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By G. K. CHESTERTON
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It tics ICXZ t hat ant Litttltslti iti s to think less Io lFtglatl titan oIf Eul:u ol thtt a I ttcfttttttt is to ftlith less of PIrank thian of he f Leagute otf
in I ei tV a(1 clareity 1 i ( t I 1111leol Of sitncl e tllNt lh1 v(,r4 1 N iear the centre of the great councilel of t diluation .nd for the, democracy, the mass of )llankindil t cery uhere, it is aill abotinllit1on annd a blaspheml y h11 ull \ill not he ilthl.le L In i oil if ll’t t- I1 tl is ab urll tt 10ut nC llat 1-ec Siliation before stutdying the quarrel, it is still llre absul- to atnotnce a reconcill’itlon to which e’ ale not I11 Ieel il’e . I do not say that President 1\ilsont. or tihe 1In’l.’ Ministers of the Allies, have t lheilselve, aball do ed thie plulosophi of pairiotism; I ian pretty sare that imdivldually they have not Balt i!! mllO.’derl politicians have been taught the deplorable trick of trying to be practical politicians. The peach’ al politician is a 1m1,111 who always takes tile ntion lthat lies netrest -l nt because lie is Imorally prompt but l’ecnuse he is mentally ktlzy.- (ie reitl’lt of this is tli’. to le are surrounded by SslI arin of slquackti s, 8-strugling for the wanter lnget attelntiol, like a s l if ilif hotel tolets struggling for a hai Thus iltho are morle litelh- to hav e the pa1er pit llsetses of preposl tro Lg Itopias Nathrust Ilti their hiands tlhan to s1e|ttlesl 1e 01 iSiellf to the real talk even of the crowd, far less to think elle1metary t logict is surely -er eafsy to state. Even if lie are to deal first with a ILeague of Nations, we presumably hlave tlo deal with the Nations as ecll as the Leagtue. The principle of ” the self- fldterlulllnaton of ll peoples imust obviously 1mean permitting 8e ery people to settle its own affairs- plope are talkinllg as if lnationalli problems were not tif he rolved by the nations, or even by the League of Nations, but actually by the Peace (‘onforence before it has even created the Leagsue of Nations. One thing is apparently to be settled even before the League. and that is the very thing which the League might be created to settle. i’ For instance, there is much talk, a t the time of wrlting, about an international policy about Labour -which is a1tays narro11 ( te to mean manual prolet arian ulustrial labour. Yet menl labour in many other fashions, e(aen whjie they are poor ieni for instance, ttlei tilhy are free ieasants. A1nd even of the problem of proletaiian industrialsm there are many quite intelligent and intelligible solutions, such as Slavery, or Stale Socialism, or Guil Sot ialism, or that better diutribution of capital for wchich I have often expressed sympathy in these columns. It seemst. to e senseless to suppose that even the first steps towards a selection can I ade by mend of many and motley natI onas , each with quite vlriegated traditions and dil h- culties–netii onlc leagued to m1ake aot r on the barbarian, and now only miet together in order to make peace with him. For, though the suggestion will now seem strange and distant, there was once a sort of idea that the Peace Conference intended to confer about Peace. Its meeting was not, perhaps, a coincldence \holly unconnected with the fact that there has just been it war. And, haying one of those simple and laborious minds which prefer to think of one thing at a time. I suggest that we decide to do something with the present war even before we prevent all possible future wars, especi- ally b, a cosmopohtan conspiracy which I should myself like to prevent. While the war was waged, I resisted many revolutions with which I was m considerable sympathy; and until the war is properly settled I certainly will not throw myself
Into a revolution witlh wh1ich I have practically no syvmlliathy at all. I at ditsposed to urge, there fore, that ae decide on somell policy totuchling obtscureo and forgotten peoples called the Germn s, to sayv nollthillg of the I;’rencthi tile -erhs, anlld the Poles. 1 efor e we :girn to prolphesy the future feelings ot the Iatagonlalns towards the Eskimos, or speculate on how so(ll the I lottenlots will learn to love the La ps. In shorl, I suggest that ioe conlsider how to restrain our enemies and reinstate our flielnds
ENGAGED TO MISS ELIZABETH ASQUITH: PRINCE ANTOINE BIBESCO.-[Photol;rph by ELIii ad Fry.]
before ne consider how to make friends of men who have never been near enough to be enemies. Schemes of this colossal and almost cosmic scope are being waved inl front of us to day, in a sort of wild effort to find something larger and gleater than the great war. But the great war in its end as in its beginning, is to be judged by things inside it and not by things outside It was only a great war, as dist-inct from a big butchery., by the great- ness of the moral issues involved. And the moral issues witlun the war are still the same. The spiritual deliverance of Europe. so far from depend illn on larger and vaguer things, turns more than ever on small and special things on little nations and on lost provinces. Posen is more important than all Siberia, for without Posen there is no Poland, and without Poland there is no dawn inl the East. Any Prussia that is demanding Posen is the same Prussia that divided Poland more than a hundred years ago, the same Prussia that invaded Belgiumn less than five years ago. And why, indeed, should it not be so, since tihe gioup of ” moderate ” Socialists now ruling Prussia is the very same which then warmly applauded the invasion of Belgium ? The malady that made the war was a moral malady, and must still find a moral cure. And every great moral story turns on what are called small things. There are always particular things to be purified, particular men to be punished, particular goods to be restored. If the makers of the peace do not right the wrongs of the war, it matters nothing what other world- wide and wonderful things they do. The con- science of Christendom will not be purged. They will be like physirians curing a corpse, from whith the soul is already gone.