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Title: The Fruits of Victory - A Sequel to The Great Illusion
Author: Angell, Norman, 1874-1967
Language: English
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                         THE FRUITS OF VICTORY


     'Mr. Angell's pamphlet was a work as unimposing in form as it was
     daring in expression. For a time nothing was heard of it in public,
     but many of us will remember the curious way in which ... "Norman
     Angellism" suddenly became one of the principal topics of
     discussion amongst politicians and journalists all over Europe.
     Naturally at first it was the apparently extravagant and
     paradoxical elements that were fastened upon most--that the whole
     theory of the commercial basis of war was wrong, that no modern war
     could make a profit for the victors, and that--most astonishing
     thing of all--a successful war might leave the conquerors who
     received the indemnity relatively worse off than the conquered who
     raid it. People who had been brought up in the acceptance of the
     idea that a war between nations was analogous to the struggle of
     two errand boys for an apple, and that victory inevitably meant
     economic gain, were amazed into curiosity. Men who had never
     examined a Pacifist argument before read Mr. Angell's book. Perhaps
     they thought that his doctrines sounded so extraordinarily like
     nonsense that there really must be some sense in them or nobody
     would have dared to propound them.'--_The New Stateman_, October
     11, 1913.

     'The fundamental proposition of the book is a mistake.... And the
     proposition that the extension of national territory--that is the
     bringing of a large amount of property under a single
     administration--is not to the financial advantage of a nation
     appears to me as illusory as to maintain that business on a small
     capital is as profitable as on a large.... The armaments of
     European States now are not so much for protection against conquest
     as to secure to themselves the utmost possible share of the
     unexploited or imperfectly exploited regions of the world.'--The
     late ADMIRAL MAHAN.

     'I have long ago described the policy of _The Great Illusion_ ...
     not only as a childish absurdity but a mischievous and immoral
     sophism.'--MR. FREDERIC HARRISON.

     'Among the mass of printed books there are a few that may be
     counted as acts, not books. _The Control Social_ was indisputably
     one; and I venture to suggest to you that _The Great Illusion_ is
     another. The thesis of Galileo was not more diametrically opposed
     to current ideas than those of Norman Angell. Yet it had in the end
     a certain measure of success.'--VISCOUNT ESHER.

     'When all criticisms are spent, it remains to express a debt of
     gratitude to Mr. Angell. He belongs to the cause of
     internationalism--the greatest of all the causes to which a man can
     set his hands in these days. The cause will not triumph by
     economics. But it cannot reject any ally. And if the economic
     appeal is not final, it has its weight. "We shall perish of
     hunger," it has been said, "in order to have success in murder." To
     those who have ears for that saying, it cannot be said too
     often.'--_Political Thought in England, from Herbert Spencer to the
     Present Day_, by ERNEST BARKER.

     'A wealth of closely reasoned argument which makes the book one of
     the most damaging indictments that have yet appeared of the
     principles governing the relation of civilized nations to one
     another.'--_The Quarterly Review._

     'Ranks its author with Cobden amongst the greatest of our
     pamphleteers, perhaps the greatest since Swift.'--_The Nation._

     'No book has attracted wider attention or has done more to
     stimulate thought in the present century than _The Great
     Illusion_.'--_The Daily Mail._

     'One of the most brilliant contributions to the literature of
     international relations which has appeared for a very long
     time.'--_Journal of the Institute of Bankers._

     'After five and a half years in the wilderness, Mr. Norman Angell
     has come back.... His book provoked one of the great controversies
     of this generation.... To-day, Mr. Angell, whether he likes it or
     not, is a prophet whose prophesies have come true.... It is hardly
     possible to open a current newspaper without the eye lighting on
     some fresh vindication of the once despised and rejected doctrine
     of Norman Angellism.'--_The Daily News_, February 25, 1920.

                           FRUITS OF VICTORY

                              A SEQUEL TO
                          "THE GREAT ILLUSION"

                             NORMAN ANGELL

                        [Illustration: colophon]

                                NEW YORK

                            THE CENTURY CO.



      WAR AIMS

                          Copyright, 1921, by
                            THE CENTURY CO.

                       _Printed in the U. S. A._

                                To H. S.


The case which is argued in these pages includes the examination of
certain concrete matters which very obviously and directly touch
important American interests--American foreign trade and investments,
the exchanges, immigration, armaments, taxation, industrial unrest and
the effect of these on social and political organisation. Yet the
greatest American interest here discussed is not any one of those
particular issues, or even the sum of them, but certain underlying
forces which more than anything else, perhaps, influence all of them.
The American reader will have missed the main bearing of the argument
elaborated in these pages unless that point can be made clear.

Let us take a few of the concrete issues just mentioned. The opening
chapter deals with the motives which may push Great Britain still to
struggle for the retention of predominant power at sea. The force of
those motives is obviously destined to be an important factor in
American politics, in determining, for instance, the amount of American
taxation. It bears upon the decisions which American voters and American
statesmen will be called upon to make in American elections within the
next few years. Or take another aspect of the same question: the
peculiar position of Great Britain in the matter of her dependence upon
foreign food. This is shown to be typical of a condition common to very
much of the population of Europe, and brings us to the problem of the
pressure of population in the older civilisations upon the means of
subsistence. That "biological pressure" is certain, in some
circumstances, to raise for America questions of immigration, of
relations generally with foreign countries, of defence, which American
statesmanship will have to take into account in the form of definite
legislation that will go on to American Statute books. Or, take the
general problem of the economic reconstruction of Europe, with which the
book is so largely occupied. That happens to bear, not merely on the
expansion of American trade, the creation of new markets, that is, and
on the recovery of American debts, but upon the preservation of markets
for cotton, wheat, meat and other products, to which large American
communities have in the past looked, and do still look, for their
prosperity and even for their solvency. Again, dealing with the manner
in which the War has affected the economic organisation of the European
society, the writer has been led to describe the process by which
preparation for modern war has come to mean, to an increasing degree,
control by the government of the national resources as a whole, thus
setting up strong tendencies towards a form of State Socialism. To
America, herself facing a more far-reaching organisation of the national
resources for military purposes than she has known in the past, the
analysis of such a process is certainly of very direct concern. Not less
so is the story of the relation of revolutionary forces in the
industrial struggle--"Bolshevism"--to the tendencies so initiated or

One could go on expanding this theme indefinitely, and write a whole
book about America's concern in these things. But surely in these days
it would be a book of platitudes, elaborately pointing out the obvious.
Yet an American critic of these pages in their European form warns me
that I must be careful to show their interest for American readers.

Their main interest for the American is not in the kind of relationship
just indicated, very considerable and immediate as that happens to be.
Their chief interest is in this: they attempt an analysis of the
ultimate forces of policies in Western society; of the interrelation of
fundamental economic needs and of predominant political ideas--public
opinion, with its constituent elements of "human nature," social--or
anti-social--instinct, the tradition of Patriotism and Nationalism, the
mechanism of the modern Press. It is suggested in these pages that some
of the main factors of political action, the dominant motives of
political conduct, are still grossly neglected by "practical statesmen";
and that the statesmen still treat as remote and irrelevant certain
moral forces which recent events have shown to have very great and
immediate practical importance. (A number of cases are discussed in
which practical and realist European statesmen have seen their plans
touching the stability of alliances, the creation of international
credit, the issuing of international loans, indemnities, a "new world"
generally, all this frustrated because in drawing them up they ignored
the invisible but final factor of public feeling and temper, which the
whole time they were modifying or creating, thus unconsciously
undermining the edifices they were so painfully creating. Time and again
in the last few years practical men of affairs in Europe have found
themselves the helpless victims of a state of feeling or opinion which
they so little understood that they had often themselves unknowingly
created it.)

In such hard realities as the exaction of an indemnity, we see
governments forced to policies which can only make their task more
difficult, but which they are compelled to adopt in order to placate
electoral opinion, or to repel an opposition which would exploit some
prevailing prejudice or emotion.

To understand the nature of forces which must determine America's main
domestic and foreign policies--as they have determined those of Western
Society in Europe during the last generation--is surely an "American
interest"; though indeed, in neglecting the significance of those
"hidden currents flowing continually beneath the surface of political
history," American students of politics would be following much
European precedent. Although public opinion and feeling are the raw
material with which statesmen deal, it is still considered irrelevant
and academic to study the constituent elements of that raw material.

Americans are sufficiently detached from Europe to see that in the way
of a better unification of that Continent for the purposes of its own
economic and moral restoration stand disruptive forces of
"Balkanisation," a development of the spirit of Nationalism which the
statesmen for years have encouraged and exploited. The American of
to-day speaks of the Balkanisation of Europe just as the Englishman of
two or three years ago spoke of the Balkanisation of the Continent, of
the wrangles of Poles, Czecho-Slovaks, Hungarians, Rumanians, Italians,
Jugo-Slavs. And the attitude of both Englishman and American are alike
in this: to the Englishman, watching the squabbles of all the little new
States and the breaking out of all the little new wars, there seemed at
work in that spectacle forces so suicidal that they could never in any
degree touch his own political problems; the American to-day, watching
British policy in Ireland or French policy towards Germany, feels that
in such conflict are moral forces that could never produce similar
paralysis in American policy. "Why," asks the confident American, "does
England bring such unnecessary trouble upon herself by her military
conduct in Ireland? Why does France keep three-fourths of a Continent
still in ferment, making reparations more and more remote"? Americans
have a very strong feeling that they could not be guilty of the Irish
mess, or of prolonging the confusion which threatens to bring Europe's
civilisation to utter collapse. How comes it that the English people, so
genuinely and so sincerely horrified at the thought of what a Bissing
could do in Belgium, unable to understand how the German people could
tolerate a government guilty of such things, somehow find that their own
British Government is doing very similar things in Cork and Balbriggan;
and finding it, simply acquiesce? To the American the indefensibility of
British conduct is plain. "America could never be guilty of it." To the
Englishman just now, the indefensibility of French conduct is plain. The
policy which France is following is seen to be suicidal from the point
of view of French interests. The Englishman is sure that "English
political sense" would never tolerate it in an English government.

The situation suggests this question: would Americans deny that England
in the past has shown very great political genius, or that the French
people are alert, open-minded, "realist," intelligent? Recalling what
England has done in the way of the establishment of great free
communities, the flexibility and "practicalness" of her imperial policy,
what France has contributed to democracy and European organisation, can
we explain the present difficulties of Europe by the absence, on the
part of Englishmen or Frenchmen, or other Europeans, of a political
intelligence granted only so far in the world's history to Americans? In
other words, do Americans seriously argue that the moral forces which
have wrought such havoc in the foreign policy of European States could
never threaten the foreign policy of America? Does the American plead
that the circumstances which warp an Englishman's or Frenchman's
judgment could never warp an American's? Or that he could never find
himself in similar circumstances? As a matter of fact, of course, that
is precisely what the American--like the Englishman or Frenchman or
Italian in an analogous case--does plead. To have suggested five years
ago to an Englishman that his own generals in India or Ireland would
copy Bissing, would have been deemed too preposterous even for anger:
but then equally, to Americans, supporting in their millions in 1916 the
League to Enforce Peace, would the idea have seemed preposterous that a
few years later America, having the power to take the lead in a Peace
League, would refuse to do so, and would herself be demanding, as the
result of participation in a war to end war, greater armament than
ever--as protection against Great Britain.

I suggest that if an English government can be led to sanction and
defend in Ireland the identical things which shocked the world when
committed in Belgium by Germans, if France to-day threatens Europe with
a military hegemony not less mischievous than that which America
determined to destroy, the causes of those things must be sought, not in
the special wickedness of this or that nation, but in forces which may
operate among any people.

One peculiarity of the prevailing political mind stands out. It is
evident that a sensible, humane and intelligent people, even with
historical political sense, can quite often fail to realise how one step
of policy, taken willingly, must lead to the taking of other steps which
they detest. If Mr. Lloyd George is supporting France, if the French
Government is proclaiming policies which it knows to be disastrous, but
which any French Government must offer to its people or perish, it is
because somewhere in the past there have been set in motion forces the
outcome of which was not realised. And if the outcome was not realised,
although, looking back, or looking at the situation from the distance of
America from Europe, the inevitability of the result seems plain enough,
I suggest that it is because judgment becomes warped as the result of
certain feelings or predominant ideas; and that it will be impossible
wisely to guide political conduct without some understanding of the
nature of those feelings and ideas, and unless we realise with some
humility and honesty that all nations alike are subject to these

We all of us clamantly and absolutely deny this plain fact when it is
suggested that it also applies to our own people. What would have
happened to the publicist who, during the War, should have urged:
"Complete and overwhelming victory will be bad, because we shall misuse
it?" Yet all the victories of history would have been ground for such a
warning. Universal experience was not merely flouted by the
uninstructed. One of the curiosities of war literature is the fashion in
which the most brilliant minds, not alone in politics, but in literature
and social science, simply disregard this obvious truth. We each knew
"our" people--British, French, Italian, American--to be good people:
kindly, idealistic, just. Give them the power to do the Right--to do
justice, to respect the rights of others, to keep the peace--and it will
be done. That is why we wanted "unconditional surrender" of the Germans,
and indignantly rejected a negotiated peace. It was admitted, of course,
that injustice at the settlement would fail to give us the world we
fought for. It was preposterous to suppose that we, the defenders of
freedom and democracy, arbitration, self-determination,--America,
Britain, France, Japan, Russia, Italy, Rumania--should not do exact and
complete justice. So convinced, indeed, were we of this that we may
search in vain the works of all the Allied writers to whom any attention
was paid, for any warning whatsoever of the one danger which, in fact,
wrecked the settlement, threw the world back into its oldest
difficulties, left it fundamentally just where it was, reduced the War
to futility. The one condition of justice--that the aggrieved party
should not be in the position of imposing his unrestrained will--, the
one truth which, for the world's welfare, it was most important to
proclaim, was the one which it was black heresy and blasphemy to utter,
and which, to do them justice, the moral and intellectual guides of the
nations never did utter.

It is precisely the truth which Americans to-day are refusing to face.
We all admit that, "human nature being what it is," preponderance of
power, irresponsible power, is something which no nation (but our own)
can be trusted to use wisely or with justice. The backbone of American
policy shall therefore be an effort to retain preponderance of power. If
this be secured, little else matters. True, the American advocate of
isolation to-day says: "We are not concerned with Europe. We ask only
to be let alone. Our preponderance of power, naval or other, threatens
no-one. It is purely defensive." Yet the truth is that the demand for
preponderance of armaments itself involves a denial of right. Let us see

No one denies that the desire to possess a definitely preponderant navy
is related, at least in some degree, to such things as, shall we say,
the dispute over the Panama tolls. A growing number feel and claim that
that is a purely American dispute. To subject it to arbitral decision,
in which necessarily Europeans would have a preponderance, would be to
give away the American case beforehand. With unquestioned naval
preponderance over any probable combination of rivals, America is in a
position to enforce compliance with what she believes to be her just
rights. At this moment a preponderant navy is being urged on precisely
those grounds. In other words, the demand is that in a dispute to which
she is a party she shall be judge, and able to impose her own judgement.
That is to say, she demands from others the acceptance of a position
which she would not herself accept. There is nothing at all unusual in
the demand. It is the feeling which colours the whole attitude of
combative nationalism. But it none the less means that "adequate
defence" on this basis inevitably implies a moral aggression--a demand
upon others which, if made by others upon ourselves, we should resist to
the death.

It is not here merely or mainly the question of a right: American
foreign policy has before it much the same alternatives with reference
to the world as a whole, as were presented to Great Britain with
reference to the Continent in the generation which preceded the War. Her
"splendid isolation" was defended on grounds which very closely resemble
those now put forward by America as the basis of the same policy.
Isolation meant, of course, preponderance of power, and when she
declared her intention to use that power only on behalf of even-handed
justice, she not only meant it, but carried out the intention, at least
to an extent that no other nation has done. She accorded a degree of
equality in economic treatment which is without parallel. One thing only
led her to depart from justice: that was the need of maintaining the
supremacy. For this she allowed herself to become involved in certain
exceedingly entangling Alliances. Indeed, Great Britain found that at no
period of her history were her domestic politics so much dominated by
the foreign situation as when she was proclaiming to the world her
splendid isolation from foreign entanglements. It is as certain, of
course, that American "isolation" would mean that the taxation of Gopher
Prairie would be settled in Tokio; and that tens of thousands of
American youth would be sentenced to death by unknown elderly gentlemen
in a European Cabinet meeting. If the American retorts that his country
is in a fundamentally different position, because Great Britain
possesses an Empire and America does not, that only proves how very much
current ideas in politics fail to take cognizance of the facts. The
United States to-day has in the problem of the Philippines, their
protection and their trade, and the bearing of those things upon
Japanese policy; in Hayti and the West Indies, and their bearing upon
America's subject nationality problem of the negro; in Mexico, which is
likely to provide America with its Irish problem; in the Panama Canal
tolls question and its relation to the development of a mercantile
marine and naval competition with Great Britain, in these things alone,
to mention no others, subjects of conflict, involving defence of
American interests, out of which will arise entanglements not differing
greatly in kind from the foreign questions which dominated British
domestic policy during the period of British isolation.

Now, what America will do about these things will not depend upon highly
rationalised decisions, reached by a hundred million independent
thinkers investigating the facts concerning the Panama Treaty, the
respective merits of alternative alliance combinations, or the real
nature of negro grievances. American policy will be determined by the
same character of force as has determined British policy in Ireland or
India, in Morocco or Egypt, French policy in Germany or in Poland, or
Italian policy in the Adriatic. The "way of thinking" which is applied
to the decisions of the American democracy has behind it the same kind
of moral and intellectual force that we find in the society of Western
Europe as a whole. Behind the American public mind lie practically the
same economic system based on private property, the same kind of
political democracy, the same character of scholastic training, the same
conceptions of nationalism, roughly the same social and moral values. If
we find certain sovereign ideas determining the course of British or
French or Italian policy, giving us certain results, we may be sure that
the same ideas will, in the case of America, give us very much the same

When Britain spoke of "splendid isolation," she meant what America means
by the term to-day, namely, a position by virtue of which, when it came
to a conflict of policy between herself and others, she should possess
preponderant power, so that she could impose her own view of her own
rights, be judge and executioner in her own case. To have suggested to
an Englishman twenty years ago that the real danger to the security of
his country lay in the attitude of mind dominant among Englishmen
themselves, that the fundamental defect of English policy was that it
asked of others something which Englishmen would never accord if asked
by others of them, and that such a policy was particularly inimical in
the long run to Great Britain, in that her population lived by processes
which dominant power could not, in the last resort, exact--such a line
of argument would have been, and indeed was, regarded as too remote from
practical affairs to be worth the attention of practical politicians. A
discussion of the Japanese Alliance, the relations with Russia, the size
of foreign fleets, the Bagdad railway, would have been regarded as
entirely practical and relevant. These things were the "facts" of
politics. It was not regarded as relevant to the practical issues to
examine the role of certain general ideas and traditions which had grown
up in England in determining the form of British policy. The growth of a
crude philosophy of militarism, based on a social pseudo-Darwinism, the
popularity of Kipling and Roberts, the jingoism of the Northcliffe
Press--these things might be regarded as items in the study of social
psychology; they were not regarded as matters for the practical
statesman. "What would you have us do about them, anyway?"

It has happened to the present writer, in addressing American students,
to lay stress upon the rôle of certain dominant ideas in determining
policy (upon the idea, say, of the State as a person, upon the
conception of States as necessarily rival entities), and afterwards to
get questions in this wise: "Your lecture seems to imply an
internationalist policy. What is your plan? What ought we to do? Should
we make a naval alliance, with Great Britain, or form a new League of
Nations, or denounce Article X, or ...?" I have replied: "The first
thing to do is to change your ideas and moral values; or to get to know
them better. That is the most practical and immediate platform, because
all others depend on it. We all profess great love of peace and justice.
What will you pay for it, in terms of national sovereignty? What degree
of sovereignty will you surrender as your contribution to a new order?
If your real feeling is for domination, then the only effect of writing
constitutions of the League of Nations will be to render international
organisation more remote than ever, by showing how utterly incompatible
it is with prevailing moral values."

But such a reply is usually regarded as hopelessly "unpractical." There
is no indication of something to be "done"--a platform to be defended or
a law to be passed. To change fundamental opinions and redirect desires
is not apparently to "do" anything at all. Yet until that invisible
thing is done our Covenants and Leagues will be as futile as have been
the numberless similar plans of the past, "concerning which," as one
seventeenth century critic wrote, "I know no single imperfection save
this: That by no possibility would any Prince or people be brought to
abide by them." It was, I believe, regarded as a triumph of practical
organisation to have obtained nation-wide support for the 'League to
Enforce Peace' proposal, "without raising controversial matters at
all"--leaving untouched, that is, the underlying ideas of patriotism, of
national right and international obligation, the prevailing moral and
political values, in fact. The subsequent history of America's relation
to the world's effort to create a League of Nations is sufficient
commentary as to whether it is "practical" to devise plans and
constitutions without reference to a prevailing attitude of mind.

America has before her certain definite problems of foreign
policy--Japanese immigration into the United States and the Philippines;
concessions granted to foreigners in Mexico; the question of disorder in
that country; the relations with Hayti (which will bear on the question
of America's subject nationality, the negro); the exemption of American
ships from tolls in the Panama Canal; the exclusion of foreign shipping
from "coastwise" trade with the Philippines. It would be possible to
draw up plans of settlement with regard to each item which would be
equitable. But the development of foreign policy (which, more than any
other department of politics, will fix the quality of American society
in the future) will not depend upon the more or less equitable
settlement of those specific questions. The specific differences between
England and Germany before the War were less serious than those between
England and America--and were nearly all settled when war broke out.
Whether an issue like Japanese immigration or the Panama tolls leads to
war will not depend upon its intrinsic importance, or whether Britain or
Japan or America make acceptable proposals on the subject. Mr
ex-Secretary Daniels has just told us that the assertion of the right
to establish a cable station on the Island of Yap is good ground for
risking war. The specific issues about which nations fight are so little
the real cause of the fight that they are generally completely forgotten
when it comes to making the peace. The future of submarine warfare was
not mentioned at Versailles. Given a certain state of mind, a difference
about cables on the Island of Yap is quite sufficient to make war
inevitable. We should probably regard it as a matter of national honour,
concerning which there must be no argument. Another mood, and it would
be impossible to get the faintest ripple of interest in the subject.

It was not British passion for Serbian nationality which brought Britain
to the side of Russia in 1914. It was the fear of German power and what
might be done with it, a fear wrought to frenzy pitch by a long
indoctrination concerning German wickedness and aggression. Passion for
the subjugation of Germany persisted long after there was any ground of
fear of what German power might accomplish. If America fights Japan, it
will not be over cables on Yap; it will be from fear of Japanese power,
the previous stimulation of latent hatreds for the strange and foreign.
And if the United States goes to war over Panama Canal tolls, it will
not be because the millions who will get excited over that question have
examined the matter, or possess ships or shares in ships that will
profit by the exemption; it will be because all America has read of
Irish atrocities which recall school-day histories of British atrocities
in the American Colonies; because the "person," Britain, has become a
hateful and hostile person, and must be punished and coerced.

War either with Japan or Britain or both is, of course, quite within the
region of possibility. It is merely an evasion of the trouble which
facing reality always involves, to say that war between Britain and
America is "unthinkable." If any war, as we have known it these last ten
years, is thinkable, war between nations that have already fought two
wars is obviously not unthinkable. And those who can recall at all
vividly the forces which marked the growth of the conflict between
Britain and Germany will see just those forces beginning to colour the
relations of Britain and America. Among those forces none is more
notable than this: a disturbing tendency to stop short at the ultimate
questions, a failure to face the basic causes of divergence. Among
people of good will there is a tendency to say: "Don't let's talk about
it. Be discreet. Let us assume we are good friends and we shall be. Let
us exchange visits." In just such a way, even within a few weeks of war,
did people of good will in England and Germany decide not to talk of
their differences, to be discreet, to exchange visits. But the men of
ill will talked--talked of the wrong things--and sowed their deadly

These pages suggest why neither side in the Anglo-German conflict came
down to realities before the War. To have come to fundamentals would
have revealed the fact to both parties that any real settlement would
have asked things which neither would grant. Really to have secured
Germany's future economic security would have meant putting her access
to the resources of India and Africa upon a basis of Treaty, of
contract. That was for Britain the end of Empire, as Imperialists
understood it. To have secured in exchange the end of "marching and
drilling" would have been the end of military glory for Prussia. For
both it would have meant the surrender of certain dominations, a
recasting of patriotic ideals, a revolution of ideas.

Whether Britain and America are to fight may very well depend upon this:
whether the blinder and more unconscious motives rooted in traditional
patriotisms, and the impulse to the assertion of power, will work their
evil before the development of ideas has brought home to us a clearer
vision of the abyss into which we fall; before we have modified, in
other words, our tradition of patriotism, our political moralities, our
standard of values. Without that more fundamental change no scheme of
settlement of specific differences, no platforms, Covenants,
Constitution can avail, or have any chance of acceptance or success.

As a contribution to that change of ideas and of values these pages are


The central conclusion suggested by the following analysis of the events
of the past few years is that, underlying the disruptive processes so
evidently at work--especially in the international field--is the
deep-rooted instinct to the assertion of domination, preponderant power.
This impulse sanctioned and strengthened by prevailing traditions of
'mystic' patriotism, has been unguided and unchecked by any adequate
realisation either of its anti-social quality, the destructiveness
inseparable from its operation, or its ineffectiveness to ends
indispensable to civilisation.

The psychological roots of the impulse are so deep that we shall
continue to yield to it until we realise more fully its danger and
inadequacy to certain vital ends like sustenance for our people, and
come to see that if civilisation is to be carried on we must turn to
other motives. We may then develop a new political tradition, which will
'discipline' instinct, as the tradition of toleration disciplined
religious fanaticism when that passion threatened to shatter European

Herein lies the importance of demonstrating the economic futility of
military power. While it may be true that conscious economic motives
enter very little into the struggle of nations, and are a very small
part of the passions of patriotism and nationalism, it is by a
realisation of the economic truth regarding the indispensable condition
of adequate life, that those passions will be checked, or redirected and

This does not mean that economic considerations should dominate life,
but rather the contrary--that those considerations will dominate it if
the economic truth is neglected. A people that starves is a people
thinking only of material things--food. The way to dispose of economic
pre-occupations is to solve the economic problem.

The bearing of this argument is that developed by the present writer in
a previous book, _The Great Illusion_, and the extent to which it has
been vindicated by events, is shown in the Addendum.


CHAPTER                                                             PAGE

  I OUR DAILY BREAD                                                    3

 II THE OLD ECONOMY AND THE POST-WAR STATE                            61

RIGHT                                                                 81

 IV MILITARY PREDOMINANCE--AND INSECURITY                            112

SOCIAL OUTCOME                                                       142


VII THE SPIRITUAL ROOTS OF THE SETTLEMENT                            199

    AND ITS PRESENT RELEVANCE                                        253

    I. The 'Impossibility of War' Myth. II. 'Economic'
    and 'Moral' Motives in International Affairs. III. The
    'Great Illusion' Argument. IV. Arguments now out of
    date. V. The Argument as an attack on the State.
    VI. Vindication by Events. VII. Could the War have
    been prevented?


CHAPTER I (pp. 3-60)


An examination of the present conditions in Europe shows that much of
its dense population (particularly that of these islands) cannot live at
a standard necessary for civilisation (leisure, social peace, individual
freedom) except by certain co-operative processes which must be carried
on largely across frontiers. (The prosperity of Britain depends on the
production by foreigners of a surplus of food and raw material above
their own needs.) The present distress is not mainly the result of the
physical destruction of war (famine or shortage is worst, as in the
Austrian and German and Russian areas, where there has been no
destruction). The Continent as a whole has the same soil and natural
resources and technical knowledge as when it fed its populations. The
causes of its present failure at self-support are moral: economic
paralysis following political disintegration, 'Balkanisation'; that, in
its turn, due to certain passions and prepossessions.

A corresponding phenomenon is revealed within each national society: a
decline of production due to certain moral disorders, mainly in the
political field; to 'unrest,' a greater cleavage between groups,
rendering the indispensable co-operation less effective.

The necessary co-operation, whether as between nations or groups within
each nation, cannot be compelled by physical coercion, though disruptive
forces inseparable from the use of coercion can paralyse co-operation.
Allied preponderance of power over Germany does not suffice to obtain
indemnities, or even coal in the quantities demanded by the Treaty. The
output of the workers in Great Britain would not necessarily be improved
by adding to the army or police force. As interdependence increases, the
limits of coercion are narrowed. Enemies that are to pay large
indemnities must be permitted actively to develop their economic life
and power; they are then so potentially strong that enforcement of the
demands becomes correspondingly expensive and uncertain. Knowledge and
organisation acquired by workers for the purposes of their labour can be
used to resist oppression. Railwaymen or miners driven to work by force
would still find means of resistance. A proletarian dictatorship cannot
coerce the production of food by an unwilling peasantry. The processes
by which wealth is produced have, by increasing complexity, become of a
kind which can only be maintained if there be present a large measure of
voluntary acquiescence, which means, in its turn, confidence. The need
for that is only made the more imperative by the conditions which have
followed the virtual suspension of the gold standard in all the
belligerent States of Europe, the collapse of the exchanges and other
manifestations of instability of the currencies.

European statesmanship, as revealed in the Treaty of Versailles, and in
the conduct of international affairs since the Armistice, has recognised
neither the fact of interdependence--the need for the economic unity of
Europe--nor the futility of attempted coercion. Certain political ideas
and passions give us an unworkable Europe. What is their nature? How
have they arisen? How can they be corrected? These questions are part of
the problem of sustenance; which is the first indispensable of

CHAPTER II (pp. 61-80)


The trans-national processes which enabled Europe to support itself
before the War were based mainly on private exchanges prompted by the
expectation of individual advantage. They were not dependent upon
political power. (The fifteen millions for whom German soil could not
provide lived by trade with countries over which Germany had no
political control, as a similar number of British live by similar
non-political means.)

The old individualist economy has been largely destroyed by the State
Socialism introduced for war purposes: the nation, taking over
individual enterprise, became trader and manufacturer in increasing
degree. The economic clauses of the Treaty, if enforced, must prolong
this tendency, rendering a large measure of such Socialism permanent.

The change may be desirable. But if co-operation must in future be less
as between individuals for private advantage, and much more as between
_nations_, governments acting in an economic capacity, the political
emotions of nationalisation will play a much larger role in the economic
processes of Europe. If to Nationalist hostilities as we have known them
in the past is to be added the commercial rivalry of nations now
converted into traders and capitalists, we are likely to have not a less
but a more quarrelsome world, unless the fact of interdependence is much
more vividly realised than in the past.

CHAPTER III (pp. 81-111)


The change noted in the preceding chapter raises a profound question of
Right--Have we the right to use our power to deny to others the means of
life? By our political power we _can_ create a Europe which, while not
assuring advantage to the victor, deprives the vanquished of means of
existence. The loss of both ore and coal by the Central Powers might
well make it impossible for their future populations to find food. What
are they to do? Starve? To disclaim responsibility is to claim that we
are entitled to use our power to deny them life.

This 'right' to starve foreigners can only be invoked by invoking the
conception of nationalism--'Our nation first.' But the policy of placing
life itself upon a foundation of preponderant force, instead of mutually
advantageous co-operation, compels statesmen perpetually to betray the
principle of nationality; not only directly, (as in the case of the
annexation of territory, economically necessary, but containing peoples
of alien nationality,) but indirectly; for the resistance which our
policy (of denying means of subsistence to others) provokes, makes
preponderance of power the condition of survival. All else must give way
to that need.

Might cannot be pledged to Right in these conditions. If our power is
pledged to Allies for the purpose of the Balance (which means, in fact,
preponderance), it cannot be used against them to enforce respect for
(say) nationality. To turn against Allies would break the Balance. To
maintain the Balance of Power we are compelled to disregard the moral
merits of an Ally's policy (as in the case of the promise to the Czar's
government not to demand the independence of Poland). The maintenance of
a Balance (_i.e._ preponderance) is incompatible with the maintenance of
Right. There is a conflict of obligation.

CHAPTER IV (pp. 112-141)


The moral questions raised in the preceding chapter have a direct
bearing on the effectiveness of military power based on the National
unit, or a group of National units, such as an Alliance. Military
preponderance of the smaller Western National units over large and
potentially powerful groups, like the German or the Russian, must
necessitate stable and prolonged co-operation. But, as the present
condition of the Alliance which fought the War shows, the rivalries
inseparable from the fears and resentments of 'instinctive' nationalism,
make that prolonged co-operation impossible. The qualities of
Nationalism which stand in the way of Internationalism stand also in the
way of stable alliances (which are a form of Internationalism) and make
them extremely unstable foundations of power.

The difficulties encountered by the Allies in taking combined action in
Russia show that to this fundamental instability due to the moral nature
of Nationalism, must be added, as causes of military paralysis, the
economic disruption which reduces the available material resources, and
the social unrest (largely the result of the economic difficulties)
which undermines the cohesion even of the national unit.

These forces render military predominance based on the temporary
co-operation of units still preserving the Nationalist outlook extremely
precarious and unreliable.

CHAPTER V (pp. 142-168)


The greatest and most obvious present need of Europe, for the salvation
of its civilisation, is unity and co-operation. Yet the predominant
forces of its politics push to conflict and disunity. If it is the
calculating selfishness of 'realist' statesmen that thus produces
impoverishment and bankruptcy, the calculation would seem to be
defective. The Balkanisation of Europe obviously springs, however, from
sources belonging to our patriotisms, which are mainly uncalculating
and instinctive, 'mystic' impulses and passions. Can we safely give
these instinctive pugnacities full play?

One side of patriotism--gregariousness, 'herd instinct'--has a socially
protective origin, and is probably in some form indispensable. But
coupled with uncontrolled pugnacity, tribal gregariousness grows into
violent partisanship as against other groups, and greatly strengthens
the instinct to coercion, the desire to impose our power.

In war-time, pugnacity, partisanship, coerciveness can find full
satisfaction in the fight against the enemy. But when the war is over,
these instincts, which have become so highly developed, still seek
satisfaction. They may find it in two ways: in conflict between Allies,
or in strife between groups within the nation.

We may here find an explanation of what seems otherwise a moral enigma:
that just _after a war_, universally lauded as a means of national
unity, 'bringing all classes together,' the country is distraught by
bitter social chaos, amounting to revolutionary menace; and that after
the war which was to wipe out at last all the old differences which
divided the Allies, their relations are worse than before the War (as in
the case of Britain and America and Britain and France).

Why should the fashionable lady, capable of sincere self-sacrifice
(scrubbing hospital floors and tending canteens) for her countrymen when
they are soldiers, become completely indifferent to the same countrymen
when they have returned to civil life (often dangerous and hard, as in
mining and fishing)? In the latter case there is no common enmity
uniting duchess and miner.

Another enigma may be solved in the same way: why military terrorism,
unprovoked war, secret diplomacy, autocratic tyranny, violation of
nationality, which genuinely appal us when committed by the enemy, leave
us unmoved when political necessity' provokes very similar conduct on
our part; why the ideals for which we went to war become matters of
indifference to us when we have achieved victory. Gregariousness, which
has become intense partisanship, makes right that which our side does or
desires; wrong that which the other side does.

This is fatal, not merely to justice, but to sincerity, to intellectual
rectitude, to the capacity to see the truth objectively. It explains why
we can, at the end of a war, excuse or espouse the very policies which
the war was waged to make impossible.

CHAPTER VI (pp. 169-198)


Instinct, being co-terminous with all animal life, is a motive of
conduct immeasurably older and more deeply rooted than reasoning based
on experience. So long as the instinctive, 'natural' action succeeds, or
appears to succeed in its object, we do not trouble to examine the
results of instinct or to reason. Only failure causes us to do that.

We have seen that the pugnacities, gregariousness, group partisanship
embodied in patriotism, give a strong emotional push to domination, the
assertion of our power over others as a means of settling our relations
with them. Physical coercion marks all the early methods in politics (as
in autocracy and feudalism), in economics (as in slavery), and even in
the relations of the sexes.

But we try other methods (and manage to restrain our impulse
sufficiently) when we really discover that force won't work. When we
find we cannot coerce a man but still need his service, we offer him
inducements, bargain with him, enter a contract. This is the result of
realising that we really need him, and cannot compel him. That is the
history of the development from status to contract.

Stable international co-operation cannot come in any other way. Not
until we realise the failure of national coercive power for
indispensable ends (like the food of our people) shall we cease to
idealise power and to put our intensest political emotions, like those
of patriotism, behind it.

The alternative to preponderance is partnership of power. Both may imply
the employment of force (as in policing), but the latter makes force the
instrument of a conscious social purpose, offering to the rival that
challenges the force (as in the case of the individual criminal within
the nation) the same rights as those claimed by the users of force.
Force as employed by competitive nationalism does not do this. It says
'You or me,' not 'You and me.' The method of social co-operation may
fail temporarily; but it has the perpetual opportunity of success. It
succeeds the moment that the two parties both accept it. But the other
method is bound to fail; the two parties cannot both accept it. Both
cannot be masters. Both can be partners.

The failure of preponderant power on a nationalist basis for
indispensable ends would be self-evident but for the push of the
instincts which warp our judgment.

Yet faith in the social method is the condition of its success. It is a
choice of risks. We distrust and arm. Others, then, are entitled also to
distrust; their arming is our justification for distrusting them. The
policy of suspicion justifies itself. To allay suspicion we must accept
the risk of trust. That, too, will justify itself.

Man's future depends on making the better choice, for either the
distrust or the faith will justify itself. His judgment will not be fit
to make that choice if it is warped by the passions of pugnacity and
hate that we have cultivated as part of the apparatus of war.

CHAPTER VII (pp. 199-251)


If our instinctive pugnacities and hates are uncontrollable, and they
dictate conduct, no more is to be said. We are the helpless victims of
outside forces, and may as well surrender. But many who urge this most
insistently in the case of our patriotic pugnacities obviously do not
believe it: their demands for the suppression of 'defeatist' propaganda
during the War, their support of war-time propaganda for the maintenance
of morale, their present fears of the 'deadly infection' of Bolshevist
ideas, indicate, on the contrary, a very real belief that feelings can
be subject to an extremely rapid modification or redirection. In human
society mere instinct has always been modified or directed in some
measure by taboos, traditions, conventions, constituting a social
discipline. The character of that discipline is largely determined by
some sense of social need, developed as the result of the suggestion of
transmitted ideas, discussions, intellectual ferment.

The feeling which made the Treaty inevitable was the result of a partly
unconscious but also partly conscious propaganda of war half-truths,
built up on a sub-structure of deeply rooted nationalist conceptions.
The systematic exploitation of German atrocities, and the systematic
suppression of similar Allied offences, the systematic suppression of
every good deed done by our enemy, constituted a monstrous half-truth.
It had the effect of fortifying the conception of the enemy people as a
single person; its complete collective responsibility. Any one of
them--child, woman, invalid--could properly be punished (by famine, say)
for any other's guilt. Peace became a problem of repressing or
destroying this entirely bad person by a combination of nations entirely

This falsified the nature of the problem, gave free rein to natural and
instinctive retaliations, obscured the simplest human realities, and
rendered possible ferocious cruelty on the part of the Allies. There
would have been in any case a strong tendency to ignore even the facts
which in Allied interest should have been considered. In the best
circumstances it would have been extremely difficult to put through a
Wilsonian (type 1918) policy, involving restraint of the sacred
egoisms, the impulsive retaliations, the desire for dominion inherent
in 'intense' nationalisms. The efficiency of the machinery by which the
Governments for the purpose of war formed the mind of the nation, made
it out of the question.

If ever the passions which gather around the patriotisms disrupting and
Balkanising Europe are to be disciplined or directed by a better social
tradition, we must face without pretence or self-deception the results
which show the real nature of the older political moralities. We must
tell truths that disturb strong prejudices.





_The relation of certain economic facts to Britain's independence and
Social Peace_

Political instinct in England, particularly in the shaping of naval
policy, has always recognised the intimate relation which must exist
between an uninterrupted flow of food to these shores and the
preservation of national independence. An enemy in a position to stop
that flow would enjoy not merely an economic but a political power over
us--the power to starve us into ignominious submission to his will.

The fact has, of course, for generations been the main argument for
Britain's right to maintain unquestioned command of the sea. In the
discussions before the War concerning the German challenge to our naval
power, it was again and again pointed out that Britain's position was
very special: what is a matter of life and death for her had no
equivalent importance for other powers. And it was when the Kaiser
announced that Germany's future was upon the sea that British fear
became acute! The instinct of self-preservation became aroused by the
thought of the possible possession in hostile hands of an instrument
that could sever vital arteries.

The fact shows how impossible it is to divide off into watertight
compartments the 'economic' from the political or moral. To preserve the
capacity to feed our people, to see that our children shall have milk,
is certainly an economic affair--a commercial one even. But it is an
indispensable condition also of the defence of our country, of the
preservation of our national freedom. The ultimate end behind the
determination to preserve a preponderant navy may be purely nationalist
or moral; the means is the maintenance of a certain economic situation.

Indeed the task of ensuring the daily bread of the people touches moral
and social issues nearer and more intimate even than the preservation of
our national independence. The inexorable rise in the cost of living,
the unemployment and loss and insecurity which accompany a rapid fall in
prices, are probably the predominating factors in a social unrest which
may end in transforming the whole texture of Western society. The worker
finds his increased wage continually nullified by increase of price. Out
of this situation arises an exasperation which, naturally enough, with
peoples habituated by five years of war to violence and emotional
mass-judgments, finds expression, not necessarily in organised
revolution--that implies, after all, a plan of programme, a hope of a
new order--but rather in sullen resentment; declining production, the
menace of general chaos. However restricted the resources of a country
may have become, there will always be some people under a régime of
private capital and individual enterprise who will have more than a mere
sufficiency, whose means will reach to luxury and even ostentation. They
may be few in number; the amount of waste their luxury represents may in
comparison with the total resources be unimportant. But their existence
will suffice to give colour to the charge of profiteering and
exploitation and to render still more acute the sullen discontent, and
finally perhaps the tendency to violence.

It is in such a situation that the price of a few prime
necessaries--bread, coal, milk, sugar, clothing--becomes a social,
political, and moral fact of the first importance. A two-shilling loaf
may well be a social and political portent.

In the week preceding the writing of these lines five cabinets have
fallen in Europe. The least common denominator in the cause is the
grinding poverty which is common to the peoples they ruled. In two cases
the governments fell avowedly over the question of bread, maintained by
subsidy at a fraction of its commercial cost. Everywhere the social
atmosphere, the temper of the workers, responds to stimulus of that

When we reach the stage at which mothers are forced to see their
children slowly die for lack of milk and bread, or the decencies of life
are lost in a sordid scramble for sheer physical existence, then the
economic problem becomes the gravest moral problem. The two are merged.

The obvious truth that, if economic preoccupations are not to dominate
the minds and absorb the energies of men to the exclusion of less
material things, then the fundamental economic needs must be satisfied;
the fact, that though the foundations are certainly not the whole
building, civilisation does rest upon foundations of food, shelter,
fuel, and that if it is to be stable they must be sound--these things
have been rendered commonplace by events since the Armistice. But before
the War they were not commonplaces. The suggestion that the economic
results of war were worth considering was quite commonly rejected as
'offensive,' implying that men went to war for 'profit.' Nations in
going to war, we were told, were lifted beyond the region of
'economics.' The conception that the neglect of the economics of war
might mean--as it has meant--the slow torture of tens of millions of
children and the disintegration of whole civilisations, and that if
those who professed to be the trustees of their fellows were not
considering these things they ought to be--this was, very curiously as
it now seems to us at this date, regarded as sordid and material. We now
see that the things of the spirit depend upon the solution of these
material problems.

The one fact which stood out clear above all others after the Armistice
was the actual shortage of goods at a time when millions were literally
dying of hunger. The decline of productivity was obvious. It was due in
part to diversion of energies to the task of war, to the destruction of
materials, failure in many cases to maintain plant (factories, railways,
roads, housing); to a varying degree of industrial and commercial
demoralisation arising out of the War and, later, out of the struggle
for political rearrangements both within States and as between States;
to the shortening of the hours of labour; to the dislocation, first of
mobilisation, and then of demobilisation; to relaxation of effort as
reaction from the special strain of war; to the demoralisation of credit
owing to war-time financial shifts. We had all these factors of reduced
productivity on the one side, and on the other a generally increased
habit and standard of expenditure, due in part to a stimulation of
spending power owing to the inflation of the currency and in part to the
recklessness which usually follows war; and above all an increasingly
insistent demand on the part of the worker everywhere in Europe for a
higher general standard of living, that is to say, not only a larger
share of the diminished product of his labour, but a larger absolute
amount drawn from a diminished total.

This created an economic _impasse_--the familiar 'vicious circle.' The
decline in the purchasing power of money and the rise in the rate of
interest set up demands for compensating increases both of wages and of
profits, which increases in turn added to the cost of production, to
prices. And so on _da capo_. As the first and last remedy for this
condition one thing was urged, to the exclusion of almost all
else--increased production. The King, the Cabinet, economists, Trades
Union leaders, the newspapers, the Churches, all agreed upon that one
solution. Until well into the autumn of 1920 all were enjoining upon the
workers their duty of an ever-increasing output.

By the end of that year, workers, who had on numberless occasions been
told that their one salvation was to increase their output, and who had
been upbraided in no mild terms because of their tendency to diminish
output, were being discharged in their hundreds of thousands because
there was a paralysing over-production and glut! Half a world was
famished and unclothed, but vast stores of British goods were rotting
and multitudes of workers unemployed. America revealed the same
phenomena. After stories of the fabulous wealth which had come to her as
the result of the War and the destruction of her commercial competitors,
we find, in the winter of 1920-21 that over great areas in the South and
West her farmers are near to bankruptcy because their cotton and wheat
are unsaleable at prices that are remunerative, and her industrial
unemployment problem as acute as it has been in a generation. So bad is
it, indeed, that the Labour Unions are unable to resist the Open Shop
campaign forced upon them by the employers, a campaign menacing the
gains in labour organisation that it has taken more than a generation to
make. America's commercial competitors being now satisfactorily disposed
of by the War, and 'the economic conquest of the world' being now open
to that country, we find the agricultural interests (particularly cotton
and wheat) demanding government aid for the purpose of putting these
aforesaid competitors once more on their feet (by loan) in order that
they may buy American products. But the loans can only be repaid and the
products paid for in goods. This, of course, constitutes, in terms of
nationalist economics, a 'menace.' So the same Congress which receives
demands for government credits to European countries, also receives
demands for the enactment of Protectionist legislation, which will
effectually prevent the European creditors from repaying the loans or
paying for the purchases. The spectacle is a measure of the chaos in our
thinking on international economics.[1]

But the fact we are for the moment mainly concerned with is this: on the
one side millions perishing for lack of corn or cotton; on the other
corn and cotton in such abundance that they are burned, and their
producers face bankruptcy.

Obviously therefore it is not merely a question of production, but of
production adjusted to consumption, and vice versa; of proper
distribution of purchasing power, and a network of processes which must
be in increasing degree consciously controlled. We should never have
supposed that mere production would suffice, if there did not
perpetually slip from our minds the very elementary truth that in a
world where division of labour exists wealth is not a material but a
material plus a process--a process of exchange. Our minds are still
dominated by the mediæval aspect of wealth as a 'possession' of static
material such as land, not as part of a flow. It is that oversight which
probably produced the War; it certainly produced certain clauses of the
Treaty. The wealth of England is not coal, because if we could not
exchange it (or the manufactures and services based on it) for other
things--mainly food--it certainly would not even feed our population.
And the process by which coal becomes bread is only possible by virtue
of certain adjustments, which can only be made if there be present such
things as a measure of political security, stability of conditions
enabling us to know that crops can be gathered, transported and sold for
money of stable value; if there be in other words the indispensable
element of contract, confidence, rendering possible the indispensable
device of credit. And as the self-sufficing economic unit--quite
obviously in the case of England, less obviously but hardly less
certainly in other notable cases--cannot be the national unit, the field
of the contract--the necessary stability of credit, that is--must be, if
not international, then trans-national. All of which is extremely
elementary; and almost entirely overlooked by our statesmanship, as
reflected in the Settlement and in the conduct of policy since the


     _Britain's dependence on the production by foreigners of a surplus
     of food and raw materials beyond their own needs_

The matter may be clarified if we summarise what precedes, and much of
what follows, in this proposition:--

     The present conditions in Europe show that much of its dense
     population (notably the population of these islands) can only live
     at a standard necessary for civilisation (leisure, social peace,
     individual freedom) by means of certain co-operative processes,
     which must be carried on largely across frontiers. The mere
     physical existence of much of the population of Britain is
     dependent upon the production by foreigners of a surplus of food
     and raw materials beyond their own needs.

     The processes of production have become of the complex kind which
     cannot be compelled by preponderant power, exacted by physical

     But the attempt at such coercion, the inevitable results of a
     policy aimed at securing predominant power, provoking resistance
     and friction, can and does paralyse the necessary processes, and by
     so doing is undermining the economic foundations of British life.

What are the facts supporting the foregoing proposition?

Many whose instincts of national protection would become immediately
alert at the possibility of a naval blockade of these islands, remain
indifferent to the possibility of a blockade arising in another but
every bit as effective a fashion.

That is through the failure of the food and raw material, upon which our
populations and our industries depend, to be produced at all owing to
the progressive social disintegration which seems to be going on over
the greater part of the world. To the degree to which it is true to say
that Britain's life is dependent upon her fleet, it is true to say that
it is dependent upon the production by foreigners of a surplus above
their own needs of food and raw material. This is the most fundamental
fact in the economic situation of Britain: a large portion of her
population are fed by the exchange of coal, or services and manufactures
based on coal, for the surplus production, mainly food and raw material,
of peoples living overseas.[2] Whether the failure of food to reach us
were due to the sinking of our ships at sea or the failure of those
ships to obtain cargoes at the port of embarkation the result in the end
would be the same. Indeed, the latter method, if complete, would be the
more serious as an armistice or surrender would not bring relief.

The hypothesis has been put in an extreme form in order to depict the
situation as vividly as possible. But such a condition as the complete
failure of the foreigner's surplus does not seem to-day so preposterous
as it might have done five years ago. For that surplus has shrunk
enormously and great areas that once contributed to feeding us can do so
no longer. Those areas already include Russia, Siberia, the Balkans, and
a large part of the Near and Far East. What we are practically concerned
with, of course, is not the immediate disappearance of that surplus on
which our industries depend, but the degree to which its reduction
increases for us the cost of food, and so intensifies all the social
problems that arise out of an increasing cost of living. Let the
standard alike of consumption and production of our overseas white
customers decline to the standard of India and China, and our foreign
trade would correspondingly decrease; the decline in the world's
production of food would mean that much less for us; it would reduce the
volume of our trade, or in terms of our own products, cost that much
more; this in turn would increase the cost of our manufactures, create
an economic situation which one could describe with infinite technical
complexity, but which, however technical and complex that description
were made, would finally come to this--that our own toil would become
less productive.

That is a relatively new situation. In the youth of men now living,
these islands with their twenty-five or thirty million population were,
so far as vital needs are concerned, self-sufficing. What will be the
situation when the children now growing up in our homes become members
of a British population which may number fifty, sixty, or seventy
millions? (Germany's population, which, at the outbreak of war, was
nearly seventy millions, was in 1870 a good deal less than the present
population of Great Britain.)

Moreover, the problem is affected by what is perhaps the most important
economic change in the world since the industrial revolution, namely the
alteration in the ratio of the exchange value of manufactures and
food--the shift over of advantage in exchange from the side of the
industrialist and manufacturer to the side of the producer of food.

Until the last years of the nineteenth century the world was a place in
which it was relatively easy to produce food, and nearly the whole of
its population was doing it. In North and South America, in Russia,
Siberia, China, India, the universal occupation was agriculture, carried
on largely (save in the case of China and India) upon new soil, its
first fertility as yet unexhausted. A tiny minority of the world's
population only was engaged in industry in the modern sense: in
producing things in factories by machinery, in making iron and steel.
Only in Great Britain, in Northern Germany, in a few districts in the
United States, had large-scale industry been systematically developed.
It is easy to see, therefore, what immense advantage in exchange the
industrialist had. What he had for sale was relatively scarce; what the
agriculturist had for sale was produced the world over and was, _in
terms of manufactures_, extremely cheap. It was the economic paradox of
the time that in countries like America, South and North, the
farmer--the producer of food--was naturally visualised as a
poverty-stricken individual--a 'hayseed' dressed in cotton jeans,
without the conveniences and amenities of civilisation, while it was in
the few industrial centres that the vast wealth was being piled up. But
as the new land in North America and Argentina and Siberia became
occupied and its first fertility exhausted, as the migration from the
land to the towns set in, it became possible with the spread of
technical training throughout the world, with the wider distribution of
mechanical power and the development of transport, for every country in
some measure to engage in manufacture, and the older industrial centres
lost some of their monopoly advantage in dealing with the food producer.
In Cobden's day it was almost true to say that England spun cotton for
the world. To-day cotton is spun where cotton is grown; in India, in the
Southern States of America, in China.

This is a condition which (as the pages which follow reveal in greater
detail) the intensification of nationalism and its hostility to
international arrangement will render very much more acute. The
patriotism of the future China or Argentina--or India and Australia, for
that matter--may demand the home production of goods now bought in (say)
England. It may not in economic terms benefit the populations who thus
insist upon a complete national economy. But 'defence is more than
opulence.' The very insecurity which the absence of a definitely
organised international order involves will be invoked as justifying the
attempt at economic self-sufficiency. Nationalism creates the situation
to which it points as justification for its policy: it makes the very
real dangers that it fears. And as Nationalism thus breaks up the
efficient transnational division of labour and diminishes total
productivity, the resultant pressure of population or diminished means
of subsistence will push to keener rivalry for the conquest of
territory. The circle can become exceedingly vicious--so vicious,
indeed, that we may finally go back to the self-sufficing village
community; a Europe sparsely populated if the resultant clerical
influence is unable to check prudence in the matter of the birth-rate,
densely populated to a Chinese or Indian degree if the birth-rate is

The economic chaos and social disintegration which have stricken so
much of the world have brought a sharp reminder of the primary, the
elemental place of food in the catalogue of man's needs, and the
relative ease and rapidity with which most else can be jettisoned in our
complex civilisation, provided only that the stomach can be filled.

Before the War the towns of Europe were the luxurious and opulent
centres; the rural districts were comparatively poor. To-day it is the
cities of the Continent that are half-starved or famine-stricken, while
the farms are well-fed and relatively opulent. In Russia, Poland,
Hungary, Germany, Austria, the cities perish, but the peasants for the
most part have a sufficiency. The cities are finding that with the
breakdown of the old stability--of the transport and credit systems
particularly--they cannot obtain food from the farmers. This process
which we now see at work on the Continent is in fact the reversal of our
historical development.

As money acquired a stable value and transport and communication became
easy and cheap, the manor ceased to be self-contained, to weave its own
clothes and make its own implements. But the Russian peasants are
proving to-day that if the railroads break down, and the paper money
loses its value, the farm can become once more self-sufficing. Better to
thresh the wheat with a flail, to weave clothes from the wool, than to
exchange wheat and wool for a money that will buy neither cloth nor
threshing machinery. But a country-side that weaves its own cloth and
threshes its grain by hand is one that has little surplus of food for
great cities--as Vienna, Buda-Pest, Moscow, and Petrograd have already

If England is destined in truth to remain the workshop of that world
which produces the food and raw material, then she has indeed a very
direct interest in the maintenance of all those processes upon which the
pre-war exchange between farm and factory, city and country,

The 'farm' upon which the 'factory' of Great Britain depends is the
food-producing world as a whole. It does not suffice that the overseas
world should merely support itself as it did, say, in the tenth century,
but it must be induced by hope of advantage to exchange a surplus for
those things which we can deliver to it more economically than it can
make them for itself. Because the necessary social and political
stability, with its material super-structure of transport and credit,
operating trans-nationally, has broken down, much of Europe is returning
to its earlier simple life of unco-ordinated production, and its total
fertility is being very greatly reduced. The consequent reaction of a
diminished food supply for ourselves is already being felt.


_The 'Prosperity' of Paper Money_

It will be said: Does not the unquestioned rise in the standard of
wages, despite all the talk of debt, expenditure, unbalanced budgets,
public bankruptcy, disprove any theory of a vital connection between a
stable Europe and our own prosperity? Indeed, has not the experience of
the War discredited much of the theory of the interdependence of

The first few years of the War did, indeed, seem to discredit it, to
show that this interdependence was not so vital as had been supposed.
Germany seemed for a long time really to be self-supporting, to manage
without contact with other peoples. It seemed possible to re-direct the
channels of trade with relative ease. It really appeared for a time that
the powers of the Governments could modify fundamentally the normal
process of credit almost at will, which would have been about equivalent
to the discovery of perpetual motion! Not only was private credit
maintained by governmental assistance, but exchanges were successfully
'pegged'; collapse could be prevented apparently with ease. Industry
itself showed a similar elasticity. In this country it seemed possible
to withdraw five or six million men from actual production, and so
organise the remainder as to enable them to produce enough not only to
maintain themselves, but the country at large and the army, in food,
clothing and other necessaries. And this was accomplished at a standard
of living above rather than below that which obtained when the country
was at peace, and when the six or seven or eight millions engaged in war
or its maintenance were engaged in the production of consumable wealth.
It seemed an economic miracle that with these millions withdrawn from
production, though remaining consumers, the total industrial output
should be very little less than it was before the War.

But we are beginning to see how this miracle was performed, and also
what is the truth as to the self-sufficiency of the great nations. As
late as the early summer of 1918, when, even after four years of the
exhausting drain of war, well-fed German armies were still advancing and
gaining victories, and German guns were bombarding Paris (for the first
time in the War), the edifice of German self-sufficiency seemed to be
sound. But this apparently stalwart economic structure crumbled in a few
months into utter ruins and the German population was starving and
freezing, without adequate food, fuel, clothing. England has in large
measure escaped this result just because her contacts with the rest of
the world have been maintained while Germany's have not. These latter
were not even re-established at the Armistice; in many respects her
economic isolation was more complete after the War than during it.
Moreover, because our contacts with the rest of the world are
maintained by shipping, a very great flexibility is given to our
extra-national economic relationships. Our lines of communication can be
switched from one side of the world to the other instantly, whereas a
country whose approaches are by railroads may find its communications
embarrassed for a generation if new frontiers render the old lines
inapplicable to the new political conditions.

In the first year or so following the Armistice there was a curious
contradiction in the prevailing attitude towards the economic situation
at home. The newspapers were full of headlines about the Road to Ruin
and National Bankruptcy; the Government plainly was unable to make both
ends meet; the financial world was immensely relieved when America
postponed the payments of debts to her; we were pathetically appealing
to her to come and save us; the British sovereign, which for generations
has been a standard of value for the world and the symbol of security,
dropped to a discount of 20 per cent, in terms of the dollar; our
Continental creditors were even worse off; the French could only pay us
in a depreciated paper currency, the value of which in terms of the
dollar varied between a third and a fourth of what it was before the
War; the lira was cheaper still. Yet side by side with this we had
stories of a trade boom (especially in textiles and cotton), so great
that merchants and manufacturers refused to go to their offices, in
order to dodge the flood of orders so vastly in excess of what they
could fulfil. Side by side with depreciated paper currency, with public
debts so crippling that the Government could only balance its budget by
loans which were not successful when floated, the amusement trades
flourished as never before. Theatre, music hall, and cinematograph
receipts beat all records. There was a greater demand for motor-cars
than the trade could supply. The Riviera was fuller than it had ever
been before. The working class itself was competing with others for the
purchase of luxuries which in the past that class never knew. And while
the financial situation made it impossible, apparently, to find capital
for building houses to live in, ample capital was forthcoming wherewith
to build cinema palaces. We heard and read of famine almost at our
doors, and saw great prosperity around us; read daily of impending
bankruptcy--and of high profits and lavish spending; of world-wide
unrest and revolution--and higher wages than the workers had ever known.

Complex and contradictory as the facts seemed, the difficulty of a true
estimate was rendered greater by the position in which European
Governments found themselves placed. These Governments were faced by the
necessity of maintaining credit and confidence at almost any cost. They
must not, therefore, throw too great an emphasis upon the dark features.
Yet the need for economy and production was declared to be as great as
it was during the war. To create a mood of seriousness and sober
resolution adequate to the situation would involve stressing facts
which, in their efforts to obtain loans, internal or external, and to
maintain credit, governments were compelled to minimise.

Then, of course, the facts were obscured mainly by the purchasing power
created by the manufacture of credit and paper money. Some light is
thrown upon this ambiguous situation by a fact which is now so
manifest--that this juxtaposition of growing indebtedness and lavish
spending, high wages, high profits, active trade, and a rising standard
of living, were all things that marked the condition of Germany in the
first few years of the War. Industrial concerns showed profits such as
they had never shown before; wages steadily rose; and money was
plentiful. But the profits were made and the wages were paid in a money
that continually declined in value--as ours is declining. The higher
consumption drew upon sources that were steadily being depleted--as ours
are being depleted. The production was in certain cases maintained by
very uneconomic methods: as by working only the best seams in the coal
mines, by devoting no effort to the proper upkeep of plant (locomotives
on the railway which ordinarily would go into the repair shop every six
weeks were kept running somehow during the whole course of the War). In
this sense the people were 'living upon capital'--devoting, that is, to
the needs of current consumption energy which should have been devoted
to ensuring future production. In another way, they were converting into
income what is normally a source of capital. An increase in profits or
wages, which ordinarily would have provided a margin, over and above
current expenditure, out of which capital for new plant, etc., could
have been drawn, was rapidly nullified by a corresponding increase in
prices. Loans for the purpose even of capital expenditure involved an
inflation of currency which still further increased prices, thus
diminishing the value of the capital so provided, necessitating the
issue of further loans which had the same effect. And so the vicious
circle was narrowed. Even after four years of this kind of thing the
edifice had in many respects the outward appearances of prosperity. As
late as April, 1918, the German organisation, as we have noted, was
still capable of maintaining a military machine which could not only
hold its own but compel the retirement of the combined forces of France,
Britain, America, and minor Allies. But once the underlying process of
disintegration became apparent, the whole structure went to pieces.

It is that unnoticed process of disintegration, preceding the final
collapse, which should interest us. For the general method employed by
Germany for meeting the consumption of war and disguising the growing
scarcity is in many respects the method her neighbours adopted for
meeting the consumption of a new standard of life on the basis of less
total wealth--a standard which, on the part of the workers, means both
shorter hours and a larger share of their produce, and on the part of
other classes a larger share of the more expensive luxuries. Like the
Germans of 1914-18, we are drawing for current consumption upon the fund
which, in a more healthy situation, would go to provide for renewal of
plant and provision of new capital. To 'eat the seed corn' may give an
appearance of present plenty at the cost of starvation later.

It is extremely unlikely that there will ever be in England the sudden
catastrophic economic collapse which we have witnessed in Russia,
Germany, Austria, and Central Europe generally. But we shall none the
less be concerned. As the increased wages gained by strikes lose with
increasing rapidity their value in purchasing power, thus wiping out the
effect of the industrial 'victory,' irritation among the workers will
grow. On minds so prepared the Continental experiments in social
reconstruction--prompted by conditions immeasurably more acute--will act
with the force of hypnotic suggestion. Our Government may attempt to
cope with these movements by repression or political devices. Tempers
will be too bad and patience too short to give the sound solutions a
real chance. And an economic situation, not in itself inherently
desperate, may get steadily worse because of the loss of social
discipline and of political insight, the failure to realise past
expectations, the continuance of military burdens created by external
political chaos.


_The European disintegration: Britain's concern._

What has actually happened in so much of Europe around us ought
certainly to prevent any too complacent sense of security. In the midst
of this old civilisation are (in Mr. Hoover's calculation) some hundred
million folk, who before the War managed to support themselves in fair
comfort but are now unable to be truly self-supporting. Yet they live
upon the same soil and in the presence of the same natural resources as
before the War. Their inability to use that soil and those materials is
not due to the mere physical destruction of war, for the famine is worst
where there has been no physical destruction at all. It is not a lack
of labour, for millions are unemployed, seeking work. Nor is it lack of
technical or scientific knowledge, upon which (very erroneously) we are
apt to look as the one sufficient factor of civilisation; for our
technical knowledge in the management of matter is greater even than
before the War.

What then is the reason why these millions starve in the midst of
potential plenty? It is that they have lost, from certain moral causes
examined later in these pages, the capacity to co-ordinate their labour
sufficiently to carry on the processes by which alone labour and
knowledge can be applied to an exploitation of nature sufficiently
complete to support our dense modern populations.

The fact that wealth is not to-day a material which can be taken, but a
process which can only be maintained by virtue of certain moral factors,
marks a change in human relationship, the significance of which still
seems to escape us.

The manor, or even the eighteenth century village, was roughly a
self-sufficing unit. It mattered little to that unit what became of the
outside world. The manor or village was independent; its people could be
cut off from the outside world, could ravage the near parts of it and
remain unaffected. But when the development of communication and the
discovery of steam turns the agricultural community into coal miners,
these are no longer indifferent to the condition of the outside world.
Cut them off from the agriculturalists who take their coal or
manufactures, or let these latter be unable to carry on their calling,
and the miner starves. He cannot eat his coal. He is no longed
independent. His life hangs upon certain activities of others. Where his
forebears could have raided and ravaged with no particular hurt to
themselves, the miner cannot. He is dependent upon those others and has
given them hostages. He is no longer 'independent,' however clamorously
in his Nationalist oratory he may use that word. He has been forced into
a relation of partnership. And how very small is the effectiveness of
any physical coercion he can apply, in order to exact the services by
which he lives, we shall see presently.

This situation of interdependence is of course felt much more acutely by
some countries than others--much more by England, for instance, than by
France. France in the matter of essential foodstuffs can be nearly
self-supporting, England cannot. For England, an outside world of fairly
high production is a matter of life and death; the economic
consideration must in this sense take precedence of others. In the case
of France considerations of political security are apt to take
precedence of economic considerations. France can weaken her neighbours
vitally without being brought to starvation. She can purchase security
at the cost of mere loss of profits on foreign trade by the economic
destruction of, say, Central Europe. The same policy would for Britain
in the long run spell starvation. And it is this fundamental difference
of economic situation which is at the bottom of much of the divergence
of policy between Britain and France which has recently become so acute.

This is the more evident when we examine recent changes of detail in
this general situation special to England. Before the War a very large
proportion of our food and raw material was supplied by the United
States. But our economic relationship with that country has been changed
as the result of the War. Previous to 1914 we were the creditor and
America the debtor nation. She was obliged to transmit to us large sums
in interest on investments of British capital. These annual payments
were in fact made in the form of food and raw materials, for which, in a
national sense, we did not have to give goods or services in return. We
are now less in the position of creditor, more in that of debtor.
America does not have to transmit to us. Whereas, originally, we did an
immense proportion of America's carrying trade, because she had no
ocean-going mercantile marine, she has begun to do her own carrying.
Further, the pressure of her population upon her food resources is
rapidly growing. The law diminishing returns is in some instances
beginning to apply to the production of food, which in the past has been
plentiful without fertilisers and under a very wasteful and simple
system. And in America, as elsewhere, the standard of consumption, owing
to a great increase of the wage standard, has grown, while the standard
of production has not always correspondingly increased.

The practical effect of this is to throw England into greater dependence
upon certain new sources of food--or trade, which in the end is the same
thing. The position becomes clearer if we reflect that our dependence
becomes more acute with every increase of our population. Our children
now at school may be faced by the problem of finding food for a
population of sixty or seventy millions on these islands. A high
agricultural productivity on the part of countries like Russia and
Siberia and the Balkans might well be then a life and death matter.

Now the European famine has taught us a good deal about the necessary
conditions of high agricultural productivity. The co-operation of
manufactures--of railways for taking crops out and fertilisers in, of
machinery, tools, wagons, clothing--is one of them. That manufacturing
itself must be done by division of labour is another: the country or
area that is fitted to supply textiles or cream separators is not
necessarily fitted to supply steel rails: yet until the latter are
supplied the former cannot be obtained. Often productivity is paralysed
simply because transport has broken down owing to lack of rolling stock,
or coal, or lubricants, or spare parts for locomotives; or because a
debased currency makes it impossible to secure food from peasants, who
will not surrender it in return for paper that has no value--the
manufactures which might ultimately give it value being paralysed. The
lack of confidence in the maintenance of the value of paper money, for
instance, is rapidly diminishing the food productivity of the soil;
peasants will not toil to produce food which they cannot exchange,
through the medium of money, for the things which they need--clothing,
implements, and so on. This diminishing productivity is further
aggravated by the impossibility of obtaining fertilisers (some of which
are industrial products, and all of which require transport), machines,
tools, etc. The food producing capacity of Europe cannot be maintained
without the full co-operation of the non-agricultural industries--transport,
manufactures, coal mining, sound banking--and the maintenance of
political order. Nothing but the restoration of all the economic
processes of Europe as a whole can prevent a declining productivity
that must intensify social and political disorder, of which we may
merely have seen the beginning.

But if this interdependence of factory and farm in the production of
food is indisputable, though generally ignored, it involves a further
fact just as indisputable, and even more completely ignored. And the
further fact is that the manufacturing and the farming, neither of which
can go on without the other, may well be situated in different States.
Vienna starves largely because the coal needed for its factories is now
situated in a foreign State--Czecho-Slovakia--which, partly from
political motives perhaps, fails to deliver it. Great food producing
areas in the Balkans and Russia are dependent for their tools and
machinery, for the stability of the money without which the food will
not be produced, upon the industries of Germany. Those industries are
destroyed, the markets have disappeared, and with them the incentive to
production. The railroads of what ought to be food producing States are
disorganized from lack of rolling stock, due to the same paralysis of
German industry; and so the food production is diminished. Tens of
millions of acres outside Germany, whose food the world sorely needs,
have been rendered barren by the industrial paralysis of the Central
Empires which the economic terms of the Treaty render inevitable.

