The Navy as a Fighting Machine eBook

Bradley Fiske
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 353 pages of information about The Navy as a Fighting Machine.

These considerations seem to show that we cannot reasonably expect civilization to divert nations from the path they have followed hitherto.

Can commerce impart the external force necessary to divert nations from that path?

Since commerce bears exactly the same relation to nations now as in times past, and since it is an agency within mankind itself, it is difficult to see how it can act as an external force, or cause an external force to be applied.  Of course, commercial interests are often opposed to national interests, and improvements in speed and sureness of communication and transportation increase the size and power of commercial organizations.  But the same factors increase the power of governments and the solidarity of nations.  At no time in the past has there been more national feeling in nations than now.  Even the loosely held provinces of China are forming a Chinese nation.  Despite the fundamental commercialism of the age, national spirit is growing more intense, the present war being the main intensifying cause.  It is true that the interests of commerce are in many ways antagonistic to those of war.  But, on the other hand, of all the causes that occasion war the economic causes are the greatest.  For no thing will men fight more savagely than for money; for no thing have men fought more savagely than for money; and the greater the rivalry, the more the man’s life becomes devoted to it, and the more fiercely he will fight to get or keep it.  Surely of all the means by which we hope to avoid war, the most hopeless by far is commerce.

The greatest of all hopes is in Christianity, because of its inculcation of love and kindliness, its obvious influence on the individual in cultivating unselfishness and other peaceful virtues, and the fact that it is an inspiration from on high, and therefore a force external to mankind.  But let us look the facts solemnly in the face that the Christian religion has now been in effect for nearly two thousand years; that the nations now warring are Christian nations, in the very foremost rank of Christendom; that never in history has there been so much bloodshed in such wide-spread areas and so much hate, and that we see no signs that Christianity is employing any influence that she has not been employing for nearly two thousand years.

If we look for the influence of Christianity, we can find it in the daily lives of people, in the family, in business, in politics, and in military bodies; everywhere, in fact, in Christian countries, so long as we keep inside of any organization the members of which feel bound together.  This we must all admit, even the heathen know it; but where do we see any evidence of the sweetening effect of Christianity in the dealings of one organization with another with which it has no special bonds of friendship?  Christianity is invoked in every warring nation now to stimulate the patriotic spirit of the nation and intensify the

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The Navy as a Fighting Machine from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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