Peace as a Factor in Social and Political Reform
|PEACE AS A FACTOR IN SOCIAL AND POLITICAL REFORM.|
By FRANKLIN SMITH.
ONLY by the application of an induction of Herbert Spencer, hardly less important and brilliant than his law of evolution, is it possible to introduce order into the complex and obscure phenomena of social and political life, and to distill from them trustworthy guidance for human conduct. In the light of the truth that out of the conflicts of war come one set of thoughts, feelings, and institutions, and out of the pursuits of peace come another set entirely different, the complexity and obscurity pass away. To the former we can trace with unerring certainty and precision the intolerance, brutality, dishonesty, and despotism that afflict the world; to the other, the enlightenment, forbearance, integrity, and freedom that give promise of a better day. But because of the flagrant disregard of this truth, not only by the ignorant and demagogic but by the literate and philanthropic, there is the gravest danger of a loss of the achievements of civilization and a restoration of the evils of barbarism.
The facts in support of the militant origin of barbarism and the pacific origin of civilization, like the facts in support of any other induction of science, be it in physics or astronomy, are not new. They are to be found in every volume of history, whether ancient or modern, narrative or analytical, and when once pointed out thrust themselves into consciousness with resistless force, Not otherwise could it be. The historian that sought to transfer to his pages the phenomena of social and political life in any country or age could no more fail to contribute the data that enabled Mr. Spencer to frame his induction than the physicist and astronomer that contributed to Newton's great achievement. When he described a war, he had to describe the butchery, plunder, devastation, and degradation it entailed; he had to note the enlargement of the power of the monarch or oligarchy that carried it on with the most success. When he described the return of peace, he had to describe the revival of industry and prosperity; he had to note the impatience of the people under the restraints that the necessities of conflict always impose, the refinement of their feelings, manners, and tastes, the growth of their intelligence in depth and breadth. But only a mind unusually skilled in the art of interpretation could grasp the significance of these varied phenomena, and bind them with the indissoluble bond of an immutable law of social life.
Now that Mr. Spencer has done this memorable service for science, it is possible for minds of less power and originality to scan the pages of history, and to observe for themselves the play of the forces that make for barbarism. As they follow the path that he has blazed, they will see that nothing could be more obvious than the relation of cause and effect between the ravages of war and social degeneration. The very word war, which General Sherman once defined as hell itself, conjures up a picture of economic, social, and moral devastation that does not require the aid of poets or orators to heighten. The avowed object of this form of human activity is destruction pure and simple—destruction of property and destruction of life. The obvious corollary is the destruction of everything in the social fabric that conserves either life or property—freedom, honesty, virtue. Most vividly does Motley, who had no social theory to defend, bring out the truth in his story of one of the fearful raids of Alva in the Netherlands. "The page which records that victorious campaign" he says, speaking of the attack on Groningen at the opening of the struggle with Spain, "is foul with outrage and red with blood. Not one of the horrors which accompany the passage of hostile troops through a defenseless country was omitted. Maids and matrons were ravished in multitudes; old men butchered in cold blood. As Alva returned with the rear guard of his army, the whole sky was red with a constant conflagration; the very earth seemed changed to ashes. Every peasant's hovel, every farmer's house, every village upon the road had been burned to the ground." The histories of all the wars ever fought are only variations of the same hideous theme. However much they may be studied, they can not be forced to yield a profounder secret.
Out of the devotion of all the resources of society to the sole object of destruction spring momentous and far-reaching consequences. One of the most important and conspicuous is the creation of a powerful central authority to wield the resources of society, and the pursuit of a policy at home and abroad that shall insure the most effective use of those resources. Never was a war fought that did not bring into existence a strong executive, or make still stronger the executive already in existence. Troops must be raised and commanded; taxes must be levied and collected for their support; all needful political machinery must be created to facilitate both. Only one man, like Cæsar, Frederick the Great, or Napoleon, or a very small body of men like the Spartan ephors or the Venetian Council of Ten, aided by obedient subordinates, can do such work. It was in unconscious recognition of this fact that the liberty-loving Dutch, when hard beset by the forces of Spanish bigotry and despotism, turned instinctively to the Prince of Orange. Had he accepted and exercised the authority that they urged upon him, he would have been as autocratic as Philip II. In obedience to the same pitiless law of militant activity, the opponents of the despotism of Charles I fell under the despotism of Oliver Cromwell. That it has not ceased to operate in times much more recent, there is ample proof in the records of the civil war. By the stress of that conflict, Abraham Lincoln was forced to exercise an authority in shocking disregard of the principles of American freedom. Even the violence of the great strikes in the last few years has led to a strengthening of the hands of the executive that has evoked the severest criticism.
