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"At length the war has given us a much bigger and deeper 
book of prophecy, and the man who has written it is the ablest 
and most unpopular figure in contemporary England. It will 
outlive the war by many a year and decade. Mr. Russell has 
written a big and living book. We question whether a more 
brilliant statement of the Liberal philosophy has been written 
since the last world war created Liberalism." The Nation. 

" Mr. Bertrand Russell has written a thoroughly mischievous 
book, and it is all the more mischievous because, being a 
cultivated man, he has at his service a felicitous literary style 
which may possess some attractions for the unwary minds of 
prejudiced partisans and loose thinkers." LORD CROMER in 
the Spectator. 

"Essentially a discussion rather of principles than of any 
definite programme, being an examination and comparison of 
the possessive and the creative impulses." Times. 

" Mr. Russell's principles are, with few exceptions, of the 
very best." Westminster Gazette. 

" Mr. Russell . . . brings no comfort to the enemy, whom he 
severely trounces for their crime against civilization." Land 
and Water. 




First published November igi6 
Reprinted . . January 79/7 

(All rights reserved) 


THE following lectures were written in 1915, 
and delivered in the beginning of 1916. I 
had hoped to re-write them considerably, and 
make them somewhat less inadequate to their 
theme ; but other work, which seemed more 
pressing, intervened, and the prospect of oppor- 
tunity for leisurely revision remains remote. 

My aim is to suggest a philosophy of politics 
based upon the belief that impulse has more 
effect than conscious purpose in moulding men's 
lives. Most impulses may be divided into two 
groups, the possessive and the creative, accord- 
ing as they aim at acquiring or retaining some- 
thing that cannot be shared, or at bringing 
into the world some valuable thing, such as 
knowledge or art or goodwill, in which there is 
no private property. J consider the best life 
that which is most built on creative impulses, 
and the worst that which is most inspired by 
love of possession. Political institutions have 
a very great influence upon the dispositions of 
men and women, and should be such as to 



promote creativeness at the expense of posses - 
siveness. The State, war, and property are 
the chief political embodiments of the posses- 
sive impulses ; education, marriage, and 
religion ought to embody the creative impulses, 
though at present they do so very inadequately. 
Liberation of creativeness ought to be the 
principle of reform both in politics and in 
economics. It is this conviction which has 
led to the writing of these lectures. 

September 1916. 




II. THE STATE. . . . . - 44 


IV. PROPERTY . . . . . .Ill 

V. EDUCATION . . . . -143 


VIII. WHAT WE CAN DO . . , . .224 

Le souffle, le rhythme, la vraie force populaire 
manqua a la reaction. Elle eut les rois, les tresors, 
les armees; elle ecrasa les peuples, mais elle resta 
muette. Elle tua en silence; elle ne put parler 
qu'avec le canon sur ses horribles champs de 
bataille. . . . Tuer quinze millions d'hommes par 
la faim et 1'epee, a la bonne heure, cela se peut. 
Mais faire un petit chant, un air aime de tous, voila 
ce que nulle machination ne donnera. . . . Don 
reserve, beni. . . . Ce chant peut-etre a 1'aube jaillira 
d'un cceur simple, ou 1'alouette le trouvera en mon- 
tant au soleil, de son sillon d'avril. 





To all who are capable of new impressions 
and fresh thought, some modification of former 
beliefs and hopes has been brought by the 
war. What the modification has been has 
depended, in each case, upon character and 
circumstance ; but in one form or another it 
has been almost universal. To me, the chief 
thing to be learnt through the war has been 
a certain view of the springs of human action, 
what they are, and what we may legitimately 
hope that they will become. This view, if it 
is true, seems to afford a basis for political 
philosophy more capable of standing erect in a 
time of crisis than the philosophy of traditional 
Liberalism has shown itself to be . The follow- 
ing lectures, though only one of them will deal 
with war, are all inspired by a view of the 
springs of action which has been suggested 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

by the war. And all of them are informed by 
the hope of seeing such political institutions 
established in Europe as shall make men 
averse from war a hope which I firmly believe 
to be realizable, though not without a great 
and fundamental reconstruction pf economic 
and social life. 

To one who stands outside the cycle of 
beliefs and passions which make the war seem 
necessary, an isolation, an almost unbearable 
separation from the general activity, becomes 
unavoidable. At the very moment when the 
universal disaster raises compassion in the 
highest degree, compassion itself compels 
aloofness from the impulse to self-destruction 
which has swept over Europe. The helpless 
longing to save men from the ruin towards 
which they are hastening makes it necessary 
to oppose the stream, to incur hostility, to be 
thought unfeeling;, to lose for the moment the 
power of winning belief. It is impossible to 
prevent others from feeling hostile, but it is 
possible to avoid any reciprocal hostility on 
one's own part, by imaginative understanding 
and the sympathy which grows out of it. And 
without understanding and sympathy it is 
impossible to find a cure for the evil from 
which the world is suffering. 

There are two views of the war neither of 
which seems to me adequate. The usual view 
in this country is that it is due to the wicked- 


The Principle of Growth 

ness of the Germans ; the view of most pacifists 
is that it is due to the diplomatic tangle and 
to the ambitions of Governments. I think 
both these views fail to realize the extent 
to which war grows out of ordinary human 
nature. Germans, and also the men who com- 
pose Governments, are on the whole average 
human beings, actuated by the same passions 
that actuate others, not differing much from the 
rest of the world except in their circumstances. 
War is accepted by men who are neither 
Germans nor diplomatists with a readiness, an 
acquiescence in untrue and inadequate reasons, 
which would not be possible if any deep repug 1 - 
nance to war were widespread hi other nations 
or classes. The untrue things which men 
believe, and the true things which they dis- 
believe, are an index to their impulses not 
necessarily to individual impulses in each case 
(since beliefs are contagious), but to the 
general impulses of the community. We all 
believe many things which we have no good 
ground for believing, because, subconsciously, 
our nature craves certain kinds of action which 
these beliefs would render reasonable if they 
were true. Unfounded beliefs are the homage 
which impulse pays to reason ; and thus it is 
with the beliefs which, opposite but similar, 
make men here and in Germany believe it their 
duty to prosecute the war. 

The first thought which naturally occurs to 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

one who accepts this view is that it would 
be well if men were more under the dominion 
of reason. War, to those who see that it must 
necessarily do untold harm to all the com- 
batants, seems a mere madness, a collective 
insanity in which all that has been known in 
time of .peace is forgotten. If impulses were 
more Controlled, if thought were less dominated 
by passion, men would guard their minds 
against the approaches of war fever, and dis- 
putes would be adjusted amicably. This is 
true, but it is not by itself sufficient. It is 
only those in whom the desire to think truly 
is itself a passion who will find this desire 
adequate to control the passions of war. Only 
passion can control passion, and only a con- 
trary impulse or desire can check impulse. 
Reason, as it is preached by traditional moral- 
ists, is too negative, too little living, to make 
a good life. It is not by reason alone that wars 
can be prevented, but by a positive life of 
impulses and passions antagonistic to those that 
lead to war. It is the life of impulse that 
needs to be changed, not only the life of 
conscious thought. 

All human activity springs from two sources : 
impulse and desire. The part played by desire 
has always been sufficiently recognized. When 
men find themselves not fully contented, and 
not able instantly to procure what will cause 
content, imagination brings before their minds 


The Principle of Growth 

the thought of thing's which they believe would 
make them happy. All desire involves an 
interval of time between the consciousness of 
a need and the opportunity for satisfying it. 
The acts inspired biy desire may be in them- 
selves painful, the time before satisfaction can 
be achieved may be very long, the object 
desired may be something outside our own 
lives, and even after our own death. Will, as 
a directing force, consists mainly in following 
desires for more or less distant objects, in spite 
of the painfulness of the acts involved and the 
solicitations of incompatible but more imme- 
diate desires and impulses . All this is familiar, 
and political philosophy hitherto has been 
almost entirely based upon desire as the source 
of human actions. 

But desire governs no more than a part of 
human activity, and that not the most impor- 
tant but only the rrtore conscious, explicit, and 
civilized part. 

In all the miore instinctive part of our nature 
we are dominated by impulses to certain kinds 
of activity, not by desires for certain ends. 
Children run and' shout, not because of any 
good which they expect to realize, but because 
of a direct im'pulse to running and shouting. 
Dogs bay the moon, not because they consider 
that it is to their advantage to do so, but 
because they feel an impulse to bark. It is not 
any purpose, but merely an impulse;, that 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

prompts such actions as eating, drinking 1 , 
love-making, quarrelling, boasting. Those who 
believe that man is a rational animal will say 
that people boast in order that others may have 
a good opinion of them; ; but most of us can 
recall occasions when we have boasted in spite 
of knowing that we should be despised for it. 
Instinctive acts normally achieve some result 
which is agreeable to the natural man, but they 
are not performed from desire for this result. 
They are performed from direct impulse, and 
the imipulse is often strong even in cases in 
which the normal desirable result cannot follow. 
Grown men like to imagine themselves more 
rational than children and dogs, and uncon- 
sciously conceal from themselves how great a 
part impulse plays in their lives. This uncon- 
scious concealment always follows a certain 
general plan . When an impulse is not indulged 
in the moment in which it arises, there grows 
up a desire for the expected consequences of 
indulging the impulse. If some of the conse- 
quences which are reasonably to be expected 
are clearly disagreeable, a conflict between 
foresight and impulse arises. If the impulse 
is weak, foresight may conquer ; this is what 
is called acting on reason. If the imipulse is 
strong, either foresight will be falsified, and 
the disagreeable consequences will be forgotten, 
or, in men of a heroic mould, the consequences 
may be recklessly accepted. When Macbeth 


The Principle of Growth 

realizes that he is doomed to defeat, he does 
not shrink from the fight ; he exclaims : 

Lay on, Macduff, 
And damned be him that first cries, Hold, enough ! 

But such strength and recklessness of 
impulse is rare. Most men, when their impulse 
is strong, succeed in persuading themselves, 
usually by a subconscious selectiveness of 
attention, that agreeable consequences will 
follow from the indulgence of their impulse. 
Whole philosophies, whole systems of ethical 
valuation, spring up in this way : they are 
the embodiment of a kind of thought which is 
subservient to impulse, which aims at providing 
a quasi -rational ground for the indulgence of 
impulse. The only thought Which is genuine 
is that which springs out of the intellectual 
impulse of curiosity, leading to the desire to 
know and understand. But most of what 
passes for thought is inspired by some non- 
intellectual impulse, and is merely a means of 
persuading ourselves that we shall not be 
disappointed or do harm 1 if we indulge this 
impulse. 1 

When an impulse is restrained, we feel 
discomfort or even violent pain. We may 
indulge the impulse in order to escape from 

1 On this subject compare Bernard Hart's "Psychology 
of Insanity" (Cambridge University Press, 1914), chap, v, 
especially pp. 62-5. 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

this pain, and our action is then one which has 
a purpose. But the pain only exists because 
of the imipulse, and the impulse itself is directed 
to an act, not to escaping from the pain of 
restraining the impulse. The impulse itself 
remains without a purpose, and the purpose 
of escaping from pain only arises when the 
impulse has been momentarily restrained. 

Impulse is at the basis of our activity, much 
more than desire . Desire has its place, but not 
so large a place as it seems to have. Impulses 
bring with them a whole train of subservient 
fictitious desires : they make men feel that 
they desire the results which will follow from 
indulging the impulses, and' that they are acting 
for the sake of these results, when in fact their 
action has no motive outside itself. A man 
may write a book or paint a picture under the 
belief that he desires the praise which it will 
bring him, 1 ; but as soon as it is finished, if 
his creative impulse is not exhausted, what 
he has done grows uninteresting to him, and 
he begins a new piece of work. What applies 
to artistic creation applies equally to all that is 
most vital in our lives : direct impulse is what 
moves us, and the desires which we think we 
have are a mere garment for the impulse. 

Desire, as opposed to impulse, has, it is true, 
a large and increasing share in the regula- 
tion of men's lives . Im'pulse is erratic and 
anarchical, not easily fitted into a well-regu- 


The Principle of Growth 

lated system ; it may be tolerated in children 
and artists, but it is not thought proper to men 
who hope to be taken seriously. [Almost all 
paid work is done from desire, not from 
impulse : the Work itself is more or less 
irksome, but the payment for it is desired. 
The serious activities that fill a man's working 
hours are, excepit in a few fortunate individuals,, 
governed mainly by purposes, not by impulses 
towards those activities. In this hardly any 
one sees an evil, because the place of impulse 
in a satisfactory existence is not recognized. 
An impulse, to one who does not share it 
actually or imaginatively, will always seem to 
be mad . All impulse is essentially blind, in the 
sense that it does not spring from any prevision 
of 'consequences . The man who does not share 
the impulse will form a different estimate as 
to what the consequences will be, and as to 
whether those that must ensue are desirable. 
This difference of opinion will seem to be 
ethical or intellectual, whereas its real basis is 
a difference of impulse. No genuine agree- 
ment will be reached, in such a case, so long as 
the difference of impulse persists. In all men 
who have any vigorous life, there are strong 
impulses such as may seem utterly unreason- 
able to others. Blind impulses sometimes lead 
to destruction and death, but at other times 
they lead to the biest things the world contains. 
Blind impulse is the source of war, but it is 

17 B 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

also the source of science, and art, and love. 
It is not the weakening of impulse that is to 
be desired, but the direction of impulse towards 
life and growth rather than towards death and 

The complete control of impulse by will, 
which is sometimes preached by moralists, and 
often enforced by economic necessity, is not 
really desirable. A life governed by purposes 
and desires, to the exclusion of impulse, is a 
tiring life ; it exhausts vitality, and leaves a 
man, in the end, indifferent to the very purposes 
which 'he has 'been trying to achieve. When 
a whole nation lives in this way, the whole 
nation tends to become feeble, without enough 
grasp to recognize and overcome the obstacles 
to its desires. Industrialism and organization 
are constantly forcing civilized nations to live 
more 'and more by purpose rather than impulse . 
In the long run such a mlode of existence, if 
it does not dry up the springs of life, produces 
new impulses, not of the kind which the will 
has been in the habit of controlling or of which 
thought is conscious. These new impulses are 
apt to be Worse in their effects than those that 
have been checked. Excessive discipline, 
especially when it is imposed from without, 
often issues in impulses of cruelty and destruc- 
tion ; this is one reason why militarism has a 
bad effect on national character. Either lack 
of vitality, or impulses which are oppressive 


The Principle of Growth 

and against life, will almost always result if 
the spontaneous impulses are not able to find 
an outlet. A man's impulses are not fixed 
from the beginning by his native disposition : 
within certain wide limits, they are profoundly 
modified by his circumstances and his way of 
life. The nature of these modifications ought 
to be studied, and the results of such study 
ought to be taken account of in judging the 
good or harm that is done by political and 
social institutions. 

The war has grown, in the main, out of the 
life of impulse, not out of reason or desire. 
There is an impulse of aggression, and an im- 
pulse of resistance to aggression. Either may, 
on occasion, be in accordance with reason, but 
both are operative in many cases in which they 
are quite contrary to reason. Each impulse 
produces a whole harvest of attendant beliefs. 
The beliefs appropriate to the impulse of 
aggression may be seen in Bernhardi, or in the 
early Mohammedan conquerors, or, in full per- 
fection, in the Book of Joshua. There is first 
of all a conviction of the superior excellence 
of one's own group, a certainty that they are 
in some sense the chosen people. This justi- 
fies the feeling that only the good and evil 
of one's own group is of real importance, 
aSnd that the rest of the world is to be 
regarded merely as material for the triumph or 
salvation of the higher race. In modern 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

politics this attitude is embodied in imperial- 
ism. Europe as a whole has this attitude 
towards Asia and Africa, and many Germans 
have this attitude towards the rest of Europe. 

Correlative to the impulse of aggression is the 
impulse of resistance to aggression. This im- 
pulse is exemplified in the attitude of the Israel- 
ites to the Philistines or of mediaeval Europe 
to the Mohammedans. The beliefs which 
it produces are beliefs in the peculiar wicked- 
ness of those whose aggression is feared, and 
in the immense value of national customs which 
they might suppress if they were victorious. 
When the war broke out, all the reactionaries 
in England and France began to speak of 
the danger to democracy, although until that 
moment they had opposed democracy with all 
their strength. They were not insincere in 
so speaking : the impulse of resistance to 
Germany made them value whatever was 
endangered by the German attack . They loved 
democracy because they hated Germany ; but 
they thought they hated Germany because they 
loved democracy. 

The correlative impulses of aggression and 
resistance to aggression have both been opera- 
tive in all the countries engaged in the war. 
Those who have not been dominated by one or 
other of these impulses may. be roughly divided 
into three classes . There are, first, men whose 
national sentiment is antagonistic to the State 


The Principle of Growth 

to which they are subject. This class includes 
some Irish, Holes, Einns, Jews, arid other 
members of oppressed nations . Erom our point 
of view, these men may be omitted from our 
consideration, since they have the same impul- 
sive nature as those who fight, and .differ merely 
in external circumstances. 

The second class of men who have not been 
part of the force supporting the war have been 
those whose impulsive nature is more or less 
atrophied. Opponents of pacifism suppose that 
all pacifists belong! to this class, except when 
they are in German pay. It is thought that 
pacifists are bloodless, men without passions, 
men who can look on and reason with cold 
detachment while their brothers are giving 
their lives for their country. Amjong those 
who are merely passively pacifist, and do no 
more than abstain from actively taking part 
in the war, there may be a certain proportion 
of whom this is true. I think the supporters 
of war would be right in decrying such men. 
In spite of all the destruction which is wrought 
by the impulses that lead to war, there is more 
hope for a nation which has these impulses 
than for a nation in which all impulse is dead. 
Impulse is the expression of life, and while 
it exists there is hope of its turning towards 
life instead of towards death ; but lack of 
impulse is death, and out of death no new life 
will come. 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

The active pacifists, however, are not of this 
class : they are not men without impulsive 
force, but men in whom some impulse to which 
war is hostile is strong enough to overcome 
the impulses that lead to war. It is not the act 
of a passionless man to throw himself athwart 
the whole movement of the national life, to 
urge an outwardly hopeless cause, to incur 
obloquy and to resist the contagion of collective 
emotion. The impulse to avoid the hostility of 
public opinion is one of the strongest in human 
nature, and can only be overcome by an unusual 
force of direct and uncalculating impulse ; it 
is not cold reason alone that can prompt such 
an act. 

Impulses may be divided into those that 
make for life and those that make for death. 
The impulses embodied in the war are among 
those that make for death. Any one of the 
impulses that make for life, if it is strong 
enough, will lead a man to stand out against 
the war. Some of these impulses are only 
strong in highly civilized men ; some are part 
of common humanity. The impulses towards 
art and science are among the more civilized 
of those that make for life. Many artists have 
remained wholly untouched by the passions of 
the war, not from 1 feebleness of feeling, but 
because the creative instinct, the pursuit of a 
vision, makes them critical of the assaults of 
national passion, and not responsive to the 


The Principle of Growth 

myth in which the impulse of pugnacity clothes 
itself. And the few men in whom the scientific 
impulse is dominant have noticed the rival 
myths of warring groups, and have been led 
through understanding to neutrality. But it is 
not out of such refined impulses that a popular 
force can be generated which shall be sufficient 
to transform the world. 

There are three forces on the side of life 
which require no exceptional mental endow- 
ment, which are not very rare at present, and 
might be very common under better social 
institutions. They are love, the instinct of 
constructiveness, and the joy of life. All three 
are checked and enfeebled at present by the 
conditions under which men live not only the 
less outwardly fortunate, but also the majority 
of the well-to-do. Our institutions rest upon 
injustice and authority : it is only by closing 
our hearts against sympathy and our minds 
against truth that we can endure the oppres- 
sions and unfairnesses by which we profit . The 
conventional conception of what constitutes 
success leads most men to live a life in which 
their most vital impulses are sacrificed, and 
the joy of life is lost in listless weariness . Our 
economic system compels almost all men to 
carry out the purposes of others rather than 
their own, making them feel impotent in action 
and only able to secure a certain modicum of 
passive pleasure. All these things destroy the 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

vigour of the community, the expansive affec- 
tions of individuals, and the power of viewing 
the world generously. All these things are 
unnecessary and can be ended by wisdom and 
courage. If they were ended, the impulsive 
life of men would become wholly different, and 
the human race might travel towards a new 
happiness and a new vigour. To urge this 
hope is the purpose of these lectures . 

The impulses and desires of men and wonK.ii, 
in so far as they are of real importance in 
their lives, are not detached one from another, 
but proceed from a central principle of growth, 
an instinctive urgency leading them in a 
certain direction, as trees seek the light. So 
long as this instinctive movement is not 
thwarted, whatever misfortunes may occur are 
not fundamental disasters, and do not produce 
those distortions which result from interference 
with natural growth. This intimate centre in 
each human being is what imagination must 
apprehend if we are to understand him intui- 
tively. It differs from man to man, and 
determines for each man the type of excellence 
of which he is capable. The utmost that social 
institutions can do for a man is to make his 
owtn growth free and vigorous : they cannot 
force him to grow according to the pattern 
of another man. There are in men some 
impulses and desires for example, those 
towards drugs which do not grow out of the 


The Principle of Growth 

central principle ; such impulses, when they 
become strong enough to be harmful, have to 
be checked by self -discipline. Other impulses, 
though they may grow out of the central prin- 
ciple in the individual, may be injurious to 
the growth of others, and they need to be 
checked in the interest of others. But in the 
main, the impulses which are injurious to 
others tend to result from 1 thwarted growth, 
and to be least in those who have been un- 
impeded in their instinctive development. 

Men, like trees, require for their growth 
the right soil and a sufficient freedom from 
oppression. These can be helped or hindered 
by political institutions. But the soil and 
the freedom required for a man's growth are 
immeasurably more difficult to discover and 
to obtain than the soil and the freedom required 
for the growth of a tree. And the full growth 
which may be hoped for cannot be defined or 
demonstrated ; it is subtle and complex, it can 
only be felt by a delicate intuition and dimly 
apprehended by imagination and respect. It 
depends not only or chiefly upon the physical 
environment, but upon beliefs and affections, 
upon opportunities for action, and upon the 
whole life of the community. The more 
developed and civilized the type of man the 
more elaborate are the conditions of his growth, 
and the more dependent they become upon 
the general state of the society in which he 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

lives. A map's needs and desires are not 
confined to his own life. If his mind is 
comprehensive and his imagination vivid, the 
failures of the community to which he 
belongs are his failures, and its successes are 
his successes : according as his community 
succeeds or fails, his own growth is nourished 
or impeded. 

In the modern world, the principle of growth 
in most men and women is hampered by insti- 
tutions inherited from a simpler age. By the 
progress of thought and knowledge, and by the 
increase in command over the forces of the 
physical world, new possibilities of growth have 
come into existence, and have given rise to 
new claims which m!ust be satisfied if those 
who make them are not to be thwarted . There 
is less acquiescence in limitations which are 
no longer unavoidable, and less possibility of 
a good life while those limitations remain. 
Institutions which give much greater oppor- 
tunities to some ^classes than to others are no 
longer recognized as just by the less fortunate, 
though the more fortunate still defend them 
vehemently. Hence arises a universal strife, 
in which tradition and authority are arrayed 
against liberty and justice. Our professed 
morality, being traditional, loses its hold upon 
those who are in revolt. Co-operation between 
the defenders of the old and the champions of 
the new has become almost impossible. An 


The Principle of Growth 

intimate disunion has entered into almost all 
the relations of life in continually increasing 
measure. In the fight for freedom, men and 
women become increasingly unable to break 
dowfr the walls of the Ego and achieve the 
growth which comes from a real and vital 
union . 

All our institutions have their historic basis 
in Authority. The unquestioned authority of the 
Oriental despot found 1 its religjious expression 
in the omnipotent Creator, whose glory was 
the sole end of mian, and against whom man 
had no rights . This authority descended to the 
Emperor and the Pope, to the kings of the 
Middle Ages, to the nobles in the feudal hier- 
archy, and even to every husband and father 
in his dealings with his wife and children . The 
Church was the (direct embodiment of the 
Divine authority, the State and the law were 
constituted by the authority of the King, private 
property in land grew out of the authority 
of conquering barons, and the family was 
governed by the authority of the pater- 
familias . 

The institutions of the Middle ages permitted 
only a fortunate few to develop freely : the 
vast majority of mankind existed to minister 
to the few. But so long as authority was 
genuinely respected and acknowledged even by 
its least fortunate subjects, mediaeval society 
remained organic and not fundamentally hostile 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

to life, since outward submission was com- 
patible with inward freedom because it was 
voluntary. The institutions of Western Chris- 
tendom embodied a theory which was really 
believed, as no theory by which our present 
institutions can be defended is now believed. 
The mediaeval theory of life broke down 
through its failure to satisfy men's demands 
for justice and liberty. Under the stress 
of oppression, when rulers exceeded their 
theoretical powers, the victims were forced to 
realize that they themselves also had rights, 
a,nd need not live merely to increase the glory 
of the few. Gradually it came to be seen that 
if men have power, they are likely to abuse it, 
and that authority in practice means tyranny. 
Because the claim to justice was resisted by 
the holders of power, men became more 
and more separate units, each fighting for his 
own rights, not a genuine community bound 
together by an organic common purpose. This 
absence of a common purpose has become a 
source of unhappiness. One of the reasons 
which led many men to welcome the outbreak 
of the present war was that it made each nation 
again a Whole community with a single purpose . 
It did this by destroying, for the present, 
the beginnings of a single purpose in the civil- 
ized world as a whole ; but these beginnings 
were as yet so feeble that few were much 
affected by their destruction. Men rejoiced in 


The Principle of Growth 

the new sense of unity with their compatriots 
more than they minded 1 the increased separation 
from their enemies. 

The hardening and separation of the indi- 
vidual in the course of the fight for freedom 
has been inevitable!, and is not likely ever to 
be wholly undone. What is necessary, if an 
organic society is to grow up, is that our insti- 
tutions ishould be so fundamentally changed as 
to embody that new respect for the individual 
and his rights which modern feeling demands. 
The mediaeval Empire and Church swept away 
the individual. There were heretics, but they 
were massacred relentlessly, without any of the 
qualms aroused by later persecutions. And 
they, like their persecutors, were persuaded that 
there ought to be one universal Church : they 
differed only as to what its creed should be. 
Among a few men of art and letters, the 
Renaissance undermined the mediaeval theory, 
without, however, replacing it by anything but 
scepticism and confusion. The first serious 
breach in this mediaeval theory was caused by 
Luther's assertion of the right of private judg- 
ment and the fallibility of General Councils . 
Out of this assertion grew inevitably, with time, 
the belief that a man's religion could not 
be determined for him 1 by authority, but must 
be left to the free choice of each individiual. 
It was in matters of religion that the battle 
for liberty began, and it is in matters of 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

religion that it has come nearest to a complete 
victory. 1 

The development through extreme individu- 
alism to strife, and thence, one hopes, to a new 
redintegration, is to be seen in almost every 
department of life. Claims are advanced in 
the name of justice, and resisted in the 
name of tradition and prescriptive right. Each 
side honestly believes that it deserves to 
triumph, because two theories of society exist 
side by side in our thought, and men choose, 
unconsciously, the theory which fits their case. 
Because the battle! is long and arduous all 
general theory is gradually forgotten ; in the 
end, nothing remains but self-assertion, and 
when the oppressed win freedom they are as 
oppressive as their former masters. 

This is seen most crudely in the case of what 
is called nationalism. Nationalism, in theory, 
is the doctrine that men, by their sympathies 
and traditions, form natural groups, called 
" nations," each of which ought to be united 
under one central Government. In the main 
this doctrine may be conceded. But in 
practice the doctrine takes a more personal 
form. " I belong," the oppressed nationalist 
argues, " by sympathy and tradition to nation 
A, but I am 1 subject to a government which is 

1 This was written before Christianity had become punish- 
able by ten years' penal servitude under the Military Service 
Act (No. 2). [Note added in 1916.] 


The Principle of Growth 

in the hands of nation B. This is an injustice, 
not only because of the general principle of 
nationalism, but because nation A is generous, 
progressive, and civilized, While nation B 
is oppressive, retrograde, and' barbarous. 
Because this is so, nation A deserves 'to prosper;, 
while nation B deserves to be abased." The 
inhabitants of nation B are naturally deaf to 
the claims of abstract justice, when they are 
accompanied by personal hostility and con- 
tempt. Presently, however, in the course of 
war, nation A acquires its freedom. The 
energy and pridJe which have achieved free- 
dom generate a momentum which leads on, 
almost infallibly, to the attempt at foreign 
conquest, or to the refusal of liberty to some 
smaller nation . " What ? You say that nation 
C, which forms part of our State, has the same 
rights against us as we had against nation A? 
But that is absurd. Nation C is swinish and 
turbulent, incapable of good government, need- 
ing a strong hand if it is not to be a menace 
and a disturbance to all its neighbours." So 
the English used to speak of the Irish, so the 
Germans and Russians speak of the Poles, so 
the Galician Poles speak of the Ruthenes, so 
the Austrians used to speajk of the Magyars, 
so the Magyars! speak of the South Slav 
sympathizers with Serbia, so the Serbs speak 
of the Macedonian Bulgars. In this way 
nationalism, unobjectionable in theory, leads 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

by a natural movement to oppression and wars 
of conquest. No sooner was France free from 
the English, in the fifteenth century, than it 
embarked upon the conquest of Italy ; no 
sooner was Spain freed from the Moors than 
it entered into more than a century of conflict 
with France for the supremacy in Europe. The 
case of Germany is very interesting in this 
respect. At the beginning of the eighteenth 
century German culture was French : French 
was the language of the Courts, the language 
in which Leibniz wrote his philosophy, the 
universal language of polite letters and learn- 
ing. National consciousness hardly existed. 
Then a series of great men created a self- 
respect in Germany by their achievements in 
poetry, music, philosophy, and science. But 
politically German nationalism was only created 
by Napoleon's oppression and the uprising of 
1813. After centuries during which every 
disturbance of the peace of Europe began with 
a French or Swedish or Russian invasion of 
Germany, the Germans discovered that by 
sufficient effort and union they could keep 
foreign armies off their territory. But the 
effort required had been too great to cease 
when its purely defensive purpose had been 
achieved by the defeat of Napoleon. Now, ia 
hundred years later, they are still engaged in 
the same movement, which has become one of 
aggression and conquest. Whether we are now 


The Principle of Growth 

seeing the end of the movement it is not yet 
possible to guess. 

If men had any strong sense of a community 
of nations, nationalism would serve to define 
the boundaries of the various nations. But 
because men only feel community within their 
own nation, nothing but force is able to make 
them respect the rights of other nations, even 
when they are asserting exactly similar rights 
on their own behalf. 

An analogous development is to be expected, 
with the course of time, in the conflict between 
capital and labour, which has existed since the 
growth of the industrial system, and in the 
conflict between men and women, which is still 
in its infancy. 

What is wanted, in these various conflicts;, 
is some principle, genuinely believed, which 
will have justice for its outcome. The tug of 
war of mutual self-assertion can only result 
in justice through an accidental equality of 
force. It is no use to attempt any bolstering 
up of institutions based on authority, since all 
such institutions involve injustice, and injustice 
once realized cannot be perpetuated without 
fundamental damage both to those who uphold 
it and to those who resist it. The damage 
consists in the hardening of the walls of the 
Ego, making them a prison instead of a 
window . Unimpeded growth in the individual 
depends upon many contacts with other people, 

33 c 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

which must be of the nature of free co-opera- 
tion, not of enforced service. While the belief 
in authority was alive, free co-operation was 
compatible with inequality and subjection, but 
now equality and mutual freedom are neces- 
sary. All institutions, if they are not to hamper 
individual growth, must be based as far as 
possible upon voluntary combination, rather 
than the force of the law or the traditional 
authority of the holders of power. None of 
our institutions can survive the application 
of this principle without great and fundamental 
changes ; but these changes are imperatively 
necessary if the world is to be withheld from 
dissolving into hard separate units each at war 
with all the others. 

The two chief sources of good relations 
between individuals are instinctive liking and 
a common purpose. Of these two, a common 
purpose might seem more important politically, 
but, in fact, it is often the outcome, not the 
cause, of instinctive liking, or of a common 
instinctive aversion. Biological groups, from 
the family to the nation, are constituted by a 
greater or less degree of instinctive liking, 
and build their common purposes on this 
foundation . 

Instinctive liking is the feeling which makes 
us take pleasure in another person's company, 
find an exhilaration in his presence, wish to 
talk with him, work with him, play with him. 


The Principle of Growth 

The extreme form of it is being in love, but its 
fainter forms, and even the very faintest, have 
political importance . The presence of a person 
who is instinctively disliked tends to make any 
other person more likeable. An anti-Semite 
will love any fellow-Christian when a Jew is 
present. In China, or the wilds of Africa, 
any white man would be welcomed with joy. 
A common aversion is one of the most frequent 
causes of mild instinctive liking. 

Men differ enormously in the frequency and 
intensity of their instinctive likings, and the 
same man will differ greatly at different times. 
One may take Carlyle and Walt Whitman as 
opposite poles in this respect. To Carlyle, at 
any rate in later life, most men and women 
were repulsive ; they inspired an instinctive 
aversion which made him find pleasure in 
imagining them under the guillotine or perish- 
ing in battle. This led him to belittle most 
men, finding satisfaction only in those who 
had been notably destructive of human life- 
Frederick the Great, Dr. Fraincia, and Governor 
Eyre. It led him to love war and violence, 
and to despise the weak and the oppressed 
for example, the " thirty thousand distressed 
needlewomen," on whom he was never weary 
of venting his scorn. His morals and his 
politics, in later life, were inspired through and 
through by repugnance to almost the whole 
human race. 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

Walt Whitman, on the contrary, had a warm, 
expansive feeling towards the vast majority of 
men and women. His queer catalogues seemed 
to him interesting because each item came 
before his imagination as an object of delight. 
The sort of joy which most people feel only 
in those who are exceptionally beautiful or 
splendid Walt Whitman felt in almost every- 
body. Out of this universal liking grew 
optimism, a belief in democracy, and a con- 
viction that it is easy for men to live together 
in peace and amity. His philosophy and 
politics, like Carlyle's, were based upon his 
instinctive attitude towards ordinary men and 

There is no objective reason to be given to 
show that one of these attitudes is essentially 
more rational than the other. If a man finds 
people repulsive, no argument can prove to 
him that they are not so. But both his own 
desires and other people's are much more likely 
to find satisfaction if he resembles Walt Whit- 
man than if he resembles Carlyle. A world of 
Walt Whitmans would be happier and more 
capable of realizing its purposes than a world 
of Carlyles. For this reason, we shall desire, 
if we can, to increase the amount of instinctive 
liking in the world and diminish the amount of 
instinctive aversion. This is perhaps the most 
important of all the effects by which political 
institutions ought to be judged. 


