter thus: "If during long
periods a nation gives itself up to war, trade languishes, the
population loses the habit of steady industry, government and
administration become corrupt, abuses escape punishment, and the real
sources of a people's strength and expansion dwindle. What has caused
the relative failure and decline of Spanish, Portuguese, and French
expansion in Asia and the New World, and the relative success of English
expansion therein? Was it the mere hazards of war which gave to Great
Britain the domination of India and half of the New World? That is
surely a superficial reading of history. It was, rather, that the
methods and processes of Spain, Portugal, and France were military,
while those of the Anglo-Saxon world were commercial and peaceful. Is it
not a commonplace that in India, quite as much as in the New World, the
trader and the settler drove out the soldier and the conqueror? The
difference between the two methods was that one was a process of
conquest, and the other of colonizing, or non-military administration
for commercial purposes. The one embodied the sordid Cobdenite idea,
which so excites the scorn of the militarists, and the other the lofty
military ideal. The one was parasitism; the other co-operation....

"How may we sum up the whole case, keeping in mind every empire that
ever existed--the Assyrian, the Babylonian, the Mede and Persian, the
Macedonian, the Roman, the Frank, the Saxon, the Spanish, the
Portuguese, the Bourbon, the Napoleonic? In all and every one of them we
may see the same process, which is this: If it remains military it
decays; if it prospers and takes its share of the work of the world it
ceases to be military. There is no other reading of history."

But despite these very plain lessons, there are many amongst us who
regard physical conflict as the ideal form of human relationship;
"killing and being killed" as the best way to determine the settlement
of differences, and a society which drifts from these ideals as on the
high road to degeneration, and who deem those who set before themselves
the ideal of abolishing or attenuating poverty for the mass of men, "low
and sordid."

Thus Mr. Cecil Chesterton[5]:

     In essence Mr. Angell's query is: "Should usurers go to war?"

     I may say, in passing, that I am not clear that even on the
     question thus raised Mr. Angell makes out his case. His case,
     broadly stated, is that the net of "Finance"--or, to put it
     plainer, Cosmopolitan Usury--which is at present spread over Europe
     would be disastrously torn by any considerable war; and that in
     consequence it is to the interest of the usurers to preserve peace.
     But here, it seems to me, we must make a clear differentiation. It
     may easily be to the interest of a particular usurer, or group of
     usurers, to provoke war; that very financial crisis which Mr.
     Angell anticipates may quite probably be a source of profit to
     them. That it would not be to the interest of a nation of usurers
     to fight is very probable. That such a nation would not fight, or,
     if it did, would be exceedingly badly beaten, is certain. But that
     only serves to raise the further question of whether it is to the
     ultimate advantage of a nation to repose upon usury; and whether
     the breaking of the net of usury which at present unquestionably
     holds Europe in captivity would not be for the advantage, as it
     would clearly be for the honour, of our race.... The sword is too
     sacred a thing to be prostituted to such dirty purposes. But
     whether he succeeds or fails in this attempt, it will make no
     difference to the mass of plain men who, when they fight and risk
     their lives, do not do so in the expectation of obtaining a certain
     interest on their capital, but for quite other reasons.

     Mr. Angell's latest appeal comes, I think, at an unfortunate
     moment. It is not merely that the Balkan States have refused to be
     convinced by Mr. Angell as to their chances of commercial profit
     from the war. It is that if Mr. Angell had succeeded to the fullest
     extent in convincing them that there was not a quarter per cent. to
     be made out of the war, nay, that--horrible thought!--they would
     actually be poorer at the end of the war than at the beginning,
     they would have gone to war all the same.

     Since Mr. Angell's argument clearly applies as much or more to
     civil as to international conflicts, I may perhaps be allowed to
     turn to civil conflicts to make clear my meaning. In this country
     during the last three centuries one solid thing has been done. The
     power of Parliament was pitted in battle against the power of the
     Crown, and won. As a result, for good or evil, Parliament really is
     stronger than the Crown to-day. The power of the mass of the
     people to control Parliament has been given as far as mere
     legislation could give it. We all know that it is a sham. And if
     you ask what it is that makes the difference of reality between the
     two cases, it is this: that men killed and were killed for the one
     thing and not for the other.

     I have no space to develop all that I should like to say about the
     indirect effects of war. All I will say is this, that men do judge,
     and always will judge, things by the ultimate test of how they
     fight. The German victory of forty years ago has produced not only
     an astonishing expansion, industrial as well as political of
     Germany, but has (most disastrously, as I think) infected Europe
     with German ideas, especially with the idea that you make a nation
     strong by making its people behave like cattle. God send that I may
     live to see the day when victorious armies from Gaul shall shatter
     this illusion, burn up Prussianism with all its Police Regulations,
     Insurance Acts, Poll Taxes, and insults to the poor, and reassert
     the Republic. It will never be done in any other way.

     If arbitration is ever to take the place of war, it must be backed
     by a corresponding array of physical force. Now the question
     immediately arises: Are we prepared to arm any International
     Tribunal with any such powers? Personally, I am not.... Turn back
     some fifty years to the great struggle for the emancipation of
     Italy. Suppose that a Hague Tribunal had then been in existence,
     armed with coercive powers. The dispute between Austria and
     Sardinia must have been referred to that tribunal. That tribunal
     must have been guided by existing treaties. The Treaty of Vienna
     was perhaps the most authoritative ever entered into by European
     Powers. By that treaty, Venice and Lombardy were unquestionably
     assigned to Austria. A just tribunal administering international
     law _must_ have decided in favour of Austria, and have used the
     whole armed force of Europe to coerce Italy into submission. Are
     those Pacifists, who try at the same time to be Democrats, prepared
     to acquiesce in such a conclusion? Personally, I am not.

I replied as follows:

     Mr. Cecil Chesterton says that the question which I have raised is
     this: "Should usurers go to war?"

     That, of course, is not true. I have never, even by implication,
     put such a problem, and there is nothing in the article which he
     criticises, nor in any other statement of my own, that justifies
     it. What I have asked is whether peoples should go to war.

     I should have thought it was pretty obvious that, whatever happens,
     usurers do not go to war: the peoples go to war, and the peoples
     pay, and the whole question is whether they should go on making war
     and paying for it. Mr. Chesterton says that if they are wise they
     will; I say that if they are wise they will not.

     I have attempted to show that the prosperity of peoples--by which,
     of course, one means the diminution of poverty, better houses, soap
     and water, healthy children, lives prolonged, conditions
     sufficiently good to ensure leisure and family affection, fuller
     and completer lives generally--is not secured by fighting one
     another, but by co-operation and labour, by a better organisation
     of society, by improved human relationship, which, of course, can
     only come of better understanding of the conditions of that
     relationship, which better understanding means discussion,
     adjustment, a desire and capacity to see the point of view of the
     other man--of all of which war and its philosophy is the negation.

     To all of this Mr. Chesterton replies: "That only concerns the Jews
     and the moneylenders." Again, this is not true. It concerns all of
     us, like all problems of our struggle with Nature. It is in part at
     least an economic problem, and that part of it is best stated in
     the more exact and precise terms that I have employed to deal with
     it--the term's of the market-place. But to imply that the
     conditions that there obtain are the affair merely of bankers and
     financiers, to imply that these things do not touch the lives of
     the mass, is simply to talk a nonsense the meaninglessness of which
     only escapes some of us because in these matters we happen to be
     very ignorant. It is not mainly usurers who suffer from bad finance
     and bad economics (one may suggest that they are not quite so
     simple); it is mainly the people as a whole.

     Mr. Chesterton says that we should break this "net of usury" in
     which the peoples are enmeshed. I agree heartily; but that net has
     been woven mainly by war (and that diversion of energy and
     attention from social management which war involves), and is, so
     far as the debts of the European States are concerned (so large an
     element of usury), almost solely the outcome of war. And if the
     peoples go on piling up debt, as they must if they are to go on
     piling up armaments (as Mr. Chesterton wants them to), giving the
     best of their attention and emotion to sheer physical conflict,
     instead of to organisation and understanding, they will merely
     weave that web of debt and usury still closer; it will load us more
     heavily and strangle us to a still greater extent. If usury is the
     enemy, the remedy is to fight usury. Mr. Chesterton says the remedy
     is for its victims to fight one another.

     And you will not fight usury by hanging Rothschilds, for usury is
     worst where that sort of thing is resorted to. Widespread debt is
     the outcome of bad management and incompetence, economic or social,
     and only better management will remedy it. Mr. Chesterton is sure
     that better management is only arrived at by "killing and being
     killed." He really does urge this method even in civil matters. (He
     tells us that the power of Parliament over the Crown is real, and
     that of the people over Parliament a sham, "because men killed and
     were killed for the one, and not for the other.") It is the method
     of Spanish America where it is applied more frankly and logically,
     and where still, in many places, elections are a military affair,
     the questions at issue being settled by killing and being killed,
     instead of by the cowardly, pacifist methods current in Europe. The
     result gives us the really military civilisations of Venezuela,
     Colombia, Nicaragua, and Paraguay. And, although the English system
     may have many defects--I think it has--those defects exist in a
     still greater degree where force "settles" the matters in dispute,
     where the bullet replaces the ballot, and where bayonets are
     resorted to instead of brains. For Devonshire is better than
     Nicaragua. Really it is. And it would get us out of none of our
     troubles for one group to impose its views simply by preponderant
     physical force, for Mr. Asquith, for instance, in the true Castro
     or Zuyala manner, to announce that henceforth all critics of the
     Insurance Act are to be shot, and that the present Cabinet will
     hold office as long as it can depend upon the support of the Army.
     For, even if the country rose in rebellion, and fought it out and
     won, the successful party would (if they also believed in force) do
     exactly the same thing to _their_ opponents; and so it would go on
     never-endingly (as it has gone on during weary centuries throughout
     the larger part of South America), until the two parties came once
     more to their senses, and agreed not to use force when they
     happened to be able to do so; which is our present condition. But
     it is the condition of England merely because the English, as a
     whole, have ceased to believe in Mr. Chesterton's principles; it is
     not yet the condition of Venezuela because the Venezuelans have not
     yet ceased to believe those principles, though even they are
     beginning to.

     Mr. Chesterton says: "Men do judge, and always will judge, by the
     ultimate test of how they fight." The pirate who gives his blood
     has a better right, therefore, to the ship than the merchant (who
     may be a usurer!) who only gives his money. Well, that is the view
     which was all but universal well into the period of what, for want
     of a better word, we call civilisation. Not only was it the basis
     of all such institutions as the ordeal and duel; not only did it
     justify (and in the opinion of some still justifies) the wars of
     religion and the use of force in religious matters generally; not
     only was it the accepted national polity of such communities as the
     Vikings, the Barbary States, and the Red Indians; but it is still,
     unfortunately, the polity of certain European states. But the idea
     is a survival and--and this is the important point--an admission of
     failure to understand where right lies: to "fight it out" is the
     remedy of the boy who for the life of him cannot see who is right
     and who is wrong.

     At ten years of age we are all quite sure that piracy is a finer
     calling than trade, and the pirate a finer fellow than the Shylock
     who owns the ship--which, indeed, he may well be. But as we grow up
     (which some of the best of us never do) we realise that piracy is
     not the best way to establish the ownership of cargoes, any more
     than the ordeal is the way to settle cases at law, or the rack of
     proving a dogma, or the Spanish American method the way to settle
     differences between Liberals and Conservatives.

     And just as civil adjustments are made most efficiently, as they
     are in England (say), as distinct from South America, by a general
     agreement not to resort to force, so it is the English method in
     the international field which gives better results than that based
     on force. The relationship of Great Britain to Canada or Australia
     is preferable to the relationship of Russia to Finland or Poland,
     or Germany to Alsace-Lorraine. The five nations of the British
     Empire have, by agreement, abandoned the use of force as between
     themselves. Australia may do us an injury--exclude our subjects,
     English or Indian, and expose them to insult--but we know very well
     that force will not be used against her. To withhold such force is
     the basis of the relationship of these five nations; and, given a
     corresponding development of ideas, might equally well be the basis
     of the relationship of fifteen--about all the nations of the world
     who could possibly fight. The difficulties Mr. Chesterton
     imagines--an international tribunal deciding in favour of Austria
     concerning the recession of Venice and Lombardy, and summoning the
     forces of United Europe to coerce Italy into submission--are, of
     course, based on the assumption that a United Europe, having
     arrived at such understanding as to be able to sink its
     differences, would be the same kind of Europe that it is now, or
     was a generation ago. If European statecraft advances sufficiently
     to surrender the use of force against neighbouring states, it will
     have advanced sufficiently to surrender the use of force against
     unwilling provinces, as in some measure British statesmanship has
     already done. To raise the difficulty that Mr. Chesterton does is
     much the same as assuming that a court of law in San Domingo or
     Turkey will give the same results as a court of law in Great
     Britain, because the form of the mechanism is the same. And does
     Mr. Chesterton suggest that the war system settles these matters to
     perfection? That it has worked satisfactorily in Ireland and
     Finland, or, for the matter of that, in Albania or Macedonia?

