NATIONALITY AND DEMOCRACY; NATIONAL ORIGINS
Whatever the contemporary or the logical relation between nationality and democracy as ideas and as political forces, they were in their origin wholly independent one of the other. The Greek city states supplied the first examples of democracy; but their democracy brought with it no specifically national characteristics. In fact, the political condition and ideal implied by the word nation did not exist in the ancient world. The actual historical process, which culminated in the formation of the modern national state, began some time in the Middle Ages—a period in which democracy was almost an incredible form of political association. Some of the mediæval communes were not without traces of democracy; but modern nations do not derive from those turbulent little states. They derive from the larger political divisions into which Europe drifted during the Dark Ages; and they have grown with the gradually prospering attempt to bestow on the government of these European countries the qualities of efficiency and responsibility.
A complete justification of the foregoing statements would require a critical account of the political development of Western Europe since 400 B.C.; but within the necessary limits of the present discussion, we shall have to be satisfied with the barest summary of the way in which the modern national states originated, and of the relation to democracy which has gradually resulted from their own proper development. A great deal of misunderstanding exists as to the fundamental nature of a national as compared to a city or to an imperial state, because the meaning of the national idea has been obscured by the controversies which its militant assertion has involved. It has been identified both with a revolutionary and a racial political principle, whereas its revolutionary or racial associations are essentially occasional and accidental. The modern national state is at bottom the most intelligent and successful attempt which has yet been made to create a comparatively stable, efficient, and responsible type of political association.
The primary objects sought in political association are internal order, security from foreign attack, the authoritative and just adjustment of domestic differences and grievances, and a certain opportunity for individual development; and these several objects are really reducible to two, because internal order cannot be preserved among a vigorous people, in case no sufficient opportunity is provided for individual development or for the adjustment of differences and grievances. In order that a state may be relatively secure from foreign attack, it must possess a certain considerable area, population, and military efficiency. The fundamental weakness of the commune or city state has always been its inability to protect itself from the aggressions of larger or more warlike neighbors, and its correlative inability to settle its own domestic differences without foreign interference. On the other hand, when a state became sufficiently large and well organized to feel safe against alien aggression, it inevitably became the aggressor itself; and it inevitably carried the conquest of its neighbors just as far as it was able. But domestic security, which is reached by constant foreign aggression, results inevitably in a huge unwieldy form of imperial political organization which is obliged by the logic of its situation to seek universal dominion. The Romans made the great attempt to establish a dominion of this kind; and while their Empire could not endure, because their military organization destroyed in the end the very foundation of internal order, they bequeathed to civilization a political ideal and a legal code of inestimable subsequent value.
As long as men were obliged to choose between a communal or an imperial type of political organization,—which was equivalent merely to a choice between anarchy and despotism,—the problem of combining internal order with external security seemed insoluble. They needed a form of association strong enough to defend their frontiers, but not sufficiently strong to attack their neighbors with any chance of continued success; and such a state could not exist unless its unity and integrity had some moral basis, and unless the aggressions of exceptionally efficient states were checked by some effective inter-state organization. The coexistence of such states demanded in its turn the general acceptance of certain common moral ties and standards among a group of neighboring peoples; and such a tie was furnished by the religious bond with which Catholic Christianity united the peoples of Western Europe—a bond whereby the disorder and anarchy of the early Middle Ages was converted into a vehicle of political and social education. The members of the Christian body had much to fear from their fellow-Christians, but they also had much to gain. They shared many interesting and vital subjects of consultation; and even when they fought, as they usually did, they were likely to fight to some purpose. But beyond their quarrels Catholic Christians comprised one universe of discourse. They were somehow responsible one to another; and their mutual ties and responsibilities were most clearly demonstrated whenever a peculiarly unscrupulous and insistent attempt was made to violate them. As new and comparatively strong states began to emerge from the confusion of the early Middle Ages, it was soon found that under the new conditions states which were vigorous enough to establish internal peace and to protect their frontiers were not vigorous enough to conquer their neighbors. Political efficiency was brought to a much better realization of its necessary limits and responsibilities, because of the moral and intellectual education which the adoption of Christianity had imposed upon the Western peoples.
One of the earliest examples of political efficiency in mediæval Europe was the England of Edward I, which had begun to exhibit certain characteristics of a national state. Order was more than usually well preserved. It was sheltered by the Channel from foreign attack. The interest both of the nobles and of the people had been considered in its political organization. A fair balance was maintained among the leading members of the political body, so that the English kings could invade France with united national armies which easily defeated the incoherent rabble of knights and serfs whereby they were opposed. Nevertheless, when the English, after the manner of other efficient states, tried to conquer France, they were wholly unable to extinguish French resistance, as the similar resistance of conquered peoples had so frequently been extinguished in classic times. The French people rallied to a king who united them in their resistance to foreign domination; and the ultimate effect of the prolonged English aggression was merely the increasing national efficiency and the improving political organization of the French people.
The English could not extinguish the resistance of the French people, because their aggression aroused in Frenchmen latent power of effective association. Notwithstanding the prevalence of a factious minority, and the lack of any habit or tradition of national association, the power of united action for a common purpose was stimulated by the threat of alien domination; and this latent power was unquestionably the result in some measure of the discipline of Christian ideas to which the French, in common with the other European peoples, had been subjected. That discipline had, as has already been observed, increased men's capacity for fruitful association one with another. It had stimulated a social relationship much superior to the prevailing political relationship. It had enabled them to believe in an idea and to fight devotedly on its behalf. It is no accident, consequently, that the national resistance took on a religious character, and in Jeanne d'Arc gave birth to one of the most fragrant figures in human history. Thus the French national resistance, and the national bond thereby created, was one political expression of the power of coöperation developed in the people of Europe by the acceptance of a common religious bond. On the other hand, the use which the English had made of their precocious national organization weakened its foundations. The aggressive exercise of military force abroad for an object which it was incompetent to achieve disturbed the domestic balance of power on which the national organization of the English people rested. English political efficiency was dependent partly upon its responsible exercise; and it could not survive the disregard of domestic responsibilities entailed by the expense in men and money of futile external aggression.
The history of Europe as it emerged from the Middle Ages affords a continuous illustration of the truth that the increasing political efficiency of the several states was proportioned to the exercise of their powers in a responsible manner. The national development of the several states was complicated in the beginning by the religious wars; but those peoples suffered least from the wars of religion who did not in the end allow them to interfere with their primary political responsibilities. Spain, for instance, whose centuries of fighting with the Moors had enormously developed her military efficiency, used this military power solely for the purpose of pursuing political and religious objects antagonistic or irrelevant to the responsibilities of the Spanish kings towards their own subjects. The Spanish monarchy proclaimed as its dominant political object the maintenance by force of the Catholic faith throughout Europe; and for three generations it wasted the superb military strength and the economic resources of the Spanish people in an attempt to crush out Protestantism in Holland and England and to reinforce militant Catholicism in France. Upon Germany, divided into a number of petty states, partly Protestant, and partly Catholic, but with the Imperial power exerted on behalf of a Catholic and anti-national interest, the religious wars laid a heavy hand. Her lack of political cohesion made her the prey of neighboring countries whose population was numerically smaller, but which were better organized; and the end of the Thirty Years' War left her both despoiled and exhausted, because her political organization was wholly incapable of realizing a national policy or of meeting the national needs. Great Britain during all this period was occupied with her domestic problems and interfered comparatively little in continental affairs; and the result of this discreet and sensible effort to adapt her national organization to her peculiar domestic needs was in the eighteenth century an extraordinary increase of national efficiency. France also emerged from the religious wars headed by a dynasty which really represented national aspirations, and which was alive in some respects to its responsibilities toward the French people. The Bourbon monarchy consolidated the French national organization, encouraged French intellectual and religious life, and at times sought in an intelligent manner to improve the economic conditions of the country. For the first time in the history of continental Europe something resembling a genuinely national state was developed. Differences of religious opinion had been subordinated to the political and social interests of the French people. The crown, with the aid of a succession of able ministers, suppressed a factious nobility at home, and gradually made France the dominant European Power. A condition of the attainment of both of these objects was the loyal support of the French people, and the alliance with the monarchy, as the embodiment of French national life, of Frenchmen of ability and purpose.
The French monarchy, however, after it had become the dominant power in Europe, followed the bad example of previous states, and aroused the fear of its neighbors by a policy of excessive aggression. In this instance French domineering did not stimulate the national development of any one neighbor, because it was not concentrated upon any one or two peoples. But it did threaten the common interests of a number of European states; and it awakened an unprecedented faculty of inter-state association for the protection of these interests. The doctrine of the Balance of Power waxed as the result of this experience into a living principle in European politics; and it imposed an effective check upon the aggression of any single state. France was unable to retain the preponderant position which she had earned during the early years of the reign of Louis XIV; and this mistake of the Bourbon monarchy was the cause of its eventual downfall. The finances of the country were wrecked by its military efforts and failures, the industrial development of the people checked, and their loyalty to the Bourbons undermined. A gulf was gradually created between the French nation and its official organization and policy.
England, on the other hand, was successfully pursuing the opposite work of national improvement and consolidation. She was developing a system of government which, while preserving the crown as the symbol of social order, combined aristocratic leadership with some measure of national representation. For the first time in centuries the different members of her political body again began to function harmoniously; and she used the increasing power of aggression thereby secured with unprecedented discretion and good sense. She had learned that her military power could not be used with any effect across the Channel, and that under existing conditions her national interests in relation to the other European Powers were more negative than positive. Her expansive energy was concentrated on the task of building up a colonial empire in Asia and America; and in this task her comparative freedom from continental entanglements enabled her completely to vanquish France. Her success in creating a colonial empire anticipated with extraordinary precision the course during the nineteenth century of European national development.
