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Title: Human Nature in Politics - Third Edition
Author: Wallas, Graham, 1858-1932
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.

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I offer my thanks to several friends who have been kind enough to read
the proofs of this book, and to send me corrections and suggestions;
among whom I will mention Professors John Adams and J.H. Muirhead, Dr.
A. Wolf, and Messrs. W.H. Winch, Sidney Webb, L. Pearsall Smith, and
A.E. Zimmern. It is, for their sake, rather more necessary than usual
for me to add that some statements still remain in the text which one or
more of them would have desired to see omitted or differently expressed.

I have attempted in the footnotes to indicate those writers whose books
I have used. But I should like to record here my special obligation to
Professor William James's _Principles of Psychology_, which gave me, a
good many years ago, the conscious desire to think psychologically about
my work as politician and teacher.

I have been sometimes asked to recommend a list of books on the
psychology of politics. I believe that at the present stage of the
science, a politician will gain more from reading, in the light of his
own experience, those treatises on psychology which have been written
without special reference to politics, than by beginning with the
literature of applied political psychology. But readers who are not
politicians will find particular points dealt with in the works of the
late Monsieur G. Tarde, especially _L'Opinion et la Foule_ and _Les Lois
de l'Imitation_ and in the books quoted in the course of an interesting
article on 'Herd Instinct,' by Mr. W. Trotter in the _Sociological
Review_ for July 1908. The political psychology of the poorer
inhabitants of a great city is considered from an individual and
fascinating point of view by Miss Jane Addams (of Chicago) in her
_Democracy and Social Ethics_.



I have made hardly any changes in the book as it first appeared, beyond
the correction of a few verbal slips. The important political
developments which have occurred during the last eighteen months in the
English Parliament, in Turkey, Persia, and India, and in Germany, have
not altered my conclusions as to the psychological problems raised by
modern forms of government; and it would involve an impossible and
undesirable amount of rewriting to substitute 'up-to-date' illustrations
for those which I drew from the current events of 1907 and 1908. I
should desire to add to the books recommended above Mr. W. M'Dougall's
_Social Psychology_, with special reference to his analysis of Instinct.



_30th December 1909._


This edition is, like the second edition (1910), a reprint, with a few
verbal corrections, of the first edition (1908). I tried in 1908 to make
two main points clear. My first point was the danger, for all human
activities, but especially for the working of democracy, of the
'intellectualist' assumption, 'that every human action is the result of
an intellectual process, by which a man first thinks of some end which
he desires, and then calculates the means by which that end can be
attained' (p. 21). My second point was the need of substituting for that
assumption a conscious and systematic effort of thought. 'The whole
progress,' I argued, 'of human civilisation beyond its earliest stages,
has been made possible by the invention of methods of thought which
enable us to interpret and forecast the working of nature more
successfully than we could, if we merely followed the line of least
resistance in the use of our minds' (p. 114).

In 1920 insistence on my first point is not so necessary as it was in
1908. The assumption that men are automatically guided by 'enlightened
self-interest' has been discredited by the facts of the war and the
peace, the success of an anti-parliamentary and anti-intellectualist
revolution in Russia, the British election of 1918, the French election
of 1919, the confusion of politics in America, the breakdown of
political machinery in Central Europe, and the general unhappiness which
has resulted from four years of the most intense and heroic effort that
the human race has ever made. One only needs to compare the
disillusioned realism of our present war and post-war pictures and poems
with the nineteenth-century war pictures at Versailles and Berlin, and
the war poems of Campbell, and Berenger, and Tennyson, to realise how
far we now are from exaggerating human rationality.

It is my second point, which, in the world as the war has left it, is
most important. There is no longer much danger that we shall assume that
man always and automatically thinks of ends and calculates means. The
danger is that we may be too tired or too hopeless to undertake the
conscious effort by which alone we can think of ends and calculate

The great mechanical inventions of the nineteenth century have given us
an opportunity of choosing for ourselves our way of living such as men
have never had before. Up to our own time the vast majority of mankind
have had enough to do to keep themselves alive, and to satisfy the blind
instinct which impels them to hand on life to another generation. An
effective choice has only been given to a tiny class of hereditary
property owners, or a few organisers of other men's labour. Even when,
as in ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia, nature offered whole populations
three hundred free days in the year if they would devote two months to
ploughing and harvest, all but a fraction still spent themselves in
unwilling toil, building tombs or palaces, or equipping armies, for a
native monarch or a foreign conqueror. The monarch could choose his
life, but his choice was poor enough. 'There is,' says Aristotle, 'a way
of living so brutish that it is only worth notice because many of those
who can live any life they like make no better choice than did

The Greek thinkers started modern civilisation, because they insisted
that the trading populations of their walled cities should force
themselves to think out an answer to the question, what kind of life is
good. 'The origin of the city-state,' says Aristotle, 'is that it
enables us to live; its justification is that it enables us to live

Before the war, there were in London and New York, and Berlin, thousands
of rich men and women as free to choose their way of life as was
Sardanapalus, and as dissatisfied with their own choice. Many of the
sons and daughters of the owners of railways and coal mines and rubber
plantations were 'fed up' with motoring or bridge, or even with the
hunting and fishing which meant a frank resumption of palaeolithic life
without the spur of palaeolithic hunger. But my own work brought me into
contact with an unprivileged class, whose degree of freedom was the
special product of modern industrial civilisation, and on whose use of
their freedom the future of civilisation may depend. A clever young
mechanic, at the age when the Wanderjahre of the medieval craftsman used
to begin, would come home after tending a 'speeded up' machine from 8
A.M., with an hour's interval, till 5 P.M. At 6 P.M. he had finished his
tea in the crowded living-room of his mother's house, and was 'free' to
do what he liked. That evening, perhaps, his whole being tingled with
half-conscious desires for love, and adventure, and knowledge, and
achievement. On another day he might have gone to a billiard match at
his club, or have hung round the corner for a girl who smiled at him as
he left the factory, or might have sat on his bed and ground at a
chapter of Marx or Hobson. But this evening he saw his life as a whole.
The way of living that had been implied in the religious lessons at
school seemed strangely irrelevant; but still he felt humble, and kind,
and anxious for guidance. Should he aim at marriage, and if so should he
have children at once or at all? If he did not marry, could he avoid
self-contempt and disease? Should he face the life of a socialist
organiser, with its strain and uncertainty, and the continual
possibility of disillusionment? Should he fill up every evening with
technical classes, and postpone his ideals until he had become rich? And
if he became rich what should he do with his money? Meanwhile, there was
the urgent impulse to walk and think; but where should he walk to, and
with whom?

The young schoolmistress, in her bed-sitting-room a few streets off, was
in no better case. She and a friend sat late last night, agreeing that
the life they were living was no real life at all; but what was the
alternative? Had the 'home duties' to which her High Church sister
devoted herself with devastating self-sacrifice any more meaning? Ought
she, with her eyes open, and without much hope of spontaneous love, to
enter into the childless 'modern' marriage which alone seemed possible
for her? Ought she to spend herself in a reckless campaign for the
suffrage? Meanwhile, she had had her tea, her eyes were too tired to
read, and what on earth should she do till bedtime?

Such moments of clear self-questioning were of course rare, but the
nerve-fretting problems always existed. Industrial civilisation had
given the growing and working generation a certain amount of leisure,
and education enough to conceive of a choice in the use of that leisure;
but had offered them no guidance in making their choice.

We are faced, as I write, with the hideous danger that fighting may
blaze up again throughout the whole Eurasian continent, and that the
young men and girls of Europe may have no more choice in the way they
spend their time than they had from 1914 to 1918 or the serfs of Pharaoh
had in ancient Egypt. But if that immediate danger is avoided, I dream
that in Europe and in America a conscious and systematic discussion by
the young thinkers of our time of the conditions of a good life for an
unprivileged population may be one of the results of the new vision of
human nature and human possibilities which modern science and modern
industry have forced upon us.

Within each nation, industrial organisation may cease to be a confused
and wasteful struggle of interests, if it is consciously related to a
chosen way of life for which it offers to every worker the material
means. International relations may cease to consist of a constant
plotting of evil by each nation for its neighbours, if ever the youth of
all nations know that French, and British, and Germans, and Russians,
and Chinese, and Americans, are taking a conscious part in the great
adventure of discovering ways of living open to all, and which all can
believe to be good.


_August_ 1920.















_(Introduction, page 1)_

The study of politics is now in an unsatisfactory position. Throughout
Europe and America, representative democracy is generally accepted as
the best form of government; but those who have had most experience of
its actual working are often disappointed and apprehensive. Democracy
has not been extended to non-European races, and during the last few
years many democratic movements have failed.

This dissatisfaction has led to much study of political institutions;
but little attention has been recently given in works on politics to the
facts of human nature. Political science in the past was mainly based,
on conceptions of human nature, but the discredit of the dogmatic
political writers of the early nineteenth century has made modern
students of politics over-anxious to avoid anything which recalls their
methods. That advance therefore of psychology which has transformed
pedagogy and criminology has left politics largely unchanged.

The neglect of the study of human nature is likely, however, to prove
only a temporary phase of political thought, and there are already signs
that it, is coming to an end.

_(PART I.--Chapter I.--Impulse and Instinct in Politics, page 21)_

Any examination of human nature in politics must begin with an attempt
to overcome that 'intellectualism' which results both from the
traditions of political science and from the mental habits of ordinary

Political impulses are not mere intellectual inferences from
calculations of means and ends; but tendencies prior to, though modified
by, the thought and experience of individual human beings. This may be
seen if we watch the action in politics of such impulses as personal
affection, fear, ridicule, the desire of property, etc.

All our impulses and instincts are greatly increased in their immediate
effectiveness if they are 'pure,' and in their more permanent results if
they are 'first hand' and are connected with the earlier stages of our
evolution. In modern politics the emotional stimulus which reaches us
through the newspapers is generally 'pure,' but 'second hand,' and
therefore is both facile and transient.

The frequent repetition of an emotion or impulse is often distressing.
Politicians, like advertisers, must allow for this fact, which again is
connected with that combination of the need of privacy with intolerance
of solitude to which we have to adjust our social arrangements.

Political emotions are sometimes pathologically intensified when
experienced simultaneously by large numbers of human beings in physical
association, but the conditions of political life in England do not
often produce this phenomenon.

The future of international politics largely depends on the question
whether we have a specific instinct of hatred for human beings of a
different racial type from ourselves. The point is not yet settled, but
many facts which are often explained as the result of such an instinct
seem to be due to other and more general instincts modified by

_(Chapter II.--Political Entities, page: 59)_

Political acts and impulses are the result of the contact between human
nature and its environment. During the period studied by the politician,
human nature has changed very little, but political environment has
changed with ever-increasing rapidity.

Those facts of our environment which stimulate impulse and action reach
us through our senses, and are selected from the mass of our sensations
and memories by our instinctive or acquired knowledge of their
significance. In politics the things recognised are, for the most part,
made by man himself, and our knowledge of their significance is not
instinctive but acquired.

Recognition tends to attach itself to symbols, which take the place of
more complex sensations and memories. Some of the most difficult
problems in politics result from the relation between the conscious use
in reasoning of the symbols called words, and their more or less
automatic and unconscious effect in stimulating emotion and action. A
political symbol whose significance has once been established by
association, may go through a psychological development of its own,
apart from the history of the facts which were originally symbolised by
it. This may be seen in the case of the names and emblems of nations and
parties; and still more clearly in the history of those commercial
entities--'teas' or 'soaps'--which are already made current by
advertisement before any objects to be symbolised by them have been made
or chosen. Ethical difficulties are often created by the relation
between the quickly changing opinions of any individual politician and
such slowly changing entities as his reputation, his party name, or the
traditional personality of a newspaper which he may control.

_(Chapter III.--Non-Rational Inference in Politics, page 98)_

Intellectualist political thinkers often assume, not only that political
action is necessarily the result of inferences as to means and ends, but
that all inferences are of the same 'rational' type.

It is difficult to distinguish sharply between rational and non-rational
inferences in the stream of mental experience, but it is clear that many
of the half-conscious processes by which men form their political
opinions are non-rational. We can generally trust non-rational
inferences in ordinary life because they do not give rise to conscious
opinions until they have been strengthened by a large number of
undesigned coincidences. But conjurers and others who study our
non-rational mental processes can so play upon them as to make us form
absurd beliefs. The empirical art of politics consists largely in the
creation of opinion by the deliberate exploitation of subconscious
non-rational inference. The process of inference may go on beyond the
point desired by the politician who started it, and is as likely to take
place in the mind of a passive newspaper-reader as among the members of
the most excited crowd.

_(Chapter IV.--The Material of Political Reasoning, page 114)_

But men can and do reason, though reasoning is only one of their mental
processes. The rules for valid reasoning laid down by the Greeks were
intended primarily for use in politics, but in politics reasoning has in
fact proved to be more difficult and less successful than in the
physical sciences. The chief cause of this is to be found in the
character of its material. We have to select or create entities to
reason about, just as we select or create entities to stimulate our
impulses and non-rational inferences. In the physical sciences these
selected entities are of two types, either concrete things made exactly
alike, or abstracted qualities in respect of which things otherwise
unlike can be exactly compared. In politics, entities of the first type
cannot be created, and political philosophers have constantly sought for
some simple entity of the second type, some fact or quality, which may
serve as an exact 'standard' for political calculation. This search has
hitherto been unsuccessful, and the analogy of the biological sciences
suggests that politicians are most likely to acquire the power of valid
reasoning when they, like doctors, avoid the over-simplification of
their material, and aim at using in their reasoning as many facts as
possible about the human type, its individual variations, and its
environment. Biologists have shown that large numbers of facts as to
individual variations within any type can be remembered if they are
arranged as continuous curves rather than as uniform rules or arbitrary
exceptions. On the other hand, any attempt to arrange the facts of
environment with the same approach to continuity as is possible with the
facts of human nature is likely to result in error. The study of history
cannot be assimilated to that of biology.

_(Chapter V.--The Method of Political Reasoning, page 138)_

The method of political reasoning has shared the traditional
over-simplification of its subject-matter.

In Economics, where both method and subject-matter were originally
still more completely simplified, 'quantitative' methods have since
Jevons's time tended to take the place of 'qualitative'. How far is a
similar change possible in politics?

Some political questions can obviously be argued quantitatively. Others
are less obviously quantitative. But even on the most complex political
issues experienced and responsible statesmen do in fact think
quantitatively, although the methods by which they reach their results
are often unconscious.

When, however, all politicians start with intellectualist assumptions,
though some half-consciously acquire quantitative habits of thought,
many desert politics altogether from disillusionment and disgust. What
is wanted in the training of a statesman is the fully conscious
formulation and acceptance of those methods which will not have to be

Such a conscious change is already taking place in the work of Royal
Commissions, International Congresses, and other bodies and persons who
have to arrange and draw conclusions from large masses of specially
collected evidence. Their methods and vocabulary, even when not
numerical, are nowadays in large part quantitative.

In parliamentary oratory, however, the old tradition of
over-simplification is apt to persist.

_(PART II.--Chapter I.--Political Morality, page 167)_

But in what ways can such changes in political science affect the actual
trend of political forces?

In the first place, the abandonment by political thinkers and writers of
the intellectualist conception of politics will sooner or later
influence the moral judgments of the working politician. A young
candidate will begin with a new conception of his moral relation to
those whose will and opinions he is attempting to influence. He will
start, in that respect, from a position hitherto confined to statesmen
who have been made cynical by experience.

If that were the only result of our new knowledge, political morality
might be changed for the worse. But the change will go deeper. When men
become conscious of psychological processes of which they have been
unconscious or half-conscious, not only are they put on their guard
against the exploitation of those processes in themselves by others, but
they become better able to control them from within.

If, however, a conscious moral purpose is to be strong enough to
overcome, as a political force, the advancing art of political
exploitation, the conception of control from within must be formed into
an ideal entity which, like 'Science,' can appeal to popular
imagination, and be spread by an organised system of education. The
difficulties in this are great (owing in part to our ignorance of the
varied reactions of self-consciousness on instinct), but a wide
extension of the idea of causation is not inconsistent with an increased
intensity of moral passion.

_(Chapter II.--Representative Government, page 199)_

The changes now going on in our conception of the psychological basis of
politics will also re-open the discussion of representative democracy.

Some of the old arguments in that discussion will no longer be accepted
as valid, and it is probable that many political thinkers (especially
among those who have been educated in the natural sciences) will return
to Plato's proposal of a despotic government carried on by a selected
and trained class, who live apart from the 'ostensible world'; though
English experience in India indicates that even the most carefully
selected official must still live in the 'ostensible world,' and that
the argument that good government requires the consent of the governed
does not depend for its validity upon its original intellectualist

Our new way of thinking about politics will, however, certainly change
the form, not only of the argument for consent, but also of the
institutions by which consent is expressed. An election (like a
jury-trial) will be, and is already beginning to be, looked upon rather
as a process by which right decisions are formed under right conditions,
than as a mechanical expedient by which decisions already formed are

Proposals for electoral reform which seem to continue the old
intellectualist tradition are still brought forward, and new
difficulties in the working of representative government will arise from
the wider extension of political power. But that conception of
representation may spread which desires both to increase the knowledge
and public spirit of the voter and to provide that no strain is put upon
him greater than he can bear.

_(Chapter III.--Official Thought, page 241)_

A quantitative examination of the political force created by popular
election shows the importance of the work of non-elected officials in
any effective scheme of democracy.

What should be the relation between these officials and the elected
representatives? On this point English opinion already shows a marked
reaction from the intellectualist conception of representative
government. We accept the fact that most state officials are appointed
by a system uncontrolled either by individual members of parliament or
by parliament as a whole, that they hold office during good behaviour,
and that they are our main source of information as to some of the most
difficult points on which we form political judgments. It is largely an
accident that the same system has not been introduced into our local

But such a half-conscious acceptance of a partially independent Civil
Service as an existing fact is not enough. We must set ourselves to
realise clearly what we intend our officials to do, and to consider how
far our present modes of appointment, and especially our present methods
of organising official work, provide the most effective means for
carrying out that intention.

_(Chapter IV.--Nationality and Humanity, page 269)_

What influence will the new tendencies in political thought have on the
emotional and intellectual conditions of political solidarity?

In the old city-states, where the area of government corresponded to the
actual range of human vision and memory, a kind of local emotion could
be developed which is now impossible in a 'delocalised' population. The
solidarity of a modern state must therefore depend on facts not of
observation but of imagination.

The makers of the existing European national states, Mazzini and
Bismarck, held that the possible extent of a state depended on national
homogeneity, _i.e._ on the possibility that every individual member of a
state should believe that all the others were like himself. Bismarck
thought that the degree of actual homogeneity which was a necessary
basis for this belief could be made by 'blood and iron'; Mazzini thought
that mankind was already divided into homogeneous groups whose limits
should be followed in the reconstruction of Europe. Both were convinced
that the emotion of political solidarity was impossible between
individuals of consciously different national types.

During the last quarter of a century this conception of the world as
composed of a mosaic of homogeneous nations has been made more difficult
(a) by the continued existence and even growth of separate national
feelings within modern states, and (b) by the fact that the European and
non-European races have entered into closer political relationships. The
attempt, therefore, to transfer the traditions of national homogeneity
and solidarity either to the inhabitants of a modern world-empire as a
whole, or to the members of the dominant race in it, disguises the real
facts and adds to the danger of war.

Can we, however, acquire a political emotion based, not upon a belief in
the likeness of individual human beings, but upon the recognition of
their unlikeness? Darwin's proof of the relation between individual and
racial variation might have produced such an emotion if it had not been
accompanied by the conception of the 'struggle for life' as a moral
duty. As it is, inter-racial and even inter-imperial wars can be
represented as necessary stages in the progress of the species. But
present-day biologists tell us that the improvement of any one race will
come most effectively from the conscious co-operation, and not from the
blind conflict of individuals; and it may be found that the improvement
of the whole species will also come rather from a conscious
world-purpose based upon a recognition of the value of racial as well as
individual variety, than from mere fighting.



The study of politics is just now (1908) in a curiously unsatisfactory

At first sight the main controversy as to the best form of government
appears to have been finally settled in favour of representative
democracy. Forty years ago it could still be argued that to base the
sovereignty of a great modern nation upon a widely extended popular vote
was, in Europe at least, an experiment which had never been successfully
tried. England, indeed, by the 'leap in the dark' of 1867, became for
the moment the only large European State whose government was democratic
and representative. But to-day a parliamentary republic based upon
universal suffrage exists in France without serious opposition or
protest. Italy enjoys an apparently stable constitutional monarchy.
Universal suffrage has just been enacted in Austria. Even the German
Emperor after the election of 1907 spoke of himself rather as the
successful leader of a popular electoral campaign than as the inheritor
of a divine right. The vast majority of the Russian nation passionately
desires a sovereign parliament, and a reactionary Duma finds itself
steadily pushed by circumstances towards that position. The most
ultramontane Roman Catholics demand temporal power for the Pope, no
longer as an ideal system of world government, but as an expedient for
securing in a few square miles of Italian territory liberty of action
for the directors of a church almost all of whose members will remain
voting citizens of constitutional States. None of the proposals for a
non-representative democracy which were associated with the communist
and anarchist movements of the nineteenth century have been at all
widely accepted, or have presented themselves as a definite constructive
scheme; and almost all those who now hope for a social change by which
the results of modern scientific industry shall be more evenly
distributed put their trust in the electoral activity of the working

And yet, in the very nations which have most whole-heartedly accepted
representative democracy, politicians and political students seem
puzzled and disappointed by their experience of it. The United States of
America have made in this respect by far the longest and most continuous
experiment. Their constitution has lasted for a century and a quarter,
and, in spite of controversy and even war arising from opposing
interpretations of its details, its principles have been, and still are,
practically unchallenged. But, as far as an English visitor can judge,
no American thinks with satisfaction of the electoral 'machine' whose
power alike in Federal, State, and Municipal politics is still

In England not only has our experience of representative democracy been
much shorter than that of America, but our political traditions have
tended to delay the full acceptance of the democratic idea even in the
working of democratic institutions. Yet, allowing for differences of
degree and circumstance, one finds in England among the most loyal
democrats, if they have been brought into close contact with the details
of electoral organisation, something of the same disappointment which
has become more articulate in America. I have helped to fight a good
many parliamentary contests, and have myself been a candidate in a
series of five London municipal elections. In my last election I noticed
that two of my canvassers, when talking over the day's work, used
independently the phrase, 'It is a queer business.' I have heard much
the same words used in England by those professional political agents
whose efficiency depends on their seeing electoral facts without
illusion. I have no first-hand knowledge of German or Italian
electioneering, but when a year ago I talked with my hosts of the Paris
Municipal Council, I seemed to detect in some of them indications of
good-humoured disillusionment with regard to the working of a democratic
electoral system.

In England and America one has, further, the feeling that it is the
growing, and not the decaying, forces of society which create the most
disquieting problems. In America the 'machine' takes its worst form in
those great new cities whose population and wealth and energy represent
the goal towards which the rest of American civilisation is apparently
tending. In England, to any one who looks forward, the rampant bribery
of the old fishing-ports, or the traditional and respectable corruption
of the cathedral cities, seem comparatively small and manageable evils.
The more serious grounds for apprehension come from the newest
inventions of wealth and enterprise, the up-to-date newspapers, the
power and skill of the men who direct huge aggregations of industrial
capital, the organised political passions of working men who have passed
through the standards of the elementary schools, and who live in
hundreds of square miles of new, healthy, indistinguishable suburban
streets. Every few years some invention in political method is made, and
if it succeeds both parties adopt it. In politics, as in football, the
tactics which prevail are not those which the makers of the rules
intended, but those by which the players find that they can win, and men
feel vaguely that the expedients by which their party is most likely to
win may turn out not to be those by which a State is best governed.

More significant still is the fear, often expressed as new questions
force themselves into politics, that the existing electoral system will
not bear the strain of an intensified social conflict. Many of the
arguments used in the discussion of the tariff question in England, or
of the concentration of capital in America, or of social--democracy in
Germany, imply this. Popular election, it is said, may work fairly well
as long as those questions are not raised which cause the holders of
wealth and industrial power to make full use of their opportunities. But
if the rich people in any modern state thought it worth their while, in
order to secure a tariff, or legalise a trust, or oppose a confiscatory
tax, to subscribe a third of their income to a political fund, no
Corrupt Practices Act yet invented would prevent them from spending it.
If they did so, there is so much skill to be bought, and the art of
using skill for the production of emotion and opinion has so advanced,
that the whole condition of political contests would be changed for the
future. No existing party, unless it enormously increased its own fund
or discovered some other new source of political strength, would have
any chance of permanent success.

The appeal, however, in the name of electoral purity, to protectionists,
trust-promoters, and socialists that they should drop their various
movements and so confine politics to less exciting questions, falls,
naturally enough, on deaf ears.

The proposal, again, to extend the franchise to women is met by that
sort of hesitation and evasion which is characteristic of politicians
who are not sure of their intellectual ground. A candidate who has just
been speaking on the principles of democracy finds it, when he is
heckled, very difficult to frame an answer which would justify the
continued exclusion of women from the franchise. Accordingly a large
majority of the successful candidates from both the main parties at the
general election of 1906 pledged themselves to support female suffrage.
But, as I write, many, perhaps the majority, of those who gave that
pledge seem to be trying to avoid the necessity of carrying it out.
There is no reason to suppose that they are men of exceptionally
dishonest character, and their fear of the possible effect of a final
decision is apparently genuine. They are aware that certain differences
exist between men and women, though they do not know what those
differences are, nor in what way they are relevant to the question of
the franchise. But they are even less steadfast in their doubts than in
their pledges, and the question will, in the comparatively near future,
probably be settled by importunity on the one side and mere drifting on
the other.

This half conscious feeling of unsettlement on matters which in our
explicit political arguments we treat as settled, is increased by the
growing urgency of the problem of race. The fight for democracy in
Europe and America during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries
was carried on by men who were thinking only of the European races. But,
during the extension of democracy after 1870, almost all the Great
Powers were engaged in acquiring tropical dependencies, and improvements
in the means of communication were bringing all the races of the world
into close contact. The ordinary man now finds that the sovereign vote
has (with exceptions numerically insignificant) been in fact confined to
nations of European origin. But there is nothing in the form or history
of the representative principle which seems to justify this, or to
suggest any alternative for the vote as a basis of government. Nor can
he draw any intelligible and consistent conclusion from the practice of
democratic States in giving or refusing the vote to their non-European
subjects. The United States, for instance, have silently and almost
unanimously dropped the experiment of negro suffrage. In that case,
owing to the wide intellectual gulf between the West African negro and
the white man from North-West Europe, the problem was comparatively
simple; but no serious attempt has yet been made at a new solution of
it, and the Americans have been obviously puzzled in dealing with the
more subtle racial questions created by the immigration of Chinese and
Japanese and Slavs, or by the government of the mixed populations in the

England and her colonies show a like uncertainty in the presence of the
political questions raised both by the migration of non-white races and
by the acquisition of tropical dependencies. Even when we discuss the
political future of independent Asiatic States we are not clear whether
the principle, for instance, of 'no taxation without representation'
should be treated as applicable to them. Our own position as an Asiatic
power depends very largely on the development of China and Persia, which
are inhabited by races who may claim, in some respects, to be our
intellectual superiors. When they adopt our systems of engineering,
mechanics, or armament we have no doubt that they are doing a good thing
for themselves, even though we may fear their commercial or military
rivalry. But no follower of Bentham is now eager to export for general
Asiatic use our latest inventions in political machinery. We hear that
the Persians have established a parliament, and watch the development of
their experiment with a complete suspension of judgment as to its
probable result. We have helped the Japanese to preserve their
independence as a constitutional nation, and most Englishmen vaguely
sympathise with the desire of the Chinese progressives both for national
independence and internal reform. Few of us, however, would be willing
to give any definite advice to an individual Chinaman who asked whether
he ought to throw himself into a movement for a representative
parliament on European lines.

Within our own Empire this uncertainty as to the limitations of our
political principles may at any moment produce actual disaster. In
Africa, for instance, the political relationship between the European
inhabitants of our territories and the non-European majority of Kaffirs,
Negroes, Hindoos, Copts, or Arabs is regulated on entirely different
lines in Natal, Basutoland, Egypt, or East Africa. In each case the
constitutional difference is due not so much to the character of the
local problem as to historical accident, and trouble may break out
anywhere and at any time, either from the aggression of the Europeans
upon the rights reserved by the Home Government to the non-Europeans, or
from a revolt of the non-Europeans themselves. Blacks and whites are
equally irritated by the knowledge that there is one law in Nairobi and
another in Durban.

This position is, of course, most dangerous in the case of India. For
two or three generations the ordinary English Liberal postponed any
decision on Indian politics, because he believed that we were educating
the inhabitants for self-government, and that in due time they would all
have a vote for an Indian parliament. Now he is becoming aware that
there are many races in India, and that some of the most important
differences between those races among themselves, and between any of
them and ourselves, are not such as can be obliterated by education. He
is told by men whom he respects that this fact makes it certain that
the representative system which is suitable for England will never be
suitable for India, and therefore he remains uneasily responsible for
the permanent autocratic government of three hundred million people,
remembering from time to time that some of those people or their
neighbours may have much more definite political ideas than his own, and
that he ultimately may have to fight for a power which he hardly desires
to retain.

Meanwhile, the existence of the Indian problem loosens half-consciously
his grip upon democratic principle in matters nearer home. Newspapers
and magazines and steamships are constantly making India more real to
him, and the conviction of a Liberal that Polish immigrants or London
'latch-key' lodgers ought to have a vote is less decided than it would
have been if he had not acquiesced in the decision that Rajputs, and
Bengalis, and Parsees should be refused it.

Practical politicians cannot, it is true, be expected to stop in the
middle of a campaign merely because they have an uncomfortable feeling
that the rules of the game require re-stating and possibly re-casting.
But the winning or losing of elections does not exhaust the whole
political duty of a nation, and perhaps there never has been a time in
which the disinterested examination of political principles has been
more urgently required. Hitherto the main stimulus to political
speculation has been provided by wars and revolutions, by the fight of
the Greek States against the Persians, and their disastrous struggle for
supremacy among themselves, or by the wars of religion in the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries, and the American and French Revolutions in
the eighteenth century. The outstanding social events in Europe in our
own time have, however, been so far the failures rather than the
successes of great movements; the apparent wasting of devotion and
courage in Russia, owing to the deep-seated intellectual divisions among
the reformers, and the military advantage which modern weapons and means
of communication give to any government however tyrannous and corrupt;
the baffling of the German social-democrats by the forces of religion
and patriotism and by the infertility of their own creed; the weakness
of the successive waves of American Democracy when faced by the
political power of capital.

But failure and bewilderment may present as stern a demand for thought
as the most successful revolution, and, in many respects, that demand is
now being well answered. Political experience is recorded and examined
with a thoroughness hitherto unknown. The history of political action in
the past, instead of being left to isolated scholars, has become the
subject of organised and minutely subdivided labour. The new political
developments of the present, Australian Federation, the Referendum in
Switzerland, German Public Finance, the Party system in England and
America, and innumerable others, are constantly recorded, discussed and
compared in the monographs and technical magazines which circulate
through all the universities of the globe.

The only form of study which a political thinker of one or two hundred
years ago would now note as missing is any attempt to deal with politics
in its relation to the nature of man. The thinkers of the past, from
Plato to Bentham and Mill, had each his own view of human nature, and
they made those views the basis of their speculations on government. But
no modern treatise on political science, whether dealing with
institutions or finance, now begins with anything corresponding to the
opening words of Bentham's _Principles of Morals and
Legislation_--'Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two
sovereign masters, pain and pleasure'; or to the 'first general
proposition' of Nassau Senior's _Political Economy,_ 'Every man desires
to obtain additional wealth with as little sacrifice as possible.'[1] In
most cases one cannot even discover whether the writer is conscious of
possessing any conception of human nature at all.

[1] _Political, Economy_ (in the _Encyclopedia Metropolitana_), 2nd
edition (1850), p. 26.

It is easy to understand how this has come about. Political science is
just beginning to regain some measure of authority after the
acknowledged failure of its confident professions during the first half
of the nineteenth century. Bentham's Utilitarianism, after superseding
both Natural Right and the blind tradition of the lawyers, and serving
as the basis of innumerable legal and constitutional reforms throughout
Europe, was killed by the unanswerable refusal of the plain man to
believe that ideas of pleasure and pain are the only sources of human
motive. The 'classical' political economy of the universities and the
newspapers, the political economy of MacCulloch and Senior and
Archbishop Whately, was even more unfortunate in its attempt to deduce a
whole industrial polity from a 'few simple principles' of human nature.
It became identified with the shallow dogmatism by which well-to-do
people in the first half of Queen Victoria's reign tried to convince
working men that any change in the distribution of the good things of
life was 'scientifically impossible.' Marx and Buskin and Carlyle were
masters of sarcasm, and the process is not yet forgotten by which they
slowly compelled even the newspapers to abandon the 'laws of political
economy' which from 1815 to 1870 stood, like gigantic stuffed policemen,
on guard over rent and profits.

When the struggle against 'Political Economy' was at its height,
Darwin's _Origin of Species_ revealed a universe in which the 'few
simple principles' seemed a little absurd, and nothing has hitherto
taken their place. Mr. Herbert Spencer, indeed, attempted to turn a
single hasty generalisation from the history of biological evolution
into a complete social philosophy of his own, and preached a 'beneficent
private war'[2] which he conceived as exactly equivalent to that degree
of trade competition which prevailed among English provincial
shopkeepers about the year 1884. Mr. Spencer failed to secure even the
whole-hearted support of the newspapers; but in so far as his system
gained currency it helped further to discredit any attempt to connect
political science with the study of human nature.

[2] _Man versus the State_, p. 69. 'The beneficent private war which
makes one man strive to climb over the shoulders of another man.'

For the moment, therefore, nearly all students of politics analyse
institutions and avoid the analysis of man. The study of human nature by
the psychologists has, it is true, advanced enormously since the
discovery of human evolution, but it has advanced without affecting or
being affected by the study of politics. Modern text-books of psychology
are illustrated with innumerable facts from the home, the school, the
hospital, and the psychological laboratory; but in them politics are
hardly ever mentioned. The professors of the new science of sociology
are beginning, it is true, to deal with human nature in its relation
not only to the family and to religion and industry, but also to
certain political institutions. Sociology, however, has had, as yet,
little influence on political science.

I believe myself that this tendency to separate the study of politics
from that of human nature will prove to be only a momentary phase of
thought, that while it lasts its effects, both on the science and the
conduct of politics, are likely to be harmful, and that there are
already signs that it is coming to an end.

It is sometimes pleaded that, if thorough work is to be done, there
must, in the moral as in the physical sciences, be division of labour.
But this particular division cannot, in fact, be kept up. The student of
politics must, consciously or unconsciously, form a conception of human
nature, and the less conscious he is of his conception the more likely
he is to be dominated by it. If he has had wide personal experience of
political life his unconscious assumptions may be helpful; if he has not
they are certain to be misleading. Mr. Roosevelt's little book of essays
on _American Ideals_ is, for instance, useful, because when he thinks
about mankind in politics, he thinks about the politicians whom he has
known. After reading it one feels that many of the more systematic books
on politics by American university professors are useless, just because
the writers dealt with abstract men, formed on assumptions of which they
were unaware and which they had never tested either by experience or by

In the other sciences which deal with human actions, this division
between the study of the thing done and the study of the being who does
it is not found. In criminology Beccaria and Bentham long ago showed how
dangerous that jurisprudence was which separated the classification of
crimes from the study of the criminal. The conceptions of human nature
which they held have been superseded by evolutionary psychology, but
modern thinkers like Lombroso have brought the new psychology into the
service of a new and fruitful criminology.

In pedagogy also, Locke, and Rousseau, and Herbart, and the many-sided
Bentham, based their theories of education upon their conceptions of
human nature. Those conceptions were the same as those which underlay
their political theories, and have been affected in the same way by
modern knowledge. For a short time it even looked, as if the lecturers
in the English training colleges would make the same separation between
the study of human institutions and human nature as has been made in
politics. Lectures on School Method were distinguished during this
period from those on the Theory of Education. The first became mere
descriptions and comparisons of the organisation and teaching in the
best schools. The second consisted of expositions, with occasional
comment and criticism of such classical writers as Comenius, or Locke,
or Rousseau; and were curiously like those informal talks on Aristotle,
Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, which, under the name of the Theory of
Politics, formed in my time such a pleasant interlude in the Oxford
course of Humaner Letters. But while the Oxford lecture-courses still, I
believe, survive almost unchanged, the Training College lectures on the
Theory of Education are beginning to show signs of a change as great as
that which took place in the training of medical students, when the
lecturers on anatomy, instead of expounding the classical authorities,
began to give, on their own responsibility, the best account of the
facts of human structure of which they were capable.

The reason for this difference is, apparently, the fact that while
Oxford lecturers on the Theory of Politics are not often politicians,
the Training College lecturers on the Theory of Teaching have always
been teachers, to whom the question whether any new knowledge could be
made useful in their art was one of living and urgent importance. One
finds accordingly that under the leadership of men like Professors
William James, Lloyd Morgan, and Stanley Hall, a progressive science of
teaching is being developed, which combines the study of types of school
organisation and method with a determined attempt to learn from special
experiments, from introspection, and from other sciences, what manner
of thing a child is.

Modern pedagogy, based on modern psychology, is already influencing the
schools whose teachers are trained for their profession. Its body of
facts is being yearly added to; it has already caused the abandonment of
much dreary waste of time; has given many thousands of teachers a new
outlook on their work, and has increased the learning and happiness of
many tens of thousands of children.

This essay of mine is offered as a plea that a corresponding change in
the conditions of political science is possible. In the great University
whose constituent colleges are the universities of the world, there is a
steadily growing body of professors and students of politics who give
the whole day to their work. I cannot but think that as years go on,
more of them will call to their aid that study of mankind which is the
ancient ally of the moral sciences. Within every great city there are
groups of men and women who are brought together in the evenings by the
desire to find something more satisfying than current political
controversy. They have their own unofficial leaders and teachers, and
among these one can already detect an impatience with the alternative
offered, either of working by the bare comparison of existing
institutions, or of discussing the fitness of socialism or
individualism, of democracy or aristocracy for human beings whose
nature is taken for granted.

If my book is read by any of those official or unofficial thinkers, I
would urge that the study of human nature in politics, if ever it comes
to be undertaken by the united and organised efforts of hundreds of
learned men, may not only deepen and widen our knowledge of political
institutions, but open an unworked mine of political invention.


_The Conditions of the Problem_



Whoever sets himself to base his political thinking on a re-examination
of the working of human nature, must begin by trying to overcome his own
tendency to exaggerate the intellectuality of mankind.

We are apt to assume that every human action is the result of an
intellectual process, by which a man first thinks of some end which he
desires, and then calculates the means by which that end can be
attained. An investor, for instance, desires good security combined with
five per cent interest. He spends an hour in studying with an open mind
the price-list of stocks, and finally infers that the purchase of
Brewery Debentures will enable him most completely to realise his
desire. Given the original desire for good security, his act in
purchasing the Debentures appears to be the inevitable result of his
inference. The desire for good security itself may further appear to be
merely an intellectual inference as to the means of satisfying some more
general desire, shared by all mankind, for 'happiness,' our own
'interest,' or the like. The satisfaction of this general desire can
then be treated as the supreme 'end' of life, from which all our acts
and impulses, great and small, are derived by the same intellectual
process as that by which the conclusion is derived from the premises of
an argument.

This way of thinking is sometimes called 'common sense.' A good example
of its application to politics may be found in a sentence from
Macaulay's celebrated attack on the Utilitarian followers of Bentham in
the _Edinburgh Review_ of March 1829. This extreme instance of the
foundation of politics upon dogmatic psychology is, curiously enough,
part of an argument intended to show that 'it is utterly impossible to
deduce the science of government from the principles of human nature.'
'What proposition,' Macaulay asks, 'is there respecting human nature
which is absolutely and universally true? We know of only one: and that
is not only true, but identical; that men always act from
self-interest.... _When we see the actions of a man, we know with
certainty what he thinks his interest to be_.'[3] Macaulay believes
himself to be opposing Benthamism root and branch, but is unconsciously
adopting and exaggerating the assumption which Bentham shared with most
of the other eighteenth and early nineteenth century philosophers--that
all motives result from the idea of some preconceived end.

[3] _Edinburgh Review_, March 1829, p. 185. (The italics are mine.)

If he had been pressed, Macaulay would probably have admitted that there
are cases in which human acts and impulses to act occur independently of
any idea of an end to be gained by them. If I have a piece of grit in my
eye and ask some one to take it out with the corner of his handkerchief,
I generally close the eye as soon as the handkerchief comes near, and
always feel a strong impulse to do so. Nobody supposes that I close my
eye because, after due consideration, I think it my interest to do so.
Nor do most men choose to run away in battle, to fall in love, or to
talk about the weather in order to satisfy their desire for a
preconceived end. If, indeed, a man were followed through one ordinary
day, without his knowing it, by a cinematographic camera and a
phonograph, and if all his acts and sayings were reproduced before him
next day, he would be astonished to find how few of them were the result
of a deliberate search for the means of attaining ends. He would, of
course, see that much of his activity consisted in the half-conscious
repetition, under the influence of habit, of movements which were
originally more fully conscious. But even if all cases of habit were
excluded he would find that only a small proportion of the residue
could be explained as being directly produced by an intellectual
calculation. If a record were also kept of those of his impulses and
emotions which did not result in action, it would be seen that they were
of the same kind as those which did, and that very few of them were
preceded by that process which Macaulay takes for granted.

If Macaulay had been pressed still further, he would probably have
admitted that even when an act is preceded by a calculation of ends and
means, it is not the inevitable result of that calculation. Even when we
know what a man thinks it his interest to do, we do not know for certain
what he will do. The man who studies the Stock Exchange list does not
buy his Debentures, unless, apart from his intellectual inference on the
subject, he has an impulse to write to his stockbroker sufficiently
strong to overcome another impulse to put the whole thing off till the
next day.

