The Nature of Nationalism and Civilization
IF the modern world could settle its organization in economic terms only, the transition to an international order would not be a matter of overwhelming difficulty. The mechanisms of the credit system have already established an interdependence sufficient to overlap all physical boundaries and modern scientific development, especially in the means of communication, is completing what economic discovery began. For practical purposes, we have already a world market, with its corollary of a world price, for the main essential commodities and it is possible to infer therefrom an organized system in which each area would exchange the commodities it can produce under circumstances of special advantage against those similarly made by other areas. Nationalism and Civilization are below discuss here
That was the order visualized by the free traders of the early nineteenth century. “Free Trade,” wrote Cobden in 1842, by perfecting the intercourse and securing the dependence of countries one upon another, must inevitably snatch the power from the governments to plunge their people into wars.
That has not, in fact, been the direction of events. The nineteenth century was, above all else, the epoch of nationalist development and the events of our own time have made it clear that the end of its influence is in even remotely within View. Modern nationalism is, broadly speaking, hardly older than the first partition of Poland and it differs from all previous forms into which its ideology has been cast because it seeks the organs of a sovereign State through which to express itself It has required, therefore, the obvious indicia of self sufficiency.
It has demanded for each nationality an autonomous and independent government the Italian will not serve the Austrian, as the Bulgar will not serve the Turk. It has sought frontiers that imply strategic security France must have the Rhine as a barrier against German invasion. It has revived and developed the theories of Colbert ism, and has sought, by means of the tariff, to make each nation a complete economic unit and, having come to be, it has insisted that growth is the concomitant of life. Colonies, protectorates, spheres of influence, hinterlands of legitimate aspiration-i-all of these are the expression of that luxuriance of spirit which implies that a nation is mature.
It is not insignificant that there is no powerful nation in modern Europe which has not won or lost a colonial dominion. In every case that has involved either temporary or lasting tutelage for the area concerned. Not seldom, also, the inhabitants ,of that area have themselves, like America, sought release from the swaddling clothes of colonialism and they have emerged, or sought to emerge, into the full panoply of a national State.
The idea of nationality is not easy to define, for there is no measurable factor to which it can be traced. The fervid nationalism of America has made it clear that race is of dubious importance, and, indeed, none of the older European nations can seriously lay claim to racial purity.
Language is a factor of unquestionable significance yet Switzerland has been able to transcend the difficulties presented by a variety of tongues. Nor does political allegiance explain, anything. The history of the nineteenth century is very largely the history of changes in allegiance effected in nationalist terms. The possession of a homeland is of high value in making a nation conscious of its separation. Yet, as the Jews bear witness, it may be rather the aspiration towards recovery than possession itself that is essential to the concept of nationhood.
Broadly speaking, in fact, the idea of nationality is, as Renan insisted in a famous essay essentially spiritual in character. It implies the sense of a special unity which marks off those who share in it from the rest of mankind. That unit is the outcome of a common history, of victories won and traditions created by a corporate effort. There grows up a sense of kinship which binds men into oneness.
They recognize their likenesses, and emphasis their difference from other men. Their social heritage becomes distinctively their own, as a man lends his own peculiar character to his house. They come to have an art, a literature, recognizable distinct from that of other nations. England only could have produced Shakespeare and Dickens so we admit that there are qualities in Voltaire and Kant from which they typify the nationalism of France and Germany.
Nationalism as a quality making for this separateness is build, doubtless, upon the basis of gregariousness. The solidarity it implies must have had high survival value when wandering nomads hunted for suitable feeding grounds. The groups with a strong herd instinct triumphed in the struggle for existence. They came to have territories they could call their own. They fought against those who would invade them. Victory intensified the value of their homeland, and gave them traditions which reacted upon their descendants to enhance the value of what had been dearly purchased. War, indeed, seems to have been the chief factor in building the modern nation.
There are, of course, obscurities and to spare. We cannot fully explain how the indigenous tribes of England so mingled with the invaders from France as to form an English nation, or why the English invader of Ireland should have been so largely absorbed by those over whom his suzerainty was extended. What emerges, and what for us is significant, is the fact of nationality as urgently. Separatist in character It is not a simple economic phenomenon, though it may be utilized for economic purposes.
The break up of Austria Hungary was economically an obvious waste but each of its parts demanded autonomy as the expression of separateness. Egypt, it is probable, will be the poorer for the disappearance of British administrative ability , but Egypt prefers autonomy to profit. Canada would probably gain, on the economic side, by incorporation with the United States but she steadily prefers the maintenance of her connection with Great Britain.
