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based on the desire to protect the independence of weaker
countries, the Doctrine survives with us only as a sentiment.

But Mr. Olney said that "the United States is practically
sovereign on this continent, and its fiat is law upon the
subjects to which it confines its interposition." A cryptic
phrase seeming to mean that we shall decide every
question. Mr. Hughes adds that the interpretation of
the Doctrine is our business and not that of the
Latin-American countries. Thus transformed, it can be
made a cover for neo-imperialism, and for every material
advantage the United States desires to seek ; selfishly used
it is capable of becoming as menacing to Latin-Americans as
the Holy Alliance was at the beginning of the nineteenth



century. On this account it will be our behavior to them
that will be the subject of criticism, as Bowman says, rather
than their behavior to us.

IT would be silly to say that any country should abandon
its own material advantage ; but when it does so, it should
clearly distinguish its aim from the sentimental shibboleths
of the past. The modern evolution of the Doctrine is a
maxim entirely of power, and it should be recognized
as such. If we present it as a doctrine of power we do
not differ from the British government in its relations with
weaker countries, and we have before us the same questions
of policing and order, of economic development or exploi-
tation, of dominance or trusteeship.

There is no space here to develop the corollaries in
the intellectual and spiritual spheres of our slow political
development. Throughout the nineteenth century the
American subconsciousness was continuously occupied with
incidents of the pioneering life, with digging, and hew-
ing, and blasting, and harnessing, when the hardy frontiers-
men trampled over Indian tribes, slaughtered the bison and
exterminated the wild pigeon with no more reflection as to
the quality of their acts than boys have when they are joy-
ously digging a woodchuck out of his hole.

The frontier life produced logical characteristics in the
frontiersmen ; they were hardy, innocent, unreflecting, ac-
customed to decide pragmatically and to compress complex
problems into the simple mould of a proverb or an apothegm.

The pioneers and their exploiting descendants had a
system of simple morality: conscientiousness was strong in
them, and a friendliness in neighborly relations "I should
like to live by the side of the road and be a friend to man"
well expresses them; they had a conviction that human
affairs are simple, and that sunny solutions can be found
for all problems.

Two or three generations of them there were
Mark Twain and Hamlin Garland expressed them when
their era was already past; wave after wave of these fron-
tiersmen pressed westward, bold and physically vital, ener-
getic and enterprising, enduring and tenacious, carrying as
much of civilization with them as their canoes and covered
wagons would hold ; their eyes straining always into the
wilderness and their energies expended in action. When
they reached at last the western ocean, says Turner, they
looked back and found that the frontier had flowed in and
was everywhere behind them.

This digression could be expanded : suggest the folk-
ways into which the pioneer experiences crystallized, the
repercussions in intellectual and political fields ; the habit
of action ; the habit of not reflecting overmuch before action,
of experimenting with delicate political or economic forces,
of setting up quantitative values, of using extravagance as
humor and vehement utterance, of organizing promptly and

effectively for great mechanical tasks, of assuming that other
men have had the same experiences as yourself and from
them formed the same impression of the world these are
engaging traits and harmless in the field in which they were

But human traits, however useful and however innocent
and engaging in the sphere of their development, have not
universal worth. "To be this," as Justice Holmes says,
"is to be not that." With amazing speed we are weaving
close and delicate relations with varied peoples; the qualities
needed are understanding and sympathetic skill, and the
development of a general opinion and representatives of that
opinion who can intelligently and effectively "work" those
complex relations. The pioneering habits and their sequelae
do not supply the best training of thought or emotion for
handling them ; a new orientation of thought-habit, of the
unconscious bases of prejudice, is imperative, with the spirit-
ual pain which that involves.

