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of the English-speaking race, great numbers of politicians, of speakers, and of writers who either believe or pretend to believe that war is an anachronism for which arbitration can be substituted. With this belief every act of our Liberal Government has been coloured from the date of its assumption of office in 1906 until the present day. They can see the boundaries of nations but as fixed quantities, although in fact the territories of every Great Power have been in a state of flux for sixty years, and are in a state of flux now. With a fatuity probably unparalleled in the records of the past, they continue to appeal to Germany to curb the pace of her naval construction, without reflecting that this request amounts to an adjuration to our greatest rival to abandon her national ambition and to cease her national growth. The truth is that for a growing people armaments are the instruments by which expansion is achieved. Only for a people which has ceased to grow are they weapons merely of defence.
Again, our English Radicals prate constantly of rights.' When they use that term in relation to a nation they are the slaves of a sound, and of a gross confusion of ideas. What is a 'right' on the part of a people? An independent State has no 'right' as against other States, save that of the sword alone. The right of the individual exists only so long as the Government of the country of which he is the son guarantees that right with the armed force of that country. With the withdrawal of that guarantee passes also that right. Thus in the United Kingdom citizens had once rights as against trades-unions which did them injury, but those rights they have no longer. When the growth of a great people impinges on the territorial dominion of another, the only court of appeal is war. Arbitration as the alternative to such war involves the assumption that the immense process of territorial change which has been continuing during the last two generations should suddenly cease, and that there should be no such change in future. But will a nation such as Germany, with the motivepower supplied by a high birth-rate within it, and with every instinct of patriotism alive in its heart, ever forego willingly the prospect of national aggrandisement and the hope of territorial gain?
If once we pass from words to things, from theory to fact, we see that no nation has against any other nation any rights whatever except those which it can enforce. If the case of small States be put forward as militating against the acceptance of this most obvious truth, the answer is that those minor Powers exist only by virtue of a purely temporary balance of forces between the great empires of the world. In actual fact no nation has one shred of right to one inch of territory. The English people will hold London, as the Prussian people will hold Berlin and the French
people will hold Paris, for just so long as they can hold it, and no longer. In no case will any imagined rights help them after their ability to sustain those rights by arms shall have departed.
The view thus set forth is based on history and on the verities of human nature. But this view is the exact opposite of that taken and acted upon by the Liberal party during and since the year 1906. That party took office filled to the mouth with contrary conceptions. To those conceptions they instantly began to give effect. They laid their deadly hands on the British Navy. In the Unionist naval programme for 1905-6 had figured a cruiser of the Dreadnought type, i.e., an 'Invincible.' The Liberal Ministry dropped that 'Invincible.' In the Admiralty memorandum, called the Cawdor Memorandum, issued in 1905, the necessity was declared that England should lay down four Dreadnoughts in each year. The new Cabinet laid down three in 1906, three in 1907, and only two in 1908-in other words, they laid down eight Dreadnoughts in those three years instead of twelve. In May, 1906, a first-class battleship, the Montagu, was lost on Lundy Isle. The Liberal party left her unreplaced. Thus within the three years named the Liberal Government were directly responsible for a diminution of no fewer than six battle-units in what should have been our battle strength.
This diminution was idea expressed in act. Simultaneously an opposed idea held by the Government of a rival nation also took concrete shape. The root idea of our Government was the negation of competitive nationality by international agreement. The root idea of the German Government was the victory of competitive nationality by armed force. The fatuity of Britain was the opportunity of Germany. As and because we decreased our Navy, she increased hers. The Amendment of 1906 was passed to the German Navy Act of 1900. Under that Amendment six Dreadnought cruisers were added to their programme. In 1908, as British reduction had continued, a second Amendment Bill passed the Reichstag, further increasing by four the number of Dreadnoughts to be laid down. In this year the Little Navyite may be said to have reached his greatest triumph. England laid down two battleships: Germany laid down four. On our two we spent 280,0001. altogether. On the German four was spent in the same period of time 1,600,000l.
But these reductions in our battle strength, infinitely serious as they have since been proved to be, were far indeed from representing our total loss of sea power and of national safety. Provision of the desperately needed dock accommodation for our Dreadnoughts was neglected. The works at Rosyth were practically placed in a state of suspension. The extreme necessity of entering additional men for the Navy was not met, and in consequence of
that gross omission sullen discontent-rich ground for a Socialist sower-prevails now on the lower deck of many of our ships wherein overworked officers have to overdrive inadequate crews. In destroyers Germany was allowed so far to gain upon us that the then First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr. McKenna, had to admit in the House of Commons in June of last year the prodigious change to our disadvantage which had taken place. He acknowledged that whereas in March 1904, of destroyers not more than ten years of age from the date of their launch we had possessed 116, against 37 German, the Royal Navy at the date at which he spoke had but 78, while the German Navy possessed 79.
