In 1913-1914 I met in Berlin several landlords from these provinces who acted in Berlin and were treated in Berlin like Germans, although subjects of the Russian Czar. So backward were these provinces in liberty under their German landlords that it was not until 1848 that the infamous "right of the lord" (droit du Seigneur or Jus primae noctae) was abolished.
What Tannenberg has to say about Courland, Livonia and Esthonia is well worth studying. He writes:
"The most precious portions for us of the Russian heritage are the German Baltic provinces, Courland, Livonia, Esthonia.
"To the north in Esthonia and in the northern part of Livonia live the Esthonians. In the South, the Livonians of the Lithuanian branch. Esthonians and Livonians are Lutherans and form the principal part of the population. There are 250,000 Germans. But the civilisation is German and gives to the whole country a German stamp. In the rural districts, the great landlords, the ministers of the Gospel and the school masters are German. In the cities the middle classes are Germans. But the workingmen are Esthonians or Livonians. The Russians are only represented in the large cities by officials.
"It was in the middle of the twelfth century that the first German settlements were made at the mouth of the Dina. In 1201, Riga was founded, and, in 1202, the Order of the Knights of the Sword. In 1237 this Order was united with the powerful Order of the Teutonic Knights. There was no thought then of the Muscovites. From Marienburg to Riga it is five hundred kilometres, from Koenigsburg to Riga, three hundred and fifty, to Moscow eight hundred and fifty. Moscow was then going through a very difficult period. In 1225, the battle of the Kalka took place which put an end to the power of the great Russian Princes.
"From Riga to Kalka, Dantzig, Stettin and Lubeck, there was sea communication. The all powerful merchant marine of the Hanseatic League was at its height...."
Tannenberg describes how these provinces finally became part of Russia and adds:
"Courland, Livonia and Esthonia became the model provinces of the whole Empire. The German nobility furnished Russia with its generals and its high officials: the University of Dorpat was founded and was the model of the high schools created later in Russia.... The University of Dorpat exchanged its professors with the other German high schools of the Russian Empire. The students of the Baltic provinces passed several terms in the German Universities of the South and East of Germany and then returned to Dorpat to undergo their examinations to enter in the service of the Baltic or Russian State.
"One encounters constantly in our literature allusions to the Baltic provinces. Kant, the philosopher of pure reason, published his work at Riga.... In the time of Goethe students from Courland and Livonia visited the great of Weimar. Richard Wagner commenced at Riga his theatrical and musical career."
Tannenberg speaks of the revolution after the defeat by the Japanese of the Russian troops in these provinces when the castles of the German Barons were besieged by the people and says, "The cry of indignation resounded through all Germany. A military German intervention was generally expected. Against all expectation nothing of the kind happened." ... "When the Russian Government finally got control the Russian troops treated the rebels mildly and it was finally the sparkling on the horizon of five million German bayonets that hastened matters so well that superficially, at least, order was re-established."
Speaking on the annexation of those provinces to Germany he says:
"There is no money to be seized in the East but there is something which is of more value than cash and that is lands, lands of colonisation for new German peasants." And he points out that the Baltic provinces are about the same size as Bavaria and Wuerttemberg, but in Bavaria and Wuerttemberg there are eight and a half millions of inhabitants while the Baltic provinces support a little over two millions.
"The Baltic provinces have always occupied an important place in the thought and sentiments of the German people. The public as a whole does not inquire if it's true that only fifteen per cent of the population is German. For the public they are simply the German provinces of the Baltic and the German people are right, because since seven hundred years the proprietors of the land there are Germans and the civilisation has always been German."
Should Germany be allowed to seize these provinces, to increase her population and man power enormously, a second great war like this one will not be far off and Russia, deprived of what Peter the Great called "His window on the Baltic," will lose her place as an European Power.
The Germans will endeavour, during any peace negotiations, to keep their troops there in the hope that they will be permitted to occupy these provinces or that, if a vote should be taken to determine to which country the inhabitants wish to be annexed, the latter would be coerced through the German landlords, and by the use of money and terror made to appear as desirous of annexation to Germany.
Prince Muenster, who had been in this section during the war, told me once how easy it was to observe that the more prosperous sections of the population were German and how anxious these people were to become Germans. In this case I think he was right to the extent that the feudal landlords of the Baltic provinces believe that as Prussian Junkers they would have a greater chance to continue to oppress the people than as Russian citizens, especially citizens of a new Russian republic.
The Allies must guard against any move which can add to the man power of the Central Powers, and this reason alone is sufficient reason never to permit the Arabs and Syrians, who have been so oppressed by the Turks, to suffer again under the rule of the Young Turks.
The world must not be disturbed again by Prussian dreams of world conquest, nor must Jerusalem and the Holy Land, towards which the eyes of all Christians have turned for twenty centuries, be voluntarily given back to the Turks.
To allow the Germans access to Bagdad is to invite trouble—a second attempt of the Kaiser to don the turban and proclaim a Holy War in the interest of the fat merchants of Hamburg and Frankfort.
If this were an old time war, when sly diplomats sat at a green table, exchanging territories and peoples like poker chips, we might consent to the partition and destruction of Russia as most natural. But this war is between two systems, and wars either will be continued or cease hereafter. We who hope for the end of war cannot permit Germany to add to her man power any part of the rapidly multiplying population of that great territory which we now call Russia.
It is probable that Russia will go through the stages of the great French Revolution. We have had already the revolution made by the whole nation, Duma, army, and the control of the respectable moderate Republicans. The period of the Jacobins, the extremists, has come, too, and we must in the end expect the appearance of the military leader, a strong man who will bring order. That is what will happen, for Russia cannot remain a nation under the control of any government which cheerfully consents to dismemberment of her territory. Perhaps Trotzky will be clever enough to transform himself into a patriotic militant leader, if not, then he will not long remain at the head.
All these movements of lesser so-called nationalities are fostered by Prussian propagandists.
The region of the Ukraine, in Southern Russia, is supposed to be clamouring for freedom and independent existence. Long before the Russian revolution, I and all the diplomats of Germany were flooded with newspapers, pamphlets and literature about the longing of the Ukraine—all as plainly issued by the Germans as if they had been stamped with the Royal arms of Prussia and the seal of the General Staff.
The Lithuanians, too, stir uneasily. There is, perhaps, more in their claim; they request the world not to confuse them with the Poles and they protest against incorporation with Poland. But should a number of little states be created, sliced from the map of Russia, they would enjoy but a short independence before falling, one by one, into the maw of Prussia.
Every one sympathises with the Poles and hopes for the establishment of a really free and independent Poland, and not a Poland under the rule or protection of either Austria or Germany. It will be a great experiment, because in the past the great state of Poland, one of the greatest in Europe, was broken because of the incapacity of the Poles to rule themselves. Their armies showed great bravery, the Polish cavalry, winged like angels, terrified enemy cavalry horses and charged often to victory; but the Polish aristocrats, camped with thousands of retainers at the place where the King was elected, sat patiently waiting for the highest bidder before giving their votes.
