Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/346

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330
SOCIOLOGY

As society under this influence continued to be impelled to develop towards a still more organic type, the greatly higher In History Projected Efficiency (in the Future) has always rested on Military Efficiency (in the Present). potentiality of a state of social order which, while preserving the ideal of the highly organized state and the current efficiency of society in competition with lower types, was influenced by conceptions that dissolved all those closed absolutisms, and released human energies into a free conflict of forces by projecting the principles of human responsibility outside the State, became apparent. In many of the religions of the East such conceptions have been inherent, Christianity itself being a characteristically Eastern religion. But no Eastern people has been able to provide for them the permanent defensive military milieu in history in which alone their potentiality could be realized. The significance of modern Japan in evolution consists largely in the answer she is able to give to the question as to whether she will be able to provide in the future such a milieu for such a conception among an Eastern people.

The significance of the culmination of the military epoch in the ancient classic civilizations of the Western world, which preceded the opening of the era in which we are living, and of the fact that the peoples of the same descent who were destined to carry on the civilization of the existing era represent the supreme military stock by natural selection, not only of the entire world, but of the evolutionary process itself in human history, will therefore be evident.

With the spread, accordingly, amongst peoples of this origin, and in such a defensive military milieu in history, of a new The Principle of Efficiency in Modern Civilization is the Enfranchisement of the Future. conviction of responsibility to principles extending beyond the consciousness of the political State, there began a further and more organic stage of the evolutionary process in society. The gradual dissolution in the era in which we are living of all the closed absolutisms within the State, in which human action and ideas had hitherto been confined, is apparently the characteristic phenomenon of this stage. Progress is towards such a free and tolerant, but intense and efficient, conflict of forces as was not possible in the world before. It is, it would appear, in this light that we must regard the slow dissolution of the basis of ideas upon which slavery rested; the disintegration of the conceptions which supported the absolute position of the occupying classes in the State; the undermining of the ideas by which opinion was supported by the civil power of the State in the religious struggles of the middle ages; the growth of the conception that no power or opinion in the State can be considered as the representative of absolute truth; the consequent development of party government amongst the advanced peoples, with the acknowledgment of the right of every department of inquiry to carry results up to that utmost limit at which they are controlled only by the results obtained in other departments of activity with equal freedom; the growth of the conception, otherwise absurd, of the native equality of men; the resulting claim, otherwise similarly indefensible, of men to equal voting power irrespective of status or possessions in the State which has been behind the movement towards political enfranchisement; and, finally, the development of that conviction which is behind the existing challenge to all absolute tendencies in economic conditions in the modern world—namely, that the distribution of wealth in a well-ordered State should aim at realizing political justice. There are all the features of an integrating process in modern history. They must be considered as all related to a controlling principle inherent in the Christian religion which has rendered the evolutionary process in society more organic than in any past stage—namely, the projection of the sense of human responsibility outside the limits of all the creeds and interests which had in previous stages embodied it in the State (Kidd, Prin. West. Civil.). The meaning, in short, which differentiates our civilization from that of the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome is that modern Western civilization represents in an ever-increasing degree the enfranchisement of the future in the evolutionary process. So great has become the prestige of our civilization through the operation of this principle in it that its methods and results are being eagerly borrowed by other peoples. It is thereby so materially influencing the standards of conduct and culture thoughout the world that the developments which other nations are undergoing have in a real sense tended to become scarcely more than incidents in the expansion of Western civilization.

We live in the presence of colossal national armaments, and in a world, therefore, in which we are continually met with the Modern Militarism is therefore becoming a Defensive, not an Offensive Principle. taunt that force is still everywhere omnipotent. It may be perceived, however, that beneath all outward appearances a vast change has been taking place. In the ancient civilizations the tendency to conquest was an inherent principle in life of the military State. It is no longer an inherent principle in the modern State. The right of conquest is indeed still acknowledged in the international law of civilized States; but it may be observed to be a right becoming more and more impracticable among the more advanced peoples. Reflection, moreover, reveals the fact that the right of conquest is tending to become impracticable and impossible, not, as is often supposed, because of the huge armaments of resistance with which it might be opposed, but because the sense of social responsibility has been so deepened in our civilization that it is almost impossible that one nation should attempt to conquer and subdue another after the manner of the ancient world. It would be regarded as so great an outrage that it would undoubtedly prove to be one of the maddest and one of the most unprofitable adventures in which a civilized State could engage. Militarism, it may be distinguished, is becoming mainly defensive amongst the more advanced nations. Like the civil power within the State, it is tending to represent rather the organized means of resistance to the methods of force should these methods be invoked by others temporarily or permanently under the influence of less evolved standards of conduct.

In thus regarding the social process in Western history, the projected efficiency of which now, after many centuries of Individualism is only a Process of more Organic Social Subordination. development, begins to realize itself to an increasing degree in determining competition with other types of society throughout the world, it may be observed that the result by which a synthesis of the older and later views may be attained is already in sight. It was pointed out that if the principle which Spencer rightly recognized in modern society as rendering the life of the individual no longer subservient to the corporate life of the State was to be accepted as a principle of progress distinguishing modern civilization from that of the Greek period, it would be necessary for the sociologist to exhibit it not as indicating the larger independence of the individual, but as a principle identified with the increasing subordination of the individual to a more organic type of society. Here, therefore, this result is in process of accomplishment. The intervening process in history—including the whole modern movement towards liberty and enfranchisement, towards equality of conditions, towards equality of political rights and towards equality of economic opportunities—is presented as a process of development towards a more advanced and organic stage of social subordination than has ever prevailed in the world before (Princ. West. Civil. xi.). In this light, also, it may be observed how the claim of sociology to be the most advanced of all the theoretical sciences is justified. For if the historical process in the civilization of the era in which we are living is thus to be regarded as a process implying the increasing subordination of the individual to a more organic type of society, then the study of sociology as embracing the principles of the process must evidently involve the perception and comparison of the meaning of the fundamental positions disclosed in the history of political progress, of the problems with which the human mind has successively struggled in the phases of religious development, and, lastly, of the positions with which the intellect has been confronted as the stages of the subordinating process have