What is Coming?
A Forecast of Things after the War
Prophecy may vary between being an intellectual amusement and a serious occupation; serious not only in its intentions, but in its consequences. For it is the lot of prophets who frighten or disappoint to be stoned. But for some of us moderns, who have been touched with the spirit of science, prophesying is almost a habit of mind.
Science is very largely analysis aimed at forecasting. The test of any scientific law is our verification of its anticipations. The scientific training develops the idea that whatever is going to happen is really here now--if only one could see it. And when one is taken by surprise the tendency is not to say with the untrained man, "Now, who'd ha' thought it?" but "Now, what was it we overlooked?"
Everything that has ever existed or that will ever exist is
here--for anyone who has eyes to see. But some of it demands eyes of superhuman
penetration. Some of it is patent; we are almost as certain of next Christmas
and the tides of the year 1960 and the death before 3000 A.D. of everybody now
alive as if these things had already happened. Below that level of certainty,
but still at a very high level of certainty, there are such things as that men
will probably be making aeroplanes of an improved pattern in 1950, or that
there will be a through railway connection between Constantinople and Bombay
and between Baku and Bombay in the next half-century. From such grades of
certainty as this, one may come down the scale until the most obscure mystery
of all is reached: the mystery of the individual. Will
Yet, even to such questions as these the sharp, observant man may risk an answer with something rather better than an even chance of being right.
The present writer is a prophet by use and wont. He is more interested in to-morrow than he is in to-day, and the past is just material for future guessing. "Think of the men who have walked here!" said a tourist in the Roman Coliseum. It was a Futurist mind that answered: "Think of the men who will." It is surely as interesting that presently some founder of the World Republic, some obstinate opponent of militarism or legalism, or the man who will first release atomic energy for human use, will walk along the Via Sacra as that Cicero or Giordano Bruno or Shelley have walked there in the past. To the prophetic mind all history is and will continue to be a prelude. The prophetic type will steadfastly refuse to see the world as a museum; it will insist that here is a stage set for a drama that perpetually begins.
Now this forecasting disposition has led the writer not only to publish a book of deliberate prophesying, called "Anticipations," but almost without premeditation to scatter a number of more or less obvious prophecies through his other books. From first to last he has been writing for twenty years, so that it is possible to check a certain proportion of these anticipations by the things that have happened, Some of these shots have hit remarkably close to the bull's-eye of reality; there are a number of inners and outers, and some clean misses. Much that he wrote about in anticipation is now established commonplace. In 1894 there were still plenty of sceptics of the possibility either of automobiles or aeroplanes; it was not until 1898 that Mr. S.P. Langley (of the Smithsonian Institute) could send the writer a photograph of a heavier-than-air flying machine actually in the air. There were articles in the monthly magazines of those days proving that flying was impossible.
One of the writer's luckiest shots was a description (in
"Anticipations" in 1900) of trench warfare,
and of a deadlock almost exactly upon the lines of the situation after the battle
In saying, however, here and there that "before such a year so-and-so will happen," or that "so-and-so will not occur for the next twenty years," he was generally pretty widely wrong; most of his time estimates are too short; he foretold, for example, a special motor track apart from the high road between London and Brighton before 1910, which is still a dream, but he doubted if effective military aviation or aerial fighting would be possible before 1950, which is a miss on the other side. He will draw a modest veil over certain still wider misses that the idle may find for themselves in his books; he prefers to count the hits and leave the reckoning of the misses to those who will find a pleasure in it.
Of course, these prophecies of the writer's were made upon a basis of very generalised knowledge. What can be done by a really sustained research into a particular question--especially if it is a question essentially mechanical--is shown by the work of a Frenchman all too neglected by the trumpet of fame--Clement Ader. M. Ader was probably the first man to get a mechanism up into the air for something more than a leap. His Eole, as General Mensier testifies, prolonged a jump as far as fifty metres as early as 1890. In 1897 his Avion fairly flew. (This is a year ahead of the date of my earliest photograph of S.P. Langley's aeropile in mid-air.) This, however, is beside our present mark. The fact of interest here is that in 1908, when flying was still almost incredible, M. Ader published his "Aviation Militaire." Well, that was eight years ago, and men have been fighting in the air now for a year, and there is still nothing being done that M. Ader did not see, and which we, if we had had the wisdom to attend to him, might not have been prepared for. There is much that he foretells which is still awaiting its inevitable fulfilment. So clearly can men of adequate knowledge and sound reasoning power see into the years ahead in all such matters of material development.
But it is not with the development of mechanical inventions that the writer now proposes to treat. In this book he intends to hazard certain forecasts about the trend of events in the next decade or so. Mechanical novelties will probably play a very small part in that coming history. This world-wide war means a general arrest of invention and enterprise, except in the direction of the war business. Ability is concentrated upon that; the types of ability that are not applicable to warfare are neglected; there is a vast destruction of capital and a waste of the savings that are needed to finance new experiments. Moreover, we are killing off many of our brightest young men.
It is fairly safe to assume that there will be very little
new furniture on the stage of the world for some considerable time; that if
there is much difference in the roads and railways and shipping it will be for
the worse; that architecture, domestic equipment, and so on, will be fortunate
if in 1924 they stand where they did in the spring of 1914. In the trenches of
The broad material facts before us are plain enough. It is the mental facts that have to be unravelled. It isn't now a question of "What thing--what faculty--what added power will come to hand, and how will it affect our ways of living?" It is a question of "How are people going to take these obvious things--waste of the world's resources, arrest of material progress, the killing of a large moiety of the males in nearly every European country, and universal loss and unhappiness?" We are going to deal with realities here, at once more intimate and less accessible than the effects of mechanism.
As a preliminary reconnaissance, as it were, over the region of problems we have to attack, let us consider the difficulties of a single question, which is also a vital and central question in this forecast. We shall not attempt a full answer here, because too many of the factors must remain unexamined; later, perhaps, we may be in a better position to do so. This question is the probability of the establishment of a long world peace.
At the outset of the war there was a very widely felt hope among the intellectuals of the world that this war might clear up most of the outstanding international problems, and prove the last war. The writer, looking across the gulf of experience that separates us from 1914, recalls two pamphlets whose very titles are eloquent of this feeling--"The War that will End War," and "The Peace of the World." Was the hope expressed in those phrases a dream? Is it already proven a dream? Or can we read between the lines of the war news, diplomatic disputations, threats and accusations, political wranglings and stories of hardship and cruelty that now fill our papers, anything that still justifies a hope that these bitter years of world sorrow are the darkness before the dawn of a better day for mankind? Let us handle this problem for a preliminary examination.
What is really being examined here is the power of human
reason to prevail over passion--and certain other restraining and qualifying
forces. There can be little doubt that, if one could canvass all mankind and
ask them whether they would rather have no war any more, the overwhelming mass
of them would elect for universal peace. If it were war of the modern
mechanical type that was in question, with air raids, high explosives, poison
gas and submarines, there could be no doubt at all about the response.
"Give peace in our time, O Lord," is more than ever the common prayer
of Christendom, and the very war makers claim to be peace makers; the German
Emperor has never faltered in his assertion that he encouraged
Now what are the obstructions, and what are the antagonisms to the exploitation of this world-wide disgust with war and the world-wide desire for peace, so as to establish a world peace?
Let us take them in order, and it will speedily become
apparent that we are dealing here with a subtle quantitative problem in
psychology, a constant weighing of whether this force or that force is the
stronger. We are dealing with influences so subtle that the accidents of some
striking dramatic occurrence, for example, may turn them this way or that. We
are dealing with the human will--and thereby comes a
snare for the feet of the would-be impartial prophet. To foretell the future is
to modify the future. It is hard for any prophet not to break into exhortation
after the fashion of the prophets of
The first difficulty in the way of establishing a world peace is that it is nobody's business in particular. Nearly all of us want a world peace--in an amateurish sort of way. But there is no specific person or persons to whom one can look for the initiatives. The world is a supersaturated solution of the will-for-peace, and there is nothing for it to crystallise upon. There is no one in all the world who is responsible for the understanding and overcoming of the difficulties involved. There are many more people, and there is much more intelligence concentrated upon the manufacture of cigarettes or hairpins than upon the establishment of a permanent world peace. There are a few special secretaries employed by philanthropic Americans, and that is about all. There has been no provision made even for the emoluments of these gentlemen when universal peace is attained; presumably they would lose their jobs.
Nearly everybody wants peace; nearly everybody would be glad to wave a white flag with a dove on it now--provided no unfair use was made of such a demonstration by the enemy--but there is practically nobody thinking out the arrangements needed, and nobody making nearly as much propaganda for the instruction of the world in the things needful as is made in selling any popular make of automobile. We have all our particular businesses to attend to. And things are not got by just wanting them; things are got by getting them, and rejecting whatever precludes our getting them.
That is the first great difficulty: the formal Peace Movement is quite amateurish.
It is so amateurish that the bulk of people do not even realise the very first implication of the peace of the world. It has not succeeded in bringing this home to them.
If there is to be a permanent peace of the world, it is clear that there must be some permanent means of settling disputes between Powers and nations that would otherwise be at war. That means that there must be some head power, some point of reference, a supreme court of some kind, a universally recognised executive over and above the separate Governments of the world that exist to-day. That does not mean that those Governments Have to disappear, that "nationality" has to be given up, or anything so drastic as that. But it does mean that all those Governments have to surrender almost as much of their sovereignty as the constituent sovereign States which make up the United States of America have surrendered to the Federal Government; if their unification is to be anything more than a formality, they will have to delegate a control of their inter-State relations to an extent for which few minds are prepared at present.
It is really quite idle to dream of a warless world in which
States are still absolutely free to annoy one another with tariffs, with the
blocking and squeezing of trade routes, with the ill-treatment of immigrants
and travelling strangers, and between which there is no means of settling
boundary disputes. Moreover, as between the united States of the world and the
United States of America there is this further complication of the world
position: that almost all the great States of Europe are in possession,
firstly, of highly developed territories of alien language and race, such as
Egypt; and, secondly, of barbaric and less-developed territories, such as Nigeria
or Madagascar. There will be nothing stable about a world settlement that does
not destroy in these "possessions" the national preference of the
countries that own them and that does not prepare for the immediate or eventual
accession of these subject peoples to State rank. Most certainly, however,
thousands of intelligent people in those great European countries who believe
themselves ardent for a world peace will be staggered at any proposal to place
any part of "our Empire" under a world administration on the footing
Going on with such things and yet deprecating war is really not an attempt to abolish conflict; it is an attempt to retain conflict and limit its intensity; it is like trying to play hockey on the understanding that the ball shall never travel faster than eight miles an hour.
Now it not only stands in our way to a permanent peace of the world that the great mass of men are not prepared for even the most obvious implications of such an idea, but there is also a second invincible difficulty--that there is nowhere in the world anybody, any type of men, any organisation, any idea, any nucleus or germ, that could possibly develop into the necessary over-Government. We are asking for something out of the air, out of nothingness, that will necessarily array against itself the resistance of all those who are in control, or interested in the control, of the affairs of sovereign States of the world as they are at present; the resistance of a gigantic network of Government organisations, interests, privileges, assumptions.
Against this a headless, vague aspiration, however universal, is likely to prove quite ineffective. Of course, it is possible to suggest that the Hague Tribunal is conceivably the germ of such an overriding direction and supreme court as the peace of the world demands, but in reality the Hague Tribunal is a mere legal automatic machine. It does nothing unless you set it in motion. It has no initiative. It does not even protest against the most obvious outrages upon that phantom of a world-conscience--international law.
Pacificists in their search for some definite starting-point, about which the immense predisposition for peace may crystallise, have suggested the Pope and various religious organisations as a possible basis for the organisation of peace. But there would be no appeal from such a beginning to the non-Christian majority of mankind, and the suggestion in itself indicates a profound ignorance of the nature of the Christian churches. With the exception of the Quakers and a few Russian sects, no Christian sect or church has ever repudiated war; most have gone out of the way to sanction it and bless it.
It is altogether too rashly assumed by people whose
sentimentality outruns their knowledge that Christianity is essentially an
attempt to carry out the personal teachings of Christ. It is nothing of the
sort, and no church authority will support that idea. Christianity--more
particularly after the ascendancy of the Trinitarian doctrine was
established--was and is a theological religion; it is the religion that triumphed
over Arianism, Manichseism, Gnosticism, and the like; it is based not on
Christ, but on its creeds. Christ, indeed, is not even its symbol; on the
contrary, the chosen symbol of Christianity is the cross to which Christ was
nailed and on which He died. It was very largely a religion of the legions. It
was the warrior Theodosius who, more than any single other man,
imposed it upon
There is no reason, therefore, either in precedent or profession, for expecting any plain lead from the churches in this tremendous task of organising and making effective the widespread desire of the world for peace. And even were this the case, it is doubtful if we should find in the divines and dignitaries of the Vatican, of the Russian and British official churches, or of any other of the multitudinous Christian sects, the power and energy, the knowledge and ability, or even the goodwill needed to negotiate so vast a thing as the creation of a world authority.
One other possible starting-point has been suggested. It is
no great feat for a naive imagination to suppose the President of the Swiss
Confederation or the President of the
But nothing of the sort occurs. And when you come to look
into the circumstances of these two Presidents you will discover that neither of
them is any more free than anybody else to embark upon the task of creating a
State-overriding, war-preventing organisation of the world. He has been created
by a system, and he is bound to a system; his concern is with the interests of
the people of
We are all, indeed, busy with the things that come to hand every day. We are all anxious for a permanent world peace, but we are all up to the neck in things that leave us no time to attend to this world peace that nearly every sane man desires.
Meanwhile, a small minority of people who trade upon contention--militarists, ambitious kings and statesmen, war contractors, loan mongers, sensational journalists--follow up their interests and start and sustain war.
There lies the paradoxical reality of this question. Our first inquiry lands us into the elucidation of this deadlock. Nearly everybody desires a world peace, and yet there is not apparent anywhere any man free and able and willing to establish it, while, on the other hand, there are a considerable number of men in positions of especial influence and power who will certainly resist the arrangements that are essential to its establishment.
But does this exhaust the question, and must we conclude that mankind is doomed to a perpetual, futile struggling of States and nations and peoples--breaking ever and again into war? The answer to that would probably, be "Yes" if it were not for the progress of war. War is continually becoming more scientific, more destructive, more coldly logical, more intolerant of non-combatants, and more exhausting of any kind of property. There is every reason to believe that it will continue to intensify these characteristics. By doing so it may presently bring about a state of affairs that will supply just the lacking elements that are needed for the development of a world peace.
I would venture to suggest that the present war is doing so now: that it is producing changes in men's minds that may presently give us both the needed energy and the needed organisation from which a world direction may develop.
The first, most distinctive thing about this conflict is the exceptionally searching way in which it attacks human happiness. No war has ever destroyed happiness so widely. It has not only killed and wounded an unprecedented proportion of the male population of all the combatant nations, but it has also destroyed wealth beyond precedent. It has also destroyed freedom--of movement, of speech, of economic enterprise. Hardly anyone alive has escaped the worry of it and the threat of it. It has left scarcely a life untouched, and made scarcely a life happier. There is a limit to the principle that "everybody's business is nobody's business." The establishment of a world State, which was interesting only to a few cranks and visionaries before the war, is now the lively interest of a very great number of people. They inquire about it; they have become accessible to ideas about it.
Peace organisation seems, indeed, to be following the lines
of public sanitation. Everybody in
That is one change the war will bring about that will make for world peace: a quickened general interest in its possibility. Another is the certainty that the war will increase the number of devoted and fanatic characters available for disinterested effort. Whatever other outcome this war may have, it means that there lies ahead a period of extreme economic and political dislocation. The credit system has been strained, and will be strained, and will need unprecedented readjustments. In the past such phases of uncertainty, sudden impoverishment and disorder as certainly lie ahead of us, have meant for a considerable number of minds a release--or, if you prefer it, a flight--from the habitual and selfish. Types of intense religiosity, of devotion and of endeavour are let loose, and there will be much more likelihood that we may presently find, what it is impossible to find now, a number of devoted men and women ready to give their whole lives, with a quasi-religious enthusiasm, to this great task of peace establishment, finding in such impersonal work a refuge from the disappointments, limitations, losses and sorrows of their personal life--a refuge we need but little in more settled and more prosperous periods. They will be but the outstanding individuals in a very universal quickening. And simultaneously with this quickening of the general imagination by experience there are certain other developments in progress that point very clearly to a change under the pressure of this war of just those institutions of nationality, kingship, diplomacy and inter-State competition that have hitherto stood most effectually in the way of a world pacification. The considerations that seem to point to this third change are very convincing, to my mind.
The real operating cause that is, I believe, going to break
down the deadlock that has hitherto made a supreme court and a federal
government for the world at large a dream, lies in just that possibility of an
"inconclusive peace" which so many people seem to dread.
Because, in the face of a league of the Central European
Powers attempting recuperation, cherishing revenge, dreaming of a renewal of
the struggle, it becomes impossible for the British, the French, the Belgians,
Russians, Italians or Japanese to think any longer of settling their
differences by war among themselves. To do so will mean the creation of
opportunity for the complete reinstatement of German militarism. It will open
the door for a conclusive German hegemony. Now, however clumsy and confused the
diplomacy of these present Allies may be (challenged constantly, as it is, by democracy
and hampered by a free, venal and irresponsible Press in at least three of
their countries), the necessity they will be under will be so urgent and so
evident, that it is impossible to imagine that they will not set up some
permanent organ for the direction and co-ordination of their joint
international relationships. It may be a queerly constituted body at first; it
may be of a merely diplomatic pretension; it may be called a Congress, or any
old name of that sort, but essentially its business will be to conduct a joint
fiscal, military and naval policy, to keep the peace in the Balkans and Asia,
to establish a relationship with China, and organise joint and several
arbitration arrangements with America. And it must develop something more sure
and swift than our present diplomacy. One of its chief concerns will be the
right of way through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, and the watching of the
forces that stir up conflict in the Balkans and the
For precisely similar reasons it seems to me incredible that
the two great Central European Powers should ever fall into sustained conflict
again with one another. They, too, will be forced to create some overriding
body to prevent so suicidal a possibility.
There are more ways than one to the World State, and this second possibility of a post-war conference and a conference of the Allies, growing almost unawares into a pacific organisation of the world, since it goes on directly from existing institutions, since it has none of the quality of a clean break with the past which the idea of an immediate World State and Pax Mundi involves, and more particularly since it neither abolishes nor has in it anything to shock fundamentally the princes, the diplomatists, the lawyers, the statesmen and politicians, the nationalists and suspicious people, since it gives them years in which to change and die out and reappear in new forms, and since at the same time it will command the support of every intelligent human being who gets his mind clear enough from his circumstances to understand its import, is a far more credible hope than the hope of anything coming de novo out of Hague Foundations or the manifest logic of the war.
