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  • 1908
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the less necessary, just as a cloud upon a mountain or sunlight remotely seen upon the sea are as real as, and to many people far more necessary than, pork chops. The driven swine may root and take no heed, but man the dreamer drives. And because these things are vague and impalpable and wilfully attained, it is none the less important that they should be rendered with all the truth of one’s being. To be atmospherically vague is one thing; to be haphazard, wanton and untruthful, quite another.

But here I may give a specific answer to a question that many find profoundly important, though indeed it is already implicitly answered in what has gone before.

I do not believe I have any personal immortality. I am part of an immortality perhaps; but that is different. I am not the continuing thing. I personally am experimental, incidental. I feel I have to do something, a number of things no one else could do, and then I am finished and finished altogether. Then my substance returns to the common lot. I am a temporary enclosure for a temporary purpose; that served, and my skull and teeth, my idiosyncracy and desire, will disperse, I believe, like the timbers of a booth after a fair.

Let me shift my ground a little and ask you to consider what is involved in the opposite belief.

My idea of the unknown scheme is of something so wide and deep that I cannot conceive it encumbered by my egotism perpetually. I shall serve my purpose and pass under the wheel and end. That distresses me not at all. Immortality would distress and perplex me. If I may put this in a mixture of theological and social language, I cannot respect, I cannot believe in a God who is always going about with me.

But this is after all what I feel is true and what I choose to believe. It is not a matter of fact. So far as that goes there is no evidence that I am immortal and none that I am not.

I may be altogether wrong in my beliefs; I may be misled by the appearances of things. I believe in the great and growing Being of the Species from which I rise, to which I return, and which, it may be, will ultimately even transcend the limitation of the Species and grow into the Conscious Being, the eternally conscious Being of all things. Believing that, I cannot also believe that my peculiar little thread will not undergo synthesis and vanish as a separate thing.

And what after all is my distinctive something, a few capacities, a few incapacities, an uncertain memory, a hesitating presence? It matters no doubt in its place and time, as all things matter in their place and time, but where in it all is the eternally indispensable? The great things of my life, love, faith, the intimation of beauty, the things most savouring of immortality, are the things most general, the things most shared and least distinctively me.


And here perhaps, before I go on to the question of Conduct, is the place to define a relationship to that system of faith and religious observance out of which I and most of my readers have come. How do these beliefs on which I base my rule of conduct stand to Christianity?

They do not stand in any attitude of antagonism. A religious system so many-faced and so enduring as Christianity must necessarily be saturated with truth even if it be not wholly true. To assume, as the Atheist and Deist seem to do, that Christianity is a sort of disease that came upon civilization, an unprofitable and wasting disease, is to deny that conception of a progressive scheme and rightness which we have taken as our basis of belief. As I have already confessed, the Scheme of Salvation, the idea of a process of sorrow and atonement, presents itself to me as adequately true. So far I do not think my new faith breaks with my old. But it follows as a natural consequence of my metaphysical preliminaries that I should find the Christian theology Aristotelian, over defined and excessively personified. The painted figure of that bearded ancient upon the Sistine Chapel, or William Blake’s wild-haired, wild-eyed Trinity, convey no nearer sense of God to me than some mother-of-pearl-eyed painted and carven monster from the worship of the South Sea Islanders. And the Miltonic fable of the offended creator and the sacrificial son! it cannot span the circle of my ideas; it is a little thing, and none the less little because it is intimate, flesh of my flesh and spirit of my spirit, like the drawings of my youngest boy. I put it aside as I would put aside the gay figure of a costumed officiating priest. The passage of time has made his canonicals too strange, too unlike my world of common thought and costume. These things helped, but now they hinder and disturb. I cannot bring myself back to them…

But the psychological experience and the theology of Christianity are only a ground-work for its essential feature, which is the conception of a relationship of the individual believer to a mystical being at once human and divine, the Risen Christ. This being presents itself to the modern consciousness as a familiar and beautiful figure, associated with a series of sayings and incidents that coalesce with a very distinct and rounded-off and complete effect of personality. After we have cleared off all the definitions of theology, He remains, mystically suffering for humanity, mystically asserting that love in pain and sacrifice in service are the necessary substance of Salvation. Whether he actually existed as a finite individual person in the opening of the Christian era seems to me a question entirely beside the mark. The evidence at this distance is of imperceptible force for or against. The Christ we know is quite evidently something different from any finite person, a figure, a conception, a synthesis of emotions, experiences and inspirations, sustained by and sustaining millions of human souls.

Now it seems to be the common teaching of almost all Christians, that Salvation, that is to say the consolidation and amplification of one’s motives through the conception of a general scheme or purpose, is to be attained through the personality of Christ. Christ is made cardinal to the act of Faith. The act of Faith, they assert, is not simply, as I hold it to be, BELIEF, but BELIEF IN HIM.

We are dealing here, be it remembered, with beliefs deliberately undertaken and not with questions of fact. The only matters of fact material here are facts of experience. If in your experience Salvation is attainable through Christ, then certainly Christianity is true for you. And if a Christian asserts that my belief is a false light and that presently I shall “come to Christ,” I cannot disprove his assertion. I can but disbelieve it. I hesitate even to make the obvious retort.

I hope I shall offend no susceptibilities when I assert that this great and very definite personality in the hearts and imaginations of mankind does not and never has attracted me. It is a fact I record about myself without aggression or regret. I do not find myself able to associate Him in any way with the emotion of Salvation.

I admit the splendid imaginative appeal in the idea of a divine-human friend and mediator. If it were possible to have access by prayer, by meditation, by urgent outcries of the soul, to such a being whose feet were in the darknesses, who stooped down from the light, who was at once great and little, limitless in power and virtue and one’s very brother; if it were possible by sheer will in believing to make and make one’s way to such a helper, who would refuse such help? But I do not find such a being in Christ. I do not find, I cannot imagine, such a being. I wish I could. To me the Christian Christ seems not so much a humanized God as an incomprehensibly sinless being neither God nor man. His sinlessness wears his incarnation like a fancy dress, all his white self unchanged. He had no petty weaknesses.

Now the essential trouble of my life is its petty weaknesses. If I am to have that love, that sense of understanding fellowship, which is, I conceive, the peculiar magic and merit of this idea of a personal Saviour, then I need someone quite other than this image of virtue, this terrible and incomprehensible Galilean with his crown of thorns, his blood-stained hands and feet. I cannot love him any more than I can love a man upon the rack. Even in the face of torments I do not think I should feel a need for him. I had rather then a hundred times have Botticelli’s armed angel in his Tobit at Florence. (I hope I do not seem to want to shock in writing these things, but indeed my only aim is to lay my feelings bare.) I know what love for an idealized person can be. It happens that in my younger days I found a character in the history of literature who had a singular and extraordinary charm for me, of whom the thought was tender and comforting, who indeed helped me through shames and humiliations as though he held my hand. This person was Oliver Goldsmith. His blunders and troubles, his vices and vanities, seized and still hold my imagination. The slights of Boswell, the contempt of Gibbon and all his company save Johnson, the exquisite fineness of spirit in his “Vicar of Wakefield,” and that green suit of his and the doctor’s cane and the love despised, these things together made him a congenial saint and hero for me, so that I thought of him as others pray. When I think of that youthful feeling for Goldsmith, I know what I need in a personal Saviour, as a troglodyte who has seen a candle can imagine the sun. But the Christian Christ in none of his three characteristic phases, neither as the magic babe (from whom I am cut off by the wanton and indecent purity of the Immaculate Conception), nor as the white-robed, spotless miracle worker, nor as the fierce unreal torment of the cross, comes close to my soul. I do not understand the Agony in the Garden; to me it is like a scene from a play in an unknown tongue. The la t cry of despair is the one human touch, discordant with all the rest of the story. One cry of despair does not suffice. The Christian’s Christ is too fine for me, not incarnate enough, not flesh enough, not earth enough. He was never foolish and hot-eared and inarticulate, never vain, he never forgot things, nor tangled his miracles. I could love him I think more easily if the dead had not risen and if he had lain in peace in his sepulchre instead of coming back more enhaloed and whiter than ever, as a postscript to his own tragedy.

When I think of the Resurrection I am always reminded of the “happy endings” that editors and actor managers are accustomed to impose upon essentially tragic novels and plays…

You see how I stand in this matter, puzzled and confused by the Christian presentation of Christ. I know there are many will answer–as I suppose my friend the Rev. R.J. Campbell would answer–that what confuses me is the overlaying of the personality of Jesus by stories and superstitions and conflicting symbols; he will in effect ask me to disentangle the Christ I need from the accumulated material, choosing and rejecting. Perhaps one may do that. He does, I know, so present Him as a man inspired, and strenuously, inadequately and erringly presenting a dream of human brotherhood and the immediate Kingdom of Heaven on earth and so blundering to his failure and death. But that will be a recovered and restored person he would give me, and not the Christ the Christians worship and declare they love, in whom they find their Salvation.

When I write “declare they love” I throw doubt intentionally upon the universal love of Christians for their Saviour. I have watched men and nations in this matter. I am struck by the fact that so many Christians fall back upon more humanized figures, upon the tender figure of Mary, upon patron saints and such more erring creatures, for the effect of mediation and sympathy they need.

You see it comes to this: that I think Christianity has been true and is for countless people practically true, but that it is not true now for me, and that for most people it is true only with modifications. Every believing Christian is, I am sure, my spiritual brother, but if systematically I called myself a Christian I feel that to most men I should imply too much and so tell a lie.


In the same manner, in varying degree, I hold all religions to be in a measure true. Least comprehensible to me are the Indian formulae, because they seem to stand not on common experience but on those intellectual assumptions my metaphysical analysis destroys. Transmigration of souls without a continuing memory is to my mind utter foolishness, the imagining of a race of children. The aggression, discipline and submission of Mahommedanism makes, I think, an intellectually limited but fine and honourable religion–for men. Its spirit if not its formulae is abundantly present in our modern world. Mr. Rudyard Kipling, for example, manifestly preaches a Mahommedan God, a modernised God with a taste for engineering. I have no doubt that in devotion to a virile, almost national Deity and to the service of His Empire of stern Law and Order, efficiently upheld, men have found and will find Salvation.

All these religions are true for me as Canterbury Cathedral is a true thing and as a Swiss chalet is a true thing. There they are, and they have served a purpose, they have worked. Men and women have lived in and by them. Men and women still do. Only they are not true for me to live in them. I have, I believe, to live in a new edifice of my own discovery. They do not work for me.

These schemes are true, and also these schemes are false! in the sense that new things, new phrasings, have to replace them.


Such are the essential beliefs by which I express myself. But now comes the practical outcome of these things, and that is to discuss and show how upon this metaphysical basis and these beliefs, and in obedience to the ruling motive that arises with them, I frame principles of conduct.




