Democratic Ideals and Reality: A Study in the Politics of Reconstruction/Chapter 6
VITHE FREEDOM OF NATIONS
The Allies have won the War. But how have we won? The process is full of warning. We were saved, in the first place, by the readiness of the British Fleet, and by the decision which sent it to sea; so British communications with France were secured. That readiness and decision were the outcome of the British habit of looking to the one thing essential in the midst of many things that we leave slipshod; it is the way of the capable amateur. We were saved, in the second place, by the wonderful victory of French genius on the Marne, prepared for by many years of deep thought in the great French École Militaire; in other respects the French Army was not as ready as it might have been, except in courage. We were saved in the third place by the sacrifice—it was no less—of the old British professional army at Ypres, a name that will stand in history beside Thermopylae. We were saved, in short, by exceptional genius and exceptional heroism from the results of an average refusal to foresee and prepare: eloquent testimony both to the strength and the weakness of democracy.
Then for two years the fighting was stabilised, and became a war of trenches on land and of submarines at sea, a war of attrition in which time told in favour of Britain but against Russia. In 1917 Russia cracked and then broke. Germany had conquered in the East, but postponed the utter subjection of the Slavs in order first to strike down her Western foes. West Europe had to call in the help of America, for West Europe alone would not have been able to reverse the decision in the East. Again time was needed, because America, the third of the greater democracies to go to war, was even less prepared than the other two. And time was bought by the heroism of British seamen, the sacrifice of British merchant shipping, and the endurance of the French and British soldiers against an offensive in France which all but overwhelmed them. In short, we once more pitted character and a right insight into essentials against German organisation, and we just managed to win. At the eleventh hour Britain accepted the principle of the single strategical command, giving scope once more to the École Militaire.
But this whole record of Western and Oceanic fighting, so splendid and yet so humiliating, has very little direct bearing on the International Resettlement. There was no immediate quarrel between East Europe and West Europe; the time was past when France would have attacked Germany to recover Alsace and Lorraine. The War, let us never forget, began as a German effort to subdue the Slavs who were in revolt against Berlin. We all know that the murder of the Austrian (German) Archduke in Slav Bosnia was the pretext, and that the Austrian (German) ultimatum to Slav Serbia was the method of forcing the War. But it cannot be too often repeated that these events were the result of a fundamental antagonism between the Germans, who wished to be Masters in East Europe, and the Slavs, who refused to submit to them. Had Germany elected to stand on the defensive on her short frontier towards France, and had she thrown her main strength against Russia, it is not improbable that the world would be nominally at peace to-day, but overshadowed by a German East Europe in command of all the Heartland. The British and American insular peoples would not have realised the strategical danger until too late.
Unless you would lay up trouble for the future, you cannot now accept any outcome of the War which does not finally dispose of the issue between German and Slav in East Europe. You must have a balance as between German and Slav, and true independence of each. You cannot afford to leave such a condition of affairs in East Europe and the Heartland, as would offer scope for ambition in the future, for you have escaped too narrowly from the recent danger.
A victorious Roman general, when he entered the City, amid all head-turning splendour of a 'Triumph,' had behind him on the chariot a slave who whispered into his ear that he was mortal. When our Statesmen are in conversation with the defeated enemy, some airy cherub should whisper to them from time to time this saying:
Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland:
Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island:
Who rules the World-Island commands the World.
Viscount Grey once attributed the whole tragic course of recent events to the breach of the public law of Europe when Austria tore up the Treaty of Berlin by annexing Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908. Undoubtedly that was a milestone in history, but the original occupation of these two Slav provinces of Turkey by Austria in 1878, under that very Berlin Treaty, was perhaps nearer to the source. It meant to the Slav mind notice that the Prussian German stood behind the Austrian German in his advance over the country for which the Slav had fought with the Turk, for the War of 1876, it must be remembered, which led up to the Congress of Berlin, began with a rising of the Slavs of Bosnia and Herzegovina against Turkey, and became European because of the sympathy of the neighbouring Slavs of Serbia and Montenegro, which impelled them also to fight against the Turk. After 1878 there followed a few years of Russian hesitancy while Germany was beginning to build up her man-power. Then, in 1895, came the Alliance between the Czardom and the French Republic. France needed an Ally because of the still open Alsatian wound in her side; Russia needed an Ally because of the German bully by her side. Russia and France were not immediate neighbours, so that the incompatibihty of Democracy and Autocracy was not under the circumstances an impediment sufficient to forbid the marriage. But it was none the less some measure of the need in which Russia stood.
In 1905, when Russia was weak after the Japanese War and her first revolution, Germany imposed upon her a punishing Tariff. In 1907 Russia went so far, in consequence, as to accept an understanding even with Britain, her rival of two generations and the ally of her late enemy, Japan. Again we have evidence of the stress that was on her, especially if we remember the German influences in her Court and Bureaucracy.
