Copyright
David Jayne Hill.

The rebuilding of Europe : a survey of forces and conditions online

. (page 5 of 15)
Online LibraryDavid Jayne HillThe rebuilding of Europe : a survey of forces and conditions → online text (page 5 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


ously condemns, the solid mass of moral convic-
tion should count for nothing in affairs of state.
Against it a purely national prejudice has almost
never failed to prevail. At the present moment
there is a strong sympathy expressed for the mis-
fortunes of small states; and yet how little the
great powers have done to secure the safety and
the rights of the lesser nations. It may seem un-
gracious, in the midst of a bitter struggle, to
open the books of the past and recall to the con-
testants the record they have helped to make.
But how shall we ever put an end to economic



ECONOMIC IMPERIALISM 79

imperialism if we do not lay bare its vices and if
we do not condemn it in all who have practised
it? So long as it remains unchallenged, it will
go on. But the crime of letting it go on is not
confined to the injury inflicted upon the quarry
in the game of empire, the small state or the weak
people. The most fatal injury is to the imperial
peoples, who suffer themselves to be drawn into
predatory aggression and made particeps criminis
by the appeal to their racial instincts, their loyalty
to their governments, their passion for supremacy,
or the baser incentive of mere vulgar greed. If
there is to be a better spirit in the new Europe,
there will be required much penitence for the past
and many high resolves for the future. But there
are grounds for believing that a turning-point in
history has now been reached. It has required
the awful cataclysm that is now agitating Europe
to open the eyes of civilized peoples to the truth
that the state, with all its machinery of destruction,
cannot longer be set above the moral law. It
has at the same time raised the question in every
thoughtful mind, What is the state, and whence
comes its authority that for its own increase of
power it may so ruthlessly crush the lives of men



80 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

beneath its chariot wheel, hurling whole peoples
against each other, armed with every ingenious
device for wholesale murder, and strewing the
earth with death and mutilation? There is hope
in the fact that nations which in the past have
themselves joined in the quest for empire and
have taken part in the subjugation of helpless
peoples now assert that they are fighting the
battle of democracy and sacrificing their own lives
for the safety of small and defenseless states.
After that how can they ever again place empire
above moral obligation, and material gain above
the principles they proclaim?

It was, beyond dispute, economic imperialism
that caused the present war and plunged all Eu-
rope into it. No one can fail to see the opposi-
tion of interests that led up to it. They were
real, they were obvious; but it was an anachron-
ism to fight about them. They were primarily
business interests markets, resources, trade
routes. These were the issues. To settle them
advantagously the sword was thrown into the
scale, great armies were mustered and despatched
upon their errand of hewing their way to the heart
of opposing nations. Has it been a good way



ECONOMIC IMPERIALISM 81

to transact business? It was easy to begin it, but
it is difficult to end it. It can never be ended by
mere fighting. The lesson of it must be learned
and accepted by all; and, whoever wins on the
battle-field, no real victory can be attained that
does not result in the triumph of principles of
universal justice, and the renunciation of material
advantages as mere spoils of war. Unless the
victory resulting from this war is a triumph for
humanity, whoever the victor may be at the mak-
ing of a treaty, it will not be a peace, but the seed
of future conflicts. The real battle-field is in
the souls of the nations ; and nations as well as in-
dividual men must learn that "he who conquer-
eth his own spirit is greater than he who taketh
a city."

Herein, then, lies the foreshadowing of a new
Europe, that, hereafter, the stronger may not
profit by his superior strength. It sounds, in-
deed, like a new doctrine, and it will be hard to
live by, but it has its apostolate. It is explicitly
announced as a creed. Whatever sympathy the
Entente Allies have received in America has been
given to them because they were the first to an-



82 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

nounce it, and because it is believed that they are
sincere in proclaiming that law is to be respected
and the right of the stronger is to be denied.
They have opened a great issue, and they will be
held to it. The small states, the weak peoples,
the submerged races, they affirm, must henceforth
receive from the powerful just consideration.
The state is no longer to be regarded as an entity
existing only for its own augmentation of power,
above the law, defiant of humanity, and respon-
sible to no one for its action. There is to be a
society of states in a true sense, in which interna-
tional law is to be respected. In brief, there is to
be an end of economic imperialism. It is to be
a different world.