THE American pioneering process has drawn to its ap-
pointed end. As it ends, the question in the mind of the
Time Spirit is, What will be the characteristics of such
a people when their period of immunity is over, and they
perforce resume the world's normal contacts, its pressures
and rivalries, the competition of too many for a limited
supply? Will their "idealism" be proof against intrigue?
Will they be angry at opposition ? Will they, when thwart-
ed, display a childlike passion, charge their opponents with
moral delinquency and threaten them with the power of a
continent? Or will they derive from their happy immunity
of a century the organization and the technique for a new
world order which will not need to base itself upon old
European animosities and contentions ? How will they
behave toward their neighbors in a shrinking world filled
with claims and clamors?

This question in its various forms is set for us to answer.
We have lived sentimentally in the past, and day-dreamed
of ourselves as the inheritors of Daniel Boone and Davey
Crockett. In the future in which we shall live we are cast
for another role ; we shall have to consider the field in
which Thiers and Cambon, Castlereagh, Palmerston, Salis-
bury and Grey moved in the nineteenth century, and see if
we can bring to it some element of a larger and common
humanity that will make war a crime, the threat of war a
shameful weapon, and the bullying of weaker nations the
sign of a backward civilization. In short, we shall have to
shape a conscious guidance of our destiny, not in wistful-
ness for the dream-days of an irrecoverable childhood, but
conscious that the problems of the future can be solved
only in their own terms and that the consequences of our
decisions and drift is a decision will extend far beyond
the immediate advantages or disadvantages they produce
for ourselves.

A Thousand Years Are as Yesterday






(of the Tang Dynasty, 618-905)

Translated from the Chi-
nese characters at the left,
by Stella F. Burgess in col-
laboration with Li An-Che.

Plant in the spring a single grain ;

In the autumn, harvest ten thousand seeds.

Let this go until, within the Four Seas,

there remains not one uncultivated field-
Even then farmers would stand in

danger of starving.

At high noon they are at their hoeing,

Their sweat dropping to earth.

How little he who holds the full bowl knows

From what bitterness of heart each grain is come !


(In North China)

Slouchy, lumbering camels-
Tawny coats smudging to black-
File with a soft-padded shuffle,
Pouches of coal on each back.
Behind the caravan trail
Hills bleak, treeless, and dun
Holes drilled into their sides
Beyond all touch of the sun.
Out of these burrows men stagger
Naked, and black as the coal
They haul with a stopping sway
From the maw of the four-foot hole.
Steaming jet torsos, blear eyes
Like owls noon-roused from sleep.

They lie who tell you glibly,
In China coal is cheap.


(In time of peace the Blue Express connected Peking
with Shanghai)

Like carrion gulls astern some regal ship-
Scavengers which trail her from her port
To swoop upon the surplus waste of men
Who dine like princes at some foreign court-
So, in the wake of this, the Blue Express,
There swarmed a crowd of animated rags :
Garrulous, greedy urchins, fleet of foot ;
Grown querulous through want, a few old hags;
Each tense upon the grim, precarious task
Of gathering, in baskets, coals new-spilt
From fiery craws of engines over-fed.
Upon such tenuous chance their breath they built!

From blue-plushed ease, some tourists from afar
Looked and said, "How queer these people are!"


On Tiptoe

The American Scenes of Stefan A. Hirsch

Courtesy Bourgeois Galleries


In the Duncan Phillips Memorial Qallery

QTEFAN A. HIRSCH is not yet thirty, but a number
^_J of museums and collectors own his paintings. Born
in Germany of American parents, he came to this
country in 1919 with eyes fresh for its differences, its
"becomingness" as contrasted with his medieval Nurn-
berg. He brought with him a background of European
art and an acquaintance with new tendencies. He has
become one of the American group with Dickinson,
Sheeler, Demuth, Niles Spencer to have applied cubism
where it is so appropriate, to the composition of scenes
with out straight-line buildings, houses and barns.
Simplification, juxtaposition of clean colors to build
up the mass of city or village scene, produce a concept
of that scene rather than a pictorial reproduction.