Macaulay might even further have admitted that the mental act of
calculation itself results from, or is accompanied by, an impulse to
calculate, which impulse may have nothing to do with any anterior
consideration of means and ends, and may vary from the half-conscious
yielding to a train of reverie up to the obstinate driving of a tired
brain onto the difficult task of exact thought.

The text-books of psychology now warn every student against the
'intellectualist' fallacy which is illustrated by my quotation from
Macaulay. Impulse, it is now agreed, has an evolutionary history of its
own earlier than the history of those intellectual processes by which it
is often directed and modified. Our inherited organisation inclines us
to re-act in certain ways to certain stimuli because such reactions have
been useful in the past in preserving our species. Some of the reactions
are what we call specifically 'instincts,' that is to say, impulses
towards definite acts or series of acts, independent of any conscious
anticipation of their probable effects.[4] Those instincts are sometimes
unconscious and involuntary; and sometimes, in the case of ourselves and
apparently of other higher animals, they are conscious and voluntary.
But the connection between means and ends which they exhibit is the
result not of any contrivance by the actor, but of the survival, in the
past, of the 'fittest' of many varying tendencies to act. Indeed the
instinct persists when it is obviously useless, as in the case of a dog
who turns round to flatten the grass before lying down on a carpet; and
even when it is known to be dangerous, as when a man recovering from
typhoid hungers for solid food.

[4] 'Instinct is usually defined as the faculty of acting in such a way
as to produce certain ends without foresight of the ends and without
previous education in the performance.'--W. James, _Principles of
Psychology_, vol. ii. p. 383.

The fact that impulse is not always the result of conscious foresight
is most clearly seen in the case of children. The first impulses of a
baby to suck, or to grasp, are obviously 'instinctive.' But even when
the unconscious or unremembered condition of infancy has been succeeded
by the connected consciousness of childhood, the child will fly to his
mother and hide his face in her skirts when he sees a harmless stranger.
Later on he will torture small beasts and run away from big beasts, or
steal fruit, or climb trees, though no one has suggested such actions to
him, and though he may expect disagreeable results from them.

We generally think of 'instinct' as consisting of a number of such
separate tendencies, each towards some distinct act or series of acts.
But there is no reason to suppose that the whole body of inherited
impulse even among non-human animals has ever been divisible in that
way. The evolutionary history of impulse must have been very
complicated. An impulse which survived because it produced one result
may have persisted with modifications because it produced another
result; and side by side with impulses towards specific acts we can
detect in all animals vague and generalised tendencies, often
overlapping and contradictory, like curiosity and shyness, sympathy and
cruelty, imitation and restless activity. It is possible, therefore, to
avoid the ingenious dilemma by which Mr. Balfour argues that we must
either demonstrate that the desire, _e.g._ for scientific truth, is
lineally descended from some one of the specific instincts which teach
us 'to fight, to eat, and to bring up children,' or must admit the
supernatural authority of the Shorter Catechism.[5]

[5] _Reflections suggested by the New Theory of Matter_, 1904, p. 21.
'So far as natural science can tell us, every quality of sense or
intellect which does _not_ help us to fight, to eat, and to bring up
children, is but a by-product of the qualities which do.'

The pre-rational character of many of our impulses is, however, disguised
by the fact that during the lifetime of each individual they are
increasingly modified by memory and habit and thought. Even the
non-human animals are able to adapt and modify their inherited impulses
either by imitation or by habits founded on individual experience. When
telegraph wires, for instance, were first put up many birds flew against
them and were killed. But although the number of those that were killed
was obviously insufficient to produce a change in the biological
inheritance of the species, very few birds fly against the wires now.
The young birds must have imitated their elders, who had learnt to avoid
the wires; just as the young of many hunting animals are said to learn
devices and precautions which are the result of their parents'
experience, and later to make and hand down by imitation inventions of
their own.

Many of the directly inherited impulses, again, appear both in man and
other animals at a certain point in the growth of the individual, and
then, if they are checked, die away, or, if they are unchecked, form
habits; and impulses, which were originally strong and useful, may no
longer help in preserving life, and may, like the whale's legs or our
teeth and hair, be weakened by biological degeneration. Such temporary
or weakened impulses are especially liable to be transferred to new
objects, or to be modified by experience and thought.

With all these complicated facts the schoolmaster has to deal. In
Macaulay's time he used to be guided by his 'common-sense,' and to
intellectualise the whole process. The unfortunate boys who acted upon
an ancient impulse to fidget, to play truant, to chase cats, or to mimic
their teacher, were asked, with repeated threats of punishment,'why'
they had done so. They, being ignorant of their own evolutionary
history, were forced to invent some far-fetched lie, and were punished
for that as well. The trained schoolmaster of to-day takes the existence
of such impulses as a normal fact; and decides how far, in each case, he
shall check them by relying on that half-conscious imitation which makes
the greater part of class-room discipline, and how far by stimulating a
conscious recognition of the connection, ethical or penal, between acts
and their consequences. In any case his power of controlling instinctive
impulse is due to his recognition of its non-intellectual origin. He may
even be able to extend this recognition to his own impulses, and to
overcome the conviction that his irritability during afternoon school
in July is the result of an intellectual conclusion as to the need of
special severity in dealing with a set of unprecedentedly wicked boys.

The politician, however, is still apt to intellectualise impulse as
completely as the schoolmaster did fifty years ago. He has two excuses,
that he deals entirely with adults, whose impulses are more deeply
modified by experience and thought than those of children, and that it
is very difficult for any one who thinks about politics not to confine
his consideration to those political actions and impulses which are
accompanied by the greatest amount of conscious thought, and which
therefore come first into his mind. But the politician thinks about men
in large communities, and it is in the forecasting of the action of
large communities that the intellectualist fallacy is most misleading.
The results of experience and thought are often confined to individuals
or small groups, and when they differ may cancel each other as political
forces. The original human impulses are, with personal variations,
common to the whole race, and increase in their importance with an
increase in the number of those influenced by them.

It may be worth while, therefore, to attempt a description of some of
the more obvious or more important political impulses, remembering
always that in politics we are dealing not with such clear-cut separate
instincts as we may find in children and animals, but with tendencies
often weakened by the course of human evolution, still more often
transferred to new uses, and acting not simply but in combination or

Aristotle, for instance, says that it is 'affection' (or 'friendship,'
for the meaning of [Greek: philía] stands half way between the
two words) which 'makes political union possible,' and 'which law-givers
consider more important than justice.' It is, he says, a hereditary
instinct among animals of the same race, and particularly among men.[6]
If we look for this political affection in its simplest form, we see it
in our impulse to feel 'kindly' towards any other human being of whose
existence and personality we become vividly aware. This impulse can be
checked and overlaid by others, but any one can test its existence and
its prerationality in his own case by going, for instance, to the
British Museum and watching the effect on his feelings of the discovery
that a little Egyptian girl baby who died four thousand years ago rubbed
the toes of her shoes by crawling upon the floor.

[6] _Ethics_, Bk. viii. chap. I. [Greek: phýsei t' enypárchein éoike ...
ou pónon en anthrôpois allà kaì en órnisi kaì tois pleístois tôn zôôn,
kaì tois homoethnési pròs állêla, kaì málista tois anthrôpois ... éoike
dè kaì tàs póleis synéchein hê philía, kaì hoi nomothétai mallon perì
autên spoudázein ê tên dikaiosýnên].

The tactics of an election consist largely of contrivances by which this
immediate emotion of personal affection may be set up. The candidate is
advised to 'show himself continually, to give away prizes, to 'say a
few words' at the end of other people's speeches--all under
circumstances which offer little or no opportunity for the formation of
a reasoned opinion of his merits, but many opportunities for the rise of
a purely instinctive affection among those present. His portrait is
periodically distributed, and is more effective if it is a good, that is
to say, a distinctive, than if it is a flattering likeness. Best of all
is a photograph which brings his ordinary existence sharply forward by
representing him in his garden smoking a pipe or reading a newspaper.

A simple-minded supporter whose affection has been so worked up will
probably try to give an intellectual explanation of it. He will say that
the man, of whom he may know really nothing except that he was
photographed in a Panama hat with a fox-terrier, is 'the kind of man we
want,' and that therefore he has decided to support him; just as a child
will say that he loves his mother because she is the best mother in the
world,[7] or a man in love will give an elaborate explanation of his
perfectly normal feelings, which he describes as an intellectual
inference from alleged abnormal excellences in his beloved. The
candidate naturally intellectualises in the same way. One of the most
perfectly modest men I know once told me that he was 'going round' a
good deal among his future constituents 'to let them see what a good
fellow I am.' Unless, indeed, the process can be intellectualised, it is
for many men unintelligible.

[7] A rather unusually reflective little girl of my acquaintance, felt,
one day, while looking at her mother, a strong impulse of affection. She
first gave the usual intellectual explanation of her feeling, 'Mummy, I
do think you are the most beautiful Mummy in the whole world,' and then,
after a moment's thought, corrected herself by saying, 'But there, they
do say love is blind.'

A monarch is a life-long candidate, and there exists a singularly
elaborate traditional art of producing personal affection for him. It is
more important that he should be seen than that he should speak or act.
His portrait appears on every coin and stamp, and apart from any
question of personal beauty, produces most effect when it is a good
likeness. Any one, for instance, who can clearly recall his own emotions
during the later years of Queen Victoria's reign, will remember a
measurable increase of his affection for her, when, in 1897, a
thoroughly life-like portrait took the place on the coins of the
conventional head of 1837-1887, and the awkward compromise of the first
Jubilee year. In the case of monarchy one can also watch the
intellectualisation of the whole process by the newspapers, the official
biographers, the courtiers, and possibly the monarch himself. The daily
bulletin of details as to his walks and drives is, in reality, the more
likely to create a vivid impression of his personality, and therefore to
produce this particular kind of emotion, the more ordinary the events
described are in themselves. But since an emotion arising out of
ordinary events is difficult to explain on a purely intellectual basis,
these events are written about as revealing a life of extraordinary
regularity and industry. When the affection is formed it is even
sometimes described as an inevitable reasoned conclusion arising from
reflection upon a reign during which there have been an unusual number
of good harvests or great inventions.

Sometimes the impulse of affection is excited to a point at which its
non-rational character becomes obvious. George the Third was beloved by
the English people because they realised intensely that, like
themselves, he had been born in England, and because the published facts
of his daily life came home to them. Fanny Burney describes, therefore,
how when, during an attack of madness, he was to be taken in a coach to
Kew, the doctors who were to accompany him were seriously afraid that
the inhabitants of any village who saw that the King was under restraint
would attack them.[8] The kindred emotion of personal and dynastic
loyalty (whose origin is possibly to be found in the fact that the
loosely organised companies of our prehuman ancestors could not defend
themselves from their carnivorous enemies until the general instinct of
affection was specialised into a vehement impulse to follow and protect
their leader), has again and again produced destructive and utterly
useless civil wars.

[8] _Diary of Madame D'Arblay_, ed. 1905, vol. iv. p. 184, 'If they even
attempted force, they had not a doubt but his smallest resistance would
call up the whole country to his fancied rescue.'

Fear often accompanies and, in politics, is confused with affection. A
man, whose life's dream it has been to get sight and speech of his King,
is accidentally brought face to face with him. He is 'rooted to the
spot,' becomes pale, and is unable to speak, because a movement might
have betrayed his ancestors to a lion or a bear, or earlier still, to a
hungry cuttlefish. It would be an interesting experiment if some
professor of experimental psychology would arrange his class in the
laboratory with sphygmographs on their wrists ready to record those
pulse movements which accompany the sensation of 'thrill,' and would
then introduce into the room without notice, and in chance order, a
bishop, a well-known general, the greatest living man of letters, and a
minor member of the royal family. The resulting records of immediate
pulse disturbances would be of real scientific importance, and it might
even be possible to continue the record in each case say, for a quarter
of a minute, and to trace the secondary effects of variations in
political opinions, education, or the sense of humour among the

At present almost the only really scientific observation on the subject
from its political side is contained in Lord Palmerston's protest
against a purely intellectual account of aristocracy: 'there is no
damned nonsense about merit,' he said, 'in the case of the Garter.'
Makers of new aristocracies are still, however, apt to intellectualise.
The French government, for instance, have created an order, 'Pour le
Mérite Agricole,' which ought, on the basis of mere logic, to be very
successful; but one is told that the green ribbon of that order produces
in France no thrill whatever.

The impulse to laugh is comparatively unimportant in politics, but it
affords a good instance of the way in which a practical politician has
to allow for pre-rational impulse. It is apparently an immediate effect
of the recognition of the incongruous, just as trembling is of the
recognition of danger. It may have been evolved because an animal which
suffered a slight spasm in the presence of the unexpected was more
likely to be on its guard against enemies, or it may have been the
merely accidental result of some fact in our nervous organisation which
was otherwise useful. Incongruity is, however, so much a matter of habit
and association and individual variation, that it is extraordinarily
difficult to forecast whether any particular act will seem ridiculous to
any particular class, or how long the sense of incongruity will in any
case persist. Acts, for instance, which aim at producing exalted
emotional effect among ordinary slow-witted people--Burke's dagger,
Louis Napoleon's tame eagle, the German Kaiser's telegrams about Huns
and mailed fists--may do so, and therefore be in the end politically
successful, although they produce spontaneous laughter in men whose
conception of good political manners is based upon the idea of

Again, almost the whole of the economic question between socialism and
individualism turns on the nature and limitations of the desire for
property. There seem to be good grounds for supposing that this is a
true specific instinct, and not merely the result of habit or of the
intellectual choice of means for satisfying the desire of power.
Children, for instance, quarrel furiously at a very early age over
apparently worthless things, and collect and hide them long before they
can have any clear notion of the advantages to be derived from
individual possession. Those children who in certain charity schools are
brought up entirely without personal property, even in their clothes or
pocket-handkerchiefs, show every sign of the bad effect on health and
character which results from complete inability to satisfy a strong
inherited instinct. The evolutionary origin of the desire for property
is indicated also by many of the habits of dogs or squirrels or magpies.
Some economist ought therefore to give us a treatise in which this
property instinct is carefully and quantitatively examined. Is it, like
the hunting instinct, an impulse which dies away if it is not indulged?
How far can it be eliminated or modified by education? Is it satisfied
by a leasehold or a life-interest, or by such an arrangement of
corporate property as is offered by a collegiate foundation, or by the
provision of a public park? Does it require for its satisfaction
material and visible things such as land or houses, or is the holding,
say, of colonial railway shares sufficient? Is the absence of unlimited
proprietary rights felt more strongly in the case of personal chattels
(such as furniture and ornaments) than in the case of land or machinery?
Does the degree and direction of the instinct markedly differ among
different individuals or races, or between the two sexes?

Pending such an inquiry my own provisional opinion is that, like a good
many instincts of very early evolutionary origin, it can be satisfied by
an avowed pretence; just as a kitten which is fed regularly on milk can
be kept in good health if it is allowed to indulge its hunting instinct
by playing with a bobbin, and a peaceful civil servant satisfies his
instinct of combat and adventure at golf. If this is so, and if it is
considered for other reasons undesirable to satisfy the property
instinct by the possession, say, of slaves or of freehold land, one
supposes that a good deal of the feeling of property may in the future
be enjoyed even by persons in whom the instinct is abnormally strong,
through the collection of shells or of picture postcards.

The property instinct is, it happens, one of two instances in which the
classical economists deserted their usual habit of treating all desires
as the result of a calculation of the means of obtaining 'utility' or
'wealth.' The satisfaction of the instinct of absolute property by
peasant proprietorship turned, they said, 'sand to gold,' although it
required a larger expenditure of labour for every unit of income than
was the case in salaried employment. The other instance was the instinct
of family affection. This also still needs a special treatise on its
stimulus, variation, and limitations. But the classical economists
treated it as absolute and unvarying. The 'economic man,' who had no
more concern than a lone wolf with the rest of the human species, was
treated as possessing a perfect and permanent solidarity of feeling with
his 'family.' The family was apparently assumed as consisting of those
persons for whose support a man in Western Europe is legally
responsible, and no attempt was made to estimate whether the instinct
extended in any degree to cousins or great uncles.

A treatise on political impulses which aimed at completeness would
further include at least the fighting instinct (with the part which it
plays, together with affection and loyalty, in the formation of
parties), and the instincts of suspicion, curiosity, and the desire to

All these primary impulses are greatly increased in immediate
effectiveness when they are 'pure,' that is to say, unaccompanied by
competing or opposing impulses; and this is the main reason why art,
which aims at producing one emotion at a time, acts on most men so much
more easily than does the more varied appeal of real life. I once sat in
a suburban theatre among a number of colonial troopers who had come over
from South Africa for the King's Coronation. The play was 'Our Boys,'
and between the acts my next neighbour gave me, without any sign of
emotion, a hideous account of the scene at Tweefontein after De Wet had
rushed the British camp on the Christmas morning of 1901--the militiamen
slaughtered while drunk, and the Kaffir drivers tied to the blazing
waggons. The curtain rose again, and, five minutes later, I saw that he
was weeping in sympathy with the stage misfortunes of two able-bodied
young men who had to eat 'inferior Dorset' butter. My sympathy with the
militiamen and the Kaffirs was 'pure,' whereas his was overlaid with
remembered race-hatred, battle-fury, and contempt for British
incompetence. His sympathy, on the other hand, with the stage characters
was not accompanied, as mine was, by critical feelings about theatrical
conventions, indifferent acting, and middle-Victorian sentiment.

It is this greater immediate effect of pure and artificial as compared
with mixed and concrete emotion which explains the traditional maxim of
political agents that it is better that a candidate should not live in
his constituency. It is an advantage that he should be able to represent
himself as a 'local candidate,' but his local character should be _ad
hoc_, and should consist in the hiring of a large house each year in
which he lives a life of carefully dramatised hospitality. Things in no
way blameworthy in themselves--his choice of tradesmen, his childrens'
hats and measles, his difficulties with his relations--will be, if he is
a permanent resident, 'out of the picture,' and may confuse the
impression which he produces. If one could, by the help of a
time-machine, see for a moment in the flesh the little Egyptian girl who
wore out her shoes, one might find her behaving so charmingly that one's
pity for her death would be increased. But it is more probable that,
even if she was, in fact, a very nice little girl, one would not.

This greater immediate facility of the emotions set up by artistic
presentment, as compared with those resulting from concrete observation
has, however, to be studied in its relation to another fact--that
impulses vary, in their driving force and in the depth of the nervous
disturbance which they cause, in proportion, not to their importance in
our present life, but to the point at which they appeared in our
evolutionary past. We are quite unable to resist the impulse of mere
vascular and nervous reaction, the watering of the mouth, the jerk of
the limb, the closing of the eye which we share with some of the
simplest vertebrates. We can only with difficulty resist the instincts
of sex and food, of anger and fear, which we share with the higher
animals. It is, on the other hand, difficult for us to obey consistently
the impulses which attend on the mental images formed by inference and
association. A man may be convinced by a long train of cogent reasoning
that he will go to hell if he visits a certain house; and yet he will do
so in satisfaction of a half conscious craving, whose existence he is
ashamed to recognise. It may be that when a preacher makes hell real to
him by physical images of fire and torment his conviction will acquire
coercive force. But that force may soon die away as his memory fades,
and even the most vivid description has little effect as compared with a
touch of actual pain. At the theatre, because pure emotion is facile,
three-quarters of the audience may cry, but because second-hand emotion
is shallow, very few of them will be unable to sleep when they get home,
or will even lose their appetite for a late supper. My South African
trooper probably recovered from his tears over 'Our Boys' as soon as
they were shed. The transient and pleasurable quality of the tragic
emotions produced by novel reading is well known. A man may weep over a
novel which he will forget in two or three hours, although the same man
may be made insane, or may have his character changed for life, by
actual experiences which are far less terrible than those of which he
reads, experiences which at the moment may produce neither tears nor any
other obvious nervous effect.

Both those facts are of first-rate political importance in those great
modern communities in which all the events which stimulate political
action reach the voters through newspapers. The emotional appeal of
journalism, even more than that of the stage, is facile because it is
pure, and transitory because it is second-hand. Battles and famines,
murders and the evidence of inquiries into destitution, all are
presented by the journalist in literary form, with a careful selection
of 'telling' detail. Their effect is therefore produced at once, in the
half-hour that follows the middle-class breakfast, or in the longer
interval on the Sunday morning when the workman reads his weekly paper.
But when the paper has been read the emotional effect fades rapidly

Any candidate at an election feels for this reason the strangeness of
the conditions under which what Professor James calls the 'pungent sense
of effective reality,'[9] reaches or fails to reach, mankind, in a
civilisation based upon newspapers. I was walking along the street
during my last election, thinking of the actual issues involved, and
comparing them with the vague fog of journalistic phrases, the
half-conscious impulses of old habit and new suspicion which make up
the atmosphere of electioneering. I came round a street corner upon a
boy of about fifteen returning from work, whose whole face lit up with
genuine and lively interest as soon as he saw me. I stopped, and he
said: 'I know you, Mr. Wallas, you put the medals on me.' All that day
political principles and arguments had refused to become real to my
constituents, but the emotion excited by the bodily fact that I had at a
school ceremony pinned a medal for good attendance on a boy's coat, had
all the pungency of a first-hand experience.

[9] 'The moral tragedy of human life comes almost wholly from the fact
that the link is ruptured which normally should hold between vision of
the truth and action, and that this pungent sense of effective reality
will not attach to certain ideas.' W. James, _Principles of Psychology_,
vol. ii. p. 547.

Throughout the contest the candidate is made aware, at every point, of
the enormously greater solidity for most men of the work-a-day world
which they see for themselves, as compared with the world of inference
and secondary ideas which they see through the newspapers. A London
County Councillor, for instance, as his election comes near, and he
begins to withdraw from the daily business of administrative committees
into the cloud of the electoral campaign, finds that the officials whom
he leaves behind, with their daily stint of work, and their hopes and
fears about their salaries, seem to him much more real than himself. The
old woman at her door in a mean street who refuses to believe that he is
not being paid for canvassing, the prosperous and good-natured tradesman
who says quite simply,' I expect you find politics rather an expensive
amusement,' all seem to stand with their feet upon the ground. However
often he assures himself that the great realities are on his side, and
that the busy people round him are concerned only with fleeting
appearances, yet the feeling constantly recurs to him that it is he
himself who is living in a world of shadows.

This feeling is increased by the fact that a candidate has constantly to
repeat the same arguments, and to stimulate in himself the same
emotions, and that mere repetition produces a distressing sense of
unreality. The preachers who have to repeat every Sunday the same
gospel, find also that 'dry times' alternate with times of exaltation.
Even among the voters the repetition of the same political thoughts is
apt to produce weariness. The main cause of the recurring swing of the
electoral pendulum seems to be that opinions which have been held with
enthusiasm become after a year or two stale and flat, and that the new
opinions seem fresh and vivid.

A treatise is indeed required from some trained psychologist on the
conditions under which our nervous system shows itself intolerant of
repeated sensations and emotions. The fact is obviously connected with
the purely physiological causes which produce giddiness, tickling,
sea-sickness, etc. But many things that are 'natural,' that is to say,
which we have constantly experienced during any considerable part of the
ages during which our nervous organisation was being developed,
apparently do not so affect us. Our heartbeats, the taste of water, the
rising and setting of the sun, or, in the case of a child, milk, or the
presence of its mother, or of its brothers, do not seem to become, in
sound health, distressingly monotonous. But 'artificial' things, however
pleasant at first--a tune on the piano, the pattern of a garment, the
greeting of an acquaintance--are likely to become unbearable if often
exactly repeated. A newspaper is an artificial thing in this sense, and
one of the arts of the newspaper-writer consists in presenting his
views with that kind of repetition which, like the phrases of a fugue,
constantly approaches, but never oversteps the limit of monotony.
Advertisers again are now discovering that it pays to vary the monotony
with which a poster appeals to the eye by printing in different colours
those copies which are to hang near each other, or still better, by
representing varied incidents in the career of 'Sunny Jim' or 'Sunlight

A candidate is also an artificial thing. If he lives and works in his
constituency, the daily vision of an otherwise admirable business man
seated in a first-class carriage on the 8.47 A.M. train in the same
attitude and reading the same newspaper may produce a slight and
unrecognised feeling of discomfort among his constituents, although it
would cause no such feeling in the wife whose relation to him is
'natural.' For the same reason when his election comes on, although he
may declare himself to be the 'old member standing on the old platform,'
he should be careful to avoid monotony by slightly varying his portrait,
the form of his address, and the details of his declaration of political

Another fact, closely connected with our intolerance of repeated
emotional adjustment, is the desire for privacy, sufficiently marked to
approach the character of a specific instinct, and balanced by a
corresponding and opposing dread of loneliness. Our ancestors in the
ages during which our present nervous system became fixed, lived,
apparently, in loosely organised family groups, associated for certain
occasional purposes, into larger, but still more loosely organised,
tribal groups. No one slept alone, for the more or less monogamic family
assembled nightly in a cave or 'lean-to' shelter. The hunt for food
which filled the day was carried on, one supposes, neither in complete
solitude nor in constant intercourse. Even if the female were left at
home with the young, the male exchanged some dozen times a day rough
greetings with acquaintances, or joined in a common task. Occasionally,
even before the full development of language, excited palavers attended
by some hundreds would take place, or opposing tribes would gather for a

It is still extremely difficult for the normal man to endure either much
less or much more than this amount of intercourse with his fellows.
However safe they may know themselves to be, most men find it difficult
to sleep in an empty house, and would be distressed by anything beyond
three days of absolute solitude. Even habit cannot do much in this
respect. A man required to submit to gradually increasing periods of
solitary confinement would probably go mad as soon as he had been kept
for a year without a break. A settler, though he may be the son of a
settler, and may have known no other way of living, can hardly endure
existence unless his daily intercourse with his family is supplemented
by a weekly chat with a neighbour or a stranger; and he will go long and
dangerous journeys in order once a year to enjoy the noise and bustle of
a crowd.

But, on the other hand, the nervous system of most men will not tolerate
the frequent repetition of that adjustment of the mind and sympathies to
new acquaintanceship, a certain amount of which is so refreshing and so
necessary. One can therefore watch in great modern cities men half
consciously striving to preserve the same proportion between privacy and
intercourse which prevailed among their ancestors in the woods, and one
can watch also the constant appearance of proposals or experiments which
altogether ignore the primary facts of human nature in this respect. The
habitual intellectualism of the writers of political Utopias prevents
them from seeing any 'reason' why men should not find happiness as well
as economy in a sort of huge extension of family life. The writer
himself at his moments of greatest imaginative exaltation does not
perhaps realise the need of privacy at all. His affections are in a
state of expansion which, without fancifulness, one may refer back to
the emotional atmosphere prevalent in the screaming assemblies of his
prehuman ancestors; and he is ready, so long as this condition lasts,
to take the whole world almost literally to his bosom. What he does not
realise is that neither he nor any one else can keep himself permanently
at this level. In William Morris's _News from Nowhere_ the customs of
family life extend to the streets, and the tired student from the
British Museum talks with easy intimacy to the thirsty dustman. I
remember reading an article written about 1850 by one of the early
Christian Socialists. He said that he had just been riding down Oxford
Street in an omnibus, and that he had noticed that when the omnibus
passed over a section of the street in which macadam had been
substituted for paving, all the passengers turned and spoke to each
other. 'Some day,' he said, 'all Oxford Street will be macadamised, and
then, because men will be able to hear each other's voices, the omnibus
will become a delightful informal club.' Now nearly all London is paved
with wood, and people as they sit in chairs on the top of omnibuses can
hear each other whispering; but no event short of a fatal accident is
held to justify a passenger who speaks to his neighbour.

Clubs were established in London, not so much for the sake of the
cheapness and convenience of common sitting-rooms and kitchens, as to
bring together bodies of men, each of whom should meet all the rest on
terms of unrestrained social intercourse. One can see in Thackeray's
_Book of Snobs_, and in the stories of Thackeray's own club quarrels,
the difficulties produced by this plan. Nowadays clubs are successful
exactly because it is an unwritten law in almost every one of them that
no member must speak to any other who is not one of his own personal
acquaintances. The innumerable communistic experiments of Fourier,
Robert Owen, and others, all broke up essentially because of the want of
privacy. The associates got on each other's nerves. In those confused
pages of the _Politics_, in which Aristotle criticises from the point of
view of experience the communism of Plato, the same point stands out:
'It is difficult to live together in community,' communistic colonists
have always 'disputed with each other about the most ordinary matters';
'we most often disagree with those slaves who are brought into daily
contact with us.'[10]

[10] _Politics_, Book II. ch. V.

The Charity Schools of 1700 to 1850 were experiments in the result of a
complete refusal of scope, not only for the instinct of property, but
for the entirely distinct instinct of privacy, and part of their
disastrous nervous and moral effect must be put down to that. The boys
in the contemporary public boarding-schools secured a little privacy by
the adoption of strange and sometimes cruel social customs, and more has
been done since then by systems of 'studies' and 'houses.' Experience
seems, however, to show that during childhood a day school with its
alternation of home, class-room, and playing field, is better suited
than a boarding-school to the facts of normal human nature.

This instinctive need of privacy is again a subject which would repay
special and detailed study. It varies very greatly among different
races, and one supposes that the much greater desire for privacy which
is found among Northern, as compared to Southern Europeans, may be due
to the fact that races who had to spend much or little of the year under
cover, adjusted themselves biologically to a different standard in this
respect. It is clear, also, that it is our emotional nature, and not the
intellectual or muscular organs of talking, which is most easily
fatigued. Light chatter, even among strangers, in which neither party
'gives himself away,' is very much less fatiguing than an intimacy which
makes some call upon the emotions. An actor who accepts the second
alternative of Diderot's paradox, and _feels_ his part, is much more
likely to break down from overstrain, than one who only simulates
feeling and keeps his own emotional life to himself.

It is in democratic politics, however, that privacy is most neglected,
most difficult, and most necessary. In America all observers are agreed
as to the danger which results from looking on a politician as an
abstract personification of the will of the people, to whom all citizens
have an equal and inalienable right of access, and from whom every one
ought to receive an equally warm and sincere welcome. In England our
comparatively aristocratic tradition as to the relation between a
representative and his constituents has done something to preserve
customs corresponding more closely to the actual nature of man. A tired
English statesman at a big reception is still allowed to spend his time
rather in chaffing with a few friends in a distant corner of the room
than in shaking hands and exchanging effusive commonplaces with
innumerable unknown guests. But there is a real danger lest this
tradition of privacy may be abolished in English democracy, simply
because of its connection with aristocratic manners. A young labour
politician is expected to live in more than American conditions of
intimate publicity. Having, perhaps, just left the working bench, and
having to adjust his nerves and his bodily health to the difficult
requirements of mental work, he is expected to receive every caller at
any hour of the day or night with the same hearty good will, and to be
always ready to share or excite the enthusiasm of his followers. After a
year or two, in the case of a man of sensitive nervous organisation, the
task is found to be impossible. The signs of nervous fatigue are at
first accepted by him and his friends as proofs of his sincerity. He
begins to suffer from the curate's disease, the bright-eyed, hysterical
condition in which a man talks all day long to a succession of
sympathetic hearers about his own overwork, and drifts into actual
ill-health, though he is not making an hour's continuous exertion in the
day. I knew a young agitator in that state who thought that he could not
make a propagandist speech unless the deeply admiring pitman, in whose
cottage he was staying, played the Marseillaise on a harmonium before he
started. Often such a man takes to drink. In any case he is liable, as
the East End clergymen who try to live the same life are liable, to the
most pitiable forms of moral collapse.

Such men, however, are those who being unfit for a life without privacy,
do not survive. Greater political danger comes perhaps from those who
are comparatively fit. Any one who has been in America, who has stood
among the crowd in a Philadelphian law-court during the trial of a
political case, or has seen the thousands of cartoons in a contest in
which Tammany is concerned, will find that he has a picture in his mind
of one type at least of those who do survive.

Powerfully built, with the big jaw and loose mouth of the dominant
talker, practised by years of sitting behind saloon bars, they have
learnt the way of 'selling cheap that which should be most dear.' But
even they generally look as if they drank, and as if they would not live
to old age.

Other and less dreadful types of politicians without privacy come into
one's mind, the orator who night after night repeats the theatrical
success of his own personality, and, like the actor, keeps his recurring
fits of weary disgust to himself; the busy organising talkative man to
whom it is a mere delight to take the chair at four smoking concerts a
week. But there is no one of them who would not be the better, both in
health and working power, if he were compelled to retire for six months
from the public view, and to produce something with his own hand and
brain, or even to sit alone in his own house and think.

These facts, in so far as they represent the nervous disturbance
produced by certain conditions of life in political communities, are
again closely connected with the one point in the special psychology of
politics which has as yet received any extensive consideration--the
so-called 'Psychology of the Crowd,' on which the late M. Tarde, M. Le
Bon, and others have written. In the case of human beings, as in the
case of many other social and semi-social animals, the simpler
impulses--especially those of fear and anger--when they are consciously
shared by many physically associated individuals, may become enormously
exalted, and may give rise to violent nervous disturbances. One may
suppose that this fact, like the existence of laughter, was originally
an accidental and undesirable result of the mechanism of nervous
reaction, and that it persisted because when a common danger was
realised (a forest fire, for instance, or an attack by beasts of prey),
a general stampede, although it might be fatal to the weaker members of
the herd, was the best chance of safety for the majority.

My own observation of English politics suggests that in a modern
national state, this panic effect of the combination of nervous
excitement with physical contact is not of great importance. London in
the twentieth century is very unlike Paris in the eighteenth century, or
Florence in the fourteenth, if only because it is very difficult for any
considerable proportion of the citizens to be gathered under
circumstances likely to produce the special 'Psychology of the Crowd.' I
have watched two hundred thousand men assembled in Hyde Park for a
Labour Demonstration. The scattered platforms, the fresh air, the wide
grassy space, seemed to be an unsuitable environment for the production
of purely instinctive excitement, and the attitude of such an assembly
in London is good-tempered and lethargic. A crowd in a narrow street is
more likely to get 'out of hand,' and one may see a few thousand men in
a large hall reach a state approaching genuine pathological exaltation
on an exciting occasion, and when they are in the hands of a practised
speaker. But as they go out of the hall they drop into the cool ocean of
London, and their mood is dissipated in a moment. The mob that took the
Bastille would not seem or feel an overwhelming force in one of the
business streets of Manchester. Yet such facts vary greatly among
different races, and the exaggeration which one seems to notice when
reading the French sociologists on this point may be due to their
observations having been made among a Latin and not a Northern race.

So far I have dealt with the impulses illustrated by the internal
politics of a modern State. But perhaps the most important section in
the whole psychology of political impulse is that which is concerned not
with the emotional effect of the citizens of any state upon each other,
but with those racial feelings which reveal themselves in international
politics. The future peace of the world largely turns on the question
whether we have, as is sometimes said and often assumed, an instinctive
affection for those human beings whose features and colour are like our
own, combined with an instinctive hatred for those who are unlike us. On
this point, pending a careful examination of the evidence by the
psychologists, it is difficult to dogmatise. But I am inclined to think
that those strong and apparently simple cases of racial hatred and
affection which can certainly be found, are not instances of a specific
and universal instinct but the result of several distinct and
comparatively weak instincts combined and heightened by habit and
association. I have already argued that the instinct of political
affection is stimulated by the vivid realisation of its object. Since
therefore it is easier, at least for uneducated men, to realise the
existence of beings like than of beings unlike themselves, affection for
one's like would appear to have a natural basis, but one likely to be
modified as our powers of realisation are stimulated by education.
Again, since most men live, especially in childhood, among persons
belonging to the same race as themselves, any markedly unusual face or
dress may excite the instinct of fear of that which is unknown. A
child's fear, however, of a strangely shaped or coloured face is more
easily obliterated by familiarity than it would be if it were the result
of a specific instinct of race-hatred. White or Chinese children show,
one is told, no permanent aversion for Chinese or white or Hindoo or
negro nurses and attendants. Sex love, again, even when opposed by
social tradition, springs up freely between very different human types;
and widely separated races have been thereby amalgamated. Between some
of the non-human species (horses and camels, for instance) instinctive
mutual hatred, as distinguished from fear, does seem to exist, but
nowhere, as far as I know, is it found between varieties so nearly
related to each other and so readily interbreeding as the various human

Anglo-Indian officials sometimes explain, as a case of specific
instinct, the fact that a man who goes out with an enthusiastic interest
in the native races often finds himself, after a few years, unwillingly
yielding to a hatred of the Hindoo racial type. But the account which
they give of their sensations seems to me more like the nervous disgust
which I described as arising from a constantly repeated mental and
emotional adjustment to inharmonious surroundings. At the age when an
English official reaches India most of his emotional habits are already
set, and he makes, as a rule, no systematic attempt to modify them.
Therefore, just as the unfamiliarity of French cookery or German beds,
which at the beginning of a continental visit is a delightful change,
may become after a month or two an intolerable _gêne,_ so the servility
and untruthfulness, and even the patience and cleverness of those
natives with whom he is brought into official contact, get after a few
years on the nerves of an Anglo-Indian. Intimate and uninterrupted
contact during a long period, after his social habits have been formed,
with people of his own race but of a different social tradition would
produce the same effect.

Perhaps, however, intellectual association is a larger factor than
instinct in the causation of racial affection and hatred. An American
working man associates, for instance, the Far Eastern physical type with
that lowering of the standard wage which overshadows as a dreadful
possibility every trade in the industrial world. Fifty years ago the
middle class readers to whom _Punch_ appeals associated the same type
with stories of tortured missionaries and envoys. After the battle of
the Sea of Japan they associated it with that kind of heroism which,
owing to our geographical position, we most admire; and drawings of the
unmistakably Asiatic features of Admiral Togo, which would have excited
genuine and apparently instinctive disgust in 1859, produced a thrill of
affection in 1906.

But at this point we approach that discussion of the objects, sensible
or imaginary, of political impulse (as distinguished from the impulses
themselves), which must be reserved for my next chapter.



Man's impulses and thoughts and acts result from the relation between
his nature and the environment into which he is born. The last chapter
approached that relation (in so far as it affects politics) from the
side of man's nature. This chapter will approach the same relation from
the side of man's political environment.

The two lines of approach have this important difference, that the
nature with which man is born is looked on by the politician as fixed,
while the environment into which man is born is rapidly and indefinitely
changing. It is not to changes in our nature, but to changes in our
environment only--using the word to include the traditions and
expedients which we acquire after birth as well as our material
surroundings--that all our political development from the tribal
organisation of the Stone Ages to the modern nation has apparently been

The biologist looks on human nature itself as changing, but to him the
period of a few thousands or tens of thousands of years which constitute
the past of politics is quite insignificant. Important changes in
biological types may perhaps have occurred in the history of the world
during comparatively short periods, but they must have resulted either
from a sudden biological 'sport' or from a process of selection fiercer
and more discriminating than we believe to have taken place in the
immediate past of our own species. The present descendants of those
races which are pictured in early Egyptian tombs show no perceptible
change in their bodily appearance, and there is no reason to believe
that the mental faculties and tendencies with which they are born have
changed to any greater degree.

The numerical proportions of different races in the world have, indeed,
altered during that period, as one race proved weaker in war or less
able to resist disease than another; and races have been mingled by
marriage following upon conquest. But if a baby could now be exchanged
at birth with one born of the same breeding-stock even a hundred
thousand years ago, one may suppose that neither the ancient nor the
modern mother would notice any startling difference. The child from the
Stone Age would perhaps suffer more seriously than our children if he
caught measles, or might show somewhat keener instincts in quarrelling
and hunting, or as he grew up be rather more conscious than his fellows
of the 'will to live' and 'the joy of life.' Conversely, a transplanted
twentieth-century child would resist infectious disease better than the
other children in the Stone Age, and might, as he grew up, be found to
have a rather exceptionally colourless and adaptable character. But
there apparently the difference would end. In essentials the type of
each human stock may be supposed to have remained unchanged throughout
the whole period. In the politics of the distant future that science of
eugenics, which aims at rapidly improving our type by consciously
directed selective breeding, may become a dominant factor, but it has
had little influence on the politics of the present or the past.

Those new facts in our environment which have produced the enormous
political changes which separate us from our ancestors have been partly
new habits of thought and feeling, and partly new entities about which
we can think and feel.

It is of these new political entities that this chapter will treat. They
must have first reached us through our senses, and in this case almost
entirely through the senses of seeing and hearing. But man, like other
animals, lives in an unending stream of sense impressions, of
innumerable sights and sounds and feelings, and is only stirred to deed
or thought by those which he recognises as significant to him. How then
did the new impressions separate themselves from the rest and become
sufficiently significant to produce political results?

The first requisite in anything which is to stimulate us toward impulse
or action is that it should be recognisable--that it should be like
itself when we met it before, or like something else which we have met
before. If the world consisted of things which constantly and
arbitrarily varied their appearance, if nothing was ever like anything
else, or like itself for more than a moment at a time, living beings as
at present constituted would not act at all. They would drift like
seaweed among the waves.

The new-born chicken cowers beneath the shadow of the hawk, because one
hawk is like another. Animals wake at sunrise, because one sunrise is
like another; and find nuts or grass for food, because each nut and
blade of grass is like the rest.

But the recognition of likeness is not in itself a sufficient stimulus
to action. The thing recognised must also be _significant_, must be felt
in some way to matter to us. The stars reappear nightly in the heavens,
but, as far as we can tell, no animals but men are stimulated to action
by recognising them. The moth is not stimulated by recognising a
tortoise, nor the cow by a cobweb.

Sometimes this significance is automatically indicated to us by nature.
The growl of a wild beast, the sight of blood, the cry of a child in
distress, stand out, without need of experience or teaching, from the
stream of human sensations, just as, to a hungry fox-cub, the movement
or glimpse of a rabbit among the undergrowth separates itself at once
from the sounds of the wind and the colours of the leaves and flowers.
Sometimes the significance of a sensation has to be learned by the
individual animal during its own life, as when a dog, who recognises the
significance of a rat by instinct, learns to recognise that of a whip
(provided it looks like the whip which he saw and felt before) by
experience and association.

