« ПретходнаНастави »
that this is what the “ victoire intégrale " would mean; that victory would compel us to make a new framework for human society. It is no wonder, then, that many elder statesmen, educated in that ruined order, should still act for the ideas which belonged to it, that Baron Sonnino should behave like a diplomat of the Triplice, or M. Pasic should be puzzled by the younger Serbs, that M. Pichon should have forgotten nothing but a little of what democratic France has professed.
The meaning of complete victory was certainly not known to those statesmen who wrote the secret treaties and memoranda which passed between the Allies in 1915 and 1916. To be sure, the execution of what they claimed would have required clear victory over the Central Powers. But although the victory was to be decisive, it was somehow to change nothing very radically. These documents belonged in spirit to a world in which Prussia was temporarily de- ,' feated, but in which Prussianism survived as the pacemaker of Europe. Moreover, they presupposed an easy victory-a victory which did not wrack every nation to its depths, and call forth
the suppressed energies of revolution. They were written under the double illusion that the Europe of Sazanov, Sonnino, the Quai d'Orsay and the Morning Post was strong enough to defeat the German Empire-and that having defeated her, Europe could carry on as before. Events proved that Prussia could not be replaced by paler reflections of herself. For in destroying her, it was necessary to awaken dormant peoples and submerged classes and the western hemisphere.
Why anyone should suppose that it was possible to tear down the authority which ruled in central and eastern Europe without producing disorder, it is difficult to understand. We have torn down authority. We have willed to tear it down. It was a vile authority, but it was the existing authority in law and in fact. We sent two million men to France with orders to tear it down, to crush it beyond hope of resurrection. And when you tear down, you have torn down. We started to destroy a supremely evil thing and it is destroyed. The result of destroying it is destruction, and what is left are fragments, and possibilities, the stirrings of new life long
suppressed, old hopes released, old wrongs being avenged, and endless agitation. It is chaos by every standard of our thinking, wild and dangerous, perhaps infectious, and thoroughly uncomfortable. But we cannot, having deliberately torn a central part of the world order to pieces, leave the wreckage in a panic and whimper that it is dreadful. Nor can we cure it, or save ourselves, by calling everybody who examines it dispassionately some idiotic name like pro-German and Bolshevik.
It calls for imagination to picture just what has happened to Europe and the world by the disappearance of its imperial organizations. We find ourselves in a world where four of the eight or nine centers of decisive authority have collapsed; where hundreds of millions of people have been wrenched from their ancient altars of obedience; where the necessities of bare existence are scarce, and precariously obtained. These people have lost homes, children, fathers. They are full of rumor and fear, and subject to every gust of agitation. Their leaders are untried, their lands undefined, their class interests and property in a jumble, they cannot see ahead three
weeks with assurance. It was inevitable that it should be so, once the decision was taken to destroy autocracy to its foundations. For Prussian Germany was the last strong source of authority in Eastern Europe, and the only bulwark of absolutism to which the old order could turn for help.
TN the winter of 1917-18 there were men in 1 all countries who saw this, and urged a compromise with the Prussian state.
It is no secret now that a combination of conservatism and war-weariness nearly brought the conflict to an indecisive end some time between June, 1917, and March, 1918. The summer months had been a time of deep depression in France after the military failure of the spring. In July the German Reichstag passed its famous “Majority Resolution”; in early August the Pope made his appeal; everywhere Stockholm was debated. Kerensky's failure was already apparent, and although Pershing was in France, he was a general without an army. Caporetto was followed swiftly by Byng's failure at Cambrai and by the Bolshevist revolution. There was no longer an eastern front. The Italian front seemed to be a liability; Saloniki was re