Current Affairs The new Danger: Peace by Negotiation It is becoming increasingly evident from day to day that the reactionaries of the world are preparing to negotiate and conclude peace at the expense of Russia, and to strangle the Russian Revolution in the process of peace making.
For nearly three years in fact since Germany failed in her initial rush at the battle of the Mame the ruling classes of the world were living on the horns of a terrible dilemma: To continue the war, which had become a war of attrition, was fraught with great danger, since a war of attrition made the governments of the belligerent countries more and more dependent upon the working class not merely the working class in the trenches, but the working class not subject to military discipline, the working class on its own battleﬁeld, the mine, mill, and factory. On the other hand a stalemate peace, a peace in which neither side gained anything, in which both sides come home from the ﬁeld of battle empty handed, was equally as dangerous, particularly for the aggressor in the conﬂict. The failure of the aggressor meant the failure, and there fore the futility of all militarism and of the institution and social groups which go with militarism and live by it. Hence the frantic eﬁorts of both sides for peace with victory even on the past of those elements of the ruling classes on both sides of no man land which would otherwise have preferred to live in peace and harmony with their brethren across the line. It was a case of sawve qm pent each national ruling group trying to save its own skin at the expense of its rival in other belligerent camps.
Then the Russian Revolution suddenly broke upon the tedium and monotony of the stale mate world, and things began to move with lightning rapidity.
The Russian Revolution which at ﬁrst seemed nothing more than an attempt of the Russian people to modernize their CURRENT AFFAIRS 223 state by riddling it of the incubus of Czarism, soon turned out to be a danger to the entire existing order of things not only in Russia but the world over. The Conﬂagration which started in Petrograd in March, 1917, was threatening to spread far beyond the conﬁnes of Russia, reaching out even beyond the European continent and into the British Isles. Already there was a maximalist movement in Great Britain, which, although much more moderate in its demands and modest in its ambitions than its Russian namesake, was nevertheless quite beyond anything that was ever attempted by the English working class, at least not since the Chartist Movement. The very name of this movement had an ominous ring, and was evidently a Russian importation. There was also talk of the organization of Workmen Councils, and many other disquieting symptoms.
Under these circumstances it was only natural that the more far sighted among the ruling classes in both belligerent camps should seek a way to compose their differences so as to be able to present a united front to the common enemy. Fortunately, the very presence of this common enemy which made peace by negotiation an imperative necessity from the point of view of the reactionaries of the world, also furnished the means of bringing it about to their entire and mutual satisfaction. The problem of how to get peace with victory without either side breaking through on the Western Front was solved. nay, the quite impossible feat of both sides carrying home the prize of victory, suddenly became possible: There is that great shaggy bear that suddenly broke loose from the chain by which it had been fettered for centuries, and which was now running amuck a danger to all good people and civilized order. If he be felled as of right he ought to be there will be enough booty to go round. It is true that the duty of felling him will devolve upon our German cousin, who will naturally keep the entire booty to himself and his immediate associates in the enterprize. But then the matter could be arranged by way of compensations a mode of international plunder with which