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In examining German progress, I do not find as many examples
of supreme individual efficiency or independent spirit as I find
in the democratic nations. The steam engine, the factory system,
telegraph, telephone, wireless, electric light, the gasoline engine,
aeroplane, machine gun, the submarine, uses of rubber, dread-
naught, the mighty names of Lister and Pasteur, come out of
the democratic nations. The distinctive German genius is for
administration and adaptation, rather than for independent
creation. His civil service is the finest in the world. He knows
what he wants. He decides what training is necessary to get



CHANGES AND ADJUSTMENTS 337

that result. He universalizes that training. He enforces obe-
dience to its discipline. A. man must have skill; he must obey;
he must work; he must cooperate. The freer nations desire the
same results, but neglect to enforce their realization. Their
theory of government forces them to plead for its attainment.
Certain classes and individuals heed this persuasion, and in an
atmosphere of precious freedom great personalities spring into
being. In the conflict between achievement based on subjection
and splendid obedience, and that based on political freedom,
my belief is that the system of political and social freedom will
triumphantly endure. In essence, it is the conflict between the
efficiency of adaptation and organization and the efficiency of
invention and creation. What autocracy needs is the thrill and
push of individual liberty, and the continental peasant will get
it as the result of this war, for the guns of autocracy are cele-
brating the downfall of autocracy, even in its most ancient fast-
ness Russia. These autocracies will realize their real greatness
when they substitute humility for pride, freedom for accomplish-
ment, as compelling national motives. What democracy needs
is the discipline of patient labor, of trained skill, of thoroughness
in work, and a more socialized conception of public duty. As
President Eliot has pointed out, the German theory of social
organization is very young, and her literature, philosophy, and
art are fairly new. It is a bit premature to concede the supreme
validity of her Kultur and of her political organization until she
can point to such names as Dante and Angelo, Shakspere and
Milton, Newton and Darwin and Pasteur, and until such names
appear in her political history as Washington and Jefferson and
Burke. This is not meant to deny the surpassing greatness of
her music and her philosophy, nor to minimize the glory of her
Goethes or Schillers or Lessings or Steins, but to suggest that
she has not yet reached the superlative. It is not yet quite sure
that with all their genius for organization and efficiency, they
may not be self-directed to ruin. Certainly the German has as
much to learn from the freer nations as we have to learn from
the Teutonic genius. Switzerland has organized her democracy
and kept her personal liberty, and there is no finer spectacle on
v



338 NATIONAL IDEALS AND PROBLEMS

earth today than the spectacle of France, seed-sowing, torch-
bearing France; France, that has touched the heights and sounded
the depths of human experience and national tragedy; "La
belle France," that has substituted duty for glory as a national
motive, and has kept her soul free in the valley of humiliation;
grim, patient, silent, far-seeing France, clinging to her republican
ideals and reorganizing her life from hovel to palace in the very
impact of conflict and death, so that it is enabled to present to
the world the finest example of organized efficiency and military
glory that the world has seen in some generations. In order to
organize an autocracy, the rulers ordain that it shall get in order
and provide the means to bring about that end. To organize a
democracy, we must organize its soul, and give it power to
create its own ideals. It is primarily a peace organization, and
that is proof that it is the forward movement of the human soul
and not the movement of scientific reaction. It is through a
severe mental training in our schools and a return to the concep-
tion of public duty which guided the sword and uplifted the
heart of the Founder of the Republic that we shall find strength
to organize the democracy of the future, revolutionized by
science and by urban life. The right to vote implies the duty to
vote right; the right to legislate, the duty to legislate justly; the
right to judge about foreign policy, the duty to fight if necessary;
the right to come to college, the duty to carry one's self hand-
somely at college. Our youth must be taught to use their senses,
to reason simply and correctly, from exact knowledge thus
brought to them to attain to sincerity in thought and judgment
through work and patience. In our home and civic life, we need
some moral equivalent for the training which somehow issues out
of war the glory of self-sacrifice, obedience to just authority,
contempt of ease, and a realization that through thoughtful,
collective effort great results will be obtained. A great spiritual
glory will come to these European nations through their sorrow
and striving, which will express itself in great poems and great
literature. They are preparing new shrines at which mankind
will worship. Let us take care that prosperity be not our sole
national endowment. War asks of men self-denials and sacrifice



CHANGES AND ADJUSTMENTS 339

for ideals. Peace must somehow do the same. Autocracy orders
men to forget self for an over-self called the state. Democracy
must inspire men to forget self for a still higher thing called
humanity.

