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Human Nature In Politics by Graham Wallas

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an interest different from that of the parties who choose them, namely,
by giving them little time not dependent upon the will of those parties'
(p. 27).

The chief immediate danger in the case of the two older parties is that,
owing to the growing expense of electioneering and the growing effect of
legislation on commerce and finance, an increasing proportion of the
members and candidates may be drawn from the class of 'hustling'
company-promoters and financiers. The Labour Party, on the other hand,
can now draw upon an ample supply of genuine public spirit, and its
difficulties in this respect will arise, not from calculated individual
selfishness, but from the social and intellectual environment of
working-class life. During the last twenty years I have been associated,
for some years continuously and afterwards at intervals, with English
political working men. They had, it seemed to me, for the most part a
great advantage in the fact that certain real things of life were real
to them. It is, for instance, the 'class-conscious' working men who, in
England as on the Continent, are the chief safeguard against the horrors
of a general European war. But as their number and responsibility
increase they will, I believe, have to learn some rather hard lessons as
to the intellectual conditions of representative government upon a large
scale. The town working man lives in a world in which it is very
difficult for him to choose his associates. If he is of an expansive
temperament, and it is such men who become politicians, he must take his
mates in the shop and his neighbours in the tenement house as he finds
them--and he sees them at very close range. The social virtue therefore
which is almost a necessity of his existence is a good-humoured
tolerance of the defects of average human nature. He is keenly aware of
the uncertainty of his own industrial position, accustomed to give and
receive help, and very unwilling to 'do' any man 'out of his job.' His
parents and grandparents read very little and he was brought up in a
home with few books. If, as he grows up, he does not himself read,
things beyond his direct observation are apt to be rather shadowy for
him, and he is easily made suspicious of that which he does not
understand. If, on the other hand, he takes to reading when he is
already a grown man, words and ideas are apt to have for him a kind of
abstract and sharply outlined reality in a region far removed from his
daily life.

Now the first virtue required in government is the habit of realising
that things whose existence we infer from reading are as important as
the things observed by our senses, of looking, for instance, through a
list of candidates for an appointment and weighing the qualifications of
the man whom one has never met by the same standard as those of the man
whom one has met, and liked or pitied, the day before; or of deciding on
an improvement with complete impartiality as between the district one
knows of on the map and the district one sees every morning. If a
representative elected to govern a large area allows personal
acquaintance and liking to influence his decisions, his acquaintance and
liking will he schemed for and exploited by those who have their own
ends to gain. The same difficulty arises in matters of discipline, where
the interests of the unknown thousands who will suffer from the
inefficiency of an official have to be balanced against those of the
known official who will suffer by being punished or dismissed; as well
as in those numerous cases in which a working man has to balance the
dimly realised interests of the general consumer against his intimate
sympathy with his fellow-craftsmen.

The political risk arising from these facts is not, at present, very
great in the parliamentary Labour Party. The working men who have been
sent to parliament have been hitherto, as a rule, men of picked
intelligence and morale and of considerable political experience. But
the success or failure of any scheme aiming at social equality will
depend chiefly on its administration by local bodies, to which the
working classes must necessarily send men of less exceptional ability
and experience. I have never myself served on an elected local body the
majority of whose members were weekly wage earners. But I have talked
with men, both of working-class and middle-class origin, who have been
in that position. What they say confirms that which I have inferred from
my own observation, that on such a body one finds a high level of
enthusiasm, of sympathy, and of readiness to work, combined with a
difficulty in maintaining a sufficiently rigorous standard in dealing
with sectional interests and official discipline.

One is told that on such a body many members feel it difficult to
realise that the way in which a well-intentioned man may deal with his
own personal expenditure, his continued patronage, for instance, of a
rather inefficient tradesman because he has a large family, or his
refusal to contest an account from a dislike of imputing bad motives, is
fatal if applied in the expenditure of the large sums entrusted to a
public body. Sometimes there are even, one learns, indications of that
good-humoured and not ill-meant laxity in expending public money which
has had such disastrous results in America, and which lends itself so
easily to exploitation by those in whom the habit of giving and taking
personal favours has hardened into systematic fraud. When one of the
West Ham Guardians, two years ago, committed suicide on being charged
with corruption, the _Star_ sent down a representative who filled a
column with the news. 'His death,' we were told, 'has robbed the
district of an indefatigable public worker. County Council, Board of
Guardians, and Liberal interests all occupied his leisure time.' 'One of
his friends' is described as saying to the _Star_ reporter, 'You do not
need to go far to learn of his big-souled geniality. The poor folks of
the workhouse will miss him badly.'[82] When one has waded through masses
of evidence on American municipal corruption, that phrase about
'big-souled geniality' makes one shudder.

[82] _Star_, November 28th, 1906.

The early history of the co-operative and trade-union movements in
England is full of pathetic instances of this kind of failure, and both
movements show how a new and more stringent ideal may be slowly built
up. But such an ideal will not come of itself without an effort, and
must be part of the conscious organised thought of each generation if it
is to be permanently effective.

Those difficulties have in the past been mainly pointed out by the
opponents of democracy. But if democracy is to succeed they must be
frankly considered by the democrats themselves; just as it is the
engineer who is trying to build the bridge, and not the ferry-owner,
who is against any bridge at all, whose duty it is to calculate the
strain which the materials will stand. The engineer, when he wishes to
increase the margin of safety in his plans, treats as factors in the
same quantitative problem both the chemical expedients by which he can
strengthen his materials and the structural changes by which the strain
on those materials can be diminished. So those who would increase the
margin of safety in our democracy must estimate, with no desire except
to arrive at truth, both the degree to which the political strength of
the individual citizen can, in any given time, be actually increased by
moral and educational changes, and the possibility of preserving or
extending or inventing such elements in the structure of democracy as
may prevent the demand upon him being too great for his strength.



It is obvious, however, that the persons elected under any conceivable
system of representation cannot do the whole work of government

If all elections are held in single member constituencies of a size
sufficient to secure a good supply of candidates; if the number of
elections is such as to allow the political workers a proper interval
for rest and reflection between the campaigns; if each elected body has
an area large enough for effective administration, a number of members
sufficient for committee work and not too large for debate, and duties
sufficiently important to justify the effort and expense of a contest;
then one may take about twenty-three thousand as the best number of men
and women to be elected by the existing population of the United
Kingdom--or rather less than one to every two thousand of the

[83] I arrive at this figure by dividing the United Kingdom into single
member parliamentary constituencies, averaging 100,000 in population,
which gives a House of Commons of 440--a more convenient number than the
existing 670. I take the same unit of 100,000 for the average municipal
area. Large towns would contain several parliamentary constituencies,
and small towns would, as at present, be separate municipal areas,
although only part of a parliamentary constituency. I allow one local
council of 50 on the average to each municipal area.

This proportion depends mainly on facts in the psychology of the
electors, which will change very slowly if they change at all. At
present the amount of work to be done in the way of government is
rapidly increasing, and seems likely to continue to increase. If so, the
number of elected persons available for each unit of work must tend to
decrease. The number of persons now elected in the United Kingdom
(including, for instance, the Parish Councillors of rural parishes, and
the Common Council of the City of London) is, of course, larger than my
estimate, though it has been greatly diminished by the Acts of 1888,
1894 and 1902. Owing, however, to the fact that areas and powers are
still somewhat uneconomically distributed it represents a smaller actual
working power than would be given by the plan which I suggest.

On the other hand, the number of persons (excluding the Army and Navy)
given in the Census Returns of 1901 as professionally employed in the
central and local government of the United Kingdom was 161,000. This
number has certainly grown since 1901 at an increasing rate, and
consists of persons who give on an average at least four times as many
hours a week to their work as can be expected from the average elected

What ought to be the relation between these two bodies, of twenty-three
thousand elected, and, say, two hundred thousand non-elected persons? To
begin with, ought the elected members be free to appoint the non-elected
officials as they like? Most American politicians of Andrew Jackson's
time, and a large number of American politicians to-day, would hold, for
instance, as a direct corollary from democratic principles, that the
elected congressman or senator for a district or State has a right to
nominate the local federal officials. There may, he would admit, be some
risk in that method, but the risk, he would argue, is one involved in
the whole scheme of democracy, and the advantages of democracy as a
whole are greater than its disadvantages.

Our political logic in England has never been so elementary as that of
the Americans, nor has our faith in it been so unflinching. Most
Englishmen, therefore, have no feeling of disloyalty to the democratic
idea in admitting that it is not safe to allow the efficiency of
officials to depend upon the personal character of individual
representatives. At the General Election of 1906 there were at least two
English constituencies (one Liberal and the other Conservative) which
returned candidates whose personal unfitness had been to most men's
minds proved by evidence given in the law courts. Neither constituency
was markedly unlike the average in any respect. The facts were well
known, and in each case an attempt was made by a few public-spirited
voters to split the party vote, but both candidates were successful by
large majorities. The Borough of Croydon stands, socially and
intellectually, well above the average, but Mr. Jabez Balfour
represented Croydon for many years, until he was sentenced to penal
servitude for fraud. No one in any of these three cases would have
desired that the sitting member should appoint, say, the postmasters, or
collectors of Inland Revenue for his constituency.

