The Healing of Nations and the Hidden Sources of Their Strife
by Edward Carpenter
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It must not be thought (but I believe I have said this before) that in making out that the commercial classes are largely to blame for modern wars I mean to say that the present war, and many previous ones, have been directly instigated by commercial folk. It is rather that the atmosphere of commercial competition and rivalry automatically leads up to military rivalries and collisions, which often at the last moment (though not always) turn out contrary to the wishes of the commercial people themselves. Also I would repeat that it is not Commerce but the class interest that is to blame. Commerce and exchange, as we know in a thousand ways, have the effect of drawing peoples together, giving them common interests, acquaintance, and understanding of each other, and so making for peace. The great jubilation during the latter half of the nineteenth century—from 1851 onwards—over world-wide trade and Industrial Exhibitions, as the heralds of the world's peace and amity—a jubilation voiced in Tennyson's earlier Locksley Hall—was to a certain extent justified. There is no doubt that the nations have been drawn together by intertrading and learned to know each other. Bonds, commercial and personal, have grown up between them, and are growing up, which must inevitably make wars more difficult in the future and less desirable. And if it had been possible to carry on this intertrade in a spirit of real friendliness and without grasping or greed the result to-day would be incalculably great. But, unfortunately, this latter element came in to an extent quite unforeseen and blighted the prophetic hopes. The second Locksley Hall was a wail of disillusionment. The growth of large mercantile classes, intoxicated with wealth and pursuing their own interests apart from, and indeed largely in opposition to, those of the mass-peoples, derailed the forward movement, and led in some of the ways which I have indicated above to more of conflict between the nations and less of peace.

Doubtless the growth of these mercantile classes has to a certain extent been inevitable; and we must do them the justice to acknowledge that their enterprise and ingenuity (even set in action for their own private advantage) have been of considerable benefit to the world, and that their growth may represent a necessary stage in affairs. Still, we cannot help looking forward to a time when, this stage having been completed, and commerce between nation and nation having ceased to be handled for mere private profit and advantage, the parasitical power in our midst which preys upon the Commonweal will disappear, the mercantile classes will become organic with the Community, and one great and sinister source of wars will also cease.


[24] See p. 50 above.



There is another point of economics on which there seems to be some confusion of mind. If mere extension of Trade is the thing sought for, it really does not matter much, in these days of swift and international transport, whether the outlying lands with which the Trader deals or the ports through which he deals are the property of his own nation or of some other nation. The trade goes on all the same. England certainly has colonies all over the world; but with her free trade and open ports it often happens that one of her colonies takes more German or French goods of a certain class than English goods of the same class; or that it exports more to Germany and France than it does to England. The bulk, for instance, of the produce of our West African colonies goes, in normal times, to Germany. German or French trade does not suffer in dealing with English colonies, though English trade may sometimes suffer in dealing with French, German or other foreign colonies on account of the preferential duties they put on in favour of their own goods. Except for these tariff-walls and bounty systems (which after all, on account of their disturbing and crippling effect, seem to be gradually going out of fashion) trade flows over the world, regardless of national barriers, and will continue so to flow. It is all a question of relative efficiency and price. German goods, owing to their cheapness and their accuracy of construction, have of late years been penetrating everywhere; and to the German trader, as a pure matter of trade, it makes no difference whether he sells to a foreign nation or a German colony.

It is the same with seaports. Holland is delighted to provide passage for Germany's exports and imports, and probably does so at a minimum cost. The Berlin manufacturer or merchant would be no better off, as far as trade conditions are concerned, if Germany instead of Holland held the mouths of the Rhine. The same with a harbour like Salonika. Germany or Austria may covet dreadfully its possession; and for strategic or political reasons they may be right, but for pure trade purposes Salonika in the hands of the Greeks would probably (except for certain initial expenses in the enlargement of dock accommodation) serve them as well as in their own hands.

Of course there are other reasons which make nations desire colonies and ports. Such things may be useful for offensive or defensive purposes against other nations; they feed a jealous sense of importance and Imperialism; they provide outlets for population and access to lands where the institutions and customs of the Homeland prevail; they supply financiers with a field for the investment of capital under the protection of their own Governments; they favour the development of a national carrying trade; and, above all, they supply plentiful official and other posts and situations for the young men of the middle and commercial classes; but for the mere extension and development of the nation's general trade and commerce it is doubtful whether they have anything like the importance commonly credited to them.



January, 1915.

It seems that War, like all greatest things—like Passion, Politics, Religion, and so forth—is impossible to reckon up. It belongs to another plane of existence than our ordinary workaday life, and breaks into the latter as violently and unreasonably, as a volcano into the cool pastures where cows and sheep are grazing. No arguments, protests, proofs, or explanations are of any avail; and those that are advanced are confused, contradictory, and unconvincing. Just as people quarrel most violently over Politics and Religion, because, in fact, those are the two subjects which no one really understands, so they quarrel in Warfare, not really knowing why, but impelled by deep, inscrutable forces. Spectators even and neutrals, for the same reason, take sides and range themselves bitterly, if only in argument, against each other.

But Logic and Morals are of no use on these occasions. They are too thin. They are only threads in a vast fabric. You extract a single thread from the weaving of a carpet, and note its colour and its concatenations, but that gives you no faintest idea of the pattern of the carpet; and then you extract another, and another, but you are no nearer the design. Logic and morals are similar threads in the great web of life. You may follow them in various directions, but without effective result. Life is so much greater than either; and War is a volcanic manifestation of Life which gives them little or no heed.

There is a madness of nations, as well as of individual people. Every one who has paid attention to the fluctuations of popular sentiment knows how strange, how unaccountable, these are. They seem to suggest the coming to the surface, from time to time, of hidden waves—groundswells of some deep ocean. The temper, the temperament, the character, the policy of a whole nation will change, and it is difficult to see why. Sometimes a passion, a fury, a veritable mania, quite unlike its ordinary self, will seize it. There is a madness of peoples, which causes them for a while to hate each other with bitter hatred, to fight furiously and wound and injure each other; and then lo! a little while more and they are shaking hands and embracing and swearing eternal friendship! What does it all mean?

It is all as mad and unreasonable as Love is—and that is saying a good deal! In love, too, people desire to hurt each other; they do not hesitate to wound one another—wounding hearts, wounding bodies even, and hating themselves even while they act so. What does it all mean? Are they trying the one to reach the other at all costs—if not by embraces, at least by injuries—each longing to make his or her personality felt, to impress himself or herself upon the other in such wise as never again to be forgotten. Sometimes a man will stab the girl he loves, if he cannot get at her any other way. Sex itself is a positive battle. Lust connects itself only too frequently with violence and the spilling of blood.

Is it possible that something the same happens with whole nations and peoples—an actual lust and passion of conflict, a mad intercourse and ravishment, a kind of generation in each other, and exchange of life-essences, leaving the two peoples thereafter never more the same, but each strangely fertilized towards the future? Is it this that explains the extraordinary ecstasy which men experience on the battlefield, even amid all the horrors—an ecstasy so great that it calls them again and again to return? "Have you noticed," says one of our War correspondents,[25] "how many of our colonels fall? Do you know why? It is for five minutes of life. It is for the joy of riding, when the charge sounds, at the crest of a wave of men."

Is it this that explains the curious fact that Wars—notwithstanding all their bitterness and brutishness—do not infrequently lead to strange amalgamations and generations? The spreading of the seeds of Greek culture over the then known world by Alexander's conquests, or the fertilizing of Europe with the germs of republican and revolutionary ideas by the armies of Napoleon, or the immense reaction on the mediaeval Christian nations caused by the Crusades, are commonplaces of history; and who—to come to quite modern times—could have foreseen that the Boer War would end in the present positive alliance between the Dutch and English in South Africa, or that the Russo-Japanese conflict would so profoundly modify the ideas and outlook of the two peoples concerned?

In making these remarks I do not for a moment say that the gains resulting from War are worth the suffering caused by it, or that the gains are not worth the suffering. The whole subject is too vast and obscure for one to venture to dogmatize on it. I only say that if we are to find any order and law (as we must inevitably try to do) in these convulsions of peoples, these tempests of human history, it is probably in the direction that I have indicated.

Of course we need not leave out of sight the ordinary theory and explanation, that wars are simply a part of the general struggle for existence—culminating explosions of hatred and mutual destruction between peoples who are competing with each other for the means of subsistence. That there is something in this view one can hardly deny; and it is one which I have already touched upon. Still, I cannot help thinking that there is something even deeper—something that connects War with the amatory instinct; and that this probably is to be found in the direction of a physiological impact and fusion between the two (or more) peoples concerned, which fertilizes and regenerates them, and is perhaps as necessary in the life of Nations as the fusion of cells is in the life of Protozoa, or the phenomena of sex in the evolution of Man.

