2004-05-16

The L Word: Another Peace Movement

THE L WORD: LIBERALISM IN CRISIS
THE PEACE MOVEMENT: FRANCE, 1930’S

Paul Berman, Terror and Liberlism:

... They did not wish to reduce Germany in all its Teutonic complexity to black-and-white terms of good and evil. The anti-war Socialists pointed out that Germany had been wronged by the Treaty of Versailles, at the conclusion of the First World War. The anti-war Socialists observed that the Germans living in Slavic countries to the East were sometimes cruelly treated by their neighbors, and that Germany in the 1930s had every right to complain about its neighbors, and that Germany’s people were, in fact, suffering, just as Hitler said. And, having analyzed the German scene in this manner, the anti-war Socialists concluded that Hitler and the Nazis, in railing against the Great Powers and the Treaty of Versailles, did make some legitimate arguments – even if Nazism came from the extreme right and was not at all to the Socialists’ taste.

The anti-war Socialists wanted to know: why shouldn’t the French government show a little flexibility in the face of Hitler’s demands? Why not recognize that some of Hitler’s points were well taken? Why not look for ways to conciliate the outraged German people and, in that way, to conciliate the Nazis? ...

... They felt that courage and radicalism allowed them to peer beneath the surface of events and identify the deeper factors at work in international relations – the truest danger facing France. This danger, in their judgment, did not come from Hitler and the Nazis, not principally.

The truest danger came from the warmongers and arms manufacturers of France itself, as well as from the other great powers – the people who stood to benefit in material ways from a new war. ...

Terror and Liberalism, pp. 124 - 125