But though the case against the appointment of officials by individual
representatives is clear, the question of the part which should be taken
by any elected body as a whole in appointing the officials who serve
under it is much more difficult, and cannot be discussed without
considering what are to be the relative functions of the officials and
the representatives after the appointment has taken place. Do we aim at
making election in fact as well as in constitutional theory the sole
base of political authority, or do we desire that the non-elected
officials shall exert some amount of independent influence?

The fact that most Englishmen, in spite of their traditional fear of
bureaucracy, would now accept the second of these alternatives, is one
of the most striking results of our experience in the working of
democracy. We see that the evidence on which the verdict at an election
must be given is becoming every year more difficult to collect and
present, and further removed from the direct observation of the voters.
We are afraid of being entirely dependent on partisan newspapers or
election leaflets for our knowledge, and we have therefore come to
value, even if for that reason only, the existence of a responsible and
more or less independent Civil Service. It is difficult to realise how
short a time it is since questions for which we now rely entirely on
official statistics were discussed by the ordinary political methods of
agitation and advocacy. In the earlier years of George the Third's
reign, at a time when population in England was, as we now know, rising
with unprecedented rapidity, the question of fact whether it was rising
or falling led to embittered political controversy.[84] In the spring of
1830 the House of Commons gave three nights to a confused party debate
on the state of the country. The Whigs argued that distress was general,
and the Tories (who were, as it happened, right) that it was local[85]. In
1798 or 1830 the 'public' who could take part in such discussions
numbered perhaps fifty thousand at the most. At least ten million people
must, since 1903, have taken part in the present Tariff Reform
controversy; and that controversy would have degenerated into mere
Bedlam if it had not been for the existence of the Board of Trade
Returns, with whose figures both sides had at least to appear to square
their arguments.

[84] Bonar's _Malthus_, chap. vii.

[85] _Hansard_, Feb. 4th, 5th, 6th, 1830.

If official figures did not exist in England, or if they did not possess
or deserve authority, it is difficult to estimate the degree of
political harm which could be done in a few years by an interested and
deliberately dishonest agitation on some question too technical for the
personal judgment of the ordinary voter. Suppose, for instance, that our
Civil Service were either notoriously inefficient or believed to be
dominated by party influence, and that an organised and fraudulent
'currency agitation' should suddenly spring up. A powerful press
syndicate brings out a series of well-advertised articles declaring that
the privileges of the Bank of England and the law as to the gold reserve
are 'strangling British Industry.' The contents bills of two hundred
newspapers denounce every day the 'monopolists' and the 'gold-bugs,' the
'lies and shams' of the Bank Returns, and the 'paid perjurers of
Somerset House.' The group of financiers who control the syndicate stand
to win enormous sums by the creation of a more 'elastic' currency, and
subscribe largely to a Free Money League, which includes a few sincere
paper-money theorists who have been soured by the contempt of the
professional economists. A vigorous and well-known member of
parliament--a not very reputable aristocrat perhaps, or some one loosely
connected with the Labour movement--whom everybody has hitherto feared
and no one quite trusted, sees his opportunity. He puts himself at the
head of the movement, denounces the 'fossils' and 'superior persons' who
at present lead Conservative and Liberal and Labour parties alike, and,
with the help of the press syndicate and the subscription fund of the
'Free Money League,' begins to capture the local associations, and
through them the central office of the party which is for the moment in
opposition, Can any one be sure that such a campaign, if it were opposed
only by counter-electioneering, might not succeed, even although its
proposals were wholly fraudulent and its leaders so ignorant or so
criminal that they could only come into power by discrediting two-thirds
of the honest politicians in the country and by replacing them with
'hustlers' and 'boodlers' and 'grafters,' and the other species for whom
American political science has provided names? How is the ordinary
voter--a market-gardener, or a gas-stoker, or a water-colour painter--to
distinguish by the help of his own knowledge and reasoning power between
the various appeals made to him by the 'Reformers' and the 'Safe Money
Men' as to the right proportion of the gold reserve to the note
issue--the 'ten per cent.' on the blue posters and the 'cent. per cent.'
on the yellow? Nor will his conscience be a safer guide than his
judgment. A 'Christian Service Wing' of the Free Money League may be
formed, and his conscience may be roused by a white-cravatted orator,
intoxicated by his own eloquence into something like sincerity, who
borrows that phrase about 'Humanity crucified on a cross of gold' which
Mr. W.J. Bryan borrowed a dozen years ago from some one else. In an
optimistic mood one might rely on the subtle network of confidence by
which each man trusts, on subjects outside his own knowledge, some
honest and better-informed neighbour, who again trusts at several
removes the trained thinker. But does such a personal network exist in
our vast delocalised urban populations?

It is the vague apprehension of such dangers, quite as much as the
merely selfish fears of the privileged classes, which preserves in
Europe the relics of past systems of non-elective government, the House
of Lords, for instance, in England, and the Monarchy in Italy or Norway.
Men feel that a second base in politics is required, consisting of
persons independent of the tactics by which electoral opinion is formed
and legally entitled to make themselves heard. But political authority
founded on heredity or wealth is not in fact protected from the
interested manipulation of opinion and feeling. The American Senate,
which has come to be representative of wealth, is already absorbed by
that financial power which depends for its existence on manufactured
opinion; and our House of Lords is rapidly tending in the same
direction. From the beginning of history it has been found easier for
any skilled politician who set his mind to it, to control the opinions
of a hereditary monarch than those of a crowd.

The real 'Second Chamber,' the real 'constitutional check' in England,
is provided, not by the House of Lords or the Monarchy, but by the
existence of a permanent Civil Service, appointed on a system
independent of the opinion or desires of any politician, and holding
office during good behaviour. If such a service were, as it is in Russia
and to a large extent in India, a sovereign power, it would itself, as I
argued in the last chapter, have to cultivate the art of manipulating
opinion. But the English Civil servants in their present position have
the right and duty of making their voice heard, without the necessity of
making their will, by fair means or foul, prevail.

The creation of this Service was the one great political invention in
nineteenth-century England, and like other inventions it was worked out
under the pressure of an urgent practical problem. The method of
appointing the officials of the East India Company had been a critical
question in English politics since 1783. By that time it had already
become clear that we could not permanently allow the appointment of the
rulers of a great empire kept in existence by the English fleet and army
to depend upon the irresponsible favour of the Company's directors.
Charles James Fox in 1783, with his usual heedlessness, proposed to cut
the knot, by making Indian appointments, in effect, part of the ordinary
system of parliamentary patronage; and he and Lord North were beaten
over their India Bill, not only because George the Third was obstinate
and unscrupulous, but because men felt the enormous political dangers
involved in their proposal. The question, in fact, could only be solved
by a new invention. The expedient of administering an oath to the
Directors that they would make their appointments honestly, proved to be
useless, and the requirements that the nominees of the Directors should
submit to a special training at Hayleybury, though more effective, left
the main evil of patronage untouched.

As early, therefore, as 1833, the Government Bill introduced by Macaulay
for the renewal and revision of the Company's charter contained a clause
providing that East India cadetships should be thrown open to
competition.[86] For the time the influence of the Directors was
sufficient to prevent so great a change from being effected, but in
1853, on a further renewal of the Charter, the system of competition was
definitely adopted, and the first open examination for cadetships took
place in 1855.

[86] It would be interesting if Lord Morley, now that he has access to
the records of the East India House, would tell us the true intellectual
history of this far-reaching suggestion. For the facts as now known, cf.
A.L. Lowell, _Colonial Civil Service_, pp. 243-256.

In the meantime Sir Charles Trevelyan, a distinguished Indian Civilian
who had married Macaulay's sister, had been asked to inquire, with the
help of Sir Stafford Northcote, into the method of appointment in the
Home Civil Service. His report appeared in the spring of 1854,[87] and is
one of the ablest of those State Papers which have done so much to mould
the English constitution during the last two generations. It showed the
intolerable effects on the _personnel_ of the existing Service of the
system by which the Patronage Secretary of the Treasury distributed
appointments in the national Civil Service among those members of
parliament whose votes were to be influenced or rewarded, and it
proposed that all posts requiring intellectual qualifications should be
thrown open to those young men of good character who succeeded at a
competitive examination in the subjects which then constituted the
education of a gentleman.

[87] _Reports and Papers on the Civil Service_, 1854-5.

But to propose that members of parliament should give up their own
patronage was a very different thing from asking them to take away the
patronage of the East India Company. Sir Charles Trevelyan, therefore,
before publishing his proposal, sent it round to a number of
distinguished persons both inside and outside the Government service,
and printed their very frank replies in an appendix.

Most of his correspondents thought that the idea was hopelessly
impracticable. It seemed like the intrusion into the world of politics
of a scheme of cause and effect derived from another universe--as if one
should propose to the Stock Exchange that the day's prices should be
fixed by prayer and the casting of lots. Lingen, for instance, the
permanent head of the Education Office, wrote considering that, as
matter of fact, patronage is one element of power, and not by any means
an unreal one; considering the long and inestimably valuable habituation
of the people of this country to political contests in which the share
of office ... reckons among the legitimate prizes of war; considering
that socially and in the business of life, as well as in Downing Street,
rank and wealth (as a fact, and whether we like it or not) hold the keys
of many things, and that our modes of thinking and acting proceed, in a
thousand ways, upon this supposition, considering all these things, I
should hesitate long before I advised such a revolution of the Civil
Service as that proposed by yourself and Sir Stafford Northcote.'[88] Sir
James Stephen of the Colonial Office put it more bluntly, 'The world we
live in is not, I think, half moralised enough for the acceptance of
such a scheme of stern morality as this.'[89] When, a few years later,
competition for commissions in the Indian army was discussed, Queen
Victoria (or Prince Albert through her) objected that it reduced the
sovereign to a mere signing machine.'[90]

[88] _Reports and Papers on the Civil Service_, pp. 104, 105.