And while the Nations fight, the little mortals who represent them have only the faintest idea of what is really going on, of what the warfare means. They feel the sweep of immense passions; ecstasies and horrors convulse and dislocate their minds; but they do not, cannot, understand. And the dear creatures in the trenches and the firing-lines give their lives—equally beautiful, equally justified, on both sides: fascinated, rapt, beyond and beside themselves, as foes hating each other with a deadly hatred; seized with hideous, furious, nerve-racking passions; performing heroic, magnificent deeds, suffering untold, indescribable wounds and pains, and lying finally side by side (as not unfrequently happens) on the deserted battlefield, reconciled and redeemed and clasping hands of amity even in death.


[25] H.M. Tomlinson, in the Daily News.



Some cheerful and rather innocent people insist that because of the over-population difficulty wars must go on for ever. The population of the world, they say—or at any rate of the civilized countries—is constantly increasing, and if war did not from time to time reduce the numbers there would soon be a deadlock. They seem to think that the only way to solve the problem is for the men to murder each other. This says nothing about the women, who, after all, are the chief instruments of multiplication. It may also be pointed out that even the barbaric method of slaughter is not practicable. Although wars of extermination may have now and then occurred in the past among tribes and small peoples, such wars are not considered decent nowadays; and the numbers killed in modern campaigns—horribly "scientific" and "efficient" as the methods are—is such a small fraction of the population concerned as to have no appreciable result. The population of Germany is about seventy millions, and I suppose the wildest anti-Teuton could hardly hope that more than a million Germans will be actually killed in the present conflict—less than 1-1/2 per cent.—a fraction which would probably soon be compensated by the increased uxoriousness of the returning troops.

No, War is no solution for the over-population question. If that question is a difficulty, other means must be employed. We ask therefore: (1) Is it a serious difficulty? (2) If so, what is the remedy?

That over-population is in certain localities a serious difficulty few would deny. China, with her four hundred millions, is probably over-populated; that is, with her present resources in production the population presses against the margin of subsistence and can only just maintain itself. There is evidence to show that in the past the natives of some of the Pacific islands, isolated in the great ocean and unable to migrate to other lands, have suffered from the same trouble. Britain is often said to be over-populated; but here quite other considerations come in. Though it might be pleasant for many reasons to have more land at our immediate command, we cannot fairly say that our population presses against the margin of subsistence, for the simple reason that with our immense powers of industrial production and the enormous wealth here yearly obtained the total, if evenly distributed (anything like as well, for instance, as in China), would yield to every man, woman, and child in the United Kingdom an ample affluence.[26] The appearance here of over-population arises from the fact that while the wage-earners actually produce this mass of wealth, two-thirds of it are taken by the employers and employing classes. Great portions, therefore, of the actual producers or producing classes are on the margin of subsistence, while the rest of the wealth of the country is absorbed by those trading and dividend-consuming classes of whom I have spoken more than once in previous pages. There is over-population certainly, but it is an over-population (as any one may see who walks through the West End of London or the corresponding quarters of any of our large towns) of idlers and futile people, who are a burden to the nation. With our extraordinary industrial system—or want of system—it commonly happens that the abundance of ill-paid or unemployed workers at one end of the social scale, by reducing the rates of wages and so increasing the rates of dividends, actually creates a greater abundance of unemployed rich at the other end; but neither excess points in itself to over-population —only to a diseased state of distribution. What we really ought to aim at creating is a nation in which every one was capable of doing useful or beautiful work of some kind or other and was gladly occupied in doing it. Such a nation would be truly healthy. It would be powerful and productive beyond all our present dreams. But the Western nations of to-day, with their huge burdens of unskilled, ill-grown poor and their huge burden of incompetent, feeble rich—it is a wonder that they survive. They would not survive a decade or two if the Chinese or the Japanese in their numbers were to come into personal and direct competition with them.

If Britain is not really at present over-populated, the same is probably even more true of Germany. For Germany, with a larger and more fertile area in proportion to her population, is safer than we are in the matter of self-support. But again in Germany the outcry of over-population has arisen, and has arisen from the same cause as here—namely, the rise of the commercial system, the division of the nation into extremes of poverty and riches, and the consequent appearance of excess population in both directions. And this diseased state of the nation has led to a fever of "expansion" and has been (as already said) one of the chief causes of the present war. As long as the modern nations are such fools as to conduct their industrial affairs in the existing way they will not only be full of strife, disease, and discord in themselves, but they will inevitably quarrel with their neighbours.

All this, however, does not prove that a genuine over-population difficulty may not occur even now in localities, and possibly in some far future time over the whole earth. And it may be just as well to consider these possibilities.

Dismissing War and Disease as solutions—as belonging to barbarous and ignorant ages of human evolution—there remain, perhaps, three rational methods of dealing with the question: (1) the organization and improvement of industrial production on existing lands so far as to allow the support of a larger population; (2) the transport of excess populations to new and undeveloped lands (colonization); (3) the limitation of families.

The first method hardly needs discussion here. Its importance is too obvious. It needs, however, more public discussion in England than it has hitherto received. The second method—operating at present only in a very casual and unsystematic way—ought, one would say, to be very systematically considered and dealt with by the modern States. For a nation to plant out large bodies of colonists on comparatively unoccupied lands, as in Africa or Australia or Canada, in a deliberate and organized fashion, with every facility towards co-operation and success, and yet on the principle of leaving, each colonial unit plenty of freedom and autonomy, would not be a very difficult task, nor a very expensive one, considering the end in view. And in such a case there would really be no adequate reason for jealousy between States having colonies in the neighbourhood of each other. If Germany (or any other country) wishes to have a colony in East Africa or West Africa, it is really ridiculous to go to war about such a matter. Any peaceful arrangement would be less expensive; and, as a matter of fact, a flourishing German (or other) colony in the neighbourhood of a British settlement would help to bring prosperity to the latter. The two colonies would benefit each other. It is only unreasoning jealousy which prevents people understanding this.

Finally, there is the third method, of the intentional limitation of families. Surely the time has come when blind and unlimited propagation among civilized and self-respecting peoples must come to an end. The old text "Blessed is he that hath his quiver full of them" has ceased to have any use or application. Eugenic and healthy conditions of child-rearing and nurture demand small families. The well-to-do and educated do already limit their families; and for the poorer classes to breed and propagate indefinitely is only to play into the hands of the dividend-hunting rich by increasing the supply of cheap labour, while at the same time the general standard of the population becomes more and more degraded. It is indeed a curious question why, in the Press and among the official classes, every effort to spread abroad the knowledge of how in a healthy, humane, and eugenic way to limit the size of the family is discountenanced. Sometimes one thinks that this is done partly in order to encourage that said pullulation of workers which is so favourable to, the keeping down of wages; but, of course, ancient reasons of ignorance and religious bias weigh also. In the United States the persecutions of Comstockery are worse than here.

The aborigines of Australia are so ignorant that they do not even know that conception arises from the meeting of the male and female elements. They think that certain bushes and trees are haunted by the spirits of babies, which leap unawares into the bodies of passing women. It can be imagined what evils and delusions spring from such a theory. We do not want to return to such a period; and yet it would seem that many folk do not want to go forward from our present condition, with all its evils and delusions, to something better and more intelligent.

If the nations haven't the sense to be able (if they wish) to limit their families—short of resorting to such methods as War, Cannibalism, the spread of Disease, the exposure of Infants, and the like—one can only conclude that they must go on fighting and preying upon each other (industrially and militarily) till they gain the sense. Mere unbridled and irrational lust may have led to wars of extermination in the past. Love and the sacrament of a true and intimate union may come some day with the era of peace.


[26] Militating also against the idea of over-population is the fact that so much of our agricultural land is obviously uncared for and neglected.



January, 1915.

Fighting is certainly a deeply ingrained instinct in the human race—the masculine portion. In the long history of human development it has undoubtedly played an important part. It has even (such is the cussedness and contrariety of Nature) helped greatly in the evolution of love and social solidarity. There is no greater bond in early stages between the members of a group or tribe than the consciousness that they have a common enemy.[27] It is also obviously still a great pleasure to a very large proportion of our male populations—as, indeed, the fact of its being the fulfilment of a deep instinct would lead us to expect. It does not follow, however, from these remarks that we expect war in its crudest form to continue for ever. There will come a term to this phase of evolution. Probably the impact and collision between nations—if required for their impregnation and fecundity—will come about in some other way.

