If he has his way we shall have to struggle harder for our share of universal business. More than this, it will block what is likely to be one of Germany’s schemes for rehabilitation. Here is the possible procedure:
Germany’s financial position after the war will be badly strained. She can be saved only by an effective export policy. To do this she must seek all possible neutral markets; and to get them quickly she will offer broad—even extravagant—reciprocity programmes. They may conflict with the proposed Franco-British programmes of protection and embargo against neutral trade interests.
But if the Franco-British programme leaves the allied markets for goods and money open, as before the war, the German reciprocity scheme will fail of its effect by the sheer force of natural competition. Hence England can throttle the re-establishment of German credit by a free and liberal trade policy, open to all the world. Though poor, after the war she can actually be stronger, in view of her great army and navy, her new individual efficiency, and renewed commercial vitality.
Will all this keep Germany out? There are many people, even in England, who think not. Already Germans by the thousands are becoming naturalised citizens of Holland, Spain, Switzerland and Denmark; building factories there and shipping the product into the enemy strongholds, stamped with neutral names. Much of the “Swiss” chocolate you buy in Paris was made by Teutonic hands.
A French manufacturer who bought a grinding machine in Zurich the other day thought it looked familiar; and when he compared it with a picture in a German catalogue he found it was the identical article, made in Germany, which had been offered to him by a Frankfort firm six months before the war began. Only certificates of origin will bar out the German product.
Amid the hatred that the war has engendered, England wonders at the price she will pay for German exclusion. Men like Sir John Simon solemnly assert in Parliament: “In proportion as we divert German trade after the war we throw the trade of the Central European Powers more and more into the hands of America, with the result that, unhappily, if we became involved in another European war we should not be able to count on the friendly neutrality which America has shown in this war.” Others inquire: “What of the future trade of India, the great part of whose cotton crop before the war went to Central Europe?”
Sober-minded and farseeing men, in England and elsewhere, believe that, despite the ravage of her men and trade, Germany will come back commercially.
“You must not forget,” said one of them, “that, no matter how badly she is beaten, Germany will still be a going business concern. She will have an immense plant; her genius of efficiency and organisation cannot be killed. Through her magnificent industrial education system she has trained millions of boys to take the vacant stools and stands in shop and mill. England and France have no such reserves. Besides, if we pauperise Germany, no one—not even Belgium—will get a pound of indemnity.”