In politics man has to make like things as well as to learn their
significance. Political tactics would indeed be a much simpler matter if
ballot-papers were a natural product, and if on beholding a ballot-paper
at about the age of twenty-one a youth who had never heard of one before
were invariably seized with a desire to vote.

The whole ritual of social and political organisation among savages,
therefore, illustrates the process of creating artificial and easily
recognisable political likenesses. If the chief is to be recognised as a
chief he must, like the ghost of Patroclus, 'be exceedingly like unto
himself.' He must live in the same house, wear the same clothes, and do
the same things year by year; and his successor must imitate him. If a
marriage or an act of sale is to be recognised as a contract, it must be
carried out in the customary place and with the customary gestures. In
some few cases the thing thus artificially brought into existence and
made recognisable still produces its impulsive effect by acting on those
biologically inherited associations which enable man and other animals
to interpret sensations without experience. The scarlet paint and
wolfskin headdress of a warrior, or the dragon-mask of a medicine man,
appeal, like the smile of a modern candidate, directly to our
instinctive nature. But even in very early societies the recognition of
artificial political entities must generally have owed its power of
stimulating impulse to associations acquired during life. A child who
had been beaten by the herald's rod, or had seen his father bow down
before the king, or a sacred stone, learned to fear the rod, or the
king, or the stone by association.

Recognition often attaches itself to certain special points (whether
naturally developed or artificially made) in the thing recognised. Such
points then become symbols of the thing as a whole. The evolutionary
facts of mimicry in the lower animals show that to some flesh-eating
insects a putrid smell is a sufficiently convincing symbol of carrion to
induce them to lay their eggs in a flower, and that the black and yellow
bands of the wasp if imitated by a fly are a sufficient symbol to keep
off birds.[11] In early political society most recognition is guided by
such symbols. One cannot make a new king, who may be a boy, in all
respects like his predecessor, who may have been an old man. But one can
tattoo both of them with the same pattern. It is even more easy and less
painful to attach a symbol to a king which is not a part of the man
himself, a royal staff for instance, which may be decorated and enlarged
until it is useless as a staff, but unmistakable as a symbol. The king
is then recognised as king because he is the 'staff-bearer' ([Greek:
skêptouchos basileús]). Such a staff is very like a name, and there
may, perhaps, have been an early Mexican system of sign-writing in which
a model of a staff stood for a king.

[11] Cf. William James, _Principles of Psychology_, vol. ii. p.
392:--'The whole story of our dealings with the lower wild animals is
the history of our taking advantage of the ways in which they judge of
everything by its mere label, as it were, so as to ensnare or kill

At this point it is already difficult not to intellectualise the whole
process. Our own 'common-sense' and the systematised common-sense of the
eighteenth-century philosophers would alike explain the fear of tribal
man for a royal staff by saying that he was reminded thereby of the
original social contract between ruler and ruled, or of the pleasure and
pain which experience had shown to be derived from royal leadership and
royal punishments, and that he therefore decided by a process of
reasoning on seeing the staff to fear the king.

When the symbol by which our impulse is stimulated is actual language,
it is still more difficult not to confuse acquired emotional association
with the full process of logical inference. Because one of the effects
of those sounds and signs which we call language is to stimulate in us a
process of deliberate logical thought we tend to ignore all their other
effects. Nothing is easier than to make a description of the logical use
of language, the breaking up by abstraction of a bundle of
sensations--one's memory, for instance, of a royal person; the selection
of a single quality--kingship, for instance--shared by other such
bundles of sensations, the giving to that quality the name king, and the
use of the name to enable us to repeat the process of abstraction. When
we are consciously trying to reason correctly by the use of language all
this does occur, just as it would occur if we had not evolved the use of
voice-language at all, and were attempting to construct a valid logic of
colours and models and pictures. But any text-book of psychology will
explain why it errs, both by excess and defect, if taken as a
description of that which actually happens when language is used for the
purpose of stimulating us to action.

Indeed the 'brass-instrument psychologists,' who do such admirable work
in their laboratories, have invented an experiment on the effect of
significant words which every one may try for himself. Let him get a
friend to write in large letters on cards a series of common political
terms, nations, parties, principles, and so on. Let him then sit before
a watch recording tenths of seconds, turn up the cards, and practise
observation of the associations which successively enter his
consciousness. The first associations revealed will be automatic and
obviously 'illogical.' If the word be 'England' the white and black
marks on the paper will, if the experimenter is a 'visualiser,' produce
at once a picture of some kind accompanied by a vague and half conscious
emotional reaction of affection, perhaps, or anxiety, or the remembrance
of puzzled thought. If the experimenter is 'audile,' the marks will
first call up a vivid sound image with which a like emotional reaction
may be associated. I am a 'visualiser,' and the picture in my case was a
blurred triangular outline. Other 'visualisers' have described to me the
picture of a red flag, or of a green field (seen from a railway
carriage), as automatically called up by the word England. After the
automatic picture or sound image and its purely automatic emotional
accompaniment comes the 'meaning' of the word, the things one knows
about England, which are presented to the memory by a process
semi-automatic at first, but requiring before it is exhausted a severe
effort. The question as to what images and feelings shall appear at each
stage is, of course, settled by all the thoughts and events of our past
life, but they appear, in the earlier moments at least of the
experiment, before we have time consciously to reflect or choose.

A corresponding process may be set up by other symbols besides language.
If in the experiment the hats belonging to members of a family be
substituted for the written cards, the rest of the process will go
on--the automatic 'image,' automatically accompanied by emotional
association, being succeeded in the course of a second or so by the
voluntary realisation of 'meaning,' and finally by a deliberate effort
of recollection and thought. Tennyson, partly because he was a born poet
and partly perhaps because his excessive use of tobacco put his brain
occasionally a little out of focus, was extraordinarily accurate in his
account of those separate mental states which for most men are merged
into one by memory. A song, for instance, in the 'Princess,' describes
the succession which I have been discussing:--

  'Thy voice is heard through rolling drums,
  That beat to battle where he stands.
  Thy face across his fancy comes,
  And gives the battle to his hands:
  A moment, while the trumpets blow,
  He sees his brood about thy knee;
  The next, like fire he meets the foe,
  And strikes him dead for thine and thee.'

'Thine and thee' at the end seem to me to express precisely the change
from the automatic images of 'voice' and 'face' to the reflective mood
in which the full meaning of that for which he fights is realised.

But it is the 'face' that 'gives the battle to his hands.' Here again,
as we saw when comparing impulses themselves, it is the evolutionarily
earlier more automatic, fact that has the greater, and the later
intellectual fact which has the less impulsive power. Even as one sits
in one's chair one can feel that that is so.

Still more clearly can one feel it if one thinks of the phenomena of
religion. The only religion of any importance which has ever been
consciously constructed by a psychologist is the Positivism of Auguste
Comte. In order to produce a sufficiently powerful stimulus to ensure
moral action among the distractions and temptations of daily life, he
required each of his disciples to make for himself a visual image of
Humanity. The disciple was to practice mental contemplation for a
definite period each morning of the remembered figure of some known and
loved woman--his mother, or wife, or sister. He was to keep the figure
always in the same attitude and dress, so that it should always present
itself automatically as a definite mental image in immediate association
with the word Humanité.[12] With that would be automatically associated
the original impulse of affection for the person imaged. As soon as
possible after that would come the meaning of the word, and the fuller
but less cogent emotional associations connected with that meaning. This
invention was partly borrowed from certain forms of mental discipline in
the Roman Catholic Church and partly suggested by Comte's own
experiences of the effect on him of the image of Madame de Vaux. One of
the reasons that it has not come into greater use may have been that men
in general are not quite such good 'visualisers' as Comte found himself
to be.

[12] _The Catechism of Positive Religion_ (Tr. by Congreve), First Part,
'Explanation of the Worship,' e.g. p. 65: 'The Positivist shuts his eyes
during his private prayers, the better to see the internal image.'

Cardinal Newman, in an illuminating passage of his _Apologia_, explains
how he made for himself images of personified nations, and hints that
behind his belief in the real existence of such images was his sense of
the convenience of creating them. He says that he identified the
'character and instinct' of 'states' and of those 'governments of
religious communities,' from which he suffered so much, with spirits
'partially fallen, capricious, wayward; noble or crafty, benevolent or
malicious, as the case might he.... My preference of the Personal to the
Abstract would naturally lead me to this view. I thought it countenanced
by the mention of the "Prince of Persia" in the prophet Daniel: and I
think I considered that it was of such intermediate beings that the
Apocalypse spoke, when it introduced "the angels of the seven
churches."'[13] In 1837 ... I said ... 'Take England with many high
virtues and yet a low Catholicism. It seems to me that John Bull is a
spirit neither of Heaven nor Hell.'

[13] Newman, _Apologia_ (1864), pp. 91, 92.

Harnack, in the same way, when describing the causes of the expansion of
Christianity, lays stress on the use of the word 'church' and the
'possibilities of personification which it offered.'[14] This use may
have owed its origin to a deliberate intellectual effort of abstraction
applied by some Christian philosopher to the common qualities of all
Christian congregations, though it more likely resulted from a half
conscious process of adaptation in the employment of a current term. But
when it was established the word owed its tremendous power over most men
to the emotions automatically stimulated by the personification, and not
to those which would follow on a full analysis of the meaning. Religious
history affords innumerable such instances. The 'truth embodied in a
tale' has more emotional power than the unembodied truth, and the visual
realisation of the central figure of the tale more power than the tale
itself. The sound-image of a sacred name at which 'every knee shall
bow,' or even of one which may be formed in the mind but may not be
uttered by the lips, has more power at the moment of intensest feeling
than the realisation of its meaning. Things of the senses--the sacred
food which one can taste, the Virgin of Kevlaar whom one can see and
touch, are apt to be more real than their heavenly anti-types.

[14] Harnack, _Expansion of Christianity_ (Tr.), vol. ii. p. 11.

If we turn to politics for instances of the same fact, we again discover
how much harder it is there than in religion, or morals, or education,
to resist the habit of giving intellectual explanations of emotional
experiences. For most men the central political entity is their country.
When a man dies for his country, what does he die for? The reader in his
chair thinks of the size and climate, the history and population, of
some region in the atlas, and explains the action of the patriot by his
relation to all these things. But what seems to happen in the crisis of
battle is not the logical building up or analysing of the idea of one's
country, but that automatic selection by the mind of some thing of sense
accompanied by an equally automatic emotion of affection which I have
already described. Throughout his life the conscript has lived in a
stream of sensations, the printed pages of the geography book, the sight
of streets and fields and faces, the sound of voices or of birds or
rivers, all of which go to make up the infinity of facts from which he
might abstract an idea of his country. What comes to him in the final
charge? Perhaps the row of pollard elms behind his birth-place. More
likely some personification of his country, some expedient of custom or
imagination for enabling an entity which one can love to stand out from
the unrealised welter of experience. If he is an Italian it may be the
name, the musical syllables, of Italia. If he is a Frenchman, it may be
the marble figure of France with her broken sword, as he saw it in the
market-square of his native town, or the maddening pulse of the
'Marseillaise.' Romans have died for a bronze eagle on a wreathed staff,
Englishmen for a flag, Scotchmen for the sound of the pipes.

Once in a thousand years a man may stand in a funeral crowd after the
fighting is over, and his heart may stir within him as he hears Pericles
abstract from the million qualities of individual Athenians in the
present and the past just those that make the meaning of Athens to the
world. But afterwards all that he will remember may be the cadence of
Pericles' voice, the movement of his hand, or the sobbing of some mother
of the dead.

In the evolution of politics, among the most important events have been
the successive creations of new moral entities--of such ideals as
justice, freedom, right. In their origin that process of conscious
logical abstraction, which we are tempted to accept as the explanation
of all mental phenomena, must have corresponded in great part to the
historical fact. We have, for instance, contemporary accounts of the
conversations in which Socrates compared and analysed the unwilling
answers of jurymen and statesmen, and we know that the word Justice was
made by his work an infinitely more effective political term. It is
certain too that for many centuries before Socrates the slow adaptation
of the same word by common use was from time to time quickened by some
forgotten wise man who brought to bear upon it the intolerable effort of
conscious thought. But as soon as, at each stage, the work was done, and
Justice, like a rock statue on whom successive generations of artists
have toiled, stood out in compelling beauty, she was seen not as an
abstraction but as a direct revelation. It is true that this revelation
made the older symbols mean and dead, but that which overcame them
seemed a real and visible thing, not a difficult process of comparison
and analysis. Antigone in the play defied in the name of Justice the
command which the sceptre-bearing king had sent through the sacred
person of his herald. But Justice to her was a goddess, 'housemate of
the nether gods'--and the sons of those Athenian citizens who applauded
the Antigone condemned Socrates to death because his dialectic turned
the gods back into abstractions.

The great Jewish prophets owed much of their spiritual supremacy to the
fact that they were able to present a moral idea with intense emotional
force without stiffening it into a personification; but that was because
they saw it always in relation to the most personal of all gods. Amos
wrote, 'I hate, I despise your feasts, and I will not smell the savour
of your assemblies.... Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs;
for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment roll down
as waters, and righteousness as an ever-flowing stream.'[15] 'Judgment'
and 'righteousness' are not goddesses, but the voice which Amos heard
was not the voice of an abstraction.

[15] Amos, ch. v., vv. 21, 23, 24 (R.V.M.).

Sometimes a new moral or political entity is created rather by immediate
insight than by the slow process of deliberate analysis. Some seer of
genius perceives in a flash the essential likeness of things hitherto
kept apart in men's minds--the impulse which leads to anger with one's
brother, and that which leads to murder, the charity of the widow's mite
and of the rich man's gold, the intemperance of the debauchee and of the
party leader. But when the master dies the vision too often dies with
him. Plato's 'ideas' became the formulae of a system of magic, and the
command of Jesus that one should give all that one had to the poor
handed over one-third of the land of Europe to be the untaxed property
of wealthy ecclesiastics.

It is this last relation between words and things which makes the
central difficulty of thought about politics. The words are so rigid, so
easily personified, so associated with affection and prejudice; the
things symbolised by the words are so unstable. The moralist or the
teacher deals, as a Greek would say, for the most part, with 'natural,'
the politician always with 'conventional' species. If one forgets the
meaning of motherhood or childhood, Nature has yet made for us
unmistakable mothers and children who reappear, true to type, in each
generation. The chemist can make sure whether he is using a word in
precisely the same sense as his predecessor by a few minutes' work in
his laboratory. But in politics the thing named is always changing, may
indeed disappear and may require hundreds of years to restore. Aristotle
defined the word 'polity' to mean a state where 'the citizens as a body
govern in accordance with the general good.'[16] As he wrote,
self-government in those States from which he abstracted the idea was
already withering beneath the power of Macedonia. Soon there were no
such States at all, and, now that we are struggling back to Aristotle's
conception, the name which he defined is borne by the 'police' of
Odessa. It is no mere accident of philology that makes 'Justices'
Justice' a paradox. From the time that the Roman jurisconsults resumed
the work of the Greek philosophers, and by laborious question and answer
built up the conception of 'natural justice, it, like all other
political conceptions, was exposed to the two dangers. On the one hand,
since the original effort of abstraction was in its completeness
incommunicable, each generation of users of the word subtly changed its
use. On the other hand, the actions and institutions of mankind, from
which the conception was abstracted, were as subtly changing. Even
although the manuscripts of the Roman lawyers survived, Roman law and
Roman institutions had both ceased to be. When the phrases of Justinian
were used by a Merovingian king or a Spanish Inquisitor not only was the
meaning of the words changed, but the facts to which the words could
have applied in their old sense were gone. Yet the emotional power of
the bare words remained. The civil law and canon law of the Middle Ages
were able to enforce all kinds of abuses because the tradition of
reverence still attached itself to the sound of 'Rome.' For hundreds of
years, one among the German princes was made somewhat more powerful than
his neighbours by the fact that he was 'Roman Emperor,' and was called
by the name of Caesar.

[16] _Politics_, ch. vii., [Greek: hotan tò plêthos pròs tò koinòn
politeúê tai symphéron.]

The same difficulties and uncertainties as those which influence the
history of a political entity when once formed confront the statesman
who is engaged in making a new one. The great men, Stein, Bismarck,
Cavour, or Metternich, who throughout the nineteenth century worked at
the reconstruction of the Europe which Napoleon's conquests shattered,
had to build up new States which men should respect and love, whose
governments they should willingly obey, and for whose continued
existence they should be prepared to die in battle. Races and languages
and religions were intermingled throughout central Europe, and the
historical memories of the kingdoms and dukedoms and bishoprics into
which the map was divided were confused and unexciting. Nothing was
easier than to produce and distribute new flags and coins and national
names. But the emotional effect of such things depends upon associations
which require time to produce, and which may have to contend against
associations already existing. The boy in Lombardy or Galicia saw the
soldiers and the schoolmaster salute the Austrian flag, but the real
thrill came when he heard his father or mother whisper the name of Italy
or Poland. Perhaps, as in the case of Hanover, the old associations and
the new are for many years almost equally balanced.

In such times men fall back from the immediate emotional associations of
the national name and search for its meaning. They ask what _is_ the
Austrian or the German Empire. As long as there was only one Pope men
handed on unexamined the old reverence from father to son. When for
forty years there had been two Popes, at Rome and at Avignon, men began
to ask what constituted a Pope. And in such times some men go further
still. They may ask not only what is the meaning of the word Austrian
Empire, or Pope, but what in the nature of things is the ultimate reason
why the Austrian Empire or the Papacy should exist.

The work therefore of nation-building must be carried forward on each
plane. The national name and flag and anthem and coinage all have their
entirely non-logical effect based on habitual association. Meanwhile the
statesmen strive to create as much meaning as possible for such symbols.
If all the subjects of a State serve in one army and speak, or
understand, one language, or even use a black-letter alphabet which has
been abandoned elsewhere, the national name will mean more to them. The
Saxon or the Savoyard will have a fuller answer to give himself when he
asks 'What does it mean, that I am a German or a Frenchman?' A single
successful war waged in common will create not only a common history,
but a common inheritance of passionate feeling. 'Nationalists,'
meanwhile, may be striving, by songs and pictures and appeals to the
past, to revive and intensify the emotional associations connected with
older national areas--and behind all this will go on the deliberate
philosophical discussion of the advantages to be derived from large or
small, racial or regional States, which will reach the statesman at
second-hand and the citizen at third-hand. As a result, Italy, Belgium,
and the German Empire succeed in establishing themselves as States
resting upon a sufficient basis of patriotism, and Austria-Hungary may,
when the time of stress comes, be found to have failed.

But if the task of State building in Europe during the nineteenth
century was difficult, still more difficult is the task before the
English statesmen of the twentieth century of creating an imperial
patriotism. We have not even a name, with any emotional associations,
for the United Kingdom itself. No Englishman is stirred by the name
'British,' the name 'English' irritates all Scotchmen, and the Irish are
irritated by both alike. Our national anthem is a peculiarly flat and
uninspiring specimen of eighteenth-century opera libretto and opera
music. The little naked St. George on the gold coins, or the armorial
pattern on the silver coins never inspired any one. The new copper
coinage bears, it is true, a graceful figure of Miss Hicks Beach. But we
have made it so small and ladylike that it has none of the emotional
force of the glorious portrait heads of France or Switzerland.

The only personification of his nation which the artisan of Oldham or
Middlesbrough can recognise is the picture of John Bull as a fat,
brutal, early nineteenth-century Midland farmer. One of our national
symbols alone, the 'Union Jack,' though it is as destitute of beauty as
a patchwork quilt, is fairly satisfactory. But all its associations so
far are with naval warfare.

When we go outside the United Kingdom we are in still worse case. 'The
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland together with its Colonies
and Dependencies' has no shorter or more inspiring name. Throughout the
Colonial Conference of 1907 statesmen and leader writers tried every
expedient of periphrasis and allusion to avoid hurting any one's
feelings even by using such a term as 'British Empire.' To the _Sydney
Bulletin_, and to the caricaturists of Europe, the fact that any
territory on the map of the world is coloured red still recalls nothing
but the little greedy eyes, huge mouth, and gorilla hands of 'John

If, again, the young Boer or Hindoo or ex-American Canadian asks himself
what is the meaning of membership ('citizenship,' as applied to
five-sixths of the inhabitants of the Empire, would be misleading) of
the Empire, he finds it extraordinarily difficult to give an answer.
When he goes deeper and asks for what purpose the Empire exists, he is
apt to be told that the inhabitants of Great Britain conquered half the
world in a fit of absence of mind and have not yet had time to think out
an _ex post facto_ justification for so doing. The only product of
memory or reflection that can stir in him the emotion of patriotism is
the statement that so far the tradition of the Empire has been to
encourage and trust to political freedom. But political freedom, even in
its noblest form, is a negative quality, and the word is apt to bear
different meanings in Bengal and Rhodesia and Australia.

States, however, constitute only one among many types of political
entities. As soon as any body of men have been grouped under a common
political name, that name may acquire emotional associations as well as
an intellectually analysable meaning. For the convenience, for instance,
of local government the suburbs of Birmingham are divided into separate
boroughs. Partly because these boroughs occupy the site of ancient
villages, partly because football teams of Scotch professionals are
named after them, partly because human emotions must have something to
attach themselves to, they are said to be developing a fierce local
patriotism, and West Bromwich is said to hate Aston as the Blues hated
the Greens in the Byzantine theatre. In London, largely under the
influence of the Birmingham instance, twenty-nine new boroughs were
created in 1899, with names--at least in the case of the City of
Westminster--deliberately selected in order to revive half-forgotten
emotional associations. However, in spite of Mr. Chesterton's prophecy
in _The Napoleon of Notting Hill_, very few Londoners have learnt to
feel or think primarily as citizens of their boroughs. Town Halls are
built which they never see, coats of arms are invented which they would
not recognise; and their boroughs are mere electoral wards in which they
vote for a list of unknown names grouped under the general title adopted
by their political party.

The party is, in fact, the most effective political entity in the modern
national State. It has come into existence with the appearance of
representative government on a large scale; its development has been
unhampered by legal or constitutional traditions, and it represents the
most vigorous attempt which has been made to adapt the form of our
political institutions to the actual facts of human nature. In a modern
State there may be ten million or more voters. Every one of them has an
equal right to come forward as a candidate and to urge either as
candidate or agitator the particular views which he may hold on any
possible political question. But to each citizen, living as he does in
the infinite stream of things, only a few of his ten million
fellow-citizens could exist as separate objects of political thought or
feeling, even if each one of them held only one opinion on one subject
without change during his life. Something is required simpler and more
permanent, something which can be loved and trusted, and which can be
recognised at successive elections as being the same thing that was
loved and trusted before; and a party is such a thing.

The origin of any particular party may be due to a deliberate
intellectual process. It may be formed, as Burke said, by 'a body of men
united for promoting by their joint endeavours the national interest
upon some particular principle in which they are all agreed.'[17] But
when a party has once come into existence its fortunes depend upon facts
of human nature of which deliberate thought is only one. It is primarily
a name, which, like other names, calls up when it is heard or seen an
'image' that shades imperceptibly into the voluntary realisation of its
meaning. As in other cases, emotional reactions can be set up by the
name and its automatic mental associations. It is the business of the
party managers to secure that these automatic associations shall be as
clear as possible, shall be shared by as large a number as possible, and
shall call up as many and as strong emotions as possible. For this
purpose nothing is more generally useful than the party colour. Our
distant ancestors must have been able to recognise colour before they
recognised language, and the simple and stronger emotions more easily
attach themselves to a colour than to a word. The poor boy who died the
other day with the ribbon of the Sheffield Wednesday Football Club on
his pillow loved the colour itself with a direct and intimate affection.

[17] _Thoughts on the Present Discontents_ (Macmillan, 1902), p. 81.

A party tune is equally automatic in its action, and, in the case of
people with a musical 'ear,' even more effective than a party colour as
an object of emotion. As long as the Marseillaise, which is now the
national tune of France, was the party tune of the revolution its
influence was enormous. Even now, outside of France, it is a very
valuable party asset. It was a wise suggestion which an experienced
political organiser made in the _Westminster Gazette_ at the time of
Gladstone's death, that part of the money collected in his honour should
be spent in paying for the composition of the best possible marching
tune, which should be identified for all time with the Liberal Party.[18]
One of the few mistakes made by the very able men who organised Mr.
Chamberlain's Tariff Reform Campaign was their failure to secure even a
tolerably good tune.

[18] _Westminster Gazette_, June 11, 1898.

Only less automatic than those of colour or tune come the emotional
associations called up by the first and simplest meaning of the word or
words used for the party name. A Greek father called his baby 'Very
Glorious' or 'Good in Counsel,' and the makers of parties in the same
way choose names whose primary meanings possess established emotional
associations. From the beginning of the existence and activity of a
party new associations are, however, being created which tend to take
the place, in association, of the original meaning of the name. No one
in America when he uses the terms Republican or Democrat thinks of their
dictionary meanings. Any one, indeed, who did so would have acquired a
mental habit as useless and as annoying as the habit of reading Greek
history with a perpetual recognition of the dictionary meanings of names
like Aristobulus and Theocritus. Long and precise names which make
definite assertions as to party policy are therefore soon shortened into
meaningless syllables with new associations derived from the actual
history of the party. The Constitutional Democrats in Russia become
Cadets, and the Independent Labour Party becomes the I.L.P. On the other
hand, the less conscious emotional associations which are automatically
excited by less precise political names may last much longer. The German
National Liberals were valuable allies for Bismarck during a whole
generation because their name vaguely suggested a combination of
patriotism and freedom. When the mine-owners in the Transvaal decided
some years ago to form a political party they chose, probably after
considerable discussion, the name of 'Progressive.' It was an excellent
choice. In South Africa the original associations of the word were
apparently soon superseded, but elsewhere it long suggested that Sir
Percy Fitzpatrick and his party had the same sort of democratic
sympathies as Mr. M'Kinnon Wood and his followers on the London County
Council. No one speaking to an audience whose critical and logical
faculties were fully aroused would indeed contend that because a certain
body of people had chosen to call themselves Progressives, therefore a
vote against them was necessarily a vote against progress. But in the
dim and shadowy region of emotional association a good name, if its
associations are sufficiently subconscious, has a real political value.

Conversely, the opponents of a party attempt to label it with a name
that will excite feelings of opposition. The old party terms of Whig and
Tory are striking instances of such names given by opponents and
lasting perhaps half a century before they lost their original abusive
associations. More modern attempts have been less successful, because
they have been more precise. 'Jingo' had some of the vague
suggestiveness of an effectively bad name, but 'Separatist,' 'Little
Englander,' 'Food Taxer,' remain as assertions to be consciously
accepted or rejected.

The whole relation between party entities and political impulse can
perhaps be best illustrated from the art of advertisement. In
advertisement the intellectual process can be watched apart from its
ethical implications, and advertisement and party politics are becoming
more and more closely assimilated in method. The political poster is
placed side by side with the trade or theatrical poster on the
hoardings, it is drawn by the same artist and follows the same empirical
rules of art. Let us suppose therefore that a financier thinks that
there is an opening for a large advertising campaign in connection, say,
with the tea trade. The actual tea-leaves in the world are as varied and
unstable as the actual political opinions of mankind. Every leaf in
every tea-garden is different from every other leaf, and a week of damp
weather may change the whole stock in any warehouse. What therefore
should the advertiser do to create a commercial 'entity,' a 'tea' which
men can think and feel about? A hundred years ago he would have made a
number of optimistic and detailed statements with regard to his
opportunities and methods of trade. He would have printed in the
newspapers a statement that 'William Jones, assisted by a staff of
experienced buyers, will attend the tea-sales of the East India Company,
and will lay in parcels from the best Chinese Gardens, which he will
retail to his customers at a profit of not more than five per centum.'
This, however, is an open appeal to the critical intellect, and by the
critical intellect it would now be judged. We should not consider Mr.
Jones to be an unbiassed witness as to the excellence of his choice, or
think that he would have sufficient motive to adhere to his pledge about
his rate of profit if he thought he could get more.

Nowadays, therefore, such an advertiser would practice on our automatic
and subconscious associations. He would choose some term, say
'Parramatta Tea,' which would produce in most men a vague suggestion of
the tropical East, combined with the subconscious memory of a geography
lesson on Australia. He would then proceed to create in connection with
the word an automatic picture-image having previous emotional
associations of its own. By the time that a hundred thousand pounds had
been cleverly spent, no one in England would be able to see the word
'Parramatta' on a parcel without a vague impulse to buy, founded on a
day-dream recollection of his grandmother, or of the British fleet, or
of a pretty young English matron, or of any other subject that the
advertiser had chosen for its association with the emotions of trust or
affection. When music plays a larger part in English public education it
may be possible to use it effectively for advertisement, and a
'Parramatta Motif' would in that case appear in all the pantomimes, in
connection, say, with a song about the Soldier's Return, and would be
squeaked by a gramophone in every grocer's shop.

This instance has the immense advantage, as an aid to clearness of
thought, that up to this point no Parramatta Tea exists, and no one has
even settled what sort of tea shall be provided under that name.
Parramatta tea is still a commercial entity pure and simple. It may
later on be decided to sell very poor tea at a large profit until the
original associations of the name have been gradually superseded by the
association of disappointment. Or it may be decided to experiment by
selling different teas under that name in different places, and to push
the sale of the flavour which 'takes on.' But there are other attractive
names of teas on the hoardings, with associations of babies, and
bull-dogs, and the Tower of London. If it is desired to develop a
permanent trade in competition with these it will probably be found
wisest to supply tea of a fairly uniform quality, and with a distinctive
flavour which may act as its 'meaning.' The great difficulty will then
come when there is a change of public taste, and when the sales fall
off because the chosen flavour no longer pleases. The directors may
think it safest to go on selling the old flavour to a diminishing number
of customers, or they may gradually substitute another flavour, taking
the risk that the number of housewives who say, 'This is not the real
Parramatta Tea,' may be balanced by the number of those who say,
'Parramatta Tea has improved.' If people will not buy the old flavour at
all, and prefer to buy the new flavour under a new name, the Parramatta
Tea Company must be content to disappear, like a religion which has made
an unsuccessful attempt to put new wine into old bottles.

All these conditions are as familiar to the party politician as they are
to the advertiser. The party candidate is, at his first appearance, to
most of his constituents merely a packet with the name of Liberal or
Conservative upon it. That name has associations of colour and music, of
traditional habit and affection, which, when once formed, exist
independently of the party policy. Unless he bears the party
label--unless he is, as the Americans say, a 'regular' candidate--not
only will those habits and affections be cut off from him, but he will
find it extraordinarily difficult to present himself as a tangible
entity to the electors at all. A proportion of the electors, varying
greatly at different times and at different places, will vote for the
'regular' nominee of their party without reference to his programme,
though to the rest of them, and always to the nominating committee, he
must also present a programme which can be identified with the party
policy. But, in any case, as long as he is a party candidate, he must
remember that it is in that character that he speaks and acts. The party
prepossessions and party expectations of his constituents alone make it
possible for them to think and feel with him. When he speaks there is
between him and his audience the party mask, larger and less mobile than
his own face, like the mask which enabled actors to be seen and heard in
the vast open-air theatres of Greece. If he can no longer act the part
with sincerity he must either leave the stage or present himself in the
mask of another party.

Party leaders again have always to remember that the organisation which
they control is an entity with an existence in the memory and emotions
of the electors, independent of their own opinions and actions. This
does not mean that party leaders cannot be sincere. As individuals they
can indeed only preserve their political life by being in constant
readiness to lose it. Sometimes they must even risk the existence of
their party itself. When Sir Robert Peel was converted to Free Trade in
1845, he had to decide whether he and his friends should shatter the
Tory Party by leaving it, or should so transform its policy that it
might not be recognised, even in the half-conscious logic of habit and
association, as that entity for which men had voted and worked four
years before. In either case Peel was doing something other and more
serious than the expression of his individual opinion on a question of
the moment. And yet, if, recognising this, he had gone on advocating
corn duties for the sake of his party, his whole personal force as a
politician, and therefore even his party value, would have been lost.

If a celestial intelligence were now to look down from heaven on the
earth with the power of observing every fact about all human beings at
once, he might ask, as the newspaper editors are asking as I write, what
that Socialism is which influences so many lives? He might answer
himself with a definition which could be clumsily translated as 'a
movement towards greater social equality, depending for its force upon
three main factors, the growing political power of the working classes,
the growing social sympathy of many members of all classes, and the
belief, based on the growing authority of scientific method, that social
arrangements can be transformed by means of conscious and deliberate
contrivance.' He would see men trying to forward this movement by
proposals as to taxation, wages, and regulative or collective
administration; some of which proposals would prove to be successfully
adapted to the facts of human existence and some would in the end be
abandoned, either because no nation could be persuaded to try them or
because when tried they failed. But he would also see that this
definition of a many-sided and ever-varying movement drawn by
abstraction from innumerable socialistic proposals and desires is not
a description of 'Socialism' as it exists for the greater number of its
supporters. The need of something which one may love and for which one
may work has created for thousands of working men a personified
'Socialism,' a winged goddess with stern eyes and drawn sword to be the
hope of the world and the protector of those that suffer. The need of
some engine of thought which one may use with absolute faith and
certainty has also created another Socialism, not a personification, but
a final and authoritative creed. Such a creed appeared in England in
1884, and William Morris took it down in his beautiful handwriting from
Mr. Hyndman's lectures. It was the revelation which made a little dimly
educated working man say to me three years later, with tears of genuine
humility in his eyes, 'How strange it is that this glorious truth has
been hidden from all the clever and learned men of the world and shown
to me.'

Meanwhile Socialism is always a word, a symbol used in common speech and
writing. A hundred years hence it may have gone the way of its
predecessors--Leveller, Saint-Simonism, Communism, Chartism--and may
survive only in histories of a movement which has since undergone other
transformations and borne other names. It may, on the other hand,
remain, as the Republic has remained in France, to be the title on coins
and public buildings of a movement which after many disappointments and
disillusionments has succeeded in establishing itself as a government.

But the use of a word in common speech is only the resultant of its use
by individual men and women, and particularly by those who accept it as
a party name. Each one of them, as long as the movement is really alive,
will find that while the word must be used, because otherwise the
movement will have no political existence, yet its use creates a
constant series of difficult problems in conduct. Any one who applies
the name to himself or others in a sense so markedly different from
common use as to make it certain or probable that he is creating a false
impression is rightly charged with want of ordinary veracity. And yet
there are cases where enormous practical results may depend upon keeping
wide the use of a word which is tending to be narrowed. The 'Modernist'
Roman Catholic who has studied the history of religion uses the term
'Catholic Church' to mean a society which has gone through various
intellectual stages in the past, and which depends for its vitality upon
the existence of reasonable freedom of change in the future. He
therefore calls himself a Catholic. To the Pope and his advisers, on the
other hand, the Church is an unchanging miracle based on an unchanging
revelation. Father Tyrrell, when he says that he 'believes' in the
Catholic Church, though he obviously disbelieves in the actual
occurrence of most of the facts which constitute the original
revelation, seems to them to be simply a liar, who is stealing their
name for his own fraudulent purposes. They can no more understand him
than can the Ultramontanes among the German Social-Democrats understand
Bernstein and his Modernist allies. Bernstein himself, on the other
hand, has to choose whether he ought to try to keep open the common use
of the name Socialist, or whether in the end he will have to abandon it,
because his claim to use it merely creates bad feeling and confusion of

Sometimes a man of exceptional personal force and power of expression
is, so to speak, a party--a political entity--in himself. He may fashion
a permanent and recognisable mask for himself as 'Honest John' or 'The
Grand Old Man.' But this can as a rule only be done by those who learn
the main condition of their task, the fact that if an individual
statesman's intellectual career is to exist for the mass of the present
public at all, it must be based either on an obstinate adherence to
unchanging opinions or on a development, slow, simple, and consistent.
The indifferent and half attentive mind which most men turn towards
politics is like a very slow photograph plate. He who wishes to be
clearly photographed must stand before it in the same attitude for a
long time. A bird that flies across the plate leaves no mark.

'Change of opinion,' wrote Gladstone in 1868, 'in those to whose
judgment the public looks more or less to assist its own, is an evil to
the country, although a much smaller evil than their persistence in a
course which they know to be wrong. It is not always to be blamed. But
it is always to be watched with vigilance; always to be challenged and
put upon its trial.'[19] Most statesmen avoid this choice between the
loss of force resulting from a public change of opinion, and the loss of
character resulting from the public persistence in an opinion privately
abandoned, not only by considering carefully every change in their own
conclusions, but by a delay, which often seems cowardly and absurd, in
the public expression of their thoughts upon all questions except those
which are ripe for immediate action. The written or reported word
remains, and becomes part of that entity outside himself which the
stateman is always building or destroying or transforming.

[19] _Gleanings_, vol. vii. p. 100, quoted in Morley's _Life_, vol. i.
p. 211.

The same conditions affect other political entities besides parties and
statesmen. If a newspaper is to live as a political force it must
impress itself on men's minds as holding day by day to a consistent
view. The writers, not only from editorial discipline, but from the
instinctive desire to be understood, write in the character of their
paper's personality. If it is sold to a proprietor holding or wishing to
advocate different opinions, it must either frankly proclaim itself as a
new thing or must make it appear by slow and solemn argumentative steps
that the new attitude is a necessary development of the old. It is
therefore rightly felt that a capitalist who buys a paper for the sake
of using its old influence to strengthen a new movement is doing
something to be judged by other moral standards than those which apply
to the purchase of so much printing-machinery and paper. He may be
destroying something which has been a stable and intelligible entity for
thousands of plain people living in an otherwise unintelligible world,
and which has collected round it affection and trust as real as was ever
inspired by an orator or a monarch.



The assumption--which is so closely interwoven with our habits of
political and economic thought--that men always act on a reasoned
opinion as to their interests, may be divided into two separate
assumptions: first, that men always act on some kind of inference as to
the best means of reaching a preconceived end, and secondly, that all
inferences are of the same kind, and are produced by a uniform process
of 'reasoning.'

In the two preceding chapters I dealt with the first assumption, and
attempted to show that it is important for a politician to realise that
men do not always act on inferences as to means and ends. I argued that
men often act in politics under the immediate stimulus of affection and
instinct, and that affection and interest may be directed towards
political entities which are very different from those facts in the
world around us which we can discover by deliberate observation and

In this chapter I propose to consider the second assumption, and to
inquire how far it is true that men, when they do form inferences as to
the result of their political actions, always form them by a process of

In such an inquiry one meets the preliminary difficulty that it is very
hard to arrive at a clear definition of reasoning. Any one who watches
the working of his own mind will find that it is by no means easy to
trace these sharp distinctions between various mental states, which seem
so obvious when they are set out in little books on psychology. The mind
of man is like a harp, all of whose strings throb together; so that
emotion, impulse, inference, and the special kind of inference called
reasoning, are often simultaneous and intermingled aspects of a single
mental experience.

This is especially true in moments of action and excitement; but when we
are sitting in passive contemplation we would often find it hard to say
whether our successive states of consciousness are best described as
emotions or inferences. And when our thought clearly belongs to the type
of inference it is often hard to say whether its steps are controlled by
so definite a purpose of discovering truth that we are entitled to call
it reasoning.

Even when we think with effort and with a definite purpose, we do not
always draw inferences or form beliefs of any kind. If we forget a name
we say the alphabet over to ourselves and pause at each letter to see
if the name we want will be suggested to us. When we receive bad news we
strive to realise it by allowing successive mental associations to arise
of themselves, and waiting to discover what the news will mean for us. A
poet broods with intense creative effort on the images which appear in
his mind and arranges them, not in order to discover truth, but in order
to attain an artistic and dramatic end. In Prospero's great speech in
_The Tempest_ the connection between the successive images--the baseless
fabric of this vision--the cloud-capped towers--the gorgeous
palaces--the solemn temples--the great globe itself--is, for instance,
one not of inference but of reverie, heightened by creative effort, and
subordinated to poetic intention.

Most of the actual inferences which we draw during any day belong,
indeed, to a much humbler type of thought than do some of the higher
forms of non-inferential association. Many of our inferences, like the
quasi-instinctive impulses which they accompany and modify, take place
when we are making no conscious effort at all. In such a purely
instinctive action as leaping backwards from a falling stone, the
impulse to leap and the inference that there is danger, are simply two
names for a single automatic and unconscious process. We can speak of
instinctive inference as well as of instinctive impulse; we draw, for
instance, by an instinctive mental process, inferences as to the
distance and solidity of objects from the movements of our eye-muscles
in focussing, and from the difference between the images on our two
retinas. We are unaware of the method by which we arrive at these
inferences, and even when we know that the double photograph in the
stereoscope is flat, or that the conjurer has placed two converging
sheets of looking-glass beneath his table, we can only say that the
photograph 'looks' solid, or that we 'seem' to see right under the

The whole process of inference, rational or non-rational, is indeed
built up from the primary fact that one mental state may call up
another, either because the two have been associated together in the
history of the individual, or because a connection between the two has
proved useful in the history of the race. If a man and his dog stroll
together down the street they turn to the right hand or the left,
hesitate or hurry in crossing the road, recognise and act upon the
bicycle bell and the cabman's shout, by using the same process of
inference to guide the same group of impulses. Their inferences are for
the most part effortless, though sometimes they will both be seen to
pause until they have settled some point by wordless deliberation. It is
only when a decision has to be taken affecting the more distant purposes
of his life that the man enters on a region of definitely rational
thought where the dog cannot follow him, in which he uses words, and is
more or less conscious of his own logical methods.

But the weakness of inference by automatic association as an instrument
of thought consists in the fact that either of a pair of associated
ideas may call up the other without reference to their logical
connection. The effect calls up the cause as freely as the cause calls
up the effect. A patient under a hypnotic trance is wonderfully rapid
and fertile in drawing inferences, but he hunts the scent backward as
easily as he does forward. Put a dagger in his hand and he believes that
he has committed a murder. The sight of an empty plate convinces him
that he has had dinner. If left to himself he will probably go through
routine actions well enough. But any one who understands his condition
can make him act absurdly.

