4. The New Spirit.—The broader social effects which showed themselves in the early days of the war are illustrated by the remarkable growth of State Socialism. The nation became a community, united in a single purpose; breaches which many imagined to be permanent, cleavages which were thought to be fundamental, no longer existed. None was for a party; all were for the State. The three political parties formed a Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, and altogether impossible teams of people appeared on public platforms with a common aim; Mr. Ben Tillett, in words that might have fallen from the lips of a Tory ex-Cabinet minister, declared that “every resource at our command must be utilised for the purpose of preserving our country and nation”; the anti-militarist trade union movement earnestly appealed to those of its members who were ex-non-commissioned officers to re-enlist; the Queen and Miss Mary MacArthur were members of the same committee. This unanimity, which has pushed into the background for the present causes of difference, has led the vast majority of people to submit cheerfully to the will of the State. The unity of to-day must necessarily make its influence felt even when the reason of its existence has passed away. In the meantime it is assisting in the growth of a new spirit which the war itself has fostered. The social outlook of the people and their attitude towards the larger problems of life is changing, and patriotism has taken a deeper meaning.
So far we have devoted our attention to some of the immediate effects of the war. But on the return of peace there will be new influences at work, the immediate and ultimate effects of which will powerfully affect the course of future development. The European War will mark an era in international politics. It may also stand as a landmark in the history of the social and economic life of Western Europe. It is not unlikely that in this respect it will surpass in its importance all the wars of the past. The reasons are to be found in the magnitude and costliness