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Art. 6. THE ATTITUDE OF ITALY.
PRINCE VON BÜLOW, in a book* which appeared only a few months before the war began, described the Triple Alliance as a conservative league, instituted with the object of preserving the status quo against the revolutionary' tendencies characteristic of the foreign policy pursued by most of the other states of Europe. These 'revolutionary' tendencies resolve themselves into two maxims of foreign policy: first, that so far as possible a state should be co-extensive with a nation; secondly, that where this is impossible owing to the incapacity of any nation to govern itself, it should not be divided between two or more dominant States. Ever since the wars of Napoleon spread the doctrines of the Revolution throughout the Continent, all those states on the one hand which accepted the principles of popular government, and on the other hand all those nations which were not co-extensive with a sovereign state, have aspired to put these maxims into practice. The history of the wars of the 19th century is very largely the history of the efforts to achieve this purpose. The cause of nationality has marched from triumph to triumph; and, if Europe is not yet completely reconstructed on national lines, it is due less to the strength of the opposing forces than to the mutual jealousies and conflicting claims of those who share the same ideal, and to the general fear of provoking a conflagration the economic damage of which would be out of proportion to any political advantages obtainable.
In the first part of the 19th century Turkey and Austria were the only two European states definitely opposed to the ideal of Nationalism; but Germany, as soon as she had achieved her own national unity and independence, denied the maxims cited above as universally applicable, as she refused to concede the principle of popular government. Pan-Germanism is more imperial than national in aim; and by the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine Germany definitely committed herself to the conservative policy of upholding the status quo against the national aspirations of France. The defensive
* Imperial Germany,' by Prince Bernard von Bülow.
alliance made between Germany and Austria in 1879 arose out of the need of mutual assistance against their common and numerous foes. The adherence of Italy to the alliance three years later has never ceased to be criticised both at home and abroad; for Italy is nationalist and democratic nata e sputata; her foreign policy should naturally be more 'revolutionary' than that of almost any other European state. But Italy had need, above all else, of a long peace in order to be able to consolidate her national unity and to achieve the social regeneration of her people. This, among a number of contributing causes, among which were a mistrust and jealousy of France, was the prime cause of Italy allying herself with the central Empires; and, as von Bülow remarks, 'to desire peace is, in the language of international politics, to desire the status quo.'
In the last quarter of a century the growth of German power gave rise to an inflated ambition to become the most powerful state and empire in the world; at the same time, as regards Austria, the ever-increasing pressure of nationalist claims caused her to contemplate striking at her enemies before they were prepared to strike at her. So the Triple Alliance gradually assumed in regard to the central Empires an aggressive character; and for this reason England descended from her position of splendid isolation and ranged herself against them. Italy continued to remain a member of the Alliance for the same reasons as those for which she entered it, for her attention was more occupied with the 'Austrian Question' as a possible disturber of the peace of Europe than with the ambitions of Germany. Then came the Balkan wars; and, as soon as it became patent that their results had robbed Austria of her last hope of solving peacefully her most grievous national problem-the Southern Slav question-Germany seized the opportunity of forcing on the conflict which was to decide whether or not her ambitions were to be realised. Thereupon Italy, which had ranged herself with Germany and Austria chiefly in the desire to avoid war, found herself faced with the alternatives of either breaking with her allies or fighting for a cause diametrically opposed to her political principles. The question was not difficult to decide. The balance of material interests at stake was
all in favour of the first alternative; and the undeniable fact that Germany and Austria were the aggressors furnished Italy with a technical as well as with a moral excuse for standing aside. It is one thing, however, to break with one's old allies, another to turn round and make war against them. Nevertheless many people regard Italy's declaration of neutrality as only a step towards joining in the war on the side of the Triple Entente. Whether this will prove to be the case or not only time can show. Meanwhile it will be instructive to examine what Italy is thinking and saying on the matter, and to state what can be gathered from the Press and from a daily intercourse with Italians of all classes.
