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Title: Armageddon—And After
Author: Courtney, W. L. (William Leonard), 1850-1928
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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       W.L. COURTNEY, M.A., LL.D.


          CHAPMAN & HALL, LTD.









            OUTWORN AGE


I dedicate this little book to the young idealists of this and other
countries, for several reasons. They must, obviously, be young, because
their older contemporaries, with a large amount of experience of earlier
conditions, will hardly have the courage to deal with the novel data. I
take it that, after the conclusion of the present war, there will come an
uneasy period of exhaustion and anxiety when we shall be told that those
who hold military power in their hands are alone qualified to act as
saviours of society. That conclusion, as I understand the matter, young
idealists will strenuously oppose. They will be quite aware that all the
conservative elements will be against them; they will appreciate also the
eagerness with which a large number of people will point out that the
safest way is to leave matters more or less alone, and to allow the
situation to be controlled by soldiers and diplomatists. Of course there
is obvious truth in the assertion that the immediate settlement of peace
conditions must, to a large extent, be left in the hands of those who
brought the war to a successful conclusion. But the relief from pressing
anxiety when this horrible strife is over, and the feeling of gratitude to
those who have delivered us must not be allowed to gild and consecrate, as
it were, systems proved effete and policies which intelligent men
recognise as bankrupt. The moment of deliverance will be too unique and
too splendid to be left in the hands of men who have grown, if not
cynical, at all events a little weary of the notorious defects of
humanity, and who are, perhaps naturally, tempted to allow European
progress to fall back into the old well-worn ruts. It is the young men who
must take the matter in hand, with their ardent hopes and their keen
imagination, and only so far as they believe in the possibility of a great
amelioration will they have any chance of doing yeoman service for

The dawn of a new era must be plenarily accepted as a wonderful
opportunity for reform. If viewed in any other spirit, the splendours of
the morning will soon give way before the obstinate clouds hanging on the
horizon. In some fashion or other it must be acknowledged that older
methods of dealing with international affairs have been tried and found
wanting. It must be admitted that the ancient principles helped to bring
about the tremendous catastrophe in which we are at present involved, and
that a thorough re-organisation is required if the new Europe is to start
under better auspices. That is why I appeal to the younger idealists,
because they are not likely to be deterred by inveterate prejudices; they
will be only too eager to examine things with a fresh intelligence of
their own. Somehow or other we must get rid of the absurd idea that the
nations of Europe are always on the look out to do each other an injury.
We have to establish the doctrines of Right on a proper basis, and
dethrone that ugly phantom of Might, which is the object of Potsdam
worship. International law must be built up with its proper sanctions; and
virtues, which are Christian and humane, must find their proper place in
the ordinary dealings of states with one another. Much clever dialectics
will probably be employed in order to prove that idealistic dreams are
vain. Young men will not be afraid of such arguments; they will not be
deterred by purely logical difficulties. Let us remember that this war has
been waged in order to make war for the future impossible. If that be the
presiding idea of men's minds, they will keep their reforming course
steadily directed towards ideal ends, patiently working for the
reconstruction of Europe and a better lot for humanity at large.

Once more let me repeat that it is only young idealists who are sufficient
for these things. They may call themselves democrats, or socialists, or
futurists, or merely reformers. The name is unimportant: the main point is
that they must thoroughly examine their creed in the light of their finest
hopes and aspirations. They will not be the slaves of any formulæ, and
they will hold out their right hands to every man--whatever may be the
label he puts on his theories--who is striving in single-minded devotion
for a millennial peace. The new era will have to be of a spiritual,
ethical type. Coarser forms of materialism, whether in thought or life,
will have to be banished, because the scales have at last dropped from our
eyes, and we intend to regard a human being no longer as a thing of
luxury, or wealth, or greedy passions, but as the possessor of a living


_November 10, 1914._

       *       *       *       *       *

I wish to acknowledge my obligation to Mr. H.N. Brailsford's _The War of
Steel and Gold_ (Bell). I do not pretend to agree with all that Mr.
Brailsford says: but I have found his book always interesting, and
sometimes inspiring.



PROBLEMS OF THE FUTURE                             1

LESSONS OF THE PAST                               32

SOME SUGGESTED REFORMS                            63




The newspapers have lately been making large quotations from the poems of
Mr. Rudyard Kipling. They might, if they had been so minded, have laid
under similar contribution the Revelation of St. John the Divine. There,
too, with all the imagery usual in Apocalyptic literature, is to be found
a description of vague and confused fighting, when most of the Kings of
the earth come together to fight a last and desperate battle. The Seven
Angels go forth, each armed with a vial, the first poisoning the earth,
the second the sea, the third the rivers and fountains of waters, the
fourth the sun. Then out of the mouth of the dragon, of the beast, and of
the Antichrist come the lying spirits which persuade the Kings of the
earth to gather all the people for that great day of God Almighty "into a
place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." Translated into our
language the account might very well serve for the modern assemblage of
troops in which nearly all the kingdoms of the earth have to play their
part, with few, and not very important, exceptions. It is almost absurd to
speak of the events of the past three months as though they were merely
incidents in a great and important campaign. There is nothing in history
like them so far as we are aware. In the clash of the two great European
organisations--the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente--we have all
those wild features of universal chaos which the writer of the Apocalypse
saw with prophetic eye as ushering in the great day of the Lord, and
paving the way for a New Heaven and a New Earth.


It is a colossal upheaval. But what sort of New Heaven and New Earth is it
likely to usher in? This is a question which it is hardly too early to
discuss, for it makes a vast difference, to us English in especial, if,
fighting for what we deem to be a just cause, we can look forward to an
issue in the long run beneficial to ourselves and the world. We know the
character of the desperate conflict which has yet to be accomplished
before our eyes. Everything points to a long stern war, which cannot be
completed in a single campaign. Every one knows that Lord Kitchener is
supposed to have prophesied a war of three years, and we can hardly ignore
the opinion of so good a judge. If we ask why, the obvious answer is that
every nation engaged is not fighting for mere victory in battle, nor yet
for extension of territory; but for something more important than these.
They fight for the triumph of their respective ideas, and it will make the
greatest difference to Europe and the world which of the ideas is
eventually conqueror. Supposing the German invasion of France ends in
failure; that, clearly, will not finish the war. Supposing even that
Berlin is taken by the Russians, we cannot affirm that so great an event
will necessarily complete the campaign. The whole of Germany will have to
be invaded and subdued, and that is a process which will take a very long
time even under the most favourable auspices. Or take the opposite
hypothesis. Let us suppose that the Germans capture Paris, and manage by
forced marches to defend their country against the Muscovite incursion.
Even so, nothing is accomplished of a lasting character. France will go on
fighting as she did after 1870, and we shall be found at her side. Or,
assuming the worst hypothesis of all, that France lies prostrate under the
heel of her German conqueror, does any one suppose that Great Britain
will desist from fighting? We know perfectly well that, with the aid of
our Fleet, we shall still be in a position to defy the German invader and
make use of our enormous reserves to wear out even Teutonic obstinacy. The
great sign and seal of this battle to the death is the recent covenant
entered into by the three members of the Triple Entente.[1] They have
declared in the most formal fashion, over the signatures of their three
representatives, Sir Edward Grey, M. Paul Cambon, and Count Benckendorff,
that they will not make a separate peace, that they will continue to act
in unison, and fight, not as three nations, but as one. Perhaps one of the
least expected results of the present conjuncture is that the Triple
Entente, which was supposed to possess less cohesive efficiency than the
rival organisation, has proved, on the contrary, the stronger of the two.
The Triple Alliance is not true to its name. Italy, the third and
unwilling member, still preserves her neutrality, and declares that her
interests are not immediately involved.

[1] Subsequently joined by Japan.


In order to attempt to discover the vast changes that are likely to come
as a direct consequence of the present Armageddon, it is necessary to
refer in brief retrospect to some of the main causes and features of the
great European war. Meanwhile, I think the general feeling amongst all
thoughtful men is best expressed in the phrase, "Never again." Never again
must we have to face the possibility of such a world-wide catastrophe.
Never again must it be possible for the pursuit of merely selfish
interests to work such colossal havoc. Never again must we have war as the
only solution of national differences. Never again must all the arts of
peace be suspended while Europe rings to the tramp of armed millions.
Never again must spiritual, moral, artistic culture be submerged under a
wave of barbarism. Never again must the Ruler of this Universe be
addressed as the "God of battles." Never again shall a new Wordsworth hail
"carnage" as "God's daughter." The illogicality of it all is too patent.
That everything which we respect and revere in the way of science or
thought, or culture, or music, or poetry, or drama, should be cast into
the melting-pot to satisfy dynastic ambition is a thing too puerile as
well as too appalling to be even considered. And the horror of it all is
something more than our nerves will stand. The best brains and intellects
of Europe, the brightest and most promising youths, all the manhood
everywhere in Europe to be shrivelled and consumed in a holocaust like
this--it is such a reign of the Devil and Antichrist on earth that it must
be banished in perpetuity if civilisation and progress are to endure.
Never again!


How did we get into such a stupid and appalling calamity? Let us think for
a moment. I do not suppose it would be wrong to say that no one ever
expected war in our days. Take up any of the recent books. With the
exception of the fiery martial pamphlets of Germany, the work of a von der
Goltz or a Treitschke, or a Bernhardi, we shall find a general consensus
of opinion that war on a large scale was impossible because too ruinous,
that the very size of the European armaments made war impracticable. Or
else, to take the extreme case of Mr. Norman Angell, the entanglements of
modern finance were said to have put war out of count as an absurdity. We
were a little too hasty in our judgments. It is clear that a single
determined man, if he is powerful enough, may embroil Europe. However
destructive modern armaments may be, and however costly a campaign may
prove, yet there are men who will face the cost and confront the
wholesale destruction of life that modern warfare entails. How pitiful it
is, how strange also, to look back upon the solemn asseveration of the
Kaiser and the Tsar, not so many months ago (Port Baltic, July 1912), that
the division of Europe into the two great confederations known as the
Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente provided a safeguard against
hostilities! We were constantly assured that diplomats were working for a
Balance of Power, such an equilibrium of rival forces that the total
result would be stability and peace. Arbitration, too, was considered by
many as the panacea, to say nothing of the Hague Palace of Peace. And now
we discover that nations may possibly refer to arbitration points of small
importance in their quarrels, but that the greater things which are
supposed to touch national honour and the preservation of national life
are tacitly, if not formally, exempted from the category of arbitrable
disputes. Diplomacy, Arbitration, Palaces of Peace seem equally useless.


