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LITT.D., LL.D., F.A.I. A., A.N. A., F.R.G.S.




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Introduction i

rrl Imperialism 14



zi Materialism 74

The Quantitative Standard ... 45




BEYOND the Alps lies Italy!" Be-
I yond The War lies The World after
the War. Black and red, the holo-
caust of an era envelops the world; black
with the heavy shadow of catastrophe, red
with the flame of a penitential purgation.
Black and red, the smoke-clouds of a great
burning open fitfully, and only a little way,
to reveal a far country, in hope rather than
in reality, but it is on these poor gleams of
far promise that already the eyes of men are
fixed, for there alone lies the prophecy and
the forecast of compensation.

The world has become a great interro-
gation. Why was this thing permitted and
why does it endure? Faith fails in those
of short sight, and the heaped-up horror
of four years, the ever-increasing sorrow of
personal loss, seen only so, and regardless of


past and future, force the question that too
often finds its answer in doubt, infidelity
and despair. Widen the vision until the
strange history of the last five centuries is
seen with clear eyes, until the possibility of
the future becomes a reality, and doubt dis-
appears, faith returns, and despair is trans-
formed into a great hope.

It is impossible to understand this epic
war except in the light of recent history; it
is impossible to endure its terror unless we
look beyond. It is no casual and untoward
event, the rash precipitation in time and
space of the insane illusions of matoids and
paranoiacs, the accident of industrial war-
fare, the catastrophe that might have been
escaped. It was conceived in the very be-
ginnings of modernism when first the Re-
naissance began to supersede Mediaevalism;
it grew and strengthened as the Reforma-
tion entered into its final form; it quickened
and stirred as the revolutions of the eight-
eenth and nineteenth centuries shook the
foundations of law and order in all Europe ;
it struggled for birth as industrial civiliza-
tion waxed fat and gross in its century of
blind evolution. Medici, Borgia and Mac-
chiavelli, Huss and Luther and Calvin,



Cromwell and Rousseau and Marat; the
regraters and monopolists of the seven-
teenth century, the corporations and ex-
ploiters of the eighteenth, the iron-masters
and coal barons, the traders and the usurers
of the nineteenth, the triumphant, Imperial
Great Powers of industrialism in the twen-
tieth century, prepared all things for its
nativity, and when, on the first of August,
1914, a group of "supermen" in Berlin
acted as surgeons and midwife, it came to
its birth, after long gestation, a thing neither
to be denied nor escaped, an inevitable
event, born " that the prophecy might be

In the first months of Apocalyptic revela-
tion, when it became dismally evident that
modern civilization was doomed, and while
the smug prophets of enduring peace, of
the end of war and of the assured triumph
of modernism were running around in
circles, wild-eyed and panic-stricken, vainly
endeavouring to find some adequate ex-
planation of the failure of their system
and the shattering collapse of their house
of cards, it all seemed blind, unreasonable,
impossible. Surely it was all a nightmare,
a fiction of auto-suggestion (to borrow from


« the pseudo-scientific jargon of the time).

I This thing could not be ; it cut square across
the acceptable theory of evolution, it im-
plied a basic lack in what was demonstrably
the unique and crowning civilization of all
time; it even cast a doubt on the great
dogma of the ultimate (and immediate)
perfectability of man achieved by automatic
and irresistible processes. This could not
be, therefore the Thing, the unimaginable,
impossible War with all its collateral hor-
rors on its head, was either illusion or a
rebellious and intolerable "sport"; not to
be endured, but to be crushed and utterly
cast out that the world might return to the
status quo ante, to resume its triumphant
progress towards that perfection and uni-
versal triumph so clearly indicated, so un-
happily and unscientifically diverted in its

