Eustace Percy Percy of Newcastle.

The responsibilites of the League online

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writer will perhaps arise who will tell this story
as it ought to be told, as the last attempt to
preserve, not any mere uniformity of doctrine or
Church government, but that social unity of
civilisation which could alone guarantee the
peace of the world. Such a writer may perhaps
compare the wars that have convulsed Europe
since the days of Luther with the constant feuds
and barbarities of the Middle Ages, and he may
find it hard to resist the conclusion that we are
infinitely further from the hope of peace to-day
than was the Christendom of the thirteenth
century. Mediaeval Christendom was torn by
the lawless ambitions of ignorance, but it has
remained for an emancipated Europe to exhibit
the deliberate rivalries of knowledge.

This aspect of history is worth considering,
because it is perhaps the gravest question of the


present day what part in the anarchy of the
family of nations has been played by the
nationalisation of education in the past
hundred years. The Reformation split the
stream of European culture, in Northern and
Central Europe at any rate, into divergent
channels. Culture became national long before
formal state education was dreamt of, but that
policy has put the finishing touches to the
process. The contrast appears at its strongest
in history with the political emergence of
Russia, the product of a far more ancient schism.
Here the control of Church by State may in a
sense be said to have demonstrated, at a com-
paratively early date and in an extreme form,
some of the dangers to which state education,
founded on national aims and political ideals,
must always be liable. But this example is
perhaps too far fetched and too much com-
plicated by other factors to convey any clear
warning. A far more striking instance may be
seen, at the other end of the political scale, in the
United States, where education, divorced, abso-
lutely and as a matter of principle, from every
religious influence, has been deliberately based
on the cult of the flag and necessarily so in
face of the gigantic task of assimilation and
national union imposed on a new, rapidly
expanding and, in a sense, loosely organised
society, tinged by every variety of racial
tradition. But Germany will always remain
the classic example and warning of these dangers.
What obstacles are thus being built against the
unifying action of the League ? Can the state,


the almost universal guardian of education
to-day, teach anything else but a state
philosophy, or turn men's eyes to any wider
obligations than those of citizenship ?

Many find a ready answer to this question in
the influence of modern science. There is
indeed a community of scientific research
between all nations, and it does make itself felt
to a certain extent in a growing uniformity of
teaching and outlook amongst civilised peoples.
In some branches, especially perhaps in medi-
cine, it had created before the war real inter-
national centres of learning. But it has become
sufficiently evident that between this and
popular education there is a great gulf fixed.
The international position of Heidelberg as a
centre of medical teaching brought no breath
of air from the outside world into the system of
education by which the German people were
moulded into national self-sufficiency. Science,
indeed, bids fair to fail of its effect through
enlistment in the service of politics. Not only
does " applied science " occupy a larger and
larger place in education, but the " application "
tends increasingly to be made to the study of
political societies. Sociology, economics, law
and political science are modern structures into
which every scientific discovery is industriously
built by searchers after a " new social syn-
thesis/' and increasing emphasis is put on those
branches of science, such as psychology, most
easily handled for this purpose. Political
science, which at Oxford is tucked away in a
corner of history, where the student, after close


examination of the ninepin of the " social con-
tract/' knocks it down with Maine's " Ancient
Law/' becomes in the University of Wisconsin
a somewhat tumultuous study of the problems
of the modern state, covering any field of
science or policy, from forestry to the history
of labour unionism, from constitutional law to
the Mendelian theory, which the lecturer or the
student may feel called upon the explore. The
modest nineteenth century experiment in the
comparison of " Physics and Politics " has grown
into monumental treatises such as those of the
American school led by the late Professor Lester
Ward, and scraps of the science of heredity are
hurriedly embodied in laws for the sterilisation
of criminals and " defectives." The founders
of the School of Economics of the University of
London are not far from asserting it as that
University's proudest claim to recognition that
it aims at making all knowledge the handmaid
of the state.

The results of this tendency are twofold. In
the first place, the greater the volume of know-
ledge and the greater the effort to concentrate it
in the " noblest study of mankind," the more
necessary and the more elaborate does the task
of education become. In the second place, the
last step in applied science is the application of
sociology itself. The student eagerly seeks a
field for experiment, the professor for demonstra-
tion. The only possible agent alike of education
and application is the state, and it is to the
state that this course of inquiry and teaching
inevitably turns men's eyes. Moreover, while


the scientist strictly so-called is often the most
modest of mortals, the sociological heirs of his
discoveries are at present in a stage of dog-
matism, which leads them to insist on authority
and uniformity in education hardly less strongly
than the disciples of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Such a mood cannot be satisfied by any system
of education based merely on state endow-
ment, even if that system could be forced on
the modern taxpayer. It demands state con-
trol and demands it in a form dangerously
reminiscent of the German precedent. That
precedent is often alluded to with horror, but it
is seldom analysed. It is true that the British
and American character is little likely to pro-
duce any such conscious teaching of state
supremacy as enabled German rulers to mould
their people to their ambitions, but that is
only half the German system. The stifling of
originality and initiative, the creation of blind
sides to the whole national character, which
marks modern Germany, is the product of
uniformity, quite apart from the direction
which that uniformity may take, and it is
difficult to see how any state education can
avoid the same danger.

