MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2nd, 1914.
ARMS AND DISARMAMENT.
By DORA MARSDEN.
THAT friendly twilight of inattention which even the safest cause requires, the War has rudely scattered for the disarmament propagandists. An inconsiderate fate has flashed upon these would-be harmless people the critical light which looks to doctrines only to judge of their application, and not at all to the possibilities for unending delight in unendable disputations which they possess. The cause of "disarmament," dragged forth for judgment in the presence of the undoctrinated, is compelled willy-nilly to state a case: and as far as the powers of its advocates hitherto have been able to make clear it appears÷just "a case" and nothing more. The propagandists have been at no pains to put anything in it: the most elementary notions of their cause they have been content to leave sacred, which is unexamined. Disarmament has been apparently just the slogan of a "cause" intending to imply no more than the pious application to international affairs of Mr. Watts' sentiment in regard to little children÷little nations should agree and keep their angry passions down. Hence for light on disarmament one need not turn to the doctrines of the initiated: one must start from the beginning and make shift for oneself. What are "arms," anyway? A dictionary says, "any mechanism which is set in motion from the shoulder," so that disarmament would start with a surgical operation at the shoulder presumably. But no disarmer has ever intended that: only annihilation of the means of attack and defence. What human arms are if not just these means in their ultimate sense is not clear, and the fact that all extensions of such means have been compendiously termed "arms," seems to leave them compromised to say the least. And thinking on the matter still more intently, one has to acknowledge that it must just have been the specific allocating of limbs to the service of attack and defence as human arms, which raised one animal above all the rest, and created the human. The evolution of arms:
the raising of the fore limbs in order to protect the more vulnerable head, and in order to add the weight and damage of paw and claw to that of fang, called into being, as it were incidentally, an animal which habitually stood upright: an animal which arms had made into a man.... But disarmers have found difficulties sufficiently numerous far nearer the threshold of their inquiry than "lopping from the shoulder" constitutes, and it is only "arms" external to the finger-tips which they would gladly see forbidden and destroyed, while scratching, hitting, kicking, biting, remain as offensives which must be allowed, because they may not be avoided therefore. Not fighting, but fighting with weapons is the bug-bear: and especially one is given to understand weapons which have working alliances with gunpowder. Someone who was writing recently on the subject kindly offered to explain why: to wit, "The common sense of the world to-day knows that if civilisation is to be preserved it must not rest on gunpowder." At first blush, to be sure, gunpowder does seem an uncertain seat for anything to rest on, but on thinking further one is struck by the fact that civilisation appears to select gunpowder, and that by a strong preference. It must, indeed, be singularly annoying to those whose common sense leads them to such an opinion as the one quoted, to have to observe how the more we have of gunpowder the more unmistakably does civilisation come into evidence. The sequence is constant enough to suggest the relation of cause and effect: gunpowder civilisation. But many would prefer to call this mere coincidence. For the moment therefore, we may leave it, confident that even such will agree that that which they hold to be the opposite of civilisation, i. e., war fiercest war÷did not wait for the advent of gunpowder to make its appearance. Nor even for the bow or the sword or the spear. Before the first stone was flung war was there.
* * * *
Accordingly, if the aim of the disarmer is to eliminate war, a restriction exercised according to the character of weapons used will produce only illusory effects: since instruments capable of being used on the offensive ÷were their owners so minded as to use them÷would include almost every instrument of utility and ornament: axe, club, scythe, bodkin, hairpin, the common arbiters of domestic polity, the poker and the boot, would all offer themselves at need in default of gunpowder. The ploughshare and pruning-hook, the often proffered antitheses of weapons of offence could be relied upon to do effective damage were they the only weapons available in the field. Given pause for reflection, the genuine disarmer may well begin to feel force and pertinence in the logic which starts disarmament from the shoulder-socket, since almost anything that the human arm can wield for peaceful use it can wield equally well as a weapon of effective offence. He will begin to realise that it is not weapons but human temper which exerts the lure towards war, the undermining force of civilisations: kinds of armaments are incidental; all that matters in regard to them being that they shall compete in effectiveness with those of the opponent. Their requisite character is purely relative. It is the spirit of war which is the absolute, and war is whenever there is antagonistic temper or desire for status or possessions. It is entirely a question of interests÷the interwoven mesh of desires which net the antagonistic animus. Interests are the pride of life, and, given interests strong enough, men will use all and any arms they can come by for their furtherance. War itself÷which is simply the active side of interests÷exerts the attraction of settling of the world's perspective to one's own liking, over and against that of the enemy, who endeavours to do a like thing on his own behalf. An enemy is not therefore a person whom one hates: he is a person one fights. It is unintelligent to hate him because he is an enemy, because it is precisely to be such that we have created him. He is a necessity of our combativeness. He is most profitably regarded as the satisfaction of a primary want, like food or a lover. Our antagonisms are teeming with vitality: they possess the vitalising hardness by resisting which we brace ourselves. It is a poor soul which must deprive itself the luxury of a good enemy. * * * *
The fact that civilised authorities discourage their peoples from having enemies except such as they themselves duly authorise, goes a long way towards revealing the actual nature of civilisation. We quoted above a writer who believed that the common sense of the world opines there is something antagonistic between civilisation and gunpowder (by which latter is meant, we may assume, armaments on the modern enormous scale). Yet, as we pointed out, the big gun has the appearance of being the greatly prolific progenitor of just those forms of society which we call civilised. And inevitably, settled peace is the display of force so unmistakably irresistible that it is not within the limits of possibility for the conquered powers to gainsay it. Force÷a force that is÷ asserts and establishes itself. It is now, therefore, in the ascendant: it makes known its will: which is now the sole dominant will: it delineates its own conception of the forms its expressed will desires to take; that is, it outlines its species of order. It lays this conception of its order on the conquered, demanding for its execution an unquestioning obedience and for guidance in carrying it into being effectively and smoothly it frames laws. A law is a command accompanied by a threat, in case of refusal, to use all or any of the forces of compulsion which it is known or assumed are at the disposal of the framers. It can be taken for granted that a community in which the laws are accepted without question÷which is highly civilised, that is÷has its forces of compulsion in effective condition and well under the influence of those at whose inspiration the laws are made. To say that "the individual does not suffer in honour or interest because law has replaced violence in his social relationship," is to give evidence of complete incomprehension of the question at issue: law does not replace violence: it merely gives information detailing the manner in
which violence will be directed. If one can manage to square one's honour and interest with the incidence of violence, well and good: if not, tant pis: one meets the violence. On this wise is the only authorised enemy of civilised society discovered to us, i. e., the flouter and disturber of the "Law and Order" ordained by the paramount: disturbers of the peace, which has been commanded by the force which commands the most effective gunpowder. The gentle ways and modes of civilised society take rise in precisely the same manner as similar phenomena appear among children of a stern parent who likes an ordered peace in his house and is powerful enough to see that he gets it. The children do not quarrel among themselves because "Father" finds it a confusion and an annoyance. Quarrelling upsets his "Order ": the rebellious child is the domestic criminal.
* * * *
It is, therefore, easy to trace how the possession of forceful and successful arms affords to a great power (particularly in these modern times of enormous armaments, whose very enormity puts them beyond the possession of the people, and makes the State the obvious custodian) the basis upon which it can begin to build its particular brand of civilisation. Freed by its power from gainsaying both from without and within, such a State has leisure and authority to call into being an "Ordered Society," to become civilised that is. An ordered society means precisely what it says÷a society which shapes itself in conformity with the orders given by the manipulators of the armed forces in its midst: orders which, described as laws, perforce the people must obey. For no large body of people, apart from unusual moments of danger, obey orders unless the possibility to do otherwise does not lie in their possession. Such a condition of deficient power can only be effected by a body which is by comparison superiorly armed. A State possessing formidable and centrally-controlled armaments, with which the defensive weapons of those whose obedience is demanded cannot hope to compete, is precisely this body. Such a State commands just the conditions necessary to the laying down of orders which will effect peaceful submission between itself and its peoples, and if it so desires÷and it usually does÷peace among the individuals one with another, whose differences must be settled through its own appointed media. It can afford to take up the position that it will "stand no nonsense" in regard to disorder between individual and individual: can afford to insist on the regulation of social life by civil means, i. e., by means of vicarious violence. Individuals may settle and arrange matters among themselves only within limits: by verbal or written means. Violence remains the prerogative of the State. Such is the basis of civilisation, and it explains what civilisation is the expression of: i. e., enforcement by violent compulsion of ways of settlement among a governed people who have been deprived of any power of gainsaying such external settlement by a previous deprival of arms. It is this settling of intraindividual affairs by civil means which is called Justice. "Civilisation must rest not upon gunpowder but upon Justice." Well, well: it amounts very much to the same thing! "I rest not upon this planet but upon this couch." Though civilisation depends upon Justice, Justice depends upon gunpowder, and civilisation therefore depends upon gunpowder ultimately. It is, as a matter of fact, however, a favour allowed in charity to the rhetoricians to admit that civilisation rests upon Justice: Justice and civilisation÷abstractions both at best÷are not two things but one. Civilisation is rather related to Justice as a special case. It is Justice in limited and secondary application. Basic Justice is coincident with gunpowder.
* * * *
If, then, Justice fails the would-be disarmers: if Justice be not some transcendant and archetypal figure enthroned in the heavens before Earth or Time was, but, as far as civilisation is concerned, merely the internexus of guarantees for contracts of which the nature is conditioned by the arbitrament of arms, on what other
supports may disarmament fall back? Two for their support have been furnished: a rationalist and a theocratic: the authority of "The World" and of "God." Both are passionately espoused, and naturally, for support for a task stupendous and baffling cannot be lightly foregone. Note what the task is on which the disarmers have set their hearts: it is the acquiring of supreme instruments of compulsion in order to overcome compulsion while yet anathematising compulsory instruments. They would themselves compel all men else to believe that compulsion is "wrong." Hitherto compulsion has always led to armaments, but what now when compulsion would compel towards disarmaments? If all others are to be compelled not to arm at all, some authority must arm itself very efficiently. The power which undertakes to abolish Napoleonism will need to be very greatly and grandly Napoleonic. So this thing runs in a circle: Napoleonism is ever under the curse yet ever triumphant, ever to be brought under the heel yet ever on the heights. Hence the attempt to create a Napoleonic power which need fear no rival: The World. It is odd how at every great crisis "reason" reverts to this fetish of "The World versus The Recalcitrant": odd because in every attempt to apply it "The World" itself furnishes the subversive elements which make the rebel triumphant; "The World," in fact, cannot be the Super-Napoleon because "The World" cannot hang together. Napoleonism represents a progressive cohesion, while "The World" is the loose and disparate sum-total of disintegrating differences. It is unable to cohere: a poor opponent, therefore, for even a lilliputian Napoleon. One is compelled to realise that "The World" does not mean what it would imply, but relies for its impressiveness upon its good comprehensive sound. On a closer scrutiny "The World" appears one of those all inclusive generalisations which mean nothing because they aspire to mean everything. What does "The World" mean to any of us ? Who stands for "The World" ? One could almost as readily develop a partisan ardour in favour of a constellation as become enthusiastic over "The World." Even the religions which were founded to "save" "The World" in order to wake an interest were compelled to split it up to furnish a portion which could be assigned to damnation. In fact, interest can live only upon difference, and those who have argued that because out of "The World" many States have been carved they can, therefore, by a simple process of addition, collect the States together and obtain for "The World" the united coercive power of all the States' "virtues" in order to annihilate in each all their particular vices, and all to the glory of the unified creation called "The World," have strayed lamentably in their reckoning. States are States (nationalities if one prefers so to call them), not because they are alike but because they are different. They exist not to accommodate what their neighbours consider their virtues, but the traits they consider their vices. All splits take place in order to allow the vices of the secessionists a better run. Adding secessionists (i. e., States) together to make a unified "World" can only be expected to produce effects procurable by mixing together, say, saltpetre with sulphur and charcoal: a nasty explosion. A nation acquires its dominant characteristics far more by what it excludes than by what it includes, and to this extent it is the embodied expression of the motive which is common to any other form of grouping. A group is formed in order to keep out the crowd: as in the case of club membership, of which it is precisely its powers of exclusion which distinguishes it from the fair-ground or the street. * * * *
The rationalist notion of an all-coercing "world-power" affords an excellent example of the floundering of cantatists. With all their desire to hit upon a fine-sounding justification for this strange new passion of great States for small ones, their wits seize upon all the fakes and omit the sole genuine one, i. e., that their lives in human nature an instinct which renders involuntary admiration to the small power putting its fortunes to the risk in order to rise: that there exists in men an involun-
tary admiration for the signs of growth. While it is a misleading folly to encourage small States to believe that they have any justification except such as they can assert at the sword's point, it is an equal folly not to calculate that a small State putting up a likely fight to ease its growing pains will exercise an enormous pull on the affections of the onlooker: not, of course, so much with the elderly party in authority whose interests its insurrectionary activity is flouting÷but with the bystanders. Otherwise there is no justification for small States apart from the fact that their existence serves the interests of a greater by whose will alone they are enabled to live. * * * *
Small States might, indeed, be considered as the women in international polity. As with women, their status is not defined at first hand by their own intrinsic strength: they find their value in the fact that their existence chances to be useful to some other power who on this account accords them a courtesy status. Their "rights" are in virtue of the needs of the mightier, and are enjoyed by permission until such changes take place in the hang of things as may make their continued existence unnecessary: whereupon their "rights" shrivel to the dimensions of their virtual merits: to their might. For instance, the right of Denmark, Belgium, and Holland to exist lies in the fact that their existence as buffers is very useful to England. Their "rights" will dwindle very materially should Germany÷to whom their existence is the reverse of a necessity÷become the superior power: a tact which the King of the Belgians is doubtless very well aware.
