Can Putin Survive?
The Lessons of the Soviet Collapse
THE famous saying of La Bruyere: "Everything has been said; and it is too late . . ." haunts my mind when I consider the sad plight of Europe. So many remarkable works have been written on this subject that one is discouraged at the thought of undertaking a further explanation. However, I must make the attempt, not only because I am not content to restrict myself to existing authorities, but also because the cinematographic vicissitudes of contemporary economic policy require constant modifications of detail in the pictures drawn but yesterday by the most intelligent observers. A constant succession of new facts enables us day by day to coordinate our scattered ideas a little better, and leads us to comprehend with more certainty the meaning of the tremors which are shaking the universe.
I use the word universe advisedly. Do not be deceived; the center of the cyclone is in the Old World, but its waves spread far and wide. White and yellow, all races are suffering from the turmoil of Europe. They suffer from not finding the same markets in our hemisphere as in the past and from not receiving the same manufactured products they were wont to expect from it. They are suffering from the influx of gold, the reign of real or apparent wealth which has fallen upon them from the clouds. Above all, they are suffering from the general disturbance engendered in the mind of Europe by war, revolution, scandalous profiteering and famine--the seed of all of which is borne across the ocean.
But, as I have written elsewhere,[i] these are passing troubles. The great new countries will conquer this disease. They have youth on their side. They will digest the glut of wealth which has suddenly been thrust upon them, just as they will escape from the contamination of Europe's poverty, even if the latter persists. The danger to the general welfare of humanity is that if the depression of the Old World is unduly prolonged the New World may seek to escape by breaking all ties. Nobody who understands economics can mistake the indications that the great nations of America, Australia and Asia are putting out feelers towards one another, that there is gradually being built up around America, towards which the axis of the world has moved, an economic organization similar to the European organization of a few years ago.
Perhaps this change is inevitable. Prior to 1914, and without a thought of the Great War, there were many who held that Europe would one day be obliged to abdicate the dominant position she had taken in the world in succession to old Asia. But the essential thing was, and is still, that the transformation of the universe should take place with that merciful slowness peculiar to the forces of nature. Should events unduly hasten the evolution, should America prematurely take the sceptre from the hand of Europe, it is to be feared that civilization, thus torn from its cradle and suddenly transplanted, might undergo complete eclipse.
I will, of course, be told that my apprehensions are ridiculous, that Europe is a long way from becoming the little appendage of Asia of which some writers talk.
Europe has not yet reached that point, but she is on the down grade, and her fall will come quickly if she is not steadied. Let us consider the facts.
First of all, let us get the following fact firmly fixed in our minds. Prior to the World War Europe formed a whole; it lived by that unity, that cohesion which had been established in spite of all appearance to the contrary and despite all racial divisions.
Today Europe is dismembered.
Let us begin by considering the most enormous fragment, the East. It is impossible to deny that the eastern provinces of the old continent are getting far away; they are taking on an appearance of their own; for the moment at least they are in a state of regression. Sufficient proof of this will be found in turning over some of the volumes written on Russia and the new states which have emerged from the hurricane. An agricultural revolution of enormous significance has taken place all over Eastern Europe, with the exception of Austria and what was formerly Serbia, and this revolution has completely transformed the system of land-ownership, the relations of the different social classes, the conditions of cultivating the soil. All this has profoundly reacted upon commerce and industry.
The sixth instalment of the admirable supplement which the Manchester Guardian is devoting to reconstruction in Europe contains some particularly striking articles upon the subject, showing that in Poland, Rumania, the Baltic States, Bulgaria and Jugoslavia, as well as in Russia, the reign of the peasant has begun. "The immense tide of the peasantry will finally submerge everything," said Maxim Gorky sadly to a French politician. It is not only in the ancient Empire of the Tsars that the peasant tide has spread its waters. In the majority of the countries just mentioned the rural population has obtained possession of the land, they have exacted laws limiting the right of ownership, fixing strict geometrical maxima. In one place it is forbidden to own more than seventy-five acres, in another more than one hundred. Everywhere the land-slicing machine is at work.
What are the implications of this movement, which is of the same nature, though of a very different character and of much greater extent, than that which gave rise to the French Revolution in Western Europe?