The law that despotism, like the destruction of life and property, is an invariable product of war, is as immutable as the law of gravitation or the persistence of force. It is as potent and universal in the interpretation of the phenomena to which it applies as either in the interpretation of the phenomena to which they apply. True of every age, of every country, of every people, it throws a light upon constitutional history that shines from no other quarter. Flooded by its powerful rays, the cause of the destruction of the Roman Republic and the establishment of the Roman Empire becomes a commonplace. The incessant wars of the Roman people could have produced no other effect. It is obvious, too, that feudal despotism was only the natural product of mediæval disorder. "Royalty," says Guizot, reaching out feebly after the law that Mr. Spencer alone has firmly grasped, "is admirably adapted to epochs of vigorous and fruitful anarchy. . . when society desires to form and regulate itself, without knowing how to do so by the free concord of individual wills." After the long and bloody wars of Charles V and Francis I, so quickly succeeded by the more ferocious and devastating wars of the Reformation, the universal extinction of freedom in Europe was inevitable. "The traditional liberties perish" says Guizot again, summing up the history of the period, "and new and more concentrated and regular powers arise" These powers were, of course, the powers of despotism—the powers that became most completely personified in Louis XIV. Hardly had they begun to yield to the emancipating influences of peace before the Napoleonic wars came to give them new life, and to fasten upon Europe a despotism that required the Reform Bill in England and the revolutionary movement on the continent to weaken and partly overthrow. But with the Crimean War and the other great contests that followed so quickly, there has been a return to despotism again, particularly in France and Germany.
Like a powerful poison, the despotism called into existence by war diffuses itself through every part of the social fabric. Upon the penalty of defeat or extinction, society must be so organized politically, industrially, and ecclesiastically as to enable the central authority to summon to its aid every resource with the least possible delay. The organization best adapted to this purpose is the organization of feudalism. At the head of the nation stands the despot himself; over each great division, a prince or duke; over the lesser divisions, the counts, viscounts, and barons; finally, there is the great mass of people, whose duty it is to provide without complaint or protest the soldiers that constitute the army and the means to sustain them in the field. Hence the quickness of the movements of Francis I compared with those of Charles V and Henry VIII. "Before his enemies were ready to execute any of their schemes" says Robertson, bringing out the superiority of a despotic organization of society over a condition of popular freedom, "Francis had assembled a numerous army. His authority over his own subjects was far greater than that which Charles and Henry had over theirs. They depended on their diets, their cortes, and their parliaments for money, which was usually granted them in small sums, very slowly and with much reluctance. The taxes he could impose were more considerable, and levied with greater dispatch; so that. . . he brought his armies into the field while they were only devising ways and means for raising theirs" What was true of the great struggle between these potentates is true of every other. The nation most perfectly organized, other things being equal, will be the most successful in war.
