Arthur John Hubbard.

The fate of empires; being an inquiry into the stability of civilisation online

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and the Race concerned the matter of reproduc-
tion. Applying here the same test, the question
becomes : " Can Reason so state the terms of their
mutual dependence that Society will find its
interest in the encouragement of the reproduc-
tion and nurture of the Race ? "

It is unquestionable that the older school of
economists, referred to in Chap. Ill, were right
when they urged that the strain upon the Indi-
vidual, caused by competition, could be rendered
more tolerable if the reproductive activity of the
Race were lessened. It is equally obvious that
the newer school is also right when, recognising
the racial evils and dangers attendant upon a
low birthrate, it urges alternatively that, the com-
petitive system of life once abolished, the provision
of future generations would become less burden-
some. For, if Society, under a system of common
ownership, took the place of the Individual, and
shouldered the reproductive stress that is now
borne by him, then the weight of the burden


might be lessened, though only slightly, by uni-
fication of effort. So far as the unification were
rational, it would save a certain amount of energy
now wasted : just as the care of a hundred patients
is more easily carried on in one hospital than in
a hundred separate homes.

But these two contentions, however true, are
equally beside the point. They juggle with the
items in the face of bankruptcy. They are ex-
traneous to the present argument, because they
propose merely a reduction of the two stresses.
Imperious Reason knows no such limitation, but
demands their total abolition. She, moreover, has
the power to secure these ends. To offer less is
to palter with pure Reason. And pure Reason
does not lend herself to equivocation. You can-
not pick and choose. She demands, not that the
binding rope which cuts into the flesh shall be
loosened, but that it shall be removed altogether.

There is nothing here to show that it is less
clearly to the interest of Society than of the Indi-
vidual to check the work of reproduction. Indeed,
under Socialism, the identification of the interest
of the Individual with that of Society is not ap-
proximate, but absolute. It is not to the interest
of a Socialistic Society to permit more than an
irreducible minimum of reproduction on the part
of the individuals composing it.

For, in a Socialistic Society in running order
a Society essentially contrived to secure material
ease is it to be imagined that the sense of the
stress of reproduction, and of the costUness of the
nurture of children, would not become more acute


in proportion as the competitive stress is relieved ?
We have already pointed out that marriage would
be an act of madness in a rational individual.
Would multiplication be less than insanity on the
part of a communist society ?

Thus no system of common ownership, al-
though it may remove the competitive stress, can
remove the reproductive stress : it is not designed
to that end. It may, perhaps, do something to
mitigate the severity of its incidence, but it
cannot, except by the avoidance of parenthood
itself, effect the removal that is demanded by
Reason. To the Individual it makes no material
difference whether the stress falls upon him in
the character of a father of a family, or in the
character of a citizen of a Socialistic Society.

The purely rational demand would be that this
stress should be removed, even as the competitive
stress had been removed. We have seen already,
that the Individual can only escape from this stress
by the avoidance of parenthood itself. We see
now, that a Socialistic Society fares no better.
The logical position of Society, vis-a-vis to the
Race, is the same as that of the Individual.
The identity of their interests goes to the bitter

Moreover, if we regard a Socialistic, that is a
non-competitive form of Society, as the most
rational form, then it becomes evident, a fortiori,
that it is an antecedent impossibility for any other
form of rational Society, however constituted, or
however reconstructed, to bridge the logical hiatus
between its interest and that of the Race. Indeed,


the more logically and rationally it is constructed,
the more intrusive becomes the fact that the
hostility between the interests of the Individual
and the Race persists also into the relations
between Society and the Race.