The most striking result is a remarkable diminution of agricultural production. The emancipated countryman of Eastern Europe cannot be compared to the semi-educated French peasant of the eighteenth century, surrounded as he was by a middle class. He is ignorant of the methods of modern cultivation, and he cannot learn them from the large and small landowners whom he has entirely crowded out. All the writers who have discussed the agricultural revolution unanimously recognize these facts.
The most optimistic content themselves with an expression of hope that things may change under the spur of necessity. No doubt it is probable that in the long run the peasant democracies will succeed in intensifying cultivation. But though it is possible that this may be effected fairly rapidly in certain parts of Central Europe, it will take long to reach Russia and the adjoining countries, where the Muzhiks are condemned to dwell in solitude and, consequently, in a state of ignorance even greater than before the war.
Whatever the future may hold, at the present moment we are confronted with the phenomenon that countries which formerly exported large quantities of produce are in a position to send abroad only reduced quantities, and that they are sometimes compelled to import. Thus the purchasing power of more than a hundred million people is vastly diminished, if not completely destroyed, to the great detriment of industry in Central and Western Europe.
"The green movement," as the rising of the peasants has been called in contradistinction to the "red movement" of the urban workers, has another characteristic--a savage agrarian nationalism, a pronounced animosity against foreign industries, even against local industry. This animosity is translated into action. In the countries of the Danube the peasants are making tentative efforts to become independent of the large centers. The agricultural cooperative societies are founding here tool factories and there chemical manure works. The rural army is marching, with a great waste of effort, towards forms of industrial organization which had been rendered obsolete by the advance of civilization.
M. Zagorsky, professor of political economy at the University of Petrograd, gives details in his book, "The Republic of the Soviets: Economic Results." "In Russia," he writes, "is noticeable a return to economic conditions existing anterior to the capitalistic régime." And he adds, "small handicrafts and industries are increasing rapidly in the country districts." Districts which had been carried along by the evolution of Russian national economy in the course of the last thirty or forty years, which had become economic units and which had thus identified themselves with the capitalist movement of Russia,--even with the world market outside,--are now taking on more and more the character of the old economic order, with restricted and merely self-sufficient production.
In the circumstances is it astonishing that Central Europe, shaken to its foundations by the rising of the peasantry, divided into states which have been allowed--foolishly, as I will show--to hedge themselves in with tariff walls and to prohibit import and export of merchandises at their own sweet will, should be a heap of ruins in which Germany almost alone represents a vigorous economic unit?
What is the state of Germany? Bursting with prosperity, some say. On the point of plunging into the abyss where Austria lies, others say. Let us try to see things clearly by concentrating on certain definite points.
There is no doubt that Germany is in a state of complete financial and monetary collapse. The condition of its budgets, the amount of its debts, above all the depreciation of the mark, attest it. There are psychological reasons for this state of affairs which by a strange contradiction are neglected by the very men who are constantly protesting against economic materialism, and who hold that the world is governed only by politics. These people prove themselves strangely lacking in a sense of logic, for they do not perceive that in economics as in politics there are imponderables. A conquered country, weighed down by a colossal debt out of all proportion to its actual wealth, which everybody admits it cannot pay except by the work of more than one generation, loses confidence--that is to say credit--and the disappearance of credit is expressed by the depreciation of monetary values. This is a partial explanation, I grant. I admit that Germany, or rather the German upper-middle class, has succeeded in keeping its tangible wealth out of reach. I admit that the state and the plutocracy on the other side of the Rhine have sold marks abroad wholesale, while the printing presses groaned under the issues of notes to meet the most trifling of sumptuary expenses. All this is undisputable, but it is matter of secondary importance to determine the origin of the monetary chaos. Of far more importance is to measure its consequences, which cannot be realized without the knowledge that, under the capitalistic régime, wealth can not exist apart from a common system expressed by the circulation of money. Countries where the circulation of money, even if it does not cease, is constantly disturbed, become closed to all others, and in spite of themselves they set up within their own borders a complete system of economic particularism. An instance quoted from the writings of an authoritative economist will make this idea clearer.
When financiers obtain a security in a new country their first care is to get some sort of control over its monetary laws. So long as that is not done their mortgages have no actual transferable value in the outside world. Such securities cannot be financed and classed as what is called "wealth"--that is to say, in the universal and mobile form without which the most beautiful forests will merely rot where they stand--unless there is access to the monetary power.
