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Peril of Hifalutin






Copyright, 1918, by

JUN 26 1318






I. The Duty of Criticism 3

II. The Use and Abuse of Partisanship . 8

III. The Art of Administration .... 14

IV. The Peril of Hifalutin 29

V. Ultra-Radicalism and the War ... 37

VI. " American Bolsheviki ' ' 43

VII. Ultra-Idealism and Diplomacy ... 51

VIII. Sentimentality and Reality ... 59

IX. Immigration and Labor 67

X. Reform and Restraint 72

XI. The English-Speaking Alliance . . 77

XII. Japan, Russia and the War .... 93

XIII. America, Japan and the War . . . 101

XIV. China, America and Japan .... 107
XV. War Diplomacy in Latin America . 113

XVI. The Colombian Treaty 117

XVII. Equity vs. Ruthlessness 134

XVIII. Socialization 145



XIX. New Nationalism 158

XX. A British Programme ...... 176

XXI. Human Nature and Social Theory . 193

XXII. An American View 209

XXIII. The War of the Unborn 216

XXIV. Some Phases of Foreign Policy . . 226
XXV. Faith and Works 234

Appendix: "Dollar Diplomacy' ' . . 240


The object of this little volume is to emphasize
the need of attention by the average American to the
necessity of a realistic and practical consideration of
our national problems and to warn against the dan-
gers to America in meeting such problems, namely,
the dangers of hifalutinism, of unsound idealism, of
wild radicalism, and of ultra-conservatism. If
America is to be made safe, whether in war or in
peace, the average American in his overwhelming
numbers must rise up and combat these perils. If
the average American fails to study the nation's
questions and to acquire and insist upon a realistic
and practical point of view in dealing with them,
then he himself will bring upon his country the
crowning peril of all; he will write down public in-
difference as the epitaph of democracy with constitu-
tional liberty through republican representative gov-

A desire to contribute, however slightly, to a reali-
zation of the perils mentioned, and to a realization of


the fact that only by vigilance and study can the
average American combat them and himself help re-
move the unbounded peril of popular indifference, is
the excuse for making the following comment avail-
able in convenient form. It will be quite evident that
no pretense is made of an exhaustive study of the sub-
jects treated. The aim is rather to try to develop a
realistic, practical and really American viewpoint;
to call attention to a few typical questions which are
the battle ground on which hifalutinism, unsound
idealism, wild radicalism, and ultra-conservatism are
to be fought ; and to set forth some observations upon
these matters which it is hoped may possibly be of
some slight suggestive value.

My thanks are due the editor of the Public
Ledger for his kind permission to include in this book
various articles which appeared in that newspaper.
There is included, also, as an appendix, a monograph
from the Annals of the American Academy of Po-
litical and Social Science, November, 1916. Its at-
tempted analysis of the relation of Government to
foreign investment comprises some discussion of
American diplomacy, — especially of the much misun-
derstood "dollar diplomacy,' ' to which allusion is
made in the text.

Huntington Wilson.

Philadelphia, April 30, 1918,


The Peril of Hifalutin


It is a duty of citizenship to give thought very
earnestly to many questions of means to win the war
and also to many large questions of policy that now
brood over the future of our country. ' ' Stand behind
the President/ ' " Don't rock the boat," etc., are good
enough cries in their place ; but they cannot be made
conveniently to cover the multitude of all our sins.
To make of them an excuse for the indolent shirking
of thought and responsibility is to abuse them.

At this time the one paramount national aim is vic-
tory over the Teutonic power. The President sym-
bolizes that national aim. In it all citizens worthy the
name give the Administration whole-hearted, unmur-
muring support — ready to go "to the last man and
to the last dollar. " But this is not the citizen's whole
duty. To win the war is the country's substantive
policy. It is its policy in re. That is beyond ques-
tioning discussion. Questioning discussion of it dam-



ages the national interest and is unpatriotic. Along-
side but distinct from that is the broad field of the
country's adjective policy, its policy in modo. In
this field fall questions of efficiency in ways and
means, and there also may be placed questions of
policy concatenated with our new associations, prob-
lems and relations, present and future, arising out of
the war and out of our paramount policy to help win
the war. This field is a proper field for discussion.
In this field it is not questioning discussion, but the
neglect of it, that may damage the national interest
and that is unpatriotic. Here lie many matters that
must not drift to decision through default of any clear
mandate of public opinion. If the President seeks
to reflect public opinion rather than to lead it, how
shall he be guided if public opinion remain unin-
formed or inarticulate? Here is what the President
himself has said on this subject:

"I can imagine no greater disservice to the country
than to establish a system of censorship that would
deny to the people of a free republic like our own
their indisputable right to criticize their own public
officials. While exercising the great powers of the
office I hold, I would regret in a crisis like the one
through which we are now passing to lose the benefit
of patriotic and intelligent criticism.' '

To the ordinary powers of the Executive Congress
has by law added almost limitless ones. Unlike Ger-


many, we have no legislative committee to participate
in the framing of policies. Unlike France and Brit-
ain, we have no cabinet responsible to our Legislature.
Unlike any other democratic country, our Cabinet
cannot "fall" except at four-year intervals; our
Cabinet secretaries are not interrogated on the floor
of the House or Senate; we have no "appeal to the
country' * through special elections; we have no non-
geographical means of electing to our Legislature the
wisest heads if they have failed of election in one
constituency; we have no coalition cabinets.