The Principle of Growth 

The other source of good relations between 
individuals is a common purpose, especially 
where that purpose cannot be achieved without 
co-operation. Such organizations as trade 
unions and political parties are constituted 
almost wholly by a common purpose ; whatever 
instinctive liking may come to be associated 
with them is the result of the common purpose, 
not its cause. Economic organizations, such as 
railway companies., subsist for a purpose, but 
this purpose need only actually exist in those 
who direct the organization : the ordinary wage- 
earner need have no purpose beyond earning 
his wages. This is a defect in economic 
organizations, and ought to be remedied. One 
of the objects of syndicalism is to remedy this 
defect . 

Marriage is (or should be) based on 
instinctive liking, but as soon as there are 
children, or the wish for children, it acquires 
the additional strength of a common purpose. 
It is this chiefly which distinguishes it from an 
irregular connexion not intended to lead to 
children. Often, in fact, the common purpose 
survives, and remains a strong tie, after the 
instinctive liking has faded. 

A nation, when it is real and not artificial, 
is founded upon a faint degree of instinctive 
liking for compatriots and a common instinctive 
aversion from foreigners. When an English- 
man returns to Dover or Folkestone after being 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

on the Continent, he feels something friendly 
in the familiar ways : the casual porters, the 
shouting paper boys, the women serving bad 
tea, all warm his heart, and seem more 
" natural," more what human beings ought to 
be, than the foreigners with their strange habits 
of behaviour. He is ready to believe that all 
English people are good souls, while many 
foreigners are full of designing wickedness. 
It is such feelings that make it easy to organize 
a nation into a governmental unit. And when 
that has happened, a common purpose is 
added, as in marriage. Foreigners would like 
to invade our country and lay it waste, to kill 
us in battle, to humble our pride. Those who 
co-operate with us in preventing this disaster 
are our friends, and their co-operation inten- 
sifies our instinctive liking. But common 
purposes do not constitute the whole source of 
our love of country : allies, even of long 
standing, do not call out the same feelings as 
are called out by our compatriots. Instinctive 
liking, resulting largely from similar habits and 
customs, is an essential element in patriotism, 
and, indeed, the foundation upon which the 
whole feeling rests. 

If men's natural growth is to be promoted 
and not hindered by their environment, if as 
many as possible of their desires and needs are 
to be satisfied, political institutions must, as 
far as possible, embody common purposes and 


The Principle of Growth 

foster instinctive liking. These two objects are 
interconnected, for nothing is so destructive 
of instinctive liking as thwarted purposes and 
unsatisfied needs, and nothing facilitates co- 
operation for common purposes so much as 
instinctive liking. When a man's growth is 
unimpeded., his self-respect remains intact, and 
he is not inclined to regard others as his 
enemies. But when, for whatever reason, his 
growth is impeded 1 , or he is compelled to grow 
into some twisted and unnatural shape, his 
instinct presents the environment as his enemy, 
and he becomes filled with hatred. The joy of 
life abandons him, and malevolence takes the 
place of friendliness. The malevolence of 
hunchbacks and cripples is proverbial ; and 
a similar malevolence is to be found in those 
who have been crippled in less obvious ways. 
Real freedom, if it could be brought about, 
would go a long way towards destroying 
hatred . 

There is a not uncommon belief that what is 
instinctive in us cannot be changed, but must 
be simply accepted and made the best of. This 
is by no means the case. No doubt we have a 
certain native disposition, different in different 
people, which co-operates with outside circum- 
stances in producing a certain character. But 
even the instinctive part of our character is 
very malleable . It may be changed by beliefs, 
by material circumstances, by social circum- 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

stances, and by institutions. A Dutchman has 
probably much the same, native disposition as 
a German, but his instincts in adult life are 
very different owing to the absence of mili- 
tarism and of the pride of a Great Power. It 
is obvious that the instincts of celibates become 
profoundly different from those of other men 
and women. Almost any instinct is capable of 
many different forms according to the nature 
of the outlets which it finds. The same instinct 
which leads to artistic or intellectual creative - 
ness may, under other circumstances, lead to 
love of war. The fact that an activity or belief 
is an outcome of instinct is therefore no reason 
for regarding it as unalterable. 

This applies to people's instinctive likes and 
dislikes as well as to their other instincts. It 
is natural to men, as to other animals, to like 
some of their species and dislike others ; but 
the proportion of like and dislike depends on 
circumstances, often on quite trivial circum- 
stances. Most of Carlyle's misanthropy is 
attributable ,to dyspepsia ; probably a suitable 
medical regimen would have given him a com- 
pletely different outlook on the world. The 
defect of punishment, as a means of dealing 
with impulses which the community wishes to 
discourage, is that it does nothing to prevent 
the existence of the impulses, but merely 
endeavours to check their indulgence by an 
appeal to self-interest. This method, since it 


The Principle of Growth 

does not eradicate the impulses, probably only 
drives them to find 1 other outlets even when it 
is successful in its immediate object ; and if 
the impulses are strong, mere self - interest 
is not likely to curb them effectually, since 
it is not a very powerful motive except 
with unusually reasonable and rather passion- 
less people. It is thought to be a stronger 
motive than it is, because our moods make us 
deceive ourselves as to our interest, and lead 
us to believe that it is consistent with the 
actions to which we are prompted by desire or 

Thus the commonplace that human nature 
cannot be changed is untrue. We all know 
that our own characters and those of our 
acquaintance are greatly affected by circum- 
stances ; and what is true of individuals is 
true also of nations. The root causes of 
changes in average human nature are generally 
either purely material changes for instance, of 
climate or changes in the degree of man's 
control over the material world. We may 
ignore the purely material changes, since these 
do not much concern the politician. But the 
changes due to man's increased control over 
the material world, by inventions and science, 
are of profound present importance. Through 
the industrial revolution, they have radically 
altered the daily lives of men ; and by creat- 
ing huge economic organizations, they have 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

altered the whole structure of society. The 
general beliefs of men, which are, in the main, 
a product of instinct and circumstance, have 
become very different from what they were in 
the eighteenth century. But our institutions 
are not yet suited either to the instincts 
developed by our new circumstances, or to our 
real beliefs. Institutions have a life of their 
own, and often outlast the circumstances which 
made them a fit garment for instinct. This 
applies, in varying degrees, to almost all the 
institutions which we have inherited from 1 the 
past : the State, private property, the patriar- 
chal family, the Churches, armies and navies. 
All of these have become in some degree 
oppressive, in some measure hostile to life. 

In any serious attempt at political recon- 
struction, it is necessary to realize what are the 
vital needs of ordinary men and women. It 
is customary, in political thought, to assume 
that the only needs with which politics is con- 
cerned are economic needs. This view is quite 
inadequate to account for such an event as 
the present war, since any economic motives 
that may be assigned for it are to a great 
extent mythical, and its true causes must be 
sought for outside the economic sphere . Needs 
which are normally satisfied without conscious 
effort remain unrecognized, and this results in 
a working theory of human needs which is far 
too simple. Owing chiefly to industrialism, 


The Principle of Growth 

many needs which were formerly satisfied with- 
out effort now remain unsatisfied in most men 
and women. But the old unduly simple theory 
of human needs survives, making men overlook 
the source of the new lack of satisfaction, and 
invent quite false theories as to why they are 
dissatisfied. Socialism as a panacea seems to 
me to be mistaken in this way, since it is too 
ready to suppose that better economic con- 
ditions will of themselves make men happy. 
It is not only more material goods that men 
need, but more freedom, more self-direction, 
more outlet for creativeness, more opportunity 
for the joy of life, more voluntary co-operation, 
and less involuntary subservience to purposes 
not their own. All these things the institutions 
of the future must help to produce, if our 
increase of knowledge and power over Nature is 
to bear its full fruit in bringing about a good 
life. ; ! 




UNDER the influence of socialism, most liberal 
thought in recent years has been in favour of 
increasing the power of the State, but more or 
less hostile to the power of private property. 
On the other hand, syndicalism has been hostile 
both to the State and to private property. I 
believe that syndicalism is more nearly right 
than socialism in this respect, that both private 
property and the State, which are the two most 
powerful institutions of the modern world, have 
become harmful to life through excess of 
power, and that both are hastening the loss 
of vitality from which the civilized world in- 
creasingly suffers. The two institutions are 
closely connected, but for the present I wish 
to consider only the State. I shall try to show 
how great, how unnecessary, how harmful, 
many of its powers are, and how enormously 
they might be diminished without loss of what 
is useful in its activity. But I shall admit that 
in certain directions its functions ought to be 
extended rather than curtailed. 

Some of the functions of the State, such as 


The State 

the Post Office and elementary education, might 
be performed by private agencies, and are only 
undertaken by the State from motives of con- 
venience. But other matters, such as the law, 
the police, the Army, and the Navy, belong 
more essentially to the State : so long as there 
is a State at all it is difficult to imagine these 
matters in private hands. The distinction 
between socialism and individualism turns on 
the non-essential functions of the State, which 
the socialist wishes to extend and the indi- 
vidualist to restrict. It is the essential func- 
tions, which are admitted by individualists and 
socialists alike, that I wish to criticize, since 
the others do not appear to me in themselves 

The essence of the State is that it is the 
repository of the collective force of its citizens. 
This force takes two forms, one internal and 
one external. The internal form is the law 
and the police ; the external form is the power 
of waging war, as embodied in the Army and 
Navy. The State is constituted by the com- 
bination of all the inhabitants in a certain area 
using their united force in accordance with the 
commands of a Government. In a civilized 
State force is only employed against its own 
citizens in accordance with rules previously laid 
down, which constitute the criminal law. But 
the employment of force against foreigners 
is not regulated by any code of rules, and 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

proceeds, with few exceptions, according to 
some real or fancied national interest. 

There can be no doubt that force employed 
according to law is less pernicious than force 
employed capriciously. If international law 
could acquire sufficient hold on men's alle- 
giance to regulate the relations of States, a 
very great advance on our present condition 
would have been made. The primitive anarchy 
which precedes law is worse than law. But 
I believe there is a possibility of a stage to 
some extent above law, where the advantages 
now secured by the law are secured without 
loss of freedom, and without the disadvantages 
which the law and the police render inevitable. 
Probably some repository of force in the back- 
ground will remain necessary, but the actual 
employment of force may become very rare, 
and the degree of force required very small. 
The anarchy which precedes law gives free- 
dom only to the strong ; the condition to be 
aimed at will give freedom as nearly as possible 
to every one. It will do this, not by pre- 
venting altogether the existence of organized 
force, but by limiting the occasions for its 
employment to the greatest possible extent. 

The power of the State is only limited 
internally by the fear of rebellion and ex- 
ternally by the fear of defeat in war. Subject 
to these restrictions, it is absolute. In practice, 
it can seize men's property through taxation, 


The State 

determine the law of marriage and inheritance, 
punish the expression of opinions which it 
dislikes, put men to death for wishing the 
region they inhabit to belong to a different 
State, and order all able-bodied males to risk 
their lives in battle whenever it considers war 
desirable. On many matters disagreement 
with the purposes and opinions of the State 
is criminal. Probably the freest States in the 
world, before the war, were America and 
England ; yet in America no immigrant may 
land until he has professed disbelief in 
anarchism and polygamy, while in England 
men were sent to prison in recent years for 
expressing disagreement with the Christian 
religion ' or agreement with the teaching of 
Christ. 2 In time of war, all criticism of the 
external policy of the State is criminal. Cer- 
tain objects having appeared desirable to the 
majority, or to the effective holders of power, 
those who do not consider these objects desir- 
able are exposed to pains and penalties not 
unlike those suffered by heretics in the past. 
The extent of the tyranny thus exercised is 
concealed by its very success : few men con- 
sider it worth while to incur a persecution 
which is almost certain to be thorough and 
effective . 

1 The blasphemy prosecutions. 

2 The syndicalist prosecutions. [The punishment of con- 
scientious objectors must now be added, 1916.] 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

Universal military service is perhaps the 
extreme example of the power of the State, 
and the supreme illustration of the difference 
between its attitude to its own citizens and 
its attitude to the citizens of other States. 
The State punishes, with impartial rigour, both 
those who kill their compatriots and those who 
refuse to kill foreigners. On the whole, the 
latter is considered the graver crime. The 
phenomenon of war is familiar, and men fail 
to realize its strangeness ; to those who stand 
inside the cycle of instincts which lead to war 
it all seems natural and reasonable. But to 
those who stand outside the strangeness of it 
grows with familiarity. It is amazing that the 
vast majority of men should tolerate a system 
which compels them to submit to all the horrors 
of the battlefield at any moment when their 
Government commands them to do so. A 
French artist, indifferent to politics, attentive 
only to his painting, suddenly finds himself 
called upon to shoot Germans, who, his friends 
assure him, are a disgrace to the human race. 
A German musician, equally unknowing, is 
called upon to shoot the perfidious French- 
man. Why cannot the two men declare a 
mutual neutrality ? Why not leave war to those 
who like it and bring it on? Yet if the two 
men declared a mutual neutrality they would 
be shot by their compatriots. To avoid this 
fate they try to shoot each other. If the world 


The State 

loses the artist, not the musician, Germany 
rejoices ; if the world loses the musician, not 
the artist, France rejoices. No one remem- 
bers the loss to civilization, which is equal 
whichever is killed . 

This is the politics of Bedlam. If the artist 
and the musician had been allowed to stand 
aside from the war, nothing but unmitigated 
good to mankind would have resulted. The 
power of the State, which makes this impos- 
sible, is a wholly evil thing, quite as evil as 
the power of the Church which in former days 
put men to death for unorthodox thought . Yet 
if, even in time of peace, an international 
league were founded to consist of Frenchmen 
and Germans in equal numbers, all pledged not 
to take part in war, the French State and the 
German State would persecute it with equal 
ferocity. Blind obedience, unlimited willing- 
ness to kill and die, are exacted of the modem 
citizens of a democracy as much as of the 
Janizaries of mediaeval sultans or the secret 
agents of Oriental despots. 1 

The power of the State may be brought to 
bear, as it often is in England, through public 
opinion rather than through the laws. By 
oratory and the influence of the Press, public 

1 "In a democratic country it is the majority who must 
after all rule, and the minority will be obliged to submit 
with the best grace possible " ( Westminster Gazette on 
Conscription, December 29, 1915). 

49 D 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

opinion is largely created by the State, and a 
tyrannous public opinion is as great an enemy 
to liberty as tyrannous laws. If the young 
man who will not fight finds that he is dis- 
missed from his employment, insulted in the 
streets, cold-shouldered by his friends, and 
thrown over with scorn by any woman who 
may formerly have liked him, he will feel the 
penalty quite as hard to bear as a death 
sentence. 1 A free community requires not only 

1 " Some very strong remarks on the conduct of the ' white 
feather' women were made by Mr. Reginald Kemp, the 
Deputy Coroner for West Middlesex, at an inquest at 
Baling on Saturday on Richard Charles Roberts, aged 
thirty-four, a taxicab driver, of Shepherd's Bush, who com- 
mitted suicide in consequence of worry caused by his 
rejection from the Army and the taunts of women and 
other amateur recruiters. 

It was stated that he tried to join the Army in October, 
but was rejected on account of a weak heart. That alone, 
said his widow, had depressed him, and he had been worried 
because he thought he would lose his licence owing to the 
state of his heart. He had also been troubled by the dangerous 
illness of a child. 

A soldier relative said that the deceased's life had been 
made 'a perfect misery' by women who taunted him and 
called him a coward because he did not join the Army. A 
few days ago two women in Maida Vale insulted him ' some- 
thing shocking.' 

The Coroner, speaking with some warmth, said the 
conduct of such women was abominable. It was scan- 
dalous that women who knew nothing of individual circum- 
stances should be allowed to go about making unbearable the 
lives of men who had tried to do their duty. It was a pity 


The State 

legal freedom, but a tolerant public opinion, 
an absence of that instinctive inquisition into 
our neighbours' affairs which, under the guise 
of upholding a high moral standard, enables 
good people to indulge unconsciously a dis- 
position to cruelty and persecution. Thinking 
ill of others is not in itself a good reason for 
thinking well of ourselves. But so long as 
this is not recognized, and so long as the State 
can manufacture public opinion, except in the 
rare cases where it is revolutionary, public 
opinion must be reckoned as a definite part 
of the power of the State. 

The power of the State outside its own 
borders is in the main derived from war or the 
threat of war. Some power is derived from 
the ability to persuade its citizens to lend money 
or not to lend it, but this is unimportant in 
comparison with the power derived from armies 
and navies. The external activity of the State 
with exceptions so rare as to be negligible 
is selfish. Sometimes selfishness is mitigated 
by the need of retaining the goodwill of other 
States, but this only modifies the methods 
employed, not the ends pursued. The ends 
pursued, apart from mere defence against other 
States, are, on the one hand, opportunities for 

they had nothing better to do. Here was a man who perhaps 
had been driven to death by a pack of silly women. He 
hoped something would soon be done to put a stop to such 
conduct" (Daily News, July 26, 1915). 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

successful exploitation of weak or uncivilized 
countries, on the other hand, power and 
prestige, which are considered more glorious 
and less material than money. In pursuit of 
these objects, no State hesitates to put to death 
innumerable foreigners whose happiness is not 
compatible with exploitation or subjection, or 
to devastate territories into which it is thought 
necessary to strike terror. Apart from the 
present war, such acts have been performed 
within the last twenty years by many minor 
States and by all the Great Powers J except 
Austria ; and in the case of Austria only the 
opportunity, not the will, was lacking. 

Why do men acquiesce in the power of the 
State? There are many reasons, some tra- 
ditional, some very present and pressing. 

The traditional reason for obedience to the 
State is personal loyalty to the sovereign. 
European States grew up under the feudal 
system, and were originally the several terri- 
tories owned by feudal chief sv But this source 
of obedience has decayed, and probably now 
counts for little except in Japan, and to a 
lesser extent in Russia. 

Tribal feeling, which always underlay loyalty 
to the sovereign, has remained as strong as it 
ever was, and is now the chief support for the 

1 By England in South Africa, America in the Philippines, 
France in Morocco, Italy in Tripoli, Germany in South- West 
Africa, Russia in Persia and Manchuria, Japan in Manchuria. 


The State 

power of the State. Almost every man finds 
it essential to his happiness to feel himself a 
member of a group, animated by common 
friendships and enmities and banded together 
for defence and attack. But such groups are 
of two kinds : there are those which are essen- 
tially enlargements of the family, and there 
are those which are based upon a conscious 
common purpose. Nations belong to the first 
kind, Churches to the second. At times when 
men are profoundly swayed by creeds national 
divisions tend to break down, as they did in 
the wars of religion after the Reformation. 
At such times a common creed is a stronger 
bond than a common nationality. To a much 
slighter extent, the same thing has occurred 
in the modern world with the rise of socialism. 
Men who disbelieve in private property, and 
feel the capitalist to be the real enemy, have a 
bond which transcends national divisions. It 
has not been found strong enough to resist the 
passions aroused by the present war, but it 
has made them less bitter among socialists 
than among others, and has kept alive the 
hope of a European community to be 
reconstructed when the war is over. In 
the main, however, the universal disbelief in 
creeds has left tribal feeling triumphant, and 
has made nationalism stronger than at any 
previous period of the world's history. A few 
sincere Christians, a few sincere socialists, have 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

found in their creed a force capable of resist- 
ing the assaults of national passion, but they 
have been too few to influence the course of 
events or even to cause serious anxiety to the 
Governments . 

It is chiefly tribal feeling that generates the 
unity of a national State, but it is not only tribal 
feeling that generates its strength. Its strength 
results principally from two fears, neither of 
which is unreasonable : the fear of crime and 
anarchy within, and the fear of aggression from 

The internal orderliness of a civilized com- 
munity is a great achievement, chiefly brought 
about by the increased authority of the State. 
It would be inconvenient if peaceable citizens 
were constantly in imminent risk of being 
robbed and murdered. Civilized life would 
become almost impossible if adventurous 
people could organize private armies for pur- 
poses of plunder. These conditions existed in 
the Middle Ages, and have not passed away 
without a great struggle. It is thought by 
many especially by the rich, who derive the 
greatest advantage from law and order that 
any diminution in the power of the State might 
bring back a condition of universal anarchy. 
They regard strikes as portents of dissolution. 
They are terrified by such organizations as the 
Confederation Ge'ne'rale du Travail and the 
International Workers of the World. They 


The State 

remember the French Revolution, and feel a 
not unnatural desire to keep their heads on 
their shoulders. They dread particularly any 
political theory which seems to excuse private 
crimes, such as sabotage and political assas- 
sination. Against these dangers they see no 
protection except the maintenance of the 
authority of the State, and the belief that all 
resistance to the State is wicked. 

Fear of the danger within is enhanced by 
fear of the danger without. Every State is 
exposed at all times to the risk of foreign 
invasion. No means has hitherto been devised 
for minimizing this risk except the increase of 
armaments. But the armaments which are 
nominally intended to repel invasion may also 
be used to invade. And so the means adopted 
to diminish the external fear have the effect 
of increasing it, and of enormously enhancing 
the destructiveness of war when it does break 
out, In this way a reign of terror becomes 
universal, and the State acquires everywhere 
something of the character of the Comite du 
Salut Public. 

The tribal feeling out of which the State 
develops is natural, and the fear by which 
the State is strengthened is reasonable under 
present circumstances. And in addition to 
these two, there is a third source of strength 
in a national State, namely patriotism in its 
religious aspect. 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

Patriotism is a very complex feeling, built 
up out of primitive instincts and highly intel- 
lectual convictions. There is love of home 
and family and friends, making us peculiarly 
anxious to preserve our own country from in- 
vasion. There is the mild instinctive liking 
for compatriots as against foreigners. There 
is pride, which is bound up with the success 
of the community to which we feel that we 
belong. There is a belief, suggested by pride 
but reinforced by history, that one's own nation 
represents a great tradition and stands for 
ideals that are important to the human race. 
But besides all these, there is another element, 
at once nobler and more open to attack, an 
element of worship, of willing sacrifice, of joy- 
ful merging of the individual life in the life 
of the nation. This religious element in 
patriotism is essential to the strength of the 
State, since it enlists the best that is in most 
men on the side of national sacrifice. 

The religious element in patriotism is rein- 
forced by education, especially by a know- 
ledge of the history and literature of one's own 
country, provided it is not accompanied by 
much knowledge of the history and literature 
of other countries. In every civilized country 
all instruction of the young emphasizes the 
merits of their own nation and the faults of 
other nations. It comes to be universally 
believed that one's own nation, because of its 


The State 

superiority, deserves support in a quarrel, how- 
ever the quarrel may have originated. This 
belief is so genuine and deep that it makes 
men endure patiently, almost gladly, the losses 
and hardships and sufferings entailed by war. 
Like all sincerely believed religions, it gives 
an outlook on life, based upon instinct but 
sublimating it, causing a devotion to an end 
greater than any personal end, but containing 
many personal ends as it were in solution. 

Patriotism as a religion is unsatisfactory 
because of its lack of universality. The good at 
which it aims is a good for one's own nation 
only, not for all mankind. The desires which it 
inspires in an Englishman are not the same as 
the desires which it inspires in a German. A 
world full of patriots may be a world full of 
strife. The more intensely a nation believes 
in its patriotism, the more fanatically indif- 
ferent it will become to the damage suffered by 
other nations. When once men have learnt 
to subordinate their own good to the good of 
a larger whole, there can be no valid reason 
for stopping short of the human race. It is 
the admixture of national pride that makes it 
so easy in practice for men's impulses towards 
sacrifice to stop short at the frontiers of their 
own country. It is this admixture that poisons 
patriotism, and makes it inferior, as a religion, 
to beliefs which aim at the salvation of all 
mankind. We cannot avoid having more love 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

for our own country than for other countries, 
and there is no reason why we should wish to 
avoid it, any more than we should wish to love 
all individual men and women equally. But 
any adequate religion will lead us to temper 
inequality of affection by love of justice, and 
to universalize our aims by realizing the com- 
mon needs of man. This change was effected 
by Christianity in Judaism, and must be 
effected in any merely national religion before 
it can be purged of evil. 

In practice, patriotism has many other 
enemies to contend with. Cosmopolitanism 
cannot fail to grow as men acquire more know- 
ledge of foreign countries by education and 
travel. There is also a kind of individualism 
which is continually increasing, a realization 
that every man ought to be as nearly free as 
possible to choose his own ends, not compelled 
by a geographical accident to pursue ends 
forced upon him by the community. Socialism, 
syndicalism, and anti-capitalist movements 
generally, are against patriotism in their ten- 
dency, since they make men aware that the 
present State is largely concerned in defend- 
ing the privileges of the rich, and that many 
of the conflicts between States have their 
origin in the financial interests of a few pluto- 
crats. This kind of opposition is perhaps 
temporary, a mere incident in the struggle of 
labour to acquire power. Australia, where 


The State 

labour feels its triumph secure, is full of 
patriotism and militarism, based upon deter- 
mination to prevent foreign labour from sharing 
the benefits of a privileged position. It is not 
unlikely that England might develop a similar 
nationalism if it became a socialist State. 
But it is probable that such nationalism would 
be purely defensive. Schemes of foreign 
aggression, entailing great loss of life and 
wealth in the nation which adopts them, would 
hardly be initiated except by those whose 
instincts of dominion have been sharpened 
through the power derived from private 
property and the institutions of the capitalist 

The evil wrought in the modern world by the 
excessive power of the State is very great, and 
very little recognized. 

The chief harm wrought by the State is 
promotion of efficiency in war. If all States 
increase their strength, the balance of power 
is unchanged, and no one State has a better 
chance of victory than before. And when the 
means of offence exist, even though their 
original purpose may have been defensive, the 
temptation to use them is likely, sooner or 
later, to prove overwhelming. In this way the 
very measures which promoted security within 
the borders of the State promote insecurity 
elsewhere. It is of the essence of the State 
to suppress violence within and to facilitate 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

it without. The State makes an entirely arti- 
ficial division of mankind and of our duties 
towards them : towards one group we are 
bound by the law, towards the other only by 
the prudence of highwaymen. The State is 
rendered evil by its exclusions, and by the 
fact that, whenever it embarks upon aggressive 
war, it becomes a combination of men for 
murder and robbery. The present system is 
irrational, since external and internal anarchy 
must be both right or both wrong. It is sup- 
ported because, so long as others adopt it, it 
is thought the only road to safety, and because 
it secures the pleasures of triumph and 
dominion, which cannot be obtained in a good 
community. If these pleasures were no longer 
sought, or no longer possible to obtain, the 
problem of securing safety from invasion would 
not be difficult. 

Apart from war, the modern great State 
is harmful from its vastness and the resulting 
sense of individual helplessness. The citizen 
who is out of sympathy with the aims of the 
State, unless he is a man of very rare gifts,, 
cannot hope to persuade the State to adopt 
purposes which seem to him better. Even in 
a democracy, all questions except a very few 
are decided by a small number of officials and 
eminent men ; and even the few questions 
which are left to the popular vote are decided 
by a diffused mass -psychology, not by indi- 


The State 

vidual initiative. This is especially noticeable 
in a country like the United States, where, in 
spite of democracy, most men have a sense 
of almost complete impotence in regard to all 
large issues. In so vast a country the popular 
will is like one of the forces of Nature, 
and seems nearly as much outside the control 
of any one man. This state of things leads, 
not only in America but in all large States, to 
something of the weariness and discouragement 
that we associate with the Roman Empire. 
Modern States, as opposed to the small city 
States of ancient Greece or mediaeval Italy, 
leave little room for initiative, and fail to 
develop in most men any sense of ability to 
control their political destinies. The few men 
who achieve power in such States are men of 
abnormal ambition and thirst for dominion, 
combined with skill in cajolery and subtlety 
in negotiation. All the rest are dwarfed by 
knowledge of their own impotence. 

A curious survival from the old monarchical 
idea of the State is the belief that there is some 
peculiar wickedness in a wish to secede on 
the part of any section of the population. If 
Ireland or Poland desires independence, it is 
thought obvious that this desire must be strenu- 
ously resisted, and any attempt to secure it is 
condemned as ' high treason." The only 
instance to the contrary that I can remember 
is the separation of Norway and Sweden, which 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

was commended but not imitated. In other 
cases, nothing but defeat in war has induced 
States to part with territory : although this 
attitude is taken for granted, it is not one which 
would be adopted if the State had better ends 
in view. The reason for its adoption is that 
the chief end of almost all great States is power, 
especially power in war. And power in war 
is often increased by the inclusion of unwilling 
citizens. If the well-being of the citizens were 
the end in view, the question whether a certain 
area should be included, or should form a 
separate State, would be left freely to the 
decision of that area. If this principle were 
adopted, one of the main reasons for war would 
be obviated, and one of the most tyrannical 
elements in the State would be removed. 

The principal source of the harm done by 
the State is the fact that power is its chief 
end. This is not the case in America, because 
America is safe against aggression ' ; but in 
all other great nations the chief aim of the 
State is to possess the greatest possible amount 
of external force. To this end, the liberty of the 
citizens is curtailed, and anti-militarist propa- 
ganda is severely punished. This attitude is 
rooted in pride and fear : pride, which refuses 
to be conciliatory, and fear, which dreads the 
results of foreign pride conflicting with our 
own pride. It seems something of a historical 

1 This was written in 1915. 

The State 

accident that these two passions, which by no 
means exhaust the political passions of the 
ordinary man, should so completely determine 
the external policy of the Sta,te . Without ipride, 
there would be no occasion for fear : fear on 
the part of one nation is due to the supposed 
pride of another nation. Pride of dominion, 
unwillingness to decide disputes otherwise than 
by force or the threat of force, is a habit of 
mind greatly encouraged by the possession of 
power. Those who have long been in the 
habit of exercising power become autocratic 
and quarrelsome, incapable of regarding an 
equal otherwise than as a rival. It is notorious 
that head masters' conferences are more liable 
to violent disagreements than most similar 
bodies : each head master tries to treat the 
others as he treats his own boys ; they resent 
such treatment, and he resents their resentment . 
Men who have the habit of authority are 
peculiarly unfit for friendly negotiation ; <but 
the official relations of States are mainly in the 
hands of men with a great deal of authority in 
their own country. This is, of course, more 
particularly the case where there is a monarch 
who actually governs. It is less true where 
there is a governing oligarchy, and still less 
true where there is some approach to real 
democracy. But it is true to a considerable 
extent in all countries, because Prime Ministers 
and Foreign Secretaries are necessarily men 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

in authority. The first step towards remedying 
this state of things is a genuine interest in 
foreign affairs on the part of the ordinary 
citizen, and an insistence that national pride 
shall not be allowed to jeopardize his other 
interests. During War, when he is roused, he is 
willing to sacrifice everything to pride ; but in 
quiet times he will be far more ready than men 
in authority to realize that foreign affairs, like 
private concerns, ought to be settled amicably 
according to principles, not brutally by force 
or the threat of force . 

The effect of personal bias in the men who 
actually compose the Government may be seen 
very clearly in labour disputes. French syndi- 
calists affirm that the State is simply a product 
of capitalism, a part of the weapons which 
capital employs in its conflict with labour. 
Even in democratic States there is much to 
bear out this view. In strikes it is common 
to order out the soldiers to coerce the strikers ; 
although the employers are much fewer, and 
much easier to coerce, the soldiers are never 
employed against them. When labour troubles 
paralyse the industry of a country, it is the 
men who are thought to be unpatriotic, not 
the masters, though clearly the responsibility 
belongs to both sides. The chief reason for 
this attitude on the part of Governments 
is that the men composing them belong, by 
their success if not by their origin, to the same 


The State 

class as the great employers of labour. Their 
bias and their associates combine to make 
them view strikes and lock-outs from the 
standpoint of the rich. In a democracy public 
opinion and the need of conciliating political 
supporters partially correct these plutocratic 
influences, but the correction is always only 
partial. And the same influences which warp 
the views of Governments on labour questions 
also warp their views on foreign affairs, with 
the added disadvantage that the ordinary citizen 
has much fewer means of arriving at an 
independent judgment. 

The excessive power of the State, partly 
through internal oppression, but principally 
through war and the fear of war, is one of the 
chief causes of misery in the modern world, 
and one of the main reasons for the discourage- 
ment which prevents men from growing to their 
full mental stature. Some means of curing 
this excessive power must be found if men 
are not to be organized into despair, as they 
were in the Roman Empire. 

The State has one purpose which is on the 
whole good, namely, the substitution of law 
for force in the relations of men. But this 
purpose can only be fully achieved by a 
world-State, without which international rela- 
tions cannot be made subject to law. And 
although law is better than force, law is still 
not the best way of settling disputes. Law 

65 E 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

is too static, too much on the side af what 
is -decaying, too little on the side of what is 
growing . So long as law is in theory supreme, 
it will (have to 'be tempered, from time to time, 
by internal revolution and external war. These 
can pnly be prevented by perpetual readiness 
to alter the law in accordance with the present 
balance of forces. If this is not done, the 
motives for appealing to force will sooner or 
later become irresistible. A world -State or 
federation of States, if it is to be successful, 
will have to decide questions, not by the legal 
maxims which would be applied by the Hague 
tribunal, but as far as possible in the same 
sense in which they would be decided by war. 
The function of authority should be to render 
the appeal to force unnecessary, not to give 
decisions contrary to those which would be 
reached by force. 

This view may be thought by some to be 
immoral. It may be said that the object of 
civilization should be to secure justice, not to 
give the victory to the strong. But when this 
antithesis is allowed to pass, it is forgotten 
that love of justice may itself set force in 
motion. A Legislature which wishes to decide 
an issue in' the same way as it would be decided 
if there were an aplpeal to force will necessarily 
take account of justice, .provided justice is so 
flagrantly on one side that disinterested parties 
are willing to take up the quarrel. If a strong 


The State 

man assaults a weak man in the streets of 
London, the balance of force is on the side 
of the weak man, because, even if the police 
did not appear, casual passers-by would step 
in to defend him. It is sheer cant to speak of 
a contest of might against right, and at the 
same time to hope for a victory of the right. 
If the contest is really between might and right, 
that { m\eans that right will be beaten. What 
is obscurely intended, when this phrase is 
used, is that the stronger side is only rendered 
stronger by men's Isense of right. But men's 
sense of right is very subjective, and is only 
one factor in deciding the preponderance of 
force. What is desirable in a Legislature is, 
not that it should decide by its personal sense 
of right, but that at should decide in a way 
which is felt to make an appeal to force 

Having considered what the State ought not 
to do, I come now to what it ought to do. 