* * * *
Accordingly, this creation of the "World" as supreme authority possesses little with which to attract men who have not the itch for airing theories in newspapers. They do not incline towards investing it with coercive powers strong enough to reduce all other powers to a state of feebleness at which resistance becomes impossible. With a man of Mr. Roosevelt's temperament matters will appear different. Mr. Roosevelt elects to put the nostrum "The World versus the Recalcitrant" under his patronage, and it is ill-luck that contemporary history should so blatantly thrust forward its refuting commentary.
* * * *
Mr. Roosevelt calls for a world-police which shall secure the peace of the world... to supplement and make effectual "a world agreement among all civilised and military powers to back righteousness by force." It should be "solemnly covenanted that if any nation refused to abide by the decision of such a court the others would draw the sword on behalf of peace and justice, and would unitedly coerce the recalcitrant nation." Now, what save the adhesion of the United States to the side of the Allies is missing from this picture of a world-agreement backing "righteousness by force" in the state of affairs existant to-day. The "World" minus the United States is coercing recalcitrant Germany: with what ultimate effect it still lies too far within the veil of the future to see. But if Mr. Roosevelt imagines that the stepping in of the United States would make the desired difference and change the existing bloody spectacle into one of friendly peace one would make bold to say that he is enormously mistaken, for the reason that though he calculates the number of heads he miscalculates human nature. The spectacle of Germany to-day facing her enemies÷Belgium under her foot, France held with her teeth, her right arm holding Russia and her left England, while from far beyond she can catch the swelling sound of foes trooping from every continent, Japan, Canada, Australia, India, South Africa, New Zealand÷is tolerably heroic. Should the United States ally itself with Germany's enemies (if for the sake of illustration such a combination may be contemplated), then whether because of the fact that "Germany against the World" is too heroic a figure for human pride to tolerate her annihilation without a suffering from its own self-contempt; or whether because of a certain sympathy which always lurks in the under-world for the bravely beaten; or because of a new-born
jealously of the world-power itself when freed of its most serious rival÷on account of some or all of these causes "Germany against the World" will prove that the World is a less formidable foe for Germany than the present combination of the Allies. The Alliance swollen with the adhesion of the United States would be far more likely to tip over on the right side for Germany than the existent Alliance. The disintegrating forces of the enormous collectivity÷The World÷would begin to dissolve out of it, and to its own detriment.
* * * *
The concept of the "World" in addition to that of "Justice" both proving illusory as forces towering high above national and Imperial gunpower, what is there existent over and above the State powerful enough to compel the pugnacious ones to fall back in contented mediocrity and love? Nothing save the guns of one State to silence the other. The query presents a problem for human ingenuity, and this latter has not failed of a solution for lack of making attempts of which the conception of the theocratic State, the State coerced by Moral Suasion: by the Ghostly Police: by the Inner Voice: by the God over All, remains alive and paramount.
* * * *
The vision of the King of Kings, whose vice-regent is Conscience, whose Ambassador is the Inner Voice, and whose ordinances are "Right," is the most audacious as well as the most subtle effort of human ingenuity: it is so ingenious that one might say "ought" to "work." It does work exquisitely and impressively in rhetoric. There is one voice only against it: that of experience. Unfortunately that voice is decisive: because it is in experience that the scheme is required to work. And therein the Omnipotent One is quite notably powerless. All experience has to tell of how the Omnipotent is worsted. His incursion into practical matters is therefore limited to an invocation of the "Great Name." He can scarcely attain even to the establishment of an identity. Men commandeer their enemies' God as their own devil, while in complementary return they may see their Own similarly installed among the enemy and Jehovah interchanges with Baal. A like impotence is to be observed of the Omnipotent's Ambassador÷the Inner Voice. It fails to make sound just where in its own interests its self-assertion is vital. It makes itself heard just where it can matter little whether it speaks or remains
silent. Its purpose being to restrain the Napoleons, it yet flourishes only in the non-Napoleons: a Napoleon being by definition one constitutionally incapable of hearing an Inner Voice. The spell of two thousand years of Christianity has its testimony to add to the evidence of other theocracies: i.e., that its gospel is powerful as a working principle with the powerless. * * * *
Christians are not, however, to be dismayed because their creed works only by opposite in experience: if experience fails to embody the theocracy, so much the worse for experience. Experience, i.e., the tale of the world, the flesh and the devil÷must be repudiated: ignored by a World-authority established in a Kingdom beyond the World. Christianity sets forward with un-diminished energies to win the "world" for Christ. Intelligently it makes a bid for men's hearts, intelligently, because there the egoistic desires which cause all wars are born. The Christ is for peace and desires born of hearts that are Christ's must faint at birth. By negating desire the rivalry born of the struggle to satisfy desire, is forestalled. In order to fight greatly one needs must desire greatly. At that low-toned level at which one has little enough of desire as to be ready to suffer all violence and yet to offer none, one has arrived at the crux of the disarmament question. A theocracy, therefore, of the Christian cast accepted by all the world is undoubtedly its one solution. Since Christianity besieges and seeks to conquer the Force whose power is above the State, prior to it, and has the shaping of all States and all secessions from States which make up "the World," Christ conquers the World: He silences the desires of men in which lurks the power which towers high above all States. These silenced, the warring cries which accompany the ever-fluctuating struggle of men with men and State with State will be hushed. The peace which indeed passeth all human understanding since it is the peace of the grave holds sway: a Thought without a thinker reigns silently over Nothingness. Disarmament more drastic than that which starts from the socket is accomplished: it has started from the heart. When the heart has been drugged no need remains for lopping off the arm. The dilemma has been evaded and all other dilemmas with it.... Otherwise Napoleonism reigns supreme: its efficient moderator is a world of Napoleons with whom desire is great and rampant.
VIEWS AND COMMENTS.
IT may seem a long way from gunpowder to politeness, which, for most people, is a synonym for civilised dealing. To explain civilisation without explaining politeness is, for them, to leave civilisation unexplained: as though one should consider the art of the sculptor to finish with the blasting of the block-marble, without concern for the chisel-work which actually constitutes its distinctive character. Yet blasting and chiselling are parts of the one process, though the one is prior to the other: and gunpowder and politeness stand in a like relation to civilisation. Before men became material suitable for polishing, for civilising, they needs must be reduced to maniable conditions by harsher methods of treatment: and it is primarily this prior reduction which separates the civilised from the barbarian.
* * * *
The barbarian is the outsider: the one which has not begun to be submitted to the polishing process of a specific order. Thus, there is nothing absolute about barbarian or civilised: always it is a matter of point of view: it is the outsider which is the "barbarian" from the outsider's point of view. No race can appear barbarians to themselves, because, from their point of view, they are insiders: that is, they have been submitted to the particular dominating power which governs them.
* * * *
Accordingly, it is not an accident which makes politeness an accompaniment of any strongly established class,
and boorishness a trait found, if found, in the dominated. Politeness is the progressive utilisation of the subjected material in the manner to which the nature of subjected material most readily lends itself. It is an intelligent adaptation of means to ends, once the great assumption of subjection has been accepted as a fact. Politeness is the smooth gloss which disguises precisely this fact: boorishness is its painful obtrusion through the smoothly-spread veneer. "To bury the hatchet," "to let sleeping dogs lie," is the sentiment which animates politeness and civility. The intent being to secure smooth working for the dominant and a soothed complacence in the dominated. It serves so well that it always achieves good repute among those who create good reputations, i. e., among the dominant, and so manages to get an overwhelming amount of prestige behind it. According as the sense of class remains sound among the dominant, its observance towards inferiors is regarded as de rigueur. The sentiment of noblesse oblige is one of the exigences of healthy dominant-class interests. Among equals politeness is merely a convenience of variable utility. For the dominated it presents a different aspect. Its exercise is based upon a soother complacence, an instinct for safety, whereas boorishness is a kicking against the pricks. It is disliked by the dominant because of its inconvenience, while it is despised by the dominated because of its futility. It is the harping on the existence of a sore which cannot be healed, but which may be forgotten or ignored: it is a refusal to accept with grace
what cannot be resisted with effect: it is the attribute of the "grouser" and "kill-joy," achieving all the pains but not the joys of the rebellious. The "little less," by which the boorish fall short of effectual reassertion, makes him just something less than even an unsuccessful rebel- it is merely a satisfaction of temper to no purpose, and it looks unintelligent because it succeeds only in defeating itself and proclaiming its defeat. President Kruger represents one thing: but General Beyers, might one say, represents something considerably less: they are the rebel and the boor. The difference is constituted by the difference in their chances of success.
* * * *
"Civilised dealing" with the dominated then is the extended application of the fact: that every condition of things has a better and a worse side according to the spirit in which one accepts it: the spirit which seeks to find in all things÷compensations. With the dominant, on the other hand, it is the realisation that compensation for the dominated must be emphasised at all costs. For both, it is the utilisation of that dual aspect of appearances which makes them appear the right side upwards which ever way they fall. On this same duality, "good" manners are based as well as diplomacy and sound policy. For, if there are "Overs" there must be "Unders ": and each will distil from its condition its own comfort: diplomacy is the sensitive touch which feels for the fitting one to be brought into relief at the apposite time.
* * * *
It is a limited intelligence which can "tell the tale" only in one way. An intelligence has not grasped the simple elements of any situation until it can tell it forth in at least two; even the dual-telling process itself must be described dually as Duplicity or Diplomacy as the case needs. It is part of the weight of stupidity which seems to settle upon civilised States when they become afraid of the sound of the words "duplicity" and "diplomacy" while yet enlarging on the merits of civilisation. Such fear plainly argues that they have become the victims of the particular form of duplicity which constitutes civilisation÷have lost their way, in fact, between one story and another. It seems that the cloak of civilisation, to secure to its wearers its advantages and yet to prove innocuous to them, must perforce carry a "barbarian" lining. The outcry for frankness from the upholders of civilisation is like the plaint of one who thinks he is bent on a good game of cards though he clamour for a preliminary exposure of the players' hands. Polite, civilised society means a society which tacitly disavows frankness. Civilisation deals in superficialities only, but is none the less important for that. Nine-tenths of the experiences of life work their course out along a surface of superficialities, and it is as absurd to depreciate superficialities as it would be to despise the surface of the earth: one can appreciate the value of the external crust and yet remain cheerfully aware that a few thousand miles within the crust conditions are distinctly different, and that if one is going to have to do with these interior conditions quite other preparations will need to be taken from those which are necessary for activities on the surface. So, politeness÷ the methods of civilisation÷fare well enough within the limits of a fixed and accepted status: within the orbits that is of recognised State Orders, but where these themselves are in question the cry for "civil" methods is simply absurd.
* * * *
The evidence of the stupidity's existence among our over-civilised of to-day÷the stupidity which is innocuous only when limited to the claque, but quite seriously undermining when it spreads to the dominant-class, is not confined to such niaiseries as "equal rights" as between the civil and military castes, or between men and women; it emerges, unconscious and unfaked, in complete unmistakability in the democratic demand for an "open" Foreign Policy: for a complete diplomatic explicitness. "Diplomatic explicitness" is an amusing combination if it is examined well enough: a direct contradiction, in fact, being an "unfolded folding-together." A para-
mount Imperial foreign policy, of necessity, is diplomatic, duplex, making great show of one set of cards in order to keep rival suspicions asleep as to the existence of those on which she actually relies for success. A "frank" statement of what an Imperial Foreign Office seeks to establish and maintain in its foreign relations would prick into activity just that sleeping pride of foreign nations which it has been the burden of its labours to lull. Imperial "frankness," far from avoiding war, would bring an Empire's rival buzzing about its ears with the animus of a disturbed nest of wasps. On the other hand, diplomatic "frankness" on the part of an ambitious "rising" State would find its analogy in, and would receive the treatment accorded to, the boorish-ness of the private individual. A rising nation requires to be actually "risen" before it can be diplomatically frank (i. e., dispense with diplomacy) with safety. Unless a nation is in a position to fight so irresistibly as to command a frankness to match its own, it must needs match guile with guile. Otherwise it is likely to find half the world arrayed against it: which is not a healthy sign, but one which argues crudeness and unfamiliarity with the ways of dominating power. In short, a nation's policy can safely be "frank" only when it is practically certain of the issue in reverting to that "extension of policy" which is an appeal to force, and there exist grounds for so many miscalculations in regard to the issues of force that even then diplomacy can be laid aside only with reserve. The susceptibilities of the stupid making up nine-tenths of Public Opinion: the diplomacy of those who own even the biggest battalions will need to keep a reverting eye to that. In these days of a world-extended Press particularly, though in war the sword is still supreme arbiter, the number of times it must strike can be enormously increased by effects due to scratches of the pen. If, for instance, Napoleon had been proclaimed world-ruler in advance of his insidious growth, his warned and alarmed foes would have scotched his career before Napoleonism had the chance to work itself out. But it became established long before the world was half aware what a Napoleon was. A preacclaimed Napoleon has a task before him infinitely larger than ever was Napoleon's.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 16th, 1914.
THE NATURE OF HONOUR.
By DORA MARSDEN.