When, therefore, in 1908, Austria took that further action in regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina to which Viscount Grey attached such importance, she dealt a blow where there were already bruises. The little neighbour Serbia protested, and the big sister Russia supported her, for it meant the definite closing of the door to the historic aspirations of Serbian nationality, proudly held ever since the great defeat of Kossovo in the fourteenth century. But the Kaiser of Berlin put on his 'shining armour' at Vienna, and shook his 'mailed fist' in the face of the Czar at Petrograd. A few more uncomfortable years, and then, in 1912, came the First Balkan War, when the united Balkan Slavs overthrew the German-trained Turkish Army. In 1913 the Bulgarian Slavs, instead of submitting the dispute in regard to the division of the territory taken from Turkey to the arbitration of the Czar, as had been provided by the Treaty of the Balkan Alliance, were persuaded by German intrigue to attack the Serbian Slavs. The Second Balkan War ensued, in which the Bulgarians were defeated owing to the intervention of the Rumanians, and the Treaty of Bucharest registered a severe check to German ambition, and gave new hope to the subject Slavs of Austria.
The very remarkable report sent from Berlin to Paris, three months after the Treaty of Bucharest, by M. Jules Cambon, the French Ambassador, makes it clear that Germany had then decided to obtain by her own sword, whenever an opportunity could be made, the position which she had failed to win vicariously. Accumulating evidence goes to show that within a week of the murder of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Germany had decided to seize that pretext in order to force the issue. Austria sought to impose such terms of punishment on Serbia for her assumed complicity in the murder as no free nation could accept, and when Serbia had gone to the utmost limit of concession, and even Austria hesitated, Germany hastened to fasten her quarrel on Russia, the ultimate reserve of all Slavdom. Had Russia submitted, as in 1908, she would have gone into the question of the renewal of the Tariff Treaty with Germany in 1916 with no option but a surrender into economic slavery. All this is a familiar story, but it is necessary to keep it clearly in mind, if we are to appreciate the fact that the key to the resettlement is in the East, though the decisive fighting has been in the West.
How came it that Germany made the double mistake of invading France and of invading her through Belgium? Germany knew the weakness of Russia; there was no illusion of the 'steam roller' for her. Her choice of the more difficult offensive must have been on the assumption that the British democracy probably, and the American democracy certainly, were, from her point of view, asleep. She meant the German superman to rule the world, and she thought she saw a short cut to her end, in the place of the longer path through the Heartland, the command of which would fall to her inevitably, could she but deprive the Islanders of their 'bridge-head' in France. But there was another and even stronger reason for what she did; she was in the grip of economic fate. She was out against the Slavs for markets, for raw materials, and for wider fields to till; a million people were being added annually to her stay-at-home, kept-at-home family. But to develop that mighty Going Concern of her man-power, so strong for conquest if she could keep it going, but so insatiably hungry, she had built up Hamburg, and all that Hamburg stood for in the way of overseas adventure and home industries. Hamburg had her own momentum, and it was not eastward. Thus German strategy was biased by political necessity.The result was that Berlin committed a fundamental mistake; she fought on two fronts without fully making up her mind on which front she meant to win. You may strike at the two flanks of your enemy, the right and the left, but unless your force is sufficient to annihilate you must decide beforehand which stroke is to be the feint and which the real attack. Berlin had not decided between her political objectives—Hamburg and overseas dominion or Baghdad and the Heartland—and therefore her strategical aim also was uncertain. The German blunder, under compelling destiny, having given us Victory, it is essential that we should focus our thought on the stable resettlement of the affairs of East Europe and the Heartland. If we accept anything less than a complete solution of the Eastern Question in its largest sense we shall merely have gained a respite, and our descendants will find themselves under the necessity of marshalling their power afresh for the siege of the Heartland. The essence of the resettlement must be territorial, for in East Europe, and in still greater measure in the remainder of the Heartland, we have to deal with regions whose economic development has only commenced. Unless you look forward, the growth of the peoples will by and by imbalance your settlement.
No doubt it may be urged that German mentality will be altered by the German defeat. He would be a sanguine man, however, who would trust the future peace of the world to a change in the mentality of any nation. Look back to old Froissard or to Shakespeare, and you will find your Englishman, Scotsman, Welshman, and Frenchman with all their essential characteristics already fixed. The Prussian is a definite type of humanity with his good and his bad points, and we shall be wise if we act on the assumption that his kind will breed true to its type. However great the defeat which in the end we may have inflicted on our chief enemy, we should only be cheapening our own achievement if we did not recognise in the North German one of the three or four most virile races of mankind.
Even with revolution in Germany let us not be toe sure in regard to its ultimate effect. The German revolutions of 1848 were almost comic in their futility. Since Bismarck there has only been one German Chancellor with political insight, and he—Von Bülow—has declared in his book on Imperial Germany that 'the German has always accomplished his greatest works under strong, steady, and firm guidance.' The end of the present disorder may only be a new ruthless organisation, and ruthless organisers do not stop when they have attained the objects which they at first set before them.