In the same way when we dream we draw absurd inferences by association.
The feeling of discomfort due to slight indigestion produces a belief
that we are about to speak to a large audience and have mislaid our
notes, or are walking along the Brighton Parade in a night-shirt. Even
when men are awake, those parts of their mind to which for the moment
they are not giving full attention are apt to draw equally unfounded
inferences. A conjurer who succeeds in keeping the attention of his
audience concentrated on the observation of what he is doing with his
right hand can make them draw irrational conclusions from the movements
of his left hand. People in a state of strong religious emotion
sometimes become conscious of a throbbing sound in their ears, due to
the increased force of their circulation. An organist, by opening the
thirty-two foot pipe, can create the same sensation, and can thereby
induce in the congregation a vague and half-conscious belief that they
are experiencing religious emotion.

The political importance of all this consists in the fact that most of
the political opinions of most men are the result, not of reasoning
tested by experience, but of unconscious or half-conscious inference
fixed by habit. It is indeed mainly in the formation of tracks of
thought that habit shows its power in politics. In our other activities
habit is largely a matter of muscular adaptation, but the bodily
movements of politics occur so seldom that nothing like a habit can be
set up by them. One may see a respectable voter, whose political
opinions have been smoothed and polished by the mental habits of thirty
years, fumbling over the act of marking and folding his ballot paper
like a child with its first copybook.

Some men even seem to reverence most those of their opinions whose
origin has least to do with deliberate reasoning. When Mr. Barrie's
Bowie Haggart said: 'I am of opeenion that the works of Burns is of an
immoral tendency. I have not read them myself, but such is my
opeenion,'[20] he was comparing the merely rational conclusion which
might have resulted from a reading of Burns's works with the conviction
about them which he found ready-made in his mind, and which was the more
sacred to him and more intimately his own, because he did not know how
it was produced.

[20] _Auld Licht Idylls_, p. 220.

Opinion thus unconsciously formed is a fairly safe guide in the affairs
of our daily life. The material world does not often go out of its way
to deceive us, and our final convictions are the resultant of many
hundreds of independent fleeting inferences, of which the valid are more
numerous and more likely to survive than the fallacious. But even in our
personal affairs our memory is apt to fade, and we can often remember
the association between two ideas, while forgetting the cause which
created that association. We discover in our mind a vague impression
that Simpson is a drunkard, and cannot recollect whether we ever had any
reason to believe it, or whether some one once told us that Simpson had
a cousin who invented a cure for drunkenness. When the connection is
remembered in a telling phrase, and when its origin has never been
consciously noticed, we may find ourselves with a really vivid belief
for which we could, if cross-examined, give no account whatever. When,
for instance, we have heard an early-Victorian Bishop called 'Soapy Sam'
half a dozen times we get a firm conviction of his character without
further evidence.

Under ordinary circumstances not much harm is done by this fact;
because a name would not be likely to 'catch on' unless a good many
people really thought it appropriate, and unless it 'caught on' we
should not be likely to hear it more than once or twice. But in
politics, as in the conjuring trade, it is often worth while for some
people to take a great deal of trouble in order to produce such an
effect without waiting for the idea to enforce itself by merely
accidental repetition. I have already said that political parties try to
give each other bad names by an organised system of mental suggestion.
If the word 'Wastrel,' for instance, appears on the contents bills of
the _Daily Mail_ one morning as a name for the Progressives during a
County Council election, a passenger riding on an omnibus from Putney to
the Bank will see it half-consciously at least a hundred times, and will
have formed a fairly stable mental association by the end of the
journey. If he reflected, he would know that only one person has once
decided to use the word, but he does not reflect, and the effect on him
is the same as if a hundred persons had used it independently of each
other. The contents-bills, indeed, of the newspapers, which were
originally short and pithy merely from considerations of space, have
developed in a way which threatens to turn our streets (like the
advertisement pages of an American magazine) into a psychological
laboratory for the unconscious production of permanent associations.
'Another German Insult,' 'Keir Hardie's Crime,' 'Balfour Backs Down,'
are intended to stick and do stick in the mind as ready-made opinions.

In all this again the same rule holds as in the production of impulse.
Things that are nearer sense, nearer to our more ancient evolutionary
past, produce a readier inference as well as a more compelling impulse.
When a new candidate on his first appearance smiles at his constituents
exactly as if he were an old friend, not only does he appeal, as I said
in an earlier chapter, to an ancient and immediate instinct of human
affection, but he produces at the same time a shadowy belief that he is
an old friend; and his agent may even imply this, provided that he says
nothing definite enough to arouse critical and rational attention. By
the end of the meeting one can safely go as far as to call for three
cheers for 'good old Jones.'[21]

[21] Three-quarters of the art of the trained salesman depends upon his
empirical knowledge of this group of psychological facts. A small girl
of my acquaintance, explaining why she had brought back from her first
independent shopping expedition a photograph frame which she herself
found to be distressing, said: 'The shopman seemed to suppose I had
chosen it, and so I paid for it and came away.' But her explanation was
the result of memory and reflection. At the moment, in a shadowy way
which was sufficient for the shopman, she supposed that she had chosen

Mr. G.K. Chesterton some years ago quoted from a magazine article on
American elections a sentence which said: 'A little sound common-sense
often goes further with an audience of American working men than much
high-flown argument. A speaker who, as he brought forward his points,
hammered nails into a board, won hundreds of votes for his side at the
last Presidential election.'[22] The 'sound common-sense' consisted, not,
as Mr. Chesterton pretended to believe, in the presentation of the
hammering as a logical argument, but in the orator's knowledge of the
way in which force is given to non-logical inference and his willingness
to use that knowledge.

[22] _Heretics_, p. 122.

When a vivid association has been once formed it sinks into the mass of
our mental experience, and may then undergo developments and
transformations with which deliberate ratiocination had very little to
do. I have been told that when an English agitation against the
importation of Chinese contract labour into South Africa was proposed,
an important personage said that 'there was not a vote in it.' But the
agitation was set on foot, and was based on a rational argument that the
conditions enacted by the Ordinance amounted to a rather cruel kind of
slavery imposed upon unusually intelligent Asiatics. Any one, however,
who saw much of politics in the winter of 1905-6 must have noticed that
the pictures of Chinamen on the hoardings aroused among very many of the
voters an immediate hatred of the Mongolian racial type.

This hatred was transferred to the Conservative party, and towards the
end of the general election of 1906 a picture of a Chinaman thrown
suddenly on a lantern screen before a working-class audience would have
aroused an instantaneous howl of indignation against Mr. Balfour.

After the election, however, the memory of the Chinese faces on the
posters tended slowly to identify itself, in the minds of the
Conservatives, with the Liberals who had used them. I had at the general
election worked in a constituency in which many such posters were
displayed by my side, and where we were beaten. A year later I stood for
the London County Council in the same constituency. An hour before the
close of the poll I saw, with the unnatural clearness of polling-day
fatigue, a large white face at the window of the ward committee-room,
while a hoarse voice roared: 'Where's your bloody pigtail? We cut it off
last time: and now we'll put it round your bloody neck and strangle

In February 1907, during the County Council election, there appeared on
the London hoardings thousands of posters which were intended to create
a belief that the Progressive members on the Council made their personal
livelihood by defrauding the ratepayers. If a statement had been
published to that effect it would have been an appeal to the critical
intellect, and could have been met by argument, or in the law courts.
But the appeal was made to the process of subconscious inference. The
poster consisted of a picture of a man supposed to represent the
Progressive Party, pointing a foreshortened finger and saying, with
sufficient ambiguity to escape the law of libel: 'It's your money we
want.' Its effectiveness depended on its exploitation of the fact that
most men judge of the truth of a charge of fraud by a series of rapid
and unconscious inferences from the appearance of the man accused. The
person represented was, if judged by the shape of his hat, the fashion
of his watch-chain and ring, the neglected condition of his teeth, and
the redness of his nose, obviously a professional sharper. He was, I
believe, drawn by an American artist, and his face and clothes had a
vaguely American appearance, which, in the region of subconscious
association, further suggested to most onlookers the idea of Tammany
Hall. This poster was brilliantly successful, but, now that the election
is over, it, like the Chinese pictures, seems likely to continue a
career of irrational transference. One notices that one Progressive
evening paper uses a reduced copy of it whenever it wishes to imply that
the Moderates are influenced by improper pecuniary motives. I myself
find that it tends to associate itself in my mind with the energetic
politician who induced the railway companies and others to pay for it,
and who, for all I know, may in his own personal appearance recall the
best traditions of the English gentleman.

Writers on the 'psychology of the crowd' have pointed out the effect of
excitement and numbers in substituting non-rational for rational
inference. Any cause, however, which prevents a man from giving full
attention to his mental processes may produce the phenomena of
non-rational inference in an extreme degree. I have often watched in
some small sub-committee the method by which either of the two men with
a real genius for committee work whom I know could control his
colleagues. The process was most successful towards the end of an
afternoon, when the members were tired and somewhat dazed with the
effort of following a rapid talker through a mass of unfamiliar detail.
If at that point the operator slightly quickened the flow of his
information, and slightly emphasised the assumption that he was being
thoroughly understood, he could put some at least of his colleagues into
a sort of waking trance, in which they would have cheerfully assented to
the proposition that the best means of securing, _e.g.,_ the permanence
of private schools was a large and immediate increase in the number of
public schools.

It is sometimes argued that such non-rational inferences are merely the
loose fringe of our political thinking, and that responsible decisions
in politics, whether they are right or wrong, are always the result of
conscious ratiocination. American political writers, for instance, of
the traditional intellectualist type are sometimes faced with the fact
that the delegates to national party conventions, when they select
candidates and adopt programmes for Presidential elections, are not in a
condition in which they are likely to examine the logical validity of
their own mental processes. Such writers fall back on the reflection
that the actual choice of President is decided not by excited
conventions, but by voters coming straight from the untroubled sanctuary
of the American home.

President Garfield illustrated this point of view in an often-quoted
passage of his speech to the Republican Convention of 1880:--

'I have seen the sea lashed into fury and tossed into spray, and its
grandeur moves the soul of the dullest man. But I remember that it is
not the billows, but the calm level of the sea from which all heights
and depths are measured.... Not here, in this brilliant circle where
fifteen thousand men and women are gathered, is the destiny of the
Republic to be decreed for the next four years ... but by four millions
of Republican firesides, where the thoughtful voters, with wives and
children about them, with the calm thoughts inspired by love of home and
country, with the history of the past, the hopes of the future, and
knowledge of the great men who have adorned and blessed our nation in
days gone by. There God prepares the verdict that shall determine the
wisdom of our work to-night.'[23]

[23] _Life of J.A. Garfield_, by R. H. Conwell, p. 328.

But the divine oracle, whether in America or in England, turns out, too
often, only to be a tired householder, reading the headlines and
personal paragraphs of his party newspaper, and half-consciously forming
mental habits of mean suspicion or national arrogance. Sometimes,
indeed, during an election, one feels that it is, after all, in big
meetings, where big thoughts can be given with all their emotional
force, that the deeper things of politics have the best chance of

The voter as he reads his newspaper may adopt by suggestion, and make
habitual by repetition, not only political opinions but whole trains of
political argument; and he does not necessarily feel the need of
comparing them with other trains of argument already in his mind. A
lawyer or a doctor will on quite general principles argue for the most
extreme trade-unionism in his own profession, while he thoroughly agrees
with a denunciation of trade-unionism addressed to him as a railway
shareholder or ratepayer. The same audience can sometimes be led by way
of 'parental rights' to cheer for denominational religious instruction,
and by way of 'religious freedom' to hoot it. The most skilled political
observer that I know, speaking of an organised newspaper attack, said,
'As far as I can make out every argument used in attack and in defence
has its separate and independent effect. They hardly ever meet, even if
they are brought to bear upon the same mind.' From the purely tactical
point of view there is therefore much to be said for Lord Lyndhurst's
maxim, 'Never defend yourself before a popular assemblage, except with
and by retorting the attack; the hearers, in the pleasure which the
assault gives them, will forget the previous charge.'[24]

[24] Morley's _Life of Gladstone_, vol. i. p. 122.



But man is fortunately not wholly dependent in his political thinking
upon those forms of inference by immediate association which come so
easily to him, and which he shares with the higher brutes. The whole
progress of human civilisation beyond its earliest stages has been made
possible by the invention of methods of thought which enable us to
interpret and forecast the working of nature more successfully than we
could if we merely followed the line of least resistance in the use of
our minds.

These methods, however, when applied in politics, still represent a
difficult and uncertain art rather than a science producing its effects
with mechanical accuracy.

When the great thinkers of Greece laid down rules for valid reasoning,
they had, it is true, the needs of politics specially in their minds.
After the prisoners in Plato's cave of illusion should be unbound by
true philosophy it was to the service of the State that they were to
devote themselves, and their first triumph was to be the control of
passion by reason in the sphere of government. Yet if Plato could visit
us now, he would learn that while our glass-makers proceed by rigorous
and confident processes to exact results, our statesmen, like the
glass-makers of ancient Athens, still trust to empirical maxims and
personal skill. Why is it, he would ask us, that valid reasoning has
proved to be so much more difficult in politics than in the physical

Our first answer might be found in the character of the material with
which political reasoning has to deal. The universe which presents
itself to our reason is the same as that which presents itself to our
feelings and impulses--an unending stream of sensations and memories,
every one of which is different from every other, and before which,
unless we can select and recognise and simplify, we must stand helpless
and unable either to act or think. Man has therefore to create entities
that shall be the material of his reasoning, just as he creates entities
to be the objects of his emotions and the stimulus of his instinctive

Exact reasoning requires exact comparison, and in the desert or the
forest there were few things which our ancestors could compare exactly.
The heavenly bodies seem, indeed, to have been the first objects of
consciously exact reasoning, because they were so distant that nothing
could be known of them except position and movement, and their position
and movement could be exactly compared from night to night.

In the same way the foundation of the terrestrial sciences came from two
discoveries, first, that it was possible to abstract single qualities,
such as position and movement, in all things however unlike, from the
other qualities of those things and to compare them exactly; and
secondly, that it was possible artificially to create actual
uniformities for the purpose of comparison, to make, that is to say, out
of unlike things, things so like that valid inferences could be drawn as
to their behaviour under like circumstances. Geometry, for instance,
came into the service of man when it was consciously realised that all
units of land and water were exactly alike in so far as they were
extended surfaces. Metallurgy, on the other hand, only became a science
when men could actually take two pieces of copper ore, unlike in shape
and appearance and chemical constitution, and extract from them two
pieces of copper so nearly alike that they would give the same results
when treated in the same way.

This second power over his material the student of politics can never
possess. He can never create an artificial uniformity in man. He cannot,
after twenty generations of education or breeding render even two human
beings sufficiently like each other for him to prophesy with any
approach to certainty that they will behave alike under like

How far has he the first power? How far can he abstract from the facts
of man's state qualities in respect of which men are sufficiently
comparable to allow of valid political reasoning?

On April 5th, 1788, a year before the taking of the Bastille John Adams,
then American Ambassador to England, and afterwards President of the
United States, wrote to a friend describing the 'fermentation upon the
subject of government' throughout Europe. 'Is Government a science or
not?' he describes men as asking. 'Are there any principles on which it
is founded? What are its ends? If indeed there is no rule, no standard,
all must be accident and chance. If there is a standard, what is it?'[25]

[25] _Memoir of T. Brand Hollis_, by J. Disney, p. 32.

Again and again in the history of political thought men have believed
themselves to have found this 'standard,' this fact about man which
should bear the same relation to politics which the fact that all things
can be weighed bears to physics, and the fact that all things can be
measured bears to geometry.

Some of the greatest thinkers of the past have looked for it in the
final causes of man's existence. Every man differed, it is true, from
every other man, but these differences all seemed related to a type of
perfect manhood which, though few men approached, and none attained it,
all were capable of conceiving. May not, asked Plato, this type be the
pattern--the 'idea'--of man formed by God and laid up 'in a heavenly
place'? If so, men would have attained to a valid science of politics
when by careful reasoning and deep contemplation they had come to know
that pattern. Henceforward all the fleeting and varying things of sense
would be seen in their due relation to the eternal and immutable
purposes of God.

Or the relation of man to God's purpose was thought of not as that
between the pattern and the copy, but as that between the mind of a
legislator as expressed in enacted law, and the individual instance to
which the law is applied. We can, thought Locke, by reflecting on the
moral facts of the world, learn God's law. That law confers on us
certain rights which we can plead in the Court of God, and from which a
valid political science can be deduced. We know our rights with the same
certainty that we know his law.

'Men,' wrote Locke, 'being all the workmanship of one omnipotent and
infinitely wise maker, all the servants of one sovereign master, sent
into the world by his order and about his business; they are his
property whose workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one
another's, pleasure: and being furnished with like faculties, sharing
all in one community of nature, there cannot be supposed any such
subordination among us that may authorise us to destroy another as if
we were made for one another's uses as the inferior ranks of creatures
are for ours.'[26]

[26] Locke, _Second Treatise of Government_, 1690, ed. 1821, p. 191.

When the leaders of the American revolution sought for certainty in
their argument against George the Third they too found it in the fact
that men 'are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.'

Rousseau and his French followers rested these rights on a presumed
social contract. Human rights stood upon that contract as the elephant
upon the tortoise, though the contract itself, like the tortoise, was
apt to stand upon nothing at all.

At this point Bentham, backed by the sense of humour of mankind, swept
aside the whole conception of a science of politics deduced from natural
right. 'What sort of a thing,' he asked, 'is a natural right, and where
does the maker live, particularly in Atheist's Town, where they are most

[27] _Escheat vice Taxation_, Bentham's Works, vol. ii. p. 598.

Bentham himself believed that he had found the standard in the fact that
all men seek pleasure and avoid pain. In that respect men were
measurable and comparable. Politics and jurisprudence could therefore be
made experimental sciences in exactly the same sense as physics or
chemistry. 'The present work,' wrote Bentham, 'as well as any other work
of mine that has been or will be published on the subject of
legislation or any other branch of moral science, is an attempt to
extend the experimental method of reasoning from the physical branch to
the moral.'[28]

[28] MS. in University College, London, quoted by Halévy, _La Jeunesse
de Bentham_, pp. 289-290.

Bentham's standard of 'pleasure and pain' constituted in many ways an
important advance upon 'natural right.' It was in the first place
founded upon a universally accepted fact; all men obviously do feel both
pleasure and pain. That fact was to a certain extent measurable. One
could, for instance, count the number of persons who suffered this year
from an Indian famine, and compare it with the number of those who
suffered last year. It was clear also that some pains and pleasures were
more intense than others, and that therefore the same man could in a
given number of seconds experience varying amounts of pleasure or pain.
Above all, the standard of pleasure and pain was one external to the
political thinker himself. John Stuart Mill quotes Bentham as saying of
all philosophies which competed with his Utilitarianism: 'They consist,
all of them, in so many contrivances for avoiding the obligation of
appealing to any external standard, and for prevailing upon the reader
to accept the author's sentiment or opinion as a reason for itself.'[29]

[29] Bentham's _Works_, vol. i. p. 8, quoted in Lytton's _England and
the English_ (1833), p. 469. This passage was written by Mill, cf.

A 'Benthamite,' therefore, whether he was a member of Parliament like
Grote or Molesworth, or an official like Chadwick, or an organising
politician like Francis Place, could always check his own feelings about
'rights of property,' 'mischievous agitators,' 'spirit of the
Constitution,' 'insults to the flag,' and so on, by examining
statistical facts as to the numerical proportion, the income, the hours
of work, and the death rate from disease, of the various classes and
races who inhabited the British Empire.

But as a complete science of politics Benthamism is no longer possible.
Pleasure and pain are indeed facts about human nature, but they are not
the only facts which are important to the politician. The Benthamites,
by straining the meaning of words, tried to classify such motives as
instinctive impulse, ancient tradition, habit, or personal and racial
idiosyncrasy as being forms of pleasure and pain. But they failed; and
the search for a basis of valid political reasoning has to begin again,
among a generation more conscious than were Bentham and his disciples of
the complexity of the problem, and less confident of absolute success.

In that search one thing at least is becoming clear. We must aim at
finding as many relevant and measurable facts about human nature as
possible, and we must attempt to make all of them serviceable in
political reasoning. In collecting, that is to say, the material for a
political science, we must adopt the method of the biologist, who tries
to discover how many common qualities can be observed and measured in a
group of related beings, rather than that of the physicist, who
constructs, or used to construct, a science out of a single quality
common to the whole material world.

The facts when collected must, because they are many, be arranged. I
believe that it would be found convenient by the political student to
arrange them under three main heads: descriptive facts as to the human
type; quantitative facts as to inherited variations from that type
observed either in individuals or groups of individuals; and facts, both
quantitative and descriptive, as to the environment into which men are
born, and the observed effect of that environment upon their political
actions and impulses.

A medical student already attempts to master as many as possible of
those facts about the human type that are relevant to his science. The
descriptive facts, for instance, of typical human anatomy alone which he
has to learn before he can hope to pass his examinations must number
many thousands. If he is to remember them so that he can use them in
practice, they must be carefully arranged in associated groups. He may
find, for instance, that he remembers the anatomical facts about the
human eye most easily and correctly by associating them with their
evolutionary history, or the facts about the bones of the hand by
associating them with the visual image of a hand in an X-ray photograph.

The quantitative facts as to variations from the anatomical human type
are collected for him in statistical form, and he makes an attempt to
acquire the main facts as to hygienic environment when and if he takes
the Diploma of Public Health.

The student teacher, too, during his period of training acquires a
series of facts about the human type, though in his case they are as yet
far less numerous, less accurate and less conveniently arranged than
those in the medical text-books.

If the student of politics followed such an arrangement, he would at
least begin his course by mastering a treatise on psychology, containing
all those facts about the human type which have been shown by experience
to be helpful in politics, and so arranged that the student's knowledge
could be most easily recalled when wanted.

At present, however, the politician who is trained for his work by
reading the best-known treatises on political theory is still in the
condition of the medical student trained by the study of Hippocrates or
Galen. He is taught a few isolated, and therefore distorted, facts about
the human type, about pleasure and pain, perhaps, and the association of
ideas, or the influence of habit. He is told that these are selected
from the other facts of human nature in order that he may think clearly
on the hypothesis of there being no others. What the others may be he is
left to discover for himself; but he is likely to assume that they
cannot be the subject of effective scientific thought. He learns also a
few empirical maxims about liberty and caution and the like, and, after
he has read a little of the history of institutions, his political
education is complete. It is no wonder that the average layman prefers
old politicians, who have forgotten their book-learning, and young
doctors who remember theirs.[30]

[30] In the winter of 1907-8 I happened, on different occasions, to
discuss the method of approaching political science with two young
Oxford students. In each case I suggested that it would be well to read
a little psychology. Each afterwards told me that he had consulted his
tutor and had been told that psychology was 'useless' or 'nonsense.' One
tutor, a man of real intellectual distinction, was said to have added
the curiously scholastic reason that psychology was 'neither science nor

A political thinker so trained is necessarily apt to preserve the
conception of human nature which he learnt in his student days in a
separate and sacred compartment of his mind, into which the facts of
experience, however laboriously and carefully gathered, are not
permitted to enter. Professor Ostrogorski published, for instance, in
1902, an important and extraordinarily interesting book on _Democracy
and the Organisation of Political Parties_, containing the results of
fifteen years' close observation of the party system in America and
England. The instances given in the book might have been used as the
basis of a fairly full account of those facts in the human type which
are of importance to the politician--the nature of our impulses, the
necessary limitations of our contact with the external world, and the
methods of that thinking brain which was evolved in our distant past,
and which we have now to put to such new and strange uses. But no
indication was given that Professor Ostrogorski's experience had altered
in the least degree the conception of human nature with which he
started. The facts observed are throughout regretfully contrasted with
'free reason,'[31] 'the general idea of liberty,'[32] 'the sentiments
which inspired the men of 1848,'[33] and the book ends with a sketch of a
proposed constitution in which the voters are to be required to vote for
candidates known to them through declarations of policy 'from which all
mention of party is rigorously excluded.'[34] One seems to be reading a
series of conscientious observations of the Copernican heavens by a
loyal but saddened believer in the Ptolemaic astronomy.

[31] _Passim_, e.g., vol. ii. p. 728.

[32] _Ibid_., p. 649.

[33] _Ibid_., p. 442.

[34] _Ibid_., p. 756.

Professor Ostrogorski was a distinguished member of the Constitutional
Democratic Party in the first Duma of Nicholas II., and must have learnt
for himself that if he and his fellows were to get force enough behind
them to contend on equal terms with the Russian autocracy they must be a
party, trusted and obeyed as a party, and not a casual collection of
free individuals. Some day the history of the first Duma will be
written, and we shall then know whether Professor Ostrogorski's
experience and his faith were at last fused together in the heat of that
great struggle.

The English translation of Professor Ostrogorski's book is prefaced by
an introduction from Mr. James Bryce. This introduction shows that even
in the mind of the author of _The American Constitution_ the conception
of human nature which he learnt at Oxford still dwells apart.

'In the ideal democracy,' says Mr. Bryce, 'every citizen is intelligent,
patriotic, disinterested. His sole wish is to discover the right side in
each contested issue, and to fix upon the best man among competing
candidates. His common sense, aided by a knowledge of the constitution
of his country, enables him to judge wisely between the arguments
submitted to him, while his own zeal is sufficient to carry him to the
polling booth.'[35]

[35] Ostrogorski, vol. i. p. xliv.

A few lines further on Mr. Bryce refers to 'the democratic ideal of the
intelligent independence of the individual voter, an ideal far removed
from the actualities of any State.'

What does Mr. Bryce mean by 'ideal democracy'? If it means anything it
means the best form of democracy which is consistent with the facts of
human nature. But one feels, on reading the whole passage, that Mr.
Bryce means by those words the kind of democracy which might be possible
if human nature were as he himself would like it to be, and as he was
taught at Oxford to think that it was. If so, the passage is a good
instance of the effect of our traditional course of study in politics.
No doctor would now begin a medical treatise by saying, 'the ideal man
requires no food, and is impervious to the action of bacteria, but this
ideal is far removed from the actualities of any known population.' No
modern treatise on pedagogy begins with the statement that 'the ideal
boy knows things without being taught them, and his sole wish is the
advancement of science, but no boys at all like this have ever existed.'

And what, in a world where causes have effects and effects causes, does
'intelligent independence' mean?

Mr. Herman Merivale, successively Professor of Political Economy at
Oxford, under-Secretary for the Colonies, and under-Secretary for India,
wrote in 1861:

'To retain or to abandon a dominion is not an issue which will ever be
determined on the mere balance of profit and loss, or on the more
refined but even less powerful motives supplied by abstract political
philosophy. The sense of national honour; the pride of blood, the
tenacious spirit of self-defence, the sympathies of kindred communities,
the instincts of a dominant race, the vague but generous desire to
spread our civilisation and our religion over the world; these are
impulses which the student in his closet may disregard, but the
statesman dares not....'[36]

[36] Herman Merivale, _Colonisation_, 1861, 2nd edition. The book is a
re-issue, largely re-written, of lectures given at Oxford in 1837. The
passage quoted forms part of the 1861 additions, p. 675.

What does 'abstract political philosophy' here mean? No medical writer
would speak of an 'abstract' anatomical science in which men have no
livers, nor would he add that though the student in his closet may
disregard the existence of the liver the working physician dares not.

Apparently Merivale means the same thing by 'abstract' political
philosophy that Mr. Bryce means by 'ideal' democracy. Both refer to a
conception of human nature constructed in all good faith by certain
eighteenth-century philosophers, which is now no longer exactly believed
in, but which, because nothing else has taken its place, still exercises
a kind of shadowy authority in a hypothetical universe.

The fact that this or that writer speaks of a conception of human nature
in which he is ceasing to believe as 'abstract' or 'ideal' may seem to
be of merely academic interest. But such half-beliefs produce immense
practical effects. Because Merivale saw that the political philosophy
which his teachers studied in their closets was inadequate, and because
he had nothing to substitute for it, he frankly abandoned any attempt
at valid thought on so difficult a question as the relation of the white
colonies to the rest of the British Empire. He therefore decided in
effect that it ought to be settled by the rule-of-thumb method of
'cutting the painter'; and, since he was the chief official in the
Colonial Office at a critical time, his decision, whether it was right
or wrong, was not unimportant.

Mr. Bryce has been perhaps prevented by the presence in his mind of such
a half-belief from making that constructive contribution to general
political science for which he is better equipped than any other man of
his time. 'I am myself,' he says in the same Introduction, 'an optimist,
almost a professional optimist, as indeed politics would be intolerable
were not a man grimly resolved to see between the clouds all the blue
sky he can.'[37] Imagine an acknowledged leader in chemical research who,
finding that experiment did not bear out some traditional formula,
should speak of himself as nevertheless 'grimly resolved' to see things
from the old and comfortable point of view!

[37] _Loc. cit._, p. xliii.

The next step in the course of political training which I am advocating
would be the quantitative study of the inherited variations of
individual men when compared with the 'normal' or 'average' man who had
so far served for the study of the type.

How is the student to approach this part of the course? Every man
differs quantitatively from every other man in respect of every one
of his qualities. The student obviously cannot carry in his mind or
use for the purposes of thought all the variations even of a single
inherited quality which are to be found among the fifteen hundred
millions or so of human beings who even at any one moment are in
existence. Much less can he ascertain or remember the inter-relation
of thousands of inherited qualities in the past history of a race in
which individuals are at every moment dying and being born.

Mr. H.G. Wells faces this fact in that extremely stimulating essay on
'Scepticism of the Instrument,' which he has appended to his _Modern
Utopia_. His answer is that the difficulty is 'of the very smallest
importance in all the practical affairs of life, or indeed in relation
to anything but philosophy and wide generalisations. But in philosophy
it matters profoundly. If I order two new-laid eggs for breakfast, up
come two unhatched but still unique avian individuals, and the chances
are they serve my rude physiological purpose.'[38]

[38] _A Modern Utopia_, p. 381.

To the politician, however, the uniqueness of the individual is of
enormous importance, not only when he is dealing with 'philosophy and
wide generalisations' but in the practical affairs of his daily
activity. Even the fowl-breeder does not simply ask for 'two eggs' to
put under a hen when he is trying to establish a new variety, and the
politician, who is responsible for actual results in an amazingly
complicated world, has to deal with more delicate distinctions than the
breeder. A statesman who wants two private secretaries, or two generals,
or two candidates likely to receive equally enthusiastic support from
nonconformists and trade-unionists, does not ask for 'two men.'

On this point, however, most writers on political science seem to
suggest that after they have described human nature as if all men were
in all respects equal to the average man, and have warned their readers
of the inexactness of their description, they can do no more. All
knowledge of individual variations must be left to individual

John Stuart Mill, for instance, in the section on the Logic of the Moral
Sciences at the end of his _System of Logic_ implies this, and seems
also to imply that any resulting inexactness in the political judgments
and forecasts made by students and professors of politics does not
involve a large element of error.

'Excepting,' he says, 'the degree of uncertainty, which still exists as
to the extent of the natural differences of individual minds, and the
physical circumstances on which these may be dependent, (considerations
which are of secondary importance when we are considering mankind in
the average or _en masse_), I believe most competent judges will agree
that the general laws of the different constituent elements of human
nature are even now sufficiently understood to render it possible for a
competent thinker to deduce from those laws, with a considerable
approach to certainty, the particular type of character which would be
formed, in mankind generally, by any assumed set of circumstances.'[39]

[39] _System of Logic_, Book vi. vol. ii. (1875), p. 462.

Few people nowadays would be found to share Mill's belief. It is just
because we feel ourselves unable to deduce with any 'approach to
certainty' the effect of circumstances upon character, that we all
desire to obtain, if it is possible, a more exact idea of human
variation than can be arrived at by thinking of mankind 'in the average
or _en masse_.'

Fortunately the mathematical students of biology, of whom Professor Karl
Pearson is the most distinguished leader, are already showing us that
facts of inherited variation can be so arranged that we can remember
them without having to get by heart millions of isolated instances.
Professor Pearson and the other writers in the periodical _Biometrika_
have measured innumerable beech leaves, snails' tongues, human skulls,
etc. etc., and have recorded in each case the variations of any quality
in a related group of individuals by that which Professor Pearson calls
an 'observation frequency polygon,' but which I, in my own thinking,
find that I call (from a vague memory of its shape) a 'cocked hat.'

Here is a tracing of such a figure, founded on the actual measurement of
25,878 recruits for the United States army.

[Transcriber's Description:
A line graph of number of recruits vs. height. The horizontal axis is
AC, and the line itself is ABC, which is roughly normal.]]

The line _ABC_ records, by its distance at successive points from the
line _AC_, the number of recruits reaching successive inches of height.
It shows, e.g. (as indicated by the dotted lines) that the number of
recruits between 5 ft. 11 in. and 6 ft. was about 1500, and the number
of those between 5 ft. 7 in. and 5 ft. 8 in. about 4000.[40]

[40] This figure is adapted (by the kind permission of the publishers)
from one given in Professor K. Pearson's _Chances of Death_, vol. i. p.
277. For the relation between such records of actual observation and the
curves resulting from mathematical calculation of known causes of
variation, see _ibid._, chap, viii., the paper by the same author on
'Contributions to the Mathematical Theory of Evolution,' in vol. 186 (A)
of the _Royal Society's Philosophical Transactions_ (1896), and the
chapters on evolution in his _Grammar of Science_, 2nd edition.

Such figures, when they simply record the results of the fact that the
likeness of the offspring to the parent in evolution is constantly
inexact, are (like the records of other cases of 'chance' variation)
fairly symmetrical, the greatest number of instances being found at the
mean, and the descending curves of those above and those below the mean
corresponding pretty closely with each other. Boot manufacturers, as the
result of experience, construct in effect such a curve, making a large
number of boots of the sizes which in length or breadth are near the
mean, and a symmetrically diminishing number of the sizes above and
below it.

In the next chapter I shall deal with the use in reasoning of such
curves, either actually 'plotted' or roughly imagined. In this chapter I
point out, firstly, that they can be easily remembered (partly because
our visual memory is extremely retentive of the image made by a black
line on a white surface) and that we can in consequence carry in our
minds the quantitative facts as to a number of variations enormously
beyond the possibility of memory if they were treated as isolated
instances; and secondly, that we can by imagining such curves form a
roughly accurate idea of the character of the variations to be expected
as to any inherited quality among groups of individuals not yet born or
not yet measured.

The third and last division under which knowledge of man can be arranged
for the purposes of political study consists of the facts of man's
environment, and of the effect of environment upon his character and
actions. It is the extreme instability and uncertainty of this element
which constitutes the special difficulty of politics. The human type and
the quantitative distribution of its variations are for the politician,
who deals with a few generations only, practically permanent. Man's
environment changes with ever-increasing rapidity. The inherited nature
of every human being varies indeed from that of every other, but the
relative frequency of the most important variations can be forecasted
for each generation. The difference, on the other hand, between one
man's environment and that of other men can be arranged on no curve and
remembered or forecasted by no expedient. Buckle, it is true, attempted
to explain the present and prophesy the future intellectual history of
modern nations by the help of a few generalisations as to the effect of
that small fraction of their environment which consisted of climate. But
Buckle failed, and no one has attacked the problem again with anything
like his confidence.

We can, of course, see that in the environment of any nation or class at
any given time there are some facts which constitute for all its members
a common experience, and therefore a common influence. Climate is such a
fact, or the discovery of America, or the invention of printing, or the
rates of wages and prices. All nonconformists are influenced by their
memory of certain facts of which very few churchmen are aware, and all
Irishmen by facts which most Englishmen try to forget. The student of
politics must therefore read history, and particularly the history of
those events and habits of thought in the immediate past which are
likely to influence the generation in which he will work. But he must
constantly be on his guard against the expectation that his reading will
give him much power of accurate forecast. Where history shows him that
such and such an experiment has succeeded or failed he must always
attempt to ascertain how far success or failure was due to facts of the
human type, which he may assume to have persisted into his own time, and
how far to facts of environment. When he can show that failure was due
to the ignoring of some fact of the type and can state definitely what
that fact is, he will be able to attach a real meaning to the repeated
and unheeded maxims by which the elder members of any generation warn
the younger that their ideas are 'against human nature.' But if it is
possible that the cause was one of mental environment, that is to say, of
habit or tradition, or memory, he should be constantly on his guard
against generalisations about national or racial 'character.'

One of the most fertile sources of error in modern political thinking
consists, indeed, in the ascription to collective habit of that
comparative permanence which only belongs to biological inheritance. A
whole science can be based upon easy generalisations about Celts and
Teutons, or about East and West, and the facts from which the
generalisations are drawn may all disappear in a generation. National
habits used to change slowly in the past, because new methods of life
were seldom invented and only gradually introduced, and because the
means of communicating ideas between man and man or nation and nation
were extremely imperfect; so that a true statement about a national
habit might, and probably would, remain true for centuries. But now an
invention which may produce profound changes in social or industrial
life is as likely to be taken up with enthusiasm in some country on the
other side of the globe as in the place of its origin. A statesman who
has anything important to say says it to an audience of five hundred
millions next morning, and great events like the Battle of the Sea of
Japan begin to produce their effects thousands of miles off within a few
hours of their happening. Enough has already occurred under these new
conditions to show that the unchanging East may to-morrow enter upon a
period of revolution, and that English indifference to ideas or French
military ambition are habits which, under a sufficiently extended
stimulus, nations can shake off as completely as can individual men.



The traditional method of political reasoning has inevitably shared the
defects of its subject-matter. In thinking about politics we seldom
penetrate behind those simple entities which form themselves so easily
in our minds, or approach in earnest the infinite complexity of the
actual world. Political abstractions, such as Justice, or Liberty, or
the State, stand in our minds as things having a real existence. The
names of political species, 'governments,' or 'rights,' or 'Irishmen,'
suggest to us the idea of single 'type specimens'; and we tend, like
medieval naturalists, to assume that all the individual members of a
species are in all respects identical with the type specimen and with
each other.

In politics a true proposition in the form of 'All A is B' almost
invariably means that a number of individual persons or things possess
the quality B in degrees of variation as numerous as are the individuals
themselves. We tend, however, under the influence of our words and the
mental habits associated with them to think of A either as a single
individual possessing the quality B, or as a number of individuals
equally possessing that quality. As we read in the newspaper that 'the
educated Bengalis are disaffected' we either see, in the half-conscious
substratum of visual images which accompanies our reading, a single Babu
with a disaffected expression or the vague suggestion of a long row of
identical Babus all equally disaffected.

These personifications and uniformities, in their turn, tempt us to
employ in our political thinking that method of _a priori_ deduction
from large and untried generalisations against which natural science
from the days of Bacon has always protested. No scientist now argues
that the planets move in circles, because planets are perfect, and the
circle is a perfect figure, or that any newly discovered plant must be a
cure for some disease because nature has given healing properties to all
plants. But 'logical' democrats still argue in America that, because all
men are equal, political offices ought to go by rotation, and 'logical'
collectivists sometimes argue from the 'principle' that the State should
own all the means of production to the conclusion that all railway
managers should be elected by universal suffrage.

In natural science, again, the conception of the plurality and
interaction of causes has become part of our habitual mental furniture;
but in politics both the book-learned student and the man in the street
may be heard to talk as if each result had only one cause. If the
question, for instance, of the Anglo-Japanese alliance is raised, any
two politicians, whether they are tramps on the outskirts of a Hyde Park
crowd or Heads of Colleges writing to the _Times_, are not unlikely to
argue, one, that all nations are suspicious, and that therefore the
alliance must certainly fail, and the other that all nations are guided
by their interests, and that therefore the alliance must certainly
succeed. The Landlord of the 'Rainbow' in _Silas Marner_ had listened to
many thousands of political discussions before he adopted his formula,
'The truth lies atween you: you're both right and both wrong, as I
allays say.'

In Economics the danger of treating abstract and uniform words as if
they were equivalent to abstract and uniform things has now been
recognised for the last half century. When this recognition began, it
was objected by the followers of the 'classical' Political Economy that
abstraction was a necessary condition of thought, and that all dangers
arising from it would be avoided if we saw clearly what it was that we
were doing. Bagehot, who stood at the meeting-point of the old Economics
and the new, wrote about 1876:--

'Political Economy ... is an abstract science, just as statics and
dynamics are deductive sciences. And in consequence, it deals with an
unreal and imaginary subject, ... not with the entire real man as we
know him in fact, but with a simpler imaginary man....'[41]

[41] _Economic Studies_ (Longmans, 1895), p. 97.

He goes on to urge that the real and complex man can be depicted by
printing on our minds a succession of different imaginary simple men.
'The maxim of science,' he says, 'is that of common-sense--simple cases
first; begin with seeing how the main force acts when there is as little
as possible to impede it, and when you thoroughly comprehend that, add
to it in succession the separate effects of each of the encumbering and
interfering agencies.'[42]

[42] _Ibid._, p. 98.

But this process of mental chromolithography, though it is sometimes a
good way of learning a science, is not a way of using it; and Bagehot
gives no indication how his complex picture of man, formed from
successive layers of abstraction, is to be actually employed in
forecasting economic results.

When Jevons published his _Theory of Political Economy_ in 1871, it was
already widely felt that a simple imaginary man, or even a composite
picture made up of a series of different simple imaginary men, although
useful in answering examination questions, was of very little use in
drafting a Factory Act or arbitrating on a sliding scale of wages.
Jevons therefore based his economic method upon the variety and not the
uniformity of individual instances. He arranged the hours of labour in
a working day, or the units of satisfaction from spending money, on
curves of increase and decrease, and employed mathematical methods to
indicate the point where one curve, whether representing an imaginary
estimate or a record of ascertained facts, would cut the others to the
best advantage.