But, of course, there weighs against these hopes the
possibility that the Allied Powers are too various in their nature, too biased,
too feeble intellectually and imaginatively, to hold together and maintain any
institution for co-operation. The British Press may be too silly not to foster
irritation and suspicion; we may get Carsonism on a larger scale trading on the
resuscitation of dying hatreds; the British and Russian diplomatists may play
annoying tricks upon one another by sheer force of habit. There may be many
troubles of that sort. Even then I do not see that the hope of an ultimate
world peace vanishes. But it will be a Roman world peace, made in
But I will not press this inquiry farther now. It is, as I said at the beginning, a preliminary exploration of one of the great questions with which I propose to play in these articles. The possibility I have sketched is the one that most commends itself to me as probable. After a more detailed examination of the big operating forces at present working in the world, we may be in a position to revise these suggestions with a greater confidence and draw our net of probabilities a little tighter.
The prophet who emerges with the most honour from this war is Bloch. It must be fifteen or sixteen years ago since this gifted Pole made his forecast of the future. Perhaps it is more, for the French translation of his book was certainly in existence before the Boer War. His case was that war between antagonists of fairly equal equipment must end in a deadlock because of the continually increasing defensive efficiency of entrenched infantry. This would give the defensive an advantage over the most brilliant strategy and over considerably superior numbers that would completely discourage all aggression. He concluded that war was played out.
 This chapter was originally a newspaper article. It was written in December, 1915, and published about the middle of January. Some of it has passed from the quality of anticipation to achievement, but I do not see that it needs any material revision on that account.
His book was very carefully studied in
There was also a translation of Bloch into French. In English
a portion of his book was translated for the general reader and published with
a preface by the late Mr. W.T. Stead. It does not seem to have reached the
British military authorities, nor was it published in
But it is manifest now that if the Belgian and French
frontiers had been properly prepared--as they should have been prepared when
the Germans built their strategic railways--with trenches and gun emplacements
and secondary and tertiary lines, the Germans would never have got fifty miles
into either France or Belgium. They would have been held at Liége and in the
Somebody in those marvellous maxims from the dark ages that
seem to form the chief reading of our military experts,
said that the army that entrenches is a defeated army. The silly dictum was
repeated and repeated in the English papers after the battle of the
For long weeks the Allies retreated out of the west of
I do not believe that the Germans ever thought it would come up to date so soon. I believe they thought that they would hustle the French out of Paris, come right up to the Channel at Calais before the end of 1914, and then entrench, produce the submarine attack and the Zeppelins against England, working from Calais as a base, and that they would end the war before the spring of 1915--with the Allies still a good fifteen years behindhand.
I believe the battle of the Marne was the decisive battle of
the war, in that it shattered this plan, and that the rest of the 1914 fighting
The war since that first attempt--admirably planned and
altogether justifiable (from a military point of view, I mean)--of
Bloch has been equally justified in the Anglo-French attempt to get round through Gallipoli. The forces of the India Office have pushed their way through unprepared country towards Bagdad, and are now entrenching in Mesopotamia, but from the point of view of the main war that is too remote to be considered either getting through or getting round; and so too the losses of the German colonies and the East African War are scarcely to be reckoned with in the main war. They have no determining value. There remains the Balkan struggle. But the Balkan struggle is something else; it is something new. It must be treated separately. It is a war of treacheries and brags and appearances. It is not a part of, it is a sequence to, the deadlock war of 1915.
But before dealing with this new development of the latter half of 1915 it is necessary to consider certain general aspects of the deadlock war. It is manifest that the Germans hoped to secure an effective victory in this war before they ran up against Bloch. But reckoning with Bloch, as they certainly did, they hoped that even in the event of the war getting to earth, it would still be possible to produce novelties that would sufficiently neutralise Bloch to secure a victorious peace. With unexpectedly powerful artillery suddenly concentrated, with high explosives, with asphyxiating gas, with a well-organised system of grenade throwing and mining, with attacks of flaming gas, and above all with a vast munition-making plant to keep them going, they had a very reasonable chance of hacking their way through.
Against these prepared novelties the Allies have had to
improvise, and on the whole the improvisation has kept pace with the demands
made upon it. They have brought their military science up to date,
and to-day the disparity in science and equipment between the antagonists has
greatly diminished. There has been no escaping Bloch after all, and the
deadlock, if no sudden peace occurs, can end now in only one thing, the
exhaustion in various degrees of all the combatants and the succumbing of the
most exhausted. The idea of a conclusive end of the traditional pattern to this
war, of a triumphal entry into
There is, of course, one aspect of the Bloch deadlock that the Germans at least have contemplated. If it is not possible to get through or round, it may still be possible to get over. There is the air path.
This idea has certainly taken hold of the French mind, but
The Germans alone have made any sustained attempt to strike
through the air at their enemies beyond the war zone. Their Zeppelin raids upon
It is doubtful, though, if the utmost damage an air raid is
likely to inflict upon
The net result of these air raids is an inflexible determination of the British people rather to die in death grips with German militarism than to live and let it survive. The best chance for the aircraft was at the beginning of the war, when a surprise development might have had astounding results. That chance has gone by. The Germans are racially inferior to both French and English in the air, and the probability of effective blows over the deadlock is on the whole a probability in favour of the Allies. Nor is there anything on or under the sea that seems likely now to produce decisive results. We return from these considerations to a strengthened acceptance of Bloch.
The essential question for the prophet remains therefore the question of which group of Powers will exhaust itself most rapidly. And following on from that comes the question of how the successive stages of exhaustion will manifest themselves in the combatant nations. The problems of this war, as of all war, end as they begin in national psychology.
But it will be urged that this is reckoning without the
Balkans. I submit that the German thrust through the wooded wilderness of
A whole series of new problems are opened up directly we turn to this most troubled region of the Balkans--problems of the value of kingship, of nationality, of the destiny of such cities as Constantinople, which from their very beginning have never had any sort of nationality at all, of the destiny of countries such as Albania, where a tangle of intense tribal nationalities is distributed in spots and patches, or Dalmatia, where one extremely self-conscious nation and language is present in the towns and another in the surrounding country, or Asia Minor, where no definite national boundaries, no religious, linguistic, or social homogeneities have ever established themselves since the Roman legions beat them down.
But all these questions can really be deferred or set aside in our present discussion, which is a discussion of the main war. Whatever surprises or changes this last phase of the Eastern Empire, that blood-clotted melodrama, may involve, they will but assist and hasten on the essential conclusion of the great war, that the Central Powers and their pledged antagonists are in a deadlock, unable to reach a decision, and steadily, day by day, hour by hour, losing men, destroying material, spending credit, approaching something unprecedented, unknown, that we try to express to ourselves by the word exhaustion.
Just how the people who use the word "exhaustion"
so freely are prepared to define it, is a matter for speculation. The idea
seems to be a phase in which the production of equipped forces ceases through
the using up of men or material or both. If the exhaustion is fairly mutual, it
need not be decisive for a long time. It may mean simply an
ebb of vigour on both sides, unusual hardship, a general social and
economic disorganisation and grading down. The fact that a great killing off of
men is implicit in the process, and that the survivors will be largely under
discipline, militates against the idea that the end may come suddenly through a
vigorous revolutionary outbreak. Exhaustion is likely to be a very long and
very thorough process, extending over years. A "war of attrition" may
last into 1918 or 1919, and may bring us to conditions of strain and
deprivation still only very vaguely imagined. What happens in the Turkish
Let us ask now which of the combatants is likely to undergo exhaustion most rapidly, and what is of equal or greater importance, which is likely to feel it first and most? No doubt there is a bias in my mind, but it seems to me that the odds are on the whole heavily against the Central Powers. Their peculiar German virtue, their tremendously complete organisation, which enabled them to put so large a proportion of their total resources into their first onslaught and to make so great and rapid a recovery in the spring of 1915, leaves them with less to draw upon now. Out of a smaller fortune they have spent a larger sum. They are blockaded to a very considerable extent, and against them fight not merely the resources of the Allies, but, thanks to the complete British victory in the sea struggle, the purchasable resources of all the world.
Conceivably the Central Powers will draw upon the resources
of their Balkan and Asiatic allies, but the extent to which they can do that
may very easily be over-estimated. There is a limit to the power for treason of
these supposititious German monarchs that Western folly has permitted to
possess these Balkan thrones--thrones which need never have been thrones at
all--and none of the Balkan peoples is likely to witness with enthusiasm the
complete looting of its country in the German interest by a German court.
Compared with the world behind the Allies the
At present, so far as any judgment is possible, Germany is
feeling the pinch of the war much more even than France, which is habitually
parsimonious, and instinctively cleverly economical, and Russia, which is hardy
The German group, I reckon, therefore, will become exhausted
first. I think, too, that
Never were a people so
disillusioned as the Germans must already be, never has a nation been called
upon for so complete a mental readjustment. Neither conclusive victories nor
defeats have been theirs, but only a slow, vast transition from joyful effort
and an illusion of rapid triumph to hardship, loss and loss and loss of
substance, the dwindling of great hopes, the
realisation of ebb in the tide of national welfare. Now they must fight on
against implacable, indomitable Allies. They are under stresses now as harsh at
least as the stresses of
We know little of the psychology of this new Germany that
has come into being since 1871, but it is doubtful if it will accept defeat,
and still more doubtful how it can evade some ending to the war that will admit
the failure of all its great hopes of Paris subjugated, London humbled, Russia
suppliant, Belgium conquered, the Near East a prey. Such an admission will be a
day of reckoning that German Imperialism will postpone until the last hope of
some breach among the Allies, some saving miracle in the old
Nor can the Pledged Allies consent to a peace that does not
involve the evacuation and compensation of
But these things form only the main outline of a story with
a vast amount of collateral interest. It is to these collateral issues that the
amateur in prophecy must give his attention. It is here that the German will be
induced by his Government to see his compensations. He will be consoled for the
The concluding phase of a process of general exhaustion must
almost inevitably be a game of bluff. Neither side will admit its extremity.
Neither side, therefore, will make any direct proposals to its antagonists nor any open advances to a neutral. But there will be much
inspired peace talk through neutral media, and the
consultations of the anti-German allies will become more intimate and detailed.
Suggestions will "leak out" remarkably from both sides, to
journalists and neutral go-betweens. The Eastern and Western Allies will
probably begin quite soon to discuss an anti-German Zollverein and the
co-ordination of their military and naval organisations in the days that are to
follow the war. A discussion of a Central European Zollverein is already afoot.
A general idea of the possible rearrangement of the European States after the
war will grow up in the common European and American mind; public men on either
side will indicate concordance with this general idea, and some neutral power,
Probably, therefore, the peace negotiations will take the
extraordinary form of two simultaneous conferences--one of the Pledged Allies,
sitting probably in
The broad conditions of a possible peace will begin to get
stated towards the end of 1916, and a certain lassitude will creep over the
operations in the field.... The process of exhaustion will probably have
reached such a point by that time that it will be a primary fact in the
consciousness of common citizens of every belligerent country. The common life
Quickly thereafter the last phase will be developing into
predominance, in which each group of nations will be most concerned, no longer
about victories or conquests, but about securing for itself the best chances of
rapid economic recuperation and social reconstruction. The commercial treaties,
the arrangements for future associated action, made by the great Allies among
themselves will appear more and more important to them,
and the mere question of boundaries less and less. It will dawn upon Europe
that she has already dissipated the resources that have enabled her to levy the
tribute paid for her investments in every quarter of the earth, and that
neither the Germans nor their antagonists will be able for many years to go on
with those projects for world exploitation which lay at the root of the great
war. Very jaded and anaemic nations will sit about the table on which the new map
The war has become a war of exhaustion. One hears a great deal of the idea that "financial collapse" may bring it to an end. A number of people seem to be convinced that a war cannot be waged without money, that soldiers must be paid, munitions must be bought; that for this money is necessary and the consent of bank depositors; so that if all the wealth of the world were nominally possessed by some one man in a little office he could stop the war by saying simply, "I will lend you no more money."
Now, as a matter of fact, money is a power only in so far as people believe in it and Governments sustain it. If a State is sufficiently strong and well organised, its control over the money power is unlimited. If it can rule its people, and if it has the necessary resources of men and material within its borders, it can go on in a state of war so long as these things last, with almost any flimsy sort of substitute for money that it chooses to print. It can enrol and use the men, and seize and work the material. It can take over the land and cultivate it and distribute its products. The little man in the office is only a power because the State chooses to recognise his claim. So long as he is convenient he seems to be a power. So soon as the State is intelligent enough and strong enough it can do without him. It can take what it wants, and tell him to go and hang himself. That is the melancholy ultimate of the usurer. That is the quintessence of "finance." All credit is State-made, and what the State has made the State can alter or destroy.
The owner and the creditor have never had any other power to give or withhold credit than the credit that was given to them. They exist by sufferance or superstition and not of necessity.
It is the habit of overlooking this little flaw in the imperatives of ownership that enables people to say that this war cannot go on beyond such and such a date--the end of 1916 is much in favour just now--because we cannot pay for it. It would be about as reasonable to expect a battle to end because a landlord had ordered the soldiers off his estate. So long as there are men to fight and stuff to fight with the war can go on. There is bankruptcy, but the bankruptcy of States is not like the bankruptcy of individuals. There is no such thing among States as an undischarged bankrupt who is forbidden to carry on. A State may keep on going bankrupt indefinitely and still carry on. It will be the next step in our prophetic exercise to examine the differences between State bankruptcy and the bankruptcy of a subject of the State.
The belligerent Powers are approaching a phase when they will no longer be paying anything like twenty shillings in the pound. In a very definite sense they are not paying twenty shillings in the pound now. That is not going to stop the war, but it involves a string of consequences and possibilities of the utmost importance to our problem of what is coming when the war is over.
The exhaustion that will bring this war to its end at last is a process of destruction of men and material. The process of bankruptcy that is also going on is nothing of the sort. Bankruptcy destroys no concrete thing; it merely writes off a debt; it destroys a financial but not an economic reality. It is, in itself, a mental, not a physical fact. "A" owes "B" a debt; he goes bankrupt and pays a dividend, a fraction of his debt, and gets his discharge. "B's" feelings, as we novelists used to say, are "better imagined than described"; he does his best to satisfy himself that "A" can pay no more, and then "A" and "B" both go about their business again.
In England, if "A" is a sufficiently poor man not to be formidable, and has gone bankrupt on a small scale, he gets squeezed ferociously to extract the last farthing from him; he may find himself in jail and his home utterly smashed up. If he is a richer man, and has failed on a larger scale, our law is more sympathetic, and he gets off much more easily. Often his creditors find it advisable to arrange with him so that he will still carry on with his bankrupt concern. They find it is better to allow him to carry on than to smash him up.
There are countless men in the world living very comfortably indeed, and running businesses that were once their own property for their creditors. There are still more who have written off princely debts and do not seem to be a "ha'p'orth the worse." And their creditors have found a balm in time and philosophy. Bankruptcy is only painful and destructive to small people and helpless people; but then for them everything is painful and destructive; it can be a very light matter to big people; it may be almost painless to a State.
If England went bankrupt in the completest way to-morrow, and repudiated all its debts both as a nation and as a community of individuals, if it declared, if I may use a self-contradictory phrase, a permanent moratorium, there would be not an acre of ploughed land in the country, not a yard of cloth or a loaf of bread the less for that. There would be nothing material destroyed within the State. There would be no immediate convulsion. Use and wont would carry most people on some days before they even began to doubt whether So-and-so could pay his way, and whether there would be wages at the end of the week.
But people who lived upon rent or investments or pensions would presently be very busy thinking how they were going to get food when the butcher and baker insisted upon cash. It would be only with comparative slowness that the bulk of men would realise that a fabric of confidence and confident assumptions had vanished; that cheques and bank notes and token money and every sort of bond and scrip were worthless, that employers had nothing to pay with, shopkeepers no means of procuring stock, that metallic money was disappearing, and that a paralysis had come upon the community.
Such an establishment as a workhouse or an old-fashioned monastery, living upon the produce of its own farming and supplying all its own labour, would be least embarrassed amidst the general perplexity. For it would not be upon a credit basis, but a socialistic basis, a basis of direct reality, and its need for payments would be incidental. And land-owning peasants growing their own food would carry on, and small cultivating occupiers, who could easily fall back on barter for anything needed.
The mass of the population in such a country as England would, however, soon be standing about in hopeless perplexity and on the verge of frantic panic--although there was just as much food to be eaten, just as many houses to live in, and just as much work needing to be done. Suddenly the pots would be empty, and famine would be in the land, although the farms and butchers' shops were still well stocked. The general community would be like an automobile when the magneto fails. Everything would be there and in order, except for the spark of credit which keeps the engine working.
That is how quite a lot of people seem to imagine national bankruptcy: as a catastrophic jolt. It is a quite impossible nightmare of cessation. The reality is the completest contrast. All the belligerent countries of the world are at the present moment quietly, steadily and progressively going bankrupt, and the mass of people are not even aware of this process of insolvency.
An individual when he goes bankrupt is measured by the monetary standard of the country he is in; he pays five or ten or fifteen or so many shillings in the pound. A community in debt does something which is in effect the same, but in appearance rather different. It still pays a pound, but the purchasing power of the pound has diminished. This is what is happening all over the world to-day; there is a rise in prices. This is automatic national bankruptcy; unplanned, though perhaps not unforeseen. It is not a deliberate State act, but a consequence of the interruption of communications, the diversion of productive energy, the increased demand for many necessities by the Government and the general waste under war conditions.
At the beginning of this war England had a certain national
debt; it has paid off none of that original debt; it has added to it
tremendously; so far as money and bankers' records go it still owes and intends
to pay that original debt; but if you translate the language of £.s.d. into
realities, you will find that in loaves or iron or copper or hours of toil, or
indeed in any reality except gold, it owes now, so far as that original debt
goes, far less than it did at the outset. As the war goes on and the rise in
prices continues, the subsequent borrowings and contracts are undergoing a
similar bankrupt reduction. The attempt of the landlord of small weekly and
annual properties to adjust himself to the new conditions by raising rents is
being checked by legislation in
The rest of the loss falls chiefly upon the creditor class, the people with fixed incomes and fixed salaries, the landlords, who have let at long leases, the people with pensions, endowed institutions, the Church, insurance companies, and the like. They are all being scaled down. They are all more able to stand scaling down than the proletarians.
Assuming that it is possible to bring up wages to the level of the higher prices, and that the rise in rents can be checked by legislation or captured by taxation, the rise in prices is, on the whole, a thing to the advantage of the propertyless man as against accumulated property. It writes off the past and clears the way for a fresh start in the future.
An age of cheapness is an old usurers' age. England before
the war was a paradise of ancient usuries; everywhere were great houses and
enclosed parks; the multitude of gentlemen's servants and golf clubs and such
like excrescences of the comfort of prosperous people was perpetually
increasing; it did not "pay" to build labourers' cottages, and the
more expensive sort of automobile had driven the bicycle as a pleasure vehicle
off the roads. Western Europe was running to fat and not to muscle, as
But if that old usurer's age is over, the young usurer's age may be coming. To meet such enormous demands as this war is making there are three chief courses open to the modern State.
The first is to take--to get men by conscription and material by requisition. The British Government takes more modestly than any other in the world; its tradition from Magna Charta onward, the legal training of most of its members, all make towards a reverence for private ownership and private claims, as opposed to the claims of State and commonweal, unequalled in the world's history.