Speaking of the need of Russian agriculture for German industry, Mr.
Maynard Keynes, who has worked out the statistics revealing the relative
position of Germany to the rest of Europe, writes:--

'It is impossible geographically and for many other reasons for
Englishmen, Frenchmen, or Americans to undertake it--we have neither the
incentive nor the means for doing the work on a sufficient scale.
Germany, on the other hand, has the experience, the incentive, and to a
large extent, the materials for furnishing the Russian peasant with the
goods of which he has been starved for the past five years, for
reorganising the business of transport and collection, and so for
bringing into the world's pool, for the common advantage, the supplies
from which we are now disastrously cut off.... If we oppose in detail
every means by which Germany or Russia can recover their material
well-being, because we feel a national, racial, or political hatred for
their populations or their governments, we must be prepared to face the
consequences of such feelings. Even if there is no moral solidarity
between the newly-related races of Europe, there is an economic
solidarity which we cannot disregard. Even now, the world markets are
one. If we do not allow Germany to exchange products with Russia and so
feed herself, she must inevitably compete with us for the produce of the
New World. The more successful we are in snapping economic relations
between Germany and Russia, the more we shall depress the level of our
own economic standards and increase the gravity of our own domestic

It is not merely the productivity of Russia which is involved. Round
Germany as a central support the rest of the European economic system
grouped itself, and upon the prosperity and enterprise of Germany the
prosperity of the rest of the Continent mainly depended. Germany was the
best customer of Russia, Norway, Poland, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy,
and Austria-Hungary; she was the second best customer of Great Britain,
Sweden, and Denmark; and the third best customer of France. She was the
largest source of supply to Russia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Poland,
Switzerland, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria; and the
second largest source of supply to Great Britain, Belgium, and France.
Britain sent more experts to Germany than to any other country in the
world except India, and bought more from her than any other country in
the world except the United States. There was no European country except
those west of Germany which did not do more than a quarter of their
total trade with her; and in the case of Russia, Austria-Hungary, and
Poland, the proportion was far greater. To retard or prevent the
economic restoration of Germany means retarding the economic
reconstruction of Europe.

This gives us a hint of the deep causes underlying the present
divergence of French and British policy with reference to the economic
reconstruction of Russia and Central Europe. A Britain of sixty or
seventy millions faced by the situation with reference to America that
has just been touched upon, might well find that the development of the
resources of Russia, Siberia, and the Near East--even at the cost of
dividing the profits thereof in terms of industrial development with
Germany, each supplying that for which it was best suited--was the
essential condition of food and social peace. France has no such
pre-occupation. Her concern is political: the maintenance of a military
predominance on which she believes her political security to depend, an
object that might well be facilitated by the political disintegration of
Europe even though it involved its economic disintegration.

That brings us to the political factor in the decline in productivity.
From it we may learn something of the moral factor, which is the
ultimate condition of any co-operation whatsoever.

The relationship of the political to the economic situation is
illustrated most vividly, perhaps, in the case of Austria. Mr. Hoover,
in testimony given to a United States Senate Committee, has declared
bluntly that it is no use talking of loans to Austria which imply future
security, if the present political status is to be maintained, because
that status has rendered the old economic activities impossible.
Speaking before the Committee, he said:--

     'The political situation in Austria I hesitate to discuss, but it
     is the cause of the trouble. Austria has now no hope of being
     anything more than a perpetual poorhouse, because all her lands
     that produce food have been taken from her. This, I will say, was
     done without American inspiration. If this political situation
     continues, and Austria is made a perpetual mendicant, the United
     States should not provide the charity. We should make the loan
     suggested with full notice that those who undertake to continue
     Austria's present status must pay the bill. Present Austria faces
     three alternatives--death, migration, or a complete industrial
     diversion and re-organization. Her economic rehabilitation seems
     impossible after the way she was broken up at the Peace Conference.
     Her present territory will produce only enough food for three
     months, and she has now no factories which might produce products
     to be exchanged for food.'[5]

To realise what can really be accomplished by statesmanship that has a
soul above such trifles as food and fuel, when it sets its hand to
map-drawing, one should attempt to visualise the state of Vienna to-day.
Mr A. G. Gardiner, the English journalist, has sketched it thus:--

     'To conceive its situation one must imagine London suddenly cut off
     from all the sources of its life, no access to the sea, frontiers
     of hostile Powers all round it, every coalfield of Yorkshire or
     South Wales or Scotland in foreign hands, no citizen able to travel
     to Birmingham or Manchester without a passport, the mills it had
     financed in Lancashire taken from it, no coal to burn, no food to
     eat, and--with its shilling down in value to a farthing--no money
     to buy raw materials for its labour, industry at a standstill,
     hundreds of thousands living (or dying) on charity, nothing
     prospering except the vile exploiters of misery, the traffickers in
     food, the traffickers in vice. That is the Vienna which the peace
     criminals have made.

     'Vienna was the financial and administrative centre of fifty
     million of people. It financed textile factories, paper
     manufacturing, machine works, beet growing, and scores of other
     industries in German Bohemia. It owned coal mines at Teschen. It
     drew its food from Hungary. From every quarter of the Empire there
     came to Vienna the half-manufactured products of the provinces for
     the finishing processes, tailoring, dyeing, glass-working, in which
     a vast population found employment.

     'Suddenly all this elaborate structure of economic life was swept
     away. Vienna, instead of being the vital centre of fifty millions
     of people, finds itself a derelict city with a province of six
     millions. It is cut off from its coal supplies, from its food
     supplies, from its factories, from everything that means existence.
     It is enveloped by tariff walls.'

The writer goes on to explain that the evils are not limited to Austria.
In this unhappy Balkanised Society that the peace has created at the
heart of Europe, every State is at issue with its neighbours: the Czechs
with the Poles, the Hungarians with the Czechs, the Rumanians with the
Hungarians, and all with Austria. The whole Empire is parcelled out into
quarrelling factions, with their rival tariffs, their passports and
their animosities. All free intercourse has stopped, all free
interchange of commodities has ceased. Each starves the other and is
starved by the other. 'I met a banker travelling from Buda-Pest to
Berlin by Vienna and Bavaria. I asked him why he went so far out of his
way to get to his goal, and he replied that it was easier to do that
than to get through the barbed-wire entanglements of Czecho-Slovakia.
There is great hunger in Bohemia, and it is due largely to the same
all-embracing cause. Formerly the Czech peasants used to go to Hungary
to gather the harvest and returned with corn as part payment. Now
intercourse has stopped, the Hungarian cornfields are without the
necessary labour, and the Czech peasant starves at home, or is fed by
the American Relief Fund. "One year of peace," said Herr Renner, the
Chancellor, to me, "has wrought more ruin than five years of war."'

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr Gardiner's final verdict[6] does not in essence differ from that of
Mr Hoover:--

     'It is the levity of mind which has plunged this great city into
     ruin that is inexplicable. The political dismemberment of Austria
     might be forgiven. That was repeatedly declared by the Allies not
     to be an object of the War; but the policy of the French, backed by
     the industrious propaganda of a mischievous newspaper group in this
     country, triumphed and the promise was dishonoured. Austria-Hungary
     was broken into political fragments. That might be defended as a
     political necessity. But the economic dismemberment was as
     gratuitous as it was deadly. It could have been provided against if
     ordinary foresight had been employed. Austria-Hungary was an
     economic unit, a single texture of the commercial, industrial, and
     financial interests.'[7]

We have talked readily enough in the past of this or that being a
'menace to civilisation.' The phrase has been applied indifferently to a
host of things from Prussian Militarism to the tango. No particular
meaning was attached to the phrase, and we did not believe that the
material security of our civilisation--the delivery of the letters and
the milk in the morning, and the regular running of the 'Tubes'--would
ever be endangered in our times.

But this is what has happened in a few months. We have seen one of the
greatest and most brilliant capitals of Europe, a city completely
untouched by the physical devastation of war, endowed beyond most with
the equipment of modern technical learning and industry, with some of
the greatest factories, medical schools and hospitals of our times,
unable to save its children from death by simple starvation--unable,
with all that equipment, to provide them each with a little milk and a
few ounces of flour every day.


_The Limits of Political Control_

It is sometimes suggested that as political factors (particularly the
drawing of frontiers) entered to some extent at least into the present
distribution of population, political forces can re-distribute that
population. But re-distribution would mean in fact killing.

So to re-direct the vast currents of European industry as to involve a
great re-distribution of the population would demand a period of time
so great that during the necessary stoppage of the economic process most
of the population concerned would be dead--even if we could imagine
sufficient stability to permit of these vast changes taking place
according to the naïve and what we now know to be fantastic, programme
of our Treaties. And since the political forces--as we shall see--are
extremely unstable, the new distribution would presumably again one day
undergo a similarly murderous modification.

That brings us to the question suggested in the proposition set out some
pages back, how far preponderant political power can ensure or compel
those processes by which a population in the position of that of these
islands lives.

For, as against much of the foregoing, it is sometimes urged that
Britain's concern in the Continental chaos is not really vital, because
while the British Isles cannot be self-sufficing, the British Empire can

During the War a very bold attempt was made to devise a scheme by which
political power should be used to force the economic development of the
world into certain national channels, a scheme whereby the military
power of the dominant group should be so used as to ensure it a
permanent preponderance of economic resources. The plan is supposed to
have emanated from Mr Hughes, the Prime Minister of Australia, and the
Allies (during Mr Asquith's Premiership incidentally) met in Paris for
its consideration. Mr Hughes's idea seems to have been to organise the
world into economic categories: the British Empire first in order of
mutual preference, the Allies next, the neutrals next, and the enemy
States last of all. Russia was, of course, included among the Allies,
America among the neutrals, the States then Austria-Hungary among the

One has only to imagine some such scheme having been voted and put into
operation, and the modifications which political changes would to-day
compel, to get an idea of merely the first of the difficulties of using
political and military power, with a basis of separate and competing
nationalisms, for economic purposes. The very nature of military
nationalism makes surrender of competition in favour of long continued
co-operation for common purposes, a moral impossibility. The foundations
of the power are unstable, the wills which determine its use

Yet military power must rest upon Alliance. Even the British Empire
found that its defence needed Allies. And if the British Empire is to be
self-sufficing, its trade canalised into channels drawn along certain
political lines, the preferences and prohibitions will create many
animosities. Are we to sacrifice our self-sufficiency for the sake of
American and French friendship, or risk losing the friendship by
preferences designed to ensure self-sufficiency? Yet to the extent that
our trade is with countries like North and South America we cannot
exercise on its behalf even the shadow of military coercion.

But that is only the beginning of the difficulty.

A suggestive fact is that ever since the population of these islands
became dependent upon overseas trade, that trade has been not mainly
with the Empire but with foreigners. It is to-day.[8] And if one
reflects for a moment upon the present political relationship of the
Imperial Government to Ireland, Egypt, India, South Africa, and the
tariff and immigration legislation that has marked the economic history
of Australia and Canada during the last twenty years, one will get some
idea of the difficulty which surrounds the employment of political power
for the shaping of an economic policy to subserve any large and
long-continued political end.

The difficulties of an imperial policy in this respect do not differ
much in character from the difficulties encountered in Paris. The
British Empire, too, has its problems of 'Balkanisation,' problems that
have arisen also from the anti-social element of 'absolute' nationalism.
The present Nationalist fermentation within the Empire reveals very
practical limits to the use of political power. We cannot compel the
purchase of British goods by Egyptian, Indian, or Irish Nationalists.
Moreover, an Indian or Egyptian boycott or Irish agitation, may well
deprive political domination of any possibility of economic advantage.
The readiness with which British opinion has accepted very large steps
towards the independence and evacuation of Egypt after having fiercely
resisted such a policy for a generation, would seem to suggest that some
part of the truth in this matter is receiving general recognition. It is
hardly less noteworthy that popular newspapers--that one could not have
imagined taking such a view at the time, say, of the Boer war--now
strenuously oppose further commitments in Mesopotamia and Persia--and do
so on financial grounds. And even where the relations of the Imperial
Government with States like Canada or Australia are of the most cordial
kind, the impotence of political power for exacting economic advantage
has become an axiom of imperial statecraft. The day that the Government
in London proposed to set in motion its army or navy for the purpose of
compelling Canada or Australia to cease the manufacture of cotton or
steel in order to give England a market, would be the day, as we are all
aware, of another Declaration of Independence. Any preference would be
the result of consent, agreement, debate, contract: not of coercion.

But the most striking demonstration yet afforded in history of the
limits placed by modern industrial conditions upon the economic
effectiveness of political power is afforded by the story of the attempt
to secure reparations, indemnity, and even coal from Germany, and the
attempt of the victors, like France, to repair the disastrous financial
situation which has followed war by the military seizure of the wealth
of a beaten enemy. That story is instructive both by reason of the light
which it throws upon the facts as to the economic value of military
power, and upon the attitude of public and statesmen towards these

When, some fifteen years ago, it was suggested that, given the
conditions of modern trade and industry, a victor would not in practice
be able to turn his military preponderance to economic account even in
such a relatively simple matter as the payment of an indemnity, the
suggestion was met with all but universal derision. European economists
of international reputation implied that an author who could make a
suggestion of that kind was just playing with paradox for the purpose of
notoriety. And as for newspaper criticism--it revealed the fact that in
the minds of the critics it was as simple a matter for an army to 'take'
a nation's wealth once military victory had been achieved, as it would
be for a big schoolboy to take an apple from a little one.

Incidentally, the history of the indemnity negotiations illuminates
extraordinarily the truth upon which the present writer happens so often
to have insisted, namely, that in dealing with the economics of
nationalism, one cannot dissociate from the problem the moral facts
which make the nationalism--without which there would be no
nationalisms, and therefore no 'international' economics.

A book by the present author published some fifteen years ago has a
chapter entitled 'The Indemnity Futility.' In the first edition the main
emphasis of the chapter was thrown on this suggestion: on the morrow of
a great war the victor would be in no temper to see the foreign trade of
his beaten enemy expand by leaps and bounds, yet by no other means than
by an immense foreign trade could a nation pay an indemnity commensurate
with the vast expenditure of modern war. The idea that it would be paid
in 'money,' which by some economic witchcraft should not involve the
export of goods, was declared to be a gross and ignorant fallacy. The
traders of the victorious nation would have to face a greatly sharpened
competition from the beaten nation; or the victor would have to go
without any very considerable indemnity. The chapter takes the ground
that an indemnity is not in terms of theoretical economics an
impossibility: it merely indicates the indispensable condition of
securing it--the revival of the enemy's economic strength--and suggests
that this would present for the victorious nation, not only a practical
difficulty of internal politics (the pressure of Protectionist groups)
but a grave political difficulty arising out of the theory upon which
defence by preponderant isolated national power is based. A country
possessing the economic strength to pay a vast indemnity is of potential
military strength. And this is a risk your nationalists will not accept.

Even friendly Free Trade critics shook their heads at this and implied
that the argument was a reversion to Protectionist illusions for the
purpose of making a case. That misunderstanding (for the argument does
not involve acceptance of Protectionist premises) seemed so general that
in subsequent editions of the book this particular passage was

It is not necessary now to labour the point, in view of all that has
happened in Paris. The dilemma suggested fifteen years ago is precisely
the dilemma which confronted the makers of the Peace Treaty; it is,
indeed, precisely the dilemma which confronts us to-day.

It applies not only to the Indemnity, Reparations, but to our entire
policy, to larger aspects of our relations with the enemy. Hence the
paralysis which results from the two mutually exclusive aims of the
Treaty of Versailles: the desire on the one hand to reduce the enemy's
strength by checking his economic vitality--and on the other to restore
the general productivity of Europe, to which the economic life of the
enemy is indispensable.

France found herself, at the end of the War, in a desperate financial
position and in dire need of all the help which could come from the
enemy towards the restoration of her devastated districts. She presented
demands for reparation running to vast, unprecedented sums. So be it.
Germany then was to be permitted to return to active and productive
work, to be permitted to have the iron and the other raw materials
necessary for the production of the agricultural machinery, the building
material and other sorts of goods France needed. Not the least in the
world! Germany was to produce this great mass of wealth, but her
factories were to remain closed, her rolling stock was to be taken from
her, she was to have neither food nor raw materials. This is not some
malicious travesty of the attitude which prevailed at the time that the
Treaty was made. It was, and to a large extent still is, the position
taken by many French publicists as well as by some in England. Mr.
Vanderlip, the American banker, describes in his book[10] the attitude
which he found in Paris during the Conference in these words: 'The
French burn to milk the cow but insist first that its throat must be

Despite the lessons of the year which followed the signing of the
Treaty, one may doubt whether even now the nature of wealth and 'money'
has come home to the Chauvinists of the Entente countries. The demand
that we should at one and the same time forbid Germany to sell so much
as a pen-knife in the markets of the world and yet compel her to pay us
a tribute which could only be paid by virtue of a foreign trade greater
than any which she has been able to maintain in the past--these mutually
exclusive demands are still made in our own Parliament and Press.

How powerfully the Nationalist fears operate to obscure the plain
alternatives is revealed in a letter of M. André Tardieu, written more
than eighteen months after the Armistice.

M. Tardieu, who was M. Clemenceau's political lieutenant in the framing
of the Treaty, and one of the principal inspirers of the French policy,
writing in July, 1920, long after the condition of Europe and the
Continent's economic dependence on Germany had become visible, 'warns'
us of the 'danger' that Germany may recover unless the Treaty is applied
in all its rigour! He says:--

     'Remember your own history and remember what the _rat de terre de
     cousin_ which Great Britain regarded with such disdain after the
     Treaty of Frankfurt became in less than forty years. We shall see
     Germany recover economically, profiting by the ruins she has made
     in other countries, with a rapidity which will astonish the world.
     When that day arrives, if we have given way at Spa to the madness
     of letting her off part of the debt that was born of her crime, no
     courses will be too strong for the Governments which allowed
     themselves to be duped. M. Clemenceau always said to British and
     American statesmen: "We of France understand Germany better than
     you." M. Clemenceau was right, and in bringing his colleagues round
     to his point of view he did good work for the welfare of humanity.
     If the work of last year is to be undone, the world will be
     delivered up to the economic hegemony of Germany before twenty-five
     years have passed. There could be no better proof than the recent
     despatches of _The Times_ correspondent in Germany, which bear
     witness to the fever of production which consumes Herr Stinnes and
     his like. Such evidence is stronger than the biased statistics of
     Mr Keynes. Those who refuse to take it into account will be the
     criminals in the eyes of their respective countries.'[11]

Note M. Tardieu's argument. He fears the restoration of Germany
industry, _unless_ we make her pay the whole indemnity. That is to say,
in other words, if we compel Germany to produce during the next
twenty-five years something like ten thousand millions worth of wealth
_over and above her own needs_, involving as it must a far greater
output from her factories, mines, shipyards, laboratories, a far greater
development of her railways, ports, canals, a far greater efficiency and
capacity in her workers than has ever been known in the past, if that
takes place as it must if we are to get an indemnity on the French
scale, why, in that case, there will be no risk of Germany's making too
great an economic recovery!

The English Press is not much better. It was in December, 1918, that
Professor Starling presented to the British Government his report
showing that unless Germany had more food she would be utterly unable to
pay any large indemnity to aid in reparations to France. Fully eighteen
months later we find the _Daily Mail_ (June 18, 1920) rampaging and
shouting itself hoarse at the monstrous discovery that the Government
have permitted Germans to purchase wheat! Yet the _Mail_ has been
foremost in insisting upon France's dire need for a German indemnity in
order to restore devastated districts. If the _Mail_ is really
representative of John Bull, then that person is at present in the
position of a farmer who at seed-time is made violently angry at the
suggestion that grain should be taken for the purpose of sowing the
land, and shouts that it is a wicked proposal to take food from the
mouths of his children. Although the Northcliffe Press has itself
published page advertisements (from the Save the Children Fund)
describing the incredible and appalling conditions in Europe, the _Daily
Mail_ shouts in its leading article: 'Is British Food to go to the
Boches?' The thing is in the best war style. 'Is there any reason why
the Briton should be starved to feed the German?' asks the _Mail_. And
there follows, of course, the usual invective about the submarines, war
criminals, the sinking of hospital ships, and the approval by the whole
German people of all these crimes.

We get here, as at every turn and twist of our policy, not any
recognition of interdependence, but a complete repudiation of that idea,
and an assumption, instead, of a conflict of interest. If the children
of Vienna or Berlin are to be fed, then it is assumed that it must be at
the expense of the children of Paris and London. The wealth of the world
is conceived as a fixed quantity, unaffected by any process of
co-operation between the peoples sharing the world. The idea is, of
course, an utter fallacy. French or Belgian children will have more, not
less, if we take measures to avoid European conditions in which the
children of Vienna are left to die. If, during the winter of 1919-1920,
French children died from sickness due to lack of fuel, it was because
the German coal was not delivered, and the German coal was not delivered
because, among other things, of general disorganization of transport, of
lack of rolling stock, of underfeeding of the miners, of collapse of the
currency, political unrest, uncertainty of the future.

It is one of the contradictions of the whole situation that France
herself gives intermittent recognition to the fact of this
interdependence. When, at Spa, it became evident that coal simply could
not be delivered in the quantities demanded unless Germany had some
means of buying imported food, France consented to what was in fact a
loan to Germany (to the immense mystification of certain journalistic
critics in Paris). One is prompted to ask what those who, before the War
so scornfully treated the present writer for throwing doubts upon the
feasibility of a post-war indemnity, would have said had he predicted
that on the morrow of victory, the victor, instead of collecting a vast
indemnity would from the simplest motives of self-protection, out of his
own direly depleted store of capital, be advancing money to the

The same inconsistency runs through much of our post-war behaviour. The
famine in Central Europe has become so appalling that very great sums
are collected in Britain and America for its relief. Yet the reduced
productivity out of which the famine has arisen was quite obviously
deliberately designed, and most elaborately planned by the economic
provisions of the Treaty and by the blockades prolonged after the
Armistice, for months in the case of Germany and years in the case of
Russia. And at the very time that advertisements were appearing in the
_Daily Mail_ for 'Help to Starving Europe,' and only a few weeks before
France consented to advance money for the purpose of feeding Germany,
that paper was working up 'anti-Hun stunts' for the purpose of using
our power to prevent any food whatsoever going to Boches. It is also a
duplication of the American phenomenon already touched upon: One Bill
before Congress for the loaning of American money to Europe in order
that cotton and wheat may find a market: another Bill before the same
Congress designed, by a stiffly increased tariff, to keep out European
goods so that the loans can never be repaid.[13]

The experience of France in the attempt to exact coal by the use of
military pressure throws a good deal of light upon what is really
annexed when a victor takes over territory containing, say, coal; as
also upon the question of getting the coal when it has been annexed. 'If
we need coal,' wrote a Paris journalist plaintively during the Spa
Conference, 'why in heaven's name don't we go and take it.' The
implication being that it could be 'taken' without payment, for nothing.
But even if France were to occupy the Ruhr and to administer the mines,
the plant would have to be put in order, rolling stock provided,
railroads restored, and, as France has already learned, miners fed and
clothed and housed. But that costs money--to be paid as part of the cost
of the coal. If Germany is compelled to provide those things--mining
machinery, rolling stock, rails, miners' houses and clothing and
food--we are confronted with pretty much the same dilemma as we
encounter in compelling the payment of an indemnity. A Germany that can
buy foreign food is a Germany of restored credit; a Germany that can
furnish rolling stock, rails, mining machinery, clothing and housing for
miners, is a Germany restored to general economic health--and
potentially powerful. That Germany France fears to create. And even
though we resort to a military occupation, using forced labour
militarily controlled, we are faced by the need of all the things that
must still enter in the getting of the coal, from miners' food and
houses to plant and steel rails. Their cost must be charged against the
coal obtained. And the amount of coal obtained in return for a given
outlay will depend very largely, as we know in England to our cost, upon
the willingness of the miner himself. Even the measure of resistance
provoked in British miners by disputes about workers' control and
Nationalisation, has meant a great falling off in output. But at least
they are working for their own countrymen. What would be their output if
they felt they were working for an enemy, and that every ton they mined
might merely result in increasing the ultimate demands which that enemy
would make upon their country? Should we get even eighty per cent, of
the pre-war output or anything like it?[14] Yet that diminished output
would have to stand the cost of all the permanent charges aforesaid.
Would the cost of the coal to France, under some scheme of forced
labour, be in the end less than if she were to buy it in the ordinary
commercial way from German mines, as she did before the War? This latter
method would almost certainly be in economic terms more advantageous.
Where is the economic advantage of the military method? This, of course,
is only the re-discovery of the old truth that forced or slave labour is
more costly than paid labour.

The ultimate explanation of the higher cost of slave labour is the
ultimate explanation of the difficulty of using political power for
economic ends, of basing our economic security upon military
predominance. Here is France, with her old enemy helpless and prostrate.
She needs his work for reparations, for indemnities, for coal. To
perform that work the prostrate enemy must get upon his feet. If he
does, France fears that he will knock her down. From that fear arise
contradictory policies, self-stultifying courses. If she overcomes her
fear sufficiently to allow the enemy to produce a certain amount of
wealth for her, it is extremely likely that more than the amount of that
wealth will have to be spent in protecting herself against the danger of
the enemy's recovered vitality. Even when wars were less expensive than
they are, indemnities were soon absorbed in the increase of armament
necessitated by the Treaties which exacted the indemnities.

Again, this is a very ancient story. The victor on the Egyptian vase has
his captured enemy on the end of a rope. We say that one is free, the
other bond. But as Spencer has shown us, both are bond. The victor is
tied to the vanquished: if he should let go the prisoner would escape.
The victor spends his time seeing that the prisoner does not escape; the
prisoner his time and energy trying to escape. The combined efforts in
consequence are not turned to the production of wealth; they are
'cancelled out' by being turned one against another. Both may come near
to starvation in that condition if much labour is needed to produce
food. Only if they strike a bargain and co-operate will they be in the
position each to turn his energy to the best economic account.

But though the story is ancient, men have not yet read it. These pages
are an attempt to show why it has not been read.

Let us summarise the conclusions so far reached, namely:--

     That predominant political and military power is important to exact
     wealth is shown by the inability of the Allies to turn their power
     to really profitable account; notably by the failure of France to
     alleviate her financial distress by adequate reparations--even
     adequate quantities of coal--from Germany; and by the failure of
     the Allied statesmen as a whole, wielding a concentration of power
     greater perhaps than any known in history to arrest an economic
     disintegration, which is not only the cause of famine and vast
     suffering, but is a menace to Allied interest, particularly to the
     economic security of Britain.

     The causes of this impotence are both mechanical and moral. If
     another is to render active service in the production of wealth for
     us--particularly services of any technical complexity in industry,
     finance, commerce--he must have strength for that activity,
     knowledge, and the instruments. But all those things can be turned
     against us as means of resistance to our coercion. To the degree
     to which we make him strong for our service we make him strong for
     resistance to our will. As resistance increases we are compelled to
     use an increasing proportion of what we obtain from him in
     protecting ourselves against him. Energies cancel each other,
     indemnities must be used in preparation for the next war. Only
     voluntary co-operation can save this waste and create an effective
     combination for the production of wealth that can be utilised for
     the preservation of life.


_The Ultimate Moral Factor_

The problem is not merely one of foreign politics or international
relationship. The passions which obscure the real nature of the process
by which men live are present in the industrial struggle also,
and--especially in the case of communities situated as is the
British--make of the national and international order one problem.

It is here suggested that:--

     Into the processes which maintain life within the nation an
     increasing measure of consent and acquiescence by all parties must
     enter: physical coercion becomes increasingly impotent to ensure
     them. The problem of declining production by (_inter alios_)
     miners, cannot be solved by increasing the army or police. The
     dictatorship of the proletariat fails before the problem of
     exacting big crops by the coercion of the peasant or countryman. It
     would fail still more disastrously before the problem of obtaining
     food or raw materials from foreigners (without which the British
     could not live) in the absence of a money of stable value.

One of the most suggestive facts of the post-war situation is that
European civilization almost breaks down before one of the simplest of
its mechanical problems: that of 'moving some stones from where they
are not needed to the places where they are needed,' in other words
before the problem of mining and distributing coal. Millions of children
have died in agony in France during this last year or two because there
was no coal to transport the food, to warm the buildings. Coal is the
first need of our massed populations. Its absence means collapse of
everything--of transport, of the getting of food to the towns, of
furnishing the machinery and fertilisers by which food can be produced
in sufficient quantity. It is warmth, it is clothing, it is light, it is
the daily newspaper, it is water, it is communication. All our
elaboration of knowledge and science fails in the presence of this
problem of 'taking some stones from one heap and putting them on
another.' The coal famine is a microcosm of the world's present failure.

But if all those things--and spiritual things also are involved because
the absence of material well-being means widespread moral evils--depend
upon coal, the getting of the coal itself is dependent upon them. We
have touched upon the importance of the one element of sheer goodwill on
the part of the miners as a factor in the production of coal; upon the
hopelessness of making good its absence by physical coercion. But we
have also seen that just as the attempted use of coercion in the
international field, though ineffective to exact necessary service or
exchange, can and does produce paralysis of the indispensable processes,
so the 'power' which the position of the miner gives him is a power of
paralysis only.

A later chapter shows that the instinct of industrial groups to solve
their difficulties by simple coercion, the sheer assertion of power, is
very closely related to the psychology of nationalism, so disruptive in
the international field. Bolshevism, in the sense of belief in the
effectiveness of coercion, represents the transfer of jingoism to the
industrial struggle. It involves the same fallacies. A mining strike can
bring the industrial machine to a full stop; to set that machine to work
for the feeding of the population--which involves the co-ordination of
a vast number of industries, the purchase of food and raw material from
foreigners, who will only surrender it in return for promises to pay
which they believe will be fulfilled--means not only technical
knowledge, it means also the presence of a certain predisposition to
co-operation. This Balkanised Europe which cannot feed itself has all
the technical knowledge that it ever had. But its natural units are
dominated by a certain temper which make impossible the co-operations by
which alone the knowledge can be applied to the available natural

It is also suggestive that the virtual abandonment of the gold standard
is playing much the same rôle (rendering visible the inefficiency of
coercion) in the struggle between the industrial that it is between the
national groups. A union strikes for higher wages and is successful. The
increase is granted--and is paid in paper money.

When wages were paid in gold an advance in wages, gained as the result
of strike or agitation, represented, temporarily at least, a real
victory for the workers. Prices might ultimately rise and wipe out the
advantage, but with a gold currency price movements have nothing like
the rapidity and range which is the case when unlimited paper money can
be printed. An advance in wages paid in paper may mean nothing more than
a mere readjustment of symbols. The advance, in other words, can be
cancelled by 'a morning's work of the inflationist' as a currency expert
has put it. The workers in these conditions can never know whether that
which they are granted with the right hand of increased wages will not
be taken away by the left hand of inflation.

In order to be certain that they are not simply tricked, the workers
must be in a position to control the conditions which determine the
value of currency. But again, that means the co-ordination of the most
complex economic processes, processes which can only be ensured by
bargaining with other groups and with foreign countries.

This problem would still present itself as acutely on the morrow of the
establishment of a British Soviet Republic as it presents itself to-day.
If the British Soviets could not buy food and raw materials in twenty
different centres throughout the world they could not feed the people.
We should be blockaded, not by ships, but by the worthlessness of our
money. Russia, which needs only an infinitesimal proportion relatively
of foreign imports has gold and the thing of absolutely universal need,
food. We have no gold--only things which a world fast disintegrating
into isolated peasantries is learning somehow to do without.

Before blaming the lack of 'social sense' on the part of striking miners
or railwaymen let us recall the fact that the temper and attitude to
life and the social difficulties which lie at the bottom of the
Syndicalist philosophy have been deliberately cultivated by Government,
Press, and Church, during five years for the purposes of war; and that
the selected ruling order have shown the same limitation of vision in
not one whit less degree.

Think what Versailles actually did and what it might have done.

Here when the Conference met, was a Europe on the edge of famine--some
of it over the edge. Every country in the world, including the
wealthiest and most powerful, like America, was faced with social
maladjustment in one form or another. In America it was an
inconvenience, but in the cities of a whole continent--in Russia,
Poland, Germany, Austria--it was shortly to mean ill-health, hunger,
misery, and agony to millions of children and their mothers. Terms of
the study like 'the interruption of economic processes' were to be
translated into such human terms as infantile cholera, tuberculosis,
typhus, hunger-oedema. These, as events proved, were to undermine the
social sanity of half a world.

The acutest statesmen that Europe can produce, endowed with the most
autocratic power, proceed to grapple with the situation. In what way do
they apply that power to the problem of production and distribution, of
adding to the world's total stock of goods, which nearly every
government in the world was in a few weeks to be proclaiming as
humanity's first need, the first condition of reconstruction and

The Treaty and the policy pursued since the Armistice towards Russia
tell us plainly enough. Not only do the political arrangements of the
Treaty, as we have seen, ignore the needs of maintaining the machinery
of production in Europe[15] but they positively discourage and in many
cases are obviously framed to prevent, production over very large areas.

The Treaty, as some one has said, deprived Germany of both the means and
the motive of production. No adequate provision was made for enabling
the import of food and raw materials, without which Germany could not
get to work on the scale demanded by the indemnity claims; and the
motive for industry was undermined by leaving the indemnity claims

The victor's passion, as we have seen, blinded him to the indispensable
condition of the very demands which he was making. Europe was unable
temperamentally to reconcile itself to the conditions of that increased
productivity, by which alone it was to be saved. It is this element in
the situation--its domination, that is, by an uncalculating popular
passion poured out lavishly in support of self-destructive
policies--which prompts one to doubt whether these disruptive forces
find their roots merely in the capitalist organization of society: still
less whether they are due to the conscious machinations of a small group
of capitalists. No considerable section of capitalism any where has any
interest in the degree of paralysis that has been produced. Capitalism
may have overreached itself by stimulating nationalist hostilities until
they have got beyond control. Even so, it is the unseeing popular
passion that furnishes the capitalist with his arm, and is the factor of
greatest danger.

Examine for a moment the economic manifestation of international
hostilities. There has just begun in the United States a clamorous
campaign for the denunciation of the Panama Treaty which places British
ships on an equality with American. American ships must be exempt from
the tolls. 'Don't we own the Canal?' ask the leaders of this campaign.
There is widespread response to it. But of the millions of Americans who
will become perhaps passionately angry over that matter and extremely
anti-British, how many have any shares in any ships that can possibly
benefit by the denunciation of the Treaty? Not one in a thousand. It is
not an economic motive operating at all.

Capitalism--the management of modern industry by a small economic
autocracy of owners of private capital--has certainly a part in the
conflicts that produce war. But that part does not arise from the direct
interest that the capitalists of one nation as a whole have in the
destruction of the trade or industry of another. Such a conclusion
ignores the most elementary facts in the modern organisation of
industry. And it is certainly not true to say that British capitalists,
as a distinct group, were more disposed than the public as a whole to
insist upon the Carthaginian features of the Treaty. Everything points
rather to the exact contrary. Public opinion as reflected, for instance,
by the December, 1918, election, was more ferociously anti-German than
capitalists are likely to have been. It is certainly not too much to say
that if the Treaty had been made by a group of British--or
French--bankers, merchants, shipowners, insurance men, and
industrialists, liberated from all fear of popular resentment, the
economic life of Central Europe would not have been crushed as it has

Assuredly, such a gathering of capitalists would have included groups
having direct interest in the destruction of German competition. But it
would also have included others having an interest in the restoration of
the German market and German credit, and one influence would in some
measure have cancelled the other.

As a simple fact we know that not all British capitalists, still less
British financiers, _are_ interested in the destruction of German
prosperity. Central Europe was one of the very greatest markets
available for British industry, and the recovery of that market may
constitute for a very large number of manufacturers, merchants,
shippers, insurance companies, and bankers, a source of immense
potential profit. It is a perfectly arguable proposition, to put it at
the very lowest, that British 'capitalism' has, as a whole, more to gain
from a productive and stable Europe than from a starving and unstable
one. There is no reason whatever to doubt the genuineness of the
internationalism that we associate with the Manchester School of
Capitalist Economics.

But in political nationalism as a force there are no such cross currents
cancelling out the hostility of one nation to another. Economically,
Britain is not one entity and Germany another. But as a sentimental
concept, each may perfectly well be an entity; and in the imagination of
John Citizen, in his political capacity, voting on the eve of the Peace
Conference, Britain is a triumphant and heroic 'person,' while Germany
is an evil and cruel 'person,' who must be punished, and whose pockets
must be searched. John has neither the time nor has he felt the need,
for a scientific attitude in politics. But when it is no longer a
question of giving his vote, but of earning his income, of succeeding as
a merchant or shipowner in an uncertain future, he will be thoroughly
scientific. When it comes to carrying cargoes or selling cotton goods,
he can face facts. And, in the past at least, he knows that he has not
sold those materials to a wicked person called 'Germany,' but to a
quite decent and human trader called Schmidt.

What I am suggesting here is that for an explanation of the passions
which have given us the Treaty of Versailles we must look much more to
rival nationalisms than to rival capitalisms; not to hatreds that are
the outgrowth of a real conflict of interests, but to certain
nationalist conceptions, 'myths,' as Sorel has it. To these conceptions
economic hostilities may assuredly attach themselves. At the height of
the war-hatred of things German, a shopkeeper who had the temerity to
expose German post cards or prints for sale would have risked the
sacking of his shop. The sackers would not have been persons engaged in
the post card producing trade. Their motive would have been patriotic.
If their feelings lasted over the war, they would vote against the
admission of German post cards. They would not be moved by economic,
still less by capitalistic motives. These motives do enter, as we shall
see presently, into the problems raised by the present condition of
Europe. But it is important to see at what point and in what way. The
point for the moment--and it has immense practical importance--is that
the Treaty of Versailles and its economic consequences should be
attributed less to capitalism (bad as that has come to be in its total
results) than to the pressure of a public opinion that had crystallised
round nationalist conceptions.[16]

Here, at the end of 1920, is the British Press still clamouring for the
exclusion of German toys. Such an agitation presumably pleases the
millions of readers. They are certainly not toymakers or sellers; they
have no commercial interest in the matter save that 'their toys will
cost them more' if the agitation succeeds. They are actuated by
nationalist hostility.

If Germany is not to be allowed to sell even toys, there will be very
few things indeed that she can sell. We are to go on with the policy of
throttling Europe in order that a nation whose industrial activity is
indispensable to Europe shall not become strong. We do not see, it is
true, the relation between the economic revival of Europe and the
industrial recuperation of Germany; we do not see it because we can be
made to feel anger at the idea of German toys for British children so
much more readily than we can be made to see the causes which deprive
French children of warmth in their schoolrooms. European society seems
to be in the position of an ill-disciplined child that cannot bring
itself to swallow the medicine that would relieve it of its pain. The
passions which have been cultivated in five years of war must be
indulged, whatever the ultimate cost to ourselves. The judgment of such
a society is swamped in those passions.

The restoration of much of Europe will involve many vast and complex
problems of reconstruction. But here, in the alternatives presented by
the payment of a German indemnity, for instance, is a very simple issue:
if Germany is to pay, she must produce goods, that is, she must be
economically restored; if we fear her economic restoration, then we
cannot obtain the execution of the reparation clauses of the Treaty. But
that simple issue one of the greatest figures of the Conference cannot
face. He has not, eighteen months after the Treaty, emerged from the
most elementary confusion concerning it. If the psychology of
Nationalism renders so simple a problem insoluble, what will be its
effect upon the problem of Europe as a whole?

Again, it may be that shipowners are behind the American agitation and
toy manufacturers behind the British. A Coffin Trust might intrigue
against measures to prevent a repetition of the influenza epidemic. But
what should we say of the fitness for self-government of a people that
should lend itself by millions to such an intrigue of Coffin-makers,
showing as the result of its propaganda a fierce hostility to
sanitation? We should conclude that it deserved to die. If Europe went
to war as the result of the intrigues of a dozen capitalists, its
civilisation is not worth saving; it cannot be saved, for as soon as the
capitalists were removed, its inherent helplessness would place it at
the mercy of some other form of exploitation.

Its only hope lies in a capacity for self-management, self-rule, which
means self-control. But a few financial intriguers, we are told, have
only to pronounce certain words, 'fatherland above all,' 'national
honour,' put about a few stories of atrocities, clamour for revenge, for
the millions to lose all self-control, to become completely blind as to
where they are going, what they are doing, to lose all sense of the
ultimate consequences of their acts.

The gravest fact in the history of the last ten years is not the fact of
war; it is the temper of mind, the blindness of conduct on the part of
the millions, which alone, ultimately, explains our policies. The
suffering and cost of war may well be the best choice of evils, like the
suffering and cost of surgery, or the burdens we assume for a clearly
conceived moral end. But what we have seen in recent history is not a
deliberate choice of ends with a consciousness of moral and material
cost. We see a whole nation demanding fiercely in one breath certain
things, and in the next just as angrily demanding other things which
make compliance with the first impossible; a whole nation or a whole
continent given over to an orgy of hate, retaliation, the indulgence of
self-destructive passions. And this collapse of the human mind does but
become the more appalling if we accept the explanation that 'wars are
caused by capitalism' or 'Junkerthum'; if we believe that six Jew
financiers sitting in a room can thus turn millions into something
resembling madmen. No indictment of human reason could be more severe.

To assume that millions will, without any real knowledge of why they do
it or of the purpose behind the behests they obey, not only take the
lives of others and give their own, but turn first in one direction and
then in another the flood of their deepest passions of hate and
vengeance, just as a little group of mean little men, manipulating mean
little interests, may direct, is to argue a moral helplessness and
shameful docility on the part of those millions which would deprive the
future of all hope of self-government. And to assume that they are _not_
unknowing as to the alleged cause--that would bring us to moral

We shall get nearer to the heart of our problem if, instead of asking
perpetually '_Who_ caused the War?' and indicting 'Capitalists' or
'Junkers,' we ask the question: 'What is the cause of that state of mind
and temper in the millions which made them on the one side welcome war
(as we allege of the German millions), or on the other side makes them
acclaim, or impose, blockades, famines,' 'punitive' 'Treaties of

Obviously 'selfishness' is not operating so far as the mass is
concerned, except of course in the sense that a yielding to the passion
of hate is self-indulgence. Selfishness, in the sense of care for social
security and well-being, might save the structure of European society.
It would bring the famine to an end. But we have what a French writer
has called a 'holy and unselfish hate.' Balkan peasants prefer to burn
their wheat rather than send it to the famished city across the river.
Popular English newspapers agitate against a German trade which is the
only hope of necessitous Allies obtaining any considerable reparation
from Germany. A society in which each member is more desirous of hurting
his neighbour than of promoting his own welfare, is one in which the
aggregate will to destruction is more powerful than the will to

The history of these last years shows with painful clarity that as
between groups of men hostilities and hates are aroused very much more
easily than any emotion of comradeship. And the hate is a hungrier and
more persistent emotion than the comradeship. The much proclaimed
fellowship of the Allies, 'cemented by the blood shed on the field,'
vanished rapidly. But hate remained and found expression in the social
struggle, in fierce repressions, in bickerings, fears, and rancours
between those who yesterday fought side by side. Yet the price of
survival is, as we have seen, an ever closer cohesion and social

And while it is undoubtedly true that the 'hunger of hate'--the actual
desire to have something to hate--may so warp our judgment as to make us
see a conflict of interest where none exists, it is also true that a
sense of conflict of vital interest is a great feeder of hate. And that
sense of conflict may well become keener as the problem of man's
struggle for sustenance on the earth becomes more acute, as his numbers
increase and the pressure upon that sustenance becomes greater.

Once more, as millions of children are born at our very doors into a
world that cannot feed them, condemned, if they live at all, to form a
race that will be defective, stunted, unhealthy, abnormal, this question
which Malthus very rightly taught our grandfathers to regard as the
final and ultimate question of their Political Economy, comes
dramatically into the foreground. How can the earth, which is limited,
find food for an increase of population which is unlimited?

The haunting anxieties which lie behind the failure to find a conclusive
answer to that question, probably affect political decisions and deepen
hostilities and animosities even where the reason is ill-formulated or
unconscious. Some of us, perhaps, fear to face the question lest we be
confronted with morally terrifying alternatives. Let posterity decide
its own problems. But such fears, and the motives prompted by them, do
not disappear by our refusal to face them. Though hidden, they still
live, and under various moral disguises influence our conduct.

Certainly the fears inspired by the Malthusian theory and the facts upon
which it is based, have affected our attitude to war; affected the
feeling of very many for whom war is not avowedly, as it is openly and
avowedly to some of its students, 'the Struggle for Bread.'[17]

_The Great Illusion_ was an attempt frankly to face this ultimate
question of the bearing of war upon man's struggle for survival. It took
the ground that the victory of one nation over another, however
complete, does not solve the problem; it makes it worse in that the
conditions and instincts which war accentuates express themselves in
nationalist and racial rivalries, create divisions that embarrass and
sometimes make impossible the widespread co-operation by which alone man
can effectively exploit nature.

That demonstration as a whole belongs to the pages that follow. But
bearing upon the narrower question of war in relation to the world's
good, this much is certain:--

If the object of the combatants in the War was to make sure of their
food, then indeed is the result in striking contrast with that
intention, for food is assuredly more insecure than ever alike for
victor and vanquished. They differ only in the degree of insecurity. The
War, the passions which it has nurtured, the political arrangements
which those passions have dictated, have given us a Europe immeasurably
less able to meet its sustenance problem than it was before. So much
less able that millions, who before the War could well support
themselves by their own labour, are now unable so to do and have to be
fed by drawing upon the slender stocks of their conquerors--stocks very
much less than when some at least of those conquerors were in the
position of defeated peoples.

This is not the effect of the material destruction of war, of the mere
battering down of houses and bridges and factories by the soldier.

The physical devastation, heart-breaking as the spectacle of it is, is
not the difficult part of the problem, nor quantitatively the most
important.[18] It is not the devastated districts that are suffering
from famine, nor their losses which appreciably diminish the world
supply of food. It is in cities in which not a house has been destroyed,
in which, indeed, every wheel in every factory is still intact, that the
population dies of hunger, and the children have to be fed by our
charity. It is the fields over which not a single soldier has tramped
that are condemned to sterility because those factories are idle, while
the factories are condemned to idleness because the fields are sterile.

The real 'economic argument' against war does not consist in the
presentation of a balance sheet showing so much cost and destruction and
so much gain. The real argument consists in the fact that war, and still
more the ideas out of which it arises, produce ultimately an unworkable
society. The physical destruction and perhaps the cost are greatly
exaggerated. It is perhaps true that in the material foundations of
wealth Britain is as well off to-day as before the War. It is not from
lack of technical knowledge that the economic machine works with such
friction: that has been considerably increased by the War. It is not
from lack of idealism and unselfishness. There has been during the last
five years such an outpouring of devoted unselfishness--the very hates
have been unselfish--as history cannot equal. Millions have given their
lives for the contrary ideals in which they believed. It is sometimes
the ideals for which men die that make impossible their life and work

The real 'economic argument,' supported by the experience of our
victory, is that the ideas which produce war--the fears out of which it
grows and the passions which it feeds--produce a state of mind that
ultimately renders impossible the co-operation by which alone wealth can
be produced and life maintained. The use of our power or our knowledge
for the purpose of subduing Nature to our service depends upon the
prevalence of certain ideas, ideas which underlie the 'art of living
together.' They are something apart from mere technical knowledge which
war, as in Germany, may increase, but which can never be a substitute
for this 'art of living together.' (The arms, indeed, may be the
instruments of anarchy, as in so much of Europe to-day).

The War has left us a defective or perverted social sense, with a group
of instincts and moralities that are disintegrating Western society, and
will, unless checked, destroy it.

These forces, like the 'ultimate art' which they have so nearly
destroyed, are part of the problem of economics. For they render a
production of wealth adequate to welfare impossible. How have they
arisen? How can they be corrected? These questions will form an integral
part of the problems here dealt with.



This chapter suggests the following:--

       *       *       *       *       *

The trans-national processes which enabled Europe to support itself
before the War, were based mainly on private exchanges prompted by the
expectation of individual advantage. They were not dependent upon
political power. (The fifteen millions for whom German soil could not
provide, lived by trade with countries over which Germany had no
political control, as a similar number of British live by similar
non-political means.)

The old individualist economy has been largely destroyed by the State
Socialism introduced for war purposes; the Nation, taking over
individual enterprise, became trader and manufacturer in increasing
degree. The economic clauses of the Treaty, if enforced, must prolong
this tendency, rendering a large measure of such Socialism permanent.

The change may be desirable. But if co-operation must in future be less
as between individuals for private advantage, and much more as between
_nations_, Governments acting in an economic capacity, the political
emotions of nationalism will play a much larger rôle in the economic
processes of Europe. If to Nationalist hostilities as we have known them
in the past, is to be added the commercial rivalry of nations now
converted into traders and capitalists, we are likely to have not a less
but more quarrelsome world, unless the fact of interdependence is much
more vividly realised than in the past.

The facts of the preceding chapter touching the economic chaos in
Europe, the famine, the debauchery of the currencies, the collapse of
credit, the failure to secure indemnities, and particularly the remedies
of an international kind to which we are now being forced, all confirm
what had indeed become pretty evident before the War, namely, that much
of Europe lives by virtue of an international, or, more correctly, a
transnational economy. That is to say, there are large populations that
cannot live at much above a coolie standard unless there is a
considerable measure of economic co-operation across frontiers. The
industrial countries, like Britain and Germany, can support their
populations only by exchanging their special products and
services--particularly coal, iron, manufactures, ocean carriage--for
food and raw materials; while more agricultural countries like Italy and
even Russia, can maintain their full food-producing capacity only by an
apparatus of railways, agricultural machinery, imported coal and
fertilisers, to which the industry of the manufacturing area is

That necessary international co-operation had, as a matter of fact, been
largely developed before the War. The cheapening of transport, the
improvement of communication, had pushed the international division of
labour very far indeed. The material in a single bale of clothes would
travel half round the world several times, and receive the labour of
half a dozen nationalities, before finally reaching its consumer. But
there was this very significant fact about the whole process;
Governments had very little to do with it, and the process did not rest
upon any clearly defined body of commercial right, defined in a regular
code or law. One of the greatest of all British industries, cotton
spinning, depended upon access to raw material under the complete
control of a foreign State, America. (The blockade of the South in the
War of Secession proved how absolute was the dependence of a main
British industry upon the political decisions of a foreign Government).
The mass of contradictory uncertainties relating to rights of neutral
trade in war-time, known as International Law, furnished no basis of
security at all. It did not even pretend to touch the source--the right
of access to the material itself.

That right, and the international economy that had become so
indispensable to the maintenance of so much of the population of Western
Europe, rested upon the expectation that the private owner of raw
materials--the grower of wheat or cotton, or the owner of iron ore or
coal-mines--would continue to desire to sell those things, would always,
indeed, be compelled so to do, in order to turn them to account. The
main aim of the Industrial Era was markets--to sell things. One heard of
'economic invasions' before the War. This did not mean that the invader
took things, but that he brought them--for sale. The modern industrial
nation did not fear the loss of commodities. What it feared was their
receipt. And the aid of Governments was mainly invoked, not for the
purpose of preventing things leaving the country, but for the purpose of
putting obstacles in the way of foreigners bringing commodities into the
country. Nearly every country had 'Protection' against foreign goods.
Very rarely did we find countries fearing to lose their goods and
putting on export duties. Incidentally such duties are forbidden by the
American Constitution.

Before the War it would have seemed a work of supererogation to frame
international regulations to protect the right to buy: all were
searching for buyers. In an economic world which revolved on the
expectation of individual profit, the competition for profit kept open
the resources of the world.

Under that system it did not matter much, economically, what political
administration--provided always that it was an orderly one--covered the
area in which raw materials were found, or even controlled ports and
access to the sea. It was in no way indispensable to British industry
that its most necessary raw material--cotton, say--should be under its
own control. That industry had developed while the sources of the
material were in a foreign State. Lancashire did not need to 'own'
Louisiana. If England had 'owned' Louisiana, British cotton-spinners
would still have had to pay for the cotton as before. When a writer
declared before the War that Germany dreamed of the conquest of Canada
because she needed its wheat wherewith to feed her people, he certainly
overlooked the fact that Germany could have had the wheat of Canada on
the same conditions as the British who 'owned' the country--and who
certainly could not get it without paying for it.

It was true before the War to write:--

     'Co-operation between nations has become essential for the very
     life of their peoples. But that co-operation does not take place as
     between States at all. A trading corporation called "Britain" does
     not buy cotton from another corporation called "America." A
     manufacturer in Manchester strikes a bargain with a merchant in
     Louisiana in order to keep a bargain with a dyer in Germany, and
     three, or a much larger number of parties, enter into virtual, or
     perhaps actual, contract, and form a mutually dependent economic
     community (numbering, it may be, with the work-people in the group
     of industries involved, some millions of individuals)--an economic
     entity so far as one can exist which does not include all organised
     society. The special interests of such a community may become
     hostile to those of another community, but it will almost certainly
     not be a "national" one, but one of a like nature, say a shipping
     ring or groups of international bankers or Stock Exchange
     speculators. The frontiers of such communities do not coincide with
     the areas in which operate the functions of the State. How could a
     State, say Britain, act on behalf of an economic entity such as
     that just indicated? By pressure against America or Germany? But
     the community against which the British manufacturer in this case
     wants pressure exercised is not "America" or "Germany"--both want
     it exercised against the shipping ring or the speculators or the
     bankers who in part are British. If Britain injures America or
     Germany as a whole, she injures necessarily the economic entity
     which it was her object to protect.'[19]

This line of reasoning is no longer valid, for it was based upon a
system of economic individualism, upon a distinction between the
functions proper to the State and those proper to the citizen. This
individualist system has been profoundly transformed in the direction of
national control by the measures adopted everywhere for the purposes of
war; a transformation that the confiscatory clauses of the Treaty and
the arrangements for the payment of the indemnity help to render
permanent. While the old understanding or convention has been
destroyed--or its disappearance very greatly accelerated--by the Allies,
no new one has so far been established to take its place. To that fact
we must ascribe much of the economic paralysis that has come upon the

I am aware, of course, that the passage I have quoted did not tell the
whole story; that already before the War the power of the political
State was being more and more used by 'big business'; that in China,
Mexico, Central America, the Near East, Morocco, Persia, Mesopotamia,
wherever there was undeveloped _and disorderly_ territory, private
enterprise was exercising pressure upon the State to use its power to
ensure sources of raw material or areas for the investment of capital.
That phase of the question is dealt with at greater length
elsewhere.[20] But the actual (whatever the potential) economic
importance of the territory about which the nations quarrelled was as
yet, in 1914, small; the part taken by Governments in the control and
direction of international trade was negligible. Europe lived by
processes that went on without serious obstacle across frontiers. Little
States, for instance, without Colonies (Scandinavia, Switzerland) not
only maintained a standard of living for their people quite as high as
that in the great States, but maintained it moreover by virtue of a
foreign trade relatively as considerable. And the forces which preserved
the international understanding by which that trade was carried on were
obviously great.

It was not true, before the War, to say that Germany had to expand her
frontiers to feed her population. It is true that with her, as with us,
her soil did not produce the food needed for the populations living on
it; as with us, about fifteen millions were being fed by means of trade
with territories which politically she did not 'own,' and did not need
to 'own'--with Russia, with South America, with Asia, with our own
Colonies. Like us Germany was turning her coal and iron into bread. The
process could have gone on almost indefinitely, so long as the coal and
iron lasted, as the tendency to territorial division of labour was being
intensified by the development of transport and invention. (The pressure
of the population on the food resources of these islands was possibly
greater under the Heptarchy than at present, when they support
forty-five millions.) Under the old economic order conquest meant, not a
transfer of wealth from one set of persons to another--for the soil of
Alsace, for instance, remained in the hands of those who had owned it
under France--but a change of administration. The change may have been
as unwarrantable and oppressive as you will, but it did not involve
economic strangulation of the conquered peoples or any very fundamental
economic change at all. French economic life did not wither as the
result of the changes of frontier in 1872, and French factories were not
shut off from raw material, French cities were not stricken with
starvation as the result of France's defeat. Her economic and financial
recovery was extraordinarily rapid; her financial position a year or two
after the War was sounder than that of Germany. It seemed, therefore,
that if Germany, of all nations, and Bismarck, of all statesmen, could
thus respect the convention which after war secured the immunity of
private trade and property, it must indeed be deeply rooted in
international comity.

Indeed, the 'trans-national' economic activities of individuals, which
had ensued so widespread an international economy, and the principle of
the immunity of private property from seizure after conquest, had become
so firmly rooted in international relationship as to survive all the
changes of war and conquest. They were based on a principle that had
received recognition in English Treaties dating back to the time of
Magna Carta, and that had gradually become a convention of international

At Versailles the Germans pointed out that their country was certainly
not left with resources to feed its population. The Allies replied to
that, not by denying the fact--to which their own advisers, like Mr
Hoover, have indeed pointedly called attention--but as follows:--

     'It would appear to be a fundamental fallacy that the political
     control of a country is essential in order to procure a reasonable
     share of its products. Such a proposal finds no foundation in
     economic law or history.'[21]

In making their reply the Allies seemed momentarily to have overlooked
one fact--their own handiwork in the Treaty.

Before the War it would have been a true reply. But the Allies have
transformed what were, before the War, dangerous fallacies into
monstrous truths.

President Wilson has described the position of Germany under the Treaty
in these terms:--

     'The Treaty of Peace sets up a great Commission, known as the
     Reparations Commission.... That Reparation Commission can
     determine the currents of trade, the conditions of credit, of
     international credit; it can determine how much Germany is going to
     buy, where it is going to buy, and how it is going to pay for

In other words, it is no longer open to Germany, as the result of
guarantees of free movement accorded to individual traders, to carry on
that process by which before the War she supported herself. Individual
Germans cannot now, as heretofore, get raw materials by dealing with
foreign individuals, without reference to their nationality. Germans are
now, in fact, placed in the position of having to deal through their
State, which in turn deals with other States. To buy wheat or iron, they
cannot as heretofore go to individuals, to the grower or mine-owner, and
offer a price; the thing has to be done through Governments. We have
come much nearer to a condition in which the States do indeed 'own'
(they certainly control) their raw material.

The most striking instance is that of access to the Lorraine iron, which
before the War furnished three-fourths of the raw material of Germany's
basic industry. Under the individualist system, in which 'the buyer is
king' in which efforts were mainly directed to finding markets, no
obstacle was placed on the export of iron (except, indeed, the obstacle
to the acquisition by French citizens of Lorraine iron set up by the
French Government in the imposition of tariffs). But under the new
order, with the French State assuming such enormously increased economic
functions, the destination of the iron will be determined by political
considerations. And 'political considerations,' in an order of
international society in which the security of the nation depends, not
upon the collective strength of the whole society, but upon its relative
strength as against rival units, mean the deliberate weakening of
rivals. Thus, no longer will the desire of private owners to find a
market for their wares be a guarantee of the free access of citizens in
other States to those materials. In place of a play of factors which
did, however clumsily, ensure in practice general access to raw
materials, we have a new order of motives; the deliberate desire of
States, competing in power, owning great sources of raw material, to
deprive rival States of the use of them.

That the refusal of access will not add to the welfare of the people of
the State that so owns these materials, that, indeed, it will inevitably
lower the standard of living in all States alike, is certainly true. But
so long as there is no real international society organised on the basis
of collective strength and co-operation, the motive of security will
override considerations of welfare. The condition of international
anarchy makes true what otherwise need not be true, that the vital
interests of nations are conflicting.

Parenthetically, it is necessary to say this: the time may have come for
the destruction of the older order. If the individualist order was that
which gave us Armageddon, and still more, the type of mind which
Armageddon and the succeeding 'peace' revealed, then the present writer,
for one, sheds no tears over its destruction. In any case, a discussion
of the intrinsic merits, social and moral, of socialism and
individualism respectively, would to-day be quite academic. For those
who profess to stand for individualism are the most active agents of its
destruction. The Conservative Nationalists, who oppose the socialisation
of wealth and yet advocate the conscription of life; oppose
Nationalisation, yet demand the utmost military preparedness in an age
when effective preparation for war means the mobilisation particularly
of the nation's industrial resources; resent the growing authority of
the State, yet insist that the power of the National State shall be such
as to give it everywhere domination; do, indeed, demand omelets without
eggs, and bricks not only without straw but without clay.

A Europe of competing military nationalisms means a Europe in which the
individual and all his activities must more and more be merged in his
State for the purpose of that competition. The process is necessarily
one of progressively intense socialisation; and the war measures carried
it to very great lengths indeed. Moreover, the point to which our
attention just now should be directed, is the difference which
distinguishes the process of change within the State from that which
marks the change in the international field. Within the State the old
method is automatically replaced by the new (indeed nationalisation is
mostly the means by which the old individualism is brought to an end);
between nations, on the other hand, no organised socialistic
internationalism replaces the old method which is destroyed. The world
is left without any settled international economy.

Let us note the process of destruction of the old economy.

In July, 1914, the advocacy of economic nationalisation or Socialism
would have been met with elaborate arguments from perhaps nine average
Englishmen out of ten, to the effect that control or management of
industries and services by the Government was impossible, by reason of
the sheer inefficiency which marks Governmental work. Then comes the
War, and an efficient railway service and the co-ordination of industry
and finance to national ends becomes a matter of life and death. In this
grave emergency, what policy does this same average Englishman, who has
argued so elaborately against State control, and the possibility of
governments ever administering public services, pursue? Almost as a
matter of course, as the one thing to be done, he clamours for the
railways and other public services to be taken over by the Government,
and for the State to control the industry, trade, and finance of the

Now it may well be that the Socialist would deny that the system which
obtained during the War was Socialism, and would say that it came nearer
to being State Capitalism than State Socialism; the individualist may
argue that the methods would never be tolerated as a normal method of
national life. But when all allowances are made the fact remains that
when our need was greatest we resorted to the very system which we had
always declared to be the worst from the point of view of efficiency. As
Sir Leo Chiozza Money, in sketching the history of this change, which he
has called 'The Triumph of Nationalisation,' says: 'The nation won
through the unprecedented economic difficulties of the greatest War in
history by methods which it had despised. National organisation
triumphed in a land where it had been denied.' In this sense the England
of 1914-1920 was a Socialist England; and it was a Socialist England by
common consent.

This fact has an effect on the moral outlook not generally realised.

For very many, as the War went on and increasing sacrifices of life and
youth were demanded, new light was thrown upon the relations of the
individual to the State. A whole generation of young Englishmen were
suddenly confronted with the fact that their lives did not belong to
themselves, that each owed his life to the State. But if each must give,
or at least risk, everything that he possessed, even life itself, were
others giving or risking what they possessed? Here was new light on the
institution of private property. If the life of each belongs to the
community, then assuredly does his property. The Communist State which
says to the citizen, 'You must work and surrender your private property
or you will have no vote,' asks, after all, somewhat less than the
_bourgeois_ Military State which says to the conscript, 'Fight and give
your person to the State or we will kill you.' For great masses of the
British working-classes conscription has answered the ethical problem
involved in the confiscation of capital. The Eighth Commandment no
longer stands in the way, as it stood so long in the case of a people
still religiously minded and still feeling the weight of Puritan

Moreover, the War showed that the communal organisation of industry
could be made to work. It could 'deliver the goods' if those goods
were, say, munitions. And if it could work for the purposes of war, why
not for those of peace? The War showed that by co-ordinated and
centralised action the whole economic structure can without disaster be
altered to a degree that before the War no economist would have supposed
possible. We witnessed the economic miracle mentioned in the last
chapter, but worth recalling here. Suppose before the War you had
collected into one room all the great capitalist economists in England,
and had said to them: 'During the next few years you will withdraw from
normal production five or six millions of the best workers. The mere
residue of the workers will be able to feed, clothe, and generally
maintain those five or six millions, themselves, and the country at
large, at a standard of living on the whole as high, if not higher, than
that to which the people were accustomed before those five or six
million workers were withdrawn.' If you had said that to those
capitalist economists, there would not have been one who would have
admitted the possibility of the thing, or regarded the forecast as
anything but rubbish.

Yet that economic miracle has been performed, and it has been performed
thanks to Nationalisation and Socialism, and could not have been
performed otherwise.

However, one may qualify in certain points this summary of the
outstanding economic facts of the War, it is impossible to exaggerate
the extent to which the revelation of economic possibilities has
influenced working-class opinion.

To the effect of this on the minds of the more intelligent workers, we
have to add another psychological effect, a certain recklessness,
inseparable from the conditions of war, reflected in the workers'
attitude towards social reform.

Perhaps a further factor in the tendency towards Communism is the
habituation to confiscation which currency inflation involves. Under the
influence of war contrivances States have learned to pay their debts in
paper not equivalent in value to the gold in which the loan was made:
whole classes of bondholders have thus been deprived of anything from
one-half to two-thirds of the value of their property. It is
confiscation in its most indiscriminate and sometimes most cruel form.
_Bourgeois_ society has accepted it. A socialistic society of to-morrow
may be tempted to find funds for its social experiments in somewhat the
same way.

Whatever weight we may attach to some of these factors, this much is
certain: not only war, but preparation for war, means, to a much greater
degree than it has ever meant before, mobilisation of the whole
resources of the country--men, women, industry. This form of
'nationalisation' cannot go on for years and not affect the permanent
form of the society subjected to it. It has affected it very deeply. It
has involved a change in the position of private property and individual
enterprise that since the War has created a new cleavage in the West.
The future of private property which was before the War a theoretical
speculation, has become within a year or two, and especially, perhaps,
since the Bolshevist Revolution in Russia, a dominating issue in
European social and political development. It has subjected European
society to a new strain. The wearing down of the distinction between the
citizen and the State, and the inroads upon the sacro-sanctity of
private property and individual enterprise, make each citizen much more
dependent upon his State, much more a part of it. Control of foreign
trade so largely by the State has made international trade less a matter
of processes maintained by individuals who disregarded their
nationality, and more a matter of arrangement between States, in which
the non-political individual activity tends to disappear. We have here a
group of forces which has achieved a revolution, a revolution in the
relationship of the individual European to the European State, and of
the States to one another.

The socialising and communist tendencies set up by measures of
industrial mobilisation for the purposes of the War, have been carried
forward in another sphere by the economic terms of the Treaty of
Versailles. These latter, if even partly carried into effect, will mean
in very large degree the compulsory socialisation, even communisation,
of the enemy States. Not only the country's foreign trade, but much of
its internal industry must be taken out of the hands of private traders
or manufacturers. The provisions of the Treaty assuredly help to destroy
the process upon which the old economic order in Europe rested.

Let the reader ask himself what is likely to be the influence upon the
institution of private property and private commerce of a Treaty
world-wide in its operation, which will take a generation to carry out,
which may well be used as a precedent for future settlements between
States (settlements which may include very great politico-economic
changes in the position of Egypt, Ireland, and India), and of which the
chief economic provisions are as follows:--

     'It deprives Germany of nearly the whole of her overseas marine. It
     banishes German sovereignty and economic influence from all her
     overseas possessions, and sequestrates the private property of
     Germans in those places, in Alsace-Lorraine, and in all countries
     within Allied jurisdiction. It puts at the disposal of the Allies
     all German financial rights and interests, both in the countries of
     her former Allies and in the States and territories which have been
     formed out of them. It gives the Reparations Commission power to
     put its finger on any great business or property in Germany and to
     demand its surrender. Outside her own frontiers Germany can be
     stripped of everything she possesses, and inside them, until an
     impossible indemnity has been paid to the last farthing, she can
     truly call nothing her own.

     'The Treaty inflicts on an Empire built up on coal and iron the
     loss of about one-third cf her coal supplies, with such a heavy
     drain on the scanty remainder as to leave her with an annual supply
     of only 60 million tons, as against the pre-war production of over
     190 million tons, and the loss of over three-quarters of her iron
     ore. It deprives her of all effective control over her own system
     of transport; it takes the river system of Germany out of German
     hands, so that on every International Committee dealing with German
     waters, Germans are placed in a clear minority. It is as though the
     Powers of Central Europe were placed in a majority on the Thames
     Conservancy or the Port of London Authority. Finally, it forces
     Germany for a period of years to concede "most favoured nation"
     treatment to the Allies, while she receives no such reciprocal
     favour in return.'

This wholesale confiscation of private property[23] is to take place
without the Allies affording any compensation to the individuals
expropriated, and the proceeds will be employed, first, to meet private
debts due to Allied nationals from any German nationals, and, second, to
meet claims due from Austrian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, or Turkish
nationals. Any balance may either be returned by the liquidating power
direct to Germany, or retained by them. If retained, the proceeds must
be transferred to the Reparations Commission for Germany's credit in
the Reparations account. Note, moreover, how the identification of a
citizen with his State is carried forward by the discrimination made
against Germans in overseas trade. Heretofore there were whole spheres
of international trade and industrial activity in which the individual's
nationality mattered very little. It was a point in favour of individual
effort, and, incidentally, of international peace. Under the Treaty,
whereas the property of Allied nationals within German jurisdiction
reverts to Allied ownership on the conclusion of peace, the property of
Germans within Allied jurisdiction is to be retained and liquidated as
described above, with the result that the whole of German property over
a large part of the world can be expropriated, and the large properties
now within the custody of Public Trustees and similar officials in the
Allied countries may be retained permanently. In the second place, such
German assets are chargeable, not only with the liabilities of Germans,
but also, if they run to it, with 'payment of the amounts due in respect
of claims by the nationals of such Allied or Associated Power with
regard to their property, rights, and interests in the territory of
other Enemy Powers,' as, for example, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Austria.
This is a remarkable provision, which is naturally non-reciprocal. In
the third place, any final balance due to Germany on private account
need not be paid over, but can be held against the various liabilities
of the German Government.[24] The effective operation of these articles
is guaranteed by the delivery of deeds, titles, and information.

