H.M. Hyndman

Further Reminiscences

Chapter XVII
The German Menace

“WHY do you hate the Germans so much?” This silly question has been asked me a good many times of late years. It seems to be imagined by those who allow their sentiment to overpower their reason in the matter of peace at any price, that a nation which makes ready to meet the threats of a great and aggressive militarist government must of necessity be in the wrong, and that wholesale surrender by the non-aggressive nationality is the only way by which to avert war. That any man who counsels vigorous resistance must be actuated by downright hatred towards the people of the country the policy of whose masters he is anxious should be defeated, extreme pacifists take for granted. It is safe to say, nevertheless, that, as I have pointed out elsewhere, not only was there no ill-feeling between the French and the English peoples at the time of the Fashoda incident, but that, so far as England was concerned, the French were more popular here than the men and women of any other nationality. Nobody can deny that there have been race and religious hatreds, and that such hatreds exist even today, as we need not go farther than Ireland or Austria, Belgium or Turkey, to discover. But there is nothing of the kind between us and the Germans. On the contrary, the relations between the two peoples, in spite of all that has come and gone, are surprisingly good. It is the fact also that there is no more popular man in the United Kingdom at this moment than the Kaiser’s own brother, Prince Henry, himself the active head of the German navy.

When, therefore, I have been asked why I hate the Germans, because I have advocated the permanent maintenance of a fleet sufficiently powerful to secure our domination of the narrow seas under all circumstances, and the safety of the trade routes so far as this may be achieved, my answer is simply to laugh. For it is quite ludicrous to imagine for a moment that an active Social-Democrat, and therefore a man pledged up to the hilt against war, can hate any nation. We are of necessity Internationalists, and I personally feel myself as much at home in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Dresden, or Stuttgart as I do in Paris, Lyons, Lille, Bordeaux, or Marseilles; more at home, certainly, than I did in London during the continuance of the South African War, when I honestly admit I hated a great number of my own countrymen as an ignorant and brutal set of reactionists.

All international Socialists respect and admire the German working classes more than any other set of toilers in the world. Their increase of strength is our increase of strength; their wonderful selfcontrol and discipline are models for our Party in every nation; their admirable organisation and political persistence, their literary work and their newspaper press are what we ourselves hope to see here when we, like they, have got a decent system of national education and recognise that, disgusting and tyrannous as Prussian militarism is, even that discipline is better than no discipline at all. We feel at liberty to criticise German Social-Democrats, at times, for what seem to us the defects of their qualities; but we are only too glad to recognise that they lead humanity at this moment in its steady march towards the new period.

When this year 4,250,000 electors over twentyfive years of age, trained soldiers to a man, cast their votes for the Social-Democratic revolutionary candidates in Germany, a feeling of exultation and of approaching triumph swept through the educated workers of every civilised nation. When 350,000 unarmed troops marched in military array through the streets of Berlin, without speaking a word from one end of the great parade to the other, there was not one of us but felt that within a very few years the splendid German people would be masters of their own destinies and would control their own to the great advantage of all their neighours. Fully one-third of German manhood and the German army already sympathises with and votes for Social-Democracy, and the rising generation between eighteen and twenty-five is more Socialist in proportion than those who are entitled to exercise the ballot. Moreover, they have achieved this amazing success under the most difficult circumstances, nearly all their best-known and most trusted leaders having passed away. Kaisers, Bismarcks, Caprivis, Billows, pass, pass, pass and disappear, but the great host of the German Social-Democracy marches on, more numerous, better disciplined, more confident than ever. It has succeeded in convincing even the vigorous and self-sacrificing Gustave Herve that, sound as anti-militarism and even antinationalism may be in his opinion, it is folly to divorce the industrial movement of the people from political action.

To talk of my hatred of Germans as Germans is absurd. So little do I hate them that if the German Social-Democracy could and would help to overthrow our upper classes in this island for us, by an invasion across the North Sea, I for one should welcome their coming, and would give them all the assistance in my power. But at present they have quite enough to do to fight their own battles, and, unfortunately, we on our side can do very little to help them, and have even taken of late years to exporting English blacklegs to compete against them.

All this is quite commonplace to Socialists, as also is the fact that, when the thing is put to the test, Socialists alone are the true peacemakers. We would give up armaments, sweep away militarism, and put an end to competition in all countries upon the grounds of economy in its widest sense, as well as of humanity. But at present, things being as they are, we have decided at all International Congresses that, as we are Internationalists and not Anti-nationalists, a national citizen army in each nationality to be used for its own defence is desirable. In all countries we oppose war: in all countries we denounce aggression.