The next course of a nation in need is to tax and pay for what it wants, which is a fractional and more evenly distributed method of taking. Both of these methods raise prices, the second most so, and so facilitate the automatic release of the future from the boarding of the past. So far all the belligerent Governments have taxed on the timid side.
Finally there is the loan. This mortgages the future to the
present necessity, and it has so far been the predominant source of war
credits. It is the method that produces least immediate friction in the State;
it employs all the savings of surplus income that the unrest of civil
enterprise leaves idle; it has an effect of creating property by a process that
destroys the substance of the community. In
At the end of the war
But part, at least, of the bulk of this wealth will be imaginary rather than real because of the rise in prices, in wages, in rent, and in taxation. Most of us who are buying the British and French War Loans have no illusions on that score; we know we are buying an income of diminishing purchasing power. Yet it would be a poor creature in these days when there is scarcely a possible young man in one's circle who has not quite freely and cheerfully staked his life, who was not prepared to consider his investments as being also to an undefined extent a national subscription.
A rise in prices is not, however, the only process that will
check the appearance of a new rich usurer class after the war. There is
something else ahead that has happened already in
Sooner or later, and probably in all cases before 1917, all
the belligerents will be forced to adopt inconvertible paper money for their
internal uses. There will be British assignats or greenbacks. It will seem to many financial sentimentalists almost as though
Depreciation of the currency means, of course, a continuing rise in prices, a continuing writing off of debt. If labour has any real grasp of its true interests it will not resent this. It will merely insist steadfastly on a proper adjustment of its wages to the new standard. On that point, however, it will be better to write later....
Let us see how far we have got in this guessing. We have considered reasons that seem to point to the destruction of a great amount of old property and old debt, and the creation of a great volume of new debt before the end of the war, and we have adopted the ideas that currency will probably have depreciated more and more and prices risen right up to the very end.
There will be by that time a general habit of saving throughout the community, a habit more firmly established perhaps in the propertied than in the wages-earning class. People will be growing accustomed to a dear and insecure world. They will adopt a habit of caution; become desirous of saving and security.
Directly the phase of enormous war loans ends, the new class of rentiers holding the various great new national loans will find themselves drawing this collectively vast income and anxious to invest it. They will for a time be receiving the bulk of the unearned income of the world. Here, in the high prices representing demand and the need for some reinvestment of interest representing supply, we have two of the chief factors that are supposed to be necessary to a phase of business enterprise. Will the economic history of the next few decades be the story of a restoration of the capitalistic system upon a new basis? Shall we all become investors, speculators, or workers toiling our way to a new period of security, cheapness and low interest, a restoration of the park, the enclosure, the gold standard and the big automobile, with only this difference--that the minimum wage will be somewhere about two pounds, and that a five-pound note will purchase about as much as a couple of guineas would do in 1913?
That is practically parallel with what happened in the opening half of the nineteenth century after the Napoleonic wars, and it is not an agreeable outlook for those who love the common man or the nobility of life. But if there is any one principle sounder than another of all those that guide the amateur in prophecy, it is that history never repeats itself. The human material in which those monetary changes and those developments of credit will occur will be entirely different from the social medium of a hundred years ago.
The nature of the State has altered profoundly in the last
century. The later eighteenth and earlier nineteenth centuries constituted a
period of extreme individualism. What were called "economic forces"
had unrestricted play. In the minds of such people as Harriet Martineau and
Herbert Spencer they superseded God. People were no longer reproached for
"flying in the face of
In that state of freedom you got whatever you could in any way you could; you were not your neighbour's keeper, and except that it interfered with the enterprise of pickpockets, burglars and forgers, and kept the dice loaded in favour of landlords and lawyers, the State stood aside from the great drama of human getting. For industrialism and speculation the State's guiding maxim was laissez faire.
The State is now far less aloof and far more constructive.
It is far more aware of itself and a common interest.
The second consideration that forbids us to anticipate any
parallelism of the history of 1915-45 with 1815-45 is the greater lucidity of
the general mind, the fact that all
It is not only that people will have behind them, as a light
upon what is happening, the experiences and discussions of a hundred years, but
that the international situation will be far plainer than it has ever been.
This war has made
The war will not end the conflict of anti-Germany and
So far we have followed this speculation upon fairly firm ground, but now our inquiry must plunge into a jungle of far more difficult and uncertain possibilities. Our next stage brings us to the question of how people and peoples and classes of people are going to react to the new conditions of need and knowledge this war will have brought about, and to the new demands that will be made upon them.
This is really a question of how far they will prove able to get out of the habits and traditions of their former social state, how far they will be able to take generous views and make sacrifices and unselfish efforts, and how far they will go in self-seeking or class selfishness regardless of the common welfare. This is a question we have to ask separately of each great nation, and of the Central Powers as a whole, and of the Allies as a whole, before we can begin to estimate the posture of the peoples of the world in, say, 1946.
Now let me here make a sort of parenthesis on human nature. It will be rather platitudinous, but it is a necessary reminder for what follows.
So far as I have been able to observe, nobody lives steadily at one moral level. If we are wise we shall treat no man and no class--and for the matter of that no nation--as either steadfastly malignant or steadfastly disinterested. There are phases in my life when I could die quite cheerfully for an idea; there are phases when I would not stir six yards to save a human life. Most people fluctuate between such extremes. Most people are self-seeking, but most people will desist from a self-seeking cause if they see plainly and clearly that it is not in the general interest, and much more readily if they also perceive that other people are of the same mind and know that they know their course is unsound.
The fundamental error of orthodox political economy and of Marxian socialism is to assume the inveterate selfishness of everyone. But most people are a little more disposed to believe what it is to their interest to believe than the contrary. Most people abandon with reluctance ways of living and doing that have served them well. Most people can see the neglect of duty in other classes more plainly than they do in their own.
This war has brought back into the everyday human life of
One Labour paper a month or so ago was contrasting Mr.
Asquith's eloquent appeals to the working man to economise and forgo any rise
in wages with the photographs that were appearing simultaneously in the smart
papers of the very smart marriage of Mr. Asquith's daughter. I submit that by
that sort of standard none of us will be blameless. But without any
condemnation, it is easy to understand that the initiative to tax almost to
extinction large automobiles, wedding dresses, champagne, pâté de foie gras and
enclosed parks, instead of gin and water, bank holiday outings and
And having made this parenthesis, I may perhaps go on to point out the peculiar limitations under which various classes will be approaching the phase of reorganisation, without being accused of making this or that class the villain of an anticipatory drama.
Now, three great classes will certainly resist the valiant
reconstruction of economic life with a vigour in exact
proportion to their baseness, stupidity and narrowness of outlook. They will,
as classes, come up for a moral judgment, on whose verdict the whole future of
Western civilisation depends. If they cannot achieve a considerable, an
unprecedented display of self-sacrifice, unselfish wisdom, and constructive
vigour, if the community as a whole can produce no forces sufficient to
restrain their lower tendencies, then the intelligent father had better turn
his children's faces towards the
The first great class is the class that owns and holds land and land-like claims upon the community, from the Throne downward. This Court and land-holding class cannot go on being rich and living rich during the strains of the coming years. The reconstructing world cannot bear it. Whatever rises in rent may occur through the rise in prices, must go to meet the tremendous needs of the State.
This class, which has so much legislative and administrative
power in at least three of the great belligerents--in Great Britain and Germany
perhaps most so--must be prepared to see itself taxed, and must be willing to
assist in its own taxation to the very limit of its statistical increment. The
almost vindictive greed of the landowners that blackened the history of
How far will these men get out of the tradition of their birth and upbringing?
Next comes the great class of
lawyers who, through the idiotic method of voting in use in modern democracies,
are able practically to rule
In order to secure a certain independence and integrity in
One of the most anxious questions that a Briton can ask himself to-day is just how far the gigantic sufferings and still more monstrous warnings of this war have shocked the good gentlemen who must steer the ship of State through the strong rapids of the New Peace out of this forensic levity their training has imposed upon them....
There, again, there are elements of hope. The lawyer has heard much about himself in the past few years. His conscience may check his tradition. And we have a Press--it has many faults, but it is no longer a lawyer's Press....
And the third class which has immediate interests antagonistic to bold reconstructions of our national methods is that vaguer body, the body of investing capitalists, the savers, the usurers, who live on dividends. It is a vast class, but a feeble class in comparison with the other two; it is a body rather than a class, a weight rather than a power. It consists of all sorts of people with nothing in common except the receipt of unearned income....
All these classes, by instinct and the baser kinds of reason also, will be doing their best to check the rise in prices, stop and reverse the advance in wages, prevent the debasement of the circulation, and facilitate the return to a gold standard and a repressive social stability. They will be resisting any comprehensive national reconstruction, any increase in public officials, any "conscription" of land or railways or what not for the urgent civil needs of the State. They will have fighting against these tendencies something in their own consciences, something in public opinion, the tradition of public devotion their own dead sons have revived--and certain other forces.
They will have over against them the obvious urgent necessities of the time.
The most urgent necessity will be to get back the vast moiety of the population that has been engaged either in military service or the making of munitions to productive work, to the production of food and necessary things, and to the restoration of that export trade which, in the case of Great Britain at least, now that her overseas investments have been set off by overseas war debts, is essential to the food supply. There will be coming back into civil life, not merely thousands, but millions of men who have been withdrawn from it. They will feel that they have deserved well of their country. They will have had their imaginations greatly quickened by being taken away from the homes and habits to which they were accustomed. They will have been well fed and inured to arms, to danger, and the chances of death. They will have no illusions about the conduct of the war by the governing classes, or the worshipful heroism of peers and princes. They will know just how easy is courage, and how hard is hardship, and the utter impossibility of doing well in war or peace under the orders of detected fools.
This vast body will constitute a very stimulating congregation of spectators in any attempt on the part of landlord, lawyer and investor to resume the old political mystery dance, in which rents are to be sent up and wages down, while the old feuds of Wales and Ireland, ancient theological and sectarian jealousies and babyish loyalties, and so forth are to be waved in the eyes of the no longer fascinated realist.
"Meanwhile," they will say, with a stiff impatience unusual in their class, "about us?" ...
Here are the makings of internal conflict in every European
How far in each country will imagination triumph over tradition and individualism? How far does the practical bankruptcy of Western civilisation mean a revolutionary smash-up, and a phase that may last for centuries, of disorder and more and more futile conflict? And how far does it mean a reconstruction of human society, within a few score of years, upon sounder and happier lines? Must that reconstruction be preceded by a revolution in all or any of the countries?
To what extent can the world produce the imagination it needs? That, so far, is the most fundamental question to which our prophetic explorations have brought us.
Will the war be followed by a period of great distress,
social disorder and a revolution in
Like most people, I have been trying to form some sort of answer to this question. My state of mind in the last few months has varied from a considerable optimism to profound depression. I have met and talked to quite a number of young men in khaki--ex-engineers, ex-lawyers, ex-schoolmasters, ex-business men of all sorts--and the net result of these interviews has been a buoyant belief that there is in Great Britain the pluck, the will, the intelligence to do anything, however arduous and difficult, in the way of national reconstruction. And on the other hand there is a certain stretch of road between Dunmow and Coggeshall....
That stretch of road is continually jarring with my optimistic thoughts. It is a strongly pro-German piece of road. It supports allegations against Great Britain, as, for instance, that the British are quite unfit to control their own affairs, let alone those of an empire; that they are an incompetent people, a pig-headedly stupid people, a wasteful people, a people incapable of realising that a man who tills his field badly is a traitor and a weakness to his country....
Let me place the case of this high road through
Even at the first glance it impresses one as not being the road that would satisfy an energetic and capable people. It is narrow for a high road, and in the middle of it one is checked by an awkward bend, by cross-roads that are not exactly cross-roads, so that one has to turn two blind corners to get on eastward, and a policeman, I don't know at what annual cost, has to be posted to nurse the traffic across. Beyond that point one is struck by the fact that the south side is considerably higher than the north, that storm water must run from the south side to the north and lie there. It does, and the north side has recently met the trouble by putting down raw flints, and so converting what would be a lake into a sort of flint pudding. Consequently one drives one's car as much as possible on the south side of this road. There is a suggestion of hostility and repartee between north and south side in this arrangement, which the explorer's inquiries will confirm. It may be only an accidental parallelism with profounder fact; I do not know. But the middle of this high road is a frontier. The south side belongs to the urban district of Braintree; the north to the rural district of Bocking.
If the curious inquirer will take pick and shovel he will
find at any rate one corresponding dualism below the surface. He will find a
Bocking water main supplying the houses on the north side and a
To the passing observer the rurality of the Bocking side is
indistinguishable from the urbanity of the
Now to any disinterested observer there lies about the
Braintree-Bocking railway station one community. It has common industries and
common interests. There is no octroi or anything of that sort across the
street. The shops and inns on the Bocking side of the main street are
indistinguishable from those on the
It is also a nuisance to the passing public because of such inconvenience as the asymmetrical main road. It hinders local development and the development of a local spirit. It may, of course, appeal perhaps to the humorous outlook of the followers of Mr. G.K. Chesterton and Mr. Belloc, who believe that this war is really a war in the interests of the Athanasian Creed, fatness, and unrestricted drink against science, discipline, and priggishly keeping fit enough to join the army, as very good fun indeed, good matter for some jolly reeling ballad about Roundabout and Roundabout, the jolly town of Roundabout; but to anyone else the question of how it is that this wasteful Bocking-Braintree muddle, with its two boards, its two clerks, its two series of jobs and contracts, manages to keep on, was even before the war a sufficiently discouraging one.
It becomes now a quite crucial problem. Because the muddle
between the sides of the main road through Bocking and
It is--or shall I write, "it may be"?
That is just the question I do not settle in my mind. I
would like to think that I have hit upon a particularly bad case of entangled
local government. But it happens that whenever I have looked into local affairs
I have found the same sort of waste and--insobriety of arrangement. When I
started, a little while back, to go to
I know perfectly well how unpleasant all this is to read,
this outbreak at two localities that have never done me any personal harm
except a little mud-splashing. But this is a thing that has to be said now,
because we are approaching a crisis when dilatory ways,
muddle, and waste may utterly ruin us. This is the way things have been done in
Let me add at once that it is quite possible that things are
done almost as badly or quite as badly in
And I am sure that there must be the most delightful and picturesque reasons why we have all this overlapping and waste and muddle in our local affairs; why, to take another example, the boundary of the Essex parishes of Newton and Widdington looks as though it had been sketched out by a drunken man in a runaway cab with a broken spring.
This Bocking-Braintree main road is, it happens, an old Stane Street, along which Roman legions marched to clean up the councils and clerks of the British tribal system two thousand years ago, and no doubt an historian could spin delightful consequences; this does not alter the fact that these quaint complications in English affairs mean in the aggregate enormous obstruction and waste of human energy. It does not alter the much graver fact, the fact that darkens all my outlook upon the future, that we have never yet produced evidence of any general disposition at any time to straighten out or even suspend these fumbling intricacies and ineptitudes. Never so far has there appeared in British affairs that divine passion to do things in the clearest, cleanest, least wasteful, most thorough manner that is needed to straighten out, for example, these universal local tangles. Always we have been content with the old intricate, expensive way, and to this day we follow it....
And what I want to know, what I would like to feel much surer about than I do is, is this in our blood? Or is it only the deep-seated habit of long ages of security, long years of margins so ample, that no waste seemed altogether wicked. Is it, in fact, a hopeless and ineradicable trait that we stick to extravagance and confusion?
What I would like to think possible at the present time, up
and down the scale from parish to province, is something of this sort. Suppose
the clerk of
"For two unusual acts Henry Bruère may be remembered by
Suppose the people of
I see nothing of the sort happening. I see everywhere wary, watchful little men, thinking of themselves, thinking of their parish, thinking close, holding tight....
I know that there is a whole web of excuses for all these
complicated, wasteful, and obstructive arrangements of our local government,
these arrangements that I have taken merely as a sample of the general human
way of getting affairs done. For it is affairs at large I am writing about, as
I warned the reader at the beginning. Directly one inquires closely into any
human muddle, one finds all sorts of reasonable rights and objections and
claims barring the way to any sweeping proposals. I can quite imagine that
Bocking has admirable reasons for refusing coalescence with
But what I want to maintain is that these little immediate
claims and rights and vested interests and bits of justice and fairness are no
excuse at all for preventing things being done in the clear, clean, large,
quick way. They never constituted a decent excuse, and now they excuse waste
and delay and inconvenience less than ever. Let us first do things in the sound
way, and then, if we can, let us pet and compensate any disappointed person who
used to profit by their being done roundabout instead of earning an honest
living. We are beginning to agree that reasonably any man may be asked to die
for his country; what we have to recognise is that any man's proprietorship,
interest, claims or rights may just as properly be called upon to die. Bocking
Just consider the work of reconstruction that
In the next year or so the lives of half the population will have to be fundamentally readjusted. Here is work for administrative giants, work for which no powers can be excessive. It will be a task quite difficult enough to do even without the opposition of legal rights, haggling owners, and dexterous profiteers. It would be a giant's task if all the necessary administrative machinery existed now in the most perfect condition. How is this tremendous job going to be done if every Bocking in the country is holding out for impossible terms from Braintree, and every Braintree holding out for impossible terms from Bocking, while the road out remains choked and confused between them; and if every John Smith with a claim is insisting upon his reasonable expectation of profits or dividends, his reasonable solatium and compensation for getting out of the way?
I would like to record my conviction that if the business of this great crisis is to be done in the same spirit, the jealous, higgling, legal spirit that I have seen prevailing in British life throughout my half-century of existence, it will not in any satisfactory sense of the phrase get done at all. This war has greatly demoralised and discredited the governing class in Great Britain, and if big masses of unemployed and unfed people, no longer strung up by the actuality of war, masses now trained to arms and with many quite sympathetic officers available, are released clumsily and planlessly into a world of risen prices and rising rents, of legal obstacles and forensic complications, of greedy speculators and hampered enterprises, there will be insurrection and revolution. There will be bloodshed in the streets and the chasing of rulers.
There will be, if we do seriously attempt to put the new wine of humanity, the new crude fermentations at once so hopeful and so threatening, that the war has released, into the old administrative bottles that served our purposes before the war.
I believe that for old lawyers and old politicians and "private ownership" to handle the great problem of reconstruction after the war in the spirit in which our affairs were conducted before the war is about as hopeful an enterprise as if an elderly jobbing brick-layer, working on strict trade-union rules, set out to stop the biggest avalanche that ever came down a mountain-side. And since I am by no means altogether pessimistic, in spite of my qualmy phases, it follows that I do not believe that the old spirit will necessarily prevail. I do not, because I believe that in the past few decades a new spirit has come into human affairs; that our ostensible rulers and leaders have been falling behind the times, and that in the young and the untried, in, for example, the young European of thirty and under who is now in such multitudes thinking over life and his seniors in the trenches, there are still unsuspected resources of will and capacity, new mental possibilities and new mental habits, that entirely disturb the argument--based on the typical case of Bocking and Braintree--for a social catastrophe after the war.
How best can this new spirit be defined?
It is the creative spirit as distinguished from the legal
spirit; it is the spirit of courage to make and not the spirit that waits and
sees and claims; it is the spirit that looks to the future and not to the past.
