The Way the World Is Going: Guesses & Forecasts of The Years

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

The Way the World Is Going: Guesses & Forecasts of The Years

Postby admin » Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:53 pm

The Way the World Is Going: Guesses & Forecasts of The Years Ahead
26 Articles & a Lecture
by H.G. Wells




I. Man becomes a Different Animal. Delusions about Human Fixity
II. What is happening in China? Does it foreshadow a New Sort of Government in the World?
III. What is Fascism? Whither is it taking Italy?
IV. Doubts of Democracy. New Experiments in Government
V. Democracy under Revision: a Lecture delivered at the Sorbonne on March 15th, 1927
VI. The Absurdity of British Politics. A Shadow on the Whole World. What has to be done about it?
VII. Baldwinism a Danger to the World. Wanted, a Coalition Government. The Deadlock and the Way out.
VIII. Communism and Witchcraft
IX. The Future of Labour. The Struggle between Capital and Labour. Controversial Hallucinations
X. What is the British Empire worth to Mankind ? Meditations of an Empire Citizen
XI. The Present Uselessness and Danger of Aeroplanes. A Problem in Organisation
XII. Changes in the Arts of War. Are Armies needed any longer? The Twilight of the Guards
XIII. Delusions about World Peace. The Price of Peace
XIV. The Possibility of War between Britain and America. Such a War is being prepared now. What are Intelligent People to do about it?
XV. The Remarkable Vogue of Broadcasting: will it continue?
XVI. The Silliest Film. Will Machinery make Robots of Men?
XVII. Is Life becoming Happier?
XVIII. Experimenting with Marriage. Legal Recognition of Current Realities.
XIX. New Light on Mental Life: Mr. J. W. Dunne’s Experiments with Dreaming
XX. Popular Feeling and the Advancement of Science, Anti-vivisection.
XXI. The New American People; what is wrong with it?
XXII. Outrages in Defence of Order. The Proposed Murder of two American Socialists.
XXIII. Some Plain Words to Americans. Are the Americans a Sacred People Is International Criticism restricted to the Eastward Position?
XXIV. Fuel-getting in the Modern World
XXV. The Man of Science and the Expressive Man. To whom does the Future belong? Some Thoughts about Ivan Pavloff and George Bernard Shaw
XXVI. The Future of the Novel. Difficulties of the Modern Novelist
XXVII. Is a Belief in a Spirit World growing? Why many Sensible Men continue to doubt and disregard it. What is Immortality

These articles were written for great weekly newspapers upon both sides of the Atlantic, and I note rather than complain that they appeared after suffering a certain amount of mutilation. I expressed my disapproval of such changes as were made, as vividly as possible, but the remedies a writer has are uncertain and tedious and the editorial interference went on to the end. The paragraphs were cut to pieces; there was a brightly careless excision of phrases and sentences apparently done at the eleventh hour to fit space and there was a frequent insertion of uncongenial cross-heads and headings more satisfactory to the editorial mind. The article in which I replied to the repeated personal attacks of Lord Birkenhead and his son suffered exceptionally in the London version. America with ampler columns was more respectful to the general text, but made one magnificent cut of the whole article about Sacco and Vanzetti, paid for it without complaint and did not print a line of it.

I make this note in justice to myself rather than as an indictment of these big newspapers. It is a considerable stimulus to address one^s ideas to their Sunday morning audience, and it is amusing to try saying what one has to say in as editor-proof a form as possible. It is like shouting across an intervener at a crowd, I would be the last person, in the world to object to the criticism that there is a distinct flavour of shouting and a disposition to reiterate in this book. Mercifully, I have removed the emphatic cross-heads in restoring my original text. Quips and quirks, fine phrases and fine qualifications and, above all, suggestions and hints, one flings into such work to please oneself, praying God that the printer and sub-editor will at least in their final crisis of adjustment cut out rather than distort. And when all its defects have been discounted, this syndicated newspaper work still gives a handsome opportunity for saying things broadly and plainly, and obliges one, very wholesomely, to state one’s current state of mind about this, that and the other thing in simple lucid terms. One has the sense of committing oneself to readers who may never have heard of one before, and who may, for example, base a life’s antipathy on a single rash assertion.

Inserted among these papers is a lecture given in Paris last year called “Democracy under Revision.” If I may so far assist the reader, I would point out that this is much more closely written than the rest of this book. It is natural to weigh one’s ps and qs when one faces the ordeal of presently reading it all aloud to an exceptionally intelligent audience. This lecture is something more than an essay upon methods of government. It is an essay upon social structure. It carries in it the statement of a general principle of artistic criticism and has various sentences capable of considerable expansion. As nearly everything else in the book is in a state of quite generous expansion this lecture may be stepped over unawares. But I will be glad to find what I have to say therein about the modern novel and the modern play, for instance, not altogether disregarded. And anyhow, I would like to underline the title to the extent of remarking that the revision of democracy is not its repudiation.

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Re: The Way the World Is Going: Guesses & Forecasts of The Y

Postby admin » Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:00 pm


Of all the time-honoured fatuities that men repeat and repeat, and comfort themselves mysteriously by repeating, none surely are more patently absurd than those which assert the unchangcableness of human life, “Human nature “never alters, we are assured; man in the Stone Age, any Stone Age, was exactly what he is now, or rather more so; he felt the same things; he imagined the same things; he travelled the same round; his fears, his hopes were identical. Save for a few superficialities, human life has always been the same and will always be the same, and neither the past nor the future can be allowed to cast a reflection by difference upon our satisfaction with the lives we lead to-day. Life as we know it is, in fact, the cream and the whole of existence. There was nothing very different behind us and there is nothing better ahead.

Quite similarly we protect our self-esteem by the persuasion that life under all sorts of circumstances and in all social positions is very much of a muchness. It gratifies our inherent grudgingness to think that life in a palace differs in no essential quality from life in our own cottage, that all the grapes above our heads are sour, and it eases our social conscience to reflect over the fire in the evening that the miner cramped in his seam or the out-of-work on tramp is so attuned to his level of existence that for all practical purposes he has just as much fun and contentment in life as we do. There is no real inequality, we assure ourselves, just as there is no progress. Our lives are as good as any lives can be. “Riches," we all say, “cannot buy happiness,” and it seems hardly to touch that statement that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the completest enjoyment of existence who would be cripples or dead if they had not been able to command the services of expensive surgeons, undergo costly treatments or take imperative holidays at this or that crisis in their careers. In any other age, under any available conditions, they would be cripples or dead. But it makes us happier to deny that, just as it makes us happier to think that the life of our times will always be regarded with respect by posterity. Our heroes will always be the most heroic of heroes; the great men we have made our symbols will shine as stars of the first magnitude for ever; the art, the literature that delight us will last for “all time “Our Newton is for ever; our Shakespeare is for ever; Alexander and Caesar and Napoleon are for ever; it is almost as if we were for ever.

This sort of consolation is so natural to most of us, so near to being a necessity, that to run over a few of the facts that make it absurd can rob hardly a soul of the pleasure of it. For everyday purposes we believe what we want to believe, and if we do not want to believe the truth, we do generally contrive to dispose of it as a sort of extravaganza. In that spirit most of us contemplate the fact that human life, the tune, the quality, the elements, are changing visibly before our eyes. Human life, as a matter of fact and not as a matter of sentiment, is different from what it has ever been before, and it is rapidly becoming more different. The scope of it and the feel of it and the spirit of it change. Perhaps never in the whole history of life before the present time, has there been a living species subjected to so fiercely urgent, many-sided, and comprehensive a process of change as ours to-day. None at least that has survived. Transformation or extinction have been nature’s invariable alternatives. Ours is a species in an intense phase of transition.

These papers, of which this is the first, will all consider some aspect or other of this great change that is going on. In them we will release our imaginations to the truth that we are things that pass, and do not leave our like, and that the ways and experiences of our children and our children’s children promise to be profoundly different from the life we lead at the present time. We will give a rest to our practical working belief in the security of things as they are. We will take the rest and refreshment of a few glances at the longer realities.

Man has always been a changing animal. The earliest human remains of a few score thousand years ago are of creatures so different that they are now regarded as a distinct species of Homo, Only within twenty or thirty thousand years does man seem to have been truly man. There is a disposition in some quarters to exaggerate the resemblance of the later Stone Age men to modern types, and to minimise the changes that have occurred since the onset of civilisation. What is called the Cro-Magnon race was a race of big individuals, and, as in the case of their brutish predecessors, the Neanderthalers (Homo Neanderthalensis), that bigness extended to the brain case — in quantity at least their brains were above our present average — but they were beings of a coarser texture than the average modern, and there has been the most preposterous nonsense written about their artistic gifts and their general intelligence. They drew and carved — about as well as recent Bushmen have drawn and carved. They were so far modern “in their art that at times it was strikingly obscene.

A brain is known by its fruits, and the total product of this Cro-Magnon brain, of which certain excited anthropologists have made a marvel, was the precarious life of painted, wandering savages. In build and skull type and general character this Cro-Magnon people differed from any race now flourishing in this world. Industrious search may find odd individuals here and there, in Central France and the Canary Isles, for example, rather after the Cro-Magnon type. They are rarely eminent individuals.

Throughout the whole historical period the races of men have been changing. In a recent lecture Sir Arthur Keith noted some of the differences between the average Briton of to-day and his predecessor of only a few centuries ago. The former has, for instance, a scissor bite “of the teeth instead of an edge-to-edge bite; his face is finer and longer and his palate narrower; his nose is thinner and more prominent. These are the modifications wrought upon him by the comparatively slow and slight alterations in his circumstances, extended and altered dietary, increased clothing, and the like, that went on during the Middle Ages and the subsequent two or three centuries. They are unimportant in comparison with the modifications that are being pressed upon him by the changing circumstances of to-day.

Very few of us realise the enormous distortions that are now going on in the life cycle of the human animal. There is a biological revolution in progress — of far profounder moment than any French or Russian revolution that ever happened. The facts come drip- ping in to us, here a paragraph in a newspaper, there a book, now a chance remark; we are busy about our personal affairs and rarely find time to sit back and consider the immense significance of the whole continuing process. We forget this before we hear of that, and do not put two and two together.

Here, to begin with, is a specimen of the kind of quiet-looking fact that gets by most of us without betraying a shadow of its enormous implications. I find it mentioned casually in “Rejuvenation,” a book by Dr. Norman Haire, which I chance to be consulting upon a point I shall deal with later. It is that since the opening of the present century insurance statistics, presumably British — Dr. Haire does not say — show that the average length of human life within the scope of these statistics has been increased by twelve years. This, when we make the necessary inquiries, does not mean that people are living on to two-and-eighty instead of the traditional three score and ten, but that the hope of survival for every infant born in Britain has been increased in a brief quarter-century by about a third. It may expect to live four years for every three it could have hoped for if it had been born in 1900. That is the latest step in a series of changes that have been going on for a much longer period. It points forward to a time when nearly every child born into a civilised community will live to maturity. Because of late marriages and other more disputable causes, there are in every thousand individuals of a modern Atlantic population twenty or less infants of under one year, and upon that such populations can and do increase. This marks a quite novel rarity of children in the new world. To judge by Oriental cities in which medieval conditions still prevail and the tombstones in old English churches, something like fifty out of the thousand of our ancestral populations, before the day of our great-great-grandmothers, were infants under one year, of which thirty or more were doomed to die in childhood or adolescence. A lot of that thirty died in the first year; a lot of the survivors from the previous year were, at the same time, dying in their second year, and so on. Proportionately there were more ailing children in that vanished state of affairs among our populations than all the children in our community to-day. Upwards of half the human beings then alive lived what we should now regard as tragically foreshortened existences. And the rest of the population, the moiety that contrived to grow up, must have been mainly occupied in mothering, fathering, and nursing this superfluity of offspring.

As we examine the dry-looking figures of birth-rates and death-rates in the vital statistics that have become available in the past hundred years, and touch them with imaginative understanding, we begin to realise that the life of man so far, up to our own times — and of women far more so — ^has been almost wholly a sexual one; that — with the exception of a few priests, nuns, eccentrics and unattractive women — the full round of life for every one who could achieve it, who wasn’t killed too soon, that is, was to grow up, to pair, to produce and sustain a large family, burying most of it, and so to decay and age and die. The whole adult life was consumed by sex and its consequences; the business of the family, of making it and of toiling for it, of weeping over the dead and beginning again, was the complete circle of life- Man was almost as sexual as a cat with its ever-recurring kittens. In the past the normal existence fell wholly into the frame of the family, Man was a family animal. Now this is no longer the case. Now family life becomes merely a phase in an ampler experience. Human life escapes beyond it.

Human life, which was formerly almost completely filled by that reproductive business, the family, has come very suddenly upon conditions under which the necessity for sexual preoccupations has enormously diminished. That means a biological revolution of quite primary quality. Women and men can no longer use themselves up, even if they would, in that immemorial round. The release of women — if we may regard it as a release and not as a deprivation — is conspicuously immense. Homo Sapiens, departing from the usual practice of the animal kingdom, is beginning to breed much later than his physical adolescence, to conserve all his offspring, and so to free and render available, for good or evil, an amount of individual time and energy unprecedented in the history of life. He has changed these cardinal points in his biological process in the last hundred years almost unawares. So far he is already a different sort of animal from his ancestors, or, indeed, from any species of vertebrated creature that has ever lived upon earth.

The change in conditions is all too recent to appear in any inherent quality. Adaptation to the new conditions has to be individual, just as education to the old conditions had to be. If the new conditions last long enough, a specific modification facilitating adaptation will go on, as Professor Mark Baldwin showed a decade or so ago, in his far too much-neglected discussion of the evolutionary process, “Development and Evolution.” That will be an affair of many generations, but it will come. And no doubt it will be made evident by visible physical differences as well asphysiological alterations.

But these current changes in the natural history of mankind during the last few decades, great as they are, pale before certain others that are now promising to alter the whole tenor of the life experience in quite another direction. A series of possibilities and practicabilities are being opened to us by recent research that amount in effect to a huge artificial extension of the fully adult stage of life. Homo Sapiens in the past was a creature who normally went to work at the end of childhood, became adult, married, had a large, distressful, onerous family, lost his teeth, lost the power of accommodating his eyes to distance, and came to an end. It is within quite a short period that man has eked out his failing powers with glasses and false teeth. “Nature,”says Sir Arthur Keith, “has worked out the evolution of the human family on a mean life tenure of forty-five years; she has hitherto run the human army on a short service system.” In the near future, on the contrary, man will not work until he is adult; he will marry much later; he will have a small, successful family; he will then go on for some score of years, it may be, before he exhibits any of the characteristic decadence of age. Instead of breaking down and being left by the way, the oculist, the dentist, the surgeon, will perform the necessary roadside repairs, and carry him on through a prolongation of his efficiency. But that is not all; something more than patching and carrying on is possible; his essential vitality can be, and will be, prolonged.

The researches on which our belief in the last and most hopeful of these possibilities is based — that is, the suspension of senility — are recent; the great bulk of them have been published since this century began, but they amount now to a substantial mass of entirely confirmatory evidence. Metchnikoff was one of the earliest to make the attack upon senile decay, and his dietetic suggestions and his schemes for a sort of hygienic evisceration have not proved of any great value, but since his time an increasing number of investigators, working chiefly upon the internal secretions of the animal body, have shown more and more convincingly that by simple and easy treatment it is possible to sustain a human being in a state of adult vigour far beyond Shakespeare’s sixth and seventh ages. Haire gives the results of a score of able workers in Germany, Britain, America, and other countries, Steinach, Lichtenstem, Voronoff, and their pupils, associates, and rivals, who have gradually built up certainties out of speculations and experiments. In the last month or so Professor Cavazzi, of Bologna, has published claims that greatly reinforce and extend these assurances. Adult vigour can be restored, and it can be kept up to at least the end of the normal life. It can probably be maintained for many years beyond that limit. At first it may be only a few prosperous and enterprising individuals, with access to the best and most skilful advice, who will extend the span of their activity in this way, but it is unlikely that “prolongation" will be allowed to remain the privilege of a small class. The average active human life, we may conclude, in the quite near future, will be not only unencumbered but prolonged, in comparison with any but exceptionally sturdy and lucky lives in the past.

We seem to be passing on now towards a state of human society in which there will be no children but hopeful and active children, and though many people will be full of years, none will be “aged ”; a state of society, in fact, in which the average man and woman will be of riper years, far maturer in outlook and far less deeply immersed in sexual and family affairs. It will be a community of grown-up people to an extent quite beyond our present community. In most of our forecasts and imaginings of times to come, we are apt to disregard this biological revolution which is in progress, and the mental and social consequences that must follow upon it. It seems to indicate the possibility of a world with a different and probably a graver emotional tone, with an art and a literature much less obsessed by the love story and the elementary adventures of life, and with a political and social life less passionate and impatient and more circumspect. It is not a metaphor, it is a statement of material fact that mankind is growing up, and that we are passing towards a more distinctly adult life as the main stretch of existence, in comparison with the feverishly youthful and transitory life of the past.

The development of the speculations that arise out of this statement would carry us far beyond the scope of the present article. Later I hope to return to some of the most striking of them. But the great mass of current discussion about moral codes and standards of conduct, about the ethics and sentiment of married and business and religious life and the like, this searching and probing into fundamental things which make our contemporary literature and journalism so different from that of the last century, arises, I believe, very largely out of a need, felt rather than recognised, of altering and adjusting our working habits and traditional methods to this very imperfectly apprehended change in human biology, this shifting of the centre point of life from the twenties up towards the fifties, this rapid and disconcerting change, in the course of a generation or so, of Homo Sapiens into a more completely developed, longer living, and more persistently vital animal.

January, 1927.  
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Re: The Way the World Is Going: Guesses & Forecasts of The Y

Postby admin » Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:08 pm


Where is history being made most abundantly at the present time?

One may doubt whether any of the events of the last twelve months either in America or in Europe will figure very conspicuously in the histories of the future. Political futilities and a slow economic contraction in Great Britain, phases in the process of superabundance in America, government by rhetoric and outrage in Italy, the sluggish recognition at Geneva that Germany is after all in the middle of Europe, and the arrest of the franc at the very moment when its plunge seemed definitive — these and the steady progressive reconstruction of a modern-spirited trading and manufacturing life upon the wide foundations of Russia, mark no turning point in the course of human affairs. All these things are, so to speak, merely Fate carrying on, But when we look to China there seems to be something more than carrying-on in progress . There seems to be something new there, something which has at any rate, so far as the Western observer is concerned, only become credible and important in the last eight or ten months. It is a change in the rhythm. It is the clear onset of a new phase, of a new China, like nothing the world has ever seen before, a challenge, a promise to all mankind.

Let us try to realise in the most general terms the significance of this new movement in China. It is not an easy thing to do. Our world is densely ignorant of things Chinese. At school few of us learnt anything of the slightest importance about China, except that it had a population so immense that you could kill Chinamen by the hundred and they scarcely noticed it, that they ate rice, rats, and puppies, and that they possessed two long rivers that seriously challenged the records of the Nile and the Mississippi.

We learnt less formally that Chinamen of all ages wore highly decorative skirts and flew kites, whereas we knew perfectly well that the only proper amusement for gentlemen is hitting expensive little balls about golf links until they are lost, and that the only proper wear for a dominant race is chromatic pullovers and highly-illuminated plus fours. Moreover, we were given to understand that the Chinese of all ages and sexes preferred work to any other form of enjoyment, and found an almost infantile pleasure in living exactly on the margin of subsistence. And they were cruel, very cruel. Their artistic productions amused us very greatly; they were so unlike the great masters, Victorian art and British Academy pictures. Of beauty in the proper sense of the word they knew nothing. So furnished forth upon this matter of China, our minds rested and were content.