Apart from war and the preservation of 
internal order, there are certain more positive 
functions which the State performs, and 
certain others which it ought to perform. 

We may lay down two principles as regards 
these .positive functions. 

First : there are matters in which the wel- 
fare of the whole community depends upon the 
practically universal attainment of a certain 
minimum ; in such cases the State has the 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

right to insist upon this minimum being 
attained . 

Secondly : there are ways in which, by 
insisting upon the maintenance of law, the 
State, if it does nothing further, renders 
possible various forms of injustice which 
would otherwise be prevented by the anger of 
their victims. Such injustices ought, as far as 
possible, to be prevented by the State. 

The most obvious example of a matter where 
the general welfare depends upon a universal 
minimum is sanitation and the prevention lof 
infectious diseases. A single case of plague, 
if it is neglected, may cause disaster to a whole 
community. No one can reasonably maintain, 
on general grounds of liberty, that a man 
suffering from plague ought to be left free to 
spread infection far and wide. Exactly similar 
considerations apply to drainage, notification 
of fevers, and kindred matters. The inter- 
ference with liberty remains an evil, but in 
some cases it is clearly a smaller evil than the 
spread of disease which liberty would produce. 
The stamping out of malaria and yellow fever 
by destroying mosquitoes is perhaps the most 
striking example of the good which can be 
done in this way. But when the good is small 
or doubtful, and the interference with liberty 
is great, it becomes better to endure a certain 
amount of preventable disease rather than' 
suffer a scientific tyranny. 


The State 

Compulsory education comes under the same 
head as sanitation. The existence of ignorant 
masses in a population is a danger to the com- 
munity ; when a considerable percentage are 
illiterate, the whole machinery of government 
has to take account of the fact. Democracy 
in its modern form would be quite impossible 
in a nation where many men cannot read. But 
in this case there is not the same need of 
absolute universality as in the case of sanitary 
measures. The gipsies, whose mode of life 
has been rendered almost impossible by the 
education authorities, might well have been 
allowed to remain a picturesque exception. 
But apart from such rather unimportant excep- 
tions, the argument for compulsory education 
is irresistible. 

What the State does for the care of children 
at present is less than what ought to be done, 
not more. Children are not capable of looking 
after their own interests, and parental responsi- 
bility is in many ways inadequate. It is clear 
that the State alone can insist upon the children 
being provided with the minimum of knowledge 
and health which, for the time being, satisfies 
the conscience of the community. 

The encouragement of scientific research is 
another matter which comes rightly within the 
powers of the State, because the benefits of 
discoveries accrue to the community, while 
the investigations are expensive and never 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

individually certain of achieving any result . In 
this matter, Great Britain lags behind all other 
civilized countries. 

The second kind of powers which the State 
ought to possess afe those that aim at dimin- 
ishing economic injustice. It is this kind 
that 'has been emphasized 1 by socialists. The 
law creates or facilitates monopolies, and 
monopolies are able to exact a toll from the 
community. The most glaring example is the 
private ownership of land. Railways are at 
present controlled by the State, since rates are 
fixed by law ; and it is clear that if they were 
uncontrolled, they would acquire a dangerous 
degree of power. 1 Such considerations, if they 
stood alone would justify complete socialism. 
But I think justice, by itself, is, like law, too 
static to be made a supreme political prin- 
ciple : it does not, when it has been achieved, 
contain any seeds of new life or any impetus 
to development. For this reason, when we 
wish to remedy an injustice, it is important 
to consider whether, in so doing, we shall be 
destroying the incentive to some form of 
vigorous action which is on the whole useful 
to the cotntaunity. No such form of action, 
so far as I can see, is associated with private 
ownership of land or of any other source of 
economic rent ; if this is the case, it follows 

1 This would be as true under a syndicalist regime as it is 
at present. 


The State 

that the State ought to be the primary recipient 
of rent. 

If all these powers are allowed to the 
State, what becomes of the attempt to rescue 
individual liberty from its tyranny? 

This is part of the general problem which 
confronts all those who still care for the ideals 
which inspired liberalism, namely the problem 
of combining liberty and personal initiative with 
organization. Politics and economics are more 
and more dominated by vast organizations, in 
face of which the individual is in danger of 
becoming powerless. The State is the greatest 
of these organizations, and the most serious 
menace to liberty. And' yet it seems that many 
of its functions must be extended rather than 

There is one way by which organization and 
liberty can be combined, and that is, by 
securing power for voluntary organizations, 
consisting of men who have chosen to belong 
to them be'cause they embody some purpose 
which all their members consider important, 
not a purpose imposed by accident or outside 
force. The State, being geographical, cannot 
be a wholly voluntary association, but for that 
very reason there is need of a strong public 
opinion to restrain it from a tyrannical use of 
its powers. This public opinion, in most 
matters, can only be secured by combinations 
of those who have certain interests or desires 
in common. 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

The positive purposes of the State, over and 
above the preservation of order, ought as far 
as possible to be carried out, not by the State 
itself, but by independent organizations, which 
should be left completely free so long as they 
satisfied the State that they were not falling 
below a netessary minimum. This occurs to 
a certain limited extent at present in regard to 
elementary education. The universities, also, 
may be regarded as acting for the State in the 
matter of higher education and research, except 
that in their case no minimum of achievement 
is exacted. In the economic sphere, the State 
ought to exercise control, but ought to leave 
initiative to others. There is every reason to 
multiply opportunities of initiative, and to give 
the greatest possible share of initiative to each 
individual, for if this is not done there will be 
a general sense of impotence and discourage- 
ment. There ought to be a constant endeavour 
to leave the more positive aspects of govern- 
ment in the hands of voluntary organizations, 
the purpose of the .State being merely to exact 
efficiency and to secure an amicable settlement 
of disputes, whether within or without its own 
borders. And with this ought to be combined 
the greatest possible toleration of exceptions 
and the least possible insistence upon uniform 

A good deal may be achieved through local 
government by trades as well as by areas . This 

The State 

is the most original idea in syndicalism, and 
it is valuable as a check upon the tyranny 
which the community may be tempted to 
exercise over certain classes of its members. 
All strong organizations which embody a 
sectional public opinion, such as trade unions, 
co-operative societies, professions, and univer- 
sities, are to be welcomed as safeguards of 
liberty and opportunities for initiative. And 
there is need of a strong public opinion in 
favour of liberty itself. The old battles for 
freedom of thought and freedom of speech, 
which it was thought had been definitively won, 
will have to be fought all over again, since 
most men are only willing to accord freedom 
to opinions which happen to be popular. Insti- 
tutions cannot preserve liberty unless men 
realize that liberty is precious and are willing 
to exert themselves to keep it alive. 

There is a traditional objection to every 
imperium in imperio, but this is only the 
jealousy of the tyrant. In actual fact, the 
modern State contains many organizations 
which it cannot defeat^ except perhaps on rare 
occasions when public opinion is roused against 
them. Mr. Lloyd George's long fight with the 
medical profession over the Insurance Act was 
full of Homeric fluctuations of fortune. The 
Welsh miners in 1915 routed the whole power 
of the State, backed by an excited nation. As 
for the financiers, no Government would dream 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

of a conflict with them 1 . When all other classes 
are exhorted to patriotism, they are allowed 
their 4^ per cent, and an increase of interest 
on their consols. It is well understood on all 
sides that an appeal to their patriotism would 
show gross ignorance of 'the world. It is 
against the traditions of the State to extort 
their money by threatening to withdraw police 
protection. This is not due to the difficulty of 
such a measure, but only to the fact that great 
wealth wins genuine admiration from us all, 
and we cannot 'bear to think of a very rich 
man being treated with disrespect. 

The existence of strong organizations within 
the State, such as trade unions, is not unde- 
sirable except from the point of view of the 
official who wishes to wield unlimited power, 
or of the rival organizations, such as federa- 
tions of employers, which would prefer a dis- 
organized adversary. In view of the vastness of 
the State, most men can find little political out- 
let for initiative except in subordinate organiza- 
tions formed for specific purposes. Without 
an outlet for political initiative, men lose their 
social vigour and their interest in public affairs : 
they become a prey to corrupt wire-pullers, or 
to sensation-mongers who have the art of 
capturing a tired and vagrant attention. The 
cure for this is to increase rather than diminish 
the powers of voluntary organizations, to give 
every man a sphere of political activity small 


The State 

enough for his interest and his capacity, and 
to confine the functions of the State, as far as 
possible, to the maintenance of peace among 
rival interests . The essential merit of the State 
is that it prevents the internal use of force by 
private persons . Its essential demerits are, that 
it promotes the external use of force, and that, 
by its great size, it makes each individual feel 
impotent even in a democracy. I shall return 
in a later lecture to the question of preventing 
war. The prevention of the sense of individual 
impotence cannot be achieved by a return to 
the small City State, which would be as 
reactionary as a return to the days before 
machinery. It must be achieved by a method 
which is in the direction of present tendencies,. 
Such a method would be the increasing devolu- 
tion of positive political initiative to bodies 
formed voluntarily for specific purposes, leaving 
the State rather in the position of a federal 
authority or a court of arbitration. The State 
would then confine itself to insisting upon some 
settlement of rival interests : its only principle 
in deciding what is the right settlement would be 
an attempt to find the measure most acceptable, 
on the whole, to all the parties concerned. 
This is the direction in which democratic States 
naturally tend, except in so far as they are 
turned aside by war or the fear of war. So 
long as war remains a daily imminent danger, 
the State will remain a Moloch, sacrificing 


Principles .of Social Reconstruction 

sometimes the life of the individual, and always 
his unfettered development, to the barren 
struggle for mastery in the competition with 
other States. In internal as in external affairs, 
the worst enemy of freedom is war. 




IN spite of the fact that most nations, at most 
times, are at peace, war is one of the per- 
manent institutions of all free communities, just 
as Parliament is one of our permanent insti- 
tutions in spite of the fact that it is not always 
sitting. It is war as a permanent institution 
that I wish to consider : why men tolerate 
it ; why they ought not to tolerate it ; what 
hope there is of their coming not to tolerate 
it ; and how they could abolish it if they 
wished to do so. 

War is a conflict between two groups, each 
of which attempts to kill and maim as many 
as possible of the other group in order to 
achieve some object which it desires. The 
object is generally either power or wealth. It 
is a pleasure to exercise authority over other 
men, and it is a pleasure to live on the produce 
of other men's labour. The victor in war 
can enjoy more of these delights than the van- 
quished. But war, like all other natural 
activities, is not so much prompted by the 
end which it has in view as by an impulse to 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

the activity itself. Very often men desire an 
end, not on its own account, but because their 
nature demands the actions which will lead 
to the end. And so it is in this case : the ends 
to be achieved by war appear in prospect far 
more important than they will appear when 
they are realized, because war itself is a fulfil- 
ment of one side of our nature. If men's 
actions sprang from desires for what would 
in fact bring happiness, the purely rational 
arguments against war would have long ago 
put an end to it. What makes war difficult 
to suppress is that it springs from an impulse, 
rather than from a calculation of the advan- 
tages to be derived from war. 

War differs from the employment of force 
by the police through the fact that the actions 
of the police are ordered by a neutral authority, 
whereas in war it is the parties to the dispute 
themselves who set force in motion. This 
distinction is not absolute, since the State is 
not always wholly neutral in internal dis- 
turbances. When strikers are shot down, the 
State is taking the iside of the rich. When 
opinions adverse to the existing State are 
punished, the State is obviously one of the 
parties to the dispute. And from the sup- 
pression of individual opinion up to civil war 
all gradations are possible. But broadly 
speaking, force employed according to laws 
previously laid down by the community as ;\ 


War as an Institution 

whole may be distinguished from force em- 
ployed by one community against another on 
occasions of which the one community is the 
sole judge. I have dwelt upon this difference 
because I do not think the use of force by 
the police can be wholly eliminated, and I 
think a similar use of force in international 
affairs is the best hope of permanent peace. 
At present, international affairs are regulated 
by the principle that a nation must not inter- 
vene unless its interests are involved : diplo- 
matic usage forbids intervention for the mere 
maintenance of international law . America knay 
protest when American citizens are drowned 
by German submarines, but must not protest 
when no American citizens are involved. The 
case would be analogous in internal affairs if 
the police would only interfere with murder 
when it happened that a policeman had been 
killed. So long as this principle prevails in 
the relations of States, the power of neutrals 
cannot be effectively employed to prevent war. 
In every civilized country two forces co- 
operate to produce war. In ordinary times 
some men usually a small proportion of the 
population are bellicose : they predict war, 
and obviously are not unhappy in the prospect. 
So long as war is not imminent, the bulk of 
the population pay little attention to these 
men, and do not actively either support or 
oppose them. But when war begins to seem 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

very near, a war -fever seizes hold of people, 
and those who were already bellicose find 
themselves enthusiastically supported by all but 
an insignificant minority. The impulses which 
inspire war -fever are rather different from those 
which make some men bellicose in ordinary 
times. Only educated men are likely to be 
warlike at ordinary times, since they alone are 
vividly aware of other countries or of the part 
which their own nation might play in the affairs 
of the world. But it is only their knowledge, 
not their nature, that distinguishes them from 
their more ignorant 'compatriots. 

To take the most obvious example, German 
policy, in recent years before the war, was not 
averse from war, and not friendly to England. 
It is worth while to try to understand the state 
of mind from which this policy sprang. 

The men who direct German policy are, to 
begin with, patriotic to an extent which is 
almost unknown in France and England. The 
interests of Germany appear to them unques- 
tionably the only interests they need take into 
account. What injury may, in pursuing those 
interests, be done to other nations, what 
destruction may be brought upon populations 
and cities, what irreparable damage may result 
to civilization, it is not for them to consider. 
If they can confer what they regard as benefits 
upon Germany, everything else is of no account. 

The second noteworthy point about German 


War as an Institution 

policy is that its conception of national welfare 
is mainly competitive. It is not the intrinsic 
wealth of Germany, whether materially or 
mentally, that the rulers of Germany consider 
important : it is the comparative wealth in the 
competition with other civilized countries . For 
this reason the destruction of good things 
abroad appears to them almost as desirable as 
the creation of good things in Germany. In 
most parts of the world the French are re- 
garded as the most civilized of nations : their 
art and their literature and their way of life 
have an attraction for foreigners which those 
of Germany do not have. The English have 
developed political liberty, and the art of main- 
taining an Empire with a 'minimum 1 of coercion, 
in a way for which Germany, hitherto, has shown 
no aptitude. These are grounds for envy, and 
envy wishes to destroy what is good in other 
countries. German militarists, quite rightly, 
judged that what was best in France and 
England would probably be destroyed by a 
great war, even if France and England were 
not in the end defeated in the actual fighting. 
I have seen a list of young French writers 
killed on the battlefield ; probably the Ger- 
man authorities have also seen it, and have 
reflected with joy that another year of such 
losses will destroy French literature for a 
generation perhaps, through loss of tradition, 
for ever. Every outburst against liberty in 

81 F 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

our more bellicose newspapers, every incite- 
ment to persecution of defenceless Germans, 
every mark of growing ferocity in our attitude, 
must be read with delight by German patriots, 
as proving their success in robbing us of our 
best, and in forcing us to imitate whatever is 
worst in Prussia. 

But what the rulers of Germany have envied 
us most is power and wealth the power 
derived from command of the seas and the 
straits, the wealth derived from a century of 
industrial supremacy. In both these respects 
they feel that their deserts are higher than 
ours. They have devoted far more thought 
and skill to military and industrial organiza- 
tion. Their average of intelligence and know- 
ledge is far superior ; their capacity for pur- 
suing an attainable end, unitedly and with fore- 
thought, is infinitely greater. Yet we, merely 
(as they think) because we had a start in the 
race, have achieved a vastly larger Empire than 
they have, and an enormously greater control 
of capital . All this is unbearable ; yet nothing 
but a great war can alter it. 

Besides all these feelings, there is in many 
Germans, especially in those who know us best, 
a hot hatred of us on account of our pride. 
Farina ta degli Uberti surveyed Hell " come 
avesse lo Inferno in gran dispitto" Just so, 
by German accounts, English officer prisoners 
look round them among their captors holding 


War as an Institution 

aloof, as though the enemy were noxious un- 
clean creatures, toads or slugs or centipedes, 
which a man does not touch willingly, and 
shakes off with loathing if he is forced to 
touch them for a moment. It is easy to 
imagine how the devils hated Farinata, and 
inflicted greater pains upon him 1 than upon his 
neighbours, hoping to win recognition by some 
slight wincing on his part, driven to frenzy 
by his continuing to behave as if they did not 
exist. In just the same way the Germans are 
maddened by our spiritual immobility. At 
bottom we have regarded the Germans as one 
regards flies on a hot day : they lare a nuisance, 
one has to brush them off, but it would not 
occur to one to be turned aside by them. 
When the initial certainty of victory faded for 
a time we began to be affected inwardly by 
the Germans. If we had continued to fail in 
our military enterprises, we should in time have 
realized that they are human beings, not 'just 
a tiresome circumstance. Then perhaps we 
should have hated them with a hatred which 
they would have had no reason to resent . And 
from such a hatred it would be only a short 
journey to a genuine rapprochement. 

The problem which must be solved, if the 
future of the world is to be less terrible than its 
present, is the problem of preventing nations 
from getting into the moods of England and 
Germany at the outbreak of the war. These 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

two nations as they were at that moment might 
be taken as almost mythical representatives of 
pride and envy cold pride and hot envy. Ger- 
many declaimed passionately : " You, England, 
swollen and decrepit, you overshadow my whole 
growth your rotting branches keep the sun 
from shining upon me and the rain from nour- 
ishing me. Your spreading foliage must be 
lopped, your symmetrical beauty must be 
destroyed, that I too may have freedom to grow, 
that my young vigour may no longer be im- 
peded by your decaying mass." England, 
bored and aloof, unconscious of the claims of 
outside forces, attempted absent-mindedly to 
sweep away the upstart disturber of medita- 
tion ; but the upstart was not swept away, 
and remains even now with some prospect of 
making good his claim. The claim and the 
resistance to it are alike folly. Germany had 
no good ground for envy ; we had no good 
ground for resisting whatever in Germany's 
demands was compatible with our continued 
existence. Is there any method of averting 
such reciprocal folly in the future? 

I think if either the English or the Germans 
were capable of thinking in terms of indi- 
vidual welfare rather than national pride, they 
would have seen that, at every moment during 
the war the wisest course would have been to 
conclude peace at once, on the best terms that 
could have been obtained. This course, I am 


War as an Institution 

convinced, would have been the wisest for each 
separate nation, as well as for civilization in 
general. The utmost evil that the enemy could 
inflict through an unfavourable peace would 
be a trifle compared to the evil which all the 
nations inflict upon themselves by continuing 
to fight. What blinds us to this obvious fact 
is pride, the pride which makes the acknow- 
ledgment of defeat intolerable, and clothes 
itself in the garb of reason by suggesting all 
kinds of evils which are supposed to result 
from admitting defeat. But the only real evil 
of defeat is humiliation, and humiliation is sub- 
jective ; we shall not feel humiliated if we 
become persuaded that it was a mistake to 
engage in the war, and that it is better to 
pursue other tasks not dependent upon world- 
dominion. If either the English or the Ger- 
mans could admit this inwardly, any peace 
which did not destroy national independence 
could be accepted without real loss in the self- 
respect which is essential to a good life. 

The mood in which Germany embarked upon 
the war was abominable, but it was a mood 
fostered by the habitual mood of England. 
We have prided ourselves upon our territory 
and our wealth ; we have been ready at all 
times to defend by force of arms what we have 
conquered in India and Africa. If we had 
realized the futility of empire, and had shown 
a willingness to yield colonies to Germany 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

without waiting for the threat of force, we 
might have been in a position to persuade 
the Germans that their ambitions were foolish, 
and that the respect of the world was not to 
be won by an imperialist policy. But by our 
resistance we showed that we shared their 
standards. We, being in possession, became 
enamoured of the status quo. The Germans 
were willing to make war to upset the status 
quo ; we were willing to make war to prevent 
its being upset in Germany's favour. So con- 
vinced were we of the sacredness of the status 
quo that we never realized how advantageous 
it was to us, or how, by insisting upon it, we 
shared the responsibility for the war. In a 
world where nations grow and decay, where 
forces change and populations become cramped, 
it is not possible or desirable to maintain the 
status quo for ever. If peace is to be pre- 
served, nations must learn to accept unfavour- 
able alterations of the map without feeling that 
they must first be defeated in war, or that 
in yielding they incur a humiliation. 

It is the insistence of legalists and friends 
of peace upon the maintenance of the status 
quo that has driven Germany into militarism. 
Germany had as good a right to an Empire as 
any other Great Power, but could only acquire 
an Empire through war. Love of peace has 
been too much associated with a static con- 
ception of international relations. In economic 


War as an Institution 

disputes we all know that whatever is vigorous 
in the wage -earning classes is opposed to 
" industrial peace," because the existing dis- 
tribution of wealth is felt to be unfair. Those 
who enjoy a privileged position endeavour to 
bolster up their claims by appealing to the 
desire for peace, and decrying those who pro- 
mote strife between the classes. It never 
occurs to them that by opposing changes 
without considering whether they are just, 
the capitalists share the responsibility for the 
class war. And in exactly the same way 
England shares the responsibility for Ger- 
many's war. If actual war is ever to cease 
there will have to be political methods of 
achieving the results which now can only be 
achieved by successful fighting, and nations 
will have voluntarily to admit adverse claims 
which appear just in the judgment of neutrals. 
It is only by some such admission, embody- 
ing itself in a Parliament of the nations with 
full power to alter the distribution of territory, 
that militarism can be permanently overcome. 
It may be that the present war will bring, in 
the -Western nations, a change of mood and 
outlook sufficient to make such an institution 
possible. It may be that more wars and 
more destruction will be necessary before the 
majority of civilized men rebel against the 
brutality and futile destruction of modern war. 
But unless our standards of civilization and 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

our powers of constructive thought are to be 
permanently lowered, I cannot doubt that, 
sooner or later, reason will conquer the blind 
impulses which now lead nations into war. 
And if a large majority of the Great Powers 
had a firm determination that peace should 
be preserved, there would be no difficulty in 
devising diplomatic machinery for the settle- 
ment of disputes, and in establishing educa- 
tional system's which would implant in the 
minds of the young an ineradicable horror of 
the slaughter which they are now taught to 
admire . 

Besides the conscious and deliberate forces 
leading to war, there are the inarticulate feel- 
ings of common men, which, in most civilized 
countries, are always ready to burst into war 
fever at the bidding of statesmen. If peace 
is to be secure, the readiness to catch war 
fever must be somehow diminished. -Whoever 
wishes to succeed in this must first under- 
stand what war fever is and why it arises. 

The men who have an important influence 
in the world, whether for good or evil, are 
dominated as a rule by a threefold desire : 
they desire, first, an activity which calls fully 
into play the faculties in which they feel that 
they excel ; secondly, the sense of successfully 
overcoming resistance ; thirdly, the respect of 
others on account of their success. The third 
of these desires is sometimes absent : some 


War as an Institution 

men who have been great have been without 
the " last infirmity," and have been content 
with their own sense of success, or merely with 
the joy of difficult effort. But as a rule all 
three are present. Some men's talents are 
specialized, so that their choice of activities is 
circumscribed by the nature of their faculties ; 
other men have, in youth, such a wide range 
of possible aptitudes that their choice is chiefly 
determined by the varying degrees of respect 
which public opinion gives to different kinds 
of success. 

The same desires, usually in a less marked 
degree, exist in men who have no exceptional 
talents. But such men cannot achieve any- 
thing very difficult by their individual efforts ; 
for them, as units, it is impossible to acquire 
the sense of greatness or the triumph of strong 
resistance overcome. Their separate lives are 
unadventurous and dull. In the morning they 
go to the office or the plough, in the evening 
they return, tired and silent, to the sober 
monotony of wife and children. Believing that 
security is the supreme good, they have insured 
against sickness and death, and have found 
an employment where they have little fear of 
dismissal and no hope of any great rise. But 
security, once achieved, brings a Nemesis of 
ennui. Adventure, imagination, risk, also have 
their claims ; but how can these claims be 
satisfied by the ordinary wage-earner? Even 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

if it were possible to satisfy them, the claims 
of wife and children have priority and must 
not be neglected. 

To this victim of order and good organiza- 
tion the realization comes, in some moment of 
sudden crisis, that he belongs to a nation, that 
his nation may take risks, may engage in 
difficult enterprises, enjoy the hot passion of 
doubtful combat, stimulate adventure and 
imagination by military expeditions to Mount 
Sinai and the Garden of Eden. What his 
nation does, in some sense, he does ; what his 
nation suffers, he suffers. The long years of 
private caution are avenged by a wild plunge 
into public madness. All the horrid duties 
of thrift and order and care which he has 
learnt to fulfil in private are thought not to 
apply to public affairs : it is patriotic and noble 
to be reckless for the nation, though it would 
be wicked to be reckless for oneself. The 
old primitive passions, which civilization has 
denied, surge up all the stronger for repression . 
In a moment imagination and instinct travel 
back through the centuries, and the wild man 
of the woods emerges from the mental prison 
in which he has been confined. This is the 
deeper part of the psychology of the war 
fever . 

But besides the irrational and instinctive 
element in the war fever, there is always also, 
if only as a liberator of primitive impulse, a 


War as an Institution 

certain amount of quasi -rational calculation and 
what is euphemistically called " thought." The 
war fever very seldom 1 seizes a nation unless 
it believes that it will be victorious. Un- 
doubtedly, under the influence of excitement, 
men over-estimate their chances of success ; 
but there is some proportion between what 
is hoped and what a rational man would expect . 
Holland, though quite as humane as England, 
had no impulse to go to war on behalf of 
Belgium, because the likelihood of disaster was 
so obviously overwhelming. The London 
populace, if they had known how the war was 
going to develop, would not have rejoiced as 
they did on that August Bank Holiday long 
ago. A nation which has had a recent ex- 
perience of war, and has come to know that a 
war is almost always more painful than it is 
expected to be at the outset, becomes much 
less liable to war fever until a new generation 
grows up. The element of rationality in war 
fever is recognized by Governments and jour- 
nalists who desire war, as may be seen by their 
invariably minimizing the perils of a war which 
they wish to provoke. At the beginning of 
the South African War Sir William Butler 
was dismissed, apparently for suggesting that 
sixty thousand men and three months might 
not suffice to subdue the Boer Republics. And 
when the war proved long and difficult, the 
nation turned against those who had made it. 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

We may assume, I think, without attributing 
too great a share to reason in human affairs, 
that a nation would not suffer from war fever 
in a case where every sane man could see that 
defeat was very probable. 

The importance of this lies in the fact that 
it would make aggressive war very unlikely 
if its chances of success were very small. If 
the peace-loving nations were sufficiently strong 
to be obviously capable of defeating the 
nations which were willing to wage aggressive 
war, the peace-loving nations might form an 
alliance and agree to fight jointly against any 
nation which refused to submit its claims to 
an International Council. Before the present 
war we might have reasonably hoped to secure 
the peace of the world in some such way ; but 
the military strength of Germany has shown 
that such a scheme has no great chance of 
success at present. Perhaps at some not far 
distant date it may be made more feasible by 
developments of policy in America. 

The economic and political forces which 
make for war could be easily curbed if the 
will to peace existed strongly in all civilized 
nations. But so long as the populations are 
liable to war fever, all work for peace must 
be precarious ; and if war fever could not be 
aroused, political and economic forces would 
be powerless to produce any long or very 

destructive war. The fundamental problem for 


War as an Institution 

the pacifist is to prevent the impulse towards 
war which seizes whole communities from time 
to time. And this can only be done by far- 
reaching changes in education, in the economic 
structure of society, and in the moral code 
by which public opinion controls the lives of 
men and women. 1 

A great many of the impulses which now lead 
nations to go to war are in themselves essential 
to any vigorous or progressive life. Without 
imagination and love of adventure a society 
soon becomes stagnant and begins to decay. 
Conflict, provided it is not destructive and 
brutal, is necessary in order to stimulate men's 
activities, and to secure the victory of what is 
living over what is dead or merely traditional. 
The wish for the triumph of one's cause, the 
sense of solidarity with large bodies of men, 
are not things which a wise man will wish to 
destroy. It is only the outcome in death and 
destruction and hatred that is evil. The 
problem is, to keep these impulses, without 
making war the outlet for them. 

All Utopias that have hitherto been con- 
structed are intolerably dull. Any man with 
any force in him would rather live in this world, 
with all its ghastly horrors, than in Plato's 
Republic or among Swift's Houyhnhnms. The 

1 These changes, which are to be desired on their own 
account, not only in order to prevent war, will be discussed 
in later lectures. 

* 93 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

men who make Utopias proceed upon a radi- 
cally false assumption as to what constitutes 
a good life. They conceive that it is possible 
to imagine a certain state of society and a 
certain way of life which should be once for all 
recognized as good, and should then continue 
for ever and ever. They do not realize that 
much the greater part of a man's happiness 
depends upon activity, and only a very small 
remnant consists in passive enjoyment. Even 
the pleasures which do consist in enjoyment are 
only satisfactory, to most men, when they 
come in the intervals of activity. Social 
reformers, like inventors of Utopias, are apt 
to forget this very obvious fact of human 
nature. They aim rather at securing more 
leisure, and more opportunity for enjoying it, 
than at making work itself more satisfactory, 
more consonant with impulse, and a better 
outlet for creativeness and the desire to employ 
one's faculties. -Work, in the modern world, 
is, to almost all who depend on earnings, mere 
work, not an embodiment of the desire for 
activity. Probably this is to a considerable 
extent inevitable. But in so far as it can be 
prevented something will be done to give a 
peaceful outlet to some of the impulses which 
lead to war. 

It would, of course, be easy to bring about 
peace if there were no vigour in the world. 
The Roman Empire was pacific and unpro- 


War as an Institution 

ductive ; the Athens of Pericles was the most 
productive and almost the most warlike com- 
munity known to history. The only form of 
production in which our own age excels is 
science, and in science Germany, the most war- 
like of Great Powers, is supreme. It is useless 
to multiply examples ; but it is plain that the 
very same vital energy which produces all that 
is best also produces war and the love of war. 
This is the basis of the opposition to pacifism 
felt by many men whose aim's and activities 
are by no means brutal . Pacifiism, in practice, 
too often expresses merely lack of force, not 
the refusal to use force in thwarting others. 
Pacifism, if it is to be both victorious and 
beneficent, must find an outlet, compatible with 
humane feeling, for the vigour which now leads 
nations into war and destruction. 

This problem was considered by William 
James in an admirable address on " The Moral 
Equivalent of War," delivered to a congress of 
pacifists during the Spanish-American War of 
1898. His statement of the problem could not 
be bettered ; and so far as I know, he is 
the only writer who has faced the problem 
adequately. But his solution is not adequate ; 
perhaps no adequate solution is possible. The 
problem, however, is one of degree : every 
additional peaceful outlet for men's energies 
diminishes the force which urges nations 
towards war, and makes war less frequent and 


less fierce. And as a question of degree, it is 
capable of more or less partial solutions. 1 

Every vigorous man needs some kind of 
contest, some sense of resistance overcome, in 
order to feel that he is exercising his faculties. 
Under the influence of economics, a theory 
has grown up that what men desire is wealth ; 
this theory has tended to verify itself, because 
people's actions are often determined by what 
they think they desire rather than by what they 
really desire. The less active members of a 
community often do in fact desire wealth, since 
it enables them to gratify a taste for passive 
enjoyment, and to secure respect without exer- 
tion. But the energetic men who make great 
fortunes seldom desire the actual money : they 
desire the sense of power through a contest, and 
the joy of successful activity. For this reason, 
those who are the most ruthless in making 
money are often the most willing to give it away ; 
there are many notorious examples of this 
among American millionaires. The only ele- 
ment of truth in the economic theory that these 
men are actuated by desire for money is this : 
owing to the fact that money is what is believed 
to be desirable, the making of money is recog- 
nized as the test of success. What is desired is 
visible and indubitable success ; but this can 

1 What is said on this subject in the present lecture is only 
preliminary, since the subsequent lectures all deal with some 
aspect of the same problem. 


War as an Institution 

only be achieved by being one of the few who 
reach a goal which many men would wish to 
reach. For this reason, public opinion has a 
great influence in directing the activities of 
vigorous men. In America a millionaire is 
more respected than a great artist ; this leads 
men who might become either the one or the 
other to choose to become millionaires. In 
Renaissance Italy great artists were more 
respected than millionaires, and the result was 
the opposite of what it is in America. 

Some pacifists and all militarists deprecate 
social and political conflicts. In this the 
militarists are in the right, from their point of 
view; but the pacifists seem to me mistaken. 
Conflicts of party politics, conflicts between 
capital and labour, and generally all those con- 
flicts of principle which do not involve war, 
serve many useful purposes, and do very little 
harm. They increase men's interest in public 
affairs, they afford a comparatively innocent 
outlet for the love of contest, and they help to 
alter laws and institutions, when changing con- 
ditions or greater knowledge create the wish 
for an alteration. Everything that intensifies 
political life tends to bring about a peaceful 
interest of the same kind as the interest which 
leads to desire for war. And in a democratic 
community political questions give every voter 
a sense of initiative and power and respon- 
sibility which relieves his life of something 

97 G 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

of its narrow unadventurousness . The object 
of the pacifist should be to give men more and 
more political control over their own lives, and 
in particular to introduce democracy into the 
management of industry, as the syndicalists 
advise . 

The problem for the reflective pacifist is 
twofold : how to keep his own country at 
peace, and how to preserve the peace of the 
world. It is impossible that the peace of the 
world should be preserved while nations are 
liable to the mood in which Germany entered 
upon the war unless, indeed, one nation were 
so obviously stronger than all others combined 
as to make war unnecessary for that one and 
hopeless for all the others. As this war has 
dragged on its weary length, many people must 
have asked themselves whether national inde- 
pendence is worth the price that has to be 
paid for it, Would it not perhaps be better 
to secure universal peace by the supremacy of 
one Power? "To secure peace by a world 
federation " so a submissive pacifist might 
have argued during the first two years of the 
war" would require some faint glimmerings of 
reason in rulers and peoples, and is therefore 
out of the question ; but to secure it by allow- 
ing Germany to dictate terms to Europe would 
be easy. Since there is no other way of ending 
war " so our advocate of peace at any price 
would contend" let us adopt this way, which 


War as an Institution 

happens at the moment to be open to us." It 
is worth while to consider this view more 
attentively than it is commonly considered. 

