by Graham Wallas
“Graham Wallas touched the cause of the trouble when he pointed out that political science today discusses institutions and ignores the nature of the men who make and live under them. I have heard professors reply that it wasn’t their business to discuss human nature but to record and interpret economic and political facts. Yet if you probe those ‘interpretations’ there is no escaping the conclusion that they rest upon some notion of what man is like. ‘The student of politics,’ writes Mr. Wallas, ‘must, consciously or unconsciously, form a conception of human nature, and the less conscious he is of his conception the more likely he is to be dominated by it.’ For politics is an interest of men — a tool which they fabricate and use — and no comment has much value if it tries to get along without mankind. You might as well try to describe food by ignoring the digestion.
“Mr. Wallas has called a halt. I think we may say that his is the distinction of having turned the study of politics back to the humane tradition of Plato and Machiavelli — of having made man the center of political investigation. The very title of his book — Human Nature in Politics — is significant. Now in making that statement, I am aware that it is a sweeping one, and I do not mean to imply that Mr. Wallas is the only modem man who has tried to think about politics psychologically. Here in America alone we have two splendid critics, a man and a woman, whose thought flows from an interpretation of human character. Thorstein Veblen’s brilliant descriptions penetrate deeply into our mental life, and Jane Addams has given new hope to many of us by her capacity for making ideals the goal of natural desire.”
To this statement by one of the editors of this volume (in A Preface to Politics) it is necessary only to add a few biographical facts. Graham Wallas was born at Sunderland, England, in 1858, and educated at Oxford. At first a schoolmaster, he joined the Fabian Society, was one of the authors of Fabian Essays, and became a close friend of Bernard Shaw. Indeed, for several years he, Shaw, Sidney Olivier, and Sidney Webb were inseparable — “the bravoes of advanced economics” in England. His first important book was a life of Francis Place, the English reformer, published in 1897, two years after he became a lecturer in the London School of Economics; it offers a lucid exposition of the way in which British politics were “wire-pulled” from behind the scenes, early in the nineteenth century, by a gifted tailor. In 1908 he published Human Nature in Politics and in 1914 his most famous work, The Great Society. These were followed by Our Social Heritage (1921) and The Art of Thought (1926). All his books showed marked originality, great insight into modem social and political forces, and unusual literary charm. He was for some years (1914—1923) professor of political science in London University, and was well known in the United States as teacher and lecturer, appearing at Harvard, giving the Lowell Lectures in Boston in 1914, and being Dodge Lecturer at Yale in 1919. As a public speaker he had marked fluency and force, for his Fabian days had given him good training. He died in 1932.
* * *
Aristotle, writing under the conditions of the Ancient World, laid it down that a community whose population extended to a hundred thousand would no more be a state than would one whose population was confined to ten. He based his argument on measurable facts as to the human senses and the human memory. The territory of a state must be “visible as a whole” by one man’s eye, and the assembly attended by all the full citizens must be able to hear one voice — which must be that of an actual man and not of the legendary Stentor. The governing officials must be able to remember the faces and characters of all their fellow citizens. He did pot ignore the fact that nearly all the world’s surface as he knew it was occupied by states enormously larger than his rule allowed. But he denied that the great barbarian monarchies were in the truest sense “states” at all.
We ourselves are apt to forget that the facts on which Aristotle relied were both real and important. The history of the Greek and mediaeval city-states shows how effective a stimulus may be given to some of the highest activities and emotions of mankind when the whole environment of each citizen comes within the first-hand range of his senses and memory. It is now only here and there, in villages outside the main stream of civilization, that men know the faces of their neighbors, and see daily as part of one whole the fields and cottages in which they work and rest. Yet, even now, when a village is absorbed by a sprawling suburb or overwhelmed by the influx of a new industrial population, some of the older inhabitants feel that they are losing touch with the deeper realities of life.