     For if Mr. Chesterton urges that killing and being killed is the
     way to determine the best means of governing a country, it is his
     business to defend the Turk, who has adopted that principle during
     four hundred years, not the Christians, who want to bring that
     method to an end and adopt another. And I would ask no better
     example of the utter failure of the principles that I combat and
     Mr. Chesterton defends than their failure in the Balkan Peninsula.

     This war is due to the vile character of Turkish rule, and the
     Turk's rule is vile because it is based on the sword. Like Mr.
     Chesterton (and our pirate), the Turk believes in the right of
     conquest, "the ultimate test of how they fight." "The history of
     the Turks," says Sir Charles Elliott, "is almost exclusively a
     catalogue of battles." He has lived (for the most gloriously
     uneconomic person has to live, to follow a trade of some sort, even
     if it be that of theft) on tribute exacted from the Christian
     populations, and extorted, not in return for any work of
     administration, but simply because he was the stronger. And that
     has made his rule intolerable, and is the cause of this war.

     Now, my whole thesis is that understanding, work, co-operation,
     adjustment, must be the basis of human society; that conquest as a
     means of achieving national advantage must fail; that to base your
     prosperity or means of livelihood, your economic system, in short,
     upon having more force than someone else, and exercising it against
     him, is an impossible form of human relationship that is bound to
     break down. And Mr. Chesterton says that the war in the Balkans
     demolishes this thesis. I do not agree with him.

     The present war in the Balkans is an attempt--and happily a
     successful one--to bring this reign of force and conquest to an
     end, and that is why those of us who do not believe in military
     force rejoice.

     The debater, more concerned with verbal consistency than realities
     and the establishment of sound principles, will say that this means
     the approval of war. It does not; it merely means the choice of the
     less evil of two forms of war. War has been going on in the
     Balkans, not for a month, but has been waged by the Turks daily
     against these populations for 400 years.

     The Balkan peoples have now brought to an end a system of rule
     based simply upon the accident of force--"killing and being
     killed." And whether good or ill comes of this war will depend upon
     whether they set up a similar system or one more in consonance with
     pacifist principles. I believe they will choose the latter course;
     that is to say, they will continue to co-operate between themselves
     instead of fighting between themselves; they will settle
     differences by discussion, adjustment, not force. But if they are
     guided by Mr. Chesterton's principle, if each one of the Balkan
     nations is determined to impose its own especial point of view, to
     refuse all settlement by co-operation and understanding, where it
     can resort to force--why, in that case, the strongest (presumably
     Bulgaria) will start conquering the rest, start imposing government
     by force, and will listen to no discussion or argument; will
     simply, in short, take the place of the Turk in the matter, and the
     old weary contest will begin afresh, and we shall have the Turkish
     system under a new name, until that in its turn is destroyed, and
     the whole process begun again _da capo_. And if Mr. Chesterton says
     that this is not his philosophy, and that he would recommend the
     Balkan nations to come to an understanding, and co-operate
     together, instead of fighting one another, why does he give
     different counsels to the nations of Christendom as a whole? If it
     is well for the Balkan peoples to abandon conflict as between
     themselves in favour of co-operation against the common enemy, why
     is it ill for the other Christian peoples to abandon such conflict
     in favour of co-operation against their common enemy, which is wild
     nature and human error, ignorance and passion.

[Footnote 5: From "Everyman" to whose Editor I am indebted for
permission to print my reply.]



Mr. Winston Churchill on the "Responsibility" of Diplomacy--What does he
mean?--An easy (and popular) philosophy--Can we neglect past if we would
avoid future errors?--British temper and policy in the Crimean War--What
are its lessons?--Why we fought a war to sustain the "integrity and
independence of the Turkish dominion in Europe"--Supporting the Turk
against his Christian victims--From fear of Russian growth which we are
now aiding--The commentary of events--Shall we back the wrong horse

     Here was a war which had broken out in spite of all that rulers and
     diplomatists could do to prevent it, a war in which the Press had
     had no part, a war which the whole force of the money power had
     been subtly and steadfastly directed to prevent, which had come
     upon us not through the ignorance or credulity of the people; but,
     on the contrary, through their knowledge of their history and their
     destiny.... Who is the man who is vain enough to suppose that the
     long antagonisms of history and of time can in all circumstances be
     adjusted by the smooth and superficial conventions of politicians
     and ambassadors?

Thus Mr. Churchill. It is a plea for the inevitability, not merely of
war, but of a people's "destiny."

What precisely does it mean? Does it mean that the European Powers have
in the past been entirely wise and honest, have never intrigued with
the Turk the one against the other, have always kept good faith, have
never been inspired by false political theories and tawdry and shoddy
ideals, have, in short, no responsibility for the abominations that have
gone on in the Balkan peninsula for a century? No one outside a lunatic
asylum would urge it. But, then, that means that diplomacy has _not_
done all it might to prevent this war. Why does Mr. Churchill say it

And does the passage I have quoted mean that we--that English
diplomacy--has had no part in European diplomacy in the past? Have we
not, on the contrary, by universal admission played a predominant role
by backing the wrong horse?

But, then, that is not a popular thing to point out, and Mr. Churchill
is very careful not to point it out in any way that could give
justification to an unpopular view or discredit a popular one. He is,
however, far too able a Cabinet Minister to ignore obvious facts, and it
is interesting to note how he disposes of them. Observe the following

     For the drama or tragedy which is moving to its climax in the
     Balkans we all have our responsibilities, and none of us can escape
     our share of them by blaming others or by blaming the Turk. If
     there is any man here who, looking back over the last 35 years,
     thinks he knows where to fix the sole responsibility for all the
     procrastination and provocation, for all the jealousies and
     rivalries, for all the religious and racial animosities, which have
     worked together for this result, I do not envy him his
     complacency.... Whether we blame the belligerents or criticise the
     Powers or sit in sackcloth and ashes ourselves is absolutely of no
     consequence at the present moment.

Now if for this tragedy we "all have our responsibility," then what
becomes of his first statement that the war is raging despite all that
rulers and diplomats could do to prevent it? If the war was
"inevitable," and rulers and diplomats have done all they could to
prevent it, neither they nor we have any responsibility for it. He
knows, of course, that it is impossible to deny that responsibility,
that our errors in the past _have_ been due not to any lack of readiness
to fight or quarrel with foreign nations, but precisely to the tendency
to do those things and our _in_disposition to set aside instinctive and
reasonless jealousies and rivalries in favour of a deeper sense of
responsibility and a somewhat longer vision.

But, again, this quite obvious moral, that if we have our
responsibility, if, in other words, we have _not_ done all that we might
and _have_ been led away by temper and passion, we should, in order to
avoid a repetition of such errors in the future, try and see where we
have erred in the past, is precisely the moral that Mr. Churchill does
_not_ draw. Again, it is not the popular line to show with any
definiteness that we have been wrong. An abstract proposition that "we
all have our responsibilities," is, while a formal admission of the
obvious fact also at the same time, an excuse, almost a justification.
You realise Mr. Churchill's method: Having made the necessary admission
of fact, you immediately prevent any unpleasant (or unpopular) practical
conclusion concerning our duty in the matter by talking of the
"complacency" of those who would fix any real and definite part of the
responsibility upon you. (Because, of course, no man, knows where lies,
and no one would ever attempt to fix, the "sole" responsibility).
Incidentally, one might point out to Mr. Churchill that the attempt to
see the errors of past conduct and to avoid them in the future is _not_
complacency, but that airily to dismiss our responsibility by saying
that it is of "no consequence whether we sit in sackcloth and ashes"
_is_ complacency.

Mr. Churchill's idea seems to be that men should forget their
errors--and commit them again. For that is what it amounts to. We
cannot, indeed, undo the past, that is true; but we can prevent it
being repeated. But we certainly shall not prevent such repetition if we
hug the easy doctrine that we have always been right--that it is not
worth while to see how our principles have worked out in practice, to
take stock of our experience, and to see what results the principles we
propose again to put into operation, have given.

The practical thing for us if we would avoid like errors in the future
is to see where _our_ responsibility lies--a thing which we shall never
do if we are governed by the net impression which disengages itself from
speeches like those of Mr. Churchill. For the net result of that speech,
the impression, despite a few shrewd qualifications which do not in
reality affect that net result but which may be useful later wherewith
to silence critics, is that war is inevitable, a matter of "destiny,"
that diplomacy--the policy pursued by the respective powers--can do
nothing to prevent it; that as brute force is the one and final appeal
the only practical policy is to have plenty of armaments and to show a
great readiness to fight; that it is futile to worry about past errors;
(especially as an examination of them would go a long way to discredit
the policy just indicated); that the troublesome and unpopular people
who in the past happen to have kept their heads during a prevailing
dementia--and whose policy happens to have been as right as that of the
popular side was wrong--can be dismissed with left-handed references to
"complacency," This sort of thing is popular enough, of course, but--

Well, I will take the risks of a tactic which is the exact contrary to
that adopted by Mr. Churchill and would urge upon those whose patriotism
is not of the order which is ready to see their country in the wrong and
who do feel some responsibility for its national policy, to ask
themselves these questions:

Is it true that the Powers could have prevented in large measure the
abominations which Turkey has practised in the Balkans for the last
half-century or so?

Has our own policy been a large factor in determining that of the

Has our own policy directly prevented in the past the triumph of the
Christian populations which, despite that policy, has finally taken

Was our own policy at fault when we were led into a war to ensure the
"integrity and independence of the Turkish dominions in Europe"?

Is the general conception of Statecraft on which that policy has been
based--the "Balance of Power" which presupposes the necessary rivalry of
nations and which in the past has led to oppose Russia as it is now
leading to oppose Germany--sound, and has it been justified in history?

Did we give due weight to the considerations urged by the public men of
the past who opposed such features of this policy as the Crimean War;
was the immense popularity of that war any test of its wisdom; were the
rancour, hatred and scorn poured upon those men just or deserved?

       *       *       *       *       *

Now the first four of these questions have been answered by history and
are answered by every one to-day in an emphatic affirmative. This is not
the opinion of a Pacifist partisan. Even the _Times_ is constrained to
admit that "these futile conflicts might have ended years ago, if it had
not been for the quarrels of the Western nations."[6] And as to the
Crimean War, has not the greatest Conservative foreign minister of the
nineteenth century admitted that "we backed the wrong horse"--and, what
is far more to the point, have not events unmistakably demonstrated it?

Do we quite realise that if foreign policy had that continuity which
the political pundits pretend, we should now be fighting on the side of
the Turk against the Balkan States? That we have entered into solemn
treaty obligations, as part of our national policy, to guarantee for
ever the "integrity and independence of the Turkish dominions in
Europe," that we fought a great and popular war to prevent that triumph
of the Christian population which will arise as the result of the
present war? That but for this policy which caused us to maintain the
Turk in Europe the present war would certainly not be raging, and, what
is much more to the point, that but for our policy the abominations
which have provoked it and which it is its object to terminate, would so
far as human reason can judge at all have been brought to an end
generations since? Do we quite realise that _we_ are in large part
responsible, not merely for the war, but for the long agony of horror
which have provoked it and made it necessary; that when we talk of the
jealousies and rivalries of the Powers as playing so large a part in the
responsibility for these things, we represent, perhaps, the chief among
those jealousies and rivalries? That it is not mainly the Turk nor the
Russian nor the Austrian which has determined the course of history in
the Balkan peninsular since the middle of the 19th century, but we
Englishmen--the country gentleman obsessed by vague theories of the
Balance of Power and heaven knows what, reading his _Times_ and barking
out his preposterous politics over the dinner table? That this fatal
policy was dictated simply by fear of the growth of "Russian barbarism
and autocracy" and "the overshadowing of the Western nations by a
country whose institutions are inimical to our own"? That while we were
thus led into war by a phantom danger to our Indian possessions, we were
quite blind to the real danger which threatened them, which a year or
two later, in the Mutiny, nearly lost us them and which were not due to
the machinations of a rival power but to our own misgovernment; that
this very "barbaric growth" and expansion towards India which we fought
a war to check we are now actively promoting in Persia and elsewhere by
our (effective) alliance? That while as recently as fifteen years ago we
would have gone to war to prevent any move of Russia towards the Indian
frontier, we are to-day actually encouraging her to build a railway
there? And that it is now another nation which stands as the natural
barrier to Russian expansion to the West--Germany--whose power we are
challenging, and that all tendencies point to our backing again the
wrong horse, to our fighting _with_ the "semi-Asiatic barbarian" (as our
fathers used to call him) against the nation which has close racial and
cultural affinity to our own, just as half a century since the same
fatal obsession about the "Balance of Power" led us to fight with the
Mohammedan in order to bolster up for half a century his anti-Christian

The misreading of history in this matter is, unfortunately, not
possible. The point upon which in the Crimean war the negotiations with
Russia finally broke was the claim, based upon her reading of the Vienna
note, to stand as religious protector of the Greek Christians in the
Balkan peninsular. That was the pivot of the whole negotiations, and the
war was the outcome of our support of the Turkish view--or, rather, our
conduct of Turkish policy, for throughout the whole period England was
conducting the Turkish negotiations; indeed, as Bright said at the time,
she was carrying on the Turkish Government and ruling the Turkish Empire
through her ministers in Constantinople.

