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established the Dutch Republic-and so on through a melancholy catalogue which might be extended over many pages.
As he calls this host of examples to mind, the historian registers the fact that certain of these attempts at Self-Determination ended in success and others in failure, and the further fact that all alike, whatever the particular outcome, were accompanied by devastations, sufferings, follies, and cruelties, on one side or more commonly on both sides, that are blots on the history of Mankind; but if the historian is asked to go beyond this registration of fact and to form a moral judgment, he will usually find it difficult to deliver a verdict of right or wrong, not only upon the general principle of Self-Determination, but upon the concrete issues raised in each particular case.
Take, for example, the question of the overthrow of the Temporal Power of the Papacy by the Italian movement for national unity. Was it wrong that the Temporal Power should attempt to stand in the way of the Italian people's desire to exercise Self-Determina tion? Or was it wrong that the Italian people should exercise Self-Determination at the expense of the vested interests of the Papacy and of the sentiments of the Catholic Church throughout the world? Which had the greater right to satisfaction: the comparatively strong wishes and vital interests of a few million Italians, or the comparatively weak wishes and non-vital interests of many million Catholics? What court is competent to pronounce whether what actually happened was just or unjust upon the balance of these vast but almost imponderable and incommensurable considerations? Must we not be content with recording that the battle was joined, and that it resulted in such and such a decision?
There are many cases, of course, in which a moral judgment is less difficult. For instance, few disinterested persons will deny the right of the Italian populations to exercise Self-Determination at the expense of the Neapolitan Bourbons or of the Emperor Francis Joseph, or the right of the Poles to attempt to exercise it at the expense of the Hapsburgs, Romanovs, and Hohenzollerns. We shall pronounce without difficulty that Garibaldi was in the right when he dethroned King
Bomba, and that the Czars were in the wrong when they crushed the Poles; yet we shall soon find ourselves in difficulties again, for the righteous overthrow of oppressive or anachronistic dynasties often leaves face to face with one another a number of peoples severally attempting to exercise Self-Determination on incompatible lines.
If the case of the Polish people against the Hohenzollerns is clear, that of the Polish and German peoples against one another seems almost insoluble. The Germans were, of course, flagrantly in the wrong before 1914, when they were not only holding a large Polish minority by force within the German national state in order to give that state territorial cohesion and a strategic frontier, but were ousting the Poles from the land by expropriation in favour of German colonists, and were denying to those Poles whom they did not evict the free use of the national language-an advantage which the Germans enjoyed and which they regarded as a sacred right where they themselves were concerned. On the other hand, have the Poles been justified, since 1919, in breaking the territorial continuity of Germany by the 'Polish Corridor' extending to the Baltic, in order to include in the Polish state a few more hundred thousand persons whose desire for Self-Determination takes the form of wishing to be Polish citizens? Since the terms of the Versailles Treaty have been tested by experience, opinion in Great Britain has been tending more and more to answer this question in the negative. Yet this, again, is a comparatively simple case. In the question of the Polish Corridor' the local interests of a small number of Poles conflict with the general interests of the whole German people, and it is not difficult to discern wherein lies the greatest happiness of the greatest number. It would be different if the 'Polish Corridor' happened (which is not in fact the case, though a casual glance at the present political map might at first sight suggest the contrary) to provide economic access to the sea for Poland as a whole. As a matter of fact, the natural access of Poland to the sea lies, not through the Corridor, but further east down the Vistula, and this raises more complicated questions. Has the Polish nation as a whole the right to break the territorial
continuity of Germany in order to secure for Poland that territorial access to the sea which cannot otherwise be provided for? And, in detail, has the Polish nation the right, for the same purpose, to deny Self-Determination to the people of Danzig by compelling them to be separated from Germany against their will and to constitute a free city which they do not want and which is bound to Poland by certain political and economic ties which the Danzigers dislike exceedingly? If this were merely a question between Poland and Danzig, we should probably be inclined to pronounce judgment, once again, on the 'greatest happiness of the greatest number' principle; but what verdict of right or wrong can we give on the issue between Poland and Germany? The Polish people's demand for Self-Determination apparently requires that the territorial continuity of Germany shall be broken, while the same demand on the part of the German people requires that Poland shall be cut off from the sea. The vital interests involved in the Self-Determination of the German and the Polish peoples thus appear to be incompatible; and, if so, it would seem impossible to pronounce that either possesses a right of Self-Determination against the other. How, then, we might argue, can it be maintained that the Self-Determination of peoples, in general, constitutes a moral right at all? Should it not be regarded simply as an historical phenomenon, which sometimes occurs and at other times fails to occur in the course of the interminable struggle for existence?