Germany, because of her depreciated currency, is enclosed in a sort of prison where foreign goods rarely penetrate and from which the national products sometimes succeed in escaping, though much less often than is commonly supposed. A favorable situation, it is alleged, because in this manner Germany is protected from imports but succeeds none the less in exporting by means of the depreciation of her currency. Those who argue in this manner try to justify their thesis by pointing to the humming factories on the further bank of the Rhine, to the German industries swamped with orders, to the negligible amount of unemployment.
That is how things look, or rather how they looked until recently, for everybody now knows that a great crisis is imminent. What is not so evident is that however well equipped a country may be it cannot do without imports and that it is almost impossible for a country to get them when the machinery of exchange has ceased functioning. Germany's prosperity is only temporary and fictitious. It cannot long survive the depreciated currency. And the factor which is ignored is that if there is a change, if marks rise, the big German manufacturers will be no better off. They will be obliged to slow down production at the very time that they are loaded with stocks which will become more difficult to dispose of as the currency goes up in value. What is not noticed, above all, is that this alleged economic prosperity is based upon dreadful poverty: the poverty of the working classes, whose wages do not rise proportionately with the decline in the mark.
How long can such a chaotic situation last before a disaster occurs? Certainly not indefinitely. If it is not quickly remedied, either Germany will fall to the level of Austria, whose distress it seems hardly necessary to describe, or the gravest political and social upheavals will take place.
Let us turn now to the third fragment of Europe, the West. Germany's retirement to hospital and the prostration of the rest of Central and Eastern Europe react, it goes without saying, upon the western powers, particularly England. It has been said many times that "trade is the life blood of Great Britain." Now she is practically excluded from a continental market which formerly absorbed thirty-four per cent of her exports. Her politicians and publicists unanimously argue that "without reconstruction in Europe we cannot sell enough manufactured products to feed our population." Mark the word "feed." It is significant.
The situation is much better in France, people say, because in the first place France is predominantly an agricultural country and in the second because French trade finds a market in the liberated regions. Let us not congratulate ourselves prematurely! France is running grave peril.
France is to some extent finding a substitute for the foreign markets she has lost in the liberated regions, which form a sort of new colony. But who defrays the expenses? Who pays the accounts of the contractors? Who but the taxpayer? It is by repeatedly calling upon credit (which dries up the resources of the country,) that our national industry is fed. Of course, it is always said that Germany must repay--that she will repay--the amount of these loans. But every well informed person knows what that means. Everyone knows that, even if things go as well as possible, the reduction already granted on the German debt, the reductions which are about to be conceded so that the inter-allied debts may be redeemed, will burden the public with sums which one scarcely dares to put into figures: perhaps some hundred milliards. How, on the one hand, will the country support a burden so enormous, added to the weight of an already colossal debt? What, on the other hand, will be the predicament of her industry when its present artificial markets disappear? What formidable queries! Disorder reigns everywhere. Some of the countries, and they not the least important, are already hanging over an abyss. They are leaning against those which the storm has spared and they threaten to involve everything in the same ruin. To put things in order, that is a task which, tremendous though it be, does not seem to be beyond our power, provided we undertake it immediately and in a sensible manner.
In order to realize the problem, let us begin by examining the causes of the disorder.
Professor Cassel, the Swedish delegate at the Genoa Conference, writes: "By pretending that the present world-wide distress is the inevitable result of the war we prevent people from thinking and discovering the origins of the present state of affairs. I, on the contrary, am of the opinion that eighty per cent of our difficulties are due to the policy which has been followed since the war, and which has been pursued up to this very moment, either in the domain of pure politics or in that of national economy and finance."
In the article in the Manchester Guardian from which these lines are quoted the eminent economist adds that the entire European policy today is absolutely fictitious. Europe is living on illusions, "which politicians have created and surrounded with a kind of halo." This is all very true in substance. But what are these illusions about which Professor Cassel speaks? Did the politicians really create them? Were they not imposed upon them, or rather did they not create them and then impose them upon themselves?
All thoughtful persons are agreed that between the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth a change took place which is unique in the history of the world. Industrialism was born. Simultaneously science created the factory and revolutionized means of communication. The small factory, which formerly sufficed for the needs of people almost exclusively rural, disappeared to make way for large industries destined not only to supply the neighboring consumer but to supply the needs of the whole world. From that moment Europe could exist only in so far as equilibrium was maintained, that is to say, on condition that the various nations practiced mutual aid and that at the outset they lived in a state of complete peace. That was well understood by the great liberals who held the political stage at the dawn of the industrial movement. For some years, between 1850 and 1870, they were in a position to believe that they had achieved their purpose. But public opinion, which they had won for a moment, soon gave them only lukewarm support and at last abandoned them to return to its old habits. Economic war between the nations was restored and then intensified. This led to political nationalism.