There stands upon the steps of the Sub-Treasury building, in
Wall Street, the bronze figure of an old Virginia country gentle-
man looking out with his honest eyes upon the sea of hurrying,
gain-getting men. This statue is a remarkable allegory, for in
his grave, thoughtful person, Washington embodies that form
of public spirit, that balance of character, that union of force
and justice that redefines democracy. Out of his lips seems to
issue the great creed which is the core of democratic society, and
around which this finer organization shall be solidly built.
Power rests on fitness to rule. Fitness to rule rests on trained
minds and spirits. You can trust men if you will train them. The
object of power is the public good. The ultimate judgment of
mankind in the mass is a fairly good judgment



IN ARMS FOR DEMOCRACY



THE WORLD CONFLICT IN ITS RELATION TO
AMERICAN DEMOCRACY 1

WALTER LIPPMANN

[Walter Lippmann (1889 ) was born in New York City. He was

graduated from Harvard in 1910, and for a time was assistant in philosophy
in that institution. Later he formed editorial connections in New York,
writing much for the periodical press. He is the author of several books
dealing with politics and kindred subjects. The article here reprinted, which
gives a comprehensive review of the conditions leading to America's entering
the world war, was originally read before a meeting of the American Academy
of Political and Social Science, in the summer of 1917, shortly after this
step had been taken.]



The way in which President Wilson directed America's
entrance into the war has had a mighty effect on the public
opinion of the world. Many of those who are disappointed or
pleased say they are surprised. They would not be surprised
had they made it their business this last year to understand the
policy of their government.

In May, 1916, the President made a speech which will be
counted among the two or three decisive utterances of American
foreign policy. The Sussex pledge had just been extracted from
the German government, and on the surface American neutrality
seemed assured. The speech was an announcement that Ameri-
can isolation was ended, and that we were prepared to join a
League of Peace. This was the foundation of all that followed,
and it was intended to make clear to the world that America
would not abandon its traditional policy for imperialistic adven-

JFrom Annals of the American Academy of Social and Political Science, vol. Ixxii,
p. i (July, 1917.)

340



72V ARMS FOR DEMOCRACY 341

ture, that if America had to fight it would fight for the peace and
order of the world. It was a great portent in human history,
but it was overshadowed at the time by the opening of the
presidential campaign.

Through the summer the President insisted again and again
that the time had come when America must assume its share of
responsbility for a better organization of mankind. In the early
autumn very startling news came from Germany. It was most
confusing because it promised peace maneuvers, hinted at a
separate arrangement with the Russian court party, and at the
resumption of unlimited submarine warfare. The months from
November to February were to tell the story. Never was the
situation more perplexing. The prestige of the Allies was at low
ebb, there was treachery in Russia, and, as Mr. Lansing said,
America was on the verge of war. We were not only on the verge
of war, but on the verge of a bewildering war which would not
command the whole-hearted support of the American people.

