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What is Coming? by H. G. Wells

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duty have been discussed since then; beyond all comparison we know
better what we are doing. I think the broad side of John Smith (and Sir
John Smith and John Smith, K.C.) will get the better of his narrow
ends--and that so it will be with Jean Dupont and Hans Meyer and the
rest of them. There may be riots here and there; there may be some
pretty considerable rows; but I do not think there is going to be a
chaotic and merely destructive phase in Great Britain or any Western
European country. I cast my guess for reconstruction and not for revolt.


A number of people are saying that this war is to be the end of
Individualism. "Go as you please" has had its death-blow. Out of this
war, whatever else emerges, there will emerge a more highly organised
State than existed before--that is to say, a less individualistic and
more socialistic State. And there seems a heavy weight of probability on
the side of this view. But there are also a number of less obvious
countervailing considerations that may quite possibly modify or reverse
this tendency.

In this chapter an attempt is to be made to strike a balance between the
two systems of forces, and guess how much will be private and how much
public in Europe in 1930, or thereabouts.

The prophets who foretell the coming of Socialism base their case on
three sets of arguments. They point out, first, the failure of
individual enterprise to produce a national efficiency comparable to
the partial State Socialism of Germany, and the extraordinary, special
dangers inherent in private property that the war has brought to light;
secondly, to the scores of approaches to practical Socialism that have
been forced upon Great Britain--for example, by the needs of the war;
and, thirdly, to the obvious necessities that will confront the British
Empire and the Allies generally after the war--necessities that no
unorganised private effort can hope to meet effectively.

All these arguments involve the assumption that the general
understanding of the common interest will be sufficient to override
individual and class motives; an exceedingly doubtful assumption, to say
the least of it. But the general understanding of the common interest is
most likely to be kept alive by the sense of a common danger, and we
have already arrived at the conclusion that Germany is going to be
defeated but not destroyed in this war, and that she will be left with
sufficient vitality and sufficient resentment and sufficient of her
rancid cultivated nationalism to make not only the continuance of the
Alliance after the war obviously advisable and highly probable, but also
to preserve in the general mind for a generation or so that sense of a
common danger which most effectually conduces to the sweeping aside of
merely personal and wasteful claims. Into the consequences of this we
have now to look a little more closely.

It was the weaknesses of Germany that made this war, and not her
strength. The weaknesses of Germany are her Imperialism, her Junkerism,
and her intense, sentimental Nationalism; for the former would have no
German ascendancy that was not achieved by force, and, with the latter,
made the idea of German ascendancy intolerable to all mankind. Better
death, we said. And had Germany been no more than her Court, her
Junkerism, her Nationalism, the whole system would have smashed beneath
the contempt and indignation of the world within a year.

But the strength of Germany has saved her from that destruction. She was
at once the most archaic and modern of states. She was Hohenzollern,
claiming to be Caesar, and flaunting a flat black eagle borrowed from
Imperial Rome; and also she was the most scientific and socialist of
states. It is her science and her Socialism that have held and forced
back the avengers of Belgium for more than a year and a half. If she has
failed as a conqueror, she has succeeded as an organisation. Her
ambition has been thwarted, and her method has been vindicated. She
will, I think, be so far defeated in the contest of endurance which is
now in progress that she will have to give up every scrap of territorial
advantage she has gained; she may lose most of her Colonial Empire; she
may be obliged to complete her modernisation by abandoning her militant
Imperialism; but she will have at least the satisfaction of producing
far profounder changes in the chief of her antagonists than those she
herself will undergo.

The Germany of the Hohenzollerns had its mortal wound at the Marne; the
Germany we fight to-day is the Germany of Krupp and Ostwald. It is
merely as if she had put aside a mask that had blinded her. She was
methodical and civilised except for her head and aim; she will become
entirely methodical. But the Britain and Russia and France she fights
are lands full of the spirit of undefined novelty. They are being made
over far more completely. They are being made over, not in spite of the
war, but because of the war. Only by being made over can they win the
war. And if they do not win the war, then they are bound to be made
over. They are not merely putting aside old things, but they are forming
and organising within themselves new structures, new and more efficient
relationships, that will last far beyond the still remote peace

What this war has brought home to the consciousness of every intelligent
man outside the German system, with such thoroughness as whole
generations of discussion and peace experience could never have
achieved, is a double lesson: that Germany had already gone far to
master when she blundered into the war; firstly, the waste and dangers
of individualism, and, secondly, the imperative necessity of scientific
method in public affairs. The waste and dangers of individualism have
had a whole series of striking exemplifications both in Europe and
America since the war began. Were there such a thing as a Socialist
propaganda in existence, were the so-called socialistic organisations
anything better than a shabby little back-door into contemporary
politics, those demonstrations would be hammering at the mind of
everyone. It may be interesting to recapitulate some of the most salient

The best illustration, perhaps, of the waste that arises out of
individualism is to be found in the extreme dislocation of the privately
owned transit services of Great Britain at the present time. There is no
essential reason whatever why food and fuel in Great Britain should be
considerably dearer than they are under peace conditions. Just the same
home areas are under cultivation, just the same foreign resources are
available; indeed, more foreign supplies are available because we have
intercepted those that under normal conditions would have gone to
Germany. The submarine blockade of Britain is now a negligible factor in
this question.

Despite these patent conditions there has been, and is, a steady
increase in the cost of provisions, coal, and every sort of necessity.
This increase means an increase in the cost of production of many
commodities, and so contributes again to the general scarcity. This is
the domestic aspect of a difficulty that has also its military side. It
is not sufficient merely to make munitions; they must also be delivered,
Great Britain is suffering very seriously from congestion of the
railways. She suffers both in social and military efficiency, and she is
so suffering because her railways, instead of being planned as one great
and simple national distributing system, have grown up under conditions
of clumsy, dividend-seeking competition.

Each great railway company and combination has worked its own areas, and
made difficulties and aggressions at the boundaries of its sphere of
influence; here are inconvenient junctions and here unnecessary
duplications; nearly all the companies come into London, each taking up
its own area of expensive land for goods yards, sidings, shunting
grounds, and each regardless of any proper correlation with the other;
great areas of the County of London are covered with their idle trucks
and their separate coal stores; in many provincial towns you will find
two or even three railway stations at opposite ends of the town; the
streets are blocked by the vans and trolleys of the several companies
tediously handing about goods that could be dealt with at a tenth of the
cost in time and labour at a central clearing-house, did such a thing
exist; and each system has its vast separate staff, unaccustomed to work
with any other staff.

Since the war began the Government has taken over the general direction
of this disarticulated machinery, but no one with eyes who travels about
England now can fail to remark, in the miles and miles of waiting loaded
trucks on every siding, the evidences of mischievous and now almost
insuperable congestion. The trucks of each system that have travelled on
to another still go back, for the most part, _empty_ to their own; and
thousands of privately owned trucks, which carry cargo only one way,
block our sidings. Great Britain wastes men and time to a disastrous
extent in these needless shuntings and handlings.

Here, touching every life in the community, is one instance of the
muddle that arises naturally out of the individualistic method of
letting public services grow up anyhow without a plan, or without any
direction at all except the research for private profit.

A second series of deficiencies that the war has brought to light in the
too individualistic British State is the entire want of connection
between private profit and public welfare. So far as the interests of
the capitalist go it does not matter whether he invests his money at
home or abroad; it does not matter whether his goods are manufactured in
London or Timbuctoo.

But what of the result? At the outbreak of the war Great Britain found
that a score of necessary industries had drifted out of the country,
because it did not "pay" any private person to keep them here. The
shortage of dyes has been amply discussed as a typical case. A much
graver one that we may now write about was the shortage of zinc. Within
a month or so of the outbreak of the war the British Government had to
take urgent and energetic steps to secure this essential ingredient of
cartridge cases. Individualism had let zinc refining drift to Belgium
and Germany; it was the luck rather than the merit of Great Britain that
one or two refineries still existed.

Still more extraordinary things came to light in the matter of the metal
supply. Under an individualistic system you may sell to the highest
bidder, and anyone with money from anywhere may come in and buy. Great
supplies of colonial ores were found to be cornered by semi-national
German syndicates. Supplies were held up by these contracts against the
necessities of the Empire. And this was but one instance of many which
have shown that, while industrial development in the Allied countries is
still largely a squabbling confusion of little short-sighted,
unscientific, private profit-seeking owners, in Germany it has been for
some years increasingly run on far-seeing collectivist lines. Against
the comparatively little and mutually jealous British or American
capitalists and millionaires Germany pits itself as a single great
capitalist and competitor. She has worked everywhere upon a
comprehensive plan. Against her great national electric combination, for
example, only another national combination could stand. As it was,
Germany--in the way of business--wired and lit (and examined) the forts
at Liege. She bought and prepared a hundred strategic centres in
individualistic Belgium and France.

So we pass from the fact that individualism is hopeless muddle to the
fact that the individualist idea is one of limitless venality, Who can
buy, may control. And Germany, in her long scheming against her
individualist rivals, has not simply set herself to buy and hold the
keys and axles of their economic machinery. She has set herself, it must
be admitted, with a certain crudity and little success, but with
unexampled vigour, to buy the minds of her adversaries. The Western
nations have taken a peculiar pride in having a free Press; that is to
say, a Press that may be bought by anyone. Our Press is constantly
bought and sold, in gross and detail, by financiers, advertisers,
political parties, and the like. Germany came into the market rather
noisily, and great papers do to a large extent live in glass houses; but
her efforts have been sufficient to exercise the minds of great numbers
of men with the problem of what might have happened in the way of
national confusion if the German attack had been more subtly

It is only a partial answer to this difficulty to say that a country
that is so nationalist and aggressive as Germany is incapable of subtle
conceptions. The fact remains that in Great Britain at the present time
there are newspaper proprietors who would be good bargains for Germany
at two million pounds a head, and that there was no effectual guarantee
in the individualistic system, but only our good luck and the natural
patriotism of the individuals concerned that she did not pick up these
bargains before trading with the enemy became illegal. It happened, for
example, that Lord Northcliffe was public-spirited, That was the good
luck of Great Britain rather than her merit. There was nothing in the
individualistic system to prevent Germany from buying up the entire
Harmsworth Press--_The Times, Daily Mail_, and all--five years before
the war, and using it to confuse the national mind, destroy the national
unity, sacrifice the national interests, and frustrate the national

Not only the newspapers, but the news-agents and booksellers of both
Great Britain and America are entirely at the disposal of any hostile
power which chooses to buy them up quietly and systematically. It is
merely a question of wealth and cleverness. And if the failure of the
Germans to grip the Press of the French and English speaking countries
has been conspicuous, she has been by no means so unsuccessful in--for
example--Spain. At the present time the thought and feeling of the
Spanish speaking world is being _educated_ against the Allies. The
Spanish mind has been sold by its custodians into German control.

Muddle and venality do not, however, exhaust the demonstrated vices of
individualism. Individualism encourages desertion and treason.
Individualism permits base private people to abscond with the national
resources and squeeze a profit out of national suffering. In the early
stages of the war some bright minds conceived the idea of a corner in
drugs. It is not illegal; it is quite the sort of thing that appeals to
the individualistic frame of mind as entirely meritorious. As the _New
Statesman_ put it recently: "The happy owners of the world's available
stock of a few indispensable drugs did not refrain from making, not only
the various Governments, but also all the sick people of the world pay
double, and even tenfold, prices for what was essential to relieve pain
and save life. What fortunes were thus made we shall probably never
know, any more than we shall know the tale of the men and women and
children who suffered and died because of their inability to pay, not
the cost of production of what would have saved them, but the
unnecessarily enhanced price that the chances of the market enabled the
owners to exact."

