Economic and Social History of the World War

Economic and Social History of the World War

Economic and Social History of the World War

Economic and Social History of the World War

Excerpt

It is a striking fact that the services of economists, so much in demand at present, have been sought not for light upon the processes which brought about the catastrophe from which the world is now suffering, but for suggestions to enable the victims to endure -- or escape -- the consequences. The analysis of causes still seems relatively academic.

For this limitation of interest the economists themselves have been partly responsible, almost as much as the men of affairs who appeal to them. The tendency to attribute all of the ills of post-war Europe to the treaties of peace and to the policies built upon them has proved well-nigh irresistible to the critic. Indeed, for practical purposes it has been almost necessary thus to limit the problem of subsequent economic adjustment, since the treaties state its terms. But the result, all the same, has been to obscure more and more the significance of the prime cause of the whole economic disorder -- namely the War.

The task of dealing with the problem thus left on one side was taken up by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, through its Division of Economics and History. That Division had been created, at the establishment of the Endowment, to study scientifically the nature of the effects of war upon civilized society. Its program, prior to the World War, was drawn up in harmony with this conception. Under the inspiration of the Director of the Division, Professor John B. Clark, a conference of economists from all parts of the world met at Berne in 1911 and as a result of their deliberations and Professor Clark's initiative some ninety studies dealing with various economic and historical problems of war and peace were already planned and many of them in preparation when the World War cut across both the work in hand and the organization which had been built up, and made necessary a reconsideration of the whole problem.

To meet the new situation, already early in the war, the Director of the Division requested the present General Editor to draw up plans for a comprehensive economic history of the war, the theme of which should be the extent of the displacement caused by the war in the normal processes of civilization. A provisional program for such a work was then outlined, substantially along the lines which have since been followed. Work upon it, however, was not begun until after the signature of the Treaty of Versailles some four years later; and the effective cooperation of European collaborators was not obtained until toward the spring of 1920 . During the last three years steady progress has been made, until . . .

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