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War and the Future by H. G. Wells

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The spectacular side of the war is really an enormous distraction
from thought. And against thought there also fights the native
indolence of the human mind. The human mind, it seems, was
originally developed to think about the individual; it thinks
reluctantly about the species. It takes refuge from that sort of
thing if it possibly can. And so the second great preventive of
clear thinking is the tranquillising platitude.

The human mind is an instrument very easily fatigued. Only a few
exceptions go on thinking restlessly--to the extreme exasperation
of their neighbours. The normal mind craves for decisions, even
wrong or false decisions rather than none. It clutches at
comforting falsehoods. It loves to be told, "/There/, don't
you worry. That'll be all right. That's /settled./" This
war has come as an almost overwhelming challenge to mankind. To
some of us it seems as it if were the Sphynx proffering the
alternative of its riddle or death. Yet the very urgency of this
challenge to think seems to paralyse the critical intelligence of
very many people altogether. They will say, "This war is going
to produce enormous changes in everything." They will then
subside mentally with a feeling of having covered the whole
ground in a thoroughly safe manner. Or they will adopt an air of
critical aloofness. They will say, "How is it possible to
foretell what may happen in this tremendous sea of change?" And
then, with an air of superior modesty, they will go on doing--
whatever they feel inclined to do. Many others, a degree less
simple in their methods, will take some entirely partial aspect,
arrive at some guesswork decision upon that, and then behave as
though that met every question we have to face. Or they will
make a sort of admonitory forecast that is conditional upon the
good behaviour of other people. "Unless the Trade Unions are
more reasonable," they will say. Or, "Unless the shipping
interest is grappled with and controlled." Or, "Unless England
wakes up." And with that they seem to wash their hands of further
responsibility for the future.

One delightful form of put-off is the sage remark, "Let us finish
the war first, and then let us ask what is going to happen after
it." One likes to think of the beautiful blank day after the
signing of the peace when these wise minds swing round to pick up
their deferred problems....

I submit that a man has not done his duty by himself as a
rational creature unless he has formed an idea of what is going
on, as one complicated process, until he has formed an idea
sufficiently definite for him to make it the basis of a further
idea, which is his own relationship to that process. He must
have some notion of what the process is going to do to him, and
some notion of what he means to do, if he can, to the process.
That is to say, he must not only have an idea how the process is
going, but also an idea of how he wants it to go. It seems so
natural and necessary for a human brain to do this that it is
hard to suppose that everyone has not more or less attempted it.
But few people, in Great Britain at any rate, have the habit of
frank expression, and when people do not seem to have made out
any of these things for themselves there is a considerable
element of secretiveness and inexpressiveness to be allowed for
before we decide that they have not in some sort of fashion done
so. Still, after all allowances have been made, there remains a
vast amount of jerry-built and ready-made borrowed stuff in most
of people's philosophies of the war. The systems of authentic
opinion in this world of thought about the war are like
comparatively rare thin veins of living mentality in a vast world
of dead repetitions and echoed suggestions. And that being the
case, it is quite possible that history after the war, like
history before the war, will not be so much a display of human
will and purpose as a resultant of human vacillations,
obstructions, and inadvertences. We shall still be in a drama of
blind forces following the line of least resistance.

One of the people who is often spoken of as if he were doing an
enormous amount of concentrated thinking is "the man in the
trenches." We are told--by gentlemen writing for the most part at
home--of the most extraordinary things that are going on in those
devoted brains, how they are getting new views about the duties
of labour, religion, morality, monarchy, and any other notions
that the gentleman at home happens to fancy and wished to push.
Now that is not at all the impression of the khaki mentality I
have reluctantly accepted as correct. For the most part the man
in khaki is up against a round of tedious immediate duties that
forbid consecutive thought; he is usually rather crowded and not
very comfortable. He is bored.

The real horror of modern war, when all is said and done, is the
boredom. To get killed our wounded may be unpleasant, but it is
at any rate interesting; the real tragedy is in the desolated
fields, the desolated houses, the desolated hours and days, the
bored and desolated minds that hang behind the melee
and just outside the melee. The peculiar
beastliness of the German crime is the way the German war cant
and its consequences have seized upon and paralysed the mental
movement of Western Europe. Before 1914 war was theoretically
unpopular in every European country; we thought of it as
something tragic and dreadful. Now everyone knows by experience
that it is something utterly dirty and detestable. We thought it
was the Nemean lion, and we have found it is the Augean stable.
But being bored by war and hating war is quite unproductive
/unless you are thinking about its nature and causes so
thoroughly that you will presently be able to take hold of it and
control it and end it./ It is no good for everyone to say
unanimously, "We will have no more war," unless you have thought
out how to avoid it, and mean to bring that end about. It is as
if everyone said, "We will have no more catarrh," or "no more
flies," or "no more east wind." And my point is that the immense
sorrows at home in every European country and the vast boredom of
the combatants are probably not really producing any effective
remedial mental action at all, and will not do so unless we get
much more thoroughly to work upon the thinking-out process.

In such talks as I could get with men close up to the front I
found beyond this great boredom and attempts at distraction only
very specialised talk about changes in the future. Men were keen
upon questions of army promotion, of the future of conscription,
of the future of the temporary officer, upon the education of
boys in relation to army needs. But the war itself was bearing
them all upon its way, as unquestioned and uncontrolled as if it
were the planet on which they lived.


Among the minor topics that people are talking about behind the
western fronts is the psychology of the Yielding Pacifist and the
Conscientious Objector. Of course, we are all pacifists
nowadays; I know of no one who does not want not only to end this
war but to put an end to war altogether, except those blood-red
terrors Count Reventlow, Mr. Leo Maxse--how he does it on a
vegetarian dietary I cannot imagine!--and our wild-eyed
desperados of /The Morning Post./ But most of the people I
meet, and most of the people I met on my journey, are pacifists
like myself who want to /make/ peace by beating the armed
man until he gives in and admits the error of his ways, disarming
him and reorganising the world for the forcible suppression of
military adventures in the future. They want belligerency put
into the same category as burglary, as a matter of forcible
suppression. The Yielding Pacifist who will accept any sort of
peace, and the Conscientious Objector who will not fight at all,
are not of that opinion.

Both Italy and France produce parallel types to those latter, but
it would seem that in each case England displays the finer
developments. The Latin mind is directer than the English, and
its standards--shall I say?--more primitive; it gets more
directly to the fact that here are men who will not fight. And
it is less charitable. I was asked quite a number of times for
the English equivalent of an /embusque./ "We don't
generalise," I said, "we treat each case on its merits!"

One interlocutor near Udine was exercised by our Italian Red
Cross work.

"Here," he said, "are sixty or seventy young Englishmen, all fit
for military service.... Of course they go under fire, but it is
not like being junior officers in the trenches. Not one of them
has been killed or wounded."

He reflected. "One, I think, has been decorated," he said....

My French and Italian are only for very rough common jobs; when
it came to explaining the Conscientious Objector sympathetically
they broke down badly. I had to construct long parenthetical
explanations of our antiquated legislative methods to show how it
was that the "conscientious objector" had been so badly defined.
The foreigner does not understand the importance of vague
definition in British life. "Practically, of course, we offered
to exempt anyone who conscientiously objected to fight or serve.
Then the Pacifist and German people started a campaign to enrol
objectors. Of course every shirker, every coward and slacker in
the country decided at once to be a conscientious objector.
Anyone but a British legislator could have foreseen that. Then
we started Tribunals to wrangle with the objectors about their
/bona fides./ Then the Pacifists and the Pro-Germans issued
little leaflets and started correspondence courses to teach
people exactly how to lie to the Tribunals. Trouble about
freedom of the pamphleteer followed. I had to admit--it has been
rather a sloppy business. "The people who made the law knew
their own minds, but we English are not an expressive people."

These are not easy things to say in Elementary (and slightly
Decayed) French or in Elementary and Corrupt Italian.

"But why do people support the sham conscientious objector and
issue leaflets to help him--when there is so much big work
clamouring to be done?"

"That," I said, "is the Whig tradition."

When they pressed me further, I said: "I am really the
questioner. I am visiting /your/ country, and you have to
tell /me/ things. It is not right that I should do all the
telling. Tell me all about Romain Rolland."

And so I pressed them about the official socialists in Italy and
the Socialist minority in France until I got the question out of
the net of national comparisons and upon a broader footing. In
several conversations we began to work out in general terms the
psychology of those people who were against the war. But usually
we could not get to that; my interlocutors would insist upon
telling me just what they would like to do or just what they
would like to see done to stop-the-war pacifists and
conscientious objectors; pleasant rather than fruitful
imaginative exercises from which I could effect no more than
platitudinous uplifts.

But the general drift of such talks as did seem to penetrate the
question was this, that among these stop-the-war people there are
really three types. First there is a type of person who hates
violence and the infliction of pain under any circumstances, and
who have a mystical belief in the rightness (and usually the
efficacy) of non-resistance. These are generally Christians, and
then their cardinal text is the instruction to "turn the other
cheek." Often they are Quakers. If they are consistent they are
vegetarians and wear /Lederlos/ boots. They do not desire
police protection for their goods. They stand aloof from all the
force and conflict of life. They have always done so. This is
an understandable and respectable type. It has numerous Hindu
equivalents. It is a type that finds little difficulty about
exemptions--provided the individual has not been too recently
converted to his present habits. But it is not the prevalent
type in stop-the-war circles. Such genuine ascetics do not
number more than a thousand or so, all three of our western
allied countries. The mass of the stop-the-war people is made up
quite other elements.


In the complex structure of the modern community there are two
groups or strata or pockets in which the impulse of social
obligation, the gregarious sense of a common welfare, is at its
lowest; one of these is the class of the Resentful Employee, the
class of people who, without explanation, adequate preparation or
any chance, have been shoved at an early age into uncongenial
work and never given a chance to escape, and the other is the
class of people with small fixed incomes or with small salaries
earnt by routine work, or half independent people practising some
minor artistic or literary craft, who have led uneventful,
irresponsible lives from their youth up, and never came at any
point into relations of service to the state. This latter class
was more difficult to define than the former--because it is more
various within itself. My French friends wanted to talk of the
"Psychology of the Rentier." I was for such untranslatable
phrases as the "Genteel Whig," or the "Donnish Liberal." But I
lit up an Italian--he is a Milanese manufacturer--with "these
Florentine English who would keep Italy in a glass case." "I
know," he said. Before I go on to expand this congenial theme,
let me deal first with the Resentful Employee, who is a much more
considerable, and to me a much more sympathetic, figure in
European affairs. I began life myself as a Resentful Employee.
By the extremest good luck I have got my mind and spirit out of
the distortions of that cramping beginning, but I can still
recall even the anger of those old days.

