1862- Macdonald James Alexander.

Democracy and the nations; online

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guide of the foolish ; a socialism in whose realised
social order men and women and little children
live together and work together as neighbours in
a world-neighbourhood, as brothers in a recon-
structed and regenerated brotherhood of man.

The State needs a new politic. Old political
theories, as illustrated in prevailing political in-


stitutions, must be reconceived. The discredited
Prussian idea of the State as a thing of Divine
Right, above conscience, free from law, and inde-
pendent of the people, is less dangerous to the
world than is the everyday practice under free
government where Democracy is shouted from
the housetops at election time, but denied in the
offices of administration and in the bossism of
parties all the year round. It is not enough that
the political theory of Democracy should be
proved sound: power for the people must mean
something more than the right to vote. It is
not enough for the integrity of the State in North
America that south of the Great Lakes are heard
historic quotations from the Fathers of American
Independence, and north of the line great words
from the Fathers of Canadian Confederation, if
under both flags the maxim of the Scottish brig-
and Rob Roy is tolerated :

"That they should take who have the

And they should keep who can,"

and if the sacred words at Gettysburg are in
political experience changed to mean "govern-
ment of the people by the rascals for the rich."
Government must work out to mean something
worthier than mis-government by proxy, or
Democracy is only a more vulgar form of Des-


potism. Party government itself must be recon-
ceived. It must be made everlastingly plain that
the whole duty of all political parties is to the
People, and not at all to the grafters, the office-
seekers, and the party heelers. "His Majesty's
Loyal Opposition" has a duty second in respon-
sibility, and in dignity not even second, to the
duty resting upon "His Majesty's Government" :
the duty of criticism and co-operation, that the
rights of the people may be secure, their laws
just, and their lives free. And the State itself
must be lifted in its thinking to take its rightful
place of citizenship and service in the newborn
democracy of the internationalized world. The
old politic of national exclusion is outgrown. In
political ideas there must come a new lead.

And the Church needs a new ecclesiasticism.
The old ecclesiastical order is out of joint. De-
nominationalism has run to seed. The mint and
the anise and the cumin, Europe being witness,
have taken the place of the weightier matters of
the law, and a pagan philosophy, an unspiritual
ethic and a sociology that knows no Christ have
drugged the nerve of the Gospel. The Church
must reconceive itself, not as the echo of State
policies, but as the embodiment and spokesman of
Christianity. It must up again to the hilltops, to
Calvary and to Olivet, and renew its vision of the
world. The Church was not meant to be the cult


of an outworn creed, but the fountain of world
ideas ; not the conservator of things as they were,
but the irrepressible campaigner for things as
they ought to be ; not the dealer in dull narcotics
that numb the pains of new thinking and soothe
the nation with Peace, peace, when there is no
peace, but the resistless dynamic of a new life
that will smash through the Dardanelles of dead
dogma and stir the wilderness of arid formalism
into the glad fragrance of a new heaven and a
new earth.

Because of the world's breach with its own
past, and because of the urgent needs in So-
ciety, in the State and in the Church, the call of
humanity is direct and piercing for another
chance and a new leadership. That call is loud-
est and most compelling in North America. And
that leadership must be inspired by the Church
of Jesus Christ.


The call for leadership comes to North Ameri-
ca, because, among the leader-nations of the
world, this Republic alone even calls itself neutral.
The United States is not undisturbed, but your
ears have not been filled with the noise of actual
battle, your heart has not been held in the hard
grip of actual war, and the best of your sons


have not gone out to die by the tens of thousands
for your nation's life.

Neutrality has its advantages, and isolation
from the conflict has its immunities. But no
theory of neutrality, be it never so just, and no
experience of national isolation, be it never so
remunerative, can secure for the United States of
America immunity from the pains and penalties
of Europe's anguish, or can make the struggle
of other nations only a harvest time for Ameri-
can manufacturers of munitions of war. When
humanity goes up to its Golgotha, it means the
blood-sweat of Gethsemane for every nation.