The only country where this problem is being
raised in an acute form at the present moment
is the United States, because there alone state
education, having been established at a par-
ticularly early date in the life of the nation, has
not only, as in all countries, lagged behind
modern thought, but has come into more or
less direct opposition to it at various points.


Moreover, even where state control is absent,
the private control of founders has tended
in many cases to be close and obscurantist.
Hence has arisen something like an insur-
rection in the universities against State
Departments of Education and private boards
of trustees. In Europe the elements of such a
revolt are, in great degree, absent, and modern
thought tends rather to enforce its own
pontifical claims through the agency of the

The Cobdenites were at first sight more
reasonable when they put their trust in the
free play of commerce as the agent of inter-
national friendship and good- will. They were
far-sighted enough to see, as socialism failed to
see, that the extension of the functions of the
state and the increase of its power must be a
barrier to community of thought and feeling
across its frontiers, but they made the mistake
of attempting to limit the state at just those
points where, in the last resort, its responsibili-
ties are the greatest and the most elementary.
The slowness of other nations to follow England's
free trade policy, the growth of socialist thought
and the conversion of Cobden's followers to
every form of interference in the processes of
industry and commerce, save only in the matter
of tariffs, all combine to show that no political
society can divest itself of responsibility for the
livelihood and living conditions of its people.
At the same time, Cobdenite teaching did
enormous service in directing attention to the
international character of commerce and in


allowing time for the development of trade
relations to a point where their effective control
by any single state is clearly seen to be im-
possible. If, indeed, there are to-day any
ethical standards of any kind, good or bad,
common to all Christendom, they are those
that regulate commercial competition. It is
the fashion with " advanced " thought to assume
that these standards are low, if not positively
corrupt, but certain provisions of the peace
treaties, such as the conversion of mark debts
into sterling, would probably have been modi-
fied considerably if they had been submitted
to commercial instead of to political judgment.
Already before the war these standards tended
to be embodied in rudimentary forms of inter-
national organisations. It was perhaps one
of the least foreseen consequences of a free
trade doctrine which tended to regard com-
petition as a thing desirable in itself that,
wherever industry and commerce have been
left free, they have been forced into com-
binations of one kind or another for the
regulation of competition, for the restriction
of production and, in effect, to use the ancient
phrase, for restraint of trade. The war broke
up many of the international organisations
thus brought into being, substituting for cartels,
rings and year-to-year understandings a direct
state guidance of production and direct inter-
government arrangements for the exchange
of commodities. Such war measures are
necessarily temporary, but the question is now
being raised, even by some of the strongest



opponents of state socialism, state trading and
state interference whether the habit of inter-
government conferences on trade relations thus
engendered should be allowed to die, whether
the League of Nations has no functions to per-
form in surveying from time to time the field
of international industry and commerce, not only,
as in the organisation created by Chapter XIII
of the Peace Treaty, from the point of view
of labour standards, but also from that of supply
and demand. Other voices insist on the older
question, already a burning one before the war,
what should be the relation of governments
to the trade of their citizens with undeveloped
states and backward races. That question
is raised by the colonial mandates and by the
revival of the scheme for an international loan
to China.

Whatever answer may eventually be given
to such questions, there is one fact which
Englishmen and Americans especially, in their
prevailing eagerness to rid themselves of govern-
ment controls over trade, will do well to remem-
ber that the clearest expression of a common
spirit in the Christendom of to-day has come
through the relief and reconstruction work
undertaken or planned under the authority of
the Supreme Economic Council. If during the
coming twelve months or two years of continued
shortage, high prices and maladjustment be-
tween supply and demand the system of inter-
government deliberation, embodied in that
Council, is abolished or falls, as it has almost
fallen at this moment, into an " innocuous


desuetude/' its passing will be regarded by
many of the weaker nations as the extinction
of the last spark of active international sym-
pathy and conscious international responsibility.
Moreover, the citizens of the Great Powers, as
they come at last to realise what so many of
their statesmen seem as yet incapable of
grasping, that national governments, attempting
each alone to cope with profiteering and
high prices, cannot touch the producer or the
primary distributor and can only fall upon the
retailer, may well come to regard the League
with contempt or distrust if it fails to make any
attempt to embody some measure of inter-
national economic co-operation. But, what-
ever may be the policy of the League itself in
this respect, international industry and com-
merce will remain the greatest power for good
or evil during the first years of the League.
In the very first stages of peace, the recon-
struction of the devastated areas can be used,
as it is already too often being used, to cloak
competitive designs of national commercial
expansion or, without demanding any impossible
alliance between altruism and business, it may
be made the opportunity for a measured
exhibition of international good-will.

