As the old year closes, it behooves us to ‘consider whereabout’ we are ‘in Cebes’s Fable, or that old Philosophical Pinax of the Life of Man.’ So considering, the dweller in the Americas may expect the new year with cheerful confidence; but to the European or Asiatic ’t is a dubious prospect. In the Americas (including, at last, Mexico) peace reigns; nor is it likely to be disturbed in the next twelvemonth. But Europe and Asia, though for the moment less embroiled, are even more perplexed than they were a year ago. To be sure, thanks to French genius and policy, Western Europe has just escaped Red ruin. But the peace on the new Polish frontier is but precarious. The Red Peril looms scarcely less hideous than it did a year ago, its most dangerous instrument being, not arms, but propaganda. The ‘old Ethicks and the classical Rules of Honesty’ are hard put to it to maintain themselves against the new inverted Ethicks of the Moscow school.
And, as if the old motives for war were not sufficient, new motives are being discovered by the ingenuity of man; of which the most notable is the Principle of Self-Determination—a natural child of the League of Nations. If men are not so apt as formerly to cut each other’s throats for the greed of a prince, or in the name of Christ or Mahmoud or Mumbo Jumbo, it is because they are doing the same thing in the name of Self-Determination. It may be that events are framing themselves toward a general pacification in the near future; but what one actually sees is war, or near-war, or delicate situations holding possibilities of war, or bloody chaos, almost throughout Europe and Asia. If, however, — a thing more felt than seen, — the Bolshevist propaganda has passed its peak and must henceforward decline, within the coming year the ‘bustle unto Ruin’ may halt itself; a new Face of Things may appear.
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The outstanding events of the year in America have been few. Financial and industrial readjustments have been proceeding much more smoothly and successfully than was to be expected. According to the auspices, we should now be in the worst of business panics; but we are not. Strains and stresses have made themselves felt; but the structure is sound enough and promises to stand up. It cannot be maintained that the government has fairly coped with the problems of reconstruction. Canada has done much better. Despite such failure, we have got off so far with little worse than discomfort and the necessity of retrenchment (not without its disciplinary uses). The country is self-sufficient. The process of deflation is as discomforting as that of inflation is exhilarating. But with any sort of decent management we shall escape misery in the real or European sense: nobody need starve. Thanks to the happy accident of the war, we have at last a merchant marine fairly correspondent to our commercial greatness; to the same happy accident we owe an immensely enhanced political and economic prestige and extraordinary trade-opportunities.
The new government has an unexampled opportunity for constructive legislation: it is expected to enact measures to ease the process of reconstruction; to set on foot an industrial constitution, so that strikes will become as rare as the duello; to revise our immigration laws; to improve education; to simplify the machinery of government; to further a machinery whereby states may coöperate for the common good; to realize our trade-opportunities—this last presupposing aid generously, but discreetly, given to Europe. For, without a revived Europe, though we may escape misery, and even discomfort, we cannot resume our ‘brave state’ of yore. If the Republican Party makes good, perhaps within a generation we may again, without too much hyperbole, use the expression, ‘this courtly and splendid world.’
A presidential election year is usually poor in constructive legislation; it is dedicate to talk. The year just ended has been exceptionally thus poor because of the bitter antagonism between the Executive and the Republican majorities in the two Houses. The most important pieces of legislation signed by the President were the Railroad Reorganization Act, the Americanization Act, the Army Reorganization Act, and the Merchant Marine Act. The Americanization Act is significant for its recognition of the necessity of organized effort to conciliate and assimilate the alien mass. The Merchant Marine Act proposes to continue for a while immediate government influence upon our maritime expansion, especially in the matter of new shipping routes. The Army Reorganization Act is a disappointment to those who hoped for a citizen army as an incomparable instrument of Americanization and education in citizenship. That issue is not yet dead. The measure proposing a budget system and that declaring the war with Germany ended were killed by the Presidential veto; that carrying repeal of special presidential war-time powers lapsed by a ‘pocket veto.’