And another bright instance of the value of individualism is the selling
of British shipping to neutral buyers just when the country is in the
most urgent need of every ship it can get, and the deliberate transfer
to America of a number of British businesses to evade paying a proper
share of the national bill in taxation. The English who have gone to
America at different times have been of very different qualities; at the
head of the list are the English who went over in the _Mayflower_; at
the bottom will be the rich accessions of this war....

And perhaps a still more impressive testimony to the rottenness of these
"business men," upon whom certain eccentric voices call so amazingly to
come and govern us, is the incurable distrust they have sown in the
minds of labour. Never was an atmosphere of discipline more lamentable
than that which has grown up in the factories, workshops, and great
privately owned public services of America and Western Europe. The men,
it is evident, _expect_ to be robbed and cheated at every turn. I can
only explain their state of mind by supposing that they have been robbed
and cheated. Their scorn and contempt for their employees' good faith
is limitless. Their _morale_ is undermined by an invincible distrust.

It is no good for Mr. Lloyd George to attempt to cure the gathered ill
of a century with half an hour or so of eloquence. When Great Britain,
in her supreme need, turns to the workmen she has trained in the ways of
individualism for a century, she reaps the harvest individualism has
sown. She has to fight with that handicap. Every regulation for the
rapid mobilisation of labour is scrutinised to find the trick in it.

And they find the trick in it as often as not. Smart individualistic
"business experience" has been at the draughtsman's elbow. A man in an
individualistic system does not escape from class ideas and prejudices
by becoming an official. There is profound and bitter wisdom in the deep
distrust felt by British labour for both military and industrial

The breakdown of individualism has been so complete in Great Britain
that we are confronted with the spectacle of this great and ancient
kingdom reconstructing itself perforce, while it wages the greatest war
in history. A temporary nationalisation of land transit has been
improvised, and only the vast, deep-rooted, political influence of the
shipowners and coalowners have staved off the manifestly necessary step
of nationalising shipping and coal. I doubt if they will be able to
stave it off to the end of the long struggle which is still before us if
the militarism of Germany is really to be arrested and discredited.
Expropriation and not conscription will be the supreme test of Britain's
loyalty to her Allies.

The British shipowners, in particular, are reaping enormous but
precarious profits from the war. The blockade of Britain, by the British
shipowners is scarcely less effective than the blockade of Germany by
Britain. With an urgent need of every ship for the national supplies,
British ships, at the present moment of writing this, are still carrying
cheap American automobiles to Australia. They would carry munitions to
Germany if their owners thought they had a sporting chance of not
getting caught at it. These British shipowners are a pampered class with
great political and social influence, and no doubt as soon as the
accumulating strain of the struggle tells to the extent of any serious
restriction of their advantage and prospects, we shall see them shifting
to the side of the at present negligible group of British pacifists. I
do not think one can count on any limit to their selfishness and

I believe that the calculations of some of these extreme and apparently
quite unreasonable "pacifists" are right. Before the war is over there
will be a lot of money in the pacifist business. The rich curs of the
West End will join hands with the labour curs of the Clyde. The base are
to be found in all classes, but I doubt if they dominate any. I do not
believe that any interest or group of interests in Great Britain can
stand in the way of the will of the whole people to bring this struggle
to a triumphant finish at any cost. I do not believe that the most
sacred ties of personal friendship and blood relationship with
influential people can save either shipowners or coalowners or army
contractors to the end.

There will be no end until these profit-makings are arrested. The
necessary "conscriptions of property" must come about in Great Britain
because there is no alternative but failure in the war, and the British
people will not stand failure. I believe that the end of the war will
see, not only transit, but shipping, collieries, and large portions of
the machinery of food and drink production and distribution no longer
under the administration of private ownership, but under a sort of
provisional public administration. And very many British factories will
be in the same case.

Two years ago no one would have dared to prophesy the tremendous
rearrangement of manufacturing machinery which is in progress in Britain
to-day. Thousands of firms of engineers and manufacturers of all sorts,
which were flourishing in 1914, exist to-day only as names, as shapes,
as empty shells. Their staffs have been shattered, scattered,
reconstructed; their buildings enlarged and modified; their machinery
exchanged, reconstituted, or taken. The reality is a vast interdependent
national factory that would have seemed incredible to Fourier.

It will be as impossible to put back British industrialism into the
factories and forms of the pre-war era as it would be to restore the
Carthaginian Empire. There is a new economic Great Britain to-day,
emergency made, jerry-built no doubt, a gawky, weedy giant, but a giant
who may fill out to such dimensions as the German national system has
never attained. Behind it is an _idea_, a new idea, the idea of the
nation as one great economic system working together, an idea which
could not possibly have got into the sluggish and conservative British
intelligence in half a century by any other means than the stark
necessities of this war.... Great Britain cannot retrace those steps
even if she would, and so she will be forced to carry this process of
reconstruction through. And what is happening to Great Britain must,
with its national differences, be happening to France and Russia. Not
only for war ends, but for peace ends, behind the front and sustaining
the front, individualities are being hammered together into common and
concerted activities.

At the end of this war Great Britain will find herself with this great
national factory, this great national organisation of labour, planned,
indeed, primarily to make war material, but convertible with the utmost
ease to the purposes of automobile manufacture, to transit
reconstruction, to electrical engineering, and endless such uses.

France and Russia will be in a parallel case. All the world will be
exhausted, and none of the Allies will have much money to import
automobiles, railway material, electrical gear, and so on, from abroad.
Moreover, it will be a matter of imperative necessity for them to get
ahead of the Central Powers with their productive activities. We shall
all be too poor to import from America, and we shall be insane to import
from Germany. America will be the continent with the long purse,
prepared to buy rather than sell. Each country will have great masses of
soldiers waiting to return to industrial life, and will therefore be
extremely indisposed to break up any existing productive organisation.

In the face of these facts, will any of the Allied Powers be so foolish
as to disband this great system of national factories and nationally
worked communications? Moreover, we have already risked the prophecy
that this war will not end with such conclusiveness as to justify an
immediate beating out of our swords into ploughshares. There will be a
military as well as a social reason for keeping the national factories
in a going state.

What more obvious course, then, than to keep them going by turning them
on to manufacture goods of urgent public necessity? There are a number
of modern commodities now practically standardised: the bicycle, the
cheap watch, the ordinary tradesman's delivery automobile, the farmer's
runabout, the country doctor's car, much electric-lighting material,
dynamos, and so forth. And also, in a parallel case, there is
shipbuilding. The chemical side of munition work can turn itself with no
extreme difficulty to the making of such products as dyes.

We face the fact, then, that either the State must go on with this
production, as it can do, straight off from the signing of peace,
converting with a minimum of friction, taking on its soldiers as they
are discharged from the army as employees with a minimum waste of time
and a minimum of social disorder, and a maximum advantage in the
resumption of foreign trade, or there will be a dangerous break-up of
the national factory system, a time of extreme chaos and bitter
unemployment until capital accumulates for new developments. The risks
of social convulsion will be enormous. And there is small hope that the
Central Powers, and particularly industrial Germany, will have the
politeness to wait through the ten or twelve years of economic
embarrassment that a refusal to take this bold but obviously
advantageous step into scientific Socialism will entail.

But the prophet must be on his guard against supposing that, because a
thing is highly desirable, it must necessarily happen; or that, because
it is highly dangerous, it will be avoided. This bold and successful
economic reconstruction upon national lines is not inevitable merely
because every sound reason points us in that direction. A man may be
very ill, a certain drug may be clearly indicated as the only possible
remedy, but it does not follow that the drug is available, that the
doctor will have the sense to prescribe it, or the patient the means to
procure it or the intelligence to swallow it.

The experience of history is that nations do not take the obviously
right course, but the obviously wrong one. The present prophet knows
only his England, but, so far as England is concerned, he can cover a
sheet of paper with scarcely a pause, jotting down memoranda of
numberless forces that make against any such rational reconstruction.
Most of these forces, in greater or less proportion, must be present in
the case of every other country under consideration.

The darkest shadow upon the outlook of European civilisation at the
present time is not the war; it is the failure of any co-operative
spirit between labour and the directing classes. The educated and
leisured classes have been rotten with individualism for a century; they
have destroyed the confidence of the worker in any leadership whatever.
Labour stands apart, intractable. If there is to be any such rapid
conversion of the economic machinery as the opportunities and
necessities of this great time demand, then labour must be taken into
the confidence of those who would carry it through. It must be reassured
and enlightened. Labour must know clearly what is being done; it must be
an assenting co-operator. The stride to economic national service and
Socialism is a stride that labour should be more eager to take than any
other section of the community.

The first step in reassuring labour must be to bring the greedy private
owner and the speculator under a far more drastic discipline than at
present. The property-owning class is continually accusing labour of
being ignorant, suspicious, and difficult; it is blind to the fact that
it is itself profit-seeking by habit, greedy, conceited, and half

Every step in the mobilisation of Great Britain's vast resources for the
purposes of the war has been hampered by the tricks, the failures to
understand, and the almost instinctive disloyalties of private owners.
The raising of rents in Glasgow drove the infuriated workmen of the
Clyde district into an unwilling strike. It was an exasperating piece of
private selfishness, quite typical of the individualistic state of mind,
and the failure to anticipate or arrest it on the part of the Government
was a worse failure than Suvla Bay. And everywhere the officials of the
Ministry of Munitions find private employers holding back workers and
machinery from munition works, intriguing--more particularly through the
Board of Trade--to have all sorts of manufactures for private profit
recognised as munition work, or if that contention is too utterly
absurd, then as work vitally necessary to the maintenance of British
export trade and the financial position of the country. It is an
undeniable fact that employers and men alike have been found far readier
to risk their lives for their country than to lay aside any scale of
profits to which they have grown accustomed.

This conflict of individualistic enterprise and class suspicion against
the synthesis of the public welfare is not peculiar to Great Britain; it
is probably going on with local variations in Germany, Russia, Italy,
France, and, indeed, in every combatant country. Because of the
individualistic forces and feelings, none of us, either friends or
enemies, are really getting anything like our full possible result out
of our national efforts. But in Germany there is a greater tradition of
subordination; in France there is a greater clarity of mind than in any
other country.

Great Britain and Russia in this, as in so many other matters, are at
once close kindred and sharp antithesis. Each is mentally crippled by
the corruption of its educational system by an official religious
orthodoxy, and hampered by a Court which disowns any function of
intellectual stimulus. Neither possesses a scientifically educated
_class_ to which it can look for the powerful handling of this great
occasion; and each has acquired under these disadvantages the same
strange faculty for producing sane resultants out of illogical
confusions. It is the way of these unmethodical Powers to produce
unexpected, vaguely formulated, and yet effective cerebral
action--apparently from their backbones.

As I sit playing at prophecy, and turn over the multitudinous
impressions of the last year in my mind, weighing the great necessities
of the time against obstacles and petty-mindedness, I become more and
more conscious of a third factor that is neither need nor obstruction,
and that is the will to get things right that has been liberated by the

The new spirit is still but poorly expressed, but it will find
expression. The war goes on, and we discuss this question of economic
reconstruction as though it was an issue that lay between the labour
that has stayed behind and the business men, for the most part old men
with old habits of mind, who have stayed behind.