To war, therefore, and not to the wisdom of philanthropists, may be traced all those regulations of industry and commerce that have cursed and still curse every civilized nation. It was the author of customhouses, of cruel taxes, like the taille and gabelle, and of all the licenses and monopolies ever invented. While the plunder of enemies often contributes, as it did in the case of the Romans, to the military chests of a nation, it is upon the taxation of industry and commerce, a form of internal aggression always accompanying the external aggression, that the despot must depend for certain and definite revenues. To make sure that both are conducted in a manner most advantageous to himself as well as to his subjects, he assumes the right to regulate them. Since the exportation of commodities would diminish his own supplies and increase those of his enemies, he prohibits it; since their importation would drain his kingdom of the precious metals, indispensable in war, he prohibits that also. Considering that our enemies might profit by our provisions and it is important to leave them their merchandise," said St. Louis, "we have ordered that the former shall not be exported nor the latter imported" Sometimes industries fall under the blight of royal protection because they provide commodities useful in war; sometimes, to make the state independent of supplies that might be cut off by war; sometimes, to establish monopolies to get the ready money required in war; sometimes, to stimulate production in order to make easier the burdens of war; sometimes, as was once proposed in France in regard to the silk industry, to prevent a form of toil that might unfit men for war. But whatever the regulation or the industry regulated, it is always war that gives the first impulse to this exercise of despotism, and the more a country is given up to war, the more despotic the regulations. It was so in Spain, where those of Charles V and his successors ruined industry; it was so in France, where those of Boyleau, Sully, and Colbert paralyzed industry; it was so in Germany, where the Great Elector and the other princes pursued the same ruinous policy. Only in England and Holland, where despotism throve the least, did industry thrive the most.
War also is the origin of those distinctions of society based, not upon character and ability, but upon occupation and birth. As long as it was the chief or only pursuit of man, it was the only calling of respect and honor. All other pursuits were more or less ignoble and debasing. Soldiers fight and die for their country. Only slaves work. Toilers, consequently, become objects of scorn and contempt. Not even philosophers were able to rise above the prejudices born of war. "Nature" said Plato, describing the inhabitants of his ideal republic, "made neither shoemakers nor blacksmiths. Such occupations degrade the people that engage in them. . . . As to tradesmen, accustomed to lie and deceive, they will be suffered . . . only as a necessary evil." In the opinion of Xenophon, "the manual arts are infamous and unworthy of the citizen." Cicero believed commerce to be "a sordid affair, when it is of little consequence," and "only tolerable at best, when conducted on a large scale and to supply the country with provisions." Despite the maxim of the monks, Lahorare est orare, the same vicious views prevailed during the middle ages. In the militant countries of to-day, especially Russia and Germany, they have hardly begun to pass away. But the forces that operate to divide a nation into warriors and workers operate also to divide each into other classes. Not only is there a hierarchy of the nobility, but also an ecclesiastical and industrial hierarchy. If we have princes, dukes, counts, and barons, we have cardinals, bishops, canons, and the minor clergy. Above the slaves and serfs there are various trade and professional guilds, where pride of occupation seeks to make hereditary the barriers it has raised. To emphasize these distinctions in state, church, and industry, to enable the members of one class to observe the deference due the members of another, titles, costumes, decorations, and the other insignia of rank are invented and made obligatory by law.
The despotism that cramps and paralyzes social activity, cramps and paralyzes intellectual activity. In the first place, the necessities of war make it impossible as well as useless to give thought to matters that do not contribute to success in battle. Therefore, the Spartans had neither literature nor philosophy—neither science nor art. Pursuit of these subjects was effeminate; it unfitted men for the better business of fighting. "Instruction in the sciences," said the barbarians that conquered Rome, anticipating a favorite opinion of Old Fritz of Prussia, "tends to corrupt, enervate, and depress the mind. He who has been accustomed to tremble under the rod of the pedagogue will never look on the sword or spear with an undaunted eye." In the second place, the pursuit of studies and the growth of beliefs not in conformity with those in honor with the central authority, would provoke discord, and, as in the case of Charles V and Henry VIII, make it more difficult to mobilize and wield effectively against an enemy the resources of society. Not only must the political opinions of subjects be those of the monarch, but there must be adhesion also to his religious beliefs. That was the contention, for