Anthology – Peoples’ Plan for Life, Now and Forever …

Posted on August 25th, by A. Robert Johnson in Foreign Policy. Comments Off on Anthology – Peoples’ Plan for Life, Now and Forever …

Leonard Woolf (1880-1968) Beginning Again, An Autobiography of the Years 1911 to 1918 [Vol. III of VI]. Compare his sense of futility with that of Kennan’s, with an appreciation for what he did to inform himself, first in attending meetings of women’s suffrage groups leading to the ultimate effort of establishing principles that were taken verbatim for the League of Nations and later the UN. An aside about Henry Cabot Lodge’s opposition to the League, going back to Henry Adam’s assessment of Lodge’s father as provincial, confident in his righteous stance on matters worldly born entirely on the frame of his utterly provincial ego, with interminable consequence for humanity, is essential. Cabot Lodge, the descendant, led the effort to defeat the League of Nations, partly out of pique at not having been invited by Wilson to the Versailles conference. Not least is Leonard’s honesty, his imagination, hard work, literacy and love of animals. His “life’s work” view of having “made no difference at all” needs to be brought forward as a sense any sensible person having witnessed calamitous events, one after another, during his lifetime, would likely feel. You be the judge. The following quote from Beginning Again, [pg. 185] should help.

“I have often irritated people by saying that an intelligent person can become what is called an ‘authority’ on most ‘questions’, ‘problems’, or ‘subjects’ by intensive study for two or three months. They thought me arrogant for saying so, or, if not arrogant, not serious. But it is true. The number and volume of relevant facts on any subject are not many or great and the number of good or important books on it are few. If you have a nose for relevant facts and the trails which lead to them – this is essential and half the battle – and if you know how to work with the laborious pertinacity of a mole and beaver, you can acquire in a few months all the knowledge necessary for a thorough understanding of the subject.

“In 1915 I worked like a fanatical or dedicated mole on the sources of my subject, international relations, foreign affairs, the history of war and peace. By 1916 I had a profound knowledge of my subject; I was an authority.

“…Clifford Sharp [editor of the New Statesman] wrote to me asking me to write an article on foreign affairs for the New Statesman. Journalistically at any rate I had become an authority.

“By the middle of 1915 I had completed my report and it was published immediately as a supplement for the New Statesman. It began by dealing with the causes of war and then examined the nature, history, and records of international law, treaties, international conferences and congresses, arbitration and international tribunals. My conclusion was that the first step towards the prevention of war must be the creation of ‘an international authority to prevent war’ and I examined the minimum requirements for such a league of states if it was to have any chance of success. Webb [Sidney Webb, with his wife Lydia, were founders of the Fabian Society, dedicated to examining social issues] and I then drew up a formal international treaty for the establishment of such a supernational authority for the prevention of war, based upon my conclusions; this too was published as a supplement to the New Statesman. This was the first detailed study of a League of Nations to be published, the first working out and description of the structure which the Allied governments would have to agree to give it if it was to have any chance of preventing war or of making war less probable. During my work on this I became more and more convinced that the problem of an international authority and the prevention of war was part of a much larger problem – international government. It was commonly said or assumed that international government did not exist and could not exist among sovereign independent states; but a very little investigation convinced me that this was not true and that a considerable field of human relations had been subjected to various forms of international government. But practically no books existed on the subject and no attention had been given to it. I told Sidney Webb that I thought that it would be well worth while doing some serious work on it as it ought to throw important light on the whole field of international relations, including a League to prevent war. Webb agreed and the Fabians gave me a fee of one hundred pounds to write a second report.

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