I hold that the broad direction of conduct follows necessarily from belief. The believer does not require rewards and punishments to direct him to the right. Motive and idea are not so separable. To believe truly is to want to do right. To get salvation is to be unified by a comprehending idea of a purpose and by a ruling motive.

The believer wants to do right, he naturally and necessarily seeks to do right. If he fails to do right, if he finds he has done wrong instead of right, he is not greatly distressed or terrified, he naturally and cheerfully does his best to correct his error. He can be damned only by the fading and loss of his belief. And naturally he recurs to and refreshes his belief.

I write in phrases that the evangelical Christianity of my childhood made familiar to me, because they are the most expressive phrases I have ever met for the psychological facts with which I am dealing.

But faith, though it banishes fear and despair and brings with it a real prevailing desire to know and do the Good, does not in itself determine what is the Good or supply any simple guide to the choice between alternatives. If it did, there would be nothing more to be said, this book upon conduct would be unnecessary.


It seems to me one of the heedless errors of those who deal in philosophy, to suppose all things that have simple names or unified effects are in their nature simple and may be discovered and isolated as a sort of essence by analysis. It is natural to suppose–and I think it is also quite wrong to suppose–that such things as Good and Beauty can be abstracted from good and beautiful things and considered alone. But pure Good and pure Beauty are to me empty terms. It seems to me that these are in their nature synthetic things, that they arise out of the coming together of contributory things and conditions, and vanish at their dispersal; they are synthetic just as more obviously Harmony is synthetic. It is consequently not possible to give a definition of Good, just as it is not possible to give a definition of that other something which is so closely akin to it, Beauty. Nor is it to be maintained that what is good for one is good for another. But what is good of one’s general relations and what is right in action must be determined by the nature of one’s beliefs about the purpose in things. I have set down my broad impression of that purpose in respect to me, as the awakening and development of the consciousness and will of our species, and I have confessed my belief that in subordinating myself and all my motives to that idea lies my Salvation. It follows from that, that the good life is the life that most richly gathers and winnows and prepares experience and renders it available for the race, that contributes most effectively to the collective growth.

This is in general terms my idea of Good. So soon as one passes from general terms to the question of individual good, one encounters individuality; for everyone in the differing quality and measure of their personality and powers and possibilities, good and right must be different. We are all engaged, each contributing from his or her own standpoint, in the collective synthesis; whatever one can best do, one must do that; in whatever manner one can best help the synthesis, one must exert oneself; the setting apart of oneself, secrecy, the service of secret and personal ends, is the waste of life and the essential quality of Sin.

That is the general expression for right living as I conceive it.


In the study of what is Good, it is very convenient to make a rough division of our subject into general and particular. There are first the interests and problems that affect us all collectively, in which we have a common concern and from which no one may legitimately seek exemption; of these interests and problems we may fairly say every man should do so and so, or so and so, or the law should be so and so, or so and so; and secondly there are those other problems in which individual difference and the interplay of one or two individualities is predominant. This is of course no hard and fast classification, but it gives a method of approach. We can begin with the generalized person in ourselves and end with individuality.

In the world of ideas about me, I have found going on a great social and political movement that correlates itself with my conception of a great synthesis of human purpose as the aspect towards us of the universal scheme. This movement is Socialism. Socialism is to me no clear-cut system of theories and dogmas; it is one of those solid and extensive and synthetic ideas that are better indicated by a number of different formulae than by one, just as one only realizes a statue by walking round it and seeing it from a number of points of view. I do not think it is to be completely expressed by any one system of formulae or by any one man. Its common quality from nearly every point of view is the subordination of the will of the self-seeking individual to the idea of a racial well-being embodied in an organized state, organized for every end that can be obtained collectively. Upon that I seize; that is the value of Socialism for me.

Socialism for me is a common step we are all taking in the great synthesis of human purpose. It is the organization, in regard to a great mass of common and fundamental interests that have hitherto been dispersedly served, of a collective purpose.

I see humanity scattered over the world, dispersed, conflicting, unawakened… I see human life as avoidable waste and curable confusion. I see peasants living in wretched huts knee-deep in manure, mere parasites on their own pigs and cows; I see shy hunters wandering in primaeval forests; I see the grimy millions who slave for industrial production; I see some who are extravagant and yet contemptible creatures of luxury, and some leading lives of shame and indignity; tens of thousands of wealthy people wasting lives in vulgar and unsatisfying trivialities, hundreds of thousands meanly chaffering themselves, rich or poor, in the wasteful byways of trade; I see gamblers, fools, brutes, toilers, martyrs. Their disorder of effort, the spectacle of futility, fills me with a passionate desire to end waste, to create order, to develop understanding… All these people reflect and are part of the waste and discontent of my life, and this co-ordination of the species to a common general end, and the quest for my personal salvation, are the social and the individual aspect of essentially the same desire…

And yet dispersed as all these people are, they are far more closely drawn together to common ends and common effort than the filthy savages who ate food rotten and uncooked in the age of unpolished stone. They live in the mere opening phase of a synthesis of effort the end of which surpasses our imagination. Such intercourse and community as they have is only a dawn. We look towards the day, the day of the organized civilized world state. The first clear intimation of that conscious synthesis of human thought to which I look, the first edge of the dayspring, has arisen–as Socialism, as I conceive of Socialism. Socialism is to me no more and no less than the awakening of a collective consciousness in humanity, a collective will and a collective mind out of which finer individualities may arise forever in a perpetual series of fresh endeavours and fresh achievements for the race.


It is necessary to point out that a Socialism arising in this way out of the conception of a synthesis of the will and thought of the species will necessarily differ from conceptions of Socialism arrived at in other and different ways. It is based on a self-discontent and self-abnegation and not on self-satisfaction, and it will be a scheme of persistent thought and construction, essentially, and it will support this or that method of law-making, or this or that method of economic exploitation, or this or that matter of social grouping, only incidentally and in relation to that.

Such a conception of Socialism is very remote in spirit, however it may agree in method, from that philanthropic administrative socialism one finds among the British ruling and administrative class. That seems to me to be based on a pity which is largely unjustifiable and a pride that is altogether unintelligent. The pity is for the obvious wants and distresses of poverty, the pride appears in the arrogant and aggressive conception of raising one’s fellows. I have no strong feeling for the horrors and discomforts of poverty as such, sensibilities can be hardened to endure the life led by the “Romans” in Dartmoor jail a hundred years ago (See “The Story of Dartmoor Prison” by Basil Thomson (Heinemann–1907).), or softened to detect the crumpled rose-leaf; what disgusts me is the stupidity and warring purposes of which poverty is the outcome. When it comes to the idea of raising human beings, I must confess the only person I feel concerned about raising is H.G. Wells, and that even in his case my energies might be better employed. After all, presently he must die and the world will have done with him. His output for the species is more important than his individual elevation.

Moreover, all this talk of raising implies a classification I doubt. I find it hard to fix any standards that will determine who is above me and who below. Most people are different from me I perceive, but which among them is better, which worse? I have a certain power of communicating with other minds, but what experiences I communicate seem often far thinner and poorer stuff than those which others less expressive than I half fail to communicate and half display to me. My “inferiors,” judged by the common social standards, seem indeed intellectually more limited than I and with a narrower outlook; they are often dirtier and more driven, more under the stress of hunger and animal appetites; but on the other hand have they not more vigorous sensations than I, and through sheer coarsening and hardening of fibre, the power to do more toilsome things and sustain intenser sensations than I could endure? When I sit upon the bench, a respectable magistrate, and commit some battered reprobate for trial for this lurid offence or that, or send him or her to prison for drunkenness or such-like indecorum, the doubt drifts into my mind which of us after all is indeed getting nearest to the keen edge of life. Are I and my respectable colleagues much more than successful evasions of THAT? Perhaps these people in the dock know more of the essential strains and stresses of nature, are more intimate with pain. At any rate I do not think I am justified in saying certainly that they do not know…

No, I do not want to raise people using my own position as a standard, I do not want to be one of a gang of consciously superior people, I do not want arrogantly to change the quality of other lives. I do not want to interfere with other lives, except incidentally–incidentally, in this way that I do want to get to an understanding with them, I do want to share and feel with them in our commerce with the collective mind. I suppose I do not stretch language very much when I say I want to get rid of stresses and obstacles between our minds and personalities and to establish a relation that is understanding and sympathy.

I want to make more generally possible a relationship of communication and interchange, that for want of a less battered and ambiguous word I must needs call love.

And if I disavow the Socialism of condescension, so also do I disavow the Socialism of revolt. There is a form of Socialism based upon the economic generalizations of Marx, an economic fatalistic Socialism that I hold to be rather wrong in its vision of facts, rather more distinctly wrong in its theory, and altogether wrong and hopeless in its spirit. It preaches, as inevitable, a concentration of property in the hands of a limited number of property owners and the expropriation of the great proletarian mass of mankind, a concentration which is after all no more than a tendency conditional on changing and changeable conventions about property, and it finds its hope of a better future in the outcome of a class conflict between the expropriated Many and the expropriating Few. Both sides are to be equally swayed by self-interest, but the toilers are to be gregarious and mutually loyal in their self-interest–Heaven knows why, except that otherwise the Marxist dream will not work. The experience of contemporary events seems to show at least an equal power of combination for material ends among owners and employers as among workers.

Now this class-war idea is one diametrically opposed to that religious-spirited Socialism which supplies the form of my general activities. This class-war idea would exacerbate the antagonism of the interests of the many individuals against the few individuals, and I would oppose the conceiving of the Whole to the self-seeking of the Individual. The spirit and constructive intention of the many to-day are no better than those of the few, poor and rich alike are over-individualized, self-seeking and non-creative; to organize the confused jostling competitions, over-reachings, envies and hatreds of to-day into two great class-hatreds and antagonisms will advance the reign of love at most only a very little, only so far as it will simplify and make plain certain issues. It may very possibly not advance the reign of love at all, but rather shatter the order we have. Socialism, as I conceive it, and as I have presented it in my book, “New Worlds for Old,” seeks to change economic arrangements only by the way, as an aspect and outcome of a great change, a change in the spirit and method of human intercourse.

I know that here I go beyond the limits many Socialists in the past, and some who are still contemporary, have set themselves. Much Socialism to-day seems to think of itself as fighting a battle against poverty and its concomitants alone. Now poverty is only a symptom of a profounder evil and is never to be cured by itself. It is one aspect of divided and dispersed purposes. If Socialism is only a conflict with poverty, Socialism is nothing. But I hold that Socialism is and must be a battle against human stupidity and egotism and disorder, a battle fought all through the forests and jungles of the soul of man. As we get intellectual and moral light and the realization of brotherhood, so social and economic organization will develop. But the Socialist may attack poverty for ever, disregarding the intellectual and moral factors that necessitate it, and he will remain until the end a purely economic doctrinaire crying in the wilderness in vain.