But neither reason nor historical analogy
encourages us to build any extravagant hopes
on this foundation. International commerce
will supply a powerful instrument to a League
conscious of joint responsibilities, but a true
spirit of Christendom can hardly take its rise
so near the mainsprings of self-interest, so


close to the centre of the struggle for existence.
In national life the vanity of syndicalism
and guild socialism as agents for peace and
prosperity is being clearly enough demon-
strated to-day, and in international life nations
are inevitably influenced by motives of self-
interest even stronger and more justifiable
than those which animate craft unions or
professional associations. In the period of
recovery from the wastage of war this self-
interest tends to operate on national policy
almost with the intensity of panic. The same
is true of all other schemes of international
co-operation. In so far as such schemes are
practical they fall within the scope of the policy
of joint responsibilities, to be worked out in
detail by appropriate organs of the League.
If they are not practical, if they do not represent
an immediate and universal need, the history of
Anglo-German relations before the war suffi-
ciently shows how frivolous are parades of
international amity in relation to the political
tendencies of nations. The only lesson which
in this sphere the League should learn is to avoid
undue formalism or officialism in working out the
policy of joint responsibilities or in drawing up
proposals for new international institutions.
The recognition accorded by the Covenant to
the International Red Cross is a precedent that
should be followed in encouraging the formation
of voluntary international associations and in
enlisting their services. Not only will the
co-operation thus achieved prove in many cases
much more vital and far-reaching than direct


inter-government conference, but, further, the
League may well find in such voluntary bodies
the germs of a better international parliament
than could be constructed by the mere appli-
cation of orthodox representative principles.

But all such expedients lag far behind the
hopes we are discussing. It is not thus that we
can recapture the spirit of a united Christendom.
The root of the problem lies in education itself
and in the agency by which education is directed.
No one now questions the duty of the state, under
present conditions, to provide for the mental
development of its citizens and few wiK deny
that to-day this is its most urgent and difficult
responsibility. But, for this very reason, it
behoves us no longer to shirk the question of
the direction in which such education may lead
and to subject our established ideas of the form it
should take to the gravest re-examination.
In a very real sense, indeed, all social health
depends upon a certain severance between
government and culture, and especially so in
days like ours when government is becoming
more and more a continual effort to provide
practical means for the attainment of concrete
ends. There is much cant in the virtuous
revolt in all allied countries during the war
against Treitschke's doctrine of the State as
Power, just as there was much hypocrisy before
the war in the orthodox rejection of Austin's
naked theory of force as the basis of govern-
ment. Sometimes, usually in the youth of
nations, at such moments as the Elizabethan
era in England or the days of Pericles at Athens,,


men's eyes may turn for a few brief years to
their government, not as an agent of policy
or reform, but simply as a centre of life. At
such times the state stimulates the heart and
brain of its citizens, just because it does not
seek to enlist them in definite services. It
exists for no special or immediate end, but as
an end in itself, the realisation of a common
life. Its citizens go forth to their labour until
the evening ; lesser associations are formed
for the satisfaction of material needs, the
attainment of concrete ambitions, and, the
labour done, the aims secured, the state remains
as a wider communion in which the mind,
wearied by achievement, may be reabsorbed
and refreshed. But these are not our days.
The modern state is no serene constellation
which, though it " nothing does but shine,
moves all the labouring surges of the world."
It is, in hard practical fact, the application of
power to the organisation and regulation of
society. It is inevitably guided by considera-
tions, not of what should rightly be done,
but of what can justly be enforced. As the
scope of its compulsion grows, liberty of thought
comes increasingly to depend on the existence
of independent bodies of opinion to which
minorities can in the last resort appeal, not to
support them in resistance or secession, but to
justify them in dissent. So far from attempting
to engross all education in its own hands, the
state should do its utmost to encourage and
countenance independent effort among its
citizens, both in schools and universities, and


the League may perhaps find opportunities
for encouraging private international co-opera-
tion in the same direction.