A survey of the year must notice the report of the President Second Industrial Conference, which report proposes machinery for the peaceful settlement of industrial disputes, and recommends shop-councils. The arbitration features of this report had earlier in the year been embodied in the Kansas Industrial Courts Act, against which the American Federation of Labor declared war, and operation of which has been forcibly resisted by Kansas workmen. The A.F.L. is reluctant to hear the reforms except of its own making. The A.F.L. also opposes shop-councils, which, nevertheless, are increasing in number and favor. In the recent election campaign the A.F.L. pursued the new tactics of blacklisting candidates whom it chose to declare enemies of Labor; with the result, which was to be expected, that the public sense of fairness was outraged and the reprobated candidates were, generally, elected.
The year has been remarkable for a general rounding-up of radical agitators, the worst of whom, being aliens, have been packed home. The country has conceived such a disgust of anything that savors of Bolshevism that it winks at a certain lack of legal pedantry in methods to be rid of it.
The Prohibition Amendment became effective in January, and the Woman Suffrage Amendment in August. The tail promises to wag the dog. The reader will remember what the humorous Athenians did to Alcibiades’s dog.
The past year has been one of incredible activity for Soviet Russia. If Lenin could have his will and extend the class-struggle over the entire orb, humanity would exhaust itself and ‘threescore year would make the world away.’
Despite the breakdown of the economic system and the railroads, despite a currency that does not pass current, despite émeutes in the industrial centres and peasant resistance to food-requisitions; despite the blockade; despite infinite obstructions within and without, that strange government at Moscow not merely survives, but keeps going. Armies are fed; new levies fill the gaps; troops and material of war (including heavy artillery, airplanes and poison-gas) are transported with magic speed over huge distances from front to front; succor is sent to allies new enterprises are set afoot. And that new instrument of mendacity, the wireless, is used with consummate skill to perplex and confound the enemies and hearten the friends of Bolshevism throughout the world. Differing from others, I believe that the prospect of continued existence of the Bolshevist régime is more promising as I write (in late November) than it was on January 1, 1920.
As the year 1920 opened, Denikin was seen to be in grave difficulties. In mid-October, 1919, he was in the full tide of success. But suddenly a change came o’er the spirit of his dream. The change is easily explained. Denikin’s rapid advance was made possible by the weakening of the Bolshevist front by sending heavy detachments against Koltchak. Toward the end of October, 1919, Koltchak’s second offensive was stopped, and so complete was the sudden débácle that Trotsky decided to pursue him with a much smaller force than an ordinary commander would have thought sufficient. With the troops thus disengaged Trotsky reinforced the anti-Denikin front, with results at once seen. The entire Denikin line from Volhynia to Tzaritzin gave way. By the year’s end great part of the territory so quickly won had been much more quickly lost. Nothing but vigorous coöperation by the Poles could stop the Red advance. This coöperation the Poles offered, on condition that Denikin would agree to Polish possession of East Galicia. Denikin demurred and was lost.
The fact is that Denikin was not up to the rôle to which Fate appointed him. For modern war on the grand scale he proved quite inadequate. In civil matters he showed himself, like most military men, a fool. He might have had the enthusiastic support of the Ukrainians; but, true to the Tsarist tradition, he treated them as an inferior and subject race. So they rose behind him, and at the crucial time diverted much of his strength from the Bolshevist front. Even his Cossacks turned cold, because he could not bring himself thoroughly to establish promised reforms in administration. He yielded, willingly or unwillingly, to the pressure of his reactionary entourage, and became suspect to the mass of his followers, whose morale became, in consequence, nil.