And the King once elected, the Polish diet accomplished nothing, because any noble who voted against a proposition could defeat it. This was the so-called "liberum veto" so fatal to Poland. Katharine of Russia, that clever, wise, dissolute but great German Princess, placing a puppet favourite on the Polish throne, insisted on the retention of the "liberum veto" in the Polish Constitution, because she knew that by the mere existence of this asinine institution Poland could be counted on to commit suicide for the benefit of the watching spoilers, Russia, Prussia and Austria.
But a new, real Poland would not be governed by its aristocracy, and under a democratic government the splendid Polish race could be trusted to work out successfully their political salvation.
Should the strong man fail to appear in Russia and the Bolsheviki continue to rule, then the confusion of Russia may not prove an immediate help to Germany.
In the first place, no one now works in Russia; the population will be in want of food and will not have any great surplus to export; and it will be a long time before Germany can draw any material help from the Steppes of incompetency. Had Russia immediately settled down to a new form of government, the case might have been different, but now Germany or some power in Russia must first organise that vast country for production under new conditions before Germany can begin to profit from the withdrawal of Russia from the war except, perhaps, in that important factor—the release of German troops from the Eastern frontier. But as time passes the Germans may use food from Russia to bribe northern neutral nations into an alliance with the Central Empires.
Revolutions are contagious. In 1848, the movement started in France spread all over Europe. The burdened horse on the road evinces a tendency to get out of hand at the mere sight of another horse cavorting about a pasture. The Germans are in blinders and driven by heavy hand, but forgotten as liberty is in Germany, the German Michael, the peasant chained to the soil, the hard-driven, poorly paid worker of the cities, at least, will exhibit a spirit of uneasiness, when across the line he sees Ivan, the Russian moujik, capering about, free from restraint and running things at his own sweet will. The yoke fits tight to Michael's neck, the German Kaiser drives hard from his All Highest Place; but no Emperor seemed more secure than the head of the Romanoffs, and the very fact that the chains of the yoke seem so strong may make the driven cattle all the more ready to toss the yoke aside when knowledge of power comes to the lower castes of Germany and Austria.
* * * * *
On the question of war Prussia is a civilisation as different from that of France, Great Britain and America as is China.
Ministers of the Gospel, professors, poets, writers, teach war; the necessity, the glory, the nobility of war. Long before Nietzsche wrote and Treitschke taught war as a part of the Prussian creed the teachings of these mad philosophers expressed an indigenous feeling in Germany. It is not some abstract belief to be studied. It is a vital, burning, ever-present question which affects deeply, intimately, every man in this world. For until the Prussians are made weary of this belief and converted to a milder life, there is no woman in any corner of the earth, however remote, who may not have to see her son or husband go out to die in the fight against Prussian aggression, who may not, if this fight fails, be dragged away with her daughters to become slaves or endure that which is far worse than slavery.
If the Prussian people themselves cling to their Gods of War, if Kaiser and Crown Prince fulfil their ideals, if the Prussian leave the reins in the hands of these warlike task masters and refuse to join the other peoples in stamping out the devil of war, then the conflict must go on, go on until the Germans get their stomachs full of war, until they forget their easy victories of the last century, until their leaders learn that war as a national industry does not pay, until their wealth and their trade has disappeared, until their sons are maimed and killed and their land laid waste, until the blinders fall from their eyes and they sicken of Emperor and Crown Prince, of the almost countless Kings and Grand Dukes and Princes, Generals and Admirals, Court Marshals and Chamberlains and Majors and Adjutants, Captains and Lieutenants, who now, like fat, green, distended flies, feed on the blood of Germany. What is there in war for any one but those men of froth at the top? It is this infernal king business that is responsible; so much of the king tradition is bound up with war that a king with power feels that he is untrue to the traditions of his ancestors if he fails at some period of his career to give the court painters and the court poets and the court historians a chance to portray him as a successful warrior.
The British air minister recently announced that reprisal raids were to be made on German towns. Who is not sorry for the poor people who may suffer, but the war must be brought home to them. They have made no protest while Zeppelins killed babies and women and children in the "fortress" of London. The "fortress" of London, indeed! First the Germans attack an open town, contrary to every rule, and then, when guns are mounted to ward off future attacks, the Germans christen the town a "fortress" and claim the right to continue this slaughter of non-combatants.
Postcards were sold and eagerly bought all over Germany showing the Zeppelins bombing towns. When some German father sits by the hospital bed of his dying daughter, who sobs out her life torn with a fatal wound, let him tack one of these postcards over the bed and in looking on it remember that "he who lives by the sword shall perish by the sword," that it was at the command of the Kaiser and the Crown Prince when they thought only the German Zeppelins could make a successful air raid that these massacres were ordered and that the German people at the time yelled their approval of deliberate dastardly murder.
"Te Deum" has been always the favourite psalm sung in cathedrals for all Christian conquerors, but neither psalms nor the paid pastor's praises of the Emperor will satisfy the German people, who have made awful sacrifices for intangible victories.
THE ERRORS OF EFFICIENT GERMANY
The Yankee finding himself, like Mark Twain's hero, suddenly transported back to King Arthur's Court is landed in a surprising and unknown world. But one of King Arthur's knights brought to life at the court of the present German Emperor aside from steam, electricity, gun powder, telegraph and telephones would find the system as despotic as in the days when the enchanter, Merlin, wove his spells and the sword Excalibur appeared from the depths of the magic lake. But while the system is as royal and as despotic as in King Arthur's day, while the king and his military nobles look down on the merchants and the toilers and the plain people, no knights ride forth intent upon good deeds, to protect the poor or avenge the wrongs of the innocent.
It was the cold realists of the General Staff who battered down the defences of Belgium and the forts of France, destroyed the monuments of art and levied a tax of sixty million francs a month upon a little country deprived of its means to produce wealth, took the food from the inhabitants, shipped the machinery and raw material into Germany, deported the men and insulted the women and drove whole populations from their homes to work as slaves for the conquerors.
But while they can plan military successes in the first rush of assault on the chessboard of Europe they have failed to understand other nations—failed even to learn the lessons of history. They did not know that in every land, in every walk of life, there are men who will "reject a bribe and who will die for an idea."
Imagine a German Staff officer reporting in Berlin that over a hundred thousand Alsatians were armed and organised and that they threatened, unless certain proposed legislation uniting them, for example, with Baden, was withdrawn, to resist forcibly any attempt to incorporate them in that Grand Duchy. Would not this look to a German officer like real revolution and nothing else? And when, in addition, there came news of the landing of arms for the Nationalists in Ireland and of the organisation of the Nationalist army, the Germans, without knowledge of the psychology of other peoples, believed that Great Britain had her hands full and that the moment had come when they could go to war and leave Great Britain out of all calculations. So studying only the German mind, believing that all peoples in national character are like the Germans, the Great General Staff, the greatest military aggregation the world has ever seen, failed lamentably, whenever the human element became the factor in the situation. Its military successes have been marvellous; its judgments of mankind ridiculous. Its errors of judgment may be arranged as follows:
Error Number One.
Italy was in alliance with Germany and Austria, although there was no greater hate before the war than that between Italians and Austrians; and the Great General Staff believed that Italy would remain in this unnatural alliance, would fight in order to give the Germans and the German-Austrians the domination of Europe. The victory of the Central Empires would have placed Italy under that Austrian influence from which in her struggle for freedom under the leadership of Cavour, Garibaldi and Victor Emanuel she had liberated herself.