In attempting to understand how Europe has (to use Lord Rosebery's phrase)
"rattled into barbarism" in the uncompromising fashion which we see
before our eyes, we must distinguish between recent operative causes and
those more slowly evolving antecedent conditions which play a
considerable, though not necessarily an obvious part in the result. Recent
operative causes are such things as the murder of the Archduke Franz
Ferdinand at Serajevo, the consequent Austrian ultimatum to Servia, the
hasty and intemperate action of the Kaiser in forcing war, and--from a
more general point of view--the particular form of militarism prevalent in
Germany. Ulterior antecedent conditions are to be found in the changing
history of European States and their mutual relations in the last quarter
of a century; the ambition of Germany to create an Imperial fleet; the
ambition of Germany to have "a place in the sun" and become a large
colonial power; the formation of a Triple Entente following on the
formation of a Triple Alliance; the rivalry between Teuton and Slav; and
the mutations of diplomacy and _Real-politik_. It is not always possible
to keep the two sets of causes, the recent and the ulterior, separate, for
they naturally tend either to overlap or to interpenetrate one another.
German Militarism, for instance, is only a specific form of the general
ambition of Germany, and the Austrian desire to avenge herself on Servia
is a part of her secular animosity towards Slavdom and its protector,
Russia. Nor yet, when we are considering the present _débâcle_ of
civilisation, need we interest ourselves overmuch in the immediate
occasions and circumstances of the huge quarrel. We want to know not how
Europe flared into war, but why. Our object is so to understand the
present imbroglio as to prevent, if we can, the possibility for the future
of any similar world-wide catastrophe.


Let us fix our attention on one or two salient points. Europe has often
been accustomed to watch with anxiety the rise of some potent arbiter of
her destinies who seems to arrogate to himself a large personal dominion.
There was Philip II. There was Louis XIV. There was Napoleon a hundred
years ago. Then, a mere shadow of his great ancestor, there was Napoleon
III. Then, after the Franco-German war, there was Bismarck. Now it is
Kaiser Wilhelm II. The emergence of some ambitious personality naturally
makes Europe suspicious and watchful, and leads to the formation of
leagues and confederations against him. The only thing, however, which
seems to have any power of real resistance to the potential tyrant is not
the manoeuvring of diplomats, but the steady growth of democracy in
Europe, which, in virtue of its character and principles, steadily objects
to the despotism of any given individual, and the arbitrary designs of a
personal will. We had hoped that the spread of democracies in all European
nations would progressively render dynastic wars an impossibility. The
peoples would cry out, we hoped, against being butchered to make a holiday
for any latter-day Cæsar. But democracy is a slow growth, and exists in
very varying degrees of strength in different parts of our continent.
Evidently it has not yet discovered its own power. We have sadly to
recognise that its range of influence and the new spirit which it seeks to
introduce into the world are as yet impotent against the personal
ascendancy of a monarch and the old conceptions of high politics. European
democracy is still too vague, too dispersed, too unorganised, to prevent
the breaking out of a bloody international conflict.


Europe then has still to reckon with the personal factor--with all its
vagaries and its desolating ambitions. Let us see how this has worked in
the case before us. In 1888 the present German Emperor ascended the
throne. Two years afterwards, in March 1890, the Pilot was
dropped--Bismarck resigned. The change was something more than a mere
substitution of men like Caprivi and Hohenlohe for the Iron Chancellor.
There was involved a radical alteration in policy. The Germany which was
the ideal of Bismarck's dreams was an exceedingly prosperous
self-contained country, which should flourish mainly because it developed
its internal industries as well as paid attention to its agriculture, and
secured its somewhat perilous position in the centre of Europe by skilful
diplomatic means of sowing dissension amongst its neighbours. Thus
Bismarck discouraged colonial extensions. He thought they might weaken
Germany. On the other hand, he encouraged French colonial policy, because
he thought it would divert the French from their preoccupation with the
idea of _revanche_. He played, more or less successfully, with England,
sometimes tempting her with plausible suggestions that she should join the
Teutonic Empires on the Continent, sometimes thwarting her aims by sowing
dissensions between her and her nearest neighbour, France. But there was
one empire which, certainly, Bismarck dreaded not so much because she was
actually of much importance, but because she might be. That empire was
Russia. The last thing in the world Bismarck desired was precisely that
approximation between France and Russia which ended in the strange
phenomenon of an offensive and defensive alliance between a western
republic and a semi-eastern despotic empire.


Kaiser Wilhelm II had very different ideals for Germany, and in many
points he simply reversed the policy of Bismarck. He began to develop the
German colonial empire, and in order that it might be protected he did all
in his power to encourage the formation of a large German navy. He even
allowed himself to say that "the future of Germany was on the sea." It was
part of that peculiar form of personal autocracy which the Kaiser
introduced that he should from time to time invent phrases suggestive of
different principles of his policy. Side by side with the assertion that
Germany's future was on the sea, we have the phrases "Germany wants her
place in the sun" and that the "drag" of Teutonic development is "towards
the East." The reality and imminence of "a yellow peril" was another of
his devices for stimulating the efforts of his countrymen. Thus the new
policy was expansion, evolution as a world-power, colonisation; and each
in turn brought him up against the older arrangement of European Powers.
His colonial policy, especially in Africa, led to collisions with both
France and Great Britain. The building of the fleet, the Kiel Canal, and
other details of maritime policy naturally made England very suspicious,
while the steady drag towards the East rendered wholly unavoidable the
conflict between Teutonism and the Slav races. Germany looked,
undoubtedly, towards Asia Minor, and for this reason made great advances
to and many professions of friendship for the Ottoman Empire. Turkey,
indeed, in several phrases was declared to be "the natural ally" of
Germany in the Near East. And if we ask why, the answer nowadays is
obvious. Not only was Turkey to lend herself to the encouragement of
German commercial enterprise in Asia Minor, but she was, in the judgment
of the Emperor, the one power which could in time of trouble make herself
especially obnoxious to Great Britain. She could encourage revolt in
Egypt, and still more, through the influence of Mahommedanism, stir up
disaffection in India.[2]

[2] Turkey has now joined Germany.


And now let us watch this policy in action in recent events. In 1897
Germany demanded reparation from China for the recent murder of two German
missionaries. Troops were landed at Kiao-chau Bay, a large pecuniary
indemnity of about £35,000 was refused, and Kiao-chau itself with the
adjacent territory was ceded to Germany. That was a significant
demonstration of the Emperor's determination to make his country a
world-power, so that, as was stated afterwards, nothing should occur in
the whole world in which Germany would not have her say. Meanwhile, in
Europe itself event after event occurred to prove the persistent character
of German aggressiveness. On March 31, 1905, the German Emperor landed at
Tangier, in order to aid the Sultan of Morocco in his demand for a
Conference of the Powers to check the military dispositions of France. M.
Delcassé, France's Foreign Minister, demurred to this proposal, asserting
that a Conference was wholly unnecessary. Thereupon Prince Bülow used
menacing language, and Delcassé resigned in June 1905. The Conference of
Algeçiras was held in January 1906, in which Austria proved herself "a
brilliant second" to Germany. Two years afterwards, in 1908, came still
further proofs of Germany's ambition. Austria annexed Bosnia and
Herzegovina. Russia immediately protested; so did most of the other Great
Powers. But Germany at once took up the Austrian cause, and stood "in
shining armour" side by side with her ally. Inasmuch as Russia was, in
1908, only just recovering from the effects of her disastrous war with
Japan, and was therefore in no condition to take the offensive, the Triple
Alliance gained a distinct victory. Three years later occurred another
striking event. In July 1911 the world was startled by the news that the
German gunboat _Panther_, joined shortly afterwards by the cruiser
_Berlin_, had been sent to Agadir. Clearly Berlin intended to reopen the
whole Moroccan question, and the tension between the Powers was for some
time acute. Nor did Mr. Lloyd George make it much better by a fiery speech
at the Mansion House on July 21, which considerably fluttered the
Continental dovecots. The immediate problem, however, was solved by the
cession of about one hundred thousand square miles of territory in the
Congo basin by France to Germany in compensation for German acquiescence
in the French protectorate over Morocco. I need not, perhaps, refer to
other more recent events. One point, however, must not be omitted. The
issue of the Balkan wars in 1912 caused a distinct disappointment to both
Germany and Austria. Turkey's defeat lessened the importance of the
Ottoman Empire as an ally. Austria had to curb her desires in the
direction of Salonica. And the enemies who had prevented the realisation
of wide Teutonic schemes were Servia and her protector, Russia. From this
time onwards Austria waited for an opportunity to avenge herself on
Servia, while Germany, in close union with her ally, began to study the
situation in relation to the Great Northern Empire in an eminently
bellicose spirit.


Now that we have the proper standpoint from which to watch the general
tendency of events like these, we can form some estimate of the nature of
German ambition and the results of the personal ascendancy of the Kaiser.
We speak vaguely of militarism. Fortunately, we have a very valuable
document to enable us to understand what precisely German militarism
signifies. General von Bernhardi's _Germany and the Next War_ is one of
the most interesting, as well as most suggestive, of books, intended to
illustrate the spirit of German ambition. Bernhardi writes like a
soldier. Such philosophy as he possesses he has taken from Nietzsche. His
applications of history come from Treitschke. He has persuaded himself
that the main object of human life is war, and the higher the nation the
more persistently must it pursue preparations for war. Hence the best men
in the State are the fighting men. Ethics and religion, so far as they
deprecate fighting and plead for peace, are absolutely pernicious. Culture
does not mean, as we hoped and thought, the best development of scientific
and artistic enlightenment, but merely an all-absorbing will-power, an
all-devouring ambition to be on the top and to crush every one else. The
assumption throughout is that the German is the highest specimen of
humanity. Germany is especially qualified to be the leader, and the only
way in which it can become the leader is to have such overwhelming
military power that no one has any chance of resisting. Moreover, all
methods are justified in the sacred cause of German culture--duplicity,
violence, the deliberate sowing of dissensions between possible rivals,
incitements of Asiatics to rise against Europeans. All means are to be
adopted to win the ultimate great victory, and, of course, when the
struggle comes there must be no misplaced leniency to any of the inferior
races who interpose between Germany and her legitimate place in the
sun.[3] The ideal is almost too naïve and too ferocious to be conceived by
ordinary minds. Yet here it all stands in black and white. According to
Bernhardi's volume German militarism means at least two things. First the
suppression of every other nationality except the German; second the
suppression of the whole civilian element in the population under the heel
of the German drill-sergeant. Is it any wonder that the recent war has
been conducted by Berlin with such appalling barbarism and ferocity?

[3] _Germany and the Next War_, by F. von Bernhardi. See especially Chap.
V, "World-Power or Downfall." Other works which may be consulted are
Professor J.A. Cramb's _Germany and England_ (esp. pp. 111-112) and
Professor Usher's _Pan-Germanism_.