It will be replied, of course, that though Prussian mentality remain unchanged, and though a really stable Prussian Democracy be slow in its development, yet that Germany will, in any case, be so impoverished that she cannot do harm for the better part of a century to come. Is there not, however, in that idea a misreading of the real nature of riches and poverty under modern conditions? Is it not productive power which now counts rather than dead wealth? Shall we cot all of us—and now in some degree even the Americans also—have spent our dead capital, and shall we not all of us, the Germans included, be starting again in the productive race practically from scratch? The world was astonished at the rapidity with which France recovered from her disaster of 1870, but the power of industrial production was as nothing then to what it is now. Sober calculation in regard to Britain leads to the conclusion that her increased productive power owing to reorganisation and new methods compelled by the War, should far exceed the interest and sinking fund even of her vast War debts. No doubt you have the Paris Resolutions, and can deny to a refractory Germany the raw materials wherewith to compete with you. If you resort to that method, however, you postpone your League of Nations, and you remain a League of Allies. Are you certain, moreover, that you would win in an economic war? You might undoubtedly handicap Germany, but a handicap may only lead to greater effort. Did not Napoleon limit the Prussian Army after Jena to 42,000 men with the colours, and was not the Prussian effort to circumvent his prohibition the origin of the whole modern system of short-service national armies? Economic war, with Germany exploiting the Slavs, and presently the Heartland, would in the long run merely serve to emphasise the distinction between the Continent and the Islands, and between land-power and sea-power, and no one who contemplates the unity of the Great Continent under modern railway conditions can view unconcernedly either the preparation for the World-War which would be inevitable, or the ultimate result of that War.
We, the Western nations, have incurred such tremendous sacrifices in this conflict that we cannot afford to trust to anything that may happen at Berlin; we must be secure in any case. In other words, we must settle this question between the Germans and Slavs, and we must see to it that East Europe, like West Europe, is divided into self-contained nations. If we do that, we shall not only reduce the German people to its proper position in the world, a great enough position for any single people, but we shall also have created the conditions precedent to a League of Nations.
You plead that if we inflict a decisive peace we shall leave such bitter feelings that no workable League of Nations can ensue. You have in mind, of course, the results of the annexation of Alsace in 1871. But the lessons of History are not to be learned from a single instance. The great American Civil War was fought to a finish, and to-day the Southerners are as loyal to the Union as are the Northerners; the two questions of Negro slavery and of the right of particular States to secede from the Federation were finally decided, and ceased to be the causes of quarrel. The Boer War was fought to a finish, and to-day General Smuts is an honoured member of the British Cabinet. The War of 1866, between Prussia and Austria, was fought to a finish, and within a dozen years Austria had formed the Dual Alliance with Prussia. If you do not now secure the full results of your victory and close this issue between the German and the Slav, you will leave ill-feeling which will not be based on the fading memory of a defeat, but on the daily irritation of millions of proud people.
The condition of stability in the territorial rearrangement of East Europe is that the division should be into three and not into two State-systems. It is a vital necessity that there should be a tier of independent States between Germany and Russia. The Russians are, and for one, if not two, generations must remain, hopelessly incapable of resisting German penetration on any basis but that of a military autocracy, unless they be shielded from direct attack. The Russian peasantry cannot read; they have obtained the only reward they looked for when they sided with the revolutionaries of the towns, and now as small proprietors they hardly know how to manage their own country-sides. The middle class have so suffered that they were ready to accept order even from the hated Germans. As for the workmen of the towns, only a small minority of the Russian population, but because of their relative education and of their command of the centres of communication the rulers to-day of the country, Kultur knows well how to 'influence' them. In the opinion of those who know Russia best, autocratic rule of some sort is almost inevitable if she is to depend on her own strength to cope with the Germans.
The Slav and kindred nations which inhabit the borderland between the Germans and the Russians are, however, of a very different calibre. Consider the Czechs: have they not stood proof against Bolshevism and asserted their capacity of nationhood under amazing conditions in Russia? Have they not shown the most extraordinary political capacity in creating anew and maintaining Slav Bohemia, though beset on three sides by Germany and on the fourth side by Hungary? Have they not also made Bohemia a hive of modern industry and a seat of modern learning? They, at any rate, will not lack the will to order and to independence.Between the Baltic and the Mediterranean you have these seven non-German peoples, each on the scale of a European State of the second rank—the Poles, the Bohemians (Czechs and Slovaks), the Hungarians (Magyars), the South Slavs (Serbians, Croatians, and Slovenes), the Rumanians, the Bulgarians, and the Greeks. Of these, two are among our present enemies—the Magyars and the Bulgarians. But the Magyars and
Let us count over these seven peoples. First we have the Poles, some 20 million of them, with the river Vistula for their arterial water-way, and the historic cities of Cracow and Warsaw. The Poles are a more generally civilised people than the Russians, even in that part of Poland which has been tied to Russia; in the Prussian province of Posen they have enjoyed the advantages of Kultur, without some of the debasement which Kultur brought to the master German. Undoubtedly there are strong currents of party among the Poles, but now that the Polish aristocracy of Galicia is no longer bribed to the support of the Hapsburg throne by leave to oppress the Ruthenia of East Galicia, at least one motive of party, one vested interest, should have disappeared.