The United States owes too much to Europe
to Britain, to France, to Germany, to all the war-
ring nations, and to the imperilled causes of free-
dom and justice and peace the United States
owes too much to civilisation to be neutral in its
ideas when the whole fabric of civilised thinking
is tottering into ruin. "Noblesse oblige" makes
it impossible for this Republic to be uncommit-
ted in its services and sacrifices when human-
ity, robbed to-day of the blood of a whole gen-
eration of its coming patriots and heroes, calls
aloud for to-morrow's leaders. Humanity will
need another Washington, and another Jeffer-
son, another Franklin and another Hamilton to
make good a new Declaration of Independence
for all the world; and many another Lincoln to


emancipate the minds of the nations from the
thraldom of hate, and to make possible a United
States, not of Europe alone, but of the world, so
that government of the people by the people and
for the people may not perish from the earth.
And in its distress humanity has the right to
turn to this American democracy, this "the heir
of all the ages" ; has the right to make appeal to
you and your Churches, to your homes and your
schools, to your universities and your seminaries ;
the commanding right to send out its Macedonian
cry for leaders from America to take the places
of the millions who are falling in Europe's war.
And what is the answer ? Does North America
to-day breed the leaders for the world of to-
morrow ?


In the clamour and confusion of this world-
crisis one call strikes with the note of hope. That
call is "Back to Christ/' When the great nations
of Europe, the nations that are called Christian,
broke into this most anti-Christian war in Au-
gust last, the cry went up: "Christianity has
failed." The tone of that cry sometimes was of
exultation, sometimes of despair, sometimes of
sad surprise. Now that a year has well nigh
gone, and month by month the war circle widens

and the war tragedy darkens, leaving only here
and there a little people not swept into the vortex
or skirting the edge, the cry of August has be-
come an earnest question: "Has Christianity
failed?" And as the clouds hang heavier, as the
sorrow comes nearer still, as one by one all other
hopes vanish and all other schemes break down,
the heart of humanity rises to a higher key and
utters an urgent note of hope : "Back to Christ."
Christianity has not failed. In the realm of
international life Christianity has in reality never
yet been honestly tried. As between Britain and
America the Christian temper has never for long
been wholly absent. Through the hundred years
of Anglo-American peace the qualities of Chris-
tian feeling grew into our diplomacy. But this
has been the result of the personal equation in
Christian character among the individuals deal-
ing with international affairs the British Sov-
ereigns and the American Presidents, the succes-
sion of Ambassadors in London and in Washing-
ton, the high quality of statesmanship on 'one side
and on the other rather than the result of defi-
nite Christian principles and purposes deliberately
inwrought in international policy and impel-
ling to international action. Our nations as na-
tions are only beginning to think internationally.
Even in our Anglo-American civilisation there
will not be any real international Christianity un-


til into our international thought and feeling and
life there comes a more definite sense of interna-
tional Christian brotherhood, a brotherhood high-
er and deeper than any brotherhood of blood.
That Christian brotherhood of the nations means
not only personal Christian faith and fidelity in
individual citizens, but it means also in the na-
tional life and consciousness a national allegiance
and devotion to the international Christ.

Humanity's surprising discovery in the black-
ness and grief of this international war will be
the person and leadership of the International

The Man of Nazareth was the world's first in-
ternationalist, the product of no narrow racial-
ism. He was the Son of Man. Up to Calvary
He went, the Saviour of the world. From Olivet
He commissioned His apostles to all nations with
the herald proclamation of the Kingdom of God.
The premier spokesman for His world program
saw Christ cross all chasms of race, of social
conditions and of sex : the platform of Christian-
ity bridges the abyss between Jew and Gentile, be-
tween male and female, between bond and free.
The leaders of the Protestant Reformation
caught a glimmer of the larger truth when they
met the pretensions of the Papacy with the estab-
lishment of a National Church. And Scotland,
little Scotland, through all the dark years of Se-


cession and Covenant, sealed for the world with
the blood of her martyrs the oath of her testi-
mony to the Headship of Christ over the nations
of the world. And when, in this twentieth cen-
tury, the Church catches the radiant vision on
the international horizon line, there, in all His
Messianic glory and with all His kingly power,
the Church will see, and will make the nations
see, the Christ stand. The International Christ !


