Liberty And Equality In International Aspect: So far, I have discussed conceptions of liberty and equality as though they raised problems soluble within the confines of a single State. But in fact the issues go far beyond that territorial limitation. World co-operation, as I argued earlier, has advanced to the point where we must legislate for civilization as a whole. We have, therefore, in matters of common world concern, to apply methods which affect the Bantu in Africa and the Melanesian in the Pacific as well as the Englishman and the Frenchman.
What do liberty and equality mean in the presence of such complexities? The Dutchman in Java finds his freedom in the application of all his powers to an intense labor for wealth built upon a supply of native workers. The Javanese means by freedom such spasmodic effort as will give him the food he wants, and, otherwise, leave him to lie out in the enjoyment of the sun.
How are these different wants to be reconciled? How are we to assure, for instance, equality of treatment between black and white in tropical Africa, when the fact from which. we start is that of unequal power? How are we to ensure in a conference of European States that the interests of Switzerland will be considered equally with the interests of England, or Russia, or France ?
Until the Peace of Versailles, the common method was to assume the equality of States in international law, and to leave each State free to discover, by what means it would, its own salvation, and force resided in the background as the sanction most likely to secure the ultimate solution. But it is obvious that, for example, Nicaragua and the United States, Venezuela and England, cannot really, in vital matters, bargain on equal terms. Even the most genial fictions of law cannot make a small State equal to a great one.
The possibility of equal consideration and, consequently of freedom, depends upon two things. It depends first upon the outlawry of war. Concepts like freedom are devoid of meaning so long as a State is free to force its solution upon its neighbor. But the outlawry of war depends, in its turn, upon the building of international institutions which are capable of mobilizing the authority of the world against any belligerent.
That will be the outcome only of a proof that international institutions can be built which take the problems which give rise to war on to a plan of discussion where they can be analyses in terms of reason. Such institutions will not, I think, be discovered by counting each State as equal in voting power to every other State. It will be impossible to make a league of States effective by the maintenance of that fiction.
The solution rather lies in choosing the subjects of international control and finding a method of proportional representation for their governance. There will emerge, for instance, the view that only Englishmen can choose the Prime Minister of England, but that the size of the British Navy is a matter for international determination.
France may settle the foreign languages to be taught in her schools, but the character of her foreign loans will be settled by international consent. Each State will be entitled to bargain, to criticize, to object, but when the decision is given against her, she will be compelled to give way. Equality, then, will mean
- That the method of discussion gives full weight to the facts each State puts forward,
- That the use of force is ruled out from consideration.
Freedom will mean that without the ambit of international control each State is entitled to decide its own life just as, that is, no individual, can find freedom outside the common rules of his society, so, also, no State can find freedom save by accepting limitation of its sovereignty by the will formed by the common decision of a society of States.
That this habit of rational settlement will be slow in growth needs no emphasis. At the moment I am concerned only to argue that the solution lies in conceiving of the world as a federal State, the members of which do not possess equal voting power.
The problem, I suggest, is one of starting a tradition of inquiry and judgment, and finding the appropriate institutions for the range of questions such a federal State will have to administer. When once a great State accepts a verdict given against her we shall at least have begun the exploration of such a tradition. When once a great subject-the protection of the native races, for example is administered with competence by an international authority we shall have begun the building of a belief in its possibilities.
Freedom will come to mean only self-determination in the things peculiar to a given State, outside that sphere it will mean freedom to state a case and not the right to begin war. Equality will mean that the solutions adopted say in access to raw materials-seek the statistical measurement of need in one range of problems with assurance of response to it in another it will mean the protection afforded by the presence in an international organization of other States whose representatives assist in the making of decisions.
The more these issues are brought before international authorities, the more they will be found susceptible of such treatment. The responsibility of Serbia for the assassinations of Serajevo was a subject obviously capable of intellectual inquiry.
The action of Austria settled nothing about the facts, she used her power and her prestige to make judgment impossible. Had Serbia, upon investigation, been found guilty, punishment could have been assessed in a way which would have made equality real, in that both States,though unequal in power, would have been equally bound by a body external to them both. If she was innocent, a world war, which involved the destruction of Austria-Hungary, was a, heavy price to pay for a mistaken notion of prestige.