Being such a man, he could not escape destruction. The Reds drove a wedge which severed his line and reached the Sea of Azof at Mariupol. In February Odessa fell and the Ukraine was lost. In late March Denikin evacuated from Novorossiysk in the Caucasus, under cover of the guns of a British fleet, some 34,000 of his followers, who were conveyed to the Crimea in British bottoms, there to form the nucleus of Wrangel’s army. Arrived in the Crimea, Denikin surrendered his command to General Wrangel, the hero of Tzaritzin and the ablest of his subordinates. Of all the vast territory which he swayed a few months before, Denikin turned over to his successor only the little Crimean peninsula; somehow the Perekop and Tchongar isthmuses had been held.
We cannot deny to Trotsky, or whoever is responsible for the Red strategy, vast strategical conceptions and invincible resolution. The Red strategy has always been cunningly coördinated. Had the activities of Yudenich, Koltchak, and Denikin been thus coördinated, Bolshevism should have been overthrown. It is a proper observation that all efforts, offensive or defensive, from without or from within Russia, against Bolshevism, have been miserably muddled and misdirected; have lacked coördination, constancy, resolution. Opposition within Russia seems now to have been completely cowed; and invasion from without is prevented by the attitude of Labor and the Pacifists in Western Europe, and the Olympian detachment of America.
I have noted, how, late in October, 1919, Koltchak’s second offensive was stopped. There followed the most extraordinary débâcle in military annals: as if at a word of command, the Koltchak armies turned tail and ran for it. Thousands must have dispersed over the Siberian wilds. Other thousands must have perished. The detachments which maintained a semblance of organization were captured before January was far advanced—all except some 3000, under Voitschkovsky, who fought their way into Irkutsk and finally joined Semenov at China. Koltchak himself reached Irkutsk early in January, clinging desperately to his warchest. Little use had he for its contents in the journey he was going. The Social Revolutionaries of Irkutsk murdered him. The Reds who pursued the Koltchak remnants halted at Irkutsk, not caring to try conclusions just now with the Japanese, or with their glorious protégé, Ataman Semenov.
To detail the process of events in Eastern Siberia during the past year would be a very large undertaking. The situation there is very complicated, very ‘questionable.’ Following upon the events described above, all foreign troops in Siberia, except the Japanese, were evacuated through Vladivostok. Only the Japanese remain. The grand question which intrigues the East Siberian (and it interests the rest of the world almost as much) is: What do the Japanese propose with reference to East Siberia? It is doubtful whether the Japanese themselves are quite prepared with an answer. They have protested an intention to withdraw their troops from Siberia as soon as a proper regard for the safety of their nationals will permit; or ‘when they are no longer needed’; or some other like formula. It is all very vague.
After Koltchak was eliminated, there was a lively ferment in East Siberia, from which emerged a number of governments of varying types. Those of Verkhni Udinsk and Blagovestchensk are understood to be almost Moscow Red; those of Chita and Vladivostok, almost bourgeois White. I had understood that these governments were subordinated to a government at Verkhni Udinsk representative of all Siberia east of Lake Baikal—the Government of the Far Eastern Republic. If there be such a government, it seems to be ineffective. East Siberia is reported to be in renewed ferment of late. There is no likelihood that the Japanese garrisons will be withdrawn s long as the ferment continues. Moscow has recognized the Far Eastern Republic, and Red propaganda is doubtless active in that quarter.
While a Red army pursued Koltchak eastward, detachments spread out into Siberia and Central Asia. Meanwhile other detachments had completed the Red conquest of Turkestan, Khiva, Bokhara, and Transcaspia. By the capture of Krasnovodsk and the seizure of Denikin’s fleet at Enzeli in Persia, the Caspian became a Bolshevist lake. To the Soviet resources were added the wheat of Semiryechensk, the cotton of Khiva, and the oil of Transcaspia—all most useful. At Tashkent in Turkestan in a school of propaganda, where choice, selected youths are carefully instructed, and whence they are sent to Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Mesopotamia, Kurdistan, India, China, Korea, to spread the Gospel of Leninism. And thereabout the famous Kuropatkin, according to report many months old, trained to highest efficiency an army of 150,000 men, including some 40,000 Hungarian prisoners, Reddest of the Red. What has become of this army, destined, we thought, to the conquest of India? Presumably many have been detached therefrom to the Western fronts, while others have been fomenting trouble in Persia, preparing the way. When will Kuropatkin, a new Alexander, start on his little trip to the Indus?