example, of Philip II and Louis XIV. To dissent from them was to be guilty of treason; it was to merit death. Hence the paralysis of the French and Spanish intellects that Buckle describes. Hence the rigid censorship that prevails to-day in Germany and Russia and also in Turkey and Persia. It was war, therefore, not religion, that produced Torquemada and the Inquisition, that led to the massacre of St. Bartholomew, the persecution of the Dutch, the extinction of the Albigenses, and the perpetration of all the other crimes committed in the name of Christianity. The same truth explains also the check to Protestantism after the outbreak of the wars of the Reformation and the revival of Catholicism in all the countries that remained loyal to Rome. When we remember that war is the parent of despotism, and despotism the parent of intolerance, we can understand, too, why Protestantism repudiated its allegiance to the principle of private judgment, and like its rival resorted to the rack and fagot to keep the minds of men in subjection. "I should be content," said Frederick the Great during the most trying period of the Seven Years' War, giving a clew to the origin of the moral evils of society, "if I could only first inflict a part of the misery I endure" Since the first object of war is destruction of life and property, anything that promotes this end is right. Indeed, it is not only right, but it is noble. "They boast" says Ammianus Marcellinus, alluding to the Huns, "with the utmost exultation of the number of enemies they have slain, and as the most glorious of all ornaments they fasten the scalps of those who have fallen by their hands to the trappings of their horses." If enemies can be deceived by false statements or sham movements and lured into a trap for easier and safer slaughter, it should be done. If they become prisoners, they should be killed or enslaved. If their wives or daughters are ravished or consigned to a harem, it is only an exercise of legitimate rights over the persons of the conquered. If their property can not be carried away and its further use in resistance to attack prevented, it should be burned. "The northern invaders" says Macaulay, describing the condition of the Italians during the invasions of the French, Spanish, and German armies, "had brought want to their boards, infamy to their beds, fire to their roofs, and the knife to their throats." But there was never a people that practiced the ethics of war against their enemies that did not practice the same code against themselves. The members of the tipper classes prey upon the members of the lower, and the members of each class prey upon one another. Everywhere there are deceit, baseness, cruelty, and every crime of violence. "No language," says Draper, speaking of the condition of Rome, "can describe the state of that capital after the civil wars. . . . The social fabric was a festering mass of rottenness. The people had become a populace; the aristocracy was demoniac; the city was hell.!No crime that the annals of human wickedness can show was left unperpetrated—remorseless murders; the betrayal of parents, husbands, wives, friends; poisoning reduced to a system; adultery degenerating into incest, and crimes that can not be written." But a like demoralization was the fruit of the civil war in England and the long wars in France, Germany, and Italy. It is not, therefore, at the door of Adam but at the door of Mars that the sins of the world are to be placed; they are not due to the fall in Eden but to the plunder and murder on the field of battle.
Thus far I have indicated how war leads directly, inevitably, and invariably to despotism in government, ignorance and intolerance in political and religious thought, and crime and degradation in social life. Let me turn to the fruits of peace, which include all that constitutes civilization. The connection between the two is likewise direct, inevitable, and invariable. Wherever peace stays the hand of destruction and resumes the work of creation, forces are put in operation that transform the thoughts and feelings as completely as they transform the pursuits, manners, and institutions of men. Released from the burdens and insecurity of war, society, like a body delivered from the fever and waste of disease, revives and grows strong. Industries flourish. Pressing against the cords with which the state and church have bound them, they pant and struggle for freedom. The mind responds also to the new life. Becoming enlarged with the enlargement of its activities, it refuses to submit to the bondage in which political and ecclesiastical despotism has placed it. It insists upon exploring every nook and corner of the universe and bringing to light every discovery. It rejects traditions and superstitions, and proceeds to construct the splendid edifice known as modern science. At the same time, it manifests its joy in creations of the imagination—poetry, music, painting, sculpture, architecture. These pursuits of peace introduce new relations among men. industry and commerce make it necessary for them to approach one another, not with a dirk or spear, but with the hand and look of welcome and friendship. Thus manners become more gentle, and feelings more sympathetic. There is a better recognition of rights and obligations. With a better recognition of rights and obligations pass away the slavery, deceit, vice, crime, and other evils that war engenders.
