Arthur John Hubbard.

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INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIETY 39

method of Reason the method that judges by
interest. When tested by the standard of interest,
a non-competitive form of society satisfies every
requirement. It is only when, in a later chapter,
we come to measure it by another standard a
standard of which interest knows nothing that
we shall find our horror is justified.

As we might expect under these circumstances,
when we examine the arguments put forward by
those who, professedly on the ground of interest,
are the opponents of the demand for the elimina-
tion of competition, we find that they are rather
the expression of this sentiment of aversion than a
logical demonstration of any irrational quality in
that demand.

Thus it has been urged by many that the de-
fects of existing human nature are such as, in the
absence of competition, would create evils far
greater and less remediable than those of which
all men disapprove in the existing arrangements
of the world. Of such evils, slavery is instanced.
The defects of existing human nature, it is said,
are such that, in the absence of the stimulus of
competition, the necessary work of Society could
only be carried on by the rule of a disciplined army
of civil officials. Before them, the wishes of any
Individual would be as nought in comparison with
the claims of Society, and the final result would be
a revival of despotism in the form of bureaucracy.

This is undisputable. But, in the first place,
we must point out that the incubus of a defective
human nature is a constant element in any form
of Society. If we compare any competitive form



40 THE FATE OF EMPIRES

with any non-competitive form, it is a weight
that is present in both scales of the balance. In
the second place, it will be seen that by the pro-
posed co-ordination of the work that is necessary
to carry on Society, an economy of effort would
be secured ; and that Reason would be pursuing
its old course. In other words, the slavery in-
volved would be less than the aggregate of servi-
tude that is inevitable if the despot is competition
itself the servitude that is inherent in the very
idea of competition among a multitude of indi-
viduals. Friction leads to an inevitable waste of
energy in the working of any machine, but the
loss is greater in proportion to the number of
bearings through which it is distributed. Thus,
from a purely interested point of view, it is better
to serve a despotic bureaucracy, than to live in
competition with all the members of surrounding
Society.

That all objections, such as this concerning
slavery, are brought forward in good faith is un-
questionable. But it is also unquestionable that
the aversion felt is stronger than the arguments
that seek to justify it. The revulsion of feeling
arises, in fact, from a negation that is deeper and
wider than any argument based upon interest
a negation whose real character is generally un-
recognised in the minds of the writers.

Another class of objectors urges that, even
though a non-competitive society were successful
in reducing its internal friction to a minimum,
still it would be only the material welfare and
aesthetic enjoyment of its members that would



INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIETY 41

be secured, and that, not indeed an organic change,
but a profound degeneration of individual char-
acter would be the result. It is urged that, as
Herbert Spencer says,^ " The welfare of a society
and the justice of its arrangements are at bottom
dependent on the character of its members."

This again is indisputable. But, considered in
a strictly rational manner, it will be seen that it
is begging the question. The character of the
members of a non- competitive community, how-
ever degenerate and contemptible, in the absence
of the stimulus of competition, it might become
from our point of view, would be exactly the
character necessary for the welfare and smooth
working of such a society. All that it requires
is a purely rational character, looking only and
strictly to material welfare and aesthetic enjoy-
ment. Anything beyond would create friction
in such a society, until, in the presence of its
despotism, it had undergone the atrophy of
disuse. The unselfish and self-reliant qualities,
alike essential to any form of competitive society,
would not only cease to be essential, they would
be detrimental, and a " degenerate " character
would be the essential. Degeneration of charac-
ter as we esteem it yes, hopeless degeneration as
we esteem it. Considered, however, in its strictly
rational aspect, such a degeneration of character
is not to be regarded as an objection.

Yet when we speak of such " degeneration "
we are again brought back to the revulsion of
feeling to which we have already referred. It is

^ The Man versus the State, p. 39. Watts & Co., London, 1909.



42 THE FATE OF EMPIRES

a sentiment from which we cannot escape. To
admit that it is irrational is not to remove it.
Indeed, the more nakedly the rational character of
a non-competitive society is exposed, the more
intense is the revulsion that it inspires.

