by Havelock EllisApril 14th, 2023
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Why the Problem of War is specially urgent To-day—The Beneficial Effects of War in Barbarous Ages—Civilization renders the Ultimate Disappearance of War Inevitable—The Introduction of Law in disputes between Individuals involves the Introduction of Law in disputes between Nations—But there must be Force behind Law—Henry IV's Attempt to Confederate Europe—Every International Tribunal of Arbitration must be able to enforce its Decisions—The Influences making for the Abolition of Warfare—(1) Growth of International Opinion—(2) International Financial Development—(3) The Decreasing Pressure of Population—(4) The Natural Exhaustion of the Warlike Spirit—(5) The Spread of Anti-military Doctrines—(6) The overgrowth of Armaments—(7) The Dominance of Social Reform—War Incompatible with an Advanced Civilization—Nations as Trustees for Humanity—The Impossibility of Disarmament—The Necessity of Force to ensure Peace—The Federated State of the Future—The Decay of War still leaves the Possibilities of Daring and Heroism. There are, no doubt, special reasons why at the present time war and the armaments of war should appear an intolerable burden which must be thrown off as soon as possible if the task of social hygiene is not to be seriously impeded. But the abolition of the ancient method of settling international disputes by warfare is not a problem which depends for its solution on the conditions of the moment. It is implicit in the natural development of the process of civilization. At one stage, no doubt, warfare plays an important part in constituting states and so, indirectly, in promoting civilization. But civilization tends slowly but surely to substitute for war in the later stages of this process the methods of law, or, in any case, methods which, while not always unobjectionable, avoid the necessity for any breach of the peace. As soon, indeed, as in primitive society two individuals engage in a dispute which they are compelled to settle not by physical force but by a resort to an impartial tribunal, the thin end of the wedge is introduced, and the ultimate destruction of war becomes merely a matter of time. If it is unreasonable for two individuals to fight it is unreasonable for two groups of individuals to fight.
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The Task of Social Hygiene by Havelock Ellis is part of the HackerNoon Books Series. You can jump to any chapter in this book here. THE WAR AGAINST WAR


Why the Problem of War is specially urgent To-day—The Beneficial Effects of War in Barbarous Ages—Civilization renders the Ultimate Disappearance of War Inevitable—The Introduction of Law in disputes between Individuals involves the Introduction of Law in disputes between Nations—But there must be Force behind Law—Henry IV's Attempt to Confederate Europe—Every International Tribunal of Arbitration must be able to enforce its Decisions—The Influences making for the Abolition of Warfare—(1) Growth of International Opinion—(2) International Financial Development—(3) The Decreasing Pressure of Population—(4) The Natural Exhaustion of the Warlike Spirit—(5) The Spread of Anti-military Doctrines—(6) The overgrowth of Armaments—(7) The Dominance of Social Reform—War Incompatible with an Advanced Civilization—Nations as Trustees for Humanity—The Impossibility of Disarmament—The Necessity of Force to ensure Peace—The Federated State of the Future—The Decay of War still leaves the Possibilities of Daring and Heroism.

There are, no doubt, special reasons why at the present time war and the armaments of war should appear an intolerable burden which must be thrown off as soon as possible if the task of social hygiene is not to be seriously impeded. But the abolition of the ancient method of settling international disputes by warfare is not a problem which depends for its solution on the conditions of the moment. It is implicit in the natural development of the process of civilization. At one stage, no doubt, warfare plays an important part in constituting states and so, indirectly, in promoting civilization. But civilization tends slowly but surely to substitute for war in the later stages of this process the methods of law, or, in any case, methods which, while not always unobjectionable, avoid the necessity for any breach of the peace. As soon, indeed, as in primitive society two individuals engage in a dispute which they are compelled to settle not by physical force but by a resort to an impartial tribunal, the thin end of the wedge is introduced, and the ultimate destruction of war becomes merely a matter of time. If it is unreasonable for two individuals to fight it is unreasonable for two groups of individuals to fight.

[313]The difficulty has been that while it is quite easy for an ordered society to compel two individuals to settle their differences before a tribunal, in accordance with abstractly determined principles of law and reason, it is a vastly more difficult matter to compel two groups of individuals so to settle their differences. A large part of the history of all the great European countries has consisted in the progressive conquest and pacification of small but often bellicose states outside, and even inside, their own borders. [223] This is the case even within a community. Hobbes, writing in the midst of a civil war, went so far as to lay down that the "final cause" of a commonwealth is nothing else but the abolition of "that miserable condition of war which is necessarily consequent to the natural passions of men when there is no visible power to keep them in awe." Yet we see to-day that even within our highly civilized communities there is not always any adequately awful power to prevent employers and employed from engaging in what is little better than a civil war, nor even to bind them to accept the decision of an impartial tribunal they may have been persuaded [314]to appeal to. The smallest state can compel its individual citizens to keep the peace; a large state can compel a small state to do so; but hitherto there has been no guarantee possible that large states, or even large compact groups within the state, should themselves keep the peace. They commit what injustice they please, for there is no visible power to keep them in awe. We have attained a condition in which a state is able to enforce a legal and peaceful attitude in its own individual citizens towards each other. The state is the guardian of its citizens' peace, but the old problem recurs: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

It is obvious that this difficulty increases as the size of states increases. To compel a small state to keep the peace by absorbing it if it fails to do so is always an easy and even tempting process to a neighbouring larger state. This process was once carried out on a complete scale, when practically the whole known world was brought under the sway of Rome. "War has ceased," Plutarch was able to declare in the days of the Roman Empire, and, though himself an enthusiastic Greek, he was unbounded in his admiration of the beneficence of the majestic Pax Romana, and never tempted by any narrow spirit of patriotism to desire the restoration of his own country's glories. But the Roman organization broke up, and no single state will ever be strong enough to restore it.