The real life of Europe's future lies on neither side of that
opposition. The real life is mutely busy at present, saying little
because of the uproar of the guns, and not so much learning as casting
habits and shedding delusions. In the trenches there are workers who
have broken with the old slacking and sabotage, and there are
prospective leaders who have forgotten profit. The men between eighteen
and forty are far too busy in the blood and mud to make much showing
now, but to-morrow these men will be the nation.

When that third factor of the problem is brought in the outlook of the
horoscope improves. The spirit of the war may be counted upon to balance
and prevail against this spirit of individualism, this spirit of
suspicion and disloyalty, which I fear more than anything else in the

I believe in the young France, young England, and young Russia this war
is making, and so I believe that every European country will struggle
along the path that this war has opened to a far more completely
organised State than has existed ever before. The Allies will become
State firms, as Germany was, indeed, already becoming before the war;
setting private profit aside in the common interest, handling
agriculture, transport, shipping, coal, the supply of metals, the
manufacture of a thousand staple articles, as national concerns.

In the face of the manifest determination of the Central Powers to do as
much, the Allies will be forced also to link their various State firms
together into a great allied trust, trading with a common interest and a
common plan with Germany and America and the rest of the world.... Youth
and necessity will carry this against selfishness, against the
unimaginative, against the unteachable, the suspicious, the "_old

But I do not venture to prophesy that this will come about as if it were
a slick and easy deduction from present circumstances. Even in France I
do not think things will move as lucidly and generously as that. There
will be a conflict everywhere between wisdom and cunning, between the
eyes of youth and the purblind, between energy and obstinacy.

The reorganisation of the European States will come about clumsily and
ungraciously. At every point the sticker will be found sticking tight,
holding out to be bought off, holding out for a rent or a dividend or a
share, holding out by mere instinct. At every turn, too, the bawler will
be loud and active, bawling suspicions, bawling accusations, bawling
panic, or just simply bawling. Tricks, peculation, obstinacies,
vanities--after this war men will still be men. But I do believe that
through all the dust and din, the great reasons in the case, the steady
constructive forces of the situation, will carry us.

I believe that out of the ruins of the nineteenth century system of
private capitalism that this war has smashed for ever, there will arise,
there does even now arise, in this strange scaffolding of national
munition factories and hastily nationalised public services, the
framework of a new economic and social order based upon national
ownership and service.

Let us now recapitulate a little and see how far we have got in
constructing a picture of the European community as it will be in
fifteen or twenty years' time. Nominally it will be little more of a
Socialist State than it is to-day, but, as a matter of fact, the ships,
the railways, the coal and metal supply, the great metal industries,
much engineering, and most agriculture, will be more or less completely
under collective ownership, and certainly very completely under
collective control. This does not mean that there will have been any
disappearance of private property, but only that there will have been a
very considerable change in its character; the owner will be less of
controller but more of a creditor; he will be a _rentier_ or an

The burthen of this class upon the community will not be relatively
quite so heavy as it would otherwise have been, because of a very
considerable rise in wages and prices.

In a community in which all the great initiatives have been assumed by
the State, the importance of financiers and promoters will have
diminished relatively to the importance of administrative officials; the
opportunities of private exploitation, indeed, will have so diminished
that there will probably be far less evidence of great concentrations of
private wealth in the European social landscape than there was before
the war.

On the other hand, there will be an enormously increased _rentier_ class
drawing the interest of the war loans from the community, and
maintaining a generally high standard of comfort. There will have been a
great demand for administrative and technical abilities and a great
stimulation of scientific and technical education. By 1926 we shall be
going about a world that will have recovered very largely from the
impoverishment of the struggle; we shall tour in State-manufactured
automobiles upon excellent roads, and we shall live in houses equipped
with a national factory electric light installation, and at every turn
we shall be using and consuming the products of nationalised
industry--and paying off the National Debt simultaneously, and reducing
our burden of _rentiers_.

At the same time our boys will be studying science in their schools
more thoroughly than they do now, and they will in many cases be
learning Russian instead of Greek or German. More of our boys will be
going into the public service, and fewer thinking of private business,
and they will be going into the public service, not as clerks, but as
engineers, technical chemists, manufacturers, State agriculturists, and
the like. The public service will be less a service of clerks and more a
service of practical men. The ties that bind France and Great Britain at
the present moment will have been drawn very much closer. France,
Belgium and England will be drifting towards a French-English

So much of our picture we may splash in now. Much that is quite
essential remains to be discussed. So far we have said scarcely a word
about the prospects of party politics and the problems of government
that arise as the State ceases to be a mere impartial adjudicator
between private individuals, and takes upon itself more and more of the
direction of the general life of the community.


The riddle of administration is the most subtle of all those that the
would-be prophet of the things that are coming must attempt. We see the
great modern States confronted now by vast and urgent necessities, by
opportunities that may never recur. Individualism has achieved its
inevitable failure; "go as you please" in a world that also contained
aggressive militarism, has broken down. We live in a world of improvised
State factories, commandeered railways, substituted labour and emergency
arrangements. Our vague-minded, lax, modern democracy has to pull itself
together, has to take over and administer and succeed with a great
system of collective functions, has to express its collective will in
some better terms than "go as you please," or fail.

And we find the affairs of nearly every great democratic State in the
hands of a class of men not specially adapted to any such constructive
or administrative work.

I am writing here now chiefly of the Western Allies. Russia is peculiar
in having her administrative machine much more highly developed in
relation to her general national life than the free democratic
countries. She has to make a bureaucracy that has not hitherto been an
example for efficiency into a bureaucracy that will be constructive,
responsive, liberal, scientific, and efficient; the Western countries
have to do the same with that oligarchy of politicians which, as
Professor Michels has recently pointed out in his striking book on
"Political Parties," is the necessary reality of democratic government.
By different methods the Eastern and Western Powers have to attain a
common end. Both bureaucracy and pseudo-democratic oligarchy have to
accomplish an identical task, to cement the pacific alliance of the
Pledged Allies and to socialise their common industrial and economic
life, so as to make it invulnerable to foreign attack.

Now in Great Britain, which is the democracy that has been most under
the close observation of the present prophet, there is at present a
great outcry against the "politician," and more particularly against the
"lawyer-politician." He is our embarrassment. In him we personify all
our difficulties. Let us consider the charges against this individual.
Let us ask, can we do without him? And let us further see what chances
there may be of so altering, qualifying, or balancing him as to minimise
the evil of his influence. To begin with, let us run over the essentials
of the charge against him.

It is with a modest blush that the present prophet recapitulates these
charges. So early as the year 1902 he was lifting up his voice, not
exactly in the wilderness but at least in the Royal Institution, against
the legal as compared with the creative or futurist type of mind. The
legal mind, he insisted, looks necessarily to the past. It is dilatory
because it has no sense of coming things, it is uninventive and
wasteful, it does not create, it takes advantage. It is the type of mind
least able, under any circumstances, to organise great businesses, to
plan campaigns, to adventure or achieve. "Wait and see" crystallises its
spirit. Its resistance is admirable, and it has no "go." Nevertheless
there is a tendency for power to gravitate in all democratic countries
to the lawyer.

In the British system the normal faults of the lawyer are enhanced, and
his predominance intensified, by certain peculiarities of our system. In
the first place, he belongs to a guild of exceptional power. In Britain
it happens that the unfortunate course was taken ages ago of bribing the
whole legal profession to be honest. The British judges and law officers
are stupendously overpaid in order to make them incorruptible; it is a
poor but perhaps a well-merited compliment to their professional code.
We have squared the whole profession to be individually unbribable.

The judges, moreover, in the Anglo-Saxon communities are appointed from
among the leading barristers, an arrangement that a child can see is
demoralising and inadvisable. And in Great Britain all the greatest
salaries in the government service are reserved for the legal
profession. The greatest prizes, therefore, before an energetic young
man who has to make his way in Great Britain are the legal prizes, and
his line of advancement to these lies, for all the best years of his
life, not through the public service, but through the private practice
of advocacy. The higher education, such as it is, in Great Britain,
produces under the stimulus of these conditions an advocate as its
finest flower. To go from the posing and chatter of the Union Debating
Society to a university laboratory is, in Britain, to renounce ambition.
Few men of exceptional energy will do that.

The national consequences of this state of affairs have been only too
manifest throughout the conduct of the war. The British Government has
developed all the strength and all the weakness of the great profession
it represents. It has been uninventive, dilatory, and without
initiative; it has been wasteful and evasive; but it has not been
wanting in a certain eloquence and dignity, it has been wary and shrewd,
and it has held on to office with the concentrated skill and
determination of a sucker-fish. And the British mind, with a
concentration and intensity unprecedented before the war, is speculating
how it can contrive to get a different sort of ruler and administrator
at work upon its affairs.

There is a disposition in the Press, and much of the private talk one
hears, to get rid of lawyers from the control of national affairs
altogether, to substitute "business men" or scientific men or "experts."
That way lies dictatorship and Caesarism. And even Great Britain is not
so heedless of the experiences of other nations as to attempt again what
has already been so abundantly worked out in national disaster across
the Channel. The essential business of government is to deal between man
and man; it is not to manage the national affairs in detail, but to
secure the proper managers, investigators, administrators, generals,
and so forth, to maintain their efficiency, and keep the balance between
them. We cannot do without a special class of men for these
interventions and controls. In other words, we cannot do without a
special class of politicians. They may be elected by a public or
appointed by an autocrat; at some point they have to come in. And this
business of intervening between men and classes and departments in
public life, and getting them to work together, is so closely akin to
the proper work of a lawyer in dealing between men and men, that, unless
the latter are absolutely barred from becoming the former, it is almost
unavoidable that politicians should be drawn more abundantly from the
lawyer class than from any other class in the community.

This is so much the case, that when the London _Times_ turns in despair
from a government of lawyers and looks about for an alternative, the
first figure that presents itself is that distinguished advocate Sir
Edward Carson!

But there is a difference between recognising that some sort of
lawyer-politician is unavoidable and agreeing that the existing type of
lawyer who is so largely accountable for the massive slowness, the
confused action, the slovenliness rather than the weakness of purpose,
shown by Great Britain in this war, is the only possible type, The
British system of education and legal organisation is not the last word
of human wisdom in these matters.

The real case we British have against our lawyers, if I may adopt an
expressive colloquialism, is not that they are lawyers, but that they
are such infernal lawyers. They trail into modern life most of the
faults of a mediaeval guild. They seem to have no sense of the State
they could develop, no sense of the future they might control. Their law
and procedure has never been remodelled upon the framework of modern
ideas; their minds are still set to the tune of mediaeval bickerings,
traditionalism, and State blindness. They are mystery dealers, almost
unanimously they have resisted giving the common man the protection of a

In the United Kingdom we have had no Napoleon to override the
profession. It is extraordinary how complete has been their preservation
of barbaric conceptions. Even the doctor is now largely emancipated from
his archaic limitations as a skilled retainer. He thinks more and more
of the public health, and less and less of his patron. The more recent a
profession the less there is of the individualistic personal reference;
scientific research, for example, disavows and forbids every personal

But while everyone would be shocked at some great doctor, or some great
research institution, in these days of urgent necessity spending two or
three weeks on the minor ailments of some rich person's lapdog, nobody
is scandalised at the spectacle of Sir Edward Carson and a costly law
court spending long days upon the sordid disputes that centre upon young
Master Slingsby's ear--whether it is the Slingsby family ear or the ear
of a supposititious child--a question that any three old women might be
trusted to settle. After that he rests for a fortnight and recuperates,
and returns--to take up a will case turning upon the toy rabbits and
suchlike trifles which entertained the declining years of a
nonagenarian. This, when we are assured that the country awaits Sir
Edward as its Deliverer. It is as if Lord Kitchener took a month off to
act at specially high rates for the "movies." Our standard for the
lawyer is older and lower than it is for other men.

