The War and Democracy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about The War and Democracy.

[Footnote 1:  The War and the Church, by Charles Gore (Oxford, Mowbray, 1914).]

The civilised world has been shocked during the past months at the spectacle of the open adoption by a great Power of this philosophy of selfishness.  Men had not realised that the methods and principles underlying so much of our commercial and industrial life could be transferred so completely to the field of politics or so ruthlessly pressed home by military force.  But it is well for us to remember that it is not Prussia, even in the modern world, who invented the theory of Blood and Iron or the philosophy of Force.  The Iron Law of Wages is a generation older than Bismarck:  and “Business is Business” can be no less odious a watchword than “War is War.”  Treitschke and Nietzsche may have furnished Prussian ambitions with congenial ammunition; but Bentham with his purely selfish interpretation of human nature and Marx with his doctrine of the class-struggle—­the high priest of Individualism and the high priest of Socialism—­cannot be acquitted of a similar charge.  If the appeal has been made in a less crude and brutal form, and if the instrument of domination has been commercial and industrial rather than military, it is because Militarism is not the besetting sin of the English-speaking peoples.  Let us beware, therefore, at this moment, of anything savouring of self-righteousness.

“Some of us,” says Bishop Gore, “see the chief security” against this disease which has infected our civilisation “in the progress of Democracy—­the government of the people really by the people and for the people.  I am one of those who believe this and desire to serve towards the realising of this end.  But the answer does not satisfy me.  I do not know what evils we might find arising from a world of materialistic democracies.  But I am sure we shall not banish the evil spirits which destroy human lives and nations and civilisations by any mere change in the methods of government.  Nothing can save civilisation except a new spirit in the nations.”

The task before Europe, then, is a double one—­a task of development and construction in the region of politics, and of purification and conversion in the region of the spirit.  “For the finer spirits of Europe,” says the great French writer, Romain Rolland, who is none the less a patriot because he is also a lover of Germany, “there are two dwelling-places:  our earthly fatherland, and that other, the City of God.  Of the one we are the guests, of the other the builders.  To the one let us give our lives and our faithful hearts; but neither family, friend, nor fatherland, nor aught that we love has power over the spirit which is the light.  It is our duty to rise above tempests and thrust aside the clouds which threaten to obscure it; to build higher and stronger, dominating the injustice and hatred of nations, the walls of that city wherein the souls, of the whole world may assemble."[1]

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The War and Democracy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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