There is one great historic example of a 
long peace secured in this way,; I mean the 
Roman Errfpire. We in England boast of the 
Pax *Britannica which we kave imposed, in this 
way, upon the warring races and religions in 
India. If we are right in boasting of this, if 
we have in fact conferred a benefit upon India 
by enforced peace, the Germans would be 
right in boasting if they could impose a Pax 
Germanica upon Europe. Before the war, men 
might have said that India and Europe are not 
analogous, because India is less civilized than 
Europe ; but now, I hope, no one would have 
the effrontery to maintain anything so prepos- 
terous. Repeatedly in modern history there 
has been a chance of achieving European 
unity by the hegemony of a single State ; but 
always England, in obedience to the doctrine 
of the Balance of Power, has prevented this 
consummation, and preserved what our states- 
men have called the " liberties of Europe." 
It is this task upon which we are now engaged. 
But I do not think our statesmen, or any others 
among us, have made much effort to consider 
whether the task is worth what it costs. 

In one case we were clearly wrong : in 
our resistance to revolutionary France. If 
revolutionary France could have conquered the 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

Continent and Great Britain, the world would 
now be happier, more civilized, and more free, 
as well as more peaceful. But revolutionary 
France was a quite exceptional case, because 
its early conquests were made in the name of 
liberty, against tyrants, not against peoples ; 
and everywhere the French armies were 
welcomed as liberators by all except rulers and 
bigots. In the case of Philip II we were as 
clearly right as we were wrong in 1793. But 
in both cases our action is not to be judged 
by some abstract diplomatic conception of the 
" liberties of Europe," but by the ideals of 
the Power seeking hegemony, and by the 
probable effect upon the welfare of ordinary 
men and women throughout Europe. 

" 'Hegemony " is a very vague word, and 
everything turns upon the degree of interfer- 
ence with liberty which jt involves. There is 
a degree of interference with liberty which is 
fatal to many forms of national life ; for 
example, Italy in the seventeenth and eight- 
eenth centuries was crushed by the supremacy 
of Spain and Austria. If the Germans were 
actually to annex French provinces, as they did 
in 1871, they would probably inflict a serious 
injury upon those provinces, and make them 
less fruitful for civilization in general. For 
such reasons national liberty is a matter of 
real importance, and a Europe actually 
governed by Germany would probably be very 


War as an Institution 

dead and unproductive. But if " hegemony " 
merely means increased weight in diplomatic 
questions, more coaling stations and posses- 
sions in Africa, more power of securing advan- 
tageous commercial treaties, then it can hardly 
be supposed that it would do any vital damage 
to other nations ; .certainly it would not do so 
much damage as the present war is doing. I 
cannot doubt that, before the war, a hegemony 
of this kind would have abundantly satisfied 
the Germans. But the effect of the war, so 
far, has been ,to increase immeasurably all the 
dangers which it was intended to avert. We 
have now only the choice between certain 
exhaustion of Europe in fighting Germany and 
possible damage to the national life of France 
by German tyranny. Stated in terms of civi- 
lization and human welfare, not in terms of 
national prestige, that is now in fact the issue. 
Assuming that war is not ended by one State 
conquering all the others, the only way in 
which it can be permanently ended is by a 
world-federation. So long as there are many 
sovereign States, each with its own Army, there 
can be no security that there will not be war. 
There will have to be in the world only one 
Army and one Navy before there will be any 
reason to think that wars have ceased. This 
means that, so far as the military functions 
of the State are concerned, there will be only 
one State, which will be world -wide. 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

The civil functions of the State legislative, 
administrative, and judicial have no very 
essential connection with the military functions, 
and there is no reason why both kinds of 
functions should normally be exercised by the 
same State. There is, in fact, every reason 
why the civil State and the military State 
should be different . The greater modern States 
are already too large for most civil purposes, 
but for military purposes they are not large 
enough, since they are not world-wide. This 
difference as to the desirable area for the two 
kinds of State introduces a certain perplexity 
and hesitation, when it is not realized that the 
two functions have little necessary connection : 
one set of considerations points towards small 
States, the other towards continually larger 
States. Of course, if there were an inter- 
national Army and Navy, there would have to 
be some international authority to set them in 
motion. But this authority need never con- 
cern itself with any of the internal affairs of 
national States : it need only declare the rules 
which should regulate their relations, and pro- 
nounce judicially when those rules have been 
so infringed as to call for the intervention of 
the international force. 'How easily the limits 
of the international authority could be fixed 
may be seen by maoiy actual examples. 

The civil and military State are often 
different in practice, for many purposes. The 

1 02 

War as an Institution 

South American Republics are sovereign 
for all purposes except their relations with 
Europe, in regard to which they are subject to 
the United States : in dealings with Europe, 
the Army and Navy of the United States are 
their Army and Navy. Our self-governing 
Dominions depend for their defence, not upon 
their own forces, but upon our Navy. Most 
Governments, nowadays, do not aim at formal 
annexation of a country which they wish to 
incorporate, but only at a protectorate that 
is, civil autonomy subject to military control. 
Such autonomy is, of course, in practice 
incomplete, because it does not enable the 
" protected " country to adopt measures .which 
are vetoed by the Rower in military control. 
But it may be very nearly complete, as in the 
case of our self-governing Dominions. At the 
other extreme, it may become a mere farce, 
as in Egypt. In the case of an alliance, 
there is complete autonomy of the separate 
allied countries, together with what is .practi- 
cally a combination of their military forces 
into one single force. 

The great advantage of a large military 
State is that it increases the area over which 
internal war is not possible except by revolu- 
tion. If England and Canada have a disagree- 
ment, it is taken; as a matter of course that a 
settlement shall be arrived at by discussion, 
not by force. Still more is this the case if 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

Manchester and Liverpool have a quarrel, in 
spite of the fact that each is autonomous for 
many local purposes. No one would have 
thought it reasonable that Liverpool should go 
to war to prevent the construction of the 
Manchester Ship Canal, although almost any 
two Great Powers would have gone to war 
over an issue of the same relative importance. 
England and Russia would probably have gone 
to war over Persia if they had not been allies ; 
as it is, they arrived by diplomacy at much the 
same iniquitous result as they would otherwise 
have reached by fighting. Australia and Japan 
would probably fight if they were both com- 
pletely independent ; but both depend for their 
liberties upon the British Navy, and therefore 
they have to adjust their differences peaceably. 
The chief disadvantage of a large military 
State is that, when external war occurs, the 
area affected is greater. The quadruple 
Entente forms, for the present, one military 
State ; the result is that, because of a dispute 
between Austria and Serbia, Belgium is 
devastated and Australians are killed in the 
Dardanelles. Another disadvantage is that it 
facilitates oppression. A large military State 
is practically omnipotent against a small State, 
and can impose its will, as England and Russia 
did in Persia and as Austria-Hungary has been 
doing in Serbia. It is impossible to make 
sure of avoiding oppression by any purely 


War as an Institution 

mechanical guarantees ; only a liberal and 
humane spirit can afford a real protection. It 
has been perfectly possible for England to 
oppress Ireland, in spite of democracy and the 
presence of Irish Members at Westminister. 
Nor has the presence of Roles in the Reichstag 
prevented the oppression of Brussian Poland. 
But democracy and representative government 
undoubtedly make oppression less probable : 
they afford a means by which those who 
might be oppressed can cause their wishes and 
grievances to be publicly known, they render 
it certain that only a minority can be oppressed, 
and then only if the majority are nearly unani- 
mous in wishing to oppress them. Also the 
practice of oppression affords much more 
pleasure to the governing classes, who actually 
carry it out, than to the mass of the population . 
For this reason ttop mass of the population, 
where it has power, is likely to be less 
tyrannical than an oligarchy or a bureaucracy. 
In order to prevent war and at the same 
time preserve liberty it is necessary that there 
should be only one military State in the world, 
and that when disputes between different 
countries arise, it should act according to the 
decision of a central authority. This is what 
would naturally result from a federation of the 
world ; if such a thing ever came about. But 
the prospect is remote, and it is worth while 
to consider why it is so remote. 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

The unity of a nation is produced by similar 
habits, instinctive liking, a common history, 
and a common pride. The unity of a nation 
is partly due to intrinsic affinities between its 
citizens, but partly also to the pressure and 
contrast of the outside world : if a nation were 
isolated^ it would not have the same cohesion 
or the same fervour of patriotism. When we 
come to alliances of nations, it is seldom any- 
thing except outside pressure that produces 
solidarity. England and America, to some 
extent, are drawn together by the same causes 
which often make national unity : a ( more or 
less) common language, similar political insti- 
tutions, similar aims in international politics. 
But England, France, and Russia were drawn 
together solely by fear of Germany ; if 
Germany had been annihilated by a natural 
cataclysm, they would at once have begun to 
hate one another, as they did before Germany 
was strong. For this reason, the possibility 
of co-operation in the present alliance against 
Germany affords no ground whatever for 
hoping that all the nations of the world might 
co-operate permanently in a peaceful alliance. 
The present motive for cohesion, namely a 
common fear, 'would be gone, and could not 
be replaced by any other motive unless men's 
thoughts and purposes were very different from 
what they are now. 

The ultimate fact from which war results 

War as an Institution 

is not economic or political, and does not rest 
upon any mechanical difficulty of inventing 
means for the peaceful settlement of inter- 
national disputes . The ultimate fact from which 
war results is the fact that a large propor- 
tion of mankind have an impulse to conflict 
rather than harmony, and can only be brought 
to co-operate with others in resisting or attack- 
ing a common enemy. This is the case in 
private life as 'well as in the relations of States. 
Most men, when they feel themselves suffi- 
ciently strong, set to work to make themselves 
feared rather than loved ; the wish to gain 
the 'good opinion of others is confined, as a 
rule, to those \vho 'have not acquired secure 
power. The impulse to quarrelling and self- 
assertion, the pleasure of getting one's own 
way in spite of opposition, is native to most 
men . It is this impulse, rather than any motive 
of calculated self-interest, which produces war, 
and causes the difficulty of bringing about a 
World -State. 'And this impulse is not confined 
to one nation ; it exists, in varying" degrees, 
in all the vigorous nations of the world. 

But although this impulse is strong, there 
is no reason why it should be allowed to lead 
to war. It was exactly the sarnie impulse 
which led to duelling 1 ; yet now civilized men 
conduct their private quarrels without blood- 
shed. If political contest within a World-State 
were substituted for war, imagination would 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

soon accustom itself to the new situation, as it 
has accustomed itself to the absence of duelling . 
Through the influence of institutions and 
habits, without any fundamental change in 
human nature, men would learn to look back 
upon war as we look upon the burning of 
heretics or upon 'human sacrifice to heathen 
deities. If I were to buy a revolver costing 
several (pounds, in order to shoot my friend 
with a view to stealing sixpence out of his 
pocket, I should be thought neither very wise 
nor very virtuous. But if I can get sixty-five 
million accomplices to join me in this criminal 
absurdity, I become one of a great and 
glorious nation, nobly sacrificing the cost of 
my revolver, perhaps even my life, in order 
to secure the sixpence for the honour of my 
country. Historians, who are almost invari- 
ably sycophants, will praise me and my accom- 
plices if we are successful, and say that we are 
worthy successors of the heroes who overthrew 
the might of Imperial Rome. But if my 
opponents are victorious, if their sixpences are 
defended at the cost of many pounds each 
and the lives of a large proportion of the 
population, then historians will call me a 
brigand (as I am 1 ), and praise the spirit and 
self-sacrifice of those who resisted me. 

War is surrounded with 'glamour, by 
tradition, by Homer and the Old Testament, 
by early education, by elaborate myths as to 


War as an Institution 

the importance of the issues involved, by the 
heroism and self-sacrifice which these myths 
call out. Jephthah sacrificing his daughter is 
a heroic figure, but he would have let her live 
if he had not been deceived by a myth,. 
Mothers sending their sons to the battlefield 
are heroic, but they are as much deceived as 
Jephthah. And, in both cases alike, the 
heroism which issues in cruelty would be 
dispelled if there were not some strain of 
barbarism in the imaginative outlook from 
which myths spring. A God who can be 
pleased by the sacrifice of an innocent girl 
could only be worshipped by men to whom 
the thought of receiving such a sacrifice is 
not wholly abhorrent. iA nation which believes 
that its welfare can only be secured by suffering 
and inflicting hundreds of thousands of equally 
horrible sacrifices, is a nation which has no 
very spiritual conception oif what constitutes 
national welfare. It would be better a hun- 
dredfold to forgo material comfort, power, 
pomp, and outward glory than to kill and be 
killed, to hate and be hated, to throw away 
in a mad moment of fury the bright heritage 
of the ages. We have learnt gradually to free 
our God from the savagery with which the 
primitive Israelites and the Fathers endowed 
Him : few of us now believe that it is His 
pleasure to torture most of the human race in 
an eternity of hell -fire. But we have not yet 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

learnt to free our national ideals from the 
ancient taint. Devotion to the nation is 
perhaps the deepest and most widespread 
religion of thie "present age. Like the ancient 
religions, it demand's its persecutions, its holo- 
causts, its lurid heroic cruelties ; like them, it 
is noble, primitive, brutal, and mad. Now, as 
in the ipast, religion, lagging behind private 
consciences through the weight of tradition, 
steels the hearts of men against mercy and 
their minds against truth. If the world is to 
be saved, men must learn to be noble without 
being cruel, to be filled with faith and yet 
open to truth, to be inspired by great purposes 
without hating those who try to thwart them. 
But before this can happen, men must first 
face the terrible realization that the g'ods before 
whom they have bowed down were false gods 
and the sacrifices they have made were vain. 

1 10 



AMONG the many gloomy novelists of the 
realistic school, perhaps the most full of gloom 
is Gissing. In common with all his characters, 
he lives under the weight of a great oppres- 
sion : the power of the fearful and yet adored 
idol of Money. One of his typical stories 
is " Eve's Ransom," where the heroine, with 
various discreditable subterfuges, throws over 
the poor man whom she loves in order to marry 
the rich man whose income she loves still 
better. The poor man, finding that the rich 
man's income has given her a fuller life and 
a better character than the poor man's love 
could have given her, decides that she has 
done quite right, and that he deserves to be 
punished for his lack of money. In this story, 
as in his other books, Gissing has set forth, 
quite accurately, the actual dominion of money, 
and the impersonal worship which it exacts 
from the great majority of civilized mankind. 
Gissing's facts are undeniable, and yet his 
attitude produces a revolt in any reader who 
has vital passions and masterful desires. His 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

worship of money is bound up with his con- 
sciousness of inward defeat. And in the 
modern world generally, it is the decay of life 
which has promoted the religion of material 
goods ; and 1 the religion of material goods, 
in its turn, has hastened the decay of life on 
which it thrives. The man who worships 
money has ceased to t hope for happiness 
through his own efforts or in his own activities : 
he looks upon happiness as a passive enjoy- 
ment of pleasures derived from the outside 
world. The artist or the lover does not worship 
money in his moments of ardour, because his 
desires are specific, and directed towards 
objects which only he can create. And con- 
versely, the worshipper of money can never 
achieve greatness as an artist or a lover. 

Love of money has been denounced by 
moralists since the world began. I do not wish 
to add another to the moral denunciations, of 
which the efficacy in the past has not been 
encouraging. I wish to show 'how the worship 
of money is both an effect and a cause of 
diminishing vitality, and how our institutions 
might be changed so as to make the worship 
of money grow less and the general vitality 
grow more. It is not the desire for money as 
a means to definite ends that is in question. 
A struggling artist may desire money in order 
to have leisure for his art, but this desire is 
finite, and can be satisfied fully by a very 



modest sum. It is the worship of money that 
I wish to consider : the belief that all values 
may be irieasured in terms of money, and that 
money is the ultimate test of success in life. 
This belief is held in fact, if not in words, by 
multitudes of men and women, and yet it is 
not in harmony with human nature, since it 
ignores vital needs and the instinctive tendency 
towards some specific kind of growth. It 
makes men treat as unimportant those of their 
desires which run counter to the acquisition of 
money, and yet such desires are, as a rule, 
more important to well-being than any increase 
of income. It leads men to mutilate their 
own natures from a mistaken theory of what 
constitutes success, and to give admiration to 
enterprises which add nothing to human 
welfare. It promotes a dead uniformity of 
character and purpose, a diminution in the 
joy of life, and a stress and strain which 
leaves whole communities weary, discouraged, 
and disillusioned. 

America, the pioneer of Western progress, is 
thought by many to display the worship of 
money in its most perfect form. A well-to-do 
American, who already has more than enough 
money to satisfy all reasonable requirements, 
very often continues to work at his office 
with an assiduity which would only be pardon- 
able it starvation were the alternative. 

But England, except among a small minority, 
113 H 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

is almost as much given over to the worship 
of money as America. Love of money in 
England takes, as a rule, the form of 
snobbishly desiring to maintain a certain 
social status, rather than of striving after 
an indefinite increase of income. Men post- 
pone marriage until they have an income 
enabling them to have as many rooms and 
servants in their house as they feel that their 
dignity requires. This makes it necessary for 
them while they are young to keep a watch 
upon their affections, lest they should be led 
into an imprudence : they acquire a cautious 
habit of mind, and a fear of " giving themselves 
away," which makes a free and vigorous life 
impossible. In acting as they do they imagine 
that they are being virtuous, since they would 
feel it a hardship for a woman to be asked to 
descend to a lower social status than that of 
her parents, and a degradation to themselves 
to marry a woman whose social status was not 
equal to their own. The things of nature are 
not valued in comparison with money. It is 
not thought a hardship for a woman to have 
to accept, as her only experience of love, the 
prudent and limited attentions of a man whose 
capacity for emotion has been lost during years 
of wise restraint or sordid relations with women 
whom he did not respect. The woman herself 
does not know that it is a hardship ; for she, 
too, has been taught prudence for fear of a 



descent in the social scale, and from early youth 
she has had it instilled into her that strong! 
feeling does not become a young woman. So 
the two unite to slip through life in ignorance 
of all that is worth knowing. Their ancestors 
were not restrained from passion by the fear 
of hell -fire, but they are restrained effectually 
by a worse fear, the fear of coming down in 
the world. 

The same motives which lead men to marry 
late also lead them to limit their families. Pro- 
fessional men wish to send their sons to a 
public school, though the education they will 
obtain is no better than at a grammar school, 
and the companions with whom they will asso- 
ciate are more vicious. But snobdom has 
decided that public schools are best, and from 
its verdict there is no appeal. What makes 
them the best is that they are the most expen- 
sive. And the same social struggle, in varying 
forms, runs through all classes except the very 
highest and the very lowest. For this purpose 
men and women make great moral efforts, and 
show amazing powers of self-control ; but all 
their efforts and all their self-control, being 
not used for any creative end, serve merely 
to dry up the well-spring of life within them', 
to make them feeble, listless, and trivial. It 
is not in such a soil that the passion which 
produces genius can be nourished. Men's souls 
have exchanged the wilderness for the draw- 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

ing -room : they have become cramped and 
pretty and deformed, like Chinese women's 
feet. Even the horrors of war have hardly 
awakened them from the smug somnambulism 
of respectability. And it is chiefly the worship 
of money that has brought about this death- 
like slumber of all that makes men great. 

In France the worship of money takes the 
form of thrift. It is not easy to make a fortune 
in France, but an inherited competence is very 
common, and where it exists the main purpose 
of life is to hand it on undiminished, if not 
increased. The French rentier is one of the 
great forces in international politics : it is he 
through whom F.rance has been strengthened 
in diplomacy and weakened in war, by in- 
creasing the supply of French capital and 
diminishing the supply of French men. The 
necessity of providing a dot for daughters, and 
the subdivision of property by the law of in- 
heritance, have made the family more power- 
ful, as an institution, than in any other civilized 
country. In order that the family may prosper, 
it is kept small, and the individual members 
are often sacrificed to it. The desire for family 
continuity makes men timid and unadven- 
turous : it is only in the organized proletariat 
that the daring spirit survives which made the 
Revolution and led the world in political 
thought and practice. Through the influence 
of money, the strength of the family has 



become a weakness to the nation by making 
the population remain stationary and even 
tend to decline. The same loye of safety is 
beginning to produce the same effects else- 
where ; but in this, as in many better things, 
France has led the way. 

In Germany the worship of money is more 
recent than in Erance, England, and America ; 
indeed, it hardly existed until after the Franco - 
Prussian War. But it has been adopted now 
with the same intensity and whole-heartedness 
which have always marked German beliefs. 
It is characteristic that, as in Erance the 
worship of money is associated with the family, 
so in Germany it is associated with the State. 
Liszt, in deliberate revolt against the English 
economists, taught his compatriots to think of 
economics in national terms, and the German 
who develops a business is felt, by others as 
well as by himself, to be performing a service 
to the State. Germans believe that England's 
greatness is due to industrialism and Empire, 
and that our success in these is due to an 
intense nationalism. The apparent inter- 
nationalism of our Free Trade policy they 
regard as mere hypocrisy. They have set them- 
selves to imitate what they believe we really are, 
with only the hypocrisy omitted. It must be 
admitted that their success has been amazing. 
But in the process they have destroyed almost 
all that made Germany of value to the world, 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

and they have not adopted whatever of good 
there may have been among us, since that 
was all swept aside in the wholesale condemna- 
tion of " hypocrisy." And in adopting our 
worst faults, they have made them far worse 
by a system, a thoroughness, and a unanimity 
of which we are happily incapable. Ger- 
many's religion is of great importance to the 
world, since Germans have a power of real 
belief, and have the energy to acquire the 
virtues and vices which their creed demands. 
Eor the sake of the world, as well as for the 
sake of Germany, we must hope that they will 
soon abandon the worship of wealth which they 
have unfortunately learnt from us. 

Worship of money is no new thing, but it is 
a more harmful thing than it used to be, for 
several reasons. Industrialism has made work 
more wearisome and intense, less capable of 
affording pleasure and interest by the way to 
the man who has undertaken it for the sake 
of money. The power of limiting families has 
opened a new field for the operation of thrift. 
The general increase in education and self- 
discipline has made men more capable of pur- 
suing a purpose consistently in spite of temp- 
tations, and when the purpose is against life 
it becomes more destructive with every increase 
of tenacity in those who adopt it. The greater 
productivity resulting from industrialism has 
enabled us to devote more labour and capital 



to armies and navies for the protection of 
our wealth from envious neighbours, and for 
the exploitation of inferior races, which are 
ruthlessly wasted by the capitalist regime. 
Through the fear of losing money, forethought 
and anxiety eat away men's power of happi- 
ness, and the dread of misfortune becomes a 
greater misfortune than the one which is 
dreaded. The happiest men and women, as 
we can all testify from our own experience, 
are those who are indifferent to money because 
they have some positive purpose which shuts 
it out. And yet all our political thought, 
whether Imperialist, Radical, or Socialist, con- 
tinues to occupy itself almost exclusively with 
men's economic desires, as though they alone 
had real importance. 

In judging of an industrial system, whether 
the one under which we live or one proposed 
by reformers, there are four main tests which 
may be applied. We may consider whether 
the system secures (i) the maximum of pro- 
duction, or (2) justice in distribution, or (3) 
a tolerable existence for producers, or (4) the 
greatest possible freedom and stimulus to 
vitality and progress. We may say, broadly, 
that the present system aims only at the first 
of these objects, while socialism aims at the 
second and third. Some defenders of the 
present system contend that technical progress 
is better promoted by private enterprise than 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

it would be if industry were in the hands of 
the State ; to this extent they recognize the 
fourth of the objects we have enumerated. 
But they recognize it only on the side of the 
goods and the capitalist, not on the side of 
the wage-earner. I believe that the fourth 
is much the most important of the objects to 
be aimed at, that the present system is fatal 
to it, and that orthodox socialism might well 
prove equally fatal. 

One of the least questioned assumptions of 
the capitalist system is, that production ought 
to be increased in amount by every possible 
means : by new kinds of machinery, by em- 
ployment of women and boys, by making hours 
of labour as long as is compatible with effi- 
ciency. Central African natives, accustomed to 
living on the raw fruits of the earth and defeat- 
ing Manchester by dispensing with clothes, are 
compelled to work by a hut tax which they 
can only pay by taking employment under 
European capitalists. It is admitted that they 
are perfectly happy while they remain free from 
European influences, and that industrialism 
brings upon them, not only the unwonted 
misery of confinement, but also death from 
diseases to which white men have become 
partially immune. It is admitted that the best 
negro workers are the " raw natives," fresh 
from the bush, uncontaminated by previous 
experience of wage -earning. Nevertheless, no 



one effectively contends that they ought to be 
preserved from the deterioration which we 
bring, since no one effectively doubts that it 
is good to increase the world's production at 
no matter what cost. 

The belief in the importance of production 
has a fanatical irrationality and ruthlessness. 
So long as something is produced, what it is 
that is produced seems to be thought a matter 
of no account. Our whole economic system 
encourages this view, since fear of unemploy- 
ment makes any kind of work a boon to wage- 
earners. The mania for increasing production 
has turned men's thoughts away from much 
more important problems, and has prevented 
the world from 1 getting the benefits it might 
have got out of the increased productivity of 

When we are fed and clothed and housed, 
further material goods are needed only for 
ostentation. 1 With modern methods, a certain 
proportion of the population, without working 
long hours, could do all the work that is really 
necessary in the way of producing commodities . 
The time which is now spent in producing 
luxuries could be spient partly in enjoymient 
and country holidays, partly in better educa- 
tion, partly in work that is not manual or 
subserving manual work. We couldj if we 

1 Except by that small minority who are capable of artistic 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

wished, have far more science and 1 art, more 
diffused knowledge and mental cultivation, 
more leisure for wage - earners, and more 
capacity for intelligent pleasures. At present 
not only wages, but almost all earned incomes, 
can only be obtained by working much longer 
hours than men ought to work. A' man who 
earns 800 a year by hard work could 1 not, 
as a rule, earn 400 a year by half as much 
work. Often he 'could not earn anything if 
he were not willing to work practically all 
day and every day. Because of the excessive 
belief in the value of production, it is thought 
right and proper for mien to work long hours, 
and the good that might result from shorter 
hours is not realized. And all the cruelties of 
the industrial system, not only in Europe but 
even more in the tropics, arouse only an occa- 
sional feeble protest from a few philanthropists . 
This is because, owing to the distortion pro- 
duced by our present economic methods, 
men's conscious desires, in such matters, cover 
only a very small part, and that not the most 
important part, of the real needs affected by. 
industrial work. If this is to be remedied, it 
can only be by a different economic system, 
in which the relation of activity to needs will 
be less concealed and moYe direct. 

The purpose of maximizing production will 
not be achieved in the long run if our present 
industrial system continues. Our present 



system is wasteful of human material, partly 
through damage to the health and efficiency of 
industrial workers, {especially when women and 
children are employed, partly through the 
fact that the best workers tend to have small 
families and that the more civilized races are in 
danger of gradual extinction. Every great city 
is a centre of race -deterioration. For the case 
of London this has been argued with a wealth 
of statistical detail by Sir H. Llewelyn Smith * ; 
and it cannot easily be doubted that it is 
equally true in other cases. The same is true 
of material resources : the minerals, the virgin 
forests, and the newly developed wheatfields 
of the world are being exhausted with a 
reckless prodigality which entails almost a 
certainty of hardship for future generations. 

Socialists see the remedy in State ownership 
of land and capital, combined with a more 
just system of distribution. It cannot be 
denied that our present system of distribution 
is indefensible from every point of view, 
including the point of view of justice. Our 
system of distribution is regulated by law, and 
is capable of being changed in many respects 
which familiarity makes us regard as natural 
and inevitable. We may distinguish four chief 
sources of recognized legal rights to private 
property : ( I ) a man's right to what he has 
made himself ; ( 2 ) the right to interest on 

1 Booth's " Life and Labour of the People," vol. iii. 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

capital Which has been lent ; ( 3 ) the ownership 
of land; (4) inheritance. These form a 
crescendo of respectability : capital is more 
respectable than labour, land is more respect- 
able than capital, and any form of wealth is 
more respectable when it is inherited than when 
it has been acquired by our own exertions. 

A man's right to the produce of his own 
labour has never, in fact, had more than a very 
limited recognition from the law. The early 
socialists, especially the English forerunners 
of Marx, used to insist upon this right as the 
basis of a just system' of distribution, but in 
the complication of modern industrial processes 
it is impossible to say what a man has produced . 
What proportion of the goods carried by a 
railway should belong to the goods porters 
concerned in their journey? When a surgeon 
saves a man's life by an operation, what 
proportion of the commodities which the 
man subsequently produces can the surgeon 
justly claim? Such problems are insoluble. 
And there is no special justice, even if they 
were soluble, in allowing to each man what 
he himself produces. Some men are stronger, 
healthier, cleverer, than others, but there is no 
reason for increasing these natural injustices 
by the artificial injustices of the law. The 
principle recommends itself partly as a way 
of abolishing the very rich, partly as a way 
of stimulating people to work hard. But the 



first of these objects can be better obtained 
in other ways, and the second ceases to be 
obviously desirable as soon as we cease to 
worship money. 

Interest arises naturally in any community 
in which private property is unrestricted and 
theft is punished, because some of the most 
economical processes of production are slow, 
and those who have the skill to perform them 
may not have the means of living while they 
are being completed. But the power of 
lending money gives such great wealth and 
influence to private capitalists that unless 
strictly controlled it is not compatible with any 
real freedom 1 for the rest of the population. 
Its effects at present, both in the industrial 
world and in international politics, are so bad 
that it seems imperatively necessary to devise 
some means of curbing its power. 

Private property in land has no justification 
except historically through power of the sword. 
In the beginning of feudal times, certain men 
had enough military strength to be able to 
force those whom they disliked not to live in a 
certain area. Those whom they chose to leave 
on the land beca'me their serfs, and were forced 
to work for them in return for the gracious 
permission to stay. In order to establish law 
in place of private force, it was necessary, in 
the main, to leave undisturbed the rights which 
had been acquired by the sword. The land 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

became the property of those who had con- 
quered it, and the serfs were allowed to give 
rent instead of service. There is no justifica- 
tion for private property in land, except 
the historical necessity to conciliate turbulent 
robbers who would not otherwise have obeyed 
the law. This necessity arose in Europe many 
centuries ago, but in Africa the whole process 
is often quite recent. It is by this process, 
slightly disguised, that the Kimberley diamond - 
mines and the Rand gold-mines were acquired 
in spite of prior native rights. It is a singular 
example of human inertia that men should have 
continued until now to endure the tyranny and 
extortion which a small minority are able to 
inflict by their possession of the land. No 
good to the community, of any sort or kind, 
results from the private ownership of land. If 
men were reasonable, they would decree that 
it should cease to-morrow, with no compen- 
sation beyond a moderate life income to the 
present holders. 

The mere abolition of rent would not remove 
injustice, since it would confer a capricious 
advantage upon the occupiers of the best sites 
and the most fertile land. It is necessary that 
there should be rent, but it should be paid 
to the State or to some body which performs 
public services ; or, if the total rental were 
more than is required for such purposes, it 
might be paid into a common fund and divided 



equally among the populatton . Such a method 
would be just, and would not only help to 
relieve poverty, but would prevent wasteful 
employment of land and the tyranny of local 
magnates. Much that appears as the power 
of capital is really the power of the landowner 
for example, the power of railway companies 
and mine-owners. The evil and injustice of 
the present system are glaring, but men's 
patience of preventable evils to which they are 
accustomed is so great that it is impossible to 
guess when they will put an end to this strange 

Inheritance, which is the source of the 
greater part of the unearned income in the 
world, is regarded by most men as a natural 
right. Sometimes, as in England, the right 
is inherent in the owner of property, who 
may dispose of it in any way that seems good 
to him. Sometimes, as in Erance, his right is 
limited by the right of his family to inherit 
at least a .portion of what he 'has to leave. But 
neither the right to dispose of property by 
will nor the right of children to inherit from, 
parents has any basis outside the instincts of 
possession and family pride. There may be 
reasons for allowing a man whose work 
is exceptionally fruitful for instance, an 
inventor to enjoy, a larger income than is 
enjoyed by the average citizen, but there can 
be no good reason for allowing this privilege 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

to descend to his children and grandchildren 
and so on for ever. The effect is to produce an 
idle and exceptionally fortunate class, who are 
influential through their money, and opposed to 
reform for fear it should be directed against 
them'selves. Their whole habit of thought 
becomes timid, since they dread being forced 
to acknowledge that their position is indefen- 
sible ; yet snobbery and the wish to secure 
their favour leads almost the whole middle 
class to ape their manners and adopt their 
opinions. In this way they become a poison 
infecting the outlook of almost all educated 
people . 

It is 'sometimes said that without the incen- 
tive of inheritance men would not work so 
well. The great captains of industry, we are 
assured, are actuated by the desire to found a 
family, and would not; devote their lives to 
unremitting toil without the hope of gratifying 
this desire. I do not believe that any large 
proportion of really useful work is done from 
this motive. Ordinary work is done for the 
sake of a living, and the very best work is done 
for the interest of the work itself. Even the 
captains of industry, who are thought ( perhaps 
by themselves as well as by others) to be 
aiming at founding a family, are probably more 
actuated by love of power and by the adven- 
turous pleasure of great enterprises. And if 
there were some slight diminution in the 



amount of work done, it would be well worth 
while in order to get rid of the idle rich, 
with the oppression, feebleness, and corruption 
which they inevitably introduce. 

The present system 1 of distribution is not 
based upon any principle. Starting from a 
system imposed by conquest, the arrangements 
made by the conquerors for their own benefit 
were stereotyped by the law, and have never 
been fundamentally reconstructed. On what 
principles ought the reconstruction to be based ? 

Socialism, which is the most widely advo- 
cated scheme of reconstruction, aims chiefly 
at justice : the present inequalities of wealth 
are unjust, and: socialism would abolish them. 
It is not essential to socialism that all men 
should have the same income, but it is essential 
that inequalities should be justified, in each 
case, by inequality of need' or of service per- 
formed. There can be no disputing that the 
present system 1 is grossly unjust, and that 
almost all that is unjust in it is harmful. But 
I do not think justice alone is a sufficient 
principle upon which to base an economic 
reconstruction. Justice would be secured if all 
were equally unhappy, as well as if all were 
equally happy. Justice, by itself, when once 
realized, contains ho source of new life. The 
old type of Marxian revolutionary socialist 
never dwelt, in imagination, upon the life of 
communities after the establishment of the 

129 i 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

millennium. He imagined that, like the Prince 
and Princess in a fairy story, they would live 
happily ever after. But that, is not a condition 
possible to human nature. Desire, activity, 
purpose, are essential to a tolerable life, and 
a millennium, though it may be a joy in 
prospect, would be intolerable if it were actually 

The more modern socialists, it is true, have 
lost most of the religious fervour which charac- 
terized the pioneers, and view socialism as a 
tendency rather than a definite goal. But they 
still retain the view that Hvhat is of most political 
importance to a man is his income, and that 
the principal aim of a democratic politician 
ought to be to increase the wages of labour. 
I believe this involves too passive a conception 
of what constitutes happiness. It is true that, 
in the industrial world, large sections of the 
population are too poor to have any possi- 
bility of a good life ; but it is not true that a 
good life 'will come of itself with a diminution 
of poverty. Very few of the well-to-do classes 
have a good life at 'present, and perhaps social- 
ism would only substitute the evils which now 
afflict the more prosperous in place of the evils 
resulting from destitution. 

