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Welsh outlook

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Vol. 3, No. 9 Sept. 1916

The Belgium of to-morrow

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THE BELGIUM OF TO-MORROW
By RICHARD DUPIERREUX, LEGATION DE BELGIQUE, ROME
WE have lived through long months during
which Belgium existed solely through her own
agony and the heroism of her soldiers, long months
when Belgians spoke only of their sufferings and of
the atrocities committed against them. An entire
tragic literature arose out of this state of mind,
demanding from the world a verdict of indignation,
which the world did not hesitate to return.
That spirit of national life which has never ceased
fighting for existence, is now contemplating a re-
organisation of that existence. We wish to look
not upon the blood-stained past, but upon the
future. Those writers who even yesterday re-
corded nothing but the crimes of the Huns are to-day
able to imagine Belgium as she should be after
the war, and to dream of her coming glory* They
announce to the world the legitimate ambitions of
their country, and do not believe that the England
which has shown such solicitude in their distress
will fail to sympathise with their aspirations.
How," some will say, can you dream of the
glory of Belgium when Belgium no longer exists ?
How can you think of her reconstitution, when she
is not yet reconquered ?
The answer is easy the war found us unpre-
pared. Peace must not find us in the same state,
for peace is of graver importance than war itself,
and we must get ready for it as for a great battle.
Moreover, we must not consider the possibility of
peace terms other than those authoritatively
dictated by the Quadruple Alliance. A German-
made peace would be but a truce, intended to last
only till such times as new weapons could be forged.
So we are justified in building upon that soil which
after so many reconquests, has been mapped out
by the official declarations of the Entente Govern-
ments, having regard to the principle of nationality,
the restoration of small states, and equitable indem-
nification for their suffering and losses. It is our
duty to build for that day, to plan the reconstruction
of Europe, and for this we cannot have too many
designs, too many architects and masons.
The problem will be much the same for every
country. All must work towards reconstruction
at home, and reformed relations with other coun-
1 La Belgique de Demain. Librairie Perrin, Paris, 1916.
2 Histoire Beige du Grand Duche de Luxembourg. Pierre
Nothcomb, Paris, 1915.
3 Histoire Beige de la Prusse Rhenanc. Pierre Nothomb.
4 Principio Delle Nasionalita e il Belgio. Jules Destree.
Catania, 1916.
tries. But for nations which, like Belgium, have been
devastated by the war, and in which the natural
springs of public life have been choked up, the
problem of reconstruction at home will present
itself in a more pressing form than anywhere else.
The issue is not a merely material one. Every-
thing which has to do with a reconstruction of
physical things must depend on moral and intellec-
tual foundations. If the reconstruction is to
proceed swiftly and surely, Belgium must reform
her political psychology. The differences of the
three organised parties, socialist, liberal, and con-
servative must be settled by mutual concession,
in view of the mighty task which lies before them all.
The knottiest of the problems must be postponed
and if party politics and ancient feuds will not yield
to the high necessity of to-morrow, then all the
forces which are resolved on the reconstruction of
Belgium must form themselves into a new party,
a national party, which will not hesitate to make
itself strong enough to counterbalance the influence
of the old divisions. Either a transformation of
the parties of yesterday, or the creation of a new
party-such is the inevitable alternative.
The same transformation must take place as re-
gards the quarrels of races and tongues. It is well
known to what a dangerous pitch these quarrels
had risen before the war. The war, however, has
bound together Flemish and Walloon in sorrow,
in mutual defence, and in death. They now con-
stitute one body, strongly united to face the future,
and resolved that, come what may, they will not
be separated.
Belgium owes her unity to the war. The war has
aroused in her a sencse of national consciousness
it has taught her that she is a real power in the
great European chess-game, and though this state-
ment may provoke some astonishment, it is none
the less true, for before the war, Belgium was
scarcely aware of her own existence. A state, like
an individual, exists in the working out of its rela-
tions with its own kind. It is when he attains his
majority and begins to be able to associate with
other men as an equal that a young man becomes
conscious of his own existence and importance;
so Belgium, whose intelligence, economic develop-
ment, expansive force, achievements, determination
to live, and moral dignity were those of a nation
perfectly evolved and equal to others, was not yet
a major state.
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