We are all socialists nowadays, said Sir William Harcourt years ago, and that is loosely true to-day. There can be few people who fail to realize the provisional nature and the dangerous instability of our present political and economic system, and still fewer who believe with the doctrinaire individualists that profit-hunting «go as you please» will guide mankind to any haven of prosperity and happiness. Great rearrangements are necessary, and a systematic legal subordination of personal self-seeking to the public good. So far most reasonable men are socialists. But these are only preliminary propositions. How far has socialism and modern thought generally gone towards working out the conception of this new political and social order, of which our world admittedly stands in need? We are obliged to answer that there is no clear conception of the new state towards which we vaguely struggle, that our science of human relationships is still so crude and speculative as to leave us without definite guidance upon a score of primarily important issues. In 1920 we are no more in a position to set up a scientifically conceived political system in the world than were men to set up an electric power station in 1820. They could not have done that then to save their lives.
The Marxist system points us to an accumulation of revolutionary forces in the modern world. These forces will continually tend towards revolution. But Marx assumed too hastily that a revolutionary impulse would necessarily produce an ordered state of a new and better kind. A revolution may stop half-way in mere destruction. No socialist sect; has yet defined its protected government clearly; the Bolsheviks in their Russian experiment seem to have been guided by a phrase, the dictatorship of the proletariat, and in practice, we are told, Trotsky and Lenin have proved as autocratic as the less intelligent but equally well-meaning Tsar, Alexander I. We have been at some pains to show from our brief study of the French revolution that a revolution can establish nothing permanent that has not already been thought out beforehand and apprehended by the general mind. The French republic, confronted with unexpected difficulties in economics, currency, and international relationships, collapsed to the egotisms of the newly rich people of the Directory, and finally to the egotism of Napoleon. Law and a plan, steadily upheld, are more necessary in revolutionary times than in ordinary humdrum times, because in revolutionary times society degenerates much more readily into a mere scramble under the ascendancy of the forcible and cunning.
If in general terms we take stock of the political and social science of our age, we shall measure something of the preliminary intellectual task still to be done by mankind before we can hope to see any permanent constructive achievements emerging from the mere traditionalism and adventuring that rule our collective affairs to-day. This Socialism, which professes to be a complete theory of a new social order, we discover, when we look into it, to be no more than a partial theory – very illuminating, so far as it goes – about property. We have already discussed the relationship of social development to the restriction of the idea of property. There are various schools of thought which would restrict property more or less completely. Communism is the proposal to abolish property altogether, or, in other words, to hold all things in common. Modern Socialism, on the other hand – or, to give it a more precise name, «Collectivism»—does clearly distinguish between personal property and collective property. The gist of the socialist proposal is that land and all the natural means of production, transit, and distribution should be collectively owned. Within these limits there is to be much free private ownership and unrestricted personal freedom. Given efficient administration, it may be doubted whether many people nowadays would dispute that proposal. But socialism has never gone on to a thorough examination of that proviso for efficient administration.
Again, what community is it that is to own the collective property; is it to be the sovereign or the township or the county or the nation or mankind? Socialism makes no clear answer. Socialists are very free with the word «nationalize», but we have been subjecting the ideas of «nations» and «nationalism» to some destructive criticism in this Outline. If socialists object to a single individual claiming a mine or a great stretch of agricultural land as his own individual property, with a right to refuse or barter its use and profit to others, why should they permit a single nation to monopolize the mines or trade routes or natural wealth of the territories in which it lives, against the rest of mankind? There seems to be great confusion in socialist theory in this matter. And unless human life is to become a mass meeting of the race in permanent session, how is the community to appoint its officers to carry on its collective concerns? After all, the private owner of land or of a business or the like is a sort of public official in so far as his ownership is sanctioned and protected by the community. Instead of being paid a salary or fees, he is allowed to make a profit. The only valid reason for dismissing him from his ownership is that the new control to be substituted will be more efficient and profitable and satisfactory to the community. And, being dismissed, he has at least the same claim to consideration from the community that he himself has shown in the past to the worker thrown out of employment by a mechanical invention.
