The Egoist: No. 17, Vol. 1, September 1st, 1914.
by Dora Marsden
CULTURE has been for so long a "figure of fun" among the concepts that its recent hard-worked service in the interest of the solemnities is disconcerting. Clearly, culture may mean various things according to necessity, and we propose to suspend it in brackets and call it "Culture" until what it stands for is clearer. Its recent citation in opposition to militarism-which presumably is jingoism with a dash of stiffening-seems to point to an identification between "culture" and civilisation in the minds of our modern "fine" writers. It could easily be explained how such identification might arise. All modern English writers take it as granted that the development of civilisation, of the process which seeks to fix the nexus of society by means of words to the exclusion of any tests of violence and force, is a sign of steadily augmented vitality among men. From this point of view "culture" is the conscious recognition and abetance of the process: a means to an end whose excellence it proclaims and affirms at each step of the way.
"Culture," so viewed, becomes at least arguable, and this explains why "culture" has suddenly been provided with a platform by the "civilisation school" in a moment of panic. Perhaps it is its very uncertainty and unworldliness which have stood it in good stead. Civilisation which prides itself on its fine tone is just beginning to look a trifle fat and gross in its need for ?a little toning. Civilisation which exercises strong egoistic pulls of the more pedestrian order finds itself being abandoned in favour of different egoist pulls which are not simply less gross, less commercial, less bent on five per cents., but are actually stronger. If, therefore, civilisation has special graces it is willing to sport them now. Hence: Culture, hardworked and solemn for the nonce. But "Culture," apart from momentary associations and special pleadings, has a meaning of its own. Culture stands for something among plants; and it stands for something on the stock-farm. First it stands for a high Interferer who lifts the struggles of competition as between species and species out of the sphere of their own decision as cultured and uncultured; from being a contest waged according to their own merits it becomes a selection fixed according to the pleasure of the high Culturist. They compete not as they could, but as he wills, and fall into places as Weeds or Choice Blooms according to his requirements. The Elect of the Gardener grow and increase because He in this omnipotence makes bid for earth-room for them. He makes his Chosen the Favoured People, and lays an embargo on any attempts at encroachment on the part of the rejected Weeds.
Now human "Culture" is the verbalist attempt to carry out a human selection on an exact analogy with the sub-human one. There is one missing factor, however, and this being the potent one, it falls to "Culture's " part to supply it. There is lacking a high Gardener; hence the ushering of the Gods into the game. Since the game is earth-wide we must all play in it; since only the Chosen may prosper, we all elect to choose ourselves and create our Gods to prove the authenticity of our Choice. All our Gods we create on one principle: we create them in our own image, and give them proportions to match our own; then "Culture" sits in judgment and gives to the largest God the palm. Culture's function thereafter is to compose paeans of praise to the great Gods, and build a system of embargos-the codes of behaviour-for the small persons whose Gods are of such trifling proportions as to confer on their creators nothing more than the status of weeds.
Those persons of "culture," who, as we said at the outset, have made " culture" a figure of fun, are the possessors of the imbibing minds which still chant the old paeans of gods who are deposed. For the paeans last long after the gods are gone. Powers pass and gods decay, but words are well-nigh ever lasting. The daring of genius once wrote: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God." How could the origin of "culture" be better put. The "Words" have survived and accumulated, but the Gods have changed times innumerably often. It is because the culturists have had to stretch the old words to suit the new Gods and their systems, that culture has attained to the rank of the Grotesque.
