Page:The New Europe - Volume 4.djvu/404

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The New Europe]

[11 October 1917


of Vienna against the strong spirit of Budapest explains many things, but none more luminously than Count Czernin’s careful avoidance of any words which could convey the slightest hint of sympathy with the Habsburg subject races. Budapest is the citadel of racial domination, and he who speaks within its walls must forswear the self-determination of peoples. He may speak, like Czernin, of international goodwill, but not of the neighbourly duty of the Magyar to the Croat; he may paint the picture of a new Europe under the rule of Right, but it must be a Europe in which the ruling race of Hungary shall enjoy for ever their “right” to exploit all the others. That is why the touchstone of Austro-Hungarian sincerity is not “peace” but “nationality.” And until Vienna and Budapest can say “self-determination” we shall listen to no professions of internationalism from their spokesmen. They must be ready to lay the foundations of Europe anew in freedom and justice to all peoples, before they can hope to build any enduring structure of Public Right. And Germany must speak the word “restitution,” before we pay any heed to her exposition of the new internationalism. It is strange to see how some who call themselves “Liberals” are prepared to accept Count Czernin as a friend and to forget the historic task of the Western World in seeing justice done to the little nations rightly struggling to be free. We must remind them that not so long ago “liberal” meant Mazzini, Garibaldi, Lincoln; that the union of democratic control, in our father’s day, wore red shirts and died at Calatafimi; that the people that chose “peace” before “justice” was a people in decay; and that to-day the powerful (but sophisticated) peoples of the West may end in selling other men’s birthright of freedom because they are too faint-hearted to carry this great struggle to the end, or too simple to read the malign motive behind fair speeches.

There are some who believe that the modern British supporters of national rights in Eastern Europe are merely diverting themselves with exotic toys, and that the question of nationality has received unmerited importance. They misread history who plead thus. “The diplomats of 1815,” says M. Debidour, “spent a year in providing Europe with bad laws. It was to take Europe a century to repair the evil which they wrought upon her.” And not in 1815 only: