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Title: Freedom In Service - Six Essays on Matters Concerning Britain's Safety and Good Government
Author: Hearnshaw, F. J. C. (Fossey John Cobb), 1869-1946
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Freedom In Service - Six Essays on Matters Concerning Britain's Safety and Good Government" ***

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PREFACE                                                           ix


        I. UNIVERSAL OBLIGATION TO SERVE                           1

       II. THE OLD ENGLISH MILITIA                                 4

      III. MEDIÆVAL REGULATIONS                                    6

       IV. TUDOR AND STUART DEVELOPMENTS                           9

        V. THE LAST TWO CENTURIES                                 12

       VI. CONCLUSION                                             15


        I. THE PLEA OF FREEDOM                                    17

       II. THE TERM "LIBERTY"                                     18



        V. LIBERTY AS ABSENCE OF RESTRAINT                        23

       VI. LIBERTY AS OPPORTUNITY FOR SERVICE                     27


        I. THE IDEA OF VOLUNTARISM                                30

       II. ITS ESTABLISHMENT                                      31

      III. THE RESULT                                             33

       IV. THE PRESENT SITUATION                                  36

        V. THE FUTURE                                             38


        I. THE NEW PERIL                                          43

       II. PASSIVE RESISTANCE AS REBELLION                        45

      III. THE RIGHT OF REBELLION                                 47

       IV. REBELLION AGAINST A DEMOCRACY                          50

        V. THE DUTY OF THE STATE                                  55


        I. A CONFLICT OF CONVICTIONS                              58

       II. THE RELIGION OF THE BIBLE                              61


       IV. FORCE AS A MORAL INSTRUMENT                            66

        V. THE IDEAL OF THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT                   69

       VI. THE PACIFICIST SUCCESSION                              74

      VII. CONCLUSION                                             78


        I. THE IDEA OF THE STATE IN ENGLAND                       81

       II. THE RIVALS OF THE STATE                                87

      III. WHAT THE STATE IS AND DOES                             95

       IV. THE SPHERE OF NATIONAL SERVICE                         98


The first three essays in this little book appeared originally as
special articles in the _Morning Post_. I am greatly indebted to the
Editor of that paper for his courteous and ready permission to reprint
them. The "Freedom" dealt with in these essays is political freedom, and
the "Service" advocated is universal military service. These limitations
are due to the fact that the original newspaper articles were
contributions to the controversy respecting methods of enlistment which
took place during the autumn of 1915.

The remaining three essays appear now for the first time. They have a
more general scope, although they are vitally connected with the theme
of their predecessors. The essay on Passive Resistance has special
reference to the opposition offered by the No-Conscription Fellowship to
the principle of compulsory military service; but its argument applies
equally well to the older antagonists of the authority of the State.
The essay on Christianity and War tries to meet those conscientious
objections to military service which form the basis of the propaganda of
the Fellowship of Reconciliation; but it deals with the problem in the
broadest manner possible within the limits of its space. The concluding
essay, on the State and its Rivals, emphasizes the imperative need that
the authority of the Democratic National State should be recognized and
accepted if internal anarchy is to be avoided, and if the peace and
well-being of the World are to be secured.

                                                 F. J. C. HEARNSHAW.

King's College, Strand, W.C.
   _January 12th, 1916._




     [Reprinted, with the addition of References, from the _Morning
     Post_ of August 20th, 1915.]


"The military system of the Anglo-Saxons is based upon universal
service, under which is to be understood the duty of every freeman to
respond in person to the summons to arms, to equip himself at his own
expense, and to support himself at his own charge during the

With these words Gneist, the German historian of the English
Constitution, begins his account of the early military system of our
ancestors. He is, of course, merely stating a matter of common knowledge
to all students of Teutonic institutions. What he says of the
Anglo-Saxon is equally true of the Franks, the Lombards, the Visigoths,
and other kindred peoples.[3] But it is a matter of such fundamental
importance that I will venture, even at the risk of tedious repetition,
to give three parallel quotations from English authorities. Grose, in
his _Military Antiquities_, says: "By the Saxon laws every freeman of an
age capable of bearing arms, and not incapacitated by any bodily
infirmity, was in case of a foreign invasion, internal insurrection, or
other emergency obliged to join the army."[4] Freeman, in his _Norman
Conquest_, speaks of "the right and duty of every free Englishman to be
ready for the defence of the Commonwealth with arms befitting his own
degree in the Commonwealth."[5] Finally, Stubbs, in his _Constitutional
History_, clearly states the case in the words: "The host was originally
the people in arms, the whole free population, whether landowners or
dependents, their sons, servants, and tenants. Military service was a
personal obligation ... the obligation of freedom"; and again: "Every
man who was in the King's peace was liable to be summoned to the host at
the King's call."[6]

There is no ambiguity or uncertainty about these pronouncements. The Old
English "fyrd," or militia, was the nation in arms. The obligation to
serve was a personal one. It had no relation to the possession of land;
in fact it dated back to an age in which the folk was still migratory
and without a fixed territory at all. It was incumbent upon all
able-bodied males between the ages of sixteen and sixty. Failure to obey
the summons was punished by a heavy fine known as "fyrdwite."[7]

There is another point of prime significance. Universal service was, it
is true, an obligation. But it was more: it was the _mark of freedom_.
Not to be summoned stamped a man as a slave, a serf, or an alien. The
famous "Assize of Arms" ends with the words: "_Et praecepit rex quod
nullus reciperetur ad sacramentum armorum nisi liber homo._"[8] A
summons was a right quite as much as a duty. The English were a brave
and martial race, proud of their ancestral liberty. Not to be called to
defend it when it was endangered, not to be allowed to carry arms to
maintain the integrity of the fatherland, was a degradation which
branded a man as unfree.


[1] This chapter has been issued as a pamphlet by the National Service
League, 72, Victoria Street, S.W.

[2] Gneist, R. _Englische Verfassungsgeschichte_, p. 4.

[3] Cf. the Frankish Edict of A.D. 864: "Ad defensionem patriæ omnes
sine ulla excusatione veniant." (Let all without any excuse come for the
defence of the fatherland.)

[4] Grose, F. _Military Antiquities_, vol. i, p. 1.

[5] Freeman, E. _Norman Conquest_, vol. iv, p. 681.

[6] Stubbs, W. _Const. Hist._, vol. i, pp. 208, 212.

[7] Oman, C. W. C. _Art of War in the Middle Ages_, p. 67.

[8] Stubbs, W. _Select Charters_, p. 156. (The King orders that no one
except a freeman shall be admitted to the oath of arms.)


This primitive national militia was not, it must be admitted, a very
efficient force. It lacked coherence and training; it was deficient both
in arms and in discipline; it could not be kept together for long
campaigns. The Kings, therefore, from the first supplemented it by means
of a band of personal followers, a bodyguard of professional warriors,
well and uniformly armed, and practised in the art of war. Nevertheless,
the main defence of the country rested with the "fyrd." The Danish
invasions put it to the severest test and revealed its military defects.
It was one of the most notable achievements of Alfred to reorganize and
reconstitute it. Thus reformed, with the support of an ever-growing body
of King's thegns, it wrought great deeds in the days of Alfred, Edward
and Athelstan, and recovered for England security and peace. In the days
of their weaker successors, however, all the forces that England could
muster failed to keep out Sweyn and Canute, and, above all, failed to
hold the field at Hastings.

The Norman Conquest might have been expected to involve the extinction
of the English militia. For feudalism as developed by William I was
strongest on its military side, and William's main force was the levy of
his feudal tenants. But quite the contrary happened. The Norman monarchs
and their Angevin successors were, as a matter of fact, mortally afraid
of their great feudal tenants, the barons and knights through whom the
Conquest had been effected. Hence, as English kings, they assiduously
maintained and fostered Anglo-Saxon institutions, and particularly the
"fyrd," which they used as a counterpoise to the feudal levy. They even
called upon it for Continental service and took it across the Channel to
defend their French provinces.[9] Thus in 1073 it fought for William I
in Maine; in 1094 William II summoned it to Hastings for an expedition
into Normandy; in 1102 it aided Henry I to suppress the formidable
revolt of Robert of Belesme, Earl of Shrewsbury; in 1138 it drove back
the Scots at the Battle of the Standard; and in 1174 it defeated and
captured William the Lion at Alnwick. So valuable, indeed, did it prove
to be that Henry II resolved to place it upon a permanent footing and
clearly to define its position. With that view he issued in 1181 his
"Assize of Arms."


[9] Stubbs, W. _Select Charters_, p. 83; and _Const. Hist._, vol. i, p.


Into the details of the "Assize of Arms" it is unnecessary here to
enter. Are they not written in every advanced text-book of English
history? Three things, however, are to be noted. First, that the duty
and privilege of military service are still bound up with freedom; no
unfree man is to be admitted to the oath of arms. Secondly, that upon
freemen the obligation is still universal: "all burgesses and the whole
community of freemen (_tota communa liberorum hominum_) are to provide
themselves with doublets, iron skullcaps, and lances." Thirdly, that,
closely as freedom had during the centuries of feudalism become
associated with tenancy of land, the national militia had not been
involved in feudal meshes: the obligation of service remained still
personal, not territorial.

In 1205 John, fearing an invasion of the Kingdom, called to arms all the
militia sworn and equipped under the Assize, _i.e._, all the freemen of
the realm. Short-shrift was to be given to any who disobeyed the
summons: "_Qui vero ad summonitionem non venerit habeatur pro capitali
inimico domini regis et regni_" (He who does not come in response to the
summons shall be regarded as a capital enemy of the king and kingdom.)
The penalty was to be the peculiarly appropriate one of reduction to
perpetual servitude. The disobedient and disloyal subject who made the
great refusal would _ipso facto_ divest himself of the distinguishing
mark of his freedom.[10]

Henry III in 1223 and 1231 made similar levies. In 1252, in a notable
writ for enforcing Watch and Ward and the Assize of Arms, he extended
the obligation of service to villans and lowered the age limit to
fifteen. Edward I reaffirmed these new departures in his well-known
Statute of Winchester (1285), in which it is enacted that "every man
have in his house harness for to keep the peace after the ancient
assize, that is to say, every man between fifteen years of age and sixty
years." Further, he enlarged the armoury of the militiaman by including
among his weapons the axe and the bow.[11]

The long, aggressive wars of Edward I in Wales and Scotland, and the
still longer struggles of the fourteenth century in France, could not,
of course, be waged by means of the national militia. Even the feudal
levy was unsuited to their requirements. They were waged mainly by means
of hired professional armies. Parliament--a new factor in the
Constitution--took pains in these circumstances to limit by statute the
liabilities of the old national forces. An Act of 1328 decreed that no
one should be compelled to go beyond the bounds of his own county,
except when necessity or a sudden irruption of foreign foes into the
realm required it.[12] Another Act, 1352, provided that the militia
should not be compelled to go beyond the realm in any circumstances
whatsoever without the consent of Parliament.[13] Both these Acts were
confirmed by Henry IV in 1402.[14] But the old obligation of universal
service for home defence remained intact. It was, in fact, enforced by
Edward IV in 1464, when, on his own authority, he ordered the Sheriffs
to proclaim that "every man from sixteen to sixty be well and defensibly
arrayed and ... be ready to attend on his Highness upon a day's warning
in resistance of his enemies and rebels and the defence of this his
realm."[15] This notable incident carries us to the end of the Middle
Ages, and shows us the Old English principle in vigorous operation.


[10] Gervase of Canterbury. _Gesta Regum_, vol. ii, p. 97.

[11] _Statutes of the Realm_, vol. i, pp. 96-8.

[12] 1 Ed. III, c. 2. §§5-7.

[13] 25 Ed. III, c. 5. §8.

[14] 4 Hy. IV, c. 13.

[15] Rymer, T. _Foedera_, vol. xi, p. 524.


