Front Page Titles (by Subject) 2: Militant or Imperialistic Nationalism - Nation, State, and Economy: Contributions to the Politics and History of Our Time
Return to Title Page for Nation, State, and Economy: Contributions to the Politics and History of Our Time
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
2: Militant or Imperialistic Nationalism - Ludwig von Mises, Nation, State, and Economy: Contributions to the Politics and History of Our Time 
Nation, State, and Economy: Contributions to the Politics and History of Our Time, trans. Leland B. Yeager, ed. Bettina Bien Greaves (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006).
About Liberty Fund:
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
Militant or Imperialistic Nationalism
The Nationality Question in Territories with Mixed Populations
The princely state strives restlessly for expansion of its territory and for increase in the number of its subjects. On the one hand it aims at the acquisition of land and fosters immigration; on the other hand it sets the strictest penalties against emigration. The more land and the more subjects, the more revenues and the more soldiers. Only in the size of the state does assurance of its preservation lie. Smaller states are always in danger of being swallowed up by larger ones.
For the free national state, all these arguments do not hold true. Liberalism knows no conquests, no annexations; just as it is indifferent towards the state itself, so the problem of the size of the state is unimportant to it. It forces no one against his will into the structure of the state. Whoever wants to emigrate is not held back. When a part of the people of the state wants to drop out of the union, liberalism does not hinder it from doing so. Colonies that want to become independent need only do so. The nation as an organic entity can be neither increased nor reduced by changes in states; the world as a whole can neither win nor lose from them.
Liberalism has been able to endure only in Western Europe and in America. In Central and Eastern Europe, after flourishing briefly, it was displaced again; its democratic program still lives on there only in the programs and more rarely in the deeds of the socialist parties. State practice has gradually perverted the pacifistic nationality principle of liberalism into its opposite, into the militant, imperialistic nationality principle of oppression. It has set up a new ideal that claims a value of its own, that of the sheer numerical size of the nation.
From the cosmopolitan standpoint, one must describe the splitting of mankind into different peoples as a circumstance that causes much trouble and costs. Much labor is spent on learning foreign languages and is wasted on translations. All cultural progress would make its way more easily, every contact between peoples would proceed better, if there were only one language. Even one who appreciates the immeasurable cultural value of diversity of material and intellectual arrangements and of the development of particular individual and national characters must admit this and must not deny that the progress of mankind would be made quite extraordinarily more difficult if there did not exist, besides the small nations numbering only a few hundred thousand or a few million souls, larger nations also.
But even the individual can experience the inconvenience of the multiplicity of languages. He notes it when he travels abroad, when he reads foreign writings, or when he wants to speak with his fellow men or write for them. The ordinary man may not care whether his nation is numerically larger or smaller, but for the intellectual worker this is of the greatest significance. For “for him language is more than a mere means of understanding in social contacts; it is for him one of his chief tools, indeed often his only tool, and one that he can scarcely change.”22 It is decisive for the success of literary work whether the author can make himself directly understood by a larger or a smaller number of persons. No one, therefore, desires a large size for his own nation more ardently than the poet and the scholarly writer, the intellectual leaders of nations. It is easy to understand why they may be enthusiastic about size. But that alone is far from explaining the popularity of this ideal.
For these leaders cannot in the long run even recommend any goals to the nation that the nation has not chosen itself. And there are still other ways to broaden the public for writers; the education of the people can be broadened, creating as many more readers and hearers as through diffusion of the national language abroad. The Scandinavian nations have trod this path. They seek national conquests not abroad but at home.
That the national state could become imperialistic, that, neglecting older principles, it could see a goal of its policy first in maintaining and then in increasing the number of members of the nation, even at the cost of the right of self-determination of individuals and of entire peoples and parts of peoples—for that development, circumstances were decisive that were foreign to the liberalism that had originated in the West and foreign to its pacifistic nationality principle. What was decisive was the fact that the peoples in the East do not have fully distinct areas of settlement but rather live locally mingled in broad territories, as well as the further fact that such mixing of peoples keeps occurring afresh through the migration of peoples. These two problems have brought militant or imperialistic nationalism to maturity. It is of German origin, for the problems out of which it arose first came onto the historical scene when liberalism reached German soil. But it has by no means remained limited to Germany; all peoples in a position to know that these circumstances are subjecting some of their fellow nationals to national alienation have followed the German people on the same path or will do so if history does not first find another solution to the problem.
Every observation of the problems to which we now turn must start from the fact that the conditions under which people live on particular parts of the earth’s surface are different. We would best recognize the significance of this fact by trying to disregard it. If the conditions of life were the same everywhere on the earth’s surface, then on the whole there would be no incentive for individuals and for peoples to change the places where they live.23
That the conditions of life are unequal, however, brings it about that—to use Ségur’s24 formulation—the history of mankind is the striving of peoples to progress from living in worse territories to better ones. World history is the history of national migrations.
National migrations take place either in forcible military form or in peaceful forms. The military form used to be the predominant one. The Goths, Vandals, Lombards, Normans, Huns, Avars, and Tartars seized their new homes with force and exterminated, drove away, or subjugated the local populations. Then there were two classes of different nationality in the country, the masters and the subjugated, which not only confronted each other as political and social classes but also were foreign to each other in ancestry, culture, and language. In the course of time these national contrasts disappeared, either because the conquerers were ethnically absorbed into the conquered or because the subjugated groups became assimilated to the victors. It has been centuries since this process took place in Spain and Italy, in Gaul, and in England.
In Eastern Europe there are still broad territories where this assimilation process has not begun at all or is only just beginning. Between the Baltic barons and their Estonian and Latvian tenants, between the Magyar or Magyarized nobles of Hungary and the Slavic or Rumanian peasants and farm workers, between the German townspeople of the Moravian cities and the Czech proletarians, between the Italian landlords of Dalmatia and the Slavic peasants and farm hands, the deep gap of national differences yawns even today.
The doctrine of the modern state and modern freedom that was developed in Western Europe knows nothing of these conditions. The problem of nationally mixed populations does not exist for it. For it, the formation of nations is a completed historical process. Frenchmen and Englishmen today no longer take any foreign components into their European homelands; they live in compact territories of settlement. If individual foreigners do come to them, then they are easily and painlessly assimilated. No frictions between nationalities could arise from applying the nationality principle on English and French soil in Europe (but things are different in the colonies and in the United States). And so the opinion could also arise that the full application of the nationality principle could assure eternal peace. For since, according to the liberal view, wars of course arise only through kings’ lust for conquest, there can be no more war once every people is constituted as a separate state. The older nationality principle is peaceful; it wants no war between peoples and believes that no reason for one exists.
Then it is suddenly discovered that the world does not show the same face everywhere as on the Thames and on the Seine. The movements of the year 1848 first lifted the veil that despotism had spread over the mixture of peoples in the empire of the Habsburgs; the revolutionary movements that later broke out in Russia, in Macedonia and Albania, in Persia and China, revealed the same problems there also. As long as the absolutism of the princely state had oppressed all in the same way, these problems could not be recognized. Now, however, scarcely as the struggle for freedom is beginning, they loom menacingly.25
It seemed obvious to work for their solution with the traditional means of the Western doctrine of freedom. The majority principle, whether applied in the form of a referendum or in some other way, was considered suitable for solving all difficulties. That is democracy’s answer. But here, was such a solution thinkable and possible at all? Could it have established peace here?
The basic idea of liberalism and of democracy is the harmony of interests of all sections of a nation and then the harmony of interests of all nations. Since the rightly understood interest of all strata of the population leads to the same political goals and demands, the decision on political questions can be left to the vote of the entire people. It may be that the majority errs. But only through errors that it itself has committed and whose consequences it itself suffers can a people achieve insight and can it become politically mature. Errors once committed will not be repeated; people will recognize where the best in truth is to be found. Liberal theory denies that there are special interests of particular classes or groups opposing the common good. It can therefore see only justice in the decisions of the majority; for the errors that were committed revenge themselves on all, both on those who had supported them and on the outvoted minority, which also must pay for not having understood how to win the majority over to its side.
As soon, however, as one admits the possibility and even the necessity of genuinely opposed interests, the democratic principle also has lost its validity as a “just” principle. If Marxism and Social Democracy see an irreconcilable opposition of conflicting class interests everywhere, then they must, consistently, also reject the democratic principle. This has long been overlooked, since Marxism, precisely among those two nations among whom it had been able to gain the largest number of adherents, the Germans and Russians, has pursued not only socialist but also democratic goals. But that is only a matter of historical accident, the consequence of quite particular circumstances coming together. The Marxists fought for the right to vote, freedom of the press, and the right to form associations and assemblies as long as they were not the ruling party; where they came to power they did nothing more quickly than set these freedoms aside.26 That quite coincides with the behavior of the Church, which behaves democratically wherever others rule but, where it itself rules, wants nothing of democracy. A majority decision can never be “just” for the Marxists as it is for liberalism; for them it is always only the expression of the will of a particular class. Even seen from this angle alone, therefore, socialism and democracy are irreconcilable contraries; the term Social Democrat contains a contradictio in adjecto. For the Marxists, only the triumph of the proletariat, the provisional goal and the end of historical evolution, is good; everything else is bad.
Like the Marxists, the nationalists also deny the doctrine of the harmony of all interests. Between peoples irreconcilable oppositions are said to exist; here one can never let things depend on the decision of the majority if one has the power to oppose it.
Democracy seeks first to solve the political difficulties that impede the establishment of a national state in territories with nationally mixed populations by those means that have proved themselves in nationally unified countries. The majority should decide; the minority should yield to the majority. That shows, however, that it does not see the problem at all, that it does not have any inkling of where the difficulty lies. Yet belief in the correctness and the all-healing power of the majority principle was so strong that people for a long time would not recognize that nothing could be accomplished with it here. The obvious failure was always attributed to other causes. There were writers and politicians who traced the national disorders in Austria to the fact that there still was no democracy in its territory; if the country should become democratically governed, then all frictions between its peoples would disappear. Precisely the opposite is true. National struggles can arise only on the soil of freedom; where all peoples are subjugated—as in Austria before March 1848—then there can be no dissensions among them.27 The violence of the struggles between the nationalities grew to the extent that the old Austria approached democracy. They were not ended at all by the dissolution of the state; they are carried on only more bitterly in the new states, where ruling majorities confront national minorities without the mediation of the authoritarian state, which softens much harshness.
To recognize the deeper grounds for the failure of democracy in the nationality struggles of our time, one must first of all strive for clarity about the essence of democratic government.
Democracy is self-determination, self-government, self-rule. In democracy, too, the citizen submits to laws and obeys state authorities and civil servants. But the laws were enacted with his concurrence; the bearers of official power got into office with his indirect or direct concurrence. The laws can be repealed or amended, officeholders can be removed, if the majority of the citizens so wishes. That is the essence of democracy; that is why the citizens in a democracy feel free.
He who is compelled to obey laws on whose enactment he has no influence, he who must endure a government ruling over him in whose formation he can take no part, is, in the political sense, unfree and is politically without rights, even though his personal rights may be protected by law.28 That does not mean that every minority is politically unfree in the democratic state. Minorities can become the majority, and this possibility influences their position and the way that the majority must behave towards them. The majority parties must always take care that their actions do not strengthen the minority and do not offer it the opportunity to come to power. For the thoughts and programs of the minority affect the entire people as a political entity, whether or not they are able to prevail. The minority is the defeated party, but in the struggle of parties it has had the possibility of winning and, as a rule, despite the defeat, it maintains the hope of winning some time later and becoming the majority.