Of Hirsch's canvas, New York, Duncan Phillips of
the Memorial Gallery in Washington says : "It employs
the third dimension as a factor in design and presents
our mechanical age of steel construction and dehuman-
ized industry, symbolizad in towering battlements rising

in windowless walls above the menace of a black river.
It is beautiful in spite of its grimness by reason of the
subtle orchestration of the marbled tones and the
skilful organization of the solid box-like forms. Our
civilization is suggested as a fortress manned by invisible
armies and guarded by toy gunboats. Cold with the
certitude of an established order, there is an uneasy
expectation of a siege."

The New England town has a quiet though substantial
look. Delicately toned houses, fresh trees, a quiet pond
there is the stillness of a summer afternoon. Yet
though nothing stirs, there is no lack of life in the

All ot Mr. Hirsch's paintings, points out Stephan
Bourgeois of the Bourgeois Galleries, emphasize the
tension, expectation and alertness he considers the
main characteristic of changing America, where "people
live continuously on tiptoes, looking out in expectation
to what is coming next."




In the Duncan Phillips Memorial Qallery

Photo by C. O. Buckingham

Courtesy Bourgeois Galleries


In the Worcester Art Museum

A Religion Worth Fighting For


IN one of the profoundest of the Psalms in
the Hebrew psalter, the seventy-third, the
author recounts the moral confusion of the
world, calls attention to the prosperity of
the ungodly and the seeming futility of
virtue and meditates mournfully "verily I
have cleansed my heart in vain." But he finds such pes-
simism unsatisfying and rescues himself from it by an act of
the will. He introduces his new affirmation of faith with
the word "nevertheless." There is a kind of defiance of
immediate and obvious fact in that word, it seems to me,
which must be the basis of any robust faith in our day.

As we look upon modern civilization with its glorification
of man's tribal instincts, with its aggravation of human
greed and avarice, with its spiritual confusion and moral
impotence, it is difficult to entertain any immediate hope of
victory for the finer aspirations of man. Nevertheless I
cling to hope. I believe that modern civilization can finally
be brought under the control of the human spirit and that
the spiritual and ethical forces of civilization, now so im-
potent, can finally be made socially effective. If such a hope
seems rather forlorn and desperate we may console our-
selves with the reflection that faith has never been easy, that
it has always been under the necessity of defying many im-
mediate facts and that it is the only alternative to despair.

The cynic who knows my life history will regard this
hope as an interesting rationalization of my private circum-
stance. I am a preacher. As most men, I must satisfy my
ego by glorifying my occupation. 1 believe that religion
matters, or can be made to matter however impotent at the
present moment, because I am engaged in religion profes-
sionally. The determinist might go further and discover
my present convictions rooted in the defective imagination
of my childhood ; for my father was a preacher before me
and I remember somewhat hazily that no alternative pro-
fession ever suggested itself to my mind. My own interpre-
tation of my early choice of my father's profession is that
it was due to a beauty and romance in my father's life and
character which I failed to detect in the great and the near-
great of our town and which did not suffer by comparison
with the virtues of even those individuals whom I dis-
covered in later adolescence and who were more pretentious
than our village notables. Whether I drifted into the
ministry or not I have been so frequently discouraged by its
present impotence and have had such numerous opportunities
to leave it that I feel myself justified in defying the cynics
and insisting that my faith in the final social efficacy of
religion has a firmer basis than either professional or heredi-
tary circumstance.

At college and university my concern was not with the
moral usefulness but with the metaphysical validity of re-
ligious conviction. Like most budding theologues, I spent
my time trying to adjust traditional concepts to the new
world of science. My efforts in this direction would have
driven me altogether into the field of philosophy had not the

war come to shift my interest from the metaphysical validity
to the moral efficacy of religion. I assumed charge of a little
church in Detroit, promising myself release in a year or two.
Meanwhile I hoped to find a permanent and satisfying in-
terest. After eleven years I am still pastor of that church,
from which the critical observer may draw the conclusion
that a natural inertia explains my present convictions. My
own explanation is that I gradually discovered in my work
an antidote for despair. Whatever you may say about hu-
man beings in the aggregate and the abstract, they are rather
lovely and lovable in the individual and concrete instance.
There is beauty in the average life, a kind of tragic beauty,
if it may be observed at sufficiently close range to reveal its
inner struggle and its secret courage. I began to see that
the church with all its weaknesses could help to preserve
that beauty against the corruptions of urban life and to
strengthen that courage against the indignities which nature
and civilization conspire to heap upon man.