In contemplating the political situation of Europe towards the end of the eighteenth century the student of the origin of the power and principle of nationality will be impressed by its two divergent aspects. The governments of the several European states had become tolerably efficient for those purposes in relation to which, during the sixteenth century and before, efficiency had been most necessary. They could keep order. Their citizens were protected to some extent in the enjoyment of their legal rights. The several governments were closely associated chiefly for the purpose of preventing excessive aggression on the part of any one state and of preserving the Balance of Power. Unfortunately, however, these governments had acquired during the turbulent era an unlimited authority which was indispensable to the fundamental task of maintaining order, but which, after order had been secured, was sufficient to encourage abuse. Their power was in theory absolute. It was an imitation of Roman Imperialism, and made no allowance for those limitations, both in its domestic and foreign expressions, which existed as a consequence of national growth and the international system. Their authority at all times was keyed up to the pitch of a great emergency. It was supposed to be the immediate expression of the common weal. The common weal was identified with the security of society and the state. The security of the state dictated the supreme law. The very authority, consequently, which was created to preserve order and the Balance of Power gradually became an effective cause of internal and external disorder. It became a source not of security, but of individual and social insecurity, because a properly organized machinery for exercising such a power and redeeming such a vast responsibility had not as yet been wrought.
The rulers of the continental states in the eighteenth century explained and excused every important action they took by what was called "La Raison d'État"—that is, by reasons connected with the public safety which justified absolute authority and extreme measures. But as a matter of fact this absolute authority, instead of being confined in its exercise to matters in which the public safety was really concerned, was wasted and compromised chiefly for the benefit of a trivial domestic policy and a merely dynastic foreign policy. At home the exercise of absolute authority was not limited to matters and occasions which really raised questions of public safety. In their foreign policies the majority of the states had little idea of the necessary and desirable limits of their own aggressive power. Those limits were imposed from without; and when several states could combine in support of an act of international piracy, as in the case of the partition of Poland, Europe could not be said to have any effective system of public law. The partition of Poland, which France could and should have prevented, was at once a convincing exposure of the miserable international position to which France had been reduced by the Bourbons, and the best possible testimony to the final moral bankruptcy of the political system of the eighteenth century.
THE IMPLICATIONS OF NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
In 1789 the bombshell of the French Revolution exploded under this fabric of semi-national and semi-despotic, but wholly royalist and aristocratic, European political system. For the first time in the history of European nations a national organization and tradition was confronted by a radical democratic purpose and faith. The two ideas have been face to face ever since; and European history thereafter may, in its broadest aspect, be considered as an attempt to establish a fruitful relation between them. In the beginning it looked as if democracy would, so far as it prevailed, be wholly destructive of national institutions and the existing international organization. The insurgent democrats sought to ignore and to eradicate the very substance of French national achievement. They began by abolishing all social and economic privileges and by framing a new polity based in general upon the English idea of a limited monarchy, partial popular representation, and equal civil rights; but, carried along by the momentum of their ideas and incensed by the disloyalty of the king and his advisers and the threat of invasion they ended by abolishing royalty, establishing universal suffrage and declaring war upon every embodiment, whether at home or abroad, of the older order. The revolutionary French democracy proclaimed a creed, not merely subversive of all monarchical and aristocratic institutions, but inimical to the substance and the spirit of nationality. Indeed it did not perceive any essential distinction between the monarchical or legitimist and the national principles; and the error was under the circumstances not unnatural. In the European political landscape of 1793 despotic royalty was a much more conspicuous fact than the centuries of political association in which these monarchies had been developed. But the eyes of the French democrats had been partially blinded by their own political interests and theories. Their democracy was in theory chiefly a matter of abstract political rights which remitted logically in a sort of revolutionary anarchy. The actual bonds whereby men were united were ignored. All traditional authority fell under suspicion. Frenchmen, in their devotion to their ideas and in their distrust of every institution, idea, or person associated with the Old Régime, hacked at the roots of their national cohesion and undermined the foundations of social order.
To a disinterested political philosopher of that day the antagonism between the principle of political authority and cohesion, as represented by the legitimate monarchies, and the principle of popular Sovereignty represented by the French democracy, may well have looked irretrievable. But events soon proved that such an inference could not be drawn too quickly. It is true that the French democracy, by breaking so violently the bonds of national association, perpetuated a division between their political organization and the substance of their national life, which was bound in the end to constitute a source of weakness. Yet the revolutionary democracy succeeded, nevertheless, in releasing sources of national energy, whose existence had never before been suspected, and in uniting the great body of the French people for the performance of a great task. Even though French national cohesion had been injured in one respect, French national efficiency was temporarily so increased that the existing organization and power of the other continental countries proved inadequate to resist it. When the French democracy was attacked by its monarchical neighbors, the newly aroused national energy of the French people was placed enthusiastically at the service of the military authorities. The success of the French armies, even during the disorders of the Convention and the corruption of the Directory, indicated that revolutionary France possessed possibilities of national efficiency far superior to the France of the Old Régime.
Neither the democrats nor Napoleon had, in truth, broken as much as they themselves and their enemies believed with the French national tradition; but unfortunately that aspect of the national tradition perpetuated by them was by no means its best aspect. The policy, the methods of administration, and the actual power of the Committee of Public Safety and of Napoleon were all inherited from the Old Régime. Revolutionary France merely adapted to new conditions the political organization and policy to which Frenchmen had been accustomed; and the most serious indictment to be made against it is that its excesses prevented it from dispensing with the absolutism which social disorder and unwarranted foreign aggression always necessitate. The Revolution made France more of a nation than it had been in the eighteenth century, because it gave to the French people the civil freedom, the political experience, and the economic opportunities which they needed, but it did not heal the breach which the Bourbons had made between the political organization of France and its legitimate national interests and aspirations. France in 1815, like France in 1789, remained a nation divided against itself,—a nation which had perpetuated during a democratic revolution a part of its national tradition most opposed to the logic of its new political and social ideas. It remained, that is, a nation whose political organization and policy had not been adapted to its domestic needs, and one which occupied on anomalous and suspected position in the European international system.
On the other hand, French democracy and Imperialism had directly and indirectly instigated the greater national efficiency of the neighboring European states. Alliances among European monarchs had not been sufficient to check the Imperial ambitions of Napoleon, as they had been sufficient to check the career of Louis XIV, because behind a greater general was the loyal devotion and the liberated energy of the French people; but when outrages perpetrated on the national feelings of Germans and Spaniards added an enthusiastic popular support to the hatred which the European monarchs cherished towards a domineering upstart, the fall of Napoleon became only a question of time. The excess and the abuse of French national efficiency and energy, consequent upon its sudden liberation and its perpetuation of an illogical but natural policy of national aggression, had the same effect upon Europe as English aggression had upon the national development of France. Napoleon was crushed under a popular uprising, comparable to that of the French people, which had been the condition of his own aggrandizement. Thus, in spite of the partial antagonism between the ideas of the French Revolutionary democracy and the principle of nationality the ultimate effect of the Revolution both in France and in Europe was to increase the force and to enlarge the area of the national movement. English national sentiment was enormously stimulated by the strenuous wars of the Revolutionary epoch. The embers of Spanish national feeling were blown into spasmodic life. The peoples of Italy and Germany had been possessed by the momentum of a common political purpose, and had been stirred by promises of national representation. Even France, unstable though its political condition was, had lost none of the results of the Revolution for which it had fought in the beginning; and if the Bourbons were restored, it was only on the implicit condition that the monarchy should be nationalized. The Revolutionary democracy, subversive as were its ideas, had started a new era for the European peoples of national and international construction.
Of course, it was by no means obvious in 1815 that a constructive national and international principle had come to dominate the European political system. The Treaty of Vienna was an unprincipled compromise among the divergent interests and claims of the dominant Powers, and the triumphant monarchs ignored their promises of national reform or representation. For one whole generation they resolutely suppressed, so far as they were able, every symptom of an insurgent democratic or national idea. They sought persistently and ingeniously to identify in Europe the principle of political integrity and order with the principle of the legitimate monarchy. But obscurantist as were the ideas and the policy of the Holy Alliance, the political system it established was an enormous improvement upon that of the eighteenth century. Not only was the sense of responsibility of the governing classes very much quickened, but the international system was based on a comparatively moral and rational idea. For the first time in European history a group of rulers, possessing in theory absolute authority and forming an apparently irresistible combination, exercised this power with moderation. They did not combine, as in the case of the partition of Poland, to break the peace and prey upon a defenseless neighbor, but to keep the peace; and if to keep the peace meant the suppression wherever possible of liberal political ideas, it meant also the renunciation of aggressive foreign policies. In this way Europe obtained the rest which was necessary after the havoc of the Revolutionary wars, while at the same time the principle on which the Holy Alliance was based was being put to the test of experience. Such a test it could not stand. The people of Europe were not content to identify the principle of political order, whether in domestic or foreign affairs, with that of legitimate monarchy and with the arbitrary political alignments of the Treaty of Vienna. Such a settlement ignored the political forces and ideas which, while originating in Revolutionary France, had none the less saved Europe from the consequences of French Revolutionary and Imperial aggression.
Beginning in 1848, Europe entered upon another period of revolutionary disturbance, which completely destroyed the political system of the Holy Alliance. At the outset these revolutions were no more respectful of national traditions than was the French Revolution; and as long as they remained chiefly subversive in idea and purpose, they accomplished little. But after some unsuccessful experimentation, the new revolutionary movement gradually adopted a national programme; and thereafter, its triumphs were many and varied. For the first time in political history the meaning of the national principle began to be understood; and it became in the most explicit manner a substantial and a formative political idea.
The revolutionary period taught European statesmen and political thinkers that political efficiency and responsibility both implied some degree of popular representation. Such representation did not necessarily go as far as thorough-going democrats would like. It did not necessarily transfer the source of political authority from the crown to the people. It did not necessarily bring with it, as in France, the overthrow of those political and social institutions which constituted the traditional structure of the national life. But it did imply that the government should make itself expressly responsible to public opinion, and should consult public opinion about all important questions of public policy. A certain amount of political freedom was shown to be indispensable to the making of a nation, and the granting of this amount of political freedom was no more than a fulfillment of the historical process in which the nations of Europe had originated.