The members of national minorities that do not hold a ruling position by special privilege, are, however, politically unfree. Their political activity can never lead to success, for the means of political influence on their fellow men, the spoken and written word, are bound up with nationality. In the great national political discussions from which political decisions follow, the citizens of foreign nationality stand aside as mute spectators. They are negotiated about along with others, but they do not join in the negotiations. The German in Prague must pay municipal assessments; he too is affected by every decree of the municipality, but he must stand aside when the political struggle rages over control of the municipality. What he wishes and demands in the municipality is a matter of indifference to his Czech fellow citizens. For he has no means of influencing them unless he gives up the special ways of his people, accommodates himself to the Czechs, learns their language, and adopts their way of thinking and feeling. So long, however, as he does not do this, so long as he remains within his circle of inherited speech and culture, he is excluded from all political effectiveness. Although he also may formally, according to the letter of the law, be a citizen with full rights, although he may, because of his social position, even belong to the politically privileged classes, in truth he is politically without rights, a second-class citizen, a pariah; he is ruled by others without himself having a share in ruling.
The political ideas that cause parties to come and go and states to be created and destroyed are bound up with nationality today just as little as any other cultural phenomenon. Like artistic and scientific ideas, they are the common property of all nations; no single nation can escape their influence. Yet every nation develops currents of ideas in its own special way and assimilates them differently. In every people they encounter another national character and another constellation of conditions. The idea of Romanticism was international, but every nation developed it differently, filled it with a particular content, and made something else out of it. We speak rightly, therefore, of German Romanticism as a particular trend in art that we can contrast with the Romanticism of the French or the Russians. And it is no different with political ideas. Socialism had to become something different in Germany, something different in France, something different in Russia. Everywhere, indeed, it met with a particular way of political thinking and feeling, with another social and historical development—in short, with other people and other conditions.
We now recognize the reason why national minorities that hold political power because of special privileges hang on to these privileges and to the ruling position bound up with them incomparably more tenaciously than do other privileged groups. A ruling class not of different nationality from the ruled still retains, even when overthrown, a greater political influence than would accrue to it according to the number of its members among the new rulers. It retains at least the possibility, under the new conditions, of fighting for power anew as the opposition party, of defending its political ideas, and of leading to new victories. The English Tories, as often as they were deprived of their privileges by a reform, have still celebrated a political resurrection every time. The French dynasties have not lost through dethronement all prospect of regaining the crown. They were able to form mighty parties that worked for a restoration; and if their efforts did not lead to success during the Third Republic, this was due to the intransigence and personal wretchedness of the pretender at the time and not to any fact that such efforts were quite hopeless. Rulers of foreign nationality, however, once they have left the scene, can never get power back unless they have the help of foreign arms; and, what is much more important, as soon as they no longer hold power, they not only are deprived of their privileges but are completely powerless politically. Not only are they unable to maintain influence corresponding to their numbers, but, as members of a foreign nationality, they no longer have any possibility at all of even being politically active or of having influence on others. For the political thoughts that now become dominant belong to a cultural circle that is foreign to them and are thought, spoken, and written in a language that they do not understand; they themselves, however, are not in a position to make their political views felt in this environment. From being rulers they become not citizens with equal rights but powerless pariahs who have no say when matters concerning them are being debated. If—without regard to theoretical and antiquarian misgivings that might be raised against it—we want to see a principle of modern democracy in the old postulate of the estates, nil de nobis sine nobis [nothing concerning us without us], we also see that it cannot be implemented for national minorities. They are governed; they do not have a hand in governing; they are politically subjugated. Their “treatment” by the national majority may be quite a good one; they may also remain in possession of numerous nonpolitical and even a few political privileges; yet they retain the feeling of being oppressed just because they are “treated” after all and may not take part.
The large German landowners in those Austrian crown lands that had a Slavic majority in the legislature felt themselves—despite their electoral privileges, which assured them a special representation in the provincial chamber and in the provincial committee—nevertheless oppressed, since they were faced by a majority whose political thinking they could not influence. For the same reason, German officeholders and house owners who possessed an electoral privilege that assured them a third of the seats on the municipal council in a municipality with a Slavic council majority still felt oppressed.
No less politically powerless are national minorities that never have possessed political dominance. They need to be especially mentioned even as do members of historyless nations who have lived as political inferiors for centuries under foreign rulers and immigrants into colonial settlement areas overseas. Accidental circumstances may temporarily give them the possibility of political influence; in the long run this is out of the question. If they do not want to remain politically without influence, then they must adapt their political thinking to that of their environment; they must give up their special national characteristics and their language.
In polyglot territories, therefore, the introduction of a democratic constitution does not mean the same thing at all as introduction of democratic autonomy. Majority rule signifies something quite different here than in nationally uniform territories; here, for a part of the people, it is not popular rule but foreign rule.29 If national minorities oppose democratic arrangements, if, according to circumstances, they prefer princely absolutism, an authoritarian regime, or an oligarchic constitution, they do so because they well know that democracy means the same thing for them as subjugation under the rule of others. That holds true everywhere and also, so far, for all times. The often cited example of Switzerland is not relevant here. Swiss democratic local administration is possible without frictions under the nationality circumstances of Switzerland only because internal migrations between the individual nationalities have long since had no significance there. If, say, migrations of French Swiss to the east should lead to stronger foreign national minorities in the German cantons, then the national peace of Switzerland would already have vanished long ago.
For all friends of democracy, for all those who see the political remedy only in the self-administration and self-government of a people, this must cause severe distress. The German democrats of Austria were in this position, above all, as well as the few honorable democrats that the Hungarian people counted in their midst. It was they who were looking for new forms of democracy to make democracy possible even in polyglot countries.
Furthermore, people tend to recommend proportional representation as a remedy for the defects of the majority system. For nationally mixed territories, however, proportional representation is no way out of these difficulties. A system of proportional representation is applicable only to elections but not also to decisions about acts of legislation, administration, and jurisprudence. Proportional representation makes it impossible, on the one hand, that one party, through gerrymandering, be represented less in the representative body than corresponds to its strength; on the other hand it assures the minority of representation in the bodies of elected representatives and so offers it the possibility of exercising a check on the majority and of making its own voice heard. All that does not operate for a national minority. Being an actual minority in the people, it can never hope to obtain a majority in the representative body through proportional representation. There remains to it, therefore, only the second significance of proportional representation. But the mere possibility of having some seats in the representative body is of little value for the national minority. Even when its representatives can sit in the representative body and take a part in deliberations, speeches, and decisions, the national minority still remains excluded from collaboration in political life. A minority is politically collaborating in the true sense of the word only if its voice is heard because it has prospects of coming to the helm some time. For a national minority, however, that is ruled out. Thus the activity of its deputies remains limited from the beginning to fruitless criticism. The words that they speak have no significance because they can lead to no political goal. In voting, their votes can be decisive only when nationally unimportant questions are on the agenda; in all other questions—and these are most of them—the national majority stands against it united like a phalanx. To realize this, one need only think of the roles that the Danes, Poles, and Alsatians played in the German Reichstag and the Croats in the Hungarian parliament or of the position that the Germans had in the Bohemian provincial legislature. If things were different in the Austrian Chamber of Deputies, if here, because no nation had an absolute majority, it was possible for the “delegation” of every single nation to become part of the majority, well, this proves nothing to the contrary because, after all, Austria was an authoritarian state in which not parliament but the government held all the cards. Precisely the Austrian Chamber of Deputies, in which the formation of parties was conditioned above all by tensions among nationalities, has shown how slightly a parliamentary collaboration of different peoples is possible.
It is therefore understandable why the principle of proportional representation also cannot be regarded as a usable means of overcoming the difficulties that arise from different nations living together. Where it has been introduced, experience has shown that it is admittedly quite usable for certain purposes, that it overcomes many frictions, but that it is far from being the remedy for national controversies that well-meaning utopians have considered it.
In Austria, the classical land of the nationality struggle, the proposal emerged in the first decade of the twentieth century for overcoming national difficulties by introducing national autonomy on the basis of the personality principle. These proposals, which came from the Social Democrats Karl Renner30 and Otto Bauer,31 envisaged transformation of the Austrian authoritarian state into a democratic people’s state. Legislation and administration of the entire state and the local administration of the autonomous areas should not extend to nationally disputed affairs; these should be administered in the local administrations by the members of the nations themselves, organized according to the personality principle, over whom, then, there should stand national councils as highest authorities of the individual nations. The educational system and the promotion of art and science, above all, were to be regarded as national issues.
Here we are not speaking of the significance that the program of national autonomy had in the historical development of the nationality program of the German-Austrians or of the basic presuppositions from which it proceeded. Here we must face only the question whether this program could have provided a satisfying solution to the fundamental difficulty that arises when different peoples live together. We can only reply “no” to this question. As before, those facts would still remain that exclude a national minority from participation in power and that, despite the letter of the law, which calls on them to join in governing, allow them to be not corulers but only the ruled. It is quite unthinkable from the start to split up all matters by nationality. It is impossible in a nationality-mixed city to create two police forces, perhaps a German and a Czech, each of which could take action only against members of its own nationality. It is impossible to create a double railroad administration in a bilingual country, one under the control only of Germans, a second only of Czechs. If that is not done, however, then the above-mentioned difficulties remain. The situation is not as though handling political problems directly connected with language was all that caused national difficulties; rather, these difficulties permeate all of public life.
National autonomy would have offered national minorities the possibility of administering and arranging their school systems independently. They had this possibility to a certain degree, however, even without the implementation of this program, though at their own cost. National autonomy would have allowed them a special right of taxation for these purposes and, on the other hand, relieved them from contributing to the schools of other nationalities. That alone, however, is not worth as much as the authors of the program of national autonomy thought.
The position that the national minority would have obtained from the grant of national autonomy would have approximated the position of those privileged colonies of foreigners that the estate system established and that the princely state then established on models bequeathed by the estate system, perhaps like the position of the Saxons in Transylvania. This would not have been satisfactory in modern democracy. Generally speaking, the whole line of thought about national autonomy looks back more to the medieval conditions of the estate system than to the conditions of modern democracy. Given the impossibility of creating modern democracy in a multinational state, its champions, when as democrats they rejected the princely state, necessarily had to turn back to the ideals of the estate system.
If one looks for a model of national autonomy in certain problems of organization of minority churches, then this is only quite superficially a correct comparison. It is overlooked that since the force of faith no longer can, as it once could, determine the entire lifestyle of the individual, there no longer exists between members of different churches today that impossibility of political understanding that does indeed exist between different peoples because of differences of language and the resulting differences in styles of thinking and of outlook.
The personality principle can bring no solution to the difficulties of our problem because it indulges in extreme self-deception about the scope of the questions at issue. If only language questions, so called in the narrower sense, were the object of the national struggle, then one could think of paving the way for peace between peoples by special treatment of those questions. But the national struggle is not at all limited to schools and educational institutions and to the official language of the courts and authorities. It embraces all of political life, even all that which, as Renner and many others with him believe, ties a unifying bond around the nations, the so-called economic aspect. It is astonishing that this could be misunderstood precisely by Austrians, who, after all, were bound to see every day how everything became a national bone of contention—road construction and tax reforms, bank charters and public purveyances, customs tariffs and expositions, factories and hospitals. And purely political questions above all. Every foreign-policy question is the object of national struggle in the multinational state, and never did this show up more clearly in Austria-Hungary than during the World War. Every report from the battlefield was received differently by the different nationalities: some celebrated when others grieved; some felt downcast when others were happy. All these questions are controversial by nationality; and if they are not included in the solution of the nationality question, then the solution just is not complete.
