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clusions are sometimes drawn: ( 1 ) that foreign in-
vestors and diplomatists are conspirators against
peace; and (2) that those who extend their enter-
prises to foreign lands deserve for their cupidity
to suffer loss if they meet with misfortune.

Neither of these conclusions is founded in fact
or is worthy of acceptance. If all nations should
accept them, there would be an end to all foreign
trade. It is true that foreign investors seek gov-
ernmental protection, and that wise governments
protect foreign investors; but in neither case is
there good ground for accusation of wrong-doing.
The evil is that, instead of promoting the conduct
of international business upon proper business
lines, by international agreement and coopera-
tion, governments, without effectual efforts to
avoid the use of military force, employ it as an
instrument of national commercial success and
territorial expansion; that is, to secure and hold
points of permanent advantage, through political
control of distant and strategical parts of the
earth, for the extension of empire. Exploita-
tion, monopoly, colonization, and conquest are
the successive steps in this procedure.



204 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

To such processes, sustained by military force,
international law and courts of arbitration pre-
sent but feeble barriers. So long as these con-
tinue to be national policies, there will be much
that cannot be brought within the scope of in-
ternational legislation. But is it not evident that
these business interests are proper subjects for
negotiation and conciliation? The moment the
problem of trade is envisaged as a purely business
proposition apart from dynastic considerations,
it is clear that military methods of extending
civilization are not in the true interest of the
people of any country, and not even to the high-
est advantage of the persons who for commercial
reasons encourage them.

It is time, therefore, for business men the
great manufacturers, bankers, ship-owners, and
traders to say to their governments: "We do
not ask you to promote our interests by armies
and navies; we wish you to give us an oppor-
tunity to organize the business of the world on
business lines. While your diplomatists and jur-
ists meet at The Hague to settle questions of
rights, bring us together with your sanction in a
world congress with representatives of other na-



INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION 205

tions to consider our mutual interests. We shall
speak of coal, of iron, of shipping, of the gold
supply, and of their distribution; and we shall
be able to show that if the governments will keep
their hands off and leave our business to us, the
whole world shall be well fed and well warmed
and well clothed; and, at the same time we shall
all, yes all, obtain a greater share of wealth than
we now have or can ever hope to have under the
military system. And when we have ourselves,
as business men, worked out our plans and our
compromises, then we shall ask you to unite, as
governments, to see that the seas are free from
piracy and menace to life and property, and that
we may have the combined force of civilized gov-
ernments behind us to protect us from robbery
and abuse by any one of them."

In brief, an international board of trade con-
ciliation, composed of representative business
men, supplemented by frequent general confer-
ences, with no force behind them but the evi-
dence of facts and the power of persuasion, if
held to complete publicity, could accomplish more
in five years to insure the peace and prosperity of
the world than any secret negotiations by dip-



206 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

lomatists backed by all the armies in existence.
If the business of the world were once frankly
established upon a world basis, community of in-
terest would go far to discourage war, for modern
wars originate chiefly from economic inequalities
and ambitions ; and the agents of economic power,
if they were not in alliance with military force
exercised in the interest of dynastic purposes,
could more easily satisfy them by purely economic
means.

There remain the questions of free waterways
- the paths of world intercourse from which
some nations are excluded, the "open door" in
the countries of still unappropriated markets, and
the tariff walls. These also are business ques-
tions and fit problems for business men, which
the sword can never rightly settle. So far, they
also have been regarded as purely political ques-
tions, and have been treated as such. But all
matters of policy are primarily questions of profit
or expediency and not of right and wrong, al-
though they may involve them. The difference is
important, for right and wrong cannot be com-
promised, while expediency and profit are always
affairs of transaction. There is, therefore, noth-



INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION 207

ing hopeless in such problems, which are matters
to argue about, but not to fight about.

