The Nation greeted the end of World War I, on this day in 1918, with a cry for liberal revolution throughout the world. With the Kaiser dethroned, the editors hoped, the seeds of the French Revolution might finally begin to blossom and spread.
A humiliating armistice signed on the enemy’s terms, the Kaiser fallen, the throne lost to the Hohenzollern, Germany crashing to pieces in violent revolution—thus ends the war which has convulsed the world. The mills of the gods have ground exceeding small, albeit at terrible cost, and all too slowly since the pistol shot at Sarajevo which destroyed empires, created new nations and began what may prove to be the overturning of our whole social and economic systems.…
For if the mills of the gods have caught and crushed the Hohenzollerns and Hapsburgs and the Kings of Bavaria and Bulgaria and what not, they have still much crushing to do. Every remaining king, whether well-meaning figure-head or despot, should and must go.… We hope and trust that the spirit of revolution abroad will not die until all the makers of secret treaties are cast out, and with them, as among the worst enemies of mankind, the armament-manufacturers.… We desire no end to revolution abroad until customs-houses everywhere have gone by the board. We wish no end to democratic ferment in Europe until the professional diplomat of the past has been ground flat, and with him those alleged statesmen who believe that the backward or sparsely-inhabited spaces of the earth exist only to be exploited. We wish no end to the revolution until there shall no longer be talk of developing hinterlander, spheres of influence, and colonies, but of some means of holding them in trust by joint international agreement for the benefit of those to whom the soil rightfully belongs.… We wish no limit to the spread of liberalism until the vicious doctrine that a country shall protect by the force of arms its citizens who invest abroad shall be forever discarded…. To-day, however, everybody must rejoice without stint that the last of the German Kaisers has gone.… Under our very eyes is dying the greatest of modern empires, in some respects the greatest nation of our times. May it be the last of the empires! And out of its bitter anguish and travail may there arise in the future, without foreign interference, a new, an honest, and a glorious democratic State to help point the way toward the goal of all mankind, liberty, fraternity, equality!
To mark The Nation’s 150th anniversary, every morning this year The Almanac will highlight something that happened that day in history and how The Nation covered it. Get The Almanac every day (or every week) by signing up to the e-mail newsletter.