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POLITICAL 
IDEALS 



APOLITICAL 
IDEALS 



BY 



BERTRAND RUSSELL 

Author of "Why Men Fight," etc. 




NEW YORK 

THE CENTURY CO. 

1917 




Copyright, 1917, by 
THE CENTURY Co. 



Copyright, 1917, by 
THE NORTH AMEHICAH REVIEW Coupon 



Published September, 1917 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I POLITICAL IDEALS 3 

II CAPITALISM AND THE WAGE SYSTEM 39 

III PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM .... 73 

IV INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY AND PUBLIC 

CONTROL . 103 

V NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE AND IN 
TERNATIONALISM .... 145 



I 

POLITICAL IDEALS 



POLITICAL IDEALS 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

IN dark days, men need a clear faith 
and a well-grounded hope ; and as the 
outcome of these, the calm courage which 
takes no account of hardships by the way. 
The times through which we are pass 
ing have afforded to many of us a con 
firmation of our faith. We see that the 
things we had thought evil are really evil, 
and we know more definitely than we 
ever did before the directions in which 
men must move if a better world is to 
arise on the ruins of the one which is now 
hurling itself into destruction. We see 
that men s political dealings with one an- 
3 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

other are based on wholly wrong ideals, 
and can only be saved by quite different 
ideals from continuing to be a source of 
suffering, devastation, and sin. 

Political ideals must be based upon 
ideals for the individual life. The aim 
of politics should be to make the lives of 
individuals as good as possible. There 
is nothing for the politician to consider 
outside or above the various men, women, 
and children who compose the world. 
The problem of politics is to adjust the 
relations of human beings in such a way 
that each severally may have as much of 
good in his existence as possible. And 
this problem requires that we should 
first consider what it is that we think 
good in the individual life. 

To begin with, we do not want all men 

to be alike. We do not want to lay down 

a pattern or type to which men of all 

sorts are to be made by some means or 

4 



another to approximate. This is the 
ideal of the impatient administrator. A 
bad teacher will aim at imposing his opin 
ion, and turning out a set of pupils all 
of whom will give the same definite an 
swer on a doubtful point. Mr. Bernard 
Shaw is said to hold that Troilus and 
Cressida is the best of Shakespeare s 
plays. Although I disagree with this 
opinion, I should welcome it in a pupil as 
a sign of individuality ; but most teachers 
would not tolerate such a heterodox 
view. Not only teachers, but all com 
monplace persons in authority, desire 
in their subordinates that kind of uni 
formity which makes their actions eas 
ily predictable and never inconvenient. 
The result is that they crush initiative 
and individuality when they can, and 
when they cannot, they quarrel with it. 
It is not one ideal for all men, but a 
separate ideal for each separate man, 
5 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

that has to be realized if possible. 
Every man has it in his being to develop 
into something good or bad: there is a 
best possible for him, and a worst possi 
ble. His circumstances will determine 
whether his capacities for good are de 
veloped or crushed, and whether his bad 
impulses are strengthened or gradually 
diverted into better channels. 

But although we cannot set up in any 
detail an ideal of character which is to be 
universally applicable although we can 
not say, for instance, that all men ought 
to be industrious, or self-sacrificing, or 
fond of music there are some broad 
principles which can be used to guide 
our estimates as to what is possible or 
desirable. 

We may distinguish two sorts of 

goods, and two corresponding sorts of 

impulses. There are goods in regard to 

which individual possession is possible, 

6 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

and there are goods in which all can 
share alike. The food and clothing of 
one man is not the food and clothing of 
another; if the supply is insufficient, 
what one man has is obtained at the ex 
pense of some other man. This applies 
to material goods generally, and there 
fore to the greater part of the present 
economic life of the world. On the other 
hand, mental and spiritual goods do not 
belong to one man to the exclusion of 
another. If one man knows a science, 
that does not prevent others from know 
ing it ; on the contrary, it helps them to 
acquire the knowledge. If one man is a 
great artist or poet, that does not pre 
vent others from painting pictures or 
writing poems, but helps to create the 
atmosphere in which such things are pos 
sible. If one man is full of good-will to 
ward others, that does not mean that 
there is less good-will to be shared 
7 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

among the rest; the more good- will one 
man has, the more he is likely to create 
among others. In such matters there is 
no possession, because there is not a 
definite amount to be shared; any in 
crease anywhere tends to produce an 
increase everywhere. 

There are two kinds of impulses, cor 
responding to the two kinds of goods. 
There are possessive impulses, which 
aim at acquiring or retaining private 
goods that cannot be shared; these cen 
ter in the impulse of property. And 
there are creative or constructive im 
pulses, which aim at bringing into the 
world or making available for use the 
kind of goods in which there is no pri 
vacy and no possession. 

The best life is the one in which the 

creative impulses play the largest part 

and the possessive impulses the smallest. 

This is no new discovery. The Gospel 

8 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

says: "Take no thought, saying, What 
shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or, 
Wherewithal shall we be clothed 1 The 
thought we give to these things is taken 
away from matters of more importance. 
And what is worse, the habit of mind en 
gendered by thinking of these things is a 
bad one; it leads to competition, envy, 
domination, cruelty, and almost all the 
moral evils that infest the world. In 
particular, it leads to the predatory use 
of force. Material possessions can be 
taken by force and enjoyed by the rob 
ber. Spiritual possessions cannot be 
taken in this way. You may kill an art 
ist or a thinker, but you cannot acquire 
his art or his thought. You may put a 
man to death because he loves his fellow- 
men, but you will not by so doing acquire 
the love which made his happiness. 
Force is impotent in such matters ; it is 
only as regards material goods that it is 
9 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

effective. For this reason the men who 
believe in force are the men whose 
thoughts and desires are preoccupied 
with material goods. 

The possessive impulses, when they 
are strong, infect activities which ought 
to be purely creative. A man who has 
made some valuable discovery may be 
filled with jealousy of a rival discoverer. 
If one man has found a cure for can 
cer and another has found a cure for con 
sumption, one of them may be delighted 
if the other man s discovery turns out a 
mistake, instead of regretting the suf 
fering of patients which would other 
wise have been avoided. In such cases, 
instead of desiring knowledge for its own 
sake, or for the sake of its usefulness, a 
man is desiring it as a means to reputa 
tion. Every creative impulse is shad 
owed by a possessive impulse ; even the 
aspirant to saintliness may be jealous 
10 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

of the more successful saint. Most af 
fection is accompanied by some tinge of 
jealousy, which is a possessive impulse 
intruding into the creative region. 
Worst of all, in this direction, is the 
sheer envy of those who have missed 
everything worth having in life, and who 
are instinctively bent on preventing oth 
ers from enjoying what they have not 
had. There is often much of this in 
the attitude of the old toward the 
young. 

There is in human beings, as in plants 
and animals, a certain natural impulse 
of growth, and this is just as true 
of mental as of physical development. 
Physical development is helped by air 
and nourishment and exercise, and may 
be hindered by the sort of treatment 
which made Chinese women s feet small. 
In just the same way mental develop 
ment may be helped or hindered by out- 
11 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

side influences. The outside influences 
that help are those that merely provide 
encouragement or mental food or oppor 
tunities for exercising mental faculties. 
The influences that hinder are those that 
interfere with growth by applying any 
kind of force, whether discipline or au 
thority or fear or the tyranny of pub- 
* lie opinion or the necessity of engaging 
in some totally incongenial occupation. 
Worst of all influences are those that 
thwart or twist a man s fundamental im 
pulse, which is what shows itself as con 
science in the moral sphere; such influ 
ences are likely to do a man an inward 
danger from which he will never recover. 
Those who realize the harm that can 
be done to others by any use of force 
against them, and the worthlessness of 
the goods that can be acquired by force, 
will be very full of respect for the liberty 
of others ; they will not try to bind them 
12 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

or fetter them ; they will be slow to judge 
and swift to sympathize ; they will treat 
every human being with a kind of ten 
derness, because the principle of good in 
him is at once fragile and infinitely 
precious. They will not condemn those 
who are unlike themselves; they will 
know and feel that individuality brings 
differences and uniformity means death. 
They will wish each human being to be as 
much a living thing and as little a me 
chanical product as it is possible to be; 
they will cherish in each one just those 
things which the harsh usage of a ruth 
less world would destroy. In one word, 
all their dealings with others will be in 
spired by a deep impulse of reverence. 

What we shall desire for individuals 
is now clear: strong creative impulses, 
overpowering and absorbing the instinct 
of possession ; reverence for others ; re 
spect for the fundamental creative im- 
13 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

pulse in ourselves. A certain kind of 
self-respect or native pride is necessary 
to a good life; a man must not have a 
sense of utter inward defeat if he is to 
remain whole, but must feel the courage 
and the hope and the will to live by the 
best that is in him, whatever outward or 
inward obstacles it may encounter. So 
far as it lies in a man s own power, his 
life will realize its best possibilities if it 
has three things: creative rather than 
possessive impulses, reverence for oth- \ 
ers, and respect for the fundamental im 
pulse in himself. 

Political and social institutions are to 
be judged by the good or harm that they 
do to individuals. Do they encourage 

/L 

creativeness rather than possessiveness? 
Do they embody or promote a spirit of 
reverence between human beings? Do 
they preserve self-respect? 
In all these ways the institutions un- 
14 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

der which we live are very far indeed 
from what they ought to be. 

Institutions, and especially economic 
systems, have a profound influence in 
molding the characters of men and wo 
men. They may encourage adventure 
and hope, or timidity and the pursuit of 
safety. They may open men s minds to 
great possibilities, or close them against 
everything but the risk of obscure mis 
fortune. They may make a man s hap 
piness depend upon what he adds to the 
general possessions of the world, or upon 
what he can secure for himself of the pri 
vate goods in which others cannot share. 
Modern capitalism forces the wrong de 
cision of these alternatives upon all who 
are not heroic or exceptionally fortunate. 

Men s impulses are molded, partly by 
their native disposition, partly by op 
portunity and environment, especially 
early environment. Direct preaching 
15 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

can do very little to change impulses, 
though it can lead people to restrain the 
direct expression of them, often with the 
result that the impulses go underground 
and come to the surface again in some 
contorted form. When we have discov 
ered what kinds of impulse we desire, we 
must not rest content with preaching, or 
with trying to produce the outward man 
ifestation without the inner spring; we 
must try rather to alter institutions in 
the way that will, of itself, modify the life 
of impulse in the desired direction. 

At present our institutions rest upon 
two things : property and power. Both 
of these are very unjustly distributed; 
both, in the actual world, are of great im 
portance to the happiness of the individ 
ual. Both are possessive goods; yet 
without them many of the goods in which 
all might share are hard to acquire as 



things are now. 



16 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

Without property, as things are, a 
man has no freedom, and no security for 
the necessities of a tolerable life; with 
out power, he has no opportunity for in 
itiative. If men are to have free play 
for their creative impulses, they must be 
liberated from sordid cares by a certain 
measure of security, and they must have 
a sufficient share of power to be able to 
exercise initiative as regards the course 
and conditions of their lives. 

Few men can succeed in being creative 
rather than possessive in a world which 
is wholly built on competition, where the 
great majority would fall into utter des 
titution if they became careless as to 
the acquisition of material goods, where 
honor and power and respect are given 
to wealth rather than to wisdom, where 
the law embodies and consecrates the in 
justice of those who have toward those 
who have not. In such an environment 
17 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

even those whom nature has endowed 
with great creative gifts become infected 
with the poison of competition. Men 
combine in groups to attain more 
strength in the scramble for material 
goods, and loyalty to the group spreads 
a halo of quasi-idealism round the cen 
tral impulse of greed. Trade-unions 
and the Labor party are no more exempt 
from this vice than other parties and 
other sections of society ; though they are 
largely inspired by the hope of a radi 
cally better world. They are too often 
led astray by the immediate object of 
securing for themselves a large share of 
material goods. That this desire is in 
accordance with justice, it is impossible 
to deny; but something larger and more 
constructive is needed as a political 
ideal, if the victors of to-morrow are 
not to become the oppressors of the day 
after. The inspiration and outcome of a 
18 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

reforming movement ought to be free 
dom and a generous spirit, not niggling 
restrictions and regulations. 

The present economic system concen 
trates initiative in the hands of a small 
number of very rich men. Those who 
are not capitalists have, almost always, 
very little choice as to their activities 
when once they have selected a trade or 
profession; they are not part of the 
power that moves the mechanism, but 
only a passive portion of the machinery. 
Despite political democracy, there is 
still an extraordinary degree of differ 
ence in the power of self-direction be 
longing to a capitalist and to a man who 
has to earn his living. Economic af 
fairs touch men s lives, at most times, 
much more intimately than political 
questions. At present the man who has 
no capital usually has to sell himself to 
some large organization, such as a rail- 
19 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

way company, for example. He has no 
voice in its management, and no liberty 
in politics except what his trade-union 
can secure for him. If he happens to 
desire a form of liberty which is not 
thought important by his trade-union, he 
is powerless ; he must submit or starve. 
Exactly the same thing happens to 
professional men. Probably a majority 
of journalists are engaged in writing for 
newspapers whose politics they disagree 
with; only a man of wealth can own a 
large newspaper, and only an accident 
can enable the point of view or the in 
terests of those who are not wealthy to 
find expression in a newspaper. A large 
part of the best brains of the country 
are in the civil service, where the condi 
tion of their employment is silence about 
the evils which cannot be concealed from 
them. A Nonconformist minister loses 
his livelihood if his views displease his 
20 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

congregation; a member of Parliament 
loses his seat if he is not sufficiently 
supple or sufficiently stupid to follow or 
share all the turns and twists of public 
opinion. In every walk of life, inde 
pendence of mind is punished by failure, 
more and more as economic organiza 
tions grow larger and more rigid. Is it 
surprising that men become increasingly 
docile, increasingly ready to submit to 
dictation and to forego the right of 
thinking for themselves? Yet along 
such lines civilization can only sink into 
a Byzantine immobility. 