Being an economic as well as a jural problem,
international organization must be worked out by
a combination of governmental and business
agencies. Neither can be entrusted with the en-
tire task. The material needs of mankind can-
not be regulated by rigid legal formulae, which
would impose a despotism too depressing to be
endured. On the other hand, purely business
motives which, if given a free hand, might pro-
duce intolerable commercial trusts, in the end
more powerful than governments, are in need of
legal control. It is by the intelligent cooperation
of these two agencies, the legal and the economic,
for the welfare of mankind, that international or-
ganization will attain its normal ends.



CHAPTER VII

THE CONSTRUCTIVE POWER OF
DEMOCRACY

IN view of its bearing upon the problem of inter-
national organization, one of the fundamental
questions in the great conflict that began in
Europe in 1914 and has now extended to the whole
world appears to be whether autocracy or democ-
racy is finally to prevail. At first apparently a
mere struggle for tribal predominance, the war
has become a battle of institutions and legal sys-
tems. Is the world to be ruled by force or by
law ? And if by law, who is to say what the law
shall be?

No thoughtful man can any longer doubt that
imperialism has destroyed Europe and can never
reconstruct it. The reason is evident. Imperial-
ism means the forcible domination of one nation
over others. Imperial policies not only conflict,

they are intrinsically incapable of reconciliation.

208



POWER OF DEMOCRACY 209

An appeal, therefore, is now made to democracy
to bring peace and order and mutual confidence
out of the chaos that autocratic rule has produced.
All the aspirations for the creation of a truly
human world a world in which general prin-
ciples of justice shall prevail seem to gather
around this word as if it were the only remaining
hope of humanity. Never before has the need of
a great constructive principle in international
affairs been so apparent. Never before has the
opportunity for its employment been so auspi-
cious. Never before has mankind, as if inspired
by a common impulse, so completely broken away
from autocratic traditions. To-day it is a fact
that four-fifths of the habitable surface of the
earth is dedicated to the aspirations of democracy;
and included in this area is at least three-fourths
of the human race. China, with her four hun-
dred million human beings, and Russia, with
nearly two hundred millions, have thrown off the
yoke of absolutism, and joined the great republics
of the West in the stupendous task of national
self-government.

They, too, are in this war for democracy.
What does it mean to them, this old Greek word



210 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

which has had such a short history and yet con-
tains such vast implications? What is the phi-
losophy that lies behind it or within it? What
new direction does it point out? What new en-
ergies does it release? What new ideals does it
set up? What new achievements does it imply?
Shall they be the better or the worse for the work-
ing of this new leaven that seems about to change
the destiny of nations?

If democracy were merely a repudiation of au-
tocracy, a mere escape from authority, a mere
drift into vacuity, it would undoubtedly be a dan-
gerous experiment for any nation to embark upon.
It does, indeed, begin with a demand for liberty,
but this is by no means a negative conception. It
is rather a constructive force. Liberty is the re-
moval of hindrances to the largest, fullest, most
fruitful human activities. But it is not an end,
it is only a condition. And what demands this
condition is the whole volume of human longing
and striving, the reaching out for self-realization
in thought and action. It is, in brief, humanity
pressing onward to its goal.

It is this vast inward urgency that gives sig-



POWER OF DEMOCRACY 211

nificance to democracy. It is imperative, it is
irresistible. By suppressing the individual per-
son, this aspiration may for a time seem to be
destroyed ; but at some unexpected moment it will
break out anew and sweep everything before it.
It is essentially a mass movement. Isolated, the
individual person is timid, circumspect, even ob-
sequious. United, the people are bold, manda-
tory, overwhelming. "The will of the people"
how the demagogue loves to appeal to it, to invoke
it, to inspire it, to utilize it, to appropriate it to
the accomplishment of his purposes! And how
readily it responds to any ardent touch that evokes
its expression! The sense of restraint removed,
the prospect of desires gratified, the impulse of
new-found power what an exaltation, what an
intoxication they produce !