That human culture was plainly an impossibility for lack of a culturist to make the selection, was no reason whatsoever why it should not be put forward as admirable and practicable in words; rather it was a reason why it should. For false analogy is an instinctive dodge with the human intelligence which has established its position of superiority rather by means of cunning than by sheer strength. Tricks with a foe are human intelligence's masterpiece. Hence with the development of words, the culture-analogy, false as it is, had everything in its favour. The earlier human dodge of overcoming sub-human enemies by hurling weapons at them from a distance was an effort to protect themselves from the damage which results from an intimate trial of strength. Later, when men found their enemies among themselves, the more intelligent of them sought to overcome their feebler fellows without the trouble of a trial by strength, and invented "culture," whose essential function it was to furnish a super-gardener, who by his mysteriously intimate communications should persuade these that they are Weeds in the interests of those-His Elect. The Gods always play the gardener, making a bid for earth-room for their chosen by demanding that the non-chosen shall fall back to give them place. The disadvantage at which they are placed by comparison with mundane horticulturists in not being able to pull up the mean weeds by the scruff of the neck they make up for by installing conscience as their ambassador in each one's breast to ensure that his giving way to the chosen should be no whit less effectual. Conscience is looked to to lay on the embargo. And ordinarily it manages it. The Divine- Gardener though an absentee, protects his Chosen Ones exceedingly well, whether they be of the Church or of the State, or of some powerfully predominant Order. "Culture," then, is an instilling of information as to the great Culturist's good pleasure, where he would have the "hands off" order of the embargo principle specifically act; also it inculcates the properly submissive state of mind in which the rejected should carry it into effect.
So it becomes still clearer why the civilisation-school should at a pinch identify its interests with those of "Culture." Civilisation, as its name implies, entails the laying of an embargo upon all those individual ways of taking possession and of making attack or reprisals which go beyond the spoken and written word. The individual's resources under civilisation in these respects are exceedingly limited, and these limits, from time to time are only defended by the administering of liberal doses of culture. Culture says, "Thus far and no farther." Asked why, she replies, "Because you 'ought,'" or, "You 'ought' not"- the only effective opposition to the "we can" and "we can't" of individuals. It is inevitable here in England now, that civilisation and culture should join hands. The English are the Chosen People of the present time; of course, they would prefer not to risk their possessions to a trial of strength, much as they are looking forward (vicariously most of them) to the fun of a fight. Being the ones in power and possession they naturally set much store on the showing of a properly respectful attitude by the rest of the world towards the embargo principle. The feasibility of these recognising their " rightful " position as Weeds, and of being duly fearful of trespassing within the confines of the Elect is obvious. Praise of culture accordingly sits well on us. The gospel of remaining respectfully content with that area of territory whereunto we are all now "entitled": the gospel that all differences about "titles" should be settled in words after the civilised manner we can whole-heartedly endorse: is a proud pleasure indeed even to make war for these very loftiest concepts of the cultural scheme. To acknowledge that "culture" only works well with such inferiors as acknowledge their inferiority: that it breaks impotently against the self willed: that the Gods themselves change sides without a qualm since they must always be on the side of the wilful battalions which scorn every embargo not imposed by the limits of their own strength, would be an error of frankness from which sound English cant keeps us inviolably immune. England is "Mistress of the Sea," the "World Empire," and some other things beside: all the present Weeds that are Weedily-inclined-that is, all with Consciences-among the nations accept her at that, but such as have plucked out the weed-principle of conscience-the first conscious act of a living power feeling its strength on the increase-just bide their time: when ready they will challenge the Elect: so Germany now! So England in her time! Succession in the line of the Elect proceeds by self-election. The normal "principle" of possession is audacity to take hold and to stick fast, of which "principle" England in her prime has given brilliant demonstrations. But having "arrived," it suits her well to keep the veil of "culture" lowered until it is forcibly torn away. Happily for those who realise most how the mighty are made and kept, and how thin is the "veneer of civilisation"-and are accordingly the more anxious to be prepared for other than "civilised" eventualities, there is a happy release from the obnoxious if useful task of belauding the culture-trick: those whose tricked intelligence ordinarily they despise will scream its praises aloud: the "believers" in Civilisation and Culture are joined.