THAT an inquiry into the nature of Honour resolves itself, in the main, into a dissertation on the nature of Morals naturally results from the intimate relation which exists between the two. The question of Honour is involved in the question of Morals, of which it is a special case, Honour being the attempt to incorporate within the sphere of the Moral something of the lure and distinction which belongs to the Immoral. Morals are the modes of conduct common to a community at any given period of its history: they are customs pure and simple, changing as customs will from time to time, but only in obedience to impulses operating through the entire community. Every man falls in with the customs of his age the greater part of his active life. Even the least conventional is dominated by them: In what we eat, buy, wear, strive after, praise, blame, reject and welcome, members of a community÷distinguished or insignificant÷are alike or tending to make themselves so. Therefore, to set claim to being moral is as if one were to lay claim to being a water-consumer; to being immoral; an anti-water-consumer. One consumes water so often and in so many forms, voluntarily and involuntarily, that it is absurd to set store by any cut-and-dried attitude of mind in regard to its use. It is useful, if not exhilarating, and moral conduct is the same. It means a vast saving in mental energy and makes available without the pains of specific acquirement the consolidated experiences of masses of people throughout long periods of time. No one praises moral conduct greatly: and none but a word-intoxicated simpleton plumes himself on acting immorally. When a man hears himself called moral he knows that he is being accorded that minimum of praise which almost suggests blame. Nor would he feel himself made more comfortable by hearing himself called immoral. Quite the contrary. The situation, as presumably it exists, is one which neither moral nor immoral will meet, and it is to answer this subtle requirement
that "honour" is born. Honour is a device of the moralists to escape the consequences of morality: from sameness, monotony, mediocrity, being the name given to estimates of actions conducted in the conventional sphere, but conducted with such a degree of intensity as to constitute a distinction which is conferred on the sphere itself. Moral conduct being customary conduct, it is in its very intention destined to be mediocre. It is the "usual thing," and honour is conferred when the "usual thing" is done with such an intensity of energy as to sublimate its non-distinctiveness into distinction. Such conduct intensifies the degree to such an extent that it appears to create a difference in kind. It embellishes the normal to the height of the exceptional and its reward is "Honour." One could illustrate by the analogy of fashions in dress. The leader of fashions is one who, by the definition as it were, sets great store by fashion: but in order to be distinguished in the realm of fashion a leader must perforce intensify every fashion before she is accorded distinctive honours in her line. And as a leader of fashion is to the ordinarily fashionable, so is the "man of honour" to the ordinarily moral. In dress it would involve a good deal of thought and no little inconvenience to avoid being fairly in the fashion. Fashionable clothes must be bought because the wares most easy to come by are just those in fashion. One falls an easy and acquiescing victim to the dead weight of environment÷and finds oneself in the fashion. But the superlatively fashionable must do quite differently from that. Much thought, time and comfort must be sacrificed before one can attain the dizzy pinnacle at which one is adjudged a leader and an adornment of fashion. A reputation of fashion is not won without some toil and exercise of pains. Nor is Honour. In both cases the efforts expended by the purchasers are the equivalents they are prepared to offer in exchange for÷public repute and applause.
Why the public is ready to negotiate is clear: not only in exchange for its gracious good opinion, is action taken which assists the public interest, but more than all it secures the embellishment of its most useful traditions. It may even manage to establish a new record upon the best traditional model, within the tradition itself. It is not for nothing that in war, for instance, the best quality of human material÷the freshest, hottest, and ripest are chosen. For these are the likeliest to spend themselves liberally in contributing new decorations to its roll of ''splendid examples," and so give the old tradition a new lease of life. Tradition renews its youth, if bathed in the fresh blood of the youngest and least restrained. The lives of the honour-intoxicated, is the only food tradition really thrives on: there exists an alternative÷its life or theirs. When tradition has dragged its long-grown trail about for any length of time it would begin to decay were it not for the decorative intensifying examples of young spirit, free to be squandered÷for Honour. Since then for Honour youth is willing to spend itself fully in the upkeep of tradition and since tradition is the people's choicest spiritual fare, Honour for expenditure is the people's obviously suitable exchange. So the "Rolls of Honour" swell and national pride expands and national safety appears a more secure thing. When the danger is past, the scrolls fade and grow faint: perhaps they will receive refurbishing now and then "lest we forget "÷when really they have forgotten. So much for the Honour given to patriots: though every other kind of honour which the people put up for sale has a like history behind it: someone has proved he can be useful and is accordingly to be called a "good fellow. "
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It is clear honour is wholly concerned with external verdict: an affair compact entirely of "repute": it is a matter of estimate: its existence is in no definite and permanent way dependent upon the quality of the deed which chances to secure it. The base upon which it rests, and to which all its seeming idiosyncracies must be referred in order to be made plain, is the opinion of the spectators concerning how a deed's consequences will affect them in their interests. Compare, for instance, the epithet "Cossacks" to-day and "Cossacks" a year ago.
Honour is born of the people, who accord it in return for signal favours rendered, not for power and spirit primarily. One may have put into tasks, courage, daring, effort, accuracy, and all the powers of a strong soul, without creating an honourable reputation, or an honoured work. Quite the contrary, in fact: the work may be dishonoured and despised as the life-history of in-ventors, explorers, discoverers, and overcomers, in every field of activity could prove. The so-called standards of honour; the phrases "sense of honour" and "principles of honour," are part of the invasion of the language, by a pseudo-scientific slang. What is called a sense of honour is a fine scent for neighbours' approval and disapproval. The "man of honour" is one who will not allow himself to come short of the maintenance of other peoples' good opinion for himself. He is the man who accords the opinions of his neighbours the foremost place in his estimation of values: they are his first concern. The "sense of honour" is a sentinel, advising a man of the nature of condition outside: it belongs to the armoury of fear and caution rather than that of adventurous exercise of power. Though it will often urge men to deeds of distinguished valour, it is prompted by fear rather than courage. The advocates of honour endeavour to put emphasis on the fact that a "sense of honour" is held to by preference: as undoubtedly and obviously it is; what they will not care to enlarge upon, are the motives which prompt the preference, or the nature of those things in relation to which the preference is made. A "sense of honour" counsels a preference for "esteem" rather than for the risks of prosecuting an egoistic interest. That is why "honour" and "self-sacrifice" are always sandwiched together. As a matter of fact "honour" and "self-sacrifice" are as self-indulgent as egoistic enterprise, but not so daring; they make evident in contrast to the more obviously egoistic
man's activity, differences as to their estimation regarding the whereabouts of the sources of pleasure. Both sorts are in pursuit of self-satisfaction but the "man of honour" apprehends that such satisfactions as he can be happy with, must all be stamped with the people's approval. Popular opinion is the sieve without filtering through which no line of activity is open to him. Which of course limits his sphere of activities enormously. Nine-tenths of the suggestible modes of action are forbidden him as dishonourable: sacrilegious. He has become the slave of a highly fickle and forgetful master. That he has become so, gives a gauge of his spiritual weight.
As to the "principles" of honour so-called, ÷these vary as the demands suggested by the varying needs of the people vary. "Principle" of course, is the forgivable bombast of the hard-driven advocates upon whom falls the difficult task of making extremely fickle and unstable requirements appear immutable and sacred.
There are no fixed standards of honour: since honour is esteem, the only stable "principle" upon which honour can be based is this: that the individual shall at all costs make his conduct such that it shall be thought well of at the time, by the majority of those among whom he lives. The one means of arriving at any "standard of honour" is to ask "Does the public approve" ? If it does the act is honourable and honoured. Why does it approve ? Because its turn has been served, either as regards its safety, its pleasure, or its profit.
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The transitoriness of honour: its puff-like qualities which allow the patriot whose early path was "roses", roses all the way" to find himself "going out alone in the rain to die," or Crimean veterans limping out their last days in the workhouse, furnish the salutary illustration of the truth that a man may not set out to win honour by making himself the servant of the public interest and then expect to find himself in the end, not its servant but its master. Men who desire public honour the public holds at its mercy: and it keeps them in perpetual thrall: a breath can make or unmake that which is their moving impulse: their reputation. Their behaviour is what the public pleases: they can only hope to receive its gracious but intermittent favours by perpetually feeding it: and even then they are not sure of it. To command public favour and make it faithful is not in the role of the man of honour but of those of the napoleonic species÷the only ones who can bring public opinion to heel. These win the power to command public favour because they have first flouted it÷dared its censure÷and proved themselves able to forego it and yet to prosper. Before they "arrive" they have risked what the man of honour never dared to risk÷the public's blatant censure. Their power over it dates from days when there stood nothing but their own wits and skill to deter the crowd from crushing them. When they have conquered it, honour÷in the humbled garb of respect÷comes licking their hands: it has been brought to heel as it never could be by the "man of honour," who sets it up as more than master: as a god. It has been made a property÷one's own÷by virtue of one's small account of it.
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The character of one's greatest pleasures is the key to the difference between the two attitudes of mind÷the egoistic and the honourable. An inquiry into the nature of pleasure would reveal much that is at present baffling in the ways and woes of men. For the purposes of this present inquiry, pleasure may be defined as the sensation of expanding power, and gives satisfaction to desire in direct ratio with the amount of expansion it allows. Into the sphere in which men feel their abilities are best able to come by this, they will direct their energies. The extent to which one can pour oneself into a thing: the amount of oneself which a thing will take and the degree in which it will take it: the completeness with which one can wrap oneself about a thing in the fulness of one's power: these considerations constitute the basis of pleasure. That "pleasures" are in disrepute is merely the judgment of pleasure on "pleasures." Their disrepute grows out of the fact that the satisfaction they
give is brief and limited. The more one may become involved, the greater is the pleasure: whether in love or in work it is the same. The disappointment of "realisations" is the outcome of the mistake of looking to the wrong stage of a process for satisfaction, i. e., when it is finished instead of when it is in progress. Satisfaction is a process not a state, evolving during the exercising of the means and not from the "end." Goethe pointed out the mistake of being so concerned about the end as to forget to rejoice by the way. The man who is dependent on honour is at this disadvantage as compared with him whose interest is in the action and not in the opinions regarding it. Moreover, dissatisfaction in an interest begins to show when it becomes clear that it will throw part of one's power back÷rejected. Which explains why powerful men create napoleonic interests, i. e., interests in which they are their own masters and prime-movers.
The statement that a man's honour is in his own keeping is a smooth gloss, it is certainly "up to him" to keep the favour of the crowd if he wants honour, and when he does keep it, it is by giving the crowd to understand that he is attempting that. Hence, for strong people, the honour of the crowd is a thing to be looked at askance, unless one is paying nothing for it. They realise that the crowd is exacting: it loves you because you persuade it that your life's energy is being devoted to its well-being, and it requires to be kept continually aware of the fact. And the devotion must be in the way it desires and not as you desire. The patriot wishes to "give" himself to his country: of course he does: it is the completest form of pleasure. But then the country is not concerned about this giving of a man's self: the only activity in relation to which one is able to do that is one over which he exercises exclusive authority. What the country wants of any man is just what it wants and not what the "patriot" would best love to expend: his powers. A country does not conceive itself the receptacle to receive anything which one considers one's best, but only for what it considers best for it. The sorrows of the disillusioned "patriot" and the "realisations" of the "man of honour" that his honour lies in other's keeping constitutes what they are pleased to conceive as the tragedy of the "noble," overtaken by the ingratitude of the "base." Certainly it represents the differences between fact and the fancies of the honour-ridden mind. It represents its "just" returns, for men try to win good opinion by obviously easy means, and, if successful, are assured of the quickest returns. One does not thereby say that the expenditure of a man's self÷as much as it will allow him to expend÷in the furtherance of a "cause" (i. e., the kind of interest which every man of honour, at the outset, thinks he holds the reins over, only to find that it has run away with him), is itself devoid of effort: only that it is effort exercised under conditions which ease all the strain of difficulty. It is effort made to the sound of applause: a music involving a difference like that which the strains of a band make to the toilsomeness of a long march: conversely, acting against public opinion is like tramping along solitary, dusty roads in heat and weariness. But in the end the upkeep of the favourable conditions has to be heavily paid for; they demand a constant allegiance and the wealth of "sacrifice" must always be made to appear equal to its equivalent In the long run it makes all the difference between one man's power and another's, whether at the outset one dares to chose the harder way. It is not a matter of toil, nor yet of endurance: both kinds must toil and endure. Where they differ is in regard to the weight they place upon the esteem of their fellows: in how long they can wait for it: how they set about minimising the crowd's powers to do them damage if they ignore it. It really furnishes another instance of the exercise of initiative and responsibility which we saw, created the difference between employers and employed in a lower
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There has been an attempt in a ramshackle philosophy to identify the Napoleons with the Heroes: successful exploiters of public opinion with public opinion's un-
questioning supporters÷the men of honour. It is a confusion of "Runners of Hobbies" with "Leaders of Causes," the Masters of the people with Leaders of the People. (The last accurately should have been the "led" of the people, but let that pass.) The confusion makes itself obvious when it seeks an expression in terms of Morals, where the heterogeneous types endeavour to find refuge under the guise of "Master-morality." Whereas the entire success of delineation of the Napoleons÷the unscrupulous men and of the "man of honour"÷the scrupulous, depends upon the recognition of the clear-cut difference between the attitudes of the two.
It is a mistake to credit the "Great Unscrupulous" with a contemptuous regard for moral conduct. To believe that they despise or knowingly repudiate in their own lives apart from their strongest interest the "slave" morality of their age, credits them with a higher degree of comprehension than they possess. The sinister character of all-knowingness with which they are invested after the event are bogeys created out of animosities aroused before their success has had time to allot them an accredited place in the scheme of things.
In all sincerity the unscrupulous would tell the moral tale as piously as our Cliffords and Meyers. They "believe" in morality and fully recognise its usefulness in every sphere apart from the line of fulfilment of their own premier hobbies. They see the usefulness of moral conduct in others so clearly that if only success could be won that way they would themselves doubtless be quite moral. It is with reluctance that they permit their hearts to harden against the moral scruples which would block their own forth-right course. They do not make the mistake of pleading that their own conduct could be worked into a system and made into a morality ÷"master" or other.
They know their genius consists in their ability to seize on the exceptional: when the exceptional wears down into the usual, to win success they will be driven to abandon it for a new exception. They succeed just because others do the moral, i. e., the usual thing while they do the exceptional.
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Naturally, therefore, the instinct of the Unscrupulous calls out as loudly as any other against the "immoralist," so-called. The immoralist introduces the element of uncertainty into things and is as trying and difficult to the Great Exploiters as an erratic and incalculable machine: he is a thing to be scotched as a foe to utility: the quality which the Unscrupulous are on the alert for in all their fellows.