Right up to the present time we have been as satisfied with the pre-eminence of our civilisation and the worthlessness of theirs as were the Chinese about their own perfections a hundred years ago. But since then the Chinese have suffered blow after blow and humiliation after humiliation, until the need of learning has been forced upon them. Students came from China to America and Europe, and come in increasing numbers. Never a Western student, except for some eccentric, goes to China. Traders go, the European Governments send battleships to back up their traders, and missionaries are despatched by various denominations to advise the Chinese of the chief sorts of salvation practised among us and available for their use. The traders send back news with an eye to their privileges, and the missionaries with an eye to their paymasters. A bright young man of position at Oxford or Harvard would as soon think of leaving his ball games and his "rags "and all the pleasant procedure that lead to preeminence as lawyer and legislator in our world, for two or three years of study in China, as get into a shell and be shot off to the moon. So that the Chinese may even have crept ahead of us in breadth of outlook during the past few years. Many of them now seem to know most of what we know and to know also quite a lot about their own country. If one wants to know about China nowadays, it is best to ask a Chinaman.

And now with a sense of surprise we find ourselves confronted by a modern self-conscious Chinese nationality, consolidating its power very rapidly and demanding to speak on equal terms with the American and European. A living Chinese nation has appeared in the world.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the present Chinese situation is this, that it is not apparently the work of any single man; the consolidation and reconstruction of China that has made such rapid progress in the last twelve months has not gone on under the direction of some strong-jowled hero of the Diaz or Mussolini type. When the long-tottering Manchu dynasty fell, and China became a republic and fell into all the violent diversions and dissensions inevitable after so extreme a change of regime, we Westerners, with our antiquated ideas, looked at once for the strong man who was either to foist a new dynasty on China or restore and bolster up the old — just as we looked for a Napoleon to emerge in Russia. That marked how far the Western intelligence had got in these matters. And just as the Western Powers of Europe, following out dreary foreign policies they ought to have scrapped ten years ago, muckered away an enormous amount of war gear and money in supporting crazy "white hopes against the nascent new thing in Russia, ugly and queer and incomprehensible to them, so they have wasted their prestige and resources upon this or that Chinese brigand and general who was to play the role of Diaz in Mexico and make China safe for the European investor.

No such ‘‘hero" has emerged either in Russia or China. It marks a new age. The days of great adventurers seem to be past in any country larger than Italy, and even in Italy it is possible to regard Mussolini less as a leader than as the rather animated effigy of a juvenile insurrection. What has happened in these wider, greater lands is something much more remarkable, something new in history, a phenomenon that calls for our most strenuous attention — namely, government, effective government, competent military control, and a consistent, steady, successful policy by an organised association. This Kuomintang in China in so far as it is an organised association is curiously parallel to the Communist Party which, standing behind the quasi-parliamentary Soviets, has now held Russia together, restrained such dangerous adventurers as Zinovieff, and defended its frontiers against incessant foreign aggression for nine long years. We shall be extraordinarily foolish if we do not attempt to realise the significance of this novel method of controlling government which has broken out over two of the greatest political areas of the globe. We have now two governments through organised associations, governments which are neither limited monarchies, dictatorships, nor parliamentary republics, on the American and French models, — one in Russia, and now another over the larger half of China, which bid fair to spread over the entire breadth of Asia until they are in complete contact.

When I say that the Communist Party and the Kuomintang are similar, I mean only in so far as regards organisation. They have profound differences in origin and aim and profession, and to those I will give a word later. But first I want to point out the complete novelty of their method.

Some twenty years or more ago I wrote a fantastic speculation about government, called "A Modern Utopia,”in which I supposed all administrative and legislative functions to be monopolised by an organisation called the Samurai, which any one could join by passing certain fairly exacting tests and obeying the rules of an austere, disinterested, and responsible life. One was free to leave the organisation and drop power and responsibility when one chose. The organisation ran the world. There were no great heroes and leaders, and there were no representatives nor parliaments nor elections. Any one who chose to face the hardships of the job could have a hand in control, but there was no room in the direction of public affairs either for the adventurer or for appeals to the oafish crowd.

Now this fantasy seems to have been one of those odd guesses that hover close to latent possibilities. If the "Modern Utopia" were published now, everybody would say I had taken a leaf from the book of the Communist Party or the Kuomintang, or even (though this is rather a different animal) the Fascisti. But indeed this anticipation sprang only from an early recognition that modern means of communication, the power afforded by print, telephone, wireless, and so forth, of rapidly putting through directive strategic or technical conceptions to a great number of cooperating centres, of getting quick replies and effective discussion, has opened up a new world of political processes. Ideas can now be given an effectiveness greater than the effectiveness of any personality, and stronger than any sectional interest. The common design can be documented and sustained against perversion and betrayal. It can be elaborated and developed steadily and widely without personal, local and sectional misunderstandings. So it is that both New Russia and this New China that has hatched itself out so astonishingly in the last year are things as new and different structurally from any preceding political organisms as mammals were from the great reptiles that came before them.

Directly we turn to their origins we note a wide difference. New Russia is the creation of the Communist Party, based upon and knit closely together by the economic dogmas of the Marxists. It was a cosmopolitan party with more than half a century of insurrectionary and revolutionary activity behind it before it secured power. It was a party of antagonism to the current system, it captured Russia as a war-shattered ruin, and for a time it showed itself very poor in constructive ideas and economic organisation. Its habits were habits of opposition and sabotage. But from the outset it had immense political resistance and strength, and it persists and learns, and is now manifestly building up. a new social and economic order tentatively and experimentally, that is neither communistic nor individualistic on Western lines. The Kuomintang seems to owe its origins and inspirations to that valiant man, Dr. Sun Yat Sen, who so nearly escaped decapitation in the Chinese Legation in London a quarter of a century ago. Its vital element is the student class, and especially the students fired by Western ideas but by no means overwhelmed by them. It has come more rapidly to power against suppression. Its centre of origin is Canton; it is the creation of the South. Perhaps it was inevitable that the New China should arise far away from the ancient imperial traditions of Peking, far away from the foreign Legations and the military memories of the North. And while the Russian movement was primarily social and only secondarily Russian, the Kuomintang started apparently with the idea of "China for the Chinese" and accepted most of the established traditions of property.

We remain, I say, still largely ignorant of the true quality of the Kuomintang. Three-quarters of the information we get from China is untrustworthy on account of its commercial or antiquated bias. Obviously the Chinese want to secure a free hand in the control of their own political and economic life, to levy tariffs according to their needs and extinguish the injustice of extra-territorial rights, and as obviously these simple and reasonable aspirations are deeply resented by the inadaptable Europeans who have lived in and profited by the old regime. But in spite of the manifest eagerness of a large section of the Western press to make capital out of any outrage upon Europeans in South China, they have had very little to record, and on the other hand the tale of European violence against the Chinese is a heavy one. The "fool behind the gun "who has been so busy in recent years shooting away the links of confidence and good feeling that hold together the British Empire in Ireland, in India, and elsewhere, seems to have had a glorious time out of bounds in China, He has blazed away at unarmed processions of students and shot into crowded towns. The English illustrated papers have offered us the most damning evidence of obstructive junks rammed and sunken and of the general high-handedness of British procedure. Since the Bolshevik Government is still a useful bogey for American and European scaremongers, the Kuomintang is declared to be Bolshevist in origin and sympathy. This is just the common abuse natural in the situation. The Kuomintang seems to be unencumbered by the Marxist dogmas that still clog the feet of Russian development. It is probably a decade or so more modern and flexible in its ideas.

Our illustrated papers have published photographs of Kuomintang leaders grouped with Borodin and other Bolshevist representatives in support of the "Red’’ accusation. But that no more commits China and Russia to a hand-and-glove alliance than the photographs in circulation of the poor little Manchu emperor boy with a British tutor ’’ standing like a keeper beside him commit Great Britain to a restoration of the Son of Heaven’s sacrifices in Pekin, There seem to be far more Russians with the brigand generals of North China than among the Cantonese armies, but these Pekin Russians are Russians of the "white" persuasion and useless for the purpose of creating prejudice. I do not hear of any attempts on the part of the Cantonese Government to expropriate any one, Chinese or foreigner, or to restrain trading, or to confiscate or nationalise industry. If anything of the sort did occur, we should certainly have all the reactionary European press proclaiming it, and so it seems reasonable to conclude that there is no tendency whatever in that direction. The social and economic life of China has never run strictly parallel to ours, and the Kuomintang develops in its own way — but that is a different story from the establishment of Communism.

And also it is a different story if, under similar necessities, the new social trading and industrial experiments of the Chinese presently come to display some sort of similarity to Russian developments, as the dogmas of the Marxists are shaken off or sterilised as pious sentiments by the latter people, and as both races settle down to work in the face of realities. Surely no man in his senses can believe that the financial, trading, and industrial methods of America and Europe to-day are the ultimate triumph of human wisdom, and it is as probable that successful innovations of system may spring from the desolated and renascent economic life of Russia and China as amidst the jungle of interests in our more prosperous but more encumbered world.

The disposition to call the Cantonese Government "red" and to force it into association with the Russian Government, which seems to be the aim of a large section of the Atlantic press, may prove a very dangerous disposition to our Western civilisation. Manifestly China is not so afraid of Russia as she is of Japan and the Powers whose warships pervade her great rivers. Soviet Russia is further off and milder. And anxious to be helpful.

But the rubbish that is written in some papers does not always perish there. It goes to China; it goes to Russia. Suppose we Westerners succeed in persuading the Chinese and the Russians that we regard them with a common animosity, and that for us they are all one — Reds altogether. Suppose we insist on treating them both as outcasts. Suppose that as the United Soviets and the Kuomintang work out the problems of economic and political construction before them, they find they have problems very much in common, and that the irrational hostility of the older civilisations obliges them to turn more and more to each other. Suppose they take up scientific work more vigorously than our fatuous self-satisfaction allows us to do. Suppose they decide to make the pace for us. Europe and America are not so blindingly brilliant and progressive that it would not be possible to press them hard.

Suppose Russia and China chose to put in tens of thousands of scientific workers against our thousands. The average Chinese brain is said to be rather richer in grey matter than the average European. From the Baltic to the Chinese coasts there is a population of more than five hundred millions even now, and lands of a richness far surpassing all the resources of North America. They are poor countries as yet, but potentially they are very great countries. They have still to develop effective railway links, but they can do that now with all the lessons of our older system to warn and guide them. And no other countries in the world are so happily placed for the promotion of aviation services. It would not be difficult to argue that the backbone lines of the air services of the future must pass over Russia and China anyhow. Before we dismiss as incredible the development of a powerful and even dominating civilisation in the federated Soviets of Russia and Asia, let us recall the contemptuous superiority with which Europe regarded the United States during the strain of the Civil War.

At any rate it seems to me that this New China, whose brain and nervous system is the Kuomintang, is the most interesting thing by far upon the stage of current events, and the best worth watching and studying.

23 January, 1927.  
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Re: The Way the World Is Going: Guesses & Forecasts of The Y

Postby admin » Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:19 pm


Is Fascism the invention and weapon of Mussolini, or is Mussolini the creature of Fascism? Is Fascism something that would die if he died, or is it something that would have played its part in the world if that eminently theatrical figure had never been born? No doubt that under its present name and as an organisation Fascism from its very beginning has been most intimately associated with Mussolini. But though it has kept its name and its leader, it has changed its nature very completely since its appearance seven years ago. Beginning as something of a novelty, it has abandoned every novel pretension it ever made. This reality that has now taken on the name and organisation of Fascism was fully vocal in Italy before the war, and its spiritual father is d’Annunzio. It was active and armed for the Fiume raid, while Mussolini was still encouraging crowds to loot shops and preaching "the railways for the railwaymen" and the land for the peasants.

This spirit in Italy, which Mussolini did not create but which he has studied, adopted, and used to clamber to his present fantastic position of Italian tyrant, had already found literary expression in the “Futurist" poetry of Marinetti as early as 1913 and 1913. I can remember that rich voice in London at some dinner of the Poetry Society long before the war, reciting, shouting, the intimations of a new violence, of an Italy that would stand no nonsense, that abjured the past and claimed the future, that exulted in the thought and tumult of war, that was aristocratic, intolerant, proud, pitiless, and, above all, “Futurist.”

In those days Mussolini was just the sort of fellow the present-time Fascist would spend a happy evening in waylaying and beating to death. He was a pacificist, a Socialist of the extreme left, and he had made himself conspicuous by leading an agrarian revolt, the Red Week, in Romagna.

Even in 1919 Mussolini had not found the real soul and substance of his party, and the youthful violence of Italy had still to discover its organiser and god. The early Fascist programme read over again now, seven years later, is almost incredibly contradictory of all that Fascism now proclaims; it was republican, pacificist, it demanded the abolition of titles, freedom of the Press, freedom of association, freedom of propaganda, a census of wealth, confiscation of unproductive capital, suppression of banks and stock exchanges, grants of land to peasant soviets, and so forth. It was in fact a new organisation of Socialist extremists outside the trade-union and peasant classes. But its strength lay not in its ideas, but in the ability with which it was organised.

It set about its work from the beginning with a melodramatic picturesqueness that seized upon adolescent imaginations; it was aggressive, adventurous, quarrelsome, and implacable after the heart of youth. It was, in a word, a great lark. But it put the rampant Italian Futurists into a uniform and taught them a Roman salute. It developed a feud with the Socialists and Populist Party. It grasped an immense opportunity at the municipal elections of 1920, when it supported, and in return had the connivance of, the Giolitti Ministry. It supplied convenient bands of young roughs to intimidate electors. It got arms in some secret but effective fashion, and a properly instructed police dealt with it in a spirit of friendly laxity. And when next year it had become an actual party represented in the Chamber, it turned against its foster-father Giolitti, which served that venerable statesman right.

The early programme had dropped out of sight by that time; it would be forgotten altogether were it not for the obstinate memories of antagonists like Sturzo and Nitti — and Mussolini was feeling his way steadily towards the poses and professions that would most fully satisfy the cravings of the more energetic and adventurous sections of Italian youth. He has emerged at last in a role that d’Annunzio could have written for him fifteen years ago, the role of .the un- scrupulous, magnificent Saviour and re-Maker of a Hairy Heroic Italy.

As late as 1919 he had still been flirting with extreme Socialistic ideas; it was only with the fall of Giolitti that he moved definitely over to patriotism, nationalism, religious orthodoxy, and conservatism. I would not charge him with a cunning and calculated self-seeking in this change of front. He seems to have been guided by the quick instinct of the born actor and demagogue for what would “take,” rather than by any intelligible reasoning, to throw himself and all his resources into the forms demanded by romantic reaction.

The forces of romantic reaction had been incapable of producing an organisation, but they were prepared for melodramatic devotion; they had no great leader except an elderly poet of literary habits, unhappily lacking in hair and a little exhausted by aviation and Fiume, and they cried out for a hero in the full vigour of life. The Fascist organisation, with the very little modification needed to scrap all the original principles, gave them the first, and Mussolini was only too ready to take his cue and come forward into the limelight as the second.

One need only study a few of the innumerable photographs of Mussolini with which the world is now bespattered to realise that he is a resultant and no original. That round, forcible-feeble face is the popular actor’s face in perfection. It stares, usually out of some pseudo-heroic costume, under a helmet for choice, with eyes devoid of thought or intelligence and an expression of vacuous challenge. “Well, what have you got against me? I deny it.”

It is the face of a man monstrously vain and — at the mere first rustle of a hiss — afraid. Not physically afraid, not afraid of the assassin who lurks in the shadows, but afraid, in deadly fear of that truth which walks by day. The murders and outrages against opponents and critics that lie like a trail of blood upon his record are the natural concomitants of leadership by a man too afraid of self-realisation to endure the face of an antagonist. Away with them! Nitti, Amendola, Forni, Misuri, Matteotti, Salvemini, Sturzo, Turati! Away with all these men who watch and criticise and wait! What are they waiting for? Not one of these names of men robbed, beaten, exiled, or foully done to death, which is not the name of a better man than this posturing figure which holds the stage in Italy. And the supreme sin of each one of them has been the quack-destroying comment, the chill and penetrating eye.

In truth Mussolini has made nothing in Italy. He is a product of Italy. A morbid product. Italians ask; “What should we have done without Mussolini? and the answer is; “You would have got another.” What is now drilled and disciplined as Fascism existed before him and will go on after him. If he were to die, Fascism would not have the least difficulty in finding among the rich resources of Italy a successor as dramatic and rhetorical: its difficulty would be that it would probably find too many successors.

What then is this reality of Fascism, which inflates this strange being and allows him for a little while to do so much violence as the tyrant of Italy? What complex of forces sustains him?

One power of Fascism is that it is the first entrance of an organised brotherhood upon the drama of Italian politics.

It is only apparently a one-man tyranny. There is considerable reason to suppose that organised brotherhoods, maintaining a certain uniformity of thought and action over large areas and exacting a quasi-religious devotion within their membership, are going to play an increasingly important part in human affairs. Secret societies there have always been in Italy, but Fascism is not a secret society; it is an association with open and declared aims. It discusses its activities in big meetings and regulates them through a Press. The Communist Party which dominates Russia and the Kuomintang which is rescuing China from anarchy and foreign dominion, are other such associations, broader and more completely modern in spirit but structurally akin. Their ideals and those of the Fascists are in the flattest contrast, and their procedure is freer from furtive violence, but they have much the same material form. The contents of the vehicle differ, but the form of the vehicle is similar.

And while in the Communist Party we find Marxist theories struggling with practical reality and in the Kuomintang the conception of consolidating and developing a modernised but essentially Chinese Civilisation, in the Fascist vehicle there seems to be the ideology of a young and essentially ill-educated Italian, romantic, impatient, and, at bottom, conventional, wanting altogether in any such freshness or vigour of outlook as distinguishes the Kuomintang and Communist visions. Fascism as compared with these movements presents a mentality which cannot conceive new things, but which wants old things and itself made glorious. The Italian Futurism it succeeds was never , more than a projected return to primitive violence. It is a modern method without a modern idea.

This Fascist mind demands workers who work with pride and passion and accept what is given to them cheerfully; soldiers eager for the prospect of death; priests who are saints without question, and teachers who teach but one lesson: Italy. It can face no doubts nor qualifications. It sees taking thought in the light of treason, discussion as weakness, and the plainest warnings of danger as antagonism to be beaten into silence and altogether overcome. So long as Mussolini sings its song it will lavish upon him a medieval loyalty. Should he by some miracle be smitten with intelligence and self-criticism, it would sweep him away. Its honesty, as a movement in general and disregarding the manifest cynicism and commercialism of some of its older leaders, is indisputable. Mussolini before the camera man as hero is the caricature portrait of Young Italy before the world as hero.

Now, how comes it that Italy has produced this sort of youthful mind in sufficient abundance to fill the ranks of Fascism and make it for a time at least a great and powerful machine? Why has Italy bred her own servitude and degradation? To answer that question completely would demand a long and intimately critical study of the development of Italian secondary and higher education, and of the quality and supply of reading matter to the inquiring adolescent during the past half-century. I do not even know if it is a case of bad schools or of insufficient schools, of inaccessibility of education, of religious or anti-religious tests for the teachers, of aloofness or cheapness of quality in the universities, of a pervasion of teaching by propaganda or a defective distribution of books. But bad education there has surely been, and Italy reaps the consequences to-day. The Italian intelligence is naturally one of the best in Europe, but in some way or in several ways it must have been underfed, underexercised, and misdirected for this supply of generous, foolish, violent young men of the middle classes to exist. This mentality could not be possible without a wide ignorance of general history and world geography, without the want of any soundly scientific teaching to balance the judgment and of any effective training in discussion, fair play, and open-mindedness to steady behaviour. It is the mentality of the emotional, imaginative, intellectually undertrained hobbledehoy.