It will be noted how completely the Treaty returns to the Tribal
conception of a collective responsibility, and how it wipes away the
distinction heretofore made in International Law, between the civilian
citizen and the belligerent Government. An Austrian who has lived and
worked in England or China or Egypt all his life, and is married to an
English woman and has children who do not speak a word of German, who is
no more responsible for the invasion of Belgium than an Icelander or a
Chinaman, finds that the savings of his lifetime left here in the faith
of British security, are confiscated under the Treaty in order to
satisfy the claims of France or Japan. And, be it noted, whenever
attention is directed to what the defenders of the Treaty like to call
its 'sternness' (as when it deprives Englishborn women and their
children of their property) we are invited to repress our misgiving on
that score in order to contemplate the beauty of its 'justice,' and to
admire the inexorable accuracy with which reward and punishment are
distributed. It is the standing retort to critics of the Treaty: they
forget its 'justice.'[25]

How far this new tendency is likely to go towards a reassertion of the
false doctrine of the complete submergence of the individual in the
State, the erection of the 'God-State' which at the beginning we
declared to be the main moral cause of the War and set out to destroy,
will be discussed later. The point for the moment is that the
enforcement of this part of the Treaty, like other parts, will go to
swell communistic tendencies. It will be the business of the German
State to maintain the miners who are to deliver the coal under the
Treaty, the workers in the shipyards who are to deliver the yearly toll
of ships. The intricate and elaborate arrangements for 'searching
Germany's pockets' for the purpose of the indemnity mean the very
strictest Governmental control of private trade in Germany, in many
spheres its virtual abolition. All must be done through the Government
in order that the conditions of the Treaty may be fulfilled. Foreign
trade will be no longer the individual enterprise of private citizens.
It will, by the order of the Allies, be a rigidly controlled
Governmental function, as President Wilson reminded us in the passage
quoted above.

To a lesser degree the same will be true of the countries receiving the
indemnity. Mr. Lloyd George promises that it will not be paid in cheap
goods, or in such a way as to damage home industries. But it must be
paid in some goods: ships, dyes, or (as some suggest) raw materials.
Their distribution to private industry, the price that these industries
shall pay, must be arranged by the receiving Government. This inevitably
means a prolongation of the State's intervention in the processes of
private trade and industry. Nor is it merely the disposal of the
indemnity in kind which will compel each Allied Government to continue
to intervene in the trade and industry of its citizens. The fact that
the Reparations Commission is, in effect, to allocate the amount of ore,
cotton, shipping, Germany is to get, to distribute the ships and coal
which she may deliver, means the establishment of something resembling
international rationing. The Governments will, in increasing degree,
determine the amount and direction of trade.

The more thoroughly we 'make Germany pay,' the more State-controlled do
we compel her (and only to a lesser extent ourselves) to become. We
should probably regard a standard of life in Germany very definitely
below that of the rest of Western Europe, as poetic justice. But it
would inevitably set up forces, both psychological and economic, that
make not only for State-control--either State Socialism or State
Capitalism--but for Communism.

Suppose we did our work so thoroughly that we took absolutely all
Germany could produce over and above what was necessary for the
maintenance of the physical efficiency of her population. That would
compel her to organise herself increasingly on the basis of equality of
income: no one, that is, going above the line of physical efficiency and
no one falling below it.

Thus, while British, French, and American anti-socialists are declaring
that the principle enunciated by the Russian Government, that all trade
must be through the Soviet, is one which will prove most mischievous in
its example, it is precisely that principle which increasingly, if the
Treaty is enforced, they will in fact impose upon a great country,
highly organised, of great bureaucratic efficiency, far more likely by
its training and character to make the principle a success.

This tendency may be in the right direction or the wrong one. The point
is that no provision has been made to meet the condition which the
change creates. The old system permitted the world to work under
well-defined principles. The new regimen, because it has not provided
for the consequences of the changes it has provoked, condemns a great
part of Europe to economic paralysis which must end in bitter anarchic
struggles unless the crisis is anticipated by constructive

Meantime the continued coercion of Germany will demand on the part of
the Western democracies a permanent maintenance of the machine of war,
and so a perpetuation of the tendency, in the way already described,
towards a militarised Nationalisation.

The resultant 'Socialism' will assuredly not be of the type that most
Socialists (among whom, incidentally, the present writer counts himself)
would welcome. But it will not necessarily be for that reason any less
fatal to the workable transnational individualism.

Moreover, military nationalisation presupposes international conflict,
if not perpetually recurrent war; presupposes, that is, first, an
inability to organise a stable international economy indispensable to a
full life for Europe's population; and, secondly, an increasing
destructiveness in warfare--self-destruction in terms of European
Society as a whole. 'Efficiency' in such a society would be efficiency
in suicide.



The change noted in the preceding chapter raises certain profound
questions of Right. These may be indicated as follows:--

       *       *       *       *       *

By our political power we _can_ create a Europe which, while not
assuring advantage to the victor, deprives the vanquished of means of
existence. The loss of both ore and coal by the Central Powers might
well make it impossible for their future populations to find food. What
are they to do? Starve? To disclaim responsibility is to claim that we
are entitled to use our power to deny them life.

This 'right' to starve foreigners can only be invoked by invoking the
concept of nationalism. 'Our nation first.' But the policy of placing
life itself upon a foundation of preponderant force instead of mutually
advantageous co-operation, compels statesmen perpetually to betray the
principle of nationality; not only directly (as in the case of the
annexation of territory, economically necessary, but containing peoples
of alien nationality), but indirectly; for the resistance which our
policy (of denying means of subsistence to others) provokes, makes
preponderance of power the condition of survival. All else must give way
to that need.

Might cannot be pledged to Right in these conditions. If our power is
pledged to Allies for the purposes of the Balance (which means, in fact,
preponderance), it cannot be used against them to enforce respect for
(say) nationality. To turn against Allies would break the Balance. To
maintain the Balance of Power we are compelled to disregard the moral
merits of an Ally's policy (as in the case of the promise to the Czar's
Government not to demand the independence of Poland). The maintenance of
a Balance (_i.e._ preponderance) is incompatible with the maintenance of
Right. There is a conflict of obligation.

Before the War, a writer in the _National Review_, desiring to show the
impossibility of obviating war by any international agreement, took the
example of the conflict with Germany and put the case as follows:--

     'Germany _must_ go to war. Every year an extra million babies are
     crying out for more room, and as the expansion of Germany by
     peaceful means seems impossible, Germany can only provide for those
     babies at the cost of potential foes.

     'This ... it cannot be too often repeated, is not mere envious
     greed, but stern necessity. The same struggle for life and space
     which more than a thousand years ago drove one Teutonic wave after
     another across the Rhine and the Alps, is now once more a great
     compelling force.... This aspect of the case may be all very sad
     and very wicked, but it is true.... Herein lies the ceaseless and
     ruinous struggle for armaments, and herein for France lies the dire
     necessity of linking her foreign policy with that of powerful

'And so,' adds the writer, 'it is impossible and absurd to accept the
theory of Mr. Norman Angell.'

Now that theory was, not that Germany and others would not fight--I was
very insistent indeed that[26] unless there was a change in European
policy they would--but that war, however it might end, would not solve
the question. And that conclusion at least, whatever may be the case
with others, is proved true.

For we have had war; we have beaten Germany; and those million babies
still confront us. The German population and its tendency to increase is
still there. What are we going to do about it? The War has killed two
million out of about seventy million Germans; it killed very few of the
women. The subsequent privations of the blockade certainly disposed of
some of the weaker among both women and children. The rate of increase
may in the immediate future be less. It was declining before the War as
the country became more prosperous, following in this what seems to be a
well-established rule: the higher the standard of civilisation the more
does the birth-rate decline. But if the country is to become extremely
frugal and more agricultural, this tendency to decline is likely to be
checked. In any case the number of mouths to be fed will not have been
decreased by war to the same extent that the resources by which they
might have been fed have been decreased.

What do we propose to Germany, now that we have beaten her, as the means
of dealing with those million babies? Professor Starling, in a report to
the British Government,[27] suggests emigration:--

     'Before the War Germany produced 85 per cent. of the total food
     consumed by her inhabitants. This large production was only
     possible by high cultivation, and by the plentiful use of manure
     and imported feeding stuffs, means for the purchase of these being
     furnished by the profits of industry.... The loss to Germany of 40
     per cent. of its former coal output must diminish the number of
     workers who can be maintained. The great increase in German
     population during the last twenty-five years was rendered possible
     only by exploiting the agricultural possibilities of the soil to
     the greatest possible extent, and this in its turn depended on the
     industrial development of the country. The reduction by 20 per
     cent. in the productive area of the country, and the 40 per cent.
     diminution in the chief raw material for the creation of wealth,
     renders the country at present over-populated, and it seems
     probable that within the next few years many million (according to
     some estimates as many as fifteen million) workers and their
     families will be obliged to emigrate, since there will be neither
     work nor food for them to be obtained from the reduced industries
     of the country.'

But emigration where? Into Russia? The influence of Germans in Russia
was very great even before the War. Certain French writers warn us
frantically against the vast danger of Russia's becoming a German colony
unless a cordon of border States, militarily strong, is created for the
purpose of keeping the two countries apart. But we should certainly get
a Germanisation of Russia from the inside if five or ten or fifteen
million Germans were dispersed therein and the country became a
permanent reservoir for those annual million babies.

And if not Russia, where? Imagine a migration of ten or fifteen million
Huns throughout the world--a dispersion before which that of the Jews
and of the Irish would pale. We know how the migration from an Ireland
of eight millions that could not feed itself has reacted upon our
politics and our relations with America. What sort of foreign problems
are we going to bequeath to our children if our policy forces a great
German migration into Russia, or the Balkans, or Turkey?

This insistent fact of a million more or less of little Huns being born
into the world every year remains. Shall we suggest to Germany that she
must deal with this problem as the thrifty householder deals with the
too frequent progeny of the family cat?

Or shall we do just nothing, and say that it is not our affair; that as
we have the power over the iron of Lorraine and Morocco, over the
resources of Africa and Asia, over the ocean highways of the world, we
are going to see that that power, naval and military, is used to ensure
abundance for ourselves and our friends; that as for others, since they
have not the power, they may starve? _Vae victis_ indeed![28]

Just note what is involved. This war was fought to destroy the doctrine
that might is right. Our power, we say, gives us access to the wealth of
the world; others shall be excluded. Then we are using our power to deny
to some millions the most elemental of all rights, the right to
existence. By the economic use of our military power (assuming that
military power is as effective as we claim) we compel some millions to
choose between war and penury or starvation; we give to war, in their
case, the justification that it is on behalf of the bread of their
children, their livelihood.

Let us compare France's position. Unlike the German, the French
population has hardly increased at all in recent generations. In the
years immediately preceding the War, indeed, it showed a definite
decline, a tendency naturally more marked since the War. This low
birth-rate has greatly concerned French statesmen, and remedies have
been endlessly discussed, with no result. The causes are evidently very
deep-rooted indeed. The soil which has been inherited by this declining
population is among the richest and most varied in the world, producing
in the form of wines, brandies, and certain other luxuries, results
which can be duplicated nowhere else. It stretches almost into the
sub-tropics. In addition, the nation possesses a vast colonial
empire--in Algeria, Tunis, Morocco (which include some of the greatest
food-growing areas in the world), Madagascar, Equatorial Africa,
Cochin-China; an empire managed, by the way, on strongly protectionist

We have thus on the one side a people of forty millions with no tendency
to increase, mainly not industrial (because not needing to be),
possessing undeveloped areas capable, in their food and mineral
resources (home and colonial), of supporting a population very many
times its size. On the other hand is a neighbouring group, very much
larger, and rapidly increasing, occupying a poorer and smaller
territory. It is unable to subsist at modern standards on that territory
without a highly-developed industry. The essential raw materials have
passed into the hands of the smaller group. The latter on grounds of
self-defence, fearing to be outnumbered, may withhold those materials
from the larger group; and its right so to do is to be unquestioned.

Does any one really believe that Western Society could remain stable,
resting on moral foundations of this kind? Can one disregard primary
economic need in considering the problem of preserving the Europe of
'free and independent national states' of Mr. Asquith's phrase?[29]

If things are left where this Treaty leaves them, then the militarist
theories which before were fallacies will have become true. We can no
longer say that peoples as distinct from imperialist parties have no
interest in conquest. In this new world of to-morrow--this 'better and
more stable world'--the interests of peoples themselves will be in
deadly conflict. For an expanding people it will be a choice between
robbery of neighbours' territory and starvation. Re-conquest of Lorraine
will become for the Germans not a matter of hurt pride or sentiment, but
a matter of actual food need, a need which will not, like hurt pride,
diminish with the lapse of time, but increase with the growth of the
population. On the side of war, then, truly we shall find 'the human
stomach and the human womb.'

The change is a deeper reversion than we seem to realise. Even under
feudalism the means of subsistence of the people, the land they
cultivated, remained as before. Only the lords were changed--and one
lord was very like another. But where, under modern industrial economy,
titles to property in indispensable raw materials can be cancelled by a
conqueror and become the State property of the conquering nation, which
enforces the right to distribute them as it pleases, whole populations
may find themselves deprived of the actual means of supporting
themselves on the territory that they occupy.

We shall have set up a disruptive ferment working with all the force of
the economic needs of 50 or 100 million virile folk to bring about once
more some vast explosion. Europe will once more be living on a volcano,
knowing no remedy save futile efforts to 'sit on the lid.'

The beginnings of the attempt are already visible. Colonel Repington
points out that owing to the break up of Russia and Austria, and the
substitution for these two powerful States of a large number of small,
independent ones likely to quarrel among themselves, Germany will be the
largest and most cohesive of all the European Continental nations,
relatively stronger than she was before the War. He demands in
consequence, that not only France, but Holland and Belgium, be extended
to the Rhine, which must become the strategic frontier of civilisation
against barbarism. He says there can be no sort of security otherwise.
He even reminds us that it was Rome's plan. (He does not remind us that
if it had notably succeeded then we should hardly be trying it again two
thousand years later.) The plan gives us, in fact, this prospect: the
largest and most unified racial block in Europe will find itself
surrounded by a number of lesser States, containing German minorities,
and possessing materials indispensable to Germany's economic life, to
which she is refused peaceful access in order that she may not become
strong enough to obtain access by force; an attempt which she will be
compelled to make because peaceful access is denied to her. Our measures
create resistance; that resistance calls forth more extreme measures;
those measures further resistance, and so on. We are in the thick once
more of Balance of Power, strategic frontiers, every element of the old
stultifying statecraft against which all the Allies--before the
Armistice--made flaming protest.

And when this conflict of rights--each fighting as he believes for the
right to life--has blazed up into passions that transcend all thought of
gain or advantage, we shall be asked somewhat contemptuously what
purpose it serves to discuss so cold a thing as 'economics' in the midst
of this welter.

It won't serve any purpose. But the discussion of economics before it
had become a matter for passion might have prevented the conflict.

The situation has this complication--and irony: Increasing prosperity, a
higher standard of living, sets up a tendency prudentially to check
increase of population. France, and in hardly less degree even new and
sparsely populated countries like Australia, have for long shown a
tendency to a decline of the rate of increase. In France, indeed, as has
already been mentioned, an absolute decrease had set in before the War.
But as soon as this tendency becomes apparent, the same nationalist who
invokes the menace of over-population as the justification for war, also
invokes nationalism to reverse the tendency which would solve the
over-population problem. This is part of the mystic nature of the
nationalist impulse. Colonel Roosevelt is not the only warlike
nationalist who has exhausted the resources of invective to condemn
'race suicide' and to enjoin the patriotic duty of large families.

We may gather some idea of the morasses into which the conception of
nationalism and its 'mystic impulses' may lead us when applied to the
population problem by examining some current discussions of it. Dr
Raymond Pearl, of John Hopkins University, summarises certain of his
conclusions thus:--

     'There are two ways which have been thought of and practised, by
     which a nation may attempt to solve its problem of population after
     it has become very pressing and after the effects of internal
     industrial development and its creation of wealth have been
     exhausted. These are respectively the methods of France and
     Germany. By consciously controlled methods, France endeavoured, and
     on the whole succeeded, in keeping her birth-rate at just such a
     delicate balance with the death-rate as to make the population
     nearly stationary. Then any industrial developments simply
     operated to raise the standard of living of those fortunate enough
     to be born. France's condition, social economy, and political, in
     1914 represented, I think, the results of about the maximum
     efficiency of what may be called the birth-control method of
     meeting the problem of population.

     'Germany deliberately chose the other plan of meeting the problem
     of population. In fewest words the scheme was, when your population
     pressed too hard upon subsistence, and you had fully liquidated the
     industrial development asset, to go out and conquer some one,
     preferably a people operating under the birth-control population
     plan, and forcibly take his land for your people. To facilitate
     this operation a high birth-rate is made a matter of sustained
     propaganda, and in every other possible way encouraged. An
     abundance of cannon fodder is essential to the success of the

A word or two as to the facts alleged in the foregoing. We are told that
the two nations not only followed respectively two different methods,
but that it was in each case a deliberate national choice, supported by
organised propaganda. 'By consciously controlled methods, France,' we
are told, 'endeavoured' to keep her birth-rate down. The fact is, of
course, that all the conscious endeavours of 'France,' if by France is
meant the Government, the Church, the learned bodies, were in the
exactly contrary direction. Not only organised propaganda, but most
elaborate legislation, aiming through taxation at giving a preference to
large families, has for a generation been industriously urging an
increase in the French population. It has notoriously been a standing
dish in the menu of the reformers and uplifters of nearly every
political party. What we obviously have in the case of France is not a
decision made by the nation as a corporate body and the Government
representing it, but a tendency which their deliberate decision, as
represented by propaganda and legislation, has been unable to check.[31]

In discussing the merits of the two plans, Dr Pearl goes on:--

     'Now the morals of the two plans are not at issue here. Both are
     regarded, on different grounds to be sure, as highly immoral by
     many people. Here we are concerned only with actualities. There can
     be no doubt that in general and in the long run the German plan is
     bound to win over the birth-control plan, if the issue is joined
     between the two and only the two, and its resolution is military in
     character.... So long as there are on the earth aggressively-minded
     peoples who from choice deliberately maintain a high birth-rate, no
     people can afford to put the French solution of the population
     problem into operation unless they are prepared to give up,
     practically at the asking, both their national integrity and their

Let us assume, therefore, that France adopts the high birth-rate plan.
She, too, will then be compelled, if the plan has worked out
successfully, 'to get out and conquer some one.' But that some one will
also, for the same reasons, have been following the plan of high
birth-rate. What is then to happen? A competition in fecundity as a
solution of the excess population problem seems inadequate. Yet it is
inevitably prompted by the nationalist impulse.

Happily the general rise in the standard of life itself furnishes a
solution. As we have seen, the birth-rate is, within certain limits, in
inverse ratio to a people's prosperity. But again, nationalism, by
preventing the economic unification of Europe, may well stand in the way
of that solution also. It checks the tendencies which would solve the

A fall in the birth-rate, as a concomitant of a rising standard of
living, was beginning to be revealed in Germany also before the War.[32]
If now, under the new order, German industrialism is checked and we get
an agricultural population compelled by circumstances to a standard of
life not higher than that of the Russian _moujik_, we may perhaps also
be faced by a revival of high fertility in mystic disregard of the
material means available for the support of the population.

There is a further point.

Those who have dealt with the world's food resources point out that
there are great sources of food still undeveloped. But the difficulties
do not arise from a total shortage. They arise from a mal-distribution
of population, coupled with the fact that as between nations the Ten
Commandments--particularly the eighth--do not run. By the code of
nationalism we have no obligation towards starving foreigners. A nation
may seize territory which it does not need, and exclude from it those
who direly need its resources. While we insist that internationalism is
political atheism, and that the only doctrine fit for red-blooded people
is what Colonel Roosevelt called 'intense Nationalism,' intense
nationalism means, in economic practice, the attempt, even at some
cost, to render the political unit also the economic unit, and as far as
possible self-sufficing.

It serves little purpose, therefore, to point out that one or two States
in South America can produce food for half the world, if we also create
a political tradition which leads the patriotic South American to insist
upon having his own manufactures, even at cost to himself, so that he
will not need ours. He will achieve that result at the cost of
diminishing his production of food. Both he and the Englishman will be
poorer, but according to the standard of the intense nationalist, the
result should be a good one, though it may confront many of us with
starvation, just as the intense nationalism of the various nations of
Eastern and South-Eastern Europe actually results in famine on soil
fully capable, before the War, of supporting the population, and capable
of supporting still greater populations if natural resources are used to
the best advantage. It is political passions, anti-social doctrines, and
the muddle, confusion, and hostility that go therewith which are the
real cause of the scarcity.

And that may forecast the position of Europe as a whole to-morrow: we
may suffer starvation for the patriotic joy of seeing foreigners--Boche
or Bolshevist--suffer in still greater degree.

Given the nationalist conception of a world divided into completely
distinct groups of separate corporate bodies, entities so different that
the binding social ties between them (laws, in fact) are impossible of
maintenance, there must inevitably grow up pugnacities and rivalries,
creating a general sense of conflict that will render immeasurably
difficult the necessary co-operation between the peoples, the kind of
co-operation which the Treaty of Versailles has, in so large degree,
deliberately destroyed. Whether the hostility comes, in the first
instance, from the 'herd,' or tribal, instinct, and develops into a
sense of economic hostility, or whether the hostility arises from the
conviction that there exists a conflict of interest, the result is
pretty much the same. I happen to have put the case elsewhere in these

If it be true that since the world is of limited space, we must fight
one another for it, that if our children are to be fed others must
starve, then agreement between peoples will be for ever impossible.
Nations will certainly not commit suicide for the sake of peace. If this
is really the relationship of two great nations, they are, of course, in
the position of two cannibals, one of whom says to the other: 'Either I
have got to eat you, or you have got to eat me. Let's come to a friendly
agreement about it.' They won't come to a friendly agreement about it.
They will fight. And my point is that not only would they fight if it
really were true that the one had to kill and eat the other, but they
would fight as long as they believed it to be true. It might be that
there was ample food within their reach--out of their reach, say, so
long as each acted alone, but within their reach if one would stand on
the shoulders of the other ('this is an allegory'), and so get the fat
cocoa-nuts on the higher branches. But they would, nevertheless, be
cannibals so long as each believed that the flesh of the other was the
only source of food. It would be that mistake, not the necessary fact,
which would provoke them to fight.

When we learn that one Balkan State refuses to another a necessary raw
material, or access over a railroad, because it prefers the suffering of
that neighbour to its own welfare, we are shocked and talk about
primitive and barbarous passions. But are we ourselves--Britain or
France--in better state? The whole story of the negotiations about the
indemnity and the restoration of Europe shows that we are not. Quite
soon after the Armistice the expert advisers of the British Government
urged the necessity, for the economic safety of the Allies themselves,
of helping in the restoration of Germany. But they also admitted that it
was quite hopeless to go to Parliament with any proposal to help
Germany. And even when one gets a stage further and there is general
admission 'in the abstract' that if France is to secure reparations,
Germany must be fed and permitted to work, the sentiment of hostility
stands in the way of any specific measure.

We are faced with certain traditions and moralities, involving a
psychology which, gathering round words like 'patriotism,' deprives us
of the emotional restraint and moral discipline necessary to carry
through the measures which intellectually we recognise to be
indispensable to our country's welfare.

We thus see why it is impossible to speak of international economics
without predicating the nation as a concept. In the economic problems of
nations or States, one is necessarily dealing not only with economic
facts, but with political facts: a political entity in its economic
relations (before the War inconsiderable, but since the War very great);
group consciousness; the interests, or what is sometimes as important,
the supposed interests of this group or area as distinct from that; the
moral phenomena of nationalism--group preferences or prejudices, herd
instinct, tribal hostility. All this is part of the economic problem in
international politics. Protection, for instance, is only in part a
problem of economics; it is also a problem of political preferences: the
manufacturer who is content to face the competition of his own
countrymen, objects to facing that of foreigners. Political conceptions
are part of the economic problem when dealing with nations, just as
primary economic need must be taken into account as part of the cause of
the conflict of nationalisms.

One very commonly hears the argument: 'What is the good of discussing
economic forces in relation to the conflict of Europe when our
participation, for instance, in the War, was in no way prompted by
economic considerations?'

Our motive may not have been economic, yet the cause of the War may very
well have been mainly economic. The sentiment of nationality may be a
stronger motive in European politics than any other. The chief menace
to nationality may none the less be economic need.

While it may be perfectly true that Belgians, Serbs, Poles, Bohemians,
fought from motives of nationality, it may also be true that the wars
which they were compelled to fight had an economic cause.

If the desire of Germany or Austria for undeveloped territory had
anything to do with that thrust towards the Near East in the way of
which stood Serbian nationality, then economic causes _had_ something to
do with compelling Serbia and Belgium to fight for their nationality.
Owing to the pressure of the economic need or greed of others, we are
still concerned with economic forces, though we may be actuated only by
the purest nationalism: the economic pressure of others is obviously
part of the problem of our national defence. And if one examines in turn
the chief problems of nationality, one finds in almost every case that
any aggression by which it may be menaced is prompted by the need, or
assumed need, of other nations for mines, ports, access to the sea (warm
water or other), or for strategic frontiers to defend those things.

Why should the desire of one people to rule itself, to be free, be
thwarted by another making exactly the same demands? In the case of the
Germans we ascribe it to some special and evil lust peculiar to their
race and training. But the Peace has revealed to us that it exists in
every people, every one.

A glance at the map enables us to realise readily enough why a given
State may resist the 'complete independence' of a neighbouring

Here, on the borders of Russia, for instance, are a number of small
States in a position to block the access of the population of Russia to
the sea; in a position, indeed, by their control of certain essential
raw materials, to hold up the development of a hundred million people,
very much as the robber barons of the Rhine held up the commerce of that
waterway. No powerful Russia, Bolshevik or Czarist, will permanently
recognise the absolute right of a little State, at will (at the
bidding, perhaps, of some military dictator, who in South American
fashion may have seized its Government), to block her access to the
'highways of the world.' 'Sovereignty and independence'--absolute
sovereignty over its own territory, that is--may well include the
'right' to make the existence of others intolerable. Ought any nation to
have such a right? Like questions are raised in the case of the States
that once were Austria. They have achieved their complete freedom and
independence. Some of the results are dealt with in the first chapter.
In some cases the new States are using their 'freedom, sovereignty, and
independence' for the purpose of worsening a condition of famine and
economic paralysis that spells indescribable suffering for millions of
completely innocent folk.[33]

So far, the new Europe is economically less competent than the old. The
old Austrian grouping, for instance, made possible a stable and orderly
life for fifty million people. A Mittel Europa, with its Berlin-Bagdad
designs, would, whatever its dangers otherwise, have given us a vastly
greater area of co-ordinated production, an area approaching that of the
United States; it would have ensured the effective co-operation of
populations greatly in excess of those of the United States. Whatever
else might have happened, there would have been no destruction by famine
of the populations concerned if some such plan of organised production
had materialised. The old Austria at least ensured for the children
physical health and education, for the peasants work in their fields, in
security; and although denial of full national rights was doubtless an
evil thing, it still left free a vast field of human activities--those
of the family, of productive labour, of religion, music, art, love,

A Europe of small 'absolute' nationalisms threatens to make these things
impossible. We have no standard, unhappily, by which we can appraise the
moral loss and gain in the exchange of the European life of July, 1914,
for that which Europe now faces and is likely to face in the coming
years. But if we cannot measure or weigh the moral value of absolute
nationalism, the present situation does enable us to judge in some
measure the degree of security achieved for the principle of
nationality, and to what extent it may be menaced by the economic needs
of the millions of Europe. And one is impelled to ask whether
nationality is not threatened by a danger far greater than any it had to
meet in the old Europe, in the anarchy and chaos that nationalism itself
is at present producing.

The greater States, like Germany, may conceivably manage somehow to find
a _modus vivendi_. A self-sufficing State may perhaps be developed (a
fact which will enable Germany at one and the same time to escape the
payment of reparations and to defy future blockades). But that will mean
embittered nationalism. The sense of exclusion and resentment will

The need of Germany for outside raw materials and food may, as the
result of this effort to become self-sufficing, prove less than the
above considerations might suggest. But unhappily, assumed need can be
as patent a motive in international politics as real need. Our recent
acquiescence in the independence of Egypt would imply that our need for
persistent occupation was not as great as we supposed. Yet the desire to
remain in Egypt helped to shape our foreign policy during a whole
generation, and played no small part in the bargaining with France over
Morocco which widened the gulf between ourselves and Germany.

The preservation of the principle of nationality depends upon making it
subject at least to some form of internationalism. If 'self-determination'
means the right to condemn other peoples to death by starvation, then
that principle cannot survive. The Balkanisation of Europe, turning it
into a cauldron of rival 'absolute' nationalisms, does not mean safety
for the principle of nationality, it means its ultimate destruction
either by anarchy or by the autocratic domination of the great
Powers. The problem is to reconcile national right and international
obligation. That will mean a discipline of the national impulse, and
of the instincts of domination which so readily attach themselves to
it. The recognition of economic needs will certainly help towards such
discipline. However 'materialistic' it may be to recognise the right of
others to life, that recognition makes a sounder foundation for human
society than do the instinctive impulses of mystic nationalism.

Until we have managed somehow to create an economic code or comity which
makes the sovereignty of each nationality subject to the general need of
the whole body of organised society, this struggle, in which nationality
is for ever threatened, will go on.

The alternatives were very clearly stated on the other side of the

'The underlying assumption heretofore has been that a nation's security
and prosperity rest chiefly upon its own strength and resources. Such an
assumption has been used to justify statesmen in attempting, on the
ground of the supreme need for national security, to increase their own
nation's power and resources by insistence upon strategic frontiers,
territory with raw material, outlets to the sea, even though that course
does violence to the security and prosperity of others. Under any system
in which adequate defence rests upon individual preponderance of power,
the security of one must involve the insecurity of another, and must
inevitably give rise to covert or overt competitions for power and
territory, dangerous to peace and destructive to justice.

'Under such a system of competitive as opposed to co-operative
nationalism, the smaller nationalities can never be really secure.
International commitments of some kind there must be. The price of
secure nationality is some degree of internationalism.

'The problem is to modify the conditions that lead to war. It will be
quite inadequate to establish courts of arbitration or of law if they
have to arbitrate or judge on the basis of the old laws and practices.
These have proved insufficient.

'It is obvious that any plan ensuring national security and equality of
opportunity will involve a limitation of national sovereignty. States
possessing ports that are the natural outlet of a hinterland occupied by
another people, will perhaps regard it as an intolerable invasion of
their independence if their sovereignty over those ports is not absolute
but limited by the obligation to permit of their use by a foreign and
possibly rival people on equal terms. States possessing territories in
Africa or Asia inhabited by populations in a backward state of
development, have generally heretofore looked for privileged and
preferential treatment of their own industry and commerce in those
territories. Great interests will be challenged, some sacrifice of
national pride demanded, and the hostility of political factions in some
countries will be aroused.

'Yet if, after the War, States are to be shut out from the sea; if
rapidly expanding populations find themselves excluded from raw
materials indispensable to their prosperity; if the privileges and
preferences enjoyed by States with overseas territories place the less
powerful States at a disadvantage, we shall have re-established potent
motives for that competition for political power which, in the past, has
been so large an element in the causation of war and the subjugation of
weaker peoples. The ideal of the security of all nations and "equality
of opportunity" will have failed of realisation.'[34]

_The Balance of Power and Defence of Law and Nationality._

'Why were you so whole-soully for this war?' asked the interviewer of Mr
Lloyd George.

'Belgium,' was the reply.

The Prime Minister of the morrow continued:--

     'The Saturday after war had actually been declared on the Continent
     (Saturday, 1st August), a poll of the electors of Great Britain
     would have shown ninety-five per cent. against embroiling this
     country in hostilities. Powerful city financiers whom it was my
     duty to interview this Saturday on the financial situation, ended
     the conference with an earnest hope that Britain would keep out of
     it. A poll on the following Tuesday would have resulted in a vote
     of ninety-nine per cent. in favour of war.

     'What had happened in the meantime? The revolution in public
     sentiment was attributable entirely to an attack made by Germany on
     a small and unprotected country, which had done her no wrong, and
     what Britain was not prepared to do for interests political and
     commercial, she readily risked to help the weak and helpless. Our
     honour as a nation is involved in this war, because we are bound in
     an honourable obligation to defend the independence, the liberty,
     the integrity of a small neighbour that has lived peaceably; but
     she could not have compelled us, being weak. The man who declined
     to discharge his debt because his creditor is too poor to enforce
     it, is a blackguard.'

A little later, in the same interview, Mr Lloyd George, after allusion
to German misrepresentations, said:--

     'But this I know is true--after the guarantee given that the German
     fleet would not attack the coast of France or annex any French
     territory, _I_ would not have been party to a declaration of war,
     had Belgium not been invaded, and I think I can say the same thing
     for most, if not all, of my colleagues. If Germany had been wise,
     she would not have set foot on Belgian soil. The Liberal Government
     then would not have intervened. Germany made a grave mistake.'[35]

This interview compels several very important conclusions. One, perhaps
the most important--and the most hopeful--is profoundly creditable to
English popular instinct and not so creditable to Mr Lloyd George.

If Mr Lloyd George is speaking the truth (it is difficult to find just
the phrase which shall express one's meaning and be Parliamentary), if
he believes it would have been entirely safe for Great Britain to have
kept out of the War provided only that the invasion of Belgium could
have been prevented, then indeed is the account against the Cabinet, of
which he was then a member and (after modifications in it) was shortly
to become the head, a heavy one. I shall not pursue here the inquiry
whether in point of simple political fact, Belgium was the sole cause of
our entrance into the War, because I don't suppose anybody believes it.
But--and here Mr Lloyd George almost certainly does speak the truth--the
English people gave their whole-souled support to the war because they
believed it to be for a cause of which Belgium was the shining example
and symbol: the right of the small nation to the same consideration as
the great. That objective may not have been the main inspiration of the
Governments: it was the main moral inspiration of the British people,
the sentiment which the Government exploited, and to which it mainly

'The purpose of the Allies in this War,' said Mr Asquith, 'is to pave
the way for an international system which will secure the principle of
equal rights for all civilised States ... to render secure the principle
that international problems must be handled by free people and that
their settlement shall no longer be hampered and swayed by the
overmastering dictation of a Government controlled by a military
caste.' We should not sheathe the sword 'until the rights of the smaller
nationalities of Europe are placed upon an unassailable foundation.'
Professor Headlam (an ardent upholder of the Balance of Power, by the
way), in a book that is characteristic of the early war literature, says
the cardinal principles for which the War was fought were two: first,
that Europe is, and should remain, divided between independent national
States, and, second, that subject to the condition that it did not
threaten or interfere with the security of other States, each country
should have full and complete control over its own affairs.

How far has our victory achieved that object? Is the policy which our
power supported before the War--and still supports--compatible with it?
Does it help to strengthen the national security of Belgium, and other
weak States like Yugo-Slavia, Poland, Albania, Finland, the Russian
Border States, China?

It is here suggested, first, that our commitments under the Balance of
Power policy which we had espoused[36] deprived our national force of
any preventive effectiveness whatever in so far as the invasion of
Belgium was concerned, and secondly, that our post-war policy, which is
also in fact a Balance of Power policy is betraying in like fashion the
cause of the small State.

It is further suggested that the very nature of the operation of the
Balance of Power policy sets up in practice a conflict of obligation: if
our power is pledged to the support of one particular group, like the
Franco-Russian group of 1914, it cannot also be pledged to the support,
honestly and impartially, of a general principle of European law.

We were drawn into the War, Mr Lloyd George tells us, to vindicate the
integrity of Belgium. Very good. We know what happened in the
negotiations. Germany wanted very much to know what would induce us to
keep out of the War. Would we keep out of the War if Germany refrained
from crossing the Belgian frontier? Such an assurance, giving Germany
the strongest material reasons for not invading Belgium, converting a
military reason (the only reason, we are told, that Germany would listen
to) for that offence into an immensely powerful military reason against
it, could not be given. In order to be able to maintain the Balance of
Power against Germany we must 'keep our hands free.'

It is not a question here of Germany's trustworthiness, but of using her
sense of self-interest to secure our object of the protection of
Belgium. The party in the German councils opposed to the invasion would
say: 'If you invade Belgium you will have to meet the hostility of Great
Britain. If you don't, you will escape that hostility.' To which the
general staff was able to reply: 'Britain's Balance of Power policy
means that you will have to meet the enmity of Britain in any case. In
terms of expediency, it does not matter whether you go through Belgium
or not.'

The fact that the principle of the 'Balance' compelled us to support
France, whether Germany respected the Treaty of 1839 or not, deprived
our power of any value as a restraint upon German military designs
against Belgium. There was, in fact, a conflict of obligations: the
obligations to the Balance of Power rendered that to the support of the
Treaty of no avail in terms of protection. If the object of force is to
compel observance of law on the part of those who will not observe it
otherwise, that object is defeated by the entanglements of the Balance
of Power.

Sir Edward Grey's account of that stage of the negotiations at which the
question of Belgium was raised, is quite clear and simple. The German
Ambassador asked him 'whether, if Germany gave a promise not to violate
Belgian neutrality, we would engage to remain neutral.' 'I replied,'
writes Sir Edward, 'that I could not say that; our hands were still
free, and we were considering what our attitude should be. I did not
think that we could give a promise of neutrality on that condition
alone. The Ambassador pressed me as to whether I could not formulate
conditions on which we would remain neutral. He even suggested that the
integrity of France and her Colonies might be guaranteed. I said that I
felt obliged to refuse definitely any promise to remain neutral on
similar terms, and I could only say that we must keep our hands free.'

'If language means anything,' comments Lord Loreburn,[37] 'this means
that whereas Mr Gladstone bound this country to war in order to
safeguard Belgian neutrality, Sir Edward would not even bind this
country to neutrality to save Belgium. He may have been right, but it
was not for the sake of Belgian interests that he refused.'

Compare our experience, and the attitude of Sir Edward Grey in 1914,
when we were concerned to maintain the Balance of Power, with our
experience and Mr Gladstone's behaviour when precisely the same problem
of protecting Belgium was raised in 1870. In these circumstances Mr
Gladstone proposed both to France and to Prussia a treaty by which Great
Britain undertook that, if either of the belligerents should in the
course of that war violate the neutrality of Belgium, Great Britain
would co-operate with the other belligerent in defence of the same,
'employing for that purpose her naval and military forces to ensure its
observance.' In this way both France and Germany knew and the whole
world knew, that invasion of Belgium meant war with Great Britain.
Whichever belligerent violated the neutrality must reckon with the
consequences. Both France and Prussia signed that Treaty. Belgium was

Lord Loreborn (_How the War Came_) says of the incident:--

     'This policy, which proved a complete success in 1870, indicated
     the way in which British power could effectively protect Belgium
     against an unscrupulous neighbour. But then it is a policy which
     cannot be adopted unless this country is itself prepared to make
     war against either of the belligerents which shall molest Belgium.
     For the inducement to each of such belligerents is the knowledge
     that he will have Great Britain as an enemy if he invades Belgium,
     and as an Ally if his enemy attacks him through Belgian territory.
     And that cannot be a security unless Great Britain keeps herself
     free to give armed assistance to either should the other violate
     the Treaty. The whole leverage would obviously disappear if we took
     sides in the war on other grounds.'[38]

This, then, is an illustration of the truth above insisted upon: to
employ our force for the maintenance of the Balance of Power is to
deprive it of the necessary impartiality for the maintenance of Right.

Much more clear even than in the case of Belgium was the conflict in
certain other cases between the claims of the Balance of Power and our
obligation to place 'the rights of the smaller nationalities of Europe
upon an unassailable foundation' which Mr Asquith proclaimed as the
object of the War.

The archetype of suppressed nationality was Poland; a nation with an
ancient culture, a passionate and romantic attachment to its ancient
traditions, which had simply been wiped off the map. If ever there was a
case of nation-murder it was this. And one of the culprits--perhaps the
chief culprit--was Russia. To-day the Allies, notably France, stand as
the champions of Polish nationality. But as late as 1917, as part of
that kind of bargain which inevitably marks the old type of diplomatic
Alliance, France was agreeing to hand over Poland, helpless, to her old
jailer, the Czarist Government. In March, 1916, the Russian Ambassador
in Paris was instructed that, at the then impending diplomatic

     'It is above all necessary to demand that the Polish question
     should be excluded from the subjects of international negotiation,
     and that all attempts to place Poland's future under the guarantee
     and control of the Powers should be prevented.'

On February 12th, 1917, the Russian Foreign Minister informed the
Russian Ambassador that M. Doumergue (French Ambassador in Petrograd)
had told the Czar of France's wish to get Alsace-Lorraine at the end of
the War, and also 'a special position in the Saar Valley, and to bring
about the detachment from Germany of the territories west of the Rhine
and their reorganisation in such a way that in future the Rhine may form
a permanent strategic obstacle to any German advance.' The Czar was
pleased to express his approval in principle of this proposal.
Accordingly the Russian Foreign Minister expressed his wish that an
Agreement by exchange of Notes should take place on this subject, and
desired that if Russia agreed to the unrestricted right of France and
Britain to fix Germany's western frontiers, so Russia was to have an
assurance of freedom of action in fixing Germany's future frontier on
the east. (This means the Russian western frontier.)[40]

Or take the case of Serbia, the oppressed nationality whose struggle for
freedom against Austria was the immediate cause of the War. It was
because Russia would not permit Austria to do with reference to Serbia,
what Russia claimed the right to do with reference to Poland, that the
latter made of the Austrian policy a _casus belli_.

Very well. We stood at least for the vindication of Serbian nationality.
But the 'Balance' demanded that we should win Italy to our side of the
scale. She had to be paid. So on April 20th, 1915, without informing
Serbia, Sir Edward Grey signed a Treaty (the last article of which
stipulated that it should be kept secret) giving to Italy the whole of
Dalmatia, in its present extent, together with the islands north and
west of the Dalmatian coast and Istria as far as the Quarnero and the
Istrian Islands. That Treaty placed under Italian rule whole populations
of Southern Slavs, creating inevitably a Southern Slav irredentism, and
put the Yugo-Slavia, that we professed to be creating, under the same
kind of economic disability which it had suffered from the Austrian
Empire. One is not astonished to find Signor Salandra describing the
principles which should guide his policy as 'a freedom from all
preoccupations and prejudices, and from every sentiment except that of
"Sacred egoism" (_sacro egoismo_) for Italy.'

To-day, it need hardly be said, there is bitter hatred between our
Serbian Ally and our Italian Ally, and most patriotic Yugo-Slavs regard
war with Italy one day as inevitable.[41] Yet, assuredly, Sir Edward
Grey is not to be blamed. If allegiance to the Balance of Power was to
come first, allegiance to any principle, of nationality or of anything
else, must come second.

The moral implications of this political method received another
illustration in the case of the Rumanian Treaty. Its nature is indicated
in the Report of General Polivanov, amongst the papers published at
Petrograd and dated 7th-20th November, 1916. It explains how Rumania was
at first a neutral, but shifting between different inclinations--a wish
not to come in too late for the partition of Austria-Hungary, and a wish
to earn as much as possible at the expense of the belligerents. At
first, according to this Report, she favoured our enemies and had
obtained very favourable commercial agreements with Germany and
Austria-Hungary. Then in 1916, on the Russian successes under Brusilov,
she inclined to the Entente Powers. The Russian Chief of the Staff
thought Rumanian neutrality preferable to her intervention, but later on
General Alexeiev adopted the view of the Allies, 'who looked upon
Rumania's entry as a decisive blow for Austria-Hungary and as the
nearing of the War's end.' So in August, 1916, an agreement was signed
with Rumania (by whom it was signed is not stated), assigning to her
Bukovina and all Transylvania. 'The events which followed,' says the
report, 'showed how greatly our Allies were mistaken and how they
overvalued Rumania's entry.' In fact, Rumania was in a brief time
utterly overthrown. And then Polivanov points out that the collapse of
Rumania's plans as a Great Power 'is not particularly opposed to
Russia's interests.'

One might follow up this record and see how far the method of the
Balance has protected the small and weak nation in the case of Albania,
whose partition was arranged for in April, 1915, under the Treaty of
London; in the case of Macedonia and the Bulgarian Macedonians; in the
case of Western Thrace, of the Serbian Banat, of the Bulgar Dobrudja, of
the Southern Tyrol, of German Bohemia, of Shantung--of still further
cases in which we were compelled to change or modify or betray the cause
for which we entered the War in order to maintain the preponderance of
power by which we could achieve military success.

The moral paralysis exemplified in this story is already infecting our
nascent efforts at creating a society of nations--witness the relation
of the League with Poland. No one in 1920 justified the Polish claims
made against Russia. Our own communications to Russia described them as
'imperialistic.' The Prime Minister condemned them in unmeasured terms.
Poland was a member of the League. Her supplies of arms and ammunition,
military stores, credit, were obtained by the grace of the chief members
of the League. The only port by which arms could enter Poland was a city
under the special control of the League. An appeal was made to the
League to take steps to prevent the Polish adventure. Lord Robert Cecil
advocated the course with particular urgency. The Soviet Government
itself, while Poland was preparing, appealed to the chief constitutional
governments of the League for some preventive action. Why was none
taken? Because the Balance of Power demanded that we should 'stand by
France,' and Polish Imperialism was part of the policy quite overtly and
deliberately laid down by M. Clemenceau, who, with a candour entirely
admirable, expressed his preference for the old system of alliances as
against the newfangled Society of Nations. We could not restrain Poland
and at the same time fulfil our Alliance obligations to France, who was
supporting the Polish policy.[42]

By reason of the grip of this system we supported (while proclaiming the
sacredness of the cause of oppressed nationalities) or acquiesced in the
policy of Czarist Russia against Poland, and incidentally Finland; we
supported Poland against republican Russia; we encouraged the creation
of small border States as means of fighting Soviet Russia, while we
aided Koltchak and Denikin, who would undoubtedly if successful have
suppressed the border States. We supported the Southern Slavs against
Austria when we desired to destroy the latter; we supported Italy (in
secret treaties) against the Southern Slavs when we desired the help of
the former. Violations and repressions of nationality which, when
committed by the enemy States, we declared should excite the deathless
resistance of all free men and call down the punishment of Heaven, we
acquiesce in and are silent about when committed by our Allies.

This was the Fight for Right, the war to vindicate the moral law in the
relations of States.

The political necessities of the Balance of Power have prevented the
country from pledging its power, untrammelled, to the maintenance of
Right. The two objects are in theory and practice incompatible. The
Balance of Power is in fact an assertion of the principle of
_Macht-Politik_, of the principle that Might makes Right.



The War revealed this: However great the military power of a State, as
in the case of France; however great its territorial extent, as in the
case of the British Empire; or its economic resources and geographical
isolation as in the case of the United States, the conditions of the
present international order compel that State to resort to Alliance as
an indispensable part of its military defence. And the peace reveals
this: that no Alliance can long resist the disruptive forces of
nationalist psychology. So rapid indeed has been the disintegration of
the Alliance that fought this War, that, from this one cause, the power
indispensable for carrying out the Treaty imposed upon the enemy has on
the morrow of victory already disappeared.

So much became patent in the year that followed the signing of the
Treaty. The fact bears of course fundamentally upon the question of the
use of political power for those economic ends discussed in the
preceding pages. If the economic policy of the Treaty of Versailles is
to be carried out, it will in any case demand a preponderance of power
so immense and secure that the complete political solidarity of the
Alliance which fought the War must be assumed. It cannot be assumed.
That Alliance has in fact already gone to pieces; and with it the
unquestioned preponderance of power.

The fact bears not only upon the use of power for the purpose of
carrying an economic policy--or some moral end, like the defence of
Nationality--into effect. The disruptive influence of the Nationalisms
of which alliances are composed raises the question of how far a
military preponderance resting on a National foundation can even give us
political security.

If the moral factors of nationality are, as we have seen, an
indispensable part of the study of international economics, so must
those same factors be considered as an indispensable part of the problem
of the power to be exercised by an alliance.

During the War there was an extraordinary neglect of this simple truth.
It seemed to occur to no one that the intensification of the psychology
of nationalism--not only among the lesser States but in France and
America and England--ran the risk of rendering the Alliance powerless
after its victory. Yet that is what has happened.

The power of an Alliance (again we are dealing with things that are
obvious but neglected) does not depend upon the sum of its material
forces--navies, armies, artillery. It depends upon being able to
assemble those things to a common purpose; in other words, upon policy
fit to direct the instrument. If the policy, or certain moral elements
within it, are such that one member of the Alliance is likely to turn
his arms against the others, the extent of _his_ armament does not add
to the strength of the Alliance. It was with ammunition furnished by
Britain and France that Russia in 1919 and 1920 destroyed British and
French troops. The present building of an enormous navy by America is
not accepted in Britain as necessarily adding to the security of the
British Empire.

It is worth while to note how utterly fallacious are certain almost
universal assumptions concerning the relation of war psychology to the
problem of alliance solidarity. An English visitor to the United States
(or an American visitor to England) during the years 1917-1918 was apt
to be deluged by a flood of rhetoric to this effect: The blood shed on
the same battle-fields, the suffering shared in common in the same
common cause, would unite and cement as nothing had ever yet united the
two great branches of the English-speaking race, destined by

But the same visitor moving in the same circle less than two years later
found that this eternal cement of friendship had already lost its
potency. Never, perhaps, for generations were Anglo-American relations
so bad as they had become within a score or so of months of the time
that Englishmen and Americans were dying side by side on the
battle-field. At the beginning of 1921, in the United States, it was
easier, on a public platform, to defend Germany than to present a
defence of English policy in Ireland or in India. And at that period one
might hear commonly enough in England, in trams and railway carriages, a
repetition of the catch phrase, 'America next.' If certain popular
assumptions as to war psychology were right, these things would be

Yet, as a matter of fact, the psychological phenomenon is true to type.
It was not an accident that the internationalist America of 1915, of
'Peace without Victory,' should by 1918 have become more fiercely
insistent upon absolute victory and unconditional surrender than any
other of the belligerents, whose emotions had found some outlet during
three years of war before America had begun. The complete reversal of
the 'Peace without Victory' attitude was demanded--cultivated,
deliberately produced--as a necessary part of war morale. But these
emotions of coercion and domination cannot be intensively cultivated and
then turned off as by a tap. They made America fiercely nationalist,
with necessarily a temperamental distaste for the internationalism of Mr
Wilson. And when a mere year of war left the emotional hungers
unsatisfied, they turned unconsciously to other satisfactions. Twenty
million Americans of Irish descent or association, among others,
utilised the opportunity.

One feature--perhaps the very largest feature of all--of war morale, had
been the exploitation of the German atrocities. The burning of Louvain,
and other reprisals upon the Belgian civilian population, meant
necessarily a special wickedness on the part of a definite entity, known
as 'Germany,' that had to be crushed, punished, beaten, wiped out. There
were no distinctions. The plea that all were not equally guilty excited
the fierce anger reserved for all such 'pacifist' and pro-German pleas.
A German woman had laughed at a wounded American: all German women were
monsters. 'No good German but a dead German.' It was in the German blood
and grey matter. The elaborate stories--illustrated--of Germans sticking
bayonets into Belgian children produced a thesis which was beyond and
above reason or explanation: for that atrocity, 'Germany'--seventy
million people, ignorant peasants, driven workmen, the babies, the
invalids, the old women gathering sticks in the forest, the children
trooping to school--all were guilty. To state the thing in black and
white sounds like a monstrous travesty. But it is not a travesty. It is
the thesis we, too, maintained; but in America it had, in the American
way, an over simplification and an extra emphasis.

And then after the War an historical enemy of America's does precisely
the same thing. In the story of Amritsar and the Irish reprisals it is
the Indian and Sinn Fein version only which is told; just as during the
War we got nothing but the anti-German version of the burning of
Louvain, or reprisals upon civilians. Why should we expect that the
result should be greatly different upon American opinion? Four hundred
unarmed and hopeless people, women and children as well as men, are mown
down by machine-guns. Or, in the Irish reprisals, a farmer is shot in
the presence of his wife and children. The Government defends the
soldiers. 'Britain' has done this thing: forty-five millions of people,
of infinitely varying degrees of responsibility, many opposing it, many
ignorant of it, almost all entirely helpless. To represent them as
inhuman monsters because of these atrocities is an infinitely
mischievous falsehood. But it is made possible by a theory, which in the
case of Germany we maintained for years as essentially true. And now it
is doing as between Britain and America what a similar falsehood did as
between Germany and England, and will go on doing so long as Nationalism
includes conceptions of collective responsibility which fly in the face
of common sense and truth. If the resultant hostilities can operate as
between two national groups like the British and the American, what
groups can be free of them?

It is a little difficult now, two years after the end of the War, with
the world in its present turmoil, to realise that we really did expect
the defeat of Germany to inaugurate an era of peace and security, of
reduction of armaments, the virtual end of war; and believed that it was
German militarism, 'that trampling, drilling foolery in the heart of
Europe, that has arrested civilisation and darkened the hopes of mankind
for forty years,'[43] as Mr Wells wrote in _The War that will End War_,
which accounted for nearly all the other militarisms, and that after its
destruction we could anticipate 'the end of the armament phase of
European history.' For, explained Mr Wells, 'France, Italy, England, and
all the smaller Powers of Europe are now pacific countries; Russia,
after this huge War, will be too exhausted for further adventure.'[44]

'When will peace come?' asked Professor Headlam, and answered that

     'It will come when Germany has learnt the lesson of the War, when
     it has learnt, as every other nation has had to learn, that the
     voice of Europe cannot be defied with impunity.... Men talk about
     the terms of peace. They matter little. With a Germany victorious
     no terms could secure the future of Europe, with a Germany
     defeated, no artificial securities will be wanted, for there will
     be a stronger security in the consciousness of defeat.'[45]

There were to be no limits to the political or economic rearrangements
which victory would enable us to effect. Very authoritative military
critics like Mr Hilaire Belloc became quite angry and contemptuous at
the suggestion that the defeat of the enemy would not enable us to
rearrange Europe at our will. The doctrine that unlimited power was
inherent in victory was thus stated by Mr Belloc:--

     'It has been well said that the most straightforward and obvious
     conclusions on the largest lines of military policy are those of
     which it is most difficult to convince a general audience; and we
     find in this matter a singular miscalculation running through the
     attitude of many Western publicists. They speak as though, whatever
     might happen in the West, the Alliance, which is fighting for
     European civilisation, the Western Allies and the United States,
     could not now affect the destinies of Eastern Europe....

     Such an attitude is, upon the simplest principles of military
     science, a grotesque error.... If we are victorious ... the
     destruction of the enemy's military power gives us as full an
     opportunity for deciding the fate of Eastern Europe as it does for
     deciding the fate of Western Europe. Victory gained by the Allies
     will decide the fate of all Europe, and, for that matter, of the
     whole world. It will open the Baltic and the Black Sea. It will
     leave us masters with the power to dictate in what fashion the new
     boundaries shall be arranged, how the entries to the Eastern
     markets shall be kept open, garrisoned and guaranteed....

     Wherever they are defeated, whether upon the line they now hold or
     upon other lines, their defeat and our victory will leave us with
     complete power. If that task be beyond our strength, then
     civilisation has suffered defeat, and there is the end of it.'

German power was to be destroyed as the condition of saving
civilisation. Mr Belloc wrote:--

     'If by some negotiation (involving of course the evacuation of the
     occupied districts in the West) the enemy remains undefeated,
     civilised Europe has lost the war and Prussia has won it.'[46]

Such was the simple and popular thesis. Germany, criminal and barbarian,
challenged Europe, civilised and law-abiding. Civilisation can only
assert itself by the punishment of Germany and save itself by the
destruction of German power. Once the German military power is
destroyed, Europe can do with Germany what it will.

I suggest that the experience of the last two years, and our own present
policy, constitute an admission or demonstration, first, that the moral
assumption of this thesis--that the menace of German power was due to
some special wickedness on the part of the German nation not shared by
other peoples in any degree--is false; and, secondly, that the
destruction of Germany's military force gives to Europe no such power to
control Germany.

Our power over Germany becomes every day less:

First, by the break-up of the Alliance. The 'sacred egoisms' which
produced the War are now disrupting the Allies. The most potentially
powerful European member of the Alliance or Association--Russia--has
become an enemy; the most powerful member of all, America, has withdrawn
from co-operation; Italy is in conflict with one Ally, Japan with

Secondly, by the more extended Balkanisation of Europe. The States
utilised by (for instance) France as the instruments of Allied policy
(Poland, Hungary, Ukrainia, Rumania, Czecho-Slovakia) are liable to
quarrel among themselves. The groups rendered hostile to Allied
policy--Germany, Russia, China--are much larger, and might well once
more become cohesive units. The Nationalism which is a factor of Allied
disintegration may nevertheless work for the consolidation of the groups
opposed to us.

Thirdly, by the economic disorganisation of Europe (resulting mainly
from the desire to weaken the enemy), which deprives the Alliance of
economic resources sufficient for a military task like that of the
conquest of Russia or the occupation of Germany.

Fourthly, by the social unrest within each country (itself due in part
to the economic disorganisation, in part to the introduction of the
psychology of jingoism into the domain of industrial strife):
Bolshevism. A long war of intervention in Russia by the Alliance would
have broken down under the strain of internal unrest in Allied

The Alliance thus succumbs to the clash of Nationalisms and the clash of

These moral factors render the purpose which will be given to
accumulated military force--'the direction in which the guns will
shoot'--so uncertain that the amount of material power available is no
indication of the degree of security attained.

If it were true, as we argued so universally before and during the War,
that German power was the final cause of the armament rivalry in Europe,
then the disappearance of that power should mark, as so many prophesied
it would mark, the end of the 'armament era.'[47] Has it done so? Or
does any one to-day seriously argue that the increase of armament
expenditure over the pre-war period is in some mystic way due to
Prussian militarism?

Let us turn to a _Times_ leader in the summer of 1920:--

     'To-day the condition of Europe and of a large portion of the world
     is scarcely less critical than it was six years ago. Within a few
     days, or at most a few weeks, we may know whether the Peace Treaty
     signed at Versailles will possess effective validity. The
     independent existence of Poland, which is a keystone of the
     reorganisation of Europe contemplated by the Treaty, is in grave
     peril; and with it, though perhaps not in the manner currently
     imagined in Germany, is jeopardised the present situation of
     Germany herself.

... There is undoubtedly a widespread plot against Western
     civilisation as we know it, and probably against British liberal
     institutions as a principal mainstay of that civilisation. Yet if
     our institutions, and Western civilisation with them, are to
     withstand the present onslaught, they must be defended.... We never
     doubted the staunchness and vigour of England six years ago, and we
     doubt them as little to-day.'[48]

And so we must have even larger armaments than ever. Field-Marshal Earl
Haig and Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson in England, Marshal Foch in
France, General Leonard Wood in America, all urge that it will be
indispensable to maintain our armaments at more than the pre-war scale.
The ink of the Armistice was barely dry before the _Daily Mail_
published a long interview with Marshal Foch[49] in the course of which
the Generalissimo enlarged on the 'inevitability' of war in the future
and the need of being 'prepared for it.' Lord Haig, in his Rectorial
Address at St Andrews (May 14th, 1919) followed with the plea that as
'the seeds of future conflict are to be found in every quarter, only
waiting the right condition, moral, economic, political, to burst once
more into activity,' every man in the country must immediately be
trained for war. The _Mail_, supporting his plea, said:--

     'We all desire peace, but we cannot, even in the hour of complete
     victory, disregard the injunction uttered by our first soldier,
     that "only by adequate preparation for war can peace in every way
     be guaranteed."

     '"A strong citizen army on strong territorial lines," is the advice
     Sir Douglas Haig urges on the country. A system providing twelve
     months' military training for every man in the country should be
     seriously thought of.... Morally and physically the War has shown
     us that the effect of discipline upon the youths of the country is
     an asset beyond calculation.'

So that the victory which was to end the 'trampling and drilling
foolery' is made a plea for the institution of permanent conscription in
England, where, before the victory, it did not exist.

The admission involved in this recommendation, the admission that
destruction of German power has failed to give us security, is as
complete as it well could be.

If this was merely the exuberant zeal of professional soldiers, we might
perhaps disregard these declarations. But the conviction of the soldiers
is reflected in the policy of the Government. At a time when the
financial difficulties of all the Allied countries are admittedly
enormous, when the bankruptcy of some is a contingency freely discussed,
and when the need of economy is the refrain everywhere, there is not an
Allied State which is not to-day spending more upon military and naval
preparations than it was spending before the destruction of the German
power began. America is preparing to build a bigger fleet than she has
ever had in her history[50]--a larger fleet than the German armada,
which was for most Englishmen perhaps the decisive demonstration of
Germany's hostile intent. Britain on her side has at present a larger
naval budget than that of the year which preceded the War; while for the
new war instrument of aviation she has a building programme more costly
than the shipbuilding programmes of pre-war time. France is to-day
spending more on her army than before the War; spending, indeed, upon it
now a sum larger than that which she spent upon the whole of her
Government when German militarism was undestroyed.

Despite all this power possessed by the members of the Alliance, the
predominant note in current political criticism is that Germany is
evading the execution of the Treaty of Versailles, that in the payment
of the indemnity, the punishment of military criminals, and disarmament,
the Treaty is a dead letter, and the Allies are powerless. As the
_Times_ reminds us, the very keystone of the Treaty, in the independence
of Poland, trembles.

It is not difficult to recall the fashion in which we thought and wrote
of the German menace before and during the War. The following from _The
New Europe_ (which had taken as its device 'La Victoire Intégrale') will
be recognised as typical:--

     'It is of vital importance to us to understand, not only Germany's
     aims, but the process by which she hopes to carry them through. If
     Germany wins, she will not rest content with this victory. Her next
     object will be to prepare for further victories both in Asia and in
     Central and Western Europe.

     'Those who still cherish the belief that Prussia is pacifist show a
     profound misunderstanding of her psychology.... On this point the
     Junkers have been frank: those who have not been frank are the
     wiseacres who try to persuade us that we can moderate their
     attitude by making peace with them. If they would only pay a
     little more attention to the Junkers' avowed objects, and a little
     less attention to their own theories about those objects, they
     would be more useful guides to public opinion in this country,
     which finds itself hopelessly at sea on the subject of Prussianism.

     'What then are Germany's objects? What is likely to be her view of
     the general situation in Europe at the present moment?... Whatever
     modifications she may have introduced into her immediate programme,
     she still clings to her desire to overthrow our present
     civilisation in Europe, and to introduce her own on the ruins of
     the old order....

     'Buoyed up by recent successes ... her offers of peace will become
     more insistent and more difficult to refuse. Influences will
     clamour for the resumption of peace on economic and financial
     grounds.... We venture to say that it will be very difficult for
     any Government to resist this pressure, and, _unless the danger of
     coming to terms with Germany is very clearly and strongly put
     before the public, we may find ourselves caught in the snares that
     Germany has for a long time past been laying for us_.

... 'We shall be told that once peace is concluded the Junkers will
     become moderate, and all those who wish to believe this will
     readily accept it without further question.

     'But, while we in our innocence may be priding ourselves on the
     conclusion of peace to Germany it will not be a peace, but a
     "respite." ... This "respite" will be exceedingly useful to Germany
     not only for propaganda purposes, but in order to replenish her
     exhausted resources necessary for future aggression. Meanwhile
     German activities in Asia and Ireland are likely to continue
     unabated until the maximum inconvenience to England has been

If the reader will carry his mind back a couple of years, he will recall
having read numberless articles similar to the above, concerning the
duty of annihilating the power of Germany.

Well, will the reader note that _the above does not refer to Germany at
all, but to Russia_? I have perpetrated a little forgery for his
enlightenment. In order to bring home the rapidity with which a change
of roles can be accomplished, an article warning us against any peace
with _Russia_, appearing in the _New Europe_ of January 8th, 1920, has
been reproduced word for word, except that 'Russia' or 'Lenin' has been
changed to 'Germany' or 'the Junkers,' as the case may be.

Now let us see what this writer has to say as to the German power

Well, he says that the security of civilisation now depends upon the
restoration, in part at least, of that German power, for the destruction
of which the world gave twenty million lives. The danger to civilisation
now is mainly 'the breach between Germany and the West, and the
rivalries of nationalism.' Lenin, plotting our destruction, relies
mainly on that:--

     'Above all we may be sure that his attention is concentrated on
     England and Germany. So long as Germany remains aloof and feelings
     of bitterness against the Allies are allowed to grow still more
     acute, Lenin can rub his hands with glee; what he fears more than
     anything is the first sign that the sores caused by five years of
     war are being healed, and that England, France, and Germany are
     preparing to treat one another as neighbours, who have each their
     several parts to play in the restoration of normal economic
     conditions in Europe.'

As to the policy of preventing Germany's economic restoration for fear
that she should once more possess the raw material of military power,
this writer declares that it is precisely that Carthaginian policy
(embodied in the Treaty of Versailles) which Lenin would most of all

     'As a trained economist we may be sure that he looks first and
     foremost at the widespread economic chaos. We can imagine his
     chuckle of satisfaction when he sees the European exchanges getting
     steadily worse and national antagonisms growing more acute.
     Disputes about territorial questions are to him so much grist to
     the Bolshevik mill, as they all tend to obscure the fundamental
     question of the economic reconstruction of Europe, without which no
     country in Europe can consider itself safe from Bolshevism.

     'He must realise to the full the lamentable condition of the
     finances of the new States in Central and South-east Europe.'

In putting forward these views, The _New Europe_ is by no means alone.
Already in January, 1920, Mr J. L. Garvin had declared what indeed was
obvious, that it was out of the question to expect to build a new Europe
on the simultaneous hostility of Germany _and_ Russia.

     'Let us face the main fact. If there is to be no peace with the
     Bolshevists _there must be an altogether different understanding
     with Germany.... For any sure and solid barrier against the
     external consequences of Bolshevism Germany is essential._'

Barely six months later Mr Winston Churchill, Secretary of State for War
in the British Cabinet, chooses the _Evening News_, probably the
arch-Hun-Hater of all the English Press, to open out the new policy of
Alliance with Germany against Russia. He says:--

     'It will be open to the Germans ... by a supreme effort of
     sobriety, of firmness, of self-restraint, and of
     courage--undertaken, as most great exploits have to be, under
     conditions of peculiar difficulty and discouragement--to build a
     dyke of peaceful, lawful, patient strength and virtue against the
     flood of red barbarism flowing from the East, and thus safeguard
     their own interests and the interests of their principle
     antagonists in the West.

     'If the Germans were able to render such a service, not by
     vainglorious military adventure or with ulterior motives, they
     would unquestionably have taken a giant step upon that path of
     self-redemption which would lead them surely and swiftly as the
     years pass by to their own great place in the councils of
     Christendom, and would have rendered easier the sincere
     co-operation between Britain, France, and Germany, on which the
     very salvation of Europe depends.'

So the salvation of Europe depends upon our co-operation with Germany,
upon a German dyke of 'patient strength.'[51]

       *       *       *       *       *

One wonders why we devoted quite so many lives and so much agony to
knocking Germany out; and why we furnished quite so much treasure to the
military equipment of the very Muscovite 'barbarians' who now threaten
to overflow it.

One wonders also, why, if 'the very salvation of Europe' in July, 1920,
depends upon sincere co-operation of the Entente with Germany, those
Allies were a year earlier exacting by force her signature to a Treaty
which not even its authors pretended was compatible with German

If the Germans are to fulfil the role Mr Churchill assigns to them, then
obviously the Treaty of Versailles must be torn up. If they are to be
the 'dyke' protecting Western civilisation against the Red military
flood, it must, according to the Churchillian philosophy, be a military
dyke: the disarmament clauses must be abolished, as must the other
clauses--particularly the economic ones--which would make of any people
suffering from them the bitter enemy of the people that imposed them.
Our Press is just now full of stories of secret Treaties between Germany
and Russia against France and England. Whether the stories are true or
not, it is certain that the effect of the Treaty of Versailles and the
Allied policy to Russia will be to create a Russo-German understanding.
And Mr Churchill (phase 1920) has undoubtedly indicated the
alternatives. If you are going to fight Russia to the death, then you
must make friends with Germany; if you are going to maintain the Treaty
of Versailles, then you must make friends with Russia. You must 'trust'
either the Boche or the Bolshevist.

Popular feeling at this moment (or rather the type of feeling envisaged
by the Northcliffe Press) won't do either. Boche and Bolshevist alike
are 'vermin' to be utterly crushed, and any policy implying co-operation
with either is ruled out. 'Force ... force to the uttermost' against
both is demanded by the _Times_, the _Daily Mail_, and the various
evening, weekly, or monthly editions thereof.

Very well. Let us examine the proposal to 'hold down' by force both
Russia and Germany. Beyond Russia there is Asia, particularly India. The
_New Europe_ writer reminds us:--

     ' ... If England cannot be subdued by a direct attack, she is, at
     any rate, vulnerable in Asia, and it is here that Lenin is
     preparing to deliver his real propaganda offensive. During the last
     few months more and more attention has been paid to Asiatic
     propaganda, and this will not be abandoned, no matter what
     temporary arrangements the Soviet Government may attempt to make
     with Western Europe. It is here, and here only, that England can be
     wounded, so that she may be counted out of the forth-coming
     revolutionary struggle in Europe that Lenin is preparing to engage
     in at a later date....