And if I antagonize myself in this way to the philanthropic Socialism of kindly prosperous people on the one hand and to the fierce class-hatred Socialism on the other, still more am I opposed to that furtive Socialism of the specialist which one meets most typically in the Fabian Society. It arises very naturally out of what I may perhaps call specialist fatigue and impatience. It is very easy for writers like myself to deal in the broad generalities of Socialism and urge their adoption as general principles; it is altogether another affair with a man who sets himself to work out the riddle of the complications of actuality in order to modify them in the direction of Socialism. He finds himself in a jungle of difficulties that strain his intellectual power to the utmost. He emerges at last with conclusions, and they are rarely the obvious conclusions, as to what needs to be done. Even the people of his own side he finds do not see as he sees; they are, he perceives, crude and ignorant.

Now I hold that his duty is to explain his discoveries and intentions until they see as he sees. But the specialist temperament is often not a generalizing and expository temperament. Specialists are apt to measure minds by their speciality and underrate the average intelligence. The specialist is appalled by the real task before him, and he sets himself by tricks and misrepresentations, by benevolent scoundrelism in fact, to effect changes he desires. Too often he fails even in that. Where he might have found fellowship he arouses suspicion. And even if a thing is done in this way, its essential merit is lost. For it is better, I hold, for a man to die of his disease than to be cured unwittingly. That is to cheat him of life and to cheat life of the contribution his consciousness might have given it.

The Socialism of my beliefs rests on a profounder faith and broader proposition. It looks over and beyond the warring purposes of to-day as a general may look over and beyond a crowd of sullen, excited and confused recruits, to the day when they will be disciplined, exercised, trained, willing and convergent on a common end. It holds persistently to the idea of men increasingly working in agreement, doing things that are sane to do, on a basis of mutual helpfulness, temperance and toleration. It sees the great masses of humanity rising out of base and immediate anxieties, out of dwarfing pressures and cramped surroundings, to understanding and participation and fine effort. It sees the resources of the earth husbanded and harvested, economized and used with scientific skill for the maximum of result. It sees towns and cities finely built, a race of beings finely bred and taught and trained, open ways and peace and freedom from end to end of the earth. It sees beauty increasing in humanity, about humanity and through humanity. Through this great body of mankind goes evermore an increasing understanding, an intensifying brotherhood. As Christians have dreamt of the New Jerusalem so does Socialism, growing ever more temperate, patient, forgiving and resolute, set its face to the World City of Mankind.


Before I go on to point out the broad principles of action that flow from this wide conception of Socialism, I may perhaps give a section to elucidating that opposition of hate and love I made when I dealt with the class war. I have already used the word love several times; it is an ambiguous word and it may be well to spend a few words in making clear the sense in which it is used here. I use it in a very broad sense to convey all that complex of motives, impulses, sentiments, that incline us to find our happiness and satisfactions in the happiness and sympathy of others. Essentially it is a synthetic force in human affairs, the merger tendency, a linking force, an expression in personal will and feeling of the common element and interest. It insists upon resemblances and shares and sympathies. And hate, I take it, is the emotional aspect of antagonism, it is the expression in personal will and feeling of the individual’s separation from others. It is the competing and destructive tendency. So long as we are individuals and members of a species, we must needs both hate and love. But because I believe, as I have already confessed, that the oneness of the species is a greater fact than individuality, and that we individuals are temporary separations from a collective purpose, and since hate eliminates itself by eliminating its objects, whilst love multiplies itself by multiplying its objects, so love must be a thing more comprehensive and enduring than hate.

Moreover, hate must be in its nature a good thing. We individuals exist as such, I believe, for the purpose in things, and our separations and antagonisms serve that purpose. We play against each other like hammer and anvil. But the synthesis of a collective will in humanity, which is I believe our human and terrestrial share in that purpose, is an idea that carries with it a conception of a secular alteration in the scope and method of both love and hate. Both widen and change with man’s widening and developing apprehension of the purpose he serves. The savage man loves in gusts a fellow creature or so about him, and fears and hates all other people. Every expansion of his scope and ideas widens either circle. The common man of our civilized world loves not only many of his friends and associates systematically and enduringly, but dimly he loves also his city and his country, his creed and his race; he loves it may be less intensely but over a far wider field and much more steadily. But he hates also more widely if less passionately and vehemently than a savage, and since love makes rather harmony and peace and hate rather conflict and events, one may easily be led to suppose that hate is the ruling motive in human affairs. Men band themselves together in leagues and loyalties, in cults and organizations and nationalities, and it is often hard to say whether the bond is one of love for the association or hatred of those to whom the association is antagonized. The two things pass insensibly into one another. London people have recently seen an edifying instance of the transition, in the Brown Dog statue riots. A number of people drawn together by their common pity for animal suffering, by love indeed of the most disinterested sort, had so forgotten their initial spirit as to erect a monument with an inscription at once recklessly untruthful, spiteful in spirit and particularly vexatious to one great medical school of London. They have provoked riots and placarded London with taunts and irritating misrepresentatin of the spirit of medical research, and they have infected a whole fresh generation of London students with a bitter partizan contempt for the humanitarian effort that has so lamentably misconducted itself. Both sides vow they will never give in, and the anti-vivisectionists are busy manufacturing small china copies of the Brown Dog figure, inscription and all, for purposes of domestic irritation. Here hate, the evil ugly brother of effort, has manifestly slain love the initiator and taken the affair in hand. That is a little model of human conflicts. So soon as we become militant and play against one another, comes this danger of strain and this possible reversal of motive. The fight begins. Into a pit of heat and hate fall right and wrong together.

Now it seems to me that a religious faith such as I have set forth in the second Book, and a clear sense of our community of blood with all mankind, must necessarily affect both our loving and our hatred. It will certainly not abolish hate, but it will subordinate it altogether to love. We are individuals, so the Purpose presents itself to me, in order that we may hate the things that have to go, ugliness, baseness, insufficiency, unreality, that we may love and experiment and strive for the things that collectively we seek–power and beauty. Before our conversion we did this darkly and with our hate spreading to persons and parties from the things for which they stood. But the believer will hate lovingly and without fear. We are of one blood and substance with our antagonists, even with those that we desire keenly may die and leave no issue in flesh or persuasion. They all touch us and are part of one necessary experience. They are all necessary to the synthesis, even if they are necessary only as the potato-peel in the dust-bin is necessary to my dinner.

So it is I disavow and deplore the whole spirit of class-war Socialism with its doctrine of hate, its envious assault upon the leisure and freedom of the wealthy. Without leisure and freedom and the experience of life they gave, the ideas of Socialism could never have been born. The true mission of Socialism is against darkness, vanity and cowardice, that darkness which hides from the property owner the intense beauty, the potentialities of interest, the splendid possibilities of life, that vanity and cowardice that make him clutch his precious holdings and fear and hate the shadow of change. It has to teach the collective organization of society; and to that the class-consciousness and intense class-prejudices of the worker need to bow quite as much as those of the property owner. But when I say that Socialism’s mission is to teach, I do not mean that its mission is a merely verbal and mental one; it must use all instruments and teach by example as well as precept. Socialism by becoming charitable and merciful will not cease to be militant. Socialism must, lovingly but resolutely, use law, use force, to dispossess the owners of socially disadvantageous wealth, as one coerces a lunatic brother or takes a wrongfully acquired toy from a spoilt and obstinate child. It must intervene between all who would keep their children from instruction in the business of citizenship and the lessons of fraternity. It must build and guard what it builds with laws and with that sword which is behind all laws. Non-resistance is for the non-constructive man, for the hermit in the cave and the naked saint in the dust; the builder and maker with the first stroke of his foundation spade uses force and opens war against the anti-builder.


The belief I have that contributing to the development of the collective being of man is the individual’s general meaning and duty, and the formulae of the Socialism which embodies this belief so far as our common activities go, give a general framework and direction how a man or woman should live. (I do throughout all this book mean man or woman equally when I write of “man,” unless it is manifestly inapplicable.)

And first in this present time he must see to it that he does live, that is to say he must get food, clothing, covering, and adequate leisure for the finer aspects of living. Socialism plans an organized civilization in which these things will be a collective solicitude, and the gaining of a subsistence an easy preliminary to the fine drama of existence, but in the world as we have it we are forced to engage much of our energy in scrambling for these preliminary necessities. Our problems of conduct lie in the world as it is and not in the world as we want it to be. First then a man must get a living, a fair civilized living for himself. It is a fundamental duty. It must be a fair living, not pinched nor mean nor strained. A man can do nothing higher, he can be no service to any cause, until he himself is fed and clothed and equipped and free. He must earn this living or equip himself to earn it in some way not socially disadvantageous, he must contrive as far as possible that the work he does shall be constructive and contributory to the general well-being.

And these primary necessities of food, clothing and freedom being secured, one comes to the general disposition of one’s surplus energy. With regard to that I think that a very simple proposition follows from the broad beliefs I have chosen to adopt. The general duty of a man, his existence being secured, is to educate, and chiefly to educate and develop himself. It is his duty to live, to make all he can out of himself and life, to get full of experience, to make himself fine and perceiving and expressive, to render his experience and perceptions honestly and helpfully to others. And in particular he has to educate himself and others with himself in Socialism. He has to make and keep this idea of synthetic human effort and of conscious constructive effort clear first to himself and then clear in the general mind. For it is an idea that comes and goes. We are all of us continually lapsing from it towards individual isolation again. He needs, we all need, constant refreshment in this belief if it is to remain a predominant living fact in our lives.

And that duty of education, of building up the collective idea and organization of humanity, falls into various divisions depending in their importance upon individual quality. For all there is one personal work that none may evade, and that is thinking hard, criticising strenuously and understanding as clearly as one can religion, socialism and the general principle of one’s acts. The intellectual factor is of primary importance in my religion. I can see no more reason why salvation should come to the intellectually incapable than to the morally incapable. For simple souls thinking in simple processes, salvation perhaps comes easily, but there is none for the intellectual coward, for the mental sloven and sluggard, for the stupid and obdurate mind. The Believer will think hard and continue to grow and learn, to read and seek discussion as his needs determine.

Correlated with one’s own intellectual activity, part of it and growing out of it for almost everyone, is intellectual work with and upon others. By teaching we learn. Not to communicate one’s thoughts to others, to keep one’s thoughts to oneself as people say, is either cowardice or pride. It is a form of sin. It is a duty to talk, teach, explain, write, lecture, read and listen. Every truly religious man, every good Socialist, is a propagandist. Those who cannot write or discuss can talk, those who cannot argue can induce people to listen to others and read. We have a belief and an idea that we want to spread, each to the utmost of his means and measure, throughout all the world. We have a thought that we want to make humanity’s thought. And it is a duty too that one should, within the compass of one’s ability, make teaching, writing and lecturing possible where it has not existed before. This can be done in a hundred ways, by founding and enlarging schools and universities and chairs, for example; by making print and reading and all the material of thought cheap and abundant, by organizing discussion and societies for inquiry.

