Wars for Territorial Expansion and How Free Trade Would be a
[Reprinted from Land and Freedom,
And he looked for
judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a
Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field,
till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst
of the earth.
In mine ears, said the Lord, Of a truth many houses shall be
desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant. ...
Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no
knowledge; and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude
dried up with thirst.
All the wars of conquest waged in recent years, and all previous wars
of conquest, have been the natural result of permitting the laying of
field to field till there be no place for growing populations, and
then trying to create employment by holding domestic markets against "foreigners,"
by which the economic life of all nations is choked in greater or
lesser degree. Nations deficient in natural resources, though failing
to adequately develop the resources they have, see supplies and
markets abroad which they need, but see no way of acquiring them
except by the might of their arms, though each and every one of them
has it within its own power to remove half or more of the obstacles in
its way by abolishing its own trade barriers.
There can be no doubt that Woodrow Wilson's outline of peace terms
which embodied his famous Fourteen Points for a just and durable
peace, the third of which called for "the elimination as far as
possible of economic barriers," did much to break down the
military morale of Germany and shorten the World War. As the German
people realized what the old Imperial German Government had gotten
them into they rose in revolution against it and it fell. It was the
German Republic which sent its delegates to Versailles, where Wilson's
Fourteen Points were cast into the discard and the Treaty of Vengeance
was imposed on the German Republic.
I need not recite the many years during which the democratic and
conciliatory elements in Germany sought ameliorations and concessions
from the impossible terms of that treaty. In 1923 a young Austrian
housepainter who had been discharged from the Army with the rank of
sergeant, led a movement to overthrow the German Republic, declaring
that conciliation would win nothing for Germany, and that Germany
would get no relief until she was strong enough to take it by force.
He failed and was imprisoned. He wrote a book, Mein Kampf, and
after his release from prison continued his efforts.
He had little success until in 1931. In that year, Germany and
Austria decided to provide a little relief for themselves by
abolishing the tariff wall between them which was hampering their
trade, and to form a customs union. This they invited their neighbors
to join, pointing out that it was in line with the efforts of Briand
of France and Stresemann of Germany to form a United States of Europe.
It certainly did afford a nucleus for such a federation.
This undertaking required the consent of the League of Nations, to
which the German Republic had adhered. Britain was complaisant, but
France and Czechoslovakia, both strong citadels of the "Protectionist"
superstition, interposed their imperative veto. Such a customs union
could lead only to the political union of Germany and Austria, and
they scented danger in that, though it is not easy to see what danger
there could be in such a union if it were brought about amid general
good feeling. As for Czechoslovakia, self interest should have
dictated her joining the union, due to her geographical position. But
the undertaking had to be abandoned.
That settled it. Germany thereafter lent a more willing ear to the
preachings of the Austrian ex-sergeant and ex-housepainter, and two
years later Hitler became Chancellor of Germany.
Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. I will repay!
When the Allied representatives at Versailles and in the League of
Nations decided on their policy of vengeance, confusing it with
justice, they usurped the prerogative of God, and the consequences of
this usurpation has come back to plague them.
The manner in which the present war is being conducted, each side "pulling
its punches" as it were, like two gladiators in the prize ring,
each knowing the other packs a twenty-mule team kick in either hand
and anxious to avoid it, suggests that none of the warring nations
really want the war, and that an early peace of some kind may yet be
possible. But it must be an economic peace, such as was outlined by
former President Wilson in his Fourteen Points, and also in a
resolution passed by the German Reichstag in July, 1917, to which
neither the Imperial German Government nor the Allied governments paid
They join house to house, lay field to field.
Why is Russia attacking Finland?
For ages Russia, with nearly half the territory and material
resources of Europe and Asia, and in no need of territory in itself,
has been seeking a commercial outlet on warm water, her vast extent of
seacoast on the Arctic Ocean being useless. This was the main reason
for her war on Turkey in 1878. This was the reason for her leasing
Port Arthur from China, which aroused Japan's fears and resulted in
the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. Britain and Germany deprived her of
her aims in 1878, and no one knows what would have been the result in
1905 had not President Theodore Roosevelt intervened and brought about
a peace by which she lost Port Arthur and its hinterland to Japan. And
now this desire for an outlet to the sea is driving Russia on to
Finland. Is such laying of field to field necessary? Would not free
trade accomplish the same thing?
"Free trade is the best peacemaker," said Richard Cobden a
century ago. It is it is the only peacemaker. But Richard Cobden
uttered another epigram which every one should paste in his hat where
he can see it frequently:
"Free trade is the international law of the
Trade is the mother of civilization, for without trade none of us
could have anything except what he could make himself unaided by
others a condition of savagery lower than anything we have seen. To
broaden trade is to extend and deepen civilization. To restrict trade
is to narrow and retard civilization.
Free trade teaches us that there are others in the world with whom we
must seek relationships on an equal basis. The destructive course the
nations today are pursuing is "that they may be placed alone in
the midst of the earth." If they persist in this damnable policy
of "Beggar my Neighbor," civilization is doomed.
Sonnet The Peace Maker
There is one way to checkmate
future wars: Take down the spite-wall tariffs! Let in trade,
Peace-loving Commerce. Her, the sons of Mars, With all their
bluster, cannot quite evade. But they will start their "dumping"
we are told These foreigners, whose cunning we concede: Well, let
them dump! for my part I won't scold, If they fill my back yard with
things I need.
For we are bargain hunters all of us: Only a few are Robber Tariff
pets: If most of us become necessitous, Our loss is what the Tariff
baron gets. Down with the tariff! For every boat load in, One must
go out and Trade Revival win!