The problem that the national question poses is precisely that the state and administration are inevitably constructed on a territorial basis in the present stage of economic development and so inevitably must embrace the members of different nationalities in territories of mixed language.
The great multinational states, Russia, Austria, Hungary, and Turkey, have now fallen apart. But that too is no solution to the constitutional problem in polyglot territories. The dissolution of the multinational state gets rid of many superfluous complications because it separates territories from each other that are compactly inhabited by the members of one people.32 The dissolution of Austria solves the national question for the interior of Bohemia, for Western Galicia, and for the greater part of Carniola. But, as before, it remains a problem in the isolated German cities and villages that are sprinkled in the Czech-language territory of Bohemia, in Moravia, in Eastern Galicia, in the Gottschee [Kočevje] district, etc.
In polyglot territories the application of the majority principle leads not to the freedom of all but to the rule of the majority over the minority. The situation is made no better by the fact that the majority, in inner recognition of its injustice, shows itself anxious to assimilate the minorities nationally by compulsion. That attitude of course also implies—as a keen writer has noted—an expression of the nationality principle, an acknowledgement of the demand that state boundaries should not stretch beyond the boundaries of peoples.33 Still the tormented peoples wait for the Theseus who shall overcome this modern Procrustes.
A way must be found out of these difficulties, however. It is not a question only of small minorities (for example, remnants of migrations that have long since come to a standstill), as one would tend to think if one assessed this situation only from the point of view of a few German cities in Moravia or Hungary or of the Italian colonies on the east coast of the Adriatic. The great present-day migrations of peoples have given all these questions a heightened importance. Every day new migrations create new polyglot territories; and the problem that a few decades ago was visible only in Austria has long since become a world problem, although in another form.
The catastrophe of the World War has shown to what abyss that problem has led mankind. And all the streams of blood that have flowed in this war have not brought it a hair’s-breadth closer to solution. In polyglot territories, democracy seems like oppression to the minority. Where only the choice is open either oneself to suppress or to be suppressed, one easily decides for the former. Liberal nationalism gives way to militant antidemocratic imperialism.
The Migration Problem and Nationalism
The variety of conditions of life in the individual parts of the earth’s surface touches off migrations of individual persons and entire peoples. If the world economy were managed by the decree of an authority that surveyed everything and ordered what was most appropriate, then only the absolutely most favorable conditions of production would be utilized. Nowhere would a less productive mine or a less productive field be in use if more productive mines or fields lay unused elsewhere. Before a less productive condition of production is put to use, one must always first consider whether there do not exist more productive ones. Less productive conditions of production that might be in use would be discarded at once if others should be found whose yield would be so much greater that an increased yield would be attained from discarding the old and introducing the new sources of production, even despite the loss to be expected because the immovably invested capital would become useless. Since the workers have to settle in places of production or in their immediate neighborhood, the consequences for the conditions of settlement follow automatically.
The natural conditions of production are by no means unchangeable. In the course of history they have undergone great changes. Changes can take place in nature itself, for example, through changes of climate, volcanic catastrophes, and other elemental events. Then there are the changes that occur from human activity, for example, exhaustion of mines and of the fertility of the soil. More important, however, are changes in human knowledge, which overturn traditional views about the productivity of the factors of production. New needs are awakened, either from the development of the human character or because the discovery of new materials or forces has stimulated them. Previously unknown production possibilities are discovered, either through the discovery of hitherto unknown natural forces and putting them to use or through the progress of productive techniques, which makes it possible to tap natural forces that had been unusable or less usable before. It follows that it would not be enough for the director of the world economy to determine the locations of production once and for all; he would continually have to make changes in them according to changing circumstances, and every change would have to go hand in hand with a resettlement of workers.
What would happen under ideal world socialism by order of the general director of the world economy is achieved in the ideal of the free world economy by the reign of competition. The less productive enterprises succumb to the competition of the more productive. Primary production and industry migrate from places of lower-yielding conditions of production to places of higher-yielding ones; and with them migrate workers and also capital, so far as it is mobile. The result for the movement of peoples is thus the same in either case: the stream of population goes from the less fruitful territories to the more fruitful.
That is the basic law of migrations of persons and peoples. It holds true in the same degree for the socialist and the free world economy; it is identical with the law under whose operation the distribution of population takes place in every smaller territory cut off from the outside world. It always holds true, even though its effectiveness may be disturbed in greater or lesser degree by extra-economic factors also, perhaps by ignorance of conditions, by sentiments that we are accustomed to calling love of home, or by intervention of an external power that hinders migration.
The law of migration and location makes it possible for us to form an exact concept of relative overpopulation. The world, or an isolated country from which emigration is impossible, is to be regarded as overpopulated in the absolute sense when the optimum of population—that point beyond which an increase in the number of people would mean not an increase but a decrease of welfare—is exceeded.34 A country is relatively overpopulated where, because of the large size of the population, work must go on under less favorable conditions of production than in other countries, so that, ceteris paribus, the same application of capital and labor yields a smaller output there. With complete mobility of persons and goods, relatively overpopulated territories would give up their population surplus to other territories until this disproportion had disappeared.
The principles of freedom, which have gradually been gaining ground everywhere since the eighteenth century, gave people freedom of movement. The growing security of law facilitates capital movements, improvement of transportation facilities, and the location of production away from the points of consumption. That coincides—not by chance—with a great revolution in the entire technique of production and with drawing the entire earth’s surface into world trade. The world is gradually approaching a condition of free movement of persons and capital goods. A great migration movement sets in. Many millions left Europe in the nineteenth century to find new homes in the New World, and sometimes in the Old World also. No less important is the migration of the means of production: capital export. Capital and labor move from territories of less favorable conditions of production to territories of more favorable conditions of production.
Now, however—as a result of a historical process of the past—the earth is divided up among nations. Each nation possesses definite territories that are inhabited exclusively or predominantly by its own members. Only a part of these territories has just that population which, in conformity with the conditions of production, it would also have under complete freedom of movement, so that neither an inflow nor an outflow of people would take place. The remaining territories are settled in such a way that under complete freedom of movement they would have either to give up or to gain population.
Migrations thus bring members of some nations into the territories of other nations. That gives rise to particularly characteristic conflicts between peoples.
In that connection we are not thinking of conflicts arising out of the purely economic side effects of migrations. In territories of emigration, emigration drives up the wage rate; in territories of immigration, immigration depresses the wage rate. That is a necessary side effect of migration of workers and not, say, as Social Democratic doctrine wants to have believed, an accidental consequence of the fact that the emigrants stem from territories of low culture and low wages. The motive of the emigrant is precisely the fact that in his old homeland, because of its relative overpopulation, he can get no higher wage. If this reason were absent, if there were no difference in the productivity of labor between Galicia and Massachusetts, then no Galician would emigrate. If one wants to raise the European territories of emigration to the level of development of the eastern states of the Union, then there is just nothing else to do than let the emigration proceed to the point that the relative overpopulation of the former and the relative underpopulation of the latter have disappeared. Clearly, American workers view this immigration just as unhappily as European employers view the emigration. Indeed, the Junker east of the Elbe thinks no differently about the flight of workers from the land when his tenant goes to West Germany than when he goes to America; the unionized worker of the Rhineland is disturbed by immigration from the lands east of the Elbe no less than members of a Pennsylvania trade union. But that in the one case the possibility exists of forbidding the emigration and immigration, or at least of impeding it, while in the other case such measures could be thought of by at most a few eccentrics born a couple of centuries too late, is only to be attributed to the fact that, besides damage to the interests of individuals in the case of international migration, other interests also are damaged.
Emigrants who settle in previously uninhabited territories can preserve and further cultivate their national character in the new home also. Spatial separation can lead over time to the emigrants’ developing a new independent nationality. Such development of independence was in any case easier in times when transport and communication still had to struggle with great difficulties and when the written transmission of the national culture was greatly impeded by the slight diffusion of literacy. With the present-day development of the means of transportation and communication, with the relatively high degree of popular education and the wide dissemination of the monuments of national literature, such national splitting off and the formation of new national cultures is far more difficult. The trend of the times works rather toward convergence of the cultures of peoples living far apart, if not even toward a blending of nations. The bond of common language and culture that links England with its faraway dominions and with the United States of America, which now will soon have been politically independent for one and a half centuries, has become not looser but closer. A people that today sends out colonists into an uninhabited territory can count on the emigrants’ keeping their national character.
If, however, the emigration is directed to already inhabited territories, then various possibilities are conceivable. It may be that the immigrants come in such masses or possess such superiority through their physical, moral, or intellectual constitution that they either entirely displace the original inhabitants, as the Indians of the prairies were displaced by the palefaces and were driven to destruction, or that they at least achieve domination in their new home, as would perhaps have been the case with the Chinese in the western states of the Union if legislation had not restricted their immigration in time or as could be the case in the future with the European immigrants into North America and Australia. Things are different if immigration takes place into a country whose inhabitants, because of their numbers and their cultural and political organization, are superior to the immigrants. Then it is the immigrants who sooner or later must take on the nationality of the majority.35
The great discoveries had made the whole surface of the earth known to Europeans since the end of the Middle Ages. Now all traditional views about the inhabitability of the earth gradually had to change; the New World, with its excellent conditions of production, was bound to attract settlers from old and now relatively overpopulated Europe. At first, of course, it was only adventurers and political malcontents who moved far away to find a new home. Reports of their successes then drew others after them, at first only a few, then ever more and more, until finally in the nineteenth century, after improvement of the means of ocean transportation and the removal of limitations on freedom of movement in Europe, millions went migrating.
Here is not the place to investigate how it happened that all colonial land suitable for settlement by white Europeans was colonized by the English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Here it is enough for us to recognize the outcome that the best parts of the earth’s surface inhabitable by whites thereby became English national property and that not even the Spaniards and Portuguese in America, and scarcely also the Dutch in South Africa and the French in Canada, enter into consideration. And this outcome is extremely important. It made the Anglo-Saxons the most numerous nation among the white civilized peoples. This, coupled with the circumstance that the English possess the largest merchant fleet in the world and that they administer the best territories of the tropics as political rulers, had led to the fact that the world today wears an English face. The English language and English culture have impressed their stamp on our times.
For England this means above all that Englishmen who leave the island of Great Britain because of its relative overpopulation can almost always settle in territories where the English language and English culture prevail. When a Briton goes abroad, whether to Canada or to the United States or to South Africa or to Australia, he does cease to be a Briton, but he does not cease to be an Anglo-Saxon. It is true that the English, until quite recently, did not appreciate this circumstance, that they paid no special attention to emigration, that they faced the dominions and the United States indifferently, coldly, and sometimes even with hostility, and that only under the influence of Germany’s efforts directed against them did they begin to seek closer economic and political relations first with the dominions and then with the United States. It is just as true that the other nations, which had been less successful in acquiring overseas possessions, also long paid just as little attention to this development of affairs as the English themselves and that they envied the English more for their rich tropical colonies, for their trade and seaport colonies, and for shipping, industry, and trade than for possession of territories of settlement, which were less appreciated.