And talk and thought and study are but the more generalized aspects of duty. The Believer may find his own special aptitude lies rather among concrete things, in experimenting and promoting experiments in collective action. Things teach as well as words, and some of us are most expressive by concrete methods. The Believer will work himself and help others to his utmost in all those developments of material civilization, in organized sanitation for example, all those developments that force collective acts upon communities and collective realizations into the minds of men. And the whole field of scientific research is a field of duty calling to everyone who can enter it, to add to the permanent store of knowledge and new resources for the race.

The Mind of that Civilized State we seek to make by giving ourselves into its making, is evidently the central work before us. But while the writer, the publisher and printer, the bookseller and librarian and teacher and preacher, the investigator and experimenter, the reader and everyone who thinks, will be contributing themselves to this great organized mind and intention in the world, many sorts of specialized men will be more immediately concerned with parallel and more concrete aspects of the human synthesis. The medical worker and the medical investigator, for example, will be building up the body of a new generation, the body of the civilized state, and he will be doing all he can, not simply as an individual, but as a citizen, to ORGANIZE his services of cure and prevention, of hygiene and selection. A great and growing multitude of men will be working out the apparatus of the civilized state; the organizers of transit and housing, the engineers in their incessantly increasing variety, the miners and geologists estimating the world’s resources in metals and minerals, the mechanical inventors perpetually economizing force. The scientific agriculturist again will be studying the food supply of the world as a whole, and how it may be increased and distributed and economized. And to the student of law comes the task of rephrasing his intricate and often quite beautiful science in relation to modern conceptions. All these and a hundred other aspects are integral to the wide project of Constructive Socialism as it shapes itself in my faith.


When we lay down the proposition that it is one’s duty to get one’s living in some way not socially disadvantageous, and as far as possible by work that is contributory to the general well-being and development, when we state that one’s surplus energies, after one’s living is gained, must be devoted to experience, self-development and constructive work, it is clear we condemn by implication many modes of life that are followed to-day.

For example, it is manifest we condemn living in idleness or on non-productive sport, on the income derived from private property, and all sorts of ways of earning a living that cannot be shown to conduce to the constructive process. We condemn trading that is merely speculative, and in fact all trading and manufacture that is not a positive social service; we condemn living by gambling or by playing games for either stakes or pay. Much more do we condemn dishonest or fraudulent trading and every act of advertisement that is not punctiliously truthful. We must condemn too the taking of any income from the community that is neither earned nor conceded in the collective interest. But to this last point, and to certain issues arising out of it, I will return in the section next following this one.

And it follows evidently from our general propositions that every form of prostitution is a double sin, against one’s individuality and against the species which we serve by the development of that individuality’s preferences and idiosyncracies.

And by prostitution I mean not simply the act of a woman who sells for money, and against her thoughts and preferences, her smiles and endearments and the secret beauty and pleasure of her body, but the act of anyone who, to gain a living, suppresses himself, does things in a manner alien to himself and subserves aims and purposes with which he disagrees. The journalist who writes against his personal convictions, the solicitor who knowingly assists the schemes of rogues, the barrister who pits himself against what he perceives is justice and the right, the artist who does unbeautiful things or less beautiful things than he might, simply to please base employers, the craftsman who makes instruments for foolish uses or bad uses, the dealer who sells and pushes an article because it fits the customer’s folly; all these are prostitutes of mind and soul if not of body, with no right to lift an eyebrow at the painted disasters of the streets.


These broad principles about one’s way of living are very simple; our minds move freely among them. But the real interest is with the individual case, and the individual case is almost always complicated by the fact that the existing social and economic system is based upon conditions that the growing collective intelligence condemns as unjust and undesirable, and that the constructive spirit in men now seeks to supersede. We have to live in a provisional State while we dream of and work for a better one.

The ideal life for the ordinary man in a civilized, that is to say a Socialist, State would be in public employment or in private enterprise aiming at public recognition. But in our present world only a small minority can have that direct and honourable relation of public service in the work they do; most of the important business of the community is done upon the older and more tortuous private ownership system, and the great mass of men in socially useful employment find themselves working only indirectly for the community and directly for the profit of a private owner, or they themselves are private owners. Every man who has any money put by in the bank, or any money invested, is a private owner, and in so far as he draws interest or profit from this investment he is a social parasite. It is in practice almost impossible to divest oneself of that parasitic quality however straightforward the general principle may be.

It is practically impossible for two equally valid sets of reasons. The first is that under existing conditions, saving and investment constitute the only way to rest and security in old age, to leisure, study and intellectual independence, to the safe upbringing of a family and the happiness of one’s weaker dependents. These are things that should not be left for the individual to provide; in the civilized state, the state itself will insure every citizen against these anxieties that now make the study of the City Article almost a duty. To abandon saving and investment to-day, and to do so is of course to abandon all insurance, is to become a driven and uncertain worker, to risk one’s personal freedom and culture and the upbringing and efficiency of one’s children. It is to lower the standard of one’s personal civilization, to think with less deliberation and less detachment, to fall away from that work of accumulating fine habits and beautiful and pleasant ways of living contributory to the coming State. And in the second place there is not only no return for such a sacrifice in anything won for Socialism, but for fine-thinking and living people to give up property is merely to let it pass into the hands of more egoistic possessors. Since at present things must be privately owned, it is better that they should be owned by people consciously working for social development and willing to use them to that end.

We have to live in the present system and under the conditions of the present system, while we work with all our power to change that system for a better one.

The case of Cadburys the cocoa and chocolate makers, and the practical slavery under the Portuguese of the East African negroes who grow the raw material for Messrs. Cadbury, is an illuminating one in this connection. The Cadburys, like the Rowntrees, are well known as an energetic and public-spirited family, their social and industrial experiments at Bournville and their general social and political activities are broad and constructive in the best sense. But they find themselves in the peculiar dilemma that they must either abandon an important and profitable portion of their great manufacture or continue to buy produce grown under cruel and even horrible conditions. Their retirement from the branch of the cocoa and chocolate trade concerned would, under these circumstances, mean no diminution of the manufacture or of the horrors of this particular slavery; it would merely mean that less humanitarian manufacturers would step in to take up the abandoned trade. The self-righteous individualist would have no doubts about the question; he would keep his hands clean anyhow, retrench his social work, abandon the types of cocoa involved, and pass by on the other side. But indeed I do not believe we came into the mire of life simply to hold our hands up out of it. Messrs. Cadbury follow a better line; they keep their business going, and exert themselves in every way to let light into the secrets of Portuguese East Africa and to organize a better control of these labour cruelties. That I think is altogether the right course in this difficulty.

We cannot keep our hands clean in this world as it is. There is no excuse indeed for a life of fraud or any other positive fruitless wrong-doing or for a purely parasitic non-productive life, yet all but the fortunate few who are properly paid and recognized state servants must in financial and business matters do their best amidst and through institutions tainted with injustice and flawed with unrealities. All Socialists everywhere are like expeditionary soldiers far ahead of the main advance. The organized state that should own and administer their possessions for the general good has not arrived to take them over; and in the meanwhile they must act like its anticipatory agents according to their lights and make things ready for its coming.

The Believer then who is not in the public service, whose life lies among the operations of private enterprise, must work always on the supposition that the property he administers, the business in which he works, the profession he follows, is destined to be taken over and organized collectively for the commonweal and must be made ready for the taking over; that the private outlook he secures by investment, the provision he makes for his friends and children, are temporary, wasteful, though at present unavoidable devices to be presently merged in and superseded by the broad and scientific previsions of the co-operative commonwealth.


These principles give a rule also for the problem that faces the great majority of thinking wives and mothers to-day. The most urgent and necessary social work falls upon them; they bear, and largely educate and order the homes of, the next generation, and they have no direct recognition from the community for either of these supreme functions. They are supposed to perform them not for God or the world, but to please and satisfy a particular man. Our laws, our social conventions, our economic methods, so hem a woman about that, however fitted for and desirous of maternity she may be, she can only effectually do that duty in a dependent relation to her husband. Nearly always he is the paymaster, and if his payments are grudging or irregular, she has little remedy short of a breach and the rupture of the home. Her duty is conceived of as first to him and only secondarily to her children and the State. Many wives become under these circumstances mere prostitutes to their husbands, often evading the bearing of children with their consent and even at their request, and “loving for a living.” That is a natural outcome of the proprietary theory of the family out of which our civilization emerges. But our modern ideas trend more and more to regard a woman’s primary duty to be her duty to the children and to the world to which she gives them. She is to be a citizen side by side with her husband; no longer is he to intervene between her and the community. As a matter of contemporary fact he can do so and does so habitually, and most women have to square their ideas of life to that possibility.

Before any woman who is clear-headed enough to perceive that this great business of motherhood is one of supreme public importance, there are a number of alternatives at the present time. She may, like Grant Allan’s heroine in “The Woman Who Did,” declare an exaggerated and impossible independence, refuse the fetters of marriage and bear children to a lover. This, in the present state of public opinion in almost every existing social atmosphere, would be a purely anarchistic course. It would mean a fatherless home, and since the woman will have to play the double part of income-earner and mother, an impoverished and struggling home. It would mean also an unsocial because ostracized home. In most cases, and even assuming it to be right in idea, it would still be on all fours with that immediate abandonment of private property we have already discussed, a sort of suicide that helps the world nothing.

Or she may “strike,” refuse marriage and pursue a solitary and childless career, engaging her surplus energies in constructive work. But that also is suicide; it is to miss the keenest experiences, the finest realities life has to offer.

Or she may meet a man whom she can trust to keep a treaty with her and supplement the common interpretations and legal insufficiencies of the marriage bond, who will respect her always as a free and independent person, will abstain absolutely from authoritative methods, and will either share and trust his income and property with her in a frank communism, or give her a sufficient and private income for her personal use. It is only fair under existing economic conditions that at marriage a husband should insure his life in his wife’s interest, and I do not think it would be impossible to bring our legal marriage contract into accordance with modern ideas in that matter. Certainly it should be legally imperative that at the birth of each child a new policy upon its father’s life, as the income-getter, should begin. The latter provision at least should be a normal condition of marriage and one that the wife should have power to enforce when payments fall away. With such safeguards and under such conditions marriage ceases to be a haphazard dependence for a woman, and she may live, teaching and rearing and free, almost as though the co-operative commonwealth had come.

But in many cases, since great numbers of women marry so young and so ignorantly that their thinking about realities begins only after marriage, a woman will find herself already married to a man before she realizes the significance of these things. She may be already the mother of children. Her husband’s ideas may not be her ideas. He may dominate, he may prohibit, he may intervene, he may default. He may, if he sees fit, burthen the family income with the charges of his illegitimate offspring.

We live in the world as it is and not in the world as it should be. That sentence becomes the refrain of this discussion.