This question of administration, the sound and adequate bar to much immediate socialization, brings us to the still largely unsolved problem of human association; how are we to secure the best direction of human affairs and the maximum of willing co-operation with that direction? This is ultimately a complex problem in psychology, but it is absurd to pretend that it is an insoluble one. There must be a definite best, which is the right thing, in these matters. But if it is not insoluble, it is equally unreasonable to pretend that it has been solved. The problem in its completeness involves the working out of the best methods in the following departments, and their complete correlation.
Education – The preparation of the individual for an understanding and willing co-operation in the world’s affairs.
Information – The continual truthful presentation of public affairs to the individual for his judgment and approval. Closely connected with this need for current information is the cod i fication of the law, the problem of keeping the law plain, clear, and accessible to all.
Representation – The selection of representatives and agents, to act in the collective interest in harmony with the general will be based on this education and plain information.
The Executive – The appointment of executive agents and the maintenance of means for keeping them responsible to the community, without at the same time hampering intelligent initiatives.
Thought and Research – The systematic criticism of affairs and laws to provide data for popular judgments, and through those judgments to ensure the secular improvement of the human organization.
These are the five heads under which the broad problem of human society presents itself to us. In the world around us we see makeshift devices at work in all those branches, ill coordinated one with another and unsatisfactory in themselves. We see an educational system meanly financed and equipped, badly organized and crippled by the interventions and hostilities of religious bodies; we see popular information supplied chieflyby a venal press dependant upon advertisements and subsidies; we see farcical methods of election, returning politicians to power as unrepresentative as any hereditary ruler or casual conqueror; everywhere the executive is more or less influenced or controlled by groups of rich adventurers, and the pursuit of political and social science and of public criticism is still the work of devoted and eccentric individuals rather than a recognized and honoured function in the state. There is a gigantic task before right-thinking men in the cleansing and sweetening of the politician’s stable; and until it is done, any complete realization, of socialism is impossible. While private adventurers control the political life of the state, it is ridiculous to think of the state taking over collective economic interests from private adventurers.
Not only has the socialist movement failed thus far to produce a scientifically reasoned scheme for the correlation of education, law, and the exercise of public power, but even in the economic field, as we have already pointed out, creative forces wait for the conception of a right organization of credit and a right method of payment and interchange. It is a truism that the willingness of the worker depends, among other things, upon his complete confidence in. the purchasing power of the currency in which he is paid. As this confidence goes, work ceases, except in so far as it can be rewarded by payment in goods. But there is no sufficient science of currency and business psychology to restrain governments from the most disturbing interferences with the public credit and with the circulation. And such interferences lead straight to the cessation of work, that is, of the production of necessary things. Upon such vital practical questions it is scarcely too much to say that the mass of those socialists who would recast the world have no definite ideas at all. Yet in a socialist world quite as much as in any other sort of world, people must be paid money for their work rather than be paid in kind if any such thing as personal freedom is to continue. Here, too, there must be an ascertainable right thing to do. Until that is determined, history in these matters will continue to be not so much a record of experiments as of flounderings.
And in another direction the social and political thinking of the nineteenth century was, in the face of the vastness of the mechanical revolution, timid, limited, and insufficient and that was in regard to international relations. The reader of socialistic literature will find the socialists constantly writing and talking of the «State», and never betraying any realization that the «State» might be all sorts of organizations in all sorts of areas, from the republic of Sari Marino to the British Empire. It is true that Karl Marx had a conception of a solidarity of interests between the workers in all the industrialized countries, but there is little or no suggestion in Marxist socialism of the logical corollary of this, the establishment of a democratic world federal government (with national or provincial «state» governments) as a natural consequence of his projected social revolution. At most there is a vague aspiration. But if there is any logic about the Marxist, it should be his declared political end for which he should work without ceasing. Put to the test of the war of 1914, the socialists of almost all the European countries showed that their class-conscious internationalism was veneered very thinly indeed over their patriotic feelings, and had to no degree replaced them. Everywhere during the German war socialists denounced that war as made by capitalist governments, but it produces little or no permanent effect to denounce a government or a world system unless you have a working idea of a better government and a better system to replace it.