With the election past, and a continuity of administration
assured, it became President Wilson's task to make some bold
move which would clarify the muddle. While he was preparing
this move, the German chancellor made his high-handed pro-
posal for a blind conference. That it would be rejected was obvi-
ous. That the rejection would be followed by the submarine war
was certain. The danger was that America would be drawn into
the war at the moment when Germany appeared to be offering
the peace for which the bulk of American people hoped. We know
now that the peace Germany was prepared to make last Decem-
ber was the peace of a conqueror. But at the time Germany could
pose as a nation which had been denied a chance to end the war.
It was necessary, therefore, to test the sincerity of Germany
by asking publicly for a statement of terms. The President's
circular note to the powers was issued. This note stated more
precisely than ever before that America was ready to help
guarantee the peace, and at the same time it gave all the bellig-
erents a chance to show that they were fighting for terms which
could be justified to American opinion. The note was very
much misunderstood at first because the President had said



342 NATIONAL IDEALS AND PROBLEMS

that, since both sides claimed to be fighting for the same thing,
neither could well refuse to define the terms. The misunder-
standing soon passed away when the replies came. Germany
brushed the President aside, and showed that she wanted a
peace by intrigue. The Alh'es produced a document which con-
tained a number of formulas so cleverly worded that they might
be stretched to cover the wildest demands of the extremists or
contracted to a moderate and just settlement. Above all, the
Allies assented to the League of Peace which Germany had dis-
missed as irrelevant.

The war was certain to go on with America drawn in. On
January 22, after submarine warfare had been decided upon but
before it had been proclaimed, the President made his address
to the Senate. It was an international program for democracy.
It was also a last appeal to German liberals to avert a catastro-
phe. They did not avert it, and on February i, Germany attacked
the whole neutral world. That America would not submit was
assured. The question that remained to be decided was the
extent of our participation in the war. Should it be merely de-
fensive on the high seas, or should it be a separate war? The real
source of confusion was the treacherous and despotic Russian
government. By no twist of language could a partnership with
that government be made consistent with the principles laid
down by the President in his address to the Senate.

The Russian Revolution ended that perplexity and we could
enter the war with a clear conscience and a whole heart. When
Russia became a republic and the American republic became an
enemy, the German empire was isolated before mankind as the
final refuge of autocracy. The principle of its life is destructive
of the peace of the world. How destructive that principle is,
the everwidening circle of the war has disclosed.

n

Our task is to define that danger so that our immense sacrifices
shah 1 serve to end it. I cannot do that for myself without turning
to the origins of the war in order to trace the logical steps by



IN ARMS FOR DEMOCRACY 343

which the pursuit of a German victory has enlisted the enmity
of the world.

We read statements by Germans that there was a conspiracy
against their national development, that they found themselves
encircled by enemies, that Russia, using Serbia as an instrument,
was trying to destroy Austria, and that the Entente had already
detached Italy. Supposing that all this were true, it would remain
an extraordinary thing that the Entente had succeeded in en-
circling Germany. Had that empire been a good neighbor in
Europe, by what miracle could the old hostility between England
and France and Russia have been wiped out so quickly? But
there is positive evidence that no such conspiracy existed.

Germany's place in the sun is Asia Minor. By the Anglo-
German agreement of June, 1914, recently published, a satis-
factory arrangement had been reached about the economic
exploitation of the Turkish empire. Professor Rohrbach has
acknowledged that Germany was given concessions "which
exceeded all expectations," and on December 2, 1914, when the
war was five months old, von Bethmann-Hollweg declared in
the Reichstag that "this understanding was to lessen every
possible political friction." The place hi the sun had been secured
by negotiation.

But the road to that place lay through Austria-Hungary and
the Balkans. It was this highway which Germany determined to
control absolutely; and the chief obstacle on that highway was
Serbia backed by Russia. Into the complexities of that Balkan
intrigue I am not competent to enter. We need, however, do no
more than follow Lord Grey in the belief that Austria had a
genuine grievance against Serbia, a far greater one certainly
than the United States has ever had against Mexico. But
Britain had no stake in the Austro-Serbian quarrel itself.

It had an interest in the method which the central powers took
of settling the quarrel. When Germany declared that Europe
could not be consulted, that Austria must be allowed to crush
Serbia without reference to the concert of Europe, Germany pro-
claimed herself an enemy of international order. She preferred a
war which involved all of Europe to any admission of the fact



344 NATIONAL IDEALS AND PROBLEMS

that a cooperative Europe existed. It was an assertion of un-
limited national sovereignty which Europe could not tolerate.