The normal modern married woman has to make the best of a bad position, to do her best under the old conditions, to live as though she was under the new conditions, to make good citizens, to give her spare energies as far as she can to bringing about a better state of affairs. Like the private property owner and the official in a privately owned business, her best method of conduct is to consider herself an unrecognized public official, irregularly commanded and improperly paid. There is no good in flagrant rebellion. She has to study her particular circumstances and make what good she can out of them, keeping her face towards the coming time. I cannot better the image I have already used for the thinking and believing modern-minded people of to-day as an advance guard cut off from proper supplies, ill furnished so that makeshift prevails, and rather demoralized. We have to be wise as well as loyal; discretion itself is loyalty to the coming State.


In the previous section I have dealt with the single individual’s duty in relation to the general community and to law and generally received institutions. But there is a new set of questions now to be considered. Let us take up the modifications that arise when it is not one isolated individual but a group of individuals who find themselves in disagreement with contemporary rule or usage and disposed to find a rightness in things not established or not conceded. They too live in the world as it is and not in the world as it ought to be, but their association opens up quite new possibilities of anticipating coming developments of living, and of protecting and guaranteeing one another from what for a single unprotected individual would be the inevitable consequences of a particular line of conduct, conduct which happened to be unorthodox or only, in the face of existing conditions, unwise.

For example, a friend of mine who had read a copy of the preceding section wrote as follows:–

“I can see no reason why even to-day a number of persons avowedly united in the same ‘Belief’ and recognizing each other as the self-constituted social vanguard should not form a recognized spiritual community centering round some kind of ‘religious’ edifice and ritual, and agree to register and consecrate the union of any couples of the members according to a contract which the whole community should have voted acceptable. The community would be the guardian of money deposited or paid in gradually as insurance for the children. And the fact of the whole business being regular, open and connected with a common intellectual and moral ritual and a common name, such for example as your name of ‘The Samurai,’ would secure the respect of outsiders, so that eventually these new marriage arrangements would modify the old ones. People would ask, ‘Were you married before the registrar?’ and the answer would be, ‘No, we are Samurai and were united before the Elders.’ In Catholic countries those who use only the civil marriage are considered outcasts by the religiously minded, which shows that recognition by the State is not as potent as recognition by the community to which one belongs. The religious marriage is considered the only one binding by Catholics, and the civil ceremony is respected merely because the State has brute force behind it.”

There is in this passage one particularly valuable idea, the idea of an association of people to guarantee the welfare of their children in common. I will follow that a little, though it takes me away from my main line of thought. It seems to me that such an association might be found in many cases a practicable way of easing the conflict that so many men and women experience, between their individual public service and their duty to their own families. Many people of exceptional gifts, whose gifts are not necessarily remunerative, are forced by these personal considerations to direct them more or less askew, to divert them from their best application to some inferior but money-making use; and many more are given the disagreeable alternative of evading parentage or losing the freedom of mind needed for socially beneficial work. This is particularly the case with many scientific investigators, many sociological and philosophical workers, many artists, teachers and the like. Even when such people are fairly prosperous personally they do not care to incur the obligation to keep prosperous at any cost to their work that a family in our competitive system involves. It gives great ease of mind to any sort of artistic or intellectual worker to feel free to become poor. I do not see why a group of such people should not attempt a merger of their family anxieties and family adventures, insure all its members, and while each retains a sufficient personal independence for freedom of word and movement, pool their family solicitudes and resources, organize a collective school and a common maintenance fund for all the children born of members of the association. I do not see why they should not in fact develop a permanent trust to maintain, educate and send out all their children into the world, a trust to which their childless friends and associates could contribute by gift and bequest, and to which the irregular good fortune that is not uncommon in the careers of these exceptional types could be devoted. I do not mean any s rt of charity but an enlarged family basis.

Such an idea passes very readily into the form of a Eugenic association. It would be quite possible and very interesting for prosperous people interested in Eugenics to create a trust for the offspring of a selected band of beneficiaries, and with increasing resources to admit new members and so build up within the present social system a special strain of chosen people. So far people with eugenic ideas and people with conceptions of associated and consolidated families have been too various and too dispersed for such associations to be practicable, but as such views of life become more common, the chance of a number of sufficiently homogeneous and congenial people working out the method of such a grouping increases steadily.

Moreover, I can imagine no reason to prevent any women who are in agreement with the moral standards of the “Woman who Did” (standards I will not discuss at this present point but defer for a later section) combining for mutual protection and social support and the welfare of such children as they may bear. Then certainly, to the extent that this succeeds, the objections that arise from the evil effects upon the children of social isolation disappear. This isolation would be at worst a group isolation, and there can be no doubt that my friend is right in pointing out that there is much more social toleration for an act committed under the sanction of a group than for an isolated act that may be merely impulsive misbehaviour masquerading as high principle.

It seems to me remarkable that, to the best of my knowledge, so obvious a form of combination has never yet been put in practice. It is remarkable but not inexplicable. The first people to develop novel ideas, more particularly of this type, are usually people in isolated circumstances and temperamentally incapable of disciplined cooperation.


The idea of organizing the progressive elements in the social chaos into a regular developing force is one that has had a great attraction for me. I have written upon it elsewhere, and I make no apology for returning to it here and examining it in the light of various afterthoughts and with fresh suggestions.

I first broached this idea in a book called “Anticipations,” wherein I described a possible development of thought and concerted action which I called the New Republicanism, and afterwards I redrew the thing rather more elaborately in my “Modern Utopia.” I had been struck by the apparently chaotic and wasteful character of most contemporary reform movements, and it seemed reasonable to suppose that those who aimed at organizing society and replacing chaos and waste by wise arrangements, might very well begin by producing a more effective organization for their own efforts. These complexities of good intention made me impatient, and I sought industriously in my mind for a short cut through them. In doing so I think I overlooked altogether too much how heterogeneous all progressive thought and progressive people must be.

In my “Modern Utopia” I turned this idea of an organized brotherhood about very thoroughly and looked at it from this point and that; I let it loose as it were, and gave it its fullest development, and so produced a sort of secular Order of governing men and women. In a spirit entirely journalistic I called this the Order of the Samurai, for at the time I wrote there was much interest in Bushido because of the capacity for hardship and self-sacrifice this chivalrous culture appears to have developed in the Japanese. These Samurai of mine were a sort of voluntary nobility who supplied the administrative and organizing forces that held my Utopian world together. They were the “New Republicans” of my “Anticipations” and “Mankind in the Making,” much developed and supposed triumphant and ruling the world.

I sought of course to set out these ideas as attractively as possible in my books, and they have as a matter of fact proved very attractive to a certain number of people. Quite a number have wanted to go on with them. Several little organizations of Utopians and Samurai and the like have sprung up and informed me of themselves, and some survive; and young men do still at times drop into my world “personally or by letter” declaring themselves New Republicans.

All this has been very helpful and at times a little embarrassing to me. It has given me an opportunity of seeing the ideals I flung into the distance beyond Sirius and among the mountain snows coming home partially incarnate in girls and young men. It has made me look into individualized human aspirations, human impatience, human vanity and a certain human need of fellowship, at close quarters. It has illuminated subtle and fine traits; it has displayed nobilities, and it has brought out aspects of human absurdity to which only the pencil of Mr. George Morrow could do adequate justice. The thing I have had to explain most generally is that my New Republicans and Samurai are but figures of suggestion, figures to think over and use in planning disciplines, but by no means copies to follow. I have had to go over again, as though it had never been raised before in any previous writings, the difference between the spirit and the letter.

These responses have on the whole confirmed my main idea that there is a real need, a need that many people, and especially adolescent people, feel very strongly, for some sort of constructive brotherhood of a closer type than mere political association, to co-ordinate and partly guide their loose chaotic efforts to get hold of life–but they have also convinced me that no wide and comprehensive organization can supply that want.

My New Republicans were presented as in many respects harsh and overbearing people, “a sort of outspoken secret society” for the organization of the world. They were not so much an ideal order as the Samurai of the later book, being rather deduced as a possible outcome of certain forces and tendencies in contemporary life (A.D. 1900) than, as literary people say, “created.” They were to be drawn from among engineers, doctors, scientific business organizers and the like, and I found that it is to energetic young men of the more responsible classes that this particular ideal appeals. Their organization was quite informal, a common purpose held them together.

Most of the people who have written to me to call themselves New Republicans are I find also Imperialists and Tariff Reformers, and I suppose that among the prominent political figures of to-day the nearest approach to my New Republicans is Lord Milner and the Socialist-Unionists of his group. It is a type harshly constructive, inclined to an unscrupulous pose and slipping readily into a Kiplingesque brutality.

The Samurai on the other hand were more picturesque figures, with a much more elaborated organization.

I may perhaps recapitulate the points about that Order here.

In the “Modern Utopia” the visitor from earth remarks:–

“These Samurai form the real body of the State. All this time that I have spent going to and fro in this planet, it has been growing upon me that this order of men and women, wearing such a uniform as you wear, and with faces strengthened by discipline and touched with devotion, is the Utopian reality; that but for them the whole fabric of these fair appearances would crumble and tarnish, shrink and shrivel, until at last, back I should be amidst the grime and disorders of the life of earth. Tell me about these Samurai, who remind me of Plato’s guardians, who look like Knight Templars, who bear a name that recalls the swordsmen of Japan. What are they? Are they an hereditary cast, a specially educated order, an elected class? For, certainly, this world turns upon them as a door upon its hinges.”

His informant explains:–

“Practically the whole of the responsible rule of the world is in their hands; all our head teachers and disciplinary heads of colleges, our judges, barristers, employers of labour beyond a certain limit, practising medical men, legislators, must be Samurai, and all the executive committees and so forth, that play so large a part in our affairs, are drawn by lot exclusively from them. The order is not hereditary–we know just enough of biology and the uncertainties of inheritance to know how silly that would be–and it does not require an early consecration or novitiate or ceremonies and initiations of that sort. The Samurai are, in fact, volunteers. Any intelligent adult in a reasonably healthy and efficient state may, at any age after five and twenty, become one of the Samurai and take a hand in the universal control.”

“Provided he follows the Rule.”

“Precisely–provided he follows the Rule.”

“I have heard the phrase, ‘voluntary nobility.'”

“That was the idea of our Founders. They made a noble and privileged order–open to the whole world. No one could complain of an unjust exclusion, for the only thing that could exclude them from the order was unwillingness or inability to follow the Rule.

“The Rule aims to exclude the dull and base altogether, to discipline the impulses and emotions, to develop a moral habit and sustain a man in periods of stress, fatigue and temptation, to produce the maximum co-operation of all men of good-intent, and in fact to keep all the Samurai in a state of moral and bodily health and efficiency. It does as much of this as well as it can, but of course, like all general propositions, it does not do it in any case with absolute precision. AT FIRST IN THE MILITANT DAYS, IT WAS A TRIFLE HARD AND UNCOMPROMISING; IT HAD RATHER TOO STRONG AN APPEAL TO THE MORAL PRIG AND THE HARSHLY RIGHTEOUS MAN, but it has undergone, and still undergoes, revision and expansion, and every year it becomes a little better adapted to the need of a general rule of life that all men may try to follow. We have now a whole literature with many very fine things in it, written about the Rule.

