HENRY NOEL BRAILSFORD
THE WAR OF STEEL AND GOLD
A STUDY OF THE ARMED PEACE
A POSTSCRIPT ON PEACE AND CHANGE
A NATION at war believes what will conduce to victory, and truth is what it is expedient that it should believe. Each people in this universal war is convinced that it is fighting on the defensive, and each people is persuaded that the whole responsibility for this co-operative crime falls upon its adversaries. Defence is the first necessity, but apart from the necessity of defence another direction of thought was prompt to reveal itself as the war went on. Each of the combatants defined the positive objects for which it strove, and the imagination of all the belligerents, sometimes in a mood of sincere and exalted idealism, elsewhere in a grasping and pedestrian spirit, began to reconstruct the world. Few of these positive objects were mentioned during. the preliminary negotiations. They must none the less have been present, if only in the sub-conscious mind, to all the statesmen of Europe, on the eve of war. No Government makes war save in the hope of victory, and half the attraction of victory is in the gain which it will bring. The ambitions which dreamers and schemers had conceived in modesty and secrecy, were proclaimed on the outbreak of war to the sound of the trumpet amid the clash of steel. A war is made less by the dispute which may occasion it, than by the allurement of the positive ends which the combatants hope to realise. A statesman may make war with perfect sincerity because he believes that no other choice is open to him. But he is the readier to believe that it is necessary to fight, when he is also convinced that it will be profitable to fight.
The first of the objects which all the combatants proposed to themselves was somewhat vague. Each side desired safety for the future, and each was convinced that safety could be attained only by breaking the power of its adversary. No one avowed that he aimed at predominance for himself, but everyone meant to destroy the predominance of another. (1) The Allies declared that they must be freed from the menace of German militarism, while Germany sought relief from the menace of Russian Panslavism and British "navalism." (2) Many of the positive issues of this war can be grouped round the idea of nationality---the future of Alsace and Poland, the destiny of the Southern Slavs, the completion of Italian unity, the re-settlement of the Balkans, and, German progressives would add, the liberation of the Finns and other non-Russian peoples of Russia. (3) Some issues are Imperial and Colonial---the future of China, where Japan has already pegged out her claims, the status of Egypt and Cyprus, the ownership of Constantinople, the partition of Turkey, the redistribution of tropical colonies and spheres of influence all the world over. (4) German spokesmen dwelt from the first on questions which affect their trade. Early in the war they talked of constituting a vast Central European Zollverein or Customs Union. They now insist rather on obtaining access to the exclusive Colonial markets of other Powers, by breaking down the system under which many colonies give a preference to the trade of the mother country. (5) Lastly, there are claims and suggestions which aim at future security on land and sea---the reduction of armaments, the abolition of capture at sea, the neutralisation of straits and ship canals. Not only is this a vast range of questions, but most of them are of real importance, and some of them raise large and general issues of world-policy which only a congress could settle. They are more than mere "disputes" between single Powers. It is on the other hand only the questions of nationality which deeply affect the daily life of some small fraction of the European masses, and these questions would probably not have been raised had not Imperial issues lain behind them. Not one of these questions, nor all of them together, is worth this hideous waste and carnage, But they are not accidental or frivolous issues.
To obtain an insight into the psychological causes of this war, let us look at the "dispute " which occasioned it. It was not a large or unmanageable issue. Austria, after the murder of the Archduke, could have obtained from Serbia reparation and guarantees, without undue difficulty. The Hague Tribunal might have investigated the facts, and Sir Edward Grey's proposed conference could have found a formula of conciliation. War might have been averted, if Austria had delayed her precipitate bombardment of Belgrade, and if Russia had postponed her general mobilisation. The negotiations failed for the simple reason that the trivial police matter of the Archduke's murder was not the real question at issue, and the well-meaning efforts of diplomacy sought to avert war by ignoring the real ground of quarrel. The moment war broke out, the Archduke's grave was left in peace, and with a sense almost of relief we lapsed into frankness and faced the real facts. What was at stake was the national destiny of the whole Serbo-Croatian race, and the still vaster clash between the German economic penetration of the Near East and the Slav ambition to attain racial unity and political power. The war in the East brought to full view all the forces which had been working for the break-up of Austria, and the mastery of Turkey. The plain fact about the South Slav problem is that it can be settled only by a fundamental change, and in one of two ways. If all the Serbo-Croats and Slovenes can be united in an independent kingdom, the world will have rest from this cause of disturbance. The same result would follow if all the Serbs and Croats, including those of the kingdom, were united within the Austrian Empire under a system of Home Rule. We shall begin to grasp the real nature of our European problem, when we realise that as Europe was constituted in 1914, a fundamental solution of this one question was hardly conceivable without war; nay, more, given the system of alliances, it was hardly possible without a general war. Sir Edward Grey's Conference might have drafted formulae, suggested apologies, defined guarantees. But it would have proposed neither the abandonment of Serb provinces by Austria, nor the amalgamation of Serbia in Austria. It would in short have left the South Slav problem not merely unsolved, but no nearer a solution. At least, the reader may object, it would have prevented war. For how long? Perhaps until Serbia had recovered from the exhaustion of the Balkan wars, until Russia had completed her strategic railways, and France reaped the fruits of her return to Three Years' Service. A war averted is only a war postponed, so long as living forces still press for organic change, and Europe lacks the organisation which can impose change without war.