Here was something which corresponded, however roughly, to the process
by which practical people arrive at practical and responsible results. A
railway manager who wishes to discover the highest rate of charges which
his traffic will bear is not interested if he is told that the rate when
fixed will have been due to the law that all men seek to obtain wealth
with as little effort as possible, modified in its working by men's
unwillingness to break an established business habit. He wants a method
which, instead of merely providing him with a verbal 'explanation' of
what has happened, will enable him to form a quantitative estimate of
what under given circumstances will happen. He can, however, and, I
believe, now often does, use the Jevonian method to work out definite
results in half-pennies and tons from the intersection of plotted curves
recording actual statistics of rates and traffic.

Since Jevons's time the method which he initiated has been steadily
extended; economic and statistical processes have become more nearly
assimilated, and problems of fatigue or acquired skill, of family
affection and personal thrift, of management by the _entrepreneur_ or
the paid official, have been stated and argued in quantitative form. As
Professor Marshall said the other day, _qualitative_ reasoning in
economics is passing away and _quantitative_ reasoning is beginning to
take its place.[43]

[43] _Journal of Economics_, March 1907, pp. 7 and 8. 'What by chemical
analogy may be called qualitative analysis has done the greater part of
its work.... Much less progress has indeed been made towards the
quantitative determination of the relative strength of different
economic forces. That higher and more difficult task must wait upon the
slow growth of thorough realistic statistics.'

How far is a similar change of method possible in the discussion not of
industrial and financial processes but of the structure and working of
political institutions?

It is of course easy to pick out political questions which can obviously
be treated by quantitative methods. One may take, for instance, the
problem of the best size for a debating hall, to be used, say, by the
Federal Deliberative Assembly of the British Empire--assuming that the
shape is already settled. The main elements of the problem are that the
hall should be large enough to accommodate with dignity a number of
members sufficient both for the representation of interests and the
carrying out of committee work, and not too large for each member to
listen without strain to a debate. The resultant size will represent a
compromise among these elements, accommodating a number smaller than
would be desirable if the need of representation and dignity alone were
to be considered, and larger than it would be if the convenience of
debate alone were considered.

A body of economists could agree to plot out or imagine a succession of
'curves' representing the advantage to be obtained from each additional
unit of size in dignity, adequacy of representation, supply of members
for committee work, healthiness, etc., and the disadvantage of each
additional unit of size as affecting convenience of debate, etc. The
curves of dignity and adequacy might be the result of direct estimation.
The curve of marginal convenience in audibility would be founded upon
actual 'polygons of variation' recording measurements of the distance at
which a sufficient number of individuals of the classes and ages
expected could hear and make themselves heard in a room of that shape.
The economists might further, after discussion, agree on the relative
importance of each element to the final decision, and might give effect
to their agreement by the familiar statistical device of 'weighting.'

The answer would perhaps provide fourteen square feet on the floor in a
room twenty-six feet high for each of three hundred and seventeen
members. There would, when the answer was settled, be a 'marginal' man
in point of hearing (representing, perhaps, an average healthy man of
seventy-four), who would be unable or just able to hear the 'marginal'
man in point of clearness of speech--who might represent (on a polygon
specially drawn up by the Oxford Professor of Biology) the least audible
but two of the tutors at Balliol. The marginal point on the curve of the
decreasing utility of successive increments of members from the point of
view of committee work might show, perhaps, that such work must either
be reduced to a point far below that which is usual in national
parliaments, or must be done very largely by persons not members of the
assembly itself. The aesthetic curve of dignity might be cut at the
point where the President of the Society of British Architects could
just be induced not to write to the _Times_.

Any discussion which took place on such lines, even although the curves
were mere forms of speech, would be real and practical. Instead of one
man reiterating that the Parliament Hall of a great empire ought to
represent the dignity of its task, and another man answering that a
debating assembly which cannot debate is of no use, both would be forced
to ask 'How much dignity'? and 'How much debating convenience'? As it
is, this particular question seems often to be settled by the architect,
who is deeply concerned with aesthetic effect, and not at all concerned
with debating convenience. The reasons that he gives in his reports seem
convincing, because the other considerations are not in the minds of
the Building Committee, who think of one element only of the problem at
a time and make no attempt to co-ordinate all the elements. Otherwise it
would be impossible to explain the fact that the Debating Hall, for
instance, of the House of Representatives at Washington is no more
fitted for debates carried on by human beings than would a spoon ten
feet broad be fitted for the eating of soup. The able leaders of the
National Congress movement in India made the same mistake in 1907, when
they arranged, with their minds set only on the need of an impressive
display, that difficult and exciting questions of tactics should be
discussed by about fifteen hundred delegates in a huge tent, and in the
presence of a crowd of nearly ten thousand spectators. I am afraid that
it is not unlikely that the London County Council may also despise the
quantitative method of reasoning on such questions, and may find
themselves in 1912 provided with a new hall admirably adapted to
illustrate the dignity of London and the genius of their architect, but
unfitted for any other purpose.

Nor is the essence of the quantitative method changed when the answer is
to be found, not in one, but in several 'unknown quantities.' Take, for
instance, the question as to the best types of elementary school to be
provided in London. If it were assumed that only one type of school was
to be provided, the problem would be stated in the same form as that of
the size of the Debating Hall. But it is possible in most London
districts to provide within easy walking distance of every child four or
five schools of different types, and the problem becomes that of so
choosing a limited number of types as to secure that the degree of
'misfit' between child and curriculum shall be as small as possible. If
we treat the general aptitude (or 'cleverness') of the children as
differing only by more or less, the problem becomes one of fitting the
types of school to a fairly exactly ascertainable polygon of
intellectual variation. It might appear then that the best results would
come from the provision, say, of five types of schools providing
respectively for the 2 per cent, of greatest natural cleverness, the
succeeding 10 per cent., the intermediate 76 per cent., the
comparatively sub-normal 10 per cent., and the 2 per cent, of 'mentally
deficient.' That is to say the local authority would have to provide in
that proportion Secondary, Higher Grade, Ordinary, Sub-Normal, and
Mentally Deficient schools.

A general improvement in nutrition and other home circumstances might
tend to 'steepen' the polygon of variation, i.e. to bring more children
near the normal, or it might increase the number of children with
exceptional inherited cleverness who were able to reveal that fact, and
so 'flatten' it; and either case might make a change desirable in the
best proportion between the types of schools or even in the number of
the types.

It would be more difficult to induce a committee of politicians to agree
on the plotting of curves, representing the social advantage to be
obtained by the successive increments of satisfaction in an urban
industrial population of those needs which are indicated by the terms
Socialism and Individualism. They could, however, be brought to admit
that the discovery of curves for that purpose is a matter of observation
and inquiry, and that the best possible distribution of social duties
between the individual and the state would cut both at some point or
other. For many Socialists and Individualists the mere attempt to think
in such a way of their problem would be an extremely valuable exercise.
If a Socialist and an Individualist were required even to ask themselves
the question, 'How much Socialism'? or 'How much Individualism'? a basis
of real discussion would be arrived at--even in the impossible case that
one should answer, 'All Individualism and no Socialism,' and the
other, 'All Socialism and no Individualism.'

The fact, of course, that each step towards either Socialism or
Individualism changes the character of the other elements in the
problem, or the fact that an invention like printing, or representative
government, or Civil Service examinations, or the Utilitarian
philosophy, may make it possible to provide greatly increased
satisfaction both to Socialist and Individualist desires, complicates
the question, but does not alter its quantitative character. The
essential point is that in every case in which a political thinker is
able to adopt what Professor Marshall calls the quantitative method of
reasoning, his vocabulary and method, instead of constantly suggesting a
false simplicity, warn him that every individual instance with which he
deals is different from any other, that any effect is a function of many
variable causes, and, therefore, that no estimate of the result of any
act can be accurate unless all its conditions and their relative
importance are taken into account.

But how far are such quantitative methods possible when a statesman is
dealing, neither with an obviously quantitative problem, like the
building of halls or schools, nor with an attempt to give quantitative
meaning to abstract terms like Socialism or Individualism, but with the
enormous complexity of responsible legislation?

In approaching this question we shall be helped if we keep before us a
description of the way in which some one statesman has, in fact, thought
of a great constitutional problem.

Take, for instance, the indications which Mr. Morley gives of the
thinking done by Gladstone on Home Rule during the autumn and winter of
1885-86. Gladstone, we are told, had already, for many years past,
pondered anxiously at intervals about Ireland, and now he describes
himself as 'thinking incessantly about the matter' (vol. iii. p. 268),
and 'preparing myself by study and reflection' (p. 273).

He has first to consider the state of feeling in England and Ireland,
and to calculate to what extent and under what influences it may be
expected to change. As to English feeling, 'what I expect,' he says, 'is
a healthy slow fermentation in many minds working towards the final
product' (p. 261). The Irish desire for self-government, on the other
hand, will not change, and must be taken, within the time-limit of his
problem, as 'fixed' (p. 240). In both England and Ireland, however, he
believes that 'mutual attachment' may grow (p. 292).

Before making up his mind in favour of some kind of Home Rule, he
examines every thinkable alternative, especially the development of
Irish County Government, or a Federal arrangement in which all three of
the united kingdoms would be concerned. Here and there he finds
suggestions in the history of Austria-Hungary, of Norway and Sweden, or
of the 'colonial type' of government. Nearly every day he reads Burke,
and exclaims 'what a magazine of wisdom on Ireland and America' (p.
280). He gets much help from 'a chapter on semi-sovereign assemblies in
Dicey's _Law of the Constitution_ (p. 280). He tries to see the question
from fresh points of view in intimate personal discussions, and by
imagining what 'the civilised world' (p. 225) will think. As he gets
nearer to his subject, he has definite statistical reports made for him
by 'Welby and Hamilton on the figures' (p. 306), has 'stiff conclaves
about finance and land' (p. 298), and nearly comes to a final split with
Parnell on the question whether the Irish contribution to Imperial
taxation shall be a fifteenth or a twentieth.

Time and persons are important factors in his calculation. If Lord
Salisbury will consent to introduce some measure of Irish
self-government, the problem will be fundamentally altered, and the same
will happen if the general election produces a Liberal majority
independent of both Irish and Conservatives; and Mr. Morley describes as
underlying all his calculations 'the irresistible attraction for him of
all the grand and eternal commonplaces of liberty and self-government'
(p. 260).

It is not likely that Mr. Morley's narrative touches on more than a
fraction of the questions which must have been in Gladstone's mind
during these months of incessant thought. No mention is made, for
instance, of religion, or of the military position, or of the permanent
possibility of enforcing the proposed restrictions on self-government.
But enough is given to show the complexity of political thought at that
stage when a statesman, still uncommitted, is considering what will be
the effect of a new political departure.

What then was the logical process by which Gladstone's final decision
was arrived at?

Did he for instance deal with a succession of simple problems or with
one complex problem? It is, I think, clear that from time to time
isolated and comparatively simple trains of reasoning were followed up;
but it is also clear that Gladstone's main effort of thought was
involved in the process of co-ordinating all the laboriously collected
contents of his mind onto the whole problem. This is emphasised by a
quotation in which Mr. Morley, who was closely associated with
Gladstone's intellectual toil during this period, indicates his own

'Historians,' he quotes from Professor Gardiner, 'coolly dissect a man's
thoughts as they please; and label them like specimens in a naturalist's
cabinet. Such a thing, they argue, was done for mere personal
aggrandisement; such a thing for national objects, such a thing from
high religious motives. In real life we may be sure it was not so' (p.

And it is clear that in spite of the ease and delight with which
Gladstone's mind moved among 'the eternal commonplaces of liberty and
self-government,' he is seeking throughout for a quantitative solution.
'Home Rule' is no simple entity for him. He realises that the number of
possible schemes for Irish government is infinite, and he attempts to
make at every point in his own scheme a delicate adjustment between
many varying forces.

A large part of this work of complex co-ordination was apparently in Mr.
Gladstone's case unconscious. Throughout the chapters one has the
feeling--which any one who has had to make less important political
decisions can parallel from his own experience--that Gladstone was
waiting for indications of a solution to appear in his mind. He was
conscious of his effort, conscious also that his effort was being
directed simultaneously towards many different considerations, but
largely unconscious of the actual process of inference, which went on
perhaps more rapidly when he was asleep, or thinking of something else,
than when he was awake and attentive. A phrase of Mr. Morley's indicates
a feeling with which every politician is familiar. 'The reader,' he
says,'knows in what direction the main current of Mr. Gladstone's
thought must have been setting' (p. 236).

That is to say, we are watching an operation rather of art than of
science, of long experience and trained faculty rather than of conscious

But the history of human progress consists in the gradual and partial
substitution of science for art, of the power over nature acquired in
youth by study, for that which comes in late middle age as the
half-conscious result of experience. Our problem therefore involves the
further question, whether those forms of political thought which
correspond to the complexity of nature are teachable or not? At present
they are not often taught. In every generation thousands of young men
and women are attracted to politics because their intellects are keener,
and their sympathies wider than those of their fellows. They become
followers of Liberalism or Imperialism, of Scientific Socialism or the
Rights of Men or Women. To them, at first, Liberalism and the Empire,
Rights and Principles, are real and simple things. Or, like Shelley,
they see in the whole human race an infinite repetition of uniform
individuals, the 'millions on millions' who 'wait, firm, rapid, and

[44] Shelley, _Poetical Works_ (H.B. Forman), vol. iv. p. 8.

About all these things they argue by the old _a priori_ methods which we
have inherited with our political language. But after a time a sense of
unreality grows upon them. Knowledge of the complex and difficult world
forces itself into their minds. Like the old Chartists with whom I once
spent an evening, they tell you that their politics have been 'all
talk'--all words--and there are few among them, except those to whom
politics has become a profession or a career, who hold on until through
weariness and disappointment they learn new confidence from new
knowledge. Most men, after the first disappointment, fall back on habit
or party spirit for their political opinions and actions. Having ceased
to think of their unknown fellow citizens as uniform repetitions of a
simple type, they cease to think of them at all; and content themselves
with using party phrases about the mass of mankind, and realising the
individual existence of their casual neighbours.

Wordsworth's _Prelude_ describes with pathetic clearness a mental
history, which must have been that of many thousands of men who could
not write great poetry, and whose moral and intellectual forces have
been blunted and wasted by political disillusionment. He tells us that
the 'man' whom he loved in 1792, when the French Revolution was still at
its dawn, was seen in 1798 to be merely 'the composition of the brain.'
After agonies of despair and baffled affection, he saw 'the individual
man ... the man whom we behold with our own eyes.'[45] But in that change
from a false simplification of the whole to the mere contemplation of
the individual, Wordsworth's power of estimating political forces or
helping in political progress was gone for ever.

[45] _The Prelude_, Bk. XIII., ll. 81-84.

If this constantly repeated disappointment is to cease, quantitative
method must spread in politics and must transform the vocabulary and the
associations of that mental world into which the young politician
enters. Fortunately such a change seems at least to be beginning. Every
year larger and more exact collections of detailed political facts are
being accumulated; and collections of detailed facts, if they are to be
used at all in political reasoning, must be used quantitatively. The
intellectual work of preparing legislation, whether carried on by
permanent officials or Royal Commissions or Cabinet Ministers takes
every year a more quantitative and a less qualitative form.

Compare for instance the methods of the present Commission on the Poor
Law with those of the celebrated and extraordinarily able Commission
which drew up the new Poor Law in 1833-34. The argument of the earlier
Commissioners' Report runs on lines which it would be easy to put in _a
priori_ syllogistic form. All men seek pleasure and avoid pain. Society
ought to secure that pain attaches to anti-social, and pleasure to
social conduct. This may be done by making every man's livelihood and
that of his children normally dependent upon his own exertions, by
separating those destitute persons who cannot do work useful to the
community from those who can, and by presenting these last with the
alternative of voluntary effort or painful restriction. This leads to 'a
principle which we find universally admitted, even by those whose
practice is at variance with it, that the situation [of the pauper] on
the whole shall not be made really or apparently so eligible as the
situation of the independent labourer of the lowest class.'[46] The _a
priori_ argument is admirably illustrated by instances, reported by the
sub-commissioners or given in evidence before the Commission, indicating
that labouring men will not exert themselves unless they are offered the
alternative of starvation or rigorous confinement, though no attempt is
made to estimate the proportion of the working population of England
whose character and conduct is represented by each instance.

[46] _First Report of the Poor Law Commission_, 1834 (reprinted 1894),
p. 187.

This _a priori_ deduction, illustrated, but not proved by particular
instances, is throughout so clear and so easily apprehended by the
ordinary man that the revolutionary Bill of 1834, which affected all
sorts of vested interests, passed the House of Commons by a majority of
four to one and the House of Lords by a majority of six to one.

The Poor Law Commission of 1905, on the other hand, though it contains
many members trained in the traditions of 1834, is being driven, by the
mere necessity of dealing with the mass of varied evidence before it,
onto new lines. Instead of assuming half consciously that human energy
is dependent solely on the working of the human will in the presence of
the ideas of pleasure and pain, the Commissioners are forced to tabulate
and consider innumerable quantitative observations relating to the very
many factors affecting the will of paupers and possible paupers. They
cannot, for instance, avoid the task of estimating the relative
industrial effectiveness of health, which depends upon decent
surroundings; of hope, which may be made possible by State provision for
old age; and of the imaginative range which is the result of education;
and of comparing all these with the 'purely economic' motive created by
ideas of future pleasure and pain.

The evidence before the Commission is, that is to say, collected not to
illustrate general propositions otherwise established, but to provide
quantitative answers to quantitative questions; and instances are in
each case accumulated according to a well-known statistical rule until
the repetition of results shows that further accumulation would be

In 1834 it was enough, in dealing with the political machinery of the
Poor Law, to argue that, since all men desire their own interest, the
ratepayers would elect guardians who would, up to the limit of their
knowledge, advance the interests of the whole community; provided that
electoral areas were created in which all sectional interests were
represented, and that voting power were given to each ratepayer in
proportion to his interest. It did not then seem to matter much whether
the areas chosen were new or old, or whether the body elected had other
duties or not.

In 1908, on the other hand, it is felt to be necessary to seek for all
the causes which are likely to influence the mind of the ratepayer or
candidate during an election, and to estimate by such evidence as is
available their relative importance. It has to be considered, for
instance, whether men vote best in areas where they keep up habits of
political action in connection with parliamentary as well as municipal
contests; and whether an election involving other points besides
poor-law administration is more likely to create interest among the
electorate. If more than one election, again, is held in a district in
any year it may be found by the record of the percentage of votes that
electoral enthusiasm diminishes for each additional contest along a very
rapidly descending curve.

The final decisions that will be taken either by the Commission or by
Parliament on questions of administrative policy and electoral machinery
must therefore involve the balancing of all these and many other
considerations by an essentially quantitative process. The line, that is
to say, which ultimately cuts the curves indicated by the evidence will
allow less weight either to anxiety for the future as a motive for
exertion, or to personal health as increasing personal efficiency, than
would be given to either if it were the sole factor to be considered.
There will be more 'bureaucracy' than would be desirable if it were not
for the need of economising the energies of the elected representatives,
and less bureaucracy than there would be if it were not desirable to
retain popular sympathy and consent. Throughout the argument the
population of England will be looked upon not (as John Stuart Mill would
have said) 'on the average or _en masse_,'[47] but as consisting of
individuals who can be arranged in 'polygons of variation' according to
their nervous and physical strength, their 'character' and the degree to
which ideas of the future are likely to affect their present conduct.

[47] See p. 132.

Meanwhile the public which will discuss the Report has changed since
1834. Newspaper writers, in discussing the problem of destitution, tend
now to use, not general terms applied to whole social classes like the
'poor,' 'the working class,' or 'the lower orders,' but terms expressing
quantitative estimates of individual variations, like 'the submerged
tenth,' or the 'unemployable'; while every newspaper reader is fairly
familiar with the figures in the Board of Trade monthly returns which
record seasonal and periodical variations of actual unemployment among
Trade Unionists.

One could give many other instances of this beginning of a tendency in
political thinking, to change from qualitative to quantitative forms of
argument. But perhaps it will be sufficient to give one relating to
international politics. 'Sixty years ago sovereignty was a simple
question of quality. Austin had demonstrated that there must be a
sovereign everywhere, and that sovereignty, whether in the hands of an
autocracy or a republic, must be absolute. But the Congress which in
1885 sat at Berlin to prevent the partition of Africa from causing a
series of European wars as long as those caused by the partition of
America, was compelled by the complexity of the problems before it to
approach the question of sovereignty on quantitative lines. Since 1885
therefore every one has become familiar with the terms then invented to
express gradations of sovereignty: 'Effective occupation,' 'Hinterland,'
'Sphere of Influence'--to which the Algeçiras Conference has perhaps
added a lowest grade, 'Sphere of Legitimate Aspiration.' It is already
as unimportant to decide whether a given region is British territory or
not, as it is to decide whether a bar containing a certain percentage of
carbon should be called iron or steel.

Even in thinking of the smallest subdivisions of observed political fact
some men escape the temptation to ignore individual differences. I
remember that the man who has perhaps done more than any one else in
England to make a statistical basis for industrial legislation possible,
once told me that he had been spending the whole day in classifying
under a few heads thousands of 'railway accidents,' every one of which
differed in its circumstances from any other; and that he felt like the
bewildered porter in _Punch_, who had to arrange the subleties of nature
according to the unsubtle tariff-schedule of his company. 'Cats,' he
quoted the porter as saying, 'is dogs, and guinea-pigs is dogs, but this
'ere tortoise is a hinsect.'

But it must constantly be remembered that quantitative thinking does
not necessarily or even generally mean thinking in terms of numerical
statistics. Number, which obliterates all distinction between the units
numbered, is not the only, nor always even the most exact means of
representing quantitative facts. A picture, for instance, may be
sometimes nearer to quantitative truth, more easily remembered and more
useful for purposes of argument and verification than a row of figures.
The most exact quantitative political document that I ever saw was a set
of photographs of all the women admitted into an inebriate home. The
photographs demonstrated, more precisely than any record of approximate
measurements could have done, the varying facts of physical and nervous
structure. It would have been easily possible for a committee of medical
men to have arranged the photographs in a series of increasing
abnormality, and to have indicated the photograph of the 'marginal'
woman in whose case, after allowing for considerations of expense, and
for the desirability of encouraging individual responsibility, the State
should undertake temporary or permanent control. And the record was one
which no one who had ever seen it could forget.

The political thinker has indeed sometimes to imitate the cabinet-maker,
who discards his most finely divided numerical rule for some kinds of
specially delicate work, and trusts to his sense of touch for a
quantitative estimation. The most exact estimation possible of a
political problem may have been contrived when a group of men, differing
in origin, education, and mental type, first establish an approximate
agreement as to the probable results of a series of possible political
alternatives involving, say, increasing or decreasing state
interference, and then discover the point where their 'liking' turns
into 'disliking.' Man is the measure of man, and he may still be using a
quantitative process even though he chooses in each case that method of
measurement which is least affected by the imperfection of his powers.
But it is just in the cases where numerical calculation is impossible or
unsuitable that the politician is likely to get most help by using
consciously quantitative conceptions.

An objection has been urged against the adoption of political reasoning
either implicitly or explicitly quantitative, that it involves the
balancing against each other of things essentially disparate. How is
one, it is asked, to balance the marginal unit of national honour
involved in the continuance of a war with that marginal unit of extra
taxation which is supposed to be its exact equivalent? How is one to
balance the final sovereign spent on the endowment of science with the
final sovereign spent on a monument to a deceased scientist, or on the
final detail in a scheme of old age pensions? The obvious answer is that
statesmen have to act, and that whoever acts does somehow balance all
the alternatives which are before him. The Chancellor of the Exchequer
in his annual allocation of grants and remissions of taxation balances
no stranger things than does the private citizen, who, having a pound or
two to spend at Christmas, decides between subscribing to a Chinese
Mission and providing a revolving hatch between his kitchen and his

A more serious objection is that we ought not to allow ourselves to
think quantitatively in politics, that to do so fritters away the plain
consideration of principle. 'Logical principles' may be only an
inadequate representation of the subtlety of nature, but to abandon them
is, it is contended, to become a mere opportunist.

In the minds of these objectors the only alternative to deductive
thought from simple principles seems to be the attitude of Prince
Bülow, in his speech in the Reichstag on universal suffrage. He is
reported to have said:--'Only the most doctrinaire Socialists still
regarded universal and direct suffrage as a fetish and as an infallible
dogma. For his own part he was no worshipper of idols, and he did not
believe in political dogmas. The welfare and the liberty of a country
did not depend either in whole or in part upon the form of its
Constitution or of its franchise. Herr Bebel had once said that on the
whole he preferred English conditions even to conditions in France. But
in England the franchise was not universal, equal, and direct. Could it
be said that Mecklenburg, which had no popular suffrage at all, was
governed worse than Haiti, of which the world had lately heard such
strange news, although Haiti could boast of possessing universal

[48] _Times_, March 27, 1908.

But what Prince Bülow's speech showed, was that he was either
deliberately parodying a style of scholastic reasoning with which he did
not agree, or he was incapable of grasping the first conception of
quantitative political thought. If the 'dogma' of universal suffrage
means the assertion that all men who have votes are thereby made
identical with each other in all respects, and that universal suffrage
is the one condition of good government, then, and then only, is his
attack on it valid. If, however, the desire for universal suffrage is
based on the belief that a wide extension of political power is one of
the most important elements in the conditions of good government--racial
aptitude, ministerial responsibility, and the like, being other
elements--then the speech is absolutely meaningless.

But Prince Bülow was making a parliamentary speech, and in
parliamentary oratory that change from qualitative to quantitative
method which has so deeply affected the procedure of Conferences and
Commissions has not yet made much progress. In a 'full-dress' debate
even those speeches which move us most often recall Mr. Gladstone, in
whose mind, as soon as he stood up to speak, his Eton and Oxford
training in words always contended with his experience of things, and
who never made it quite clear whether the 'grand and eternal
commonplaces of liberty and self-government' meant that certain elements
must be of great and permanent importance in every problem of Church and
State, or that an _a priori_ solution of all political problems could be
deduced by all good men from absolute and authoritative laws.


_Possibilities of Progress_



In the preceding chapters I have argued that the efficiency of political
science, its power, that is to say, of forecasting the results of
political causes, is likely to increase. I based my argument on two
facts, firstly, that modern psychology offers us a conception of human
nature much truer, though more complex, than that which is associated
with the traditional English political philosophy; and secondly, that,
under the influence and example of the natural sciences, political
thinkers are already beginning to use in their discussions and inquiries
quantitative rather than merely qualitative words and methods, and are
able therefore both to state their problems more fully and to answer
them with a greater approximation to accuracy.

In this argument it was not necessary to ask how far such an
improvement in the science of politics is likely to influence the actual
course of political history. Whatever may be the best way of discovering
truth will remain the best, whether the mass of mankind choose to follow
it or not.

But politics are studied, as Aristotle said, 'for the sake of action
rather than of knowledge,'[49] and the student is bound, sooner or later,
to ask himself what will be the effect of a change in his science upon
that political world in which he lives and works.

[49] _Ethics_, Bk. I. ch. iii. (6). [Greek: epeidê tò telos [tês
politikês] estìn ou gnêsis allà praxis.]

One can imagine, for instance, that a professor of politics in Columbia
University, who had just taken part as a 'Mugwump' in a well-fought but
entirely unsuccessful campaign against Tammany Hall, might say: 'The
finer and more accurate the processes of political science become, the
less do they count in politics. Astronomers invent every year more
delicate methods of forecasting the movements of the stars, but cannot
with all their skill divert one star an inch from its course. So we
students of politics will find that our growing knowledge brings us only
a growing sense of helplessness. We may learn from our science to
estimate exactly the forces exerted by the syndicated newspaper press,
by the liquor saloons, or by the blind instincts of class and
nationality and race; but how can we learn to control them? The fact
that we think about these things in a new way will not win elections or
prevent wars.'

I propose, therefore, in this second part of my book to discuss how far
the new tendencies which are beginning to transform the science of
politics are likely also to make themselves felt as a new political
force. I shall try to estimate the probable influence of these
tendencies, not only on the student or the trained politician, but on
the ordinary citizen whom political science reaches only at second or
third hand; and, with that intention, shall treat in successive chapters
their relation to our ideals of political morality, to the form and
working of the representative and official machinery of the State, and
to the possibilities of international and inter-racial understanding.

This chapter deals from that point of view with their probable influence
on political morality. In using that term I do not mean to imply that
certain acts are moral when done from political motives which would not
be moral if done from other motives, or _vice versâ_, but to emphasise
the fact that there are certain ethical questions which can only be
studied in close connection with political science. There are, of
course, points of conduct which are common to all occupations. We must
all try to be kind, and honest, and industrious, and we expect the
general teachers of morals to help us to do so. But every occupation has
also its special problems, which must be stated by its own students
before they can be dealt with by the moralist at all.

In politics the most important of these special questions of conduct is
concerned with the relation between the process by which the politician
forms his own opinions and purposes, and that by which he influences the
opinions and purposes of others.

A hundred or even fifty years ago, those who worked for a democracy of
which they had had as yet no experience felt no misgivings on this point
They looked on reasoning, not as a difficult and uncertain process, but
as the necessary and automatic working of man's mind when faced by
problems affecting his interest. They assumed, therefore, that the
citizens under a democracy would necessarily be guided by reason in the
use of their votes, that those politicians would be most successful who
made their own conclusions and the grounds for them most clear to
others, and that good government would be secured if the voters had
sufficient opportunities of listening to free and sincere discussion.

A candidate to-day who comes fresh from his books to the platform almost
inevitably begins by making the same assumption.

He prepares his speeches and writes his address with the conviction that
on his demonstration of the relation between political causes and
effects will depend the result of the election. Perhaps his first shock
will come from that maxim which every professional agent repeats over
and over again to every candidate, 'Meetings are no good.' Those who
attend meetings are, he is told, in nine cases out of ten, already loyal
and habitual supporters of his party. If his speeches are logically
unanswerable the chief political importance of that fact is to be found,
not in his power of convincing those who are already convinced, but in
the greater enthusiasm and willingness to canvass which may be produced
among his supporters by their admiration of him as a speaker.

Later on he learns to estimate the way in which his address and that of
his opponent appeal to the constituents. He may, for instance, become
suddenly aware of the attitude of mind with which he himself opens the
envelopes containing other candidates addresses in some election (of
Poor Law Guardians, for instance), in which he is not specially
interested, and of the fact that his attention is either not aroused at
all, or is only aroused by words and phrases which recall some habitual
train of thought. By the time that he has become sufficiently confident
or important to draw up a political programme for himself, he
understands the limits within which any utterance must be confined that
is addressed to large numbers of voters--the fact that proposals are
only to be brought 'within the sphere of practical politics' which are
simple, striking, and carefully adapted to the half-conscious memories
and likes and dislikes of busy men.

All this means that his own power of political reasoning is being
trained. He is learning that every man differs from every other man in
his interests, his intellectual habits and powers, and his experience,
and that success in the control of political forces depends on a
recognition of this and a careful appreciation of the common factors of
human nature. But meanwhile it is increasingly difficult for him to
believe that he is appealing to the same process of reasoning in his
hearers as that by which he reaches his own conclusions. He tends, that
is to say, to think of the voters as the subject-matter rather than the
sharers of his thoughts. He, like Plato's sophist, is learning what the
public is, and is beginning to understand 'the passions and desires' of
that 'huge and powerful brute, how to approach and handle it, at what
times it becomes fiercest and most gentle, on what occasions it utters
its several cries, and what sounds made by others soothe or irritate
it.'[50] If he resolutely guards himself against the danger of passing
from one illusion to another, he may still remember that he is not the
only man in the constituency who has reasoned and is reasoning about
politics. If he does personal canvassing he may meet sometimes a
middle-aged working man, living nearer than himself to the facts of
life, and may find that this constituent of his has reasoned patiently
and deeply on politics for thirty years, and that he himself is a rather
absurd item in the material of that reasoning. Or he may talk with a
business man, and be forced to understand some one who sees perhaps more
clearly than himself the results of his proposals, but who is separated
from him by the gulf of a difference of desire: that which one hopes the
other fears.

[50] Plato, _Republic_, p. 493.

Yet however sincerely such a candidate may respect the process by which
the more thoughtful both of those who vote for him and of those who vote
against him reach their conclusions, he is still apt to feel that his
own part in the election has little to do with any reasoning process at
all. I remember that before my first election my most experienced
political friend said to me, 'Remember that you are undertaking a six
weeks' advertising campaign.' Time is short, there are innumerable
details to arrange, and the candidate soon returns from the rare
intervals of mental contact with individual electors to that advertising
campaign which deals with the electors as a whole. As long as he is so
engaged, the maxim that it is wrong to appeal to anything but the
severest process of logical thought in his constituents will seem to
him, if he has time to think of it, not so much untrue as irrelevant.

After a time the politician may cease even to desire to reason with his
constituents, and may come to regard them as purely irrational
creatures of feeling and opinion, and himself as the purely rational
'over-man' who controls them. It is at this point that a resolute and
able statesman may become most efficient and most dangerous.
Bolingbroke, while he was trying to teach his 'Patriot King' how to
govern men by understanding them, spoke in a haunting phrase of 'that
staring timid creature man.'[51] A century before Darwin he, like Swift
and Plato, was able by sheer intellectual detachment to see his
fellow-men as animals. He himself, he thought, was one of those few
'among the societies of men ... who engross almost the whole reason of
the species, who are born to instruct, to guide, and to preserve, who
are designed to be the tutors and the guardians of human kind.'[52] For
the rest, 'Reason has small effect upon numbers: a turn of imagination,
often as violent and as sudden as a gust of wind, determines their

[51] _Letters on the Spirit of Patriotism_, etc. (ed. of 1785), p. 70.

[52] _Ibid._, p. 2.

[53] _Ibid._, p. 165.

The greatest of Bolingbroke's disciples was Disraeli, who wrote, 'We are
not indebted to the Reason of man for any of the great achievements
which are the landmarks of human action and human progress.... Man is
only truly great when he acts from the passions; never irresistible but
when he appeals to the imagination. Even Mormon accounts more votaries
than Bentham.'[54] It was Disraeli who treated Queen Victoria 'like a
woman,' and Gladstone, with the Oxford training from which he never
fully recovered, who treated her 'like a public meeting.'

[54] _Coningsby_, ch. xiii.

In spite of Disraeli's essentially kindly spirit, his calculated play
upon the instincts of the nation which he governed seemed to many in his
time to introduce a cold and ruthless element into politics, which
seemed colder and more ruthless when it appeared in the less kindly
character of his disciple Lord Randolph Churchill. But the same
ruthlessness is often found now, and may perhaps be more often found in
the future, whenever any one is sufficiently concentrated on some
political end to break through all intellectual or ethical conventions
that stand in his way. I remember a long talk, a good many years ago,
with one of the leaders of the Russian terrorist movement. He said, 'It
is no use arguing with the peasants even if we were permitted to do so.
They are influenced by events not words. If we kill a Tzar, or a Grand
Duke, or a minister, our movement becomes something which exists and
counts with them, otherwise, as far as they are concerned, it does not
exist at all.'

In war, the vague political tradition that there is something unfair in
influencing the will of one's fellow-men otherwise than by argument
does not exist. This was what Napoleon meant when he said, 'À la
guerre, tout est moral, et le moral et l'opinion font plus de la
moitié de la réalité.'[55] And it is curious to observe that when men
are consciously or half-consciously determining to ignore that tradition
they drop into the language of warfare. Twenty years ago, the expression
'Class-war' was constantly used among English Socialists to justify the
proposal that a Socialist party should adopt those methods of
parliamentary terrorism (as opposed to parliamentary argument) which had
been invented by Parnell. When Lord Lansdowne in 1906 proposed to the
House of Lords that they should abandon any calculation of the good or
bad administrative effect of measures sent to them from the Liberal
House of Commons, and consider only the psychological effect of their
acceptance or rejection on the voters at the next general election, he
dropped at once into military metaphor. 'Let us' he said, 'be sure that
if we join issue we do so upon ground which is as favourable as possible
to ourselves. In this case I believe the ground would be unfavourable to
this House, and I believe the juncture is one when, even if we were to
win for the moment, our victory would be fruitless in the end.'[56]

[55] _Maximes de Guerre et Penseés de Napoleon Ier_ (Chapelot), p. 230.

[56] Hansard (Trades Disputes Bill, House of Lords, Dec. 4, 1906), p.

At first sight, therefore, it might appear that the change in political
science which is now going on will simply result in the abandonment by
the younger politicians of all ethical traditions, and the adoption by
them, as the result of their new book-learning, of those methods of
exploiting the irrational elements of human nature which have hitherto
been the trade secret of the elderly and the disillusioned.

I have been told, for instance, that among the little group of women who
in 1906 and 1907 brought the question of Women's Suffrage within the
sphere of practical politics, was one who had received a serious
academic training in psychology, and that the tactics actually employed
were in large part due to her plea that in order to make men think one
must begin by making them feel.[57]

[57] Mrs. Pankhurst is reported, in the _Observer_ of July 26, 1908, to
have said, 'Whatever the women who were called Suffragists might be,
they at least understood how to bring themselves in touch with the
public. They had caught the spirit of the age, learnt the art of

A Hindoo agitator, again, Mr. Chandra Pal, who also had read psychology,
imitated Lord Lansdowne a few months ago by saying, 'Applying the
principles of psychology to the consideration of political problems we
find it is necessary that we ... should do nothing that will make the
Government a power for us. Because if the Government becomes easy, if it
becomes pleasant, if it becomes good government, then our signs of
separation from it will be gradually lost.'[58] Mr. Chandra Pal, unlike
Lord Lansdowne, was shortly afterwards imprisoned, but his words have
had an important political effect in India.

[58] Quoted in _Times_, June 3, 1907.

If this mental attitude and the tactics based on it succeed, they must,
it may be argued, spread with constantly increasing rapidity; and just
as, by Gresham's Law in commerce, base coin, if there is enough of it,
must drive out sterling coin, so in politics, must the easier and more
immediately effective drive out the more difficult and less effective
method of appeal.

One cannot now answer such an argument by a mere statement that
knowledge will make men wise. It was easy in the old days to rely on the
belief that human life and conduct would become perfect if men only
learnt to know themselves. Before Darwin, most political speculators
used to sketch a perfect polity which would result from the complete
adoption of their principles, the republics of Plato and of More,
Bacon's Atlantis, Locke's plea for a government which should consciously
realise the purposes of God, or Bentham's Utilitarian State securely
founded upon the Table of the Springs of Action. We, however, who live
after Darwin, have learnt the hard lesson that we must not expect
knowledge, however full, to lead us to perfection. The modern student of
physiology believes that if his work is successful, men may have better
health than they would have if they were more ignorant, but he does not
dream of producing a perfectly healthy nation; and he is always prepared
to face the discovery that biological causes which he cannot control
may be tending to make health worse. Nor does the writer on education
now argue that he can make perfect characters in his schools. If our
imaginations ever start on the old road to Utopia, we are checked by
remembering that we are blood-relations of the other animals, and that
we have no more right than our kinsfolk to suppose that the mind of the
universe has contrived that we can find a perfect life by looking for
it. The bees might to-morrow become conscious of their own nature, and
of the waste of life and toil which goes on in the best ordered hive.
And yet they might learn that no greatly improved organisation was
possible for creatures hampered by such limited powers of observation
and inference, and enslaved by such furious passions. They might be
forced to recognise that as long as they were bees their life must
remain bewildered and violent and short. Political inquiry deals with
man as he now is, and with the changes in the organisation of his life
that can be made during the next few centuries. It may be that some
scores of generations hence, we shall have discovered that the
improvements in government which can be brought about by such inquiry,
are insignificant when compared with the changes which will be made
possible when, through the hazardous experiment of selective breeding,
we have altered the human type itself.

But however anxious we are to see the facts of our existence without
illusion, and to hope nothing without cause, we can still draw some
measure of comfort from the recollection that during the few thousand
years through which we can trace political history in the past, man,
without changing his nature, has made enormous improvements in his
polity, and that those improvements have often been the result of new
moral ideals formed under the influence of new knowledge.

The ultimate and wider effect on our conduct of any increase in our
knowledge may indeed be very different from, and more important than,
its immediate and narrower effect. We each of us live our lives in a
pictured universe, of which only a small part is contributed by our own
observation and memory, and by far the greater part by what we have
learnt from others. The changes in that mental picture of our
environment made for instance by the discovery of America, or the
ascertainment of the true movements of the nearer heavenly bodies,
exercised an influence on men's general conception of their place in the
universe, which proved ultimately to be more important than their
immediate effect in stimulating explorers and improving the art of
navigation. But none of the changes of outlook in the past have
approached in their extent and significance those which have been in
progress during the last fifty years, the new history of man and his
surroundings, stretching back through hitherto unthought-of ages, the
substitution of an illimitable vista of ever changing worlds for the
imagined perfection of the ordered heavens, and above all the intrusion
of science into the most intimate regions of ourselves. The effects of
such changes often come, it is true, more slowly than we hope. I was
talking not long ago to one of the ablest of those who were beginning
their intellectual life when Darwin published the _Origin of Species_.
He told me how he and his philosopher brother expected that at once all
things should become new, and how unwillingly as the years went on they
had accepted their disappointment. But though slow, they are

To myself it seems that the most important political result of the vast
range of new knowledge started by Darwin's work may prove to be the
extension of the idea of conduct so as to include the control of mental
processes of which at present most men are either unconscious or
unobservant. The limits of our conscious conduct are fixed by the limits
of our self-knowledge. Before men knew anger as something separable from
the self that knew it, and before they had made that knowledge current
by the invention of a name, the control of anger was not a question of
conduct. Anger was a part of the angry man himself, and could only be
checked by the invasion of some other passion, love, for instance, or
fear, which was equally, while it lasted, a part of self. The man
survived to continue his race if anger or fear or love came upon him at
the right time, and with the right intensity. But when man had named his
anger, and could stand outside it in thought, anger came within the
region of conduct, Henceforth, in that respect, man could choose either
the old way of half-conscious obedience to an impulse which on the whole
had proved useful in his past evolution, or the new way of fully
conscious control directed by a calculation of results.