The religion of most so-called liberals in the churches is
inspired by, and a more or less authentic imitation of, the
"religion of Jesus." Like most liberals I was driven to
root my religious certitudes in the gospel of Jesus, chiefly
because its theological simplicities saved me from the con-
flicts with modern science into which orthodox and tradi-
tional theological formulas always betrayed religion. In
common with other liberals I could not, however, quite
escape the ethical and spiritual implications of the religion
which intellectual scruples persuaded me to accept. I there-
fore looked upon the World War with more than a critical
eye. Shortly before the entrance of our country into the
war I wrote an article for the Atlantic Monthly entitled
The Nation's Crime against the Individual. I mention this
fact to show that I was not altogether unprepared to face
the moral issues with which our own entrance into the
war confronted men of moral insight and good-will and to
throw my subsequent apostasy into bolder relief. Like most
of my colleagues, I finally succumbed to President Wilson's
idealism and persuaded myself that the war would serve a
good purpose.

AS far as the religious liberals are concerned I imagine
that they were beguiled by the passionate sentiments of
patriotism as much as by the idealistic interpretation of our
war aims by the president. Sentiment is organically related
to religion and when hearts grow cold anything that warms
them will seem to be religious. Our age is so passionately
nationalistic, partly because it has lost all other passions. In-
capable of loyalty to either an abstract principle or value
or to a larger human fellowship, the average man saves him-
self from moral bankruptcy by espousing the cause of some
comparatively small community, his family or nation pre-
ferably, with more than ordinary fervor. Yet we are far
enough advanced to know that the altruism of a man to-
ward his group is easily frustrated by the selfishness of the




group. The fact that the liberals of all nations in the
World War talked in terms of world redemption revealed
their consciousness of this moral paradox which they tried
to evade by imagining or persuading themselves that in this
instance the nation was really unselfish. I wonder some-
times what we would have done had an unrepentant national-
ist been in the White House during the war. Would we
have succeeded in confusing patriotic fervor with authentic
spiritual idealism if the genius of Wilson had not given the
nationalistic fervor a pseudo-universal object?

IN my case another consideration affected my war attitude
which may be too irrelevant to mention here. I am a
German-American and belonged to a religious group pre-
dominantly German in blood and heritage. In it a fierce
conflict developed between the German-born fathers and the
American-born sons with the one generation as unanimously
opposed to the war as the other was in its support. As I .
view that conflict now through the perspective of the years
it proves nothing to me but that national allegiance is not
successfully transferred in one generation and is transferred
with practically complete success in two, at least under
American conditions. At the time it served only to throw
me into the arms of the war enthusiasts, particularly since
in my case the debate was held in a religious denomination
and the opposition to the war expressed itself in religious
terms. Knowing very well that religious scruples were not
the real clue to the attitude of the fathers (for they adored
Hindenburg and poured their scorn upon Scheidemann and
the anti-war socialists of Germany), their use of phrases
connoting religious idealism made me cynical. I learned
then, as I know now, how easily religion lends itself to the
dubious task of dignifying the prejudices and obscuring the
indifferent motives which are frequently the real root of our
actions. I am almost glad that my father died before the
agony of those days. We understood each other too well
to have suffered the misunderstanding which divided many
a father and son. Yet the problem which faced the two
generations was difficult at best.

"My father," said a German-American captain in our
army to me, "is a damned old traitor but I'll never tell any-
body because they would never know what a good scout
he is." The words were harsher than the feeling, in which
there was more love than censure. "The boy," said an old
German of his officer son with obvious pride, "is a fine
soldier. But he will never be able to beat the Germans.
He only trained six months and they train a lifetime."
Could there be a more poignant pain than that involved
when the chasm which divides nations divides you from your
own flesh and blood ?