It is the spirit that makes Bocking forget that it is not
For everyone there are two diametrically different ways of thinking about life; there is individualism, the way that comes as naturally as the grunt from a pig, of thinking outwardly from oneself as the centre of the universe, and there is the way that every religion is trying in some form to teach, of thinking back to oneself from greater standards and realities. There is the Braintree that is Braintree against England and the world, giving as little as possible and getting the best of the bargain, and there is the Braintree that identifies itself with England and asks how can we do best for the world with this little place of ours, how can we educate best, produce most, and make our roads straight and good for the world to go through.
Every American knows the district that sends its congressman
War does not so much tilt the balance as accentuate the
difference. One rich British landowner sneaks off to
This Braintree-Bocking boundary which runs down the middle
of the road is to be found all over the world. You will find it in
Now I believe that the answer to that last question is "No." And my reason for that answer is the same as my reason for believing that the association of the Pledged Allies will not break up after the war; it is that I believe that this war is going to end not in the complete smashing up and subjugation of either side, but in a general exhaustion that will make the recrudescence of the war still possible but very terrifying.
Mars will sit like a giant above all human affairs for the next two decades, and the speech of Mars is blunt and plain. He will say to us all: "Get your houses in order. If you squabble among yourselves, waste time, litigate, muddle, snatch profits and shirk obligations, I will certainly come down upon you again. I have taken all your men between eighteen and fifty, and killed and maimed such as I pleased; millions of them. I have wasted your substance--contemptuously. Now, mark you, you have multitudes of male children between the ages of nine and nineteen running about among you. Delightful and beloved boys. And behind them come millions of delightful babies. Of these I have scarcely smashed and starved a paltry hundred thousand perhaps by the way. But go on muddling, each for himself and his parish and his family and none for all the world, go on in the old way, stick to-your 'rights,' stick to your 'claims' each one of you, make no concessions and no sacrifices, obstruct, waste, squabble, and presently I will come back again and take all that fresh harvest of life I have spared, all those millions that are now sweet children and dear little boys and youths, and I will squeeze it into red pulp between my hands, I will mix it with the mud of trenches and feast on it before your eyes, even more damnably than I have done with your grown-up sons and young men. And I have taken most of your superfluities already; next time I will take your barest necessities."
So the red god, Mars; and in these days of universal
education the great mass of people will understand plainly now that that is his
message and intention. Men who cannot be swayed by the love of order and
creation may be swayed by the thought of death and destruction.... There, I
think, is the overriding argument that will burst the proprietorships and divisions
and boundaries, the web of ineffectiveness that has held the world so long.
Labour returning from the trenches to its country and demanding promptness,
planning, generous and devoted leaderships and organisation, demanding that the
usurer and financier, the landlord and lawyer shall, if need be, get themselves
altogether out of the way, will have behind its arguments the thought of the
enemy still unsubdued, still formidable, recovering. Both sides will feel that.
This world is a more illuminated world than 1816; a thousand questions between
law and duty have been discussed since then; beyond all comparison we know
better what we are doing. I think the broad side of John Smith (and Sir John
Smith and John Smith, K.C.) will get the better of his narrow ends--and that so
it will be with Jean Dupont and Hans Meyer and the rest of them. There may be
riots here and there; there may be some pretty considerable rows; but I do not
think there is going to be a chaotic and merely destructive phase in
A number of people are saying that this war is to be the end of Individualism. "Go as you please" has had its death-blow. Out of this war, whatever else emerges, there will emerge a more highly organised State than existed before--that is to say, a less individualistic and more socialistic State. And there seems a heavy weight of probability on the side of this view. But there are also a number of less obvious countervailing considerations that may quite possibly modify or reverse this tendency.
In this chapter an attempt is to be made to strike a balance
between the two systems of forces, and guess how much will be private and how
much public in
The prophets who foretell the coming of Socialism base their case on three sets of arguments. They point out, first, the failure of individual enterprise to produce a national efficiency comparable to the partial State Socialism of Germany, and the extraordinary, special dangers inherent in private property that the war has brought to light; secondly, to the scores of approaches to practical Socialism that have been forced upon Great Britain--for example, by the needs of the war; and, thirdly, to the obvious necessities that will confront the British Empire and the Allies generally after the war--necessities that no unorganised private effort can hope to meet effectively.
All these arguments involve the assumption that the general understanding of the common interest will be sufficient to override individual and class motives; an exceedingly doubtful assumption, to say the least of it. But the general understanding of the common interest is most likely to be kept alive by the sense of a common danger, and we have already arrived at the conclusion that Germany is going to be defeated but not destroyed in this war, and that she will be left with sufficient vitality and sufficient resentment and sufficient of her rancid cultivated nationalism to make not only the continuance of the Alliance after the war obviously advisable and highly probable, but also to preserve in the general mind for a generation or so that sense of a common danger which most effectually conduces to the sweeping aside of merely personal and wasteful claims. Into the consequences of this we have now to look a little more closely.
It was the weaknesses of
But the strength of
What this war has brought home to the consciousness of every
intelligent man outside the German system, with such thoroughness as whole
generations of discussion and peace experience could never have achieved, is a
double lesson: that Germany had already gone far to master when she blundered
into the war; firstly, the waste and dangers of individualism, and, secondly,
the imperative necessity of scientific method in public affairs. The waste and
dangers of individualism have had a whole series of striking exemplifications
both in Europe and
The best illustration, perhaps, of the waste that arises out
of individualism is to be found in the extreme dislocation of the privately
owned transit services of
Despite these patent conditions there has been, and is, a
steady increase in the cost of provisions, coal, and every sort of necessity.
This increase means an increase in the cost of production of many commodities,
and so contributes again to the general scarcity. This is the domestic aspect
of a difficulty that has also its military side. It is not sufficient merely to
make munitions; they must also be delivered,
Each great railway company and combination has worked its own areas, and made difficulties and aggressions at the boundaries of its sphere of influence; here are inconvenient junctions and here unnecessary duplications; nearly all the companies come into London, each taking up its own area of expensive land for goods yards, sidings, shunting grounds, and each regardless of any proper correlation with the other; great areas of the County of London are covered with their idle trucks and their separate coal stores; in many provincial towns you will find two or even three railway stations at opposite ends of the town; the streets are blocked by the vans and trolleys of the several companies tediously handing about goods that could be dealt with at a tenth of the cost in time and labour at a central clearing-house, did such a thing exist; and each system has its vast separate staff, unaccustomed to work with any other staff.
Since the war began the Government has taken over the
general direction of this disarticulated machinery, but no one with eyes who
Here, touching every life in the community, is one instance of the muddle that arises naturally out of the individualistic method of letting public services grow up anyhow without a plan, or without any direction at all except the research for private profit.
A second series of deficiencies that the war has brought to
light in the too individualistic
But what of the result? At the
outbreak of the war
Still more extraordinary things came to light in the matter
of the metal supply. Under an individualistic system you may sell to the
highest bidder, and anyone with money from anywhere may come in and buy. Great
supplies of colonial ores were found to be cornered by semi-national German
syndicates. Supplies were held up by these contracts against the necessities of
the Empire. And this was but one instance of many which have shown that, while
industrial development in the Allied countries is still largely a squabbling
confusion of little short-sighted, unscientific, private profit-seeking owners,
So we pass from the fact that individualism is hopeless
muddle to the fact that the individualist idea is one of limitless venality, Who can buy, may control. And
It is only a partial answer to this difficulty to say that a
country that is so nationalist and aggressive as
Not only the newspapers, but the news-agents and booksellers
Muddle and venality do not, however, exhaust the demonstrated vices of individualism. Individualism encourages desertion and treason. Individualism permits base private people to abscond with the national resources and squeeze a profit out of national suffering. In the early stages of the war some bright minds conceived the idea of a corner in drugs. It is not illegal; it is quite the sort of thing that appeals to the individualistic frame of mind as entirely meritorious. As the New Statesman put it recently: "The happy owners of the world's available stock of a few indispensable drugs did not refrain from making, not only the various Governments, but also all the sick people of the world pay double, and even tenfold, prices for what was essential to relieve pain and save life. What fortunes were thus made we shall probably never know, any more than we shall know the tale of the men and women and children who suffered and died because of their inability to pay, not the cost of production of what would have saved them, but the unnecessarily enhanced price that the chances of the market enabled the owners to exact."
And another bright instance of the value of individualism is
the selling of British shipping to neutral buyers just when the country is in
the most urgent need of every ship it can get, and the deliberate transfer to
And perhaps a still more impressive testimony to the
rottenness of these "business men," upon whom certain eccentric
voices call so amazingly to come and govern us, is the incurable distrust they
have sown in the minds of labour. Never was an atmosphere of discipline more
lamentable than that which has grown up in the factories, workshops, and great
privately owned public services of
It is no good for Mr. Lloyd George to attempt to cure the
gathered ill of a century with half an hour or so of eloquence. When
And they find the trick in it as often as not. Smart individualistic "business experience" has been at the draughtsman's elbow. A man in an individualistic system does not escape from class ideas and prejudices by becoming an official. There is profound and bitter wisdom in the deep distrust felt by British labour for both military and industrial conscription.
The breakdown of individualism has been so complete in
The British shipowners, in particular, are reaping enormous
but precarious profits from the war. The blockade of
I believe that the calculations of some of these extreme and
apparently quite unreasonable "pacifists" are right. Before the war
is over there will be a lot of money in the pacifist business. The rich curs of
the West End will join hands with the labour curs of the
There will be no end until these profit-makings are
arrested. The necessary "conscriptions of property" must come about
Two years ago no one would have dared to prophesy the
tremendous rearrangement of manufacturing machinery which is in progress in
It will be as impossible to put back British industrialism
into the factories and forms of the pre-war era as it would be to restore the
Carthaginian Empire. There is a new economic
At the end of this war Great Britain will find herself with this great national factory, this great national organisation of labour, planned, indeed, primarily to make war material, but convertible with the utmost ease to the purposes of automobile manufacture, to transit reconstruction, to electrical engineering, and endless such uses.
In the face of these facts, will any of the Allied Powers be so foolish as to disband this great system of national factories and nationally worked communications? Moreover, we have already risked the prophecy that this war will not end with such conclusiveness as to justify an immediate beating out of our swords into ploughshares. There will be a military as well as a social reason for keeping the national factories in a going state.
What more obvious course, then, than to keep them going by turning them on to manufacture goods of urgent public necessity? There are a number of modern commodities now practically standardised: the bicycle, the cheap watch, the ordinary tradesman's delivery automobile, the farmer's runabout, the country doctor's car, much electric-lighting material, dynamos, and so forth. And also, in a parallel case, there is shipbuilding. The chemical side of munition work can turn itself with no extreme difficulty to the making of such products as dyes.
We face the fact, then, that either the State must go on with this production, as it can do, straight off from the signing of peace, converting with a minimum of friction, taking on its soldiers as they are discharged from the army as employees with a minimum waste of time and a minimum of social disorder, and a maximum advantage in the resumption of foreign trade, or there will be a dangerous break-up of the national factory system, a time of extreme chaos and bitter unemployment until capital accumulates for new developments. The risks of social convulsion will be enormous. And there is small hope that the Central Powers, and particularly industrial Germany, will have the politeness to wait through the ten or twelve years of economic embarrassment that a refusal to take this bold but obviously advantageous step into scientific Socialism will entail.
But the prophet must be on his guard against supposing that, because a thing is highly desirable, it must necessarily happen; or that, because it is highly dangerous, it will be avoided. This bold and successful economic reconstruction upon national lines is not inevitable merely because every sound reason points us in that direction. A man may be very ill, a certain drug may be clearly indicated as the only possible remedy, but it does not follow that the drug is available, that the doctor will have the sense to prescribe it, or the patient the means to procure it or the intelligence to swallow it.
The experience of history is that nations do not take the
obviously right course, but the obviously wrong one. The present prophet knows
The darkest shadow upon the outlook of European civilisation at the present time is not the war; it is the failure of any co-operative spirit between labour and the directing classes. The educated and leisured classes have been rotten with individualism for a century; they have destroyed the confidence of the worker in any leadership whatever. Labour stands apart, intractable. If there is to be any such rapid conversion of the economic machinery as the opportunities and necessities of this great time demand, then labour must be taken into the confidence of those who would carry it through. It must be reassured and enlightened. Labour must know clearly what is being done; it must be an assenting co-operator. The stride to economic national service and Socialism is a stride that labour should be more eager to take than any other section of the community.
The first step in reassuring labour must be to bring the greedy private owner and the speculator under a far more drastic discipline than at present. The property-owning class is continually accusing labour of being ignorant, suspicious, and difficult; it is blind to the fact that it is itself profit-seeking by habit, greedy, conceited, and half educated.
Every step in the mobilisation of
This conflict of individualistic enterprise and class
suspicion against the synthesis of the public welfare is not peculiar to Great
Britain; it is probably going on with local variations in Germany, Russia, Italy,
France, and, indeed, in every combatant country. Because of the individualistic
forces and feelings, none of us, either friends or enemies, are really getting
anything like our full possible result out of our national efforts. But in
As I sit playing at prophecy, and turn over the multitudinous impressions of the last year in my mind, weighing the great necessities of the time against obstacles and petty-mindedness, I become more and more conscious of a third factor that is neither need nor obstruction, and that is the will to get things right that has been liberated by the war.
The new spirit is still but poorly expressed, but it will find expression. The war goes on, and we discuss this question of economic reconstruction as though it was an issue that lay between the labour that has stayed behind and the business men, for the most part old men with old habits of mind, who have stayed behind.
The real life of
When that third factor of the problem is brought in the outlook of the horoscope improves. The spirit of the war may be counted upon to balance and prevail against this spirit of individualism, this spirit of suspicion and disloyalty, which I fear more than anything else in the world.
I believe in the young France, young England, and young Russia this war is making, and so I believe that every European country will struggle along the path that this war has opened to a far more completely organised State than has existed ever before. The Allies will become State firms, as Germany was, indeed, already becoming before the war; setting private profit aside in the common interest, handling agriculture, transport, shipping, coal, the supply of metals, the manufacture of a thousand staple articles, as national concerns.
In the face of the manifest determination of the Central Powers to do as much, the Allies will be forced also to link their various State firms together into a great allied trust, trading with a common interest and a common plan with Germany and America and the rest of the world.... Youth and necessity will carry this against selfishness, against the unimaginative, against the unteachable, the suspicious, the "old fool."
But I do not venture to prophesy that this will come about
as if it were a slick and easy deduction from present circumstances. Even in
The reorganisation of the European States will come about clumsily and ungraciously. At every point the sticker will be found sticking tight, holding out to be bought off, holding out for a rent or a dividend or a share, holding out by mere instinct. At every turn, too, the bawler will be loud and active, bawling suspicions, bawling accusations, bawling panic, or just simply bawling. Tricks, peculation, obstinacies, vanities--after this war men will still be men. But I do believe that through all the dust and din, the great reasons in the case, the steady constructive forces of the situation, will carry us.
I believe that out of the ruins of the nineteenth century system of private capitalism that this war has smashed for ever, there will arise, there does even now arise, in this strange scaffolding of national munition factories and hastily nationalised public services, the framework of a new economic and social order based upon national ownership and service.
Let us now recapitulate a little and see how far we have got in constructing a picture of the European community as it will be in fifteen or twenty years' time. Nominally it will be little more of a Socialist State than it is to-day, but, as a matter of fact, the ships, the railways, the coal and metal supply, the great metal industries, much engineering, and most agriculture, will be more or less completely under collective ownership, and certainly very completely under collective control. This does not mean that there will have been any disappearance of private property, but only that there will have been a very considerable change in its character; the owner will be less of controller but more of a creditor; he will be a rentier or an annuitant.
The burthen of this class upon the community will not be relatively quite so heavy as it would otherwise have been, because of a very considerable rise in wages and prices.
In a community in which all the great initiatives have been assumed by the State, the importance of financiers and promoters will have diminished relatively to the importance of administrative officials; the opportunities of private exploitation, indeed, will have so diminished that there will probably be far less evidence of great concentrations of private wealth in the European social landscape than there was before the war.
On the other hand, there will be an enormously increased rentier class drawing the interest of the war loans from the community, and maintaining a generally high standard of comfort. There will have been a great demand for administrative and technical abilities and a great stimulation of scientific and technical education. By 1926 we shall be going about a world that will have recovered very largely from the impoverishment of the struggle; we shall tour in State-manufactured automobiles upon excellent roads, and we shall live in houses equipped with a national factory electric light installation, and at every turn we shall be using and consuming the products of nationalised industry--and paying off the National Debt simultaneously, and reducing our burden of rentiers.
At the same time our boys will be studying science in their
schools more thoroughly than they do now, and they will in many cases be
learning Russian instead of Greek or German. More of our boys will be going
into the public service, and fewer thinking of private business, and they will
be going into the public service, not as clerks, but as engineers, technical
chemists, manufacturers, State agriculturists, and the like. The public service
will be less a service of clerks and more a service of practical men. The ties
So much of our picture we may splash in now. Much that is quite essential remains to be discussed. So far we have said scarcely a word about the prospects of party politics and the problems of government that arise as the State ceases to be a mere impartial adjudicator between private individuals, and takes upon itself more and more of the direction of the general life of the community.
The riddle of administration is the most subtle of all those that the would-be prophet of the things that are coming must attempt. We see the great modern States confronted now by vast and urgent necessities, by opportunities that may never recur. Individualism has achieved its inevitable failure; "go as you please" in a world that also contained aggressive militarism, has broken down. We live in a world of improvised State factories, commandeered railways, substituted labour and emergency arrangements. Our vague-minded, lax, modern democracy has to pull itself together, has to take over and administer and succeed with a great system of collective functions, has to express its collective will in some better terms than "go as you please," or fail.
And we find the affairs of nearly every great democratic State in the hands of a class of men not specially adapted to any such constructive or administrative work.
I am writing here now chiefly of the Western Allies.
It is with a modest blush that the present prophet recapitulates these charges. So early as the year 1902 he was lifting up his voice, not exactly in the wilderness but at least in the Royal Institution, against the legal as compared with the creative or futurist type of mind. The legal mind, he insisted, looks necessarily to the past. It is dilatory because it has no sense of coming things, it is uninventive and wasteful, it does not create, it takes advantage. It is the type of mind least able, under any circumstances, to organise great businesses, to plan campaigns, to adventure or achieve. "Wait and see" crystallises its spirit. Its resistance is admirable, and it has no "go." Nevertheless there is a tendency for power to gravitate in all democratic countries to the lawyer.
In the British system the normal faults of the lawyer are
enhanced, and his predominance intensified, by certain peculiarities of our
system. In the first place, he belongs to a guild of exceptional power. In
The judges, moreover, in the Anglo-Saxon communities are
appointed from among the leading barristers, an arrangement that a child can
see is demoralising and inadvisable. And in
The national consequences of this state of affairs have been only too manifest throughout the conduct of the war. The British Government has developed all the strength and all the weakness of the great profession it represents. It has been uninventive, dilatory, and without initiative; it has been wasteful and evasive; but it has not been wanting in a certain eloquence and dignity, it has been wary and shrewd, and it has held on to office with the concentrated skill and determination of a sucker-fish. And the British mind, with a concentration and intensity unprecedented before the war, is speculating how it can contrive to get a different sort of ruler and administrator at work upon its affairs.