I will quote a speech of the period made in the House of Commons. It was
as follows:

     Our opponents seem actuated by a frantic and bitter hostility to
     Russia, and, without considering the calamities in which they might
     involve this country, they have sought to urge it into a great war,
     as they imagined, on behalf of European freedom, and in order to
     cripple the resources of Russia....

     The question is, whether the advantages both to Turkey and England
     of avoiding war altogether, would have been less than those which
     are likely to arise from the policy which the Government has
     pursued? Now, if the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton is right in
     saying that Turkey is a growing power, and that she has elements of
     strength which unlearned persons like myself know nothing about;
     surely no immediate, or sensible, or permanent mischief could have
     arisen to her from the acceptance of the Vienna note, which all the
     distinguished persons who agreed to it have declared to be
     perfectly consistent with her honour and independence. If she had
     been growing stronger and stronger of late years, surely she would
     have grown still stronger in the future, and there might have been
     a reasonable expectation that, whatever disadvantages she might
     have suffered for a time from that note, her growing strength would
     have enabled her to overcome them, while the peace of Europe might
     have been preserved. But suppose that Turkey is not a growing
     power, but that the Ottoman rule in Europe is tottering to its
     fall, I come to the conclusion that, whatever advantages were
     afforded to the Christian population of Turkey would have enabled
     them to grow more rapidly in numbers, in industry, in wealth, in
     intelligence, and in political power; and that, as they thus
     increased in influence, they would have become more able, in case
     any accident, which might not be far distant, occurred, to
     supplant the Mahommedan rule, and to establish themselves in
     Constantinople as a Christian State, which, I think, every man who
     hears me will admit is infinitely more to be desired than that the
     Mahommedan power should be permanently sustained by the bayonets of
     France and the fleets of England. Europe would thus have been at
     peace; for I do not think even the most bitter enemies of Russia
     believe that the Emperor of Russia intended last year, if the
     Vienna note or Prince Menchikoff's last and most moderate
     proposition had been accepted, to have marched on Constantinople.
     Indeed, he had pledged himself in the most distinct manner to
     withdraw his troops at once from the Principalities, if the Vienna
     note were accepted; and therefore in that case Turkey would have
     been delivered from the presence of the foe; peace would for a time
     have been secured for Europe; and the whole matter would have
     drifted on to its natural solution--which is, that the Mahommedan
     power in Europe should eventually succumb to the growing power of
     the Christian population of the Turkish territories.

Now, looking back upon what has since happened, which view shows the
greater wisdom and prevision? That of the man who delivered this speech
(and he was John Bright) or those against whom he spoke? To which set of
principles has time given the greater justification?

Yet upon the men who resisted what we all admit, in this case at least,
to have been the false theories and who supported, what we equally admit
now, to have been the right principles, we poured the same sort of
ferocious contempt that we are apt now spasmodically to pour upon those
who, sixty years later, would prevent our drifting in the same blind
fashion into a war just as futile and bound to be infinitely more
disastrous--a war embodying the same "principles" supported by just the
same theories and just the same arguments which led us into this other

I know full well the prejudice which the names I am about to cite is apt
to cause. We poured out upon the men who bore them a rancour, contempt
and hatred which few men in English public life have had to face.
Morley, in his life of Cobden, says of these two men--Cobden and Bright:

     They had, as Lord Palmerston said, the whole world against them. It
     was not merely the august personages of the Court, nor the
     illustrious veterans in Government and diplomacy, nor the most
     experienced politicians in Parliament, nor the powerful
     journalists, nor the men versed in great affairs of business. It
     was no light thing to confront even that solid mass of hostile
     judgment. But besides all this, Cobden and Mr. Bright knew that the
     country at large, even their trusty middle and industrial classes,
     had turned their faces resolutely and angrily away from them. Their
     own great instrument, the public meeting, was no longer theirs to
     wield. The army of the Nonconformists, which has so seldom been
     found fighting on the wrong side, was seriously divided.

     Public opinion was bitterly and impatiently hostile and
     intractable. Mr. Bright was burnt in effigy. Cobden, at a meeting
     in his own constituency, after an energetic vindication of his
     opinions, saw resolutions carried against him. Every morning they
     were reviled in half the newspapers in the country as enemies of
     the commonwealth. They were openly told that they were traitors,
     and that it was a pity they could not be punished as traitors.

     In the House, Lord Palmerston once began his reply by referring to
     Mr. Bright as "the Honourable and Reverend gentleman," Cobden rose
     to call him to order for this flippant and unbecoming phrase. Lord
     Palmerston said he would not quarrel about words. Then went on to
     say that he thought it right to tell Mr. Bright that his opinion
     was a matter of entire difference, and that he treated his censure
     with the most perfect indifference and contempt. On another
     occasion he showed the same unmannerliness to Cobden himself.
     Cobden had said that under certain circumstances he would fight, or
     if he could not fight, he would work for the wounded in the
     hospitals. "Well," said Lord Palmerston in reply, with the sarcasm
     of a schoolboy's debating society, "there are many people in this
     country who think that the party to which he belongs should go
     immediately into a hospital of a different kind, and which I shall
     not mention." This refined irony was a very gentle specimen of the
     insult and contumely which was poured upon Cobden and Mr. Bright at
     this time....

     It is impossible not to regard the attitude of the two objects of
     this vast unpopularity as one of the most truly honourable
     spectacles in our political history. The moral fortitude, like the
     political wisdom of these two strong men, begins to stand out with
     a splendour that already recalls the great historic heights of
     statesmanship and patriotism. Even now our heart-felt admiration
     and gratitude goes out to them as it goes out to Burke for his
     lofty and manful protests against the war with America and the
     oppression of Ireland, and to Charles Fox for his bold and
     strenuous resistance to the war with the French Republic.

Before indulging in the dementia which those names usually produce, will
the reader please note that it is not my business now to defend either
the general principles of Cobden and Bright or the political spirit
which they are supposed to represent. Let them be as sordid, mean,
unworthy, pusillanimous as you like--and as the best of us then said
they were ("a mean, vain, mischievous clique" even so good a man as Tom
Hughes could call them). We called them cowards--because practically
alone they faced a country which had become a howling mob; we called
their opponents "courageous" because with the whole country behind them
they habitually poured contempt upon the under dog.

And we thus hated these men because they did their best to dissuade us
from undertaking a certain war. Very good; we have had our war; we
carried our point, we prevented the break-up of the Turkish Empire;
those men were completely beaten. And they are dead. Cannot we afford
to set aside those old passions and see how far in one particular at
least they may have been right?

We admit, of course, if we are honest--happily everyone admits--that
these despised men were right and those who abused them were wrong. The
verdict of fact is there. Says Lord Morley:--

    When we look back upon the affairs of that time, we see that there
    were two policies open. Lord Palmerston's was one, Cobden and
    Bright's the other. If we are to compare Lord Palmerston's
    statesmanship and insight in the Eastern Question with that of his
    two great adversaries, it is hard, in the light of all that has
    happened since, to resist the conclusion that Cobden and Mr. Bright
    were right, and Lord Palmerston was disastrously wrong. It is easy
    to plead extenuating circumstances for the egregious mistakes in
    Lord Palmerston's policy about the Eastern Question, the Suez Canal,
    and some other important subjects; but the plea can only be allowed
    after it has been frankly recognized that they really were mistakes,
    and that these abused men exposed and avoided them. Lord Palmerston,
    for instance, asked why the Czar could not be "satisfied, as we all
    are, with the progressively liberal system of Turkey." Cobden, in
    his pamphlet twenty years before, insisted that this progressively
    liberal system of Turkey had no existence. Which of these two
    propositions was true may be left to the decision of those who lent
    to the Turk many millions of money on the strength of Lord
    Palmerston's ignorant and delusive assurances. It was mainly owing
    to Lord Palmerston, again, that the efforts of the war were
    concentrated at Sebastopol. Sixty thousand English and French
    troops, he said, with the co-operation of the fleets, would take
    Sebastopol in six weeks. Cobden gave reasons for thinking very
    differently, and urged that the destruction of Sebastopol, even when
    it was achieved, would neither inflict a crushing blow to Russia,
    nor prevent future attacks upon Turkey. Lord Palmerston's error may
    have been intelligible and venial; nevertheless, as a fact, he was
    in error and Cobden was not, and the error cost the nation one of
    the most unfortunate, mortifying, and absolutely useless campaigns
    in English history. Cobden held that if we were to defend Turkey
    against Russia, the true policy was to use our navy, and not to send
    a land force to the Crimea. Would any serious politician now be
    found to deny it? We might prolong the list of propositions, general
    and particular, which Lord Palmerston maintained and Cobden
    traversed, from the beginning to the end of the Russian War. There
    is not one of these propositions in which later events have not
    shown that Cobden's knowledge was greater, his judgment cooler, his
    insight more penetrating and comprehensive. The bankruptcy of the
    Turkish Government, the further dismemberment of its Empire by the
    Treaty of Berlin, the abrogation of the Black Sea Treaty, have
    already done something to convince people that the two leaders saw
    much further ahead in 1854 and 1855 than men who had passed all
    their lives in foreign chanceries and the purlieus of Downing

    It is startling to look back upon the bullying contempt which the
    man who was blind permitted himself to show to the men who could
    see. The truth is, that to Lord Palmerston it was still
    incomprehensible and intolerable that a couple of manufacturers from
    Lancashire should presume to teach him foreign policy. Still more
    offensive to him was their introduction of morality into the
    mysteries of the Foreign Office.[7]

What have peace theories to do with this war? asks the practical man,
who is the greatest mystic of all, contemptuously. Well, they have
everything to do with it. For if we had understood some peace theories a
little better a generation or two ago, if we had not allowed passion and
error and prejudice instead of reason to dominate our policy, the sum of
misery which these Balkan populations have known would have been
immeasurably less. It is quite true that we could not have prevented
this war by sending peace pamphlets to the Turk, or to the Balkanese,
for that matter, but we could have prevented it if we ourselves had read
them a generation or two since, just as our only means of preventing
future wars is by showing a little less prejudice and a little less

And the practical question, despite Mr. Churchill, is whether we shall
allow a like passion and a like prejudice again to blind us; whether we
shall again back the wrong horse in the name of the same hollow theories
drifting to a similar but greater futility and catastrophe, or whether
we shall profit by our past to assure a better future.

[Footnote 6: 14/11/12]

[Footnote 7: _The Life of Richard Cobden._--UNWIN.]



Did the Crimean War prove Bright and Cobden wrong?--Our curious
reasoning--Mr. Churchill on "illusions"--The danger of war is not the
illusion but its benefits--We are all Pacifists now since we all desire
Peace--Will more armaments alone secure it?--The experience of
mankind--War "the failure of human wisdom"--Therefore more wisdom is the
remedy--But the Militarists only want more arms--The German Lord
Roberts--The military campaign against political Rationalism--How to
make war certain.

The question surely, which for practical men stands out from the mighty
historical episode touched on in the last chapter, is this: Was the fact
that these despised men were so entirely right and their triumphant
adversaries so entirely wrong a mere fluke, or was it due to the
soundness of one set of principles and the hollowness of the other; and
were the principles special to that case, or general to international
conflict as a whole?

To have an opinion of worth on that question we must get away from
certain confusions and misrepresentations.

It is a very common habit for the Bellicist to quote the list of wars
which have taken place since the Crimean War as proof of the error of
Bright and Cobden. But what are the facts?

Here were two men who strenuously and ruthlessly opposed a certain
policy; they urged, not only that it would inevitably lead to war, but
that the war would be futile--but not sterile, for they saw that others
would grow from it. Their counsel was disregarded and the war came, and
events have proved that they were right and the war-makers wrong, and
the very fact that the wars took place is cited as disapproving their

It is a like confusion of thought which prompts Mr. Churchill to refer
to Pacifists as people who deem the _danger_ of war an illusion.

This persistent misconception is worth a little examination.

       *       *       *       *       *

The smoke from the first railway engines in England killed the cattle
and the poultry of the country gentlemen near whose property the
railroad passed--at least, that is what the country gentleman wrote to
the _Times_.

Now if in the domain of quite simple material things the dislike of
having fixed habits of thought disturbed, leads gentlemen to resent
innovations in that way, it is not astonishing that innovations of a
more intangible and elusive kind should be subject to a like unconscious
misrepresentation, especially by newspapers and public men pushed by
commercial or political necessity to say the popular thing rather than
the true thing: that contained in the speech of Mr. Churchill, which,
together with a newspaper comment thereon, I have made the "text" of
this little book, is a typical case in point.