There are, of course, those who say that castes, noble, kingly, or priestly, and Empires are one thing, but that Culture is something other and apart: something great, eternal; something to do with mind and the soul of man. Culture is Thought. Well and good: one has merely to distinguish afresh a difference many times indicated: the difference between Thinking and Thought. The function of Thinking is: destruction of Thought. Defective thinking, of course, will breed thoughts: but good thinking destroys them. Thinking might be compared with a system of drainage: bad thinking is like a bad drain, besides which the complete absence of drainage is relatively innocuous. The function of thinking is to end Doubt; Thought (in the sense in which we speak of the History of Thought, i.e., as it is a synonym of "culture") is Embalmed Doubt. To receive a liberal education is to be made acquainted not with knowledge but with the Doubts of the Ages: the Miscarriages of the thinking process, now petrified in a gruesome misshapen collection as Culture. Scholars, indeed, ordinarily are quite mummified on account of their extended intercourse with decayed thinking. It is their aspect which happily has put "culture" at a discount. All that is virile is at war with thought. A virile thinker feels a nauseated disgust at first contact with "culture."
It is certain that any who have been hypnotised with the decadent fascination of Thought have never given any vigorous consideration to what the thinking process, the intellectual, the reasoning process, really is. Yet it is a first necessity for making any headway in philosophic knowledge. It is as necessary to know the limitations of thinking as to know its powers. A modern philosophy tending to establish a fundamental distinction between intellect and instinct for instance, seems to show that there is still confusion as to what intellection is; consequently as to what it is capable of doing. Intellection is a process of treatment of images. It scrutinises, sifts, compares, collates and combines-images. Feeling, that is, life, defines itself into images: they are thinking's raw material without which to work upon the intellectual process is meaningless, as the process of a cotton-weaving would be meaningless apart from cotton. The existence of definite images is the precondition of all intellection, and whether feeling results in such images or not depends on the power of life which feels. The ineffectual efforts of literary culture in the sphere of knowledge inasmuch as they have not been directed to definitely practical ends of popular deception interested to uphold some paramount, priestly, or secular Caste, have been efforts to make silk purses from sows' ears: or rather out of vigorous and ingenious passes made with the knitting-needles. Such "Culturists" have attempted to make a substantial fabric from a raw material so inadequate that it breaks into furze at the first touch of the machine; there has been no fabric, only a fluff-choked atmosphere thickly enveloping the thinker with his futile thinking faculty still forlorn of knowledge groping through a cloud of mystery. To set the reasoning machine afresh on the same shoddy stuff merely raises the cloud a little higher. It will all settle later to the old dead level. What philosophy requires is a bigger power of life inside the philosopher. What the philosopher requires is images which only he himself can provide. A man who feels powerfully will find that his intellectual faculty will work with certainty and power to that extent. Peasants, for instance, or wholly illiterate persons will speak with the shrewdest discrimination and certainty on deep human matters about which they have actually felt, where some university professor who has been reasoning the matter for a lifetime will sound empty like a rattle. In short, the image is the thing: the "problem" is, how to increase the power of human feeling and make human power grow and throb until it emerges from the obscure diffusion of vague feeling into the definite lines, sound, colour, movement of the clear image.
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It is doubtless this unspoken consideration which is in the minds of those few who being neither knaves nor nincompoops have recently joined in the loud talk of "culture" and civilisation and the profits of peace. They believe that the security of civilisation is the milieu in which the quiet weavings of the mind proceed best, and believe that in affirming this they are affirming something quite otherwise: that the stuff over which the shuttle of the mind passes is at its best under civilisation's security. It is a conclusion to which they have abandoned themselves over-quickly and without due warrant. Security, whenever removed far from the struggle which has won it, is a deadening influence: risk is the stimulus of living. A willingness to risk one's life to the uttermost is as regular a feature with men above a certain modicum of soul-power, as eyes are usual features in the head. Risk is as necessary as water and bread. Not because a man does not value his life, but because his life has imperative needs which he is at pains to satisfy, and of these the excitement of risk is one. Failing to get it he becomes bored: soul-sick. Boredom and monotony are the premier sicknesses