WHY should Canada be involved in this war
of Europe ? By what tether are our sym-
pathies and our sons drawn to the battle-fronts
of France and of Flanders? What toll must be
paid by this peaceful, young democracy of the
new world before the despotic frightfulness of
the old world is done ?

Questions such as these were suggested to me
ten days ago by two addresses at the Annual Com-
mencement of Western Reserve University in
Cleveland, Ohio. Both speakers were Americans
of national eminence. One was David Starr Jor-
dan, the Chancellor of Leland Stanford Univer-
sity. The other was John G. White, a Cleveland
lawyer of distinction as a jurist. Their words
were addressed specially to a great body of uni-
versity alumni. The atmosphere of their thinking
and the point of their argument was the great war
in Europe, and the tests and responsibilities it pre-
sented to the two English-speaking nations of

*An Address at Priceville, Ontario, 1915.


Dr. Jordan, speaking as an expert in biology
and a student of the Social Problem of the na-
tions, condemned war, both just and unjust war,
because of the toll it takes and the trail it leaves.
The toll of war is not in money alone, or in ter-
ritory, or in social happiness, but in the best of the
human breed, in the choicest of the nation's sons,
in the "men of the finer strain" through whom
nature would preserve and reproduce the rare
spark of genius that gives the world its poets, its
artists, its philosophers, its statesmen, its men
who are the measure and the glory of the race.
He argued that in war the fittest do not survive,
that the bravest and best are first to enlist and
first to fall, and that this "reversed selection" in
the biology of war means for the nation the sur-
vival of the unfit. Its end is national decay.

As a veteran of the Civil War and as spokes-
man for his university class of 1865, Mr. White
seemed to justify the wars of history that called
men to heroic death for their country's sake, and
that urged them to self-sacrifice without concern
for "the finer strain." He rang the changes on
Thermopylae and Marathon, on Waterloo and
Lucknow, on Quebec and Valley Forge, on the
Wilderness and Gettysburg, on the Marne and
Ypres. He made appeal to "the glory that was
Greece" and to the greatness that is Belgium.

It is with these thoughts in mind the thoughts


of the patriot who is also a man of science and a
student of history, and the thoughts of the other
patriot whose blood stirs at the bugle call and
thrills again at the story of the battle charge it
is with these thoughts and feelings and restless
questions that bear on our Canadian situation
to-day, I come to share in your patriotic dem-
onstration, and to do honour to the young men of
this district who have joined the colours and are
on their way to the front.

The questions of Canada's tether and its toll
are real questions. They are our questions.
They will not down. They cannot be dismissed
with a wave of the hand. They are worlds away
from the shallow clamour of political partisan-
ship. They deal with the content and quality of
Canada's nationalism. They involve the eternal
laws by which the future of a nation grows out
of its past. They ask what part Canada is to
play, not for itself alone, but in that wider family
of nations of which in days to come Canada must
count for one, and which, after the war, must live
together or die together within the four corners
of the world-neighbourhood. These are ques-
tions which Canadians must face with open eyes
and steady hearts :

Why should Canada be involved in this war
of Europe?

By what tether are our sympathies and our


sons drawn to the battle- fronts of Flanders and
of France?

What toll must Canada pay before this fright-
fulness of Europe is done?


It was not for war that Canada was made.
Forty-eight years ago this very week this new
nation began its national history. Dominion Day
commemorates the birth of the Canadian Domin-
ion. Our forefathers, the pioneers of those vast
Canadian wildernesses, blazed trails west and
north from the sea. They came from Britain,
from mid-Europe and from the older American
Colonies to make homes for themselves and their
families and to establish a homeland for their
children's children. But it was not for war they