There is a disposition in the Press, and much of the private
talk one hears, to get rid of lawyers from the control of national affairs
altogether, to substitute "business men" or scientific men or
"experts." That way lies dictatorship and
Caesarism. And even
This is so much the case, that when the London Times turns in despair from a government of lawyers and looks about for an alternative, the first figure that presents itself is that distinguished advocate Sir Edward Carson!
But there is a difference between recognising that some sort of lawyer-politician is unavoidable and agreeing that the existing type of lawyer who is so largely accountable for the massive slowness, the confused action, the slovenliness rather than the weakness of purpose, shown by Great Britain in this war, is the only possible type, The British system of education and legal organisation is not the last word of human wisdom in these matters.
The real case we British have against our lawyers, if I may adopt an expressive colloquialism, is not that they are lawyers, but that they are such infernal lawyers. They trail into modern life most of the faults of a mediaeval guild. They seem to have no sense of the State they could develop, no sense of the future they might control. Their law and procedure has never been remodelled upon the framework of modern ideas; their minds are still set to the tune of mediaeval bickerings, traditionalism, and State blindness. They are mystery dealers, almost unanimously they have resisted giving the common man the protection of a code.
But while everyone would be shocked at some great doctor, or some great research institution, in these days of urgent necessity spending two or three weeks on the minor ailments of some rich person's lapdog, nobody is scandalised at the spectacle of Sir Edward Carson and a costly law court spending long days upon the sordid disputes that centre upon young Master Slingsby's ear--whether it is the Slingsby family ear or the ear of a supposititious child--a question that any three old women might be trusted to settle. After that he rests for a fortnight and recuperates, and returns--to take up a will case turning upon the toy rabbits and suchlike trifles which entertained the declining years of a nonagenarian. This, when we are assured that the country awaits Sir Edward as its Deliverer. It is as if Lord Kitchener took a month off to act at specially high rates for the "movies." Our standard for the lawyer is older and lower than it is for other men.
There is no more reason nowadays why a lawyer should look to advocacy as a proper use of his knowledge than that a doctor should make private poisoning the lucrative side of his profession. There is no reason why a court of law should ignore the plain right of the commonweal to intervene in every case between man and man. There is every reason why trivial disputes about wills and legitimacy should not be wasting our national resources at the present time, when nearly every other form of waste is being restrained. The sound case against the legal profession in Anglo-Saxon countries is not that it is unnecessary, but that it is almost incredibly antiquated, almost incredibly careless of the public well-being, and that it corrupts or dwarfs all the men who enter it.
Our urgent need is not so much to get rid of the lawyer from our affairs as to get rid of the wig and gown spirit and of the special pleader, and to find and develop the new lawyer, the lawyer who is not an advocate, who is not afraid of a code, who has had some scientific education, and whose imagination has been quickened by the realisation of life as creative opportunity. We want to emancipate this profession from its ancient guild restrictions--the most anti-social and disastrous of all such restrictions--to destroy its disgraceful traditions of over-payment and fee-snatching, to insist upon a scientific philosophical training for its practitioners, to make the practice of advocacy a fall from grace, and to bar professional advocates from the bench.
In the British trenches now there must be many hundreds of fine young lawyers, still but little corrupted, who would be only too glad to exchange the sordid vulgarities and essential dishonour of a successful lawyer's career under the old conditions for lives of service and statecraft....
No observer of the general trend of events in
The widely prevalent discontent with the part played by the lawyer in the affairs of all the Western Allies is certain to develop into a vigorous agitation for legal reconstruction. In the case of every other great trade union the war has exacted profound and vital concessions. The British working men, for example, have abandoned scores of protective restrictions upon women's labour, upon unskilled labour, for which they have fought for generations; they have submitted to a virtual serfdom that the nation's needs might be supplied; the medical profession has sent almost too large a proportion of its members to the front; the scientific men, the writers, have been begging to be used in any capacity at any price or none; the Ministry of Munitions is full of unpaid workers, and so on.
The British legal profession and trade union alone has made no sign of any disposition to relax its elaborate restrictions upon the labour of amateurs and women, or to abate one jot or one tittle of its habitual rewards. There has been no attempt to reduce the costly law officers of the Government, for example, or to call in the help of older men or women to release law officers who are of military experience or age.
And I must admit that there are small signs of the advent of
the "new lawyer," at whose possibility I have just flung a hopeful
glance, to replace the existing mass of mediaeval unsoundness. Barristers seem
to age prematurely--at least in
Nevertheless, Great Britain is as yet only beginning to feel the real stresses of the war; she is coming into the full strain a year behind France, Germany, and Russia; and after the war there lies the possibility of still more violent stresses; so that what is as yet a mere cloud of criticism and resentment at our lawyer-politicians and privileged legal profession may gather to a great storm before 1918 or 1919.
I am inclined to foretell as one most highly probable development of the present vague but very considerable revolt against the lawyer in British public life, first, some clumsy proposals or even attempts to leave him out, and use "business men," soldiers, admirals, dictators, or men of science, in his place--which is rather like throwing away a blottesque fountain-pen and trying to write with a walking-stick or a revolver or a flash-light--and then when that is found to be impossible, a resolute attempt to clean and reconstitute the legal profession on modern and more honourable lines; a movement into which, quite possibly, a number of the younger British lawyers, so soon as they realise that the movement is good enough to risk careers upon, may throw themselves. A large share in such a reform movement, if it occurs, will be brought about by the Press; by which I mean not simply the periodical Press, but all books and contemporary discussion. It is only by the natural playing off of Press against lawyer-politician that democratic States can ever come to their own.
And that brings me to the second part of this question, which is whether, quite apart from the possible reform and spiritual rebirth of the legal profession, there is not also the possibility of balancing and correcting its influence. In ancient Hebrew history--it may be a warning rather than a precedent--there were two great forces, one formal, conservative and corrupting, the other undisciplined, creative, and destructive; the first was the priest, the second the prophet. Their interaction is being extraordinarily paralleled in the Anglo-Saxon democracies by the interaction of lawyer-politician and Press to-day.
If the lawyer-politician is unavoidable, the Press is
indispensable. It is not in the clash and manoeuvres and mutual correction of
party, but in the essential conflict of political authority on the one hand and
Press on the other that the future of democratic government apparently lies. In
the clearer, simpler case of
The lawyer-politician and the Press are as it were the right
and left hands of a modern democracy. The war has brought this out clearly. It
has ruptured the long-weakened bonds that once linked this and that newspaper
with this and that party. For years the Press of all the Western democracies
has been drifting slowly away from the tradition--it lasted longest and was
developed most completely in
In the novels of Disraeli the Press appears as an
ambiguously helpful person who is asked out to dinner, who is even admitted to
week-end conferences, by the political great. He takes his orders from the Whig
peers or the Tory peers. At his greatest he advises them respectfully. But that
was in the closing days of the British oligarchy; that was before modern
democracy had begun to produce its characteristic political forms. It is not so
very much more than a century ago that
The old oligarchy established the tradition of her
diplomacy. Illiberal at home, it was liberal abroad;
It is the way with all human institutions; they remain in
appearance long after they have passed away in reality. It is on record that
the Roman senate still thought
Now there is considerable validity in this claim. It is easy to say that a paper may be bought by any proprietor and set to put what he chooses into the public mind. As a matter of fact, buying a newspaper is far more costly and public a proceeding than buying a politician. And if on the one hand the public has no control over what is printed in a paper, it has on the other the very completest control over what is read. A politician is checked by votes cast once in several years, a newspaper is checked by sales that vary significantly from day to day. A newspaper with no circulation is a newspaper that does not matter; a few weeks will suffice to show if it has carried its public with it or gone out of influence. It is absurd to speak of a newspaper as being less responsible than a politician.
Nevertheless, the influence of a great newspaper is so much greater than that of any politician, and its power more particularly for mischief--for the creation of panic conditions, for example--so much swifter, that it is open to question whether the Press is at present sufficiently held to its enormous responsibilities.
Let us consider its weaknesses at the present time, let us ask what changes in its circumstances are desirable in the public interest, and what are likely to come about. We have already reckoned upon the Press as a chief factor in the adequate criticism, cleansing, and modernisation of the British lawyer-politician; is there any power to which we may look for the security of the Press? And I submit the answer is the Press. For while the legal profession is naturally homogeneous, the Press is by nature heterogeneous. Dog does not eat dog, nor lawyer, lawyer; but the newspapers are sharks and cannibals, they are in perpetual conflict, the Press is a profession as open as the law is closed; it has no anti-social guild feeling; it washes its dirty linen in public by choice and necessity, and disdains all professional etiquette. Few people know what criticisms of the Lord Chief Justice may have ripened in the minds of Lord Halsbury or Sir Edward Carson, but we all know, to a very considerable degree of accuracy, the worst of what this great journalist or group of newspaper proprietors thinks of that.
We have, therefore, considerable reason for regarding the Press as being, in contrast with the legal profession, a self-reforming body. In the last decade there has been an enormous mass of criticism of the Press by the Press. There has been a tendency to exaggerate its irresponsibility. A better case is to be made against it for what I will call, using the word in its least offensive sense, its venality. By venality I mean the fact, a legacy from the now happily vanishing age of individualism, that in theory and law at least anyone may own a newspaper and sell it publicly or secretly to anyone, that its circulation and advertisement receipts may be kept secret or not as the proprietors choose, and that the proprietor is accountable to no one for any exceptional incomings or any sudden fluctuations in policy.
A few years ago we were all discussing who should buy The Times; I do not know what chances an agent of the Kaiser might not have had if he had been sufficiently discreet. This venality will be far more dangerous to the Allied countries after the war than during its continuance. So long as the state of war lasts there are prompt methods available for any direct newspaper treason, and it is in the neutral countries only that the buying and selling of papers against the national interest has occurred to any marked extent.
Directly peace is signed, unless we provide for the event
beforehand, our Press will pass under neutral conditions. There will be nothing
to prevent, for example, any foreseeing foreign power coming into
So I spread out the considerations that I think justify our forecasting, in a very changed Great Britain and a changed Europe, firstly, a legal profession with a quickened conscience, a sense of public function and a reformed organisation, and, secondly, a Press, which is recognised and held accountable in law and in men's minds, as an estate of the realm, as something implicitly under oath to serve the State. I do not agree with Professor Michel's pessimistic conclusion that peace will bring back exacerbated party politics and a new era of futility to the democratic countries. I believe that the tremendous demonstration of this war (a demonstration that gains weight with every week of our lengthening effort), of the waste and inefficiency of the system of 1913-14, will break down at last even the conservatism of the most rigidly organised and powerful and out-of-date of all professions.
It is not only that I look to the indignation and energy of
intelligent men who are outside our legal and political system to reform it,
but to those who are in it now. A man may be quietly parasitic upon his mother,
and yet incapable of matricide. So much of our national energy and ability has
been attracted to the law in Great Britain that our nation, with our lawyers in
modern clothing instead of wigs and gowns, lawyers who have studied science and
social theory instead of the spoutings of Cicero and the loquacious artfulness
of W.E. Gladstone, lawyers who look forward at the destiny of their country
instead of backward and at the markings on their briefs, may yet astonish the
world. The British lawyer really holds the future of the
To these two sorts of men the dim spirit of the nation looks for such leading as a democracy can follow. To them the men with every sort of special ability, the men of science, the men of this or that sort of administrative ability and experience, the men of creative gifts and habits, every sort of man who wants the world to get on, look for the removal (or the ingenious contrivance) of obstructions and entanglements, for the allaying (or the fomentation) of suspicion, misapprehension, and ignorant opposition, for administration (or class blackmail).
Yet while I sit as a prophetic amateur weighing these impalpable forces of will and imagination and habit and interest in lawyer, pressman, maker and administrator, and feeling by no means over-confident of the issue, it dawns upon me suddenly that there is another figure present, who has never been present before in the reckoning up of British affairs. It is a silent figure. This figure stands among the pressmen and among the lawyers and among the workers; for a couple of decades at least he will be everywhere in the British system; he is young and he is uniformed in khaki, and he brings with him a new spirit into British life, the spirit of the new soldier, the spirit of subordination to a common purpose....
 In "An Englishman Looks at the World," a companion volume to the present one, which was first published by Messrs. Cassell early in 1914, and is now obtainable in a shilling edition, the reader will find a full discussion of the probable benefit of proportional representation in eliminating the party hack from political life. Proportional representation would probably break up party organisations altogether, and it would considerably enhance the importance and responsibility of the Press. It would do much to accelerate the development of the state of affairs here foreshadowed, in which the rôle of government and opposition under the party system will be played by elected representatives and Press respectively.
Some few months ago Mr. Harold Spender, in the Daily News,
was calling attention to a very significant fact indeed. The higher education
For my own part, as the father of two sons who are at present in mid-school, I hope with all my heart that they will not. I hope that the Oxford and Cambridge of unphilosophical classics and Little-go Greek for everybody, don's mathematics, bad French, ignorance of all Europe except Switzerland, forensic exercises in the Union Debating Society, and cant about the Gothic, the Oxford and Cambridge that turned boys full of life and hope and infinite possibility into barristers, politicians, mono-lingual diplomatists, bishops, schoolmasters, company directors, and remittance men, are even now dead.
Quite recently I passed through
There never was before, there never may be again, so wonderful an opportunity for a cleaning-up and sweeping-out of those two places, and for a profitable new start in British education.
The cessation of
Now is the time to ask what sort of training should a
university give to produce the ruling, directing, and leading men which it
exists to produce? Upon that
Now surely the chief things that are needed in the education of a ruling class are these--first, the selection and development of Character, then the selection and development of Capacity, and, thirdly, the imparting of Knowledge upon broad and comprehensive lines, and the power of rapidly taking up and using such detailed knowledge as may be needed for special occasions. It is upon the first count that the British schools and universities have been most open to criticism. We have found the British university-trained class under the fiery tests of this war an evasive, temporising class of people, individualistic, ungenerous, and unable either to produce or obey vigorous leadership. On the whole, it is a matter for congratulation, it says wonderful things for the inherent natural qualities of the English-speaking peoples, that things have proved no worse than they are, considering the nature of the higher education under which they have suffered.
Consider in what that educational process has consisted. Its
backbone has been the teaching of Latin by men who can read, write, and speak
it rather worse than a third-rate Babu speaks English, and of Ancient Greek by
teachers who at best half know this fine lost language. They do not expect any
real mastery of either tongue by their students, and naturally, therefore, no
real mastery is ever attained. The boys and young men just muff about at it for
three times as long as would be needed to master completely both those tongues
if they had "live" teachers, and so they acquire habits of busy futility
and petty pedantry in all intellectual processes that haunt them throughout
life. There are also sterile mathematical studies that never get from
"exercises" to practice. There is a pretence
of studying philosophy based on Greek texts that few of the teachers and none
of the taught can read comfortably, and a certain amount of history. The
In this manner, through all the most sensitive and receptive years of life, our boys have been trained in "how not to get there," in a variety of disconnected subjects, by men who have never "got there," and it would be difficult to imagine any curriculum more calculated to produce a miscellaneous incompetence. They have also, it happens, received a certain training in savoir faire through the collective necessities of school life, and a certain sharpening in the arts of advocacy through the debating society. Except for these latter helps, they have had to face the world with minds neither more braced, nor more trained, nor more informed than any "uneducated" man's.
Surely the first condition that should be laid down for the
new education in
French and German in the case of the English, and English in
the case of the French and Russians, are essentially governess languages; any
intelligent boy or girl from a reasonably prosperous home ought to be able to
read, write, and speak either before fifteen; they are to be taken by the way
rather than regarded as a fundamental part of education. The French, German, or
English literature and literary development up to and including contemporary
work is, of course, an entirely different matter. But there can be no doubt of
the great educational value of some highly inflected and well-developed
language taught by men to whom it is a genuine means of expression. Educational
needs and public necessity point alike to such languages as Russian or, in the
If Great Britain means business after this war, if she is to do her duty by the Eastern world she controls, she will not stick at the petty expense of getting a few hundreds of good Russian and Hindu teachers into the country, and she will place Russian and Hindustani upon at least an equal footing with Greek in all her university and competitive examinations. Moreover, it is necessary to set a definite aim of application before university mathematical teaching. As the first condition of character-building in all these things, the student should do what he ostensibly sets out to do. No degree and no position should be attainable by half accomplishment.
Of course, languages and mathematics do not by any means round off the education of a man of the leading classes. There is no doubt much exercise in their attainment, much value in their possession. But the essence of the higher education is now, as it always has been, philosophy; not the antiquated pretence of "reading" Plato and Aristotle, but the thorough and subtle examination of those great questions of life that most exercise and strengthen the mind. Surely that is the essential difference of the "educated" and the "common" man. The former has thought, and thought out thoroughly and clearly, the relations of his mind to the universe as a whole, and of himself to the State and life. A mind untrained in swift and adequate criticism is essentially an uneducated mind, though it has as many languages as a courier and as much computation as a bookie.
And what is our fundamental purpose in all this reform of our higher education? It is neither knowledge nor technical skill, but to make our young men talk less and think more, and to think more swiftly, surely, and exactly. For that we want less debating society and more philosophy, fewer prizes for forensic ability and more for strength and vigour of analysis. The central seat of character is the mind. A man of weak character thinks vaguely, a man of clear intellectual decisions acts with precision and is free from vacillation. A country of educated men acts coherently, smites swiftly, plans ahead; a country of confused education is a country of essential muddle.
It is as the third factor in education that the handling and experience of knowledge comes, and of all knowledge that which is most accessible, most capable of being handled with the greatest variety of educational benefit, so as to include the criticism of evidence, the massing of facts, the extraction and testing of generalisations, lies in the two groups of the biological sciences and the exact sciences. No doubt a well-planned system of education will permit of much varied specialisation, will, indeed, specialise those who have special gifts from a very early age, will have corners for Greek, Hebrew, Sanscrit, philology, archaeology, Christian theology, and so on, and so on; nevertheless, for that great mass of sound men of indeterminate all-round ability who are the intellectual and moral backbone of a nation, it is in scientific studies that their best training lies, studies most convenient to undertake and most readily applied in life. From either of the two groups of the sciences one may pass on to research or to technical applications leading directly to the public service. The biological sciences broaden out through psychology and sociology to the theory and practice of law, and to political life. They lead also to medical and agricultural administration. The exact sciences lead to the administrative work of industrialism, and to general economics.
These are the broad, clear lines of the educational necessities of a modern community, plain enough to see, so that every man who is not blinded by prejudice and self-interest can see them to-day. We have now before us a phase of opportunity in educational organisation that will never recur again. Now that the apostolic succession of the old pedagogy is broken, and the entire system discredited, it seems incredible that it can ever again be reconstituted in its old seats upon the old lines. In these raw, harsh days of boundless opportunity, the opportunity of the new education, because it is the most fundamental, is assuredly the greatest of all.