If fighting is an ingrained instinct, the sociable or friendly instinct is equally ingrained. We may, indeed, suppose it roots deeper. In the midst of warfare maddest foes will turn and embrace each other. In the tale of Cuchulain of Muirthemne[28] he (Cuchulain) and Ferdiad fought for three days on end, yet at the close of each day kissed each other affectionately; and in the present war there are hundreds of stories already in circulation of acts of grace and tenderness between enemies, as well as the quaintest quips and jokes and demonstrations of sociability between men in opposing trenches who "ought" to have been slaying each other. In the Russo-Japanese War during the winter, when military movement was not easy, and the enemy lines in some cases were very near each other, the men, Russians and Japanese, played games together as a convenient and pleasant way of passing the time, and not unfrequently took to snowballing each other.

A friend of mine, who was in that war, told me the following story. The Japanese troops were attacking one of the forts near Port Arthur with their usual desperate valour. They cut zig-zag trenches up the hillside, and finally stormed and took a Russian trench close under the guns of the fort. The Russians fled, leaving their dead and wounded behind. After the melee, when night fell, five Japanese found themselves in that particular trench with seven Russians—all pretty badly wounded—with many others of course dead. The riflemen in the fort were in such a nervous state, that at the slightest movement in the trench they fired, regardless of whom they might hit. The whole party remained quiet during the night and most of the next day. They were suffering from wounds, and without food or water, but they dared not move; they managed, however, to converse with each other a little—especially through the Japanese lieutenant, who knew a little Russian. On the second night the fever for water became severe. One of the less wounded Russians volunteered to go and fetch some. He raised himself from the ground, stood up in the darkness, but was discerned from the fort, and shot. A second Russian did the same and was shot. A Japanese did likewise. Then the rest lay, quiet again. Finally, the darkness having increased and the thirst and the wounds being intolerable, the Japanese lieutenant, who had been wounded in the legs and could not move about, said that if one of the remaining Russians would take him on his back he would guide the whole party into a place of safety in the Japanese lines. So they did. The Russian soldier crawled on his belly with the Japanese officer lying on his back, and the others followed, keeping close to the ground. They reached the Japanese quarters, and were immediately, looked after and cared for. A few days afterwards the five Russians came on board the transport on which my friend was engineer. They were being taken as prisoners to Japan; but the Japanese crew could not do enough for them in the way of tea and cigarettes and dressing their wounds, and they made quite a jolly party all together on deck. The Japanese officer was also on board, and he told my friend the story.

Gallantry towards the enemy has figured largely in the history of War—sometimes as an individual impulse, sometimes as a recognized instruction. European records afford us plenty of examples. The Chinese, always great sticklers for politeness, used to insist in early times that a warrior should not take advantage of his enemy when the latter had emptied his quiver, but wait for him to pick up his arrows before going on with the fight. And in one tale of old Japan, when one Daimio was besieging another, the besieged party, having run short of ammunition, requested a truce in order to fetch some more—which the besiegers courteously granted!

The British officer who the other day picked up a wounded German soldier and carried him across into the German lines, acted in quite the same spirit. He saw that the man had been left accidentally when the Germans were clearing away their wounded; and quite simply he walked forward with the object of restoring him. But it cost him his life; for the Germans, not at first perceiving his intention, fired and hit him in two or three places. Nevertheless he lifted the man and succeeded in bearing him to the German trench. The firing of course ceased, and the German colonel saluted and thanked the officer, and pinned a ribbon to his coat. He returned to the British lines, but died shortly after of the wounds received.

"Ils sont superbes, ces braves!" said a French soldier in hospital to Mrs. Haden Guest, indicating the German wounded also there. And a dying German whispered to her: "I would never have fought against the French and English had I known how kind they were. I was told that I was only going on manoeuvres!"[29]

The French are generous in the recognition of bravery. A small company rushed a Prussian battery in the neighbourhood of the Aisne and put all the gunners out of action, except one who fought gamely to the last and would not give in till he was fairly surrounded and made prisoner. "Tu est chic, tu—tu est bien chic" shouted the pioupious with one accord, and shook him cordially by the hand as they led him away. How preposterous do such stories as these make warfare appear!—and others, such as the two opposing forces tacitly agreeing to fetch water at the evening hour from an intervening stream without molestation on either side; or the two parties using an old mill as a post-office, by means of which letters could pass between France and Germany in defiance of all decent war-regulations! How they illustrate the absolutely instinctive and necessary tendency of the natural man (notwithstanding occasional bouts of fury) to aid his fellow and fall into some sort of understanding with him! Finally the fraternizations last Christmas between the opposing lines in Northern France almost threatened at one time to dissolve all the proprieties of official warfare. If they had spread a little farther and lasted a little longer, who knows what might have happened? High politics might have been utterly confounded, and the elaborate schemes of statesmen on both sides entirely frustrated. Headquarters had, through the officers, to interfere and all such demonstrations of amity to be for the future forbidden. Could anything more clearly show the beating of the great heart of Man beneath the thickly overlying husks of class and class-government? When, oh! when indeed, will the real human creature emerge from its age-long chrysalis?


[27] And even the hundred and one humane Associations of to-day derive a great part of their enthusiasm and vitality from fighting each other!

[28] Put into English by Lady Gregory. (John Murray, 6s. net.)

[29] From T.P.'s Weekly, November 7, 1914.



Like a great cry these words to-day rise from the lips of the nations—"Never Again!" Never before certainly have such enormous masses of human beings been locked in deadly grip with each other over the earth, and never before, equally certainly, has their warfare been so horrible in its deliberate preparation, so hideous, so ghastly in its after-effects, as to-day. The nations stand round paralysed with disgust and despair, almost unable to articulate; and when they do find voice it is with the words above written.

How are we to give effect to the cry? Must we not call upon the Workers of all countries—those who are the least responsible for the inception of wars, and yet who suffer most by them, who bear the brunt of the wounds, the slaughter, the disease, and the misery which are a necessary part of them—to rise up and forbid them for ever from the earth? Let us do so! For though few may follow and join with us to-day, yet to-morrow and every day in the future, and every year, as the mass-peoples come into their own, and to the knowledge of what they are and what they desire to be, those numbers will increase, till the cry itself is no longer a mere cry but an accomplished fact.

It is a hopeful sign that not only among bewildered onlookers and outsiders but among the soldiers themselves (of the more civilized countries) this cry is being taken up. Who, indeed, should know better than they what they are talking about? The same words are on the lips at this moment of thousands and thousands of French and English and German soldiers,[30] and in no faint-hearted or evasive sense, but with the conviction and indignation of experience. We may hope they will not be forgotten this time when the war is over.

The truth is that not only was this particular war "bound to come," but (among the civilized peoples) the refusal of war is also bound to come. Two great developments are leading to this result. On the one hand, the soldiers themselves, the fighters, are as a class becoming infinitely more sensitive, more intelligent, more capable of humane feeling, less stupidly "patriotic" and prejudiced against their enemies than were the soldiers of a century ago—say, of the time of Wellington; on the other hand, the horrors, the hideousness, the folly, and the waste of war are infinitely greater. It is inevitable that these two contradictory movements, mounting up on opposite sides, must at last clash. The rising conscience of Humanity must in the end say to the War-fiend, "Get thee behind me, Satan!" Never before have there passed over the fields of Europe armies so intelligent, so trained, so observant, so sensitive as those to-day of Belgium, France, England, and Germany. Some day or other they will return to their homes; but when they do it will be with a tale that will give to the Western world an understanding of what war means, such as it never had before.

All the same, if the word is to be "Never Again!" it must come through the masses themselves (from whom the fighters are mainly drawn); it must be through them that this consummation must be realized. It must be through the banding together and determined and combined effort of the Unions, local, national, and international, and through the weight of the workers' influence in all their associations and in all countries. To put much reliance in this matter upon the "classes" is rash; for though just now the latter are sentimentalizing freely over the subject—having got into nearer touch with it than ever before—yet when all is settled down, and the day arrives once more that their interests point to war, it is only too likely that they (or the majority of them) will not hesitate to sacrifice the masses—unless, indeed, the power to do so has already departed from them.