Only as the stream of emigrants, flowing abundantly at first only from England, also came to be fed more from other European territories did people begin to concern themselves with the national fate of the emigrants. People noticed that while the English emigrants could maintain their mother tongue and national culture, home customs, and usages of their fathers in their new homes, the other European emigrants overseas gradually ceased to be Dutchmen, Swedes, Norwegians, etc., and adapted themselves to the nationality of their environment. People saw that this alienation was unavoidable, that it occurred quicker here, slower there, but that it never failed to occur and that the emigrants—at the latest in the third generation, most already in the second, and not seldom even in the first—became members of Anglo-Saxon culture. The nationalists who dreamed about the size of their nation viewed this with sorrow, but it seemed to them that nothing could be done about it. They founded associations that endowed schools, libraries, and newspapers for the colonists to check the emigrants’ national alienation; but what they achieved thereby was not much. People had no illusions about the fact that the reasons for emigration were of compelling economic nature and that the emigration as such could not be impeded. Only a poet like Freiligrath could ask the emigrants:
The statesman and the economist well knew that there were more wine and more grain overseas than at home.
As late as the beginning of the nineteenth century people could scarcely suspect the significance of this problem. Ricardo’s theory of foreign trade still started with the assumption that the free mobility of capital and labor exists only within the boundaries of a country. In the home country all local differences in the profit rate and the wage rate are evened out by movements of capital and workers. Not so for differences between several countries. Lacking there was that free mobility which would ultimately be bound to cause capital and labor to flow from the country offering less favorable conditions of production to the country of more favorable conditions. A range of emotional factors (“which I should be sorry to see weakened,” the patriot and politician Ricardo interjects here into the exposition of the theorist) resists that. Capital and workers remain in the country, even though they thereby suffer a loss of income, and turn to those branches of production having, while not absolutely, still relatively more favorable conditions.36 The basis of the free-trade theory is thus the fact that noneconomic reasons keep capital and labor from moving across national boundaries, even if this seems advantageous for economic motives. This may have been true on the whole in the days of Ricardo, but for a long time it has no longer been true.
But if the basic assumption of Ricardo’s doctrine of the effects of free trade falls, then this doctrine must also fall along with it. There is no basis for seeking a fundamental difference between the effects of freedom in domestic trade and in foreign trade. If the mobility of capital and labor internally differs only in degree from their mobility between countries, then economic theory can also make no fundamental distinction between the two. Rather, it must necessarily reach the conclusion that the tendency inheres in free trade to draw labor forces and capital to the locations of the most favorable natural conditions of production without regard to political and national boundaries. In the last analysis, therefore, unrestricted free trade must lead to a change in the conditions of settlement on the entire surface of the earth—from the countries with less favorable conditions of production capital and labor flow to the countries with more favorable conditions of production.
The free-trade theory modified in this way, just like the doctrine of Ricardo, also reaches the conclusion that from the purely economic point of view nothing speaks against free trade and everything against protectionism. But since it leads to quite different results regarding the effect of free trade on locational shifts of capital and labor, it presents a quite changed point of departure for testing the extraeconomic reasons for and against the protective system.
If one sticks with the Ricardian assumption that capital and labor are not impelled to move abroad even by more favorable conditions of production, then it turns out that the same applications of capital and labor lead to different results in the individual countries. There are richer and poorer nations. Trade-policy interventions can change nothing about that. They cannot make the poorer nations richer. The protectionism of the richer nations, however, appears completely senseless. If one drops that Ricardian assumption, then one sees a tendency prevail over the entire earth toward equalization of the rate of return on capital and of the wage of labor. Then, finally, there no longer are poorer and richer nations but only more densely and less densely settled and cultivated countries.
There can be no doubt that, even then, Ricardo and his school would have advocated nothing other than the policy of free trade, since they could not have avoided recognizing that protective tariffs are not the way out of these difficulties. For England, however, this problem never existed. Its rich holdings of territories for settlement lets emigration appear a matter of national indifference. The British emigrants can maintain their national character even far away; they cease to be Englishmen and Scots, but they remain Anglo-Saxons, and the war showed anew what that means politically.
For the German people, though, things are different. For reasons that go far back, the German nation has no territories for settlement at its disposal where emigrants can maintain their German character. Germany is relatively overpopulated; it must sooner or later yield up its surplus population, and if for some reason or other it could not or would not do this, then the standard of living of the Germans would have to sink to a lower level. If, however, Germans do emigrate, then they lose their national character, if not in the first generation, then in the second, third, or at the latest the fourth.
That was the problem that German policy saw posed for it after the establishment of the empire of the Hohenzollerns. The German people faced one of those great decisions that a nation does not have to make every century. It was fateful that the solution to this great problem became urgent before another, no less great, problem was solved, that of the establishment of the German national state. Even only to comprehend a question of this significance and of this historical gravity in its full scope would have required a generation that could decide its fate fearlessly and freely. That, however, was not allowed to the German people of the Great Prussian Reich, the subjects of the twenty-two federated princes. In these questions, also, it did not take its fate into its own hands; it left the most important decision to the generals and diplomats; it followed its leaders blindly without noticing that it was being led to the precipice. The end was defeat.
As early as the beginning of the thirties of the nineteenth century, people in Germany had begun to concern themselves with the problem of emigration. Now it was the emigrants themselves who made the unsuccessful attempt to establish a German state in North America; now again it was the Germans at home who sought to take the organization of emigration into their hands. That these efforts could lead to no success is not surprising. How could the attempt to establish a new state succeed for the Germans, who in their own country were not even able to transform the pitiable multiplicity of several dozen patrimonial principalities, with their enclaves, their hereditary affiliations, and their family laws, into a national state? How could Germans have found the strength to assert themselves out there in the wide world among Yankees and Creoles when at home they were not even able to put an end to the farcical rule of the miniature thrones of the Rusin and Schwarzburg princes? Where was the German subject to get the political insight that politics on the grand scale requires when it was forbidden to him at home “to judge to the extent of his limited intellect the actions of the supreme state authority?”37
In the middle of the seventies of the last century the problem of emigration had acquired such significance that its solution could no longer be dragged out. The decisive thing was not that emigration was steadily growing. According to data of the United States, the immigration of Germans there (not counting Austrians) had risen from 6,761 in the decade 1821 to 1830 to 822,007 in the decade 1861 to 1870; then, right after 1874, a dropoff—although at first only temporary—occurred in the German emigration to the United States. Far more important was that it was becoming ever clearer that the conditions of production in Germany for agriculture and for the most important branches of industry were so unfavorable that competition with foreign countries was no longer possible. The extension of the railroad net in the countries of Eastern Europe and the development of ocean and river shipping made it possible to import agricultural products into Germany in such quantity and at such low prices that the continued existence of the bulk of German agricultural units was most seriously threatened. Already from the fifties Germany was a rye-importing country; since 1875 it has also been a wheat-importing country. A number of branches of industry, particularly the iron industry, also had to struggle with growing difficulties.
It is clear where the causes lay, even though people of the time may have felt it only vaguely. The superiority of the natural conditions of production of foreign countries made itself all the more strongly evident as the continuing development of means of transportation cheapened freight rates. People did try to explain the lesser competitive capacity of German production in another way; and in that connection, as indeed is generally characteristic of the discussion of problems of economic policy in Germany during the last few decades, people concerned themselves predominantly with nonessential side issues and so quite overlooked the great significance of the principles of the problem.
If people had recognized the fundamental significance of these problems and had grasped the deeper interconnection of things, then they would have had to say that Germany was relatively overpopulated and that to restore a distribution of population over the entire surface of the earth corresponding to the conditions of production, part of the Germans had to emigrate. Whoever did not share misgivings of national policy about a decline in the size of population or even about an end to the growth of population in Germany would have been content with this judgment. In any case he would have consoled himself with the fact that individual branches of production would move abroad partially in such a way that German entrepreneurs would establish enterprises abroad so that the consumption of the entrepreneurs’ incomes would take place in the German Reich and would thereby expand the food-supply margin of the German people.
The patriot who sees his ideal in a large number of people would have had to recognize that his goal could not be reached without reduction of the standard of living of the nation unless the possibility were created, through acquiring colonies for settlement, of retaining part of the surplus population within the nation despite its emigration from the mother country. He would then have had to turn all his strength to acquisition of land for settlement. In the middle of the seventies of the nineteenth century, and even a decade later, conditions were not yet such that it would not have been possible to reach this goal. In any case it could have been reached only in association with England. England was at that time and for long afterwards still troubled by a great concern, by anxiety that its Indian possession could be seriously threatened by Russia. For that reason it needed an ally who would have been in a position to hold Russia in check. Only the German Reich might have done that. Germany was strong enough to guarantee England the possession of India; Russia could never have thought of attacking India as long as it was not sure of Germany on its western border.38 England could have given a great compensation for this guarantee, and surely would have given it. Perhaps it would have let Germany have its extensive South African possession, which at that time had only a very thin Anglo-Saxon settlement; perhaps it also would have helped Germany obtain a large territory for settlement in Brazil or Argentina or in western Canada. Whether this was attainable may be doubted after all.39 But it is certain that if Germany could have attained anything along this line at that time, it could have done so only in association with England. The great Prussian Reich of the Junkers east of the Elbe, however, wanted no alliance with liberal England. For reasons of domestic politics, the Three Emperors’ League,40 the continuation of the Holy Alliance,41 seemed to it to be the sole suitable association that it could enter into. When this alliance finally showed itself untenable and the German Reich, faced with the choice either of siding with Russia against Austria-Hungary or with Austria-Hungary against Russia, decided for the alliance with Austria, as Bismarck still sought repeatedly to maintain a friendly relationship with Russia. So, then, this opportunity of acquiring a great territory for settlement for Germany remained unused.
Instead of seeking, in association with England, to acquire a colony for settlement, the German Reich made the transition to protective tariffs from 1879 on. As ever at great turning points of policy, here, too, people saw neither the deeper significance of the problem nor the meaning of the new policy being adopted. To the liberals the protective tariff seemed a temporary backsliding into a superseded system. The practitioners of political realism, that hodgepodge of cynicism, lack of conscience, and unvarnished selfishness, evaluated the policy merely from the standpoint of their own interests as an increase in the incomes of landowners and entrepreneurs. The Social Democrats trotted out their faded recollections of Ricardo; as for a deeper knowledge of things, which surely would not have been difficult with the help of this guide, they were hindered by their doctrinaire clinging to Marxist theory. Only much later, and even then only hesitantly, was the great significance grasped that that policy shift had, not only for the German people, but for all peoples.42
The most remarkable thing about the protective tariff policy of the German Empire is that it lacked any deeper foundation. For the political realist it was sufficiently justified by its finding a majority in the German Reichstag. Any theoretical foundation for the protective tariff theory, however, looked very bad. The appeal to List’s theory of an infant-industry tariff just did not hold water. It is no refutation of the free-trade argument to assert that the protective system puts idle productive forces to use. That they do not come into use without protection proves that their use is less productive than that of the productive forces used in their place. The infant-industry tariff also cannot be economically justified. Old industries have an advantage over young ones in many respects. But the rise of new industries is to be deemed productive from the overall point of view only when their lesser productivity at the start is at least made up for by greater productivity later. Then, however, the new enterprises are not only productive from the point of view of the whole economy but also privately profitable; they would be brought into existence even without special encouragement. Every newly established firm reckons with such initial costs that should be recovered later. It is untenable to cite, in opposition, the fact that almost all states have supported the rise of industry by protective tariffs and other protectionistic measures. The question remains open whether the development of viable industries would have proceeded even without such encouragement. Within the territories of states, changes of location occur without any external help. In territories that lacked industry before, we see industries arise that not only maintain themselves successfully alongside those of older industrial territories but not seldom drive those quite out of the market.
