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nearly a century and a half ago with the American War of Independence, Western civilization has been living on two planes or levels—the autocratic plane with which is bound up the idea of nationalism, and the democratic, to which has become conjoined the idea of internationalism. Not only little wars, but great wars such as this, come because of inequality in growth, dissimilarity of political institutions between states; because this state or that is basing its life on different principles from its neighbors. The decentralization, delays, critical temper, and importance of home affairs, prevalent in democratic countries, make them at once slower, weaker, less apt to strike, and less prepared to strike than countries where bureaucratic brains, subject to no real popular check, devise world policies which can be thrust, prepared to the last button, on the world at a moment's notice. The free and critical spirit in America, France, and Britain has kept our democracies comparatively unprepared for anything save their own affairs.
We fall into glib usage of words like democracy, and make fetishes of them without due understanding. Democracy is inferior to autocracy from the aggressively national point of view; it is not necessarily superior to autocracy as a guarantee of general well-being; it may even turn out to be inferior unless we can improve it. But democracy is the rising tide; it may be dammed or delayed but cannot be stopped. It seems to be a law in human nature that where, in any corporate society, the idea of self-government sets foot it refuses to take that foot up again. State after state, copying the American example, has adopted the democratic principle; the world's face is that way set. And civilization is now so of a pattern, that the Western world
be looked on as one state, and the process of change therein from autocracy to democracy regarded as though it were taking place in a single old-time country such as Greece or Rome. If throughout Western civilization, we can secure the single democratic principle of government, its single
level of state morality in thought and action, we shall be well on our way to unanimity throughout the world; for even in China and Japan the democratic virus is at work. It is my belief that only in a world thus uniform, and freed from the danger of pounce by autocracies, have states any chance to develop the individual conscience to a point which shall make democracy proof against anarchy, and themselves proof against dissolution; and only in such a world can a League of Nations to enforce peace succeed.
But even if we do secure a single plane for Western civilization and ultimately for the world, there will be but slow and difficult progress in the lot of mankind. And unless we secure it, there will be only a march backwards.
For this advance to a uniform civilization the solidarity of the English-speaking races is vital. Without that there will be no bottom on which to build.
The ancestors of the American people sought a new country, because they had in them a reverence for the individual conscience; they came from Britain, the first large state in the Christian era to build up the idea of political freedom. The instincts and ideals of our two races have ever been the same. That great and lovable people, the French, with their clear thought and expression, and their quick blood, have expressed those ideals more vividly than either
But the phlegmatic and the dry tenacity of our English and American temperaments has ever made our countries the most settled and safe homes of the individual conscience, and of its children, democracy, freedom, and internationalism. And if we English-speaking races quarrel and become disunited, civilization will split up again and go its way to ruin. We are the ballast of the new order.
I don't believe in formal alliances, or in grouping nations to exclude and keep down other nations. Friendships between countries should have the only true reality of common sentiment, and be animated by desire for the general welfare of mankind. We need no formal bonds, but we
have a sacred charge in common, to let no petty matters, differences of manner, divergences of material interest, destroy our spiritual agreement. Our pasts, our geographical positions, our temperaments make us beyond all other races the hope and trustees of mankind's advance along the only line now open-democratic internationalism. It is childish to claim for Americans or Britons virtues beyond those of other nations, or to believe in the superiority of one national culture to another; they are different, that is all. It is by accident that we find ourselves in this position of guardianship to the main line of human development; no need to pat ourselves on the back about it. But we are at a great and critical moment in the world's history-how critical, none of us alive will ever realize. The civilization slowly built since the fall of Rome has either to break up and dissolve into jagged and isolated fragments through a century of wars; or, unified and re-animated by a single idea, to move forward on one plane and attain greater height and breadth.
Under the pressure of this war there is, beneath the lipservice we pay to democracy, a disposition to lose faith in it, because of its undoubted weakness and inconvenience in a struggle with states autocratically governed; there is even a sort of secret reaction to autocracy. On those lines there is no way out of a future of bitter rivalries, chicanery, and wars, and the probable total failure of our civilization. The only cure, which I can see, lies in democratizing the whole world, and removing the present weaknesses and shams of democracy by education of the individual conscience in every country. Goodbye to that chance, if Americans and Britons fall foul of each other, refuse to pool their thoughts and hopes, and to keep the general welfare of mankind in view. They have got to stand together, not in aggressive and jealous policies, but in defense and championship of the self-helpful, self-governing, “live and let live” philosophy of life.
The house of the Future is always dark. There are few cornerstones to be discerned in the Temple of our Fate. But of these few, one is the brotherhood and bond of the English-speaking races; not for narrow purposes, but that mankind may yet see Faith and Good Will enshrined, yet breathe a sweeter air, and know a life where Beauty passes, with the sun on her wings.
We want in the lives of men a "Song of Honor,” as in Ralph Hodgson's poem:
The song of men, all sorts and kinds,
As in the world may be. In the making of that song the English-speaking races will assuredly unite. What made this world we know not; the Principle of Life is inscrutable and will forever be; but we know that Earth is yet on the upgrade of existence, the mountain top of man's life not reached, that many centuries of growth are yet in front of us before Nature begins to chill this planet, till it swims, at last, another moon, in space. In the climb to that mountain top of a happy life for mankind, our two great nations are as guides who go before, roped together in perilous ascent.
On their nerve, loyalty, and wisdom, the adventure now hangs. What American or British knife will sever the rope?
He who ever gives a thought to the life of man at large, to his miseries, and disappointments, to the waste and cruelty of existence, will remember that if American or Briton fail himself, or fail the other, there can but be for us both, and for all other peoples, a hideous slip, a swift and fearful fall into an abyss, whence all shall be to begin over again.
We shall not fail-neither ourselves, nor each other. Our comradeship will endure.
By ALFRED NOYES
You that have gathered together the sons of all races,
And welded them into one,
That sailed to the setting sun;
You that have made of mankind in your own proud regions
The music of man to be, How should the old earth sing of you, now, as your legions
Rise to set all men free?
How should the singer that knew the proud vision and loved
In the days when not all men knew,
How should he sing when the Spirit of Freedom in thunder
Speaks, and the wine-press is red;
Flag of the sky, proud flag of that wide communion,
Too mighty for thought to scan;
That kingdom of God in man;
But yours is the glory unfurled,
One singing star of the world.