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THE WAR AND DEMOCRACY
R.W. SETON-WATSON, D.Litt.
J. DOVER WILSON
ALFRED E. ZIMMERN
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The Workers’ Educational Association
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When wilt Thou save the people?
O God of mercy, when?
Not kings and lords, but nations!
Not thrones and crowns, but men!
Flowers of Thy heart, O God, are they;
Let them not pass, like weeds, away—
Their heritage a sunless day.
God save the people!
“To remake the map of Europe, and to rearrange the peoples in accordance
with the special mission assigned to each of them by geographical, ethnical
and historical conditions—this is the first essential step for all.”
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For many years past the prospect of universal war has haunted the dreams of
pacificists and militarists alike. Many of us, without denying its growing
menace, hoped against hope that it might be averted by the gradual
strengthening of international goodwill and mutual intercourse, and the
steady growth of democratic influences and political thought. But our
misgivings proved more prophetic than our hopes; and last August the great
war came upon us like a thief in the night. After four months of war we
feel that, in spite of the splendid response of the nation at large, in
spite of a unanimity which has no parallel in our previous history, there
are still large sections of the community who fail to realise the vastness
of the issues at stake, the formidable nature of the forces ranged against
us, and the true inner significance of the struggle. And yet all that is
worth living for depends upon the outcome of this war—for ourselves the
future of the democratic ideal in these islands and in the British Empire
at large, for the peoples of Europe deliverance from competing armaments
and the yoke of racial tyranny. But before our future can be secured,
sacrifices will be required of every citizen, and in a free community
sacrifice can only spring from knowledge. Moreover, if we are to put an end
to the intolerable situation of an unwilling Europe in arms, public opinion
must think out very carefully the great problems which have been thrown
into the melting-pot and be prepared for the day of settlement.
The present volume has been written as a guide to the study of the
underlying causes and issues of the war. It does not pretend to cover the
whole of so vast a field, and it will have attained its aim if it provides
the basis for future discussion. It originated in the experience of its
five writers at the Summer Schools for working-class students held in
connection with the Workers’ Educational Associations. In the early days of
August, at the outbreak of the war, Summer Schools were in full swing
at Oxford, Cambridge, Eton, Bangor, and Durham, and it at once became
apparent, not merely that the word “citizen” had suddenly acquired a new
depth and significance for the men and women of our generation, but also
that for the individual citizen himself a large new field of study and
discussion had been opened up on subjects and issues hitherto unfamiliar.
This book was planned to meet the need there expressed, but it is hoped
that it may be found useful by a wider circle of readers.
We have called the book The War and Democracy, because our guiding idea
throughout has been the sense of the great new responsibilities, both of
thought and action, which the present situation lays upon British Democracy
and on believers in democracy throughout the world.
In devoting one chapter to a survey of the issues raised for settlement by
the war, we must disclaim most emphatically all idea of dividing the
lion’s skin before the animal has been killed. Our object has not been to
prophesy, but merely to stimulate thought and discussion. The field is so
vast and complicated that unless public opinion begins to mobilise without
further delay and to form clear ideas as to how the principles laid down
by our statesmen are to be converted into practice, it may find itself
confronted, as it was confronted in 1814, with a situation which it can
neither understand nor control, and with a settlement which will perpetuate
many of the abuses which this war ought to remove. Our best excuse is
supplied by the attitude of many leaders of German political thought—men
like Franz von Liszt, Ostwald; and Paul Rohrbach—who are already mapping
out the world according to their victorious fancies.
R.W.S.-W. J.D.W. A.E.Z. A.G.
By ALFRED E. ZIMMERN, M.A., late Fellow and Tutor of New College, Oxford;
Author of The Greek Commonwealth
THE NATIONAL IDEA IN EUROPE, 1789-1914 By J. DOVER WILSON, M.A., Gonville
and Cains College, Cambridge, late Lecturer in the University of
1. NATION AND NATIONALITY 2. THE BIRTH OF NATIONALISM: POLAND AND THE
FRENCH REVOLUTION 3. THE CONGRESS OF VIENNA AND THE INTERNATIONAL IDEA
4. THE NATIONAL IDEA IN BELGIUM AND THE PROBLEM OF SMALL NATIONS 5. THE
NATIONAL IDEA IN ITALY: THE IDEAL TYPE 6. THE NATIONAL IDEA IN GERMANY: A
CASE OF ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT 7. THE MAP OF EUROPE, 1814-1914
GERMANY By ALFRED E. ZIMMERN