A man who has become conscious of the nature of fear, and has acquired
the power of controlling it, if he sees a boulder bounding towards him
down a torrent bed, may either obey the immediate impulse to leap to one
side, or may substitute conduct for instinct, and stand where he is
because he has calculated that at the next bound the course of the
boulder will be deflected. If he decides to stand he may be wrong. It
may prove by the event that the immediate impulse of fear was, owing to
the imperfection of his powers of conscious inference, a safer guide
than the process of calculation. But because he has the choice, even the
decision to follow impulse is a question of conduct. Burke was sincerely
convinced that men's power of political reasoning was so utterly
inadequate to their task, that all his life long he urged the English
nation to follow prescription, to obey, that is to say, on principle
their habitual political impulses. But the deliberate following of
prescription which Burke advocated was something different, because it
was the result of choice, from the uncalculated loyalty of the past.
Those who have eaten of the tree of knowledge cannot forget.

In other matters than politics the influence of the fruit of that tree
is now spreading further over our lives. Whether we will or not, the old
unthinking obedience to appetite in eating is more and more affected by
our knowledge, imperfect though that be, of the physiological results of
the quantity and kind of our food. Mr. Chesterton cries out, like the
Cyclops in the play, against those who complicate the life of man, and
tells us to eat 'caviare on impulse,' instead of 'grape nuts on
principle.'[59] But since we cannot unlearn our knowledge, Mr. Chesterton
is only telling us to eat caviare on principle. The physician, when he
knows the part which mental suggestion plays in the cure of disease, may
hate and fear his knowledge, but he cannot divest himself of it. He
finds himself watching the unintended effects of his words and tones and
gestures, until he realises that in spite of himself he is calculating
the means by which such effects can be produced. After a time, even his
patients may learn to watch the effect of 'a good bedside manner' on

[59] _Heretics_, 1905, p. 136.

So in politics, now that knowledge of the obscurer impulses of mankind
is being spread (if only by the currency of new words), the relation
both of the politician and the voter to those impulses is changing. As
soon as American politicians called a certain kind of specially paid
orator a 'spell-binder,' the word penetrated through the newspapers from
politicians to audiences. The man who knows that he has paid two dollars
to sit in a hall and be 'spell-bound,' feels, it is true, the old
sensations, but feels them with a subtle and irrevocable difference. The
English newspaper reader who has once heard the word 'sensational,' may
try to submit every morning the innermost sanctuary of his consciousness
to the trained psychologists of the halfpenny journals. He may,
according to the suggestion of the day, loathe the sixty million crafty
scoundrels who inhabit the German Empire, shudder at a coming comet,
pity the cowards on the Government Front Bench, or tremble lest a
pantomime lady should throw up her part. But he cannot help the
existence in the background of his consciousness of a self which
watches, and, perhaps, is a little ashamed of his 'sensations.' Even the
rapidly growing psychological complexity of modern novels and plays
helps to complicate the relation of the men of our time to their
emotional impulses. The young tradesman who has been reading either
_Evan Harrington_, or a novel by some writer who has read _Evan
Harrington_, goes to shake hands with a countess at an entertainment
given by the Primrose League, or the Liberal Social Council, conscious
of pleasure, but to some degree critical of his pleasure. His father,
who read _John Halifax, Gentleman_, would have been carried away by a
tenth part of the condescension which is necessary in the case of the
son. A voter who has seen _John Bull's Other Island_ at the theatre, is
more likely than his father, who only saw _The Shaughraun_, to realise
that one's feelings on the Irish question can be thought about as well
as felt.

In so far as this change extends, the politician may find in the future
that an increasing proportion of his constituents half-consciously 'see
through' the cruder arts of emotional exploitation.

But such an unconscious or half-conscious extension of self-knowledge is
not likely of itself to keep pace with the parallel development of the
political art of controlling impulse. The tendency, if it is to be
effective, must be strengthened by the deliberate adoption and
inculcation of new moral and intellectual conceptions--new ideal
entities to which our affections and desires may attach themselves.

'Science' has been such an entity ever since Francis Bacon found again,
without knowing it, the path of Aristotle's best thought. The conception
of 'Science,' of scientific method and the scientific spirit, was built
up in successive generations by a few students. At first their
conception was confined to themselves. Its effects were seen in the
discoveries which they actually made; but to the mass of mankind they
seemed little better than magicians. Now it has spread to the whole
world. In every class-room and laboratory in Europe and America the
conscious idea of Science forms the minds and wills of thousands of men
and women who could never have helped to create it. It has penetrated,
as the political conceptions of Liberty or of Natural Right never
penetrated, to non-European races. Arab engineers in Khartoum, doctors
and nurses and generals in the Japanese army, Hindoo and Chinese
students make of their whole lives an intense activity inspired by
absolute submission to Science, and not only English or American or
German town working men, but villagers in Italy or Argentina are
learning to respect the authority and sympathise with the methods of
that organised study which may double at any moment the produce of their
crops or check a plague among their cattle.

'Science,' however, is associated by most men, even in Europe, only with
things exterior to themselves, things that can be examined by test-tubes
and microscopes. They are dimly aware that there exists a science of the
mind, but that knowledge suggests to them, as yet, no ideal of conduct.

It is true that in America, where politicians have learnt more
successfully than elsewhere the art of controlling other men's
unconscious impulses from without, there have been of late some
noteworthy declarations as to the need of conscious control from
within. Some of those especially who have been trained in scientific
method at the American Universities are now attempting to extend to
politics the scientific conception of intellectual conduct. But it seems
to me that much of their preaching misses its mark, because it takes the
old form of an opposition between 'reason' and 'passion.' The President
of the University of Yale said, for instance, the other day in a
powerful address, 'Every man who publishes a newspaper which appeals to
the emotions rather than to the intelligence of its readers ... attacks
our political life at a most vulnerable point.'[60] If forty years ago
Huxley had in this way merely preached 'intelligence' as against
'emotion' in the exploration of nature, few would have listened to him.
Men will not take up the 'intolerable disease of thought' unless their
feelings are first stirred, and the strength of the idea of Science has
been that it does touch men's feelings, and draws motive power for
thought from the passions of reverence, of curiosity, and of limitless

[60] A. T. Hadley in _Munsey's Magazine_, 1907.

The President of Yale seems to imply that in order to reason men must
become passionless. He would have done better to have gone back to that
section of the Republic where Plato teaches that the supreme purpose of
the State realises itself in men's hearts by a 'harmony' which
strengthens the motive force of passion, because the separate passions
no longer war among themselves, but are concentrated on an end
discovered by the intellect.[61]

[61] Cf. Plato's _Republic_, Book IV.

In politics, indeed, the preaching of reason as opposed to feeling is
peculiarly ineffective, because the feelings of mankind not only provide
a motive for political thought but also fix the scale of values which
must be used in political judgment. One finds oneself when trying to
realise this, falling back (perhaps because one gets so little help from
current language) upon Plato's favourite metaphor of the arts. In music
the noble and the base composer are not divided by the fact that the one
appeals to the intellect and the other to the feelings of his hearers.
Both must make their appeal to feeling, and both must therefore realise
intensely the feelings of their audience, and stimulate intensely their
own feelings. The conditions under which they succeed or fail are fixed,
for both, by facts in our emotional nature which they cannot change.
One, however, appeals by easy tricks to part only of the nature of his
hearers, while the other appeals to their whole nature, requiring of
those who would follow him that for the time their intellect should sit
enthroned among the strengthened and purified passions.

But what, besides mere preaching, can be done to spread the conception
of such a harmony of reason and passion, of thought and impulse, in
political motive? One thinks of education, and particularly of
scientific education. But the imaginative range which is necessary if
students are to transfer the conception of intellectual conduct from the
laboratory to the public meeting is not common. It would perhaps more
often exist if part of all scientific education were given to such a
study of the lives of scientific men as would reveal their mental
history as well as their discoveries, if, for instance, the young
biologist were set to read the correspondence between Darwin and Lyell,
when Lyell was preparing to abandon the conclusions on which his great
reputation was based, and suspending his deepest religious convictions,
in the cause of a truth not yet made clear.

But most school children, if they are to learn the facts on which the
conception of intellectual conduct depends, must learn them even more
directly. I myself believe that a very simple course on the
well-ascertained facts of psychology would, if patiently taught, be
quite intelligible to any children of thirteen or fourteen who had
received some small preliminary training in scientific method. Mr.
William James's chapter on Habit in his _Principles of Psychology_
would, for instance, if the language were somewhat simplified, come well
within their range. A town child, again, lives nowadays in the constant
presence of the psychological art of advertisement, and could easily be
made to understand the reason why, when he is sent to get a bar of
soap, he feels inclined to get that which is most widely advertised, and
what relation his inclination has to that mental process which is most
likely to result in the buying of good soap. The basis of knowledge
necessary for the conception of intellectual duty could further be
enlarged at school by the study in pure literature of the deeper
experiences of the mind. A child of twelve might understand Carlyle's
_Essay on Burns_ if it were carefully read in class, and a good sixth
form might learn much from Wordsworth's _Prelude_.

The whole question, however, of such deliberate instruction in the
emotional and intellectual facts of man's nature as may lead men to
conceive of the co-ordination of reason and passion as a moral ideal is
one on which much steady thinking and observation is still required. The
instincts of sex, for instance, are becoming in all civilised countries
more and more the subject of serious thought. Conduct based upon a
calculation of results is in that sphere claiming to an ever increasing
degree control over mere impulse. Yet no one is sure that he has found
the way to teach the barest facts as to sexual instinct either before or
during the period of puberty, without prematurely exciting the instincts

Doctors, again, are more and more recognising that nutrition depends not
only upon the chemical composition of food but upon our appetite, and
that we can become aware of our appetite and to some extent control and
direct it by our will. Sir William Macewen said not long ago, 'We cannot
properly digest our food unless we give it a warm welcome from a free
mind with the prospect of enjoyment.'[62] But it would not be easy to
create by teaching that co-ordination of the intellect and impulse at
which Sir William Macewen hints. If you tell a boy that one reason why
food is wholesome is because we like it, and that it is therefore our
duty to like that food which other facts of our nature have made both
wholesome and likeable, you may find yourself stimulating nothing except
his sense of humour.

[62] _British Medical Journal_, Oct. 8, 1904.

So, in the case of the political emotions, it is very easy to say that
the teacher should aim first at making his pupils conscious of the
existence of those emotions, then at increasing their force, and finally
at subordinating them to the control of deliberate reasoning on the
consequences of political action. But it is extraordinarily difficult to
discover how this can be done under the actual conditions of school
teaching. Mr. Acland, when he was Education Minister in 1893, introduced
into the Evening School Code a syllabus of instruction on the Life and
Duties of the Citizen. It consisted of statements of the part played in
social life by the rate-collector, the policeman, and so on,
accompanied by a moral for each section, such as 'serving personal
interest is not enough,' 'need of public spirit and intelligence for
good Government,' 'need of honesty in giving a vote,' 'the vote a trust
as well as a right.' Almost every school publisher rushed out a
text-book on the subject, and many School Boards encouraged its
introduction; and yet the experiment, after a careful trial, was an
acknowledged failure. The new text-books (all of which I had at the time
to review), constituted perhaps the most worthless collection of printed
pages that have ever occupied the same space on a bookshelf, and the
lessons, with their alternations of instruction and edification, failed
to stimulate any kind of interest in the students. If our youths and
maidens are to be stirred as deeply by the conception of the State as
were the pupils of Socrates, teachers and the writers of text-books must
apparently approach their task with something of Socrates' passionate
love of truth and of the searching courage of his dialectic.

If again, at an earlier age, children still in school are to be taught
what Mr. Wells calls 'the sense of the State,'[63] we may, by remembering
Athens, get some indication of the conditions on which success depends.
Children will not learn to love London while getting figures by heart as
to the millions of her inhabitants and the miles of her sewers. If their
love is to be roused by words, the words must be as beautiful and as
simple as the chorus in praise of Athens in the _Oedipus Coloneus_. But
such words are not written except by great poets who actually feel what
they write, and perhaps before we have a poet who loves London as
Sophocles loved Athens it may be necessary to make London itself
somewhat more lovely.

[63] _The future in America_, chapter ix.

The emotions of children are, however, most easily reached not by words
but by sights and sounds. If therefore, they are to love the State, they
should either be taken to see the noblest aspects of the State or those
aspects should be brought to them. And a public building or ceremony, if
it is to impress the unflinching eyes of childhood, must, like the
buildings of Ypres or Bruges or the ceremonies of Japan, be in truth
impressive. The beautiful aspect of social life is fortunately not to be
found in buildings and ceremonies only, and no Winchester boy used to
come back uninfluenced from a visit to Father Dolling in the slums of
Landport; though boys' eyes are even quicker to see what is genuine in
personal motive than in external pomp.

More subtle are the difficulties in the way of the deliberate
intensification by adult politicians of their own political emotions. A
life-long worker for education on the London School Board once told me
that when he wearied of his work--when the words of reports become mere
words, and the figures in the returns mere figures--he used to go down
to a school and look closely at the faces of the children in class after
class, till the freshness of his impulse came back. But for a man who is
about to try such an experiment on himself even the word 'emotion' is
dangerous. The worker in full work should desire cold and steady not hot
and disturbed impulse, and should perhaps keep the emotional stimulus of
his energy, when it is once formed, for the most part below the level of
full consciousness. The surgeon in a hospital is stimulated by every
sight and sound in the long rows of beds, and would be less devoted to
his work if he only saw a few patients brought to his house. But all
that he is conscious of during the working hours is the one purpose of
healing, on which the half-conscious impulses of brain and eye and hand
are harmoniously concentrated.

Perhaps indeed most adult politicians would gain rather by becoming
conscious of new vices than of new virtues. Some day, for instance, the
word 'opinion' itself may become the recognised name of the most
dangerous political vice. Men may teach themselves by habit and
association to suspect those inclinations and beliefs which, if they
neglect the duty of thought, appear in their minds they know not how,
and which, as long as their origin is not examined, can be created by
any clever organiser who is paid to do so. The most easily manipulated
State in the world would be one inhabited by a race of Nonconformist
business men who never followed up a train of political reasoning in
their lives, and who, as soon as they were aware of the existence of a
strong political conviction in their minds, should announce that it was
a matter of 'conscience' and therefore beyond the province of doubt or

But, it may be still asked, is it not Utopian to suppose that Plato's
conception of the Harmony of the Soul--the intensification both of
passion and of thought by their conscious co-ordination--can ever become
a part of the general political ideals of a modern nation? Perhaps most
men before the war between Russia and Japan would have answered, Yes.
Many men would now answer, No. The Japanese are apparently in some
respects less advanced in their conceptions of intellectual morality
than, say, the French. One hears, for instance, of incidents which seem
to show that liberty of thought is not always valued in Japanese
universities. But both during the years of preparation for the war, and
during the war itself, there was something in what one was told of the
combined emotional and intellectual attitude of the Japanese, which to a
European seemed wholly new. Napoleon contended against the 'idéologues'
who saw things as they wished them to be, and until he himself submitted
to his own illusions he ground them to powder. But we associate
Napoleon's clearness of vision with personal selfishness. Here was a
nation in which every private soldier outdid Napoleon in his
determination to see in warfare not great principles nor picturesque
traditions, but hard facts; and yet the fire of their patriotism was
hotter than Gambetta's. Something of this may have been due to the
inherited organisation of the Japanese race, but more seemed to be the
effect of their mental environment. They had whole-heartedly welcomed
that conception of Science which in Europe, where it was first
elaborated, still struggles with older ideals. Science with them had
allied, and indeed identified, itself with that idea of natural law
which, since they learnt it through China from Hindustan, had always
underlain their various religions.[64] They had acquired, therefore, a
mental outlook which was determinist without being fatalist, and which
combined the most absolute submission to Nature with untiring energy in
thought and action.

[64] See Okakura, _The Japanese Spirit_ (1905).

One would like to hope that in the West a similar fusion might take
place between the emotional and philosophical traditions of religion,
and the new conception of intellectual duty introduced by Science. The
political effect of such a fusion would be enormous. But for the moment
that hope is not easy. The inevitable conflict between old faith and new
knowledge has produced, one fears, throughout Christendom, a division
not only between the conclusions of religion and science, but also
between the religious and the scientific habit of mind. The scientific
men of to-day no longer dream of learning from an English Bishop, as
their predecessors learnt from Bishop Butler, the doctrine of
probability in conduct, the rule that while belief must never be fixed,
must indeed always be kept open for the least indication of new
evidence, action, where action is necessary, must be taken as resolutely
on imperfect knowledge, if that is the best available, as on the most
perfect demonstration. The policy of the last Vatican Encyclical will
leave few Abbots who are likely to work out, as Abbot Mendel worked out
in long years of patient observation, a new biological basis for organic
evolution. Mental habits count for more in politics than do the
acceptance or rejection of creeds or evidences. When an English
clergyman sits at his breakfast-table reading his _Times_ or _Mail_, his
attitude towards the news of the day is conditioned not by his belief or
doubt that he who uttered certain commandments about non-resistance and
poverty was God Himself, but by the degree to which he has been trained
to watch the causation of his opinions. As it is, Dr. Jameson's prepared
manifesto on the Johannesburg Raid stirred most clergymen like a
trumpet, and the suggestion that the latest socialist member of
Parliament is not a gentleman, produces in them a feeling of genuine
disgust and despair.

It may be therefore that the effective influence in politics of new
ideals of intellectual conduct will have to wait for a still wider
change of mental attitude, touching our life on many sides. Some day the
conception of a harmony of thought and passion may take the place, in
the deepest regions of our moral consciousness, of our present dreary
confusion and barren conflicts. If that day comes much in politics which
is now impossible will become possible. The politician will be able not
only to control and direct in himself the impulses of whose nature he is
more fully aware, but to assume in his hearers an understanding of his
aim. Ministers and Members of Parliament may then find their most
effective form of expression in that grave simplicity of speech which in
the best Japanese State papers rings so strangely to our ears, and
citizens may learn to look to their representatives, as the Japanese
army looked to their generals, for that unbought effort of the mind by
which alone man becomes at once the servant and the master of nature.



But our growing knowledge of the causation of political impulse, and of
the conditions of valid political reasoning, may be expected to change
not only our ideals of political conduct but also the structure of our
political institutions.

I have already pointed out that the democratic movement which produced
the constitutions under which most civilised nations now live, was
inspired by a purely intellectual conception of human nature which is
becoming every year more unreal to us. If, it may then be asked,
representative democracy was introduced under a mistaken view of the
conditions of its working, will not its introduction prove to have been
itself a mistake?

Any defender of representative democracy who rejects the traditional
democratic philosophy can only answer this question by starting again
from the beginning, and considering what are the ends representation is
intended to secure, and how far those ends are necessary to good

The first end may be roughly indicated by the word consent. The essence
of a representative government is that it depends on the periodically
renewed consent of a considerable proportion of the inhabitants; and the
degree of consent required may shade from the mere acceptance of
accomplished facts, to the announcement of positive decisions taken by a
majority of the citizens, which the government must interpret and obey.

The question, therefore, whether our adoption of representative
democracy was a mistake, raises the preliminary question whether the
consent of the members of a community is a necessary condition of good
government. To this question Plato, who among the political philosophers
of the ancient world stood at a point of view nearest to that of a
modern psychologist, unhesitatingly answered, No. To him it was
incredible that any stable polity could be based upon the mere fleeting
shadows of popular opinion. He proposed, therefore, in all seriousness,
that the citizens of his Republic should live under the despotic
government of those who by 'slaving for it'[65] had acquired a knowledge
of the reality which lay behind appearance. Comte, writing when modern
science was beginning to feel its strength, made, in effect, the same
proposal. Mr. H.G. Wells, in one of his sincere and courageous
speculations, follows Plato. He describes a Utopia which is the result
of the forcible overthrow of representative government by a voluntary
aristocracy of trained men of science. He appeals, in a phrase
consciously influenced by Plato's metaphysics, to 'the idea of a
comprehensive movement of disillusioned and illuminated men behind the
shams and patriotisms, the spites and personalities of the ostensible
world....'[66] There are some signs, in America as well as in England,
that an increasing number of those thinkers who are both passionately in
earnest in their desire for social change and disappointed in their
experience of democracy, may, as an alternative to the cold-blooded
manipulation of popular impulse and thought by professional politicians,
turn 'back to Plato'; and when once this question is started, neither
our existing mental habits nor our loyalty to democratic tradition will
prevent it from being fully discussed.

[65] [Greek: douleusanti tê ktêsei autou] (_Republic,_ p. 494).

[66] Wells, _A Modern Utopia_, p. 263. 'I know of no case for the
elective Democratic government of modern States that cannot be knocked
to pieces in five minutes. It is manifest that upon countless important
public issues there is no collective will, and nothing in the mind of
the average man except blank indifference; that an electional system
simply places power in the hands of the most skilful electioneers....'
Wells, _Anticipations_, p. 147.

To such a discussion we English, as the rulers of India, can bring an
experience of government without consent larger than any other that has
ever been tried under the conditions of modern civilisation. The
Covenanted Civil Service of British India consists of a body of about a
thousand trained men. They are selected under a system which ensures
that practically all of them will not only possess exceptional mental
force, but will also belong to a race, which, in spite of certain
intellectual limitations, is strong in the special faculty of
government; and they are set to rule, under a system approaching
despotism, a continent in which the most numerous races, in spite of
their intellectual subtlety, have given little evidence of ability to

Our Indian experiment shows, however, that all men, however carefully
selected and trained, must still inhabit 'the ostensible world.' The
Anglo-Indian civilian during some of his working hours--when he is
toiling at a scheme of irrigation, or forestry, or
famine-prevention--may live in an atmosphere of impersonal science which
is far removed from the jealousies and superstitions of the villagers in
his district. But an absolute ruler is judged not merely by his
efficiency in choosing political means, but also by that outlook on life
which decides his choice of ends; and the Anglo-Indian outlook on life
is conditioned, not by the problem of British India as history will see
it a thousand years hence, but by the facts of daily existence in the
little government stations, with their trying climates, their narrow
society, and the continual presence of an alien and possibly hostile
race. We have not, it is true, yet followed the full rigour of Plato's
system, and chosen the wives of Anglo-Indian officials by the same
process as that through which their husbands pass. But it may be feared
that even if we did so, the lady would still remain typical who said to
Mr. Nevinson, 'To us in India a pro-native is simply a rank

[67] _The Nation_, December 21, 1907.

What is even more important is the fact that, because those whom the
Anglo-Indian civilian governs are also living in the ostensible world,
his choice of means on all questions involving popular opinion depends
even more completely than if he were a party politician at home, not on
things as they are, but on things as they can be made to seem. The
avowed tactics of our empire in the East have therefore always been
based by many of our high officials upon psychological and not upon
logical considerations. We hold Durbars, and issue Proclamations, we
blow men from guns, and insist stiffly on our own interpretation of our
rights in dealing with neighbouring Powers, all with reference to 'the
moral effect upon the native mind.' And, if half what is hinted at by
some ultra-imperialist writers and talkers is true, racial and religious
antipathy between Hindus and Mohammedans is sometimes welcomed, if not
encouraged, by those who feel themselves bound at all costs to maintain
our dominant position.

The problem of the relation between reason and opinion is therefore one
that would exist at least equally in Plato's corporate despotism as in
the most complete democracy. Hume, in a penetrating passage in his essay
on _The First Principles of Government_, says: 'It is ... on opinion
only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most
despotic and most military governments as well as to the most free and
the most popular.'[68] It is when a Czar or a bureaucracy find themselves
forced to govern in opposition to a vague national feeling, which may at
any moment create an overwhelming national purpose, that the facts of
man's sublogical nature are most ruthlessly exploited. The autocrat then
becomes the most unscrupulous of demagogues, and stirs up racial, or
religious, or social hatred, or the lust for foreign war, with less
scruple than does the proprietor of the worst newspaper in a democratic

[68] Hume's _Essays_, chap. iv.

Plato, with his usual boldness, faced this difficulty, and proposed that
the loyalty of the subject-classes in his Republic should be secured
once for all by religious faith. His rulers were to establish and teach
a religion in which they need not believe. They were to tell their
people 'one magnificent lie';[69] a remedy which in its ultimate effect
on the character of their rule might have been worse than the disease
which it was intended to cure.

[69] [Greek: gennaión ti èn pseudoménous] (_Republic_, p. 414).

But even if it is admitted that government without consent is a
complicated and ugly process, it does not follow either that government
by consent is always possible, or that the machinery of parliamentary
representation is the only possible, or always the best possible, method
of securing consent.

Government by a chief who is obeyed from custom, and who is himself
restrained by custom from mere tyranny, may at certain stages of culture
be better than anything else which can be substituted for it. And
representation, even when it is possible, is not an unchanging entity,
but an expedient capable of an infinite number of variations. In England
at this moment we give the vote for a sovereign parliament to persons of
the male sex above twenty-one years of age, who have occupied the same
place of residence for a year; and enrol them for voting purposes in
constituencies based upon locality. But in all these respects, age, sex,
qualification, and constituency, as well as in the political power given
to the representative, variation is possible.

If, indeed, there should appear a modern Bentham, trained not by
Fénelon and Helvétius, but by the study of racial psychology, he could
not use his genius and patience better than in the invention of
constitutional expedients which should provide for a real degree of
government by consent in those parts of the British Empire where men are
capable of thinking for themselves on political questions, but where
the machinery of British parliamentary government would not work. In
Egypt, for instance, one is told that at elections held in ordinary
local constituencies only two per cent, of those entitled to vote go to
the poll.[70] As long as that is the case representative government is
impossible. A slow process of education might increase the proportion of
voters, but meanwhile it would surely be possible for men, who
understand the way in which Egyptians or Arabs think and feel, to
discover other methods by which the vague desires of the native
population can be ascertained, and the policy of the government made in
some measure to depend on them.

[70] _Times_, January 6, 1908.

The need for invention is even more urgent in India, and that fact is
apparently being realised by the Indian Government itself. The inventive
range of Lord Morley and his advisers does not, however, for the moment
appear to extend much beyond the adaptation of the model of the English
House of Lords to Indian conditions, and the organisation of an
'advisory Council of Notables';[71] with the possible result that we may
be advised by the hereditary rent-collectors of Bengal in our dealings
with the tillers of the soil, and by the factory owners of Bombay in our
regulation of factory labour.

[71] Mr. Morley in the House of Commons. Hansard, June 6, 1907, p. 885.

In England itself, though great political inventions are always a
glorious possibility, the changes in our political structure which will
result from our new knowledge are likely, in our own time, to proceed
along lines laid down by slowly acting, and already recognisable

A series of laws have, for instance, been passed in the United Kingdom
during the last thirty or forty years, each of which had little
conscious connection with the rest, but which, when seen as a whole,
show that government now tends to regulate, not only the process of
ascertaining the decision of the electors, but also the more complex
process by which that decision is formed; and that this is done not in
the interest of any particular body of opinion, but from a belief in the
general utility of right methods of thought, and the possibility of
securing them by regulation.

The nature of this change may perhaps be best understood by comparing it
with the similar but earlier and far more complete change that has taken
place in the conditions under which that decision is formed which is
expressed in the verdict of a jury. Trial by jury was, in its origin,
simply a method of ascertaining, from ordinary men whose veracity was
secured by religious sanctions, their real opinions on each case.[72] The
various ways in which those opinions might have been formed were matters
beyond the cognisance of the royal official who called the jury
together, swore them, and registered their verdict. Trial by jury in
England might therefore have developed on the same lines as it did in
Athens, and have perished from the same causes. The number of the jury
might have been increased, and the parties in the case might have hired
advocates to write or deliver for them addresses containing distortions
of fact and appeals to prejudice as audacious as those in the _Private
Orations_ of Demosthenes. It might have become more important that the
witnesses should burst into passionate weeping than that they should
tell what they knew, and the final verdict might have been taken by a
show of hands, in a crowd that was rapidly degenerating into a mob. If
such an institution had lasted up to our time, the newspapers would have
taken sides in every important case. Each would have had its own version
of the facts, the most telling points of which would have been reserved
for the final edition on the eve of the verdict, and the fate of the
prisoner or defendant would often have depended upon a strictly party

[72] See, _e.g._, Stephen, _History of the Criminal Law_, vol. i. pp.

But in the English jury trial it has come to be assumed, after a long
series of imperceptible and forgotten changes, that the opinion of the
jurors, instead of being formed before the trial begins, should be
formed in court. The process, therefore, by which that opinion is
produced has been more and more completely controlled and developed,
until it, and not the mere registration of the verdict, has become the
essential feature of the trial.

The jury are now separated from their fellow-men during the whole case.
They are introduced into a world of new emotional values. The ritual of
the court, the voices and dress of judge and counsel, all suggest an
environment in which the petty interests and impulses of ordinary life
are unimportant when compared with the supreme worth of truth and
justice. They are warned to empty their minds of all preconceived
inferences and affections. The examination and cross-examination of the
witnesses are carried on under rules of evidence which are the result of
centuries of experience, and which give many a man as he sits on a jury
his first lesson in the fallibility of the unobserved and uncontrolled
inferences of the human brain. The 'said I's,' and 'thought I's,' and
'said he's,' which are the material of his ordinary reasoning, are here
banished on the ground that they are 'not evidence,' and witnesses are
compelled to give a simple account of their remembered sensations of
sight and hearing.

The witnesses for the prosecution and the defence, if they are
well-intentioned men, often find themselves giving, to their own
surprise, perfectly consistent accounts of the events at issue. The
barristers' tricks of advocacy are to some extent restrained by
professional custom and by the authority of the judge, and they are
careful to point out to the jury each other's fallacies. Newspapers do
not reach the jury box, and in any case are prevented by the law as to
contempt of court from commenting on a case which is under trial. The
judge sums up, carefully describing the conditions of valid inference on
questions of disputed fact, and warning the jury against those forms of
irrational and unconscious inference to which experience has shown them
to be most liable. They then retire, all carrying in their minds the
same body of simplified and dissected evidence, and all having been
urged with every circumstance of solemnity to form their conclusions by
the same mental process. It constantly happens therefore that twelve
men, selected by lot, will come to a unanimous verdict as to a question
on which in the outside world they would have been hopelessly divided,
and that that verdict, which may depend upon questions of fact so
difficult as to leave the practised intellect of the judge undecided,
will very generally be right. An English law court is indeed during a
well-governed jury trial a laboratory in which psychological rules of
valid reasoning are illustrated by experiment; and when, as threatens to
occur in some American States and cities, it becomes impossible to
enforce those rules, the jury system itself breaks down.[73]

[73] On the jury system see Mr. Wells's _Mankind in the Making_, chapter
vii. He suggests the use of juries in many administrative cases where it
is desirable that government should be supported by popular consent.

At the same time, trial by jury is now used with a certain degree of
economy, both because it is slow and expensive, and because men do not
make good jurors if they are called upon too often. In order that
popular consent may support criminal justice, and that the law may not
be unfairly used to protect the interests or policy of a governing class
or person, no man, in most civilised countries, may be sentenced to
death or to a long period of imprisonment, except after the verdict of a
jury. But the overwhelming majority of other judicial decisions are now
taken by men selected not by lot, but, in theory at least, by special
fitness for their task.

In the light of this development of the jury trial we may now examine
the tentative changes which, since the Reform Act of 1867, have been
introduced into the law of elections in the United Kingdom. Long before
that date, it had been admitted that the State ought not to stretch the
principle of individual liberty so far as to remain wholly indifferent
as to the kind of motives which candidates might bring to bear upon
electors. It was obvious that if candidates were allowed to practise
open bribery the whole system of representation would break down at
once. Laws, therefore, against bribery had been for several generations
on the statute books, and all that was required in that respect was the
serious attempt, made after the scandals at the general election of
1880, to render them effective. But without entering into definite
bargains with individual voters, a rich candidate can by lavish
expenditure on his electoral campaign, both make himself personally
popular, and create an impression that his connection with the
constituency is good for trade. The Corrupt Practices Act of 1883
therefore fixed a maximum of expenditure for each candidate at a
parliamentary election. By the same Act of 1883, and by earlier and
later Acts, applying both to parliamentary and municipal elections,
intimidation of all kinds, including the threatening of penalties after
death, is forbidden. No badges or flags or bands of music may be paid
for by, or on behalf of, a candidate. In order that political opinion
may not be influenced by thoughts of the simpler bodily pleasures, no
election meeting may be held in a building where any form of food or
drink is habitually sold, although that building may be only a
Co-operative Hall with facilities for making tea in an ante-room.

The existing laws against Corrupt Practices represent, it is true,
rather the growing purpose of the State to control the conditions under
which electoral opinion is formed, than any large measure of success in
carrying out that purpose. A rapidly increasing proportion of the
expenditure at any English election is now incurred by bodies enrolled
outside the constituency, and nominally engaged, not in winning the
election for a particular candidate, but in propagating their own
principles. Sometimes the candidate whom they support, and whom they try
to commit as deeply as possible, would be greatly relieved if they
withdrew. Generally their agents are an integral part of his fighting
organisation, and often the whole of their expenditure at an election is
covered by a special subscription made by him to the central fund. Every
one sees that this system drives a coach and horse through those clauses
in the Corrupt Practices Act which restrict election expenses and forbid
the employment of paid canvassers, though no one as yet has put forward
any plan for preventing it. But it is acknowledged that unless the whole
principle is to be abandoned, new legislation must take place; and Lord
Robert Cecil talks of the probable necessity for a 'stringent and
far-reaching Corrupt Practices Act.'[74] If, however, an act is carried
stringent enough to deal effectually with the existing development of
electoral tactics, it will have to be drafted on lines involving new and
hitherto unthought-of forms of interference with the liberty of
political appeal.

[74] _Times_, June 26, 1907.

A hundred years ago a contested election might last in any constituency
for three or four weeks of excitement and horseplay, during which the
voters were every day further removed from the state of mind in which
serious thought on the probable results of their votes was possible. Now
no election may last more than one day, and we may soon enact that all
the polling for a general election shall take place on the same day. The
sporting fever of the weeks during which a general election even now
lasts, with the ladder-climbing figures outside the newspaper offices,
the flash-lights at night, and the cheering or groaning crowds in the
party clubs, are not only waste of energy but an actual hindrance to
effective political reasoning.

A more difficult psychological problem arose in the discussion of the
Ballot. Would a voter be more likely to form a thoughtful and
public-spirited decision if, after it was formed, he voted publicly or
secretly? Most of the followers of Bentham advocated secrecy. Since men
acted in accordance with their ideas of pleasure and pain, and since
landlords and employers were able, in spite of any laws against
intimidation, to bring 'sinister' motives to bear upon voters whose
votes were known, the advisability of secret voting seemed to follow as
a corollary from utilitarianism. John Stuart Mill, however, whose whole
philosophical life consisted of a slowly developing revolt of feeling
against the utilitarian philosophy to which he gave nominal allegiance
till the end, opposed the Ballot on grounds which really involved the
abandonment of the whole utilitarian position. If ideas of pleasure and
pain be taken as equivalent to those economic motives which can be
summed up as the making or losing money, it is not true, said Mill, that
even under a system of open voting such ideas are the main cause which
induce the ordinary citizen to vote. 'Once in a thousand times, as in
the case of peace or war, or of taking off taxes, the thought may cross
him that he shall save a few pounds or shillings in his year's
expenditure if the side he votes for wins.' He votes as a matter of fact
in accordance with ideas of right or wrong. 'His motive, when it is an
honourable one, is the desire to do right. We will not term it
patriotism or moral principle, in order not to ascribe to the voter's
frame of mind a solemnity that does not belong to it.' But ideas of
right and wrong are strengthened and not weakened by the knowledge that
we act under the eyes of our neighbours. 'Since then the real motive
which induces a man to vote honestly is for the most part not an
interested motive in any form, but a social one, the point to be decided
is whether the social feelings connected with an act and the sense of
social duty in performing it, can be expected to be as powerful when the
act is done in secret, and he can neither be admired for disinterested,
nor blamed for mean and selfish conduct. But this question is answered
as soon as stated. When in every other act of a man's life which
concerns his duty to others, publicity and criticism ordinarily improve
his conduct, it cannot be that voting for a member of parliament is the
single case in which he will act better for being sheltered against all

[75] Letter to the _Reader_, Ap. 29, 1865, signed J.S.M., quoted as
Mill's by Henry Romilly in pamphlet, _Public Responsibility and Vote by
Ballot_, pp. 89, 90.

Almost the whole civilised world has now adopted the secret Ballot; so
that it would seem that Mill was wrong, and that he was wrong in spite
of the fact that, as against the consistent utilitarians, his
description of average human motive was right. But Mill, though he soon
ceased to be in the original sense of the word a utilitarian, always
remained an intellectualist, and he made in the case of the Ballot the
old mistake of giving too intellectual and logical an account of
political impulses. It is true that men do not act politically upon a
mere stock-exchange calculation of material advantages and
disadvantages. They generally form vague ideas of right and wrong in
accordance with vague trains of inference as to the good or evil results
of political action. If an election were like a jury trial, such
inferences might be formed by a process which would leave a sense of
fundamental conviction in the mind of the thinker, and might be
expressed under conditions of religious and civic solemnity to which
publicity would lend an added weight, as it does in those 'acts of a
man's life which concern his duty to others,' to which Mill refers--the
paying of a debt of honour, for instance, or the equitable treatment of
one's relatives. But under existing electoral conditions, trains of
thought, formed as they often are by the half-conscious suggestion of
newspapers or leaflets, are weak as compared with the things of sense.
Apart from direct intimidation the voice of the canvasser, the
excitement of one's friends, the look of triumph on the face of one's
opponents, or the vague indications of disapproval by the rulers of
one's village, are all apt to be stronger than the shadowy and uncertain
conclusions of one's thinking brain. To make the ultimate vote secret,
gives therefore thought its best chance, and at least requires the
canvasser to produce in the voter a belief which, however shadowy, shall
be genuine, rather than to secure by the mere manipulation of momentary
impulse a promise which is shamefacedly carried out in public because it
is a promise.

Lord Courtney is the last survivor in public life of the personal
disciples of Mill, and at present he is devoting himself to a campaign
in favour of 'proportional representation,' in which, as it seems to me,
the old intellectualist misconceptions reappear in another form. He
proposes to deal with two difficulties, first, that under the existing
system of the 'single ballot' a minority in any single-member
constituency may, if there are more candidates than two, return its
representative, and secondly, that certain citizens who think for
themselves instead of allowing party leaders to think for them--the
Free-Trade Unionists, for instance, or the High-Church Liberals--have,
as a rule, no candidate representing their own opinions for whom they
can vote. He proposes, therefore, that each voter shall mark in order of
preference a ballot paper containing lists of candidates for large
constituencies, each of which returns six or seven members, Manchester
with its eight seats being given as an example.

This system, according to Lord Courtney, 'will lead to the dropping of
the fetters which now interfere with free thought, and will set men and
women on their feet, erect, intelligent, independent.'[76] But the
arguments used in urging it all seem to me to suffer from the fatal
defect of dwelling solely on the process by which opinion is
ascertained, and ignoring the process by which opinion is created. If at
the assizes all the jurors summoned were collected into one large jury,
and if they all voted Guilty or Not Guilty on all the cases, after a
trial in which all the counsel were heard and all the witnesses were
examined simultaneously, verdicts would indeed no longer depend on the
accidental composition of the separate juries; but the process of
forming verdicts would be made, to a serious degree, less effective.

[76] Address delivered by Lord Courtney at the Mechanics' Institute,
Stockport, March 22, 1907, p. 6.

The English experiment on which the Proportional Representation Society
mainly relies is an imaginary election, held in November 1906 by means
of ballot papers distributed through members and friends of the society
and through eight newspapers. 'The constituency,' we are told, 'was
supposed to return five members; the candidates, twelve in number, were
politicians whose names might be expected to be known to the ordinary
newspaper reader, and who might be considered as representative of some
of the main divisions of public opinion.'[77] The names were, in fact,
Sir A. Acland Hood, Sir H. Campbell-Banner-man, Sir Thomas P. Whittaker,
and Lord Hugh Cecil, with Messrs. Richard Bell, Austen Chamberlain,
Winston Churchill, Haldane, Keir Hardie, Arthur Henderson, Bonar Law,
and Philip Snowden. In all, 12,418 votes were collected.

[77] Proportional Representation Pamphlet, No. 4, p. 6.

I was one of the 12,418, and in my case the ballot papers were
distributed at the end of a dinner party. No discussion of the various
candidates took place with the single exception that, finding my memory
of Mr. Arthur Henderson rather vague, I whispered a question about him
to my next neighbour. We were all politicians, and nearly all the names
were those of persons belonging to that small group of forty or fifty
whose faces the caricaturists of the Christmas numbers expect their
readers to recognise.

At our dinner party not much unreality was introduced by the
intellectualist assumption that the list of names were, as a Greek might
have said, the same, 'to us,' as they were 'in themselves.' But an
ordinary list of candidates' names presented to an ordinary voter is 'to
him' simply a piece of paper with black marks on it, with which he will
either do nothing or do as he is told.