So that there arises an intense and sincere body of feeling against the immoralist, in all quarters which generates a common desire to be rid of him. The difficulty of the successfully Unscrupulous in exploiting him added to the fear which he arouses in less powerful persons results in a general consensus of opinion which paves the way for those supernatural agencies which the preachers and teachers and authority in general invoke for his destruction and of which they make such effective and artistic use. The measure of wrath of the ordinary person reinforced by the anathemas of the Great, all directed against immoral conduct gives to each individual such a salutary notion of consequences that ordinarily they are adequate to put the immoral well under the ban.
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Impulses must be strong or intelligence weak before a stepping aside from the accustomed path is tried. These digressions occur mainly at the top and bottom of spiritual competence with the unusually strong and unusually feeble-minded. Contempt for inability reinforced by a sense of outraged convenience mixes the pitch of disrepute reserved for the pettily immoral: whereas fear which execrates all the more loudly because it dare not despise is reserved for the egoistically immoral, while these are still uncrowned by signal success. When their necessary ÷ if reluctant ÷ immorality has exploited the crowd's morality to the point of being successful it is able to command the respect of those whose honour it never stooped to woo.
They can then set a new fashion if they so desire: the founders of religions and empires. Usually they content themselves with a few snips at the moral cloth, on the whole leaving customs very much what they were. * * * *
The attitude of the Unscrupulous becomes clearer by halting to consider the meaning of Scrupulous. To be scrupulous means to be uneasy, doubtful, hesitating: etymologically, a scruple is a sharp jagged stone: a scrupulous person is one who treads gingerly on a path made jagged by considerations innumerable of doubt and fear and concern. The unscrupulous are such as are either so tenuous that their spiritual substance offers no body resistant enough for consideration of consequences to take hold of it, as is the case with the feebleminded: or so tough and robust that it presents a hardness of surface which is more than able to defeat the jaggedness of the path. Now the effect of a strong interest always is so to harden the surface of contact to all considerations alien to itself (compare this war) that one gradually becomes immune to fear as well as to difficulty. Strong interests cancel all considerations and all fears, but they do not on that account belittle the effect of fears and difficulties on other people whose interests are feebler. To do so would be to deny one's own superiority: accordingly "scruples," fears, are recognised and loudly applauded since it is through their influence all round that he who is free from them is enabled to make headway by comparison. As a matter of fact, too much knowledge of motives tends away from success in action: or rather it tends to alter the kind of success striven after.
The play of intelligence creates a comedy which sur-passes in interest the more usual game of acquisition; of material. A superlatively great philosopher is provided with fun enough for a master-hobby merely in watching the blind-man's buff which the spectacle of things makes. In pressing forward to secure further acquisition of knowledge of motives rather than acquisition of goods he will often let the struggle for power through things slide. Moreover, too much knowledge tends to make one talk too much. Hence; the popularity of "modesty" amongst "worldly" people. To talk too much÷to tell too much÷is bad for certain kinds of successful action. It gives too much away. Analysing an opponent's case, for instance, throwing the tale of his weakness against him, is really fighting his case for him. It is putting one's intelligence at his service, and of this, in spite of pig-headedness he is likely to profit in some degree. Moreover a man with anything short of unlimited courage is hampered by seeing his own motives spread out too clearly. In short, Napoleons are not created out of their consciously adopted course of immorality: but out of a concentrated strength of
interest which enables them to override deep-grained custom in a limited area of activity, while at the same time they are able to rely on a corresponding inability of the majority of their fellows to do aught save tread warily÷scrupulously÷therein.
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The wide difference in the nature of the "success" which attends the two types÷the Honourable and the Napoleonic÷might have been expected to save philosophers from the mistake of confusing the two, and attempting to block out a so-called Master-morality especially applicable to both. Its failure to do so is probably due to a hypnotising shyness which appears to overtake those who philosophise on Morals, and of which the main result is to cause them to slur over and ignore the meaning of morals, i. e., custom. They are, doubtless, the more inclined to do so on account of the fact that the identifying of morals with custom seems to rob their subject of its portentousness: its observance of its virtue, and its violence of its heinousness. But whatever the cause of their obvious malcomprehension of the nature of morals, one of its primary consequences has been to invest the different kinds of success which accrue to the "Honourable" and the "Egoistic" with a bewildering confusion. People are unable to comprehend why the "rewards" apparently all "go wrong," and they incline to attribute it to some inherent perversity in the scheme of things: the tricks of a devil so to speak. Yet comprehend morals and the relation of the Honourable and the Napoleonic to morals and the whole story will smoothly unravel itself. Morals are the steady calculable base of conduct which the Honourable serve in order to maintain this base in all its stability, but which, on the other hand, the Napoleonic contrive to make serve them. It is the old antithesis of Exploited and Exploiter: the Good (for morals), but dull: the Dangerous (for morals), but intelligent. The former are pleased÷for a consideration÷to constitute the ephemeral pieces in the Spectacle, the devising and engineering of which makes the amusement of the latter. The Honourable are the rockets which fly high÷and flicker out÷to the thrilled admiration of the crowd. (The flickering out is an important part of the Spectacle: only when they are ready to give their lives for the Cause are the would-be Honourable really it). The Napoleonic find their more prolonged thrill in organising the display letting the fireworks off. The aims and capabilities of the trio÷ Napoleonic, Honourable and Crowd÷work in well together: it is even to be noticed that they are usually on very good terms with each other. Sinister? No! Non-self-awareness in the two parts and half-awareness in the third.
An inadequacy of intelligence all round, but of which inadequacy the differing degrees make up an impressive light and shade.
VIEWS AND COMMENTS.
NOW that one may hear "freedom" applauded loudly in high places, one may speak a few words in mild reason about it and its friends÷those loquacious "wee frees." The world is composed of these, plus the freedom resisters: The difference by which one may know them is that while both may shout "Freedom" on the ecstatic note, the resister will say " 'Freedom' ! And we are it," while the friends of freedom can merely say "Freedom! Ah, would that it were ours." Resisters keep their references to freedom for rare occasions when stirred to emotion by their own greatness, goodness and general self-satisfaction÷as now. The friends of freedom, however, never cease from their crying: the wail after that freedom which is not theirs, is their meat by day and night: if one may be generous and call a smell of a roast÷meat. Did one not know the sickening effects of satisfactions deferred, one could humorously jeer at these ineffectual desirers, who have come to regard the attitude of supplicants as a credit and an ornament. Instead of jeers, therefore, one accords them pity: whereon their pride is in being
pitiful. Their relation to "Freedom" is like that of some humble admirer who adores from afar, endowing the unfamiliar one with all the charms of the unknown, though wholly unconscious of their character: even of the qualities which make their charm for those familiar with their ways.
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It would not seem that the foregathering of supplicants would be able to offer many very great attractions: yet, oddly enough, the "cause of freedom" wins much capable youth to its flag. Misunderstanding must exist somewhere: a clamour which is the adult equivalent of the infantile howl, requiring no ability beyond lung-power and pertinacity, is not attractive in itself, yet "freedom" attracts, and nothing will suffice to shatter its attraction, until one can stand outside the "Cause" and weigh up its meaning. That alone, damages the veil. Strictly, "I am free to" means "My power is able to," and this meaning, in accuracy, is pertinent to every phase of "free" activity, whether of acquisition, domination, suppression or abandonment. "Being free"
is a matter of possession of power, therefore: why then has the "cause of freedom" resolved itself into an onslaught÷into endlessly reproachful tirades÷against the iniquities of the possessor of power? A most wasteful expenditure of energy on fruitless means ? For at what do they aim? They want power, and instead of husbanding carefully what they have, while it grows from little to more, they spend their all in a reproachful demand for the favours of those already in power: in making claims for favours which they call "Rights."
Hear one of their most spirited on the subject "All men are entitled to that equality of opportunity, which enables them to be masters of their own lives, and free from rule by others... all men are called on to resist invasion of their equal rights...," and this, if duly carried out, we are told, "will kill monopoly." Doubtless! Here then is to be found the basis of reproach. Freedom lovers÷those desiring a power, not theirs, believe they are "entitled" to the same. Probably the five virgins, whose lamps had no oil, thought they were entitled to the oil in their companions'. This matter of entitlement is the subtlest delusion ever conceived for the confusion of ineffectuals. What can entitle save power÷competence? And what can others do to one's competence save ratify its relative effects by their acquiescence? The reproach of the advocates of freedom is that the powerful do not confer on them their power or use it in their interests. This, they believe themselves entitled to demand, and are injured when they are not gratified÷these imaginary rights. Looking about for something to base them on, they have hit upon: Consensus of opinion, the opinion of the mob: that multitude of units with powers similar to their own. Consensus of opinion is a very useful thing: a good bludgeon in the hands of the simple, and an easy subject to exploit under the manipulation of the powerful. It frightens the already frightened: the frightful÷those whom the freedom-lovers hope to scare off by it÷know the very narrow limits of its horrific powers, since they are constantly making use of them for themselves. Consensus of opinion is not going to be of much service to the seekers after grounds of entitlement. On what then do they fall back? They fall back on bluster and the sentimental.
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An infant tries to get what it wants by howling vociferously for it. The fuss and inconvenience which it is thus able to make constitute its power. This power is competent, however, only on account of a prior competence: its hold on the affections of its guardians. Howling would receive very short shrift without that: a howling dog would very soon be put out of the way. Now the friends of freedom make bold to raise their clamour, almost wholly on the strength of its inconvenience, unbacked by a corresponding hold on the affections of those who have to put up with it, and under these circumstances the lot of the emancipators, so-called, speaks volumes for the patience and forbearance of the empowered. Perhaps there is a modicum of caution in this too÷a faint apprehension that in spite of the evidence to the contrary, the clamour may not limit itself merely to the aggravation of sound: the wailers may have a more adequate competence in process of evolving. Certain it is, however, that the latter have been permitted to clamour for so long, unmolested, that the recognition of their "right" to do so has become one of the main planks of their platform. Any infringement of the "rights" of "free speech," or free assembly is now regarded as sacrilege against freedom. At any attempt to interfere with them there is no end of bluster; yet it is obvious that the bluster must be patently empty. A man stands on a stump on a public place, anathematises the State, in so doing possibly rousing the wrath of most of his audience, as well as the suspicion of the officials of the State. Now his claim for "free" speech is this: the officials of the State against which he is haranguing, shall in the first place protect him from the anger of the populace, and in the second, shall refrain both from preventing him continuing his harangue, and from retaliating with any form of punishment on the count of its own vilification. It is,
of course obvious bluster, though, if one carries it off with an air, as one usually can in these word-sodden days, who shall say a word against it? Not we at any rate. Merely, to youths who are interesting and earnest, one would point out that to rely on power of this sort is to rely on the fifth-rate variety, which will let them in at one point or another. Based on a clever word-trick it will succeed here and there, and particularly so when nothing of importance depends on it: but when anything really vital is at stake, the swagger will crumble out and it will shrink to its accurate dimensions. It will then reveal how illusory its former triumphs were.
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For instance, when a State does allow the "right" of the various "frees," it is for reasons of interest÷its own. Perhaps it realises that discontent, like a rash, is better out than in. It reveals its nature all the better. So, moreover, discontent is given the chance to run itself off in talk. And the stronger the State the more "liberty" it can allow: it need not shatter the first tiny little fist that shakes itself against it. To appear generous tactfully veils the fact how "just" it can be: and when a great State is just to its enemies they realise their lives are not their own: how little then their liberties. It would, therefore, ill accord with a body whose power is so overwhelming to be fussily sensitive in regard to the indiscretions of its wilder members. Free speech forsooth: allowed speech, and allowed on the balance of considerations which have nothing whatever to do with the fanciful "rights" of the permitted one. The only speech which could be "free," in the accurate sense, is that of the all-powerful ones: Napoleon might have spoken freely÷but, he had too much sense. The Kaiser might have accepted a tip in this direction with advantage. And any man who invested his entire interests in the "cause" could be quite "free" in one speech before he died÷in his last. In brief speech, press, assembly, love, are all "free" when they have power enough behind them to foot the bill, when the consequences fall due.
* * * *
Apart, however, from the deluding assumptions based on the word "free" in the popular instance cited in the foregoing, it remains to be pointed out that the word is one of which the actual meaning forbids its being allowed to roam at large. It is meaningless unless limited by a qualification. It is worth while detailing the main features existent in the attitude of mind which makes use of the word "free." Rhetoric apart, when it is used spontaneously, it is always in relation to certain specific spheres of activity in which one considers oneself "free." One is not "free" as regards the "universe," but free in relation to this and that: where this and that represent specific circumstances which can be regarded as potential obstacles. The notion of an obstacle is a salient feature in the state of mind which makes use of the term "free." In the second place, but constituting a still more salient feature, is the notion of possession of power in a degree competent to make the obstacle of non-effect. And in the third there is the element of comparison between the present actual condition where power more than equates obstructions and another condition remembered or imagined in which the powers possessed were not adequate to the effective degree. Now it is because of the fact that anyone of these features can be emphasised to the exclusion of the rest which explains the otherwise puzzling phenomenon which the presence of persons of spirit and intelligence in hopeless entanglement with one or other of the "Freedom" propagandas offers. It explains, moreover, the genesis of these highly differing propagandas. By the features which they chose to ignore or emphasise their relative spiritedness may be gauged. It is, for instance, by a rigorous ignoring of the first feature, i. e., the particularity of application requisite to the meaning of "free," that the numerically strongest battalions of freedom-lovers are recruited. For, by ignoring it, they are enabled to make the meaningless abstraction of which the result is the concept "freedom" itself. They have poured out the precise meaning, and are left with
any empty vessel constructed out of the mere label÷ Freedom: which, like Mesopotamia is a word of good sound.