By some means the new Poland must be given access to the Baltic Sea, not only because that is essential to her economic independence, but also because it is desirable to have Polish ships on the Baltic, which strategically is a closed sea of the Heartland, and, further, there must be a complete territorial buffer between Germany and Russia. Unfortunately the province of East Prussia, mainly German by speech and Junker by sentiment, would be detached from Germany by any strip of Poland going down to the sea. Why should we not contemplate an exchange of peoples as between Prussia east of the Vistula, and Polish Posen? During this War we have undertaken much vaster things, both in the way of mere transport and also of organisation. In the past, in order to deal with such difficulties, diplomatists have resorted to all manner of 'servitudes' as the land lawyers would say. But rights-of-way over other people's property usually become inconvenient and lead to disputes. Would it not pay Humanity to bear the cost of a radical remedy in this case, a remedy made just and even generous towards individuals in every respect? Each proprietor should be given the option of exchanging his property and retaining his nationality or of retaining his property and changing his nationality. But if he selects the latter alternative there must be no reservation of special rights in respect of schools and other social privileges. The United States in her schools sternly imposes the English language on all her immigrants. Because the conquerors of old time did their work ruthlessly, countries like France and England are to-day homogeneous and free from that mixture of races which has made the Near East a plague to humanity. Why should we not use our modern powers of transport and organisation to achieve the same happy condition of affairs—justly and generously. The reasons for doing so in this particular instance are far reaching; a Polish Posen would bite a very threatening bay into the Eastern frontier of Germany, and a German East Prussia would be a stepping-stone for German penetration into Russia.
Next among our 'Border' peoples are the Czechs and Slovaks, until recently severed by the line dividing Austria from Hungary, as the Poles were severed by the frontiers between Russia, Prussia, and Austria. The Czechs and Slovaks together number perhaps nine millions; they will make one of the most virile little peoples in Europe, and they are equipped with a remarkable country, offering coal, metals, timber, water-power, corn, and wine, and centred on the main line of railway from the Baltic and Warsaw to Vienna and the Adriatic.
Then we come to the South Slavs—Jugo means South — in their three tribes of Slovenes, Croatians, and Serbs. They number about twelve millions. They also have been sundered by the line between Austria and Hungary; moreover, they are of the rival Latin and Greek Churches. For any one who knows the Balkans, it is eloquent testimony indeed to the effect of Austro-Hungarian tyranny that the Roman Catholic Slovenes and Croatians should have made the pact of Corfu with the Greek Orthodox Serbs. The South Slavs will have access to Dalmatian ports on the Adriatic, and one of the trunk railways of the world will run down the Save Valley to Belgrade, and then through the Morava and Maritza 'Corridor' to Constantinople.
Rumania is the next State of this middle east of Europe. The natural focus of Rumania is the great Transylvanian bastion of the Carpathians, with fruitful valleys, metalliferous mountains, oil wells, and splendid forests. The Transylvanian peasantry is Rumanian, but a 'privileged' minority of Magyars and 'Saxons' have been the rulers. Here again it should be no quite impossible feat of statesmanship to arrange for an equitable exchange of homes, or a full acceptance of Rumanian Nationality, though it must be admitted that the hostility between Saxon and Ruman is not so acute as that between Prussian and Pole.
The rest of Rumania, the present kingdom, is the glacis, eastward and southward, of Transylvania, watered by the Transylvanian rivers. This fertile glacis is one of the chief sources in Europe of oil, wheat, and maize; the twelve million Rumanians will be a rich people. At Galatz, Braila, and Constanza they have ports on the Black Sea, and it will be a prime interest of all free peoples that there should be Rumanian ships on that sea, for it is naturally a closed water of the Heartland. The time will never come when the League of Nations will be able to regard the Baltic and Black Seas without concern, for the Heartland offers the basis of an all-powerful militarism. Civilisation consists in the control of nature and of ourselves, and the League of Nations, as the supreme organ of united humanity, must closely watch the Heartland and its possible organisers, for the same reason that the control of the police in London and Paris is regarded as a national and not merely a municipal concern.
The Greeks were the first of our seven peoples of the Middle Tier to achieve their emancipation from German control in this War for the simple reason that they are outside the Heartland and therefore accessible to sea-power. But in these days of submarines and aeroplanes, the possession of Greece by a great Heartland power would probably carry with it the control of the World-Island; the Macedonian history would be re-enacted.
Now as to the Magyars and Bulgarians. The truth is that both of them were exploited by, although not subject to, the Prussians. Every one who knows Budapest is aware of the deeply alien feeling of the Magyars towards the Germans; the recent alliance was strictly one of convenience and not of hearts. The ruling Magyar caste of about a million people has been oppressive of the other nine millions of its own race no less than of the subject races. The alliance with Prussia—for it has in reality been an alliance with Prussia rather than with Austria—has been strictly in return for support of the Magyar oligarchy. No doubt the Magyars have begotten deep feelings of hostility among the Slavs and Rumanians, but if there be no more profit to be made from farming Slavs in the German behalf, a democratic Hungary will sooner or later adapt herself to the new environment. The Bulgarians fought, let us remember, as allies of the Serbs against the Turks, and the difference between Serb and Bulgar, though bitter for the time being, is a family difference. It is a difference of recent growth, and based largely on rival ecclesiastical organisations of recent foundation. The Bulgarians must not be allowed to exploit their treachery in the Second Balkan War, but if an equitable settlement be dictated by the Allies, both nations, the Bulgarians and the Serbs, deeply war-weary, will probably accept it joyfully. For twenty years only one will, that of the German Czar Ferdinand, has counted in Bulgaria.