Four years of war and of the revelations
of war have wrought a change. It is not
now that reasons are not forthcoming, it
is that they are legion. "Any stick will do
to beat a dog with," and any and every
defect and weakness incipient in the world
before the war is seized upon as the sufB-
cient explanation of the catastrophe. Many


are justly chosen, many are but remotely
connected, if at all, with what has hap-
pened. The process, however, is an whole-
some one: the superstition of the excellence
of modernism is now revealed and dis-
credited and they that were its most zealous
adherents are now its most angry accusers.
All this is good; the veil must be, and has
been, torn away. It is now for us to weigh
and estimate the qualities inherent in mod-
ernism which were its undoing, for only so
can we create the antidote that will perhaps
purge the diseased system of society' and so
prolong its life. At all events, it is only
after this fashion that we can learn what
to avoid when, after the ending of war, we
set our hands to the rebuilding of the

Now it seems to me that there are three
fundamental evils in the society we have
known and in which we have played our
part. This enumeration does not exclude
others, perhaps of equal energy, certainly
of very effective potency. I think, however,
they are all more or less closely connected
with the three I wish to deal with at this
time, and so I shall confine myself, for the
purposes of this volume, to what I will call



The Three Errors of Modernism, and these
are: Imperialism, Materialism, The Quan-
titative Standard.

I propose to deal with these three errors
separately, and yet they are so closely asso-
ciated they almost count as one. They are
several manifestations of something greater
than they, greater than all the peculiar
mental, physical and spiritual phenomena
that determine modernism. Four years ago
we should have aired our erudition by call-
ing it the Zeitgeist^ now it is more becoming
to use the phrase Time Spirit. Just what
this is, whether it is a blind force, a con-
scious personality, or only the ex post facto
label affixed to the sum of tendencies and
achievements in any clearly defined epoch,
does not matter. As I have tried to show
in several recent books ("The Substance
of Gothic," "The Nemesis of Mediocrity,"
" The Great Thousand Years ") , the history
of society divides itself into quite clearly
distinguishable periods of five centuries
each, none extending beyond its term, and
each marked by qualities wholly different
from its successor and from its predecessor.
Every era possesses something closely ap-
proaching personality, so consistent is it, so


original in its inception, so individual in its
scheme and method, so novel in its termi-
nating catastrophe. Such was the five cen-
turies B.C. of Hellenism, such the first
epoch of the Christian era which was also
that of Roman imperialism, such the period
of the Dark Ages, and that of Mediaeval-
ism, while Modernism, which began with
the Renaissance, continued through the
Reformation, found new fields of expression
in the revolutionary era from Cromwell to
Garibaldi, came to its climax under the cen-
tury of industrialism, and is now achieving
its unhonoured end through an unexampled
war and its unparalleled revelations.

In any case there is substantial unity and
coherency in each epoch, and whatever the
source or nature of the impelling force
it works uninterruptedly through many
channels, and after varied fashions, that
have issue in events that superficially, and
as they befall, seem to bear scant resem-
blance to each other. During modernism,
for example, the second episode, the Refor-
mation, seemed to the men of the time and
to all historians after the fact, opposed in
every way to its predecessor, the Renais-
sance, while the connection between it and


the mid-era revolutionary upheaval was
equally tenuous in the minds of contemp-
oraries. As for the last episode — indus-
trialism — it is only within the last decade
that its close kinship with the preceding
"three R's" has been recognized by a few
daring spirits who have met with scant
sympathy and have had their trouble for
their pains.

As a matter of fact these four great hap-
penings hang together with all the unity
and the progressive development of a Greek
drama, and the final catastrophe — The
War — falls with the dramatic and fateful
certainty of a tragedy by iEschylus or Eu-
ripides. Verily a consummate work of art,
for it is only in the closing catastrophe it-
self, at the very moment when the Chorus
marches slowly to its place to sing the final
valedictory, that the sublime unity of the
great scheme reveals itself, and the note of
inexorable Fate sounds through the meas-
ured lamentations of those who knew it not
until they became its victims.