of life: more deadly than privation and physical pain: they make the soul faint: they are more repugnant than the fear of death. To keep alive long is a less thing than to live vividly and swiftly, if briefly. All martyrdoms and high adventures are proof of it. These are espoused not for the sake of a "cause" or for "duty," but for fun: heightened life. This absence of risk, this monotony of service in our fat, rich, and peaceful civilisation, cannot even enforce itself under such advantageous conditions. The spiritually-starved people construct risks for themselves, and paltry enough they appear. Lotteries, gambling of all sort, backing of sides in our vicarious national sports, are the mean looking equivalents of the risks suppressed by the suppression of individual combat. Intoxicants, drugs, even militant suffragism, are the attempts of the over civilised to come by the more vivid images which a life of less security and less monotony gives. Because civilisation does not produce adequate equivalents for these it is undermining life and weakening feeling to the vague blur of the imageless. And unfurnished with images intellect weaves the empty air; thinking is arrested, becomes barren, and degrades into thought. Feeling runs thin and culture flourishes: sham artistry and tortured forms, fantastic wild dashes at wild theories replace honest Art, which is nothing more mystical or obscure than the expression of images sure, vivid, and sincere, seeing which men know that the images have lived in reality in the soul of their creators before ever attempt was made to make them live for others in the line, word, colour, or sound in which they take form. Art-expression of images whose stimuli come from the soul-thought inevitable to a strongly strung race is a secondary matter: the primary affair is the strong life lived which means that images have come to birth. Power of life is the thing, and quite possibly this may find its full expression in the energising of an active and vivid existence. If so, though Art may seem poorer, the community will be as rich, perhaps richer. Quite possibly a life joyously, richly, alluringly lived, is the fullest and finest gift to his fellows a great genius can give. It is so easy to bruise the joyousness out of life in crushing life's essences to distil Art.
However that may be, it is certain that the profounder knowledge of the human heart which should be the burden of genuine philosophy, must pause until stronger feeling is at its service, and it will be all to the good when the hypnotism of security which relying on the steady return of five per cents. on the one hand, and the deadly monotony of mechanical labour on the other gives, shall have given way to something more "wasteful" and adventurous. "Wasteful," since all is well-wasted if the power to feel may grow. It is true that in the fat times of peace knowledge of images of which the stimuli is eternal and maniable, and can be produced and reproduced at will may, can, and actually does, grow. Science prospers in peace, but knowledge of images which are furnished by heightened heart-beats must needs wait until thinkers' own hearts beat high. Great philosophies can come on]y from lives greatly lived.
The Egoist: No. 17, Vol. 1, September 1st, 1914.
by Dora Marsden
WE are driven to speak in praise of moderation: usually it is in praise of "fun," which consists in "going too far"; as, for instance, in the case in point: our British cant. Cant in moderation is the most useful thing in the world: cant well and you will mount high: "well," here is a synonym of "in moderation": go too far and the people will of a surety laugh: the fun will have started and you will be undone. Now surely the talk of our "clean pure hands," and of "righteous war," of "war against Kruppism," and "war against war," has now reached even as Mrs. Pepys' wig at the end of six months' wear, the stage beyond which such things cannot very well go. Everybody who believes in the war at all believes that we are fighting Germany because the Germans would settle our hash for us shortly if we didn't: that we are fighting not "to end war," but to win this one if we are lucky and can. As for the Germans one must suppose that their motives and intentions are very similar to those of the land-grabbing highwaymen who made the British Empire for us: it was not made in these days by the way-a most obvious remark which yet somehow seems necessary. It will doubtless with time break in upon most men that in disapproving of the German spirit as it is to-day, they are also disapproving of the spirit of Drake, Clive, Nelson, Wellington, and whether we care a brass farthing about the Empire or not, no one can be in two minds as to the quality of the spirit of these men. And its valuation can be diminished nothing by the smug disapproval of a generation grown so sleek off the spoils of their efforts that it is incapable of recognising the same quality when they see it rise again in a foe. In short, oh pious English brethren, whether the Germans lose or whether they win, their present daring temper thrusts a phenomenon under your nose which you despise, not merely at your own peril, but to the derogation of the traditional spirit of your own country's past. Having said which one may seemlily express the hope that the Germans will lose.