Prince Buelow, who early in his career romantically married a charming Italian of good family, was sent to Rome to keep Italy neutral. But he failed.
Error Number Two.
Germany's belief that because of the Carson movement Great Britain was immobilised and could take no part in the war.
Error Number Three.
The theory cherished especially in military circles that because the Japanese army had been trained by Prussians Japan would join Germany. Indeed, at the moment when the Japanese were packing their trunks and preparing to leave their Embassy, a German crowd with flags and torches was assembled in front cheering Japan, the latest ally of the Entente.
Error Number Four.
The belief by the General Staff that the British Colonies would render no assistance to the mother country.
In the first days after England entered the war many German statesmen said to me, "Of course, now Canada will be incorporated in the United States." The Germans believed that the practical thing, for the moment, for the Canadians was to avoid war, to disavow all their obligations and ties of blood and permit Britain to be destroyed. The General Staff thought that because the world did not have actual proof of the German designs of world conquest, because that design had not been publicly proclaimed, that no people or nation would either know or understand the vast enterprise of conquest on which Prussian autocracy had embarked.
Error Number Five.
The unexpected resistance of the Belgians.
The German armies were held only a few days, yet the delay of those few days changed the fortunes of the world.
Error Number Six.
The splendid stand of France which was a complete surprise to the Great General Staff. They believed that France was degenerate, torn by scandals, and that a sudden assault would land the German army in Paris. In this connection it was another great error for the Germans to have sought Paris, important from a sentimental but not a military point of view. They might better have occupied first the north coast of France, and from there could have conducted the German submarine campaign with deadly effect.
Error Number Seven.
We have seen what a shell the Russian Empire was, but in July, 1914, the Great General Staff believed that Russia was on the edge of a revolution. Barricades had been erected in the streets of Petrograd and the Staff believed that the revolution, which has since divided Russia, was in the making. Instead of this the Russian Empire lasted for nearly three years and the Russian troops and generals inflicted many a hard blow not only on the Austrians but on the German forces.
Error Number Eight.
Germany was confident that the United States had been so propagandised, so covered by bribes, by paid newspapers, that the export of supplies to the Allies could be prevented. Another error was the barbarity shown in the sinking of the Lusitania by which it was sought to terrorise Americans into withholding from England and France the privileges of international law, and of the definite treaty of The Hague in 1907, in which Germany had joined and which gave to private individuals the right to supply munitions of war to any belligerent.
Error Number Nine.
Thinking that the Emperor, by posing as a Mohammedan in the East, could with the aid of the Turks stir all Mohammedans to a Holy War.
The Germans laboured with the Mohammedan soldiers captured by them. I saw many fine looking old Sheiks from the desert entering the Foreign Office in Berlin. The Eastern world was filled with German spies. But the Holy War was a failure, and the hope that the races of Asia and Africa would rise in favour of Germany was not borne out by events. The men of the East are wise, the rulers of India are enlightened and were not silly enough to place themselves voluntarily under the harsh rule of Prussia.
Error Number Ten.
The belief that President Wilson had been elected with an absolute mandate to keep the peace at all costs, the Germans declared for unrestricted submarine warfare, expecting a craven neutrality from the United States.
PRESIDENT WILSON AND PEACE
Once the Kaiser said to me, "I wish I had as much power as your President. He has far more power than I have."
What would the Kaiser say of the power and prestige now enjoyed by the President of the United States?
At first blush it seems almost ridiculous for us to rush to war shouting against autocracy while the man with the greatest power the world has ever seen announces to the world that we fight "to make the world safe for Democracy."
Charles I must turn enviously in his grave when his spirit sees the obedient Parliament of Washington; and a line of fallen Kings, from Charles to Nicky Romanoff, must wish that they had had the opportunity to attend lectures at Princeton University where our President, Woodrow Wilson, once held forth on the science of government.
But it is characteristic of the high intelligence of our people that we have recognised that war to be waged effectively must be directed by one head. We know that after the war we shall be able to recover all the powers delegated to the President. We have gained by our temporary surrender all the efficiency of autocracy and risked none of its dangers, and have simply followed the custom of the free German tribes which elected a leader for war and gave him a power never given the chiefs in time of peace.
How much more enduring is our Government! Since the war the government cabinets of England have twice changed radically, that of France five times, and Italy very frequently indeed. Few realise that our Constitution is the oldest in the world to-day. Since its adoption the government of every land in some material particular has changed many times, France, for instance, from King and Republic, then to citizen kingship, then to Republic, then to Empire, and finally to Republic. In England the form has remained the same, but the power passed, in 1830, with the passage of the Reform Bill, from nobles to commoners, as great a revolution as any in France.
And I admire the very inaccessibility of President Wilson. He does not waste time on non-essentials, on useless polite conversation or pointless discussion. This may add to his enemies but makes for efficiency.
When I saw the President on one occasion about German affairs we talked for four and a quarter hours without intermission. In that period he extracted from me all the information he required at the time. He is a wonderful man to have at the head of our nation in war or peace.
Gradually the splendid peace message of our President (Jan. 8, 1918) will sink into the consciousness of the German people.
There are liberal and reasonable men among them striving for peace and for disarmament.
In January of 1917, just at the moment when the military autocracy brought on war with America by their sudden announcement of ruthless submarine warfare, the liberals of Germany were preparing to co-operate with our President in the efforts that he was then making for peace.
A Socialist member of the Reichstag, a man whose name is known throughout the world, wrote at that time two articles to be used in the effort for peace, and I print them in order that those outside of Germany may obtain a glimpse of the mind of one of the leading Socialists of that country. These articles have never before been published.
I feel that now when we are at war with Germany perhaps it would cause embarrassment to this man should I publish his name. In a country where a man may be sent to jail for speaking without respect of some act of the Kaiser's ancestors, committed more than four hundred years ago, it is dangerous for any German to put his name to utterances which might not march with the wishes of despotic Germany.
It has always been the desire of the Kaiser's government to draw the Allies into a peace conference with the hope of detaching some of the Allies from their combination. Perhaps these articles, although written by a Socialist, were part of a clever governmental peace propaganda to which the majority Socialists so readily lent themselves during the year 1917. But on the other hand I think these articles represent the sincere real expression of the writer who is still a member of the Minority or Haase faction of the German Socialist Party. Though written a year ago they discuss points still unsolved and which must come before the peace conference that settles the war:
HOW AMERICA CAN HELP EUROPE.
BY —— ——, MEMBER OF THE REICHSTAG
The immediate reply of the Central Powers to President Wilson's note (Dec., 1916) has been a polite refusal to indicate, beyond some generalities open to the blame of ambiguity, in a clear way what their demands of peace would be. It has been followed by their note to the neutrals of the 11th of January, which also avoids giving a distinct delineation of their demands. The Central Powers maintain that only a peace conference of the belligerents themselves would be the proper place to bring forth the respective peace conditions, and they state they would produce theirs when once the conference has met. Putting aside every insinuation of motives one cannot help being reminded by this of the attitude of the Central Powers during the fateful twelve days of July-August, 1914, when they refused any outside mediation and insisted on direct conversations between Russia and Austria, whilst the punitive military expedition of the latter against Servia had to take its course. In so far their suggestion would not augur well for the execution.
