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The small group of British publicists who have collaborated in presenting “The Idea of the League of Nations” have long been working towards universal peace from an angle of their own. Under the chairmanship of Mr. H. G. Wells, they have formed The League of Free Nations Association, and have divided among themselves the principal problems connected with the formation of such a league, subject for extended study, appraisal, and suggestions for solution. The remarkable qualifications of this group assure to their treatise a high place in the literature of World Peace.
Copyright, 1919, by
THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY PRESS, INC.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
UNIFICATION of human affairs, to the extent at least of a cessation of war and a world-wide rule of international law, is no new idea; it can be traced through many centuries of history. It is found as an acceptable commonplace in a fragment, De Republica, of Cicero. It has, indeed, appeared in, and passed out of, the foreground of thought, and reappeared there, again and again.
Hitherto, however, if only on account of the limitations of geographical knowledge, the project has rarely been truly worldwide, though in some instances it has comprehended practically all the known world. Almost always there has been an excluded fringe of barbarians and races esteemed as less than men.
The Roman Empire realized the idea in a limited sphere and in a mechanical, despotic fashion. It was inherent in the propaganda of Islam- excluding the unbeliever. It was the dream of the medieval Church - a dream which, partly in harmony, partly in rivalry, with the mediæval Empire, it was constantly trying to realize, however ineffectually. (But here again the line was drawn against the infidel.) It may be said that the political unity of Christendom, overriding states and nations, was the orthodox and typical doctrine of the Middle Ages. The individual states were regarded as being, in the nature of things, members of one great body politic, presided over by the Pope or the Emperor or both. It was the idea of the world-supremacy of the Empire which inspired Dante's De Monarchia; but, as Lord Bryce has remarked, 'Dante's book was an epilogue instead of a prophecy.' The Council of Constance (1414-1418) brought together the Christian princes of all countries, the higher dignitaries of the