The War and Democracy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about The War and Democracy.
The national—­as opposed to the individual—­poverty which the war will cause may itself be a force making for good.  As Mr. Lloyd George well said, “A great flood of luxury and of sloth which had submerged the land is receding and a new Britain is appearing.  We can see for the first time the fundamental things that matter in life, and that have been obscured from our vision by the tropical growth of prosperity."[2] There seems a prospect of an era of social growth and regeneration following the war.  In other European countries there may be equally important developments.  It may well be that in the event of German defeat the democratic movements of that country will gain a great impetus from the blow given to the Prussian hegemony.  In Russia there is an expectation of a new freedom.  At the first meeting of the Duma after the opening of hostilities the Labour Party declared its opinion that “through the agony of the battlefield the brotherhood of the Russian people will be strengthened and a common desire created to free the land from its terrible internal troubles.”

[Footnote 1:  The Nation, Sept. 19, 1914.]

[Footnote 2:  Speech at the Queen’s Hall, London, Sept. 19, 1914.]

It must be admitted, on the other hand, that there is a possibility of a period of reaction and torpor after the strain of the war; the country will be seriously impoverished, and there will be a heavy burden of taxation in spite of some probable relief from the burden of armaments.  Still, social evils and injustices will be more obvious than ever.  There will be many new national and imperial problems clamouring to be faced.  The intellectual ferment which has had its source in the war will remain at work to widen the mental outlook and deepen the social consciousness.  On the whole, it will probably be true to say that, though circumstances may postpone it, there will sooner or later arise a great movement pledged to cleanse our national life of those features which bar the way to human freedom and happiness.

It also seems undeniable that the deep interest taken by large numbers of people in the war will rouse them to a sense of the importance of problems of government and of foreign policy.  The working men’s committees on foreign affairs of half a century ago, which have left no trace behind them, may be revived in a new form, and the differentiation of economic and social questions from political and foreign problems may be obliterated.  The importance of the gradually widening area of vision among the more thoughtful section of the people can hardly be exaggerated.  In no respect is the broadening of outlook more discernible than in the sphere of imperial affairs.  Hitherto the Empire to the working man has been regarded as almost mythical.  In so far as it did exist, it was conceived as a happy hunting ground for the capitalist exploiter.  The spontaneous assistance given to the mother country by the colonies and dependencies

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The War and Democracy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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