The people of Europe had drifted into groups, the members of which, for one reason or another, were capable of effective political association. This association was not based at bottom on physical conditions. It was not dependent on a blood bond, because as a matter of fact the racial composition of the European peoples is exceedingly mixed. It was partly conditioned on geographical continuity without being necessarily caused thereby, and was wholly independent of any uniformity of climate. The association was in the beginning largely a matter of convenience or a matter of habit. Those associations endured which proved under stress of historical vicissitudes to be worthy of endurance. The longer any particular association endured, the more firm it became in political structure and the more definite in policy. Its citizens became accustomed to association one with another, and they became accustomed to those political and social forms which supplied the machinery of joint action. Certain institutions and ideas were selected by the pressure of historical events and were capitalized into the effective local political and social traditions. These traditions constituted the substance of the political and social bond. They provided the forms which enabled the people of any group to realize a joint purpose or, if necessary, to discuss serious differences. In their absence the very foundation of permanent political cohesion was lacking. For a while the protection of these groups against domestic and foreign enemies demanded, as we have seen, the exercise of an absolute political authority and the severe suppression of any but time-honored individual or class interests; but when comparative order had been secured, a higher standard of association gradually came to prevail. Differences of conviction and interest among individuals and classes, which formerly were suppressed or ignored, could no longer be considered either as so dangerous to public safety as to demand suppression or as so insignificant as to justify indifference. Effective association began to demand, that is, a new adjustment among the individual and class interests, traditions, and convictions which constituted the substance of any particular state; and such an adjustment could be secured only by an adequate machinery of consultation and discussion. Cohesion could no longer be imposed upon a people, because they no longer had any sufficient reason to submit to the discipline of such an imposition. It had to be reached by an enlarged area of political association, by the full expression of individual and class differences, and finally by the proper adjustment of those differences in relation to the general interest of the whole community.
As soon as any European state attained, by whatever means, a representative government, it began to be more of a nation, and to obtain the advantages of a more nationalized political organization. England's comparative domestic security enabled her to become more of a nation sooner than any of her continental neighbors; and her national efficiency forced the French to cultivate their latent power of national association. In France the government finally succeeded in becoming nationally representative without much assistance from any regular machinery of representation; but under such conditions it could not remain representative. One of its defects as a nation to-day is its lack of representative institutions to which Frenchmen have been long accustomed and which command some instinctive loyalty. Stimulated by French and English example, the other European states finally understood that some form or degree of popular representation was essential to national cohesion; and little by little they have been grafting representative institutions upon their traditional political structures. Thus the need of political and social cohesion was converted into a principle of constructive national reform. A nation is more or less of a nation according as its members are more or less capable of effective association; and the great object of a genuinely national domestic policy is that of making such association candid, loyal, and fruitful. Loyal and fruitful association is far from demanding mere uniformity of purpose and conviction on the part of those associated. On the contrary it gains enormously from a wide variety of individual differences,—but with the essential condition that such differences do not become factious in spirit and hostile to the utmost freedom of intercourse. But the only way of mitigating factiousness and misunderstanding is by means of some machinery of mutual consultation, which may help to remedy grievances and whose decision shall determine the political action taken in the name of the whole community. The national principle, that is, which is precisely the principle of loyal and fruitful political association, depends for its vitality upon the establishment and maintenance of a constructive relation between the official political organization and policy and the interests, the ideas, and the traditions of the people as a whole. The nations of Europe, much as they suffered from the French Revolution and disliked it, owe to the insurgent French democracy their effective instruction in this political truth.
It follows, however, that there is no universal and perfect machinery whereby loyal and fruitful national association can be secured. The nations of Europe originated in local political groups, each of which possessed its own peculiar interests, institutions, and traditions. Their power of fruitful national association depended more upon loyalty to their particular local political tradition and habits than upon any ideal perfection in their new and experimental machinery for distributing political responsibility and securing popular representation. A national policy and organization is, consequently, essentially particular; and, what is equally important, its particular character is partly determined by the similarly special character of the policy and organization of the surrounding states. The historical process in which each of the European nations originated included, as an essential element, the action and reaction of these particular states one upon the other. Each nation was formed, that is, as part of a political system which included other nations. As any particular state became more of a nation, its increasing power of effective association forced its neighbors either into submission or into an equally efficient exercise of national resistance. Little by little it has been discovered that any increase in the loyalty and fertility of a country's domestic life was contingent upon the attainment of a more definite position in the general European system; and that, on the other hand, any attempt to escape from the limitations imposed upon a particular state by the general system was followed by a diminished efficiency in its machinery of national association.
The full meaning of these general principles can, perhaps, be best explained by the consideration in relation thereto of the existing political condition of the foremost European nations—Great Britain, France, and Germany. Each of these special cases will afford an opportunity of exhibiting a new and a significant variation of the relation between the principles of nationality and the principles of democracy; and together they should enable us to reach a fairly complete definition of the extent to which, in contemporary Europe, any fruitful relation can be established between them. What has already been said sufficiently indicates that the effective realization of a national principle, even in Europe, demands a certain infusion of democracy; but it also indicates that this democratic infusion cannot at any one time be carried very far without impairing the national integrity. How far, then, in these three decisive cases has the democratic infusion been carried and what are the consequences, the promise, and the dangers of each experiment?
NATIONALITY AND DEMOCRACY IN ENGLAND
It has already been observed that England was the first European state both in mediæval and modern times to reach a high degree of national efficiency. At a period when the foreign policies of the continental states were exclusively but timidly dynastic, and when their domestic organizations illustrated the disadvantages of a tepid autocracy, Great Britain had entered upon a foreign policy of national colonial expansion and was building up a representative national domestic organization. After several centuries of revolutionary disturbance the English had regained their national balance, without sacrificing any of the time-honored elements in their national life. The monarchy was reconstituted as the symbol of the national integrity and as the crown of the social system. The hereditary aristocracy, which was kept in touch with the commoners because its younger sons were not noble and which was national, if not liberal, in spirit, became the real rulers of England; but its role was supplemented by an effective though limited measure of general representation. This organization was perfected in the nineteenth century. Little by little the area of popular representation was enlarged, until it included almost the whole adult male population; and the government became more and more effectively controlled by national public opinion. As a result of this slowly gathering but comprehensive plan of national organization, the English have become more completely united in spirit and purpose than are the people of any other country. The crown and the aristocracy recognize the limitations of their positions and their inherited responsibilities to the gentry and the people. The commoners on their side are proud of their lords and of the monarchy and grant them full confidence. It is a unique instance of mutual loyalty and well-distributed responsibility among social classes, differing widely in station, occupations, and wealth; and it is founded upon habit of joint consultation, coupled, as the result of the long persistence of this habit, with an unusual similarity of intellectual and moral outlook.
The result, until recently, was an exceptional degree of national efficiency; and in scrutinizing this national efficiency the fact must be faced that the political success of Great Britain has apparently been due, not merely to her adoption of the practice of national representation, but to her abhorrence of any more subversive democratic ideas. On the one hand, the British have organized a political system which is probably more sensitively and completely responsive to a nationalized public opinion than is the political system of the American democracy. On the other hand, this same nationalized political organization is aristocratic to the core—aristocratic without scruple or qualification. What is the effect of this aristocratic organization upon the efficiently and fertility of the English political system? Has it contributed in the past to such efficiency? Does it still contribute? And if so, how far?
The power of the English aristocracy is no doubt to be justified, in part, by the admirable service which has been rendered to the country by the nobility and the gentry. During the eighteenth and a part of the nineteenth centuries the political leadership of the English people was on the whole both efficient and edifying. During all this period their continental competitors were either burdened with autocratic obscurantism or else were weakened by civil struggles and the fatal consequences of military aggression. In the meantime Great Britain pursued a comparatively tranquil course of domestic reform and colonial and industrial expansion. She was the European Power whose political and industrial energies were most completely liberated and most successfully used; and as a consequence she naturally drifted into an extremely self-satisfied state of mind in respect to her political and economic organization and policy. But during the last quarter of the nineteenth century political and economic conditions both began to change. The more important competing nations had by that time overcome their internal disorders, and by virtue of their domestic reforms had released new springs of national energy. Great Britain had to face much severer competition in the fields both of industrial and colonial expansion; and during all of these years she has been losing ground. Her expansion has not entirely ceased; but industrially she is being left behind by Germany and by the United States, and her recent colonial acquisitions have been attained only at an excessive cost. Inasmuch as she has succeeded in retaining her relative superiority on the sea, she has maintained her special position in the European political system; but the relatively greater responsibilities of the future coupled with her relatively smaller resources make her future international standing dubious. It looks as if there might be something lacking in the national organization and policy with which Great Britain has been so completely content.
Many Englishmen recognize that their national organization has diminished in efficiency, and they are considering various methods of meeting the emergency. But to an outsider it does not look as if any remedy, as yet seriously proposed, was really adequate. The truth is, that the existing political, social, and economic organization of Great Britain both impairs and misleads the energy of the people. It was adequate to the economic and political conditions of two generations ago, but it is at the present time becoming more and more inadequate. It is inferior in certain essential respects to the economic and political organization of Great Britain's two leading competitors—Germany and the United States. It is lacking in purpose. It is lacking in brains. It is lacking in faith.
Just as Great Britain benefited enormously during a century and a half from her political precocity, so she is now suffering from the consequences thereof. The political temperament of her people, their method of organization, and their national ideals all took form at a time when international competition for colonies and trade was not very sharp, and when democracy had no philosophic or moral standing. At the beginning of the eighteenth century the country was longing for domestic peace, and it was willing to secure peace at any price save that of liberty. The leadership of the landed aristocracy and gentry secured to the British people domestic peace and civil liberty, and in return for these very great blessings they sold themselves to the privileged classes. These privileged classes have probably deserved their privileges more completely than has the aristocracy of any other country. They have been patriotic; they have shed their blood and spent their money on what they believed to be the national welfare; they introduced an honorable and an admirable esprit de corps into the English public service; and they have been loyal to the great formative English political idea—the idea of liberty. They have granted to the people from time to time as much liberty as public opinion demanded, and have in this way maintained to the present day their political and social prestige. But although they have been, on the whole, individually disinterested, they have not been and they could not be disinterested as a class. Owning as they did much of the land, they had as a class certain economic interests. Possessing as they did certain special privileges, they had as a class certain political interests. These interests have been scrupulously preserved, no matter whether they did or did not conflict with the national interest. Their landed proprietorship has resulted in certain radical inequalities of taxation and certain grave economic drawbacks. Their position as a privileged class made them hospitable only to those reforms which spared their privileges. But their privileges could not be spared, provided Englishmen allowed rational ideas any decisive influence in their political life; and the consequence of this abstention from ideas was the gradual cultivation of a contempt for intelligence, an excessive worship of tradition, and a deep-rooted faith in the value of compromise. In the interest of domestic harmony they have identified complacent social subserviency with the virtue of loyalty, and have erected compromise into an ultimate principle of political action.