For the most tragic thing of all, to my mind, in this Italian situation is the good there is in these Fascists. There is something brave and well-meaning about them. They love something, even if it is a phantom Italy, that never was and never can be; they can follow a leader with devotion even if he is a self-deceiving charlatan. They will work. Even their outrages have the excuse of a certain indignation, albeit stupid some- times to the pitch of extreme cruelty. Mixed up with this goodness there is no doubt much sheer evil, a puerile malignity and the blood-lust of excited beasts, as when so hideously they beat to death and out of recognition the poor child who may or may not have fired an ineffective pistol at their dictator. But the goodness is there.

Yet I do not see that the alloy of generosity and courage in Fascism is likely to save Italy from some very evil consequences of its rule.

The deadliest thing about Fascism is its systematic and ingenious and complete destruction of all criticism and critical opposition. It is leaving no alternative Government in the land. It is destroying all hopes of recovery. The King may some day be disinterred, the Vatican may become audible again, the Populist Party of Catholic Socialism hangs on; but it is hard to imagine any of these three vestiges of the earlier state of affairs recovering enough vitality to reconstruct anew an exhausted Italy. Fascism is holding up the whole apparatus of education in Italy, killing or driving out of the country every capable thinker, clearing out the last nests of independent expression in the universities. Meanwhile its militant gestures alarm and estrange every foreign Power with which it is in contact. Now through the Tyrol it insults the Germans to the limits of endurance; now it threatens France monstrously and recklessly; now comes the turn of the Turk or the Yugo-Slav.

Yet no European country is less capable of carrying on a modern war than Italy; she has neither the coal, steel, nor chemical industries necessary, and equally is she incapable of developing a modern industrialism without external resources. Her population increases unchecked; no birth control propaganda may exist within her boundaries. So beneath all the blare and bluster of this apparently renascent Italy there accumulates a congestion of under-educated and what will soon be underfed millions. British and other foreign capital may for a time bring in fuel and raw material to sweat the virtues of this accumulation of cheap low-grade labour. We may hear for a time quite a lot about the industrial expansion of Italy, We may be invited to invest in Italian “industrials.” But one may doubt whether the more intelligent workers of Western and Central Europe will consent to have the standards of European life lowered by Italian cheap labour without a considerable and probably an effective protest.

So it seems to me that the horoscope of Italy reads something after this fashion: this romantic, magnificent, patriotic Fascist Party, so exalted and devoted in its professions, will continue to grip the land, but of necessity it must become more and more the servant of foreign and domestic capital, and more and more must it sell itself to reduce its dear and beloved Italy to a congested country of sweated workers and terrorised peasants, until at last the peninsula will be plainly the industrial slum of Europe. I do not see any forces in Italy capable of arresting the drive to degradation and catastrophe that the Fascist movement, for all its swagger, has set going, Italy is now the Sick Land of Europe, a fever patient, flushed with a hectic resemblance to health, and still capable of convulsive but not of sustained violence. She declines. She has fallen out of the general circle of European development; she is no longer a factor in progressive civilisation. In the attempts to consolidate European affairs that will be going on in the next decade, Italy will be watched rather than consulted. She has murdered or exiled all her Europeans.

Many things may happen ultimately to this sick and sweated Italy, so deeply injured and weakened by her own misguided youth. Her present flushed cheeks and bright eyes and high temperature will presently cease to deceive even herself. She may blunder into a disastrous war, or she may develop sufficient social misery to produce a chaotic social revolution. Or one of these things may follow the other. And either war or revolution may spread its effects wide and far. In that way Italy becomes a danger to all humanity. But as a conscious participant she ceases to be great and significant in the world drama. She is now, for other countries, merely Mussolini. She may presently be his distracted relict.

But Italy is something more than a huge river valley and a mountainous peninsula under a Fascist tyrant. Italian intelligence and energy are now scattered throughout the earth. Who can measure the science and stimulation we in the rest of the world may not owe presently to the fine minds, the liberal spirits, who have been driven out of Italy by the Fascists’ loaded cane? How many men must there be to-day, once pious sons of Italy, who are now learning to be servants of mankind!

9 February, 1927.  
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Re: The Way the World Is Going: Guesses & Forecasts of The Y

Postby admin » Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:44 pm


Is Democracy a failure? Is it going to be retained much as it is in the years to come, or is it to be changed almost out of recognition, or cast aside as a hopelessly bad method in human affairs?

Democracy is a word with a remarkable variety of meanings. Here I am using it in its commonest current sense to express government by legislators and administrators appointed by a popular vote, government based on the assumption that ultimately the “people" is sovereign. It involves a denial of all hereditary or class or professional claims to power and privilege except in so far as the sovereign people consents and permits. Even a king is understood to be king by popular consent and not by any right divine. Democracy’s ceremonial, its feast, its great function, is the election. Thereby power is assigned, and public issues are understood to be decided.

Unless Democracy is thus defined, its meaning will flap away into the wildest contradictions. Leaving out of consideration the very especial and definite meaning it had in the ancient world, it has carried a hundred different sets of implications since the mighty shock of the first French Revolution brought it into free and frequent use. It has stood for human equality against every form of privilege and control, and it has stood for the right of the individual to realise himself to the full against every form of restrictive assumption.

It has stood, therefore, for the extremest socialism and the extremest individualism.
And it has stood, with an equal facility, for limitless progress and for a reaction to a peasant life, just as its liberating or its equalitarian side was brought uppermost, Europe has seen social democracy, Christian democracy, even democratic monarchy, shaking hands with every one, and showing baby to all the world. All these paradoxical variants and interpretations I put aside here, and I will not reflect for a moment upon the Democratic Party in the United States. Here I am discussing simply democracy in politics; government and the control of affairs in general by persons elected on a broad or universal franchise.

That sort of democracy is traceable, latent or overlaid, in most parts of Europe throughout history. Switzerland is an old story and democracy muttered close to the surface in seventeenth-century England and Scotland, but it was only with the American and French revolutions of the late eighteenth century that it became widely prevalent and respected. It was the creed of nineteenth-century liberalism everywhere. Throughout that age the great mother of parliaments at Westminster bred for exportation, like an Ostend rabbit, and legislatures and responsible cabinets sprang up all round the globe from Japan to Brazil. Franchise spread like an epidemic, and has now spread until the nuns in the convents of England and the ladies in Turkish harems are voting. The coloured vote in South Africa has become a very grave question indeed. No doubt this comprehensive democratisation of mankind has had many beneficial consequences; it has forced the most inattentive to a temporary attention to the world’s affairs, and it has been the symbol of a new self-respect for women and other enfranchised classes, and for many subject races — but to-day the question whether it is really a permanently good way of doing our collective business is being more and more insistently pressed upon us. Is the world going on that way, or is it seeking for fresh and more satisfactory paths of development? Or, to put it concretely: will general elections and municipal elections or any sort of popular elections be of more than the slightest importance in the affairs of A.D. 2027?

There exists a great variety of indictments of political democracy, but the main, most essential one is that it has produced a special and objectionable type of ruler, the politician, with certain very definable characteristics. The primitive theory of electional democracy was that the great, good, and capable men, statesmen, leaders in affairs, would offer, or be persuaded, to stand for the suffrages of their fellow-citizens, and would be chosen and elected for their known gifts and virtues. But the business of getting elected proved to be susceptible to considerable complication, and demanded almost from the outset something more than conspicuous public services and utility to ensure a candidate’s return. No good for Cincinnatus to stay at his plough; he had to exert himself.

The would-be ruler found it incumbent to divert so much of his time from being good and great to the task of getting himself elected, and he had to bind himself in such close party relationship with others engaged upon the same task, that his individual goodness and greatness speedily became a minor consideration. His interest in what was good for his country and mankind has been, and is, entirely subordinate to what will gain and what will lose votes. Independence of mind, magnanimity and greatness of desire are positive disadvantages for him. And so we find in all the great democratic countries that the direction of affairs has passed into the hands of men who are great merely as politicians, and who are otherwise neither remarkably intelligent, creative, nor noble beings.

They are, indeed, in a great number of cases, conspicuously shifty and ambiguous, strategic, and practically ineffective.
Let the reader try to name a single man of really first-class moral and intellectual quality in British, French, American, or German politics to-day. With a sort of baffled dismay we look up to these men we have elected to make the world anew for us, and we see leaders who do not lead and representatives who, at best, impress us as acutely humiliating caricatures of the struggling soul of our race. We realise that the real working out of human destiny is going on, so far as it is going on, beside, independently of, or partially hampered by our ostensible public life.

In America, France, and Great Britain, for example, where democracy has had the longest run, we see that the democratic method has brought about practically the same situation. A number of politicians have secured the confidence and support of the main groups of prosperous people, who do not want the world changed to any great extent. These politicians of the right and centre form so solid, well alimented, and effective a constellation that they are generally in power, albeit not always in an electional majority. Naturally these politicians of conservation have the support of all the great selling businesses which advertise in the Press and influence the Press. A second group of politicians appeals, with a feebler Press support, to the less comfortable masses. And while property, which demands no changes, can be of one mind politically, projected remedies for social uneasiness are various, and the discontented are a divided force. Leftism seems everywhere in a majority, for this is a very insecure and unsatisfactory world for the larger half of mankind, but nowhere is it in effective control.

Scarcely represented at all are the creative minds that would educate, reorganise, and push towards an ampler life for our race. Their purposes are difficult to understand and easy to misrepresent, and it suits the needs of the politician of the left far better to excite the voter at a disadvantage by wild promises and by stirring up class resentment — a procedure the politician of the right seeks to counter by the exacerbation of international hatred and suspicion and threats of foreign aggression. So he confuses and deflects popular anger. And a political party that represents wealth is not necessarily a party that represents stability. In a world of such swaying and uncertain values as ours to-day, much of our wealth is adventurous wealth and a heavy mass of business and financial operations are speculative operations dependent on insecurity. If the party of the right does not want things changed to any great extent, it may nevertheless find itself dominated by an active section quite eager to see them very considerably rocked about. No political party in any of the democratic countries of our contemporary world is anything but a resultant of current social and economic with traditional forces. No politician produced by the democratic methods stands for any authentic effort to order matters better. The great democratic countries of our globe are entirely without such political leading at the present time.

Now this is in a phase of the world’s affairs when certain matters of tremendous practical importance press for attention and can be handled only through the political machine. The art of war has come to such a pitch that civilisation demands the establishment of war-proof relationships between State and State. No such relationships are forthcoming and there are no signs that any politician anywhere is prepared to risk votes by even seeming to impair the national independence, as such relationships must necessarily do.

The financial and economic life of mankind has become world-wide, and it is suffering a vast demoralisation by the universal insecurity in monetary standards. There is no evidence anywhere of democracy’s ability to tackle this difficult and urgent problem. The world needs a common money, or — what is a slightly clumsier form of the same thing — moneys firmly established in relation one to another. It can only get a practically common money through the cooperation of governments. No government on this planet displays the intellectual and moral quality to handle the matter magisterially.

Economic life, too, has ceased to be manageable through comparatively small businesses run as individual adventures. Control of staple products, systematic regulated production and distribution in the case of such commodities as coal are urgently needed. These things extend beyond national limits. The welfare of thousands of people in Italy, for example, depends upon the coal production in France and England. Oil, cotton, wheat — the mention of these words now conjures up thoughts of world-wide operations. Democracy seems incapable of producing politicians competent to direct these big affairs. Private business alone is too chaotic and individualistic to direct them. It is powerful enough to deflect and involve democratic rulers and politicians, but it is not united nor powerful enough to achieve efficient administration nor able to free its creative and productive activities from the destructive raids of mere money-making adventurers. Economically we drift upon a rudderless ship.

Such simple truths are being recognised by a growing multitude of people, and they are felt far more widely than they are clearly recognised. The discontent with elected persons gathers and grows. No politician is any longer a hero to his fellow-countrymen. When Lord Oxford and Lord Birkenhead strike attitudes to remind the world of Gladstone and Palmerston everybody laughs. And the disposition to push aside parliamentary governments spreads daily. Russia has a pretence of representative government entirely and openly controlled by the Communist Party. The Duma, which I visited in January, 1914, and heard debating and dividing and rising to points of order about nothing in the best style, with its Speaker, Opposition, and reporters all complete, has vanished beyond recall. China, after some parliamentary beginnings in Peking, has cast them aside for that remarkable students’ association, the Kuomintang. Italy, in the throes of economic crisis after the war, scrapped and chased away her politicians and gave herself over also to a banded society. Spain has gone back upon parliamentary government. Poland and Hungary have scarcely tried the celebrated mixture before rejecting it. Greece follows on the same lines, and in the new Turkey it is criminal to be in opposition.

We came near to something of the same sort of thing in France last summer, when the rapid fall of the franc so scared the politicians out of their party manoeuvres that Herriot, Briand, and Poincare all took office together. We have the interesting spectacle in France of a country with its party politics largely in suspense. For ten nervous days of general strike it seemed as though Great Britain also might join the comity of nations weary of politicians. For two years Parliament has muddled with the vital question of coal production and done nothing: it has weathered one crisis and learnt nothing from it. The British coal industry goes on, socially and economically wasteful, in scandalous defiance of the Samuel Report and the Sankey Report, and Parliament continues to do nothing. The defeated miners are in the mental state of France in 1871.

Outside of America extraordinarily few people still believe in political democracy at all except as a make-shift to stand in the way of worse things, tyrannies, oligarchies and the like horrors. Many of those who still believe demand extensive changes of method. A number of us do imagine that democracy might be preserved, as a vastly different and more efficient method of government, if election by proportional representation with the single transferable vote in large constituencies returning many representatives could be substituted for the present bilateral system. Such an electrical method, associated with very much smaller parliamentary bodies, would in practice wipe out the party system, destroy the professional politicians and hand over the decisive control of things to a body of prominent citizens — whose return would be very largely due to prominence and public confidence won by other than political activities. However, all politicians who have not already arrived at prominence hate the idea, and so, since they constitute the body of political life, there is not the slightest chance of its ever becoming, except perhaps in name and with essential mutilations, the electoral method of any modern state. It can be left out of this present discussion, therefore, and so also can projects for a special Economic Parliament of trade unionists and employers and such-like collateral developments, or for elections by suddenly and fortuitously appointed jurymen instead of by entire constituencies. Such things can be attained only through political bodies, and though the politician of the existing type can do little or nothing with things when he has them in his hands, he is far too human to let them go out of his hands and legislate himself out of existence in favour of a different kind of ruler altogether — which is the admitted purpose of these novelties.

None of such schemes for making democracy more effective or more truly representative really touches the essential weakness of democracy, which is that the great mass of human beings are not sufficiently intelligent nor sufficiently interested to follow political issues at all. The representative body represents, for nine out of ten of its voters, a vacant mind. At an election the Sovereign People is roused to a temporary sporting interest, and votes according to panic or prejudice. It does not even vote according to its interests, because the ordinary citizen leads so narrow, limited, and purblind a life that he is unable to see — even in such matters as sound money or war — how politics may come home to him.

Every extension of the suffrage in Great Britain has brought in more masses of utterly indifferent people to vote. Half a century ago, when I was a child, the chief English newspapers gave almost verbatim reports of parliamentary debates and political speeches. Such a newspaper would not sell a hundred thousand copies to-day. Now, when every one has a vote, it is almost impossible to tell from the papers every one reads whether Parliament is in session. The more “democratic" democracy has become, the more complete has become its disregard of public affairs.

I put forward these by no means very exhilarating considerations in partial answer to the question with which this paper began. Political democracy is still apparently a going concern in America, least chastened of continents, but elsewhere there seems very little go left in it. And I do not think that we begin yet to realise the significance of those new associations of which Communism and Fascism are the best-known types, and the Kuomintang a less thoroughly understood example.

I find the Communist Party a very wonderful and instructive fact in my world. I want to be quite plain here in what I am writing; I have recently produced what I consider a very complete and destructive analysis of Communist dogma, and here, though it may seem egotistical, I am obliged to insist upon that fact. But a severely critical and sceptical attitude towards these doctrines in theory and action is one thing, and participation in the fear, hostility, and insane abuse with which those who hold them are treated, is quite another. Economic and social doctrine apart, I recognise very enviable and admirable qualities in the Communist Party both in Russia and in England. In Russia not one person in fifty is a member of the party; in all Great Britain I doubt if there are three thousand members. In our British way we try to believe that the Communist Party consists of unwashed and extremely bearded ruffians flourishing (God knows why they do it!), bombs. But really it is very largely composed of quite young people who give themselves to an astonishing extent to what they believe to be the social, political and economic rebirth of the world. They are, the most of them, animated by an intense, essentially religious passion. They toil mentally and make great sacrifices. They shape their lives to fit their faith. They study with an immense devotion what my critical conscience compels me to describe as dull, dogmatic, and misleading literature. They cooperate with one another with a remarkably willing discipline. Religious is the only word I know to describe their enthusiasm, and there is not a religious teacher in the world who would not gladly inoculate the youth of his congregation with the courage, spirit, and energy these Communists displayif he could get it separated from the mind and spirit of Marx. There they are, a numerically quite small organisation. And they hold Russia against all comers with the acquiescence of the general population. They stand up to quite lively persecutions in most Western countries. They go to prison and even, in some Eastern countries, to death very courageously.

And if you are loth to hear so much good of the Communist Party, perhaps the Fascists are more to your taste. I have already criticised them for stupidity, brutality, cruelty, injustice, and so forth. I have no respect for their idol, Mussolini. But there, too, in bands of no very considerable multitude, is a devotion and a spirit that can give over a great country into their hands.

I want to suggest that we may be only in the opening phase of this sort of political religiosity, both on the left side and on the right side, and that in its development lies the answer to the question of what is to come after democracy. There is an immense fund of unsatisfied seriousness in the young people of our Western communities to-day, and not only in the young. These movements of Communism and Fascism may be mere first attempts of that unsatisfied seriousness to make a new world out of our present disorders. What is called the decay of faith and the discrediting and fading of many old loyalties have not destroyed the serious type; they have merely let it loose for new experiments. These experiments seem to show already quite new possibilities of concentrated directive power.

How do most people come to use the term 'history'? (I mean 'history' in the sense in which we say of a book that it is about the history of Europe — not in the sense in which we say that it is a history of Europe.) They learn about it in school and at the University. They read books about it. They see what is treated in the books under the name 'history of the world' or 'the history of mankind', and they get used to looking upon it as a more or less definite series of facts. And these facts constitute, they believe, the history of mankind.

But we have already seen that the realm of facts is infinitely rich, and that there must be selection. According to our interests, we could, for instance, write about the history of art; or of language; or of feeding habits; or of typhus fever (see Zinsser's Rats, Lice, and History). Certainly, none of these is the history of mankind (nor all of them taken together). What people have in mind when they speak of the history of mankind is, rather, the history of the Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman empires, and so on, down to our own day. In other words: They speak about the history of mankind, but what they mean, and what they have learned about in school, is the history of political power.

There is no history of mankind, there is only an indefinite number of histories of all kinds of aspects of human life. And one of these is the history of political power. This is elevated into the history of the world. But this, I hold, is an offence against every decent conception of mankind. It is hardly better than to treat the history of embezzlement or of robbery or of poisoning as the history of mankind. For the history of power politics is nothing but the history of international crime and mass murder (including, it is true, some of the attempts to suppress them). This history is taught in schools, and some of the greatest criminals are extolled as its heroes.