Those, in truth, who talk of non-justifiable disputes do sorry service to civilization. They speak in terms of a historic condition which no longer fits the facts of the World. To suggest that a nation is humiliated by being proved in error is as wise as to suggest that trial by battle is likely to result in justice.
A power, indeed, which urges its prestige as a means of evading international jurisdiction is fairly certain to be wrong. The prestige of England was not diminished when she submitted the Alabama incident to arbitration, what lowered her prestige was the administrative carelessness in permitting the incident to occur.
States, like men, never protest their honour loudly unless they have a bad case to argue. And if it be said that this is to over rationalize a problem in which the exercise of reason is inadmissible, the answer is that our choice is between the deliberate adoption of reason and an anarchy which, by the weapons at its disposal, is like to make civilization itself a legend buried beneath the ruins of its discoveries.
The situation is somewhat different in the case of subject peoples. No institutions can give genuine equality to a discussion between a European race and, say, the Bushmen of Australia. The problem here is rather the discovery of principles which, when applied, will enable the backward races to draw from life such means of happiness as they desire, adding thereto the benefits that scientific discovery will enable us to confer upon them.
We must, it seems clear, prohibit slavery, and human sacrifice and tribal warfare. We must reserve for them the lands of which they have need. We must prohibit all forced labor save where it is devoted to such public matters as the making of roads. We must utilize the tribal organization for all the purposes to which it seems obviously suited.
We must prevent such traffic that, for instance, in drink-as we know to be destructive of native morale. We must allow no traders to make contracts with the native save , under supervision of officials, and that the more particularly when natural resources are in question. Above all, it is essential that those who enter the public service among these subject-peoples should be fully trained in that knowledge which can only be real when the results of anthropological science are behind it.
It is no use sending out a man to Africa who has not already learned the true method of approach to its problems. He will not learn it from the European society there. He will only learn it adequately from the native himself if he has been given beforehand that point of view which is the clue to its sympathetic interpretation.
Most native customs, weird as they are to the European mind, have their roots deep in the tribal consciousness. To adjust them forcibly to a point of view the native finds inexplicable is to destroy for him all that gives his life its meaning. The result is a psychological malaise which ruins his happiness.
Nor can we allow any State the full control of territory mandated to it. What it does there, the method and the results of its administration, it must answer for to an international organization. That involves, I think, something more than the issue of a report by the mandatory power.
It means some such institution as the presence of an international minister at the capital of the territory who will watch the interests of the natives in the same way, for example, as the French Ambassador watches the interests of Frenchmen in London.
He will be entitled to inspect and to report. His word will carry weight against the pronouncement of the mandatory power. He will be able to suspend projected action, to warn and to encourage. He ought, it is clear, only in rare cases to be of the same nationality as the power in actual control. Only when, fer example, South Africa knows that there is independent authority to report upon its activities will the suppression of an emeute like that of the Bondelwarts rebellion become definitively impossible.
This is of course, frankly to abandon the meaning of freedom and equality in the sense those terms possess in the context of Western civilization. On any realistic analysis, it is necessary to abandon them. The formulation by the native of-his wants deserves all the response we can give, but it must be admitted that the clash of backward and advanced civilizations means that the wants formulated must be met by special considerations.
There is, I think, more likelihood that the Zulu or the Hottentot will achieve what he will regard as a full life under such conditions of protection as those outlined than if we proceed upon the basis that he is being made ready for Western institutions. What Graham Wallas has called “the Optimistic ethnology of Exeter Hall ” is the most fatal attitude in which to approach these questions.
It destroys all that has meaning for the native by denying, at the outset, all that gives color and substance to the life he knows It seeks to prepare him for another life in which, in general, it is unlikely that he will find meaning. His freedom, therefore, must be relative to his peculiar situation. It must mean all that he can be given without the destruction of the basic Western ideal. It means, above all, his protection against what has too often been the result of those ideals in operation.