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hird Series

'AFERS FOR WAR TIME, No. 26



Bernhardism in England



By
A. CLUTTON-BROCK



Price Twopence



HUMPHREY MILFORD

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS

LONDON EDINBURGH GLASGOW NEW YORK

TORONTO MELBOURNE BOMBAY



PAPERS FOR WAR TIME



First Series. Already published.

1. CHRISTIANITY AND WAR. By the Rev. W.
Temple, M.A.

2. ARE WE WORTH FIGHTING FOR ? By the
Rev, Richard Roberts.

3. THE WOMAN'S PART. By Mrs. Luke Paget.

4. BROTHERS ALL: THE WAR AND THE
RACE QUESTION. By Edwyn Bevan, M.A.

5. THE DECISIVE HOUR: IS IT LOST ? By J. H.
Oldham, M.A.

6. ACTIVE SERVICE: THE SHARE OF THE
NON-COMBATANT. By the Rev. W. R. Maltby.

7. THE WAR SPIRIT IN OUR NATIONAL LIFE.

By the Rev. A. Herbert Gray, M.A.

8. CHRISTIAN CONDUCT IN WAR TIME. By
W. H. Moberly, M.A.

9. THE WITNESS OF THE CHURCH IN THE

PRESENT CRISIS. By X.

10. THE REAL WAR. By the Rev. W. E. Orchard,
D.D.

IL LOVE CAME DOWN AT CHRISTMAS. By

Professor G. Hake Leonard, M.A.

12. AN ANSWER TO BERNHARDI. By the Rev.
Professor D. S. Cairns, D.D.



Third Series

PAPERS FOE WAR TIME. No. 26

BERNHARDISM IN

ENGLAND

BY

A. CLUTTON-BROCK



HUMPHREY MILFORD

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS

LONDON EDINBURGH GLASGOW NEW YORK

TORONTO MELBOURNE BOMBAY

1915



^.






^



BASIS OF PUBLICATION

This series of Papers is issued under the auspices of
a Committee drawn from various Christian bodies and poUtical
parties and is based on the following convictions :

1. That Great Britain was in August morally bound to

declare war and is no less bound to carry the war
to a decisive issue ;

2. That the war is none the less an outcome and a revela-

tion of the un-Christian principles which have dominated
the life of Western Christendom and of which both the
Church and the nations have need to repent ;

3. That followers of Christ, as members of the Church, are

linked to one another in a fellowship which transcends
all divisions of nationality or race ;
• 4. That the Christian duties of love and forgiveness are
as binding in time of war as in time of peace ;

5. That Christians are bound to recognize the insufficiency

of mere compulsion for overcoming evil and to place
supreme reliance upon spiritual forces and in particular
upon the power and method of the Cross ;

6. That only in proportion as Christian principles dictate

the terms of se^ttjement will. a reaLand lasting peace
be secured ; ':'•,' . v* i :'** •,.*

7. That it is the diity.o.f ttje.Ch^ch tq.mscKe an altogether

new effort td'4feaii6;e**an^ 'apply'^d'all the relations
of life its own positive ideal of brotherhood and
fellowship ;

8. That with God all things are possible.



BERNHARDISM IN ENGLAND

General Bernhardi is not merely, as many of our
newspapers seem to think, a bad man who hates England
more even than other Germans . He does not, in his books,
show any virulent hatred of England ; and his manners,
when he speaks of foreign nations, are those of a soldier
rather than of a journalist. His doctrine, in fact, is not,
as he preaches it, a doctrine of hatred, but rather a doc-
trine of war. For him conflicts between the nations are
inevitable — at least for those nations that are strong
enough to fight Germany ; and, since they are inevitable,
the chief political virtue for him consists in accepting the
inevitable, in preparing for it, and in forcing it to happen
at the moment most favourable to yourself. There is
some excuse for him, since he is a soldier and also a talker.
For he talks more easily than he thinks, and, as far as
thinking goes, he is satisfied with the proposition that
there is nothing like leather, which, for him, means war.
He is, in fact, really a kind of Red Indian in a Prussian
uniform, but without the Red Indian habit of silence. If
he were unique he would be merely a curiosity ; but
unfortunately he is not, and that is why the word Bern-
hardism has been coined, to express not merely what he
says but what is said and thought by all those in every
country who believe in his doctrine of war.