The most important point of strategical significance in regard to these Middle States of East Europe is that the most civilised of them, Poland and Bohemia, lie in the North, in the position most exposed to Prussian aggression. Securely independent the Polish and Bohemian nations cannot be unless as the apex of a broad wedge of independence, extending from the Adriatic and Black Seas to the Baltic; but seven independent States, with a total of more than sixty million people, traversed by railways linking them securely with one another, and having access through the Adriatic, Black, and Baltic Seas with the Ocean, will together effectively balance the Germans of Prussia and Austria, and nothing less will suffice for that purpose. None the less the League of Nations should have the right under International Law of sending War fleets into the Black and Baltic Seas.
This great deed of International Statesmanship accomplished, and there would appear to be no impossibility of realising the democratic ideal, the League of Nations, whose mirage has haunted our Western peoples from afar over the desert of War. What are the essential conditions which must be fulfilled if you are to have a real and potent League of Nations? Viscount Grey, in his recent pamphlet, laid down two such conditions. The first was that 'the Idea must be adopted with earnestness and conviction by the Executive Heads of States.' The second was that 'the Governments and Peoples of the States willing to found it understand clearly that it will impose some limitation upon the national action of each, and may entail some inconvenient obligation. The stronger nations must forgo the right to make their interests prevail against the weaker by force.'
These are excellent and very necessary theses, but do they carry us far enough? Before you undertake any general obligation, is it not well to consider what it is likely to mean in concrete terms? Your League will have to reckon with certain realities. There was before the War an incipient League of Nations; its members were the States party to the system of International Law. Have we not had to fight the War just because two of the greater States broke the International Law, first in regard to one and then another of the smaller States, and have not those two greater States very nearly succeeded in defeating a very powerful League of Nations which intervened in behalf of the Law? In the face of such a fact, is it quite adequate to say that stronger nations must 'forgo' the right to make their interests prevail by force against the weaker? In a word, do not our ideals involve us in a circle unless we reckon with realities?
Is it not plain that if your League is to last there must be no nation strong enough to have any chance against the general will of Humanity? Or, to put the matter in another way; there must be no predominant partner or even group of partners in your League. Is there any case of a successful federation with a predominant partner? In the United States you have the great States of New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, but no one of them counts for more than a small fraction of the whole Union. In Canada you have Quebec and Ontario balancing one another, so that the smaller provinces of the Dominion are never likely to be bullied by either. In the Commonwealth of Australia you have the approximately equal States of New South Wales and Victoria. In Switzerland not even the large Canton of Berne is anything like predominant. Has not German Federation been a pretence because of the dominance of Prussia? Is not the chief difficulty in the way of devolution within the British Isles, even if Irishmen would agree among themselves, the predominance of England? Did not this War originate from the fact that you allowed an almost dominant Germany to arise in Europe? Have not the great Wars of the past in Europe come from the fact that one State in the European System, under Napoleon, Louis xiv., or Philip ii., had become too powerful? Is it not necessary, if your League of Nations is to have any chance of success, to face this cumulative evidence and not to gloss it over?
Is there not also another Reality with which you must reckon; the Reality of the Going Concern? If the nations of your League are to settle down to a quiet life, there are two different ways, it seems to me, in which you will have to face the Reality of the Going Concern; in respect of the Present and of the Future. What is meant by this Reality in the Present will best be conveyed by concrete consideration of the States available as the units to be leagued together.
The British Empire is a Going Concern. You will not persuade a majority of Britons to risk the coherence of the Empire, which has so triumphantly stood the test of this War, for any paper scheme of a Universal League. It follows, therefore, that the governing units of the British Empire can only grow by gradual process into their place as units of your League. Yet the relations of six of them are already, in fact, the relations of equality and, under their British League, of independency. Only last year was the last word said in that matter. The Prime Ministers of the Dominions are henceforth to communicate directly with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and no longer through the subordinate Colonial Secretary; the Parliament at Westminster is no longer to be called the Imperial Parliament but only the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It only remains that the King should no longer be called King of the United Kingdom and of the Dominions beyond the Seas, but that the equality of all the Dominions should be recognised by some such title as King of all the Britains. Even in respect of realities—though in such matters names become realities—have we not now the certainty that the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia will each have its own fleet and army, to be put under a single strategical command only on the outbreak of War? As regards population, too, is it not now a question of only a few years before Canada and Australia will equal the Motherland in power? We shall then have the three minor Dominions—New Zealand, South Africa, and Newfoundland—counting the more because of the balance between the three major Domimions.
