External Law Enforcement

From The Righteous State
by Severin Christensen

14.—External Law Enforcement

If it were simply a question of depicting the conditions of a fully developed state of law, surrounded by mere states of law, the mention of international relations would not require much space. Because the country borders would then lose most of their importance; they would not, as now, put obstacles in the way of free traffic or exchange of goods, and no people need longingly wish the frontiers moved for the sake of the preservation of languages or national customs. No man would feel disenfranchised even if he took up residence in a foreign state. However, the concept of world citizen would not simply mean participation in certain ideal common goods; the demand for all people’s rightful share in the natural resources cannot of course be met by a national land debt alone. The petroleum resources of this planet do not belong to Americans and Russians alone, but to all nations. The coals in the bosom of England and Germany are the property of all mankind. Although the full implementation of the idea is far from over, it must be pointed out; only an international equalization of the basic values provides the final solution, for just as little as legal morality recognizes personal monopolies, it recognizes national ones. At this level of culture, border disputes will hardly be conceivable, because any motive for them has disappeared, and because the international order force will be able, by its mere existence, to prevent any attempt at self-determination. National borders will then simply denote areas for local self-government and for such local or national interests as can be reconciled with the general state of law.

The hints mentioned thus apply to conditions where all the major difficulties in the field of foreign policy have been resolved.

But a socio-ethical study such as this dare not disregard the transitional stage in which the states are currently located, and which does not appear to be short-lived. One must be warned against confusing wishes with facts. The question must then be: how should leading politicians approach the international problems during their efforts to transform the state in which they operate into a rule of law—surrounded, as it must be assumed, by mere states of power?

It is a given that agreements will be sought to the fullest extent possible with other states on all issues over which disputes may arise. Since all important economic interests in the rule of law are of a private nature, mutual peaceful arrangement will be possible by commercial treaties, built on mutual goodwill and interest as everywhere between prudent merchants. In the rule of law, it will not be so easy to inflate these interests into political disputes with the intervention of the state power. The rule of law, on the other hand, will favour all international connections, ensure the legal position of foreigners, work on internationalizing the laws, etc.

But first of all, attempts must be made to create a pitiful international law, because agreements alone do not constitute a legal system. Until now, people have built on a dangerous imagination when they thought that the so-called international law meant such a thing.

International law, says F. v. Liszt, is the epitome of the legal rules by which rights and duties between the states belonging to the international community of states (community of peoples) are mutually determined.

It sounds very beautiful, but now the situation is that absolutely no such state community is given. In any case, there is no community of such a nature that the mutual rules can be characterized by legal rules, if this is to be understood as something that corresponds to positive law (i.e. the civil laws), and not simply moral law is meant.

This is realized very quickly by considering this “community” more closely. It rests, says v. Liszt, on community in culture and interests and on intercourse with equal rights as a basis. This community of interests is the basis of the conviction that binding rules must regulate the states’ relations with each other. These rules form international law. And the author portrays the relationship quite correctly when he emphasizes that it is self-binding, dependent on mutual recognition of each individual subject’s (here: state’s) area of power.

Better, it is probably impossible to describe the basis of purely moral agreements, but there is not yet the slightest hint of anything reminiscent of the countries’ positive (civic) legislation. On the contrary, self-binding is a concept that is positive law and right as foreign as possible.

Community does not rest on the sovereign principle; no single ruler’s will is recognized.

There are also no special bodies for legal enforcement or administrative bodies. In the opinion of some, the Court of Arbitration at The Hague, the price court, and similar institutions could be seen as a kind of access to it, but no one would dare to claim that their authority had a similar unconditional character as the enforcement of positive law (i.e., civil law).

The war is still the last argument—possibly with subsequent blood revenge—just like at a certain stage in the history of national law. And in the event of abuse, just like there, a third person can usually only mediate, but neither judge nor decide.

If, as it seems, v. Liszt and his followers allow the whole problem to boil down to the following question: Who would dispute that the commonwealth has the power to compel a recalcitrant member to fulfil his legal duty? —then the position of international law as “law” seems to be quite hopeless, because where is the one who, with the experiences of the world war in mind, dares to claim that some community of international law is given the power to force the then extremely “recalcitrant” members.

But the question is not whether there is sufficient power at the moment or at any other given time with the central leadership, because a revolution or uprising in a country does not mean that the rule of law has not prevailed in that country. What matters is whether there ever existed an organization with this express purpose in mind and equipped with the necessary authority and power. And this must be answered decidedly in the negative.