Then the most extraordinary contradiction became apparent.
Under the whip of science industrial and commercial activity went on increasing in intensity, bringing the nations together. Yet these nations who were collaborators nevertheless waged war upon each other. They endeavored to injure each other by aggressive tariffs. They tried to prevent, or at least to reduce, the mutual exchange of those products which the railways and harbors they were building were intended to facilitate.
There was a divergence between the regulated movement of economics and the unruly feelings and appetites which were dragging the nations backward. Science, which by creating industry transformed the conditions of life in Europe, had not produced a corresponding evolution in the human mind. Quite the contrary. As comfort increased, as the facilities of existence multiplied, the general mentality degenerated.
Why? No doubt because the price demanded by material progress was scientific specialization, the division of labor pushed to an extreme. The mind of man when bent to a limited task diminished in scope. Even those upon whom had devolved the mission of leading the crowd were carried along. They had lost that desire to raise mankind which magnificently inspired the encyclopedists of the eighteenth century and their disciples of the nineteenth.
A catastrophe was imminent and it occurred.
While the catastrophe was being enacted there were few indeed who, preserving high traditions and recognizing the frailty of modern society, brooded upon the problem of how to cut hostilities short and tried to devise ways of bringing the warring nations together. They were lost in the yelling mob of politicians who, ignorant of the constructive plans of science and contemptuous of all great problems, thought only of exploiting the blind passions of the mob. They looked, if not complacently at least with resignation, at the prolongation of hostilities. Having conducted the war to the bitter end they were entrusted with the conclusion of the peace. Limited by their ignorance, their prejudices and their pride, they made the peace.
Remote from political economy and finance, despising questions of currency, industry and commerce--the exchange of "disgusting produce" as Voltaire's financier said in L'homme aux quarante écus--their only idea was to play the part of Metternichs and Mazarins, to remake the Treaty of Westphalia or the Viennese treaties. They were haunted by two principal ideas. One was the idea of loot. The other was the idea of nationality.
An old tradition has it that every war necessarily ends in a victory and that victory means loot. Nobody dreamed that there could be no comparison between former wars, of brief duration and limited destruction, and the dreadful cataclysm of 1914-1918, in which, using scientific instruments of destruction, the belligerents had in a few years achieved the most astounding destruction of wealth. Nor did any one reflect that as the vanquished were all but ruined the loot could not be extensive. Armed with diplomatic precedents, responsible statesmen announced their intention of making the "Hun" pay all the costs of the war. Mr. Lloyd George gave a pledge to that effect to the electorate in 1914. The Governor of the Bank of England, Lord Cunliffe, gravely announced at that time that Germany would pay over twenty-eight billions of gold marks annually, while M. Klotz, more moderate, guaranteed only the annual payment of eighteen billions. These gentlemen had made such a good start that they would certainly have put down on paper, and forced the Germans to sign, a pledge that the conquered should pay the eight or nine billions of expense incurred by the Allies, if a political obstacle--a fig for economic considerations!--had not arisen. This obstacle was the Fourteen Points of President Wilson, one of which provided that only reparation for actual damage done could be charged to the enemy. They therefore had to restrain themselves, though they succeeded in effecting breaches in the wall. By appealing to the most subtle exegesis they argued, and had their claim admitted, that the pensions due to the victims of the war should be charged the Central Powers. They took good care, however, not to specify that the material losses should be estimated by organizations in which neutrals would be largely represented, so that the figures reached might be beyond dispute. On the contrary, they arranged that each nation should proceed as it liked, and that the totals fixed should simply be submitted for the approval of a body known as the Commission on Reparations, made up entirely of representatives of the victorious countries, that is to say, of the people interested.
