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I OWE some words of explanation why I have selected these four political figures for study, and not others. The choice was not fortuitous. I had in mind the presentation of two protagonists on either side of the present great debate of liberalism and anti-liberalism, democracy and anti-democracy.
President Wilson may be regarded as a representative of liberalism and the liberal tradition which in its international aspect created the League of Nations. Venizelos is the type of liberalism operating on a national stage and for national ends. Mr Bagger has called him of the house and lineage of the nineteenth-century National Liberals. This may be true; not however the inference that Venizelos is a statesman born out of due time. A problem was presented to him such as faced Cavour: the achievement of national unity as the supreme issue before the nation. President Masaryk is such another.
Lenin similarly may be regarded as the head and forefront of the anti-liberal and anti-democratic reaction working on an international scale. Though he proclaimed “the dictatorship of the proletariat as the forerunner of a new democracy, yet the democracy of the liberal tradition he was never tired of denouncing as the last of hypocrisies, and its international manifestation, the League of Nations, as a predatory alliance of imperialists. Of course, this is not the only aspect from which the great Russian can be regarded. As I have endeavoured to show, he was more national than he suspected. But that he was the embodiment of an international anti-liberal reaction is not the less certain.
Mussolini, on the other hand, is, in a very different way, the personification of the anti-liberal reaction operating on a national scale. Fascismo is in origin the desperate reaction of national feeling denied and insulted by the revolution directed from Moscow. The triumph of Fascist over Communist violence in Italy converted this nationalism into a vehement anti-Liberal reaction. Mussolini would at least join Lenin in the assertion that the liberal tradition is now a sham, whatever it may once have been. He has labelled it “Nineteenth Century.” That apparently is enough to condemn it.
These antitheses may be felt to be incomplete, since Venizelos can also be regarded as a revolutionary. Indeed, Mr Lansing has testified that the only cloud that ever came between him and a thorough appreciation of Venizelos was