We are constantly being told by high authorities that the moral objective of the present war is 'to put down militarism,' and 'abolish it' off the face of the earth. There are few of us who do not wish that this aim may be crowned with success; but militarism is a tough weed to kill, and something {147} more than the mere mowing of it down by some outside scythesman will be necessary, one imagines, in order to get rid of it.

The true moral objective of the war is something much more important than this. A blacker evil than militarism is that violation of private trust and public honour which is known as the Prussian System, and which has recently been 'marching through rapine, to the disintegration,' not of a single nation, or group of nations, but of the whole fabric of human society, including its own. It is an elaborate contrivance of extreme artificiality, a strange perversion of the nature of man. These are its inherent weaknesses; and fortunately, by reason of them, it is more vulnerable to hard blows than militarism which, with all its vices, and extravagancies, is rooted in instincts which are neither depraved nor ignoble.

Militarism might continue to thrive under adversity, and after the heaviest defeat, as it has done in times past; but the life of the Prussian System—that joint invention of the most efficient bureaucracy in the world, and of  can only be matched by its sycophancy and conceit—hangs upon the thread of success. Like the South Sea Bubble, or any of those other impostures of the financial sort, which have temporarily beguiled the confidence of mankind, it must collapse utterly under the shock of failure. It depends entirely on credit, and its powers of recuperation are nil. When its assets are disclosed, the characters of its promoters will be understood. The need, therefore, is to bring it at all costs to a complete demonstration of failure.


We have been urged by our own anti-militarists not to inflict suffering and humiliation on Germany. But this is not a matter of the slightest importance one way or the other. It has but little to do with the issue which it is our business to settle, if we have the good fortune to come out victorious from the present struggle. To set up the suffering and humiliation of Germany as the object of high policy would cover the Allies with contempt; but to shrink from such things, if they should happen to stand between the Allies and the utter moral bankruptcy of the Prussian System, would overwhelm them with a burden far heavier and more shameful than contempt.