Like the deductions from the ruin of war, these deductions from the recuperation of peace have the sanction of historians that never heard of Mr. Spencer's social philosophy. "It is with human activity as with the fecundity of the earth" says Guizot. "With the least glimpse of order and peace, man takes hope, and with hope goes to work. It was thus with the towns" he adds, alluding to the diminution of anarchy that came with the establishment of feudalism. The moment that feudalism was a little fixed, new wants sprang up among the fief-holders, a certain taste for progress and amelioration; to supply this want, a little commerce and industry appeared in the towns of their domain; riches and population returned to them; slowly, it is true, but still they returned." Robertson makes a similar contribution to the pacific origin of civilization. "Commerce" he says in his famous view of Europe before the reign of Charles V, "tends to wear off those prejudices which maintain distinctions and animosity between nations. It softens and polishes the manners of men. It unites them by one of the strongest of all ties, the desire of supplying their mutual wants. It disposes them to peace by establishing in every state an order of citizens bound by their interests to be guardians of public. As soon as the commercial spirit acquires vigor and begins to gain an ascendant in any society, we discover a new genius in its policy, its wars, its alliances, and its negotiations. . . . In proportion as commerce made its way into the different countries of Europe, they successively turned their attention to those objects and adopted those manners which occupy and distinguish polished nations."
An appeal to the facts of history that led Guizot and Robertson, as well as other writers ignorant of Mr, Spencer's social philosophy, to these important inductions does not impair their validity; it only strengthens them and makes them the more impregnable. Wherever peace can find a refuge from the violence and uncertainty of war, industry and commerce take root and work their miracles.!No matter whether it find protection on the slopes or in the valleys of mountains, among the sand dunes or in the marshes of the sea, behind the walls of a city or away from the path of marauding invaders, the result is the same—civilization. Had not the Dutch been able to escape from the anarchy beyond the borders of their barren and inhospitable land at the mouth of the Rhine and the Scheldt, no Motley would have had occasion to write the history of their immortal republic. It was because the Alps furnished protection from the barbarians that plundered the adjacent countries that the Swiss became famous in the history of freedom. But for the lagoons of the Adriatic barring the advance of foot and horse, the world would never have heard of the Venetians, who maintained their state for more than a thousand years. The populations in all the countries of Europe, especially those of northern Italy, where modern civilization made its earliest and most glorious conquests, that were able to raise a wall against the floods of disorder that raged about them, soon passed from the shadows of barbarism, and only returned to them again because of the ferocity of political dissensions and the devastation and degradation of war. In southern France, where Roman civilization suffered least from the inroads of the barbarians, the people became much more enlightened and civilized than in northern France, where it suffered most. The energies of the northern boroughs were devoted to a struggle with feudalism, and, as a consequence, municipal freedom and civilization made little headway. Those of the southern were devoted, to use the words of Guizot, to "internal organization, amelioration, and progress" The inhabitants thought only of establishing "independent republics."
As here implied, peace is the progenitor of political freedom. It destroyed the monopoly of power enjoyed first by the one and later by the few, and conferred upon the many a voice in the control of their lives and property. The pacific states of antiquity were free states—Athens, Corinth, Rhodes, and Carthage. The industrial populations that escaped the anarchy of the middle ages were also free. When war ceases to be the main business of life, there is a relaxation of the bonds of despotism. They are not required to resist aggression nor to promote it. By useless and vexatious regulations they interfere with production and exchange. Moreover, a people trained to the management of their private enterprises, learn to manage public enterprises and demand a share in the work. The genius shown by the Dutch in the art of self-government was acquired during the centuries that they were left to themselves and their industries. The charters granted to them by their rulers conceded nothing new; they confirmed only the prescriptive rights and privileges evolved from industrial needs. The free governments of Venice, Barcelona, and other industrial cities of Europe, particularly those of the famous Hanseatic League, had a similar origin. "The cities are the work of the traders" says M. Pirenne, an eminent Belgian scholar; "they exist only because of them. Whether of Roman or non-Roman origin, seat of a bishop, monastery, or castle, free or subject to the law of the demesne, they began to acquire a municipal organization only at the moment when, along with the primitive population, a foreign population became established that maintained itself by industry and commerce." Because of the absence of the fighting populations of Europe during the Crusades, the pacific and industrial populations left behind gained the strength and wealth that enabled them to break the chains of feudal despotism, and to purchase the liberties that make the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the gateways to modern civilization. It was after the slow recovery from the devastating wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that the agitation in behalf of freedom ended in the terrific explosion of the French Revolution and the restoration of the rule of the despots. Again, it was after the long peace following the Napoleonic wars that the agitation was renewed, and, in England, led to the passage of the Reform Bill, and, on the Continent, to the demand for popular constitutions.