To a less degree than almost any other country
have we a population habituated to close study, con-
scious responsibility, keen interest and intellectual
conviction on a national scale upon political and dip-
lomatic subjects. In this unique situation, without the
patriotic and intelligent criticism which he bespeaks,
the position in which the President has been placed
must become intolerable in the appalling responsi-
bility of an almost autocratic isolation. Honest men
will find a clear enough war-time rule, which may
perhaps be put thus : Honest, constructive and patri-
otic criticism in modo; unmurmuring, unquestioning
support in re (i. e., prosecuting the war for victory
over the Teutonic power).

Acting upon some such rule the nation will give
no aid nor comfort to the enemy. It will also put all
its intellectual and moral power, as it has already put


its physical and financial power, behind the Govern-
ment to win the war. Thus will the nation perform
an almost equally important duty by not withholding
from its officials the advantage of the thought and
feeling of the country upon all means to the end of
victory and upon all the great questions of policy,
which are incidental to the war and which it will be
absolutely disastrous to our future to leave to the
chance of any human being's personal predilection, or
to drift, or to ephemeral expediency, or to haphazard
determination through lack of the mandate of public

The press, the public men and the publicists of
the United States, in the very fineness of their sturdy
patriotism, are in danger of erring on the side of
slighting that more laborious part of their duty — the
duty of constructive criticism and suggestion.

Are the vast powers so generously accorded by the
Congress being translated into swift action by skill-
fully co-ordinated administrative machinery? Is the
labor problem being solved ? Is the shipbuilding pro-
gramme progressing as well as it can possibly be made
to progress? Is the agricultural programme per-
fected? Are our relations with the British empire
being given their proper place as the cornerstone of
a permanent understanding of the English-speaking
peoples, which should be the fundamental of our


future policy, the keystone and the solid nucleus of a
league in defense of our kind of civilization?

Such are examples of questions of means and ques-
tions of policy linked to, but distinct from, the para-
mount and unquestionable policy of prosecuting the
war to victory, in which latter the nation is bound to
unanimity. People outside the Government are gen-
erally not very accurately informed in the wide field
of those lesser questions of modes of action and of
corollary policies. They take a great deal on faith.
To do so is good. Never had an Executive a freer
hand in a great task. But faith cannot take the
place of watchfulness and of constructive criticism
and suggestion on the part of the nation 's leaders and
the country's press as a steadying help and an inspira-
tion to the Government in its trusteeship of the vast
interests of the nation. The safeguarding of the
nation's vast interests and the real furtherance of
the Government's efficiency in the promotion of those
interests alike demand honest, fearless, patriotic and
constructive criticism.



How, then, is public opinion to be brought to bear
in a way to promote attainment of the aim of the
war and to help bring the policies and ways and
means pursued by the Government up to ever higher
standards of wisdom, foresight and efficiency? How
is really constructive criticism to gain a hearing and
to effect anything? Individual citizens can do little.
Press and periodicals and such organizations as the
National Security League, the American Defense
League, the American Rights League, and others, par-
ticularly if they work together, can do more. But it
is admittedly difficult for any of these to reach the
Administration under present conditions. Thus it is
to the Congress as a forum and to a political party
as an organ that public opinion must look for means
to become effectively articulate. And this fact in-
vites honest, unsentimental consideration of the ques-
tion of the rights and wrongs of partisanship in this
perilous time of war. Perhaps there can be found



here, too, a formula as clear as the one already found
to divide beneficial from injurious criticism.

