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Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets by Lila Rajiva, Will Bonner

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Waffling about Belgium

The first lie was that poor, innocent Belgium—practically a virgin in matters of foreign policy—was a neutral country. But, although Belgium had no public alliances with France or Britain, privately she had a deal with them that put her squarely in the Anglo‐French camp. So, when Germany asked for safe passage for her troops through Belgium and the latter refused, the London thought police saw their chance. Belgium was no more democratic than Germany was. Both had kings and elected assemblies jockeying for power. In the Belgian parliament, the wealthy had three times the voting power of other parts of the population, almost as they did in Prussia. Yet, British propaganda succeeded in branding the Germans as autocratic militarists and the Belgians as democratic peaceniks.

For the British to be calling anyone a militarist was an exercise in breathtaking chutzpah. The British Empire controlled more of the world through force of arms than any other government. Its navy ruled the seas. Its armies—including various colonial forces such as the famous Gurkhas—were garrisoned all over the planet. As for democracy, even at home many low‐class British subjects did not have the right to vote.

The second lie was that poor little Belgium was being “raped” by the evil Huns. Here, too, the propagandists had their work cut out for them since Belgium had a rap sheet of her own. Leopold II, former king of Belgium, was perhaps the worst of the colonialists in Africa. In the ...

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