Peace is also the progenitor of intellectual freedom. The forces that shattered the despotism of the autocrat and aristocrat shattered the despotism of the ecclesiastic. Since the power of the latter grew out of the same conditions that produced the power of the former, the establishment of the new conditions was certain to be fatal to both alike. As soon as men began to think and act for themselves in industrial matters, they began to think and act for themselves in ecclesiastical as well as political matters. Accordingly, we find everywhere that the revolt against the church as well as the state started in the industrial centers. "In European history," says Thorold Rogers, "discontent with existing religious institutions and the acceptance of heresy on speculative topics have always been characteristic of manufacturing regions. It was the case in Toulouse in southern France, in Flanders, in eastern England. The French Huguenots were the manufacturers and merchants of the country in the seventeenth century, and when they were expelled carried with them their skill and capital. Only Italy is an exception," he adds, "and Italy profited so greatly by the papacy that it was not disposed to quarrel with the institution, although it had no love for the representative of it." The era of comparative peace that began with the establishment of feudalism and the opening of the Crusades and ended with the conflicts between Charles V and Francis I gave a powerful impulse to industry and commerce, and these again to the human intellect. Without the cessation of the anarchy that followed the downfall of Rome, the awakening of the minds of men that flowered in the Renaissance and the Reformation would not have been possible. But before they could gain their freedom, the mediæval conception of the duty of the individual toward the political and ecclesiastical powers, intertwined almost inextricably, had to be overthrown. All the theories of Nature and society, all the absurd and hideous superstitions that disgraced the medieval intellect, had to be modified or destroyed. To prevent such a revolution, which was certain not only to wipe out the moral abuses but to reduce the enormous power and revenue of the state and church, the fiercest conflict of modern times was precipitated. Although the battle was a drawn one and brought about a reversion to intellectual and political despotism, the human mind was not destined to be reduced to its old enslavement. It had made acquisitions in freedom and knowledge that subsequent wars, subversive as they were, could not take away.
The social revolution that accompanied the action of the forces set in operation by peace and industry was as great and far-reaching as the political and intellectual. It swept away that vast, complicated, and artificial system of class distinctions that prevailed in every feudal country. Birth ceased to be the only title to rank, and the profession of the soldier the only profession of a gentleman. The creation of wealth outside of land, which was the only form of property that could not be destroyed or carried away, brought a new standard of social worth into the world. Other pursuits besides the noble one of murder and pillage established a claim to social consideration. Men of character and ability engaged in industrial and professional occupations began to rank with the warrior and noble. Merchants, bankers, and lawyers that rose to wealth and eminence received the same honors that were bestowed upon men that won renown on the field of battle. Like the Fuggers in Germany and Jacques Cœur and Jean Ango in France, they became the friends and confidants of kings and princes. "Louis XI, like Charles VIII," says Pigeonneau, "surrounded himself with men of the middle class; he knew that they had more special knowledge, more docility, more fidelity, 'because they could not outrank him.'" So great was the esteem in which industrial pursuits were held in the Netherlands that even Philip II created the Order of the Golden Fleece to reward the men that had achieved eminence in them. Alarmed at the havoc that industrialism was working with the social hierarchy in France, the Due de Sully, the chief minister of Henry IV, complained that "the confusion of ranks" and "the degradation of people of quality" were among the evils that endangered the monarchy. As early as the reign of Francis I, which had been preceded by the great outburst of national prosperity that followed the close of the Hundred Years' War, a similar complaint had been made. Because of the opulence and peace that prevail in France," says a writer of the time, "the pride of all classes has increased more and more. . . . The bourgeois of the cities, both men and women, insist upon dressing like noblemen and ladies, noblemen as sumptuously as princes, and the inhabitants of the village like the bourgeois of the city." To prevent the political catastrophe involved in such a dangerous "confusion of ranks," very stringent sumptuary laws were enacted. But they were all in vain. The progress of peace and industry has wiped them out. In democratic countries like the United States, character and ability are the test of social worth, and the establishment of this test has abolished those distinctions of dress so important to the feudal mind.