The sentimental, the gushers, the rhetoricians, orators of all sorts, hypocrites, hangers-on, every brand of human, provided they run easily to slop, rally to augment this goodly lot.
By ignoring the second feature÷the actual possession of power as the condition of the "free "÷those who are rallied to freedom's cause by the aggrandisement of the "whine" are roped in. They are won by the prospect of apotheosizing "talky-talky": by the big sound of Inherent Rights. The democrats, socialists, humanitarians, anarchists÷embargoists of all sorts÷row in this galley. This ignoring of the second feature leads naturally to a special emphasising of the third: the emphasis on "conditions." Thus, the particularised character of obstacles which the first variety of freedom-lovers find it attractive to ignore, receives from this last class their entire attention.
A parentally-anxious removal of obstacles becomes the ideal of the modern saviours of society: in fact, the only articulate theory of modern social and political activity works out at just this. What are "democratic" leaders, the "emancipators," concerned with but with their lists of "obstacles to be removed," and the successful invoking of the assistance and assent of the more powerful in the job, for which the power of the masses is inadequate? The essential thing÷power in oneself÷ is waved aside as tainted with the soulless harshness of feelingless drivers. These indulgent, freedom-loving, social grandmothers have not been satisfied with a mere sparing of the rod: they have persuaded the children that it is inhuman to use rods or harbour them. When, for instance, an effective rod appears ÷ as now ÷ in powerful hands, a mellow-tongued friend of freedom÷ that popular leader of popular causes, emancipator of the people, what not: Mr. Lloyd George tells the people how he has military authority for it that such a rod could only appear in the hands of one possessing the "Soul of the Devil": the retort to which is, of course, "Mind of a Midge!"÷argument of kind with kind.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1st, 1914.
WHY WE ARE MORAL.
By DORA MARSDEN.
ALTHOUGH ÷ and as we have many times explained÷morals are modes of conduct which have become customary, and the intent of the passionate rage in support of the moral is to shield these customs from anything which may cause them to vary, this exposition does not explain why these modes, primarily special and particular, adapted to serve the interests not of All but of a Few should have become customary for All: so much so in fact that the guardianship of morals is in the safest hands when it is left to the fierce partisan feelings of the "Crowd." Before going into the psychology which explains this problem, so perplexing on the surface, it is advisable to indicate a nice distinction which has come to exist between kinds of conduct to which, in popular usage, is given the term "Custom," and conduct equally customary but to which the term morals ordinarily is given.
Custom is habitual conduct, but to the observance of which public opinion attaches small weight either by way of approval or disapproval. The emotion which failure to observe it calls up is, in the main, surprise, not the blind, passionate rage which the bulk of people show at the infringement of morals. Its observance or otherwise is left to individual whim; judgment as to its benefits or disadvantages is left to the caprice of private opinion. It is a habit which lies open and unprotected from vulgar inquiry and personal individual tests of its value. Its valuation is not fixed though its observance be wide-spread and general. What separates Morals from Custom (popular version) is the value which Authority (which commands public opinion) sets upon the habit's significance. If the reference is to customary conduct of which the continuance is necessary for the maintenance of the power which keeps the articulate class in authority, such conduct is carefully extracted from its association with mere customs and elevated by Authority to the plane of the Sacred by the laying of the Taboo on all discussions as to its
origin and the fundamental nature of its motives, so that in time it comes to be regarded as the Mysterious, the Occult, the Supernatural, the Divine. Whereas customs are exposed and open to valuation, their ancestry apparent and their future the possible victim of whim and caprice, morals are kept unsullied from the common and mundane touch and their origin and valuation one may question only under pain of becoming impious and a blasphemer. Naturally many customs are on the fringe between the status of Customs and that of Morals, a fact to which elegant if delicate young intellectuals owe many hours of exciting and dangerous sport. The debating clubs of the Literary and Philosophic Societies and of the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Society, of the Y. W. C. A. 's, not to mention the Smart Set and the Cranks: what violent intellectual striving has given these birth if not the desire to settle points of such cosmic significance as the Right and the Wrong of church-going, theatre-going, gambling, racing; of those crimes or larks for women: smokes, bicycles and bloomers, dyed hair and paint? To decide whether these things belonged to the go-as-you-please realm of Custom or to that realm which supports the Cosmos high above Chaos ÷Morals, has provided occasion for the exercise of the strong and daring young wits of the last half-century.
* * * *
This popular distinction between Morals and Custom throws into relief the question which still awaits an answer as regards the genesis of morals.
If men have held to custom, common sense is ready to suggest that this is not due to accident, and if customs have been fostered it has been because÷ sheer ease apart÷the results which come from doing so are such as seem to serve their interests best. Did they not, the custom would surely if not speedily have been abandoned. And if not from a prescience of this willingness of men to abandon a custom pro-
ductive of disappointing results, what other motive would the authorities have had for taking measures to ensure such customs as they consider significant from the possibility of such a fate, by protecting them with that "Mystery" which results in their conversion into Morals. Customs are habits which may be kept up. Morals are customs which Authority insists must be kept up, good results or no. What, then, is the instinct, primary and fundamental as it must be to have held good for so long, which makes the great mass of people, the governed classes, not merely faithful to morals in face of their ill-effects, but faithful in an ardent and passionate spirit which does not seek to spare either themselves or those near and dear to them? The character and working of the inducements which are responsible for this seeming miracle, reveal how unerring is the instinct which leads men steadily to track down their major satisfactions through a whole complex tangle of conflicting considerations.
* * * *
The basis of any scheme of morals is altruism. The moral claim that its observance, against or in conformity to inclination is for "Good," obviously is prepared to demand the over-riding of the private "good" of him whose inclination is against it in favour of the "good" of those "others" who constitute the All: in which remote good the thwarted one is vaguely enjoined to believe that he will once again refind his own.
An element of strong, if vague, distrust of the belief that one finds one's interest served best in the good of All, does not encourage a close observer to seek for the clue of unswerving moral action in the influence of this generalisation: the Unity of Humanity. One is tempted rather to look about for definite egoistic rewards in altruism itself than to believe there exists so much solid weight in flighty conceptual stretches for the popular intelligence. What, then, does Altruism offer to these egoists of not-too-inteliigent an order? On its face value the theory of Altruism appears to be a tactful statement of the case for peaceful submission among the Dominated, and is made current by the powerful egoists who are the backbone of the dominant class what time it suits the latter's interests to remain at peace: that is, while refraining from those more violent forms of competition called war. It is the inculcation of the principle that it is wise to make peaceful terms with, and good friends of, those who have established a dominance by respecting their status, their interests and their wishes. That it is the dominated class which practises altruism whereas the dominant practise it only in so far as their necessities, i.e., their interests, permit them, in no way detracts from the weight of evidence which goes to prove its origin among the dominant: it merely supplies additional testimony as to the fine quality of the tact employed in its inculcation. Thus morality, i.e., the habitual practice of altruism made compulsory by Authority and Public Opinion, is part of the great game of egoistic war÷the interplay of interests÷which ebbs and flows ceaselessly wherever life is. In that warfare, however, morality represents such a distinction as to method that it is convenient to label it separately and allocate it to a niche of its own. Morality is the mode of warfare made use of during the "civil" periods, its role corresponding to the physical slaughter which is the mode when the warfare of civilisation gives place to a special kind of warfare ordinarily called war. The difference consists in the substitution of weapons÷of Words in place of Armaments. The nature of moral warfare necessitates a sort of seigeaction in place of the aggressive physical assaults of armed warfare. The moral concepts fence round the authoritarian class as effectually as, if not more than, concrete fortifications do a city; the action of these Sacred Words being not so much to withstand the savagery of an onslaught as to paralyse the forces of the enemy before he can lift up an arm against them.
Their effect, handled as Authority tactfully handles them, amounts to that of hypnotism: results not however due to a brilliantly conceived, conscious artifice or planned contrivance of means to purposed ends on the part of the dominant: but of a semi-conscious exploiting on their part of an elementary human instinct too
obviously in existence for its possibilities to be ignored. On the other hand the practice of altruism as opposed to its theoretical exhortation, subserves urgent egoistic needs on the part of the second-rate egoistic powers. If its observance by the dominated serves the egoism of the dominant inasmuch as it spares their energies from the necessity of constant reassertion of superiority, it spares at the same time the vanity of the dominated. The "status quo" which at first blush was accepted through necessity and fear by the class which that "state" leaves subjected, is, thanks to morality, afterwards accepted in happy submission by dint of the tactful assaults which the moral concepts make on their vanity. Owing to the comforting hypnotism of "morality" and its "altruism" the submissively dominated are able to flatter themselves with the thought that the "Great" most scrupulously desire and strive after the formers' own special and particular "good": that these actually make themselves anxious on account of the state of their souls in addition to care for their temporal good; and. later, in return for the adoption of the course of action enjoined by the conceptual scheme÷action which always turns to the Good of the established, by the way÷they are rendered happier still by the sound of the inflating "well done" of their betters. It all works extremely well. Man is the vainest of the animals, and individual men are vain in inverse ratio to the stoutness of their spiritual stamina. The "Crowd" the Non-distinctive, the Majority being the vainest, the appeal of Morality realises its own special hunting-ground in their midst. The "Crowd" provide the country's moral backbone. They even make a boast of it. And sensibly enough since such Conduct as we arrange to live by, we arrange also to praise if we value our own comfort. And the adoption of Morality is as much a piece of distinctive human ingenuity÷a display of intelligence÷as is the adoption of Arms. That it is more definitely connected with the swagger of the dominated, whereas prowess in Arms is the swagger of the Dominant, need not necessarily induce the former to misprise the solaces of their class. * * * *
Tennyson somewhere sings, not without a gasp of surprise indeed at his unexpected discovery, of the speech which half reveals and half conceals the thought within. As far as the speech, which moral concepts are wrapped in is concerned, the poet has gone wrong in his proportions. Their whole intent is to conceal: and the motive is as purposive with those who practice them as with those who teach. That both sides are inarticulate and only semi-conscious does not detract from the superlative skill with which the set purpose is achieved. It enhances it rather. Moral principles resting on altruism, by a skilful sleight of hand conceal the fact that altruism is an illusion created to subserve motives wholly egotistic; that the interchange can be effected without raising a breath of suspicion, is due to the suffusing influence of one of the most fundamental elements affecting human emotion: to the action of vanity.
Vanity skilfully played upon goes a long way towards confounding even the soundest human judgment. As palpably as heat expands a gas, flattery expands the human spirit beyond the normal. It is this sense of expansion which causes men to feel pleasure; it is the sensation of conscious life in actual being: it is in fact the sense we call power. A flouting of vanity depresses spirit and creates despondency. Both actions÷inflation and depression÷tend to take place the more readily the flimsier the vital force on which repute acts, but it is probable that on no single intelligent human being can they fail to make some little variation. It is true that those who are concerned with their own self-initiated interests and with whom the powers which have play over their spirits are more self-centred and self-impelled, are less responsive to outside treatment. It happens however, that with the vast majority of men, obedience and imitation are the strongest springs of action. To be capable of acting from a self-interested motive is extremely rare. Hence it turns out that the balance of pleasure for most men must be come at by way of honour conferred by stronger and more definitely conscious
egoistic powers. The balance of satisfaction when all has been counted in fear of failure, fear of envy, of punishment, hostility, fear of lonelessness, and a deadening sense of uncertainty÷for the vast majority of men falls on the side of honour rather than on the other. Accordingly men's actions inevitably set towards Honour and the earning of Applause. Whereupon propitiation rather than aggression becomes their natural role. It becomes their virtue and all forces÷ men and things!÷which make little of propitiation÷ which is peace, love÷are their natural enemies. All things propitiatory become thereupon "good": propitiatory proposals, offers of peace, civility, mildness of temper, and all species of intra-mediation are "good": and those who make them are "good": and it is "good" to fall in with them. "Good," that is, for those who love Honour, for Morality, for the reputation of Altruism. Hence the moral demands find in these second-rate egoists a mind and temper ready prepared for them: those who desire to be persuaded are already waiting for those who will persuade them: the two come together by an inevitable attraction: the outcome of a natural desire to make use of each other. United, they make a compound hard and resistant enough to baffle all attempts to break in upon it: a nugget to break one's teeth against rather than to crack. Between the ardour of each for the other there is nothing to choose.
* * * *
There are unobserving persons who imagine that human beings desire a commodity which they call Truth. Now truth is a much-used word which may mean anything or nothing according as one is pleased to employ it: but allowing for the moment that it means what such persons imagine it to mean, i.e., a faithful description of passions and motives and of the relative powers among the individuals of a community, it is the crassest stupidity to think that people desire truth or anything approaching it. You, dear reader, don't want such truth about yourself. I, dear reader, won't have it about myself. The maximum quantity of this species of truth which you and I can stand is just as much as we are compelled to swallow from our own disillusioning experiences; and even this amount we prefer not to discuss with any, particularly not with familiars÷families and friends. But many of us are not averse from airing this truth as it relates to others: our rivals and acquaintances, though even here we must be content with a reasonable amount: penetration must not penetrate too far because instinctively we are aware that some short distance beneath its surface-layer the fabric of truth is in one piece: lower than a certain depth the same fabric covers us all; penetrate inwards too deeply and we all stand with our motives naked and exposed. And our motives are far more elegant clothed, as clothed they are. Men have clothed them partly, perhaps, on account of use and comfort, and partly because they have conceived a shame for them: a shame which is the reverse side of the cult of Honour in fact. Only the external motive÷ the altruistic motive÷is kept in evidence: the motive which was the motive of the show of altruism is concealed: instinctively men know that it is of the egoistic and dishonourable kind, and a poor specimen at that. Men would never indeed have fallen into the attitude which makes them ashamed of it had they not been aware that it was poor. Altruism is egoism at the second and tenth rate, adopted because of one's inability to make headway in the best. If men do not feel themselves possessed of the power to make themselves respected on account of their skill in getting what they want they compound in a purely egoistic bargain and become Moral. And serviceably and comprehensibly enough. The pleasure they will get from applause is likely to exceed any satisfaction they expect to get from enterprises initiated by themselves: and on show of the balance their egoism makes choice÷for a cloak of altruism. (The disadvantages they meet will form another story.) But because they are not proud of the necessity which forces them they conceive a quite sound detestation for the "Searchers for Truth": alongside their approval of the preachers of the Moral Ideal. They are suspicious of the
evidences of "Truth": they are not suspicious of the Moralist's praise: they have no need to be, because praise to them is an end in itself: it is what they want: the bona-fide exchange for the services they have rendered.
