Eustace Percy Percy of Newcastle.

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never come as a revolt against reactionary rule.
The answer to reaction has been given many
times in history : it may be violent and bloody,
but it does not lead to the dissolution of the
ties of society ; it is content to vindicate indi-
vidual liberty and to open the way for new
voluntary forms of combination between free
men. The revolt of to-day is one directed,
not against the power of autocrats, but against
the bankruptcy of reformers. Nowhere is this
more true than in Russia, where the apostles
of the social revolution have been nauseated in
exile by what they regard as the hypocrisies
of Western democracy. It is no policy of
emancipation that is behind the movement but
a yearning for knowledge and law. The passion


of destruction which inspires the rebels is in
proportion to the earnestness with which the
seekers have waited for some transcendent
message of unity, of order, and of hope. Only
those who seek for the law " whose seat is in
the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of
the world," can be tempted by disappointment
to take up the cry of Zarathustra : " How weary
am I of my good and of my evil." Only in those
who know that man does not live by bread
alone does the desire arise to fall down and
worship any power that can promise them
the kingdoms of the world and the glory of
them for the vague purposes which they half

We have written mainly in terms of English
opinion, but what has been said is true in
varying degrees of every country in Europe,
and also of America, in so far as the New
World has been touched by the influences of the
Old. It is this that explains the universal
sympathy awakened by the allied cause in all
socialist and liberal circles in neutral coun-
tries. We have been proud of this, and many
might point to it to-day to disprove the strictures
passed on allied statesmen and thinkers. But,
in reality, it is this fact that constitutes Europe's
worst danger. The dissatisfaction of the seekers,
the revolt of the rebels, is as much against
Branting as against the Council of Four at
Paris. Nowhere is confusion of thought in
regard to the growing schism between nationalism
and social revolution more common than among
orthodox socialists. In the debate on the


draft treaty with Austria in the Parliament
at Vienna, on June 7th last, the leader of the
Social Democratic Union urged the entry of
Austria into the German Federation, " so that,
when the unity of the German proletariat
has been promptly re-established, the complete
unity of the German cadre of the international
revolutionary proletarian army may be estab-
lished by union with Germany/' No such
mixture of nationalism with the social revolution
is in the mind of the rebels, nor will it carry
conviction to the seekers. Over the whole
European and American field it is difficult to
sketch the transition from the seekers to the
rebels, nor is that transition yet completed.
It still lies within our power, within the power
of a League of Nations rightly conceived and
faithfully constructed, to arrest disillusionment
and to turn the aspirations of the seekers into
new channels. It is still within the power of
those other influences, of which we shall attempt
to speak at the close of this essay, to offer
satisfaction and fulfilment where governments
and leagues of governments can only preach
labour and patience. But in this task we
cannot put our trust in any of those political
formulae by which we succeeded in capturing
" democratic " feeling in all countries during the
war. We must realise that, in the later stages
of the war and in the making of peace, we lost
that leadership, not so much because we became
unfaithful to our professions, as because the
seekers came to recognise them as inadequate,
if not positively barren, To-day, in so far as


we are able to present our peace treaties and
our peace policy and even their harshest
features, including the reparation provisions,
are capable of being so presented to the judg-
ment of the world in terms of plain morality,
however primitive, however elementary, the
seekers will understand our language and respect
our motives ; but they have long ceased to under-
stand or respond to the phraseology of political

Probably the immediate dangers with which
national governments are contending at this
moment are only the first waves of the in-
undation. Strong government and united action
may suffice to dam them for the moment.
It has already been sufficiently proved that
adequate food supplies will check the move-
ment of revolt for a time, and many observers
have inferred that Bolshevism is but an inci-
dental disease caused by natural shortage and
the blockade. But the last two years in Russia
have revealed in practice what the diagnosis
in these pages would have led us to expect in
theory that there is in a half-accomplished
social revolution, however wild its policy may
seem, and however intolerable the conditions
of its rule, a vitality which is only too apt to
cheat the confident calculations of the orthodox.
The separate policy of national governments,
each within its own frontiers, however advanc'ed
and however enlightened, can never, taken
singly, extinguish or even damp the flame
that smoulders throughout Christendom. Mere
social reform, even though it were sponsored


by the League itself, can only postpone the
issue. If we do not want, in Mrs. Browning's
words, a " popular passion to arise and crush,"
we must create " a popular conscience which
may covenant for what it knows."


" Growing unto composition and agreement amongst
themselves. " Hooker.



" Since, therefore, our former oppressions and not -yet-
ended troubles have been occasioned either by want of
frequent . . . meetings in council, or by the undue or
unequal constitution thereof, or by rendering those meet-
ings ineffective, we are fully agreed and resolved, God
willing, to provide, that hereafter our Representatives
be neither left to an uncertainty for times nor be unequally
constituted, nor made useless to the ends for which they
are intended.' 1 The Agreement of the People, 1649.