None of the German tariff rates, moreover, could be called an infant-industry tariff; neither the grain tariffs nor the iron tariffs nor any one of the several hundred other protective tariffs may be given this name. And tariffs other than infant-industry tariffs were never advocated by List; he was fundamentally a free-trader.
Moreover, the presentation of a protective-tariff theory in Germany has never once been attempted at all.43 The long-winded and self-contradictory discussions about the necessity of protection for all national labor and of a gap-free tariff cannot lay claim to this name. They do indicate the direction in which reasons for the protective tariff policy had to be sought; they could not be suitable, however—and precisely because they renounced any economic line of thinking in advance and were oriented purely by power politics—for examining the question whether the goals being sought could also really be attained by this means.
Of the arguments of the protective-tariff advocates, we must at first leave aside the military one—or, as people now commonly say, the “war-economy” one—regarding autarky in case of war; that one will be discussed later. All other arguments start from the fact that the natural conditions for great and important branches of production are more unfavorable in Germany than in other territories and that the natural disadvantages must be compensated for by protective tariffs if production is to take place in Germany at all. For agriculture it could only be a question of thereby maintaining the internal market, for industry only of maintaining foreign markets, a goal that could be reached only by dumping by branches of production cartelized under the protection of the tariff. Germany, as a relatively overpopulated country working under more unfavorable conditions than foreign countries in a number of branches of production, had to export either goods or people. It decided for the former. It overlooked the fact, however, that export of goods is possible only if one competes with countries of more favorable conditions of production, that is, if, despite higher costs of production, one delivers just as cheaply as the countries producing at lower costs. That means, however, pressing down workers’ wages and the standard of living of the whole people.
For years people in Germany could indulge in extreme illusions about that. To understand this interconnection of things, it would have been necessary to think economically and not in terms of statism and power politics. But someday it was nevertheless bound to impress itself on everyone with irrefutable logic that the protective tariff system was bound to fail in the end. One could deceive oneself about the fact that it was damaging the relative well-being of the German people as long as an absolute growth of national wealth could still be observed. But attentive observers of world economic development could not help but express misgivings about the future development of German foreign trade. What would happen to German commodity exports once an independent industry had become developed in the countries that still formed the market for German industry and had been in a position to produce under more favorable conditions?44
From this situation the desire finally arose among the German people for great colonies for settlement and for tropical territories that could supply Germany with raw materials. Because England stood in the way of the realization of these intentions, because England had broad territories at its disposal in which Germans could have settled, and because England possessed great tropical colonies, the desire arose to attack England and defeat it in war. That was the idea that led to construction of the German battle fleet.
England recognized the danger in time. First it strove for a peaceful settlement with Germany; it was ready to pay a high price for that. When this intention was wrecked on the resistance of German policy, England prepared itself accordingly. It was firmly resolved not to wait until Germany had a fleet superior to the English; it was resolved to wage war earlier, and it enlisted allies against Germany. When Germany got into war with Russia and France in 1914 over Balkan affairs, England fought also because it knew that in case of a German victory it would have to wage war alone with Germany in a few years. The construction of the German battle fleet had to lead to war with England before the German fleet had achieved superiority over the English. For the English knew that the German ships could be used in no other way than to attack England’s fleet and its coast. The pretext with which Germany sought to conceal the ultimate intentions that it was pursuing by constructing the fleet was that it needed a mighty fleet to protect its expanded ocean trade. The English knew what to make of that. Once, when there still were pirates, merchant ships did need protection by cruisers on endangered seas. Since the establishment of security on the sea (approximately since 1860) that had no longer been necessary. It was quite impossible to explain the construction of a battle fleet usable only in European waters by a desire to protect trade.
It is also immediately understandable why, from the beginning, almost all states of the world sympathized with England against Germany. Most had to fear Germany’s hunger for colonies. Only a few nations of Europe are in a situation similar to that of Germany in being able to feed their populations within their own borders only under more unfavorable conditions than are found in the rest of the world. To these belong the Italians in the first place, and also the Czechs. That these two nations also were on the side of our [Germany’s and Austria’s] adversaries was Austria’s doing.45
Now the war has been fought, and we have lost it. The German economy has been quite shattered by the long “war economy”; in addition, it will have to bear heavy reparations burdens. But far worse than these direct consequences of the war must appear the repercussion on Germany’s world economic position. Germany has paid for the raw-material supplies on which it depends partly by export of manufactures, partly from the yield of its foreign enterprises and capital investments. That will no longer be possible in the future. During the war the foreign investments of the Germans were expropriated or used up in payment for the import of various goods. The export of manufactures, however, will encounter extreme difficulties. Many markets have been lost during the war and will not be easy to win back. Here, too, the war has created no new situation but has only hastened a development that would have occurred without it. The impediment to trade caused by the war has brought new industries to life in Germany’s former markets. They would have arisen even without the war, but later. Now, once they are there and are operating under more favorable conditions of production than German enterprises, they will pose severe competition to German exports. The German people will be compelled to shrink their consumption. They will have to work more cheaply, that is, live worse, than other peoples. The entire level of German culture will thereby be depressed. After all, culture is wealth. Without well-being, without wealth, there never has been culture.
True, emigration might still remain open. But the inhabitants of the territories that might be considered do not want to admit any German immigrants. They fear being outnumbered by the German elements; they fear the pressure that immigration would be bound to exert on wages. Even long before the war, Wagner could already refer to the fact that, except for the Jews, only the German people, “who are scattered over almost the entire earth’s surface, are fragmented among so many peoples, with individuals scattered among other civilized peoples and nations. They often form a very capable element, even a sort of cultural fertilizer, though seldom are they in leading positions, more frequently they are little men and little women in middle to lower positions.” And he added that “this German diaspora” is not much more liked, even though more respected, than that of the Jews and Armenians, and it is often subject to just as strong an aversion on the part of the native population.46 How will things be now, after the war?
Only now can one fully survey the damage that the departure from the principles of liberal policy has caused for the German people. How very different a position Germany and Austria would be in today if they had not undertaken the fateful return to the protective tariff! Of course, the size of the population would not be as large as it is today. But the smaller population could be living and working under conditions just as favorable as those of the other countries of the world. The German people would be richer and happier than it is today; it would have no enemies and no enviers. Hunger and anarchy—that is the result of the protectionist policy.
The outcome of German imperialism, which cast the German people into bitter misery and made it into a pariah people, shows that those whose leadership it followed in the last generation were not on the right path. Neither fame nor honor nor wealth nor happiness was to be found on this path. The [pre–French Revolution liberal] ideas of 1789 would not have brought the German people to its position today. Did not the men of the Enlightenment, who today are reproached for lack of state feeling,47 better understand what is good for the German people and the entire world? More clearly than all theories could do, the course of history shows that properly understood patriotism leads to cosmopolitanism, that the welfare of a people lies not in casting other peoples down but in peaceful collaboration. Everything that the German people possessed, its intellectual and material culture, it has uselessly sacrificed to a phantom, to no one’s benefit and to its own harm.
A nation that believes in itself and its future, a nation that means to stress the sure feeling that its members are bound to one another not merely by accident of birth but also by the common possession of a culture that is valuable above all to each of them, would necessarily be able to remain unperturbed when it saw individual persons shift to other nations. A people conscious of its own worth would refrain from forcibly detaining those who wanted to move away and from forcibly incorporating into the national community those who were not joining it of their own free will. To let the attractive force of its own culture prove itself in free competition with other peoples—that alone is worthy of a proud nation, that alone would be true national and cultural policy. The means of power and of political rule were in no way necessary for that.
That nations favored by fate possess wide territories of settlement could provide no cogent grounds for adopting another policy. It is true that those colonies were not taken with smooth talk, and one can think only with shudders and anger of the fearful mass murders that prepared the basis for many of the colonial settlements flourishing today. But all other pages of world history were also written in blood, and nothing is more stupid than efforts to justify today’s imperialism, with all of its brutalities, by reference to atrocities of generations long since gone. It must be recognized that the time for expeditions of conquest is past, that today it is at least no longer acceptable to use force on peoples of the white race. Whoever wanted to contradict this principle of modern political world law, an expression of the liberal ideas of the time of the Enlightenment, would have to set himself against all other nations of the world. It was a fateful error to want to undertake a new partition of the earth with cannons and armored ships.
The nations suffering from relative overpopulation in their homelands can no longer use those means of relief today that were usual at the time of national migrations. Full freedom of emigration and immigration and unlimited free mobility of capital must be their demand. Only in this way can they attain the most favorable economic conditions for their fellow nationals.
Of course, the struggle of nationalities over the state and government cannot disappear completely from polyglot territories. But it will lose sharpness to the extent that the functions of the state are restricted and the freedom of the individual is extended. Whoever wishes peace among peoples must fight statism.
The Roots of Imperialism
It is usual to seek the roots of modern imperialism in the desire for territories to settle and colonies to exploit. This interpretation represents imperialism as an economic necessity. We best recognize that this interpretation is inadequate if we consider how liberalism stands on the same problem. Its watchword is freedom of movement; at the same time, it is averse to all colonial undertakings. The proof that the liberal school has provided is irrefutable: that free trade and only free trade appears justified from the purely economic point of view, that only it guarantees the best provisioning of all persons, the greatest yield of labor with the smallest expenditure of costs.
This liberal dogma cannot be shaken, either, by the assertion—on whose correctness we offer no opinion—that there are peoples who are not ready for self-government and never will be ready. These lower races supposedly must be politically governed by the higher races, without economic freedom being in any way limited thereby. Thus have the English long interpreted their rule in India, thus was the Congo Free State conceived: the open door for economic activity of all nations in free competition both with the members of the ruling nation and with the natives. That the practice of colonial policy deviates from this ideal, that it again, as formerly, regards the natives only as a means, not as an end in their own right, that it—above all the French, with their trade-policy assimilation system—excludes from the colonial territories all who do not belong to the ruling nation, is only a consequence of imperialistic lines of thinking. But where do these come from?
An individualistic justification for imperialism can also be found. That is the one based on the conditions of territories with mixed population. There the consequences of the application of the democratic principle were bound by themselves alone to lead to militant aggressive nationalism. Things are no different in those territories to which the stream of immigration is directed today. There the problem of mixed languages arises ever anew, there imperialistic nationalism must also arise ever anew. Thus we see efforts growing in America and in Australia for limitation of undesired—foreign-nationality—immigration, efforts that were bound to arise out of the fear of being outnumbered by foreigners in one’s own country at the same time that the fear arose that the immigrants of foreign national origin could no longer be fully assimilated.