The Renaissance contributed the intel-
lectual standard as sufficient in itself for the
measuring and determining of all things,
its corollary being the abandonment of a


super-material standard of right and wrong,
with the consequent break-down of morals
wherever the Renaissance was operative.
Through the Reformation came the denial,
for those that accepted it, of sacramental
philosophy, and the paralyzing of religion
as a spiritual and ethical force through the
substitution of sectarian chaos for Catholic
unity. Politically and socially the inevi-
table outcome of the Renaissance and Ref-
ormation was absolutism and tyranny, with
force as the one recognized arbiter of action.
After this the revolutionary movement was
inevitable, and though it overthrew the
tyranny of crown and caste it could sub-
stitute nothing but another tyranny in its
place, for already the spiritual forces in the
world had been dried up, the spiritual
standards obliterated. By a great stroke of
dramatic genius, the discovery of the po-
tential in coal and iron, the manifold in-
ventions of capable and intricate machinery,
and the promulgation of a new and mechan-
istic philosophy of evolutionism, synchro-
nized with the revolution, and when the
convulsion had settled down to an unstable
equilibrium, behold a new power domi-
nant in society; greed and covetousness, ex-



alted above all virtues, and ofifered fabulous
reward through surplus manufacture, the
exploiting of labour, artificially developed
trade, — and usury.

In spite of its grossness, its lack of mo-
rality, and the uniform hideousness of its
outward appearance, the triumphant " civi-
clization" that marked the last avatar of
> modernism was sufficiently convincing in
its magnificent potency to win universal
acceptance as the highest achievement of
man in all recorded history. Wealth,
whether in money, credit, land or securities,
was vast beyond parallel; it was also om-
nipotent, and its standard of comparative
values was implicitly accepted. The in-
ventions and devices of a century, increasing
in geometrical ratio, outnumbered an hun-
dred times all that man had devised before
since the creation of the world. Science —
the knowledge of natural laws and their
practical application — had outstripped
even invention in its meteoric career, and
had lost nothing in public estimation
(rather it had gained something) through
its taking over and exploitation by the
money power. The world — only a fringe
of states around the Mediterranean, with



outposts in Great Britain, Musco\'y, the
Indies and far Cathay, at the opening of
the modern period — had now become co-
terminous with the globe, and every land,
every people, had been made tributary to
sovereign industrialism and trade. Time
had been almost annihilated, space made of
no account; the conquest of the air was im-
minent, the harnessing of the last and shyest
forces of nature was in process and only
death remained unconquered.

It is hardly to be wondered at that all
the world bowed down before the marvel
of the ages, and that for the first six months
of the year 1914 no man could be found
who believed that its glory could be abated,
its destiny averted, or even that war could
come again to stay its glorious career. Four
years have transformed the world. The
wealth a century had heaped up is being
destroyed at the rate of a hundred millions
a day; science, the great and beneficent
saviour of society, has become an appalling
engine of destruction; all the vast industrial
organisms of the world are engaged in turn-
ing out things to destroy and to be destroyed,
and the huge system of world-markets and
commercial spheres of influence is scrapped ;


democracy breaks down in pitiful ruin as
a working system and gives place to autoc-
racy, except in Russia, where it becomes an
insane anarchy not to be distinguished from
the chaos, not of the beginnings but of the
last days; finally, the chosen and cherished
philosophy of modernism, evolution, crum-
bles like a sand-castle on the edge of the sea,
and in the light of world ruin shows as thin
and futile as the pathological visions of an
Indian yogi.

And now all is to be done over again, but
differently. If we are to rebuild intelli-
gently we must know the weakness that
brought about world-downfall when world-
victory was expected. I propose to find this
weakness in the Three Errors of Modern-
ism: Materialism, Imperialism, and the
Quantitative Standard. In a way material-
ism is the energizing force, expressing
itself in imperialism, the quantitative stand-
ard and in all the other peculiar manifesta-
tions of modernism whether these are al-
together new or only modifications of what
already existed. I shall, however, deal
with it last, for its energy and its power of
self-expression in protean forms will show
more clearly if we first consider certain of



the manifestations of this force which may
possibly be the very Time Spirit itself. The
great catastrophe now running its course,
the world-war that is dissipating all the
hoarded treasure of five centuries and giv-
ing the coup de grace to modernism itself,
is the immediate product of imperialism,
so we will consider this first.



