Maurice G. (Maurice Garland) Fulton.

National ideals and problems; essays for college English online

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that the common interests of men were greater than their special
interests, that ruling classes can be enemies, but that the nations
must be partners. Well, this war is being fought by nations. It
is the nations who were called to arms, and it is the force of
nations that is now stirring the world to its foundations.

The war is dissolving into a stupendous revolution. A few
months ago we still argued about the Bagdad corridor, strategic
frontiers, colonies. Those were the stakes of the diplomat's war.
The whole perspective is changed today by the revolution in
Russia and the intervention of America. The scale of values is
transformed, for the democracies are unloosed. Those democ-
racies have nothing to gain and everything to lose by the old
competitive nationalism, the old apparatus of diplomacy, with
its criminal rivalries in the backward places of the earth. The
democracies, if they are to be safe, must cooperate. For the old
rivalries mean friction and armament and a distortion of all
the hopes of free government. They mean that nations are


organized to exploit each other and to exploit themselves. That
is the life of what we call autocracy. It establishes its power at
home by pointing to enemies abroad. It fights its enemies
abroad by dragooning the population at home.

That is why practically the whole world is at war with the
greatest of the autocracies. That is why the whole world is turn-
ing so passionately towards democracy as the only principle on
which peace can be secured. Many have feared, I know, that the
war against Prussian militarism would result the other way, that
instead of liberalizing Prussia the outcome would be a Prussian-
ization of the democracies. That would be the outcome if Prusso-
Germany won. That would be the result of a German victory.
And that is why we who are the most peaceful of democracies are
at war. The success of the submarine would give Germany
victory. It was and is her one great chance. To have stood aside
when Germany made this terrible bid for victory would have
been to betray the hope of free government and international

There are two ways now in which peace can be made. The
first is by political revolution in Germany and Austria-Hungary.
It is not for us to define the nature of that revolution. We can-
not dictate liberty to the German people. It is for them to decide
what political institutions they will adopt, but if peace is to come
through revolution we shall know that it has come when new
voices are heard in Germany, new policies are proclaimed, when
there is good evidence that there has, indeed, been a new orienta-
tion. If that is done the war can be ended by negotiation.

The other path to peace is by the definite defeat of every item
in the program of aggression. This will mean, at a minimum, a
demonstration on the field that the German army is not invin-
cible; a renunciation by Germany of all the territory she has con-
quered; a special compensation to Belgium; and an acknowledg-
ment of the fallacy of exclusive nationalism by an application for
membership in the League of Nations.

Frontier questions, colonial questions, are now entirely sec-


ondary, and beyond this minimum program the United States
has no direct interest in the territorial settlement. The objects
for which we are at war will be attained if we can defeat abso-
lutely the foreign policy of the present German government. For
a ruling caste which has been humiliated abroad has lost its
glamor at home. So we are at war to defeat the German govern-
ment in the outer world, to destroy its prestige, to deny its
conquests, and to throw it back at last into the arms of the Ger-
man people marked and discredited as the author of their mis-
eries. It is for them to make the final settlement with it.

If it is our privilege to exert the power which turns the scale,
it is our duty to see that the end justifies the means. We can win
nothing from this war unless it culminates in a union of liberal
peoples pledged to cooperate in the settlement of all outstanding
questions, sworn to turn against the aggressor, determined to
erect a larger and more modern system of international law upon
a federation of the world. That is what we are fighting for, at
this moment, on the ocean, in the shipyard and hi the factory,
later perhaps in France and Belgium, ultimately at the council of

If we are strong enough and wise enough to win this victory,
to reject all the poison of hatred abroad and intolerance at home,
we shall have made a nation to which free men will turn with love
and gratitude. For ourselves we shall stand committed as never
before to the realization of democracy in America. We who have
gone to war to insure democracy in the world will have raised an
aspiration here that will not end with the overthrow of the
Prussian autocracy. We shall turn with fresh interests to our
own tyrannies to our Colorado mines, our autocratic steel
industries, our sweatshops and our slums. We shall call that man
un-American and no patriot who prates of liberty in Europe and
resists it at home. A force is loose in America as well. Our own
reactionaries will not assuage it with their Billy Sundays or
control through lawyers and politicians of the Old Guard.