An analysis of other questions which await settlement in this war would lead us to the same conclusion. Few of them were urgent. Nations can wait for decades without yielding to the temptation to make a war. But these issues work, even when they make no war. France has never raised the question of Alsace since 1871, but that question has none the less dominated her foreign policy. She did not ally herself with Russia with the deliberate intention of forcing on a war of revanche with Russian aid. But she did calculate that sooner or later a European war would occur, and then, in association with Russia, she would stand a chance of recovering her lost provinces. The German military caste looked forward to a war for the acquisition of "places in the sun," but it understood that it would have to wait for a pretext which would enable it to persuade the German democracy that its war was not simply aggressive and predatory. It is a truism to say that France would not be fighting to-day in a Slav quarrel unless she had desired to recover Alsace, nor Germany unless she had coveted colonies and spheres of influence, nor Russia if she ever ceased to aspire to the leadership of the Near East and the ownership of. Constantinople. The chief psychological cause of war was, after fear, the fatalistic belief that fundamental change is possible in Europe only as a sequel of war. That belief had unluckily only too good a warrant in European history. The militarist assumed it as an axiom, while we who opposed militarism were reluctant to face it, and made the most of the precarious successes of diplomacy in dealing with secondary questions. The big changes in the structure of Europe followed the congresses of Vienna and Berlin at the end of the Napoleonic and Russo-Turkish wars, and other changes hardly less considerable came about as the result of a series of wars from Louis Napoleon's Italian campaign down to the two Balkan wars. The massive lesson of European military history could not be ignored; large changes are the sequel only of war. The failure of several efforts to achieve or regulate large changes without war, was no less conspicuous. The first Hague Conference failed to reduce armaments, and the second to deal even with the limited problem of capture at sea. The Conference of London allowed the Balkan settlement to follow the unhampered dictation of the victors, and without a protest saw its own recommendations defied. All Europe realised instinctively from that object lesson, that change means war, but the pressure making for change was none the less so strong that all the Powers prepared with redoubled zeal for war. The long time-fuse which regulates the explosion of the mines below the smooth surface of European civilisation had burned itself down during a generation of peace. New issues had accumulated, and Europe was still without the organisation which can bring about fundamental change by other means than war.
The perception of this connection between change and war has for a century influenced all European diplomacy. The number of statesmen who have in modern times consciously planned war is very small. The accepted canon of responsible diplomacy had come to be that its first object was to prevent wars. So far was it from yielding to an adventurous disposition, that the average characteristic of most European diplomacy has been an almost Chinese conservatism. Its first instinct when confronted with a situation that demanded drastic change, was always to proclaim the maintenance of the status quo. There were few limits to the patience with which it endured the wrongs and martyrdom of others. It had never brought itself to propose an adequate remedy for the misrule in Macedonia and Armenia, and on the eve of the Balkan Wars it once more mumbled over the phrases by which it had been used to consecrate things as they are. It made an ideal of immobility, and when events did force it to act, it proposed palliatives, but never remedies.