“The Rule consists of three parts; there is the list of things that qualify, the list of things that must not be done, and the list of things that must be done. Qualification exacts a little exertion as evidence of good faith and it is designed to weed out the duller dull and many of the base.”

He goes on to tell of certain intellectual qualifications and disciplines.

“Next to the intellectual qualification comes the physical, the man must be in sound health, free from certain foul, avoidable and demoralizing diseases, and in good training. We reject men who are fat, or thin, or flabby, or whose nerves are shaky–we refer them back to training. And finally the man or woman must be fully adult.”

“Twenty-one? But you said twenty-five!”

“The age has varied. At first it was twenty-five or over; then the minimum became twenty-five for men and twenty-one for women. Now there is a feeling that it ought to be raised. We don’t want to take advantage of mere boy and girl emotions–men of my way of thinking, at any rate, don’t–we want to get our Samurai with experiences, with settled mature conviction. Our hygiene and regimen are rapidly pushing back old age and death, and keeping men hale and hearty to eighty and more. There’s no need to hurry the young. Let them have a chance of wine, love and song; let them feel the bite of full-blooded desire, and know what devils they have to reckon with…

“We forbid a good deal. Many small pleasures do no great harm, but we think it well to forbid them none the less, so that we can weed out the self-indulgent. We think that a constant resistance to little seductions is good for a man’s quality. At any rate, it shows that a man is prepared to pay something for his honour and privileges. We prescribe a regimen of food, forbid tobacco, wine, or any alcoholic drink, all narcotic drugs…

“Originally the Samurai were forbidden usury, that is to say, the lending of money at fixed rates of interest. They are still under that interdiction, but since our commercial code practically prevents usury altogether, and our law will not recognize contracts for interest upon private accommodation loans to unprosperous borrowers,” (he is speaking of Utopia), “it is now scarcely necessary. The idea of a man growing richer by mere inaction and at the expense of an impoverished debtor is profoundly distasteful to Utopian ideas, and our State insists pretty effectually now upon the participation of the lender in the borrower’s risks. This, however, is only one part of a series of limitations of the same character. It is felt that to buy simply in order to sell again brings out many unsocial human qualities; it makes a man seek to enhance profits and falsify values, and so the Samurai are forbidden to buy or sell on their own account or for any employer save the State, unless by some process of manufacture they change the nature of the commodity (a mere change in bulk or packing does not suffice), and they are forbidden salesmanship and all its arts. Nor may the Samurai do personal services, except in the matter of medicine or surgery; they may not be barbers, for example, nor inn waiters nor boot cleaners, men do such services for themselves. Nor may a man under the Rule be any man’s servant, pledged to do whatever he is told. He may neither be a servant nor keep one; he must shave and dress and serve himself, carry his own food from the helper’s place, redd his sleeping room and leave it clean…”

Finally came the things they had to do. Their Rule contained:–

“many precise directions regarding his health, and rules that would aim at once at health and that constant exercise or will that makes life good. Save in specified exceptional circumstances, the Samurai must bathe in cold water and the men shave every day; they have the precisest directions in such matters; the body must be in health, the skin and nerves and muscles in perfect tone, or the Samurai must go to the doctors of the order and give implicit obedience to the regimen prescribed. They must sleep alone at least four nights in five; and they must eat with and talk to anyone in their fellowship who cares for their conversation for an hour at least, at the nearest club-house of the Samurai, once on three chosen days in every week. Moreover they must read aloud from the Book of the Samurai for at least five minutes every day. Every month they must buy and read faithfully through at least one book that has been published during the past five years, and the only intervention with private choice in that matter is the prescription of a certain minimum of length for the monthly book or books. But the full rule in these minor compulsory matters is voluminous and detailed, and it abounds with alternatives. Its aim is rather to keep before the Samurai by a number of simple duties, as it were, the need of and some of the chief methods towards health of body and mind rather than to provide a comprehensive rule, and to ensure the maintenance of a community of feeling and interests among the Samurai through habit, intercourse and a living contemporary literature. These minor obligations do not earmark more than an hour in the day. Yet they serve to break down isolations of sympathy, all sorts of physical and intellectual sluggishness and the development of unsocial preoccupations of many sorts…

“So far as the Samurai have a purpose in common in maintaining the State and the order and discipline of the world, so far, by their discipline and denial, by their public work and effort, they worship God together. But the ultimate fount of motives lies in the individual life, it lies in silent and deliberate reflections, and at this the most striking of all the rules of the Samurai aims. For seven consecutive days of the year, at least, each man or woman under the Rule must go right out of all the life of men into some wild and solitary place, must speak to no man or woman and have no sort of intercourse with mankind. They must go bookless and weaponless, without pen or paper or money. Provision must be taken for the period of the journey, a rug or sleeping sack–for they must sleep under the open sky–but no means of making a fire. They may study maps before to guide them, showing any difficulties and dangers in the journey, but they may not carry such helps. They must not go by beaten ways or wherever there are inhabited houses, but into the bare, quiet places of the globe–the regions set apart for them.

“This discipline was invented to secure a certain stoutness of heart and body in the Samurai. Otherwise the order might have lain open to too many timorous, merely abstemious men and women. Many things had been suggested, sword-play and tests that verged on torture, climbing in giddy places and the like, before this was chosen. Partly, it is to ensure good training and sturdiness of body and mind, but partly also, it is to draw the minds of the Samurai for a space from the insistent details of life, from the intricate arguments and the fretting effort to work, from personal quarrels and personal affections and the things of the heated room. Out they must go, clean out of the world…”

These passages will at least serve to present the Samurai idea and the idea of common Rule of conduct it embodied.

In the “Modern Utopia” I discuss also a lesser Rule and the modification of the Rule for women and the relation to the order of what I call the poietic types, those types whose business in life seems to be rather to experience and express than to act and effectually do. For those things I must refer the reader to the book itself. Together with a sentence I have put in italics above, they serve to show that even when I was devising these Samurai I was not unmindful of the defects that are essential to such a scheme.

This dream of the Samurai proved attractive to a much more various group of readers than the New Republican suggestion, and there have been actual attempts to realise the way of life proposed. In most of these cases there was manifest a disposition greatly to over-accentuate organization, to make too much of the disciplinary side of the Rule and to forget the entire subordination of such things to active thought and constructive effort. They are valuable and indeed only justifiable as a means to an end. These attempts of a number of people of very miscellaneous origins and social traditions to come together and work like one machine made the essential wastefulness of any terrestrial realization of my Samurai very clear. The only reason for such an Order is the economy and development of force, and under existing conditions disciplines would consume more force than they would engender. The Order, so far from being a power, would be an isolation. Manifestly the elements of organization and uniformity were overdone in my Utopia; in this matter I was nearer the truth in the case of my New Republicans. These, in contrast with the Samurai, had no formal general organization, they worked for a common end, because their minds and the suggestion of their circumstances pointed them to a common end. Nothing was enforced upon them in the way of observance or discipline. They were not shepherded and trained together, they came together. It was assumed that if they wanted strongly they would see to it that they lived in the manner most conducive to their end just as in all this book I am taking it for granted that to believe truly is to want to do right. It was not even required of them that they should sedulously propagate their constructive idea.

Apart from the illumination of my ideas by these experiments and proposals, my Samurai idea has also had a quite unmerited amount of subtle and able criticism from people who found it at once interesting and antipathetic. My friends Vernon Lee and G.K. Chesterton, for example, have criticized it, and I think very justly, on the ground that the invincible tortuousness of human pride and class-feeling would inevitably vitiate its working. All its disciplines would tend to give its members a sense of distinctness, would tend to syndicate power and rob it of any intimacy and sympathy with those outside the Order…

It seems to me now that anyone who shares the faith I have been developing in this book will see the value of these comments and recognize with me that this dream is a dream; the Samurai are just one more picture of the Perfect Knight, an ideal of clean, resolute and balanced living. They may be valuable as an ideal of attitude but not as an ideal of organization. They are never to be put, as people say, upon a business footing and made available as a refuge from the individual problem.

To modernize the parable, the Believer must not only not bury his talent but he must not bank it with an organization. Each Believer must decide for himself how far he wants to be kinetic or efficient, how far he needs a stringent rule of conduct, how far he is poietic and may loiter and adventure among the coarse and dangerous things of life. There is no reason why one should not, and there is every reason why one should, discuss one’s personal needs and habits and disciplines and elaborate one’s way of life with those about one, and form perhaps with those of like training and congenial temperament small groups for mutual support. That sort of association I have already discussed in the previous section. With adolescent people in particular such association is in many cases an almost instinctive necessity. There is no reason moreover why everyone who is lonely should not seek out congenial minds and contrive a grouping with them. All mutual lovers for example are Orders of a limited membership, many married couples and endless cliques and sets are that. Such small and natural associations are indeed force-giving Orders because they are brought together by a common innate disposition out of a possibility of mutual assistance and inspiration; they observe a Rule that springs up and not a Rule imposed. The more of such groups and Orders we have the better. I do not see why having formed themselves they should not define and organize themselves. I believe there is a phase somewhere between fifteen and thirty, in the life of nearly everybody, when such a group is sought, is needed and would be helpful in self-development and self-discovery. In leagues and societies for specific ends, too, we must all participate. But the order of the Samurai as a great progressive force controlling a multitude of lives right down to their intimate details and through all the phases of personal development is a thing unrealizable. To seek to realize it is impatience. True brotherhood is universal brotherhood. The way to that is long and toilsome, but it is a way that permits of no such energetic short cuts as this militant order of my dream would achieve.


When one is discussing this possible formation of cults and brotherhoods, it may be well to consider a few of the conditions that rule such human re-groupings. We live in the world as it is and not in the world as we want it to be, that is the practical rule by which we steer, and in directing our lives we must constantly consider the forces and practicabilities of the social medium in which we move.

In contemporary life the existing ties are so various and so imperative that the detachment necessary as a preliminary condition to such new groupings is rarely found. This is not a period in which large numbers of people break away easily and completely from old connexions. Things change less catastrophically than once they did. More particularly is there less driving out into the wilderness. There is less heresy hunting; persecution is frequently reluctant and can be evaded by slight concessions. The world as a whole is less harsh and emphatic than it was. Customs and customary attitudes change nowadays not so much by open, defiant and revolutionary breaches as by the attrition of partial negligences and new glosses. Innovating people do conform to current usage, albeit they conform unwillingly and imperfectly. There is a constant breaking down and building up of usage, and as a consequence a lessened need of wholesale substitutions. Human methods have become viviparous; the New nowadays lives for a time in the form of the Old. The friend I quote in Chapter 2.10 writes of a possible sect with a “religious edifice” and ritual of its own, a new religious edifice and a new ritual. In practice I doubt whether “real” people, people who matter, people who are getting things done and who have already developed complex associations, can afford the extensive re-adjustment implied in such a new grouping. It would mean too much loss of time, too much loss of energy and attention, too much sacrifice of existing co-operations.

