National-Mindedness and International-Mindedness
IN THE year 1910, in an article entitled, "The Moral Equivalent of War," William James stated the anomaly of war in the following sentences: "There is something highly paradoxical in the modern man's relation to war. Ask our millions, north and south, whether they would vote now (were such a thing possible) to have our war for the Union expunged from history, and the record of a peaceful transition to the present time substituted for that of its marches and battles, and probably hardly a handful of eccentrics would say yes. Those ancestors, those efforts, those memories and legends, are the most ideal part of what we now own together, a sacred spiritual possession worth more than all the blood poured out. Yet ask those same people whether they would be willing in cold blood to start another civil war now to gain another similar possession, and not one man or woman would vote for the proposition."
This was written for the Association for International Conciliation and was published four years before the beginning of the Great War. If the same proposition were offered to the voters of the nations who fought through that war, I doubt if there would not be as unanimous a consensus of opinion in favor of expunging that war from history and replacing it
(386) by a peaceful advance toward our present day, though there might be a tough-minded group in the community who would insist that there had been gained in the awful conflict a lesson that could never have been learned in any less terrible an experience. And that lesson they would say was the duty that lies upon the society of the human race of doing away with war. We are in no mood to cover up the criminal ineptitude of warfare by the heroisms which it displays or the ideals which it may consecrate. Yet we have not become noncombatants. The country would arm to a man in a genuine war of self-defense, but the doctrine of the recently solemnized Pact of Peace, that war as a legitimate measure of public policy has been forever damned, has the full-hearted support of the communities of the Western world. And I do not think that it is the horror of human suffering, even on the colossal scale of the Great War, that has been the controlling sentiment in this almost unanimous consensus of the communities of the world. We have learned more from the published archives of Foreign Offices than we have from the records of battlefields and atrocities.
We have learned that those who controlled public policies and finally mobilized armies were utilizing fears and hatreds and cupidities and individual greeds and jealousies which were far from representing issues over which the communities themselves wished to fight or thought they were fighting. We know that even in this day a war may arise between self-governing communities, but we know also that the issues that would lead up to this war, if they could be intelligently presented to the peoples involved, would never be left to the arbitrament of the god of battles. Even national cupidity, if it exist, realizes that under present conditions a so-called successful war will cost more than it can profit. Warfare is an utterly stupid method of settling differences of interest between different nations.
Professor James's position is this, that no people would
(387) enter upon a war for the sake of that very ideal heritage, which they would not be willing to sacrifice after the war was fought. He did not believe that in prospect any community would regard war as a spiritually profitable undertaking. The belief I have expressed is that as regards the Great War no nation in retrospect regards the spiritual results of fighting it as a sufficient price to pay for having undergone its evils. Having stated his paradox, that while a war in retrospect may have paid a spiritual dividend which renders it a great national blessing, no war in prospect can be so assessed, Professor James advances to the explanation of war's continued existence, for we do not now maintain armies and navies for the sake of "battles long ago" but in preparation for those which may be just around the corner. I am using the word spiritual as the opposite of material. It covers every value that we cannot put into economic form.
Let us be quite clear upon the issue under discussion. It is conceded by everyone that any war but a genuinely defensive war is a prospective evil which intelligent communities will avoid. We are not entering into the contentious question whether offense is not the best method of defense, nor are we, at present, undertaking to define the field which a genuinely defensive war will defend, whether this field will include national honor and peculiar interests. We will assume that these questions have been decided in a common agreement to the satisfaction of all civilized communities. It is evident that if this fortunate position were ever attained, intelligent statesmanship would without difficulty eliminate war.