If you consider the sources of international law, you get quite the same picture of the relationship.

First of all, it rests on customary law. This only requires that a rule must have been followed for a sufficiently long time and regularly. (That is, by the majority of those who have the opportunity to follow it).

But as said above, a customary rule does not have the same meaning in “international law” as it does within the legal life of the individual state, because here it can be confirmed and established from time to time by a central authority that is also able to obtain the unconditional respect and enforce it. The customary law between nations, on the other hand, is rather floating in the air, and it seems as if the individual states reserve a rather free hand with regard to its provisions.

Another source of international law is the agreements that are concluded between different states at congresses and conferences, also the decisions of arbitration courts, etc. All these provisions are in reality something that, at any rate, the great powers are quite free to face. If a rule is too bothersome, you simply refuse to sign.

The only one of the older writers who clearly saw through the corruption in the international law that was taught was Kant. He ironizes those who still credulously cite the teachers of international law, whom he calls “sorrowful comforters”, because their rules do not have the slightest legal force, nor can they, since the states are not under any common external compulsion. It is certainly a strange testimony, he says, to the deep roots of the idea of law, that one has recourse to these fragile authorities to defend one’s actions in war and peace, but on the other hand, no case is given in which a state has given up its warlike undertaking, because it felt itself moved by grounds of evidence, armed with the testimony of such important men.

Kant sees with his usual keen eye that the doctrine of international law, which as usual includes the war between its means of decision, cannot with any justification be called a doctrine of law. He therefore demands from international law that it must provide guidance for a real peace which does not contain the seeds of new wars, i.e. an eternal peace; because otherwise it will only be an armistice and we are still in the state of nature.

In order to further justify this, he has written his excellent little book “Den evige fred”[1], a writing which cuts through all the nonsense that has been said about international law, and which sees through a lot of the conditions that we still to this day groping around in. There are a few hundred lines in this book, which contain more insight and foresight than what is otherwise written in thick volumes on international law.

Like the French writer Rousseau, he does not entertain the notion that humans originally lived in a peaceful state of nature. No, the state of nature is rather a state of war. It may not always be an outbreak of hostilities, but it still threatens to do so. The state of peace must therefore be established. The absence of hostilities is not yet a guarantee for the state of peace.

If this security is not provided to one neighbour by the other— which is only possible in a state of law—then one can treat the other as an enemy after having boxed this security in vain. (Yes, that was probably what we had forgotten in the 20th century). All people who can have any influence on each other must belong to some common legal state – if there is to be a departure from the state of nature.

It relates to peoples organized in states in the same way as to individual people. If they live in the state of nature—independent of external laws—they already violate each other by living side by side. For the sake of its security, each of them can and must demand from every other that it enters into a position with it that is similar to the civil one, and by which the rights of every people can be secured. This would be a confederation of nations, but must not be a nation-state. There would be a contradiction in the state of the nation. Every state presupposes a relationship between something superior (legislative) and inferior (obedient, in this case the people). But many peoples in the same state would only constitute a single people, which contradicts the premise, since we are here talking about the right of the peoples to be equal to each other, in so far as they must constitute many different states and not merge into a single state.

Well, the malignity of human nature, says Kant, has been greatly obscured by the coercion of the government in the bourgeois law-ordered state, but in the free relations of the peoples among themselves it shows itself undisguised; and when one considers it thus, one must really wonder that the word right has not yet been able to be entirely banished from the policy of war as pedantic or petty limited, and that no state has yet dared to publicly declare this opinion. In order to justify a war attack, the still credulous Hugo Grotius, Pufendorf, Vattel and several other sad comforters are cited, although their philosophically and diplomatically drafted codex or law book does not have the slightest legal force and cannot have it, since the states as such are not under any common external coercion.

Thus every state—in words at least—pays tribute to the concept of law. And this proves that in man there is an even greater—although dormant until now—tendency to one day become master of the evil basic being (from which he cannot, however, be separated) and to nurture the same hope for others. Otherwise the word right would never be in the mouths of states waging war against each other. It would then be to make fun of it, just like the Gallic prince who declared: “it was an advantage which nature had given to the strong over the weak, that the latter should obey her.”