3



/, ; ; 3ERNHARDISM IN ENGLAND

Every one in England is shocked by it as he preaches
it ; but often it is not the doctrine that shocks them so
much as his application of it. When, in England, writers
have preached the inevitability of war, they have said
that it was inevitable because of the wickedness of
Germany ; and so the great mass of Germans have said that
it was inevitable because of the wickedness of England.
And when their Government put the last article of Bem-
hardism in practice and forced the inevitable at what
seemed a moment favourable to them, these Germans
submitted to it because they believed that England would
otherwise force it at a moment favourable to herself. So
it happened, and seemed to prove that Bernhardi himself
and all our Bernhardists were right. It was inevitable
because so many people beUeved that it could not be
avoided. But most of the Bernhardists in each country
were persuaded to their belief by the Bernhardists in
the other.

There is, however, a higher, or lower, degree of Bern-
hardism than the mere belief that war is inevitable because
the other country means to make it ; and that is Bern-
hardi's own belief, that it is inevitable in the nature of
things. This kind of Bernhardism one finds latent in the
most unexpected places. Here, for instance, is a passage
in Mozley's sermon on war, which Bernhardi himself
might quote, if he knew it. * There is ', Mozley says,
' a spring in the very setting and framework of the world ;

4



BERNHARDISM IN ENGLAND

whence movements are always pushing up to the surface —
movements for recasting more or less the national distri-
bution of the world ; for establishing fresh centres and
forming States into new groups and combinations.'
Much of this, he admits, is due to the selfish spirit of
conquest ; but, he says, ' there is an instinctive reaching
in nations and masses of people after alteration and
readjustment, which has justice in it and which rises
from real needs.' And then he goes on to speak of * a real
self -correcting process which is part of the constitution of
the world, and which is coeval in root with the political
structure which it remedies ' and * of the framework
of society forced by an inward impulse upon its own
improvement and rectification '. There are also, he says,
wars of progress which, * so far as they are really necessary
for the due advantage of mankind and growth of society,
have a justification in that reason ' ; and, last of all, he
speaks of the judicial character of war, and its lawful
place in the world, as a means of obtaining justice, and
tells us that * we should keep clear and distinguished in
our minds the moral effects of war and the physical '.

In all this he talks generally just as Bernhardi talks
about Germany and the immediate future ; and his
phrases have all the dangerous vagueness of Bernhardi.
How can war have a judicial character, when there is no
judge, unless we assume that victory means right ? And
who is to say what wars are justified as the result of an
instinctive reaching in nations and masses of people after

5



BERNHARDISM IN ENGLAND

alteration and readjustment. Every nation will feel this
instinctive reaching when it wants to go to war, and will
be ready to persuade itself that it is right because it is
instinctive . This is, in fact, the plea of kleptomania, which
may be urged for a criminal as a reason why he should
be sent to an asylum rather than to jail, but not for
a nation as a reason why it should steal by force whatever
it desires. And why this glorification of instinct from
the minister of a religion which denies that instinct is
either glorious or irresistible ?

It is to be noted that Mozley talks altogether in this
passage in a vaguely scientific jargon, just like Bernhardi,
and he never gives us any examples of the wars which he
would justify with that jargon. They are not wars of
self-defence, for he distinguishes them from such wars ;
and therefore they are not wars of liberation, which is
only defence against an existing oppression. The whole
passage, in fact, amounts to a statement that there are
some wars which no amount of virtue on both sides would
prevent ; and that is the doctrine of Bernhardi, except
that he applies it to most wars and to all that Grermany
chooses to wage.

Now it is true of hiunan beings that they will not try
to prevent what they beheve to be inevitable. If they
think that pestilence is sent by God, they will not try
to improve their drains. They will even glorify the
pestilence ; and so it is with war : once believe that the
virtues of mankind are powerless against it, and there

6



BERNHARDISM IN ENGLAND

will be no attempt to exercise those virtues ; indeed
we shall be told that they are not virtues at all, as between
nations, but mere cowardice and sentimentality. The
essence of Bernhardism is that what are vices in private
life are virtues internationally, and vice versa. And it
is clear that, in the cases which Mozley speaks of but
does not specify, he would agree with Bernhardi's scale
of values. This instinctive reaching in nations after
alteration and readjustment, he says, has justice in it.
It is, therefore, not merely an animal instinct, but an
effort to do the will of God, or, to use other language,
an effort to fulfil the cosmic process ; and if any other
nation stands in the way of the will of God or the cosmic
process, as the chosen nation instinctively apprehends
them, then of course that chosen nation will virtuously
destroy the obstruction. And it will enjoy the process of
destruction and nourish its own hatred of the enemy.