The Proportional Representation Society seem to assume that a sufficient
preliminary discussion will be carried on in the newspapers, and that
not only the names and party programmes but the reasons for the
selection of a particular person as candidate and for all the items in
his programme will be known to 'the ordinary newspaper reader,' who is
assumed to be identical with the ordinary citizen. But even if one
neglects the political danger arising from the modern concentration of
newspaper property in the hands of financiers who may use their control
for frankly financial purposes, it is not true that each man now reads
or is likely to read a newspaper devoted to a single candidature or to
the propaganda of a small political group. Men read newspapers for news,
and, since the collection of news is enormously costly, nine-tenths of
the electorate read between them a small number of established papers
advocating broad party principles. These newspapers, at any rate during
a general election, only refer to those particular contests in which the
party leaders are not concerned as matters of casual information, until,
on the day of the poll, they issue general directions 'How to vote.' The
choice of candidates is left by the newspapers to the local party
organisations, and if any real knowledge of the personality of a
candidate or of the details of his programme is to be made part of the
consciousness of the ordinary voter, this must still be done by local
electioneering in each constituency, _i.e._ by meetings and canvassing
and the distribution of 'election literature.' Lord Courtney's proposal,
even if it only multiplied the size of the ordinary constituency by six,
would multiply by at least six the difficulty of effective
electioneering, and even if each candidate were prepared to spend six
times as much money at every contest, he could not multiply by six the
range of his voice or the number of meetings which he could address in a

These considerations were brought home to me by my experience of the
nearest approximation to Proportional Representation which has ever been
actually adopted in England. In 1870 Lord Frederick Cavendish induced
the House of Commons to adopt 'plural voting' for School Board
elections. I fought in three London School Board elections as a
candidate and in two others as a political worker. In London the legal
arrangement was that each voter in eleven large districts should be
given about five or six votes, and that the same number of seats should
be assigned to the district. In the provinces a town or parish was given
a number of seats from five to fifteen. The voter might 'plump' all his
votes on one candidate or might distribute them as he liked among any of

This left the local organisers both in London and the country with two
alternatives. They might form the list of party candidates in each
district into a recognisable entity like the American 'ticket' and urge
all voters to vote, on party lines, for the Liberal or Conservative
'eight' or 'five' or 'three.' If they did this they were saved the
trouble involved in any serious attempt to instruct voters as to the
individual personalities of the members of the list. Or they might
practically repeal the plural voting law, split up the constituency by a
voluntary arrangement into single member sections, and spend the weeks
of the election in making one candidate for each party known in each
section. The first method was generally adopted in the provinces, and
had all the good and bad effects from a party point of view of the
French _scrutin de liste_. The second method was adopted in London, and
perhaps tended to make the London elections turn more than they
otherwise would have done upon the qualities of individual candidates.
Whichever system was adopted by the party leaders was acted upon by
practically all the voters, with the exception of the well-organised
Roman Catholics, who voted for a Church and not a person, and of those
who plumped for representatives of the special interests of the teachers
or school-keepers.

If Lord Courtney's proposal is adopted for parliamentary elections, it
is the 'ticket' system which, owing to the intensity of party feeling,
will be generally used. Each voter will bring into the polling booth a
printed copy of the ballot paper marked with the numbers 1, 2, 3, etc.,
according to the decision of his party association, and will copy the
numbers onto the unmarked official paper. The essential fact, that is to
say, on which party tactics would depend under Lord Courtney's scheme is
not that the votes would finally be added up in this way or in that, but
that the voter would be required to arrange in order more names than
there is time during the election to turn for him into real persons.

Lord Courtney, in speaking on the second reading of his Municipal
Representation Bill in the House of Lords,[78] contrasted his proposed
system with that used in the London Borough Council elections, according
to which a number of seats are assigned to each ward and the voter may
give one vote each, without indication of preference, to that number of
candidates. It is true that the electoral machinery for the London
Boroughs is the worst to be found anywhere in the world outside of
America. I have before me my party ballot-card instructing me how to
vote at the last Council election in my present borough. There were six
seats to be filled in my ward and fifteen candidates. I voted as I was
told by my party organisation giving one vote each to six names, not one
of which I remembered to have seen before. If there had been one seat to
be filled, and, say, three candidates, I should have found out enough
about one candidate at least to give a more or less independent vote;
and the local party committees would have known that I and others would
do so. Bach party would then have circulated a portrait and a printed
account of their candidate and of his principles, and would have had a
strong motive for choosing a thoroughly reputable person. But I could
not give the time necessary for forming a real opinion on fifteen
candidates, who volunteered no information about themselves. I
therefore, and probably twenty-nine out of every thirty of those who
voted in the borough, voted a 'straight ticket.' If for any reason the
party committee put, to use an Americanism, a 'yellow dog' among the
list of names, I voted for the yellow dog.

[78] April 30, 1907.

Under Lord Courtney's system I should have had to vote on the same
ticket, with the same amount of knowledge, but should have copied down
different marks from my party card. On the assumption, that is to say,
that every name on a long ballot paper represents an individual known to
every voter there would be an enormous difference between Lord
Courtney's proposed system and the existing system in the London
Boroughs. But if the fact is that the names in each case are mere names,
there is little effective difference between the working of the two
systems until the votes are counted.

If the sole object of an election were to discover and record the exact
proportion of the electorate who are prepared to vote for candidates
nominated by the several party organisations Lord Courtney's scheme
might be adopted as a whole. But English experience, and a longer
experience in America, has shown that the personality of the candidate
nominated is at least as important as his party allegiance, and that a
parliament of well-selected members who represent somewhat roughly the
opinion of the nation is better than a parliament of ill-selected
members who, as far as their party labels are concerned, are, to quote
Lord Courtney, 'a distillation, a quintessence, a microcosm, a
reflection of the community.'[79]

[79] Address at Stockport, p. 11.

To Lord Courtney the multi-member constituency, which permits of a wide
choice, and the preferential vote, which permits of full use of that
choice, are equally essential parts of his plan; and that plan will
soon be seriously discussed, because parliament, owing to the rise of
the Labour Party and the late prevalence of 'three-cornered' contests,
will soon have to deal with the question. It will then be interesting to
see whether the growing substitution of the new quantitative and
psychological for the old absolute and logical way of thinking about
elections will have advanced sufficiently far to enable the House of
Commons to distinguish between the two points. If so, they will adopt
the transferable vote, and so get over the difficulty of three-cornered
elections, while retaining single-member constituencies, and therewith
the possibility of making the personality of a candidate known to the
whole of his constituents.

A further effect of the way in which we are beginning to think of the
electoral process is that, since 1888, parliament, in reconstructing the
system of English local government, has steadily diminished the number
of elections, with the avowed purpose of increasing their efficiency.
The Local Government Acts of 1888 and 1894 swept away thousands of
elections for Improvement Boards, Burial Boards, Vestries, etc. In 1902
the separately elected School Boards were abolished, and it is certain
that the Guardians of the Poor will soon follow them. The Rural Parish
Councils, which were created in 1894, and which represented a reversion
by the Liberal Party to the older type of democratic thought, have been
a failure, and will either be abolished or will remain ineffective,
because no real administrative powers will be given to them. But if we
omit the rural districts, the inhabitant of a 'county borough' will soon
vote only for parliament and his borough council, while the inhabitant
of London or of an urban district or non-county borough will only vote
for parliament, his county, and his district or borough council. On the
average, neither will be asked to vote more than once a year.

In America one notices a similar tendency towards electoral
concentration as a means of increasing electoral responsibility. In
Philadelphia I found that this concentration had taken a form which
seemed to me to be due to a rather elementary quantitative mistake in
psychology. Owing to the fact that the reformers had thought only of
economising political force, and had ignored the limitations of
political knowledge, so many elections were combined on one day that the
Philadelphia 'blanket-ballot' which I was shown, with its parallel
columns of party 'tickets,' contained some four hundred names. The
resulting effects on the _personnel_ of Philadelphian politics were as
obvious as they were lamentable. In other American cities, however,
concentration often takes the form of the abolition of many of the
elected boards and officials, and the substitution for them of a single
elected Mayor, who administers the city by nominated commissions, and
whose personality it is hoped can be made known during an election to
all the voters, and therefore must he seriously considered by his
nominators. One noticed again the growing tendency to substitute a
quantitative and psychological for an absolute and logical view of the
electoral process in the House of Commons debate on the claim set up by
the House of Lords in 1907 to the right of forcing a general election
(or a referendum) at any moment which they thought advantageous to
themselves. Mr. Herbert Samuel, for instance, argued that this claim, if
allowed, would give a still further advantage in politics to the
electoral forces of wealth acting, at dates carefully chosen by the
House of Lords, both directly and through the control of the Press. Lord
Robert Cecil alone, whose mind is historical in the worst sense of that
term, objected 'What a commentary was that on the "will of the
people,"'[80] and thought it somehow illegitimate that Mr. Samuel should
not defend democracy according to the philosophy of Thomas Paine, so
that he could answer in the style of Canning. The present quarrel
between the two Houses may indeed result in a further step in the public
control of the methods of producing political opinion by the
substitution of General Elections occurring at regular intervals for our
present system of sudden party dissolutions at moments of national

[80] _Times_, June 25, 1907.

But in the electoral process, as in so many other cases, one dares not
hope that these slow and half-conscious changes in the general
intellectual attitude will be sufficient to suggest and carry through
all the improvements of machinery necessary to meet our growing
difficulties, unless they are quickened by a conscious purpose. At my
last contest for the London County Council I had to spend the half hour
before the close of the vote in one of the polling stations of a very
poor district. I was watching the proceedings, which in the crush at the
end are apt to be rather irregular, and at the same time was thinking of
this book. The voters who came in were the results of the 'final rally'
of the canvassers on both sides. They entered the room in rapid but
irregular succession, as if they were jerked forward by a hurried and
inefficient machine. About half of them were women, with broken straw
hats, pallid faces, and untidy hair. All were dazed and bewildered,
having been snatched away in carriages or motors from the making of
match-boxes, or button-holes, or cheap furniture, or from the public
house, or, since it was Saturday evening, from bed. Most of them seemed
to be trying, in the unfamiliar surroundings, to be sure of the name for
which, as they had been reminded at the door, they were to vote. A few
were drunk, and one man, who was apparently a supporter of my own, clung
to my neck while he tried to tell me of some vaguely tremendous fact
which just eluded his power of speech. I was very anxious to win, and
inclined to think that I had won, but my chief feeling was an intense
conviction that this could not be accepted as even a decently
satisfactory method of creating a government for a city of five million
inhabitants, and that nothing short of a conscious and resolute facing
of the whole problem of the formation of political opinion would enable
us to improve it.

Something might be done, and perhaps will be done in the near future, to
abolish the more sordid details of English electioneering. Public houses
could be closed on the election day, both to prevent drunkenness and
casual treating, and to create an atmosphere of comparative seriousness.
It is a pity that we cannot have the elections on a Sunday as they have
in France. The voters would then come to the poll after twenty or
twenty-four hours' rest, and their own thoughts would have some power of
asserting themselves even in the presence of the canvasser, whose
hustling energy now inevitably dominates the tired nerves of men who
have just finished their day's work. The feeling of moral responsibility
half consciously associated with the religious use of Sunday would also
be so valuable an aid to reflection that the most determined
anti-clerical might be willing to risk the chance that it would add to
the political power of the churches. It may cease to be true that in
England the Christian day of rest, in spite of the recorded protest of
the founder of Christianity, is still too much hedged about by the
traditions of prehistoric taboo to be available for the most solemn act
of citizenship. It might again be possible to lend to the polling-place
some of the dignity of a law court, and if no better buildings were
available, at least to clean and decorate the dingy schoolrooms now
used. But such improvements in the external environment of election-day,
however desirable they may be in themselves, can only be of small

Some writers argue or imply that all difficulties in the working of the
electoral process will disappear of themselves as men approach to social
equality. Those who are now rich will, they believe, have neither motive
for corrupt electoral expenditure, nor superfluity of money to spend on
it; while the women and the working men who are now unenfranchised or
politically inactive, will bring into politics a fresh stream of
unspoilt impulse.

If our civilisation is to survive, greater social equality must indeed
come. Men will not continue to live peacefully together in huge cities
under conditions that are intolerable to any sensitive mind, both among
those who profit, and those who suffer by them. But no one who is near
to political facts can believe that the immediate effect either of
greater equality or of the extension of the suffrage will be to clear
away all moral and intellectual difficulties in political organisation.

A mere numerical increase in the number of persons in England who are
interested in politics would indeed itself introduce a new and difficult
political factor. The active politicians in England, those who take any
part in politics beyond voting, are at present a tiny minority. I was to
speak not long ago at an election meeting, and having been misdirected
as to the place where the meeting was to be held, found myself in an
unknown part of North London, compelled to inquire of the inhabitants
until I should find the address either of the meeting-hall or of the
party committee-room. For a long time I drew blank, but at last a cabman
on his way home to tea told me that there was a milkman in his street
who was 'a politician and would know.' There are in London seven hundred
thousand parliamentary voters, and I am informed by the man who is in
the best position to know that it would be safe to say that less than
ten thousand persons actually attend the annual ward meetings of the
various parties, and that not more than thirty thousand are members of
the party associations. That division of labour which assigns politics
to a special class of enthusiasts, looked on by many of their neighbours
as well-meaning busybodies, is not carried so far in most other parts of
England as in London. But in no county in England, as far as I am aware,
does the number of persons really active in politics amount to ten per
cent. of the electorate.

There are, I think, signs that this may soon cease to be true. The
English Elementary Education Act was passed in 1870, and the elementary
schools may be said to have become fairly efficient by 1880. Those who
entered them, being six years old, at that date are now aged
thirty-four. The statistics as to the production and sale of newspapers
and cheap books and the use of free libraries, show that the younger
working men and women in England read many times as much as their
parents did. This, and the general increase of intellectual activity in
our cities of which it is only a part, may very probably lead, as the
social question in politics grows more serious, to a large extension of
electoral interest. If so, the little groups of men and women who now
manage the three English parties in the local constituencies will find
themselves swamped by thousands of adherents who will insist on taking
some part in the choice of candidates and the formation of programmes.
That will lead to a great increase in the complexity of the process by
which the Council, the Executive, and the officers of each local party
association are appointed. Parliament indeed may find itself compelled,
as many of the American States have been compelled, to pass a series of
Acts for the prevention of fraud in the interior government of parties.
The ordinary citizen would find then, much more obviously than he does
at present, that an effective use of his voting power involves not only
the marking of a ballot paper on the day of the election, but an active
share in that work of appointing and controlling party committees from
which many men whose opinions are valuable to the State shrink with an
instinctive dread.

But the most important difficulties raised by the extension of political
interest from a very small to a large fraction of the population would
be concerned with political motive rather than political machinery. It
is astonishing that the early English democrats, who supposed that
individual advantage would be the sole driving force in politics,
assumed, without realising the nature of their own assumption, that the
representative, if he were elected for a short term, would inevitably
feel his own advantage to be identical with that of the community.[81] At
present there is a fairly sufficient supply of men whose imagination and
sympathies are sufficiently quick and wide to make them ready to
undertake the toil of unpaid electioneering and administration for the
general good. But every organiser of elections knows that the supply is
never more than sufficient, and payment of members, while it would
permit men of good-will to come forward who are now shut out, would also
make it possible for less worthy motives to become more effective. The
concentration both of administrative and legislative work in the hands
of the Cabinet, while it tends to economy of time and effort, is making
the House of Commons yearly a less interesting place; and members have
of late often expressed to me a real anxiety lest the _personnel_ of the
House should seriously deteriorate.

[81] E.g. James Mill, _Essay on Government_ (1825), 'We have seen in
what manner it is possible to prevent in the Representatives the rise of
an interest different from that of the parties who choose them, namely,
by giving them little time not dependent upon the will of those parties'
(p. 27).

The chief immediate danger in the case of the two older parties is that,
owing to the growing expense of electioneering and the growing effect of
legislation on commerce and finance, an increasing proportion of the
members and candidates may be drawn from the class of 'hustling'
company-promoters and financiers. The Labour Party, on the other hand,
can now draw upon an ample supply of genuine public spirit, and its
difficulties in this respect will arise, not from calculated individual
selfishness, but from the social and intellectual environment of
working-class life. During the last twenty years I have been associated,
for some years continuously and afterwards at intervals, with English
political working men. They had, it seemed to me, for the most part a
great advantage in the fact that certain real things of life were real
to them. It is, for instance, the 'class-conscious' working men who, in
England as on the Continent, are the chief safeguard against the horrors
of a general European war. But as their number and responsibility
increase they will, I believe, have to learn some rather hard lessons as
to the intellectual conditions of representative government upon a large
scale. The town working man lives in a world in which it is very
difficult for him to choose his associates. If he is of an expansive
temperament, and it is such men who become politicians, he must take his
mates in the shop and his neighbours in the tenement house as he finds
them--and he sees them at very close range. The social virtue therefore
which is almost a necessity of his existence is a good-humoured
tolerance of the defects of average human nature. He is keenly aware of
the uncertainty of his own industrial position, accustomed to give and
receive help, and very unwilling to 'do' any man 'out of his job.' His
parents and grandparents read very little and he was brought up in a
home with few books. If, as he grows up, he does not himself read,
things beyond his direct observation are apt to be rather shadowy for
him, and he is easily made suspicious of that which he does not
understand. If, on the other hand, he takes to reading when he is
already a grown man, words and ideas are apt to have for him a kind of
abstract and sharply outlined reality in a region far removed from his
daily life.

Now the first virtue required in government is the habit of realising
that things whose existence we infer from reading are as important as
the things observed by our senses, of looking, for instance, through a
list of candidates for an appointment and weighing the qualifications of
the man whom one has never met by the same standard as those of the man
whom one has met, and liked or pitied, the day before; or of deciding on
an improvement with complete impartiality as between the district one
knows of on the map and the district one sees every morning. If a
representative elected to govern a large area allows personal
acquaintance and liking to influence his decisions, his acquaintance and
liking will he schemed for and exploited by those who have their own
ends to gain. The same difficulty arises in matters of discipline, where
the interests of the unknown thousands who will suffer from the
inefficiency of an official have to be balanced against those of the
known official who will suffer by being punished or dismissed; as well
as in those numerous cases in which a working man has to balance the
dimly realised interests of the general consumer against his intimate
sympathy with his fellow-craftsmen.

The political risk arising from these facts is not, at present, very
great in the parliamentary Labour Party. The working men who have been
sent to parliament have been hitherto, as a rule, men of picked
intelligence and morale and of considerable political experience. But
the success or failure of any scheme aiming at social equality will
depend chiefly on its administration by local bodies, to which the
working classes must necessarily send men of less exceptional ability
and experience. I have never myself served on an elected local body the
majority of whose members were weekly wage earners. But I have talked
with men, both of working-class and middle-class origin, who have been
in that position. What they say confirms that which I have inferred from
my own observation, that on such a body one finds a high level of
enthusiasm, of sympathy, and of readiness to work, combined with a
difficulty in maintaining a sufficiently rigorous standard in dealing
with sectional interests and official discipline.

One is told that on such a body many members feel it difficult to
realise that the way in which a well-intentioned man may deal with his
own personal expenditure, his continued patronage, for instance, of a
rather inefficient tradesman because he has a large family, or his
refusal to contest an account from a dislike of imputing bad motives, is
fatal if applied in the expenditure of the large sums entrusted to a
public body. Sometimes there are even, one learns, indications of that
good-humoured and not ill-meant laxity in expending public money which
has had such disastrous results in America, and which lends itself so
easily to exploitation by those in whom the habit of giving and taking
personal favours has hardened into systematic fraud. When one of the
West Ham Guardians, two years ago, committed suicide on being charged
with corruption, the _Star_ sent down a representative who filled a
column with the news. 'His death,' we were told, 'has robbed the
district of an indefatigable public worker. County Council, Board of
Guardians, and Liberal interests all occupied his leisure time.' 'One of
his friends' is described as saying to the _Star_ reporter, 'You do not
need to go far to learn of his big-souled geniality. The poor folks of
the workhouse will miss him badly.'[82] When one has waded through masses
of evidence on American municipal corruption, that phrase about
'big-souled geniality' makes one shudder.

[82] _Star_, November 28th, 1906.

The early history of the co-operative and trade-union movements in
England is full of pathetic instances of this kind of failure, and both
movements show how a new and more stringent ideal may be slowly built
up. But such an ideal will not come of itself without an effort, and
must be part of the conscious organised thought of each generation if it
is to be permanently effective.

Those difficulties have in the past been mainly pointed out by the
opponents of democracy. But if democracy is to succeed they must be
frankly considered by the democrats themselves; just as it is the
engineer who is trying to build the bridge, and not the ferry-owner,
who is against any bridge at all, whose duty it is to calculate the
strain which the materials will stand. The engineer, when he wishes to
increase the margin of safety in his plans, treats as factors in the
same quantitative problem both the chemical expedients by which he can
strengthen his materials and the structural changes by which the strain
on those materials can be diminished. So those who would increase the
margin of safety in our democracy must estimate, with no desire except
to arrive at truth, both the degree to which the political strength of
the individual citizen can, in any given time, be actually increased by
moral and educational changes, and the possibility of preserving or
extending or inventing such elements in the structure of democracy as
may prevent the demand upon him being too great for his strength.



It is obvious, however, that the persons elected under any conceivable
system of representation cannot do the whole work of government

If all elections are held in single member constituencies of a size
sufficient to secure a good supply of candidates; if the number of
elections is such as to allow the political workers a proper interval
for rest and reflection between the campaigns; if each elected body has
an area large enough for effective administration, a number of members
sufficient for committee work and not too large for debate, and duties
sufficiently important to justify the effort and expense of a contest;
then one may take about twenty-three thousand as the best number of men
and women to be elected by the existing population of the United
Kingdom--or rather less than one to every two thousand of the

[83] I arrive at this figure by dividing the United Kingdom into single
member parliamentary constituencies, averaging 100,000 in population,
which gives a House of Commons of 440--a more convenient number than the
existing 670. I take the same unit of 100,000 for the average municipal
area. Large towns would contain several parliamentary constituencies,
and small towns would, as at present, be separate municipal areas,
although only part of a parliamentary constituency. I allow one local
council of 50 on the average to each municipal area.

This proportion depends mainly on facts in the psychology of the
electors, which will change very slowly if they change at all. At
present the amount of work to be done in the way of government is
rapidly increasing, and seems likely to continue to increase. If so, the
number of elected persons available for each unit of work must tend to
decrease. The number of persons now elected in the United Kingdom
(including, for instance, the Parish Councillors of rural parishes, and
the Common Council of the City of London) is, of course, larger than my
estimate, though it has been greatly diminished by the Acts of 1888,
1894 and 1902. Owing, however, to the fact that areas and powers are
still somewhat uneconomically distributed it represents a smaller actual
working power than would be given by the plan which I suggest.

On the other hand, the number of persons (excluding the Army and Navy)
given in the Census Returns of 1901 as professionally employed in the
central and local government of the United Kingdom was 161,000. This
number has certainly grown since 1901 at an increasing rate, and
consists of persons who give on an average at least four times as many
hours a week to their work as can be expected from the average elected

What ought to be the relation between these two bodies, of twenty-three
thousand elected, and, say, two hundred thousand non-elected persons? To
begin with, ought the elected members be free to appoint the non-elected
officials as they like? Most American politicians of Andrew Jackson's
time, and a large number of American politicians to-day, would hold, for
instance, as a direct corollary from democratic principles, that the
elected congressman or senator for a district or State has a right to
nominate the local federal officials. There may, he would admit, be some
risk in that method, but the risk, he would argue, is one involved in
the whole scheme of democracy, and the advantages of democracy as a
whole are greater than its disadvantages.

Our political logic in England has never been so elementary as that of
the Americans, nor has our faith in it been so unflinching. Most
Englishmen, therefore, have no feeling of disloyalty to the democratic
idea in admitting that it is not safe to allow the efficiency of
officials to depend upon the personal character of individual
representatives. At the General Election of 1906 there were at least two
English constituencies (one Liberal and the other Conservative) which
returned candidates whose personal unfitness had been to most men's
minds proved by evidence given in the law courts. Neither constituency
was markedly unlike the average in any respect. The facts were well
known, and in each case an attempt was made by a few public-spirited
voters to split the party vote, but both candidates were successful by
large majorities. The Borough of Croydon stands, socially and
intellectually, well above the average, but Mr. Jabez Balfour
represented Croydon for many years, until he was sentenced to penal
servitude for fraud. No one in any of these three cases would have
desired that the sitting member should appoint, say, the postmasters, or
collectors of Inland Revenue for his constituency.

But though the case against the appointment of officials by individual
representatives is clear, the question of the part which should be taken
by any elected body as a whole in appointing the officials who serve
under it is much more difficult, and cannot be discussed without
considering what are to be the relative functions of the officials and
the representatives after the appointment has taken place. Do we aim at
making election in fact as well as in constitutional theory the sole
base of political authority, or do we desire that the non-elected
officials shall exert some amount of independent influence?

The fact that most Englishmen, in spite of their traditional fear of
bureaucracy, would now accept the second of these alternatives, is one
of the most striking results of our experience in the working of
democracy. We see that the evidence on which the verdict at an election
must be given is becoming every year more difficult to collect and
present, and further removed from the direct observation of the voters.
We are afraid of being entirely dependent on partisan newspapers or
election leaflets for our knowledge, and we have therefore come to
value, even if for that reason only, the existence of a responsible and
more or less independent Civil Service. It is difficult to realise how
short a time it is since questions for which we now rely entirely on
official statistics were discussed by the ordinary political methods of
agitation and advocacy. In the earlier years of George the Third's
reign, at a time when population in England was, as we now know, rising
with unprecedented rapidity, the question of fact whether it was rising
or falling led to embittered political controversy.[84] In the spring of
1830 the House of Commons gave three nights to a confused party debate
on the state of the country. The Whigs argued that distress was general,
and the Tories (who were, as it happened, right) that it was local[85]. In
1798 or 1830 the 'public' who could take part in such discussions
numbered perhaps fifty thousand at the most. At least ten million people
must, since 1903, have taken part in the present Tariff Reform
controversy; and that controversy would have degenerated into mere
Bedlam if it had not been for the existence of the Board of Trade
Returns, with whose figures both sides had at least to appear to square
their arguments.

[84] Bonar's _Malthus_, chap. vii.

[85] _Hansard_, Feb. 4th, 5th, 6th, 1830.

If official figures did not exist in England, or if they did not possess
or deserve authority, it is difficult to estimate the degree of
political harm which could be done in a few years by an interested and
deliberately dishonest agitation on some question too technical for the
personal judgment of the ordinary voter. Suppose, for instance, that our
Civil Service were either notoriously inefficient or believed to be
dominated by party influence, and that an organised and fraudulent
'currency agitation' should suddenly spring up. A powerful press
syndicate brings out a series of well-advertised articles declaring that
the privileges of the Bank of England and the law as to the gold reserve
are 'strangling British Industry.' The contents bills of two hundred
newspapers denounce every day the 'monopolists' and the 'gold-bugs,' the
'lies and shams' of the Bank Returns, and the 'paid perjurers of
Somerset House.' The group of financiers who control the syndicate stand
to win enormous sums by the creation of a more 'elastic' currency, and
subscribe largely to a Free Money League, which includes a few sincere
paper-money theorists who have been soured by the contempt of the
professional economists. A vigorous and well-known member of
parliament--a not very reputable aristocrat perhaps, or some one loosely
connected with the Labour movement--whom everybody has hitherto feared
and no one quite trusted, sees his opportunity. He puts himself at the
head of the movement, denounces the 'fossils' and 'superior persons' who
at present lead Conservative and Liberal and Labour parties alike, and,
with the help of the press syndicate and the subscription fund of the
'Free Money League,' begins to capture the local associations, and
through them the central office of the party which is for the moment in
opposition, Can any one be sure that such a campaign, if it were opposed
only by counter-electioneering, might not succeed, even although its
proposals were wholly fraudulent and its leaders so ignorant or so
criminal that they could only come into power by discrediting two-thirds
of the honest politicians in the country and by replacing them with
'hustlers' and 'boodlers' and 'grafters,' and the other species for whom
American political science has provided names? How is the ordinary
voter--a market-gardener, or a gas-stoker, or a water-colour painter--to
distinguish by the help of his own knowledge and reasoning power between
the various appeals made to him by the 'Reformers' and the 'Safe Money
Men' as to the right proportion of the gold reserve to the note
issue--the 'ten per cent.' on the blue posters and the 'cent. per cent.'
on the yellow? Nor will his conscience be a safer guide than his
judgment. A 'Christian Service Wing' of the Free Money League may be
formed, and his conscience may be roused by a white-cravatted orator,
intoxicated by his own eloquence into something like sincerity, who
borrows that phrase about 'Humanity crucified on a cross of gold' which
Mr. W.J. Bryan borrowed a dozen years ago from some one else. In an
optimistic mood one might rely on the subtle network of confidence by
which each man trusts, on subjects outside his own knowledge, some
honest and better-informed neighbour, who again trusts at several
removes the trained thinker. But does such a personal network exist in
our vast delocalised urban populations?

It is the vague apprehension of such dangers, quite as much as the
merely selfish fears of the privileged classes, which preserves in
Europe the relics of past systems of non-elective government, the House
of Lords, for instance, in England, and the Monarchy in Italy or Norway.
Men feel that a second base in politics is required, consisting of
persons independent of the tactics by which electoral opinion is formed
and legally entitled to make themselves heard. But political authority
founded on heredity or wealth is not in fact protected from the
interested manipulation of opinion and feeling. The American Senate,
which has come to be representative of wealth, is already absorbed by
that financial power which depends for its existence on manufactured
opinion; and our House of Lords is rapidly tending in the same
direction. From the beginning of history it has been found easier for
any skilled politician who set his mind to it, to control the opinions
of a hereditary monarch than those of a crowd.

The real 'Second Chamber,' the real 'constitutional check' in England,
is provided, not by the House of Lords or the Monarchy, but by the
existence of a permanent Civil Service, appointed on a system
independent of the opinion or desires of any politician, and holding
office during good behaviour. If such a service were, as it is in Russia
and to a large extent in India, a sovereign power, it would itself, as I
argued in the last chapter, have to cultivate the art of manipulating
opinion. But the English Civil servants in their present position have
the right and duty of making their voice heard, without the necessity of
making their will, by fair means or foul, prevail.

The creation of this Service was the one great political invention in
nineteenth-century England, and like other inventions it was worked out
under the pressure of an urgent practical problem. The method of
appointing the officials of the East India Company had been a critical
question in English politics since 1783. By that time it had already
become clear that we could not permanently allow the appointment of the
rulers of a great empire kept in existence by the English fleet and army
to depend upon the irresponsible favour of the Company's directors.
Charles James Fox in 1783, with his usual heedlessness, proposed to cut
the knot, by making Indian appointments, in effect, part of the ordinary
system of parliamentary patronage; and he and Lord North were beaten
over their India Bill, not only because George the Third was obstinate
and unscrupulous, but because men felt the enormous political dangers
involved in their proposal. The question, in fact, could only be solved
by a new invention. The expedient of administering an oath to the
Directors that they would make their appointments honestly, proved to be
useless, and the requirements that the nominees of the Directors should
submit to a special training at Hayleybury, though more effective, left
the main evil of patronage untouched.

As early, therefore, as 1833, the Government Bill introduced by Macaulay
for the renewal and revision of the Company's charter contained a clause
providing that East India cadetships should be thrown open to
competition.[86] For the time the influence of the Directors was
sufficient to prevent so great a change from being effected, but in
1853, on a further renewal of the Charter, the system of competition was
definitely adopted, and the first open examination for cadetships took
place in 1855.

[86] It would be interesting if Lord Morley, now that he has access to
the records of the East India House, would tell us the true intellectual
history of this far-reaching suggestion. For the facts as now known, cf.
A.L. Lowell, _Colonial Civil Service_, pp. 243-256.

In the meantime Sir Charles Trevelyan, a distinguished Indian Civilian
who had married Macaulay's sister, had been asked to inquire, with the
help of Sir Stafford Northcote, into the method of appointment in the
Home Civil Service. His report appeared in the spring of 1854,[87] and is
one of the ablest of those State Papers which have done so much to mould
the English constitution during the last two generations. It showed the
intolerable effects on the _personnel_ of the existing Service of the
system by which the Patronage Secretary of the Treasury distributed
appointments in the national Civil Service among those members of
parliament whose votes were to be influenced or rewarded, and it
proposed that all posts requiring intellectual qualifications should be
thrown open to those young men of good character who succeeded at a
competitive examination in the subjects which then constituted the
education of a gentleman.

[87] _Reports and Papers on the Civil Service_, 1854-5.

But to propose that members of parliament should give up their own
patronage was a very different thing from asking them to take away the
patronage of the East India Company. Sir Charles Trevelyan, therefore,
before publishing his proposal, sent it round to a number of
distinguished persons both inside and outside the Government service,
and printed their very frank replies in an appendix.

Most of his correspondents thought that the idea was hopelessly
impracticable. It seemed like the intrusion into the world of politics
of a scheme of cause and effect derived from another universe--as if one
should propose to the Stock Exchange that the day's prices should be
fixed by prayer and the casting of lots. Lingen, for instance, the
permanent head of the Education Office, wrote considering that, as
matter of fact, patronage is one element of power, and not by any means
an unreal one; considering the long and inestimably valuable habituation
of the people of this country to political contests in which the share
of office ... reckons among the legitimate prizes of war; considering
that socially and in the business of life, as well as in Downing Street,
rank and wealth (as a fact, and whether we like it or not) hold the keys
of many things, and that our modes of thinking and acting proceed, in a
thousand ways, upon this supposition, considering all these things, I
should hesitate long before I advised such a revolution of the Civil
Service as that proposed by yourself and Sir Stafford Northcote.'[88] Sir
James Stephen of the Colonial Office put it more bluntly, 'The world we
live in is not, I think, half moralised enough for the acceptance of
such a scheme of stern morality as this.'[89] When, a few years later,
competition for commissions in the Indian army was discussed, Queen
Victoria (or Prince Albert through her) objected that it reduced the
sovereign to a mere signing machine.'[90]

[88] _Reports and Papers on the Civil Service_, pp. 104, 105.

[89] _Ibid._, p. 78

[90] _Life of Queen Victoria_, vol. iii. p. 377 (July 29, 1858).

In 1870, however, sixteen years after Trevelyan's Report, Gladstone
established open competition throughout the English Civil Service, by an
Order in Council which was practically uncriticised and unopposed; and
the parliamentary government of England in one of its most important
functions did in fact reduce itself 'to a mere signing machine.'

The causes of the change in the political atmosphere which made this
possible constitute one of the most interesting problems in English
history. One cause is obvious. In 1867 Lord Derby's Reform Act had
suddenly transferred the ultimate control of the House of Commons from
the 'ten pound householders' in the boroughs to the working men. The old
'governing classes' may well have felt that the patronage which they
could not much longer retain would be safer in the hands of an
independent Civil Service Commission, interpreting, like a blinded
figure of Justice, the verdict of Nature, than in those of the dreaded
'caucuses,' which Mr. Schnadhorst was already organising.

But one seems to detect a deeper cause of change than the mere
transference of voting power. The fifteen years from the Crimean War to
1870 were in England a period of wide mental activity, during which the
conclusions of a few penetrating thinkers like Darwin or Newman were
discussed and popularised by a crowd of magazine writers and preachers
and poets. The conception was gaining ground that it was upon serious
and continued thought and not upon opinion that the power to carry out
our purposes, whether in politics or elsewhere, must ultimately depend.

Carlyle in 1850 had asked whether 'democracy once modelled into
suffrages, furnished with ballot-boxes and such-like, will itself
accomplish the salutary universal change from Delusive to Real,' and had
answered, 'Your ship cannot double Cape Horn by its excellent plans of
voting. The ship may vote this and that, above decks and below, in the
most harmonious exquisitely constitutional manner: the ship, to get
round Cape Horn, will find a set of conditions already voted for, and
fixed with adamantine rigour by the ancient Elemental Powers, who are
entirely careless how you vote. If you can, by voting or without voting,
ascertain those conditions, and valiantly conform to them, you will get
round the Cape: if you cannot--the ruffian Winds will blow you ever back

[91] _Latter Day Pamphlets, No. I, The Present Time_. (Chapman and Hall,
1894, pp. 12 and 14.)

By 1870 Carlyle's lesson was already well started on its course from
paradox to platitude. The most important single influence in that course
had been the growth of Natural Science. It was, for instance, in 1870
that Huxley's _Lay Sermons_ were collected and published. People who
could not in 1850 understand Carlyle's distinction between the Delusive
and the Eeal, could not help understanding Huxley's comparison of life
and death to a game of chess with an unseen opponent who never makes a
mistake.[92] And Huxley's impersonal Science seemed a more present aid in
the voyage round Cape Horn than Carlyle's personal and impossible Hero.

[92] _Lay Sermont_, p. 31, 'A Liberal Education' (1868).

But the invention of a competitive Civil Service, when it had once been
made and adopted, dropped from the region of severe and difficult
thought in which it originated, and took its place in our habitual
political psychology. We now half-consciously conceive of the Civil
Service as an unchanging fact whose good and bad points are to be taken
or left as a whole. Open competition has by the same process become a
principle, conceived of as applying to those cases to which it has been
in fact applied, and to no others. What is therefore for the moment most
needed, if we are to think fruitfully on the subject, is that we should
in our own minds break up this fact, and return to the world of infinite
possible variations. We must think of the expedient of competition
itself as varying in a thousand different directions, and shading by
imperceptible gradations into other methods of appointment; and of the
posts offered for competition as differing each from all the rest, as
overlapping those posts for which competition in some form is suitable
though it has not yet been tried, and as touching, at the marginal point
on their curve, those posts for which competition is unsuitable.

Directly we begin this process one fact becomes obvious. There is no
reason why the same system should not be applied to the appointment of
the officials of the local as to those of the central government. It is
an amazing instance of the intellectual inertia of the English people
that we have never seriously considered this point. In America the term
Civil Service is applied equally to both groups of offices, and 'Civil
Service principles' are understood to cover State and Municipal as well
as Federal appointments. The separation of the two systems in our minds
may, indeed, be largely due to the mere accident that from historical
reasons we call them by different names. As it is, the local authorities
are (with the exception that certain qualifications are required for
teachers and medical officers) left free to do as they will in making
appointments. Perhaps half a dozen Metropolitan and provincial local
bodies have adopted timid and limited schemes of open competition. But
in all other cases the local civil servants, who are already probably as
numerous as those of the central government,[93] are appointed under
conditions which, if the Government chose to create a Commission of
Inquiry, would probably be found to have reproduced many of the evils
that existed in the patronage of the central government before 1855.

[93] The figures in the census of 1901 were--National, 90,000; Local,
71,000. But the local officials since then have, I believe, increased
much more rapidly than the national.

It would not, of course, be possible to appoint a separate body of Civil
Service Commissioners to hold a separate examination for each locality,
and difficulties would arise from the selection of officials by a body
responsible only to the central government, and out of touch with the
local body which controls, pays, and promotes them when appointed. But
similar difficulties have been obviated by American Civil Service
Reformers, and a few days' hard thinking would suffice to adapt the
system to English local conditions.

One object aimed at by the creation of a competitive Civil Service for
the central government in England was the prevention of corruption. It
was made more difficult for representatives and officials to conspire
together in order to defraud the public, when the official ceased to owe
his appointment to the representative. If an English member of
parliament desired now to make money out of his position, he would have
to corrupt a whole series of officials in no way dependent on his
favour, who perhaps intensely dislike the human type to which he
belongs, and who would be condemned to disgrace or imprisonment years
after he had lost his seat if some record of their joint misdoing were

This precaution against corruption is needed even more clearly under the
conditions of local government. The expenditure of local bodies in the
United Kingdom is already much larger than that of the central State,
and is increasing at an enormously greater rate, while the fact that
most of the money is spent locally, and in comparatively small sums,
makes fraud easier. English municipal life is, I believe, on the whole
pure, but fraud does occur, and it is encouraged by the close connection
that may exist between the officials and the representatives. A needy or
thick-skinned urban councillor or guardian may at any moment tempt, or
be tempted, by a poor relation who helped him at his election, and for
whom (perhaps as the result of a tacit understanding that similar
favours should be allowed to his colleagues), he obtained a municipal

The railway companies, again, in England are coming every year more and
more under State control, but no statesman has ever attempted to secure
in their case, as was done in the case of the East India Company a
century ago, some reasonable standard of purity and impartiality in
appointments and promotion. Some few railways have systems of
competition for boy clerks, even more inadequate than those carried on
by municipalities; but one is told that under most of the companies
both appointment and promotion may be influenced by the favour of
directors or large shareholders. We regulate the minutiae of coupling
and signalling on the railways, but do not realise that the safety of
the public depends even more directly upon their systems of patronage.

How far this principle should be extended, and how far, for instance, it
would be possible to prevent the head of a great private firm from
ruining half a country side by leaving the management of his business to
a hopelessly incompetent relation, is a question which depends, among
other things, upon the powers of political invention which may be
developed by collectivist thinkers in the next fifty years.

We must meanwhile cease to treat the existing system of competition by
the hasty writing of answers to unexpected examination questions as an
unchangeable entity. That system has certain very real advantages. It is
felt by the candidates and their relations to be 'fair.' It reveals
facts about the relative powers of the candidates in some important
intellectual qualities which no testimonials would indicate, and which
are often unknown, till tested, to the candidates themselves. But if the
sphere of independent selection is to be widely extended, greater
variety must be introduced into its methods. In this respect invention
has stood still in England since the publication of Sir Charles
Trevelyan's Report in 1855. Some slight modifications have taken place
in the subjects chosen for examination, but the enormous changes in
English educational conditions during the last half century have been
for the most part ignored. It is still assumed that young Englishmen
consist of a small minority who have received the nearly uniform
'education of a gentleman,' and a large majority who have received no
intellectual training at all. The spread of varied types of secondary
schools, the increasing specialisation of higher education, and the
experience which all the universities of the world have accumulated as
to the possibility of testing the genuineness and intellectual quality
of 'post graduate' theses have had little or no effect.

The Playfair Commission of 1875 found that a few women were employed for
strictly subordinate work in the Post Office. Since then female
typewriters and a few better-paid women have been introduced into other
offices in accordance with the casual impulses of this or that
parliamentary or permanent chief; but no systematic attempt has been
made to enrich the thinking power of the State by using the trained and
patient intellects of the women who graduate each year in the newer, and
'qualify by examination to graduate,' in the older Universities.