It is possible, of course, that Mr. Churchill in talking about "persons
who profess to know that the danger of war has become an illusion," had
not the slightest intention of referring to those who share the views
embodied in "The Great Illusion," which are, _not_ that the danger of
war is an illusion, but that the benefit is. All that happened was that
his hearers and readers interpreted his words as referring thereto; and
that, of course, he could not possibly prevent.

In any case, to misrepresent an author (and I mean always, of course,
quite sincere and unconscious misrepresentations, like that which led
the country gentlemen to write that railway smoke killed poultry) is a
trifling matter, but to misrepresent an idea, is not, for it makes that
better understanding of facts, the creation of a more informed public
opinion, by which alone we can avoid a possibly colossal folly, an
understanding difficult enough as it is, still more difficult.

And that is why the current misrepresentation (again unconscious) of
most efforts at the better understanding of the facts of international
relationship needs very badly to be corrected. I will therefore be very

The implication that Pacifists of any kind have ever urged that war is
impossible is due either to that confusion of thought just touched upon,
or is merely a silly gibe of those who deride arguments to which they
have not listened, and consequently do not understand, or which they
desire to misrepresent; and such misrepresentation is, when not
unconscious, always stupid and unfair.

So far as I am concerned, I have never written a line, nor, so far as I
know, has anyone else, to plead that war is impossible. I have, on the
contrary, always urged, with the utmost emphasis that war is not only
possible but extremely likely, so long as we remain as ignorant as we
are concerning what it can accomplish, and unless we use our energies
and efforts to prevent it, instead of directing those efforts to create
it. What anti-Bellicists as a whole urge, is not that war is impossible
or improbable, but that it is impossible to benefit by it; that conquest
must, in the long run, fail to achieve advantage; that the general
recognition of this can only add to our security. And incidentally most
of us have declared our complete readiness to take any demonstrably
necessary measure for the maintenance of armament, but urge that the
effort must not stop there.

One is justified in wondering whether the public men--statesmen,
soldiers, bishops, preachers, journalists--who indulge in this gibe, are
really unable to distinguish between the plea that a thing is unwise,
foolish, and the plea that it is impossible; whether they really suppose
that anyone in our time could argue that human folly is impossible, or
an "illusion." It is quite evidently a tragic reality. Undoubtedly the
readiness with which these critics thus fall back upon confusion
of thought indicates that they themselves have illimitable confidence in
it. But the confusion of thought does not stop here.

I have spoken of Pacifists and Bellicists, but, of course, we are all
Pacifists now. Lord Roberts, Lord Charles Beresford, Lord Fisher, Mr.
Winston Churchill, The Navy League, the Navier League, the Universal
Military Service League, the German Emperor, the Editor of _The
Spectator_, all the Chancelleries of Europe, alike declare that their
one object is the maintenance of peace. Never were such Pacifists. The
German Emperor, speaking to his army, invariably points out that they
stand for the peace of Europe. Does a First Lord want new ships? It is
because a strong British Navy is the best guarantee of peace. Lord
Roberts wants conscription because that is the one way to preserve
peace, and the Editor of _The Spectator_ tells us that Turkey's great
crime is that she has not paid enough attention to soldiering and
armament, that if only she had been stronger all would have been well.
All alike are quite persuaded indeed that the one way to peace is to get
more armament.

Well, that is the method that mankind has pursued during the whole of
its history; it has never shown the least disposition not to take this
advice and not to try this method to the full. And written history, to
say nothing of unwritten history, is there to tell us how well it has

Unhappily, one has to ask whether some of these military Pacifists
really want it to succeed? Again I do not tax any with conscious
insincerity. But it does result not merely from what some imply, but
from what they say. For certain of these doughty Pacifists having told
you how much their one object is to secure peace, then proceed to tell
you that this thing which they hope to secure is a very evil thing, that
under its blighting influence nations wane in luxury and sloth. And of
course they imply that our own nation, about a third of whom have not
enough to eat and about another third of whom have a heart-breaking
struggle with small means and precariousness of livelihood, is in danger
of this degeneration which comes from too much wealth and luxury and
sloth and ease. I could fill a dozen books the size of this with the
solemn warning of such Pacifists as these against the danger of peace
(which they tell you they are struggling to maintain), and how splendid
and glorious a thing, how fine a discipline is war (which they tell you
they are trying so hard to avoid). Thus the Editor of _The Spectator_
tells us that mankind cannot yet dispense with the discipline of war;
and Lord Roberts, that to make war when you are really ready for it (or
that in any case for Germany to do it) is "an excellent policy and one
to be pursued by every nation prepared to play a great part in history."

The truth is, of course, that we are not likely to get peace from those
who believe it to be an evil thing and war and aggression a good thing,
or, at least, are very mixed in their views as to this. Before men can
secure peace they must at least make up their minds whether it is peace
or war they want. If you do not know what you want, you are not likely
to get it--or you are likely to get it, whichever way you prefer to put

And that is another thing which divides us from the military Pacifists:
we really do want peace. As between war and peace we have made our
choice, and having made it, stick to it. There may be something to be
said for war--for settling a thing by fighting about it instead of by
understanding it,--just as there may be something to be said for the
ordeal, or the duel, as against trial by evidence, for the rack as a
corrective of religious error, for judicial torture as a substitute for
cross-examination, for religious wars, for all these things--but the
balance of advantage is against them and we have discarded them.

But there is a still further difference which divides us: We have
realised that we discarded those things only when we really understood
their imperfections and that we arrived at that understanding by
studying them, by discussing them,--because one man in London or another
in Paris raised plainly and boldly the whole question of their wisdom
and because the intellectual ferment created by those interrogations,
either in the juridical or religious field, re-acted on the minds of men
in Geneva or Wurtenburg or Rome or Madrid. It was by this means, not by
improving the rapiers or improving the instruments of the inquisition,
that we got rid of the duel and that Catholics ceased to torture
Protestants or _vice versa_. We gave these things up because we realised
the futility of physical force in these conflicts. We shall give up war
for the same reason.

But the Bellicist says that discussions of this sort, these attempts to
find out the truth, are but the encouragement of pernicious theories:
there is, according to him, but one way--better rapiers, more and better
racks, more and better inquisitions.

Mr. Bonar Law, in one of the very wisest phrases ever pronounced by a
statesman, has declared that "war is the failure of human wisdom."

That is the whole case of Pacifism: we shall not improve except at the
price of using our reason in these matters; of understanding them
better. Surely it is a truism that that is the price of all progress;
saner conceptions--man's recognition of his mistakes, whether those
mistakes take the form of cannibalism, slavery, torture, superstition,
tyranny, false laws, or what you will. The veriest savage, or for that
matter the ape, can blindly fight, but whether the animal develops into
a man, or the savage into civilized man, depends upon whether the
element of reason enters in an increasing degree into the solution of
his problems.

The Militarist argues otherwise. He admits the difficulty comes from
man's small disposition to think; therefore don't think--fight. We
fight, he says, because we have insufficient wisdom in these matters;
therefore do not let us trouble to get more wisdom or understanding; all
we need do is to get better weapons. I am not misrepresenting him; that
is quite fairly the popular line: it is no use talking about these
things or trying to explain them, all that is logic and theories; what
you want to do is to get a bigger army or more battleships. And, of
course, the Bellicist on the other side of the frontier says exactly the
same thing, and I am still waiting to have explained to me how,
therefore, if this matter depends upon understanding, we can ever solve
it by neglecting understanding, which the Militarist urges us to do. Not
only does he admit, but pleads, that these things are complex, and
supposes that that is an argument why they should not be studied.

And a third distinction will, I think, make the difference between us
still clearer. Like the Bellicist, I am in favour of defence. If in a
duelling society a duellist attacked me, or, as a Huguenot in the Paris
of the sixteenth century a Catholic had attacked me, I should certainly
have defended myself, and if needs be have killed my aggressor. But that
attitude would not have prevented my doing my small part in the creation
of a public opinion which should make duelling or such things as the
massacre of St. Bartholomew impossible by showing how unsatisfactory and
futile they were; and I should know perfectly well that neither would
stop until public opinion had, as the result of education of one kind or
another, realised their futility. But it is as certain as anything can
be that the Churchills of that society or of that day would have been
vociferous in declaring (as in the case of the duel they still to-day
declare in Prussia) that this attempt to prove the futility of duelling
was not only a bad and pernicious campaign, but was in reality a subtle
attempt to get people killed in the street by bullies, and that those
who valued their security would do their best to discredit all
anti-duelling propaganda--by misrepresentation, if needs be.

Let this matter be quite clear. No one who need be considered in this
discussion would think of criticising Lord Roberts for wanting the army,
and Mr. Churchill for wanting the navy, to be as good and efficient as
possible and as large as necessary. Personally--and I speak, I know, for
many of my colleagues in the anti-war movement--I would be prepared to
support British conscription if it be demonstrably wise or necessary.
But what we criticise is the persistent effort to discredit honest
attempts at a better understanding of the facts of international
relationship, the everlasting gibe which it is thought necessary to
fling at any constructive effort, apart from armament, to make peace
secure. These men profess to be friends of peace, they profess to
regret the growth of armament, to deplore the unwisdom, ignorance,
prejudice and misunderstanding out of which the whole thing grows, but
immediately there is any definite effort to correct this unwisdom, to
examine the grounds of the prejudice and misunderstanding, there is a
volte face and such efforts are sneered at as "sentimental" or "sordid,"
according as the plea for peace is put upon moral or material grounds.
It is not that they disagree in detail with any given proposition
looking towards a basis of international co-operation, but that in reality
they deprecate raising the matter at all.[9] It must be armaments and
nothing but armaments with them. If there had been any possibility of
success in that we should not now be entering upon the 8,000th or
9,000th war of written history. Armaments may be necessary, but they are
not enough. Our plan is armaments plus education; theirs is armament
versus education. And by education, of course, we do not mean school
books, or an extension of the School Board curriculum, but a recognition
of the fact that the character of human society is determined by the
extent to which its units attempt to arrive at an _understanding_ of
their relationship, instead of merely subduing one another by force,
which does not lead to understanding at all: in Turkey, or Venezuela, or
San Domingo, there is no particular effort made to adjust differences by
understanding; in societies of that type they only believe in settling
differences by armaments. That is why there are very few books, very
little thought or discussion, very little intellectual ferment but a
great many guns and soldiers and battles. And throughout the world the
conflict is going on between these rival schools. On the whole the
Western world, inside the respective frontiers, almost entirely now
tends to the Pacifist type. But not so in the international field, for
where the Powers are concerned, where it is a question of the attitude
of one nation in relation to another, you get a degree of understanding
rather less than more than that which obtains in the internal politics
of Venezuela, or Turkey, or Morocco, or any other "warlike" state.

And the difficulty of creating a better European opinion and temper is
due largely to just this idea that obsesses the Militarist, that unless
they misrepresent facts in a sensational direction the nations will be
too apathetic to arm; that education will abolish funk, and that
presumably funk is a necessary element in self-defence.

For the most creditable explanation that we can give of the Militarist's
objection to having this matter discussed at all, is the evident
impression that such discussion will discourage measures for
self-defence; the Militarist does not believe that a people desiring to
understand these things and interested in the development of a better
European society, can at the same time be determined to resist the use
of force. They believe that unless the people are kept in a blue funk,
they will not arm, and that is why it is that the Militarist of the
respective countries are for ever talking about our degeneration and the
rest. And the German Militarist is just as angry with the unwarlike
qualities of his people as the English Militarist is with ours.

Just note this parallel:


    "There is a way in which Britain is certain to have war and its
    horrors and calamities; it is this--by persisting in her present
    course of unpreparedness, her apathy, unintelligence, and blindness,
    and in her disregard of the warnings of the most ordinary political
    insight, as well as of the example of history.

    "Now in the year 1912, just as in 1866, and just as in 1870, war
    will take place the instant the German forces by land and sea are,
    by their superiority at every point, as certain of victory as
    anything in human calculation can be made certain. 'Germany strikes
    when Germany's hour has struck.' That is the time-honoured policy of
    her Foreign Office. It is her policy at the present hour, and it is
    an excellent policy. It is, or should be, the policy of every nation
    prepared to play a great part in history."--LORD ROBERTS, at

    "Britain is disunited; Germany is homogeneous. We are quarrelling
    about the Lords' Veto, Home Rule, and a dozen other questions of
    domestic politics. We have a Little Navy Party, an Anti-Militarist
    Party; Germany is unanimous upon the question of naval
    expansion."--MR. BLATCHFORD.


    "Whole strata of our nation seem to have lost that ideal enthusiasm
    which constituted the greatness of its history. With the increase of
    wealth they live for the moment, they are incapable of sacrificing
    the enjoyment of the hour to the service of great conceptions, and
    close their eyes complacently to the duties of our future and to the
    pressing problems of international life which await a solution at
    the present time."--GENERAL VON BERNHARDI in "Germany and the Next

    "There is no one German people, no single Germany.... There are more
    abrupt contrasts between Germans and Germans than between Germans
    and Indians."

