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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