THE last two chapters have been occupied by a
survey such as millions of men and women
have been making during the last few months.
The Treaty of Peace satisfies no one. Even
those who have neither special knowledge nor
a special axe to grind, who have no particular
charge to bring against the settlement and no
party end to gain by discrediting it, are vaguely
disappointed and disillusioned. We have seen
to what extent this instinct is justified. If
this was a war for national security and a stable
balance of power, it has failed, for it has im-
poverished Western Europe and disintegrated
Central and Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
If it was a war to make the world safe for
democracy, it has failed, for the old ideas of

193 N


constitutional democracy were never further
from satisfying the desires of the peoples. If,
finally, it was a war to end war, it has left the
future of the world more uncertain and more con-
tentious than at any period since the Reformation.
In the course of our survey we have, how-
ever, seen some reason to regard these tests of
success or failure as misleading. We need to
free ourselves from some of the easy assumptions
current during the war, and to revise our whole
conception of the times in which we live.
Especially, perhaps, the " Armageddon " idea
has vitiated our outlook. The eruption that
overwhelmed the old Europe five years ago
was not fortuitous, the sinister work of a few
junkers, emperors, soldiers, and diplomatists.
Our world was not, to any but the most superficial
eye, in " wantonness overthrown." Our civili-
sation must have suffered from deep-rooted
evils, must have been tainted by secret vices,
must in fundamental ways have been mis-
directed and wrong. Had we any right to
assume that we could round off this half-decade
into a separate era of time, or expect that the
labour and sufferings concentrated in it would
receive an immediate compensation, would
achieve an immediate and final transformation
in the destinies of the race ? What super-
stition prompted us to conjure up out of the
collapse of European civilisation the image of
a crowning victory for liberty and right ?
And has there not been an almost barbaric
flavour in many of the most emotional appeals
that have been made since 1914 to popular


enthusiasm and idealism ? Could any worse
wrong be done to those who have given their
lives for their country than to imagine that
the sins of civilisation can be expiated by a
heathen belief in the magic efficacy of blood ?
Our leaders and teachers have, perhaps, only
their own words to thank if critics complain
that the Peace Conference showed a spirit too
little worthy of the fallen ; but in such criticism
is there not a nightmare echo of savage clamour
against the medicine-man whose " sacrifices "
have failed to bring rain or good hunting ?
Could we expect more from the Conference at
Paris than the first faltering steps to relay the
foundations of a European order ; could we
expect that order to emerge from chaos strong,
complete, obviously just, and purged from all
taint of self-seeking ?

The plain truth is that the sacrifices of war
were only the first stage in an era of sacrifice.
War of itself accomplishes nothing. Lincoln
understood this fifty years ago when he offered
his hearers no comfortable assurance that the
dead of Gettysburg had not died in vain, but
bade them, instead, " highly resolve " that this
should not be so. There is no rest for the
generation that won the war : a vista of toil and
self-abnegation lies before it. The fruit of the
war lies not within the paper covers of the Peace
Treaty, but in the present life of the nations.
It is for us to develop that life. It will only
be after many years that we can look back and
judge whether a worthy monument has been
built to the fallen.


The Covenant of the League of Nations was
born of some such insight as this among a few of
the leaders at Paris. There were two alternatives
before them either to create a half-legalist,
half-militarist system of compulsory arbitration
and international police armament, or to per-
petuate, in new soil and so far as possible in a
new atmosphere, the natural growth of inter-
national co-operation and consultation as repre-
sented in the Paris Conference itself. The first
alternative was probably far the most popular
and the most widely advertised, but its rejection
was the greatest, perhaps the only great, stroke
of statesmanship achieved by British and
American influence at Paris. Such a scheme
would have been both a political blunder and a
moral crime. Politically it would have been arti-
ficial and rigid. The German draft constitution
of the League was cast in this mould, and a study
of it shows clearly that such a scheme could only
be worked out in practice at the cost of endless
interference in the domestic affairs of the mem-
bers of the League, and by the multiplication of
separate authorities, each responsible for some
different task of arbitration, mediation, concilia-
tion, or execution, and each working in its own
water-tight compartment without co-ordinating
centre or common life. The political experience
of all ages teaches that such machine-made
systems of government merely stop up the
safety-valves of life and progress ; they may
prevent war, but they provoke revolution. And,
morally, any such attempt would have but per-
petuated the delusions and superstitions which