Now the manner in which states pursue their right can never—as in an external tribunal—be trial or trial, but only war. However, with the war and its successful outcome—victory—the right is not decided. And the peace (agreement) only ends the war in question, but not the state of war. There are always pretexts for a new war. However, one cannot directly declare this unfair either, since in this state everyone is a judge in their own case. However, reason, from the throne of the highest moral legislative authority, has unconditionally condemned the proceedings of war and, on the contrary, has made the state of peace an immediate duty. But this cannot be established or secured without an agreement between the peoples themselves. A confederation of a special kind must therefore be created, which can be called the confederation of peace; in this it differs from the peace treaty in that it only ends one war, while the peace treaty seeks to put an end to all wars forever. This confederation does not intend the acquisition of any power whatsoever from another state, but solely the assertion and safeguarding of the liberty of a state, for the benefit both of itself and of the other confederated states.

The concept of international law as a right to war really makes absolutely no sense. For it would be a right which is determined not by universally applicable external laws, whereby the freedom of every individual is limited, but rather by unilateral rules, according to which brute force must determine what is right.

There is only one way given in which the states, in their interrelationship with each other, can sensibly emerge from the lawless state which is pregnant with war. They, like the individual people, must give up their wild, lawless freedom. They must be comfortable adopting public coercive laws. They must thus form a people’s state, which must certainly always grow and eventually include all the peoples of the earth.

Kant does not seem to have quite agreed with himself about the organization of this central confederation, which was supposed to enable the enforcement of a real international law. He oscillates between a confederation of states and a single, more tightly knit nation-state. It appears from later remarks that he only chooses the first option for practical reasons, because he believes that no further progress can be made for the time being. And in principle his opinion is clear enough that a supreme legislative authority must exist.

Kant emphasizes very strongly that it is not possible to base the mutual relationship between the states on any utilitarian morality, i.e. the rule of greatest possible benefit for the greatest possible number of people. Because in the shelter of this one can commit any abuse. The concept of law must be the only thing that guides us. To be sure, both human love and respect for human rights are our duty. But while the latter is only a conditional one, this one, on the other hand, is an unconditional duty, an absolutely imperative duty, which he who wants to indulge in the sweet feeling of charity must first be absolutely sure of not having transgressed. With morality in the first sense, politics easily agrees to give the right of men to the praise of their superiors. But with morality in the other sense (as jurisprudence), for which it had to bend its knees, it finds it absolutely advisable not to indulge; rather, it will deny its reality, and explain away all duties in this regard, as if it were only a matter of benevolence.

Again and again, Kant points out that what must be strived for is to bring about a real, ordinary state of law, which works according to principles that can withstand the light of the public, and which does not allow anything to happen in foreign policy that is hidden for the people. He concludes his writing as follows: “To realize a public, a general state of law is surely a goal that can only be achieved through an endlessly progressive approximation. But if it is now one’s duty to work for that, and if one has at the same time founded hope of getting there,—then the eternal peace that follows the hitherto falsely so-called peace agreements—which are really only armistices—is not an empty idea, but a task which, solved little by little, always gets closer to its goal, because the time periods in which equal progress is made will hopefully always be shorter.’

Kant had spoken in vain—for a hundred years afterwards people continued to believe in international law as a real factor with reassuring authority behind it—until one August day in 1914 he was awakened by this gentle but foolish dream; now it was the facts that took their revenge.

The German Chancellor admitted that the German troops had deliberately committed an act contrary to the dictates of international law, and there was no court in the world which could judge this act with the slightest prospect of a result. It became glaringly obvious that the relations between the states were the raw state of nature, camouflaged by a treacherous web of “laws” taken from a fantasy state.

At home, too, it turned out that a radical government had to leave international law in the lurch when the facts presented themselves, as in August 1914, despite a generally recognized provision of international law, it blocked the free passage through our belts.

No wonder that Kant’s truths are now beginning to resurface after the earthquake, and that interest is reawakening in creating the confederation of nations that he outlined. One begins to see the crucial point: to create a peace-making authority.