THIS is the antithesis of democracy,
whether you consider the democracy
of ideal or that of method. As I
have endeavoured to show in " The Nemesis
of Mediocrity," these are in no respect the
same. They need not be, and as a matter
of fact never have been, united, w^hile the
democracy of method is not only the worst
possible means for obtaining the democracy
of ideal, it is also almost certainly its
nemesis. The democracy of ideal is the
possession of a few minds, it is neither
understood nor accepted by the mass of
people, who are capable alone of compre-
hending the raw processes of the democracy
of method. Whenever democracy as an
ideal has been put forward by its protag-
onists it has always given place within a
generation to its changeling method, and in
this, with all its variations and vicissitudes,
the interests of the people have been en-
gaged. When the war was unleashed, there


was little democracy of ideal visible in any of
the institutions_of man, secular or religious,
political, industrial or social. There was,
however, rather an overplus of democratic
method in the governments of Great Brit-
ain, France, Italy, the United States. By
the powers, or power, controlling the des-
tinies of men, it was used as a very perfect
blind for the triumphant imperialism that
everywhere had taken its place. With the
sudden crash of war society tried to function
along democratic lines, the result being in-
stant and conspicuous failure. The demo-
cratic method, while it precariously main-
tained itself in Germany and claimed a
certain theoretical (or parliamentary) ex-
istence in Austria-Hungary, was there no
more than a toy to amuse the governed, and
attempted nothing, not even to assert itself,
the moment the war came, and for four
years the autocracy of Germany, quietly
incorporating within itself all its confeder-
ates, has worked with an admirable effi-
ciency the Allies have been unable to meet.
In so far as they have been able of late to
match the enemy, even if thus far he is un-
conquered, this is due to the distance the
greater of the allied states have departed


from democracy of method. At the present
moment they have progressed very far in-
deed; Great Britain and the United States
have become autocracies that would make
Constantine, Henry VIII and Louis XIV
hang their heads, France and Italy have
become oligarchies, not altogether secure
but at least free for the moment of demo-
cratic incapacity. In the fact of this change
lies the one chance of victory.

Now the comparatively real democracy
of Hampden, Rousseau and Jefferson long
ago became merely a collection of literary
remains, an archaeological abstraction. In
its place came a violent, self-satisfied and
audacious political system that was always
feverishly in search of some new improve-
ment that would make it seem more " demo-
cratic." Socialists, communists, anarchists,
followers of the I. W. W., really saw
through the deceit and clamoured for that
"direct action" which is the logical ter-
minus ad quern of democratic method and
has recently been given a very logical
demonstration in what once was Russia.
The thing never worked elsewhere, how-
ever, for in the meantime a real im-
perialism, as real as that of Rome or By-


zantium or the French monarchy of the
seventeenth century, had grown throughout
society, and though it was content to use
the parliamentary system, representative
government, universal suffrage and rota-
tion in office as its effective camouflage, it
established itself completely in industry,
commerce and finance, and so made polit-
ical machines merely its own agencies of
operation without regard to their nature.
As a matter of fact these ingenious schemes
of alleged government are far more amen-
able as implements of service in the hands
of industrial imperialism than would have
been those of a more obviously imperialistic
nature. The democratic method ultimately
destroys natural leadership, yet man by his
very nature must be led, therefore it was
sufficiently simple for imperial industry and
finance to furnish the leaders; a task they
accomplished to admiration.