The inevitable happened. They came into harsh conflict with reality. By degrees it was seen that it was madness to imagine that payments on such a scale were possible. They implied the transfer of one nation's revenue to other nations. They could not be effected otherwise than by means of fantastic exports of goods. Not only were the debtor countries in no position to deliver such exports--that goes without saying--but the creditor countries would not have them. The latter were legitimately anxious not to see their industry swamped by floods of Teutonic products. Then an attempt was made to call a halt. The Reparations Commission began by reducing the total German debt to 132 billions of gold marks. The next step was to demand simply a moderate annuity to cover this amount, so moderate, in fact, that the final payment is scarcely discernable. Yet hardly a few months had passed before it became necessary to grant Germany a reduction, and very soon a moratorium. That is the point which has now been reached.
The men who remain faithful to the policy of the Versailles Treaty are loud in their denunciations. What! they say, documents have been signed, agreements written, and we do not see that they are carried out! France is made a laughing-stock by Germany and, what is worse, she is abandoned and betrayed by her Allies. That is all the more abominable, continue the admirers of Messieurs Clemenceau and Co., because we ask only what is just: reparation for the monstrous ruin piled up by Germany.
It is undeniable that the brief for the plaintiffs is excellent, that they have a right to demand what they ask, since they are armed with a treaty duly signed and sealed. Unfortunately this treaty is unworkable because there is no power in the world which can give substance to chimeras.
I do not deny that Germany is not playing straight. I have already written, and I repeat here, that Germany is evading in a thousand ways the burden she could support. But whose fault is that? What steps had been taken to prevent the removal to foreign countries of international securities held by German citizens? What trustee had been appointed for the Reich to prevent budgetary extravagance? Such considerations are too contemptible, I suppose, for diplomats and politicians who love to walk with their heads in the clouds.
The worshippers of the fallen idols reply that the financial situation of France will be terrible. She will not only have to pay the pensions of the victims of the war, which is allowable,--they acknowledged it in whispers,--she will also have definitely to meet the greater part of the cost of reconstruction in the devastated regions, which has not yet been put into figures, and this colossal expense will break her. Is this fair?
Certainly not. But if we would only ascertain the exact damage done! I shall not argue, as does Mr. Keynes, that the damage has been estimated at three times its real value. Such a proportion seems to me quite excessive. But I have been informed that the large industrial victims and the large landowners have "drawn the long bow" considerably. Such events might have been avoided if an international check upon reparations had been organized.
My opponents will reply that if the system I suggest had been adopted the cost of reparations might perhaps have been reduced, but that nevertheless it would have been considerable. They will ask if I think it right that this considerable sum should be paid by France, which was attacked and was victorious, instead of by Germany, which was the aggressor and was beaten?
I can only say that I no more think it right than they do, but that their diplomatico-military methods have failed. Oh! yes, I know . . . The most sinister plots have been hatched by our Allies and by all the French statesmen who have succeeded the supermen of the Treaty of Versailles. Can not people who talk this nonsense understand that in denouncing these imaginary conspiracies they are pronouncing sentence upon themselves? Need I remind you of the old French saying: "Monsieur de Voltaire n'a pas plus d'esprit que tout le monde?" When statesmen belonging to different countries, and drawn from every political horizon, cannot succeed in making a treaty work it is because that treaty is unworkable.
The second idea which obsessed the politicians assembled in Paris, the idea of nationality, has caused more damage to the economic system of Europe, however extraordinary that may seem, than the idea of plunder. You may ask if it is not very just and very simple that people of the same origin should be allowed to govern themselves freely. Without doubt it is admirable in theory, but in practice, where the old continent is concerned, it is singularly difficult to realize. The stumbling block is the difficulty of separating racial groups in Europe. Apart from the large countries where war, often prolonged for centuries, has cemented the nations, the races which fought for the possession of the continent--Latin, Teuton and Slav--have remained in conflict. They are still encamped upon the ground, always in a state of hostility, yet subject to interpenetration. It is a defiance of common sense to pretend to separate homogeneous groups from this muddle. Yet that is what the idea of nationality involves.
Consequently, when as a result of the war came the collapse of empires which like Austria-Hungary were undoubtedly nothing more than geographical expressions, but which kept order, held races together and somehow or other quelled their animosities, it was pompously announced that nations were being freed. But as there were no nations in the real sense of the word, the map was arbitrarily carved up and certain racial groups were given predominance over others. The number of dissatisfied minorities were merely increased in number instead of being abolished. And economic chaos was produced.