Right from the beginning of the war, this desire dims, which hardly any previous war has brought so far into consciousness. The demand for a truly international legal order was heard everywhere. The world war was called “the war for the sake of peace”. And there arose friends of peace who, for a pleasant change from earlier, did not merely declaim, but really made use of some constructive thinking. It began to be understood that treaties and agreements depend only on the good will and ability of the promiser to keep his word, and that conciliation and mediation councils do not propose, but that some constitution, an international authority with sufficient power must be established to create and maintain the international rules. The sovereignty of the individual states must not be put at the forefront. But not enough with that; you must reach an agreement on certain legal principles, e.g. concerning the solution of the nationality problem, and even about certain principles for free economic intercourse. The most forward-looking saw all this. From the Italian side, there was a proposal with provisions on equal access for all people to raw materials and foodstuffs. It read thus: “The distribution between the nations of foodstuffs and of raw materials necessary for their industry must be regulated in such a way as to secure to each country the necessary conditions for its existence and work.” But how far was the step taken when “The League of Nations” should be implemented?

If we look more closely at the nature of the international structure that is about to rise, it seems that Kant is right in that the development for the time being only gives rise to a “State Bund”, a federation of states, where each sovereign state constitutes the sole in the system. This is a natural passage; you only get further when the individual state no longer means what it used to mean; when the worship of the state disintegrates, and people everywhere realize that the state is an institution for a certain use for the individuals, and that the individuals do not exist for the sake of the state.

The delegates in the “The League of Nations” are then representatives of the independent state units, but not directly for the people. The states are currently at such different levels of culture and have such different political ideals and forms of government that a closer merger is unthinkable for the time being. But between these differently constructed states, with their enclosed spheres of interest, certain agreements may be made, and their governments may form an association for the limited purpose of watching over these agreements and preventing wars as far as their power goes. More than this is not worth seeing in the League of Nations. It is a power organization of the victors, formed as a result of the war by the “Big 4” of the peace conference. And the federal pact creates authority, but without legal rules; there is a judicial system and police power, but no rules for how to judge and act.

This is a serious shortcoming, because in the long run peace cannot be maintained if the federal pact does not contain legal principles about the free exchange between the peoples, about the national monopolies, about the protection of self-determination and of cultural peculiarities, about the policy of the open door, etc. Wilson had in its original draft sought to establish certain general principles on some of these matters, but they were found to be too radical.

The prerequisite for the union’s field of action is that it contains sufficient will and power to subdue any other power group. Next, that the interests that hold it together are at all times greater than the special interests that could entice one or more of the connected to attempt a coup on their own behalf.

In general, one must not forget how primitive conditions were in the international area. The mutual situation between the states was at a stage that has its exact counterpart within the individual state’s legal development.

Within the individual state’s legal development, it was a decisive turning point, when disputes went from settling disputes by voluntary agreement or mediation to letting the state power (the King) decide them by the language of power. After all, state power is a late creation, it originally functioned only now and then in cases of war, and from there it gained its authority to also act in times of peace and to order peace when it suited it. “It is the king’s duty to bring about peace,” it is always said. And it is this stage that international legal development now seems to have reached.

If international development is to follow the same lines as legal development within the individual state, no sweeping change will occur until one or more great powers find it in line with their interests to impose general peace[2]. Anarchy can only be ended by the dictatorship of a force of order.

Despite all objections, it was therefore a real political act by Wilson when he implemented the draft of the federal pact to be included in the peace terms themselves (April 28, 1919). He thereby bound the Great Powers to carry out this part of the peace treaty as well, while they were still roughly in agreement. Here no empty space was to be found; no one but the victors of the world war could carry out the confederation idea, and it had to be done at once. Wilson’s effort here is therefore—all glaring weaknesses notwithstanding—a stroke of genius at the right moment; and to the many sceptics there is only to say: without this we would have returned again to the policy of alliance and equilibrium and the armed peace. That America fell apart under Wilson and weakened his influence only shows that selfishness and narrow-mindedness are still viable. If America isolates itself from this burgeoning international legal order, it means that we will have at least one more world war before the urge for peaceful coexistence is given way by selfish predatory interests.

Furthermore, the details of the Federal Pact are not to be discussed here. Its shortcomings are clearly related to the fact that agreement even on the most elementary legal concepts could not be assumed. A real legal union between the peoples cannot of course be created until the peoples have acquired a more or less uniform political sense of justice. The development of the sense of justice must be reflected within the individual states themselves, before coexistence between peoples can be fully characterized by it. The guarantee of peace and mutual fair treatment may therefore at present be weak enough; here the individual state must take the lead and show the world its example. Until then, an intergovernmental organization cannot be dispensed with if what one wants in the first place is the abolition of war.