Our inquiry so far has led to two conclusions. We have discovered by
bitter experience that a personal ascendancy, such as the German Emperor
wields, is in the highest degree perilous to the interests of peace: and
that a militarism such as that which holds in its thrall the German Empire
is an open menace to intellectual culture and to Christian ethics. But we
must not suppose that these conclusions are only true so far as they apply
to the Teutonic race, and that the same phenomena observed elsewhere are
comparatively innocuous. Alas! autocracy in any and every country seems to
be inimical to the best and highest of social needs, and militarism,
wherever found, is the enemy of pacific social development. Let us take a
few instances at haphazard of the danger of the personal factor in
European politics. There is hardly a person to be found nowadays who
defends the Crimean war, or indeed thinks that it was in any sense
inevitable. Yet if there was one man more than another whose personal will
brought it about, it was--not Lord Aberdeen who ought to have been
responsible--but Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. "The great Eltchi," as he
was called, was our Ambassador at Constantinople, a man of uncommon
strength of will, which, as is often the case with these powerful natures,
not infrequently degenerated into sheer obstinacy. He had made up his mind
that England was to support Turkey and fight with Russia, and inasmuch as
Louis Napoleon, for the sake of personal glory, had similar opinions,
France as well as England was dragged into a costly and quite useless war.
Napoleon III has already figured among those aspiring monarchs who wish
"to sit in the chair of Europe." It was his personal will once more which
sent the unhappy Maximilian to his death in Mexico, and his personal
jealousy of Prussia which launched him in the fatal enterprise "à Berlin"
in 1870. In the latter case we find another personal influence, still more
sinister--that of the Empress Eugénie, whose capricious ambition and
interference in military matters directly led to the ruinous disaster of
Sedan. The French people, who had to suffer, discovered it too late.
"Quicquid delirant reges plectuntur Achivi." Or take another more recent
instance. Who was responsible for the Russo-Japanese war? Not Kuropatkin,
assuredly, nor yet the Russian Prime Minister, but certain of the Grand
Dukes and probably the Tsar himself, who were interested in the forests of
the Yalu district and had no mind to lose the money they had invested in a
purely financial operation. The truth is that modern Europe has no room
for "prancing Pro-consuls," and no longer takes stock in autocrats. They
are, or ought to be, superannuated, out of date. To use an expressive
colloquialism they are "a back number." The progress of the world demands
the development of peoples; it has no use for mediæval monarchies like
that of Potsdam. One of the things we ought to banish for ever is the
horrible idea that whole nations can be massacred and civilisation
indefinitely postponed to suit the individual caprice of a bragging and
self-opinionated despot who calls himself God's elect. Now that we know
the ruin he can cause, let us fight shy of the Superman, and the whole
range of ideas which he connotes.


Militarism is another of our maladies. Here we must distinguish with some
care. A military spirit is one thing: militarism is another. It is
probable that no nation is worthy to survive which does not possess a
military spirit, or, in other words, the instinct to defend itself and its
liberties against an aggressor. It is a virtue which is closely interfused
with high moral qualities--self-respect, a proper pride,
self-reliance--and is compatible with real modesty and sobriety of mind.
But militarism has nothing ethical about it. It is not courage, but sheer
pugnacity and quarrelsomeness, and as exemplified in our modern history it
means the dominion of a clique, the reign of a few self-opinionated
officials. That these individuals should possess only a limited
intelligence is almost inevitable. Existing for the purposes of war, they
naturally look at everything from an oblique and perverted point of view.
They regard nations, not as peaceful communities of citizens, but as
material to be worked up into armies. Their assumption is that war, being
an indelible feature in the history of our common humanity, must be
ceaselessly prepared for by the piling up of huge armaments and weapons of
destruction. Their invariable motto is that if you wish for peace you must
prepare for war--"si vis pacem, para bellum"--a notoriously false
apophthegm, because armaments are provocative, not soothing, and the man
who is a swash-buckler invites attack. It is needless to say that
thousands of military men do not belong to this category: no one dreads
war so much as the man who knows what it means. I am not speaking of
individuals, I am speaking of a particular caste, military officials in
the abstract, if you like to put it so, who, because their business is
war, have not the slightest idea what the pacific social development of a
people really means. Militarism is simply a one-sided, partial point of
view, and to enforce that upon a nation is as though a man with a
pronounced squint were to be accepted as a man of normal vision. We have
seen what it involves in Germany. In a less offensive form, however, it
exists in most states, and its root idea is usually that the civilian as
such belongs to a lower order of humanity, and is not so important to the
State as the officer who discharges vague and for the most part useless
functions in the War Office.[4] It is a swollen, over-developed militarism
that has got us into the present mess, and one of our earliest concerns,
when the storm is over, must be to put it into its proper place. Let him
who uses the sword perish by the sword.

[4] Thus it was the Military party in Bulgaria which drove her to the
disastrous second Balkan war, and the Military party in Austria which
insisted on the ultimatum to Servia.


And I fear that there is another ancient piece of our international
strategy which has been found wanting. I approach with some hesitation the
subject of diplomacy, because it contains so many elements of value to a
state, and has given so many opportunities for active and original minds.
Its worst feature is that its operations have to be conducted in secret:
its best is that it affords a fine exemplification of the way in which the
history and fortunes of states are--to their advantage--dependent upon
the initiative of gifted and patriotic individuals. But if we look back
over the history of recent years, we shall discover that diplomacy has not
fulfilled its especial mission. According to a well-known cynical dictum a
diplomatist is a man who is paid to lie for his country. And, indeed, it
is one of the least gracious aspects of the diplomatic career that it
seems necessarily to involve the use of a certain amount of chicanery and
falsehood, the object being to jockey opponents by means of skilful ruses
into a position in which they find themselves at a disadvantage. Clearly,
however, there are better aims than these for diplomacy--one aim in
particular, which is the preservation of peace. A diplomat is supposed to
have failed if the result of his work leads to war. It is not his business
to bring about war. Any king or prime minister or general can do that,
very often with conspicuous ease. A diplomat is a skilful statesman
versed in international politics, who makes the best provision he can for
the interests of his country, carefully steering it away from those rocks
of angry hostility on which possibly his good ship may founder.


Now what has diplomacy done for us during the last few years? It has
formed certain understandings and alliances between different states; it
has tried to safeguard our position by creating sympathetic bonds with
those nations who are allied to us in policy. It has also attempted to
produce that kind of "Balance of Power" in Europe which on its own showing
makes for peace. This Balance of Power, so often and so mysteriously
alluded to by the diplomatic world, has become a veritable fetish. Perhaps
its supreme achievement was reached when two autocratic monarchs--the Tsar
of Russia and the German Emperor--solemnly propounded a statement, as we
have seen, at Port Baltic that the Balance of Power, as distributed
between the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente, had proved itself
valuable in the interests of European peace. That was only two years ago,
and the thing seems a mockery now. If we examine precisely what is meant
by a Balance of Power, we shall see that it presupposes certain conditions
of animosity and attempts to neutralise them by the exhibition of superior
or, at all events, equivalent forces. A Balance of Power in the
continental system assumes, for all practical purposes, that the nations
of Europe are ready to fly at each other's throats, and that the only way
to deter them is to make them realise how extremely perilous to themselves
would be any such military enterprise. Can any one doubt that this is the
real meaning of the phrase? If we listen to the Delphic oracles of
diplomacy on this subject of the Balance of Power, we shall understand
that in nine cases out of ten a man invoking this phrase means that he
wants the Balance of Power to be favourable to himself. It is not so much
an exact equipoise that he desires, as a certain tendency of the scales to
dip in his direction. If Germany feels herself weak she not only
associates Austria and Italy with herself, but looks eastward to get the
assistance of Turkey, or, perhaps, attempts--as it so happens without any
success--to create sympathy for herself in the United States of America.
If, on the other hand, France feels herself in danger, she not only forms
an alliance with Russia, but also an entente with England and, on the
principle that the friends of one's friends ought to be accepted, produces
a further entente between England and Russia. England, on her part, if for
whatever reason she feels that she is liable to attack, goes even so far
as to make an alliance with an Asiatic nation--Japan--in order to
safeguard her Asiatic interests in India. Thus, when diplomatists invoke
the necessity of a Balance of Power, they are really trying to work for a
preponderance of power on their side. It is inevitable that this should be
so. An exact Balance of Power must result in a stalemate.


Observe what has happened to Great Britain during recent years. When she
was ruled by that extremely clear-headed though obstinate statesman, Lord
Salisbury, she remained, at his advice, outside the circle of continental
entanglements and rejoiced in what was known as a policy of "Splendid
Isolation." It was, of course, a selfish policy. It rested on sound
geographical grounds, because, making use of the fortunate accident that
Great Britain is an island, it suggested that she could pursue her own
commercial career and, thanks to the English Channel, let the whole of the
rest of the world go hang. Such a position could not possibly last, partly
because Great Britain is not only an island, but also an empire scattered
over the seven seas; partly because we could not remain alien from those
social and economic interests which necessarily link our career with
continental nations. So we became part of the continental system, and it
became necessary for us to choose friends and partners and mark off other
peoples as our enemies. It might have been possible a certain number of
years ago for us to join the Triple Alliance. At one time Prince Bülow
seemed anxious that we should do so, and Mr. Chamberlain on our side was
by no means unwilling. But gradually we discovered that Germany was
intensely jealous of us as a colonial power and as a great sea-power, and
for this reason, as well as for others, we preferred to compose our
ancient differences with France and promote an understanding between
English and French as the nearest of neighbours and the most convenient of
allies. Observe, however, that every step in the process was a challenge,
and a challenge which the rival aimed at could not possibly ignore. The
conclusion of the French Entente Cordiale in 1904, the launching of the
_Dreadnought_ in 1906, the formation of the Russian agreement in 1907, and
certain changes which we made in our own army were obviously intended as
warnings to Germany that we were dangerous people to attack.[5] Germany
naturally sought reprisals in her fashion, and gradually Europe was
transformed into a huge armed camp, divided into two powerful
organisations which necessarily watched each other with no friendly gaze.

[5] See _The War of Steel and Gold_, by H.N. Brailsford (Bell)--opening
chapter on "The Balance of Power."


I do not say that the course of events could possibly have been altered.
When once we became part of the continental system, it was necessary for
us to choose between friends and enemies. I only say that if diplomacy
calls itself an agency for preventing war, it cannot be said to be
altogether successful. Its famous doctrine of a Balance of Power is in
reality a mere phrase. If one combination be represented as X and the
other as Y, and X increases itself up to X^2, it becomes necessary that Y
should similarly increase itself to Y^2, a process which, clearly, does
not make for peace. I should imagine that the best of diplomatists are
quite aware of this. Indeed, there seems reason to suppose that Sir Edward
Grey, owing to definite experience in the last two years, not only
discovered the uselessness of the principle of a Balance of Power, but did
his best to substitute something entirely different--the Concert of
Europe. All the negotiations he conducted during and after the two Balkan
wars, his constant effort to summon London Conferences and other things,
were intended to create a Concert of European Powers, discussing amongst
themselves the best measures to secure the peace of the world. Alas! the
whole of the fabric was destroyed, the fair prospects hopelessly clouded
over, by the intemperate ambition of the Kaiser, who, just because he
believed that the Balance of Power was favourable to himself, that Russia
was unready, that France was involved in serious domestic trouble, that
England was on the brink of civil war, set fire to the magazine and
engineered the present colossal explosion.


One cannot feel sure that diplomacy as hitherto recognised will be able,
or, indeed, ought to be able, to survive the shock. In this country, as in
others, diplomacy has been considered a highly specialised science, which
can only be conducted by trained men and by methods of entire secrecy. As
a mere matter of fact, England has far less control over her foreign
policy than any of the continental Powers. In Germany foreign affairs come
before the Reichstag, in France they are surveyed by the Senate, in
America there is a special department of the Senate empowered to deal
with foreign concerns. In Great Britain there is nothing of the kind.
Parliament has practically no control whatsoever over foreign affairs, it
is not even consulted in the formation of treaties and arrangements with
other nations. Nor yet has the Cabinet any real control, because it must
act together as a whole, and a determined criticism of a foreign secretary
means the resignation of the Government. Fortunately, our diplomacy has
been left for the most part in very able hands. Nevertheless, it is surely
a paradox that the English people should know so little about foreign
affairs as to be absolutely incapable of any control in questions that
affect their life or death. Democracy, though it is supposed to be
incompetent to manage foreign relations, could hardly have made a worse
mess of it than the highly-trained Chancelleries. When the new Europe
arises out of the ashes of the old, it is not very hazardous to prophesy
that diplomacy, with its secret methods, its belief in phrases and
abstract principles, and its assumption of a special professional
knowledge, will find the range of its powers and the sphere of its
authority sensibly curtailed.