The disappearance of England from India will almost certainly, if it comes Within some near period, result in anarchy for a time yet there are thousands of Indians to whom the idea of an Indian created anarchy is preferable to a British created Peace Patriotism, the love of one’s nation, may stray into devious paths but, at bottom, it seems a genuinely instinctive expression of kinship with a chosen group that is deliberately exclusive in temper. And because it is exclusive, it seeks autonomy, even if autonomy involves economic sacrifice.
It is at the point where nationalism invokes autonomy as its right that the needs of civilization begin to emerge. For to demand autonomy in the modern world is, in effect, to demand the whole panoply of the sovereign State. It means, to take some vital examples, that, in its allotted area, the nation State will demand complete control of all the instruments of life. It will not be answerable, save in the arbitrament of war, to others outside itself. It will claim to settle its own frontiers, its own tariffs, the privileges it will accord to such minorities as Well within its boundaries, the strangers it will admit, the beliefs it will exclude, the form of government it desires. Nor must we fail to notice the way in which the solidarity, and therefore the exclusiveness, of a nation may be consciously fostered.
That may be done by education. In America, very notably, emphasis upon the national tradition has welded the most diverse elements into a proudly self conscious unity. It may be done by the sense of external danger. The presence of powerful and alien nations upon the frontiers of France and Germany has been powerful in making each of those peoples acutely aware of their difference from their neighbors. The press, of course, operates to a similar end. It feeds the herd instinct of each nation. It praises those who are supposed to be the national allies, and belabors those who are supposed to be hostile. And that sense of exclusiveness promotes a loyalty which may often, like family affection, live its life independent of right or truth.
Nations, for example, may be divided upon the issue of making war but once war has been declared the instinct of the herd operates to banish dissent. Those who continue to emphasis disagreement are certain to be stigmatized as traitors even, as in the South African War, When the nation State is not seriously threatened, hostility to the official policy will be commonly equated with incapacity for the obligations of citizenship.
So regarded, nationalism is comparatively a new force in history for in its aspiration to Statehood it can hardly, be
dated earlier than the first partition of Poland. The suppers Sion of a national State almost synchronized with the assertion of national independence in America and national sovereignty in France. Each of those ideas proved a kind of political dynamite. At first, indeed, the forces of the French Revolution seemed to imply rather a European than a national movement but the opposition of the reactionary forces of Europe gave birth in the French to a consciousness of special destiny, to which the strength of nationality gave peculiar emphasis.
It was victorious in the person of Napoleon but, in its victory, the latter kindled the flames of nationalism in the defeated forces. Thenceforth a new gospel was proclaimed. It might, as in Italy, move forward in the name of democracy, or, as in the subject peoples of Turkey, colour its nationalism in a religious garb. What was the result in every case was the insistence that the dominion of one nation over another was politically inexpedient and morally wrong. It became the thesis of the nineteenth century that States composed of various nationalities were monstrous hybrids for which no excuse could be offered hence, for example, the passionate sympathy of Victorian.
England with the Italian crusade against Austria. It was implied in the democratic theory of government, for it was difficult, as Mill said, to know what any division of the human race should be free to do if not to determine with which of the various collective bodies of human beings they choose to associate themselves. It is in general a necessary condition of free institutions that the boundaries of governments should coincide in the main with those of nationalities.
Unity and independence were the inevitable corollaries of this view and it could be inferred, as thinkers so different as Hegel and Mazzini inferred, that the nation State was the ultimate unit in human organization and, accordingly, the ultimate unit in human allegiance.
I shall discuss below the moral difficulties involved in this view. But it is important first to discuss the two great counter tendencies of the period, which have united both to strengthen and to dissolve the force of nationalism. The one is the form taken by modern warfare, the other the inherent character of the industrial order. The second is, in some sort, the parent of the first, and it is convenient to discuss it as the main factor in the complex synthesis at which we have arrived.
That factor is the character of modern industrialism. It has created a world market, and a world market implies foreign competition. The Englishman who manufactures motor cars must compete against the American engaged in a similar effort, the Lancashire cotton mill spins against India and France, America,Germany and Japan. No nation can now consume all that it produces. It is compelled to find markets for its surplus goods and, in any given trade, it is worth while for a particular group of manufacturers to minimize the competition of their rivals in that trade.
Domestically, the form taken by that minimization is a protective tariff abroad, it takes the form of colonization, of concessions in undeveloped countries, of favored nation clauses in commercial treaties, and the like. Freedom of international trade, in other words, becomes limited by the demands of nationalism. It is found, in the classic phrase, that trade follows the flag. The power of the nation State may be exerted to obtain a market dominated by some special national group.
