The War and Democracy

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The War and Democracy

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The War and Democracy
by R.W. Seton-Watson, J. Dover Wilson, Alfred E. Zimmern, and Arthur Greenwood
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Title: The War and Democracy
Authors: R.W. Seton-Watson, J. Dover Wilson, Alfred E. Zimmern, and Arthur Greenwood
Release Date: January 10, 2004 [EBook #10668]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Lazar Liveanu and PG Distributed Proofreaders


* * * * * TO
The Workers' Educational Association
* * * * *
When wilt Thou save the people? O God of mercy, when? Not kings and lords, but nations! Not thrones and crowns, but men! Flowers of Thy heart, O God, are they; Let them not pass, like weeds, away-- Their heritage a sunless day. God save the people!
"To remake the map of Europe, and to rearrange the peoples in accordance with the special mission assigned to each of them by geographical, ethnical and historical conditions--this is the first essential step for all."
MAZZINI (1832).
* * * * *

For many years past the prospect of universal war has haunted the dreams of pacificists and militarists alike. Many of us, without denying its growing menace, hoped against hope that it might be averted by the gradual strengthening of international goodwill and mutual intercourse, and the steady growth of democratic influences and political thought. But our misgivings proved more prophetic than our hopes; and last August the great war came upon us like a thief in the night. After four months of war we feel that, in spite of the splendid response of the nation at large, in spite of a unanimity which has no parallel in our previous history, there are still large sections of the community who fail to realise the vastness of the issues at stake, the formidable nature of the forces ranged against us, and the true inner significance of the struggle. And yet all that is worth living for depends upon the outcome of this war--for ourselves the future of the democratic ideal in these islands and in the British Empire at large, for the peoples of Europe deliverance from competing armaments and the yoke of racial tyranny. But before our future can be secured, sacrifices will be required of every citizen, and in a free community sacrifice can only spring from knowledge. Moreover, if we are to put an end to the intolerable situation of an unwilling Europe in arms, public opinion must think out very carefully the great problems which have been thrown into the melting-pot and be prepared for the day of settlement.
The present volume has been written as a guide to the study of the underlying causes and issues of the war. It does not pretend to cover the whole of so vast a field, and it will have attained its aim if it provides the basis for future discussion. It originated in the experience of its five writers at the Summer Schools for working-class students held in connection with the Workers' Educational Associations. In the early days of August, at the outbreak of the war, Summer Schools were in full swing at Oxford, Cambridge, Eton, Bangor, and Durham, and it at once became apparent, not merely that the word "citizen" had suddenly acquired a new depth and significance for the men and women of our generation, but also that for the individual citizen himself a large new field of study and discussion had been opened up on subjects and issues hitherto unfamiliar. This book was planned to meet the need there expressed, but it is hoped that it may be found useful by a wider circle of readers.
We have called the book _The War and Democracy_, because our guiding idea throughout has been the sense of the great new responsibilities, both of thought and action, which the present situation lays upon British Democracy and on believers in democracy throughout the world.
In devoting one chapter to a survey of the issues raised for settlement by the war, we must disclaim most emphatically all idea of dividing the lion's skin before the animal has been killed. Our object has not been to prophesy, but merely to stimulate thought and discussion. The field is so vast and complicated that unless public opinion begins to mobilise without further delay and to form clear ideas as to how the principles laid down by our statesmen are to be converted into practice, it may find itself confronted, as it was confronted in 1814, with
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