The problems that lie before us in the reconstitution of Europe are so
many and so various that we can only hope to take a few separately,
especially those which seem to throw most light on a possible future. I
have used the phrase "reconstitution of Europe," because I do not know how
otherwise to characterise the general trend of the ideas germinating in
many men's minds as they survey the present crisis and its probable
outcome. Europe will have to be reconstituted in more respects than one.
At the present moment, or rather before the present war broke out, it was
governed by phrases and conceptions which had become superannuated. An
uneasy equipoise between the Great Powers represented the highest
culmination of our diplomatic efforts. Something must clearly be
substituted for this uneasy equipoise. It is not enough that after
tremendous efforts the relative balance of forces between great states
should, on the whole, dissuade them from war. As a matter of fact, it has
not done so. The underlying conception has been that nations are so
ardently bellicose that they require to be restrained from headlong
conflicts by the doubtful and dangerous character of such military efforts
as might be practicable. Hence Europe, as divided into armed camps,
represents one of the old-fashioned ideas that we want to abolish. We wish
to put in its stead something like a Concert of Europe. We have before our
eyes a vague, but inspiring vision not of tremendous and rival armaments,
but of a United States of Europe, each component element striving for the
public weal, and for further advances in general cultivation and welfare
rather than commercial prosperity. The last is a vital point, for it does
not require much knowledge of modern history to discover that the race for
commercial advantage is exactly one of the reasons why Europe is at war at
the present moment. A vast increase in the commercial prosperity of any
one state means a frantic effort on the part of its rivals to pull down
this advantage. In some fashion, therefore, we have to substitute for
endless competition the principle of co-operation, national welfare being
construed at the same time not in terms of overwhelming wealth, but of
thorough sanity and health in the body corporate.


All this sounds shadowy and abstruse until it is translated into something
concrete and definite. What is it we want to dispossess and banish from
the Europe of to-day? We have to find something to take the place of what
is called militarism. I dealt with the general features of militarism in
my last essay; I will therefore content myself with saying that militarism
in Europe has meant two things above all. First, the worship of might, as
expressed in formidable armaments; next, the corresponding worship of
wealth to enable the burden of armaments to be borne with comparative
ease. The worship of naked strength involves several deductions. Right
disappears, or rather is translated in terms of might. International
morality equally disappears. Individuals, it is true, seek to be governed
by the consciousness of universal moral laws. But a nation, as such, has
no conscience, and is not bound to recognise the supremacy of anything
higher than itself. Morality, though it may bind the individual, does not
bind the State, or, as General von Bernhardi has expressed it, "political
morality differs from individual morality because there is no power above
the State." In similar fashion the worship of wealth carries numerous
consequences with it, which are well worthy of consideration. But the main
point, so far as it affects my present argument, is that it substitutes
materialistic objects of endeavour for ethical and spiritual aims. Once
more morality is defeated. The ideal is not the supremacy of good, but the
supremacy of that range and sphere of material efficiency that is
procurable by wealth.


Let us try to be more concrete still, and in this context let us turn to
such definite statements as are available of the views entertained by our
chief statesmen, politicians, and leaders of public opinion. I turn to the
speech which Mr. Asquith delivered on Friday evening, September 25, in
Dublin, as part of the crusade which he and others are undertaking for the
general enlightenment of the country. "I should like," said Mr. Asquith,
"to ask your attention and that of my fellow-countrymen to the end which,
in this war, we ought to keep in view. Forty-four years ago, at the time
of the war of 1870, Mr. Gladstone used these words. He said: 'The greatest
triumph of our time will be the enthronement of the idea of public right
as the governing idea of European politics.' Nearly fifty years have
passed. Little progress, it seems, has as yet been made towards that good
and beneficent change, but it seems to me to be now at this moment as good
a definition as we can have of our European policy--the idea of public
right. What does it mean when translated into concrete terms? It means,
first and foremost, the clearing of the ground by the definite repudiation
of militarism as the governing factor in the relation of states and of the
future moulding of the European world. It means next that room must be
found and kept for the independent existence and the free development of
the smaller nationalities, each with a corporate consciousness of its
own.... And it means, finally, or it ought to mean, perhaps, by a slow and
gradual process, the substitution for force, for the clash of competing
ambition, for groupings and alliances, of a real European partnership
based on the recognition of equal right and established and enforced by a
common will."[6]

Much the same language has been used by Sir Edward Grey and by Mr. Winston

[6] _The Times_, September 26.


Observe that there are three points here. In the first place--if I do not
misapprehend Mr. Asquith's drift--in working for the abolition of
militarism, we are working for a great diminution in those armaments which
have become a nightmare to the modern world. The second point is that we
have to help in every fashion small nationalities, or, in other words,
that we have to see that countries like Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, the
Scandinavian countries, Greece and the Balkan States, and, perhaps, more
specially, the Slav nationalities shall have a free chance in Europe,
shall "have their place in the sun," and not be browbeaten and raided and
overwhelmed by their powerful neighbours. And the third point, perhaps
more important than all, is the creation of what Mr. Asquith calls a
"European partnership based on the recognition of equal right and
established and enforced by a common will." We have to recognise that
there is such a thing as public right; that there is such a thing as
international morality, and that the United States of Europe have to keep
as their ideal the affirmation of this public right, and to enforce it by
a common will. That creation of a common will is at once the most
difficult and the most imperative thing of all. Every one must be aware
how difficult it is. We know, for instance, how the common law is enforced
in any specified state, because it has a "sanction," or, in other words,
because those who break it can be punished. But the weakness for a long
time past of international law, from the time of Grotius onwards, is that
it apparently has no real sanction. How are we to punish an offending
state? It can only be done by the gradual development of a public
conscience in Europe, and by means of definite agreements so that the rest
of the civilised world shall compel a recalcitrant member to abide by the
common decrees. If only this common will of Europe ever came into
existence, we should have solved most, if not all, our troubles. But the
question is: How?


It may be depressing, but it certainly is an instructive lesson to go back
just a hundred years ago, when the condition of Europe was in many
respects similar to that which prevails now. The problems that unrolled
themselves before the nations afford useful points of comparison. The
great enemy was then Napoleon and France. Napoleon's views of empire were
precisely of that universal predatory type which we have learnt to
associate with the Kaiser and the German Empire. The autocratic rule of
the single personal will was weighing heavily on nearly every quarter of
the globe. Then came a time when the principle of nationality, which
Napoleon had everywhere defied, gradually grew in strength until it was
able to shake off the yoke of the conqueror. In Germany, and Spain, and
Italy the principle of nationality steadily grew, while in England there
had always been a steady opposition to the tyranny of Napoleon on the
precise ground that it interfered with the independent existence of
nations. The defeat of Napoleon, therefore, was hailed by our forefathers
a hundred years ago as the dawn of a new era. Four great Powers--Great
Britain, Russia, Austria, and Prussia--had before them as their task the
settlement of Europe, one of the noblest tasks that could possibly be
assigned to those who, having suffered under the old regime, were desirous
to secure peace and base it on just and equitable foundations. There is
thus an obvious parallelism between the conditions of affairs in 1815 and
those which will, as we hope, obtain if and when the German tyrant is
defeated and the nations of Europe commence their solemn task of
reconstituting Europe. Of course, we must not press the analogy too far.
The dawn of a new era might have been welcomed in 1815, but the proviso
was always kept in the background that most of the older traditions should
be preserved. Diplomacy was still inspired by its traditional watchwords.
Above all, the transformation so keenly and so vaguely desired was in the
hands of sovereigns who were more anxious about their own interests than
perhaps was consistent with the common weal.


At first the four Great Powers proceeded very tentatively. They wished to
confine France--the dangerous element in Europe--within her legitimate
boundaries. Next, they desired to arrange an equilibrium of Powers
(observe, in passing, the old doctrine of the Balance of Power) so that no
individual state should for the future be in a position to upset the
general tranquillity. Revolutionary France was to be held under by the
re-establishment of its ancient dynasty. Hence Louis XVIII was to be
restored. The other object was to be obtained by a careful parcelling out
of the various territories of Europe, on the basis, so far as possible, of
old rights consecrated by treaties. It is unnecessary to go into detail in
this matter. We may say summarily that Germany was reconstituted as a
Confederation of Sovereign States; Austria received the Presidency of the
Federal Diet; in Italy Lombardo-Venetia was erected into a kingdom under
Austrian hegemony, while the Low Countries were annexed to the crown of
Holland so as to form, under the title of the United Netherlands, an
efficient barrier against French aggression northwards. It was troublesome
to satisfy Alexander I of Russia because of his ambition to secure for
himself the kingdom of Poland. Indeed, as we shall see presently, the
personality of Alexander was a permanent stumbling-block to most of the
projects of European statesmen. As a whole, it cannot be denied that this
particular period of history, between Napoleon's abdication in 1814 and
the meeting of the European Congress at Verona in 1882, presented a
profoundly distressing picture of international egotism. The ruin of their
common enemy, relieving the members of the European family from the
necessity of maintaining concord, also released their individual
selfishnesses and their long-suppressed mutual jealousies.[7]

[7] See _The Confederation of Europe_, by Walter Alison Phillips
(Longmans), esp. Chapters V and VI. Cf. also _Political and Literary
Essays_, by the Earl of Cromer, 2nd series (Macmillan), on _The
Confederation of Europe_.


The figure of Alexander I dominates this epoch. His character exhibits a
very curious mixture of autocratic ambition and a mystical vein of sheer
undiluted idealism. Probably it would be true to say that he began by
being an idealist, and was forced by the pressure of events to adopt
reactionary tactics. Perhaps also, deeply embedded in the Russian nature
we generally find a certain unpracticalness and a tendency to mystical
dreams, far remote from the ordinary necessities of every day. It was
Alexander's dream to found a Union of Europe, and to consecrate its
political by its spiritual aims. He retained various nebulous thinkers
around his throne; he also derived much of his crusade from the
inspiration of a woman--Baroness von Krüdener, who is supposed to have
owed her own conversion to the teaching of a pious cobbler. Even if we
have to describe Alexander's dream as futile, we cannot afford to dismiss
it as wholly inoperative. For it had as its fruit the so-called Holy
Alliance, which was in a sense the direct ancestor of the peace programmes
of the Hague, and, through a different chain of ideas, the Monroe Doctrine
of the United States. We are apt sometimes to confuse the Holy Alliance
with the Grand Alliance. The second, however, was a union of the four
Great Powers, to which France was ultimately admitted. The first was not
an alliance at all, hardly, perhaps, even a treaty. It was in its original
conception a single-hearted attempt to arrange Europe on the principles of
the Christian religion, the various nations being regarded as brothers who
ought to have proper brotherly affection for one another. We know that,
eventually, the Holy Alliance became an instrument of something like
autocratic despotism, but in its essence it was so far from being
reactionary that, according to the Emperor Alexander, it involved the
grant of liberal constitutions by princes to their subjects.