Behind this conservative practice lay the still more conservative theory of the Balance of Power. That singular fetish of statecraft is a survival from the eighteenth century. It belonged to the same order of ideas as the balance of the Constitution which pre-revolutionary thinkers so profoundly admired in the England of the days before Reform. King, Lords and Commons were all engaged in checking one another, and the balance in England was so perfect, that it was difficult to conceive that anything could happen at all. Change was eliminated, and the stability of our institutions seemed achieved. To the modern mind this idea of a balance attained by counter-acting forces is nothing but an archaic curiosity. The idea that different classes or estates should spend their forces in so checking each other as to render change and movement impossible, would seem to all of us a tragi-comic futility. In politics as in biology we know that life means change. So far from dreading change, we regard our modern constitutions as the means by which society may constantly and safely adapt itself to new conditions. While every fully civilised State has passed in its national life from a mechanical to an evolutionary habit of thought, diplomacy has remained in the eighteenth century. It is recruited from the satisfied class; it clings to its aristocratic tradition; it has kept its profession a secret mystery, and its guiding conceptions have never been permeated by the evolutionary ideas which leave transformed every other domain of human thought. It still conceives of Europe as our great-grandfathers thought of England---a system of balanced forces, of countervailing checks, which work to perfection only when the dead Mechanism is at rest. The Six Great Powers were engaged in checking each other, precisely as the Three Estates were expected to do in the English Constitution. No one, if the balance was preserved, could infringe the recognised rights of another, but it is equally true that no considerable grievance could ever be redressed, and no large change compassed. The dread of change was in each case a dread of violence. Change in England seemed to mean revolution, and change in Europe meant war. The nemesis for this conservative theory of the Balance lay inexorably in war. The society which lives must change, and if its organisation cannot enforce fundamental change without violence, then war is as inevitable as revolution.
There is to-day a danger that pacifists may repeat the mistake of diplomacy. The horror of war possesses us so strongly that we are apt to conceive our problem too simply as the prevention of war. Our problem is larger; it is to provide for international change without war. No solution is adequate and none stands a chance of acceptance which opposes only prohibitions and negations. to the impulses of the average healthy mind, possessed with the sense that there is something which it wants, and confident in its power to win it by force. That is to repeat the fallacy of the simple-minded man of law and order who tries to prevent revolution by strengthening the police. First let us assure the nation stifled by some historic wrong or inspired by some legitimate ambition, that the changes it desires can be attained without war, and it will then be superfluous to forbid war. No nation desires war, but some nations desire change. The concrete form which our thinking inevitably takes while this war goes on, is the construction after it of a permanent League of Peace, which might direct its united forces against any Power which breaks the harmony of Europe. Some defensive organisation we must have, but what is it to defend? The status quo? The settlement which may be dictated by the victors at the close of this war? It is easy to imagine a League of this type which would become as reactionary as the Holy Alliance. If peace should come to mean the perpetuation of any settlement, the stereotyping of any established order, the writing of an imperious Ne varietur across a map of the world, it will sooner or later come into clash with the living forces, the restless energies of mankind. For a time it may repress them, until in its turn it is broken by the world's need of change. We in this country have a wide outlook and a broad experience of foreign affairs. But there is one experience which we lack. We have no bitter grievance, no unsated ambition, and alone of all the nations engaged in this war, we entered it with no imperious wish for some large change. We have no lost provinces, no "unredeemed" kinsmen; we have not felt ourselves "penned in" as the Germans did, nor do we think that our growth will be stifled and our trade hampered unless we can acquire new "places in the sun." We are sated with empire and have no temptation to disturb the peace. If we would understand the causes of wars, we must endeavour to complete our experience by an effort of the imagination. We must make an attempt to view the world's structure from the standpoint of the unsatisfied nations. A settlement which made no provision for the future need of change, a defensive League which perpetuated the established order, might satisfy us. But how will it look to a proletarian State? Take for the example the case of the Bulgarians. If the Allies win this war, and leave Macedonia in possession of the Serbs, as they very well may do, three Bulgarians in four would see in the League's command to disarm merely an intolerable act of tyranny. To abandon for all time every hope of winning freedom for their oppressed kinsmen, would seem not to the worst but to the best Bulgarians a surrender of their manhood. The settlement after this war may do much to better the case of those nations which have sided with the victors. But if it ends with a decided victory for either party, the settlement will inevitably be one-sided. It will redress some wrongs, and make or perpetuate others. It cannot satisfy every legitimate aspiration for change, and may not even realise the ambitions of the victors. In five or ten years new problems will be upon us, if not of nationality then of trade or colonisation or migration. In vain shall we preach disarmament, in vain shall we strive to prevent war, unless we have meanwhile created the organisation which can secure large and fundamental changes without war.