The essence of imperialism is aggrega-
tion, with tHe'worki lig' downward of dele-
gated authority from a high and omnip-
otent source. The essence of democracy
is differentiation, local autonomy, and a
building up of authority from primary
units. Under the progressive imperialism


of the nineteenth century and the first
fourteen years of this, the original demo-
cratic ideal rapidly disappeared. In gov-
ernment the traditional methods still ob-
tained, as they did theoretically in certain
outlying and not yet subjugated depart-
ments of industry and trade; indeed the
tendency was steadily towards what was
hailed as a still more complete democracy
of method. Upper legislative houses were
shorn of their prerogatives, threatened in
their hereditary nature where this existed,
or, as in the United States, handed over to
popular election. Veto by popular vote of
judicial decisions, popular election of mem-
bers of the judiciary, the initiative, referen-
dum and recall, woman suffrage, with many
other equally doctrinaire, ill-digested and
fanatical measures, were experimented
with, until government, from the city to
the nation, had become universally chaotic,
inefficient, unintelligent and venal. It was
all the same to "big business" and ''high
finance"; these were the directing forces,
and however childish, inopportune and
anarchial legislation and the administering
of the laws might be in matters not con-
nected therewith, here it was certain and


secure. Business had become imperial, and
finance also; neither could exist without the
other, and together they formed a working
machine that constituted and directed po-
litical policies, international relations, for-
eign affairs, as well as the making and
administering of both necessary and un-
necessary domestic laws.

Trades unionism, created to oppose the
ever-growing power of capital in trade,
industry and finance, was equally imperial-
ized. The great leaders did not hesitate to
assert that, if unionism was to work eflfec-
tively, it must be under the absolute orders
of small and practically irresponsible
groups, and though the show of voting on
important questions was still maintained,
the nature of the vote was easily determined
beforehand, while strikes were more and
more begun and ended by executive order,
and without the sanction of the men in-

From the end of the eighteenth century
political, industrial and financial imperial-
ism developed together. Politically the ex-
pansion, through annexation and incorpo-
ration, was enormous. Under the spur of
an ever-augmenting industry increasingly


given over to excess production — to manu-
facture for profit not for consumption —
demanding new .and artificial markets to
take ovef the colossal surplus made possible
by machinery, new inventions and the ex-
ploiting of labour, Asia, Africa, Oceanica
were seized upon, made complaisant
through ''peaceful penetration," and either
divided up amongst the contending powers
or equally exploited through the delimiting
of spheres of influence. Great Britain, the
inventor of industrialism, and its protag-
onist, led in the process, seizing the most
desirable sections of the available " po-
tential markets," followed by France, Rus-
sia, Belgium and Holland, with Germany,
Italy and Austria so far behind in the rush
that for them only the leavings remained.

The United States swept from the At-
lantic to the Pacific and from the Canadian
border to the Rio Grande, contenting itself
for a century with this great empire, and
making no effort at foreign annexations
until the end of the century. When the
war broke there remained only China,
Persia and Turkey as politically unclaimed
areas, and in each case the process of com-
mercial exploitation had proceeded to the



point where political partitioning and an-
nexation were bound shortly to follow. In
fact the plot was ripe in the case of all
these countries; it was only a question as to
whether Great Britain, Germany or Japan
was to determine the lines of division and
gain the lion's share.

They were magnificent and inspiring,
these vast empires of the early twentieth
century. Cecil Rhodes, Chamberlain, Kip-
ling, J. B. Cramb, each along his own line,
strove to glorify the imperial idea, and
until the very moment Germany forced the
warjn pursuance of a TogTcal scTiem^that
had been inherent in imperialism from the
start, only success had followed. The fail-
ure of imperialism, the substitution of any-
thing of any kind in its place, was unthink-
able on the twentieth day of July, 1914.

Between one country and another there
was no difference in nature and very slight
difference in method^ The thing that had
begun in Great Britain with the suppres-
sion of the monasteries, the dispossessing of
the peasant land-holders, the invention of
capitalism through the joint-stock company,
and the discovery of coal, steam and the
power loom, and had grown to maturity by


the process of exploitation in the nineteenth
century, had been accepted by all the " pro-
gressive" peoples of the globe. Between
Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, the

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