And it is no good for us to sentimentalize on the subject. We must not blink facts. And the fact is that "it's a long way" to Never Again. The causes of War must be destroyed first; and, as I have more than once tried to make clear, the causes ramify through our midst; they are like the roots, pervading the body politic, of some fell disease whose outbreak on the surface shocks and affrights us. To dislodge and extirpate these roots is a long business. But there is this consolation about it—that it is a business which we can all of us begin at once, in our own lives!

Probably wars will still for many a century continue, though less frequent we hope. And if the people themselves want to fight, and must fight, who is to say them Nay? In such case we need not be overmuch troubled. There are many things worse than fighting; and there are many wounds and injuries which people inflict on each other worse than bodily wounds and injuries—only they are not so plain to see. But I certainly would say—as indeed the peasant says in every land—"Let those who begin the quarrel do the fighting"; and let those who have to do the fighting and bear the brunt of it (including the women) decide whether there shall be fighting or not. To leave the dread arbitrament of War in the hands of private groups and cliques who, for their own ends and interests, are willing to see the widespread slaughter of their fellow-countrymen and the ruin of innumerable homes is hateful beyond words.


[30] See "A War-Note for Democrats," by H.M. Tomlinson (English Review, December, 1914). "This war was bound to come, and we've got to finish it proper. No more of this bloody rot for the kids, an' chance it."



February, 1915.

Finally, and looking back on all we have said, and especially on the Christmas scenes and celebrations between the trenches in this war and the many similar fraternizations of the rank and file of opposing armies in former wars, one realizes the monstrosity and absurdity of the present conflict—its anachronism and out-of-dateness in the existing age of human thought and feeling. The whole European situation resembles a game of marbles played by schoolboys. It is not much more dignified than that. Each boy tries on the quiet to appropriate some of the marbles out of another boy's bag. From time to time, in consequence, furious scrimmages arise—generally between two boys—the others looking' on and laughing, knowing well that they themselves are guilty of the same tricks. Presently, in the fortunes of the game, one boy—a little more blundering or a little less disguised than the others—lays himself open to the accusations of the whole crew. They all fall upon him, and give him a good drubbing; and even some of them say they are punishing him for his good! When shall we make an end, once for all, of this murderous nonsense?

However our Tommy Atkinses have been worked up to fighting point by fears for the safety of old England, or by indignation at atrocities actually observed or distantly reported; however the German soldiers have been affected by similar fears and indignations, or the French the same; however the political coil has been engineered (as engineered in such cases it always is), and whatever inducements of pay or patriotism have been put in operation and sentiments circulated by the Press—one thing remains perfectly certain: that left to themselves these men would never have quarrelled, never have attacked each other. One thing is perfectly certain: that such a war as the present is the result of the activity of governing cliques and classes in the various nations, acting through what are called "Diplomatic" channels, for the most part in secret and unbeknown to their respective mass-peoples, and for motives best known to themselves.

One would not venture to say that all wars are so engineered, for there certainly are occasionally wars which are the spontaneous expression of two nations' natural hostility and hatred; but these are rare, very rare, and the war in which we are concerned at present is certainly not one of them. Also one would not venture to say that though in the present affair the actuating motives have been of class origin, and have been worked through secret channels, the motives so put in action have all been base and mean. That would be going too far. Some of the motives may have been high-minded and generous, some may have been mean, and others may have been mean and yet unconsciously so. But certainly when one looks at the conditions of public and political life, and the arrangements and concatenations by which influence there is exerted and secured, and sees (as one must) the pretty bad corruption which pervades the various parties in all the modern States—the commercial briberies, the lies of the Press, the poses and prevarications of Diplomats and Ministers—one cannot but realize the great probability that the private advantage of individuals or classes has been (in the present case) a prevailing instigation. The fact that in Britain two influential and honourable Cabinet Ministers resigned at once on the declaration of war (a fact upon which the Press has been curiously silent) cannot but "give one to think." One cannot but realize that the fighting men in all these nations are the pawns and counters of a game which is being played for the benefit—or supposed benefit—of certain classes; that public opinion is a huge millstream which has to be engineered; that the Press is a channel for its direction, and Money the secret power which commands the situation.

The fact is sad, but it must be faced. And the facing of it leads inevitably to the question, "How, then, can Healing ever come?" If (it will be said) the origin of wars is in the diseased condition of the nations, what prospect is there of their ever ceasing? And one sees at once that the prospect is not immediate. One sees at once that Peace Societies and Nobel Prizes and Hague Tribunals and reforms of the Diplomatic Service and democratic control of Foreign Secretaries and Quaker and Tolstoyan preachments—though all these things may be good in their way—will never bring us swiftly to the realization of peace. The roots of the Tree of Life lie deeper.

We have seen it a dozen times in the foregoing pages. Only when the nations cease to be diseased in themselves will they cease fighting with each other. And the disease of the modern nations is the disease of disunity—not, as I have already said, the mere existence of variety of occupation and habit, for that is perfectly natural and healthy, but the disease by which one class preys upon another and upon the nation—the disease of parasitism and selfish domination. The health of a people consists in that people's real unity, the organic life by which each section contributes freely and generously to the welfare of the whole, identifies itself with that welfare, and holds it a dishonour to snatch for itself the life which should belong to all. A nation which realized that kind of life would be powerful and healthy beyond words; it would not only be splendidly glad and prosperous and unassailable in itself, but it would inevitably infect all other nations with whom it had dealings with the same principle. Having the Tree of Life well rooted within its own garden, its leaves and fruit and all its acts and expressions would be for the healing of the peoples around. But a nation divided against itself by parasitic and self-exalting cliques and sections could never stand. It could never be healthy. No armaments nor ingenuity of science and organization could save it, and even though the form of its institutions were democratic, if the reality of Democracy were not there, its peace crusades and prizes and sentimental Conferences and Christianities would be of little avail.

At this juncture, then, all over Europe, when the classes are failing us and by their underhand machinations continually embroiling one nation with another, it is above all necessary that the mass-peoples should move and insist upon the representation of their great unitary and communal life and interests. It is high time that they should open their eyes and see with clear vision what is going on over their heads, and more than high time that they should refuse to take part in the Quarrels of those who (professionally) live upon their labour. It is indeed astonishing that the awakening has been so long in coming; but surely it cannot be greatly delayed now. Underneath all the ambitions of certain individuals and groups; underneath all the greed and chicanery of others; underneath the widespread ignorance, mother of prejudice, which sunders folk of different race or colour-deep down the human heart beats practically the same in all lands, drawing us little mortals together.

Strangely enough—and yet not strangely—it beats strongest and clearest often in the simplest, the least sophisticated. Those who live nearest the truth of their own hearts are nearest to the hearts of others. Those who have known the realities of the world, and what Life is close to the earth—they are the same in all lands—they have at least the key to the understanding of each other. The old needs of life, its destinies and fatalities, its sorrows and joys, its exaltations and depressions —these are the same everywhere; and to the manual workers —the peasant, the labourer, the sailor, the mechanic—the world-old trades, pursuits, crafts, and callings with which they are so familiar supply a kind of freemasonry which ensures them even among strangers a kindly welcome and an easy admittance. If you want to travel in foreign lands, you will find that to be skilled in one or two manual trades is better than a high official passport.

Among such people there is no natural hatred of each other. Despite all the foam and fury of the Press over the present war, I doubt whether there is any really violent feeling of the working masses on either side between England and Germany. There certainly is no great amount in England, either among the country-folk or the town artisans and mechanics; and if there be much in Germany (which is quite doubtful) it is fairly obviously due to the animus which has been aroused and the virus which has been propagated by political and social schemers.

We have had enough of Hatred and Jealousy. For a century now commercial rivalry and competition, the perfectionment of the engines of war, and the science of destruction have sufficiently occupied the nations—with results only of disaster and distress and ruin to all concerned. To-day surely another epoch opens before us—an epoch of intelligent helpfulness and fraternity, an epoch even of the simplest common sense. We have rejoiced to tread and trample the other peoples underfoot, to malign and traduce them, to single out and magnify their defects, to boast ourselves over them. And acting thus we have but made the more enemies. Now surely comes an era of recognition and understanding, and with it the glad assurance that we have friends in all the ends of the earth.

We—and I speak of the European nations generally—have talked loudly of our own glory; but have we welcomed and acclaimed the glory and beauty of the other peoples and races around us—among whom it is our privilege to dwell? We have boasted to love each our own country, but have we cared at all for the other countries too? Verily I suspect that it is because we have not truly loved our own countries, but have betrayed them for private profit, that we have thought fit to hate our neighbours and ill-use them for our profit too.

