The War and Democracy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about The War and Democracy.
the English people had to reckon.  We had felt the breath of war actually on our cheek, and a large section of English sentiment revolted from it.  A demand was raised for a democratic policy of peace.  Three years later, on August 3, 1914, when Parliament met to decide the happiness or sufferings of the quarter of the human race comprised in the British Empire, the same demand was voiced in a series of speeches which accurately expressed the belief that peace was the policy of the people, while war was the secret aim of their rulers.  Mr. T. Edmund Harvey, M.P., spoke as follows: 

“I am convinced that this war, for the great masses of the countries of Europe, and not for our own country alone, is no people’s war.  It is a war that has been made ... by men in high places, by diplomatists working in secret, by bureaucrats who are out of touch with the peoples of the world, who are the remnant of an older evil civilisation which is disappearing by gradual and peaceful methods.”

Mr. Ponsonby, M.P., spoke in the same sense: 

“I trust that, even though it may be late, the Foreign Secretary will use every endeavour to the very last moment, disregarding the tone of messages and the manner of Ambassadors, but looking to the great central interests of humanity and civilisation to keep this country in a state of peace.”

Democracy means peace;—­can we accept this assumption?  Contrasts are sometimes illuminating, and it may be well to turn from the Parliamentary debate of August 3 to an article written sixty-two years ago in an English review by the greatest democrat of his time.  In April 1852 Mazzini published in the Westminster Review an appeal to England to intervene on the Continent in favour of the revolutionary movements in progress there since 1848.  The following is an extract from that article: 

“The menace of the foreigner weighs upon the smaller States; the last sparks of European liberty are extinguished under the dictatorial veto of the retrograde powers.  England—­the country of Elizabeth and Cromwell—­has not a word to say in favour of the principle to which she owes her existence.  If England persist in maintaining this neutral, passive, selfish part, she will have to expiate it.  A European transformation is inevitable.  When it shall take place, when the struggle shall burst forth at twenty places at once, when the old combat between fact and right is decided, the peoples will remember that England had stood by, an inert, immovable, sceptical witness of their sufferings and efforts....  England will find herself some day a third-rate power, and to this she is being brought by a want of foresight in her statesmen.  The nation must rouse herself and shake off the torpor of her Government.”

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The War and Democracy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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