The landed aristocracy and gentry of England have been obliged to face only one serious crisis—the prolonged crisis occasioned by the transformation of Great Britain from an agricultural to an industrial community. The way the English privileged classes preserved their political leadership during a period, in which land was ceasing to be the source of Great Britain's economic prosperity, is an extraordinary illustration of their political tact and social prestige. But it must be added that their leadership has been preserved more in name than in substance. The aristocracy managed to keep its prestige and its apparent power during the course of the industrial revolution, but only on condition of the abandonment of the substance thereof. The nobility and the gentry became the privileged servants of the rising middle class. They bought off their commercial and industrial conquerors with the concession of free trade, because at the time such a concession did not seem to injure their own interests; and they agreed to let the English business man practically dictate the national policy. In this way they preserved their political and social privileges and have gradually so identified the interests of the well-to-do middle class with their interest that the two have become scarcely distinguishable. The aristocracy of privilege and the aristocracy of wealth are absolutely united in their devotion to the existing political organization and policy of the United Kingdom.
This bargain appeared to work very well for a while; but indications are accumulating that a let-alone economic policy has not preserved the vitality of the British economic system. The English farmer has lost ambition, and has been sacrificed to the industrial growth of the nation, while the industrial growth itself no longer shows its former power of expansion. The nation passed the responsibility for its economic welfare on to the individual; and the individual with all his energy and initiative seems unable to hold his own against better organized competition. Its competitors have profited by the very qualities which Great Britain renounced when she accepted the anti-national liberalism of the Manchester school. They have shown under widely different conditions the power of nationalizing their economic organization; and in spite of the commission of many errors, particularly in this country, a system of national economy appears to make for a higher level of economic vitality than a system of international economy. "At the present time," says Mr. O. Elzbacher in his "Modern Germany," "when other nations are no longer divided against themselves, but have become homogeneous unified nations in fact and nations in organization, and when the most progressive nations have become gigantic institutions for self-improvement and gigantic business concerns on coöperative principles, the spasmodic individual efforts of patriotic and energetic Englishmen and their unorganized individual action prove less efficient for the good of their country than they were formerly." The political leaders of England abandoned, that is, all leadership in economic affairs and allowed a merely individualistic liberalism complete control of the fiscal and economic policy of the country. The government resigned economic responsibility at the very time when English economic interests began to need vigilant protection and promotion; and as a consequence of this resignation the English governing class practically surrendered its primary function. What seemed to be an easy transferal to more competent shoulders of the national responsibility for the economic welfare of the country has proved to be a betrayal of the national interest.
Fiscal reform alone will, however, never enable Great Britain to compete more vigorously with either the United States or Germany. The diminished economic vitality of England must be partly traced to her tradition of political and social subserviency, which serves to rob both the ordinary and the exceptional Englishmen of energy and efficiency. American energy, so far as it is applied to economic tasks, is liberated not merely by the abundance of its opportunities, but by the prevailing idea that every man should make as much of himself as he can; and in obedience to this idea the average American works with all his might towards some special personal goal. The energy of the average Englishman, on the other hand, is impaired by his complacent acceptance of positions of social inferiority and by his worship of degrading social distinctions; and even successful Englishmen suffer from a similar handicap. The latter rarely push their business successes home, because they themselves immediately begin to covet a place in the social hierarchy, and to that end are content with a certain established income. The pleasure which the average Englishman seems to feel in looking up to the "upper classes" is only surpassed by the pleasure which the exceptional Englishman seems to feel in looking down on the "lower classes." Englishmen have always congratulated themselves because their nobility was not a caste; but the facts that the younger sons of the peers are commoners, and that a distinguished commoner may earn a peerage, only makes the poison of these arbitrary social discriminations the more deadly. An Englishman always has a chance of winning an irrelevant but very gratifying social and political privilege. He may by acceptable services of the ordinary kind become as good as a lord. Some such ambition is nearly always the end to which the energy of the successful Englishman is directed, and its particular nature hinders him from realizing the special purpose of his own life with an unimpeded will.
The net result of the English system is to infect English social, political, military, and industrial life with social favoritism, and the poison of the infection is only mitigated by the condition that the "favorites" must deserve their selection by the maintenance of a certain standard. This standard was formed a good many years ago when the conditions of efficiency were not so exacting as they are to-day. At that time it was a sufficiently high standard and made, on the whole, for successful achievement. It demanded of the "favorite" that he be honest, patriotic, well-educated, gentlemanly, courageous, and a "good sort," but it wholly failed to demand high special training, intense application, unremitting energy, or any exclusive devotion to one's peculiar work. If an Englishman comes up to the regular standard, he can usually obtain his share of the good things of English life; but if he goes beyond, he falls under the social disqualification of being abnormal and peculiar. The standard, consequently, is not now an efficient standard; and it is frequently applied with some laxity to the members of the privileged classes. A tacit conspiracy naturally exists among people in such a position to make it easy for their associates, friends, and relatives. The props and chances offered to a boy born into this class make the very most of his probably moderate deserts and abilities, and in occupying a position of responsibility he inevitably displaces a more competent substitute. In our own country the enjoyment of such political favors is known as a "pull," and is a popular but disreputable method of political advancement, whereas in England the whole social, and a large part of the political, structure is constituted on the basis of a systematic and hereditary "pull." The spirit thereof is highly honored in the most sacred precincts of English life. It is supported heartily and unscrupulously by English public opinion, and its critics are few and insignificant.
When Englishmen come to understand the need of dissociating their national idea from its existing encumbrances of political privilege and social favoritism, they will be confronted by a reconstructive task of peculiar difficulty. The balance of the national life, which has been so slowly and painfully recovered, will be endangered by the weakening of any of its present supports. For centuries the existing system has been wrought with the utmost patience and patriotism; and an Englishman may well shudder at the notion of any essential modification. The good of the system is so mixed with the evil that it seems impossible to extricate and eradicate the latter without endangering English national cohesion. Their traditional faith in compromise, their traditional dread of ideas, their traditional habit of acting first and reasoningafterwards, has made the English system a hopelessly confused bundle of semi-efficiency and semi-inefficiency—just as it has made the best English social type a gentleman, but a gentleman absolutely conditioned, tempered, and supplemented by a flunky.
While the process of becoming more of a democracy may very well injure—at any rate for a while—English national consistency, England's future as a nation is compromised by her fear of democracy. She has built her national organization on the idea that the national welfare is better promoted by a popular loyalty which entails popular immobility, than by the exercise on the part of the people of a more individual and less subservient intellectual and moral energy. In so doing she has for the time being renounced one of the greatest advantages of a national political and social organization—the advantage of combining great popular energy with loyalty and fertility of association. No doubt certain nations, because of their perilous international situation, may be obliged to sacrifice the moral and economic individuality of the people to the demands of political security and efficiency. But Great Britain suffered from no such necessity. After the fall of Napoleon, she was more secure from foreign interference than ever before in her history; and she could have afforded, with far less risk than France, to identify her national principle with the work of popular liberation and amelioration. As a matter of fact, the logic of the reform movement which began in England soon after the Treaty of Vienna, required the adoption by England either of more democracy or of less. The privileged classes should either have fought to preserve their peculiar responsibility for the national welfare, or else, if they were obliged to surrender their inherited leadership, they should have also surrendered their political and social privileges. But Englishmen, terrified by the disasters which French democratic nationalism had wrought upon France, preferred domestic harmony to the perils of any radical readjustment of the balance of their national life. The aristocracy and the middle classes compromised their differences; and in the compromise each of them sacrificed the principle upon which the vitality of its action as a class depended, while both of them combined to impose subordination on the mass of the people.
Englishmen have, it is true, always remained faithful to their dominant political idea—the idea of freedom, and the English political and economic system is precisely the example of the ultimate disadvantage of basing national cohesion upon the application of such a limited principle. This principle, as we have seen in the preceding chapter, always operates for the benefit of a minority, whose whole object, after they have once won certain peculiar advantages, is to secure their perpetuation. The wealthy middle class, which at one time was the backbone of the Liberal party, has for the most part gone over to the Conservatives, because its interest has become as much opposed to political and economic egalitarianism as is that of the aristocracy: and the mass of the English people, whose liberation can never be accomplished under the existing régime of political and economic privilege, looks with complacency and awe upon the good time enjoyed by their betters. Popular bondage is the price of national consistency. A century of industrial expansion and over half a century of free trade has left the English people miserably poor and contentedly hopeless; and in the future the people cannot depend upon any increase even of the small share of the benefits of industrial expansion, which they have hitherto obtained, because the national expansion is itself proceeding at a much slower rate. The dole, which is now being accorded in the shape of old-age pensions, may fairly be compared to the free transportation to their homes with which the Bank of Monte Carlo assuages the feelings of its destitute victims. The national organization and policy is so arranged that the majority must lose. The result will be inevitably a diminution of the ability of the United Kingdom to hold its own in competition with its economic and political rivals; and in all probability this pressure from the outside will eventually force the English nation to reconsider the basis of its political and economic organization and policy.
DEMOCRACY AND NATIONALITY IN FRANCE
The recent history and the present position of France illustrate another phase of the interdependence of the national and the democratic principles. The vitality of English national life has been impaired by its identification with an inadequate and aristocratic political principle. In France the effective vitality of the democracy has been very much lowered by certain flaws in the integrity of French national life. France is strong where England is weak and is weak where England is strong; and this divergence of development is by no means accidental. Just because they were the first countries to become effectively nationalized, their action and reaction have been constant and have served at once to develop and distinguish their national temperaments. The English invasions accelerated the growth of the French royal power and weakened domestic resistance to its ambitions. The English revolutions of the seventeenth century made the Bourbons more than ever determined to consolidate the royal despotism and to stamp out Protestantism. The excesses of the French royal despotism brought as a consequence the excesses of the Revolutionary democracy. The Reign of Terror in its turn made Englishmen more than ever suspicious of the application of rational political ideas to the fabric of English society. So the ball was tossed back and forth—the national temperament of each people being at once profoundly modified by this action and reaction and for the same cause profoundly distinguished one from the other. The association has been more beneficial to France than to England, because the French, both before and after the Revolution, really tried to learn something from English political experience, whereas the English have never been able to discover anything in the political experience of their neighbors, except an awful example of the danger of democratic ideas and political and social rationalism.