In the existing labour movement, although 
it is one of the most vital sources of change, 
there are certain tendencies against which 
reformers ought to be on their guard. The 



labour movement is in essence a movement 
in favour of justice, based upon the belief that 
the sacrifice of the many to the few is not 
necessary now, whatever may have been the 
case in the past. When labour was less pro- 
ductive and education was less widespread, 
an aristocratic civilization may have been the 
only one possible : it may nave been necessary 
that the many should contribute to the life of 
the few, if the few were to transmit and increase 
the world's possessions in art and' thought and 
civilized existence. But this necessity is past 
or rapidly passing, and there is no longer any 
valid objection to the claims of justice. The 
labour movement is morally irresistible, and 
is not now seriously opposed except by pre- 
judice and simple self-assertion. All living 
thought is on its side ; what is against it is 
traditional and dead. But although it itself 
is living, it is not by any means certain that 
it will make for life. 

Labour is led by current political thought in 
certain directions which would become repres- 
sive and dangerous if they were to remain 
strong after labour had triumphed. The 
aspirations of the labour movement are, on 
the whole, opposed by the great majority of 
the educated classes, who feel a menace, not 
only or chiefly to their personal comfort, but 
to the civilized life in which they have their 
part; which they profoundly believe to be 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

important to the world. Owing to the oppo- 
sition of the educated classes, labour, when it 
is revolutionary and vigorous, tends to despise 
all that the educated classes represent. When 
it is more respectful, as its leaders tend to be 
in England, the subtle and almost unconscious 
influence of educated men is apt to sap 
revolutionary ardour, producing doubt and 
uncertainty instead of the swift, simple assur- 
ance by which victory might have been won. 
The very sympathy which the best men in the 
well-to-do classes extend to labour, their very 
readiness to admit the justice of its claims, 
may have the effect of softening the opposition 
of labour leaders to the status quo, and of 
opening their minds to the suggestion that no 
fundamental change is possible. Since these 
influences affect leaders much more than the 
rank and file, they, tend to produce in the 
rank and file a distrust of leaders, and a desire 
to seek out new leaders who will be less ready 
to concede the claims of the more fortunate 
classes. The result may be in the end a labour 
movement as hostile to the life of the mind 
as some terrified property-owners believe it 
to be at present. 

The claims of justice, narrowly interpreted, 
may reinforce this tendency. It may be 
thought unjust that some men should have 
larger incomes or shorter hours of work than 
ether men. But efficiency in mental work, 



including the work of education, certainly 
requires more comfort and longer periods of 
rest than are required for efficiency in physi- 
cal work, if only because mental work is 
not physiologically wholesome. If this is not 
recognized, the life of the mind may suffer 
through short - sightedness even more than 
through deliberate hostility. 

Education suffers at present, and may long 
continue to suffer, through the desire of parents 
that their children should earn money as soon 
as ipossible. Every one knows that the half- 
time system, for example, is bad ; but the 
power of organized labour keeps it in existence. 
It is clear that the curei for this evil, as for 
those that are concerned with the population 
question, is to relieve parents of the expense 
of their children's education, and at the same 
time to take away their right to appropriate 
their children's earnings. 

The way to prevent any dangerous opposi- 
tion of labour to the life of the mind is not 
to oppose the labour movement, which is too 
strong to be opposed with justice. The right 
way is, to show by actual practice that thought 
is useful to labour, that without thought its 
positive aims cannot be achieved, and that 
there are mien in the world of thought who 
are willing to devote their energies to helping 
labour in its struggle. Such men, if they are 
wise and sincere, can prevent labour from 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

becoming destructive of what is living in the 
intellectual world. 

Another danger in the aims of organized 
labour is the danger of conservatism as to 
methods of production. Improvements of 
machinery or organization bring great advan- 
tages to employers, but involve temporary and 
sometimes permanent loss to the wage-earners. 
For this reason, and also from mere instinctive 
dislike of any change of habits, strong labour 
organizations are often obstacles to technical 
progress. The ultimate basis of all social 
progress must be increased technical efficiency, 
a greater result from a 'given amount of labour. 
If labour were to offer an effective opposition to 
this kind of progress, it would in the long 
run paralyse all other progress. The way to 
overcome the opposition of labour is not by 
hostility or moral homilies, but by giving to 
labour the direct interest in economical pro- 
cesses which now belongs to the employers. 
Here, as elsewhere, the unprogressive part of 
a movement which is essentially progressive 
is to be eliminated, not by decrying the whole 
movement, but by giving it a wider sweep, 
making it more progressive, and leading it to 
demand an even greater change in the structure 
of society than any that it had contemplated 
in its inception. 

The most important purpose that political 
institutions can achieve is to keep alive in 



individuals crcativeness, vigour, vitality, and 
the joy of life. These things existed, for 
example, in Elizabethan England in a way in 
which they do not exist now. They stimulated 
adventure, poetry, music, fine architecture, and 
set going the whole movement out of which 
England's greatness has sprung in every direc- 
tion in which England has been great. These 
things coexisted with injustice, but outweighed 
it, and made a national life more admirable 
than any that is likely to exist under socialism. 
What is wanted in order to keep men 
full of vitality is opportunity, not only security. 
Security is merely a refuge from' fear ; oppor- 
tunity is the source of hope. The chief test 
of an economic system is not Whether it makes 
men prosperous, or whether it secures distri- 
butive justice (though these are both very 
desirable), but whether it leaves men's instinc- 
tive growth unimpeded. To achieve this 
purpose, there are two main conditions which it 
should fulfil : it should not cramp men's 
private affections, and it should give the 
greatest possible outlet to the impulse of 
creation. There is in most men, until it 
becomes atrophied by disuse, an instinct of 
abstractiveness, a wish to make something. 
The men who achieve most are, as a rule, 
those in whom this instinct is strongest : such 
men become artists, men of science, statesmen, 
empire - builders, or captains of industry, 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

according to the accidents of temperament and 
opportunity. The most beneficent and the 
most harmful careers are inspired by this 
impulse. Without it, the world would sink to 
the level of Tibet : it would subsist, as it is 
always prone to do, on the wisdom of its 
ancestors, and each generation would sink more 
deeply into a lifeless traditionalism. 

But it is not only the remarkable men who 
have the instinct of constructiveness, though 
it is they who have it most strongly. It is 
almost universal in boys, and in men it usually 
survives in a greater or less degree, according 
to the greater or less outlet which it is able to 
find. Work inspired by this instinct is satis- 
fying, even when it is irksome and difficult, 
because every effort is as natural as the effort 
of a dog pursuing a hare. The chief defect 
of the present capitalistic system is that work 
done for wages very seldom affords any outlet 
for the creative impulse. The man who works 
for wages has no choice as to what he shall 
make : the whole creativeness of the process is 
concentrated in the employer who orders the 
work to be done. For this reason the work 
becomes a merely external means to a certain 
result, the earning of wages. Employers grow 
indignant about the trade union rules for limita- 
tion of output, but they have no right to be 
indignant, since they do not permit the men 
whom they employ to have any share in the 



purpose for which the work is undertaken. 
And so the process of production, which should 
form one instinctive cycle, becomes divided into 
separate purposes, which can no longer provide 
any satisfaction of instinct for those who do 
the work. 

This result is due to our industrial system, 
but it would not be avoided by State socialism. 
In a socialist community, the State would be the 
employer, and the individual workman would 
have almost as little control over his work as 
he has at present. Such control as he could 
exercise would be indirect, through political 
channels, and would be too slight and round- 
about to afford any appreciable satisfaction. 
It is to be feared that instead' of an increase 
of self - direction, there would only be an 
increase of mutual interference. 

The total abolition of private capitalistic 
enterprise, which is demanded by Marxian 
socialism, seems scarcely necessary. Most 
men who construct sweeping systems of 
reform, like most of those who defend the 
status quo, do not allow enough for the 
importance of exceptions and the undesirability 
of rigid system. Provided the sphere of 
capitalism is restricted, and a large proportion 
of the population are rescued from 1 its dominion, 
there is no reason to wish it wholly abolished. 
As a competitor and a rival, it might serve a 
useful purpose in preventing more democratic 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

enterprises from sinking into sloth and techni- 
cal conservatism. But it is of the very highest 
importance that capitalism should become the 
exception rather than the rule, and that the 
bulk of the world's industry should be con- 
ducted on a more democratic system. 

Much of what is to be said against 
militarism in the State is also to be said 
against capitalism in the economic sphere. 
Economic organizations, in the pursuit of 
efficiency, grow larger and larger, and there 
is no possibility of reversing this process. The 
causes of their growth are technical, and large 
organizations must be accepted as an essential 
part of civilized society. But there is no reason 
why their government should be centralized and 
monarchical. The present economic system, 
by robbing most men of initiative, is one of 
the causes of the universal weariness which 
devitalizes urban and industrial populations, 
making them perpetually seek excitement, and 
leading them to welcome even the outbreak of 
war as a relief from the dreary monotony of 
their daily lives . 

If the vigour of the nation is to be preserved, 
if we are to retain any capacity for new ideas, 
if we are not to sink into a Chinese condition 
of stereotyped immobility, the monarchical 
organization of industry must be swept away. 
All large businesses must become democratic 
and federal in their government. The whole 



wage-earning system is an abomination, not 
only because of the social injustice which it 
causes and perpetuates, but also because it 
separates the man who does the work from 
the purpose for which the work is done. The 
whole of the controlling purpose is concen- 
trated in the capitalist ; the purpose of the 
wage-earner is not the produce, but the wages. 
The purpose of the capitalist is to secure the 
maximum of work for the minimum of wages ; 
the purpose of the wage -earner is to secure the 
maximum of wages for the minimum of work. 
A system involving this essential conflict of 
interests cannot be expected to work smoothly 
or successfully, or to produce a community 
with any pride in efficiency. 

Two movements exist, one already well 
advanced, the other in its infancy, which seem 
capable, between them, of suggesting most of 
what is needed. The two movements I mean 
are the co-operative movement and syndi- 
calism. The co-operative movement is capable 
of replacing the wages system over a very wide 
field, but it is not easy to see how it could be 
applied to such things as railways. It is just 
in these cases that the principles of syndicalism 
are most easily applicable. 

If organization is not to crush individuality, 
membership of an organization ought to be 
voluntary., not compulsory, and ought always 
to carry with it a voice in the management;. 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

This is not the case with economic organiza- 
tions, which give no opportunity for the pride 
and pleasure that men find in an activity of 
their own choice, provided it is not utterly 
monotonous . 

It must be admitted, however, that much of 
the mechanical work which is necessary in 
industry is probably not capable of being made 
interesting in itself. But it will seem less 
tedious than it does at present if those who do 
it have a voice in the management of their 
industry. And men who desire leisure for 
other occupations might be given the oppor- 
tunity of doing uninteresting work during 
a few hours of the day for a low wage ; this 
would give an opening to all who wished for 
some activity not immediately profitable to 
themselves. When everything that is possible 
has been done to make work interesting, the 
residue will have to be made endurable, as 
almost all work is at present, by the inducement 
of rewards outside the hours of labour. But 
if these rewards are to be satisfactory, it is 
essential that the uninteresting work should not 
necessarily absorb a man's whole energies, and 
that opportunities should exist for more or 
less continuous activities during the remaining 
hours. Such a system might be an immeasur- 
able boon to artists, men of letters, and others 
who produce for their own satisfaction works 
which the public does not value soon enough 



to secure a living for the producers ; and apart 
from such rather rare cases, it might provide an 
opportunity for young men and women with 
intellectual ambitions to continue their educa- 
tion after they have left school, or to prepare 
themselves for careers which require an excep- 
tionally long training. 

The evils of the present system result from 
the separation between the several interests of 
consumer, producer, and capitalist. No one 
of these three has the same interests as the 
community or as either of the other two. The 
co-operative system amalgamates the interests 
of consumer and capitalist ; syndicalism would 
amalgamate the interests of producer and 
capitalist. Neither amalgamates all three, or 
makes the interests of those who direct industry 
quite identical with those of the community. 
Neither, therefore, would wholly prevent 
industrial strife, or obviate the need of the 
State as arbitrator. But either would be 
better than the present system, and probably 
a mixture of both would cure most of the evils 
of industrialism 1 as it exists now. It is sur- 
prising that, while men and women have 
struggled to achieve political democracy, so 
little has been done to introduce democracy 
in industry. I believe incalculable benefits 
might result from industrial democracy, either 
on the co-operative model or with recognition 
of a trade or industry as a unit for purposes of 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

government, with some kind of Home Rule 
such as syndicalism aims at securing. There 
is no reason why all governmental units should 
be geographical : this system was necessary 
in the past because of the slowness of means 
of communication, but it is not necessary now. 
By some such system many men might come 
to feel again a pride in their work, and to find 
again that outlet for the creative impulse which 
is now denied to all but a fortunate few. Such 
a system requires the abolition of the land- 
owner and the restriction of the capitalist, 
but does not entail equality of earnings. And 
unlike socialism, it is not a static or final 
system : it is hardly more than a framework 
for energy and initiative. It is only by some 
such method, I believe, that the free growth 
of the individual can be reconciled with the 
huge technical organizations which have been 
rendered necessary by industrialism. 



No political theory is adequate unless it is 
applicable to children as well as to men and 
women. Theorists are mostly childless, or, if 
they have children., they are carefully screened 
from the disturbances which would be caused 
by youthful turmoil. Some of them have 
written books on education, but without, as 
a rule, having; any actual children present to 
their minds while they wrote. Those educa- 
tional theorists who have had a knowledge of 
children, such as the inventors of Kindergarten 
and the Montessori system, 1 have not always 
had enough realization of the ultimate goal 
of education to be able to deal successfully 
with advanced instruction. I have not the 
knowledge either of children or of education 
which would enable me to supply whatever 
defects there may be in the writings of others. 
But some questions, concerning education as a 
political institution, are involved in any hope 
of social reconstruction, and are not usually 

1 As regards the education of young children, Madame 
Montessori's methods seem to me full of wisdom. 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

considered by writers on educational theory. 
It is these questions that I wish to discuss. 

The power of education in forming character 
and opinion is very great and 1 very generally 
recognized. The genuine beliefs, though not 
usually the professed precepts, of parents and 
teachers are almost unconsciously acquired by 
most children ; and even if they depart from 
these beliefs in later life, something of them 
remains deeply implanted, ready to emerge in 
a time of stress or crisis. Education is, as a 
rule, the strongest force on the side of what 
exists and against fundamental change : threat- 
ened institutions, while they are still powerful, 
possess themselves of the educational machine, 
and instil a respect for their own excellence into 
the malleable minds of the young. Reformers 
retort by trying to oust their opponents from 
their position of vantage. The children them- 
selves are not considered by either party ; they 
are merely so much material, to be recruited 
into one army or the other. If the children 
themselves were considered, education would 
not aim at making them belong to this party 
or that, but at enabling them to choose intelli- 
gently between the parties ; it would aim 1 at 
making them able to think, not at making them 
think what their teachers think. Education 
as a political weapon could not exist if we 
respected the rights of children. If we 
respected the rights of children, we should 



educate them so as to give them the knowledge 
and the mental habits required for forming 
independent opinions ; but education as a 
political institution endeavours to form 1 habits 
and to circumscribe knowledge in such a way 
as to make one set of opinions inevitable. 

The two principles of justice and liberty, 
which cover a very great deal of the social 
reconstruction required, are not by themselves 
sufficient where education is concerned. 
Justice, in the literal sense of equal rights, is 
obviously not wholly possible as regards 
children. And as for liberty, it is, to begin 
with, essentially negative : it condemns all 
avoidable interference with freedom, without 
giving a positive principle of construction. 
But education is essentially constructive, and 
requires some positive conception of what 
constitutes a good life. And although liberty 
is to be respected in education as much as is 
compatible with instruction, and although a 
very great deal more liberty than is customary 
can be allowed without loss to instruction, yet 
it is clear that some departure from complete 
liberty is unavoidable if children are to be 
taught anything, except in the case of unusually 
intelligent children who are kept isolated from 
more normal companions. This is one reason 
for the great responsibility which rests upon 
teachers : the children must, necessarily, be 
more or less at the mercy of their elders, and 

145 K 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

cannot make themselves the guardians of their 
own interests. Authority in education is to 
some extent unavoidable, and those who 
educate have to find a way of exercising 
authority in accordance with the spirit of 

Where authority is unavoidable, what is 
needed is reverence. A man who is to educate 
really well, and is to make the young grow 
and develop into their full stature, must be 
filled through and through with the spirit of 
reverence. It is reverence towards others that 
is lacking in those who advocate machine- 
made cast-iron systems : militarism, capitalism, 
Fabian scientific organization, and all the other 
prisons into which reformers and reactionaries 
try to force the human spirit. In education, 
with its codes of rules emanating from a 
Government office, its large classes and fixed 
curriculum and overworked teachers, its deter- 
mination to produce a dead level of glib 
mediocrity, the lack of reverence for the 
child is all but universal. Reverence requires 
imagination and vital warmth ; it requires most 
imagination in respect of those who have least 
actual achievement or power. The child is 
weak and superficially foolish, the teacher is 
strong, and in an every-day sense wiser than 
the child. The teacher without reverence, or 
the bureaucrat without reverence, easily de- 
spises the child for these outward inferiorities. 



'He thinks it is his duty to " mould " the child : 
in imagination he is thte potter with the clay. 
And so he gives to the child some unnatural 
shape, which hardens with age, producing 
strains and spiritual dissatisfactions, out of 
which grow cruelty and envy, and the belief 
that others must be compelled to undergo the 
same distortions. 

The man who has reverence will not think 
it his duty to "mould" the young. "He 
feels in all that lives, but especially in human 
beings, and most of all in children, something 
sacred, indefinable, unlimited, something indi- 
vidual and strangely precious, the growing 
principle of life, an embodied fragment of the 
dumb striving of the world. In the presence 
of a child he feels an unaccountable humility 
a humility not easily defensible on any rational 
ground, and yet somehow nearer to wisdom 
than the easy self-confidence of many parents 
and teachers. The outward helplessness of 
the child and the appeal of dependence make 
him ; conscious of the responsibility of a trust. 
His imagination shows him what the child 
may become, for good or evil, how its impulses 
may be developed or thwarted, how its hopes 
must be dimmed and the life in it grow less 
living, how its trust will be bruised and its 
quick desires replaced by brooding will. All 
this gives him a longing to help the child in its 
own battle ; he would equip and strengthen 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

it, not for some outside end proposed by the 
State or by any other impersonal authority, 
but for the ends which the child's own spirit 
is obscurely seeking. The man who feels this 
can wield the authority of an educator without 
infringing the principle of liberty. 

It is not in a spirit of reverence that 

education is conducted by States and Churches 

and the great institutions that are subservient 

to them. What is considered in education is 

hardly ever the boy or girl, the young man 

or young woman, but almost always, in some 

form, the maintenance of the existing order. 

When the individual is considered, it is almost 

exclusively with a view to worldly success 

making money or achieving a good position. 

To be ordinary, and to acquire the art of getting 

on, is the ideal which is set before the youthful 

mind, except by. a few rare teachers who have 

enough energy of belief to break through the 

system within which they are expected to work. 

Almost all education has a political motive : 

it aims at strengthening some group, national 

or religious or even social, in the competition 

with other groups. It is this motive, in the 

main, which determines the subjects taught, the 

knowledge offered and the knowledge withheld, 

and also decides what mental habits the pupils 

are expected to acquire. Hardly anything is 

done to foster the inward growth of mind and 

spirit ; in fact, those twho have had most 



education are very often atrophied in their 
mental arid spiritual life, devoid of impulse, and 
possessing only certain mechanical aptitudes 
which take the place of living thought. 

Some of the things which education achieves 
at present must continue to be achieved by 
education in any civilized country. All children 
must continue to be taught hojw to read and 
write, and some must continue to acquire the 
knowledge needed for such professions as 
medicine or law or engineering. The higher 
education required for the sciences and the arts 
is necessary for those to whom it is suited. 
Except in history arid religion and kindred 
matters, the actual instruction is only inade- 
quate, not positively harmful. The instruction 
might be given in a more liberal spirit, with 
more attempt to show its ultimate uses ; and of 
course much of it is traditional and dead. But 
in the main it is necessary, and would 1 have to 
form a part of any educational system. 

It is in history and religion and other contro- 
versial subjects that the actual instruction is 
positively harmful. These subjects touch the 
interests by which schools are maintained ; and 
the interests maintain the schools in order that 
certain views on these subjects may be instilled. 
History, in every country, is s,o taught as to 
magnify that country : children learn to believe 
that their own country has always been in the 
right and almost always victorious, that it has 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

produced almost all the great men, and that 
it is in all respects superior to all other 
countries. Since these beliefs are flattering, 
they are easily absorbed, and hardly ever 
dislodged from instinct by later knowledge. 

To take a simple and almost trivial example : 
the facts about the battle of Waterloo :are known 
in great detail and with minute accuracy ; but 
the facts as taught in elementary schools will 
be widely different in England, France, and 
Germany. The ordinary English boy imagines 
that the Prussians played hardly any part ; the 
ordinary German boy imagines that Wellington 
was practically defeated when the day was 
retrieved by Bliicher's gallantry. If the 
facts were taught accurately in both countries, 
national pride would not be fostered to the 
same extent, neither nation would feel so certain 
of victory in the event of war, and the willing- 
ness to fight would be diminished. It is this 
result which has to be prevented. Every State 
wishes to promote national pride, and is 
conscious that this cannot be done by unbiased 
history. The defenceless children are taught by 
distortions and suppressions and suggestions. 
The false ideas as to the history of the world 
which are taught in the various countries are 
of a kind which encourages strife and serves 
to keep alive a bigoted nationalism. If good 
relations between States were desired 1 , one of 
the first steps ought to, be to submit all teaching 



of history to an international commission, which 
should produce neutral textbooks free from 
the patriotic bias which is now demanded 
everywhere. 1 

Exactly the same thing applies to religion. 
Elementary schools are practically always in 
the hands either of some religious body or of 
a State which has a certain attitude towards 
religion. A religious body exists through the 
fact that its members all have certain definite 
beliefs on subjects as to which the truth is not 
ascertainable . Schools conducted by religious 
bodies have to prevent the young, who are 
often inquiring by nature, from discovering that 
these definite beliefs are opposed by others 
which are no more unreasonable, and that 
many of the men best qualified to judge think 
that there is no good evidence in favour of 


THE King has been graciously pleased to accept a copy 
of the little book containing suggestions to local education 
authorities and teachers in Wales as to the teaching of 
patriotism which has just been issued by the Welsh Depart- 
ment of the Board of Education in connection with the 
observance of the National Anniversary of St. David's Day. 
His Private Secretary (Lord Stamfordham), in writing to 
Mr. Alfred T. Davies, the Permanent Secretary of the Welsh 
Department, says that his Majesty is much pleased with the 
contents of the book, and trusts that the principles inculcated 
in it will bear good fruit in the lives and characters of the 
coming generation. Morning Post, January 29, 1916. 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

any definite belief. When the State is militantly 
secular, as in France, State schools become 
as dogmatic as those that are in the hands of 
the Churches ( I understand that the word 
" God " must not be mentioned in a French 
elementary school). The result in all these 
cases is the same : free inquiry is checked, and 
on the most important matter in the world the 
child is met with dogma or with stony silence. 
It is not only in elementary education that 
these evils exist. In more advanced education 
they take subtler forms, and there is more 
attempt to conceal them, but they are still 
present. Eton and Oxford set a certain stamp 
upon a man's mind, just as a Jesuit College does. 
It can hardly be said that Eton and Oxford have 
a conscious purpose, but they have a purpose 
which is none the less strong and effective for 
not being formulated. In almost all who have 
been through them they produce a worship of 
" good form," which is as destructive to life 
and thought as the mediaeval Church. " Good 
form " is quite compatible with a superficial 
open-mindedness, a readiness to hear all sides, 
and a certain urbanity towards opponents. But 
it is not compatible with fundamental open- 
mindedness, or with any inward readiness to 
give weight to the other side. Its essence is 
the assumption that what is most important 
is a certain kind of behaviour, a behaviour 
which minimizes friction between equals and 


delicately impresses inferiors with a conviction 
of their own crudity. As a political weapon 
for preserving the privileges of the rich in a 
snobbish democracy it is unsurpassable. As a 
means of producing an agreeable social milieu 
for those who have money with no strong beliefs 
or unusual desires it has some merit. In every 
other respect it is abominable. 

The evils of " good forni " arise from two 
sources : its perfect assurance of its own 
Tightness, and its belief that correct manners 
are more to be desired than intellect, or artistic 
creation, or vital energy, or any of the other 
sources of progress in the world. Perfect 
assurance, by itself, is enough to destroy all 
mental progress in those who have it. And 
when it is combined with contempt for the 
angularities and awkwardnesses that are almost 
invariably associated with great mental power, 
it becomes a source of destruction to all who 
come in contact with it. " Good form " 
is itself dead and incapable of growth ; and 
by its attitude to those who are without it it 
spreads its own death to many who might other- 
wise have life. The harm which it has done 
to well-to-do Englishmen, and to men whose 
abilities have led! the well-to-do to notice 
them, is incalculable. 

The prevention of free inquiry is unavoidable 
so long as the purpose of education is to 
produce belief rather than thought, to compel 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

the young to hold positive opinions on doubtful 
matters rather than to let them see the doubtful- 
ness and be encouraged to independence of 
mind. Education ought to foster the wish 
for truth, not the conviction that some parti- 
cular creed is the truth. But it is creeds thai 
hold men together in fighting organizations : 
Churches, States, political parties. It is inten- 
sity of belief in a creed that produces efficiency 
in fighting : victory comes to those who feel 
the strongest certainty about matters on which 
doubt is the only rational attitude . To produce 
this intensity of belief and this efficiency in 
fighting, the child's nature is warped, and its 
free outlook is cramped, by cultivating inhi- 
bitions as a check to the growth of new ideas. 
In those whose minds are not very active the 
result is the omnipotence of prejudice ; while 
the few whose thought cannot be wholly killed 
become cynical, intellectually hopeless, destruc- 
tively critical, able to make all that is living 
seem foolish, unable themselves to supply the 
creative impulses which they destroy in others. 
The success in fighting which is achieved 
by suppressing freedom of thought is brief and 
very worthless. In the long run mental vigour 
is as essential to success as it is to a good life. 
The conception of education as a form of drill, 
a means of producing unanimity through 
slavishness, is very common, and is defended 
chiefly on the ground that it leads to victory. 


Those who enjoy parallels from ancient history 
will point to the victory of Sparta over Athens 
to enforce their moral. But it is Athens that 
has had power over men's thoughts and imagi- 
nation, not Sparta : any one of us, if we could 
be born again into some past epoch, would 
rather be born an Athenian than a Spartan. 
And in the modern world so much intellect is 
required in practical affairs that even the 
external victory is more likely to be won by 
intelligence than by docility. Education in 
credulity leads by quick stages to mental decay ; 
it is only by keeping alive the spirit of free 
inquiry that the indispensable minimum of 
progress can be achieved . 

Certain mental habits are commonly instilled 
by those fwho are engaged in educating : 
obedience and discipline, ruthlessness in 
the struggle for worldly success, contempt 
towards opposing groups, and an unquestion- 
ing credulity, a passive acceptance of the 
teacher's wisdom 1 . All these habits are against 
life. Instead of obedience and discipline, we 
ought to aim 1 at preserving independence and 
impulse. Instead of ruthlessness, education 
should try to develop justice in thought. 
Instead of contempt, it ought to instil 
reverence, and the attempt at understanding ; 
towards the opinions of others it ought to 
produce, not necessarily acquiescence, but only 
such opposition as is combined with imaginative 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

apprehension and a clear realization of the 
grounds for opposition. Instead of credu- 
lity, the object should be to stimulate con- 
structive doubt, the love of mental adventure, 
the sense of worlds to conquer by enterprise 
and boldness in thought. Contentment with 
the status quo, and subordination of the 
individual pupil to political aims, owing to 
indifference to the things of the mind, are the 
immediate causes of these evils ; but beneath 
these causes there is one more fundamental, 
the fact that education is treated as a means 
of acquiring power over the pupil, not as a 
means of nourishing his own growth. It is 
in this that lack of reverence shows itself ; and 
it is only by more reverence that a fundamental 
reform can be effected. 

Obedience and discipline are supposed to be 
indispensable if order is to be kept in a class, 
and if any instruction is to be given. To some 
extent this is true ; but the extent is much less 
than it is thought to be by thosse who regard 
obedience and discipline as in themselves 
desirable. Obedience, the yielding of one's will 
to outside direction, is the counterpart of 
authority. Both may be necessary in certain 
cases. Refractory children, lunatics, and 
criminals may require ' authority, and may 
need to be forced to obey. But in so far as 
this is necessary it is a misfortune : what is to 
be desired is the free choice of ends with which 



it is not necessary to interfere. And educa- 
tional reformers have shown that this is far 
more possible than our fathers would ever have 
believed. 1 1 f 

What makes obedience seem necessary in 
schools is the large classes and overworked 
teachers demanded by a false economy. Those 
who have no experience of teaching are 
incapable of imagining the expense of spirit 
entailed by any really living instruction. They 
think that teachers can reasonably be expected 
to work as many hours as bank clerks . Intense 
fatigue and irritable nerves are the result, and 
an absolute necessity of performing the day's 
task mechanically. But the task cannot be 
performed mechanically except by exacting 

If we took education seriously, and thought 
it as important to keep alive the minds of 
children as to secure victory in war, we should 
conduct education quite differently : we should 
make sure of achieving the end, even if the 
expense were a hundredfold greater than it is. 
To many men and women a small amount of 
teaching is a delight, and can be done with a 
fresh zest and life which keeps most pupils 
interested without any need of discipline. The 
few who do not become interested might be 

1 What Madame Montessori has achieved in the way of 
minimizing obedience and discipline with advantage to 
education is almost miraculous. 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

separated from the rest, and given a different 
kind of instruction. A teacher ought to have 
only as much teaching 1 as can be done, on most 
days, with actual pleasure in the work, and 
with an awareness of the pupil's mental needs. 
The result would be a relation of friendliness 
instead of hostility between teacher and pupil, 
a realization on the part of most pupils that 
education serves to develop their own lives and 
is not merely an outside imposition, interfering 
with play and demanding many hours of sitting 
still. All that is necessary to this end is 
a greater expenditure of money, to secure 
teachers with more leisure and with a natural 
love of teaching. 

Discipline, as it exists in schools, is very 
largely an evil. There is a kind of discipline 
which is necessary to almost all achievement, 
and which perhaps is not sufficiently valued 
by those who react against the purely external 
discipline of traditional methods. The desir- 
able kind of discipline is the kind that comes 
from within, which consists in the power of 
pursuing a distant object steadily, forgoing 
and suffering many things on the way. This 
involves the subordination of minor impulses to 
will, the power of a directing action by large 
creative desires even at moments when they 
are not vividly alive. Without this, no serious 
ambition, good or bad, can be realized, no 
consistent purpose can dominate. This kind of 



discipline is very necessary, but can only result 
from strong desires for ends not immediately 
attainable, and can only be produced by educa- 
tion if education fosters such desires, which it 
seldom does at present. Such discipline springs 
from one's own will, not from outside authority. 
It is not this kind which is sought in most 
schools, and it is not this kind which seems to 
me an evil. 

Although elementary education encourages 
the undesirable discipline that consists in 
passive obedience, and although hardly any 
existing education encourages the moral disci- 
pline of consistent self-direction, there is a 
certain kind of purely mental discipline which 
is produced by the traditional higher educa- 
tion. The kind I mean is that which enables 
a man to concentrate his thoughts at will upon 
any matter that he has occasion to consider, 
regardless of preoccupations or boredom or 
intellectual difficulty. This quality, though it 
has no important intrinsic excellence, greatly 
enhances the efficiency of the mind as an 
instrument. It is this that enables a lawyer 
to master the scientific details of a patent case 
which he forgets as soon as judgment has 
been given, or a civil servant to deal quickly 
with many different administrative questions in 
succession. It is this that enables men to 
forget private cares during business hours. In 
a complicated world it is a very necessary 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

faculty for those whose work requires mental 
concentration . 

Success in producing mental discipline is the 
chief merit of traditional higher education. I 
doubt whether it can be achieved except by 
compelling or persuading active attention to 
a prescribed task. It is for this reason chiefly 
that I do not believe methods such as Madame 
Montessori's applicable when the age of child- 
hood has been passed. The essence of her 
method consists in giving a choice of occupa- 
tions, any one of which is interesting! to most 
children, and all of which are instructive. The 
child's attention is wholly spontaneous, as in 
play ; it enjoys acquiring knowledge in this 
way, and does not acquire any knowledge which 
it does not desire. I am convinced that this 
is the best method of education with young 
children : the actual results make it almost 
impossible to think otherwise. But it is diffi- 
cult to see how this method can lead to control 
of attention by the will. Many things which 
must be thought about are uninteresting, and 
even those thiat are interesting at first often 
become very wearisome before they have been 
considered as long as is necessary. The power 
of giving prolonged attention is very important, 
and it is hardly to be widely acquired except as 
a habit induced originally by outside pressure. 
Some few boys, it is true, have sufficiently 
strong intellectual desires to be willing to 



undergo all that is necessary by their own 
initiative and free will ; but for all others an 
external inducement is required in order to 
make them learn any subject thoroughly. 
There is among educational reformers a certain 
fear of demanding great efforts, and in the 
world at large a growing unwillingness to be 
bored. Both these tendencies have their good 
side, but both also have their dangers. The 
mental discipline which is jeopardized can be 
preserved by mere advice without external com- 
pulsion whenever a boy's intellectual interest 
and ambition can be sufficiently stimulated. A 
good teacher ought to be able to do this for 
any boy who is capable of much mental 
achievement ; and for many of the others the 
present purely bookish education is probably 
not the best. In this way, so long as the 
importance of mental discipline is realized, it 
can probably be attained, whenever it is attain- 
able, by appealing to the pupil's consciousness 
of his own needs. So long as teachers are not 
expected to succeed by this method, it is easy 
for them to slip intp a slothful dullness, and 
blame their pupils when the fault is really 
their own. 

