Слике страница
PDF
ePub

League, with the White Cross as its symbol, preaches “the substitution of Christian principles in public life for Machiavellian diplomacy.” There is a change, not among the Junkers and the “profiteers,” but among the simpler middle and working classes of Germany and in Austria, in much higher quarters. A Hapsburg has adopted “democracy” as his watchword: the fifth Chancellor after Bismarck has talked of “reconciliation.” Without any cynical implication, let us confine ourselves, however, to the more prosaic and realistic side of this movement of thought. What it means, in plain words, is that Germans have begun to think very gravely of the future which faces their commerce and their whole national life, if the program of the Paris Resolutions is put into force. They have realized that they must barter their potential conquests against our potential boycott. The alarm grew slowly. The Paris Resolutions were treated somewhat lightly at first. A solid Mitteleuropa seemed to offer a big market. The two Americas stood outside the Allied combination, and there was China with its vast resources awaiting development. Russia, it was thought, might break away from the Entente, after peace, if not before it. A different prospect presents itself today. The entry of America has changed the landscape. Brazil, the chief alternative source to Africa for the raw materials of the tropics, has followed the Northern Continent, and she is not alone. China, too, has entered the Allied camp, a fact of no military, but of vast economic significance. When the Paris Resolutions were drafted, they suggested conflict in a bisected world. Today a world-wide combination has made an unbreakable fence. That is the new fact behind the Reichstag's resolution. Some Germans may feel sincerely that a

future of boycotts and animosities among nations is morally a repugnant prospect, but all Germans realize that it is materially a ruinous prospect. Sea-power has vindicated itself against land-power. One kind of force has proved itself on the balance more formidable than another kind of force. The military decision is evident, even though the present trench lines should hold. The loss of markets through tariff or shipping discrimination would be serious: the control by the Entente of raw materials (cotton, rubber, copper, and vegetable oils) would be fatal to the recovery of German industry. We must scrutinize the terms of this resolution, and of the Chancellor's speech, to ascertain whether conquests have really been renounced. We do well to insist that even this is not for us the whole question. The wrong to Belgium must be repaired by monetary compensation, and there can be no “peace of reconciliation” without some settlement of the question of Alsace. We must note that the resolution (it is only a brief preliminary formula) says nothing about the limitation of armaments. Nor is it yet certain how far the encouraging phrase about creating organizations for public right involves (what the late Chancellor promised) a readiness to abandon militarism by adherence to Mr. Wilson's League of Nations. The “freedom of the seas” may mean some admissible reforms, but it may be a demand for impossible surrender. There is a wide field for inquiry here, when the opportunity for inquiry comes. Meanwhile, the resolution sets for us an urgent and imperative problem. On the assumption that our essential aims of restoration and security will be conceded by an enemy who professes his desire for a peace of reconciliation, are we prepared to grant what clearly is his indispensable condition? Are we prepared, if wrongs are righted, armaments reduced, and the guarantee of a League of Nations created against future aggression, to concede “economic peace”? The problem is for us parallel to that which has confronted the Germans. They have eventually decided that their military occupations are means to an end, and not substantive aims. Is the ability to prolong the blockade into a boycott for us a substantive aim, or is it a means of extorting a good peace? Are we prepared to abandon the Paris Resolutions, as the Germans will abandon the occupied territories, if the whole scheme of the settlement makes for a secure and reconstituted world? We have not yet begun to face this question. When the Paris Resolutions were published, two tendencies declared themselves in this country. One school regarded them as a satisfaction of its ideal: it positively wanted a “war after war,” a competition in boycotts and exclusions, in which it believed that the advantage would lie with our trade. The other school thought the whole plan unworkable and unprofitable, and foresaw that it would destroy any attempt to organize peace on a basis of equity and good will. The former school meant to persevere in the plan at all costs. The latter school hoped that it would prove to be an extravagance of our war temper, which would be gradually forgotten and abandoned, as its difficulties were realized. Neither school perceived the part which the scheme might play in the larger strategy of the settlement. It is no mere extravagance; it is the inevitable statement of our sea-power. It is because our naval supremacy makes our combination supreme beyond the European Continent that the menace of the plan is formidable. Unless we are prepared to use this tremendous threat in a conscious and reasoning way, we shall