To ascertain the causes which will explain the present slow rate of recruiting the wise-in-office are puzzling themselves very considerably; it is even being proposed that lecturing campaigns be organised to expound the "Reasons for this War" to the unenlightened industrialists of the North. The intending lecturers may as well spare their breath: it is not for lack of "Reasons for this War" that recruits are not rolling up. The explanation is in our opinion quite other. The people have always a reason good enough to justify a fight when they have discovered a good foe: that constitutes the "rightness" of any fight once they have decided on fighting. The causes in our opinion are various and pretty obvious. The first cause is quite accidental in its nature: the war trouble came too suddenly. The stage- management required to bring popular enthusiasm to boiling-point was wholly lacking. It is trivial, but for the moment it is efficient. Its effect must diminish with time. In the second place all the criticism of state affairs and of politics, domestic and high, which has been going on in recent years has not been without its effect. A large section of the working classes have come to view "governments" with a very detached and aloof regard. The "State" itself, as distinguished from all the political dodges and trickeries, does not command unfailing respect. The knowledge that there is much spoof worked up into the dignity of the "State" has travelled very far. Men are not appalled at the suggestion of the "falling State": they can quite well conceive that the "State" may fall and the individual be none the worse: quite conceivably be better under the new "State" which would establish itself upon the debris. They comprehend, if only faintly, how the present "State" represent the forcible maintenance in power of an Order for which they have no particular love: working-class relations with their betters have not been notable in recent years for the amount of love they expressed, and when the "State" appeals to the workers these are acute enough to recognise their old friends the enemy under the benevolent heroic mask. It follows also as a corollary to this that they are not dazzled with the vision of Empire: they can leave that to the Germans, who are new to it: especially as, unlike the Germans, they have not had the fun of imagining it and preparing to build it. All of which tells. If, therefore, when the lecturers from Oxford and Cambridge are puzzled to see their audiences' faces twist up at the wrong moments, they can bear the above in mind: it will quite probably prove enlightening. Then, a further cause, the Church divines will be flattered and somewhat dashed to know, the Christian doctrine of "peace on earth and good will towards men" has, in the guise of a species of Revolutionary Brotherhood, penetrated the industrial classes, and they think that fighting is "wrong" This does not imply, one hastens to add, that they do not love fighting, or that they fear to fight: they have, we believe, a strong, if veiled, regard for it: but they consider that love of fighting is one of the desires that should be suppressed-they "ought not" to love fighting, and accordingly they deprecate it, even in expressing admiration for it.
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But these considerations are, we believe, subsidiary: the main reason is that the demand made on the men's circumstances stretches outside their means. Granting that, Christianity notwithstanding, the men are keen to fight, welcome the excitement, and are proud of the risk: there are few working-men who have not other dependent on them, and risk is too much of a personal pleasure not to be looked at askance when others who do not share in the risk's excitement are involved in its consequences. It is not regarded as bravery: it is sized up as gallivanting. If the State cannot afford to pay for an Army it should confess its poverty and shut up shop: it is despicable to work on men's better feelings in an endeavour to make them callous to other equally praiseworthy feelings. The much boasted English voluntary system acts as a veritable Morton's Fork: the prospective recruit is impaled, no matter which prong he selects. Because his "will is not forced," because it is "left to his honour," all the stronger is the impetus to volunteer and to do one's utmost; if he fails to, he is held a "nithing." Some one was advertising in the "Times" last week for petticoats for all such. Should he volunteer, then, just because it is voluntary the choice is his own and the State is not responsible for his action. His pay is inadequate, and if his choice costs him his life, his dependants are left at the mercy of charity for adequate provision. It is really astonishing that Lord Kitchener has had the response he has.