Fear of destitution is not a motive out 
of which a free creative life can grow, 
yet it is the chief motive which inspires 
the daily work of most wage-earners. 
The hope of possessing more wealth and 
power than any man ought to have, which 
is the corresponding motive of the rich, 
is quite as bad in its effects ; it compels 
21 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

men to close their minds against jus 
tice, and to prevent themselves from 
thinking honestly on social questions, 
while in the depths of their hearts they 
uneasily feel that their pleasures are 
bought by the miseries of others. The 
injustices of destitution and wealth 
alike ought to be rendered impossible. 
Then a great fear would be removed 
from the lives of the many, and hope 
would have to take on a better form in 
the lives of the few. 

But security and liberty are only the 
negative conditions for good political in 
stitutions. "When they have been won, 
we need also the positive condition: en 
couragement of creative energy. Secur 
ity alone might produce a smug and sta 
tionary society; it demands creativenes-s 
as its counterpart, in order to keep alive 
the adventure and interest of life, and 
the movement toward perpetually new 
22 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

and better things. There can be no final 
goal for human institutions ; the best are 
those that most encourage progress to 
ward others still better. Without ef 
fort and change, human life cannot re 
main good. It is not a finished Utopia 
that we ought to desire, but a world 
where imagination and hope are alive 
and active. 

It is a sad evidence of the weariness 
mankind has suffered from excessive 
toil that his heavens have usually been 
places where nothing ever happened or 
changed. Fatigue produces the illusion 
that only rest is needed for happiness; 
but when men have rested for a time, 
boredom drives them to renewed activ 
ity. For this reason, a happy life must 
be one in which there is activity. 
If it is also to be a useful life, the 
activity ought to be as far as possible 
creative, not merely predatory or de- 
23 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

fensive. But creative activity requires 
imagination and originality, which are 
apt to be subversive of the status quo. 
At present, those who have power dread 
a disturbance of the status quo, lest their 
unjust privileges should be taken away. 
In combination with the instinct for con 
ventionality, 1 which man shares with the 
other gregarious animals, those who 
profit by the existing order have estab 
lished a system which punishes origin 
ality and starves imagination from the 
moment of first going to school down to 
the time of death and burial. The whole 
spirit in which education is conducted 
needs to be changed, in order that chil 
dren may be encouraged to think and 
feel for themselves, not to acquiesce pas 
sively in the thoughts and feelings of 
others. It is not rewards after the event 
that will produce initiative, but a certain 

i In England this is called "a sense of humor." 

24 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

mental atmosphere. There have been 
times when such an atmosphere existed: 
the great days of Greece, and Eliza 
bethan England, may serve as examples. 
But in our own day the tyranny of vast 
machine-like organizations, governed 
from above by men who know and care 
little for the lives of those whom they 
control, is killing individuality and free 
dom of mind, and forcing men more and 
more to conform to a uniform pattern. 

Vast organizations are an inevitable 
element in modern life, and it is useless 
to aim at their abolition, as has been 
done by some reformers, for instance, 
William Morris. It is true that they 
make the preservation of individuality 
more difficult, but what is needed is a 
way of combining them with the great 
est possible scope for individual initia 
tive. 

One very important step toward this 
25 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

end would be to render democratic the 
government of every organization. At 
present, our legislative institutions are 
more or less democratic, except for the 
important fact that women are excluded. 
But our administration is still purely 
bureaucratic, and our economic organi 
zations are monarchical or oligarchic. 
Every limited liability company is run 
by a small number of self-appointed or 
coopted directors. There can be no real 
freedom or democracy until the men who 
do the work in a business also control 
its management. 

Another measure which would do much 
to increase liberty would be an increase 
of self-government for subordinate 
groups, whether geographical or eco 
nomic or denned by some common be 
lief, like religious sects. A modern state 
is so vast and its machinery is so little 
understood that even when a man has 
26 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

a vote he does not feel himself any ef 
fective part of the force which deter 
mines its policy. Except in matters 
where he can act in conjunction with an 
exceptionally powerful group, he feels 
himself almost impotent, and the govern 
ment remains a remote impersonal cir 
cumstance, which must be simply en 
dured, like the weather. By a share in 
the control of smaller bodies, a man 
might regain some of that sense of per 
sonal opportunity and responsibility 
which belonged to v the citizen of a city- 
state in ancient Greece or medieval 
Italy. 

When any group of men has a strong 
corporate consciousness such as be 
longs, for example, to a nation or a trade 
or a religious body liberty demands 
that it should be free to decide for itself 
all matters which are of great impor 
tance to the outside world. This is the 
27 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

basis of the universal claim for national 
independence. But nations are by no 
means the only groups which ought to 
have self-government for their internal 
concerns. And nations, like other 
groups, ought not to have complete lib 
erty of action in matters which are of 
equal concern to foreign nations. Lib 
erty demands self-government, but not 
the right to interfere with others. The 
greatest degree of liberty is not secured 
by anarchy. The reconciliation o| lib 
erty with government is a difficult prob 
lem, but it is one which any political 
theory must face. 

The essence of government is the use 
of force in accordance with law to secure 
certain ends which the holders of power 
consider desirable. The coercion of an 
individual or a group by force is always 
in itself more or less harmful. But if 
there were no government, the result 
28 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

would not be an absence of force in men s 
relations to each other ; it would merely 
be the exercise of force by those who 
had strong predatory instincts, necessi 
tating either slavery or a perpetual read 
iness to repel force with force on the part 
of those whose instincts were less vio 
lent. This is the state of affairs at pres 
ent in international relations, owing to 
the fact that no international govern 
ment exists. The results of anarchy be- 
tv T ^en states should suffice to persuade 
us that anarchism has no solution to 
offer for the evils of the world. 

There is probably one purpose, and 
only one, for which the use of force by a 
government is beneficent, and that is to 
diminish the total amount of force used 
in the world. It is clear, for example, 
that the legal prohibition of murder 
diminishes the total amount of violence 
in the world. And no one would maintain 
29 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

that parents should have unlimited free 
dom to ill-treat their children. So long 
as some men wish to do violence to oth 
ers, there cannot be complete liberty, for 
either the wish to do violence must be 
restrained, or the victims must be left to 
suffer. For this reason, although indi 
viduals and societies should have the 
utmost freedom as regards their own 
affairs, they ought not to have complete 
freedom as regards their dealings with 
others. To give freedom to the strong 
to oppress the weak is not the way to 
secure the greatest possible amount of 
freedom in the world. This is the basis 
of the socialist revolt against the kind 
of freedom which used to be advocated 
by laissez-faire economists. 

Democracy is a device the best so far 

invented for diminishing as much as 

possible the interference of governments 

with liberty. If a nation is divided into 

30 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

two sections which cannot both have 
their way, democracy theoretically in 
sures that the majority shall have their 
way. But democracy is not at all an ad 
equate device unless it is accompanied 
by a very great amount of devolution. 
Love of uniformity, or the mere pleasure 
of interfering, or dislike of differing 
tastes and temperaments, may often lead 
a majority to control a minority in mat 
ters which do not really concern the ma 
jority. We should none of us like to 
have the internal affairs of Great Britain 
settled by a parliament of the world, if 
ever such a body came into existence. 
Nevertheless, there are matters which 
such a body could settle much better 
than any existing instrument of govern 
ment. 

The theory of the legitimate use of 
force in human affairs, where a govern 
ment exists, seems clear. Force should 
31 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

only be used against those who attempt 
to use force against others, or against 
those who will not respect the law in 
cases where a common decision is neces 
sary and a minority are opposed to the 
action of the majority. These seem legit 
imate occasions for the use of force ; and 
they should be legitimate occasions in in 
ternational affairs, if an international 
government existed. The problem of the 
legitimate occasions for the use of force 
in the absence of a government is a dif 
ferent one, with which we are not at pres 
ent concerned. 

Although a government must have the 
power to use force, and may on occasion 
use it legitimately, the aim of the reform 
ers to have such institutions as will 
diminish the need for actual coercion 
will be found to have this effect. Most 
of us abstain, for instance, from theft, 
not because it is illegal, but be- 
32 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

cause we feel no desire to steal. The 
more men learn to live creatively rather 
than possessively, the less their wishes 
will lead them to thwart others or to at 
tempt violent interference with their lib 
erty. Most of the conflicts of interests, 
which lead individuals or organizations 
into disputes, are purely imaginary, and 
would be seen to be so if men aimed more 
at the goods in which all can share, and 
less at those private possessions that 
are the source of strife. In proportion 
as men live creatively, they cease to wish 
to interfere with others by force. Very 
many matters in which, at present, com 
mon action is thought indispensable, 
might well be left to individual decision. 
It used to be thought absolutely neces 
sary that all the inhabitants of a coun 
try should have the same religion, but we 
now know that there is no such necessity. 
In like manner it will be found, as men 
33 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

grow more tolerant in their instincts, 
that many uniformities now insisted 
upon are useless and even harmful. 

Good political institutions would 
weaken the impulse toward force and 
domination in two ways: first, by in 
creasing the opportunities for the crea 
tive impulses, and by shaping education 
so as to strengthen these impulses; sec 
ondly, by diminishing the outlets for the 
possessive instincts. The diffusion of 
power, both in the political and the eco 
nomic sphere, instead of its concentra 
tion in the hands of officials and captains 
of industry, would greatly diminish the 
opportunities for acquiring the habit of 
command, out of which the desire for 
exercising tyranny is apt to spring. Au 
tonomy, both for districts and for or 
ganizations, would leave fewer occasions 
when governments were called upon to 
make decisions as to other people s con- 
34 



POLITICAL IDEALS 

cerns. And the abolition of capitalism 
and the wage system would remove the 
chief incentive to fear and greed, thosn 
correlative passions by which all free 
life is choked and gagged. 

Few men seem to realize how many of 
the evils from which we suffer are wholly 
unnecessary, and that they could be abol 
ished by a united effort within a few 
years. If a majority in every civilized 
country so desired, we could, within 
twenty years, abolish all abject poverty, 
quite half the illness in the world, the 
whole economic slavery which binds 
down nine tenths of our population; we 
could fill the world with beauty and joy, 
and secure the reign of universal peace. 
It is only because men are apathetic that 
this is not achieved, only because imag 
ination is sluggish, and what always has 
been is regarded as what always must be. 
With good-will, generosity, intelligence, 
these things could be brought about. 
35 



II 

CAPITALISM AND THE WAGE 
SYSTEM 



n 

CAPITALISM AND THE WAGE SYSTEM 



THE world is full of preventible evils 
which most men would be glad to 
see prevented. 

Nevertheless, these evils persist, and 
nothing effective is done toward abol 
ishing them. 

This paradox produces astonishment 
in inexperienced reformers, and too of 
ten produces disillusionment in those 
who have come to know the difficulty of 
changing human institutions. 

War is recognized as an evil by an 
immense majority in every civilized 
country; but this recognition does not 
prevent war. 

39 



CAPITALISM 

The unjust distribution of wealth must 
be obviously an evil to those who are 
not prosperous, and they are nine tenths 
of the population. Nevertheless it con 
tinues unabated. 

The tyranny of the holders of power is 
a source of needless suffering and mis 
fortune to very large sections of man 
kind; but power remains in few hands, 
and tends, if anything, to grow more con 
centrated. 

I wish first to study the evils of our 
present institutions, and the causes of 
the very limited success of reformers in 
the past, and then to suggest reasons 
for the hope of a more lasting and per 
manent success in the near future. 

The war has come as a challenge to all 
who desire a better world. The system 
which cannot save mankind from such an 
appalling disaster is at fault somewhere, 
and cannot be amended in any lasting 
40 



CAPITALISM 

way unless the danger of great wars in 
the future can be made very small. 

But war is only the final flower of an 
evil tree. Even in times of peace, most 
men live lives of monotonous labor, 
most women are condemned to a drudg 
ery which almost kills the possibility of 
happiness before youth is past, most 
children are allowed to grow up in ig 
norance of all that would enlarge their 
thoughts or stimulate their imagination. 
The few who are more fortunate are ren 
dered illiberal by their unjust privileges, 
and oppressive through fear of the awak 
ening indignation of the masses. From 
the highest to the lowest, almost all men 
are absorbed in the economic struggle: 
the struggle to acquire what is their due 
or to retain what is not their due. Ma 
terial possessions, in fact or in desire, 
dominate our outlook, usually to the ex 
clusion of all generous and creative im- 
41 



CAPITALISM 

pulses. Possessiveness the passion to 
have and to hold is the ultimate source 
of war, and the foundation of all the ills 
from which the political world is suffer 
ing. Only by diminishing the strength 
of this passion and its hold upon our 
daily lives can new institutions bring 
permanent benefit to mankind. 

Institutions which will diminish the 
sway of greed are possible, but only 
through a complete reconstruction of our 
whole economic system. Capitalism and 
the wage system must be abolished; 
they are twin monsters which are eating 
up the life of the world. In place of 
them we need a system which will hold 
in check men s predatory impulses, and 
will diminish the economic injustice that 
allows some to be rich in idleness while 
others are poor in spite of unremitting 
labor; but above all we need a system 
which will destroy the tyranny of the 
42 



CAPITALISM 

employer, by making men at the same 
time secure against destitution and able 
to find scope for individual initiative in 
the control of the industry by which they 
live. A better system can do all these 
things, and can be established by the 
democracy whenever it grows weary of 
enduring evils which there is no reason 
to endure. 

We may distinguish four purposes at 
which an economic system may aim: 
first, it may aim at the greatest possible 
production of goods and at facilitating 
technical progress ; second, it may aim at 
securing distributive justice; third, it 
may aim at giving security against desti 
tution ; and, fourth, it may aim at liber 
ating creative impulses and diminishing 
possessive impulses. 

Of these four purposes the last is the 
most important. Security is chiefly im 
portant as a means to it. State social- 
43 



CAPITALISM 

ism, though it might give material secur 
ity and more justice than we have at 
present, would probably fail to liberate 
creative impulses or produce a progress 
ive society. 

Our present system fails in all four 
purposes. It is chiefly defended on the 
ground that it achieves the first of the 
four purposes, namely, the greatest pos 
sible production of material goods, but it 
only does this in a very short-sighted 
way, by methods which are wasteful in 
the long run both of human material and 
of natural resources. 