The Entente Allies, on their side, have been somewhat more explicit. Their answer to President Wilson includes the delineation of demands that certainly are open to criticism, but just for this call for a reply or even compel it. At the time these lines are written only newspaper comments have so far come forward, and it is not necessary to dwell upon these. Nor does it seem appropriate to anticipate the reply of the Chancellor, which in some form or other will surely be given in the course of the next weeks. What matters is that there is a programme given for discussion and we are able to scrutinise its nature and bearing.
The demands explicitly or implicitly contained in the note of the Allies can be summarised under five heads, viz.:
1. Restitution of occupied territory to its former political community,
2. Reparation for inflicted material and moral wrongs,
3. Territorial changes motivated by alleged
a. rights of nationality,
b. need for freeing suppressed or protecting consistently maltreated nationalities,
4. Reform of International Law,
5. National and international treaties for the protection of inland and maritime boundaries.
Of these the demands under 1 and 2 are certainly in their principle quite reasonable, and if it comes to actual and exact formulation are apt to lead to a fair agreement.
The demands under 3 are partly on principle also unobjectionable, whilst some, as e.g., the cession of the Polish provinces of Prussia to a Polish state under Russian tutelage or the cession of the European vilayets of Turkey to Russia or some newly created community under Russian tutelage, can hardly be supported by reasonable argument in the face of the fact that they could only be carried out by dictation after a complete and crushing victory of the Allies over the Central Powers. That is to say, after a prolonged war more murderous and more embittered than that behind us. It is to be expected that public discussion will in regard to demands of this nature create an opinion resulting in their reduction if not disappearance. What is reasonable in them falls either under number 3, letter "a," or under numbers 4 and 5.
Now as regards the demands under 4 and 5, the settlement of most of them belongs rightly to an International Conference of all the nations. In their good and efficient regulation all are interested. They are also of the greatest concern to the future of mankind as a whole. The demands or questions can as regards their general character also be divided under three other heads, viz.:
Firstly, questions of justice to nations or nationalities as political or sociological entities,
Secondly, questions of the most expedient settlement of disputes between individual Powers or groups of such where no fundamental principles of nationality or similar rights are concerned, and
Thirdly, questions which concern all the nations through their common interest in general security and protection against the disturbance of international peace and traffic.
Both the Allies and the Central Powers agree to the idea of settling these latter questions in a better way than before; i.e., by an International League of the Nations to enforce peace. But both want the creation of this League to be settled after the war. It can, however, with good reason be upheld that there is in this a fault against logic which would have to be paid dearly by them as well as by the neutral world. Both base a number of their demands on the necessity of protecting themselves against renewed onslaughts by their opponents. Now such protection might be a necessary thing under the present state of an International Law which has been outraged and partly been made inane by themselves and has partly turned out not to meet the conditions of modern warfare as they result from the modern weapons of destruction. But it would be made unnecessary or its requirements be greatly reduced if the League of the Nations, such as is in principle accepted by them, did already exist or had its rules and regulations already laid down in detail. Is it reasonable to allow this contradiction to cause now innumerable deaths and mutilations of human beings and unbounded destruction of material wealth instead of seeking means to dissolve it as early as possible? Ought not all our wits be exerted to find this earlier solution?
There are within the means of the neutrals, if acting together, two ways to bring the war to an earlier end than that to be expected from the free decision of the belligerents. The one is to drop all considerations of neutrality such as at present regarded and, without directly supporting the one section to the detriment of the other, withdraw from both of them all supplies in food, raw material, half and wholly manufactured goods, not minding which section would by this be more damaged than its opponents. In fact, it would most likely be a decidedly unneutral measure against the one section which now benefits more than the other by these supplies, and because of this and from other reasons there is little probability that it would find general acceptance. The other way is to reduce the justification of the continuation of the war by minimising the objects for which it is led in the belief of the great masses of the people engaged as much as in the eyes of the outside world.
Both belligerents, to say it again, put in the first line of their requirements security against renewed attacks, protection against the continuation of the insecurity of peace. Both admit that the proposed League of the Nations has become a necessity; both admit that it might indeed protect mankind against new wars and a state of incessantly endangered peace. Why then wait and let the disaster go on instead of proceeding at once to lay the foundation of this League?
The step is not so impossible as it might appear. Supposing one neutral state took the matter in hand and, after having ascertained the consent of the other neutrals or at least a majority of them—which it is almost sure to obtain—would invite all the nations, the belligerents included, to a conference or a congress at a neutral place for the discussion and the arrangement of the principles and rules of the proposed League of the Nations. Would the belligerent nations refuse to send their delegates to such a conference? Could they do it without damaging their case before the world of the neutrals and the masses of their own people? It is most improbable that they would do such a thing. And even if they did they would not by this put the conference to naught. It would be there and would give palpable substance to an idea which until now lived, in spite of great and most ingenuous work spent on it, politically only in the sphere of lofty speculation or projects.
And the conference could do more. Starting from the maxim which finds such impressive accentuation in President Wilson's note that war in general must not, and the present war in particular can not, be regarded as the private affair of the individual states that engage in it, the conference could also take into consideration some questions of consequence connected with the present war. It could, e.g., whilst laying the foundations for the security of countries against wilful attacks lay down opinions about the just settlement of disputed questions of nationality and the liberation of nations or part of such from allegiance to a state or empire of different or mixed nationalities. It seems to become a necessity to make clear whether a Power or coalition of such can be justified to put in the list of their war aims the liberation of nationalities without sufficient proof that the latter all want to sever their connection with the state or empire to which they just belong.
The Tcheques in Austria and the Finns in Russia strive for their full autonomy within these empires, but they have very little shown of a desire to become a separate state. An opinion that wars for abstruse benefits never asked for can under no circumstances be regarded as liberation wars would wrong nobody because it would apply to all, but it may contribute much to have designs given up which otherwise would uselessly cause bloodshed and prolonged enmities.
The conference would also be justified in taking measures to procure an impartial expert opinion on the origin and the legal conduct of the war and the general principles of national and international right involved.
If the conference would invite neutral experts in international law of general renown to investigate the questions indicated above and draw up reports it would not by this offend in the smallest degree against the requirements of impartiality. But the reports could, if based on careful examination and considerately worded, contribute very much to soften the excited minds in the countries engaged and facilitate the preliminaries of a genuine peace.
There are, no doubt, all sorts of objections that could be raised against this suggestion. But they can be met satisfactorily if the matter is taken up in earnest and with practical mind. The principal difficulty to overcome is time; no time must be wasted by research in far-fetched details. It is a comparatively short list of pertinent questions which would have to be answered, and the materials of their examination are already at hand in the declarations and documentary publications of the different governments themselves which want to be verified by juxtaposition with the corresponding publications of the other side and to be scrutinised upon their intrinsic significance. Works of conscientious legists and historians that could serve as specimens are not missing. But they are occasioned by private enterprise and express opinions not always in the measured language that would alone fit the purpose here in view.
This purpose is to direct the minds of the greatest possible number of people in the affected countries to such way of regarding the questions of the war and to such comprehension of the feeling of the other side as are the necessary conditions of a sane and sober appreciation of the nature and the possibilities of a reasonable peace. The present feeling in these sections of the public which form public opinion in this country as in England and in France, is as full of bitterness as can be. A cure is badly wanted, but it does not proceed automatically. Weariness of the war is there, but it is counteracted partly by the manifold incidents of the war itself, by the appetites it has awakened, by the mutual distrust it has created.