But is there really no such thing as a universal history in the sense of a concrete history of mankind? There can be none. This must be the reply of every humanitarian, I believe, and especially that of every Christian. A concrete history of mankind, if there were any, would have to be the history of all men. It would have to be the history of all human hopes, struggles, and sufferings. For there is no one man more important than any other. Clearly, this concrete history cannot be written. We must make abstractions, we must neglect, select. But with this we arrive at the many histories; and among them, at that history of international crime and mass murder which has been advertised as the history of mankind.

But why has just the history of power been selected, and not, for example, that of religion, or of poetry? There are several reasons. One is that power affects us all, and poetry only a few. Another is that men are inclined to worship power. But there can be no doubt that the worship of power is one of the worst kinds of human idolatries, a relic of the time of the cage, of human servitude. The worship of power is born of fear, an emotion which is rightly despised. A third reason why power politics has been made the core of 'history' is that those in power wanted to be worshipped and could enforce their wishes. Many historians wrote under the supervision of the emperors, the generals and the dictators.

I know that these views will meet with the strongest opposition from many sides, including some apologists for Christianity; for although there is hardly anything in the New Testament to support this doctrine, it is often considered a part of the Christian dogma that God reveals Himself in history; that history has meaning; and that its meaning is the purpose of God. Historicism is thus held to be a necessary element of religion. But I do not admit this. I contend that this view is pure idolatry and superstition, not only from the point of view of a rationalist or humanist but from the Christian point of view itself.

What is behind this theistic historicism? With Hegel, it looks upon history — political history — as a stage, or rather, as a kind of lengthy Shakespearian play; and the audience conceive either the 'great historical personalities', or mankind in the abstract, as the heroes of the play. Then they ask, 'Who has written this play?' And they think that they give a pious answer when they reply, 'God'. But they are mistaken. Their answer is pure blasphemy, for the play was (and they know it) written not by God, but, under the supervision of generals and dictators, by the professors of history.

I do not deny that it is as justifiable to interpret history from a Christian point of view as it is to interpret it from any other point of view; and it should certainly be emphasized, for example, how much of our Western aims and ends, humanitarianism, freedom, equality, we owe to the influence of Christianity. But at the same time, the only rational as well as the only Christian attitude even towards the history of freedom is that we are ourselves responsible for it, in the same sense in which we are responsible for what we make of our lives, and that only our conscience can judge us and not our worldly success. The theory that God reveals Himself and His judgement in history is indistinguishable from the theory that worldly success is the ultimate judge and justification of our actions; it comes to the same thing as the doctrine that history will judge, that is to say, that future might is right; it is the same as what I have called 'moral futurism' [11]. To maintain that God reveals Himself in what is usually called 'history', in the history of international crime and of mass murder, is indeed blasphemy; for what really happens within the realm of human lives is hardly ever touched upon by this cruel and at the same time childish affair. The life of the forgotten, of the unknown individual man; his sorrows and his joys, his suffering and death, this is the real content of human experience down the ages. If that could be told by history, then I should certainly not say that it is blasphemy to see the finger of God in it. But such a history does not and cannot exist; and all the history which exists, our history of the Great and the Powerful, is at best a shallow comedy; it is the opera buffa played by the powers behind reality (comparable to Homer's opera buffa of the Olympian powers behind the scene of human struggles). It is what one of our worst instincts, the idolatrous worship of power, of success, has led us to believe to be real. And in this not even man-made, but man-faked 'history', some Christians dare to see the hand of God! They dare to understand and to know what He wills when they impute to Him their petty historical interpretations!...

An outstanding representative of this view is J. Macmurray, who, in The Clue to History, finds the essence of Christian teaching in historical prophecy, and who sees in its founder the discoverer of a dialectical law of 'human nature'. Macmurray holds [16] that, according to this law, political history must inevitably bring forth 'the socialist commonwealth of the world. The fundamental law of human nature cannot be broken ... It is the meek who will inherit the earth.' But this historicism, with its substitution of certainty for hope, must lead to a moral futurism. 'The law cannot be broken.' So we can be sure, on psychological grounds, that whatever we do will lead to the same result; that even fascism must, in the end, lead to that commonwealth; so that the final outcome does not depend upon our moral decision, and that there is no need to worry over our responsibilities. If we are told that we can be certain, on scientific grounds, that 'the last will be first and the first last', what else is this but the substitution of historical prophecy for conscience? Does not this theory come dangerously close (certainly against the intentions of its author) to the admonition: 'Be wise, and take to heart what the founder of Christianity tells you, for he was a great psychologist of human nature and a great prophet of history. Climb in time upon the band-waggon of the meek; for according to the inexorable scientific laws of human nature, this is the surest way to come out on top!' Such a clue to history implies the worship of success; it implies that the meek will be justified because they will be on the winning side. It translates Marxism, and especially what I have described as Marx's historicist moral theory, into the language of a psychology of human nature, and of religious prophecy. It is an interpretation which, by implication, sees the greatest achievement of Christianity in the fact that its founder was a forerunner of Hegel — a superior one, admittedly.

My insistence that success should not be worshipped, that it cannot be our judge, and that we should not be dazzled by it, and in particular, my attempts to show that in this attitude I concur with what I believe to be the true teaching of Christianity, should not be misunderstood. They are not intended to support the attitude of 'other-worldliness' which I have criticized in the last chapter [17]. Whether Christianity is other-worldly, I do not know, but it certainly teaches that the only way to prove one's faith is by rendering practical (and worldly) help to those who need it. And it is certainly possible to combine an attitude of the utmost reserve and even of contempt towards worldly success in the sense of power, glory, and wealth, with the attempt to do one's best in this world, and to further the ends one has decided to adopt with the clear purpose of making them succeed; not for the sake of success or of one's justification by history, but for their own sake.

A forceful support of some of these views, and especially of the incompatibility of historicism and Christianity, can be found in Kierkegaard's criticism of Hegel. Although Kierkegaard never freed himself entirely from the Hegelian tradition in which he was educated [18], there was hardly anybody who recognized more clearly what Hegelian historicism meant. 'There were', Kierkegaard wrote [19], 'philosophers who tried, before Hegel, to explain ... history. And providence could only smile when it saw these attempts. But providence did not laugh outright, for there was a human, honest sincerity about them. But Hegel — ! Here I need Homer's language. How did the gods roar with laughter! Such a horrid little professor who has simply seen through the necessity of anything and everything there is, and who now plays the whole affair on his barrel-organ: listen, ye gods of Olympus!' And Kierkegaard continues, referring to the attack [20] by the atheist Schopenhauer upon the Christian apologist Hegel: 'Reading Schopenhauer has given me more pleasure than I can express. What he says is perfectly true; and then — it serves the Germans right — he is as rude as only a German can be.' But Kierkegaard's own expressions are nearly as blunt as Schopenhauer's; for Kierkegaard goes on to say that Hegelianism, which he calls 'this brilliant spirit of putridity', is the 'most repugnant of all forms of looseness'; and he speaks of its 'mildew of pomposity', its 'intellectual voluptuousness', and its 'infamous splendour of corruption'.

And, indeed, our intellectual as well as our ethical education is corrupt. It is perverted by the admiration of brilliance, of the way things are said, which takes the place of a critical appreciation of the things that are said (and the things that are done). It is perverted by the romantic idea of the splendour of the stage of History on which we are the actors. We are educated to act with an eye to the gallery.

The whole problem of educating man to a sane appreciation of his own importance relative to that of other individuals is thoroughly muddled by these ethics of fame and fate, by a morality which perpetuates an educational system that is still based upon the classics with their romantic view of the history of power and their romantic tribal morality which goes back to Heraclitus; a system whose ultimate basis is the worship of power. Instead of a sober combination of individualism and altruism (to use these labels again [21]) — that is to say, instead of a position like 'What really matters are human individuals, but I do not take this to mean that it is I who matter very much' — a romantic combination of egoism and collectivism is taken for granted. That is to say, the importance of the self, of its emotional life and its 'self-expression', is romantically exaggerated; and with it, the tension between the 'personality' and the group, the collective. This takes the place of the other individuals, the other men, but does not admit of reasonable personal relations. 'Dominate or submit' is, by implication, the device of this attitude; either be a Great Man, a Hero wrestling with fate and earning fame ('the greater the fall, the greater the fame', says Heraclitus), or belong to 'the masses' and submit yourself to leadership and sacrifice yourself to the higher cause of your collective. There is a neurotic, an hysterical element in this exaggerated stress on the importance of the tension between the self and the collective, and I do not doubt that this hysteria, this reaction to the strain of civilization, is the secret of the strong emotional appeal of the ethics of hero-worship, of the ethics of domination and submission [22].

At the bottom of all this there is a real difficulty. While it is fairly clear (as we have seen in chapters 9 and 24) that the politician should limit himself to fighting against evils, instead of fighting for 'positive' or 'higher' values, such as happiness, etc., the teacher, in principle, is in a different position. Although he should not impose his scale of 'higher' values upon his pupils, he certainly should try to stimulate their interest in these values. He should care for the souls of his pupils. (When Socrates told his friends to care for their souls, he cared for them.) Thus there is certainly something like a romantic or aesthetic element in education, such as should not enter politics. But though this is true in principle, it is hardly applicable to our educational system. For it presupposes a relation of friendship between teacher and pupil, a relation which, as emphasized in chapter 24, each party must be free to end. (Socrates chose his companions, and they him.) The very number of pupils makes all this impossible in our schools. Accordingly, attempts to impose higher values not only become unsuccessful, but it must be insisted that they lead to harm — to something much more concrete and public than the ideals aimed at. And the principle that those who are entrusted to us must, before anything else, not be harmed, should be recognized to be just as fundamental for education as it is for medicine. 'Do no harm' (and, therefore, 'give the young what they most urgently need, in order to become independent of us, and to be able to choose for themselves') would be a very worthy aim for our educational system, and one whose realization is somewhat remote, even though it sounds modest. Instead, 'higher' aims are the fashion, aims which are typically romantic and indeed nonsensical, such as 'the full development of the personality'.

It is under the influence of such romantic ideas that individualism is still identified with egoism, as it was by Plato, and altruism with collectivism (i.e. with the substitution of group egoism for the individualist egoism). But this bars the way even to a clear formulation of the main problem, the problem of how to obtain a sane appreciation of one's own importance in relation to other individuals. Since it is felt, and rightly so, that we have to aim at something beyond our own selves, something to which we can devote ourselves, and for which we may make sacrifices, it is concluded that this must be the collective, with its 'historical mission'. Thus we are told to make sacrifices, and, at the same time, assured that we shall make an excellent bargain by doing so. We shall make sacrifices, it is said, but we shall thereby obtain honour and fame. We shall become 'leading actors', heroes on the Stage of History; for a small risk we shall gain great rewards. This is the dubious morality of a period in which only a tiny minority counted, and in which nobody cared for the common people. It is the morality of those who, being political or intellectual aristocrats, have a chance of getting into the textbooks of history. It cannot possibly be the morality of those who favour justice and equalitarianism; for historical fame cannot be just, and it can be attained only by a very few. The countless number of men who are just as worthy, or worthier, will always be forgotten.

It should perhaps be admitted that the Heraclitean ethics, the doctrine that the higher reward is that which only posterity can offer, may in some way perhaps be slightly superior to an ethical doctrine which teaches us to look out for reward now. But it is not what we need. We need an ethics which defies success and reward. And such an ethics need not be invented. It is not new. It has been taught by Christianity, at least in its beginnings. It is, again, taught by the industrial as well as by the scientific co-operation of our own day. The romantic historicist morality of fame, fortunately, seems to be on the decline. The Unknown Soldier shows it. We are beginning to realize that sacrifice may mean just as much, or even more, when it is made anonymously. Our ethical education must follow suit. We must be taught to do our work; to make our sacrifice for the sake of this work, and not for praise or the avoidance of blame. (The fact that we all need some encouragement, hope, praise, and even blame, is another matter altogether.) We must find our justification in our work, in what we are doing ourselves, and not in a fictitious 'meaning of history'.

History has no meaning, I contend. But this contention does not imply that all we can do about it is to look aghast at the history of political power, or that we must look on it as a cruel joke. For we can interpret it, with an eye to those problems of power politics whose solution we choose to attempt in our time. We can interpret the history of power politics from the point of view of our fight for the open society, for a rule of reason, for justice, freedom, equality, and for the control of international crime. Although history has no ends, we can impose these ends of ours upon it; and although history has no meaning, we can give it a meaning.

It is the problem of nature and convention which we meet here again [23]. Neither nature nor history can tell us what we ought to do. Facts, whether those of nature or those of history, cannot make the decision for us, they cannot determine the ends we are going to choose. It is we who introduce purpose and meaning into nature and into history. Men are not equal; but we can decide to fight for equal rights. Human institutions such as the state are not rational, but we can decide to fight to make them more rational. We ourselves and our ordinary language are, on the whole, emotional rather than rational; but we can try to become a little more rational, and we can train ourselves to use our language as an instrument not of self-expression (as our romantic educationists would say) but of rational communication [24]. History itself — I mean the history of power politics, of course, not the nonexistent story of the development of mankind — has no end nor meaning, but we can decide to give it both. We can make it our fight for the open society and against its enemies (who, when in a corner, always protest their humanitarian sentiments, in accordance with Pareto's advice); and we can interpret it accordingly. Ultimately, we may say the same about the 'meaning of life'. It is up to us to decide what shall be our purpose in life, to determine our ends [25].

This dualism of facts and decisions [26] is, I believe, fundamental. Facts as such have no meaning; they can gain it only through our decisions. Historicism is only one of many attempts to get over this dualism; it is born of fear, for it shrinks from realizing that we bear the ultimate responsibility even for the standards we choose. But such an attempt seems to me to represent precisely what is usually described as superstition. For it assumes that we can reap where we have not sown; it tries to persuade us that if we merely fall into step with history everything will and must go right, and that no fundamental decision on our part is required; it tries to shift our responsibility on to history, and thereby on to the play of demoniac powers beyond ourselves; it tries to base our actions upon the hidden intentions of these powers, which can be revealed to us only in mystical inspirations and intuitions; and it thus puts our actions and ourselves on the moral level of a man who, inspired by horoscopes and dreams, chooses his lucky number in a lottery [27]. Like gambling, historicism is born of our despair in the rationality and responsibility of our actions. It is a debased hope and a debased faith, an attempt to replace the hope and the faith that springs from our moral enthusiasm and the contempt for success by a certainty that springs from a pseudo-science; a pseudoscience of the stars, or of 'human nature', or of historical destiny.

Historicism, I assert, is not only rationally untenable, it is also in conflict with any religion that teaches the importance of conscience. For such a religion must agree with the rationalist attitude towards history in its emphasis on our supreme responsibility for our actions, and for their repercussions upon the course of history. True, we need hope; to act, to live without hope goes beyond our strength. But we do not need more, and we must not be given more. We do not need certainty. Religion, in particular, should not be a substitute for dreams and wish-fulfilment; it should resemble neither the holding of a ticket in a lottery, nor the holding of a policy in an insurance company. The historicist element in religion is an element of idolatry, of superstition.

This emphasis upon the dualism of facts and decisions determines also our attitude towards such ideas as 'progress'. If we think that history progresses, or that we are bound to progress, then we commit the same mistake as those who believe that history has a meaning that can be discovered in it and need not be given to it. For to progress is to move towards some kind of end, towards an end which exists for us as human beings.

'History' cannot do that; only we, the human individuals, can do it; we can do it by defending and strengthening those democratic institutions upon which freedom, and with it progress, depends. And we shall do it much better as we become more fully aware of the fact that progress rests with us, with our watchfulness, with our efforts, with the clarity of our conception of our ends, and with the realism [28] of their choice.

Instead of posing as prophets we must become the makers of our fate. We must learn to do things as well as we can, and to look out for our mistakes. And when we have dropped the idea that the history of power will be our judge, when we have given up worrying whether or not history will justify us, then one day perhaps we may succeed in getting power under control. In this way we may even justify history, in our turn. It badly needs a justification.

-- The Open Society and Its Enemies, by Karl R. Popper

If once we get control of our present obsession about votes, we may discover that it is not necessary to convert a majority of the “electorate" before a new world begins.

20 March, 1927.  
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Re: The Way the World Is Going: Guesses & Forecasts of The Y

Postby admin » Thu Oct 10, 2019 12:03 am


A Lecture delivered at the Sorbonne on March 15th, 1927

In the face of this audience, in the presence of so many distinguished men and women, I feel in a very apologetic state to-night.

I am not accustomed to make public addresses. I am not used to being entertained in this flattering fashion. But the invitation I received to come here was so tactfully and charmingly conveyed, and did me so much honour, that I could scarcely do otherwise than obey and come.

I come, if you will permit me to say so, less for the great compliment that your attention does me personally than because this gives me an opportunity of saluting France, the custodian of the world’s artistic conscience, the exponent of intellectual freedom, the mighty mother of valiant and liberal thought for all mankind. The name of the Sorbonne is a very magical name to every intellectual worker, and I do not disguise from myself that to speak here to-night is the highest distinction that is ever likely to fall to me.

You receive me to-night as a man of letters. And as a man of letters I know I am not very easy to define. I am something of a romancer, something of a novelist, something of a publicist. I have written essays and social speculations. I have stolen and dressed myself up in the plumage of the historian. I have written schoolbooks and a scientific handbook. For my own part, I fall back upon Journalist as the least misleading description of my use in the world.

But let me disabuse your minds of any idea that it is out of modesty or as a pose of modesty that I call myself a Journalist and my very miscellaneous mass of work Journalism, and that I am conceding a superiority in kind and quality, as an iron pot might concede a superiority to a porcelain vessel, to the novelist, the romancer, the social philosopher or the political essayist. I am not doing that. I am not raising that sort of issue. I am not thinking of rank and order and precedence. What I am doing is trying to express, in as bright and hard a manner as possible, a very definite view of the value of all literary effort, all literary and artistic effort. I am trying to express, in so far as my own activities go, my sense of the temporary nature, the transitory and personal nature, of every statement made by science and philosophy and of every beauty revealed by art.

If I find any difference between my mind and the minds of most of the people I meet, it is that my perception of time is rather more detached than is usual from the dimensions of the individual life; that my mind is, as it were, a small-scale map of wide range; that I think with less detail and in longer stretches; that the race process as a whole has come home to me with unusual vividness, and that future things and our relationship to future things have an abnormal reality for me. And consequently it is natural for me to think that the man of letters, the artist, the scientific worker and the philosopher live first and foremost for their own time and for the times immediately following their own, and that thereafter their real value diminishes.

Tradition and educational pressure may mask this process to a certain extent, but only mask it. We belong to our own times and have significance only in relation to our own times. And this is as true of those we call "Immortals,” of Homer, of Shakespeare, of Michael Angelo or Leonardo or Voltaire, in the measure of their scale, as it is of you and me who are thinking and discussing here to-night. Great or little, we work, we serve our purpose, we pass. Into the night or into the museum of antiquities at last go one and all. Art, poesy, philosophy, literature, are not permanent things. They change in their methods, their function, their essential nature. . . .

And when I say that, I do not belittle them, but glorify them. They are living processes like ourselves who breed and pass, and not dead things like crystals or cut gems to be treasured for ever in the vaults of the classical temple. All of them but the mere bric-a-brac I would sweep into one living mortality as Journalism in its widest sense. The picture, the music, the book, the research that does not arise out of actual current things — and does not bear upon what we are doing or what we intend to do — does not in reality exist. It is a phantom. It is a pretension. It is Nothing. Science, art, literature, philosophy, all alike record Humanity’s impression of the present and its attempt to adjust itself for a future. They express the thought and embody the will — the growing changing thought, the developing will — of mankind. They are not a beautiful excrescence upon human life; not mere pearls secreted by the effort and suffering of mankind; they are the very core of the life of mankind — its chief directive function.