The ideas of the French democracy were in the beginning revolutionary, disorderly, and subversive of national consistency and good faith. No doubt the French democracy had a much better excuse for identifying democracy with a system of abstract rights and an indiscriminate individualism than had the American democracy. The shadow of the Old Régime hung over the country; and it seemed as if the newly won civil and political rights could be secured only by erecting them into absolute conditions of just political association and by surrounding them with every possible guarantee. Moreover, the natural course of the French democratic development was perverted by foreign interference and a constant condition of warfare; and if the French nation had been allowed to seek its own political salvation without interference, as was this English nation, the French democracy might have been saved many an error and excess. But whatever excuses may be found for the disorders of the French democracy, the temporary effect of the democratic idea upon the national fabric was, undoubtedly, a rending of the roots of their national stability and good feeling. The successive revolutionary explosions, which have constituted so much of French history since 1789, have made France the victim of what sometimes seem to be mutually exclusive conceptions of French national well-being. The democratic radicals are "intransigeant." The party of tradition and authority is "ultramontane." The majority of moderate and sensible people are usually in control; but their control is unstable. The shadow of the Terror and the Commune hangs over every serious crisis in French politics. The radicals jump to the belief that the interests and rights of the people have been betrayed and that the traitors should be exterminated. Good Frenchmen suffer during those crises from an obsession of suspicion and fear. Their mutual loyalty, their sense of fair play, and their natural kindliness are all submerged under a tyranny of desperate apprehension. The social bond is unloosed, and the prudent bourgeois thinks only of the preservation of person and property.
This aspect of the French democracy can, however, easily be over-emphasized and usually is over-emphasized by foreigners. It is undoubtedly a living element in the composition of the contemporary France; but it was less powerful at the time of the Commune than at the time of the Terror, and is less powerful to-day than it was in 1871. French political history in the nineteenth century is not to be regarded as a succession of meaningless revolutions, born of a spirit of reckless and factious insubordination, but as the route whereby a people, inexperienced in self-government, have been gradually traveling towards the kind of self-government best fitted to their needs. It is entirely possible that the existing Republic, modified perhaps for the purpose of obtaining a more independent and a more vigorous executive authority, may in the course of time give France the needed political and social stability. That form of government which was adopted at the time, because it divided Frenchmen the least, may become the form of government which unites Frenchmen by the strongest ties. Bismarck's misunderstanding of the French national character and political needs was well betrayed when he favored a Republic rather than a Legitimist monarchy in France, because a French Republic would, in his opinion, necessarily keep France a weak and divided neighbor. The Republic has kept France divided, but it has been less divided than it would have been under any monarchical government. It has successfully weathered a number of very grave domestic crises; and its perpetuity will probably depend primarily upon its ability to secure and advance by practical means the international standing of France. The Republic has been obliged to meet a foreign peril more prolonged and more dangerous than that which has befallen any French government since 1600. From the time of Richelieu until 1870, France was stronger than any of her continental neighbors. Unless they were united against her she had little to fear from them; and her comparative strength tempted her to be aggressive, careless, and experimental in her foreign policy. That policy was vacillating, purposeless, and frequently wasteful of the national resources. Eventually, it compromised the international position of France. After 1871, for the first time in almost three hundred years, the very safety of France in a time of peace became actively and gravely imperiled. The third Republic reaped the fruit of all the former trifling with the national interest of France and that of its neighbors; and the resulting danger was and is so ominous and so irretrievable that it has made and will make for internal stability. If the Republic can provide for French national defense and can keep for France the position in Europe to which she is entitled, the Republic will probably endure. And in that case it will certainly deserve to endure, because it will have faced and overcome the most exacting possible national peril.
Even the most loyal friend of France can, however, hardly claim that the French democracy is even yet thoroughly nationalized. It has done something to obtain national cohesion at home, and to advance the national interest abroad; but evidences of the traditional dissociation between French democracy and French national efficiency and consistency are still plainly visible. Both the domestic and the foreign policies of the Republic have of late years been weakened by the persistence of a factious and anti-national spirit among radical French democrats.
The most dangerous symptom of this anti-national democracy is that an apparently increasing number of educated Frenchmen are rebelling against the burdens imposed upon the Republic by its perilous international position. They are tending to seek security and relief, not by strengthening the national bond and by loyalty to the fabric of their national life, but by personal disloyalty and national dissolution. The most extreme of democratic socialists do not hesitate to advocate armed rebellion against military service in the interest of international peace. They would fight their fellow-countrymen in order to promote a union with foreigners. How far views of this kind have come to prevail, an outsider cannot very well judge; but they are said to be popular among the school teachers, and to have impaired the discipline of the army itself. Authoritative French journals claim that France cannot afford to run the risk of incurring the ill-will of Germany, even in a good cause, because the country is no longer sure of its military efficiency. There is no present danger of this anti-nationalist democracy capturing control of the French government, as did the revolutionary democracy at an earlier date; but its existence is a source of weakness to a nation whose perilous international situation requires the most absolute patriotic devotion on the part of her sons.
Unfortunately, it is also true that the official domestic policy of the Republic is not informed by a genuinely national spirit. Just as the English national interest demands the temporary loosening of traditional bonds for the sake of securing national cohesion at a smaller sacrifice of popular vitality, so, on the contrary, the French national interest demands more of the English spirit of compromise for the sake of national consistency. The wounds dealt to the integrity of French national life by the domestic conflicts of four generations require binding and healing. The Third Republic has on the whole been more national in its domestic policy than were any of the preceding French governments for over two hundred years; but it has still fallen far short of its duty in that respect. The healing of one wound has always been followed by the opening of another. Irreconcilable differences of opinion still subsist; and they are rarely bridged or dissolved by any fundamental loyalty of patriotic feeling. The French have as yet been unable to find in their democracy any conscious ideal of mutual loyalty which provides a sufficient substitute for a merely instinctive national tradition. They have not yet come to realize that the success of their whole democratic experiment depends upon their ability to reach a good understanding with their fellow-countrymen, and, that just in so far as their democracy fails to be nationally constructive, it is ignoring the most essential condition of its own vitality and perpetuity.
The French democracy is confronted by an economic, as well as a political, problem of peculiar difficulty. The effects of the Revolution were no less important upon the distribution of wealth in France than upon the distribution of political power. The people came into the ownership of the land; and in the course of time the area of this distribution has been increased rather than diminished. Furthermore, the laws under which property in France is inherited have promoted a similarly wide distribution of personal estate. France is a rich country; and its riches are much more evenly divided than is the case in Great Britain, Germany, or the United States. There are fewer large fortunes, and fewer cases of poverty. The average Frenchman is a small, but extremely thrifty proprietor, who abhors speculation and is always managing to add something to his accumulations; and the French economic system is adapted to this peculiar distribution of wealth. The scarcity in France of iron and coal has checked the tendency to industrial organization on a huge scale. The strength of the French industrial system does not consist in the large and efficient use of machinery, but in its multitude of skilled craftsmen and the excellence of their handiwork. In a system of this kind, labor naturally receives a large percentage of the gross product, and a larger proportion of wage-earners reach an independent economic position. At first sight it looks as if France was something like a genuine economic democracy, and ought to escape the evils which threaten other countries from an economic organization, in which concentrated capital plays a more important part.
But the situation is not without another and less favorable aspect. France, in becoming a country of small and extremely thrifty property owners, has also become a country of partial economic parasites with very little personal initiative and energy. Individual freedom has been sacrificed to economic and social equality; and this economic and social equality has not made for national cohesion. The bourgeois, the mechanic, and the farmer, in so far as they have accumulated property, are exhibiting an extremely calculating individualism, of which the most dangerous symptom is the decline in the birth-rate. Frenchmen are becoming more than ever disinclined to take the risks and assume the expense of having more than one or two children. The recent outbreak of anti-militarism is probably merely another illustration of the increasing desire of the French bourgeois for personal security, and the opportunity for personal enjoyment. To a foreigner it looks as if the grave political and social risks, which the French nation has taken since 1789, had gradually cultivated in individual Frenchmen an excessive personal prudence, which adds to the store of national wealth, but which no more conduces to economic, social, and political efficiency than would the incarceration of a fine army in a fortress conduce to military success. A nation or an individual who wishes to accomplish great things must be ready, in Nietsche's phrase, "to lived angerously"—to take those risks, without which no really great achievement is possible; and if Frenchmen persist in erecting the virtue of thrift and the demand for safety into the predominant national characteristic, they are merely beginning a process of national corruption and dissolution.
That any such result is at all imminent, I do not for a moment believe. The time will come when the danger of the present drift will be understood, and will create its sufficient remedy; and all good friends of democracy and human advancement should hope and believe that France will retain indefinitely her national vitality. If she should drift into an insignificant position in relation to her neighbors, a void would be created which it would be impossible to fill and which would react deleteriously upon the whole European system. But such a result is only to be avoided by the general recognition among Frenchmen that the means which they are adopting to render their personal position more secure is rendering their national situation more precarious. The fate of the French democracy is irrevocably tied up with the fate of Frenchnational life, and the best way for a Frenchman to show himself a good democrat is to make those sacrifices and to take those risks necessary for the prestige and welfare of his country.
THE RELATION OF GERMAN NATIONALITY TO DEMOCRACY
The German Empire presents still another phase of the relation between democracy and nationality, and one which helps considerably towards an understanding of the varied possibilities of that relationship. The German national organization and policy was wrought in a manner entirely different from that of either France or England. In the two latter countries political freedom was conquered only as the result of successive revolutions; and the ruling classes were obliged to recognize the source of these political reformations by renouncing all or a large part of their inherited responsibilities. In Germany, on the other hand, or rather in Prussia as the maker of modern Germany, the various changes in the national organization and policy, which have resulted in the founding of a united nation, originated either with the crown or with the royal counselors. The Prussian monarchy has, consequently, passed through the revolutionary period without abandoning its political leadership of the Prussian state. It has created a national representative body; but it has not followed the English example and allowed such a body to tie its hands; and it has remained, consequently, the most completely responsible and representative monarchy in Europe.