The distance which separates us from any closely-knit international organisation which can bring about change by legislation, may seem at the moment immense. Europe was never so deeply riven by hatreds, and when the struggle is over on the battle-field, it will continue in the press, and may even be prolonged by trade boycotts and tariff wars. The distance to be traversed must not be measured in years. The space to be crossed is a brief intellectual process. We may in the end come to understand that this has been as much a civil war as the American struggle of North and South, and that it must end in the same way, in the unity of a continent. The obstacle in the way is the pride, sometimes a proper sense of independence, sometimes, an inflated megalomania, which dreads any diminution in the rights of the sovereign national State. No one would propose to sacrifice the form of the national State, its sentiment of patriotism, and its right to manage its internal affairs. But in its. dealings with other States how much of the substance and reality of sovereign independence still survives? The great fact of our generation has been the creation of the permanent alliance. Temporary alliances for specific purposes are as old as States themselves, but the durable alliance, designed for peace as well as for war, working in diplomacy as closely as on the field, knit together by the financial ties of debtor and creditor, pursuing a common policy in economics as in strategy---this is a new phenomenon, and it dates only from the last quarter of last century. It has now gone so far that not even insular Britain can stand alone, and centripetal forces drive even the weaker neutrals into one group or the other. A Power which enters a modern Alliance inevitably surrenders something of its sovereignty. It binds itself at need to the principle "my ally, right or wrong." It makes war and peace in common. No published treaty provides any machinery by which Allies control each others' policy, but the control is necessary, and is somehow, though imperfectly, contrived. Italy expected to be consulted before the present war broke out, and repudiated the obligations of an ally because she was not consulted. Germany more than once vetoed the forward policy of Austria in the Balkans, and this war came about only because in 1914 she authorised Vienna to press her quarrel with Belgrade to extremes. German critics have argued with some plausibility that the looser structure of the Triple Entente helped to bring about the conflagration. Our own action was, they say, incalculable, and if the Entente had been a more disciplined Alliance, we might have averted war by delaying the Russian mobilisation. There is some point in these criticisms, though they involve the deadly admission that Germany would and could have kept the peace, if she had known that we would be arrayed against her. If several nations are so closely bound that the doings of one of them may compel the others to go to war, their foreign policy in time of peace ought to be subject to a mutual control as absolute as their strategy in time of war. Short of this no nation is mistress of its own peace; with such a control it has abandoned some part of its sovereignty. The dilemma is inevitable, and however it is solved, the old conception of sovereign independence is gone. Without control, Allies may drag each other into war; with control they are moving towards the ideal of federation.
Alliances are intolerable and unworkable without mutual control. But this control will always be incapable of realisation while two rival groups confront each other in Europe. We dare not attempt to control our Ally beyond a certain limit, because it is always open to him to join the rival combination. The German Powers disapproved of Italy's adventure in Tripoli, but to check it would have been to drive her into the Triple Entente. We disapproved of much that Russia did in Persia, and of Japan's recent aggression upon China, but we could not interfere effectively, lest these Allies should cease to support us. An alliance under these conditions may involve not merely some surrender of vital interests, but also a paltering with principle. We may make war on an adversary when he violates the public law of Europe, but if we really required the support of an Ally, we should have to condone his misdeeds whatever he might do. If, to take an extreme imaginary case, Russia were to realise Swedish fears by attacking Sweden as Germany has attacked Belgium, or if Italy should insist on acquiring Slav territory in Dalmatia, we should still be compelled to avail ourselves of her aid. The system of alliances, in short, infringes at every turn our own liberty of action, our own power to determine our own course, but it does not by way of compensation fully provide for the salutary control of nation over nation, and above all it does not guarantee the public law of Europe. Such a state of things is so far from being satisfactory that it is not even tolerable. It is unthinkable that we should return to the national individualism of the last century. What Power in the present condition of Europe would feel secure if Alliances were dissolved? What assurance would the victors have that the terms of the settlement would be observed? A coalition which imposes terms must remain in being to enforce them. There is only one way of escape, and that is to continue the process of evolution, to amalgamate the warring groups, to create a single European system with an impartial machinery of mutual control. The group system is plainly a transition phase in a process of development from isolated national states to a European Commonwealth. What stands in the way? Our hatreds may bar the advance for a time, until we realise that the pursuit of hate injures and burdens ourselves as fatally as it hurts the enemy. The illusion of sovereignty may hamper our action until clear thinking and a survey of recent history have taught us that in the modern world the unlimited independence of sovereign states is as impossible and as undesirable as the anarchical freedom of individual citizens