Now, after this much of self-introduction, I will put before you certain speculations that occupy me very much. I put them before you not as something thought out and presented to you in a finished state, but as something about which I find myself greatly exercised — something that may evoke kindred operations going on in your minds also, and so interest you this evening.

I propose to launch a generalisation, a generalisation about the probable forms of expression prevalent now and in the immediate future — expression in political, social, literary and artistic life. I am going to suggest that we are in the beginning of an age whose broad characteristics may be conveyed some day by calling it The Age of Democracy under Revision. That title I have chosen by way of defining its relation to the age which has been drawing to its close under our eyes: the Age of Democracy Ascendent.

Let us begin by exploring common ground. It would be easy to find quite a large number of intelligent and well-instructed people who would agree that the sixteenth century saw the germination, the seventeenth and the eighteenth the birth struggles, the nineteenth the rise and prevalence of something called Modern Democracy. Something not merely political, but social, and profoundly differentiating the literature and art of this time — quite as much as the political life — from those of any previous period. That Ascendency of Democracy has culminated; and like some wave that breaks upon a beach, its end follows close upon its culmination.

Now what do we mean by this word Democracy? We are apt to say that such words as Democracy and Socialism may mean anything or nothing. But the truth is, that, in spite of many variations and convolutions, both these words retain very definite meanings indeed. One might compare them to little bags given to a multitude of children to collect anything they liked from a pebble beach. In such bags, you might find at the end of the day a great variety of things; in no two bags would you find exactly the same things, and yet for all that in nearly all the bags would you find very much the same content.

I suppose we should, nearly all of us, be in agreement that what we meant by Democracy — in the modern sense — was expressed morally by the statement:

All human beings are of equal value in the sight of God;

or legally:

All men are equal before the law;

or practically;

One man's money is as good as another's.

This implies a repudiation of caste, of inherent rank and function, of all privileges and all fixed subordinations. It is equalitarian or rebellious. And it is mildly paradoxical in the fact that, by insisting upon the importance of all individualities, it tends to restrain the exaltation of particular individuals, and by exalting all individuals to an equal level, it subordinates all individuals to the mass.

The democratic idea is no doubt very deeply rooted in the competitive and insurgent heart of man. It is implicit in Christianity and in Islam. But it was only in the sixteenth century, with the progressive decay of Feudalism, that it began to be effective in the literary, political and artistic expression of mankind. If you reflect, I think you will agree that its appearance was everywhere associated with the breakdown of outworn or outpaced systems, with processes of release and liberation, and generally also with processes of disintegration. Democracy to many minds will also involve the challenging and repudiation of authority. Some Catholic Democrats may question that, but I believe I shall have the general feeling with me in accepting that relaxation also as an aspect of Democracy.

Now as Democracy became ascendent in our world, its spirit produced new forms in political life, in literature, in art, in music. Let us consider these distinctive forms.

In politics it produced government by elected representative assemblies — elected by an ever-widening constituency of voters. We have Chambers of Representatives, Parliaments, spread throughout the world, and we have seen the franchise extend until manhood, and at last womanhood, suffrage seems everywhere in sight. It is strange to us nowadays to imagine a fully organised country without a constitution, a Parliament and periodic appeals to the mass of voters to endorse an elected Government periodically replaceable. Yet six hundred years ago such a way of managing public affairs would have seemed fantastic. The Ancient World knew nothing of such devices. There were assemblies then, but not representative assemblies. The Greek democracies and Republican Rome assembled all their citizens. Even countries like France and England before the sixteenth century which had Parliaments of a sort, did not conceive of them for a moment as governing bodies and kept the elected element in a minor position. I doubt if many of us fully realise the significance of the fact that the current political methods and assumptions of the world to-day, prevalent from China to Peru, would have been almost inconceivable even to highly intelligent human beings until twelve or fifteen generations ago.

So much for the political expression of Democracy. In literature the democratic spirit found its natural vehicle in the Novel. That too was new and distinctive. The tale, the story of adventures, mankind has had always — most usually of kings, princes and heroic leaders — but it was only with the ascent of Democracy that stories of characters, histories of common individual lives detached from politics, detached from any sense of social function, getting loose from any subordination or any responsibility, rose towards dominance in literature. At the very outset of the ascent of Democracy came the great master Cervantes with his “Don Quixote,” scoffing at aristocracy, scoffing at privileged responsibility, mocking at the final futility of chivalrous mastery, putting his wisest words into the mouth of a clown and letting the flour mills of the common bread-eater overthrow his knight in armour. As modern Democracy rose to its climax, the novel rose to its climax. The common characteristic of almost all the great novels of the nineteenth century, and up to our own time, is that they represent great crowds of individuals who follow trades, professions and so forth, and who have either no public function or, if they have a public function, are not so differentiated by it that it is of any serious importance to the story and the values of the novel. The crowd of individuals and its interplay have become everything. Great ideas that bind people together into any form of collective life are disregarded. Great religious ideas, great political ideas and developments are not there in any living, fermenting, debatable form — are even challenged and forbidden by the critics as having no place there. Consider Balzac, Dickens, Turgeniev, Zola, and suchlike representative giants of this closing age. You think at once of a picture of humanity like a market-place, like a fair, like the high-road to anywhere on a busy day. When political life appears, it appears just as any other sort of life. Here is a novel about elections and their humours, and here is one about peasants or fishermen. Just different scenery and costumes for the common story.

It strikes one at first as paradoxical that a period in which the exaltation of the individual has tended to make every one a voter, a fractional sovereign of the whole world, should lead in the literary expression of the time to the disappearance, so to speak, of the whole world in a crowd of people. But the paradox involves no real inconsistency. What is everybody's business is nobody’s business. The literature of the period of Democracy Ascendent displays what its political developments mask only very thinly — that Modern Democracy is not a permanent form of political and social life, but a phase of immense dissolution.

I think it would be comparatively easy to call the drama of the last three centuries to confirm the evidence of the novel. With the beginning of the period under consideration the Miracle Play which gave you Everyman and related him to God and Heaven and Hell gave place to Falstaff and his jolly companions, to the jealousy of Othello and the social aspirations of Monsieur Jourdain. If we turn to painting or to music we find all over this period the same effect of release — if you like — detachment, anyhow, from broad constructive conceptions and any sort of synthesis. There was very little detached painting in the old world. It was a part of something else. It decorated a building, it subserved a religious or political as well as a decorative purpose. If paintings were ever detachable, it was that they might be carried from a studio to an altar or a palace elsewhere. But with the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries painting became more and more liberated, said good-bye to the altar-piece and the palace and set out upon a life of its own. Now our painters are pure anarchists. They paint what pleases them for the sake of painting. They paint with a total disregard of any collective reality, and they are extremely offended when we build our houses with insufficient accommodation for their bright irrelevant observations upon the beauty of this and that.

So too music has broken loose. In the old world it was relevant and generally subordinate. I can imagine nothing more astonishing to a revenant from the ancient to our present world — not even a general election! — than a visit to a large concert-hall during the performance, let us say, of Debussy’s L’Apres-midi d’un Faune” or Ravel’s “Septette,” — this gathering of fortuitous people with no common function, to listen to music which, apart from its beauty, has no sort of collective meaning, no social object at all.

So far I have been attempting to make a case for the assertion that a consideration of the chief forms of human expression during the past age enables us to see in all of them Democracy as a great process of loosening of bonds and general disintegration. But that loosening and disintegration were not universal.

With the emancipation of Man's higher activities from ecclesiastical control, the distinction between the religious and the secular life has gradually established itself. That this should happen was inevitable. Mechanical obedience being of the essence of supernatural religion, the secularising of human life became absolutely necessary if any vital progress was to be made. The Church patronised art, music, and the drama so far as they served her purposes. When they outgrew those purposes, in response to the expansive forces of human nature, she treated them as secular and let them go their several ways. In the interests of theology she tried to keep physical science in leading-strings; but when, after a bitter struggle, science broke loose from her control, she treated it too as secular and let it go its way.

Let us see what this distinction involves. As salvation is to be achieved by obedience to the Church and in no other way, it follows that in all those spheres of life which are outside the jurisdiction of the Church (except, of course, so far as questions of "morals" may arise in connection with them), Man's conduct and general demeanour are supposed to have no bearing on his eternal destiny. This is the view of the secular life which is taken by the Church. And not by the Church alone. As, little by little, the Institution - be it Church, or Sect, or Code, or Scripture - which claims to be the sole accredited agent of the Eternal God, relaxes its hold upon the ever-expanding life of Humanity, all those developments of human nature which cease to be amenable to its control come to be regarded as mundane, as unspiritual, as carnal, as matters with which God has no concern.

Were this view of the secular life confined to those who call themselves religious, no great harm would be done. Unfortunately, the secular life, which is under the influence of the current conception of God as one who holds no intercourse with Man except through certain accredited agents, is ready to acquiesce in the current estimate of itself as godless, and to accept as valid the distinction between the religious life and its own. Hence comes a general lowering of Man's aims. As the secular life is content to regard itself as godless, and so deprives itself of any central and unifying aim, it is but natural that success in each of its many branches should come to be regarded as an end in itself. It is but natural, to take examples at random, that the artist should follow art for art's sake, that the man of science should deify positive knowledge, that the statesman should regard political power as intrinsically desirable, that the merchant and the manufacturer should live to make money, and that the highest motive which appeals to all men alike should be the desire to bulk large in the eyes of their fellow-men. Even the ardent reformer, whose enthusiasm makes him unselfish, pursues the ideal to which he devotes himself, as an end in itself, and makes no attempt to define or interpret it in terms of its relation to that supreme and central ideal which he ought to regard as the final end of human endeavour. When we remind ourselves, further, that secularism, equally with supernaturalism, tends to identify "Nature" with lower nature - in other words, with the material side of the Universe and the carnal side of Man's being, - we shall realise how easy it is for the secular life, once it has lost, through its divorce from religion, the tonic stimulus of a central aim, to sink, without directly intending to do so, into the mire of materialism, - a materialism of conduct as well as of thought.

But if the loss to the secular life, from its compulsory despiritualisation, is great, the loss to religion, from the secularisation of so much of Man's rational activity, is greater still. The very distinction between the secular and the religious life is profoundly irreligious, in that it rests on the tacit assumption that there is no unity, no central aim, in human life; and the fact that official religion is ready to acquiesce in the distinction, is ready, in other words, to make a compromise with its enemy "the world", is a proof that it is secretly conscious of its own failing power, and is even beginning to despair of itself. As it resigns itself to this feeling (as yet perhaps but dimly realised), its reasons for entertaining it must needs grow stronger. The progressive enlargement of the sphere of Man's secular activities is accompanied, step for step, by the devitalisation of the idea of the Divine. What kind of intercourse can God be supposed to hold with Man if the latter is to be left to his own devices in what he must needs regard as among the more important aspects of his life, - in his commercial and industrial enterprises, in his art, in his literature, in his study of Nature's laws, in his mastery of Nature's forces, in his pursuit of positive truth and practical good? As in these matters Man frees himself, little by little, from the yoke of supernaturalism, which he has been accustomed to identify with religion, his formal conception of his relation to God and of the part that God plays in his life - the conception that is defined and elucidated for him by religious "orthodoxy" - becomes of necessity more irrational, more mechanical, more unreal, more repugnant to his better nature and to the higher developments of his "common-sense". The tendency to exalt the letter of what is spoken or written, at the expense of the spirit, is as much of the essence of ecclesiasticism as of legalism. "Si dans les règles du salut le fond l'emporterait sur la forme, ce serait la ruine du sacerdoce". And, as a matter of experience, the hair-splitting puerilities of Pharisaism under the Old Dispensation have been matched, and more than matched, in the spheres of ritual, of dogmatic theology, and of casuistical morality, under the New. As Man gradually shifts the centre of gravity of his being from the religious to the secular side of his life, this puerile element in religion - the element of ultra-formalism, of irrationality, of unreality - tends, like a morbid growth, to draw to itself the vital energies of what was once a healthy organism but is now degenerating into a "body of death". If, in these days of absorbing secular activity, Man continues to tolerate the theories and practices of the religious experts, the reason is - apart from the influence of custom and tradition and of his respect for venerable and "established" institutions - that they are things which he has neither time nor inclination to investigate, and which he can therefore afford to tolerate as being far removed from what is vital and central in his life. I am told that the Catholic Church holds, in the case of a dying man, "that the eternal fate of the soul, for good or for evil, may depend upon the reception or the non-reception of absolution, and even of extreme unction". That the truly appalling conception of God which is implicit in this sentence should still survive, that it should not yet have been swept out of existence by the outraged common-sense and good feeling of Humanity, is a proof of the immense indifference with which the Western world, absorbed as it is in secular pursuits, regards religion.

It may indeed be doubted if men have ever been so non-religious as are at the present day the inhabitants of our highly-civilised and thoroughly-Christianised West. At any rate the absence of a central aim in human life has never been so complete as it is now. Most men are content to drift through life, toiling for the daily bread which will enable them to go on living, yet neither knowing nor caring to know why they are alive. There is a minority of stronger and more resolute men who devote life with unwavering energy to the pursuit of what I may call private and personal ends. Thus the man of business lives for the acquisition of riches; the scholar and the scientist, of knowledge; the statesman, of power; the speculator, of excitement; the libertine, of pleasure; and so forth. Few are they who ever dream of devoting life as a whole to the pursuit of an end which is potentially attainable by all men, and which is therefore worthy of Man as Man. The idea of there being such an end has indeed been almost wholly lost sight of. Those among us who are of larger discourse than the rest and less absorbed by personal aims, ask themselves mournfully: What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? Is life worth living? and other such questions; and being unable to answer them to their satisfaction, or get them answered, resign themselves to a state of quasi-stoical endurance. That religion cannot be expected to answer these questions - the very questions which it is its right and its duty to answer - seems to be taken for granted by all who ask them. Religion, as it is now conceived of, is a thing for priests and ministers, for churches and chapels, for Sundays and Saints'-days, for the private devotions of women and children, for educational debates in Parliament, for the first lesson on the time-table (9.5 to 9.45 a.m.) of a Public Elementary School. The "unbeliever" is eager to run a tilt against religion. The "non-believer" is content to ignore it. The "believer" is careful to exclude it from nine-tenths of his life. It is to this pass that the gospel of salvation by machinery has brought the most "progressive" part of the human race.

-- What Is and What Might Be: A Study of Education in General and Elementary Education in Particular, by Edmond Holmes

Now I would point out that in certain fields synthesis is so necessary, so inherent, that it has put up a very successful fight against the solvent tendencies of Democracy.

In certain fields the ascent of Democracy has not meant dissolution. No doubt the whole world of modern science became possible, and could only become possible, through the immense mental releases of ascendent Democracy. But while in the realms of political, literary and artistic expression Democracy meant fragmentation and reduction to unorganised masses, in this newer world of science the onset of Democracy was accompanied by synthesis of the most extensive sort. The development of science in the past three centuries has been diametrically different from the political, literary and artistic development of the same period. In the preceding ages, when everything else was organised and relevant, science was a mere miscellany of disconnected facts. With the release of the human mind from authority, science began to be systematic and coherent. Release from established traditions and precedences meant in the world of politics, literature and art, limitless freedom. In science it meant subjugation to experimental verification and the logical consistency of fact with fact. So while the broad visible history of the Age of Democracy so far has been one of release, escape, go-as-you-please: less conspicuous in laboratories and faculties and books and classes — but in the end infinitely more significant — has been the growth of one consistent vision of reality to which all things must be referred, in which the moods of a man are made to march with chemical changes, and the structure of the smallest atom is brought into relation with the physics of the remotest star. To that release of synthetic forces I shall presently return.

Next let me point out that this period of the ascent of Democracy has by no means been a period of easy, undisputed ascent. Nor has it been merely a struggle against kings and aristocracies, privileges and advantages, ancient traditions and old authority. The proposition that any man is as important as any man has come hard against certain mental and material realities. History for the last hundred years or so has been largely the story of that collision. This assertion of human equality has come against the severest stresses at the boundaries where language meets language, and at the geographical or social frontiers of dissimilar races. There the common man, who has been willing to break down all the boundaries between himself and his superiors, discovers deep instinctive dispositions to call a halt and draw the line. His mind is invaded by an exaggerated sense of difference. He develops rivalries, suspicions, antagonisms. The Age of Democracy has also been the Age of Nationalism. Never in the whole history of mankind have national and racial antagonisms been so acute and conscious, so massive, powerful and dangerous, as they have become during the ascent of Democracy. And yet that is entirely inconsistent with the larger and completer aspirations of Democracy, which have insisted always that there shall be no distinctions of class or creed or race. One of the most human and interesting things to watch at the present time is the struggle of the Labour parties in the European democracies against their ingrained nationalist feelings and their belligerent patriotism. And still more edifying are the fluctuations of the Labour movement in such countries as Australia and South Africa with regard to yellow and brown immigration and the black vote.

But nationalism is not the greatest force that Modern Democracy has evoked against itself in its ascent. Far more fundamental is the synthetic drive in economic life, the enormous material pressure making for the replacement of individual and small competitive businesses by great and unifying enterprises, not merely in manufactures but in the production of such staples as coal, oil, iron and steel, cotton, food substances and fundamental chemical products. The small man and the medium-sized business are pushed aside by highly organised and often quite scientifically organised concerns.

Here again the paradoxical aspect of Democracy reappears. These great crystallisations of business — so large as to become at last monopolies — are plainly due to the releases of Democracy, the freedom of science, invention, experiment and enterprise, the lack of control and restriction the ascent of Democracy has involved. But just as plainly do these crystallisations run counter to the more intimate feeling of Democracy that every man is as good as every man, that every man should be his own master and live his life in his own fashion after his own heart. Essential to the life and success of these big businesses is an intricate system of specialisation and subordination of functions, and great freedoms of action for the executives. Most of those engaged in working them must be simply employed persons, and there must be great inequalities of authority and initiative between one man and another. In America a sort of reconciliation between this democratic reality of economic synthesis and democratic ideals of equality has been attempted by Anti-Trust legislation, and in England there is a small but delightfully logical movement for what is called the Distributive State, which is to cut up big businesses periodically and hand the bleeding fragments back to the common man. But the main expression of this conflict between synthesis and analysis in the democratic age has been the struggle for and against Socialism. For there is scarcely any form of Socialism that does not fall within the definition of an attempt to take the general economic life out of whatever hands control it at present and hand it over to the direction either of representatives elected by the workers, or of politicians elected by the voters of the entire community. Socialism is the attempt to democratise economic life as political life has already been democratised. And the final practical objection to Socialism, partial or general — the objection that has usually carried the argument — has always been this: that politicians and elected people are not good enough for the job.

That brings me to the great conspicuous fact of our present time, to what I may call the arrest, the pause, in the advance of political Democracy — to the fact that now, and since the War, there has been a growing distrust of and discontent with the politicians and the political methods evolved by Parliamentary Democracy.

In two great Latin countries we have seen politicians and parliamentary institutions thrust aside with no signs of popular regret. In Russia a parliamentary republic appeared and vanished like a dream and gave place to a government by an organised association of a quite unprecedented pattern, the Communist Party, making only the slightest concessions to the representative idea. In China we see another extraordinary organisation, the Kuomintang, consolidating the whole country with tremendous vigour in the face of the discredited parliamentarianism of Peking.
I will not discuss nor even raise other instances to enforce my argument that the magic has gone out of the method of government by general elections.