Up to the present time this responsibility and power have on the whole been deserved by the manner in which they have been exercised. German nationality as an efficient political and economic force has been wrought by skillful and patriotic management out of materials afforded by military and political opportunities and latent national ties and traditions. During the eighteenth century the Prussian monarchy came to understand that the road to effective political power in Germany was by way of a military efficiency, disproportionate to the resources and population of the Kingdom. In this way it was able to take advantage of almost every important crisis to increase its dominion and its prestige. Neither was Prussian national efficiency built up merely by a well-devised and practicable policy of military aggression. The Prussian monarchy had the good sense to accept the advice of domestic reformers during its period of adversity, and so contributed to the economic liberation and the educational training of its subjects. Thus the modern German nation has been at bottom the work of admirable leadership on the part of officially responsible leaders; and among those leaders the man who planned most effectively and accomplished the greatest results was Otto von Bismarck.
It requires a very special study of European history after 1848 to understand how bold, how original, how comprehensive, and how adequate for their purpose Bismarck's ideas and policy gradually became; and it requires a very special study of Bismarck's own biography to understand that his personal career, with all its transformations, exhibits an equally remarkable integrity. The Bismarck of from 1848 to 1851 is usually described as a country squire, possessed by obscurantist mediæval ideas wholly incompatible with his own subsequent policy. But while there are many superficial contradictions between the country squire of 1848 and the Prussian Minister and German Chancellor, the really peculiar quality of Bismarck's intelligence was revealed in his ability to develop a constructive German national policy out of the prejudices and ideas of a Prussian "junker." Bismarck, in 1848, was primarily an ardent Prussian patriot who believed that the monarchy was divinely authorized to govern the Prussian people, and that any diminution of this responsibility was false in principle and would be baleful in its results. These ideas led him, in 1848, to oppose the constitution, granted by Frederick William IV and to advocate the repression of all revolutionary upheavals. He never essentially departed from these principles; but his experience gradually taught him that they were capable of a different and more edifying application. The point of view from which his policy, his achievements, and his career can best be understood is that of a patriotic Prussian who was exclusively, intelligently, and unscrupulously devoted to the welfare (as he conceived it) of his country and his king. As a loyal Prussian he wished to increase Prussian influence among the other German states, because that was the only way to improve her standing and greatness as a European Power; and he soon realized that Austria constituted the great obstacle to any such increase of Prussian influence. He and he only drew the one sufficient inference from this fact. Inasmuch as Prussia's future greatness and efficiency depended absolutely on the increase of her influence in Germany, and inasmuch as Austria barred her path, Prussia must be prepared to fight Austria, and must make every possible provision, both diplomatic and military, to bring such a war to a successful issue. Such a purpose meant, of course, the abandonment of the policy which Prussia had pursued for a whole generation. The one interest which Bismarck wanted the Prussian government to promote was the Prussian interest, no matter whether that interest meant opposition to the democracy or coöperation therewith; and the important point in the realization of this exclusive policy is that he soon found himself in need of the help of the German democratic movement. His resolute and candid nationalism in the end forced him to enter into an alliance with the very democracy which he had begun by detesting.
It must be admitted, also, that he had in the beginning reason to distrust the Prussian and the German democracy. The German radicals had sought to compass the unification of Germany by passing resolutions and making speeches; but such methods, which are indispensable accessories to the good government of an established national community, were utterly incompetent to remove the obstacles to German unity. These obstacles consisted in the particularism of the German princes, the opposition of Austria, and looming in the background the possible opposition of France; and Bismarck alone thoroughly understood that such obstacles could be removed by war and war only. But in order to wage war successfully, a country must be well-armed; and in the attempt to arm Prussia so that she would be equal to asserting her interests in Germany, Bismarck and the king had to face the stubborn opposition of the Prussian representative assembly. Bismarck did not flinch from fighting the Prussian assembly in the national interest any more than he flinched under different circumstances from calling the German democracy to his aid. When bythis policy, at once bold and cautious, of Prussian aggrandizement, he had succeeded in bringing about war with Austria, he fearlessly announced a plan of partial unification, based upon the supremacy of Prussia and a national parliament elected by universal suffrage; and after the defeat of Austria, he successfully carried this plan into effect. It so happened that the special interest of Prussia coincided with the German national interest. It was Prussia's effective military power which defeated Austria and forced the princes to abate their particularist pretensions. It was Prussia's comparatively larger population which made Bismarck insist that the German nation should be an efficient popular union rather than a mere federation of states. And it was Bismarck's experience with the anti-nationalism "liberalism" of the Prussian assembly, elected as it was by a very restricted suffrage, which convinced him that the national interest could be as well trusted to the good sense and the patriotism of the whole people as to the special interests of the "bourgeoisie." Thus little by little the fertile seed of Bismarck's Prussian patriotism grew into a German semi-democratic nationalism, and it achieved this transformation without any essential sacrifice of its own integrity. He had been working in Prussia's interest throughout, but he saw clearly just where the Prussian interest blended with the German national interest, and just what means, whether by way of military force or popular approval, were necessary for the success of his patriotic policy.
When the Prussian Minister-President became the Imperial Chancellor, he pursued in the larger field a similar purpose by different means. The German national Empire had been founded by means of the forcible coercion of its domestic and foreign opponents. It remained now to organize and develop the new national state; and the government, under Bismark's lead, made itself responsible for the task of organization and development, just as it had made itself responsible for the task of unification. According to the theories of democratic individualistic "liberalism," such an effort could only result in failure, because from the liberal point of view the one way to develop a modern industrial nation was simply to allow the individual every possible liberty. But Bismarck's whole scheme of national industrial organization looked in a very different direction. He believed that the nation itself, as represented by its official leaders, should actively assist in preparing an adequate national domestic policy, and in organizing the machinery for its efficient execution. He saw clearly that the logic and the purpose of the national type of political organization was entirely different from that of a so-called free democracy, as explained in the philosophy of the German liberals of 1848, the Manchester school in England, or our own Jeffersonian Democrats; and he successfully transformed his theory of responsible administrative activity into a comprehensive national policy. The army was, if anything, increased in strength, so that it might remain fully adequate either for national defense or as an engine of German international purposes. A beginning was made toward the creation of a navy. A moderate but explicit protectionist policy was adopted, aimed not at the special development either of rural or manufacturing industries, but at the all-round development of Germany as an independent national economic unit. In Prussia itself the railways were bought by the government, so that they should be managed, not in the interest of the shareholders, but in that of the national economic system. The government encouraged the spread of bettor farming methods, which have resulted in the gradual increase in the yield per acre of every important agricultural staple. The educational system of the country was made of direct assistance to industry, because it turned out skilled scientific experts, who used their knowledge to promote industrial efficiency. In every direction German activity was organized and was placed under skilled professional leadership, while at the same time each of these special lines of work was subordinated to its particular place in a comprehensive scheme of national economy. This "paternalism" has, moreover, accomplished its purpose. German industrial expansion surpasses in some respects that of the United States, and has left every European nation far behind. Germany alone among the modern European nations is, in spite of the temporary embarrassment of Imperial finance, carrying the cost of modern military preparation easily, and looks forward confidently to greater successes in the future. She is at the present time a very striking example of what can be accomplished for the popular welfare by a fearless acceptance on the part of the official leaders of economic as well as political responsibility, and by the efficient and intelligent use of all available means to that end.
Inevitably, however, Germany is suffering somewhat from the excess of her excellent qualities. Her leaders were not betrayed by the success of their foreign and domestic policies to attempt the immediate accomplishment of purposes, incommensurate with the national power and resources; but they were tempted to become somewhat overbearing in their attitude toward their domestic and foreign opponents. No doubt a position which was conquered by aggressive leadership must be maintained by aggressive leadership; and no doubt, consequently, the German Imperial Power could not well avoid the appearance and sometimes the substance of being domineering. But the consequence of the Bismarckian tradition of bullying and browbeating one's opponents has been that of intensifying the opposition to the national policy and of compromising its success. France has been able to escape from the isolation in which she was long kept by Bismarck after the war, and has gradually built up a series of understandings with other Powers, more or less inimical to Germany. The latter's standing in Europe is not as high as it was ten years ago, in spite of the increased relative efficiency of her army, her navy, and her economic system. Moreover, an equally serious and dangerous opposition has been created at home. The government has not succeeded in retaining the loyal support of a large fraction of the German people. A party which is composed for the most part of workingmen, and which has been increasing steadily in the number of its adherents, is utterly opposed to the present policy and organization of the Imperial government; and those Social Democrats have for the most part been treated by the authorities with repressive laws and abusive epithets. Thus a schism is being created in the German national system which threatens to become a source of serious weakness to the national efficiency and strength.
That the existence of some such domestic opposition is to a certain extent unavoidable must be admitted. A radical incompatibility exists between the national policy of the Imperial and Prussian governments and the Social Democratic programme; and the Imperial authorities could not conciliate the Social Democrats without abandoning the peculiar organization and policy which have been largely so responsible for the extraordinary increase in the national well-being. On the other hand, it must also be remembered that the Prussian royal power has maintained its nationally representative character and its responsible leadership quite as much by its ability to meet legitimate popular grievances and needs as by its successful foreign policy. The test of German domestic statesmanship hereafter will consist in its ability to win the support of the industrial democracy, created by the industrial advance of the country, without impairing the traditional and the existing practice of expert and responsible leadership. The task is one of extreme difficulty, but it is far from being wholly impossible, because the Social Democratic party in Germany is every year becoming less revolutionary and more national in its outlook. But at present little attempt is being made at conciliation; and the attitude of the ruling classes is such that in the near future none is likely to be made. In this respect they are false to the logic of the origin of German political unity. The union was accomplished with the assistance of the democracy and on a foundation of universal suffrage. As Germany has become more of a nation, the democracy has acquired more substantial power; but its increase in numbers and weight has not been accompanied by any increase of official recognition. The political organization of Germany is consequently losing touch with those who represent one essential aspect of the national growth. It behooves the ruling classes to tread warily, or they may have to face a domestic opposition more dangerous than any probable foreign opposition.