Any attempt to establish orderly legal relationships between states must, therefore, be carried out by the harmonious co-operation of those states. At the end of the sixteenth century a great French statesman, Sully, [315]inspired Henry IV with a scheme of a Council of Confederated European Christian States; each of these states, fifteen in number, was to send four representatives to the Council, which was to sit at Metz or Cologne and regulate the differences between the constituent states of the Confederation. The army of the Confederation was to be maintained in common, and used chiefly to keep the peace, to prevent one sovereign from interfering with any other, and also, if necessary, to repel invasion of barbarians from without. The scheme was arranged in concert with Queen Elizabeth, and twelve of the fifteen Powers had already promised their active co-operation when the assassination of Henry destroyed the whole plan. Such a Confederation was easier to arrange then than it is now, but probably it was more difficult to maintain, and it can scarcely be said that at that date the times were ripe for so advanced a scheme. [224]

To-day the interests of small states are so closely identified with peace that it is seldom difficult to exert pressure on them to maintain it. It is quite another matter with the large states. The fact that during the [316]past half century so much has been done by the larger states to aid the cause of international arbitration, and to submit disputes to international tribunals, shows how powerful the motives for avoiding war are nowadays becoming. But the fact, also, that no country hitherto has abandoned its liberty of withdrawing from peaceful arbitration any question involving "national honour" shows that there is no constituted power strong enough to control large states. For the reservation of questions of national honour from the sphere of law is as absurd as would be any corresponding limitation by individuals of their liability for their acts before the law; it is as though a man were to say: "If I commit a theft I am willing to appear before the court, and will probably pay the penalty demanded; but if it is a question of murder, then my vital interests are at stake, and I deny altogether the right of the court to intervene." It is a reservation fatal to peace, and could not be accepted if pleaded at the bar of any international tribunal with the power to enforce its decisions. "Imagine," says Edward Jenks, in his History of Politics, "a modern judge 'persuading' Mr. William Sikes to 'make it up' with the relatives of his victim, and, on his remaining obdurate, leaving the two families to fight the matter out." Yet that is what was in some degree done in England until medieval times as regards individual crimes, and it is what is still done as regards national crimes, in so far as the appeal to arbitration is limited and voluntary. The proposals, therefore—though not yet accepted by any Government—lately mooted in the United States, in England, and in [317]France, to submit international disputes, without reservation, to an impartial tribunal represent an advance of peculiar significance.

The abolition of collective fighting is so desirable an extension of the abolition of individual fighting, and its introduction has waited so long the establishment of some high compelling power—for the influence of the Religion of Peace has in this matter been less than nil—that it is evident that only the coincidence of very powerful and peculiar factors could have brought the question into the region of practical politics in our own time. There are several such factors, most of which have been developing during a long period, but none have been clearly recognized until recent years. It may be worth while to indicate the great forces now warring against war.

(1) Growth of International Opinion. There can be no doubt whatever that during recent years, and especially in the more democratic countries, an international consensus of public opinion has gradually grown up, making itself the voice, like a Greek chorus, of an abstract justice. It is quite true that of this justice, as of justice generally, it may be said that it has wide limits. Renan declared once, in a famous allocution, that "what is called indulgence is, most often, only justice," and, at the other extreme, Remy de Gourmont has said that "injustice is sometimes a part of justice;" in other words, there are varying circumstances in which justice may properly be tempered either with mercy or with severity. In any case, and however it may be qualified; a popular international voice generously pronouncing itself in favour of [318]justice, and resonantly condemning any Government which clashes against justice, is now a factor of the international situation. It is, moreover, tending to become a factor having a certain influence on affairs. This was the case during the South African War, when England, by offending this international sense of justice, fell into a discredit which had many actual unpleasant results and narrowly escaped, there is some reason to believe, proving still more serious. The same voice was heard with dramatically sudden and startling effect when Ferrer was shot at Barcelona. Ferrer was a person absolutely unknown to the man in the street; he was indeed little more than a name even to those who knew Spain; few could be sure, except by a kind of intuition, that he was the innocent victim of a judicial murder, for it is only now that the fact is being slowly placed beyond dispute. Yet immediately after Ferrer was shot within the walls of Monjuich a great shout of indignation was raised, with almost magical suddenness and harmony, throughout the civilized world, from Italy to Belgium, from England to Argentina. Moreover, this voice was so decisive and so loud that it acted like those legendary trumpet-blasts which shattered the walls of Jericho; in a few days the Spanish Government, with a powerful minister at its head, had fallen. The significance of this event we cannot easily overestimate. For the first time in history, the voice of international public opinion, unsupported by pressure, political, social, or diplomatic, proved potent enough to avenge an act of injustice by destroying a Government. A new force has appeared in the world, [319]and it tends to operate against those countries which are guilty of injustice, whether that injustice is exerted against a State or even only against a single obscure individual. The modern developments of telegraphy and the Press—unfavourable as the Press is in many respects to the cause of international harmony—have placed in the hands of peace this new weapon against war.