But just because it bound its signatories to act on certain vague
principles for no well-defined ends, it was bound to become the mockery
of diplomatists trained in an older school. Metternich, for instance,
called it a "loud sounding nothing"; Castlereagh "a piece of sublime
mysticism and nonsense," while Canning declared that for his part he
wanted no more of "Areopagus and the like of that." What happened on this
occasion is what ordinarily happens with well-intentioned idealists who
happen also to be amateur statesmen. Trying to regulate practical
politics, the Holy Alliance was deflected from its original purpose
because its chief author, Alexander I, came under the influence of
Metternich and was frightened by revolutionary movements in Italy and
within his own dominions. Thus the instrument originally intended to
preserve nationalities and secure the constitutional rights of people was
converted into a weapon for the use of autocrats only anxious to preserve
their own thrones. Nevertheless, though it may have been a failure, the
Holy Alliance did not leave itself without witness in the modern world. It
tried to regulate ordinary diplomacy in accordance with ethical and
spiritual principles; and the dreaming mind of its first founder was
reproduced in that later descendant of his who initiated the Hague
propaganda of peace.


"These things were written for our ensamples," and we should be foolish
indeed if we did not take stock of them with an anxious eye to the future.
The main and startling fact is that with every apparent desire for the
re-establishment of Europe on better lines, Europe, as a matter of fact,
drifted back into the old welter of conflicting nationalities, while the
very instrument of peace--the Holy Alliance--was used by autocratic
governments for the subjection of smaller nationalities and the
destruction of popular freedom. It is accordingly very necessary that we
should study the conditions under which so startling a transformation took
place. Even in England herself it cannot be said that the people were in
any sense benefited by the conclusions of the war. They had borne its
burdens, but at its end found themselves hampered as before in the free
development of a democracy. Meanwhile, Europe at large presented a
spectacle of despotism tempered by occasional popular outbreaks, while in
the majority of cases the old fetters were riveted anew by cunning and by
no means disinterested hands.


What we have to ask ourselves is whether the conditions a hundred years
ago have any real similarity with those likely to obtain when Europe
begins anew to set its house in order. To this, fortunately, we can return
a decided negative. We have already shown that the general outlines
present a certain similarity, but the parallelism is at most superficial,
and in many respects deceptive. A despot has to be overthrown, an end has
to be put to a particular form of autocratic regime, and smaller states
have to be protected against the exactions of their stronger
neighbours--that is the extent of the analogy. But it is to be hoped that
we shall commence our labours under much better auspices. The personal
forces involved, for instance, are wholly different. Amongst those who
took upon themselves to solve the problems of the time is to be found the
widest possible divergence in character and aims. On the one side we have
a sheer mystic and idealist in the person of Alexander I, with all kinds
of visionary characters at his side--La Harpe, who was his tutor, a
Jacobin pure and simple, and a fervent apostle of the teachings of Jean
Jacques Rousseau; Czartoryski, a Pole, sincerely anxious for the
regeneration of his kingdom; and Capo d'Istria, a champion of Greek
nationality. To these we have to add the curious figure of the Baroness
von Krüdener, an admirable representative of the religious sickliness of
the age. "I have immense things to say to him," she said, referring to the
Emperor, "the Lord alone can prepare his heart to receive them." She had,
indeed, many things to say to him, but her influence was evanescent and
his Imperial heart was hardened eventually to quite different issues.


Absolutely at the other extreme was a man like Metternich, trained in the
old school of politics, wily with the wiliness of a practised diplomatic
training, naturally impatient of speculative dreamers, thoroughly
practical in the only sense in which he understood the term, that is to
say, determined to preserve Austrian supremacy. To a reactionary of this
kind the Holy Alliance represented nothing but words. He knew, with the
cynicism bred of long experience of mankind, that the rivalries and
jealousies between different states would prevent their union in any
common purpose, and in the long run the intensity with which he pursued
his objects, narrow and limited as it was, prevailed over the large and
vague generosity of Alexander's nature. To the same type belonged both
Talleyrand and Richelieu, who concentrated themselves on the single task
of winning back for France her older position in the European
commonwealth--a laudable aim for patriots to espouse, but one which was
not likely to help the cause of the Holy Alliance.


Half-way between these two extremes of unpractical idealists and extremely
practical but narrow-minded reactionaries come the English statesmen,
Castlereagh, Wellington, and Canning. Much injustice has been done to the
first of these. For many critics have been misled by Byron's denunciation
of Castlereagh, just as others have spoken lightly of the stubborn
conservatism of Wellington, or the easy and half-cynical insouciance of
the author of the _Anti-Jacobin_. As a matter of fact, Castlereagh was by
no means an opponent of the principles of the Holy Alliance. He joined
with Russia, Austria, and Prussia as a not unwilling member of the
successive Congresses, but both he and Wellington, true to their national
instincts, sought to subordinate all proposals to the interests of Great
Britain, and to confine discussions to immediate objects, such as the
limitation of French power and the suppression of dangerous revolutionary
ideas. They were not, it is true, idealists in the sense in which
Alexander I understood the term. And yet, on the whole, both Castlereagh
and Canning did more for the principle of nationality than any of the
other diplomatists of the time. The reason why Canning broke with the Holy
Alliance, after Troppau, Laibach, and Verona, was because he discerned
something more than a tendency on the part of Continental States to crush
the free development of peoples, especially in reference to the
Latin-American States of South America. It is true that in these matters
he and his successor were guided by a shrewd notion of British interest,
but it would be hardly just to blame them on this account. "You know my
politics well enough," wrote Canning in 1822 to the British Ambassador in
St. Petersburg, "to know what I mean when I say that for Europe I should
be desirous now and then to read England." Castlereagh was, no doubt, more
conciliatory than Canning, but he saw the fundamental difficulty of
organising an international system and yet holding the balance between
conflicting nations. And thus we get to a result such as seems to have
rejoiced the heart of Canning, when he said in 1823 that "the issue of
Verona has split the one and indivisible alliance into three parts as
distinct as the constitutions of England, France, and Muscovy." "Things
are getting back," he added, "to a wholesome state again. Every nation for
itself and God for us all. Only bid your Emperor (Alexander I) be quiet,
for the time for Areopagus and the like of that is gone by."[8]

[8] _The Confederation of Europe_, by W.A. Phillips, p. 280.


If, then, the ardent hopes of a regenerated Europe in the early years of
the nineteenth century failed, the result was due in large measure to the
fact that the business was committed to wrong hands. The organs for
working the change were for the most part autocratic monarchs and
old-world diplomatists--the last people in the world likely to bring about
a workable millennium. A great crisis demands very careful manipulation.
Cynicism must not be allowed to play any part in it. Traditional
watchwords are not of much use. Theoretical idealism itself may turn out
to be a most formidable stumbling-block. Yet no one can doubt that a
solution of the problem, whenever it is arrived at, must come along the
path of idealism. Long ago a man of the world was defined as a man who in
every serious crisis is invariably wrong. He is wrong because he applies
old-fashioned experience to a novel situation--old wine in new
bottles--and because he has no faith in generous aspirations, having noted
their continuous failure in the past. Yet, after all, it is only faith
which can move mountains, and the Holy Alliance itself was not so much
wrong in the principles to which it appealed as it was in the personages
who signed it. We have noticed already that, like all other great ideas,
it did not wholly die. The propaganda of peace, however futile may be some
of the discussions of pacifists, is the heritage which even so
wrong-headed a man as Alexander I has left to the world. The idea of
arbitration between nations, the solution of difficulties by arguments
rather than by swords, the power which democracies hold in their hands for
guiding the future destinies of the world--all these in their various
forms remain with us as legacies of that splendid, though ineffective,
idealism which lay at the root of the Holy Alliance.


And now after this digression, which has been necessary to clear the
ground, and also to suggest apt parallels, let us return to what Mr.
Asquith said in Dublin on the ultimate objects of the present war. He
borrowed from Mr. Gladstone the phrase "the enthronement of the idea of
public right as the governing idea of European politics," and in
developing it as applicable to the present situation he pointed out that
for us three definite objects are involved. The first, assented to by
every publicist of the day, apart from those educated in Germany, is the
wholesale obliteration of the notion that states exist simply for the sake
of going to war. This kind of militarism, in all its different aspects,
will have to be abolished. The next point brings us at once to the heart
of some of the controversies raised in 1815 and onwards. "Room," said Mr.
Asquith--agreeing in this matter with Mr. Winston Churchill--"room must be
found, and kept, for the independent existence and the free development of
the smaller nationalities, each with a corporate consciousness of its
own." Now this is a plain issue which every one can understand. Not only
did we go to war in order to help a small nationality--Belgium--but the
very principle of nationality is one of the familiar phrases which have
characterised British policy through the greater part of the nineteenth
century. Our principle is to live and let live, to allow smaller states to
exist and thrive by the side of their large neighbours without undue
interference on the part of the latter. Each distinct nationality is to
have its voice, at all events, in the free direction of its own future.
And, above all, its present and future position must be determined not by
the interests of the big Powers, but by a sort of plebiscite of the whole


Applying such principles to Europe as it exists to-day, and as it is
likely to exist to-morrow, we arrive at certain very definite conclusions.
The independence of Belgium must be secured, so also must the independence
of Holland and Denmark. Alsace and Lorraine must, if the inhabitants so
wish, be restored to France, and there can be little doubt that Alsace at
all events will be only too glad to resume her old allegiance to the
French nation. The Duchies of Schleswig-Holstein must also decide whether
they would like to be reunited to Denmark. And we are already aware that
the Tsar has promised to give independence to the country of Poland--a
point which forms a curious analogy with the same offer originally
proposed by the Tsar's ancestor, Alexander I. Of course, these do not
exhaust by any means the changes that must be forthcoming. Finland will
have to be liberated; those portions of Transylvania which are akin to
Roumania must be allowed to gravitate towards their own stock. Italy must
arrogate to herself--if she is wise enough to join her forces with those
of the Triple Entente--those territories which come under the general
title of "unredeemed Italy"--the Trentino and Trieste, to say nothing of
what Italy claims on the Adriatic littoral. Possibly the greatest changes
of all will take place in reference to the Slavs. Servia and Montenegro
will clearly wish to incorporate in a great Slav kingdom a great many of
their kinsmen who at present are held in uneasy subjection by Austria.[9]
Nor must we forget how these same principles apply to the Teutonic States.
If the principle of nationality is to guide us, we must preserve the
German nation, even though we desire to reduce its dangerous elements to
impotence. Prussia must remain the home of all those Germans who accept
the hegemony of Berlin, but it does not follow that the southern states of
the German Empire--who have not been particularly fond of their northern
neighbours--should have to endure any longer the Prussian yoke. Lastly,
the German colonies can hardly be permitted to remain under the dominion
of the Kaiser.[10] Here are only a few of the changes which may
metamorphose the face of Europe as a direct result of enforcing the
principle of nationalities.

[9] The entrance of Turkey into the quarrel of course brings new factors
into the ultimate settlement.

[10] Cf. _Who is Responsible?_ by Cloudesley Brereton (Harrap), Chapter
IV, "The Settlement."