That has been our history in India and Egypt that is, largely, the history of Franco German complications in Morocco. The trade may take the form of investment a debtor country may be forced to accept tutelage in the interest of bondholders. It may take the form of an exclusive or semi exclusive market. As power extends, nationalism becomes transformed into imperialism. The latter is most generally an economic phenomenon. The romantic penumbra of patriotism is exploited, as in the South African War, to consolidate the interests of some special group.
The notion that the material resources of a given area are a matter in which the whole world has a concern disappears. They belong to that given area. They may be used wisely or wasted as the nation State thinks fit. To interfere is to attack national prestige. The problem then becomes one of honour, and, unless compromise, as with the Bagdad Rail way, is arranged, it is discovered that problems of national honour are non justifiable. In that event the only arbiter is war.
These conclusions, I am urging, are irresistible so long as the authority of the nation State is held at the disposal a commercial interests. The instincts of the herd become inevitably manipulated to serve the special needs of a few Ideals of self sufficiency, the special protection of an infant industry, the privileged position of manufactures vital to the national safety, are all involved in the contact between politics authority and commerce. The emigration of America is regulated to serve the interests of business men who need cheap labor when the working man organizes, his voting power is then satisfied by restriction upon its entrance.
English manufacturers of motor cars obtain special chitin against the foreign manufacturer. Armament arms are given battleships to build as a subsidy for the maintenance of their works. India demands a special protection that she may develop industries which would not grow easily in the stern conditions of an open market. In the special conditions produced by the war of 1914, this atmosphere has been greatly intensified.
For the discovery of the significance of the blockade has meant that the necessaries of life involve a self subsisting people and, in the absence of other considers nations,that involves the building of trade upon a basis calculated to maximize protection against the dangers of war.
Nor is this all. The character of modern warfare implies further difficulties for civilization. Its destructiveness is so great that the nation State must direct the organization of its resources to safeguarding itself from the dangers involved in war. It must build its frontiers so as to make attack as difficult as possible. It must, if it can, so distribute their boundaries as to have access to the commodities, especially wheat and coal and iron, the supply of which is essential to war.
It must maintain armies beyond the expenditure justified by its resources, and, to that extent, deliberately impoverish itself in the interest of its security. But each of its neighbors will do the same and there is engendered a competition in the armament of power which acts so as to jeopardize the maintenance of peace, to provoke an atmosphere of nervous hostility, and to induce the smaller States into alliance with powerful neighbors that they may win security by that multiplied strength, so organized, the distribution of nation States resembles nothing so much as a powder magazine which, as in 1914, a single chance spark may suffice to provoke into conflagration.
Nor, I would add, is there reason to suppose that the control of natural resources by the State in the interests of security would diminish the explosiveness of the atmosphere. It is I think, probable that a large measure of social control over the basic raw materials will develop to prevent their exploitation. That social control may even, as with Russia, assume the form of a communist State. But so long as it remains persistently nationalist in temper, and works through the mechanisms of exclusive sovereignty, it will simply be more powerful for the purpose. it has in view. Russian communism was at least imperialist enough to overrun Georgia.
Socialist England would still need cotton and oil, and would fight, if need be, for access to them. It maven be suggested that such socialist States would be able with peculiar facility to conduct their wars, since no one in them could claim that they were Waged for private interests. Socialism is only international as such because capitalism is international. A World of socialist States, independent of, and sovereign to each other, easily become as mutually hostile as the States of the present epoch.
A nationalism that implies the sovereign right of self determination is, therefore, a principle of which the consequences are far different from those envisaged by men like Mazzini and Mill. It involves the politics of prestige and these, in their turn, involve a world so ordered that relationships between nations cannot become matters to be determined by justice It is not necessary to deny the reality, even the validity, of national feeling to realize that it is built on emotions which are, in the atmosphere of contemporary civilization, fraught with grave danger.
No one need doubt that it is good to be an Englishmen but it is also necessary to inquire for whom it is good and for what end. When the nationalism of Englishmen, or of any other people, produces a State which demands allegiance whatever the cause it professes, considerations are involved which go to the root of political philosophy. A nation is entitled to live. But because it cannot live to it self alone, the question of how it is to give is not a question it is entitled to determine alone. For in the political order of which it is a part, moral purposes are realized to which national interests, even, it may be, national existence, are secondary. Patriotism in a citizen is not the blind following of his nation State wherever it may lead and the rights of a nation State do not consist in safeguarding its own interests at the expense of others. That is a politics of power which denies the idea of right in the relation between States and it elementary, as Burke insisted in his indictment of Warren Hastings, that the denial of right abroad means, sooner or later, the atrial of right at home. Men cannot discipline themselves in justice to strangers Without, ultimately, denying the duty at justice to their brothers.