(2) International Financial Development. There is another international force which expresses itself in the same sense. The voice of abstract justice raised against war is fortified by the voice of concrete self-interest. The interests of the propertied classes, and therefore of the masses dependent upon them, are to-day so widely distributed throughout the world that whenever any country is plunged into a disastrous war there arises in every other country, especially in rich and prosperous lands with most at stake, a voice of self-interest in harmony with the voice of justice. It is sometimes said that wars are in the interest of capital, and of capital alone, and that they are engineered by capitalists masquerading under imposing humanitarian disguises. That is doubtless true to the extent that every war cannot fail to benefit some section of the capitalistic world, which will therefore favour it, but it is true to that extent only. The old notion that war and the acquisition of territories encouraged trade by opening up new markets has proved fallacious. The extension of trade is a matter of tariffs rather than of war, and in any case the trade of a country with its own acquisitions by conquest is a comparatively insignificant portion of its total trade. But even if the [320]financial advantages of war were much greater than they are, they would be more than compensated by the disadvantages which nowadays attend war. International financial relationships have come to constitute a network of interests so vast, so complicated, so sensitive, that the whole thrills responsively to any disturbing touch, and no one can say beforehand what widespread damage may not be done by shock even at a single point. When a country is at war its commerce is at once disorganized, that is to say that its shipping, and the shipping of all the countries that carry its freights, is thrown out of gear to a degree that often cannot fail to be internationally disastrous. Foreign countries cannot send in the imports that lie on their wharves for the belligerent country, nor can they get out of it the exports they need for their own maintenance or luxury. Moreover, all the foreign money invested in the belligerent country is depreciated and imperilled. The international voice of trade and finance is, therefore, to-day mainly on the side of peace.

It must be added that this voice is not, as it might seem, a selfish voice only. It is justifiable not only in immediate international interests, but even in the ultimate interests of the belligerent country, and not less so if that country should prove victorious. So far as business and money are concerned, a country gains nothing by a successful war, even though that war involves the acquisition of immense new provinces; after a great war a conquered country may possess more financial stability than its conqueror, and both may stand lower in this respect than some other country which is internationally [321]guaranteed against war. Such points as these have of late been ably argued by Norman Angell in his remarkable book, The Great Illusion, and for the most part convincingly illustrated. [225] As was long since said, the ancients cried, Væ victis! We have learnt to cry, Væ victoribus!

It may, indeed, be added that the general tendency of war—putting aside peoples altogether lacking in stamina—is to moralize the conquered and to demoralise the conquerors. This effect is seen alike on the material and the spiritual sides. Conquest brings self-conceit and intolerance, the reckless inflation and dissipation of energies. Defeat brings prudence and concentration; it ennobles and fortifies. All the glorious victories of the first Napoleon achieved less for France than the crushing defeat of the third Napoleon. The triumphs left enfeeblement; the defeat acted as a strong tonic which is still working beneficently to-day. The corresponding reverse process has been at work in Germany: the German soil that Napoleon ploughed yielded a Moltke and a Bismarck, [226] while to-day, however mistakenly, the German Press is crying out that only another war—it ought in honesty to say an unsuccessful war—can restore the nation's flaccid muscle. It is yet too early to see the [322]results of the Russo-Japanese War, but already there are signs that by industrial overstrain and the repression of individual thought Japan is threatening to enfeeble the physique and to destroy the high spirit of the indomitable men to whom she owed her triumph.

(3) The Decreasing Pressure of Population. It was at one time commonly said, and is still sometimes repeated, that the pressure of over-population is the chief cause of wars. That is a statement which requires a very great deal of qualification. It is, indeed, possible that the great hordes of warlike barbarians from the North and the East which invaded Europe in early times, sometimes more or less overwhelming the civilized world, were the result of a rise in the birth-rate and an excess of population beyond the means of subsistence. But this is far from certain, for we know absolutely nothing concerning the birth-rate of these invading peoples either before or during the period of their incursions. Again, it is certain that, in modern times, a high and rising birth-rate presents a favourable condition for war. A war distracts attention from the domestic disturbances and economic wretchedness which a too rapid growth of population necessarily produces, while at the same time tending to draw away and destroy the surplus population which causes this disturbance and wretchedness. Yet there are other ways of meeting this over-population beside the crude method of war. Social reform and emigration furnish equally effective and much more humane methods of counteracting such pressure. No doubt the over-population resulting from an excessively high birth-rate, [323]when not met, as it tends to be, by a correspondingly high death-rate from disease, may be regarded as a predisposing cause of war, but to assert that it is the pre-eminent cause is to go far beyond the evidence at present available.

To whatever degree, however, it may have been potent in causing war in the past, it is certain that the pressure of population as a cause of war will be eliminated in the future. The only nations nowadays that can afford to make war on the grand scale are the wealthy and civilized nations. But civilization excludes a high birth-rate: there has never been any exception to that law, nor can we conceive any exceptions, for it is more than a social law; it is a biological law. Russia, a still imperfectly civilized country, stands apart in having a very high birth-rate, but it also has a very high death-rate, and even should it happen that in Russia improved social conditions lower the death-rate before affecting the birth-rate, there is still ample room within Russian territory for the consequent increase of population. Among all the other nations which are considered to threaten the world's peace, the birth-rate is rapidly falling. This is so, for instance, as regards England and Germany. Germany, especially, it was once thought—though in actual fact Germany has not fought for over forty years—had an interest in going to war in order to find an outlet for her surplus population, compelled, in the absence of suitable German colonies, to sacrifice its patriotism and lose its nationality by emigrating to foreign countries. But the German birth-rate is falling, German emigration is decreasing, and the [324]immense growth of German industry is easily able to absorb the new generation. Thus the declining birth-rate of civilized lands will alone largely serve in the end to eliminate warfare, partly by removing one of its causes, partly because the increased value of human life will make war too costly.