New cults, new religions, new organizations of all sorts, insisting upon their novelty and difference, are most prolific and most successful wherever there is an abundant supply of dissociated people, where movement is in excess of deliberation, and creeds and formulae unyielding and unadaptable because they are unthinking. In England, for example, in the last century, where social conditions have been comparatively stable, discussion good and abundant and internal migration small, there have been far fewer such developments than in the United States of America. In England toleration has become an institution, and where Tory and Socialist, Bishop and Infidel, can all meet at the same dinner-table and spend an agreeable week-end together, there is no need for defensive segregations. In such an atmosphere opinion and usage change and change continually, not dramatically as the results of separations and pitched battles but continuously and fluently as the outcome of innumerable personal reactions. America, on the other hand, because of its material preoccupations, because of the dispersal of its thinking classes over great areas, because of the cruder understanding of its more heterogeneous population (which constantly renders hard and explicit statement necessary), MEANS its creeds much more literally and is at once more experimental and less compromising and tolerant. It is there if anywhere that new brotherhoods and new creeds will continue to appear. But even in America I think the trend of things is away from separations and segregations and new starts, and towards more comprehensive and graduated methods of development.

New religions, I think, appear and are possible and necessary in phases of social disorganization, in phases when considerable numbers of people are detached from old systems of direction and unsettled and distressed. So, at any rate, it was Christianity appeared, in a strained and disturbed community, in the clash of Roman and Oriental thought, and for a long time it was confined to the drifting population of seaports and great cities and to wealthy virgins and widows, reaching the most settled and most adjusted class, the pagani, last of all and in its most adaptable forms. It was the greatest new beginning in the world’s history, and the wealth of political and literary and social and artistic traditions it abandoned had subsequently to be revived and assimilated to it fragment by fragment from the past it had submerged. Now, I do not see that the world to-day presents any fair parallelism to that sere age of stresses in whose recasting Christianity played the part of a flux. Ours is on the whole an organizing and synthetic rather than a disintegrating phase throughout the world. Old institutions are neither hard nor obstinate to-day, and the immense and various constructive forces at work are saturated now with the conception of evolution, of secular progressive development, as opposed to the revolutionary idea. Only a very vast and terrible war explosion can, I think, change this state of affairs.

This conveys in general terms, at least, my interpretation of the present time, and it is in accordance with this view that the world is moving forward as a whole and with much dispersed and discrepant rightness, that I do not want to go apart from the world as a whole into any smaller community, with all the implication of an exclusive possession of right which such a going apart involves. Put to the test by my own Samurai for example by a particularly urgent and enthusiastic discipline, I found I did not in the least want to be one of that organization, that it only expressed one side of a much more complex self than its disciplines permitted. And still less do I want to hamper the play of my thoughts and motives by going apart into the particularism of a new religion. Such refuges are well enough when the times threaten to overwhelm one. The point about the present age, so far as I am able to judge the world, is that it does not threaten to overwhelm; that at the worst, by my standards, it maintains its way of thinking instead of assimilating mine.


Now all this leads very directly to a discussion of the relations of a person of my way of thinking to the Church and religious institutions generally. I have already discussed my relation to commonly accepted beliefs, but the question of institutions is, it seems to me, a different one altogether. Not to realize that, to confuse a church with its creed, is to prepare the ground for a mass of disastrous and life-wasting errors.

Now my rules of conduct are based on the supposition that moral decisions are to be determined by the belief that the individual life guided by its perception of beauty is incidental, experimental, and contributory to the undying life of the blood and race. I have decided for myself that the general business of life is the development of a collective consciousness and will and purpose out of a chaos of individual consciousnesses and wills and purposes, and that the way to that is through the development of the Socialist State, through the socialization of existing State organizations and their merger of pacific association in a World State. But so far I have not taken up the collateral aspect of the synthesis of human consciousness, the development of collective feeling and willing and expression in the form, among others, of religious institutions.

Religious institutions are things to be legitimately distinguished from the creeds and cosmogonies with which one finds them associated. Customs are far more enduring things than ideas,–witness the mistletoe at Christmas, or the old lady turning her money in her pocket at the sight of the new moon. And the exact origin of a religious institution is of much less significance to us than its present effect. The theory of a religion may propose the attainment of Nirvana or the propitiation of an irascible Deity or a dozen other things as its end and aim; the practical fact is that it draws together great multitudes of diverse individualized people in a common solemnity and self-subordination however vague, and is so far, like the State, and in a manner far more intimate and emotional and fundamental than the State, a synthetic power. And in particular, the idea of the Catholic Church is charged with synthetic suggestion; it is in many ways an idea broader and finer than the constructive idea of any existing State. And just as the Beliefs I have adopted lead me to regard myself as in and of the existing State, such as it is, and working for its rectification and development, so I think there is a reasonable case for considering oneself in and of the Catholic Church and bound to work for its rectification and development; and this in spite of the fact that one may not feel justified in calling oneself a Christian in any sense of the term.

It may be maintained very plausibly that the Catholic Church is something greater than Christianity, however much the Christians may have contributed to its making. From the historical point of view it is a religious and social method that developed with the later development of the world empire of Rome and as the expression of its moral and spiritual side. Its head was, and so far as its main body is concerned still is, the pontifex maximus of the Roman world empire, an official who was performing sacrifices centuries before Christ was born. It is easy to assert that the Empire was converted to Christianity and submitted to its terrestrial leader, the bishop of Rome; it is quite equally plausible to say that the religious organization of the Empire adopted Christianity and so made Rome, which had hitherto had no priority over Jerusalem or Antioch in the Christian Church, the headquarters of the adopted cult. And if the Christian movement could take over and assimilate the prestige, the world predominance and sacrificial conception of the pontifex maximus and go on with that as part at any rate of the basis of a universal Church, it is manifest that now in the fulness of time this great organization, after its accumulation of Christian tradition, may conceivably go on still further to alter and broaden its teaching and observances and formulae.

In a sense no doubt all we moderns are bound to consider ourselves children of the Catholic Church, albeit critical and innovating children with a tendency to hark back to our Greek grandparents; we cannot detach ourselves absolutely from the Church without at the same time detaching ourselves from the main process of spiritual synthesis that has made us what we are. And there is a strong case for supposing that not only is this reasonable for us who live in the tradition of Western Europe, but that we are legitimately entitled to call upon extra European peoples to join with us in that attitude of filiation to the Catholic Church since, outside it, there is no organization whatever aiming at a religious catholicity and professing or attempting to formulate a collective religious consciousness in the world. So far as they come to a conception of a human synthesis they come to it by coming into our tradition.

I write here of the Catholic Church as an idea. To come from that idea to the world of present realities is to come to a tangle of difficulties. Is the Catholic Church merely the Roman communion or does it include the Greek and Protestant Churches? Some of these bodies are declaredly dissentient, some claim to be integral portions of the Catholic Church which have protested against and abandoned certain errors of the central organization. I admit it becomes a very confusing riddle in such a country as England to determine which is the Catholic Church; whether it is the body which possesses and administers Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, or the bodies claiming to represent purer and finer or more authentic and authoritative forms of Catholic teaching which have erected that new Byzantine-looking cathedral in Westminster, or Whitfield’s Tabernacle in the Tottenham Court Road, or a hundred or so other organized and independent bodies. It is still more perplexing to settle upon the Catholic Church in America among an immense confusion of sectarian fragments.

Many people, I know, take refuge from the struggle with this tangle of controversies by refusing to recognize any institutions whatever as representing the Church. They assume a mystical Church made up of all true believers, of all men and women of good intent, whatever their formulae or connexion. Wherever there is worship, there, they say, is a fragment of the Church. All and none of these bodies are the true Church.

This is no doubt profoundly true. It gives something like a working assumption for the needs of the present time. People can get along upon that. But it does not exhaust the question. We seek a real and understanding synthesis. We want a real collectivism, not a poetical idea; a means whereby men and women of all sorts, all kinds of humanity, may pray together, sing together, stand side by side, feel the same wave of emotion, develop a collective being. Doubtless right-spirited men are praying now at a thousand discrepant altars. But for the most part those who pray imagine those others who do not pray beside them are in error, they do not know their common brotherhood and salvation. Their brotherhood is masked by unanalyzable differences; theirs is a dispersed collectivism; their churches are only a little more extensive than their individualities and intenser in their collective separations.

The true Church towards which my own thoughts tend will be the conscious illuminated expression of Catholic brotherhood. It must, I think, develop out of the existing medley of Church fragments and out of all that is worthy in our poetry and literature, just as the worldwide Socialist State at which I aim must develop out of such state and casual economic organizations and constructive movements as exist to-day. There is no “beginning again” in these things. In neither case will going apart out of existing organizations secure our ends. Out of what is, we have to develop what has to be. To work for the Reformation of the Catholic Church is an integral part of the duty of a believer.

It is curious how misleading a word can be. We speak of a certain phase in the history of Christianity as the Reformation, and that word effectually conceals from most people the simple indisputable fact that there has been no Reformation. There was an attempt at a Reformation in the Catholic Church, and through a variety of causes it failed. It detached great masses from the Catholic Church and left that organization impoverished intellectually and spiritually, but it achieved no reconstruction at all. It achieved no reconstruction because the movement as a whole lacked an adequate grasp of one fundamentally necessary idea, the idea of Catholicity. It fell into particularism and failed. It set up a vast process of fragmentation among Christian associations. It drove huge fissures through the once common platform. In innumerable cases they were fissures of organization and prejudice rather than real differences in belief and mental habit. Sometimes it was manifestly conflicting material interests that made the split. People are now divided by forgotten points of difference, by sides taken by their predecessors in the disputes of the sixteenth century, by mere sectarian names and the walls of separate meeting places. In the present time, as a result of the dissenting method, there are multitudes of believing men scattered quite solitarily through the world.

The Reformation, the Reconstruction of the Catholic Church lies still before us. It is a necessary work. It is a work strictly parallel to the reformation and expansion of the organized State. Together, these processes constitute the general duty before mankind.


The whole trend of my thought in matters of conduct is against whatever accentuates one’s individual separation from the collective consciousness. It follows naturally from my fundamental creed that avoidable silences and secrecy are sins, just as abstinences are in themselves sins rather than virtues. And so I think that to leave any organization or human association except for a wider and larger association, to detach oneself in order to go alone, or to go apart narrowly with just a few, is fragmentation and sin. Even if one disagrees with the professions or formulae or usages of an association, one should be sure that the disagreement is sufficiently profound to justify one’s secession, and in any case of doubt, one should remain. I count schism a graver sin than heresy.

No profession of faith, no formula, no usage can be perfect. It is only required that it should be possible. More particularly does this apply to churches and religious organizations. There never was a creed nor a religious declaration but admitted of a wide variety of interpretations and implied both more and less than it expressed. The pedantically conscientious man, in his search for an unblemished religious brotherhood, has tended always to a solitude of universal dissent.