[89] _Ibid._, p. 78

[90] _Life of Queen Victoria_, vol. iii. p. 377 (July 29, 1858).

In 1870, however, sixteen years after Trevelyan's Report, Gladstone
established open competition throughout the English Civil Service, by an
Order in Council which was practically uncriticised and unopposed; and
the parliamentary government of England in one of its most important
functions did in fact reduce itself 'to a mere signing machine.'

The causes of the change in the political atmosphere which made this
possible constitute one of the most interesting problems in English
history. One cause is obvious. In 1867 Lord Derby's Reform Act had
suddenly transferred the ultimate control of the House of Commons from
the 'ten pound householders' in the boroughs to the working men. The old
'governing classes' may well have felt that the patronage which they
could not much longer retain would be safer in the hands of an
independent Civil Service Commission, interpreting, like a blinded
figure of Justice, the verdict of Nature, than in those of the dreaded
'caucuses,' which Mr. Schnadhorst was already organising.

But one seems to detect a deeper cause of change than the mere
transference of voting power. The fifteen years from the Crimean War to
1870 were in England a period of wide mental activity, during which the
conclusions of a few penetrating thinkers like Darwin or Newman were
discussed and popularised by a crowd of magazine writers and preachers
and poets. The conception was gaining ground that it was upon serious
and continued thought and not upon opinion that the power to carry out
our purposes, whether in politics or elsewhere, must ultimately depend.

Carlyle in 1850 had asked whether 'democracy once modelled into
suffrages, furnished with ballot-boxes and such-like, will itself
accomplish the salutary universal change from Delusive to Real,' and had
answered, 'Your ship cannot double Cape Horn by its excellent plans of
voting. The ship may vote this and that, above decks and below, in the
most harmonious exquisitely constitutional manner: the ship, to get
round Cape Horn, will find a set of conditions already voted for, and
fixed with adamantine rigour by the ancient Elemental Powers, who are
entirely careless how you vote. If you can, by voting or without voting,
ascertain those conditions, and valiantly conform to them, you will get
round the Cape: if you cannot--the ruffian Winds will blow you ever back

[91] _Latter Day Pamphlets, No. I, The Present Time_. (Chapman and Hall,
1894, pp. 12 and 14.)

By 1870 Carlyle's lesson was already well started on its course from
paradox to platitude. The most important single influence in that course
had been the growth of Natural Science. It was, for instance, in 1870
that Huxley's _Lay Sermons_ were collected and published. People who
could not in 1850 understand Carlyle's distinction between the Delusive
and the Eeal, could not help understanding Huxley's comparison of life
and death to a game of chess with an unseen opponent who never makes a
mistake.[92] And Huxley's impersonal Science seemed a more present aid in
the voyage round Cape Horn than Carlyle's personal and impossible Hero.

[92] _Lay Sermont_, p. 31, 'A Liberal Education' (1868).

But the invention of a competitive Civil Service, when it had once been
made and adopted, dropped from the region of severe and difficult
thought in which it originated, and took its place in our habitual
political psychology. We now half-consciously conceive of the Civil
Service as an unchanging fact whose good and bad points are to be taken
or left as a whole. Open competition has by the same process become a
principle, conceived of as applying to those cases to which it has been
in fact applied, and to no others. What is therefore for the moment most
needed, if we are to think fruitfully on the subject, is that we should
in our own minds break up this fact, and return to the world of infinite
possible variations. We must think of the expedient of competition
itself as varying in a thousand different directions, and shading by
imperceptible gradations into other methods of appointment; and of the
posts offered for competition as differing each from all the rest, as
overlapping those posts for which competition in some form is suitable
though it has not yet been tried, and as touching, at the marginal point
on their curve, those posts for which competition is unsuitable.

Directly we begin this process one fact becomes obvious. There is no
reason why the same system should not be applied to the appointment of
the officials of the local as to those of the central government. It is
an amazing instance of the intellectual inertia of the English people
that we have never seriously considered this point. In America the term
Civil Service is applied equally to both groups of offices, and 'Civil
Service principles' are understood to cover State and Municipal as well
as Federal appointments. The separation of the two systems in our minds
may, indeed, be largely due to the mere accident that from historical
reasons we call them by different names. As it is, the local authorities
are (with the exception that certain qualifications are required for
teachers and medical officers) left free to do as they will in making
appointments. Perhaps half a dozen Metropolitan and provincial local
bodies have adopted timid and limited schemes of open competition. But
in all other cases the local civil servants, who are already probably as
numerous as those of the central government,[93] are appointed under
conditions which, if the Government chose to create a Commission of
Inquiry, would probably be found to have reproduced many of the evils
that existed in the patronage of the central government before 1855.

[93] The figures in the census of 1901 were--National, 90,000; Local,
71,000. But the local officials since then have, I believe, increased
much more rapidly than the national.

It would not, of course, be possible to appoint a separate body of Civil
Service Commissioners to hold a separate examination for each locality,
and difficulties would arise from the selection of officials by a body
responsible only to the central government, and out of touch with the
local body which controls, pays, and promotes them when appointed. But
similar difficulties have been obviated by American Civil Service
Reformers, and a few days' hard thinking would suffice to adapt the
system to English local conditions.

One object aimed at by the creation of a competitive Civil Service for
the central government in England was the prevention of corruption. It
was made more difficult for representatives and officials to conspire
together in order to defraud the public, when the official ceased to owe
his appointment to the representative. If an English member of
parliament desired now to make money out of his position, he would have
to corrupt a whole series of officials in no way dependent on his
favour, who perhaps intensely dislike the human type to which he
belongs, and who would be condemned to disgrace or imprisonment years
after he had lost his seat if some record of their joint misdoing were

This precaution against corruption is needed even more clearly under the
conditions of local government. The expenditure of local bodies in the
United Kingdom is already much larger than that of the central State,
and is increasing at an enormously greater rate, while the fact that
most of the money is spent locally, and in comparatively small sums,
makes fraud easier. English municipal life is, I believe, on the whole
pure, but fraud does occur, and it is encouraged by the close connection
that may exist between the officials and the representatives. A needy or
thick-skinned urban councillor or guardian may at any moment tempt, or
be tempted, by a poor relation who helped him at his election, and for
whom (perhaps as the result of a tacit understanding that similar
favours should be allowed to his colleagues), he obtained a municipal

The railway companies, again, in England are coming every year more and
more under State control, but no statesman has ever attempted to secure
in their case, as was done in the case of the East India Company a
century ago, some reasonable standard of purity and impartiality in
appointments and promotion. Some few railways have systems of
competition for boy clerks, even more inadequate than those carried on
by municipalities; but one is told that under most of the companies
both appointment and promotion may be influenced by the favour of
directors or large shareholders. We regulate the minutiae of coupling
and signalling on the railways, but do not realise that the safety of
the public depends even more directly upon their systems of patronage.

How far this principle should be extended, and how far, for instance, it
would be possible to prevent the head of a great private firm from
ruining half a country side by leaving the management of his business to
a hopelessly incompetent relation, is a question which depends, among
other things, upon the powers of political invention which may be
developed by collectivist thinkers in the next fifty years.

We must meanwhile cease to treat the existing system of competition by
the hasty writing of answers to unexpected examination questions as an
unchangeable entity. That system has certain very real advantages. It is
felt by the candidates and their relations to be 'fair.' It reveals
facts about the relative powers of the candidates in some important
intellectual qualities which no testimonials would indicate, and which
are often unknown, till tested, to the candidates themselves. But if the
sphere of independent selection is to be widely extended, greater
variety must be introduced into its methods. In this respect invention
has stood still in England since the publication of Sir Charles
Trevelyan's Report in 1855. Some slight modifications have taken place
in the subjects chosen for examination, but the enormous changes in
English educational conditions during the last half century have been
for the most part ignored. It is still assumed that young Englishmen
consist of a small minority who have received the nearly uniform
'education of a gentleman,' and a large majority who have received no
intellectual training at all. The spread of varied types of secondary
schools, the increasing specialisation of higher education, and the
experience which all the universities of the world have accumulated as
to the possibility of testing the genuineness and intellectual quality
of 'post graduate' theses have had little or no effect.

The Playfair Commission of 1875 found that a few women were employed for
strictly subordinate work in the Post Office. Since then female
typewriters and a few better-paid women have been introduced into other
offices in accordance with the casual impulses of this or that
parliamentary or permanent chief; but no systematic attempt has been
made to enrich the thinking power of the State by using the trained and
patient intellects of the women who graduate each year in the newer, and
'qualify by examination to graduate,' in the older Universities.