There is no more reason nowadays why a lawyer should look to advocacy as
a proper use of his knowledge than that a doctor should make private
poisoning the lucrative side of his profession. There is no reason why
a court of law should ignore the plain right of the commonweal to
intervene in every case between man and man. There is every reason why
trivial disputes about wills and legitimacy should not be wasting our
national resources at the present time, when nearly every other form of
waste is being restrained. The sound case against the legal profession
in Anglo-Saxon countries is not that it is unnecessary, but that it is
almost incredibly antiquated, almost incredibly careless of the public
well-being, and that it corrupts or dwarfs all the men who enter it.

Our urgent need is not so much to get rid of the lawyer from our affairs
as to get rid of the wig and gown spirit and of the special pleader, and
to find and develop the new lawyer, the lawyer who is not an advocate,
who is not afraid of a code, who has had some scientific education, and
whose imagination has been quickened by the realisation of life as
creative opportunity. We want to emancipate this profession from its
ancient guild restrictions--the most anti-social and disastrous of all
such restrictions--to destroy its disgraceful traditions of over-payment
and fee-snatching, to insist upon a scientific philosophical training
for its practitioners, to make the practice of advocacy a fall from
grace, and to bar professional advocates from the bench.

In the British trenches now there must be many hundreds of fine young
lawyers, still but little corrupted, who would be only too glad to
exchange the sordid vulgarities and essential dishonour of a successful
lawyer's career under the old conditions for lives of service and

No observer of the general trend of events in Europe will get any real
grasp of what is happening until he realises the cardinal importance of
the reactions that centre upon this question. The current development of
political institutions and the possible development of a new spirit and
method in the legal profession are so intimately interwoven as to be
practically one and the same question. The international question is,
can we get a new Germany? The national question everywhere is, can we
get a better politician?

The widely prevalent discontent with the part played by the lawyer in
the affairs of all the Western Allies is certain to develop into a
vigorous agitation for legal reconstruction. In the case of every other
great trade union the war has exacted profound and vital concessions.
The British working men, for example, have abandoned scores of
protective restrictions upon women's labour, upon unskilled labour, for
which they have fought for generations; they have submitted to a virtual
serfdom that the nation's needs might be supplied; the medical
profession has sent almost too large a proportion of its members to the
front; the scientific men, the writers, have been begging to be used in
any capacity at any price or none; the Ministry of Munitions is full of
unpaid workers, and so on.

The British legal profession and trade union alone has made no sign of
any disposition to relax its elaborate restrictions upon the labour of
amateurs and women, or to abate one jot or one tittle of its habitual
rewards. There has been no attempt to reduce the costly law officers of
the Government, for example, or to call in the help of older men or
women to release law officers who are of military experience or age.

And I must admit that there are small signs of the advent of the "new
lawyer," at whose possibility I have just flung a hopeful glance, to
replace the existing mass of mediaeval unsoundness. Barristers seem to
age prematurely--at least in Great Britain--unless they are born old. In
the legal profession one hears nothing of "the young"; one hears only of
"smart juniors." Reform and progressive criticism in the legal
profession, unlike all other professions, seem to be the monopoly of the

Nevertheless, Great Britain is as yet only beginning to feel the real
stresses of the war; she is coming into the full strain a year behind
France, Germany, and Russia; and after the war there lies the
possibility of still more violent stresses; so that what is as yet a
mere cloud of criticism and resentment at our lawyer-politicians and
privileged legal profession may gather to a great storm before 1918 or

I am inclined to foretell as one most highly probable development of the
present vague but very considerable revolt against the lawyer in British
public life, first, some clumsy proposals or even attempts to leave him
out, and use "business men," soldiers, admirals, dictators, or men of
science, in his place--which is rather like throwing away a blottesque
fountain-pen and trying to write with a walking-stick or a revolver or a
flash-light--and then when that is found to be impossible, a resolute
attempt to clean and reconstitute the legal profession on modern and
more honourable lines; a movement into which, quite possibly, a number
of the younger British lawyers, so soon as they realise that the
movement is good enough to risk careers upon, may throw themselves. A
large share in such a reform movement, if it occurs, will be brought
about by the Press; by which I mean not simply the periodical Press, but
all books and contemporary discussion. It is only by the natural playing
off of Press against lawyer-politician that democratic States can ever
come to their own.

And that brings me to the second part of this question, which is
whether, quite apart from the possible reform and spiritual rebirth of
the legal profession, there is not also the possibility of balancing and
correcting its influence. In ancient Hebrew history--it may be a warning
rather than a precedent--there were two great forces, one formal,
conservative and corrupting, the other undisciplined, creative, and
destructive; the first was the priest, the second the prophet. Their
interaction is being extraordinarily paralleled in the Anglo-Saxon
democracies by the interaction of lawyer-politician and Press to-day.

If the lawyer-politician is unavoidable, the Press is indispensable. It
is not in the clash and manoeuvres and mutual correction of party, but
in the essential conflict of political authority on the one hand and
Press on the other that the future of democratic government apparently
lies. In the clearer, simpler case of France, a less wealthy and finer
type of lawyer interacts with a less impersonal Press. It is in the
great contrasts and the essential parallelism of the French and the
Anglo-Saxon democratic systems that one finds the best practical reason
for anticipating very profound changes in these two inevitables of
democracy, the Press and the lawyer-politician, and for assuming that
the method of democracy has still a vast range of experimental
adjustment between them still untried. Such experimental adjustment will
be the chief necessity and business of political life in every country
of the world for the next few decades.

The lawyer-politician and the Press are as it were the right and left
hands of a modern democracy. The war has brought this out clearly. It
has ruptured the long-weakened bonds that once linked this and that
newspaper with this and that party. For years the Press of all the
Western democracies has been drifting slowly away from the tradition--it
lasted longest and was developed most completely in Great
Britain--that-newspapers were party organs.

In the novels of Disraeli the Press appears as an ambiguously helpful
person who is asked out to dinner, who is even admitted to week-end
conferences, by the political great. He takes his orders from the Whig
peers or the Tory peers. At his greatest he advises them respectfully.
But that was in the closing days of the British oligarchy; that was
before modern democracy had begun to produce its characteristic
political forms. It is not so very much more than a century ago that
Great Britain had her first lawyer Prime Minister. Through all the
Napoleonic wars she was still a country ruled by great feudal landlords,
and gentlemen adventurers associated with them. The lawyers only came to
their own at the close of the great Victorian duet of Disraeli and
Gladstone, the last of the political gentlemen adventurers. It is only
now, in the jolts and dissatisfactions of this war, that Great Britain
rubs her eyes and looks at her government as it is.

The old oligarchy established the tradition of her diplomacy. Illiberal
at home, it was liberal abroad; Great Britain was the defender of
nationality, of constitutionalism, and of the balance of power against
the holy alliance. In the figure of such a gentleman as Sir Edward Grey
the old order mingles with the new. But most of his colleagues are of
the new order. They would have been incredible in the days of Lord
Melbourne. In its essential quality the present British Government is
far more closely akin to the French than it is to its predecessor of a
hundred years ago. Essentially it is a Government of lawyer-politicians
with no close family ties or intimate political traditions and
prejudices. And its natural and proper corrective is the Press, over
which it fails to exercise now even a shadow of the political and social
influence that once kept that power in subjection.

It is the way with all human institutions; they remain in appearance
long after they have passed away in reality. It is on record that the
Roman senate still thought Rome was a republic in the third century of
the Christian era. It is nothing wonderful, therefore, that people
suppose that the King, the Lords, and the Commons, debating through a
Ministry and an Opposition, still govern the British Empire. As a matter
of fact it is the lawyer-politicians, split by factions that simulate
the ancient government and opposition, who rule, under a steadily
growing pressure and checking by the Press. Since this war began the
Press has released itself almost inadvertently from its last association
with the dying conflicts of party politics, and has taken its place as a
distinct power in the realm, claiming to be more representative of the
people than their elected representatives, and more expressive of the
national mind and will.

Now there is considerable validity in this claim. It is easy to say
that a paper may be bought by any proprietor and set to put what he
chooses into the public mind. As a matter of fact, buying a newspaper is
far more costly and public a proceeding than buying a politician. And if
on the one hand the public has no control over what is printed in a
paper, it has on the other the very completest control over what is
read. A politician is checked by votes cast once in several years, a
newspaper is checked by sales that vary significantly from day to day. A
newspaper with no circulation is a newspaper that does not matter; a few
weeks will suffice to show if it has carried its public with it or gone
out of influence. It is absurd to speak of a newspaper as being less
responsible than a politician.

Nevertheless, the influence of a great newspaper is so much greater than
that of any politician, and its power more particularly for
mischief--for the creation of panic conditions, for example--so much
swifter, that it is open to question whether the Press is at present
sufficiently held to its enormous responsibilities.

Let us consider its weaknesses at the present time, let us ask what
changes in its circumstances are desirable in the public interest, and
what are likely to come about. We have already reckoned upon the Press
as a chief factor in the adequate criticism, cleansing, and
modernisation of the British lawyer-politician; is there any power to
which we may look for the security of the Press? And I submit the answer
is the Press. For while the legal profession is naturally homogeneous,
the Press is by nature heterogeneous. Dog does not eat dog, nor lawyer,
lawyer; but the newspapers are sharks and cannibals, they are in
perpetual conflict, the Press is a profession as open as the law is
closed; it has no anti-social guild feeling; it washes its dirty linen
in public by choice and necessity, and disdains all professional
etiquette. Few people know what criticisms of the Lord Chief Justice may
have ripened in the minds of Lord Halsbury or Sir Edward Carson, but we
all know, to a very considerable degree of accuracy, the worst of what
this great journalist or group of newspaper proprietors thinks of that.

We have, therefore, considerable reason for regarding the Press as
being, in contrast with the legal profession, a self-reforming body. In
the last decade there has been an enormous mass of criticism of the
Press by the Press. There has been a tendency to exaggerate its
irresponsibility. A better case is to be made against it for what I will
call, using the word in its least offensive sense, its venality. By
venality I mean the fact, a legacy from the now happily vanishing age of
individualism, that in theory and law at least anyone may own a
newspaper and sell it publicly or secretly to anyone, that its
circulation and advertisement receipts may be kept secret or not as the
proprietors choose, and that the proprietor is accountable to no one for
any exceptional incomings or any sudden fluctuations in policy.

A few years ago we were all discussing who should buy _The Times_; I do
not know what chances an agent of the Kaiser might not have had if he
had been sufficiently discreet. This venality will be far more dangerous
to the Allied countries after the war than during its continuance. So
long as the state of war lasts there are prompt methods available for
any direct newspaper treason, and it is in the neutral countries only
that the buying and selling of papers against the national interest has
occurred to any marked extent.