But there is a further point to which Mr. Asquith referred, one which is
more important than anything else, because it represents the far-off ideal
of European peace and the peace of the world. "We have got to substitute
by a slow and gradual process," said Mr. Asquith, "instead of force,
instead of the clash of compelling ambition, instead of groupings and
alliances, a real European partnership, based on the recognition of equal
right and established and enforced by a common will." There we have the
whole crux of the situation, and, unfortunately, we are forced to add, its
main difficulty. For if we desire to summarise in a single sentence the
rock on which European negotiations from 1815 to 1829 ultimately split, it
was the union of two such contradictory things as independent
nationalities and an international committee or system of public law.
Intrinsically the two ideas are opposed, for one suggests absolute
freedom, and the other suggests control, superintendence, interference. If
the one recognises the entire independence of a nationality within its own
limits, the other seeks to enforce something of the nature of a European
police to see that every nation does its duty. It is true, of course, that
this public will of Europe must be incorporated in a kind of parliament,
to which the separate nations must send their representatives, and that
thus in a fashion each nation will have its proper say in any of the
conclusions arrived at. But here the difficulty starts anew owing to the
relative size, and therefore the relative importance of the different
states constituting the union. If all alike are given an equivalent vote,
it is rather hard on the big states, which represent larger numbers and
therefore control larger destinies. If, on the other hand, we adopt the
principle of proportional representation, we may be pretty certain that
the larger states will press somewhat heavily on the smaller. For
instance, suppose that some state violates, or threatens to violate, the
public law of the world. In that case the Universal Union must, of course,
try to bring it to reason by peaceful means first, but if that should
fail, the only other alternative is by force of arms. If once we admit the
right of the world-organisation to coerce its recalcitrant members, what
becomes of the sovereign independence of nations? That, as we have said,
was the main difficulty confronting the European peace-maker of a hundred
years ago, and, however we may choose to regard it, it remains a
difficulty, we will not say insuperable, but at all events exceedingly
formidable, for the European peace-makers of the twentieth century. The
antithesis is the old antithesis between order and progress; between
coercion and independence; between the public voice, or, if we like to
phrase it so, the public conscience, and the arbitrariness and
irresponsibility of individual units. Or we might put the problem in a
still wider form. A patriot is a man who believes intensely in the rights
of his own nationality. But if we have to form a United States of Europe
we shall have gradually to soften, diminish, or perhaps even destroy the
narrower conceptions of patriotism. The ultimate evolution of democracy in
the various peoples means the mutual recognition of their common
interests, as against despotism and autocracy. It is clear that such a
process must gradually wipe out the distinction between the different
peoples, and substitute for particularism something of universal import.
In such a process what, we ask once more, becomes of the principle of
nationality, which is one of our immediate aims? In point of fact, it is
obvious that, from a strictly logical standpoint, the will of Europe, or
the public right of Europe, and the free independence of nationalities are
antithetical terms, and will continue to remain so, however cunningly, by
a series of compromises, we may conceal their essential divergence. That
is the real problem which confronts us quite as obstinately as it did our
forefathers after the destruction of the Napoleonic power. And it will
have to be faced by all reformers, whether they are pacifists or
idealists, on ethical or political grounds.


What is the outcome of the foregoing considerations? The only moral at
present which I am disposed to draw is one which may be addressed to
pacifists in general, and to all those who avail themselves of large and
generous phrases, such as "the public will of Europe," or "the common
consciousness of civilised states." The solution of the problem before us
is not to be gained by the use of abstract terms, but by very definite and
concrete experience used in the most practical way to secure immediate
reforms. We demand, for instance, the creation of what is to all intents
and purposes an international federal system applied to Europe at large.
Now it is obvious that a federal system can be created amongst nations
more or less at the same level of civilisation, inspired by much the same
ideals, acknowledging the same end of their political and social activity.
But in what sense is this true of Europe as we know it? There is every
kind of diversity between the constituent elements of the suggested
federation. There is no real uniformity of political institutions and
ideals. But in order that our object may be realised it is precisely this
uniformity of political institutions and ideals amongst the nations which
we require. How is a public opinion formed in any given state? It comes
into being owing to a certain community of sentiments, opinions, and
prejudices, and without such community it cannot develop. The same thing
holds true of international affairs. If we desiderate the public voice of
Europe, or the public conscience of Europe, Europe must grow to be far
more concordant than it is at present, both in actual political
institutions and in those inspiring ideals which form the life-blood of
institutions. How many states, for instance, recognise or put into
practice a really representative system of government?


If we turn to the programme of the pacifists, we shall be confronted by
similar difficulties. Pacifism, as such, involves an appeal to all the
democracies, asking them to come into line, as it were, for the execution
of certain definite projects intended to seek peace and ensure it. The
first stage of the peace movement is the general recognition of the
principle of arbitration between states. That first period has, we may
take it, been already realised. The second stage is the recognition of
compulsory arbitration. When, in 1907, the second Hague Conference was
held, this principle was supported by thirty-two different states,
representing more than a thousand million human beings. Something like
three or four hundred millions remained not yet prepared to admit the
principle in its entirety. I may remark in passing that the verbal
acceptance of a general principle is one thing, the application, as we
have lately had much reason to discover, is quite another. We may
recognise, however, that this second stage of the pacifist programme has,
undoubtedly, made large advances. But of course it must necessarily be
followed by its consequence, a third stage which shall ensure respect for,
and obedience to arbitration verdicts. Recalcitrant states will have to be
coerced, and the one thing that can coerce them is an international police
administered by an international executive power. That is to say, we must
have a parliament of parliaments, a universal parliament, the
representatives of which must be selected by the different constituent
members of the United States of Europe. When this has been done, and only
when this has been done, can we arrive at a fourth stage, that of a
general disarmament. In the millennium that is to be it is only the
international police which shall be allowed to use weapons of war in order
to execute the decrees of the central parliament representing the common
European will.


Here we have all the old difficulties starting anew, and especially the
main one--democratic unanimity. How far the democracies of the European
Commonwealth can work in unison is one of the problems which the future
will have to solve. At present they, obviously, do not do so. The Social
Democrats of Germany agreed to make war on the democrats of other
countries. Old instincts were too strong for them. For it must always be
remembered that only so far as a cosmopolitan spirit takes the place of
narrow national prejudices can we hope to reach the level of a common
conscience, or a common will of Europe. And are we prepared to say that
national prejudices _ought_ to be obliterated and ignored? The very
principle of nationality forbids it.

I do not wish, however, to end on a note of pessimism. The mistake of the
pacifist has all along been the assumption that bellicose impulses have
died away. They have done nothing of the kind, and are not likely to do
so. But, happily, all past experience in the world's history shows us that
ideas in a real sense govern the world, and that a logical difficulty is
not necessarily a practical impossibility. In this case, as in others, a
noble and generous idea of European peace will gradually work its own
fulfilment, if we are not in too much of a hurry to force the pace, or
imagine that the ideal has been reached even before the preliminary
foundations have been laid.



It is an obvious criticism on the considerations which have been occupying
us in the preceding chapters that they are too purely theoretical to be of
any value. They are indeed speculative, and, perhaps, from one point of
view come under the edge of the usual condemnation of prophecy. Prophecy
is, of course, if one of the most interesting, also one of the most
dangerous of human ingenuities, and the usual fate of prophets is, in nine
cases out of ten, to be proved wrong. Moreover, it is possible that there
may come an issue to the present war which would be by far the worst which
the human mind can conceive. It may end in a deadlock, a stalemate, an
impasse, because the two opposing forces are so equal that neither side
can get the better of the other. If peace has to be made because of such a
balance between the opposing forces as this, it would be a calamity almost
worse than the original war. German militarism would still be unsubdued,
the Kaiser's pretensions to universal sovereignty, although clipped, would
not be wiped out, and we should find remaining in all the nations of the
earth a sort of sullen resentment which could not possibly lead to
anything else than a purely temporary truce. The only logical object of
war is to make war impossible, and if merely an indecisive result were
achieved in the present war, it would be as certain as anything human can
be that a fresh war would soon arise. At the present moment we confess
that there is an ugly possibility of this kind, and that it is one of the
most formidable perils of future civilisation.


It is so immensely important, however, that the cause of the Allies should
prevail not for their own sakes alone, but for the sake of the world, that
it is difficult to imagine their consenting to an ignoble pacification.
The Allies have signed an important document, in order to prove their
solidarity, that no one of them will sign peace without the sanction of
the other partners. Let us suppose that the rival armies have fought each
other to a standstill; let us suppose that France is exhausted; let us
further suppose that the German troops, by their mobility and their
tactical skill, are able to hold the Russians in the eastern sphere of
war. We can suppose all these things, but what we cannot imagine even for
a moment is that Great Britain--to confine ourselves only to our own
case--will ever consent to stop until she has achieved her object. America
may strive to make the combatants desist from hostilities, partly because
she is a great pacific power herself, and partly because it is a practical
object with her as a commercial nation to secure tranquil conditions. Yet,
even so, there would be no answer to the question which most thoughtful
minds would propound: Why did we go to war, and what have we gained by the
war? If we went to war for large cosmic purposes, then we cannot consent
to a peace which leaves those ultimate purposes unfulfilled. I think,
therefore, we can put aside this extremely uncomfortable suggestion that
the war may possibly end in a deadlock, because, in the last resort, Great
Britain, with her fleet, her sister dominions over the seas, her colonies,
and her eastern ally Japan, will always, to use the familiar phrase, have
"something up her sleeve," even though continental nations should reach a
pitch of absolute exhaustion.


It follows then that, even if we admit the purely speculative character of
our argument, it is not only right and proper, but absolutely necessary
that we should prepare ourselves for something which we can really
describe as a new Europe. Thoughtful minds ought imaginatively to put
themselves in the position of a spectator of a reconstituted world, or
rather of a world that waits to be reconstituted. It is necessary that
this should be done, because so many older prejudices have to be swept
away, so many novel conceptions have to be entertained. Let us take only a
single example. If we look back over history, we shall see that all the
great nations have made themselves great by war. There is a possible
exception in the case of Italy, whose present greatness has flowed from
loyal help rendered her by other kindred nations, and by realising for
herself certain large patriotic ideals entertained by great minds. But for
the majority of nations it is certainly true that they have fought their
way into the ranks of supreme powers. From this the deduction is easy that
greatness depends on the possession of formidable military power. Indeed,
all the arguments of those who are very anxious that we should not reduce
our armaments is entirely based on this supposition. The strong man armed
keepeth his goods in peace; his only fear is that a stronger man may come
with better arms and take away his possessions. Now if the new Europe
dawns not indeed for those who are past middle age--for they will have
died before its realisation--but for the younger generation for whose sake
we are bearing the toil and burden of the day, the one thing which is
absolutely necessary is that the index of greatness must no longer be
found in armies and navies. Clearly it will take a long time for men to
get used to this novel conception. Inveterate prejudices will stand in the
way. We shall be told over and over again that peace-lovers are no
patriots; that imperialism demands the possible sacrifice of our manhood
to the exigencies of war; and that the only class of men who are ever
respected in this world are those who can fight. And so, even though we
have had ocular demonstration of the appalling ruin which militarism can
produce, we may yet, if we are not careful, forget all our experience and
drift back into notions which are not really separable from precisely
those ideas which we are at present reprobating in the German nation. The
real test is this: Is, or is not, war a supreme evil? It is no answer to
this question to suggest that war educes many splendid qualities. Of
course it does. And so, too, does exploration of Polar solitudes, or even
climbing Alpine or Himalayan heights. Either war is a detestable solution
of our difficulties, or it is not. If it is not, then we have no right
whatsoever to object to the Prussian ideal. But if it is, let us call it
by its proper name. Let us say that it is devil's work, and have done with


We are trying not only to understand what Europe will be like if, as we
hope, this war ends successfully for the Allies, but what sort of new
Europe it will be in the hands of the conquerors to frame. Those who come
after us are to find in that new Europe real possibilities of advance in
all the higher kinds of civilisation. Not only are the various states to
contain sane and healthy people who desire to live in peace with their
neighbours, but people who will desire to realise themselves in science,
in philosophic thought, in art, in literature. What is an indispensable
condition for an evolution of this sort? It must be the absence of all
uneasiness, the growth of a serene confidence and trust, the obliteration
of envy, jealousy, and every kind of unreasonableness. The cause, above
all others, which has produced an opposite condition of things, which has
created the unfortunate Europe in which we have hitherto had to live, is
the growth and extension of armaments. The main factor, then, in our
problem is the existence of such swollen armaments as have wasted the
resources of every nation and embittered the minds of rival peoples. How
are we to meet this intolerable evil of armaments?