     'We should find ourselves so much occupied in maintaining order in
     Asia that we should have little time or energy left for interfering
     in Europe.'

As a matter of fact, we know how great are the forces that can be
absorbed[52] when the territory for subjection stretches from Archangel
to the Deccan--through Syria, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia,
Afghanistan. Our experience in Archangel, Murmansk, Vladivostock, and
with Koltchak, Denikin, and Wrangel shows that the military method must
be thorough or it will fail. It is no good hoping that a supply of
surplus ammunition to a counter-revolutionary general will subdue a
country like Russia. The only safe and thorough-going plan is complete
occupation--or a very extended occupation--of both countries. M.
Clemenceau definitely favoured this course, as did nearly all the
military-minded groups in England and America, when the Russian policy
was discussed at the end of 1918 and early in 1919.

Why was that policy not carried out?

The history of the thing is clear enough. That policy would have called
upon the resources in men and material of the whole of the Alliance, not
merely those of the Big Four, but of Poland, Czecho-Slovakia,
Yugo-Slavia, Italy, Greece, and Japan as well. The 'March to Berlin and
Moscow' which so many, even in England and America, were demanding at
the time of the Armistice would not have been the march of British
Grenadiers; nor the succeeding occupation one like that of Egypt or
India. Operations on that scale would have brought in sooner or later
(indeed, much smaller operations have already brought in) the forces of
nations in bitter conflict the one with the other. We know what the
occupation of Ireland by British troops has meant. Imagine an Ireland
multiplied many times, occupied not only by British but by 'Allied'
troops--British side by side with Senegalese negroes, Italians with
Yugo-Slavs, Poles with Czecho-Slovaks and White Russians, Americans with
Japanese. Remember, moreover, how far the disintegration of the Alliance
had already advanced. The European member of the Alliance greatest in
its potential resources, human and material, was of course the very
country against which it was now proposed to act; the 'steamroller' had
now to be destroyed ... by the Allies. America, the member of the
Alliance, which, at the time of the Armistice, represented the greatest
unit of actual material force, had withdrawn into a nationalist
isolation from, and even hostility to, the European Allies. Japan was
pursuing a line of policy which rendered increasingly difficult the
active co-operation of certain of the Western democracies with her; her
policy had already involved her in declared and open hostility to the
other Asiatic element of the Alliance, China. Italy was in a state of
bitter hostility to the nationality--Greater Serbia--whose defence was
the immediate occasion of the War, and was soon to mark her feeling
towards the peace by returning to power the Minister who had opposed
Italy's entrance into the War; a situation which we shall best
understand if we imagine a 'pro-German' (say, for instance, Lord Morley,
or Mr Ramsay MacDonald, or Mr Philip Snowden) being made Prime Minister
of England. What may be termed the minor Allies, Yugo-Slavia,
Czecho-Slovakia, Rumania, Greece, Poland, the lesser Border States, the
Arab kingdom that we erected, were drifting towards the entangling
conflicts which have since broken out. Already, at a time when the Quai
d'Orsay and Carmelite House were both clamouring for what must have
meant in practice the occupation of both Germany and Russia, the
Alliance had in fact disintegrated, and some of its main elements were
in bitter conflict. The picture of a solid alliance of pacific and
liberal democracies standing for the maintenance of an orderly European
freedom against German attacks had completely faded away. Of the Grand
Alliance of twenty-four States as a combination of power pledged to a
common purpose, there remained just France and England--and their
relations, too, were becoming daily worse; in fundamental disagreement
over Poland, Turkey, Syria, the Balkan States, Austria, and Germany
itself, its indemnities, and its economic treatment generally. Was this
the instrument for the conquest of half a world?

But the political disintegration of the Alliance was not the only
obstacle to a thorough-going application of military force to the
problem of Germany and Russia.

By the very terms of the theory of security by preponderant power,
Germany had to be weakened economically, for her subjugation could never
be secure if she were permitted to maintain an elaborate, nationally
organised economic machinery, which not only gives immense powers of
production, capable without great difficulty of being transformed to the
production of military material, but which, through the organisation of
foreign trade, gives influence in countries like Russia, the Balkans,
the Near and Far East.

So part of the policy of Versailles, reflected in the clauses of the
Treaty already dealt with, was to check the economic recovery of Germany
and more particularly to prevent economic co-operation between that
country and Russia. That Russia should become a 'German Colony' was a
nightmare that haunted the minds of the French peace-makers.[53]

But, as we have already seen, to prevent the economic co-operation of
Germany and Russia meant the perpetuation of the economic paralysis of
Europe. Combined with the maintenance of the blockade it would
certainly have meant utter and perhaps irretrievable collapse.

Perhaps the Allies at the beginning of 1919 were in no mood to be
greatly disturbed by the prospect. But they soon learned that it had a
very close bearing both on the aims which they had set before themselves
in the Treaty and, indeed, on the very problem of maintaining military

In theory, of course, an army of occupation should live on the occupied
country. But it soon became evident that it was quite out of the
question to collect even the cost of the armies for the limited
occupation of the Rhine territories from a country whose industrial life
was paralysed by blockade. Moreover, the costs of the German occupation
were very sensibly increased by the fact of the Russian blockade.
Deprived of Russian wheat and other products, the cost of living in
Western Europe was steadily rising, the social unrest was in consequence
increasing, and it was vitally necessary, if something like the old
European life was to be restored, that production should be restarted as
rapidly as possible. We found that a blockade of Russia which cut off
Russian foodstuffs from Western Europe, was also a blockade of
ourselves. But the blockade, as we have seen, was not the only economic
device used as a part of military pressure: the old economic nerves
between Germany and her neighbours had been cut out and the creeping
paralysis of Europe was spreading in every direction. There was not a
belligerent State on the Continent of Europe that was solvent in the
strict sense of the term--able, that is, to discharge its obligations in
the gold money in which it had contracted them. All had resorted to the
shifts of paper--fictitious--money, and the debacle of the exchanges was
already setting in. Whence were to come the costs of the forces and
armies of occupation necessitated by the policy of complete conquest of
Russia and Germany at the same time?

When, therefore (according to a story current at the time), President
Wilson, following the announcement that France stood for the military
coercion of Russia, asked each Ally in turn how many troops and how much
of the cost it would provide, each replied: 'None.' It was patent,
indeed, that the resources of an economically paralysed Western Europe
were not adequate to this enterprise. A half-way course was adopted.
Britain supplied certain counter-revolutionary generals with a very
considerable quantity of surplus stores, and a few military missions;
France adopted the policy of using satellite States--Poland, Rumania,
and even Hungary--as her tools. The result we know.

Meantime, the economic and financial situation at home (in France and
Italy) was becoming desperate. France needed coal, building material,
money. None of these things could be obtained from a blockaded,
starving, and restless Germany. One day, doubtless, Germany will be able
to pay for the armies of occupation; but it will be a Germany whose
workers are fed and clothed and warmed, whose railways have adequate
rolling stock, whose fields are not destitute of machines, and factories
of coal and the raw materials of production. In other words, it will be
a strong and organised Germany, and, if occupied by alien troops, most
certainly a nationalist and hostile Germany, dangerous and difficult to
watch, however much disarmed.

But there was a further force which the Allied Governments found
themselves compelled to take into consideration in settling their
military policy at the time of the Armistice. In addition to the
economic and financial difficulties which compelled them to refrain from
large scale operations in Russia and perhaps in Germany; in addition to
the clash of rival nationalisms among the Allies, which was already
introducing such serious rifts into the Alliance, there was a further
element of weakness--revolutionary unrest, the 'Bolshevik' fever.

In December, 1918, the British Government was confronted by the refusal
of soldiers at Dover, who believed that they were being sent to Russia,
to embark. A month or two later the French Government was faced by a
naval mutiny at Odessa. American soldiers in Siberia refused to go into
action against the Russians. Still later, in Italy, the workers enforced
their decision not to handle munitions for Russia, by widespread
strikes. Whether the attempt to obtain troops in very large quantities
for a Russian war, involving casualties and sacrifices on a considerable
scale, would have meant at the beginning of 1919 military revolts, or
Communist, Spartacist, or Bolshevik revolutionary movements, or not, the
Governments were evidently not prepared to face the issue.

We have seen, therefore, that the blockade and the economic weakening of
our enemy are two-edged weapons, only of effective use within very
definite limits; that these limits in turn condition in some degree the
employment of more purely military instruments like the occupation of
hostile territory; and indeed condition the provision of the

The power basis of the Alliance, such as it is, has been, since the
Armistice, the naval power of England, exercised through the blockades,
and the military force of France exercised mainly through the management
of satellite armies. The British method has involved the greater
immediate cruelty (perhaps a greater extent and degree of suffering
imposed upon the weak and helpless than any coercive device yet
discovered by man) though the French has involved a more direct negation
of the aims for which the War was fought. French policy aims quite
frankly at the re-imposition of France's military hegemony of the
Continent. That aim will not be readily surrendered.

Owing to the division in Socialist and Labour ranks, to the growing fear
and dislike of 'confiscatory' legislation, by a peasant population and a
large _petit rentier_ class, conservative elements are bound to be
predominant in France for a long time. Those elements are frankly
sceptical of any League of Nations device. A League of Nations would
rob them of what in the Chamber of Deputies a Nationalist called 'the
Right of Victory.' But the alternative to a League as a means of
security is military predominance, and France has bent her energies
since the Armistice to securing it. To-day, the military predominance of
France on the Continent is vastly greater than that of Germany ever was.
Her chief antagonist is not only disarmed--forbidden to manufacture
heavy artillery, tanks or fighting aircraft--but as we have seen, is
crippled in economic life by the loss of nearly all his iron and much of
his coal. France not only retains her armament, but is to-day spending
more upon it than before the War. The expenditure for the army in 1920
amounted to 5000 millions of francs, whereas in 1914 it was only 1200
millions. Translate this expenditure even with due regard to the changed
price level into terms of policy, and it means, _inter alia_, that the
Russo-Polish war and Feisal's deposition in Syria are burdens beyond her
capacity. And this is only the beginning. Within a few months France has
revived the full flower of the Napoleonic tradition so far as the use of
satellite military States is concerned. Poland is only one of many
instruments now being industriously fashioned by the artisans of the
French military renaissance. In the Ukraine, in Hungary, in
Czecho-Slovakia, in Rumania, in Yugo-Slavia; in Syria, Greece, Turkey,
and Africa, French military and financial organisers are at work.

M. Clemenceau, in one of his statements to the Chamber[54] on France's
future policy, outlined the method:--

     'We have said that we would create a system of barbed wire. There
     are places where it will have to be guarded to prevent Germany from
     passing. There are peoples like the Poles, of whom I spoke just
     now, who are fighting against the Soviets, who are resisting, who
     are in the van of civilisation. Well, we have decided ... to be
     the Allies of any people attacked by the Bolsheviks. I have spoken
     of the Poles, of the help that we shall certainly get from them in
     case of necessity. Well, they are fighting at this moment against
     the Bolsheviks, and if they are not equal to the task--but they
     will be equal to it--the help which we shall be able to give them
     in different ways, and which we are actually giving them,
     particularly in the form of military supplies and uniforms--that
     help will be continued. There is a Polish army, of which the
     greater part has been organised and instructed by French
     officers.... The Polish army must now be composed of from 450,000
     to 500,000 men. If you look on the map at the geographical
     situation of this military force, you will think that it is
     interesting from every point of view. There is a Czecho-Slovak
     army, which already numbers nearly 150,000 men, well equipped, well
     armed, and capable of sustaining all the tasks of war. Here is
     another factor on which we can count. But I count on many other
     elements. I count on Rumania.'

Since then Hungary has been added, part of the Hungarian plan being the
domination of Austria by Hungary, and, later, possibly the restoration
of an Austrian Monarchy, which might help to detach monarchical and
clerical Bavaria from Republican Germany.[55] This is the revival of the
old French policy of preventing the unification of the German
people.[56] It is that aspiration which largely explains recent French
sympathy for Clericalism and Monarchism and the reversal of the policy
heretofore pursued by the Third Republic towards the Vatican.

The systematic arming of African negroes reveals something of Napoleon's
leaning towards the military exploitation of servile races. We are
probably only at the beginning of the arming of Africa's black millions.
They are, of course, an extremely convenient military material. French
or British soldiers might have scruples against service in a war upon a
Workers' Republic. Cannibals from the African forest 'conscribed' for
service in Europe are not likely to have political or social scruples of
that kind. To bring some hundreds of thousands of these Africans to
Europe, to train them systematically to the use of European arms; to
teach them that the European is conquerable; to put them in the position
of victors over a vanquished European people--here indeed are
possibilities. With Senegalese negroes having their quarters in Goethe's
house, and placed, if not in authority, at least as the instruments of
authority over the population of a European university city; and with
the Japanese imposing their rule upon great stretches of what was
yesterday a European Empire (and our Ally) a new page may well have
opened for Europe.

But just consider the chances of stability for power based on the
assumption of continued co-operation of a number of 'intense'
nationalisms, each animated by its sacred egoisms. France has turned to
this policy as a substitute for the alliance of two or three great
States, which national feeling and conflicting interests have driven
apart. Is this collection of mushroom republics to possess a stability
to which the Entente could not attain?

One looks over the list. We have, it is true, after a century, the
re-birth of Poland, a great and impressive case of the vindication of
national right. But Poland, yesterday the victim of the imperialist
oppressor, has, herself, almost in a few hours, as it were, acquired an
imperialism of her own. The Pole assures us that his nationality can
only be secure if he is given dominion over territories with largely
non-Polish populations; if, that is, some fifteen millions of Ruthenes,
Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Russians, are deprived of a separate national
existence. Italy, it is true, is now fully redeemed; but that redemption
involves the 'irredentism' of large numbers of German Tyrolese,
Yugo-Slavs, and Greeks. The new Austria is forbidden to federate with
the main branch of the race to which her people belong--though
federation alone can save them from physical extinction. The
Czecho-Slovak nation is now achieved, but only at the expense of a
German unredeemed population larger numerically than that of
Alsace-Lorraine. And Slovaks and Czechs already quarrel--many foresee
the day when the freed State will face its own rebels. The Slovenes and
Croats and the Serbs do not yet make a 'nationality,' and threaten to
fight one another as readily as they would fight the Bulgarians they
have annexed in Bulgarian Macedonia. Rumania has marked her redemption
by the inclusion of considerable Hungarian, Bulgarian, and Serbian
'irredentisms' within her new borders. Finland, which with Poland
typified for so long the undying struggle for national right, is to-day
determined to coerce the Swedes on the Aaland Islands and the Russians
on the Carelian Territory. Greek rule of Turks has already involved
retaliatory, punitive, or defensive measures which have needed Blue Book
explanation. Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaidjan have not yet acquired
their subject nationalities.

The prospect of peace and security for these nationalities may be
gathered in some measure by an enumeration of the wars which have
actually broken out since the Peace Conference met in Paris, for the
appeasement of Europe. The Poles have fought in turn, the
Czecho-Slovaks, the Ukrainians, the Lithuanians, and the Russians. The
Ukrainians have fought the Russians and the Hungarians. The Finns have
fought the Russians, as have also the Esthonians and the Letts. The
Esthonians and Letts have also fought the Baltic Germans. The Rumanians
have fought Hungary. The Greeks have fought the Bulgarians and are at
present in 'full dress' war with the Turks. The Italians have fought the
Albanians, and the Turks in Asia Minor. The French have been fighting
the Arabs in Syria and the Turks in Cilicia. The various British
expeditions or missions, naval or military, in Archangel, Murmansk, the
Baltic, the Crimea, Persia, Siberia, Turkestan, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor,
the Soudan, or in aid of Koltchak, Denikin, Yudenitch, or Wrangel, are
not included in this list as not arising in a strict sense perhaps out
of nationality problems.

Let us face what all this means in the alignment of power in the world.
The Europe of the Grand Alliance is a Europe of many nationalities:
British, French, Italian, Rumanian, Polish, Czecho-Slovak, Yugo-Slav,
Greek, Belgian, Magyar, to say nothing of the others. None of these
States exceeds greatly forty millions of people, and the populations of
most are very much less. But the rival group of Germany and Russia,
making between them over two hundred millions, comprises just two great
States. And contiguous to them, united by the ties of common hatreds,
lie the Mahomedan world and China. Prusso-Slavdom (combining racial
elements having common qualities of amenity to autocratic discipline)
might conceivably give a lead to Chinese and other Asiatic millions,
brought to hate the West. The opposing group is a Balkanised Europe of
irreconcilable national rivalries, incapable, because of those
rivalries, of any prolonged common action, and taking a religious pride
in the fact of this incapacity to agree. Its moral leaders, or many of
them, certainly its powerful and popular instrument of education, the
Press, encourage this pugnacity, regarding any effort towards its
restraint or discipline as political atheism; deepening the tradition
which would make 'intense' nationalism a noble, virile, and inspiring
attitude, and internationalism something emasculate and despicable.

We talk of the need of 'protecting European civilisation' from hostile
domination, German or Russian. It is a danger. Other great civilisations
have found themselves dominated by alien power. Seeley has sketched for
us the process by which a vast country with two or three hundred million
souls, not savage or uncivilised but with a civilisation, though
descending along a different stream of tradition, as real and ancient as
our own, came to be utterly conquered and subdued by a people, numbering
less than twelve millions, living on the other side of the world. It
reversed the teaching of history which had shown again and again that it
was impossible really to conquer an intelligent people alien in
tradition from its invaders. The whole power of Spain could not in
eighty years conquer the Dutch provinces with their petty population.
The Swiss could not be conquered. At the very time when the conquest of
India's hundreds of millions was under way, the English showed
themselves wholly unable to reduce to obedience three millions of their
own race in America. What was the explanation? The Inherent Superiority
of the Anglo-Saxon Stock?

For long we were content to draw such a flattering conclusion and leave
it at that, until Seeley pointed out the uncomfortable fact that the
great bulk of the forces used in the conquest of India were not British
at all. They were Indian. India was conquered for Great Britain by the
natives of India.

     'The nations of India (says Seeley) have been conquered by an army
     of which, on the average, about a fifth part was English. India can
     hardly be said to have been conquered at all by foreigners; she was
     rather conquered by herself. If we were justified, which we are
     not, in personifying India as we personify France or England, we
     could not describe her as overwhelmed by a foreign enemy; we should
     rather have to say that she elected to put an end to anarchy by
     submitting to a single government, even though that government were
     in the hands of foreigners.'[57]

In other words, India is an English possession because the peoples of
India were incapable of cohesion, the nations of India incapable of

The peoples of India include some of the best fighting stock in the
world. But they fought one another: the pugnacity and material power
they personified was the force used by their conquerors for their

I will venture to quote what I wrote some years ago touching Seeley's

     'Our successful defeat of tyranny depends upon such a development
     of the sense of patriotism among the democratic nations that it
     will attach itself rather to the conception of the unity of all
     free co-operative societies, than to the mere geographical and
     racial divisions; a development that will enable it to organise
     itself as a cohesive power for the defence of that ideal, by the
     use of all the forces, moral and material, which it wields.

'That unity is impossible on the basis of the old policies, the European
statecraft of the past. For that assumes a condition of the world in
which each State must look for its national security to its own isolated
strength; and such assumption compels each member, as a measure of
national self-preservation, and so justifiably, to take precaution
against drifting into a position of inferior power, compels it, that is,
to enter into a competition for the sources of strength--territory and
strategic position. Such a condition will inevitably, in the case of any
considerable alliance, produce a situation in which some of its members
will be brought into conflict by claims for the same territory. In the
end, that will inevitably disrupt the Alliance.

'The price of the preservation of nationality is a workable
internationalism. If this latter is not possible then the smaller
nationalities are doomed. Thus, though internationalism may not be in
the case of every member of the Alliance the object of war, it is the
condition of its success.'



In the preceding chapter attention has been called to a phenomenon which
is nothing short of a 'moral miracle' if our ordinary reading of war
psychology is correct. The phenomenon in question is the very definite
and sudden worsening of Anglo-American relations, following upon common
suffering on the same battle-fields, our soldiers fighting side by side;
an experience which we commonly assume should weld friendship as nothing
else could.[58]

This miracle has its replica within the nation itself: intense
industrial strife, class warfare, revolution, embittered rivalries,
following upon a war which in its early days our moralists almost to a
man declared at least to have this great consolation, that it achieved
the moral unity of the nation. Pastor and poet, statesman and professor
alike rejoiced in this spiritual consolidation which dangers faced in
common had brought about. Never again was the nation to be riven by the
old differences. None was now for party and all were for the State. We
had achieved the '_union sacrée_' ... 'duke's son, cook's son.' On this
ground alone many a bishop has found (in war time) the moral
justification of war.[59]

Now no one can pretend that this sacred union has really survived the
War. The extraordinary contrast between the disunity with which we
finish war and the unity with which we begin it, is a disturbing thought
when we recollect that the country cannot always be at war, if only
because peace is necessary as a preparation for war, for the creation of
things for war to destroy. It becomes still more disturbing when we add
to this post-war change another even more remarkable, which will be
dealt with presently: the objects for which at the beginning of a war we
are ready to die--ideals like democracy, freedom from military
regimentation and the suppression of military terrorism, the rights of
small nations--are things about which at the end of the War we are
utterly indifferent. It would seem either that these are not the things
that really stirred us--that our feelings had some other unsuspected
origin--or that war has destroyed our feeling for them.

Note this juxtaposition of events. We have had in Europe millions of men
in every belligerent country showing unfathomable capacity for
disinterested service. Millions of youngsters--just ordinary folk--gave
the final and greatest sacrifice without hesitation and without
question. They faced agony, hardship, death, with no hope or promise of
reward save that of duty discharged. And, very rightly, we acclaim them
as heroes. They have shown without any sort of doubt that they are
ready to die for their country's cause or for some even greater
cause--human freedom, the rights of a small nation, democracy, or the
principle of nationality, or to resist a barbarous morality which can
tolerate the making of unprovoked war for a monarchy's ambition or the
greed of an autocratic clique.

And, indeed, whatever our final conclusion, the spectacle of vast
sacrifices so readily made is, in its ultimate meaning one of infinite
inspiration and hope. But the War's immediate sequel puts certain
questions to us that we cannot shirk. For note what follows.

After some years the men who could thus sacrifice themselves, return
home--to Italy, or France, or Britain--and exchange khaki for the
miner's overall or the railway worker's uniform. And it would then seem
that at that moment their attitude to their country and their country's
attitude to them undergo a wonderful change. They are ready--so at least
we are told by a Press which for five years had spoken of them daily as
heroes, saints, and gentlemen--through their miners' or railway Unions
to make war upon, instead of for, that community which yesterday they
served so devotedly. Within a few months of the close of this War which
was to unify the nation as it had never been unified before (the story
is the same whichever belligerent you may choose) there appear divisions
and fissures, disruptions and revolutions, more disturbing than have
been revealed for generations.

Our extreme nervousness about the danger of Bolshevist propaganda shows
that we believe that these men, yesterday ready to die for their
country, are now capable of exposing it to every sort of horror.

Or take another aspect of it. During the War fashionable ladies by
thousands willingly got up at six in the morning to scrub canteen floors
or serve coffee, in order to add to the comfort of their working-class
countrymen--in khaki. They did this, one assumes, from the love of
countrymen who risked their lives and suffered hardship in the
execution of duty. It sounds satisfactory until the same countryman
ceases fighting and turns to extremely hard and hazardous duties like
mining, or fishing in winter-time in the North Sea. The ladies will no
longer scrub floors or knit socks for him. They lose all real interest
in him. But if it was done originally from 'love of fellow-countrymen,'
why this cessation of interest? He is the same man. Into the psychology
of that we shall inquire a little more fully later. The phenomenon is
explained here in the conviction that its cause throws light upon the
other phenomenon equally remarkable, namely, that victory reveals a most
astonishing post-war indifference to those moral and ideal ends for
which we believed we were fighting. Is it that they never were our real
aims at all, or that war has wrought a change in our nature with
reference to them?

The importance of knowing what really moves us is obvious enough. If our
potential power is to stand for the protection of any principle--nationality
or democracy--that object must represent a real purpose, not a
convenient clothing for a quite different purpose. The determination
to defend nationality can only be permanent if our feeling for it
is sufficiently deep and sincere to survive in the competition of
other moral 'wishes.' Where has the War, and the complex of desires
it developed, left our moral values? And, if there has been a
re-valuation, why?

The Allied world saw clearly that the German doctrine--the right of a
powerful State to deny national independence to a smaller State, merely
because its own self-preservation demanded it--was something which
menaced nationality and right. The whole system by which, as in Prussia,
the right of the people to challenge the political doctrines of the
Government was denied (as by a rigorous control of press and education),
was seen to be incompatible with the principles upon which free
government in the West has been established. All this had to be
destroyed in order that the world might be made 'safe for democracy.'
The trenches in Flanders became 'the frontiers of freedom.' To uphold
the rights of small nations, freedom of speech and press, to punish
military terror, to establish an international order based on right as
against might--these were things for which free men everywhere should
gladly die. They did die, in millions. Nowhere so much, perhaps, as in
America were these ideals the inspiration which brought that country
into the War. She had nothing to gain territorially or materially. If
ever the motive to war was an ideal motive, America's was.

Then comes the Peace. And the America which had discarded her tradition
of isolation to send two million soldiers on the European continent, 'at
the call of the small nation,' was asked to co-operate with others in
assuring the future security of Belgium, in protecting the small States
by the creation of some international order (the only way in which they
ever can be effectively protected); to do it in another form for a small
nation that has suffered even more tragically than Belgium, Armenia;
definitely to organise in peace that cause for which she went to war.
And then a curious discovery is made. A cause which can excite immense
passion when it is associated with war, is simply a subject for boredom
when it becomes a problem of peace-time organisation. America will give
lavishly of the blood of her sons to fight for the small nations; she
will not be bothered with mandates or treaties in order to make it
unnecessary to fight for them. It is not a question whether the
particular League of Nations established at Paris was a good one. The
post-war temper of America is that she does not want to be bothered with
Europe at all: talk about its security makes the American public of 1920
irritable and angry. Yet millions were ready to die for freedom in
Europe two years ago! A thing to die for in 1918 is a thing to yawn
over, or to be irritable about, when the war is done.

Is America alone in this change of feeling about the small State?
Recall all that we wrote and talked about the sacredness of the rights
of small nations--and still in certain cases talk and write. There is
Poland. It is one of the nations whose rights are sacred--to-day. But in
1915 we acquiesced in an arrangement by which Poland was to be
delivered, bound hand and foot, at the end of the war, to its worst and
bitterest enemy, Czarist Russia. The Alliance (through France, to-day
the 'protector of Poland') undertook not to raise any objection to any
policy that the Czar's Government might inaugurate in Poland. It was to
have a free hand. A secret treaty, it will be urged, about which the
public knew nothing? We were fighting to liberate the world from
diplomatic autocracies using their peoples for unknown and unavowed
purposes. But the fact that we were delivering over Poland to the
mercies of a Czarist Government was not secret. Every educated man knew
what Russian policy under the Czarist Government would be, must be, in
Poland. Was the Russian record with reference to Poland such that the
unhampered discretion of the Czarist Government was deemed sufficient
guarantee of Polish independence? Did we honestly think that Russia had
proved herself more liberal in the treatment of the Poles than Austria,
whose Government we were destroying? The implication, of course, flew in
the face of known facts: Austrian rule over the Poles, which we proposed
to destroy, had proved itself immeasurably more tolerant than the
Russian rule which we proposed to re-enforce and render more secure.

And there were Finland and the Border States. If Russia had remained in
the War, 'loyal to the cause of democracy and the rights of small
nations,' there would have been no independent Poland, or Finland, or
Esthonia, or Georgia; and the refusal of our Ally to recognise their
independence would not have disturbed us in the least.

Again, there was Serbia, on behalf of whose 'redemption' in a sense, the
War began. An integral part of that 'redemption' was the inclusion of
the Dalmatian coast in Serbia--the means of access of the new Southern
Slav State to the sea. Italy, for naval reasons, desired possession of
that coast, and, without informing Serbia, we undertook to see that
Italy should get it. (Italy, by the way, also entered the War on behalf
of the principle of Nationality.)[60]

It is not to be supposed, however, that the small State itself, however
it may declaim about 'liberty or death,' has, when the opportunity to
assert power presents itself, any greater regard for the rights of
nationality--in other people. Take Poland. For a hundred and fifty years
Poland has called upon Heaven to witness the monstrous wickedness of
denying to a people its right to self-determination; of forcing a people
under alien rule. After a hundred and fifty years of the martyrdom of
alien rule, Poland acquires its freedom. That freedom is not a year old
before Poland itself becomes in temper as imperialistic as any State in
Europe. It may be bankrupt, racked with typhus and famine, split by
bitter factional quarrels, but the one thing upon which all Poles will
unite is in the demand for dominion over some fifteen millions of
people, not merely non-Polish, but bitterly anti-Polish. Although Poland
is perhaps the worst case, all the new small States show a similar
disposition: Czecho-Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Rumania, Finland, Greece, have
all now their own imperialism, limited only, apparently, by the extent
of their power. All these people have fought for the right to national
independence; there is not one that is not denying the right to national
independence. If every Britain has its Ireland, every Ireland has its

But is this belief in Nationality at all? What should we have thought of
a Southerner of the old Slave States fulminating against the crime of
slavery? Should we have thought his position any more logical if he had
explained that he was opposed to slavery because he did not want to
become a slave? The test of his sincerity would have been, not the
conduct he exacted of others, but the conduct he proposed to follow
towards others. 'One is a Nationalist,' says Professor Corradini, one of
the prophets of Italian _sacro egoismo_, 'while waiting to be able to
become an Imperialist.' He prophesies that in twenty years 'all Italy
will be Imperialist.'[61]

       *       *       *       *       *

The last thing intended here is any excuse of German violence by a
futile _tu quoque_. But what it is important to know, if we are to
understand the real motives of our conduct--and unless we do, we cannot
really know where our conduct is leading us, where we are going--is
whether we really cared about the 'moral aims of war,' the things for
which we thought we were willing to die. Were we not as a matter of fact
fighting--and dying--for something else?

Test the nature of our feelings by what was after all perhaps the most
dramatised situation in the whole drama: the fact that in the Western
world a single man, or a little junta of military chiefs, could by a
word send nations into war, millions to their death; and--worse still in
a sense--that those millions would accept the fact of thus being made
helpless pawns, and with appalling docility, without question, kill and
be killed for reasons they did not even know. It must be made impossible
ever again for half a dozen Generals or Cabinet Ministers thus to play
with nations and men and women as with pawns.

The War is at last over. And in Eastern Europe, the most corrupt, as it
was one of the potentially most powerful of all the military
autocracies--that of the Czar--has either gone to pieces from its own
rottenness, or been destroyed by the spontaneous uprising of the people.
Bold experiments, in entirely new social and economic methods, are
attempted in this great community which may have so much to teach the
Western world, experiments which challenge not only old political
institutions, but old economic ones as well. But the men who were the
Czar's Ministers are still in Paris and London, in close but secret
confabulation with Allied Governments.

And one morning we find that we are at war with the first Workers'
Republic of the world, the first really to try a great social
experiment. There had been no declaration, no explanation. President
Wilson had, indeed, said that nothing would induce the Allies to
intervene. Their behaviour on that point would be the 'acid test' of
sincerity. But in Archangel, Murmansk, Vladivostock, the Crimea, on the
Polish border, on the shores of the Caspian, our soldiers were killing
Russians, or organising their killing; our ships sank Russian ships and
bombarded Russian cities. We found that we were supporting the Royalist
parties--military leaders who did not hide in the least their intention
to restore the monarchy. But again, there is no explanation. But
somewhere, for some purpose undefined, killing has been proclaimed. And
we kill--and blockade and starve.

The killing and blockading are not the important facts. Whatever may be
behind the Russian business, the most disturbing portent is the fact
which no one challenges and which indeed is most generally offered as a
sort of defence. It is this: Nobody knows what the policy of the
Government in Russia is, or was. It is commonly said they had no policy.
Certainly it was changeable. That means that the Government does not
need to give an explanation in order to start upon a war which may
affect the whole future form of Western society. They did not have to
explain because nobody particularly cared. Commands for youths to die in
wars of unknown purpose do not strike us as monstrous when the commands
are given by our own Governments--Governments which notoriously we do
not trouble to control. Public opinion as a whole did not have any
intense feeling about the Russian war, and not the slightest as to
whether we used poison gas, or bombarded Russian cathedrals, or killed
Russian civilians. We did not want it to be expensive, and Mr Churchill
promised that if it cost too much he would drop it. He admitted finally
that it was unnecessary by dropping it. But it was not important enough
for him to resign over. And as for bringing anybody to trial for it, or
upsetting the monarchy....[62]

There is another aspect of our feeling about the Prussian tendencies and
temper, to rid the world of which we waged the War.

All America (or Britain, for that matter: America is only a striking and
so a convenient example) knew that the Bismarckian persecution of the
Socialists, the imprisonment of Bebel, of Liebknecht, the prosecution of
newspapers for anti-militarist doctrines, the rigid control of
education, by the Government, were just the natural prelude to what
ended in Louvain and Aerschot, to the shooting down of the civilians of
an invaded country. Again, that was why Prussia had to be destroyed in
the interest of human freedom and the safety of democracy. The
newspapers, the professors, the churches, were telling us all this
endlessly for five years. Within a year of the end of the War, America
is engaged in an anti-Socialist campaign more sweeping, more ruthless,
by any test which you care to apply--the numbers arrested, the severity
of the sentences imposed, the nature of the offences alleged--than
anything ever attempted by Bismarck or the Kaiser. Old men of seventy
(one selected by the Socialist party as Presidential Candidate), young
girls, college students, are sent to prison with sentences of ten,
fifteen, or twenty years. The elected members of State Legislatures are
not allowed to sit, on the ground of their Socialist opinions. There are
deportations in whole shiploads. If one takes the Espionage Act and
compares it with any equivalent German legislation (the tests applied to
school teachers or the refusal of mailing privileges to Socialist
papers), one finds that the general principle of control of political
opinion by the Government, and the limitations imposed upon freedom of
discussion, and the Press, are certainly pushed further by the post-war
America than they were by the pre-war Germany--the Germany that had to
be destroyed for the precise reason that the principle of government by
free discussion was more valuable than life itself.

And as to military terrorism. Americans can see--scores of American
papers are saying it every day--that the things defended by the British
Government in Ireland are indistinguishable from what brought upon
Germany the wrath of Allied mankind. But they do not even know and
certainly would not care if they did know, that American marines in
Hayti--a little independent State that might one day become the hope and
symbol of a subject nationality, an unredeemed race that has suffered
and does suffer more at American hands than Pole or Alsatian ever
suffered at German hands--have killed ten times as many Haytians as the
Black and Tans have killed Irish. Nor for that matter do Americans know
that every week there takes place in their own country--as there has
taken place week after week in the years of peace for half a
century--atrocities more ferocious than any which are alleged against
even the British or the German. Neither of the latter burn alive,
weekly, untried fellow-countrymen with a regularity that makes the thing
an institution.

If indeed it was the militarism, the terrorism, the crude assertion of
power, the repressions of freedom, which made us hate the German, why
are we relatively indifferent when all those evils raise their heads,
not far away, among a people for whom after all we are not responsible,
but at home, near to us, where we have some measure of responsibility?

For indifferent in some measure to those near-by evils we all are.

The hundred million people who make up America include as many kindly,
humane, and decent folk as any other hundred million anywhere in the
world. They have a habit of carrying through extraordinary and unusual
measures--like Prohibition. Yet nothing effective has been done about
lynching, for which the world holds them responsible, any more than we
have done anything effective about Ireland, for which the world holds us
responsible. Their evil may one day land them in a desperate 'subject
nationality' problem, just as our Irish problem lands us in political
difficulty the world over. Yet neither they nor we can manage to achieve
one-tenth of the emotional interest in our own atrocity or oppression,
which we managed in a few weeks to achieve in war-time over the German
barbarities in Belgium. If we could--if every schoolboy and maid-servant
felt as strongly over Balbriggan or Amritsar as they felt over the
_Lusitania_ and Louvain--our problem would be solved; whereas the action
and policy which arose out of our feeling about Louvain did not solve
the evil of military terrorism. It merely made it nearly universal.

It brings us back to the original question. Is it mainly, or at all, the
cruelty or the danger of oppression which moves us, which is at the
bottom of our flaming indignation over the crimes of the enemy?

We believed that we were fighting because of a passionate feeling for
self-rule; for freedom of discussion, of respect for the rights of
others, particularly the weak; the hatred of the mere pride of power out
of which oppression grows; of the regimentation of minds which is its
instrument. But after the War we find that in truth we have no
particular feeling about the things we fought to make impossible. We
rather welcome them, if they are a means of harassing people that we do
not happen to like. We get the monstrous paradox that the very
tendencies which it was the object of the War to check, are the very
tendencies that have acquired an elusive power in our own
country--possibly as the direct result of the War!

Perhaps if we examine in some detail the process of the break-up after
war, within the nation, of the unity which marked it during war, we may
get some explanation of the other change just indicated.

The unity on which we congratulated ourselves was for a time a fact. But
just as certainly the patriotism which prompted the duchess to scrub
floors was not simply love of her countrymen, or it would not suddenly
cease when the war came to an end. The self-same man who in khaki was a
hero to be taken for drives in the duchess's motor-car, became as
workman--a member of some striking union, say--an object of hostility
and dislike. The psychology revealed here has a still more curious

When in war-time we read of the duke's son and the cook's son peeling
potatoes into the same tub, we regard this aspect of the working of
conscription as something in itself fine and admirable, a real national
comradeship in common tasks at last. Colonel Roosevelt orates; our
picture papers give us photographs; the country thrills to this note of
democracy. But when we learn that for the constructive purposes of
peace--for street-cleaning--the Soviet Government has introduced
precisely this method and compelled the sons of Grand Dukes to shovel
snow beside common workmen, the same papers give the picture as an
example of the intolerable tyranny of socialism, as a warning of what
may happen in England if the revolutionists are listened to. That for
years that very thing _had_ been happening in England for the purposes
of war, that we were extremely proud of it, and had lauded it as
wholesome discipline and a thing which made conscription fine and
democratic, is something that we are unable even to perceive, so strong
and yet so subtle are the unconscious factors of opinion. This peculiar
psychological twist explains, of course, several things: why we are all
socialists for the purposes of war, and why socialism can then give
results which nothing else could give; why we cannot apply the same
methods successfully to peace; and why the economic miracles possible in
war are not possible in peace. And the outcome is that forces,
originally social and unifying, are at present factors only of
disruption and destruction, not merely internationally, but, as we shall
see presently, nationally as well.

When the accomplishment of certain things--the production of shells, the
assembling of certain forces, the carriage of cargoes--became a matter
of life and death, we did not argue about nationalisation or socialism;
we put it into effect, and it worked. There existed for war a will which
found a way round all the difficulties of credit adjustment,
distribution, adequate wages, unemployment, incapacitation. We could
take over the country's railways and mines, control its trade, ration
its bread, and decide without much discussion that those things were
indispensable for its purposes. But we can do none of these things for
the upbuilding of the country in peace time. The measures to which we
turn when we feel that the country must produce or perish, are precisely
the measures which, when the war is over, we declare are the least
likely to get anything done at all. We could make munitions; we cannot
make houses. We could clothe and feed our soldiers and satisfy all their
material wants; we cannot do that for the workers. Unemployment in
war-time was practically unknown; the problem of unemployment in peace
time seems beyond us. Millions go unclothed; thousands of workers who
could make clothes are without employment. One speaks of the sufferings
of the army of poverty as though they were dispensations of heaven. We
did not speak thus of the needs of soldiers in war-time. If soldiers
wanted uniforms and wool was obtainable, weavers did not go unemployed.
Then there existed a will and common purpose. That will and common
purpose the patriotism of peace-time cannot give us.

Yet, again, we cannot always be at war. Women must have time and
opportunity to bear and to bring up children, and men to build up a
country-side, if only in order to have men for war to slay and things
for war to destroy. Patriotism fails as a social cement within the
nation at peace, it fails as a stimulus to its constructive tasks; and
as between nations, we know it acts as a violent irritant and disruptive

We need not question the genuineness of the emotion which moves our
duchess when she knits socks for the dear boys in the trenches--or when
she fulminates against the same dear boys as working men when they come
home. As soldiers she loved them because her hatred of Germans--that
atrocious, hostile 'herd'--was deep and genuine. She felt like killing
Germans herself. Consequently, to those who risked their lives to fulfil
this wish of hers, her affections went out readily enough. But why
should she feel any particular affection for men who mine coal, or
couple railway trucks, or catch fish in the North Sea? Dangerous as are
those tasks, they are not visibly and intimately related to her own
fierce emotions. The men performing them are just workpeople, the
relation of whose labour to her own life is not, perhaps, always very
clear. The suggestion that she should scrub floors or knit socks for
_them_ would appear to her as merely silly or offensive.

But unfortunately the story does not end there. During these years of
war her very genuine emotions of hate were fed and nourished by war
propaganda; her emotional hunger was satisfied in some measure by the
daily tale of victories over the enemy. She had, as it were, ten
thousand Germans for breakfast every morning. And when the War stopped,
certainly something went out of her life. No one would pretend that
these flaming passions of five years went for so little in her emotional
experience that they could just be dropped from one day to another
without something going unsatisfied.

And then she cannot get coal; her projected journey to the Riviera is
delayed by a railway strike; she has troubles with servants; faces a
preposterous super-tax and death duties; an historical country seat can
no longer be maintained and old associations must be broken up; Labour
threatens revolution--or her morning paper says it does; Labour leaders
say grossly unfair things about dukes. Here, indeed, is a new hostility,
a new enemy tribe, on which the emotions cultivated so assiduously
during five years, but hungry and unfed since the War, can once more
feed and find some satisfaction. The Bolshevist, or the Labour agitator,
takes the place of the Hun; the elements of enmity and disruption are
already present.

And something similar takes place with the miner, or labour man, in
reference to the duchess and what she stands for. For him also the main
problem of life had resolved itself during the War into something simple
and emotional; an enemy to be fought and overcome. Not a puzzling
intellectual difficulty, with all the hesitations and uncertainties of
intellectual decision dependent upon sustained mental effort. The
rights and wrongs were settled for him; right was our side, wrong the
enemy's. What we had to do was to crush him. That done, it would be a
better world, his country 'a land fit for heroes to live in.'

On return from the War he does not find quite that. He can, for
instance, get no house fit to live in at all. High prices, precarious
employment. What is wrong? There are fifty theories, all puzzling. As to
housing, he is sometimes told it is his own fault; the building unions
won't permit dilution. When the 'high-brows' are all at sixes and
sevens, what is a man to think? But it is suggested to him that behind
all this is one enemy: the Capitalist. His papers have a picture of him:
very like the Hun. Now here is something emotionally familiar. For years
he has learned to hate and fight, to embody all problems in the one
problem of fighting some definite--preferably personified--enemy. Smash
him; get him by the throat, and then all these brain-racking puzzles
will clear themselves up. Our side, our class, our tribe, will then be
on top, and there will be no real solution until it is. To this respond
all the emotions, the whole state of feeling which years of war have
cultivated. Once more the problem of life is simple; one of power,
domination, the fight for mastery; loyalty to our side, our lot, 'right
or wrong.' Workers to be masters, workers who have been shoved and
ordered about, to do the shoving and the ordering. Dictatorship of the
proletariat. The headaches disappear and one can live emotionally free
once more.

There are 'high-brows' who will even philosophise the thing for him, and
explain that only the psychology of war and violence will give the
emotional drive to get anything done; that only by the myths which mark
patriotism can real social change be made. Just as for the hate which
keeps war going, the enemy State must be a single 'person,' a
collectivity in which any one German can be killed as vengeance or
reprisal for any other,[63] so 'the capitalist class' must be a
personality, if class hatred is to be kept alive in such a way as to
bring the class war to victory.

But that theory overlooks the fact that just as the nationalism which
makes war also destroys the Alliances by which victory can be made
effective, so the transfer of the psychology of Nationalism to the
industrial field has the same effect of Balkanisation. We get in both
areas, not the definite triumph of a cohesive group putting into
operation a clear-cut and understandable programme or policy, but the
chaotic conflict of an infinite number of groups unable to co-operate
effectively for any programme.

If the hostilities which react to the Syndicalistic appeal were confined
to the Capitalist, there might be something to be said for it from the
point of view of the Labour movement. But forces so purely instinctive,
by their very nature repelling the restraint of self-imposed discipline
by intelligent foresight of consequences, cannot be the servant of an
intelligent purpose, they become its master. The hostility becomes more
important than the purpose. To the industrial Jingo, as to the
nationalist Jingo, all foreigners are potential enemies. The hostile
tribe or herd may be constituted by very small differences; slight
variations of occupation, interest, race, speech, and--most potently of
all perhaps--dogma or belief. Heresy-hunting is, of course, one
manifestation of tribal animosity; and a heretic is the person who has
the insufferable impudence to disagree with us.

So the Sorelian philosophy of violence and instinctive pugnacity gives
us, not the effective drive of a whole movement against the present
social order (for that would require order, discipline, self-control,
tolerance, and toleration); it gives us the tendency to an infinite
splitting of the Labour movement. No sooner does the Left of some party
break off and found a new party than it is immediately confronted by its
own 'Leftism.' And your dogmatist hates the dissenting member of his own
sect more fiercely than the rival sect; your Communist some rival
Communism more bitterly than the Capitalist. Already the Labour movement
is crossed by the hostilities of Communist against Socialist, the Second
International against the Third, the Third against the Fourth; Trades
Unionism by the hostility of skilled against unskilled, and in much of
Europe there is also the conflict of town against country.

This tendency has happily not yet gone far in England; but here, as
elsewhere, it represents the one great danger, the tendency to be
watched. And it is a tendency that has its moral and psychological roots
in the same forces which have given us the chaos in the international
field: The deep human lust for coercion, domination; the irksomeness of
toleration, thought, self-discipline.

The final difficulty in social and political discussion is, of course,
the fact that the ultimate values--what is the highest good, what is the
worst evil--cannot usually be argued about at all; you accept them, you
see that they are good or bad as the case may be, or you don't.

Yet we cannot organise a society save on the basis of some sort of
agreement concerning these least common denominators; the final argument
for the view that Western Europe had to destroy German Prussianism was
that the system challenged certain ultimate moral values common to
Western society. On the morrow of the sinking of the _Lusitania_ an
American writer pointed out that if the cold-blooded slaughter of
innocent women and children were accepted as a normal incident of war,
like any other, the whole moral standards of the West would then
definitely be placed on another plane. That elusive but immeasurably
important moral sense, which gives a society sufficient community of aim
to make common action possible, would have been radically altered. The
ancient world--highly civilised and cultured as much of it was--had a
_Sittlichkeit_ which made the chattel-slavery of the greater part of the
human race an entirely normal--and, as they thought, inevitable--condition
of things. It was accepted by the slaves themselves, and it was this
acquiescence in the arrangement by both parties to it which mainly
accounted for its continuance through a very long period of a very high
civilisation. The position of women illustrates the same thing. There
are to-day highly developed civilisations in which a man of education
buys a wife, or several, as in the West he would buy a racehorse. And
the wife, or wives, accept that situation; there can be no change in
that particular matter until certain quite 'unarguable' moral values
have altered in the minds of those concerned.

The American writer raised, therefore, an extremely important question
in relation to the War. Has its total outcome affected certain values of
the fundamental kind just indicated? What has been its effect upon
social impulses? Has it any direct relation to certain moral tendencies
that have succeeded it?

Perhaps the War is now old enough to enable us to face a few quite
undeniable facts with some measure of detachment.

When the Germans bombarded Scarborough early in the War, there was such
a hurricane of moralisation that one rejoiced that this War would not be
marked on our side, at least, by the bombardment of open cities. But
when our Press began to print reports of French bombs falling on circus
tents full of children, scores being killed, there was simply no protest
at all. And one of the humours of the situation was that after more than
a year, in which scores of such reports had appeared in the Press, some
journalistic genius began an agitation on behalf of 'reprisals' for air

At a time when it seemed doubtful whether the Germans would sign the
Treaty or not, and just what would be the form of the Hungarian
Government, the _Evening News_ printed the following editorial:--

     'It might take weeks or months to bring the Hungarian Bolshevists
     and recalcitrant Germans to book by extensive operations with
     large forces. It might take but a few days to bring them to reason
     by adequate use of aircraft.

     'Allied airmen could reach Buda-pest in a few hours, and teach its
     inhabitants such a lesson that Bolshevism would lose its
     attractions for them.

     'Strong Allied aerodromes on the Rhine and in Poland, well equipped
     with the best machines and pilots, could quickly persuade the
     inhabitants of the large German cities of the folly of having
     refused to sign the peace.

     'Those considerations are elementary. For that reason they may be
     overlooked. They are "milk for babes."'[65]

Now the prevailing thesis of the British, and particularly the
Northcliffe Press, in reference to Bolshevism, was that it is a form of
tyranny imposed by a cruel minority upon a helpless people. The proposal
amounts, therefore, either to killing civilians for a form of Government
which they cannot possibly help, or to an admission that Bolshevism has
the support of the populace, and that as the outcome of our war for
democracy we should refuse them the right to choose the government they

When the Germans bombarded Scarborough and dropped bombs on London, the
Northcliffe Press called Heaven to witness (_a_) that only fiends in
human form could make war on helpless civilian populations, women, and
children; (_b_) that not only were the Huns dastardly baby-killers for
making war in that fashion, but were bad psychologists as well, because
our anger at such unheard-of devilries would only render our resistance
more unconquerable than ever; and (_c_) that no consideration whatever
would induce English soldiers to blow women and children to pulp--unless
it were as a reprisal. Well, Lord Northcliffe proposed to _commence_ a
war against Hungarians (as it had already been commenced against the
Russians) by such a wholesale massacre of the civil population that a
Government, which he tells us is imposed upon them against their will,
may 'lose its attractions.' This would be, of course, the second edition
of the war waged to destroy militarist modes of thought, to establish
the reign of righteousness and the protection of the defenceless and the

The _Evening News_ is the paper, by the way, whose wrath became violent
when it learned that some Quakers and others were attempting to make
some provision for the children of interned Austrians and Germans. Those
guilty of such 'un-English' conduct as a little mercy and pity extended
to helpless children, were hounded in headlines day after day as
'Hun-coddlers,' traitors 'attempting to placate the Hun tiger by bits of
cake to its cubs'; and when the War is all over--a year after all the
fighting is stopped--a vicar of the English Church opposes, with
indignation, the suggestion that his parish should be contaminated by
'enemy' children brought from the famine area to save them from

On March 3, 1919, Mr Winston Churchill stated in the House of Commons,
speaking of the blockade:--

     ' ... This weapon of starvation falls mainly upon the women and
     children, upon the old and the weak and the poor, after all the
     fighting has stopped.'

One might take this as a prelude to a change of policy. Not at all: he
added that we were 'enforcing the blockade with rigour' and would
continue to do so.

Mr Churchill's indication as to how the blockade acts is important. We
spoke of it as 'punishment' for Germany's crimes, or Bolshevist
infamies, as the case may be. But it did not punish 'Germany' or the
Bolshevists.[67] Its penalties are in a peculiar degree unevenly
distributed. The country districts escape almost entirely, the peasants
can feed themselves. It falls on the cities. But even in the cities the
very wealthy and the official classes can as a rule escape. Virtually
its whole weight--as Mr Churchill implies--falls upon the urban poor,
and particularly the urban child population, the old, the invalids, the
sick. Whoever may be the parties responsible for the War, these are
guiltless. But it is these we punish.

Very soon after the Armistice there was ample evidence available as to
the effect of the blockade, both in Russia and in Central Europe.
Officers of our Army of Occupation reported that their men 'could not
stand' the spectacle of the suffering around them. Organisations like
the 'Save the Children Fund' devoted huge advertisements to
familiarising the public with the facts. Considerable sums for relief
were raised--but the blockade was maintained. There was no connection
between the two things--our foreign policy and the famine in Europe--in
the public mind. It developed a sort of moral shock absorber. Facts did
not reach it or disturb its serenity.

This was revealed in a curious way at the time of the signature of the
Treaty. At the gathering of the representatives, the German delegate
spoke sitting down. It turned out afterwards that he was so ill and
distraught, that he dared not trust himself to stand up. Every paper was
full of the incident, as also of the fact that the paper-cutter in front
of him on the table was found afterwards to be broken; that he placed
his gloves upon his copy of the Treaty; and that he had thrown away his
cigarette on entering the room. These were the offences which prompted
the _Daily Mail_ to say: 'After this no one will treat the Huns as
civilised or repentant.' Almost the entire Press rang with the story of
'Rantzau's insult.' But not one paper, so far as I could discover, paid
any attention to what Rantzau had said. He said:--

     'I do not want to answer by reproaches to reproaches.... Crimes in
     war may not be excusable, but they are committed in the struggle
     for victory and in the defence of national existence, and passions
     are aroused which make the conscience of peoples blunt. The
     hundreds of thousands of non-combatants who have perished since
     November 11 by reason of the blockade, were killed with cold
     deliberation, after our adversaries had conquered and victory had
     been assured them. Think of that when you speak of guilt and

No one seems to have noticed this trifle in presence of the heinousness
of the cigarette, the gloves, and the other crimes. Yet this was an
insult indeed. If true, it shamefully disgraces England--if England is
responsible. The public presumably simply did not care whether it was
true or not.

A few months after the Armistice I wrote as follows:--

     'When the Germans sank the _Lusitania_ and slew several hundred
     women and children, _we_ knew--at least we thought we knew--that
     that was the kind of thing which Englishmen could not do. In all
     the hates and stupidities, the dirt and heartbreaks of the war,
     there was just this light on the horizon: that there were certain
     things to which we at least could never fall, in the name of
     victory or patriotism, or any other of the deadly masked words that
     are "the unjust stewards of men's ideas."

     'And then we did it. We, too, sank _Lusitanias_. We, too, for some
     cold political end, plunged the unarmed, the weak, the helpless,
     the children, the suffering women, to agonising death and torture.
     Without a tremor. Not alone in the bombing of cities, which we did
     so much better than the enemy. For this we had the usual excuse. It
     was war.

     'But after the War, when the fighting was finished, the enemy was
     disarmed, his submarines surrendered, his aeroplanes destroyed, his
     soldiers dispersed; months afterwards, we kept a weapon which was
     for use first and mainly against the children, the weak, the sick,
     the old, the women, the mothers, the decrepit: starvation and
     disease. Our papers told us--our patriotic papers--how well it was
     succeeding. Correspondents wrote complacently, sometimes
     exultingly, of how thin and pinched were all the children, even
     those well into teens; how stunted, how defective, the next
     generation would be; and how the younger children, those of seven
     and eight, looked like children of three and four; and how those
     beneath this age simply did not live. Either they were born dead,
     or if they were born alive--what was there to give them? Milk? An
     unheard-of luxury. And nothing to wrap them in; even in hospitals
     the new-born children were wrapped in newspapers, the lucky ones in
     bits of sacking. The mothers were most fortunate when the children
     were born dead. In an insane asylum a mother wails: "If only I did
     not hear the cry of the children for food all day long, all day
     long!" To "bring Germany to reason" we had, you see, to drive
     mothers out of their reason.

     '"It would have been more merciful," said Bob Smillie, "to turn the
     machine-guns on those children." Put this question to yourself,
     patriot Englishmen: "Was the sinking of the _Lusitania_ as cruel,
     as prolonged, as mean, as merciless a death as this?" And we--you
     and I--do it every day, every night.

     'Here is the _Times_ of May 21, half a year after the cessation of
     war, telling the Germans that they do not know how much more severe
     we can still make the "domestic results" of starvation, if we
     really put our mind to it. To the blockade we shall add the
     "horrors of invasion." The invasion of a country already disarmed
     is to be marked--when we do it--by horror.

     'But the purpose! That justifies it! What purpose? To obtain the
     signature to the Treaty of Peace. Many Englishmen--not Pacifists,
     not sentimentalists, not conscientious objectors, or other vermin
     of that kind, but Bishops, Judges, Members of the House of Lords,
     great public educators. Tory editors--have declared that this
     Treaty is a monstrous injustice. Some Englishmen at least think so.
     But if the Germans say so, that becomes a crime which we shall know
     how to punish. "The enemy have been reminded already" says the
     _Times_, proud organ of British respectability, of Conservatism, of
     distinguished editors and ennobled proprietors, "that the machinery
     of the blockade can again be put into force at a few hours' notice
... the intention of the Allies to take military action if
     necessary.... Rejection of the Peace terms now offered them, will
     assuredly lead to fresh chastisement."

     'But will not Mr Lloyd George be able to bring back _signatures_?
     Will he not have made Peace--permanent Peace? Shall we not have
     destroyed this Prussian philosophy of frightfulness, force, and
     hate? Shall we not have proved to the world that a State without
     military power can trust to the good faith and humanity of its
     neighbours? Can we not, then, celebrate victory with light hearts,
     honour our dead and glorify our arms? Have we not served faithfully
     those ideals of right and justice, mercy and chivalry, for which a
     whole generation of youth went through hell and gave their lives?'



The facts of the present situation in Europe, so far sketched, reveal
broadly this spectacle: everywhere the failure of national power to
indispensable ends, sustenance, political security, nationality, right;
everywhere a fierce struggle for national power.

Germany, which successfully fed her expanding population by a system
which did not rest upon national power, wrecked that system in order to
attempt one which all experience showed could not succeed. The Allied
world pilloried both the folly and the wickedness of such a statecraft;
and at the peace proceeded to imitate it in every particular. The faith
in the complete efficacy of preponderant power which the economic and
other demands of the Treaty of Versailles and the policy towards Russia
reveal, is already seen to be groundless (for the demands, in fact, are
being abandoned). There is in that document an element of _naïveté_, and
in the subsequent policy a cruelty which will be the amazement of
history--if our race remains capable of history.

Yet the men who made the Treaty, and accelerated the famine and break-up
of half a world, including those, like M. Tardieu, who still demand a
ruined Germany and an indemnity-paying one, were the ablest statesmen of
Europe, experienced, realist, and certainly not morally monsters. They
were probably no worse morally, and certainly more practical, than the
passionate democracies, American and European, who encouraged all the
destructive elements of policy and were hostile to all that was
recuperative and healing.

It is perfectly true--and this truth is essential to the thesis here
discussed--that the statesmen at Versailles were neither fools or
villains. Neither were the Cardinals and the Princes of the Church, who
for five hundred years, more or less, attempted to use physical coercion
for the purpose of suppressing religious error. There is, of course an
immeasurably stronger case for the Inquisition as an instrument of
social order than there is for the use of competing national military
power as the basis of modern European society. And the stronger case for
the Inquisition as an instrument of social by a modern statesman when he
goes to war. It was less. The inquisitor, in burning and torturing the
heretic, passionately believed that he obeyed the voice of God, as the
modern statesman believes that he is justified by the highest dictates
of patriotism. We are now able to see that the Inquisitor was wrong, his
judgment twisted by some overpowering prepossession: Is some similar
prepossession distorting vision and political wisdom in modern
statecraft? And if so, what is the nature of this prepossession?

As an essay towards the understanding of its nature, the following
suggestions are put forward:--

     The assertion of national power, domination, is always in line with
     popular feeling. And in crises--like that of the settlement with
     Germany--popular feeling dictates policy.

     The feelings associated with coercive domination evidently lie near
     the surface of our natures and are easily excited. To attain our
     end by mere coercion instead of bargain or agreement, is the method
     in conduct which, in the order of experiments, our race generally
     tries first, not only in economics (as by slavery) but in sex, in
     securing acquiescence to our religious beliefs, and in most other
     relationships. Coercion is not only the response to an instinct; it
     relieves us of the trouble and uncertainties of intellectual
     decision as to what is equitable in a bargain.

     To restrain the combative instinct sufficiently to realise the need
     of co-operation, demands a social discipline which the prevailing
     political traditions and moralities of Nationalism and Patriotism
     not only do not furnish, but directly discourage.

     But when some vital need becomes obvious and we find that force
     simply cannot fulfil it, we then try other methods, and manage to
     restrain our impulse sufficiently to do so. If we simply must have
     a man's help, and we find we cannot force him to give it, we then
     offer him inducements, bargain, enter a contract, even though it
     limits our independence.

     Stable international co-operation cannot come in any other way. Not
     until we realise the failure of national coercive power for
     indispensable ends (like the food of our people) shall we cease to
     idealise power and to put our most intense political emotions (like
     those of patriotism) behind it. Our traditions will buttress and
     'rationalise' the instinct to power until we see that it is
     mischievous. We shall then begin to discredit it and create new

An American sociologist (Professor Giddings of Columbia University) has
written thus:--

     'So long as we can confidently act, we do not argue; but when we
     face conditions abounding in uncertainty, or when we are confronted
     by alternative possibilities, we first hesitate, then feel our way,
     then guess, and at length venture to reason. Reasoning,
     accordingly, is that action of the mind to which we resort when the
     possibilities before us and about us are distributed substantially
     according to the law of chance occurrence, or, as the mathematician
     would say, in accordance with "the normal curve" of random
     frequency. The moment the curve is obviously skewed, we decide; if
     it is obviously skewed from the beginning, by authority, or
     coercion, our reasoning is futile or imperfect. So, in the State,
     if any interest or coalition of interests is dominant, and can act
     promptly, it rules by absolutist methods. Whether it is benevolent
     or cruel, it wastes neither time nor resources upon government by
     discussion; but if interests are innumerable, and so distributed as
     to offset one another, and if no great bias or overweighting
     anywhere appears, government by discussion inevitably arises. The
     interests can get together only if they talk. If power shall be
     able to dictate, it will also rule, and the appeal to reason will
     be vain.'

This means that a realisation of interdependence--even though it be
subconscious--is the basis of the social sense, the feeling and
tradition which make possible a democratic society, in which freedom is
voluntarily limited for the purpose of preserving any freedom at all.

It indicates also the relation of certain economic truths to the
impulses and instincts that underlie international conflict. We shall
excuse or justify or fail to restrain those instincts, unless and until
we see that their indulgence stands in the way of the things which we
need and must have if society is to live. We shall then discredit them
as anti-social, as we have discredited religious fanaticism, and build
up a controlling _Sittlichkeit_.

The statement of Professor Giddings, quoted above, leaves out certain
psychological facts which the present writer in an earlier work has
attempted to indicate. He, therefore, makes no apology for reproducing a
somewhat long passage bearing on the case before us:--

     'The element in man which makes him capable, however feebly, of
     choice in the matter of conduct, the one fact distinguishing him
     from that vast multitude of living things which act unreflectingly,
     instinctively (in the proper and scientific sense of the word), as
     the mere physical reaction to external prompting, is something not
     deeply rooted, since it is the latest addition of all to our
     nature. The really deeply rooted motives of conduct, those having
     by far the greatest biological momentum, are naturally the
     "motives" of the plant and the animal, the kind that marks in the
     main the acts of all living things save man, the unreflecting
     motives, those containing no element of ratiocination and free
     volition, that almost mechanical reaction to external forces which
     draw the leaves towards the sun-rays and makes the tiger tear its
     living food limb from limb.

     'To make plain what that really means in human conduct, we must
     recall the character of that process by which man turns the forces
     of nature to his service instead of allowing them to overwhelm him.
     Its essence is a union of individual forces against the common
     enemy, the forces of nature. Where men in isolated action would
     have been powerless, and would have been destroyed, union,
     association, co-operation, enabled them to survive. Survival was
     contingent upon the cessation of struggle between them, and the
     substitution therefor of common action. Now, the process both in
     the beginning and in the subsequent development of this device of
     co-operation is important. It was born of a failure of force. If
     the isolated force had sufficed, the union of force would not have
     been resorted to. But such union is not a mere mechanical
     multiplication of blind energies; it is a combination involving
     will, intelligence. If mere multiplication of physical energy had
     determined the result of man's struggles, he would have been
     destroyed or be the helpless slave of the animals of which he makes
     his food. He has overcome them as he has overcome the flood and the
     storm--by quite another order of action. Intelligence only emerges
     where physical force is ineffective.

     'There is an almost mechanical process by which, as the complexity
     of co-operation grows, the element of physical compulsion declines
     in effectiveness, and is replaced by agreement based on mutual
     recognition of advantage. There is through every step of this
     development the same phenomenon: intelligence and agreement only
     emerge as force becomes ineffective. The early (and purely
     illustrative) slave-owner who spent his days seeing that his slave
     did not run away, and compelling him to work, realised the economic
     defect of the arrangement: most of the effort, physical and
     intellectual, of the slave was devoted to trying to escape; that of
     the owner, trying to prevent him. The force of the one,
     intellectual or physical, cancelled the force of the other, and the
     energies of both were lost so far as productive value was
     concerned, and the needed task, the building of the shelter or the
     catching of the fish, was not done, or badly done, and both went
     short of food and shelter. But from the moment that they struck a
     bargain as to the division of labour and of spoils, and adhered to
     it, the full energies of both were liberated for direct production,
     and the economic effectiveness of the arrangement was not merely
     doubled, but probably multiplied many times. But this substitution
     of free agreement for coercion, with all that it implied of
     contract, of "what is fair," and all that followed of mutual
     reliance in the fulfilment of the agreement, was _based upon mutual
     recognition of advantage_. Now, that recognition, without which the
     arrangement could not exist at all, required, relatively, a
     considerable mental effort, _due in the first instance to the
     failure of force_. If the slave-owner had had more effective means
     of physical coercion, and had been able to subdue his slave, he
     would not have bothered about agreement, and this embryo of human
     society and justice would not have been brought into being. And in
     history its development has never been constant, but marked by the
     same rise and fall of the two orders of motive; as soon as one
     party or the other obtained such preponderance of strength as
     promised to be effective, he showed a tendency to drop free
     agreement and use force; this, of course, immediately provoked the
     resistance of the other, with a lesser or greater reversion to the
     earlier profitless condition.

     'This perpetual tendency to abandon the social arrangement and
     resort to physical coercion is, of course, easily explainable by
     the biological fact just touched on. To realise at each turn and
     permutation of the division of labour that the social arrangement
     was, after all, the best demanded on the part of the two characters
     in our sketch, not merely control of instinctive actions, but a
     relatively large ratiocinative effort for which the biological
     history of early man had not fitted him. The physical act of
     compulsion only required a stone axe and a quickness of purely
     physical movement for which his biological history had afforded
     infinitely long training. The more mentally-motived action, that of
     social conduct, demanding reflection as to its effect on others,
     and the effect of that reaction upon our own position and a
     conscious control of physical acts, is of modern growth; it is but
     skin-deep; its biological momentum is feeble. Yet on that feeble
     structure has been built all civilisation.

     'When we remember this--how frail are the ultimate foundations of
     our fortress, how much those spiritual elements which alone can
     give us human society are outnumbered by the pre-human elements--is
     it surprising that those pre-social promptings of which
     civilisation represents the conquest, occasionally overwhelm man,
     break up the solidarity of his army, and push him back a stage or
     two nearer to the brute condition from which he came? That even at
     this moment he is groping blindly as to the method of distributing
     in the order of his most vital needs the wealth he is able to wring
     from the earth; that some of his most fundamental social and
     political conceptions--those, among others, with which we are now
     dealing--have little relation to real facts; that his animosities
     and hatreds are as purposeless and meaningless as his enthusiasms
     and his sacrifices; that emotion and effort which quantitatively
     would suffice amply for the greater tasks before him, for the
     firmer establishment of justice and well-being, for the cleaning up
     of all the festering areas of moral savagery that remain, are as a
     simple matter of fact turned to those purposes hardly at all, but
     to objects which, to the degree to which they succeed, merely
     stultify each other?

     'Now, this fact, the fact that civilisation is but skin-deep and
     that man is so largely the unreflecting brute, is not denied by
     pro-military critics. On the contrary they appeal to it as the
     first and last justification of their policy. "All your talk will
     never get over human nature; men are not guided by logic; passion
     is bound to get the upper hand," and such phrases, are a sort of
     Greek chorus supplied by the military party to the whole of this

     'Nor do the militarist advocates deny that these unreflecting
     elements are anti-social; again, it is part of their case that,
     unless they are held in check by the "iron hand," they will
     submerge society in a welter of savagery. Nor do they deny--it is
     hardly possible to do so--that the most important securities which
     we enjoy, the possibility of living in mutual respect of right
     because we have achieved some understanding of right; all that
     distinguishes modern Europe from the Europe of (among other things)
     religious wars and St. Bartholomew massacres, and distinguishes
     British political methods from those Turkey or Venezuela, are due
     to the development of moral forces (since physical force is most
     resorted to in the less desirable age and area), and particularly
     to the general recognition that you cannot solve religious and
     political problems by submitting them to the irrelevant hazard of
     physical force.

     'We have got thus far, then: both parties to the discussion are
     agreed as to the fundamental fact that civilisation is based upon
     moral and intellectual elements in constant danger of being
     overwhelmed by more deeply-rooted anti-social elements. The plain
     facts of history past and present are there to show that where
     those moral elements are absent the mere fact of the possession of
     arms only adds to the destructiveness of the resulting welter.

     'Yet all attempts to secure our safety by other than military means
     are not merely regarded with indifference; they are more generally
     treated either with a truly ferocious contempt or with definite

     'This apparently on two grounds: first, that nothing that we can do
     will affect the conduct of other nations; secondly, that, in the
     development of those moral forces which do undoubtedly give us
     security, government action--which political effort has in
     view--can play no part.