A year ago I stood with a hard-walking and hard-thinking old Yorkshire schoolmaster on the high moorland edge of Airedale. Opposite to us was the country-house where Charlotte Brontë was governess, and below us ran the railway, linking a string of manufacturing villages which already were beginning to stretch out toward each other, and threatened soon to extend through the valley an unbroken succession of tall chimneys and slate roofs. He told me how, within his memory, the old affection for place and home had disappeared from the district. I asked whether he thought that a new affection was possible; whether, now that men lived in the larger world of knowledge and inference, rather than in the narrower world of sight and hearing, a patriotism of books and maps might not appear which should be a better guide to life than the patriotism of the village street.
This he strongly denied; as the older feeling went, nothing, he said, had taken its place, or would take its place, but a naked and restless individualism, always seeking for personal satisfaction, and always missing it. And then, almost in the words of Morris and Ruskin, he began to urge that we should pay a cheap price if we could regain the true riches of life by forgetting steam and electricity, and returning to the agriculture of the mediaeval village and the handicrafts of the mediaeval town.
He knew and I knew that his plea was hopeless. Even under the old conditions the Greek and Italian and Flemish city-states perished, because they were too small to protect themselves against larger though less closely organized communities; and industrial progress is an invader even more irresistible than the armies of Macedon or Spain. For a constantly increasing proportion of the inhabitants of modern England there is now no place where in the old sense they “live.” Nearly the whole of the class engaged in the direction of English industry, and a rapidly increasing proportion of the manual workers, pass daily, in tram or train, between sleeping-place and working-place, a hundred times more sights than their eyes can take in or their memory retain. They are, to use Mr. Wells’s phrase, “delocalized.”
But now that we can no longer take the range of our senses as a basis for calculating the possible area of the civilized state, there might seem to be no facts at all which can be used for such a calculation. How can we fix the limits of effective intercommunication by steam or electricity, or the area which can be covered by such political expedients as representation and federalism? … If once we assume that a state may be larger than the field of vision of a single man, then the merely mechanical difficulty of bringing the whole earth under a government as effective as that of the United States or the British Empire has already been overcome. If such a government is impossible, its impossibility must be due to the limits not of our senses and muscles but of our powers of imagination and sympathy.
I have already pointed out that the modern state must exist for the thoughts and feelings of its citizens, not as a fact of direct observation but as an entity of the mind, a symbol, a personification or an abstraction. The possible area of the state will depend, therefore, mainly on the facts which limit our creation and use of such entities. Fifty years ago the statesmen who were reconstructing Europe on the basis of nationality thought that they had found the relevant facts in the causes which limit the physical and mental homogeneity of nations. A state, they thought, if it is to be effectively governed, must be a homogeneous “nation,” because no citizen can imagine his state or make it the object of his political affection unless he believes in the existence of a national type to which the individual inhabitants of the state are assimilated; and he cannot continue to believe in the existence of such a type unless in fact his fellow citizens are like each other and like himself in certain important respects. Bismarck deliberately limited the area of his intended German Empire by a quantitative calculation as to the possibility of assimilating other Germans to the Prussian type. He always opposed the inclusion of Austria, and for a long time the inclusion of Bavaria, on the ground that while the Prussian type was strong enough- to assimilate the Saxons and Hanoverians to itself, it would fail to assimilate Austrians and Bavarians. He said, for instance, in 1866: “We cannot use these Ultramontanes, and we must not swallow more than we can digest.” Mazzini believed, with Bismarck, that no state could be well governed unless it consisted of a homogeneous nation. But Bismarck’s policy of the artificial assimilation of the weaker by the stronger type seemed to him the vilest form of tyranny; and he based his own plans for the reconstruction of Europe upon the purpose of God, as revealed by the existing correspondence of national uniformities with geographical facts. “God,” he said, “divided humanity into distinct groups or nuclei upon the face of the earth. . . . Evil governments have disfigured the divine design. Nevertheless you may still trace it, distinctly marked out — at least as far as Europe is concerned — by the course of the great rivers, the direction of the higher mountains, and other geographical conditions.”