We may reach the same conclusion by another road if we consider the change that has come over the scope and character of European "disputes." The notion that two Powers might fight out their "differences" without affecting the vital interests of others belongs to the past. The system of alliances has alone made an end of it. While that system lasts, any war among the Great Powers must be a general war. Even when there is no war, any aggrandisement of one Power commonly gives rise to a claim for "compensation" from its neighbours. Every question, even a local territorial question, tends to affect more States than the principals to it. There has, moreover, emerged during this war a series of large and general questions which it would be grotesque to class among "disputes." The law of the sea and the regulation of colonial trade are as much at issue in this war as the fate of Serbia or Belgium. Such issues can be settled only by legislation, and when we have perceived this, it is plain that the world's peace and the world's provision for future change demand not merely arbitral courts and mediation in "disputes," but some organisation which can legislate. The Hague Conference could in a sense do that. But two defects in its constitution rendered it nearly useless. In the first place, it could legislate only when unanimity could be attained among the forty-four sovereign States of all grades and stages of civilisation which comprised it. In the second place it could neither impose its law upon a dissentient minority, nor could it assure the observation of a law even by those who had assented to it. We need a legislature for international questions, and a legislature is impotent unless it also possesses executive powers, or can call upon some other body which will act as its executive.
One need hardly pause to argue that the law of the sea must be rewritten after this war. Belligerents and neutrals are agreed in regarding the present anarchy as intolerable. The right of capture and the meaning of blockade both call for definition; the development of the submarine has made all our traditions and calculations obsolete. It seems, moreover, useless to draft paper regulations: there will be no law at sea, unless neutrals can be organised to ensure its observation. One may have laws within a policed State, but hardly outside it. If there is ever to be a real law of the sea, we must create for its enforcement something that will in this limited respect correspond to a World-State. Closely connected with this subject is the provision and guarantee of free ports, and the regulation of straits and ship-canals. The struggle for territory will go on across the lines of nationality, unless the free communications of land-locked States are kept open.
It is not yet so generally recognised that the colonial questions which underlie this war call as imperatively as the law of the sea for international consideration. A redistribution of colonies will not end this competition, and might indeed aggravate it. The fundamental mischief is the belief of all the Imperial Powers that colonies and spheres of influence are "possessions" worth struggling for, worth acquiring and worth retaining even at the cost of war. We felt a shudder of repugnance when the German Chancellor's refusal last August to pledge himself not to annex French colonies, suggested the suspicion that, in declaring war, he was influenced by the hope of seizing some of them. But no Power is free from the reproach that it will use force for such ends. We were ready in 1906 and 1911 to go to war in association with France to back her claim to acquire Morocco. Russia has steadily expanded by military pressure, and Japan has just aggrandised herself in China by means of an ultimatum. So long as colonies are regarded as possessions and as indispensable outlets for national trade, the struggle will go on, until the distribution of colonies bears a closer relation to each country's power, to its population and to the vigour of its industry. Germans will remind us, when they talk of Morocco, that France has a stationary population, while theirs increases by a million a year, and that France has already two colonies of the same type (Algeria and Tunis) while they have none that is capable of settlement by white men. They will argue that the use of their central military pressure in Europe to win an empire beyond it, is morally no worse than our own command of the seas, by which we won and by which we retain our empire. On such lines of thought mankind is doomed to incessant warfare. They are, moreover, a brutal negation of the better impulse which teaches us to look on our unfree dependencies not as estates to be exploited, but as regions held in trust to be developed for the good of their immature inhabitants. That idealistic doctrine must, however, reckon with the fact that the economic policy of many colonies is designed to give an exclusive advantage to the trade of the mother-country. The French colonies and Asiatic Russia are conducted on this protectionist principle. Our own unfree colonies and those of Germany are open markets, but our self-governing colonies have latterly given to our exports a small unsought preference. Not less important than this question of open markets is the system by which all the Powers in effect reserve their colonies, protectorates and spheres of influence as monopoly areas for the national capital, which seeks to export itself, to build railways, to open mines and to found industries. So long as these areas are reserved as exclusive fields of national investment, so long will the competition to secure them continue, and it will seem profitable to the propertied class of every Power to accumulate