To discuss the effect of this war upon the relations of men and women to each other is to enter upon the analysis of a secular process compared with which even the vast convulsions and destructions of this world catastrophe appear only as jolts and incidents and temporary interruptions. There are certain matters that sustain a perennial development, that are on a scale beyond the dramatic happenings of history; wars, the movements of peoples and races, economic changes, such things may accelerate or stimulate or confuse or delay, but they cannot arrest the endless thinking out, the growth and perfecting of ideas, upon the fundamental relationships of human Beings. First among such eternally progressive issues is religion, the relationship of man to God; next in importance and still more immediate is the matter of men's relations to women. In such matters each phase is a new phase; whatever happens, there is no going back and beginning over again. The social life, like the religious life, must grow and change until the human story is at an end.
So that this war involves, in this as in so many matters, no fundamental set-back, no reversals nor restorations. At the most it will but realise things already imagined, release things latent. The nineteenth century was a period of unprecedented modification of social relationships; but great as these changes were, they were trivial in comparison with the changes in religious thought and the criticism of moral ideals. Hell was the basis of religious thinking in A.D. 1800, and the hangman was at the back of the law; in 1900 both Hell and the hangman seemed on the verge of extinction. The creative impulse was everywhere replacing fear and compulsion in human motives. The opening decade of the twentieth century was a period of unprecedented abundance in everything necessary to human life, of vast accumulated resources, of leisure and release. It was also, because of that and because of the changed social and religious spirit, a period of great social disorganisation and confused impulses.
We British can already look back to the opening half of 1914 as to an age gone for ever. Except that we were all alive then and can remember, it has become now almost as remote, almost as "historical," as the days before the French Revolution. Our days, our methods and reactions, are already so different. The greater part of the freedom of movement, the travel and going to and fro, the leisure, the plenty and carelessness, that distinguished early twentieth century life from early nineteenth century life, has disappeared. Most men are under military discipline, and every household economises. The whole British people has been brought up against such elementary realities of need, danger, and restraint as it never realised before. We discover that we had been living like Olympians in regard to worldly affairs, we had been irresponsibles, amateurs. Much of that fatness of life, the wrappings and trimmings of our life, has been stripped off altogether. That has not altered the bones of life; it has only made them plainer; but it has astonished us as much as if looking into a looking-glass one suddenly found oneself a skeleton. Or a diagram.
What was going on before this war in the relations of men and women is going on still, with more rapidity perhaps, and certainly with more thoroughness. The war is accentuating, developing, defining. Previously our discussions and poses and movements had merely the air of seeking to accentuate and define. What was apparently being brought about by discursive efforts, and in a mighty controversy and confusion, is coming about now as a matter of course.
Before the war, in the British community as in most civilised communities, profound changes were already in progress, changes in the conditions of women's employment, in the legal relations of husband and wife, in the political status of women, in the status of illegitimate children, in manners and customs affecting the sexes. Every civilised community was exhibiting a falling birth-rate and a falling death-rate, was changing the quality of its housing, and diminishing domestic labour by organising supplies and developing, appliances. That is to say, that primary human unit, the home, was altering in shape and size and frequency and colour and effect. A steadily increasing proportion of people were living outside the old family home, the home based on maternity and offspring, altogether. A number of us were doing our best to apprehend the summation of all this flood of change. We had a vague idea that women were somehow being "emancipated," but just what this word meant and what it implied were matters still under exploration. Then came the war. For a time it seemed as if all this discussion was at an end, as if the problem itself had vanished.
But that was only a temporary distraction of attention. The process of change swirled into new forms that did not fit very easily into the accepted formulae, swirled into new forms and continued on its way. If the discussion ceased for a time, the process of change ceased not at all. Matters have travelled all the farther in the last two years for travelling mutely. The questions between men and women are far more important and far more incessant than the questions between Germans and the rest of mankind. They are coming back now into the foreground of human thought, but amended and altered. Our object is to state the general nature of that alteration. It has still been "emancipation," but very different in quality from the "emancipation" that was demanded so loudly and incoherently in that ancient world--of 1913!
Never had the relations of men and women been so uneasy as they were in the opening days of 1914. The
woman's movement battered and banged through all our minds. It broke out into
that tumult in
The extraordinary thing was that the feminist movement was never clearly defined during all the time of its maximum violence. We begin to perceive in the retrospect that the movement was multiple, made up of a number of very different movements interwoven. It seemed to concentrate upon the Vote; but it was never possible to find even why women wanted the vote. Some, for example, alleged that it was because they were like men, and some because they were entirely different. The broad facts that one could not mistake were a vast feminine discontent and a vast display of feminine energy. What had brought that about?
Two statistical factors are to be considered here. One of these was the steady decline in the marriage rate, and the increasing proportion of unmarried women of all classes, but particularly of the more educated classes, requiring employment. The second was the fall in the birth-rate, the diminution in size of the average family, the increase of sterile unions, and the consequent release of a considerable proportion of the energy of married women. Co-operating with these factors of release were the economic elaborations that were improving the appliances of domestic life, replacing the needle by the sewing machine, the coal fire and lamp by gas and electricity, the dustpan and brush by the pneumatic carpet cleaner, and taking out of the house into the shop and factory the baking, much of the cooking, the making of clothes, the laundry work, and so forth, that had hitherto kept so many women at home and too busy to think. The care of even such children as there were was also less arduous; crêche and school held out hands for them, ready to do even that duty better.
Side by side with these releases from duty was a rise in the standard of education that was stimulating the minds and imaginations of woman beyond a point where the needle--even if there had been any use for the needle--can be an opiate. Moreover, the world was growing richer, and growing richer in such a way that not only were leisure and desire increasing, but, because of increasingly scientific methods of production, the need in many branches of employment for any but very keen and able workers was diminishing. So that simultaneously the world, that vanished world before 1914, was releasing and disengaging enormous volumes of untrained and unassigned feminine energy and also diminishing the usefulness of unskilful effort in every department of life. There was no demand to meet the supply. These were the underlying processes that produced the feminist outbreak of the decade before the war.
Now the debate between the sexes is a perennial. It began while we were still in the trees. It has its stereotyped accusations; its stereotyped repartees. The Canterbury Pilgrims had little to learn from Christabel Pankhurst. Man and woman in that duet struggle perpetually for the upper hand, and the man restrains the woman and the woman resents the man. In every age some voice has been heard asserting, like Plato, that the woman is a human being; and the prompt answer has been, "but such a different human being." Wherever there is a human difference fair play is difficult, the universal clash of races witnesses to that, and sex is the greatest of human differences.
But the general trend of mankind towards intelligence and reason has been also a trend away from a superstitious treatment of sexual questions and a recognition, so to speak, that a woman's "a man for a' that," that she is indeed as entitled to an independent soul and a separate voice in collective affairs. As brain has counted for more and more in the human effort and brute strength and the advantage of not bearing children for less and less, as man has felt a greater need for a companion and a lesser need for a slave, and as the increase of food and the protection of the girl from premature child-bearing has approximated the stature and strength and enterprise of the woman more and more to that of the man, this secular emancipation of the human female from the old herd subordination and servitude to the patriarchal male has gone on. Essentially the secular process has been an equalising process. It was merely the exaggeration of its sustaining causes during the plenty and social and intellectual expansion of the last half-century that had stimulated this secular process to the pitch of crisis.
There have always been two extreme aspects of the sexual debate. There have always been the oversexed women who wanted to be treated primarily as women, and the women who were irritated and bored by being treated primarily as women. There have always been those women who wanted to get, like Joan of Arc, into masculine attire, and the school of the "mystical darlings." There have always been the women who wanted to share men's work and the women who wanted to "inspire" it--the mates and the mistresses. Of course, the mass of women lies between these extremes. But it is possible, nevertheless, to discuss this question as though it were a conflict of two sharply opposed ideals. It is convenient to write as if there were just these two sorts of women because so one can get a sharp definition in the picture. The ordinary woman fluctuates between the two, turns now to the Western ideal of citizenship and now to the Eastern of submission. These ideals fight not only in human society, but in every woman's career.
Chitra in Rabindranath Tagore's play, for example, tried both aspects of the woman's life, and Tagore is at one with Plato in preferring the Rosalind type to the houri. And with him I venture to think is the clear reason of mankind. The real "emancipation" to which reason and the trend of things makes is from the yielding to the energetic side of a woman's disposition, from beauty enthroned for love towards the tall, weather-hardened woman with a spear, loving her mate as her mate loves her, and as sexless as a man in all her busy hours.
But it was not simply the energies that tended towards this particular type that were set free during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Every sort of feminine energy was set free. And it was not merely the self-reliant, independence-seeking women who were discontented. The ladies who specialised in feminine arts and graces and mysteries were also dissatisfied. They found they were not important enough. The former type found itself insufficiently respected, and the latter type found itself insufficiently adored. The two mingled their voices in the most confusing way in the literature of the suffrage movement before the war. The two tendencies mingle confusingly in the minds of the women that this movement was stirring up to think. The Vote became the symbol for absolutely contradictory things; there is scarcely a single argument for it in suffragist literature that cannot be completely negatived out of suffragist literature.
For example, compare the writings of Miss Cicely Hamilton, the distinguished actress, with the publications of the Pankhurst family. The former expresses a claim that, except for prejudice, a woman is as capable a citizen as a man and differing only in her sex; the latter consist of a long rhapsody upon the mystical superiorities of women and the marvellous benefits mankind will derive from handing things over to these sacred powers. The former would get rid of sex from most human affairs; the latter would make what our Georgian grandfathers called "The Sex" rule the world.
Or compare, say, the dark coquettings of Miss Elizabeth
Robins' "Woman's Secret" with the virile common sense of that most
brilliant young writer, Miss Rebecca West, in her bitter onslaught on feminine
limitations in the opening chapters of "The World's Worst Failure."
The former is an extravagance of sexual mysticism. Man can never understand
women. Women always hide deep and wonderful things away beyond masculine
discovery. Men do not even suspect. Some day, perhaps--It is someone peeping from
behind a curtain, and inviting men in provocative tones to come and play catch
in a darkened harem. The latter is like some gallant soldier cursing his silly
accoutrements. It is a hearty outbreak against that apparent necessity for
elegance and sexual specialisation that undercuts so much feminine achievement, that reduces so much feminine art and writing
to vapidity, and holds back women from the face of danger and brave and
horrible deaths. It is West to Miss Robins' East. And yet I believe I am right
in saying that all these four women writers have jostled one another upon
suffrage platforms, and that they all suffered blows and injuries in the same
cause, during the various riots and conflicts that occurred in
It is a little detail, but a very significant one in this
connection, that the committee that organised the various great suffrage
It would be easy to overstate the efflorescence of
distinctively feminine emotion, dressiness, mysticism, and vanity upon the
suffrage movement. Those things showed for anyone to see. This was the froth of
the whirlpool. What did not show was the tremendous development of the sense of
solidarity among women. Everybody knew that women had been hitting policemen at
The war came, the jolt of an earthquake, to throw things into their proper relationships.
The immediate result was the disappearance of the militant suffragists from public view for a time, into which the noisier section hastened to emerge in full scream upon the congenial topic of War Babies. "Men," those dreadful creatures, were being camped and quartered all over the country. It followed, from all the social principles known to Mrs. and Miss Pankhurst, that it was necessary to provide for an enormous number of War Babies. Subscriptions were invited. Statisticians are still looking rather perplexedly for those War Babies; the illegitimate birth-rate has fallen, and what has become of the subscriptions I do not know. The Suffragette rechristened itself Britannia, dropped the War Baby agitation, and, after an interlude of self-control, broke out into denunciations, first of this public servant and then of that, as traitors and German spies. Finally, it discovered a mare's nest in the case of Sir Edward Grey that led to its suppression, and the last I have from this misleading and unrepresentative feminist faction is the periodic appearance of a little ill-printed sheet of abuse about the chief Foreign Office people, resembling in manner and appearance the sort of denunciatory letter, at once suggestive and evasive, that might be written by the curate's discharged cook. And with that the aggressive section of the suffragist movement seems to have petered out, leaving the broad reality of feminine emancipation to go on in a beneficent silence.
There can be no question that the behaviour of the great
mass of women in
There is scarcely a point where women, having been given a chance, have not more than made good. They have revolutionised the estimate of their economic importance, and it is scarcely too much to say that when, in the long run, the military strength of the Allies bears down the strength of Germany, it will be this superiority of our women which enables us to pit a woman at--the censorship will object to exact geography upon this point--against a man at Essen which has tipped the balance of this war.
Those women have won the vote. Not the most frantic outbursts of militancy after this war can prevent them getting it. The girls who have faced death and wounds so gallantly in our cordite factories--there is a not inconsiderable list of dead and wounded from those places--have killed for ever the poor argument that women should not vote because they had no military value. Indeed, they have killed every argument against their subjection. And while they do these things, that paragon of the virtues of the old type, that miracle of domestic obedience, the German haus-frau, the faithful Gretchen, riots for butter.
And as I have before remarked, the Germans counted on the
suffragettes as one of the great forces that were to paralyse
It is not simply that the British women have so bountifully
produced intelligence and industry; that does not begin their record. They have
been willing to go dowdy. The mass of women in
She does not pass with impunity, the last exponent of true feminine charm. The vulgar, the street boy, have evolved one of those strange sayings that have the air of being fragments from some lost and forgotten chant:
"She's the Army Contractor's Only Daughter,
Spending it now."
Or simply, "Spending it now."
She does not pass with impunity, but she passes. She makes
her stilted passage across the arena upon which the new womanhood of
And so we come to prophecy.
I do not believe that this invasion by women of a hundred employments hitherto closed to them is a temporary arrangement that will be reversed after the war. It is a thing that was going on, very slowly, it is true, and against much prejudice and opposition, before the war, but it was going on; it is in the nature of things. These women no doubt enter these employments as substitutes, but not usually as inferior substitutes; in quite a number of cases they are as good as men, and in many they are not underselling, they are drawing men's pay. What reason is there to suppose that they will relapse into a state of superfluous energy after the war? The war has merely brought about, with the rapidity of a landslide, a state of affairs for which the world was ripe. The world after the war will have to adjust itself to this extension of women's employment, and to this increase in the proportion of self-respecting, self-supporting women.
Contributing very largely to the establishment of this greatly enlarged class of independent women will be the great shortage for the next decade of marriageable men, due to the killing and disablement of the war. The women of the next decades will not only be able to get along economically without marriage, but they will find it much more difficult to marry. It will also probably be a period in which a rise in prices may, as it usually does, precede the compensating rise in wages. It may be that for some years it will be more difficult to maintain a family. This will be a third factor in the fixation of this class of bachelor women.
Various writers, brooding over the coming shortage of men,
have jumped to the conclusion that polygamy is among the probabilities of the
near future. They write in terms of real or affected alarm for which there is
no justification; they wallow in visions of
The temperamental dislike of intelligent women to polygamy
is at least as strong as a man's objection to polyandry. Polygamy, open or
hidden, flourishes widely only where there are women to be bought. Moreover,
there are considerable obstacles in religion and custom to be overcome by the
innovating polygamist--even in
So far from a great number of men becoming polygamists, I think it would be possible to show cause for supposing that an increasing proportion will cease even to be monogamists. The romantic excitements of the war have produced a temporary rise in the British marriage rate; but before the war it had been falling slowly and the average age at marriage had been rising, and it is quite possible that this process will be presently resumed and, as a new generation grows up to restore the balance of the sexes, accelerated.
We conclude, therefore, that this increase in the class of economically independent bachelor women that is now taking place is a permanent increase. It is probably being reinforced by a considerable number of war widows who will not remarry. We have to consider in what directions this mass of capable, intelligent, energetic, undomesticated freewomen is likely to develop, what its effect will be on social usage, and particularly how it will react upon the lives of the married women about them. Because, as we have already pointed out in this chapter, the release of feminine energy upon which the feminist problem depends is twofold, being due not only to the increased unmarriedness of women through the disproportion of the sexes and the rise in the age of marriage, but also to the decreased absorption of married women in domestic duties. A woman, from the point of view of this discussion, is not "married and done for," as she used to be. She is not so extensively and completely married. Her large and increasing leisure remains in the problem.
The influence of this coming body of freewomen upon the
general social atmosphere will be, I venture to think, liberalising and
relaxing in certain directions and very bracing in others. This new type of
women will want to go about freely without an escort, to be free to travel
alone, take rooms in hotels, sit in restaurants, and so forth. Now, as the women
of the past decade showed, there are for a woman two quite antagonistic ways of
going about alone. Nothing showed the duplicate nature of the suffragist
movement more than the great variety of deportment of women in the
At the other extreme there was a type of young woman who came into the streets like something precious that has got loose. It dressed itself as feminine loveliness; it carried sex like a banner and like a challenge. Its mind was fully prepared by the Pankhurst literature for insult. It swept past distressed manhood imputing motives. It was pure hareem, and the perplexed masculine intelligence could never determine whether it was out for a demonstration or whether it was out for a spree. Its motives in thus marching across the path of feminine emancipation were probably more complicated and confused than that alternative suggests, and sheer vanity abounded in the mixture. But undoubtedly that extremity is the vanishing extremity of these things. The new freewoman is going to be a grave and capable being, soberly dressed, and imposing her own decency and neutrality of behaviour upon the men she meets. And along the line of sober costume and simple and restrained behaviour that the freewoman is marking out, the married woman will also escape to new measures of freedom.
I do not believe that among women of the same social origins and the same educational quality there can exist side by side entirely distinct schools of costume, deportment, and behaviour based on entirely divergent views of life. I do not think that men can be trained to differentiate between different sorts of women, sorts of women they will often be meeting simultaneously, and to treat this one with frankness and fellowship and that one with awe passion and romantic old-world gallantry. All sorts of intermediate types--the majority of women will be intermediate types--will complicate the problem. This conflict of the citizen-woman ideal with the loveliness-woman ideal, which was breaking out very plainly in the British suffrage movement before the war, will certainly return after the war, and I have little doubt which way the issue will fall. The human being is going to carry it against the sexual being. The struggle is going to be extensive and various and prolonged, but in the serious years ahead the serious type must, I feel, win. The plain, well-made dress will oust the ribbon and the decolletage.
In every way the war is accelerating the emancipation of women from sexual specialisation. It is facilitating their economic emancipation. It is liberating types that will inevitably destroy both the "atmosphere of gallantry" which is such a bar to friendliness between people of opposite sexes and that atmosphere of hostile distrust which is its counterpart in the minds of the over-sexual suffragettes. It is arresting the change of fashions and simplifying manners.
In another way also it is working to the same end. That fall
in the birth-rate which has been so marked a feature in the social development
of all modern states has become much more perceptible since the war began to
tell upon domestic comfort. There is a full-cradle agitation going on in
Once, to be married was a woman's whole career. Household cares, a dozen children, and she was consumed. All her romances ended in marriage. All a decent man's romance ended there, too. She proliferated and he toiled, and when the married couple had brought up some of their children and buried the others, and blessed their first grandchildren, life was over.
Now, to be married is an incident in a woman's career, as in a man's. There is not the same necessity of that household, not the same close tie; the married woman remains partially a freewoman and assimilates herself to the freewoman. There is an increasing disposition to group solitary children and to delegate their care to specially qualified people, and this is likely to increase, because the high earning power of young women will incline them to entrust their children to others, and because a shortage of men and an excess of widows will supply other women willing to undertake that care. The more foolish women will take these releases as a release into levity, but the common sense of the newer types of women will come to the help of men in recognising the intolerable nuisance of this prolongation of flirting and charming on the part of people who have had what should be a satisfying love.