To the general public indeed, the adoption of open competition in 1870
seemed to obviate any necessity for further consideration not only of
the method by which officials were appointed but also of the system
under which they did their work. The race of Tite Barnacles, they
learnt, was now to become extinct. Appointment was to be by 'merit,' and
the announcement of the examination results, like the wedding in a
middle-Victorian novel, was to be the end of the story. But in a
Government office, as certainly as in a law-court or a laboratory,
effective thinking will not be done unless adequate opportunities and
motives are secured by organisation during the whole working life of the
appointed officials. Since 1870, however, the organisation of the
Government Departments has either been left to the casual development of
office tradition in each Department or has been changed (as in the case
of the War Office) by an agitation directed against one Department only.
The official relations, for instance, between the First Division
minority and the Second Division majority of the clerks in each office
vary, not on any considered principle, but according to the opinions and
prejudices of some once-dominant but now forgotten chief. The same is
true of the relation between the heads of each section and the officials
immediately below them. In at least one office important papers are
brought first to the chief. His decision is at once given and is sent
down the hierarchy for elaboration. In other offices the younger men are
given invaluable experience, and the elder men are prevented from
getting into an official rut by a system which requires that all papers
should be sent first to a junior, who sends them up to his senior
accompanied not only by the necessary papers but also by a minute of his
own suggesting official action. One of these two types of organisation
must in fact be better than the other, but no one has systematically
compared them.

In the Colonial Office, again, it is the duty of the Librarian to see
that the published books as well as the office records on any question
are available for every official who has to report on it. In the Board
of Trade, which deals with subjects on which the importance of published
as compared with official information is even greater, room has only
just been found for a technical library which was collected many years
ago.[94] The Foreign Office and the India Office have libraries, the
Treasury and the Local Government Board have none.

[94] For a long time the Library of the Board of Trade was kept at the
Foreign Office.

In the Exchequer and Audit Department a deliberate policy has been
adopted of training junior officials by transferring them at regular
intervals to different branches of the work. The results are said to be
excellent, but nothing of the kind is systematically done or has even
been seriously discussed in any other Department which I know.

Nearly all departmental officials are concerned with the organisation
of non-departmental work more directly executive than their own, and
part of a wise system of official training would consist in 'seconding'
young officials for experience in the kind of work which they are to
organise. The clerks of the Board of Agriculture should be sent at least
once in their career to help in superintending the killing of infected
swine and interviewing actual farmers, while an official in the Railway
section of the Board of Trade should acquire some personal knowledge of
the inside of a railway office. This principle of 'seconding' might well
be extended so as to cover (as is already done in the army) definite
periods of study during which an official, on leave of absence with full
pay, should acquire knowledge useful to his department; after which he
should show the result of his work, not by the answering of examination
questions, but by the presentation of a book or report of permanent

The grim necessity of providing, after the events of the Boer War, for
effective thought in the government of the British army produced the War
Office Council. The Secretary of State, instead of knowing only of those
suggestions that reach him through the 'bottle-neck' of his senior
official's mind, now sits once a week at a table with half a dozen heads
of sub-departments. He hears real discussion; he learns to pick men for
higher work; and saves many hours of circumlocutory writing. At the same
time, owing to a well-known fact in the physiology of the human brain,
the men who are tired of thinking on paper find a new stimulus in the
spoken word and the presence of their fellow human beings, just as
politicians who are tired with talking, find, if their minds are still
uninjured, a new stimulus in the silent use of a pen.

If this periodical alternation of written and oral discussion is useful
in the War Office, it would probably be useful in other offices; but no
one with sufficient authority to require an answer has ever asked if it
is so.

One of the most important functions of a modern Government is the
effective publication of information, but we have no Department of
Publicity, though we have a Stationery Office; and it is, for instance,
apparently a matter of accident whether any particular Department has or
has not a Gazette and how and when that Gazette is published. Nor is it
any one's business to discover and criticise and if necessary
co-ordinate the statistical methods of the various official

On all these points and many others a small Departmental Committee
(somewhat on the lines of that Esher Committee which reorganised the War
Office in 1904), consisting perhaps of an able manager of an Insurance
Company, with an open-minded Civil Servant, and a business man with
experience of commercial and departmental organisation abroad, might
suggest such improvements as would without increase of expense double
the existing intellectual output of our Government offices.

But such a Committee will not be appointed unless the ordinary members
of parliament, and especially the members who advocate a wide extension
of collective action, consider much more seriously than they do at
present the organisation of collective thought. How, for instance, are
we to prevent or minimise the danger that a body of officials will
develop 'official' habits of thought, and a sense of a corporate
interest opposed to that of the majority of the people? If a sufficient
proportion of the ablest and best equipped young men of each generation
are to be induced to come into the Government service they must be
offered salaries which place them at once among the well-to-do classes.
How are we to prevent them siding consciously or unconsciously on all
questions of administration with their economic equals? If they do, the
danger is not only that social reform will be delayed, but also that
working men in England may acquire that hatred and distrust of highly
educated permanent officials which one notices in any gathering of
working men in America.

We are sometimes told, now that good education is open to every one,
that men of every kind of social origin and class sympathy will enter to
an increasing extent the higher Civil Service. If that takes place it
will be an excellent thing, but meanwhile any one who follows the
development of the existing examination system knows that care is
required to guard against the danger that preference in marking may, if
only from official tradition, be given to subjects like Greek and Latin
composition, whose educational value is not higher than others, but
excellence in which is hardly ever acquired except by members of one
social class.

It would, of course, be ruinous to sacrifice intellectual efficiency to
the dogma of promotion from the ranks, and the statesmen of 1870 were
perhaps right in thinking that promotion from the second to the first
division of the service would be in their time so rare as to be
negligible. But things have changed since then. The competition for the
second division has become incomparably more severe, and there is no
reasonable test under which some of those second class officials who
have continued their education by means of reading and University
teaching in the evening would not show, at thirty years of age, a
greater fitness for the highest work than would be shown by many of
those who had entered by the more advanced examination.

But however able our officials are, and however varied their origin, the
danger of the narrowness and rigidity which has hitherto so generally
resulted from official life would still remain, and must be guarded
against by every kind of encouragement to free intellectual
development. The German Emperor did good service the other day when he
claimed (in a semi-official communication on the Tweedmouth letter) that
the persons who are Kings and Ministers in their official capacity have
as Fachmaenner (experts) other and wider rights in the republic of
thought. One only wishes that he would allow his own officials after
their day's work to regroup themselves, in the healthy London fashion,
with labour leaders, and colonels, and schoolmasters, and court ladies,
and members of parliament, as individualists or socialists, or
protectors of African aborigines, or theosophists, or advocates of a
free stage or a free ritual.

The intellectual life of the government official is indeed becoming part
of a problem which every year touches us all more closely. In literature
and science as well as in commerce and industry the independent producer
is dying out and the official is taking his place. We are nearly all of
us officials now, bound during our working days, whether we write on a
newspaper, or teach in a university, or keep accounts in a bank, by
restrictions on our personal freedom in the interest of a larger
organisation. We are little influenced by that direct and obvious
economic motive which drives a small shopkeeper or farmer or country
solicitor to a desperate intensity of scheming how to outstrip his
rivals or make more profit out of his employees. If we merely desire to
do as little work and enjoy as much leisure as possible in our lives, we
all find that it pays us to adopt that steady unanxious 'stroke' which
neither advances nor retards promotion.

The indirect stimulus, therefore, of interest and variety, of public
spirit and the craftsman's delight in his skill, is becoming more
important to us as a motive for the higher forms of mental effort, and
threats and promises of decrease or increase of salary less important.
And because those higher efforts are needed not only for the advantage
of the community but for the good of our own souls we are all of us
concerned in teaching those distant impersonal masters of ours who are
ourselves how to prevent the opportunity of effective thought from being
confined to a tiny rich minority, living, like the Cyclops, in
irresponsible freedom. If we consciously accept the fact that organised
work will in future be the rule and unorganised work the exception, and
if we deliberately adjust our methods of working as well as our personal
ideals to that condition, we need no longer feel that the direction of
public business must be divided between an uninstructed and unstable
body of politicians and a selfish and pedantic bureaucracy.



I have discussed, in the three preceding chapters, the probable effect
of certain existing intellectual tendencies on our ideals of political
conduct, our systems of representation, and the methods which we adopt
for securing intellectual initiative and efficiency among our
professional officials--that is to say, on the internal organisation of
the State.

In this chapter I propose to discuss the effect of the same tendencies
on international and inter-racial relations. But, as soon as one leaves
the single State and deals with the interrelation of several States, one
meets with the preliminary question, What is a State? Is the British
Empire, or the Concert of Europe, one State or many? Every community in
either area now exerts political influence on every other, and the
telegraph and the steamship have abolished most of the older limitations
on the further development and extension of that influence. Will the
process of coalescence go on either in feeling or in constitutional
form, or are there any permanent causes tending to limit the
geographical or racial sphere of effective political solidarity, and
therefore the size and composition of States?

Aristotle, writing under the conditions of the ancient world, laid it
down that a community whose population extended to a hundred thousand
would no more be a State than would one whose population was confined to
ten.[95] He based his argument on measurable facts as to the human senses
and the human memory. The territory of a State must be 'visible as a
whole' by one eye, and the assembly attended by all the full citizens
must be able to hear one voice--which must be that of an actual man and
not of the legendary Stentor. The governing officials must be able to
remember the faces and characters of all their fellow citizens.[96] He
did not ignore the fact that nearly all the world's surface as he knew
it was occupied by States enormously larger than his rule allowed. But
he denied that the great barbarian monarchies were in the truest sense
'States' at all.