Directly peace is signed, unless we provide for the event beforehand,
our Press will pass under neutral conditions. There will be nothing to
prevent, for example, any foreseeing foreign power coming into Great
Britain, offering to buy up not only this paper or that, but also, what
is far more important, to buy up the great book and newspaper
distributing firms. These vitally important public services, so far as
law and theory go, will be as entirely in the market as railway tickets
at a station unless we make some intelligent preventive provision.
Unless we do, and if, as is highly probable, peace puts no immediate
stop to international malignity, the Germans will be bigger fools than I
think them if they do not try to get hold of these public services. It
is a matter of primary importance in the outlook of every country in
Europe, therefore, that it should insist upon and secure responsible
native ownership of every newspaper and news and book distributing
agency, and the most drastic punishment for newspaper corruption. Given
that guarantee against foreign bribery, we may, I think, let free speech
rage. This is so much a matter of common sense that I cannot imagine
even British "wait and see" waiting for the inevitable assault upon our
national journalistic virtue that will follow the peace.

So I spread out the considerations that I think justify our forecasting,
in a very changed Great Britain and a changed Europe, firstly, a legal
profession with a quickened conscience, a sense of public function and a
reformed organisation, and, secondly, a Press, which is recognised and
held accountable in law and in men's minds, as an estate of the realm,
as something implicitly under oath to serve the State. I do not agree
with Professor Michel's pessimistic conclusion that peace will bring
back exacerbated party politics and a new era of futility to the
democratic countries. I believe that the tremendous demonstration of
this war (a demonstration that gains weight with every week of our
lengthening effort), of the waste and inefficiency of the system of
1913-14, will break down at last even the conservatism of the most
rigidly organised and powerful and out-of-date of all professions.

It is not only that I look to the indignation and energy of intelligent
men who are outside our legal and political system to reform it, but to
those who are in it now. A man may be quietly parasitic upon his mother,
and yet incapable of matricide. So much of our national energy and
ability has been attracted to the law in Great Britain that our nation,
with our lawyers in modern clothing instead of wigs and gowns, lawyers
who have studied science and social theory instead of the spoutings of
Cicero and the loquacious artfulness of W.E. Gladstone, lawyers who look
forward at the destiny of their country instead of backward and at the
markings on their briefs, may yet astonish the world. The British lawyer
really holds the future of the British Empire and, indeed, I could
almost say, of the whole world in his hands at the present time, as much
as any single sort of man can be said to hold it. Inside his skull
imagination and a heavy devil of evil precedent fight for his soul and
the welfare of the world. And generosity fights against tradition and
individualism. Only the men of the Press have anything like the same
great possibilities of betrayal.

To these two sorts of men the dim spirit of the nation looks for such
leading as a democracy can follow. To them the men with every sort of
special ability, the men of science, the men of this or that sort of
administrative ability and experience, the men of creative gifts and
habits, every sort of man who wants the world to get on, look for the
removal (or the ingenious contrivance) of obstructions and
entanglements, for the allaying (or the fomentation) of suspicion,
misapprehension, and ignorant opposition, for administration (or class

Yet while I sit as a prophetic amateur weighing these impalpable forces
of will and imagination and habit and interest in lawyer, pressman,
maker and administrator, and feeling by no means over-confident of the
issue, it dawns upon me suddenly that there is another figure present,
who has never been present before in the reckoning up of British
affairs. It is a silent figure. This figure stands among the pressmen
and among the lawyers and among the workers; for a couple of decades at
least he will be everywhere in the British system; he is young and he is
uniformed in khaki, and he brings with him a new spirit into British
life, the spirit of the new soldier, the spirit of subordination to a
common purpose....

France, which has lived so much farther and deeper and more bitterly
than Britain, knows....[2]

[Footnote 2: In "An Englishman Looks at the World," a companion volume
to the present one, which was first published by Messrs. Cassell early
in 1914, and is now obtainable in a shilling edition, the reader will
find a full discussion of the probable benefit of proportional
representation in eliminating the party hack from political life.
Proportional representation would probably break up party organisations
altogether, and it would considerably enhance the importance and
responsibility of the Press. It would do much to accelerate the
development of the state of affairs here foreshadowed, in which the role
of government and opposition under the party system will be played by
elected representatives and Press respectively.]


Some few months ago Mr. Harold Spender, in the _Daily News_, was calling
attention to a very significant fact indeed. The higher education in
England, and more particularly the educational process of Oxford and
Cambridge, which has been going on continuously since the Middle Ages,
is practically in a state of suspense. Oxford and Cambridge have
stopped. They have stopped so completely that Mr. Spender can speculate
whether they can ever pick up again and resume upon the old lines.

For my own part, as the father of two sons who are at present in
mid-school, I hope with all my heart that they will not. I hope that the
Oxford and Cambridge of unphilosophical classics and Little-go Greek for
everybody, don's mathematics, bad French, ignorance of all Europe except
Switzerland, forensic exercises in the Union Debating Society, and cant
about the Gothic, the Oxford and Cambridge that turned boys full of life
and hope and infinite possibility into barristers, politicians,
mono-lingual diplomatists, bishops, schoolmasters, company directors,
and remittance men, are even now dead.

Quite recently I passed through Cambridge, and, with the suggestions of
Mr. Spender in my mind, I paused to savour the atmosphere of the place.
He had very greatly understated the facts of the case. He laid stress
upon the fact that instead of the normal four thousand undergraduates or
so, there are now scarcely four hundred. But before I was fairly in
Cambridge I realised that that gives no idea of the real cessation of
English education. Of the first seven undergraduates I saw upon the
Trumpington road, one was black, three were coloured, and one of the
remaining three was certainly not British, but, I should guess,
Spanish-American. And it isn't only the undergraduates who have gone.
All the dons of military age and quality have gone too, or are staying
up not in caps and gowns, but in khaki; all the vigorous teachers are
soldiering; there are no dons left except those who are unfit for
service--and the clergy. Buildings, libraries, empty laboratories, empty
lecture theatres, vestiges, refugees, neutrals, khaki; that is Cambridge

There never was before, there never may be again, so wonderful an
opportunity for a cleaning-up and sweeping-out of those two places, and
for a profitable new start in British education.

The cessation of Oxford and Cambridge does not give the full measure of
the present occasion. All the other British universities are in a like
case. And the schools which feed them have been practically swept clean
of their senior boys. And not a tithe of any of this war class of
schoolboys will ever go to the universities now, not a tithe of the war
class of undergraduates will ever return. Between the new education and
the old there will be a break of two school generations. For the next
thirty or forty years an exceptional class of men will play a leading
part in British affairs, men who will have learnt more from reality and
less from lectures than either the generations that preceded or the
generations that will follow them. The subalterns of the great war will
form a distinct generation and mark an epoch. Their experiences of need,
their sense of deficiencies, will certainly play a large part in the
reconstitution of British education. _The stamp of the old system will
not be on them_.

Now is the time to ask what sort of training should a university give to
produce the ruling, directing, and leading men which it exists to
produce? Upon that Great Britain will need to make up its mind
speedily. It is not a matter for to-morrow or the day after; it is
necessary to decide now what it is the Britain that is coming will need
and want, and to set to work revising the admission and degree
requirements, and reconstructing all those systems of public
examinations for the public services that necessarily dominate school
and university teaching, before the universities and schools reassemble.
If the rotten old things once get together again, the rotten old things
will have a new lease of life. This and no other is the hour for
educational reconstruction. And it is in the decisions and readjustments
of schools and lectures and courses, far more than anywhere else, that
the real future of Great Britain will be decided. Equally true is this
of all the belligerent countries. Much of the future has a kind of
mechanical inevitableness, but here far more than anywhere else, can a
few resolute and capable men mould the spirit and determine the quality
of the Europe to come.

Now surely the chief things that are needed in the education of a ruling
class are these--first, the selection and development of Character,
then the selection and development of Capacity, and, thirdly, the
imparting of Knowledge upon broad and comprehensive lines, and the
power of rapidly taking up and using such detailed knowledge as may be
needed for special occasions. It is upon the first count that the
British schools and universities have been most open to criticism. We
have found the British university-trained class under the fiery tests of
this war an evasive, temporising class of people, individualistic,
ungenerous, and unable either to produce or obey vigorous leadership. On
the whole, it is a matter for congratulation, it says wonderful things
for the inherent natural qualities of the English-speaking peoples, that
things have proved no worse than they are, considering the nature of the
higher education under which they have suffered.

Consider in what that educational process has consisted. Its backbone
has been the teaching of Latin by men who can read, write, and speak it
rather worse than a third-rate Babu speaks English, and of Ancient Greek
by teachers who at best half know this fine lost language. They do not
expect any real mastery of either tongue by their students, and
naturally, therefore, no real mastery is ever attained. The boys and
young men just muff about at it for three times as long as would be
needed to master completely both those tongues if they had "live"
teachers, and so they acquire habits of busy futility and petty
pedantry in all intellectual processes that haunt them throughout life.
There are also sterile mathematical studies that never get from
"exercises" to practice. There is a pretence of studying philosophy
based on Greek texts that few of the teachers and none of the taught can
read comfortably, and a certain amount of history. The Modern History
School at Oxford, for example, is the queerest collection of chunks of
reading. English history from the beginning, with occasional glances at
Continental affairs, European history for about a century, bits of
economics, and--the _Politics_ of Aristotle! It is not education; it is
a jack-daw collection....This sort of jumble has been the essentials of
the more pretentious type of "higher education" available in Great
Britain up to the present.

In this manner, through all the most sensitive and receptive years of
life, our boys have been trained in "how not to get there," in a variety
of disconnected subjects, by men who have never "got there," and it
would be difficult to imagine any curriculum more calculated to produce
a miscellaneous incompetence. They have also, it happens, received a
certain training in _savoir faire_ through the collective necessities of
school life, and a certain sharpening in the arts of advocacy through
the debating society. Except for these latter helps, they have had to
face the world with minds neither more braced, nor more trained, nor
more informed than any "uneducated" man's.

Surely the first condition that should be laid down for the new
education in Europe is that whatever is undertaken must be undertaken in
grim earnest and done. It is ridiculous to talk about the
"character-forming" value of any study that does not go through to an
end. Manifestly Greek must be dropped as a part of the general
curriculum for a highly educated man, for the simple reason that now
there are scarcely any competent teachers, and because the sham of
teaching it partially and pretentiously demoralises student and school
alike. The claim of the clergy and so forth to "know" Greek is one of
the many corrupting lies in British intellectual life. English comic
writers never weary of sneering at the Hindu who claimed to be a "failed
B.A.," but what is the ordinary classical degree man of an English
university but a "failed" Greek scholar? Latin, too, must be either
reduced to the position of a study supplementary to the native tongue,
or brought up to an honest level of efficiency.

French and German in the case of the English, and English in the case
of the French and Russians, are essentially governess languages; any
intelligent boy or girl from a reasonably prosperous home ought to be
able to read, write, and speak either before fifteen; they are to be
taken by the way rather than regarded as a fundamental part of
education. The French, German, or English literature and literary
development up to and including contemporary work is, of course, an
entirely different matter. But there can be no doubt of the great
educational value of some highly inflected and well-developed language
_taught by men to whom it is a genuine means of expression_. Educational
needs and public necessity point alike to such languages as Russian or,
in the case of Great Britain, Hindustani to supply this sound training.

