Page:Democratic Ideals and Reality (1919).djvu/29

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17
SOCIAL MOMENTUM

productive habits breaks down step by step, and society as a whole becomes progressively poor, though robbers of one kind or another may for a while enrich themselves. Even more serious, however, is the failure of the habit of discipline, for that implies the loss of the power of recuperation. Consider to what a pass Russia was brought by a year of cumulative revolutions; her condition was like that terrible state of paralysis when the mind still sees and directs, but the nerves fail to elicit any response from the muscles. A nation does not die when so smitten, but the whole mechanism of its society must be reconstituted, and that quickly, if the men and women who survive its impoverishment are not to forget the habits and lose the aptitudes on which their civilisation depends. History shows no remedy but force upon which to found a fresh nucleus of discipline in such circumstances; but the organiser who rests upon force tends inevitably to treat the recovery of mere efficiency as his end. Idealism does not flourish under his rule. It was because history speaks plainly in this regard, that so many of the idealists of the last two generations have been internationalist; the military recovery of discipline is commonly achieved either by conquest from another