Capitalistic enterprise involves a ruth 
less belief in the importance of increas 
ing material production to the utmost 
possible extent now and in the immedi 
ate future. In obedience to this belief, 
new portions of the earth s surface are 
continually brought under the sway of 
industrialism. Vast tracts of Africa 
44 



CAPITALISM 

become recruiting grounds for the labor 
required in the gold and diamond mines 
of the Band, Rhodesia, and Kimberley; 
for this purpose, the population is de 
moralized, taxed, driven into revolt, and 
exposed to the contamination of Euro 
pean vice and disease. Healthy and vig 
orous races from Southern Europe are 
tempted to America, where sweating and 
slum life reduce their vitality if they do 
not actually cause their death. What 
damage is done to our own urban popu-* 
lations by the conditions under which 
they live, we all know. And what is true 
of the human riches of the world is no 
less true of the physical resources. The 
mines, forests, and wheat-fields of the 
world are all being exploited at a rate 
which must practically exhaust them at 
no distant date. On the side of ma 
terial production, the world is living too 
fast ; in a kind of delirium, almost all the 
45 



CAPITALISM 

energy of the world has rushed into the 
immediate production of something, no 
matter what, and no matter at what cost. 
And yet our present system is defended 
on the ground that it safeguards prog 
ress! 

It cannot be said that our present 
economic system is any more successful 
in regard to the other three objects which 
ought to be aimed at. Among the many 
obvious evils of capitalism and the wage 
system, none are more glaring than that 
they encourage predatory instincts, that 
they allow economic injustice, and that 
they give great scope to the tyranny of 
the employer. 

As to predatory instincts, we may say, 
broadly speaking, that in a state of na 
ture there would be two ways of acquir 
ing riches one by production, the other 
by robbery. Under our existing system, 
although what is recognized as robbery 
46 



CAPITALISM 

is forbidden, there are nevertheless many 
ways of becoming rich without contribut 
ing anything to the wealth of the com 
munity. Ownership of land or capital, 
whether acquired or inherited, gives a 
legal right to a permanent income. Al 
though most people have to produce in 
order to live, a privileged minority are 
able to live in luxury without producing 
anything at all. As these are the men 
who are not only the most fortunate but 
also the most respected, there is a gen 
eral desire to enter their ranks, and a 
widespread unwillingness to face the fact 
that there is no justification whatever for 
incomes derived in this way. And apart 
from the passive enjoyment of rent or 
interest, the methods of acquiring wealth 
are very largely predatory. It is not, 
as a rule, by means of useful inventions, 
or of any other action which increases 
the general wealth of the community, 
47 



CAPITALISM 

that men amass fortunes ; it is much more 
often by skill in exploiting or circum 
venting others. Nor is it only among 
the rich that our present regime pro 
motes a narrowly acquisitive spirit. 
The constant risk of destitution compels 
most men to fill a great part of their 
time and thought with the economic 
struggle. There is a theory that this 
increases the total output of wealth by 
the community. But for reasons to 
which I shall return later, I believe this 
theory to be wholly mistaken. 

Economic injustice is perhaps the most 
obvious evil of our present system. It 
would be utterly absurd to maintain that 
the men who inherit great wealth de 
serve better of the community than those 
who have to work for their living. I am 
not prepared to maintain that economic 
justice requires an exactly equal income 
for everybody. Some kinds of work re- 
48 



CAPITALISM 

quire a larger income for efficiency than 
others do; but there is economic injus 
tice as soon as a man has more than his 
share, unless it is because his efficiency 
in his work requires it, or as a reward 
for some definite service. But this point 
is so obvious that it needs no elaboration. 
The modern growth of monopolies in 
the shape of trusts, cartels, federations 
of employers and so on has greatly irT- 
creased the power of the capitalist to 
levy toll on the community. This tend 
ency will not cease of itself, but only 
through definite action on the part of 
those who do not profit by the capitalist 
regime. Unfortunately the distinction 
between the proletariat and the capitalist 
is not so sharp as it was in the minds 
of socialist theorizers. Trade-unions 
have funds in various securities; 
friendly societies are large capitalists; 
and many individuals eke out their 
49 



CAPITALISM 

wages by invested savings. All this in 
creases the difficulty of any clear-cut rad 
ical change in our economic system. 
But it does not diminish the desirability 
of such a change. 

Such a system as that suggested by 
the French syndicalists, in which each 
trade would be self-governing and com 
pletely independent, without the control 
of any central authority, would not se 
cure economic justice. Some trades are 
in a much stronger bargaining position 
than others. Coal and transport, for 
example, could paralyze the national 
life, and could levy blackmail by threat 
ening to do so. On the other hand, such 
people as school teachers, for example, 
could rouse very little terror by the 
threat of a strike and would be in a very 
weak bargaining position. Justice can 
never be secured by any system of un 
restrained force exercised by interested 
50 



CAPITALISM 

parties in their own interests. For this 
reason the abolition of the state, which 
the syndicalists seem to desire, would be 
a measure not compatible with economic 
justice. 

The tyranny of the employer, which at 
present robs the greater part of most 
men s lives of all liberty and all initia 
tive, is unavoidable so long as the em 
ployer retains the right of dismissal with 
consequent loss of pay. This right is 
supposed to be essential in order that 
men may have an incentive to work thor 
oughly. But as men grow more civil 
ized, incentives based on hope become in 
creasingly preferable to those that are 
based on fear. It would be far better 
that men should be rewarded for work 
ing well than that they should be pun 
ished for working badly. This system 
is already in operation in the civil serv 
ice, where a man is only dismissed for 
51 



CAPITALISM 

some exceptional degree of vice or vir 
tue, such as murder or illegal abstention 
from it. Sufficient pay to ensure a live 
lihood ought to be given to every person 
who is willing to work, independently of 
the question whether the particular work 
at which he is skilled is wanted at the 
moment or not. If it is not wanted, 
some new trade which is wanted ought 
to be taught at the public expense. Why, 
for example, should a hansom-cab 
driver be allowed to suffer on account of 
the introduction of taxies? He has not 
committed any crime, and the fact that 
his work is no longer wanted is due to 
causes entirely outside his control. In 
stead of being allowed to starve, he 
ought to be given instruction in motor 
driving or in whatever other trade may 
seem most suitable. At present, owing 
to the fact that all industrial changes 
tend to cause hardships to some section 
52 



CAPITALISM 

of wage-earners, there is a tendency to 
technical conservatism on the part of 
labor, a dislike of innovations, new 
processes, and new methods. But such 
changes, if they are in the permanent in 
terest of the community, ought to be car 
ried out without allowing them to bring 
unmerited loss to those sections of the 
community whose labor is no longer 
wanted in the old form. The instinctive 
conservatism of mankind is sure to make 
all processes of production change more 
slowly than they should. It is a pity to 
add to this by the avoidable conserva 
tism which is forced upon organized 
labor at present through the unjust 
workings of a change. 

It will be said that men will not work 
well if the fear of dismissal does not 
spur them on. I think it is only a small 
percentage of whom this would be true 
at present. And those of whom it would 
53 



CAPITALISM 

be true might easily become industrious 
if they were given more congenial work 
or a wiser training. The residue who 
cannot be coaxed into industry by any 
such methods are probably to be re 
garded as pathological cases, requiring 
medical rather than penal treatment. 
And against this residue must be set the 
very much larger number who are now 
ruined in health or in morale by the ter 
rible uncertainty of their livelihood and 
the great irregularity of their employ 
ment. To very many, security would 
bring a quite new possibility of physical 
and moral health. 

The most dangerous aspect of the tyr 
anny of the employer is the power 
which it gives him of interfering with 
men s activities outside their working 
hours. A man may be dismissed be 
cause the employer dislikes his religion 
or his politics, or chooses to think his 
54 



CAPITALISM 

private life immoral. He may be dis 
missed because he tries to produce 
a spirit of independence among his 
fellow employees. He may fail com 
pletely to find employment merely on 
the ground that he is better edu 
cated than most and therefore more 
dangerous. Such cases actually oc 
cur at present. This evil would not 
be remedied, but rather intensified, under 
state socialism, because, where the State 
is the only employer, there is no refuge 
from its prejudices such as may now ac 
cidentally arise through the differing 
opinions of different men. The State 
would be able to enforce any system of 
beliefs it happened to like, and it is al 
most certain that it would do so. Free 
dom of thought would be penalized, and 
all independence of spirit would die out. 
Any rigid system would involve this 
evil. It is very necessary that there 
55 



CAPITALISM 

should be diversity and lack of complete 
systematization. Minorities must be 
able to live and develop their opinions 
freely. If this is not secured, the in 
stinct of persecution and conformity will 
force all men into one mold and make 
all vital progress impossible. 

For these reasons, no one ought to be 
allowed to suffer destitution so long as 
he or she is willing to work. And no 
kind of inquiry ought to be made into 
opinion or private life. It is only on 
this basis that it is possible to build up 
an economic system not founded upon 
tyranny and terror. 

ii 

The power of the economic reformer is 
limited by the technical productivity of 
labor. So long as it was necessary to 
the bare subsistence of the human race 
that most men should work very long 
56 



CAPITALISM 

hours for a pittance, so long no civiliza 
tion was possible except an aristocratic 
one; if there were to be men with suf 
ficient leisure for any mental life, there 
had to be others who were sacrificed for 
the good of the few. But the time when 
such a system was necessary has passed 
away with the progress of machinery. 
It would be possible now, if we had a 
wise economic system, for all who have 
mental needs to find satisfaction for 
them. By a few hours a day of manual 
work, a man can produce as much as is 
necessary for his own subsistence; and 
if he is willing to forgo luxuries, that is 
all that the community has a right to 
demand of him. It ought to be open to 
all who so desire to do short hours of 
work for little pay, and devote their lei 
sure to whatever pursuit happens to at 
tract them. No doubt the great major 
ity of those who chose this course would 
57 



CAPITALISM 

spend their time in mere amusement, as 
most of the rich do at present. But it 
could not be said, in such a society, that 
they were parasites upon the labor of 
others. And there would be a minority 
who would give their hours of nominal 
idleness to science or art or literature, 
or some other pursuit out of which fun 
damental progress may come. In all 
such matters, organization and system 
can only do harm. The one thing that 
can be done is to provide opportunity, 
without repining at the waste that re 
sults from most men failing to make 
good use of the opportunity. 

But except in cases of unusual lazi 
ness or eccentric ambition, most men 
would elect to do a full day s work for a 
full day s pay. For these, who would 
form the immense majority, the impor 
tant thing is that ordinary work should, 
as far as possible, afford interest and 
58 



CAPITALISM 

independence and scope for initiative. 
These things are more important than 
income, as soon as a certain minimum 
has been reached. They can be secured 
by gild socialism, by industrial self- 
government subject to state control as 
regards the relations of a trade to the 
rest of the community. So far as I 
know, they cannot be secured in any 
other way. 

Gild socialism, as advocated by Mr. 
Orage and the "New Age," is associated 
with a polemic against " political" ac 
tion, and in favor of direct economic ac 
tion by trade-unions. It shares this with 
syndicalism, from which most of what is 
new in it is derived. But I see no reason 
for this attitude; political and economic 
action seem to me equally necessary, 
each in its own time and place. I think 
there is danger in the attempt to use 
the machinery of the present capitalist 
59 



CAPITALISM 

state for socialistic purposes. But 
there is need of political action to 
transform the machinery of the state, 
side by side with the transformation 
which we hope to see in economic insti 
tutions. In this country, neither trans 
formation is likely to be brought about 
by a sudden revolution; we must expect 
each to come step by step, if at all, and I 
doubt if either could or should advance 
very far without the other. 

The economic system we should ulti 
mately wish to see would be one in which 
the state would be the sole recipient of 
economic rent, while private capitalistic 
enterprises should be replaced by self- 
governing combinations of those who ac 
tually do the work. It ought to be op 
tional whether a man does a whole day s 
work for a whole day s pay, or half a 
day s work for half a day s pay, except 
in cases where such an arrangement 
60 



CAPITALISM 

would cause practical inconvenience. A 
man s pay should not cease through the 
accident of his work being no longer 
needed, but should continue so long as he 
is willing to work, a new trade being 
taught him at the public expense, if nee-, 
essary. Unwillingness to work should 
be treated medically or educationally, 
when it could not be overcome by a 
change to some more congenial occupa 
tion. 

The workers in a given industry should 
all be combined in one autonomous unit, 
and their work should not be subject to 
any outside control. The state should 
fix the price at which they produce, but 
should leave the industry self-governing 
in all other respects. In fixing prices, 
the state should, as far as possible, allow 
each industry to profit by any improve 
ments which it might introduce into its 
own processes, but should endeavor to 
61 



CAPITALISM 

prevent undeserved loss or gain through 
changes in external economic conditions. 
In this way there would be every incent 
ive to progress, with the least possible 
danger of unmerited destitution. And 
although large economic organizations 
will continue, as they are bound to do, 
there will be a diffusion of power which 
will take away the sense of individual im 
potence from which men and women suf 
fer at present. 

in 

Some men, though they may admit 
that such a system would be desirable, 
will argue that it is impossible to bring 
it about, and that therefore we must con 
centrate on more immediate objects. 

I think it must be conceded that a po 
litical party ought to have proximate 
aims, measures which it hopes to carry 
in the next session or the next parlia- 
62 



CAPITALISM 

ment, as well as a more distant goal. 
Marxian socialism, as it existed in Ger 
many, seemed to me to suffer in this 
way : although the party was numerically 
powerful, it was politically weak, because 
it had no minor measures to demand 
while waiting for the revolution. And 
when, at last, German socialism was 
captured by those who desired a less 
impracticable policy, the modification 
which occurred was of exactly the wrong 
kind : acquiescence in bad policies, such 
as militarism and imperialism, rather 
than advocacy of partial reforms which, 
however inadequate, would still have 
been steps in the right direction. 

