The Unity of Civilization eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 343 pages of information about The Unity of Civilization.

The nineteenth century has made three great contributions towards the possibility of International Government, the political realization of nationality, the growth in substance and method of international law, and the progress of federalism.  In other fields outside politics, especially in commerce and finance, a network of international co-operation has grown up.  Closer political union is needed for three purposes:  first, the consolidation, extension, and improved sanctions of existing international law; secondly, the settlement of differences between nations; thirdly, positive co-operation for the common good.  This progress involves some further diminution of ‘sovereignty’ and ‘independence’.  But these concepts have no absolute validity.  In the Hague Conventions and other intergovernmental instruments the rudiments of international government already exist.  In order to establish effective security for peace, what is needed is a general treaty providing that all disputes be submitted to arbitration or conciliation, with such guarantees for acceptance of the award as will establish confidence.  The test of confidence is the voluntary reduction of armaments.  Internationalists differ as to the nature and rigour of the sanctions.  Some rely entirely on a ‘moratorium’ and the pressure of public opinion:  others would compel the submission of all issues, but not the acceptance of awards:  others, again, would apply force, diplomatic, economic, or military, to both processes.

Internationalism, to be effective, would require a machinery for dealing with new issues before they ripened into disputes.  How far will the state of mind following this war assist this progress of internationalism?  Is a spiritual conversion, corresponding to the process of biological mutatism, possible or probable?


The history of Europe suggests that, though the Church exerted a considerable influence on the growth of a common type of civilization in the West, in modern times religion has proved a divisive rather than a unifying factor.  During the last generation or two, however, there has been a decline of the dogmatic and sectarian tempers.  This change is largely due to the growth of the scientific spirit, and, as in other realms of inquiry so in the study of religion, international co-operation has steadily developed.  Both literary criticism and psychological analysis have contributed to the widening of sympathy.  The better understanding of certain elements in the Christian ideal and the Christian hope must also be taken into consideration as a factor making for a new catholicism which finds expression in movements like the Adult School Movement and the Student Christian Movement, and in the ever-growing demand for closer co-operation in missionary work.

Beyond this, partly through the comparative study of religions, we are conscious that religious thought in the West possesses some common characteristics, notably, faith in the solidarity of mankind and in the reality of progress.  Of themselves, these two convictions do not constitute any very close bond of union, and both beliefs need to be defined and enforced by the sense of sin and the consciousness of God which the West has learned from Jesus.

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The Unity of Civilization from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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