For the historian, at least, it is difficult to ac-
cept these high resolutions as certain to endure.
History has never been an advance in a direct
line toward the fulfilment of great ideals. There
are frequently reactionary movements, but they
are seldom complete. Human nature does not
change radically, but in great crises men see a
new light; and, having seen it, it is never quite
so dark as it was before.

At all events, a new standard has been raised.



ECONOMIC IMPERIALISM 83

Let us, therefore, rally to it. Let us make it easy
to perform acts of penitence and contrition. Let
all who believe in the constitutional state, who
base it upon the rights of the person, who would
subject it as far as possible to moral law, and who
wish to banish from the earth the shadow of the
sword, unite iii accepting this standard. At least
one step of progress has been made since the con-
ferences at The Hague. Then no one dared to
raise the deeper issues. No one in those conclaves
ventured to question the prerogatives of govern-
ment. No one felt that the moment had arrived
to discuss the real causes of war or to rebuke the
greed of the great powers. There was of neces-
sity an atmosphere of courtesy, but it was breathed
through a veil of mutual suspicion. The very
fact that there were subjects that could not be
frankly considered rendered impossible perfect
confidence. Again and again it was whispered,
"We must not isolate this or that power"; and,
therefore, no action could be taken to which all
the powers, which knew that they were pitted
against one another, could not agree. The
small states were all in leading-strings, each one
thinking of its own exposure and, in some in-



84 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

stances, of its own designs. It is well that we
have reached a point where the truth may be told
and where the real causes of conflict may be
openly discussed.

There can be among really constitutional states
no discrimination based on mere forms of govern-
ment. These grow out of the exigencies of each
nation; and by its own principles each constitu-
tional state is prohibited from dictating its
form of government to any other. Monarchy,
oligarchy, or democracy, all and equally may en-
ter into the family of nations as long as they ac-
cept and respect the principles of law. But eco-
nomic imperialism is a spirit and not a form.
Until that is renounced there can be no society of
states, because it is anti-social, predatory, and
based on arbitrary force. So long as nations,
whatever their form of government, resort to mili-
tary power in order to subordinate other nations,
and forcibly extort from them economic advan-
tages, so long civilization will find itself face to
face with a dangerous enemy.

If the Entente Allies are sincere in this war,
they are prepared to make an end of forceful
exploitation and to enter into solemn engagements



ECONOMIC IMPERIALISM 85

to keep the faith. They have appealed to the con-
science of mankind. They have defined their
own conceptions of right and wrong. They have
professed to be ready to die for them. They have
insisted upon the sanctity of treaty obligations.
They have proclaimed the rights of defenseless
peoples. They have asserted that humanity and
national morality are to be preferred to empire.
In this they have risen to a great height, from
which it would be humiliating ever to descend.
To all who believe in their sincerity they have
spoken with a divinely prophetic voice; and if
they are true to their professions, they will create
a new era in the history of the world.

What then is the attitude of the Central Pow-
ers, Germany and Austria, toward this standard?
Are they also ready to accept it?

If the German Empire has an authorized cham-
pion and apologist, entitled by position and at-
tainments to be heard and credited, it is the
former imperial chancellor, Prince von Billow.
In the first sentence of his book on "Imperial
Germany," published just before the war began,
he says: "Germany is the youngest of the Great



86 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

Powers of Europe; an uninvited and unwelcome
intruder when it demanded its share in the treas-
ures of the world." The reason is frankly
stated. "This union of the states of the Mid-Eu-
ropean continent," he says, "so long prevented,
so often feared, and at last accomplished by the
force of German arms and incomparable states-
manship, seemed to imply something of a threat,
or at any rate a disturbing factor."

It may well be doubted if, at the time of the
establishment of the German Empire, it was re-
garded by the world at large as a "disturbing
factor," much less as a "threat." German unity
having been attained, Bismarck's avowed policy
was to guard it from danger from any possible
coalition of adverse powers. As long as that
regime lasted, no disturbance of the peace was
looked for from Germany. Prince von Billow
himself quotes Bismarck as saying: "In Serbia
I am an Austrian, in Bulgaria I am a Russian,
in Egypt I am English." At the Congress of
Berlin, in 1878, all Europe except Russia was
willing to accept the great chancellor at his own
valuation as an "honest broker" interested chiefly
in the peace of Europe; and as regards Russia,



ECONOMIC IMPERIALISM 87

that was in Bismarck's mind "the wild elephant"
that "was to walk between the two tame ele-
phants, Germany and Austria"!