Doubtless this was the point from which the rebirth of imperialistic thinking proceeded. From here the spirit of imperialism gradually undermined the entire thought structure of liberalism, until finally it could also replace the individualistic basis from which it had originated with a collectivistic one. The idea of liberalism starts with the freedom of the individual; it rejects all rule of some persons over others; it knows no master peoples and no subject peoples, just as within the nation itself it distinguishes between no masters and no serfs. For fully developed imperialism, the individual no longer has value. He is valuable to it only as a member of the whole, as a soldier of an army. For the liberal, the number of fellow members of his nationality is no unduly important matter. It is otherwise for imperialism. It strives for the numerical greatness of the nation. To make conquests and hold them, one must have the upper hand militarily, and military importance always depends on the number of combatants at one’s disposal. Attaining and maintaining a large population thus becomes a special goal of policy. The democrat strives for the unified national state because he believes that this is the will of the nation. The imperialist wants a state as large as possible; he does not care whether that corresponds to the desire of the peoples.48
The imperialistic people’s state scarcely differs from the old princely state in its interpretation of sovereignty and its boundaries. Like the latter, it knows no other limits to the expansion of its rule than those drawn by the opposition of an equally strong power. Even its lust for conquest is unlimited. It wants to hear nothing of the right of peoples. If it “needs” a territory, then it simply takes it and, where possible, demands further from the subjugated peoples that they find this just and reasonable. Foreign peoples are in its eyes not subjects but objects of policy. They are—quite as the princely state once thought—appurtenances of the country where they live. Expressions also recur in the modern imperialistic manner of speaking, therefore, that were believed to be already forgotten. People speak again of geographic boundaries,49 of the necessity of using a piece of land as a “buffer zone”; territories are again rounded off; they are exchanged and sold for money.
These imperialistic doctrines are common to all peoples today. Englishmen, Frenchmen, and Americans who marched off to fight imperialism are no less imperialistic than the Germans. Of course, their imperialism differed from the German variety before November 1918 in one important point. While the other nations brought their imperialistic efforts to bear only against the peoples of the tropics and subtropics and treated the peoples of the white race in conformity with the principles of modern democracy, the Germans, precisely because of their position in the polyglot territories in Europe, directed their imperialistic policy against European peoples also.50 The great colonial powers have held fast to the democratic-pacifistic nationality principle in Europe and America and have practiced imperialism only against the African and Asiatic peoples. They have therefore not come into conflict with the nationality principle of the white peoples, as has the German people, which even in Europe has sought to practice imperialism everywhere.
To justify the application of imperialistic principles in Europe, the German theory saw itself compelled to fight the nationality principle and replace it with the doctrine of the unified state. Small states are said no longer to have any justification for their existence nowadays. They are said to be too small and too weak to form an independent economic territory. They supposedly must therefore necessarily seek links with larger states in order to form an “economic and protectionist community.”51
If this means no more than that small states are scarcely able to mount sufficient resistance to the lust for conquest of their more powerful neighbors, well, one cannot contradict that. Small states cannot in fact compete with large ones on the battlefield; if it comes to war between them and a great power, then they must succumb unless help comes to them from outside. This help seldom is lacking. It is provided by large and small states, not from sympathy or on principle but in their own interest. In fact, we see that small states have maintained themselves for centuries just as well as the great powers. The course of the World War shows that even nowadays small states do not always prove weakest in the end. If one seeks to prod the small states by threats into association with a larger state or if one compels them into subjugation through force of arms, well, this is no proof of the assertion that “time is working against small state sovereignties.”52 This proposition is no less correct or false today than in the days of Alexander the Great, Tamerlane, or Napoleon. The political ideas of modern times allow the continued existence of a small state to appear rather more secure today than in earlier centuries. That the Central Powers won military victories over a number of small states during the World War in no way justifies our declaring that “a small-scale state” is just as out of date today as a small-scale ironworks. When Renner, with reference to military victories that German and Austrian troops won over the Serbs, thinks he can dispose of the nationality principle with the Marxist expression “the materialistic conditions of statehood are in rebellion against the idealistic—a conceptual contradiction that in practice has a tragic consequence for people and state,”53 he is thereby overlooking the fact that military weakness could be fatal for small states thousands of years ago also.
The assertion that all small states have had their day is further supported by Naumann, Renner, and their followers by the remark that a state must at least possess enough territory for a self-sufficient economy. That this is not true is already clear from what was said earlier. There can be no question of a test of economic self-sufficiency in the formation of states at a time when the division of labor embraces broad stretches of land, whole continents, indeed the whole world. It does not matter whether the inhabitants of a state meet their needs directly or indirectly by production at home; what is important is only that they can meet them at all. When Renner confronted the individual Austrian nations striving for political independence with the question of where they then would obtain this or that article once they had been detached from the whole of the Austro-Hungarian state, well, that was an absurd question. Even when the state structure was unified, they did not obtain these goods for nothing, but only in exchange for something of equivalent value, and this equivalent value does not become any larger if the political community falls apart. This objection would have made sense only if we were living at a time when trade between states was impossible.
The size of a state’s territory therefore does not matter. It is another question whether a state is viable when its population is small. Now, it is to be noted that the costs of many state activities are greater in small states than in large ones. The dwarf states, of which we still have a number in Europe, like Liechtenstein, Andorra, and Monaco, can organize their court systems by levels of jurisdiction, for example, only if they link up with a neighboring state. It is clear that it would be financially quite impossible for such a state to set up as comprehensive a court system as that which a larger state makes available to its citizens, for example, by establishing courts of appeal. One can say that, seen from this point of view, states encompassing a smaller number of people than the administrative units of the larger states are viable only in exceptional cases, namely, only when they have especially rich populations. The smaller states for which this precondition does not hold will, for reasons of state finance, have to link their administrations with a larger neighboring state.54 Nations so small in number of people that they do not satisfy these conditions do not exist at all and cannot exist at all, since the development of an independent standard language presupposes, after all, the existence of several hundred thousand speakers.
When Naumann, Renner, and their numerous disciples recommended to the small peoples of Europe an association with a Central Europe under German leadership, they completely misunderstood the essence of the protective-tariff policy. On political or military grounds, an alliance with the German nation assuring independence to all participants could be desirable for the small nations of Eastern and South-eastern Europe. In no case, however, could an alliance that would be serviceable exclusively to German interests appear welcome to them. That was the only kind, however, that the advocates of Central Europe had in view. They wanted an alliance that would enable Germany to compete militarily with the world’s great powers for colonial possessions, possessions whose advantages could have benefited the German nation alone. They conceived of the Central European world empire, furthermore, as a protective-tariff community. Just that, however, is what all these smaller nations do not want. They do not want to be mere markets for German industrial products; they do not want to forgo developing at home those branches of industry that have their natural locations there and importing from outside Germany the goods produced more cheaply there. It was thought that the rise in prices of agricultural products that was infallibly bound to occur in consequence of incorporation into the Central European tariff territory would, even by itself alone, be attractive to the predominantly agrarian states whose incorporation into the Central European empire was being sought. It was overlooked, however, that this argument could make an impression only on economically untrained persons. It is not to be denied that Rumania, say, on joining a German-Austrian-Hungarian customs community, would have experienced a rise in the prices of agricultural products. It is overlooked, however, that industrial products would have risen in price, on the other hand, since then Rumania would have had to pay the higher German domestic prices, while if it is not joined in a customs community with Germany, it pays the lower world-market prices. What it would have lost from joining the German customs community would have been greater than what it would have gained thereby. At present Rumania is a relatively underpopulated or at least a not overpopulated country; that means that the bulk of its export goods can at present and in the foreseeable future be exported without any dumping. Rumania has no enterprises in primary production and only a few in industry whose location would not be natural. Things are different for Germany, which, precisely in the most important branches of production, works under more unfavorable conditions than foreign countries.
The imperialistic way of thinking, which comes forward with the claim to be helping modern economic development to its rightful condition, is in truth gripped by barter-economy and feudal preconceptions. In the age of the world economy it is downright nonsensical to represent the demand for creation of large autarkic economic territories as an economic demand. In peacetime it is a matter of indifference whether one produces foodstuffs and raw materials at home oneself or, if it seems more economic, obtains them from abroad in exchange for other products that one has produced. When a medieval prince acquired a piece of land where ore was mined, then he had a right to call this mine his own. But if a modern state annexes a mining property, these mines still have not thereby become those of its citizens. They must buy their products by transferring products of their own labor just as they did before, and that changes have occurred in the political order remains without significance for ownership of them. If the prince is happy about the annexation of a new province, if he is proud about the size of his realm, that is immediately understandable. If, however, the common man is happy that “our” realm has become larger, that “we” have acquired a new province, well, that is a joy that does not arise from the satisfaction of economic needs.
In economic policy, imperialism in no way suits the stage of world economic development reached in 1914. When the Huns slashed through Europe killing and burning, they harmed their enemies by the destruction that they left behind, but not themselves also. But when German troops destroyed coal mines and factories, then they also worsened the provisioning of the German consumer. That coal and various manufactured products can be produced in the future only in smaller quantities or only with higher costs will be felt by everyone involved in world economic transactions.
Once that has been recognized, however, then only the military argument can still be adduced in favor of the policy of national expansion. The nation must be populous to field many soldiers. Soldiers are needed, however, to acquire land on which soldiers can be raised. That is the circle that the imperialistic way of thinking does not escape.
Dreamers and humanitarians have long campaigned for the idea of general and eternal peace. Out of the misery and distress that wars have brought to individuals and peoples, the deep longing arose for peace that should never again be disturbed. Utopians paint the advantages of freedom from war in the most splendid colors and call on states to unite in an enduring alliance for peace embracing the entire world. They appeal to the highmindedness of emperors and kings; they refer to divine commands and promise whoever would realize their ideals undying fame far exceeding even that of the great war heroes.
History has omitted these peace proposals from its agenda. They have never been anything more than literary curiosities that no one took seriously. The powerful have never thought of renouncing their power; it has never occurred to them to subordinate their interests to the interests of humanity, as the naive dreamers demanded.
To be judged quite differently from this older pacifism, which was carried along by general considerations of humanitarianism and horror of bloodshed, is the pacifism of the Enlightenment philosophy of natural law, of economic liberalism, and of political democracy, which has been cultivated since the eighteenth century. It does not arise from a sentiment that calls on the individual and the state to renounce the pursuit of their earthly interests out of thirst for fame or in hope of reward in the beyond; nor does it stand as a separate postulate without organic connection with other moral demands. Rather, pacifism here follows with logical necessity from the entire system of social life. He who, from the utilitarian standpoint, rejects the rule of some over others and demands the full right of self-determination for individuals and peoples has thereby rejected war also. He who has made the harmony of the rightly understood interests of all strata within a nation and of all nations among each other the basis of his worldview can no longer find any rational basis for warfare. He to whom even protective tariffs and occupational prohibitions appear as measures harmful to everyone can still less understand how one could regard war as anything other than a destroyer and annihilator, in short, as an evil that strikes all, victor as well as vanquished. Liberal pacifism demands peace because it considers war useless. That is a view understandable only from the standpoint of the free-trade doctrine as developed in the classical theory of Hume, Smith, and Ricardo. He who wants to prepare a lasting peace must, like Bentham, be a free-trader and a democrat and work with decisiveness for the removal of all political rule over colonies by a mother country and fight for the full freedom of movement of persons and goods.55 Those and no others are the preconditions of eternal peace. If one wants to make peace, then one must get rid of the possibility of conflicts between peoples. Only the ideas of liberalism and democracy have the power to do that.56
Once one has abandoned this standpoint, however, one can make no sound argument against war and conflict. If one holds the view that there are irreconcilable class antagonisms between the individual strata of society that cannot be resolved except by the forcible victory of one class over others, if one believes that no contacts between individual nations are possible except those whereby one wins what the other loses, then, of course, one must admit that revolutions at home and wars abroad cannot be avoided. The Marxian socialist rejects war abroad because he sees the enemy not in foreign nations but in the possessing classes of his own nation. The nationalistic imperialist rejects revolution because he is convinced of the solidarity of interests of all strata of his nation in the fight against the foreign enemy. Neither is a principled opponent of armed intervention, neither a principled opponent of bloodshed, as the liberals are, who sanction only defensive war. Nothing, therefore, is in such bad taste for Marxian socialists as to fume over war, nothing in such bad taste for chauvinists as to fume over revolution, out of philanthropic concern for the innocent blood thereby shed. Quis tulerit Gracchos de seditione querentes? [Who could endure the Gracchi complaining of sedition?]