This brought Russia and France into the field. Instantly
Germany acted on the same doctrine of unlimited national
sovereignty by striking at France through Belgium. Had
Belgium been merely a small neutral nation the crime would
still have been one of the worst in the history of the modern
world. The fact that Belgium was an internationalized state
has made the invasion the master tragedy of the war. For
Belgium represented what progress the world had made towards
cooperation. If it could not survive then no internationalism
was possible. That is why through these years of horror upon
horror, the Belgian horror is the fiercest of all. The burning, the
shooting, the starving, and the robbing of small and inoffensive
nations is tragic enough. But the German crime in Belgium is
greater than the sum of Belgium's misery. It is a crime
against the bases of faith at which the world must build or
perish.

The invasion of Belgium instantly brought the five British
democracies into the war. I think this is the accurate way to
state the fact. Had the war remained a Balkan war with France
engaged merely because of her treaty with Russia, had the
fighting been confined to the Franco-German frontier, the British
empire might have come into the war to save the balance of
power and to fulfil the naval agreements with France but the
conflict would probably never have become a people's war in
all the free nations of the empire. Whatever justice there may
have been in Austria's original quarrel with Serbia and Russia
was overwhelmed by the exhibition of national lawlessness in
Belgium.

This led to the third great phase of the war, the phase which
concerned America most immediately. The Allies directed by
Great Britain employed sea power to the utmost. They barred
every road to Germany, and undoubtedly violated many com-
mercial rights of neutrals. What America would do about this
became of decisive importance. It if chose to uphold the rights
it claimed, it would aid Germany and cripple the Allies. If



IN ARMS FOR DEMOCRACY 345

it refused to do more than negotiate with the Allies, it had, what-
ever the technicalities of the case might be, thrown its great
weight against Germany. It had earned the enmity of the Ger-
man government, an enmity which broke out into intrigue and
conspiracy on American soil. Somewhere in the winter of 1915,
America was forced to choose between a policy which helped
Germany and one which helped the Allies. We were confronted
with a situation in which we had to choose between opening a
road to Germany and making an enemy of Germany. With the
proclamation of submarine warfare in 1915 we were told that
either we must aid Germany by crippling sea power or be treated
as a hostile nation. The German policy was very simple:
British mastery of the seas must be broken. It could be broken
by an American attack from the rear or by the German sub-
marine. If America refused to attack from the rear, America
was to be counted as an enemy. It was a case of he who is not for
me is against me.

To such an alternative there was but one answer for a free
people to make. To become the ally of the conqueror of Belgium
against France and the British democracies was utterly out of
the question. Our choice was made and the supreme question of
American policy became: how far will Germany carry the war
against us and how hard shall we strike back? That we were
aligned on the side of Germany's enemies no candid man, I
think, can deny. The effect of this alignment was to make sea
power absolute. For mastery of the seas is no longer the posses-
sion of any one nation. The supremacy of the British navy hi
this war rests on international consent, on the consent of her
allies and of the neutrals. Without that consent the blockade of
Germany could not exist, and the decision of America not to
resist allied sea power was the final blow which cut off Germany
from the world. It happened gradually, without spectacular
announcement, but history, I think, will call it one of the deci-
sive events of the war.

The effect was to deny Germany access to the resources of
the neutral world, and to open these resources to the Allies.
Poetic justice never devised a more perfect retribution. The



346 NATIONAL IDEALS AND PROBLEMS

nation which had struck down a neutral to gain a military ad-
vantage found the neutral world a partner of its enemies.

That partnership between the neutral world and Germany's
enemies rested on merchant shipping. This suggested a new
theory of warfare to the German government. It decided that
since every ship afloat fed the resources of its enemies, it might
be a good idea to sink every ship afloat. It decided that since all
the highways of the world were the communications of the
Allies, those communications should be cut. It decided that if
enough ships were destroyed, it didn't matter what ships or
whose ships, England and France would have to surrender and
make a peace on the basis of Germany's victories in Europe.

