“These are wild and foolish suggestions”—that is possible. They have never, however, been discussed with a view to the objects in question. All efforts in this direction have been concentrated upon an attempt to realize mechanically, by some short and royal road, a result far too great and beneficent to be achieved so cheaply.
Before our Conferences, official or unofficial, can have much success, the parties to them must divest their minds of certain illusions which at present dominate them. Until that is done, you might as reasonably expect two cannibals to arrive at a workable scheme for consuming one another. The elementary conceptions, the foundations of the thing are unworkable. Our statecraft is still founded on a sort of political cannibalism, upon the idea that nations progress by conquering, or dominating one another. So long as that is our conception of the relationship of human groups we shall always stand in danger of collision, and our schemes of association and co-operation will always break down.
Many of the points touched upon in the last two chapters are brought out clearly in a recent letter addressed to the Press by my friend and colleague Mr. A.W. Haycock. In this letter to the Press he says:—
If you will examine systematically, as I have done, the comments which have appeared in the Liberal Press, either in the form of leading articles, or in letters from readers, concerning Lord Roberts’ speech, you will find that though it is variously described as “diabolical,” “pernicious,” “wicked,” “inflammatory” and “criminal,” the real fundamental assumptions on which the whole speech is based, and which, if correct, justify it, are by implication admitted; at any rate, in not one single case that I can discover are they seriously challenged.
Now, when you consider this, it is the most serious fact of the whole incident—far more disquieting in reality than the fact of the speech itself, especially when we remember that Lord Roberts did but adopt and adapt the arguments already used with more sensationalism and less courtesy by Mr. Winston Churchill himself.
The protests against Lord Roberts’ speech take the form of denying the intention of Germany to attach this country. But how can his critics be any more aware of the intentions of Germany—65 millions of people acted upon by all sorts of complex political and social forces—than is Lord Roberts? Do we know the intention of England with reference to Woman’s Suffrage or Home Rule or Tariff Reform? How, therefore, can we know the intentions of “Germany”?
Lord Roberts, with courtesy, in form at least and with the warmest tribute to the “noble and imaginative patriotism” of German policy, assumed that that policy would follow the same general impulse that our own has done in the past, and would necessarily follow it since