perverted so much of our war propaganda. It
would have been a sham monument to a victory
not yet won, built to please those who demanded
a peace served to them ready-made. It was
not the business of the Conference to enshrine
perpetual peace in a temple of super-national
government ; it was their business to make the
new Europe, stumbling half formed out of the
ruins of a corrupt civilisation, with its novel
frontiers, its sudden fissures in the accustomed
life of the continent, its inherited animosities
and its burdens of poverty and debt, a work-
able system, a peaceable family of states, a
progressive society. Its dominant need was
cohesion, co-operation, reasonable deliberation,
and recognised opportunities for agreed action.
We are bound, indeed, to remember the deeper
needs and aspirations which clamour for satis-
faction, but while with David we pray for the
peace of Jerusalem, we can recognise with him,
if only as an elementary lesson in political
wisdom, that it is not for us yet to build a temple,
' exceeding magnifical," and that perhaps the
most we can do is to gather silver and gold and
shittim wood for the service of our sons. For
the moment at least the question for us is not
whether we can constitute the parliament of
man and the federation of the world, but
whether we can steer the nations of the
new Europe, with all their inexperience
and their youthful ambitions and rivalries,
through the shoals of jealousy and competi-
tion on which the old Europe, despite its
accumulated inheritance of political wisdom


and organising power, suffered so dismal a

The choice thus made has been often justified
by pointing out that the nations are not yet
ready for for any far-reaching delegation of their
sovereignty to an international council, that
Great Powers like Italy are still wedded to old
ideas of competitive statecraft, that small states
like Rumania still resent any interference with
the treatment they accord to national minorities
within their frontiers, and, above all, that the
peoples themselves are still far from ready to
confide their lives and interests to the keeping of
an international authority in which their own
government might have only a minority voice.
All this is true, but it is not so often realised
that any highly-developed international system,
with a carefully elaborated constitution, would,
if established at this moment, collide with
< radical aspirations no less violently than with
j conservative prejudices. An international par-
/ liament could only be set up by stretching still
further the already overstrained principle of
' representative " democracy. An international
judiciary could only increase the supremacy of
" judge-made law " against which popular revolt
has long been growing, especially in America.
We have indeed been witnessing recently the
curious spectacle of extreme radicalism demand-
ing the full and complete translation to the
international sphere of constitutional principles
already half discredited with advanced thought
in the sphere of national government. Caution
counsels us not to shock conservative sentiment


by doing violence to national sovereignty and
national patriotism ; but wisdom demands even
more urgently that we should not block the pro-
gress of the future with the battered and
crumbling institutions of the past.

The first step in the salvation of the new
Europe lay perforce in accustoming the nations
to co-operation in fields where the need for joint
action is already recognised. " International
co-operation " was designedly put first in the
preamble of the Covenant as the principal pur-
pose of the League. The policy of joint re-
sponsibilities had already gained wide currency
in the quarter of a century preceding the war,
but for two reasons it had failed hitherto to be
recognised as the central fact in international
relations. In the first place, the very factors
which made that policy necessary made it
difficult to realise it in practice. Ever since
the industrial revolution, two divergent ten-
dencies had been visible in the family of nations.
On the one hand nations had become to an
enormous extent economically interdependent.
On the other hand new economic problems had
forced each government to enlarge its sphere of
control over national life, and had thus intensi-
fied the self-consciousness and independence of
each separate state. Divergent industrial and
social legislation thus created, on the one hand,
a growing need for new international adjust-
ments, for a common clearing house of non-
contentious business ; while, on the other hand,
such legislation tended constantly to outstrip
the working of any such clearing house. The


Social Democratic parties, with all their desire for
international action, were continually pressing
for national legislation, which tended to make
such action more difficult. They could only work
out their theories in immediate practice through
the instrumentality of the national state, and
every step in the direction of national socialism
strengthened the tendency towards international
individualism. In the second place the nations
had no sufficient regular machinery for doing
business with each other. They might reach
agreements, but, broadly speaking, the only
means they had for carrying them out was an
old diplomatic system dating back in its origin
to the sixteenth century, to the new develop-
ments in international relations following on
the Reformation. This point is of extraordinary
importance, and requires to be examined at
some length.

Diplomacy is the method of adjusting rela-
tions between political communities acting, and
desiring to act, independently of each other.
Between such communities there is no bond of
duty or recognised obligation. In Christendom
the rules of morality and fair dealing have
indeed always applied to diplomatic relations
in a far greater degree than is popularly sup-
posed. International diplomacy has never
meant moral anarchy, but in the days when the
diplomatic system grew up there was a complete
absence of law or continuity in the intercourse
between states. Even treaties were rare, and
were concluded only for the purpose of dealing
with temporary emergencies. The whole work