Nationalism and Right
The problem, then, is the equation of nationalism, with right. I do not mean by “right” some mystic concept of transcendental ethics . I mean only that the interests sought to be realized are measured in terms common to all people affected by the habit of living together. I am arguing that since my neighbor is the whole world I must so conceive my “interest” that it implies the interest of those with whom I have to live. It is the old truth that no man can live to himself set in the new terms enforced by scientific discovery. It means that however we may recognize the separateness of those spiritual systems we call nations, there is a togetherness in their functioning which involves building the institutions of togetherness.
Those institutions can be built only upon the basis of joint decision upon matters of common interest. As soon, for example, as what England does directly affects France, the area of intersecting activity must give rise to a solution jointly planned by England and France and, obviously enough, once the problem is so stated, the unit of reference cannot be confined to the two nations. Logically, the foundation of an approach to the common problems of civilization is either international Or it is worthless.
For, ultimately, effective decisions cannot be made if they I implicate myself I Co-operate in making them. That is not less true of the relationship of nation States than it is true of individuals. I may be coerced into the performance of functions I dislike but my service then becomes uncreative because it is unfree. So, too with nations. They can work with another they cannot be themselves at their best if they work against each other. The power they exert must be the power born of activity with others, not the power born of coercion over others. They must convince their neighbors that the relationship they have is one it is mutually worth while to maintain. Each must gain from it the sense of satisfied harmony which comes of service built upon self respect. For an order based upon compulsion can never permanently maintain itself.
That, at least, is the lesson of Ireland and India, of Austro Hungary, and the Germany distorted by the Treaty of Versailles. Orders issued and relationships established must carry with them the assent of the interests they affect. They cannot, otherwise, grow into Validity.
That means the disappearance of the sovereign nation state. It means that no unit of civilization can claim the right to dictate to the world order in which it finds today its only meaning. For no unit is any longer self sufficient over a vast area of functions the decisions it takes involve that world-order in their incidence. Such decisions involve what Mr. Leonard Woolf has called “cosmopolitan law making,” if they are to be sure of a fruitful application. This is not, of course, an easy matter. It involves
- (a) The discovery of the functions that are universal in their incidence,
- (b) The building of institutions suitable to the .operation of those functions,
- (c) A method of suitable representation for the nation States which are to share in the government of such institutions.
The implication, in a word, of modern conditions is world government. The process, naturally enough, is immensely more complicated than the government of a single State. The spiritual tradition of co-operation has still to be created the Difficulty of language has to be Overcome the application of decisions has to be agreed upon in terms of a technique that is still largely unexplored.
The only source of comfort we possess is the increasing recognition that modern warfare is. literally a form of suicide and that as a consequence, the choice before us is between co-operation and disaster. That was the sense which, in 1919, led the makers of the Peace of Versailles to strive for the mitigation of its inequities by the acceptance of the League of Nations.
The latter, indeed, is the facade of a structure which has not yet been called into being. But it has at least this great importance, that it constitutes an organ of reference which goes beyond the flat of a given State. It is, in fact, either nothing, or else a denial of national sovereignty in world affairs. It is upon the basis of that denial that we have to build.
The discovery of functions that are universal in their incidence is not a matter to be settled on a priori grounds. Scientific discovery would make such an effort out of date even before the ink in which the principles were written had grown dry. What rather it is wise to attempt is a vision of the kind of problem which has ceased to be merely national in character. Certain obvious categories immediately suggest themselves :
- (a) Problems of communication.
- (b) Problems of territorial limits.
- (c) Problems of racial or national minorities.
- (d) Problems of public health.
- (e) Problems of industry and commerce.
- (f) Problems of international migration.
- (g) Problems concerning the direct prevention of war.
In each of these categories, we have already not merely a certain experience upon which to go, but also, with the exception of the control of migration, certain institutions which have already been tested by their actual operation. What mainly emerges from that experience and that Operation Above all, I suggest two things. It is, first of all, possible to administer and to legislate internationally.
That has been Shown in things like International Maritime legislation and such a complicated system as the International Postal Union it is clear from the volume of achievement Which already stands to the credit of the International Labor office it is clear from the very striking work of the Sugar Commission which arose out of the Convention of 1902. In these, and in innumerable similar instances, what we have secured is the imposition of international standards upon national interests which, often enough, sought to evade or to transcend those standards. It is clear, in the second place, that from the habit of international co-operation men of the most alien and, often enough, antithetic experience, can pool that experience to make a common solution. They can learn, in a word, to think internationally. They do not cease to be English or French or German but they learn to adjust their nationalism to a richer perspective.
The second point of importance is the growing unification of law. We are compelled by the facts of civilization to find common rules of conduct which can be observed in Paris as well as Tokio, in London as well as New York. We can seek the universal establishment of a forty eight hour week, we can see the universal abolition of the use of white lead in paint. We are driven, in a word, at least to a common minimum of civilized life for all nation States whose behavior at all seriously affects the world order.