A similar defect was inherent in the 
policy of French syndicalism as it ex 
isted before the war. Everything was 
to wait for the general strike ; after ade 
quate preparation, one day the whole 
proletariat would unanimously refuse to 
63 



CAPITALISM 

work, the property owners would ac 
knowledge their defeat, and agree to 
abandon all their privileges rather than 
starve. This is a dramatic conception; 
but love of drama is a great enemy of 
true vision. Men cannot be trained, ex 
cept under very rare circumstances, to 
do something suddenly which is very 
different from what they have been do 
ing before. If the general strike were 
to succeed, the* victors, despite their 
anarchism, would be compelled at once 
to form an administration, to create a 
new police force to prevent looting and 
wanton destruction, to establish a pro 
visional government issuing dictatorial 
orders to the various sections of revolu 
tionaries. Now the syndicalists are op 
posed in principle to all political action ; 
they would feel that they were departing 
from their theory in taking the neces 
sary practical steps, and they would be 
64 



CAPITALISM 

without the required training because of 
their previous abstention from politics. 
For these reasons it is likely that, even 
after a syndicalist revolution, actual 
power would fall into the hands of men 
who were not really syndicalists. 

Another objection to- a program 
which is to be realized suddenly at some 
remote date by a revolution or a general 
strike is that enthusiasm flags when 
there is nothing to do meanwhile, and no 
partial success to lessen the weariness of 
waiting. The only sort of movement 
which can succeed by such methods is 
one where the sentiment and the pro 
gram are both very simple, as is the 
case in rebellions of oppressed nations. 
But the line of demarcation between 
capitalist and wage-earner is not sharp, 
like the line between Turk and Armenian, 
or between an Englishman and a native 
of India, Those who have advocated 
65 



CAPITALISM 

the social revolution have been mistaken 
in their political methods, chiefly because 
they have not realized how many people 
there are in the community whose sym 
pathies and interests lie half on the side 
of capital, half on the side of labor. 
These people make a clear-cut revolu 
tionary policy very difficult. 

For these reasons, those who aim at an 
economic reconstruction which is not 
likely to be completed to-morrow must, 
if they are to have any hope of success, 
be able to approach their goal by de 
grees, through measures which are of 
some use in themselves, even if they 
should not ultimately lead to the desired 
end. There must be activities which 
train men for those that they are ulti 
mately to carry out, and there must be 
possible achievements in the near fu 
ture, not only a vague hope of a distant 
paradise. 

66 



CAPITALISM 

But although I believe that all this is 
true, I believe no less firmly that really 
vital and radical reform requires some 
vision beyond the immediate future, 
some realization of what human beings 
might make of human life if they chose. 
Without some such hope, men will not 
have the energy and enthusiasm neces 
sary to overcome opposition, or the 
steadfastness to persist when their aims 
are for the moment unpopular. Every 
man who has really sincere desire 
for any great amelioration in the condi 
tions of life has first to face ridicule, 
then persecution, then cajolery and at 
tempts at subtle corruption. We know 
from painful experience how few pass 
unscathed through these three ordeals. 
The last especially, when the reformer is 
shown all the kingdoms of the earth, is 
difficult, indeed almost impossible, ex 
cept for those who have made their ulti- 
67 



CAPITALISM 

mate goal vivid to themselves by clear 
and definite thought. 

Economic systems are concerned es 
sentially with the production and dis 
tribution of material goods. Our pres 
ent system is wasteful on the production 
side, and unjust on the side of distribu 
tion. It involves a life of slavery to 
economic forces for the great majority 
of the community, and for the minority a 
degree of power over the lives of others 
which no man ought to have. In a good 
community the production of the neces 
saries of existence would be a mere pre 
liminary to the important and interest 
ing part of life, except for those who find 
a pleasure in some part of the work of 
producing necessaries. It is not in the 
least necessary that economic needs 
should dominate man as they do at pres 
ent. This is rendered necessary at pres 
ent, partly by the inequalities of wealth, 
68 



CAPITALISM 

partly by the fact that things of real 
value, such as a good education, are dif 
ficult to acquire, except for the well-to-do. 

Private ownership of land and capital 
is not defensible on grounds of justice, 
or on the ground that it is an economical 
way of producing what the community 
needs. But the chief objections to it are 
that it stunts the lives of men and 
women, that it enshrines a ruthless pos- 
sessiveness in all the respect which is 
given to success, that it leads men to fill 
the greater part of their time and 
thought with the acquisition of purely 
material goods, and that it affords a ter 
rible obstacle to the advancement of civ 
ilization and creative energy. 

The approach to a system free from 
these evils need not be sudden ; it is per 
fectly possible to proceed step by step 
towards economic freedom and indus 
trial self-government. It is not true 
69 



CAPITALISM 

that there is any outward difficulty in 
creating the kind of institutions that we 
have been considering. If organized 
labor wishes to create them, nothing 
could stand in its way. The difficulty in 
volved is merely the difficulty of inspir 
ing men with hope, of giving them 
enough imagination to see that the evils 
from which they suffer are unnecessary, 
and enough thought to understand how 
the evils are to be cured. This is a dif 
ficulty which can be overcome by time 
and energy. But it will not be over 
come if the leaders of organized labor 
have no breadth of outlook, no vision, no 
hopes beyond some slight superficial im 
provement within the framework of the 
existing system. Revolutionary action 
may be unnecessary, but revolutionary 
thought is indispensable, and, as the out 
come of thought, a rational and con 
structive hope. 

70 



Ill 

PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 



Ill 

PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 



IN its early days, socialism was a 
revolutionary movement of which 
the object was the liberation of the wage- 
earning classes and the establishment of 
freedom and justice. The passage from 
capitalism to the new regime was to be 
sudden and violent: capitalists were to 
be expropriated without compensation, 
and their power was not to be replaced 
by any new authority. 

Gradually a change came over the 
spirit of socialism. In France, social 
ists became members of the government, 
and made and unmade parliamentary 
73 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

majorities. In Germany, social democ 
racy grew so strong that it became im 
possible for it to resist the temptation to 
barter away some of its intransigeance in 
return for government recognition of its 
claims. In England, the Fabians taught 
the advantage of reform as against 
revolution, and of conciliatory bargain 
ing as against* irreconcilable antagon 
ism. 

The method of gradual reform has 
many merits as compared to the method 
of revolution, and I have no wish to 
preach revolution. But gradual reform 
has certain dangers, to wit, the owner 
ship or control of businesses hitherto in 
private hands, and by encouraging legis 
lative interference for the benefit of vari 
ous sections of the wage-earning classes. 
I think it is at least doubtful whether 
such measures do anything at all to con 
tribute toward the ideals which inspired 
74 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

the early socialists and still inspire the 
great majority of those who advocate 
some form of socialism. 

Let us take as an illustration such a 
measure as state purchase of railways. 
This is a typical object of state social 
ism, thoroughly practicable, already 
achieved in many countries, and clearly 
the sort of step that must be taken in 
any piecemeal approach to complete col 
lectivism. Yet I see no reason to believe 
that any real advance toward democ 
racy, freedom, or economic justice is 
achieved when a state takes over the 
railways after full compensation to the 
shareholders. 

Economic justice demands a diminu 
tion, if not a total abolition, of the pro-! 
portion of the national income which 
goes to the recipients of rent and inter 
est. But when the holders of railway 
shares are given government stock to 
75 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

replace their shares, they are given the 
prospect of an income in perpetuity 
equal to what they might reasonably ex 
pect to have derived from their shares. 
Unless there is reason to expect a great 
increase in the earnings of railways, the 
whole operation does nothing to alter the 
distribution of wealth. This could only 
be effected if the present owners were 
expropriated, or paid less than the mar 
ket value, or given a mere life-interest 
as compensation. When full value is 
given, economic justice is not advanced 
in any degree. 

There is equally little advance toward 
freedom. The men employed on the 
railway have no more voice than they 
had before in the management of the 
railway, or in the wages and conditions 
of work. Instead of having to fight the 
directors, with the possibility of an ap 
peal to the government, they now have 
76 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

to fight the government directly; and 
experience does not lead to the view that 
a government department has any spe 
cial tenderness toward the claims of 
labor. If they strike, they have to con 
tend against the whole organized power 
of the state, which they can only do suc 
cessfully if they happen to have a strong 
public opinion on their side. In view of 
the influence which the state can always 
exercise on the press, public opinion is 
likely to be biased against them, partic 
ularly when a nominally progressive 
government is in power. There will no 
longer be the possibility of divergences 
between the policies of different rail 
ways. Railway men in England de 
rived advantages for many years from 
the comparatively liberal policy of the 
North Eastern Railway, which they were 
able to use as an argument for a similar 
policy elsewhere. Such possibilities are 
77 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

excluded by the dead uniformity of state 
administration. 

And there is no real advance toward 
democracy. The administration of the 
railways will be in the hands of officials 
whose bias and associations separate 
them from labor, and who will develop 
an autocratic temper through the habit 
of power. The democratic machinery 
by which these officials are nominally 
controlled is cumbrous and remote, and 
can only be brought into operation on 
first-class issues which rouse the interest 
of the whole nation. Even then it is 
very likely that the superior education 
of the officials and the government, com 
bined with the advantages of their posi 
tion, will enable them to mislead the pub 
lic as to the issues, and alienate the gen 
eral sympathy even from the most excel 
lent cause. 

I do not deny that these evils exist at 
78 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

present ; I say only that they will not be 
remedied by such measures as the na 
tionalization of railways in the present 
economic and political environment. A 
greater upheaval, and a greater change 
in men s habits of mind, is necessary for > 
any really vital progress. 

ii 

State socialism, even in a nation which 
possesses the form of political democ 
racy, is not a truly democratic system. 
The way in which it fails to be demo 
cratic may be made plain by an analogy 
from the political sphere. Every demo 
crat recognizes that the Irish ought to 
have self-government for Irish affairs, 
and ought not to be told that they have 
no grievance because they share in the 
Parliament of the United Kingdom. It 
is essential to democracy that any group 
of citizens whose interests or desires 
79 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

separate them at all widely from the rest 
of the community should be free to de 
cide their internal affairs for themselves. 
And what is true of national or local 
groups is equally true of economic 
groups, such as miners or railway men. 
The national machinery of general elec 
tions is by no means sufficient to secure 
for groups of this kind the freedom 
which they ought to have. 

The power of officials, which is a great 
and growing danger in the modern 
state, arises from the fact that the ma 
jority of the voters, who constitute the 
only ultimate popular control over offi 
cials, are as a rule not interested in any 
one particular question, and are there 
fore not likely to interfere effectively 
against an official who is thwarting the 
wishes of the minority who are inter 
ested. The official is nominally subject 
to indirect popular control, but not to 
80 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

the control of those who are directly af 
fected by his action. The bulk of the 
public will either never hear about the 
matter in dispute, or, if they do hear, 
will form a hasty opinion based upon 
inadequate information, which is far 
more likely to come from the side of the 
officials than from the section of the com 
munity which is affected by the question 
at issue. In an important political is 
sue, some degree of knowledge is likely 
to be diffused in time ; but in other mat 
ters there is little hope that this will hap 
pen. 

It may be said that the power of offi 
cials is much less dangerous than the 
power of capitalists, because officials 
have no economic interests that are op 
posed to those of wage-earners. But 
this argument involves far too simple a 
theory of political human nature a 
theory which orthodox socialism adopted 
81 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

from the classical political economy, and 
has tended to retain in spite of growing 
evidence of its falsity. Economic self- 
interest, and even economic class-inter 
est, is by no means the only important 
political motive. Officials, whose salary 
is generally quite unaffected by their 
decisions on particular questions, are 
likely, if they are of average honesty, 
to decide according to their view of the 
public interest ; but their view will none 
the less have a bias w r hich will often 
lead them wrong. It is important to un 
derstand this bias before entrusting our 
destinies too unreservedly to govern 
ment departments. 

The first thing to observe is that, in 
any very large organization, and above 
all in a great state, officials and legisla 
tors are usually very remote from those 
whom they govern, and not imagina 
tively acquainted with the conditions of 
82 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

life to which their decisions will be ap 
plied. This makes them ignorant of 
much that they ought to know, even 
when they are industrious and willing to 
learn whatever can be taught by statis 
tics and blue-books. The one thing they 
understand intimately is the office rou 
tine and the administrative rules. The 
result is an undue anxiety to secure a 
uniform system. I have heard of a 
French minister of education taking out 
his watch, and remarking, "At this mo 
ment all the children of such and such 
an age in France are learning so and 
so." This is the ideal of the adminis 
trator, an ideal utterly fatal to free 
growth, initiative, experiment, or any 
far reaching innovation. Laziness is 
not one of the motives recognized in text 
books on political theory, because all 
ordinary knowledge of human nature is 
considered unworthy of the dignity of 
83 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

these works; yet we all know that lazi 
ness is an immensely powerful motive 
with all but a small minority of man 
kind. 

Unfortunately, in this case laziness is 
reinforced by love of power, which leads 
energetic officials to create the systems 
which lazy officials like to administer. 
The energetic official inevitably dislikes 
anything that he does not control. His 
official sanction must be obtained before 
anything can be done. Whatever he 
finds in existence he wishes to alter in 
some way, so as to have the satisfaction 
of feeling his power and making it felt. 
If he is conscientious, he will think out 
some perfectly uniform and rigid scheme 
which he believes to be the best possible, 
and he will then impose this scheme ruth 
lessly, whatever promising growths he 
may have to lop down for the sake of 
symmetry. The result inevitably has 
84 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

something of the deadly dullness of a 
new rectangular town, as compared with 
the beauty and richness of an ancient 
city which has lived and grown with the 
separate lives and individualities of 
many generations. What has grown is 
always more living than what has been 
decreed; but the energetic official will 
always prefer the tidiness of what he 
has decreed to the apparent disorder of 
spontaneous growth. 

The mere possession of power tends to 
produce a love of power, which is a very 
dangerous motive, because the only sure 
proof of power consists in preventing 
others from doing what they wish to do. 
The essential theory of democracy is the 
diffusion of power among the whole peo 
ple, so that the evils produced by one 
man s possession of great power shall 
be obviated. But the diffusion of power 
through democracy is only effective 
85 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

when the voters take an interest in the 
question involved. When the question 
does not interest them, they do not at 
tempt to control the administration, and 
all actual power passes into the hands 
of officials. 