He becomes an employee between thirteen and fifteen; he is made
to do work he does not like for no other purpose that he can see
except the profit and glory of a fortunate person called his
employer, behind whom stand church and state blessing and
upholding the relationship. He is not allowed to feel that he
has any share whatever in the employer's business, or that any
end is served but the employer's profit. He cannot see that the
employer acknowledges any duty to the state. Neither church nor
state seems to insist that the employer has any public function.
At no point does the employee come into a clear relationship of
mutual obligation with the state. There does not seem to be any
way out for the employee from a life spent in this subordinate,
toilsome relationship. He feels put upon and cheated out of
life. He is without honour. If he is a person of ability or
stubborn temper he struggles out of his position; if he is a
kindly and generous person he blames his "luck" and does his work
and lives his life as cheerfully as possible--and so live the
bulk of our amazing European workers; if he is a being of great
magnanimity he is content to serve for the ultimate good of the
race; if he has imagination, he says, "Things will not always be
like this," and becomes a socialist or a guild socialist, and
tries to educate the employer to a sense of reciprocal duty; but
if he is too human for any of these things, then he begins to
despise and hate the employer and the system that made him. He
wants to hurt them. Upon that hate it is easy to trade.

A certain section of what is called the Socialist press and the
Socialist literature in Europe is no doubt great-minded; it seeks
to carve a better world out of the present. But much of it is
socialist only in name. Its spirit is Anarchistic. Its real
burthen is not construction but grievance; it tells the bitter
tale of the employee, it feeds and organises his malice, it
schemes annoyance and injury for the hated employer. The state
and the order of the world is confounded with the capitalist.
Before the war the popular so-called socialist press reeked with
the cant of rebellion, the cant of any sort of rebellion. "I'm a
rebel," was the silly boast of the young disciple. "Spoil
something, set fire to something," was held to be the proper text
for any girl or lad of spirit. And this blind discontent carried
on into the war. While on the one hand a great rush of men
poured into the army saying, "Thank God! we can serve our
country at last instead of some beastly profiteer," a sourer
remnant, blind to the greater issues of the war, clung to the
reasonless proposition, "the state is only for the Capitalist.
This war is got up by Capitalists. Whatever has to be done--
/we are rebels./"

Such a typical paper as the British /Labour Leader/, for
example, may be read in vain, number after number, for any sound
and sincere constructive proposal. It is a prolonged scream of
extreme individualism, a monotonous repetition of incoherent
discontent with authority, with direction, with union, with the
European effort. It wants to do nothing. It just wants effort
to stop--even at the price of German victory. If the whole
fabric of society in western Europe were to be handed over to
those pseudo-socialists to-morrow, to be administered for the
common good, they would fly the task in terror. They would make
excuses and refuse the undertaking. They do not want the world
to go right. The very idea of the world going right does not
exist in their minds. They are embodied discontent and hatred,
making trouble, and that is all they are. They want to be
"rebels"--to be admired as "rebels".

That is the true psychology of the Resentful Employee. He is a
de-socialised man. His sense of the State has been destroyed.

The Resentful Employees are the outcome of our social injustices.
They are the failures of our social ad educational systems. We
may regret their pitiful degradation, we may exonerate them from
blame; none the less they are a pitiful crew. I have seen the
hardship of the trenches, the gay and gallant wounded. I do a
little understand what our soldiers, officers and men alike, have
endured and done. And though I know I ought to allow for all
that I have stated, I cannot regard these conscientious objectors
with anything but contempt. Into my house there pours a dismal
literature rehearsing the hardships of these men who set
themselves up to be martyrs for liberty; So and So, brave hero,
has been sworn at--positively sworn at by a corporal; a nasty
rough man came into the cell of So and So and dropped several
h's; So and So, refusing to undress and wash, has been undressed
and washed, and soap was rubbed into his eyes--perhaps purposely;
the food and accommodation are not of the best class; the doctors
in attendance seem hasty; So and So was put into a damp bed and
has got a nasty cold. Then I recall a jolly vanload of wounded
men I saw out there....

But after all, we must be just. A church and state that
permitted these people to be thrust into dreary employment in
their early 'teens, without hope or pride, deserves such citizens
as these. The marvel is that there are so few. There are a poor
thousand or so of these hopeless, resentment-poisoned creatures
in Great Britain. Against five willing millions. The Allied
countries, I submit, have not got nearly all the conscientious
objectors they deserve.


If the Resentful Employee provides the emotional impulse of the
resisting pacifist, whose horizon is bounded by his one
passionate desire that the particular social system that has
treated him so ill should collapse and give in, and its leaders
and rulers be humiliated and destroyed, the intellectual
direction of a mischievous pacifism comes from an entirely
different class.

The Genteel Whig, though he differs very widely in almost every
other respect from the Resentful Employee, has this much in
common, that he has never been drawn into the whirl of collective
life in any real and assimilative fashion. This is what is the
matter with both of them. He is a little loose, shy, independent
person. Except for eating and drinking--in moderation, he has
never done anything real from the day he was born. He has
frequently not even faced the common challenge of matrimony.
Still more frequently is he childless, or the daring parent of
one particular child. He has never traded nor manufactured. He
has drawn his dividends or his salary with an entire
unconsciousness of any obligations to policemen or navy for these
punctual payments. Probably he has never ventured even to
reinvest his little legacy. He is acutely aware of possessing an
exceptionally fine intelligence, but he is entirely unconscious
of a fundamental unreality. Nothing has ever occurred to him to
make him ask why the mass of men were either not possessed of his
security or discontented with it. The impulses that took his
school friends out upon all sorts of odd feats and adventures
struck him as needless. As he grew up he turned with an equal
distrust from passion or ambition. His friends went out after
love, after adventure, after power, after knowledge, after this
or that desire, and became men. But he noted merely that they
became fleshly, that effort strained them, that they were
sometimes angry or violent or heated. He could not but feel that
theirs were vulgar experiences, and he sought some finer exercise
for his exceptional quality. He pursued art or philosophy or
literature upon their more esoteric levels, and realised more and
more the general vulgarity and coarseness of the world about him,
and his own detachment. The vulgarity and crudity of the things
nearest him impressed him most; the dreadful insincerity of the
Press, the meretriciousness of success, the loudness of the rich,
the baseness of common people in his own land. The world
overseas had by comparison a certain glamour. Except that when
you said "United States" to him he would draw the air sharply
between his teeth and beg you not to...

Nobody took him by the collar and shook him.

If our world had considered the advice of William James and
insisted upon national service from everyone, national service in
the drains or the nationalised mines or the nationalised deep-sea
fisheries if not in the army or navy, we should not have had any
such men. If it had insisted that wealth and property are no
more than a trust for the public benefit, we should have had no
genteel indispensables. These discords in our national unanimity
are the direct consequence of our bad social organisation. We
permit the profiteer and the usurer; they evoke the response of
the Reluctant Employee, and the inheritor of their wealth becomes
the Genteel Whig.

But that is by the way. It was of course natural and inevitable
that the German onslaught upon Belgium and civilisation generally
should strike these recluse minds not as a monstrous ugly
wickedness to be resisted and overcome at any cost, but merely as
a nerve-racking experience. Guns were going off on both sides.
The Genteel Whig was chiefly conscious of a repulsive vast
excitement all about him, in which many people did inelegant and
irrational things. They waved flags--nasty little flags. This
child of the ages, this last fruit of the gigantic and tragic
tree of life, could no more than stick its fingers in its ears as
say, "Oh, please, do /all/ stop!" and then as the strain
grew intenser and intenser set itself with feeble pawings now to
clamber "Au-dessus de la Melee," and now to--in some
weak way--stop the conflict. ("Au-dessus de la
Melee"--as the man said when they asked him where he
was when the bull gored his sister.) The efforts to stop the
conflict at any price, even at the price of entire submission to
the German Will, grew more urgent as the necessity that everyone
should help against the German Thing grew more manifest.

Of all the strange freaks of distressed thinking that this war
has produced, the freaks of the Genteel Whig have been among the
most remarkable. With an air of profound wisdom he returns
perpetually to his proposition that there are faults on both
sides. To say that is his conception of impartiality. I suppose
that if a bull gored his sister he would say that there were
faults on both sides; his sister ought not to have strayed into
the field, she was wearing a red hat of a highly provocative
type; she ought to have been a cow and then everything would have
been different. In the face of the history of the last forty
years, the Genteel Whig struggles persistently to minimise the
German outrage upon civilisation and to find excuses for Germany.
He does this, not because he has any real passion for falsehood,
but because by training, circumstance, and disposition he is
passionately averse from action with the vulgar majority and from
self-sacrifice in a common cause, and because he finds in the
justification of Germany and, failing that, in the blackening of
the Allies to an equal blackness, one line of defence against the
wave of impulse that threatens to submerge his private self. But
when at last that line is forced he is driven back upon others
equally extraordinary. You can often find simultaneously in the
same Pacifist paper, and sometimes even in the utterances of the
same writer, two entirely incompatible statements. The first is
that Germany is so invincible that it is useless to prolong the
war since no effort of the Allies is likely to produce any
material improvement in their position, and the second is that
Germany is so thoroughly beaten that she is now ready to abandon
militarism and make terms and compensations entirely acceptable
to the countries she has forced into war. And when finally facts
are produced to establish the truth that Germany, though still
largely wicked and impenitent, is being slowly and conclusively
beaten by the sanity, courage and persistence of the Allied
common men, then the Genteel Whig retorts with his last defensive
absurdity. He invents a national psychology for Germany.
Germany, he invents, loves us and wants to be our dearest friend.
Germany has always loved us. The Germans are a loving, unenvious
people. They have been a little mislead--but nice people do not
insist upon that fact. But beware of beating Germany, beware of
humiliating Germany; then indeed trouble will come. Germany will
begin to dislike us. She will plan a revenge. Turning aside
from her erstwhile innocent career, she may even think of hate.
What are our obligations to France, Italy, Serbia and Russia,
what is the happiness of a few thousands of the Herero, a few
millions of the Belgians--whose numbers moreover are constantly
diminishing--when we might weigh them against the danger, the
most terrible danger, of incurring /permanent German

A Frenchman I talked to knew better than that. "What will happen
to Germany," I asked, "if we are able to do so to her and so;
would she take to dreams of a /Revanche?/"

"She will take to Anglomania," he said, and added after a flash
of reflection, "In the long run it will be the worse for you."



