Human Nature in Politics eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 217 pages of information about Human Nature in Politics.

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.

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Human Nature in Politics from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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