Page:Great Speeches of the War.djvu/338

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Philip Snowden

which have fomented international jealousies, and upon the undemocratic and antidemocratic character of the foreign diplomacy of all the nations. I stand where I did on all these questions. In a far truer sense than those people mean or understand who now tell us that this war was inevitable I have always believed and declared that there was no other issue than this possible if the nations of Europe, with the passive assent of the working classes of all the countries and to the silence of the Christian Churches, pursued the foreign policies they have followed for the last fifteen years, and if they continued to provoke the jealousies of each other by the mad policy of military and naval armaments. We had made Europe into a huge powder magazine, and the spark which would explode the magazine was certain one day to be deliberately or carelessly ignited. I have no desire now to be captious or critical as to the causes of the war, and I refer to the matter now for two reasons only, namely to give me an opportunity of making my own position clear, because in all my public life I have unceasingly fought against militarism in all its forms, and have worked for a better understanding between the workers of all nations, which is the only way in which international jealousies can be removed, and militarism and despotism in all countries be swept away. I refer to the causes of the war for one other reason. If this war is going to achieve the purpose for which we at least declare we have entered upon it, namely to put an end to war, to destroy militarism, to secure the independence and freedom of small nationalities, we must understand the causes of the war in order to remove them and to prevent a repetition of this terrible calamity.

On the whole the temper and spirit of the British people in this awful affair has been admirable. To contrast the national temper now with the minds and passions of the people at the time of the Boer War, is to discover a change of a remarkable character, and one which fills us with hope for the future. I have found the spirit which now animates the people here at home possessing the people of our own race in every part of the British Empire, and, apart from the large population of German descent, in the United States also. It has filled me with unspeakable satisfaction. Nowhere have I found any glorification of war, no vain boastfulness, no lust for blood or territory, but everywhere a sadness, a horror, a shame that in these days such a war should be possible between nations professedly civilized and religious, and an earnest hope that this