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We should be interested to know why the intelligent at least among the working classes do not favour some form of national military service, either conscription or in some less stringent form. Doubtless it is the working of the "humanitarian" ferment! If only the French Revolution had never happened, or had guillotined all the fellows with a literary tendency, and if only Plato had never been born! However, these calamities have visited us, and here we are. It really behoves [behooves] someone to speak earnestly about "humanitarianism " to working-men. It is not to their interests that they should be a "civilian" class animated throughout by the "civilian" temper; that is, if they are not content to remain permanently at the status of servants. There is nothing grotesque, incredible, barbaric, Prussian, what you will, in the small esteem in which the military caste holds the civilian. Such estimation is not due to Prussianism: it is due to human nature. Man for man the soldier holds the advantage: in a quarrel he is the better man: the civilian is in his power: the soldier protects him, cows him into submission, or kills him as the situation suggests. Consider Mr. Ben Tillett with his God and his ten thousand unemployed, scurried from Tower Hill. Call up the vision of an industrial multitude trying to assert itself anywhere in the world: it is that of driven beaten cattle, scattered civilians. As forces in an upshot, civilians barely enter into the reckoning. If society were an "organism" of course this would not much matter: plodding foot would always agree to the extent of its ability with the directions of the fighting head. Happily or unhappily, according as one is happy to agree with the precept that one should be satisfied with those conditions of life whereunto one is born, society is not an organism: and the members of the community are constantly at strife one with another. Only in a time of what we choose to call common danger is there a momentary co-operation and cohesion, when-it may be noted-the fighting head takes the lead. Even at such a time, so little is this cohesion a real and permanent thing-so little is society an organism that its governors do not even take care decently to string together the torn strands which mark off the definition of the fighting-head from the civilian body. The business of recruiting for instance: a civilian chooses to raise his status and join the army. Doing so necessitates the breaking of certain ties which are undoubtedly among the strongest in the civilian community: which offer the nearest approach to anything which might with any show of suitability be dubbed an organism: those of a man's family. Yet so little does the society really believe in its own rhetorical catch that it does not assume responsibility for the necessities of the soldier's dependants even when he has given his life to support its prestige. Still less does it actually care about civilian distress in general as caused by its action. It was necessary of course to put through a number of emergency measures to avoid panic and to steady the sources of economic power: this latter because finances must be kept steady in order that they may be available and ready to be drawn upon as the needs of the defensive member requires. Civilians undoubtedly make small weight: there is quite a touch of pathos in their efforts to come in and count-as civilians-in military matters. See how Mr. H.G. Wells' trustful efforts to prove that "the State is acting as one man" by putting us all in boy-scout uniform have been summarily turned down: why even women could come up to fighting status on that strength. The military uniform must not be defamed by bringing it within reach of civilians and women. It is, it may be noted again, the popular humanitarian writers of light and leading who have been so keen on advising the civilians to make up their minds how the map of Europe is to be coloured after the war. How they imagine that individuals who carried no weight in forcing or preventing the war, which have no influence now in its actual prosecution can expect to be turned to in a distressful appeal to supply a cue when frontiers are being sketched out, it is difficult to conceive. Another instance one must suppose of the curious effects of the humanitarian fetish. Facts prove from moment to moment that the thin sentiments of the good-natured brotherly-lover are brushed aside as of no account in exact proportion to the importance of the game: yet the facts always fail to impress him. Is he not a man, a representative of Man, with a capital M, and of the Rights of Man, and therefore an important person, no matter how the case works out?
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It is possible that the humanitarians' distressingly confused mental muddle is due to a mistaken identification of "humane" conduct with just ordinary human kindness. What this mistake entails becomes clear when the differences of meaning between "human" and "humane" are brought out. "Human conduct" is men's conduct as it is; "humane" conduct is what men's conduct "ought" to be. Into this "ought" is pressed every sort of fad the humanitarian cares to patronise. Thus the humane one says you should eat no meat, because you ought not: that you are strong and powerful, and therefore ought not to do this, that, and the other; or you are weak, and he tells you you are lord of the earth, and ought to consider yourself the origin of power which the strong merely "derive" from you; that you ought to be protected therefore: and they propose to under take your protection. Incidently they propose that you ought to allow them to take any and every liberty with you which may come into their heads: all of course for your greater protection. The humane one, in short, had made it his fad to espouse the "Cause of the Weak" --often, it is cheerful to note, to the disgust of the weak-and his crusade consists in directing a multitude of words, reproachful and very "oughtful" against those who are trying to do the best they can for them selves to the best of their ability. Humanitarians are embargoists: they endeavour to lay the weight of their "ought" across other people's fads, and endeavour to inhibit them by an appeal to the conscience: their own fad they call the "protection of the poor"--to which they give such free rein that they are fast becoming the apostles of perpetual goal [gaol] for the poor. They call it supervision; they are the friends-on a scientific basis of course-of the poor; looking at their ways one might think that they cherished malice against the poor, but one would be wrong. It is not malice but applied Social Science.