[Stuart Pratt Sherman (1881 ) was born at Anita, Iowa. After

graduating at Williams College, he studied at Harvard, and became, in
1906, an instructor in English in the Northwestern University. In the fol-
lowing year he went to the University of Illinois where he is now professor
of English. In his writings, especially in the field of literary criticism, he
has shown himself one of the most brilliant of the younger men of letters
in the United States.]

I have heard one of our prophets declaring that either Ger-
many or America is destined to rule the world, and that on the
whole he hopes it will be America. If I may speak out of my
own convictions, there is one thing more abhorrent to my con-
science than that Germany should dominate the world by force
of arms. That one more abhorrent thing is that America should
dominate the world by force of arms. When a man execrates
on the part of a foreign nation a course which he praises on the
part of his own nation; when a man curses Germany because it
is militaristic and then rebukes America because it is not mili-
taristic; when a man reviles the Germans for crying, "On to
Calais" and then turns to his fellow countrymen crying, "On to
Panama;" when a man ridicules the Germans for calling them-
selves God's chosen people, and then turns to the Americans
and calls them God's chosen people; when a man upbraids the
Germans for shouting right or wrong my country, and then
turns to the Americans shouting right or wrong my country
confronted by this bull-headed preposterous nationalism the
experienced Muse of history bursts into scornful laughter; he
that sitteth in the heavens turns away his face; and Americans
in the midst of this horrible slaughter are properly admonished
to prepare for the next war !

Nor can we escape from the derisive laughter of the Immortals
by talking about the Anglo-Saxons. Only one degree removed
from the preposterous nationalist is the preposterous Anglo-

'From American and Allied Ideals. (No. 12, War Information Series, February, 1918,
issued by the Committee on Public Information.) Reprinted by permission.


Saxon. I feel fairly intimate with the ideals of America; they
are mine. I know something of the ideals of England; they are
allied to America's. But what are the Anglo-Saxon ideals? Do
they include Disraeli's, Mr. Lloyd-George's, or Mr. Wilson's?
For that matter, who are the Anglo-Saxons other than those
Germanic tribes that drove back the Celtic and Pictish ancestors
of our Scotch-Irish presidents? I do not see how the American
scholar's sympathies can be strongly enlisted in a feud in behalf
of the Anglo-Saxon blood. What stake have the countrymen of
Lafayette in a blood feud of the Anglo-Saxons? Or the country-
men of Garibaldi? Or the countrymen of Kerensky? Or the
Japanese? Or the Brazilians? Or the Portuguese? Or the
people of China and Siam? The ties of blood and race count for
next to nothing in this conflict. The English-speaking peoples
have no monopoly in the ideals of the Allies. The American
who now raises the flag of Anglo-Saxonism raises a meaningless
symbol which insults the pride of millions of his fellow country-
men and most of the Allies, and may well challenge the Orient
to muster and drill her millions for the next war.

Appeals to race prejudice, to a purely self-regarding patriot-
ism, to the old-fashioned nationalism, happily do not nowadays
always carry conviction to the intellectual class to which edu-
cated men are alleged to belong. Many of them have banished
race prejudice as a relic of tribal days. Many of them are con-
vinced that national pride needs a schoolmaster; and are glad
that it has one ! They have studied the world upheaval in which
the nations now quake; they have searchingly scrutinized their
own consciences; and many of them have reached the conclu-
sion that the master cause of this tragedy, of which all the world's
the stage, is precisely the old self-regarding nationalism the
nationalism which glorifies power and has no principle of con-
traction to oppose to its principle of expansion. When they
hear Germans shouting "Deutschland uber Alles," and Americans
shouting "America uber Alles," their hearts refuse to rally to
either call.