I have said enough, I think, to pose my essential question. Is the process of ascendent Democracy played out? Or is it going on upon the old lines, in spite of these appearances? Or is it perhaps entering upon a new phase, a phase so different as practically to open a new age in the story of human experience? Are not its synthetic releases overtaking and mastering its tendency to fragmentation?

I have already betrayed, even in my title, the answer I am disposed to give to these questions, which is that Democracy is entering upon a phase of revision in which Parliaments and parliamentary bodies and political life as we know it to-day are destined to disappear. And that with the disappearance will come profound changes in all our methods of expression, indeed in all our lives.

For a number of generations the democratic process ruling the world has meant nothing but release, enfranchisement for freedom, the breaking down of controls and restraints and obstacles. There has been a worldwide detachment of individuals from codes and controls, subjugations and responsibilities, functions and duties. I suggest that this process of dissolution is at an end, and that mankind is faced — is challenged — by the need for reorganisation and reorientation, political and social and intellectual, quite beyond the power of the negligent common voter and his politicians and the happy-go-lucky education and literature on which our minds are fed.

Let me state three great interrelated problems that have been facing mankind since the war, and let me remind you how futile so far have been the attempts of our modern democratic Governments and communities to find solutions, to produce any hope of solutions, for these problems.

Foremost of these three in our consciousness is the problem of war. I need not, before such an audience as this, dilate upon the cruelty, the horror, the sheer destructiveness into which the war process, equipped by modern science, necessarily develops. I will not talk of air bombardment, nor of poison gas and germs, nor of the practical abolition of the immunity of the non-combatant, nor of the complete economic and social disorganisation that would probably ensue upon another group of wars. I take it that upon these matters you are of the same mind as myself. I take it that an enormous majority of humanity now wants no more war.

Yet consider how feeble have been the efforts of any Government since 1918 to set up more than the flimsiest paper barriers against war. The sabres still rattle in Europe.
The big guns are moved from position to position. In 1910 war hung over Europe, over the world, like a cliff we knew must fall. And it fell. Here and now, are we any safer? For what were these politicians elected? Little conferences, little junketings, little demonstrations of amiability — like tying back the cliff with coloured cotton. Meanwhile the foundries go on making tanks, battleships, guns, all the world over.

And second of these three problems Modern Democracy has no power to handle, is the monetary question. If anything is plain, if there is anything upon which every one must be agreed, it is that for the proper working of contemporary civilisation a stable money basis of world-wide validity is essential. Just so far as money is unstable, so far does speculation undermine and replace sound business enterprise and honest work for profit. For eight years now we have seen the exchanges of the world dance together. We have seen the effort for economic recuperation crippled and deflected by this drunkard dance of money. Each democratic Government has pursued its own policy according to its lights and apparent interests. The bankers and the financiers have performed their mysterious operations in obscurity. And nowhere, in any Democracy, has the mass of voters shown the slightest understanding of or ability to grasp the processes which threw them out of employment, made their poor savings evaporate, and snatched the necessaries of life out of their reach.

But the military obsession with its war threat and the monetary tangle are, so to speak, merely complications of the more general riddle before mankind, which is that, chiefly through changes in methods of transport and the advance of science and invention, economic life has become world-wide and a certain economic unity is being imposed willy-nilly upon the globe. A vast change of scale is happening in economic life — a vast extension of range. So that the method of the small individual manufacturer and trader, the method even of the moderate-sized competing company, the method even of national groups, tend to be superseded, in the case of all our staple supplies, by combinations upon a universal scale. The master problem before us all, before our race, is how to achieve this world economic unity, how to produce a system of world controls with as little blind experiment as possible, without the sacrifice of countless millions of whole generations, in the throes of this inevitable reconstruction. How to establish enough political unity in the world to ensure peace; how to establish enough political unity to save industry and trade from becoming the mere preliminaries to a gamble with the exchange; how to establish enough political unity to control and direct the distribution of raw products, employment and manufactured goods about the earth — that in brief is the present task before the human intelligence. And we have no Governments, we have nothing in the world able to deal with this trinity of problems, this three-headed Sphinx which has waylaid and now confronts mankind.

Now the sense of the inadequacy of modern democratic Governments for the task before them grows upon us all. What is going to be attempted, what is going to be done in the matter? We are all familiar nowadays with various projects of electoral reform. Some, such as the Referendum, aim merely at restraining and paralysing Governments. Others, such as the proposal to have smaller representative bodies of members elected by large constituencies by the methods of proportional representation by the simple transferable vote, would no doubt give a more free and vigorous assembly, and go far to abolish political parties and the hack professional politician. But none of these electoral reform projects go to the root of the trouble with Modern Democracy, which is the indifference, ignorance and incapacity of the common man towards public affairs.

We have to recognise more plainly than is generally admitted to-day that the ordinary voter does not care a rap for his vote. He does not connect it with the idea of the world at large, nor use it to express any will or purpose whatever about the general conduct of things. I have already called attention to the fact that the novel, the characteristic literary form of Modern Democracy, and the modern drama ignore all comprehensive political and religious ideas. Thereby they display current reality with the utmost veracity. These forms, the novel and the play, have so far embodied no new concepts and directions about life as a whole, they have simply presented life at large released from preexisting concepts and directions. Our modern democratic Governments reveal as clearly that the onset of Modern Democracy did not mean a transfer of power from the few to the many, but a disappearance of power from the world. The vote is an instrument of defence, and not a constructive tool. Faced with gigantic constructive needs of ever-increasing urgency, political Democracy fails. It cannot produce inventive and original Governments; it cannot produce resolute Governments; it cannot produce understanding, far-thinking Governments. Its utmost act of will is the capricious or peevish dismissal of Governments by a general election.

For a century or more it has worked well that the world should be under-governed and under-organised. In that liberty science has won its way, established itself in a world-wide system of research and record, gained an invincible inertia. Music has achieved the most glorious developments, painting risen to unprecedented levels of technique, literature learnt a new fearlessness, and industry and commerce have tried and expanded a thousand subtle and huge combinations no official control would ever have permitted. The mere break-down of the cramping systems of the past, the escape from traditional privilege and authority, was enough to permit the great expansion of life that has gone on since the sixteenth century. But there is a limit to unguided and uncontrolled expansion, and at that limit we seem to have arrived with a war threat, a monetary instability and a chronic conflict between the organic growth of economic processes and the desire of the worker for freedom and happiness, which none of the Governments in the world seem to have the necessary initiative and vigour to meet.

We need now more definite direction and government in human affairs, on a scale and of a quality commensurate with the three mighty problems our race has to face. It is idle to talk of returning to the little royalties, aristocracies and so forth of the pre-democratic past. Are there any signs of a new, more decisive and more vigorously constructive form of government in our world? I submit there are, and on these signs I rest my anticipations of the Age of Democracy under Revision that is dawning upon us. Coming events cast their shadows before, and a keen eye can detect a number of shadows of what is coming. But the two shadows to which I would particularly draw your attention are the Communist Party and Fascism.

Let me be perfectly clear upon one point here. I am an unsparing hostile critic of Marxist Communism. I have a strong dislike for many aspects of Fascism — including particularly its head. May I insist upon that? There is a mental disease about called “Seeing red," and I want to avoid any manifestations of that to-night. I am not sympathetic with Communist ideas. In my latest book, “The World of William Chissold," you will find a most careful, elaborate and destructive criticism of Marxism, and my treatment of Lenin has brought down upon me the violent vituperation of Mr. Trotsky. Quite as fervently have I plunged into conflict with Fascism. I am anti-Communist and anti-Fascist. But what I am discussing now is not the mental content of these two movements, but their quality and spirit as organisations.

Their quality and spirit as organisations. , . . They are both mainly composed of youngish people. They are so far democratic that they are open to any one who will obey their disciplines and satisfy their requirements. Some of my hearers may know something of the intimate lives of young Communists or young Fascists. The movement dominates the entire life. The individual gives himself — or herself — to the movement in a spirit essentially religious. It enters into the life and into the conscience as few religions do nowadays. Communism indeed claims that it is a complete substitute for religion. Everything else is to be subordinated to the ends of the movement. With the Fascist these are the supposed good of the Italian community; with the Communist they are the supposed good of the whole world. These movements began as voluntary movements of young people, so concerned about public affairs as willingly to give themselves to the sacrifices and dangers — and adventure — involved. I submit it is a fact of profound significance that Fascism could attract enough vigorous young people to capture and hold and govern Italy, and that the Communist Party, with perhaps a hundred thousand members or so in Russia, could seize upon the ruins of that war-broken land and hold it against all comers.

One has to admit, in spite of many assertions to the contrary, that neither in Italy nor Russia do the masses of the population seem to resent the dictatorship of these associations. No vote famine has broken out in these disenfranchised countries. You do not find haggard peasants wandering about in search of a polling booth. So that our assertion that the average common man, the common voter, does not care a rap about the commonweal and his vote, has to be supplemented by the fact that there is an active-minded minority capable of so vivid an interest in the direction of public affairs as to make the most complete sacrifices to see things going in the way it considers right. This is most conspicuous in Russia and Italy, but in China students’ associations, closely similar in character, are taking possession of the larger half of the country, and in Japan and many other countries kindred bodies of mentally energetic types are playing an increasingly important role in public life. In the nineteenth century such types were either not stimulated to activity, or their energies were spent upon parliamentary politics or diverted in other directions. Now all over the world a certain section of them is taking its activities out of parliamentary affairs and setting itself into vigorous competition with the parliamentary system.

You see, I am building my expectation of a new phase in human affairs upon the belief that there is a profoundly serious minority in the mass of our generally indifferent species. I cannot understand the existence of any of the great religions, I cannot explain any fine and grave constructive process in history, unless there is such a serious minority amidst our confusions, They are the salt of the earth, these people capable of devotion and of living lives for remote and mighty ends — and, unless the composition of our species has altered, they are as numerous as they have ever been. I see them less and less satisfied and used by existing loyalties and traditional faiths. I see them ready to crystallise about any constructive idea powerful enough to grip their minds. Is it not reasonable then to hold that these associations, these concentrations of mentally energetic types for political ends, these revelations of politico-religious fervour in the community — considerable as they are even now — are the mere beginnings of much greater things? The breakdown of the old loyalties and the old faiths in the past age has released this great fund of effort and synthetic possibility for new applications. And over against it we have the need for world peace — which can be achieved only by some sort of political unity — and for social adjustment, which seems only possible through the comprehensible handling of world economic affairs as one great system.

More than twenty years ago, in a book called “A Modern Utopia,” when there was not a fact on earth to support me, I sketched a World State ruled by a self-devoted organisation of volunteers. To-day I can recall that conception of a future society and I can appeal to Russia, China, Italy and much that is astir everywhere, to substantiate that possibility. I have spoken of the youth in these two specimen movements I have cited, but it is not merely the young who will be found willing to orient their dispersed lives to great aims and comprehensive ideas. The pain of aimlessness and ineffectiveness can be aroused at any age with the realisation of insecurity. The search for a consuming objective ends only with life. In short, we have the morally energetic types needed for such a movement in a released and nascent state. We have the manifest need for such a movement. We are gathering the creative ideas and accumulating the impulse for such a movement. What is there to prevent a great politico-religious drive for social and world unity taking hold everywhere of the active and adventurous minority of mankind — that is to say, of all mankind that matters — even quite soon?

That is the essence of what I want to put before you to-night. That is what I mean when I say that the phase of Democracy as release has come to its end, and that we are already in the beginning of the phase of Democratic Synthesis, a great religious-spirited phase. If you choose to link it to Christianity or Islam or Buddhism or any existing democratic religion; or to Communism, that religious substitute; or call it in itself the Religion of Progress, nothing that I am saying here to-night will stand in your way. And if this diagnosis is correct, then necessarily the changing spirit of Democracy, the change from fragmentation and irrelevance to synthesis and reference to directive general ideas on a universal scale, will become apparent in all forms of human expression.

Here with the time at my disposal I can but ask: Is that so? In political life, is there any tendency among intelligent people to be dissatisfied with the passive role of voters and to attempt, in all sorts of ways, to exert a direct influence on common affairs? In intellectual life, is there an increasing tendency to discuss world-wide problems — political, economic, social? Is there a marked increase of such literature? A livelier interest in such questions? If this thesis is right, the novel and the drama should be changing. They should both be bringing in great issues, a quasi-religious attitude to world affairs as a living part of the human story. The novel should no longer be merely a picture of a spectacle relying for its interest upon adventures and the extraordinary traits of individual characters, in no way responsible for the whole. It should be turning decisively towards responsibility, to what I might call creative propaganda. It should be permeated by the question: “What do these lives make for?" And the drama — to turn to the drama — should be no longer the well-made play grouping itself around a situation. Is such a play as Shaw’s “Saint Joan,” or Toller’s “Masses and Men,” any intimation of Synthetic Democracy upon the stage? Again, is there in painting and music any tendency to return from — what shall I say? — pure painting and pure music to breadth and profundity of reference?

Well, I ask these questions. I put these ideas before you. I have done my best to give you my impression of this new phase into which human life is passing, and my forecast of the new spirit that I believe will guide the criticism of expression in the time before us. And I thank you with all my heart for the reception and the attention you have given me.  
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Re: The Way the World Is Going: Guesses & Forecasts of The Y

Postby admin » Thu Oct 10, 2019 12:16 am


I LOATHE Nationalism, and ripening experience has corroded my Imperialism (of 1899-1900) profoundly, and perhaps incurably, but this does not prevent my being intensely, affectionately, and profoundly English. But by being English I do not mean pretending mystical and impossible emotions at the first grunts of the National Anthem, or the chance sight of that curious political compromise of the last century, the Union Jack, which has swallowed up the real English flag of St. George, and still, against all reason, retains the cross of St. Patrick in its entanglement. Nor by being English do I mean repudiating the high republicanism of my English Milton, my English Cromwell, and my equally English George Washington. Nor again would I mix up the English idea with a trained aversion from foreign goods and ingenious attempts to choke the trade of other countries in favour of our home products. Indeed, I feel a little ashamed of myself when a polite and kindly foreign post office hands me out my letters stamped with blatant exhortations to "Buy British Goods.” Yet all the same I maintain that I am a scion, however unworthy, of a very great race, and heir to an unapproachable tradition of candid speech and generous act.

My people, the English, have created mighty nations, lived valiantly for freedom and fair play through many sturdy generations, and fertilised the whole world with their adventurous dead.

I hold most firmly that we English — who make up perhaps a third of the United States population and an eighth of that of the British Empire — are a people necessary to mankind, that there are certain calls and occasions when either "God's Englishman" — as our Milton had it — must play his part, or the occasion fail.

It is our boast that we say what we think without fear or favour and that we are not easily driven in flocks or cowed by difficulties or defeated — even by defeat. And believing these things, I hold it as my right and duty as a common Englishman to watch the steps of my own people wherever they are found, in Britain or America, in India or Africa or Australia, and to speak as plainly as I can when they seem to be falling away from the quality that has won us our place in history and the respect of mankind, I had rather assert my right to repudiate the shooting at Amritsar and cry "Stop!" to the justice of Massachusetts when it grows harsh and unfair to such friendless men as Sacco and Vanzetti than reap all the material successes that life can offer me. In that way I can a little discharge the obligation I am put under when I am counted among Englishmen.

Never have we been a theatrical people; there are few heroic gestures in our story and little rhetoric; we have never pretended to be a breed of supermen, and our drama, fiction, and common speech abound in self-derision. The British common soldier breaks into literature in the persons of Falstaff and Bardolph and Nym, and the foreigner has always been given fair play and a welcome among us — up to 1917 at any rate. Our dearest boast was the prestige of "the word of an Englishman,” and it is our claim that we would rather be trusted than exalted among the peoples of the earth. Whatever the diplomatic situation may have been, the great mass of the English folk in the New World, as in the Old, believed that they were fighting aggressive monarchist militarism in the Great War and preparing the way for a peace without uniforms. They hated Germany more for her goose step than for her fleet. The seed of that rather wilted but still living plant, the League of Nations, was sown by the practical liberalism of the English mind on both sides of the Atlantic, and could never have existed but for the faith of the English in reasonable dealing. The faith of our people launched that experiment, and to them alone can the world look for the mental courage to face its disappointments and accumulate and organise the resolution needed for the next thrust and experiment in the same direction.

Liberalism of thought and restrained steadfastness in act has been the contribution of the English people to human affairs during the past two centuries. None of us claims any preposterous superiorities over other peoples; and most of us can admit inferiorities without a qualm. The French, are certainly more direct and clear-headed than we are, and the Germans more thorough. We lack the animation of the Levantine and the mental richness of the Slav. We have a curiously atmospheric quality in our thought; we are not rapid with our problems, and we are apt to muddle about with perplexities and betray a lack of haste and zeal which exasperates observers. At the present time, and indeed since 1917, we have been making a bad showing. It is time we woke up to what we are not doing. A time may come when we shall discover that the world has not waited for the English.

For ten years the English — and by English I mean equally the English-speaking, English-thinking people of the United States and of the British Empire, for I cannot separate them in these matters — have on the whole been disposed towards some settlement of the world’s affairs that would ensure permanent peace. I do not believe that there would have been even a League of Nations without the initiative of the English on both sides of the Atlantic, and I believe that the welcome and acquiescence of the other nations of the world in that project was due to their belief "in the word of the Englishmen,” to their belief that the great section of mankind we English constitute and control would see the vast promises of President Wilson through to a working reality. They thought that there was that much moral force in the world, and that the English-speaking masses embodied it and meant it.

I believe enough in the quality of my own people to be persuaded they were right. I believe that on November 11, 1918, the world was within sight of a broad, permanent settlement of its political affairs that would have ended war, that the war to end war had been fought and won, that the will to end war was sufficiently abundant to have carried that settlement through, and that it was the organisation of that will that was wanting and failed. The will to end war was caught and baffled in a net of political and diplomatic evil habits. And particularly it was the will to end war in the United States and the British Empire, which should naturally have been the backbone will of peace organisation, that was ineffective and that was diffused and dispersed and defeated.

The failure of the will for peace in America to make itself effective has been discussed very thoroughly, and the broad facts are history; the disposition of President Wilson to make world peace the monopoly of the Democratic Party and the consequent estrangement of the Republican majority; his obsession by the idea of the sovereignty of "nationalities" and his incapacity to think out what he meant by a nationality; his diplomatic incompetence and intellectual and moral seclusion, have been set out plainly in a huge literature of criticism, and so have the disgusts, resentments, and fitfulness of the American people as it realised that its will for peace was thwarted, and sought to shift the blame from its own political institutions.

Now, as always, there is a manifest majority of voters in Great Britain on the left side in public affairs; the spirit of the British peoples is now, as it has been generally for a century, liberal, compromising, tolerant, and anxious for a fair deal between nation and nation; and yet at the present time the British Government is not simply aloof like the American from world direction, it is the leading force making for reaction. The present British Government is, in fact, doing its best to revive the role of the defeated Hohenzollern Imperialism, and if it can hold the Empire in its present course it will certainly steer the British people towards a fate that may repeat the German experience. And this it is able to do in spite of the national temperament and the high traditions of the English, because of the incapacity and short-sightedness of the politicians who have contrived to impose themselves upon the main masses of liberal thought.

That is the most momentous fact in world affairs at the present time. The paralysis of English liberalism carries with it the paralysis of progress throughout the world.