[95] _Ethics_, IX., X. 3. [Greek: oute gar ek deka anthropon genoit' an
polis, out' ek deka myriadon eti polis estin.]

[96] Aristotle, _Polit._, Bk. VII. ch. iv.

We ourselves are apt to forget that the facts on which Aristotle relied
were both real and important. The history of the Greek and mediaeval
City-States shows how effective a stimulus may be given to some of the
highest activities and emotions of mankind when the whole environment
of each citizen comes within the first-hand range of his senses and
memory. It is now only here and there, in villages outside the main
stream of civilisation, that men know the faces of their neighbours and
see daily as part of one whole the fields and cottages in which they
work and rest. Yet, even now, when a village is absorbed by a sprawling
suburb or overwhelmed by the influx of a new industrial population, some
of the older inhabitants feel that they are losing touch with the deeper
realities of life.

A year ago I stood with a hard-walking and hard-thinking old Yorkshire
schoolmaster on the high moorland edge of Airedale. Opposite to us was
the country-house where Charlotte Bronte was governess, and below us
ran the railway, linking a string of manufacturing villages which
already were beginning to stretch out towards each other, and threatened
soon to extend through the valley an unbroken succession of tall
chimneys and slate roofs. He told me how, within his memory, the old
affection for place and home had disappeared from the district. I asked
whether he thought that a new affection was possible, whether, now that
men lived in the larger world of knowledge and inference, rather than in
the narrower world of sight and hearing, a patriotism of books and maps
might not appear which should be a better guide to life than the
patriotism of the village street.

This he strongly denied; as the older feeling went, nothing, he said,
had taken its place, or would take its place, but a naked and restless
individualism, always seeking for personal satisfaction, and always
missing it. And then, almost in the words of Morris and Ruskin, he began
to urge that we should pay a cheap price if we could regain the true
riches of life by forgetting steam and electricity, and returning to the
agriculture of the mediaeval village and the handicrafts of the
mediaeval town.

He knew and I knew that his plea was hopeless. Even under the old
conditions the Greek and Italian and Flemish City-States perished,
because they were too small to protect themselves against larger though
less closely organised communities; and industrial progress is an
invader even more irresistible than the armies of Macedon or Spain. For
a constantly increasing proportion of the inhabitants of modern England
there is now no place where in the old sense they 'live.' Nearly the
whole of the class engaged in the direction of English industry, and a
rapidly increasing proportion of the manual workers, pass daily in tram
or train between sleeping-place and working-place a hundred times more
sights than their eyes can take in or their memory retain. They are, to
use Mr. Wells's phrase, 'delocalised.'[97]

[97] _Mankind in the Making_, p. 406.

But now that we can no longer use the range of our senses as a basis
for calculating the possible area of the civilised State, there might
seem to be no facts at all which can be used for such a calculation. How
can we fix the limits of effective intercommunication by steam or
electricity, or the area which can be covered by such political
expedients as representation and federalism? When Aristotle wished to
illustrate the relation of the size of the State to the powers of its
citizens he compared it to a ship, which, he said, must not be too large
to be handled by the muscles of actual men. 'A ship of two furlongs
length would not be a ship at all.'[98] But the _Lusitania_ is already
not very far from a furlong and a half in length, and no one can even
guess what is the upward limit of size which the ship-builders of a
generation hence will have reached. If once we assume that a State may
be larger than the field of vision of a single man, then the merely
mechanical difficulty of bringing the whole earth under a government as
effective as that of the United States or the British Empire has already
been overcome. If such a government is impossible, its impossibility
must be due to the limits not of our senses and muscles but of our
powers of imagination and sympathy.

[98] Aristotle, _Polit._, Bk. VII. ch. iv.

I have already pointed out[99] that the modern State must exist for the
thoughts and feelings of its citizens, not as a fact of direct
observation but as an entity of the mind, a symbol, a personification,
or an abstraction. The possible area of the State will depend,
therefore, mainly on the facts which limit our creation and use of such
entities. Fifty years ago the statesmen who were reconstructing Europe
on the basis of nationality thought that they had found the relevant
facts in the causes which limit the physical and mental homogeneity of
nations. A State, they thought, if it is to be effectively governed,
must be a homogeneous 'nation,' because no citizen can imagine his State
or make it the object of his political affection unless he believes in
the existence of a national type to which the individual inhabitants of
the State are assimilated; and he cannot continue to believe in the
existence of such a type unless in fact his fellow-citizens are like
each other and like himself in certain important respects. Bismarck
deliberately limited the area of his intended German Empire by a
quantitative calculation as to the possibility of assimilating other
Germans to the Prussian type. He always opposed the inclusion of
Austria, and for a long time the inclusion of Bavaria, on the ground
that while the Prussian type was strong enough to assimilate the Saxons
and Hanoverians to itself, it would fail to assimilate Austrians and
Bavarians. He said, for instance, in 1866: 'We cannot use these
Ultramontanes, and we must not swallow more than we can digest.'[100]

[99] Part I. ch. ii. pp. 72, 73, and 77-81.

[100] _Bismarck_ (J.W. Headlam), p. 269.

Mazzini believed, with Bismarck, that no State could be well governed
unless it consisted of a homogeneous nation. But Bismarck's policy of
the artificial assimilation of the weaker by the stronger type seemed to
him the vilest form of tyranny; and he based his own plans for the
reconstruction of Europe upon the purpose of God, as revealed by the
existing correspondence of national uniformities with geographical
facts. 'God,' he said, 'divided humanity into distinct groups or nuclei
upon the face of the earth.... Evil governments have disfigured the
Divine design. Nevertheless you may still trace it, distinctly marked
out--at least as far as Europe is concerned--by the course of the great
rivers, the direction of the higher mountains, and other geographical

[101] _Life, and Writings_ (Smith, Elder, 1891), vol. iv. (written
1858), p. 275.

Both Mazzini and Bismarck, therefore, opposed with all their strength
the humanitarianism of the French Revolution, the philosophy which, as
Canning said, 'reduced the nation into individuals in order afterwards
to congregate them into mobs.'[102] Mazzini attacked the 'cosmopolitans,'
who preached that all men should love each other without distinction of
nationality, on the ground that they were asking for a psychological
impossibility. No man, he argued, can imagine, and therefore no one can
love, mankind, if mankind means to him all the millions of individual
human beings. Already in 1836 he denounced the original Carbonari for
this reason: 'The cosmopolitan,' he then said, 'alone in the midst of
the immense circle by which he is surrounded, whose boundaries extend
beyond the limits of his vision; possessed of no other weapons than the
consciousness of his rights (often misconceived) and his individual
faculties--which, however powerful, are incapable of extending their
activity over the whole sphere of application constituting the aim ...
has but two paths before him. He is compelled to choose between
despotism and inertia.'[103] He quotes the Breton fisherman who, as he
puts out to sea, prays to God, 'Help me my God! My boat is so small and
Thy ocean so wide.'[104]

[102] Canning, _Life_ by Stapleton, p. 341 (speech at Liverpool, 1818).

[103] Mazzini, _Life and Writings_ (Smith, Elder, 1891), vol. iii. p. 8.

[104] _Ibid._, vol. iv. p. 274.

For Mazzini the divinely indicated nation stood therefore between the
individual man and the unimaginable multitude of the human race. A man
could comprehend and love his nation because it consisted of beings like
himself 'speaking the same language, gifted with the same tendencies and
educated by the same historical tradition,'[105] and could be thought of
as a single national entity. The nation was 'the intermediate term
between humanity and the individual,'[106] and man could only attain to
the conception of humanity by picturing it to himself as a mosaic of
homogeneous nations. 'Nations are the citizens of humanity as
individuals are the citizens of the nation,'[107] and again, 'The pact of
humanity cannot be signed by individuals, but only by free and equal
peoples, possessing a name, a banner, and the consciousness of a
distinct existence.'[108]

[105] _Ibid._, vol. iv. p. 276 (written 1858).

[106] _Ibid._, vol. v. p. 273.

[107] Mazzini, _Life and Writings_ (Smith, Elder, 1891), vol. v. p. 274
(written 1849).

[108] _Ibid_., vol. iii. p. 15 (written 1836).

Nationalism, as interpreted either by Bismarck or by Mazzini, played a
great and invaluable part in the development of the political
consciousness of Europe during the nineteenth century. But it is
becoming less and less possible to accept it as a solution for the
problems of the twentieth century. We cannot now assert with Mazzini,
that the 'indisputable tendency of our epoch' is towards a
reconstitution of Europe into a certain number of homogeneous national
States 'as nearly as possible equal in population and extent'[109]
Mazziui, indeed, unconsciously but enormously exaggerated the simplicity
of the question even in his own time. National types throughout the
greater part of south-eastern Europe were not even then divided into
homogeneous units by 'the course of the great rivers and the direction
of the high mountains,' but were intermingled from village to village;
and events have since forced us to admit that fact. We no longer, for
instance, can believe, as Mr. Swinburne and the other English disciples
of Mazzini and of Kossuth seem to have believed in the eighteen sixties,
that Hungary is inhabited only by a homogeneous population of patriotic
Magyars. We can see that Mazzini was already straining his principle to
the breaking point when he said in 1852: 'It is in the power of Greece
... to become, by extending itself to Constantinople, a powerful barrier
against the European encroachments of Russia.'[110] In Macedonia to-day
bands of Bulgarian and Greek patriots, both educated in the pure
tradition of Mazzinism, are attempting to exterminate the rival
populations in order to establish their own claim to represent the
purposes of God as indicated by the position of the Balkan mountains.
Mazzini himself would, perhaps, were he living now, admit that, if the
Bismarckian policy of artificial assimilation is to be rejected, there
must continue to be some States in Europe which contain inhabitants
belonging to widely different national types.

