It may be therefore that the effective influence in politics of new ideals of intellectual conduct will have to wait for a still wider change of mental attitude, touching our life on many sides. Some day the conception of a harmony of thought and passion may take the place, in the deepest regions of our moral consciousness, of our present dreary confusion and barren conflicts. If that day comes much in politics which is now impossible will become possible. The politician will be able not only to control and direct in himself the impulses of whose nature he is more fully aware, but to assume in his hearers an understanding of his aim. Ministers and Members of Parliament may then find their most effective form of expression in that grave simplicity of speech which in the best Japanese State papers rings so strangely to our ears, and citizens may learn to look to their representatives, as the Japanese army looked to their generals, for that unbought effort of the mind by which alone man becomes at once the servant and the master of nature.
But our growing knowledge of the causation of political impulse, and of the conditions of valid political reasoning, may be expected to change not only our ideals of political conduct but also the structure of our political institutions.
I have already pointed out that the democratic movement which produced the constitutions under which most civilised nations now live, was inspired by a purely intellectual conception of human nature which is becoming every year more unreal to us. If, it may then be asked, representative democracy was introduced under a mistaken view of the conditions of its working, will not its introduction prove to have been itself a mistake?
Any defender of representative democracy who rejects the traditional democratic philosophy can only answer this question by starting again from the beginning, and considering what are the ends representation is intended to secure, and how far those ends are necessary to good government.
The first end may be roughly indicated by the word consent. The essence of a representative government is that it depends on the periodically renewed consent of a considerable proportion of the inhabitants; and the degree of consent required may shade from the mere acceptance of accomplished facts, to the announcement of positive decisions taken by a majority of the citizens, which the government must interpret and obey.