It might be objected that one can hardly expect a number of even neutral experts to come to a concerted opinion on these points. But it would be of little consequence if the experts, instead of agreeing on a common report, would publish majority and minority reports. What matters is that opinions of qualified experts are at all drawn up and published, so that discussion is as much as possible free from the effects of the biased speeches of interested statesmen and other politicians and their press. The report or reports would also be of use when an armistice at least had been agreed upon and a conference for the conclusion of a peace is sitting. And even if the work of the invited experts should take more time than the conclusion of the peace itself, the reports might still be of considerable value. For what matters is not only that a peace is come to but also that the nations should afterward possess authoritative impartial opinions on the main questions of consequence connected with the origin and the conduct of the war. For such opinions would educate the poisoned minds to an objective and argumentative discussion of the means to prevent a repetition of the present disaster.
Only those who live in the affected countries can be aware how great the need is for providing the general public with unbiased authoritative expositions of these questions.
Finally the conference could and should also discuss in a pertinent way the question of disarmament. This question has to-day reached a stage much beyond that of mere desirability. It is now a question of commanding necessity, one can justly say of life and death of the reached stage of civilisation. Not pious wishes or theoretical expositions will in regard to it now suffice. We must have practical proposals, proposals of a scheme to put disarmament into practice and proposals of the means to induce the different states to accept the scheme and to carry it out.
It is a big and pretentious programme here suggested, the first to be decided by breaks with the old principle of non-interference in state affairs. But the times are so exceptional that extraordinary measures cannot be shunned. If one sees two lads fight each other with their fists or even sticks one may well say, "Let them first fight it out and then we shall see to bring them to reason." But if they stand on board a ship and, mad with rage, and, without interruption and unremittingly, throw incendiary matter at each other you would rather stop them before the ship is in flames. Under other conditions it might be the right thing to convoke a conference to be held after the war is over. As it is now, reason would demand not to adjourn the term to that juncture. This is not the place to adjudicate responsibilities. Suffice it to say that the present aspect of the conflict is the worst since its beginnings and threatens aggravations of its horrors.
Of all the neutrals none is more predestined to take the initiative in this grave matter than the United States of America, by their great power, by their geographical position, by the ethnological composition of their citizens and last, but not least, by their historical traditions they before all are called to act. The small European nations are already, as it were, too much under the fire around them to be so free in their action as is the government of the giant republic on the western hemisphere. But that they would with the greatest readiness join in the convocation of a conference for the settlement of at least the two first of the described subjects is sure beyond any doubt.
The leader in the arrangement of this conference is, in my opinion, the least objectionable, and at the same time it is the most promising help that in the present appallingly entangled situation America can give Europe. The Old World is poisoned. The virus of the most irrational hatred of its component sections against each other, inoculated into them by all sorts of false leaders of opinion, eats deeper and deeper and threatens to mortify all the roots of a wholesome life. May the United States of America help a disunited Europe to find the way out of the deadly miasmatic jungle into which it has lost itself.
THE HELPLESSNESS OF EUROPE
BY —— ——, MEMBER OF THE REICHSTAG
Europe is in the position of a wanderer who has gone astray into a swamp. In vain he labours to regain firm ground. The more frantically he struggles the surer he is to become submerged. Like an infant child he is unable to help himself. Help must come from people outside the swamp.
We are now in the third year of the biggest, the most fratricidal and the most hopeless war the world has ever seen. It is hopeless in so far as on the one side none of the two coalitions is likely to be in a visible time as much the victor over the other that it can dictate it its own terms, and as on the other side there is no common basis to be seen for a sensible compromise. It is not the extravagance of demands that forms an insuperable barrier for peace. Extravagant terms of peace have indeed been formulated by unauthorised persons or groups but they have nowhere received the sanctioning stamp of the responsible governments. The latter prefer rather to shine by the moderation of their demands, at least as far as territory is concerned. But it is just this apparent moderation that makes peace such an almost insoluble problem.
Far behind this moderation in regard to territorial demands looms the desire to destroy the opponents' chances of political predominance. The war is, for the present at least, in the first instance a struggle about the supremacy in Europe. And this perhaps more in a negative sense than otherwise. Jingoes are, of course, everywhere in high and low quarters, but it is very doubtful whether one of the responsible heads of the belligerent nations pursues for himself or his nation seriously and consistently what might be called the mastery of Europe. All are, however, dead against the idea that this mastery might pass into the other camp. Comparatively easy as it is to settle a dispute on questions of territory by arbitration or to work out schemes for compromise in regard to such, so difficult or almost impossible it would be to arbitrate on a question of actual supremacy or to settle it by compromise.
Particularly in the camp of the Allies is the possibility lest Germany might emerge out of the war the actual arbiter of Europe conceived as an unbearable thought. None of the allied Powers, neither England nor France and not even Russia, Italy being in this respect quite out of question, has during the last decades shown a disposition or a pretence to play up to such a part.
But Germany is suspected of nourishing ideas of this kind, and utterances of some of their prominent men, occasional sayings of the Kaiser included, tend to give substance to this suspicion. In vain Germans object that their country has all the 44 years since 1870 kept the peace in Europe. We have done the same, would the others reply, and we have not, as Germany has done, again and again threatened war when things did not run according to her wishes or humours. Germany has in fact abstained from actual peace breaking. But she was regarded and has not a little done to acquire the fame, as the latent or virtual disturbing element in European politics.
This view in regard to political Germany has greatly been enhanced through many of her actions during the present war. It is natural enough, though not particularly edifying, that in a war each party ascribes all the guilt thereof to the opponents and poses as the innocent who maliciously was surprised when not dreaming of any harm. But the cantankerous way in which almost the whole political and intellectual Germany has handled this question and has treated it as a crime not to take in every respect the German view of the case and of all the details of warfare has strengthened the feeling that this nation has come to regard itself as a sort of high judge of Europe. People were reminded of that ill-considered harangue to German soldiers at the time of the China expedition when they were entreated to act towards the Chinese like the Huns under Attila. This and the eagerness to crush by overwhelming power every small nation that ventures to take sides with the Allies as well as the proclaiming of rights for submarines and Zeppelins upon her own authority—these and similar measures have only been too suited to nourish the conception that Germany places herself in the role of the scourge of God.
How this feeling reacts upon political thought is illustrated by a conversation a German socialist has had in the summer of 1915 on neutral ground with a French socialist politician of no jingoish leanings at all on the possibilities of peace. Even if Germany declared herself ready to relinquish Belgium and to return to France every inch of ground occupied, his countrymen would not accept peace from her, explained the Frenchman. And on the question, "Why not?" he replied passionately: "Because it would be the German peace; because it would yet leave Germany the all powerful of Europe; because it would make us depend upon the whims and tempers of that conceited military nation."
"But are you going to bleed yourself to death?" was the next question, and the reply, uttered in a voice where sadness mingled with determination, was:
"Yes, rather be ruined!"