armaments, and on occasion to use them. "Trade," said Cobden, "is a peacemaker," and so it is when it is free. But the unfree trading of the closed market and the concession-area has been for a generation the most potent cause of the armed peace. To remove this incentive to militarism, we must advance to the organisation of a genuine system of free trade, nor will it suffice to break down tariffs, if we still employ diplomacy to secure monopolies for national groups of capitalists. We are once more brought by this argument to the conclusion that the world's peace demands legislation. It is conceivable (as the New York Reform Club's memorandum proposes) that a congress, after this war, might decide that non-self-governing colonies must be opened, without any preference for the Imperial Power which rules them, to the trade of all the world. That might be secured without a permanent legislature, and even by a bargain. If France, for example, regains Alsace, she might well consent in return to open her colonial markets. Such an arrangement would remove half of the motives which now make for colonial expansion. If a Power may trade freely with the colonies of another, it need be at no pains to conquer them. But this touches only half our problem. The competition for concessions remains, and the colonies which are open to the merchant are still closed to the financier and the contractor. That is the case for the creation of a permanent authority which may labour to internationalise the export of capital. An undertaking that the finance of all the Powers should share on an agreed ratio in all railway or mining concessions in Turkey and China would go far to solve a part of our problem. Some similar arrangement might be reached even in Africa. Equity in this complicated and world-wide question could be preserved only by continual compromises, experiments and adjustments. This is work not for a single congress, but for a standing international authority.
If the world were quite ready to create the United States of Europe, we need only choose between the elaborate constitutions of the Abbé de Saint-Pierre and Immanuel. Kant. For us the practical problem is rather to define the minimum which will suffice to enable civilised States to realise large international changes without war. We want to know how little we need sacrifice of national sovereignty and independence. But no scheme is worth the effort which any real advance would cost, unless it satisfies one test. Will it give to an aggrieved or ambitious State a prospect of attaining its legitimate ends so secure that it will desist from competitive armaments and partisan alliances? If the way to gain a big and legitimate end is still by force, then our scheme will be only an otiose superstructure built on the volcanic foundation of the armed peace. Our object must be to ensure that the way for a nation to gain its ends is to appeal to the represented public opinion of Europe. We must give this opinion first a voice, and then an arm. It must be able first to frame and then to enforce its decisions.
There are two ways in which the common will may be executed. The direct and simple way is, to use force, to brandish "the big stick," to coerce the dissentient minority. The simple way is the worse way, and a federation based upon it would be hard to create, and harder still to maintain. Our wars would merely have become civil wars. There is another way, and that is to base the League not upon force but on advantage. If it can offer to, those who join it advantages so great that they will be supremely reluctant to quit it, it may safely require that while they remain within it, they shall obey its decisions. Secession must be permitted, but the way of the seceder can be made hard. The two conceptions are not rigidly exclusive, but it will make a vast difference which of the two dominates our planning and our advocacy. By force and, threats we shall never constitute a League that will have the loyalty and devotion of Europe behind it. It must become a rallying point for the emotions of civilised men. Its success must depend on the advantages which it offers. Some of these, and the best of them, will be intangible---an enduring peace, progress without war, change without violence, the gradual permeation of our common life by the best thought of each friendly sister nation. But modern industrial society asks for cruder measures. of advantage than these. We must not shrink from meeting it on its own ground. Our League will be the safer if its basis is rather economic than military, if it is more obviously a Zollverein than an Alliance. It must offer, whether by tariffs, by the association of capital, by colonial privileges, or by all these means together, advantages so clear, that only a state bent on suicide would renounce them. The sanction on which it relies to enforce its awards, its decisions, and its laws must be rather the withdrawal of these privileges than the use of force. The procedure of its Council must be public, so that Europe shall never again present the spectacle of nations at war in ignorance as to who is the aggressor and who is fighting in self-defence. The simple test of right and wrong for the democracy in any future quarrel must be whether its government has obeyed or defied the common council of Europe. When a way is open to obtain change without war, when economic interest is enlisted on the side of the preservation of the League, when the masses can apply a simple test to detect the aggressor, it may be possible to conduct the common affairs of Europe without appeals to force. The fundamental basis of any European League must be the simple requirement that the seceder forfeits its privileges. The military provisions which may eventually form part of its constitution need be only its second line of defence, held in reserve for an emergency which the economic structure of the League must render improbable.