Liberalism rejects aggressive war not on philanthropic grounds but from the standpoint of utility. It rejects aggressive war because it regards victory as harmful, and it wants no conquests because it sees them as an unsuitable means for reaching the ultimate goals for which it strives. Not through war and victory but only through work can a nation create the preconditions for the well-being of its members. Conquering nations finally perish, either because they are annihilated by strong ones or because the ruling class is culturally overwhelmed by the subjugated. Once already the Germanic peoples conquered the world, yet were finally defeated. East Goths and Vandals went down fighting; West Goths, Franks and Lombards, Normans and Varangians remained victors in battle, but they were culturally defeated by the subjugated; they, the victors, adopted the language of the defeated and were absorbed into them. One or the other is the fate of all ruling peoples. The landlords pass away, the peasants remain; as the chorus in the Bride of Messina expresses it: “The foreign conquerers come and go, and we obey but we remain.” The sword proves in the long run not to be the most suitable means of gaining broad diffusion for a people. That is the “impotence of victory” of which Hegel speaks.57
Philanthropic pacifism wants to abolish war without getting at the causes of war.
It has been proposed to have disputes between nations settled by courts of arbitration. Just as in relations between individuals self-help is no longer permitted and, apart from special exceptional cases, the harmed person has only the right to call on the courts, so must things also become in relations between nations. Here also force would have to give way to law. It is supposedly no harder to settle disputes between nations peacefully than those among individual members of a nation. The opponents of arbitration in disputes between nations were to be judged no differently than the medieval feudal lords and brawlers, who also resisted the jurisdiction of the state as far as they could. Such resistances must simply be abolished. If this had already been done years ago, then the World War, with all of its sad consequences, could have been avoided. Other advocates of arbitration between states go less far with their demands. They desire the obligatory introduction of arbitration, at least for the near future, not for all disputes but only for those touching on neither the honor nor the conditions of existence of nations, that is, only for the lesser cases, while for the others the old method of decision on the field of battle could still be retained.
It is a delusion to assume that the number of wars can thereby be reduced. For many decades already, wars have still been possible only for weighty reasons. That requires neither confirmation by citing historical examples nor even a long explanation. The princely states waged war as often as required by the interests of princes aiming at extending their power. In the calculation of the prince and his counsellors, war was a means just like any other; free from any sentimental regard for the human lives that were thereby put at stake, they coolly weighed the advantages and disadvantages of military intervention as a chess player considers his moves. The path of kings led literally over corpses. Wars were not perhaps begun, as people are accustomed to saying, for “trivial reasons.” The cause of war was always the same: the princes’ greed for power. What superficially looked like the cause of war was only a pretext. (Remember, say, the Silesian wars of Frederick the Great.) The age of democracy knows no more cabinet wars. Even the three European imperial powers, which were the last representatives of the old absolutist idea of the state, had for a long time already no longer possessed the power to instigate such wars. The democratic opposition at home was already much too strong for that. From the moment when the triumph of the liberal idea of the state had brought the nationality principle to the fore, wars were possible only for national reasons. That could be changed neither by the fact that liberalism soon was seriously endangered by the advance of socialism nor by the fact that the old military powers still remained at the helm in Central and Eastern Europe. That is a success of liberal thinking that can no longer be undone, and that should not be forgotten by anyone who undertakes to revile liberalism and the Enlightenment.
Whether the arbitration procedure should now be chosen for less important disputes arising in relations among nations or whether their settlement should be left to negotiations between the parties is a question that interests us less here, however important it may otherwise be. It must be noted only that all arbitration treaties discussed in recent years seem suitable only for settlement of such less important matters of dispute and that up to now all attempts further to extend the range of international arbitration have failed.
If it is asserted that utterly all disputes between peoples can be settled through courts of arbitration, so that decision by war can be quite eliminated, then the fact must be noted that every administration of justice first presupposes the existence of a generally recognized law and then the possibility of applying the legal maxims to the individual case. Neither applies to those disputes between nations of which we speak. All attempts to create a substantive international law through whose application disputes among nations could be decided have miscarried. A hundred years ago the Holy Alliance sought to elevate the principle of legitimacy to the basis of international law. The possessions of the princes at that time were to be protected and guaranteed both against other princes and also, in line with the political thinking of the time, against the demands of revolutionary subjects. The causes of the failure of this attempt need not be investigated at length; they are obvious. And yet today people seem inclined to renew the same attempt again and to create a new Holy Alliance in Wilson’s League of Nations. That it is not princes but nations that are guaranteeing their possessions today is a distinction that does not affect the essence of things. The decisive thing is that possessions are ensured at all. It is again, as a hundred years ago, a division of the world that presumes to be an eternal and final one. It will be no more enduring than the earlier one, however, and will, no less than that one, bring blood and misery to mankind.
As the legitimacy principle as understood by the Holy Alliance was already shaken, liberalism proclaimed a new principle for regulating relations among nations. The nationality principle seemed to signify the end of all disputes between nations; it was to be the norm by which all conflict should be peacefully solved. The League of Nations of Versailles adopts this principle also, though, to be sure, only for the nations of Europe. Yet in doing so it overlooks the fact that applying this principle wherever the members of different peoples live mingled together only ignites conflict among peoples all the more. It is still more serious that the League of Nations does not recognize the freedom of movement of the person, that the United States and Australia are still allowed to block themselves off from unwanted immigrants. Such a League of Nations endures so long as it has the power to hold down its adversaries; its authority and the effectiveness of its principles are built on force to which the disadvantaged must yield but which they will never recognize as right. Never can Germans, Italians, Czechs, Japanese, Chinese, and others regard it as just that the immeasurable landed wealth of North America, Australia, and East India should remain the exclusive property of the Anglo-Saxon nation and that the French be allowed to hedge in millions of square kilometers of the best land like a private park.
Socialist doctrine hopes for establishment of eternal peace through the realization of socialism. “Those migrations of individuals,” says Otto Bauer, “that are dominated by the blindly prevailing laws of capitalist competition and are almost fully exempt from the application of deliberate rules then cease. Into their place steps the deliberate regulation of migrations by the socialist community. They will draw immigrants to where a larger number of people at work increases the productivity of labor; where the land bestows a declining yield to a growing number of persons, they will induce part of the population to emigrate. With emigration and immigration thus being consciously regulated by society, the power over its language boundaries falls for the first time into the hands of each nation. Thus, no longer can social migrations against the will of the nation repeatedly violate the nationality principle.”58
We can imagine the realization of socialism in two ways. First, in its highest fulfillment as a socialist world state, as unified world socialism. In such a state the office responsible for the overall control of production will determine the location of each unit of production and thereby also regulate migrations of workers and thus perform the same tasks that fall to the competition of producers in the—so far not even approximately implemented—free economy. This office will resettle workers from the territories with more unfavorable conditions of production into those with more favorable conditions. Then, however, nationality problems will still turn up in the socialist world community. If spinning and iron production are to be cut back in Germany and expanded in the United States, then German workers will have to be resettled in Anglo-Saxon territory. It is precisely such resettlements that, as Bauer says, repeatedly violate the nationality principle against the will of the nation; but they violate it not only in the capitalist economic order, as he thinks, but also in the socialist order. That they are governed in the liberal economic order by the “blindly ruling” laws of capitalist competition but in the socialist community are “deliberately” regulated by society is incidental. If the deliberate regulation of the migrations of workers is guided by the rational point of view of pure economic efficiency—which of course Bauer too, and with him every Marxist, takes for granted—then it must lead to the same result that free competition also leads to, namely, that workers, without regard to historically inherited national conditions of settlement, are resettled where they are needed for exploitation of the most favorable conditions of production. Therein, however, lies the root of all national frictions. To assume that migrations of workers transcending the boundaries of national territories of settlement would not lead to the same conflicts in the socialist community as in the free community would of course be a downright utopian way of thinking. If, though, one wants to conceive of the socialist community as a nondemocratic one, then such an assumption is permissible; for, as we have seen, all national frictions first arise under democracy. World socialism, conceived of as a world empire of general servitude of peoples, would admittedly bring national peace also.
The realization of socialism is also possible, however, otherwise than through a world state. We can imagine a series of independent socialist political systems—perhaps nationally unified states—existing side by side without there being a common management of world production. The individual communities, which then are owners of the natural and produced means of production located in their territories, are connected with each other only in the exchange of goods. In a socialism of that kind, national antagonisms will not only not be made milder in comparison with the situation in the liberal economic order but they will be considerably sharpened. The migration problem would lose nothing of its capacity to create conflicts between peoples. The individual states would perhaps not completely shut themselves off from immigration, but they would not allow immigrants to acquire resident status and to acquire a full share of the fruits of national production. A kind of international migrant-worker system would arise. Since each one of these socialist communities would have the product of the natural resources found in its territory at its disposal, so that the income of the residents of the individual territories would be different in size—larger for some nations, smaller for others—people would resist the inflow of foreign nations for this reason alone. In the liberal economic order it is possible for members of all nations to acquire private ownership of the means of production of the entire world so that, e.g., Germans also can assure themselves a part of the land resources of India and, on the other hand, again, German capital can move to India to help exploit the more favorable conditions of production there. In a socialist order of society, that sort of thing would not be possible, since political sovereignty and economic exploitation must coincide in it. The European peoples would be excluded from ownership in foreign continents. They would have to endure calmly the fact that the immeasurable riches of overseas territories redound to the advantage of the local inhabitants only and would have to observe how a part of this landed wealth remains unexploited because capital for its use cannot be obtained.
All pacifism not based on a liberal economic order built on private ownership of the means of production always remains utopian. Whoever wants peace among nations must seek to limit the state and its influence most strictly.
It is no accident that the basic ideas of modern imperialism can already be found in the writings of two fathers of German socialism and of modern socialism in general, namely, in the works of Engels and Rodbertus. From the statist outlook of a socialist it seems obvious, because of geographic and commercial necessities, that a state must not let itself be shut off from the sea.59 The question of access to the sea, which has always directed the Russian policy of conquest in Europe and in Asia and has dominated the behavior of the German and Austrian states regarding Trieste and of the Hungarian state regarding the South Slavs and which has led to the infamous “corridor” theories to which people want to sacrifice the German city of Danzig, does not exist at all for the liberal. He cannot understand how persons may be used as a “corridor,” since he takes the position from the first that persons and peoples should never serve as means but always are ends and because he never regards persons as appurtenances of the land on which they dwell. The free-trader, who advocates complete freedom of movement, cannot understand what sort of advantage it offers to a people if it can send its export goods to the coast over its own state territory. If the old Russia of Czarism had acquired a Norwegian seaport and in addition a corridor across Scandinavia to this seaport, it could not thereby have shortened the distance of the individual parts of the Russian interior from the sea. What the Russian economy feels as disadvantageous is that the Russian production sites are located far from the sea and therefore lack those advantages in the transport system that ease of ocean freight transport assures. But none of that would be changed by acquisition of a Scandinavian seaport; if free trade prevails, it is quite a matter of indifference whether the nearest seaports are administered by Russian or other officials. Imperialism needs seaports because it needs naval stations and because it wants to wage economic wars. It needs them not to use them but to exclude others from them. The nonstatist economy of trade free of the state does not recognize this argumentation.