What we must realize is the need for driving this process of unification much further than it has so far gone. We must use it to distribute the raw materials of industry. We must use it for the settlement of tariff barriers. We must prevent, say America making, single handed, the decision that the Philippines are unfit for self government, we must permit India to appeal beyond the decision of Parliament to the common will of a world unified into the League of Nations. Above all, we must prevent one nation state making war upon another by insisting that their disputes are, referable to, and must be decided by, an international tribunal, and we must define as an aggressor to be punished the State which refuses to submit its disputes to the tribunal and to abide by the award that is issued.
When we realize the implications of this unifying process, we begin to get a vision of the world at every point different from that which sees it as a system of isolated and independent communities. We reject this latter system in part because it is the root of Conflict, and in part because its implications are out of harmony with the facts to which our institutions now need to be adjusted.
But can suitable institutions be discovered through which this unifying process can be administered There seems no reason to doubt that they can. I shall discuss in detail later in this book what seems an institutional pattern of which at least the large outlines are reasonable. What we need to know is whether the characteristic organs of democratic government a legislature, an executive with a civil service, and a judiciary can be made flexible enough to apply to the complicated structure of world affairs. Here, certainly, there is room both for optimism and experiment.
It is clear that we have reason to suppose that, as the work of the International Labor Office makes manifest, a considerable body of agreement is attainable on the most difficult of problems. It is clear that blindly to follow the classical structure of parliamentary government is to mistake altogether the nature of the problem. We cannot, at least in any practicable future, visualize the Prime Minister of a world State unfolding his policy to a popularly elected Parliament at Geneva. What rather we have to envisage is continuous conference of governments in which mechanisms exist for effective compromise on the one hand, and for binding dissentious on the other.
That does not mean the simple formula of majority rule but it does, I think, mean the abandonment of that principle of unanimity upon which the existing structure of the League of Nations is based. Our situation calls for government, and the very notion of government involves the binding of a minority to the acceptance of decisions made after free and full discussion. The major part of those decisions will, in the nature of the case, be nationally, and not internationally, administered. The civil service of an international authority will be a body of registration and information rather than a body applying solutions. An international judiciary will remit its decisions to national courts through which they will be made to work rather than maintain a police force to carry them out.
The View to be taken at the international legislature by the government of any State will depend upon its power to get that view accepted beforehand in a national legislature. If it fails in its emphasis, it may lose its authority and be driven to resign but the will of the international authority will be binding on its successor. The distinction drawn by Washington between influence and government is as urgent in international as it is in domestic affairs.
Nor is the problem of representation on an international authority at all straightforward. At a time when the dogma of State sovereignty was at its apogee, it seemed logical to infer therefrom the notion of the equality of States and consequently, to insist upon equal representation. But we know from bitter experience that equality of States does not produce workable solutions.
We cannot make, say, Yugoslavia the equal of the United States by giving it equal membership of an international body. We cannot win results that can be applied if, for example, the votes of the South American republics are to outweigh those of the great powers. Our problem is not the discovery of equal electoral districts as in a democracy where personalities are, on a given plane, to be equally weighed. What rather we have to do is to assure to each State qualified for membership a voice that can speak with freedom and to States like England, America, Russia, that special authority which comes from their special incidence upon world affairs.
The solution, I suggest, will be found in making the legislature of the international authority accessible equally to all States, while reserving permanent place: upon its executive to some only. The remainder may elect their representatives to sit with the delegates of the great powers, but they will be subject to the chances of elective fate. And it will, one imagines, be necessary to make the executive body a kind of upper chamber with a suspension veto which can only be overridden in peculiar circumstances.
Urgent as these details are, they are still, it must be insisted, details. Once the principle of unequal representation is admitted, it does not become impossible to find a framework into which even the intricate network of modern communities may be fitted. For to insist on unequal representation is ultimately to abandon the thesis of State sovereignty and it is from its abandonment that the chance of creative experiment emerges.
Difficulties Of Internationalism
But all this, it will be said, neglects the great fact of patriotism, and the root of patriotism is expressed in the determination to preserve national independence at all costs. With those who desire to maintain the status quo, patriotism is made an instinct, and the attempt, accordingly, to infuse the
social order with rational purpose is made a priori superfluous. The argument is, of course, important, but it is, at bottom, much less formidable than it seems. For were it true in its full rigour, it would make impossible any discussion of international arrangements, and it would render absurdly illogical the whole and vast structure of international agreement that has so far emerged. Nor must it be forgotten that even the instincts of men can be made the subjects of rational control. Few now defend Calvin for his treatment of Severus yet it is hardly two hundred years since that action would have commended itself to the majority of average men. No, one now defends man traps and spring guns yet less than a century has elapsed since they were defended in the House of Commons almost as part of the eternal order of nature. We do not know what we can do with human instincts until we experiment with them and there is, as I shall show, ground for the belief that patriotism can be sublimated into forms less dangerous to social welfare.