     'Both assumptions are, of course, groundless. The first implies not
     only that our own conduct and our own ideas need no examination,
     but that ideas current in one country have no reaction on those of
     another, and that the political action of one State does not affect
     that of others. "The way to be sure of peace is to be so much
     stronger than your enemy that he will not dare to attack you," is
     the type of accepted and much-applauded "axioms" the unfortunate
     corollary of which is (since both parties can adopt the rule) that
     peace will only be finally achieved when each is stronger than the

     'So thought and acted the man with the stone axe in our
     illustration, and in both cases the psychological motive is the
     same: the long-inherited impulse to isolated action, to the
     solution of a difficulty by some simple form of physical movement;
     the tendency to break through the more lately acquired habit of
     action based on social compact and on the mental realisation of its
     advantage. It is the reaction against intellectual effort and
     responsible control of instinct, a form of natural protest very
     common in children and in adults not brought under the influence of
     social discipline.

     'The same general characteristics are as recognisable in militarist
     politics within the nation as in the international field. It is not
     by accident that Prussian and Bismarckian conceptions in foreign
     policy are invariably accompanied by autocratic conceptions in
     internal affairs. Both are founded upon a belief in force as the
     ultimate determinant in human conduct; a disbelief in the things of
     the mind as factors of social control, a disbelief in moral forces
     that cannot be expressed in "blood and iron." The impatience shown
     by the militarist the world over at government by discussion, his
     desire to "shut up the talking shops" and to govern autocratically,
     are but expressions of the same temper and attitude.

     'The forms which Governments have taken and the general method of
     social management, are in large part the result of its influence.
     Most Governments are to-day framed far more as instruments for the
     exercise of physical force than as instruments of social

     'The militarist does not allow that man has free will in the matter
     of his conduct at all; he insists that mechanical forces on the one
     side or the other alone determine which of two given courses shall
     be taken; the ideas which either hold, the rôle of intelligent
     volition, apart from their influence in the manipulation of
     physical force, play no real part in human society. "Prussianism,"
     Bismarckian "blood and iron," are merely political expressions of
     this belief in the social field--the belief that force alone can
     decide things; that it is not man's business to question authority
     in politics or authority in the form of inevitability in nature. It
     is not a question of who is right, but of who is stronger. "Fight
     it out, and right will be on the side of the victor"--on the side,
     that is, of the heaviest metal or the heaviest muscle, or, perhaps,
     on that of the one who has the sun at his back, or some other
     advantage of external nature. The blind material things--not the
     seeing mind and the soul of man--are the ultimate sanction of human

     'Such a doctrine, of course, is not only profoundly anti-social, it
     is anti-human--fatal not merely to better international relations,
     but, in the end, to the degree to which it influences human conduct
     at all, to all those large freedoms which man has so painfully won.

     'This philosophy makes of man's acts, not something into which
     there enters the element of moral responsibility and free volition,
     something apart from and above the mere mechanical force of
     external nature, but it makes man himself a helpless slave; it
     implies that his moral efforts and the efforts of his mind and
     understanding are of no worth--that he is no more the master of his
     conduct than the tiger of his, or the grass and the trees of
     theirs, and no more responsible.

     'To this philosophy the "civilist" may oppose another: that in man
     there is that which sets him apart from the plants and the animals,
     which gives him control of and responsibility for his social acts,
     which makes him the master of his social destiny if he but will it;
     that by virtue of the forces of his mind he may go forward to the
     completer conquest, not merely of nature, but of himself, and
     thereby, and by that alone, redeem human association from the evils
     that now burden it.'

_From Balance to Community of Power_

Does the foregoing imply that force or compulsion has no place in human
society? Not the least in the world. The conclusions so far drawn might
be summarised, and certain remaining ones suggested, thus:--

     Coercion has its place in human society, and the considerations
     here urged do not imply any sweeping theory of non-resistance. They
     are limited to the attempt to show that the effectiveness of
     political power depends upon certain moral elements usually utterly
     neglected in international politics, and particularly that
     instincts inseparable from Nationalism as now cultivated and
     buttressed by prevailing political morality, must condemn political
     power to futility. Two broad principles of policy are available:
     that looking towards isolated national power, or that looking
     towards common power behind a common purpose. The second may fail;
     it has risks. But the first is bound to fail. The fact would be
     self-evident but for the push of certain instincts warping our
     judgment in favour of the first. If mankind decides that it can do
     better than the first policy, it will do better. If it decides that
     it cannot, that decision will itself make failure inevitable. Our
     whole social salvation depends upon making the right choice.

In an earlier chapter certain stultifications of the Balance of Power as
applied to the international situation were dealt with. It was there
pointed out that if you could get such a thing as a real Balance, that
would certainly be a situation tempting the hot-heads of both sides to a
trial of strength. An obvious preponderance of power on one side might
check the temper of the other. A 'balance' would assuredly act as no
check. But preponderance has an even worse result.

How in practical politics are we to say when a group has become
preponderantly powerful? We know to our cost that military power is
extremely difficult of precise estimate. It cannot be weighed and
balanced exactly. In political practice, therefore, the Balance of Power
means a rivalry of power, because each to be on the safe side wants to
be just a bit stronger than the other. The competition creates of itself
the very condition it sets out to prevent.

The defect of principle here is not the employment of force. It is the
refusal to put force behind a law which may demand our allegiance. The
defect lies in the attempt to make ourselves and our own interests by
virtue of preponderant power superior to law.

The feature which stood condemned in the old order was not the
possession by States of coercive power. Coercion is an element in every
good society that we have heretofore known. The evil of the old order
was that in case of States the Power was anti-social; that it was not
pledged to the service of some code or rule designed for mutual
protection, but was the irresponsible possession of each individual,
maintained for the express purpose of enabling him to enforce his own
views of his own rights, to be judge and executioner in his own case,
when his view came into collision with that of others. The old effort
meant in reality the attempt on the part of a group of States to
maintain in their own favour a preponderance of force of undefined and
unlimited purpose. Any opposing group that found itself in a position of
manifest inferiority had in fact to submit in international affairs to
the decision of the possessor of preponderant power for the time being.
It might be used benevolently; in that case the weaker obtained his
rights as a gift from the stronger. But so long as the possession of
power was unaccompanied by any defined obligation, there could be no
democracy of States, no Society of Nations. To destroy the power of the
preponderant group meant merely to transpose the situation. The security
of one meant always the insecurity of the other.

The Balance of Power in fact adopts the fundamental premise of the
'might makes right' principle, because it regards power as the ultimate
fact in politics; whereas the ultimate fact is the purpose for which the
power will be used. Obviously you don't want a Balance of Power between
justice and injustice, law and crime; between anarchy and order. You
want a preponderance of power on the side of justice, of law and of

We approach here one of the commonest and most disastrous confusions
touching the employment of force in human society, particularly in the
Society of Nations.

It is easy enough to make play with the absurdities and contradictions
of the _si vis pacem para bellum_ of our militarists. And the hoary
falsehood does indeed involve a flouting of all experience, an
intellectual astigmatism that almost makes one despair. But what is the
practical alternative?

The anti-militarist who disparages our reliance upon 'force' is almost
as remote from reality, for all society as we know it in practice, or
have ever known it, does rely a great deal upon the instrument of
'force,' upon restraint and coercion.

We have seen where the competition in arming among European nations has
led us. But it may be argued: suppose you were greatly to reduce all
round, cut in half, say, the military equipment of Europe, would the
power for mutual destruction be sensibly reduced, the security of Europe
sensibly greater? 'Adequacy' and 'destructiveness' of armament are
strictly relative terms. A country with a couple of battleships has
overwhelming naval armament if its opponent has none. A dozen
machine-guns or a score of rifles against thousands of unarmed people
may be more destructive of life than a hundred times that quantity of
material facing forces similarly armed. (Fifty rifles at Amritsar
accounted for two thousand killed and wounded, without a single casualty
on the side of the troops.) Wars once started, instruments of
destruction can be rapidly improvised, as we know. And this will be
truer still when we have progressed from poison gas to disease germs, as
we almost certainly shall.

The first confusion is this:--

The issue is made to appear as between the 'spiritual' and the
'material'; as between material force, battleships, guns, armies on the
one side as one method, and 'spiritual' factors, persuasion, moral
goodness on the other side, as the contrary method. 'Force v. Faith,' as
some evangelical writer has put it. The debate between the Nationalist
and the Internationalist is usually vitiated at the outset by an
assumption which, though generally common to the two parties, is not
only unproven, but flatly contrary to the weight of evidence. The
assumption is that the military Nationalist, basing his policy upon
material force--a preponderant navy, a great army, superior
artillery--can dispense with the element of trust, contract, treaty.

Now to state the issue in that way creates a gross confusion, and the
assumption just indicated is quite unjustifiable. The militarist quite
as much as the anti-militarist, the nationalist quite as much as the
internationalist, has to depend upon a moral factor, 'a contract,' the
force of tradition, and of morality. Force cannot operate at all in
human affairs without a decision of the human mind and will. Guns do not
get pointed and go off without a mind behind them, and as already
insisted, the direction in which the gun shoots is determined by the
mind which must be reached by a form of moral suasion, discipline, or
tradition; the mind behind the gun will be influenced by patriotism in
one case, or by a will to rebellion and mutiny, prompted by another
tradition or persuasion, in another. And obviously the moral decision,
in the circumstances with which we are dealing, goes much deeper and
further back. The building of battleships, or the forming of armies, the
long preparation which is really behind the material factor, implies a
great deal of 'faith.' These armies and navies could never have been
brought into existence and be manoeuvred without vast stores of faith
and tradition. Whether the army serves the nation, as in Britain or
France, or dominates it as in a Spanish-American Republic (or in a
somewhat different sense in Prussia), depends on a moral factor: the
nature of the tradition which inspires the people from whom the army is
drawn. Whether the army obeys its officers or shoots them is determined
by moral not material factors, for the officers have not a preponderance
of physical force over the men. You cannot form a pirate crew without a
moral factor: the agreement not to use force against one another, but to
act in consort and combine it against the prey. Whether the military
material we and France supplied Russia, and the armies France helped to
train, are employed against us or the Germans, depends upon certain
moral and political factors inside Russia, certain ideas formed in the
minds of certain men. It is not a situation of Ideas against Guns, but
of ideas using guns. The confusion involves a curious distortion in our
reading of the history of the struggle against privilege and tyranny.

Usually when we speak of the past struggles of the people against
tyranny, we have in our minds a picture of the great mass held down by
the superior physical force of the tyrant. But such a picture is, of
course, quite absurd. For the physical force which held down the people
was that which they themselves supplied. The tyrant had no physical
force save that with which his victims furnished him. In this struggle
of 'People _v._ Tyrant,' obviously the weight of physical force was on
the side of the people. This was as true of the slave States of
antiquity as it is of the modern autocracies. Obviously the free
minority--the five or ten or fifteen per cent.--of Rome or Egypt, or the
governing orders of Prussia or Russia, did not impose their will upon
the remainder by virtue of superior physical force, the sheer weight of
numbers, of sinew and muscle. If the tyranny of the minority had
depended upon its own physical power, it could not have lasted a day.
The physical force which the minority used was the physical force of the
majority. The people were oppressed by an instrument which they
themselves furnished.

In that picture, therefore, which we make of the mass of mankind
struggling against the 'force' of tyranny, we must remember that the
force against which they struggled was not in the last analysis physical
force at all; it was their own weight from which they desired to be

Do we realise all that this means? It means that tyranny has been
imposed, as freedom has been won: through the Mind.

The small minority imposes itself and can only impose itself by getting
first at the mind of the majority--the people--in one form or another:
by controlling it through keeping knowledge from it, as in so much of
antiquity, or by controlling the knowledge itself, as in Germany. It is
because the minds of the masses have failed them that they have been
enslaved. Without that intellectual failure of the masses, tyranny could
have found no force wherewith to impose its burdens.

This confusion as to the relation of 'force' to the moral factor is of
all confusions most worth while clearing up: and for that purpose we may
descend to homely illustrations.

You have a disorderly society, a frontier mining camp, every man armed,
every man threatened by the arms of his neighbour and every man in
danger. What is the first need in restoring order? More force--more
revolvers and bowie knives? No; every man is fully armed already. If
there exists in this disorder the germ of order some attempt will be
made to move towards the creation of a police. But what is the
indispensable prerequisite for the success of such an effort? It is the
capacity for a nucleus of the community to act in common, to agree
together to make the beginnings of a community. And unless that nucleus
can achieve agreement--a moral and intellectual problem--there can be no
police force. But be it noted well, this first prerequisite--the
agreement among a few members necessary to create the first Vigilance
Committee--is not force; it is a decision of certain minds determining
how force shall be used, how combined. Even when you have got as far as
the police, this device of social protection will entirely break down
unless the police itself can be trusted to obey the constituted
authority, and the constituted authority itself to abide by the law. If
the police represents a mere preponderance of power, using that power to
create a privileged position for itself or for its employers--setting
itself, that is, against the community--you will sooner or later get
resistance which will ultimately neutralise that power and produce a
mere paralysis so far as any social purpose is concerned. The existence
of the police depends upon general agreement not to use force except as
the instrument of the social will, the law to which all are party. This
social will may not exist; the members of the vigilance committee or
town council or other body may themselves use their revolvers and knives
each against the other. Very well, in that case you will get no police.
'Force' will not remedy it. Who is to use the force if no one man can
agree with the other? All along the line here we find ourselves,
whatever our predisposition to trust only 'force,' thrown back upon a
moral factor, compelled to rely upon contract, an agreement, before we
can use force at all.

It will be noted incidentally that effective social force does not rest
upon a Balance of Power: society does not need a Balance of Power as
between the law and crime; it wants a preponderance of power on the
side of the law. One does not want a Balance of Power between rival
parties in the State. One wants a preponderance of power on behalf of a
certain fundamental code upon which all parties, or an immense majority
of parties, will be agreed. As against the Balance of Power we need a
Community of Power--to use Mr. Wilson's phrase--on the side of a purpose
or code of which the contributors to the power are aware.

One may read in learned and pretentious political works that the
ultimate basis of a State is force--the army--which is the means by
which the State's authority is maintained. But who compels the army to
carry out the State's orders rather than its own will or the personal
will of its commander? _Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?_ The following
passage from an address delivered by the present writer in America may
perhaps help to make the point clear:--

     'When, after the counting of the votes, you ask Mr Wilson to step
     down from the President's chair, how do you know he will get down?
     I repeat, How do you know he will get down? You think that a
     foolish and fantastic question? But, in a great many interesting
     American republics, Mexico, Venezuela, or Hayti, he would not get
     down! You say, "Oh, the army would turn him out." I beg your
     pardon. It is Mr Wilson who commands the army; it is not the army
     that commands Mr Wilson. Again, in many American republics a
     President who can depend on his army, when asked to get out of the
     Presidency, would reply almost as a matter of course, "Why should I
     get down when I have an army that stands by me?"

     'How do we know that Mr Wilson, able, we will assume, to count on
     his army, or, if you prefer, some President particularly popular
     with the army, will not do that? Is it physical force which
     prevents it? If so, whose? You may say: "If he did that, he knows
     that the country would raise an army of rebellion to turn him out."
     Well, suppose it did? You raise this army, as they would in
     Mexico, or Venezuela, and the army turns him out. And your man gets
     into the Presidential chair, and then, when you think he has stolen
     enough, you vote _him_ down. He would do precisely the same thing.
     He would say: "My dear people, as very great philosophers tell you,
     the State is Force, and as a great French monarch once said. 'I am
     the State.' _J'y suis, j'y reste._". And then you would have to get
     another army of rebellion to turn _him_ out--just as they do in
     Mexico, Venezuela, Hayti, or Honduras.'

There, then, is the crux of the matter. Every constitution at times
breaks down. But if that fact were a conclusive argument for the
anarchical arming of each man against the other as preferable to a
police enforcing law, there could be no human society. The object of
constitutional machinery for change is to make civil war unnecessary.

There will be no advance save through an improved tradition. Perhaps it
will be impossible to improve the tradition. Very well, then the old
order, whether among the nations of Europe or the political parties of
Venezuela, will remain unchanged. More 'force,' more soldiers, will not
do it. The disturbed areas of Spanish-America each show a greater number
of soldiers to population than States like Massachusetts or Ohio. So in
the international solution. What would it have availed if Britain had
quadrupled the quantity of rifles to Koltchak's peasant soldiers so long
as his land policy caused them to turn their rifles against his
Government? Or for France to have multiplied many times the loans made
to the Ukraine, if at the same time the loans made to Poland so fed
Polish nationalism that the Ukrainians preferred making common cause
with the Bolsheviks to becoming satellites of an Imperialist Poland? Do
we add to the 'force' of the Alliance by increasing the military power
of Serbia, if that fact provokes her to challenge Italy? Do we
strengthen it by increasing at one and the same time the military forces
of two States--say Poland and Czecho-Slovakia--if the nationalism which
we nurse leads finally to those two States turning their forces one
against the other? Unless we know the policy (again a thing of the mind,
of opinion) which will determine the use to which guns will be put, it
does not increase our security--it may diminish it--to add more guns.

_The Alternative Risks_

We see, therefore, that the alternatives are not in fact a choice
between 'material' and 'spiritual' means. The material can only operate,
whether for our defence or against us, by virtue of a spiritual thing,
the will. 'The direction in which the gun will shoot'--a rather
important point in its effectiveness as a defensive weapon--depends not
on the gun but on the mind of the man using it, the moral factor. The
two cannot be separated.

It is untrue to say that the knife is a magic instrument, saving the
cancer patient's life: it is the mind of the surgeon using the material
thing in a certain way which saves the patient's life. A child or savage
who, failing to realise the part played by the invisible element of the
surgeon's mind, should deem that a knife of a particular pattern used
'boldly' could be depended upon to cure cancer, would merely, of course
commit manslaughter.

It is foolish to talk of an absolute guarantee of security by force, as
of guarantee of success in surgical operations by perfection of knives.
In both cases we are dealing with instruments, indispensable, but not of
themselves enough. The mind behind the instrument, technical in one
case, social in the other, may in both cases fail; then we must improve
it. Merely to go on sharpening the knife, to go on applying, for
instance, to the international problem more 'force,' in the way it has
been applied in the past, can only give us in intenser degree the
present results.

Yet the truth here indicated is perpetually being disregarded,
particularly by those who pique themselves on being 'practical.' In the
choice of risks by men of the world and realist statesmen the choice
which inevitably leads to destruction is for ever being made on grounds
of safety; the choice which leads at least in the direction of security
is for ever being rejected on the grounds of its danger.

Why is this? The choice is instinctive assuredly; it is not the result
of 'hard-headed calculation' though it often professes to be. We speak
of it as the 'protective' instinct. But it is a protective instinct
which obviously destroys us.

I am suggesting here that, at the bottom of the choice in favour of the
Balance of Power or preponderance as a political method, is neither the
desire for safety nor the desire to place 'might behind right,' but the
desire for domination, the instinct of self-assertion, the anti-social
wish to be judge in our own case; and further, that the way out of the
difficulty is to discipline this instinct by a better social tradition.
To do that we must discredit the old tradition--create a different
feeling about it; to which end it is indispensable to face frankly the
nature of its moral origins; to look its motives in the face.[68]

It is extremely suggestive in this connection that the 'realist'
politician, the 'hard-headed practical man,' disdainful of Sunday School
standards,' in his defence of national necessity, is quite ready to be
contemptuous of national safety and interest when these latter point
plainly to a policy of international agreement as against domination.
Agreement is then rejected as pusillanimous, and consideration for
national interest as placing 'pocket before patriotism.' We are then
reminded, even by the most realist of nationalists, that nations live
for higher things than 'profit' or even safety. 'Internationalism,' says
Colonel Roosevelt, 'inevitably emasculates its sincere votaries,' and
'every civilisation worth calling such' must be based 'on a spirit of
intense nationalism.' For Colonel Roosevelt or General Wood in America
as for Mr Kipling, or Mr Chesterton, or Mr Churchill, or Lord
Northciffe, or Mr Bottomley, and a vast host of poets, professors,
editors, historians, bishops, publicists of all sorts in England and
France, 'Internationalist' and 'Pacifist' are akin to political atheist.
A moral consideration now replaces the 'realist.' The metamorphosis is
only intelligible on the assumption here suggested that both
explanations or justifications are a rationalisation of the impulse to
power and domination.

Our political, quite as much as our social, conduct is in the main the
result of motives that are mainly unconscious instinct, habit,
unquestioned tradition. So long as we find the result satisfactory, well
and good. But when the result of following instinct is disaster, we
realise that the time has come to 'get outside ourselves,' to test our
instincts by their social result. We have then to see whether the
'reasons' we have given for our conduct are really its motives. That
examination is the first step to rendering the unconscious motive
conscious. In considering, for instance, the two methods indicated in
this chapter, we say, in 'rationalising' our decision, that we chose the
lesser of two risks. I am suggesting that in the choice of the method of
the Balance of Power our real motive was not desire to achieve security,
but domination. It is just because our motives are not mainly
intellectual but 'instinctive' that the desire for domination is so
likely to have played the determining role: for few instincts and
innate desires are stronger than that which pushes to 'self-affirmation'--the
assertion of preponderant force.

We have indeed seen that the Balance of Power means in practice the
determination to secure a preponderance of power. What is a 'Balance?'
The two sides will not agree on that, and each to be sure will want it
tilted in its favour. We decline to place ourselves within the power of
another who may differ from us as to our right. We demand to be
stronger, in order that we may be judge in our own case. This means that
we shall resist the claim of others to exactly the same thing.

The alternative is partnership. It means trust. But we have seen that
the exercise of any form of force, other than that which one single
individual can wield, must involve an element of 'trust.' The soldiers
must be trusted to obey the officers, since the former have by far the
preponderance of force; the officers must be trusted to obey the
constitution instead of challenging it; the police must be trusted to
obey the authorities; the Cabinet must be trusted to obey the electoral
decision; the members of an alliance to work together instead of against
one another, and so on. Yet the assumption of the 'Power Politician' is
that the method which has succeeded (notably within the State) is the
'idealistic' but essentially unpractical method in which security and
advantage are sacrificed to Utopian experiment; while the method of
competitive armament, however distressing it may be to the Sunday
Schools, is the one that gives us real security. 'The way to be sure of
preserving peace,' says Mr Churchill, 'is to be so much stronger than
your enemy that he won't dare to attack you.' In other words it is
obvious that the way for two people to keep the peace is for each to be
stronger than the other.

'You may have made your front door secure' says Marshal Foch, arguing
for the Rhine frontier, 'but you may as well make sure by having a good
high garden wall as well.'

'Make sure,' that is the note--_si vis pacem_.... And he can be sure
that 'the average practical man,' who prides himself on 'knowing human
nature' and 'distrusting theories' will respond to the appeal. Every
club smoking room will decide that 'the simple soldier' knows his
business and has judged human forces aright.

Yet of course the simple truth is that the 'hard-headed soldier' has
chosen the one ground upon which all experience, all the facts, are
against him. Then how is he able to 'get away with it'--to ride off
leaving at least the impression of being a sternly practical
unsentimental man of the world by virtue of having propounded an
aphorism which all practical experience condemns? Here is Mr Churchill.
He is talking to hard-headed Lancashire manufacturers. He desires to
show that he too is no theorist, that he also can be hard-headed and
practical. And he--who really does know the mind of the 'hard-headed
business man'--is perfectly aware that the best road to those hard heads
is to propound an arrant absurdity, to base a proposed line of policy on
the assumption of a physical impossibility, to follow a will-o'-the-wisp
which in all recorded history has led men into a bog.

They applaud Mr Churchill, not because he has put before them a cold
calculation of relative risk in the matter of maintaining peace, an
indication, where, on the whole, the balance of safety lies; Mr
Churchill, of course, knows perfectly well that, while professing to do
that, he has been doing nothing of the sort. He has, in reality, been
appealing to a sentiment, the emotion which is strongest and steadiest
in the 'hard-faced men' who have elbowed their way to the top in a
competitive society. He has 'rationalised' that competitive sentiment of
domination by putting forward a 'reason' which can be avowed to them and
to others.

Colonel Roosevelt managed to inject into his reasons for predominance a
moral strenuousness which Mr Churchill does not achieve.

The following is a passage from one of the last important speeches made
by Colonel Roosevelt--twice President of the United States and one of
the out-standing figures in the world in his generation:--

     'Friends, be on your guard against the apostles of weakness and
     folly when peace comes. They will tell you that this is the last
     great war. They will tell you that they can make paper treaties and
     agreements and guarantees by which brutal and unscrupulous men will
     have their souls so softened that weak and timid men won't have
     anything to fear and that brave and honest men won't have to
     prepare to defend themselves.

     'Well, we have seen that all such treaties are worth less than
     scraps of paper when it becomes to the interests of powerful and
     ruthless militarist nations to disregard them.... After this War is
     over, these foolish pacifist creatures will again raise their
     piping voices against preparedness and in favour of patent devices
     for maintaining peace without effort. Let us enter into every
     reasonable agreement which bids fair to minimise the chances of war
     and to circumscribe its area.... But let us remember it is a
     hundred times more important for us to prepare our strength for our
     own defence than to enter any of these peace treaties, and that if
     we thus prepare our strength for our own defence we shall minimise
     the chances of war as no paper treaties can possibly minimise them;
     and we shall thus make our views effective for peace and justice in
     the world at large as in no other way can they be made

Let us dispose of one or two of the more devastating confusions in the

First there is the everlasting muddle as to the internationalist
attitude towards the likelihood of war. To Colonel Roosevelt one is an
internationalist or 'pacifist' because one thinks war will not take
place. Whereas probably the strongest motive of internationalism is the
conviction that without it war is inevitable, that in a world of rival
nationalisms war cannot be avoided. If those who hate war believe that
the present order will without effort give them peace, why in the name
of all the abuse which their advocacy brings on their heads should they
bother further about the matter?

Secondly, internationalism is assumed to be the _alternative_ to the
employment of force or power of arms, whereas it is the organisation of
force, of power (latent or positive) to a common--an international--end.

Our incurable habit of giving to homely but perfectly healthy and
justifiable reasons of conduct a high faluting romanticism sometimes
does morality a very ill service. When in political situations--as in
the making of a Peace Treaty--a nation is confronted by the general
alternative we are now discussing, the grounds of opposition to a
co-operative or 'Liberal' or 'generous' settlement are almost always
these: 'Generosity' is lost upon a people as crafty and treacherous as
the enemy; he mistakes generosity for weakness; he will take advantage
of it; his nature won't be softened by mild treatment; he understands
nothing but force.

The assumption is that the liberal policy is based upon an appeal to the
better side of the enemy; upon arousing his nobler nature. And such an
assumption concerning the Hun or the Bolshevik, for instance (or at an
earlier date, the Boer or the Frenchman), causes the very gorge of the
Roosevelt-Bottomley patriot to rise in protest. He simply does not
believe in the effective operation of so remote a motive.

But the real ground of defence for the liberal policy is not the
existence of an abnormal if heretofore successfully disguised nobility
on the part of the enemy, but of his very human if not very noble fears
which, from our point of view, it is extremely important not to arouse
or justify. If our 'punishment' of him creates in his mind the
conviction that we are certain to use our power for commercial
advantage, or that in any case our power is a positive danger to him,
he _will_ use his recovered economic strength for the purpose of
resisting it; and we should face a fact so dangerous and costly to us.

To take cognisance of this fact, and to shape our policy accordingly is
not to attribute to the enemy any particular nobility of motive. But
almost always when that policy is attacked, it is attacked on the ground
of its 'Sunday School' assumption of the accessibility of the enemy to
gratitude or 'softening' in Colonel Roosevelt's phrase.

We reach in the final analysis of the interplay of motive a very clear
political pragmatism. Either policy will justify itself, and by the way
it works out in practice, prove that it is right.

Here is a statesman--Italian, say--who takes the 'realist' view, and
comes to a Peace Conference which may settle for centuries the position
of his country in the world--its strength, its capacity for defending
itself, the extent of its resources. In the world as he knows it, a
country has one thing, and one thing only, upon which it can depend for
its national security and the defence of its due rights; and that thing
is its own strength. Italy's adequate defence must include the naval
command of the Adriatic and a strategic position in the Tyrol. This
means deep harbours on the Dalmatian coast and the inclusion in the
Tyrol of a very considerable non-Italian population. To take them may,
it is true, not only violate the principle of nationality but shut off
the new Yugo-Slav nation from access to the sea and exchange one
irredentism for another. But what can the 'realist' Italian statesman,
whose first duty is to his own country do? He is sorry, but his own
nationality and its due protection are concerned; and the Italian nation
will be insecure without those frontiers and those harbours.
Self-preservation is the law of life for nations as for other living
things. You have, unfortunately, a condition in which the security of
one means the insecurity of another, and if a statesman in these
circumstances has to choose which of the two is to be secure, he must
choose his own country.

Some day, of course, there may come into being a League of Nations so
effective that nations can really look to it for their safety. Meantime
they must look to themselves. But, unfortunately, for each nation to
take these steps about strategic frontiers means not only killing the
possibility of an effective League: it means, sooner or later, killing
the military alliance which is the alternative. If one Alsace-Lorraine
could poison European politics in the way it did, what is going to be
the effect ultimately of the round dozen that we have created under the
treaty? The history of Britain in reference to Arab and Egyptian
Nationality; of France in relation to Poland and other Russian border
States; of all the Allies in reference to Japanese ambitions in China
and Siberia, reveals what is, fundamentally, a precisely similar

When the statesmen--Italian or other--insist upon strategic frontiers
and territories containing raw materials, on the ground that a nation
must look to itself because we live in a world in which international
arrangements cannot be depended on, they can be quite certain that the
reason they give is a sound one: because their own action will make it
so: their action creates the very conditions to which they appeal as the
reason for it. Their decision, with the popular impulse of sacred egoism
which supports it, does something more than repudiate Mr Wilson's
principles; it is the beginning of the disruption of the Alliance upon
which their countries have depended. The case is put in a manifesto
issued a year or two ago by a number of eminent Americans from which we
have already quoted in Chapter III.

It says:--

     'If, as in the past, nations must look for their future security
     chiefly to their own strength and resources, then inevitably, in
     the name of the needs of national defence, there will be claims for
     strategic frontiers and territories with raw material which do
     violence to the principle of nationality. Afterwards those who
     suffer from such violations would be opposed to the League of
     Nations, because it would consecrate the injustice of which they
     would be the victims. A refusal to trust to the League of Nations,
     and a demand for "material" guarantees for future safety, will set
     up that very distrust which will afterwards be appealed to as
     justification for regarding the League as impracticable because it
     inspires no general confidence. A bold "Act of Political Faith" in
     the League will justify itself by making the League a success; but,
     equally, lack of faith will justify itself by ruining the League.'

That is why, when in the past the realist statesman has sometimes
objected that he does not believe in internationalism because it is not
practical, I have replied that it is not practical because he does not
believe in it.

The prerequisite to the creation of a society is the Social Will. And
herein lies the difficulty of making any comparative estimate of the
respective risks of the alternative courses. We admit that if the
nations would sink their sacred egoisms and pledge their power to mutual
and common protection, the risk of such a course would disappear. We get
the paradox that there is no risk if we all take the risk. But each
refuses to begin. William James has illustrated the position:--

     'I am climbing the Alps, and have had the ill luck to work myself
     into a position from which the only escape is by a terrible leap.
     Being without similar experience, I have no evidence of my ability
     to perform it successfully; but hope and confidence in myself make
     me sure that I shall not miss my aim, and nerve my feet to execute
     what, without those subjective emotions, would have been

     'But suppose that, on the contrary, the emotions ... of mistrust
     predominate.... Why, then, I shall hesitate so long that at last,
     exhausted and trembling, and launching myself in a moment of
     despair, I miss my foothold and roll into the abyss. In this case,
     and it is one of an immense class, the part of wisdom is to believe
     what one desires; for the belief is one of the indispensable,
     preliminary conditions of the realisation of its object. There are
     cases where faith creates its own justification. Believe, and you
     shall be right, for you shall save yourself; doubt, and you shall
     again be right, for you shall perish.'



_'Human Nature is always what it is'_

'You may argue as much as you like. All the logic chopping will never
get over the fact that human nature is always what it is. Nations will
always fight.... always retaliate at victory.'

If that be true, and our pugnacities, and hates, and instincts
generally, are uncontrollable, and they dictate conduct, no more is to
be said. We are the helpless victims of outside forces, and may as well
surrender, without further discussion, or political agitation, or
propaganda. For if those appeals to our minds can neither determine the
direction nor modify the manifestation of our innate instincts, nor
influence conduct, one rather wonders at our persistence in them.

Why so many of us find an obvious satisfaction in this fatalism, so
patently want it to be true, and resort to it in such convenient
disregard of the facts, has been in some measure indicated in the
preceding chapter. At bottom it comes to this: that it relieves us of so
much trouble and responsibility; the life of instinct and emotion is so
easily flowing a thing, and that of social restraints and rationalised
decisions so cold and dry and barren.

At least that is the alternative as many of us see it. And if the only
alternative to an impulse spending itself in hostilities and hatreds
destructive of social cohesion, were the sheer restraint of impulse by
calculation and reason; if our choice were truly between chaos,
anarchy, and the perpetual repression of all spontaneous and vigorous
impulse--then the choice of a fatalistic refusal to reason would be

But happily that is not the alternative. The function of reason and
discipline is not to repress instinct and impulse, but to turn those
forces into directions in which they may have free play without
disaster. The function of the compass is not to check the power of the
ship's engines; it is to indicate a direction in which the power can be
given full play, because the danger of running on to the rocks has been

Let us first get the mere facts straight--facts as they have worked out
in the War and the Peace.

It is not true that the directions taken by our instincts cannot in any
way be determined by our intelligence. 'A man's impulses are not fixed
from the beginning by his native disposition: within certain limits they
are profoundly modified by his circumstances and way of life.'[70] What
we regard as the 'instinctive' part of our character is, again, within
large limits very malleable: by beliefs, by social circumstances, by
institutions, and above all by the suggestibility of tradition, the work
is often of individual minds.

It is not so much the _character_ of our impulsive and instinctive life
that is changed by these influences, as the direction. The elements of
human nature may remain unchangeable, but the manifestations resulting
from the changing combinations may be infinitely various as are the
forms of matter which result from changing combinations of the same
primary elements.

It is not a choice between a life of impulse and emotion on the one
side, and wearisome repressions on the other. The perception that
certain needs are vital will cause us to use our emotional energy for
one purpose instead of another. And just because the traditions that
have grouped around nationalism turn our combativeness into the
direction of war, the energy brought into play by that impulse is not
available for the creativeness of peace. Having become habituated to a
certain reagent--the stimulus of some personal or visible enemy--energy
fails to react to a stimulus which, with a different way of life, would
have sufficed. Because we must have gin to summon up our energy, that is
no proof that energy is impossible without it. It is hardly for an
inebriate to laud the life of instinct and impulse. For the time being
that is not the attitude and tendency that most needs encouragement.

As to the fact that the instinctive and impulsive part of our behaviour
is dirigible and malleable by tradition and discussion, that is not only
admitted, but it is apt to be over-emphasised--by those who insist upon
the 'unchangeability of human nature.' The importance which we attached
to the repression of pacifist and defeatist propaganda during the War,
and of Bolshevist agitation after the War, proves that we believe these
feelings, that we allege to be unchangeable, can be changed too easily
and readily by the influence of ideas, even wrong ones.

The type of feeling which gave us the Treaty was in a large degree a
manufactured feeling, in the sense that it was the result of opinion,
formed day by day by a selection only of the facts. For this manufacture
of opinion, we consciously created a very elaborate machinery, both of
propaganda and of control of news. But that organisation of public
opinion, justifiable in itself perhaps as a war measure, was not guided
(as the result shows) by an understanding of what the political ends,
which, in the early days of the War, we declared to be ours, would need
in the way of psychology. Our machinery developed a psychology which
made our higher political aims quite impossible of realisation.

Public opinion, 'human nature,' would have been more manageable, its
'instincts' would have been sounder, and we should have had a Europe
less in disintegration, if we had told as far as possible that part of
the truth which our public bodies (State, Church, Press, the School)
were largely occupied in hiding. But the opinion which dictated the
policy of repression is itself the result of refusing to face the truth.
To tell the truth is the remedy here suggested.

_The Paradox of the Peace_

The supreme paradox of the Peace is this:--

We went into the War with certain very definitely proclaimed principles,
which we declared to be more valuable than the lives of the men that were
sacrificed in their defence. We were completely victorious, and went into
the Conference with full power, so far as enemy resistance was concerned,
to put those principles into effect.[71] We did not use the victory which
our young men had given us to that end, but for enforcing a policy which
was in flat contradiction to the principles we had originally proclaimed.

In some respects the spectacle is the most astounding of all history. It
is literally true to say that millions of young soldiers gladly gave
their lives for ideals to which the survivors, when they had the power
to realise them (again so far as physical force can give us power,)
showed complete indifference, sometimes a contemptuous hostility.

It was not merely an act of the statesmen. The worst features of the
Treaty were imposed by popular feeling--put into the Treaty by statesmen
who did not believe in them, and only included them in order to satisfy
public opinion. The policy of President Wilson failed in part because of
the humane and internationalist opinion of the America of 1916 had
become the fiercely chauvinist and coercive opinion of 1919, repudiating
the President's efforts.

Part of the story of these transformations has been told in the
preceding pages. Let us summarise the story as a whole.

We saw at the beginning of the War a real feeling for the right of
peoples to choose their own form of government, for the principle of
nationality. At the end of the War we deny that right in half a score of
cases,[72] where it suits our momentary political or military interest.
The very justification of 'necessity,' which shocks our conscience when
put forward by the enemy, is the one we invoke callously at the
peace--or before it, as when we agree to allow Czarist Russia to do what
she will with Poland, and Italy with Serbia. Having sacrificed the small
State to Russia in 1916, we are prepared to sacrifice Russia to the
small State in 1919, by encouraging the formation of border
independencies, which, if complete independencies, must throttle Russia,
and which no 'White' Russian would accept. While encouraging the lesser
States to make war on Russia, we subsidise White Russian military
leaders who will certainly destroy the small States if successful. We
entered the War for the destruction of militarism, and to make
disarmament possible, declaring that German arms were the cause of our
arms; and having destroyed German arms, we make ours greater than they
were before the War, and introduce such new elements as the systematic
arming of African savages for European warfare. We fought to make the
secret bringing about of war by military or diplomatic cliques
impossible, and after the Armistice the decision to wage war on the
Russian Republic is made without even public knowledge, in opposition to
sections in the Cabinets concerned, by cliques of whose composition the
public is completely ignorant.[73] The invasion of Russia from the
north, south, east, and west, by European, Asiatic, and negro troops, is
made without a declaration of war, after a solemn statement by the chief
spokesman of the Allies that there should be no invasion. Having
declared, during the War, on a score of occasions, that we were not
fighting against any right or interest of the German people[74]--or the
German people at all--because we realised that only by ensuring that
right and interest ourselves could we turn Germany from the ways of the
past, at the peace we impose conditions which make it impossible for the
German people even adequately to feed their population, and leave them
no recourse but the recreation of their power. Having promised at the
Armistice not to use our power for the purpose of preventing the due
feeding of Germany, we continue for months a blockade which, even by the
testimony of our own officials, creates famine conditions and literally
kills very many of the children.

At the beginning of the War, our statesmen, if not our public, had some
rudimentary sense of the economic unity of mankind, of our need of one
another's work, and the idea of blockading half a world in time of dire
scarcity would have appalled them. Yet at the Armistice it was done so
light-heartedly that, having at last abandoned it, they have never even
explained what they proposed to accomplish by it, for, says Mr Maynard
Keynes. 'It is an extraordinary fact that the fundamental economic
problem of a Europe starving and disintegrating before their eyes, was
the one question in which it was impossible to arouse the interest of
the Four.'[75] At the beginning of the War we invoked high heaven to
witness the danger and anomaly of autocratic government in our day. We
were fighting for Parliamentary institutions, 'open Covenants openly
arrived at.' After victory, we leave the real settlement of Europe to be
made by two or three Prime Ministers, rendering no account of their
secret deliberations and discussions to any Parliament until, in
practice, it is too late to alter them. At the beginning of the War we
were profoundly moved by the wickedness of military terrorism; at its
close we employ it--whether by means of starvation, blockade, armed
negro savages in German cities, reprisals in Ireland, or the ruthless
slaughter of unarmed civilians in India--without creating any strong
revulsion of feeling at home. At the beginning of the War we realised
that the governmental organisation of hatred with the prostitution of
art to 'hymns of hate' was vile and despicable. We copied that
governmental organisation of hatred, and famous English authors duly
produce _our_ hymns of hate.[76] We felt at the beginning that all human
freedom was menaced by the German theory of the State as the master of
man and not as his instrument, with all that means of political
inquisition and repression. When some of its worst features are applied
at home, we are so indifferent to the fact that we do not even recognise
that the thing against which we fought has been imposed upon

Many will dissent from this indictment. Yet its most important item--our
indifference to the very evils against which we fought--is something
upon which practically all witnesses testifying to the state of public
opinion to-day agree. It is a commonplace of current discussion of
present-day feeling. Take one or two at random, Sir Philip Gibbs and Mr.
Sisley Huddleston, both English journalists. (I choose journalists
because it is their business to know the nature of the public mind and
spirit.) Speaking of the wholesale starvation, unimaginable misery, from
the Baltic to the Black Sea, Mr. Huddleston writes:--

     'We read these things. They make not the smallest impression on us.
     Why? How is it that we are not horrified and do not resolve that
     not for a single day shall any preventable evil exist? How is it,
     that, on the contrary, for two years we have been cheerfully
     engaged in intensifying the sum of human suffering? Why are we so
     heedless? Why are we so callous? Why do we allow to be committed,
     in our name, a thousand atrocities, and to be written, in our name
     and for our delectation, a million vile words which reveal the most
     amazing lack either of feeling or of common sense?

     'There have been crimes perpetrated by the politicians--by all the
     politicians--which no condemnation could fitly characterise. But
     the peoples must be blamed. The peoples support the war-making
     politicians. It is my business to follow the course of events day
     by day, and it is sometimes difficult to stand back and take a
     general view. Whenever I do so, I am appalled at the blundering or
     the wickedness of the leaders of the world. Without party
     prejudices or personal predilections, an impartial observer, I
     cannot conceive how it is possible to be always blind to the truth,
     the glaring truth, that since the Armistice we have never sought to
     make peace, but have sought only some pretext and method for
     prolonging the War.

     'Hate exudes from every journal in speaking of certain peoples--a
     weary hate, a conventional hate, a hate which is always whipping
     itself into a passion. It is, perhaps, more strictly, apathy
     masquerading as hate--which is worst of all. The people are
     _blasé_: they seek only bread and circuses for themselves. They
     regard no bread for others as a rather boring circus for

Mr. Huddleston was present throughout most of the Conference. This is
his verdict:--

     ' ... Cynicism soon became naked. In the East all pretence of
     righteousness was abandoned. Every successive Treaty was more
     frankly the expression of shameful appetites. There was no pretence
     of conscience in politics. Force rules without disguise. What was
     still more amazing was the way in which strife was stirred up
     gratuitously. What advantage was it, even for a moment, to any one
     to foment civil war in Russia, to send against the unhappy,
     famine-stricken country army after army? The result was so
     obviously to consolidate the Bolshevist Government around which
     were obliged to rally all Russians who had the spirit of
     nationality. It seemed as if everywhere we were plotting our own
     ruin and hastening our own end. A strange dementia seized our
     rulers, who thought peace, replenishment of empty larders, the
     fraternisation of sorely tired nations, ignoble and delusive
     objects. It appeared that war was for evermore to be humanity's

     'Time after time I saw excellent opportunities of universal peace
     deliberately rejected. There was somebody to wreck every Prinkipo,
     every Spa. It was almost with dismay that all Europeans who had
     kept their intelligence unclouded saw the frustration of peace, and
     heard the peoples applaud the men who frustrated peace. I care not
     whether they still enjoy esteem: history will judge them harshly
     and will judge harshly the turbulence which men plumed themselves
     on creating two years after the War.'

As to the future:--

     'If it is certain that France must force another fight with Germany
     in a short span of years, if she pursues her present policy of
     implacable antagonism; if it is certain that England is already
     carefully seeking the European equilibrium, and that a responsible
     minister has already written of the possibility of a military
     accord with Germany; if there has been seen, owing to the foolish
     belief of the Allies in force--a belief which increases in inverse
     ratio to the Allied possession of effective force--the re-birth of
     Russian militarism, as there will assuredly be seen the re-birth of
     German militarism; if there are quarrels between Greece and Italy,
     between Italy and the Jugo-Slavs, between Hungary and Austria,
     between every tiny nation and its neighbour, even between England
     and France, it is because, when war has once been invoked, it
     cannot easily be exorcised. It will linger long in Europe: the
     straw will smoulder and at any moment may break into flame....

     'This is not lurid imagining: it is as logical as a piece of
     Euclidean reasoning. Only by a violent effort to change our fashion
     of seeing things can it be averted. War-making is now a habit.'

And as to the outcome on the mind of the people:--

     'The war has killed elasticity of mind, independence of judgment,
     and liberty of expression. We think not so much of the truth as of
     conforming to the tacitly accepted fiction of the hour.[78]

Sir Philip Gibbs renders on the whole a similar verdict. He says:--

     'The people of all countries were deeply involved in the general
     blood-guiltiness of Europe. They made no passionate appeal in the
     name of Christ or in the name of humanity for the cessation of the
     slaughter of boys and the suicide of nations, and for a
     reconciliation of peoples upon terms of some more reasonable
     argument than that of high explosives. Peace proposals from the
     Pope, from Germany, from Austria, were rejected with fierce
     denunciation, most passionate scorn, as "peace plots" and "peace
     traps," not without the terrible logic of the vicious circle,
     because indeed, there was no sincerity of renunciation in some of
     those offers of peace, and the Powers opposite to us were simply
     trying our strength and our weakness in order to make their own
     kind of peace, which should be that of conquest. The gamblers,
     playing the game of "poker," with crowns and armies as their
     stakes, were upheld generally by the peoples, who would not abate
     one point of pride, one fraction of hate, one claim of vengeance,
     though all Europe should fall in ruin, and the last legions of boys
     be massacred. There was no call from people to people across the
     frontiers of hostility. "Let us end this homicidal mania. Let us
     get back to sanity and save our younger sons. Let us hand over to
     justice those who will continue the slaughter of our youth!" There
     was no forgiveness, no generous instinct, no large-hearted common
     sense in any combatant nation of Europe. Like wolves they had their
     teeth in one another's throats, and would not let go, though all
     bloody and exhausted, until one should fall at the last gasp, to be
     mangled by the others. Yet in each nation, even in Germany, there
     were men and women who saw the folly of the war and the crime of
     it, and desired to end it by some act of renunciation and
     repentance, and by some uplifting of the people's spirit to vault
     the frontiers of hatred and the barbed wire which hedged in
     patriotism. Some of them were put in prison. Most of them saw the
     impossibility of counteracting the forces of insanity which had
     made the world mad, and kept silent, hiding their thoughts and
     brooding over them. The leaders of the nations continued to use
     mob-passion as their argument and justification, excited it anew
     when its fires burned low, focussed it upon definite objectives,
     and gave it a sense of righteousness by the high-sounding
     watchwords of liberty, justice, honour, and retribution. Each side
     proclaimed Christ as its captain, and invoked the blessing and aid
     of the God of Christendom, though Germans were allied with Turks,
     and France was full of black and yellow men. The German people did
     not try to avert their ruin by denouncing the criminal acts of
     their War Lords nor by deploring the cruelties they had committed.
     The Allies did not help them to do so, because of their lust for
     bloody vengeance and their desire for the spoils of victory. The
     peoples shared the blame of their rulers because they were not
     nobler than their rulers. They cannot now plead ignorance or
     betrayal by false ideals which duped them, because character does
     not depend on knowledge, and it was the character of European
     peoples which failed in the crisis of the world's fate, so that
     they followed the call-back of the beast in the jungle rather than
     the voice of the Crucified One whom they pretended to adore.'

And perhaps most important of all (though the clergy here just stand for
the complacent mob mind; they were no worse than the laity), this:--

     'I think the clergy of all nations, apart from a heroic and saintly
     few, subordinated their faith, which is a gospel of charity, to
     national limitations. They were patriots before they were priests,
     and their patriotism was sometimes as limited, as narrow, as
     fierce, and as blood-thirsty as that of the people who looked to
     them for truth and light. They were often fiercer, narrower, and
     more desirous of vengeance than the soldiers who fought, because it
     is now a known truth that the soldiers, German and Austrian, French
     and Italian and British, were sick of the unending slaughter long
     before the ending of the war, and would have made a peace more fair
     than that which now prevails if it had been put to the common vote
     in the trenches; whereas the Archbishop of Canterbury, the
     Archbishop of Cologne, and the clergy who spoke from many pulpits
     in many nations under the Cross of Christ, still stoked up the
     fires of hate and urged the armies to go on fighting "in the cause
     of Justice," "for the defence of the Fatherland," "for Christian
     righteousness," to the bitter end. Those words are painful to
     write, but as I am writing this book for truth's sake, at all cost,
     I let them stand.'[79]

_From Passion to Indifference: the Result of Drift_

A common attitude just now is something like this:--

'With the bitter memory of all that the Allies had suffered strong upon
them, it is not astonishing that at the moment of victory an attitude of
judicial impartiality proved too much to ask of human nature. The real
terms will depend upon the fashion in which the formal terms are
enforced. Much of the letter of the Treaty--trial of the Kaiser,
etc.--has already disappeared. It is an intolerable priggishness to rake
up this very excusable debauch just as we are returning to sobriety.'

And that would be true, if, indeed, we had learned the lesson, and were
adopting a new policy. But we are not. We have merely in some measure
exchanged passion for lassitude and indifference. Later on we shall
plead that the lassitude was as 'inevitable' as the passion. On such a
line of reasoning, it is no good reacting by a perception of
consequences against a mood of the moment. That is bad psychology and
disastrous politics. To realise what 'temperamental politics' have
already involved us in, is the first step towards turning our present
drift into a more consciously directed progress.

Note where the drift has already carried us with reference to the
problem of the new Germany which it was our declared object to create.
There were weeks following the Armistice in Germany, when a faithful
adherence to the spirit of the declarations made by the Allies during
the War would have brought about the utter moral collapse of the
Prussianism we had fought to destroy. The Prussian had said to the
people: 'Only Germany's military power has stood between her and
humiliating ruin. The Allies victorious will use their victory to
deprive Germany of her vital rights.' Again and again had the Allies
denied this, and Germany, especially young Germany, watched to see which
should prove right. A blockade, falling mainly, as Mr Churchill
complacently pointed out (months after an armistice whose terms had
included a promise to take into consideration the food needs of Germany)
upon the feeble, the helpless, the children, answered that question for
millions in Germany. Her schools and universities teem with hundreds of
thousands stricken in their health, to whom the words 'never again' mean
that never more will they put their trust in the 'naïve innocence' of
an internationalism that could so betray them.

The militarism which morally was at so low an ebb at the Armistice, has
been rehabilitated by such things as the blockade and its effects, the
terms of the Treaty, and by minor but dramatic features like the
retention of German prisoners long after Allied prisoners had returned
home, and the occupation of German university town by African negroes.
So that to-day a League of Nations offered by the Allies would probably
be regarded with a contemptuous scepticism--somewhat similar to that
with which America now regards the political beatitudes which it
applauded in 1916-17.

We are in fact modifying the Treaty. But those modifications will not
meet the present situation, though they might well have met the
situation in 1918. If we had done then what we are prepared to do _now_,
Europe would have been set on the right road.

Suppose the Allies had said in December, 1918 (as they are in effect
being brought to say in 1920): 'We are not going to play into the hands
of your militarists by demanding the surrender of the Kaiser or the
punishment of the war criminals, vile as we believe their offences to
be. We are not going to stimulate your waning nationalism by demanding
an acknowledgment of your sole guilt. Nor are we going to ruin your
industry or shatter your credit. On the contrary, we will start by
making you a loan, facilitating your purchases of food and raw
materials, and we will admit you into the League of Nations.'

We are coming to that. If it could have been our policy early instead of
late, how different this story would have been.

And the tragedy is this: To do it late is to cause it to lose its
effectiveness, for the situation changes. The measures which would have
been adequate in 1918 are inadequate in 1920. It is the story of Home
Rule. In the eighties Ireland would have accepted Gladstonian Home Rule
as a basis at least of co-operation. English and Ulster opinion was not
ready even for Home Rule. Forty years later it had reconciled itself to
Home Rule. But by the time Britain was ready for the remedy, the
situation had got quite beyond it. It now demanded something for which
slow-moving opinion was unprepared. So with a League of Nations. The
plan now supported by Conservatives would, as Lord Grey has avowed, have
assuredly prevented this War if adopted in place of the mere Arbitration
plans of the Hague Conference. At that date the present League of
Nations Covenant would have been adequate to the situation. But some of
the self-same Conservatives who now talk the language of
internationalism--even in economic terms--poured contumely and scorn
upon those of us who used it a decade or two since. And now, it is to be
feared, the Government for which they are ready will certainly be
inadequate to the situation which we face.

_'An evil idealism and self-sacrificing hates.'_

'The cause of this insanity,' says Sir Philip Gibbs, 'is the failure of
idealism.' Others write in much the same strain that selfishness and
materialism have reconquered the world. But this does not get us very
far. By what moral alchemy was this vast outpouring of unselfishness,
which sent millions to their death as to a feast (for men cannot die for
selfish motives, unless more certain of their heavenly reward than we in
the Western world are in the habit of being) turned into selfishness;
their high ideals into low desires--if that is what has happened? Can it
be a selfishness which ruins and starves us all? Is it selfishness on
the part of the French which causes them to adopt towards Germany a
policy of vengeance that prevents them receiving the Reparations that
they so sorely need? Is it not indeed what one of their writers had
called a 'holy hate,' instinctive, intuitive, purged of all calculation
of advantage or disadvantage? Would not selfishness--enlightened
selfishness--have given us not only a sounder Europe in the material
sense, but a more humane Europe, with its hostilities softened by the
very fact of contact and co-operation, and the very obviousness of our
need for one another? The last thing desired here is to raise the old
never-ending question of egoism versus altruism. All that is desired is
to point out that a mere appeal to feeling, to a 'sense of
righteousness' and idealism, is not enough. We have an illimitable
capacity for sublimating our own motives, and of convincing ourselves
completely, passionately, that our evil is good. And the greater our
fear that intellectual inquiry, some sceptical rationalism, might shake
the certitude of our righteousness, the greater the passion with which
we shall stand by the guide of 'instinct and intuition.' Can there not
be a destructive idealism as well as a social one? What of the Holy
Wars? What of the Prussian who, after all, had his ideal, as the
Bolshevist has his? What of all fanatics ready to die for their

It is never the things that are obviously and patently evil that
constitute the real menace to mankind. If Prussian nationalism had been
nothing but gross lust and cruelty and oppression, as we managed to
persuade ourselves during the War that it was, it would never have
menaced the world. It did that because it could rally to its end great
enthusiasms; because men were ready to die for it. Then it threatened
us. Only those things which have some element of good are dangerous.

A Treaty of the character of that Versailles would never have been
possible if men had not been able to justify it to themselves on the
ground of its punitive justice. The greeds expressed in the annexation
of alien territory, and the violation of the principle of nationality,
would never have been possible but for the plea of the sacred egoism of
patriotism; our country before the enemy's, our country right or wrong.
The assertion of sheer immoralism embodied in this last slogan can be
made into the garments of righteousness if only our idealism is
instinctive enough.

Some of the worst crimes against justice have been due to the very
fierceness of our passion for righteousness--a passion so fierce that it
becomes undiscriminating and unseeing. It was the passion for what men
believed to be religious truth which gave us the Inquisition and the
religious wars; it was the passion for patriotism which made France for
so many years, to the astonishment of the world, refuse justice to
Dreyfus; it is a righteous loathing for negro crime which has made
lynching possible for half a century in the United States, and which
prevents the development of an opinion which will insist on its
suppression. It is 'the just anger that makes men unjust.' The righteous
passion that insists on a criminal's dying for some foul crime, is the
very thing which prevents our seeing that the crime was not committed by
him at all.

It was something akin to this that made the Treaty of Versailles
possible. That is why merely to appeal to idealism and feeling will
fail, unless the defect of vision which makes evil appear good is
corrected. It is not the feeling which is at fault; it is the defective
vision causing feeling to be misused, as in the case of our feeling
against the man accused on what seem to us good grounds, of a detestable
offence. He is loathsome to our sight, because the crime is loathsome.
But when some one else confesses to the crime, our feeling against the
innocent man disappears. The direction it took, the object upon which it
settled, was due to a misconception.

Obviously that error may occur in politics. Equally certainly something
worse may happen. With some real doubt in our mind whether this man is
the criminal, we may yet, in the absence of any other culprit, stifle
that doubt because of our anger, and our vague desire to have some
victim suffer for so vile a crime. Feeling will be at fault, in such a
case, as well as vision. And this thing happens, as many a lynching
testifies. ('The innocence of Dreyfus would be a crime,' said a famous
anti-Dreyfusard.) Both defects may have played their part in the tragedy
of Versailles. In making our appeal to idealism, we assume that it is
there, somewhere, to be aroused on behalf of justice; we must assume,
consequently, that if it has not been aroused, or has attached itself to
wrong purposes, it is because it has not seen where justice lay.

Our only protection against these miscarriages, by which our passion is
borne into the wrong channel, against the innocent while the guilty
escape, is to keep our minds open to all the facts, all the truth. But
this principle, which we have proclaimed as the very foundation stone of
our democratic faith, was the first to go when we began the War. The
idea that in war time, most particularly, a democracy needs to know the
enemy's, or the Pacifist, or even the internationalist and liberal case,
would have been regarded as a bad joke. Yet the failure to do just that
thing inevitably created a conviction that all the wrong was on one side
and all the right on the other, and that the problem of the settlement
was mainly a problem of ruthless punishment. One of that temper may have
come the errors of the Treaty and the miseries that have flowed from
them. It was the virtual suppression of free debate on the purposes and
aims of the War and their realisation that delivered public opinion into
the keeping of the extremest Jingoes when we came to make the peace.

_We create the temper that destroys us_

Behind the war-time attitude of the belligerents, when they suppressed
whatever news might tell in favour of the enemy, was the conviction that
if we could really understand the enemy's position we should not want to
fight him. That is probably true. Let us assume that, and assume
consequently the need for control of news and discussion. If we are to
come to the control by governments of political belief, as we once
attempted control by ecclesiastical authority of religious belief, let
us face the fact, and drop pretence about freedom of discussion, and see
that the organisation of opinion is honest and efficient. There is a
great deal to be said for the suppression of freedom of discussion. Some
of the greatest minds in the world have refused to accept it as a
working principle of society. Theirs is a perfectly arguable, extremely
strong and thoroughly honest case.[80] But virtually to subpress the
free dissemination of facts, as we have done not only during, but after
the War, and at the same time to go on with our talk about free speech,
free Press, free discussion, free democracy is merely to add to the
insincerities and falsehoods, which can only end by making society
unworkable. We not only disbelieve in free discussion in the really
vital crises; we disbelieve in truth. That is one fact. There is another
related to it. If we frankly admitted that public opinion has to be
'managed,' organised, shaped, we should demand that it be done
efficiently with a view to the achievement of conscious ends, which we
should place before ourselves. What happened during the War was that
everybody, including the governments who ought to have been free from
the domination of the myths they were engaged in creating, lost sight of
the ultimate purposes of the War, and of the fact that they were
creating forces which would make the attainment of those ends
impossible; rob victory, that is, of its effectiveness.

Note how the process works. We say when war is declared: 'A truce to
discussion. The time is for action, not words.' But the truce is a
fiction. It means, not that talk and propaganda shall cease, only that
all liberal contribution to it must cease. The _Daily News_ suspends its
internationalism, but the _Daily Mail_ is more fiercely Chauvinist than
ever. We must not debate terms. But Mr Bottomley debates them every
week, on the text that Germans are to be exterminated like vermin. What
results? The natural defenders of a policy even as liberal as that of an
Edward Grey are silenced. The function of the liberal Press is
suspended. The only really articulate voices on policy are the voices of
Lord Northcliffe and Mr Bottomley. On such subjects as foreign policy
those gentlemen do not ordinarily embrace all wisdom; there is something
to be said in criticism of their views. But in the matter of the future
settlement of Europe, to have criticised those views during the War
would have exposed the critic to the charge of pro-Germanism. So
Chauvinism had it all its own way. For months and years the country
heard one view of policy only. The early policy of silence did really
impose a certain silence upon the _Daily News_ or the _Manchester
Guardian_; none whatever upon the _Times_ or the _Daily Mail_. None of
us can, day after day, be under the influence of such a process without
being affected by it.[81] The British public were affected by it. Sir
Edward Grey's policy began to appear weak, anæmic, pro-German. And in
the end he and his colleagues disappeared, partly, at least, as the
result of the very policy of 'leaving it to the Government' upon which
they had insisted at the beginning of the War. And the very group which,
in 1914, was most insistent that there should be no criticism of
Asquith, or McKenna, or Grey, were the very group whose criticisms
turned those leaders out of office! While in 1914 it was accepted as
proof of treason to say a word in criticism of (say) Grey, by 1916 it
had almost become evidence of treason to say a word for him ... and that
while he was still in office!

The history of America's attitude towards the War displays a similar
line of development. We are apt to forget that the League of Nations
idea entered the realm of practical politics as the result of a great
spontaneous popular movement in America in 1916, as powerful and
striking as any since the movement against chattel-slavery. A year of
war morale resulted, as has already been noted, in a complete reversal
of attitude. America became the opponent and Britain the protagonist of
the League of Nations.

In passing, one of the astonishing things is that statesmen, compelled
by the conditions of their profession to work with the raw material of
public opinion, seem blind to the fact that the total effect of the
forces which they set in motion will be to transform opinion and render
it intractable. American advisers of President Wilson scouted the idea,
when it was suggested to them early in the War, that the growth of the
War temper would make it difficult for the President to carry out his
policy.[82] A score of times the present writer has heard it said by
Americans who ought to have known better, that the public did not care
what the foreign policy of the country was, and that the President could
carry out any policy that he liked. At that particular moment it was
true, but quite obviously there was growing up at the time, as the
direct result of war propaganda, a fierce Chauvinism, which should have
made it plain to any one who observed its momentum, that the notion of
President Wilson's policy being put into execution after victory was
simply preposterous.

Mr Asquith's Government was thus largely responsible for creating a
balance of force in public opinion (as we shall see presently) which was
responsible for its collapse. Mr Lloyd George has himself sanctioned a
jingoism which, if useful temporarily, becomes later an insuperable
obstacle to the putting into force of workable policies. For while
Versailles could do what it liked in matters that did not touch the
popular passion of the moment, in the matters that did, the statesmen
were the victims of the temper they had done so much to create. There
was a story current in Paris at the time of the Conference: 'You can't
really expect to get an indemnity of ten thousand millions, so what is
the good of putting it in the Treaty,' an expert is said to have
remarked. 'My dear fellow,' said the Prime Minister, 'if the election
had gone on another fortnight, it would have been fifty thousand
millions.' But the insertion of these mythical millions into the Treaty
has not been a joke; it has been an enormous obstacle to the
reconstruction of Europe. It was just because public opinion was not
ready to face facts in time, that the right thing had to be done at the
wrong time, when perhaps it was too late. The effect on French policy
has been still more important. It is the illusions concerning
illimitable indemnities--directly fostered by the Governments in the
early days of the Armistice--still dominating French public opinion,
which more than anything else, perhaps, explains an attitude on the part
of the French Government that has come near to smashing Europe.

Even minds extraordinarily brilliant, as a rule, miscalculated the
weight of this factor of public passion stimulated by the hates of war,
and the deliberate exploitation of it for purposes of 'war morale' and
propaganda. Thus Mr Wells,[83] writing even after two years of war,
predicted that if the Germans were to make a revolution and overthrow
the Kaiser, the Allies would 'tumble over each other' to offer Germany
generous terms. What is worse is that British propaganda in enemy
countries seems to have been based very largely on this assumption.[84]
It constituted an elaboration of the offers implicit in Mr Wilson's
speeches, that once Germany was democratised there should be, in Mr
Wilson's words, 'no reprisal upon the German people, who have themselves
suffered all things in this War which they did not choose.' The
statement made by the German rulers that Germany was fighting against a
harsh and destructive fate at the hands of the victors, was, President
Wilson said, 'wantonly false.' 'No one is threatening the peaceful
enterprise of the German Empire.' Our propaganda in Germany seems to
have been an expansion of this text, while the negotiations which
preceded the Armistice morally bound us to a 'Fourteen Points peace'
(less the British reservation touching the Freedom of the Seas). The
economic terms of the Peace Treaty, the meaning of which has been so
illuminatingly explained by the representative of the British Treasury
at the Conference, give the measure of our respect for that obligation
of honour, once we had the Germans at our mercy.[85]

_Fundamental Falsehoods and their Outcome_

We witnessed both in England and America very great changes in the
dynamics of opinion. Not only was one type of public man being brought
forward and another thrust into the background, but one group of
emotions and of motives of public policy were being developed and
another group atrophied. The use of the word 'opinion,' with its
implication of a rationalised process of intellectual decision, may be
misleading. 'Public opinion' is here used as the sum of the forces which
become articulate in a country, and which a government is compelled not
necessarily to obey, but to take into account. (A government may
bamboozle it or dodge it, but it cannot openly oppose it.)

And when reference is made to the force of ideas--Nationalist or
Socialist or Revolutionary--a power which we all admit by our panic
fears of defeatist or Red Propaganda, it is necessary to keep in mind
the kind of force that is meant. One speaks of Communist or Socialist,
Pacifist or Patriotic ideas gaining influence, or creating a ferment.
The idea of Communism, for instance, has obviously played some part in
the vast upheavals that have followed the War.[86] But in a world where
the great majority are still condemned to intense physical labour in
order to live at all, where peoples as a whole are overworked, harassed,
pre-occupied, it is impossible that ideas like those of Karl Marx
should be subjected to elaborate intellectual analysis. Rather is it
_an_ idea--of the common ownership of wealth or its equal distribution,
of poverty being the fault of a definite class of the corporate body--an
idea which fits into a mood produced largely by the prevailing
conditions of life, which thus becomes the predominating factor of the
new public opinion. Now foreign policy is certainly influenced, and in
some great crises determined, by public opinion. But that opinion is not
the resultant of a series of intellectual analyses of problems of Balkan
nationalities or of Eastern frontiers; that is an obvious impossibility
for a busy headline-reading public, hard at work all day and thirsty for
relaxation and entertainment at night. The public opinion which makes
itself felt in Foreign Policy--which, when war is in the balance after a
longish period of peace, gives the preponderance of power to the most
Chauvinistic elements; which, at the end of a war and on the eve of
Treaty-making, as in the December 1918 election, insists upon a
rigorously punitive peace--this opinion is the result of a few
predominant 'sovereign ideas' or conceptions giving a direction to
certain feelings.

Take one such sovereign idea, that of the enemy nation as a person: the
conception of it as a completely responsible corporate body. Some
offence is committed by a German: 'Germany' did it, Germany including
all Germans. To punish any German is to inflict satisfactory punishment
for the offence, to avenge it. The idea, when we examine it, is found to
be extremely abstract, with but the faintest relation to human
realities. 'They drowned my brother,' said an Allied airman, when asked
his feelings on a reprisal bombing raid over German cities. Thus,
because a sailor from Hamburg drowns an Englishman in the North Sea, an
old woman in a garret in Freiburg, or some children, who have but dimly
heard of the war, and could not even remotely be held responsible for
it, or have prevented it, are killed with a clear conscience because
they are German. We cannot understand the Chinese, who punish one member
of a family for another's fault, yet that is very much more rational
than the conception which we accept as the most natural thing in the
world. It is never questioned, indeed, until it is applied to ourselves.
When the acts of British troops in Ireland or India, having an
extraordinary resemblance to German acts in Belgium, are taken by
certain American newspapers as showing that 'Britain,' (_i.e._ British
people) is a bloodthirsty monster who delights in the killing of unarmed
priests or peasants, we know that somehow the foreign critic has got it
all wrong. We should realise that for some Irishman or Indian to
dismember a charwoman or decapitate a little girl in Somersetshire,
because of the crime of some Black and Tan in Cork, or English General
at Amritsar, would be unadulterated savagery, a sort of dementia. In any
case the poor folk in Somerset were not responsible; millions of English
folk are not. They are only dimly aware of what goes on in India or
Ireland, and are not really able in all matters, by any means, to
control their government--any more than the Americans are able to
control theirs.

Yet the idea of responsibility attaching to a whole group, as
justification for retaliation, is a very ancient idea, savage, almost
animal in its origin. And anything can make a collectivity. To one small
religious sect in a village it is a rival sect who are the enemies of
the human race; in the mind of the tortured negro in the Congo any man,
woman, or child of the white world could fairly be punished for the
pains that he has suffered.[87] The conception has doubtless arisen out
of something protective, some instinct useful, indispensable to the
race; as have so many of the instincts which, applied unadapted to
altered conditions, become socially destructive.

Here then is evidence of a great danger, which can, in some measure, be
avoided on one condition: that the truth about the enemy collectively is
told in such a way as to be a reminder to us not to slip into injustices
that, barbarous in themselves, drag us back into barbarism.