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Denikin out, there remained in the West, for the Reds to deal with, Poland, the Nationalist Ukrainians, and Wrangel. For many months a desultory warfare had been going on between the Poles and Reds, interspersed with a peace correspondence. Suddenly, in April, the Poles launched a grand offensive in the Ukraine. The Polish apologists call this an ‘offensive-defensive,’ to forestall a contemplated Red attack, and so justified in ethics as well as in policy; the Reds and their apologists denominate it wicked aggression, chauvinism, imperialism (things hateful to Moscow). However that may be, by mid-May the Poles had conquered most of the Ukraine, including Kiev, and had declared an independent Ukrainian Republic, with Petlura as chief.
On May 17 the Bolsheviki began an attack on the Polish northern lines. The details of this campaign must be fresh in the reader’s mind: how in the south Budenny retook Kiev, beat back the Poles, and carried the war to the gates of Lemberg; how in the north the Reds, after a doubtful period, overbore all resistance; how they opened the long-dreamed-of ‘corridor’ through Lithuania to East Prussia; and how we waited upon the cables, expecting momently the fall of Moscow. How only the threat of Foch on the Rhine deterred the Germans from repudiating the Versailles Treaty and casting in their lot with the Reds; how at this crisis the Poles intrusted the conduct of their operations to the French general Weygand; and how, as if by magic, though the genius of Weygand the whole situation was suddenly reversed. Finally, how, in the preliminary treaty of Riga, Moscow made the most extraordinary concessions to the Poles.
In brief, the peace has all the marks of impermanence. It was accepted by the Reds only to release troops for the ‘liquidation’ of Wrangel; which long-threatened ‘liquidation’ quickly followed. Wrangel has gone the way of Yudenich, Koltchak, and Denikin. Is he the Last of the Varangians? He too was hampered and discredited by the forces of Reaction. The reactionary Russian discovers a stupidity above that of a Jacobite or a Bourbon.
The Muscovite government has displayed an extreme canniness in its policy toward the western border states (other than Poland). Early in the year 1920 it persuaded Esthonia to accept peace on generous terms. It made not great resistance to the rectification by the Letts of their ethnographic frontier. Later, it signed peace with Latvia. It avoided war with Roumania, probably by fomenting internal troubles in that kingdom through Bolshevist agents. By a temporary sacrifice of the Lithuanian ‘corridor,’ it persuaded Poland to renounce interest in the Ukraine and White Russia, which regions, under the euphemism of ‘federated Soviet republics,’ become intimate parts of the Muscovite system. Peace has been signed at last with Finland. Poland has been furiously intriguing throughout the year for an offensive and defensive alliance with the Baltic states, Finland, and Roumania. The Bolsheviki have intrigued them out of even a defensive alliance.
The optimist may believe, if he chooses, that the treaties with Latvia and Esthonia were made in good faith; that Moscow has no designs upon their independence and bourgeois ‘orientation.’ I entertain no such idea. The optimist ma believe that peace with Poland will be permanent, on the basis of the temporary treaty. To me such an expectation seems preposterous. Already the Moscow authorities are accusing and threatening Poland. As time shall serve, these treaties will be broken.
The Council of the League of Nations has undertaken to resolve the infinitely complicated Poland-Lithuania-Zeligovski problem. I hope it may. The ‘orientation’ of Lithuania is a very important matter.
It is confidently asserted that the trade-negotiations resumed by M. Krassin in London will result in a definite trade-agreement between London and Moscow, to be soon followed, M. Krassin is quite confident, by the British de facto recognition of the Soviet régime. In a world turned upside down, Mr. Lloyd George may have hit upon the correct formula for saving the British Empire. But not thus was it won; and not thus was any empire ever saved. Yesterday, Chatham; to-day, Lloyd George. A new world, my masters!