Rodbertus and Engels both oppose the political demands of the non-German peoples of Austria. Engels reproaches the Pan-Slavists for not having understood that the Germans and Magyars, at the time when the great monarchies really became a historical necessity in Europe, “put all these small, stunted, impotent nationlets together into a great empire and thereby made them capable of taking part in a historical development to which they, left to themselves, would have remained quite foreign.” He admits that such an empire cannot prevail “without forcibly crushing many a tender flowerlet of a nation. But without force and without iron ruthlessness, nothing is accomplished in history; and if Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon had possessed the same capacity for compassion to which Pan-Slavism now appeals for the sake of its decayed clients, what then would have become of history! And are the Persians, Celts, and Christian Germans not worth the Czechs and the people of Ogulin and Sereth?”60 These sentences could have come quite well from a Pan-German writer or mutatis mutandis from a Czech or Polish chauvinist. Engels then continues: “Now, however, in consequence of the great progress of industry, trade, and communications, political centralization has become a much more pressing need than back in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. What still must be centralized becomes centralized. And now the Pan-Slavists come and demand that we should ‘set free’ these half-Germanized Slavs, we should undo a centralization that is imposed on these Slavs by all their material interests?” That is in essence nothing but Renner’s doctrine of the tendency toward concentration in political life and of the economic necessity of the multinational state. We see that the orthodox Marxists did Renner an injustice in accusing him of heresy as a “revisionist.”
The way to eternal peace does not lead through strengthening state and central power, as socialism strives for. The greater the scope the state claims in the life of the individual and the more important politics becomes for him, the more areas of friction are thereby created in territories with mixed population. Limiting state power to a minimum, as liberalism sought, would considerably soften the antagonisms among different nations that live side by side in the same territory. The only true national autonomy is the freedom of the individual against the state and society. The “nationalization” of life and of the economy by the state leads with necessity to the struggle of nations.
Full freedom of movement of persons and goods, the most comprehensive protection of the property and freedom of each individual, removal of all state compulsion in the school system, in short, the most exact and complete application of the ideas of 1789, are the prerequisites of peaceful conditions. If wars then cease, “then peace has proceeded from the inner forces of things, then people and indeed free people have become peaceful.”61
Never have we been further from this ideal than today.
[22 ]Cf. Kautsky, Nationalität und Internationalität (Stuttgart: 1908), p. 19; also Paul Rohrbach, Der deutsche Gedanke in der Welt (Düsseldorf and Leipzig: Karl Robert Langewiesche Verlag, 1912), copies 108 to 112 thousand, p. 13.
[23 ]One could object that even if the conditions of life were everywhere the same, there would have to be migrations when one people grew in size more rapidly than others, for then migrations would have to take place out of the more densely settled territories into the more thinly settled ones. The Malthusian law entitles us to assume, however, that growth of population also depends on the natural conditions of life, so that merely from the assumption of the same external conditions of life there follows equality of increase in population.
[24 ][Comte Louis Philippe de Ségur (1753–1830), French politician and historian.]
[25 ]Cf. Bernatzik, Die Ausgestaltung des Nationalgefühls im 19. Jahrhundert (Hanover: 1912), p. 24.
[26 ]Cf. Bucharin, Das Programm der Kommunisten (Bolschewiki) (Vienna: 1919), pp. 23 ff.
[27 ]For that reason antidemocratic and churchly writers also recommend the return to the absolutism of the princes and of the Pope as a means of avoiding national struggles.
[28 ]Frequently, of course, civil rights can also be lost because of political powerlessness.
[29 ]On the point that the majority principle appears applicable only where it is a question of settlement of differences within a homogenous mass, cf. Simmel, Soziologie (Leipzig: 1908), pp. 192 ff.
[30 ]Cf. Renner, Das Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Nationen in seiner Anwendung auf Österreich (Vienna: 1918), and numerous older writings of the same author.
[31 ]Cf. Bauer, Nationalitätenfrage, loc. cit., pp. 324 ff.
[32 ]The abuse of the compactly settled territories of the Germans in Bohemia is disregarded here; the national question would be soluble there, only people do not want to solve it.
[33 ]Cf. Kjellén, loc. cit., p. 131.
[34 ]Compare Wicksell, Vorlesungen über Nationalökonomie auf Grundlage des Marginalprinzipes (Jena: 1913), vol. 1, p. 50.
[35 ]The assimilation is furthered if the immigrants come not all at once but little by little, so that the assimilation process among the early immigrants is already completed or at least already under way when the newcomers arrive.
[36 ]Cf. Ricardo, Principles of Political Economy and Taxation in The Works of D. Ricardo, edited by McCulloch, second edition (London: 1852), pp. 76 ff.
[37 ]Cf. the decree of 15 January 1838 of the Prussian Minister of the Interior, v. Rochow, reprinted in Prince-Smith’s Gesammelte Schriften (Berlin: 1880), vol. 3, p. 230.
[38 ]To rule out any misunderstanding, let it be expressly noted that there is no intention here of taking a position on the question that was much discussed in Germany whether the “western” or “eastern” orientation for German policy was to be preferred. Both orientations were imperialist-minded, i.e., the question ran whether Germany should attack Russia or England. Germany should have allied itself with England to stand by it in a defensive war against Russia. There is no doubt, however, that then this war would never have occurred.
[39 ]But let it be noted that England, until the outbreak of the World War, repeatedly made attempts to have peaceful negotiations with Germany and was ready to buy peace even at the price of giving up some land.
[40 ][Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia]
[41 ][The post-Napoleonic league of the sovereigns of Russia, Prussia, and Austria]
[42 ]When Lensch (Drei Jahre Weltrevolution [Berlin: 1917], pp. 28 ff.) designates the shift in trade policy of 1879 as one of the deepest grounds of today’s world revolution, then he is certainly to be agreed with, but for quite other reasons than those he adduces. In view of the events that have taken place in the meanwhile, it is no longer worthwhile to refute his further discussions.
[43 ]Schuller, in Schutzzoll und Freihandel (Vienna: 1905), gives a theory of the setting of tariff rates; on his arguments for the protective tariff, cf. Mises, “Vom Ziel der Handelspolitik,” Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, vol. 42, 1916/1917, p. 562, and Philippovich, Grundriss der politischen Ökonomie, vol. 2, 1st part, seventh ed. (Tübingen: 1914), pp. 359 f.
[44 ]Cf., out of a large literature, Wagner, Agrar- und Industriestaat, second ed.
[45 ]That Japan and China were also against us is to be ascribed to the disastrous Chiao-chou policy. [At the time of the 1914–18 war, both China and Japan harbored ill feelings toward Germany. After two German missionaries were killed in 1897 by a mob in the port city of Chiao-chou, Germany had sent her navy, seized Chiao-chou, and imposed on China a ninety-nine-year lease for the port and the bay. Shortly after Japan had acquired the Liaodong peninsula, with the ports of Dairen and Port Arthur, by defeating China in the 1894–95 Sino-Japanese War, she had been forced by Germany, Russia, and France to return it to China.]
[46 ]Cf. Wagner, loc. cit., p. 81.
[47 ]Cf. Sprengel, Das Staatsbewusstsein in der deutschen Dichtung seit Heinrich von Kleist (Leipzig: 1918), pp. 8 ff.
[48 ]We have seen how the striving for the unified national state originates from the desire of the peoples. Imperialism interprets the matter otherwise. For it, the idea of the unified state is a legal title for annexations. Thus the Pan-Germans wanted to annex the German cantons of Switzerland and even the Netherlands against their will.
[49 ]The answer of the nationality principle to the theory of natural geographic boundaries was given by Arndt when he explained that “the single most valid natural boundary is made by language” (Der Rhein. Deutschlands Strom aber nicht Deutschlands Grenze, 1813, p. 7) and then was aptly formulated by J. Grimm when he speaks of the “natural law . . . that not rivers and not mountains form the boundary lines of peoples and that for a people that has moved over mountains and rivers, its own language alone can set the boundary” (loc. cit., p. 557). How one can manage to derive from the nationality principle the demand for annexation of the territories “of the small, unviable peoples, specifically, those incapable of having their own state” may be seen in Hasse, Deutsche Politik, vol. 1, third part (Munich: 1906), pp. 12 f.
[50 ]Only in impeding immigration does imperialism on the part of the Anglo-Saxons operate against the whites also.
[51 ]Cf. Naumann, Mitteleuropa (Berlin: Georg Reimer, 1915), pp. 164 ff. (Central Europe, trans. by Christabel M. Meredith [New York: Knopf, 1917], pp. 179 ff.); Mitscherlich, Nationalstaat und Nationalwirtschaft und ihre Zukunft (Leipzig: 1916), pp. 26 ff.; on other writers of the same orientation, cf. Zurlinden, Der Weltkreig. Vorläufige Orientierung von einem schweizerischen Standpunkt aus, vol. 1 (Zurich: 1917), pp. 393 ff.
[52 ]Cf. Renner, Österreichs Erneuerung, vol. 3 (Vienna: 1916), p. 65.
[53 ]Ibid., p. 66.
[54 ]Cf. also the speech of Bismarck in the session of the Prussian House of Deputies of 11 December 1867 on Prussia’s treaty of accession with the principality of Waldeck-Pyrmont. (Fürst Bismarcks Reden, edited by Stein, vol. 3, pp. 235 ff.)
[55 ]Cf. Bentham, Grundsätze für ein zukünftiges Völkerrecht und für einen dauernden Frieden, translated by Klatscher (Halle: 1915), pp. 100 ff.
[56 ]Today people have managed to hold liberalism responsible for the outbreak of the World War. Compare, on the other hand, Bernstein, Sozialdemokratische Völkerpolitik (Leipzig: 1917), pp. 170 ff., where the close connection of free trade with the peace movement is mentioned. Spann, an opponent of pacifism, expressly emphasizes the “dislike and dread of war which today characterizes the capitalist community” (loc. cit., p. 137).
[57 ]Compare Hegel, Werke, third edition, vol. 9 (Berlin: 1848), p. 540.
[58 ]Cf. Bauer, loc. cit., p. 515.
[59 ]Cf. Rodbertus, Schriften, edited by Wirth, new edition, vol. 4 (Berlin: 1899), p. 282.
[60 ]Cf. Mehring, Aus dem literarischen Nachlass von Marx, Engels und Lassalle, vol. 3 (Stuttgart: 1902), pp. 255 f.
[61 ]Cf. W. Humboldt, Ideen zu einem Versuch, die Grenzen der Wirksamkeit des Staats zu bestimmen, edition of the “Deutsche Bibliothek,” (Berlin), p. 66.