It is deeply interesting to note the manner in
which the rational revolt against these two stresses,
the social and the racial, occurs in the course of
the growth of any modern civilisation. Practically
always, the revolt shows itself at a certain stage
of development, and the revolt against the one
takes place nearly at the same time as the revolt
against the other. We need not look far afield
for an illustration of this coincidence. In English
life the two outstanding features of the last quarter
of a century are, the appearance of a Socialistic
party, and a rapidly falling birthrate. Among
ourselves, the tendency to a decline in the birth-
rate slightly preceded the Socialistic phenomena.
In Germany, this order appears to have been
reversed. German Socialism has, for some time
past, been a powerful element in the composition
of that empire, and yet there has been a great
increase in the population. This, however, is at
present mainly due to improved sanitary conditions,
and the consequent preservation of the elderly.
Already the German birthrate is falling rapidly.
The "corrected" birthrate of Berlin in 1881 was
32-2, and in 1901 it was 26-8.'

1 The Declining Birthrate, page 26, by Arthur Newsholme, M.D., Prin-
cipal Officer of the Local Government Board. Cassell & Co. Ltd., 1911.


The nature of French genius ensured the
appearance of the twin phenomena in France
before they invaded England or Germany, but
their advent coincided in point of time.

The cause of this simultaneity does not lie quite
upon the surface ; indeed, a tendency to demand
common ownership and a tendency to limit re-
production appear, at first sight, to be dissimilar
in character, and their coincidence to be fortuitous.
Nevertheless, the cause of their conjunction will
be sufficiently obvious to the reader of the pre-
ceding pages. Their common origin is to be
found in the increasing preponderance of Reason, X
and the consequently increasing pursuit of self- -
interest. When that has reached a given point
the effect becomes observable, both socially and

We have seen that, even if the social stress had
received its maximum of relief under a Socialistic
organisation the highest expression of Reason,
in dealing with competition still, the racial stress
would be untouched, except by the rational destruc-
tion of the interest of the Race. It is therefore
necessary, in the consideration of these twin pheno-
mena, to devote ourselves to the examination of
the one that is concerned with racial destruction
at the bidding of Reason.

The power to control the birthrate the power,
that is, to break the entail of life is wholly absent
under the dispensation of Instinct ; it is conferred
by Reason alone, and therefore may be considered,
from an evolutionary point of view, as a novel
racial environment. Thus, the effects of this, not


only the newest factor in evolution, but one of the
first magnitude, are to be traced, not in the recesses
of a tropical forest, but upon the highways of

We have seen that Instinct, supervening over
reflex power, was unable to do more, as in the
case of the casarita, than follow the inborn impulse,
whether it were self-destructive or not, under the
circumstances of each individual case. Instinct,
that is, was unable to dominate the environment
that it had itself created when it supervened over
merely reflex power. Instinct arose and survived,
on account of its ability to deal advantageously
with the conditions that had preceded it; that is
to say, with quite another environment than that
which it made for itself. In the result, it created
an environment of limitless wastefulness a waste-
fulness with which, for lack of the power of
drawing inferences, it was itself unable to deal.

Even so it is with Reason in the matter of the
birthrate. Reason arose and survived, on account
of its power to deal advantageously with the waste-
fulness of the environment created by Instinct.
But it is unable to dominate the new environment
created by itself, or to remain within the boundaries
of its usefulness. Thus, for example, to break the
entail of life is the strict and inevitable work of
pure Reason, for a rational society cannot stultify
itself by refusing to make use of its power in
a manner that has already been shown to be
materially to the interest of all the living.

From an evolutionary point of view, it is im-
possible to exaggerate the importance of this new


racial environment. Its deadly character "leaps
to the eye." The wastefulness of Instinct, unable
to control the impulses that it created, finds its
parallel in the wastefulness of Reason, obliged as
it is to follow up in practice the inferences that it
draws. In the former case, the individual lives
are destroyed; in the latter, empire after empire
and civilisation after civilisation are struck down.
Reason magnifies its office, and, by the toll that it
takes from the Race, becomes the instrument of
ruin. Its pursuit of interest, so far as any power
inherent in itself is concerned, is as uncontrolla|)le
as the impulses of pure Instinct ; as fixed as the
reflex response to a stimulus.