It is here that we meet, in frontal attack,
the idea of the international revolution. The
international community which the revolutionary
hungers after is a universal state on the modern
plan, a comprehensive agency for the enforce-
ment of radical reforms. Its results could not
be the revival of a common spirit ; it must
on the contrary extinguish the last hope of
a common culture, making political effort for
immediate and definite ends the be-all and
end-all of human existence. From this point
of view the maintenance of separate state
sovereignties, the doctrine of commonwealth
and union, becomes the last safeguard of a
free spirit in Christendom ; and it is perhaps
from this point of view that the work of edu-
cation should chiefly be approached. For
states are not historically the initiators of
this work nor are they free agents in it.
They are joint heirs of a wider community
of thought and morals, and through it of ideas
and standards of life which, though buried deep
under the accumulated structure of our science
and our philosophy, " are yet the fountain
light of all our day." The preservation of this
heritage and its development once more in the
direction of a wider communion are perhaps
in a very real sense the only titles to state
authority in education and the only hope for
an enduring League of Nations.

There is, however, a special way in which


the state itself can build a bridge from national
sovereignty to international obligations. At
the end of the last chapter reference was made
to the essential functions of each national
parliament in controlling and directing the
League through the responsible Cabinet Ministers
representing it on the Council. The League
cannot, indeed, secure any measure of success
or contribute anything to the maintenance of
peace unless, through the operation of the
Council, foreign policy and international
obligations come to play a far larger part in
the programmes of parties and governments
than they have ever done, at least in Britain
and America, in the past. The first step in
this direction is to place " policy " in foreign
affairs in its correct perspective as a thing
absolutely and wholly dependent on domestic
policy, as a matter not of " attitudes " but of
concrete duties and efforts. Here again our
vision is apt to be clouded by our reluctance
to confess that the State is, in a very real sense,
Power. The second chapter of this essay
consisted of an attempt to show that British
failures in foreign policy in the past and the
ineffectiveness of the Peace Conference have
been due not so much to the indecisions of our
statesmen in foreign policy as to their decisions
in home policy decisions of economy, demobili-
sation and so forth which accurately represented
the overwhelming desires of the British people.
Reforms in our diplomatic service can never
avail to create a " democratic " diplomacy,
for that phrase means a diplomacy in which


the people, through their constitutional organs,
take an active interest and a deliberate part.
In the past this issue has been confused by
controversies as to " imperialism," but to-day
much of the " anti-imperialist " sentiment in
Britain is revealing itself as a definite reluctance
to recognise in practice the claims of one nation
upon another for assistance and protection.
Such assistance and protection must always
be a heavy and unwelcome burden, and it is
vain to seek to escape from such burdens by
conjuring up an " international police force "from
nowhere in particular, or by verbal sympathy
and demands for a different " tone " in diplo-
matic conversations. The State is Power, but
power given for the help of others. The surest
path to the spirit of Christendom is indicated
in the words of a diplomatist written at the
beginning of the war : " The British citizen
who thinks diplomacy a mystery beyond him
and the American citizen who thinks it a
mummery beneath him are only right in so far
as they themselves have made it so. Inter-
national politics will suffer as much through
being cut off from the common sense and
conscience of citizens and committed entirely
to professionals as do municipal politics.
' Humani nil a me alienum puto ' should be
translated by every intelligent citizen as ' I
will treat nothing of human import as a foreign
question/ '

And behind this lies another need of the age,
the need in all affairs of government of that
appeal to ultimate standards of judgment which


we have seen as the final background of Lincoln's
doctrine of union. As political science increas-
ingly turns the eyes of the educated away from
a priori moralities, as the intensification of
political institutions involves all problems of
government in a more and more tangled web
of debate and intricate argument, the popular
instinct swings more and more passionately
towards simpler tests of thought and action.
By misunderstanding that instinct our states-
men lost their leadership in the war ; only by
responding to it can they regain their leadership
in peace. In recognising it, commonwealth and
union affirm an authority greater than their own
and the members of the family of nations may
find that, in establishing their national rule on
foundations firmer than reasons of state or
reasonings of philosophy, they have erected
also a common standard of political action and
have gone far to revive in Western civilisation
a common spirit.


" Expectans expectavi.'



" And is this all that was to be ?
Where is the gloriously decisive change,
Metamorphosis the immeasurable
Of human clay to divine gold, we looked
Should, in some poor sort, justify its price ? J


A REASONED study of the peace and of the
League of Nations can only lead to modest
conclusions. Such conclusions will, indeed,
be judged very differently by those few who
have actually moved in the tangled growth
of modern international relations and by those,

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Online LibraryEustace Percy Percy of NewcastleThe responsibilites of the League → online text (page 18 of 20)