The elemental necessity before that moiety of the English people which forms the nucleus of the British Empire, if it is to go on playing its proper part in the shaping of human destiny, is to get rid of Mr. Baldwin’s Government and all its works as speedily as possible. It has to do this for its own sake and for the sake of the world’s future. It has to shake itself clear of this imperialist militarism which is alien to its nature. It is an obligation. But when the English people turns to the Liberal and Labour politicians who should be translating its manifest will into achieved fact, it finds a crew of active and ingenious second-rate and third-rate men engaged in petty feuds and divided into two bitterly contentious camps, without a shadow of principle to distinguish them.

It is extraordinary how hard it is to separate Liberal from Labour Party men except by the fact that they are separated. Of many of these people I, who live fairly close to it all, do not know the party associations from day to day. Of So-and-so or So-and-so I asked; "Has he gone over or has he come back?"— it is so little a question of quality and so much of postal address. There seem to be rather more lawyers in the Liberal Party and many more glorified trade union officials in the Labour Party, but a man like Commander Kenworthy, for example, can go from one party to the other or back again with as little change of nature as a performing sea lion hopping to and fro through a hoop. In power the Labour politicians have shown themselves mild snobs, socially ignorant rather than virtuous, and pathetically anxious to assure the world that there is no danger of "Socialism in our time.” They are Liberals in red ties who have to cater for the earnestness of the young supporter. On the Liberal side, wary, alert figures like Sir John Simon and Sir Herbert Samuel dodge and posture about with a manifest effort to look like the sort of commanding, attractive, and inspiring personalities English masses are supposed to trust and adore — these two are the more prominent of a whole host of common-place careerists of no personal significance at all — and Mr. Lloyd George tries an infinitude of poses to catch the unifying spirit as it flits uncertain through the dither. Mr. Lloyd George might very well catch the unifying spirit if only the unifying spirit could be sure that it had caught him. But there is no outstanding figure at all to hold and reassure both factions. There might be in Philip Snowden were he physically a stronger man.

That is the situation. One by-election follows another. Each time the Government vote shrinks to a smaller proportion of the total; sometimes a Liberal scrapes in (and oh! the joy of Mr. Masterman), some- times a Labour man, and sometimes the Conservative keeps his seat with close upon two-thirds of the poll against him. But in a general election the mutual animosities of these wrangling factions rise to a malice that prefers a Government victory to the success of the kindred competitor.

It is just as likely that the next election will leave the existing Government in power, a possibility fraught with disaster to the whole world, as that either of these Opposition gangs will scramble to a greater total than the Tories.

Now to the great mass of English people these party feuds and bickerings between Liberal and Labour are a matter of entire insignificance. Nobody believes that the Labour Party has the courage or capacity to carry through any extensive socialising operations, nor that a Liberal Government would carry out a policy very different from that of a Labour Government. But either a Liberal or a Labour Government would release educational progress, check armament, relieve the world from the fear of adventures against Russia and China sustained more or less furtively by Britain, break the ugly association with Mussolini, show a living regard for free speech and private freedom, and reassure the forces of peace and civilisation in France, Germany, Poland and Hungary.

Either would do. The general desire is for one or the other, and the question which the politicians pose is Which? Both the Liberals and the Labour Party tricksters have in turn cheated the country out of proportional representation, which would have relieved us of much of this present difficulty. It is too late to go into that issue now. The primary concern of intelligent Englishmen now is to get rid of this Baldwin-Junker Ministry, which is as unpalatable to intelligent financial and business men, with some understanding of the necessary cosmopolitanism of modern economic life, as it is to the main mass of liberal-minded labour.

How is this to be done?

It seems to me that the occasion would be best met by the formation of a series of new local political organisations, beside, and independent of, the local official Liberal and Labour Parties.

What is needed is a block of voters who will vote primarily against the Government and only secondarily for either Liberal or Labour. The sensible thing seems to be to vote in each constituency for whichever of these two political parties secured the largest vote against the Conservatives at the preceding contest, irrespective of all their bletherings against each other. One would vote Liberal here or one would vote Labour there in order not to waste one’s vote. In that way the Government could be reduced to a minority, and probably a small minority in the House of Commons, and, whatever else happened, there would be an arrest of the threatened "Hohenzollemisation "of British policy and the British Empire.

I do not know what supplies of non-partisan political energy are available in Great Britain at the present time. Certain newspapers — the "Express" group and Mr. Garvin’s "Sunday Observer,” for example — seem to care about as much for party loyalty as I do, and are probably at bottom quite of my mind about stopping the reactionary drift; they are conducted by men of imagination with a sense of the greatness of our people; others are mere party organs, in which not merely the leading articles but the arrangements and display of news are calculated to favour one or other of the contending parties. But even among the readers of these biassed newspapers there must be a growing multitude impatient with the extraordinary way in which Great Britain at present belies itself and endangers the outlook of mankind. It needs but a crystallising touch to give that impatience a form and a direction.

We want a "Wake Up, England!" movement in Great Britain, and not merely in Great Britain, but for all the English throughout the earth. We want a mood and form of politics that will save our destinies from our politicians while there are still great things to be saved.

7 August, 1927.  
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Re: The Way the World Is Going: Guesses & Forecasts of The Y

Postby admin » Thu Oct 10, 2019 6:14 am


The ordinary game of politics bores me, and I rarely write about it. The manoeuvres of X., Y. and Z. to get towards the head of the queue of possible tenants of No. ID, Downing Street, fill me with that cold disgust we all feel for vices to which we are not inclined. I have wanted many things in life, but never “place." The “party game" I have loathed from my youth up. My primary interest in the Labour Party was that it promised to end that game. Alas! it has only made it worse.

But there are times when some attention has to be paid to these detestable sports. Normally it matters very little to most of us whether the income tax is decreased or increased a little by X. or Y. or Z., and whether it is Z. or A. who damps our hopes for the education of the country. The Westminster permanent officials run their departments in very much the same manner whether it is a Tory or a Liberal or a Labour man who intervenes trivially in their sway. Why should I care whether it is Mr. Baldwin pretending to be a simple, honest farmer, or Mr. Ramsay MacDonald pretending to be a romantic gentleman, at 10, Downing Street?

Normally there is no reason at all. But it happens that this is an abnormal time, and, like millions of my fellow-countrymen, I wake up to find that this Baldwin government, which we considered merely narcotic and drowsed under inattentively, is the most dangerous government that Britain has ever had. Its peculiar danger is that it has learnt nothing from the war, that its stupidity is not the passive stupidity we hoped and believed, but a very active stupidity, so that at three cardinal points it has set things moving in the direction of war.

In the first place, it has carried its support of the aggressive and reactionary Mussolini dictatorship to a pitch which amounts to a virtual betrayal of both France and the republican regime in Germany. We are under great obligations to France. In the past I criticised French policy when it seemed to be obsessed by a blind hostility to Germany, because I believed, and I still believe, that upon the development of a Franco-German friendship hangs all the hope we have of a great future for Europe. A liberal France, a liberal Germany in accord — the European future is utterly black without that accord. But to criticise France when she is aggressive is one thing, and to undermine her position in Europe is quite another. This tawdry, unclean tyranny in Italy insults and threatens France. Would it dare do that alone? without American money and British moral support? without the hope that if it can entangle France in a conflict, all the suppressed barbarism of the other side in Germany, the side which is now the under-side, will flare up to its assistance? And this “safe “ Government of ours in Britain moves not a finger to arrest this advancing disaster, can find no better role to play in such a European situation than that of Mussolini’s friend. Next comes the failure to get to an understanding with the United States upon the issue of disarmament. At the present time, as Kenworthy has demonstrated in the completest fashion in his recent book, Great Britain and the United States are arming against each other. Do people realise the significance of this? Neither country has, for example, an educational organisation adequate to its needs and opportunities, and yet vast sums are being squandered, upon the advice of military and naval “experts,”on military and naval preparations that are bringing these two countries, with the same language, a common culture and a long tradition of mutual forbearance, more and more into the attitude of armed rivals. The Baldwin Government has its excuses for its failure at Geneva. It puts the blame on the American representatives. But who wants its excuses? Its failure is a crime.

Thirdly, we have the Russian muddle. For an amount of espionage and propaganda not much, if at all, greater than that normally practised by all the chief governments of the world — a publication like "Asia,” for example, coming from New Hampshire, is far more efficient as anti-imperialist propaganda than anything the Russians have ever done — the Russian representatives in London were expelled in the most insulting manner, and the premises of the Russian Trade Delegation burgled. Ministers like Lord Birkenhead and Mr. Churchill reviled the regime in Russia unpardonably. What are the results? Trade is broken off. A market particularly desirable for the manufacturers of Great Britain is more or less closed. The world in general, and Russia in particular, is impressed with the idea that Great Britain is the enemy of the Soviet Government.

Naturally that Government does its best to retaliate. What would you do if you were a Russian? We British oblige the Russian Government to press on with whatever propaganda it conducts against us in Asia — in Turkey, China, India especially. What else can you imagine it doing? And it was totally unnecessary to stimulate this hostility and embitter this enemy. The antagonism was dying down. Intercourse was increasing. Trade was improving.

Now all that has been put back. The British have grimaced threats at Russia until now there is an active propaganda in Russia to prepare that people for the attack the blusterings of such Ministers as Mr. Churchill and the Home Secretary seem to forebode. And Britain trains a highly mechanicalised expeditionary force. So behind Britain and Central Asia, in the heart of Europe and across the Atlantic, the spectre of war becomes more threatening, more substantial, less of a phantom and more of a possibility, with every month of this Government rule. Throughout the world the present British Government has been evoking the war idea and the war spirit.

I will say nothing of the social war this Government has waged at home. Grave as that is, it is dwarfed by the monstrous dangers of the international situation, I will not say that the British Government wants war — with two possible exceptions among its members. But it is stupid; its stupidity is that sort of mental inflexibility which makes men inadaptable to new circumstances. It goes on upon the old diplomatic, militarist, nationalist and competitive lines that carried Europe so inevitably to the smash of 1514, and it has not the imagination to see plainly how surely it drives to another smash. If the present British Government remains in office for another five years that smash, I believe, will come.

I am not indulging here in single-handed prophecy. What I am writing here is realised now more or less lucidly by an immense multitude of observers. It lies upon the surface of things, just as the war of 1914 lay plainly on the surface of things for years before it came. And one might reasonably imagine that this great multitude would set about preparing to push the Government out cf office effectively and thoroughly, would make sure of a complete purge of its supporters at the next general election. Nothing could be further from the reality ol the case. The same want of imagination that allows the British Government to drum along with international bickerings and military preparations towards a new great war robs the huge majority of people who are against the Government of any effective coherence. The Great War seems to have passed over the politicians in opposition with as small intellectual profit as it has over the Ministers in office.

In the face of a rapidly approaching disaster that may wreck civilised life, these people go on with the old tricks and the old antics that distinguished political life in those days of apparently eternal security when good Queen Victoria sat upon the throne. They do not seem to see that there is any situation or any stream of events outside the little arena in which they manoeuvre against each other for office and the petty glories of a party triumph. Two figures in particular I contemplate with blank amazement. One is Sir Herbert Samuel. I am loth to believe him as silly as his public proceedings. But of their immense silliness there can be no doubt. He is the figure-head of pure party Liberalism. He is the typical advocate of the candidature of those five hundred Liberal candidates who are everywhere to wage implacable warfare against the Labour Party. Everywhere they are to busy themselves in breaking up the peace vote and, if they cannot get in themselves, letting in the Tory — and war.

Over against him is Ramsay MacDonald, a figure of fantastic vanity and secretiveness, equally resolute on keeping the Labour Party in bitter antagonism to the Liberals — though the heavens fall. The poor little “Daily Herald" under his influence spends most of its ammunition on the Liberals, and the mere whisper of "coalition" is treated like an attack upon fundamental political virtue. The implacable stupidity of both these groups, the pure party Liberals and the pure party Labourites, exceeds even the unteachable stupidity of the Government policy. And they are helping it forward. When the bombs begin to burst and the smash comes Sir Herbert Samuel and Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, because of their inveterate party spirit, will be as responsible for the disaster as Mr. Amery or Mr. Baldwin.

But the question I have been asking myself and most of the people I have been meeting lately is, “What are we personally going to do about it? “ Like the majority of people in Great Britain, I want a coalition of the Liberal and Labour Parties. That plainly is our salvation. I realise — surely everyone realises — that the internal legislation and the foreign policy of a Liberal Government in Great Britain for the next ten years at least would be substantially the same as that of a Labour Government. Of the two Mr. MacDonald is the least likely to move a step towards Socialism. The pretence of any irreconcilable fundamental differences does not deceive 5 per cent, of the British Electorate. The Liberals might be rather more economical and skimpy over social services and the Labour people more snobbish and more extravagant over the army, navy and air services. The blend might indeed be better than either party, faults might cancel out. And since I am convinced that people like Sir Herbert Samuel and Mr. Ramsay MacDonald are incurably set upon their party follies, I am obliged, we are obliged, to cast about for other figures upon which we may concentrate our enthusiasm and to whom we may look for some sort of leadership beyond mere party strategy in the approaching struggle.

One’s mind turns to Mr. Lloyd George. He is a seasoned Coalitionist, and he is plainly disposed towards another Coalition. He has made alluring gestures towards the left, but an unusual hesitation to return them is apparent. Plainly Labour, though it may work with him, will not put itself under him.

And that applies not merely to the party-obsessed Labour people. We all like Mr. Lloyd George, but at times he veils his solid worth beneath an agility and flexibility that leaves us uneasy. I do not know if we can look to him to play a secondary role in a combination. It would necessarily be a very considerable role. And, after all, he is technically a Liberal, and the majority of the anti-Government mass is Labour. The headship of any combination for the preservation of peace in the world should reside in the majority. The leader should be a Labour man. This also excludes Lord Cecil, with his traditional attitude towards Church and land, from the formal leadership. So one turns to the Labour Party and looks for a Coalitionist there.

I consider Henderson, Thomas, Clynes, all surely Ministers in a coalition, but none of them quite what we require as a figure-head. Then I come to Snowden and stop. There, I believe, is the man who can best lead the British Empire, under a Coalition Government, back to sanity, security and the service of peace. There is a certain quality of greatness about Snowden which is not very widely distributed in our political world to-day. I suppose that among statesmen, politicians and public servants of all types and parties, Philip Snowden is more generally respected and would be more willingly trusted than any other contemporary. He is a man whose public character, quite as much as his private character, is without spot or blemish. He is a man of real capacity and great personal force. He is the man we want. And I do not see why we, the growing multitude of British people who want to get rid of this dangerous Government of ours and who do not care a rap either way for the Liberal “machine “ or the Labour “machine,” should not set about getting him now.

Would he serve us? Probably not at first. He might plead his allegiance to his party. But there are popular invitations that have the force of commands. Would Mr. Lloyd George work with him? I do not know. Mr. Lloyd George has neither the narrow-mindedness of Sir Herbert Samuel nor the lonely vanity of Mr. MacDonald. He is quite capable of magnanimity; and for him also a strong popular feeling, effectively expressed, might have imperative force. Many of the dissentient Liberals, on account of minor feuds and unforgettable sayings during those feuds, would, I know serve much more gladly under Snowden as a leader than under Lloyd George.

But at the present stage of affairs I do not see why we should wait upon the Tadpoles and Tapers to fix up this arrangement for us. The growing multitude of people who see things in this way has the power to force this combination over the heads of the party managers. We can write; we can organise; we are not without a Press. Why wait while the leaders negotiate?

At the next election it will be comparatively simple for us to disregard the difference between Liberalism and Labour altogether. When we find ourselves in any constituency where a Liberal is trying to cut down a Labour majority or where a Labour candidate is trying to cut down a Liberal majority, we can vote solidly for the legitimate claimant to the seat, whether he be Liberal or Labour. When we hear the Liberal beginning to make his little points against Labour or the Labour man chipping the Liberal, instead of getting on to the real business in hand, the proper comment is a loud “Bah!" repeated until the gentleman takes notice. Then we shall get the maximum number of Liberals and Labour men into the House of Commons, and when they are there they will have to shake down into a coalition whether they like it or not.

The Labour Party is surely not so foolish as to take office in a minority again, with the Liberals primly in possession of what Sir Herbert Samuel calls the casting vote,” and equally will the Liberals refuse to shoulder responsibility alone. Everybody in Parliament knows that Coalition waits at the end of the passage even if a second election intervenes. Why have the expense and delay of a second election? As practical people with an empire to save, let us get on to that coalition now.

27 November, 1927.  
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Re: The Way the World Is Going: Guesses & Forecasts of The Y

Postby admin » Thu Oct 10, 2019 7:56 am


I HAVE recently been reading the "History of Witchcraft and Demonology,” by Mr. Montague Summers, and various utterances upon the Soviet Government of Russia by supporters of the present enlightened Government of the British Empire, and I find a curious confusion in my mind between the two. Mr. Summers, like all good Catholics, is a believer in witchcraft; and he hates witches as soundly and sincerely as the British county families hate the "Reds "; and he believes as freely and fiercely about the detested breed. Here is a passage, and I will leave the reader to guess whether it is from the pages of Mr. Summers or the columns of a Conservative newspaper on the eve of a general election:

The witch or the Red (as the case may be) is "an evil liver; a social pest and parasite; the devotee of a loathly and obscene creed; an adept at poisoning, blackmail, and all creeping crimes; a member of a powerful secret organisation inimical to Church and State; a blasphemer in word and deed; swaying the villagers by terror and superstition; a charlatan and a quack sometimes, a ...." — here I censor my authority — an ...." — the censorship is really imperative; a minister of vice and inconceivable corruption; battening upon the filth and foulest passions of the age."

The doubts the simple, honest reader of the British Conservative Press will feel — whether this is the more accurate description of Mother Shipton, Gilles de Rais, any Knight Templar, the late Mr. Krassin, Mr. Lunacharsky or Lenin — will do much to carry out the interesting views of that great historical writer, Mrs. Nesta Webster, that modern Communism is the lineal descendant of the black traditions of mediaeval sorcery, Manichean heresies, Free Masonry, and the Witch of Endor. Be that as it may, modern Communism is certainly heir now to the estate of fear and terror which descends to us from the past.

Perhaps mankind has a standing need for somebody to tar, feather, and burn. Perhaps if there was no devil, men would have to invent one. In a more perfect world we may have to draw lots to find who shall be the witch or the "Red,” or the heretic or the nigger, in order that one man may suffer for the people. Mr. Summers’ book makes interesting, disagreeable reading of the sort that enhances its excitement here and there by a coy resort to transparent Latin; and it shows Popes and prelates and Puritans, kings and judges, all manner of respectable people, succumbing to exactly the same sort of emotional disturbance that now makes membership of the Communist Party so dangerous, exciting, and attractive to the light-minded young of Western Europe and America. Nothing was too dreadful for belief about witches and warlocks, and, alas for the feebleness of the human imagination, most things, it is felt, were not nearly dreadful enough. They made mischief, they fostered strikes, and they raised storms and insurrections in such scanty leisure as a constant round of Witches' Sabbaths allowed. They were drowned, tortured, beaten, and burnt alive, and still the kindly righteous had a baffling sense of inadequate retort to all the bestial cruelty and wickedness charged against them.