If Great Britain means business after this war, if she is to do her duty
by the Eastern world she controls, she will not stick at the petty
expense of getting a few hundreds of good Russian and Hindu teachers
into the country, and she will place Russian and Hindustani upon at
least an equal footing with Greek in all her university and competitive
examinations. Moreover, it is necessary to set a definite aim of
application before university mathematical teaching. As the first
condition of character-building in all these things, the student should
do what he ostensibly sets out to do. No degree and no position should
be attainable by half accomplishment.

Of course, languages and mathematics do not by any means round off the
education of a man of the leading classes. There is no doubt much
exercise in their attainment, much value in their possession. But the
essence of the higher education is now, as it always has been,
philosophy; not the antiquated pretence of "reading" Plato and
Aristotle, but the thorough and subtle examination of those great
questions of life that most exercise and strengthen the mind. Surely
that is the essential difference of the "educated" and the "common" man.
The former has thought, and thought out thoroughly and clearly, the
relations of his mind to the universe as a whole, and of himself to the
State and life. A mind untrained in swift and adequate criticism is
essentially an uneducated mind, though it has as many languages as a
courier and as much computation as a bookie.

And what is our fundamental purpose in all this reform of our higher
education? It is neither knowledge nor technical skill, but to make our
young men talk less and think more, and to think more swiftly, surely,
and exactly. For that we want less debating society and more philosophy,
fewer prizes for forensic ability and more for strength and vigour of
analysis. The central seat of character is the mind. A man of weak
character thinks vaguely, a man of clear intellectual decisions acts
with precision and is free from vacillation. A country of educated men
acts coherently, smites swiftly, plans ahead; a country of confused
education is a country of essential muddle.

It is as the third factor in education that the handling and experience
of knowledge comes, and of all knowledge that which is most accessible,
most capable of being handled with the greatest variety of educational
benefit, so as to include the criticism of evidence, the massing of
facts, the extraction and testing of generalisations, lies in the two
groups of the biological sciences and the exact sciences. No doubt a
well-planned system of education will permit of much varied
specialisation, will, indeed, specialise those who have special gifts
from a very early age, will have corners for Greek, Hebrew, Sanscrit,
philology, archaeology, Christian theology, and so on, and so on;
nevertheless, for that great mass of sound men of indeterminate
all-round ability who are the intellectual and moral backbone of a
nation, it is in scientific studies that their best training lies,
studies most convenient to undertake and most readily applied in life.
From either of the two groups of the sciences one may pass on to
research or to technical applications leading directly to the public
service. The biological sciences broaden out through psychology and
sociology to the theory and practice of law, and to political life. They
lead also to medical and agricultural administration. The exact sciences
lead to the administrative work of industrialism, and to general

These are the broad, clear lines of the educational necessities of a
modern community, plain enough to see, so that every man who is not
blinded by prejudice and self-interest can see them to-day. We have now
before us a phase of opportunity in educational organisation that will
never recur again. Now that the apostolic succession of the old pedagogy
is broken, and the entire system discredited, it seems incredible that
it can ever again be reconstituted in its old seats upon the old lines.
In these raw, harsh days of boundless opportunity, the opportunity of
the new education, because it is the most fundamental, is assuredly the
greatest of all.


Section 1

To discuss the effect of this war upon the relations of men and women to
each other is to enter upon the analysis of a secular process compared
with which even the vast convulsions and destructions of this world
catastrophe appear only as jolts and incidents and temporary
interruptions. There are certain matters that sustain a perennial
development, that are on a scale beyond the dramatic happenings of
history; wars, the movements of peoples and races, economic changes,
such things may accelerate or stimulate or confuse or delay, but they
cannot arrest the endless thinking out, the growth and perfecting of
ideas, upon the fundamental relationships of human Beings. First among
such eternally progressive issues is religion, the relationship of man
to God; next in importance and still more immediate is the matter of
men's relations to women. In such matters each phase is a new phase;
whatever happens, there is no going back and beginning over again. The
social life, like the religious life, must grow and change until the
human story is at an end.

So that this war involves, in this as in so many matters, no fundamental
set-back, no reversals nor restorations. At the most it will but realise
things already imagined, release things latent. The nineteenth century
was a period of unprecedented modification of social relationships; but
great as these changes were, they were trivial in comparison with the
changes in religious thought and the criticism of moral ideals. Hell was
the basis of religious thinking in A.D. 1800, and the hangman was at the
back of the law; in 1900 both Hell and the hangman seemed on the verge
of extinction. The creative impulse was everywhere replacing fear and
compulsion in human motives. The opening decade of the twentieth century
was a period of unprecedented abundance in everything necessary to human
life, of vast accumulated resources, of leisure and release. It was
also, because of that and because of the changed social and religious
spirit, a period of great social disorganisation and confused impulses.

We British can already look back to the opening half of 1914 as to an
age gone for ever. Except that we were all alive then and can remember,
it has become now almost as remote, almost as "historical," as the days
before the French Revolution. Our days, our methods and reactions, are
already so different. The greater part of the freedom of movement, the
travel and going to and fro, the leisure, the plenty and carelessness,
that distinguished early twentieth century life from early nineteenth
century life, has disappeared. Most men are under military discipline,
and every household economises. The whole British people has been
brought up against such elementary realities of need, danger, and
restraint as it never realised before. We discover that we had been
living like Olympians in regard to worldly affairs, we had been
irresponsibles, amateurs. Much of that fatness of life, the wrappings
and trimmings of our life, has been stripped off altogether. That has
not altered the bones of life; it has only made them plainer; but it has
astonished us as much as if looking into a looking-glass one suddenly
found oneself a skeleton. Or a diagram.

What was going on before this war in the relations of men and women is
going on still, with more rapidity perhaps, and certainly with more
thoroughness. The war is accentuating, developing, defining. Previously
our discussions and poses and movements had merely the air of seeking
to accentuate and define. What was apparently being brought about by
discursive efforts, and in a mighty controversy and confusion, is coming
about now as a matter of course.

Before the war, in the British community as in most civilised
communities, profound changes were already in progress, changes in the
conditions of women's employment, in the legal relations of husband and
wife, in the political status of women, in the status of illegitimate
children, in manners and customs affecting the sexes. Every civilised
community was exhibiting a falling birth-rate and a falling death-rate,
was changing the quality of its housing, and diminishing domestic labour
by organising supplies and developing, appliances. That is to say, that
primary human unit, the home, was altering in shape and size and
frequency and colour and effect. A steadily increasing proportion of
people were living outside the old family home, the home based on
maternity and offspring, altogether. A number of us were doing our best
to apprehend the summation of all this flood of change. We had a vague
idea that women were somehow being "emancipated," but just what this
word meant and what it implied were matters still under exploration.
Then came the war. For a time it seemed as if all this discussion was at
an end, as if the problem itself had vanished.

But that was only a temporary distraction of attention. The process of
change swirled into new forms that did not fit very easily into the
accepted formulae, swirled into new forms and continued on its way. If
the discussion ceased for a time, the process of change ceased not at
all. Matters have travelled all the farther in the last two years for
travelling mutely. The questions between men and women are far more
important and far more incessant than the questions between Germans and
the rest of mankind. They are coming back now into the foreground of
human thought, but amended and altered. Our object is to state the
general nature of that alteration. It has still been "emancipation," but
very different in quality from the "emancipation" that was demanded so
loudly and incoherently in that ancient world--of 1913!

Never had the relations of men and women been so uneasy as they were in
the opening days of 1914. The woman's movement battered and banged
through all our minds. It broke out into that tumult in Great Britain
perhaps ten years ago. When Queen Victoria died it was inaudible; search
_Punch_, search the newspapers of that tranquil age. In 1914 it kicked
up so great a dust that the Germans counted on the Suffragettes as one
of the great forces that were to paralyse England in the war.

The extraordinary thing was that the feminist movement was never clearly
defined during all the time of its maximum violence. We begin to
perceive in the retrospect that the movement was multiple, made up of a
number of very different movements interwoven. It seemed to concentrate
upon the Vote; but it was never possible to find even why women wanted
the vote. Some, for example, alleged that it was because they were like
men, and some because they were entirely different. The broad facts that
one could not mistake were a vast feminine discontent and a vast display
of feminine energy. What had brought that about?

Two statistical factors are to be considered here. One of these was the
steady decline in the marriage rate, and the increasing proportion of
unmarried women of all classes, but particularly of the more educated
classes, requiring employment. The second was the fall in the
birth-rate, the diminution in size of the average family, the increase
of sterile unions, and the consequent release of a considerable
proportion of the energy of married women. Co-operating with these
factors of release were the economic elaborations that were improving
the appliances of domestic life, replacing the needle by the sewing
machine, the coal fire and lamp by gas and electricity, the dustpan and
brush by the pneumatic carpet cleaner, and taking out of the house into
the shop and factory the baking, much of the cooking, the making of
clothes, the laundry work, and so forth, that had hitherto kept so many
women at home and too busy to think. The care of even such children as
there were was also less arduous; creche and school held out hands for
them, ready to do even that duty better.

Side by side with these releases from duty was a rise in the standard of
education that was stimulating the minds and imaginations of woman
beyond a point where the needle--even if there had been any use for the
needle--can be an opiate. Moreover, the world was growing richer, and
growing richer in such a way that not only were leisure and desire
increasing, but, because of increasingly scientific methods of
production, the need in many branches of employment for any but very
keen and able workers was diminishing. So that simultaneously the world,
that vanished world before 1914, was releasing and disengaging enormous
volumes of untrained and unassigned feminine energy and also diminishing
the usefulness of unskilful effort in every department of life. There
was no demand to meet the supply. These were the underlying processes
that produced the feminist outbreak of the decade before the war.

Now the debate between the sexes is a perennial. It began while we were
still in the trees. It has its stereotyped accusations; its stereotyped
repartees. The Canterbury Pilgrims had little to learn from Christabel
Pankhurst. Man and woman in that duet struggle perpetually for the upper
hand, and the man restrains the woman and the woman resents the man. In
every age some voice has been heard asserting, like Plato, that the
woman is a human being; and the prompt answer has been, "but such a
different human being." Wherever there is a human difference fair play
is difficult, the universal clash of races witnesses to that, and sex is
the greatest of human differences.

But the general trend of mankind towards intelligence and reason has
been also a trend away from a superstitious treatment of sexual
questions and a recognition, so to speak, that a woman's "a man for a'
that," that she is indeed as entitled to an independent soul and a
separate voice in collective affairs. As brain has counted for more and
more in the human effort and brute strength and the advantage of not
bearing children for less and less, as man has felt a greater need for a
companion and a lesser need for a slave, and as the increase of food and
the protection of the girl from premature child-bearing has approximated
the stature and strength and enterprise of the woman more and more to
that of the man, this secular emancipation of the human female from the
old herd subordination and servitude to the patriarchal male has gone
on. Essentially the secular process has been an equalising process. It
was merely the exaggeration of its sustaining causes during the plenty
and social and intellectual expansion of the last half-century that had
stimulated this secular process to the pitch of crisis.