Therefore, on the 3ist of January, 1917, Germany abolished
neutrality in the world. The policy which began by denying that
a quarrel in the Balkans could be referred to Europe, went on to
destroy the internationalized state of Belgium, culminated in in-
discriminate attack upon the merchant shipping of all nations.
The doctrine of exclusive nationalism had moved through these
three dramatic phases until those who held it were at war with
mankind,

m

The terrible logic of Germany's policy had a stupendous
result. By striking at the bases of all international order, Ger-
many convinced even the most isolated of neutrals that order
must be preserved by common effort. By denying that a society
of nations exists, a society of nations has been forced into exis-
tence. The very thing Germany challenged Germany has estab-
lished. Before 1914 only a handful of visionaries dared to hope
for some kind of federation. The orthodox view was that each
nation had a destiny of its own, spheres of influence of its own,
and that it was somehow beneath the dignity of a great state to
discuss its so-called vital interests with other governments. It
was a world almost without common aspiration, with few effec-
tive common ideals. Europe was split into shifting alliances,
democracies and autocracies jumbled together. America lay
apart with a budding imperialism of its own China was marked



IN ARMS FOR DEMOCRACY 347

as the helpless victim of exploitation. That old political system
was one in which the German view was by no means altogether
disreputable. Internationalism was half-hearted and generally
regarded somewhat cynically.

What Germany did was to demonstrate ad nauseam the doc-
trine of competitive nationalism. Other nations had applied it
here and there cautiously and timidly. No other nation in our
time had ever applied it with absolute logic, with absolute
preparation, and with absolute disregard of the consequences.
Other nations nad dallied with it, compromised about it, muddled
along with it. But Germany followed through, and Germany
taught the world just where the doctrine leads.

Out of the necessities of defense men against it have gradually
formulated the ideals of a cooperative nationalism. From all
parts of the world there has been a movement of ideals working
slowly towards one end, towards a higher degree of spiritual
unanimity than has ever been known before. China and India
have been stirred out of their dependence. The American
republic has abandoned its isolation. Russia has become some-
thing like a republic. The British empire is moving towards
closer federation. The Grand Alliance called into existence by
the German aggression is now something more than a military
coalition. Common ideals are working through it ideals of
local autonomy and joint action. Men are crying that they must
be free and that they must be united. They have learned that
they cannot be free unless they cooperate, that they cannot
cooperate unless they are free.

I do net wish to underestimate the forces of reaction in our
country or in the other nations of the Alliance. There are politi-
cians and commercial groups who see in this whole thing nothing
but opportunity to secure concessions, manipulate tariffs and
extend the bureaucracies. We shall know how to deal with them.
Forces have been let loose which they can no longer control, and
out of this immense horror ideas have arisen to possess men's
souls. There are times when a prudent statesman must build on a
contracted view of human nature. But there are times when new
sources of energy are tapped, when the impossible becomes



348 NATIONAL IDEALS AND PROBLEMS

possible, when events outrun our calculations. This may be such
a time. The Alliance to which we belong has suddenly grown hot
with the new democracy of Russia and the new internationalism
of America. It has had an access of spiritual force which opens
a new prospect in the policies of the world. We can dare to
hope for things which we never dared to hope for in the past.
In fact if those forces are not to grow cold and frittered they
must be turned to a great end and offered a great hope.

IV

That great end and that great hope is nothing less than the
Federation of the World. I know it sounds a little old-fashioned
to use that phrase because we have abused it so long in empty
rhetoric. But no other idea is big enough to describe the alliance.
It is no longer an offensive-defensive military agreement among
diplomats. That is how it started, to be sure. But it has grown,
and is growing, into a union of peoples determined to end forever
that intriguing, adventurous nationalism which has torn the
world for three centuries. Good democrats have always believed



Online LibraryMaurice G. (Maurice Garland) FultonNational ideals and problems; essays for college English → online text (page 32 of 39)