Great Britain has been weathering her reconstruction difficulties handsomely. It might seem that the economic and industrial prospect is more hopeful than it was a year ago. Tension, which had long been acute, found relief in the recent miners’ strike, which was quickly settled by a sensible compromise. The ‘Council of Action’ turned out to be a thing of sound and fury, signifying little. The emissaries of the Independent Labor Party, who are radical enough in all conscience, had a close look at the monster and returned quite disillusioned of Bolshevism. Only a few half-mad persons, like Sylvia Pankhurst, Commander Kenworthy, and the editor of the Daily Herald, still think Red in England.
The recent municipal elections showed results the opposite of those of a year ago. Most of the Labor candidates were defeated, because the Labor councilors had proved inefficient and extravagant. The larger public is evidently convinced that Labor is not yet qualified to rule. The bogey of a Labor Parliament seems laid for the present. It might seem that a fundamental and satisfactory readjustment is well forward—that the optimistic Mr. Jacks is right, rather than the pessimistic Dean Inge.
But there are other considerations which are most disquieting. The temper of Labor is dubious, inconstant, irresponsible. There was a slight majority of miners against the compromise which ended the strike (a two-thirds majority was required to justify continuance thereof). It is not clear what the Labor leaders propose—whether they are for peace, or intend to carry on the fight for nationalization by the old methods. The housing problem is still acute, other problems not less so. There are some 200,000 ex-soldiers and sailors who have not yet found employment.
And in England, more perhaps than in any other country, the industrial and economic weal is dependent on outside conditions; and these are more dubious than a year ago. There is the Irish problem, doubtless to be settled by Mr. Villard’s committee; but, in the meantime, a serious problem. There is the problem of Mesopotamia, where Turkish and Bolshevist agents have stirred up a Holy War which keeps employed some 100,000 soldiers under the British flag. There is the problem of India, where through similar propaganda the British Raj is challenged as never before; and where, as if pat to Lenin’s purpose, Mr. Montagu’s bizarre scheme of government has just been installed. A ‘Diarchy,’ God save the mark! Anarchy, rather, say those who know their India. Mr. Montagu’s bizarre scheme of government has just been installed. A ‘Diarchy,’ God save the mark! Anarchy, rather, say those who know their India. Mr. Montagu’s Indian bill proposes to confer on India a measure of self-government: it actually seems to restore authority to that theocratic caste which was responsible for the secular anarchy that prevailed in India prior to the arrival of the British. In this new incredible world it may be what is needed; but Mr. Montagu lately admitted in Parliament that the news from India is alarming.
There is the problem of Egypt, where it is proposed to turn over the government to the scum of the Levant. There is the problem of Persia, where the Reds have established a base, apparently with a view to a grand invasion; whence, onward, we must suppose, to Afghanistan, to India. There is the problem of the Ottoman Empire, both that part which remains to the Grand Turk and that which has been parceled out; a problem which has just entered on a new alarming phase through the annihilation of Wrangel (which releases thousands of troops for reinforcement of Mustapha Kemal), through the failure of the Greek campaign in Anatolia, and through the repudiation of Venizelos by his countrymen (which repudiation apparently implies repudiation of his imperialistic projects). There is the problem of Russia, and there is the problem of Germany: which two problems are intimately conjoined.
Yielding to the pressure of financial interests, of pacifists, and of Labor, or, belike, to the altruistic suggestions of his own soul, Mr. Lloyd George, we are assured, is about to make a trade agreement with Moscow. We cannot escape the conviction that this must soon be followed by de facto recognition of the Red government. Would this mean the shattering of the Entente? If so, then the Versailles Treaty falls to the ground. Whatever way the Englishman looks, he sees ‘a cloud that’s dragonish.’ Worst of all, he notes in the British public a temper the reverse of imperialistic. He notes that it is impossible to recruit the British army to its authorized strength by voluntary enlistments. He remembers the consequences to the Chinese and Roman empires of buying off instead of grappling with the invader. Such policy marks the absence of that masterful cast of mind which alone consists with Empire. He notes, on the other hand, how the recent messages of Tchitcherin to the Court of St. James’s are couched in the language of an Imperator. And he recalls a famous passage of Macaulay.