One of the indisputable things about the war, so far as Britain
and France go--and I have reason to believe that on a lesser
scale things are similar in Italy--is that it has produced a very
great volume of religious thought and feeling. About Russia in
these matters we hear but little at the present time, but one
guesses at parallelism. People habitually religious have been
stirred to new depths of reality and sincerity, and people are
thinking of religion who never thought of religion before. But
as I have already pointed out, thinking and feeling about a
matter is of no permanent value unless something is /thought
out/, unless there is a change of boundary or relationship,
and it an altogether different question to ask whether any
definite change is resulting from this universal ferment. If it
is not doing so, then the sleeper merely dreams a dream that he
will forget again....

Now in no sort of general popular mental activity is there so
much froth and waste as in religious excitements. This has been
the case in all periods of religious revival. The number who are
rather impressed, who for a few days or weeks take to reading
their Bibles or going to a new place of worship or praying or
fasting or being kind and unselfish, is always enormous in
relation to the people whose lives are permanently changed. The
effort needed if a contemporary is to blow off the froth, is
always very considerable.

Among the froth that I would blow off is I think most of the
tremendous efforts being made in England by the Anglican church
to attract favourable attention to itself /apropos/
of the war. I came back from my visit to the Somme battlefields
to find the sylvan peace of Essex invaded by a number of ladies
in blue dresses adorned with large white crosses, who, regardless
of the present shortage of nurses, were visiting every home in
the place on some mission of invitation whose details remained
obscure. So far as I was able to elucidate this project, it was
in the nature of a magic incantation; a satisfactory end of the
war was to be brought about by convergent prayer and religious
assiduities. The mission was shy of dealing with me personally,
although as a lapsed communicant I should have thought myself a
particularly hopeful field for Anglican effort, and it came to my
wife and myself merely for our permission and countenance in an
appeal to our domestic servants. My wife consulted the
household; it seemed very anxious to escape from that appeal, and
as I respect Christianity sufficiently to detest the
identification of its services with magic processes, the mission
retired--civilly repulsed. But the incident aroused an uneasy
curiosity in my mind with regard to the general trend of Anglican
teaching and Anglican activities at the present time. The trend
of my enquiries is to discover the church much more incoherent
and much less religious--in any decent sense of the word--than I
had supposed it to be.

Organisation is the life of material and the death of mental and
spiritual processes. There could be no more melancholy
exemplification of this than the spectacle of the Anglican and
Catholic churches at the present time, one using the tragic
stresses of war mainly for pew-rent touting, and the other
paralysed by its Austrian and South German political connections
from any clear utterance upon the moral issues of the war.
Through the opening phases of the war the Established Church of
England was inconspicuous; this is no longer the case, but it may
be doubted whether the change is altogether to its advantage. To
me this is a very great disappointment. I have always had a very
high opinion of the intellectual values of the leading divines of
both the Anglican and Catholic communions. The self-styled
Intelligentsia of Great Britain is all too prone to sneer at
their equipment; but I do not see how any impartial person can
deny that Father Bernard Vaughn is in mental energy, vigour of
expression, richness of thought and variety of information fully
the equal of such an influential lay publicist as Mr. Horatio
Bottomley. One might search for a long time among prominent
laymen to find the equal of the Bishop of London. Nevertheless
it is impossible to conceal the impression of tawdriness that
this latter gentleman's work as head of the National Mission has
left upon my mind. Attired in khaki he has recently been
preaching in the open air to the people of London upon Tower
Hill, Piccadilly, and other conspicuous places. Obsessed as I am
by the humanities, and impressed as I have always been by the
inferiority of material to moral facts, I would willingly have
exchanged the sight of two burning Zeppelins for this spectacle
of ecclesiastical fervour. But as it is, I am obliged to trust
to newspaper reports and the descriptions of hearers and eye-
witnesses. They leave to me but little doubt of the regrettable
superficiality of the bishop's utterances.

We have a multitude of people chastened by losses, ennobled by a
common effort, needing support in that effort, perplexed by the
reality of evil and cruelty, questioning and seeking after God.
What does the National Mission offer? On Tower Hill the bishop
seems to have been chiefly busy with a wrangling demonstration
that ten thousand a year is none too big a salary for a man
subject to such demands and expenses as his see involves. So far
from making anything out of his see he was, he declared, two
thousand a year to the bad. Some day, when the church has
studied efficiency, I suppose that bishops will have the leisure
to learn something about the general state of opinion and
education in their dioceses. The Bishop of London was evidently
unaware of the almost automatic response of the sharp socialists
among his hearers. Their first enquiry would be to learn how he
came by that mysterious extra two thousand a year with which he
supplemented his stipend. How did he earn /that?/ And if he
didn't earn it---! And secondly, they would probably have
pointed out to him that his standard of housing, clothing, diet
and entertaining was probably a little higher than theirs. It is
really no proof of virtuous purity that a man's expenditure
exceeds his income. And finally some other of his hearers were
left unsatisfied by his silence with regard to the current
proposal to pool all clerical stipends for the common purposes of
the church. It is a reasonable proposal, and if bishops must
dispute about stipends instead of preaching the kingdom of God,
then they are bound to face it. The sooner they do so, the more
graceful will the act be. From these personal apologetics the
bishop took up the question of the exemption, at the request of
the bishops, of the clergy from military service. It is one of
our contrasts with French conditions--and it is all to the
disadvantage of the British churches.

In his Piccadilly contribution to the National Mission of
Repentance and Hope the bishop did not talk politics but sex. He
gave his hearers the sort of stuff that is handed out so freely
by the Cinema Theatres, White Slave Traffic talk, denunciations
of "Night Hawks"--whatever "Night Hawks" may be--and so on. One
this or another occasion the bishop--he boasts that he himself is
a healthy bachelor--lavished his eloquence upon the Fall in the
Birth Rate, and the duty of all married people, from paupers
upward, to have children persistently. Now sex, like diet, is a
department of conduct and a very important department, but /it
isn't religion!/ The world is distressed by international
disorder, by the monstrous tragedy of war; these little hot talks
about indulgence and begetting have about as much to do with the
vast issues that concern us as, let us say, a discussion of the
wickedness of eating very new and indigestible bread. It is
talking round and about the essential issue. It is fogging the
essential issue, which is the forgotten and neglected kingship of
God. The sin that is stirring the souls of men is the sin of
this war. It is the sin of national egotism and the devotion of
men to loyalties, ambitions, sects, churches, feuds, aggressions,
and divisions that are an outrage upon God's universal


The common clergy of France, sharing the military obligations and
the food and privations of their fellow parishioners, contrast
very vividly with the home-staying types of the ministries of the
various British churches. I met and talked to several. Near
Frise there were some barge gunboats--they have since taken their
place in the fighting, but then they were a surprise--and the men
had been very anxious to have their craft visited and seen. The
priest who came after our party to see if he could still arrange
that, had been decorated for gallantry. Of course the English
too have their gallant chaplains, but they are men of the officer
caste, they are just young officers with peculiar collars; not
men among men, as are the French priests.

There can be no doubt that the behaviour of the French priests in
this war has enormously diminished anti-clerical bitterness in
France. There can be no doubt that France is far more a
religious country than it was before the war. But if you ask
whether that means any return to the church, any reinstatement of
the church, the answer is a doubtful one. Religion and the
simple priest are stronger in France to-day; the church, I think,
is weaker.

I trench on no theological discussion when I record the
unfavourable impression made upon all western Europe by the
failure of the Holy Father to pronounce definitely upon the
rights and wrongs of the war. The church has abrogated its right
of moral judgement. Such at least seemed to be the opinion of
the Frenchmen with whom I discussed a remarkable interview with
Cardinal Gasparri that I found one morning in /Le Journal./

It was not the sort of interview to win the hearts of men who
were ready to give their lives to set right what they believe to
be the greatest outrage that has ever been inflicted upon
Christendom, that is to say the forty-three years of military
preparation and of diplomacy by threats that culminated in the
ultimatum to Serbia, the invasion of Belgium and the murder of
the Vise villagers. It was adorned with a large portrait
of "Benoit XV.," looking grave and discouraging over his
spectacles, and the headlines insisted it was "/La
Pensee du Pape./" Cross-heads sufficiently indicated
the general tone. One read:

/"Le Saint Siege impartial...
Au-dessus de la bataille...."/
The good Cardinal would have made a good lawyer. He had as
little to say about God and the general righteousness of things
as the Bishop of London. But he got in some smug reminders of
the severance of diplomatic relations with the Vatican. Perhaps
now France will be wiser. He pointed out that the Holy See in
its Consistorial Allocution of January 22nd, 1915, invited the
belligerents to observe the rules of war. Could anything more be
done than that? Oh!--in the general issue of the war, if you
want a judgement on the war as a whole, how is it possible that
the Vatican to decide? Surely the French know that excellent
principle of justice, /Audiatur et altera pars/, and how
under existing circumstances can the Vatican do that...? The
Vatican is cut off from communication with Austria and Germany.
The Vatican has been deprived of its temporal power and local
independence (another neat point)....

So France is bowed out. When peace is restored, the Vatican will
perhaps be able to enquire if there was a big German army in
1914, if German diplomacy was aggressive from 1875 onward, if
Belgium was invaded unrighteously, if (Catholic) Austria forced
the pace upon (non-Catholic) Russia. But now--now the Holy See
must remain as impartial as an unbought mascot in a shop

The next column of /Le Journal/ contained an account of the
Armenian massacres; the blood of the Armenian cries out past the
Holy Father to heaven; but then Armenians are after all heretics,
and here again the principle of /Audiatur et altera pars/
comes in. Communications are not open with the Turks. Moreover,
Armenians, like Serbs, are worse than infidels; they are
heretics. Perhaps God is punishing them....

/Audiatur et altera pars/, and the Vatican has not forgotten
the infidelity and disrespect of both France and Italy in the
past. These are the things, it seems, that really matter to the
Vatican. Cardinal Gasparri's portrait, in the same issue of
/Le Journal/, displays a countenance of serene contentment,
a sort of incarnate "Told-you-so."

So the Vatican lifts its pontifical skirts and shakes the dust of
western Europe off its feet.

It is the most astounding renunciation in history.

Indubitably the Christian church took a wide stride from the
kingship of God when it placed a golden throne for the unbaptised
Constantine in the midst of its most sacred deliberations at
Nicaea. But it seems to me that this abandonment of moral
judgements in the present case by the Holy See is an almost wider
step from the church's allegiance to God....