Ruthlessness in the economic struggle will 
almost unavoidably be taught in schools so long 
as the economic structure of society remains 
unchanged. This must be particularly the case 
in middle -class schools, which depend for their 

161 L 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

numbers upon the good opinion of parents, and 
secure the good opinion of parents by adver- 
tising the successes of pupils. This is one of 
many ways in which the competitive organiza- 
tion of the State is harmful. Spontaneous and 
disinterested desire for knowledge is not at all 
uncommon in the young, and might be easily 
aroused in many in whom it remains latent. 
But it is remorselessly checked by teachers who 
think only of examinations, diplomas, and 
degrees. For the abler boys there is no time 
for thought, no time for the indulgence of 
intellectual taste, from the moment of first 
going to school until the moment of leaving 
the university. From 1 first to last there is 
nothing but one long drudgery of examination 
tips and textbook facts. The most intelligent, 
at the end, are disgusted with learning, longing 
only to forget it and to escape into a life of 
action. Yet there, as before, the economic 
machine holds them prisoners, and all their 
spontaneous desires are bruised and thwarted. 
The examination system, and the fact that 
instruction is treated mainly as training for a 
livelihood, leads the young to regard knowledge 
from a purely utilitarian point of view, as the 
road to money, not as the gateway to wisdom. 
This would not matter so much if it affected 
only those who have no genuine 'intellectual 
interests. But unfortunately it affects most 
those whose intellectual interests are strongest, 



since it is upon them that the pressure of 
examinations falls with most severity. To them 
most, but to all in some degree, education 
appears ;as a means of acquiring superiority 
over others ; it is infected through and through 
with ruthlessness and glorification of social 
inequality. Any free, disinterested considera- 
tion shows that, whatever inequalities might 
remain in a Utopia, the actual inequalities are 
almost all contrary to justice. But our educa- 
tional system tends to conceal this from all 
except the failures, since those who succeed are 
on the way to profit by the inequalities, with 
every encouragement from the men who have 
directed their education. 

Passive acceptance of the teacher's wisdom 
is easy to most boys and girls. It involves 
no effort of independent thought, and seems 
rational because the teacher knows more than 
his pupils ; it is moreover the way to win the 
favour of the teacher unless he is a very 
exceptional mian. Yet the habit of passive 
acceptance is a disastrous one in later life. It 
causes men to seek a leader, and to accept as 
a leader whoever is established in that position. 
It makes the power of Churches, Governments, 
party caucuses, and all the other organizations 
by which plain men are misled into supporting 
old systems which' are harmful to the nation 
and to themselves, lit is possible that there 
would not be much independence of thought 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

even if education did everything to promote 
it ; but there would certainly be more than 
there is at present. If the object were to make 
pupils think, rather than to make them accept 
certain conclusions, education would be con- 
ducted quite differently : there would be less 
rapidity of instruction and more discussion, 
more occasions when pupils are encouraged 
to express themselves, more attempt to make 
education concern itself with matters in which 
the pupils feel some interest. 

Above all, there would be an endeavour 
to rouse and stimulate the love of mental 
adventure. The world in which we live is 
various and astonishing : some of the things 
that seem plainest grow more and more difficult 
the more they are considered ; other things, 
which might have been thought quite impossible 
to discover, have nevertheless been laid bare 
by genius and industry. The powers of 
thought, the vast regions which it can master, 
the much more vast regions which it can only 
dimly suggest to imagination, give to those 
whose minds have travelled beyond the daily 
round an amazing richness of material, an 
escape from the triviality and wearisomeness 
of familiar routine, by which the whole of life 
is filled with interest, and the prison walls of 
the commonplace are broken down. The same 
love of adventure which takes men to the South 
Pole, the same passion for a conclusive trial 



of strength which leads some men to welcome 
war, can find in creative thought an 'outlet which 
is neither wasteful nor cruel, but increases the 
dignity of man by incarnating in life some of 
that shining splendour which the human spirit 
is bringing down out of the unknown. To 
give this joy, in a greater or less measure, to all 
who are capable of it, is the supreme end for 
which the education of the mind is to be 
valued . 

It will be said that the joy of mental adven- 
ture must be rare, that there are few who 
can appreciate it, and that ordinary education 
can take no account of so aristocratic a good. 
I do not believe this. The joy of mental 
adventure is far commoner in the youn'g than 
in grown men and women. Among children 
it is very common, and grows naturally out of 
the period of make-believe and fancy. It is 
rare in later life because everything is done 
to kill it during 1 education. Men fear thought 
as they fear nothing else on earth more than 
ruin, more even than death. Thought is 
subversive and revolutionary, destructive and 
terrible ; thought is merciless to privilege, 
established 'institutions, and comfortable habits ; 
thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to 
authority, careless of the well-tried wisdom of 
the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell 
and is not afraid'. It sees man, a feeble speck, 
surrounded by unfathomable depths of silence ; 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

yet it bears itself proudly, as unmoved as if it 
were lord of the universe. Thought is great 
and swift and free., the light of the world, and 
the chief glory of mian. 

But if thought is to become the possession 
of many, not the privilege of the few, we must 
have done with fear. It is fear that holds 
men back fear lest their cherished beliefs 
should prove delusions, fear lest the institutions 
by Which they live should prove harmful, fear 
lest they themselves should prove less worthy 
of respect than they have supposed themselves 
to be. " Should the working man think freely 
about property? Then what will become of 
us, the rich 1 ? Should young men and young 
women think freely about sex ? Then what will 
become of morality? Should soldiers think 
freely about war? Then what will become of 
military discipline ? Away 'with thought ! Back 
into the shades of prejudice, lest property, 
morals, and war should be endangered ! Better 
men should be stupid, slothful, and oppressive 
than that their thoughts should be free. For 
if their thoughts were free they might not think 
as we do. And at all costs this disaster must 
be averted." So the opponents of thought argue 
in the unconscious depths of their souls. And 
so they act in their churches, their schools, and 
their universities. 

No institution inspired by fear can further 
life. Hope, not fear, is the creative principle 



in human affairs. All that has made man 
great has sprung from the attempt to secure 
what is good, not from the struggle to avert 
what was thought evil. It is because modern 
education is so seldom inspired by a great hope 
that it so seldom achieves a great result. The 
wish to preserve the past rather than the hope 
of creating the future dominates the mind's of 
those who control the teaching of the young. 
Education should not aim at a passive aware- 
ness of dead facts, but at an activity directed 
towards the world that our efforts are to create . 
It should be inspired, not by a regretful 
hankering after the extinct beauties of Greece 
and the Renaissance, but by a shining vision of 
the society that is to be, of the triumphs that 
thought will achieve in the time to come, and 
of thfe ever -widen ing horizon of man's survey 
over the universe. Those who are taught in 
this spirit will be filled with life and' hope and 
joy, able to bear their part in bringing to 
mankind a future less sombre than the past, 
with faith in the glory that human effort can 
create . 




THE influence of the Christian religion on 
daily life has decayed very rapidly through- 
out Europe during the last hundred years. Not 
only has the proportion of nominal believers 
declined, but even among those who believe 
the intensity and dogmatism of belief is 
enormously diminished. But there is one 
social institution .Which is still profoundly 
affected by the Christian tradition I mean the 
institution of marriage. The law and public 
opinion as regards marriage are dominated 
even now to a very great extent by the teach- 
ings of the Church, which continue to influence 
in this way the lives of men, women, and 
children in their most intimate concerns. 

It is marriage as a political institution that 
I wish to consider, not marriage as a matter 
for the private morality of each individual. 
Marriage is regulated by law, and is regarded 
as a matter in which the community has 
a right to interfere. It is only the action 
of the community in regard to marriage that 

1 68 

Marriage and the Population Question 

I am concerned to discuss : whether the 
present action furthers the life of the com- 
munity, and if not, in what ways it ought to 
be changed. 

There are two questions to be asked in 
regard to any marriage system : first, how it 
affects the development and character of the 
men and women concerned ; secondly, what 
is its influence on the propagation and educa- 
tion of children. These two questions are 
entirely distinct, and a system may well be 
desirable from one of these two points of view 
when it is very undesirable from the other. I 
propose first to describe the present English 
law and public opinion and practice in regard 
to the relations of the sexes, then to consider 
their effects as regards children, and finally 
to consider how these effects, which are bad, 
could be obviated by a system which would 
also have a better influence on the character 
and development of men and women. 

The law in England is based upon the ex- 
pectation that the great majority of marriages 
will be lifelong. A marriage can only be 
dissolved if either the wife or the husband, 
but not both, can be proved to have com- 
mitted adultery. In case the husband is the 
" guilty party," he must also be guilty of cruelty 
or desertion. Even when these conditions are 
fulfilled, in practice only the well-to-do can 
be divorced, because the expense is very 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

great. 1 A marriage cannot be dissolved for 
insanity or crime, or for cruelty, however 
abominable, or for desertion, or for adultery 
by both parties ; and it cannot be dissolved 
for any cause whatever if both husband and 
wife have agreed that they wish it dissolved. 
In all these cases the law regards the man and 
woman as bound together for life. A special 
official, the King's Proctor, is employed to 
prevent divorce when there is collusion and 
when both parties have committed adultery. 2 

1 There was a provision for suits in forma pauperis, but for 
various reasons this provision was nearly useless ; a new and 
somewhat better provision has recently been made, but is still 
very far from satisfactory. 

2 The following letter (New Statesman, December 4, 1915) 
illustrates the nature of his activities : 

To the Editor of the " New Statesman." 

SIR, The following episodes may be of interest to your 
readers. Under the new facilities for divorce offered to the 
London poor, a poor woman recently obtained a decree nisi for 
divorce against her husband, who had often covered her body 
with bruises, infected her with a dangerous disease, and com- 
mitted bigamy. By this bigamous marriage the husband had 
ten illegitimate children. In order to prevent this decree being 
made absolute, the Treasury spent at least ^200 of the taxes 
in briefing a leading counsel and an eminent junior counsel 
and in bringing about ten witnesses from a city a hundred 
miles away to prove that this woman had committed casual 
acts of adultery in 1895 an( ^ 1898. The net result is that this 
woman will probably be forced by destitution into further 
adultery, and that the husband will be able to treat his 


Marriage and the Population Question 

This interesting system embodies the opinions 
held by the Church of England some fifty 
years ago, and by most Nonconformists then 
and now. It rests upon the assumption that 
adultery is sin, and that when this sin has 
been committed by one party to the marriage, 
the other is entitled to revenge if he is rich. 
But when both have committed the same sin, 
or when the one who has not committed it 
feels no righteous anger, the right to revenge 
does not exist. As soon as this point of view 
is understood, the law, which at first seems 
somewhat strange, is seen to be perfectly con- 
sistent. It rests, broadly speaking, upon four 

mistress exactly as he treated his wife, with impunity, so 
far as disease is concerned. In nearly every other civilized 
country the marriage would have been dissolved, the children 
could have been legitimated by subsequent marriage, and the 
lawyers employed by the Treasury would not have earned the 
large fees they did from the community for an achievement 
which seems to most other lawyers thoroughly anti-social in 
its effects. If any lawyers really feel that society is benefited 
by this sort of litigation, why cannot they give their services 
for nothing, like the lawyers who assisted the wife? If we 
are to practise economy in war-time, why cannot the King's 
Proctor be satisfied with a junior counsel only ? The fact 
remains that many persons situated like the husband and wife 
in question prefer to avoid having illegitimate children, and 
the birth-rate accordingly suffers. 

"The other episode is this. A divorce was obtained by 
Mr. A. against Mrs. A. and Mr. B. Mr. B. was married and 
Mrs. B., on hearing of the divorce proceedings, obtained a 
decree nisi against Mr. B. Mr. B. is at any moment liable 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

propositions : ( i ) that sexual intercourse out- 
side marriage is sin ; (2) that resentment of 
adultery by the " innocent " party is a righteous 
horror of wrong-doing; (3) that this resent- 
ment, but nothing else, may be rightly regarded 
as making a common life impossible ; (4) that 
the poor have no right to fine feelings. The 
Church of England, under the influence of 
the High Church, has ceased to believe the 
third of these propositions, but it still believes 
the first and second, and does nothing actively 
to show that it disbelieves the fourth. 

The penalty for infringing the marriage law 

to be called to the Front, but Mrs. B. has for some months 
declined to make the decree nisi absolute, and this prevents 
him marrying Mrs. A., as he feels in honour bound to do. 
Yet the law allows any petitioner, male or female, to obtain 
a decree nisi and to refrain from making it absolute for 
motives which are probably discreditable. The Divorce 
Law Commissioners strongly condemned this state of 
things, and the hardship in question is immensely aggra- 
vated in war-time, just as the war has given rise to many 
cases of bigamy owing to the chivalrous desire of our soldiers 
to obtain for the de facto wife and family the separation 
allowance of the State. The legal wife is often united by 
similar ties to another man. I commend these facts to con- 
sideration in your columns, having regard to your frequent 
complaints of a falling birth-rate. The iniquity of our 
marriage laws is an important contributory cause to the 
fall in question. 

Yours, etc., 

November 2()th. 


Marriage and the Population Question 

is partly financial, but depends mainly upon 
public opinion. A rather small section of the 
public genuinely believes that sexual relations 
outside marriage are wicked ; those who 
believe this are naturally kept in ignorance of 
the conduct of friends who feel otherwise, and 
are able to go through life not knowing how 
others live or what others think. This small 
section of the public regards as depraved not 
only actions, but opinions, which are contrary 
to its principles. It is able to control the pro- 
fessions of politicians through its influence on 
elections, and the votes of the House of Lords 
through the presence of the Bishops. By 
these means it governs legislation, and makes 
any change in the marriage law almost im- 
possible. It is able, also, to secure in most 
cases that a man who openly infringes the 
marriage law shall be dismissed from his 
employment or ruined by the defection of his 
customers or clients. A doctor or lawyer, or 
a tradesman in a country town, cannot make 
a living, nor can a politician be in Parliament, 
if he is publicly known to be " immoral." 
Whatever a man's own conduct may be, he is 
not likely to defend publicly those who have 
been branded, lest some of the odium should 
fall on him. Yet so long as a man has not 
been branded, few men will object to him, 
whatever they may know privately of his 
behaviour in these respects. 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

Owing to the nature of the penalty, it falls 
very unequally upon different professions. An 
actor or journalist usually escapes all punish- 
ment. An urban working man can almost 
always do as he likes. A man of private means, 
unless he wishes to take part in public life, need 
not suffer at all if he has chosen his friends 
suitably. Women, who formerly suffered more 
than men, now suffer less, since there are large 
circles in which no social penalty is inflicted, 
and a very rapidly increasing number of women 
who do not believe the conventional code. But 
for the majority of men outside the working 
classes the penalty is still sufficiently severe 
to be prohibitive. 

The result of this state of things is a wide- 
spread but very flimsy hypocrisy, which allows 
many infractions of the code, and forbids only 
those which must become public. A man may 
not live openly with a woman who is not his 
wife, an unmarried woman may not have a 
child, and neither man nor woman may get into 
the divorce court. Subject to these restric- 
tions, there is in practice very great freedom. 
It is this practical freedom which makes the 
state of the law seem tolerable to those who 
do not accept the principles upon which it is 
based. What has to be sacrificed to propitiate 
the holders of strict views is not pleasure, but 
only children and a common life and truth and 
honesty. It cannot be supposed that this is 


Marriage and the Population Question 

the result desired by those who maintain the 
code, but equally it cannot be denied that this 
is the result which they do in fact achieve. 
Extra-matrimonial relations which do not lead 
to children and are accompanied by a certain 
amount of deceit remain unpunished, but severe 
penalties fall on those which are honest or 
lead to children. 

Within marriage, the expense of children 
leads to continually greater limitation of 
families. The limitation is greatest among 
those who have most sense of parental 
responsibility and most wish to educate their 
children well, since it is to them that the ex- 
pense of children is most severe. But although 
the economic motive for limiting families has 
hitherto probably been the strongest, it is being 
continually reinforced by another. Women are 
acquiring freedom not merely outward and 
formal freedom, but inward freedom, enabling 
them to think and feel genuinely, not accord- 
ing to received maxims. To the men who 
have prated confidently of women's natural 
instincts, the result would be surprising if 
they were aware of it. Very large num- 
bers of women, when they are sufficiently 
free to think for themselves, do not desire 
to have children, or at most desire one 
child in order not to miss the experience 
which a child brings. There are women who 
are intelligent and active -minded who resent 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

the slavery to the body which is involved in 
having children. There are ambitious women, 
who desire a career which leaves no time 
for children. There are women who love 
pleasure and gaiety, and women who love the 
admiration of men ; such women will at least 
postpone child-bearing until their youth is 
past. All these classes of women are 
rapidly becoming more numerous, and it 
may be safely assumed that their numbers 
will continue to increase for many years to 

It is too soon to judge with any confidence 
as to the effects of women's freedom upon 
private life and upon the life of the nation. 
But I think it is not too soon to see that it 
will be profoundly different from the effect 
expected by the pioneers of the women's move- 
ment. Men have invented, and women in the 
past have often accepted, a theory that women 
are the guardians of the race, that their life 
centres in motherhood, that all their instincts 
and desires are directed, consciously or uncon- 
sciously, to this end. Tolstoy's Natacha illus- 
trates this theory : she is charming, gay, liable 
to passion, until she is married ; then she 
becomes merely a virtuous mother, without 
any mental life. This result has Tolstoy's 
entire approval. It must be admitted that it 
is very desirable from the point of view of the 
nation, whatever we may think of it in relation 


Marriage and the Population Question 

to private life. It must also be admitted that 
it is probably common among women who are 
physically vigorous and not highly civilized. 
But in countries like France and England it is 
becoming increasingly rare. More and more 
women find motherhood unsatisfying, not what 
their needs demand. And more and more 
there comes to be a conflict between their per- 
sonal development and the future of the com- 
munity. It is difficult to know what ought 
to be done to mitigate this conflict, but I think 
it is worth while to see what are likely to be 
its effects if it is not mitigated. 

Owing to the combination of economic pru- 
dence with the increasing freedom of women, 
there is at present a selective birth-rate of a 
very singular kind. 1 In France the population 
is practically stationary, and in England it is 
rapidly becoming so ; this means that some 
sections are dwindling while others are in- 
creasing. Unless some change occurs, the 
sections that are dwindling will practically 
become extinct, and the population will be 
almost wholly replenished from the sections 

1 Some interesting facts were given by Mr. Sidney Webb 
in two letters to The Times, October n and 16, 1906; there 
is also a Fabian tract on the subject: "The Decline in 
the Birth-Rate," by Sidney Webb (No. 131). Some further 
information may be found in " The Declining Birth-Rate : 
Its National and International Significance," by A. News- 
holme, M.D., M.R.C.S. (Cassell, 1911). 

177 M 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

that are now increasing. 1 The sections that 
are dwindling include the whole middle -class 
and the skilled artisans. The sections that are 
increasing are the very poor, the shiftless 
and drunkeii, the feeble-minded feeble-minded 
women, especially, are apt to be very prolific. 
There is an increase in those sections of the 
population which still actively believe the 
Catholic religion, such as the Irish and the 
Bretons, because the Catholic religion forbids 
limitation of families. Within the classes that 
are dwindling, it is the best elements that 
are dwindling most rapidly. Working-class 
boys of exceptional ability rise, by means of 
scholarships, into the professional class ; they 
naturally desire to marry into the class to which 
they belong by education, not into the class 
from which they spring ; but as they have 
no money beyond what they earn, they cannot 
marry young, or afford a large family. The 
result is that in each generation the best ele- 
ments are extracted from the working classes 
and artificially sterilized, at least in comparison 
with those who are left. In the professional 

1 The fall in the death-rate, and especially in the infant 
mortality, which has occurred concurrently with the fall in 
the birth-rate, has hitherto been sufficiently great to allow the 
population of Great Britain to go on increasing. But there 
are obvious limits to the fall of the death-rate, whereas the 
birth-rate might easily fall to a point which would make an 
actual diminution of numbers unavoidable. 


Marriage and the Population Question 

classes the young women who have initiative, 
energy, or intelligence are as a rule not 
inclined to marry young, or to have more than 
one or two children when they do marry. 
Marriage has been in the past the only obvious 
means of livelihood for women ; pressure from 
parents and fear of becoming an old maid com- 
bined to force many women to marry in spite 
of a complete absence of inclination for the 
duties of a wife. But now a young woman 
of ordinary intelligence can easily earn her 
own living, and can acquire freedom and 
experience without the permanent ties of a 
husband and a family of children. The result 
is that if she marries she marries late. 

For these reasons, if an average sample of 
children were taken out of the population of 
England, and their parents were examined, it 
would be found that prudence, energy, intellect, 
and enlightenment were less common among 
the parents than in the population in general ; 
while shiftlessness, feeble-mindedness, stupidity, 
and superstition were more common than 
in the population in general. It would be 
found that those who are prudent or ener- 
getic or intelligent or enlightened actually 
fail to reproduce their own numbers ; that is 
to say, they do not on the average have as 
manyias two children each who survive infancy. 
On the other hand, those who have the opposite 
qualities have, on the average, more than two 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

children each, and more than reproduce their 
own numbers. 

It is impossible to estimate the effect which 
this will have upon the character of the popu- 
lation without a much greater knowledge of 
heredity than exists at present. But so long 
as children continue to live with their parents, 
parental example and early education must 
have a great influence in developing their 
character, even if we leave heredity entirely 
out of account. Whatever may be thought 
of genius, there can be no doubt that intelli- 
gence, whether through heredity or through 
education, tends to run in families, and that 
the decay of the families in which it is com- 
mon must lower the mental standard of the 
population. It seems unquestionable that if 
our economic system and our moral standards 
remain unchanged, there will be, in the next 
two or three generations, a rapid change for 
the worse in the character of the population 
in all civilized countries, and an actual diminu- 
tion of numbers in the most civilized. 

The diminution of numbers, in all likelihood, 
will rectify itself in time through the elimina- 
tion of those characteristics which at present 
lead to a small birth-rate. Men and women 
who can still believe the Catholic faith will 
have a biological advantage ; gradually a race 
will grow up which will be impervious to all 
the assaults of reason, and will believe im- 


Marriage and the Population Question 

perturbably that limitation of families leads to 
hell-fire. Women who have mental interests, 
who care about art or literature or politics, 
who desire a career or who value their liberty, 
will gradually grow rarer, and be more and 
more replaced by a placid maternal type which 
has no interests outside the home and no dis- 
like of the burden of motherhood. This result, 
which ages of masculine domination have 
vainly striven to achieve, is likely to be the 
final outcome of women's emancipation and 
of their attempt to enter upon a wider sphere 
than that to which the jealousy of men confined 
them in the past. 

Perhaps, if the facts could be ascertained, 
it would be found that something of the same 
kind occurred in the Roman Empire. The 
decay of energy and intelligence during the 
second, third, and fourth centuries of our era 
has always remained more or less mysterious. 
But there is reason to think that then, as now, 
the best elements of the population in each 
generation failed to reproduce themselves, and 
that the least vigorous were, as a rule, those 
to whom the continuance of the race was due. 
One might be tempted to suppose that civiliza- 
tion, when it has reached a certain height, 
becomes unstable, and tends to decay through 
some inherent weakness, some failure to adapt 
the life of instinct to the intense mental life 
of a period of high culture. But such vague 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

theories have always something glib and super- 
stitious which makes them worthless as scien- 
tific explanations or as guides to action. It 
is not by a literary formula, but by detailed 
and complex thought, that a true solution is 
to be found. 

Let us first be clear as to what we desire. 
There is no importance in an increasing popu- 
lation ; on the contrary, if the population of 
Europe were stationary, it would be much easier 
to promote economic reform and to avoid war. 
What is regrettable at present is not the decline 
of the birth-rate in itself, but the fact that 
the decline is greatest in the best elements of 
the population. There is reason, however, to 
fear in the future three bad results : first, an 
absolute decline in the numbers of English, 
French, and Germans ; secondly, as a conse- 
quence of this decline, their subjugation by 
less civilized races and the extinction of their 
tradition ; thirdly, a revival of their numbers 
on a much lower plane of civilization, after 
generations of selection of those who have 
neither intelligence nor foresight. If this result 
is to be avoided, the present unfortunate 
selectiveness of the birth-rate must be some- 
how stopped. 

The problem is one which applies to the 
whole of Western civilization. There is no 
difficulty in discovering a theoretical solution, 
but there is great difficulty in persuading men 


Marriage and the Population Question 

to adopt a solution in practice, because the 
effects to be feared are not immediate and the 
subject is one upon which people are not in 
the habit of using their reason. If a rational 
solution is ever adopted, the cause will probably 
be international rivalry. It is obvious that if 
one State say Germany adopted a rational 
means of dealing: with the matter, it would 
acquire an enormous advantage over other 
States unless they did likewise. After the war, 
it is possible that population questions will 
attract more attention than they did before, 
and it is likely that they will be studied from 
the point of view of international rivalry. This 
motive, unlike reason and humanity, is perhaps 
strong enough to overcome men's objections to 
a scientific treatment of the birth-rate. 

In the past, at most periods and in most 
societies, the instincts of men and women led 
of themselves to a more than sufficient birth- 
rate ; Malthus's statement of the population 
question had been true enough up to the time 
when he wrote. It is still true of barbarous 
and semi-civilized races, and of the worst 
elements among civilized races. But it has 
become false as regards the more civilized half 
of the population in Western Europe and 
America. Among them, instinct no longer 
suffices to keep numbers even stationary. 

We may sum up the reasons for this in order 
of importance, as follows : 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

1 . The expense of children is very great 
if parents are conscientious. 

2. An increasing number of women desire 
to have no children, or only one or two, in 
order not to be hampered in their own 
careers . 

3. Owing to the excess of women, a large 
number of women remain unmarried. These 
women, though not debarred in practice from 
relations with men, are debarred by the code 
from having children. In this class are to 
be found an enormous and increasing number 
of women who earn their own living as typists, 
in shops, or otherwise. The war has opened 
many employments to women from which they 
were formerly excluded, and this change is 
probably only in part temporary. 

If the sterilizing of the best parts of the 
population is to be arrested, the first and 
most pressing necessity is the removal of the 
economic motives for limiting families. The 
expense of children ought to be borne wholly 
by the community. Their food and clothing 
and education ought to be provided, not only 
to the very poor as a matter of charity, but to 
all classes as a matter of public interest. In 
addition to this, a woman who is capable of 
earning money, and who abandons wage -earn- 
ing for motherhood, ought to receive from the 
State as nearly as possible what she would 
have received if she had not had children. 


Marriage and the Population Question 

The only condition attached to State main- 
tenance of the mother and the children should 
be that both parents are physically and men- 
tally sound in all ways likely to affect the 
children. Those who are not sound should 
not be debarred from having children, but 
should continue, as at present, to bear the 
expense of children themselves. 

It ought to be recognized that the law is only 
concerned with marriage through the question 
of children, and should be indifferent to what 
is called " morality," which is based upon 
custom and texts of the Bible, not upon any 
real consideration of the needs of the com- 
munity. The excess women, who at present 
are in every way discouraged from having 
children, ought no longer to be discouraged. 
If the State is to undertake the expense of 
children, it has the right, on eugenic grounds, 
to know who the father is, and to demand a 
certain stability in a union. But there is no 
reason to demand or expect a lifelong stability, 
or to exact any ground for divorce beyond 
mutual consent. This would make it possible 
for the women who must at present remain 
unmarried to have children if they wished it. 
In this way an enormous and unnecessary 
waste would be prevented, and a great deal of 
needless unhappiness would be avoided. 

There is no necessity to begin such a system 
all at once. It might be begun tentatively 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

with certain exceptionally desirable sections of 
the community. It might then be extended 
gradually, with the experience of its working 
which had been derived from the first experi- 
ment. If the birth-rate were very much in- 
creased, the eugenic conditions exacted might 
be made more strict. 

There are of course various practical diffi- 
culties in the way of such a scheme : the 
opposition of the Church and the upholders 
of traditional morality, the fear of weakening 
parental responsibility, and the expense. All 
these, however, might be overcome. But 
there remains one difficulty which it seems im- 
possible to overcome completely in England, 
and that is, that the whole conception is anti- 
democratic, since it regards some men as better 
than others, and would demand that the State 
should bestow a better education upon the 
children of some men than upon the children 
of others . This is contrary to all the principles 
of progressive politics in England. For this 
reason it can hardly be expected that any such 
method of dealing with the population question 
will ever be adopted in its entirety in this coun- 
try. Something of the sort may well be done 
in Germany, and if so, it will assure German 
hegemony as no merely military victory could 
do. But among ourselves we can only hope 
to see it adopted in some partial, piecemeal 
fashion, and probably only after a change in 

1 86 

Marriage and the Population Question 

the economic structure of society which will 
remove most of the artificial inequalities that 
progressive parties are rightly trying to 

So far we have been considering the question 
of the reproduction of the race, rather than the 
effect of sex relations in fostering or hinder- 
ing the development of men and women . 
From the point of view of the race, what seems 
needed is a complete removal of the economic 
burdens due to children from all parents who 
are not physically or mentally unfit, and as 
much freedom in the law as is compatible with 
public knowledge of paternity. Exactly the 
same changes seem called for when the ques- 
tion is considered from the point of view of 
the men and women concerned. 

In regard to marriage, as with all the other 
traditional bonds between human beings, a very 
extraordinary change is taking place, wholly 
inevitable, wholly necessary as a stage in the 
development of a new life, but by no means 
wholly satisfactory until it is completed. All 
the traditional bonds were based on authority 
of the king, the feudal baron, the priest, the 
father, the husband. All these bonds, just 
because they were based on authority, are dis- 
solving or already dissolved, and the creation 
of other bonds to take their place is as yet 
very incomplete. Eor this reason human 

relations have at present an unusual triviality, 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

and do less than they did formerly to break 
down the hard walls of the Ego. 

The ideal of marriage in the past depended 
upon the authority of the husband, which was 
admitted as a right by the wife. The husband 
was free, the wife was a willing slave. In 
all matters which concerned husband and wife 
jointly, it was taken for granted that the 
husband's fiat should be final. The wife was 
expected to be faithful, while the husband, 
except in very religious societies, was only 
expected to throw a decent veil over his in- 
fidelities. Families could not be limited except 
by continence, and a wife had no recognized 
right to demand continence, however she might 
suffer from frequent children. 

So long as the husband's right to authority 
was unquestioningly believed by both men and 
women, this system was fairly satisfactory, and 
afforded to both a certain instinctive fulfilment 
which is rarely achieved among educated 
people now. Only one will, the husband's, 
had to be taken into account, and there was no 
need of the difficult adjustments required when 
common decisions have to be reached by two 
equal wills.* The wife's desires were not treated 
seriously enough to enable them to thwart the 
husband's needs, and the wife herself, unless 
she was exceptionally selfish, did not seek self- 
development, or see in marriage anything but 
an opportunity for duties. Since she did not 


Marriage and the Population Question 

seek or expect much happiness, she suffered 
less, when happiness was not attained, than 
a woman does now : her suffering contained 
no element of indignation or surprise, and did 
not readily turn into bitterness and sense of 
injury . 

The saintly, self-sacrificing woman whom our 
ancestors praised had her place in a certain 
organic conception of society, the conception 
of the ordered hierarchy of authorities which 
dominated the Middle Ages. She belongs to 
the same order of ideas as the faithful servant, 
the loyal subject, and the orthodox son of 
the Church. This whole order of ideas has 
vanished from the civilized world, and it is 
to be hoped that it has vanished for ever, in 
spite of the fact that the society which it pro- 
duced was vital and in some ways full of 
nobility. The old order has been destroyed 
by the new ideals of justice and liberty, begin- 
ning with religion, passing on to politics, and 
reaching at last the private relations of mar- 
riage and the family. When once the question 
has been asked, " Why should a woman sub- 
mit to a man ? " when once the answers derived 
from tradition and the Bible have ceased to 
satisfy, there is no longer any possibility of 
maintaining the old subordination. To every 
man who, has the power of thinking imper- 
sonally and freely, it is obvious, as soon as 
the question is asked, that the rights of women 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

are precisely the same as the rights of men. 
Whatever dangers and difficulties, whatever 
temporary chaos, may be incurred in the transi- 
tion to equality, the claims of reason are so 
insistent and so clear that no opposition to 
them can hope to be long successful. 

Mutual liberty, which is now demanded, is 
making the old form of marriage impossible. 
But a new form, which shall be an equally 
good vehicle for instinct, and an equal help to 
spiritual growth, has not yet been developed. 
For the present, women who are conscious of 
liberty as something to be preserved are also 
conscious of the difficulty of preserving it . The 
wish for mastery is an ingredient in most men's 
sexual passions, especially in those which are 
strong and serious. It survives in many men 
whose theories are entirely opposed to 
despotism. The result is a fight for liberty 
on the one side and for life on the othfer. 
Women feel that they must protect their in- 
dividuality ; men feel, often very dumbly, that 
the repression of instinct which is demanded 
of them is incompatible with vigour and initi- 
ative. The clash of these opposing moods 
makes all real mingling of personalities im- 
possible ; the man and woman remain hard, 
separate units, continually asking themselves 
whether anything of value to themselves is 
resulting from the union. The effect is that 
relations tend to become trivial and temporary, 


Marriage and the Population Question 

a pleasure rather than the satisfaction of a 
profound need, an excitement, not an attain- 
ment. The fundamental loneliness into which 
we are born remains untouched, and the hunger 
for inner companionship remains unappeased. 

No cheap and easy solution of this trouble 
is possible. It is a trouble which affects most 
the most civilized men and women, and is an 
outcome of the increasing sense of individuality 
which springs inevitably from mental progress. 
I doubt if there is any radical cure except in 
some form of religion, so firmly and sincerely 
believed as to dominate even the life of instinct . 
The individual is not the end and aim of his 
own being : outside the individual, there is 
the community, the future of mankind, the 
immensity of the universe in which all our 
hopes and fears are a mere pin-point. A man 
and woman with reverence for the spirit of 
life in each other, with an equal sense of their 
own unimportance beside the whole life of man, 
may become comrades without interference 
with liberty, and may achieve the union of 
instinct without doing violence to the life of 
mind and spirit. As religion dominated the 
old form of marriage, so religion must 
dominate the new. But it must be a new 
religion based upon liberty, justice, and love, 
not upon authority and law and hell -fire. 