It is easy enough to waive aside all partisanship as
wrong. A fine patriotic impulse commends so hand-
some a gesture ; but a dangerous habit of not bother-
ing about important distinctions, even when they in-
troduce essential differences, may lead to danger, if
every meaning of "partisanship" is to be indiscrimi-
nately banned. It is a sad commentary upon the
political life of this country that the acquired mean-
ing of "partisanship" and "party politics" is so
largely that of adopting opinions, standing for poli-
cies, and, whether in office or in opposition, striving,
condemning, attitudinizing and contriving with a view
to keeping or to gaining power merely for power's
sake. Good Americans will have no patience in these
days with such merely selfish partisanship. Without
virtue in itself, it may in time of peace work some
incidental good; but in time of grave crisis it should
be treated with equal contempt whenever found to
characterize the party in office or the party out of

But partisanship has another meaning. It is tak-
ing sides upon questions of policy. Aside from the
national war aim, as to which there can be no two
opinions, the whole field of policies and of ways and
means is as open to honest patriotic and constructive
difference of opinion as it is to such criticism. Such


opinion, jointly held by those like-minded, becomea
justified partisanship. Expressed in political action,
it becomes justified party politics, — something quite
different in quality and purpose from the selfish
" partisanship " and "party polities' ' of popular
phrase, which is so rightly condemned. A safe cri-
terion would seem to be this: — Attack or opposition
by reason of partisanship is to be condemned ; attack
or opposition by compelling reason of patriotic duty,
based on conscientious conviction, is to be commended.
If it gains efficiency in being done through an organ-
ized political party, it should be all the more com-
mended, even though it may then be called in one
sense partisan. There is slight danger indeed that a
single-minded patriotism will not always be circum-
spect, in the discharge of the duty of criticism by a
political party, to measure with a due regard to the
adventitious effects of the action taken the good
sought to be achieved.

The efficiency and wisdom of men and of measures
are the two legitimate subjects for cleavage of po-
litical opinion. In such countries as France and
Great Britain, where the machinery of democratic
government is more resilient and more constantly ac-
cessible to public opinion, we have seen such cleavages
arise during the war and work beneficial changes in
both fields. In our own more rigid system, in which
executive personnel is fixed for four-year periods and


is only slightly touched by the Senate's confirming
power or by the potentialities of possible legislative
thumb-screws, political action as to personnel is con-
fined almost entirely to elections to the Congress at
fixed intervals.

Thus, in the United States, political party action is
mostly remitted, between elections, to questions of
policy. In a country so evenly divided in party mem-
bership it would be absurd to assume that official
opinion or the opinion of one political party, could
alone be of use in contributing wisdom and efficiency
to the conduct of affairs of unusual difficulty and
unprecedented importance to the whole nation. By
collecting, scrutinizing, making articulate and stand-
ing for whatever is good in the unofficial opinion of
the country; by organizing constructive criticism and
suggestion; by broaching policies of foresight, a
minority party has an opportunity to serve the coun-
try. To receive consideration, opinion must be or-
ganized. Hence the great use of party even in war-
time. It can assure that the whole, not half, of the
national thought shall be brought to bear upon the
national problems. It can act as a balance wheel
that the machinery of government can ill dispense
with in time of stress.

Speaking generally, coalition, " opposition/ ' or stul-
tified uselessness are the only courses open to a party
not in power. Denied coalition, even in the form of


an advisory war council, there remains to a minority
party, " opposition.' ' Since the war began the role
technically known as the "opposition" has been acted
with an entire freedom from evil partisanship that
has been beyond praise. If there has been error it
has lain rather in a somewhat too great avail of the
theory that deprivation of power carries with it free-
dom from the duty of uniting upon a programme of
constructive criticism and suggestion. In the Senate,
especially, a small section of the party in power has
shown, on occasion, a correspondingly praiseworthy
disposition to sacrifice slavish " regularity, ' ' just as
the opposition has always sacrificed malicious parti-
sanship, when great issues were at stake.

Partisanship and party action, like criticism, if
honest, patriotic and constructive and directed to no
selfish end but solely to the advancement of the na-
tional interests and the national aim to which nation
and Government are pledged, will strengthen and
safeguard the common purpose. In times like these,
above all, the nation is all; parties of themselves are
nothing. It is in the great things of statesmanship,
not in the trivialities of " politics/ ' that the nation is
concerned; and it is only through the question of
their utility to the evolution and carrying out of the
best possible policies that we can be expected to think
at all of party at this time. A conscientious "oppo-
sition" without malice or selfishness and a party in


power which, will not altogether sacrifice conviction to
" regularity " should make possible alignments able
to make opposition effective when surely demanded by
the country's interests, while assuring that hearty
support all Americans are eager to give the Adminis-
tration on every occasion when they can conscien-
tiously do so. The very regrettable failure to create a
coalition war council still leaves a heavy obligation
upon a minority party that counts half the popula-
tion in its membership, and at the same time it in-
creases the vast responsibility of the party in power.
Partisanship, except the partisanship of an honest,
fervid patriotism, is something the country will
hardly excuse on the part of either.