In the first place, let us remark that on our supposition--the eventual
victory of the Allies--one of the great disturbing elements will have been
put out of the field. Europe has hitherto been lulled into an uneasy and
fractious sleep by the balance of two great organisations. Under the
happiest hypothesis the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente will have
disappeared into the deep backward and abysm of time. For all practical
purposes there will be no Triple Alliance, and therefore no Triple Entente
to confront it. With Austria wiped out of the map for all purposes of
offence, and Germany restricted within modest dimensions, the three powers
of the Triple Entente--Great Britain, France, and Russia--can do what they
like, and as they are sworn friends and allies they can take their own
steps undisturbed by fears of hostile combinations. Why should these
three allies consent any further to keep up bloated armaments? It is
against their own interests and against the interests of the world. So
long as Germany existed as a power and developed her own ambitions, we
were always on the edge of a catastrophe. With the conquest of Germany
that nightmare will have gone. And observe some of the consequences which
must inevitably follow. It was against the menace of Germany that France
had to pass her three years' law of military service: in the absence of
the German army France can reduce as she pleases her military
establishment. It was against the menace of a German fleet that we had to
incur an outlay of millions of pounds: in the absence of the German fleet
we, too, can do what we please. It is certain also that Russia, so long as
the deep-seated antagonism between Teuton and Slav remained, was under
strong compulsion to reform and reinforce her army.


There may, it is true, remain in some minds a certain fear about Russia,
because it is difficult to dispel the old conception of a great despotic
Russian autocracy, or, if we like to say so, a semi-eastern and
half-barbarous power biding her time to push her conquests both towards
the rising and the setting sun. But many happy signs of quite a new spirit
in Russia have helped to allay our fears. It looks as if a reformed Russia
might arise, with ideas of constitutionalism and liberty and a much truer
conception of what the evolution of a state means. At the very beginning
of the war the Tsar issued a striking proclamation to the Poles, promising
them a restoration of the national freedom which they had lost a century
and a half previously. This doubtless was a good stroke of policy, but
also it seemed something more--a proof of that benevolent idealism which
belongs to the Russian nature, and of which the Tsar himself has given
many signs. Of the three nations who control the Poles, the Austrians have
done most for their subjects: at all events, the Poles under Austrian
control are supposed to be the most happy and contented. Then come the
Russian Poles. But the Poles under German government are the most
miserable of all, mainly because all German administration is so
mechanical, so hard, in a real sense so inhuman. But this determination of
the Tsar to do some justice to the Polish subjects is not the only sign of
a newer spirit we have to deal with. There was also a proclamation
promising liberty to the Jews--a very necessary piece of reform--and
giving, as an earnest of the good intentions of the Government,
commissions to Jews in the army. Better than all other evidence is the
extraordinary outburst of patriotic feeling in all sections of the Russian
people. It looks as if this war has really united Russia in a sense in
which it has never been united before. When we see voluntary service
offered on the part of those who hitherto have felt themselves the victims
of Russian autocracy, we may be pretty certain that even the reformers in
the great northern kingdom have satisfied themselves that their
long-deferred hopes may at length gain fulfilment. Nor ought we to forget
that splendid act of reform which has abolished the Imperial monopoly of
the sale of vodka. If by one stroke of the pen the Tsar can sacrifice
ninety-three millions of revenue in order that Russia may be sober, it is
not very extravagant to hope that in virtue of the same kind of benevolent
despotism Russia may secure a liberal constitution and the Russian people
be set free.[11]

[11] See _Our Russian Ally_, by Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace (Macmillan).


The end of a great war, however, has one inevitable result, that it leaves
a military autocracy in supreme control of affairs. The armies which have
won the various campaigns, the generals who have led them, the
Commanders-in-Chief who have carried out the successful strategy, these
are naturally left with almost complete authority in their hands.
Wellington, for instance, a hundred years ago, held an extraordinarily
strong position in deciding the fate of Europe. And so, too, did the
Russian Tsar, whose armies had done so much to destroy the legend of
Napoleonic invincibility. Similar conditions must be expected on the
present occasion. And, perhaps, the real use of diplomats, if they are
prudent and level-headed men, is to control the ambitions of the military
element, to adopt a wider outlook, to consider the ultimate consequences
rather than the immediate effects of things. It would indeed be a
lamentable result if a war which was intended to destroy militarism in
Europe should end by setting up militarism in high places.


Thus we seem to see still more clearly than before that the size of
armaments in Europe constitutes a fundamental problem with which we have
to grapple. Every soldier, as a matter of course, believes in military
armaments, and is inclined to exaggerate their social and not merely their
offensive value. Those of us who are not soldiers, but who are interested
in the social and economic development of the nation, know, on the
contrary, that the most destructive and wasteful form of expenditure is
that which is occupied with armaments grown so bloated that they go far to
render the most pressing domestic reforms absolutely impossible. How,
then, can we limit the size of armaments? What provision can we make to
keep in check that desire to fortify itself, to entrench itself in an
absolutely commanding position, which inherently belongs to the military
mind? In the case of both navies and armies something depends on
geographical conditions, and something on financial possibilities. The
first represents, as it were, the minimum required for safety; the second
the maximum burden which a state can endure without going into
bankruptcy.[12] Our own country, we should say, requires fleets, so far as
geographical conditions are concerned, for the protection of her shores,
and, inasmuch as she is a scattered empire, we must have our warships in
all the Seven Seas. France, in her turn, requires a navy which shall
protect her in the Mediterranean, and especially render access easy to
her North African possessions. On the supposition that she is good friends
with England, she does not require ships in the North Sea or in the
English Channel, while, vice versa, England, so long as France is strong
in the Mediterranean, need only keep quite small detachments at Gibraltar,
Malta, and elsewhere. Russia must have a fleet for the Baltic, and also a
fleet in the Black Sea. Beyond that her requirements assuredly do not go.
Italy's activities are mainly in the Mediterranean. Under the supposition
that she is conquered, Germany stands in some danger of losing her navy

[12] Brailsford's _War of Steel and Gold_: Chap. IX.


It is obvious, therefore, that if we confine ourselves purely to
geographical conditions, and adhere to the principle that navies are
required for the protection of coasts, we can at once reduce, within
relatively small limits, the building of armoured ships. The reason why
large navies have hitherto been necessary is because it has been assumed
that they do not merely protect coasts, but protect lines of commerce. We
have been told, for instance, that inasmuch as we cannot feed our own
population, and our national food comes to us from Canada, America, the
Argentine, Russia, and elsewhere, we must possess a very large amount of
cruisers to safeguard the ships that are conveying to us our daily bread.
If we ask why our ships must not only protect our shores, but our
merchandise--the latter being for the most part a commercial enterprise
worked by individual companies--the answer turns on that much-discussed
principle, the Right of Capture at Sea, which was debated at the last
Hague Conference, and as a matter of fact stoutly defended both by Germany
and ourselves. If we look at this doctrine--the supposed right that a
power possesses to capture the merchandise of private individuals who
belong to an enemy country in times of war--we shall perhaps feel some
surprise that a principle which is not admitted in land warfare should
still prevail at sea. According to the more benevolent notions of
conducting a campaign suggested, and indeed enforced by Hague Conventions
and such like, an army has no right to steal the food of a country which
it has invaded. It must pay for what it takes. Well-conducted armies, as a
matter of fact, behave in this fashion: the necessity of paying for what
they take is very strictly enforced by responsible officers. Why,
therefore, at sea an opposite state of affairs should prevail is really
not easy to understand. Most of the enemy's merchant ships which have been
captured in the recent war belong to private individuals, or private
companies. But they are taken, subject to the decision of Prize Courts, as
part of the spoils of a successful maritime power. I am aware that the
question is an exceedingly controversial one, and that Great Britain has
hitherto been very firm, or, perhaps, I might be allowed to say, obstinate
in upholding the law of capture at sea. But I also know that a great many
competent lawyers and politicians do not believe in the validity of such a
principle, and would not be sorry to have it abolished.[13] At all events,
it is clear enough that if it were abolished one of the main arguments for
keeping up a strong navy would fall to the ground. We should then require
no patrol of cruisers in the Atlantic, in the Pacific, and in the
Mediterranean. One thing at least is certain, that if we can ever arrive
at a time when a real Concert of Europe prevails, one of the first things
which it must take in hand is a thorough examination of the extent of
defensive force which a nation requires as a minimum for the preservation
of its independence and liberty.

[13] Notably Lord Loreburn, in his _Capture at Sea_ (Methuen).


Certainly one crying evil exists which ought to be dealt with promptly and
effectively in accordance with the dictates of common sense as well as
common morality. I refer to the trade in armaments carried on by private
companies, whose only interest it is to foment, or perhaps actually to
produce, war scares in order that munitions of war may be greedily
purchased. A notorious example is furnished by the great works at Essen
owned by Krupp. In the same position are the great French works at
Creusot, owned by Schneider, and those of our own English firms,
Armstrongs, Vickers, John Brown, and Cammell Laird. These are all
successful concerns, and the shareholders have reaped large profits. I
believe that at Creusot the dividends have reached twenty per cent., and
Armstrongs yield rarely less than ten per cent. It is necessary to speak
very plainly about industries of this kind, because, however we like to
phrase it, they represent the realisation of private profit through the
instruments of death and slaughter. It would be bad enough if they
remained purely private companies, but they really represent the most
solid public organisations in the world. We know the intimate relations
between Krupp and the German Government, and doubtless also between
Messrs. Schneider and the French Government. This sordid manufacture of
the instruments of death constitutes a vast business, with all kinds of
ramifications, and the main and deadly stigma on it is that it is bound to
encourage and promote war. Let me quote some energetic sentences from Mr.
H.G. Wells on this point: "Kings and Kaisers must cease to be commercial
travellers of monstrous armament concerns.... I do not need to argue, what
is manifest, what every German knows, what every intelligent educated man
in the world knows. The Krupp concern and the tawdry Imperialism of Berlin
are linked like thief and receiver; the hands of the German princes are
dirty with the trade. All over the world statecraft and royalty have been
approached and touched and tainted by these vast firms, but it is in
Berlin that the corruption is centred, it is from Berlin that the
intolerable pressure to arm and still to arm has come."[14]

What is the obvious cure for this state of things? It stares us in the
face. Governments alone should be allowed to manufacture weapons. This
ought not to be an industry left in private hands. If a nation, through
its accredited representatives, thinks it is necessary to arm itself, it
must keep in its own hands this lethal industry. Beyond the Government
factories there clearly ought to be no making of weapons all over Europe
and the world.