The Wars of the Roses, so fatal to the feudal nobility, left the
national militia the only organized force in the country. The Tudor
period, it is true, saw the faint foreshadowing of a regular army in
Henry VII's Yeomen of the Guard, and the nucleus of a volunteer force in
the Honourable Artillery Company, established in London under Henry
VIII. But these at the time had little military importance, and England
remained dependent for her defence throughout the sixteenth century,
that age of unprecedented prosperity and glory, upon her militant
manhood. Hence the Tudor monarchs paid great attention to the
maintenance and equipment of the militia. The practice (which had grown
up in the later Middle Ages) of limiting the normal call to arms to a
certain quota of men from each county was revived. If the required
numbers were not forthcoming compulsion was employed. Statutes were
passed making discipline more rigid. Lords Lieutenant were instituted to
take over the command, with added powers, from the Sheriffs. An
important Mustering Statute (1557) was enacted, graduating afresh the
universal liability to service, and making new provision for weapons and
organization.[16] William Harrison, writing in 1587, said: "As for able
men for service, thanked be God! we are not without good store; for by
the musters taken 1574-5 our numbers amounted to 1,172,674, and yet were
they not so narrowly taken but that a third part of this like multitude
was left unbilled and uncalled."[17] This from a population estimated at
less than six million all told! Such was the host on which England
relied for safety in 1588, if by chance the galleons of Spain should
elude the vigilance of Drake and should land Parma's hordes upon our
shores. Well might the country feel at ease behind such a fleet and with
such a virile race of men to second it.

The Stuarts did not take kindly to the English militia. It was too
democratic, too free. James I, in the very first year of his reign,
conferred upon its members the seductive but fatal gift of exemption
from the burden of providing their own weapons.[18] As he himself took
care not to provide them too profusely, the force speedily lost both in
efficiency and independence. The Civil War hopelessly divided it, as it
did the nation, into hostile factions. The Royalist section was
ultimately crushed, while the Parliamentary section was gradually
absorbed into that first great standing army which this country ever
knew, the New Model of 1645. For fifteen years the people groaned under
the dominance of this arbitrary, conscientious, and very expensive
force. Then, in 1660, came the Restoration, and with it the disbanding
of the New Model and the re-establishment of the militia. The country
went wild with joy at the recovery of its freedom.

Charles II, however, was bent on securing for his own despotic purposes
a standing army. Hence he obtained permission from Parliament to have a
permanent bodyguard, and he gradually increased its numbers until he had
some 6,000 troops regularly under his command. James II increased them
to 15,000, and by their means tried to overthrow the religion and the
liberties of the nation. He was defeated and driven out; but his effort
to establish a military despotism made the name of "standing army" stink
in the nostrils of the nation. "It is indeed impossible," said one of
the leading statesmen of the early eighteenth century, "that the
liberties of the people can be preserved in any country where a numerous
standing army is kept up."[19] The national militia continued, as of
old, to stand for freedom and self-government. The voluntarily enlisted
standing army was regarded as the engine and emblem of tyranny.


[16] 4-5 P. and M., c. 2.

[17] Harrison, W. _Elizabethan England_, chap. xxii.

[18] 1 Jac. I, c. 25.

[19] Speech by Pulteney, A.D. 1732: See _Parl. Hist._, vol. viii, p.


The eighteenth century saw a constant struggle on the part of
constitutionalists to get rid of the standing army altogether. Army
Acts, which recognized and regulated the new force, were limited in
their operation to a year at a time, and were passed under incessant
protest. Grants to maintain the army were similarly restricted. Every
interval of peace witnessed the rapid reduction of the regulars. But the
times were adverse. Wars were frequent, and on an ever-increasing scale
of magnitude and duration. The standing army had to be maintained, and,
indeed, steadily enlarged.

But the militia for home defence was never allowed to become extinct,
and it enjoyed an immense popularity. In 1757 it was carefully
reorganized by statute.[20] The number of men to be raised was settled,
and each district was compelled to provide a certain proportion. The
selection was to be made by ballot, to the complete exclusion of the
voluntary principle. During the Napoleonic war, when invasion seemed
imminent, the militia was several times called out and embodied. In 1803
an actual levy _en masse_ of all men between the ages of seventeen and
fifty-five was made. In 1806 the principle of universal obligation on
which it was based was clearly stated by Castlereagh in the House of
Commons. He spoke of "the undoubted prerogative of the Crown to call
upon the services of all liege subjects in case of invasion."[21]

At the moment when he spoke, however, the imminent fear of invasion had
been removed--removed, indeed, for a century--by Nelson's crowning
victory at Trafalgar. From that time forward the military forces of the
Crown were required not so much for the defence of the United Kingdom
itself as for the provision of garrisons for the vast Empire which had
grown up during the eighteenth century. These imperial garrisons had
necessarily to be drawn from professional troops voluntarily enlisted.
Thus the militia declined. An effort was made in 1852 to revive it, and
again the underlying principle of compulsion was explicitly recognized.
The Militia Act of that year[22] contains the provision: "In case it
appears to H.M. ---- that the number of men required ... cannot be raised
by voluntary enlistment ... or in case of actual invasion or imminent
danger thereof, it shall be lawful for H.M. ---- to order and direct
that the number of men so required ... shall be raised by ballot as
herein provided." The effort at revival was unfortunately vain, and when
in 1859 international trouble again seemed to be brewing, instead of
appealing once more to the immemorial defence of the country, the
Government weakly and with most deplorable results allowed the formation
of a new body, the volunteers--a body whose patriotism was noble, whose
intentions were admirable, but whose inefficiency became and remained a
byword.[23] The militia continued ingloriously, mainly as a nursery for
the regular army.

Finally, in 1908, Mr. (now Lord) Haldane absorbed both volunteers and
militia into the new Territorial and Reserve Forces, the militia
becoming a Special Reserve.[24] It is much to be regretted that the Act
of 1908 did not expressly reaffirm the continued validity of the
compulsory principle of service which from the earliest times had been
the basis of the militia. But, though it did not expressly reaffirm it,
it left it absolutely unimpaired and intact. Said Mr. Haldane himself in
the House of Commons on April 13th, 1910: "The Militia Ballot Acts and
the Acts relating to the local militia are still unrepealed, and could
be enforced if necessary."


[20] 31 Geo. II, c. 26.

[21] Cobbett. _Parliamentary Debates_, vol. vii, p. 818.

[22] 15-16 Vict. c. 50. §18.

[23] For occasional levies of volunteers from sixteenth century onwards,
see Medley, D. J., _Const. Hist._, p. 472.

[24] 7 Ed. VII, c. 9.


Such is the condition of things at the present time. The principle of
compulsory military service, obligatory upon every able-bodied male
between the ages of sixteen and sixty, is still the fundamental
principle of English Law, both Common Law and Statute Law. It has been
obscured by the pernicious voluntary principle, which, in the
much-abused name of Liberty, has shifted a universal national duty upon
the shoulders of the patriotic few. But it has never been revoked or

It is not National Service, but the Voluntary System, that is
un-English and unhistoric. The Territorial Army dates from 1908; the
Volunteers from 1859; the Regular Army itself only from 1645. But for a
millennium before the oldest of them the ancient defence of England was
the Nation in Arms. When will it be so again?



     [Reprinted, with the addition of References, from the _Morning
     Post_ of September 28th, 1915.]


The opponents of national service pursue two lines of argument, the one
historical, the other theoretical. Along the line of history they try to
show that compulsory military duty is alien from the English
Constitution, and that the voluntary system is the good old system by
means of which Great Britain has maintained her independence, achieved
her glories, and founded her Empire. Along the line of political theory
they contend that the demand for national service is contrary to the
spirit of liberty, that freedom is an essential characteristic of the
English genius, that Britons may be persuaded but not coerced, and so

In the preceding study I have shown the utter baselessness of the
historical argument, pointed out that compulsory service was the very
foundation of the Anglo-Saxon system of defence, and concluded that
whereas "the Territorial Army dates from 1908, the Volunteers from 1859,
the Regular Army itself only from 1645, for a millennium before the
oldest of them the ancient defence of England was the Nation in Arms." I
now turn to the theoretical argument, and propose to consider what is
meant by the term "liberty," and ask whether the compulsion involved in
national service is incompatible with liberty properly understood.


There can be no doubt that in this country, as in America, the term
"liberty" enjoys much popularity. Sir John Seeley has remarked that just
as "its unlimited generality" makes it "delightful to poets," so its
harmonious sound is so grateful to the ears of the public at large that
"if a political speech did not frequently mention liberty," no one would
"know what to make of it or where to applaud."[25] Matthew Arnold goes
so far as to speak of "our worship of freedom," and to depict liberty
as the object of a fanatical semi-religious adoration.[26] But as a rule
where an Englishman adores he does not define, and if one asks the
common devotee of liberty what he understands by the abstraction before
which he prostrates himself, one generally requires but a small portion
of the dialectic subtlety of Socrates to involve him in a hopeless
tangle of contradictions. He can no more define liberty than he can
locate his soul. Mr. D. G. Ritchie truly says: "Many crimes have been
done, and a still greater amount of nonsense talked in the name of
liberty."[27] Seeley, with as much justice as pungency, asserts that
some writers "teach us to call by the name of liberty whatever in
politics we want," and so lead us to disguise our selfishness and
cowardice in the stolen garb of moral principle.[28] At any rate, there
is urgent need that before we either support or oppose any practical
political measure in the name of liberty, we should clear our minds of
confusion, and should reach an understanding of what precisely we mean
by this vast and vague expression. It will be found, I think, upon
examination, that the term "liberty," as employed in the sphere of
politics, has four distinct connotations. I hope to show that in no one
of these four senses is liberty incompatible with the compulsory element
implicit in the principle of national service.


[25] Seeley. _Introduction to Political Science_, pp. 103-4.

[26] Arnold. _Culture and Anarchy_, chap. ii.

[27] Ritchie. _Natural Rights_, p. 135.

[28] Seeley: _op. cit._, p. 103.


"A free nation," says Sir William Temple, "is that which has never been
conquered, or thereby entered into any condition of subjection."[29] In
this sense of freedom from foreign domination liberty is the immemorial
boast of Britons. They never have been, or will be, slaves. They are,
and they are determined to remain--so they proudly sing--free as the
waves that wash their shores, free as the winds that sweep their hills.
They are resolved that no alien tyrant shall plant his foot upon their
necks. As in the Middle Ages they repudiated the claim of German
Emperors and Ultramontane Popes to exercise political sovereignty over
them; as in more modern times they resisted conquest by the Spaniard
Philip and the Corsican Napoleon; even so would they resist to the
extreme limit of endurance any attempt to-day to reduce them to
servitude. The proposition that freedom in this sense of national
independence is consistent with compulsory military service needs no
demonstration at all. So far from there being any incompatibility
between the two, it is probable that only by means of a manhood
universally trained to the use of arms can the freedom of Britain and
the integrity of the Empire be ultimately maintained. We shall almost
certainly have to choose, not between national service and liberty, but
between national service and destruction.


[29] Temple. _Works_ ii, p. 87.


In a second and somewhat looser sense "Liberty is regarded as the
equivalent of Parliamentary government."[30] We speak of one type of
Constitution as "free" and of another type as "unfree." The so-called
"free" type of government is that in which political power rests in the
hands of the Democracy, whereas in "unfree" States the people are in
subjection to a ruling person or class. From the point of view of the
individual subject this distinction has no meaning at all. For the laws
passed by a Democratic Parliament are coercive and compulsory in
precisely the same manner and degree as are the laws of a despotic
monarchy or a close oligarchy. There is, indeed, a "tyranny of the
majority" which can be quite as oppressive to the individual as the
tyranny of the one or the few, and much less easy to evade. From the
point of view of the enfranchised community, however, the term "free"
has a meaning, and its use can be defended. For if the electorate be
regarded as a unit, akin to an organism, government becomes
self-government, and any obligations which the community places upon
itself by means of laws can be looked upon as self-limitations, imposed
by free-will and capable of removal at any moment by the unfettered
exercise of the power which imposed them. From this communal point of
view, however, it is evident that national service involves no
diminution of liberty. The community becomes not one whit less free
because it decides to train itself in the use of arms and to mobilize
all its resources for military purposes. It retains its capacity to
demobilize any time it likes, to lay aside its arms, to pension off its
drill sergeants, and to return to the paths of pacificism whenever it
seems safe to do so.


[30] Seeley: _op. cit._, p. 114.