There have always been two extreme aspects of the sexual debate. There
have always been the oversexed women who wanted to be treated primarily
as women, and the women who were irritated and bored by being treated
primarily as women. There have always been those women who wanted to
get, like Joan of Arc, into masculine attire, and the school of the
"mystical darlings." There have always been the women who wanted to
share men's work and the women who wanted to "inspire" it--the mates and
the mistresses. Of course, the mass of women lies between these
extremes. But it is possible, nevertheless, to discuss this question as
though it were a conflict of two sharply opposed ideals. It is
convenient to write as if there were just these two sorts of women
because so one can get a sharp definition in the picture. The ordinary
woman fluctuates between the two, turns now to the Western ideal of
citizenship and now to the Eastern of submission. These ideals fight not
only in human society, but in every woman's career.

Chitra in Rabindranath Tagore's play, for example, tried both aspects of
the woman's life, and Tagore is at one with Plato in preferring the
Rosalind type to the houri. And with him I venture to think is the clear
reason of mankind. The real "emancipation" to which reason and the trend
of things makes is from the yielding to the energetic side of a woman's
disposition, from beauty enthroned for love towards the tall,
weather-hardened woman with a spear, loving her mate as her mate loves
her, and as sexless as a man in all her busy hours.

But it was not simply the energies that tended towards this particular
type that were set free during the latter half of the nineteenth
century. Every sort of feminine energy was set free. And it was not
merely the self-reliant, independence-seeking women who were
discontented. The ladies who specialised in feminine arts and graces and
mysteries were also dissatisfied. They found they were not important
enough. The former type found itself insufficiently respected, and the
latter type found itself insufficiently adored. The two mingled their
voices in the most confusing way in the literature of the suffrage
movement before the war. The two tendencies mingle confusingly in the
minds of the women that this movement was stirring up to think. The Vote
became the symbol for absolutely contradictory things; there is scarcely
a single argument for it in suffragist literature that cannot be
completely negatived out of suffragist literature.

For example, compare the writings of Miss Cicely Hamilton, the
distinguished actress, with the publications of the Pankhurst family.
The former expresses a claim that, except for prejudice, a woman is as
capable a citizen as a man and differing only in her sex; the latter
consist of a long rhapsody upon the mystical superiorities of women and
the marvellous benefits mankind will derive from handing things over to
these sacred powers. The former would get rid of sex from most human
affairs; the latter would make what our Georgian grandfathers called
"The Sex" rule the world.

Or compare, say, the dark coquettings of Miss Elizabeth Robins' "Woman's
Secret" with the virile common sense of that most brilliant young
writer, Miss Rebecca West, in her bitter onslaught on feminine
limitations in the opening chapters of "The World's Worst Failure." The
former is an extravagance of sexual mysticism. Man can never understand
women. Women always hide deep and wonderful things away beyond masculine
discovery. Men do not even suspect. Some day, perhaps--It is someone
peeping from behind a curtain, and inviting men in provocative tones to
come and play catch in a darkened harem. The latter is like some gallant
soldier cursing his silly accoutrements. It is a hearty outbreak against
that apparent necessity for elegance and sexual specialisation that
undercuts so much feminine achievement, that reduces so much feminine
art and writing to vapidity, and holds back women from the face of
danger and brave and horrible deaths. It is West to Miss Robins' East.
And yet I believe I am right in saying that all these four women
writers have jostled one another upon suffrage platforms, and that they
all suffered blows and injuries in the same cause, during the various
riots and conflicts that occurred in London in the course of the great
agitation. It was only when the agitation of the Pankhurst family, aided
by Miss Robins' remarkable book "Where are you going to ...?" took a
form that threatened to impose the most extraordinary restrictions on
the free movements of women, and to establish a sort of universal purdah
of hostility and suspicion against those degraded creatures, those
stealers and destroyers of women, "the men," that the British feminist
movement displayed any tendency to dissociate into its opposed and
divergent strands.

It is a little detail, but a very significant one in this connection,
that the committee that organised the various great suffrage processions
in London were torn by dispute about the dresses of the processionists.
It was urged that a "masculine style of costume" discredited the
movement, and women were urged to dress with a maximum of feminine
charm. Many women obtained finery they could ill afford, to take part in
these demonstrations, and minced their steps as womanly as possible to

It would be easy to overstate the efflorescence of distinctively
feminine emotion, dressiness, mysticism, and vanity upon the suffrage
movement. Those things showed for anyone to see. This was the froth of
the whirlpool. What did not show was the tremendous development of the
sense of solidarity among women. Everybody knew that women had been
hitting policemen at Westminster; it was not nearly so showy a fact that
women of title, working women, domestic servants, tradesmen's wives,
professional workers, had all been meeting together and working together
in a common cause, working with an unprecedented capacity and an
unprecedented disregard of social barriers. One noted the nonsensical
by-play of the movement; the way in which women were accustoming
themselves to higher standards of achievement was not so immediately
noticeable. That a small number of women were apparently bent on
rendering the Vote impossible by a campaign of violence and malicious
mischief very completely masked the fact that a very great number of
girls and young women no longer considered it seemly to hang about at
home trying by a few crude inducements to tempt men to marry them, but
were setting out very seriously and capably to master the young man's
way of finding a place for oneself in the world. Beneath the dust and
noise realities were coming about that the dust and noise entirely
failed to represent. We know that some women were shrieking for the
Vote; we did not realise that a generation of women was qualifying for

The war came, the jolt of an earthquake, to throw things into their
proper relationships.

The immediate result was the disappearance of the militant suffragists
from public view for a time, into which the noisier section hastened to
emerge in full scream upon the congenial topic of War Babies. "Men,"
those dreadful creatures, were being camped and quartered all over the
country. It followed, from all the social principles known to Mrs. and
Miss Pankhurst, that it was necessary to provide for an enormous number
of War Babies. Subscriptions were invited. Statisticians are still
looking rather perplexedly for those War Babies; the illegitimate
birth-rate has fallen, and what has become of the subscriptions I do not
know. _The Suffragette_ rechristened itself _Britannia_, dropped the War
Baby agitation, and, after an interlude of self-control, broke out into
denunciations, first of this public servant and then of that, as
traitors and German spies. Finally, it discovered a mare's nest in the
case of Sir Edward Grey that led to its suppression, and the last I
have from this misleading and unrepresentative feminist faction is the
periodic appearance of a little ill-printed sheet of abuse about the
chief Foreign Office people, resembling in manner and appearance the
sort of denunciatory letter, at once suggestive and evasive, that might
be written by the curate's discharged cook. And with that the aggressive
section of the suffragist movement seems to have petered out, leaving
the broad reality of feminine emancipation to go on in a beneficent

There can be no question that the behaviour of the great mass of women
in Great Britain has not simply exceeded expectation but hope. And there
can be as little doubt that the suffrage question, in spite of the
self-advertising violence of its extravagant section, did contribute
very materially to build up the confidence, the willingness to undertake
responsibility and face hardship, that has been so abundantly displayed
by every class of woman. It is not simply that there has been enough
women and to spare for hospital work and every sort of relief and
charitable service; that sort of thing has been done before, that was in
the tradition of womanhood. It is that at every sort of occupation,
clerking, shop-keeping, railway work, automobile driving, agricultural
work, police work, they have been found efficient beyond precedent and
intelligent beyond precedent. And in the munition factories, in the
handling of heavy and often difficult machinery, and in adaptability and
inventiveness and enthusiasm and steadfastness their achievement has
been astonishing. More particularly in relation to intricate mechanical
work is their record remarkable and unexpected.

There is scarcely a point where women, having been given a chance, have
not more than made good. They have revolutionised the estimate of their
economic importance, and it is scarcely too much to say that when, in
the long run, the military strength of the Allies bears down the
strength of Germany, it will be this superiority of our women which
enables us to pit a woman at--the censorship will object to exact
geography upon this point--against a man at Essen which has tipped the
balance of this war.

Those women have won the vote. Not the most frantic outbursts of
militancy after this war can prevent them getting it. The girls who have
faced death and wounds so gallantly in our cordite factories--there is a
not inconsiderable list of dead and wounded from those places--have
killed for ever the poor argument that women should not vote because
they had no military value. Indeed, they have killed every argument
against their subjection. And while they do these things, that paragon
of the virtues of the old type, that miracle of domestic obedience, the
German _haus-frau_, the faithful Gretchen, riots for butter.

And as I have before remarked, the Germans counted on the suffragettes
as one of the great forces that were to paralyse England in this war.

It is not simply that the British women have so bountifully produced
intelligence and industry; that does not begin their record. They have
been willing to go dowdy. The mass of women in Great Britain are wearing
the clothes of 1914. In 1913 every girl and woman one saw in the streets
of London had an air of doing her best to keep in the fashion. Now they
are for the most part as carelessly dressed as a busy business man or a
clever young student might have been. They are none the less pretty for
that, and far more beautiful. But the fashions have floated away to
absurdity. Every now and then through the austere bustle of London in
war time drifts a last practitioner of the "eternal feminine"--with the
air of a foreign visitor, with the air of devotion to some peculiar
cult. She has very high-heeled boots; she shows a leg, she has a short
skirt with a peculiar hang, due no doubt to mysteries about the waist;
she wears a comic little hat over one brow; there is something of
Columbine about her, something of the Watteau shepherdess, something of
a vivandiere, something of every age but the present age. Her face,
subject to the strange dictates of the mode, is smooth like the back of
a spoon, with small features and little whisker-like curls before the
ears such as butcher-boys used to wear half a century ago. Even so, she
dare not do this thing alone. Something in khaki is with her, to justify
her. You are to understand that this strange rig is for seeing him off
or giving him a good time during his leave. Sometimes she is quite
elderly, sometimes nothing khaki is to be got, and the pretence that
this is desired of her wears thin. Still, the type will out.

She does not pass with impunity, the last exponent of true feminine
charm. The vulgar, the street boy, have evolved one of those strange
sayings that have the air of being fragments from some lost and
forgotten chant:

"She's the Army Contractor's Only Daughter,
Spending it now."

Or simply, "Spending it now."

She does not pass with impunity, but she passes. She makes her stilted
passage across the arena upon which the new womanhood of Western Europe
shows its worth. It is an exit. There is likely to be something like a
truce in the fashions throughout Europe for some years. It is in America
if anywhere that the holy fires of smartness and the fashion will be
kept alive....

And so we come to prophecy.

I do not believe that this invasion by women of a hundred employments
hitherto closed to them is a temporary arrangement that will be reversed
after the war. It is a thing that was going on, very slowly, it is true,
and against much prejudice and opposition, before the war, but it was
going on; it is in the nature of things. These women no doubt enter
these employments as substitutes, but not usually as inferior
substitutes; in quite a number of cases they are as good as men, and in
many they are not underselling, they are drawing men's pay. What reason
is there to suppose that they will relapse into a state of superfluous
energy after the war? The war has merely brought about, with the
rapidity of a landslide, a state of affairs for which the world was
ripe. The world after the war will have to adjust itself to this
extension of women's employment, and to this increase in the proportion
of self-respecting, self-supporting women.

Contributing very largely to the establishment of this greatly enlarged
class of independent women will be the great shortage for the next
decade of marriageable men, due to the killing and disablement of the
war. The women of the next decades will not only be able to get along
economically without marriage, but they will find it much more difficult
to marry. It will also probably be a period in which a rise in prices
may, as it usually does, precede the compensating rise in wages. It may
be that for some years it will be more difficult to maintain a family.
This will be a third factor in the fixation of this class of bachelor

Various writers, brooding over the coming shortage of men, have jumped
to the conclusion that polygamy is among the probabilities of the near
future. They write in terms of real or affected alarm for which there is
no justification; they wallow in visions of Germany "legalising"
polygamy, and see Berlin seeking recuperation, in man power by
converting herself into another Salt Lake City. But I do not think that
Germany, in the face of the economic ring that the Allies will certainly
draw about her, is likely to desire a very great increase in population
for the next few years; I do not see any great possibility of a
specially rich class capable of maintaining numerous wives being
sustained by the impoverished and indebted world of Europe, nor the
sources from which a supply of women preferring to become constituents
in a polygamous constellation rather than self-supporting freewomen is
to be derived.