Regarding the individual states’ adherence to this federation, it probably only partly has a voluntary character. For smaller states like Denmark, however, accession will almost certainly rest on the consideration that the increased security means more than the necessary loss of sovereignty. For a state governed by the rule of law, it will be crucial that this association, with all its weaknesses, is the first step towards an international legal order, which the individual state in question can then penetrate with its ideas.

It is important for the smaller states that have joined the League to become fully clear about their future position in times of peace. Some of them have had difficulty understanding that a concept such as neutrality in general is incompatible with the federal idea*). This implies that all wars in which the confederation participates are acts of law enforcement (even if the confederation has not yet developed such a system of legal rules that the relationship can be fully equated with the punishment of the individual state). Joining a federation whose intent is law enforcement while declaring itself neutral is quite illogical. However, when you have to participate in boycotts and interruption of economic intercourse, you cannot be said to be neutral. Although the small states were only forced into economic (not military) action against the enemies of the confederation, this cannot be accomplished without military means; the dangers that an economic action can entail alone will justify a certain military preparedness. This was established clearly enough by Denmark’s untimely attempt to achieve permanent neutrality. Other unworthy proposals from Denmark’s side aimed at getting out of the obligations as easily as possible, e.g. from the right of passage through the relevant state for the confederation’s armies and navies—which Switzerland also seeks to avoid—had to be rejected as inconsistent.

Another question, the most important for the small states, concerns the extent of the individual state’s obligation to participate in the confederation’s armed coercive measures or even to a certain minimum of armour. There is a great deal of vagueness on this point which the party fanatics can successfully exploit. Nothing is said about how the council is to distribute the military burden; there is no framework for such a military force, not even an international general staff, and the council can only recommend to the states with “which military forces, which forces on the water and in the air the members of the union must each contribute to the armed forces that must be used to protect those who have signed the federal agreement.” But there can be no doubt for the time being that they must participate, that the contracting parties must protect all the powers. In art. 10 it is stated that the parties shall protect all members of the league against attack from outside; and when it was proposed from the Danish side that the states which had voted against the use of coercive measures in the delegate assembly should not be obliged to participate in the use of military coercive measures, this proposal did not gain recognition[3].

The Federal Pact’s provision that the individual states must limit their armaments to the minimum that is compatible with national security and the fulfilment of international obligations can be fully acceded to by any rule of law. A plan for this reduction is promised, and that proposals will be submitted to the various governments for consideration as to which target is appropriate for the country concerned. When the plan has been adopted by the various States, the limits of the armaments fixed therein shall not be exceeded without the consent of the Council. But within the limits that the promised plans will draw, the individual state will then have full freedom to estimate what the two considerations mentioned require. Whether a state can freely reduce its armour independently of the council’s plans remains uncertain, says P. Schou[4].

Just as the individual citizen in a state governed by the rule of law has the right to be protected internally in the possession of his rightful property and his personal interests by the best possible judicial system, so he is entitled to demand that the state power afford him such strong protection against external abuses, from neighbouring people’s side, as conditions permit. A rule of law does not, in principle, recognize any difference between domestic and foreign criminals. And the citizen wants justice to be asserted in both cases; then reads his “social contract” with state power.

Those who profess legal morality will never be able to derive from it motives for self-abandonment. On the contrary. A right denotes an area which belongs to the individual. It would run counter to the very concept of property rights if one were to adopt the dogma that it is a duty to hand over one’s property as soon as a neighbour requests it with a club in hand. Property rights inextricably include the right to protect the owned area. And defences must always be arranged according to the nature of the attack; a language battle can be fought with spiritual weapons, but in the face of shrapnel you cannot rely on culture. The cathedral in Rheims had to be blessed by the mortars of the Austrians.

The justification of the rule of law for its position of power vis-à-vis the citizens rests on its obligation to be the individual’s legal guardian. If this condition fails against criminals in the interior, e.g. with soft leniency, “humane punishments”, self-rape, lynching etc. occur, that is to say, you deprive the state power of its mandate to change the law and take over it yourself in this case. If it fails, when it comes to foreign perpetrators, the automatic consequence is that a free corps, perhaps a border corps, takes over the task failed by the state. But it is not compatible with the authority of a rule of law that anarchy occurs in these areas.