But note how all the machinery of Press control and war-time colleges of
propaganda prepared the public mind for the extremely difficult task of
the settlement and Treaty-making that lay before it. (It was a task in
which everything indicated that, unless great care were taken, public
judgment would be so swamped in passion that a workable peace would be
impossible.) The more tribal and barbaric aspect of the conception of
collective responsibility was fortified by the intensive and deliberate
exploitation of atrocities during the years of the War. The atrocities
were not just an incident of war-time news: the principal emotions of
the struggle came to centre around them. Millions whom the obscure
political debate behind the conflict left entirely cold, were profoundly
moved by these stories of cruelty and barbarity. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
was among those who urged their systematic exploitation on that ground,
in a Christmas communication to the _Times_.[88] With reference to
stories of German cruelty, he said:--

     'Hate has its uses in war, as the Germans have long discovered. It
     steels the mind and sets the resolution as no other emotion can do.
     So much do they feel this that Germans are constrained to invent
     all sorts of reasons for hatred against us, who have, in truth,
     never injured them in any way save that history and geography both
     place us before them and their ambitions. To nourish hatred they
     invent every lie against us, and so they attain a certain national

     'The bestiality of the German nation has given us a driving power
     which we are not using, and which would be very valuable in this
     stage of the war. Scatter the facts. Put them in red-hot fashion.
     Do not preach to the solid south, who need no conversion, but
     spread the propaganda wherever there are signs of any intrigue--on
     the Tyne, the Clyde, in the Midlands, above all in Ireland, and
     French Canada. Let us pay no attention to platitudinous Bishops or
     gloomy Deans or any other superior people, who preach against
     retaliation or whole-hearted warfare. We have to win, and we can
     only win by keeping up the spirit of resolution of our own people.'

Particularly does Sir Arthur Conan Doyle urge that the munition
workers--who were, it will be remembered, largely woman--be stimulated
by accounts of atrocities:

     'The munition workers have many small vexations to endure, and
     their nerves get sadly frayed. They need strong elemental emotions
     to carry them on. Let pictures be made of this and other incidents.
     Let them be hung in every shop. Let them be distributed thickly in
     the Sinn Fein districts of Ireland, and in the hot-beds of
     Socialism and Pacifism in England and Scotland. The Irishman has
     always been of a most chivalrous nature.'

It is possible that Sinn Fein has now taken to heart this counsel as to
the use that may be made of cruelties committed by the enemy in war.

Now there is no reason to doubt the truth of atrocities, whether they
concern the horrible ill-treatment of prisoners in war-time of which Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle writes, or the burning alive of negro women in peace
time in Texas and Alabama, or the flogging of women in India, or
reprisals by British soldiers in Ireland, or by Red Russians against
White and White against Red. Every story may be true. And if each side
told the whole truth, instead of a part of it, these atrocities would
help us towards an understanding of this complex nature of ours. But we
never do tell the whole truth. Always in war-time does each side leave
out two things essential to the truth: the good done by the enemy and
the evil done by ourselves. If that elementary condition of truth were
fulfilled, these pictures of cruelty, bestiality, obscenity, rape,
sadism, sheer ferocity, might possibly tell us this: 'There is the
primeval tiger in us; man's history--and especially the history of his
wars--is full of these warnings of the depths to which he can descend.
Those ten thousand men and women of pure English stock gloating over the
helpless prisoners whom they are slowly roasting alive, are not normally
savages.[89] Most of them are kindly and decent folk. These stories of
the September massacres of the Terror no more prove French nature to be
depraved than the history of the Inquisition, or of Ireland or India,
proves Spanish or British nature to be depraved.'

But the truth is never so told. It was not so told during the War. Day
after day, month after month, we got these selected stories. In the
Press, in the cinemas, in Church services, they were related to us. The
message the atrocity carried was not: here is a picture of what human
nature is capable of; let us be on our guard that nothing similar marks
our history. That was neither the intention nor the result of
propaganda. It said in effect and was intended to say:--

'This lecherous brute abusing a woman is a picture of Germany. All
Germans are like that; and no people but Germans are like that. That
sort of thing never happens in other armies; cruelty, vengeance, and
blood-lust are unknown in the Allied forces. That is why we are at war.
Remember this at the peace table.'

That falsehood was conveyed by what the Press and the cinema
systematically left out. While they told us of every vile thing done by
the enemy, they told us of not one act of kindness or mercy among all
those hundred million during the years of war.

The suppression of everything good of the enemy was paralleled by the
suppression of everything evil done by our side. You may search Press
and cinemas in vain for one single story of brutality committed by
Serbian, Rumanian, Greek, Italian, French, or Russian--until the last in
time became an enemy. Then suddenly our papers were full of Russian
atrocities. At first these were Bolshevik atrocities only, and of the
'White' troops we heard no evil. Then when later the self-same Russian
troops that had fought on our side during the War fought Poland, our
papers were full of the atrocities inflicted on Poles.

By the daily presentation during years of a picture which makes the
enemy so entirely bad as not to be human at all, and ourselves entirely
good, the whole nature of the problem is changed. Admit these premises,
and policies like those proposed by Mr Wells become sheer rubbish. They
are based on the assumption that Germans are accessible to ordinary
human influences like other human beings. But every day for years we
have been denying that premise. If the daily presentation of the facts
is a true presentation, the _New York Tribune_ is right:--

     'We shall not get permanent peace by treating the Hun as if he were
     not a Hun. One might just as well attempt to cure a man-eating
     tiger of his hankering for human flesh by soft words as to break
     the German of his historic habits by equally futile kind words. The
     way to treat a German, while Germans follow their present methods,
     is as a common peril to all civilised mankind. Since the German
     employs the method of the wild beast he must be treated as beyond
     the appeal of generous or kind methods. When one is generous to a
     German, he plans to take advantage of that generosity to rob or
     murder; this is his international history, never more
     conspicuously illustrated than here in America. Kindness he
     interprets as fear, regard for international law as proof of
     decadence; agitation for disarmament has been for him the final
     evidence of the degeneracy of his neighbours.'[90]

That conclusion is inevitable if the facts are really as presented by
the _Daily Mail_ for four years. The problem of peace in that case is
not one of finding a means of dealing, by the discipline of a common
code or tradition, with common shortcomings--violences, hates,
cupidities, blindnesses. The problem is not of that nature at all. We
don't have these defects; they are German defects. For five years we
have indoctrinated the people with a case, which if true, renders only
one policy in Europe admissible; either the ruthless extermination of
these monsters, who are not human beings at all; or their permanent
subjugation, the conversion of Germany into a sort of world lunatic

When therefore the big public, whether in America or France or Britain,
simply will not hear (in 1919) of any League of Nations that shall ever
include Germany they are right--if we have been telling them the truth.

Was it necessary thus to 'organise' hate for the purposes of war?
Violent partisanship would assuredly assert itself in war-time without
such stimulus. And if we saw more clearly the relationship of these
instincts and emotions to the formation of policy, we should organise,
not their development, but their restraint and discipline, or, that
being impossible in sufficient degree (which it may be), organise their
re-direction to less anti-social ends.

As it was, it ended by making the war entered upon sincerely, so far as
public feeling was concerned, for a principle or policy, simply a war
for no purpose beyond victory--and finally for domination at the price
of its original purpose. For one who is attracted to the purpose, a
thousand are attracted to the war--the simple success of 'our side.'
Partisanship as a motive is animal in its deep, remote innateness.
Little boys and girls at the time of the University boat race will
choose the Oxford or the Cambridge colours, and from that moment
passionately desire the victory of 'their' side. They may not know what
Oxford is, or what a University is, or what a boat race is: it does not
in the least detract from the violence of their partisanship. You get
therefore a very simple mathematical explanation of the increasing
subservience of the War's purpose to the simple purpose of victory and
domination for itself. Every child can understand and feel for the
latter, very few adults for the former.

This competitive feeling, looking to victory, domination, is feeding the
whole time the appetite for power. These instincts, and the clamant
appetite for domination and coercion are whetted to the utmost and then
re-inforced by a moral indignation, which justifies the impulse to
retaliation on the ground of punitive justice for inhuman horrors. We
propose to establish with this outlaw a relationship of contract! To
bargain with him about our respective rights! In the most favourable
circumstances it demands a very definite effort of discipline to impose
upon ourselves hampering restrictions in the shape of undertakings to
another Power, when we believe that we are in a position to impose our
will. But to suggest imposing upon ourselves the restrictions of such a
relationship with an enemy of the human race.... The astonishing thing
is that those who acquiesced in this deliberate cultivation of the
emotions and instincts inseparable from violent partisanship, should
ever have expected a policy of impartial justice to come out of that
state of mind. They were asking for psychological miracles.

That the propaganda was in large part conscious and directed was proved
by the ease with which the flood of atrocity stories could suddenly be
switched over from Germans to Russians. During the time that the Russian
armies were fighting on our side, there was not a single story in our
Press of Russian barbarity. But when the same armies, under the same
officers, are fighting against the Poles, atrocities even more ingenious
and villainous than those of the Germans in Belgium suddenly
characterise the conduct of the Russian troops. The atrocities are
transposed with an ease equal to that with which we transfer our
loyalties.[91] When Pilsudski's troops fought against Russia, all the
atrocities were committed by them, and of the Russian troops we heard
nothing but heroism. When Brusiloff fights under Bolshevik command our
papers print long Polish accounts of the Russian barbarities.

We have seen that behind the conception of the enemy as a single person
is a falsehood: it is obvious that seventy millions of men, women, and
children, of infinitely varying degrees of responsibility, are not a
single person. The falsehood may be, in some degree, an unwitting one, a
primitive myth that we have inherited from tribal forbears. But if that
is so, we should control our news with a view to minimizing the dangers
of mythical fallacies, bequeathed to us by a barbaric past. If it is
necessary to use them for the purposes of war morale, we should drop
them when the war is over, and pass round the word, to the Churches for
instance, that on the signing of an armistice the moratorium of the
Sermon on the Mount comes to an end. As it is, two years after the
Armistice, an English Vicar tells his congregation that to bring
Austrian children to English, to save them from death by famine, is an
unpatriotic and seditious act.

Note where the fundamental dishonesties of our propaganda lead us in the
matter of policy, in what we declared to be one of the main objects of
the War: the erection of Europe upon a basis of nationality. Our whole
campaign implied that the problem resolved itself into the destruction
of one great Power, who denied that principle, as against the Allies,
who were ready to grant it. How near that came to the truth, the round
score of 'unredeemed' nationalities deliberately created by the Allies
in the Treaties sufficiently testifies. If we had avowed the facts, that
a Europe of completely independent nationalities is not possible, that
great populations will not be shut off from the sea, or recognise
independent nationalities to the extent of risking economic or political
strangulation, we should then necessarily have gone on to devise the
limitations and obligations which all must accept and the rights which
all must accord. We should have been fighting for a body of principles
as the basis of a real association of States. The truth, or some measure
of it, would have prepared us all for that limitation of independence
without which no nationality can be secure. The falsehood that Germany
alone stood in the way of the recognition of nationality, made a treaty
really based on that principle (namely, upon all of us consenting to
limit our independence) impossible of acceptance by our own opinion. And
one falsehood leads to another. Because we refused to be sincere about
the inducements which we held out in turn to Italy, Bulgaria, Rumania,
Greece, we staggered blindly into the alternative betrayal first of one
party, then of another. Just as we were faithless to the principle of
nationality when we acquiesced in the Russian attitude towards Finland
and Poland, and the Italian towards Serbia, so later we were to prove
faithless to the principle of the Great State when we supported the
Border Nationalities in their secession from Russia. We have encouraged
and helped States like Ukrainia, Azerbaidjan. But we have been just as
ready to stand for 'Great Russia,' if Koltchak appeared to be winning,
knowing perfectly well that we cannot be loyal to both causes.

Our defence is apparent enough. It is fairly illustrated in the case of
Italy. If Italy had not come into the war, Serbia's prospect of any
redemption at all would have been hopeless; we were doing the best we
could for Serbia.[92]

Assuredly--but we happened to be doing it by false pretences, sham
heroics, immeasurable hypocrisy. And the final effect was to be the
defeat of the aims for which we were fighting. If our primary aims had
been those we proclaimed, we could no more have violated the principle
of nationality to gain an ally, than we could have ceded the Isle of
Wight to Germany, and the intellectual rectitude which would have
enabled us to see that, would also have enabled us to see the necessity
of the conditions on which alone a society of nations is possible.

The indispensable step to rendering controllable those passions now
'uncontrollable' and disrupting Europe, is to tell the truth about the
things by which we excuse them. Again, our fundamental nature may not
change, any more than it would if we honestly investigated the evidence
proving the innocence of the man, whose execution we demand, of the
crime which is the cause of our hatred. That investigation would be an
effort of the mind; the result of it would be a change in the direction
of our feelings. The facts which it is necessary to face are not
abstruse or difficult. They are self-evident to the simplest mind. The
fact that the 'person' whose punishment we demand in the case of the
enemy is not a person at all, either bad or good, but millions of
different persons of varying degrees of badness and goodness, many of
them--millions--without any responsibility at all for the crime that
angers us, this fact, if faced, would alter the nature of our feelings.
We should see that we were confronted by a case of mistaken identity.
Perhaps we do not face this evidence because we treasure our hate. If
there were not a 'person' our hate could have no meaning; we could not
hate an 'administrative area,' nor is there much satisfaction in
humiliating it and dominating it. We can desire to dominate and
humiliate a person, and are often ready to pay a high price for the
pleasure. If we ceased to think of national States as persons, we might
cease to think of them as conflicting interests, in competition with one
another, and begin to think of them instead as associations within a
great association.

Take another very simple truth that we will not face: that our arms do,
and must do, the things that raise our passions when done by the enemy.
Our blockades and bombardments also kill old women and children. Our
soldiers, too, the gallant lads who mount our aeroplanes, the sailors
who man our blockades, are baby-killers. They must be; they cannot help
it if they are to bomb or blockade at all. Yet we never do admit this
obvious fact. We erect a sheer falsehood, and then protect ourselves
against admitting it by being so 'noble' about it that we refuse to
discuss it. We simply declare that in no circumstances could England, or
English soldiers, ever make war upon women and children, or even be
unchivalrous to them. That is a moral premise beyond or behind which
patriotism will not permit our minds to go. If the 'nobility' of
attitude had any relation to our real conduct, one would rejoice. When,
during the armistice negotiations, the Germans exacted that they should
be permitted means, after the surrender of their fleet, of feeding their
people, a New York paper declared the condition an insult to the Allies.
'The Germans are prisoners,' it said, 'and the Allies do not starve
prisoners.' But one discovers a few weeks later that these noble
gestures are quite compatible with the maintenance of the blockade, on
the ground that Germans for their sins ought to be starved. We then
become the agents of Providence in punitive justice.

When the late Lord Fisher[93] came out squarely and publicly in defence
of the killing of women and children (in the submarine sinking) as a
necessary part of war, there seemed a chance for intellectual honesty in
the matter; for a real examination of the principles of our conduct. If
we faced the facts in this honest sailor-like fashion there was some
hope either that we should refuse to descend to reprisals by
disembowelling little girls; or, if it should appear that such things
are inseparable from war, that it would help to get a new feeling about
war. But Lord Fisher complains that the Editor of the paper to which he
sent his letter suppressed it from the later editions of his paper for
fear it should shock the public. Shock!

You see, _our_ shells falling on schools and circuses don't disembowel
little girls; our blockades don't starve them. Everybody knows that
British shells and British blockades would not do such things. When
Britain blockades, pestilence and hunger and torture are not suffering;
a dying child is not a dying child. Patriotism draws a shutter over our
eyes and ears.

When this degree of self-deception is possible, there is no infamy of
which a kindly, humane, and emotionally moral people may not prove
themselves capable; no moral contradiction or absurdity which mankind
may not approve. Anything may become right, anything may become wrong.

The evil is not only in its resultant inhumanities. It lies much more in
the fact that this development of moral blinkers deprives us of the
capacity to see where we are going, and what we are crushing underfoot;
and that may well end by our walking over the precipice.

During the War, we formed judgments of the German character which
literally make it sub-human. For our praise of the French (during the
same period) language failed us. Yet less than twenty years ago the
rôles were reversed.[94] The French were the mad dogs, and the Germans
of our community of blood.

The refusal to face the plain facts of life, a refusal made on grounds
which we persuade ourselves are extremely noble, but which in fact
result too often in simple falsehood and distortion, is revealed by the
common pre-war attitude to the economic situation dealt with in this
book. The present writer took the ground before the War that much of the
dense population of modern Europe could not support itself save by
virtue of an economic internationalism which political ideas (ideas
which war would intensify) were tending to make impossible. Now it is
obvious that before there can be a spiritual life, there must be a
fairly adequate physical one. If life is a savage and greedy scramble
over the means of sheer physical sustenance, there cannot be much in it
that is noble and inspiring. The point of the argument was, as already
mentioned, not that the economic pre-occupation _should_ occupy the
whole of life, but that it _will_ if it is simply disregarded; the way
to reduce the economic pre-occupation is to solve the economic problem.
Yet these plain and undeniable truths were somehow twisted into the
proposition that men went to war because they believed it 'paid,' in the
stockbroking sense, and that if they saw it did not 'pay' they would not
go to war. The task of attempting to find the conditions in which it
will be possible for men to live at all with decent regard for their
fellows, without drifting into cannibalistic struggles for sustenance
one against another, is made to appear something sordid, a 'usurer's
gospel.' And on that ground, very largely, the 'economics' of
international policy were neglected. We are still facing the facts. Self
deception has become habitual.

President Wilson failed to carry through the policy he had proclaimed,
as greater men have failed in similar moral circumstances. The failure
need not have been disastrous to the cause which he had espoused. It
might have marked merely a step towards ultimate success, if he had
admitted the failure. Had he said in effect: 'Reaction has won this
battle; we have been guilty of errors and shortcomings, but we shall
maintain the fight, and avoid such errors in future,' he would have
created for the generation which followed a clear-cut issue. Whatever
there was of courage and sincerity of purpose in the idealism he had
created earlier in the War, would have rallied to his support. Just
because such a declaration would have created an issue dividing men
sharply and even bitterly, it would have united each side strongly; men
would have had the two paths clearly and distinctly before their eyes,
and though forced for the time along that of reaction, they would have
known the direction in which they were travelling. Again and again
victory has come out of defeat; again and again defeat has nerved men to
greater effort.

But when defeat is represented as victory by the trusted leader, there
follows the subtlest and most paralysing form of confusion and doubt.
Men no longer know who are the friends and who the enemies of the things
they care for. When callous cruelty is called righteous, and cynical
deception justice, men begin to lose their capacity to distinguish the
one from the other, and to change sides without consciousness of their

In the field of social relationship, the better management by men of
their society, a sincere facing of the simple truths of life, right
conclusions from facts that are of universal knowledge, are of
immeasurably greater importance than erudition. Indeed we see that again
and again learning obscures in this field the simpler truths. The
Germany that had grown up before the War is a case in point. Vast
learning, meticulous care over infinite detail, had become the mark of
German scholarship. But all the learning of the professors did not
prevent a gross misreading of what, to the rest of the world, seemed all
but self-evident--simple truths which perhaps would have been clearer if
the learning had been less, used as it was to buttress the lusts of
domination and power.

The main errors of the Treaty (which, remember, was the work of the
greatest diplomatic experts in Europe) reveal something similar. If the
punitive element--which is still applauded--defeats finally the aims
alike of justice, our own security, appeasement, disarmament, and sets
up moral forces that will render our New World even more ferociously
cruel and hopeless than the Old, it will not be because we were ignorant
of the fact that 'Germany'--or 'Austria' or 'Russia'--is not a person
that can be held responsible and punished in this simple fashion. It did
not require an expert knowledge of economics to realise that a ruined
Germany could not pay vast indemnities. Yet sometimes very learned men
were possessed by these fallacies. It is not learning that is needed to
penetrate them. A wisdom founded simply on the sincere facing of
self-evident facts would have saved European opinion from its most
mischievous excesses. This ignorance of the learned may perhaps be
related to another phenomenon; a great increase in our understanding of
inert matter, unaccompanied by any corresponding increase in our
understanding of human conduct. This latter understanding demands a
temperamental self-control and detachment, which mere technical
knowledge does not ask. Although in technical science we have made such
advances as would cause the Athenians, say, to look on us as gods, we
show no corresponding advance upon them, or upon the Hebrew prophets for
that matter, in the understanding of conduct and its motives. And the
spectacle of Germany--of the modern world, indeed--so efficient in the
management of matter, so clumsy in the understanding of the essentials
of human relationship, reminds us once more of the futility of mere
technical knowledge, unless accompanied by a better moral understanding.
For without the latter we are unable to use the improvement in technique
(as Europe is unable to use it to-day) for indispensable human ends. Or
worse still, technical knowledge, in the absence of wisdom and
discipline, merely gives us more efficient weapons of collective
suicide. Butler's fantasy of the machines which men have made acquiring
a mind of their own, and then rounding upon their masters and
destroying them, has very nearly come true. If some new force, like the
release of atomic energy, had been discovered during this war, and
applied (as Mr Wells has imagined it being applied) to bombs that would
go on exploding without cessation for a week or two, we know that
passions ran so high that both sides would have used them, as both sides
in the next war will use super-poison gas and disease germs. Not only
the destruction, therefore, but the passion and the ruthlessness, the
fears and hates, the universal pre-emption of wealth for 'defence'
perpetually translating itself into preventive offence, would have
grown. Man's society would assuredly have been destroyed by the
instruments that he himself had made, and Butler's fantasy would have
come true.

It is coming true to-day. What starves Europe is not lack of technical
knowledge; there is more technical knowledge than when Europe could feed
itself. If we could combine our forces to effective co-operation, the
Malthusian dragon could be kept at bay. It is the group of ideas which
underlie the process of Balkanisation that stand in the way of turning
our combined forces against Nature instead of against one another.

We have gone wrong mainly in certain of the simpler and broader issues
of human relationship, and this book has attempted to disentangle from
the complex mass of facts in the international situation, those
'sovereign ideas' which constitute in crises the basic factors of public
action and opinion. In so doing there may have been some
over-simplification. That will not greatly matter, if the result is some
re-examination and clarification of the predominant beliefs that have
been analysed. 'Truth comes out of error more easily than out of
confusion,' as Bacon warned us. It is easier to correct a working
hypothesis of society, which is wrong in some detail, than to achieve
wise conduct in society without any social principle. If social or
political phenomena are for us first an unexplained tangle of forces,
and we live morally from hand to mouth, by opinions which have no
guiding principle, our emotions will be at the mercy first of one
isolated fact or incident, and then of another.

A certain parallel has more than once been suggested in these pages.
European society is to-day threatened with disintegration as the result
of ideas and emotions that have collected round Patriotism. A century or
two since it was threatened by ideas and passions which gathered round
religious dogma. By what process did we arrive at religious toleration
as a social principle? That question has been suggested because to
answer it may throw some light on our present problem of rendering
Patriotism a social instead of an anti-social force.

If to-day, for the most part, in Europe and America one sect can live
beside another in peace, where a century or two ago there would have
been fierce hatreds, wars, massacres, and burnings, it is not because
the modern population is more learned in theology (it is probably less
so), but rather conversely, because theological theory gave place to lay
judgment in the ordinary facts of life.

If we have a vast change in the general ideas of Europe in the religious
sphere, in the attitude of men to dogma, in the importance which they
attach to it, in their feeling about it; a change which for good or evil
is a vast one in its consequences, a moral and intellectual revulsion
which has swept away one great difficulty of human relationship and
transformed society; it is because the laity have brought the discussion
back to principles so broad and fundamental that the data became the
facts of human life and experience--data with which the common man is as
familiar as the scholar. Of the present-day millions for whom certain
beliefs of the older theologians would be morally monstrous, how many
have been influenced by elaborate study concerning the validity of this
or that text? The texts simply do not weigh with them, though for
centuries they were the only things that counted. What do weigh with
them are profounder and simpler things--a sense of justice,
compassion--things which would equally have led the man of the sixteenth
century to question the texts and the premises of the Church, if
discussion had been free. It is because it was not free that the social
instinct of the mass, the general capacity to order their relations so
as to make it possible for them to live together, became distorted and
vitiated. And the wars of religion resulted. To correct this vitiation,
to abolish these disastrous hates and misconceptions, elaborate learning
was not needed. Indeed, it was largely elaborate learning which had
occasioned them. The judges who burned women alive for witchcraft, or
inquisitors who sanctioned that punishment for heresy, had vast and
terrible stores of learning. _What was needed was that these learned
folk should question their premises in the light of facts of common
knowledge._ It is by so doing that their errors are patent to the quite
unlearned of our time. No layman was equipped to pass judgment on the
historical reasons which might support the credibility of this or that
miracle, or the intricate arguments which might justify this or that
point of dogma. But the layman was as well equipped, indeed, he was
better equipped than the schoolman, to question whether God would ever
torture men everlastingly for the expression of honest belief; the
observer of daily occurrences, to say nothing of the physicist, was as
able as the theologian to question whether a readiness to believe
without evidence is a virtue at all. Questions of the damnation of
infants, eternal torment, were settled not by the men equipped with
historical and ecclesiastical scholarship, but by the average man, going
back to the broad truths, to first principles, asking very simple
questions, the answer to which depended not upon the validity of texts,
but upon correct reasoning concerning facts which are accessible to all;
upon our general sense of life as a whole, and our more elementary
institutions of justice and mercy; reasoning and intuitions which the
learning of the expert often distorts.

Exactly the service which extricated us from the intellectual and moral
confusion that resulted in such catastrophes in the field of religion,
is needed in the field of politics. From certain learned folk--writers,
poets, professors (German and other), journalists, historians, and
rulers--the public have taken a group of ideas concerning Patriotism,
Nationalism, Imperialism, the nature of our obligation to the State, and
so on, ideas which may be right or wrong, but which we are all agreed,
will have to be very much changed if men are ever to live together in
peace and freedom; just as certain notions concerning the institution of
private property will have to be changed if the mass of men are to live
in plenty.

It is a commonplace of militarist argument that so long as men feel as
they do about their Fatherland, about patriotism and nationalism,
internationalism will be an impossibility. If that is true--and I think
it is--peace and freedom and welfare will wait until those large issues
have been raised in men's minds with sufficient vividness to bring about
a change of idea and so a change of feeling with reference to them.

It is unlikely, to say the least, that the mass of Englishmen or
Frenchmen will ever be in possession of detailed knowledge sufficient to
equip them to pass judgment on the various rival solutions of the
complex problems that face us, say, in the Balkans. And yet it was
immediately out of a problem of Balkan politics that the War arose, and
future wars may well arise out of those same problems if they are
settled as badly in the future as in the past.

The situation would indeed be hopeless if the nature of human
relationship depended upon the possession by the people as a whole of
expert knowledge in complex questions of that kind. But happily the
Sarajevo murders would never have developed into a war involving twenty
nations but for the fact that there had been cultivated in Europe
suspicions, hatreds, insane passions, and cupidities, due largely to
false conceptions (though in part also themselves prompting the false
conceptions) of a few simple facts in political relationship;
conceptions concerning the necessary rivalry of nations, the idea that
what one nation gains another loses, that States are doomed by a fate
over which they have no control to struggle together for the space and
opportunities of a limited world. But for the atmosphere that these
ideas create (as false theological notions once created a similar
atmosphere between rival religious groups) most of these at present
difficult and insoluble problems of nationality and frontiers and
government, would have solved themselves.

The ideas which feed and inflame these passions of rivalry, hostility,
fear, hate, will be modified, if at all, by raising in the mind of the
European some such simple elementary questions as were raised when he
began to modify his feeling about the man of rival religious belief. The
Political Reformation in Europe will come by questioning, for instance,
the whole philosophy of patriotism, the morality or the validity, in
terms of human well-being, of a principle like that of 'my country,
right or wrong';[95] by questioning whether a people really benefit by
enlarging the frontiers of their State; whether 'greatness' in a nation
particularly matters; whether the man of the small State is not in all
the great human values the equal of the man of the great Empire; whether
the real problems of life are greatly affected by the colour of the
flag; whether we have not loyalties to other things as well as to our
State; whether we do not in our demand for national sovereignty ignore
international obligation without which the nations can have neither
security nor freedom; whether we should not refuse to kill or horribly
mutilate a man merely because we differ from him in politics. And with
those, if the emergence from chattel-slavery is to be complemented by
the emergence from wage slavery, must be put similarly fundamental
questions touching problems like that of private property and the
relation of social freedom thereto; we must ask why, if it is rightly
demanded of the citizen that his life shall be forfeit to the safety of
the State, his surplus money, property, shall not be forfeit to its

To very many, these questions will seem a kind of blasphemy, and they
will regard those who utter them as the subjects of a loathsome
perversion. In just that way the orthodox of old regarded the heretic
and his blasphemies. And yet the solution of the difficulties of our
time, this problem of learning to live together without mutual homicide
and military slavery, depends upon those blasphemies being uttered.
Because it is only in some such way that the premises of the differences
which divide us, the realities which underlie them, will receive
attention. It is not that the implied answer is necessarily the truth--I
am not concerned now for a moment to urge that it is--but that until the
problem is pushed back in our minds to these great yet simple issues,
the will, temper, general ideas of Europe on this subject will remain
unchanged. And if _they_ remain unchanged so will its conduct and

The tradition of nationalism and patriotism, around which have gathered
our chief political loyalties and instincts, has become in the actual
conditions of the world an anti-social and disruptive force. Although we
realize perhaps that a society of nations of some kind there must be,
each unit proclaims proudly its anti-social slogan of sacred egoisms and
defiant immoralism; its espousal of country as against right.[96]

The danger--and the difficulty--resides largely in the fact that the
instincts of gregariousness and group solidarity, which prompt the
attitude of 'my country right or wrong,' are not in themselves evil:
both gregariousness and pugnacity are indispensable to society.
Nationality is a very precious manifestation of the instincts by which
alone men can become socially conscious and act in some corporate
capacity. The identification of 'self' with society, which patriotism
accomplishes within certain limits, the sacrifice of self for the
community which it inspires--even though only when fighting other
patriotisms--are moral achievements of infinite hope.

The Catharian heresy that Jehovah of the Old Testament is in reality
Satan masquerading as God has this pregnant suggestion; if the Father of
Evil ever does destroy us, we may be sure that he will come, not
proclaiming himself evil, but proclaiming himself good, the very Voice
of God. And that is the danger with patriotism and the instincts that
gather round it. If the instincts of nationalism were simply evil, they
would constitute no real danger. It is the good in them that has made
them the instrument of the immeasurable devastation which they

That Patriotism does indeed transcend all morality, all religious
sanctions as we have heretofore known them, can be put to a very simple
test. Let an Englishman, recalling, if he can, his temper during the
War, ask himself this question: Is there anything, anything whatsoever,
that he would have refused to do, if the refusal had meant the triumph
of Germany and the defeat of England? In his heart he knows that he
would have justified any act if the safety of his country had hung upon

Other patriotisms have like justifications. Yet would defeat,
submission, even to Germany, involve worse acts than those we have felt
compelled to commit during the War and since--in the work of making our
power secure? Did the German ask of the Alsatian or the Pole worse than
we have been compelled to ask of our own soldiers in Russia, India, or

The old struggle for power goes on. For the purpose of that struggle we
are prepared to transform our society in any way that it may demand. For
the purposes of the war for power we will accept anything that the
strength of the enemy imposes: we will be socialist, autocratic,
democratic, or communist; we will conscribe the bodies, souls, wealth of
our people; we will proscribe, as we do, the Christian doctrine, and
all mercy and humanity; we will organise falsehood and deceit, and call
it statecraft and strategy; lie for the purpose of inflaming hate, and
rejoice at the effectiveness of our propaganda; we will torture helpless
millions by pestilence and famine--as we have done--and look on unmoved;
our priests, in the name of Christ, will reprove misplaced pity, and
call for the further punishment of the wicked, still greater efforts in
the Fight for Right. We shall not care what transformations take place
in our society or our natures; or what happens to the human spirit.
Obediently, at the behest of the enemy--because, that is, his power
demands that conduct of us--shall we do all those things, or anything,
save only one: we will not negotiate or make a contract with him. _That_
would limit our 'independence'; by which we mean that his submission to
our mastery would be less complete.

We can do acts of infinite cruelty; disregard all accepted morality; but
we cannot allow the enemy to escape the admission of defeat.

If we are to correct the evils of the older tradition, and build up one
which will restore to men the art of living together, we must honestly
face the fact that the older tradition has failed. So long as the old
loyalties and patriotisms, tempting us with power and dominion, calling
to the deep hunger excited by those things, and using the banners of
righteousness and justice, seem to offer security, and a society which,
if not ideal, is at least workable, we certainly shall not pay the price
which all profound change of habit demands. We have seen that as a fact
of his history man only abandons power and force over others when it
fails. At present, almost everywhere, we refuse to face the failure of
the old forms of political power. We don't believe that we need the
co-operation of the foreigner, or we believe that we can coerce him.

Little attention has been given here to the machinery of
internationalism--League of Nations, Courts of Arbitration, Disarmament.
This is not because machinery is unimportant. But if we possessed the
Will, if we were ready each to pay his contribution in some sacrifice of
his independence, of his opportunity of domination, the difficulties of
machinery would largely disappear. The story of America's essay in
internationalism has warned us of the real difficulty. Courts of
Arbitration, Leagues of Nations, were devices to which American opinion
readily enough agreed; too readily. For the event showed that the old
conceptions were not changed. They had only been disregarded. No
machinery of internationalism can work so long as the impulses and
prepossessions of irresponsible nationalism retain their power. The test
we must apply to our sincerity is our answer to the question:--What
price, in terms of national independence, are we prepared to pay for a
world law? What, in fact, _is_ the price that is asked of us? To this
last question, the pages that precede, and to some extent those that
follow, have attempted to supply an answer. We should gain many times in
freedom and independence the contribution in those things that we made.

Perhaps we may be driven by hunger--the actual need of our children for
bread--to forsake a method which cannot give them bread or freedom, in
favour of one that can. But, for the failure of power to act as a
deterrent upon our desire for it, we must perceive the failure. Our
angers and hatreds obscure that failure, or render us indifferent to it.
Hunger does not necessarily help the understanding; it may bemuse it by
passion and resentment. We may in our passion wreck civilisation as a
passionate man in his anger will injure those he loves. Yet, well fed,
we may refuse to concern ourselves with problems of the morrow. The
mechanical motive will no longer suffice. In the simpler, more animal
forms of society, the instinct of each moment, with no thought of
ultimate consequence, may be enough. But the Society which man has built
up can only go forward or be preserved as it began: by virtue of
something which is more than instinct. On man is cast the obligation to
be intelligent; the responsibility of will; the burden of thought.

If some of us have felt that, beyond all other evils which translate
themselves into public policy, those with which these pages deal
constitute the greatest, it is not because war means the loss of life,
the killing of men. Many of our noblest activities do that. There are so
many of us that it is no great disaster that a few should die. It is not
because war means suffering. Suffering endured for a conscious and
clearly conceived human purpose is redeemed by hope of real achievement;
it may be a glad sacrifice for some worthy end. But if we have
floundered hopelessly into a bog because we have forgotten our end and
purpose in the heat of futile passion, the consolation which we may
gather from the willingness with which men die in the bog should not
stand in the way of our determination to rediscover our destination and
create afresh our purpose. These pages have been concerned very little
with the loss of life, the suffering of the last seven years. What they
have dealt with mainly is the fact that the War has left us a less
workable society, has been marked by an increase in the forces of chaos
and disintegration. That is the ultimate indictment of this War as of
all wars: the attitude towards life, the ideas and motive forces out of
which it grows, and which it fosters, makes men less able to live
together, their society less workable, and must end by making free
society impossible. War not only arises out of the failure of human
wisdom, from the defect of that intelligence by which alone we can
successfully fight the forces of nature; it perpetuates that failure and
worsens it. For only by a passion which keeps thought at bay can the
'morale' of war be maintained. The very justification which we advance
for our war-time censorships and propaganda, our suspension of free
speech and discussion, is that if we gave full value to the enemy's
case, saw him as he really is, blundering, foolish, largely helpless
like ourselves; saw the defects of our own and our Allies' policy, saw
what our own acts in war really involved and how nearly they resembled
those which aroused our anger when done by the enemy, if we saw all
this and kept our heads, we should abandon war. A thousand times it has
been explained that in an impartial mood we cannot carry on war; that
unless the people come to feel that all the right is on our side and all
the wrong on the enemy's, morale will fail. The most righteous war can
only be kept going by falsehood. The end of that falsehood is that our
mind collapses. And although the mind, thought, judgment, are not
all-sufficient for man's salvation, it is impossible without them.
Behind all other explanations of Europe's creeping paralysis is the
blindness of the millions, their inability to see the effects of their
demands and policy, to see where they are going.

Only a keener feeling for truth will enable them to see. About
indifferent things--about the dead matter that we handle in our
science--we can be honest, impartial, true. That is why we succeed in
dealing with matter. But about the things we care for--which are
ourselves--our desires and lusts, our patriotisms and hates, we find a
harder test of thinking straight and truly. Yet there is the greater
need; only by that rectitude shall we be saved. There is no refuge but
in truth.





It will illustrate certain difficulties which have marked--and mark--the
presentation of the argument of this book, if the reader will consider
for a few minutes the justice of certain charges which have been brought
against _The Great Illusion_. Perhaps the commonest is that it argued
that 'war had become impossible.' The truth of that charge at least can
very easily be tested. The first page of that book, the preface,
referring to the thesis it proposed to set out, has these words: 'the
argument is _not_ that war is impossible, but that it is futile.' The
next page but one describes what the author believes to be the main
forces at work in international politics: a fierce struggle for
preponderant power 'based on the universal assumption that a nation, in
order to find outlets for expanding population and increasing industry,
or simply to ensure the best conditions possible for its people, is
necessarily pushed to territorial expansion and the exercise of
political force against others ... that nations being competing units,
advantage, in the last resort, goes to the possessor of preponderant
military force, the weaker going to the wall, as in the other forms of
the struggle for life.' A whole chapter is devoted to the evidence which
goes to show that this aggressive and warlike philosophy was indeed the
great actuating force in European politics. The first two paragraphs of
the first chapter forecast the likelihood of an Anglo-German explosion;
that chapter goes on to declare that the pacifist effort then current
was evidently making no headway at all against the tendencies towards
rivalry and conflict. In the third chapter the ideas underlying those
tendencies are described as 'so profoundly mischievous,' and so
'desperately dangerous,' as to threaten civilisation itself. A chapter
is devoted to showing that the fallacy and folly of those all but
universal ideas was no guarantee at all that the nations would not act
upon them. (Particularly is the author insistent on the fact that the
futility of war will never in itself suffice to stop war. The folly of a
given course of action will only be a deterrent to the degree to which
men realise its folly. That was why the book was written.) A warning is
uttered against any reliance upon the Hague Conferences, which, it is
explained at length, are likely to be quite ineffective against the
momentum of the motives of aggression. A warning is uttered towards the
close of the book against any reduction of British armaments,
accompanied, however, by the warning that mere increase of armaments
unaccompanied by change of policy, a Political Reformation in the
direction of internationalism, will provoke the very catastrophe it is
their object to avoid; only by that change of policy could we take a
real step towards peace 'instead of _a step towards war, to which the
mere piling up of armaments, unchecked by any other factor, must in the
end inevitably lead_.'[97]

The last paragraph of the book asks the reader which of two courses we
are to follow: a determined effort towards placing European policy on a
new basis, or a drift along the current of old instincts and ideas, a
course which would condemn us to the waste of mountains of treasure and
the spilling of oceans of blood.

Yet, it is probably true to say that, of the casual newspaper references
(as distinct from reviews) made during the last ten years to the book
just described, four out of five are to the effect that its author said
'war was impossible because it did not pay.'

The following are some passages referred to in the above summary:--

     'Not the facts, but men's opinions about the facts is what matters.
     This is because men's conduct is determined, not necessarily by the
     right conclusion from facts, but the conclusion they believe to be
     right.... As long as Europe is dominated by the old beliefs, those
     beliefs will have virtually the same effect in politics as though
     they were intrinsically sound.'--(p. 327.)

     'It is evident that so long as the misconception we are dealing
     with is all but universal in Europe, so long as the nations believe
     that in some way the military and political subjugation of others
     will bring with it a tangible material advantage to the conqueror,
     we all do, in fact, stand in danger from such aggression. Not his
     interest, but what he deems to be his interest, will furnish the
     real motive of our prospective enemy's action. And as the illusion
     with which we are dealing does, indeed, dominate all those minds
     most active in European politics, we must, while this remains the
     case, regard an aggression, even such as that which Mr Harrison
     foresees, as within the bounds of practical politics.... On this
     ground alone I deem that we or any other nation are justified in
     taking means of self-defence to prevent such aggression. This is
     not, therefore, a plea for disarmament irrespective of the action
     of other nations. So long as current political philosophy in Europe
     remains what it is, I would not urge the reduction of our war
     budget by a single sovereign.'--(p. 329.)

     'The need for defence arises from the existence of a motive for
     attack.... That motive is, consequently, part of the problem of
     defence.... Since as between the European peoples we are dealing
     with in this matter, one party is as able in the long run to pile
     up armaments as the other, we cannot get nearer to solution by
     armaments alone; we must get at the original provoking cause--the
     motive making for aggression.... If that motive results from a
     true judgment of the facts; if the determining factor in a nation's
     well-being and progress is really its power to obtain by force
     advantage over others, the present situation of armament rivalry
     tempered by war is a natural and inevitable one.... If, however,
     the view is a false one, our progress towards solution will be
     marked by the extent to which the error becomes generally
     recognised in European public opinion.'--(p. 337.)

     'In this matter it seems fatally easy to secure either one of two
     kinds of action: that of the "practical man" who limits his
     energies to securing a policy which will perfect the machinery of
     war and disregard anything else; or that of the Pacifist, who,
     persuaded of the brutality or immorality of war, is apt to
     deprecate effort directed at self-defence. What is needed is the
     type of activity which will include both halves of the problem:
     provision for education, for a Political Reformation in this
     matter, _as well as_ such means of defence as will meantime
     counterbalance the existing impulse to aggression. To concentrate
     on either half to the exclusion of the other half is to render the
     whole problem insoluble.'--(p. 330.)

     'Never has the contest of armament been so keen as when Europe
     began to indulge in Peace Conferences. Speaking roughly and
     generally, the era of great armament expansion dates from the first
     Hague Conference. The reader who has appreciated the emphasis laid
     in the preceding pages on working through the reform of ideas will
     not feel much astonishment at the failure of efforts such as these.
     The Hague Conferences represented an attempt, not to work through
     the reform of ideas, but to modify by mechanical means the
     political machinery of Europe, without reference to the ideas which
     had brought it into existence.

     'Arbitration treaties, Hague Conferences, International Federation,
     involve a new conception of relationship between nations. But the
     ideals--political, economical, and social--on which the old
     conceptions are based, our terminology, our political literature,
     our old habits of thought, diplomatic inertia, which all combine to
     perpetuate the old notions, have been left serenely undisturbed.
     And surprise is expressed that such schemes do not succeed.'--(p.

Very soon after the appearance of the book, I find I am shouting myself
hoarse in the Press against this monstrous 'impossibility of war'
foolishness. An article in the _Daily Mail_ of September 15th, 1911,
begins thus:--

     ' ... One learns, with some surprise, that the very simple facts to
     which I have now for some years been trying to draw the attention
     they deserve, teach that:--

     1. War is now impossible.

     2. War would ruin both the victor and the vanquished.

     3. War would leave the victor worse off than the vanquished.

     'May I say with every possible emphasis that nothing I have ever
     written justifies any one of these conclusions.

     'I have always, on the contrary, urged that:--

     (1) War is, unhappily, quite possible, and, in the prevailing
     condition of ignorance concerning certain elementary
     politico-economic facts, even likely.

     (2) There is nothing to justify the conclusion that war would
     "ruin" both victor and vanquished. Indeed, I do not quite know what
     the "ruin" of a nation means.

     (3) While in the past the vanquished has often profited more by
     defeat than he could possibly have done by victory, it is no
     necessary result, and we are safest in assuming that the vanquished
     will suffer most.'

Nearly two years later I find myself still engaged in the same task.
Here is a letter to the _Saturday Review_ (March 8th, 1913):--

     'You are good enough to say that I am "one of the very few
     advocates of peace at any price who is not altogether an ass." And
     yet you also state that I have been on a mission "to persuade the
     German people that war in the twentieth century is impossible." If
     I had ever tried to teach anybody such sorry rubbish I should be
     altogether an unmitigated ass. I have never, of course, nor so far
     as I am aware, has any one ever said that war was impossible.
     Personally, not only do I regard war as possible, but extremely
     likely. What I have been preaching in Germany is that it is
     impossible for Germany to benefit by war, especially a war against
     us; and that, of course, is quite a different matter.'

It is true that if the argument of the book as a whole pointed to the
conclusion that war was 'impossible,' it would be beside the point to
quote passages repudiating that conclusion. They might merely prove the
inconsequence of the author's thought. But the book, and the whole
effort of which it was a part, would have had no _raison d'être_ if the
author had believed war unlikely or impossible. It was a systematic
attack on certain political ideas which the author declared were
dominant in international politics. If he had supposed those powerful
ideas were making _not_ for war, but for peace, why as a pacifist should
he be at such pains to change them? And if he thought those
war-provoking ideas which he attacked were not likely to be put into
effect, why, in that case either, should he bother at all? Why, for that
matter, should a man who thought war impossible engage in not too
popular propaganda against war--against something which could not occur?

A moment's real reflection on the part of those responsible for this
description of _The Great Illusion_, should have convinced them that it
could not be a true one.

I have taken the trouble to go through some of the more serious
criticisms of the book to see whether this extraordinary confusion was
created in the mind of those who actually read the book instead of
reading about it. So far as I know, not a single serious critic has come
to a conclusion that agrees with the 'popular' verdict. Several going to
the book after the War, seem to express surprise at the absence of any
such conclusion. Professor Lindsay writes:--

     'Let us begin by disposing of one obvious criticism of the
     doctrines of _The Great Illusion_ which the out-break of war has
     suggested. Mr Angell never contended that war was impossible,
     though he did contend that it must always be futile. He insisted
     that the futility of war would not make war impossible or armament
     unnecessary until all nations recognised its futility. So long as
     men held that nations could advance their interests by war, so long
     war would last. His moral was that we should fight militarism,
     whether in Germany or in our own country, as one ought to fight an
     idea with better ideas. He further pointed out that though it is
     pleasanter to attack the wrong ideals held by foreigners, it is
     more effective to attack the wrong ideals held in our own
     country.... The pacifist hope was that the outbreak of a European
     war, which was recognised as quite possible, might be delayed
     until, with the progress of pacifist doctrine, war became
     impossible. That hope has been tragically frustrated, but if the
     doctrines of pacifism are convincing and irrefutable, it was not in
     itself a vain hope. Time was the only thing it asked of fortune,
     and time was denied it.'

Another post-war critic--on the other side of the Atlantic--writes:--

     'Mr. Angell has received too much solace from the unwisdom of his
     critics. Those who have denounced him most vehemently are those who
     patently have not read his books. For example, he cannot properly
     be classed, as frequently asserted in recent months, as one of
     those Utopian pacifists who went about proclaiming war impossible.
     A number of passages in _The Great Illusion_ show him fully alive
     to the danger of the present collapse; indeed, from the narrower
     view of politics his book was one of the several fruitless attempts
     to check that growing estrangement between England and Germany
     whose sinister menace far-sighted men discerned. Even less
     justifiable are the flippant sneers which discard his argument as
     mercenary or sordid. Mr Angell has never taken an "account book" or
     "breeches pocket" view of war. He inveighs against what he terms
     its political and moral futilities as earnestly as against its
     economic futility.'

It may be said that there must be some cause for so persistent a
misrepresentation. There is. Its cause is that obstinate and deep-seated
fatalism which is so large a part of the prevailing attitude to war and
against which the book under consideration was a protest. Take it as an
axiom that war comes upon us as an outside force, like the rain or the
earthquake, and not as something that we can influence, and a man who
'does not believe in war,' must be a person who believes that war is not
coming;[98] that men are naturally peaceable. To be a Pacifist because
one believes that the danger of war is very great indeed, or because one
believes men to be naturally extremely prone to war, is a position
incomprehensible until we have rid our minds of the fatalism which
regards war as an 'inevitable' result of uncontrollable forces.

What is a writer to do, however, in the face of persistent
misrepresentation such as this? If he were a manufacturer of soap and
some one said his soap was underweight, or he were a grocer and some one
said his sugar was half sand, he could of course obtain enormous
damages. But a mere writer, having given some years of his life to the
study of the most important problem of his time, is quite helpless when
a tired headline writer, or a journalist indulging his resentment, or
what he thinks is likely to be the resentment of his readers, describes
a book as proclaiming one thing when as a matter of simple fact it
proclaims the exact contrary.

       *       *       *       *       *

So much for myth or misrepresentation No. 1. We come to a second,
namely, that _The Great Illusion_ is an appeal to avarice; that it urges
men not to defend their country 'because to do so does not pay;' that it
would have us place 'pocket before patriotism,' a view reflected in
Benjamin Kidd's last book, pages of which are devoted to the
condemnation of the 'degeneracy and futility' of resting the cause of
peace on no higher ground than that it is 'a great illusion to believe
that a national policy founded on war can be a profitable policy for any
people in the long run.'[99] He quotes approvingly Sir William Robertson
Nicoll for denouncing those who condemn war because 'it would postpone
the blessed hour of tranquil money getting.'[100] As a means of
obscuring truths which it is important to realise, of creating by
misrepresentation a moral repulsion to a thesis, and thus depriving it
of consideration, this second line of attack is even more important than
the first.

To say of a book that it prophesied 'the impossibility of war,' is to
imply that it is mere silly rubbish, and its author a fool. Sir William
Robertson Nicoll's phrase would of course imply that its doctrine was
morally contemptible.

The reader must judge, after considering dispassionately what follows,
whether this second description is any truer than the first.



_The Great Illusion_ dealt--among other factors of international
conflict--with the means by which the population of the world is driven
to support itself; and studied the effect of those efforts to find
sustenance upon the relations of States. It therefore dealt with

On the strength of this, certain critics (like some of those quoted in
the last chapter) who cannot possibly have read the book thoroughly,
seem to have argued: If this book about war deals with 'economics,' it
must deal with money and profits. To bring money and profits into a
discussion of war is to imply that men fight for money, and won't fight
if they don't get money from it; that war does not 'pay.' This is wicked
and horrible. Let us denounce the writer for a shallow Hedonist and

As a matter of simple fact, as we shall see presently, the book was
largely an attempt to show that the economic argument usually adduced
for a particularly ruthless form of national selfishness was not a sound
argument; that the commonly invoked justification for a selfish
immoralism in Foreign Policy was a fallacy, an illusion. Yet the critics
somehow managed to turn what was in fact an argument against national
egoism into an argument for selfishness.

What was the political belief and the attitude towards life which _The
Great Illusion_ challenged? And what was the counter principle which it
advocated as a substitute therefore?

It challenged the theory that the vital interests of nations are
conflicting, and that war is part of the inevitable struggle for life
among them; the view that, in order to feed itself, a nation with an
expanding population must conquer territory and so deprive others of the
means of subsistence; the view that war is the 'struggle for
bread.'[101] In other words, it challenged the economic excuse or
justification for the 'sacred egoism' which is so largely the basis of
the nationalist political philosophy, an excuse, which, as we shall see,
the nationalist invokes if not to deny the moral law in the
international field, at least to put the morality governing the
relations of States on a very different plane from that which governs
the relations of individuals. As against this doctrine _The Great
Illusion_ advanced the proposition, among others, that the economic or
biological assumption on which it is based is false; that the policy of
political power which results from this assumption is economically
unworkable, its benefits an illusion; that the amount of sustenance
provided by the earth is not a fixed quantity so that what one nation
can seize another loses, but is an expanding quantity, its amount
depending mainly upon the efficiency with which men co-operate in their
exploitation of Nature. As already pointed out, a hundred thousand Red
Indians starved in a country where a hundred million modern Americans
have abundance. The need for co-operation, and the faith on which alone
it can be maintained, being indispensable to our common welfare, the
violation of the social compact, international obligation, will be
visited with penalties just as surely as are violations of the moral law
in relations between individuals. The economic factor is not the sole or
the largest element in human relations, but it is the one which occupies
the largest place in public law and policy. (Of two contestants, each
can retain his religion or literary preferences without depriving the
other of like possessions; they cannot both retain the same piece of
material property.) The economic problem is vital in the sense of
dealing with the means by which we maintain life; and it is invoked as
justification for the political immoralism of States. Until the
confusions concerning it are cleared up, it will serve little purpose to
analyse the other elements of conflict.

What justifies the assumption that the predatory egotism, sacred or
profane, here implied, was an indispensable part of the pre-war
political philosophy, explaining the great part of policy in the
international field?[102]

First the facts: the whole history of international conflict in the
decade or two which preceded the War; and the terms of the Treaty of
Versailles. If you would find out the nature of a people's (or a
statesman's) political morality, note their conduct when they have
complete power to carry their desires into effect. The terms of peace,
and the relations of the Allies with Russia, show a deliberate and
avowed pre-occupation with sources of oil, iron, coal; with indemnities,
investments, old debts; with Colonies, markets; the elimination of
commercial rivals--with all these things to a degree very much greater
and in a fashion much more direct than was assumed in _The Great

But the tendency had been evident in the conflicts which preceded the
War. These conflicts, in so far as the Great Powers were concerned, had
been in practically every case over territory, or roads to territory;
over Madagascar, Egypt, Morocco, Korea, Mongolia; 'warm water' ports,
the division of Africa, the partitioning of China, loans thereto and
concessions therein; the Persian Gulf, the Bagdad Railway, the Panama
Canal. Where the principle of nationality was denied by any Great Power
it was generally because to recognise it might block access to the sea
or raw materials, throw a barrier across the road to undeveloped

There was no denial of this by those who treated of public affairs. Mr
Lloyd George declared that England would be quite ready to go to war
rather than have the Morocco question settled without reference to her.
Famous writers like Mahan did not balk at conclusions like this:--

     'It is the great amount of unexploited raw material in territories
     politically backward, and now imperfectly possessed by the nominal
     owners, which at the present moment constitutes the temptation and
     the impulse to war of European States.'[103]

Nor to justify them thus:--

     'More and more Germany needs the assured importation of raw
     materials, and, where possible, control of regions productive of
     such materials. More and more she requires assured markets, and
     security as to the importation of food, since less and less
     comparatively is produced within her own borders for her rapidly
     increasing population. This all means security at sea.... Yet the
     supremacy of Great Britain in European seas means a perpetually
     latent control of German commerce.... The world has long been
     accustomed to the idea of a predominant naval power, coupling it
     accurately with the name of Great Britain: and it has been noted
     that such power, when achieved, is commonly found associated with
     commercial and industrial pre-eminence, the struggle for which is
     now in progress between Great Britain and Germany. Such
     pre-eminence forces a nation to seek markets, and, where possible,
     to control them to its own advantage by preponderant force, the
     ultimate expression of which is possession.... From this flow two
     results: the attempt to possess, and the organisation of force by
     which to maintain possession already achieved.... This statement is
     simply a specific formulation of the general necessity stated;
     itself an inevitable link in a chain of logical sequence: industry,
     markets, control, navy, bases....[104]

Mr Spenser Wilkinson, of a corresponding English school, is just as

     'The effect of growth is an expansion and an increase of power. It
     necessarily affects the environment of the growing organisms; it
     interferes with the _status quo_. Existing rights and interests are
     disturbed by the fact of growth, which is itself a change. The
     growing community finds itself hedged in by previously existing and
     surviving conditions, and fettered by prescriptive rights. There
     is, therefore, an exertion of force to overcome resistance. No
     process of law or of arbitration can deal with this phenomenon,
     because any tribunal administering a system of right or law must
     base its decision upon the tradition of the past which has become
     unsuited to the new conditions that have arisen. The growing State
     is necessarily expansive or aggressive.'[105]

Even more decisive as a definite philosophy are the propositions of Mr
Petre, who, writing on 'The Mandate of Humanity,' says:--

     'The conscience of a State cannot, therefore, be as delicate, as
     disinterested, as altruistic, as that of the noblest individuals.
     The State exists primarily for its own people and only secondarily
     for the rest of the world. Hence, given a dispute in which it feels
     its rights and welfare to be at stake, it may, however erroneously,
     set aside its moral obligations to international society in favour
     of its obligations to the people for whom it exists.

     'But no righteous conscience, it may be said, could give its
     verdict against a solemn pledge taken and reciprocated; no
     righteous conscience could, in a society of nations, declare
     against the ends of that society. Indeed I think it could, and
     sometimes would, if its sense of justice were outraged, if its duty
     to those who were bone of its bone and flesh of its flesh came into
     conflict with its duty to those who were not directly belonging to

     'The mechanism of a State exists mainly for its own preservation,
     and cannot be turned against this, its legitimate end. The
     conscience of a State will not traverse this main condition, and to
     weaken its conscience is to weaken its life....

     'The strong will not give way to the weak; the one who thinks
     himself in the right will not yield to those whom he believes to be
     in the wrong; the living generations will not be restrained by the
     promises to a dead one; nature will not be controlled by

It is the last note that gives the key to popular feeling about the
scramble for territory. In _The Great Illusion_ whole pages of popular
writing are quoted to show that the conception of the struggle as in
truth the struggle for survival had firmly planted itself in the popular
consciousness. One of the critics who is so severe upon the present
writer for trying to undermine the economic foundation of that popular
creed, Benjamin Kidd, himself testifies to the depth and sweep of this
pseudo-Darwinism (he seems to think indeed that it is true Darwinism,
which it is not, as Darwin himself pointed out). He declares that 'there
is no precedent in the history of the human mind to compare with the
saturnalia of the Western intellect' which followed the popularisation
of what he regards as Darwin's case and I would regard as a distortion
of it. Kidd says it 'touched the profoundest depth of the psychology of
the West.' 'Everywhere throughout civilisation an almost inconceivable
influence was given to the doctrine of the law of biological necessity
in books of statecraft and war-craft, of expanding military empires.'
'Struggle for life,' 'a biological necessity,' 'survival of the fit,'
had passed into popular use and had come to buttress popular feeling
about the inevitability of war and its ultimate justification and the
uselessness of organising the natives save on a basis of conflict.

We are now in a position to see the respective moral positions of the
two protagonists.

The advocate of Political Theory No. 1, which an overwhelming
preponderance of evidence shows to be the prevailing theory, says:--You
Pacifists are asking us to commit national suicide; to sacrifice future
generations to your political ideals. Now, as voters or statesmen we are
trustees, we act for others. Sacrifice, suicide even, on behalf of an
ideal, may be justified when we are sacrificing ourselves. But we cannot
sacrifice others, our wards. Our first duty is to our own nation, our
own children; to their national security and future welfare. It is
regrettable if, by the conquests, wars, blockades, rendered necessary by
those objects other people starve, and lose their national freedom and
see their children die; but that is the hard necessity of life in a hard

Advocate of Political Theory No. 2 says:--I deny that the excuse of
justification which you give for your cruelty to others is a valid
excuse or justification. Pacifism does not ask you to sacrifice your
people, to betray the interest of your wards. You will serve their
interests best by the policy we advocate. Your children will not be more
assured of their sustenance by these conquests that attempt to render
the feeding of foreign children more difficult; yours will be less
secure. By co-operating with those others instead of using your
energies against them, the resultant wealth....

Advocate No. 1:--Wealth! Interest! You introduce your wretched economic
calculations of interest into a question of Patriotism. You have the
soul of a bagman concerned only to restore 'the blessed hour of tranquil
money-getting,' and Sir William Robertson Nicoll shall denounce you in
the _British Weekly_!

And the discussion usually ends with this moral flourish and gestures of
melodramatic indignation.

But are they honest gestures? Here are the upholders of a certain
position who say:--'In certain circumstances as when you are in a
position of trustee, the only moral course, the only right course, is to
be guided by the interests of your ward. Your duty then demands a
calculation of advantage. You may not be generous at your ward's
expense. This is the justification of the "sacred egoism" of the poet.'

If in that case a critic says: 'Very well. Let us consider what will be
the best interests of your ward,' is it really open to the first party
to explain in a paroxysm of moral indignation: 'You are making a
shameful and disgraceful appeal to selfishness and avarice?'

This is not an attempt to answer one set of critics by quoting another
set. The self-same people take those two attitudes. I have quoted above
a passage of Admiral Mahan's in which he declares that nations can never
be expected to act from any other motive than that of interest (a
generalisation, by the way, from which I should most emphatically
dissent). He goes on to declare that Governments 'must put first the
rival interests of their own wards ... their own people,' and are thus
pushed to the acquisition of markets by means of military predominance.

Very well. _The Great Illusion_ argued some of Admiral Mahan's
propositions in terms of interest and advantage. And then, when he
desired to demolish that argument, he did not hesitate in a long
article in the _North American Review_ to write as follows:--

     'The purpose of armaments, in the minds of those maintaining them,
     is not primarily an economical advantage, in the sense of depriving
     a neighbour State of its own, or fear of such consequences to
     itself through the deliberate aggression of a rival having that
     particular end in view.... The fundamental proposition of the book
     is a mistake. Nations are under no illusion as to the
     unprofitableness of war in itself.... The entire conception of the
     work is itself an illusion, based upon a profound misreading of
     human action. To regard the world as governed by self-interest only
     is to live in a non-existent world, an ideal world, a world
     possessed by an idea much less worthy than those which mankind, to
     do it bare justice, persistently entertains.'[107]

Admiral Mahan was a writer of very great and deserved reputation, in the
very first rank of those dealing with the relations of power to national
politics, certainly incapable of any conscious dishonesty of opinion.
Yet, as we have seen, his opinion on the most important fact of all
about war--its ultimate purpose, and the reasons which justify it or
provoke it--swings violently in absolute self-contradiction. And the
flat contradiction here revealed shows--and this surely is the moral of
such an incident--that he could never have put to himself detachedly,
coldly, impartially the question: 'What do I really believe about the
motives of nations in War? To what do the facts as a whole really
point?' Had he done so, it might have been revealed to him that what
really determined his opinion about the causes of war was a desire to
justify the great profession of arms, to one side of which he had
devoted his life and given years of earnest labour and study; to defend
from some imputation of futility one of the most ancient of man's
activities that calls for some at least of the sublimest of human
qualities. If a widened idealism clearly discredited that ancient
institution, he was prepared to show that an ineradicable conflict of
national interests rendered it inevitable. If it was shown that war was
irrelevant to those conflicts, or ineffective as a means of protecting
the interests concerned, he was prepared to show that the motives
pushing to war were not those of interest at all.

It may be said that none the less the thesis under discussion
substitutes one selfish argument for another; tries by appealing to
self-interest (the self-interest of a group or nation) to turn
selfishness from a destructive result to a more social result. Its basis
is self. Even that is not really true. For, first, that argument ignores
the question of trusteeship; and, secondly, it involves a confusion
between the motive of a given policy and the criterion by which its
goodness or badness shall be tested.

How is one to deal with the claim of the 'mystic nationalist' (he exists
abundantly even outside the Balkans) that the subjugation of some
neighbouring nationalism is demanded by honour; that only the great
State can be the really good State; that power--'majesty,' as the
Oriental would say--is a thing good in itself?[108] There are ultimate
questions as to what is good and what is bad that no argument can
answer; ultimate values which cannot be discussed. But one can reduce
those unarguable values to a minimum by appealing to certain social
needs. A State which has plenty of food may not be a good State; but a
State which cannot feed its population cannot be a good State, for in
that case the citizens will be hungry, greedy, and violent.

In other words, certain social needs and certain social utilities--which
we can all recognise as indispensables--furnish a ground of agreement
for the common action without which no society can be established. And
the need for such a criterion becomes more manifest as we learn more of
the wonderful fashion in which we sublimate our motives. A country
refuses to submit its dispute to arbitration, because its 'honour' is
involved. Many books have been written to try and find out precisely
what honour of this kind is. One of the best of them has decided that it
is anything which a country cares to make it. It is never the presence
of coal, or iron, or oil, which makes it imperative to retain a given
territory: it is honour (as Italy's Foreign Minister explained when
Italy went to war for the conquest of Tripoli). Unfortunately, rival
States have also impulses of honour which compel them to claim the same
undeveloped territory. Nothing can prove--or disprove--that honour, in
such circumstances, is invoked by each or either of the parties
concerned to make a piece of acquisitiveness or megalomania appear as
fine to himself as possible: that, just because he has a lurking
suspicion that all is not well with the operation, he seeks to justify
it to himself with fine words that have a very vague content. But on
this basis there can be no agreement. If, however, one shifts the
discussion to the question of what is best for the social welfare of
both, one can get a _modus vivendi_. For each to admit that he has no
right so to use his power as to deprive the other of means of life,
would be the beginning of a code which could be tested. Each might
conceivably have that right to deprive the other of means of livelihood,
if it were a choice between the lives of his own people or others.

The economic fact is the test of the ethical claim: if it really be true
that we must withhold sources of food from others because otherwise our
own would starve, there is some ethical justification for such use of
our power. If such is not the fact, the whole moral issue is changed,
and with it, to the degree to which it is mutually realised, the social
outlook and attitude. The knowledge of interdependence is part, at
least, of an attitude which makes the 'social sense'--the sense that one
kind of arrangement is fair and workable, and another is not. To bring
home the fact of this interdependence is not simply an appeal to
selfishness: it is to reveal a method by which an apparently
irreconcilable conflict of vital needs can be reconciled. The sense of
interdependence, of the need of one for another, is part of the
foundation of the very difficult art of living together.

Much mischief arises from the misunderstanding of the term 'economic
motive.' Let us examine some further examples of this. One is a common
confusion of terms: an economic motive may be the reverse of selfish.
The long sustained efforts of parents to provide fittingly for their
children--efforts continued, it may be, through half a lifetime--are
certainly economic. Just as certainly they are not selfish in any exact
sense of the term. Yet something like this confusion seems to overlie
the discussion of economics in connection with war.

Speaking broadly, I do not believe that men ever go to war from a cold
calculation of advantage or profit. I never have believed it. It seems
to me an obvious and childish misreading of human psychology. I cannot
see how it is possible to imagine a man laying down his life on the
battle-field for personal gain. Nations do not fight for their money or
interests, they fight for their rights, or what they believe to be their
rights. The very gallant men who triumphed at Bull Run or
Chancellorsville were not fighting for the profits on slave-labour: they
were fighting for what they believed to be their independence: the
rights, as they would have said, to self-government or, as we should now
say, of self-determination. Yet it was a conflict which arose out of
slave labour: an economic question. Now the most elementary of all
rights, in the sense of the first right which a people will claim, is
the right to existence--the right of a population to bread and a decent
livelihood.[109] For that nations certainly will fight. Yet, as we see,
it is a right which arises out of an economic need or conflict. We have
seen how it works as a factor in our own foreign policy: as a compelling
motive for the command of the sea. We believe that the feeding of these
islands depends upon it: that if we lost it our children might die in
the streets and the lack of food compel us to an ignominious surrender.
It is this relation of vital food supply to preponderant sea power which
has caused us to tolerate no challenge to the latter. We know the part
which the growth of the German Navy played in shaping Anglo-Continental
relations before the War; the part which any challenge to our naval
preponderance has always played in determining our foreign policy. The
command of the sea, with all that that means in the way of having built
up a tradition, a battle-cry in politics, has certainly bound up with it
this life and death fact of feeding our population. That is to say it is
an economic need. Yet the determination of some millions of Englishmen
to fight for this right to life, to die rather than see the daily bread
of their people in jeopardy, would be adequately described by some
phrase about Englishmen going to war because it 'paid.' It would be a
silly or dishonest gibe. Yet that is precisely the kind of gibe that I
have had to face these fifteen years in attempting to disentangle the
forces and motives underlying international conflict.

What picture is summoned to our minds by the word 'economics' in
relation to war? To the critics whose indignation is so excited at the
introduction of the subject at all into the discussion of war--and they
include, unhappily, some of the great names of English literature--'economic'
seems to carry no picture but that of an obese Semitic stockbroker, in
quaking fear for his profits. This view cannot be said to imply either
much imagination or much sense of reality. For among the stockbrokers,
the usurers, those closest to financial manipulation and in touch with
financial changes, are to be found some groups numerically small, who
are more likely to gain than to lose by war; and the present writer has
never suggested the contrary.

But the 'economic futility' of war expresses itself otherwise: in half a
Continent unable to feed or clothe or warm itself; millions rendered
neurotic, abnormal, hysterical by malnutrition, disease, and anxiety;
millions rendered greedy, selfish, and violent by the constant strain of
hunger; resulting in 'social unrest' that threatens more and more to
become sheer chaos and confusion: the dissolution and disintegration of
society. Everywhere, in the cities, are the children who cry and who are
not fed, who raise shrunken arms to our statesmen who talk with
pride[110] of their stern measures of 'rigorous' blockade. Rickety and
dying children, and undying hate for us, their murderers, in the hearts
of their mothers--these are the human realities of the 'economics of

The desire to prevent these things, to bring about an order that would
render possible both patriotism and mercy, would save us from the
dreadful dilemma of feeding our own children only by the torture and
death of others equally innocent--the effort to this end is represented
as a mere appeal to selfishness and avarice, something mean and ignoble,
a degradation of human motive.

'These theoretical dilemmas do not state accurately the real conditions
of politics,' the reader may object. 'No one proposes to inflict famine
as a means of enforcing our policy' ... 'England does not make war on
women and children.'