But if this were all, if the change from an auto-
cratic to a democratic regime resulted in nothing
but this elation of spirit, we might be able to ex-
plain the origin of revolutions, but we could not
justify them to our intelligence. When it comes
to a question of political philosophy and we are
asked to establish the substantial excellence of
democracy, we enter an arena of debate in which



212 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

there is a wide field for discussion. Granting the
existence of a high degree of intelligence, there
is no security in that alone. Man is a being of
mixed desires; some of them are good and some
of them are bad. Into what is called "the will of
the people" all of these enter as constituent mo-
tives or impulses. What is to certify that this
will shall be always a good will? How shall we
know that sometimes it may not be base and sel-
fish ? How shall we be sure that the evil may not
predominate over the good, the many over the
few, the vicious over the virtuous, the idle and
the empty-handed over the industrious and the
prudent, What security, it may be asked, has
any principle of right, where the arbitrary will of
an unrestricted majority prevails? Who can be
held responsible for its action? What can re-
strain it from misconduct? Why do we put up
the sign, "Beware of pickpockets" in great assem-
blies, and increase the police force the larger the
crowd becomes ? If as a totality it is honest, why
does the mass of men need to be so carefully
guarded against itself? If life and property are
safer under the protection of a paid agent than
when they are entrusted to the spontaneous im-



POWER OF DEMOCRACY 213

pulses of a multitude, is it not wiser, it will be
demanded, to concentrate unlimited power in the
hands of a capable ruler, set apart for the pur-
pose and placed beyond the influence of ordinary
motives ?

This is, in fact, the thesis of those who
defend the idea of monarchy as a form of govern-
ment. Assuming that a personal sovereign can
be placed and kept beyond the influence of ordi-
nary human motives, the theory has distinct ad-
vantages. Objection to it cannot well be urged
on the ground that it involves a concentration of
power, for this is sometimes necessary to effi-
ciency; and, in great emergencies, like those
created by the present war, it is resorted to by
democracies, also, as the only means of their
preservation. What renders monarchy indefen-
sible in the eyes of democracy is that it recognizes
as supreme a power that is above the law, and
that claims to be an arbitrary source of law. The
protest of democracy against autocracy is not
based on the fact that definite and necessary au-
thority is confided to one man. It is that autoc-
racy consists in the exercise of a power that is not
only not under the restraint of law, but claims



214 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

authority to ignore all law a power that deter-
mines the destinies of men and of whole nations
without regard to any principles of right, treating
them as mere passive instruments of its own aims
and purposes, or of aims and purposes inspired
by those who can influence the sovereign for their
own private and exclusive benefit.

When we go to the bottom of the indictment
against autocracy, it is not at all that one man
represents the will of a whole nation, but that an
arbitrary and lawless will is in command of
dangerous forces, and insists on doing what a
just rule of action would forbid. Every type of
human government must of necessity admit of the
delegation of powers, and it is a matter of no con-
cern to one nation to whom another nation dele-
gates those powers. The whole issue centers
around the question, What is the source and
measure of rightful authority?

What democracy asserts and autocracy denies
is that all rightful authority in human govern-
ments is derived from the nature of the human
beings who are to be governed. When, there-
fore, Autocracy declares, "I create the law because



POWER OF DEMOCRACY 215

I am strong/' Democracy replies, "It is justice,
not strength, that should create the law."

What then is the origin of law? Historically
rules of action have been laid down by those who
have had the power to enforce them. Before such
rules were consciously and specifically formulated,
law consisted in the customs of the groups or
societies in which they had come to be adopted as
the usual modes of action. In the societies where
conquest or other forms of ascendancy had pro-
duced a personal ruler, they were the edicts or
decrees of the ruler and his counselors. These
forms of obedience were imposed upon subject
peoples and accompanied with the prospect of
penalties to be inflicted if they were not regarded.
To the historical school of legal philosophy, there-
fore, law is simply the sum of those rules of action
which have an outward sanction. It is an ex-
pression of sovereign will. It is a trophy of
power. Whoever can enforce his will can make
the law. With morality and abstract right it has
nothing whatever to do. If it is just, it is not
because law is essentially just, but because it has
happened to be prescribed in a spirit of justice.