It cannot be denied, however, that compulsory military service does
interfere with the power of the _individual_ to do as he likes. He is
forced, whether he wants to or not, to undergo certain discipline in
time of peace, and to face uncertain danger in time of war. National
service, then, is a restriction of his liberty, if by liberty is meant
the absence of all restraint. Now this is precisely the sense in which
the term is most frequently used. "Quid est libertas?" (What is
liberty?), asked Cicero, and he replied: "Potestas vivendi ut velis"
(The power of living as you like).[31] "Freedom," said Sir Robert
Filmer, "is the liberty for everyone to do what he lists, to live as he
pleases, and not to be tied by any laws."[32] Even Locke, Filmer's great
opponent, admitted that "the natural liberty of man is to be free from
any superior power on earth." But who is the man who possesses this
unlimited natural liberty to live as he likes, and to act as he pleases,
subject to no superior power on earth? He is either a Robinson Crusoe,
existing alone on a desert island, or he is an anarchist living in the
midst of anarchists, and acknowledging no civil government whatsoever.
In the latter case his career is likely to be as "poor, nasty, brutish,
and short" as that of the primitive savage depicted by Hobbes. For if
one man is free to live as he likes, subject to no superior power, so
are all. Hence in such a society of absolute freemen, human law is
totally abrogated, no life is protected, no property safeguarded.
Everyone, so far as his power avails, does what he pleases, takes what
he covets, slays whom he hates. When his power ceases to avail, that is
when a stronger than he appears upon the scene, he is himself liable to
be despoiled and killed. Such is the state of society in which absolute
liberty obtains. It is a chaos of incessant civil war, where "every man
is enemy to every man." Its unfortunate victims, the possessors of
unrestricted liberty, find that there is

     War among them, and despair
     Within them, raging without truce or term.[33]

It is from this intolerable condition of perfect freedom that
government saves a man. But it saves him--and in no other way can it
possibly do so--by taking away from both himself and his fellows alike
and in equal measure, part of their insufferable birthright of liberty.
The very essence of government is restriction, compulsion, law. Under
government, then, whatever may be its form, no man is free in the sense
of being exempt from restraint. Natural liberty gives place in organized
society to civil liberty, which is a much more modest and limited thing.
"Civil liberty," says Blackstone, "is no other than natural liberty so
far restrained by human laws as is necessary and expedient for the
general advantage of the public."[34] In the same sense Austin defines
it as "the liberty from legal obligation which is left or granted by a
sovereign government to any of its own subjects."[35] But the most
luminous definition is that of Montesquieu, who says: "La liberté est
le droit de faire tout ce que les lois permettent."[36] Those who would
understand what true civil or political liberty is, and what are its
necessary limitations, should imprint this profound utterance upon their
memories, and employ it as a universal test of sound thinking on the

"Liberty is the right to do all that the laws allow"--no more, and no
less. Liberty, then, in the sphere of politics, is not the absence of
all restraint whatsoever, but only the absence of all restraint except
that of the law. Thus the freedom of which Britons boast--"English
liberty"--is not a licence to anyone to do as he likes, but is merely
the right of everyone to do what the laws of England permit, and it is a
splendid possession merely because the laws of England are eminent for
justice and equity. "English liberty" is perfectly consistent, as we all
admit, with compulsory registration, vaccination, education, taxation,
insurance, inspection, and countless other legal coercions. From our
cradles to our graves we are beset behind and before by government
regulations; yet we rightly assert that we are free. If then the laws of
England add one more coercion, and proclaim anew the duty of universal
military service, not only will they do a thing consonant with justice
and equity, they will also do a thing which does not in the smallest
degree diminish any individual's civil liberty.[37]


[31] Cicero. _Parad._, v, 1.

[32] Filmer. _Patriarcha_, quoted and criticized by Locke, _On
Government_, book ii, chap. iv.

[33] Shelley. _Ode to Liberty_, Canto 2. Compare the description of
_Huriyeh_ (Liberty) given by Sir Mark Sykes in _The Caliphs' Last
Heritage_. I quote the following from a review in _The Spectator_, of
November 27th, 1915: Sir Mark Sykes saw _Huriyeh_ (Liberty) at work in
the distant provinces of the Empire. "What, O father of Mahmud," he said
to an old Arab acquaintance, "is this _Huriyeh_?" The "father of Mahmud"
replied without hesitation "that there is no law and each one can do all
he likes." Neither was this lawless interpretation of liberty confined
to Moslems. The Greek Christians in the neighbourhood of Hebron were
"armed to the teeth and glad of _Huriyeh_, for they say they can now
raid as well as other men." In Anatolia, a muleteer who had been
discharged from Sir Mark Sykes's service "spent all his time singing
'Liberty--Equality--Fraternity,' the reason being that the Committee at
Smyrna released him from prison, where he was undergoing sentence for
his third murder."

[34] Blackstone. _Commentaries_, i, 140.

[35] Austin. _Jurisprudence_, p. 274.

[36] Montesquieu. _Esprit des Lois_, p. 420.

[37] _Cf._ Philip Snowden, _Socialism and Syndicalism_, p. 175. "When
all submit to law imposed by the common will for the common good, the
law is not slavery, but true liberty."


Liberty as absence of restraint is, however, a merely negative thing; it
is a "being let alone." Some great writers, John Stuart Mill for
example, treat it as though it had only this negative character, and as
though to be let alone were necessarily and in itself a good thing. But
others have truly and forcefully shown, first, that to be let alone may
sometimes be a doubtful blessing, and, secondly, that liberty has a
further and positive aspect not less important than the negative. Sir J.
F. Stephen, in his _Liberty, Equality, Fraternity_, vigorously
criticizes Mill's negative theory. Matthew Arnold in _Culture and
Anarchy_ (a work which well repays perusal at the present time) pours
delightful but destructive ridicule upon "our prevalent notion that it
is a most happy and important thing for a man merely to be able to do as
he likes." Thomas Carlyle, in _Past and Present_ and elsewhere,
vehemently expounds a positive ideal of liberty which involves strenuous
work for the good of man and for social advancement. "If liberty be not
that," he concludes, "I for one have small care about liberty." But
first in eminence among the exponents of the positive aspect of liberty
stands Thomas Hill Green, of Oxford. In his works he contends that
liberty is more than absence of restraint, just as beauty is more than
absence of ugliness.[38] He holds that it includes also "a positive
power or capacity of doing or enjoying something worth doing or
enjoying." He agrees with Mazzini that complete freedom is "found only
in that satisfying fulfilment of civic duties to which rights, however
precious, are but the vestibule."[39] He looks at freedom, that is to
say, from the communal and not from the individual point of view. Man is
a political animal, and only in an organized society can he attain his
highest development. It is not good for man to be alone; each individual
needs the companionship and co-operation of his fellows; no one in
solitude can attain even to self-realization. Hence, government is more
than a restraining power; it is also an organizing power. It not only
prevents its subjects from injuring one another; it places them where
they can most effectively aid one another and work together for the
common weal. It frees their faculties from the impotence of isolation,
and opens up to them the unbounded possibilities of corporate activity.
Hence, liberty on its positive side becomes merged in national service,
in the broad sense of the fulfilment of the duties of citizenship. Thus
he is an enemy of freedom who holds himself aloof from his fellows and
declines to bear his share in the general burden. If, then, the State
calls upon all its subjects to join together in undertaking the supreme
task of national defence, every true lover of liberty must respond "Here
am I."


[38] Green, _Principles of Political Obligation_, p. 110-5.

[39] _Cf._ MacCunn, _Six Radical Thinkers_, p. 259.



     [Reprinted from the _Morning Post_ of December 28th, 1915.]


It is sometimes said that Britons are a common-sense and practical
people, but a people impervious to ideas; that they are quick at the
invention of expedients, but slow to recognize and follow general
principles. This statement may be true of the nation as a whole; but it
is lamentably untrue in respect of our politicians. They do somehow now
and again get ideas into their heads, and when once they are there it
seems as though nothing on earth or from heaven can eradicate them. I
suppose that the explanation of this steadfast consistency, or
unteachable obstinacy, is that their ideas soon pass out of their own
control. Principles once professed are formulated into programmes,
programmes are solidified into platforms, and platforms are planted
upon the insensate rock of party organization. Hence, to abandon an idea
(even when it is found to be erroneous) or to repudiate a principle
(even when it is proved to be false and pernicious) involves a political
upheaval akin to a revolution. It is easier to continue to stand on an
obsolete platform and watch a nation drift to disaster than to abandon
the platform and endanger the party organization--euphemistically termed
for the occasion "national unity." An excellent case in point is the
pathetic devotion of successive Governments to the voluntary principle
of military service.


As we have already seen, the voluntary principle--a comparatively modern
novelty--is one which established itself in our constitution during the
long period of peace that followed the Battles of Trafalgar and
Waterloo, and it had its _raison d'être_ in the circumstances of the
time. Our Navy had secured the undisputed command of the sea. Our shores
and the shores of our distant Dominions were secure from invasion. All
that we had to fear was an occasional Chartist riot, or Irish rebellion,
or Indian mutiny, or petty Colonial war. To suppress these sporadic
disorders a small professional army was incomparably the best
instrument, and it was, of course, best secured and maintained by the
system of voluntary enlistment. Thus in the halcyon Georgian and
Victorian days the right inherent in every sovereign Government to call
upon its subjects for national service sank into forgetfulness, the
ancient military obligations of Englishmen fell into desuetude, and
voluntarism held the field.

A quarter of a century ago, however, _i.e._, soon after the present
German Emperor came to the throne, circumstances radically changed.
Germany obtained Heligoland and began to convert it into a naval base;
she developed marked colonial activity and threatened British ascendancy
in many parts of the world; she formulated a maritime programme and
commenced the construction of a formidable navy. Nor was she alone.
Other Powers also--Powers at that time regarded as less friendly to
Britain than Germany was supposed to be--started in the race for
overseas dominions, international commerce, and strong fleets. It became
evident to the most casual observer that sooner or later British command
of the sea might be challenged, Britain and the Dominions attacked, and
the future of the Empire put to the issue of war. Hence prudent
patriots, who in course of time organized themselves into the National
Service League under the guidance of Lord Roberts--_clarum atque
venerabile nomen_--urged the revival of the old-time duty of universal
military training in preparation for, and as the best safeguard against,
the growing peril. But no! Politicians had committed themselves to the
voluntary principle. The party caucuses would not risk the sacrifice of
place and power that might ensue from the preaching of the unpalatable
doctrine of duty and discipline to their masters, the electors. Hence,
amid dangers daily growing greater in magnitude, the defence of the
Empire on land (the garrisoning of one-fifth part of the land-area of
the globe) was left to the diminutive professional force established
merely for Imperial police purposes--a force smaller than that which
Serbia felt necessary to guard her independence, or Switzerland to
assure her neutrality.


What was the result? It was this: that the British Empire, the richest
prize that the world has ever displayed, spread out its treasures before
the envious eyes of militant nations, practically undefended, save for
its slender ring of circling ships. There it lay, a constant and
irresistible lure, especially to that parvenu and predatory Germanic
Power which had appeared upon the European scene, as the offspring of
treachery and violence, in 1871. Thus those politicians--they were to be
found in all parties--who refused to face the new conditions, who
persisted in maintaining that the voluntary principle, which sufficed to
police an Empire externally secure, would also guard it against a world
in arms, did their unwitting best to render an attack inevitable, and to
ensure that when it burst upon us it should do us the maximum of damage.

In due time, that is, when Germany thought that "the day" had dawned,
the war came. Then the voluntary principle manifested its proper fruits.
We found ourselves suddenly called upon to confront the supreme crisis
of our fate with a gigantic proletariat untrained and unarmed, and with
a diminutive army (below even its nominal strength), wholly inadequate
to the magnitude of its tasks. What were the consequences? They were
these: First, that our devoted Expeditionary Force, insufficient and
unsupported, was sent across the Channel to almost certain and complete
annihilation; secondly, that masses of reserves urgently needed on the
Continent had to be kept in these islands to counter the risks of
invasion; thirdly, that the mobility of our Navy had to be sacrificed to
the same necessity of domestic defence (hence the disaster to Admiral
Cradock); and, finally, that Belgium and North-East France had to be
abandoned to the enemy--to be recovered later, if possible, at the cost
of tens of thousands of lives.