What a wonderful old globe this is, with its jewelled constellations of humanity! Alfred Russel Wallace, in his Travels on the Amazon (1853, ch. xvii), says: "I do not remember a single circumstance in my travels so striking and so new, or that so well fulfilled all previous expectation, as my first view of the real uncivilized inhabitants of the river Uaupes.... I felt that I was as much in the midst of something new and startling, as if I had been instantaneously transported to a distant and unknown country." He then speaks of the "quiet, good-natured, inoffensive" character of these copper-coloured natives, and of their quickness of hand and skill, and continues: "Their figures are generally superb; and I have never felt so much pleasure in gazing at the finest statue as at these living illustrations of the beauty of the human form." Elsewhere he says[31]: "Their whole aspect and manner were different [from the semi-civilized Indians]; they walked with the free step of the independent forest-dweller ... original and self-sustaining as the wild animals of the forest ... living their own lives in their own way, as they had done for countless generations before America was discovered. The true denizen of the Amazonian forests, like the forest itself, is unique and not to be forgotten."

Not long ago I was talking to a shrewd, vigorous old English lady who had spent some forty years of her life among the Kafirs in South Africa and knew them intimately. She said (not knowing anything about my feelings): "Ah! you British think a great deal about yourselves. You think you are the finest race on earth; but I tell you the Kafirs are finer. They are splendid. Whether for their physical attributes, or their mental, or for their qualities of soul, I sometimes think they are the finest people in the world." Whether the old lady was right (and one has heard others say much the same), or whether she was carried away by her enthusiasm, the fact remains that here is a people capable of exciting such enthusiasm, and certainly capable of exciting much admiration among all who know them well.

Read the accounts of the Polynesian peoples at an early period—before commerce and the missionaries had come among them—as given in the pages of Captain Cook, of Herman Melville, or even as adumbrated in their past life in the writings of R.L. Stevenson—what a picture of health and gaiety and beauty! Surely never was there a more charming and happy folk—even if long-pig did occasionally in their feasts alternate with wild-pig.

And yet how strange that the white man, with all his science and all his so-called Christianity, has only come among these three peoples mentioned (and how many more?) to destroy and defile them—to flog the mild and innocent native of the Amazons to death for greed of his rubber; to rob the Kafir of his free wild lands and blast his life with drink and slavery in the diamond mines; to degrade and exterminate the Pacific islanders with all the vices and diseases of "civilization"!

Think of the Chinese—that extraordinary people coming down from the remotest ages of history, with their habits and institutions apparently but little changed—so kindly, so "all there," so bent on making the best of this world. "At the first sight of these ugly, cheery, vigorous people I loved them. Their gaiety, as of children, their friendliness, their profound humanity, struck me from the first and remained with me to the last."[32] And the verdict of all who know the people well—in the interior of the country of course—is the same. Think of the Japanese with their slight and simple, but exceedingly artistic and exceedingly heroic type of civilization.

Or, again, of the East Indian peoples, so unfitted as a rule for making the best of this world, so passive, dreamy, subtle, unpractical, and yet with their marvellous spiritual gift, their intuition (also since the dawn of history) and conviction of another plane of being than that in which we mostly move, and their occasional power of distinctly sensing that plane and acting on its indications. Think of their ancient religious philosophy—their doctrine of world-unity—absolutely foundational and inexpugnable, the corner-stone of all metaphysics, science, and politics, and of the latest most modern democracy; and still realized and believed in in India as nowhere else in the world.

Think of the gentle Buddhistic Burmese, the active, social Malays, the hard-featured, hard-lived Thibetans and Mongolians. Think of the Arabian and Moorish and Berber races, who, once the masters of the science and comforts of civilization, of their own accord (but in accordance also with their religion) abandoned the worship of all these idols and returned to the Biblical simplicity of four thousand years ago—having realized that they already possessed something better, namely, the glory of the sky and the earth, the sun and the desert sands, and the freedom of love and adventure. How strange, and yet how natural, that sundered only by a narrow strip of sea they even now should look back upon all the laborious, feverish, and overcrowded wealth of Europe and seeing the cost thereof should feel for it only contempt! For that, indeed, is actually for the most part the case—though not of course without exceptions among certain sections of the population.

Or again, the millions and millions of Great and Little Russian peasants. Big-framed, big-hearted, patient, friendly, with a great natural gift for association and co-operation, peacefully minded and profoundly religious; yet superstitious, and capable of rising at any moment en masse to the call of a great crusade or "holy war"; it might seem that they hold all Western Europe in the hollow of their hands. Indeed they constitute not only a hope and promise of deliverance to our modern world, but also a considerable danger. All depends on how we dispose ourselves towards them. Should the nations of Western Europe rouse their hatred by chicanery and mean treatment the result might be fatal. If their flood once began to move, no battle array of armaments would be of any use—any more than a revolver against a rising tide—the flood would flow round and over us. But if on the other hand we could really reach the heart of this great people, if we could treat them really generously and with understanding, we should create a response there, and a recognition, which would remove all risk to ourselves, and possibly help to free Russia from the great burden of political servitude and ignorance which has so long oppressed her peasantry.

Or think of the Servians—that hospitable people, good lovers and good haters, with their ancient, almost prehistoric, system of family communities surviving down to modern days, and blossoming out in a perfect genius for co-operative agriculture and Raffeisen banks!

Or the Finns, the Swedes, the Norwegians, and the Danes (if I may class these together); what a clear, clean-minded, healthy people are these, so direct in their touch on Nature and the human instincts, so democratic, bold, and progressive in their social organizations—what a privilege to have them as our near neighbours and relatives! Or the Germans, in many ways resembling the last mentioned group, only richer and more varied in their culture and racial characteristics! Or the Dutch, so well-based and broad-seated both in body and mind, with their ample bowels of compassion and their well-equipped brains, so full of tenderness and of sturdy commonsense, what a gift has been theirs to Europe, what a legacy of artistic treasure and of heroic record! Or the Spanish with their beautiful and dignified women, or the French with their fine logical and artistic sense, or the Hungarians, Greeks, and Italians!

Have we nothing to do but to prepare engines of death and of slaughter against all these peoples? Is our main idea of relation to them one of domination and profit? Have we no use for them but to gain their riches, and in exchange to lose our own souls? Or shall we, like the Prussians, seek to "impose" our own standards of so-called culture on them, and trim their infinite variety and grace to one sorry pattern? These are all in their diverse glory and beauty as leaves of the one great Tree whose branches spread over the earth. Whoever understands this, and penetrating to the great heart beneath, recognizes the same original life in them all, will possess the secret of salvation; whatever nation first casts aside the filthy rags of its own self-righteousness and the defiling and sordid garment of mercenary gain, and accepts the others frankly as its brother and sister nations, all of one family—that nation will become the Healer and Redeemer of the World.

It is interesting to find that, according to the Book of Revelation, the tree of which we have been speaking grows with its roots "in the pure river of the water of Life, which proceeds from the throne of God and the Lamb." What exactly the author of the book meant by this passage has been much debated. It is clear that there is here a veiled allusion to the Zodiac—that mysterious belt of constellations which runs like a river round the whole starry heavens, and rises in the constellation of the Ram or He-lamb—but to debate that question now would be unprofitable, even were one fully competent to do so. More to the point is it to see that this remarkable simile has an inner sense applicable to mankind, and so far independent of any allusion to the Zodiac. This Tree that is for the healing of the nations has its roots in the pure water of Life which flows from the great Throne. We have seen in an early chapter where the roots of Strife between the nations are to be sought for, and whence they draw their nourishment. They are to be found in the very muddy waters of domination and selfishness and greed. But the roots of the Tree of Healing are in the pure waters of Life. Right down below all the folly and meanness which clouds men's souls flows the universal Life pure from its original source. The longer you live, the more clearly and certainly you will perceive it. In the eyes of the men and women around you you will perceive it, and in the eyes of the children—aye, and even of the animals. Unclean, no doubt, will the surface be—muddied with meannesses and self-motives; and among those classes and currents of people who chiefly delight to dwell in the midst of such things (who dwell in the floating mire of malice and envy and self-assertion and avarice and conceit and deceit and domination and other such refuse), the waters will be foul indeed; but below these classes, among the simple, comparatively unselfconscious types of humanity who everywhere represent the universal life (without, in a sense, being aware of it), and again, above them, among those whose spirits have passed "in compassion and determination around the whole earth and found only equals and lovers," the water flows pure and free. These two groups—between them forming far the largest and most important mass of human kind—are those whose influence and tendency is toward peace and amity. It is only the scurrying, avaricious, fever-stricken, and, for all their wealth, poverty-stricken classes and cliques of the civilization-period who are the sources of discord and strife—and they only for a time. In the end it will be found that by every river and stream and tiny brook over the whole earth grows the invincible Tree of Life, whose roots are deep in the human heart, and whose leaves are for the healing of the Nations.


