The War and Democracy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 414 pages of information about The War and Democracy.
stable European system by a peaceful “Concert of Europe” has broken down.  Once, in the Holy Alliance, that Concert itself became an intolerable tyranny.  Many men to-day hope to secure peace by re-establishing the Concert of Europe on a democratic basis, but it may well be doubted whether any such system can be permanent, unless there be a radical reform in the mind and character not only of European statesmen but of the European peoples.  We shall discuss this later, but meanwhile we may say this at least.  A balance of power is an imperfect conception.  It is a rough and ready—­almost barbarous—­policy.  The best that can be said for it is that no alternative policy has been devised, or at least none has succeeded.  Every one of us who has a spark of idealism believes that the day will come when it shall give place to some more perfect system.  But at the present day not only international politics but also home politics are governed by this idea of a balance of power.  No democracy has yet been able to establish itself in any country except by virtue of a continual conflict between class and class, between interest and interest, between capital and labour, and international conflicts are but the reflection of the domestic conflicts within each State; both are continual unsuccessful attempts to reach a stable equilibrium, and they can only be ended by a true fusion of hearts and wills.

Sec.4. The Estimation of National Forces.—­It has been necessary to undertake this long discussion in order to give a more or less clear idea of the work done by diplomacy in maintaining a stable international system.  Arising out of this we have now to consider the fourth class of work—­and the most difficult—­which the Foreign Office has to perform.  For want of a better name we may call it—­

(4) The estimation of national forces.  Nations are not mere agglomerations of individuals; they have each their own character, their own feelings, and their own life.  Science has done little to determine the laws of their growth, but, as we have seen, each nation does grow, reaches out slowly—­almost insensibly—­in this or that direction, and gathers to itself new interests which in their turn give new impulse to its growth.  Perhaps the best simile that we can use for the foreign policy of the world is that of a rather tangled garden, where creepers are continually growing and taking root in new soil and where life is therefore always threatening and being threatened by new life.  The point is that we are dealing with life—­with its growth and decay; not with the movements of pieces on a chequer-board.

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The War and Democracy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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