One would have thought that at such a crisis of destiny our politicians
would have faced the facts, would have realized that the time had come
to summon the nation, as a disciplined whole, to front its peril and do
its duty. If they had but had the courage to do so, who can doubt the
loyalty of the response? But, once more, No! All sorts of irrelevant
considerations of petty domestic politics--matters of votes and seats
and party prejudices--determined the issue. The voluntary principle must
at any cost be maintained sacrosanct and intact. Hence, to get the
necessary men--or, rather, far fewer than the necessary men--every
variety of extravagant and humiliating expedient had to be adopted.
Hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money were squandered in
advertisement and appeal, and a chaos of indiscriminate enlistment was
inaugurated. Again, with what results? With these results: First, that
myriads of middle-aged men with families have been taken while unmarried
slackers have been left; secondly, that invaluable war-workers have been
drawn from necessary tasks while useless wastrels have remained at
large; thirdly, that the rate of recruiting has been spasmodic and
wholly incalculable, that our armies have never been quite strong enough
for the successive operations assigned to them, and that consequently a
vast, needless, and largely fruitless sacrifice of the very cream of our
nation's manhood has taken place. To the idol of voluntarism a veritable
holocaust of victims has been offered up.


The voluntary principle, after seventeen months of inconceivably
destructive war, still nominally holds the field.[40] Our sovereign
politicians have up to the present remained verbally true to it; but at
what a price! They have indefinitely postponed victory; they have
allowed the sphere of operations to be immensely enlarged; they have
been compelled through sheer military feebleness to witness neutral
nations being drawn on to the side of the enemy; they have been unable
to strike a decisive blow anywhere. Thus the war drags on inconclusively
at a cost of £5,000,000 and 2,000 casualties every day. But the
voluntary principle has been respected and vindicated! Has it? True it
is that there has been a magnificent response to the Government's
appeals. The patriotism and devotion of one half of the nation have
effectively enabled the other half to evade its duty. But the time has
again come when the demand for more men is imperative. Voluntarism is
making its last efforts. Its devotees in their desperate endeavours to
prevent its formal abandonment are eliminating from it every element of
free will, and are introducing every device of veiled compulsion.
Canvassers and recruiting-sergeants have brought immense pressure to
bear upon every eligible man, under threats that unless he "volunteers"
he will shortly be fetched, and fetched on less favourable terms than
those now offered. Moreover, all sorts of other kinds of pressure are
added. The papers are full of instances. For example, the Foreign Office
is refusing passports to men of military age; the great shipping lines
are declining to take eligible emigrants; employers are refusing work
to applicants who they think might serve. Finally, Mr. Asquith, in the
House of Commons, gives the whole case away, and from the voluntarist
point of view perpetrates the great apostasy, by admitting that our
voluntary system of recruiting is "haphazard, capricious, and unjust,"
and by protesting that he has "no abstract or _a priori_ objection of
any sort or kind to compulsion in time of war," adding that he has no
intention whatever to go to the stake "in defence of what is called the
voluntary principle."[41] Poor "voluntary principle"! Already abandoned
in practice, and now thrown over by its former high-priest!


[40] This was written in December, 1915. A few weeks later the Military
Service Bill became law. Compulsion is to be applied from March 1st,

[41] House of Commons debate, November 2nd, 1915.


Is there any shred or remnant of this deserted and discredited voluntary
principle that is worth saving? There is not. It is the last
disreputable relic of the extreme individualism of the Manchester School
of the early nineteenth century, which taught a political theory that
has been abandoned by all serious thinkers. Everyone now admits that it
is the function of the State to secure as far as it can the conditions
of the good life to its citizens. It is the logical and inevitable
corollary that it is the duty of every citizen to support and safeguard
the State. It has long been one of the gravest weaknesses of our modern
democracy that, while it has insisted vehemently upon its claims against
the State--claims to education, employment, office, insurance, pension,
and so on--it has remained comparatively oblivious to its
responsibilities. Its so-called political leaders, who too often are but
self-seeking flatterers fawning for its favour, have persistently
encouraged it to concentrate its efforts upon getting without giving. It
has been taught that it is proper to use political power in pursuit of
selfish aims and to employ all manner of compulsion therein; but in the
matter of national service it has received soothing lessons on the
surpassing glories of the voluntary principle. It is the State which is
to be coerced by threats of passive resistance or general strikes; but
if the State attempts coercion in the exercise of its functions it is
met by the passionate proclamation of the rights of personal freedom.
Similarly, we have the amazing spectacle of Trade Unionists meeting in
congress to condemn "conscription" and at the same time sanctioning the
most extreme measures of illegal persecution to drive non-Unionists into
the ranks of their own organizations. It is a monstrous and intolerable
perversion of all sound political principles. The whole sorry business
is a flagrant example of the subtle way in which a democracy can be
cajoled, corrupted, and depraved.

I elaborated this point in a letter to the _Observer_ which the Editor
kindly allows me to reprint here. It will be found in the issue of
January 17th, 1915:

     One of the most curious phenomena of present-day politics is the
     opposition offered by collectivists to conscription--under which
     term they persistently and disingenuously include both the
     compulsory service of the German army and the very different
     universal military training of the Swiss citizen.

     Even Mr. Herbert Spencer and the extreme individualists of his
     school admitted that national defence is a proper function of the
     State, and that a government may rightly use compulsory powers to
     safeguard the community from attack.

     But Mr. Arnold Bennett and the semi-socialists of the _Daily
     Chronicle_ and the _Daily News_--although they are filled with
     horror and indignation if it is suggested that an artisan should be
     allowed to choose whether or not he will enjoy the advantages of
     the Insurance Act; or that a collier, if he wishes to do so, should
     be permitted to work for more than eight hours a day; or that a
     labourer should be exempted from persecution as a blackleg if he
     prefers to remain outside the fold of a trade union--are fired
     with a long-dormant zeal for individual liberty, if it is urged
     that a young man's citizenship is incomplete until he has been
     called and prepared to defend his home and his country in case of

     Their collectivism is, in fact, a peculiarly perverted or inverted
     type of individualism. It insists on the right of the individual,
     if unemployed, to come to the State for work; if in poverty, to
     come to the State for relief; if ignorant, to come to the State for
     education: but it strenuously resists the exercise by the State of
     its reciprocal claim on the service of the individual. It is
     engrossed by the contemplation of the rights of the individual and
     the duties of the State; it ignores the rights of the State and the
     duties of the individual.

     It is true that our voluntary system of military service has done
     wonders in this war, far more indeed than could ever have been
     expected of it; but this does not alter the fact that it is _wrong
     in principle_. It is quite conceivable that a similar voluntary
     system of monetary contributions would, if compulsory taxation were
     abolished, supply the necessities of government; but it would be a
     most iniquitous system, pressing heavily on the generous, and
     allowing the niggardly to escape. We all, in fact, admit that it
     would be entirely improper to replace the income-tax form by the
     begging-letter. For precisely the same reasons it is entirely
     improper that enlistment for home defence should depend on the
     voluntary sacrifice of the patriotic minority, while the careless
     and worthless majority elude their duty.

     It is, moreover, deeply humiliating to the national pride to see
     the protection of our shores, and the existence of our Empire,
     dependent on the response made to advertisements, to platform
     appeals, to music-hall songs, and to the kisses so generously
     proffered by popular actresses.

It will be no small compensation for the immeasurable losses of this war
if the lofty old-English ideals of duty and service are restored to
their rightful place in our political system, and if in respect of the
essentials of national existence, viz., defence of the realm and
obedience to law, we completely eliminate and frankly repudiate--as we
have already done in the sphere of taxation--the enervating one-sided
individualism of the voluntary principle.




For a long time past there has existed in this country a sort of
smouldering rebellion known as passive resistance. It is difficult to
say when it had its origin; but probably it could be traced back to the
Reformation. For it is merely a veiled manifestation of that anarchic
individualism and that morbid conscientiousness--the extremes of
qualities admirable in moderation--which first became formidable in
England on the break-up of mediæval Christendom. In recent times it has
displayed itself in many new forms, and on an increasingly large scale,
until now, in this great crisis of our fate, it has grown to be a
serious menace to the national unity, and a grave danger to the very
existence of the State. We have in our midst at the present day--to
mention only the leading specimens--Ritualists who refuse to obey
judgments of the Privy Council, or to heed injunctions issued by bishops
appointed by the Crown; Anti-Vivisectionists who resist regulations
regarded as essential by the health authorities; Undenominationalists
who decline to pay rates necessary to maintain the system of education
established by law; Christian Scientists whose criminal neglect in the
case of dangerous diseases not only renders them guilty of homicide, but
also imperils the welfare of the whole community; Suffragists who defy
all law comprehensively, on the ground that the legislature from which
it emanates is not constituted as they think it ought to be; Trade
Unionists who combine to stultify any Act of Parliament which conflicts
with the rules of their own organizations; and finally, a
No-Conscription Fellowship whose members expressly "deny the right of
Government to say, 'You _shall_ bear arms,'" and threaten to "oppose
every effort to introduce compulsory military service into Great
Britain."[42] Here is a pretty collection of aliens from the
commonwealth! It contains examples of almost every variety of
anti-social eccentricity. So diverse and conflicting are the types of
passive resistance represented that there is only one thing that can be
predicated of all the members of all the groups, and it is this--that
they are rebels.


[42] No-Conscription Manifesto printed in full in the _Morning Post_,
May 31st, 1915.


The essential preliminary to any useful discussion of passive resistance
is the clear recognition of the fact that it is rebellion, and nothing
less. To say, or admit, this is not necessarily to condemn it; for there
are few persons to-day, I suppose, who would contend that rebellion is
never justifiable. All it asserts is that passive resistance has to be
judged by the same measures and according to the same standards as any
other kind of revolt against constituted political authority. It is all
the more needful to make this plain because some of the milder but more
muddled among the resisters try to shut their eyes to the fact that they
are rebels. They claim to be sheep and not goats. They call themselves
Socialists; they profess an abnormal loyalty to the idea of the State;
they protest their devotion to the Great Society; they ask to be allowed
to make all sorts of sacrifices to the community; they announce their
willingness to do anything--except the one thing which the Government
requires them to do. The exception is fatal to their claim. "To obey is
better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." The State
does not and cannot submit the validity of its enactments to the private
judgment of its subjects. It expresses and enforces the general will,
and it dare not leave to the choice, or even to the conscience, of the
individual an option as to which of its commands shall be obeyed, and
which not. To do so would be to loose the bands of society, to bring to
an end the reign of law, and to plunge the community once again into
that primal chaos of anarchy from which in the beginning it painfully
emerged. The State demands, and must necessarily demand, implicit
obedience. From the loyal it receives it. Those from whom it does not
receive it are rebels, no matter how conscientious they may be, how
lofty their moral elevation, how sublimely passive their resistance. So
far as their disobedience extends they are the enemies of organized
society, disrupters of the commonwealth, subverters of government, the
allies and confederates of criminals and anarchists. It is worth noting,
moreover, how easily their passive resistance develops into more active
forms of rebellion. Not for long was the Suffragist content to remain
merely defensive in revolt; soon she emerged with whips for Cabinet
Ministers, hammers for windows, and bombs for churches. Resistant Trade
Unionists rapidly and generally slide into sabotage and personal
violence. The No-Conscriptionists of Ireland threaten through Mr.
Byrne, M.P., for Dublin, that "if Conscription is forced on Ireland, it
will be resisted by drilled and armed forces"[43]--a delightfully
Hibernian type of anti-militarism, which, nevertheless, throws a lurid
light on the real meaning of the movement. It is seen to be rebellion,
open, naked and unashamed.


[43] See _Times_, November 22nd, 1915.


Passive resistance, then, is rebellion; but, as has already been
admitted, it is not on that account necessarily unjustifiable. An
established government may be so hopelessly iniquitous that it ought to
be overthrown; an organized society may be so irremediably corrupt that
it merits disruption; duly enacted laws may, when judged by moral
standards, be so flagrantly unjust as to demand the resistance of all
good men. There is no need to labour the point: actual examples crowd
upon the mind. Who would condemn the revolt of the Greeks against
Turkish rule? Who would contend that the degenerate society of the later
Bourbon monarchy did not deserve dissolution? Who would maintain that
John Hampden and Oliver Cromwell had no moral warrant for their
resistance to Charles I, or their successors to James II. We may freely
allow that in these cases, and in many similar ones, there existed on
ethical grounds a right, or more strictly a communal duty, to rebel. Few
would now proclaim with Filmer the divine right of any government to
exact obedience quite irrespective of the wishes or the interests of its
subjects. Still fewer would agree with Hobbes that an original contract
precludes for ever all opposition to sovereign political authority. The
ground on which political obligation is asserted has been shifted. The
State is recognized as "an institution for the promotion of the common
good," and it is admitted that if it ceases to promote the common good
the obligation to obey it is transformed into an obligation to reform
it, or even to

     Shatter it to bits--and then
     Remould it nearer to the heart's desire.