Nor will there be much wealth or superfluity to make levity possible and desirable. Winsome and weak womanhood will be told bluntly by men and women alike that it is a bore. The frou-frou of skirts, the delicate mysteries of the toilette, will cease to thrill any but the very young men. Marriage, deprived of its bonds of material necessity, will demand a closer and closer companionship as its justification and excuse. A marriage that does not ripen into a close personal friendship between two equals will be regarded with increasing definiteness as an unsatisfactory marriage.
These things are not stated here as being desirable or undesirable. This is merely an attempt to estimate the drift and tendency of the time as it has been accentuated by the war. It works out to the realisation that marriage is likely to count for less and less as a state and for more and more as a personal relationship. It is likely to be an affair of diminishing public and increasing private importance. People who marry are likely to remain, so far as practical ends go, more detached and separable. The essential link will be the love and affection and not the home.
With that go certain logical consequences. The first is that the circumstances of the unmarried mother will resemble more than they have hitherto done those of many married mothers; the harsh lines once drawn between them will dissolve. This will fall in with the long manifest tendency in modern society to lighten the disadvantages (in the case of legacy duties, for example) and stigma laid upon illegitimate children. And a type of marriage where personal compatibility has come to be esteemed the fundamental thing will be altogether more amenable to divorce than the old union which was based upon the kitchen and the nursery, and the absence of any care, education, or security for children beyond the range of the parental household. Marriage will not only be lighter, but more dissoluble.
To summarise all that has gone before, this war is accelerating rather than deflecting the stream of tendency, and is bringing us rapidly to a state of affairs in which women will be much more definitely independent of their sexual status, much less hampered in their self-development, and much more nearly equal to men than has ever been known before in the whole history of mankind....
In this chapter it is proposed to embark upon what may seem
now, with the Great War still in progress and still undecided, the most
hopeless of all prophetic adventures. This is to speculate upon the redrawing
of the map of
But I do want to insist that by that time every belligerent,
and not simply
If towards the end of the war the
And before I go on to speculate about the actual settlement,
there are one or two generalisations that it may be interesting to try over.
Law is a thin wash that we paint over the firm outlines of reality, and the
treaties and agreements of emperors and kings and statesmen have little of the
permanence of certain more fundamental human realities. I was looking the other
day at Sir Mark Sykes' "The Caliph's Inheritance," which contains a
series of coloured maps of the political boundaries of south-western
Let me repeat again that I do not assert there is an eternal
map. It does change; there have been times--the European settlement of
Now the nineteenth century phrased this conception by
talking about the "principle of nationality." Such interesting
survivals of the nineteenth century as Mr. C.R. Buxton still talk of settling
human affairs by that "principle." But unhappily for him the world is
not so simply divided. There are tribal regions with no national sense. There
are extensive regions of the earth's surface where the population is not
homogeneous, where people of different languages or different incompatible
creeds live village against village, a kind of human emulsion, incapable of any
true mixture or unity. Consider, for example, Central Africa,
Now so far as the homogeneous regions of the world go, I am quite prepared to sustain the thesis that they can only be tranquil, they can only develop their possibilities freely and be harmless to their neighbours, when they are governed by local men, by men of the local race, religion and tradition, and with a form of government that, unlike a monarchy or a plutocracy, does not crystallise commercial or national ambition. So far I go with those who would appeal to the "principle of nationality."
But I would stipulate, further, that it would enormously
increase the stability of the arrangement if such "nations" could be
grouped together into "United States" wherever there were
possibilities of inter-state rivalries and commercial friction. Where, however,
one deals with a region of mixed nationality, there is
need of a subtler system of adjustments. Such a system has already been worked
out in the case of
Then; thirdly, there are the regions and cities possessing
no nationality, such as Constantinople or
Now it is suggested here that upon these threefold lines it is possible to work out a map of the world of maximum contentment and stability, and that there will be a gravitation of all other arrangements, all empires and leagues and what not, towards this rational and natural map of mankind. This does not imply that that map will ultimately assert itself, but that it will always be tending to assert itself. It will obsess ostensible politics.
I do not pretend to know with any degree of certainty what peculiar forms of muddle and aggression may not record themselves upon the maps of 2200; I do not certainly know whether mankind will be better off or worse off then, more or less civilised; but I do know, with a very considerable degree of certainty, that in A.D. 2200 there will still be a France, an Ireland, a Germany, a Jugo-Slav region, a Constantinople, a Rajputana, and a Bengal. I do not mean that these are absolutely fixed things; they may have receded or expanded. But these are the more permanent things; these are the field, the groundwork, the basic reality; these are fundamental forces over which play the ambitions, treacheries, delusions, traditions, tyrannies of international politics. All boundaries will tend to reveal these fundamental forms as all clothing tends to reveal the body. You may hide the waist; you will only reveal the shoulders the more. You may mask, you may muffle the body; it is still alive inside, and the ultimate determining thing.
And, having premised this much, it is possible to take up the problem of the peace of 1917 or 1918, or whenever it is to be, with some sense of its limitations and superficiality.
We have already hazarded the prophecy that after a long war
of general exhaustion
Now the most important thing of all at this settlement will
be the temper and nature of the
Let us not be blinded by the passions of war into confusing
a people with its government and the artificial Kultur of a brief century.
There is a
The terms of peace depend enormously upon the answer to that
question. If we take the extremest possibility, and suppose a revolution in
If we suppose a less extreme but more possible revolution,
taking the form of an inquiry into the sanity of the Kaiser and his eldest son,
and the establishment of constitutional safeguards for the future, that also
would bring about an extraordinary modification of the resolution of the
Pledged Allies. But no ending to this war, no sort of settlement, will destroy
the antipathy of the civilised peoples for the violent, pretentious,
sentimental and cowardly imperialism that has so far dominated
But the ultimate of all sane European policy, as
distinguished from oligarchic and dynastic foolery, is the establishment of the
natural map of
Now the probabilities of a German revolution open questions
too complex and subtle for our present speculation. I would merely remark in
passing that in
With the Hohenzollerns it is mere nonsense to dream of any
enduring peace, but whether we are making a lasting and friendly peace with
Then, writing as an Englishman, my first thought of the
European map is naturally of
It is manifest that every frontier that gives upon the Hohenzollerns must henceforth be entrenched line behind line, and held permanently by a garrison ready for any treachery, and it becomes of primary importance that the Franco-Belgian line should be as short and strong as possible. Aix, which Germany has made a mere jumping-off place for aggressions, should clearly be held by Belgium against a Hohenzollern Empire, and the fortified and fiscal frontier would run from it southward to include the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, with its French sympathies and traditions, in the permanent alliance. It is quite impossible to leave this ambiguous territory as it was before the war, with its railway in German hands and its postal and telegraphic service (since 1913) under Hohenzollern control. It is quite impossible to hand over this strongly anti-Prussian population to Hohenzollern masters.
But an Englishman must needs write
with diffidence upon this question of the Western boundary. It is clear that
all the boundaries of 1914 from Aix to Bale are a part of ancient history. No
"as you were" is possible there. And it is not the business of anyone
But I do not see how
It is conceivable, but I do not think that it is probable. I
think the probability lies in the other direction. This war of exhaustion may
be going on for a year or so more, but the end will be the thrusting in of the
too extended German lines. The longer and bloodier the job is, the grimmer will
be the determination of the Pledged Allies to exact a
recompense. If the Germans offer peace while they still hold some part
It is when we turn to the east of
Let us first consider the case for
It is doubtful how far national unanimity is any longer
possible between the three Polish fragments. Like most English writers, I
receive a considerable amount of printed matter from various schools of Polish
patriotism, and wide divergences of spirit and intention appear. A weak,
divided and politically isolated
But the future of
To the liberal idealist the thought of a possible Swiss
system or group of Swiss systems comes readily to mind. One thinks of a
grouping of groups of Republics, building up a United States of Eastern Europe.
But neither Hohenzollerns nor Tsar would welcome that. The arm of democratic
It is here that the possibility of some internal change in
So sweeping a change is the extreme possibility. The probability is of something less lucid and more prosaic; of a discussion of diplomatists; of patched arrangements. But even under these circumstances the whole Eastern European situation is so fluid and little controlled by any plain necessity, that there will be enormous scope for any individual statesman of imagination and force of will.
There have recently been revelations, more or less
trustworthy, of German schemes for a rearrangement of
Evidently the urgent need to create kingdoms or
confederations larger than any such single States as the natural map supplies,
is manifest to both sides. If
The destiny of the Serbo-Croatian future lies largely in the
And that brings us to
Constantinople is not a
Roumania is the next most interested country. But Roumania
can reach up the Danube and through
This, I think, is
But for all the lands that lie between Constantinople and
Whether the Polish-Czech combination would be a Habsburg kingdom at all is another matter. Only if, after all, the Allies are far less successful than they have now every reason to hope would that become possible.
The gravitation of that west Slav state to the Central
European system or to
If by dying I could assure the end of the Hohenzollern
Empire to-morrow I would gladly do it. But I have, as a balancing prophet, to
face the high probability of its outliving me for some generations. It is to me
a deplorable probability. Far rather would I anticipate
In this chapter I propose to speculate a little about the
future development of these four great States, whose destinies are likely to be
much more closely interwoven than their past histories have been. I believe
that the stars in their courses tend to draw these States together into a
dominant peace alliance, maintaining the peace of the world. There may be other
stars in that constellation,
They have all shared one common experience during the last
two years; they have had an enormous loss of self-sufficiency. This has been
particularly the case with the
I remember that soon after the outbreak of the war I lunched
at the Savoy Hotel in
The people of the United States have shed their delusion
that there is an Eastern and a Western hemisphere, and that nothing can ever
pass between them but immigrants and tourists and trade, and realised that this
world is one round globe that gets smaller and smaller every decade if you
measure it by day's journeys. They are only going over the lesson the British
have learnt in the last score or so of years. This is one world and bayonets
are a crop that spreads. Let them gather and seed, it matters not how far from
you, and a time will come when they will be sticking up under your nose. There
is no real peace but the peace of the whole world, and
that is only to be kept by the whole world resisting and suppressing aggression
wherever it arises. To anyone who watches the American Press, this realisation
has been more and more manifest. From dreams of aloofness and ineffable
So far as I can judge, the American mind is eminently free
from any sentimental leaning towards the British. Americans have a traditional
hatred of the Hanoverian monarchy, and a democratic disbelief in autocracy.
They are far more acutely aware of differences than resemblances. They suspect
every Englishman of being a bit of a gentleman and a bit of a flunkey. I have
never found in
What has linked Americans with the British hitherto has been very largely the common language and literature; it is only since the war began that there seems to have been any appreciable development of fraternal feeling. And that has been not so much discovery of a mutual affection as the realisation of a far closer community of essential thought and purpose than has hitherto been suspected. The Americans, after thinking the matter out with great frankness and vigour, do believe that Britain is on the whole fighting against aggression and not for profit, that she is honestly backing France and Belgium against an intolerable attack, and that the Hohenzollern Empire is a thing that needs discrediting and, if possible, destroying in the interests of all humanity, Germany included.
There is evidence of a real search for American affinities
among the other peoples of the world; it is a new war-made feature of the
thoughtful literature and journalists of
The United States constitute a modern country, a country on
an unprecedented scale, being organised from the very beginning on modern
lines. There is only one other such country upon the planet, and that curiously
enough is parallel in climate, size, and position--
There are no countries with whom the people of the
The American tradition is based upon the casting off of a
Germanic monarchy; it is its cardinal idea. These sturdy Republicans did not
fling out the Hanoverians and their Hessian troops to prepare the path of glory
As the old conception of isolation fades and the American mind accustoms itself to the new conception of a need of alliances and understandings to save mankind from the megalomania of races and dynasties, I believe it will turn first to the idea of keeping the seas with Britain and France, and then to this still wider idea of an understanding with the Pledged Allies that will keep the peace of the world.
Now Germany has taught the world several things, and one of
the most important of these lessons is the fact that the destinies of states
and peoples is no longer to be determined by the secret arrangements of
diplomatists and the agreements or jealousies of kings. For fifty years
So far I have been stating a situation and reviewing certain
possibilities. In the past half-century the
As an undisguisedly patriotic Englishman, I would like to
see the lead in this intellectual synthesis of the nations, that must be
achieved if wars are to cease, undertaken by
If beneath the alliances of the present war there is to grow up a system of enduring understandings that will lead to the peace of the world, there is needed as a basis for such understandings much greater facility of intellectual intercourse than exists at present. Firstly, the world needs a lingua franca; next, the Western peoples need to know more of the Russian language and life than they do, and thirdly, the English language needs to be made more easily accessible than it is at present. The chief obstacle to a Frenchman or Englishman learning Russian is the difficult and confusing alphabet; the chief obstacle to anyone learning English is the irrational spelling. Are people likely to overcome these very serious difficulties in the future, and, if so, how will they do it? And what prospects are there of a lingua franca?
Wherever one looks closely into the causes and determining
influences of the great convulsions of this time, one is more and more
impressed by the apparent smallness of the ultimate directing influence. It
seems to me at least that it is a practically proven thing that this vast
It is not a question of the skill or devotion of individual
teachers so much as of the possibility of organising them upon a grand scale.
An individual teacher must necessarily use the ordinary books and ordinary
spelling and type of the language in which he is giving instruction; he may get
a few elementary instruction books from a private publisher, specially printed
for teaching purposes, but very speedily he finds himself obliged to go to the
current printed matter. This, as I will immediately show, bars the most rapid
and fruitful method of teaching. And in this as in most affairs, private
enterprise, the individualistic system, shows itself a failure. In
The difficulty in teaching English lies in the inconsistency of the spelling, and the consequent difficulties of pronunciation. If there were available an ample series of text-books, reading books, and books of general interest, done in a consistent phonetic type and spelling--in which the value of the letters of the phonetic system followed as far as possible the prevalent usage in Europe--the difficulty in teaching English not merely to foreigners but, as the experiments in teaching reading of the Simplified Spelling Society have proved up to the hilt, to English children can be very greatly reduced. At first the difficulty of the irrational spelling can be set on one side. The learner attacks and masters the essential language. Then afterwards he can, if he likes, go on to the orthodox spelling, which is then no harder for him to read and master than it is for an Englishman of ordinary education to read the facetious orthography of Artemus Ward or of the Westminster Gazette "orfis boy." The learner does one thing at a time instead of attempting, as he would otherwise have to do, two things--and they are both difficult and different and conflicting things--simultaneously.
Learning a language is one thing and memorising an illogical system of visual images--for that is what reading ordinary English spelling comes to--is quite another. A man can learn to play first chess and then bridge in half the time that these two games would require if he began by attempting simultaneous play, and exactly the same principle applies to the language problem.
These considerations lead on to the idea of a special development or sub-species of the English language for elementary teaching and foreign consumption. It would be English, very slightly simplified and regularised, and phonetically spelt. Let us call it Anglo-American. In it the propagandist power, whatever that power might be, state, university or association, would print not simply, instruction books but a literature of cheap editions. Such a specialised simplified Anglo-American variety of English would enormously stimulate the already wide diffusion of the language, and go far to establish it as that lingua franca of which the world has need.
And in the same way, the phonetic alphabet adopted as the
English medium could be used as the medium for instruction in French, where, as
in the British Isles,
The problem becomes at once graver, less hopeful, and more
urgent when we take up the case of Russian. I have looked closely into this
business of Russian teaching, and I am convinced that only a very, very small
number of French-and English-speaking people are going to master Russian under
the existing conditions of instruction. If we Westerns want to get at
What has to be done is to have Russian taught at first in a Western phonetic type. Then it becomes a language not very much more difficult to acquire than, say, German by a Frenchman. When the learner can talk with some freedom, has a fairly full vocabulary, a phraseology, knows his verb and so on, then and then only should he take up the unfamiliar and confusing set of visual images of Russian lettering--I speak from the point of view of those who read the Latin alphabet. How confusing it may be only those who have tried it can tell. Its familiarity to the eye increases the difficulty; totally unfamiliar forms would be easier to learn. The Frenchman or Englishman is confronted with
the sound of that is
For those who learn languages, as so many people do nowadays, by visual images, there will always be an undercurrent toward saying "COP." The mind plunges hopelessly through that tangle to the elements of a speech which is as yet unknown.
Nevertheless almost all the instruction in Russian of which I can get an account begins with the alphabet, and must, I suppose, begin with the alphabet until teachers have a suitably printed set of instruction books to enable them to take the better line. One school teacher I know, in a public school, devoted the entire first term, the third of a year, to the alphabet. At the end he was still dissatisfied with the progress of his pupils. He gave them Russian words, of course, words of which they knew nothing--in Russian characters. It was too much for them to take hold of at one and the same time. He did not even think of teaching them to write French and English words in the strange lettering. He did not attempt to write his Russian in Latin letters. He was apparently ignorant of any system of transliteration, and he did nothing to mitigate the impossible task before him. At the end of the term most of his pupils gave up the hopeless effort. It is not too much to say that for a great number of "visualising" people, the double effort at the outset of Russian is entirely too much. It stops them altogether. But to almost anyone it is possible to learn Russian if at first it is presented in a lettering that gives no trouble.
If I found myself obliged to learn Russian urgently, I would
get some accepted system of transliteration, carefully transcribe every word of
Russian in my text-book into the Latin characters, and learn the elements of
the language from my manuscript. A year or so ago I made a brief visit to
I write of these things from the point of view of the keen learner. Some Russian teachers will be found to agree with me; others will not. It is a paradox in the psychology of the teacher that few teachers are willing to adopt "slick" methods of teaching; they hate cutting corners far more than they hate obstacles, because their interest is in the teaching and not in the "getting there." But what we learners want is not an exquisite, rare knowledge of particulars, we do not want to spend an hour upon Russian needlessly; we want to get there as quickly and effectively as possible. And for that, transliterated books are essential.
Now these may seem small details in the learning of
languages, mere schoolmasters' gossip, but the consequences are on the
continental scale. The want of these national text-books and readers is a great
But because a thing is necessary it does not follow that it
will be achieved. Bread may be necessary to a starving man, but there is always
the alternative that he will starve.
One of the most curious aspects of the British
"Pacifist" is his willingness to give over great blocks of the black
and coloured races to the Hohenzollerns to exploit and experiment upon. I
myself being something of a pacifist, and doing what I can, in my corner, to
bring about the Peace of the World, the Peace of the World triumphant and armed
against every disturber, could the more readily sympathise with the passive
school of Pacifists if its proposals involved the idea that England should keep
to England and Germany to Germany. My political ideal is the
This talk of "legitimate expansion" is indeed now
only an exploiter's cant. The age of
"expansion," the age of European "empires" is near its end.