(4) The Natural Exhaustion of the Warlike Spirit. It is a remarkable tendency of the warlike spirit—frequently emphasized in recent years by the distinguished zoologist, President D.S. Jordan, who here follows Novikov [227]—that it tends to exterminate itself. Fighting stocks, and peoples largely made up of fighting stocks, are naturally killed out, and the field is left to the unwarlike. It is only the prudent, those who fight and run away, who live to fight another day; and they transmit their prudence to their offspring. Great Britain is a conspicuous example of a land which, being an island, was necessarily peopled by predatory and piratical invaders. A long series of warlike and adventurous peoples—Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Danes, Normans—built up England and imparted to it their spirit. The English were, it was said, "a people for whom pain and death are nothing, and who only fear hunger and boredom." But for over eight hundred years they have never been reinforced by new invaders, and the inevitable consequences have followed. There has been a gradual killing out of the warlike stocks, a process immensely accelerated during the [325]nineteenth century by a vast emigration of the more adventurous elements in the population, pressed out of the overcrowded country by the reckless and unchecked increase of the population which occurred during the first three-quarters of that century. The result is that the English (except sometimes when they happen to be journalists) cannot now be described as a warlike people. Old legends tell of British heroes who, when their legs were hacked away, still fought upon the stumps. Modern poets feel that to picture a British warrior of to-day in this attitude would be somewhat far-fetched. The historian of the South African War points out, again and again, that the British leaders showed a singular lack of the fighting spirit. During that war English generals seldom cared to engage the enemy's forces except when their own forces greatly outnumbered them, and on many occasions they surrendered immediately they realized that they were themselves outnumbered. Those reckless Englishmen who boldly sailed out from their little island to face the Spanish Armada were long ago exterminated; an admirably prudent and cautious race has been left alive.

It is the same story elsewhere. The French long cherished the tradition of military glory, and no country has fought so much. We see the result to-day. In no country is the attitude of the intellectual classes so calm and so reasonable on the subject of war, and nowhere is the popular hostility to war so strongly marked. [228] Spain [326]furnishes another instance which is even still more decisive. The Spanish were of old a pre-eminently warlike people, capable of enduring all hardships, never fearing to face death. Their aggressively warlike and adventurous spirit sent them to death all over the world. It cannot be said, even to-day, that the Spaniards have lost their old tenacity and hardness of fibre, but their passion for war and adventure was killed out three centuries ago.

In all these and the like cases there has been a process of selective breeding, eliminating the soldierly stocks and leaving the others to breed the race. The men who so loved fighting that they fought till they died had few chances of propagating their own warlike impulses. The men who fought and ran away, the men who never fought at all, were the men who created the new generation and transmitted to it their own traditions.

This selective process, moreover, has not merely acted automatically; it has been furthered by social opinion and social pressure, sometimes very drastically expressed. Thus in the England of the Plantagenets there grew up a class called "gentlemen"—not, as has sometimes been [327]supposed, a definitely defined class, though they were originally of good birth—whose chief characteristic was that they were good fighting men, and sought fortune by fighting. The "premier gentleman" of England, according to Sir George Sitwell, and an entirely typical representative of his class, was a certain glorious hero who fought with Talbot at Agincourt, and also, as the unearthing of obscure documents shows, at other times indulged in housebreaking, and in wounding with intent to kill, and in "procuring the murder of one Thomas Page, who was cut to pieces while on his knees begging for his life." There, evidently, was a state of society highly favourable to the warlike man, highly unfavourable to the unwarlike man whom he slew in his wrath. Nowadays, however, there has been a revaluation of these old values. The cowardly and no doubt plebeian Thomas Page, multiplied by the million, has succeeded in hoisting himself into the saddle, and he revenges himself by discrediting, hunting into the slums, and finally hanging, every descendant he can find of the premier gentleman of Agincourt.

It must be added that the advocates of the advantages of war are not entitled to claim this process of selective breeding as one of the advantages of war. It is quite true that war is incompatible with a high civilization, and must in the end be superseded. But this method of suppressing it is too thorough. It involves not merely the extermination of the fighting spirit, but of many excellent qualities, physical and moral, which are associated with the fighting spirit. Benjamin Franklin seems to have [328]been the first to point out that "a standing army diminishes the size and breed of the human species." Almost in Franklin's lifetime that was demonstrated on a wholesale scale, for there seems little reason to doubt that the size and stature of the French nation have been permanently diminished by the constant levies of young recruits, the flower of the population, whom Napoleon sent out to death in their first manhood and still childless. Fine physical breed involves also fine qualities of virility and daring which are needed for other purposes than fighting. In so far as the selective breeding of war kills these out, its results are imperfect, and could be better attained by less radical methods.