Thought about the great questions of life, thought and reasoned
direction, this is what the multitude demands mutely and weakly,
and what the organised churches are failing to give. They have
not the courage of their creeds. Either their creeds are
intellectual flummery or they are the solution to the riddles
with which the world is struggling. But the churches make no
mention of their creeds. They chatter about sex and the magic
effect of church attendance and simple faith. If simple faith is
enough, the churches and their differences are an imposture. Men
are stirred to the deepest questions about life and God, and the
Anglican church, for example, obliges--as I have described.

It is necessary to struggle against the unfavourable impression
made by these things. They must not blind us to the deeper
movement that is in progress in a quite considerable number of
minds in England and France alike towards the realisation of the
kingdom of God.

What I conceive to be the reality of the religious revival is to
be found in quarters remote from the religious professionals.
Let me give but one instance of several that occur to me. I met
soon after my return from France a man who has stirred my
curiosity for years, Mr. David Lubin, the prime mover in the
organisation of the International Institute of Agriculture in
Rome. It is a movement that has always appealed to my
imagination. The idea is to establish and keep up to date a
record of the food supplies in the world with a view to the
ultimate world control of food supply and distribution. When its
machinery has developed sufficiently to a control in the
interests of civilisation of many other staples besides
foodstuffs. It is in fact the suggestion and beginning of the
economic world peace and the economic world state, just as the
Hague Tribunal is the first faint sketch of a legal world state.
The King of Italy has met Mr. Lubin's idea with open hands. (It
was because of this profoundly interesting experiment that in a
not very widely known book of mine, /The World Set Free/
(May, 1914), in which I represented a world state as arising out
of Armageddon, I made the first world conference meet at Brissago
in Italian Switzerland under the presidency of the King of
Italy.) So that when I found I could meet Mr. Lubin I did so very
gladly. We lunched together in a pretty little room high over
Knightsbridge, and talked through an afternoon.

He is a man rather after the type of Gladstone; he could be made
to look like Gladstone in a caricature, and he has that
compelling quality of intense intellectual excitement which was
one of the great factors in the personal effectiveness of
Gladstone. He is a Jew, but until I had talked to him for some
time that fact did not occur to me. He is in very ill health, he
has some weakness of the heart that grips him and holds him at
times white and silent.

At first we talked of his Institute and its work. Then we came
to shipping and transport. Whenever one talks now of human
affairs one comes presently to shipping and transport generally.
In Paris, in Italy, when I returned to England, everywhere I
found "cost of carriage" was being discovered to be a question of
fundamental importance. Yet transport, railroads and shipping,
these vitally important services in the world's affairs, are
nearly everywhere in private hands and run for profit. In the
case of shipping they are run for profit on such antiquated lines
that freights vary from day to day and from hour to hour. It
makes the business of food supply a gamble. And it need not be a

But that is by the way in the present discussion. As we talked,
the prospect broadened out from a prospect of the growing and
distribution of food to a general view of the world becoming one
economic community.

I talked of various people I had been meeting in the previous few
weeks. "So many of us," I said, "seem to be drifting away from
the ideas of nationalism and faction and policy, towards
something else which is larger. It is an idea of a right way of
doing things for human purposes, independently of these limited
and localised references. Take such things as international
hygiene for example, take /this/ movement. We are feeling
our way towards a bigger rule."

"The rule of Righteousness," said Mr. Lubin.

I told him that I had been coming more and more to the idea--not
as a sentimentality or a metaphor, but as the ruling and
directing idea, the structural idea, of all one's political and
social activities--of the whole world as one state and community
and of God as the King of that state.

"But /I/ say that," cried Mr. Lubin, "I have put my name to that. And--it is /here!/"

He struggled up, seized an Old Testament that lay upon a side
table. He stood over it and rapped its cover. "It is
/here/," he said, looking more like Gladstone than ever, "in
the Prophets."


That is all I mean to tell at present of that conversation.

We talked of religion for two hours. Mr. Lubin sees things in
terms of Israel and I do not. For all that we see things very
much after the same fashion. That talk was only one of a number
of talks about religion that I have had with hard and practical
men who want to get the world straighter than it is, and who
perceive that they must have a leadership and reference outside
themselves. That is why I assert so confidently that there is a
real deep religious movement afoot in the world. But not one of
those conversations could have gone on, it would have ceased
instantly, if anyone bearing the uniform and brand of any
organised religious body, any clergyman, priest, mollah, of
suchlike advocate of the ten thousand patented religions in the
world, had come in. He would have brought in his sectarian
spites, his propaganda of church-going, his persecution of the
heretic and the illegitimate, his ecclesiastical politics, his
taboos, and his doctrinal touchiness.... That is why, though I
perceive there is a great wave of religious revival in the world
to-day, I doubt whether it bodes well for the professional

The other day I was talking to an eminent Anglican among various
other people and someone with an eye to him propounded this
remarkable view.

"There are four stages between belief and utter unbelief. There
are those who believe in God, those who doubt like Huxley the
Agnostic, those who deny him like the Atheists but who do at
least keep his place vacant, and lastly those who have set up a
Church in his place. That is the last outrage of unbelief."

All the French people I met in France seemed to be thinking and
talking about the English. The English bring their own
atmosphere with them; to begin with they are not so talkative,
and I did not find among them anything like the same vigour of
examination, the same resolve to understand the Anglo-French
reaction, that I found among the French. In intellectual
processes I will confess that my sympathies are undisguisedly
with the French; the English will never think nor talk clearly
until the get clerical "Greek" and sham "humanities" out of their
public schools and sincere study and genuine humanities in; our
disingenuous Anglican compromise is like a cold in the English
head, and the higher education in England is a training in
evasion. This is an always lamentable state of affairs, but just
now it is particularly lamentable because quite tremendous
opportunities for the good of mankind turn on the possibility of
a thorough and entirely frank mutual understanding between
French, Italians, and English. For years there has been a
considerable amount of systematic study in France of English
thought and English developments. Upon almost any question of
current English opinion and upon most current English social
questions, the best studies are in French. But there has been
little or no reciprocal activity. The English in France seem to
confine their French studies to /La Vie Parisienne./ It is
what they have been led to expect of French literature.

There can be no doubt in any reasonable mind that this war is
binding France and England very closely together. They dare not
quarrel for the next fifty years. They are bound to play a
central part in the World League for the Preservation of Peace
that must follow this struggle. There is no question of their
practical union. It is a thing that must be. But it is
remarkable that while the French mind is agog to apprehend every
fact and detail it can about the British, to make the wisest and
fullest use of our binding necessities, that strange English
"incuria"--to use the new slang--attains to its most monumental
in this matter.

So there is not much to say about how the British think about the
French. They do not think. They feel. At the outbreak of the
war, when the performance of France seemed doubtful, there was an
enormous feeling for France in Great Britain; it was like the
formless feeling one has for a brother. It was as if Britain had
discovered a new instinct. If France had crumpled up like paper,
the English would have fought on passionately to restore her.
That is ancient history now. Now the English still feel
fraternal and fraternally proud; but in a mute way they are
dazzled. Since the German attack on Verdun began, the French
have achieved a crescendo. None of us could have imagined it.
It did not seem possible to very many of us at the end of 1915
that either France or Germany could hold on for another year.
There was much secret anxiety for France. It has given place now
to unstinted confidence and admiration. In their astonishment
the British are apt to forget the impressive magnitude of their
own effort, the millions of soldiers, the innumerable guns, the
endless torrent of supplies that pour into France to avenge the
little army of Mons. It seems natural to us that we should so
exert ourselves under the circumstances. I suppose it is
wonderful, but, as a sample Englishman, I do not feel that it is
at all wonderful. I did not feel it wonderful even when I saw
the British aeroplanes lording it in the air over Martinpuich,
and not a German to be seen. Since Michael would have it so,
there, at last, they were.

There was a good deal of doubt in France about the vigour of the
British effort, until the Somme offensive. All that had been
dispelled in August when I reached Paris. There was not the
shadow of a doubt remaining anywhere of the power and loyalty of
the British. These preliminary assurances have to be made,
because it is in the nature of the French mind to criticise, and
it must not be supposed that criticisms of detail and method
affect the fraternity and complete mutual confidence which is the
stuff of the Anglo-French relationship.


Now first the French have been enormously astonished by the
quality of the ordinary British soldiers in our new armies. One
Colonial colonel said something almost incredible to me--almost
incredible as coming as from a Frenchman; it was a matter to
solemn for any compliments or polite exaggerations; he said in
tones of wonder and conviction, "/They are as good as
ours./" It was his acme of all possible praise.

That means any sort of British soldier. Unless he is assisted by
a kilt the ordinary Frenchman is unable to distinguish between
one sort of British soldier and another. He cannot tell--let the
ardent nationalist mark the fact!--a Cockney from an Irishman or
the Cardiff from the Essex note. He finds them all extravagantly
and unquenchably cheerful and with a generosity--"like good
children." There his praise is a little tinged by doubt. The
British are reckless--recklessness in battle a Frenchman can
understand, but they are also reckless about to-morrow's bread
and whether the tent is safe against a hurricane in the night.
He is struck too by the fact that they are much more vocal than
the French troops, and that they seem to have a passion for bad
lugubrious songs. There he smiles and shrugs his shoulders, and
indeed what else can any of us do in the presence of that
mystery? At any rate the legend of the "phlegmatic" Englishman
has been scattered to the four winds of heaven by the guns of the
western front. The men are cool in action, it is true; but for
the rest they are, by the French standards, quicksilver.

But I will not expand further upon the general impression made by
the English in France. Philippe Millet's /En Liaison avec les
Anglais/ gives in a series of delightful pictures portraits of
British types from the French angle. There can be little doubt
that the British quality, genial naive, plucky and generous, has
won for itself a real affection in France wherever it has had a
chance to display itself....

But when it comes to British methods then the polite Frenchman's
difficulties begin. Translating hints into statements and
guessing at reservations, I would say that the French fall very
short of admiration of the way in which our higher officers set
about their work, they are disagreeably impressed by a general
want of sedulousness and close method in our leading. They think
we economise brains and waste blood. They are shocked at the way
in which obviously incompetent or inefficient men of the old army
class are retained in their positions even after serious
failures, and they were profoundly moved by the bad staff work
and needlessly heavy losses of our opening attacks in July. They
were ready to condone the blunderings and flounderings of the
1915 offensive as the necessary penalties of an "amateur" army,
they had had to learn their own lesson in Champagne, but they
were surprised to find how much the British had still to learn in
July, 1916. The British officers excuse themselves because, they
plead, they are still amateurs. "That is no reason," says the
Frenchman, "why they should be amateurish."

