Some people take great pleasure in analysing White Books and Grey Books and Orange Books and Yellow Books without end, and proving this or that from them—as of course out of such a mass of material they can easily do, according to their fancy. But when one remembers that almost all the documents in these books have been written with a view to their later publication; and when one remembers also that, however incompetent diplomatists as a class may be, no one supposes them to be such fools as to entrust their most important ententes and understandings with each other to printed records—why, one comes to the conclusion that the analysis of all these State papers is not a very profitable occupation.
How mad, how hopelessly mad, it all seems I With fifteen to twenty million soldiers already mobilized, and more than half that number in the fighting lines; with engines of appalling destruction by land and sea, and over the land and under the sea; with Northern France, Belgium, and parts of Germany, Poland, Russia, Servia, and Austria drenched in blood; the nations exhausting their human and material resources in savage conflict—this war, marking the climax, and (let us hope) the finale of our commercial civilization, is the most monstrous the old Earth has ever seen. And yet, as in a hundred earlier and lesser wars, we hardly know the why and wherefore of it. It is like the sorriest squabbles of children and schoolboys—utterly senseless and unreasoning. But broken bodies and limbs and broken hearts and an endless river of blood and suffering are the outcome.
THE ROOTS OF THE GREAT WAR
In the present chapter I wish especially to dwell on (1) the danger to society, mentioned in the Introduction, of class-ascendancy and class-rule; and (2) the hope for the future in the international solidarity of the workers.
Through all the mist of lies and slander created on such an occasion—by which each nation after a time succeeds in proving that its own cause is holy while that of its opponent is wicked and devilish; through the appeals to God and Justice, common to both sides; through the shufflings and windings of diplomats, and the calculated attitudes of politicians, adopted for public approval; through the very real rage and curses of soldiers, the desperate tears and agony of women, the murder of babes, and the smoke of burning towns and villages: it is difficult, indeed, to arrive at clear and just conclusions.