Both Mazzini and Bismarck, therefore, opposed with all their strength the humanitarianism of the French Revolution, the philosophy which, as Canning said, “ reduced the nation into individuals in order afterwards to congregate them into mobs.” Mazzini attacked the “cosmopolitans,” who preached that all men should love each other without distinction of nationality, on the ground that they were asking for a psychological impossibility. No man, he argued, can imagine, and therefore no one can love, mankind, if mankind means to him all the millions of individual human beings. Already in 1836 he denounced the original Carbonari for this reason: “The cosmopolitan,” he then said, “alone in the midst of the immense circle by which he is surrounded, whose boundaries extend beyond the limits of his vision; possessed of no other weapons than the consciousness of his rights (often misconceived) and his individual faculties — which, however powerful, are incapable of extending their activity over the whole sphere of application constituting the aim . . . has but two paths before him. He is compelled to choose between despotism and inertia.” He quotes the Breton fisherman who, as he puts out to sea, prays to God, “Help me, my God! My boat is so small and Thy ocean so wide.”
For Mazzini the divinely indicated nation stood therefore between the individual man and the unimaginable multitude of the human race. A man could comprehend and love his nation because it consisted of beings like himself speaking the same language, gifted with the same tendencies, and educated by the same historical tradition” and could be thought of as a single national entity. The nation was “the intermediate term between humanity and the individual,” and man could only attain to the conception of humanity by picturing it to himself as a mosaic of homogeneous nations. “Nations are the citizens of humanity as individuals are the citizens of the nation”; and again, “The pact of humanity cannot be signed by individuals, but only by free and equal peoples, possessing a name, a banner, and the consciousness of a distinct existence.”
Nationalism, as interpreted either by Bismarck or by Mazzini, played a great and valuable part in the development of the political consciousness of Europe during the nineteenth century. But it is becoming less and less possible to accept it as a solution for the problems of the twentieth century. We cannot now assert with Mazzini that the “indisputable tendency of our epoch” is toward a reconstitution of Europe into a certain number of homogeneous national states “as nearly as possible equal in population and extent.” Mazzini, indeed, unconsciously but enormously exaggerated the simplicity of the question even in his own time. National types throughout the greater part of southeastern Europe were not even then divided into homogeneous units by “the course of the great rivers and the direction of the high mountains,” but were intermingled from village to village; and events have since forced us to admit that fact. We no longer,- for instance, can believe, as Mr. Swinburne and the other English disciples of Mazzini and of Kossuth seem to have believed in the 1860’s, that Hungary is inhabited only by a homogeneous population of patriotic Magyars. We can see that Mazzini was already straining his principle to the breaking point when he said in 1852: “It is in the power of Greece … to become, by extending itself to Constantinople, a powerful barrier against the European encroachments of Russia.” In Macedonia today bands of Bulgarian and Greek patriots, both educated in the pure tradition of Mazzinism, are attempting to exterminate the rival populations in order to establish their own claim to represent the purposes of God as indicated by the position of the Balkan mountains. Mazzini himself would, perhaps, were he living now, admit that, if the Bismarckian policy of artificial assimilation is to be rejected, there must continue to be some states in Europe which contain inhabitants belonging to widely different national types.
Bismarck’s conception of an artificial uniformity created by “blood and iron” corresponded more closely than did Mazzini’s to the facts of the nineteenth century. But its practicability depended upon the assumption that the members of the dominant .nationality would always vehemently desire to impose their own type on the rest. Now that the Social Democrats, who are a not inconsiderable proportion of the Prussian population, apparently admire their Polish or Bavarian or Danish fellow subjects all the more because they cling to their own national characteristics, Prince Bfilow’s Bismarckian dictum the other day, that the strength of Germany depends on the existence and dominance of an intensely national Prussia, seemed a mere political survival. The same change of feeling has also shown itself in the United Kingdom, and both the English parties have now tacitly abandoned the Anglicization of Ireland and Wales, which all parties once accepted as a necessary part of English policy.