The situation is complicated by the dubious international standing of the German Empire. She is partly surrounded by actual and possible enemies, against whom she can make headway only by means of continuous vigilance and efficient leadership; while at the same time her own national ambitions still conflict in some measure with the interests of her neighbors. Her official foreign policy since 1872 has undoubtedly been determined by the desire to maintain the peace of Europe under effective guarantees, because she needed time to consolidate her position and reap the advantages of her increasing industrial efficiency; but both German and European statesmen are none the less very conscious of the fact that the German Empire is the European Power which has most to gain in Europe from a successful war. Some Frenchmen still cherish plans of revenge for 1870; but candid French opinion is beginning to admit that the constantly increasing resources of Germany in men and money make any deliberate policy of that kind almost suicidal. France would lose much more by a defeat than she could gain from a victory, and the fruits of victory could not be permanently held. Italy, also, has no unsatisfied ambition which a war could gratify, except the addition of a few thousand Austrian-Italians to her population. Russia still looks longingly toward Constantinople; but until she has done something to solve her domestic problem and reorganize her finances, she needs peace rather than war. But the past successes of Germany and her new and increasing expansive power tempt her to cherish ambitions which constitute the chief menace to the international stability of Europe. She would have much to lose, but she would also have something to gain from the possible disintegration of Austria-Hungary. She has possibly still more to gain from the incorporation of Holland within the Empire. Her increasing commerce has possessed her with the idea of eventually disputing the supremacy of the sea with Great Britain. And she unquestionably expects to profit in Asia Minor from the possible break-up of the Ottoman Empire. How seriously such ambitions are entertained, it is difficult to say; and it is wholly improbable that more than a small part of this enormous programme of national aggrandizement will ever be realized. But when Germany has the chance of gaining and holding such advantages as these from a successful war, it is no wonder that she remains the chief possible disturber of the European peace. In her case certainly the fruits of victory look more seductive than the penalties of defeat look dangerous; and the resolute opposition to the partial disarmament, which she has always offered at the Hague Conference, is the best evidence of the unsatisfied nature of her ambitions.
Germany's standing in the European system is, then, very far from being as well-defined as are those of the older nations, like France and Great Britain. The gradual growth of a better understanding between France, Great Britain, and Russia is largely due to an instinctive coalition of those powers who would be most injured by an increase of the German influence and dominion; and the sense that Europe is becoming united against them makes German statesmen more than ever on their guard and more than ever impatient of an embarrassing domestic opposition. Thus Germany's aggressive foreign policy has so far tended to increase the distance between her responsible leaders and the popular party; and there are only two ways in which this schism can be healed. If German foreign policy should continue to be as brilliantly successful as it was in the days of Bismarck, the authorities will have no difficulty in retaining the support of a sufficient majority of the German people—just as the victory over Austria brought King William and Bismarck forgiveness from their parliamentary opponents. On the other hand, any severe setback to Germany in the realization of its aggressive plans would strengthen the domestic opposition and might lead to a severe internal crisis. It all depends upon whether German national policy has or has not overstepped the limits of practical and permanent achievement.
MILITARISM AND NATIONALITY
The foregoing considerations in respect to the existing international situation of Germany bring me to another and final aspect of the relation in Europe between nationality and democracy. One of the most difficult and (be it admitted) one of the most dubious problems raised by any attempt to establish a constructive relationship between those two principles hangs on the fact that hitherto national development has not apparently made for international peace. The nations of Europe are to all appearances as belligerent as were the former European dynastic states. Europe has become a vast camp, and its governments are spending probably a larger proportion of the resources of their countries for military and naval purposes than did those of the eighteenth century. How can these warlike preparations, in which all the European nations share, and the warlike spirit which they have occasionally displayed, be reconciled with the existence of any constructive relationship between the national and the democratic ideas?
The question can best be answered by briefly reviewing the claims already advanced on behalf of the national principle. I have asserted from the start that the national principle was wholly different in origin and somewhat different in meaning from the principle of democracy. What has been claimed for nationality is, not that it can be identified with democracy, but that as a political principle it remained unsatisfied without an infusion of democracy. But the extent to which this infusion can go and the forms which it takes are determined by a logic and a necessity very different from that of an absolute democratic theory. National politics have from the start aimed primarily at efficiency—that is, at the successful use of the force resident in the state to accomplish the purposes desired by the Sovereign authority. Among the group of states inhabited by Christian peoples it has gradually been discovered that the efficient use of force is contingent in a number of respects upon its responsible use; and that its responsible use means a limited policy of external aggrandizement and a partial distribution of political power and responsibilities. A national polity, however, always remains an organization based upon force. In internal affairs it depends at bottom for its success not merely upon public opinion, but, if necessary, upon the strong arm. It is a matter of government and coercion as well as a matter of influence and persuasion. So in its external relations its standing and success have depended, and still depend, upon the efficient use of force, just in so far as force is demanded by its own situation and the attitudes of its neighbors and rivals. The democrats who disparage efficient national organization are at bottom merely seeking to exorcise the power of physical force in human affairs by the use of pious incantations and heavenly words. That they will never do. The Christian warrior must accompany the evangelist; and Christians are not by any means angels. It is none the less true that the modern nations control the expenditure of more force in a more responsible manner than have any preceding political organizations; and it is none the less true that a further development of the national principle will mean in the end the attachment of still stricter responsibilities to the use of force both in the internal and external policies of modern nations.
War may be and has been a useful and justifiable engine of national policy. It is justifiable, moreover, not merely in such a case as our Civil War, in which a people fought for their own national integrity. It was, I believe, justifiable, in the case of the two wars which preceded the formation of the modern German Empire. These wars may, indeed, be considered as decisive instances. Prussia did not drift into them, as we drifted into the Civil War. They were deliberately provoked by Bismarck at a favorable moment, because they were necessary to the unification of the German people under Prussian leadership; and I do not hesitate to say that he can be justified in the assumption of this enormous responsibility. The German national organization means increased security, happiness, and opportunity of development for the whole German people; and inasmuch as the selfish interests of Austria and France blocked the path, Bismarck had his sufficient warrant for a deliberately planned attack. No doubt such an attack and its results injured France and the French people just as it has benefited Germany; but France had to suffer that injury as a penalty for the part she had as a matter of policy played in German affairs. For centuries a united France had helped to maintain for her own purposes a divided Germany; and when Germany herself became united, it was inevitable, as Bismarck foresaw in 1848, that French opposition must be forcibly removed, and some of the fruits of French aggression be reclaimed. That the restitution demanded went further than was necessary, I fully believe; but the partial abuse of victory does not diminish the legitimacy of the German aggression. A war waged for an excellent purpose contributes more to human amelioration than a merely artificial peace,—such as that established by the Holy Alliance. The unification of Germany and Italy has not only helped to liberate the energies of both the German and the Italian people, but it has made the political divisions of Europe conform much more nearly to the lines within which the people of Europe can loyally and fruitfully associate one with another. In fact, the whole national movement, if it has increased the preparations for war, has diminished in number of probable causes thereof; and it is only by diminishing the number of causes whereby a nation has more to gain from victory than it has to lose by defeat that war among the civilized powers can be gradually extinguished.
At the present time it is, as we have seen, the international situation and the national ambitions of Russia and Germany which constitute the chief threat to European peace. Germany's existing position in Europe depends upon its alliance with Austria-Hungary. The Habsburg Empire is an incoherent and unstable state which is held together only by dynastic ties and external pressure. The German, the Austrian, and the Hungarian interests all demand the perpetuation of the Habsburg dominion; but it is doubtful whether in the long run its large Slavic population will not combine with its blood neighbors to break the bond. But whether the German, Austrian, and Hungarian interest does or does not prevail, the fundamental national interests, which are compromised by the precarious stability of Austria-Hungary, are alone sufficient to make disarmament impossible. Disarmament means the preservation of Europe in its existing condition; and such a policy, enforced by means of international guarantees, would be almost as inimical to the foundation of a permanent and satisfactory international system now as it was in 1820. The fact has to be recognized that the ultimate object of a peaceable and stable European international situation cannot in all probability be reached without many additional wars; and the essential point is that these wars, when they come, should, like the wars between Austria or France and Prussia, or like our Civil War, be fought to accomplish a desirable purpose and should be decisive in result.
Modern conflicts between efficiently organized nations tend to obtain just this character. They are fought for a defensible purpose, and they accomplish a definite result. The penalties of defeat are so disastrous that warfare is no longer wantonly incurred; and it will not be provoked at all by nations, such as Italy or France, who have less to gain from victory than they have to lose from defeat. Moreover, the cost of existing armaments is so crushing that an ever increasing motive exists in favor of their ultimate reduction. This motive will not operate as long as the leading Powers continue to have unsatisfied ambitions which look practicable; but eventually it will necessarily have its effect. Each war, as it occurs, even if it does not finally settle some conflicting claims, will most assuredly help to teach the warring nations just how far they can go, and will help, consequently, to restrict its subsequent policy within practicable and probably inoffensive limits. It is by no means an accident that England and France, the two oldest European nations, are the two whose foreign policies are best defined and, so far as Europe is concerned, least offensive. For centuries these Powers fought and fought, because one of them had aggressive designs which apparently or really affected the welfare of the other; but the result of this prolonged rivalry has been a constantly clearer understanding of their respective national interests. Clear-headed and moderate statesmen like Talleyrand recognized immediately after the Revolution that the substantial interests of a liberalized France in Europe were closely akin to those of Great Britain, and again and again in the nineteenth century this prophecy was justified. Again and again the two Powers were brought together by their interests only to be again divided by a tradition of antagonism and misunderstanding. At present, however, they are probably on better terms than ever before in the history of their relations; and this result is due to the definite and necessarily unaggressive character of their European interests. They have finally learned the limits of their possible achievement and could transgress them only by some act of folly.