France and Italy are Going Concerns. Are they going to enter a League in which the British Empire is a unit? Fortunately we have achieved the single strategical command in the later stages of the War, so that the name Versailles has now an added historic meaning. No longer merely through their Ambassadors, but in the persons of their Prime Ministers, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy have acquired the habit of taking counsel together. These three countries of West Europe are not unfitted by any decisive inequality of size to be fellow members of a League. Is it not probable that occasions will occur when the Prime Ministers of Canada and Australia may be called into conference with the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, France, and Italy? They will be occasions of all the more value if you recognise the Going Concerns of to-day and do not attempt to make merely paper progress. Remember that it required the peril of the German offensive of 1918 to secure the unity of strategical command.
Then what of the United States? There is no good in pretending that the separate American States can be units in your League; the Republic fought the greatest War in History, before this War, in order to weld them together. Yet the United States form something very like a predominant partner as against the separate allied countries of West Europe. The United States must be in your League; and that means that, for healthy working, the six Britains must be held together as a counterbalance. Fortunately 3000 miles of undefended frontier in North America constitute a fact of good omen, though, to be quite frank, it would signify more if the countries which that frontier has separated had been less unequal; the test would have been more severe.But the need of a reasonable equality of power as between a considerable number of the members of the League, so that in future crises—and they will occur—it may not be exposed to danger from predominance in any quarter, is less urgent in respect of the insular than of the continental members. There are the obvious limitations of sea-power; there are also natural boundaries which define the spread of any one insular, or even peninsular, base of power. The test of the League will be in the Heartland of the Continent. Nature there offers all the prerequisites of ultimate dominance in the world; it must be for man by his foresight and by the taking of solid guarantees to prevent its attainment. Notwithstanding their revolutions the German and Russian peoples are Going Concerns, each with a powerful historical momentum.
Therefore let the idealists who, now that the nations are locked into a single world system, rightly see in the League of Nations the only alternative to Hell on Earth, concentrate their attention on the adequate sub-division of East Europe. With a Middle Tier of really independent States between Germany and Russia they will achieve their end, and without it they will not. Any mere trench-line between the German Powers and Russia, such as was contemplated by Naumann in his Central Europe would have left German and Slav still in dual rivalry, and no lasting stability could have ensued. But the 'Middle Tier,' supported by the outer nations of the World League, will accomplish the end of breaking-up East Europe into more than two State-systems. Moreover, the States of that Tier, of approximate equality of power, will themselves be a very acceptable group for the recruitment of the League.
Once thus remo the temptation and opening to World-Empire, and who can say what will occur among the German and Russian peoples themselves? There are already indications that Prussia, which, unlike England or France, is a purely artificial structure, will be broken into several Federal States. In one region the Prussians belong by history to East Europe and in another to West Europe. Is it not probable that the Russians will fall into a number of States in some sort of loose federation? Germany and Russia have grown into great Empires out of opposition to one another; but the peoples of the Middle Tier—Poles, Bohemians, Hungarians, Rumanians, Serbs, Bulgarians, and Greeks—are much too unlike to federate for any purpose except defence, yet they are all so different both from Germans and Russians that they may be trusted to resist any new organisation of either great neighbour making towards the Empire of East Europe.
There are certain strategical positions in the Heartland and Arabia which must be treated as of world importance, for their possession may facilitate or prevent a world domination. It does not, however, follow that it would be wise to commit them forthwith to an untried international administration; here, too, it is very necessary to bear in mind the truth of the Going Concern. Condominium has not, as a rule, been a success, for the reason that the agents of the joint protecting Powers almost inevitably take sides with the local nationalities or parties. The most effective method of international control would seem to be that of commissioning some one Power as trustee for humanity—a different Power, of course, in the case of different positions. That was the method experimentally tried when Austria-Hungary was entrusted with the administra-tion of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Congress of Berlin, and it succeeded so far as the material advancement of the protected provinces was concerned. There is no reason why the new principle and the facts of the Going Concern should not be reconciled in the cases of Panama, Gibraltar, Malta, Suez, Aden, and Singapore by regarding the American Republic and the British Empire as World Trustees for the peace of the Ocean and of the straits connecting the basins of the Ocean. This, however, would amount merely to a regularisation of existing facts. The test of the principle, as of most other World principles, is in connection with the Heartland and Arabia. The Islanders of the world cannot be indifferent to the fate either of Copenhagen or of Constantinople, or yet of the Kiel Canal, for a great Power in the Heartland and East Europe could prepare, within the Baltic and Black Seas, for War on the Ocean. During the present War it has taken the whole naval strength of the Allies to hold the North Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean. An adequate submarine campaign, based on the Black Sea from the beginning of the War, would probably have given security to an army operating overland against the Suez Canal. It follows, therefore, that Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia, the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, and the outlets from the Baltic must be internationalised in some manner. In the case of Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia, it has been understood that Britain and France would undertake international trusts. Why should we not solve the problem of Constantinople by making that historic city the Washington of the League of Nations? When the network of railways has covered the World-Island, Constantinople will be one of the most accessible places on the Globe by Railway, Steamer, and Aeroplane. From Constantinople the leading nations of the West might radiate light through precisely those regions, oppressed during many past centuries, in which light is most to be desired from the point of view of humanity at large; from Constantinople we might weld together the West and the East, and permanently penetrate the Heartland with oceanic freedom.
