Abstract: Keith Grieves „A future too awful to contemplate: Old Liberals, landscape preservationism and local patriotism in England in 1917“
Liberals outside Lloyd George’s government who favoured a negotiated peace in the autumn months of 1917 concluded that England would be ruined by another year of war. They asked whether there should be limits to the mobilisation of manpower and material by the warfare state? In advance of Lord Lansdowne’s peace letter they suggested that the War Cabinet would destroy every liberal tenet for which the war was fought, including beauty, taste and history. Some Liberal activists demonstrated profound insights into the realities of ‘all out’ war by searching for the limits of mobilisation. For example, during timber extraction arguments arose for the defence of picturesque woodland. In a variegated Blighty, where place-related identity still mattered, a liberal critique of the ‘wanton prolongation of war’ crystallised during the third Ypres offensive. This affective dimension of peace through negotiation has been neglected in the historiography of the Great War. On their way to political oblivion, Old Liberals arguments for peace were sometimes were rooted in the cultural and aesthetic domains of local and national life.