They say that the only way to avoid brutal and hideous
clashes of international strife for national expansion is to stop


this barbaric shouting; and to set up and establish supernational
ideals and principles which shall impose an effective check upon
the indefinitely expansive principle of nationality. Some of our
statesmen tell us that it cannot be done. They declare that
they are too stupid to contrive the machinery of international
government. We do not altogether believe them. We have a
very great confidence in both the ingenuity and the power of
statesmen; and it is based upon experience. We believe that
statesmen can do anything that they have a mind to do. We
believe in the ingenuity and power of statesmen, because we see
them all around the world accomplishing much more difficult
and incredible things, such, for example, as persuading great
nations to pledge their last dollar and their last man and to
walk through the valley of the shadow of hideous death to sup-
port a statesman's word, plighted perhaps without their knowl-
edge or consent. From that spectacle we derive our belief that
when statesmen heartily apply their ingenuity to contriving
what the hearts of all the plain people of the world desire, they
will be not a little surprised to discover the easiness of the task
and the inexhaustible power behind them.

Where shall we find the supernational principles and powers
which we wish our statesmen to establish, which we demand
that they shall establish? We shall find them in the cause for
which America and her associates are now fighting. Cynics
may say that each of the Allies is fighting for its own special
interest, its own peculiar culture, its trade, to recover this or that
bit of territory, to annex this or that province or port. Doubt-
less selfish motives do enter to some extent into the practical
considerations of most of the governments, just as brutal and
selfish men enter into the armies. But unless the leading spokes-
men of the Allies are black-hearted liars, they are about a
nobler business than national buccaneering. And whatever the
governments are about, we are profoundly convinced that the
great mass of the people of the Allies are not cynics and do not
intend to be dupes; that they are not fighting for ports and prov-
inces and trade; that they are fighting for the common interests
of the whole family of civilized nations for nothing less than


the cause of mankind. They can unite from the ends of the
earth as one people, sinking their national peculiarities, because
they are drawn by a bond deeper than language or nationality
or race; they are drawn by the bond that unites the common-
wealth of nations. They are not fighting for French or English
or American law, justice, truth, and honor, but for international
law, international truth, international justice, international honor.

The new national pride and patriotism developed by this
conflict finds its basis in the service which each nation renders
to the cause above all nations, the cause of civilized society, the
cause of civilized man. The new type of patriot no longer cries,
"my country against the world," but "my country for the world."
The moment that he takes that attitude he finds no more hos-
tility between the idea of nationalism and the idea of inter-
nationalism than between the idea of a company and the idea
of a regiment, or the idea of a state and the idea of a nation.
As each good citizen's loyalty to his state accepts a principle of
control in his loyalty to his nation, so his loyalty to his nation
accepts a principle of control in his loyalty to the general family
of nations.

Here is the great fact which challenges the loyalty of every
humane man. Propaganda for America and the Allies is not to
be urged to the disadvantage of any nation whatsoever, pro-
vided only that each nation is willing to behave like a member of
a family of nations, provided only that it will accept for its con-
duct outside its borders the fundamental principles of civiliza-
tion. Our propaganda is not for separatism and exclusion. It
is rather our profound conviction that there is no room left in
the world for barbarians, for heathen tribes without the law.
Humanity is not safe while any nation professes inhumanity.
We are not fighting to put the Germans out but to get them in.
Furthermore we have got to take the Orient in, frankly and
fully; or in all probability we or our children, or our children's
children, will have to fight the Orient. To some of us the in-
fluence upon the Orient of the German rebellion against the
Family of Nations appears as not the least ominous and dreadful
aspect of the present war.