In the course of another fifty years the limits of possible aggression by Germany and Russia in Europe will probably be very much better defined than they are to-day. These two Powers will seek at the favorable moment to accomplish certain aggressive purposes which they secretly or openly entertain, and they will succeed or fail. Each success or failure will probably be decisive in certain respects, and will remove one or more existing conflicts of interest or ambiguities of position. Whether this progressive specification of the practicable foreign policies of the several Powers will soon or will ever go so far as to make some general international understanding possible, is a question which no man can answer; but as long as the national principle retains its vitality, there is no other way of reaching a permanent and fruitful international settlement. That any one nation, or any small group of nations, can impose its dominion upon Europe is contrary to every lesson of European history. Such a purpose would be immeasurably beyond the power even of 90,000,000 Germans or 150,000,000 Russians, or even beyond the power of 90,000,000 Germans allied with 150,000,000 Russians. Europe is capable of combining more effectually than ever before to resist any possible revival of imperialism; and the time will come when Europe, threatened by the aggression of any one domineering Power, can call other continents to her assistance. The limits to the possible expansion of any one nation are established by certain fundamental and venerable political conditions. The penalties of persistent transgression would be not merely a sentence of piracy similar to that passed on Napoleon I, but a constantly diminishing national vitality on the part of the aggressor. As long as the national principle endures, political power cannot be exercised irresponsibly without becoming inefficient and sterile.
Inimical as the national principle is to the carrying out either of a visionary or a predatory foreign policy in Europe, it does not imply any similar hostility to a certain measure of colonial expansion. In this, as in many other important respects, the constructive national democrat must necessarily differ from the old school of democratic "liberals." A nationalized democracy is not based on abstract individual rights, no matter whether the individual lives in Colorado, Paris, or Calcutta. Its consistency is chiefly a matter of actual historical association in the midst of a general Christian community of nations. A people that lack the power of basing their political association on an accumulated national tradition and purpose is not capable either of nationality or democracy; and that is the condition of the majority of Asiatic and African peoples. A European nation can undertake the responsibility of governing these politically disorganized societies without any necessary danger to its own national life. Such a task need not be beyond its physical power, because disorganized peoples have a comparatively small power of resistance, and a few thousand resolute Europeans can hold in submission many million Asiatics. Neither does it conflict with the moral basis of a national political organization, because at least for a while the Asiatic population may well be benefited by more orderly and progressive government. Submission to such a government is necessary as a condition of subsequent political development. The majority of Asiatic and African communities can only got a fair start politically by some such preliminary process of tutelage; and the assumption by a European nation of such a responsibility in a desirable phase of national discipline and a frequent source of genuine national advance.
Neither does an aggressive colonial policy make for unnecessary or meaningless wars. It is true, of course, that colonial expansion increases the number of possible occasions for dispute among the expanding nations; but these disputes have the advantage of rarely turning on questions really vital to the future prosperity of a European nation. They are just the sort of international differences of interest which ought to be settled by arbitration or conciliation, because both of the disputants have so much more to lose by hostilities than they have to gain by military success. A dispute turning upon a piece of African territory would, if it waxed into war, involve the most awful and dangerous consequences in Europe. The danger of European wars, except for national purposes of prime importance, carries its consequence into Africa and Asia. France, for instance, was very much irritated by the continued English occupation of Egypt in spite of certain solemn promises of evacuation; and the expedition of Marchand, which ended in the Fashoda incident, indirectly questioned the validity of the British occupation of Egypt by making that occupation strategically insecure. In spite, however, of the deliberate manner in which France raised this question and of the highly irritated condition of French public opinion, she could not, when the choice had to be made, afford the consequences of a Franco-English war. In the end she was obliged to seek compensation elsewhere in Africa and abandon her occupation of Fashoda. This incident is typical; and it points directly to the conclusion that wars will very rarely occur among European nations over disputes as to colonies, unless the political situation in Europe is one which itself makes war desirable or inevitable. A Bismarck could handle a Fashoda incident so as to provoke hostilities, but in that case Fashoda, like the Hohenzollern candidacy in Spain, would be a pretext, not a cause. The one contemporary instance in which a difference of colonial interests has caused a great war is the recent conflict between Russia and Japan; and in this instance the issues raised by the dispute were essentially different from the issues raised by a dispute over a colonial question between two European nations. The conflict of interests turned upon matter essential to the future prosperity of Japan, while at the same time the war did not necessarily involve dangerous European complications.
The truth is that colonial expansion by modern national states is to be regarded, not as a cause of war, but as a safety-valve against war. It affords an arena in which the restless and adventurous members of a national body can have their fling without dangerous consequences, while at the same time it satisfies the desire of a people for some evidence of and opportunity for national expansion. The nations which, one after another, have recognized the limits of their expansion in Europe have been those which have adopted a more or less explicit policy of colonial acquisition. Spain was, indeed, a great colonial power at a time when her policy in Europe continued to be aggressive; but her European aggressions soon undermined her national vitality, and her decadence in Europe brought her colonial expansion to a standstill. Portugal and Holland were too small to cherish visions of European aggrandizement, and they naturally sought an outlet in Asia and Africa for their energies. After Great Britain had passed through her revolutionary period, she made rapid advances as a colonial power, because she realized that her insular situation rendered a merely defensive European policy obligatory. France made a failure of her American and Asiatic colonies as long as she cherished schemes of European aggrandizement. Her period of colonial expansion, Algeria apart, did not come until after the Franco-Prussian War and the death of her ambition for a Rhine frontier. Bismarck was opposed to colonial development because he believed that Germany should husband her strength for the preservation and the improvement of her standing in Europe; but Germany's power of expansion demanded some outlet during a period of European rest. Throughout the reign of the present Emperor she has been picking up colonies wherever she could in Asia and Africa; and she cherishes certain plans for the extension of German influence in Asia Minor. It is characteristic of the ambiguous international position of Germany that she alone among the European Powers (except the peculiar case of Russia) is expectant of an increase of power both in Europe and other continents.
In the long run Germany will, like France, discover that under existing conditions an aggressive colonial and aggressive European policy are incompatible. The more important her colonies become and the larger her oceanic commerce, the more Germany lays herself open to injury from a strong maritime power, and the more hostages she is giving for good behavior in Europe. Unless a nation controls the sea, colonies are from a military point of view a source of weakness. The colonizing nation is in the position of a merchant who increases his business by means of a considerable increase of his debts. His use of the borrowed capital may be profitable, but none the less he makes his standing at the time of an emergency much more precarious. In the same way colonies add to the responsibilities of a nation and scatter its military resources; and a nation placed in such a situation is much less likely to break the peace.
The economic and political development of Asia and Africa by the European Powers is in its infancy; and no certain predictions can be made as to its final effects upon the political relations among civilized nations. Many important questions in respect thereto remain ambiguous. What, for instance, are the limits of a practicable policy of colonial expansion? In view of her peculiar economic condition and her threatened decrease in population have those limits been transgressed by France? Have they been transgressed by Great Britain? Considering the enormous increase in British responsibilities imposed by the maritime expansion of Germany, will not Great Britain be obliged to adopt a policy of concentration rather than expansion? Is not her partial retirement from American waters the first step in such a policy? Is not the Japanese alliance a dubious device for the partial shifting of burdens too heavy to bear? How long can Great Britain afford to maintain her existing control of the sea? Is there any way of ending such a control save either by the absolute exhaustion of Great Britain or by the establishment of a stable international system under adequate guarantees? Will the economic development of Asia lead to the awakening of other Asiatic states like Japan, and the re-arrangement of international relations for the purpose of giving them their appropriate places? A multitude of such questions are raised by the transformation which is taking place from a European international system into a political system composed chiefly of European nations, but embracing the whole world; and these questions will prove to be sufficiently difficult of solution. But in spite of the certainty that colonial expansion will in the end merely transfer to a larger area the conflicts of idea and interest whose effects have hitherto chiefly been confined to Europe—in spite of this certainty the process of colonial expansion is a wholly legitimate aspect of national development, and is not necessarily inimical to the advance of democracy. It will not make immediately for a permanent international settlement; but it is accomplishing a work without which a permanent international settlement is impossible; and it indubitably places every colonizing nation in a situation which makes the risk of hostilities dangerous compared to the possible advantages of military success.
The chief object of this long digression, has, I hope, now been achieved. My purpose has been to exhibit the European nations as a group of historic individuals with purposes, opportunities, and limitations analogous to those of actual individuals. An individual has no meaning apart from the society in which his individuality has been formed. A national state is capable of development only in relation to the society of more or less nationalized states in the midst of which its history has been unfolded. The growing and maturing individual is he who comes to take a more definite and serviceable position in his surrounding society,—he who performs excellently a special work adapted to his abilities. The maturing nation is in the same way the nation which is capable of limiting itself to the performance of a practicable and useful national work,—a work which in some specific respect accelerates the march of Christian civilization. There is no way in which a higher type of national life can be obtained without a corresponding individual improvement on the part of its constituent members. There is similarly no way in which a permanently satisfactory system of international relations can be secured, save by the increasing historical experience and effective self-control of related nations. Any country which declares that it is too good (or too democratic) to associate with other nations and share the responsibilities and opportunities resulting from such association is comparable to the individual who declares himself to be too saintly for association with his fellow-countrymen. Whatever a man or a nation gains by isolation, he or it necessarily loses in the discipline of experience with its possible fruits of wisdom and self-control. Association is a condition of individuality. International relations are a condition of nationality. A universal nation is as much a contradiction in terms as a universal individual. A nation seeking to destroy other nations is analogous to a man who seeks to destroy the society in which he was born. Little by little European history has been teaching this lesson; and in the course of time the correlation of national development with the improvement and definition of international relations will probably be embodied in some set of international institutions.
In the meantime the existing rivalries and enmities among European states must not be under-estimated either in their significance or their strength. In a way those rivalries have become more intense than ever before; and it is only too apparent that the many-headed rulers of modern nations are as capable of cherishing personal and national dislikes as were the sovereign kings of other centuries. These rivalries and enmities will not be dissolved by kind words and noble sentiments. The federation of Europe, like the unification of Germany, will never be brought about by congresses and amicable resolutions. It can be effected only by the same old means of blood and iron. The nations will never agree upon a permanent settlement until they have more to gain from peace than from military victory. But such a time will be postponed all the longer unless the nations, like France, Italy, England and the United States, which are at present sincerely desirous of peace, keep as well armed as their more belligerent neighbors. When the tug comes, the issue will depend upon the effective force which such nations, when loyally combined, can exert. It would be fatal, consequently, for the pacific Powers to seek to establish peace by a partial diminution of their military efficiency. Such an action would merely encourage the belligerent Powers to push their aggressive plans to the limit. The former must, on the contrary, keep as well armed as their resources and policy demand. Nationality is impaired and the national principle is violated just as soon as a nation neglects any sort of efficiency which is required either by its international position or by its national purposes.