    "One must admire the consistent fidelity and patriotism of the
    English race, as compared with the uncertain and erratic methods of
    the German people, their mistrust, and suspicion.... In spite of
    numerous wars, bloodshed, and disaster, England always emerges
    smoothly and easily from her military crises and settles down to new
    conditions and surroundings in her usual cool and deliberate manner,
    so different from the German."--_Berliner Tageblatt_, March 14, 1911.

Presumably each doughty warrior knows his own country better than that
of the other, which would carry a conclusion directly contrary to that
which he draws.

But note also where this idea that it is necessary artificially to
stimulate the defensive zeal of each country by resisting any tendency
to agreement and understanding leads. It leads even so good a man as
Lord Roberts into the trap of dogmatic prophesy concerning the
intentions of a very complex heterogeneous nation of 65 million people.
Lord Roberts could not possibly tell you what his own country will do
five, ten, or fifteen years hence in such matters as Home Rule or the
Suffragists, or even the payment of doctors, but he knows exactly what a
foreign country will do in a much more serious matter. The simple truth
is, of course, that no man knows what "Germany" will do ten years hence,
any more than we can know what "England" will do. We don't even know
what England will _be_, whether Unionist or Liberal or Labour,
Socialist, Free Trade or Protectionist. All these things, like the
question of Peace and War depends upon all sorts of tendencies, drifts
and developments. At bottom, of course, since war, in Mr. Bonar Law's
fine phrase, is "never inevitable--only the failure of human wisdom," it
depends upon whether we become a little less or a little more wise. If
the former, we shall have it; if the latter, we shall not. But this
dogmatism concerning the other man's evil intentions is the very thing that
leads away from wisdom.[10] The sort of temper and ideas which it
provokes on both sides of the frontier may be gathered from just such
average gems as these plucked recently from the English press:--

     Yes, we may as well face it. _War with Germany is inevitable_, and
     the only question is--Shall we consult her convenience as to its
     date? Shall we wait till Germany's present naval programme, which
     is every year reducing our advantage, is complete? Shall we wait
     till the smouldering industrial revolution, of which all these
     strikes are warnings, has broken into flame? Shall we wait till
     Consols are 65 and our national credit is gone? Shall we wait till
     the Income Tax is 1s. 6d. in the pound? OR SHALL WE STRIKE
     NOW--_finding every out-of-work a job in connection with the
     guardianship of our shores_, and, with our mighty fleet, either
     sinking every German ship or towing it in triumph into a British
     port? _Why_ should we do it? _Because the command of the seas is
     ever ours_; because our island position, our international trade
     and our world-wide dominions _demand that no other nation shall
     dare to challenge our supremacy_. That is why. Oh, yes, the cost
     would be great, but we could raise it to-day all right, _and we
     should get it back_.

     If the struggle comes to-day, we shall win--and after it is over,
     there will be abounding prosperity in the land, and no more labour

     Yes, we have no fear of Germany to-day. The only enemy we fear is
     the crack-brained fanatics who prate about peace and goodwill
     whilst foreign _Dreadnoughts_ are gradually closing in upon us. As
     Mr. Balfour said at the Eugenic Conference the other day, man is a
     wild animal; and there is no room, in present circumstances, for
     any tame ones.--_John Bull_, Aug. 24, 1912.

The italics and large type are those of the original, not mine. This
paper explains, by the way, in this connection that "In the
Chancelleries of Europe _John Bull_ is regarded as a negligible
journalistic quantity. But _John Bull_ is read by a million people every
week, and that million not the least thoughtful and intelligent section
of the community, they _think_ about what they read."

One of the million seems to have thought to some purpose, for the next
week there was the following letter from him. It was given the place of
honour in a series and runs as follows:--

     I would have extended your "Down with the German Fleet!" to "Down
     with Germany and the Germans!" For, unless the whole ---- lot are
     swept off the surface of the earth, there will be no peace. If the
     people in England could only realise the quarrelsome, deceitful,
     underhanded, egotistic any tyrannical character of the Germans,
     there would not be so much balderdash about a friendly
     understanding, etc., between England and Germany. The German is a
     born tyrant. The desire to remain with Britain on good terms will
     only last so long until Germany feels herself strong enough to beat
     England both on sea and on land: afterwards it'll simply be "_la
     bourse ou la vie_," as the French proverb goes. Provided they do not
     know that there are any English listeners about, phrases like the
     following can be heard every day in German restaurants and other
     public places: "I hate England and the English!" "Never mind, they
     won't be standing in our way much longer. We shall soon be ready."

And _John Bull_, with its million readers, is not alone. This is how the
_Daily Express_, in a double-leaded leader, teaches history to its

     When, one day, Englishmen are not allowed to walk the pavements of
     their cities, and their women are for the pleasure of the invaders,
     and the offices of the Tiny England newspapers are incinerated by a
     furious mob; when foreign military officers proclaim martial law
     from the Royal Exchange steps, and when some billions of pounds
     have to be raised by taxation--by taxation of the "toiling
     millions" as well as others--to pay the invaders out, and the
     British Empire consists of England--less Dover, required for a
     foreign strategic tunnel--and the Channel Islands--then the ghosts
     of certain politicians and publicists will probably call a meeting
     for the discussion of the Fourth Dimension.--Leading Article,
     _Daily Express_, 8/7/12.

And not merely shall our women fill the harems of the German pashas,
and Englishmen not be allowed to walk upon the pavement (it would be the
German way of solving the traffic problem--near the Bank), but a
"well-known Diplomat" in another paper tells us what else will happen.

     If England be vanquished it means the end of all things as far as
     she is concerned, and will ring in a new and somewhat terrible era.
     Bankrupt, shorn of all power, deserted, as must clearly follow, as
     a commercial state, and groaning under a huge indemnity that she
     cannot pay and is not intended to be able to pay, what will be the
     melancholy end of this great country and her teeming population of
     forty-five millions?

     ... Her shipping trade will be transferred as far as possible from
     the English to the German flag. Her banking will be lost, as London
     will no longer be the centre of commerce, and efforts will be made
     to enable Berlin to take London's place. Her manufactures will
     gradually desert her. Failing to obtain payments in due time,
     estates will be sequestered and become the property of wealthy
     Germans. The indemnity to be demanded is said to be one thousand
     millions sterling.

     The immediate result of defeat would mean, of course, that
     insolvency would take place in a very large number of commercial
     businesses, and others would speedily follow. Those who cannot get
     away will starve unless large relief funds are forthcoming from,
     say, Canada and the United States, for this country, bereft of its
     manufactures, will not be able to sustain a population of more than
     a very few millions.--From an Article by "A Well-known
     Diplomatist" in _The Throne_, June 12, 1912.

These are but samples; and this sort of thing is going on in England and
Germany alike. And when one protests that it is wicked rubbish born of
funk and ignorance, that whatever happens in war this does not happen,
and that it is based on false economics and grows into utterly false
conceptions of international relationship, one is shouted down as an
anti-armament man and an enemy of his country.

Well, if that view is persisted in, if in reality it is necessary for a
people to have lies and nonsense told to them in order to induce them to
defend themselves, some will be apt to decide that they are not worth
defending. Or rather will they decide that this phase of the
pro-armament campaign--which is not so much a campaign in favour of
armament as one against education and understanding--will end in turning
us into a nation either of poltroons or of bullies and aggressors, and
that since life is a matter of the choice of risks it is wiser and more
courageous to choose the less evil. A nation may be defeated and still
live in the esteem of men--and in its own. No civilized man esteems a
nation of Bashi-Bazouks or Prussian Junkers. Of the two risks
involved--the risk of attack arising from a possible superiority of
armament on the part of a rival, and the risk of drifting into conflict
because, concentrating all our energies on the mere instrument of
combat, we have taken no adequate trouble to understand the facts of
this case--it is at least an arguable proposition that the second risk
is the greater. And I am prompted to this expression of opinion without
surrendering one iota of a lifelong and passionate belief that a nation
attacked should defend itself to the last penny and to the last man.

And you think that this idea that the nations--ours amongst them--may
drift into futile war from sheer panic and funk arising out of the
terror inspired by phantoms born of ignorance, is merely the idea of
Pacifist cranks?

The following, referring to the "precautionary measures" (_i.e._,
mobilization of armies) taken by the various Powers, is from a leading
article of the _Times_:--

     "Precautions" are understandable, but the remark of our Berlin
     Correspondent that they may produce an untenable position from
     which retreat must be humiliating is applicable in more than one
     direction. Our Vienna Correspondent truly says that "there is no
     valid reason to believe war between Austria-Hungary and Russia to
     be inevitable, or even immediately probable." We entirely agree,
     but wish we could add that the absence of any valid reason was
     placing strict limitations upon the scope of "precautions." The
     same correspondent says he is constantly being asked:--"Is there no
     means of avoiding war?" The same question is now being asked, with
     some bewilderment, by millions of men in this country, who want to
     know what difficulties there are in the present situation which
     should threaten Europe with a general war, or even a collision
     larger than that already witnessed.... There is no great nation in
     Europe which to-day has the least desire that millions of men
     should be torn from their homes and flung headlong to destruction
     at the bidding of vain ambitions. The Balkan peoples fought for a
     cause which was peculiarly their own. They were inspired by the
     memories of centuries of wrong which they were burning to avenge.
     The larger nations have no such quarrel, unless it is wilfully
     manufactured for them. The common sense of the peoples of Europe is
     well aware that no issue has been presented which could not be
     settled by amicable discussion. In England men will learn with
     amazement and incredulity that war is possible over the question of
     a Servian port, or even over the larger issues which are said to
     lie behind it. Yet that is whither the nations are blindly drifting
     Who, then, makes war? The answer is to be found in the
     Chancelleries of Europe, among the men who have too long played
     with human lives as pawns in a game of chess, who have become so
     enmeshed in formulas and the jargon of diplomacy that they have
     ceased to be conscious of the poignant realities with which they
     trifle. And thus will war continue to be made, until the great
     masses who are the sport of professional schemers and dreamers say
     the word which, shall bring, not eternal peace, for that is
     impossible, but a determination that wars shall be fought only in a
     just and righteous and vital cause. If that word is ever to be
     spoken, there never was a more appropriate occasion than the
     present; and we trust it will be spoken while there is yet time.

And the very next day there appeared in the _Daily Mail_ an article by
Mr. Lovat Fraser ending thus:--

     The real answer rests, or ought to rest, with the man in the train.
     Does he want to join in Armageddon? It is time that he began to
     think about it, for his answer may soon be sought.

Now we have here, stated in the first case by the most authoritative of
English newspapers, and in the second by an habitual contributor of the
most popular, the whole case of Pacifism as I have attempted to expound
it, namely: (1) That our current statecraft--its fundamental
conceptions, its "axioms," its terminology--has become obsolete by
virtue of the changed conditions of European society; that the causes of
conflict which it creates are half the time based on illusions, upon
meaningless and empty formulas; (2) that its survival is at bottom due
to popular ignorance and indifference--the survival on the part of the
great mass of just those conceptions born of the old and now obsolete
conditions--since diplomacy, like all functions of government, is a
reflection of average opinion; (3) that this public opinion is not
something which descends upon us from the skies but is the sum of the
opinions of each one of us and is the outcome of our daily contacts, our
writing and talking and discussion, and that the road to safety lies in
having that general public opinion better informed not in directly
discouraging such better information; (4) that the mere multiplication
of "precautions" in the shape of increased armaments and a readiness for
war, in the absence of a corresponding and parallel improvement of
opinion, will merely increase and not exorcise the danger, and,
finally, (5) that the problem of war is necessarily a problem of at
least two parties, and that if we are to solve it, to understand it
even, we must consider it in terms of two parties, not one; it is not a
question of what shall be the policy of each without reference to the
other, but what the final upshot of the two policies taken in
conjunction will be.

Now in all this the _Times_, especially in one outstanding central idea,
is embodying a conception which is the antithesis of that expressed by
Militarists of the type of Mr. Churchill, and, I am sorry to say, of
Lord Roberts. To these latter war is not something that we, the peoples
of Europe, create by our ignorance and temper, by the nursing of old and
vicious theories, by the poorness and defects of the ideas our
intellectual activities have developed during the last generation or
two, but something that "comes upon us" like the rain or the earthquake,
and against which we can only protect ourselves by one thing: more arms,
a greater readiness to fight.

In effect the anti-Educationalists say this: "What, as practical men, we
have to do, is to be stronger than our enemy; the rest is theory and
does not matter."

Well the inevitable outcome of such an attitude is catastrophe.