It might have been well if I had refrained from mention-
ing these special circumstances which surrounded my apostasy
lest I be suspected of seeking special exoneration above my
fellow liberal Christians who supported the war for what
will seem to them equally good reasons. At any rate, I
belong to those who have yet to prove that anything more
than the nausea and disillusionment, which we share with
the whole post-war generation, informs our present attitude.
I belong, too, to those whose hearts burn within them when
they coniider the imprisonment of Eugene Debs and his
kind and remember how often they have spoken glibly of
"being crucified with Christ."

In Debs it was not religion, at least not any religion con-
nected with the organized church, that endowed him with

the insight and the courage to go his lonely road. Yet
Debs was not alone and there were men of religious convic-
tion who proved that at its best religion does help men to
transcend the divisions in the human family, and does abhor
the use of every kind of force except the power of love.
Those of us who were recreant to that faith have had a
lesson in the futility of force which may stiffen the fiber of
our earlier conviction. It is to be noted that among the
religious idealists who refused to participate in war most of
them belonged to more or less despised sects and many of
them held to an obscurantist orthodoxy which is the scorn oi
liberal Christians. I do not conclude from this that ignor-
ance is necessary to an ethical heroism but I think it does
prove that one of the sources of weakness in modern
Christian liberalism is that it was forced to accept the re-
ligion of Jesus by the exigencies of a strategic theological re-
treat rather than by the power of a spiritual experience.
Modern religion is too sophisticated and circumspect really
to share the religion of Jesus, for that demands a love and
a faith which will seem foolish rather than wise to the
obvious-minded man. Vital religion is always a little foolish
for it rests in paradoxes rather than philosophical consisten-
cies. It is paradoxical in its attitude toward both life and
men. It speaks of the evils of the world and yet holds to a
faith in the "loving father" ; which means that it is at the
same time pessimistic and optimistic. It persuades men to
regard themselves as sinners and yet prompts them to exalted
hopes and aspirations. Such paradoxes seem foolish indeed
until you discover that a consistent pessimism or a consistent
optimism both drive you into philosophical as well as ethical
absurdities. A perfectly consistent world view is bound to
outrage some actual facts in the life of nature and the history
of man.

The modern church is too consistent in its appreciation
of human nature. Its consistency has driven it info a foolish
optimism, which is no truer to all the facts than medieval
religious pessimism. Modern religious liberalism is equally
mistaken in its interpretation of nature. The necessity of
accommodating its apologetics to the theory of evolution
drove it into a philosophical monism which is ethically al-
most as dangerous as mechanistic naturalism. The universe
is simply not the beautiful Greek temple pictured in the
philosophy of the absolutists and monists. To me it is
significant that the people who suffered from the fewest
illusions in regard to the World War were either orthodox
religionists or scientific determinists who had no special
theory about either the goodness of the universe or the
goodness of man to defend. Everyone who thought it neces-
sary to preserve either God's or man's imperiled reputation
for virtue was inclined to dilate upon the saving virtues of
the war and to obscure its horrors.

THE disillusionment which followed the war has robbed
the modern church of a little but not of enough of its
sentimental optimism. It is momentarily disillusioned about
war but not about modern civilization which simply means
that it can detect evil only after it has conceived and brought
forth its fruits. The sentimental religionist still speaks of
the essential goodness of men without realizing how evil
good men can be. Anyone who really knows the modern
world must be impressed by the fathomless sentimentality
which corrupts the life of the modern church. It obsesses
men with their petty decencies and thereby obscures the
more basic moral defects of their social attitudes. In them



religion easily becomes a kind of romance by which men
save their self-respect without moralizing their economic

Recently I crossed swords with two industrialists of my
city. The one was a pious Methodist of real honesty and
sincerity in his private life. The other was a hard-boiled
Nietzschian. My pious friend dilated upon the goodness

Online LibrarySurvey AssociatesThe Survey (Volume 58) → online text (page 100 of 130)