From the Christian point of view you cannot wage
war decently if you are a Bernhardist ; for, to a Chris-
tian, war is never the result of these vague movements
and adjustments and what-not. It is always the result
of sin, and therefore not to be enjoyed even by a nation
that is forced into it by the sin of another nation. Thus
when we find people enjoying it and consciously indulg-
ing themselves in the feelings of hatred which it naturally
produces, then we may be sure that, whatever their pro-
fessions about that particular war and whatever their
moral indignation against the Bernhardism of the enemy,

7



BERNHARDISM IN ENGLAND

they are, consciously or unconsciously, Bernhardists
themselves. For those things which are vices as between
private people have become virtues to them as between
their own nation and the enemy nation. This is not
a matter of action so much as of a state of mind. A Chris-
tian, who knows that to kill is murder, may yet be
a soldier and in war may kill without losing his Christian
state of mind. War remains an evil caused by sin, though
this particular war seems to him a necessary evil ; and
he kills without fury or hatred, seeing in the enemy
unfortunate human beings, like himself, who perhaps
are driven to this necessity by a sin not their own. But
the Bernhardist, not really believing that war is the
result of sin, even though he clamours about the wicked-
ness of the enemy, accepts war as a right and natural
process, and with it accepts all the feelings which it
provokes. He makes no moral effort against them,
because they are proper to war, and war is proper to the
life of man. It is, in fact, a necessary change from
peace, without which men would become cowardly,
slothful, and sentimental ; and, when it comes, we ought
all to cast off our Christian virtues and our Christian
state of mind, and aim at a state of mind quite opposite.
Now the doctrine of Bernhardism is supposed to be
abhorred in England, because Bernhardi and other
Germans preach it ; and we of course are fighting against
everything German. But the symptoms of Bernhardism
betray themselves on all sides, and we may be sure that,

8



BERNHARDISM IN ENGLAND

where they are, the doctrine is also, however much it
may be suppressed for the moment by the fact that
Bernhardi is a German. We, for instance, are shocked
at the German hatred of England and at the manner
in which they abandon themselves to it with an almost
sensual pleasure. But our Bernhardists think that it is
wicked only because it is England that they hate. It
is, on the other hand, quite right for us to hate Germany,
and they feel a German glow of righteousness when they
do so. For instance, a German paper, the other day,
had good sense enough to protest against the German
orgies of hatred, saying that they were ' fundamentally
tasteless, and not compatible with the future co-opera-
tion between the nations which must come ', since peace,
at last, is at least as inevitable as war. A Christian
would welcome those words as making for peace ; but
a Bernhardist, writing in one of our daily papers, cries
that * The Hun has not changed his skin '. The Frank-
furter Zeitung may talk good sense and good morals,
but no English Bernhardist will believe that it does
so except for a base motive. * Either the German press
is reflecting the uneasy official conviction that the game
is up, and that it is time to speak softly to the enemy at
the gate ; or else that their gentle words may betray
our pacifists into response. Either thought is vain. The
game has always been up so far as Germany is con-
cerned, but it is not over until she is down — and out.'
Notice that, to this writer, * pacifist ' is a term of abuse,

9



BERNHARDISM IN ENGLAND

and the very thought of peace is so repulsive that he
begins to protest, ungrammatically, against it before it
is even mentioned. If any Germans talk decently, it
is because they are afraid. Whatever they do is wrong,
because they are Germans, and however vulgarly an
EngUshman may bully and threaten, he is right because
England is right in her war with Germany. But some-
times the Bernhardist mixes up his own doctrine with
a little incongruous cant . ' Nothing is more exasperating ' ,
says a popular provincial paper, * than the spreading
tendency in this country to mealjrmouthedness about
Germany and the Germans. If allowed to go unchecked
it would become a menace not only to our present interests
but to the future interests of international peace and
international good life — by creating among us an atmo-
sphere of spurious sentiment towards Germany, from
which the only one to benefit would be the country
against which all wells of sentiment must be closed for
a long time to come.' Here you have the Bernhardist
exulting in the thought that he will be able to enjoy the
virtuous feelings proper to war even after peace is pro-
claimed. ' Every right British instinct ', he cries, * is,
or ought to be, in unmistakable revolt against some of
the windy platitudes that are being insisted upon in the
name of the Christian spirit.' No Christian spirit for
him, while we are in the blessed state of war. The
sayings of the Sermon on the Mount have become windy
platitudes ; and, if he has his way, they will remain