The question of what is the use of fighting for one’s right does not arise at all for the man who has real love for the right. And legal ethics, in any case, cannot be primarily interested in this question, because it has no higher value to show back to than the law. For the individual, this value can become higher than life, but also for a people that must be mature to uphold a rule of law, justice and honour will emerge as values that require that existence itself be dared. What will become of the utility? However, the gentle Christian teaching itself claims that the authorities must not carry their sword in vain, and who will go to court with the great artists when they—from Giotto to our days—give the goddess of justice a sword in one hand?

It in no way follows from the natural task of the rule of law to maintain adequate legal protection, which can also defend abuses at the borders, that the state is entitled to make unlimited demands on citizens or to demand their personal participation. What name such a guardianship should bear is a rather subordinate matter. They have set up an absolute contrast between military defence and law enforcement and proposed to replace the army and navy with a gendarmerie (with officers and non-commissioned officers) at DKK 23 million. per year, (which must of course replace the police). There can be no question here of anything other than a difference of degree; and since the aforementioned gendarmerie presupposes a world court and international conditions, which are still distant ideals, the development from military to civil law enforcement can hardly be many horse’s heads ahead of international legal conditions. Because if the protection of border interests is to be more than a task on paper in the program of the rule of law, it must at all times conform to the likely nature of the attack. The extent to which the democratic concept of freedom has become a cover for ruthless despotism towards the individual is nowhere more glaring than when you consider the so-called general conscription and its consequences. Precisely only democracies that set up the false doctrine that freedom consists in the individual being powerless to make his person and everything available to the interests of the state (or rather the majority) could create the millions of armies with which the bloody drama of the world war is played out. A state governed by the rule of law cannot make such demands: when the individual citizen does not enjoy any advantage in society for which he does not pay, and when he does not commit any aggression against the legitimate interests of others, he has no further relationship with the state. In particular, the state has no power to demand positive favours, let alone personal favours, from him. What was it supposed to support such claims? A man’s labour power, his time, his endowment, his body and soul are values that no one but himself has at his disposal.

In principle, the rule of law must thus reject any form of conscription or forced military discharge. In general, one must reject the idea that the state should have the right to force citizens into any public office. The personnel or manpower it needs to carry out its necessary functions in the interior as external law enforcement, it must seek to acquire by offering a remuneration large enough to obtain sufficient access through a fully voluntary route. Should the urge arise for the formation of voluntary forces, who would offer their personal service to the country for further assurance, the state would have no right to refuse this, provided they submitted altogether to the authority of the state power and conformed to its plans.

If the external judiciary is to become a matter the people can embrace with as much interest and understanding as the internal, it is necessary that the foreign affairs be dealt with as openly as the domestic.

The first step must be to get away from the mysterious secrecy which clings to diplomacy, and which a certain superstition of its necessity still maintains. The foreign administration must not be a state within the state; it is necessary to ensure that diplomacy does not hide its actions; the representatives of the people must be held accountable for every important international step; otherwise there is a risk that it will become a tool for special interests, e.g. for a clique of financiers or for a self-willed government that will ward off internal difficulties by challenging outward steps.

We have thought above that we should take into account the conditions that a state that strives to transform into a rule of law will have to reckon with from the outside for a long time to come. Only within its own borders does it have the authority to consistently carry out this transformation, and it cannot thereby disregard its surroundings, but neither can it defend abandoning its plans until the surroundings have reached the same legal level.

However, interest must still be attached to the obstacles that arise in the wider world for a lasting, peaceful intercourse between peoples. One must be aware that even if the desire for lasting peace and order has been strong enough with the powers that created the federal pact, even if they have cleared some obstacles out of the way by here and there drawing the national border more in line with the national relationship, even if the right to self-determination has been allowed to prevail in some places, one of the most important hotbeds of unrest has been bypassed, as long as the basic economic issues have not been touched upon.

If you study a current such as imperialism, you will find that it has its economic root in the striving of certain industrial and financial circles to conquer the market for their surplus of goods and capital at the expense of the public. The Swedish author Johan Hansson demonstrates[5] that economic mismanagement is the main cause of the wars: “we observe how a land law has been implemented, whereby large parts of the rural population have lost all footing and have been transformed into propertyless proletarians; we see how the general public everywhere has recklessly given up its natural values—to make room for domestic and foreign private capitalist exploitation; we will see how … instead of land taxes, indirect taxation has been introduced, customs taxes especially on the necessities of life of the less well-off population. At the same time, the ever-advancing mechanical engineering has increased the productive capacity of the civilized world to an extraordinary degree. The consequence has quite naturally become this glaring contradiction in the cultural states: on the one hand a large overproduction, especially of industrial products, on the other hand a gaping under-consumption.”