But Prince von Billow's own interpretation of
the meaning of German unity is, it must be con-
fessed, somewhat disquieting. The voluntary
and spontaneous movement of the German people,
he affirms, could never have created the empire.
It was only through a struggle with the rest of
Europe, he explains, that the Germanic spirit
could be evoked. "The opposition in Germany
itself could hardly be overcome," he continues,
"except by such a struggle. By this means na-
tional policy was interwoven with international
policy; with incomparable audacity and construc-
tive statesmanship, in consummating the work of
uniting Germany, Bismarck left out of play the
political capabilities of the Germans, in which
they have never excelled, while he called into ac-
tion their fighting powers, which have always
been their strongest point."

These are illuminating words by the former
chancellor of the empire, uttered in a spirit of
historic truth ; and it is in the same spirit that they
are here cited. The world would have no fear



88 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

of the German people, although unified and
strong, if their old-time qualities were in control;
but, almost against its will, it seems, Germany
became an imperial power and entered interna-
tional politics, for which Prussian domination
opened the way, and centralized military as-
cendancy furnished the means of action. Prince
von Billow does not permit the German people
themselves or their neighbors to forget that it was
not the political capabilities of the constituent
states, but Prussian military prowess alone that
created and can further extend the empire.

"The German Empire of medieval times/' the
former chancellor writes, "was not founded by the
voluntary union of the tribes, but by the victory
of one single tribe over the others, who for a long
time unwillingly bore the rule of the stronger."
And, in order to leave no doubt of the indebted-
ness of the German people to Prussia, but rather
to show them their complete dependence upon its
force of arms, he continues: "As the old Em-
pire was founded by a superior tribe, so the new
was founded by the strongest of the individual
states. ... In a modern form, but in the old
way, the German nation has, after a thousand



ECONOMIC IMPERIALISM 89

years, once again, and more perfectly, completed
the work which it accomplished in early times,
and for whose destruction it alone was to
blame."

It is precisely this return to the past, this
frank revival of the methods in use a thousand
years ago, this acceptance of a theory of the state
which civilization has everywhere rejected, and
this frank emphasis upon the intrinsic superior-
ity of "fighting powers," that have made Europe
afraid of Germany, and created a distrust of the
use intended to be made of its tremendous ener-
gies.

And this distrust is not removed by the picture
which Prince von Billow paints of the intellectual
state of Germany. "German intellect," he says,
"had already reached its zenith without the help
of Prussia. The princes of the West were the
patrons of German culture; the Hohenzollerns
were the political teachers and taskmasters."
There is as yet, he affirms, no fusion between the
Prussian and the German spirit. Representa-
tives of German intellectual life, he assures us,
sometimes regard the Prussian state as a "hostile
power," and the Prussian at times considers the



90 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

free development of the German intellect as a "de-
structive force." " Again and again," he declares,
"in Parliament and in the press accusations are
levelled against Prussia in the name of freedom,
and against the undaunted German intellect in
the name of order." Between them, he assures
us, there is as yet no real reconciliation.

It does not admit of doubt that, if Germany
were to-day in the mood it was when the German
universities and cultivated classes voiced their
sentiments in 1848, there would be a vigorous
movement for internationalism. Instead of this,
on its cloistered side, the German nation conceives
of itself as a universal spirit of righteousness
humanity inspired by divinity working for in-
carnation in mankind through its superior forms
of culture. In other countries, it is assumed, in-
dividual men are seeking only their own private
happiness. They have no sense of universality
or principle of organization. The German state
cares for all its own. It alone, therefore, has the
secret of ultimate victory. It alone can save the
world from degeneration and decay. For this
overwhelming reason it ought to conquer, domi-
nate, and reconstruct the world!



ECONOMIC IMPERIALISM 91

Dies ist unser! so lass uns sagen und so es behaupten.