[109] _Ibid._, vol. v. p. 275.

[110] _Life and Writings_ (Smith, Elder, 1891), vol. vi. p. 258.

Bismarck's conception of an artificial uniformity created by 'blood and
iron' corresponded more closely than did Mazzini's to the facts of the
nineteenth century. But its practicability depended upon the assumption
that the members of the dominant nationality would always vehemently
desire to impose their own type on the rest. Now that the
Social-Democrats, who are a not inconsiderable proportion of the
Prussian population, apparently admire their Polish or Bavarian or
Danish fellow-subjects all the more because they cling to their own
national characteristics, Prince Buelow's Bismarckian dictum the other
day, that the strength of Germany depends on the existence and dominance
of an intensely national Prussia, seemed a mere political survival. The
same change of feeling has also shown itself in the United Kingdom, and
both the English parties have now tacitly or explicitly abandoned that
Anglicisation of Ireland and Wales, which all parties once accepted as a
necessary part of English policy.

A still more important difficulty in applying the principle that the
area of the State should be based on homogeneity of national type,
whether natural or artificial, has been created by the rapid extension
during the last twenty-five years of all the larger European states into
non-European territory. Neither Mazzini, till his death in 1872, nor
Bismarck, till the colonial adventure of 1884, was compelled to take
into his calculations the inclusion of territories and peoples outside
Europe. Neither of them, therefore, made any effective intellectual
preparation for those problems which have been raised in our time by
'the scramble for the world.' Mazzini seems, indeed, to have vaguely
expected that nationality would spread from Europe into Asia and Africa,
and that the 'pact of humanity' would ultimately be 'signed' by
homogeneous and independent 'nations,' who would cover the whole land
surface of the globe. But he never indicated the political forces by
which that result was to be brought about. The Italian invasion of
Abyssinia in 1896 might have been represented either as a necessary
stage in the Mazzinian policy of spreading the idea of nationality to
Africa, or as a direct contradiction of that idea itself.

Bismarck, with his narrower and more practical intellect, never looked
forward, as Mazzini did, to a 'pact of humanity,' which should include
even the nations of Europe, and, indeed, always protested against the
attempt to conceive of any relation whatsoever, moral or political, as
existing between any State and the States or populations outside its
boundaries. 'The only sound principle of action,' he said, 'for a great
State is political egoism.'[111] When, therefore, after Bismarck's death
German sailors and soldiers found themselves in contact with the
defenceless inhabitants of China or East Africa, they were, as the
Social-Democrats quickly pointed out, provided with no conception of the
situation more highly developed than that which was acted upon in the
fifth century A.D., by Attila and his Huns.

[111] Speech, 1850, quoted by J.W. Headlam, _Bismarck_, p. 83.

The modern English imperialists tried for some time to apply the idea of
national homogeneity to the facts of the British Empire. From the
publication of Seeley's _Expansion of England_ in 1883 till the Peace of
Vereeniging in 1902 they strove to believe in the existence of a
'Blood,' an 'Island Race,' consisting of homogeneous English-speaking
individuals, among whom were to be reckoned not only the whole
population of the United Kingdom, but all the reasonably white
inhabitants of our colonies and dependencies; while they thought of the
other inhabitants of the Empire as 'the white man's burden'--the
necessary material for the exercise of the white man's virtues. The
idealists among them, when they were forced to realise that such a
homogeneity of the whites did not yet exist, persuaded themselves that
it would come peacefully and inevitably as a result of the reading of
imperial poems and the summoning of an imperial council. The Bismarckian
realists among them believed that it would be brought about, in South
Africa and elsewhere, by 'blood and iron.' Lord Milner, who is perhaps
the most loyal adherent of the Bismarckian tradition to be found out of
Germany, contended even at Vereeniging against peace with the Boers on
any terms except such an unconditional surrender as would involve the
ultimate Anglicisation of the South African colonies. He still dreams of
a British Empire whose egoism shall be as complete as that of Bismarck's
Prussia, and warns us in 1907, in the style of 1887, against those
'ideas of our youth' which were 'at once too insular and too

[112] _Times_, Dec. 19, 1907.

But in the minds of most of our present imperialists, imperial egoism is
now deprived of its only possible psychological basis. It is to be based
not upon national homogeneity but upon the consciousness of national
variation. The French in Canada are to remain intensely French, and the
Dutch in South Africa intensely Dutch; though both are to be divided
from the world outside the British Empire by an unbridgeable moral
chasm. To imperialism so conceived facts lend no support. The loyal
acceptance of British Imperial citizenship by Sir Wilfred Laurier or
General Botha constitutes something more subtle, something, to adapt
Lord Milner's phrase, less insular but more cosmopolitan than imperial
egoism. It does not, for instance, involve an absolute indifference to
the question whether France or Holland shall be swallowed up by the sea.

At the same time the non-white races within the Empire show no signs of
enthusiastic contentment at the prospect of existing, like the English
'poor' during the eighteenth century, as the mere material of other
men's virtues. They too have their own vague ideas of nationality; and
if those ideas do not ultimately break up our Empire, it will be because
they are enlarged and held in check, not by the sentiment of imperial
egoism, but by those wider religious and ethical conceptions which pay
little heed to imperial or national frontiers. It may, however, be
objected by our imperial 'Real-politiker' that cosmopolitan feeling is
at this moment both visionary and dangerous, not because, as Mazzini
thought, it is psychologically impossible, but because of the plain
facts of our military position. Our Empire, they say, will have to fight
for its existence against a German or a Russian Empire or both together
during the next generation, and our only chance of success is to create
that kind of imperial sentiment which has fighting value. If the white
inhabitants of the Empire are encouraged to think of themselves as a
'dominant race,' that is to say as both a homogeneous nation and a
natural aristocracy, they will soon be hammered by actual fighting into
a Bismarckian temper of imperial 'egoism.' Among the non-white
inhabitants of the Empire (since either side in the next inter-imperial
war will, after its first serious defeat, abandon the convention of only
employing European troops against Europeans) we must discover and drill
those races who like the Gurkhas and the Soudanese, may be expected to
fight for us and to hate our enemies without asking for political
rights. In any case we, like Bismarck, must extirpate, as the most fatal
solvent of empire, that humanitarianism which concerns itself with the
interests of our future opponents as well as those of our

This sort of argument might of course be met by a _reductio ad
absurdum_. If the policy of imperial egoism is a successful one it will
be adopted by all empires alike, and whether we desire it or not, the
victor in each inter-imperial war will take over the territory of the
loser. After centuries of warfare and the steady retrogression, in the
waste of blood and treasure and loyalty, of modern civilisation, two
empires, England and Germany, or America and China, may remain. Both
will possess an armament which represents the whole 'surplus value,'
beyond mere subsistence, created by its inhabitants. Both will contain
white and yellow and brown and black men hating each other across a
wavering line on the map of the world. But the struggle will go on, and,
as the result of a naval Armageddon in the Pacific, only one Empire will
exist. 'Imperial egoism,' having worked itself out to its logical
conclusion, will have no further meaning, and the inhabitants of the
globe, diminished to half their number, will be compelled to consider
the problems of race and of the organised exploitation of the globe from
the point of view of mere humanitarianism.

Is the suggestion completely wanting in practicability that we might
begin that consideration before the struggle goes any further? Fifteen
hundred years ago, in south-eastern Europe, men who held the Homoousian
opinion of the Trinity were gathered in arms against the Homoiousians.
The generals and other 'Real-politiker' on both sides may have feared,
like Lord Milner, lest their followers should become 'too cosmopolitan,'
too ready to extend their sympathies across the frontiers of theology.
'This' a Homoousian may have said 'is a practical matter. Unless our
side learn by training themselves in theological egoism to hate the
other side, we shall be beaten in the next battle.' And yet we can now
see that the practical interests of Europe were very little concerned
with the question whether 'we' or 'they' won, but very seriously
concerned with the question whether the division itself into 'we' or
'they' could not be obliterated by the discovery either of a less clumsy
metaphysic or of a way of thinking about humanity which made the
continued existence of those who disagreed with one in theology no
longer intolerable. May the Germans and ourselves be now marching
towards the horrors of a world-war merely because 'nation' and 'empire'
like 'Homoousia' and 'Homoiousia' are the best that we can do in making
entities of the mind to stand between us and an unintelligible universe,
and because having made such entities our sympathies are shut up within

I have already urged, when considering the conditions of political
reasoning, that many of the logical difficulties arising from our
tendency to divide the infinite stream of our thoughts and sensations
into homogeneous classes and species are now unnecessary and have been
avoided in our time by the students of the natural sciences. Just as the
modern artist substitutes without mental confusion his ever-varying
curves and surfaces for the straight and simple lines of the savage, so
the scientific imagination has learnt to deal with the varying facts of
nature without thinking of them as separate groups, each composed of
identical individuals and represented to us by a single type.