A bad effect upon the relations of men and 
women has been produced by the romantic 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

movement, through directing attention to what 
ought to be an incidental good, not the pur- 
pose for which relations exist. Love is what 
gives intrinsic value to a marriage, and, like 
art and thought, it is one of the supreme things 
which make human life worth preserving. 
But though there is no good marriage without 
love, the best marriages have a purpose which 
goes beyond love. The love of two people for 
each other is too circumscribed, too separate 
from the community, to be by itself the main 
purpose of a good life. It is not in itself a 
sufficient source of activities, it is not suffi- 
ciently prospective, to make an existence in 
which ultimate satisfaction can be found. It 
brings its great moments, and then its times 
which are less great, which are unsatisfying 
because they are less great. It becomes, 
sooner or later, retrospective, a tomb of dead 
joys, not a well-spring of new life. This evil 
is inseparable from any purpose which is to 
be achieved in a single supreme emotion. The 
only adequate purposes are those which stretch 
out into the future, which can never be fully 
achieved, but are always growing, and infinite 
with the infinity of human endeavour. And it 
is only when love is linked to some infinite 
purpose of this kind that it can have the 
seriousness and depth of which it is capable. 
For the great majority of men and women 
seriousness in sex relations is most likely to 


Marriage and the Population Question 

be achieved through children. Children are 
to most people rather a need than a desire : 
instinct is as a rule only consciously directed 
towards what used to lead to children. The 
desire for children is apt to develop in middle 
life, when the adventure of one's own existence 
is past, when the friendships of youth seem 
less important than they once did, when the 
prospect of a lonely old age begins to terrify, 
and the feeling of having no share in the 
future becomes oppressive. Then those who, 
while they were young, have had no sense that 
children would be a fulfilment of their needs, 
begin to regret their former contempt for the 
normal, and to envy acquaintances whom 
before they had thought humdrum. But owing 
to economic causes it is often impossible for 
the young, and especially for the best of the 
young, to have children without sacrificing 
things of vital importance to their own lives. 
And so youth passes, and the need is felt top 

Needs without corresponding desires have 
grown increasingly common as life has grown 
more different from that primitive existence 
from which our instincts are derived, and to 
which, rather than to that of the present day, 
they are still very largely adapted. An un- 
satisfied need produces, in the end, as much 
pain and as much distortion of character as 
if it had been associated with a conscious 

193 N 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

desire. For this reason, as well as for the 
sake of the race, it is important to remove the 
present economic inducements to childlessness. 
There is no necessity whatever to urge parent- 
hood upon those who feel disinclined to it, 
but there is necessity not to place obstacles 
in the way of those who have no such 

In speaking of the importance of preserving 
seriousness in the relations of men and women, 
I do not mean to suggest that relations which 
are hot serious are always harmful . Traditional 
morality has erred by laying stress on what 
ought not to happen, rather than on what ought 
to happen. What is important is that men and 
women should find, sooner or later, the best 
relation of which their natures are capable. 
It is not always possible to know in advance 
what will be the best, or to be sure of not 
missing the best if everything that can be 
doubted is rejected. Among primitive races, 
a man wants a female, a woman wants a male, 
and there is no such differentiation as makes 
one a much more suitable companion than 
another. But with the increasing complexity 
of disposition that civilized life brings, it 
becomes more and more difficult to find the 
man or woman who will bring happiness, and 
more and more necessary to make it not too 
difficult to acknowledge a mistake. . 

The present marriage law is an inheritance 

Marriage and the Population Question 

from a simpler age, and is supported, in the 
main, by unreasoning fears and by contempt 
for all that is delicate and difficult in the life 
of the mind. Owing to the law, large numbers 
of men and women are condemned, so far 
as their ostensible relations are concerned, to 
the society of an utterly uncongenial com- 
panion, with all the embittering consciousness 
that escape is practically impossible. In these 
circumstances, happier relations with others are 
often sought, but they have to be clandestine, 
without a common life, and without children. 
Apart from the great evil of being clandestine, 
such relations have some almost inevitable 
drawbacks. They are liable to emphasize sex 
unduly, to be exciting and disturbing ; and 
it is hardly possible that they should bring a 
real satisfaction of instinct. It is the com- 
bination of love, children, and a comtnon life 
that makes the best relation between a man 
and a woman. The law at present confines 
children and a common life within the bounds 
of monogamy, but it cannot confine love. By 
forcing many to separate love from children 
and a common life, the law cramps their lives, 
prevents them from 1 reaching the full measure 
of their possible development, and inflicts a 
wholly unnecessary torture upon those who are 
not content to become frivolous. 

To sum up : The present state of the law, 
of public opinion, and of our economic system 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

is tending to degrade the quality of the race, 
by making the worst half of the population the 
parents of more than half of the next genera- 
tion. At the same time, women's claim to 
liberty is making the old form of marriage a 
hindrance to the development of both men and 
women. A new system' is required, if the 
European nations are not to degenerate, and 
if the relations of men and women are to have 
the strong happiness and organic seriousness 
which belonged to the best marriages in the 
past . The new system must be based upon the 
fact that to produce children is a service to the 
community, and ought not to expose parents 
to heavy pecuniary penalties. It will have to 
recognize that neither the law nor public 
opinion should concern itself with the private 
relations of men and women, except where 
children are concerned. It ought to remove 
the inducements to make relations clandestine 
and childless. It ought to admit that, although 
lifelong monogamy is best when it is success- 
ful, the increasing complexity of our needs 
makes it increasingly often a failure for which 
divorce is the best preventive. Here, as else- 
where, liberty is the basis of political wisdom. 
And when liberty has been won, what remains 
to be desired must be left to the conscience 
and religion of individual men and women. 



ALMOST all the changes which the world has 
undergone 'since the end of the Middle Ages 
are due to the discovery and diffusion of new 
knowledge. This was the primary cause of 
the Renaissance, thd Reformation, and the 
industrial revolution. It was also, very directly, 
the cause of the decay of dogmatic religion. 
The study of classical texts and early Church 
history, Copernican astronomy and physics, 
Darwinian bioloigy and comparative anthro- 
pology, have each in turn battered down some 
part jof the edifice of Catholic dogma, until, 
for almost all thinking and instructed people, 
the most that seems defensible is some inner 
spirit, some vague hope, and some not very 
definite f eelirig of moral obligation . This result 
might (perhaps have remained limited to the 
educated minority, but for the fact that the 
Churches have almost everywhere opposed 
political progress with the same bitterness with 
which they have opposed progress in thought. 
Political eonservatisrri has brought the Churches 
into conflict with whatever was vigorous in the 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

working classes, and has spread free thought 
in wide circles which might otherwise have 
remained orthodox for centuries. The decay 
of dogmatic religion is, for good or evil, one 
of the most important facts in the modern 
world. Its effects have hardly yet begun to 
show themselves : what they will be it is 
impossible to say, but they will certainly be 
profound and far-reaching. 

Religion is partly personal, partly social : 
to the Protestant primarily personal, to the 
Catholic primarily social. It is only when 
the two elements are intimately blended that 
religion becomes a powerful force in moulding 
society. The Catholic Church, as it existed 
from the time of Constantine to the time of the 
Reformation, represented a blending which 
would have seembd incredible if it had not been 
actually achieved, the blending of Christ and 
Caesar, of the morality of humble submission- 
with the pride of Imperial Rome. Those who 
loved the one could find it in the Thebaid ; those 
who loved the other could admire it 'in the pomp 
of metropolitan archbishops. In St. Erancis 
and Innocent III the same two sides of 
the Church are still represented. But since 
the Reformation personal religion has been 
increasingly outside the Catholic Church, while 
the religion which has remained Catholic has 
been increasingly a matter of institutions and 
politics and historic continuity. This division 


Religion and the Churches 

has weakened the force of religion : religious 
bodies have not 'been strengthened by the 
enthusiasm arid single -mindedness of the men 
in whom personal religion is strong, and these 
men [have riot found their teaching diffused and 
made permanent by the power of ecclesiastical 
institutions . 

The Catholic Church achieved, during the 
Middle Ages, the most organic society and the 
mbst harmonious inner synthesis of instinct, 
mind, and spirit', that the -Western world has 
ever known. St. Francis, Thomas Aquinas, 
and Dante represent its summit as regards 
individual development. The cathedrals, the 
mendicant Orders, and the triumph of the 
Papacy over the Empire represent its supreme 
political success. But the perfection which 
had been achieved 1 was a narrow perfection : 
instinct, mind, andi spirit all suffered from 
curtailment in order to fit into the pattern ; 
laymen found themselves subject to the Church 
in ways Which 1 they resented, and' the Church 
used its power for rapacity and oppression. 
The perfect synthesis was an enemy to new 
growth, and after the time of Dante all that 
was living in the world had first to fight for 
its right to live against the representatives of 
the old order. This fight is even now not 
ended. Only when it is quite ended, both in 
the external world of politics and in the internal 
world of men's own thoughts, will it be 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

possible for a new organic society and a new 
inner synthesis to take the place which the 
Church held for a thousand years. 

The clerical profession suffers from two 
causes, one of which it shares with some other 
professions, while the other is peculiar to itself. 
The cause peculiar to, it is the convention' 
that clergymen are more virtuous than other 
men. Any average selection of mankind, set 
apart and told that it excels the rest in virtue, 
must terid to sink below the average. This 
is an ancient commonplace in regard to princes 
and those who used to be called " the great." 
But it is no less true as regards those of the 
clergy who are not genuinely and by nature as 
much better than the average as they are con- 
ventionally supposed to be. The other source 
of harm to the clerical profession is endow- 
ments. Property which is only available for 
those who will support an established institution 
has a tendency to warp men's judgments as to 
the excellence of the institution. The tendency 
is aggravated when the property is associated 
with social consideration and opportunities for 
petty power. It is at its worst when the 
institution is tied by law to an ancient creed, 
almost impossible to change, and yet quite out 
of touch with the unfettered thought of the 
present day. All these causes combine to 
damage the moral force of the Church. 

It is not so much that the creed of the 

Religion and the Churches 

Church is the wrong one. What is amiss is 
the mere existence of a creed. As soon as 
income, position, and power are dependent 
upon acceptance of no matter what creed, 
intellectual honesty is imiperilled. Men will 
tell themselves that a formal assent is justified 
by the good' which it will enable them 1 to do. 
They fail to realize that, in those whose mental 
life has any vigour, loss of complete intellectual 
integrity puts an end 1 to the power of dicing 
good, by producing gradually in all directions 
an inability to see truth simply. The strict- 
ness of party discipline has introduced the isame 
evil in politics ; there, because the evil is 
comparatively new, it is visible to many who 
think it unimportant as regards the Church. 
But the evil is greater as regards the Church, 
because religion is of more importance than 
politics, and because it is more necessary that 
the exponents of religion should be wholly free 
from taint. 

The evils we have been considering seem 
inseparable from the existence of a professional 
priesthood. If religion is not to be harmful 
in a world of rapid change, it must, like the 
Society of Friends, be carried on by men 
who have other occupations during the week, 
who do their religious work from enthusiasm, 
without receiving any payment. And such 
men, because they iknow the everyday world, 
are not likely to fall into a remote morality 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

which no one regard's as applicable to common 
life. Being free, they will not be bound to 
reach certain conclusions decided in advance, 
but will be able to consider m'oral and religious 
questions genuinely, without bias. Except in 
a quite stationary society, no religious life can 
be living or a real support to the spirit unless 
it is freed from the incubus of a professional 
priesthood . 

It is largely for these reasons that so little 
of what is valuable in morals and religion comes 
nowadays from the men who are eminent in 
the religious world. It is true that among 
professed believers there are many who are 
wholly sincere, who feel still the inspiration 
which Christianity brought before it had 
been weakened by the progress of knowledge. 
These sincere believers are valuable to the 
world because they keep alive the conviction 
that the life of the spirit is what is of most 
importance to men and women . Some of them, 
in all the countries now at war, have had the 
courage to preachi peace and love in the name 
of Christ, and have done what lay in their 
power to mitigate the bitterness of hatred . All 
praise is due: to these men, and without them 
the world would be even worse than it is. 

But it is not through even the most sincere 
and courageous believers in the traditional 
religion that a new spirit can come into the 
world. It is not through them that religion 


Religion and the Churches 

can be brought back to those who have lost it 
because their mind's were active, not because 
their spirit was dead!. Believers in the tradi- 
tional religion necessarily look to the past for 
inspiration rather than to the future. They 
seek wisdom in the teaching of Christ, which, 
admirable as it is, remains .quite inadequate for 
many of the sodial and spiritual issues of 
mod'ern life. Art and! intellect and all theprob- 
lems of government are ignored in the Gospels . 
Those who, like Tolstoy, endeavour seriously 
to take the Gospels as a guide to. life are 
compelled to regard 1 the ignorant peasant as 
the best type of man, and. to brush aside 
political questions by an extreme and imprac- 
ticable anarchism 1 . 

If a religious view of life and the world is 
ever to reconquer the thoughts and feelings of 
free -minded men and women, much that we 
are accustomed to associate with religion will 
have to be discarded. The first and greatest 
change that is required is to establish a morality 
of initiative, not a morality of submission, a 
morality of hope rather than fear, of things 
to be done rather than of things to be left 
undone . It is not the whole duty of man to slip 
through the world so as to escape the wrath 
of God. The world is our world, and it rests 
with us to make it a heaven or a hell. The 
power is ours, and the kingdom and the glory 
would be ours also if we had courage and 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

insight to create them. The religious life that 
we must seek will not be one of occasional 
solemnity and superstitious prohibitions, it will 
not be sad or ascetic, it will concern itself 
little with rules of conduct. It will be inspired 
by a vision of what human life may be, and 
will be happy with the joy of creation, living 
in a large free world of initiative and hope. 
It will love mankind, not for what they are 
to the outward eye, but for what imagination 
shows that they have it in them to become. 
It will not readily condemn, but it will give 
praise to positive achievement rather than 
negative sinlessness, to the joy of life, the 
quick affection, the creative insight, by which 
the world may grow young and beautiful and 
filled with vigour. 

" Religion " is a word which has many mean- 
ings and a long history. In origin, it was 
concerned with certain rites, inherited from a 
remote past, performed originally for some 
reason long since forgotten, and associated 
from time to time with various myths to account 
for their supposed importance. Much of this 
lingers still. A religious man is one who 
goes to church, a communicant, one who 
" practises," as Catholics say. How he be- 
haves otherwise, or how he feels concerning 
life and man's place in the world, does not 
bear upon the question whether he is " reli- 
gious " in this simple but historically correct 


Religion and the Churches 

sense. Many men and women are religious 
in this sense without having in their natures 
anything that deserves to be called religion 
in the sense in which I mean the word. The 
mere familiarity of the Church service has 
made them impervious to it ; they are uncon- 
scious of all the history and human experience 
by which the liturgy has been enriched, and 
unmoved by the glibly repeated words of the 
Gospel, which condemn almost all the activities 
of those who fancy themselves disciples of 
Christ. This fate must overtake any habitual 
rite : it is impossible that it should continue to 
produce much effect after it has been performed 
so often as to grow mechanical. 

The activities of men may be roughly derived 
from three sources, not in actual fact sharply 
separate one from another, but sufficiently dis- 
tinguishable to deserve different names. The 
three sources I mean are instinct, mind, and 
spirit, and of these three it is the life of the 
spirit that makes religion. 

The life of instinct includes all that man 
shares with the lower animals, all that is con- 
cerned with self-preservation and reproduction 
and the desires and impulses derivative from 
these. It includes vanity and love of posses- 
sions, love of family, and even much of what 
makes love of country. It includes all the 
impulses that are essentially concerned with 
the biological success of oneself or one's group 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

for among gregarious animals the life of 
instinct includes the group. The impulses 
which it includes may not in fact make for 
success, and may often in fact militate against 
it, but are nevertheless those of which success 
is the raison d'etre, those which express the 
animal nature of man and his position among 
a world of competitors. 

The life of the mind is the life of pursuit of 
knowledge, from mere childish curiosity up to 
the greatest efforts of thought . Curiosity exists 
in animals, and serves an obvious biological 
purpose ; but it is only in men that it passes 
beyond the investigation of particular objects 
which may be edible or poisonous, friendly or 
hostile. Curiosity is the primary impulse out 
of which the whole edifice of scientific know- 
ledge has grown. Knowledge has been found 
so useful that most actual acquisition of it is 
no longer prompted by curiosity ; innumerable 
other motives now contribute to foster the 
intellectual life. Nevertheless, direct love of 
knowledge and dislike of error still play a very 
large part, especially with those who are most 
successful in learning. No man acquires much 
knowledge unless the acquisition is in itself 
delightful to him, apart from any conscious- 
ness of the use to which the knowledge may be 
put. The impulse to acquire knowledge and 
the activities which centre round it constitute 
what I mean by the life of the mind. The life 


Religion and the Churches 

of the mind consists of thought which is wholly 
or partially impersonal, in the sense that it 
concerns itself with objects on their own 
account, and not merely on account of their 
bearing upon our instinctive life. 

The life of the spirit centres round imper- 
sonal feeling, as the life of the mind centres 
round impersonal thought. In this sense, 
all art belongs to the life of the spirit, 
though its greatness is derived from its 
being also intimately bound up with the 
life of instinct. Art starts from instinct 
and rises into the region of the spirit ; 
religion starts from the spirit and endeavours 
to dominate and inform the life of instinct. It 
is possible to feel the same interest in the joys 
and sorrows of others as in our own, to love 
and hate independently of all relation to our- 
selves, to care about the destiny of man and 
the development of the universe without a 
thought that we are personally involved. 
Reverence and worship, the sense of an 
obligation to mankind, the feeling of im- 
perativeness and acting under orders which 
traditional religion has interpreted as Divine 
inspiration, all belong to the life of the spirit. 
And deeper than all these lies the sense of a 
mystery half revealed, of a hidden wisdom and 
glory, of a transfiguring vision in which com- 
mon things lose their solid importance and 
become a thin veil behind which the ultimate 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

truth of the world is dimly seen. It is such 
feelings that are the source of religion, and if 
they were to die most of what is best would 
vanish out of life. 

Instinct, mind, and spirit are all essential 
to a full life ; each has its own excellence and 
its own corruption. Each can attain a spurious 
excellence at the expense of the others ; each 
has a tendency to encroach upon the others ; 
but in the life which is to be sought all three 
will be developed in co-ordination, and in- 
timately blended in a single harmonious whole. 
Among uncivilized men instinct is supreme, 
and mind and spirit hardly exist. Among 
educated men at the present day mind is 
developed, as a rule, at the expense of both 
instinct and spirit, producing a curious in- 
humanity and lifelessness, a paucity of both 
personal and impersonal desires, which leads 
to cynicism and intellectual destructiveness. 
Among ascetics and most of those who would 
be called saints, the life of the spirit has been 
developed at the expense of instinct and mind, 
producing an outlook which is impossible to 
those who have a healthy animal life and to 
those who have a love of active thought. It 
is not in any of these one-sided develop- 
ments that we can find wisdom or a philosophy 
which will bring new life to the civilized 

Among civilized men and women at the 

Religion and the Churches 

present day it is rare to find instinct, mind, 
and spirit in harmony . Very few have achieved 
a practical philosophy which gives its due place 
to each ; as a rule, instinct is at war with 
either mind or spirit, and 1 mind and spirit are 
at war with each other. This strife compels 
men and women to direct much of their energy 
inwards, instead of being able to expend it 
all in objective activities. When a man 
achieves a precarious inward peace by the 
defeat of a part of his nature, his vital forces 
is impaired, and his growth is no longer quite 
healthy. If men are to remain whole, it is 
very necessary that they should achieve a 
reconciliation of instinct, mind, and spirit. 
Instinct is the source of vitality, the bond 
that unites the life of the individual with the 
life of the race, the basis of all profound sense 
of union with others, and the means by which 
the collective life nourishes the life of the 
separate units. But instinct by itself leaves 
us powerless to control the forces of Nature, 
either in ourselves or in our physical environ- 
ment, and keeps us in bondage to the same 
unthinking impulse by which the trees grow. 
Mind can liberate us from this bondage, by the 
power of impersonal thought, which enables 
us to judge critically the purely biological 
purposes towards which instinct more or less 
blindly tends. But mind, in its dealings with 
instinct, is trierely critical : so far as instinct 

209 o 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

is concerned, the unchecked activity of the 
mind is apt to be destructive and to generate 
cynicism. Spirit is an antidote to the cynicism 
of mind : it universalizes the emotions that 
spring from instinct, and by universalizing them 
makes them impervious to mental criticism. 
And when thought is informed by spirit it 
loses its cruel, destructive quality ; it no longer 
promotes the death of instinct, but only its 
purification from insistence and ruthlessness 
and its emancipation from the prison walls of 
accidental circumstance. It is instinct that 
gives force, mind that gives the means of 
directing force to desired ends, and spirit that 
suggests impersonal uses for force of a kind 
that thought cannot discredit by criticism. 
This is an outline of the parts that instinct, 
mind, and spirit would play in a harmonious 

Instinct, mind, and spirit are each a help 
to the others when their development is free 
and unvitiated ; but when corruption comes 
into any one of the three, not only does that 
one fail, but the others also become poisoned. 
All three must grow together. And if they 
are to grow to their full stature in any one 
man or woman, that man or woman must not 
be isolated, but must be one of a. society where 
growth is not thwarted and made crooked. 

The life of instinct, when it is unchecked by 
mind or spirit, consists of instinctive cycles, 


Religion and the Churches 

which begin with impulses to more or less 
definite acts, and pass on to satisfaction of 
needs through the consequences of these im- 
pulsive acts. Impulse and desire are not 
directed towards the whole cycle, but only 
towards its initiation : the rest is left to natural 
causes. We desire to eat, but we do not desire 
to be nourished unless we are valetudinarians. 
Yet without the nourishment eating is a mere 
momentary pleasure, not part of the general 
impulse to life. Men desire sexual inter- 
course, but they do not as a rule desire 
children strongly or often. Yet without the 
hope of children and its occasional realization, 
sexual intercourse remains for most people an 
isolated and separate pleasure, not uniting their 
personal life with the life of mankind, not con- 
tinuous with the central (purposes by which they 
live, and not capable of bringing that pro- 
found sense of fulfilment which comes from 
completion by children. Most men, unless 
the impulse is atrophied through disuse, feel 
a desire to create something, great or small 
according to their capacities. Some few are 
able to satisfy this desire : some happy men 
can create an' Empire, a science, a poem', or a 
picture. The men of science, who have less 
difficulty than any others in finding an outlet 
for creativeness, are the happiest of intelligent 
men in the modern world, since their creative 
activity affords full satisfaction to mind and 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

spirit as well as to the instinct of creation. 1 In 
them a beginning is to be seen of the new 
way of life which is to be sought ; in their 
happiness we may perhaps find the germ of 
a future happiness for all mankind. The rest, 
with few exceptions, are thwarted in their 
creative impulses. They cannot build their 
own house or make their own garden, or direct 
their own labour to producing what their free 
choice would lead them to produce . In this way 
the instinct of creation, which should lead on 
to the life of mind and spirit, is checked 
and turned aside. Too often it is turned 
to destruction, as the only effective action which 
remains possible. Out of its defeat grows 
envy, and out of envy grows the impulse to 
destroy the creativeness of more fortunate men . 
This is one of the greatest sources of corruption 
in the life of instinct. 

The life of instinct is important, not only on 
its own account, or because of the direct 
usefulness of the actions which it inspires, but 
also because, if it is unsatisfactory, the indi- 
vidual life becomes detached and separated 
from the general life of man. All really pro- 
found sense of unity with others depends upon 
instinct, upon co-operation or agreement in 
some instinctive purpose. This is most obvious 

1 I should add artists, but for the fact that most modern 
artists seem to find much greater difficulty in creation than 
men of science usually find. 


Religion and the Churches 

in the relations of men and' women and parents 
and children. But it is true also in wider 
relations. It is true of large assemblies swayed 
by a strong common emotion, and even of a 
Whole nation in timjes of stress. It is part 
of what makes the value of religion as a 
social institution. -Where this feeling is wholly 
absent, pther human beings seem distant and 
aloof. >Where it is actively thwarted, other 
human beingts become objects of instinctive 
hostility. The aloofness or the instinctive 
hostility may be masked by religious love, 
which can be igiven to all men regardless of 
their relation to ourselves. But religious love 
does not bridge the gulf that parts man from 
man : it looks across the gulf, it views others 
with compassion or impersonal sympathy, but 
it does not live with! the same life with which 
they live. Instinct alone can do this, but only 
when it is fruitful and sane and direct. To 
this end it is necessary that instinctive cycles 
should be fairly often completed, not inter- 
rupted in the middle of their course. At 
present they are constantly interrupted, partly 
by purposes which conflict with them for 
economic or other reasons, partly by the pursuit 
of pleasure, which picks out the most agreeable 
part of the cycle and avoids the rest. In this 
way instinct is robbed of its imiportance and 
seriousness ; it becomes incapable of bringing 
any real fulfilment, its demands grow more 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

and more excessive, and life becomes no 
longer a whole with a single movement, but 
a series of detached moments, some of them 
pleasurable, most of them full of weariness 
and discouragenient. 

The life of the mind, although supremely 
excellent in itself, cannot bring health into the 
life of instinct, except when it results in a not 
too difficult outlet for the instinct of creation. 
In other cases it is, as a rule, too widely 
separated from instinct, too detached, too des- 
titute of inward growth, to afford either a 
vehicle for instinct or a means of subtilizing 
and refining it. Thought is in its essence 
impersonal and detached, instinct is in its 
essence personal and tied to particular circum- 
stances : between the two, unless both reach 
a high level, there is a war which is not easily 
appeased. This is the fundamental reason for 
vitalism, futurism, pragmatism, and the various 
other philosophies which advertise themselves 
as vigorous and virile. All these represent the 
attempt to find a mode of thought which shall 
not be hostile to instinct. The attempt, in 
itself, is deserving of praise, but the solution 
offered is far too facile. What is proposed 
amounts to a subordination of thought to 
instinct, a refusal to allow thought to achieve 
its own ideal. Thought which does not rise 
above what is personal is not thought in any 
true sense : it is merely, a more or less intelligent 


Religion and the Churches 

use of instinct. It is thought and spirit that 
raise man above the level of the brutes. By 
discarding them we may lose the proper 
excellence of men, but cannot acquire the 
excellence of animals. Thougnt must achieve 
its full growth before a reconciliation with 
instinct is attempted. 

When refined thought and unrefined instinct 
coexist, as they do in many intellectual men;, 
the result is a complete disbelief in any 
important good to be achieved by the help of 
instinct. According to their disposition, some 
such men will ais far as possible discard instinct 
and become ascetic, while others will accept 
it as a necessity, leaving it degraded and 
separated from all that is really important in 
their lives. Either of these courses prevents 
instinct from remaining vital, or from being 
a bond with others ; either produces a sense 
of physical solitude, a gulf across which the 
minds and spirits of others may speak, but not 
their instincts . To very many men, the instinct 
of patriotism, when the war broke out, was 
the first instinct that had bridged the gulf, the 
first that had made them feel a really profound 
unity with others. This instinct, just because, 
in its intense form, it was new and unfamiliar, 
had remained uninfected by thought, not 
paralysed or devitalized by doubt and cold 
detachment. The sense of unity which it 
brought is capable of being brought by the 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

instinctive life of more normal times, if thought 
and spirit are not hostile to it. And so long 
as this sense of unity is absent, instinct and 
spirit cannot be in harmony, nor can the life 
of the community have vigour and the seeds 
of new growth. 

The life of the mind, because of its detach- 
ment, tends to separate a man inwardly from 
other men, so longi as it is not balanced by 
the life of the spirit. For this reason, mind 
without spirit can render instinct corrupt or 
atrophied, but cannot add any excellence to 
the life of instinct. On this ground, some men 
are hostile to thought. But no good purpose 
is served by trying to prevent the growth of 
thought, which has its own insistence, and if 
checked in the directions in which it tends 
naturally, will turn into other directions where 
it is more harmful. And thought is in itself 
God-like : if the opposition between thought 
and instinct were irreconcilable, it would be 
thought that ought to conquer. But the 
opposition is not irreconcilable : all that 
is necessary, is that both thought and instinct 
should be informed' by the life of the spirit. 

In order that human life should have vigour, 
it is necessary for the instinctive impulses to 
be strong and direct ; but in order that human 
life should be good, these impulses must be 
dominated and controlled by desires less per- 
sonal and ruthless, less liable to lead to conflict 


Religion and the Churches 

than those that are inspired by instinct alone. 
Something impersonal and universal is needed 
over and above what springs out of the prin- 
ciple of individual growth. It is this that is 
given by the life of the spirit. 

Patriotism' affords an example of the kind 
of control which! is needed. Ratriotisrn! is 
compounded' out of a number of instinctive 
feelings and impulses : love of home, love of 
those whose ways and outlook resemble our 
own, the impulse to co-operation in a group, the 
sense of pride in the achievements of one's 
group. All these impulses and desires, like 
everything belonging to the life of instinct, are 
personal, in the sense that the feelings and 
actions which they inspire towards others are 
determined by the relation of those others to 
ourselves, not by, what those others are intrinsi- 
cally. All these im'pulses and desires unite to 
produce a love of a mian's own country which 
is more deeply implanted in the fibre of his 
being, and more closely united 1 to his vital 
force, than any love not rooted in instinct. 
But if spirit does not enter in to generalize 
love of country, the exclusiveness of instinctive 
love makes it a source of hatred of other 
countries . What spirit can effect is to make us 
realize that other countries equally are worthy 
of love, that the vital warmth which makes 
us love our own country reveals to us that 
it deserves to be loved, and that only the 


Principles o( Social Reconstruction 

poverty of Our nature prevents us from loving 
all countries as we love our own. In this 
way instinctive love can be extended in 
imagination, and a sense of the value of all 
mankind can grow up, which is more living 
and intense than any that is possible to those 
whose instinctive love is weak. Mind can only 
show us that it is irrational to love our oiwn 
country best ; it can weaken patriotism, but 
cannot strengthen the love of all mankind. 
Spirit alone can do this, by extending and 
universalizing the love that is born of instinct. 
And in doing this it checks and purifies what- 
ever is insistent or ruthless or oppressively 
personal in the life of instinct. 

The same extension through spirit is neces- 
sary with other instinctive loves, if they are 
not to be enfeebled' or corrupted' by thought. 
The love of husband and wife is capable of 
being a very good thing, and when men and 
women are sufficiently primitive, nothing but 
instinct and good fortune is needed to make 
it reach a certain limited perfection. But as 
thought begins to assert its right to criticize 
instinct the old simplicity becomes impossible. 
The love of husband and wife, as unchecked 
instinct leaves it, is too narrow and personal 
to stand against the shafts of satire, until it is 
enriched by the life of the spirit. The romantic 
view of marriage, which our fathers and 
mothers professed to believe, will not survive 


Religion and the Churches 

an imaginative peregrination down a street of 
suburban villas, each containing its couple, each 
couple having congratulated themselves as 
they first crossed the threshold, that here they 
could love in peace, without interruption from 
others, without Contact with the cold outside 
world. The separateness and stuffiness, the 
fine names for cowardices and 1 timid vanities, 
that are shut within the four walls of thousands 
upon thousands of 1 little villas, present them- 
selves coldly and mercilessly to those in whom 
mind is dominant at the expense of spirit. 

Nothing is good ift the life of a humkn being 
except the very best that his nature can achieve. 
As men advance, things which have been 
good cease to be good, merely because some- 
thing better is possible. So it is with the life 
of instinct : for those whose mental life is 
strong, much that was really good while mind 
remained less developed has now become bad 
merely through the greater degree of truth in 
their outlook on the world. The instinctive 
man in love feels that his emotion is unique, 
that the lady of his heart has perfections such 
as no other woman ever equalled. The man 
who has acquired the power of impersonal 
thought realizes, when he is in love, that he 
is one of so many millions of men who are in 
love at this moment, that not more than one 
of all the millions can be right in thinking his 
love supreme, and that it is not likely that that 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

one is oneself. He perceives that the state of 
being in love in those whose instinct is 
unaffected by thought or spirit, is a state of 
illusion, serving thei ends of Nature and making 
a man a slave to the life of the species, not a 
willing minister to the impersonal ends which 
he sees to be good. Thought rejects this 
slavery ; for no end that Nature may have in 
view will thought abdicate, or forgo its right 
to think truly. " Better the world should perish 
than that I or any other human being should 
believe a lie " this is the religion of thought, 
in whose scorchmgi flames the dross of the 
world is being burnt away. It is a good 
religion, and its work of destruction must be 
completed. But it is not all that man has 
need of. New growth must come after the 
destruction, and new growth can come only 
through the spirit. 

Both patriotism and the love of man and 
woman, when they are merely instinctive, have 
the same defects : their exclusions, their 
enclosing walls, their indifference or hostility 
to the outside world. It is through this that 
thought is led to satire, that comedy has in- 
fected what men used to consider their holiest 
feelings. The satire and the comedy are 
justified, but not the death of instinct which 
they may produce if they remain in supreme 
command. They are justified, not as the last 
word of wisdom, but as the gateway of pain 


Religion and the Churches 

through which men pass to a new life, where 
instinct is purified and yet nourished by the 
deeper desires and insight of spirit. 

The man who has the life of the spirit within 
him views the love of man and woman, both 
in himself and in others, quite differently from 
the man who is exclusively dominated by 
mind. He sees, in his moments of insight, 
that in all human beings there is something 
deserving of love, something mysterious, some- 
thing appealing, a cry out of the night, a 
groping journey, and a possible victory. When 
his instinct loves, he welcomes its help in 
seeing and feeling the value of the human being 
whom he loves. Instinct becomes a rein- 
forcement to spiritual insight. What instinct 
tells him spiritual insight confirms, however 
much the mind may be aware of littlenesses, 
limitations, and enclosing walls that prevent 
the spirit from shining forth 1 . His spirit divines 
in all men what his instinct shows him in the 
object of his love. 

The love of parents for children has need 
of the same transformation. The purely in- 
stinctive love, unchecked by thought, unin- 
formed by spirit, is exclusive, ruthless, and 
unjust. No benefit to others is felt, by the 
purely instinctive parent, to be worth an injury 
to one's own children. Honour and conven- 
tional morality place certain important practical 
limitations on the vicarious selfishness of 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

parents, since a civilized community exacts a 
certain minimum before it will give respect. 
But within the limits allowed by public opinion, 
parental affection, when it is merely instinctive, 
will seek the advantage of children without 
regard to others. Mind can weaken the im- 
pulse to injustice, and diminish the force of 
instinctive love, but it cannot keep the whole 
force of instinctive love and turn it to more 
universal ends. Spirit can do this. It can 
leave the instinctive love of children undimmed, 
and extend the poignant devotion of a parent, 
in imagination, to the whole world. And 
parental love itself will prompt the parent who 
has the life of the spirit to give to his children 
the sense of justice, the readiness for service, 
the reverence, the will that controls self-seek- 
ing, which he feels to be a greater good than 
any personal success. 