of diplomacy consisted in watching the develop-
ment of foreign states, maintaining friendly
relations with their rulers, and steering their
policy by conversations, appeals to reason and
self-interest, cajolery, threats or bargains of
mutual advantage. By the end of the eighteenth
century this loose system of relations was already
hardening on clearer and more definite lines,
and the nineteenth century has enormously
accentuated this process. International inter-
course has now become almost as much a matter
of business administration as the relations
between municipalities or commercial firms.
Yet, in spite of this, the old diplomatic machinery
has remained almost unchanged. It was regu-
lated and endowed with a sort of red-tape
recognition by the Congress of Vienna, which
lifted it out of the free-lance stage of develop-
ment into a more stable and recognised posi-
tion as the universal medium of international
intercourse. The telegraph modified its work
considerably. The creation in democratic states
of civil service systems and in autocratic states
of more highly specialised bureaucracies greatly
improved its efficiency, until, at the beginning
of the twentieth century, it was perhaps pro-
gressing towards something like the same stan-
dard as other government services. But in its
essence it remained unchanged. Its mere
mechanical defects were enormous. Diplomatic
staffs were small; they were still the " official
family " of the ambassador rather than his
business organisation ; clerical assistance, office
accommodation and libraries of reference were


alike lacking. But to these mechanical defects
were added a traditional atmosphere of etiquette
which, even in supposedly " democratic" coun-
tries such as the United States, introduced the
maximum of difficulty and artificiality into
international relations. It was not, as is often
supposed, that social etiquette forced diplo-
matists to waste their time at Court functions*
it was rather that official tradition put the
diplomatist in the position of an honoured guest
who must not appear too interested in his host's
family life or business activities. He had no
regular and recognised means of access to proper
sources of information ; for him to ucclare him-
self frankly an investigator of the burning
questions of the day was to invite suspicion and
friction ; he was driven to gather his facts
piecemeal in the highways and by-ways of inter-
national life. Indeed, nothing could have served
better to obscure the true nature of international
relations and to throw obstacles in the way of
the solution of international problems than the
accepted rule that diplomatists must take no
part in the internal affairs of the country in
which they resided. Foreign policy is only the
sum and product of the internal conditions of
each country, and no one unacquainted with those
conditions or debarred by his professional status
from investigating them closely can be in any
sense an expert on foreign policy. There have
indeed been ambassadors who have occupied a
great position in international affairs, but they
have done so by disregarding this diplomatic
canon, by being the intimate friends of public men


of all parties, and by exerting a friendly influence
on the tendencies of their domestic policy. They
were exceptional, for only men of powerful
personality were able thus to disregard the law
of their profession.

On diplomatic services thus ill-equipped for
the requirements of modern business were
thrown, moreover, additional duties and respon-
sibilities in the original sphere of diplomacy
proper. In the earlier days of diplomacy,
the days, for the most part, of almost autocratic
rulers and old-fashioned statecraft, diplomatists
had played, in the last resort, a subordinate part
in the most important matters of " high policy."
It was not through ambassadors, but through
personal meetings of heads of States, that
Frederick the Great arranged the partition of
Poland. It was not through ambassadors that
Europe was settled at Vienna in 1815, at Paris
in 1856, and at Berlin in 1878. It was not
through ambassadors that Napoleon III dealt
with Cavour at Plombieres. So far, indeed,
from being connected with any outworn tradition
of autocracy, the importance assumed by diplo-
matic machinery in the years immediately
before the outbreak of the Great War was prob-
ably due in large measure to the development
of democracies on the English model of cabinet
government and to the inclusion in the family
of nations of remote states like Japan. Political
responsibility thus tended to be less concentrated
in one or two commanding personalities in each
country, and it became impossible to gather
the representatives of all civilised States for


personal meetings. Thus, between 1878 and
1914, Europe sank more and more into the
habit of dealing with the vastest and most
urgent questions of international relations
through permanent representatives at foreign
capitals, necessarily unacquainted either with
the full mind of their governments at home or
with the full scope of the problem with which
they were dealing. There were of course some
exceptions to this rule, not always of very happy
augury, such as King Edward's visits to France
and Germany, Lord Haldane's mission to Berlin,
and M. Isvolsky's conversations at Paris and
London in 1908. But when Europe met in
conference to settle the burning problem of
Morocco at Algeciras it did so in the persons of
diplomatists, and it was not until the upheaval
of the Balkan wars that the responsible states-
men of the nations themselves were convened in
London in a last attempt to safeguard the peace
of the world.

But meanwhile, as we have already seen,
these matters of high policy this sphere
of international intercourse in which nations
preserved and desired to preserve their full
freedom of action was becoming in an ever-
greater degree merely one department of the
world's business. A complicated treaty system
had grown up, limiting the individual freedom
of action of nations at all points, and there
was constant pressure to expand this system.

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Online LibraryEustace Percy Percy of NewcastleThe responsibilites of the League → online text (page 12 of 20)