The temperamental dislike of intelligent women to polygamy is at least
as strong as a man's objection to polyandry. Polygamy, open or hidden,
flourishes widely only where there are women to be bought. Moreover,
there are considerable obstacles in religion and custom to be overcome
by the innovating polygamist--even in Germany. It might mean a breach of
the present good relations between Germany and the Vatican. The relative
inferiority of the tradition of the German to that of most other
European women, its relative disposition towards feminine servitude, is
no doubt a consideration on the other scale of this discussion, but I do
not think it is one heavy enough to tilt back the beam.

So far from a great number of men becoming polygamists, I think it would
be possible to show cause for supposing that an increasing proportion
will cease even to be monogamists. The romantic excitements of the war
have produced a temporary rise in the British marriage rate; but before
the war it had been falling slowly and the average age at marriage had
been rising, and it is quite possible that this process will be
presently resumed and, as a new generation grows up to restore the
balance of the sexes, accelerated.

We conclude, therefore, that this increase in the class of economically
independent bachelor women that is now taking place is a permanent
increase. It is probably being reinforced by a considerable number of
war widows who will not remarry. We have to consider in what directions
this mass of capable, intelligent, energetic, undomesticated freewomen
is likely to develop, what its effect will be on social usage, and
particularly how it will react upon the lives of the married women about
them. Because, as we have already pointed out in this chapter, the
release of feminine energy upon which the feminist problem depends is
twofold, being due not only to the increased unmarriedness of women
through the disproportion of the sexes and the rise in the age of
marriage, but also to the decreased absorption of married women in
domestic duties. A woman, from the point of view of this discussion, is
not "married and done for," as she used to be. She is not so
extensively and completely married. Her large and increasing leisure
remains in the problem.

The influence of this coming body of freewomen upon the general social
atmosphere will be, I venture to think, liberalising and relaxing in
certain directions and very bracing in others. This new type of women
will want to go about freely without an escort, to be free to travel
alone, take rooms in hotels, sit in restaurants, and so forth. Now, as
the women of the past decade showed, there are for a woman two quite
antagonistic ways of going about alone. Nothing showed the duplicate
nature of the suffragist movement more than the great variety of
deportment of women in the London streets during that time. There were
types that dressed neatly and quietly and went upon their business with
intent and preoccupied faces. Their intention was to mingle as
unobtrusively as possible into the stream of business, to be as far as
possible for the ordinary purposes of traffic "men in a world of men." A
man could speak to such women as he spoke to another man, without
suspicion, could, for example, ask his way and be directed without being
charged with annoying or accosting a delicate female.

At the other extreme there was a type of young woman who came into the
streets like something precious that has got loose. It dressed itself
as feminine loveliness; it carried sex like a banner and like a
challenge. Its mind was fully prepared by the Pankhurst literature for
insult. It swept past distressed manhood imputing motives. It was pure
hareem, and the perplexed masculine intelligence could never determine
whether it was out for a demonstration or whether it was out for a
spree. Its motives in thus marching across the path of feminine
emancipation were probably more complicated and confused than that
alternative suggests, and sheer vanity abounded in the mixture. But
undoubtedly that extremity is the vanishing extremity of these things.
The new freewoman is going to be a grave and capable being, soberly
dressed, and imposing her own decency and neutrality of behaviour upon
the men she meets. And along the line of sober costume and simple and
restrained behaviour that the freewoman is marking out, the married
woman will also escape to new measures of freedom.

I do not believe that among women of the same social origins and the
same educational quality there can exist side by side entirely distinct
schools of costume, deportment, and behaviour based on entirely
divergent views of life. I do not think that men can be trained to
differentiate between different sorts of women, sorts of women they will
often be meeting simultaneously, and to treat this one with frankness
and fellowship and that one with awe passion and romantic old-world
gallantry. All sorts of intermediate types--the majority of women will
be intermediate types--will complicate the problem. This conflict of the
citizen-woman ideal with the loveliness-woman ideal, which was breaking
out very plainly in the British suffrage movement before the war, will
certainly return after the war, and I have little doubt which way the
issue will fall. The human being is going to carry it against the sexual
being. The struggle is going to be extensive and various and prolonged,
but in the serious years ahead the serious type must, I feel, win. The
plain, well-made dress will oust the ribbon and the decolletage.

In every way the war is accelerating the emancipation of women from
sexual specialisation. It is facilitating their economic emancipation.
It is liberating types that will inevitably destroy both the "atmosphere
of gallantry" which is such a bar to friendliness between people of
opposite sexes and that atmosphere of hostile distrust which is its
counterpart in the minds of the over-sexual suffragettes. It is
arresting the change of fashions and simplifying manners.

In another way also it is working to the same end. That fall in the
birth-rate which has been so marked a feature in the social development
of all modern states has become much more perceptible since the war
began to tell upon domestic comfort. There is a full-cradle agitation
going on in Germany to check this decline; German mothers are being
urged not to leave the Crown Prince of 1930 or 1940 without the
necessary material for glory at some fresh Battle of Verdun. I doubt the
zeal of their response. But everywhere the war signifies economic stress
which must necessarily continue long after the war is over, and in the
present state of knowledge that stress means fewer children. The family,
already light, will grow lighter. This means that marriage, although it
may be by no means less emotionally sacred, will become a lighter thing.

Once, to be married was a woman's whole career. Household cares, a dozen
children, and she was consumed. All her romances ended in marriage. All
a decent man's romance ended there, too. She proliferated and he toiled,
and when the married couple had brought up some of their children and
buried the others, and blessed their first grandchildren, life was

Now, to be married is an incident in a woman's career, as in a man's.
There is not the same necessity of that household, not the same close
tie; the married woman remains partially a freewoman and assimilates
herself to the freewoman. There is an increasing disposition to group
solitary children and to delegate their care to specially qualified
people, and this is likely to increase, because the high earning power
of young women will incline them to entrust their children to others,
and because a shortage of men and an excess of widows will supply other
women willing to undertake that care. The more foolish women will take
these releases as a release into levity, but the common sense of the
newer types of women will come to the help of men in recognising the
intolerable nuisance of this prolongation of flirting and charming on
the part of people who have had what should be a satisfying love.

Nor will there be much wealth or superfluity to make levity possible and
desirable. Winsome and weak womanhood will be told bluntly by men and
women alike that it is a bore. The frou-frou of skirts, the delicate
mysteries of the toilette, will cease to thrill any but the very young
men. Marriage, deprived of its bonds of material necessity, will demand
a closer and closer companionship as its justification and excuse. A
marriage that does not ripen into a close personal friendship between
two equals will be regarded with increasing definiteness as an
unsatisfactory marriage.

These things are not stated here as being desirable or undesirable. This
is merely an attempt to estimate the drift and tendency of the time as
it has been accentuated by the war. It works out to the realisation that
marriage is likely to count for less and less as a state and for more
and more as a personal relationship. It is likely to be an affair of
diminishing public and increasing private importance. People who marry
are likely to remain, so far as practical ends go, more detached and
separable. The essential link will be the love and affection and not the

With that go certain logical consequences. The first is that the
circumstances of the unmarried mother will resemble more than they have
hitherto done those of many married mothers; the harsh lines once drawn
between them will dissolve. This will fall in with the long manifest
tendency in modern society to lighten the disadvantages (in the case of
legacy duties, for example) and stigma laid upon illegitimate children.
And a type of marriage where personal compatibility has come to be
esteemed the fundamental thing will be altogether more amenable to
divorce than the old union which was based upon the kitchen and the
nursery, and the absence of any care, education, or security for
children beyond the range of the parental household. Marriage will not
only be lighter, but more dissoluble.

To summarise all that has gone before, this war is accelerating rather
than deflecting the stream of tendency, and is bringing us rapidly to a
state of affairs in which women will be much more definitely independent
of their sexual status, much less hampered in their self-development,
and much more nearly equal to men than has ever been known before in the
whole history of mankind....


Section 1

In this chapter it is proposed to embark upon what may seem now, with
the Great War still in progress and still undecided, the most hopeless
of all prophetic adventures. This is to speculate upon the redrawing of
the map of Europe after the war. But because the detailed happenings and
exact circumstances of the ending of the war are uncertain, they need
not alter the inevitable broad conclusion. I have already discussed that
conclusion, and pointed out that the war has become essentially a war of
mutual exhaustion. This does not mean, as some hasty readers may assume,
that I foretell a "draw." We may be all white and staggering, but
Germany is, I believe, fated to go down first. She will make the first
advances towards peace; she will ultimately admit defeat.

But I do want to insist that by that time every belligerent, and not
simply Germany, will be exhausted to a pitch of extreme reasonableness.
There will be no power left as Germany was left in 1871, in a state of
"freshness" and a dictatorial attitude. That is to say they will all be
gravitating, not to triumphs, but to such a settlement as seems to
promise the maximum of equilibrium in the future.

If towards the end of the war the United States should decide, after
all, to abandon their present attitude of superior comment and throw
their weight in favour of such a settlement as would make the
recrudescence of militarism impossible, the general exhaustion may give
America a relative importance far beyond any influence she could exert
at the present time. In the end, America may have the power to insist
upon almost vital conditions in the settlement; though whether she will
have the imaginative force and will is, of course, quite another

And before I go on to speculate about the actual settlement, there are
one or two generalisations that it may be interesting to try over. Law
is a thin wash that we paint over the firm outlines of reality, and the
treaties and agreements of emperors and kings and statesmen have little
of the permanence of certain more fundamental human realities. I was
looking the other day at Sir Mark Sykes' "The Caliph's Inheritance,"
which contains a series of coloured maps of the political boundaries of
south-western Asia for the last three thousand years. The shapes and
colours come and go--now it is Persia, now it is Macedonia, now the
Eastern Empire, now the Arab, now the Turk who is ascendant. The colours
change as if they were in a kaleidoscope; they advance, recede, split,
vanish. But through all that time there exists obstinately an Armenia,
an essential Persia, an Arabia; they, too, advance or recede a little. I
do not claim that they are eternal things, but they are far more
permanent things than any rulers or empires; they are rooted to the
ground by a peasantry, by a physical and temperamental attitude. Apart
from political maps of mankind, there are natural maps of mankind. I
find it, too, in Europe; the monarchs splash the water and break up the
mirror in endless strange shapes; nevertheless, always it is tending
back to its enduring forms; always it is gravitating back to a Spain, to
a Gaul, to an Italy, to a Serbo-Croatia, to a Bulgaria, to a Germany, to
a Poland. Poland and Armenia and Egypt destroyed, subjugated,
invincible, I would take as typical of what I mean by the natural map of

Let me repeat again that I do not assert there is an eternal map. It
does change; there have been times--the European settlement of America
and Siberia, for example, the Arabic sweep across North Africa, the
invasion of Britain by the Low German peoples--when it has changed very
considerably in a century or so; but at its swiftest it still takes
generations to change. The gentlemen who used to sit in conferences and

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