The life of the spirit has suffered in recent 
times by its association with traditional religion, 
by its apparent hostility to the life of the mind, 
and by the fact that it has seemed to centre in 
renunciation. The life of the spirit demands 
readiness for renunciation when the occasion 
arises, but is in its essence as positive and as 
capable of enriching individual existence as 
mind and instinct are. It brings with it the 
joy of vision, of the mystery and profundity 
of the world, of the contemplation of life, and 
above all the joy of universal love. It liberates 


Religion and the Churches 

those who have it from the prison-house of 
insistent personal passion and mundane cares. 
It gives freedom and breadth and beauty to 
men's thoughts and feelings, and to all their 
relations with others. It brings the solution 
of doubts, the end of the feeling that all is 
vanity. It restores harmony between mind and 
instinct, and leads the separated unit back into 
his place in the life of mankind. Eor those 
who have once entered the world of thought, 
it is only through spirit that happiness and 
peace can return. 



WHAT can we do for the world while we 

Many men and women would wish! to serve 
mankind, but they are perplexed; and their 
power seems infinitesimal. Despair seizes 
them ; those who have the strongest passion 
suffer most from' the sense of im'potence, and 
are most liable to spiritual ruin through lack 
of hope. 

So long as we think only of the immediate 
future, it seems that what we can do is not 
much. It is probably impossible for us to 
bring the war to an end. We cannot destroy 
the excessive power of the State or of private 
property. We cannot, here and now, bring new 
life into education. In such matters, though 
we may see the evil, we cannot quickly cure it 
by any of the ordinary methods of politics. 
We must recognize that the world is ruled in a 
wrong spirit, and that a change of spirit will 
not come from one day to the next. Our 
expectations must not be for to-morrow, but 
for the time when what is thought now by a 


few shall have become the common thought of 
many. If we have courage and patience, we 
can think the thoughts and feel the hopes by 
which, sooner or later, men will be inspired, 
and weariness and discouragement will be 
turned into energy and ardour. For this 
reason, the first thing we have to do is to be 
clear in our own minds as to the kind of life 
we think good and the kind of change that 
we desire in the world. 

The ultimate power of those whose thought 
is vital is far greater than it seems to men 
who suffer from the irrationality of con- 
temporary politics. Religious toleration was 
once the solitary speculation of a few bold 
philosophers. Democracy, as a theory, arose 
among a handful of men in Cromwell's army ; 
by them, after the Restoration, it was carried 
to America, where it came to fruition in 
the -War of Independence. From America, 
Lafayette and the other Frenchmen who fought 
by the side of Washington brought the theory 
of democracy to France, where it united itself 
with the teaching of Rousseau and inspired 
the Revolution. Socialism, whatever we may 
think of its merits, is a great anld growing 
power, which is transforming economic and 
political life ; and socialism owes its origin 
to a very small number of isolated theorists. 
The movement against the subjection of women, 
which has become irresistible and is not far 

225 p 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

from complete triumph, began in the same 
way with a few impracticable idealists Mary 
Wollstonecraft, Shelley, John Stuart Mill. The 
power of thought, in the long run, is greater 
than any other human power. Those who 
have the ability to think, and the imagination 
to think in accordance with men's needs, are 
likely to achieve the good they aim at sooner 
or later, though probably not while they are 
still alive. 

But those who wish to gain the world by 
thought must be content to lose it as a support 
in the present. Most men go through life 
without much questioning, accepting the beliefs 
and practices which they find current, feeling 
that the world will be their ally if they do 
not put themselves in opposition to it. New 
thought about the world is incompatible with 
this comfortable acquiescence ; it requires a 
certain intellectual detachment, a certain 
solitary energy, a power of inwardly dominat- 
ing the world and the outlook that the world 
engenders. Without some willingness to be 
lonely new thought cannot be achieved. And 
it will not be achieved to any purpose if the 
loneliness is accompanied by aloofness, so that 
the wish for union with others dies, or if in- 
tellectual detachment leads to contempt. It 
is because the state of mind required is subtle 
and difficult, because it is hard to be intel- 
lectually detached yet not aloof, that fruitful 


What We Can Do 

thought on human affairs is not common, and 
that most theorists are either conventional or 
sterile. The right kind of thought is rare and 
difficult, but it is not impotent. It is not the 
fear of impotence that need turn us aside from 
thought if we have the wish to bring new 
hope into the world. 

In seeking a political theory which is to 
be useful at any given moment, what is wanted 
is not the invention of a Utopia, but the dis- 
covery of the best direction of movement. 
The direction which is good at one time majy 
be superficially very different from that which 
is good at another time. Useful thought is 
that which indicates the right direction for the 
present time. But in judging what is the 
right direction there are two general principles 
which are always applicable. 

1 . The growth and vitality of individuals 
and 'Communities is to be .promoted as far as 
possible. i ! 

2 . The growth of one individual or one com- 
munity is to be as little as possible at the 
expense of another. 

The second of these principles, as applied 
by an individual in his dealings with others, 
is the principle of reverence, that the life of 
another has the same importance which we 
feel in our own life. As applied impersonally 
in politics, it is the principle of liberty, or 
rather it includes the principle of liberty as a 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

part. Liberty in itself is a negative principle ; 
it tells us not to interfere, but does not give 
any basis for construction. It shows that many 
political and social institutions are bad and 
ought to be swept away, but it does not show 
what ought to be put in their place. For this 
reason a further principle is required, if our 
political theory is not to be purely destructive. 

The combination of our two principles is not 
in practice an easy matter . Much of the vital 
energy of the world runs into channels which 
are oppressive. The Germans have shown 
themselves extraordinarily full of vital energy, 
but unfortunately in a form which seems 
incompatible with the vitality of their neigh- 
bours. Europe in general has more vital 
energy than Africa, but it has used its energy 
to drain Africa, through industrialism, of even 
such life as the negroes possessed. The 
vitality of south-eastern Europe is being 
drained to supply cheap labour for the enter- 
prise of American hiillionaires . The vitality 
of men has been 1 in the past a hindrance to 
the development of women, and it is possible 
that in the near future women may become 
a similar hindrance to men. For such reasons 
the principle of reverence, though not in itself 
sufficient, is of very great importance, and is 
able to indicate many of the political changes 
that the world 1 requires . 

In order that both principles may be capable 

What We Can Do 

of being satisfied, what is needed is a unifying 
or integration, first of our individual lives, then 
of the life of the community and of the world, 
without sacrifice of individuality. The life of 
an individual, the life of a community, and 
even the life of mankind, ought to be, not a 
number of separate fragments, but in some 
sense a whole. When this is the case, the 
growth of the individual is fostered, and is 
not incompatible with the growth of other 
individuals. In this way the two principles 
are brought into harmony 

What integrates an individual life is a 
consistent creative purpose or unconscious 
direction . Instinct alone will not suffice to give 
unity to the life of a civilized man or woman : 
there must be some dominant object, an 
ambition, a desire for scientific or artistic 
creation, a religious principle, or strong and 
lasting affections . Unity of life is very difficult 
for a man or woman who has suffered a certain 
kind of defeat, the kind by which what should 
have been the dominant impulse is checked 
and made abortive. Most professions inflict 
this kind of defeat upon a man at the very 
outset. If a man becomes a journalist, he 
probably has to write for a newspaper whose 
politics he dislikes ; this kills his pride in 
work and his sense of independence. Most 
medical men find it very hard to succeed 
without humbug, by which whatever scientific 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

conscience they may have had is destroyed. 
Politicians are obliged, not only to swallow 
the party programme, but to pretend to be 
saints, in order to conciliate religious sup- 
porters ; hardly any man can enter Parlia- 
ment without hypocrisy. In no profession 
is there any respect for the native pride 
without which a man cannot remain whole ; 
the world ruthlessly crushes it out, because 
it implies independence, and men desire to 
enslave others more than they desire to be 
free themselves. Inward freedom is infinitely 
precious, and a society which will preserve it 
is immeasurably to be' desired. 

The principle of growth in a man is not 
crushed necessarily by preventing him from 
doing some definite thing, but it is often 
crushed by persuading him' to do some- 
thing else. The things that crush growth 
are those that produce a sense of impo- 
tence in the directions in which the vital 
impulse wishes to be effective. The worst 
things are those to which the will assents. 
Often, chiefly from failure of self-knowledge, 
a man's will is on a lower level than 
his impulse : his impulse is towards some 
kind of creation, while his will is towards 
a conventional career, with a sufficient income 
and the respect of his contemporaries . The 
stereotyped illustration is the artist who pro- 
duces shoddy work to please the public. 


What We Can Do 

But something of the artist's definiteness 
of impulse exists in very many men who 
are not artists. Because the impulse is deep 
and dumb, because what is called common 
sense is often against it, because a young 
man can only follow it if he is willing to 
set up his own obscure feeling's against the 
wisdom and prudent maxims of elders and 
friends, it happens in ninety-nine cases out 
of a hundred that the creative impulse, out 
of which a free and vigorous life might have 
sprung, is checked and thwarted at the very 
outset : the young! man consents to become a 
tool, not an independent workman, a mere 
means to the fulfilment of others, not the 
artificer of what his own nature feels to 
be good. In the moment when he makes 
this act of consent something dies within 
him. He can never again become a whole 
man, never again have the undamaged self- 
respect, the upright pride, which might have 
kept him happy in his soul in spite of all 
outward troubles and difficulties except, 
indeed, through conversion and a fundamental 
change in his way of life. 

Outward prohibitions, to which the will 
gives no assent, are far less harmful than 
the subtler inducements which seduce the will. 
A serious disappointment in love may cause 
the most poignant pain, but to a vigorous 
man it will not do the same inward damage 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

as is done by marrying for money. The 
achievement of this or that special desire 
is not what is essential : what is essential 
is the direction, the kind of effectiveness 
which is sought. When the fundamental 
impulse is opposed by will, it is made to 
feel helpless : it has no longer enough hope 
to be powerful as a motive. Outward com- 
pulsion does not do the same damage unless 
it produces the same sense of impotence ; and 
it will not produce the same sense of impo- 
tence if the impulse is strong and courageous. 
Some thwarting of special desires is unavoid- 
able even in the best imaginable community, 
since some men's desires, unchecked, lead 
to the oppression or destruction of others. 
In a good community Napoleon could not 
have been allowed the profession of his choice, 
but he might have found happiness as a 
pioneer in Western America. He could not 
have found happiness as a City clerk, and 
no tolerable organization of society would 
compel him to become a City clerk. 

The integration of an individual life requires 
that it should embody whatever creative 
impulse a man may possess, and that his 
education should 1 have been such as to elicit 
and fortify this impulse. The integration of 
a community requires that the different creative 
impulses of different men and women should 
work together towards some common life, some 


What We Can Do 

common purpose, not necessarily conscious, 
in which all the members of the community 
find a help to their individual fulfilment. 
Most of the activities that spring from vital 
impulses consist of two parts : one creative, 
which furthers one's own life and that of 
others with the same kind of impulse or 
circumstances, and one possessive, which 
hinders the life of some group with a different 
kind of impulse or circumstances. For this 
reason, much of what is in itself most vital 
may nevertheless work against life, as, for 
example, seventeenth -century Puritanism did in 
England, or as nationalism does throughout 
Europe at the present day. Vitality easily 
leads to strife or oppression, and so to 
loss of vitality. War, at its outset, inte- 
grates the life of a nation, but it disintegrates 
the life of the world, and in the long run the 
life of a nation too, when it is as severe as 
the present war. 

The 'War has made it clear that it is 
impossible to produce a secure integration of 
the life of a single community while the 
relations between civilized countries are 
governed by aggressiveness and suspicion. 
For this reason any really powerful movement 
of reform will have to be international. A 
merely national movement is sure to fail 
through fear of danger from without. Those 
who desire a better world, or even a radical 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

improvement in their own country, will have 
to co -operate with those who have similar 
desires in other countries,, and to devote 
much of their energy to overcoming that 
blind hostility which the war has intensified. 
It is not in partial integrations, such as 
patriotism alone can produce, that any ultimate 
hope is to be found. The problem is, in 
national and international questions as in 
the individual life, to keep what is creative 
in vital impulses, and: at the same time to 
turn into other channels the part which is 
at present destructive. 

Men's impulses and desires may be divided 
into those that are creative and those that 
are possessive. Some of our activities are 
directed to creating, what would not otherwise 
exist, others are directed towards acquiring 
or retaining what exists already. The typical 
creative impulse is that of the artist ; the 
typical possessive impulse is that of property. 
The best life is that in which creative impulses 
play the largest part and possessive impulses 
the smallest. The best institutions are those 
which produce the ^greatest possible creative- 
ness and 1 the least possessiveness compatible 
with self-preservation. Possessiveness may be 
defensive or aggressive : in the criminal law 
it is defensive, and in criminals it is aggressive. 
It may perhaps be admitted that the criminal 
law is less abominable than the criminal, and 


What We Can Do 

that defensive possessiveness is unavoidable so 
long as aggressive possessiveness exists. But 
not even the most purely defensive forms of 
possessiveness are in themselves admirable ; 
indeed, as soon as they are strong they become 
hostile to the creative imipulses. "Take no 
thought, saying, What shall we eat? or What 
shall we drink, or Wherewithal shall we be 
clothed ? " Whoever has known a strong 
creative impulse has known the value of this 
precept in its exact and literal sense : it is 
preoccupation with possessions, more than 
anything else, that prevents men from living 
freely and nobly. The State and Property are 
the great embodiments of possessiveness ; it 
is for this reason that they are against life, and 
that they issue in war. Possession means 
taking or keeping some good thing which 
another is prevented from enjoying ; creation 
means putting into the world a good thing 
which otherwise no one would be able to enjoy. 
Since the material goods of the world must be 
divided among the population, and since some 
men are by nature brigands, there must be 
defensive possession, which will be regulated, 
in a good community, by some principle 
of impersonal injustice. But all this is only 
the preface to a good life or good political 
institutions, in which creation will altogether 
outweigh possession, and distributive justice 
will exist as an uninteresting matter of course. 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

The supreme principle, both in politics and 
in private life, should be to promote all that 
is creative, and so to diminish the impulses 
and desires that centre round possession. The 
State at present is very largely an embodiment 
of possessive impulses : internally, it protects 
the rich against the poor ; externally, it uses 
force for the exploitation of inferior races, and 
for competition with other States. Our whole 
economic system is concerned exclusively with 
possession ; yet the production of goods is a 
form of creation, and except in so far as it 
is irredeemably mechanical and monotonous, 
it might afford a vehicle for creative impulses. 
A great deal might be achieved towards this 
end by forming the producers of a certain 
kind of commodity into an autonomous democ- 
racy, subject to State control as regards the 
price of their commodity but not as to the 
manner of its production. 

Education, marriage, and religion are essen- 
tially creative, yet all three have been vitiated 
by the intrusion of possessive motives. Edu- 
cation is usually treated as a means of pro- 
longing the status quo by instilling prejudices, 
rather than of creating free thought and a 
noble outlook by the example of generous 
feeling and the stimulus of mental adventure. 
In marriage, love, which is creative, is kept 
in chains by jealousy, which is possessive. 
Religion, which should set free the creative 


What We Can Do 

vision of the spirit, is usually more concerned 
to repress the life of instinct and to combat 
the subversiveness of thought. In all these 
ways the fear that grows out of precarious 
possession has replaced the hope inspired by 
creative force. The wish to plunder others is 
recognized, in theory, to be bad ; but the fear 
of being plundered is little better. Yet these 
two motives between them dominate nine- 
tenths of politics and private life. 

The creative impulses in different men are 
essentially harmonious, since what one man 
creates cannot be a hindrance to what another 
is wishing to create. It is the possessive im- 
pulses that involve conflict. Although, morally 
and politically, the creative and possessive im- 
pulses are opposites, yet psychologically either 
passes easily into the other, according to the 
accidents of circumstance and opportunity. 
The genesis of impulses and the causes which 
make them change ought to be studied ; edu- 
cation and social institutions ought to be made 
such as to strengthen the impulses which har- 
monize in different men, and to weaken those 
that involve conflict. I have no doubt that 
what might be accomplished in this way is 
almost unlimited. 

It is rather through impulse than through 
will that individual lives and the life of the 
community can derive the strength and unity 
of a single direction. Will is of two kinds, 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

of which one is directed outward and the other 
inward. The first, which is directed outward, 
is called into play by external obstacles, either 
the opposition of others or the technical diffi- 
culties of an undertaking. This kind of will 
is an expression of strong impulse or desire, 
whenever instant success is impossible ; it 
exists in all whose life is vigorous, and only 
decays when their vital force is enfeebled. It 
is necessary to success in any difficult enter- 
prise, and without it great achievement is very 
rare. But the will which is directed inward 
is only necessary in so far as there is an inner 
conflict of impulses or desires ; a perfectly 
harmonious nature would have no occasion for 
inward will. Such perfect harmony is of 
course a scarcely realizable ideal : in all men 
impulses arise which are incompatible with 
their central purpose, and which must be 
checked if their life as a whole is not to be 
a failure. But this will happen least with 
those whose central impulses are strongest ; 
and it will happen less often in a society which 
aims at freedom than in a society like ours, 
which is full of artificial incompatibilities 
created by antiquated institutions and a tyran- 
nous public opinion. The power to exert in- 
ward will when the occasion arises must always 
be needed by those who wish their lives to 
embody some central purpose, but with better 
institutions the occasions when inward will is 


What We Can Do 

necessary might be made fewer and less im- 
portant . This result is very much to be desired, 
because when will checks impulses which are 
only accidentally harmful, it diverts a force 
which might be spent on overcoming outward 
obstacles, and if the impulses checked are 
strong and serious, it actually diminishes the 
vital force available. A life full of inhibitions 
is likely not to remain a very vigorous life, but 
to become listless and without zest. Impulse 
tends to die when it is constantly held in check ; 
and if it does not die, it is apt to work under- 
ground, and issue in some form 1 much worse 
than that in which it has been checked. For 
these reasons the necessity for using inward 
will ought to be avoided as much as possible, 
and consistency of action ought to spring rather 
from consistency of impulse than from control 
of impulse by will. 

The unifying of life ought not to demand the 
suppression of the casual desires that make 
amusement and play ; on the contrary, every- 
thing ought to be done to make it easy to 
combine the main purposes of life with all 
kinds of pleasure that are not in their nature 
harmful. Such things as habitual drunken- 
ness, drugs, cruel sports, or pleasure in inflict- 
ing pain are essentially harmful, but most of 
the amusements that civilized men naturally 
enjoy are either not harmful at all or only 
accidentally harmful through some effect which 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

might be avoided in a better society. What 
is needed is, not asceticism or a drab 
Puritanism, but capacity for strong impulses 
and desires directed towards large creative 
ends. When such impulses and desires are 
vigorous, they bring with them, of themselves, 
what is needed to make a good life. 

But although amusement and adventure 
ought to have their share, it is impossible to 
create a good life if they are what is mainly 
desired. Subjectivism, the habit of directing 
thought and desire to our own states of mind 
rather than to something objective, inevitably 
makes life fragmentary and unprogressive . 
-The man to whom amusement is the end of 
life tends to lose interest gradually in the things 
out of which he has been in the habit of obtain- 
ing amusement, since he does not value these 
things on their own account, but on account 
of the feelings which they arouse in him. 
When they are no longer amusing, boredom 
drives him to seek some new stimulus, which 
fails him in its turn. Amusement consists in 
a series of moments without any essential 
continuity ; a purpose which unifies life is one 
which requires some prolonged activity, and 
is like building a monument rather than a 
child's castle in the sand. 

Subjectivism has other forms beside the 
mere pursuit of amusement. Many men, when 
they are in love, are more interested in their 


What We Can Do 

own emotion than in the object of their love ; 
such love does not lead to any essential union, 
but leaves fundamental separateness un- 
diminished. As soon as the emotion grows less 
vivid the experience has served its purpose, 
and there seems no motive for prolonging it. 
In another way, the same evil of subjectivism 1 
was fostered by Protestant religion and 
morality, since they directed attention to sin 
and the state of the soul rather than to the 
outer world and our relations with it. None of 
these forms of subjectivism 1 can prevent a 
man's life from being fragmentary and isolated. 
Only a life which springs out of dominant 1 
impulses directed to objective ends can be a 
satisfactory whole, or be intimately united with 
the lives of others. 

The pursuit of pleasure and the pursuit of 
virtue alike suffer from subjectivism : Epi- 
cureanism and Stoicism are infected with the 
same taint. Marcus Aurelius, enacting good 
laws in order that he might be virtuous, is 
not an attractive figure. Subjectivism is a 
natural outcome of a life in which there is 
much more thought than a.ction : while outer 
things are being remembered or desired, not 
actually experienced, they seem to become 
mere ideas. What they are in themselves 
becomes less interesting to us than the effects 
which they produce in our own minds. Such 
a result tends to be brought about by increas- 

241 Q 

Principles of Social Reconstruction 

ing civilization, because increasing civilization 
continually diminishes the need for vivid action 
and enhances the opportunities for thought. 
But thought will not have this bad result if 
it is active thought, directed towards achieving 
some purpose ; it is only passive thought that 
leads to subjectivism. What is needed is to 
keep thought in intimate union with impulses 
and desires, making it always itself an activity 
with an objective purpose. Otherwise, thought 
and impulse become enemies, to the great 
detriment of both. 

In order to make the lives of ayerage men 
and women less fragmentary and separate, and 
to give greater opportunity for carrying out 
creative impulses, it is not enough to know the 
goal we wish to reaich, or to proclaim the 
excellence of what we desire to achieve. It 
is necessary to understand the effect of in- 
stitutions and beliefs upon the life of impulse, 
and to discover ways of improving this effect 
by a change in institutions. And when this 
intellectual work hap been done, our thought 
will still remain barren unless we can bring 
it into relation with some powerful political 
force. The only powerful political force from 
which any help is to be expected in bringing 
about such changes as seem needed is Labour. 
The changes required are very largely such as 
Labour may be expected to welcome, especially 
during the time of hardship after the war. 


What We Can Do 

When the war is over, labour discontent is sure 
to be very prevalent throughout Europe, and to 
constitute a political force by means of which 
a great and sweeping reconstruction may be 
effected . 

The civilized world has need of fundamental 
change if it is to be saved from decay change 
both in its economic structure and in its phil- 
osophy of life. Those of us who feel the need 
of change must not sit still in dull despair : 
we can, if we choose, profoundly influence the 
future. -We can discover and preach the kind 
of change that is required the kind that pre- 
serves what is positive in the vital beliefs of 
our time, and, by eliminating what is negative 
and inessential, produces a synthesis to which 
all that is not purely reactionary can give alle- 
giance. As soon as it has become clear what 
kind of change is required, it will be possible 
to work out its parts in more detail. But until 
the war is ended there is little use in detail, 
since we do not know what kind of world the 
war will leave. The only thing that seems 
indubitable is that much new thought will be 
required in the new world produced by the 
war. Traditional views will give little help. 
It is clear that men's most important actions 
are not guided by the sort of motives that are 
emphasized in traditional political philosophies . 
The impulses by which the war has been pro- 
duced and sustained come out of a deeper 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

region than that of most political argument. 
And the opposition to the war, on the part of 
those few who have opposed it, comes from the 
same deep region. A political theory, if it is to 
hold in times of stress, must take account of 
the impulses that underlie explicit thought : 
it must appeal to them', and it must discover 
how to make them fruitful rather than 
destructive . 

Economic systems have a great influence in 
promoting or destroying life. Except slavery, 
the present industrial system is the most 
destructive of life that has ever existed. 
Machinery and large-scale production are in- 
eradicable, and must survive in any better 
system which is to replace the one under 
which we live. Industrial federal democracy 
is probably the best direction for reform to 
take . 

Philosophies of life, when they are widely 
believed, also have a very great influence on 
the vitality of a community. The most widely 
accepted philosophy of life at present is that 
what matters most to a man's happiness is 
his income. This philosophy, apart from other 
demerits, is harmful because it leads men to 
aim at a result rather than an activity, an 
enjoyment of material goods in which men are 
not differentiated, rather than a creative im- 
pulse which embodies each man's individuality. 
More refined philosophies, such as are instilled 


What We Can Do 

by higher education, are too apt to fix attention 
on the past rather than the future, and on 
correct behaviour rather than effective action. 
It is (not in such philosophies that men will 
find the energy to bear lightly the weight of 
tradition and of ever -accumulating knowledge. 
The world has need of a philosophy, or a 
religion, which will promote life. But in order 
to promote life it is necessary to value some- 
thing other than mere life. Life devoted only 
to life is animal, without any real human value, 
incapable of preserving men permanently from 
weariness and the feeling that all is vanity. If 
life is to be fully human it must serve some 
end which seems, in some sense, outside human 
life, some end which is impersonal and above 
mankind, such as God or truth or beauty. 
Those who best promote life do not have life 
for their purpose. They aim rather at what 
seems like a gradual incarnation, a bringing 
into our human existence of something eternal, 
something that appears to imagination to live 
in a heaven remote from 1 strife and failure and 
the devouring jaws of Time. Contact with 
this eternal world even if it be only a world 
of our imagining brings a strength and a 
fundamental peace which cannot be wholly 
destroyed by the struggles and apparent 
failures of our temporal life. It is this happy 
contemplation of what is eternal that Spinoza 
calls the intellectual love of God. To those 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

who have once known it, it is the key of 
wisdom . 

What we have to do practically is different 
for each one of us, according to our capacities 
and opportunities. But if we have the life of 
the spirit within us, what we must do and 
what we must avoid will become apparent 
to us. 

By contact with what is eternal, by devoting 
our life to bringing something of the Divine 
into this troubled world, we can make our own 
lives creative even now, even in the midst of 
the cruelty and strife and hatred that surround 
us on every hand. To make the individual 
life creative is far harder in a community based 
on possession than it would be in such a com- 
munity as human effort may be able to build 
up in the future. Those who are to begin the 
regeneration of the world must face loneliness, 
opposition, poverty, obloquy. They must be 
able to live by truth and love, with a rational 
unconquerable hope ; they must be honest and 
wise, fearless, and guided by a consistent pur- 
pose. A body of men and women so inspired 
will conquer first the difficulties and per- 
plexities of their individual lives, then, in time, 
though perhaps only in a long time, the outer 
world. Wisdom and hope are what the world 
needs ; and though it fights against them, it 
gives its respect to them in the end. 

When the Goths sacked Rome, St. Augustine 

wrote the " City of God," putting a spiritual 
hope in place of the material reality that 
had been destroyed. Throughout the centuries 
that followed St. Augustine's hope lived and 
gave life, while Rome sank to a village of 
hovels. For us too it is necessary to create 
a new hope, to build up by our thought a 
better world than the one which is hurling 
itself into ruin. Because the times are bad, 
more is required of us than would be required 
in normal times. Only a supreme fire of 
thought and spirit can save future generations 
from the death that has befallen the genera- 
tion which we knew and loved. 

It has been my good fortune to come in 
contact as a teacher with young men of many 
different nations young men in whom hope 
was alive, in whom the creative energy existed 
that would have realized in the world some 
part at least of the imagined beauty by which 
they lived. They have been swept into the 
war, some on one side, some on the other. 
Some are still fighting, some are maimed for 
life, some are dead ; of those who survive it 
is to be feared that many will have lost the 
life of the spirit, that hope will have died, that 
energy will be spent, and that the years to come 
will be only a weary journey towards the grave . 
Of all this tragedy, not a few of those who 
teach seem to have no feeling : with ruthless 
logic, they prove that these young men have 


Principles of Social Reconstruction 

been sacrificed unavoidably for some coldly 
abstract end ; undisturbed themselves, they 
lapse quickly into comfort after any momentary 
assault of feeling. In such men the life of 
the spirit is dead. If it were living, it would 
go out to meet the spirit in the young, with 
a love as poignant as the love of father or 
mother. It would be unaware of the bounds 
of self ; their tragedy would be its own. Some- 
thing would cry out : '* No, this is not right ; 
this is not good, this is not a holy cause, in 
which the brightness of youth is destroyed and 
dimmed. It is we, the old, who have sinned; 
we have sent these young men to the battle- 
field for our evil passions, our spiritual death, 
our failure to live generously out of the warmth 
of the heart and out of the living vision of 
the spirit. Let us come out of this death, for 
it is we who are dead, not the young men who 
have died through our fear of life. Their very 
ghosts have more life than we : they hold us 
up for ever to the shame and obloquy of all 
the ages to come. Out of their ghosts must 
come life, and it is we whom they must 



Africa, 228 ; England in South, 
52 . ; Germany in South- 
West, 52 n. 

America and the Philippines, 
52 n. ; love of money in, 113 

American War of Indepen- 
dence, 225 

Amusement, 240 

Aquinas, Thomas, 199 

Armaments, 55 

Army, 45 

Athens, 95 

Augustine, St., 246 

Aurelius, Marcus, 241 

Australia, 58 ff. ; and Japan, 104 

Austria and Serbia, dispute be- 
tween, 104 

Authority, 27, 33 ff., 187 ff. 

Bernhardi, 19 

Biological groups, 34 

Birth-rate, 177 

Blasphemy prosecutions, 47 n. 

Booth's " Life and Labour of 

the People," 123 n. 
Butler, Sir W., and the South 

African War," 91 

Capitalism, 120, 136 ff. 
Christ, teaching of, 47 

Christianity, 58, 202 
Clerical profession, 200 
Comite du Salut Public, 55 
Confederation Generate du 

Travail, 54 

Conscientious objectors, 47 n. 
Co-operative movement, 139 
Cosmopolitanism, 58 
Cromwell's army and democ- 
racy, 225 

Dante, 199 

Discipline in education, I56ff. 

Divorce, 169; and war, 170 n. 

Education, 133 ff., 143 ff., 236 ; 

elementary, 159 ; higher, 160 
Egypt, 103 

Elizabethan England, 135 
England /and South Africa, 

52 n. ; and America, 106 ; 

love of money in, 1 13 ff . 
Epicureanism, 241 
Eton, 152 

European community, a, 53 
Examination system, 162 

Feudal System, 52 
Force, use of, 46 



France and England in the 
fifteenth century, 32 ; and 
Morocco, 52 n. ; worship of 
money in, 1 16 

Francis, St., 198 

Frederick the Great, 35 

Free Trade, 117 

Freedom of thought, 73 ; of 
speech, 73 

German culture in the eight- 
eenth century, 32 

German nationalism, 32 

German policy, 80 

Germany and science, 95 ; and 
South- West Africa, 52 n. ; 
invasion of, 32 ; worship of 
money in, 117 

Gissing, in 

" Good Form," evils of, 153 

Hart's " Psychology of In- 
sanity," 15 n. 
Hegemony, 100 ff. 
History, teaching of, 149 

Impulse and desire, 12 ff., 234 
Impulse by will, control of, 18 
Impulse towards war, 93 
Industrialism, 42 
Influence of the Press, 49 
Inheritance, 127 
Interest, 123*?. 
International Council, an, 92 
International law, 46 
Ireland, 61 ; English oppres- 
sion of, 31, 105 
Irish, 21 
Italy, 32 ; in Tripoli, 52 n. 

James, William, 95 
Japan and Manchuria, 52 n. 
Jephthah, 109 
Jews, 21 

Justice, 28, 145 ; the claims of, 

Kimberley diamond-mines, 126 

Labour, 131, 242 

Lafayette, 225 

Law for force, substitution of, 


Leibniz, 32 

Liberalism, traditional, 9 
Liberty, 28, 145 ; principle of, 

Limitation of families, 175 ; 

motives for, 115 
Liszt, 117 
Llewelyn Smith, Sir H., on 

London, 123 
Lloyd George, Mr., and the 

Insurance Act, 73 
Local government, 72 
Luther, 29 

Macbeth, 14 

Magyars, 31 

Malthus, 183 

Manchuria, 52 n. 

Marriage, 37, 236 ; and the 

population question, 168 ff. 
Middle Ages, institutions in 

the, 27 

Militarism in Australia, 59 
Military Service Act (No. 2), 

30 n. 
Military service, universal, 48 



Mill, J. S., 226 
Millennium, 130 
Mind, 206 

Mohammedans, 19, 20 
Money, desire for, 96, in ff. 
Montessori system, 143, 157 . 
Morocco, France in, 52 w. 

Napoleon, 32, 232 
Nationalism, 30 ff . 
Nations, 53 
Navy, 45 

Norway and Sweden, separa- 
tion of, 6 1 

Obedience in education, 156 
Old Testament, 108 
Oxford, 152 

Pacifists, 21 ff., 97 

Parliament of the nations, a, 

Patriotism, 55 ff., 217 ; teach- 
ing of, 151 n. 

Persia, 104 ; Russia in, 52 n. 

Philip II, 100 

Poland, 6 1 

Poles, 21 

Political institutions, 38 

Possession, 235 

Post Office, 45 

Private property, 44, 53, 125 

Production, belief in the im- 
portance of, 121 ff. 

Protestant religion, 241 

Prussian Poland, oppression 
of, 105 

Public opinion, 49 

Rand gold-miners, 126 

Religion, 204, 236; and the 
Churches, 197 ff. 

Religious instruction, 149 ff . 

Rent, 126 

Reverence, 146, 227 

Roman Empire, 61, 65, 94, 99, 

Rousseau, 225 

Russia in Persia and Man- 
churia, 52 n. 

Ruthenes, 31 

Scientific research, State en- 
couragement of, 69 

Shelley, 226 

Social and political conflicts, 
desirability of, 97 

Socialism, 44, 53, 58, 119, 123, 
129, 225 

Society of Friends, 201 

South American Republics, 103 

Spain and the Moors, 32 

Sparta and Athens, 155 

Spinoza, 245 

Spirit, 207 

State, civil and military, 102 ; 
power of the, 49 

State socialism, 137 

Stoicism, 241 

Subjectivism, 240 ff . 

Swift's Houyhnhnms, 93 

Syndicalism, 37, 44, 139 

Syndicalist prosecutions, 47 . 

Syndicalists, French, 64 

Tolstoy, 176, 203 
Trade unions, 74 
Tribal feeling, 52 ff . 



Triple Entente, 106 
Tripoli, Italy in, 52 n. 

United States, 61 
Utopias, 93 ff. 

War as an institution, 77 ff. ; 
efficiency in, 59 ; two views 
of the, 10 

War fever, 90 ff . 
Wealth, love of, 96 
Webb, Mr. Sidney, 177 n. 
Welsh miners, 73 
" White feather " women, 50 n. 
Whitman, Walt, 35 ff. 
Wollstonecraft, Mary, 226 
World-federation, a, 101 
World-State, a, 107 

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