10



BERNHARDISM IN ENGLAND

so as long as possible after peace has become an unfor-
tunate necessity.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said last month that
Christians in every land ought to be humbled at the
thought that Christendom had been unable to prevent
this war, and that they should be on their knees asking
for inspiration to make the recurrence of such a cata-
strophe impossible. Whereupon a Bernhardist, in the
press, almost repeats the words of Bernhardi himself
in protesting that war is a necessary part of Christianity.
Like some one else, he quotes Scripture for his own
purpose — ' I come not to send peace but a sword '—for-
getting that, if we read the Bible at all, there is a moral
obligation upon us to use our brains while we read it.
' Under present circumstances ', he says, ' in earth as
in heaven force is the final remedy.' But even General
Bernhardi, much as he knew about this world, has never
laid down the law about the other, or claimed God as
a Bernhardist. He would merely confine God to His
heaven; not subjecting Him to the law of man there,
provided no effort is made to impose His heavenly laws
upon our earth, which knows best how to manage itself.
Our Bernhardist is less moderate. For him there is no
room for sentimentality either above or below ; and,
according to his doctrine, God enjoys the spectacle of
the British Empire behaving as He Himself would behave
in a like case.

11



BERNHARDISM IN ENGLAND

But all this Bernhardism of ours is imitative and the
result of a belief that Bernhardism in Germany can only
be opposed by Bernhardism in England. If the Germans
make themselves ridiculous with their hjnnns of hatred,
we must do our best to equal them in folly. One of our
papers talks about this hatred of theirs * which singes our
cheek, like a blast from Hell across these narrow seas '.
That would please the Grerman haters, if they could read
it ; it would make them believe that we take their
melodrama seriously enough to become melodramatic
ourselves. But the same writer goes on to talk Bern-
hardism as no Englishman could, unless he were possessed
by the belief that the Prussian view of international
morals is right and our old English view wrong. * The
British Empire is built up on good fighting by its army
and its navy ; the spirit of war is native to the British
race.' *War will never end as long as human nature
continues to be human nature. And war with all its evils
teaches us much good. It reminds us of the value of
nationality which in peace is apt to be forgotten. There
has been in the recent past a horrid disease of inter-
nationalism which has weakened us considerably,' and
so on. It is all just what Bernhardi says, just what has
made the German Government behave as it has behaved.
There could not be a greater triumph for German Kultur
and the German doctrine that war has its right to exist
like peace, that the passion for destruction is as spiritual
as the passion for construction ; that hate is as divine as

12



BERNHARDISM IN ENGLAND

love. Notice that this writer enjoys telling us that war
will never end so long as human nature continues to be
human nature ; that is to say, so long as we continue to
be no better than we are at present. For him, too, inter-
nationaHsm is a horrid disease of peace ; which means
really that peace itself is a horrid disease. It is healthier
to be conscious of the difference and hostility between
nations than of their likeness and friendliness. Insist
upon the fact that you are an Englishman and that
a German is a German, rather than upon the fact that
both are human beings ; and welcome war because,
during war, the enemy is an enemy, and there can no
longer be any nonsense about trying to treat him as
a friend. All the hollow politeness and artificial restraint
of peace are at an end. You can now tell the German what
you think of him. You can exult in the failure of the
sentimentalists and their deputations of friendship, in the
end of that dreary time during which it was necessary to
behave to Germans like a civilized human being. Now
you can shake your fist in their faces. If any of them, by
industry and ability, have won good places in England, you
can clamour to turn them out and feel that your jealousy
is patriotism. There is, too, an end of all that nonsense
which we used to talk about desiring peace. Now it can
be said openly that ' the spirit of war is native to the
British race ' ; as indeed it is to every race and to every
human being who would like to have more than he has
got. But in time of peace there is a peace -convention