No Frenchman said as much as this to me, but their meaning was as
plain as daylight. I tackled one of my guides on this matter; I
said that it was the plain duty of the French military people to
criticise British military methods sharply if they thought they
were wrong. "It is not easy," he said. "Many British officers
do not think they have anything to learn. And English people do
not like being told things. What could we do? We could hardly
send a French officer or so to your headquarters in a tutorial
capacity. You have to do things in your own way." When I tried
to draw General Castelnau into this dangerous question by
suggesting that we might borrow a French general or so, he would
say only, "There is only one way to learn war, and that is to
make war." When it was too late, in the lift, I thought of the
answer to that. There is only one way to make war, and that is
by the sacrifice of incapables and the rapid promotion of able
men. If old and tried types fail now, new types must be sought.
But to do that we want a standard of efficiency. We want a
conception of intellectual quality in performance that is still

M. Joseph Reinach, in whose company I visited the French part of
the Somme front, was full of a scheme, which he has since
published, for the breaking up and recomposition of the French
and British armies into a series of composite armies which would
blend the magnificent British manhood and material with French
science and military experience. He pointed out the endless
advantages of such an arrangement; the stimulus of emulation, the
promotion of intimate fraternal feeling between the peoples of
the two countries. "At present," he said, "no Frenchman ever
sees an Englishman except at Amiens or on the Somme. Many of
them still have no idea of what the English are doing...."

"Have I ever told you the story of compulsory Greek at Oxford and
Cambridge?" I asked abruptly.

"What has that to do with it?"

"Or how two undistinguished civil service commissioners can hold
up the scientific education of our entire administrative class?"

M. Reinach protested further.

"Because you are proposing to loosen the grip of a certain narrow
and limited class upon British affairs, and you propose it as
though it were a job as easy as rearranging railway fares or
sending a van to Calais. That is the problem that every decent
Englishman is trying to solve to-day, every man of that Greater
Britain which has supplied these five million volunteers, these
magnificent temporary officers and all this wealth of munitions.
And the oligarchy is so invincibly fortified! Do you think it
will let in Frenchmen to share its controls? It will not even
let in Englishmen. It holds the class schools; the class
universities; the examinations for our public services are its
class shibboleths; it is the church, the squirearchy, the
permanent army class, permanent officialdom; it makes every
appointment, it is the fountain of honour; what it does not know
is not knowledge, what it cannot do must not be done. It rules
India ignorantly and obstructively; it will wreck the empire
rather than relinquish its ascendancy in Ireland. It is densely
self-satisfied and instinctively monopolistic. It is on our
backs, and with it on our backs we common English must bleed and
blunder to victory.... And you make this proposal!"


The antagonistic relations of the Anglican oligarchy with the
greater and greater-spirited Britain that thrust behind it in
this war are probably paralleled very closely in Germany,
probably they are exaggerated in Germany with a bigger military
oligarchy and a relatively lesser civil body under it. This
antagonism is the oddest outcome of the tremendous /de-
militarisation/ of war that has been going on. In France it
is probably not so marked because of the greater flexibility and
adaptability of the French culture.

All military people--people, that is, professionally and
primarily military--are inclined to be conservative. For
thousands of years the military tradition has been a tradition of
discipline. The conception of the common soldier has been a
mechanically obedient, almost dehumanised man, of the of officer
a highly trained autocrat. In two years all this has been
absolutely reversed. Individual quality, inventive organisation
and industrialism will win this war. And no class is so innocent
of these things as the military caste. Long accustomed as they
are to the importance of moral effect they put a brave face upon
the business; they save their faces astonishingly, but they are
no longer guiding and directing this war, they are being pushed
from behind by forces they never foresaw and cannot control. The
aeroplanes and great guns have bolted with them, the tanks
begotten of naval and civilian wits, shove them to victory in
spite of themselves.

Wherever I went behind the British lines the officers were going
about in spurs. These spurs at last got on my nerves. They
became symbolical. They became as grave an insult to the tragedy
of the war as if they were false noses. The British officers go
for long automobile rides in spurs. They walk about the trenches
in spurs. Occasionally I would see a horse; I do not wish to be
unfair in this matter, there were riding horses sometimes within
two or three miles of the ultimate front, but they were rarely

I do not say that the horse is entirely obsolescent in this war.
In was nothing is obsolete. In the trenches men fight with
sticks. In the Pasubio battle the other day one of the Alpini
silenced a machine gun by throwing stones. In the West African
campaign we have employed troops armed with bows and arrows, and
they have done very valuable work. But these are exceptional
cases. The military use of the horse henceforth will be such an
exceptional case. It is ridiculous for these spurs still to
clink about the modern battlefield. What the gross cost of the
spurs and horses and trappings of the British army amount to, and
how many men are grooming and tending horses who might just as
well be ploughing and milking at home, I cannot guess; it must be
a total so enormous as seriously to affect the balance of the

And these spurs and their retention are only the outward and
visible symbol of the obstinate resistance of the Anglican
intelligence to the clear logic of the present situation. It is
not only the external equipment of our leaders that falls behind
the times; our political and administrative services are in the
hands of the same desolatingly inadaptable class. The British
are still wearing spurs in Ireland; they are wearing them in
India; and the age of the spur has passed. At the outset of this
war there was an absolute cessation of criticism of the military
and administrative castes; it is becoming a question whether we
may not pay too heavily in blundering and waste, in military and
economic lassitude, in international irritation and the
accumulation of future dangers in Ireland, Egypt, India, and
elsewhere, for an apparent absence of internal friction. These
people have no gratitude for tacit help, no spirit of intelligent
service, and no sense of fair play to the outsider. The latter
deficiency indeed they call /esprit de corps/ and prize it
as if it were a noble quality.

It becomes more and more imperative that the foreign observer
should distinguish between this narrower, older official Britain
and the greater newer Britain that struggles to free itself from
the entanglement of a system outgrown. There are many Englishmen
who would like to say to the French and Irish and the Italians
and India, who indeed feel every week now a more urgent need of
saying, "Have patience with us." The Riddle of the British is
very largely solved if you will think of a great modern liberal
nation seeking to slough an exceedingly tough and tight skin....

Nothing is more illuminating and self-educational than to explain
one's home politics to an intelligent foreigner enquirer; it
strips off all the secondary considerations, the allusiveness,
the merely tactical considerations, the allusiveness, the merely
tactical considerations. One sees the forest not as a confusion
of trees but as something with a definite shape and place. I was
asked in Italy and in France, "Where does Lord Northcliffe come
into the British system--or Lloyd George? Who is Mr. Redmond?
Why is Lloyd George a Minister, and why does not Mr. Redmond take
office? Isn't there something called an ordnance department, and
why is there a separate ministry of munitions? Can Mr. Lloyd
George remove an incapable general?..."

I found it M. Joseph Reinach particularly penetrating and
persistent. It is an amusing but rather difficult exercise to
recall what I tried to convey to him by way of a theory of
Britain. He is by no means an uncritical listener. I explained
that there is an "inner Britain," official Britain, which is
Anglican or official Presbyterian, which at the outside in the
whole world cannot claim to speak for twenty million Anglican or
Presbyterian communicants, which monopolises official positions,
administration and honours in the entire British empire,
dominates the court, and, typically, is spurred and red-tabbed.
(It was just at this time that the spurs were most on my

This inner Britain, I went on to explain, holds tenaciously to
its positions of advantage, from which it is difficult to
dislodge it without upsetting the whole empire, and it insists
upon treating the rest of the four hundred millions who
constitute that empire as outsiders, foreigners, subject races
and suspected persons.

"To you," I said, "it bears itself with an appearance of faintly
hostile, faintly contemptuous apathy. It is still so entirely
insular that it shudders at the thought of the Channel Tunnel.
This is the Britain which irritates and puzzles you so intensely--
that you are quite unable to conceal these feelings from me.
Unhappily it is the Britain you see most of. Well, outside this
official Britain is 'Greater Britain'--the real Britain with
which you have to reckon in the future." (From this point a
faint flavour of mysticism crept into my dissertation. I found
myself talking with something in my voice curiously reminiscent
of those liberal Russians who set themselves to explain the
contrasts and contradictions of "official" Russia and "true"
Russia.) "This Greater Britain," I asserted, "is in a perpetual
conflict with official Britain, struggling to keep it up to its
work, shoving it towards its ends, endeavouring in spite of its
tenacious mischievousness of the privileged to keep the peace and
a common aim with the French and Irish and Italians and Russians
and Indians. It is to that outer Britain that those Englishmen
you found so interesting and sympathetic, Lloyd George and Lord
Northcliffe, for example, belong. It is the Britain of the great
effort, the Britain of the smoking factories and the torrent of
munitions, the Britain of the men and subalterns of the new
armies, the Britain which invents and thinks and achieves, and
stands now between German imperialism and the empire of the
world. I do not want to exaggerate the quality of greater
Britain. If the inner set are narrowly educated, the outer set
if often crudely educated. If the inner set is so close knit as
to seem like a conspiracy, the outer set is so loosely knit as to
seem like a noisy confusion. Greater Britain is only beginning
to realise itself and find itself. For all its crudity there is
a giant spirit in it feeling its way towards the light. It has
quite other ambitions for the ending of the war than some haggled
treaty of alliance with France and Italy; some advantage that
will invalidate German competition; it begins to realise newer
and wider sympathies, possibilities of an amalgamation of
interests and community of aim that is utterly beyond the habits
of the old oligarchy to conceive, beyond the scope of that tawdry
word 'Empire' to express...."

I descended from my rhetoric to find M. Reinach asking how and
when this greater Britain was likely to become politically



"Nothing will be the same after the war." This is one of the
consoling platitudes with which people cover over voids of
thought. They utter it with an air of round-eyed profundity.
But to ask in reply, "Then how will things be different?" is in
many cases to rouse great resentment. It is almost as rude as
saying, "Was that thought of yours really a thought?"

Let us in this chapter confine ourselves to the social-economic
processes that are going on. So far as I am able to distinguish
among the things that are being said in these matters, they may
be classified out into groups that centre upon several typical
questions. There is the question of "How to pay for the war?"
There is the question of the behaviour of labour after the war.
"Will there be a Labour Truce or a violent labour struggle?"
There is the question of the reconstruction of European industry
after the war in the face of an America in a state of monetary
and economic repletion through non-intervention. My present
purpose in this chapter is a critical one; it is not to solve
problems but to set out various currents of thought that are
flowing through the general mind. Which current is likely to
seize upon and carry human affairs with it, is not for our
present speculation.

