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Human Nature in Politics eBook

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

During the last quarter of a century this conception of the world as composed of a mosaic of homogeneous nations has been made more difficult (a) by the continued existence and even growth of separate national feelings within modern states, and (b) by the fact that the European and non-European races have entered into closer political relationships.  The attempt, therefore, to transfer the traditions of national homogeneity and solidarity either to the inhabitants of a modern world-empire as a whole, or to the members of the dominant race in it, disguises the real facts and adds to the danger of war.

Can we, however, acquire a political emotion based, not upon a belief in the likeness of individual human beings, but upon the recognition of their unlikeness?  Darwin’s proof of the relation between individual and racial variation might have produced such an emotion if it had not been accompanied by the conception of the ‘struggle for life’ as a moral duty.  As it is, inter-racial and even inter-imperial wars can be represented as necessary stages in the progress of the species.  But present-day biologists tell us that the improvement of any one race will come most effectively from the conscious co-operation, and not from the blind conflict of individuals; and it may be found that the improvement of the whole species will also come rather from a conscious world-purpose based upon a recognition of the value of racial as well as individual variety, than from mere fighting.

HUMAN NATURE IN POLITICS

INTRODUCTION

The study of politics is just now (1908) in a curiously unsatisfactory position.

At first sight the main controversy as to the best form of government appears to have been finally settled in favour of representative democracy.  Forty years ago it could still be argued that to base the sovereignty of a great modern nation upon a widely extended popular vote was, in Europe at least, an experiment which had never been successfully tried.  England, indeed, by the ‘leap in the dark’ of 1867, became for the moment the only large European State whose government was democratic and representative.  But to-day a parliamentary republic based upon universal suffrage exists in France without serious opposition or protest.  Italy enjoys an apparently stable constitutional monarchy.  Universal suffrage has just been enacted in Austria.  Even the German Emperor after the election of 1907 spoke of himself rather as the successful leader of a popular electoral campaign than as the inheritor of a divine right.  The vast majority of the Russian nation passionately desires a sovereign parliament, and a reactionary Duma finds itself steadily pushed by circumstances towards that position.  The most ultramontane Roman Catholics demand temporal power for the Pope, no longer as an ideal system of world government, but as an expedient

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