If out of the infinite travail of this war there is to come a new
birth of national freedom under international law, if these our
numberless dead are not to have died in vain, we must keep our
great war aims ever vividly before us. We must not merely
defeat our adversaries but also establish the principles for which
we drew the sword. If in the day of victory the apathy of en-
lightened men permits reactionaries and old-fashioned statesmen
to arrange a peace under which the nations revert to the former
state of international anarchy and competitive preparations for
fresh conflicts, the spirits of millions of bemocked and victimized
young dead men should rise from their graves to protest against
the great betrayal. To insure that the war shall end as a purg-
ing tragedy and not as an empty farce we need now and shall
need for a long time to come impassioned expositors of the laws
of man and God, profaned by the enemy and defended by
America and the Allies.

The first duty of the propagandist is to determine what the
ideals and principles of the Allies are; and this involves deter-
mining what they are not. One can best discover what they
are not by reading modern German literature, German news-
papers, German ethics and politics, the works of Schopenhauer,
Nietzsche, Treitschke, Bernhardi, Hartmann, etc. If time is
short, one can quickly sharpen one's consciousness of what our
ideals are not by reading daily one or two selections from an
anthology of German thought, such as is contained in Conquest
and Kultur, published by the Committee on Public Information.
In this literature one will make acquaintance with the Kaiser's
tribal god who has merited the iron cross for his able support of
the strategy of the German General Staff, the god who is to
stand arm in arm with the Kaiser reviewing his Uhlans on the
Day of Judgment. There one will find the leaders of German
thought deifying a state with no aspect of deity but power;
denying the right of small nations to live; reviving old and in-
stituting new forms of slavery; affirming that might is right;
defending the ravishment of Belgium; rejoicing in the Lusitania
massacre; glorifying Schrecklichkeit; recommending that ships of
friendly neutrals should be spurlos versenkt; advocating keeping


subject peoples in ignorance and misery; chanting the holiness of
war and hoping that it may last forever; extolling war as the
prime element of their Kultur; and proudly declaring their
opposition to the establishment on earth of the kingdom of
righteousness and peace. There one will find the ideals and
principles of a government which has covenanted with death
and agreed with hell.

The propagandist can do good service by holding these ideas
up to execration, not because they are German ideas but because
they are ideas hostile to the commonwealth of man. And if by
chance any spokesman of the Allied nations falls into the error
of saying anything resembling these ideas, the propagandist
may perform equally good service by pointing out with emphasis
that he speaks like one of the depraved leaders of German
thought and an enemy of the Allies.

His happiest occupation, however, should be the discovery,
collection, and enthusiastic promulgation on every proffered
occasion of the ideals of the Allies. This kind of propaganda
has not yet received the attention it deserves. The tendency
has been to expose the perversity and iniquity of the enemy's
aims and to take for granted the righteousness and justice of
our own. As the war proceeds, the Allied nations are steadily
drawn by necessity to fight fire with fire; to parry the blow of an
autocratic government, they have had to make their own gov-
ernments temporarily autocratic; to meet the rush of a nation
in arms, they have had to put their own nations in arms; to
resist the assault of a people trained to sacrifice all to the state,
they have been compelled for the nonce to demand a similar
sacrifice. As all the participants in this dreadful melee become
more and more deeply imbrued in the blood and wrath of com-
bat, it grows increasingly difficult to distinguish by their ex-
ternal aspects the victim from the assassin. This hour when
his hands are subdued to the dark color of the bleeding mire
wherein he grapples with the foe is the bitter hour for the idealist.
It is the hour of sinister opportunity for the man who builds his
philosophy upon the incorrigible baseness of our human natures.
It is then that the cynic and the reactionary croak and shout:


"You are all tarred with the same brush. We bet on the black-
est. Fall to! and the devil take the hindmost." This is the
hour when it tremendously concerns us to be reminded who
began the war and what it is about. This is the hour when it
behooves us to remember that our soldiers are defending the
causes which our statesmen define. It is the business of the
strategists of international idealism to demand that the armies
of the Allies shall never fight for a cause unworthy of the com-
monwealth of man.