To the general public indeed, the adoption of open competition in 1870
seemed to obviate any necessity for further consideration not only of
the method by which officials were appointed but also of the system
under which they did their work. The race of Tite Barnacles, they
learnt, was now to become extinct. Appointment was to be by 'merit,' and
the announcement of the examination results, like the wedding in a
middle-Victorian novel, was to be the end of the story. But in a
Government office, as certainly as in a law-court or a laboratory,
effective thinking will not be done unless adequate opportunities and
motives are secured by organisation during the whole working life of the
appointed officials. Since 1870, however, the organisation of the
Government Departments has either been left to the casual development of
office tradition in each Department or has been changed (as in the case
of the War Office) by an agitation directed against one Department only.
The official relations, for instance, between the First Division
minority and the Second Division majority of the clerks in each office
vary, not on any considered principle, but according to the opinions and
prejudices of some once-dominant but now forgotten chief. The same is
true of the relation between the heads of each section and the officials
immediately below them. In at least one office important papers are
brought first to the chief. His decision is at once given and is sent
down the hierarchy for elaboration. In other offices the younger men are
given invaluable experience, and the elder men are prevented from
getting into an official rut by a system which requires that all papers
should be sent first to a junior, who sends them up to his senior
accompanied not only by the necessary papers but also by a minute of his
own suggesting official action. One of these two types of organisation
must in fact be better than the other, but no one has systematically
compared them.

In the Colonial Office, again, it is the duty of the Librarian to see
that the published books as well as the office records on any question
are available for every official who has to report on it. In the Board
of Trade, which deals with subjects on which the importance of published
as compared with official information is even greater, room has only
just been found for a technical library which was collected many years
ago.[94] The Foreign Office and the India Office have libraries, the
Treasury and the Local Government Board have none.

[94] For a long time the Library of the Board of Trade was kept at the
Foreign Office.

In the Exchequer and Audit Department a deliberate policy has been
adopted of training junior officials by transferring them at regular
intervals to different branches of the work. The results are said to be
excellent, but nothing of the kind is systematically done or has even
been seriously discussed in any other Department which I know.

Nearly all departmental officials are concerned with the organisation
of non-departmental work more directly executive than their own, and
part of a wise system of official training would consist in 'seconding'
young officials for experience in the kind of work which they are to
organise. The clerks of the Board of Agriculture should be sent at least
once in their career to help in superintending the killing of infected
swine and interviewing actual farmers, while an official in the Railway
section of the Board of Trade should acquire some personal knowledge of
the inside of a railway office. This principle of 'seconding' might well
be extended so as to cover (as is already done in the army) definite
periods of study during which an official, on leave of absence with full
pay, should acquire knowledge useful to his department; after which he
should show the result of his work, not by the answering of examination
questions, but by the presentation of a book or report of permanent

The grim necessity of providing, after the events of the Boer War, for
effective thought in the government of the British army produced the War
Office Council. The Secretary of State, instead of knowing only of those
suggestions that reach him through the 'bottle-neck' of his senior
official's mind, now sits once a week at a table with half a dozen heads
of sub-departments. He hears real discussion; he learns to pick men for
higher work; and saves many hours of circumlocutory writing. At the same
time, owing to a well-known fact in the physiology of the human brain,
the men who are tired of thinking on paper find a new stimulus in the
spoken word and the presence of their fellow human beings, just as
politicians who are tired with talking, find, if their minds are still
uninjured, a new stimulus in the silent use of a pen.

If this periodical alternation of written and oral discussion is useful
in the War Office, it would probably be useful in other offices; but no
one with sufficient authority to require an answer has ever asked if it
is so.

One of the most important functions of a modern Government is the
effective publication of information, but we have no Department of
Publicity, though we have a Stationery Office; and it is, for instance,
apparently a matter of accident whether any particular Department has or
has not a Gazette and how and when that Gazette is published. Nor is it
any one's business to discover and criticise and if necessary
co-ordinate the statistical methods of the various official

On all these points and many others a small Departmental Committee
(somewhat on the lines of that Esher Committee which reorganised the War
Office in 1904), consisting perhaps of an able manager of an Insurance
Company, with an open-minded Civil Servant, and a business man with
experience of commercial and departmental organisation abroad, might
suggest such improvements as would without increase of expense double
the existing intellectual output of our Government offices.

But such a Committee will not be appointed unless the ordinary members
of parliament, and especially the members who advocate a wide extension
of collective action, consider much more seriously than they do at
present the organisation of collective thought. How, for instance, are
we to prevent or minimise the danger that a body of officials will
develop 'official' habits of thought, and a sense of a corporate
interest opposed to that of the majority of the people? If a sufficient
proportion of the ablest and best equipped young men of each generation
are to be induced to come into the Government service they must be
offered salaries which place them at once among the well-to-do classes.
How are we to prevent them siding consciously or unconsciously on all
questions of administration with their economic equals? If they do, the
danger is not only that social reform will be delayed, but also that
working men in England may acquire that hatred and distrust of highly
educated permanent officials which one notices in any gathering of
working men in America.

We are sometimes told, now that good education is open to every one,
that men of every kind of social origin and class sympathy will enter to
an increasing extent the higher Civil Service. If that takes place it
will be an excellent thing, but meanwhile any one who follows the
development of the existing examination system knows that care is
required to guard against the danger that preference in marking may, if
only from official tradition, be given to subjects like Greek and Latin
composition, whose educational value is not higher than others, but
excellence in which is hardly ever acquired except by members of one
social class.

It would, of course, be ruinous to sacrifice intellectual efficiency to
the dogma of promotion from the ranks, and the statesmen of 1870 were
perhaps right in thinking that promotion from the second to the first
division of the service would be in their time so rare as to be
negligible. But things have changed since then. The competition for the
second division has become incomparably more severe, and there is no
reasonable test under which some of those second class officials who
have continued their education by means of reading and University
teaching in the evening would not show, at thirty years of age, a
greater fitness for the highest work than would be shown by many of
those who had entered by the more advanced examination.

But however able our officials are, and however varied their origin, the
danger of the narrowness and rigidity which has hitherto so generally
resulted from official life would still remain, and must be guarded
against by every kind of encouragement to free intellectual
development. The German Emperor did good service the other day when he
claimed (in a semi-official communication on the Tweedmouth letter) that
the persons who are Kings and Ministers in their official capacity have
as Fachmänner (experts) other and wider rights in the republic of
thought. One only wishes that he would allow his own officials after
their day's work to regroup themselves, in the healthy London fashion,
with labour leaders, and colonels, and schoolmasters, and court ladies,
and members of parliament, as individualists or socialists, or
protectors of African aborigines, or theosophists, or advocates of a
free stage or a free ritual.

The intellectual life of the government official is indeed becoming part
of a problem which every year touches us all more closely. In literature
and science as well as in commerce and industry the independent producer
is dying out and the official is taking his place. We are nearly all of
us officials now, bound during our working days, whether we write on a
newspaper, or teach in a university, or keep accounts in a bank, by
restrictions on our personal freedom in the interest of a larger
organisation. We are little influenced by that direct and obvious
economic motive which drives a small shopkeeper or farmer or country
solicitor to a desperate intensity of scheming how to outstrip his
rivals or make more profit out of his employees. If we merely desire to
do as little work and enjoy as much leisure as possible in our lives, we
all find that it pays us to adopt that steady unanxious 'stroke' which
neither advances nor retards promotion.

The indirect stimulus, therefore, of interest and variety, of public
spirit and the craftsman's delight in his skill, is becoming more
important to us as a motive for the higher forms of mental effort, and
threats and promises of decrease or increase of salary less important.
And because those higher efforts are needed not only for the advantage
of the community but for the good of our own souls we are all of us
concerned in teaching those distant impersonal masters of ours who are
ourselves how to prevent the opportunity of effective thought from being
confined to a tiny rich minority, living, like the Cyclops, in
irresponsible freedom. If we consciously accept the fact that organised
work will in future be the rule and unorganised work the exception, and
if we deliberately adjust our methods of working as well as our personal
ideals to that condition, we need no longer feel that the direction of
public business must be divided between an uninstructed and unstable
body of politicians and a selfish and pedantic bureaucracy.



I have discussed, in the three preceding chapters, the probable effect
of certain existing intellectual tendencies on our ideals of political
conduct, our systems of representation, and the methods which we adopt
for securing intellectual initiative and efficiency among our
professional officials--that is to say, on the internal organisation of
the State.

In this chapter I propose to discuss the effect of the same tendencies
on international and inter-racial relations. But, as soon as one leaves
the single State and deals with the interrelation of several States, one
meets with the preliminary question, What is a State? Is the British
Empire, or the Concert of Europe, one State or many? Every community in
either area now exerts political influence on every other, and the
telegraph and the steamship have abolished most of the older limitations
on the further development and extension of that influence. Will the
process of coalescence go on either in feeling or in constitutional
form, or are there any permanent causes tending to limit the
geographical or racial sphere of effective political solidarity, and
therefore the size and composition of States?

Aristotle, writing under the conditions of the ancient world, laid it
down that a community whose population extended to a hundred thousand
would no more be a State than would one whose population was confined to
ten.[95] He based his argument on measurable facts as to the human senses
and the human memory. The territory of a State must be 'visible as a
whole' by one eye, and the assembly attended by all the full citizens
must be able to hear one voice--which must be that of an actual man and
not of the legendary Stentor. The governing officials must be able to
remember the faces and characters of all their fellow citizens.[96] He
did not ignore the fact that nearly all the world's surface as he knew
it was occupied by States enormously larger than his rule allowed. But
he denied that the great barbarian monarchies were in the truest sense
'States' at all.

[95] _Ethics_, IX., X. 3. [Greek: oúte gàr ek déka anthrôpôn génoit' àn
pólis, oút' ek déka myriádôn éti pólis estín.]

[96] Aristotle, _Polit._, Bk. VII. ch. iv.

We ourselves are apt to forget that the facts on which Aristotle relied
were both real and important. The history of the Greek and mediaeval
City-States shows how effective a stimulus may be given to some of the
highest activities and emotions of mankind when the whole environment
of each citizen comes within the first-hand range of his senses and
memory. It is now only here and there, in villages outside the main
stream of civilisation, that men know the faces of their neighbours and
see daily as part of one whole the fields and cottages in which they
work and rest. Yet, even now, when a village is absorbed by a sprawling
suburb or overwhelmed by the influx of a new industrial population, some
of the older inhabitants feel that they are losing touch with the deeper
realities of life.

A year ago I stood with a hard-walking and hard-thinking old Yorkshire
schoolmaster on the high moorland edge of Airedale. Opposite to us was
the country-house where Charlotte Brontë was governess, and below us
ran the railway, linking a string of manufacturing villages which
already were beginning to stretch out towards each other, and threatened
soon to extend through the valley an unbroken succession of tall
chimneys and slate roofs. He told me how, within his memory, the old
affection for place and home had disappeared from the district. I asked
whether he thought that a new affection was possible, whether, now that
men lived in the larger world of knowledge and inference, rather than in
the narrower world of sight and hearing, a patriotism of books and maps
might not appear which should be a better guide to life than the
patriotism of the village street.

This he strongly denied; as the older feeling went, nothing, he said,
had taken its place, or would take its place, but a naked and restless
individualism, always seeking for personal satisfaction, and always
missing it. And then, almost in the words of Morris and Ruskin, he began
to urge that we should pay a cheap price if we could regain the true
riches of life by forgetting steam and electricity, and returning to the
agriculture of the mediaeval village and the handicrafts of the
mediaeval town.

He knew and I knew that his plea was hopeless. Even under the old
conditions the Greek and Italian and Flemish City-States perished,
because they were too small to protect themselves against larger though
less closely organised communities; and industrial progress is an
invader even more irresistible than the armies of Macedon or Spain. For
a constantly increasing proportion of the inhabitants of modern England
there is now no place where in the old sense they 'live.' Nearly the
whole of the class engaged in the direction of English industry, and a
rapidly increasing proportion of the manual workers, pass daily in tram
or train between sleeping-place and working-place a hundred times more
sights than their eyes can take in or their memory retain. They are, to
use Mr. Wells's phrase, 'delocalised.'[97]

[97] _Mankind in the Making_, p. 406.

But now that we can no longer use the range of our senses as a basis
for calculating the possible area of the civilised State, there might
seem to be no facts at all which can be used for such a calculation. How
can we fix the limits of effective intercommunication by steam or
electricity, or the area which can be covered by such political
expedients as representation and federalism? When Aristotle wished to
illustrate the relation of the size of the State to the powers of its
citizens he compared it to a ship, which, he said, must not be too large
to be handled by the muscles of actual men. 'A ship of two furlongs
length would not be a ship at all.'[98] But the _Lusitania_ is already
not very far from a furlong and a half in length, and no one can even
guess what is the upward limit of size which the ship-builders of a
generation hence will have reached. If once we assume that a State may
be larger than the field of vision of a single man, then the merely
mechanical difficulty of bringing the whole earth under a government as
effective as that of the United States or the British Empire has already
been overcome. If such a government is impossible, its impossibility
must be due to the limits not of our senses and muscles but of our
powers of imagination and sympathy.

[98] Aristotle, _Polit._, Bk. VII. ch. iv.

I have already pointed out[99] that the modern State must exist for the
thoughts and feelings of its citizens, not as a fact of direct
observation but as an entity of the mind, a symbol, a personification,
or an abstraction. The possible area of the State will depend,
therefore, mainly on the facts which limit our creation and use of such
entities. Fifty years ago the statesmen who were reconstructing Europe
on the basis of nationality thought that they had found the relevant
facts in the causes which limit the physical and mental homogeneity of
nations. A State, they thought, if it is to be effectively governed,
must be a homogeneous 'nation,' because no citizen can imagine his State
or make it the object of his political affection unless he believes in
the existence of a national type to which the individual inhabitants of
the State are assimilated; and he cannot continue to believe in the
existence of such a type unless in fact his fellow-citizens are like
each other and like himself in certain important respects. Bismarck
deliberately limited the area of his intended German Empire by a
quantitative calculation as to the possibility of assimilating other
Germans to the Prussian type. He always opposed the inclusion of
Austria, and for a long time the inclusion of Bavaria, on the ground
that while the Prussian type was strong enough to assimilate the Saxons
and Hanoverians to itself, it would fail to assimilate Austrians and
Bavarians. He said, for instance, in 1866: 'We cannot use these
Ultramontanes, and we must not swallow more than we can digest.'[100]

[99] Part I. ch. ii. pp. 72, 73, and 77-81.

[100] _Bismarck_ (J.W. Headlam), p. 269.

Mazzini believed, with Bismarck, that no State could be well governed
unless it consisted of a homogeneous nation. But Bismarck's policy of
the artificial assimilation of the weaker by the stronger type seemed to
him the vilest form of tyranny; and he based his own plans for the
reconstruction of Europe upon the purpose of God, as revealed by the
existing correspondence of national uniformities with geographical
facts. 'God,' he said, 'divided humanity into distinct groups or nuclei
upon the face of the earth.... Evil governments have disfigured the
Divine design. Nevertheless you may still trace it, distinctly marked
out--at least as far as Europe is concerned--by the course of the great
rivers, the direction of the higher mountains, and other geographical

[101] _Life, and Writings_ (Smith, Elder, 1891), vol. iv. (written
1858), p. 275.

Both Mazzini and Bismarck, therefore, opposed with all their strength
the humanitarianism of the French Revolution, the philosophy which, as
Canning said, 'reduced the nation into individuals in order afterwards
to congregate them into mobs.'[102] Mazzini attacked the 'cosmopolitans,'
who preached that all men should love each other without distinction of
nationality, on the ground that they were asking for a psychological
impossibility. No man, he argued, can imagine, and therefore no one can
love, mankind, if mankind means to him all the millions of individual
human beings. Already in 1836 he denounced the original Carbonari for
this reason: 'The cosmopolitan,' he then said, 'alone in the midst of
the immense circle by which he is surrounded, whose boundaries extend
beyond the limits of his vision; possessed of no other weapons than the
consciousness of his rights (often misconceived) and his individual
faculties--which, however powerful, are incapable of extending their
activity over the whole sphere of application constituting the aim ...
has but two paths before him. He is compelled to choose between
despotism and inertia.'[103] He quotes the Breton fisherman who, as he
puts out to sea, prays to God, 'Help me my God! My boat is so small and
Thy ocean so wide.'[104]

[102] Canning, _Life_ by Stapleton, p. 341 (speech at Liverpool, 1818).

[103] Mazzini, _Life and Writings_ (Smith, Elder, 1891), vol. iii. p. 8.

[104] _Ibid._, vol. iv. p. 274.

For Mazzini the divinely indicated nation stood therefore between the
individual man and the unimaginable multitude of the human race. A man
could comprehend and love his nation because it consisted of beings like
himself 'speaking the same language, gifted with the same tendencies and
educated by the same historical tradition,'[105] and could be thought of
as a single national entity. The nation was 'the intermediate term
between humanity and the individual,'[106] and man could only attain to
the conception of humanity by picturing it to himself as a mosaic of
homogeneous nations. 'Nations are the citizens of humanity as
individuals are the citizens of the nation,'[107] and again, 'The pact of
humanity cannot be signed by individuals, but only by free and equal
peoples, possessing a name, a banner, and the consciousness of a
distinct existence.'[108]

[105] _Ibid._, vol. iv. p. 276 (written 1858).

[106] _Ibid._, vol. v. p. 273.

[107] Mazzini, _Life and Writings_ (Smith, Elder, 1891), vol. v. p. 274
(written 1849).

[108] _Ibid_., vol. iii. p. 15 (written 1836).

Nationalism, as interpreted either by Bismarck or by Mazzini, played a
great and invaluable part in the development of the political
consciousness of Europe during the nineteenth century. But it is
becoming less and less possible to accept it as a solution for the
problems of the twentieth century. We cannot now assert with Mazzini,
that the 'indisputable tendency of our epoch' is towards a
reconstitution of Europe into a certain number of homogeneous national
States 'as nearly as possible equal in population and extent'[109]
Mazziui, indeed, unconsciously but enormously exaggerated the simplicity
of the question even in his own time. National types throughout the
greater part of south-eastern Europe were not even then divided into
homogeneous units by 'the course of the great rivers and the direction
of the high mountains,' but were intermingled from village to village;
and events have since forced us to admit that fact. We no longer, for
instance, can believe, as Mr. Swinburne and the other English disciples
of Mazzini and of Kossuth seem to have believed in the eighteen sixties,
that Hungary is inhabited only by a homogeneous population of patriotic
Magyars. We can see that Mazzini was already straining his principle to
the breaking point when he said in 1852: 'It is in the power of Greece
... to become, by extending itself to Constantinople, a powerful barrier
against the European encroachments of Russia.'[110] In Macedonia to-day
bands of Bulgarian and Greek patriots, both educated in the pure
tradition of Mazzinism, are attempting to exterminate the rival
populations in order to establish their own claim to represent the
purposes of God as indicated by the position of the Balkan mountains.
Mazzini himself would, perhaps, were he living now, admit that, if the
Bismarckian policy of artificial assimilation is to be rejected, there
must continue to be some States in Europe which contain inhabitants
belonging to widely different national types.

[109] _Ibid._, vol. v. p. 275.

[110] _Life and Writings_ (Smith, Elder, 1891), vol. vi. p. 258.

Bismarck's conception of an artificial uniformity created by 'blood and
iron' corresponded more closely than did Mazzini's to the facts of the
nineteenth century. But its practicability depended upon the assumption
that the members of the dominant nationality would always vehemently
desire to impose their own type on the rest. Now that the
Social-Democrats, who are a not inconsiderable proportion of the
Prussian population, apparently admire their Polish or Bavarian or
Danish fellow-subjects all the more because they cling to their own
national characteristics, Prince Bülow's Bismarckian dictum the other
day, that the strength of Germany depends on the existence and dominance
of an intensely national Prussia, seemed a mere political survival. The
same change of feeling has also shown itself in the United Kingdom, and
both the English parties have now tacitly or explicitly abandoned that
Anglicisation of Ireland and Wales, which all parties once accepted as a
necessary part of English policy.

A still more important difficulty in applying the principle that the
area of the State should be based on homogeneity of national type,
whether natural or artificial, has been created by the rapid extension
during the last twenty-five years of all the larger European states into
non-European territory. Neither Mazzini, till his death in 1872, nor
Bismarck, till the colonial adventure of 1884, was compelled to take
into his calculations the inclusion of territories and peoples outside
Europe. Neither of them, therefore, made any effective intellectual
preparation for those problems which have been raised in our time by
'the scramble for the world.' Mazzini seems, indeed, to have vaguely
expected that nationality would spread from Europe into Asia and Africa,
and that the 'pact of humanity' would ultimately be 'signed' by
homogeneous and independent 'nations,' who would cover the whole land
surface of the globe. But he never indicated the political forces by
which that result was to be brought about. The Italian invasion of
Abyssinia in 1896 might have been represented either as a necessary
stage in the Mazzinian policy of spreading the idea of nationality to
Africa, or as a direct contradiction of that idea itself.

Bismarck, with his narrower and more practical intellect, never looked
forward, as Mazzini did, to a 'pact of humanity,' which should include
even the nations of Europe, and, indeed, always protested against the
attempt to conceive of any relation whatsoever, moral or political, as
existing between any State and the States or populations outside its
boundaries. 'The only sound principle of action,' he said, 'for a great
State is political egoism.'[111] When, therefore, after Bismarck's death
German sailors and soldiers found themselves in contact with the
defenceless inhabitants of China or East Africa, they were, as the
Social-Democrats quickly pointed out, provided with no conception of the
situation more highly developed than that which was acted upon in the
fifth century A.D., by Attila and his Huns.

[111] Speech, 1850, quoted by J.W. Headlam, _Bismarck_, p. 83.

The modern English imperialists tried for some time to apply the idea of
national homogeneity to the facts of the British Empire. From the
publication of Seeley's _Expansion of England_ in 1883 till the Peace of
Vereeniging in 1902 they strove to believe in the existence of a
'Blood,' an 'Island Race,' consisting of homogeneous English-speaking
individuals, among whom were to be reckoned not only the whole
population of the United Kingdom, but all the reasonably white
inhabitants of our colonies and dependencies; while they thought of the
other inhabitants of the Empire as 'the white man's burden'--the
necessary material for the exercise of the white man's virtues. The
idealists among them, when they were forced to realise that such a
homogeneity of the whites did not yet exist, persuaded themselves that
it would come peacefully and inevitably as a result of the reading of
imperial poems and the summoning of an imperial council. The Bismarckian
realists among them believed that it would be brought about, in South
Africa and elsewhere, by 'blood and iron.' Lord Milner, who is perhaps
the most loyal adherent of the Bismarckian tradition to be found out of
Germany, contended even at Vereeniging against peace with the Boers on
any terms except such an unconditional surrender as would involve the
ultimate Anglicisation of the South African colonies. He still dreams of
a British Empire whose egoism shall be as complete as that of Bismarck's
Prussia, and warns us in 1907, in the style of 1887, against those
'ideas of our youth' which were 'at once too insular and too

[112] _Times_, Dec. 19, 1907.

But in the minds of most of our present imperialists, imperial egoism is
now deprived of its only possible psychological basis. It is to be based
not upon national homogeneity but upon the consciousness of national
variation. The French in Canada are to remain intensely French, and the
Dutch in South Africa intensely Dutch; though both are to be divided
from the world outside the British Empire by an unbridgeable moral
chasm. To imperialism so conceived facts lend no support. The loyal
acceptance of British Imperial citizenship by Sir Wilfred Laurier or
General Botha constitutes something more subtle, something, to adapt
Lord Milner's phrase, less insular but more cosmopolitan than imperial
egoism. It does not, for instance, involve an absolute indifference to
the question whether France or Holland shall be swallowed up by the sea.

At the same time the non-white races within the Empire show no signs of
enthusiastic contentment at the prospect of existing, like the English
'poor' during the eighteenth century, as the mere material of other
men's virtues. They too have their own vague ideas of nationality; and
if those ideas do not ultimately break up our Empire, it will be because
they are enlarged and held in check, not by the sentiment of imperial
egoism, but by those wider religious and ethical conceptions which pay
little heed to imperial or national frontiers. It may, however, be
objected by our imperial 'Real-politiker' that cosmopolitan feeling is
at this moment both visionary and dangerous, not because, as Mazzini
thought, it is psychologically impossible, but because of the plain
facts of our military position. Our Empire, they say, will have to fight
for its existence against a German or a Russian Empire or both together
during the next generation, and our only chance of success is to create
that kind of imperial sentiment which has fighting value. If the white
inhabitants of the Empire are encouraged to think of themselves as a
'dominant race,' that is to say as both a homogeneous nation and a
natural aristocracy, they will soon be hammered by actual fighting into
a Bismarckian temper of imperial 'egoism.' Among the non-white
inhabitants of the Empire (since either side in the next inter-imperial
war will, after its first serious defeat, abandon the convention of only
employing European troops against Europeans) we must discover and drill
those races who like the Gurkhas and the Soudanese, may be expected to
fight for us and to hate our enemies without asking for political
rights. In any case we, like Bismarck, must extirpate, as the most fatal
solvent of empire, that humanitarianism which concerns itself with the
interests of our future opponents as well as those of our

This sort of argument might of course be met by a _reductio ad
absurdum_. If the policy of imperial egoism is a successful one it will
be adopted by all empires alike, and whether we desire it or not, the
victor in each inter-imperial war will take over the territory of the
loser. After centuries of warfare and the steady retrogression, in the
waste of blood and treasure and loyalty, of modern civilisation, two
empires, England and Germany, or America and China, may remain. Both
will possess an armament which represents the whole 'surplus value,'
beyond mere subsistence, created by its inhabitants. Both will contain
white and yellow and brown and black men hating each other across a
wavering line on the map of the world. But the struggle will go on, and,
as the result of a naval Armageddon in the Pacific, only one Empire will
exist. 'Imperial egoism,' having worked itself out to its logical
conclusion, will have no further meaning, and the inhabitants of the
globe, diminished to half their number, will be compelled to consider
the problems of race and of the organised exploitation of the globe from
the point of view of mere humanitarianism.

Is the suggestion completely wanting in practicability that we might
begin that consideration before the struggle goes any further? Fifteen
hundred years ago, in south-eastern Europe, men who held the Homoousian
opinion of the Trinity were gathered in arms against the Homoiousians.
The generals and other 'Real-politiker' on both sides may have feared,
like Lord Milner, lest their followers should become 'too cosmopolitan,'
too ready to extend their sympathies across the frontiers of theology.
'This' a Homoousian may have said 'is a practical matter. Unless our
side learn by training themselves in theological egoism to hate the
other side, we shall be beaten in the next battle.' And yet we can now
see that the practical interests of Europe were very little concerned
with the question whether 'we' or 'they' won, but very seriously
concerned with the question whether the division itself into 'we' or
'they' could not be obliterated by the discovery either of a less clumsy
metaphysic or of a way of thinking about humanity which made the
continued existence of those who disagreed with one in theology no
longer intolerable. May the Germans and ourselves be now marching
towards the horrors of a world-war merely because 'nation' and 'empire'
like 'Homoousia' and 'Homoiousia' are the best that we can do in making
entities of the mind to stand between us and an unintelligible universe,
and because having made such entities our sympathies are shut up within

I have already urged, when considering the conditions of political
reasoning, that many of the logical difficulties arising from our
tendency to divide the infinite stream of our thoughts and sensations
into homogeneous classes and species are now unnecessary and have been
avoided in our time by the students of the natural sciences. Just as the
modern artist substitutes without mental confusion his ever-varying
curves and surfaces for the straight and simple lines of the savage, so
the scientific imagination has learnt to deal with the varying facts of
nature without thinking of them as separate groups, each composed of
identical individuals and represented to us by a single type.

Can we learn so to think of the varying individuals of the whole human
race? Can we do, that is to say, what Mazzini declared to be impossible?
And if we can, shall we be able to love the fifteen hundred million
different human beings of whom we are thus enabled to think?

To the first question the publication of the _Origin of Species_ in 1859
offered an answer. Since then we have in fact been able to represent the
human race to our imagination, neither as a chaos of arbitrarily varying
individuals, nor as a mosaic of homogeneous nations, but as a biological
group, every individual in which differs from every other not
arbitrarily but according to an intelligible process of organic
evolution.[113] And, since that which exists for the imagination can
exist also for the emotions, it might have been hoped that the second
question would also have been answered by evolution, and that the
warring egoisms of nations and empires might henceforth have been
dissolved by love for that infinitely varying multitude whom we can
watch as they work their way through so much pain and confusion towards
a more harmonious relation to the universe.

[113] Sir Sydney Olivier, e.g. in his courageous and penetrating book
_White Capital and Coloured Labour_ considers (in chap. ii.) the racial
distinctions between black and white from the point of view of
evolution. This consideration brings him at once to 'the infinite,
inexhaustible distinctness of personality between individuals, so much a
fundamental fact of life that one almost would say that the amalgamating
race-characteristics are merely incrustations concealing this sparkling
variety' (pp. 12, 13).

But it was the intellectual tragedy of the nineteenth century that the
discovery of organic evolution, instead of stimulating such a general
love of humanity, seemed at first to show that it was for ever
impossible. Progress, it appeared, had been always due to a ruthless
struggle for life, which must still continue unless progress was to
cease. Pity and love would turn the edge of the struggle, and therefore
would lead inevitably to the degeneration of the species.

This grim conception of an internecine conflict, inevitable and
unending, in which all races must play their part, hung for a generation
after 1859 over the study of world-politics as the fear of a cooling sun
hung over physics, and the fear of a population to be checked only by
famine and war hung over the first century of political economy. Before
Darwin wrote, it had been possible for philanthropists to think of the
non-white races as 'men and brothers' who, after a short process of
education, would become in all respects except colour identical with
themselves. Darwin made it clear that the difficulty could not be so
glossed over. Racial variations were shown to be unaffected by
education, to have existed for millions of years, and to be tending
perhaps towards divergence rather than assimilation.

The practical problem also of race relationship has by a coincidence
presented itself since Darwin wrote in a sterner form. During the first
half of the nineteenth century the European colonists who were in daily
contact with non-European races, although their impulses and their
knowledge alike revolted from the optimistic ethnology of Exeter Hall,
yet could escape all thought about their own position by assuming that
the problem would settle itself. To the natives of Australia or Canada
or the Hottentots of South Africa trade automatically brought disease,
and disease cleared the land for a stronger population. But the weakest
races and individuals have now died out, the surviving population are
showing unexpected powers of resisting the white man's epidemics, and we
are adding every year to our knowledge of, and therefore our
responsibility for, the causation of infection. We are nearing the time
when the extermination of races, if it is done at all, must be done

But if the extermination is to be both inevitable and deliberate how can
there exist a community either of affection or purpose between the
killers and the killed? No one at this moment professes, as far as I
know, to have an easy and perfect answer to this question. The point of
ethics lies within the region claimed by religion. But Christianity,
which at present is the religion chiefly concerned, has conspicuously
failed even to produce a tolerable working compromise. The official
Christian theory is, apparently, that all human souls are of equal
value, and that it ought to be a matter of indifference to us whether a
given territory is inhabited a thousand years hence by a million
converted Central African pigmies or a million equally converted
Europeans or Hindus. On the practical point, however, whether the
stronger race should base its plans of extension on the extermination of
the weaker race, or on an attempt, within the limits of racial
possibility, to improve it, Christians have, during the nineteenth
century, been infinitely more ruthless than Mohammedans, though their
ruthlessness has often been disguised by more or less conscious

But the most immediately dangerous result of political 'Darwinism' was
not its effect in justifying the extermination of African aborigines by
European colonists, but the fact that the conception of the 'struggle
for life' could be used as a proof that that conflict among the European
nations for the control of the trade-routes of the world which has been
threatening for the last quarter of a century is for each of the nations
concerned both a scientific necessity and a moral duty. Lord Ampthill,
for instance, the athletic ex-governor of Madras, said the other day:
'From an individual struggle, a struggle of families, of communities,
and nations, the struggle for existence has now advanced to a struggle
of empires.'[114]

[114] _Times_, Jan. 22, 1908.

The exhilaration with which Lord Ampthill proclaims that one-half of the
species must needs slaughter the other half in the cause of human
progress is particularly terrifying when one reflects that he may have
to conduct negotiations as a member of the next Conservative Government
with a German statesman like Prince Büllow, who seems to combine the
teaching of Bismarck with what he understands to have been the teaching
of Darwin when he defends the Polish policy of his master by a
declaration that the rules of private morality do not apply to national

Any such identification of the biological advantage arising from the
'struggle for life' among individuals with that which is to be expected
from a 'struggle of empires' is, of course, thoroughly unscientific. The
'struggle of empires' must either be fought out between European troops
alone, or between Europeans in combination with their non-European
allies and subjects. If it takes the first form, and if we assume, as
Lord Ampthill probably does, that the North European racial type is
'higher' than any other, then the slaughter of half a million selected
Englishmen and half a million selected Germans will clearly be an act
of biological retrogression. Even if the non-European races are brought
in and a corresponding number of selected Turks and Arabs and Tartars,
or of Gurkhas and Pathans and Soudanese are slaughtered, the biological
loss to the world, as measured by the percentage of surviving 'higher'
or 'lower' individuals will only be slightly diminished.

Nor is that form of the argument much better founded which contends that
the evolutionary advantage to be expected from the 'struggle of empires'
is the 'survival' not of races but of political and cultural types. Our
victory over the German Empire, for instance, would mean, it is said, a
victory for the idea of political liberty. This argument, which, when
urged by the rulers of India, sounds somewhat temerarious, requires the
assumption that types of culture are in the modern world most
successfully spread by military occupation. But in the ancient world
Greek culture spread most rapidly after the fall of the Greek Empire;
Japan in our own time adopted Western culture more readily as an
independent nation than she would have done as a dependency of Russia or
France; and India is perhaps more likely to-day to learn from Japan than
from England.

Lord Ampthill's phrase, however, represents not so much an argument, as
a habit of feeling shared by many who have forgotten or never known the
biological doctrine which it echoes. The first followers of Darwin
believed that the human species had been raised above its prehuman
ancestors because, and in so far as, it had surrendered itself to a
blind instinct of conflict. It seemed, therefore, as if the old moral
precept that men should control their more violent impulses by
reflection had been founded upon a mistake. Unreflecting instinct was,
after all, the best guide, and nations who acted instinctively towards
their neighbours might justify themselves like the Parisian ruffians of
ten years ago, by claiming to be 'strugforlifeurs.'

If this habit of mind is to be destroyed it must be opposed not merely
by a new argument but by a conception of man's relation to the universe
which creates emotional force as well as intellectual conviction.

And the change that has already shown itself in our conception of the
struggle for life among individuals indicates that, by some divine
chance, a corresponding change may come in our conception of the
struggle between peoples. The evolutionists of our own time tell us that
the improvement of the biological inheritance of any community is to be
hoped for, not from the encouragement of individual conflict, but from
the stimulation of the higher social impulses under the guidance of the
science of eugenics; and the emotional effect of this new conception is
already seen in the almost complete disappearance from industrial
politics of that unwillingly brutal 'individualism' which afflicted
kindly Englishmen in the eighteen sixties.

An international science of eugenics might in the same way indicate
that the various races should aim, not at exterminating each other, but
at encouraging the improvement by each of its own racial type. Such an
idea would not appeal to those for whom the whole species arranges
itself in definite and obvious grades of 'higher' and 'lower,' from the
northern Europeans downwards, and who are as certain of the ultimate
necessity of a 'white world' as the Sydney politicians are of the
necessity of a 'white Australia.' But in this respect during the last
few years the inhabitants of Europe have shown signs of a new humility,
due partly to widespread intellectual causes and partly to the hard
facts of the Russo-Japanese war and the arming of China. The 'spheres of
influence' into which we divided the Far East eight years ago, seem to
us now a rather stupid joke, and those who read history are already
bitterly ashamed that we destroyed by the sack of the Summer Palace in
1859, the products of a thousand years of such art as we can never hope
to emulate. We are coming honestly to believe that the world is richer
for the existence both of other civilisations and of other racial types
than our own. We have been compelled by the study of the Christian
documents to think of our religion as one only among the religions of
the world, and to acknowledge that it has owed much and may owe much
again to the longer philosophic tradition and the subtler and more
patient brains of Hindustan and Persia. Even if we look at the future of
the species as a matter of pure biology, we are warned by men of science
that it is not safe to depend only on one family or one variety for the
whole breeding-stock of the world. For the moment we shrink from the
interbreeding of races, but we do so in spite of some conspicuous
examples of successful interbreeding in the past, and largely because of
our complete ignorance of the conditions on which success depends.

Already, therefore, it is possible without intellectual dishonesty to
look forward to a future for the race which need not be reached through
a welter of blood and hatred. We can imagine the nations settling the
racial allocation of the temperate or tropical breeding-grounds, or even
deliberately placing the males and females of the few hopelessly
backward tribes on different islands, without the necessity that the
most violent passions of mankind should be stimulated in preparation for
a general war. No one now expects an immediate, or prophesies with
certainty an ultimate, Federation of the Globe; but the consciousness of
a common purpose in mankind, or even the acknowledgment that such a
common purpose is possible, would alter the face of world-politics at
once. The discussion at the Hague of a halt in the race of armaments
would no longer seem Utopian, and the strenuous profession by the
colonising powers that they have no selfish ends in view might be
transformed from a sordid and useless hypocrisy into a fact to which
each nation might adjust its policy. The irrational race-hatred which
breaks out from time to time on the fringes of empire, would have little
effect in world politics when opposed by a consistent conception of the
future of human progress.

Meanwhile, it is true, the military preparations for a death-struggle of
empires still go on, and the problem even of peaceful immigration
becomes yearly more threatening, now that shipping companies can land
tens of thousands of Chinese or Indian labourers for a pound or two a
head at any port in the world. But when we think of such things we need
no longer feel ourselves in the grip of a Fate that laughs at human
purpose and human kindliness. An idea of the whole existence of our
species is at last a possible background to our individual experience.
Its emotional effect may prove to be not less than that of the visible
temples and walls of the Greek cities, although it is formed not from
the testimony of our eyesight, but from the knowledge which we acquire
in our childhood and confirm by the half-conscious corroboration of our
daily life.

We all of us, plain folk and learned alike, now make a picture for
ourselves of the globe with its hemispheres of light and shadow, from
every point of which the telegraph brings us hourly news, and which may
already be more real to us than the fields and houses past which we
hurry in the train. We can all see it, hanging and turning in the
monstrous emptiness of the skies, and obedient to forces whose action we
can watch hundreds of light-years away and feel in the beating of our
hearts. The sharp new evidence of the camera brings every year nearer to
us its surface of ice and rock and plain, and the wondering eyes of
alien peoples.

It may be that we shall long continue to differ as to the full
significance of this vision. But now that we can look at it without
helpless pain it may stir the deepest impulses of our being. To some of
us it may bring confidence in that Love that Dante saw, 'which moves the
Sun and the other Stars.' To each of us it may suggest a kinder pity for
all the bewildered beings who hand on from generation to generation the
torch of conscious life.


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Acland, Mr.,
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Darwin, Charles,
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Lyell, Sir Charles,

Lyndhurst, Lord,

MacCulloch, J.R.,
Macewen, Sir William,
Macaulay, Lord,
  and East India Company,
  Essay in _Edinburgh Review_ on Benthamism,
Marshall, Professor,
Marx, Karl,
Mazzini, Joseph, attack on cosmopolitanism,
  on geographical division of humanity,
Mendel, Abbot,
Merivale, Mr. Herman,
Mill, James,
    on mankind in the average,
    opposition to the Ballot of,
Milner, Lord,
Molesworth, Sir W.,
More, Sir Thomas, Republic of,
Morgan, Professor Lloyd,
Morley, Lord,
  on W.K. Gladstone,
Morris, William,
Municipal Representation Bill,

Napoleon I. and psychology of war,
Negro Suffrage in United States,
Nevinson, Mr. H.W.,
Newman, J.H.,
  on sonification,
Nicholas H.,
North, Lord,
Northcote, Sir Stafford,

Olivier, Sir Sydney,
Ostrogorski, Professor,
Owen, Robert,

Paine, Thomas,
Pal, Mr. Chandra,
Palmerston, Lord,
Pankhurst, Mrs.,
Parnell, C.S.,
Parramatta Tea,
Party as a political entity,
Pearson, Professor Karl,
Peel, Sir Robert,
Place, Francis,
  'cave of illusion' of,
  his 'harmony of the Soul' in modern political life,
  on basis of government,
  on government by consent,
  on idea of perfect man,
  on the public,
  religion in the Republic of,
  Republic of,
Playfair Commission,
Poor Law Commission of 1834,
  of 1905
Proportional Representation and Lord Courtney,

Race Problem and representative democracy,
  in international politics,
  in India,
Reform Act of 1867
Religion of Comte,
  in Plato's Republic,
Representative democracy and India,
  and race problem,
  in Egypt,
  in England,
  in United States,
Roosevelt, Theodore,
Rousseau, J.J., and pedagogy,
  on human rights,
Rural Parish Councils,
Ruskin, John,

Samuel, Mr. Herbert,
Schnadhorst, Mr.,
Science, as an entity,
Seeley, J.R., _Expansion of England_ of,
Senior, Nassau,
  _Political Economy_ of,
Socialism, conception of as a working creed,
  curve of,
Somerset House,
Spencer, Mr. Herbert,
Stein, H.F.,
Stephen, Sir James,
Suffrage, for women at 1906 election,
  universal, Prince Bülow's attack on,
Swift, Dean,
Swinburne, A.C.,

Tammany Hall,
Tarde, G.,
Tennyson, Lord,
Togo, Admiral,
Trevelyan, Sir Charles,
Trial by Jury, development of
Tyrrell, Father,

United Kingdom, proportion of elected to electors in,
United States and Negro Suffrage,
  and representative democracy,

Vaux, Madame De,
Vereeniging, Peace of,
Victoria, Queen,
  on competition for Indian Army commissions,
  portrait of,
  on coins,
Virgin of Kevlaar,

War Office Council,
Wells, Mr. H.G., on delocalised population,
  on representative democracy,
  on 'sense of the State,'
  on uniqueness of the individual
Whately, Archbishop
Women's Suffrage at 1906 election
  methods of suffragists,
Wood, Mr. M'Kinnon,
Wordsworth, _Prelude_ of,

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