The Trojans were advised to be on their guard against the Greeks when they came offering gifts; and sensibly, because such gifts to the Trojans were of small concern: had these gifts been more to them than Troy itself what would there have been to fear in receiving them? So with the Moral, and the Dominated's reception of the praise of the Moralists. Their praise is Honour and Honour they have made into the crown of life: how should they then allow the prying chatter of so-called "Searchers for Truth" to endanger that which can confer on them their most desired boon: allow the spoil-sports and kill-joys a free hand amongst their own selected "good." And a moral community is not going to welcome with a shout of glad surprise a too closely probing inquiry into the reasons of morals! They consider it is enough that they are moral because it suits them, all things considered. And they are not prepared to regard it as good manners to inquire beyond a point what those things are. Their elaborate altruistic make-believe: their artificial moralist construction is built round about what for them constitutes the charm of life: subtly flattered vanity. The fact that it is all on an "artificial" basis: a verbal basis does not affect them: indeed the fact is lost sight of until civilisation gives place to war: when this base proves to have been not only artificial but a trifle flimsy.
Men find morality none the worse, i.e., it gives no less satisfaction because it is artificial than a picture or a novel does because it is artificial; the subtlest situations in life gather round just those things which are most frail at their foundations, assumptions which, by a tacit understanding are allowed for, but which are too perishable to be battered about in discussion. The artificialities of civilisations are not despicable because a sword may one day shatter all their delicate and subtle tracery; they are to be despised only when they fail in that which they set out to accomplish, i.e., to provide satisfactions equal to or greater than those which they might have attained by a more natural, i.e., a more frankly egoistic application of ability would have furnished. One would be for instance an ingrate, not to say a fool, to cavil at those aids to beauty which an ill-favoured human adopts to avert at least the repulsion of his fellows, just because they were artificial: if they serve their purpose. Very amusing, charming, important, and impressive are the things which are "artificial." Even a Krupp gun is artificial. In fact it is not artificiality which affects the question: it is utility. The measure of the value of artificialities like the measure of the value of everything else is gauged by the purpose to which they are set, and their efficacy in achieving that purpose. And purposes depend on the men who propose them: their spiritual size among other things. He is a sad and sorry man who seeks to frame a purpose bigger than he has the capacity to enjoy the achieving of. So a man with a passion for big schemes but without the capacity to effect them draws greater satisfaction from being a doorkeeper in the houses of the great than he could eating out his heart toiling at his own bench, the independence of which his taste cannot relish: it is, in fact, too independent for him. What he would gain in satisfaction, of course by so doing, he sacrifices in status: but then all satisfactions demand their price. When these are greater than our natural competence provides for we perforce let ourselves out into bondage if bent on securing them. Our too great wants and our too small abilities are the exploiter's opportunity.
* * * *
One begins to understand why cranks and their works come to so little. They have the misfortune to witness an indiscretion: one little brick in the wall of pretence has fallen away and one thin shaft of light has revealed egoism and duplicity at some point in the scheme of things. And for the rest of their lives they live in wonder and uneasiness at their own discovery. They
devote their energies to the blocking-out of that one gleam. They inaugurate a "propaganda." That it is but one thin pencil streak of an ever-shining sun-like orb does not occur to them. The world, to be sure, is heedless of their "discovery," and is in no way "upset" to meet their "exposure." Nor is it alarmed by those who cry out against "Cant." Though men do not clearly know, they instinctively feel that one who makes a fuss about "cant" does not understand cant. They feel it is not cant that is objectionable but poor cant: cant that is so badly sung that it fails in its purpose, i.e., the complete deception of those whom it is intended to impress. The way to deal with him who objects to cant is to ignore him or soothe him as the case may demand, but never to follow up his argument. The Church of Rome has the prescient understanding which knows this: it does not make the mistake of thinking that doubts can be laid to rest piecemeal. It knows its business and promptly anathematises doubt. It knows that the correct answer to all the arguments of the Devil is to kill the Devil. Nor is the World greatly put about by those who make light of its morals on the big scale: it forgives its Napoleons as soon as their immediate disagreeableness is forgotten and withdrawn: while as for the immoral on a small scale, men content themselves with administering the usual and necessary severe rebuke and punishment. It is a different person for whom they reserve their full implacable rancour. Napoleon at the close of a single century after his death is already held in honour more or less: but four centuries have passed since Macchiavelli wrote the "Prince," and he still remains "Old Nick." In fact, the Devil is a symbolic generalisation of all the injuries done to the Altruistic Interpretation by those who dare to crumble the moral concepts, and lay bare their egoistic foundations: so robbing them of their popular title to Honour. The Devil is the common spirit of all Blasphemers everywhere: Blasphemers being those who speak injuriously against the Sacred Words. The Blasphemers, are the figures drawn up in antithesis to those of the Heroes. A Hero is one who represents the sublimation-point of adhesion to the Divine; his distin-
guishing attribute is his close kinship with the Gods to whose greater glory his bold deeds minister: that is, he is one whose deeds establish the Word-System, the Moral-Scheme, the Altruistic-Good, by providing them with a supremely hypnotising Crown of Honour. * * * *
Of course the Moral or Altruistic Scheme holds good only within the limits of the particular community which has conceived its own sum-total of the "All" as the single Organic Unit. Morality can only find a place in a community in which the various factions have tried their strength, and have more or less contentedly accepted the verdict and settled down in their suitable classes as Servers and Served, Dominant and Dominated. When two such moral communities are at logger-heads and proceed to violent war, moral blandishments are at a discount. As it is not the common people÷the practisers of the altruistic and the moral÷who make international wars, but rather the dominant and more strongly egoistic classes, the warring parties do not attempt to address each other in terms of morals save in so far as it is necessary to spare the moral susceptibilities of their own respective following÷their respective crowds. Otherwise, in war, it is bluntly a struggle of Might against Might: and all the weapons of Might are pressed into service precisely in so far as they give promise of success, i.e., of crushing the opponent. But articulate spokesman of neither side could say as much openly because of the attentive ears of their followers as was said above: They know that sooner or later this specific kind of warfare, fierce as for the moment it is, will cease for a period and no matter which side wins or loses each will have to settle down in their own communities and make good once more the Altruistic Tale among their fellows. A wise economy, therefore, teaches them that though war compels them to stand face to face with all verbal veils withdrawn before the eyes of an acknowledged enemy, it is not necessary to destroy these veils. If they have no place in war they have a place of extreme importance among subjected peoples as long as ever the Dominant seek to perpetuate submission by dint of the artifices of peace: by Words in preference to the Sword.
VIEWS AND COMMENTS.
PEOPLE who are not interested in editorial personality may find no interest in the news that it is Mr. Bernard Shaw who is the animating spirit of that inanimate journal "The New Statesman." We were, however, and Mr. Shaw's avowal of identity was read with quite pricked-up ears. One had been told by those who it is supposed know everything that Mr. Shaw loathed the sheet, and that its commonplace pages caused him to writhe once per week in most agonising boredom, and now he calmly confesses that the spirit of this dull commonness is his own. Not that he puts it in so many words, of course, but he permits his recent pamphlet on the war to leave no possible shadow of doubt that he and it are one. The Webbs apparently have been unduly reviled: people accused them of a dullness so dull that it could extinguish the brilliance of even the "brilliant" Mr. Shaw. And all the time what was mistaken for a Webbian extinguisher was the real G. B. S.
The Shavian critics need to take themselves in hand and moderate their violence: for though a mistake has been made, the mistake is theirs. They have been raging against Shaw because he did not exchange at the value of a good sovereign, when all the time he was a perfectly sound sixpence. They mistook him for a thinker when he was actually a very keen and virile debater. He is representative of the Y. M. C. A. and the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Society at a pitch of excellency which is sublime. When he tries, not when he is writing unsigned articles in a dull journal, he is the perfect embellishment of the commonplace, unsurpassed adornment of the humdrum, bright and particular star among Fabians, in short.
When one says that Mr. Shaw never thinks but always debates one merely indicates the attitude in which he approaches all debatable affairs. When a question is considered open to debate it is implied that minds of fairly equal powers of penetration differ as to its import: a fact which to a thinker implies an ambiguity in the subject-matter as presented in the shaping of the question itself. Now a debater attacks such a question by insisting that the import is such and such as against other debaters who champion the differing interpretation, and a debate÷a mental tug-of-war÷ is set going in which each party endeavours to score points for its side over the other party. It thus causes rivalry, which explains why a debater can appeal to the sporting instinct: the instinct which is the animating element of every propaganda, i.e., the debating spirit in campaign making a bid for proselytes for its side. A thinker, on the other hand, refuses to be entangled in the debate, and heads direct for the ambiguity involved in the question. He thus destroys the grounds of debate, and is accordingly regarded as a spoil-sport which he is: for when a person is punctilious to state a question clearly, he has ensured the unmistakable character of the answer. Thus a debater is popular while a thinker cannot be. How one scores one's points is an affair for individual preference: there are scores of ways. Mr. Shaw is simple enough. Apparently he possesses a kind, gentle, timid, non-penetrative temper, comparable more to that of Mr. George Lansbury than any other public man of whom one can think. He is of the kingdom of love, and as a personal preference considers it desirable that all arms shall be intertwined and all hands clasped in love, exactly like Mr. Lansbury.
Only he possesses an energy combined with a much colder temperature of love, and accordingly the "hand of love" which he extends never has that squirm-inspiring warm but clammy touch which makes even the obtusest recoil for love's other propagandists. The sameness and the distinction are both made clear in his literary style. A perfectly commonplace sentence, the usual banal expression of the high-minded sentimental word-ridden Englishman is about to trail to its sloppy culmination when Mr. Shaw's energy suddenly outdistances it and blocks its current so that it bubbles up in violent energy in its last phrase which usually takes the form of a double-barrelled piece of invective. Whence the two good effects, negative and positive: avoidance of slop and an introduction of the element of surprise. Its very defect enhances the force of its appeal. Had not the sentence begun sentimentally one would not have noticed its absence at the culmination. Mr. Shaw keeps fully in with the humdrum in the entire substance of his matter, but saves his skin from the vengeance of the less humdrum by this especially welcome because unhoped for frisson of unexpectedness in its last note. Take his pamphlet, "Common Sense on the War," and see to what extent it supports the diagnosis of Mr. Shaw's "brilliance." The pamphlet is a quite commonplace belated string of debatingpoints and assumptions, the very acceptance of which at their face-value takes away any claim to penetration on the writer's part, yet it manages to keep the reader's attention secure by a constant succession of verbal pistol-shots.
Here are a few specimens of explosive effects used to round-up otherwise undistinguished narrative: ÷ "Godforsaken folly," "Silly gambling debts and foolish duels," "Psycopathic symptoms of overfeeding," "Inculcated insolence and sham virility," "Aimiable nincompoop," "Unscrupulous super-prig and fool," "Corrupted and half-atrophied consciences," "Pots-damnation," "Flagrant pharasaism," "Blasphemous farce," "Incorrigible hypocrisy," "Insensate methods," "Sheer lunacy," "Ethnological map-makers," "Militarist madmen," "Panslavist megalomaniacs," and there are hundreds more.
If to these sledge-hammer strokes are added little odd tricks like the transposing and inverting of well-known proverbs and tags, and an extremely skilful use of the concrete instance, particularly if this bears a good-sounding proper name, we are in possession of the glitter by which Mr. Shaw causes his flannelly arguments to sparkle. And no one will deny that such star-dust provides a very good journalism which is surer of its audience than the unadorned reasoning of the most penetrating mind in the world.
It is interesting to note what this habit of invective reveals in relation to the mental force which is reduced to it. It is the mid-way halt between a self-comprehending and an unconscious emotion: the first stage towards articulateness : the sign of the person who is set in a certain direction but who himself is not quite certain which. That is why there is always a sense of ineffectualness about the person who indulges in it. Instinctively it is felt that if a man knows his case well enough to state it, he would not content himself merely with "calling names."
* * * *
As for Mr. Shaw's reasons for issuing the pamphlet one gathers it is in the main due to the fact that the war would not be complete and fully authenticated did he not do so. This apart, the chief concern of his brochure is to "make our moral position clear": which means, dear reader, that he labours to find out whether we have a right to the good opinion of onlookers: also what would give us that right, what prevents us from having it, and so on. Which appears somewhat a work of supererogation, considering that we have already got this good opinion : and it would now be late in the day to be worrying about it even if we hadn't. Mr. Shaw, to be sure, is ready for this cry of belatedness and owns that he is liable to be accused of useless recrimination, but
retorts that "history consists mainly of recrimination, and I am writing history because an accurate knowledge of what has occurred is not only indispensable, etc."
