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974
CONSECRATION

last fears of invasion, industries were beginning to spring up around the great trading centres of Germany.

With the treaty of Frankfurt the last fears of the investors vanished, and capital, hitherto dammed back by the uncertainty of land tenure, particularly in the Rhine districts, literally poured into the country, inducing an era of expansion and prosperity for which one can hardly find a parallel, even in America.

That such a period of evolution should have been attended by fluctuations lies in the nature of things. Men accustomed to deal only in hundreds find it difficult to adapt themselves to the business methods requisite to deal securely with millions, and there have been many severe crises due to over-production and speculation, which displaced large masses of workmen and brought misery to thousands of homes.

The remarkable increase of population, the direct consequence of the broader understanding of elementary hygienic principles instilled into the men during their service with the colours, brought a fresh complication into the problem. The strength of the army being definitely fixed by financial considerations, the proportion of men taken for service to the total number annually becoming liable fell off, during the ’eighties, to a very marked degree, and the men who escaped service, being as a consequence of their want of training less fitted for employment in the organized industries which were in process of evolution, swelled the ranks of the unemployed and thus afforded fresh material for the socialist propagandists to work upon. If the proportion of men escaping service rose materially above one half of the total yearly contingent of men becoming available for service, the danger lay very near that the socialist vote might soon exceed all other interests put together, thus threatening the stability of all existing institutions. To meet this danger it was determined in 1893 to increase the annual contingent whilst diminishing the duration of colour service, so that approximately two-thirds of the men available should pass through the ranks, it being held that the habit of obedience to constituted authority acquired in the army, together with the silent influence which could be exercised on the ex-soldiers and reservists by the sympathy and example of their former commanders of all ranks, formed the best possible guarantee against the undue spread of socialistic doctrine. It was never anticipated that all men who had served their two years would become partisans of constituted authority, but only that, whilst all would learn the hopelessness of armed resistance against the force which held control of the solid-drawn cartridges and artillery material, the bulk at least would recognize the substantial advantages that accrued to them personally from their previous connexion with the services, and would form a solid bulwark against the spread of subversive doctrines.

To realize the whole situation, the attitude of the leading thinkers amongst the statesmen and soldiers of Germany must be borne in mind. Socialism is to them a necessary lever to extort from capital fairer conditions for labour, capital must be fairly dealt with if the labourers’ reasonable demands are to be satisfied, and the army is the compensating lever which secures the necessary adjustments. Capital is attracted by the security of tenure ensured by a strong army, and the working classes are encouraged to put forward reasonable demands by the habits of self-respect and the sense of individuality they acquire in the army, whilst the possible danger of any abuse of the offensive power the army embodies is curbed by the fact, well known and realized by all continental soldiers, that though one may order men on to the battlefield, one cannot guarantee that they will fight when they get there unless the cause they are called on to defend appeals to the hereditary instincts of self-preservation in the race itself. It is unfortunate that sufficient attention has not yet been paid to the statistical side of this question, and concrete figures are not forthcoming to demonstrate the material benefits which have flowed from compulsory service.

Briefly, however, it may be pointed out that under modern conditions of industry the greatest national wealth-producing power resides, not as formerly in the technical skill of the individual, which machinery is gradually superseding, but in the power of continuous collective effort of organized bodies, and that physical health and the power of mental concentration are the principal qualities required by the units of such bodies. Now these are the two essential factors which modern methods of military training aim at developing, and these methods in turn evolved naturally from the conditions of service which compulsion introduced. The men who have undergone this training leave the ranks with bodies steeled to resist disease, and minds capable of prolonged concentrated effort. Hence they not only remain capable of work for a considerably longer period of time, but they also do better work throughout the whole time. It has been estimated that on the average the trained German soldier’s expectation of life is about five years better than the normal of his own class. Hence altogether about one million men are still alive and doing good work who without such training would be dead and buried; similarly there are in all some seven millions more, all doing better work day for day than they otherwise would have done.

On the whole the armies of the German states absorbed in taxation some 1500 million sterling from Waterloo (1815) up to 1906; hence if we assume the increment of wealth-producing power due to training as only two shillings a week per man, the net return on the capital invested must be regarded as enormous, and that some such economic process has been in action is sufficiently indicated by the almost incredible growth in national credit during the same period.

At the close of the Napoleonic wars, German (including Prussian) credit was actually nil, and there was hardly a town or hamlet throughout the area swept over by the French armies that was not paying heavy interest on loans raised to satisfy the rapacity of its conquerors. Many of these loans still remained unliquidated at the close of the 1870 campaign. Yet since then the credit, both of the individual states and of the empire as a whole, has risen to a point rivalling that of Great Britain, in spite of the fact that in geographical position and in material resources the country is by no means favourably situated.

These advantages have followed on the introduction of compulsory service in Germany—not because there is any inherent virtue in the principle of compulsion in itself, but because it happened that, at the moment compulsion became necessary, the idea was exactly adapted to its environment, and the driving forces necessary to ensure its permanency remained in full activity. Primarily there existed an aristocracy numerically sufficient to fill the offices of instructorship to the masses, and poverty compelled this aristocracy to accept the new responsibility. In the second place there was the knowledge of what war really means, sufficiently vivid and fresh in the minds of the masses to induce them to submit to the necessary restraints of military discipline. When these causes were no longer in full activity, there remained, as sufficient incentive to those still in the active phase of their training, the knowledge that the nation at large, and more particularly the women, fully appreciated the sacrifices that all ranks were compelled to make.

In other nations these driving forces have been absent. Thus in Russia the aristocracy was both numerically and intellectually inadequate to the tasks compulsion entailed upon it. But generally it can be seen that the success or failure of the system has been in exact proportion to the degree in which these driving forces have been available. The failure of compulsion if applied in the British Isles would be due to the fact that the principal factor of its success—the knowledge of what war must mean and the risk of immediate invasion—cannot be brought home to the people as long as the British navy retains its predominance. If the navy is adequate to prevent invasion, then compulsion is unnecessary; if it is inadequate, then the only way to make good its inadequacy is to bring home to the electors by a course of partial training the consequences which must ensue if they continue to neglect it.  (F. N. M.) 


CONSECRATION (Lat. consecratio, from con and sacrare, “to make sacred”), the separating or setting apart of certain persons, animals, things, places and seasons as sacred, so as to hallow and sanctify them in themselves or adapt them to a