13



BERNHARDISM IN ENGLAND

by which we are restrained from calling the spirit of war
a virtue ; indeed, we never call it a virtue in the individual
if he shows it by knocking another individual down and
taking his watch ; and not often if he shows it merely by
hitting another individual in the eye because he dislikes
the look of him. And this restraint is irksome to us, or
to some of us, like the restraints of decency. So, when
war comes, we delight in the chance to escape from it,
just as men used to delight in the sanctification of
indecency at heathen festivals. Bernhardism, in fact, is
a kind of Paganism. It is the glorification of what is
commonly called the natural man, that is to say of the
man to whom the spirit is merely a thorn in the flesh which
he would pluck out if he could. And the essence of
Bernhardism is a delight in the state of war because it
gives an excuse for worshipping this human nature,
rather than some remote God towards whom human
nature must painfully aspire. In time of peace this
human nature is a nuisance and a shame, and the Christian
hates war just because it does give a use and a sanction
to all our unregenerate qualities. But the Bernhardist,
being a Pagan, loves it for that very reason ; and you can
tell him at once by the relief and joy which he betrays
when he can abandon himself to the chartered Paganism
of war.

It may be thought that I have made too much of the
passages I have quoted. From their very language

14



any one can see that they are written by men ignorant
and tired, who therefore, since writing is their trade,
take the line of least resistance when they write and
say what it needs no thought to say, and what no violent
patriot can call pro-German. The newspapers are very
much afraid just now lest any one should accuse them
of discouraging recruiting. It is as much as a writer's
place is worth to have that charge brought against him,
and it is freely brought by those who believe that English-
men will not fight like Germans, unless they are worked
up into a state of German virulence. Therefore, it
might be said, one should ignore those things as part
of the inevitable folly produced by war and the necessity
to write about it when you have nothing to say. But
there is more in it than that ; for, as we are all more
or less ignorant and often tired, we are all apt to take
the line of least resistance both in thought and in action.
And Bernhardism is the line of least resistance, like all
kinds of Paganism. We need a constant effort, both
moral and intellectual, to believe that human nature
is not merely human nature, or that, when it is, it is
not admirable. There always has been for all men an
allurement, not only in the passions themselves, but also
in a glorification of them. That is the allurement of
Paganism ; and it appeals to us all, like soft turf when
we are climbing a mountain. In war, too, we have to
make great material efforts, and have therefore the less
energy left for spiritual efforts. We are tired and a little

15



,:a^J/s3*ER2)i[HARBISM IN ENGLAND

afraid. Deprived of many physical luxuries, we want
some mental luxury, and we get it in Bemhardism, in
a sensuous reaction from all the spiritual effort and the
spiritual ideas that trouble us in time of peace. Just
as a soldier is most apt to pillage after a hard battle
or siege, so we are apt in war-time to free ourselves from
arduous hopes and responsibilities, and to enjoy the
thought that war gives us that freedom as a perquisite.
Then we listen to those who talk most basely and foolishly,
as soldiers, when they are out of hand, will follow the
worst ruffian among them. The leader of thought is
the man who thinks least, the popular prophet is the
one who cannot see an inch in front of his nose ; the
extremest patriot is the most ignorant, the most tired,
the most frightened, among us. For Bemhardism, at
bottom, is fear — ^fear lest there should, after all, be no
meaning in the universe, no sense in the spiritual efforts
of man. The Bernhardist calls this fear facing the
facts, but his facts are really a timid theory, the theory
that faith either in God or in man is a very dangerous
thing. So it is, or it would not be faith. It is the Chris-
tian who obeys Nietzsche's command to live dangerously.
It is the Bernhardist who grows angry at the spectacle
of his rashness.



16






PAPERS FOR WAR TIME



Second Series. Ab-eady published.

13. PATRIOTISM. By the Rev. Pekoy Deaemer, D.D.

14. SPENDING IN WAR TIME. By Professor E. J.
UiiwicK, M.A.

13. CHRISTIANITY AND FORCE. By Professor A. G.
Hogg, M.A.

16. GERMANY AND GERMANS. By Eleanor

McDoUGALE, M.A.

17. PHARISAISM AND WAR. By F. Lenwood, M.A,

18. THE CURE FOR WAR. By A. CLurroN-BiiOCK.

19. OUR NEED OF A CATHOLIC CHURCH. By
the Rev. W. Temple, M.A.

20. WAR, THIS WAR AND THE SERMON ON
THE MOUNT. By Canon B. H. Streeteb, M.A.

21. THE REMOVING OF MOUNTAINS. By the

Author of P70 Christo el Eccleda.


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