If war makes ethical every act of destruction, peace makes ethical only acts in conservation of life and property. When men stop killing one another and undertake to supply one another's wants, a new code of morality begins to influence their conduct. As commerce brings people in contact with foreign nations, especially those known as heathen, a relaxation of religious and national prejudice occurs. Opposition to war against them springs up. Friendly relations are advocated. A grave charge brought against the Venetians, whose intercourse with other nations had made them enlightened and humane, was that they tolerated the Jews, obstructed one of the Crusades, and deprecated attacks upon the Mohammedans. A further step toward civilization is the advent of international agreements to prevent disputes and thus forestall conflicts. Here the pacific nations were the pioneers. The earliest commercial treaties extant are those of industrial Carthage with Rome. The first codifications of trade regulations were those of industrial Rhodes and Barcelona. The study of international law itself received its greatest impulse in industrial Holland. With the diminution of aggressions abroad and the growth of international jurisprudence occurred a diminution of aggressions at home and the growth of domestic jurisprudence. Courts were organized for the settlement of disputes and the punishment of crime. Here, again, the pacific nations were the pioneers. Hallam cites the significant fact that judicial combat never prevailed in England to the extent it did on the Continent. After saying that the moment a man entered the gates of one of the Italian republics of the twelfth century "he might reckon with a certainty on finding good faith in treaties and negotiations," Sismondi adds that he might also reckon upon "an energy in the people to resist by common exertion every act of injustice and violence." The militant nations were the last to abolish slavery and serfdom, and also judicial torture and the burning of witches and heretics. They were the last to cultivate commercial honor, personal purity, and the other virtues of a pacific life. Although the Dutch were often obliged during their terrific struggle with the Spaniards to raise large sums of money at a heavy discount, they never repudiated, as did Queen Elizabeth and Philip II, a single obligation. While the Jews were most cruelly persecuted by the militant exemplars of piety elsewhere, they welcomed them. Like Athens before her degradation by war, they welcomed also every alien laborer and every product of alien industry. Protection of their own industries was a form of foreign and domestic aggression to which they never resorted in the hour of their direst needs. Among them the relations of the sexes offered the most striking contrast with those of Prussia, Italy, France, and Spain of the same period. "They hold adultery in horror" says Guicciardini. "Their women are exceedingly circumspect, and are constantly allowed much freedom. They go alone to make visits, and even journeys, without evil report." It was in industrial Holland that labor received its most generous reward, and the poor and sick their most solicitous care; it was there, too, that crime was the most rare and its punishment the most humane. Her prisons are described as more like schools than jails, and their inmates as oftener foreigners than natives. It was, finally, of this wonderful creation of peace and honest toil that Thorold Rogers said that "the debt which civilization and liberty owes" to her "is greater than that which is due to any other race."
Setting forth the business of physical science, Prof. Ernst Mach says: "It endeavors by comprehensive and thorough description to make the waiting for new experience unnecessary; it seeks to save us the trouble of experimentation by making use. . . of the known interdependence of phenomena, according to which, if one kind of event occurs, we may be sure beforehand that a certain other event will occur." That is precisely the business of social science. Only as it serves that purpose has it any title to the name it bears, or any value as a guide to human conduct. By a study of social phenomena, it seeks to discover their interdependence, and then to frame such a comprehensive statement of that interdependence as to permit without further study or experiment the prediction of the results of any dominant form of social activity. But such a statement is to be found in the induction of Mr. Spencer that if the dominant activity of society be militant, the thoughts, feelings, and institutions of men will be those of barbarism; if it be pacific, they will be those of civilization; or, if there be a commingling of the two, as is now the case in Europe and America, they will be a compromise. That is to say, in proportion as society is militant or pacific, in precisely that degree will there be freedom or despotism, honesty or dishonesty, humanity or inhumanity, morality or immorality. As I have shown, no part of society is exempt from this law. Whatever the character of the forces in operation, they will govern all classes alike; they will govern them despite the precepts of moralists, pedagogic or ecclesiastic, or the regulations of despots, autocratic or democratic.