For this reason, the true ends of 
democracy are not achieved by state 
socialism or by any system which places 
great power in the hands of men subject 
to no popular control except that which 
is more or less indirectly exercised 
through parliament. 

Any fresh survey of men s political 
actions shows that, in those who have 
enough energy to be politically effective, 
love of power is a stronger motive than 
economic self-interest. Love of power 
actuates the great millionaires, who have 
far more money than they can spend, but 
continue to amass wealth merely in or 
der to control more and more of the 
86 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

world s finance. 1 Love of power is obvi 
ously the ruling motive of many politi 
cians. It is also the chief cause of wars, 
which are admittedly almost always a 
bad speculation from the mere point of 
view of wealth. For this reason, a new 
economic system which merely attacks 
economic motives and does not interfere 
with the concentration of power is not 
likely to effect any very great improve 
ment in the world. This is one of the 
chief reasons for regarding state so 
cialism with suspicion. 

in 

The problem of the distribution of 
power is a more difficult one than the 
problem of the distribution of wealth. 
The machinery of representative gov 
ernment has concentrated on ultimate 
power as the only important matter, and 

iCf. J. A. Hobson, "The Evolution of Modern 
Capitalism." 

87 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

has ignored immediate executive power. 
Almost nothing has been done to democ 
ratize administration. Government of 
ficials, in virtue of their income, secur 
ity, and social position, are likely to be 
on the side of the rich, who have been 
their daily associates ever since the time 
of school and college. And whether or 
not they are on the side of the rich, they 
are not likely, for the reasons we have 
been considering, to be genuinely in 
favor of progress. What applies to 
government officials applies also to 
members of Parliament, with the sole 
difference that they have had to recom 
mend themselves to a constituency. 
This, however, only adds hypocrisy to 
the other qualities of a ruling caste. 
Whoever has stood in the lobby of the 
House of Commons watching members 
emerge with wandering eye and hypo 
thetical smile, until the constituent is 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

espied, his arm taken, "my dear fel 
low" whispered in his ear, and his steps 
guided toward the inner precincts 
whoever, observing this, has realized 
that these are the arts by which men be 
come and remain legislators, can hardly 
fail to feel that democracy as it exists 
is not an absolutely perfect instrument 
of government. It is a painful fact that 
the ordinary voter, at any rate in Eng 
land, is quite blind to insincerity. 
The man who does not care about any 
definite political measures can generally 
be won by corruption or flattery, open 
or concealed; the man who is set on se 
curing reforms will generally prefer an 
ambitious windbag to a man who desires 
the public good without possessing a 
ready tongue. And the ambitious wind 
bag, as soon as he has become a power by 
the enthusiasm he has aroused, will sell 
his influence to the governing clique, 
89 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

sometimes openly, sometimes by the 
more subtle method of intentionally fail 
ing at a crisis. This is part of the 
normal working of democracy as em 
bodied in representative institutions. 
Yet a cure must be found if democracy is 
not to remain a farce. 

One of the sources of evil in modern 
large democracies is the fact that most 
of the electorate have no direct or vital 
interest in most of the questions that 
arise. Should Welsh children be al 
lowed the use of the Welsh language in 
schools? Should gipsies be compelled 
to abandon their nomadic life at the 
bidding of the education authorities? 
Should miners have an eight-hour day? 
Should Christian Scientists be compelled 
to call in doctors in case of serious ill 
ness? These are matters of passionate 
interest to certain sections of the com 
munity, but of very little interest to the 
90 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

great majority. If they are decided ac 
cording to the wishes of the numerical 
majority, the intense desires of a mino 
rity will be overborne by the very slight 
and uninformed whims of the indifferent 
remainder. If the minority are geo 
graphically concentrated, so that they 
can decide elections in a certain number 
of constituencies, like the Welsh and the 
miners, they have a good chance of get 
ting their way, by the wholly beneficent 
process which its enemies describe as 
log-rolling. But if they are scattered 
and politically feeble, like the gipsies and 
the Christian Scientists, they stand a 
very poor chance against the prejudices 
of the majority. Even when they are 
geographically concentrated, like the 
Irish, they may fail to obtain their 
wishes, because they arouse some hostil 
ity or some instinct of domination in the 
majority. Such a state of affairs is the 
91 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

negation of all democratic principles. 
The tyranny of the majority is a very 
real danger. It is a mistake to suppose 
that the majority is necessarily right. 
On every new question the majority is 
always wrong at first. In matters where 
the state must act as a whole, such as 
tariffs, for example, decision by majori 
ties is probably the best method that can 
be devised. But there are a great many 
questions in which there is no need of a v> 
uniform decision. Religion is recog 
nized as one of these. Education ought 
to be one, provided a certain minimum 
standard is attained. Military service 
clearly ought to be one. Wherever di 
vergent action by different groups is 
possible without anarchy, it ought to be 
permitted. In such cases it will be 
found by those who consider past his 
tory that, whenever any new funda 
mental issue arises, the majority are in 
92 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

the wrong, because they are guided by 
prejudice and habit. Progress comes 
through the gradual effect of a minority 
in converting opinion and altering cus 
tom. At one time not so very long 
ago it was considered monstrous wick 
edness to maintain that old women ought 
not to be burnt as witches. If those who 
held this opinion had been forcibly sup 
pressed, we should still be steeped in 
medieval superstition. For such rea 
sons, it is of the utmost importance that 
the majority should refrain from impos 
ing its will as regards matters in which 
uniformity is not absolutely necessary. 

rv 

The cure for the evils and dangers 
which we have been considering is a very 
great extension of devolution and fed- 1 
eral government. Wherever there is a 
national consciousness, as in Wales and 
93 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

Ireland, the area in which it exists ought 
to be allowed to decide all purely local 
affairs without external interference. 
But there are many matters which ought 
to be left to the management, not of lo 
cal groups, but of trade groups, or of or 
ganizations embodying some set of opin 
ions. In the East, men are subject to 
different laws according to the religion 
they profess. Something of this kind 
is necessary if any semblance of liberty 
is to exist where there is great diverg 
ence in beliefs. 

Some matters are essentially geo 
graphical; for instance, gas and water, 
roads, tariffs, armies and navies. 
These must be decided by an authority 
representing an area. How large the 
area ought to be, depends upon acci 
dents of topography and sentiment, and 
also upon the nature of the matter in 
volved. Gas and water require a small 
94 



area, roads a somewhat larger one, while 
the only satisfactory area for an army 
or a navy is the whole planet, since no 
smaller area will prevent war. 

But the proper unit in most economic 
questions, and also in most questions 
that are intimately concerned with per 
sonal opinions, is not geographical at 
all. The internal management of rail 
ways ought not to be in the hands of the 
geographical state, for reasons which we 
have already considered. Still less 
ought it to be in the hands of a set of ir 
responsible capitalists. The only truly 
democratic system would be one which 
left the internal management of railways . 
in the hands of the men who work on 
them. These men should elect the gen 
eral manager, and a parliament of di 
rectors if necessary. All questions of 
wages, conditions of labor, running of 
trains, and acquisition of material, 
95 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

should be in the hands of a body respon 
sible only to those actually engaged in 
the work of the railway. 

The same arguments apply to other 
large trades : mining, iron and steel, cot 
ton, and so on. British trade-union 
ism, it seems to me, has erred in con 
ceiving labor and capital as both 
permanent forces, which were to be 
brought to some equality of strength by 
the organization of labor. This seems 
to me too modest an ideal. The ideal 
which I should wish to substitute in 
volves the conquest of democracy and 
self-government in the economic sphere 
as in the political sphere, and the total 
abolition of the power now wielded by 
the capitalist. The man who works on 
a railway ought to have a voice in the 
government of the railway, just as much 
as the man who works in a state has a 
right to a voice in the management of his 
96 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

state. The concentration of business in 
itiative in the hands of the employers is 
a great evil, and robs the employees of 
their legitimate share of interest in the 
larger problems of their trade. 

French syndicalists were the first to 
advocate the system of trade autonomy 
as a better solution than state social 
ism. But in their view the trades were 
to be independent, almost like sovereign 
states at present. Such a system would 
not promote peace, any more than it 
does at present in international rela 
tions. In the affairs of any body of 
men, we may broadly distinguish what 
may be called questions of home politics 
from questions of foreign politics. 
Every group sufficiently well-marked to 
constitute a political entity ought to be 
autonomous in regard to internal mat 
ters, but not in regard to those that di 
rectly affect the outside world. If two 
97 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

groups are both entirely free as regards 
their relations to each other, there is no 
way of averting the danger of an open 
or covert appeal to force. The relations 
of a group of men to the outside world 
ought, whenever possible, to be con 
trolled by a neutral authority. It is 
here that the state is necessary for ad 
justing the relations between different 
trades. The men who make some com 
modity should be entirely free as regards 
hours of labor, distribution of the total 
earnings of the trade, and all questions 
of business management. But they 
should not be free as regards the price 
of what they produce, since price is a 
matter concerning their relations to the 
rest of the community. If there were 
nominal freedom in regard to price, 
there would be a danger of a constant 
tug-of-war, in which those trades which 
were most immediately necessary to the 
98 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

existence of the community could always 
obtain an unfair advantage. Force is 
no more admirable in the economic 
sphere than in dealings between states. 
In order to secure the maximum of free 
dom with the minimum of force, the uni- 

, 

versal principle is: Autonomy within 
each politically important group, and a 
neutral authority for deciding questions 
involving relations between groups.* 
The neutral authority should, of course, 
rest on a democratic basis, but should, 
if possible, represent a constituency 
wider than that of the groups concerned. 
In international affairs the only ade 
quate authority would be one represent 
ing all civilized nations. 

In order to prevent undue extension 
of the power of such authorities, it is 
desirable and necessary that the various 
autonomous groups should be very jeal 
ous of their liberties, and very ready to 
99 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

resist by political means any encroach 
ments upon their independence. State 
socialism does not tolerate such groups,\ 
each with their own officials responsible 
to the group. Consequently it abandons 
the internal affairs of a group to the con 
trol of men not responsible to that group 
or specially aware of its needs. This 
opens the door to tyranny and to the 
destruction of initiative. These dangers 
are avoided by a system which allows 
any group of men to combine for any 
given purpose, provided it is not preda 
tory, and to claim from the central au 
thority such self-government as is neces 
sary to the carrying out of the purpose. 
Churches of various denominations af 
ford an instance. Their autonomy was 
won by centuries of warfare and perse 
cution. It is to be hoped that a less 
terrible struggle will be required to 
achieve the same result in the economic 
100 



PITFALLS IN SOCIALISM 

sphere. But whatever the obstacles, I 
believe the importance of liberty is as 
great in the one case as it has been ad 
mitted to be in the other. 



101 



IV 

INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY AND 
PUBLIC CONTROL 



IV 

INDIVIDUAL. LIBERTY AND PUBLIC 
CONTROL 



SOCIETY cannot exist without law 
and order, and cannot advance ex 
cept through the initiative of vigorous 
innovators. Yet lay/ and order are al 
ways hostile to innovations, and innova 
tors are almost always, to some extent, 
anarchists. Those whose minds are 
dominated by fear of a relapse towards 
barbarism will emphasize the importance 
of law and order, while those who are 
inspired by the hope of an advance to 
wards civilization will usually be more 
conscious of the need of individual in- 
105 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

illative. Both temperaments are neces 
sary, and wisdom lies in allowing each 
to operate freely where it is beneficent. 
But those who are on the sir* of law and 
order, since they are reinforced by cus 
tom and the instinct for upholding the 
status quo, have no need of a reasoned 
defense. It is the innovators who have 
difficulty in being allowed to exist and 
work. Each generation believes that 
this difficulty is a thing of the past, but 
each generation is only tolerant of past 
innovations. Those of its own day are 
met with the same persecution as though 
the principle of toleration had never been 
heard of. 

"In early society," says Wester- 
marck, "customs are not only moral 
rules, but the only moral rules ever 
thought of. The savage strictly com 
plies with the Hegelian command that no 
man must have a private conscience. 
106 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

The following statement, which refers 
to the Tinnevelly Shanars, may be 
quoted as a typical example: Solitary 
individuals amongst them rarely adopt 
any new opinions, or any new course of 
procedure. They follow the multitude 
to do evil, and they follow the multitude 
to do good. They think in herds. " 1 

Those among ourselves who have 
never thought a thought or done a deed 
in the slightest degree different from the 
thoughts and deeds of our neighbors will 
congratulate themselves on the differ 
ence between us and the savage. But 
those who have ever attempted any real 
innovation cannot help feeling that the 
people they know are not so very unlike 
the Tinnevelly Shanars. 

Under the influence of socialism, even 
progressive opinion, in recent years, has 

i "The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas," 
2d edition, Vol. I, p. 119. 

107 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

been hostile to individual liberty. Lib 
erty is associated, in the minds of re 
formers, with laissez-faire, the Man 
chester School, and the exploitation of 
women and children which resulted from 
what was euphemistically called "free 
competition." All these things were 
evil, and required state interference; in 
fact, there is need of an immense in 
crease of state action in regard to cog 
nate evils which still exist. In every 
thing that concerns the economic life of 
the community, as regards both distri 
bution and conditions of production, 
what is required is more public control, 
not less how much more, I do not pro 
fess to know. 

Another direction in which there is 
urgent need of the substitution of law 
and order for anarchy is international 
relations. At present, each sovereign 
state has complete individual freedom, 
108 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

subject only to the sanction of war. 
This individual freedom will have to be 
curtailed in regard to external relations 
if wars are ever to cease. 

But when we pass outside the sphere 
of material possessions, we find that the 
arguments in favor of public control al 
most entirely disappear. 

Keligion, to begin with, is recognized 
as a matter in which the state ought not 
to interfere. Whether a man is Chris 
tian, Mahometan, or Jew is a question 
of no public concern, so long as he obeys 
the laws ; and the laws ought to be such 
as men of all religions can obey. Yet 
even here there are limits. No civilized 
state would tolerate a religion demand 
ing human sacrifice. The English in In 
dia put an end to suttee, in spite of a 
fixed principle of non-interference with 
native religious customs. Perhaps they 
were wrong to prevent suttee, yet almost 
109 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

every European would have done the 
same. We cannot effectively doubt that 
such practices ought to be stopped, how 
ever we may theorize in favor of re 
ligious liberty. 