(5) The Growth of the Anti-Military Spirit. The decay of the warlike spirit by the breeding out of fighting stocks has in recent years been reinforced by a more acute influence of which in the near future we shall certainly hear more. This is the spirit of anti-militarism. This spirit is an inevitable result of the decay of the fighting spirit. In a certain sense it is also complementary to it. The survival of non-fighting stocks by the destruction of the fighting stocks works most effectually in countries having a professional army. The anti-military spirit, on the contrary, works effectually in countries having a national army in which it is compulsory for all young citizens to serve, for it is only in such countries that the anti-militarist can, by refusing to serve, take an influential position as a martyr in the cause of peace.

Among the leading nations, it is in France that the spirit of anti-militarism has taken the deepest hold of [329]the people, though in some smaller lands, notably among the obstinately peaceable inhabitants of Holland, the same spirit also flourishes. Hervé, who is a leader of the insurrectional socialists, as they are commonly called in opposition to the purely parliamentary socialists led by Jaurès,—though the insurrectional socialists also use parliamentary methods,—may be regarded as the most conspicuous champion of anti-militarism, and many of his followers have suffered imprisonment as the penalty of their convictions. In France the peasant proprietors in the country and the organized workers in the town are alike sympathetic to anti-militarism. The syndicalists, or labour unionists with the Confédération Générale du Travail as their central organization, are not usually anxious to imitate what they consider the unduly timid methods of English trade unionists; [229] they tend to be revolutionary and anti-military. The Congress of delegates of French Trade Unions, held at Toulouse in 1910, passed the significant resolution that "a declaration of war should be followed by the declaration of a general revolutionary strike." The same tendency, though in a less radical form, is becoming international, and the great International Socialist Congress at Copenhagen has passed a resolution instructing the International Bureau to "take the opinion of the organized workers of the world on the [330]utility of a general strike in preventing war." [230] Even the English working classes are slowly coming into line. At a Conference of Labour Delegates, held at Leicester in 1911, to consider the Copenhagen resolution, the policy of the anti-military general strike was defeated by only a narrow majority, on the ground that it required further consideration, and might be detrimental to political action; but as most of the leaders are in favour of the strike policy there can be no doubt that this method of combating war will shortly be the accepted policy of the English Labour movement. In carrying out such a policy the Labour Party expects much help from the growing social and political power of women. The most influential literary advocate of the Peace movement, and one of the earliest, has been a woman, the Baroness Bertha von Suttner, and it is held to be incredible that the wives and mothers of the people will use their power to support an institution which represents the most brutal method of destroying their husbands and sons. "The cause of woman," says Novikov, "is the cause of peace." "We pay the first cost on all human life," says Olive Schreiner. [231]

[331]The anti-militarist, as things are at present, exposes himself not only to the penalty of imprisonment, but also to obloquy. He has virtually refused to take up arms in defence of his country; he has sinned against patriotism. This accusation has led to a counter-accusation directed against the very idea of patriotism. Here the writings of Tolstoy, with their poignant and searching appeals for the cause of humanity as against the cause of patriotism, have undoubtedly served the anti-militarists well, and wherever the war against war is being urged, even so far as Japan, Tolstoy has furnished some of its keenest weapons. Moreover, in so far as anti-militarism is advocated by the workers, they claim that international interests have already effaced and superseded the narrower interests of patriotism. In refusing to fight, the workers of a country are simply declaring their loyalty to fellow-workers on the other side of the frontier, a loyalty which has stronger claims on them, they hold, than any patriotism which simply means loyalty to capitalists; [332]geographical frontiers are giving place to economic frontiers, which now alone serve to separate enemies. And if, as seems probable, when the next attempt is made at a great European war, the order for mobilization is immediately followed in both countries by the declaration of a general strike, there will be nothing to say against such a declaration even from the standpoint of the narrowest patriotism, although there may be much to say on other grounds against the policy of the general strike. [232]

If we realize what is going on around us, it is easy to see that the anti-militarist movement is rapidly reaching a stage when it will be easily able, even unaided, to paralyse any war immediately and automatically. The pioneers in the movement have played the same part as was played in the seventeenth century by the Quakers. In the name of the Bible and their own consciences, the Quakers refused to recognize the right of any secular authority to compel them to worship or to fight; they [333]gained what they struggled for, and now all men honour their memories. In the name of justice and human fraternity, the anti-militarists are to-day taking the like course and suffering the like penalties. To-morrow, they also will be revered as heroes and martyrs.

(6) The Over-growth of Armaments. The hostile forces so far enumerated have converged slowly on to war from such various directions that they may be said to have surrounded and isolated it; its ultimate surrender can only be a matter of time. Of late, however, a new factor has appeared, of so urgent a character that it is fast rendering the question of the abolition of war acute: the over-growth of armaments. This is, practically, a modern factor in the situation, and while it is, on the surface, a luxury due to the large surplus of wealth in great modern states, it is also, if we look a little deeper, intimately connected with that decay of the warlike spirit due to selective breeding. It is the weak and timid woman who looks nervously under the bed for the burglar who is the last person she really desires to meet, and it is old, rich, and unwarlike nations which take the lead in laboriously protecting themselves against enemies of whom there is no sign in any quarter. Within the last half-century only have the nations of the world begun to compete with each other in this timorous and costly rivalry. In the warlike days of old, armaments in time of peace consisted in little more than solid walls for defence, a supply of weapons stored away here and there, sometimes in a room attached to the parish church, and occasional martial exercises with the sword or the bow, which were little more than [334]an amusement. The true fighting man trusted to his own strong right arm rather than to armaments, and considered that he was himself a match for any half-dozen of the enemy. Even in actual time of war it was often difficult to find either zeal or money to supply the munitions of war. The Diary of the industrious Pepys, who achieved so much for the English navy, shows that the care of the country's ships mainly depended on a few unimportant officials who had the greatest trouble in the world to secure attention to the most urgent and immediate needs.

