- When I read The Karma of Untruthfulness, Volume1, over a decade ago, it was difficult to verify the, to me, sometimes obscure events and observations Steiner outlined in connection with the War. It's much easier now with the i/net. One of the observations is this on the attempt by Germany to localise the Austria -Serbia dispute :
"Another example: The blame for the war is laid at the door of the German government. Against that, the question can be asked: What would have happened if what the German government had desired had come to pass, namely the localization of the war between Austria and Serbia? For even a child could tell by following the negotiations that it was the aim of the German government to localize the war between Austria and Serbia, and not to allow it to spread beyond the conflict between Austria and Serbia. So we can ask: What would have happened if events had gone as the German government wished? We should all answer this question conscientiously.
There is another question which also requires a conscientious answer. In order to localize the war, one thing was necessary: Russia should have kept quiet; she should have refrained from interfering. If Russia had not interfered, the war could have been localized. Of course, other constraints play into this from other directions, but these constraints have nothing to do with the will of human beings or with the question of apportioning blame. Why, in the discussions between Sir Edward Grey and all the others, does the viewpoint of localization never put in an appearance, at least not seriously? Why, instead, even as early as 23 July, does the viewpoint arise: Russia must be satisfied? We never hear the viewpoint that Austria might be left alone with Serbia; always we hear that Russia cannot possibly be expected to leave Serbia alone. The viewpoint of localization was not brought up, even when Austria gave her binding promise not to attack the territorial integrity of Serbia. Is it possible to say that this was not believed? Even then they could have waited! It has happened before only think of earlier events that countries have been left to get on with their quarrel, and afterwards a conference has been called. Why does it immediately become the task of those with whom Sir Edward Grey speaks to keep on defining the problem as a Russian one? This is another question that must be answered by those who want to examine this affair conscientiously."
On what appears to be an anarchism website - how appropriate ! - there is an interesting collection of WW1 source material and writings. From H. E. Barnes', The World War of 1914-1918 we can read:
"We now have the actual facts about 1914. They demolish the Entente picture, though nobody of sense regards Germany as a helpless lamb in the midst of a pack of howling wolves.
In the decade before the war, Germany had made vigorous efforts to arrive at an understanding with Russia, France, and England, but had failed. This was partially because of France's determination to recover Alsace-Lorraine, Britain's jealousy of German naval, mercantile, and colonial power, and Russia's desire for the Straits leading out of the Black Sea. It was in part because of the maladroit diplomacy of Chancellor Bernhard von Bulow and his evil genius, Baron von Holstein. They bungled German relations with France and Britain. Between 1912 and 1914, Izvolsky, Russian Ambassador in Paris, and President Raymond Poincare of France carried through a diplomatic revolution which placed France and Russia in readiness for any favorable diplomatic crisis that would bring England in on their side and make possible the French recapture of Alsace-Lorraine and the Russian seizure of the Straits.
This opportunity came after the assassination of the Austro-Hungarian Archduke in 1914. Germany accepted all the important diplomatic proposals of 1914 save one. For this she substituted one which even England admitted was far superior. She tried to hold Austria in check after July 27, but France and Russia refused to be conciliatory. In the very midst of promising diplomatic negotiations, Russia arbitrarily ordered a general mobilization on the German frontier. France had given her prior approval. Such a mobilization had long been recognized in the European capitals as tantamount to a declaration of war on Germany.
After vainly exhorting the Russians to cancel their mobilization, Germany finally set her forces in action against the numerous Russian hordes. France informed Russia that she had decided on war a day before Germany declared war on Russia and three days before Germany declared war on France. England came in to check the growth of German naval, colonial, and mercantile power. The Belgian gesture was a transparent subterfuge, used by Sir Edward Grey to inflame the British populace. He himself admitted that he would have resigned if England had not entered the war, even though Germany had respected Belgian neutrality. The documents show us that Grey refused even to discuss the German proposal to respect Belgian neutrality as a condition of British neutrality. Belgium had not even figured in the British cabinet discussions when war was decided upon. Lord Morley's Memorandum on Resignation proves this"
and from Emrys Hughes, Winston Churchill: British Bulldog:
"Haldane and Grey led the minority who were for war from the beginning. As the crisis deepened, the group which stood for peace gradually withered away, especially after the defection of Lloyd George, and joined the pro-war clique. Only John Morley and John Burns held out to the end against war, which they regarded as an international crime with which they could not be associated. They resigned rather than countenance this gigantic gamble with the lives of millions of men. In his famous Memorandum on Resignation, Morley reveals the fact that a majority of the Cabinet had decided to enter the war before the question of the neutrality of Belgium had been brought up in any way."
