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Welsh outlook


Vol. 5, No. 9 Sept. 1918

War and peace : (A.) Treaties of peace. (B.) Lessons of the world war.

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THE author tells us that his work on the *Lessons of the
World- War sprang out of two courses of lectures which
he delivered in London during 1915 and 1916. The
second and more detailed course, given at the Birkbeck
College, is virtually reprinted here with certain additions,
particularly Chapter XIV. which was written in July,
1917. The British censorship delayed publication until
December, 1917. M. Hamon, however, tells us that his
is a scientific work, whose value is independent of the
date of publication."
M. Hamon is introduced to us in a generous and
characteristic note by Professor Geddes. For many years
he was editor of the Franco-Belgian review L'Humanite
Nouvelle. Probably he was best known before the War
for his indictments of militarism. But his pacifism
did not prevent him from embracing the cause of the
Allies with enthusiasm. He has no doubt that militarism
is incarnate in Prussia to a superlative degree. His com-
ments, however, are singularly free from vindictiveness.
The German is to him an automaton produced by a system
rather than a demon delighting in evil for its own sake.
The task proposed in this book-the setting out of the
lessons of the War from a purely sociological point of view-
could hardly be achieved (as Professor Geddes hints)
1. with full contemporary success." The problem is
admirably stated in the Preface. We may at once agree
The World-War is destined to play so great a part in the evolu-
tion of the human race that one may well ask whether there has in
the past been any event of equal gravity and importance."
The sociological interpretation of this event is a
prodigious task, however lax we may be in our definition
of sociology. The author gives us a detailed framework
for such a study. He brings out, often with great in-
genuity, the political, social and economic implications
Lessons of the World-War," by Augustin Hamon, translated by
Bernard Miall, with an introduction by Patrick Geddes. T. Fisher
Unwin, Ltd., London. Pp. 438. 16s. net.
Lecturer in Economic History
University of Edinburgh.
Late one night, borne on the high wind
From the sable forest shade,
Heard I muffled sounds of horses
Stepping in a cavalcade.
And my youthful soul in anguish
Cried aloud as ne'er before.
For some dreadful form did tarry
Beckoning at my chamber door.
On the morrow through the lattice
As I turned my weary gaze.
Drifting onward ever onward
Through the cold gray western haze,
of the War. No reader can fail to get new light on some
aspect of the subject from his treatment.
Here and there M. Hamon reveals a philosophy which
would warrant him in assuming a much more severe air
of detachment. He writes
"The World-War is only an effect of universal determinism
The German rulers who unleashed it are its unconscious agents
They are like an avalanche rolling down the slope of a mountain
pushing and dragging down the trees and houses in its passage.
And just as men felt no hatred for the avalanche, so they should feel
no hatred for the Germans, those unconscious authors of the
butchery which for two and a half years has drenched the world in
blood. They could not do otherwise than they have done, all the
conditions being what they have been."
Like Buckle M. Hamon has found that to make any
kind of a science of human action the assumption that
conduct is determined by forces beyond man's control is
invaluable. There is, according to him, a process working
through history towards a world-wide federation of the
nations and universal and total disarmament. The
alliance will be so extensive that fiscal protection will be
unthinkable. The more orthodox readers need not
quarrel with him. They may reflect (many of them) that
the process is going to achieve more enlightened
purposes than they, with unpardonable presumption,
ascribe to God.
A sociology based on determinism and claiming the
attributes of a science ought to throw a very definite light
on the future. M. Hamon acknowledges this and attempts
in the last chapter, written at a later date, to shew that his
forecasts have been true. Based as they are on logical
deductions from facts he claims that they could not be
otherwise. But one must admit that his prophesies
have no startling quality. He anticipated that more
powers would join the Entente, but he did not venture
to set any term to the duration of the War. In the
supplementary chapter he is less discreet. He asserts that
the War cannot be protracted beyond 1918. We must
wait and see, an attitude which despite the opprobrium
levelled at it is in fact the quintessence of wisdom.
F. Rees.
Saw I all those youthful fancies
That had e'er been dear to me.
Rolling onward, rolling westward
To some dread oblivious sea.
And the night wind in the branches
Wafts the bitter truth to me
I had witnessed-all unknowing-
My youth pass at twenty-three. R.A.R.
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