Patriotism is built in part from the gregarious instinct of man, and in part from the rational desire for self government. The structure I have urged as essential outrages neither of these aspects. It does not propose that an Englishmen shall cease to love or cherish his fellow Englishman, to live with them, to work with, even, it may be, to die for them. It does not even ask him to surrender his belief in his effortless superiority as an Englishman over other nations. It agrees that he should manage his own affairs. It would leave to him the unimpaired right to decide that he prefers a monarchy to a republic, parliamentary government to the Soviet System, the private ownership of the liquor traffic rather than prohibition.
He could maintain, if he so desired, the present religious compromise in education without a single Frenchman or American or Japanese having the right to criticize his solution. He might continue to refuse State recognition to the arts. He might insist on the retention of a divorce law which Opens the floodgates of hypocrisy. Wherever the incidence of his decision palpably lay in the Sphere of internal affairs it would leave his present position entirely unaffected.
But the right to manage his own affairs does not mean the right to manage other people’s affairs. The development of international law and convention was due to the realization that we cannot separate the two that, because some of our decisions affect other people, it is well that other people should be consulted when they are being made. It did not insult English patriotism in 1832, that the middle class should be consulted in the choice of its governors.
It was not even an insult that the working class should be finally admitted to similar consultation in 1918. It was the perception that what touches all should be decided by all an historic principle in English government which broke down the narrow confines of the earlier system. Nor, though in a more meagre way, has the history of international arrangements in the last century been very different. The experiments that have been made arose from the realization that where common interests are affected there should be common organs of government.
That was the purpose, for example, of the Danube Commission it has also, in a much vaster sphere, been the purpose, even if but half achieved, of the Imperial Conference. And the solid result that has emerged from the working of these arrangements is the knowledge that, granted good will, they can be extended into an efficient organization of the world order which makes provision for necessary unities even while it leaves room for the wise diversities of the human pattern of association. It’s a one in a many but the emphasis of that oneness is not a denial of its indestructible pluralism. Nor is this all. It is a supreme virtue of international government that it enables a truer emphasis to be placed on the well being of the masses than is possible under the geographic limitations of the modern State system. That is implicit, for example, in the conventions of the International Labor Office they force upon a backward State those standards of industrial behavior which are demanded by the public opinion of the World .
It brings out the true national interest against that private interest masking as public welfare through the peculiar incidence of power in a given geographical area. No one, for instance, can seriously say that the protection of the Mannes man brothers in Morocco was so vitally an interest of sixty million Germans that a war With France over Morocco would have been justified.
Whether they were protected er no, would have made no difference to any but a small number of investors in the concessions they had obtained. What, indeed, is called national interest in these cases is rarely other than the protection of a band of financial adventurers who are risking their capital under the protective armour of the national Foreign Office. Skillful propaganda symbolizes them as “England ” or “ France” or “America ” but the symbol is a tribute to the ignorance of the masses and not an offering upon the altar of their need.
When, that is to say, we are told that international government, by attacking national prestige, breaks down upon the rock of patriotism, we need, first of all, to know what national prestige in the given instance involves. Englishmen in general would hesitate to protect their prestige by war with Russia if they learned that in fact their prestige meant the protection of bondholders who had lent money to the Czarist despotism. Americans who are eager to rearrange the government of Mexico would have a different attitude to intervention if they knew that what is called an intolerable insult to the United States is, in fact, a refusal on the part of some Mexicans to be the subjects of an American oil company.
One can understand the emergence of a sense of prestige if, for example, all Englishmen were refused access to American courts of justice or if all Germans were refused the right, not denied to other nationals, to travel in Italy. But, in the majority of cases to day the patriotism that is called into being, however noble and it often is noble is largely misplaced. What it protects is, not the total interest of the geographical community, but the power of a small group within that community to exploit some undertaking in which they believe undue profit is to be found. The youth of the nation pays the price and the youth of the nation is too precious to be made the victim of so sinister a misinterpretation.
I have argued that the emphatically territorial character of the sovereign nation State enables a small section of its members to utilize its power for their own ends, even against the interests of their fellow citizens. Against such a danger international government represents the most solid protection .We have But there is another aspect of importance to which attention must be directed. The assumption of Statehood by the nation obscures the urgent fact that the State is only one,however important, of the various groups into which society is divided.