Even though we turn to the highest and most
complete expression of interest a communist form
of society still we find no logical foundation for
permanence. We find, on the contrary, that a
Socialistic Society is also automatically self -limit-
ing, and lies open to the impact of the racial stress.
We may, indeed, go further, and find, as a general-
isation, that any civilisation must prove ephemeral
in direct ratio to its dependence upon Reason.
Where there is no place for disinterested conduct,
there is no place for the child.

Lest such a conclusion should appear, even
now, to be preposterous and unheard of, it may be
well to illustrate our meaning by turning, for a
moment, to facts that are within the cognisance of
everyone, and we do this even though the time has
not yet come for the discussion of the historical
aspect of the subject.

In contemporary France, we may see the pro-


cess in operation. But a very few generations
have passed since the French held the hegemony
of the world. At present, French Society, if not
indeed Socialistic, is yet the Society from which
non-rational considerations are more severely ex-
cluded than from any other. And the Frenchman
is bound to the wheel of his own logical faculty.
The most rational of beings, he perceives, indeed,
the import of what is going on. Still, he is help-
less, as though mesmerised, and wholly unable to
suggest any rational means of averting the famine
of children. The number and extent of his writ-
ings on Depopulation testify that none can recog-
nise his racial danger more clearly than he dqes,
and yet he cannot draw back from it. On the
contrary, Reason is compelling French Society
to advance directly to the racial doom that its
members see so plainly before them the destruc-
tion that is their own act and deed the destruction
that, none the less, they are powerless to avoid.

When we realise these facts, and, on the other
side, recall that the pressure of population is an
irresistible force, and that, in the long run, no
ability, no strategy, and no armament can save the
castle with an insufficient garrison, then we see that
the continuous existence of any civilisation that
is founded upon interest is a flat impossibility.

It is astonishing to read such a work, for
instance, as Mr. J. S. Mill's Utilitarianism, for we
find therein no sign of the idea that the interests
of Society and of the Race could fail to be iden-
tical. He does not point to them as separate
conceptions, and there is no evidence that he


recognised the difference between them. Under
these circumstances, it is a matter of course that
he makes no reference to the possibility of any
divergence in their respective interests. That this
should have been so was inevitable, for the identity
of their interests is a postulate an understood
premise in any system of Utilitarianism.

Moreover, as we read that work, we feel that
there was, in the mind of the writer, a frozen
certitude that any form of religion was unneces-
sary. The question of its truth did not arise, for,
in any case, it was antecedently superfluous.

Nevertheless, that which was regarded as im-
material may prove, racially, to be the one essen-
tial. Had the great utilitarians of the last century
drawn the all-important distinction between Society
and the Race, a different course would certainly
have been taken by thought, and perhaps by history
itself. For, that which it reveals is nothing less
than the racial insolvency of pure Reason.



If, then, a civilisation resting upon a utilitarian
basis is of necessity an impermanent, or, at best,
an intermittent phenomenon ; if, that is, the method
of Reason fails racially, and so leads automatically
to the disappearance of any civilisation that is
founded upon it, we have next to ask : "Is every
civilisation foredoomed to failure ? Is the labour
of building up civilisation always to prove the
Sisyphean task that is disclosed in the history of
all the Western civilisations of the past ? "

Evidently the answer to this question in-
volves a further consideration of what we have
termed " Method." We have seen the succession
of the various methods : Reflex, Instinctive, and
Rational ; and that, although each is an advance
upon its predecessor, yet each has proved imperfect.
Therefore we have to restate our question, and to
ask : " Can we descry the possibility of some method
that, in its turn, might supersede the method of
Reason; a method disclosing new powers, and
motives hitherto unconsidered, for conduct that
will be of racial value ? "

For a method to be entitled to take precedence
of the method of Reason, it must come with great



In the first place, if we are to regard it as the
basis of a permanent civilisation, it must itself be
permanent. It must be demonstrably free from
the underlying cause of the failure that has been
common to the previous methods, lest it should
itself require to be superseded in the future, or
liable to fail in its turn, as the methods of Instinct
and Reason have failed. Thus it must be one in
which the forces making for growth shall perman-
ently overbear the forces making for decay. It
must, that is, provide a basis for an ever-growing
civilisation, a civilisation of ever-increasing value to
the human race. It must be capable of indefinite
expansion, and able to prove itself the terminus of
the series of methods.

