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This essay is published in the summer issue of New Humanist.

The nations of the world, claimed Lord Salisbury in a speech to the Primrose League at the Albert Hall in 1898, were divided into the ‘living’ and the ‘dying’. The ‘living’ were the ‘white’ nations – the European powers, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The ‘dying’ comprised the rest of the world. ‘The living nations’, Salisbury claimed, ‘will gradually encroach on the territory of the dying’ and from this ‘the seeds and causes of conflict among civilized nations will speedily appear’. The partition of the globe ‘may introduce causes of fatal difference between the great nations whose mighty armies stand opposed threatening each other’.

Less than twenty years after Salisbury gave his speech, the mighty armies of the great nations did indeed stand opposed threatening each other, and bringing calamity upon a generation. Virtually from the…

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