Considered by itself, this Weltanschauung
would be entirely harmless, a form of innocuous
spiritual pride; but, taken in connection with the
Prussian military organization, to which it looks
as a means of action, it has become portentous.
Like the faith of Islam, with which Pan-German-
ism unconsciously compares itself, it has kindled
a fire of fanaticism that does not shrink from
extremes; and thus, to the pride of culture, is
added the zeal of religion:

Wir sind des Hammergottes Geschlecht
Und wollen sein Weltreich erobern.

This spirit of Pan-Germanism reaches its full
flower in the " Alldeutscher Verband," whose pub-
lications, widely scattered in cheap popular edi-
tions, have done infinite damage to the reputa-
tion of the empire. Among the publications of
this kind the most elaborate is the book entitled
"Gross-Deutschland," published at Leipsic, in
1911, by Otto Richard Tannenberg.

Here is recited and interpreted ethnologically,



92 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

statistically, chartographically, and prophetically
the German dream of Weltpolitik. With erudi-
tion that has involved years of research, and with
a definiteness and perspicuity that leave nothing
unexplained, even down to the definitive treaties
of peace after the Great War shall have accom-
plished its purposes, we have in this elaborate
work a complete exposition of economic imperial-
ism as contemplated by the Pan-Germanists an
exposition sown broadcast among the people.

There is here no question of diffusing German
culture for the benefit of other nations, and no
attempt to prove the moral value of superior or-
ganization; there is nothing, in fact, but "the
promise of booty, the prospect of profit, the vision
of panting prey waiting to be transfixed," a world
empire, produced by the vivisection of civilized
nations under the edge of the sword.

This urgent exhortation to prompt military ag-
gression, with incredible frankness, makes no pre-
tense of anything forced upon Germany, but de-
clares it to be both expedient and practicable to
acquire new territory, expel its occupants, and
enjoy its resources, without the slightest recogni-
tion of any rights or any law, Being strong,



ECONOMIC IMPERIALISM 93

numerous, and well prepared, it insists that the
time has come for Germans to strike for world
dominion. "The period of preparation," Tan-
nenberg declares, "has lasted a long time (from
1871 to 1911) forty years of toil on land and
sea, the end constantly in view. The need now
is to begin the battle, to vanquish, and to con-
quer; to gain new territories lands for colon-
ization for the German peasants, fathers of fu-
ture warriors, and for the future conquests. . . .
Teace' is a detestable word; peace between Ger-
mans and Slavs is like a treaty made on paper,
between water and fire. . . . Since we have the
force, we have not to seek reasons, not more
than the English in taking South Africa."

Once brought within the fold of the Greater
Germany, there would be in Europe, aside from
the Balkans, eighty-seven millions, contributed by
Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, and the
Baltic provinces of Russia, originally of German
stock. That some of these populations have
ceased to speak German does not signify; it is
a matter of ethnic unity, the restoration of long-
lost brothers. That other races occupy these ter-
ritories also, sometimes exceeding in numbers the



94 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

German occupants, does not render this less neces-
sary. "If all the German tribes existed to-day,"
writes Tannenberg, "and had the force of the
Low Saxons, there would be neither Latins nor
Slavs. The frontiers of Europe would be the
frontiers of Germany in Europe."

But this scheme of Germanic expansion does
not end with the unification of the Teutonic race in
Europe. There would be other Germanics, all
definitely outlined and marked in colors : an Afri-
can Germany, stretching across the dark con-
tinent from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean; a
near Asiatic Germany, covering the whole of the
Ottoman Empire; a far Asiatic Germany, em-
bracing the greater part of China; an oceanic
Germany, including all the Dutch islands in the
Pacific; and even an American Germany, cover-
ing the whole of the southern half of South Amer-
ica. Such are the Teutonic ambitions and the
Teutonic plans of conquest as delineated upon
Tannenberg's future map of the world.