Can we learn so to think of the varying individuals of the whole human
race? Can we do, that is to say, what Mazzini declared to be impossible?
And if we can, shall we be able to love the fifteen hundred million
different human beings of whom we are thus enabled to think?

To the first question the publication of the _Origin of Species_ in 1859
offered an answer. Since then we have in fact been able to represent the
human race to our imagination, neither as a chaos of arbitrarily varying
individuals, nor as a mosaic of homogeneous nations, but as a biological
group, every individual in which differs from every other not
arbitrarily but according to an intelligible process of organic
evolution.[113] And, since that which exists for the imagination can
exist also for the emotions, it might have been hoped that the second
question would also have been answered by evolution, and that the
warring egoisms of nations and empires might henceforth have been
dissolved by love for that infinitely varying multitude whom we can
watch as they work their way through so much pain and confusion towards
a more harmonious relation to the universe.

[113] Sir Sydney Olivier, e.g. in his courageous and penetrating book
_White Capital and Coloured Labour_ considers (in chap. ii.) the racial
distinctions between black and white from the point of view of
evolution. This consideration brings him at once to 'the infinite,
inexhaustible distinctness of personality between individuals, so much a
fundamental fact of life that one almost would say that the amalgamating
race-characteristics are merely incrustations concealing this sparkling
variety' (pp. 12, 13).

But it was the intellectual tragedy of the nineteenth century that the
discovery of organic evolution, instead of stimulating such a general
love of humanity, seemed at first to show that it was for ever
impossible. Progress, it appeared, had been always due to a ruthless
struggle for life, which must still continue unless progress was to
cease. Pity and love would turn the edge of the struggle, and therefore
would lead inevitably to the degeneration of the species.

This grim conception of an internecine conflict, inevitable and
unending, in which all races must play their part, hung for a generation
after 1859 over the study of world-politics as the fear of a cooling sun
hung over physics, and the fear of a population to be checked only by
famine and war hung over the first century of political economy. Before
Darwin wrote, it had been possible for philanthropists to think of the
non-white races as 'men and brothers' who, after a short process of
education, would become in all respects except colour identical with
themselves. Darwin made it clear that the difficulty could not be so
glossed over. Racial variations were shown to be unaffected by
education, to have existed for millions of years, and to be tending
perhaps towards divergence rather than assimilation.

The practical problem also of race relationship has by a coincidence
presented itself since Darwin wrote in a sterner form. During the first
half of the nineteenth century the European colonists who were in daily
contact with non-European races, although their impulses and their
knowledge alike revolted from the optimistic ethnology of Exeter Hall,
yet could escape all thought about their own position by assuming that
the problem would settle itself. To the natives of Australia or Canada
or the Hottentots of South Africa trade automatically brought disease,
and disease cleared the land for a stronger population. But the weakest
races and individuals have now died out, the surviving population are
showing unexpected powers of resisting the white man's epidemics, and we
are adding every year to our knowledge of, and therefore our
responsibility for, the causation of infection. We are nearing the time
when the extermination of races, if it is done at all, must be done

But if the extermination is to be both inevitable and deliberate how can
there exist a community either of affection or purpose between the
killers and the killed? No one at this moment professes, as far as I
know, to have an easy and perfect answer to this question. The point of
ethics lies within the region claimed by religion. But Christianity,
which at present is the religion chiefly concerned, has conspicuously
failed even to produce a tolerable working compromise. The official
Christian theory is, apparently, that all human souls are of equal
value, and that it ought to be a matter of indifference to us whether a
given territory is inhabited a thousand years hence by a million
converted Central African pigmies or a million equally converted
Europeans or Hindus. On the practical point, however, whether the
stronger race should base its plans of extension on the extermination of
the weaker race, or on an attempt, within the limits of racial
possibility, to improve it, Christians have, during the nineteenth
century, been infinitely more ruthless than Mohammedans, though their
ruthlessness has often been disguised by more or less conscious

But the most immediately dangerous result of political 'Darwinism' was
not its effect in justifying the extermination of African aborigines by
European colonists, but the fact that the conception of the 'struggle
for life' could be used as a proof that that conflict among the European
nations for the control of the trade-routes of the world which has been
threatening for the last quarter of a century is for each of the nations
concerned both a scientific necessity and a moral duty. Lord Ampthill,
for instance, the athletic ex-governor of Madras, said the other day:
'From an individual struggle, a struggle of families, of communities,
and nations, the struggle for existence has now advanced to a struggle
of empires.'[114]

[114] _Times_, Jan. 22, 1908.

The exhilaration with which Lord Ampthill proclaims that one-half of the
species must needs slaughter the other half in the cause of human
progress is particularly terrifying when one reflects that he may have
to conduct negotiations as a member of the next Conservative Government
with a German statesman like Prince Buellow, who seems to combine the
teaching of Bismarck with what he understands to have been the teaching
of Darwin when he defends the Polish policy of his master by a
declaration that the rules of private morality do not apply to national

Any such identification of the biological advantage arising from the
'struggle for life' among individuals with that which is to be expected
from a 'struggle of empires' is, of course, thoroughly unscientific. The
'struggle of empires' must either be fought out between European troops
alone, or between Europeans in combination with their non-European
allies and subjects. If it takes the first form, and if we assume, as
Lord Ampthill probably does, that the North European racial type is
'higher' than any other, then the slaughter of half a million selected
Englishmen and half a million selected Germans will clearly be an act
of biological retrogression. Even if the non-European races are brought
in and a corresponding number of selected Turks and Arabs and Tartars,
or of Gurkhas and Pathans and Soudanese are slaughtered, the biological
loss to the world, as measured by the percentage of surviving 'higher'
or 'lower' individuals will only be slightly diminished.

Nor is that form of the argument much better founded which contends that
the evolutionary advantage to be expected from the 'struggle of empires'
is the 'survival' not of races but of political and cultural types. Our
victory over the German Empire, for instance, would mean, it is said, a
victory for the idea of political liberty. This argument, which, when
urged by the rulers of India, sounds somewhat temerarious, requires the
assumption that types of culture are in the modern world most
successfully spread by military occupation. But in the ancient world
Greek culture spread most rapidly after the fall of the Greek Empire;
Japan in our own time adopted Western culture more readily as an
independent nation than she would have done as a dependency of Russia or
France; and India is perhaps more likely to-day to learn from Japan than
from England.

Lord Ampthill's phrase, however, represents not so much an argument, as
a habit of feeling shared by many who have forgotten or never known the
biological doctrine which it echoes. The first followers of Darwin
believed that the human species had been raised above its prehuman
ancestors because, and in so far as, it had surrendered itself to a
blind instinct of conflict. It seemed, therefore, as if the old moral
precept that men should control their more violent impulses by
reflection had been founded upon a mistake. Unreflecting instinct was,
after all, the best guide, and nations who acted instinctively towards
their neighbours might justify themselves like the Parisian ruffians of
ten years ago, by claiming to be 'strugforlifeurs.'

If this habit of mind is to be destroyed it must be opposed not merely
by a new argument but by a conception of man's relation to the universe
which creates emotional force as well as intellectual conviction.

And the change that has already shown itself in our conception of the
struggle for life among individuals indicates that, by some divine
chance, a corresponding change may come in our conception of the
struggle between peoples. The evolutionists of our own time tell us that
the improvement of the biological inheritance of any community is to be
hoped for, not from the encouragement of individual conflict, but from
the stimulation of the higher social impulses under the guidance of the
science of eugenics; and the emotional effect of this new conception is
already seen in the almost complete disappearance from industrial
politics of that unwillingly brutal 'individualism' which afflicted
kindly Englishmen in the eighteen sixties.

An international science of eugenics might in the same way indicate
that the various races should aim, not at exterminating each other, but
at encouraging the improvement by each of its own racial type. Such an
idea would not appeal to those for whom the whole species arranges
itself in definite and obvious grades of 'higher' and 'lower,' from the
northern Europeans downwards, and who are as certain of the ultimate
necessity of a 'white world' as the Sydney politicians are of the
necessity of a 'white Australia.' But in this respect during the last
few years the inhabitants of Europe have shown signs of a new humility,
due partly to widespread intellectual causes and partly to the hard
facts of the Russo-Japanese war and the arming of China. The 'spheres of
influence' into which we divided the Far East eight years ago, seem to
us now a rather stupid joke, and those who read history are already
bitterly ashamed that we destroyed by the sack of the Summer Palace in
1859, the products of a thousand years of such art as we can never hope
to emulate. We are coming honestly to believe that the world is richer
for the existence both of other civilisations and of other racial types
than our own. We have been compelled by the study of the Christian
documents to think of our religion as one only among the religions of
the world, and to acknowledge that it has owed much and may owe much
again to the longer philosophic tradition and the subtler and more
patient brains of Hindustan and Persia. Even if we look at the future of
the species as a matter of pure biology, we are warned by men of science
that it is not safe to depend only on one family or one variety for the
whole breeding-stock of the world. For the moment we shrink from the
interbreeding of races, but we do so in spite of some conspicuous
examples of successful interbreeding in the past, and largely because of
our complete ignorance of the conditions on which success depends.