A very difficult state of things prevails to-day. The existence of a party having for its watchword the cry for retrenchment and economy is scarcely possible in a modern state. All the leading political parties in every great state—if we leave aside the party of Labour—are equally eager to pile up the expenditure on armaments. It is the boast of each party, not that it spends less, but more, than its rivals on this source of expenditure, now the chief in every large state. Moreover, every new step in expenditure involves a still further step; each new improvement in attack or defence must immediately be answered by corresponding or better improvements on the part of rival powers, if they are not to be outclassed. Every year these moves and counter-moves necessarily become more extensive, more complex, more costly; while each counter-move involves the obsolescence of the improvements achieved by the previous move, so that the waste of energy and money keeps pace with the expenditure. It is well recognized that there is absolutely no [335]possible limit to this process and its constantly increasing acceleration.

There is no need to illustrate this point, for it is familiar to all. Any newspaper will furnish facts and figures vividly exemplifying some aspect of the matter. For while only a handful of persons in any country are sincerely anxious under present conditions to reduce the colossal sums every year wasted on the unproductive work of armament; an increasing interest in the matter testifies to a vague alarm and anxiety concerning the ultimate issue. For it is felt that an inevitable crisis lies at the end of the path down which the nations are now moving.

Thus, from this point of view, the end of war is being attained by a process radically opposite to that by which in the social as well as in the physical organism ancient structures and functions are outgrown. The usual process is a gradual recession to a merely vestigial state. But here what may perhaps be the same ultimate result is being reached by the more alarming method of over-inflation and threatening collapse. It is an alarming process because those huge and heavily armed monsters of primeval days who furnish the zoological types corresponding to our modern over-armed states, themselves died out from the world when their unwieldy armament had reached its final point of expansion. Will our own modern states, one wonders, more fortunately succeed in escaping from the tough hides that ever more closely constrict them, and finally save their souls alive?

(7) The Dominance of Social Reform. The final factor [336]in the situation is the growing dominance of the process of social reform. On the one hand, the increasing complexity of social organisation renders necessary a correspondingly increasing expenditure of money in diminishing its friction and aiding its elaboration; on the other hand, the still more rapidly increasing demands of armament render it ever more difficult to devote money to such social purposes. Everywhere even the most elementary provision for the finer breeding and higher well-being of a country's citizens is postponed to the clamour for ever new armaments. The situation thus created is rapidly becoming intolerable.

It is not alone the future of civilization which is for ever menaced by the possibility of war; the past of civilization, with all the precious embodiments of its traditions, is even more fatally imperilled. As the world grows older and the ages recede, the richer, the more precious, the more fragile, become the ancient heirlooms of humanity. They constitute the final symbols of human glory; they cannot be too carefully guarded, too highly valued. But all the other dangers that threaten their integrity and safety, if put together, do not equal war. No land that has ever been a cradle of civilization but bears witness to this sad truth. All the sacred citadels, the glories of humanity,—Jerusalem and Athens, Rome and Constantinople,—have been ravaged by war, and, in every case, their ruin has been a disaster that can never be repaired. If we turn to the minor glories of more modern ages, the special treasure of England has been its parish churches, a treasure of unique charm in the [337]world and the embodiment of the people's spirit: to-day in their battered and irreparable condition they are the monuments of a Civil War waged all over the country with ruthless religious ferocity. Spain, again, was a land which had stored up, during long centuries, nearly the whole of its accumulated possessions in every art, sacred and secular, of fabulous value, within the walls of its great fortress-like cathedrals; Napoleon's soldiers over-ran the land, and brought with them rapine and destruction; so that in many a shrine, as at Montserrat, we still can see how in a few days they turned a Paradise into a desert. It is not only the West that has suffered. In China the rarest and loveliest wares and fabrics that the hand of man has wrought were stored in the Imperial Palace of Pekin; the savage military hordes of the West broke in less than a century ago and recklessly trampled down and fired all that they could not loot. In every such case the loss is final; the exquisite incarnation of some stage in the soul of man that is for ever gone is permanently diminished, deformed, or annihilated.

At the present time all civilized countries are becoming keenly aware of the value of their embodied artistic possessions. This is shown, in the most decisive manner possible, by the enormous prices placed upon them. Their pecuniary value enables even the stupidest and most unimaginative to realize the crime that is committed when they are ruthlessly and wantonly destroyed. Nor is it only the products of ancient art which have to-day become so peculiarly valuable. The products of modern science are only less valuable. So highly complex and [338]elaborate is the mechanism now required to ensure progress in some of the sciences that enormous sums of money, the most delicate skill, long periods of time, are necessary to produce it. Galileo could replace his telescope with but little trouble; the destruction of a single modern observatory would be almost a calamity to the human race.