For France, the year has been one of anxiety, of disappointment, and of honorable achievement. The Treaty of Versailles became operative upon ratification by the Germans on January 10, 1920. The main energies of the French government have been employed since that date in the effort to compel fulfillment by Germany of her obligations under the treaty. As was to be expected, the Germans had and have no intention of fulfilling their obligations. For the present, evasion and delay; later, modification of the treaty by the Allies; and, in the end, repudiation. Such was and is the programme. A skillful propaganda was set in motion, and discovered an unexpected ally in Mr. Keynes, whose brilliant book presented the case for the Germans in the most favorable light.
While the propaganda was gathering head, evasion was being practised. Coal deliveries were far short of treaty requirements. Arms were not being turned in. Though the German regular army was being somewhat cut down, full staffs were kept, and new military formations, posing s innocent defenders of the domestic peace, were being organized. To these developments the French were highly sensitive; the British had grown indifferent. The protean British Premier—returned to power on a platform of vengeance worthy of a Hebrew prophet—‘upon better judgment-making’ magnanimously admitted that Keynes and the Germans were very nearly right. The Italians, enraged by failure of French support of their Adriatic pretensions, went with Lloyd George.
The French found themselves isolated. They remain so. To be sure, in successive conferences Mr. Lloyd George has been constrained by antique considerations of honor to reassert his adhesion to the Entente. But the French have really been the sole effective supporters of the treaty and of the arrangements contemplated thereunder. When the Germans impudently flouted the treaty and sent troops into the Ruhr region, the French (in the face of Lloyd George’s shrill protest) occupied Frankfort and vindicated the treaty. At Spa the French overbore the sophistry and impudence of the Germans by giving them a glimpse of Foch, and the Germans were required to disband their illicit formations and really to demilitarize. The French, when Mr. Lloyd George had somewhat contemptuously abandoned Poland to her fate, saved Poland, and indeed western civilization (though by the narrowest margin).To be sure, the French were not entirely wise at first (nobody was) in their attitude on the indemnity question. But they have long recognized that the indemnity total must be fixed, and that it must be far short of justice and French necessities.
France has been manœuvring for some machinery whereby the indemnity problem may be finally settled as justly as possible, without prejudice form the selfishness of Allies or the sophistry of Germans. Delay is almost intolerable; but the machinery must be such as to ensure an award determined by considerations of justice to France, not by British cupidity or German desire to escape scathe and pains. There may be two words, of course, about ‘British cupidity.’ ‘Call it altruism, if you will, then,’ say the French. ‘A noble sentiment, to be sure, but one whose indulgence in this connection will ruin France.’ It is said that suitable machinery has been hit upon and will soon be put in operation.
But, taking a long view, there is ground for apprehension that France, however beautiful the machinery, may never recover a considerable indemnity. What, then, of France? Her economic situation is indescribable. Her ordinary budget is beyond her revenue, and the extraordinary budget for reparations is as large as the ordinary budget, and is cared for only by fresh loans and by inflation. That way ruin lies.
Yet even more important than the military problem is the problem of security. The promised American-British-French alliance, through confidence in which the French gave up the Rhine frontier and assured possession of the Saar region—Well, it seems that President Wilson did not speak by the card, and that British action is contingent upon American.
So it is even more true of the Frenchman than of the Englishman that, whatever way he scans the region, he sees ‘a cloud that’s dragonish.’ But is it not a reasonable hope that the new American administration will promptly take order to furnish economic aid and the much-desired guaranty of help in the event of German aggression?
Despite difficulties inferrable from the above, restoration of the devastated areas has been going forward with miraculous speed.