Customs legislation further exacerbates the situation by, among other things, maintaining national monopolies. If these international barriers disappeared and compensation was not taken from the produce of labour through direct taxes but from the land monopoly, this would bring about an internal colonization; they wanted to open up the land to small holdings and thereby dampen the uncontrollable urge of the states to expand and race for colonies. A tribe of virtually tax-free small farmers would emerge who would be able to siphon off industry’s surplus of goods.

As far as colonial rule is concerned, the older system was almost all about seizing a piece of land and squeezing as much as possible out of it. The colony was simply regarded as state property, all of which the mother country was to have the greatest possible pecuniary advantage. Nowadays, at least in India, there has been a big change in this. The Indian taxes are applied in the country itself; moreover, the property rights of the Indian nation in its land are as fully respected as in England.

What causes the eternal unrest and jealousy between the powers that be and the restraint of the market, the monopolization of companies, offices, etc., in short conditions that quite naturally feel like wrongs by the powers that, by force of circumstances, have come last.

It will hardly be possible to eradicate this constant danger to the peace until the powers find a common point of view in the rule of law, defended everywhere in this writing, that seizure does not create property rights. The person who defends his possession by invoking “the right of the first to arrive” has no valid moral argument against the “right of conquest”. There is no ethical right of ownership to the land of foreign peoples at all, if one does not base the hypocritical interpretation of utilitarianism on the basis that the takeover is for the sake of the cultural development of the natives.

For a future legal system, two options seem open: 1) Either maintaining the status quo as far as formal possession is concerned, on the condition that the colonies’ sources of wealth are not monopolized, that the free market is fully respected, and that local self-government is granted to the natives, where these were ripe for that. 2) Or that the entire colonial world was placed under a common international rule and administration. (See a proposal for this in the Swedish journal Rättsstaten 1915 by Johan Hansson). It then had to be established as a principle that all nations were given equal rights to conduct trade and industry, etc. Complete international economic freedom should prevail, including full free trade. This was something that Wilson (and Smuts) envisioned for the territories liberated by the conclusion of the peace, although the population concerned could itself choose a “mandate power”, to which the confederation of nations would then transfer guardianship. But that’s not how it happened. The distribution of mandate powers was carried out by the Supreme Council, and the plan was only poorly executed. A step in the right direction, however, was that the pact states that the mandate powers must assure other members of the association equal access to trade and business operations. The solution of the great colonial problem that Wilson had in mind, a colonial policy that removed the old rivalry between the powers, was not achieved. The guarantees of a liberal economic policy of the Pact are too weak. The colonies will in the future become more and more indispensable for their raw materials, and the continued concentration of colonial possessions with associated monopolizations is dangerous and will sooner or later lead to conflicts. What is primarily required of governments to create a secure basis for peace is agreement on certain general principles: equality for all states in economic competition, free markets, the open door policy and the abolition of all, including national, monopolies on the great natural wealth, recognition of peoples’ right to self-determination and protection for national minorities. “No one can doubt,” says P. Schou[6], “that the whole covenant would have operated with quite a different moral force if it had recognized them (principles such as these) as its fundamental laws – as President Wilson thought himself when he formulated his famous 4 points.” The same applies to financial matters. If you maintain the inherited concepts of the states’ absolute economic sovereignty and of their right to keep out foreign products and reserve all their wealth for their own citizens – then we will have conflicts again. First, a thoroughly new view of all these matters will pave the way for the constant peaceful weight, which cannot be declared in any way, and which neither can a sufficiently strong external authority trump through any bid for power.

[1] “The eternal Peace”.

[2] In Naturlig Ret (Natural Right) (1907) pages 346—347, the presumption is expressed that one will hardly get out of anarchy in the international area until one or more great powers are able to command general peace, and then these will throw themselves into self-appointed judges in the disputes of the smaller states.

[3] That Lord Robert Cecil has “stated” that the small Nordic countries “could assume” that no member of the League of Nations would be forced against his will to take part in military coercive measures against a peace-breaker—is extremely friendly, but humorous as an argument.

[4] P. Schou: League of Nations. Cph. 1921.

[5] Johan Hansson: The war and money’s world struggle. Stockholm 1908.

[6] P. Schou: Listed work.