Not one man or woman in a million, English or other, would wittingly
inflict the suffering of starvation upon a single child, if the child
were visible to his eyes, present in his mind, and if the simple human
fact were not obscured by the much more complex and artificial facts
that have gathered round our conceptions of patriotism. The heaviest
indictment of the military-nationalist philosophy we are discussing is
that it manages successfully to cover up human realities by dehumanising
abstractions. From the moment that the child becomes a part of that
abstraction--'Russia,' 'Austria,' 'Germany'--it loses its human
identity, and becomes merely an impersonal part of the political problem
of the struggle of our nation with others. The inverted moral alchemy,
by which the golden instinct that we associate with so much of direct
human contact is transformed into the leaden cruelty of nationalist hate
and high statecraft, has been dealt with at the close of Part I. When in
tones of moral indignation it is declared that Englishmen 'do not make
war on women and children,' we must face the truth and say that
Englishmen, like all peoples, do make such war.

An action in public policy--the proclamation of the blockade, or the
confiscation of so much tonnage, or the cession of territory, or the
refusal of a loan--these things are remote and vague; not only is the
relation between results and causes remote and sometimes difficult to
establish, but the results themselves are invisible and far away. And
when the results of a policy are remote, and can be slurred over in our
minds, we are perfectly ready to apply, logically and ruthlessly, the
most ferocious of political theories. It is of supreme importance then
what those theories happen to be. When the issue of war and peace hangs
in the balance, the beam may well be kicked one way or the other by our
general political philosophy, these somewhat vague and hazy notions
about life being a struggle, and nature red of tooth and claw, about
wars being part of the cosmic process, sanctioned by professors and
bishops and writers. It may well be these vague notions that lead us to
acquiesce in the blockade or the newest war. The typhus or the rickets
do not kill or maim any the less because we do not in our minds connect
those results with the political abstractions that we bandy about so
lightly. And we touch there the greatest service which a more 'economic'
treatment of European problems may perform. If the Treaty of Versailles
had been more economic it would also have been a more humane and human
document. If there had been more of Mr Keynes and less of M. Clemenceau,
there would have been not only more food in the world, but more
kindliness; not only less famine, but less hate; not only more life, but
a better way of life; those living would have been nearer to
understanding and discarding the way of death.

Let us summarise the points so far made with reference to the 'economic'

We need not accept any hard and fast (and in the view of the present
writer, unsound) doctrine of economic determinism, in order to admit the
truth of the following:--

1. Until economic difficulties are so far solved as to give the mass of
the people the means of secure and tolerable physical existence,
economic considerations and motives will tend to exclude all others. The
way to give the spiritual a fair chance with ordinary men and women is
not to be magnificently superior to their economic difficulties, but to
find a solution for them. Until the economic dilemma is solved, no
solution of moral difficulties will be adequate. If you want to get rid
of the economic preoccupation, you must solve the worst of the economic

2. In the same way the solution of the economic conflict between nations
will not of itself suffice to establish peace; but no peace is possible
until that conflict is solved. That makes it of sufficient importance.

3. The 'economic' problem involved in international politics the use of
political power for economic ends--is also one of Right, including the
most elemental of all rights, that to exist.

4. The answer which we give to that question of Right will depend upon
our answer to the actual query of _The Great Illusion_: must a country
of expanding population expand its territory or trade by means of its
political power, in order to live? Is the political struggle for
territory a struggle for bread?

5. If we take the view that the truth is contained in neither an
unqualified affirmative nor an unqualified negative, then all the more
is it necessary that the interdependence of peoples, the necessity for a
truly international economy, should become a commonplace. A wider
realisation of those facts would help to create that pre-disposition
necessary for a belief in the workability of voluntary co-operation, a
belief which must precede any successful attempt to make such
co-operation the basis of an international order.

6. The economic argument of _The Great Illusion_, if valid, destroys the
pseudo-scientific justification for political immoralism, the doctrine
of State necessity, which has marked so much of classical statecraft.

7. The main defects of the Treaty of Versailles are due to the pressure
of a public opinion obsessed by just those ideas of nations as persons,
of conflicting interests, which _The Great Illusion_ attempted to
destroy. If the Treaty had been inspired by the ideas of interdependence
of interest, it would have been not only more in the interests of the
Allies, but morally sounder, providing a better ethical basis for future

8. To go on ignoring the economic unity and interdependence of Europe,
to refuse to subject nationalist pugnacities to that needed unity
because 'economics' are sordid, is to refuse to face the needs of human
life, and the forces that shape it. Such an attitude, while professing
moral elevation, involves a denial of the right of others to live. Its
worst defect, perhaps, is that its heroics are fatal to intellectual
rectitude, to truth. No society built upon such foundations can stand.



The preceding chapters have dealt rather with misconceptions concerning
_The Great Illusion_ than with its positive propositions. What, outlined
as briefly as possible, was its central argument?

       *       *       *       *       *

That argument was an elaboration of these propositions: Military
preponderance, conquest, as a means to man's most elemental
needs--bread, sustenance--is futile, because the processes (exchange,
division of labour) to which the dense populations of modern Western
society are compelled to resort, cannot be exacted by military coercion;
they can only operate as the result of a large measure of voluntary
acquiescence by the parties concerned. A realisation of this truth is
indispensable for the restraint of the instinctive pugnacities that
hamper human relationship, particularly where nationalism enters.[111]
The competition for power so stimulates those pugnacities and fears,
that isolated national power cannot ensure a nation's political security
or independence. Political security and economic well-being can only be
ensured by international co-operation. This must be economic as well as
political, be directed, that is, not only at pooling military forces for
the purpose of restraining aggression, but at the maintenance of some
economic code which will ensure for all nations, whether militarily
powerful or not, fair economic opportunity and means of subsistence.

It was, in other words, an attempt to clear the road to a more workable
international policy by undermining the main conceptions and
prepossessions inimical to an international order.[112] It did not
elaborate machinery, but the facts it dealt with point clearly to
certain conclusions on that head.

While arguing that prevailing beliefs (false beliefs for the most part)
and feelings (largely directed by the false beliefs) were the
determining factors in international politics, the author challenged the
prevailing assumption of the unchangeability of those ideas and
feelings, particularly the proposition that war between human groups
arises out of instincts and emotions incapable of modification or
control or re-direction by conscious effort. The author placed equal
emphasis on both parts of the proposition--that dealing with the alleged
immutability of human pugnacity and ideas, and that which challenged the
representation of war as an inevitable struggle for physical
sustenance--if only because no exposure of the biological fallacy would
be other than futile if the former proposition were true.[113]

If conduct in these matters is the automatic reaction to uncontrollable
instinct and is not affected by ideas, or if ideas themselves are the
mere reflection of that instinct, obviously it is no use attempting
demonstrations of futility, economic or other. The more we demonstrate
the intensity of our inherent pugnacity and irrationalism, the more do
we in fact demonstrate the need for the conscious control of those
instincts. The alternative conclusion is fatalism: an admission not only
that our ship is not under control, but that we have given up the task
of getting it under control. We have surrendered our freedom.

Moreover, our record shows that the direction taken by our
pugnacities--their objective--is in fact largely determined by
traditions and ideas which are in part at least the sum of conscious
intellectual effort. The history of religious persecution--its wars,
inquisitions, repressions--shows a great change (which we must admit as
a fact, whether we regard it as good or bad) not only of idea but of
feeling.[114] The book rejected instinct as sufficient guide and urged
the need of discipline by intelligent foresight of consequence.

To examine our subconscious or unconscious motives of conduct is the
first step to making them conscious and modifying them.

This does not imply that instincts--whether of pugnacity or other--can
readily be repressed by a mere effort of will. But their direction, the
object upon which they expend themselves, will depend upon our
interpretation of facts. If we interpret the hailstorm or the curdled
milk in one way, our fear and hatred of the witch is intense; the same
facts interpreted another way make the witch an object of another
emotion, pity.

Reason may be a very small part of the apparatus of human conduct
compared with the part played by the unconscious and subconscious, the
instinctive and the emotional. The power of a ship's compass is very
small indeed compared with the power developed by the engines. But the
greater the power of the engines, the greater will be the disaster if
the relatively tiny compass is deflected and causes the ship to be
driven on to the rocks. The illustration indicates, not exactly but with
sufficient truth, the relationship of 'reason' to 'instinct.'

The instincts that push to self-assertion, to the acquisition of
preponderant power, are so strong that we shall only abandon that method
as the result of perceiving its futility. Co-operation, which means a
relationship of partnership and give and take, will not succeed till
force has failed.

The futility of power as a means to our most fundamental and social ends
is due mainly to two facts, one mechanical, and the other moral. The
mechanical fact is that if we really need another, our power over him
has very definite limits. Our dependence on him gives him a weapon
against us. The moral fact is that in demanding a position of
domination, we ask something to which we should not accede if it were
asked of us: the claim does not stand the test of the categorical
imperative. If we need another's labour, we cannot kill him; if his
custom, we cannot forbid him to earn money. If his labour is to be
effective, we must give him tools, knowledge; and these things can be
used to resist our exactions. To the degree to which he is powerful for
service he is powerful for resistance. A nation wealthy as a customer
will also be ubiquitous as a competitor.

The factors which have operated to make physical compulsion (slavery) as
a means of obtaining service less economical than service for reward,
operate just as effectively between nations. The employment of military
force for economic ends is an attempt to apply indirectly the principle
of chattel-slavery to groups; and involves the same disadvantages.[115]

In so far as coercion represents a means of securing a wider and more
effective social co-operation as against a narrower social co-operation,
or more anarchic condition, it is likely to be successful and to justify
itself socially. The imposition of Western government upon backward
peoples approximates to the role of police; the struggles between the
armed forces of rival Western Powers do not. The function of a police
force is the exact contrary to that of armies competing with one

The demonstration of the futility of conquest rested mainly on these
facts. After conquest the conquered people cannot be killed. They
cannot be allowed to starve. Pressure of population on means of
subsistence has not been reduced, but probably increased, since the
number of mouths to fill eliminated by the casualty lists is not
equivalent to the reduced production occasioned by war. To impose by
force (e.g. exclusion from raw materials) a lower standard of living,
creates (_a_) resistance which involves costs of coercion (generally in
military establishments, but also in the political difficulties in which
the coercion of hostile peoples--as in Alsace-Lorraine and
Ireland--generally involves their conqueror), costs which must be
deducted from the economic advantage of the conquest; and (_b_) loss of
markets which may be indispensable to countries (like Britain) whose
prosperity depends upon an international division of labour. A
population that lives by exchanging its coal and iron for (say) food,
does not profit by reducing the productivity of subject peoples engaged
in food production.

In _The Great Illusion_ the case was put as follows:--

     'When we conquer a nation in these days, we do not exterminate it:
     we leave it where it was. When we "overcome" the servile races, far
     from eliminating them, we give them added chances of life by
     introducing order, etc., so that the lower human quality tends to
     be perpetuated by conquest by the higher. If ever it happens that
     the Asiatic races challenge the white in the industrial or military
     field, it will be in large part thanks to the work of race
     conservation, which has been the result of England's conquest in
     India, Egypt, and Asia generally.'--(pp. 191-192.)

     'When the division of labour was so little developed that every
     homestead produced all that it needed, it mattered nothing if part
     of the community was cut off from the world for weeks and months at
     a time. All the neighbours of a village or homestead might be slain
     or harassed, and no inconvenience resulted. But if to-day an
     English county is by a general railroad strike cut off for so much
     as forty-eight hours from the rest of the economic organism, we
     know that whole sections of its population are threatened with
     famine. If in the time of the Danes England could by some magic
     have killed all foreigners, she would presumably have been the
     better off. If she could do the same thing to-day half her
     population would starve to death. If on one side of the frontier a
     community is, say, wheat-producing, and on the other
     coal-producing, each is dependent for its very existence on the
     fact of the other being able to carry on its labour. The miner
     cannot in a week set to and grow a crop of wheat; the farmer must
     wait for his wheat to grow, and must meantime feed his family and
     dependents. The exchange involved here must go on, and each party
     have fair expectation that he will in due course be able to reap
     the fruits of his labour, or both starve; and that exchange, that
     expectation, is merely the expression in its simplest form of
     commerce and credit; and the interdependence here indicated has, by
     the countless developments of rapid communication, reached such a
     condition of complexity that the interference with any given
     operation affects not merely the parties directly involved, but
     numberless others having at first sight no connection therewith.

     'The vital interdependence here indicated, cutting athwart
     frontiers, is largely the work of the last forty years; and it has,
     during that time, so developed as to have set up a financial
     interdependence of the capitals of the world, so complex that
     disturbance in New York involves financial and commercial
     disturbance in London, and, if sufficiently grave, compels
     financiers of London to co-operate with those of New York to put an
     end to the crisis, not as a matter of altruism, but as a matter of
     commercial self-protection. The complexity of modern finance makes
     New York dependent on London, London upon Paris, Paris upon Berlin,
     to a greater degree than has ever yet been the case in history.
     This interdependence is the result of the daily use of those
     contrivances of civilisation which date from yesterday--the rapid
     post, the instantaneous dissemination of financial and commercial
     information by means of telegraphy, and generally the incredible
     progress of rapidity in communication which has put the half-dozen
     chief capitals of Christendom in closer contact financially, and
     has rendered them more dependent the one upon the other than were
     the chief cities of Great Britain less than a hundred years
     ago.--(pp. 49-50.)

     'Credit is merely an extension of the use of money, and we can no
     more shake off the domination of the one than we can of the other.
     We have seen that the bloodiest despot is himself the slave of
     money, in the sense that he is compelled to employ it. In the same
     way no physical force can in the modern world set at naught the
     force of credit. It is no more possible for a great people of the
     modern world to live without credit than without money, of which it
     is a part.... The wealth of the world is not represented by a fixed
     amount of gold or money now in the possession of one Power, and now
     in the possession of another, but depends on all the unchecked
     multiple activities of a community for the time being. Check that
     activity, whether by imposing tribute, or disadvantageous
     commercial conditions, or an unwelcome administration which sets up
     sterile political agitation, and you get less wealth--less wealth
     for the conqueror, as well as less for the conquered. The broadest
     statement of the case is that all experience--especially the
     experience indicated in the last chapter--shows that in trade by
     free consent carrying mutual benefit we get larger results for
     effort expended than in the exercise of physical force which
     attempts to exact advantage for one party at the expense of the
     other.'--(pp. 270-272.)

In elaboration of this general thesis it is pointed out that the
processes of exchange have become too complex for direct barter, and can
only take place by virtue of credit; and it is by the credit system, the
'sensory nerve' of the economic organism, that the self-injurious
results of economic war are first shown. If, after a victorious war, we
allow enemy industry and international trade to go on much as before,
then obviously our victory will have had very little effect on the
fundamental economic situation. If, on the other hand, we attempt for
political or other reasons to destroy our enemy's industry and trade, to
keep him from the necessary materials of it, we should undermine our own
credit by diminishing the exchange value of much of our own real wealth.
For this reason it is 'a great illusion' to suppose that by the
political annexation of colonies, territories with iron-mines,
coal-mines, we enrich ourselves by the amount of wealth their
exploitation represents.[117]

The large place which such devices as an international credit system
must take in our international economy, adds enormously to the
difficulty of securing any 'spoils of victory' in the shape of
indemnity. A large indemnity is not impossible, but the only condition
on which it can be made possible--a large foreign trade by the defeated
people--is not one that will be readily accepted by the victorious
nation. Yet the dilemma is absolute: the enemy must do a big foreign
trade (or deliver in lieu of money large quantities of goods) which will
compete with home production, or he can pay no big indemnity--nothing
commensurate with the cost of modern war.

Since we are physically dependent on co-operation with foreigners, it
is obvious that the frontiers of the national State are not co-terminous
with the frontiers of our society. Human association cuts athwart
frontiers. The recognition of the fact would help to break down that
conception of nations as personalities which plays so large a part in
international hatred. The desire to punish this or that 'nation' could
not long survive if we had in mind, not the abstraction, but the babies,
the little girls, old men, in no way responsible for the offences that
excited our passions, whom we treated in our minds as a single

As a means of vindicating a moral, social, religious, or cultural
ideal--as of freedom or democracy--war between States, and still more
between Alliances, must be largely ineffective for two main reasons.
First, because the State and the moral unit do not coincide. France or
the British Empire could not stand as a unit for Protestanism as opposed
to Catholicism, Christianity as opposed to Mohammedanism, or
Individualism as opposed to Socialism, or Parliamentary Government as
opposed to Bureaucratic Autocracy, or even for European ascendancy as
against Coloured Races. For both Empires include large coloured
elements; the British Empire is more Mohammedan than Christian, has
larger areas under autocratic than under Parliamentary government; has
powerful parties increasingly Socialistic. The State power in both cases
is being used, not to suppress, but to give actual vitality to the
non-Christian or non-European or coloured elements that it has
conquered. The second great reason why it is futile to attempt to use
the military power of States for ends such as freedom and democracy, is
that the instincts to which it is compelled to appeal, the spirit it
must cultivate and the methods it is compelled increasingly to employ,
are themselves inimical to the sentiment upon which freedom must rest.
Nations that have won their freedom as the result of military victory,
usually employ that victory to suppress the freedom of others. To rest
our freedom upon a permanent basis of nationalist military power, is
equivalent to seeking security from the moral dangers of Prussianism by
organising our States on the Prussian model.

Our real struggle is with nature: internecine struggles between men
lessen the effectiveness of the human army. A Continent which supported
precariously, with recurrent famine, a few hundred thousand savages
fighting endlessly between themselves, can support, abundantly a hundred
million whites who can manage to maintain peace among themselves and
fight nature.

Nature here includes human nature. Just as we turn the destructive
forces of external nature from our hurt to our service, not by their
unintelligent defiance, but by utilising them through a knowledge of
their qualities, so can the irrepressible but not 'undirectable' forces
of instinct, emotion, sentiment, be turned by intelligence to the
service of our greatest and most permanent needs.



For the purposes of simplicity and brevity the main argument of _The
Great Illusion_ assumed the relative permanence of the institution of
private property in Western society, and the persistence of the tendency
of victorious belligerents to respect it, a tendency which had steadily
grown in strength for five hundred years. The book assumed that the
conqueror would do in the future what he has done to a steadily
increasing degree in the past, especially as the reasons for such
policy, in terms of self-interest, have so greatly grown in force during
the last generation or two. To have argued its case in terms of
non-existent and hypothetical conditions which might not exist for
generations or centuries, would have involved hopelessly bewildering
complications. And the decisive reason for not adding this complication
was the fact that _though it would vary the form of the argument, it
would not effect the final conclusion_.

As already explained in the first part of this book (Chapter II) this
war has marked a revolution in the position of private property and the
relation of the citizen to the State. The Treaty of Versailles departs
radically from the general principles adhered to, for instance, in the
Treaty of Frankfurt; the position of German traders and that of the
property of German citizens does not at all to-day resemble the position
in which the Treaty of Frankfurt left the French trader and French
private property.

The fact of the difference has already been entered into at some length.
It remains to see how the change affects the general argument adopted in
_The Great Illusion_.

It does not affect its final conclusions. The argument ran: A conqueror
cannot profit by 'loot' in the shape of confiscations, tributes,
indemnities, which paralyse the economic life of the defeated enemy.
They are economically futile. They are unlikely to be attempted, but if
they are attempted they will still be futile.[119]

Events have confirmed that conclusion, though not the expectation that
the enemy's economic life would be left undisturbed. We have started a
policy which does injure the economic life of the enemy. The more it
injures him, the less it pays us. And we are abandoning it as rapidly as
nationalist hostilities will permit us. In so far as pre-war conditions
pointed to the need of a definitely organised international economic
code, the situation created by the Treaty has only made the need more
visible and imperative. For, as already explained in the first Part, the
old understandings enabled industry to be built up on an international
basis; the Treaty of Versailles and its confiscations, prohibitions,
controls, have destroyed those foundations. Had that instrument treated
German trade and industry as the Germans treated French in 1871 we might
have seen a recovery of German economic life relatively as rapid as that
which took place in France during the ten years which followed her
defeat. We should not to-day be faced by thirty or forty millions in
Central and Eastern Europe without secure means of livelihood.

The present writer confesses most frankly--and the critics of _The Great
Illusion_ are hereby presented with all that they can make of the
admission--that he did not expect a European conqueror, least of all
Allied conquerors, to use their victory for enforcing a policy having
these results. He believed that elementary considerations of
self-interest, the duty of statesmen to consider the needs of their own
countries just emerging from war, would stand in the way of a policy of
this kind. On the other hand, he was under no illusions as to what would
result if they did attempt to enforce that policy. Dealing with the
damage that a conqueror might inflict, the book says that such things as
the utter destruction of the enemy's trade

     could only be inflicted by an invader as a means of punishment
     costly to himself, or as the result of an unselfish and expensive
     desire to inflict misery for the mere joy of inflicting it. In this
     self-seeking world it is not practical to assume the existence of
     an inverted altruism of this kind.--(p. 29.)

Because of the 'interdependence of our credit-built finance and

     the confiscation by an invader of private property, whether stocks,
     shares, ships, mines, or anything more valuable than jewellery or
     furniture--anything, in short, which is bound up with the economic
     life of the people--would so react upon the finance of the
     invader's country as to make the damage to the invader resulting
     from the confiscation exceed in value the property confiscated--(p.

     Speaking broadly and generally, the conqueror in our day has before
     him two alternatives: to leave things alone, and in order to do
     that he need not have left his shores; or to interfere by
     confiscation in some form, in which case he dries up the source of
     the profit which tempted him--(p. 59).

All the suggestions made as to the economic futility of such a
course--including the failure to secure an indemnity--have been

In dealing with the indemnity problem the book did forecast the
likelihood of special trading and manufacturing interests within the
conquering nation opposing the only condition upon which a very large
indemnity would be possible--that condition being either the creation of
a large foreign trade by the enemy or the receipt of payment in kind, in
goods which would compete with home production. But the author certainly
did not think it likely that England and France would impose conditions
so rapidly destructive of the enemy's economic life that they--the
conquerors--would, for their own economic preservation, be compelled to
make loans to the defeated enemy.

Let us note the phase of the argument that the procedure adopted renders
out of date. A good deal of _The Great Illusion_ was devoted to showing
that Germany had no need to expand territorially; that her desire for
overseas colonies was sentimental, and had little relation to the
problem of providing for her population. At the beginning of 1914 that
was certainly true. It is not true to-day. The process by which she
supported her excess population before the War will, to put it at its
lowest, be rendered extremely difficult of maintenance as the result of
allied action. The point, however, is that we are not benefiting by
this paralysis of German industry. We are suffering very greatly from
it: suffering so much that we can be neither politically nor
economically secure until this condition is brought to an end. There can
be no peace in Europe, and consequently no safety for us or France, so
long as we attempt by power to maintain a policy which denies to
millions in the midst of our civilisation the possibility of earning
their living. In so far as the new conditions create difficulties which
did not originally exist, our victory does but the more glaringly
demonstrate the economic futility of our policy towards the vanquished.

An argument much used in _The Great Illusion_ as disproving the claims
made for conquest was the position of the population of small States.
'Very well,' may say the critic, 'Germany is now in the position of a
small State. But you talk about her being ruined!'

In the conditions of 1914, the small State argument was entirely valid
(incidentally the Allied Governments argue that it still holds).[121] It
does not hold to-day. In the conditions of 1920 at any rate, the small
State is, like Germany, economically at the mercy of British sea power
or the favoritism of the French Foreign Office, to a degree that was
unknown before the War. How is the situation to develop? Is the Dutch or
Swedish or Austrian industrial city permanently to be dependent upon the
good graces of some foreign official sitting in Whitehall or the Quai
d'Orsay? At present, if an industrialist in such a city wishes to import
coal or to ship a cargo to one of the new Baltic States, he may be
prevented owing to political arrangements between France and England. If
that is to be the permanent situation of the non-Entente world, then
peace will become less and less secure, and all our talk of having
fought for the rights of the small and weak will be a farce. The
friction, the irritation, and sense of grievance will prolong the unrest
and uncertainty, and the resultant decline in the productivity of
Europe will render our own economic problems the more acute. The power
by which we thus arrogate to ourselves the economic dictatorship of
Europe will ultimately be challenged.

Can we revert to the condition of things which, by virtue of certain
economic freedoms that were respected, placed the trader or
industrialist of a small State pretty much on an equality, in most
things, with the trader of the Great State? Or shall we go forward to a
recognised international economic system, in which the small States will
have their rights secured by a definite code?

Reversion to the old individualist 'trans-nationalism' or an
internationalism without considerable administrative machinery--seems
now impossible. The old system is destroyed at its sources within each
State. The only available course now is, recognising the fact of an
immense growth in the governmental control or regulation of foreign
trade, to devise definite codes or agreements to meet the case. If the
obtaining of necessary raw materials by all the States other than France
and England is to be the subject of wrangles between officials, each
case to be treated on its merits, we shall have a much worse anarchy
than before the War. A condition in which two or three powers can lay
down the law for the world will indeed be an anti-climax.

We may never learn the lesson; the old futile struggles may go on
indefinitely. But if we do put our intelligences to the situation it
will call for a method of treatment somewhat different from that which
pre-war conditions required.

For the purposes of the War, in the various Inter-Allied bodies for the
apportionment of shipping and raw material, we had the beginnings of an
economic League of Nations, an economic World Government. Those bodies
might have been made democratic, and enlarged to include neutral
interests, and maintained for the period of Reconstruction (which might
in any case have been regarded as a phase properly subject to war
treatment in these matters). But these international organisations were
allowed to fall to pieces on the removal of the common enmity which held
the European Allies and America together.

The disappearance of these bodies does not mean the disappearance of
'controls,' but the controls will now be exercised in considerable part
through vast private Capitalist Trusts dealing with oil, meat, and
shipping. Nor will the interference of government be abolished. If it is
considered desirable to ensure to some group a monopoly of phosphates,
or palm nuts, the aid of governments will be invoked for the purpose.
But in this case the government will exercise its powers not as the
result of a publicly avowed and agreed principle, but illicitly,

While professing to exercise a 'mandate' for mankind, a government will
in fact be using its authority to protect special interests. In other
words we shall get a form of internationalism in which the international
capitalist Trust will control the Government instead of the Government's
controlling the Trust.

The fact that this was happening more and more before the War was one
reason why the old individualist order has broken down. More and more
the professed position and function of the State was not its real
position and function. The amount of industry and trade dependent upon
governmental intervention (enterprises of the Chinese Loan and Bagdad
Railway type) before the War was small compared with the quantity that
owed nothing to governmental protection. But the illicit pressure
exercised upon governments by those interested in the exploitation of
backward countries was out of proportion to the public importance of
their interests.

It was this failure of democratic control of 'big business' by the
pre-war democracies which helped to break down the old individualism.
While private capital was apparently gaining control over the democratic
forces, moulding the policy of democratic governments, it was in fact
digging its own grave. If political democracy in this respect had been
equal to its task, or if the captains of industry had shown a greater
scruple or discernment in their use of political power, the
individualist order might have given us a workable civilisation; or its
end might have been less painful.

_The Great Illusion_ did not assume its impending demise. Democracy had
not yet organised socialistic controls within the nation. To have
assumed that the world of nationalisms would face socialistic regulation
and control as between States, would have implied an agility on the part
of the public imagination which it does not in fact possess. An
international policy on these lines would have been unintelligible and
preposterous. It is only because the situation which has followed
victory is so desperate, so much worse than anything _The Great
Illusion_ forecast, that we have been brought to face these remedies

Before the War, the line of advance, internationally, was not by
elaborate regulation. We had seen a congeries of States like those of
the British Empire maintain not only peace but a sort of informal
Federation, without limitation in any formal way of the national freedom
of any one of them. Each could impose tariffs against the mother
country, exclude citizens of the Empire, recognise no common defined
law. The British Empire seemed to forecast a type of international
Association which could secure peace without the restraints or
restrictions of a central authority in anything but the most shadowy
form. If the merely moral understanding which held it together and
enabled co-operation in a crisis could have been extended to the United
States; if the principle of 'self-determination' that had been applied
to the white portion of the Empire were gradually extended to the
Asiatic; if a bargain had been made with Germany and France as to the
open door, and equality of access to undeveloped territory made a matter
of defined agreement, we should have possessed the nucleus of a world
organisation giving the widest possible scope for independent national
development. But world federation on such lines depended above all, of
course, upon the development of a certain 'spirit,' a guiding temper, to
do for nations of different origin what had already been done for
nations of a largely common origin (though Britain has many different
stocks--English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, and, overseas, Dutch and French
as well). But the spirit was not there. The whole tradition in the
international field was one of domination, competition, rivalry,
conflicting interest, 'Struggle for life.'

The possibility of such a free international life has disappeared with
the disappearance of the _laisser-faire_ ideal in national organisation.
We shall perforce be much more concerned now with the machinery of
control in both spheres as the only alternative to an anarchy more
devastating than that which existed before the War. For all the reasons
which point to that conclusion the reader is referred once more to the
second chapter of the first part of this book.



There was not before the War, and there has not been since, any serious
challenge to the economic argument of _The Great Illusion_. Criticism
(which curiously enough does not seem to have included the point dealt
with in the preceding Chapter) seems to have centred rather upon the
irrelevance of economic considerations to the problem of war--the
problem, that is, of creating an international society. The answer to
that is, of course, both explicit and implicit in much of what precedes.

The most serious criticism has been directed to one specific point. It
is made notably both by Professor Spenser Wilkinson[122] and Professor
Lindsay,[123] and as it is relevant to the existing situation and to
much of the argument of the present book, it is worth dealing with.

The criticism is based on the alleged disparagement of the State implied
in the general attitude of the book. Professor Lindsay (whose article,
by the way, although hostile and misapprehending the spirit of the book,
is a model of fair, sincere, and useful criticism) describes the work
under criticism largely as an attack on the conception of 'the State as
a person.' He says in effect that the present author argues thus:--

     'The only proper thing to consider is the interest or the happiness
     of individuals. If a political action conduces to the interests of
     individuals, it must be right; if it conflicts with these interests
     it must be wrong.'

Professor Lindsay continues:--

     'Now if pacifism really implied such a view of the relation of the
     State and the individual, and of the part played by self-interest
     in life, its appeal has little moral force behind it....

     'Mr. Angell seems to hold that not only is the national State being
     superseded, but that the supersession is to be welcomed. The
     economic forces which are destroying the State will do all the
     State has done to bind men together, and more.'

As a matter of fact Professor Lindsay has himself answered his own
criticism. For he goes on:--

     'The argument of _The Great Illusion_ is largely based on the
     public part played by the organisation of credit. Mr Angell has
     been the first to notice the great significance of its activity. It
     has misled him, however, into thinking that it presaged a
     supersession of political by economic control.... The facts are,
     not that political forces are being superseded by economic, but
     that the new industrial situation has called into being new
     political organisations.... To co-ordinate their activities ...
     will be impossible if the spirit of exclusive nationalism and
     distrust of foreigners wins the day; it will be equally impossible
     if the strength of our existing centres of patriotism and public
     spirit are destroyed.'

Very well. We had here in the pre-war period two dangers, either of
which in Professor Lindsay's view would make the preservation of
civilisation impossible: one danger was that men would over-emphasise
their narrower patriotism and surrender themselves to the pugnacities
of exclusive nationalism and distrust of foreigners, forgetting that the
spiritual life of densely packed societies can only be rendered possible
by certain widespread economic co-operations, contracts; the other
danger was that we should under-emphasise each our own nationalism and
give too much importance to the wider international organisation of

Into which danger have we run as a matter of simple fact? Which tendency
is it that is acting as the present disruptive force in Europe? Has
opinion and statesmanship--as expressed in the Treaty, for
instance--given too much or too little attention to the interdependence
of the world, and the internationally economic foundations of our

We have seen Europe smashed by neglecting the truths which _The Great
Illusion_ stressed, perhaps over-stressed, and by surrendering to the
exclusive nationalism which that book attacked. The book was based on
the anticipation that Europe would be very much more likely to come to
grief through over-stressing exclusive nationalism and neglecting its
economic interdependence, than through the decay of the narrower

If the book had been written _in vacuo_, without reference to impending
events, the emphasis might have been different.[124]

But in criticising the emphasis that is thrown upon the welfare of the
individual, Professor Lindsay would seem to be guilty of confusing the
_test_ of good political conduct with the _motive_. Certainly _The Great
Illusion_ did not disparage the need of loyalty to the social group--to
the other members of the partnership. That need is the burden of most
that has been written in the preceding pages when dealing with the facts
of interdependence. An individual who can see only his own interest does
not see even that; for such interest is dependent on others. (These
arguments of egoism versus altruism are always circular.) But it
insisted upon two facts which modern Europe seemed in very great danger
of forgetting. The first was that the Nation-State was not the social
group, not co-terminous with the whole of Society, only a very
arbitrarily chosen part of it; and the second was that the _test_ of the
'good State' was the welfare of the citizens who composed it. How
otherwise shall we settle the adjustment between national right and
international obligation, answer the old and inevitable question, 'What
is the _Good_ State?' The only intelligible answer is: the State which
produces good men, subserves their welfare. A State which did not
subserve the welfare of its citizens, that produced men morally,
intellectually, physically poor and feeble, could not be a good State. A
State is tested by the degree to which it serves individuals.

Now the fact of forgetting the first truth, that the Nation-State is not
the whole of Society but only a part, and that we have obligations to
the other part, led to a distortion of the second. The Hegelianism which
denied any obligation above or beyond that of the Nation-State sets up a
conflict of sovereignties, a competition of power, stimulating the
instinct of domination, making indeed the power and position of the
State with reference to rival States the main end of politics. The
welfare of men is forgotten. The fact that the State is made for man,
not man for the State, is obscured. It was certainly forgotten or
distorted by the later political philosophers of Prussia. The oversight
gave us Prussianism and Imperialism, the ideal of political power as an
end in itself, against which _The Great Illusion_ was a protest. The
Imperialism, not alone in Prussia, takes small account of the quality of
individual life, under the flag. The one thing to be sought is that the
flag should be triumphant, be flown over vast territories, inspire fear
in foreigners, and be an emblem of 'glory.' There is a discernible
distinction of aim and purpose between the Patriot, Jingo, Chauvinist,
and the citizen of the type interested in such things as social reform.
The military Patriot the world over does not attempt to hide his
contempt for efforts at the social betterment of his countryman. That is
'parish pump.' Mr Maxse or Mr Kipling is keenly interested in England,
but not in the betterment of Englishmen; indeed, both are in the habit
of abusing Englishmen very heartily, unless they happen to be soldiers.
In other words, the real end of politics is forgotten. It is not only
that the means have become the end, but that one element of the means,
power, has become the end.

The point I desired to emphasise was that unless we keep before
ourselves the welfare of the individual as the _test_ of politics (not
necessarily the motive of each individual for himself) we constantly
forget the purpose and aim of politics, and patriotism becomes not the
love of one's fellow countrymen and their welfare, but the love of power
expressed by that larger 'ego' which is one's group. 'Mystic
Nationalism' comes to mean something entirely divorced from any
attribute of individual life. The 'Nation' becomes an abstraction apart
from the life of the individual.

There is a further consideration. The fact that the Nation-State is not
co-terminous with Society is shown by its vital need of others; it
cannot live by itself; it must co-operate with others; consequently it
has obligations to those others. The demonstration of that fact involves
an appeal to 'interest,' to welfare. The most visible and vital
co-operation outside the limits of the Nation-State is the economic; it
gives rise to the most definite, as to the most fundamental
obligation--the obligation to accord to others the right to existence.
It is out of the common economic need that the actual structure of some
mutual arrangement, some social code, will arise, has indeed arisen.
This makes the beginning of the first visible structure of a world
society. And from these homely beginnings will come, if at all, a more
vivid sense of the wider society. And the 'economic' interest, as
distinct from the temperamental interest of domination, has at least
this social advantage. Welfare is a thing that in society may well grow
the more it is divided: the better my countrymen the richer is my life
likely to become. Domination has not this quality: it is mutually
exclusive. We cannot all be masters. If any country is to dominate,
somebody or some one else's country must be dominated; if the one is to
be the Superior Race, some other must be inferior. And the inferior
sooner or later objects, and from that resistance comes the
disintegration that now menaces us.

It is perfectly true that we cannot create the kind of State which will
best subserve the interests of its citizens unless each is ready to give
allegiance to it, irrespective of his immediate personal 'interest.'
(The word is put in inverted commas because in most men not compelled by
bad economic circumstances to fight fiercely for daily bread, sheer
physical sustenance, the satisfaction of a social and creative instinct
is a very real 'interest,' and would, in a well-organised society, be as
spontaneous as interest in sport or social ostentation.) The State must
be an idea, an abstraction, capable of inspiring loyalty, embodying the
sense of interdependence. But the circumstances of the independent
modern national State, in frequent and unavoidable contact with other
similar States, are such as to stimulate not mainly the motives of
social cohesion, but those instincts of domination which become
anti-social and disruptive. The nationalist stands condemned not because
he asks allegiance or loyalty to the social group, but first, because he
asks absolute allegiance to something which is not the social group but
only part of it, and secondly, because that exclusive loyalty gives rise
to disruptive pugnacities, injurious to all.

In pointing out the inadequacy of the unitary political Nation-State as
the embodiment of final sovereignty, an inadequacy due to precisely the
development of such organisations as Labour, the present writer merely
anticipated the drift of much political writing of the last ten years on
the problem of State sovereignty; as also the main drift of

If Mr Lindsay finds the very mild suggestions in _The Great Illusion_
touching the necessary qualification of the sovereignty of the
Nation-State subversive, one wonders what his feelings are on reading,
say, Mr Cole, who in a recent book (_Social Theory_) leaves the
Political State so attenuated that one questions whether what is left is
not just ghost. At the best the State is just one collateral association
among others.

The sheer mechanical necessities of administration of an industrial
society, so immeasurably more complex than the simple agricultural
society which gave us the unitary political State, seem to be pushing us
towards a divided or manifold sovereignty. If we are to carry over from
the National State into the new form of the State--as we seem now in
danger of doing--the attitude of mind which demands domination for 'our'
group, the pugnacities, suspicions, and hostilities characteristic of
nationalist temper, we may find the more complex society beyond our
social capacity. I agree that we want a common political loyalty, that
mere obedience to the momentary interest of our group will not give it;
but neither will the temper of patriotism as we have seen it manifested
in the European national State. The loyalty to some common code will
probably only come through a sense of its social need. (It is on the
ground of its social need that Mr Lindsay defends the political State.)
At present we have little sense of that need, because we have (as
Versailles proved) a belief in the effectiveness of our own power to
exact the services we may require. The rival social or industrial groups
have a like belief. Only a real sense of interdependence can undermine
that belief; and it must be a visible, economic interdependence.

A social sense may be described as an instinctive feeling for 'what will
work.' We are only yet at the beginning of the study of human motive. So
much is subconscious that we are certainly apt to ascribe to one motive
conduct which in fact is due to another. And among the neglected motives
of conduct is perhaps a certain sense of art--a sense, in this
connection, of the difficult 'art of living together.' It is probably
true that what some, at least, find so revolting in some of the
manifestations of nationalism, chauvinism, is that they violently
challenge the whole sense of what will work, to say nothing of the
rights of others. 'If every one took that line, nobody could live.' In a
social sense this is gross and offensive. It has an effect on one like
the manners of a cad. It is that sort of motive, perhaps, more than any
calculation of 'interest,' which may one day cause a revulsion against
Balkanisation. But to that motive some informed sense of interdependence
is indispensable.



If the question merely concerned the past, if it were only a matter of
proving that this or that 'School of thought' was right, this
re-examination of arguments put forward before the War would be a
sterile business enough. But it concerns the present and the future;
bears directly and pertinently upon the reasons which have led us into
the existing chaos; and the means by which we might hope to emerge. As
much to-day as before the War (and far more obviously) is it true that
upon the reply to the questions raised in this discussion depends the
continuance of our civilisation. Our society is still racked by a fierce
struggle for political power, our populations still demand the method of
coercion, still refuse to face the facts of interdependence, still
insist clamorously upon a policy which denies those facts.

The propositions we are here discussing were not, it is well to recall,
merely to the effect that 'war does not pay,' but that the ideas and
impulses out of which it grows, and which underlay--and still
underlie--European politics, give us an unworkable society; and that
unless they can be corrected they will increasingly involve social
collapse and disintegration.

That conclusion was opposed, as we have seen, on two main grounds. One
was that the desire for conquest and extension of territory did not
enter appreciably into the causes of war, 'since no one really believed
that victory could advantage them.' The other ground of objection, in
contradistinction, was that the economic advantages of conquest or
military predominance were so great and so obvious that to deny them was
mere paradox-mongering.

The validity of both criticisms has been very thoroughly tested in the
period that has followed the Armistice. Whether it be true or not that
the competition for territory, the belief that predominant power could
be turned to economic account, entered into the causes of the War, that
competition and belief have certainly entered into the settlement and
must be reckoned among the causes of the next war. The proposition that
the economic advantages of conquest and coercion are illusory is hardly
to-day a paradox, however much policy may still ignore the facts.

The outstanding facts of the present situation most worth our attention
in this connection are these: Military predominance, successful war,
evidently offer no solution either of specifically international or of
our common social and economic problems. The political disintegration
going on over wide areas in Europe is undoubtedly related very
intimately to economic conditions: actual lack of food, the struggle for
ever-increasing wages and better conditions. Our attempted remedies--our
conferences for dealing with international credit, the suggestion of an
international loan, the loans actually made to the enemy--are a
confession of the international character of that problem. All this
shows that the economic question, alike nationally and internationally,
is not, it is true, something that ought to occupy all the energies of
men, but something that will, unless dealt with adequately; is a
question that simply cannot be swept aside with magnificent gestures.
Finally, the nature of the settlement actually made by the victor, its
characteristic defects, the failure to realise adequately the victor's
dependence on the economic life of the vanquished, show clearly enough
that, even in the free democracies, orthodox statecraft did indeed
suffer from the misconception which _The Great Illusion_ attributed to

What do we see to-day in Europe? Our preponderant military
power--overwhelming, irresistible, unquestioned--is impotent to secure
the most elementary forms of wealth needed by our people: fuel, food,
shelter. France, who in the forty years of her 'defeat' had the soundest
finances in Europe, is, as a victor over the greatest industrial nation
in Europe, all but bankrupt. (The franc has fallen to a discount of over
seventy per cent.) All the recurrent threats of extended military
occupation fail to secure reparations and indemnities, the restoration
of credit, exchange, of general confidence and security.

And just as we are finding that the things necessary for the life of our
peoples cannot be secured by military force exercised against foreign
nations or a beaten enemy, so are we finding that the same method of
force within the limits of the nation used by one group as against
another, fails equally. The temper or attitude towards life which leads
us to attempt to achieve our end by the forcible imposition of our will
upon others, by dictatorship, and to reject agreement, has produced in
some degree everywhere revolt and rebellion on the one side, and
repression on the other; or a general disruption and the breakdown of
the co-operative processes by which mankind lives. All the raw materials
of wealth are here on the earth as they were ten years ago. Yet Europe
either starves or slips into social chaos, because of the economic

In the way of the necessary co-operation stands the Balkanisation of
Europe. Why are we Balkanised rather than Federalised? Why do Balkan and
other border States fight fiercely over this coalfield or that harbour?
Why does France still oppose trade with Russia, and plot for the control
of an enlarged Poland or a reactionary Hungary? Why does America now
wash her hands of the whole muddle in Europe?

Because everywhere the statesmen and the public believe that if only
the power of their State were great enough, they could be independent of
rival States, achieve political and economic security and dispense with
agreements and obligations.

If they had any vivid sense of the vast dangers to which reliance upon
isolated power exposed any State, however great; if they had realised
how the prosperity and social peace of their own States depended upon
the reconciliation and well-being of the vanquished, the Treaty would
have been a very different document, peace would long since have been
established with Russia, and the moral foundations of co-operation would
be present.

By every road that presented itself, _The Great Illusion_ attempted to
reveal the vital interdependence of peoples--within and without the
State--and, as a corollary to that interdependence, the very strict
limits of the force that can be exercised against any one whose life,
and daily--and willing--labour is necessary to us. It was not merely the
absence of these ideas but the very active presence of the directly
contrary ideas of rival and conflicting interest, which explained the
drift that the present writer thought--and said so often--would, unless
checked, lead Western civilisation to a vast orgy of physical
self-destruction and moral violence and chaos.

The economic conditions which constitute one part of the vindication of
_The Great Illusion_ are of course those described in the first part of
this book, particularly in the first chapter. All that need be added
here are a few suggestions as to the relationship between those
conditions and the propositions we are concerned to verify.

As bearing upon the truth of those propositions, we cannot neglect the
condition of Germany.

If ever national military power, the sheer efficiency of the military
instrument, could ensure a nation's political and economic security,
Germany should have been secure. It was not any lack of the 'impulse to
defence,' of the 'manly and virile qualities' so beloved of the
militarist, no tendency to 'softness,' no 'emasculating
internationalism' which betrayed her. She fell because she failed to
realise that she too, for all her power, had need of a co-operation
throughout the world, which her force could not compel; and that she
must secure a certain moral co-operation in her purposes or be defeated.
She failed, not for lack of 'intense nationalism,' but by reason of it,
because the policy which guided the employment of her military
instrument had in it too small a regard for the moral factors in the
world at large, which might set in motion material forces against her.

It is hardly possible to doubt that the easy victories of 1871 marked
the point at which the German spirit took the wrong turning, and
rendered her statesmen incapable of seeing the forces which were massing
for her destruction. The presence in 1919 of German delegates at
Versailles in the capacity of vanquished can only be adequately
explained by recalling the presence there of German statesmen as victors
in 1871. It took forty years for some of the moral fruits of victory to
manifest themselves in the German spirit.

But the very severity of the present German lot is one that lends itself
to sophistry. It will be argued: 'You say that preponderant military
power, victory, is ineffective to economic ends. Well, look at the
difference between ourselves and Germany. The victors, though they may
not flourish, are at least better off than the vanquished. If we are
lean, they starve. Our military power is not economically futile.'

If to bring about hardship to ourselves in order that some one else may
suffer still greater hardship is an economic gain, then it is untrue to
say that conquest is economically futile. But I had assumed that
advantage or utility was to be measured by the good to us, not by the
harm done to others at our cost. We are arguing for the moment the
economic, and not the ethical aspect of the thing. Keep for a moment to
those terms. If you were told that an enterprise was going to be
extremely profitable and you lost half your fortune in it, you would
certainly regard as curious the logic of the reply, that after all you
_had_ gained, because others in the same enterprise had lost everything.

We are considering in effect whether the facts show that nations must,
in order to provide bread for their people, defeat in war competing
nations who otherwise would secure it. But that economic case for the
'biological inevitability' of war is destroyed if it is true that, after
having beaten the rival nation, we find that we have less bread than
before; that the future security of our food is less; and that out of
our own diminished store we have to feed a defeated enemy who, before
his defeat, managed to feed himself, and helped to feed us as well.

And that is precisely what the present facts reveal.

Reference has already been made to the position of France. In the forty
years of her defeat France was the banker of Europe. She exacted tribute
in the form of dividends and interest upon investments from Russia, the
Near East, Germany herself; exacted it in a form which suited the
peculiar genius of her people and added to the security of her social
life. She was Germany's creditor, and managed to secure from her
conqueror of 1871 the prompt payment of the debts owing to her. When
France was not in a position to compel anything whatsoever from Germany
by military force, the financial claims of Frenchmen upon Germany were
readily discountable in any market of the world. To-day, the financial
claims on Germany, made by a France which is militarily all-powerful,
simply cannot be discounted anywhere. The indemnity vouchers, whatever
may be the military predominance behind them, are simply not negotiable
instruments so long as they depend upon present policy. They are a form
of paper which no banker would dream of discounting on their commercial

To-day France stands as the conquerer of the richest ore-fields in the
world, of territory which is geographically the industrial centre of
Europe; of a vast Empire in Africa and Asia; in a position of
predominance in Poland, Hungary, and Rumania. She has acquired through
the Reparations Commission such power over the enemy countries as to
reduce them almost to the economic position of an Asiatic or African
colony. If ever wealth could be conquered, France has conquered it. If
political power could really be turned to economic account, France ought
to-day to be rich beyond any nation in history. Never was there such an
opportunity of turning military power into wealth.

Then why is she bankrupt? Why is France faced by economic and financial
difficulties so acute that the situation seems inextricable save by
social revolution, a social reconstruction, that is, involving new
principles of taxation, directly aiming at the re-distribution of
wealth, a re-distribution resisted by the property-owning classes.
These, like other classes, have since the Armistice been so persistently
fed upon the fable of making the Boche pay, that the government is
unable to induce them to face reality.[126]

With a public debt of 233,729 million of francs (about £9,300,000,000,
at the pre-war rate of exchange); with the permanent problem of a
declining population accentuated by the loss of millions of men killed
and wounded in the war, and complicated by the importation of coloured
labour; with the exchange value of the franc reduced to sixty in terms
of the British pound, and to fifteen in terms of the American
dollar,[127] the position of victorious France in the hour of her
complete military predominance over Europe seems wellnigh desperate.

She could of course secure very considerable alleviation of her present
difficulties if she would consent to the only condition upon which
Germany could make a considerable contribution to Reparations; the
restoration of German industry. But to that one indispensable condition
of indemnity or reparation France will not consent, because the French
feel that a flourishing Germany would be a Germany dangerous to the
security of France.

In this condition one may recall a part of _The Great Illusion_ case
which, more than any other of the 'preposterous propositions,' excited
derision and scepticism before the War. That was the part dealing with
the difficulties of securing an indemnity. In a chapter (of the early
1910 Edition) entitled _The Indemnity Futility_, occurred these

     'The difficulty in the case of a large indemnity is not so much the
     payment by the vanquished as the receiving by the victor ...

     'When a nation receives an indemnity of a large amount of gold, one
     or two things happens: either the money is exchanged for real
     wealth with other nations, in which case the greatly increased
     imports compete directly with the home producers, or the money is
     kept within the frontiers and is not exchanged for real wealth from
     abroad, and prices inevitably rise.... The rise in price of home
     commodities hampers the nation receiving the indemnity in selling
     those commodities in the neutral markets of the world, especially
     as the loss of so large a sum by the vanquished nation has just the
     reverse effect of cheapening prices and therefore, enabling that
     nation to compete on better terms with the conqueror in neutral
     markets.'--(p. 76.)

The effect of the payment of the French indemnity of 1872 upon German
industry was analysed at length.

This chapter was criticised by economists in Britain, France, and
America. I do not think that a single economist of note admitted the
slightest validity in this argument. Several accused the author of
adopting protectionist fallacies in an attempt to 'make out a case.' It
happens that he is a convinced Free Trader. But he is also aware that it
is quite impracticable to dissociate national psychology from
international commercial problems. Remembering what popular feeling
about the expansion of enemy trade must be on the morrow of war, he
asked the reader to imagine vast imports of enemy goods as the means of
paying an indemnity, and went on:--

     'Do we not know that there would be such a howl about the ruin of
     home industry that no Government could stand the clamour for a
     week?... That this influx of goods for nothing would be represented
     as a deep-laid plot on the part of foreign nations to ruin the home
     trade, and that the citizens would rise in their wrath to prevent
     the accomplishment of such a plot? Is not this very operation by
     which foreign nations tax themselves to send abroad goods, not for
     nothing (that would be a crime at present unthinkable), but at
     below cost, the offence to which we have given the name of
     "dumping"? When it is carried very far, as in the case of sugar,
     even Free Trade nations like Great Britain join International
     Conferences to prevent these gifts being made!...'

The fact that not one single economist, so far as I know, would at the
time admit the validity of these arguments, is worth consideration. Very
learned men may sometimes be led astray by keeping their learning in
watertight compartments, 'economics' in one compartment and 'politics'
or political psychology in another. The politicians seemed to misread
the economies and the economists the politics.

What are the post-war facts in this connection? We may get them
summarised on the one hand by the Prime Minister of Great Britain and on
the other by the expert adviser of the British Delegation to the Peace

Mr Lloyd George, speaking two years after the Armistice, and after
prolonged and exhaustive debates on this problem, says:--

     'What I have put forward is an expression of the views of all the
     experts.... Every one wants gold, which Germany has not got, and
     they will not take German goods. Nations can only pay debts by
     gold, goods, services, or bills of exchange on nations which are
     its debtors.[128]

     'The real difficulty ... is due to the difficulty of securing
     payment outside the limits of Germany. Germany could pay--pay
     easily--inside her own boundary, but she could not export her
     forests, railways, or land across her own frontiers and make them
     over to the Allies. Take the railways, for example. Suppose the
     Allies took possession of them and doubled the charges; they would
     be paid in paper marks which would be valueless directly they
     crossed the frontier.

     'The only way Germany could pay was by way of exports--that is by
     difference between German imports and exports. If, however, German
     imports were too much restricted, the Germans would be unable to
     obtain food and raw materials necessary for their manufactures.
     Some of Germany's principal markets--Russia and Central
     Europe--were no longer purchasers, and if she exported too much to
     the Allies, it meant the ruin of their industry and lack of
     employment for their people. Even in the case of neutrals it was
     only possible generally to increase German exports by depriving our
     traders of their markets.'[129]

There is not a line here that is not a paraphrase of the chapter in the
early edition of _The Great Illusion_.

The following is the comment of Mr Maynard Keynes, ex-Advisor to the
British Treasury, on the claims put forward after the Paris Conference
of January 1921:--

     'It would be easy to point out how, if Germany could compass the
     vast export trade which the Paris proposals contemplate, it could
     only be by ousting some of the staple trades of Great Britain from
     the markets of the world. Exports of what commodities, we may ask,
     in addition to her present exports, is Germany going to find a
     market for in 1922--to look no farther ahead--which will enable her
     to make the payment of between £150,000,000 and £200,000,000
     including the export proportion which will be due from her in that
     year? Germany's five principal exports before the War were iron,
     steel, and machinery, coal and coke, woollen goods and cotton
     goods. Which of these trades does Paris think she is going to
     develop on a hitherto unprecedented scale? Or if not these, what
     others? And how is she going to finance the import of raw materials
     which, except in the case of coal and coke, are a prior necessity
     to manufacture, if the proceeds of the goods when made will not be
     available to repay the credits? I ask these questions in respect of
     the year 1922 because many people may erroneously believe that
     while the proposed settlement is necessarily of a problematic
     character for the later years--only time can show--it makes some
     sort of a start possible. These questions are serious and
     practical, and they deserve to be answered. If the Paris proposals
     are more than wind, they mean a vast re-organisation of the
     channels of international trade. If anything remotely like them is
     really intended to happen, the reactions on the trade and industry
     of this country are incalculable. It is an outrage that they should
     be dealt with by the methods of the poker party of which news comes
     from Paris.'[130]

If the expert economists failed to admit the validity of _The Great
Illusion_ argument fifteen years ago, the general public has barely a
glimmering of it to-day. It is true that our miners realise that vast
deliveries of coal for nothing by Germany disorganise our coal export
trade. British shipbuilding has been disastrously affected by the Treaty
clauses touching the surrender of German tonnage--so much so that the
Government have now recommended the abandonment of these clauses, which
were among the most stringent and popular in the whole Treaty. The
French Government has flatly refused to accept German machinery to
replace that destroyed by the German armies, while French labour refuses
to allow German labour, in any quantity, to operate in the devastated
regions. Thus coal, ships, machinery, manufactures, labour, as means of
payment, have either already created great economic havoc or have been
rejected because they might. Yet our papers continue to shout that
'Germany can pay,' implying that failure to do so is merely a matter of
her will. Of course she can pay--if we let her. Payment means increasing
German foreign trade. Suppose, then, we put the question 'Can German
Foreign Trade be increased?' Obviously it can. It depends mainly on us.
To put the question in its truer form shows that the problem is much
more a matter of our will than of Germany's. Incidentally, of course,
German diplomacy has been as stupid as our own. If the German
representatives had said, in effect: 'It is common ground that we can
pay only in commodities. If you will indicate the kind and quantity of
goods we shall deliver, and will facilitate the import into Germany of,
and the payment for, the necessary food and raw material, we will
accept--on that condition--even your figures of reparation.' The Allies,
of course, could not have given the necessary undertaking, and the real
nature of the problem would have stood revealed.[131]

The review of the situation of France given in the preceding pages will
certainly be criticised on the ground that it gives altogether too great
weight to the temporary embarrassment, and leaves out the advantages
which future generations of Frenchmen will reap.

Now, whatever the future may have in store, it will certainly have for
France the task of defending her conquests if she either withholds their
product (particularly iron) from the peoples of Central Europe who need
them, or if she makes of their possession a means of exacting a tribute
which they feel to be burdensome and unjust. Again we are faced by the
same dilemma; if Germany gets the iron, her population goes on
expanding and her potential power of resistance goes on increasing. Thus
France's burden of defence would grow steadily greater, while her
population remained constant or declined. This difficulty of French
deficiency in human raw material is not a remote contingency; it is an
actual difficulty of to-day, which France is trying to meet in part by
the arming of the negro population of her African colonies, and in part
by the device of satellite militarisms, as in Poland. But the
precariousness of such methods is already apparent.

The arming of the African negro carries its appalling possibilities on
its face. Its development cannot possibly avoid the gravest complication
of the industrial problem. It is the Servile State in its most sinister
form; and unless Europe is itself ready for slavery it will stop this
reintroduction of slavery for the purposes of militarism.

The other device has also its self-defeating element. To support an
imperialist Poland means a hostile Russia; yet Poland, wedged in between
a hostile Slav mass on the one side and a hostile Teutonic one on the
other, herself compounded of Russian, German, Austrian, Lithuanian,
Ukrainian, and Jewish elements, ruled largely by a landowning
aristocracy when the countries on both sides have managed to transfer
the great estates to the peasants, is as likely, in these days, to be a
military liability as a military asset.

These things are not irrelevant to the problem of turning military power
to economic account: they are of the very essence of the problem.

Not less so is this consideration: If France should for political
reasons persist in a policy which means a progressive reduction in the
productivity of Europe, that policy would be at its very roots directly
contrary to the vital interests of England. The foregoing pages have
explained why the increasing population of these islands, that live by
selling coal or its products, are dependent upon the high productivity
of the outside world. France is self-supporting and has no such
pre-occupation. Already the divergence is seen in the case of the
Russian policy. Britain direly needs the wheat of Russia to reduce the
cost of living--or improve the value of what she has to sell, which is
very nearly the same thing. France does not need Russian foodstuffs, and
in terms of narrow self-interest (cutting her losses in Czarist bonds)
can afford to be indifferent to the devastation of Russia. As soon as
this divergence reaches a certain degree, rupture becomes inevitable.

The mainspring of French policy during the last two years has been
fear--fear of the economic revival of Germany which might be the
beginning of a military revival. The measures necessary to check German
economic revival inevitably increase German resentment, which is taken
as proof of the need for increasingly severe measures of repression.
Those measures are tending already to deprive France of her most
powerful military Allies. That fact still further increases the burden
that will be thrown upon her. Such burdens must inevitably make very
large deductions from the 'profits' of her new conquests.

Note in view of these circumstances some further difficulties of turning
those conquests to account. Take the iron mines of Lorraine.[132] France
has now within her borders what is, as already noted, the geographical
centre of Continental industry. How shall she turn that fact to account?

For the iron to become wealth at all, for France to become the actual
centre of European industry, there must be a European industry: the
railroads and factories and steamship lines as consumers of the iron
must once more operate. To do that they in their turn must have _their_
market in the shape of active consumption on the part of the millions of
Europe. In other words the Continent must be economically restored. But
that it cannot be while Germany is economically paralysed. Germany's
industry is the very keystone of the European industry and
agriculture--whether in Russia, Poland, the Balkans, or the Near
East--which is the indispensable market of the French iron.[133] Even if
we could imagine such a thing as a reconstruction of Europe on lines
that would in some wonderful way put seventy or eighty million Germans
into a secondary place--involving as it would vast redistributions of
population--the process obviously would take years or generations.
Meantime Europe goes to pieces. 'Men will not always die quietly' as Mr
Keynes puts it. What is to become of French credit while France is
suppressing Bolshevik upheavals in Poland or Hungary caused by the
starvation of cities through the new economic readjustments? Europe
famishes now for want of credit. But credit implies a certain dependence
upon the steady course of future events, some assurance, for instance,
that this particular railway line to which advances are made will not
find itself, in a year or two's time, deprived of its traffic in the
interest of economic rearrangements resulting from an attempt to re-draw
the economic map of Europe. Nor can such re-drawing disregard the
present. It is no good telling peasants who have not ploughs or reapers
or who cannot get fertilisers because their railroad has no locomotives,
that a new line running on their side of the new frontier will be built
ten or fifteen years hence. You cannot stop the patients breathing 'for
just a few hours' while experiments are made with vital organs. The
operation must adapt itself to the fact that all the time he must
breathe. And to the degree to which we attempt violently to re-direct
the economic currents, does the security upon which our credit depends

There are other considerations. A French journalist asks plaintively:
'If we want the coal why don't we go in and take it'--by the occupation
of the Ruhr. The implication is that France could get the coal for
nothing. Well, France has taken over the Saar Valley. By no means does
she get the coal for nothing. The miners have to be paid. France tried
paying them at an especially low rate. The production fell off; the
miners were discontented and underfed. They had to be paid more. Even so
the Saar has been 'very restless' under French control, and the last
word, as we know, will rest with the men. Miners who feel they are
working for the enemy of their fatherland are not going to give a high
production. It is a long exploded illusion that slave labour--labour
under physical compulsion--is a productive form of labour. Its output
invariably is small. So assuredly France does not get this coal for
nothing. And from the difference between the price which it costs her as
owner of the mines and administrator of their workers, and that which
she would pay if she had to buy the coal from the original owners and
administrators (if there is a difference on the credit side at all) has
to be deducted the ultimate cost of defence and of the political
complications that that has involved. Precise figures are obviously not
available; but it is equally obvious that the profit of seizure is

Always does the fundamental dilemma remain. France will need above all,
if she is to profit by these raw materials of European industry,
markets, and again markets. But markets mean that the iron which has
been captured must be returned to the nation from which it was taken, on
conditions economically advantageous to that nation. A central Europe
that is consuming large quantities of metallurgical products is a
Central Europe growing in wealth and power and potentially dangerous
unless reconciled. And reconciliation will include economic justice,
access to the very 'property' that has been seized.

The foregoing is not now, as it was when the present author wrote in
similar terms a decade since, mere speculation or hypothesis. Our
present difficulties with reference to the indemnity or reparations, the
fall in the exchanges, or the supply of coal, are precisely of the order
just indicated. The conqueror is caught in the grip of just those
difficulties in turning conquest to economic account upon which _The
Great Illusion_ so repeatedly insisted.

The part played by credit--as the sensory nerve of the economic
organism--has, despite the appearances to the contrary in the early part
of the War, confirmed those propositions that dealt with it. Credit--as
the extension of the use of money--is society's bookkeeping. The
debauchery of the currencies means of course juggling with the promises
to pay. The general relation of credit to a certain dependability upon
the future has already been dealt with.[135] The object here is to call
attention to the present admissions that the maintenance or re-creation
of credit is in very truth an indispensable element in the recovery of
Europe. Those admissions consist in the steps that are being taken
internationally, the emphasis which the governments themselves are
laying upon this factor. Yet ten years ago the 'diplomatic expert'
positively resented the introduction of such a subject into the
discussion of foreign affairs at all. Serious consideration of the
subject was generally dismissed by the orthodox authority on
international politics with some contemptuous reference to 'cosmopolitan

Even now we seize every opportunity of disguising the truth to
ourselves. In the midst of the chaos we may sometimes see flamboyant
statements that England at any rate is greater and richer than before.
(It is a statement, indeed, very apt to come from our European
co-belligerents, worse off than ourselves.) It is true, of course, that
we have extended our Empire; that we have to-day the same materials of
wealth as--or more than--we had before the War; that we have improved
technical knowledge. But we are learning that to turn all this to
account there must be not only at home, but abroad, a widespread
capacity for orderly co-operation; the diffusion throughout the world of
a certain moral quality. And the war, for the time being, at least, has
very greatly diminished that quality. Because Welsh miners have absorbed
certain ideas and developed a certain temperament, the wealth of many
millions who are not miners declines. The idea of a self-sufficing
Empire that can disregard the chaos of the outside world recedes
steadily into the background when we see the infection of certain ideas
beginning the work of disintegration within the Empire. Our control over
Egypt has almost vanished; that over India is endangered; our relations
with Ireland affect those with America and even with some of our white
colonies. Our Empire, too, depends upon the prevalence of certain



'But the real irrelevance of all this discussion,' it will be said, 'is
that however complete our recognition of these truths might have been,
that recognition would not have affected Germany's action. We did not
want territory, or colonies, or mines, or oil-wells, or phosphate
islands, or railway concessions. We fought simply to resist aggression.
The alternatives for us were sheer submission to aggression, or war, a
war of self-defence.'

Let us see. Our danger came from Germany's aggressiveness. What made her
more aggressive than other nations, than those who later became our
Allies--Russia, Rumania, Italy, Japan, France? Sheer original sin, apart
from political or economic circumstance?

Now it was an extraordinary thing that those who were most clamant about
the danger were for the most part quite ready to admit--even to urge and
emphasise as part of their case--that Germany's aggression was _not_ due
to inherent wickedness, but that any nation placed in her position would
behave in just about the same way. That, indeed, was the view of very
many pre-eminent before the War in their warnings of the German peril,
of among others, Lord Roberts, Admiral Mahan, Mr Frederic Harrison, Mr
Blatchford, Professor Wilkinson.

Let us recall, for instance, Mr Harrison's case for German
aggression--Germany's 'poor access to the sea and its expanding

     'A mighty nation of 65,000,000, with such superb resources both for
     peace and war, and such overweening pride in its own superiority
     and might, finds itself closed up in a ring-fence too narrow for
     its fecundity as for its pretensions, constructed more by history,
     geography, and circumstances than by design--a fence maintained by
     the fears rather than the hostility of its weaker neighbours. That
     is the rumbling subterranean volcano on which the European State
     system rests.

     'It is inevitable but that a nation with the magnificent resources
     of the German, hemmed in a territory so inadequate to their needs
     and pretensions, and dominated by a soldier, bureaucratic, and
     literary caste, all deeply imbued with the Bismarckian doctrine,
     should thirst to extend their dominions, and their power at any
     sacrifice--of life, of wealth, and of justice. One must take facts
     as they are, and it is idle to be blind to facts, or to rail
     against them. It is as silly to gloss over manifest perils as it is
     to preach moralities about them.... England, Europe, civilisation,
     is in imminent peril from German expansion.'[136]

Very well. We are to drop preaching moralities and look at the facts.
Would successful war by us remove the economic and political causes
which were part at least of the explanation of German aggression? Would
her need for expansion become less? The preceding pages answer that
question. Successful war by us would not dispose of the pressure of
German population.

If the German menace was due in part at least to such causes as 'poor
access to the sea,' the absence of any assurance as to future provision
for an expanding population, what measures were proposed for the removal
of those causes?

None whatever. Not only so, but any effort towards a frank facing of the
economic difficulty was resisted by the very people who had previously
urged the economic factors of the conflict, as a 'sordid' interpretation
of that conflict. We have seen what happened, for instance, in the case
of Admiral Mahan. He urged that the competition for undeveloped
territory and raw materials lay behind the political struggle. So be it;
replies some one; let us see whether we cannot remove that economic
cause of conflict, whether indeed there is any real economic conflict at
all. And the Admiral then retorts that economics have nothing to do with
it. To Mr Frederic Harrison '_The Great Illusion_ policy is childish and
mischievous rubbish.' What was that policy? To deny the existence of the
German or other aggressiveness? The whole policy was prompted by the
very fact of that danger. Did the policy suggest that we should simply
yield to German political pretensions? Again, as we have seen, such a
course was rejected with every possible emphasis. The one outstanding
implication of the policy was that while arming we must find a basis of
co-operation by which both peoples could live.

In any serious effort to that end, one overpowering question had to be
answered by Englishmen who felt some responsibility for the welfare of
their people. Would that co-operation, giving security to others, demand
the sacrifice of the interest or welfare of their own people? _The Great
Illusion_ replied, No, and set forth the reasons for that reply. And the
setting-forth of those reasons made the book an 'appeal to avarice
against patriotism,' an attempt 'to restore the blessed hour of money
getting.' Eminent Nonconformist divines and patriotic stockbrokers
joined hands in condemning the appalling sordidness of the demonstration
which might have led to a removal of the economic causes of
international quarrel.

It is not true to say that in the decade preceding Armageddon the
alternatives to fighting Germany were exhausted, and that nothing was
left but war or submission. We simply had not tried the remedy of
removing the economic excuse for aggression. The fact that Germany did
face these difficulties and much future uncertainty was indeed urged by
those of the school of Mr Harrison and Lord Roberts as a conclusive
argument against the possibility of peace or any form of agreement with
her. The idea that agreement should reach to such fundamental things as
the means of subsistence seemed to involve such an invasion of
sovereignty as not even to be imaginable.

To show that such an agreement would not ask a sacrifice of vital
national interest, that indeed the economic advantages which could be
exacted by military preponderance were exceedingly small or
non-existent, seemed the first indispensable step towards bringing some
international code of economic right within the area of practical
politics, of giving it any chance of acceptance by public opinion. Yet
the effort towards that was disparaged and derided as 'materialistic.'

One hoped at least that this disparagement of material interest as a
motive in international politics might give us a peace settlement which
would be free from it. But economic interest which is 'sordid' when
appealed to as a means of preserving the peace, becomes a sacred egoism
when invoked on behalf of a policy which makes war almost inevitable.

Why did it create such bitter resentment before the War to suggest that
we should discuss the economic grounds of international conflict--why
before the War were many writers who now demand that discussion so angry
at it being suggested? Among the very hostile critics of _The Great
Illusion_--hostile mainly on the ground that it misread the motive
forces in international politics--was Mr J. L. Garvin. Yet his own first
post-war book is entitled: _The Economic Foundations of Peace_, and its
first Chapter Summary begins thus:--

     'A primary war, largely about food and raw materials: inseparable
     connection of the politics and economics of the peace.'