I have said elsewhere that in this matter it seems fatally easy to
secure either one of two kinds of action: that of the "practical man"
who limits his energies to securing a policy which will perfect the
machinery of war and disregard anything else; or that of the idealist,
who, persuaded of the brutality or immorality of war, is apt to show a
certain indifference concerning self-defence. What is needed is the type
of activity which will include both halves of the problem: provision for
education, for a Political Reformation in this matter, _as well as_ such
means of defence as will meantime counterbalance the existing impulse
to aggression. To concentrate on either half to the exclusion of the
other half is to render the whole problem insoluble.

What must inevitably happen if the nations take the line of the
"practical man," and limit their energies simply and purely to piling up

A critic once put to me what he evidently deemed a poser: "Do you urge
that we shall be stronger than our enemy, or weaker?"

To which I replied: "The last time that question was asked me was in
Berlin, by Germans. What would you have had me reply to those
Germans?"--a reply which, of course, meant this: In attempting to find
the solution of this question in terms of one party, you are attempting
the impossible. The outcome will be war, and war would not settle it. It
would all have to be begun over again.

The Navy League catechism says: "Defence consists in being so strong
that it will be dangerous for your enemy to attack you."[11] Mr.
Churchill, however, goes farther than the Navy League, and says: "The
way to make war impossible is to make victory certain."

The Navy League definition is at least possible of application to
practical politics, because rough equality of the two parties would make
attack by either dangerous. Mr. Churchill's principle is impossible of
application to practical politics, because it could only be applied by
one party, and would, in the terms of the Navy League principle, deprive
the other party of the right of defence. As a matter of simple fact,
both the Navy League, by its demand for two ships to one, and Mr.
Churchill, by his demand for certain victory, deny in this matter
Germany's right to defend herself; and such denial is bound, on the part
of a people animated by like motives to ourselves, to provoke a
challenge. When the Navy League says, as it does, that a self-respecting
nation should not depend upon the goodwill of foreigners for its safety,
but upon its own strength, it recommends Germany to maintain her efforts
to arrive at some sort of equality with ourselves. When Mr. Churchill
goes further and says that a nation should be so strong as to make
victory over its rivals certain, he knows that if Germany were to adopt
his own doctrine its inevitable outcome would be war.

The issue is plain: We get a better understanding of certain political
facts in Europe, or we have war. And the Bellicist at present is
resolutely opposed to such political education. And it is for that
reason, not because he is asking for adequate armament, that some of the
best of this country look with the deepest misgiving upon his work, and
will continue to do so in increasing degree unless his policy be

Now a word as to the peace Pacifist--the Pacifist sans phrases--as
distinct from the military Pacifist. It is not because I am in favour of
defence that I have at times with some emphasis disassociated myself
from certain features and methods of the peace movement, for
non-resistance is no necessary part of that movement, and, indeed, so
far as I know, it is no appreciable part. It is the methods not the
object or the ideals of the peace movement which I have ventured to
criticize, without, I hope, offence to men whom I respect in the very
highest and sincerest degree. The methods of Pacifism have in the past,
to some extent at least, implied a disposition to allow easy emotion to
take the place of hard thinking, good intention to stand for
intellectual justification; and it is as plain as anything well can be
that some of the best emotion of the world has been expended upon some
of the very worst objects, and that in no field of human
effort--medicine, commerce, engineering, legislation--has good intention
ever been able to dispense with the necessity of knowing the how and the

It is not that the somewhat question-begging and emotional terminology
of some Pacifists--the appeal to brotherly love and humanity--connotes
things which are in themselves poor or mean (as the average Militarist
would imply), but because so much of Pacifism in the past has failed to
reconcile intellectually the claims of these things with what are the
fundamental needs of men and to show their relation and practical
application to actual problems and conditions.

[Footnote 8: As a matter of fact, of course, the work of these two men
has not been fruitless. As Lord Morley truly says: "They were routed on
the question of the Crimean War, but it was the rapid spread of their
principles which within the next twenty years made intervention
impossible in the Franco-Austrian War, in the American War, in the
Danish War, in the Franco-German War, and above all, in the war between
Russia and Turkey, which broke out only the other day."]

[Footnote 9: Thus the Editor of the _Spectator_:--

"For ourselves, as far as the main economic proposition goes, he
preaches to the converted.... If nations were perfectly wise and held
perfectly sound economic theories, they would recognize that exchange is
the union of forces, and that it is very foolish to hate or be jealous
of your co-operators.... Men are savage, bloodthirsty creatures ... and
when their blood is up will fight for a word or a sign, or, as Mr.
Angell would put it, for an illusion."

Therefore, argues the _Spectator_, let the illusion continue--for there
is no other conclusion to be drawn from the argument.]

[Footnote 10: Need it be said that this criticism does not imply the
faintest want of respect for Lord Roberts, his qualities and his
services. He has ventured into the field of foreign politics and
prophecy. A public man of great eminence, he has expressed an English
view of German "intentions." For the man in the street (I write in that
capacity) to receive that expression in silence is to endorse it, to
make it national. And I have stated here the reasons which make such an
attitude disastrous. We all greatly respect Lord Roberts, but, even
before that, must come respect for our country, the determination that
it shall be in the right and not in the wrong, which it certainly will
be if this easy dogmatism concerning the evil intentions of other
nations becomes national.]

[Footnote 11: The German Navy Law in its preamble might have filched
this from the British Navy League catechism.]



The improvement of ideas the foundation of all improvement--Shooting
straight and thinking straight; the one as important as the
other--Pacifism and the Millennium--How we got rid of wars of
religion--A few ideas have changed the face of the world--The simple
ideas the most important--The "theories" which have led to war--The work
of the reformer to destroy old and false theories--The intellectual
interdependence of nations--Europe at unity in this matter--New ideas
cannot be confined to one people--No fear of ourselves or any nation
being ahead of the rest.

But what, it will be said, is the practical outcome? Admitting that we
are, or that our fathers were, in part responsible for this war, that it
is their false theories which have made it necessary, that like false
theories on our part may make future wars inevitable--what shall we do
to prevent that catastrophe?

Now while as an "abstract proposition" everyone will admit that the one
thing which distinguishes the civilized man from the savage is a
difference of ideas, no one apparently believes that it is a dangerous
and evil thing for the political ideas of savages to dominate most of
our countrymen or that so intangible a thing as "ideas" have any
practical importance at all. While we believe this, of course--to the
extent to which we believe it--improvement is out of the question. We
have to realize that civic faith, like religious faith, is of
importance; that if English influence is to stand for the right and not
the wrong in human affairs, it is impossible for each one of us
individuals to be wrong; that if the great mass is animated by temper,
blindness, ignorance, passion, small and mean prejudices, it is not
possible for "England" to stand for something quite different and for
its influence to be ought but evil. To say that we are "for our country
right or wrong" does not get over the matter at all; rather is it
equivalent to saying that we would as readily have it stand for evil as
for good. And we do not in the least seem to realize that for an
Englishman to go on talking wicked nonsense across the dinner table and
making one of the little rivulets of bad temper and prejudice which
forms the mighty river drowning sane judgment is to do the England of
our dreams a service as ill (in reality far more mischievous) as though
the plans of fortresses were sold to Germany. We must all learn to shoot
straight; apparently we need not learn to think straight. And yet if
Europe could do the second it could dispense with the first. "Good
faith" has a score of connotations, and we believe apparently that good
politics can dispense with all of them and that "Patriotism" has naught
to do with any.

Of course, to shoot straight is so much easier than to think straight,
and I suppose at bottom the bellicist believes that the latter is a
hopeless object since "man is not a thinking animal." He deems,
apparently, we must just leave it at that. Of course, if he does leave
it at that--if we persist in believing that it is no good discussing
these matters, trying to find out the truth about them, writing books
and building churches--our civilization is going to drift just precisely
as those other civilizations which have been guided by the same dreadful
fatalism have drifted--towards the Turkish goal. "Kismet. Man is a fool
to babble of these things; what he may do is of no avail; all things
will happen as they were pre-ordained." And the English Turk--the man
who prefers to fight things out instead of thinking things out--takes
the same line.

If he adopts the Turkish philosophy he must be content with the Turkish
result. But the Western world as a whole has refused to be content with
the Turkish result, and however tiresome it may be to know about
things, to bother with "theories" and principles, we have come to
realise that we have to choose between one of two courses: either to
accept things as they are, not to worry about improvement or betterment
at all, fatalistically to let things slide or--to find out bit by bit
where our errors have been and to correct those errors. This is a hard
road, but it is the road the Western world has chosen; and it is better
than the other.

And it has not accepted this road because it expects the millenium
to-morrow week. There is no millenium, and Pacifists do not expect it or
talk about it; the word is just one of those three-shies-a-penny
brickbats thrown at them by ignorance. You do not dismiss attempts to
correct errors in medicine or surgery, or education, or tramcars, or
cookery, by talking about the millenium; why should you throw that word
at attempts to correct the errors of international relationship?

Nothing has astonished me more than the fact that the "practical" man
who despises "theories" nearly always criticises Pacifism because it is
not an absolute dogma with all its thirty-nine articles water-tight.
"You are a Pacifist, then suppose...," and then follows generally some
very remote hypothesis of what would happen if all the Orient composed
its differences and were to descend suddenly upon the Western world; or
some dogmatic (and very theoretical) proposition about the
unchangeability of human nature, and the foolishness of expecting the
millenium--an argument which would equally well have told against the
union of Scotland and England or would equally justify the political
parties in a South American republic in continuing to settle their
differences by militarist methods instead of the Pacifist methods of

Human nature may be unchanging: it is no reason why we should fight a
futile war with Germany over nothing at all; the yellow peril may
threaten; that is a very good reason why we should compose our
differences in Europe. Men always will quarrel, perhaps, over religious
questions, bigotry and fanaticism always will exist--it did not prevent
our getting rid of the wars of religion, still less is it a reason for
re-starting them.

The men who made that immense advance--the achievement of religious
toleration--possible, were not completely right and had not a
water-tight theory amongst them; they did not bring the millenium, but
they achieved an immense step. They _were_ pioneers of religious
freedom, yet were themselves tyrants and oppressors; those who abolished
slavery _did_ a good work, though much of the world _was_ left in
industrial servitude; it _was_ a good thing to abolish judicial torture,
though much of our penal system did yet remain barbaric; it _was_ a real
advance to recognise the errors upon which these things rested, although
that recognition did not immediately achieve a complete, logical,
symmetrical and perfect change, because mankind does not advance that
way. And so with war. Pacifism does not even pretend to be a dogma: it
is an attempt to correct in men's minds some of the errors and false
theories out of which war grows.

The reply to this is generally that the inaptitude of men for clear
thinking and the difficulties of the issues involved will render any
decision save the sheer clash of physical force impossible; that the
field of foreign politics is such a tangle that the popular mind will
always fall back upon decision by force.

As a matter of fact the outstanding principles which serve to improve
human conduct, are quite simple and understandable, as soon as they have
been shorn of the sophistries and illusions with which the pundits
clothe them. The real work of the reformers is to hack away these
encumbering theories. The average European has not followed, and could
not follow, the amazing and never-ending disputation on obscure
theological points round which raged the Reformation; but the one solid
fact which did emerge from the whole was the general realization that
whatever the truth might be in all this confusion, it was quite
evidently wicked and futile to attempt to compel conformity to any one
section of it by force; that in the interests of all force should be
withheld; because if such queries were settled by the accident of
predominant force, it would prove, not which was right, but which was
stronger. So in such things as witchcraft. The learned and astute judges
of the 18th century, who sent so many thousands to their death for
impossible crimes, knew far more of the details of witchcraft than do
we, and would beat us hopelessly in an argument on the subject; but all
their learning was of no avail, because they had a few simple facts, the
premises, crooked, and we have them straight; and all that we need to
know in this amazing tangle of learned nonsense, is that the
probabilities are against an old woman having caused a storm at sea and
drowned a Scottish King. And so with the French Revolution. What the
Encyclopaedists and other pioneers of that movement really did for the
European peoples in that matter, was not to elaborate fantastic schemes
of constitution making, but by their argumentation to achieve the
destruction of old political sophistries--Divine Rights of Kings and
what not--and to enable one or two simple facts to emerge clearly and
unmistakeably, as that the object of government is the good of the
governed, and can find its justification in nothing else whatsoever. It
was these simple truths which, spreading over the world--with many
checks and set-backs--have so profoundly modified the structure of

Somewhere it is related of Montaigne that talking with academic
colleagues, he expressed a contemptuous disbelief in the whole elaborate
theory of witchcraft as it existed at that time. Scandalised, his
colleagues took him into the University library, and showed him
hundreds, thousands, of parchment volumes written in Latin by the
learned men of the subject. Had he read these volumes, that he talked so
disrespectfully of their contents? No, replied Montaigne, he had not
read them, and he was not going to, because they were all wrong, and he
was right. And Montaigne spoke with this dogmatism because he realised
that he saw clearly that which they did not--the crookedness and
unsoundness of just those simple fundamental assumptions on which the
whole fantastic structure was based.