Such considerations as these are, indeed, at last recognized in all civilized countries. The engines of destruction now placed at the service of war are vastly more potent than any used in the wars of the past. On the other hand, the value of the products they can destroy is raised in a correspondingly high degree. But a third factor is now intervening. And if the museums of Paris or the laboratories of Berlin were threatened by a hostile army it would certainly be felt that an international power, if it existed, should be empowered to intervene, at whatever cost to national susceptibilities, in order to keep the peace. Civilization, we now realize, is wrought out of inspirations and discoveries which are for ever passed and repassed from land to land; it cannot be claimed by any individual land. A nation's art-products and its scientific activities are not mere national property; they are international possessions, for the joy and service of the whole world. The nations hold them in trust for humanity. The international force which will inspire respect for that truth it is our business to create.

The only question that remains—and it is a question the future alone will solve—is the particular point at which this ancient and overgrown stronghold of war, now [339]being invested so vigorously from so many sides, will finally be overthrown, whether from within or from without, whether by its own inherent weakness, by the persuasive reasonableness of developing civilization, by the self-interest of the commercial and financial classes, or by the ruthless indignation of the proletariat. That is a problem still insoluble, but it is not impossible that some already living may witness its solution.

Two centuries ago the Abbé de Saint-Pierre set forth his scheme for a federation of the States of Europe, which meant, at that time, a federation of all the civilised states of the world. It was the age of great ideas, scattered abroad to germinate in more practical ages to come. The amiable Abbé enjoyed all the credit of his large and philanthropic conceptions. But no one dreamed of realizing them, and the forces which alone could realize them had not yet appeared above the horizon. [233] In this [340]matter, at all events, the world has progressed, and a federation of the States of the world is no longer the mere conception of a philosophic dreamer. The first step will be taken when two of the leading countries of the world—and it would be most reasonable for the states having the closest community of origin and language to take the initiative—resolve to submit all their differences without reserve to arbitration. As soon as a third power of magnitude joined this federation the nucleus would be constituted of a world state. Such a state would be able to impose peace on even the most recalcitrant outside states, for it would furnish that "visible power to keep them in awe," which Hobbes rightly declared to be indispensable; it could even, in the last resort, if necessary, enforce peace by war. Thus there might still be war in the world. But there would be no wars that were not Holy Wars. There are other methods than war of enforcing peace, and these such a federation of great states would be easily able to bring to bear on even the most warlike of states, but the necessity of a mighty armed international force would remain for a long time to come. To suppose, as some seem to suppose, that the establishment of arbitration in place of war means immediate disarmament is an idle dream. At Conferences of the English Labour Party on this question, the most active [341]opposition to the proposed strike method for rendering war impossible comes from the delegates representing the workers in arsenals and dockyards. But there is no likelihood of arsenals and dockyards closing in the lifetime of the present workers, and though the establishment of peaceful methods of settling international disputes cannot fail to diminish the number of the workers who live by armament, it will be long before they can be dispensed with altogether.

It is, indeed, so common to regard the person who points out the inevitable bankruptcy of war under highly civilized conditions as a mere Utopian dreamer, that it becomes necessary to repeat, with all the emphasis necessary, that the settlement of international disputes by law cannot be achieved by disarmament, or by any method not involving force. All law, even the law that settles the disputes of individuals, has force behind it, and the law that is to settle the disputes between nations cannot possibly be effective unless it has behind it a mighty force. I have assumed this from the outset in quoting the dictum of Hobbes, but the point seems to be so easily overlooked by the loose thinker that it is necessary to reiterate it. The necessity of force behind the law ordering international relations has, indeed, never been disputed by any sagacious person who has occupied himself with the matter. Even William Penn, who, though a Quaker, was a practical man of affairs, when in 1693 he put forward his Essay Towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe by the Establishment of a European Diet, Parliament or Estate, proposed that if any imperial [342]state refused to submit its pretensions to the sovereign assembly and to abide by its decisions, or took up arms on its own behalf, "all the other sovereignties, united as one strength, shall compel the submission and performance of the sentence, with damages to the suffering party, and charges to the sovereignties that obliged their submission." In repudiating some injudicious and hazardous pacificist considerations put forth by Novikov, the distinguished French philosopher, Jules de Gaultier, points out that law has no rights against war save in force, on which war itself bases its rights. "Force in abstracto creates right. It is quite unimaginable that a right should exist which has not been affirmed at some moment as a reality, that is to say a force.... What we glorify under the name of right is only a more intense and habitual state of force which we oppose to a less frequent form of force." [234] The old Quaker and the modern philosopher are thus at one with the practical man in rejecting any form of pacification which rests on a mere appeal to reason and justice.

[343]It cannot be said that the progress of civilization has so far had any tendency to render unnecessary the point of view adopted by Penn and Jules de Gaultier. The acts of states to-day are apt to be just as wantonly aggressive as they ever were, as reckless of reason and of justice. There is no country, however high it may stand in the comity of nations, which is not sometimes carried away by the blind fever of war. France, the land of reason, echoed, only forty years ago, with the mad cry, "À Berlin!" England, the friend of the small nationalities, jubilantly, with even an air of heroism, crushed under foot the little South African Republics, and hounded down every Englishman who withstood the madness of the crowd. The great, free intelligent people of the United States went to war against Spain with a childlike faith in the preposterous legend of the blowing up of the Maine. There is no country which has not some such shameful page in its history, the record of some moment when its moral and intellectual prestige was besmirched in the eyes of the whole world. It pays for its momentary madness, it may valiantly strive to atone for its injustice, but the damaging record remains. The supersession of war is needed not merely in the interests of the victims of aggression; it is needed fully as much in the interests of the aggressors, driven by their own momentary passions, or by the ambitious follies of their rulers, towards crimes for which a terrible penalty is exacted. There has never been any country at every moment so virtuous and so wise that it has not sometimes needed to be saved from itself. For every country has sometimes gone mad, while every [344]other country has looked on its madness with the mocking calm of clear-sighted intelligence, and perhaps with a pharisaical air of virtuous indignation.