[14] There are one or two pamphlets on this subject which are worth
consulting, especially _The War Traders_, by G.H. Perris (National Peace
Council, St. Stephen's House, Westminster), and _The War Trust Exposed_,
by J.F. Walton Newbold (the National Leader Press, Manchester). See also
_The War of Steel and Gold_, by H.N. Brailsford, Chapter II, "Real
Politics," p. 89. The sentences quoted from Mr. Wells come from _The War
that will end War_ (F. and C. Palmer), p. 39.


It has already been remarked that the conditions which limit and control
the size of armaments are partly geographical and partly financial, and
that while the former represent the minimum, the latter stand for the
maximum of protective force. I need say nothing further about the
geographical conditions. Every one who studies a map can see for himself
what is required by a country anxious to protect its shores or its
boundaries. If we suppose that armaments are strictly limited to the needs
of self-defence, and if we further assume that in the new Europe countries
are not animated by the strongest dislikes against one another, but are
prepared to live and let live (a tolerably large assumption, I am aware),
we can readily imagine a steady process of curtailment in the absolutely
necessary armament. Further, if Great Britain gave up its doctrine of the
Right of Capture at Sea (and if Great Britain surrendered it, we may be
pretty sure that, after Germany has been made powerless, no other country
would wish to retain it), the supposed necessity of protecting lines of
commerce would disappear and a further reduction in cruisers would take
place. I cannot imagine that either America or Japan would wish to revive
the Right of Capture theory if we ourselves had given it up. And they are
the most important maritime and commercial nations after ourselves.[15]

The financial conditions, however, deserve study because they lead
straight to the very heart of the modern bellicose tendencies. In an
obvious and superficial sense, financial conditions represent the maximum
in the provision of armaments, because ultimately it becomes a question of
how much a nation can afford to spend without going bankrupt or being
fatally hampered in its expenditure on necessary social reforms. This,
however, is not perhaps the most significant point. Financial conditions
act much more subtly than this. Why has it grown so imperative on states
to have large armies or large navies, or both? Because--so we have been
told over and over again--diplomacy cannot speak with effect unless it is
backed by power. And what are the main occasions on which diplomacy has to
speak effectively? We should be inclined to answer off-hand that it must
possess this stentorian power when there is any question about national
honour--when the country for whom it speaks is insulted or bullied, or
defrauded of its just rights; when treaties are torn up and disregarded;
when its plighted word has been given and another nation acts as though no
such pledge had been made; when its territory is menaced with invasion and
so forth.

[15] As a matter of fact, the United States are opposed to the Capture at
Sea principle.


But these justifiable occasions do not exhaust the whole field. Sometimes
diplomacy is brought to bear on much more doubtful issues. It is used to
support the concession-hunter, and to coerce a relatively powerless nation
to grant concessions. It backs up a bank which has financed a company to
build railroads or develop the internal resources of a country; or to
exploit mines or oil-fields, or to do those thousand-and-one things which
constitute what is called "peaceful penetration." Think of the recent
dealings with Turkey,[16] and the international rivalry, always suspicious
and inflammatory, which has practically divided up her Asiatic dominions
between European States--so that Armenia is to belong to Russia, Syria to
France, Arabia to Great Britain, and Anatolia and I know not what besides
to Germany! Think of the competition for the carrying out of railways in
Asia Minor and the constant friction as to which power has obtained, by
fair means or foul, the greatest influence! Or let us remember the recent
disputes as to the proper floating of a loan to China and the bickering
about the Five-Power Group and the determination on the part of the last
named that no one else should share the spoil! Or shall we transfer our
attention to Mexico, where the severe struggle between the two rival Oil
Companies--the Cowdray group and the American group--threw into the shade
the quarrel between Huerta and Carranza? These are only a few instances
taken at random to illustrate the dealings of modern finance. Relatively
small harm would be done if financiers were allowed to fight out their own
quarrels. Unfortunately, however, diplomacy is brought in to support this
side or that: and ambassadors have to speak in severe terms if a Chinese
mandarin does not favour our so-called "nationals," or if corrupt Turkish
officials are not sufficiently squeezable to suit our "patriotic"
purposes. Our armaments are big not merely to protect the nation's honour,
but to provide large dividends for speculative concerns held in private

[16] Turkey has now thrown in her lot with Germany.


The truth is, of course, that the honourable name of commerce is now used
to cover very different kinds of enterprise. We used to export goods; now
we export cash. Wealthy men, not being content with the sound, but not
magnificent interest on home securities, take their money abroad and
invest in extremely remunerative--though of course speculative--businesses
in South Africa, or South America, concerned with rubber, petroleum, or
whatnot. Often they subscribe to a foreign loan--in itself a perfectly
legitimate and harmless operation, but not harmless or legitimate if one
of the conditions of the loan is that the country to which it is lent
should purchase its artillery from Essen or Creusot, or its battleships
from our yards. For that is precisely one of the ways in which the traffic
in munitions of war goes on increasing and itself helps to bring about a
conflagration. Financial enterprise is, of course, the life-blood of
modern states. But why should our army and navy be brought in to protect
financiers? Let them take their own risks, like every other man who
pursues a hazardous path for his own private gain. Private investment in
foreign securities does not increase the volume of a nation's commerce.
The individual may make a colossal fortune, but the nation pays much too
dearly for the enrichment of financiers if it allows itself to be dragged
into war on account of their "_beaux yeux_."


It is time to gather together in a summary fashion some of the
considerations which have been presented to us in the course of our
inquiry. We have gone to war partly for direct, partly for indirect
objects. The direct objects are the protection of small nationalities, the
destruction of a particularly offensive kind of militarism in Germany, the
securing of respect for treaties, and the preservation of our own and
European liberty. But there are also indirect objects at which we have to
aim, and it is here, of course, that the speculative character of our
inquiry is most clearly revealed. Apart from the preservation of the
smaller nationalities, Mr. Asquith has himself told us that we should aim
at the organisation of a Public Will of Europe, a sort of Collective
Conscience which should act as a corrective of national defects and as a
support of international morality. Nothing could well be more speculative
or vague than this, and we have already seen the kind of difficulties
which surround the conception, especially the conflict between a
collective European constraint and an eager and energetic patriotism. We
must not, however, be deterred by the nebulous character of some of the
ideals which are floating through our minds. Ideals are always nebulous,
and always resisted by the narrow sort of practical men who suggest that
we are metaphysical dreamers unaware of the stern facts of life.
Nevertheless, the actual progress of the world depends on the visions of
idealists, and when the time comes for the reconstitution of Europe on a
new basis we must already have imaginatively thought out some of the ends
towards which we are striving. We must also be careful not to narrow our
conceptions to the level of immediate needs--that is not the right way of
any reform. Our conceptions must be as large and as wide and as
philanthropical as imagination can make them; otherwise Europe will miss
one of the greatest opportunities that it has ever had to deal with, and
we shall incur the bitterest of all disappointments--not to be awake when
the dawn appears.


What, then, are some of those nebulous visions which come before the minds
of eager idealists? We have got to envisage for ourselves a new idea of
what constitutes greatness in a state. Hitherto we have measured national
greatness by military strength, because most of the European nations have
attained their present position through successful war. So long as we
cherish a notion like this, so long shall we be under the heel of a
grinding militarism. We have set out as crusaders to destroy Prussian
militarism, and in pursuit of this quest we have invoked, as a matter of
necessity, the aid of our militarists. But when their work is done, all
peoples who value freedom and independence will refuse to be under the
heel of any military party. To be great is not, necessarily, to be strong
for war. There are other qualities which ought to enter into the
definition, a high standard of civilisation and culture--not culture in
the Prussian sense, but that which we understand by the term--the great
development and extension of knowledge, room for the discoveries of
science, quick susceptibility in the domain of art, the organisation of
literature--all these things are part and parcel of greatness, as we want
to understand it in the future. It is precisely these things that
militarism, as such, cares nothing for. Therefore, if we are out for war
against militarism, the whole end and object of our endeavour must be by
means of war to make war impossible. Hence it follows, as a matter of
course, that the new Europe must take very serious and energetic steps to
diminish military establishments and to limit the size of armaments. If
once the new masters of Europe understand the immense importance of
reducing their military equipment, they have it in their power to relieve
nations of one of the greatest burdens which have ever checked the social
and economic development of the world. Suggestions have already been made
as to the reduction of armaments, and, although such schemes as have been
set forward are, in the truest sense, speculative, it does not follow that
they, or something like them, cannot hereafter be realised. Nor yet in
our conception of greatness must we include another false idea of the
past. If a nation is not necessarily great because it is strong for war,
neither is it necessarily great because it contains a number of
cosmopolitan financiers trying to exploit for their own purposes various
undeveloped tracts of the world's surface. These financiers are certainly
not patriots because, amongst other things, they take particular care to
invest in foreign securities, the interest of home investments not being
sufficient for their financial greed. It will not be the least of the many
benefits which may accrue to us after the end of this disastrous war if a
vulgar and crude materialism, based on the notion of wealth, is dethroned
from its present sovereignty over men's minds. The more we study the
courses of this world's history, the more certainly do we discover that a
love of money is the root of most of the evils which beset humanity.


As we survey the possible reforms which are to set up a new and better
Europe on the ruin of the old, we naturally ask ourselves with some
disquietude: Who are the personalities, and what are the forces required
for so tremendous a change? Who are sufficient for these things? Are kings
likely to be saviours of society? Past experience hardly favours this
suggestion. Will soldiers and great generals help us? Here, again, we may
be pardoned for a very natural suspicion. Every one knows that a
benevolent despotism has much to recommend it. But, unfortunately, the
benevolent are not usually despotic, nor are despots as a rule benevolent.
Can diplomatists help us? Not so far as they continue to mumble the
watchwords of their ancient mystery: they will have to learn a new set of
formulæ, or more likely, perhaps, they will find that ordinary people, who
have seen to what a pass diplomacy has brought us, may work out for
themselves some better system. Clearly the tasks of the future will depend
on the co-operation of intelligent, far-sighted philanthropic reformers in
the various states of the world, who will recognise that at critical
periods of the world's history they must set to work with a new ardour to
think out problems from the very beginning. We want fresh and intelligent
minds, specially of the younger idealists, keen, ardent, and energetic
souls, touched with the sacred fire, erecting the fabric of humanity on a
novel basis. Democracy will have a great deal to do in the new Europe.
It, too, had better refurbish its old watchwords. It has got to set itself
patiently to the business of preventing future wars by the extension of
its sympathies and its clear discernment of all that imperils its future
development and progress. Above all, it has got to solve that most
difficult problem of creating a Public Will and a Common Conscience in
Europe, a conscience sensitive to the demands of a higher ethics, and a
will to enforce its decrees against obstructives and recalcitrants. We do
not see our way clear as yet, it is true. But we have a dim idea of the
far-seen peaks towards which we must lift up our eyes. It is the greatest
enterprise which humanity has ever been called upon to face, and, however
difficult, it is also the most splendid.


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