But, viewed thus, the right of rebellion assumes an aspect of awful
responsibility, perhaps the most tremendous within the sphere of
politics that the mind can conceive. For rebellion means the breaking-up
of the existing order, the throwing of institutions into the
melting-pot, the letting loose of incalculable forces of discord and
destruction, the suspension of law, the return to chaos, in the hope
that out of the welter a new and better cosmos--one more fitted to
promote the common good--may be evolved. Every rebel, or prospective
rebel, whether of the passive or the active type, ought to ponder well
the logical consequences of his revolt against authority, ought to
consider the inevitable results that would flow from the general
adoption of the principles which he professes, ought to decide whether
or not he really desires to overthrow the polity under which he lives,
ought to ask if he and his fellows are able to face with any serious
hope of success the colossal task of constructing a new society on the
ruins of the old. Now the historic rebels to whom I have referred above
by way of example--the Greek Nationalists, the French Revolutionists,
the English Puritans and Whigs--did not hesitate to acknowledge the
nature of their acts, and were not unprepared to face their
consequences. They did not deceive themselves, or attempt to deceive
others, by false professions of loyalty. The Greeks proclaimed their
undying hostility to the Turks, fought them, shook off their yoke, and
erected a national kingdom on the ruins of Turkish tyranny. The French
Revolutionists openly declared war upon the old regime, eradicated it
by means of the guillotine, and established a republic where it had
been. Similarly the English Puritans repudiated allegiance to Charles I,
brought him to the block, and instituted the Commonwealth in his place;
while the Whigs drove out James II and set up the constitutional
monarchy of William and Mary. One can respect heroic rebels of these
types. They were honest and open; they attacked great abuses; they took
great risks, and they achieved notable results. Very different are our
modern rebels. They profess with nauseating unction loyalty to the State
whose dominion they are undermining; they claim to be exceptionally
virtuous members of the Society whose unity they are destroying; above
all they continue to demand with insolent effrontery the protection of
the very law and the very courts whose authority they are denying and
defying. They can be freed from the charge of the most revolting
hypocrisy only on the plea that "they know not what they do."


It is granted, then, that rebellion may sometimes be not only a
justifiable act, but also a bounden public duty. Three examples have
been given which perhaps may be allowed to have illustrated and
confirmed this view. It will be noted, however, that in each of the
cases cited the revolt was that of an oppressed community against a
government in which it had no part or lot, and over which it had no
constitutional control. Rebellion against a democracy on the part of
members of that democracy stands on a widely different footing. It is
treachery as well as insurrection. One can, indeed, conceive
circumstances which would justify it; but they would be rare and
exceptional, and that for two reasons. First, in a democracy
constitutional means are provided for the alteration of law and even for
the remodelling of the form of government. Secondly, if a democratic
government is undermined by disobedience, discredited by successful
defiance, destroyed by treasonable betrayal on the part of its own
professed supporters, there is nothing to take its place; the community
is bound either to drift into anarchy, or to revert to some sort of
tyranny. Let us consider these two points in turn. (1) The essence of
democracy is government according to the will of the majority. This
almost necessarily implies government in opposition to the will of one
or more minorities. But democratic minorities have a remedy--and it is
the peculiar virtue of democracy to provide it. It is this: by means of
argument, persuasion, and appeal; by press agitation and platform
campaign; through organization and combination, to convert themselves
into a majority. The whole of our English political system, the very
existence of our democratic constitution, depends upon the recognition
and acceptance of this rule of the game. If the will of the majority is
not to be regarded as authoritative, measures for reform of the
franchise, extension of the suffrage, and adjustment of the electoral
machine have no rational meaning at all. They are merely vanity and
vexation of spirit. What matter who makes the laws, or what laws are
made, if laws are not to be implicitly obeyed? Our extremists want to
have it both ways: they want to enforce law with majestic severity as
"the Will of the People," when they are in a majority; but they also
want to defy law with conscientious obstinacy as a violation of personal
freedom when they are in a minority. Some members of "The Union of
Democratic Control" are also members of the "No-Conscription
Fellowship"! Could inconsistency or muddle-headedness go further? Those
who wish to rule as part of a majority must be prepared to be overruled
as part of a minority. If minorities, instead of employing the
constitutional machinery placed at their disposal to secure the repeal
of obnoxious laws, are going to resist and rebel whenever the majority
does something of which they strongly disapprove, there is an end of
democratic government altogether, and a reversion to the state of
nature. T. H. Green in his _Principles of Political Obligation_ puts the
case clearly and well. He asks this very question, What shall an
individual do when he is faced by a command of a democratic government
which he believes to be wrong? He replies: "In a country like ours with
a popular government and settled methods of enacting and repealing laws,
the answer of common sense is simple and sufficient. He should do all he
can by legal methods to get the command cancelled, but till it is
cancelled, he should conform to it. The common good must suffer more
from resistance to a law or to the ordinance of a legal authority than
from the individual's conformity to the particular law or ordinance that
is bad, until its repeal can be obtained."[44] Here we have the true
ground of the duty of obedience. The antagonistic principle of passive
resistance provides a charter for criminals and anarchists.

(2) The second point needs little enlargement. It is clear from many
examples in both ancient and modern history that if a monarchy is
overthrown an aristocracy can take its place, and that if an aristocracy
is dispossessed of power, room is made for a democracy. But what do our
rebels against democracy propose to substitute for the sovereign will of
the majority, if they succeed by resistance in reducing it to impotence?
Possibly they hope that their own exalted will may prevail. Let them not
flatter themselves by any such vain dream. Even assuming what is
improbable, viz., that they remain united among themselves, can they
suppose that their example of successful revolt will remain without
imitators, or that their anti-social doctrines will never be applied
again? If they will not render obedience when they are in a minority,
who will obey them even if they have a majority behind them? Government
will cease; the reign of order will be at an end; Society will be
dissolved amid "red ruin and the breaking-up of laws."


[44] Green. _Principles of Political Obligation_, p. 111. _Cf._ Ritchie,
Natural Rights, p. 243.


The case seems clear. Passive resistance is rebellion, and it is
entirely inconsistent with loyalty to any form of government. In
relation to democratic government it is, moreover, on the part of
members of the democracy, treachery of a peculiarly heinous type, since
it is a betrayal of the sovereign community by those within its own
ranks. If the sovereign community does (as it easily may) by the vote of
its majority make enactments which seem to any one of its subjects to be
morally wrong, that subject has two legitimate courses open to him. He
may either obey under protest, and meantime use all lawful influence at
his disposal to convince the majority of the error of their ways, and
convert them to his way of thinking; or he may withdraw from the
community and its territories altogether, and go to some other part of
the wide world where the obnoxious enactment is not in force. What he
may _not_ do, is to remain within the community, enjoy all the
advantages of its ordered life, exercise its franchises, receive the
protection of its forces, claim the securities of its courts and the
liberties of its constitution, and at the same time refuse to render it

If in his misguided perversity he adopts this last-named course, the
duty of the State is plain. It is to call him to submission, or to
withdraw its protection from him. The person who will not recognize the
State's sovereignty, has no claim upon the services of the State. The
first essential of a government is that it should govern. It should, of
course, exercise the utmost care in issuing commands to avoid as far as
possible the giving of offence to tender consciences; but when once its
deliberate commands are issued, and so long as they remain unrepealed,
it should enforce them with calm but inexorable determination. Nothing
is more fatal to the very foundations of political society, than the
spectacle of a government that can be defied with impunity.[45] That
demoralizing spectacle has been seen far too often during recent years,
and at the moment when the war broke out it had led us to the verge of
national disaster. The war has brought us into closer touch with
realities than we had been for many a long year before, and it has
taught us how ruinous it is in fatuous complacency to "wait and see"
whither disorder, disloyalty, and disobedience will conduct us. If,
however, there are still in our midst ministers who tremble before
rebellion, and do not know how to act in the presence of organized
passive resistance, let me commend to them the worthy example of Edward
I, who in 1296 was faced by a general refusal on the part of the clergy
to pay taxes. He simply excluded them from the protection of the laws,
and closed his courts to their pleas. A few weeks of well-merited
outlawry brought to an end their ill-advised experiment in passive


[45] Maine (_Popular Government_, p. 64) emphasizes this point. "If," he
says, "any government should be tempted to neglect, even for a moment,
its function of compelling obedience to law--if a Democracy, for
example, were to allow a portion of the multitude of which it consists
to set some law at defiance which it happens to dislike--it would be
guilty of a crime which hardly any other virtue could redeem, and which
century upon century might fail to repair."




Few of those who lived through the critical ten days that culminated in
the outbreak of the Great War in August, 1914, will ever forget the
conflict of emotions which the events of that dramatic period called
forth. If I may speak of myself--though I think that I am merely one of
a large class--I was torn by the contending convictions, first, that
every consideration of honour and policy made it necessary for Britain
to go to the aid of Serbia, Belgium, France, and Russia in their
struggle against the wanton attack of the Central Empires; but,
secondly, that war is a relic of barbarism, wholly incompatible with
civilization, and entirely antagonistic to the Christian ideal. On the
one hand I realized the magnitude of the German menace to the
Commonwealth of Europe; recognized that the Teutonic race had long
plotted conquest, and that it was out for world-dominion; perceived the
significance of its monstrous demands on Serbia, and its shameless
violations of its treaty obligations to Luxemburg and Belgium; saw that
the triumph of the imperial militants would involve the disruption of
the concert of the nations, the abrogation of International Law
(laboriously instituted through three centuries of painful effort) and
the collapse of the democratic order; and felt, finally, that upon
British intervention depended the very existence of the British Empire
with all that it means of good to one-fifth part of the human race. Over
against this group of convictions I was confronted on the other hand by
a vision of the cosmopolitan and pacific Kingdom of God as proclaimed in
the Sermon on the Mount, and exemplified by Christ and His disciples in
Palestine, long ago--a Kingdom whose law is love; whose fundamental
principles are inexhaustible goodwill, meekness, gentleness,
brotherly-kindness and charity; whose administration works along the
gracious lines of sacrifice, unselfish devotion, and untiring
beneficence. Obviously, within the limits of such a Kingdom war is
inconceivable. Under such a regime, if it were universally established,
the one service which could never be demanded would be military
service. How can the consecrated servant of the Prince of Peace in any
circumstances become a man of war?

The reconciliation of the contradiction is, I think, not impossible. It
is to be effected, it seems to me, by recognizing that unflinching
resistance to evil is the supreme duty of the present, while the
realization of the ideal, pacific, and world-wide Kingdom of God is the
goal of the future; and, further, that the attainment of the goal
depends upon the performance of the duty. At the moment our high task is
to defend our homes, our rights, our liberties, our institutions, our
standards of justice, our hopes for humanity, against the diabolical
aggressor. In a happier day and a freer world we may hope that, as one
of the results of our present struggle and sacrifice, beneath the sway
of restored and vindicated law, a larger scope may be given for the
spread of the divine realm of love. The vindication of law must precede
the proclamation of peace. The goodwill that shall put an end to strife
must be based on triumphant justice and sovereign righteousness. As yet
we see not law supreme, or justice and righteousness in the ascendant.
So long as violence is rampant, and evil stalks abroad, we must be
prepared to fight even to the death. It is vain--it is worse than vain;
it is treasonable--to cry "Peace, peace," when there is no peace, and
when the conditions of peace do not exist.


The distinctive feature of the religion of the Bible is its indissoluble
connection with righteousness. Other primitive cults have been either
domestic, or economic, or political. Thus the Lares and Penates
safeguarded the pious Latin family irrespective of its ethical
character; the Greek deities, such as Dionysus and Aphrodite, were
frankly immoral, but if propitiated they gave plenty and prosperity; the
great gods of Rome were political personages who had no regard for
private virtues, and their proper worship was performed by State
officials whose functions strictly fell within the department of foreign
affairs. But the religion of the Chosen People, under both the Old and
the New Covenant, was, and still is, a faith whose keynote is divine
law. The standard which has led the hosts of Jehovah to victory
throughout the ages has been the lofty ethical code which it has
displayed and maintained. The Bible begins with the story of man's fall
from righteousness, and it ends with a vision of his restoration to
ideal holiness. The prime purpose of the religion of the Bible is the
conquest of sin, the defeat of the devil, the redemption of humanity,
the recovery of the lost paradise, and the re-establishment of the
Kingdom of Heaven. Milton made no mistake when he chose this as the
central theme of his two immortal epics. Everything else is secondary.