Consider, finally, the case of Fiume, in which the desire of the Italian people to complete their national unity by bringing the last of their unredeemed brethren within the fold of the national state has been and remains in apparently irreconcilable conflict with the desire of the Jugoslav people to control a port which is almost as necessary to them as Danzig is to Poland for the exercise of Self-Determination in the economic sphere. In this case, perhaps, it might be judged that, as far as Italian sentiments and Jugoslav interests can be measured against each other, they cancel one another out, and that, in investigating the rights and wrongs of the case, we ought to be guided by the inclinations of the local population of Fiume itself. If the Fiumans were to be
permitted the free exercise of Self-Determination (which they never have been permitted at any stage of the long controversy over Fiume between Jugoslavia and Italy), what would they choose? The correct answer appears to be that they do not know their own minds, and cannot know them, because two essential elements in their desires are incompatible with one another. As Italians they desire incorporation in the Italian kingdom; as inhabitants of a port, they desire a régime which will give them free intercourse with their economic hinterland, that is, with Jugoslavia. These two desiderata, however, are incompatible in the actual circumstances; and thus, for the people of Fiume, the necessary economic and political conditions of Self-Determination cannot both be realised simultaneously, which is almost equivalent to saying that in this instance Self-Determination is not only unrealised but is incapable of realisation. An even more striking case in which Self-Determination has been inherently impossible is that of pre-war Constantinople-a city of over a million inhabitants which was formerly the capital of Turkey and at the same time lay astride the only waterway between the open sea and half the Russian Empire, while a majority of the inhabitants of the city desired to belong politically neither to Russia nor to Turkey but to other national states, some of which were not then in being and none of which could have commanded a majority (as distinct from a mere plurality) in Constantinople city.
Such investigations into the right, as contrasted with the fact, of Self-Determination, in the light of historical examples, lead us into difficulties apparently so inextricable that we might be tempted to explore no further, were it not that, beyond the questions of fact and of right, there remains the question of expediency. However barren the controversy over the rights and wrongs of Self-Determination may be, it is certainly inexpedient to ignore its existence, for this controversy is one of those great permanent forces that have to be reckoned with in human affairs; in our historical retrospect we have already taken the measure of the havoc which it has caused; and it is evident that the recurrent outbreaks of the struggle have been as violent as they 0 have been, just because the problem has usually either
been left out of account or dismissed as insoluble. In order to realise this, we have only to consider two facts: first, that no group of individuals regarding themselves as constituting a 'people' has ever renounced what it looks upon as its natural right' to exercise SelfDetermination in certain contingencies; and, secondly, that no state has ever admitted that any right of SelfDetermination is valid as against the right of state sovereignty, which modern states still implicitly regard as being absolute, though it is no longer the fashion openly to call this right 'divine.' Nevertheless, every sovereign government assumes, and always has assumed, an absolute duty of loyalty on the part of its subjects and an absolute right on its own part to resist disloyalty by every means of violence in its power. The 'SelfDetermination of Peoples' and the Divine Right of States' stand over against each other as two uncompromising and irreconcilable claims, and so far we seem to have found no better method of adjudicating between them in practice than the method of ordeal. If a state whose existence is threatened by some popular demand for Self-Determination is strong enough and ruthless enough to crush the movement, there the matter ends. If, on the other hand, the people that is bent on SelfDetermination proves tough enough to survive persecution, numerous enough to overthrow the obnoxious state unaided, or diplomatic enough to enlist neighbouring states to accomplish the work for it, then the matter ends the other way. In a recent instance, ordeal by battle has refuted the Divine Right of the Hapsburg Monarchy and confirmed the Right of the Jugoslavs to Self-Determination, while at the same time it has upheld the Divine Right of the Serbian state as against a claim to Self-Determination on the part of the Macedonian Bulgars.
That, undeniably, is the present situation. These moral claims and counterclaims are disposed of by physical force. Yet are we satisfied that it is either right or expedient that it should be so? Western observers have satirically described the traditional system of government in China as 'despotism tempered by a right of rebellion'; and such a system strikes us forcibly as illogical, inefficient, and wasteful. Why not