There follows a rough tentative sketch of a constitution of such a League. The work of drafting a workable scheme must be undertaken in co-operation and by many minds, for it requires not only a scientific knowledge of political theory, but an expert acquaintance with the prejudices and aspirations of the nations which must constitute the nucleus of any League. This outline is intended only to illustrate the suggestions of the preceding pages. I have ventured to compose it because it seems to me that he best serves the common need in this downfall of civilisation, who refuses to despair and continues to construct. The enemy of all our peace is the man who by word or tone or gesture depresses hope and defers Utopia to a distant future. It will come when we will that it shall come. The choice is before us, and this war has taught us that our choice lies between Utopia and Hell.
A SKETCH OF A FEDERAL LEAGUE
MEMBERSHIP is open to any civilised sovereign State, and all are invited. Self-governing colonies rank as Members. The term "civilised" must be defined, so as to permit the rejection or eviction of undesirable States. The right to secede is freely allowed. Eviction follows after due warning on any breach of the Constitution. An appeal on the interpretation of the Constitution lies to the Hague Tribunal.
The EXTENT at which the Federation should aim is not easy to determine. Many of its problems are world-wide, but a World-Federation would be unmanageable, nor would it constitute a unity which would appeal to the emotions. Perhaps three Federations might grow up, one Pan-European, one Pan-American and one Asiatic, which might be linked by treaty and by the reciprocal exchange of certain advantages. For us the immediate problem is a European League. It must include Germany as well as the chief Allies. Much would be gained by the admission of the United States.
DISPUTES among Members are referred, if justiciable, to the Hague Tribunal. Larger questions of "honour," "vital interest " or of general scope are referred to the Council of the League. A refusal to obey its decisions is equivalent to secession, and mobilisation by one Member against another entails instant expulsion.
The COUNCIL of the League is comprised of deputies elected by the Lower House of each national Parliament on a basis of population (say one to five millions). The method of election is by proportional representation.
The alternative would be a Council composed of the nominees of the Governments. They would tend to be delegates who must obey instructions; such a Council could not deliberate freely, and the voting would follow secret bargaining between the Governments. The Council, as such, would therefore possess no moral authority as a representative body with peoples behind it, and would add no new element to the resources of diplomacy. Few States would like to be outvoted by the nominees of other Governments.
A middle course would be to create a small supreme Council or Senate of delegates of Governments, and an Advisory General Council or Lower House of elected deputies.
National groups elected by proportional representation would show some varieties of opinion. International parties would soon be created across them Socialist party, a Free-Trade party, a Conservative party standing for State rights, a Progressive party devoted to the extension of the federal idea. The public life of Europe would soon become an absorbing but peaceful struggle between these rival ideals, in which national divisions would be gradually ignored. No defeat, moreover, would be final. If some decision were generally disapproved in England, our resource would be by books, speeches, or official papers to bring over the rest of Europe to our view. One might devise checks and delays against the hasty action of a bare majority, and a Parliament must be entitled to recall and re-elect its delegates, but, on the whole, the best safeguard would always be the knowledge that a dissentient minority, if unfairly handled, may secede.
The EXECUTIVE work of the Council would, in the main, be performed by permanent officials, drawn at first mainly from the smaller European States. Their work would be controlled by several standing committees, elected by the Council from among its members and responsible to it. Each would be charged with a specific department. The Council would elect a President, who must not be the reigning sovereign of a Great Power.
THE FUNCTIONS OF THE COUNCIL
These demand exact and formal definition; what follows is a mere hint. Generally the internal affairs of Member-States are declared exempt from interference. Two exceptions seem necessary, though even these must be protected from abuse. The States must surrender something, though not all or even much, of the power to impose tariffs. In grave cases also some interference to assure the rights of racial minorities may be justified. This might be provided for by a statute expressly guaranteeing certain specified minorities, or, better, by a general declaration. Action might also be taken in the gravest cases of oppression under the definition of a "civilised" State. The common affairs of the Federation must be defined by enumeration, subject to future additions as confidence grows and the international idea develops. We might now include:
(1) The police of the high seas in peace and war.
