« AnteriorContinuar »
documents of the highest importance which will not be found elsewhere.
Economic policy should be based not upon theory, but upon experience; not upon fancy, but upon fact. In considering the problem of developing the prosperity of Great Britain and of the Empire, of paying off the war debt, and of improving the lot of the workers, I have availed myself of the lessons afforded by England's war with Republican and Napoleonic France and by the American Civil War. Both were proportionately about as costly as the present struggle seems likely to prove. Both were followed not by industrial collapse and financial ruin, as was believed by many at the time, but by unprecedented economic development and boundless prosperity. I have endeavoured to show that the Great War, far from impoverishing Great Britain and the British Empire, should greatly enrich them, provided a wise economic policy in accordance with historical experience is pursued. The exhaustive and authoritative figures given in support of that contention will be new to most readers and should prove of the highest interest to financiers, business men, and others.
Government, rightly considered, is not a pastime, but a business. Like every business, it has its rules, which may be learned from those who have been most successful in the science and art of directing public affairs. National organisation and administration, like economic policy, should be based, not upon abstract principles, which may prove inapplicable, nor upon historic precedents, which may be misleading, but upon universal experience. In considering the inefficiency of democratic government as revealed by the War and the necessary reform of Great Britain's national organisation, I have availed myself of the views of the greatest statesmen and administrators and the soundest thinkers of all times from Aristotle, Isocrates, Thucydides, and Polybius to Cardinal Richelieu, the elder Pitt, Frederick the Great, Napoleon, Alexander Hamilton, and Bismarck. The numerous quotations given should prove of value to all who desire to be acquainted with the views of the greatest experts in national organisation.
The present volume, like my other books, is perhaps rather a storehouse of facts than an expression of my own views. I hope that, nevertheless, it will prove thoroughly readable. It may be of value to statesmen, politicians, publicists, and the general public because of the important documentary and statistical evidence which it contains.
The contents of the book are, for the convenience of readers, briefly summed up in its first chapter, The Peace Congress and After.' All the other chapters have previously appeared in The Nineteenth Century and After. They attracted a great deal of attention at the time, and many of them were reprinted in extenso not only on the Continent, in the British Dominions, and in the United States, but even in Japan and China. I have been urged to collect and to republish them in book form, and I am allowed to do so by the courtesy of Mr. Skilbeck, the editor of The Nineteenth Century review, to whom I herewith give my best thanks. The original articles have been revised, brought up to date, and organically connected, and considerable additions have been made to them.
Although it may seem immodest, I would in conclusion say a few words as to my literary activity in the past. Ever since 1900, when I began my career as a publicist, I have warned this country of the danger of a war with Germany. In all my books and in innumerable articles printed in the leading reviews and elsewhere I have urged unceasingly the necessity of diplomatic, military, and economic preparation, the necessity of abandoning the policy of 'splendid isolation' for one of alliances with France, Russia, Japan, and the United States, the necessity of strengthening, developing, and organising the Empire towards the day of trial, the necessity of strengthening the fleet, the necessity of creating a national army, the necessity of strengthening the British industries, and especially the iron and steel industry, by a policy of deliberate development, by a protective tariff, the necessity of vastly increasing agricultural production by peasant proprietorship and various other means, the necessity of developing the neglected railway and canal systems of Great Britain, the desirability of an Anglo-American reunion, &c. I have co-operated with Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, Lord Roberts, and other prominent men. It is a certain satisfaction that all the reforms which so many have urged in vain before the War seem likely to be carried out in consequence of it. The ways of Providence are wonderful. Iron is tried by fire and nations by war. A new and a greater Britain is arising. The War may not only make the British Empire a reality, but bring about an Anglo-American reunion. The War, far from being an unmitigated evil, may prove a blessing to the British race.
Many eminent people have facilitated my task by their assistance, their advice, and their encouragement. I would herewith most cordially thank them for their kindness and support.
J. ELLIS BARKER.
LONDON, June 1917.