This is a specimen of the feeling created by the present war, and I am afraid the sentiment has not abated a whit yet. Germans have done a good deal in attempts to detach the French from the English. They have told them that they are only the poor seduced tools of the base and egotistic Britishers, that Germans did not bear them any malice, that they rather pitied them and would fain be ready to come to terms with them. But declarations of this sort proved only how little the French mentality was understood this side of the Vosges. The French nation is too much impressed by the memory of her great past and the part played by her in European politics to stand being pitied and patted like children of tender age. It will be respected as an equal who acts with the full knowledge of the state of things and is too much given to political reflection to accept willingly any view of the war that visibly is coloured by the interest of Germany in the dissension between the two great Powers of Western Europe. The anti-German feeling runs still very high in France; her leading papers excel without any exception in extremely harsh language against everything German, and the great mass of those who in former years had propagated the idea of a Franco-German understanding are now dead against it.
A similar feeling has step by step got hold of the British nation. From not being very popular at its beginning in England, the war has come to be regarded as a greater national concern than any of its predecessors. The frantic if not hysterical outbursts of hatred against England in Germany when the former decided to stand by France in the war were at first not taken too seriously. But by and by the unceasing utterances of spite have, together with the known acts of German aerial and submarine warfare, deeply reacted on the British mind. The feeling is now general that England has never before had an enemy so full of hatred against her, so ardently desirous of causing her irreparable harm as she now has in present day Germany.
Even such socialist papers as the New Statesman, which before the war had no anti-German bias at all, have arrived at the same conclusion concerning what may be called a German peace as the French socialist politician whose opinions were given above characterised it. In an article called "The Case for the Allies," and especially addressed to Americans, the New Statesman explains in its number of December 30th that peace with an unbeaten Germany would mean "Mittel Europa from the Baltic to the Black Sea," that nothing would prevent its expansion through the Balkans to El Arish and Bagdad, that throughout this vast area the authority, if not the suzerainty, of Berlin would be acknowledged and that the small European States north and northwest of Germany would without any resistance—by the mere force of things—come to be subjected to the dictate of Germany. In the words of the New Statesman, as the result of an inconclusive peace, "militarism would be more firmly established than ever by the record of its marvellous success and by the manifest need for a military organisation proportionate to so vast an expansion."
Is this feeling justified? Does it appreciate facts at their exact value? There is undoubtedly an influential section in Germany which entertains feelings of this kind. It has its adherents particularly in naval circles and amongst the intellectuals of the nation and in a considerable degree also in the financial world. These sections hate in England partly the happy possessor of what in their opinion ought by right to belong to the German race and partly the power without which German expansion would meet with no resistance worth speaking of by European nations. This section of anti-English on principle or by deeply rooted hatred, influential as it is, is, however, not the whole nation. It has only now the hold of her mind because it has succeeded in instilling into her the belief that England is the secret manufacturer of the present war, that she is the selfish fermenter of hatred in Europe, the scheming brewer of strife on the Continent. England has become to the average German mind a real nightmare, a sort of a Frankenstein or any such spookish monster, and as she now, by the vicissitudes of the war, has indeed become the most dangerous of Germany's opponents it is not possible to educate people from the inside to a more rational view of her part in this war and in European politics altogether.
There you have the greatest hindrances to peace in Europe. I did not mention Russia. But the war between Germany, inclusive of Austria-Hungary, and Russia is of quite a different nature. It is more of a war of the older order. It has, of course, also evoked a good deal of hatred. But on the whole it is as wars go, more of an objective nature. There are material differences on which it would not be impossible to compromise. But there is no such deeply-seated irrational opposition, which now sets Germans and English and French and Germans against each other. The war between the Central Powers and Russia is, comparatively speaking, an accident in the political history of Europe. The war between England, France and Germany is a catastrophe in European civilisation. As a war it is most irrational, and just because of its absurdity it is so utterly difficult to find a solution for it, and there is little hope that unless some outside force intervenes, it may end otherwise than by absolute general exhaustion.
Things would be otherwise if there were reasonable hopes of a concerted action on the part of the international union of the socialist parties. But such hopes, if they ever could be entertained, have by now become a thing of the past. In the three countries named the majority of the leaders of organised labour have taken sides in the war alongside of their governments and have by this more or less given up independency and lost the confidence of their former comrades in the opposite camp. Distrust, which in general has so much contributed to bring about this war, prevails also in the ranks of the socialists in regard to the leaders of the movement on the other side of the frontier. Minorities everywhere work for a greater independency as a step to a better international understanding. But they have as yet nowhere succeeded in winning the majority of the movement over to their views and policy, and even if they did, all sorts of hindrances would by the governments be put in the way of these Socialists to assemble internationally in sufficient number for work of this nature.
Nor is it to be expected that revolts of the discontented masses will be vast enough to force the governments into peace negotiations against their will. The possibilities of centralised governments against revolutionary upheavals as long as these remain locally isolated, which in the face of the enormous extent of the section of the globe directly drawn into the war is most probable, are too great to let these movements have a great chance of changing the policy of the rulers. This would only happen when at least some of these classes or parties which at present support the war come round to their opinion, of which very few signs are at present to be seen. The work of small minorities everywhere, the war has got hold of the minds of the millions in all countries and has filled nations against nations with such distrust and spite as in the history of civilised mankind never before have been witnessed.
How little we are justified to expect peace from the action of these socialists who stand by governments in the war is, as far as my own country is concerned, shown by the fact that the big meetings now (and, I am willing to admit, it is the intention of the initiators to hold them in favour of peace) led by the leaders of the majority of the social-democratic party, such as Messrs. Scheidemann, David, Ebert and others, turn out in practice as meetings in support of the policy of the government in regard to the question of war and peace. In order to defend their own political attitude the speakers are compelled to shift the responsibility for the war and its continuation wholly on the shoulders of the governments of the opposite countries and their supporters, and by this they increase in the mind of their hearers the conviction that nothing short of a defeat of these countries will bring the war to a desirable end. In England the majority of the Labour Party and a considerable number of the best known socialist leaders and in France the most influential leaders of socialist party support also the war policy of their respective governments in all principal issues. The well meant and praiseworthy attempts to convene a full International Socialist Congress for the purpose of settling these differences by finding a common line of action are, I am sorry to say, under the circumstances most likely to prove abortive. They will founder on the self-contradiction that the Socialists of the Entente countries argue that their governments hate the idea of German militarism coming out unbeaten and unreduced out of this war which in their opinion was provoked by it, whilst the leaders of the German Socialists in power would rather see this same militarism which they in former years have so violently attacked and denounced, come out victorious than have it interfered with by outside influence.
In short, sections of the socialist movement will assist other forces in the action for peace, but the movement as a whole is incapable to act in the matter as a force of compelling strength.
Help must in the main come from outside. Consequently President Wilson's action in his note to the belligerents of December 20th would have been the right thing, even if it had offended in some way against the rules of diplomatic procedure. Under so exceptional circumstances as these occasioned by the present war extraordinary steps are certainly justified and breaches of etiquette of little significance. But the note was faultless in this respect, and it can moreover be said that in no way did it endanger legitimate interests of the one or the other section of the belligerents. It offends only in spirit against Cain's word, "Am I my brother's keeper?" and in distinct words against the conception that war is a private affair of states may it ever so much interfere with the material and moral welfare of other nations.
