Page:Saturdayeveningp1935unse.djvu/392

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4
March 26, 1921
THE SATURDAY EVENING POST

Now the gist of my case is this: That the civilization of the past three centuries has produced a great store of scientific knowledge, and that this scientific knowledge has altered the material scale of human affairs and enormously enlarged the physical range of human activities, but that there has been no adequate adjustment of men's political ideas to the new conditions.

This adjustment is a subtle and a difficult task. It is also a greatly neglected task. And upon the possibility of our making this adjustment depends the issue whether the ebb of civilizing energy, the actual smashing and breaking down of modern civilization, which has already gone very far indeed in Russia and which is going on in most of Eastern and Central Europe, extends to the whole civilized world.

Now let me make a very rough and small-scale analysis of what is happening to the world to-day. And let us disregard many very important issues and concentrate upon the chief, most typical issue—the revolution in the facilities of locomotion and communication that has occurred to the world, and the consequences of that revolution. For the international problem to-day is essentially dependent upon the question of transport and communication—all others are subordinate to that. I shall particularly call your attention to certain wide differences between the American case and the Old World case in this matter.

It is not understood clearly enough at the present time how different is the American international problem from the European international problem, and how inevitable it is that America and Europe should approach international problems from a different angle and in a different spirit. Both lines of thought and experience do, I believe, lead at last to the world state, but they get there, I submit, by a different route and in a different manner.


The Age of Rapid Transport

THE idea that the Government of the United States can take its place side by side with the governments of the Old World on terms of equality with those governments in order to organize the peace of the world is, I believe, a mistaken and unworkable idea. I shall argue that the Government of the United States and the community of the United States are things different politically and mentally from those of the states of the Old World, and that the role they are destined to play in the development of a world state of mankind is essentially a distinctive one. And I shall try to show cause for regarding the very noble and splendid project of a world-wide League of Nations that has held the attention of the world for the past three years as one that is at once a little too much for complete American participation, and not sufficient for the urgent needs of Europe. It is not really so practicable and reasonable a proposition as it looked at first.

The idea of a world state, though it looks a far greater and more difficult project, is, in the long run, a sounder and more hopeful proposition.

Now let me make myself as clear as I can be about the central idea upon which the whole of the arguments in this article rest. It is this—forgive me for a repetition—that there has been a complete alteration in the range and power of human activities in the last hundred years. Men can react upon men with a rapidity and at a distance that was inconceivable a hundred years ago. This is particularly the case with locomotion and methods of communication generally. I will not remind you in any detail of facts with which you are familiar; how in the time of Napoleon the most rapid travel possible of the great conqueror himself did not average all over as much as four and a half miles an hour. A hundred and seven miles a day for thirteen days—the pace of his rush from Vilna to Paris after the Moscow disaster—was regarded as a marvel of speed. In those days, too, it was a marvel that by means of semaphores it was possible to transmit a short message from London to Portsmouth in the course of an hour or so.

Since then we have seen a development of telegraphy that has at last made news almost simultaneous about the world, and a steady increase in the rate of travel until, as we worked it out in the Civil Air Transport Committee in London, it is possible, if not at present practicable, to fly from London to Australia, halfway round the earth, in about eight days. I say possible, but not practicable, because at present properly surveyed routes, landing grounds, and adequate supplies of petrol and spare parts do not exist. Given those things, that journey could be done in the time I have given now. This tremendous change in the range of human activities involves changes in the conditions of our political life that we are only beginning to work out to their proper consequences to-day.

It is a curious thing that America, which owes most to this acceleration in locomotion, has felt it least. The United States has taken the railway, the river steamboat, the telegraph, and so on, as though they were a natural part of their growth. They were not. These things happened to come along just in time to save American unity. The United States of to-day was made first by the river steamboat, and then by the railway. Without these things the present United States—this vast continental nation—would have been altogether impossible. The westward flow of population would have been far more sluggish. It might never have crossed the great central plains. It took, you will remember, nearly two hundred years for effective settlement to reach from the coast to the Missouri, much less than halfway across the continent. The first state established beyond the river was the steamboat state of Missouri in 1821. But the rest of the distance to the Pacific was done in a few decades.

If we had the resources of the cinema here it would be interesting to show a map of North America year by year from 1600 onward, with little dots to represent hundreds of people, each dot a hundred, and stars to represent cities of a hundred thousand people.


The Settlement of America

FOR two hundred years you would see that stippling creeping slowly along the coastal districts and navigable water, spreading still more gradually into Indiana, Kentucky, and so forth. Then somwhere about 1810 would come a change. Things would get more lively along the river courses. The dots would be multiplying and spreading. That would be the steamboat. The pioneer do would be spreading soon from a number of jumping-off places along the great rivers over Kansas and Nebraska.

Then from about 1830 onward would come the black lines of the railways, and after that the little black dots would not simply creep but run. They would appear not so rapidly it would be almost as though they were beirh put on by some sort of spraying machine. And suddenly here and there there would appear the first stars to indicate the first great cities of a hundred thousand people. First one or two, and then the multitude of cities—each like a knot in the growing net of the railways.
"Warren, You'll Have to Fire That Cook"

This is a familiar story to you. I recall to you now to enforce this point: That the growth of the United States is a process that

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