We can only see whether such a method is
possible when we have exposed clearly the common
and underlying cause of the incompetence that is
present in all the methods that have preceded it,
and not merely, as hitherto, the special manner in
which this common cause has operated in each
particular case. The discovery of such a common
factor will furnish us with a touchstone whereby
to estimate the value of any method that claims
to be supra-rational, and either to accept it as
genuine, or to reject it as spurious. If we find that
the persistence of this factor is inevitable, then the
cycle of decay will still wait upon the cycle of
growth, and we shall know that a permanent
civilisation is beyond the grasp of humanity.

In the second place, it must be free, more parti-
cularly, from the form of this underlying disability
that we have found to be special to Reason, its


immediate predecessor. This disability arises from
the fact that rational conduct does not warrant the
individual in subordinating his interest to that of
the Race. Reason is incompetent because it pro-
vides no place for disinterested conduct.

If, then, a supra-rational method is to be
competent where Reason is incompetent, it must
provide, not for any enlightened self-interest, but
for the voluntary self-sacrifice of the individual:
a provision as unknown to the interest of rational
conduct, as it is in the gratification of the im-
pulse of pure Instinct, or the reflex response to
a stimulus.

And now that we must use the word supra-
ratio7ial, let us guard ourselves at once by pointing
out that it does not carry with it any implication
that Reason is discarded or even depreciated, nor
that the supra-rational is either irrational or non-
rational. We mean, superimposed over Reason,
without the loss of anything serviceable in Reason,
as Reason superseded Instinct without the loss of
anything serviceable in Instinct, and as Instinct
has not involved the loss of the reflexes. Civilisa-
tion cannot live by Reason alone ; if it is to be
stable at all, it can only be based upon the supra-

Taking up now the consideration of the first
of the two requirements, we ask : *' What common
cause of incompetence, what common element of
incompleteness, is revealed in the failure of the
methods of Reflex Action, Instinct, and Reason ? "

In the first place, it is not quite accurate to
speak of them as failures, for each has been sue-


cessful in the limited area in which it was fitted to
act. It will be remembered that we have already
pointed out that these successive steps bear a
curiously close resemblance to the steps of human
scientific advance ; and we may now be permitted
to carry the same analogy in another direction. A
scientific discovery may successfully throw light
upon that which previously had baffled our compre-
hension. But the light has scarcely shone upon
the old problem before we realise that the new
discovery has itself raised a series of new problems,
apparently more insoluble than the old one. Thus,
as the circle of human knowledge is widened, the
existence of a more and more extensive area of the
unknown and mysterious is revealed beyond its

So it is with the methods or steps in the ad-
vance of civilisation. Each method has survived,
because it was successful in solving the special
problems that had been propounded by its pre-
decessor. Each method has succeeded in doing
so, by widening the environment of life, and bring-
ing new powers into its service. But, with each
extension of the horizon, new difficulties have
sprung up difficulties that the new method, de-
signed to relieve those of its predecessor, is itself
unable to overcome. Thus, on each occasion the
environment created has proved greater than the
method was fitted to deal with, and an incomplete-
ness a failure relative to the new environment
has resulted. We see that the power of response
to an external stimulus creates, but leaves unsatis-
fied, the need of a power to act independently of