A still more important difficulty in applying the principle that the area of the state should be based on homogeneity of national type, whether natural or artificial, has been created by the rapid extension during the last twenty-five years of all the larger European states into non-European territory. Neither Mazzini, till his death in 1872, nor Bismarck, till the colonial adventure of 1884, was compelled to take into his calculations the inclusion of territories and peoples outside Europe. Neither of them, therefore, made any effective intellectual preparation for those problems which have been raised in our time by “the scramble for the world.” Mazzini seems, indeed, to have vaguely expected that nationality would spread from Europe into Asia and Africa, and that the “pact of humanity” would ultimately be “signed” by homogeneous and independent “nations,” who would cover the whole land surface of the globe. But he never indicated the political forces by which that result was to be brought about. The Italian invasion of Abyssinia in 1896 might have been represented either as a necessary stage in the Mazzinian policy of spreading the idea of nationality to Africa, or as a direct contradiction of that idea itself.
Bismarck, with his narrower and more practical intellect, never looked forward, as Mazzini did, to a “pact of humanity,” which should include even the nations of Europe, and, indeed, always protested against the attempt to conceive of any relation whatsoever, moral or political, as existing between any state and the states or populations outside its boundaries. “The only sound principle of action,” he said, “for a great state is political egoism.” When, therefore, after Bismarck’s death German sailors and soldiers found themselves in contact with the defenseless inhabitants of China or East Africa, they were, as the Social Democrats quickly pointed out, provided with no conception of the situation more highly developed than that which was acted upon in the fifth century a.d., by Attila and his Huns.
The modern English imperialists tried for some time to apply the idea of national homogeneity to the facts of the British Empire. From the publication of Seeley’s Expansion of England in 1883 till the Peace of Vereeniging in 1902 they strove to believe in the existence of a “Blood,” an “Island Race,” consisting of homogeneous English-speaking individuals, among whom were to be reckoned not only the whole population of the United Kingdom, but all the reasonably white inhabitants of our colonies and dependencies; while they thought of the other of the Empire as “the white man’s burden” — the necessary material for the exercise of the white man’s virtues. The idealists among them, when they were forced to realize that such a homogeneity of the whites did not yet exist, persuaded themselves that it would come peacefully and inevitably as a result of the reading of imperial poems and the summoning of an imperial council. The Bismarckian realists among them believed that it would be brought about, in South Africa and elsewhere, by “blood and iron.” Lord Milner, who is perhaps the most loyal adherent of the Bismarckian tradition to be found out of Germany, contended even at Vereeniging against peace with the Boers on any terms except such an unconditional surrender as would involve the ultimate Anglicization of the South African colonies. He still dreams of a British Empire whose egoism shall be as complete as that of Bismarck’s Prussia, and warns us in 1907, in the style of 1887, against those “ideas of our youth” which were “at once too insular and too cosmopolitan.”
But in the minds of most of our present imperialists, imperial egoism is now deprived of its only possible psychological basis. It is to be based not upon national homogeneity but upon the consciousness of national variation. The French in Canada are to remain intensely French, and the Dutch in South Africa intensely Dutch; though both are to be divided from the world outside the British Empire by an unbridgeable moral chasm. To imperialism so conceived facts lend no support. The loyal acceptance of British Imperial citizenship by Sir Wilfred Laurier or General Botha constitutes something more subtle, something, to adapt Lord Milner’s phrase, less insular but more cosmopolitan than imperial egoism. It does not, for instance, involve an absolute indifference to the question whether France or Holland shall be swallowed up by the sea.
At the same time the non-white races within the Empire show no signs of enthusiastic contentment at the prospect of existing, like the English “poor” during the eighteenth century, as the mere material of other men’s virtues. They too have their own vague ideas of nationality; and if those ideas do not ultimately break up our Empire, it will be because they are enlarged and held in check, not by the sentiment of imperial egoism, but by those wider religious and ethical conceptions which pay little heed to imperial or national frontiers. . . .
If the policy of imperial egoism is a successful one it will be adopted by all empires alike, and whether we desire it or not, the victor in each inter-imperial war will take over the territory of the loser. After centuries of warfare and the steady retrogression, in the waste of blood and treasure and loyalty, of modern civilization, two empires, England and Germany, or America and China, may remain. Both will possess an armament which represents the whole “ surplus value,” beyond mere subsistence,- created by its inhabitants. Both will contain white and yellow and brown and black men hating each other across a wavering line of the map of the world. But the struggle will go on, and, as the result of a naval Armageddon in the Pacific, only one empire will exist. “Imperial egoism,” having worked itself out to its logical conclusion, will have no further meaning, and the inhabitants of the globe, diminished to half their number, will be compelled to consider the problems of race and of the organized exploitation of the globe from the point of view of mere humanitarianism.