And so with all the sophistries and illusions by which the war system is
still defended. If the public as a whole had to follow all the
intricacies of those marvellous diplomatic combinations, the maze of our
foreign politics, to understand abstruse points of finance and
economics, in order to have just and sound ideas as to the real
character of international relationship, why then public opinion would
go on being as ignorant and mistaken as it had been hitherto. But sound
opinion and instincts in that field depend upon nothing of the sort, but
upon the emergence of a few quite simple facts, which are indisputable
and self-evident, which stare us in the face, and which absolutely
disprove all the elaborate theories of the Bellicist statesmen.

For instance, if conquest and extension of territory is the main road of
moral and material progress, the fundamental need which sets up all
these rivalries and collisions, then it is the populations of the Great
States which should be the most enviable; the position of the Russian
should be more desirable than that of the Hollander; it is not. The
Austrian should be better off than the Switzer; he is not. If a nation's
wealth is really subject to military confiscation, and needs the defence
of military power, then the wealth of those small states should be
insecure indeed--and Belgian national stocks stand 20 points higher than
the German. If nations are rival units, then we should benefit by the
disappearance of our rivals--and if they disappeared, something like a
third of our population would starve to death. If the growth and
prosperity of rival nations threatens us, then we should be in far
greater danger of America to-day than we were some 50 years ago, when
the growth of that power disturbed the sleep of our statesmen (and when,
incidentally, we were just as much afraid of the growth of that power as
we are now afraid of the growth of Germany). If the growing power of
Russia compelled us to fight a great war in alliance with the Turk to
check her "advance on India," why are we now co-operating with Russia to
build railroads to India?

It is such quite simple questions as these, and the quite plain facts
which underlie them which will lead to sounder conceptions in this
matter on the part of the peoples.

It is not we who are the "theorists," if by "theorists" is meant the
constructors of elaborate and deceptive theorems in this matter. It is
our opponents, the military mystics, who persistently shut their eyes to
the great outstanding facts of history and of our time. And these
fantastic theories are generally justified by most esoteric doctrine,
not by the appeal to the facts which stare you in the face. I once
replied to a critic thus:--

     In examining my critic's balance sheet I remarked that were his
     figures as complete as they were absurdly incomplete and
     misleading, I should still have been unimpressed. We all know that
     very marvellous results are possible with figures; but one can
     generally find some simple fact which puts them to the supreme test
     without undue mathematics. I do not know whether it has ever
     happened to my critic, as it has happened to me, while watching the
     gambling in the casino of a Continental watering resort, to have a
     financial genius present weird columns of figures, which
     demonstrate conclusively, irrefragably, that by this system which
     they embody one can break the bank and win a million. I have never
     examined these figures, and never shall, for this reason: the
     genius in question is prepared to sell his wonderful secret for
     twenty francs. Now, in the face of that fact I am not interested
     in his figures. If they were worth examination they would not be
     for sale.

     And so in this matter there are certain test facts which upset the
     adroitest statistical legerdemain. Though, really, the fallacy
     which regards an addition of territory as an addition of wealth to
     the "owning" nation is a very much simpler matter than the
     fallacies lying behind gambling systems, which are bound up with
     the laws of chance and the law of averages and much else that
     philosophers will quarrel about till the end of time. It requires
     an exceptional mathematical brain really to refute those fallacies,
     whereas the one we are dealing with is due simply to the difficulty
     experienced by most of us in carrying in our heads two facts at the
     same time. It is so much easier to seize on one fact and forget the
     other. Thus we realize that when Germany has conquered
     Alsace-Lorraine she has "captured" a province worth, "cash value,"
     in my critic's phrase, sixty-six millions sterling. What we
     overlook is that Germany has also captured the people who own the
     property and who continue to own it. We have multiplied by _x_, it
     is true, but we have overlooked the fact that we have had to divide
     by _x_, and that the resultant is consequently, so far as the
     individual is concerned, exactly what it was before. My critic
     remembered the multiplication all right, but he forgot the

Just think of all the theories, the impossible theories for which the
"practical" man has dragged the nations into war: the Balance of Power,
for instance. Fifteen or twenty years ago it was the ineradicable belief
of fifty or sixty million Americans, good, honest, sincere, and astute
folk, that it was their bounden duty, their manifest interest, to
fight--and in the words of one of their Senators, annihilate--Great
Britain, in the interests of the Monroe Doctrine (which is a form of the
"Balance of Power"). I do not think any one knew what the Monroe
Doctrine meant, or could coherently defend it. An American Ambassador
had an after-dinner story at the time.

"What is this I hear, Jones, that you do not believe in the Monroe

"It is a wicked lie. I have said no such thing. I do believe in the
Monroe Doctrine. I would lay down my life for it; I would die for it.
What I did say was that I didn't know what it meant."

And it was this vague theory which very nearly drove America into a war
that would have been disastrous to the progress of Anglo-Saxon

This was at the time of the Venezuelan crisis: the United States, which
for nearly one hundred years had lived in perfect peace with a British
power touching her frontier along three thousand miles, laid it down as
a doctrine that her existence was imperilled if Great Britain should
extend by so much as a mile a vague frontier running through a South
American swamp thousands of miles away. And for that cause these decent
and honourable people were prepared to take all the risks that would be
involved to Anglo-Saxon civilisation by a war between England and
America. The present writer happened at that time to be living in
America, and concerned with certain political work. Night after night he
heard these fulminations against Great Britain; politicians,
Congressmen, Senators, Governors, Ministers, Preachers, clamouring for
war, for a theory as vague and as little practical as one could wish.

And we, of course, have had our like obsessions without number: "the
independence integrity of the Turkish dominion in Europe" is one. Just
think of it! Take in the full sound of the phrase: "the independence
integrity of the Turkish dominion in Europe!"

What, of course, makes these fantastic political doctrines possible,
what leads men to subscribe to them, are a few false general conceptions
to which they hold tenaciously--as all fundamental conceptions are held,
and ought to be. The general conceptions in question are precisely the
ones I have indicated: that nations are rival and struggling units, that
military force is consequently the determining factor of their relative
advantage; that enlargement of political frontiers is the supreme need,
and so on.

And the revision of these fundamental conceptions will, of course, be
the general work of Christendom, and given the conditions which now
obtain, the development will go on _pari passu_ in all nations or not
all. It will not be the work of "nations" at all; it will be the work of
individual men.

States do not think. It is the men who form the states who think, and
the number of those men who will act as pioneers in a better policy
must, of course, at first be small: a group here and a group there, the
best men of all countries--England, France, Germany,
America--influencing by their ideas finally the great mass. To say, as
so many do in this matter: "Let other nations do it first" is, of
course, to condemn us all to impotence--for the other nations use the
same language. To ask that one group of forty or seventy or ninety
million people shall by some sort of magic all find their way to a saner
doctrine before such doctrine has affected other groups is to talk the
language of childishness. Things do not happen in that in human affairs.
It is not in that way that opinion grows. It did not grow in that way
in any one of the steps that I have mentioned--in the abolition of
religious persecution, or slavery, or judicial torture. Unless the
individual man sees his responsibility for determining what is right and
knowing how and why it is right, there will be no progress; there cannot
even be a beginning.

We are to an even greater degree an integral part of European Society,
and a factor of European Policy, than we were at the time of the Crimean
War, when we mainly determined it; and our theories and discussions will
act and re-act upon that policy just as did any considerable body of
thought, whether French political thought of the eighteenth century, or
German religious thought of the sixteenth century, even at a time when
the means of producing that reaction, the book, literature, the
newspaper, rapid communication, were so immeasurably more primitive and
rudimentary than ours. What we think and say and do affects not merely
ourselves, but that whole body politic of Christendom of which we are an
integral part.

It is a curious fact that the moral and intellectual interdependence of
States preceded by a long period, that material and economic
independence which I have tried recently to make clear. Nothing is more
contrary to fact than to suppose that any considerable movement of
opinion in Europe can be limited to the frontiers of one nation. Even at
a time when it took half a generation for a thought to travel from one
capital to another, a student or thinker in some obscure Italian, Swiss
or German village was able to modify policy, to change the face of
Europe and of mankind. Coming nearer to our time, it was the work of the
encyclopaedists and earlier political questioners which made the French
Revolution; and the effect of that Revolution was not confined to
France. The ideas which animated it re-acted directly upon our Empire,
upon the American Colonies, upon the Spanish Colonies, upon Italy, and
the formation of United Italy, upon Germany--the world over. These
miracles, almost too vast and great to conceive, were the outcome of
that intangible thing, an idea, an aspiration, an ideal. And if they
could accomplish so much in that day when the popular press and cheap
literature and improved communication did not exist, how is it possible
to suppose that any great ferment of opinion can be limited to one group
in our day, when we have a condition of things in which the declaration
of an English Cabinet Minister to-night is read to-morrow morning by
every reading German?

It should be to our everlasting glory that our political thought in the
past, some of our political institutions, parliamentary government, and
what not, have had an enormous influence in the world. We have some
ground for hoping that another form of political institution which we
have initiated, a relationship of distinct political groups into which
force does not enter, will lead the way to a better condition of things
in Christendom. We have demonstrated that five independent nations, the
nations of the British Empire, can settle their differences as between
one another without the use of force. We have definitely decided that
whatever the attitude Australia, Canada, and South Africa may adopt to
us we shall not use force to change it. What is possible with five is
possible with fifteen nations. Just as we have given to the world
roughly our conception of Parliamentary Government, so it is to be hoped
may we give to the world our conception of the true relationship of

The great steps of the past--religious freedom, the abolition of torture
and of slavery, the rights of the mass, self-government--every real step
which man has made has been made because men "theorised," because a
Galileo, or a Luther, or a Calvin, or a Voltaire, Rousseau, Bentham,
Spencer, Darwin, wrote and put notes of interrogation. Had they not done
so none of those things could have been accomplished. The greatest work
of the renaissance was the elimination of physical force in the struggle
of religious groups, in religious struggles generally; the greatest work
of our generation will be elimination of physical force from the
struggle of the political groups and from political struggles generally.
But it will be done in exactly the same way: by a common improvement of
opinion. And because we possess immeasurably better instruments for the
dissemination of ideas, we should be able to achieve the Political
Reformation of Europe much more rapidly and effectively than our
predecessors achieved the great intellectual Reformation of their time.



We must have the right political faith--Then we must give effect to
it--Good intention not enough--The organization of the great forces of
modern life--Our indifference as to the foundations of the evil--The
only hope.

What then must we _do_? Well the first and obvious thing is for each to
do his civic duty, for each to determine that he at least shall not
reject, with that silly temper which nearly always meets most new points
of view, principles which do at least seek to explain things, and do
point to the possibility of a better way.

The first thing is to make our own policy right--and that is the work of
each one of us; to correct the temper which made us, for instance, to
our shame, the partners of the Turk in his work of oppression.

And we must realise that mere good intent does not suffice; that
understanding, by which alone we can make headway, is not arrived at by
a pleasant emotion like that produced by a Beethoven Sonata; that we pay
for our progress in a little harder money than that, the money of hard
work, in which must be included hard thinking. And having got that far,
we must realise that sound ideas do not spread themselves. They are
spread by men. It is one of the astonishing things in the whole problem
of the breaking of war, that while men realise that if women are to have
votes, or men to be made temperate, or the White Slave Traffic to be
stopped, or for that matter, if battleships are to be built, or
conscription to be introduced, or soap or pills to be sold, effort,
organisation, time, money, must be put into these things. But the
greatest revolution that the world has known since mankind acquired the
right to freedom of opinion, will apparently get itself accomplished
without any of these things; or that at least the Government can quite
easily attend to it by asking other Governments to attend a Conference.
We must realise that a change of opinion, the recognition of a new fact,
or of facts heretofore not realised, is a slow and laborious work, even
in the relatively simple things which I have mentioned, and that you
cannot make savages into civilised men by collecting them round a table.
For the Powers of Europe, so far as their national policies are
concerned, are still uncivilised individuals. And their Conferences are
bound to fail, when each unit has the falsest conception concerning the
matters under discussion. Governments are the embodied expression of
general public opinion--and not the best public opinion at that; and
until opinion is modified, the embodiment of it will no more be capable
of the necessary common action, than would Red Indians be capable of
forming an efficient Court of Law, while knowing nothing of law or
jurisprudence, or worse still, having utterly false notions of the
principles upon which human society is based.

And the occasional conferences of private men still hazy as to these
principles are bound to be as ineffective. If the mere meeting and
contact of people cleared up misunderstandings, we should not have
Suffragettes and Anti-Suffragettes, or Mr. Lloyd George at grips with
the doctors.