In such cases, the interference with 
liberty is imposed from without by a 
higher civilization. But the more com 
mon case, and the more interesting, is 
when an independent state interferes on 
behalf of custom against individuals who 
are feeling their way toward more 
civilized beliefs and institutions. 

"In New South Wales," says Wester- 
marck, "the first-born of every lubra 
used to be eaten by the tribe as part of 
a religious ceremony. In the realm of 
Khai-muh, in China, according to a na 
tive account, it was customary to kill and 
devour the eldest son alive. Among cer 
tain tribes in British Columbia the first 
child is often sacrificed to the sun. The 
110 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

Indians of Florida, according to Le 
Moyne de Morgues, sacrificed the first 
born son to the chief. . . . " * 

There are pages and pages of such 
instances. 

There is nothing analogous to these 
practices among ourselves. When the 
first-born in Florida was told that his 
king and country needed him, this was 
a mere mistake, and with us mistakes of 
this kind do not occur. But it is inter 
esting to inquire how these superstitions 
died out, in such cases, for example, as 
that of Khai-inuh, where foreign com 
pulsion is improbable. We may surmise 
that some parents, under the selfish in 
fluence of parental affection, were led to 
doubt whether the sun would really be 
angry if the eldest child were allowed to 
live. Such rationalism would be re 
garded as very dangerous, since it was 

i Op. cit., p. 459. 

Ill 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

calculated to damage the harvest. For 
generations the opinion would be cher 
ished in secret by a handful of cranks, 
who would not be able to act upon it. 
At last, by concealment or flight, a few 
parents would save their children from 
the sacrifice. Such parents would be re 
garded as lacking all public spirit, and 
as willing to endanger the community 
for their private pleasure. But gradu 
ally it would appear that the state re 
mained intact, and the crops were no 
worse than in former years. Then, by a 
fiction, a child would be deemed to have 
been sacrificed if it was solemnly dedi 
cated to agriculture or some other work 
of national importance chosen by the 
chief. It would be many generations be 
fore the child would be allowed to choose 
its own occupation after it had grown 
old enough to know its own tastes and 
capacities. And during all those gen- 
112 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

erations, children would be reminded 
that only an act of grace had allowed 
them to live at all, and would exist un 
der the shadow of a purely imaginary 
duty to the state. 

The position of those parents who first 
disbelieved in the utility of infant sac 
rifice illustrates all the difficulties which 
arise in connection with the adjustment 
of individual freedom to public control. 
The authorities, believing the sacrifice 
necessary for the good of the commu 
nity, were bound to insist upon it; the 
parents, believing it useless, were 
equally bound to do everything in their 
power toward saving the child. How 
ought both parties to act in such a case I 

The duty of the skeptical parent is 
plain: to save the child by any possible 
means, to preach the uselessness of the 
sacrifice in season and out of season, and 
to endure patiently whatever penalty the 
113 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

law may inflict for evasion. But the 
duty of the authorities is far less clear. 
So long as they remain firmly persuaded 
that the universal sacrifice of the first 
born is indispensable, they are bound to 
persecute those who seek to undermine 
this belief. But they will, if they are 
conscientious, very carefully examine 
the arguments of opponents, and be will 
ing in advance to admit that these argu 
ments may be sound. They will care 
fully search their own hearts to see 
whether hatred of children or pleasure 
in cruelty has anything to do with their 
belief. They will remember that in the 
past history of Khai-muh there are in 
numerable instances of beliefs, now 
known to be false, on account of which 
those who disagreed with the prevalent 
view were put to death. Finally they 
will reflect that, though errors which are 
traditional are often wide-spread, new 
114 






INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

beliefs seldom win acceptance unless 
they are nearer to the truth than what 
they replace ; and they will conclude that 
a new belief is probably either an ad 
vance, or so unlikely to become common 
as to be innocuous. All these considera 
tions will make them hesitate before they 
resort to punishment. 



n 



The study of past times and uncivil 
ized races makes it clear beyond ques 
tion that the customary beliefs of tribes 
or nations are almost invariably false. 
It is difficult to divest ourselves com 
pletely of the customary beliefs of our 
own age and nation, but it is not very 
difficult to achieve a certain degree of 
doubt in regard to them. The Inquisitor 
who burnt men at the stake was acting 
with true humanity if all his beliefs were 
correct ; but if they were in error at any 
115 



point, he was inflicting a wholly unneces 
sary cruelty. A good working maxim 
in such matters is this: Do not trust 
customary beliefs so far as to perform 
actions which must be disastrous unless 
the beliefs in question are wholly true. 
The world would be utterly bad, in the 
opinion of the average Englishman, un 
less he could say "Britannia rules the 
waves"; in the opinion of the average 
German, unless he could say "Deutsch- 
land iiber alles." For the sake of these 
beliefs, they are willing to destroy Eu 
ropean civilization. If the beliefs should 
happen to be false, their action is re 
grettable. 

One fact which emerges from these 
considerations is that no obstacle should 
be placed in the way of thought and its 
expression, nor yet in the way of state 
ments of fact. This was formerly com 
mon ground among liberal thinkers, 
116 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

though it was never quite realized in the 
practice of civilized countries. But it 
has recently become, throughout Eu 
rope, a dangerous paradox, on account 
of which men suffer imprisonment or 
starvation. For this reason it has again 
become worth stating. The grounds for 
it are so evident that I should be ashamed 
to repeat them if they were not univer 
sally ignored. But in the actual world 
it is very necessary to repeat them. 

To attain complete truth is not given 
to mortals, but to advance toward it by 
successive steps is not impossible. On 
any matter of general interest, there is 
usually, in any given community at any 
given time, a received opinion, which is 
accepted as a matter of course by all 
who give no special thought to the mat 
ter. Any questioning of the received 
opinion rouses hostility, for a number 
of reasons. 

117 



The most important of these is the 
instinct of conventionality, which exists 
in all gregarious animals and often leads 
them to put to death any markedly pecul 
iar member of the herd. 

The next most important is the feel 
ing of insecurity aroused by doubt as 
to the beliefs by which we are in the habit 
of regulating our lives. Whoever has 
tried to explain the philosophy of Berke 
ley to a plain man will have seen in its 
unadulterated form the anger aroused 
by this feeling. What the plain man de 
rives from Berkeley s philosophy at a 
first hearing is an uncomfortable sus 
picion that nothing is solid, so that it is 
rash to sit on a chair or to expect the 
floor to sustain us. Because this sus 
picion is uncomfortable, it is irritating, 
except to those who regard the whole 
argument as merely nonsense. And in 
a more or less analogous way any ques- 
118 



tioniiig of what has been taken for 
granted destroys the feeling of stand 
ing on solid ground, and produces a con 
dition of bewildered fear. 

A third reason which makes men dis 
like novel opinions is that vested inter 
ests are bound up with old beliefs. The 
long fight of the church against science, 
from Giordano Bruno to Darwin, is at 
tributable to this motive among others. 
The horror of socialism which existed in 
the remote past was entirely attribut 
able to this cause. But it would be a 
mistake to assume, as is done by those 
who seek economic motives everywhere, 
that vested interests are the principal 
source of anger against novelties in 
thought, If this were the case, intellect 
ual progress would be much more rapid 
than it is. 

The instinct of conventionality, hor 
ror of uncertainty, and vested interests, 
119 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

all militate against the acceptance of a 
new idea. And it is even harder to 
think of a new idea than to get it ac 
cepted; most people might spend a life 
time in reflection without ever making 
a genuinely original discovery. 

In view of all these obstacles, it is not 
likely that any society at any time will 
suffer from a plethora of heretical opin 
ions. Least of all is this likely in a mod 
ern civilized society, where the condi 
tions of life are in constant rapid change, 
and demand, for successful adaptation, 
an equally rapid change in intellectual 
outlook. There should be an attempt, 
therefore, to encourage, rather than dis 
courage, the expression of new beliefs 
and the dissemination of knowledge 
tending to support them. But the very 
opposite is, in fact, the case. From 
childhood upward, everything is done to 
make the minds of men and women con- 
120 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

ventional and sterile. And if, by mis 
adventure, some spark of imagination 
remains, its unfortunate possessor is 
considered unsound and dangerous, 
worthy only of contempt in time of peace 
and of prison or a traitor s death in time 
of war. Yet such men are known to 
have been in the past the chief benefac 
tors of mankind, and are the very men 
who receive most honor as soon as they 
are safely dead. 

The whole realm of thought and opin 
ion is utterly unsuited to public con 
trol ; it ought to be as free, and as spon 
taneous as is possible to those who know 
what others have believed. The state 
is justified in insisting that children shall 
be educated, but it is not justified in 
forcing their education to proceed on a 
uniform plan and to be directed to the 
production of a dead level of glib uni 
formity. Education, and the life of the 
121 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

mind generally, is a matter in which in 
dividual initiative is the chief thing 
needed; the function of the state should 
begin and end with insistence on some 
kind of education, and, if possible, a kind 
which promotes mental individualism, 
not a kind which happens to conform to 
the prejudices of government officials. 

in 

Questions of practical morals raise 
more difficult problems than questions of 
mere opinion. The thugs honestly be 
lieve it their duty to commit murders, 
but the government does not acquiesce. 
The conscientious objectors honestly 
hold the opposite opinion, and again the 
government does not acquiesce. Kill 
ing is a state prerogative; it is equally 
criminal to do it unbidden and not to do 
it when bidden. The same applies to 
theft, unless it is on a large scale or by 
122 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

one who is already rich. Thugs and 
thieves are men who use force in their 
dealings with their neighbors, and we 
may lay it down broadly that the private 
use of force should be prohibited except 
in rare cases, however conscientious may 
be its motive. But this principle will 
not justify compelling men to use force 
at the bidding of the state, when they do 
not believe it justified by the occasion. 
The punishment of conscientious object 
ors seems clearly a violation of individ 
ual liberty within its legitimate sphere. 
It is generally assumed without ques 
tion that the state has a right to pun 
ish certain kinds of sexual irregularity. 
No one doubts that the Mormons sin 
cerely believed polygamy to be a desir 
able practice, yet the United States re 
quired them to abandon its legal recog 
nition, and probably any other Christian 
country would have done likewise. 
123 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

Nevertheless, I do not think this pro 
hibition was wise. Polygamy is legally 
permitted in many parts of the world, 
but is not much practised except by 
chiefs and potentates. If, as Europeans 
generally believe, it is an undesirable 
custom, it is probable that the Mormons 
would have soon abandoned it, except 
perhaps for a few men of exceptional 
position. If, on the other hand, it had 
proved a successful experiment, the 
world would have acquired a piece of 
knowledge which it is now unable to 
possess. I think in all such cases the 
law should only intervene when there is 
some injury inflicted without the con 
sent of the injured person. 

It is obvious that men and women 
would not tolerate having their wives or 
husbands selected by the state, whatever 
eugenists might have to say in favor of 
such a plan. In this it seems clear that 
124 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

ordinary public opinion is in the right, 
not because people choose wisely, but 
because any choice of their own is bet 
ter than a forced marriage. What ap 
plies to marriage ought also to apply to 
the choice of a trade or profession; al 
though some men have no marked pref 
erences, most men greatly prefer some 
occupations to others, and are far more 
likely to be useful citizens if they fol 
low their preferences than if they are 
thwarted by a public authority. 

The case of the man who has an in 
tense conviction that he ought to do a 
certain kind of work is peculiar, and per 
haps not very common ; but it is impor 
tant because it includes some very im 
portant individuals. Joan of Arc and 
Florence Nightingale defied convention 
in obedience to a feeling of this sort; 
reformers and agitators in unpopular 
causes, such as Mazzini, have belonged 
125 



to this class; so have many men of 
science. In cases of this kind the in 
dividual conviction deserves the great 
est respect, even if there seems no obvi 
ous justification for it. Obedience to the 
impulse is very unlikely to do much 
harm, and may well do great good. The 
practical difficulty is to distinguish such 
impulses from desires which produce 
similar manifestations. Many young 
people wish to be authors without hav 
ing an impulse to write any particular 
book, or wish to be painters without hav 
ing an impulse to create any particular 
picture. But a little experience will 
usually show the difference between a 
genuine and a spurious impulse; and 
there is less harm in indulging the spuri 
ous impulse for a time than in thwart 
ing the impulse which is genuine. 
Nevertheless, the plain man almost al 
ways has a tendency to thwart the genu- 
126 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

ine impulse, because it seems anarchic 
and unreasonable, and is seldom able to 
give a good account of itself in advance. 
What is markedly true of some notable 
personalities is true, in a lesser degree, 
of almost every individual who has much 
vigor or force of life ; there is an impulse 
towards activity of some kind, as a rule 
not very definite in youth, but growing 
gradually more sharply outlined under 
the influence of education and oppor 
tunity. The direct impulse toward a 
kind of activity for its own sake must be 
distinguished from the desire for the 
expected effects of the activity. A 
young man may desire the rewards of 
great achievement without having any 
spontaneous impulse toward the activi 
ties which lead to achievement. But 
those who actually achieve much, al 
though they may desire the rewards, 
have also something in their nature 
127 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

which inclines them to choose a certain 
kind of work as the road which they must 
travel if their ambition is to be satis 
fied. This artist s impulse, as it may be 
called, is a thing of infinite value to the 
individual, and often to the world; to 
respect it in oneself and in others makes 
up nine tenths of the good life. In most 
human beings it is rather frail, rather 
easily destroyed or disturbed; parents 
and teachers are too often hostile to it, 
and our economic system crushes out its 
last remnants in young men and young 
women. The result is that human be 
ings cease to be individual, or to retain 
the native pride that is their birthright ; 
they become machine-made, tame, con 
venient for the bureaucrat and the 
drill-sergeant, capable of being tabulated 
in statistics without anything being 
omitted. This is the fundamental evil 
resulting from lack of liberty; and it is 
128 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

an evil which is being continually inten 
sified as population grows more dense 
and the machinery of organization grows 
more efficient. 