Why then advocate a powerful navy for Great Britain when such a weapon may seem a menace to other countries? To which I reply that to us a great navy stands in the place of a citizen army, as, being dependent for six-sevenths of our food on foreign countries, we could be starved out even by a chance superiority at sea; and because conscription or compulsory service not being adopted here, the country is liable to sudden and partially successful attack even by an inferior force, should the mastery of the narrow seas pass from us temporarily.

Having held this opinion for forty years, I saw no reason to depart from it simply because of pacifist clamour and the furious attacks upon me by a minority of the party to which I myself belong. But the question became an exceedingly pressing one when the German Government told the world plainly, after a long and systematic campaign on the part of university professors and the violent German Navy League, that it meant to have a fleet equal to occasioning us very serious anxiety and proceeded to borrow £50,000,000 in order to carry out this programme. The attitude and writings of the professors were, to my mind, specially significant.

It was the professors and historians who worked up the war of 1870 in their classrooms and in their books, long before Bismarck set to work to realise their pan-German aspirations in active politics and on the field of battle. They spared no pains to rouse the educated youth against France and, before France, against Austria, by the most persistent and unscrupulous, if superficially learned, incitement to national hatred and national aggrandisement ever known. And they were successful. When, therefore, many years ago I saw the next generation of professors engaged in precisely similar work, but this time against England as the enemy, I knew what we had to expect, and my old friend Liebknecht’s warning against aggressive German chauvinism was always ringing in my ears.

But in fact I had little need of warning. I had myself watched and commented upon the Prussian policy of cool, carefully-prepared, ruthless aggression from the early sixties, at which period I visited Germany frequently, onwards. Schleswig-Holstein, the campaign of 1866, the war of 1870-1871, the threats against France of 1874 and 1884, the intrigues in South Africa and South America, all showed that Germany was acting throughout on the lines of a considered programme which had been rendered possible of accomplishment by her marvellous development in industry and accumulated wealth since 1874-1878. There were, however, two schools of men of peace, one of which argued that Germany did not really mean business or would not stand the strain. This was the view acted upon by the Conservatives for five years, seeing that, although they kept up a strong fleet, they never openly challenged the German Government as to the object of all these preparations.

The other idea was that the German Social-Democrats could check any determined act of hostility against either England or France. This latter theory I never believed for a moment. But I asked Bebel and Singer and others point-blank at Brussels whether anything could be done by them if a serious attempt were made, by Socialists in France and England, to check any counter hostile move. “Rather revolution than war!” as Vaillant and Hervé both cry. They told me plainly “No”: that at the first call to arms they would be unable to check mobilisation, though, as in 1870, they would be prepared to run great risks by way of protest. What might happen later nobody could foretell. Those who understand what military discipline on the Prussian model means, and the manner in which martial law is applied by German officers, must know full well that this is true. The German army, in the first instance, at any rate, would march, Social-Democrats and all, where it was ordered to march, although nowadays there could be no more unpopular campaign, so far as the bulk of the German people are concerned, than a war against France.

But if the German Social-Democrats could not hope to check a war on land, much less could they arrest an attack by sea. The German nation has no influence upon its foreign policy nor any real control over the public funds. If the German Emperor and the Federal Council decide upon war, war there will be. Moreover, the increase of the Socialist Party in Germany, beneficial as it is from many points of view, may quite probably hasten on the international crisis. For my own part I believe it will. The Hohenzollerns and their great array of officers and bureaucrats will never sit down quietly and wait until the Social-Democratic propaganda, pressure of taxation, rise of prices and disgust with military methods, give the revolutionarysection a clear majority not only in the country but in the army itself.

We may all fully rely upon it that the leaders of German official opinion are even more keenly alive to the progress made by Socialism, and what it betokens in the future, than any foreigners can be. They know quite well that the increase of the Socialist vote at the same yearly ratio as that for the past few years, which there seems every reason to expect will continue, carries with it sooner or later the downfall of the German Empire in its present shape. It was internal, not external, policy which induced Napoleon III to drift into war. It may be internal even more than external policy which will hurry on the German plans for dominance in Europe and “a place under the sun.” A great and successful war, with a vast Charlemagnic Empire as its objective, with German dominance in Europe as its result, might head back Socialism for some time. That is the calculation. It is rather significant that, writing to me on the subject of this same German menace, the late Sir Charles Dilke based his conviction as to the maintenance of peace solely on the certainty, to his mind, that the Kaiser himself was devoted to a pacific policy and would never allow his hand to be forced. That seemed to me a very slender thread on which to hang so important a conclusion in affairs of the very first magnitude.