Now the means which the Bible describes and recognizes for the
attainment of its supreme end are broadly two, viz., the persuasion of
love, and the compulsion of force. In the case of all those who can be
reached thereby the gentler means are employed. With what infinite
patience were the Children of Israel led throughout their chequered
career; with what divine compassion were the faltering disciples guided
along the way of salvation! But where gentler means fail or are
inapplicable, sterner measures are unhesitatingly sanctioned. The Bible
knows nothing of the pernicious Manichæan objection to the use of
physical force to attain moral ends. In the beginning the rebellious
angels were overthrown in battle by Michael and his hosts. The
consummation of all things is to be reached as the result of the field
of Armageddon. The Old Testament history is a long record of wars
undertaken at the divine command, and to the Children of Israel Jehovah
was peculiarly the God of Battles. Nor does the New Testament, with all
its insistence on the power of love, ever condemn the Old Testament
theology as false, ever repudiate force as a moral agent, ever denounce
war as necessarily evil. On the contrary, it celebrates the achievements
of the heroes of Israel who "waxed valiant in fight"; it announces
irremediable destruction to the impenitent and unyielding wicked; it
recognizes to the fullest degree the civil authorities who wield the
sword of justice, and make themselves a terror to evil-doers; it
proclaims that those who take the sword shall perish by the sword; it
admits centurions and soldiers to the company of the elect without
suggesting that they should forsake their military duties; it tells how
on one notable occasion Christ Himself used force to cleanse the temple,
and so for ever sanctified its use.


The Church as a whole during the long and varied course of her history
has been true to the general Biblical principle that evil should, where
possible, be overcome by gentle means which give the evildoer room for
repentance, but that it should be stamped out by the force of inexorable
justice where gentle means have failed. No one can contend, I fear, that
the Church has always been wise or Christly in her application of this
sound Scriptural doctrine. She has, it must be admitted, sometimes
encouraged premature resort to force, and has given her blessing to
countless wanton wars. She has at other times treated as evils to be
suppressed by violent means offences which have been mere deviations
from her own arbitrary standards, and not violations of the eternal laws
of truth and right. Nevertheless, however imperfect her practice, all
her great teachers from Athanasius to Aquinas, and from Aquinas to the
present day, have rightly recognized the legitimacy of the employment of
force for moral purposes in the last resort, have admitted the
compatibility of Christianity with military service, and have confessed
that, evil as war is, there are evils still greater, and that the duty
of every Christian man may be to fight lest the cause of righteousness
and justice should suffer defeat. If the Church had taught otherwise--if
she had been captured by the Gnostic heresy of non-resistance--Mediæval
Christendom and Western Civilization would inevitably have been
destroyed by the assaults of Huns and Saracens, Magyars and Tartars,
Vikings and Turks; while within the borders of Christendom itself law
and order would have perished at the hands of wicked and violent men.
Similarly in modern times common Christian opinion has agreed that there
are causes worth fighting for and worth dying for. The English Puritans,
for instance, including the early Quakers, considered that political
freedom and religious liberty were ideals that justified and indeed
demanded armed resistance to tyranny. During the last three centuries
there have been few who, on religious grounds, have condemned the revolt
of Christian peoples against Turkish misrule. In the American Civil War
many professed pacificists felt that for the abolition of slavery they
must need take arms. In our own recent history men like Havelock,
Gordon, and Roberts have regarded as sacred trusts the tasks of saving
women and children from massacre, of suppressing fanatical and cruel
tyranny, of preventing intolerable wrong. The Church with confident
consistency has rightly sanctioned and sanctified their heroic
enterprises. While condemning wars of ambition, conquest, or revenge,
she has taught that those who take arms to defend from murderous
violence the weak and helpless, to maintain the priceless heritage of
freedom, and to vindicate the majesty of law, may with humble assurance
and firm faith pray for and expect the benediction of the Lord of Hosts.
The Christian doctrine of war is admirably summarized by Burke in the
words:--"The blood of man is well shed for our family, for our friends,
for our God, for our country, for our kind; the rest is vanity; the rest
is crime."[46]


[46] Burke. _Regicide Peace_, vi, 145.


Force, in short, has a proper and necessary place in the ethical sphere.
It is an indispensable instrument of the will to righteousness. The good
man and the good government resolve, in the spirit of the Lord, that
certain abominations shall not take place. They express their will in a
law. That law remains futile, it is a mockery and a fraud, unless they
are prepared to enforce it by all the means in their power, even if need
be by the shedding of blood. Much, no doubt, can and will be done to
secure obedience by education, by persuasion, and by appeal. Every
effort will be made to prevent the evildoer, and to convert him to the
good way. But the fact has to be faced that there are in the world
insensate scoundrels and hardened malefactors wholly beyond the reach of
education, persuasion, and appeal; men who have deliberately chosen evil
to be their good, and have made a binding compact with the powers of
darkness. With them force is the only possible argument. Unless it is
applied, there is nothing to prevent them from dominating the earth,
defying all law, and establishing the kingdom of the devil. At the back
of all effective law there is, in fact, physical force. Behind the
police stands the army. The magistrate would be wholly ineffective
without the soldier. The criminal population would laugh civilian
restraints to scorn, if it did not know that out of sight, but never far
away, are the bayonets and the guns of the ultimate defenders of the
peace. The salvation of the criminal is not everything: the salvation of
Society is more. Society would perish in a day if the basis of force
were removed from beneath the fabric of law. One of the falsest of false
generalizations is that which says that "force is no remedy." It is in
many cases the only remedy. In other cases it is better than a remedy;
it is a sovereign preventive of wrong. Force is the very essence of
government. By its means countless evils have been suppressed in the
past, such as highway-robbery, private war, duelling, piracy,
slave-trading. Only through fear of it is their recrudescence obviated.
If a man sees wrongs being perpetrated which he has strength to
prevent--if, for instance, he sees a child being tortured, a woman being
outraged, a helpless fellow-man being set upon and murdered--if he sees
these things and does not intervene with all his might, then he is not a
pacificist but a traitor to humanity, not a man but a contemptible or
infatuated worm. Similarly if a State stands on one side inactive while
small nations are wantonly stamped out of existence, while treaties are
violated, while International Law is defied, while unprecedented
barbarities are perpetrated, it sinks to the level of an accomplice in
crime, and proves itself worthy of the perdition which awaits those who
make "the great refusal."

The days of universal and enduring peace, for whose dawning we all
ardently look, will not be ushered in by any diminution of the forces
wielded by the powers of goodness in the world, but rather by their
immense increase. Just as in our own country the King's Peace became
the secure possession of every Englishman only when the King's might
became irresistible, so in the larger sphere of the Society of Nations
the world's peace will be firmly established only when it is maintained
by the united forces of all the federated Peoples of goodwill.


We, then, at the present moment are in the throes of a conflict from
which we had no honourable means of escape. Not to have taken our place
by the side of our Allies would have been to break our word, to violate
our faith, to betray the righteous cause. We are doing, at the cost of
awful sacrifice, our high duty; we have before us the noblest of
purposes; we are fighting with hands that are clean, with consciences
that are clear, and with hearts that are inspired by the courage of
conviction. It is our fervent hope and our faithful belief that if, in
spite of our wicked lack of preparation and our subsequent incredible
follies, Heaven grants us a good victory, we shall use it to further the
advance of humanity towards the goal of the Kingdom of God.

What that kingdom is we are shown in that matchless mosaic of
utterances attributed to Christ, known as the Sermon on the Mount. It is
the kingdom of righteousness, justice, love, and peace. When, however,
we study the details of the polity of that kingdom, as they are set
forth in the evangelical picture, we perceive (as the Church Universal
has always perceived and taught) that they are capable of realization
only in a Christian society cut off from the world, or in a world become
dominantly Christian. To give to all who ask, to lend indiscriminately
without expecting any return, would in society as at present constituted
not only speedily reduce ourselves to destitution; it would also
pauperize and demoralize those into whose hands our squandered wealth
should pass. To take no thought for the morrow, and to refuse to lay up
treasure on earth, would under existing economic conditions simply mean
that we should become useless burdens upon a thrifty and prudent
community. To ignore the legal and judicial institutions of our country
by neither judging nor going to law in cases where wrong has been
inflicted would be to foster the perpetration of crime in a world whose
very propensity towards crime has necessitated the establishment of the
courts. Similarly to decline to resist evil, where evil is rampant and
aggressive, would be to play the part of a traitor and to surrender the
world to the devil. The precepts of the Sermon on the Mount, however
liberally they may be interpreted, are, in short, the negation of civil
government; that is to say, they assume the existence of a community of
sanctified persons among whom civil government is unnecessary. The
irreducible minimum of civil government--as even the administrative
nihilists of the school of Herbert Spencer admit--involves three things,
viz., defence of life, protection of property, and enforcement of
contract. With these three things the precepts of the Sermon on the
Mount are, as they stand, incompatible.

All this is very obvious, and the consecrated common-sense of the Church
in every age has clearly perceived it. The political science of the
Apostles and the Early Fathers, and still more expressly that of their
successors, recognized the authority of kings, the jurisdiction of
courts, the justice of taxation, the rights of property, the majesty of
human law, the protective function of soldiers, and the necessity of
military service. All these were accepted as inevitable in society in
its present state of imperfect development; although it was proclaimed
that none of them would be required in the ideal Kingdom of God.

In the Sermon on the Mount itself, however, the truth as to the
relativity of Christian institutions is obscured by the faith of the
compiler that, when he wrote, the second advent of Christ was at hand,
and that the Kingdom of Heaven was immediately to be established. For
him there was no terrestrial future worthy of consideration; the reign
of the Messiah had already begun; the consummation of all things was
impending. Hence he did not feel it necessary, or indeed possible, to
distinguish between the ideal of the perfect day and the practical
policy of the actual moment. His citizenship already was in Heaven: to
him present and future were one. The eschatological hopes of the
evangelist were of course speedily dispelled, partly by mere lapse of
time, partly by the growing wisdom and experience of the Church. The
Church learned that its early expectation of the speedy and triumphant
return of its Lord was ill-founded, and that its task was to convert the
world to righteousness, not to preside over its immediate dissolution.
Hence it accommodated its doctrines and its institutions to the changed

This fact causes no difficulty to those who believe in the
progressiveness of revelation. Such as admit that New Testament ethics
show an advance on those of the Old, will hardly contend that in
politics any New Testament writer said the last word. What Tolstoy and
his literalist school call the corruption and secularization of the
Church was to no small degree a simple recognition of the facts that the
Earth continued to exist, and that the Roman Empire and not the New
Jerusalem was the dominant power therein. But though the Church as a
whole was guided safely through the crisis of disillusionment, it
nevertheless remains unfortunate that the compiler of the Sermon on the
Mount should have made the false assumption. For the picture which he
presents of the perfect man and the ideal society is so fascinating and
magnificent that it is not marvellous that saints and visionaries, in a
long and pathetic succession, should have repeated his error, should
have ignored the distinction between present and future, should have
assumed the actual existence of the Divine Kingdom towards which, as a
matter of fact, mankind has still a weary and protracted pilgrimage to
make; should have proclaimed the celestial anarchy, and should as a
result have been overwhelmed in tragic or ludicrous disaster.


Those who have asserted the present applicability of the full detailed
programme of the Sermon on the Mount, and have endeavoured to carry it
into immediate effect, have been scanty in numbers, and obscure. A few
early Christian communities, soon extinct; a few hermits isolated from
their fellows; a few monks in secluded cloisters; a few friars
repudiated by their own orders; a few small antinomian Protestant sects
springing up and vanishing with gourd-like rapidity; a few groups of
Slavonic dreamers forming the innocent extreme of the Nihilist
fraternity--such have been the leading professors of Gospel Anarchy. One
can, even while condemning them, respect them for their purity of
purpose, their lofty idealism, their sincerity, and their consistency in
following their false premiss to its logical conclusion.

Much more numerous, but far less worthy of regard, are those who have
picked and chosen among the precepts of the Lord, have accepted what
seemed good to them and have explained away the rest. It would be easy,
did space allow, to present a motley succession of fanatics and heretics
from apostolic days to the present who have developed fantastic theories
and have maintained them by means of passages drawn from the Sermon on
the Mount.