The step has not at once succeeded. But it has opened the way; nay, it has forced the door open for discussion in a fashion that nobody will be strong enough to shut it again. True, the Central Powers have by their offer of peace negotiations forestalled the note by a week. But this offer would have come to naught without Mr. Wilson's action. Harsh as the reply of the Allies is to the offer, it would most likely have been put in much more negating terms had not the American note caused the Entente Allies to avoid a blunt "No" and content themselves with raising objections and interjecting accusations. By this they have willy-nilly provoked a debate and instead of shutting the door kept it well open.
People may call this a small success. In fact it is a beginning, and for the first as such sufficient. The question is now what shall the next step be and how can the debate be directed to positive proposals?
Of course, as these articles were given by this Socialist-Author for publication any one is at liberty to reproduce them.
In conducting the peace negotiations, President Wilson will have the benefit of the services of Colonel House, the one man who, I believe, is best fitted to protect the interests of America and of humanity at such a conference. I, of course, saw Colonel House during the war in Berlin and in America and I consider that no man alive is his superior in either knowledge of the whole situation or in ability to cope with the trained diplomats of Europe. Human nature is much the same and the gentle mannered Texan who has been so successful in American politics will not fail when representing us at the table of Peace.
AFTER THE WAR, WHAT?
No one but a fortune teller or professional seer dares to predict the condition of the world after this war. Only mere suggestions can be thrown out, shadows of prophecy as to what may come.
Will the tide of emigration turn from Europe and the United States to other countries or will people of German birth and descent leave America to return to the Fatherland after the war?
I made it my business after I had learned German to talk to many of the plain people in Berlin and elsewhere, to get their views. I found that the common soldiers, especially those representing the class of skilled workingmen in the industrial centres were almost unanimous in saying that after the war and at the first opportunity they intended to leave Germany, to turn from a country capable of perpetrating this calamity on the world, a country where they have been subject not alone to military service but to a cruel and oppressive caste system of discipline. I believe that Germany will enact laws against emigration and that there will be zones of espionage on all German frontiers designed to watch and keep back such Germans as may seek to escape to other countries.
In Austria even more stringent laws will be necessary to keep the unmarried males from leaving.
I know that experts of the United States Government believe at least three millions of Slovaks, Greeks, etc., will leave America after the war, taking with them the money they have earned, for investment in new opportunities in the Old Country.
With this view I cannot agree. The soil of the European continent is too poor, wages too small, hours too long, and distaste for the military and caste systems too great, to tempt those who have tasted the equality and the freedom of America. Why to-day an ordinary coal miner in Pennsylvania can earn $5,000 a year—a sum greater than the pay of a Prussian or Austrian general! Why should this miner go back to insult and slavery?
The greatest problem of Germany comes after the war—when these millions of men, trained for four years or more to murder, shall return. It will be hard for them to settle down to regular work, impossible for them to submit again to the iron discipline of German civil life. Will they not, as Bloch predicts, possibly, re-enact the horrors of the French Commune, or even those of the French Revolution?
It is hard to understand why Prussian autocracy does not freely offer what it will be compelled to give after the war—equal suffrage in Prussia, fair representation in the Reichstag—a government responsible to the Reichstag. Is it not better for the Emperor to offer this—following Bismarck's saying that "in Prussia the revolutions are made by the rulers."
And who of all rulers in history seemed to sit more securely on his throne than Nicholas who is now learning from his keepers what a Czar really is?
The Emperor said to me once, "Is it not wonderful how the German people bear their sufferings in this war?" I said I thought it was wonderful. It is that and more,—it is almost a miracle—that a whole nation can so nearly approach this delirium.
The autocratic idea survives in Germany—on November 22, 1917, the Conservative Union of the Province of Brandenburg unanimously adopted the following resolution.
"The Prussian State, fundamentally a people of its Princes, is the foundation on which the German Empire rests.
"Not sovereignty of the people but Kingship by Divine Right is its corner stone.
"We implore our deputies to do their best to prevent the Kingship being debased into a sham Kingship and being replaced by that sovereignty of the people by means of the alteration of the Prussian franchise."
After reading this can any one wonder that the Kaiser believes he is called by God to rule the Germans?
"Kingship by Divine Right"—is quite a development of a Kingship that originated in foreclosure proceedings, when Prussia was taken for a debt by the crafty, rich Hohenzollern Burgraf of Nuremberg.
Is it any wonder that the Kaiser once said to me during the war, "Everything seems to be going my way—don't you think God is helping me?"
* * * * *
The efforts of those in charge of the German propaganda to sow dissensions among the Allies are more than awkward.
For some time after the landing in force of the British troops in France, the newspapers of Germany were filled with cartoons representing the British refusing to leave Calais; and now that America has entered the war even so intelligent a philosopher as Chancellor Hertling speaks as follows:
"If those who hold power in France forcibly repress every suggestion of peace, and try to rouse fresh will for war by a show of assurance of victory, in spite of the frightful sacrifices the war has cost the country, and must cost still further, it is because they are sustained by the hope of help from America. In this hope they patiently tolerate the Americans also making themselves at home in France, turning Bordeaux into a great American harbour with immense loading and unloading wharves, and cutting down the forests of the Gironde in order to build a camp in the neighbourhood of Bordeaux for the expected army. French workmen tolerate in their factories the competition of American workmen, with whom they are not in sympathy, and the owners allow them to look into the secrets of their business, all so that the new Ally may help to take the revenge on the hated Germans."
Misguided old Philosopher!
The most stupid peasant of the Bordeaux country does not believe that the Americans have come to France in order to occupy permanently a section of that sandy, barren scrub pine desert which stretches to the south of Bordeaux.
* * * * *
And President Wilson and his cabinet, Lloyd George and the statesmen of France and Italy, Portugal and Russia must be on their guard—Wolff's agency is at work, spreading poisonous propaganda. Here is an excerpt that speaks for itself:
"The Imperial and Royal Propaganda Department, Section of Foreign Affairs, calls the editor's attention to the practice of the enemy press in caricaturing the Kaiser, the Crown Prince, Hindenburg and alleged German militarism, with the evident intention of an odius anti-German propaganda. It would, therefore, be important from the patriotic point of view for the daily newspapers also to occupy themselves by means of caricatures with the principal events of the day.
"The idea of such propaganda has been conceived by the supreme military command. And it is therefore desirable that all should conform to it. The official cinema has been ordered by the supreme command to enter into direct communication with the daily press, and many leading newspapers have hastened to express their readiness to insert these patriotic caricatures, for the drawing of which the service of the best artists in Munich and Berlin have been secured. These caricatures will regard chiefly the heads of state of the Entente powers, their political leaders and those who make no mystery of their hatred for Germany. The blocks will be supplied free of expense."
* * * * *
German employers will never be able to grind down their workmen as before the war. The men who have fought in the trenches will return with a new feeling of independence, a new spirit of revolt against the caste prejudices, a disinclination to do the same work in the same hours and for the same wages.
My tailor in Berlin told me that several of his men who had returned after being discharged from the army because of some physical disability or wounds took an entirely different attitude and that one of them, for example, had said to him: "Do not think that I have come back to work as before. I have the Iron Cross, I have helped to save Germany. I am a hero and I do not propose again to be your industrial slave."