These occasional conferences, whether official, like those of the Hague,
or non-official like those which occasionally meet in London or in
Berlin, will not be of great avail in this matter unless a better public
opinion renders them effective. They are of some use and no one would
desire to see them dropped, but they will not of themselves stem or turn
the drift of opinion. What is needed is a permanent organisation of
propaganda, framed, not for the purpose of putting some cut and dried
scheme into immediate operation, but with the purpose of clarifying
European public opinion, making the great mass see a few simple facts
straight, instead of crooked, and founded in the hope that ten or
fifteen years of hard, steady, persistent work, will create in that time
(by virtue of the superiority of the instruments, the Press and the rest
of it which we possess) a revolution of opinion as great as that
produced at the time of the Reformation, in a period which probably was
not more than the lifetime of an ordinary man.

The organization for such permanent work has hardly begun. The Peace
Societies have done, and are doing, a real service, but it is evident,
for the reasons already indicated, that if the great mass are to be
affected, instruments of far wider sweep must be used. Our great
commercial and financial interests, our educational and academic
institutions, our industrial organizations, the political bodies, must
all be reached. An effort along the right lines has been made thanks to
the generosity of a more than ordinarily enlightened Conservative
capitalist. But the work should be taken up at a hundred points. Some
able financier should do for the organization of Banking--which has
really become the Industry of Finance and Credit--the same sort of
service that Sir Charles Macara has done for the cotton industry of the
world. The international action and co-ordination of Trades Unions the
world over should be made practical and not, in this matter, be allowed
to remain a merely platonic aspiration.

The greater European Universities should possess endowed Chairs of the
Science of International Statecraft. While we have Chairs to investigate
the nature of the relationship of insects, we have none to investigate
the nature of the relationship of man in his political grouping. And the
occupants of these Chairs might change places--that of Berlin coming to
London or Oxford, and that of Oxford going to Berlin.

The English Navy League and the German Navy League alike tell us that
the object of their endeavours is to create an instrument of peace. In
that case their efforts should not be confined to increasing the size of
the respective arms, but should also be directed to determining how and
why and when, and under what conditions, and for what purpose that arm
should be used. And that can only be done effectually if the two bodies
learn something of the aims and objects of the other. The need for a
Navy, and the size of the Navy, depends upon policy, either our own
policy, or the policy of the prospective aggressor; and to know
something of that, and its adjustment, is surely an integral part of
national defence. If both these Navy Leagues, in the fifteen or sixteen
years during which they have been in existence, had possessed an
intelligence committee, each conferring with the other, and spending
even a fraction of the money and energy upon disentangling policy that
has been spent upon the sheer bull-dog piling up of armaments, in all
human possibility, the situation which now confronts us would not exist.

Then each political party of the respective Parliaments might have its
accredited delegates in the Lobbies of the other: the Social Democrats
might have their permanent delegates in London, in the Lobbies of the
House of Commons; the Labour Party might have their Permanent Delegates
in the Lobbies of the Reichstag; and when any Anglo-German question
arose, those delegates could speak through the mouth of the Members of
the Party to which they were accredited, to the Parliament of the other
nation. The Capitalistic parties could have a like bi-national

"These are wild and foolish suggestions"--that is possible. They have
never, however, been discussed with a view to the objects in question.
All efforts in this direction have been concentrated upon an attempt to
realize mechanically, by some short and royal road, a result far too
great and beneficent to be achieved so cheaply.

Before our Conferences, official or unofficial, can have much success,
the parties to them must divest their minds of certain illusions which
at present dominate them. Until that is done, you might as reasonably
expect two cannibals to arrive at a workable scheme for consuming one
another. The elementary conceptions, the foundations of the thing are
unworkable. Our statecraft is still founded on a sort of political
cannibalism, upon the idea that nations progress by conquering, or
dominating one another. So long as that is our conception of the
relationship of human groups we shall always stand in danger of
collision, and our schemes of association and co-operation will always
break down.


Many of the points touched upon in the last two chapters are brought out
clearly in a recent letter addressed to the Press by my friend and
colleague Mr. A.W. Haycock. In this letter to the Press he says:--

     If you will examine systematically, as I have done, the comments
     which have appeared in the Liberal Press, either in the form of
     leading articles, or in letters from readers, concerning Lord
     Roberts' speech, you will find that though it is variously
     described as "diabolical," "pernicious," "wicked," "inflammatory"
     and "criminal," the real fundamental assumptions on which the whole
     speech is based, and which, if correct, justify it, are by
     implication admitted; at any rate, in not one single case that I
     can discover are they seriously challenged.

     Now, when you consider this, it is the most serious fact of the
     whole incident--far more disquieting in reality than the fact of
     the speech itself, especially when we remember that Lord Roberts
     did but adopt and adapt the arguments already used with more
     sensationalism and less courtesy by Mr. Winston Churchill himself.

     The protests against Lord Roberts' speech take the form of denying
     the intention of Germany to attach this country. But how can his
     critics be any more aware of the intentions of Germany--65 millions
     of people acted upon by all sorts of complex political and social
     forces--than is Lord Roberts? Do we know the intention of England
     with reference to Woman's Suffrage or Home Rule or Tariff Reform?
     How, therefore, can we know the intentions of "Germany"?

     Lord Roberts, with courtesy, in form at least and with the warmest
     tribute to the "noble and imaginative patriotism" of German policy,
     assumed that that policy would follow the same general impulse that
     our own has done in the past, and would necessarily follow it since
     the relation between military power and national greatness and
     prosperity was to-day what it always has been. In effect, Lord
     Roberts' case amounts to this:--

     "We have built up our Empire and our trade by virtue of the
     military power of our state; we exist as a nation, sail the seas,
     and carry on our trade, by virtue of our predominant strength; as
     that strength fails we shall do all these things merely on the
     sufferance of stronger nations, who, when pushed by the needs of an
     expanding population to do so, will deprive us of the capacity for
     carrying on those vital functions of life, and transfer the means
     of so doing to themselves to their very great advantage; we have
     achieved such transfer to ourselves in the past by force and must
     expect other nations to try and do the same thing unless we are
     able to prevent them. It is the inevitable struggles of life to be
     fought out either by war or armaments."

     These are not Lord Roberts' words, but the proposition is the clear
     underlying assumption of his speech. And his critics do not
     seriously challenge it. Mr. Churchill by implication warmly
     supports it. At Glasgow he said: "The whole fortune of our race and
     Empire, the whole treasure accumulated during so many centuries of
     sacrifice and achievement would perish and be swept utterly away,
     if our naval supremacy were to be impaired."

     Now why should there be any danger of Germany bringing about this
     catastrophe unless she could profit enormously by so doing? But
     that implies that a nation does expand by military force, does
     achieve the best for its people by that means; it does mean that if
     you are not stronger than your rival, you carry on your trade "on
     sufferance" and at the appointed hour will have it taken from you
     by him. And if that assumption--plainly indicated as it is by a
     Liberal Minister--is right, who can say that Lord Roberts'
     conclusion is not justified?

     Now as to the means of preventing the war. Lord Roberts' formula

     "Such a battle front by sea and land that no power or probable
     combination of powers shall dare to attack us without the certainty
     of disaster."

     This, of course, is taken straight from Mr. Churchill, who, at
     Dundee, told us that "the way to make war impossible is to be so
     strong as to make victory certain."

     We have all apparently, Liberals and Conservatives alike, accepted
     this "axiom" as self-evident.

     Well, since it is so obvious as all that we may expect the Germans
     to adopt it. At present they are guided by a much more modest
     principle (enunciated in the preamble of the German Navy Law);
     namely, to be sufficiently strong to make it _dangerous_ for your
     enemy to attack. They must now, according to our "axiom," be so
     strong as to make our defeat certain.

     I am quite sure that the big armament people in Germany are very
     grateful for the advice which Mr. Churchill and Lord Roberts thus
     give to the nations of the world, and we may expect to see German
     armaments so increased as to accord with the new principle.

     And Lord Roberts is courageous enough to abide by the conclusion
     which flows from the fundamental assumption of Liberals and
     Conservatives alike, _i.e._, that trade and the means of livelihood
     can be transferred by force. We have transferred it in the past.
     "It is excellent policy; it is, or should be, the policy of every
     nation prepared to play a great part in history." Such are Lord
     Roberts' actual words. At least, they don't burke the issue.

     The Germans will doubtless note the combination: be so strong as to
     make victory certain, and strike when you have made it certain, and
     they will then, in the light of this advice, be able to put the
     right interpretation upon our endeavours to create a great
     conscript force and our arrangements, which have been going on for
     some years, to throw an expeditionary force on to the continent.

     The outlook is not very pleasant, is it? And yet if you accept the
     "axiom" that our Empire and our trade is dependent upon force and
     can be advantageously attacked by a stronger power there is no
     escape from the inevitable struggle--for the other "axiom" that
     safety can be secured merely by being enormously stronger than your
     rival is, as soon as it is tested by applying it to the two parties
     to the conflict--and, of course, one has as much right to apply it
     as the other--seen to be simply dangerous and muddle-headed
     rubbish. Include the two parties in your "axiom" (as you must) and
     it becomes impossible of application.

     Now the whole problem sifts finally down to this one question: Is
     the assumption made by Lord Roberts and implied by Mr. Churchill
     concerning the relation of military force to trade and national
     life well founded? If it is, conflict is inevitable. It is no good
     crying "panic." If there is this enormous temptation pushing to our
     national ruin, we ought to be in a panic. And if it is not true?
     Even in that case conflict will equally be inevitable unless we
     realise its falseness, for a universal false opinion concerning a
     fact will have the same result in conduct as though the false
     belief were true.

     And my point is that those concerned to prevent this conflict seem
     but mildly interested in examining the foundations of the false
     beliefs that make conflict inevitable. Part of the reluctance to
     study the subject seems to arise from the fear that if we deny the
     nonsensical idea that the British Empire would instantaneously fall
     to pieces were the Germans to dominate the North Sea for 24 hours
     we should weaken the impulse to defence. That is probably an
     utterly false idea, but suppose it is true, is the risk of less
     ardour in defence as great as the risk which comes of having a
     nation of Roberts and Churchills on both sides of the frontier?

     If that happens war becomes not a risk but a certainty.

     And it is danger of happening. I speak from the standpoint of a
     somewhat special experience. During the last 18 months I have
     addressed not scores but many hundreds of meetings on the subject
     of the very proposition on which Lord Roberts' speech is based and
     which I have indicated at the beginning of this letter; I have
     answered not hundreds but thousands of questions arising out of it.
     And I think that gives me a somewhat special understanding of the
     mind of the man in the street. The reason he is subject to panic,
     and "sees red" and will often accept blindly counsels like those of
     Lord Roberts, is that he holds as axioms these primary assumptions
     to which I have referred, namely, that he carries on his daily life
     by virtue of military force, and that the means of carrying it on
     will be taken from him by the first stronger power that rises in
     the world, and that that power will be pushed to do it by the
     advantage of such seizure. And these axioms he never finds
     challenged even by his Liberal guides.

     The issue for those who really desire a better condition is clear.
     So long as by their silence, or by their indifference to the
     discussion of the fundamental facts of this problem they create the
     impression that Mr. Churchill's axioms are unchallengeable, the
     panic-mongers will have it all their own way, and our action will
     be a stimulus to similar action in Germany, and that action will
     again re-act on ours, and so on _ad infinitum._

     Why is not some concerted effort made to create in both countries
     the necessary public opinion, by encouraging the study and
     discussion of the elements of the case, in some such way, for
     instance, as that adopted by Mr. Norman Angell in his book?

     One organization due to private munificence has been formed and is
     doing, within limits, an extraordinarily useful work, but we can
     only hope to affect policy by a much more general interest--the
     interest of those of leisure and influence. And that does not seem
     to be forthcoming.

     My own work, which has been based quite frankly on Mr. Angell's
     book, has convinced me that it embodies just the formula most
     readily understanded of the people. It constitutes a constructive
     doctrine of International Policy--the only statement I know so
     definitely applicable to modern conditions.

     But the old illusions are so entrenched that if any impression is
     to be made on public opinion generally, effort must be persistent,
     permanent, and widespread. Mere isolated conferences, disconnected
     from work of a permanent character, are altogether inadequate for
     the forces that have to be met.

     What is needed is a permanent and widespread organization embracing
     Trades Unions, Churches and affiliated bodies, Schools and
     Universities, basing its work on some definite doctrine of
     International Policy which can supplant the present conceptions of
     struggle and chaos.

     I speak, at least, from the standpoint of experience; in the last
     resort the hostility, fear and suspicion which from time to time
     gains currency among the great mass of the people, is due to those
     elementary misconceptions as to the relation of prosperity, the
     opportunities of life, to military power. So long as these
     misconceptions are dominant, nothing is easier than to precipitate
     panic and bad feeling, and unless we can modify them, we shall in
     all human probability drift into conflict; and this incident of
     Lord Roberts' speech and the comment which it has provoked, show
     that for some not very well defined reason, Liberals, quite as much
     as Conservatives, by implication, accept the axioms upon which it
     is based, and give but little evidence that they are seriously
     bestirring themselves to improve that political education upon
     which according to their creed, progress can alone be made.

     Yours very faithfully,

     A.W. HAYCOCK.

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