During the single year of 1911 the process was unrolled in its most complete form. The first bad move—though it was a relatively small and inoffensive move—was made by France. The Powers, after much deliberation, had come to certain conclusions concerning Morocco, and while giving France a predominant influence in that country, had carefully limited her power of action. But France, anxious to increase her hold on the land, sent out, with the usual pretexts, an unnecessary expedition to Fez. Had an international tribunal with an adequate force behind it been in existence, France would have been called upon to justify her action, and whether she succeeded or failed in such justification, no further evils would have occurred. But there was no force able or willing to call France to account, and the other Powers found it a simpler plan to follow her example than to check it. In pursuance of this policy, Germany sent a warship to the Moroccan port of Agadir, using the same pretext as the French, with even less justification. When the supreme military power of the world wags even a finger the whole world is thrown into a state of consternation. That happened on the present occasion, though, as a matter of fact, giants are not given to reckless violence, and Germany, far from intending to break the world's peace, merely used her power to take advantage of France's bad move. She agreed to condone France's mistake, and to resign to her the Moroccan rights to which [345]neither country had the slightest legitimate claim, in return for an enormous tract of land in another part of Africa. Now, so far, the game had been played in accordance with rules which, though by no means those of abstract justice, were fairly in accordance with the recognized practices of nations. But now another Power was moved to far more openly unscrupulous action. It has long been recognized that if there must be a partition of North Africa, Italy's share is certainly Tripoli. The action of France and of Germany stirred up in Italy the feeling that now or never was the moment for action, and with brutal recklessness, and the usual pretexts, now flimsier than ever, Italy made war on Turkey, without offer of mediation, in flagrant violation of her own undertakings at the Hague Peace Convention of 1899. There was now only one Mohammedan country left to attack, and it was Russia's turn to make the attack. Northern Persia—the most civilized and fruitful half of Persia—had been placed under the protection of Russia, and Russia, after cynically doing her best to make good government in Persia impossible, seized on the pretext of the bad government to invade the country. If the Powers of Europe had wished to demonstrate the necessity for a great international tribunal, with a mighty force behind it to ensure the observance of its decisions, they could not have devised a more effective demonstration.

Thus it is that there can be no question of disarmament at present, and that there can be no effective international tribunal unless it has behind it an effective army. A [346]great army must continue to exist apart altogether from the question as to whether the army in itself is a school of virtue or of vice. Both these views of its influence have been held in extreme forms, and both seem to be without any great justification. On this point we may perhaps accept the conclusion of Professor Guérard, who can view the matter from a fairly impartial standpoint, having served in the French army, closely studied the life of the people in London, and occupied a professorial chair in California. He denies that an army is a school of all the vices, but he is also unable to see that it exercises an elevating influence on any but the lowest: "A regiment is not much worse than a big factory. Factory life in Europe is bad enough; military service extends its evils to agricultural labourers, and also to men who would otherwise have escaped these lowering influences. As for traces of moral uplift in the army, I have totally failed to notice any. War may be a stern school of virtue; barrack life is not. Honour, duty, patriotism, are feelings instilled at school; they do not develop, but often deteriorate, during the term of compulsory service." [235]

But, as we have seen, and as Guérard admits, it is probable that wars will be abolished generations before armies are suppressed. The question arises what we are to do with our armies. There seem to be at least two ways in which armies may be utilized, as we may already see in France, and perhaps to some slight extent in England. In the first place, the army may be made a [347]great educational agency, an academy of arts and sciences, a school of citizenship. In the second place, armies are tending to become, as William James pointed out, the reserve force of peace, great organized unemployed bodies of men which can be brought into use during sudden emergencies and national disasters. Thus the French army performed admirable service during the great Seine floods a few years ago, and both in France and in England the army has been called upon to help to carry on public duties indispensable to the welfare of the nation during great strikes, though here it would be unfortunate if the army came to be regarded as a mere strike-breaking corps. Along these main lines, however, there are, as Guérard has pointed out, signs of a transformation which, while preserving armies for international use, yet point to a compromise between the army and modern democracy.

It is feared by some that the reign of universal peace will deprive them of the opportunity of exhibiting daring and heroism. Without inquiring too carefully what use has been made of their present opportunities by those who express this fear, it must be said that such a fear is altogether groundless. There are an infinite number of positions in life in which courage is needed, as much as on a battlefield, though, for the most part, with less risk of that total annihilation which in the past has done so much to breed out the courageous stocks. Moreover, the certain establishment of peace will immensely enlarge the scope for daring and adventure in the social sphere. There are departments in the higher breeding and social evolution of the race—some perhaps even involving [348]questions of life and death—where the highest courage is needed. It would be premature to discuss them, for they can scarcely enter the field of practical politics until war has been abolished. But those persons who are burning to display heroism may rest assured that the course of social evolution will offer them every opportunity.

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