Good administration requires constant and ade-
quate motive power applied to a good machine to
make the power effective. The motive power consists
in clear purpose and strong, decisive will to achieve
that purpose. But the power must not be like latent
heat ; it must be harnessed to its machine. Executive
ability has been spoken of as "the art of passing the
buck." The seeming slight hints a truth and an
ability without which good administration is impos-
sible. There are men of much ability whose idea of
heaven would be to stand on a hill completely sur-
rounded by stenographers and themselves to dictate
every detail of the vastest affairs. Men of that na-
ture can never be good executives. The passion for
doing things oneself may be a virtue so long as the
task is within the power of one human being to per-
form. When the task has passed beyond that modest
compass, then the man, however brilliant, who can-
not pass on his work to others, retaining only so much



as is appropriate to the capacity of one man and
choosing well the part he will retain, is not a good
executive. Much of the motive power that is his re-
mains latent. It is not applied to the machine. The
machine is inevitably, by just so much, paralyzed.
The product of the machine is, by just so much,

Executive ability, then, aside from talent, clear
purpose and intellectual power, is judgment of men
and faith in them — the choosing of the wisest collab-
orators and the delegation to them of great responsi-
bilities. Through them the full motive power will
reach the administrative machine. Otherwise a great
part of the power must inevitably be lost because of
the simple fact that in vast affairs the task of apply-
ing all the power to the machine is infinitely more
than any one man can perform.

At the top of an administrative machine, then, is
its executive, having as councilors as many trusted
lieutenants as necessary to keep the whole of the
motive power of clear purpose, prompt decision and
quick transmission continuously operative. The
principal executive can thus confine himself to
"touching the high places" of policy, to orders, to
approving in principle, to ratifying or amending
finished plans presented to him, to the guidance of
work along broad lines. His councilors distill from
the mass of questions presented the compact essence


of what he must pass upon. His time is saved for
this highest function and is not frittered away in
attention to details.

The body of the administrative machine proper
consists in a number of administrative entities cor-
responding to the number of broad subjects into
which the work is divided. Each should comprise
the best ability obtainable for handling every phase of
the subject with which it is charged. At the head
of each should be a general direction, resembling on
a small scale the general direction of the whole ma-
chine already indicated. Each of these machines
should gather to itself all that there is to be done
in its field of work. Its functions should be log-
ically divided below for the efficient performance of
details and specialized tasks. The finished product of
its functioning should automatically be united, sifted,
simplified and co-ordinated in the process of reaching
and being passed upon by the general direction at the
top of any given department.

Within a well-organized department there are
rules and checks to assure necessary consultation in
order that there shall be no conflicts or overlappings
and in order that it shall be impossible for a piece
of work to go forth unless it shall represent the
views of all the subdivisions within the department
which are concerned with its subject matter. In a
good administrative machine there is similar careful


provision for interdepartmental conference in the
early stages of a project during the course of its
working out, and finally when it has reached the de-
partmental head and is ready for final discussion
between him and the heads of other departments con-

Government is the most complicated of mundane
affairs. For a Government it is, therefore, pre-emi-
nently essential that the laws of good administration
be observed. They make the difference between effi-
ciency and chaos. If the foregoing attempt to indi-
cate the nature of an administrative machine con-
formable to those general laws has had the least
success, it will be seen that an executive department
of government is in structure a miniature of the whole
executive branch of government. Each department
has its head, with his lieutenants and councilors.
Those officials comprise the general direction of the
department and the court of last resort in infra-
departmental decisions. Below them is the depart-
mental machine proper, with all its bureaus, divi-
sions, offices, etc. Each of these strives to advance
the work as far as possible toward the finished prod-
uct. Every one of these, with exceedingly few excep-
tions, has its divisional organization and may be re-
garded, in a way, as a microcosm of the department
or, indeed, of the whole executive branch of govern-


From this fact it may fairly be concluded that
the laws of good administration are natural ones,
hardly more to be trifled with than are the laws of
the biological cell. Some of their essentials are these :
Responsibility and authority must be united in
equal measure. Authority must be distributed until
all of it can be used, that is, until it is all operative
and no one man is charged with the use of more than
it is physically possible for him to use to the best
advantage. Those among whom the power is dis-
tributed should be those best able to use it wisely
and to form the best possible general direction of the
administrative machinery and the wisest councilors
of its individual head. All work of one general kind
should be concentrated in direction and subdivided in
special aspects. Every agency interested in any phase
of a subject should be invariably consulted upon that
subject, and all such agencies should work together
for the common aim. The machinery should be kept
as simple as is practicable.

To use a happy phrase of General Crowder, there
will also have some day to be instituted in this
country a great deal of "supervised decentraliza-
tion. ' ' Instead of piling officialdom sky-high at Wash-

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Online LibraryFrancis Mairs Huntington-WilsonThe peril of hifalutin → online text (page 1 of 15)