I am not unmindful of the distinction which
marked the early settlement of this very com-
munity and the towns and townships in these
counties roundabout. The pioneers whose memo-
ries you cherish, whose names many of you bear,
and whose Gaelic mother-tongue many of you
still speak, came to Canada from the Highlands
and islands of Scotland. Your family names,
scattered wide over Grey and Bruce and Huron
and Middlesex and Perth and Oxford, are the his-


toric clan names of Scotland. Your family rec-
ords, like my own, go back to the dark days when
the glens and the moors were drained of their
bravest men to fill up the ranks of the kilted regi-
ments that fought for Britain's glory from Cullo-
den to Cathay : and to the still darker days when
what of blood and brawn left in the glens by the
recruiting sergeant was swept off the lands for
which their fathers died to make room for the
landlord's sheep and for the Duke's pheasants and
big-horned stag. If our ancestral blood answers
to the pibroch of war, it answers also to the two
centuries of injustice which made our forefathers
exiles from the lands that ought to have been
theirs, and begot in us the deep conviction that
landlordism has been as cruel and as devastating
to Britain as Prussian militarism has been to Ger-

In those days of the sailing vessels on the sea
and long before the day of railways on the land,
through the last half of the seventeenth century
and on through the eighteenth, those hardy High-
landers by the thousand came in shiploads from
the ports of the Clyde and the Argyllshire coast,
yearning westward across the trackless ocean for
a new land where they might make a fresh start
and create a free life in a new civilisation. The
trails of those migrations run westward across
Canada from Cape Breton, from Prince Edward


Island, from Nova Scotia, from New Brunswick,
up the St. Lawrence, up the Ottawa, along the
Great Lakes, and then north and west through the
primeval forests where now smiles this great
Province of Ontario.

What heroes those pioneers must have been!
What strength in their men! What courage in
their women! What proud ambition! What
heroic endurance ! What hope that conquered the
invincible ! What faith that removed the impos-
sible mountains ! With hearts that never fainted,
with wills that never were daunted, with a love
that never failed, those men and women of the
early days were the real discoverers of Canada,
the true makers of the nation, and when the jew-
els are made up their lives will not be lost.


But it was not for war the adventurous pio-
neers came to Canada. It was not for war they
cleared the forests and drained the swamps. It
was not for war they changed the jungle into a
neighbourhood. It was not for war their women
brought forth children in all the sorrows of pio-
neer life. It was not as food for the cannon of
war they trained their sons in the arts and indus-
tries of peace. Many of us have in our veins no
other blood than the wild and fiery blood of the


fighting clans of Scotland, blood that has not
been cooled or tamed by the half-dozen genera-
tions that separate us from the dark glens and the
heathery hills. But it was not to make ready for
another "killing time" men of the Scottish Cove-
nant crossed the seas and sired a new generation
on the virgin soil of Canada. The tartan plaid
was no cover for a coward heart, but men of the
tartan learned that serving men is nobler work
than killing men, and that peace means courage
greater than war. Here in Canada the broad-
swords were sheathed. The clan feuds were for-
gotten. The war of races was outgrown. The
hot-blooded Celt came to trust the Sassenach
whom once he hated. When Canada became a
self-governing Dominion the hope was cherished
that on this half -continent a new nation should
grow to greatness and world-service with no bat-
tlefield on its map, no war page in its history, and
with its finest strain and its fittest sons preserved
from the wanton waste of war to beget a finer and
a fitter race. That was indeed a noble ambition,
and nobly Canada might have achieved it.

And Canada led the way. It was a great ad-
venture, that peaceful break for nationhood
made by the Fathers of the Canadian Confedera-
tion a half -century ago. The explorers of that
day who went out looking for a nation in a wil-
derness were men of genius, of courage, of vision,


of faith: Mackenzie and Papineau, Baldwin and
Lafontaine, George Brown and John A. Mac-
donald, Joseph Howe and Charles Tupper. Not
with fire and sword, but with the power of a great
idea, they came, they saw, they conquered. An
apron-strings colony became a self-governing na-
tion. And not Canada alone, but Australia as
well, and New Zealand, and then across the veldt
of South Africa, each a free nation, the shackles
of colonialism all struck off. The tether of love
and of liberty proved stronger than all the man-
dates of fear and all the compulsions of force.
When the colonies became free nations autocratic
Imperialism in Britain was cast off like a thing
disproved, and the old Empire, with its roots
among the shattered Empires of the past, became
a new Commonwealth, with its fruits in the
world-democracy of the future. That transfor-
mation from world-Empire to world-Common-
wealth is the greatest achievement of modern
British history, and is the vital outgrowth of the
new idea which started Canada in the way of na-
tionhood without war and without separation
eight and forty years ago.

