I have gone into this at some length to show mainly two things—first, that neither morally nor materially, neither in our trade nor in our finance, nor in our industry, nor in all those intangible things that give value to life can there be such a thing as isolation from the rest of Christendom. If European civilization takes a “wrong turning”—and it has done that more than once in the past—we can by no means escape the effects of that catastrophe. We are deeply concerned, if only because we may have to defend ourselves against it and in so doing necessarily transform in some degree our society and ourselves.
And I wanted to show, secondly, that not only as a simple matter of fact as things stand are we in a very real sense dependent upon Europe, that we want European capital and European trade, and that if we are to do the best for American prosperity we must increase that dependence, but that if we are effectively to protect those things that go deeper even than trade and prosperity, we must co-operate with Europe intellectually and morally. It is not for us a question of choice. For good or evil, we are part of the world affected by what the rest of the world becomes and affected by what it does. And I want to show in my next article that only by frankly facing the fact (which we cannot deny) that we are a part of the civilized world and must play our part in it, shall we achieve real security for our material and moral possessions and do the best that we know for the general betterment of American life.
AMERICA’S FUTURE ATTITUDE
In my last article I attempted to show how deeply must America feel, sooner or later, and for good or evil, the moral and material results of the upheavals in Europe and the new tendencies that will be generated by them. I attempted to show, too, how impossible it is for us to escape our part of all the costs, how we shall pay our share of the indemnities, and how our children and children’s children may be affected even more profoundly than we ourselves.
The shells may not hit us, yet there is hardly a farmhouse in our country that will not, however unconsciously, be affected by these far-off events. We may not witness the trains of weary refugees trailing over the roads, but (if we could but see the picture) there will be an endless procession of our own farmers’ wives with a hardened and shortened life and their children with less ample opportunities.
And our ideals of the future will in some measure be twisted by the moral and material bankruptcy of Europe. Those who consider at all carefully the facts hinted at in my last article—too complex to be more than hinted at in the space available—will realize that the “isolation” of America is an illusion of the map, and is becoming more so every day; that she is an integral part of Occidental civilization whether she wishes it or not, and that if civilization in Europe takes the wrong turn we Americans would suffer less directly but not less vitally than France or Britain or Germany.