We state these things here because they are facts, and a living and necessary part of a contemporary survey of human history. It is not our task either to advocate or controvert socialism. But it is in our picture to note that political and social life are, and must remain, chaotic and disastrous without the development of some such constructive scheme as socialisms ketches and to point out clearly how far away the world is at present from any such scheme. An enormous amount of intellectual toil and discussion and education and many years – whether decades or centuries, no man can tell – must intervene before a new order, planned as ships and railways are planned, runs, as the cables and the postal deliveries run, over the whole surface of our earth. And until such a new order draws mankind together with its net, human life, as we shall presently show by the story of the European wars since 1854, must become more and more casual, dangerous, miserable, anxious, and disastrous because of the continually more powerful and destructive war methods the continuing mechanical revolution produces.
While the mechanical revolution which the growth of physical science had brought about was destroying the ancient social classification of the civilized state which had been evolved through thousands of years, and producing new possibilities and new ideals of a righteous human community and a righteous world order, a change at least as great and novel was going on in the field of religious thought. That same growth of scientific knowledge from which sprang the mechanical revolution was the moving cause of these religious disturbances.
In the opening chapters of this Outline we have given the main story of the Record of the Rocks; we have shown life for the little beginning of consciousness, that it is in the still waiting vastness of the void of space and time. But before the end of the eighteenth century, this enormous prospect of the past, which fills a modern mind with humility and illimitable hope was hidden from the general consciousness of our race. It was veiled by the curtain of a Sumerian legend. The heavens were no more than a stage background to a little drama of kings. Men had been too occupied with their own private passions and personal affairs to heed, the intimations of their own great destiny that lay about them everywhere.
They learnt their true position in space long before they placed themselves in time. We have already named the earlier astronomers, and told how Galileo was made to recant his assertion that the earth moved round the sun. He was made to do so by the church, and the church was stirred to make him do so because any doubt that the world was the centre of the universe seemed to strike fatally at the authority of Christianity.
Now, upon that matter the teller of modern history is obliged to be at once cautious and bold. He has to pick his way between cowardly evasion on the one hand, and partisanship on the other. As far as possible he must confine himself to facts and restrain his opinions. Yet it is well to remember that; no opinions can be altogether restrained. The writer has his own very strong and definite persuasions, and the reader must bear that in mind. It is a fact in history that the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth had in it something profoundly new and creative; he preached a new Kingdom of Heaven in the hearts and in the world of men. There was nothing in his teaching, so far as we can judge it at this distance of time, to clash or interfere with any discovery or expansion of the history of the world and mankind. But it is equally a fact in history that St. Paul and his successors, added to or completed or imposed upon or substituted another doctrine for – as you may prefer to think – the plain and profoundly revolutionary teachings of Jesus by expounding a subtle and complex theory of salvation, a salvation which could be attained very largely by belief and formalities without any serious disturbance of the believer’s ordinary habits and occupations, and that this Pauline teaching did involve very definite beliefs about the history of the world and man. It is not the business of the historian to controvert or explain these matters; the question of their ultimate significance depends upon the theologian; the historian’s concern is merely with the fact that official Christianity throughout the world adopted St. Paul’s view so plainly expressed in his epis tles and so untraceable in the gospels, that the meaning of religion lay not in the future, but in the past, and that Jesus was not so much a teacher of wonderful new things, as a predestinate divine blood sacrifice of deep mystery and sacredness made in atonement of a particular historical act of disobedience to the Creator committed by our first parents, Adam and Eve, in response to the temptation of a serpent in the Garden of. Eden. Upon the belief in that Fall as a fact, and not upon the personality of Jesus of Nazareth, upon the theories of Paul, and not upon the injunctions of Jesus, doctrinal Christianity built itself.
We have already noted that this story of the special creation of the world and of Adam and Eve and the serpent was also an ancient Babylonian story, and probably a still more ancient Sumerian story, and that the Jewish sacred books were the medium by which this very ancient and primitive «heliolithic» serpent legend entered Christianity. Wherever official Christianity has gone, it has taken this story with it. It has tied itself up to that story. Until a century and less ago the whole Christianized world felt bound to believe and did believe, that the universe had been specially created in the course of six days by the word of God a few thousand years before – according to Bishop Ussher, 4004 B.C. (The Universal History, in forty-two volumes, published in 1779 by a group of London booksellers, discusses whether the precise date of the first day of Creation was March 21st or September 21st, 4004 B.C. and inclines to the view that the latter was the more probable season.)
