The Great Illusion
The Great Illusion is a book by Norman Angell, first published in the United Kingdom in 1909 under the title Europe's Optical Illusion and republished in 1910 and subsequently in various enlarged and revised editions under the title The Great Illusion.
In this book, Angell argued that war between industrial countries was futile because conquest did not pay. J.D.B. Miller writes: "The 'Great Illusion' was that nations gained by armed confrontation, militarism, war, or conquest." The economic interdependence between industrial countries meant that war would be economically harmful to all the countries involved. Moreover, if a conquering power confiscated property in the territory it seized, "the incentive to produce [of the local population] would be sapped and the conquered area be rendered worthless. Thus, the conquering power had to leave property in the hands of the local population while incurring the costs of conquest and occupation."
It is sometimes said that the outbreak of World War I disproved Angell's argument in The Great Illusion, but Angell had not maintained that a war was impossible, rather that it would be futile. Although some aspects of Angell's argument have dated, his discussion of economic interdependence "was important and innovative."
- Grand Illusion (1937), classic French film whose title was inspired by the book
- Miller (1995), p.105.
- Miller (1985) p.120 n.9.
- Miller (1985), p.106.
- Miller, J. D. B. "Norman Angell and Rationality in International Relations," in D. Long and P. Wilson, eds., Thinkers of the Twenty Years' Crisis (1995)
- Miller, J. D. B. Norman Angell and the Futility of War (1986).
- Liberman, Peter. Does Conquest Pay? (1996).