     No damned error, but some sober brow
     Will bless it, and approve it with a text.

Only one group, however, now concerns us, and that is the group of
anti-militarists who, for the most part arbitrarily ignoring or
repudiating the other commands of their authority, fasten on those
precepts that seem to inculcate the doctrine of non-resistance, and on
the strength of these erect the visionary superstructure of pacificism.
They form a strange and suspicious company. Among their early
representatives stand prominent the able advocate, but furious
schismatic, Tertullian; the amiable scholar, but heretically Gnostic,
Origen; the accomplished stylist, but bigoted and ignorant
special-pleader, Lactantius. It would not be a harsh judgment to say
that most of the early pacificists had some twist of mind or character
that disturbed the perfect balance of their sanity.

The later sects who have included pacificism in fleeting religious
systems of varying degrees of impossibility and absurdity are still more
open to suspicion on mental and moral grounds. The Cathari, the
Waldenses, the Anabaptists, and the "Family of Love," not only
developed monstrous doctrines: they also boasted of an antinomian
freedom from legal restraint which led some of their devotees into such
wild excesses of conduct as made their destruction inevitable. The
Franciscan Tertiaries, who never wholly abjured war, became involved in
the conflict between the Empire and the Papacy, and departed from their
ideal. The more recent Nazarenes in Hungary and Doukhobors in Russia and
Canada have shown themselves, by their refusal to recognize and obey any
form of government, a hopeless nuisance to any community that is
unfortunate enough to be afflicted by their presence. It surely must
give the present-day pacificists pause, if anything can do so, to find
themselves mixed up with such a throng. If men are to be judged by their
company, they can hardly hope to escape certification.

It is true that the Society of Friends has a more respectable history.
But the Society of Friends has for the most part consisted of sensible
persons who have accepted the common Christian interpretation of the
Sermon on the Mount, and so have been pacificists of an unusually
moderate type--by no means unconditional non-resisters. Just as they do
not give indiscriminately, or lend (especially such of them as are
prosperous bankers) expecting no return, or refrain from judging, or
going to law, or laying up treasure on earth, or taking thought for the
morrow, so they do not interpret literally the command "resist not
evil." They accept the constitution of the country, the government of
which is based on force; they pay taxes for the maintenance of the army
and the navy, and admit their necessity; they support the police, and
call it in if their persons or property are threatened; many of them, to
their infinite credit, actually join the fighting forces when they feel
that great moral issues are at stake. George Fox himself, the founder of
the Society, was an extremely belligerent and even truculent individual.
He supported the militant Cromwellian regime, and it was only after the
collapse of the Puritan Commonwealth, which was based on the force of
the New Model army, that he abjured all weapons of offence, except his
tongue. Isaac Pennington, his contemporary and friend, was actually a
chaplain in the New Model (which contained many Quakers), and to the
very end he was engaged in stirring it up to repeat its early exploits
against "Babylon." His writings contain the passage: "I speak not
against any magistrates or peoples defending themselves against foreign
invasions, or making use of the sword to suppress the violent and
evil-doers within their borders; for this the present state of things
may and doth require."[47] A sounder and saner statement of good
Christian teaching on the matter of police and military service one
could not desire. With this admission in one's mind, one can view with
unqualified admiration the efforts of the Friends to eliminate war, and
to perfect the methods of peace in the intercourse of men. More than
most Christian people have they laboured effectively to hasten the
advent of the Kingdom of God. It is true that their attempts in
Pennsylvania and elsewhere to establish a pacificist regime have
failed--it was inevitable that they should fail--but this does not in
any way lessen the debt which the world owes to them for their powerful
and far-reaching influence in favour of love and gentleness and peace.


[47] I quote from J. W. Graham, _War from a Quaker Point of View_, p.
71. See also my review of this book in _Hibbert Journal_, No. 55.


The sum of the matter seems to be this. Government is necessary in this
present evil world. Only by means of sovereign political authority,
based upon physical as well as moral force, can there be effective
"punishment of wickedness and vice" or "maintenance of true religion
and virtue." This is clearly recognized in the Bible, which proclaims
that "the powers that be are ordained of God," which enjoins obedience
to kings and governors as a religious duty, and which sees in the sword
of justice carried by the secular ruler a weapon directed against the
same enemies as oppose the establishment of the Kingdom of God. It is
essential for the well-being and even for the existence of society, that
crime should be suppressed. Hence, in addition to moralists and
ministers who seek to educate and convert, there must be police and
soldiers--in short, the full organized force of the community--ready to
stamp out incorrigible villainy, if need be with blood and iron.
Similarly, it is essential for the well-being and even for the existence
of the polity of peoples--the growing society of nations--that
aggression should be prevented, that treacherous intrigues should be
frustrated, that treaty engagements should be enforced, that the reign
of law should be confirmed. But, in order to realize this end, there is
need not only of pacific missions and cosmopolitan congresses, but also
of an armed might sufficient to prevent or to punish with irresistible
certainty breaches of international conventions and violations of the
World's peace. Hence, whether we have regard to internal good
government, or the maintenance of international justice, the need of
military force is imperative. Not only does there exist what the
Russians quaintly call a "Christ-serving and worthy militancy," there
are occasions, of which the present is one, when military service
becomes the highest form of Christian duty. To hold aloof is not to
display a superior form of Christianity; it is to be an apostate. As
Solovyof has impressively shown in his notable conversations on _War and
Christianity_, pacificism under present conditions is that very sort of
religious imposture with which is associated the abominable name of




Most of our recent political troubles are attributable to what Fortescue
in the fifteenth century called "lack of governance." We are all of us
painfully aware of the fact; but we are not all of us equally conscious
that the feebleness and inefficiency of our supreme administration are
to no small extent due to the absence among our people as a whole of any
adequate idea of the position and function of the State. For if it is
true generally that every nation has the sort of government that it
deserves, it is specially true of a nation with democratic institutions.
Weaknesses of intellect, infirmities of will, and faults of character in
the sovereign representative assembly are but reproductions on a
magnified scale of the same defects in the electorate. It is the failure
of our people as a whole to realize the idea of the State that has
resulted in the filling of the House of Commons with men who stand, not
for the Nation in its unity and the Empire in its integrity, but for all
sorts of limited and conflicting sectional interests--parties, leagues,
fellowships, unions, cliques, schools, churches, orders, classes,
trusts, syndicates, and so on. No wonder that in times of national and
imperial crisis such representatives prove totally unequal to the duty
of strong, corporate, and patriotic administration.

The weakness of the idea of the State among the peoples of the British
Isles is explicable on geographical and historical grounds. For the idea
of the State--that is to say, the idea of society politically organized
as an indivisible unit under a sovereign government--although it has
other and deeper sources of vitality, is specially fostered by a sense
of national danger, but tends to languish when complete immunity from
external peril can be postulated. Never has the realization of "the
commonwealth of this realm of England" been so strong as it was in the
days when Spanish invasion threatened. The splendid patriotism of that
great age is portrayed for all time in the immortal glory of
Shakespeare's historical plays. Not far short, however, rose the
patriotic realization of national unity during the crisis of the
Napoleonic struggle. Wordsworth's magnificent _Sonnets dedicated_ to
Liberty remain as the enduring memorial of the heights which British
State-consciousness then attained:

                       In our halls is hung
     Armoury of the invincible knights of old:
     We must be free or die, who speak the tongue
     That Shakespeare spoke; the faith and morals hold
     Which Milton held. In everything we are sprung
     Of Earth's first blood, have titles manifold.

But, except at rare intervals, Britain's insular position has given her
people so soothing a sense of security that they have allowed the
conception of the commonwealth to droop, and have tended to regard the
State as, under normal conditions, a nuisance which should as far as
possible be abated, as an intruder into the sphere of private enterprise
which should be extruded, as an enemy to liberty which should be
suppressed. It may readily be admitted that in days before the State had
been democratized this hostile attitude was not without justification.
In the early seventeenth century, for instance, the State meant the
Stuart monarch--_L'État c'est Moi_--and the interests of the Stuart
monarch were by no means those of any of the nations that he governed.
In the early eighteenth century the State meant the Whig oligarchy, and
its members only too easily came to regard the welfare of the Empire as
identical with their own prosperity. In the early nineteenth century the
State meant the landed and moneyed magnates of the Tory aristocracy, and
they had an extremely inadequate apprehension of the needs and
aspirations of the rapidly increasing millions over whom they exercised
authority. Hence one can understand that opposition to the policy of
Stuart king, or Whig nobility, or Tory plutocracy, readily took the form
of antagonism to the State as such. Thus the political theory of Milton
and the Puritans not only justified resistance to Charles I, it also
proclaimed a doctrine of the natural rights of the individual fatal to
all types of government. Similarly the political theory of Adam Smith
and the _laissez-faire_ economists, together with that of their
contemporaries, Bentham and the utilitarian philosophers, not only
attacked the restrictive regulations of the Whig oligarchy, but showed
on general principles the strongest dislike of what it called "State
interference" in all circumstances. So, too, Herbert Spencer and the
nineteenth century school of scientific individualists not only
demonstrated (as they did with extraordinary pungency and success) the
extreme folly and incompetence of the main government departments of
their own day; they also sought to establish the eternal and inevitable
antagonism of Man versus the State, and to limit universally the
functions of government to the irreducible minimum.

This attitude of hostility, however, ceased to have its old
justification with the advent of democracy. The Reform Acts of 1832,
1867, and 1884 have so enlarged the electorate as to convert government
into something approaching self-government, and the State has become the
organized form of democracy itself. Hence the individualism of Milton,
Adam Smith, Bentham, and Spencer is an anachronism. It is not
remarkable, then, that, following Parliamentary Reform, the idea of the
State revived in Britain with new force and in a new form--no longer
stimulated by the pressure of extreme peril, but excited by the new
possibilities of corporate democratic activity. The young lions of the
Fabian Society in their optimistic infancy were filled with the idea of
the State, and advocated State action in wide spheres of industrial
organization, municipal enterprise, and social reform. The Imperial
Federation League gloried anew in the name of Britain, and strove to
bring the four quarters of the earth within the circle of a
self-conscious Empire. Later on, the Tariff Reform League demanded
State-control and regulation of our world-wide commerce.

But the revival of the idea of the State, under the stimulus of
Socialists, Imperialists, Protectionists, and others, was short lived.
All these enthusiasts became disappointed and disgusted with democracy
and with the State which it controls. Democracy did not move fast enough
for them, nor always in the direction that they desired. Hence--and most
markedly since the dawn of the twentieth century--a reaction against the
State has set in. There has been, as we have already seen, an epidemic
of passive resistance. Individualists of all sorts, together with Trade
Unionists, Syndicalists, Clericals, Suffragists, No-Conscriptionists,
Ulstermen, Nationalists, and other bodies, giving up the attempt to
convert democracy and to secure their ends through the sovereign agency
of the democratic State, are taking direct action, are proclaiming rival
authorities to the State, and are threatening the very existence of the
body politic. The outlook is ominous, and it needs to be steadily faced.
The present moment, moreover, is peculiarly favourable for its
consideration. For the sudden and unexpected return of extreme national
danger has once again quickened in our midst the idea of the State, has
revived the spirit of patriotism, has restored the national unity, and
has reenforced the principle of civic service. We can see under the
revealing searchlight of the war the anarchy towards which we have been
drifting during the past ten or more years.


The first rival of the State that calls for consideration is the
Individual. His rights as against the government are still loudly
proclaimed. "The chief message of 1915," says one of our leading
individualists, Rev. Dr. Clifford, in a New Year's oration to his
flock,[48] "is a clarion call to guard our personal and democratic
liberties against the attacks of State absolutism." The idea of guarding
"democratic liberties" against democracy itself is, of course, mere
nonsense--one of those point-blank contradictions in terms which, though
full of sound and fury, signify nothing. It is, however, unfortunately,
typical of much of the loose thinking and vague talking indulged in by
the leaders of those pestilent anti-patriotic unions and fellowships
which infest and harass the country at the present moment. The idea of
guarding "personal liberties" against democracy is not so palpably
absurd; it does not involve a contradiction in terms. Moreover, it
appears to have some relation to the admitted fact that the rule of a
democracy may press very heavily upon some or all of its constituent
members. Nevertheless, it is equally fallacious. It rests upon a false
antithesis between the individual and the community to which he belongs.
No such antithesis exists. "The individual," rightly says Mr. W. S.
McKechnie, "apart from all relations to the community is a
negation."[49] In similar strain, Mr. E. Barker contends that "a full
and just conception of the individual abolishes the supposed opposition
between the Man and the State."[50] Long ago Hegel exclaimed: "Our life
is hid with our fellows in the common life of our people," and his true
and fruitful conception forms the basis of the political philosophy of
T. H. Green, F. H. Bradley, and Bernard Bosanquet. It is, also, the
foundation of all that is good and enduring in present-day Socialism.
The individual apart from society is a mere abstraction, like the
"economic man" of the old economists.