Is the suggestion completely wanting in practicability that we might begin that consideration before the struggle goes any further? Fifteen hundred years ago, in southeastern Europe, men who held the Homoousian opinion of the Trinity were gathered in arms against the Homoiousians. The generals and other Realpolitiker on both sides may have feared, like Lord Milner, lest their followers should become “too cosmopolitan,” too ready to extend their sympathies across the frontiers of theology. “This,” a Homoousian may have said, “is a practical matter. Unless our side learn by training themselves in theological egoism to hate the other side, we shall be beaten in the nest battle.” And yet we can now see that the practical interests of Europe were very little concerned with the question whether “we” or “they” won, but very seriously concerned with the question whether the division itself into “we” or “they” could not be obliterated by the discovery either of a less clumsy metaphysic, or of a way of thinking about humanity which made the continued existence of those who disagreed with one in theology no longer intolerable. May the Germans and ourselves be now marching toward the horrors of a world war merely because “nation” and “empire” like “Ho- moousia” and “Homoiousia” are the best that we can do in making entities of the mind to stand between us and an unintelligible universe, and because having made such entities our sympathies are shut up within them?
I have already urged, when considering the conditions of political reasoning, that many of the logical difficulties arising from our tendency to divide the infinite stream of our thoughts and sensations into homogeneous classes and species are now unnecessary and have been avoided in our time by the students of the natural sciences. Just as the modern artist substitutes without mental confusion his ever- varying curves and surfaces for the straight and simple lines of the savage, so the scientific imagination has learned to deal with the varying facts of nature without thinking of them as separate groups, each composed of identical individuals and represented to us by a single type.
Can we learn so to think of the varying individuals of the whole human race? Can we do, that is to say, what Mazzini declared to be impossible? And if we can, shall we be able to love the fifteen hundred million different human beings of whom we are thus enabled to think?
To the first question the publication of the Origin of Species in 1859 offered an answer. Since then we have in fact been able to represent the human race to our imagination, neither as a chaos of arbitrarily varying individuals, nor as a mosaic of homogeneous nations, but as a biological group, every individual in which differs from every other not arbitrarily but according to an intelligible process of organic evolution. And, since that which exists for the imagination can exist also for the emotions, it might have been hoped that the second question would also have been answered by evolution, and that the warring egoisms of nations and empires might henceforth have been dissolved by love for that infinitely varying multitude whom we can watch as they work their way through so much pain and confusion toward a more harmonious relation to the universe.
But it was the intellectual tragedy of the nineteenth century that the discovery of organic evolution, instead of stimulating such a general love of humanity, seemed at first to show that it was forever impossible. Progress, it appeared, had been always due to a ruthless struggle for life, which must still continue unless progress was to cease. Pity and love would lead inevitably to the degeneration of the species.
This grim conception of an internecine conflict, inevitable and unending, in which all races must play their part, hung for a generation after 1859 over the study of world politics as the fear of a cooling sun hung over physics, and the fear of a population to be checked only by famine and war hung over the century of political economy. Before Darwin wrote, it had been possible for philanthropists to think of the non-white races as “men and brothers” who, after a short process of education, would become in all respects except color identical with themselves. Darwin made it clear that the difficulty could not be so glossed over. Racial variations were shown to be unaffected by education, to have existed for millions of years, and to be tending perhaps toward divergence rather than assimilation.
The practical problem also of race relationship has, by a coincidence, presented itself since Darwin wrote in a sterner form. During the first half of the nineteenth century the European colonists who were in daily contact with non-European races, although their impulses and their knowledge alike revolted from the optimistic ethnology of Exeter Hall, yet could escape all thought about their own position by assuming that the problem would settle itself. To the natives of Australia or Canada or the Hottentots of South Africa trade automatically brought disease, and disease cleared the land for a stronger population. But the weakest races and individuals have now died out, the surviving populations are showing unexpected powers of resisting the white man’s epidemics, and we are adding every year to our knowledge of, and therefore our responsibility for, the causation of infection. We are nearing the time when the extermination of races, if it is done at all, must be done deliberately.