There seem to be two distinct ways of answering the first of the
questions I have noted. They do not necessarily contradict each
other. Of course the war is being largely paid for immediately
out of the accumulated private wealth of the past. We are buying
off the "hold-up" of the private owner upon the material and
resources we need, and paying in paper money and war loans. This
is not in itself an impoverishment of the community. The wealth
of individuals is not the wealth of nations; the two things may
easily be contradictory when the rich man's wealth consists of
land or natural resources or franchises or privileges the use of
which he reluctantly yields for high prices. The conversion of
held-up land and material into workable and actively used
material in exchange for national debt may be indeed a positive
increase in the wealth of the community. And what is happening
in all the belligerent countries is the taking over of more and
more of the realities of wealth from private hands and, in
exchange, the contracting of great masses of debt to private
people. The nett tendency is towards the disappearance of a
reality holding class and the destruction of realities in
warfare, and the appearance of a vast /rentier/ class in its
place. At the end of the war much material will be destroyed for
evermore, transit, food production and industry will be
everywhere enormously socialised, and the country will be liable
to pay every year in interest, a sum of money exceeding the
entire national expenditure before the war. From the point of
view of the state, and disregarding material and moral damages,
that annual interest is the annual instalment of the price to be
paid for the war.

Now the interesting question arises whether these great
belligerent states may go bankrupt, and if so to what extent.
States may go bankrupt to the private creditor without
repudiating their debts or seeming to pay less to him. They can
go bankrupt either by a depreciation of their currency or--
without touching the gold standard--through a rise in prices. In
the end both these things work out to the same end; the creditor
gets so many loaves or pairs of boots or workman's hours of
labour for his pound /less/ than he would have got under the
previous conditions. One may imagine this process of price (and
of course wages) increase going on to a limitless extent. Many
people are inclined to look to such an increase in prices as a
certain outcome of the war, and just so far as it goes, just so
far will the burthen of the /rentier/ class, their call, tat
is, for goods and services, be lightened. This expectation is
very generally entertained, and I can see little reason against
it. The intensely stupid or dishonest "labour" press, however,
which in the interests of the common enemy misrepresents
socialism and seeks to misguide labour in Great Britain, ignores
these considerations, and positively holds out this prospect of
rising prices as an alarming one to the more credulous and
ignorant of its readers.

But now comes the second way of meeting the after-the-war
obligations. This second way is by increasing the wealth of the
state and by increasing the national production to such an extent
that the payment of the /rentier/ class will not be an
overwhelming burthen. Rising prices bilk the creditor.
Increased production will check the rise in prices and get him a
real payment. The outlook for the national creditor seems to be
that he will be partly bilked and partly paid; how far he will be
bilked and how far depends almost entirely upon this possible
increase in production; and there is consequently a very keen and
quite unprecedented desire very widely diffused among intelligent
and active people, holding War Loan scrip and the like, in all
the belligerent countries, to see bold and hopeful schemes for
state enrichment pushed forward. The movement towards socialism
is receiving an impulse from a new and unexpected quarter, there
is now a /rentier/ socialism, and it is interesting to note
that while the London /Times/ is full of schemes of great
state enterprises, for the exploitation of Colonial state lands,
for the state purchase and wholesaling of food and many natural
products, and for the syndication of shipping and the great
staple industries into vast trusts into which not only the
British but the French and Italian governments may enter as
partners, the so-called socialist press of Great Britain is
chiefly busy about the draughts in the cell of Mr. Fenner
Brockway and the refusal of Private Scott Duckers to put on his
khaki trousers. /The New Statesman/ and the Fabian Society,
however, display a wider intelligence.

There is a great variety of suggestions for this increase of
public wealth and production. Many of them have an extreme
reasonableness. The extent to which they will be adopted
depends, no doubt, very largely upon the politician and permanent
official, and both these classes are prone to panic in the
presence of reality. In spite of its own interests in
restraining a rise in prices, the old official "salariat" is
likely to be obstructive to any such innovations. It is the
resistance of spurs and red tabs to military innovations over
again. This is the resistance of quills and red tape. On the
other hand the organisation of Britain for war has "officialised"
a number of industrial leaders, and created a large body of
temporary and adventurous officials. They may want to carry on
into peace production the great new factories the war has
created. At the end of the war, for example, every belligerent
country will be in urgent need of cheap automobiles for farmers,
tradesmen, and industrial purposes generally, America is now
producing such automobiles at a price of eighty pounds. But
Europe will be heavily in debt to America, her industries will be
disorganised, and there will therefore be no sort of return
payment possible for these hundreds of thousands of automobiles.
A country that is neither creditor nor producer cannot be an
importer. Consequently though those cheap tin cars may be
stacked as high as the Washington Monument in America, they will
never come to Europe. On the other hand the great shell
factories of Europe will be standing idle and ready, their staffs
disciplined and available, for conversion to the new task. The
imperative common sense of the position seems to be that the
European governments should set themselves straight away to out-
Ford Ford, and provide their own people with cheap road

But here comes in the question whether this common-sense course
is inevitable. Suppose the mental energy left in Europe after
the war is insufficient for such a constructive feat as this.
There will certainly be the obstruction of official pedantry, the
hold-up of this vested interest and that, the greedy desire of
"private enterprise" to exploit the occasion upon rather more
costly and less productive lines, the general distrust felt by
ignorant and unimaginative people of a new way of doing things.
The process after all may not get done in the obviously wise way.
This will not mean that Europe will buy American cars. It will
be quite unable to buy American cars. It will be unable to make
anything that America will not be able to make more cheaply for
itself. But it will mean that Europe will go on without cheap
cars, that is to say it will go on a more sluggishly and clumsily
and wastefully at a lower economic level. Hampered transport
means hampered production of other things, and in increasing
inability to buy abroad. And so we go down and down.

It does not follow that because a course is the manifestly right
and advantageous course for the community that it will be taken.
I am reminded of this by a special basket in my study here, into
which I pitch letters, circulars, pamphlets and so forth as they
come to hand from a gentleman named Gattie, and his friends Mr.
Adrian Ross, Mr. Roy Horniman, Mr. Henry Murray and others. His
particular project is the construction of a Railway Clearing
House for London. It is an absolutely admirable scheme. It
would cut down the heavy traffic in the streets of London to
about one-third; it would enable us to run the goods traffic of
England with less than half the number of railway trucks we now
employ; it would turn over enormous areas of valuable land from
their present use as railway goods yards and sidings; it would
save time in the transit of goods and labour in their handling.
It is a quite beautifully worked out scheme. For the last eight
or ten years this group of devoted fanatics has been pressing
this undertaking upon an indifferent country with increasing
vehemence and astonishment at that indifference. The point is
that its adoption, though it would be of general benefit, would
be of no particular benefit to any leading man or highly placed
official. On the other hand it would upset all sorts of
individuals who are in a position to obstruct it quietly--and
they do so. Meaning no evil. I dip my hand in the accumulation
and extract a leaflet by the all too zealous Mr. Murray. In it
he denounces various public officials by name as he cheats and
scoundrels, and invites a prosecution for libel.

In that fashion nothing will ever get done. There is no
prosecution, but for all that I do not agree with Mr. Murray
about the men he names. These gentlemen are just comfortable
gentlemen, own brothers to these old generals of ours who will
not take off their spurs. They are probably quite charming
people except that they know nothing of that Fear of God which
searches by heart. Why should they bother?

So many of these after-the-war problems bring one back to the
question of how far the war has put the Fear of God into the
hearts of responsible men. There is really no other reason in
existence that I can imagine why they should ask themselves the
question, "Have I done my best?" and that still more important
question, "Am I doing my best now?" And so while I hear plenty
of talk about the great reorganisations that are to come after
the war, while there is the stir of doubt among the
/rentiers/ whether, after all, they will get paid, while the
unavoidable stresses and sacrifices of the war are making many
people question the rightfulness of much that they did as a
matter of course, and of much that they took for granted, I
perceive there is also something dull and not very articulate in
this European world, something resistant and inert, that is like
the obstinate rolling over of a heavy sleeper after he has been
called upon to get up. "Just a little longer.... Just for
/my/ time."

One thought alone seems to make these more intractable people
anxious. I thrust it in as my last stimulant when everything
else has failed. "There will be /frightful/ trouble with
labour after the war," I say.

They try to persuade themselves that military discipline is
breaking in labour....


What does British labour think of the outlook after the war?

As a distinctive thing British labour does not think. "Class-
conscious labour," as the Marxists put it, scarcely exists in
Britain. The only convincing case I ever met was a bath-chairman
of literary habits Eastbourne. The only people who are, as a
class, class-conscious in the British community are the Anglican
gentry and their fringe of the genteel. Everybody else is
"respectable." The mass of British workers find their thinking
in the ordinary halfpenny papers or in /John Bull./ The so-
called labour papers are perhaps less representative of British
Labour than any other section of the press; the /Labour
Leader/, for example, is the organ of such people as Bertrand
Russell, Vernon Lee, Morel, academic /rentiers/ who know
about as much as of the labour side of industrialism as they do
of cock-fighting. All the British peoples are racially willing
and good-tempered people, quite ready to be led by those they
imagine to be abler than themselves. They make the most cheerful
and generous soldiers in the whole world, without insisting upon
that democratic respect which the Frenchman exacts. They do not
criticise and they do not trouble themselves much about the
general plan of operations, so long as they have confidence in
the quality and good will of their leading. But British soldiers
will of their loading. But British soldiers will hiss a general
when they think he is selfish, unfeeling, or a muff. And the
socialist propaganda has imported ideas of public service into
private employment. Labour in Britain has been growing
increasingly impatient of bad or selfish industrial leadership.
Labour trouble in Great Britain turns wholly upon the idea
crystallised in the one word "profiteer." Legislation and
regulation of hours of labour, high wages, nothing will keep
labour quiet in Great Britain if labour thinks it is being
exploited for private gain.

Labour feels very suspicious of private gain. For that suspicion
a certain rather common type of employer is mainly to blame.
Labour believes that employers is mainly to blame. Labour
believes that employers as a class cheat workmen as a class, plan
to cheat them of their full share in the common output, and drive
hard bargains. It believes that private employers are equally
ready to sacrifice the welfare of the nation and the welfare of
the workers for mere personal advantage. It has a traditional
experience to support these suspicions.