[31] My Life, vol ii, p. 288.

[32] G. Lowes Dickinson, Civilizations of India, China, and Japan, p.43. See also Eugene Simon, La Cite Chinoise, passim.

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[The following extracts, mostly from contemporaneous sources, are gathered together in an Appendix with the object of throwing side-lights, often from opposing points of view, on the questions raised in the text.]

* * * * *



"If we now destroy the German national idol, it must not be to set up an idol of our own in its place. There will be ruin enough after the war to repair, and a heavy task for all the nations in repairing it; but if they have learned then that peace is not a disguised war but a state of being in which men and nations alike pursue their own ideas of excellence without rivalry, then we shall know that the irrevocable dead have not died in vain."—"Times" Literary Supplement, September 17, 1914.

* * * * *


"What, then, has wrought this wonderful change in a people so closely allied to ourselves, whose race is so similar that their children in the hotels of France and Italy are mistaken for British children? The human raw material is the same, and until half a century ago gave results which won our respect and admiration. What is this change of the last half-century which from the same material gives results so different? There can be only one answer. The old Germany was a Germany of small, self-governing States, of small political power; the new Germany is a 'great' Germany, with a new ideal and spirit which comes of victory and military and political power, of the reshaping of political and social institutions which the retention of conquered territory demands, its militarization, regimentation, centralization, and unchallenged authority; the cultivation of the spirit of domination, the desire to justify and to frame a philosophy to buttress it. Some one has spoken of the war which made 'Germany great and Germans small.'..."

"...So in our day, it is not the German national faith, the Deutschtum, the belief that the German national ideal is best for the German—it is not that belief that is a danger to Europe. It is a belief that that German national ideal is the best for all other people, and that the Germans have a right to impose it by the force of their armies. It is that belief alone which can be destroyed by armies. We must show that we do not intend to be brought under German rule, or have German ideals imposed upon us, and having demonstrated that, the Allies must show that they in their turn have no intention of imposing their ideals or their rule or their dominance upon German peoples. The Allies must show after this war that they do not desire to be the masters of the German peoples or States, but their partners and associates in a Europe which none shall dominate, but which all shall share."—From "Shall this War End German Militarism?" by Norman Angell.

* * * * *


The Report on this subject given in the French Yellow Book (Section 5) throws much light on the attitude of the various classes in Germany. In favour of peace (it says) are "the large mass of workmen, artisans, and peasants, who are peaceful by instinct"; a considerable number of non-military nobility, and of "manufacturers, merchants, and financiers of minor importance, to whom even a victorious war would bring bankruptcy"; also a vast number of those who are continually in a state of "suppressed revolt against Prussian policy," like the "Government and ruling classes of the great southern States, Saxony, Bavaria, Wurtemburg," and so forth.

On the other hand, in favour of war are the great, mainly Prussian, war party, consisting of the military aristocracy and nobility "who see with terror the democratization of Germany and the growing force of the Socialist party"; "others who consider war as necessary for economic reasons found in over-population and over-production, the need of markets and outlets"; the great bourgeoisie, "which also has its reasons of a social nature—the upper middle class being no less affected than the nobility by the democratization of Germany ... and, finally, the gun and armour-plate manufacturers, the great merchants who clamour for greater markets, and the bankers who speculate on the Golden Age and the indemnity of war. These, too, think that war would be good business."

The whole paper is too long for extensive citation here, but is well worth reading.

* * * * *


"On Tuesday last at the Union Society Mr. Dudley Ward, late Berlin correspondent of the Daily Chronicle and other English papers, and Fellow of St. John's College, dealt with 'The War from the German Point of View.' Mr. Ward's profound knowledge of Germany, especially since 1911, and his obvious attempt to review recent events with impartiality, was a revelation to Cambridge, and a very large audience showed its enthusiastic appreciation of his ability and his frankness.

"Mr. Ward emphasized particularly the astonishing political ignorance of the German people as a whole, an ignorance quite unintelligible to any one unacquainted with their Press and their political institutions. Public opinion, as he said, counts for little in Germany, and the Government can generally guide it into any direction it may please, and this fact is essential to the understanding of the events—diplomatic events—which led to the declaration of war."—From the "Cambridge Magazine," December 5, 1914.

* * * * *

"One of the political phenomena of America has always been the indifference of the German to active participation in politics. Efforts to persuade him to organize with any political party have never succeeded except in isolated cases. The German-American has been regarded as an independent politically. Until Europe's conflict raised concealed characteristics to the surface the German-American's indifference to politics had not been looked upon as a serious matter."—From article by Alt. John Herbert in the London "Daily News," December, 1914.

* * * * *


According to Herr Maximilien Harden's article in "Die Zukunft," as reproduced in the "New York Times," December, 1914.

"Not as weak-willed blunderers have we under-taken the fearful risk of this war. We wanted it. Because we had to wish it and could wish it. May the Teuton devil throttle those whiners whose pleas for excuses make us ludicrous in these hours of lofty experience. We do not stand, and shall not place ourselves, before the Court of Europe. Our power shall create new law in Europe. Germany strikes. If it conquers new realms for its genius, the priesthood of all the gods will sing songs of praise to the good war.

"We are at the beginning of a war the development and duration of which are incalculable, and in which up to date no foe has been brought to his knees. We wage the war in order to free enslaved peoples, and thereafter to comfort ourselves with the unselfish and useless consciousness of our own righteousness. We wage it from the lofty point of view and with the conviction that Germany, as a result of her achievements and in proportion to them, is justified in asking, and must obtain, wider room on earth for development and for working out the possibilities that are in her."

* * * * *


From the Manifesto of Professors Haeckel and Eucken, September, 1914.

"What is happening to-day surpasses every instance from the past; this last example will be permanently characterized in the annals of the world as the indelible shame of England. Great Britain is fighting for a Slavic, semi-Asiatic Power against Teutonism; she is fighting, not only in the ranks of barbarism but also on the side of wrong and injustice, for let it not be forgotten that Russia began the war, because she refused to permit adequate expiation for a miserable assassination; but the blame for extending the limits of the present conflict to the proportions of a world-war, through which the sum of human culture is threatened, rests upon England.

"And the reason for all this? Because England was envious of Germany's greatness, because she was bound to hinder further expansion of the German sphere at any cost! There cannot be the least doubt that England was determined from the start to break in upon Germany's great conflict for national existence, to cast as many stones as possible in Germany's path, and to block her every effort toward adequate expansion. England lay in wait until the favourable opportunity for inflicting a lasting injury upon Germany should come, and promptly seized upon the unavoidable German invasion of Belgian territory as a pretext for draping her own brutal national egotism in a mantle of decency.

"Or is there in the whole world a person so simple as to believe that England would have declared war upon France, had the latter Power invaded Belgium? In that event, England would have shed hypocritical tears over the necessary violation of international law, while concealing a laughing face behind the mask. The most repulsive thing in the whole business is this hypocritical Pharisaism; it merits only contempt.

"History shows that such sentiments as these, far from guiding nations upward, lead them along the downward path. But we of this present time have fixed our faith firm as a rock upon our righteous cause, and upon the superior power and the inflexible will for victory that abide in the German nation. Nevertheless the deplorable fact remains, that the boundless egotism already mentioned has for that span of the future discernible to us destroyed the collaboration of the two nations which was so full of promise for the intellectual uplift of humanity. But the other party has willed it so. Upon England alone rests the monstrous guilt and the responsibility in the eye of world-history."



* * * * *


"Let us hope that our German weapons will show the Englishmen that they were entirely wrong in their reckoning; but first let us point out the wide discrepancy between their motives and ours.

"With them it is self-seeking, envy, calculation; with us the conviction that we are fighting for the holiest possessions of our people, for right and justice."

* * * * *


The following extract from Nietzsche may be worth quoting as presenting one aspect of his many-sided thought:—

"Perhaps a memorable day will come when a nation renowned in wars and victories, distinguished by the highest development of military order and intelligence, and accustomed to make the heaviest sacrifices for these objects, will voluntarily exclaim, 'We will break our swords,' and will destroy its whole military system, lock, stock, and barrel. To make ourselves defenceless (after having been most strongly defended), from loftiness of sentiment, is the means towards genuine peace.... The so-called armed peace that prevails at present in all countries is a sign of a bellicose disposition, that trusts neither itself nor its neighbour, and, partly from hate partly from fear, refuses to lay down its weapons. Better to perish than to hate and fear; and twice better to perish than to make oneself hated and feared."—From "Human all too Human," vol. ii. (translated by P.V. Colm, 1911).