In taking over Cilicia and Syria, the French undertook a large mission. General Gouraud has maintained himself and has beaten the Bedouins and the Turks wherever he has met them. But, his forces are insufficient. French policy tends to be discreetly Turcophile, and a composition with Mustapha which would not prejudice the French position in the Levant might be acceptable to the French. Else the prospect, as things are going in that corner of the world, is gloomy. Perhaps the French Levantine enterprise was a mistake. But there is an immemorial and romantic French sentiment about Syria; and that sort of sentiment cannot be argued with.
The outstanding events of the year 1920 in Germany were—ratification of the Versailles Treaty, after a stormy controversy; the fantastic coup by which one Kapp ignobly challenged fame, and which was defeated (significant fact!) by a general strike; the disturbances in Westphalia and Thuringia; and the general elections, in which the Majority Socialists were overthrown. The Majority Socialists had discredited themselves by their insincerity and cowardice; they were cowed by the militarists. The gains went to the Independent Socialists and the People’s Party of the Extreme Right. The present government is a coalition of Centre and Right parties, including the People’s Party, which boasts of the Junkers and of the powerful capitalists—such as Hugo Stinnes, reputed the most influential man in the party.
We are continuously advised to expect a coup in Germany of one or other set of extremists, the Right or the Left. A coup, if coup there must be, seems the more likely to come from the Right. We may say, I think, that the Germans are watchfully waiting for a favorable break. Industrial conditions in Germany are said to be greatly improving, unemployment to be decreasing—in marked contrast to France.
I cannot notice the various intrigues reported from Central Europe, in most of which we are asked to note the cloven foot of France. But one such I cannot pass by. It is somewhat clamorously rumored that Bavaria (where the Reaction is rampant) is about to bring back the Wittelsbach, and that Bavaria and Austria will join as a German Catholic state (France abetting).
The plight of Austria so exceeds in misery as to engage the sympathy of a miserable world. The present woes of South-Central Europe are largely due to the new political and territorial arrangements on ethnic lines—with exceptions. Quite right and proper; but the necessity of economic intimacy among these states is obvious, whether it be through a Danubian Confederation or a Zollverein, or whatever the name. It is reported that there is to be a congress of representatives from these states, to discuss ways and means to such an end.
The past year in Italy has been one of unrest and strikes. The unrest reached a climax in a singular episode. Owing to lack of coal and raw materials, the plants in the great metallurgical district of Northern Italy could not be run at a profit. Some had shut down; it was rumored that all would shut down. Starvation loomed before the workmen. In a sudden wild access of hope, the men in certain plants seized those plants and set up workmen committees to manage them—the Soviet system. The movement spread to practically all the metallurgic plants. The Communists tried to bring on a Red revolution; they incited to violence. They did not succeed. A Labor convention at Milan resolved for moderation. They asked Parliament to sanction the above-cited extraordinary proceedings, and to devise legislation which should govern an experiment in the new kind. Here Giolitti stepped in, and brought together representatives of Labor and Capital, who drew up a compromise agreement, in accordance with which the plants should be operated pending parliamentary action. The agreement was accepted by the workmen. The plants were returned to the owners, and everybody went back to work. Giolitti appointed a commission to draw up a new scheme of operation and report it to Parliament. It is expected to be some variation of the guild system. One awaits eagerly the publication of this new scheme and the experiment thereof.
An episode unique, truly Italian, replete with explosive material, yet almost bloodless. Still, one fails to see how the compromise and the promise of legislation can have greatly eased for the present the economic problem. The essential need is of coal and raw materials, and these cannot be compromised or legislated into existence. They must be obtained through credit. And Italian credit is not likely to be improved by invasion of the right of private property, however it may be explained or palliated. It is, however, to be hoped that the guild system on a grand scale may have a chance thoroughly to demonstrate itself.
Lenin, who had conceived the highest hopes, was disconcerted by the issue of the events above glanced at. He is sure to obstruct the new experiment.
