IN his book The Aftermath Winston Churchill revealed nostalgically his vision of the imperialist might-have-been. Thus Clemenceau, Lloyd George and Wilson agreed to establish a League of Nations which would embrace “all the dominating races of the world”. They resolved upon intervention in Russia and invited Germany to assist in the task of “liberation”. French fears were quieted by a guarantee from the Anglo-Saxon powers. “Having settled all vital matters” the peacemakers busied themselves with world currencies and arming the League. That is to say, all impediments and contradictions having vanished into thin air, the imperialists got their teeth into the Soviet Republic. British policy can be summarised in one word, the German war being out of the way, counter-revolution. When the epitaph of British imperialism is finally written it will be said that for this aim, pursued undeviatingly over half a century and more, it sacrificed its own existence.
In his analysis of what went wrong, Churchill only half-grasped the inevitability of the obstacles that littered the path to his mirage. The continuance of the war-time coalition, far from maintaining national unity, merely transferred the point of division to within the Liberal Party. It could not survive. Lloyd George must attempt to bestride the world with one foot slipping. The British soldiers had joined up for the war they thought was forced on them, not for another of Lloyd George’s choosing. “Hang the Kaiser” and “Squeeze the Hun till the pips squeak” were the slogans of the most popular demagogues. Units of all forces mutinied for demobilisation. The town of Calais was seized and held for four days. The Town Hall at Luton was burned down.
External affairs developed no better. The “dominating races” could not agree on how much domination each was to do. The lesser breeds evinced a strong distaste for being dominated. National revolutions continued throughout the world. The German people revolted and the victors intensified the blockade while Ebert, Schcidemann and Noske watered the soil with the blood of the working class. Once secure, the German capitalists bargained for better terms until threats of resumption of war brought them to heel. Italy, dissatisfied with her share of the spoils, walked out of the Peace Conference and started a little