Just as there are three alternative policies possible, so there are three distinct parties in the country between which the controversy rages. The various parliamentary groups, which more or less correspond to the different bodies of public opinion in the country, have each registered their opinion. On one hand, an alliance between the extreme Clericals and the extreme official Socialists has pronounced in favour of neutrality usque ad finem. The reasons of the former are not Christian charity, but a hope in the righteous chastisement of infidel France and in the triumph of Catholic Austria. It is useless to argue with them that the war against Germany is a war against Nietscheism, the most formidable foe of Christianity, or to plead that the chiefest need of Catholicism in Austria is to be freed from the shackles of State control. The Socialists, for their part, desire peace at any price as a logical consequence of their principles of international solidarity; and it is not unlikely that the negation of patriotism is the bond of union between them and the Clericals, for there are grave suspicions that another and possibly weightier reason why the latter desire Italy to remain neutral, is the sectarian hope that Italy will be excluded from the peace congress, while the Pope will succeed in being represented.
At the opposite extreme is the party which advocates war at any price. It is composed of Futurists, Reform Socialists, Republicans and Nationalists. The Futurists bark louder than they bite; 'la guerra per noi è la sola igiene del mondo!' The Reform Socialists and
Republicans are idealists. They appeal to duty rather than to material interests. In a recent manifesto issued over the signature of Signor Bissolati, leader of the Reform Socialists, it was urged eloquently and fervently that it was the duty of Italians to stand up and fight on the side of nationality and democracy; that it would be shameful to receive Trent or Trieste at the hands of a victorious France without making the smallest sacrifice to deserve them; and that, for the honour of Italian arms, it is necessary to reverse the verdicts of Custozza and of Lissa. The Republicans use very similar arguments, though, true to their Mazzinian traditions, they lay particular stress on the prime necessity of making another step in advance towards uniting all Italians under one flag. Their appeal is not without effect, especially in Rome and in the Romagna and in those provinces which have not forgotten the Austrian oppression.
Unfortunately for the success of this propaganda, the majority of Italians are too much the calculating and practical children of this world. Before embarking on a war to liberate Trent and Istria, they want to be sure that success would mean material advantage, that the lives gained by adding the populations of these provinces to the kingdom of Italy would more than balance the lives lost in the enterprise. Italians displayed in the Risorgimento an admirable capacity for idealism, but the bulk of them need to be fed on something more solid than ideals. Now the Nationalists-who form the backbone of the war-party, and who date their origin from the need, recognised by a number of young Italians a few years ago, of giving Italy a backbone-claim to offer their countrymen, if they would only decide to make war without further delay, some solid material gain besides. Their strength lies in the fact that they are represented in all the more important political groups. They have an important following among the younger generation, and, as the Press is largely in the hands of young men, they have gained, if not the control of the most important newspapers, at least the right of using them for airing their opinions. The vast majority of them are in favour of war; and this explains the fact that the majority of the more Vol. 222.-No. 442.
influential newspapers appear to be of the same opinion. But the opinion of the majority of the Press must not be taken to mean the opinion of the majority of the electorate.
Signor Giuseppe Bevione, member of parliament for Turin, who with Signor Federzoni may be considered joint leader of the Nationalist Party, published lately in the 'Stampa' a series of admirable articles on the theme of Italy's neutrality and the necessity of joining in the war. After setting forth the Nationalist creed, which is scarcely Nationalist in the ordinary sense of the word but is rather faith in the supreme importance of national prestige and national strength as a reacting influence on the economic and moral well-being of the people, Signor Bevione enters upon a discussion of the practical issues at stake. Italy must show herself before the world disciplined and organised and capable of making supreme sacrifices. She must make a military reputation. She must not only see to it that the war leaves her mistress of the Adriatic, but that the Adriatic becomes essentially an Italian sea. It is not sufficient to occupy Valona, the strategic key to the Adriatic; nor even to make sure that Trieste and Pola, predominantly Italian, become united to the motherland. Dalmatia and the Islands, which owe all that is best in them to the civilising influence of Venice, must also be redeemed. So it is the business of Italy to anticipate the invasion of the Serbs and to confront Europe at the peace congress with the logic of an accomplished occupation. She must stand shoulder to shoulder with Englishmen in Egypt against Turkey, so that she may earn the right to a modification of the Egypto-Libyan frontier in her favour, to permanent possession of the Dodekanese and to a share in any eventual partition of Turkey. The defeat of Germany and of Austria-Signor Bevione goes on to say-is not so certain that Italy can afford to stand aside. Latin civilisation, superior to Teutonic, runs the risk of being submerged for a time; and it is Italy's interest to stand as champion of Latin civilisation. The break-up of Austria is of paramount importance for the future peace of Europe and for the hope of a peace unsoiled by a senseless race of armaments. The victory of Austria means that Austria will obtain predominance in the