For my part, I have always thought that the length and vehemence of the attacks upon me by German statesmen and in the official German press whenever I myself have shown, from the democratic standpoint, the absolute necessity for Great Britain to maintain herself in such a position that she could not only protect her own shores and make any attack hopeless, but also help the small States and her allies, proved conclusively that the calculations of the German Foreign Office and military party were precisely those which I took them to be. Otherwise, why should plain letters in the Times and Morning Post from a mere Socialist outsider, stating undoubted facts and drawing indisputable conclusions, proposing also, what he had no power to influence in any way, a £100,000,000 4 per cent loan to be devoted exclusively to naval purposes, the interest covered by an increasing ship-tax on incomes above, say, £500 a year, – why should such wholly unauthorised suggestions call for so much and such widespread misrepresentation and abuse?

It is certain that hostilities would not be commenced if Germany could get all she wanted in Europe, without moving a ship or a man, by merely threatening diplomatically; but there would certainly come a moment when the limit of surrender would be reached. For a long time, until a great portion of their programme was carried out, the Germans denied that there was any aggressive intention on their side at all. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman believed them, shipbuilding was curtailed even after the failure to bring about any arrangement at The Hague, and Mr. Lloyd George informed the whole world in his interview with the correspondent of the German-inspired Neue Freie Presse at Carlsbad that we had given up our pretensions to pre-eminence at sea. We seem to be paying very heavily for all this pacifism at the present time. But Mr. George himself has been forced to eat his own words, to proclaim himself a big navy man, and, amusingly enough, to exasperate the whole of German officialism by so doing more than all the plain-speaking of others had done before.

For me the whole trouble had a direct personal significance. I was denounced, especially by the foreign refugees in our Party, as an inveterate firebrand. The men and women who unquestionably owed their freedom from danger and the probability of death and torture to our right of asylum, backed up by the guns of the British fleet, spoke and wrote about me on this issue with a vehemence and acrimony which left nothing to desire, and the leading personages of the Labour Party rivalled the absconding political immigrants in the acerbity of their diction. I was told very frankly, even by many who sympathised with me, that by upholding what I contend is the sound democratic doctrine, the right and duty, namely, of every nationality to protect itself against attack from without, I had forfeited all right to represent Socialism in any way. A few who had learnt all they knew about Socialism from me relieved their feelings in the same manner.

The Labourists, as usual, were not logical. They declared, it is true, that it made no difference whatever to the wage-earners whether German despotism dominated here in place of British capitalist constitutionalism: a contention which may be fortified by arguments difficult to meet. The slums of our great cities and their miserable inhabitants are but poor testimony to the value of political liberty as against German regimentation. When, however, it came to voting in the House of Commons, this extreme pacifism was carefully dropped. Our working-class representatives had none of the courage of highly-cultured Gustave Hervé. They meekly said that what they objected to was not an adequate but an excessive navy, and all their members who sat for dockyard and arsenal seats, etc., voted for the armaments which, as a party, they so sternly opposed! I am bound to say that neither the vituperation of the foreigners nor the abuse and misrepresentation of my own LiberalLabour countrymen affected me in the least.

I reasserted my opinion that a £100,000,000 Navy Loan used exclusively for the strengthening and manning of the fleet, followed up by the establishment of a genuine citizen army, wholly free from militarist tyranny, could alone enable us to use the growing power of our democracy for the general good. By far the greater part of the money raised, moreover, would be spent on the employment of home labour; and the training of a citizen army would do a little to check physical degeneration and enable the working class to make head against their employers and the national mercenary army with better and more effective weapons than passive resistance and domestic starvation.