I argued earlier
(I) That the State is, in daily administration, the government and that the government may lie at the disposal of a special interest, and,
(2)That to enforce upon it organized consultation with other groups is essential if the will realized is to represent a just compromise between competing wills. We balance, in fact, the territorial supremacy of government by making it work through functional organs. International government has advantages of a similar kind. It enables us to make its will responsive not merely to the political State, but also to group interests which, if the political State stood alone, might well receive inadequate recognition.
The advantage of this possibility has already been made apparent in the operation of the International Labor Office. The tripartite composition of national delegations government employers and workers gives a flexibility to them expression of group interests that has been notably absent from ordinary diplomatic relations and it is further reinforced by the possibility of substituting for the ordinary delegate from any group persons of special competence upon some particular problem. But the system admits of further extension. It is possible by sub conferences of the national delegations to express a united view at the Assembly of the Labor Office.
It is possible to transform the delegations into permanent commissions connected in an advisory capacity with the national government of the day. We could create, through the International Labor Office, permanent administrative commissions on special functions to which might be confided powers of the kind now possessed by such bodies as the Sugar Union.
Nor, of course, are such possibilities limited to the area covered by the International Labor Office. In the League of Nations itself it is clear that questions like the migration of peoples, the treatment of subject races, the repression of the traffic in noxious drugs, all lend themselves to similar treatment. There is, surely, nothing to be lost, and much to be gained, by making the decisions of States based not merely upon the widest practicable induction open to them, but also an induction which is, a priori, assured of reasonable competence. All bodies which seek influence in the modern world, the co-operators, the trade unionists, the chambers of commerce, are driven to organize themselves internationally in the search to make their influence felt.
More and more they are winning positions in which the State finds itself compelled to take account of their power. What is here urged is that to make that power direct instead of obscure is to ensure that the world order is built upon an experience compounded of all the interests that are seeking expression of their purpose. It affords an opportunity for integration of resources instead of antagonism of resources. It provides channels of connection for those interests which transcend the boundaries of a single State and are yet limited, by the technique of geographical organization, to adjustments which are wasteful and unreal. I may add that these international solutions rarely lend support to the plea that the interests of the national State are sacrificed in their making. For, in the long run, the only solutions that work are the solutions which mutually benefit the parties making them. That means, inevitably, compromise and it means compromise beaten out by corporate discussion.
We are unlikely to obtain such corporate discussion, at least in a permanently effective way, unless we have the institutions to compel it. And we cannot balance the interests of the parties concerned unless, above the impact of their power to enforce their will, considerations of right are given the Opportunity of expression.
All this, it may be said, does not touch the ultimate question of national independence. For the international authority thus created might will, not merely territorial changes in some given State, but, possibly, the actual disappearance of the State itself. In the old order, Austria Hungary Was able to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina what, in the new, is to prevent the League of Nations deciding that they Shall be transferred against their Will
Why should not a new Russia submit to membership of the League in return, for instance, for the restoration of her authority over Finland and Latvia, Lithuania and Esthonia ? There is a variety of ways in which, it may be suggested, considerations of this kind can easily be met. Exactly as in the American Constitution no State can be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate without its own consent, so would it be possible to prevent an attack on territorial integrity by making the consent of the State involved necessary to any proposal of change. To suppress the will to independence of any State, moreover, is not a mere matter of bargaining in the council chamber.
It can only be done by making the State freely assent to that suppression. Just as the Treaty of Sevres involved the Treaty of, Lausanne, so the neglect of justified nationalism would bring with it its own penalty. The statesmen who make the international solutions of the next age are not less likely to realize that fact than the statesmen of the last generation. They are being driven by the logic of experience to depend more and more upon the assent of the communities for which they legislate.
They have either to find organs through which that assent may be made articulate or find their solutions wrecked by facts they ware unwilling to consider. The history of Italy and Austria, of Alsace Lorraine of the Balkan Peninsula, is the kind of evidence which makes it likely that an international authority will be more careful to find genuinely corporate solutions than was possible when the issue was left to the arbitrament of force.
And, at least, the alternative is clear. Either national States must learn to co-operate instead of to compete, or, it is likely, the small national State will cease to possess effective independence. Even the brief but feverish interval since the Peace of Versailles has shown that the new States of Europe are driven to become the satellites of the greater Powers in their hurried search for avenues of survival.
They are driven to barter what truly constitutes their freedom for military protection. Their armaments, their alliances, even the internal substance of their economic life, become not the expression of their own needs, but of the will of their superior neighbor. If this precises proceeds unchecked, we shall see the world peopled, perhaps, by some half dozen great empires each of which, in seeking its safety, will destroy the whole fabric of civilization.
