The War and Democracy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 414 pages of information about The War and Democracy.
of the war, the highly developed character and the inter-relatedness of foreign commerce, the possibility of new industrial forces coming into play, and the influence of the war on the political and social ideas of the European peoples.  It may be that in this country the war will let loose economic forces destined to modify industrial organisation very profoundly; and that social forces, especially on the Continent, will be liberated to work towards fuller political freedom.  These things lie in the veiled future, and prophecy is dangerous.  We may, however, turn to consider some of the probable effects the war will leave behind it.


1. General Effects.—­When the war comes to an end, an immediate revival of commercial relations between the combatant States and a general revival of foreign trade cannot be reasonably expected.  After the Napoleonic Wars, English manufacturers, assuming the eagerness of continental peoples to buy their goods, were met with the obvious fact that impoverished nations are not good customers.  When peaceful relations are resumed in Europe, we shall recognise very vividly the extent to which industry and commerce on the Continent have been closed down.  Even assuming that British production continues, Germany, Belgium and Austria will have little to send us in exchange.  The closing of the overseas markets of Germany, and the consequent shrinkage in production, the disruption of normal industrial life by the withdrawal of millions of men to join the colours, and the abnormal character of existing trade, due to the needs of the armies in the field, are not conditions favourable to the easy resumption of normal commercial relations.  The dislocation of the mechanism of industry and commerce in Europe, on a much larger scale than ever before—­a mechanism which has with growing international relations and interdependence become more complicated and more sensitive in recent years—­cannot be immediately remedied by a stroke of the pen or the fiat of an emperor.  The credit system upon which modern industry and commerce are built depends upon mutual confidence.  This confidence will not be restored among the combatant nations immediately on the cessation of war; it will require time to grow.  Further, Europe during the war has been spending its substance and must emerge much poorer.  This applies not only to combatant States, but to neutral countries, some of which have floated loans to meet the abnormal expenditure thrown upon them by prolonged mobilisation.  The capital and credit of a large number of people will have suffered great loss or have vanished into thin air.  Houses, shops, and buildings of all kinds, produce manufactured and unmanufactured, bridges, ships, railway stations and stock of enormous value will have been destroyed.  The community will have been impoverished, not only by the expenditure of great armies and the destruction

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The War and Democracy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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