I was supported in these contentions by the men and women with whom I had worked in the Socialist propaganda for more than a quarter of a century. Quelch and Lee, and Irving and Knee, and many others were on the same side with myself, not because they were Jingoes, still less because they accepted my views on personal grounds – that is not at all the way with Social-Democrats – but because they, anti-Imperialists to a man, believe with me that our influence in Europe is, on the whole, favourable to democracy; that the Right of Asylum is worth defending at any cost; that German domination on the Continent might easily check for a time the growth of Socialism; that the state of things that would be brought about in this island by the loss of the command of the sea and consequent starvation of our people would tend to anarchy, followed by dictatorship, rather than to a complete democratic industrial revolution; and that a thoroughly-trained citizen force, armed with the best weapons, is the only guarantee in these days for fair treatment of the workers by the dominant class as well as for permanent national safety.

Those arguments are good enough for me. I was warned, nevertheless, that if I ventured to assert them upon the public platform it would be the worse for me. In particular, that if in the historic Free Trade Hall in Manchester I ventured to speak in this sense, first, I should be howled down, and then perhaps suffer personal chastisement. That sort of nonsense has no effect on me.

There was nothing intrepid in the course I took; for there was really no danger. At any rate, I went and spoke in the Free Trade Hall. The place was packed to suffocation, the meeting was quite open to all; questions could be asked after my address, as usual with us, by any one present. What was the result? Just precisely what I anticipated. I never had a finer reception nor a more enthusiastic audience in all my life. Yet I made no secret of the fact that I stuck steadily to my opinions, and, in order to make my anti-Imperialist position unmistakable at the same time, I declared that I was in favour of speedy withdrawal both from India and Egypt. There were no questions, though I myself appealed for them. The whole thing was a great success.

People did not believe that the men who had been in the first rank of opposition, at great risk to themselves, during the whole of the South African War, and had never failed to denounce our bleeding to death of India and our treaty-breaking conquest and retention of Egypt, had suddenly turned Chauvinist in relation to Germany. It was just the same everywhere. I do not believe that any man in this island has addressed larger or more enthusiastic audiences than I have during the past three or four years. On many occasions more people have been turned away than found admittance to the halls, large as these were. Yet I have never once had any unpleasantness or trouble whatever in relation to my persistent advocacy of an overwhelmingly powerful fleet and a national citizen army. I have had, of course, too much experience to believe that great and enthusiastic public meetings mean large votes at an election, or even the agreement of all present with the opinions enounced. But that in Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, London, Leeds, and Bradford, not to speak of other towns, I should have been left unheckled on these important questions, surely proves conclusively that the public is not so deficient in understanding as some imagined.

But the facts remain, and at the time of writing are unchanged. The German Empire, as represented by its dominant military class, by its official press, and by the talk of German bourgeois households, tells us as a nation plainly, by actions that speak much more loudly than words, that we have either to give way to German demands or – to fight. That is what it all means and has meant for the past ten years. Had our successive Governments recognised this from the first, and had the Liberal Government, more particularly, declared at The Hague and afterwards that, the Germans having refused to come to any arrangement, Great Britain took up the Prussian challenge, and had proceeded at once to show that, under no circumstances, would we go back upon the policy which August Bebel, at the time when the threatening competition in shipbuilding began, said in the Reichstag, we should inevitably adopt – the policy, namely, of laying down two keels for one – peace would have been assured for our day and generation, and all this bitter recrimination would have come to an end. That is my firm conviction as a revolutionary Social-Democrat who may claim to have made some study of foreign affairs. It is absurd to suppose that pacifism on our side has the slightest mollifying effect upon the policy of the Prussian militarist bureaucracy. The moment English battleship and cruiser construction slackened, that moment Germany chose to push ahead her programme with greater vigour. Why not? Pay or play is the rule in this internecine strife of national aggression and national defence.

We have had tolerably good experience of this ourselves. “Peace is an excellent thing,” as Philip of Macedon wrote to the Opuntian Locrians when they remonstrated with him as he went forth to war. But this philosophic reflection had no effect whatever upon his policy. The only obstacle which would have stayed his career was an army better than his own. Germany is the modern Macedon, and though Kaiser Wilhelm is neither a Philip nor an Alexander, he is at bottom a man of peace of about the same kidney as those two insatiable expansionists. What Germany can gain by peace she will acquire pacifically; what she cannot obtain by persuasion she will, when quite ready, take by main force. This good old rule, this simple plan, we ourselves have adopted and followed up so long and so successfully, outside Europe, that it does not lie with us to complain if another rising commercial and industrial Empire takes a leaf out of our book.