At the same time that political independence was distributed the new states were granted the right of closing or opening their markets as they pleased. The fact was overlooked that in order to restore the European factory, which before the war adapted itself as best as it could to the old customs barriers because they had been long established, former obstacles should not be set up again and no new ones should be created. The fact was overlooked that under a system of free trade territorial divisions, even though artificially decreed, present no particular economic disadvantages, but that it is very different under a system of protection. It does not matter whether a Czechoslovak Republic or a Jugoslav Kingdom be established on the ruins of what was formerly Austria, provided products can circulate as freely as in the past between Vienna and Prague, between Budapest and Sarajevo. But everything is upset if the new states are empowered to establish whatever protective tariffs they please; if, when given possession of mining deposits which in 1914 fed furnaces now cut off by a frontier, they are allowed to tax minerals or coal or to prohibit their import or their export as they like.
If the politicians had spent a few moments in the school of economics they would have learned that the idea of nationality, which they had picked up amongst the dusty rubbish of nineteenth century diplomacy, was obsolete. It was suitable to an agricultural type of civilization, but in the form in which they proposed to grant it, it could not be adapted to an industrialized continent. They would have understood that it was necessary to find a new way of regrouping the diverse peoples which the old monarchies had collected beneath their sceptres.
The problem was not insoluble. All that was necessary was to draw a distinction between politics, administration and economics. Complete freedom of administration and political independence subject to the rights of minorities might have been granted to racial sections empirically determined. The existence of the latter, then, would not have involved very serious disadvantages, for a superior authority--it little matters under what name--would have prevented oppression. Under no circumstances, however, should freedom to fix tariffs have been granted. The liberation of peoples should not have been permitted to upset the exchange of goods. What, indeed, could have been more proper than to preserve the economic federations represented by the fallen empires, to have imposed simultaneously upon all the nations of Europe a set of rules and guarantees, chief among which would be the prohibition of taxes upon the import and export of raw material and produce indispensable to life? In that way reconstruction would have been facilitated, unified and coordinated. As it is, a muddle has been caused which paralyzes life, revolutionizes exchange, and exposes the whole continent to new disasters.
How can we believe that peace can be maintained between countries of which some (such as Austria, which is about to receive a morphia injection in the shape of a loan) are downright economic monstrosities? If the flame of war bursts out again in Central Europe, where will it stop? Will it not touch Germany, quivering with a desire for revenge? In that event, what dangers will arise for France, deprived of the guarantee she was to get from England and America in case of unprovoked aggression?
It was stated publicly in the Chamber of Deputies that "this guarantee is the life of the treaty."
The treaty is dead, fallen into dust. Nothing has been devised as a substitute. Out of sheer infatuation, of a mere enslavement to system, the leaders of Europe have clung to ideas whose baneful effect becomes daily more obvious. Even today only the clumsiest efforts are being made to extricate us from the confusion.
As I reach the end of this schematic study there only remains for me to postulate a dilemma from which I can see no escape. Either we shall continue obstinately with the policies of plunder and nationality, in which case the gradual extinction of Europe will be hastened. Or we shall turn in the opposite direction, moving towards internationalism, bravely developing the ideas timidly outlined in the middle of the nineteenth century. The bringing together into collaboration of peoples of all races,--the abolition of national debts by expunging those owing by the Allies of yesterday to each other, by wiping out the obligations of the enemy through reparations in kind, and by floating an international loan, guaranteed by all the powers, covering only material damage fairly estimated,--the drawing up of a monetary, economic and financial code applicable to the whole of Europe, reestablishing its equilibrium by degrees and setting it in the direction of unity,--these are the only formulae of European solidarity which have any value. To cling obstinately to treaties dictated by thoughtless passion and to repeat the ravings of nationalists is simply to keep Europe in the mire and to let it sink in more deeply every day.
Will the politicians of all countries one day understand that it is as useless to shake one's fist at economics as it was for Xerxes to flog the sea--that it is far better to set to work to study this new science, born within the last fifty years, which they have been foolish enough to ignore or never to learn? This science consists in seeking means to put varying sentiments and political aspirations and idealistic forces in harmony with the Economic Imperative. For there is an Economic Imperative.
That great thinker, Taine, defined it when he wrote: "The economic world, like the physical world, has its laws. We may misunderstand them, but we cannot escape them. Sometimes they act with us, sometimes against us. They please us, but they never consider us. It is for us to consider them." These words of great wisdom must be constantly in the minds of those who tomorrow will assume the crushing task of restoring Europe.
[i]"Ou va la France? Ou va l'Europe?" Paris: La Sirène, 1922.