Wherever there are Germans, wherever Ger-
mans go, there the standard of the imperial eagle
should be set up. "We are eighty-seven millions
of representatives of German nationality on our



ECONOMIC IMPERIALISM 95

continent," runs this exhortation to universal
dominion. "Our country is the most populous,
the best organized. The new era is at hand. We
shall fight and we shall conquer. ... If in the
time of the great migrations a man of mental and
military strength had arisen to group the formid-
able, unnumbered, and innumerable mass of the
German people, to give it one will, one thought,
in politics or in religion, that admirable force,
perhaps the greatest that has ever existed, would
not have been dissipated by an insensate individ-
ualism. The movement would have united to
the force of Islam the German tenacity. . . . The
culture of Europe would, to-day, be purely Ger-
man, and with it the entire world."

How terrific this incorrigible spirit of tribalism
is can be realized only when we stop to reflect
what the culture of the time of the great migra-
tions was, and what this unchained brute force
and tenacity would have inflicted upon Europe,
if it had never been tempered and ameliorated
by the Latin influences that gave it the first sem-
blance to civilization.

"In the good old time," writes Tannenberg, "it
sometimes happened that a strong people attacked



96 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

a feeble one, exterminated it, and expelled it from
its patrimony. To-day these acts of violence are
no longer committed. To-day, everything goes
gently in this poor world, and the privileged are
for peace. The little peoples and the debris of
peoples have invented a new word, 'International
Right.' At bottom it is nothing but a calcula-
tion based upon our stupid generosity. . . .
Some one should make room; either the Slavs of
the West or the South, or ourselves! As we are
the strongest, the choice will not be difficult. . . .
A people can maintain itself only by growing. . . .
Greater Germany is possible only through a strug-
gle with Europe. Russia, France, and England
will oppose the foundation of Greater Germany.
Austria, powerless as she is, will not weigh much
in the balance. At all events, Germans will not
march against Germany."

The aim is not wanting in clear-sightedness.
Not everything can be accomplished at once. "A
customs union of Greater Germany," runs the
project, "with the countries of the Balkans and
the Danube would be in their interest as well as
ours. On the one side, Greater Germany, a world
power, a country industrial and commercial; on



ECONOMIC IMPERIALISM 97

the other, the Magyars, the Rumanians, the Serbs,
the Bulgars, the Albanians, the Greeks, peoples
exclusively agricultural. ... By that accord,
the commerce of the East, of Syria, and of Meso-
potamia would fall into our hands, . . . not only
a market for the products of industry of the
mother-country, but also a point d'appui and an
advance toward our expansion in the Far East
and in Africa."

Of course none of these aspirations is put forth
with official authority, but not being contradicted,
they appear to have a certain sanction. Certainly
they have never been disavowed by the Imperial
German Government. In part, at least, they have
very high confirmation. Prince von Billow, for
example, writes: "We have carefully cultivated
good relations with Turkey and Islam, especially
since the journey to the East undertaken by our
Emperor and Empress. These relations are not
of a sentimental nature, for the continued exist-
ence of Turkey serves our interest from the indus-
trial, military, and political points of view. In-
dustrially and financially, Turkey offered us a
rich and fertile field of activity . . . which we
have cultivated with profit"; and he concludes by



98 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

expressing the reliance of Germany upon Turkey
"in the event of a general European war," while
for Austria Turkey is described as "the most con-
venient neighbor possible." For Prince von
Billow, as he admits, Bismarck's opinion that Tur-
key and the Balkans were not worth the bones of
a single Pomeranian grenadier was no longer to
be entertained. It was, in fact, to the East that
his vision turned.

"No sensible man," he declares, "will ever en-
tertain the idea of recovering either national or
political influence over the lands in the South and
West which were lost so many centuries ago."
For these losses, he admits, "compensation has
been granted by Providence in the East."
"Those possessions," he concludes, "we must and
will retain." But Prince von Billow has never
been an advocate of a Little Germany. "Bis-
marck's successors," he declared in the Reichstag,
on November 14, 1906, "must not imitate, but
develop his policy. If the course of events de-
mands that we transcend the limits of Bismarck's
aims, then we must do so."

If there has, in fact, as German statesmen pro-
fess, been an "encirclement" of Germany, is it to



ECONOMIC IMPERIALISM 99

be wondered at, in view of the frank proclama-
tion of German plans of territorial expansion?


1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Online LibraryDavid Jayne HillThe rebuilding of Europe : a survey of forces and conditions → online text (page 5 of 15)