It is for this reason I never could at all understand the policy of my French friends, more especially Vaillant and Jaurès, when they were perpetually preaching peace at any price in regard to Germany. I went so far as to tell the latter, I remember, when lunching alone with him at the Café d’Orsay a few years ago, that if he went on as he was going, and offered to travel to Berlin in order to preach peace at a time when all the menace of war was coming from the other side of the frontier, he would, I was afraid, only encourage Germany to persist in her preparations, would weaken his own absolutely sound as well as courageous and magnificent protests against the sordid campaign of aggression in Morocco, and would help on a dangerous revival of the chauvinist spirit in France herself.

There is no more objectionable being on the planet than the man of “I told you so.” I quite admit that. Yet the pacifist propaganda in France, headed by two such able but such different men as Jaurès and Hervé, has resulted just as I foresaw it would. Germany has vastly strengthened her army against France and her navy against Great Britain, the irrefutable criticisms on the mad Morocco campaign, waged in the interest of international concessionaries and bankers, have failed of effect, and the party of “la Revanche” is far stronger than it has been in my memory. Millerand, who was the principal speaker on my platform in Hyde Park at the great International Demonstration for Socialism, peace, and fraternity in 1896, is now engaged as War Minister in fomenting the war spirit of his countrymen to the full extent of what is possible: ordering the tattoo to be beaten every Saturday through the streets of Paris, backing up the chauvinist feeling in the army itself as vigorously as he can, and generally playing the part of a civilian Boulanger with even greater zest than his unfortunate predecessor in the same office He has turned “politician,” and his Socialism and international harmony have gone to keep company with Aristide – I like to give his first name in this connection – Briand’s vehement syndicalism and anarchism. He sees which way the wind is blowing and has set his sails to catch it for his personal craft. But here, at the back of the Socialist of yesterday, stand the Comte de Mun with MM. Maurice Barrès and Déroulède, who now feel, naturally, that their long years of reactionary endeavour have not been spent in vain, and that the thoroughly honest, well-meaning, able and eloquent men of peace have most satisfactorily played into the hands of themselves, the men of war!

The worst of the situation is, that just as the success of Social-Democracy in Germany may push German statesmen into more rapid disclosure of their plans and action upon them, so, in France, the plain facts of the decrease of the French population relatively to the German, and the belief, wellgrounded or not, that the French are ahead of the Germans in certain important departments of their military affairs, notably artillery and aviation, may render French chauvinists less inclined to lie low and give way to German diplomacy at the critical moment. Thus it is clear with me that peace-at-any-price in France, like peace-at-any-price here, so far from having tended to bring about a good understanding, has rendered the situation more dangerous than it would otherwise have been.

If Great Britain at the present time had a navy which now and henceforth could keep command of the narrow seas and trade routes, and could at the same time send forth by popular vote a capable and well-equipped army of 300,000 men – the figure M. Clemenceau, ever a close friend of this country, mentioned as indispensable – there would be no great war in Europe nor any humiliating surrender by any nation. There is not a statesman from the Atlantic Ocean to the Chinese border who is not well aware of that. If public opinion in Great Britain does not as yet recognise this truth, that is due to the fact that the leaders on both sides have carefully abstained from telling their countrymen the real state of the case, and have for the most part left the entire discussion to the press.

There are still some who state in so many words that Germany has nothing to gain by war, and that great nations in these days do not make war upon one another unless there is something important to be obtained by it. But, as already said in another connection, Germany’s neighbours have no doubt whatever that she is out upon the prowl. Rotterdam and Antwerp are quite convinced upon this point, and more remote peoples have been discussing with some anxiety which is “the place in the sun” that Germany is eager for and is determined to have. And just at this juncture there comes along a philosophic man of business who tells us all at great length and with a good deal of rather weary ful iteration that he has looked carefully into this matter of war from the point of view of modern industrial and commercial and financial relations, and as Charles Matthews used to say in Used Up about the investigation by the leading character into the crater of Vesuvius, “there is nothing in it.”

But so say all of us. What is more, we often say the same thing about competitive wageearning and competitive trade itself. The horrors of peace are worse than the horrors of war. If all mankind would only co-operate for the enjoyment of wealth co-operatively produced, humanity would rise to a level of culture, attainment and delight unknown upon this planet. That is true, demonstrably true, and in theory nobody disputes it. But nobody acts upon the truth thus theoretically accepted, and we are as yet – I am writing as a Socialist – much too weak, and, what is more important, human evolution has not yet advanced sufficiently far, for us to be able to induce others to accept our view in practice. So with war. Everybody admits that war is terrible, just as a shareholder in Standard Oil, or in Coates’ Cotton, or in the London General Omnibus Company might agree that trusts were in the long run opposed to the general interests of the community; but these general ethical conceptions neither stop war nor check the development of industrial monopolies.