and this excerpt from the Morley Memorandum on his resignation:
" I travelled in my mind over all the well-trodden ground of the diplomacies of the last fortnight. I recalled a conversation, recorded in some blue print, between Grey and Lichnowsky, in which there was almost a glow and fervour not common in such: affairs, over the blessed improvement in the relations of England and Germany during the last three or four years. Why was not this great new fact, instead of the Entente, made the centre, the pivot, the starting-point of new negotiations? Grey's fine character had achieved an influence in Europe that was the noblest asset for the fame of England and the glory of peace. In a few hours it would be gone. I could not but be penetrated by the precipitancy of it all. What grounds for expecting that the ruinous waste and havoc of war would be repaid by peace on better terms than were already within reach of reason and persistent patience. When we counted our gains, what would they amount to, when reckoned against the ferocious hatred that would burn with inextinguishable fire, for a whole generation at least, between two great communities better fitted to understand one another than any other pair in Europe?"
"MY DEAR ASQUITH,
I have, as you wished, taken a night to think over my retirement. I have given earnest pains to reach a sensible conclusion.
The thing is clear. Nothing can be so fatal in present circumstances as a Cabinet with divided counsels. Grey has pointed out the essential difference between two views of Neutrality in the present case. Well, I deplore to think that I incline one way, and three or four of my leading colleagues incline the other way. This being so, I could contribute nothing useful to your deliberations, and my presence could only hamper the concentrated energy, the zealous and convinced accord, that are indispensable.
You remember the Peelites entering Palmerston's Cabinet in the Crimean War: they entered it, and resigned in two or three days. If we abandon Neutrality, I fear that within two or three days, vital points might arise that would make my presence a tiresome nuisance.
I press you, therefore, to release me. I propose to come to the Cabinet to-day after the P.C. at the Palace. But I don't expect to be affected by what will pass there. (Cabinet.)
You will believe that I write this with heartfelt pain.
Ever yours, M."
Wiki lists the sequence of events leading to war, which I excerpt from:
▪ June 28, 1914: Serbian irredentists assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.
▪ July 23: Austria-Hungary, following their own secret enquiry, sends an ultimatum to Serbia, containing several very severe demands. In particular, they gave only forty-eight hours to comply. Whilst both Great Britain and Russia sympathised with many of the demands, both agreed the timescale was far too short. Both nevertheless advised Serbia to comply.
▪ July 24: Germany officially declares support for Austria's position.
▪ July 24: Sir Edward Grey, speaking for the British government, asks that Germany, France, Italy and Great Britain, "who had no direct interests in Serbia, should act together for the sake of peace simultaneously."
▪ July 25: The Serbian government replies to Austria, and agrees to most of the demands. However, certain demands brought into question her survival as an independent nation. On these points they asked that the Hague Tribunalarbitrate.
▪ July 25: Russia enters a period preparatory to war and mobilization begins on all frontiers. Government decides on a partial mobilization in principle to begin on July 29.
Why does Russia mobilise?
In my early 20s I took 2nd and third year modules from the Warwick University humanities department for a one year post-graduate diploma in International Studies. As part of the course-work, I had to address the perennial question of what caused the first world war. The answer was that no one really knew but the best culprits seemed to be nationalism; the anglo-German naval arms race; colonial and economic competition (which is really nationalism by another name); and the treaty system, that supposedly made it difficult to reverse mobilisation decisions. None of this accounts for the conflagration of war across the world, and of the question itself Wiki says:
"The topic of the causes of World War I is one of the most studied in all of world history. Scholars have differed significantly in their interpretations of the event.".
The continuing degree of 'differing of interpretation' is apparent from almost every section of the Wiki article, where many are, perhaps subconsciously, written to try to point blame at the Central Powers. A simple example is this sentence:
"Long-term causes of the war included the imperialistic foreign policies of the great powers of Europe, including the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire, the British Empire, France, and Italy."
which puts Germany and Austria-Hungary at the head of the list, in spite of the fact that the foreign territories of those countries were insignificant, especially compared to the British Empire, for which the 'sun never set' and large parts of the world were painted pink.
The anarchist site is a fan of Stirner and Mackay. Steiner had an interesting exchange with Mackay in the Magazin Fur Literatur in 1898. Both were fighting against the 'Propaganda of the deed', or 'communist fascism' as I call it, in favour of individualistic anarchism (http://wn.rsarchive.org/Articles/Anarcy_index.html). That site has a few interesting quotes on its theme, one of which is:
"...When compared with the suppression of anarchy every other question sinks into insignificance. The anarchist is the enemy of humanity, the enemy of all mankind, and his is a deeper degree of criminality than any other. No immigrant is allowed to come to our shores if he is an anarchist; and no paper published here or abroad should be permitted circulation in this country if it propagates anarchist opinions."
--President Theodore Roosevelt, Message To the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Regarding Transmission Through the Mails of Anarchistic Publications April 9, 1908