The things that men desire are many 
and various: admiration, affection, 
power, security, ease, outlets for energy, 
are among the commonest of motives. 
But such abstractions do not touch what 
makes the difference between one man 
and another. Whenever I go to the zoo 
logical gardens, I am struck by the fact 
that all the movements of a stork 
have some common quality, differing 
from the movements of a parrot or an 
ostrich. It is impossible to put in words 
what the common quality is, and yet we 
feel that each thing an animal does is 
the sort of thing we might expect that 
animal to do. This indefinable quality 
constitutes the individuality of the ani 
mal, and gives rise to the pleasure we 
129 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

feel in watching the animal s actions. 
In a human being, provided he has not 
been crushed by an economic or govern 
mental machine, there is the same kind 
of individuality, a something distinctive 
without which no man or woman can 
achieve much of importance, or retain 
the full dignity which is native to human 
beings. It is this distinctive individual 
ity that is loved by the artist, whether 
painter or writer. The artist himself, 
and the man who is creative in no mat 
ter what direction, has more of it than 
the average man. Any society which 
crushes this quality, whether intention 
ally or by accident, must soon become ut 
terly lifeless and traditional, without 
hope of progress and without any pur 
pose in its being. To preserve and 
strengthen the impulse that makes in 
dividuality should be the foremost objec : 
of all political institutions. 
130 



IV 

We now arrive at certain general prin 
ciples in regard to individual liberty and 
public control. 

The greater part of human impulses 
may be divided into two classes, those 
which are possessive and those which are 
constructive or creative. Social institu 
tions are the garments or embodiments 
of impulses, and may be classified 
roughly according to the impulses which 
they embody. Property is the direct ex 
pression of possessiveness ; science and 
art are among the most direct expres 
sions of creativeness. Possessiveness is 
either defensive or aggressive; it seeks 
either to retain against a robber, or to 
acquire from a present holder. In either 
case an attitude of hostility toward 
others is of its essence. It would be 
a mistake to suppose that defensive 
131 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

possessiveness is always justifiable, 
while the aggressive kind is always 
blameworthy; where there is great in 
justice in the status quo, the exact op 
posite may be the case, and ordinarily 
neither is justifiable. 

State interference with the actions of 
individuals is necessitated by possessive- 
ness. Some goods can be acquired or 
retained by force, while others cannot. 
A wife can be acquired by force, as the 
Eomans acquired the Sabine women ; but 
a wife s affection cannot be acquired in 
this way. There is no record that the 
Eomans desired the affection of the Sa 
bine women ; and those in whom posses 
sive impulses are strong tend to care 
chiefly for the goods that force can se 
cure. All material goods belong to this 
class. Liberty in regard to such goods, 
if it were unrestricted, would make the 
strong rich and the weak poor. In a 
132 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

capitalistic society, owing to the partial 
restraints imposed by law, it makes cun 
ning men rich and honest men poor, be 
cause the force of the state is put at 
men s disposal, not according to any just 
or rational principle, but according to a 
set of traditional maxims of which the 
explanation is purely historical. 

In all that concerns possession and the 
use of force, unrestrained liberty in 
volves anarchy and injustice. Freedom 
to kill, freedom to rob, freedom to de 
fraud, no longer belong to individuals, 
though they still belong to great states, 
and are exercised by them in the name 
of patriotism. Neither individuals nor 
states ought to be free to exert force on 
their own initiative, except in such sud 
den emergencies as will subsequently be 
admitted in justification by a court of 
law. The reason for this is that the 
exertion of force by one individual 
133 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

against another is always an evil on both 
sides, and can only be tolerated when it is 
compensated by some overwhelming re 
sultant good. In order to minimize the 
amount of force actually exerted in the 
world, it is necessary that there should 
be a public authority, a repository of 
practically irresistible force, whose func 
tion should be primarily to repress the 
private use of force. A use of force is 
private when it is exerted by one of the 
interested parties, or by his friends or 
accomplices, not by a public neutral 
authority according to some rule which 
is intended to be in the public interest. 
The regime of private property under 
which we live does much too little to 
restrain the private use of force. When 
a man owns a piece of land, for example, 
he may use force against trespassers, 
though they must not use force against 
him. It is clear that some restriction 
134 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

of the liberty of trespass is necessary for 
the cultivation of the land. But if such 
powers are to be given to an individual, 
the state ought to satisfy itself that he 
occupies no more land than he is war 
ranted in occupying in the public inter 
est, and that the share of the produce of 
the land that comes to him is no more 
than a just reward for his labors. Prob 
ably the only way in which such ends 
can be achieved is by state ownership of 
land. The possessors of land and capi 
tal are able at present, by economic pres 
sure, to use force against those who have 
no possessions. This force is sanctioned 
by law, w r hile force exercised by the poor 
against the rich is illegal. Such a state 
of things is unjust, and does not dimin 
ish the use of private force as much as 
it might be diminished. 

The whole realm of the possessive im 
pulses, and of the use of force to which 
135 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

they give rise, stands in need of control 
by a public neutral authority, in the in 
terests of liberty no less than of justice. 
Within a nation, this public authority 
will naturally be the state; in relations 
between nations, if the present anarchy 
is to cease, it will have to be some in 
ternational parliament. 

But the motive underlying the public 
control of men s possessive impulses 
should always be the increase of liberty, 
both by the prevention of private tyr 
anny and by the liberation of creative 
impulses. If public control is not to do 
more harm than good, it must be so ex 
ercised as to leave the utmost freedom 
of private initiative in all those ways 
that do not involve the private use of 
force. In this respect all governments 
have always failed egregiously, and 
there is no evidence that they are im 
proving. 

136 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

The creative impulses, unlike those 
that are possessive, are directed to ends 
in which one man s gain is not another 
man s loss. The man who makes a 
scientific discovery or writes a poem is 
enriching others at the same time as 
himself. Any increase in knowledge or 
good-will is a gain to all who are affected 
by it, not only to the actual possessor. 
Those who feel the joy of life are a hap 
piness to others as well as to themselves. 
Force cannot create such things, though 
it can destroy them ; no principle of dis 
tributive justice applies to them, since 
the gain of each is the gain of all. For 
these reasons, the creative part of a 
man s activity ought to be as free as 
possible from all public control, in or 
der that it may remain spontaneous and 
full of vigor. The only function of the 
state in regard to this part of the in 
dividual life should be to do everything 
137 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

possible toward providing outlets and 
opportunities. 

In every life a part is governed by 
the community, and a part by private 
initiative. The part governed by pri 
vate initiative is greatest in the most im 
portant individuals, such as men of gen 
ius and creative thinkers. This part 
ought only to be restricted when it is 
predatory; otherwise, everything ought 
to be done to make it as great and as 
vigorous as possible. The object of 
education ought not to be to make all 
men think alike, but to make each think 
in the way which is the fullest expression 
of his own personality. In the choice 
of a means of livelihood all young men 
and young women ought, as far as possi 
ble, to be able to choose what is attrac 
tive to them; if no money-making occu 
pation is attractive, they ought to be free 
to do little work for little pay, and spend 
138 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

their leisure as they choose. Any kind 
of censure on freedom of thought or on 
the dissemination of knowledge is, of 
course, to be condemned utterly. 

Huge organizations, both political and 
economic, are one of the distinguishing 
characteristics of the modern world. 
These organizations have immense 
power, and often use their power to dis 
courage originality in thought and ac 
tion. They ought, on the contrary, to 
give the freest scope that is possible 
without producing anarchy or violent 
conflict. They ought not to take cogni 
zance of any part of a man s life except 
what is concerned with the legitimate 
objects of public control, namely, posses 
sions and the use of force. And they 
ought, by devolution, to leave as large a 
share of control as possible in the hands 
of individuals and small groups. If 
this is not done, the men at the head of 
139 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

these vast organizations will infallibly 
become tyrannous through the habit of 
excessive power, and will in time inter 
fere in ways that crush out individual 
initiative. 

The problem which faces the modern 
world is the combination of individual 
initiative with the increase in the scope 
and size of organizations. Unless it is 
solved, individuals will grow less and less 
full of life and vigor, and more and more 
passively submissive to conditions im 
posed upon them. A society composed 
of such individuals cannot be progres 
sive or add much to the world s stock 
of mental and spiritual possessions. 
Only personal liberty and the encourage 
ment of initiative can secure these 
things. Those who resist authority 
when it encroaches upon the legitimate 
sphere of the individual are performing 
a service to society, however little so- 
140 



INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY 

ciety may value it. In regard to the 
past, this is universally acknowledged; 
but it is no less true in regard to the 
present and the future. 



141 



NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 
AND INTERNATIONALISM 



NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE AND INTER 
NATIONALISM 

IN the relations between states, as in 
the relations of groups within a 
single state, what is to be desired is in 
dependence for each as regards internal 
affairs, and law rather than private 
force as regards external affairs. But 
as regards groups within a state, it is 
internal independence that must be em 
phasized, since that is what is lacking; 
subjection to law has been secured, on 
the whole, since the end of the Middle 
Ages. In the relations between states, 
on the contrary, it is law and a central 
government that are lacking, since in 
dependence exists for external as for 
145 



NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

internal affairs. The stage we have 
reached in the affairs of Europe corre 
sponds to the stage reached in our in 
ternal affairs during the Wars of the 
Roses, when turbulent barons frustrated 
the attempt to make them keep the 
king s peace. Thus, although the goal 
is the same in the two cases, the steps to 
be taken in order to achieve it are quite 
different. 

There can be no good international 
system until the boundaries of states co 
incide as nearly as possible with the 
boundaries of nations. 

But it is not easy to say what we 
mean by a nation. Are the Irish a na 
tion? Home Rulers say yes, Unionists 
say no. Are the Ulstermen a nation? 
Unionists say yes, Home Rulers say no. 
In all such cases it is a party question 
whether we are to call a group a nation 
or not. A German will tell you that the 
146 



Russian Poles are a nation, but as for 
the Prussian Poles, they, of course, are 
part of Prussia. Professors can always 
be hired to prove, by arguments of race 
or language or history, that a group 
about which there is a dispute is, or is 
not, a nation, as may be desired by those 
whom the professors serve. If we are 
to avoid all these controversies, we must 
first of all endeavor to find some defini 
tion of a nation. 

A nation is not to be defined by affini 
ties of language or a common historical 
origin, though these things often help to 
produce a nation. Switzerland is a na 
tion, despite diversities of race, re 
ligion, and language. England and 
Scotland now form one nation, though 
they did not do so at the time of the 
Civil War. This is shown by Crom 
well s saying, in the height of the con 
flict, that he would rather be subject to 
147 



NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

the domain of the royalists than to that 
of the Scotch. Great Britain was one 
state before it was one nation; on the 
other hand, Germany was one nation be 
fore it was one state. 

What constitutes a nation is a senti 
ment and an instinct, a sentiment of 
similarity and an instinct of belonging 
to the same group or herd. The instinct 
is an extension of the instinct which con 
stitutes a flock of sheep, or any other 
group of gregarious animals. The sen 
timent which goes with this is like a 
milder and more extended form of fam 
ily feeling. When we return to England 
after being on the Continent, we feel 
something friendly in the familiar ways, 
and it is easy to believe that English 
men on the whole are virtuous, while 
many foreigners are full of designing 
wickedness. 

Such feelings make it easy to organize 
148 



NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

a nation into a state. It is not difficult, 
as a rule, to acquiesce in the orders of 
a national government. We feel that it 
is our government, and that its decrees 
are more or less the same as those which 
we should have given if we ourselves 
had been the governors. There is an in 
stinctive and usually unconscious sense 
of a common purpose animating the 
members of a nation. This becomes es 
pecially vivid when there is war or a 
danger of war. Any one who, at such a 
time, stands out against the orders of 
his government feels an inner conflict 
quite different from any that he would 
feel in standing out against the orders of 
a foreign government in whose power 
he might happen to find himself. If he 
stands out, he does so with some more 
or less conscious hope that his govern 
ment may in time come to think as he 
does; whereas, in standing out against 
149 



NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

a foreign government, no such hope is 
necessary. This group instinct, how 
ever it may have arisen, is what con 
stitutes a nation, and what makes it 
important that the boundaries of na 
tions should also be the boundaries of 
states. 

National sentiment is a fact, and 
should be taken account of by institu 
tions. When it is ignored, it is intensi 
fied and becomes a source of strife. It 
can only be rendered harmless by being 
given free play, so long as it is not preda 
tory. But it is not, in itself, a good or 
admirable feeling. There is nothing ra 
tional and nothing desirable in a limita 
tion of sympathy which confines it to a 
fragment of the human race. Diversi 
ties of manners and customs and tradi 
tions are, on the whole, a good thing, 
since they enable different nations to 
produce different types of excellence. 
150 



NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

But in national feeling there is always 
latent or explicit an element of hostility 
to foreigners. National feeling, as we 
know it, could not exist in a nation which 
was wholly free from external pressure 
of a hostile kind. 

And group feeling produces a limited 
and often harmful kind of morality. 
Men come to identify the good with what 
serves the interests of their own group, 
and the bad with what works against 
those interests, even if it should hap 
pen to be in the interests of mankind as 
a whole. This group morality is very 
much in evidence during war, and is 
taken for granted in men s ordinary 
thought. Although almost all English 
men consider the defeat of Germany de 
sirable for the good of the world, yet 
nevertheless most of them honor a Ger 
man for fighting for his country, because 
it has not occurred to them that his ac- 
151 



NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

tions ought to be guided by a morality 
higher than that of the group. 

A man does right, as a rule, to have 
his thoughts more occupied with the in 
terests of his own nation than with those 
of others, because his actions are more 
likely to affect his own nation. But in 
time of war, and in all matters which 
are of equal concern to other nations and 
to his own, a man ought to take account 
of the universal welfare, and not allow 
his survey to be limited by the interest, 
or supposed interest, of his own group 
or nation. 