Granted, as Mr. Norman Angell contends, that a bombardment of London would upset the market of Berlin, that is a very superficial view of the result of a successful war by Germany against England, or against England and France. Such a successful war would mean that both England, in the main a progressive power, and France, the most civilised nation in Europe, would be placed at the mercy of German militarism, and that the Continent itself would for a full generation be under the same control. In spite of the crisis of 1874, referred to by our competitive pacifist, the success of Prussia against France in 1870 gave Germany a very different position industrially, commercially, and financially, as well as militarily, from that which she occupied before. Prussians anticipated that after the war Berlin, not Paris, would become the capital of Europe. It has not become so; but another successful war might produce this result too. That it would almost certainly transfer the centre of international finance from the Thames and the Seine to the Spree is, I think, beyond dispute; while the annexation of Holland, Belgium, and Denmark, the possession of the Dutch colonies (if Japan would permit), and the control of Egypt and Asia Minor as an inevitable consequence, would create a huge self-supporting militarist Empire centrally situated, dominating the Baltic, the North Sea, the Channel, and the Mediterranean, and able, if Social-Democracy failed to achieve its objects, to hold its own against any possible counterattack.

Yet our capitalist peace-persuader thinks to talk German statesmen and generals, and admirals, and iron-masters outof this vast policy of aggrandisement and wealth-absorption by quoting the rate at which Holland and Denmark can borrow money, and by proving that here and there the panic in stocks brought about by war ruins certain shareholders in the victorious country. He even argues against me that I overlook the growth of Socialism in Germany because I say that if we Socialists were to achieve success in England we should be liable to attack by militarist powers. Up to now the German Socialists have been wholly unable to check the wholesale preparations of militarist Germany for aggressive war on land: they are certainly in no case to stop aggressive warfare by sea. It is well, also, in this connection, to bear in mind that the German army carefully blockaded one side of Paris against the Commune while the Versailles troops attacked the other side. If Mr. Angell really wishes to test the value of his influence, let him go and hold forth to the bureaucrats and militarists of Berlin. That is the danger centre of Europe, not London or Paris.

It is quite true that armaments depend upon policy. If we were ready, as a nation, to put our whole policy at the disposal of German statesmen, and to acquiesce in such a programme of expansion as that indicated above, then, no doubt, armaments would be unnecessary, and the whole situation would be changed. But that is not possible. Even Liberals now see that. And the most crushing criticism on the tide-waiting pusillanimity of both our political parties is that their cowardice and procrastination have landed us in what is practically an alliance with the infamous despotism of Russia, after having previously bound ourselves to the unscrupulous and merciless Japanese annexers of Korea.

Any one would imagine from most of what is said and written on this subject that all these aspirations of Germany for dominance were born yesterday. Not a bit of it. They have been sedulously cultivated and cherished for a full generation at least. Whether the late Lord Salisbury was right or wrong in giving up Heligoland, it is quite certain that when, by one of those Venetian strokes in which he delighted, he sent the British Mediterranean Fleet to pay a visit of ceremony to the inner harbour of Toulon, the first time for forty years, on the very same day when the German and Austrian squadrons jointly celebrated the anniversary of Sedan by a naval review in the North Sea, he showed a capacity to forecast the future which it is unfortunate he could not pass on to his successors. The Prussian bureaucracy, with its attendant Professors, have aimed at attaining the present position in Europe since the victories of 1870-71. The increase of German strength and wealth gave them the basis to work upon: the fatal South African War gave them the excuse for moving on.

At present we are losing in the unavowed conflict, and are likely to lose. When the German Kaiser spoke the other day of the fine physical condition of his people, he said no more than the truth: it was a tacit comparison with the physical decay of the British workers. It is sad to witness the decay of any great nation: it is saddest to witness the deterioration of our own. Believing, as I do, that the success of German militarism will be injurious to European civilisation, I hope there may yet be time to organise an effective democratic league against it. But this has not been done yet by any means.

Last updated on 1.11.2007