Already, therefore, it is possible without intellectual dishonesty to
look forward to a future for the race which need not be reached through
a welter of blood and hatred. We can imagine the nations settling the
racial allocation of the temperate or tropical breeding-grounds, or even
deliberately placing the males and females of the few hopelessly
backward tribes on different islands, without the necessity that the
most violent passions of mankind should be stimulated in preparation for
a general war. No one now expects an immediate, or prophesies with
certainty an ultimate, Federation of the Globe; but the consciousness of
a common purpose in mankind, or even the acknowledgment that such a
common purpose is possible, would alter the face of world-politics at
once. The discussion at the Hague of a halt in the race of armaments
would no longer seem Utopian, and the strenuous profession by the
colonising powers that they have no selfish ends in view might be
transformed from a sordid and useless hypocrisy into a fact to which
each nation might adjust its policy. The irrational race-hatred which
breaks out from time to time on the fringes of empire, would have little
effect in world politics when opposed by a consistent conception of the
future of human progress.

Meanwhile, it is true, the military preparations for a death-struggle of
empires still go on, and the problem even of peaceful immigration
becomes yearly more threatening, now that shipping companies can land
tens of thousands of Chinese or Indian labourers for a pound or two a
head at any port in the world. But when we think of such things we need
no longer feel ourselves in the grip of a Fate that laughs at human
purpose and human kindliness. An idea of the whole existence of our
species is at last a possible background to our individual experience.
Its emotional effect may prove to be not less than that of the visible
temples and walls of the Greek cities, although it is formed not from
the testimony of our eyesight, but from the knowledge which we acquire
in our childhood and confirm by the half-conscious corroboration of our
daily life.

We all of us, plain folk and learned alike, now make a picture for
ourselves of the globe with its hemispheres of light and shadow, from
every point of which the telegraph brings us hourly news, and which may
already be more real to us than the fields and houses past which we
hurry in the train. We can all see it, hanging and turning in the
monstrous emptiness of the skies, and obedient to forces whose action we
can watch hundreds of light-years away and feel in the beating of our
hearts. The sharp new evidence of the camera brings every year nearer to
us its surface of ice and rock and plain, and the wondering eyes of
alien peoples.

It may be that we shall long continue to differ as to the full
significance of this vision. But now that we can look at it without
helpless pain it may stir the deepest impulses of our being. To some of
us it may bring confidence in that Love that Dante saw, 'which moves the
Sun and the other Stars.' To each of us it may suggest a kinder pity for
all the bewildered beings who hand on from generation to generation the
torch of conscious life.


Abyssinia, Italian invasion of,
Acland, Mr.,
Adams, John Quincy,
America, appointment of non-elected officials in,
Civil Service,
science and politics in,
tendency to electoral concentration in,
Ampthill, Lord,
Aristotle, comparison of State to a ship,
criticism of Plato's communism,
definition of 'polity',
maximum size of a State,
on action as the end of politics,
on political affection,
Athens, glassmakers of,
Sophocles' love of,
Austin, John,

Bacon, Francis,
Atlantis of,
Bagehot, Walter,
Balfour, Mr. A.J.,
Mr. Jabez,
Balliol College,
Barrie, Mr. J.M.,
Bentham, Jeremy,
Macaulay's attack on,
on criminology,
on 'natural right,'
_Principles of Morals and Legislation_,
Benthamism, as a science of politics,
Berlin, Congress of, 1885,
and artificial homogeneity of national type,
on political egoism,
Bolingbroke, Lord,
Botha, General,
Breeding, selective,
Brighton Parade,
British Empire, difficulty of conceiving as a political entity,
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Bronte, Charlotte,
Bryan, Mr. W.J.,
Bryce, Mr. James,
Buckle, H.T.,
Buelow, Prince, on dominance of Prussia,
on private and national morality,
on universal suffrage,
Burke, Edmund,
on man's power of political reasoning,
on 'party,'
Burney, Fanny,
Burns, Robert,
Butler, Bishop,

Canning, George,
Carlyle, Thomas,
essay on Burns of,
Cavendish, Lord Frederick,
Cecil, Lord Robert,
Chadwick, Sir E.,
Chamberlain, Mr. Joseph,
Charity Schools,
Chesterton, Mr. G.K.,
Chinese Labour, agitation against,
Christianity and race question,
Harnack on expansion of,
Churchill, Lord Randolph,
Civil Service, creation of English,
of India,
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Sir C. Trevelyan's Report on,
Competition, system of, in municipal appointments,
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variety in methods of,
Comte, Auguste,
Corrupt Practices Act,
Corrupt Practices Act, practical failure of,
Corruption, prevented by competitive Civil Service,
Courtney, Lord,
Crimean War,

Darwin, Charles,
correspondence with Lyell,
effect of his work,
on persistence of racial variation,
_Origin of Species_ of,
Derby, Lord, Reform Act of,
De Wet,
Disraeli, Benjamin,
Dolling, Father,

Education Act, 1870,
Esher Committee,

Fitzpatrick, Sir Percy,
Fox, Charles James,

Gardiner, Professor S.R.,
Garfield, President,
George III. and American Revolution,
and Fox's India Bill,
popularity of,
German Emperor,
Gladstone, W. E., and English Civil Service,
and Queen Victoria,
on change of
on Ireland,
parliamentary oratory of,
Government Departments, organisation of,
Graham's Law,
Grote, George,

Hadley, A.T.,
Hague, The,
Hall, Professor Stanley,
Harnack, T.,
Herbart, J.F.,
Hicks-Beach, Miss,
Hobbes, Thomas,
Hume, Joseph,
Huxley, T.H.,
Lay Sermons of,
Hyndman, Mr.,

and representative democracy,
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appointment of East India Company officials,
Civil Service,
English dislike of natives in,
Individualism, curve of,
Ireland, Home Rule for,

Jackson, Andrew,
James, Professor William,
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_Principles of Psychology_ of,
Jameson, Dr.,
Japanese, mental environment of,
State Papers,
Jevons, Professor,
Jury. _See_ Trial by Jury.
Justice, conception of, as political term,

Kossuth, Louis,

Labour Party and intellectual conditions of representative government,
Lansdowne, Lord,
Laurier, Sir Wilfrid,
LeBon, G.,
Lingen, Lord,
Local Government Acts of 1888 and 1894,
Locke, John, and basis of government,
and pedagogy,
on relation of man to God's law,
Lombroso, C.,
London, Borough Council elections,
creation of love for,
lack of citizenship in,
proportion of active registered voters in,
provision of schools in,
School Board elections in,
County Council Debating Hall,
election posters,
Lyell, Sir Charles,

Lyndhurst, Lord,

MacCulloch, J.R.,
Macewen, Sir William,
Macaulay, Lord,
and East India Company,
Essay in _Edinburgh Review_ on Benthamism,
Marshall, Professor,
Marx, Karl,
Mazzini, Joseph, attack on cosmopolitanism,
on geographical division of humanity,
Mendel, Abbot,
Merivale, Mr. Herman,
Mill, James,
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Milner, Lord,
Molesworth, Sir W.,
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Morgan, Professor Lloyd,
Morley, Lord,
on W.K. Gladstone,
Morris, William,
Municipal Representation Bill,

Napoleon I. and psychology of war,
Negro Suffrage in United States,
Nevinson, Mr. H.W.,
Newman, J.H.,
on sonification,
Nicholas H.,
North, Lord,
Northcote, Sir Stafford,

Olivier, Sir Sydney,
Ostrogorski, Professor,
Owen, Robert,

Paine, Thomas,
Pal, Mr. Chandra,
Palmerston, Lord,
Pankhurst, Mrs.,
Parnell, C.S.,
Parramatta Tea,
Party as a political entity,
Pearson, Professor Karl,
Peel, Sir Robert,
Place, Francis,
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on basis of government,
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on idea of perfect man,
on the public,
religion in the Republic of,
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Playfair Commission,
Poor Law Commission of 1834,
of 1905
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Race Problem and representative democracy,
in international politics,
in India,
Reform Act of 1867
Religion of Comte,
in Plato's Republic,
Representative democracy and India,
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in Egypt,
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Roosevelt, Theodore,
Rousseau, J.J., and pedagogy,
on human rights,
Rural Parish Councils,
Ruskin, John,

Samuel, Mr. Herbert,
Schnadhorst, Mr.,
Science, as an entity,
Seeley, J.R., _Expansion of England_ of,
Senior, Nassau,
_Political Economy_ of,
Socialism, conception of as a working creed,
curve of,
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Spencer, Mr. Herbert,
Stein, H.F.,
Stephen, Sir James,
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universal, Prince Buelow's attack on,
Swift, Dean,
Swinburne, A.C.,

Tammany Hall,
Tarde, G.,
Tennyson, Lord,
Togo, Admiral,
Trevelyan, Sir Charles,
Trial by Jury, development of
Tyrrell, Father,

United Kingdom, proportion of elected to electors in,
United States and Negro Suffrage,
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Vaux, Madame De,
Vereeniging, Peace of,
Victoria, Queen,
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portrait of,
on coins,
Virgin of Kevlaar,

War Office Council,
Wells, Mr. H.G., on delocalised population,
on representative democracy,
on 'sense of the State,'
on uniqueness of the individual
Whately, Archbishop
Women's Suffrage at 1906 election
methods of suffragists,
Wood, Mr. M'Kinnon,
Wordsworth, _Prelude_ of,

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