So long as national feeling exists, it 
is very important that each nation should 
be self-governing as regards its internal 
affairs. Government can only be car 
ried on by force and tyranny if its sub 
jects view it with hostile eyes, and they 
will so view it if they feel that it belongs 
to an alien nation. This principle meets 
152 



NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

with difficulties in cases where men of 
different nations live side by side in the 
same area, as happens in some parts of 
the Balkans. There are also difficulties 
in regard to places which, for some geo 
graphical reason, are of great interna 
tional importance, such as the Suez Canal 
and the Panama Canal. In such cases 
the purely local desires of the inhabi 
tants may have to give way before larger 
interests. But in general, at any rate as 
applied to civilized communities, the 
principle that the boundaries of nations 
ought to coincide with the boundaries of 
states has very few exceptions. 

This principle, however, does not de 
cide how the relations between states are 
to be regulated, or how a conflict of in 
terests between rival states is to be de 
cided. At present, every great state 
claims absolute sovereignty, not only in 
regard to its internal affairs but also in 
153 



NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

regard to its external actions. This 
claim to absolute sovereignty leads it 
into conflict with similar claims on the 
part of other great states. Such con 
flicts at present can only be decided by 
war or diplomacy, and diplomacy is in 
essence nothing but the threat of war. 
There is no more justification for the 
claim to absolute sovereignty on the part 
of a state than there would be for a sim 
ilar claim on the part of an individual. 
The claim to absolute sovereignty is, in 
effect, a claim that all external affairs 
are to be regulated purely by force, and 
that when two nations or groups of na 
tions are interested in a question, the 
decision shall depend solely upon which 
of them is, or is believed to be, the 
stronger. This is nothing but primitive 
anarchy, "the war of all against all," 
which Hobbes asserted to be the original 
state of mankind. 

154 



NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

There cannot be secure peace in the 
world, or any decision of international 
questions according to international law, 
until states are willing to part with their 
absolute sovereignty as regards their ex 
ternal relations, and to leave the deci 
sion in such matters to some interna 
tional instrument of government. 1 An 
international government will have to be 
legislative as well as judicial. It is not 
enough that there should be a Hague 
tribunal, deciding matters according to 
some already existing system of interna 
tional law ; it is necessary also that there 
should be a body capable of enacting in 
ternational law, and this body will have 
to have the power of transferring terri 
tory from one state to another, when it 
is persuaded that adequate grounds ex- 

i For detailed scheme of international government 
see "International Government," by L. Woolf. Allen 
& Unwin. 

155 



NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

ist for such a transference. Friends of 
peace will make a mistake if they unduly 
glorify the status quo. Some nations 
grow, while others dwindle; the popu 
lation of an area may change its char 
acter by emigration and immigration. 
There is no good reason why states 
should resent changes in their boun 
daries under such conditions, and if no 
international authority has power to 
make changes of this kind, the tempta 
tions to war will sometimes become irre 
sistible. 

The international authority ought to 
possess an army and navy, and these 
ought to be the only army and navy in 
existence. The only legitimate use of 
force is to diminish the total amount of 
force exercised in the world. So long 
as men are free to indulge their preda 
tory instincts, some men or groups of 
men will take advantage of this freedom 
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NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

for oppression and robbery. Just as the 
police are necessary to prevent the use 
of force by private citizens, so an inter 
national police will be necessary to pre 
vent the lawless use of force by separate 
states. 

But I think it is reasonable to hope 
that if ever an international govern 
ment, possessed of the only army and 
navy in the world, came into existence, 
the need of force to exact obedience to 
its decisions would be very temporary. 
In a short time the benefits resulting 
from the substitution of law for anarchy 
would become so obvious that the inter 
national government would acquire an 
unquestioned authority, and no state 
would dream of rebelling against its de 
cisions. As soon as this stage had been 
reached, the international army and 
navy would become unnecessary. 

We have still a very long road to 
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NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

travel before we arrive at the establish 
ment of an international authority, but 
it is not very difficult to foresee the 
steps by which this result will be gradu 
ally reached. There is likely to be a 
continual increase in the practice of sub 
mitting disputes to arbitration, and in 
the realization that the supposed con 
flicts of interest between different states 
are mainly illusory. Even where there 
is a real conflict of interest, it must in 
time become obvious that neither of the 
states concerned would suffer as much 
by giving way as by fighting. With the 
progress of inventions, war, when it does 
occur, is bound to become increasingly 
destructive. The civilized races of the 
world are faced with the alternative of 
cooperation or mutual destruction. The 
present war is making this alternative 
daily more evident. And it is difficult to 
believe that, when the enmities which it 
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NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

has generated have had time to cool, civ 
ilized men will deliberately choose to de 
stroy civilization, rather than acquiesce 
in the abolition of war. 

The matters in which the interests of 
nations are supposed to clash are mainly 
three : tariffs, which are a delusion ; the 
exploitation of inferior races, which is 
a crime; pride of power and dominion, 
which is a schoolboy folly. 

The economic argument against tariffs 
is familiar, and I shall not repeat it. 
The only reason why it fails to carry 
conviction is the enmity between nations. 
Nobody proposes to set up a tariff be 
tween England and Scotland, or between 
Lancashire and Yorkshire. Yet the ar 
guments by which tariffs between na 
tions are supported might be used just 
as well to defend tariffs between coun 
ties. Universal free trade would in 
dubitably be of economic benefit to man- 
159 



NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

kind, and would be adopted to-morrow 
if it were not for the hatred and suspi 
cion which nations feel one toward an 
other. From the point of view of pre 
serving the peace of the world, free 
trade between the different civilized 
states is not so important as the open 
door in their dependencies. The desire 
for exclusive markets is one of the most 
potent causes of war. 

Exploiting what are called " inferior 
races" has become one of the main ob 
jects of European statecraft. It is not 
only, or primarily, trade that is desired, 
but opportunities for investment ; finance 
is more concerned in the matter than in 
dustry. Eival diplomatists are very 
often the servants, conscious or uncon 
scious, of rival groups of financiers. 
The financiers, though themselves of no 
particular nation, understand the art of 
appealing to national prejudice, and of 
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NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

inducing the taxpayer to incur expendi 
ture of which they reap the benefit. The 
evils which they produce at home, and 
the devastation that they spread among 
the races whom they exploit, are part 
of the price which the world has to pay 
for its acquiescence in the capitalist 
regime. 

But neither tariffs nor financiers 
would be able to cause serious trouble, 
if it were not for the sentiment of na 
tional pride. National pride might be 
on the whole beneficent, if it took the di 
rection of emulation in the things that 
are important to civilization. If we 
prided ourselves upon our poets, our men 
of science, or the justice and humanity 
of our social system, we might find in 
national pride a stimulus to useful en 
deavors. But such matters play a very 
small part. National pride, as it exists 
now, is almost exclusively concerned with 
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power and dominion, with the extent of 
territory that a nation owns, and with 
its capacity for enforcing its will against 
the opposition of other nations. In this 
it is reinforced by group morality. To 
nine citizens out of ten it seems self- 
evident, whenever the will of their own 
nation clashes with that of another, that 
their own nation must be in the right. 
Even if it were not in the right on the 
particular issue, yet it stands in general 
for so much nobler ideals than those 
represented by the other nation to the 
dispute, that any increase in its power 
is bound to be for the good of mankind. 
Since all nations equally believe this of 
themselves, all are equally ready to in 
sist upon the victory of their own side in 
any dispute in which they believe that 
they have a good hope of victory. While 
this temper persists, the hope of inter 
national cooperation must remain dim. 
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NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

If men could divest themselves of the 
sentiment of rivalry and hostility be 
tween different nations, they would per 
ceive that the matters in which the in 
terests of different nations coincide im 
measurably outweigh those in which they 
clash; they would perceive, to begin 
with, that trade is not to be compared 
to warfare ; that the man who sells you 
goods is not doing you an injury. No 
one considers that the butcher and the 
baker are his enemies because they drain 
him of money. Yet as soon as goods 
come from a foreign country, we are 
asked to believe that we suffer a terrible 
injury in purchasing them. No one re 
members that it is by means of goods 
exported that we purchase them. But 
in the country to which we export, it is 
the goods we send which are thought 
dangerous, and the goods we buy are 
forgotten. The whole conception of 
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NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

trade, which has been forced upon us 
by manufacturers who dreaded foreign 
competition, by trusts which desired to 
secure monopolies, and by economists 
poisoned by the virus of nationalism, is 
totally and absolutely false. Trade re 
sults simply from division of labor. A 
man cannot himself make all the goods 
of which he has need, and therefore he 
must exchange his produce with that of 
other people. What applies to the in 
dividual, applies in exactly the same way 
to the nation. There is no reason to 
desire that a nation should itself pro- 
duce all the goods of which it has need ; 
it is better that it should specialize upon 
those goods which it can produce to most 
advantage, and should exchange its sur 
plus with the surplus of other goods pro 
duced by other countries. There is no 
use in sending goods out of the country 
except in order to get other goods in 
164 



NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

return. A butcher who is always will 
ing to part with his meat but not willing 
to take bread from the baker, or boots 
from the bootmaker, or clothes from the 
tailor, would soon find himself in a sorry 
plight. Yet he would be no more foolish 
than the protectionist who desires that 
we should send goods abroad without re 
ceiving payment in the shape of goods 
imported from abroad. 

The wage system has made people 
believe that what a man needs is work. 
This, of course, is absurd. What he 
needs is the goods produced by work, 
and the less work involved in making a 
given amount of goods, the better. But 
owing to our economic system, every 
economy in methods of production en 
ables employers to dismiss some of their 
employees, and to cause destitution, 
where a better system would produce 
only an increase of wages or a diminu- 
165 



NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

tion in the hours of work without any 
corresponding diminution of wages. 

Our economic system is topsyturvy. 
It makes the interest of the individual 
conflict with the interest of the commu 
nity in a thousand ways in which no such 
conflict ought to exist. Under a better 
system the benefits of free trade and 
the evils of tariffs would be obvious to 
all. 

Apart from trade, the interests of na 
tions coincide in all that makes what we 
call civilization. Inventions and discov 
eries bring benefit to all. The progress 
of science is a matter of equal concern 
to the whole civilized world. Whether 
a man of science is an Englishman, a 
Frenchman, or a German is a matter 
of no real importance. His discoveries 
are open to all, and nothing but intel 
ligence is required in order to profit by 
them. The whole world of art and 
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NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

literature and learning is international; 
what is done in one country is not done 
for that country, but for mankind. If 
we ask ourselves what are the things 
that raise mankind above the brutes, 
what are the things that make us think 
the human race more valuable than any 
species of animals, we shall find that 
none of them are things in which any 
one nation can have exclusive property, 
but all are things in which the whole 
world can share. Those who have any 
care for these things, those who wish to 
see mankind fruitful in the work which 
men alone can do, will take little account 
of national boundaries, and have little 
care to what state a man happens to owe 
allegiance. 

The importance of international co 
operation outside the sphere of politics 
has been brought home to me by my own 
experience. Until lately I was engaged 
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NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

in teaching a new science which few 
men in the world were able to teach. My 
own work in this science was based 
chiefly upon the work of a German and 
an Italian. My pupils came from all 
over the civilized world: France, Ger 
many, Austria, Russia, Greece, Japan, 
China, India, and America. None of us 
was conscious of any sense of national 
divisions. We felt ourselves an outpost 
of civilization, building a new road into 
the virgin forest of the unknown. All 
cooperated in the common task, and in 
the interest of such a work the political 
enmities of nations seemed trivial, tem 
porary, and futile. 

But it is not only in the somewhat rare 
fied atmosphere of abstruse science that 
international cooperation is vital to the 
progress of civilization. All our eco 
nomic problems, all the questions of se 
curing the rights of labor, all the hopes of 
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NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

freedom at home and humanity abroad, 
rest upon the creation of international 
good-will. 

So long as hatred, suspicion, and fear 
dominate the feelings of men toward 
each other, so long we cannot hope to 
escape from the tyranny of violence and 
brute force. Men must learn to be con 
scious of the common interests of man 
kind in which all are at one, rather than 
of those supposed interests in which the 
nations are divided. It is not necessary, 
or even desirable, to obliterate the dif 
ferences of manners and custom and tra 
dition between different nations. These 
differences enable each nation to make 
its own distinctive contribution to the 
sum total of the world s civilization. 

What is to be desired is not cosmopoli 
tanism, not the absence of all national 
characteristics that one associates with 
couriers, wagon-lit attendants, and oth- 
169 



NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

ers, who have had everything distinctive 
obliterated by multiple and trivial con 
tacts with men of every civilized coun 
try. Such cosmopolitanism is the result 
of loss, not gain. The international 
spirit which we should wish to see pro 
duced will be something added to love 
of country, not something taken away. 
Just as patriotism does not prevent a 
man from feeling family affection, so 
the international spirit ought not to pre 
vent a man from feeling affection for 
his own country. But it will somewhat 
alter the character of that affection. 
The things which he will desire for his 
own country will no longer be things 
which can only be acquired at the ex 
pense of others, but rather those things 
in which the excellence of any one coun 
try is to the advantage of all the world. 
He will wish his own country to be great 
in the arts of peace, to be eminent in 
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NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

thought and science, to be magnanimous 
and just and generous. He will wish it 
to help mankind on the way toward that 
better world of liberty and international 
concord which must be realized if any 
happiness is to be left to man. He will 
not desire for his country the passing 
triumphs of a narrow possessiveness, 
but rather the enduring triumph of hav 
ing helped to embody in human affairs 
something of that spirit of brotherhood 
which Christ taught and which the Chris 
tian churches have forgotten. He will 
see that this spirit embodies not only 
the highest morality, but also the truest 
wisdom, and the only road by which the 
nations, torn and bleeding with the 
wounds which scientific madness has in 
flicted, can emerge into a life where 
growth is possible and joy is not ban 
ished at the frenzied call of unreal and 
fictitious duties. Deeds inspired by hate 
171 



NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 

are not duties, whatever pain and self- 
sacrifice they may involve. Life and 
hope for the world are to be found only 
in the deeds of love. 



172 



INUINU Lisi A yG 3 1948 









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