By "history" one supposes Mr. Shaw means a statement of fact, and it must be confessed he is not the first journalist or debater to be deluded into thinking that "historical" facts are definite fixed quantities rather than a carefully chosen arbitrary selection of facts so culled as to support one's own pet interpretation of them. Had Mr. Shaw possessed the faculty of the thinker it would before now have struck him that even a single human fact is a doubtful quantity. Take the published correspondence of the negotiations immediately preceding the war, over his own interpretation of which Mr. Shaw grows quite excited. He here overlooks the fact, which elsewhere he finds it convenient to emphasise, that our diplomacy is secret and that this correspondence was intended for display purposes in the moment it was written. Mr. Shaw avows÷but grows no wiser from his avowal÷that diplomacy is secret to a degree which blue-book publications are powerless to affect. "I well know that diplomacy is carried on at present not only by official correspondence meant for possible publication, . . . but by private letters which the King himself has no right to read." Even should these more secret documents become open knowledge, what is to guarantee even that they present a faithful account of all the rock-bottom understanding and connivances which constituted the real interplay? Even in conversations clandestinely overheard one thing may be uttered and quite another looked, so that this elaborate assessing of the word "values" of Foreign Office documents presented for publication seems an exercise most fitted for the ingenuity of school-boys.
* * * *
Mr. Shaw seems quite worried because of our hypocrisy, which is odd since his entire pother is as to whether we are moral enough! As though Morality were not the elaboration of hypocrisy: the assertion of one thing in order to conceal another. He calls out against cant in a pamphlet which is all cant: the usual dilemma of an inefficient cantatist to be sure! He is so deeply concerned to make stupid Englishmen aware of the ignorance they display by confiding in trusting the broken Belgium Treaty case to realise that his own case could equally be smothered in sceptical derision. For he seriously sets out to tell us that England has gone to war for the sake of "Liberty," for "Human Solidarity," for "that Holy Cause," and to make "War on War," and then can be anxious about our hypocrisy! The sole unvarnished statement of what Englishmen did and of what they felt upon the declaration of War, could only be first, that they of course never went to war at all, but that their participation in it was made for them; but second, they promptly expressed themselves wholly satisfied with this vicarious move, and showed themselves anxious that matters should go on.
They fully believed that Germany meant to force a contest of powers with them at one time or other, and that being so no time seemed to offer more favourable circumstances than the present. Doubtless they realised, and still realise, that Sir Edward Grey could have postponed the issue by declaring that England would join France if the latter were attacked, but had he done so the supremely favourable opportunity might have slipped: and opportunities so golden seldom return. Hence popular opinion is to the effect that whatever the actual steps were which led up to the declaration, judged by the only standard by which issues leading to war can be judged, they were exceedingly successful. Therefore, any arguments they choose are good enough to justify the Foreign Office policy: that policy in itself they consider good enough to justify all "justifications" however feeble. Popular ignorance of the actual diplomacy employed is of no importance as long as the populace are not ignorant of what they really want: the only fatal kind of ignorance is to be in doubt about that.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15th, 1914.
GOODWILL TOWARDS MEN.
By DORA MARSDEN.
IT seems almost heartless to make Christmas the excuse for a dissection of the nature of Goodwill. All of us, in the main, will be satisfied to allow that Christmas goodwill is comprehensively covered by tips to the dust-man and the butcher's boy, the giving of small oddments to all those from whom one is in danger of receiving such, or as acknowledgment of unrequited favours previously shown. However time is too far spent to allow compunction to have effect, or to allow the editor to interfere. So let goodwill again go under the microscope: the "good" section first.
There is really nothing very baffling in the signification of the "good" in spite of the fact that the Nature of Goodness has become wrapped round in mystery, and has been the subject of seemingly endless disputes. It is odd therefore that Nietzsche, a psychologist by genius but philologist by profession, should have been at pains to apply his philology only in relation to the word "good," while failing to apply it in the score and one cases where philological enquiry would have saved his philosophy from a quagmire of confusion and contradiction. For the word "good" and its equivalents belong to what may usefully be called a primary ejaculatory class of words as distinguished from a secondary class, which would come under the heading of inferential. The characteristic of the primary class, and that which makes it the simplest to designate, and which makes philological enquiry in regard to their genesis unnecessary, though interesting, is that the frame of mind of which they are the spontaneous expression, is always in close temporal connection with the words which express it. They carry their origins with them: the water can be drawn at the spring. It is quite otherwise with the inferential class of words which represent a species of verdict passed as the deferred results of a long claim of inferences and judgments. Compare, for instance, the two types as exemplified in "good" and "moral" respectively.
The ejaculation "good" as an involuntary comment on a labour or an event, offers a concrete tally, for the observant eye, in the state of feeling which has given rise to it and accompanies it. There is no need to seek the nature of the thing in the derivation of the word, because the thing itself is there to be examined and weighed up. Thus the actual form of the expression loses, under such circumstances, much of its importance. A slap on the leg or a triumphant whistle would express the thing÷the condition of mind÷just as well as, if more vulgarly than, the term "good" itself. All three, however, are at one in expressing the thing : they all mean "satisfactory," which is the meaning of "good" and its equivalents in their primary sense, for all times and for all peoples. It means "This thing has gone well : gone as I wished it : it is satisfactory : satisfactory to me: satisfactory from my point of view," a meaning which adapts itself to such universal uses as completely to set aside Nietzsche's plea that ''good" originated as a descriptive label of the "noble." "Good" originated in the condition of the mind of any individual of any rank, when that individual was pleased with a result ÷no matter how momentarily÷or a turn of affairs ÷his or others÷which suited his own personal desires.
It is quite a different affair with the word "moral," which is inferential and anything but ejaculatory. No truthful observer could conceive himself spontaneously ejaculating the comment "Moral."
* * * *
It is plain that the acceptance of the meaning of "good" as the "satisfactory," as regards a given end, has not been allowed to remain in sole possession of the verbal field. Had it been, the entire structure of Religion, Morals, Public Opinion, and Honour, would have been to seek, since these rest not on the "good" which is the "useful," but upon
something which is called "the Good"÷a something pre-eminent among all other "goods," and whose satisfaction is claimed to take precedence before all others and even to these other's detriment. The origin of the "Supreme Good" must be regarded as a sequel to the trial of strength of individual powers to obtain individual satisfactions.
It was the genesis of this "Supreme Good" which Nietzsche confused with the mere "good" and for which he sought the clue in philology. Actually this clue must be sought in psychology proper. "The Good," as the "Supreme Good" comes simply to be called, means in a sentient world only one thing (and in a non-sentient world there can be no good at all, since there being no needs to satisfy, satisfaction of them is impossible, i.e., "good" is meaningless): that one sentient unit comes to appear in the eyes of the others as the supremely well satisfied: such a one as appears able to compel all things to go as he desires, and this in a degree possible to no other. In his power to enforce his own satisfactions he is without equal: his power is supreme, and his "good" which is his power's corollary is supreme to match. The possession of the "Supreme Good" simply means the possession of a Supreme Power: power being that which can effect the ends desired. The Most-Powerful having come to be recognised as "The Good," becomes naturally the "Authority": temporal and spiritual. The "Supreme Good" becomes the "God": God being He who has power to do as He pleases. Thus it is not so much that God is Good as that "The Good" is God: the essential character common in both being÷Great Power.
It is the trick of conceptual speech which enables "The Good" to be depersonalised: that is, makes it appear to be detached from the individual on account of whose power it originally took its name. When it is personalised again it appears as the "God," under which form its original character, i.e., the satisfaction of the strongest, is sufficiently disguised.... How a power which was not "good" for me becomes a "God" for me: how by calling a great alien "good" the "Supreme Good," hocus-pocus succeeds in hoodwinking those whose "good" is ignored or over-ridden by this Supreme One, is interesting matter for psychology. The element which goes farthest to explain it is undoubtedly the impressiveness of the workings of a great power itself.
Evidence of the possession of great power calls forth the involuntary admiration of those who possess it from those who are merely witnesses of it, and among these witnesses there is born a recognition of their own inferiority at sight of it. Even if the spectacle of great power itself does not make this inferiority obvious, its natural effects in the normal course of things will. It is, therefore, exceedingly easy to make the feebler believe that the more powerful have not merely the power to rule them, but have something which they conceive to be very different÷a right to. Accordingly, from being well able to satisfy themselves, the "Great" are enabled to persuade others that it is their "Duty" to keep them thus well satisfied: to concede that they not merely have to serve them, but that they ought to: that they should submit to a Duty as distinguished from and over-and-above Necessity. As far as the less powerful are concerned the recognising of this Duty leads to a substitution of "good conduct" of the primary sort by a species of "good conduct" of a secondary type: conduct which is assessed according as it satisfies not so much the actor as the adviser and admonisher: the Authority. Authority, that is the Powerful in their relation to the feebler, has now obtained the support of an Arm of Persuasion to back up the efforts of their original claim to command authoritatively÷by weight of the Arm of Compulsion. Much now will render its account to Honour which otherwise would have had to square itself with the "mailed fist." Public Opinion÷the instrument of Honour÷is thus bound up with the acceptance of "The Good" : the assumption that interests exist which it is more imperative should be served than one's own.
* * * *
It is scarcely possible to dwell too long on this vastly successful trick worked by according to "The Good" an absolute significance. The acceptance of the latter leaves the simple completely at the mercy of Authority as far as words are concerned. As long as it fails to be recognised that the "good" is an ellipsis of which it is the most pertinent feature which is left unbespoken, so long will Reason be able to argue the "rightful" subversion of lesser men's "goods" to the requirements of the more powerful. Reason is merely a calculation: the nature of the calculation depending entirely on the content of the assumptions it is permitted to take as granted. As far as the case of "The Good" is concerned, the assumption is that the satisfaction of the powerful is a more important concern for the less powerful than their own. Let it be reiterated what "The Good" originally is: the satisfaction of the most powerful. Naturally the more absolute becomes the power the more absolutely does it become the "Good," resulting in fact directly in the "God." The arrogation of Godship by the great emperors of antiquity is quite in keeping with the logic of the situation: in spite of its strong effect on "common sense" risibility. The God and the "Good" are discreet variants of the one thing: power recognised as Authority, whose satisfactions it is "The People's" Duty to subserve. The Gods under the pseudonym of the Authorities forcibly compel the feebler whose imaginations have been seized and auditory sense has been confused. Under their other pseudonym of the "Good" they seduce the hearts of these "subjected" and take the heart out of rebellion. The age-long seduction of The People is Honour.
* * * *
Honour÷Repute is the first defence of Rulers. It would be a pity to let a mistaken estimate of snobbery interfere with the accurate assessment of the weight of Society's opinion (Society with a capital S that is). Society is the concourse of satellites which shine round about a throne, and the throne is the earthly symbol of the God. The throne is the terrestrial fountain-head of "The Good"; of its smile are born Good Repute, Good Opinion and Honour, and of its frown, the Disreputable. Because these satisfy and fail to satisfy the Most Great. An exceedingly thin and superficial layer of "democratic" opinion experiments with the pretence that this is not so and inveighs against "snobbery." Democratic thinking is an affair too slender to grasp that Opinion is a veritable ocean of which what it conceives as Opinion is but a faint surface ripple. Of the existence of the almost unfathomable deeps of Opinion's waters, democratic thinking has been too frivolous a thing to be aware. And it is Society which has created the deeps of Opinion. It can so afford to be very indulgent regarding surface ripples, and can even join in democracy's soft impeachment of Snobbery. Society÷those who move in the bright circle of a throne, and who are intimately concerned to retain its beneficent esteem, has created Opinion. It has provided the professional classes: the classes which, as their description implies, are responsible for the speaking forth of judgments on things. After having provided the directing forces of the Compulsory-Arm: the armed forces of the throne, in which actions speak even louder than words, it supplies the mouthpieces of the Persuasive-Arm: of the institutions which provide the word-pieces of civilisation and culture: The Law and the Church. These are the institutions whose intent is to preserve in their integrity the full claims of "The Good." That democratic word-twisting has tended to combat the influence of the Church by ousting the Gods in favour of Morals, in no way implies that any real inroad has been made upon the ancient standards of opinion created by the Church. Names have changed: the intention has remained, intact and undiscovered. To favour Morals rather than Religion is merely to have a penchant for an additional vowel: for the "Good" (the powerful) rather than "The God" (the powerful): a one Authority labelled twice, with equal intent in either case to addle the instinct for the "good" in its primary sense when still unpolluted by clever sophistication. Of both,
Honour and Dishonour are alike the instruments. Public Opinion, with its "well done" and its "ill-done," guards both: and the Ruling Classes are the founts of all these forms of opinion: honour, dishonour, and all the shades which fall between.
Such conduct as makes for Order and the Maintenance of Power they label as "good": such being "good" for them. For the subjected, the word-addled, it is "good" for "The Good": a Duty therefore. The Persuasive-Arm has done its work: with superlative skill, craft and guile the professional classes have done the business and sunk the well of Opinion very deep: so deep that they have deluded "The People," not excluding themselves, as to its sources and resources.
The enormously wide growth of modern democracy is, in fact, the most flattering testimony which could unconsciously be paid to the egoistic ability of these professional classes. It exhibits such an unsuspicious eagerness on the part of the deluded. They even resent any hint that they may be trusting too much to the high polish induced upon Society's boss-words. They would prefer to remove every trace which could suggest aught other than that such were brought down by an Archangel on a flaming plate from Heaven !
* * * *
The fascination which the big spectacle exercises over us all to the point that we acquiesce in calling the very great power of someone else the "highest good" of ourselves has proved a fatal seduction for philosophers themselves. Even those philosophers who had the instinct to assess the "good" as simply the useful have been content to ignore the obvious ellipsis: the fact that the useful is equally with the good meaningless until it is attached, particularised, and so limited. Good for what? Useful for what? In order to be able to fill in the bill to the satisfaction of their taste for the "big," they have handed the "useful" itself over to the region of the Absolute, there to keep company with the similarly earth-banished "good." The "good" becomes the "useful" to the end that it furnishes "the greatest happiness of the greatest number," and these utilitarians are forthwith driven to create a new big God to square with the big new scheme, and conduct becomes "good," which serves this new "Big God" which they now call Humanity. Conduct is "good" which is "good" for Humanity. Thus derailed do the psychological labours of the utilitarians become which, had they been spared from this devastating fascination of "bigness," might have penetrated far, and the "good" which by definition as the "useful" was well in the way of being brought from Heaven back to Earth, escapes again into the thin air of the mere verbal : the conceptual.