throw away our chiet weapon. The possibility of an after-war boycott will be, at the moment of settlement, what the blockade itself has been during the war. An effective use of it depends, however, on our readiness to give it up. If we mean in any event to carry out the Paris program, whatever the enemy's attitude may be, the ability to penalize his commerce after the war ceases to be an asset, and becomes a handicap. If this is one of our substantive aims, we must prolong the war indefinitely before the enemy will submit to it, and in the end we may find that, because we will not renounce this aim, we may have to abandon others which have commended themselves to our better minds. Further, if this form of pressure is subtracted from our assets, we must rely on military force alone to undo the present balance on land. The time has come for prompt and decisive thinking on this question. If we regard some degree of after-war boycott as a substantive aim, we shall not carry with us the Russians, the Americans, the British Labor Party, or the French Socialists. They aim at peace after war. On the other hand, the whole combination may with capable leadership be rallied for a tactical use of a boycott. The firmer, the wider, the more united our combination is, the larger are the concessions which it may hope to extract. It must carry economic peace in one hand and economic war in the other. To a sincerely pacific German nation, ready to abandon her militarism, and to make her contribution towards the reconciliation of nations, it must offer economic peace, and offer it with both hands. Against a Germany which hesitates to make full restoration or to join a general pact of disarmament and conciliation, it must be prepared to impose a boycott so stiff, so united, so effective, that these hesitations will disappear. Half-measures are weakness and will prolong the war. If we say: “Some of us will boycott and others won't. Some of us will do it a little and others not at all. We don't mean to destroy your trade, but we won't promise to give it a fair chance,” well, then, the weapon has been thrown away. There can be no transaction on these lines. It is fumbling like this which may lead to an inconclusive peace. The fuller our offer of economic peace, the more shall we get in return for it. The more united and decided our threat of economic war, the less risk is there that it will have to be enforced. The answer will come frankly at this point from a section of our public opinion, that it does regard discrimination against German trade as a substantive war aim. The motives which go to make this attitude are complex. For some minds the chief factor is an instinctive repugnance, half-ethical, half-aesthetic, to resume normal relations with an enemy whose conduct of war has been neither chivalrous nor humane. One might argue that , our resentment in this case will strike the wrong heads. The agrarian Junker hereditary military caste will not suffer under a boycott; the value of its landed estates and agricultural produce may even be enhanced by it. It is the modern democratic Germany, workmen no less than masters, who will suffer. But the stronger this feeling is, the less need is there to legislate to enforce it. While this resentment lasts, it will make a spontaneous boycott. These sentimental tendencies, though they may influence the conduct of individuals after the war, would hardly suffice to shape our national policy, were it not for a much graver and more practical consideration. This country has realized, as it never did before, the immense strength of the German people. What

ever its temporary losses may be through the reduction of its male population and the embarrassment of its finances, the moral and intellectual backbone of its strength will survive. The indestructible elements of German power are neither at the forges of Essen nor in the docks of Kiel; they are the discipline, the patriotism, the trained intelligence and the habit of regulated industry in its people. If we have learned to know our enemy's strength, we have also discovered from our own experience how closely military power is related to economic organization. Each coalition has been sustained by the financial and industrial capacity of one of its members. Inevitably the further thought arises, that if the power of Germany for offense is to be broken, we must not only smash her military machine, but lame her economic strength as well. The premise of all this reasoning is, be it noted, that neither the experiences of this war nor the reflections which will follow it are likely to modify the mentality of the Prussian military caste, or to weaken its ascendency over the German people. Germany is conceived as an incurably aggressive element, which will learn nothing save new methods of attack, and forget nothing save the losses it has suffered. Starting with this conviction, the movement which would organize a “war after the war” is dominated by a pessimism of which it is only half aware. It seems to have forgotten the hopes which found expression in every Allied country during the early months of the war. In England and France men went to the colors, and endured the privations of three winters, buoyed by the resolve that their sons should grow up in a better world. “Never again.” was the motto of all who thought amid the turmoil, and those who most hated war comforted themselves with the thought that this should be “a war to end war.” The one object on which all the Allies were bent was “the destruction of Prussian militarism.” It is difficult today to bring these ideas into any relation with the forecast of the future which inspires the advocates of a boycott. Do they question the ultimate victory of the Coalition? Or do they doubt the possibility, by any victory, however complete, of destroying Prussian militarism? Certainly they assume that its menace must survive, and they look for security not to any constructive organization of the world's peace, but to the waging of a perpetual bloodless war, inspired by the same enmities, suspicions and fears that divide the world today. If this is a true forecast of the future, then the only victory which could have compensated mankind for the strife has already fled beyond our reach. We must abandon the dream of what Mr. Asquith called “a real European partnership,” and content ourselves instead with a new phase of the armed peace, a Europe divided by a permanent Chinese wall, fenced with the barbed wire of the prohibitive tariff. The fading of our early illusions is not all loss. The vision of this nightmare future may be positive gain. For on one salutary truth these forecasts and proposals are firmly based. Those who expected from war alone, the crushing of militarism and the building of a better Europe, hoped from war what war can never yield. A step in such an evolution it may be. But the future depends on statesmanship as well as arms, and on the general will of the nations even more than on statesmanship. The assumption of our argument is that this stage is already in sight. There can be no question of abandoning the Paris Resolutions unless Germany