But if the extermination is to be both inevitable and deliberate, how can there exist a community either of affection otr purpose between the killers and the killed? No one at this moment professes, as far as I know, to have an easy and perfect answer to this question. The point of ethics lies within the region claimed by religion. But Christianity, which at present is the religion chiefly concerned, has conspicuously failed even to produce a tolerable working compromise. The official Christian theory is, apparently, that all human souls are of equal value, and that it ought to be a matter of indifference to us whether a given territory is inhabited a thousand years hence by a million converted Central African pigmies or a million equally converted Europeans or Hindus. On the practical point, however, whether the stronger race should base its plans of extension on the extermination of the weaker race, or on an attempt, within the limits of racial possibility, to improve it, Christians have, during the nineteenth century, been infinitely more ruthless than Mohammedans, though their ruthlessness has often been disguised by more or less conscious hypocrisy.
But the most immediately dangerous result of political “Darwinism” was not its effect in justifying the extermination of African aborigines by European colonists, but the fact that the conception of the “struggle for life” could be used as a proof that that conflict among the European nations for the control of the trade routes of the world which has been threatening for the last quarter of a century is for each of the nations concerned both a scientific necessity and a moral duty. Lord Ampthill, for instance, the athletic ex-governor of Madras, said the other day: “From an individual struggle, a struggle of families, of communities, and nations, the struggle for existence has now advanced to a struggle of empires.” . . .
Any such identification of the biological advantage arising from the “struggle for fife” among individuals with that which is to be expected from a “struggle of empires,” is, of course, thoroughly unscientific. The “struggle of empires” must either be fought out between European troops alone, or between Europeans in combination with their non-European allies and subjects. If it takes the first form, and if we assume, as Lord Ampthill probably does, that the North European racial type is “higher” than any other, then the slaughter of half a million selected Englishmen and half a million selected Germans will clearly be an act of biological retrogression. Even if the non-European races are brought in, and a corresponding number of selected Turks and Arabs and Tartars, or of Gurkhas and Pathans and Soudanese, are slaughtered, the biological loss to the world, as measured by the percentage of surviving “higher” or “lower” individuals, will only be slightly diminished.
Nor is that form of the argument much better founded which contends . that the evolutionary advantage to be expected from the “struggle of empires” is the “survival” not of races but of political and cultural types. Our victory over the German Empire, for instance, would mean, it is said, a victory for the idea of political liberty. This argument, which, when urged by the rulers of India, sounds somewhat temerarious, requires the assumption that types of culture are in the modern world most successfully spread by military occupation. But in the Ancient World, Greek culture spread most rapidly after the fall of the Greek Empire; Japan in our own time adopted Western culture more readily as an independent nation than she would have done as a dependency of Russia or France; and India is perhaps more likely today to learn from Japan than from England.
Lord Ampthill’s phrase, however, represents not so much an argument as a habit of feeling shared by many who have forgotten or never known the biological doctrine which it echoes. The first followers of Darwin believed that the human species had been raised above its prehuman ancestors because, and in so far as, it had surrendered itself to a blind instinct of conflict. It seemed, therefore, as if the old moral precept that men should control their more violent impulses by reflection had been founded upon a mistake. Unreflecting instinct was, after all, the best guide, and nations who acted instinctively toward their neighbors might justify themselves, like the Parisian ruffians of ten years ago, by claiming to be “strugforlifeurs.”
If this habit of mind is to be destroyed it must be opposed, not merely by a new argument, but by a conception of man’s relation to the universe which creates emotional force as well as intellectual conviction.
And the change that has already shown itself in our conception of the struggle for life among individuals indicates that, by some divine chance, a corresponding change may come in our conception of the struggle between peoples. The evolutionists of our own time tell us that the improvement of the biological inheritance of any community is to be hoped for, not from the encouragement of individual conflict, but from the stimulation of the higher social impulses under the guidance of the science of eugenics; and the emotional effect of this new conception is already seen in the almost complete disappearance from industrial politics of that unwillingly brutal “individualism” which afflicted kindly Englishmen in the 1860’s.