At last the Adriatic controversy has been settled. By turns we hear that d’Annunzio has turned monk and dictator. He seems to have almost exhausted the possibilities of an active life.
Italy relinquished the Albanian adventure, after the Albanians had thrashed the Italian occupying troops. At this moment, when the Albanians were completely victorious, Giolitti came into power. With humorous appreciation of the situation, he told the Albanians that they had done quite right, that the Italians had no business there; and he acknowledged Albanian independence.
Some months since, representatives of the Sultan signed the Turkish Treaty at Sèvres; but the Treaty has not been ratified at Constantinople. The other day the Unspeakable One informed the powers that it is not the right time just now for ratifying the treaty. Now, how came the Grand Turk to deliver himself thus? Apparently because there is no one in Constantinople who is willing to brand himself a traitor by helping to ratify. Mustapha Kemal, the Nationalist asserter of the integrity of the Ottoman Empire, is once more making head against the Greek invaders of Anatolia, and he is expecting large reinforcements (released from the Wrangel front) from his Muscovite friends.
In March the Allies occupied Constantinople, and since then the Sultan has been practically a prisoner in his capital. In April Mustapha Kemal set up a republic in Anatolia and announced that he proposed to recover for the Republic all the territory formerly comprising the Ottoman Empire. He professed to consider the Sultan incompetent to issue orders, as one in duress; and he claimed the adhesion of all the Faithful.
The reader will remember the terms of the treaty: how it reduced the Ottoman Empire to very moderate limits—Asia Minor, less a shadowy Armenia, and less Cilicia and Kurdistan; in Europe only Constantinople, with an insignificant hinterland. Smyrna was not definitely sequestered, but it was to be administered for the present by the Greeks under Turkish suzerainty; its ultimate fate to be determined by a plébiscite.
The Allies wanted the treaty terms put into effect at once. But England and France had their hands full in Mesopotamia, Cilicia, and Syria, and could not spare troops for Anatolia; and Italy was not interested. In June Venizelos came to the rescue with an offer of a Greek army of 100,000 men and more, to subdue Anatolia. The offer was accepted and the Greeks started. We have had very little news of that campaign, but until quite recently what little news we had indicated Greek success. Kemal was greatly outnumbered, but he allied himself with Moscow. Moscow would support Kemal, would indeed support a Pan-Islamic movement, with Turkey at its head, provided the new Turkish Republic would turn Bolshevist. Bolshevism and Islam had seemed poles asunder, but it was found on a near look that they really blend sweetly; and Mustapha made his followers Red by order and announced that the Republic would be run on soviet lines. In return, some Red troops were sent him.
But just then came the Polish successes, and further succor was held up. Mustapha was really in difficulties for a time. But the latest advices indicate that Mustapha is getting the better of the Greeks. The Red reinforcements doubtless now en route (since there is peace with Poland, and Wrangel is out of the way) should finish off the Greeks. Moreover, Caucasus Armenia has been subdued, and the only possible obstruction to a perfect communication between Russia and Asia Minor is Georgia; and Georgia cannot long stand out. The Armenian question has been brought nearer to a settlement by extermination of the Armenians in Asia Minor. Now, what are the Allies going to do about it? What can they do about it?
The question whether or no the Unspeakable One should remain in Constantinople has again become purely academic. A kind of wizardry has always attached to the Bosphorus. Here Io suffered her strange transformation. Here the Spartan King Pausanias went mad and proposed to betray Greece to the Persians. The whole history of the Byzantine Empire is monstrous and unreal. And every statesman who essays the Turkish Question comes off with addled wits. The Sick Man has been abed these many lustrums, kept alive by the ministrations of his enemies. They would not know how to bestow the corpse. The ineffable comedy promises to continue.
* * *
I regret that I must forbear comment about many delectable things.
The League? No, I am too canny for that. But I will refer the reader to the conclusion of the Ninth Book of Plato’s Republic; he may find the answer there.
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