In our Estimates of last year, twenty of these vitally essential vessels were voted, of which only seven are yet complete, while in the same time the twelve laid down by Germany have been finished. As if this were not enough, it now appears, from a statement published in the Standard, that twelve further German destroyers have been built by a private German firm, and that these have now been acquired by the German Government.
Figures like these, however sparingly given, are apt to weary the general reader. But what they mean is that the British Fleet is threatened with inability to hold the North Sea. Without a superiority-and a large superiority-in destroyers, we cannot attempt to blockade the German ports; we cannot play the old game, the great game that was played by Nelson in days of yore, and by Togo in modern time.
But the last count to be mentioned here against the naval administration of the Liberal party is the most immediately serious of all the charges that can be brought against them. They have left the food of the people unguarded on the seas of the world. In six years, prior to these present Estimates, they have laid down but twenty-two protected and unprotected cruisers. In these new Estimates eight light cruisers only are provided for a number of which the inadequacy is an outrage upon the entire nation. In August 1910, in an article in this Review, entitled 'The Unguarded Spaces of the Sea,' I stated the facts concerning our defenceless mercantile marine. Those facts remain substantially unaltered. 'Every child knows that here,' was the remark, concerning the use of German merchantmen in war made by the President of the German High Court which tried Mr. Stewart. It is now an absolute certainty that Germany will make the fullest possible use of the freedom, either accorded or not withheld, under Convention No. 7 of The Hague Agreements, to convert her merchant vessels into menof-war.
The naval position of the British Empire, and the deterioration which has taken place in it during the previous six years,
stand desperately in need of being viewed as a whole, and not merely piecemeal. The English mind seems now to suffer from an ineradicable incapability to distinguish between word and deed. Mr. Churchill's statement in introducing the Navy Estimates is regarded and criticised as a good speech.' It matters to the country not one straw whether oratorically it was good or bad. What does concern us is the actual naval situation. This may be briefly described as follows: When the Liberal party acceded to office, our strength in battleships, according to the Dilke Return of 1906, was fifty-five against eighteen German. But as many of our vessels were far more powerful than their rivals, our battle strength was something like four times theirs. Now our battle strength is, relatively to Germany, about half what it was then. But this still existing superiority is in regard to battleships and battle-cruisers alone. In other respects the relative decline has been immensely greater. In the vital matter of the personnel, Germany is constantly creeping nearer to us. Her reserves are already vastly larger than ours. In docks on the North Sea, and in destroyers, her advance has been prodigious. Above all, through the arming of her merchantmen her power to inflict starvation upon the people of the United Kingdom has incomparably increased. If arrangements had been specially devised to ensure that starvation, none more effectual could be conceived than those which England herself has made. We import most of our food. We leave it unguarded on the seas. We leave it unorganised and in the hands of private speculators on the land.
Eighteen months ago I ventured to urge in this Review the extreme need of an Act of Parliament to make all food in the country on the outbreak of war become the property of the Government of the day at the market rates previously obtaining. I venture to repeat that suggestion now, and to add to it this further recommendation-that a committee of experts be at once appointed to devise a scheme for the distribution, when war begins, of the food which will then be owned by the State, and the price of which the State can therefore fix. Let us select, man with British crews, and arm some of our own merchantmen; let us prepare to retaliate on those who are scheming for our destruction the financial injury which they design to us. Above all, let England emancipate herself from ideas of which the events among mankind during sixty past years, and now, prove the dire falsity.
H. F. WYATT.
SOCIALISTIC IDEAS AND PRACTICAL
THE STATISTICS OF SOCIALISM
THE following observations are addressed to practical men, and are confined to such aspects of the general question in view as have an immediate bearing on the problems and movements of the hour. Such being the case, it is necessary to begin by providing ourselves with some working definition, which need not be academically precise, of what, for our present purpose, we are to understand by the term 'Socialism.'
Now, it is impossible to identify Socialism in any satisfactory way with all the opinions and proposals put forward by leading Socialists, partly because as to many of these such persons differ violently amongst themselves, and partly because as to many of them such persons are in general agreement with a number, and perhaps even with the majority, of other people.
Out of the difficulty which thus arises we can, however, escape by a very short cut. Though we cannot identify Socialism with all the opinions and aims which are professed by its individual exponents, we can at all events identify it with those in respect of which Socialists are peculiar-which are professed by them, and are professed by nobody else; and these, however some of them may conflict with others as to details, have the common characteristic of being one and all of them economic. They relate to the production and distribution of purely material wealth. Socialists as men may be interested in many other things as well, but it is with regard to material wealth, and material wealth alone, that their opinions and their projects are in any way identifiably peculiar to themselves.
As grouped together by this definition, Socialists resemble a novel and peculiar school of doctors who, recognising, as everyone else does, that the body politic is afflicted in various parts with pains or sensations of distress which are obviously of economic origin, seek to submit the patient to some hitherto untried treatment, which has never alleviated a single evil yet, but which, according to them, is a common cure for all.