Religion and the Modern State

By Christopher Dawson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
WESTERN DEMOCRACY AND THE NEW POLITICAL
FORCES

THE three great Western powers, France, the British Empire and the United States (with which we may class the six lesser western powers of Scandinavia, the Low Countries and Switzerland) form, as it were, a privileged class among the nations of the world. They were the creators of the political and economic order of the nineteenth century and they were in a position to take the fullest advantage of the opportunities for wealth that it afforded. They became the masters of the sea, the owners of the greater part of the face of the globe and the world's bankers and financiers. The only other powers which can compare with them— Germany and Japan—came later into the economic field and found their commercial and colonial expansion checked by the barrier of the Western peoples who had been first in the field, a disadvantage for which they attempted to compensate by an exceptional development of military efficiency.

In the face of this gigantic development of the Western powers, the rest of the world found itself in a position of economic and political inferiority. They were the exploited and the peoples of the West were the exploiters, so that the modern nationalist movement in Asia and South Eastern Europe has in it something of the character of an international class conflict. The effect of the Great War was to remove Germany and Central Europe in general (with the exception of the Czechs) from the category of privileged nations and to reduce

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