It makes little difference whether the recognition of the necessity of a code of international morals came as a result of experience, or whether it came as a result of abstract reasoning; it is the present fact that counts, and that is decisive.
The Allied powers stand ready to recognize and protect the rights of small nationalities, while Germany disregards these, and even stands ready to crush their very lives out. It is not an accident that among the Germans we find a sociological writer of note, one pretending to be a socialist (Cunow), who only recently declared that small nations have no right to exist. As against this philosophy of brutal force we have such men as Lord Bryce, of England; Senator Martin, of France; Gustav Herve, the French socialist, and the Russian Miljukov, who have emphasized time and again the fact that for the sake of a soulless State the life of no nation shall be crushed out. The recent Irish episode, properly analyzed, is not a refutation of these facts.
It is, therefore, no exaggeration to say that this war, at least in one of its phases, is one between two conflicting civilizations, and between two different conceptions of the world, or, as the Germans themselves would call it, between two Weltanschauungen.
It is perfectly fitting that we here in America should speak of a conflict between two civilizations. The great American Civil War was a struggle against slavery. But it was more, it was a struggle for the preservation of the great American Union as the most advanced experiment in modern democracy; and it was yet more, it also was a struggle between two civilizations; between a civilization based upon slavery on the one hand, and a civilization based upon wage labor on the other hand. There could be no real progress in this country until the civilization based upon slavery was done away with, and only after its destruction could the country reach the highroad to real democracy and real freedom.