This attitude of dissent, being supra-rational
in quality, cannot be removed by purely rational
considerations. It is dictated and enforced by a
power superimposed over that of pure Reason.
The nature and indispensability of this power,
superior to that of pure Reason, will be discussed
later: its intervention is not admissible while we
are discussing the method of Reason. For the
present it is enough to have shown that the
denials of the advantage of a liberation from
competition are in truth based upon this, and
that therefore, in pure Reason, they are not to
the point. Nowhere do they traverse the obvious
fact that, carrying the work of Reason to its
logical conclusion, an entire relief from the in-
cubus of competition would be to the interest
of every individual. The considerations of pure
Reason, that is to say, lead us to the conclusion
that the elimination of competition, if possible,
would serve alike the interest of the Individual
and of Society.

Seeing, then, that it is genuinely to the interest
of the Individual to abolish competition, we ask at
once : " Is it in his power to do so ? Is it pos-
sible?"

You cannot get rid of competition except by
getting rid of that for the sake of which competi-
tion is carried on. Individual ownership of the



INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIETY 43

things that seem to make life worth living is
evidently the stumbling-block in the way of the
realisation of this object. The runners compete
for a prize. To put an end to the stress of the
race, to reduce it to a walk-over that shall be a
strain upon none, the prize must not go to any
one of them. It must be the acquisition of all,
and owned equally.

The economic system which proposes that col-
lective ownership should be substituted for private
property is known at the present moment by the
name of " Socialism," and the ordinary phrase by
which it is defined is " the common ownership of
all the means of production, distribution, and ex-
change." It is also spoken of as " nationalisation "
of all property.

Under such a system one, that is, excluding
private possession and recognising only common
ownership it is evident that the reward of all labour
would be for use in common, and that it would
profit the individual labourer only indirectly, and
by advancing the community of which he was a
member. All work of head or hand would but
contribute to the common good, and serve to
maintain or raise the general standard of living.
Competition would have become objectless.

It has been urged that it is not within the
power of Reason to bring about such a change
in our environment. It is pointed out that,
according to a condition that has been in force
from the beginning of life onwards, life itself has
been held only as the reward of success in com-
petition ; that there are but few exceptions to this



44 THE FATE OF EMPIRES

condition in the tenure of life, and that we owe
all advance to its operation. Furthermore, the
system of individual ownership of property, whether
instinctive or rational, is antecedent to any form
of human organisation. Thus, in Iceland, the
many small lakes surrounding the large sheet of
water known as Arnevatn are each occupied by
one pair of swans {Cyg7ius 7fmsicus), who are
always ready to fight ferociously with an intruder
from one of the other lakes. Arnevatn itself is
mapped out by invisible boundaries into areas that
are each occupied by a single pair of swans, and
trespass is invariably treated as a casus belli. Such
examples of individual ownership antedating any
form of human organisation might easily be multi-
plied. This passion for individual ownership is to
be ascribed immediately to competitive conditions
of life ; so immediate is the connection that we can
scarcely disentangle the two. When the wild
swans fight, we should call it an example of com-
petition for life or for the means of life. Prob-
ably the swans would call it a defence of the rights
of property. Which would be correct? Both,
for the two things go together. Under these
circumstances it is urged that the impulse to com-
petition and the tendency to individual ownership
are among the most ancient and primitive instincts ;
that they are so far innate and ingrained that any
form of human society, if it is to be successful, can
be but the expression of them and secondary to
them; and that all human social systems must
ultimately stand or fall according to the measure
of their harmony with these, their antecedents.



INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIETY 45

That there is great practical weight in this
objection is not to be denied. But we must point
out that the present pages are not devoted to the
consideration of what is practical, but to the dis-
covery of tendencies to the discovery of the under-
lying forces that go to the formation of the practical
resultant that we see, and to the recognition of
their character as making for growth or decay.