For Canada had a great start. Never in all
history did any young nation set out with so many
good stars in its horoscope. French and British,
at strife in Europe, joined hands on the St. Law-
rence. The finest strains of the best races of the


old world went into Canadian veins. The experi-
ences of the American colonies, the earlier experi-
ments of the Republic in State sovereignty and
in Federal unity, their failures and their suc-
cesses, all were plain as warnings and as examples
for the colonies of Canada.

Canada's start came as a new day was dawning
in Britain. The arrogance of British autocracy
in the half-Junker days of George III. was left
behind in the larger democratic days of Queen
Victoria. Canada came to nationhood after aris-
tocratic rule had given way to responsible govern-
ment, and the Liberal ideas of Chatham and
Burke had triumphed over the reactionary notions
of Lord North and the King. There was no
revolution in Canada, and in Britain nothing
worse than doubts and fears, forty-eight years
ago when Dominion Day was given a place in the
Canadian calendar. For the first time in the
world's history a colony grew into a nation with-
out the bitterness of revolution and without the
loss of that heritage of history which gives rich-
ness and dignity to the life of the nation.


But war has come our way. It was not our
war. At first it was not even Britain's war.
Canada was the enemy of no one of the nations


of Europe. The people of Germany, the people of
Austria, even the people of Turkey, if they knew
us at all, knew us only as friends. The oppressed
and persecuted of their lands came to our shores
and were made welcome. Escaping from bond-
age there they found liberty here. An aristocrat
among the peoples the Anglo-Saxon always may
have been, but in Canada he gave a second chance,
an equal chance, to the crowded-out Teuton and
Slav and Turk, crowded out of their ancestral
homes in Europe. We wished them well, and we
wished no harm to their homelands, but only
peace and the larger freedom which we ourselves

Even now, though they are all our alien ene-
mies, it is with something of a sense of tragedy
we think of the mess Europe has made of its life.
It is an unspeakable tragedy that the Teutons of
Germany, who are of the same race-family as
the Anglo-Saxons of England, the world's lead-
ers in political freedom, should be the political
pawns of an arrogant half-Slavic Prussian bu-
reaucracy, the bewildered victims of a false phil-
osophy, the intellectual slaves of a brute-force
notion of national greatness, led captive by a dy-
nasty gone mad in its lust for world domination.
To Englishmen what is now a hideous tragedy
was at first a gruesome farce. They could not
believe that their Teuton half-brothers had sur-


rendered to the Divine Right mania of the House
of Hohenzollern and had in very truth started
out to impose their culture on the world. That
is indeed the mocking tragedy of modern life.

But when the war came in August last, so far
as Britain was concerned, there was nothing for
it but war. Had Britain done other than she did,
had she allowed the brutal and infamous invasion
of Belgium, had she stood idly by while the giant
murderer of innocence worked his fiendish way in
Europe, British honour would have been betrayed,
the trust of the over-seas Dominions would have
been put to shame, and had the Prussian tri-
umphed, Britain's own day of sorrow would have
followed speedily, when there would have been
none to pity and few to help.

That tether holds when self-interest gives way,
when prudence yields, and even when the pledges
of honour are but a scrap of paper. All the ties of
common language and common blood and com-
mon history were involved in the relation of the
American colonies to the British Crown when
Junker autocracy was on the throne. But those
ties did not hold. The King and his Government,
in defiance of the appeals of the great commoners
and leaders of the people, did violence to the

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Online Library1862- Macdonald James AlexanderDemocracy and the nations; → online text (page 10 of 12)