(2) The control of trade routes, ship canals and free ports.
(3) Trade with the unfree colonies of the Member-States.
(4) The control of the competition for concessions and spheres of influence.
(5) The control of dealings with bankrupt or anarchical minor States.
(6) The control, at least in principle, of emigration.
(7) International postal, telegraphic and railway arrangements, extradition, patent and copyright law.
(8) Some cautious development of the existing rudimentary arrangements for standardising national legislation as to dangerous trades, child-labour, the white slave traffic, etc.
(9) The protection in grave cases of racial minorities.
(10) The decision of disputes among Members on the initiative of any national group.
(11) Defence against external aggression.
(12) The consequent regulation of armaments.
The BUDGET of the Council, which would be trifling, would be met by matricular contributions from the Member-States, proportionate to their national revenues.
The key to the creation and maintenance of the League is its economic policy. Here we have in times of peace, the chief of the cruder motives for adhering to it, the chief obstacle to secession, and therefore the principal sanction for the decisions of its Council. The ideal would be a Zollverein, based on complete free-trade within the League and a tariff-wall against outsiders. To this, however, few States would consent to-day. Member-States may, however, be left free to impose their own tariffs in their homelands, provided they will agree to open to other Members the markets of their unfree colonies, and to discriminate in the home market against hostile outsiders and seceders. The main points of such a policy would be:
(1) All Members must receive "most favoured nation" treatment.
(2) The non-self-governing colonies of Members must be open without preferences to the trade of other Members on the same terms as the trade of the mother-country.
(3) Short of free trade within the League some general preference, say 5 per cent., might be given in the home market by Protectionist Powers to the trade of Members, but this is not essential.
(4) Some arrangement might be devised by which the capital resources of Members should be open to other Members. Certainly their Bourses must not be closed to the quotation of approved securities of Member-States, as the French market used to be to German ventures.
(5) The capital of Member-States will share in an agreed proportion in certain joint enterprises---e.g., in Turkish, Chinese or African railways.
(6) As a substitute for forcible coercion the council may in extreme cases impose a prohibitive maximum tariff on the trade of a hostile outsider or an aggressive seceder.
Such a policy, if firmly administered would make it hard for any aggressive outsider or seceder to maintain himself in opposition to the League. It involves some sacrifice of principle from free-traders, and some advance towards freer trade from Protectionists. Peace is worth much greater sacrifices than this, and the armed peace of the past demanded more.
The chief arm of the League would be its economic policy. It is to be foreseen, however, than an aggressive outsider or seceder might, on a capital issue, challenge the League by an appeal to force. So long as this is possible, the League must maintain such armaments as the state of Europe requires. It might, however, be able at once to decree a proportionate reduction. National armies and fleets. subject to the exchange of plans and inventions usual between Allies, would at first be maintained. Eventually after some years or decades of successful life the League might create its own fleet, and its own technical military services, leaving Members to train and arm a militia.
The military Council of the League might consist of soldiers nominated by the Governments, under the control of the General Council.
The obligations of the defensive alliance would come into force only when a Member in a dispute with an outsider or seceder had from the first accepted the guidance of the Council in his management of his dispute. Short of this provision, a Member might require the Council to defend him in the practice of manifest injustice. The Council would require submission only in the case of disputes between Members. It would welcome it, without requiring it, in all other disputes. But a Member who had not submitted to its guidance would have no claim to its aid. Members might conceivably be allowed to join the League on its economic side and to take part in its Council without entering the Alliance or incurring any military obligation, and, indeed, such a provision would be necessary if neutral States are to retain their present status, and it might also attract the United States.
At the lowest such a League would mark an immense advance on the present type of secretive and incalculable alliance. Its economic policy would give it a sanction other than force. Its open and popular constitution would attract to it advanced opinion in the nations which remained outside it. Unless it were managed with unusual folly it could hardly fail to extend itself until it became a universal European League, and with each year that it survived it would create a loyalty to itself and a faith in its work which would make secession as difficult as is rebellion to-day in a well-governed State.
Table of Contents