Upon this historical assumption rested the religious fabric of the Western and Westernized civilization, and yet the whole world was littered, the hills, mountains, deltas, and seas were bursting with evidence of its utter absurdity. The religious life of the leading nations, still a very intense and sincere religious life was going on in a house of history built upon sand.
There is frequent recognition in classical literature of a sounder cosmogony. Aristotle was aware of the broad principles of modern geology, they shine through the speculations of Lucretius and we have noted also Leonardo da Vinci’s (1452–1519) lucid interpretation of fossils. A Frenchman, Descartes (1596 – 1650), speculated boldly upon the incandescent beginnings of our globe, and a Dane, Steno (1631 – 87), began the collection of fossils and the description of strata. But it was only as the eighteenth century drew to its close that the systematic study of geology assumed such proportions as to affect the general authority of the Bible version of that ancient Sumerian narrative. Contemporaneously with the Universal History quoted above, a great French naturalist, Buffon, was writing upon the Epochs of Nature (1778), and boldly extending the age of the world to 70,000 or 75,000 years. He divided his story into six epochs to square with the six plays of the Creation story. These days, it was argued, were figurative days; they were really ages. There was a general disposition to do this on the part of the new science of geology. By that accommodating device, geology contrived to make a peace with orthodox religious teaching that lasted until the middle of the nineteenth century.
We cannot trace here the contributions of such men as Hutton and Playfair and Sir Charles Lyell, and the Frenchmen Lamarck and Cuvier, in unfolding and developing the record of the rocks. It was only slowly that the general intelligence of the Western world was awakened to two disconcerting facts: firstly, that the succession of life in the geological record did not correspond to the acts of the six days of creation; and, secondly, that the record, in harmony with a mass of biological facts, pointed away from the Bible assertion of a separate creation of each species straight towards a genetic relation between all forms of life, in which even man was included! The importance of this last issue to the existing doctrinal system was manifest. If all the animals and man had been evolved in this ascendant manner, then there had been no first parents, no Eden, and no fall. And if there had been no fall, then the entire historical fabric of Christianity, the story of the first sin and the reason for an atonement, upon which the current teaching based Christian emotion and morality, collapsed like a house of cards.
It was with something like horror, therefore, that great numbers of honest and religious-spirited men followed the work of the English naturalist, Charles Darwin (1809–82); in 1859 he published his Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, a powerful and permanently valuable exposition of that conception of the change and development of species which we have sketched briefly in Chapter III; and in 1871 he completed the outline of his work with the Descent of Man, which brought man definitely into the same scheme of development with the rest of life.
Many men and women are still living who can remember the dismay and distress among ordinary intelligent people in the Western communities as the invincible case of the biologists and geologists against the orthodox Christian cosmogony unfolded itself. The minds of many resisted the new knowledge instinctively and irrationally. Their whole moral edifice was built upon false history; they were too old and set to rebuild it; they felt the practical truth of their moral convictions, and this new truth seemed to them to be incompatible with that. They believed that to assent to it would be to prepare a moral collapse for the world. And so they produced a moral collapse by not assenting to it. The universities in England particularly, being primarily clerical in their constitution, resisted the new learning very bitterly. During the seventies and eighties a stormy, controversy raged throughout the civilized world. The quality of the discussions and the fatal ignorance of the church may be gauged by a description in Hackett’s Commonplace Book of a meeting of the British Association in 1860, at which Bishop Wilberforce assailed Huxley, the great champion of the Darwinian views, in this fashion.
Facing «Huxley with a smiling insolence, he begged to know, was it through his grandfather or grandmother that he claimed his descent from a monkey? Huxley turned to his neighbour, and said, ‘The Lord hath delivered him into my hands.’ Then he stood before us and spoke these tremendous words, ‘He was not ashamed to have a monkey for his ancestor; but he would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used great gifts to obscure the truth.’ «(Another version has it: «I have certainly said that a man has no reason to be ashamed of having an ape for his grandfather. If there were an ancestor whom I should feel ashamed in recalling, it would rather be a man of restless and versatile intellect, who plunges into scientific questions with which he has no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by an aimless rhetoric and distract the attention of his audience from the real point at issue by eloquent digressions and skilled appeals to prejudice».) These words were certainly spoken with passion. The scene was one of great excitement. A lady fainted, says Hackett… Such was the temper of this controversy.