* * * * *


"Just as the growth of armaments increases the common danger, so a policy of reduction would have the opposite effect, and were one European country boldly to adopt disarmament it would strengthen incalculably the forces making for peace in all countries. The armaments of European nations are interdependent, and were such a policy pursued by one nation it would be followed, if not by immediate disarmament in other nations, at any rate, by very considerable reductions. It is very easy to underrate the feeling which for some time past has been growing throughout Europe against the colossal waste of armaments. Even in Germany, whose geographical position from a military point of view is weak, the Socialist vote, which is cast strenuously against armaments, has grown at each election until it now represents some 35 per cent, of the total electorate. The great weapon with which reaction has attempted to combat Socialist growth has been an appeal against the 'unpatriotic' opposition to armaments. What effect would this appeal have in face of disarmament abroad? The Socialist party, with its anti-militarist programme, would sweep Germany and compel the Government rapidly to follow suit. Sooner or later the internal pressure of public opinion would force the adoption of a similar policy upon the Government of every civilized country in Europe."—From "Why Britain Should Disarm" by George Benson (National Labour Press, 1d.).

* * * * *


"Now the war has come, and when it is over let us be careful not to make the same mistake or the same sort of mistake as Germany made when she had France prostrate at her feet in 1870. (Cheers.) Let us, whatever we do, fight for and work towards great and sound principles for the European system. And the first of those principles which we should keep before us is the principle of nationality—that is to say, not the conquest or subjugation of any great community or of any strong race of men, but the setting free of those races which have been subjugated and conquered; and if doubt arises about disputed areas of country we should try to settle their ultimate destination in the reconstruction of Europe which must follow from this war with a fair regard to the wishes and feelings of the people who live in them."—From the speech of Mr. Churchill, September 11, 1914, at the London Opera House.

* * * * *


"If we, in a moment of unthinking panic, adopt the advice of our militarists and develop an Army based on universal service, we shall prepare for ourselves the very situation in which Germany finds itself at this moment. However much we may protest that our aims are pacific, and that our Army is intended only for defensive purposes, foreign nations will view it with alarm, and will reflect that, by the help of our Navy, we can land an armed force in any country that has a sea coast. We shall thus incur the risk of a coalition against us. It is said that if we had had a conscript Army, the present war would not have taken place. But it is not realized that a different and far more dangerous war would have been probable, a war in which we should have had no continental Allies, but should have been resisted, as Germany is being resisted, in order to relieve Europe of an intolerable terror....

"In a word, of all the measures open to us to adopt, none is so likely to bring us to disaster as universal military service."—By Hon. Bertrand Russell (in "The Labour Leader," October 15, 1914).

* * * * *


"If there is courage and honesty enough in men, I believe it will be possible to establish a world Council for the regulation of armaments as the natural outcome of this war. First, the trade in armaments must be absolutely killed. And then the next supremely important measure to secure the peace of the world is the neutralization of the sea.

"It will lie in the power of England, France, Russia, Italy, Japan, and the United States, if Germany and Austria are shattered in this war, to forbid the further building of any more ships of war at all."—From the "Daily Chronicle," August 21, 1914.

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"It will be necessary soon to consider the relations of democracy to the war. The war is a war of nationalities, but it was not made by peoples. Its begetter was a comparatively small band of unscrupulous, blind, and conceited persons, who were clever and persistent enough to demoralize a whole people. In so far as they permitted themselves to be demoralized the people were to blame, but the chief blame lies on the small band. Europe is laid waste, hundreds of thousands of men murdered, and practically every human being in the occidental hemisphere made to suffer, not for the amelioration of a race, but in order to satisfy the idiotic ambitions of a handful. Let not this fact be forgotten. Democracy will not forget it. And foreign policy in the future will not be left in the hands of any autocracy, by whatever specious name the autocracy may call itself. Ruling classes have always said that masses were incapable of understanding foreign policy. The masses understand it now. They understand that in spite of very earnest efforts in various Cabinets, the ruling classes have failed to avert the most terrible disaster in history. The masses will say to themselves, 'At any rate we couldn't have done worse than that.' The masses know that if the war decision had been openly submitted to a representative German chamber, instead of being taken in concealment and amid disgusting chicane, no war would have occurred. It is absolutely certain that the triumph of democracy, and nothing else, will end war as an institution. War will be ended when the Foreign Offices are subjected to popular control. That popular control is coming."—Arnold Bennett in the "Daily News," October 15, 1914.

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Let us turn, then, from the past to the future and ask, first, what the governmental mind, left to itself, is likely to make of Europe when the war is finished; secondly, what we, on our part, want and mean to make of it. What the diplomatists will make of it is written large on every page of history. Again and again they have "settled" Europe, and always in such a way as to leave roots for the growth of new wars. For always they have settled it from the point of view of States, instead of from the point of view of human life. How one "Power" may be aggrandized and another curtailed, how the spoils may be divided among the victors, how the "balance" may be arranged—these kinds of considerations and these alone have influenced their minds. The desires of peoples, the interests of peoples, that sense of nationality which is as real a thing as the State is fictitious—to all that they have been indifferent....

What can be foreseen with certainty is, that if the peace is to be made by the same men who made the war it will be so made that in another quarter of a century there will be another war on as gigantic a scale....

When this war is over Europe might be settled, then and there, if the peoples so willed it and made their will effective, in such a way that there would never again be a European War....

First, the whole idea of aggrandizing one nation and humiliating another must be set aside.... Secondly, in rearranging the boundaries of States, one point, and one only, must be kept in mind: to give to all peoples suffering and protesting under alien rule the right to decide whether they will become an autonomous unit, or will join the political system of some other nation.... Let no community be coerced under British rule that wants to be self-governing. We have had the courage, though late, to apply this principle to South Africa and Ireland. There remains our greatest act of courage and wisdom—to apply it to India.—G. Lowes Dickinson, "The War and the Way Out," pp. 34 et seq.

* * * * *


"The truth about the present fighting—well, it cannot be rendered in words significant enough to shock into understanding the people who are looking in the newspapers now for stories of heroism, 'brilliant bayonet charges,' and the rest of the inducements which sell stories of warfare, but tell us nothing about it. Perhaps, indeed, there are no words for it. I doubt whether the sincerest artist, finely sensitive, and with the choicest army of words at his ready and accurate command, could assemble the case. The mind of a witness in France is not stirred; it is stunned. One is speechless before the spectacle of men, not fighting in the way two angry men would fight, but coolly blasting great masses of their opponents to pieces at long range, and out of sight of each other, till a region with its wrecked towns and homesteads is littered with human bowels and fragments. It is possible to value human life too highly, maybe. But what profit, physical, moral, or economic, can be got from draining several nations' best male generative force into the clay, I leave it to worshippers of tribal war-gods of whatever church, and to the military minds, to explain. But unless the democracies of Europe, after settling this business, see to securing such a settlement —whatever the governing classes desire—that this Continental waste can never occur again, then one would have to admit human nature is too stupid and base to be troubled over any longer."—H.M. Tomlinson, "English Review," December, 1914, p. 75.

* * * * *


"It would seem, then, that love of our country can flourish only through the hatred of other countries, and the massacre of those who sacrifice themselves in defence of them. There is in this theory a ferocious absurdity, a Neronian dilettantism which repels me in the very depths of my being. No! Love of my country does not demand that I shall hate and slay those noble and faithful souls who also love their country, but rather that I should honour them, and seek to unite myself with them for our common good....

"You Socialists on both sides claim to be defending liberty against tyranny—French liberty against the Kaiser, Germany liberty against the Tsar. Would you defend one despotism against another? Unite and make war on both. There was no reason for war between the Western nations; French, English, and German, we are all brothers, and do not hate one another. The war-preaching Press is envenomed by a minority, a minority vitally interested in maintaining these hatreds; but our peoples, I know, ask for peace and liberty, and that alone."—From Romain Rolland's pamphlet "Above the Battlefield," Cambridge, 1914.

* * * * *


The following leaderette is from the Glasgow Evening Citizen for the 15th of January:—

"In business patriotism does not enter. Insistently the pocket comes first. And if the British consumer of aniline dyes can obtain his raw material more advantageously from the German than from the British producer, he will probably be ready to do so for the greater gain of more economic production in his own business."