The Jewish National seat in Palestine will be one of the most important outcomes of the War. That is a subject on which we can now afford to speak the truth. The Jew, for many centuries shut up in the Ghetto, and shut out of most honourable positions in Society, developed in an unbalanced manner and became hateful to the average Christian by reason of his excellent, no less than his deficient, qualities. German penetration has been conducted in the great commercial centres of the world in no small measure by Jewish agency, just as German domination in South-Eastern Europe was achieved through Magyar and Turk, with Jewish assistance. Jews are among the chief of the Bolsheviks of Russia. The homeless, brainful Jew lent himself to such internationalist work, and Christendom has no great right to be surprised by the fact. But you will have no room for these activities in your League of independent, friendly nations. Therefore a National Home, at the physical and historical centre of the world, should make the Jew 'range' himself. Standards of judgment, brought to bear on Jews by Jews, should result, even among those large Jewish communities which will remain as Going Concerns outside Palestine. This, however, will imply the frank acceptance of the position of a Nationality, which some Jews seek to forget. There are those who try to distinguish between the Jewish religion and the Hebrew race, but surely the popular view of their broad identity is not far wrong.
In the vast and populous regions of Asia and Africa which lie beyond the girdle of the great deserts and plateaux there are Going Concerns, such as the British Raj in India, which it would be folly indeed to shake down in your hurry to realise a world-symmetry for your League of Nations. But it is essential that neither Kiauchau nor East Africa should go back to the Power which took them with a keen strategical eye to the day when armies marching overland should find in each of them a citadel already prepared; which took them, moreover, with the clear intention that the Chinese and the Negroes should be utilised as subsidiary man-power to help in the conquest of the World-Island. What part may ultimately be played by that half of the Human Race which lives in 'The Indies' no man can yet foresee, but it is the plain duty of the Insular peoples to protect the Indians and Chinese from Heartland conquest.
German South-West Africa and the German Australasian Colonies must not be returned; the principle of independence within the League implies that, subject to an International Trust in the case of a few critically important positions, each Nation must be mistress in her own house, and that principle holds in regard to South Africa and Australia. Any other principle would leave the seeds of future quarrels and would impede disarmament.
So much in respect of the starting of the League and of the Going Concern in the Present. It remains for us to speak of the Going Concern in the Future. Viscount Grey has described the state of mind which will be required when we approach this great International enterprise: is there not something more precise to be said in that matter also?
I have expressed my belief that both Free Trade of the Laissez-faire type and Predatory Protection of the German type are principles of Empire, and that both make for War. Fortunately the younger Britains refused to accept the Free Trade of Manchester; they used the fiscal independence granted to them by the Motherland to pursue that economic ideal which was foreshadowed by the great American statesman, Alexander Hamilton— the ideal of the truly independent nation, balanced in all its development. This does not in the least imply that a great international trade should not be done, but it should be a trade so controlled that the effect of it is always tending towards the balance aimed at, and is not accumulating, beyond hope of recovery, economic one-sidedness.
No stable League of Nations appears to me possible if any nation is allowed to practise commercial 'penetration,' for the object of that penetration is to deprive other nations of their fair share of the more skilled forms of employment, and it is inevitable that a general soreness should ensue in so far as it succeeds. Nor, to speak quite plainly, is there any great difference in result if some nations feel that they are reduced to the position of hewers and drawers owing to the industrial specialisation of another country under the régime of unrestricted Cobdenism; wherever an industry is so developed in one country that it can be content with no less than a world-market for its particular products, the economic balance of other countries tends to be upset. No important country, after this War, is going to allow itself to be deprived either of any 'key' or of any 'essential' industry. By the time you have exhausted these two categories, you will find that you might just as well have adopted the attractive positive ideal of general economic independence instead of being driven from one expedient to another in mere defensiveness. If you attempt to maintain a negative Cobdenism with exceptions, you will, under the conditions of the world that are opening before us, very soon build up a large and clumsy body of merely ad hoc machineries. A general system of low duties and bounties would enable you to deal quickly and lightly with each difficulty as it develops, because you would have the appropriate machinery of control at your hand. But I am not here going into the detail of these questions of machinery; I am dealing with the question of ideal and aim. The Cobdenite believes that international trade is good in itself, and that specialisation as between country and country, provided that it arises blindly under the guidance of natural causes, should not be thwarted. The Berliner, on the other hand, has also encouraged economic specialisation among the nations, but he operates scientifically, accumulating in his own country those industries which give most, and most highly-skilled, employment. The result is the same in each case; a Going Concern of Industry grips the nation and deprives it, as well as other nations, of true independence. The resulting differences accumulate to the point of quarrel and collision.
There are three attitudes of mind in regard to the Going Concern which spell tragedy. There is Laissez-faire, which is surrender and fatalism. This attitude produces a condition comparable with that of a disease brought on by self-neglect; the human body is a going concern which, becoming unbalanced in its functions, is organically affected, so that in the end no doctor's advice or even surgeon's scalpel can avail, since to stop the disease means the stoppage of life itself. No doubt it seemed, in the warm sunshine of Britain in the middle of last century, that the wiser political philosophy was to live for the day and to trust in Providence. Fortunately disease had not progressed to a fatal stage when we came to the surgeon's table in August 1914. But a million men of military age classified as unfit for military service constitute a symptom which almost makes one thank God that the War came when it did.