The Darwinian movement took formal Christianity unawares, suddenly. Formal Christianity was confronted with a clearly demonstrable error in her theological statements. The Christian theologians were neither wise enough nor mentally nimble enough to accept the new truth, modify their formulae, and insist upon the living and undiminished vitality of the religious reality those formulae had hitherto sufficed to express. For the discovery of man’s descent from sub-human forms does not even remotely touch the teaching of the Kingdom of Heaven. Yet priests and bishops raged at Darwin; foolish attempts were made to suppress Darwinian literature and to insult and discredit the exponents of the new views. There was much wild talk of the «antagonism» of religion and science. Now in all ages there have been skeptics in Christendom. The Emperor Frederick II was certainly a skeptic; in the eighteenth century Gibbon and Voltaire were openly anti-Christian, and their writings influenced a number of scattered readers. But these were exceptional people. Now the whole of Christendom became as a whole skeptical. This new controversy touched everybody who read a book or heard intelligent conversation. A new generation of young people grew up, and they found the defenders of Christianity in an evil temper, fighting their cause without dignity or fairness. It was the orthodox theology that the new scientific advances had compromised, but the angry theologians declared that it was religion.
In the end men may discover that religion, shines all the brighter for the loss of its doctrinal wrappings, but to the young it seemed as if indeed there had been a conflict of science and religion, and that in that conflict science had won.
The immediate effect of this great dispute upon the ideas and methods of people in the prosperous and influential classes throughout the westernized world was very detrimental indeed. The new biological science was bringing nothing constructive as yet to replace the old moral stand-bys. A real de-moralization ensued. The general level of social life in those classes was far higher in the early twentieth than in the early seventeenth century, but in one respect, in respect to disinterestedness and conscientiousness in these classes, it is probable that the tone of the earlier age was better than the latter. In the owning and active classes of the seventeenth century, in spite of a few definite «infidels», there was probably a much higher percentage of men and women who prayed sincerely, who searched their souls to find if they had done evil, and who were prepared to suffer and make great sacrifices for what they conceived to be right, than in the opening years of the twentieth century. There was a real loss of faith after 1859. The true gold of religion was in many cases thrown away with the worn-out purse that had contained it for so long, and it was not recovered. Towards the close of the nineteenth century a crude misunderstanding of Darwinism had become the fundamental mindstuff of great masses of the «educated» everywhere. The seventeenth-century kings and owners and rulers and leaders had had the idea at the back of their minds that they prevailed by the will of God; they really feared him, they got priests to put things right for them with him; when they were wicked, they tried not to think of him. But the old faith of the kings, owners and rulers of the opening twentieth century had faded under the actinic light of scientific criticism. Prevalent peoples at the close of the nineteenth century believed that they prevailed by virtue of the Struggle for Existence, in which the strong and cunning get the better of the weak and confiding. And they believed further that they had to be strong, energetic, ruthless, «practical», egotistical, because God was dead, and had always, it seemed, been dead – which was going altogether further than the new knowledge justified.
They soon got beyond the first crude popular misconception of Darwinism, the idea that every man is for himself alone. But they stuck at the next level. Man, they decided, is a social animal like the Indian hunting dog. He is much more than a dog – but this they did not see. And just as in a pack it, is necessary to bully and subdue the younger and weaker for the general good, so it seemed right to them that the big dogs of the human pack should bully and subdue. Hence a new scorn for the ideas of democracy that had ruled the earlier nineteenth century, find a revived admiration for the overbearing and the cruel. It was quite characteristic of the times that Mr. Kipling should lead the children of the middle and upper-class British public back to the Jungle, to learn «the law», and that in his book Stalky and Co. he should give an appreciative description of the torture of two boys by three others, who, have by a subterfuge tied up their victims helplessly before revealing their hostile intentions.
