Section 45 [The Foundations of Culture in Australia, by P. R. Stephensen, 1936]

[Editor: This is a chapter from The Foundations of Culture in Australia (1936) by P. R. Stephensen.]

§ 45

Bloodstained Europe

Europe is the world’s storm-centre of war-danger. With an area not much greater than that of the continent of Australia, Europe is divided into approximately thirty nations, speaking different languages, under different political systems, and with conflicting economic interests. Europe’s history for two thousand years has been blood-soaked: in two thousand years Europe has not yet learned that wars are futile as a method of settling international disputes. Europe is the world’s cockpit and bearpit, the bloodiest and dirtiest continent in the world, the continent which, after two thousand years of “civilisation,” produces types such as Mussolini, Hitler, Hoare, Laval and Zaharoff!

Europe is war-crazed and power-crazed. European nations provide the only real danger to world-peace to-day. Europe is peaceless, a hotbed of intrigue and threat. Europe, as seen from a telescope from America, or from Australia, is a den of cutthroats, thieves, and barbarians. It seems doubtful whether Europe has really learned anything from the war of 1914-18, except the need for “revenge” — a lesson continued in serial instalments from the Franco-Prussian War, the Napoleonic War, the Thirty Years’ War, the Hundred Years’ War, the Crusades, and Caesar’s Gallic Wars.

Fed upon European history and “culture,” the Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and South Africans participated in the “Great” War of 1914-18, as though the quarrel really concerned them. In August, 1914, one day before Britain declared war on Germany, the Prime Minister of Australia, who was a Scotsman, sent a cable to the British Government offering, in the event of war, to despatch an expeditionary force of 20,000 men “to any destination desired by the Home Government, the force to be at the complete disposal of the Home Government.”

The result of this magnificent spontaneous offer was, as the world knows, that the Anzacs were placed “at the complete disposal” of that imaginative English politician, Mr. Winston Churchill, for the purposes of his phantasmagorical attack upon Gallipoli. Subsequently it has been revealed (by Mr. Hugh Dalton, in a speech in the House of Commons) that the weapons and ammunition which shot down on Gallipoli “The morning glory that was the flower of the young nations of Australia and New Zealand,” had been supplied to the Turkish Army by Vickers-Armstrong, an English concern!

The offer of 20,000 men from Australia increased, as the European War was prolonged, to an actual despatch of almost 400,000 men, the culling of the very finest sires from this under-populated nation, in a sincere belief that that European War was going to be “the War to end Wars.”

The result, twenty years later, is that Europe is once again on the “brink” of another of its devastating depopulating adventures. Do the European statesmen, including the English statesmen, seriously believe that the young non-European nations will a second time join in a European shambles if called upon to do so?

P. R. Stephensen, The Foundations of Culture in Australia, W. J. Miles, Gordon (N.S.W.), 1936, pages 155-156

Editor’s notes:
phantasmagorical = something that is bizarre, fantastic, unbelievable; a sequence of amazing images, such as something dreamt or imagined (especially used to refer to optical illusions, such as those created by “magic lantern” in the 1800s)

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