In the religious as in the economic sphere one must not look for perfect conditions. Setting up for oneself in a new sect is like founding Utopias in Paraguay, an evasion of the essential question; our real business is to take what we have, live in and by it, use it and do our best to better such faults as are manifest to us, in the direction of a wider and nobler organization. If you do not agree with the church in which you find yourself, your best course is to become a reformer IN that church, to declare it a detached forgetful part of the greater church that ought to be, just as your State is a detached unawakened part of the World State. You take it at what it is and try and broaden it towards reunion. It is only when secession is absolutely unavoidable that it is right to secede.

This is particularly true of state churches such as is the Church of England. These are bodies constituted by the national law and amenable to the collective will. I do not think a man should consider himself excluded from them because they have articles of religion to which he cannot subscribe and creeds he will not say. A national state church has no right to be thus limited and exclusive. Rather then let any man, just to the very limit that is possible for his intellectual or moral temperament, remain in his church to redress the balance and do his utmost to change and broaden it.

But perhaps the Church will not endure a broad-minded man in its body, speaking and reforming, and will expel him?

Be expelled–well and good! That is altogether different. Let them expel you, struggling valiantly and resolved to return so soon as they release you, to hammer at the door. But withdrawing–sulking–going off in a serene huff to live by yourself spiritually and materially in your own way–that is voluntary damnation, the denial of the Brotherhood of Man. Be a rebel or a revolutionary to your heart’s content, but a mere seceder never.

For otherwise it is manifest that we shall have to pay for each step of moral and intellectual progress with a fresh start, with a conflict between the new organization and the old from which it sprang, a perpetually-recurring parricide. There will be a series of religious institutions in developing order, each containing the remnant too dull or too hypocritical to secede at the time of stress that began the new body. Something of the sort has indeed happened to both the Catholic and the English Protestant churches. We have the intellectual and moral guidance of the people falling more and more into the hands of an informal Church of morally impassioned leaders, writers, speakers, and the like, while the beautiful cathedrals in which their predecessors sheltered fall more and more into the hands of an uninspiring, retrogressive but conforming clergy.

Now this was all very well for the Individualist Liberal of the Early Victorian period, but Individualist Liberalism was a mere destructive phase in the process of renewing the old Catholic order, a clearing up of the site. We Socialists want a Church through which we can feel and think collectively, as much as we want a State that we can serve and be served by. Whether as members or external critics we have to do our best to get rid of obsolete doctrinal and ceremonial barriers, so that the churches may merge again in a universal Church, and that Church comprehend again the whole growing and amplifying spiritual life of the race.

I do not know if I make my meaning perfectly clear here. By conformity I do not mean silent conformity. It is a man’s primary duty to convey his individual difference to the minds of his fellow men. It is because I want that difference to tell to the utmost that I suggest he should not leave the assembly. But in particular instances he may find it more striking and significant to stand out and speak as a man detached from the general persuasion, just as obstructed and embarrassed ministers of State can best serve their country at times by resigning office and appealing to the public judgment by this striking and significant act.

3.15. A DILEMMA.

We are led by this discussion of secession straight between the horns of a moral dilemma. We have come to two conclusions; to secede is a grave sin, but to lie is also a grave sin.

But often the practical alternative is between futile secession or implicit or actual falsehood. It has been the instinct of the aggressive controversialist in all ages to seize upon collective organizations and fence them about with oaths and declarations of such a nature as to bar out anyone not of his own way of thinking. In a democracy, for example, to take an extreme caricature of our case, a triumphant majority in power, before allowing anyone to vote, might impose an oath whereby the leader of the minority and all his aims were specifically renounced. And if no country goes so far as that, nearly all countries and all churches make some such restrictions upon opinion. The United States, that land of abandoned and receding freedoms, imposes upon everyone who crosses the Atlantic to its shores a childish ineffectual declaration against anarchy and polygamy. None of these tests exclude the unhesitating liar, but they do bar out many proud and honest minded people. They “fix” and kill things that should be living and fluid; they are offences against the mind of the race. How is a man then to behave towards these test oaths and affirmations, towards repeating creeds, signing assent to articles of religion and the like? Do not these unavoidable barriers to public service, or religious work, stand on a special footing?

Personally I think they do.

I think that in most cases personal isolation and disuse is the greater evil. I think if there is no other way to constructive service except through test oaths and declarations, one must take then. This is a particular case that stands apart from all other cases. The man who preaches a sermon and pretends therein to any belief he does not truly hold is an abominable scoundrel, but I do not think he need trouble his soul very greatly about the barrier he stepped over to get into the pulpit, if he felt the call to preach, so long as the preaching be honest. A Republican who takes the oath of allegiance to the King and wears his uniform is in a similar case. These things stand apart; they are so formal as to be scarcely more reprehensible than the falsehood of calling a correspondent “Dear,” or asking a tiresome lady to whom one is being kind and civil, for the pleasure of dancing with her. We ought to do what we can to abolish these absurd barriers and petty falsehoods, but we ought not to commit a social suicide against them.

That is how I think and feel in this matter, but if a man sees the matter more gravely, if his conscience tells him relentlessly and uncompromisingly, “this is a lie,” then it is a lie and he must not be guilty of it. But then I think it ill becomes him to be silently excluded. His work is to clamour against the existence of the barrier that wastes him.

I do not see that lying is a fundamental sin. In the first place some lying, that is to say some unavoidable inaccuracy of statement, is necessary to nearly everything we do, and the truest statement becomes false if we forget or alter the angle at which it is made, the direction in which it points. In the next the really fundamental and most generalized sin is self-isolation. Lying is a sin only because self-isolation is a sin, because it is an effectual way of cutting oneself off from human co-operation. That is why there is no sin in telling a fairy tale to a child. But telling the truth when it will be misunderstood is no whit better than lying; silences are often blacker than any lies. I class secrets with lies and cannot comprehend the moral standards that exonerate secrecy in human affairs.

To all these things one must bring a personal conscience and be prepared to examine particular cases. The excuses I have made, for example, for a very broad churchman to stay in the Church might very well be twisted into an excuse for taking an oath in something one did not to the slightest extent believe, in order to enter and betray some organization to which one was violently hostile. I admit that there may be every gradation between these two things. The individual must examine his special case and weigh the element of treachery against the possibility of co-operation. I do not see how there can be a general rule. I have already shown why in my own case I hesitate to profess a belief in God, because, I think, the misleading element in that profession would outweigh the advantage of sympathy and confidence gained.

3.16. A COMMENT.

The preceding section has been criticized by a friend who writes:–

“In religious matters apparent assent produces false unanimity. There is no convention about these things; if there were they would not exist. On the contrary, the only way to get perfunctory tests and so forth abrogated, is for a sufficient number of people to refuse to take them. It is in this case as in every other; secession is the beginning of a new integration. The living elements leave the dead or dying form and gradually create in virtue of their own combinations a new form more suited to present things. There is a formative, a creative power in sincerity and also in segregation itself. And the new form, the new species produced by variation and segregation will measure itself and its qualities with the old one. The old one will either go to the wall, accept the new one and be renewed by it, or the new one will itself be pushed out of existence if the old one has more vitality and is better adapted to the circumstances. This process of variation, competition and selection, also of intermarriage between equally vital and equally adapted varieties, is after all the process by which not only races exist but all human thoughts.”

So my friend, who I think is altogether too strongly swayed by biological analogies. But I am thinking not of the assertion of opinions primarily but of co-operation with an organization with which, save for the matter of the test, one may agree. Secession may not involve the development of a new and better moral organization; it may simply mean the suicide of one’s public aspect. There may be no room or no need of a rival organization. To secede from State employment, for example, is not to create the beginnings of a new State, however many–short of a revolution–may secede with you. It is to become a disconnected private person, and throw up one’s social side.

3.17. WAR.

I do not think a discussion of man’s social relations can be considered at all complete or satisfactory until we have gone into the question of military service. To-day, in an increasing number of countries, military service is an essential part of citizenship and the prospect of war lies like a great shadow across the whole bright complex prospect of human affairs. What should be the attitude of a right-living man towards his State at war and to warlike preparations?

In no other connexion are the confusions and uncertainty of the contemporary mind more manifest. It is an odd contradiction that in Great Britain and Western Europe generally, just those parties that stand most distinctly for personal devotion to the State in economic matters, the Socialist and Socialistic parties, are most opposed to the idea of military service, and just those parties that defend individual self-seeking and social disloyalty in the sphere of property are most urgent for conscription. No doubt some of this uncertainty is due to the mixing in of private interests with public professions, but much more is it, I think, the result of mere muddle-headedness and an insufficient grasp of the implications of the propositions under discussion. The ordinary political Socialist desires, as I desire, and as I suppose every sane man desires as an ultimate ideal, universal peace, the merger of national partitions in loyalty to the World State. But he does not recognize that the way to reach that goal is not necessarily by minimizing and specializing war and war responsibility at the present time. There he falls short of his own constructive conceptions and lapses into the secessionist methods of the earlier Radicals. We have here another case strictly parallel to several we have already considered. War is a collective concern; to turn one’s back upon it, to refuse to consider it as a possibility, is to leave it entirely to those who are least prepared to deal with it in a broad spirit.

In many ways war is the most socialistic of all forces. In many ways military organization is the most peaceful of activities. When the contemporary man steps from the street of clamorous insincere advertisement, push, adulteration, under-selling and intermittent employment, into the barrack-yard, he steps on to a higher social plane, into an atmosphere of service and co-operation and of infinitely more honourable emulations. Here at least men are not flung out of employment to degenerate because there is no immediate work for them to do. They are fed and drilled and trained for better services. Here a man is at least supposed to win promotion by self-forgetfulness and not by self-seeking. And beside the feeble and irregular endowment of research by commercialism, its little short-sighted snatches at profit by innovation and scientific economy, see how remarkable is the steady and rapid development of method and appliances in naval and military affairs! Nothing is more striking than to compare the progress of civil conveniences which has been left almost entirely to the trader, to the progress in military apparatus during the last few decades. The house appliances of to-day for example, are little better than they were fifty years ago. A house of to-day is still almost as ill-ventilated, badly heated by wasteful fires, clumsily arranged and furnished as the house of 1858. Houses a couple of hundred years old are still satisfactory places of residence, so little have our standards risen. But the rifle or battleship of fifty years ago was beyond all comparison inferior to those we possess; in power, in speed, in convenience alike. No one has a use now for such superannuated things.


What is the meaning of war in life?

War is manifestly not a thing in itself, it is something correlated with the whole fabric of human life. That violence and killing which between animals of the same species is private and individual becomes socialized in war. It is a co-operation for killing that carries with it also a co-operation for saving and a great development of mutual help and development within the war-making group.

War, it seems to me, is really the elimination of violent competition as between man and man, an excretion of violence from the developing social group. Through war and military organization, and through war and