Thus considered, we find that the above argu-
ment ignores the progressively increasing ascend-
ancy of Reason, and its advancing efficiency in
the prevention of waste of effort. In competition
and private ownership we still retain much of the
wastefulness of the primitive method of the in-
stinctive world. Why are we to expect that so
wasteful a method should be exempt from the
inferential power of Reason ? It must be remem-
bered that we are travelling along a road, and not
standing still. Such an appeal to Instinct is an
appeal to the slave against his master, and, when
the prepotent factor is no longer Instinct, but
Reason, then all human social systems must ulti-
mately come into being according to their success
in the avoidance of waste, and the saving of internal
friction that they achieve. If the impulse to
competition and the tendency to individual owner-
ship cannot justify themselves rationally, they
cannot withstand this movement. Their wasteful-
ness of effort precludes them from doing so.

When we look at the position still more closely
we realise that common ownership would not only
bring the competition between the Individual and
Society to an end, but that the interest of the



46 THE FATE OF EMPIRES

Individual would be actually merged in and identi-
fied with that of Society. For if all things were
owned in common, it is evident that a general
equality would result, and continue so long as the
system lasted. Under these circumstances a man
could only find his private advantage in the im-
provement of the common good, and by sharing in
the general rise in the standard of living that he
has helped to bring about. And it would equally
be to the interest of all other members of such
a Society to seek their own purely selfish ends in
the same manner by seeking, that is, to raise the
general standard of living in order that they might
share therein. Thus the interests of the separate
members of a non-competitive social machine could
not rationally be diverse from one another : the
amount of the friction of life would be reduced to
an inevitable minimum. In proportion as the
system were non-competitive so would be its
efficiency in saving the waste of effort.

But we have seen that through ages of evolu-
tion it has been the office of Reason to prevent
such waste : that it is in virtue of the energy thus
set free that the rational world has secured its pre-
eminence. Here, then, in the absolute identifi-
cation of the interest of the Individual with that
of Society, we recognise the maximum develop-
ment and the highest expression of Reason.

The conclusion reached is, then, that pure
Reason not only seeks the cessation of the stress
involved in competition, but that it the predomi-
nant partner in the association with Instinct is
competent to secure this end by the substitution



INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIETY 47

of common ownership for the existing system of
private property. Furthermore, we conclude that
this change would not only terminate the conflict
between the Individual and Society, but would
secure the absolute identification of their interests
by a " social contract " that is as naturally and
inevitably the outcome of the working of pure
Reason as an instinctive action is the outcome
of inborn impulse.



CHAPTER V

REASON IN RELATION TO REPRODUCTION: THE
INTEREST OF THE INDIVIDUAL IN RELATION
TO THE RACE.

When the reader recalls what has already been
put forward in these pages, he will readily see that
racial advantage does not now concern us, because
at present we are limited to the consideration of
the matter strictly from the point of view of a
purely rational individual. Purely rational con-
duct will be dictated solely by the prepotent
interest of the Individual, and any result that may
accrue to the Race will be merely incidental.

Thus, in the matter of reproduction, we can
neither hark back to the Instincts that concern
themselves about the Race, nor go forward to the
consideration of any course of action founded upon
a disinterested basis, and involving the subjection
of the Individual to the interest of the Race. To
do so would create a confusion of thought. It
would be either infra-rational, that is, instinctive ;
or else it would be supra-rational.

In either case it would be extraneous at the
present stage of our inquiry.

Therefore, just as when we were dealing with
Reason in relation to the competitive or social
stress, we asked, firstly: "Is it to the interest

48



INDIVIDUAL AND RACE 49

of the Individual to abolish competition ? " and
secondly : '' Is it in his power to do so ? " So now
we ask, firstly : " Is it to the interest of the
Individual to decline the provision of future gene-
rations ? " and secondly : "Is it in his power to
do so?"