That is the new spirit which after the war will animate the deceived, hitherto down-trodden lower classes of Germany.
In our own country, the balance of political power may be held by the soldiers who are enlisted in the war and who, like the G. A. R.'s after our Civil War, may doubtless organise not only for protection but for political purposes. And this great restless body of returned troops, veterans of wars beyond the seas, may change our whole foreign policy in ways of which we do not dream. We shall be a more warlike nation, less patient to bear insult, more ready for war, unless this war ends all wars.
* * * * *
The war after the war, in trade and commerce, may be long and bitter. The rivers of Germany are lined with ships of seven or eight thousand tons, many of them built or completed since the war, and Germany designs as her first play in this commercial war to seize the carrying trade of the world. The German exporter has lost his trade for years. Alliances have already been made in great industries, such as the dyestuff industry, in preparation for a sudden and sustained attack upon that new industry in America. Prices will be cut to far below the cost of production in order that the new industry of America fighting single handed against the single head German trust may be driven from the field. The German Government will take a practical hand in this contest and only the combination of American manufacturers and the erection of a tariff wall of defence can prevent the Americans, if each fights single handed and for his own end, from falling before the united, efficient and bitter assault of German trade rivals.
The war has brought new power and new responsibility to women. Armed with the franchise they will demand not only equal rights but equal pay. In Great Britain alone, before the war, there were less than five hundred thousand women workers where now over five million carry the burden even of the war industries of the country.
Unless the war ends with a victory so decisive for the Allies that an era of universal peace shall dawn for the world, each nation will constitute itself an armed camp fearing always that the German, with his lust for war and conquest, will again terrorise the world by a sudden assault.
And a necessary sequence of this preparation for war will be the desire of each nation to be self-sufficient—to produce within itself those materials indispensable for the waging of war. Capital will be wasted because each nation will store up quantities of these materials necessary to war which it is compelled to import from other countries.
For instance, Germany will always carry great stocks of grain and of fats, of copper and cotton and wool, all of the materials for the lack of which she suffered during the present war.
In my first book, I touched on the change in the industrial system that will be brought about by the socialised buying and selling introduced first by Germany and which must be copied by the other nations if they desire to compete on equal terms with that country. In Germany for several years after the war at least, and perhaps as a permanent regulation, the purchase of all luxuries outside of Germany will be forbidden because of the desire to keep German gold and credits at home.
Germans have even stated to me that they do not fear in a trade way any prejudice created against them in other countries by their actions during this war. They say that a man always will buy where he can buy the cheapest, and that however much a merchant may hate the Germans after the war, if he can buy the goods he wants for his use from Germany at a cheaper rate than anywhere else, he will forget his prejudices in the interest of his pocketbook.
This is a question which each reader will have to solve for himself. Personally, I believe that in England, in France, and in America, too, if the war should last a long time, the prejudice against German trickery and brutality in war will become so great that many a merchant will prefer to lose a little money than deal with German sellers. However, the appeal of the pocketbook is always so earnest and so insistent that the Germans may be right in the view that financial considerations will weigh down the balance as against the prejudice engendered in this struggle. And if there comes a change of government in Germany, if the Hohenzollerns no longer control, or if in a liberalised Germany the ministers are responsible to a popular parliament, while kings sink to the political position of the kings of Great Britain or of Spain, then the commercial prejudice certainly will not last long. The boycott of Germany for fifty years suggested by the American Chamber of Commerce is a most powerful weapon.
And why, if wars are to continue after this one, should we contribute to German trade profits and consequently to German preparations for another war? The nations of the Allies must reckon, too, with the bitter, bitter hate felt for them by the whole German people—and only one who has been in Germany since the war can realise its intensity.
One great factor in forcing a change of government will be the desire of the individual German after the war to say that the government of his country existing then is not the government that ordered the shooting of Edith Cavell, the enslavement of the women and girls of northern France, the deportation of the Belgian workingmen, the horrors of the prison camps, the burning of Louvain and all the other countless barbarities and cruelties ordered by the German military commanders.
Imagine after this war in some distant island, perhaps, a Frenchman, an Englishman, an American, a Portuguese, an Italian all seated at the dining table of a little hotel. A German comes in and seeks to join them. Will he be treated on an equality? Will he be taken into their society? Or will he be treated as a leper and a pariah?
The Germans will wish to be in a position to say: "Why, gentlemen, I was against all these cruelties. I was against the sinking of the Lusitania, and the murder of its women and children. I was against the starving of Poland and the slaughter of the Armenians and the crucifixion of prisoners, and we Germans have thrown out the government that was responsible for these horrors."
Stronger than any other consideration will be the desire of the German to repudiate these acts which have made the Germany of to-day a Cain among the nations,—an outcast branded with the mark of shame.
The Russian author Bloch whom I have quoted, says, referring to the future war:
"Behind all conflicts of interest between nations statesmen must balance the chances of success of their nation, promised by the recourse to arms, against the terrible miseries of the victims caused by war as well as the social peril which can be the consequence of war.
"They who ask themselves when it will be possible to propose to the people of any nation after the war a compensation for its enormous sacrifices, forget that the conquered will be so exhausted that there will be no question of being able to draw from a conquered nation the least pecuniary indemnity. All that can be imposed on the conquered will be the abandonment of some rags of frontier territory.
"In these conditions, up to what point can calm be counted on to reign among the millions of men called to the colours, when in their ranks there is not more than a handful of old officers and when the command will be in the hands of those newly promoted from among the non-commissioned officers? That is to say, men belonging to the working classes. Will these workingmen surrender their arms in the states of Central Europe where the propaganda has spread already among the masses?
"Will they allow themselves to be disarmed after the war and could there not come events more horrible than those which signalised the rapid triumph of the Commune of Paris?"
Just as to-day it is not isolated armies but whole peoples in arms that are opposed, so in the war of commerce after the war not single producers and exporters, corporations or individuals, but whole nations will meet in the markets of the world.
Germany has favoured trusts—controlling prices and unfair competition—and we shall encounter in buying and in selling the whole German nation ranked behind their Central Buying Company in buying and their Kartels in selling.
Isolated firms and individuals cannot on our side cope with such an offensive—but we are hampered in effectiveness by the so-called Sherman law—a law from which England is free.
The war will produce great and sudden alterations and President Wilson in meeting new problems has pursued a progressive course; witness his support of the Webb law, which enables our manufacturers to combine in export trade.
Every sign points to a new era in business—an era in which the Government will permit—even encourage—enlightened business combinations.
The railroads of the country in the efficient hands of McAdoo have already bettered service, and the rights of the Savings Banks and of other holders of the securities of each road have been secured.
We must, on the one hand, permit the abolition of ruinous competition and on the other safeguard the public from high prices, and the smaller firms and corporations from the unfair competition of a powerful rival.
Great changes are coming in the social structure of the world. We are on the threshold of a great readjustment. Whatever else our entrance into the war may accomplish, let us hope that it will have made of us a nation with the throb of a single patriotism and the steady pulse of an energetic efficiency that shall not merely seek in honest rivalry to compete with other nations but in an enlightened and helpful way shall strive truly to heal a wounded civilisation in the God-given days of peace.