In no department of morals have ideas changed so completely
during the last eight years as in relation to "profits". Eighty
years ago everyone believed in the divine right of property to do
what it pleased its advantages, a doctrine more disastrous
socially than the divine right of kings. There was no such sense
of the immorality of "holding up" as pervades the public
conscience to-day. The worker was expected not only to work, but
to be grateful for employment. The property owner held his
property and handed it out for use and development or not, just
as he thought fit. These ideas are not altogether extinct today.
Only a few days ago I met a magnificent old lady of seventy nine
or eighty, who discoursed upon the wickedness of her gardener in
demanding another shilling a week because of war prices.

She was a valiant and handsome personage. A face that had still
a healthy natural pinkness looked out from under blond curls, and
an elegant and carefully tended hand tossed back some fine old
lace to gesticulate more freely. She had previously charmed her
hearers by sweeping aside certain rumours that were drifting

"Germans invade /Us!/" she cried. "Who'd /let/ 'em,
I'd like to know? Who'd /let/ 'em?"

And then she reverted to her grievance about the gardener.

"I told him that after the war he'd be glad enough to get
anything. Grateful! They'll all be coming back after the war--
all of 'em, glad enough to get anything. Asking for another
shilling indeed!"

Everyone who heard her looked shocked. But that was the tone of
everyone of importance in the dark years that followed the
Napoleonic wars. That is just one survivor of the old tradition.
Another is Blight the solicitor, who goes about bewailing the
fact that we writers are "holding out false hopes of higher
agricultural wages after the war." But these are both
exceptions. They are held to be remarkable people even by their
own class. The mass of property owners and influential people in
Europe to-day no more believe in the sacred right of property to
hold up development and dictate terms than do the more
intelligent workers. The ideas of collective ends and of the
fiduciary nature of property, had been soaking through the
European community for years before the war. The necessity for
sudden and even violent co-operations and submersions of
individuality in a common purpose, is rapidly crystallising out
these ideas into clear proposals.

War is an evil thing, but most people who will not learn from
reason must have an ugly teacher. This war has brought home to
everyone the supremacy of the public need over every sort of
individual claim.

One of the most remarkable things in the British war press is the
amount of space given to the discussion of labour developments
after the war. This in its completeness peculiar to the British
situation. Nothing on the same scale is perceptible in the press
of the Latin allies. A great movement on the part of capitalists
and business organisers is manifest to assure the worker of a
change of heart and a will to change method. Labour is
suspicious, not foolishly but wisely suspicious. But labour is
considering it.

"National industrial syndication," say the business organisers.

"Guild socialism," say the workers.

There is also a considerable amount of talking and writing about
"profit-sharing" and about giving the workers a share in the
business direction. Neither of these ideas appeals to the
shrewder heads among the workers. So far as direction goes their
disposition is to ask the captain to command the ship. So far as
profits go, they think the captain has no more right than the
cabin boy to speculative gains; he should do his work for his pay
whether it is profitable or unprofitable work. There is little
balm for labour discontent in these schemes for making the worker
also an infinitesimal profiteer.

During my journey in Italy and France I met several men who were
keenly interested in business organisation. Just before I
started my friend N, who has been the chief partner in the
building up of a very big and very extensively advertised
American business, came to see me on his way back to America. He
is as interested in his work as a scientific specialist, and as
ready to talk about it to any intelligent and interested hearer.
He was particularly keen upon the question of continuity in the
business, when it behoves the older generation to let in the
younger to responsible management and to efface themselves. He
was a man of five-and-forty. Incidentally he mentioned that he
had never taken anything for his private life out of the great
business he had built up but a salary, "a good salary," and that
now he was gong to grant himself a pension. "I shan't interfere
any more. I shall come right away and live in Europe for a year
so as not to be tempted to interfere. The boys have got to run
it some day, and they had better get their experience while
they're young and capable of learning by it. I did."

I like N's ideas. "Practically," I said, "you've been a public
official. You've treated your business like a public service."

That was his idea.

"Would you mind if it was a public service?"

He reflected, and some disagreeable memory darkened his face.
"Under the politicians?" he said.

I took the train of thought N had set going abroad with me next
day. I had the good luck to meet men who were interesting
industrially. Captain Pirelli, my guide in Italy, has a name
familiar to every motorist; his name goes wherever cars go, spelt
with a big long capital P. Lieutenant de Tessin's name will
recall one of the most interesting experiments in profit-sharing
to the student of social science. I tried over N's problem on
both of them. I found in both their minds just the same attitude
as he takes up towards his business. They think any businesses
that are worthy of respect, the sorts of businesses that interest
them, are public functions. Money-lenders and speculators,
merchants and gambling gentlefolk may think in terms of profit;
capable business directors certainly do nothing of the sort.

I met a British officer in France who is also a landowner. I got
him to talk about his administrative work upon his property. He
was very keen upon new methods. He said he tried to do his duty
by his land.

"How much land?" I asked.

"Just over nine thousand acres," he said.

"But you could manage forty or fifty thousand with little more

"If I had it. In some ways it would be easier."

"What a waste!" I said. "Of course you ought not to /own/
these acres; what you ought to be is the agricultural controller
of just as big an estate of the public lands as you could manage--
with a suitable salary."

He reflected upon that idea. He said he did not get much of a
salary out of his land as it was, and made a regrettable allusion
to Mr. Lloyd George. "When a man tries to do his duty by his
land," he said...

But here running through the thoughts of the Englishman and the
Italian and the Frenchman and the American alike one finds just
the same idea of a kind of officialdom in ownership. It is an
idea that pervades our thought and public discussion to-day
everywhere, and it is an idea that is scarcely traceable at all
in the thought of the early half of the nineteenth century. The
idea of service and responsibility in property has increased and
is increasing, the conception of "hold-up," the usurer's
conception of his right to be bought out of the way, fades. And
the process has been enormously enhanced by the various big-scale
experiments in temporary socialism that have been forced upon the
belligerent powers. Men of the most individualistic quality are
being educated up to the possibilities of concerted collective
action. My friend and fellow-student Y, inventor and business
organiser, who used to make the best steam omnibuses in the
world, and who is now making all sorts of things for the army,
would go pink with suspicious anger at the mere words "inspector"
or "socialism" three or four years ago. He does not do so now.

A great proportion of this sort of man, this energetic directive
sort of man in England, is thinking socialism to-day. They may
not be saying socialism, but they are thinking it. When labour
begins to realise what is adrift it will be divided between two
things: between appreciative co-operation, for which guild
socialism in particular has prepared its mind, and traditional
suspicion. I will not over to guess here which will prevail.


The impression I have of the present mental process in the
European communities is that while the official class and the
/rentier/ class is thinking very poorly and inadequately and
with a merely obstructive disposition; while the churches are
merely wasting their energies in futile self-advertisement; while
the labour mass is suspicious and disposed to make terms for
itself rather than come into any large schemes of reconstruction
that will abolish profit as a primary aim in economic life, there
is still a very considerable movement towards such a
reconstruction. Nothing is so misleading as a careless analogy.
In the dead years that followed the Napoleonic wars, which are
often quoted as a precedent for expectation now, the spirit of
collective service was near its minimum; it was never so strong
and never so manifestly spreading and increasing as it is to-day.

But service to what?

I have my own very strong preconceptions here, and since my
temperament is sanguine they necessarily colour my view. I
believe that this impulse to collective service can satisfy
itself only under the formula that mankind is one state of which
God is the undying king, and that the service of men's collective
needs is the true worship of God. But eagerly as I would grasp
at any evidence that this idea is being developed and taken up by
the general consciousness, I am quite unable to persuade myself
that anything of the sort is going on. I do perceive a search
for large forms into which the prevalent impulse to devotion can
be thrown. But the organised religious bodies, with their creeds
and badges and their instinct for self-preservation at any cost,
stand between men and their spiritual growth in just the same way
the forestallers stand between men and food. Their activities at
present are an almost intolerable nuisance. One cannot say "God"
but some tout is instantly seeking to pluck one into his
particular cave of flummery and orthodoxy. What a rational man
means by God is just God. The more you define and argue about
God the more he remains the same simple thing. Judaism,
Christianity, Islam, modern Hindu religious thought, all agree in
declaring that there is one God, master and leader of all
mankind, in unending conflict with cruelty, disorder, folly and
waste. To my mind, it follows immediately that there can be no
king, no government of any sort, which is not either a
subordinate or a rebel government, a local usurpation, in the
kingdom of God. But no organised religious body has ever had the
courage and honesty to insist upon this. They all pander to
nationalism and to powers and princes. They exists so to pander.
Every organised religion in the world exists only to exploit and
divert and waste the religious impulse in man.

This conviction that the world kingdom of God is the only true
method of human service, is so clear and final in my own mind, it
seems so inevitably the conviction to which all right-thinking
men must ultimately come, that I feel almost like a looker-on at
a game of blind-man's bluff as I watch the discussion of
synthetic political ideas. The blind man thrusts his seeking
hands into the oddest corners, he clutches at chairs and
curtains, but at last he must surely find and hold and feel over
and guess the name of the plainly visible quarry.

Some of the French and Italian people I talked to said they were
fighting for "Civilisation." That is one name for the kingdom of
God, and I have heard English people use it too. But much of the
contemporary thought of England stills wanders with its back to
the light. Most of it is pawing over jerry-built, secondary
things. I have before me a little book, the joint work of Dr.
Grey and Mr. Turner, of an ex-public schoolmaster and a
manufacturer, called /Eclipse or Empire?/ (The title
/World Might or Downfall?/ had already been secured in
another quarter.) It is a book that has been enormously
advertised; it has been almost impossible to escape its column-
long advertisements; it is billed upon the hoardings, and it is
on the whole a very able and right-spirited book. It calls for
more and better education, for more scientific methods, for less
class suspicion and more social explicitness and understanding,
for a franker and fairer treatment of labour. But why does it
call for these things? Does it call for them because they are
right? Because in accomplishing them one serves God?

Not at all. But because otherwise this strange sprawling empire
of ours will drop back into a secondary place in the world.
These two writers really seem to think that the slack workman,
the slacker wealthy man, the negligent official, the conservative
schoolmaster, the greedy usurer, the comfortable obstructive,
confronted with this alternative, terrified at this idea of
something or other called the Empire being "eclipsed," eager for
the continuance of this undefined glory over their fellow-
creatures called "Empire," will perceive the error of their ways
and become energetic, devoted, capable. They think an ideal of
that sort is going to change the daily lives of men.... I
sympathise with their purpose, and I deplore their conception of
motives. If men will not give themselves for righteousness, they
will not give themselves for a geographical score. If they will
not work well for the hatred of bad work, they will not work well
for the hatred of Germans. This "Empire" idea has been cadging
about the British empire, trying to collect enthusiasm and
devotion, since the days of Disraeli. It is, I submit, too big
for the mean-spirited, and too tawdry and limited for the fine
and generous. It leaves out the French and the Italians and the
Belgians and all our blood brotherhood of allies. It has no
compelling force in it. We British are not naturally
Imperialist; we are something greater--or something less. For
two years and a half now we have been fighting against
Imperialism in its most extravagant form. It is a poor incentive
to right living to propose to parody the devil we fight against.