Before we can answer the first of these ques-
tions we must deal with the possible objection that
the question itself is unfair. It may be urged that
the desire for offspring is so primitive and innate
an instinct that it ought not to be excluded from
consideration, that rational conduct is controlled
by it, and that the Race will always be continued
under its influence. This reliance on Instinct is,
however, a racial parallel to the social dependence
on it that was examined on page 45. Then we
discussed the contention that a socialist form of
Society was impossible because the tendency to
individual ownership was so primitive and powerful
an instinct that it would prevail even though irra-
tional. Now we are discussing the contention that
the desire for offspring is so powerful and primitive
an instinct that it can defy the power of Reason.

In each case the answer is the same. Instinct
subjects the Individual to a system of social com-
petition and racial servitude. Reason frees him
from both. Instinct and Reason pull in opposite
directions, and their spontaneous co-operation is
impossible. And Instinct wanes while Reason
waxes. Ever more and more Instinct is held in
the leash of Reason, and, in any rational society, a
time inevitably comes when the relative increase
in the power of Reason leads to the synchronous



50 THE FATE OF EMPIRES

appearance of socialistic phenomena and a failure
of the birthrate ; a simultaneous yielding to the
social stress and the racial stress to which reference
will be made later on (page 61).

The Race may be regarded as an organism
possessed, practically, of an indefinitely prolonged
existence. The Individual, on the contrary, has
but a brief span of life. The duration of his life,
as compared with that of the existence of the
Race, is almost negligible. The Race has been
said to live in an "ever-moving present." The
Individual lives in the presence of an ever-approach-
ing Death. Death is the factor that draws the
distinction between the two.

We are dealing with interests. How does this
factor affect their respective interests? It is evi-
dent that if the Individual lived, or rather, expected
to live, as long as the Race (and no increase in
numbers took place), then, as in the case of the
Individual and Society, their interests would march
together, would be identical, and pure Reason a
sufficient guide. In the absence of this factor,
their interests need not, of any antecedent neces-
sity, be the same.

" Cuncta manus avidas fugient haeredis amice
Quae dederis animo."

HoR., Odesj iv. 7.

** All spent on your dear self will escape the greedy hands
of your heir."

When a great estate is entailed, each successive
"owner," although entitled to deal with the in-
come, is under constraint to leave the capital



INDIVIDUAL AND RACE 51

undiminished and untouched. It is evident that
the constraint is the essence of this arrangement.
Let us look at such a case solely from the point
of view of the *' owner's " rational interests. Cut
away from below him the purpose of the prompt-
ings of Instinct, erase from above him every dis-
interested motive, and what is his advantage in the
continuance of the entail ? What are the coming
generations of the family to such a one ? What,
to him, is a future in which he has no part and no
lot? It is postulated that he is moved only by
individual interest. If he has the power to spend
the capital upon himself; if the deterring con-
straint is removed; why should he resist the
temptation to do so ? The conclusion is inevitable.
He would spend the capital within his own lifetime.
And if he goes childless through life, nature inflicts
no penalty either upon him or upon any other in-
dividual. But the Race is injured : the penalty of
nature falls in the disappearance of the family.

When we turn to the facts of life we find that
the parallel is exact. Let us assume the assump-
tion will not be very far wrong that that part of
the stress of life which is represented by the efforts
of the Individual to maintain himself in competi-
tion with his contemporaries is equivalent to the
part represented by the efforts necessary in the
nurture, care, and education of the young, who
belong to the coming generation. On this assump-
tion, those married or unmarried who elect to
go childless through life are relieved of one-half of
the stress and anxiety that is the lot of those who
have elected to be the parents of the generations



52 THE FATE OF EMPIRES

to come. Whether our assumption of one-half as
the measure of the relief is correct or not, is
unimportant. The relief, the advantage in the
competitive stress, is in any case enormous. The
energy thus set free lays open the whole vista of
life to such a one. Leisure, travel, adventure, all
that the kingdoms of this world can offer, are his ;
and to marry, which is the great racial act of a
man's lifetime, is the maddest and most irrational
act that it is possible to conceive.