As one turns over the record of Mr. Summers' book, it is fairly plain to any one not under a conscientious necessity to believe in witchcraft that all these waves of inquisition and cruelty were a sort of pooling of the normal indignation of mankind against the orgies and queer and vile acts that lurk at the roots of our animal nature, and of our fear of the tricks and malicious resentments of inferior and unhappy people, and a direction of this pooled force of disapproval and hostility against heresy, sedition, and unpopular opinions generally, Gilles de Rais was an insane murderer, guilty of almost incredibly bestial cruelties, but his wickedness was pinned to heresy and made an excuse against the gentlest and purest of unbelievers. Evil men, you said, were heretics, and then when some one ventured to differ from your high orthodoxy you charged him promptly with organised association with filth and every form of evil. If any one questioned your theology, well, manifestly he was a second Gilles de Rais. Mr. Summers, for instance, has no doubt that great epidemics of witchcraft followed doctrinal disputes; that religious doubt and a flirtatious alliance with the devil were in the sequence of cause and effect.

To-day there are many signs that the "Red" has a good chance of playing the part of the witch of older times in a new world mania. The examination of Sacco and Vanzetti, charged with ordinary murder and robbery, upon their political opinions, in the Massachusetts courts, was quite in the vein of the old witch trials. "Tell me what you think,” said the prosecution, "and what you did may be judged by that,” It is wonderful how witch-hanging Massachusetts has kept true to its old traditions.

This tendency to associate unpopular opinions with murderable offences seems to be an increasing one on both sides of the Atlantic. I am sure it needs only a very slight Press campaign to convince any number of people in London that when Sir W, Joynson-Hicks made his preposterous raid on the Soviet business headquarters in search of an alleged stolen paper, members of the Arcos staff escaped on broomsticks from an upper window with that wonderful confidential document the police sought and never found. When I came back from Russia in 1920 and wrote that Lenin seemed an intelligent little man, who was rather at a loss what to do with the great country that had fallen so wonderfully into his hands, I pleased nobody. The Communists and Left Labour people wanted extravagant praise and a glorification of a state of affairs that seemed to me to be a frightful muddle, and the anti-Bolshevik witch-hunters wanted yarns about orgies in the Kremlin, Mme. Lenin dressed up in the Russian Crown jewels, drinking champagne out of cups of gold in the worst possible taste, and aristocratic babies being tortured and murdered after dinner just for fun and devilry by commissars. They wanted to excite themselves about Moscow, just as the mediaeval witch-hunters excited themselves with wild imaginations about the Witches’ Sabbaths.

Failing "hot stuff" of that sort, the anti-Bolsheviks were convinced I was in the pay of Moscow. They wanted their Bolsheviks not small and bothered, but horrible. They wanted me to make their blood run cold. They wanted to work themselves up into a frenzy of indignation, terror, and violence.

And they wanted to do so because, as I say, there seems to be in the dark, tortuous, and dangerous heart of man a real craving for vehement self-righteous persecution and enthusiastic and irrational punishment. I know. I have felt it in me. If I have never lulled and massacred in the waking day, I have known all these bright reliefs and excitements in dreams. And in reveries.

To any one who can think about Bolshevism and retain a normal temperature the facts are as plain as daylight. Russia has been, is, and must remain for some time to come a largely barbaric country. Large areas of Russia are still as backward as England was in Tudor times, and few of its towns have a social life much in advance of early nineteenth-century conditions in Great Britain. It was in the days of the Czar, and it is to-day, a backward land of hardships and intense discomforts, a land of rough methods, frequent crimes, and much sporadic cruelty. Until ten years ago it was ruled by a stupid, disorderly, and tyrannous autocracy — superstitious and hostile to education — which collapsed through sheer inherent rottenness under the stresses of the Great War. The resources of Russia were so wasted, and its army so ruthlessly handled in that war, as to wreck the whole social system. Those Bolsheviks are in possession of the wreck. They are in possession because they were the only people with sufficient faith, discipline, and determination to hold together in the general chaos.

But they are neither gods nor devils. They are limited, conceited, and as liable to witch panics and suspicion mania as the most enlightened citizens of Middlesex or Massachusetts. Their "reprisals" for the Arcos raid and for the various recent murders of their members would have disgraced a lynching State in the American Union. They cling to the old theories and dogmas of Marx, half a century stale. They seem as little capable of modern industrial organisation as the British coal-owners, and their need is far more urgent. They have a percentage of cads, roughs, and scoundrels hanging to them which may or may not be higher than the similar percentage of any political party in Britain or America. They are as a whole just a band of worried, rather incompetent, doctrinaires, some able and sympathetic, some obtuse and dangerous, and they have an empire on their hands. There they are, the only possible Government for Russia, and if they are submerged, nothing will be left of Russia but a wilderness of warring brigand armies and barbaric peasants. Failing them Russia will repeat on a larger, more dreadful scale, and without the same substructure of civilised urban tradition, the Germany of the Thirty Years’ War.

They will probably resent my conception of them as muddled, overstrained men with an old-fashioned and inapplicable social theory to guide them in an overwhelming job, far more than the current idea of them as a crew of super-devils. Like the medaeval witches, they threaten and boast to keep up their self-respect, and so they bring down upon themselves the cowardly violence of the timid. Whatever happens abroad to the discomfort of the American or European capitalists they claim as the result of their marvellous machinations. It is a pitiful posturing.

I do not believe that the coal muddle and that dismal strike of last year would have happened any differently if Russia had never existed. They have a conceit of ordering about the labouring classes of the earth. It is touching. I found poor Lenin in the Kremlin swallowing the stuff in Miss Sylvia Pankhurst’s "Dreadnought" as the current opinion of the British proletariat.”

As a matter of fact, in all the world from end to end outside Russia — I am not forgetting China — the Communist Party cannot count upon the services of twenty thousand men or raise half a million pounds. It is always poking into gatherings and claiming to have called them, jumping on coaches driven by other people and pretending to run them. The only advantage of this sort of rubbish to the Bolsheviks is to give the simple Russian worker a good conceit of himself and his rulers, but it is disastrous to the friends of the worker everywhere. It supplies the witch-finder and the hunter of radicals with just the "'orrible 'orrible" evidence he needs.

When I visited the House of Science in Petrograd in 1920, there was a Communist Party representative who had poked in among the men of science to explain how different and superior "Marxist " chemistry and astronomy were to the bourgeois teaching, and Fulop-Miller’s "Geist und Gesicht des Bolshewismus (which has recently been translated into English) collects, with destructive malice and deadly illustrations, flagrant examples of the nonsense about new philosophy, new science, new art, new religion, new everything, newer and better than ever before, with which the Bolsheviks console themselves in their grim and from many aspects amazingly plucky struggle to keep a strained and damaged civilisation going and even progressing, in the face of the extravagant hatred and hostility of the outer world.

If only people would recognise, first, that Russia is, and must be for some decades, a very backward country, and that, whatever Government rules there, rough and barbaric things are bound to happen; second, that the whole of the Bolshevik propaganda is about as injurious to modern capitalism as the brews and spells of those poor old women our ancestors found such satisfaction in burning alive were to the people against whom they were aimed; third, that panic, violence, brag, bad manners, and petty irritations towards foreigners are not the monopoly of the Bolsheviks; and, fourth, that the existing Government of Russia is the only possible Government there at the present time; and that the only hope of saving the vast areas and resources of European and Asiatic Russia for civilisation lies in getting to some working compromise with that Government and co-operating in its development — I say, people would bear these fairly obvious things in mind, I should be able to look forward with more confidence to the immediate future of the world than I feel at the present time. But with Britain in the hands of a Government suffering from witch mania with regard to Russia and the ruling powers of America in little better case, with the liberalism of the world leaderless, misrepresented and confused, there is a very considerable probability that that ailing State will be, as a potential modern State, ruined and destroyed in the next few decades. Nothing will be achieved by the overthrow of Bolshevism in Russia as the result of this witch mania but the completer desolation of a great area of the old world.

21 August, 1927.  
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Re: The Way the World Is Going: Guesses & Forecasts of The Y

Postby admin » Thu Oct 10, 2019 9:27 am


A CORRESPONDENT in America writes to suggest an article on the struggle between Capital and Labour, and what it is coming to. To-morrow in the United States is the legal holiday for the celebration of Labour, and it seems an appropriate date for some general remarks that have been accumulating in my mind about this indisputable struggle.

I am afraid I shall disappoint my correspondent. From some phrases in his letter I am inclined to think he expects me to be violently partisan in this issue, to foretell the doom of the capitalist system and the great days when Labour alone shall rule the earth. This shows a lamentable ignorance of my voluminous and — I am told — correctly I think — reiterative works. I cannot hope for the abolition of the capitalist system, because I do not believe there is a capitalist system, and my only aspiration for Labour is that it should get right off the earth. I believe this conflict between Capital and Labour is like that great struggle between Arianism and Trinitarianism, which tore the Roman world to pieces thirteen or fourteen centuries ago; that is to say, I regard it as a struggle about theoretical definitions having only the remotest relationship to any fundamental realities in life. Most Christians nowadays, I remark, are Arians professing a Trinitarian creed, and much the same effacement may overtake this false antagonism of Capital and Labour. We may come to a world of capitalists professing to be a Labour community. Or we may follow quite other and more rational lines of development.

Most of the issues upon which men are antagonised in crowds — ^because of the uniformity of our intelligences and the eagerness of our minds — are false issues. Throughout all history most human conflicts have turned on false issues. The issue of patriotism, for example, is so false that it is indelicate almost to the treasonable pitch to say so.

But, braving the indelicacy, can any intelligent person argue to-day that patriotism nowadays has anything whatever to do with race, or thought? Take a concrete example to illustrate this current insanity. My distant cousin and namesake at Chicago, Professor H. G. Wells, the eminent physiologist, living under the stresses of his local patriotism, is obliged to pay for the construction of cruisers and airplanes to protect himself, the American Constitution, and the Standard Oil Company against me, and I am obliged to pay for the construction of cruisers and airplanes to protect the House of Windsor, the Anglo-Dutch Oil people, and this Wembley Exhibition Empire of ours, against him, when, as a matter of the most obvious common sense, we are so much akin and so much after the same ends, that what we both need is mutual protection from these monsters of the imagination that have got hold of us, and which are quite likely to gas us or blow us to shreds before they have done with us. Clearly we two are parts of the same biological, intellectual, and moral strain, we belong to the same civilisation, we are of one outlook, blood and name, and our chief real political interest is to get rid of these people in uniform, these diplomatists, and the difference of our flags, which may in the end waste most of the good of both our lives in a fatuous war.

And it is equally false to imagine that because the evil passions of men can be involved to the pitch of judicial murder — at least in such barbaric countries as Soviet Russia or Italy or Massachusetts — there is any profound matter involved in this century-old conflict between Capital and Labour that muddles our minds and devastates our public affairs to-day. It is a conflict embodying certain easy misconceptions of social, and particularly of economic, life. It is an incidental squabble exaggerated to the dimensions of a fundamental process. But it rules a huge proportion of current political activity. It is another of the great hallucinations which make history in our time and prepare infinite perplexity for the historians of the days to come.

This "capitalist system" has never been defined; it has merely been indicted. Try to define it. "Labour" is equally undefined. According to a Communist informant, "Labour" is the proletariat, that is to say, the people who produce offspring for whose education and upbringing they have made no provision. It is the propertyless class which works for wages and breeds so that it keeps those wages down to the subsistence level.

There certainly is such a class in most countries where there are towns and cities, but it is a residual class. It is much more in evidence in a medieval city like Hankow than in a modern city like New York. In China the brigand armies now prevalent are drawn largely from that class. It supplies the gang labour which under recent conditions took the place of gang slavery. The pressure of its hunger exercises a degrading influence upon life in general. So far it justifies the "proletarian "legend. But it is absurd to project its characteristics and limitations over the great multitude of workers in a modern community. It is preposterous to present economic life as substantially the exploitation of this class by a hard-minded minority.

In the United States the actual proletariat, as we have defined it, must be a very small proportion of the population. There is less of such exploitation of degraded propertyless people now than there was a hundred years ago, and it is a diminishing factor in economic life.

If we abandon this romantic, this Victor Hugoesque conception of "Labour" as living in rags and slums, and begin to incorporate semi-skilled and skilled workers with savings, insurances, and other property and a certain minimum of education, and peasants with leases or owning land, we shall cease to have any definite boundary to stop us, and before we know where we are we shall find ourselves in perplexity whether in this or that case we are dealing with a capitalist or a worker, "exploiter "or exploited. We may draw our social boundaries, we shall find, anywhere. If we draw them sufficiently high we may arrive at last at the proposition that every activity in the State is "Labour,” and that nothing lies outside that term except a few usurers, gamblers, criminals, official parasites, and the heirs of rich men.

The economic processes of the modern community and the psychology of these processes are, as a matter of fact, extraordinarily complex and still largely unmapped, and they yield to no such elementary antagonism as the Capital and Labour picture assumes. Human beings carry on by use and wont. They are imitative, habitual, mechanical, lazy, greedy, and afraid; there is no such simple, shark-like consumption of the honest toiling community by highly intelligent property owners as the legend suggests. Property in excess does not make most people either active or aggressive; generally it makes them indolent, insolent, evasive, and wasteful. Property in small quantities brings out much inherent meanness and causes much anxiety. It terrifies more often than it stimulates. Want of any possessions leaves people spiritless, driven, or desperate. A sense of secure earning-power is at the same time the basis for the satisfaction of most people who are satisfied in the modern State, and the thing most conducive to activity.

It is across the seething, swarming stir of miscellaneous modern life that these great collective hallucinations of patriotism and of class assertion sweep. We are worried or out-of-sorts, and suddenly, under their influence, we see ourselves threatened or oppressed and the victims of a malignant conspiracy to keep us down. If we get the patriotic delusion, this inclines us to war; if the Capital and Labour notion, to revolution. When Labour Days and Labour holidays come round, a certain number of us gather in meetings and processions to menace the phantoms that we suppose afflict or threaten us and our kind.

Menaces find a billet somewhere. A number of rich and well-off people, secretly conscious of a poor contribution to the general well-being, struggle not only against their consciences, but against a gnawing fear of retribution and expropriation. They have a lingering and troublesome belief that God may be righteous, and that these vague threatenings of the uncomfortable and limited may foreshadow the method of His judgment.

They are probably wrong upon the latter count, at any rate. I do not believe that under modern conditions, in a modern mechanicalised State, common low-grade labour is capable of carrying through a revolution, much less a big social reconstruction. Something like a world revolution may occur in the smash that may follow another great war, a greater Soviet experiment, for example; but it will not be in reality a constructive revolution, but merely a phase in the process of that human collapse to which war must surely bring us all, if we do not head off war. There will be no Labour-ruled world because, as I have said, "Labour" so conceived is a phantom form imposed upon a great complex of forces.

But these rich and well-off idle people do believe that phantom is real, and a multitude of politicians, journalists, and organisation-running rogues prey on their fears to extract subsidies for political groups, newspapers, and "anti-Socialist "propaganda, and to conduct a persecution of "Left opinion. They embody the "Capitalist "antagonism to "Labour,” and give it a voice and a countervailing crazy group of ideas, fears, loyalties, and motives. They "frame up” cases to murder talkative fish pedlars and the like, and feel much safer for a bit after such squalid acts of defence against these absurd but impotent threats to their comfort and self-complacency.

Meanwhile the mills of God are grinding against them in a manner they do not understand nor suspect. They really believe they are a beneficent "Capitalist System "malignantly pursued by the unsuccessful, and as sincerely do a great multitude of excellent people believe that they are "Labour" implacably oppressed by a "Capitalist System.” It is just as though we classified all the colour in the world as either pink or green.

The more we clear our minds of this prevalent hallucination about Capitalism versus Labour the more we shall be able to distinguish the real processes at work in our world now. So far from there having been a progressive enslavement of the masses of mankind during the past hundred years, there has been a great release from toil. In the civilisations of the ancient world, slavery or serfdom seems to have been a necessity in the economic process. The only source of power, except for a slight use of wind and water mills, was human or animal muscle.

The most fundamental facts in human history during the past two centuries have been, first, the rapid progressive replacement of human toil, not merely of muscular toil, but of toilsome skilled effort, by a magnificent development of mechanism; and, secondly, an enormous increase of the amount of energy available for human purposes. A certain fraction of this increase has no doubt been consumed in reckless breeding; a much larger part has been and is being wasted in the traditional fooleries and cruelties of war and war preparation, due to our continued toleration of the uniform and title-worshipping classes. And the increase in prosperity itself has been, and is, much less rapid than was possible, because of the vague but powerful traditions of proprietary method which have hampered the development of new larger- scale dealing with national resources. The enlargement of the machine has outrun the lawyer, the legislator, and the banker, and they have still to come up to its enlarged possibilities. Until they do, the machinery of modern life clogs, drags, and is dangerous.

But when all these deductions have been made, there remains in hand a huge achievement of welfare, freedom, and hope in the last two hundred years due entirely to inventions and discovery, science and commonsense. The facts of material advance are altogether more important in the history of the past two centuries than the amount of subjection and human frustration that has occurred during this period. The former are new phenomena, the latter are old conditions of life that have, if anything, diminished.

The line of progress lies not in these disputes about proprietary rights and claims upon the ever more bountiful gifts of science and invention, but in the search for the most efficient means of turning these gifts to the general advantage. There is a growing science of industrial psychology and industrial efficiency. It is, I believe, likely to develop into a very powerful group of ideas and realisations.

At present it concerns itself mainly with the question of how to secure the most effective labour. We discover that long hours are often less profitable to every one concerned than reasonably short hours; that air, light, and cheerful conditions for the worker are good investments. The investigations spread to an inquiry into the worker’s home. Presently we shall realise that the waste of strikes, unwilling service, sabotage, and other forms of industrial friction is largely due to the want of reasonable hope in the worker’s life. It will be good business and good politics to give the worker hope and security. And it will be impossible to study industrial efficiency in the mine and field and workshop, we shall find, and ignore the bearing of the country house and the director’s home upon the quality of the economic services rendered. In other words, we shall bring the social system to the touchstone of efficiency instead of to the bar of justice.

Few people nowadays defend or attack private property on grounds of abstract morality and justice. Ownership is not an institution of the order of primary right. Ownership is an institution that has to be justified. The case of individualism against collectivism stands or falls almost entirely upon the assertion that competitive individualism gives a larger and better product always than any non-competitive system. The case of the socialist is that this is untrue. Without limitation it is a very incredible assertion that the individualist makes . Neither case has ever been proved, but the study of the psychology of economic life, as it extends, is bound to turn what are at present mere wranglings for a greater share in the economic output into a search for the most productive arrangements for work and living.

Then mankind may find that while the administration of transport, credit, land, and natural resources are far better taken out of the domain of private proprietorship into the collective control either of public authorities or quasi-public trusts, there are other directions, householding, many forms of cultivation and construction and artistic work, for example, in which a great increase in independent proprietorship is desirable. While socialisation progresses in some directions, individualism will assert itself in others. And always machinery and mechanical organisation will be dispensing with toil. In the long run it seems probable that the sort of thing we understand by "Labour" now will dwindle to a small, minor, and unimportant class in the community, and that simultaneously there may be an absorption of much privately owned wealth by a scientifically conducted collective administration. While we are representing life in melodramatic colours as a struggle between the "Haves" and the "Have-nots” the less romantic but infinitely more subtle and interesting reality of a struggle between scientific organisation on the one hand and the alliance of personal greed with chaotic stupidity on the other may be undermining all the grounds of our melodrama.

Such being my convictions, I do not find myself excited by the advent of a Labour Day to any demonstrations against the Capitalist System. I refrain with perfect ease from gathering in mass meetings or pouring in my myriads, with banners and bands and red flags, through the streets of great cities. I do not believe Labour is marching to triumph; I believe it is soaking away towards absorption in a modern mechanicalised community of a middle-class type. A day will come when Labour Day will be a quaint and interesting anniversary, like fireworks in November in London or beating the bounds of some old English borough.

4 September, 1927.  
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