It is a tempting prophecy; but the outlook is not propitious. Germany, Prussian and South German, noble, bourgeois, and working class, has rallied round the Emperor in this crisis of national history, as the brutal and cynical directors of German policy calculated that she would. For the Social Democratic Movement the war comes with a peculiar appeal. It is a war against Russia, a country about which the German workman knows little and understands less, but which he considers to be the home of a reaction far blacker than that of his own country. A war of aggression against the Western Powers would have found the Social Democrats divided. By representing Russia as the aggressor and the Western Powers as the shameless allies of the “Mongol,” German diplomacy, more successful within than without, made certain of enlisting Socialist support.
Moreover, the Socialists too have to pass through a natural reaction from their refusal to recognise the forces of Nationality—from Utopian dreams of international action by the peoples across the barriers of separate governments. For the first time in the history of the party, German Socialism has been allowed to be patriotic. It is an exhilarating and heartening experience, and it is certain to leave an indelible mark upon the spirit of the movement. The great party organisation, hitherto confined to the sterile work of agitation, is being used to cope with the many problems created by the war; and this work, rather than revolutionary agitation, is likely to occupy it for some time to come.
A veil has fallen upon Germany: German books and papers are stopped at our ports: we cannot know through what thoughts the German nation is passing. But as we look with the mind’s eye across the North Sea, past devastated Belgium to the populous towns of industrial Germany, we see a people skilful, highly instructed, and mechanically intelligent, yet equally devoid either of personal initiative or of great and inspiring leadership. Two generations of Prussian education have left German public life practically empty of names of more than local reputation. Great changes are needed—a change of institutions and a change of spirit; yet whence this will come we cannot divine. Only, as democrats, we can say with confidence that if the true spirit of the German people is to be liberated from its long imprisonment, its freedom must be won, not from without, but from within. Not Europe but only the Germans can make Germany herself again.
1. GERMAN HISTORY
BRYCE. Holy Roman Empire. (Deals with mediaeval Germany, but also contains a most interesting final chapter on Germany in the Nineteenth Century, written in 1873.) 1904. (7s. 6d.)
CARLYLE. Frederick the Great, vol. i. (Best account in English of the earlier history of Prussia.) (2s. 6d.)