Thus, rationally, each sex is apt to regard the
other as the cause of its own undoing ; and we
witness such a portent as the sex-antagonism that
is now springing up.

Building up the future rests upon burdened
shoulders ; and those who are burdened are easily
passed in the race. Thus, under a competitive
system, it is clearly to the interest of the Individual
to break the entail, and to spend upon himself all
the riches of life. The hostility between the in-
terests of the Individual and the Race that would
exist among animals, were it not masked by
Instinct, appears upon the scene uncovered in
rational Society. Reason, per se, has no racial
quality, it is not concerned to avert this hostility,
and the distinction that Death draws between the
Individual and the Race places their interests
directly in opposition to one another.

If, then, it is to the interest of the life tenant
to break the entail, the second of our two questions
arises, and we must ask : *' Is it in his power to do
so ? " Under Instinct the constraint that ensures
the continuance of the entail of life is absolute.



INDIVIDUAL AND RACE 53

Does Reason not only lay bare the antagonism of
interests, but also confer upon the Individual the
power to act in his sole interest ; the power, that
is, to break the entail of life ?

That it confers this power is incontestable. It
is futile to say that Instinct, in this matter, still
governs conduct, and that it shows little or no sign
of weakening. The statement is quite true ; but,
strong as Instinct is, it has fallen into the toils of
Reason, and is fooled of its purpose. There is no
need to quote the figures issued by the British
Registrar- General. In greater or less degree the
fact is in evidence throughout every community of
the white man. Moreover, in view of what has
been pointed out above, it is interesting to observe
that the birthrate falls, not only in direct ratio with
the predominance of the rational faculty in any
community, but also in a direct ratio with its com-
parative predominance in various classes of the
same community. The spirit of the French mind
is generally admitted to be the most logical and
rational in Europe : France has the lowest birth-
rate. In America it has been noticed that the
*' Higher" education of women has had a striking
effect in leading to avoidance of office that is to
say, in either preventing marriages, or in produc-
ing childless unions. Among ourselves the position
is shown by the evidence given before the Royal
Commission on Divorce, by Sir James Crichton-
Browne, on 31st October 1910, when he said :
" Since 1875 the average number of children pro-
duced by a fertile union has halved in the best
families of all classes in this country."



54 THE FATE OF EMPIRES

The conclusion reached is, then, that pure
Reason, careless of the Race, seeks the cessation
of the self-sacrifice involved in parenthood. So
far as the reproductive stress is concerned, the
interests of the Individual and of the Race cannot
be identified in pure Reason. In pure Reason the
Individual is greater than the Race, and his interest
prevails.



CHAPTER VI

RELATIVE INTEREST OF SOCIETY AND THE RACE
UNDER THE METHOD OF REASON

In the two preceding chapters we have considered
the rational relations of the Individual and Society
in the first, and of the Individual and the Race
in the second. In the former we have seen that
Reason desires, and can secure, the identification
of the interest of the Individual with that of
Society ; in the latter we have seen that Reason
is unsuccessful in a similar attempt upon the
diverse interests of the Individual and the Race.
It fails even to reconcile them, because Reason
would subordinate the interest of the Race to that
of the Individual. So we may summarise the
matter by saying that, in the first case, the Indi-
vidual is equal to Society, and that, in the second
case, the Individual is greater than the Race.

Our next task is to examine the relation of the
interest of Society with that of the Race, in order
to complete the consideration of the triangle of
interests that we have represented thus :

Bace




Individual ' ^ Society

55



56 THE FATE OF EMPIRES

Now, if the interests of the Individual and
Society are identical if, that is, under a com-
munistic system. Society takes the place of the
Individual then evidently the divergence between
the interests of the Individual and the Race, which
we noted, would appear, at first sight, also to
involve a similar cleavage between the interests
of Society and the Race. Whether this assump-
tion will stand examination, or not, is the subject
of the present stage of our inquiry.

It will be remembered that the failure of
Reason to reconcile the interests of the Individual


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