What, then, are these so-called "personal liberties" which the
individual is supposed to possess in virtue of his humanity and
independently of any authority external to himself? If it is said that
they are freedom of thought, freedom of emotion, and freedom of will,
the criticism is that these are not "liberties" at all, but merely
movements of the mind which no power whatsoever external to the
individual can possibly control, and with which no political authority
in the country would ever dream of attempting to interfere. If, however,
it is said that they include further such things as freedom of speech,
freedom of writing, freedom of public meeting, freedom to act generally
as conscience dictates, the criticism is that such liberties as these
are not "personal" merely, or even primarily: they are liberties that
profoundly affect the community. Regarded from the communal point of
view, in fact, they are not "personal liberties" at all, if by that term
is meant individual rights. They are rights derived from the community;
they are concessions to be granted or withheld according to the
requirements of public policy; they are matters of regulation by the
common will. Society does not, and cannot, recognize the existence,
independent of its own consent, of any such so-called "personal
liberties." It does not, and cannot, admit the possession by individuals
of any rights, inherent and indefeasible, to do as they like in matters
that concern the interests of the community generally. Still less can
the State be expected to protect individuals in the exercise of
activities which it regards as detrimental, or in the neglect of duties
which it regards as essential, to the general well-being. It cannot
restrain anyone's conscience; but it must control everyone's conduct.
All this, of course, is the commonplace of political theory, and it is
curious that at this late day one should have to repeat Burke's
destructive criticism of metaphysic liberties, or Bentham's damning
exposure of the "anarchic fallacy" of the Rights of Man, or Mr. D. L.
Ritchie's quite recent dissipation of the errors underlying the idea of
Natural Rights. But it is still more curious that many of the men who
revive against the modern democratic State this long-laid ghost of
eighteenth-century individualism call themselves Socialists, and invoke
the State (when it suits them to do so) to embark on all manner of
anti-individualistic enterprises. This anomaly, however, is merely one
among many flagrant instances of that ignorance of precedent which
revives long-buried heresies, that incapacity for thought which seems
unaware of inconsistencies, or that shameless perversity which seeks out
and proclaims any sort of general principle which happens to suit the
exigencies of the moment.

A second rival to the State is Political Party. At the present juncture
there are four important political parties in existence in the British
Isles, viz., Liberal, Conservative, Nationalist, Labour, beside various
incipient ones. The two old parties, Liberal and Conservative, stand for
more or less clearly defined and sharply opposed general principles.
Hallam has described them as the party of progress and the party of
order respectively; and he (followed by Macaulay and other writers) has
devoted a good deal of care to the elucidation of the fundamental
differences between them. These old parties are by far the most vital
and powerful political entities in the United Kingdom. They have
deep-rooted traditions, efficient organizations, large funds secretly
raised and administered, formulated programmes, and all the
paraphernalia of habitations, catchwords, and badges calculated to
excite loyalty and stimulate zeal. They secure in alternation the
control of the State, and administer in the name of the nation as a
whole the vast affairs of the British Empire. It may be at once
admitted that parties such as these are inevitable in any system of
representative government. For so long as fundamental differences of
opinion exist among electors, it is only by means of organizations based
on the primary opposing principles that any working constitution can be
framed. To attack party-government as such is vain and even absurd.
Nevertheless, party has become the rival of the State; and its rivalry
is all the more dangerous and insidious because it always professes to
act in the interests of the State and on behalf of the nation as a
whole. Its professions, however, have become false and hypocritical. In
the name of the People it seeks its own gain. It has ceased to be a
means to good democratic government, and has grown to be an end in
itself. In its rivalry to other parties, in its struggle for power, in
its scramble for the spoils of office, in its eagerness to secure votes,
it has debased political ideals, it has corrupted citizenship, it has
abandoned truth, it has proclaimed smooth lies, it has betrayed the
State, it has almost destroyed the nation. Happy indeed will it be if
this war, which is revealing to us the hideousness and deadliness of the
party-spirit, enables us to reduce the old parties to their proper place
of subordination to the State.

In addition to the two old parties, however, there are two
comparatively new ones which occupy places of importance in the world of
politics. These are the Nationalist and the Labour parties. Neither of
these professes to make the interests of the State its prime concern.
The one concentrates its energies upon a struggle to advance the cause
of a single nation from among the four that constitute the United
Kingdom; the other devotes itself to the affairs of a single social
class. The existence of these powerful sectional organizations is a
disastrous portent. They stand, not as the old parties do for divergent
views concerning the interests of the State as a whole, but for mortal
schism in the body politic. Never can there be a full return to healthy
national life until means have been found for reabsorbing these and
other incipient schismatic organizations into the unity of the Great

A third rival to the State has recently come into prominence in the
shape of a number of various non-political corporations which claim to
possess an organic existence independent of, and co-ordinate with, the
State, and thus deny the right of the State to intrude within the
spheres of their operations. The most important are the Syndicalists,
who proclaim the autonomy of the industrial union or guild, and the
Ecclesiastics, who assert the autonomy of the denationalized church.
Both agree in repudiating political control, and in abjuring the use of
political instruments. They rely upon "direct action" of their own, the
one employing the terrors of the general strike to overawe the
community, the other the horrors of hell. Now it may be freely granted
that one of the most notable advances in modern political theory has
been the recognition of the fact that men naturally organize themselves
into groups--families, clans, tribes; sects, societies, churches;
guilds, trade unions, clubs, and so on--and that the State is rather a
federation of groups than an association of isolated individuals. It may
be granted, secondly, that some of these organizations are anterior to
the State in point of time, and that they deal with matters that are not
appropriate for direct State control. Finally, it may be granted that
the State will be well advised to leave some or all of them in
possession of large powers of self-administration. Nevertheless, when
once the Great Society has come into existence, and has organized itself
as the National State, they must, if anarchy is to be avoided, all take
their places as constituent members of the community, and recognize that
they exercise such autonomous powers as they possess in virtue of the
permission of the general will. The State, however prudently it may
employ its powers, must be, and must be universally admitted to be, in
all causes, civil or ecclesiastical, throughout all its dominions, in
the last resort, supreme. In the interests of the common good it cannot
tolerate any rivals.


[48] Reported in _Daily Chronicle_, January 4th, 1916.

[49] McKechnie. _The State and the Individual_, p. 3.

[50] Barker. _Political Thought from Spencer to the Present-Day_, p.


In the purification and exaltation of the Democratic National State
rests the one hope of the salvation of Britain and the Empire. In a
federation of Democratic National States resides the best prospect of
the future peaceful and well-ordered government of the world. The
individualism of Dr. Clifford leads straight to anarchy; the unchecked
development of the party-system means the corrupt tyranny of the caucus;
the triumph of Syndicalism would involve the tragedy of class war; the
dream of the reunion of humanity in the bosom of a cosmopolitan church
is a vain revival of a mediæval illusion. The individual must be brought
to recognize that politically he has no separate existence, and must
learn to limit his operations to his proper share in the constitution
and determination of the general will; party must be remorselessly
reduced to its legitimate subordination to the interests of the
community as a whole; syndicates and trade unions must be prevented from
cutting themselves loose from the body of the nation, must be compelled
to recognize the supremacy of the law of the land, and must be deprived
of any inequitable privileges which they may have secured; ecclesiastics
of all orders must be persuaded to rest content with such autonomy as
the general will may grant them, and must strive to become, not a
separate corporation, but the indwelling and directing conscience of the
people. The State must be supreme.

What is the State which is thus exalted above all rivals? Let Mr.
Bernard Bosanquet answer. "The State," he says, "is not merely the
political fabric. The term 'State' accents indeed the political aspect
of the whole, and is opposed to the notion of an anarchic society. But
it includes the entire hierarchy of institutions by which life is
determined, from the family to the trade, and from the trade to the
church and the university. It includes all of them, not as the mere
collection of the growths of the country, but as the structures which
give life and meaning to the political whole, while receiving from it
mutual adjustment, and therefore expansion and a more liberal air."[51]
In a similar strain T. H. Green says: "The State is for its members, the
society of societies, the society in which all their claims upon each
other are mutually adjusted."[52] The keynote of both of these profound
utterances is "adjustment." They recognize the fact that the convictions
and opinions of individuals differ, that the purposes of parties
conflict, that the interests of racial units and social classes diverge
from one another, that the demands of churches are mutually
irreconcilable. They recognize further that unless individuals, parties,
races, classes, churches agree in acknowledging the adjusting authority
of the general will of the community to which all belong, endless
struggle and hopeless chaos must supervene. No pretension is made that
the State is of supernatural origin; no claim to divine right is
advanced. It is admitted that the State at one time did not exist. It is
foreseen that a day may come when it will be merged in a still larger
community. But for the present it is the only possible organ by means of
which the common will can operate in the interests of the common good.
The basis of its claim for obedience rests upon the facts, first, that
every individual subject, and every organized group of subjects, owes to
the State, and to it alone, the conditions that make existence possible,
and secondly, that only as a member of the State can the individual
attain to his full development, and only under the protection of the
State can the group achieve its purposes. The attainment of the common
good, as that good is conceived of by the common intelligence, and by
means which the common will determines--such is the ideal of the
Democratic National State. Here surely is a sphere in which every man
can find the fullness of life.


[51] Bosanquet. _Philosophical Theory of the State_, p. 150.

[52] Green. _Principles of Political Obligation_, p. 146.


The above statement of the ideal of the Democratic National State brings
home to the mind a realization of the magnitude of the sphere which lies
open to National Service in the broad sense of the term. Democracy is
sovereign; although it is flouted by individuals, deluded and debauched
by parties, and challenged by separatist syndicates. It must remain
sovereign, and its sovereignty must be made a more real, more conscious,
and more effective thing than it has ever been before. Rarely, however,
has there been a sovereign less adequately equipped than democracy for
its gigantic responsibilities. One of its most enthusiastic modern
supporters, Professor John MacCunn, gravely admits that "Democracy,
still raw to its work, whether in politics or industry, may blunder--may
blunder fatally."[53] Long ago it was pointed out by Plato that
democracy is the cult of incompetence. In more recent times Mill has
emphasized the possibility that democracy may govern badly and
oppressively; Maine has warned us that the dominance of the commonalty
may end in the triumph of the mediocre, and a more than Chinese
stagnation; Carlyle has denounced democracy as powerful for destruction,
but impotent for building up, as helpless in the face of great
emergencies, as incapable of choosing good leaders; Lecky has
demonstrated the danger of the corruption of the democracy by evil
politicians; Belloc has shown how it tends to develop, and then become a
slave to, a bureaucracy; Graham Wallas has portrayed the psychological
peril of its hypnotization by colours and claptrap. All the dangers thus
enumerated are real and formidable. They have, however, to be faced and
overcome by men of goodwill: for there is now no alternative to
democracy but anarchy. Fortunately they may be faced in confidence and
hope. For the British democracy--as the revealing crisis of this great
war has shown--is sound at heart, is eager to be delivered from its
betrayers, and is longing to learn. It calls pathetically for those who
know to teach it, and for those who can to lead it. Here, then, is the
sphere of National Service. Who will not come forward to help democracy
to become conscious of its power and its dignity; to aid it in
establishing its authority over all rebels and rivals; to teach it how
to use its omnipotence gently, so as to leave to those beneath its sway
the largest possible room for freedom consistent with the common good;
to make it aware of its responsibilities for its vast dominions across
the seas and their teeming populations; to awaken it to a realization of
the extent to which the whole future of the human race rests upon the
success of its experiment in government? It is in the service of such a
sovereign as this, and in the pursuit of such an ideal, that faithful
souls attain that self-realization which is perfect freedom.


[53] MacCunn. _Six Radical Thinkers_, p. 69.



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