That the "humane" writers have an enormous influence on the temper of the wage-earning workers cannot be denied: to such an extent in fact that from the emotional-the most important-side the workers view their situation precisely upside down.
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They are the under-dogs-they and the humane ones agree in that-and yet they are crying out about peace. But the cry of peace is seemly only in the mouths of the top-dogs. England can, for instance, blandly enlarge on the beauties of peace and feel at ease in the role, but the Germans, for instance, have no illusions about the blessings of peace. A virile people feels securely at peace when it is safe on the top: a virile people when it is not on the top will cry peace only when shown absolutely that excellent though it believes itself there is a power more excellent still. Why, then, are the "workers" so enamoured of peace?
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And they call for disarmament: call, that is, upon those who are more powerful than they to lay down the weapons which make them so. And it is the most devastating stroke of humanitarianism that it has succeeded in persuading the industrial under-dogs that their demand will be acceded to. As though a powerful order will not always see to its defences: the only way to meet a powerful order is to oppose it with another powerfully defended order. That is why the Germans are so inspiriting. A worthy foe is as inspiring as a worthy friend. It is those who mistake the quality of both friendship and enemity [enmity] who are depressing. They necessitate cuffing not combat.
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Very probably the humanitarian ideal has been encouraged by an unwarrantable extension of the "family" analogy. Liberty, equality, and fraternity are the kind of flowers which might be expected to flourish in the close circle of the family with its basis fixed in intimate affection. To believe that they will flourish equally in the social "family" is to ignore the unique characteristic which creates the family. It is just because there is not much love to be relied upon abroad which makes the love in the home noteworthy. The vitiating effects of the "womanising" influences now working in the social temper are due to an untenable presumption that a frame of mind which women can calculate to find in men towards themselves will be forthcoming from men towards men. Women are, of course, in normal cases even more physically defenceless than the male civilian: but in the attraction which they wield over men they possess a physical competence for the acquisition of power and status which does not come in a man's category. Women are self-protected by a competence which belongs to themselves; because they can neglect certain powers of self-defence it by no means follows that men can do likewise. Yet the humanitarian ideal is to rely for men's safety upon a softness of dealing which is only available for women. It involves a positively deadly miscalculation.
We had thought that the funniest thing appearing in print since the outbreak of the war would have been the suggestion of Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Webb in the "Daily News," that when we have rooted up and eaten out last carrot the Distress Committee will fatten up on rations of beer and cakes-the amount to vary according to our progress in executing on the flute and doing fancy crotchet-stitches; or perhaps it was in mathematics. Anyway, whatever it was, the Webbs are completely outshone-by the "Spectator." Not in the course of a long vivid life have I read anything so inspiriting as the "Spectator's" "Advice to Italy." These articles have positively clicked with wickedness. How they must have set the fresh mountain air blowing through the dry bones sheltering in English rectories. "Clean pure hands" indeed! And "Reasons for War!" The "Spectator" informs Italy that the sound reason for war is the chance of a good one: as for the occasion meet for war: the traditional form of defiance of the street gamin-for which hands are always clean enough-will serve when the time is ripe. Honest, selfish, shameless, the "Spectator" failed to be dull. When the journal resettles comfortably into its best clergyman manner, "Italy" shall be remembered to its credit. What a blight it is on life, to be sure, that honest speech is almost non-existent. One might even make terms with a life without war if speech were a little oftener stripped of its deception, its veilings, its cant. Sound words unsheathed might make as clean war as good swords. Perhaps! Perhaps for a first round: for the second the sword might have become imperative.