Page:Democratic Ideals and Reality (1919).djvu/15

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3
PERSPECTIVE

counter their influence. Last century, under the spell of the Darwinian theory, men came to think that those forms of organisation should survive which adapted themselves best to their natural environment. To-day we realise, as we emerge from our fiery trial, that human victory consists in our rising superior to such mere fatalism.

Civilisation is based on the organisation of society so that we may render service to one another, and the higher the civilisation the more minute tends to be the division of labour and the more complex the organisation. A great and advanced society has, in consequence, a powerful momentum; without destroying the society itself you cannot suddenly check or divert its course. Thus it happens that years beforehand detached observers are able to predict a coming clash of societies which are following convergent paths in their development. The historian commonly prefaces his narrative of war with an account of the blindness of men who refused to see the writing on the wall, but the fact is, that, like every other going concern, a national society can be shaped to a desired career while it is young, but when it is old its character is fixed and it is incapable of any great change in its mode of existence. To-day