It is worth while to give a little attention to this incident in Stalky and Co., because it lights up the political psychology of the British Empire at the close of the nineteenth century very vividly. The history of the last half century is not to be understood without an understanding of the mental twist which this story exemplifies. The two boys who are tortured are «bullies», that is the excuse of their tormentors, and these latter have further been incited to the orgy by a clergyman. Nothing can restrain the gusto with which they and Mr. Kipling set about the job. Before resorting to torture, the teaching seems to be, see that you pump up a little justifiable moral indignation, and all will be well. If you have the authorities on your side, then you cannot be to blame. Such, apparently, is the simple doctrine of this typical imperialist. But every bully has to the best of his ability followed that doctrine since the human animal developed sufficient intelligence to be consciously cruel.
Another point in the story is very significant indeed. The head master and his clerical assistant are both represented as being privy to the affair. They want this bullying to occur. Instead of exercising their own authority, they use these boys, who are Mr. Kipling’s heroes, to punish the two victims. Head master and clergyman turn a deaf ear to the complaints of an indignant mother. All this Mr. Kipling represents as a most desirable state of affairs. In this we have the key to the ugliest, most retrogressive, and finally fatal idea of modern imperialism; the idea of a tacit conspiracy between the law and illegal violence. Just as the Tsardom wrecked itself at last by a furtive encouragement of the ruffians of the Black Hundreds, who massacred Jews and other people supposed to be inimical to the Tsar, so the good name of the British Imperial Government has been tainted – and is still tainted – by an illegal raid made by Doctor Jameson into the Transvaal before the Boer War, by the adventures which we shall presently describe, of Sir Edward Carson and Mr. F. E. Smith (now Lord Birkenhead), in Ireland and by the tacit connivance of the British government in Ireland, with the «reprisals» undertaken by the loyalists against the perpetrators of Sinn Fein outrages. By such treasons against their subjects, empires destroy themselves. The true strength of rulers and empires lies not in armies and navies, but in the belief of men that they are inflexibly open and truthful and legal. So soon as a government departs from that standard, it ceases to be anything more than «the gang in possession», and its days are numbered.
We have already pointed out that there must be a natural political map of the world which gives the best possible geographical divisions for human administrations. Any other political division of the world than this natural political map will necessarily be a misfit, and must produce stresses of hostility and insurrection tending to shift boundaries in the direction indicated by the natural political map. These would seem to be self-evident propositions were it not that the diplomatists at Vienna evidently neither believed nor understood anything of the sort, and thought themselves as free to carve up the world as one is free to carve up such a boneless structure as a cheese. Nor were these propositions evident to Mr. Gladstone. Most of the upheavals and conflicts that began in Europe as the world recovered from the exhaustion of the Napoleonic wars were, quite obviously attempts of the ordinary common men to get rid of governments that were such misfits as to be in many cases intolerable. Generally the existing governments were misfits throughout Europe because they were not socially representative, and so they were hampering production and wasting human possibilities; but when there were added to these universal annoyances differences of religion and racial culture between rulers and ruled (as in most of Ireland), differences in race and language (as in Austrian North Italy and throughout most of the Austrian Empire), or differences in all these, respects (as in Poland and the Turkish Empire in Europe), the exasperation drove towards bloodshed. Europe was a system of governing machines abominably adjusted. From the stresses of this maladjustment the various «nationalist» movements that played so large a part in the history of the nineteenth century drew their driving force.
What is a nation? What is nationality? If our story of the world has demonstrated anything, it has demonstrated the mingling of races and peoples, the instability of human divisions, the swirling variety of human groups and human ideas, of association. A nation, it has been said, is an accumulation of human beings who think they are one people; but we are told that Ireland is a nation, and Protestant Ulster certainly does not share that idea; and Italy did not think it was one people until long after its unity was accomplished. When the writer was in Italy in 1916, people were saying: «This war will make us one nation». Again, are the English a nation or have they, merged into a «British nationality»? Scotchmen do not seem to believe very much in this British nationality. It cannot be a c ommunity of race or language that constitutes a nation, because the Gaels and the Lowlanders make up the Scotch «nation»; it cannot be a common religion, for England has scores; nor a common literature, or why is Britain separated from the United States, and the Argentine Republic from Spain? We may suggest that a nation is in effect any assembly, mixture, or confusion of people which is either afflicted by or wishes to be afflicted by a foreign office of its own, in order that it should behave collectively as if it alone constituted humanity. We have already traced the development of the Machiavellian monarchies into the rule of their foreign offices, playing the part of «Powers». The «nationality» which dominated the political thought of the nineteenth century is really no more than the romantic and emotional exaggeration of the stresses produced by the discord of the natural political map with unsuitable political arrangements.