However closely history may be interrogated, it can not be made to disclose a truth more profound or important. Yet it is one not only seldom admitted but constantly violated. With amazing perversity, social reformers close their eyes to the significance of the fact that the dominance of pacific activity since the days of mediæval disorder has slowly brought about, without particular effort on their part and often in spite of them, the social and political ameliorations that now exist. Scornful of science and impatient of delay, they refuse to act upon the commonplace that human society in the future is to be bettered in no other way than it has been in the past. Hence they do not attempt to promote the growth of the free industrial institutions of peace that have lifted society to its present level. On the contrary, they strive to promote the growth of the discredited institutions of political despotism. What the result of this policy will be requires neither experiment nor experience to tell. The law of social science, whose operation I have attempted to illustrate, warrants the prediction that it will be disastrous. For, differing in degree, not in kind, the aggressions of government are as vicious and destructive as the aggressions of conflict. Be the motive ever so noble, not the smallest sum can be taken from a man for an object he does not approve without the commission of an act as repugnant to justice as the theft of a marauder, Nor can he be forced to take the shortest step from a line of conduct, not because it violates the rights of his neighbors but because it fails to accord with their notions of duty, without enslavement. Neither can the political contests made necessary by this aggression be carried on without the discipline of an army and the ethics of devastation. When, therefore, it is proposed to revive the institutions of feudalism, the products of war, to add to the wealth and happiness of men, the products of peace, only a return to the evils that have never failed to impoverish and degrade them can possibly occur.
But the extension of the free industrial institutions of peace threatens no such disaster. They involve no aggression; they permit neither theft nor enslavement. Being voluntary organizations to which a man may belong or not, just as tastes and interests incline him, he is not forced to part with his property except in one of the ways that must prevail in all societies truly civilized—namely, by gift or contract. Although membership of an organization, no matter what it be, requires a surrender of freedom to a greater or less extent, it is not compulsory, and the rights surrendered may be resumed at any moment. Under the régime of such institutions, the object of social activity is not, I repeat, the destruction but the conservation of life and property. The man seeking to supply his own wants can do so most effectively only as he supplies the wants of his fellows—that is to say, in striving for his own happiness, he must, in spite of greed or indifference, aid in their attainment to the same state of content. But the prevalence of misery about him tends to pain him as it does its victims, and only as he helps them to escape it can he do so himself. Therefore, the very necessities of existence do not simply constrain him to undertake in the myriad forms of industrial enterprise what will contribute most powerfully to his own happiness, they constrain him also to undertake in the myriad forms of charitable enterprise what will alleviate most perfectly the sufferings of those less fortunate than himself. Thus, while peace and industry compel the abandonment of every vice that leads to barbarism, they compel the observance of every virtue that leads to civilization.
What the duty of people is must now be as plain as it is simple. They should set their faces resolutely against any extension of the authority of the state. With all the strength at their command they should work to abridge as much as possible the authority with which it has already been wrongfully intrusted. Only by voluntary effort, such as is exhibited in every private industrial and charitable enterprise ever undertaken, should they attempt a solution of the problems of life. No one then will be called upon to surrender without his consent either his property or his freedom.
- Did space permit, it would be pertinent to show at some length how war diverts attention from all subjects not related to it, and how, even when it does not divert attention from them, it colors them. But any student of sociology will discover abundant proof of this truth in the phenomena growing out of the war with Spain. Take, for example, the New York Evening Post of Saturday, May 7th, a newspaper that was opposed to the war in its inception and does not favor it now. But it has been forced to yield to the war spirit to such an extent that of the four leading articles on the first page of the supplement, especially designed for general family reading, three relate to war. On the second of the news pages will be found another long article on "the signs of its (war's) permeation of city life," showing how even "confectionery and embroidery (are) affected." On the editorial page will be found still another article on War Books, showing in like manner that the effect of the war on the publishing business "is depressing," and that while "books old and new about Spain and Cuba, about strategy, and the navy and sea power, manuals for the naval reserve, works on tactics arc firm to higher, as the market reports say," "belles-lettres, criticism, history, essays, even the novel, are flat and weak, if not stale and unprofitable." Indeed, the student will find in the phenomena in question, including the bitterest intolerance and a startling perversion of the moral sentiments in regard to the taking of life and property, a complete verification of all the principles that I have set forth in this section of my article.