The second attitude of mind in relation to the Going Concern is that of Panic. This has been the attitude of Prussia, though it was hidden by the flattering philosophy of the Superman, not less pleasant, while it was credible, than the comforting religion of Laissez-faire. Nakedly stated, however, Kultur meant that, being obsessed with the idea of competition and natural selection, as finally expressed in Darwinism, and being frightened, the Prussians decided that if, in the end, men must come to man-eating in order to survive, they, at any rate, would be the cannibals! So they assiduously cultivated the strength and efficiency of the prize-fighter. But the monster Going Concern into which they developed their country grew hungrier and hungrier, and at last they had to let it feed. Half the cruel and selfish things which are done in this world are done for reasons of Panic.
The third attitude is that of the Anarchist and the Bolshevik—they would distinguish no doubt between themselves, but whether you break the Going Concern or take it to pieces makes little practical difference. This attitude means social suicide. It is vital that discipline should be maintained in the Western Democracies during the period of Reconstruction, whatever Bolshevism may happen in Central as well as East Europe. The Westerners are the Victors, and they alone are able to prevent the whole world from having to pass through the cycle so often repeated in the case of individual nations—Idealism, Disorder, Famine, Tyranny. Provided that we do not hasten to dismantle running social machinery, but accomplish our ideals by successive acts of social discipline, we shall maintain the steady output of production, the fundamental Reality, that is to say, on which now, more than ever before, Civilisation rests. The disorder of a whole World, let us not forget, implies the absence of any remaining National base as a fulcrum for the restoration of order, and therefore the indefinite prolongation of Anarchy and Tyranny. It took several centuries to attain again to the stage of civilisation which had been reached when the Roman World of Antiquity broke down.
But if drifting in the grip of the Going Concern leads to disease in a nation, and if we must not fall into panic because that results in crime, nor yet suffer revolt because that ends in suicide, what course remains open to us? Surely that of control, which in a democracy means self-control. If this War has proved anything, it has proved that these gigantic forces of modern production are capable of control. Beforehand it was assumed by many that a World-War would bring so general a financial crash that it would not—could not—be allowed to take place. Yet how easily, when it actually befell, were the British and German systems of credit disengaged by the simple device of using the national credits to carry the roots of individual credit which were pulled out of the enemy soil.
If you once admit control of the Going Concern to be your aim, then the ideal State-unit of your League must be the nation of balanced economic development. Raw materials are unequally distributed over the world, but the primary pursuits of men, other than the growing of the staples of food proper to each region, form in these days but a relatively small part of the total of Industry. Minerals must be won in the mines and tropical produce can only be grown within the tropics, but both minerals and tropical produce are now easy of transport, and the higher industries may, therefore, be located at the choice and will of mankind. We are what our occupations make us; every mature man is imprinted with the characteristics of his calling. So is it with the nations, and no self-respecting nation henceforth will allow itself to be deprived of its share of the higher industries. But these industries are so interlocked that they cannot be developed except in balance one with another. It follows, therefore, that each nation will strive for development in each great line of industrial activity, and should be allowed to attain to it.This is the ideal, I am firmly persuaded, which will make for peace. In ordinary society it is notoriously difficult for people of very unequal fortune to be friends in the true sense; that beautiful relationship is not compatible with patronage and dependence. Civilisation, no doubt, consists in the exchange of services, but it should be an equal exchange. Our economics of money have assessed as equal services of very unequal value from the point of view of the quality of the industrial employment which they give. For the contentment of nations we must contrive to secure some equality of opportunity for national development.
- The details of the discussion of the territorial resettlement which here follow will, of course, become in large measure obsolete with the announcement of the decisions of the Peace Congress. My object is not, however, so much to debate certain solutions of the problems immediately confronting us, as to give a concrete aspect to the general idea which I am endeavouring to build up. My purpose will still be served if it is borne in mind that what I have written on these particulars represents the outlook at Christmas 1918.
- Since I wrote this paragraph, M. Venizelos, in an interview with a Times correspondent, dated Paris, January 14, 1919, has used these words: 'This would still leave some hundreds of thousands of Greeks under Turkish rule in the centre of Asia Minor. For this there is only one cure, and that is to encourage a wholesale and mutual transfer of population.'
- To meet the obvious argumentum ad hominem, let me say that I see no really comparable strategical necessities in the case of Ireland.
- Since this was written the Paris Conference has treated the British Empire as a hybrid—a unit for some purposes.
- The distinction between these two terms is not always observed. Key industries are those which, although themselves relatively small, are necessary to other and much greater industries. Thus, for instance, aniline dye-stuffs to the value of two million pounds a year were utilised in Great Britain before the War in textile and paper manufactures of the annual worth of 200 millions. The proportion was something like that of a key to the door which it unlocks. Essential industries there are which have not this character of a small key; such, for instance, in this twentieth century is the steel industry. It is well to preserve the distinction, because different defensive measures may perhaps be needed in the two cases.