216 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

It is, in fact, often unjust; but, just or unjust, it
is expedient to obey it, for, like the laws of the
natural world, it is a part of the environment in
which we live, and the consequences of obedience
and disobedience are reasonably sure to follow.

From this theory of the nature of law is derived
an equally arbitrary theory of the nature of the
state. Etymologically, it is the status, the condi-
tion which the sovereign has imposed. The phi-
losophers of course could not neglect so interesting
a subject of speculation, and some of them have
represented it as a kind of self-subsisting entity,
an emanation of a metaphysical absolute, an in-
carnation of divinity, and even as a huge levia-
than, a natural organism of which the monarch
is the head, and of which the ordinary person is
only a subordinate molecule. Autocracy has
eagerly appropriated these conceptions as furnish-
ing a convenient vehicle for imposing its preten-
sions by making itself seem to be a part of the
order of nature. Wishing to screen itself from
the exactions of morality as well as from the judg-
ments of the intellect, it has enveloped itself in
the impenetrable mysteries of religion, thus ren-



POWER OF DEMOCRACY 217

dering itself unapproachable by the common man,
and wholly inscrutable to the ordinary mind.

Democracy has irreverently swept aside this
veil of metaphysical mysticism. For it law is to
be discovered in the nature of man as a personal
and social being. It is something other than the
sum of sovereign decrees. It is a revelation of
mutual obligations. Like the truths of nature
it is an object of unending research. Its basic
principles like geometric axioms are intuitions
of universal reason. It springs from inherent
personal rights, and issues in social duties. It is
preeminently a principle of intelligence. It finds
its standards in universal rational conceptions like
those of justice and equity. It has never yet at-
tained perfect expression, but it is an ever-present
mandate of nature, which, like a flowing stream,
rushes on amid new and changing scenes, as vari-
able in its content as the growing needs of men,
but as firm in the indications of its direction as the
granite walls that bound the course of a mighty
river on its journey to the sea.

It is this idea of law as a persistent human ideal
that has determined democracy's conception of the
state, which is not a self-subsisting entity, and



218 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

not like society a purely natural product, but a
creation of the mind and purpose of man. It
belongs to the category of legal relations rather
than to that of material substance. Its only sub-
stantial components are the wills of human per-
sons. If there were no people, there would be no
state.

Historically, it is true, the state has consisted
chiefly in a relation of subordination between the
persons ruled and the persons who ruled them.
It was a status produced by the domination of the
weak by the strong. It is historically correct,
therefore, to speak of the state as "a creation of
force," and of sovereignty, which is its essence,
as "supreme power." This is the state as autoc-
racy would maintain it, the creation of arbitrary
power beyond the jurisdiction of any binding law,
and without any form of responsibility.

For democracy the state has an entirely differ-
ent meaning. It is a status produced not by force,
but by voluntary consent. It is the expression of
what is most vital and essential in the nature of
man as a moral and social being. As law is de-
rived from principles inherent in rational intelli-
gence, the state is an embodiment of law in per-



POWER OF DEMOCRACY 219

manent institutions. Both the law and the state
rest on the axiom of inherent personal rights to
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Autocracy speaks as if life itself belonged to
the individual person only through an act of
grace. In fact it proclaims openly that the state
is the sole creator of rights, and what it has cre-
ated it may also take away. Democracy reverses
these relations, and declares that government is
created by the consent of the governed. Priority
therefore belongs to the individual person, be-
cause society is wholly composed of individual
persons, in whom alone is to be found either a
basis or a consciousness of rights. Not, indeed,
persons in isolation or as abstract entities, for
men have never existed in separation from society
into which all are born and of which all form a
part. It is from the nature of human beings ex-
isting in communities that democracy derives its
theory of rights, but it is not from the fact of
"social solidarity" that it can be deduced. That
fact alone contains no implication of rightful
authority, or of any moral qualities whatever.
Each person in a community might still be a
member of it without observing any rule but his



220 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

own interest if that were the general disposition.
A distinction between right and wrong could
never be deduced from such a community. Such
a distinction exists only for the individual mind
and conscience and can be predicated only of
individual minds and consciences capable of
knowing their own rights and the duties correla-
tive to such rights.