* * * *
The despising of the limited and the particularised, the fatuous worship of "unlimited bigness" which, being translated, is the Absolute, is the pons asinorum of the philosophers: few ever pass beyond it. However, since an unparticularised "good" is inconceivable and boggles the imagination, the mind inevitably snatches at the likeliest prop which presents itself. The "good" must be "good" for something, and this something, being unnamed, the gap is filled in to suit a childlike imagination by the figure of "The Great," and the panting mind rests comfortably with its riddle solved. Conduct must be "good" for the greatest: thus do the greatest and the good become inextricably intertwined. As conversely with the meanest, are intertwined "the bad," the "ill" and the "evil." These terms, used in an accurate, particularised sense, have the opposite significance of the "good" and the "useful." They mean "unsatisfactory for whatever end may be in question." There is no difference between the "bad" and the "evil" (notwithstanding Nietzsche's opinion to the contrary), save this: that whereas "good" serves to express in a particularised relation not only the genuine useful meaning of "satisfactory," but also the faked conceptual "Absolute" of "The Good": the two functions have been more or less differentiated as "bad,"
meaning "unsatisfactory"; and "Evil," conceived as as Absolute with meaning expressing the antithesis to "The Good." Even so the terms "bad," "ill" and "evil" interchange with each other and overlap: they have no fundamental differences.
* * * *
It is strange that out of the long succession of Word-lovers÷Philosophers that is÷practically all of them have loved words for their powers as instruments of deception. It has been the age-long ideal of Philosophy to wield the big-sounding phrase and play the vulgar magician before the populace. Philosophers have sought to be "constructive": unconsciously to be contrivers of snares for the simple. And still they came, these Word-lovers÷whose love is one half reserve: Transvaluers of Values who contrive to avoid the obvious import of "values" as they already exist. It is nothing so highfalutin as the Transvaluation of Values of which philosophy stands in need, but such an apprehension of the character of motives as would lead to assessment of specific and existing values. Every additional high-sounding phrase is a hindrance; every new fakir's trick with the old verbal jugglements a thicker screen between men and men's knowledge of men. As long as the half-hypnotism of words holds dominion, Instinct÷the feel towards increased life÷ must go covered, shamefaced, confused and tongue-tied; in comparison with Reason÷dumb; Reason a mere calculation which, having been granted in "The Good" an insupportable assumption, has galloped off in easy triumph with all the well-sounding words. The deliverance of instincts from shame must wait for a race (a handful will serve) of philosophers who can love words all in all÷love them well enough to be able to bear up against and revel in the complete revelation of their whole nature.
When men understand the overwhelming significance of the fact that "In the beginning÷of civilisation÷was The Word," they will for the first time realise what constitutes the cementing element in the history of "subjects" and "subjected instincts." Until then we shall have with us the pastors and masters to tell as of that Duty which we owe to "The Good."
* * * *
"God" and the "Good" being such, it will make a pretty Christmas puzzle to put "Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards men" in their suitable niches. All the more, since, the "good" part in goodwill being unparticularised, one may go as one pleases in regard to it. Thus we may apply the Golden Rule enjoining us to do good to men according to our views of good: "as we would have that they should do unto us;" or again, according to the recipient's view of "good": "as they would have that we should do unto them;" or yet again, according to God's view, after the stereotyped forms advised by Authority. To act after the first manner is to make one's taste in "goods" the standard of "good" among one's clientele: a process which has made it necessary to match the Golden Rule as addressed to the "Doers of Good" with one enjoining an etiquette for recipients about "never looking gift-horses in the mouth" The patent evidence of distaste indicated among recipients to this species of "goodwill" has led those more zealously determined upon "doing good" to do it after the second fashion: "as they would you should do it unto them." To search out men's wants to satisfy their needs from their point of view, is by no means an uncommon form of applied goodwill. In fact, it is just this determined type of well-doer who are the people's "Saints": the genuine men-pleasers. Unfortunately, their career in any very efficacious degree, is necessarily shortlived; its inevitable end being bankruptcy. Most men indeed find that one such client÷for instance, a wife and family÷will make one feel how easy it is to arrive at the rock-bottom of one's resources; but to espouse the "needs of the world" in bulk can of necessity have but one termination: bankruptcy. Doubtless, the notion behind the pretence of the Church to take Poverty as a Bride, was just to
anticipate the fleecing process involved in loving men more than themselves.
* * * *
It is curious, however, how reluctant men have been to give whole-hearted praise to this type of well-doer, in spite of the obvious advantages in the existence of a species of being who is prepared to regard other's needs as his very own. The explanation probably is that that which men most desire cannot be satisfied at secondhand. Love, power, friends, can be satisfyingly won only by the efforts of the desirers themselves. The activity of well-doers is thus limited to a bestowing of tenth-rate satisfactions: obligations in respect of "goods" which are too trifling in value to be worth it. One must be beneath a certain status in order to know oneself the object of "goodwill" without taking offence thereat. One feels its proper sphere to be with the "poor poor." Moreover, common sense is alive to the fact that one who finds his highest vocation in "doing good" cannot have any very strong interests of his own: the interests of others have become his makeshift. The slumming fraternity is made up of those who have more time than interests: nothing in themselves has been strong enough to preoccupy their activities, and gadding after others has been an inevitable sequel. And this truth holds good: love and respect are commanded by the character of the person, not by the "useful" works that he performs. The person who is interested in his own affairs, follows
his own bent, is the person who commands respect and even affection rather than the one who "gives his life for others."
Hence, Christmas goodwill, which, being left to a voluntary and individual interpretation is inspired by a common-sense egoism, in the main comes down to a tipping of the tradesmen. Perhaps a little effort to obliterate some of such misery as lies too near us and is too obvious for our own comfort, and perhaps if one is rich and is inclined that way, an indulging in spectacular "good works," which may promise in their maturity A yield of some sort of honour or status: a title, whatnot. Men, that is, do to others as seems best to themselves : after a manner calculated to produce results most to their own satisfaction. Being in a holiday mood they please themselves. "Peace on earth, Goodwill towards men," at Christmas, means a momentary truce÷an off-day in the incessant fight for the securing of the upper hand. To desire to prolong a holiday mood perpetually is like desiring to perpetuate a moratorium: a lasting desistance from pressing advantages and claims. A holiday spirit like the moratorium takes on an intelligible meaning only from the fact that it is a transitory exception. The merit of Christmas tipping, or Christmas "peace and goodwill," is that these make a momentary change from the usual procedure. Their welcomeness has nothing to do with their particular character: it is accorded them in virtue of their being a change: a break which will result in the normal procedure being resumed with an additional zest.
VIEWS AND COMMENTS.
THESE notes are not going to be about Mr. Bernard Shaw: in spite of the fact that the notes of last week on that gentleman were very considerably docketed because, be it confessed, being later in arrival, even than usual, they had to adapt themselves to what space was left for them. Mr. Shaw's name is merely a peg whereon to hang a brief homily. Mr. Shaw has been writing to a Northern daily paper, the "Manchester Dispatch," to protest against being called a pro-German, and he offers his critics these considerations to leave him alone. He wishes, he says, that people "Would make up their minds finally as to whether I am a negligible person or not. If I am the sensible course is to neglect me... If, on the other hand, I am a writer of some importance, it is clearly playing into the hands of the enemy, to announce in all directions that my pamphlet is a justification of Germany." One needs to pass no comment on the suggestion that Mr. Shaw's characterisation of the ways and doings of the Kaiser and Sir Edward Grey, is calculated to affect the course of the war: that is not the point we would pause to notice. Rather, we would point out why Mr. Shaw's name is so grateful a sound among the people, that they rally to it gladly, either for praising or blaming. It is due to the existence of a need, which is none the less urgent because it possesses no recognised status: it is the dire need of being provided with topics of conversation. Mr. Shaw thinks that his "utterances" are noted throughout the Press, because he is, or is not, a writer of importance, and thus fails to appreciate the particular satisfaction which this nation finds in him: something easy to talk about: the selfsame satisfactions as are provided by the humbler and more threadbare topic÷the weather. It is not the quality which is of main account but the theme: it is sure. One may feel assured that the person with whom one exchanges comment on the weather is scarcely likely to respond with a vacant look and ask, "What is the weather?" Nor are even the simplest likely to ask "Who is Mr. Shaw?" It is not his "importance as a writer" but his "popularity": the fact that his name is familiar with the crowd which explains why his "Bloody" epithet will be given a whole newspaper edition to itself, or why if he speaks laboriously on the rights and wrongs of the modern combatants forthwith he is flamboyantly labelled a pro-German. It is because
he himself has become a "topic": popular, a common-ground in conversation. Hence he is the salvation of all the journalists gravelled for matter. As someone said the other day in connection with these Notes, "Write something easy; write on Mr. Shaw."
* * * *
The safe-pull of the "known name," is a subtle little puzzle: quite worth a little attention, indeed. Really to understand it, is to understand what to the "popular" appear as the vagaries of popularity. Popularity is mis-understood; it is taken to mean liking, affection, whereas what it really means is that the populace has chanced to become familiar with one's name and one's particularising characteristic. Nietzsche, for instance, has just become popularised, not indeed because the people have read him, but because it chances that at a time when a great war breaks out, and all our prophets and scribes are enlarging upon the wickedness of such as will dare to make war against us, someone happens to say that the enemy possesses a great philosopher, who maintains that on occasion war is a good and necessary thing. That is enough for popularity: the man is popular at once. That his popularity should carry a disparaging note in it and define itself as notorious, makes no difference: the notorious is but a particular case of the popular. Nietzsche is now popular; Bernhardt is exceedingly popular; and so is the Kaiser, so too is Mr. Shaw. The latter's gift for epigram, invective, and inversion, his familiar ease with strong-words, together with his general Mephistophelian air has made him into a popular institution not incomparable with "Punch" He has found his way to the lips of the populace, and being there, the people pass verdict on him after their kind, and also according to their variable moods. One day they will offer him fame, because of a forcible variation of sanguinary, and a few weeks later they will give him the "bird," because he puts forward a few stale, if sensible judgments on the causes of the war, but in his own bright and shocking way. As he was not greatly averse to the former treatment, one does not expect him to be surprised or perturbed at the latter.
If popularity, with its questionable attentions which the objects of it alternately solicit and deplore, were
confined to popular playwrights none could be much the worse: it is because of the fact that popularity governs the Press that we find ourselves brought face to face with an unescapable monotony. One may take up any journal whatsoever, daily, weekly, monthly, and in all the "topics"÷the popular subjects÷are identical, and all are "treated" in the popular spirit: all written down, that is, to the prejudices of the crowd: a state of affairs obviously the sequel to the introduction of "big business" into the Press-world. Journals which are founded expressly to cater for the crowd cannot pretend to occupy themselves with anything which the broad in-telligence of the crowd cannot appreciate; so the scope of intelligence common to the crowd dictates the confines of discussion and intercourse. A wearing down of instinct and taste to the popular level inevitably follows. To appeal to the crowd one must speak of the things with which one has the certainty the populace is familiar: and the appeal must be after the populace's own manner. To be "in" with everybody one must attempt the very least possible divergence into the fresh and original. The Common Measure of all-inclusive numbers shrinks to unity and the analogy in literature to this arithmetical one is the degradation of letters. There is, to be sure, little meaning in "Exclusiveness" in general: everything depends upon what one excludes ; but it is certain that what headway is to be made in matters of intelligence must be made through the agency and interaction of more or less equal abilities of a higher order. Only after a stringent process of exclusion can the stronger intelligences work together and be free from the drag, the heavy handicap of the less intelligent. Exclusiveness for specific purposes, that is, a division into classes for specific purposes becomes therefore imperative. Small reviews for the interchange of observations, of which the very nature, the concentration and acuteness must make them closed subjects of opinion for the populace, become the most highly significant feature of a nation's life. It is an ominious sign, in respect of a nation's intelligence, when there exist no unpopular journals of which it is convenient and advisable the "masses" should be unaware. The "masses" can always be relegated to the sequel of events; they will always continue to be found pouring forth inocculated opinion after the event with profound satisfaction and unction. And mostly every one temperamentally belongs to the masses now: all are inocculated with popularism. A Prime Minister will deliver himself to the effect that the importance of a journal is indicated by its circulation and its advertisement figures and yet will be quite ready, within the same term of office, to concur with those of his followers who maintain that the Press-man of the non-weighty species: a writer who could boast of having an audience of two before he laid down his pen, is he whose doctrines have precipitated a war. It is the one recognisable stamp of the popularised mind: to respect wisdom only after the event. To apply the illustration more closely, and to the affairs of this journal, THE EGOIST, and in respect of those subscribers who have hastened to withdraw their subscriptions because "Nothing matters now, save fighting men and fighting-material," as one of them puts it. They are precisely of the cast of mind which, a day before the outbreak of the war, would have said that war was a myth and war-provenders the heinous solicitors of crime! Before now, we have protested against the stupid description of war-material as "senseless armaments" and "blind force" and pointed out that the essential characteristics which converted unadapted material into armaments were precisely Will and Sensibility: that armaments were just the potent embodiments of the spirit of intelligence. It now remains for us to state the argument conversely. Not only is there intelligence in fighting-material, but fighting-material, in its purest and most undiluted form, is intelligence. The fountain-head of fighting-material is intelligence, and such as now endeavour to compound for former blank incomprehension of the nature of fighting-material, by denying the concomitant needs and claims of intelligence, do but make the incomprehension more conspicuous. D. M.