The blind man must lunge again.

For when the right answer is seized it answers not only the
question why men should work for their fellow-men but also why
nation should cease to arm and plan and contrive against nation.
The social problem is only the international problem in retail,
the international problem is only the social one in gross.

My bias rules me altogether here. I see men in social, in
economic and in international affairs alike, eager to put an end
to conflict, inexpressibly weary of conflict and the waste and
pain and death it involves. But to end conflict one must abandon
aggressive or uncordial pretensions. Labour is sick at the idea
of more strikes and struggles after the war, industrialism is
sick of competition and anxious for service, everybody is sick of
war. But how can they end any of these clashes except by the
definition and recognition of a common end which will establish a
standard for the trial of every conceivable issue, to which, that
is, every other issue can be subordinated; and what common end
can there be in all the world except this idea of the world
kingdom of God? What is the good of orienting one's devotion to
a firm, or to class solidarity, or /La Republique
Francais/, or Poland, or Albania, or such love and
loyalty as people profess for King George or King Albert or the
Duc d'Orleans--it puzzles me why--or any such intermediate object
of self-abandonment? We need a standard so universal that the
platelayer may say to the barrister or the duchess, or the Red
Indian to the Limehouse sailor, or the Anzac soldier to the Sinn
Feiner or the Chinaman, "What are we two doing for it?" And to
fill the place of that "it," no other idea is great enough or
commanding enough, but only the world kingdom of God.

However long he may have to hunt, the blind man who is seeking
service and an end to bickerings will come to that at last,
because of all the thousand other things he may clutch at,
nothing else can satisfy his manifest need.



About the end of the war there are two chief ways of thinking,
there is a simpler sort of mind which desires merely a date, and
a more complex kind which wants particulars. To the former class
belong most of the men out at the front. They are so bored by
this war that they would welcome any peace that did not
definitely admit defeat--and examine the particulars later. The
"tone" of the German army, to judge by its captured letters, is
even lower. It would welcome peace in any form. Never in the
whole history of the world has a war been so universally
unpopular as this war.

The mind of the soldier is obsessed by a vision of home-coming
for good, so vivid and alluring that it blots out nearly every
other consideration. The visions of people at home are of plenty
instead of privation, lights up, and the cessation of a hundred
tiresome restrictions. And it is natural therefore that a writer
rather given to guesses and forecasts should be asked very
frequently to guess how long the war has still to run.

All such forecasting is the very wildest of shooting. There are
the chances of war to put one out, and of a war that changes far
faster than the military intelligence. I have made various
forecasts. At the outset I thought that military Germany would
fight at about the 1899 level, would be lavish with cavalry and
great attacks, that it would be reluctant to entrench, and that
the French and British had learnt the lesson of the Boer war
better than the Germans. I trusted to the melodramatic instinct
of the Kaiser. I trusted to the quickened intelligence of the
British military caste. The first rush seemed to bear me out,
and I opened my paper day by day expecting to read of the British
and French entrenched and the Germans beating themselves to death
against wire and trenches. In those days I wrote of the French
being over the Rhine before 1915. But it was the Germans who
entrenched first.

Since then I have made some other attempts. I did not prophesy
at all in 1915, so far as I can remember. If I had I should
certainly have backed the Gallipoli attempt to win. It was the
right thing to do, and it was done abominably. It should have
given us Constantinople and brought Bulgaria to our side; it gave
us a tragic history of administrative indolence and negligence,
and wasted bravery and devotion. I was very hopeful of the
western offensive in 1915; and in 1916 I counted still on our
continuing push. I believe we were very near something like
decision this last September, but some archaic dream of doing it
with cavalry dashed these hopes. The "Tanks" arrived to late to
do their proper work, and their method of use is being worked out
very slowly.... I still believe in the western push, if only we
push it for all we are worth. If only we push it with our
brains, with our available and still unorganised brains; if only
we realise that the art of modern war is to invent and invent and
invent. Hitherto I have always hoped and looked for decision, a
complete victory that would enable the Allies to dictate peace.
But such an expectation is largely conditioned by these delicate
questions of adaptability that my tour of the front has made very
urgent in my mind. A spiteful German American writer has said
that the British would rather kill twenty thousand of their men
than break one general. Even a grain of truth in such a remark
is a very valid reasoning for lengthening one's estimate of the
duration of the war.

There can be no doubt that the Western allies are playing a
winning game upon the western front, and that this is the front
of decision now. It is not in doubt that they are beating the
Germans and shoving them back. The uncertain factor is the rate
at which they are shoving them back. If they can presently get
to so rapid an advance as to bring the average rate since July
1st up to two or three miles a day, then we shall still see the
Allies dictating terms. But if the shove drags on at its present
pace of less than a mile and four thousand prisoners a week over
the limited Somme front only, if nothing is attempted elsewhere
to increase the area of pressure, [*This was written originally
before the French offensive at Verdun.] then the intolerable
stress and boredom of the war will bring about a peace long
before the Germans are decisively crushed. But the war,
universally detested, may go on into 1918 or 1919. Food riots,
famine, and general disorganisation will come before 1920, if it
does. The Allies have a winning game before them, but they seem
unable to discover and promote the military genius needed to
harvest an unquestionable victory. In the long run this may not
be an unmixed evil. Victory, complete and dramatic, may be
bought too dearly. We need not triumphs out of this war but the
peace of the world.

This war is altogether unlike any previous war, and its ending,
like its development, will follow a course of its own. For a
time people's minds ran into the old grooves, the Germans were
going /nach Paris/ and /nach London/; Lord Curzon
filled our minds with a pleasant image of the Bombay Lancers
riding down /Unter den Linden./ But the Versailles
precedent of a council of victors dictating terms to the
vanquished is not now so evidently in men's minds. The utmost
the Allies talk upon now is to say, "We must end the war on
German soil." The Germans talk frankly of "holding out." I have
guessed that the western offensive will be chiefly on German soil
by next June; it is a mere guess, and I admit it is quite
conceivable that the "push" may still be grinding out its daily
tale of wounded and prisoners in 1918 far from that goal.

None of the combatants expected such a war as this, and the
consequence is that the world at large has no idea how to get out
of it. The war may stay with us like a schoolboy caller, because
it does not know how to go. The Italians said as much to me.
"Suppose we get to Innsbruck and Laibach and Trieste," they said,
"it isn't an end!" Lord Northcliffe, I am told, came away from
Italy with the conviction that the war would last six years.

There is the clearest evidence that nearly everyone is anxious to
get out of the war now. Nobody at all, except perhaps a few
people who may be called to account, and a handful of greedy
profit-seekers, wants to keep it going. Quietly perhaps and
unobtrusively, everyone I know is now trying to find the way out
of the war, and I am convinced that the same is the case in
Germany. That is what makes the Peace-at-any-price campaign so
exasperating. It is like being chased by clamorous geese across
a common in the direction in which you want to go. But how are
we to get out--with any credit--in such a way as to prevent a
subsequent collapse into another war as frightful?

At present three programmes are before the world of the way in
which the war can be ended. The first of these assumes a
complete predominance of our Allies. It has been stated in
general terms by Mr. Asquith. Evacuation, reparation, due
punishment of those responsible for the war, and guarantees that
nothing of the sort shall happen again. There is as yet no
mention of the nature of these guarantees. Just exactly what is
to happen to Poland, Austria, and the Turkish Empire does not
appear in this prospectus. The German Chancellor is equally
elusive. The Kaiser has stampeded the peace-at-any-price people
of Great Britain by proclaiming that Germany wants peace. We
knew that. But what sort of peace? It would seem that we are
promised vaguely evacuation and reparation on the western
frontier, and in addition there are to be guarantees--but it is
quite evident that they are altogether different guarantees from
Mr. Asquith's--that nothing of the sort is ever to happen again.
The programme of the British and their Allies seems to
contemplate something like a forcible disarmament and military
occupation of Belgium, the desertion of Serbia and Russia, and
the surrender to Germany of every facility for a later and more
successful German offensive in the west. But it is clear that on
these terms as stated the war must go on to the definite defeat
of one side or the other, or a European chaos. They are
irreconcilable sets of terms.

Yet it is hard to say how they can be modified on either side, if
the war is to be decided only between the belligerents and by
standards of national interest only, without reference to any
other considerations. Our Allies would be insane to leave the
Hohenzollern at the end of the war with a knife in his hand,
after the display he has made of his quality. To surrender his
knife means for the Hohenzollern the abandonment of his dreams,
the repudiation of the entire education and training of Germany
for half a century. When we realise the fatality of this
antagonism, we realise how it is that, in this present
anticipation of hell, the weary, wasted and tormented nations
must still sustain their monstrous dreary struggle. And that is
why this thought that possible there may be a side way out, a
sort of turning over of the present endlessly hopeless game into
a new and different and manageable game through the introduction
of some external factor, creeps and spreads as I find it creeping
and spreading.

That is what the finer intelligences of America are beginning to
realise, and why men in Europe continually turn their eyes to
America, with a surmise, with a doubt.

A point of departure for very much thinking in this matter is the
recent speech of President Wilson that heralded the present
discussion. All Europe was impressed by the truth, and by
President Wilson's recognition of the truth, that from any other
great war after this America will be unable to abstain. Can
America come into this dispute at the end to insist upon
something better than a new diplomatic patchwork, and so obviate
the later completer Armageddon? Is there, above the claims and
passions of Germany, France, Britain, and the rest of them, a
conceivable right thing to do for all mankind, that it might also
be in the interest of America to support? Is there a Third Party
solution, so to speak, which may possibly be the way out from
this war?

And further I would go on to ask, is not this present exchange of
Notes, appealing to the common sense of the world, really the
beginning, and the proper beginning, of the unprecedented Peace
Negotiations to end this unprecedented war? And, I submit, the
longer this open discussion goes on before the doors close upon
the secret peace congress the better for mankind.


Let me sketch out here what I conceive to be the essentials of a
world settlement. Some of the items are the mere commonplaces of

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