And his first paragraph contains the following:--

     'The war with many names was in one main aspect a war about food
     supply and raw materials. To this extent it was Germany's fight to
     escape from the economic position of interdependence without
     security into which she had insensibly fallen--to obtain for
     herself independent control of an ample share in the world's
     supplies of primary resources. The war meant much else, but it
     meant this as well and this was a vital factor in its causes.'

His second chapter is thus summarised:--

     'Former international conditions transformed by the revolution in
     transport and telegraphic intelligence; great nations lose their
     former self-sufficient basis: growth of interdependence between
     peoples and continents.... Germany without sea power follows
     Britain's economic example; interdependence without security:
     national necessities and cosmopolitan speculation: an Armageddon

Lord Grey has said that if there had existed in 1914 a League of Nations
as tentative even as that embodied in the Covenant, Armageddon could in
any case have been delayed, and delay might well have meant prevention.
We know now that if war had been delayed the mere march of events would
have altered the situation. It is unlikely that a Russian revolution of
one kind or another could have been prevented even if there had been no
war; and a change in the character of the Russian government might well
have terminated on the one side the Serbian agitation against Austria,
and on the other the genuine fear of German democrats concerning
Russia's imperialist ambitions. The death of the old Austrian emperor
was another factor that might have made for peace.[137]

Assume, in addition to such factors, that Britain had been prepared to
recognise Germany's economic needs and difficulties, as Mr Garvin now
urges we should recognise them. Whether even this would have prevented
war, no man can say. But we can say--and it is implicit in the economic
case now so commonly urged as to the need of Germany for economic
security--that since we did not give her that security we did not do all
that we might have done to remove the causes of war. 'Here in the
struggle for primary raw materials' says Mr Garvin in effect over the
six hundred pages more or less of his book, 'are causes of war that must
be dealt with if we are to have peace.' If then, in the years that
preceded Armageddon, the world had wanted to avoid that orgy, and had
had the necessary wisdom, these are things with which it would have
occupied itself.

Yet when the attempt was made to draw the attention of the world to just
those factors, publicists even as sincere and able as Mr Garvin
disparaged it; and very many misrepresented it by silly distortion. It
is easy now to see where that pre-war attempt to work towards some
solution was most defective: if greater emphasis had been given to some
definite scheme for assuring Germany's necessary access to resources,
the real issue might have been made plainer. A fair implication of _The
Great Illusion_ was that as Britain had no real interest in thwarting
German expansion, the best hope for the future lay in an increasingly
clear demonstration of the fact of community of interest. The more valid
conclusion would have been that the absence of conflict in vital
interests should have been seized upon as affording an opportunity for
concluding definite conventions and obligations which would assuage
fears on both sides. But criticism, instead of bringing out this defect,
directed itself, for the most part, to an attempt to show that the
economic fears or facts had nothing to do with the conflict. Had
criticism consisted in taking up the problem where _The Great Illusion_
left it, much more might have been done--perhaps sufficient--to make
Armageddon unnecessary.[138]

The importance of the phenomenon we have just touched upon--the
disparagement before war of truths we are compelled to face after
war--lies in its revelation of subconscious or unconscious motive. There
grows up after some years of peace in every nation possessing military
and naval traditions and a habit of dominion, a real desire for
domination, perhaps even for war itself; the opportunity that it affords
for the assertion of collective power; the mysterious dramatic impulse
to 'stop the cackle with a blow; strike, and strike home.'

       *       *       *       *       *

For the moment we are at the ebb of that feeling and another is
beginning perhaps to flow. The results are showing in our policy. We
find in what would have been ten years ago very strange places for such
things, attacks upon the government for its policy of 'reckless
militarism' in Mesopotamia or Persia. Although public opinion did not
manage to impose a policy of peace with Russia, it did at least make
open and declared war impossible, and all the efforts of the Northcliffe
Press to inflame passion by stories of Bolshevist atrocities fell
completely flat. For thirty years it has been a crime of _lèse patrie_
to mention the fact that we have given solemn and repeated pledges for
the evacuation of Egypt. And indeed to secure a free hand in Egypt we
were ready to acquiesce in the French evasion of international
obligations in Morocco, a policy which played no small part in widening
the gulf between ourselves and Germany. Yet the political position on
behalf of which ten years ago these risks were taken is to-day
surrendered with barely a protest. A policy of almost unqualified
'scuttle' which no Cabinet could have faced a decade since, to-day
causes scarcely a ripple. And as to the Treaty, certain clauses therein,
around which centred less than two years ago a true dementia--the trial
of the Kaiser in London, the trial of war prisoners--we have simply
forgotten all about.

It is certain that sheer exhaustion of the emotions associated with war
explains a good deal. But Turks, Poles, Arabs, Russians, who have
suffered war much longer, still fight. The policy of the loan to
Germany, the independence of Egypt, the evacuation of Mesopotamia, the
refusal to attempt the removal of the Bolshevist 'menace to freedom and
civilisation' by military means, are explained in part at least by a
growing recognition of both the political and the economic futility of
the military means, and the absolute need of replacing or supplementing
the military method by an increasing measure of agreement and
co-operation. The order of events has been such as to induce an
interpretation, bring home a conviction, which has influenced policy.
But the strength and permanence of the conviction will depend upon the
degree of intelligence with which the interpretation is made. Discussion
is indispensable and that justifies this re-examination of the
suggestions made in _The Great Illusion_.

In so far as it is mere emotional exhaustion which we are now feeling,
and not the beginning of a new tradition and new attitude in which
intelligence, however dimly, has its part, it has in it little hope. For
inertia has its dangers as grave as those of unseeing passion. In the
one case the ship is driven helplessly by a gale on to the rocks, in the
other it drifts just as helplessly into the whirlpool. A consciousness
of direction, a desire at least to be master of our fate and to make the
effort of thought to that end, is the indispensable condition of
freedom, salvation. That is the first and last justification for the
discussion we have just summarised.


[1] But British policy can hardly be called less contradictory. A year
after the enactment of a Treaty which quite avowedly was framed for the
purpose of checking the development of German trade, we find the
unemployment crisis producing on the part of the _New Statesman_ the
following comment:--

'It must be admitted, however, that the present wave of depression and
unemployment is far more an international than a national problem. The
abolition of "casual labour" and the adoption of a system of "industrial
maintenance" would appreciably affect it. The international aspect of
the question has always been important, but never so overwhelmingly
important as it is to-day.

'The present great depression, however, is not normal. It is due in the
main to the breakdown of credit and the demoralisation of the
"exchanges" throughout Europe. France cannot buy locomotives in England
if she has to pay 60 francs to the pound sterling. Germany, with an
exchange of 260 (instead of the pre-war 20) marks to the pound, can buy
scarcely anything. Russia, for other reasons cannot buy at all. And even
neutral countries like Sweden and Denmark, which made much money out of
the war and whose "exchanges" are fairly normal, are financially almost
_hors de combat_, owing presumably to the ruin of Germany. There appears
to be no remedy for this position save the economic rehabilitation of
Central Europe.

'As long as German workmen are unable to exercise their full productive
capacity, English workmen will be unemployed. That, at present, is the
root of the problem. For the last two years we, as an industrial nation,
have been cutting off our nose to spite our face. In so far as we ruin
Germany we are ruining ourselves; and in so far as we refuse to trade
with revolutionary Russia we are increasing the likelihood of violent
upheavals in Great Britain. Sooner or later we shall have to scrap every
Treaty that has been signed and begin again the creation of the New
Europe on the basis of universal co-operation and mutual aid. Where we
have demanded indemnities we must offer loans.

'A system of international credit--founded necessarily on British
credit--is as great a necessity for ourselves as it is for Central
Europe. We must finance our customers or lose them and share their ruin,
sinking deeper every month into the morass of doles and relief works.
That is the main lesson of the present crisis.'--(Jan. 1st, 1921.)

[2] Out of a population of 45,000,000 our home-grown wheat suffices for
only about 12,500,000, on the basis of the 1919-20 crop. Sir Henry Rew,
_Food Supplies in Peace and War_, says: 'On the basis of our present
population ... we should still need to import 78 per cent. of our
requirements.' (p. 165). Before the War, according to the same
authority, home produce supplied 48 per cent. in food value of the total
consumption, but the table on which this figure is based does not
include sugar, tea, coffee, or cocoa.

[3] The growing power of the food-producing area and its determination
to be independent as far as possible of the industrial centre, is a fact
too often neglected in considering the revolutionary movements of
Europe. The war of the classes almost everywhere is crossed by another
war, that between cities and country. The land-owning countryman,
whether peasant or noble, tends to become conservative, clerical,
anti-socialist (and anti-social) in his politics and outlook.

[4] 'The Economic Consequences of the Peace,' pp. 275-277.

[5] _Manchester Guardian_, Weekly Edition, February 6th., 1920.

[6] _Daily News_, June 28th., 1920.

[7] Sir William Goode, British Director of Relief, has said, (_Times_
Dec. 6th., 1919):--

'I have myself recently returned from Vienna. I feel as if I had spent
ten days in the cell of a condemned murderer who has given up all hope
of reprieve. I stayed at the best hotel, but I saw no milk and no eggs
the whole time I was there. In the bitter, cold hall of the hotel, once
the gayest rendezvous in Europe, the visitors huddled together in the
gloom of one light where there used to be forty. They were more like
shadows of the Embankment than representatives of the rich. Vienna's
world-famous Opera House is packed every afternoon. Why? Women and men
go there in order to keep themselves warm, and because they have no work
to do.'

He went on:--

'First aid was to hasten peace. Political difficulties combined with
decreased production, demoralisation of railway traffic, to say nothing
of actual shortages of coal, food, and finance, had practically
paralysed industrial and commercial activity. The bold liberation or
creation of areas, without simultaneous steps to reorganise economic
life, had so far proved to be a dangerous experiment. Professor Masaryk,
the able President of Czecho-Slovakia, put the case in a nutshell when
he said: "It is a question of the export of merchandise or of

[8] The figures for 1913 are:--

  Imports.         From British Possessions      £192,000,000.
                   From Foreign Countries        £577,000,000.
  Exports.         To British Possessions        £195,000,000.
                   To Foreign Countries          £330,000,000.
  Re-exports.      To British Possessions         £14,000,000.
                   To Foreign Countries           £96,000,000.

[9] The question is dealt with more fully in the last chapter of the
'Addendum' to this book. The chapter of 'The Great Illusion' dealing
with the indemnity says: 'The difficulty in the case of a large
indemnity is not so much the payment by the vanquished as the receiving
by the victor.' (p. 76, 1910 Edition.) Mr Lloyd George (Jan. 28th.,
1921) says: 'The real difficulty is in securing payment outside the
limits of Germany.... The only way Germany can pay is by exports--the
difference between German imports and exports.... If she exports too
much for the Allies it means the ruin of their industry.'

Thus the main problem of an indemnity is to secure wealth in exportable
form which will not disorganise the victor's trade. Yet so obscured does
the plainest fact become in the murky atmosphere of war time that in
many of the elaborate studies emanating from Westminster and Paris, as
to 'What Germany can pay' this phase of the problem is not even touched
upon. We get calculations as to Germany's total wealth in railroads,
public buildings, houses, as though these things could be picked up and
transported to France or Belgium. We are told that the Allies should
collect the revenues of the railroads; the _Daily Mail_ wants us to
'take' the income of Herr Stinnes, all without a word as to the form in
which this wealth is to _leave Germany_. Are we prepared to take the
things made in the factories of Herr Stinnes or other Germans? If not,
what do we propose that Germany shall give? Paper marks increased in
quantity until they reach just the value of the paper they are printed
on? Even to secure coal, we must, as we have seen, give in return food.

If the crux of the situation were really understood by the memorialists
who want Germany's pockets searched, their studies would be devoted
_not_ to showing what Germany might produce under favourable
circumstances, which her past has shown to be very great indeed, but
what degree of competitive German production Allied industrialists will
themselves be ready to face.

"Big business" in England is already strongly averse to the payment of
an indemnity, as any conversation in the City or with industrialists
readily reveals. Yet it was the suggestion of what has actually taken
place which excited the derision of critics a few years ago. Obviously
the feasibility of an indemnity is much more a matter of our will than
of Germany's, for it depends on what shall be the size of Germany's
foreign trade. Clearly we can expand that if we want to. We might give
her a preference!

[10] 'What Happened to Europe.'

[11] _Times_, July 3rd., 1920.

[12] The proposal respecting Austria was a loan of 50 millions in
instalments of five years.

[13] Mr Hoover seems to suggest that their repayment should never take
place. To a meeting of Bankers he says:--

'Even if we extend these credits and if upon Europe's recovery we then
attempt to exact the payment of these sums by import of commodities, we
shall have introduced a competition with our own industries that cannot
be turned back by any tariff wall.... I believe that we have to-day an
equipment and a skill in production that yield us a surplus of
commodities for export beyond any compensation we can usefully take by
way of imported commodities.... Gold and remittances and services cannot
cover this gulf in our trade balance.... To me there is only one remedy,
and that is by the systematic permanent investment of our surplus
production in reproductive works abroad. We thus reduce the return we
must receive to a return of interest and profit.'

A writer in the _New Republic_ (Dec. 29th., 1920.) who quotes this says
pertinently enough:--

'Mr Hoover disposes of the principal of our foreign loans. The debtors
cannot return it and we cannot afford to receive it back. But the
interest and profit which he says we may receive--that will have to be
paid in commodities, as the principal would be if it were paid at all.
What shall we do when the volume of foreign commodities received in
payment of interest and profit becomes very large and our industries cry
for protection?'

[14] The present writer declines to join in the condemnation of British
miners for reduced output. In an ultimate sense (which is no part of the
present discussion) the decline in effort of the miner is perhaps
justified. But the facts are none the less striking as showing how great
the difference of output can be. Figures given by Sir John Cadman,
President of the Institute of Mining Engineers a short time ago (and
quoted in the _Fortnightly Review_ for Oct. 1920.), show that in 1916
the coal production per person employed in the United Kingdom was 263
tons, as against 731 tons in the United States. In 1918 the former
amounted to 236 tons, and during 1919 it sank to 197½ tons. In 1913 the
coal produced per man per day in this country was 0.98 tons, and in
America it was 3.91 tons for bituminous coal and 2.19 tons for
anthracite. In 1918 the British output figure was 0.80 tons, and the
American 3.77 tons for bituminous coal and 2.27 for anthracite. Measured
by their daily output, a single American miner does just as much work as
do five Englishmen.

The inferiority in production is, of course, 'to some considerable
extent' due to the fact that the most easily workable deposits in
England are becoming exhausted, while the United States can most easily
draw on their most prolific and most easily workable sites....

It is the fact that in our new and favourable coalfields, such as the
South Yorkshire area, the men working under the most favourable modern
conditions and in new mines where the face is near the shaft, do not
obtain as much coal per man employed, as that got by the miners in the
country generally under the conditions appertaining forty and fifty
years ago.

[15] Mr J. M. Keynes, 'The Economic Consequences of the Peace,' p. 211,
says:--'It is an extraordinary fact that the fundamental economic
problem of a Europe starving and disintegrating before their eyes, was
the one question in which it was impossible to arouse the interest of
the Four.'

[16] Incidentally we see nations not yet brought under capitalist
organisation (e.g. the peasant nations of the Balkans) equally subject
to the hostilities we are discussing.

Bertrand Russell writes (_New Republic_, September 15th., 1920):--'No
doubt commercial rivalry between England and Germany had a great deal to
do with causing the war, but rivalry is a different thing from
profit-seeking. Probably by combination, English and German capitalists
could have made more than they did out of rivalry, but the rivalry was
instinctive, and its economic form was accidental. The capitalists were
in the grip of nationalist instinct as much as their proletarian
'dupes.' In both classes some have gained by the war, but the universal
will to war was not produced by the hope of gain. It was produced by a
different set of instincts, one which Marxian psychology fails to
recognise adequately....

Men desire power, they desire satisfaction for their pride and their
self-respect. They desire victory over their rivals so profoundly that
they will invent a rivalry for the unconscious purpose of making a
victory possible. All these motives cut across the pure economic motive
in ways that are practically important.

There is need of a treatment of political motives by the methods of
psycho-analysis. In politics, as in private life, men invent myths to
rationalise their conduct. If a man thinks that the only reasonable
motive in politics is economic self-advancement, he will persuade
himself that the things he wishes to do will make him rich. When he
wants to fight the Germans, he tells himself that their competition is
ruining his trade. If, on the other hand, he is an 'idealist,' who holds
that his politics should aim at the advancement of the human race, he
will tell himself that the crimes of the Germans demand their
humiliation. The Marxian sees through this latter camouflage, but not
through the former.

[17] 'If the Englishman sells goods in Turkey or Argentina, he is taking
trade from the German, and if the German sells goods in either of these
countries--or any other country, come to that--he is taking trade from
the Englishman; and the well-being of every inhabitant of the great
manufacturing towns, such as London, Paris, or Berlin, is bound up in
the power of the capitalist to sell his wares; and the production of
manufactured articles has outstripped the natural increase of demand by
67 per cent., therefore new markets must be found for these wares or the
existing ones be "forced"; hence the rush for colonies and feverish
trade competition between the great manufacturing countries. And the
production of manufactured goods is still increasing, and the great
cities must sell their wares or starve. Now we understand what trade
rivalry really is. It resolves itself, in fact, into the struggle for
bread.' (A Rifleman: '_Struggle for Bread._' p. 54.)

[18] Mr J. M. Keynes, _The Economic Consequences of the Peace_, says: 'I
do not put the money value of the actual _physical_ loss to Belgian
property by destruction and loot above £150,000,000 as a _maximum_, and
while I hesitate to put yet lower an estimate which differs so widely
from those generally current, I shall be surprised if it proves possible
to substantiate claims even to this amount.... While the French claims
are immensely greater, here too, there has been excessive exaggeration,
as responsible French statisticians have themselves pointed out. Not
above 10 per cent. of the area of France was effectively occupied by the
enemy, and not above 4 per cent. lay within the area of substantial
devastation.... In short, it will be difficult to establish a bill
exceeding £500,000,000 for _physical and material_ damage in the
occupied and devastated areas of Northern France.' (pp. 114-117.)

[19] _The Foundations of International Policy_ pp. xxiii-xxiv.

It is true, of course, that Governments were for their armies and navies
and public departments considerable purchasers in the international
market. But the general truth of the distinction here made is
unaffected. The difference in degree, in this respect, between the
pre-war and post-war state in so great as to make a difference of kind.
The dominant motive for State action has been changed.

[20] See Addendum and also the authors' _War and the Workers_. (National
Labour Press). pp. 29-50.

[21] Note of May 22, 1919.

[22] Speech of September 5, 1919. From report in Philadelphia Public
Ledger, Sept 6.

[23] In German East Africa we have a case in which practically the whole
of the property in land was confiscated. The whole European population
were evicted from the farms and plantations--many, of course,
representing the labour of a lifetime--and deported. A visitor to the
colony describes it as an empty shell, its productivity enormously
reduced. In contradistinction, however, one welcomes General Smuts's
statement in the Union House of Assembly in regard to the Government's
intentions as to German property. He declared that the balance of nine
millions in the hands of the Custodian after claims for damages had been
recovered, would not be paid to the Reparations Commission, as this
would practically mean confiscation. The Government would take the nine
millions, plus interest, as a loan to South Africa for thirty years at
four per cent. While under the Peace Treaty they had the right to
confiscate all private property in South-West Africa, they did not
intend to avail themselves of those rights. They would leave private
property alone. As to the concessions, if the titles to these were
proved, they would also be left untouched. The statement of the South
African Government's intentions, which are the most generous of any
country in the world, was received with repeated cheers from all
sections of the House.

[24] Since the above lines were written the following important
announcement has appeared (according to _The Times_ of October 26th.,
1920.) in the _Board of Trade Journal_ of October 21st.:--

'H. M. Government have informed the German Government that they do not
intend to exercise their rights under paragraph 18 of Annex II to Part
VIII of the Treaty of Versailles, to seize the property of German
nationals in this country in case of voluntary default by Germany. This
applies to German property in the United Kingdom or under United Kingdom
control, whether in the form of bank balances, or in that of goods in
British bottoms, or of goods sent to this country for sale.

'It has already been announced that German property, rights, and
interests acquired since the publication of the General Licence
permitting the resumption of trade with Germany (i.e. since July 12th.,
1919), are not liable to retention under Art. 297 of the Peace Treaty,
which gives the Allied and Associated Powers the right to liquidate all
German property, rights, and interests within their territories at the
date of the coming into force of the Treaty.'

This announcement has called forth strong protests from France and from
some quarters in this country, to which the British Government has
rejoined by a semi-official statement that the concession has been made
solely on account of British commercial interests. The incident
illustrates the difficulty of waiving even permissive powers under the
Treaty, although the exercise of those powers would obviously injure
British traders. Moreover, the Reparations (Recovery) Act, passed in
March 1921, appears to be inconsistent with the above announcement.

[25] A point that seems to have been overlooked is the effect of this
Treaty on the arrangements which may follow changes in the political
status of, say, Egypt or India or Ireland. If some George Washington of
the future were to apply the principles of the Treaty to British
property, the effects might be far-reaching.

A _Quarterly Review_ critic (April 1920) says of these clauses of the
Treaty (particularly Article 297b.):--

'We are justified in regarding this policy with the utmost apprehension,
not only because of its injustice, but also because it is likely to form
precedents of a most mischievous character in the future. If, it will be
said, the Allied Governments ended their great war for justice and right
by confiscating private property and ruining those unfortunate
individuals who happened to have investments outside their own country,
how can private wealth at home complain if a Labour Government proposes
to confiscate private property in any business which it thinks suitable
for "nationalisation"? Under another provision the Reparations
Commission is actually allowed to demand the surrender of German
properties and German enterprises in _neutral_ countries. This will be
found in Article 235, which "introduces a quite novel principle in the
collection of indemnities."'

[26] See quotations in Addendum.

[27] Cmd. 280 (1919), p. 15.

[28] The dilemma is not, of course, as absolute, as this query would
suggest. What I am trying to make perfectly clear here is the _kind_ of
problem that faces us rather than the precise degree of its difficulty.
My own view is that after much suffering especially to the children, and
the reduction during a generation or two, perhaps, of the physical
standard of the race, the German population will find a way round the
sustenance difficulty. For one thing, France needs German coke quite as
badly as Germany needs French ore, and this common need may be made the
basis of a bargain. But though Germany may be able to surmount the
difficulties created for her by her victors, it is those difficulties
which will constitute her grievance, and will present precisely the
kind, if not the degree, of injustice here indicated.

[29] One very commonly sees the statement that France had no adequate
resources in iron ore before the War. This is an entire mistake, as the
Report of the Commission appointed by the Minister of Munitions to visit
Lorraine (issued July, 1919), points out (p. 11.):--'Before the War the
resources of Germany of iron ore were 3,600,000,000 tons and those of
France 3,300,000,000.' What gave Germany the advantage was the
possession not of greater ore resources than France, but of coal
suitable for furnace coke, and this superiority in coal will still
remain even after the Treaty, although the paralysis of transport and
other indispensable factors may render the superiority valueless. The
report just quoted says:--'It is true that Germany will want iron ore
from Lorraine (in 1913 she took 14,000,000 tons from Briey and
18,500,000 tons from Lorraine), but she will not be so entirely
dependent upon this one source of supply as the Lorraine works will be
upon Germany for coke, unless some means are provided to enable Lorraine
to obtain coke from elsewhere, or to produce her own needs from Saar
coal and imported coking coal.' The whole report seems to indicate that
the _mise en valeur_ of France's new 'property' depends upon supplies of
German coal--to say nothing of the needs of a German market and the
markets depending on that market. As it is, the Lorraine steel works are
producing nothing like their full output because of the inability of
Germany to supply furnace coke, owing largely to the Westphalian labour
troubles and transport disorganisation. Whether political passion will
so far subside as to enable the two countries to come to a bargain in
the matter of exchange of ore or basic pig-iron for furnace coke,
remains to be seen. In any case one may say that the ore-fields of
Lorraine will only be of value to France provided that much of their
product is returned to Germany and used for the purpose of giving value
to German coal.

[30] From the summary of a series of lectures on the _Biology of Death_,
as reported in the _Boston Herald_ of December 19th., 1920.

[31] A recent book on the subject, summing up the various
recommendations made in France up to 1918 for increasing the birth-rate
is _La Natalité: ses Lois Economiques et Psychologiques_, by Gaston

The present writer remembers being present ten years before the War at a
Conference at the Sorbonne on this subject. One of the lecturers
summarised all the various plans that had been tried to increase the
birth-rate. 'They have all failed,' he concluded, 'and I doubt if
anything remains to be done.' And one of the savants present added:
'Except to applaud.'

[32] Mr William Harbutt Dawson gives the figures as follows:--

'The decline in the birth-rate was found to have become a settled factor
in the population question.... The birth-rate for the whole Empire
reached the maximum figure in 1876, when it stood at 41.0 per 1000 of
the population.... Since 1876 the movement has been steadily downward,
with the slightest possible break at the beginning of the 'nineties....
Since 1900 the rate has decreased as follows:--

  1900      35.6 per 1000.
  1901      35.7 per   "
  1902      35.1 per   "
  1903      33.9 per   "
  1904      34.1 per 1000.
  1905      33.0 per   "
  1906      33.1 per   "

(_The Evolution of Modern Germany._ p. 309)

[33] Conversely it may be said that the economic position of the border
States becomes impossible unless the greater States are orderly. In
regard to Poland, Mr Keynes remarks: 'Unless her great neighbours are
prosperous and orderly, Poland is an economic impossibility, with no
industry but Jew-baiting.'

Sir William Goode (the British Director of Relief) states that he found
'everywhere never-ending vicious circles of political paradox and
economic complication, with consequent paralysis of national life and
industry. The new States of repartitioned Europe seem not only incapable
of maintaining their own economic life, but also either unable or
unwilling to help their neighbours.' (Cmd. 521 (1920), p. 6.)

[34] From a manifesto signed by a large number of American
intellectuals, business men, and Labour Leaders ('League of Free Nations
Association') on the eve of President Wilson's departure for Paris.

[35] Interview published by _Pearson's Magazine_, March, 1915.

[36] _Times_, March 8, 1915. 'Our honour and interest must have
compelled us to join France and Russia even if Germany had scrupulously
respected the rights of her small neighbours and had sought to hack her
way through the Eastern fortresses. The German Chancellor has insisted
more than once upon this truth. He has fancied apparently that he was
making an argumentative point against us by establishing it. That, like
so much more, only shows his complete misunderstanding of our attitude
and our character.... We reverted to our historical policy of the
Balance of Power.'

The _Times_ maintains the same position five years later (July 31st,
1920): 'It needed more than two years of actual warfare to render the
British people wholly conscious that they were fighting not a quixotic
fight for Belgium and France, but a desperate battle for their own

[37] _How the War Came_, p. 238.

[38] Lord Loreburn adds:--

'But Sir Edward Grey in 1914 did not and could not offer similar
Treaties to France and Germany because our relations with France and the
conduct of Germany were such, that for us to join Germany in any event
was unthinkable. And he did not proclaim our neutrality because our
relations with France, as described in his own speech, were such that he
could not in honour refuse to join France in the war. Therefore the
example of 1870 could not be followed in 1914, and Belgium was not saved
but destroyed.'

[39] See the Documents published by the Russian Government in November,

[40] It is not clear whether the undertaking to Russia was actually
given. Lord R. Cecil in the House of Commons on July 24th, 1917, said:
'It will be for this country to back up the French in what they desire.
I will not go through all the others of our Allies--there are a good
many of them--but the principle (to stand by our Allies) will be equally
there in the case of all and particularly in the case of Serbia.'

[41] Since these lines were written, there has been a change of
government and of policy in Italy. An agreement has been reached with
Yugo-Slavia, which appears to satisfy the moderate elements in both

[42] Lord Curzon (May 17th, 1920) wrote that he did not see how we could
invoke the League to restrain Poland. The Poles, he added, must choose
war or peace on their own responsibility. Mr Lloyd George (June 19th,
1920) declared that 'the League of Nations could not intervene in

[43] _The War that will End War_, p. 14.

[44] _Ibid._, p. 19.

[45] _The Issue_, p. 37-39.

[46] _Land and Water_, February 21st, 1918.

[47] Even as late as January 13th, 1920, Mr H. W. Wilson of the _Daily
Mail_ writes that if the disarmament of Germany is carried out 'the real
cause of swollen armaments in Europe will vanish.'

On May 18th, 1920, Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson (_Morning Post_, May
19th) declares himself thus:--

'We were told that after this last war we were to have peace. We have
not; there are something between twenty and thirty bloody wars going on
at the present moment. We were told that the great war was to end war.
It did not; it could not. We have a very difficult time ahead, whether
on the sea, in the air, or on the land.' He wanted them to take away the
warning from a fellow soldier that their country and their Empire both
wanted them to-day as much as ever they had, and if they were as proud
of belonging to the British Empire as he was they would do their best,
in whatever capacity they served, to qualify themselves for the times
that were coming.

[48] July 31st, 1920.

[49] April 19th, 1919.

[50] A Reuter Despatch dated August 31st, 1920, says:--

'Speaking to-day at Charleston (West Virginia) Mr Daniels, U. S. Naval
Secretary, said: "We are building enormous docks and are constructing 18
dreadnoughts and battle cruisers, with a dozen other powerful ships
which in effective fighting power will give our navy world primacy."'

[51] We are once more back to the Carlylean 'deep, patient ... virtuous
... Germany.'

[52] Sir Henry Wilson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, in a
memorandum dated December 1st, 1919, which appears in a Blue Book on
'the Evacuation of North Russia, 1919,' says:--'There is one great
lesson to be learned from the history of the campaign.... It is that
once a military force is involved in operations on land it is almost
impossible to limit the magnitude of its commitments.'

[53] And Russo-German co-operation is of course precisely what French
policy must create. Says an American critic:--

'France certainly carries a big stick, but she does not speak softly;
she takes her own part, but she seems to fear neither God nor the
revulsion of man. Yet she has reason to fear. Suppose she succeeds for a
while in reducing Germany to servitude and Russia to a dictatorship of
the Right, in securing her own dominion on the Continent as overlord by
the petty States of Europe. What then? What can be the consequence of a
common hostility of the Teutonic and Slavonic peoples, except in the end
common action on their part to throw off an intolerable yoke? The
nightmare of a militant Russo-German alliance becomes daily a more
sinister prophecy, as France teaches the people of Europe that force
alone is the solvent. France has only to convince all of Germany that
the Treaty of Versailles will be enforced in all its rigour, which means
occupation of the Ruhr and the loss of Silesia, to destroy the final
resistance of those Germans who look to the West rather than to the East
for salvation. Let it be known that the barrier of the Rhine is all
bayonet and threat, and western-minded Germany must go down before the
easterners, Communist or Junker. It will not matter greatly which.'
(_New Republic_, Sept. 15th, 1920).

[54] December 23rd, 1919.

[55] _The Times_ of September 4th, 1920 reproduces an article from the
Matin, on M. Millerand's policy with regard to small States. M.
Millerand's aim was that economic aid should go hand in hand with French
military protection. With this policy in view, a number of large
businesses recently passed under French control, including the Skoda
factory in Czecho-Slovakia, big works at Kattowitz in Upper Silesia, the
firm of Huta-Bankowa in Poland, railway factories in Rumania, and
certain river systems and ports in Yugo-Slavia. In return for assistance
to Admiral Horthy, an agreement was signed whereby France obtained
control of the Hungarian State Railways, of the Credit Bank, the
Hungarian river system and the port of Buda-pest. Other reports state
that France has secured 85 per cent. of the oil-fields of Poland, in
return for her help at the time of the threat to Warsaw. As the majority
of shares in the Polish Oil Company 'Galicia,' which have been in
British hands until recently, have been bought up by a French Company,
the 'Franco-Polonaise,' France now holds an important weapon of
international policy.

[56] The present writer would like to enter a warning here that nothing
in this chapter implies that we should disregard France's very
legitimate fears of a revived militarist Germany. The implication is
that she is going the right way about to create the very dangers that
terrify her. If this were the place to discuss alternative policies, I
should certainly go on to urge that England--and America--should make it
plain to France that they are prepared to pledge their power to her
defence. More than that, both countries should offer to forgo the debts
owing to them by France on condition of French adhesion to more workable
European arrangements. The last thing to be desired is a rupture, or a
mere change of rôles: France to become once more the 'enemy' and Germany
once more the 'Ally.' That outcome would merely duplicate the weary
story of the past.

[57] _The Expansion of England_, p. 202.

[58] The assumption marks even post-war rhetoric. M. Millerand's message
to the Senate and Chamber upon his election as President of the Republic
says: 'True to the Alliances for ever cemented by blood shed in common,'
France will strictly enforce the Treaty of Versailles, 'a new charter of
Europe and the World.' (_Times_, Sept. 27th, 1920). The passage is
typical of the moral fact dealt with in this chapter. M. Millerand
knows, his hearers know, that the war Alliance 'for ever cemented by
blood shed in common,' has already ceased to exist. But the admission of
this patent fact would be fatal to the 'blood' heroics.

[59] Dr L. P. Jacks, Editor of _The Hibbert Journal_, tells us that
before the War the English nation, regarded from the moral point of
view, was a scene of 'indescribable confusion; a moral chaos.' But there
has come to it 'the peace of mind that comes to every man who, after
tossing about among uncertainties, finds at last a mission, a cause to
which he can devote himself.' For this reason, he says, the War has
actually made the English people happier than they were before:
'brighter, more cheerful. The Englishman worries less about himself....
The tone and substance of conversation are better.... There is more
health in our souls and perhaps in our bodies.' And he tells how the War
cured a friend of insomnia. (_The Peacefulness of Being at War_, _New
Republic_, September 11, 1915).

[60] The facts of both the Russian and the Italian bargains are dealt
with in more detail in Chap. III.

[61] Quoted by Mr T. L. Stoddard in an article on Italian Nationalism,
in the _Forum_, Sept. 1915. One may hope that the outcome of the War has
modified the tendencies in Italy of which he treats. But the quotations
he makes from Italian Nationalist writers put Treitschke and Bernhardi
in the shade. Here are some. Corradini says: 'Italy must become once
more the first nation in the world.' Rocco: 'It is said that all the
other territories are occupied. But strong nations, or nations on the
path of progress, conquer.... territories occupied by nations in
decadence.' Luigi Villari rejoices that the cobwebs of mean-spirited
Pacifism have been swept away. Italians are beginning to feel, in
whatever part of the world they may happen to be, something of the pride
of Roman citizens.' Scipione Sighele writes: 'War must be loved for
itself.... To say "War is the most horrible of evils," to talk of war as
"an unhappy necessity," to declare that we should "never attack but
always know how to defend ourselves," to say these things is as
dangerous as to make out-and-out Pacifist and anti-militarist speeches.
It is creating for the future a conflict of duties: duties towards
humanity, duties towards the Fatherland.' Corradini explains the
programme of the Nationalists: 'All our efforts will tend towards making
the Italians a warlike race. We will give it a new will; we will instil
into it the appetite for power, the need of mighty hopes. We will create
a religion--the religion of the Fatherland victorious over the other

I am indebted to Mr Stoddard for the translations; but they read quite
'true to type.'

[62] It is true that the Labour Party, alone of all the parties, did
take action, happily effective, against the Russian adventure--after it
had gone on in intermittent form for two years. But the above paragraphs
refer particularly to the period which immediately succeeded the War,
and to a general temper which was unfortunately a fact despite Labour

[63] Mr Hartley Manners, the playwright, who produced during the War a
book entitled _Hate with a Will to Victory_, writes thus:--

'And in voicing our doctrine of Hate let us not forget that the German
people were, and are still, solidly behind him (the Kaiser) in
everything he does.' ...

'The German people are actively and passively with their Government to
the last man and the last mark. No people receive their faith and their
rules of conduct more fatuously from their rulers than do the German
people. Fronting the world they stand as one with their beloved Kaiser.
He who builds on a revolution in Germany as a possible ending of the
war, knows not what he says. They will follow through any degradation of
the body, through any torture of spirit, the tyrants they have been
taught from infancy to regard as their Supreme Masters of body and
soul.' ...

And here is his picture of 'the German':--

... 'a slave from birth, with no rights as a free man, owing allegiance
to a militaristic Government to whom he looks for his very life; crushed
by taxation to keep up the military machine; ill-nourished, ignorant,
prone to crime in greater measure than the peasants of any other
country--as the German statistics of crime show--a degraded peasant, a
wretched future, and a loathesome past--these are the inheritances to
which the German peasant is born. What type of nature can develop in
such conditions? But one--the _brute_. And the four years' commerce of
this War has shown the German from prince to peasant as offspring of the
one family--the _brute_ family.' ...

[64] The following--which appeared in _The Times_ of April 17, 1915--is
merely a type of at least thirty or forty similar reports published by
the German Army Headquarters: 'In yesterday's clear weather the airmen
were very active. Enemy airmen bombarded places behind our positions.
Freiburg was again visited, and several civilians, the majority being
children, were killed and wounded.' A few days later the Paris _Temps_
(April 22, 1915) reproduced the German accounts of French air-raids
where bombs were dropped on Kandern, Loerrach, Mulheim, Habsheim,
Wiesenthal, Tüblingen, Mannheim. These raids were carried out by squads
of airmen, and the bombs were thrown particularly at railway stations
and factories. Previous to this, British and French airmen had been
particularly active in Belgium, dropping bombs on Zeebrugge, Bruges,
Middlekirke, and other towns. One German official report tells how a
bomb fell on to a loaded street car, killing many women and children.
Another (dated September 7, 1915) contains the following: 'In the course
of an enemy aeroplane attack on Lichtervelde, north of Roulers in
Flanders, seven Belgian inhabitants were killed and two injured.' A
despatch from Zürich, dated Sept. 24, 1915, says: 'At yesterday's
meeting of the Stuttgart City Council, the Mayor and Councillors
protested vigorously against the recent French raid upon an undefended
city. Burgomaster Lautenschlager asserted that an enemy that attacked
harmless civilians was fighting a lost cause.'

[65] March 27th, 1919.

[66] In Drinkwater's play, _Abraham Lincoln_, the fire-eating wife of
the war-profiteer, who had been violently abusing an old Quaker lady, is
thus addressed by Lincoln:--

'I don't agree with her, but I honour her. She's wrong, but she is
noble. You've told me what you think. I don't agree with you, and I'm
ashamed of you and your like. You, who have sacrificed nothing babble
about destroying the South while other people conquer it. I accepted
this war with a sick heart, and I've a heart that's near to breaking
every day. I accepted it in the name of humanity, and just and merciful
dealing, and the hope of love and charity on earth. And you come to me,
talking of revenge and destruction, and malice, and enduring hate. These
gentle people are mistaken, but they are mistaken cleanly, and in a
great name. It is you that dishonour the cause for which we stand--it is
you who would make it a mean and little thing....'

[67] The official record of the Meeting of the Council of Ten on January
16, 1919, as furnished to the Foreign Relations Committee of the
American Senate, reports Mr Lloyd George as saying:--

'The mere idea of crushing Bolshevism by military force is pure

'The Russian blockade would be a "death cordon," condemning women and
children to starvation, a policy which, as humane people, those present
could not consider.'

[68] While attempting in this chapter to reveal the essential difference
of the two methods open to us, it is hardly necessary to say that in the
complexities and cross-currents of human society practical policy can
rarely be guided by a single absolute principle. Reference has been made
to the putting of the pooled force of the nations behind a principle or
law as the alternative of each attempting to use his own for enforcing
his own view. The writer does not suppose for an instant that it is
possible immediately to draw up a complete Federal Code of Law for
Europe, to create a well-defined European constitution and then raise a
European army to defend it, or body of police to enforce it. He is
probably the last person in the world likely to believe the political
ideas of the European capable of such an agile adaptation.

[69] Delivered at Portland, Maine, on March 28th, 1918; reported in _New
York Times_, March 29th.

[70] Bertrand Russell: _Principles of Social Reconstruction._

Mr. Trotter in _Instincts of the Herd in War and Peace_, says:--

'We see one instinct producing manifestations directly hostile to each
other--prompting to ever-advancing developments of altruism while it
necessarily leads to any new product of advance being attacked. It
shows, moreover ... that a gregarious species rapidly developing a
complex society can be saved from inextricable confusion only by the
appearance of reason and the application of it to life. (p. 46.)

... 'The conscious direction of man's destiny is plainly indicated by
Nature as the only mechanism by which the social life of so complex an
animal can be guaranteed against disaster and brought to yield its full
possibilities, (p. 162.)

... 'Such a directing intelligence or group of intelligences would take
into account before all things the biological character of man.... It
would discover when natural inclinations in man must be indulged, and
would make them respectable, what inclinations in him must be controlled
for the advantage of the species, and make them insignificant.' (p.

[71] The opening sentence of a five volume _History of the Peace
Conference of Paris_, edited by H. W. V. Temperley, and published under
the auspices of the Institute of International Affairs, is as follows:--

'The war was a conflict between the principles of freedom and of
autocracy, between the principles of moral influence and of material
force, of government by consent and of government by compulsion.'

[72] Foremost as examples stand out the claims of German Austria to
federate with Germany; the German population of the Southern Tyrol with
Austria; the Bohemian Germans with Austria; the Transylvanian Magyars
with Hungary; the Bulgarians of Macedonia, the Bulgarians of the
Dobrudja, and the Bulgarians of Western Thrace with Bulgaria; the Serbs
of the Serbian Banat with Yugo-Slavia; the Lithuanians and Ukrainians
for freedom from Polish dominion.

[73] We know now (see the interview with M. Paderewski in the _New York
World_) that we compelled Poland to remain at war when she wanted to
make peace. It has never been fully explained why the Prinkipo peace
policy urged by Mr Lloyd George as early as December 1918 was defeated,
and why instead we furnished munitions, tanks, aeroplanes, poison gas,
military missions and subsidies in turn to Koltchak, Denikin, Yudenitch,
Wrangel, and Poland. We prolonged the blockade--which in the early
phases forbade Germany that was starving to catch fish in the Baltic,
and stopped medicine and hospital supplies to the Russians--for fear,
apparently, of the very thing which might have helped to save Europe,
the economic co-operation of Russia and Central Europe.

[74] 'We have no quarrel with the German people. We have no feeling
towards them but one of sympathy and friendship. It was not upon their
impulse that their government acted in entering this war.' ... 'We are
glad ... to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world, and for the
liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included: for the rights
of nations great and small ... to choose their way of life.' (President
Wilson, Address to Congress, April 2nd, 1917).

[75] _The Economic Consequences of the Peace_, p. 211.

[76] See quotations from Sir A. Conan Doyle, later in this Chapter.

[77] See, e.g., the facts as to the repression of Socialism in America,
Chapter V.

[78] _The Atlantic Monthly_, November 1920.

[79] _Realities of War_, pp. 426-7, 441.

[80] Is it necessary to say that the present writer does not accept it?

[81] The argument is not invalidated in the least by sporadic instances
of liberal activity here--an isolated article or two. For iteration is
the essence of propaganda as an opinion forming factor.

[82] In an article in the _North American Review_, just before America's
entrance into the War, I attempted to indicate the danger by making one
character in an imaginary symposium say: 'One talks of "Wilson's
programme," "Wilson's policy." There will be only one programme and one
policy possible as soon as the first American soldier sets foot on
European soil: Victory. Bottomley and Maxse will be milk and water to
what we shall see America producing. We shall have a settlement so
monstrous that Germany will offer any price to Russia and Japan for
their future help.... America's part in the War will absorb about all
the attention and interest that busy people can give to public affairs.
They will forget about these international arrangements concerning the
sea, the League of Peace--the things for which the country entered the
War. In fact if Wilson so much as tries to remind them of the objects of
the War he will be accused of pro-Germanism, and you will have their
ginger Press demanding that the "old gang" be "combed out."'

[83] 'If we take the extremist possibility, and suppose a revolution in
Germany or in South Germany, and the replacement of the Hohenzollerns in
all or part of Germany by a Republic, then I am convinced that for
republican Germany there would be not simply forgiveness, but a warm
welcome back to the comity of nations. The French, British, Belgians,
and Italians, and every civilised force in Russia would tumble over one
another in their eager greeting of this return to sanity.' (_What is
coming?_ p. 198).

[84] See the memoranda published in _The Secrets of Crewe House_.

[85] Mr Keynes is not alone in declaring that the Treaty makes of our
armistice engagements a 'scrap of paper.' _The Round Table_, in an
article which aims at justifying the Treaty as a whole, says: 'Opinions
may differ as to the actual letter of the engagements which we made at
the Armistice, but the spirit of them is undoubtedly strained in some of
the detailed provisions of the peace. There is some honest ground for
the feeling manifested in Germany that the terms on which she laid down
her arms have not been observed in all respects.'

A very unwilling witness to our obligations is Mr Leo Maxse, who writes
(_National Review_, February, 1921):--

'Thanks to the American revelations we are in a better position to
appreciate the trickery and treachery of the pre-Armistice negotiations,
as well as the hideous imposture of the Paris Peace Conference, which,
we now learn for the first time, was governed by the self-denying
ordinance of the previous November, when, unbeknown to the countries
betrayed, the Fourteen Points had been inextricably woven into the
Armistice. Thus was John Bull effectively 'dished' of every farthing of
his war costs.'

As a fact, of course, the self-denying ordinance was not 'unbeknown to
the countries betrayed.' The Fourteen Points commitment was quite open;
the European Allies could have repudiated them, as, on one point,
Britain did.

[86] A quite considerable school, who presumably intend to be taken
seriously, would have us believe that the French Revolution, the Russian
Revolution, the English Trade Union Movement are all the work of a small
secret Jewish Club or Junta--their work, that is, in the sense that but
for them the Revolutions or Revolutionary movements would not have taken
place. These arguments are usually brought by 'intense nationalists' who
also believe that sentiments like nationalism are so deeply rooted that
mere ideas or theories can never alter them.

[87] An American playwright has indicated amusingly with what ingenuity
we can create a 'collectivity.' One of the characters in the play
applies for a chauffeur's job. A few questions reveal the fact that he
does not know anything about it. 'Why does he want to be a chauffeur?'
'Well, I'll tell you, boss. Last year I got knocked down by an
automobile and badly hurt. And I made up my mind that when I came out of
the hospital I'd get a bit of my own back. Get even by knocking over a
few guys, see?' A policy of 'reprisals,' in fact.

[88] December 26th, 1917.

[89] A thing which happens about once a week in the United States.

[90] October 16th, 1917.

[91] The amazing rapidity with which we can change sides and causes, and
the enemy become the Ally, and the Ally the enemy, in the course of a
few weeks, approaches the burlesque.

At the head of the Polish armies is Marshal Pilsudski, who fought under
Austro-German command, against Russia. His ally is the Ukrainian
adventurer, General Petlura, who first made a separate peace at
Brest-Litovsk, and contracted there to let the German armies into the
Ukraine, and to deliver up to them its stores of grain. These in May
1920 were the friends of the Allies. The Polish Finance Minister at the
time we were aiding Poland was Baron Bilinski, a gentleman who filled
the same post in the Austrian Cabinet which let loose the world war,
insisted hotly on the ultimatum to Serbia, helped to ruin the finances
of the Hapsburg dominions by war, and then after the collapse repeated
the same operation in Poland. On the other side the command has passed,
it is said, to the dashing General Brusiloff, who again and again saved
the Eastern front from Austrian and German offensives. He is now the
'enemy' and his opponents our 'Allies.' They are fighting to tear the
Ukraine, which means all South Russia, away from the Russian State. The
preceding year we spent millions to achieve the opposite result. The
French sent their troops to Odessa, and we gave our tanks to Denikin, in
order to enable him to recover this region for Imperial Russia.

[92] The Russian case is less evident. But only the moral inertia
following on a long war could have made our Russian record possible.

[93] He complained that I had 'publicly reproved him' for supporting
severity in warfare. He was mistaken. As he really did believe in the
effectiveness of terrorism, he did a very real service by standing
publicly for his conviction.

[94] Here is what the _Times_ of December 10th, 1870, has to say about
France and Germany respectively, and on the Alsace-Lorraine question:--

'We must say with all frankness that France has never shown herself so
senseless, so pitiful, so worthy of contempt and reprobation, as at the
present moment, when she obstinately declines to look facts in the face,
and refuses to accept the misfortune her own conduct has brought upon
her. A France broken up in utter anarchy, Ministers who have no
recognised chief, who rise from the dust in their air balloons, and who
carry with them for ballast shameful and manifest lies and proclamations
of victories that exist only in their imagination, a Government which is
sustained by lies and imposture, and chooses rather to continue and
increase the waste of lives than to resign its own dictatorship and its
wonderful Utopia of a republic; that is the spectacle which France
presents to-day. It is hard to say whether any nation ever before
burdened itself with such a load of shame. The quantity of lies which
France officially and unofficially has been manufacturing for us in the
full knowledge that they are lies, is something frightful and absolutely
unprecedented. Perhaps it is not much after all in comparison with the
immeasurable heaps of delusions and unconscious lies which have so long
been in circulation among the French. Their men of genius who are
recognised as such in all departments of literature are apparently of
opinion that France outshines other nations in a superhuman wisdom, that
she is the new Zion of the whole world, and that the literary
productions of the French, for the last fifty years, however insipid,
unhealthy, and often indeed devilish, contain a real gospel, rich in
blessing for all the children of men.

We believe that Bismarck will take as much of Alsace-Lorraine, too, as
he chooses, and that it will be the better for him, the better for us,
the better for all the world but France, and the better in the long run
for France herself. Through large and quiet measures, Count von Bismarck
is aiming with eminent ability at a single object; the well-being of
Germany and of the world, of the large-hearted, peace-loving,
enlightened, and honest people of Germany growing into one nation; and
if Germany becomes mistress of the Continent in place of France, which
is light-hearted, ambitious, quarrelsome, and over-excitable, it will be
the most momentous event of the present day, and all the world must hope
that it will soon come about.'

[95] We realise without difficulty that no society could be formed by
individuals each of whom had been taught to base his conduct on adages
such as these: 'Myself alone'; 'myself before anybody else'; 'my ego is
sacred'; 'myself over all'; 'myself right or wrong.' Yet those are the
slogans of Patriotism the world over and are regarded as noble and
inspiring, shouted with a moral and approving thrill.

[96] However mischievous some of the manifestations of Nationalism may
prove, the worst possible method of dealing with it is by the forcible
repression of any of its claims which can be granted with due regard to
the general interest. To give Nationalism full play, as far as possible,
is the best means of attenuating its worst features and preventing its
worst developments. This, after all, is the line of conduct which we
adopt to certain religious beliefs which we may regard as dangerous
superstitions. Although the belief may have dangers, the social dangers
involved in forcible repression would be greater still.

[97] _The Great Illusion_, p. 326

[98] 'The Pacifists lie when they tell us that the danger of war is
over.' General Leonard Wood.

[99] _The Science of Power_, p. 14.

[100] Ibid, p. 144.

[101] See quotations, Part I, Chapters I and III.

[102] The validity of this assumption still holds even though we take
the view that the defence of war as an inevitable struggle for bread is
merely a rationalisation (using that word in the technical sense of the
psychologists) of impulse or instinct, merely, that is, an attempt to
find a 'reason' for conduct the real explanation of which is the
subconscious promptings of pugnacities or hostilities, the craving of
our nature for certain kinds of action. If we could not justify our
behaviour in terms of self-preservation, it would stand so plainly
condemned ethically and socially that discipline of instinct--as in the
case of sex instinct--would obviously be called for and enforced. In
either case, the road to better behaviour is by a clearer revelation of
the social mischief of the predominant policy.

[103] Rear-Admiral A. T. Mahan: _Force in International Relations_.

[104] _The Interest of America in International Conditions_, by
Rear-Admiral A. T. Mahan, pp. 47-87.

[105] _Government and the War_, p. 62.

[106] _State Morality and a League of Nations_, pp 83-85.

[107] _North American Review_, March 1912.

[108] Admiral Mahan himself makes precisely this appeal:--

'That extension of national authority over alien communities, which is
the dominant note in the world politics of to-day, dignifies and
enlarges each State and each citizen that enters its fold.... Sentiment,
imagination, aspiration, the satisfaction of the rational and moral
faculties in some object better than bread alone, all must find a part
in a worthy motive. Like individuals, nations and empires have souls as
well as bodies. Great and beneficent achievement ministers to worthier
contentment than the filling of the pocket.'

[109] It is not necessary to enter exhaustively into the difficult
problem of 'natural right.' It suffices for the purpose of this argument
that the claim of others to life will certainly be made and that we can
only refuse it at a cost which diminishes our own chances of survival.

[110] See Mr Churchill's declaration, quoted Part I Chapter V.

[111] Mr J. L. Garvin, who was among those who bitterly criticised this
thesis on account of its 'sordidness,' now writes: 'Armageddon might
become almost as frequent as General Elections if belligerency were not
restrained by sheer dread of the consequences in an age of economic
interdependence when even victory has ceased to pay.'

(Quoted in _Westminster Gazette_, Jan. 24, 1921.)

[112] The introductory synopsis reads:--

What are the fundamental motives that explain the present rivalry of
armaments in Europe, notably the Anglo-German? Each nation pleads the
need for defence; but this implies that some one is likely to attack,
and has therefore a presumed interest in so doing. What are the motives
which each State thus fears its neighbours may obey?

They are based on the universal assumption that a nation, in order to
find outlets for expanding population and increasing industry, or simply
to ensure the best conditions possible for its people, is necessarily
pushed to territorial expansion and the exercise of political force
against others (German naval competition is assumed to be the expression
of the growing need of an expanding population for a larger place in the
world, a need which will find a realisation in the conquest of English
Colonies or trade, unless these were defended); it is assumed,
therefore, that a nation's relative prosperity is broadly determined by
its political power; that nations being competing units, advantage, in
the last resort, goes to the possessor of preponderant military force,
the weaker going to the wall, as in the other forms of the struggle for

The author challenges this whole doctrine.

[113] See chapters _The Psychological Case for Peace_, _Unchanging Human
Nature_, and _Is the Political Reformation Possible?_

'Not the facts, but men's opinions about the facts, is what matters.
Men's conduct is determined, not necessarily by the right conclusion
from facts, but the conclusion they believe to be right.'

In another pre-war book of the present writer (_The Foundations of
International Polity_) the same view is developed, particularly in the
passage which has been reproduced in Chapter VI of this book, 'The
Alternative Risks of Status and Contract.'

[114] The cessation of religious war indicates the greatest outstanding
fact in the history of civilised mankind during the last thousand years,
which is this: that all civilised Governments have abandoned their claim
to dictate the belief of their subjects. For very long that was a right
tenaciously held, and it was held on grounds for which there is an
immense deal to be said. It was held that as belief is an integral part
of conduct, that as conduct springs from belief, and the purpose of the
State is to ensure such conduct as will enable us to go about our
business in safety, it was obviously the duty of the State to protect
those beliefs, the abandonment of which seemed to undermine the
foundations of conduct. I do not believe that this case has ever been
completely answered.... Men of profound thought and profound learning
to-day defend it, and personally I have found it very difficult to make
a clear and simple case for the defence of the principle on which every
civilised Government in the world is to-day founded. How do you account
for this--that a principle which I do not believe one man in a million
could defend from all objections has become the dominating rule of
civilised government throughout the world?

'Well, that once universal policy has been abandoned, not because every
argument, or even perhaps most of the arguments, which led to it, have
been answered, but because the fundamental one has. The conception on
which it rested has been shown to be, not in every detail, but in the
essentials at least, an illusion, a _mis_conception.

'The world of religious wars and of the Inquisition was a world which
had a quite definite conception of the relation of authority to
religious belief and to truth--as that authority was the source of
truth; that truth could be, and should be, protected by force; that
Catholics who did not resent an insult offered to their faith (like the
failure of a Huguenot to salute a passing religious procession) were

'Now, what broke down this conception was a growing realisation that
authority, force, was irrelevant to the issues of truth (a party of
heretics triumphed by virtue of some physical accident, as that they
occupied a mountain region); that it was ineffective, and that the
essence of truth was something outside the scope of physical conflict.
As the realisation of this grew, the conflicts declined.'--_Foundations
of International Polity_, p. 214.

[115] An attempt is made, in _The Great Illusion_, to sketch the process
which lies behind the progressive substitution of bargain for coercion
(The Economic Interpretation of the History of Development 'From Status
to Contract') on pages 187-192, and further developed in a chapter 'the
Diminishing Factor of Physical Force' (p. 257).

[116] 'When we learn that London, instead of using its police for the
running in of burglars and "drunks," is using them to lead an attack on
Birmingham for the purpose of capturing that city as part of a policy of
"municipal expansion," or "Civic Imperialism," or "Pan-Londonism," or
what not; or is using its force to repel an attack by the Birmingham
police acting as the result of a similar policy on the part of the
Birmingham patriots--when that happens you can safely approximate a
police force to a European army. But until it does, it is quite evident
that the two--the army and the police force--have in reality
diametrically opposed roles. The police exist as an instrument of social
co-operation; the armies as the natural outcome of the quaint illusion
that though one city could never enrich itself by "capturing" or
"subjugating" another, in some wonderful (and unexplained) way one
country can enrich itself by capturing or subjugating another....

'France has benefited by the conquest of Algeria, England by that of
India, because in each case the arms were employed not, properly
speaking, for conquest, but for police purposes, for the establishment
and maintenance of order; and, so far as they filled that role, their
role was a useful one....

'Germany has no need to maintain order in England, nor England in
Germany, and the latent struggle, therefore, between these two countries
is futile....

'It is one of the humours of the whole Anglo-German conflict that so
much has the British public been concerned with the myths and bogeys of
the matter, that it seems calmly to have ignored the realities. While
even the wildest Pan-German does not cast his eyes in the direction of
Canada, he does cast them in the direction of Asia Minor; and the
political activities of Germany may centre on that area for precisely
the reasons which result from the distinction between policing and
conquest which I have drawn. German industry is coming to have a
dominating situation in the Near East, and as those interests--her
markets and investments--increase, the necessity for better order in,
and the better organisation of, such territories, increases in
corresponding degree. Germany may need to police Asia Minor.' (_The
Great Illusion_, pp. 131-2-3.)

[117] 'If a great country benefits every time it annexes a province, and
her people are the richer for the widened territory, the small nations
ought to be immeasurably poorer than the great; instead of which, by
every test which you like to apply--public credit, amounts in savings
banks, standard of living, social progress, general well-being--citizens
of small States are, other things being equal, as well off as, or better
off than, the citizens of great. The citizens of countries like Holland,
Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, are, by every possible test, just as
well off as the citizens of countries like Germany, Austria, or Russia.
These are the facts which are so much more potent than any theory. If it
were true that a country benefited by the acquisition of territory, and
widened territory meant general well-being, why do the facts so
eternally deny it? There is something wrong with the theory.' (_The
Great Illusion_, p. 44).

[118] See Chapters of _The Great Illusion_, _The State as a Person_, and
_A False Analogy and its Consequences_.

[119] In the synopsis of the book the point is put thus: 'If credit and
commercial contract are tampered with an attempt at confiscation, the
credit-dependent wealth is undermined, and its collapse involves that of
the conqueror; so that if conquest is not to be self-injurious it must
respect the enemy's property, in which case it becomes economically

[120] 'We need markets. What is a market? "A place where things are
sold." That is only half the truth. It is a place where things are
bought and sold, and one operation is impossible without the other, and
the notion that one nation can sell for ever and never buy is simply the
theory of perpetual motion applied to economics; and international trade
can no more be based upon perpetual motion than can engineering. As
between economically highly-organised nations a customer must also be a
competitor, a fact which bayonets cannot alter. To the extent to which
they destroy him as a competitor, they destroy him, speaking generally
and largely, as a customer.... This is the paradox, the futility of
conquest--the great illusion which the history of our own empire so well
illustrates. We "own" our empire by allowing its component parts to
develop themselves in their own way, and in view of their own ends, and
all the empires which have pursued any other policy have only ended by
impoverishing their own populations and falling to pieces.' (p. 75).

[121] See Part I, Chapter II.

[122] _Government and the War_, pp. 52-59.

[123] _The Political Theory of Mr Norman Angell_, by Professor A. D.
Lindsay, _The Political Quarterly_, December 1914.

[124] In order that the reader may grasp more clearly Mr Lindsay's
point, here are some longer passages in which he elaborates it:--

'If all nations really recognised the truth of Mr Angell's arguments,
that they all had common interests which war destroyed, and that
therefore war was an evil for victors as well as for vanquished, the
European situation would be less dangerous, but were every one in the
world as wisely concerned with their own interests as Mr Angell would
have men to be, if they were nevertheless bound by no political ties,
the situation would be infinitely more dangerous than it is. For
unchecked competition, as Hobbes showed long ago, leads straight to war
however rational men are. The only escape from its dangers is by
submitting it to some political control. And for that reason the growth
of economic relations at the expense of political, which Mr Angell
heralds with such enthusiasm, is the greatest peril of modern times.

'If men are to avoid the danger that, in competing with one another in
the small but immediate matters where their interests diverge, they may
overreach themselves and bring about their mutual ruin, two things are
essential, one moral or emotional, the other practical. It is not enough
that men should recognise that what they do affects other men, and vice
versa. They must care for how their actions affect other men, not only
for how they may react on themselves. They must, that is, love their
neighbours. They must further agree with one another in caring for
certain ways of action quite irrespective of how such ways of action
affect their personal interests. They must, that is, be not only
economic but moral men. Secondly, recognising that the range of their
personal sympathies with other men is more restricted than their
interdependence, and that in the excitement of competition all else is
apt to be neglected, they must depute certain persons to stand out of
the competitive struggle and look after just those vital common
interests and greater issues which the contending parties are apt to
neglect. These men will represent the common interests of all, their
common ideals and their mutual sympathies; they will give to men's
concern for these common ends a focus which will enable them to resist
the pull of divergent interests and round their actions will gather the
authority which these common ends inspire....

' ... Such propositions are of course elementary. It is, however,
important to observe that economic relations are in this most
distinguished from political relations, that men can enter into economic
relations without having any real purpose in common. For the money which
they gain by their co-operation may represent power to carry out the
most diverse and conflicting purposes....

' ... Politics implies mutual confidence and respect and a certain
measure of agreement in ideals. The consequence is that co-operation for
economic is infinitely easier than for political purposes and spreads
much more rapidly. Hence it easily overruns any political boundaries,
and by doing so has produced the modern situation which Mr Angell has

[125] I have in mind, of course, the writings of Cole, Laski, Figgis,
and Webb. In _A Constitution for the Socialist Commonwealth of Great
Britain_, Mr Webb writes:--

'Whilst metaphysical philosophers had been debating what was the nature
of the State--by which they always meant the sovereign Political
State--the sovereignty, and even the moral authority of the State
itself, in the sense of the political government, were being silently
and almost unwittingly undermined by the growth of new forms of
Democracy.' (p. xv.)

In _Social Theory_, Mr Cole, speaking of the necessary co-ordination of
the new forms of association, writes:--

'To entrust the State with the function of co-ordination would be to
entrust it in many cases with the task of arbitrating between itself and
some other functional association, say a church or a trade union.' There
must be a co-ordinating body, but it 'must be not any single
association, but a combination of associations, a federal body in which
some or all of the various functional associations are linked together.'
(pp. 101 and 134.) A reviewer summarises Mr Cole as saying: 'I do not
want any single supreme authority. It is the sovereignty of the State
that I object to, as fatal to liberty. For single sovereignty I
substitute a federal union of functions, and I see the guarantee of
personal freedom in the severalty which prevents any one of them from
undue encroachments.'

[126] The British Treasury has issued statements showing that the French
people at the end of last year were paying £2. 7s., and the British
people £15. 3s. per head in direct taxation. The French tax is
calculated at 3.5. per cent. on large incomes, whereas similar incomes
in Great Britain would pay at least 25 per cent. This does not mean that
the burden of taxes on the poor in France is small. Both the working and
middle classes have been very hard hit by indirect taxes and by the rise
in prices, which is greater in France than in England.

The point is that in France the taxation is mainly indirect, this
falling most heavily upon the poor; while in England it is much more
largely direct.

The French consumers are much more heavily taxed than the British, but
the protective taxes of France bring in comparatively little revenue,
while they raise the price of living and force the French Government and
the French local authorities to spend larger and larger amounts on
salaries and wages.

The Budget for the year 1920 is made the occasion for an illuminating
review of France's financial position by the reporter of the Finance
Commission, M. Paul Doumar.

The expenditure due to the War until the present date amounts roughly to
233,000 million francs (equivalent, at the normal rate of exchange, to
£9,320,000,000) whereof the sum of 43,000 million francs has been met
out of revenue, leaving a deficit of 190 billions.

This huge sum has been borrowed in various ways--26 billions from the
Bank of France, 35 billions from abroad, 46 billions in Treasury notes,
and 72 billions in regular loans. The total public debt on July 1 is put
at 233,729 millions, reckoning foreign loans on the basis of exchange at

M. Doumer declares that so long as this debt weighs on the State, the
financial situation must remain precarious and its credit mediocre.

[127] January, 1921.

[128] An authorised interview published by the daily papers of January
28th, 1921.

M. Briand, the French Premier, in explaining what he and Mr Lloyd George
arranged at Paris to the Chamber and Senate on February 3rd, remarked:--

'We must not lose sight of the fact that in order to pay us Germany must
every year create wealth abroad for herself by developing her exports
and reducing her imports to strictly necessary things. She can only do
that to the detriment of the commerce and industry of the Allies. That
is a strange and regrettable consequence of facts. The placing of an
annuity on her exports, payable in foreign values, will, however,
correct as much as possible this paradoxical situation.'

[129] Version appearing in the _Times_ of January 28th, 1921.

[130] _The Manchester Guardian_, Jan 31st, 1921.

[131] Mr John Foster Dulles, who was a member of the American delegation
at the Peace Conference, has, in an article in _The New Republic_ for
March 30th, 1921, outlined the facts concerning the problem of payment
more completely than I have yet seen it done. The facts he reveals
constitute a complete and overwhelming vindication of the case as stated
in the first edition of _The Great Illusion_.

[132] As the Lorraine ores are of a kind that demand much less than
their own weight of coal for smelting, it is more economic to bring the
coal to the ore than vice versa. It was for political and military
reasons that the German State encouraged the placing of some of the
great furnaces on the right instead of the left bank of the Rhine.

[133] It is worth while to recall here a passage from _The Economic
Consequences of the Peace_, by Mr J. M. Keynes, quoted in Chapter I. of
this book.

[134] There is one aspect of the possible success of France which is
certainly worth consideration. France has now in her possession the
greatest iron ore fields in Europe. Assume that she is so far successful
in her policy of military coercion that she succeeds in securing vast
quantities of coal and coke for nothing. French industry then secures a
very marked advantage--and an artificial and 'uneconomic' one--over
British industry, in the conversion of raw materials into finished
products. The present export by France of coal which she gets for
nothing to Dutch and other markets heretofore supplied by Britain might
be followed by the 'dumping' of steel and iron products on terms which
British industry could not meet. This, of course, is on the hypothesis
of success in obtaining 'coal for nothing,' which the present writer
regards as extremely unlikely for the reasons here given. But it should
be noted that the failure of French effort in this matter will be from
causes just as disastrous for British prosperity as French success would

[135] See Part I, Chapter I.

[136] _English Review_, January 1913.

Lord Roberts, in his 'Message to the Nation,' declared that Germany's
refusal to accept the world's _status quo_ was 'as statesmanlike as it
is unanswerable.' He said further:--

'How was this Empire of Britain founded? War founded this Empire--war
and conquest! When we, therefore, masters by war of one-third of the
habitable globe, when _we_ propose to Germany to disarm, to curtail her
navy or diminish her army, Germany naturally refuses; and pointing, not
without justice, to the road by which England, sword in hand, has
climbed to her unmatched eminence, declares openly, or in the veiled
language of diplomacy, that by the same path, if by no other, Germany is
determined also to ascend! Who amongst us, knowing the past of this
nation, and the past of all nations and cities that have ever added the
lustre of their name to human annals, can accuse Germany or regard the
utterance of one of her greatest a year and a half ago, (or of General
Bernhardi three months ago) with any feelings except those of respect?'
(pp. 8-9.)

[137] Lord Loreburn says: 'The whole train of causes which brought about
the tragedy of August 1914 would have been dissolved by a Russian
revolution.... We could have come to terms with Germany as regards Asia
Minor: Nor could the Alsace-Lorraine difficulty have produced trouble.
No one will pretend that France would have been aggressive when deprived
of Russian support considering that she was devoted to peace even when
she had that support. Had the Russian revolution come, war would not
have come.' (_How the War Came_, p. 278.)

[138] Mr Walter Lippmann did tackle the problem in much the way I have
in mind in _The Stakes of Diplomacy_. That book is critical of my own
point of view. But if books like that had been directed at _The Great
Illusion_, we might have made headway. As it is, of course, Mr
Lippmann's book has been useful in suggesting most that is good in the
mandate system of the League of Nations.

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

wth Great Britain=> with Great Britain {pg xvii}

his colleages=> his colleagues {pg 38}

retore devastated districts=> restore devastated districts {pg 39}

aquiescence=> acquiescence {pg 45}

indispensible=> indispensable {pg 46}

the Lorrarine work=> the Lorraine work {pg 86}

rcently passed=> recently passed {pg 135}

Allied aerodomes on the Rhine=> Allied aerodromes on the Rhine {pg 163}

the sublest=> the subtlest {pg 239}

the enemy's propetry=> the enemy's property {pg 294}

a monoply=> a monopoly {pg 299}

goverments=> governments {pg 299}

econmic=> economic {pg 303}

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