We cannot permit that process to go on if we have any regard for the riches of our heritage. And we can only prevent its development by the surrender of the fiction that, in the life of society, there is no word beyond the will of the individual State, We have to find middle terms between complete dependence and complete independence. Inquiry shows clearly that the invention is a possible one.
Canada and South Africa have both found a full national life possible without the pursuit of the mirage of State sovereignty their citizens can assume a stature not less tall, a posture not less dignified, than those of Poland or Roumania. Their ambitions can be as fully satisfied in any sense in which the organization of the modern world makes national ambition justifiable. Nor must we fail to realize the urgency of the issue. The day of the Laodicean passed when scientific discovery made possible the steel ship and the aeroplane. There are no longer lotus fields where men may linger careless of the life about them. The world is one and indivisible in a sense so compelling that the only question before us is the method by which We represent its unity.
Two other remarks may perhaps be made. The nation State will act towards other nation States as it acts towards its own citizens external policy is always, in the end a reflection of and an adjustment to, internal policy where ,there is slavery within a State, the wars of that State are wars for the enslavement of its rivals. Where there is bitter class conflict, the dominant class is always seeking to limit and to hinder the trade of dominant classes abroad.
We seem, in the play of world forces, to become to others that which we have been content to be to each other. The Ulster which was blind to the fact that behind the insurgency of nineteenth century Ireland there lay an urgent protest of the Irish soul, adopted, when remedy of that condition was at last attempted, exactly that contempt for law of which it had earlier complained. Unless we can find the institutions which make possible the abrogation of conflict in the domestic life of the State, we shall not find them in the sphere of international affairs.
For hate is of all qualities the most cancer like to its possessor. It leads us to develop in ourselves the character we condemn in others. Burke’s great warning that freedom suppressed by Englishmen in India would lead them , sooner or later, to destroy English freedom, is a particular of which the universal lies at the heart of our social life. That is why the realization of what is implied in democracy is the necessary prelude to the achievement of an ordered civilization.
We cannot, of course, achieve it separately, State by State for each State has become so entangled in the world outside itself that the two are aspects of a relation that is unified. But it is clear that whatever makes for the betterment of relations between citizens of the same State develops also the prospect of friendship between citizens of different communities. Ultimately, that is, the purity of that corporate soul we call a nation is only maintained when the forces of the spirit are the masters of its life. It is only debased when it lends itself to other forms of power and debasement is always easier than elevation.
It may be said that the big battalions triumph, and that a nation which neglects physical force is like a man who throws away his sword in a battle. But this, after all, is to beg the prior question of whether a battle was essential and whether other means of arbitrament could not have been found. Might, in the modern world, needs to be clothed with right if it is to be sure that .it will achieve permanence.
The spiritual life of Europe belongs not to Caesar and Napoleon, but to Christ the civilization of the East has been more influenced by Buddha than by Ghengis Khan or Akbar. It is that truth we have to learn, if we are to survive. We overcome hate by love, and evil by good baseness begets only a progeny like to itself. We must set our own houses in order if we are to realize the vaster dream.
Nor are we, secondly, called upon to believe that the prevention of conflict by international government deprives life of its color or its romance. The glamour of war is as unreal as the bought affection of the prostitute, it exists only in the inexperience of those who have not known its deadly furies For the few to whom there comes the occasion of chivalrous exploit, there are the millions to whom it means death and disease and maimed lives. Its agonies do not touch, in any realistic way, those who direct its operations and for the actual combatants, it is the organized and deliberate destruction of all that makes humanity a precious and lovely thing.
Nor does the civilian population escape its impact. Death by starvation, by poison gas, by aeroplane steals on some like a thief in the night others are made moral lepers by either the avoidance of duty or the clutching at illegitimate gain. We must not, either, forget its mental legacies, fear and hate, envy and revenge. For that which, above all, has destroyed our belief in the tradition that war strengthens men’s souls is the knowledge that in its modern form it transforms peace into its Own grim image.
That is not the least reason why no man can give an unexpected allegiance to the nation State. The true loyalty he owes is to the ideals. He can build from his experience. The true battle in which he is a soldier is the battle to make those ideals ample and generous and compelling. At that point there comes into View the true romance of modern civilization, the most genuinely co-operative effort in which we can lose consciousness of self.
It is the conquest of knowledge that is the real source of Our hopes, its conquest and its extension to the common man. For the real root of conflict is ignorance. It is the ill informed mind and the narrow mind which are the servants of national hate. It is they which are exploited by the evil forces of an age. What is wanted, it we are to break down the barriers between know ledge and ignorance is education. We can only surmount our problems by enlisting the service of every citizen in that task and we can only make men citizens by training their minds to grasp the world about them. When the masses can understand they will have the courage to act upon their understanding. For intellect as Carlyle said is like light from a chaos it makes a world.