Where shall we look for the ideals of the Allies? Primarily,
perhaps, in the utterances of the Allied statesmen at the present
time and in the vast literature of the conflict. Take, if you like,
Siam's statement of its reasons for entering the war, to "uphold
the sanctity of international rights against nations showing a
contempt of humanity." Or take Mr. Wilson's statement that
our motive is not "revenge or the victorious assertion of the
physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right,
of human right, of which we are only a single champion;" or
his other statement that we fight "for a universal dominion
of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace
and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free."

It should be a great source of inspiration and confidence to
recognize that the ideals of the Allies have been the ideals of
just men in all ages; so that we may find them, most of them,
expressed in all the great literatures of the world, ancient and
modern, including the literature of the great Germans of the
eighteenth century. Contemporary German thought is pre-
historic, reversionary, paradoxical. It seeks to fly against the
great winds of time, to row against the deep current of human
purposes, to ignore the grand agreements of civilized men, and
to seek its sanction in the unconscious law of the jungle. The
Allies are seeking to cooperate with the power not ourselves
which has been struggling for righteousness through the entire
history of man; and their cause will be borne forward by the
confluent moral energies of all times and peoples.

It was to Goethe that Arnold generously gave credit for the
idea of an international republic of intellectual men, an idea


precious to every scholar and man of letters. "Let us conceive,"
said Arnold, "of the whole group of civilized nations as being,
for intellectual and spiritual purposes, one great confederation
whose members have a due knowledge both of the past out of
which they all proceed, and of one another. This was the idea
of Goethe, and it is an ideal which will impose itself upon the
thoughts of our modern societies more and more." It was
Goethe who said: "National hatred is something peculiar. You
will always find it strongest where there is the lowest degree of
culture. And there is a degree where it vanishes altogether
and where one stands to a certain extent above nations." These
are ideals of the Allies, now scoffed at by the depraved leaders
of the thought of Goethe's countrymen.

Mr. Roosevelt has discovered the cause of the Allies in the
words of Micah: "What more doth the Lord require of thee
than to do justice and love mercy and to walk humbly with thy
God?" Another of the Prophets, as if foreseeing the advice
given by the German General Staff to the God of the German
armies, expressed an ideal of the Allies when he said: "Who hath
directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his Counsellor hath
taught him? . . . Behold, the nations are as a drop of a
bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance. . . .
All nations before Him are as nothing; and they are counted to
Him less than nothing and vanity. . . . [When His spirit
is poured from on high] judgment shall dwell in the wilderness,
and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of
righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quiet-
ness and assurance forever"

Confucius expressed an ideal of the Allies, very dear to the
heart of all Americans, when he said: "People despotically
governed and kept in order by punishment may avoid infrac-
tion of the law, but they will lose their moral sense. People
virtuously governed and kept in order by the inner law of self-
control will retain their moral sense, and moreover become

Cicero expressed a majestic ideal of the Allies, when he said:
"True law is right reason conformable to nature, universal,


unchangeable, eternal, whose commands urge us to duty, and
whose prohibitions restrain us from evil. . . . Neither the
senate nor the people can give us any dispensation for not obey-
ing this universal law of justice. ... It is not one thing at
Rome, and another at Athens; one thing today, and another
tomorrow; but in all times and nations this universal law must
forever reign, eternal and imperishable. It is the sovereign
master and emperor of all things. God himself is its author,
its promulgator, its enforcer. And he who does not obey it
flies from himself, and does violence to the very nature of

English literature, especially since the seventeenth century
when the divine right of kings received its death blow, is full of
expressions of Allied ideals. Milton implies one in Paradise

"They err who count it glorious to subdue
By conquest far and wide, to overrun
Large countries, and in field great battles win,
Great cities by assault; what do these worthies
But rob and spoil, burn, slaughter, and enslave
Peaceable nations, neighboring or remote

Online LibraryMaurice G. (Maurice Garland) FultonNational ideals and problems; essays for college English → online text (page 33 of 39)