Throughout the nineteenth century, and particularly through out its latter half, there has been a great working up of this nationalism in the world. All men are by nature partisans and patriots, but the natural tribalism of men in the nineteenth century was unnaturally exaggerated, it was fretted and over-stimulated and inflamed and forced into the nationalist mould. Nationalism was taught in schools, emphasized by newspapers, preached and mocked and sung into men. Men were brought to feel that they were as improper without a nationality as with out their clothes in a crowded assembly. Oriental peoples who had never heard of nationality before, took to it as they took to the cigarettes and bowler bats of the west. India, a galaxy of contrasted races, religions, and cultures, Dravidian, Mongolian, and Aryan, became a «nation». There were perplexing cases, of course, as when a young Whitechapel Jew had to decide whether he belonged to the British or the Jewish nation.
Caricature and political cartoons played a large part in this elevation of the cult of these newer and bigger tribal gods – for such indeed the modern «nations» are – to their ascendancy over the imagination of the nineteenth century. If one turns over the pages of Punch, that queer contemporary record of the British soul, which has lasted now since 1841, one finds the figures of Britannia, Hibernia, France, and Germania embracing, disputing, reproving, rejoicing, grieving. It greatly helped the diplomatists to carry on their game of Great Powers to convey politics in this form to the doubting general intelligence. To the common man, resentful that his son should be sent abroad to be shot, it was made clear that instead of this being merely the result of the obstinacy and greed of two foreign offices, it was really a necessary part of a righteous inevitable gigantic struggle between two of these dim vast divinities. France had been wronged by Germania, or Italia was showing a proper spirit to Austria. The boy’s death ceased to appear an outrage on common sense; it assumed a sort of mythological dignity. And insurrection could clothe itself in the same romantic habiliments as diplomacy. Ireland became a Cinderella goddess, Cathleen ni Houlihan, full of heartrending and unforgivable wrongs; young India transcended its; realities in the worship of Bande Mataram.
The essential idea of nineteenth-century nationalism was the «legitimate claim» of every nation to complete sovereignty, the claim of every nation to manage all its affairs within its own territory, regardless of any other nation. The flaw in this idea is that the affairs and interests of every modern community extend to the uttermost parts of the earth. The assassination of Sarajevo in 1914, for example, which caused the great war produced the utmost distress among the Indian tribes of Labrador because that war interrupted the marketing of the furs upon which they relied for such necessities as ammunition, without which they could not get sufficient food. A world of independent sovereign nations means, therefore, a world of perpetual injuries, a world of states constantly preparing for or waging war. But concurrently and discordantly with the preaching of this nationalism there was, among the stronger nationalities, a vigorous propagation of another set of ideas, the ideas of imperialism, in which a powerful and advanced nation was conceded the right to dominate a group of other less advanced nations or less politically developed nations or peoples whose nationality was still undeveloped, who were expected by the dominating nation to be grateful for its protection and dominance. This use of the word empire was evidently a different one from its former universal significance. The new empires did not even pretend to be a continuation of the world empire of Rome.
These two ideas of nationality and, as the crown of national success, «empire», ruled European political thought, ruled indeed the political thought of the world, throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century, and ruled it to the practical exclusion of any wider conception of a common human welfare. They were plausible and dangerously unsound working ideas. They represented nothing fundamental and inalterable in human nature, and they failed to meet the new needs of world controls and world security that the mechanical revolution was every day making more imperative. They were accepted because people in general had neither the sweeping views that a study ofworld history can give nor had they any longer the comprehensive charity of a world religion. Their danger to all the routines of ordinary life was not realized until it was too late.