will give guarantees that her militarism is at an end. She must join in a general reduction of armaments. She must sign the pact of a League of Nations to enforce the peaceful settlement of disputes. She must confess the failure of militarism by renouncing conquests. If these conditions are satisfied, her high commercial development need no longer be regarded as the basis and foundation of a war-machine.

Dismiss these grounds for differentiating against German trade, and what remains? One need not pause to talk about “dumping” and “key industries.” Such adjustments of our traditional fiscal policy as may be necessary to meet these minor problems can be carried out without infringing “economic peace.” That phrase need not mean free trade. It means only the abandonment of special discriminations against particular foreign nations which rest on political or military grounds. The case for a boycott pursued as a substantive aim means in the last resort that its advocates are making a realist calculation, that our sea-power, our vast dominions, our ability to draw weaker States into our orbit, will enable us to practise an exclusive policy with material profit to ourselves. It is a hazardous, as it is an immoral calculation. We may assume the support of America and Russia for a tactical use of the boycott, threatened or imposed for the definite purpose of compelling Germany to abandon militarism. They will not back a boycott conceived as a means of enhancing British power or British wealth. They might even resent and combat it, as an abuse of our sea-power. Whether in these circumstances the boycott could be profitable may be doubted; it might in fact be ruinous. One is content in war if the balance of slaughter is in one's own favor, and in a trade war the casualties cannot all be on the other side. Whether Germany would, in fact, suffer more, depends partly on the extent to which her alliances survive the war, and partly on our own skill in managing a rather composite team of Allies. She has in her favor the better and more practised organization, and there is a grave risk that if we fence ourselves round with tariffs, we shall be content with this passive defense, relapse into the laziness of security, and neglect to make good our defects in science and education. When one has built a high wall there is always a temptation to slumber in its shadow. These schemes, however, raise a much larger question than any financial balance of profit and loss. They would, indeed, alter the whole fabric of our industry, and leave their mark on every household budget. That would be their less momentous effect. They would also fix the emotions of whole peoples towards each other, and give to hatred its vested interest and its constitutional form. For this is not a proposal to adopt Protection as a fiscal system on its merits. The old Protection rested on the argument (fallacious as Free Traders contended) that certain measures of defense would be of advantage to our own trade and it applied these measures impartially against all foreigners. If it discriminated at all between different States, it was guided solely by the principle of reciprocity. The new Protection repudiates all pretense of impartiality, nor does it aim at reciprocity. A prohibitive tariff, in the usage of the old Protection, was a weapon with which to extort concessions. For the new Protection it is a confessedly aggressive device. The aim is less to protect or benefit ourselves than to injure others. So long as a nation distinguished only between its own citizens and all foreigners, it excited no legitimate resent

ment by its tariffs. But the nation which distinguishes in its custom houses between friendly and hostile foreigners must expect all the consequences of its act. The first reply will of course be a tariff of equal or even greater severity against our own trade. The next will be an adjustment of armaments and diplomacy to meet the fact proclaimed in word and deed by ourselves, that we are the sworn and unrelenting enemies of Germany. Against such a declaration a prudent people arms, seeks allies, and, at the appropriate moment, makes war. That disaster to civilization might, indeed, be postponed by the exhaustion of both sides for many years. But its postponement would enable us to enjoy none of the fruits of peace. We should not dare to disarm. We should not venture in full security to devote ourselves to our internal social problems, and the shadow of war would be over all our politics. The constant preoccupation with the certainty of a renewal of war would mean in the end what it meant for Prussia—the dominance of militarism over our civil life. Militarism is not an original sin or a vice in the blood. It is the adjustment of a nation's institutions and thoughts to the necessities of an “inevitable” war, which it cannot or will not avoid. But perhaps we would propose arbitration or set up a council of conciliation, or invite our enemy to come before an Areopagus? What mockery! The machinery of conciliation may one day banish war from the world, but only when nations first resolve to live in friendship and habitually guide their policy by a purpose of good will. In an atmosphere of good will, the League of Nations to which the Entente is now committed may serve to remove accidental misunderstandings and incidental conflicts of interest. In an atmosphere of deliberate hate, between peoples whose whole

« ПретходнаНастави »