An international science of eugenics might in the same way indicate that the various races should aim, not at exterminating each other but at encouraging the improvement by each of its own racial type! Such an idea would not appeal to those for whom the whole species arranges itself in definite and obvious grades of “higher” and “lower ” from the northern Europeans downward, and who are as certain of the ultimate necessity of a “white world” as the Sydney politicians are of the necessity of a “white Australia.” But in this respect during the last few years the inhabitants of Europe have shown signs of a new humility, due partly to widespread intellectual causes and partly to the hard facts of the Russo-Japanese War and the arming of China. The “spheres of influence” into which we divided the Far East eight years ago seem to us now a rather stupid joke, and those who read history are already bitterly ashamed that we destroyed, by the sack of the Summer Palace in 1859, the products of a thousand years of such art as we can never hope to emulate. We are coming honestly to believe that the world is richer for the existence both of other civilizations and of other racial types than our/own. We have been compelled by the study of the Christian documents to think of our religion as one only among the religions of the -florid, and to acknowledge that it has owed much and may owe much again to the longer philosophic tradition and the subtler and more patient brains of Hindustan and Persia. Even if we look at the future of the species as a matter of pure biology, we are warned by men of science that it is not safe to depend only on one family or one Variety for the whole breeding-stock of the world. For the moment we shrink from the interbreeding of races, but we do so in spite of some conspicuous examples of successful interbreeding in the past, and largely because of our complete ignorance of the conditions on which success depends.
Already, therefore, it is possible without intellectual dishonesty to look forward to a future for the race which need not be reached through a welter of blood and hatred. We can imagine the nations settling the racial allocation of the temperate or tropical breeding-grounds, or even deliberately placing the males and females of the few hopelessly backward tribes on different islands, without the necessity that the most violent passions of mankind should be stimulated in preparation for a general war. No one now expects an immediate, or prophesies with certainty an ultimate, Federation of the Globe; but the consciousness of a common purpose in mankind, or even the acknowledgment that such a common purpose is possible, would alter the face of world politics at once. The discussion at The Hague of a halt in the race of armaments would no longer seem utopian, and the strenuous profession by the colonizing powers that they have no selfish ends in view might be transformed from a sordid and useless hypocrisy into a fact to which each nation might adjust its policy. The irrational race hatred which breaks out from time to time on the fringes of empire would have little effect in world politics when opposed by a consistent conception of the future of human progress.
Meanwhile, it is true, the military preparations for a death struggle of empires still go on, and the problem even of peaceful immigration becomes yearly more threatening, now that shipping companies can land tens of thousands of Chinese or Indian laborers for a pound or two a head at any port in the world. But when we think of such things we need no longer feel ourselves in the grip of a Fate that laughs at human purpose and human kindliness. An idea of the whole existence of our species is at last a possible background to our individual experience. Its emotional effect may prove to be not less than that of the visible temples and walls of the Greek cities, although it is formed not from the testimony of our eyesight, but from the knowledge which we acquire in our childhood and confirm by the half-conscious corroboration of our daily life.
We all of us, plain folk and learned alike, now make a picture for ourselves of the globe with its hemispheres of light and shadow, from every point of which the telegraph brings us hourly news, and which may already be more real to us than the fields and houses past which we hurry in the train. We can see it, hanging and turning in the monstrous emptiness of the skies, and obedient to forces whose action we can watch hundreds of light-years away and feel in the beating of our hearts. The sharp new evidence of the camera brings every year nearer to us its surface of ice and rock and plain, and the wondering eyes of alien peoples.
It may be that we shall long continue to differ as to the full significance of this vision. But now that we can look at it without helpless pain it may stir the deepest impulses of our being. To some of us it may bring confidence in that Love that Dante saw, “which moves the Sun and the other Stars.” To each of us it may suggest a kinder pity for all the bewildered beings who hand on from generation to generation the torch of conscious life.
SOURCE: Human Nature in Politics (1908) by Graham Wallas. F. S. Crofts & Company, publishers.