* * * * *


"We desire neither the aggrandizement of German militarism nor Russian militarism, but the danger is that this war will promote one or the other. Britain has placed herself behind Russia, the most reactionary, corrupt, and oppressive Power in Europe. If Russia is permitted to gratify her territorial ambitions and extend her Cossack rule, civilization and democracy will be gravely imperilled. Is it for this that Britain has drawn the sword?

"To us who are Socialists the workers of Germany and Austria, no less than the workers of France and Russia, are comrades and brothers; in this hour of carnage and eclipse we have friendship and compassion to all victims of militarism. Our nationality and independence, which are dear to us, we are ready to defend, but we cannot rejoice in the organized murder of tens of thousands of workers of other lands who go to kill and be killed at the command of rulers to whom the people are as pawns.

"The People must everywhere resist such territorial aggression and national abasement as will pave the way for fresh wars; and, throughout Europe, the workers must press for frank and honest diplomatic policies, controlled by themselves, for the suppression of militarism and the establishment of the United States of Europe, thereby advancing towards the world's peace. Unless these steps are taken Europe, after the present calamity, will be still more subject to the increasing domination of militarism, and liable to be drenched with blood."

* * * * *


"Prussian militarism, as we have shown in previous issues, exists, as all militarism does, to further and protect trade. The furtherance of that trade meant territorial expansion, which in its turn was a menace to Britain and her allies. Thus it is that this war, carefully manoeuvred by the diplomats, is being fought to conserve to one set of capitalists their right to exploit the peoples, and to check another set from encroaching upon that right.

"Germany—or rather, the capitalists of Germany, for whom the Kaiser has always been the "Publicity Agent"—has consistently worked toward the objective of challenging the right of Britain to a world-wide Empire. To the German capitalists this war is but the realization of their philosophy, "Might is Right," and, reckless of human life and suffering, a European war is to them the way to vaster fields of exploitation and greater wealth. Their militarism was the machine, and the workers the cogs of the wheels. British capitalists, on the other hand, determined to maintain what they hold, forgetful of how it had been obtained, were thus compelled to take up the cudgels for their own sakes; and here, as in Germany, the workers are the tools used to save their fortunes and conserve their rights."—"The Voice of Labour," October, 1914.

"And it is not unlikely that the present bloody catastrophe will at last awaken the people from their indifference. The bitter pain and fearful suffering will perhaps make a deeper impression than the words of the revolutionaries. It is possible that the Social Revolution will be the last act in the present tragedy; possible that murderous militarism will be drowned in the blood of its numberless victims; that the people of the different countries will unite against the bloody regime of modern Capitalism and its institutions, and finally produce a new social culture upon the basis of free Socialism."—"Freedom," September 14.

In an American contemporary a quotation is given from an issue of Vorwaerts which was suppressed by the German Government. It reads:—

"The comrades abroad can be assured that the German working class disapproves to-day of every piratical policy of State just as it has always disapproved and that it is determined to resist the predatory subjugation of foreign peoples as strongly as the circumstances permit. The comrades in foreign lands can be assured that, though the German workmen are also protecting their Fatherland, they will nevertheless not forget that their interests are the same as those of the proletariat in other countries, who, like themselves, have been compelled to go to war against their will, indeed, even against their often repeated pronouncements in favour of peace."

* * * * *


The Berner Tagwacht publishes the full text of Karl Liebknecht's protest against the vote of credit by the Reichstag on December 2nd. The protest was not read, the President having vetoed it under pretext that it would entail a call to order. The protest was communicated to the German Press. Not one paper published it. It runs:—

"This war, desired by none of the peoples concerned, has not broken out in behalf of the welfare of the German people or any other. It is an Imperialist war, a war for the capitalist domination of the world's markets and for the political domination of important regions for the placing of industrial and banking capital. From the point of view of rivalry in armaments, it is a preventive war provoked by the German and Austrian war parties together in the obscurity of semi-absolutism and of secret diplomacy."

After declaring that this is not a defensive war for Germany, the protest continues:—

"A rapid peace, one which does not humiliate anybody, a peace without conquests, this is what we must demand. Every effort in this direction must be favourably received. The continuous and simultaneous affirmation of this desire, in all the belligerent countries, can alone put a stop to the bloody massacre before the complete exhaustion of all the peoples concerned. A peace based upon the international solidarity of the working class and on the liberty of all the peoples can alone be a lasting peace. It is in this sense that the proletariats of all countries must furnish, even in the course of this war, a Socialist effort for peace.

"But my protest is against the war, against those who are responsible for it, against those who direct it; it is against the capitalist policy which gave it birth; it is directed against the capitalist objects pursued by it, against the plans of annexation, against the violation of the neutrality of Belgium and Luxemburg, against military dictatorship, against the total oblivion of social and political duties of which the Government and ruling classes are still to-day guilty. For this reason, I reject the military credits asked for."—From the "Daily News," December 14, 1914.


"BERLIN, December 2."

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The following is the text of the resolution passed by the Central Committee of the Russian Social Democratic Party in reply to M. Vandervelde's appeal on behalf of the Allied cause:—

"We recognize the anti-democratic character of the Prussian hegemony, but as Russian Social Democrats we cannot forget another enemy of the workers, and no less dangerous—Russian absolutism. In home affairs this enemy remains what it always has been, a merciless oppressor and an unceasing exploiter. Even at the present moment, when we should have thought this despotism would be more cautious, it remains the same and continues the political persecution of the democracy, and of all subject nationalities. To-day all Socialist journals are stopped, all working class organizations are disbanded, many hundreds of members are arrested, and our brave comrades are sent to exile just as before. Should this war end in victory for our present Government, it will become the centre and mainstay of international reaction.... Our immediate objective should be the convocation of a Constitutional Assembly. We demand this in the interests of the same European democracy on whose behalf you appeal. Our party is a very important section of the world's democracies, and by fighting for our interests we are at the same time fighting for the interests of all democracies, enlarging and strengthening them. We hope that our interests are not considered as opposed to those of other European democracies which we esteem as highly as our own. We are persuaded that Russian absolutism is the chief support of reactionary militarism in Europe, and that it has bred in the German hegemony the dangerous enmity towards European democracy."

* * * * *


"'But what about the danger of Russia?' my readers will probably ask.

"To this question, every serious person will probably answer, that when you are menaced by a great, very great danger, the first thing to do is to combat this danger, and then see to the next. Belgium and a good deal of France are conquered by Germany, and the whole civilization of Europe is menaced by its iron fist. Let us cope first with this danger.

"As to the next, Is there anybody who has not thought himself that the present war, in which all parties in Russia have risen unanimously against the common enemy, will render a return to the autocracy of old materially impossible? And then, those who have seriously followed the revolutionary movement of Russia in 1905 surely know what were the ideas which dominated in the First and Second, approximately freely elected Dumas. They surely know that complete Home Rule for all the component parts of the Empire was a fundamental point of all the Liberal and Radical parties. More than that: Finland then actually accomplished her revolution in the form of a democratic autonomy, and the Duma approved it.

"And finally, those who know Russia and her last movement certainly feel that autocracy will never more be re-established in the forms it had before 1905, and that a Russian Constitution could never take the Imperialist forms and spirit which Parliamentary rule has taken in Germany. As to us, who know Russia from the inside, we are sure that the Russians never will be capable of becoming the aggressive, warlike nation Germany is. Not only the whole history of the Russians shows it, but with the Federation which Russia is bound to become in the very near future, such a warlike spirit would be absolutely incompatible."—Quoted in "Freedom," also in the "Manchester Guardian," October, 1914.

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Portion of a letter written by P. Kropotkin to Mr. R.J. Kelly, K.C., of Dublin, December 15, 1915.

"The same for the South Slavs and for all nationalities oppressed in Europe. When the last Balkan War had shown the inner power of the South Slavs, I greeted in it the disintegration of the Turkish Empire, which would be followed by the disintegration of the three other Empires—Austria, Russia, and Germany—so as to open the way for two, three, or more federations. A South Slavonic federation—the Balkan United State was the dream of Bakunin—would be followed by a free Poland, free Finland, Free Caucasia, free Siberia, federated for peace purposes. Yes, dear Mr. Kelly, you are right, we are on the eve of great events in Europe. Warmest wishes that this should become a reality, or receive a sound beginning of realization, during the coming new year, and my very best wishes to you of health and vigour.—Sincerely yours,

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