If the state cannot be founded on the mere fact
of social solidarity, it is even less possible to base
it upon the fiction of a self-subsistent "social con-
sciousness," for such a consciousness does not
exist. There is in a community a general con-
sensus of ideas and sentiments, but it inheres in
the minds of its individual members only. To
them it has the quality of a law for conduct, and
the expression of it becomes the solid foundation
of the state. Its value is to be found in the fact
that it is recognized to be an embodiment of jus-
tice, and may therefore be generally accepted
without resort to violence. Being the composite
formula of their united conceptions of their rights,
obedience to it may be secured with a minimum
of penalty.

But if it is true that a just government is a



POWER OF DEMOCRACY 221

creation of the governed, the question is pressed
upon us, How far may some individual persons
rightly enforce their own private wills upon other
individual persons? If there is any rightful
authority in government, it must be derived from
beings who believe themselves to possess inherent
rights because they distinguish between right and
\\Tong in conduct. What inherent rights then do
some possess which do not belong to all? And
what principle can be adopted as a standard of
judgment unless it is universal ?

We perceive, therefore, that, while autocracy
has no solid moral foundation, the triumph of de-
mocracy involves a principle of self-abnegation
which not all the advocates of its desirability are
willing to accept. The people cannot logically
take over and exercise the absolute and unlimited
authority which they have repudiated. We are
compelled to recognize the fact that when it comes
to imposing an absolute will upon a person to an
extent that robs him of an inherent right like
that to life, liberty, or property, it makes no prac-
tical difference whether that deprivation is ef-
fected by one or a few or a majority of his fellow-



222 THE REBUILDING OF EUROPE

beings, since in all these cases he is equally di-
vested of his right. When the state does this, no
matter what the form of government may be, it
becomes despotic, and its tyranny is as odious
under one disguise as under another.

It is necessary, therefore, for democracy to plant
itself firmly and unalterably upon the rights of
the individual person and the doctrine that gov-
ernment exists to secure these rights. Unless it
stands upon this foundation, it has no ground of
protest against autocracy, and it has no means of
self-justification. A society may transform itself
into a predatory band, but, however numerous of
powerful it may be, it is impossible to identify
such a band with the democratic conception of the
state. A true democracy can neither oppress the
poor nor rob the rich, for it is based on equal laws
for all. If it were not loyal to the right of every
man, no matter how humble or how fortunate, it
would repudiate its own basis of authority. It
might, when supported by great majorities, be
very formidable, even irresistible, but, although
by means of its power it could enforce obedience,
it could not command our respect or inspire our
loyalty.



POWER OF DEMOCRACY 223

The right of a government to claim legitimacy
and to demand that its authority be respected is
in no sense founded upon its power, but upon its
purpose, and that purpose must be the protection
of all human rights. Everything else is pure as-
sumption. And there are in the world no rights
that are not in some sense inherent in persons, or
in some manner derived from them. Eliminate
the human being from your order of ideas, and
you have not only rendered rightful authority an
illusion, you have also destroyed altogether the
sole foundation for the conception of right, and
reduced the whole fabric of society to a complex
of purely mechanical relations.

If this be true, there is no human being, no mat-
ter how poor or feeble or helpless, who does not,
by virtue of the nature and dignity of personality
possess inherent rights and claims to just consider-
ation which the most overwhelming majorities
cannot take away without the logical destruction
of their own right to formulate the law; for the
right to make law has no other solid foundation
than this, that it consists simply and solely in the
right to protect personal rights by placing the
whole force of the community behind them.


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Online LibraryDavid Jayne HillThe rebuilding of Europe : a survey of forces and conditions → online text (page 11 of 15)