the stimulus. The environment created by reflex
power is obviously limited. The useful inborn
impulses of Instinct arise and fill the gap. With
the appearance of the method of Instinct the scene
widens, but we have learned that the environment
created by this method is, even in the impulses
that are of racial value, limited to the gratification
of the inborn impulses of the Individual. The
environment created by inborn impulse is, then,
that of the Individual. In its turn, the possession
of inborn impulse has created, but left unsatisfied,
the need of the power of drawing inferences. Now,
in its turn. Reason fills the gap. When we reach
the region of Reason, we are upon a higher
eminence, and the scene is wider still. But, when
our survey of the environment created by Reason
is carried to its utmost limits, we find that it cannot
reach beyond the interest of Society. The environ-
ment of interest is that of Society. In its turn.
Reason has created, but left unsatisfied, the need
of a basis of action of racial value ; of action that,
so far as the Individual is concerned, is purely
disinterested. Thus, the common cause of in-
adequacy has been exposed on each occasion by a
widening of the visible horizon, and the relation
of Reason to its own environment has furnished
no exception to this rule. The repetition of
inadequacy can only be eliminated in any supra-
rational method if it provides us with an environ-
ment that does not admit of further extension.

Now, the broad fact that we observe, when we
contemplate the general character of these several
environments, is that they are limited to the earth


and to earthly conditions. If we may use the
word, these methods are geocentric.

Thus, a supra-rational method, if it is not to
admit of further extension, must be cosmocentric :
it must bring us into relation with the universe
the infinite.

If it does so, it will be demonstrably free from
the common cause of inadequacy in its predecessors.
Taking cognisance of the infinite, its environment
would not admit of further extension. Neverthe-
less, within its boundary would be the possibility
and promise of indefinite growth. Permanent, and
of necessity the terminus of the series of methods,
it would fulfil the first of our two requirements.

Next, in the presence of the infinite, do we find
that the second of our two requirements, the
power to make good the special disability of
Reason, would be fulfilled ?

Reason, taking all the earth for its province,
nevertheless does but reveal the blank that separ-
ates the interest of the Race from that of Society,
and the need of the self-sacrifice that alone can fill
it. It recognises no guiding principle, save interest.
It knows, like the Jews of old, "no king but

But when we are in the presence of the infi-
nite, evidently a new position has to be taken up.
Evidently a new rule of conduct has to be adopted,
of conduct that is suitable to the new environment,
as interested conduct is suitable to the environment
of Reason. If it is to be adapted to an environ-
ment that is not earthly, it cannot be governed by
earthly considerations.


On the contrary, in a life that is spent in con-
scious relation to the infinite, temporal interest
fades into nothingness, and the significance of
life is to be found only in its relation to the

And the meaning of the life that is significant
in the presence of the infinite is expressed in service.
And the life of significant service is a life of reasoned

Thus, a supra-rational method, bringing with it
the power of self-sacrifice, shows itself to be free
from the limitations that made Reason incompetent,
and fulfils the second of our two requirements.

If, for the purpose of these pages, we may
define religion as conscious relation to the infinite,
and recognise in service the expression of that
conscious relation, w^hat else is this service than a
method of religious motive? Henceforward we
shall speak, not of a supra-rational method, but of
a method of Religious Motive.

We have already seen that the general stress
of life consists of two constant elements : the social,
or competitive stress, and the racial, or reproductive
stress. We have already examined their incidence ;
first, under inborn impulse, the method of Instinct ;
and then under interest, the method of Reason.
We have tried these methods, and found them
wanting in the power to deal adequately with one
or the other stress. Under the method of Instinct
we found inability to deal with the competitive or
social stress, for it involved a limitless waste of
individual lives. Under the method of Reason we
found inability to deal with the reproductive or


racial stress, on account of the necessary disappear-
ance of any civilisation based upon interest.

And now, if we would test the value of
Religion as the basis of civilisation, we must pass
on to the examination of the reception of these
two stresses under the method of Religious Motive.
There we shall find ourselves in a new world of

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