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It led to a series of wars in the course of which the Treaty of Vienna was torn to pieces.
The great international questions mentioned will not be definitively solved at the Peace Congress. They will occupy the nations during many ensuing decades. However, during the period immediately following the problems of foreign policy, will probably be overshadowed by economic problems and by questions of domestic policy. The gigantic War has created huge national debts and has destroyed incalculable values. The British War debt seems likely to amount to at least £5,000,000,000. It seems questionable whether the British people will receive any compensation from their opponents, for the devastated countries, Belgium, Serbia, Poland, Roumania, France, and Russia, have the first claim upon German indemnities. It may also happen that Britain's allies will not be able to repay the bulk of the sums advanced to them. The experience of the Napoleonic wars, when England financed the Allies, may repeat itself.
British taxation has been trebled in the course of the War, and trebled taxation may continue indefinitely. The vast war expenditures incurred may, however, not ruin Great Britain. I have shown in two lengthy chapters devoted to the economic problems that the War, far from impoverishing the country, may greatly enrich it. The twenty years' war against Republican and Napoleonic France created a gigantic burden of debt. It led to the trebling of taxation. The vast increase in taxation stimulated the latent energies of the nation. I have shown that Great Britain's industrial prosperity arose during and after the Great War, and was caused chiefly by the vastly increased demands of the tax-collector. I have further shown by most interesting and important statistics that the American workers engaged in manufacturing, mining, transport, agriculture, &c., produce per head about three times as much as their English colleagues because they employ better and three times as powerful machinery and possess a better economic organisation, &c. It follows that Great Britain can treble her yearly output, her yearly income, and her national wealth by Americanising her industries. The Americanisation of the British industries has already begun. I have shown in the chapter, ‘Britain's Coming Industrial Supremacy,' that in the course of the War production per man has approximately doubled. Production per man can once more be doubled, and more than doubled, to the great benefit of the workers and of the nation as a whole. Increased production must be based upon improved machinery, and the better machinery is, the smaller is the exertion of the worker.
America's vast industrial advance, as that of Great Britain, was caused by a ruinously expensive war. The vastly increased demands of the tax-collector consequent upon the Civil War led not only to the greatest improvement in industrial production, but also to the rapid opening up of the West. The British Dominions have advanced comparatively slowly in wealth and population because life has been too easy for the inhabitants. Men work hard only if compelled. The Dominions would be forced to open up their gigantic domain with the greatest energy should they decide to take over an adequate part of the financial burden imposed by the War. The War has been fought for the benefit of future generations. It is therefore only fair that posterity should help in bearing the burden.
The War Debt should become an imperial obligation. Part of the undeveloped resources of the Empire should be assigned to its service and repayment. Part should be paid by the present generation. The Americans combine with their census of population a census of production and wealth. By taking regularly a similar census of production and of wealth throughout the British Empire, the ability of every part of the Empire to assist in bearing the financial burden caused by the War might most easily and most fairly be ascertained. Every five or ten years the financial burden might be redistributed in accordance with the changes in wealth and income which have taken place in the meantime.
High taxation in countries of boundless latent resources is a vast advantage. It is as necessary to a State which desires to advance quickly as adequate ballast is to a ship. The Empire is four times as large as the United States. Nevertheless the United States are far wealthier than is the gigantic British Empire. The wealth of the United States is greater than that of the British Empire, not because the former has larger natural resources, but because the boundless resources of the British Empire have either been insufficiently developed or have been completely neglected. If the War should bring about the deliberate and energetic development of the Empire, and if the Imperial domain should become as highly developed as the territory of the great Republic, the wealth of the British Empire should no longer be inferior to that of the United States, but should be four times as great.
Among the internal problems of Great Britain which will come up for settlement after the War, the reorganisation of the body politic will probably occupy the foremost place. It has been treated fully in the chapter, ‘Democracy and the Iron Broom of War.' Democracy has displayed its failings during the struggle. The great problem consists in combining liberty and popular government, which means control by the many, with efficiency in administration and execution. The jointly responsible Cabinet has proved improvident, dilatory, and extremely inefficient. The reform introduced by Mr. Lloyd George is only a temporary makeshift. The question will have to be settled whether the national executive should be in the hands of a single man or of an inexpert committee. The views of the greatest statesmen of all times favour decidedly a one-man executive. The Americans, when establishing their republic, after mature consideration and deliberation, chose a one-man executive. I believe Great Britain will be wise in following America's example. The reform could most easily be effected by making the Prime Minister solely responsible for governmental action, by making the heads of the great departments the Prime Minister's subordinates. The American Constitution proved its excellence in time of danger at the outbreak of the Civil War. In the chapter, How America became a Nation in Arms,' I have shown how a one-man executive saved the United States from disaster. During the Civil War the United States raised a gigantic army and defeated in the course of four years the rebellious South. That war destroyed nearly a million lives and cost two-thirds of America's national wealth. America's Civil War should be to the democracies an inspiration and a warning against unpreparedness. Had the United States possessed an army of 30,000 men, the war would either not have broken out or it would have been ended in a few weeks. Democracy has to pay dearly for its shortsightedness and neglect. It is inspiring that an unmilitary, unruly, unorganised, and peaceful people should have been able to raise a gigantic and most efficient army. Successful improvisation should, however, not blind us to the danger of neglecting military preparation in time of peace. The United States in 1861 and England in 1914 were able to create colossal armies because they were given sufficient time to organise themselves for war. The greatest latent resources and the highest patriotism would prove unavailing if in a future war a strong military Power should succeed in seizing at its outbreak the indispensable centres of resistance, such as the seats of the iron and steel industry.
From the British point of view the most important results of the War are two. The War should lead to the unification of the Empire, and it may possibly lead to the reunion of the British race. I have advocated for many years an Anglo-American reunion, and I have summed up the arguments in favour of such a reunion in the concluding chapter of this book.
THE PROBLEM OF CONSTANTINOPLE1
As foresight is the essence of statesmanship, it seems opportune to consider the greatest and most difficult problems with which the future Peace Conference will have to deal. This is all the more necessary as some of the questions which will have to be settled may cause differences among the Allies, unless the nations and their statesmen have previously arrived at some understanding as to the great lines on which the settlement should take place. Such a preliminary agreement had unfortunately not been effected when, a hundred years ago, at the Congress of Vienna, the entire map of Europe was recast. Owing to the resulting differences and the return of Napoleon from Elba, the diplomats hastily concluded a treaty which left the greatest and most dangerous problems badly solved or not solved at all. Guided by the principle of legitimacy, they considered the claims of the rulers, but disregarded those of the nations. At the Congress of Vienna, Germany and Italy were cut up, notwithstanding the protests of the German and Italian people. It was only natural that the work done in haste and under pressure by the diplomats at Vienna led to a series of avoidable wars, and especially to the Wars of Nationality of 1859, 1866, and 1870–71, by which a united Italy and a united Germany were evolved.
The nations and their rulers seem fairly agreed as to
The Nineteenth Century and After, March 1915.