No one who can read the signs of the times in
Directly we discuss the problem of the absolutely necessary
permanent alliance that this war has forced upon at least
Here again we find ourselves asking just that same difficult
question of more or less, that arises at every cardinal point of our review of
the probable future. How far is this thing going to be done finely; how far is
it going to be done cunningly and basely? How far will greatness of mind, how
far will imaginative generosity, prevail over the
jealous and pettifogging spirit that lurks in every human being? Are French and
British and Belgians and Italians, for example, going to help each other in
But apart from this uncertain question of generosity, there
are in this case two powerful forces that make against disputes, secret
disloyalties, and meanness. One is that
The days of suppression are over. They know it in every
country where white and brown and yellow mingle. If the Pledged Allies are not
disposed to let in light to their subject peoples and prepare for the days of
world equality that are coming, the Germans will. If the Germans fail to be the
most enslaving of people, they may become the most liberating. They will set
themselves, with their characteristic thoroughness, to destroy that magic
"prestige" which in
It has already been pointed out in these chapters that if the alliance of the Pledged Allies is indeed to be permanent, it implies something in the nature of a Zollverein, a common policy towards the rest of the world and an arrangement involving a common control over the dependencies of all the Allies. It will be interesting, now that we have sketched a possible map of Europe after the war, to look a little more closely into the nature of the "empires" concerned, and to attempt a few broad details of the probable map of the Eastern hemisphere outside Europe in the years immediately to come.
Now there are, roughly speaking, three types of overseas
"possessions." They may be either (1) territory
that was originally practically unoccupied and that was settled by the imperial
people, or (2) territory with a barbaric population having no national
idea, or (3) conquered states. In the case of the British Empire all three are
present; in the case of the French only the second and third; in the case of
the Russian only the first and third. Each of these types must necessarily
follow its own system of developments. Take first those territories originally
but thinly occupied, or not occupied at all, of which
all or at least the dominant element of the population is akin to that of the
"home country." These used to be called by the British
"colonies"--though the "colonies" of
There has been much discussion in
The attractiveness of the idea of an Imperial legislature is
chiefly on the surface, and I have very strong doubts of its realisability.
These Dominions seem rather to tend to become independent and distinct
sovereign states in close and affectionate alliance with
On the other hand, one must remember that
Now the next class of foreign "possession" is that
in which the French and Belgians and Italians are most interested.
The greatest of this series of possessions are those in
The Latin-speaking peoples, the Mediterranean nations, on
the other hand, have proved to be the most successful assimilators of other
races that mankind has ever known. Alexandre Dumas is not the least of the
A few words of digression upon the future of Islam may not
be out of place here. The idea of a militant Christendom has vanished from the
world. The last pretensions of Christian propaganda have been buried in the
Balkan trenches. A unification of
Both the French and the British have the strongest interest
in the revival of Arabic culture. Let the German learn Turkish if it pleases
him. Through all Africa and
The disposition to underrate temporarily depressed nations,
races, and cultures is a most irrational, prevalent, and mischievous form of
stupidity. It distorts our entire outlook towards the future. The British
reader can see its absurdity most easily when he reads the ravings of some
patriotic German upon the superiority of the "Teuton" over the
Italians and Greeks--to whom we owe most things of importance in European civilisation.
Equally silly stuff is still to be read in British and American books about
"Asiatics." And was there not some fearful rubbish, not only in
German but in English and French, about the "decadence" of
I have, however, gone a little beyond the discussion of the
future of the barbaric possessions in these anticipations of an Arabic
co-operation with the Latin peoples in the reconstruction of Western Asia and
the barbaric regions of north and central
There is nothing so very fantastic in this idea of a sort of
World-Admiralty; it is not even completely novel. Such bodies as the Knights
Templars transcended nationality in the Middle Ages. I
do not see how some such synthetic control of the seas is to be avoided in the
future. And now coming back to the "White Man's Burthen," is there
not a possibility that such a board of marine and international control as the
naval and international problems of the future may produce (or some closely
parallel body with a stronger Latin element), would also be capable of dealing
with these barbaric "Administered Territories"? A day may come when
We come now to the third and most difficult type of overseas "possessions." These are the annexed or conquered regions with settled populations already having a national tradition and culture of their own. They are, to put it bluntly, the suppressed, the overlaid, nations. Now I am a writer rather prejudiced against the idea of nationality; my habit of thought is cosmopolitan; I hate and despise a shrewish suspicion of foreigners and foreign ways; a man who can look me in the face, laugh with me, speak truth and deal fairly, is my brother though his skin is as black as ink or as yellow as an evening primrose. But I have to recognise the facts of the case. In spite of all my large liberality, I find it less irritating to be ruled by people of my own language and race and tradition, and I perceive that for the mass of people alien rule is intolerable.
Local difference, nationality, is a very obstinate thing.
Every country tends to revert to its natural type. Nationality will out. Once a people has emerged above the barbaric stage to a national
consciousness, that consciousness will endure. There is practically always
going to be an
Now I have talked, I suppose, with many scores of people
about the future of
There is a great deal of cant in this matter in
It is idle to speak of the British occupation of
The division of
The Poles need to think of the future more and the wrongs of
And the overspreading of India by the British was in the same way very clearly done under compulsion, first lest the Dutch or French should exploit the vast resources of the peninsula against Britain, and then for fear of a Russian exploitation. I am no apologist for British rule in India; I think we have neglected vast opportunities there; it was our business from the outset to build up a free and friendly Indian confederation, and we have done not a tithe of what we might have done to that end. But then we have not done a little of what we might have done for our own country.
Nevertheless we have our case to plead, not only for going to India but--with the Berlin papers still babbling of Bagdad and beyond--of sticking there very grimly. And so too the British have a fairly sound excuse for grabbing Egypt in their fear lest in its phase of political ineptitude it should be the means of strangling the British Empire as the Turk in Constantinople has been used to strangle the Russian. None of these justifications I admit are complete, but all deserve consideration. It is no good arguing about the finer ethics of the things that are; the business of sane men is to get things better. The business of all sane men in all the countries of the Pledged Allies and in America is manifestly to sink petty jealousies and a suicidal competitiveness, and to organise co-operation with all the intellectual forces they can find or develop in the subject countries, to convert these inept national systems into politically efficient independent organisations in a world peace alliance. If we fail to do that, then all the inept states and all the subject states about the world will become one great field for the sowing of tares by the enemy.
 This was written late in February, 1916.
So that with regard to the civilised just
as with regard to the barbaric regions of the "possessions" of the
European-centred empires, we come to the same conclusion. That on the
whole the path of safety lies in the direction of pooling them and of declaring
a common policy of progressive development leading to equality. The pattern of
And so the discussion of the future of the overseas "empires" brings us again to the same realisation to which the discussion of nearly every great issue arising out of this war has pointed, the realisation of the imperative necessity of some great council or conference, some permanent overriding body, call it what you will, that will deal with things more broadly than any "nationalism" or "patriotic imperialism" can possibly do. That body must come into human affairs. Upon the courage and imagination of living statesmen it depends whether it will come simply and directly into concrete reality or whether it will materialise slowly through, it may be, centuries of blood and blundering from such phantom anticipations as this, anticipations that now haunt the thoughts of all politically-minded men.
Whatever some of us among the Allies may say,
the future of
This is so clearly understood in
In that respect
It is fairly evident that the present German Government
understands this frame of mind quite clearly, and is extremely anxious to keep
it from the knowledge of the German peoples. Every act or word from a British
source that suggests an implacable enmity against the Germans as a people,
every war-time caricature and insult, is brought to their knowledge. It is the
manifest interest of the Hohenzollerns and Prussianism to make this struggle a
race struggle and not merely a political struggle, and to keep a wider breach
between the peoples than between the Governments. The "Made in
There can, of course, be no doubt of the good faith of Sir George Makgill, but he could do the Kaiser no better service than to help in consolidating every rank and class of German, by this organisation of foolish violence of speech and act, by this profession of an irrational and implacable hostility. His practical influence over here is trivial, thanks to the general good sense and the love of fair play in our people, but there can be little doubt that his intentions are about as injurious to the future peace of the world as any intentions could be, and there can be no doubt that intelligent use is made in Germany of the frothings and ravings of his followers. "Here, you see, is the disposition of the English," the imperialists will say to the German pacifists. "They are dangerous lunatics. Clearly we must stick together to the end." ...
The stuff of Sir George Makgill's league must not be taken
as representative of any considerable section of British opinion, which is as a
whole nearly as free from any sustained hatred of the Germans as it was at the
beginning of the war. There are, of course, waves of indignation at such
deliberate atrocities as the
That lack of any essential hatred does not mean that British
opinion is not solidly for the continuation of this war against militarist
imperialism to its complete and final defeat. But if that can be defeated to
any extent in
Still it must be admitted that not only in Great Britain but in all the allied countries one finds a certain active minority corresponding to Sir George Makgill's noisy following, who profess to believe that all Germans to the third and fourth generation (save and except the Hanoverian royal family domiciled in Great Britain) are a vile, treacherous, and impossible race, a race animated by an incredible racial vanity, a race which is indeed scarcely anything but a conspiracy against the rest of mankind.
The ravings of many of these people can only be paralleled
by the stuff about the cunning of the Jesuits that once circulated in
ultra-Protestant circles in
Of course there is no denying that the Germans are a very distinctive people, as distinctive as the French. But their distinctions are not diabolical. Until the middle of the nineteenth century it was the fashion to regard them as a race of philosophical incompetents. Their reputation as a people of exceptionally military quality sprang up in the weed-bed of human delusions between 1866 and 1872; it will certainly not survive this war. Their reputation for organisation is another matter. They are an orderly, industrious, and painstaking people, they have a great respect for science, for formal education, and for authority. It is their respect for education which has chiefly betrayed them, and made them the instrument of Hohenzollern folly. Mr. F.M. Hueffer has shown this quite conclusively in his admirable but ill-named book, "When Blood is Their Argument." Their minds have been systematically corrupted by base historical teaching, and the inculcation of a rancid patriotism. They are a people under the sway of organised suggestion. This catastrophic war and its preparation have been their chief business for half a century; none the less their peculiar qualities have still been displayed during that period; they have still been able to lead the world in several branches of social organisation and in the methodical development of technical science. Systems of ideas are perhaps more readily shattered than built up; the aggressive patriotism of many Germans must be already darkened by serious doubts, and I see no inherent impossibility in hoping that the mass of the Germans may be restored to the common sanity of mankind, even in the twenty or thirty years of life that perhaps still remain for me.
Consider the names of the chief exponents of the aggressive
German idea, and you will find that not one is German. The first begetter of
Nietzsche's "blond beast," and of all that great flood of rubbish
about a strange superior race with whitish hair and blue eyes, that has so
fatally rotted the German imagination, was a Frenchman named Gobineau. We
British are not altogether free from the disease. As a small boy I read the
History of J.R. Green, and fed my pride upon the peculiar virtues of my
Anglo-Saxon blood. ("Cp.," as they say in footnotes, Carlyle and
Froude.) It was not a German but a renegade Englishman of the Englishman-hating
Whig type, Mr. Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who carried the Gobineau theory to
that delirious level which claims Dante and Leonardo as Germans, and again it
was not a German but a British peer, still among us, Lord Redesdale, who in his
eulogistic preface to the English translation of Chamberlain's torrent of folly,
hinted not obscurely that the real father of Christ was not the Jew, Joseph,
but a much more Germanic person. Neither Clausewitz, who first impressed upon
the German mind the theory of ruthless warfare, nor Bernhardi, nor Treitschke,
who did as much to build up the Emperor's political imagination, strike one as
bearing particularly German names. There are indeed very grave grounds for the
German complaint that
The majority of sensible and influential Englishmen are fully aware of these facts. This does not alter their resolution to beat Germany thoroughly and finally, and, if Germany remains Hohenzollern after the war, to do their utmost to ring her in with commercial alliances, tariffs, navigation and exclusion laws that will keep her poor and powerless and out of mischief so long as her vice remains in her. But these considerations of the essential innocence of the German do make all this systematic hostility, which the British have had forced upon them, a very uncongenial and reluctant hostility. Pro-civilisation, and not Anti-German, is the purpose of the Allies. And the speculation of just how relentlessly and for how long this ring of suspicion and precaution need be maintained about Germany, of how soon the German may decide to become once more a good European, is one of extraordinary interest to every civilised man. In other words, what are the prospects of a fairly fundamental revolution in German life and thought and affairs in the years immediately before us?
In a sense every European country must undergo revolutionary changes as a consequence of the enormous economic exhaustion and social dislocations of this war. But what I propose to discuss here is the possibility of a real political revolution, in the narrower sense of the word, in Germany, a revolution that will end the Hohenzollern system, the German dynastic system, altogether, that will democratise Prussia and put an end for ever to that secretive scheming of military aggressions which is the essential quarrel of Europe with Germany. It is the most momentous possibility of our times, because it opens the way to an alternative state of affairs that may supersede the armed watching and systematic war of tariffs, prohibitions, and exclusions against the Central Empires that must quite unavoidably be the future attitude of the Pledged Allies to any survival of the Hohenzollern empire.
We have to bear in mind that in this discussion we are
dealing with something very new and quite untried hitherto by anything but
success, that new
 A recent circular, which Vorwaerts quotes, sent by the education officials to the teachers of Frankfurt-am-Main, points out the necessity of the "beautiful task" of inculcating a deep love for the House of Hohenzollern (Crown Prince, grin and all), and concludes, "All efforts to excuse or minimise or explain the disgraceful acts which our enemies have committed against Germans all over the world are to be firmly opposed by you should you see any signs of these efforts entering the schools."
It is one of the commonplaces of this question that in the
past the Germans have always been loyal subjects and never made a revolution.
It is alleged that there has never been a German republic. That is by no means
conclusively true. The nucleus of Swiss freedom was the German-speaking cantons
Whatever the feelings of the old women of Germany may be
towards the Kaiser and his family, my impression of the opinion of Germans in
general is that they believed firmly in empire, Kaiser and militarism wholly
and solely because they thought these things meant security, success, triumph,
more and more wealth, more and more Germany, and all that had come to them
since 1871 carried on to the nth degree.... I do not think that all the
At present every discomfort and disappointment of the German
people is being sedulously diverted into rage against the Allies, and
particularly against the English. This is all very well as long as the war goes
on with a certain effect of hopefulness. But what when presently the beam has
so tilted against
In either case, I do not see how he can keep the habitual and cultivated German hate pointing steadily away from himself. So long as the war is going on that may be done, but when the soldiers come home the hate will come home as well. In times of war peoples may hate abroad and with some unanimity. But after the war, with no war going on or any prospect of a fresh war, with every exploiter and every industrial tyrant who has made his unobtrusive profits while the country scowled and spat at England, stripped of the cover of that excitement, then it is inevitable that much of this noble hate of England will be seen for the cant it is. The cultivated hate of the war phase, reinforced by the fresh hate born of confusion and misery, will swing loose, as it were, seeking dispersedly for objects. The petty, incessant irritations of proximity will count for more; the national idea for less. The Hohenzollerns and the Junkers will have to be very nimble indeed if the German accomplishment of hate does not swing round upon them.
It is a common hypothesis with those who speculate on the
probable effects of these disillusionments that
Let us consider a little more particularly the nature of the
mass of population whose collective action in the years immediately ahead of us
we are now attempting to forecast. Its social strata are only very inexactly
equivalent to those in the countries of the Pledged Allies. First there are the
masses of the people. In
Directly we come to the commercial, directive, official,
technical and professional classes in Germany, we come to classes far more
highly trained, more alert intellectually, more capable of collective action,
and more accessible to general ideas, than the less numerous and less important
corresponding classes in Britain. This great German middle class is the
strength and substance of the new
Hitherto this middle class has been growing almost unawares. It has been so busy coming into existence and growing, there has been so much to do since 1871, that it has had scarcely a moment to think round the general problem of politics at all. It has taken the new empire for granted as a child takes its home for granted, and its state of mind to-day must be rather like that of an intelligent boy who suddenly discovers that his father's picturesque and wonderful speculations have led to his arrest and brought the brokers into the house, and that there is nothing for it but to turn to and take control of the family affairs.
What will be the quality of the monarch and court and
junkerdom that will face this awaking new
The monarch will be before very long the present Crown
Prince. The Hohenzollerns have at least the merit of living quickly, and the
present Emperor draws near his allotted term. He will break a record in his
family if he lives another dozen years. So that quite soon after the war this
"Thou Prince of Peace,
Thou God of War,"
to the dismal rhetorician of
This new substantial middle mass of
In all these matters one must ask
the reader to enlarge his perspectives at least as far back as the last three
centuries. The galaxy of German monarchies that has over-spread so much of
So it seems to me that the following conclusions about the
This will have the support of strong journalists,
journalists of the Harden type for example. The dynasty tends to become
degenerate, so that the probability of either some gross scandals or an
ill-advised reactionary movement back to absolutism may develop a crisis within
a few years of the peace settlement. The mercantile and professional classes
will join hands with the social democrats to remove the decaying incubus of the
Hohenzollern system, and
Such is my reading of the German horoscope.
I doubt if there will be nearly so much writing and reading about the Great War in the latter half of the twentieth century as there was about Napoleon at the end of the nineteenth. The Great War is essentially undramatic, it has no hero, it has no great leaders. It is a story of the common sense of humanity suppressing certain tawdry and vulgar ideas and ambitions, and readjusting much that was wasteful and unjust in social and economic organisation. It is the story of how the spirit of man was awakened by a nightmare of a War Lord.... The nightmare will fade out of mind, and the spirit of man, with revivified energies, will set about the realities of life, the re-establishment of order, the increase of knowledge and creation. Amid these realities the great qualities of the Germans mark them for a distinguished and important rôle.
The primary business of the Allies is not reconciliation
To reconstruct modern civilisation without
So that I give the alliance for the isolation of Germany at the outside a life of forty years before it ceases to be necessary through the recovered willingness of the Germans to lay aside aggression.
But this is not a thing to be run at too hastily. It may be
easily possible to delay this national general reconciliation of mankind by an
unreal effusion. There will be no advantage in forcing the feelings of the late
combatants. It is ridiculous to suppose that for the next decade or so,
whatever happens, any Frenchmen are going to feel genial about the occupation
of their north-east provinces, or any Belgians smile at the memory of Dinant or
Louvain, or the Poles or Serbs forgive the desolation of their country, or any
English or Russians take a humorous view of the treatment their people have had
as prisoners in Germany. So long as these are living memories they will keep a
barrier of dislike about
We may bring ourselves to understand, we may bring ourselves to a cold and reasonable forgiveness, we may suppress our Sir George Makgills and so forth, but it will take sixty or seventy years for the two sides in this present war to grow kindly again. Let us build no false hopes nor pretend to any false generosities. These hatreds can die out only in one way, by the passing of a generation, by the dying out of the wounded and the wronged. Our business, our unsentimental business, is to set about establishing such conditions that they will so die out. And that is the business of the sane Germans too. Behind the barriers this war will have set up between Germany and Anti-Germany, the intelligent men in either camp must prepare the ultimate peace they will never enjoy, must work for the days when their sons at least may meet as they themselves can never meet, without accusation or resentment, upon the common business of the World Peace. That is not to be done by any conscientious sentimentalities, any slobbering denials of unforgettable injuries. We want no Pro-German Leagues any more than we want Anti-German Leagues. We want patience--and silence.
My reason insists upon the inevitableness and necessity of
this ultimate reconciliation. I will do no more than I must to injure