And Professor James goes on to point out the spiritual losses which society will suffer if war goes. First of all come "those ancestors, those memories and legends the ideal part of what we now own together," the spiritual heritage from war. But it is not upon this that Professor James insists, for he admits that we cannot deliberately shape our conduct to reach these results. We cannot plan wars to obtain spiritual herit-
(388) -ages. The important spiritual values that he spreads out which come to us from war are the hardihood of body and mind, the willingness to pay to the uttermost for a supreme value, the ability to get out of our lesser selves, the acceptance of a supreme discipline which consistently subordinates minor ends to an ultimate end, the sense of at-oneness with all others in the community in the great enterprise, that exaltation of spirit which we all know is the loftiest experience and is so rare of attainment. For these war is in some sense a school. Professor James does not discuss the seamy side of this schooling and the immense spiritual frustrations which it involves. And indeed he is not called upon to do so, since he was a pacifist and was seeking for the moral equivalent which he thought we should provide if we abandon this schooling, however costly and unintelligent it may be. For there is in his opinion nothing in an industrial civilization, which is organized for profit and comfort, whose springs of action are competition and our efforts to get ahead of our fellows, and whose great social organizations fail to sweep the individual into emotional realization of his identity with the community -- nothing indeed in such a civilization that does or can provide this schooling. We conduct our government only by the use of political partisanship. The church anxiously avoids the major issues of the community. Loyalties to family, business, or schools, the more intense they are, the more exclusive are they.
Professor James's suggestion is that the youth of the country should be conscripted for useful labor, in which they would get the hardihood of body and mind which military training gives. It would be essential to the accomplishment of the purpose which Professor James had in mind that this labor should be felt by the conscripted youth to be necessary to the life of the community. They would have to feel that they were identified with the community in what they did, if they were to reach that emotional fusion which war under favorable conditions induces.
I do not think that Professor James regarded his suggestion so much as an immediately practicable undertaking as an illustration of the type of experience which society in some fashion must bring into the lives of citizens if they are to get the qualities and training which war gives however imperfectly. What he insists upon is that the social ends and values are there and that they should enter the lives of our citizens, and that society has within its power to work out in some fashion practicable ways in which this can be accomplished. His scheme of conscription to community labor was a striking and picturesque manner of presenting what ought to be a logical part of a pacifist program.
Nearly twenty years have passed since Professor James wrote "The Moral Equivalent of War," and within those years the Great War has been fought, and has brought forth the League of Nations, the most serious undertaking to end war which international society has ever made. The attention of the pacifist is upon other things than the "moral equivalent of war." A hopeful project has been put into actual operation, and the relations of nations have been subject to a publicity and a sort of criticism which are novel in history. We have remained outside of the League of Nations because in our history we have been largely outside of the political life of Europe that led to the great catastrophe. We have been and are unwilling to enter into that complex of national, racial, and economic problems which are so foreign to us. But the outcome of the war has none the less brought us into more intimate human and economic relations with European peoples than we have occupied in the past, and the absence of imperialism in our history and our fundamental dislike of militarism inevitably arouse a sympathy with the great experiment that is being tried out at Geneva. The pacifist has a text to preach from that that he never had before and a practical program that was inconceivable twenty years ago. The somewhat embarrassing challenge which the great psychologist put up to
(390) him, he has pushed one side in the press of more practicable undertakings. Indeed, one re-reads the essay today with a certain sense of unreality.
Following this essay in Memories and Studies is an after-dinner address given by Professor James at a peace banquet. There is there the same account of human nature, bred through long centuries to fight, the same emphasis upon the failure of the pacifists' program to come to terms with the exigencies of life, and there is the same sense of the strength of the enemy -- the rooted bellicosity of human nature and its demand for the thrill of battle. Said Professor James, "A deadly listlessness would come over most men's imagination of the future if they could seriously be brought to believe that never again in saecula saeculorum would a war trouble human history. In such a stagnant summer afternoon of a world, where would be the zest or interest?" We have had a surfeit of those thrills and have counted their cost, says the pacifist. It is not necessary to see the good in fighting any longer. The task of getting rid of it is too insistent when we have seen it and lived through it on the grand scale. There is the Peace Pact and there is the World Court, the very inception of which was American. For us to remain out of it is a scandal. In the midst of such activities, why should the pacifist stop to consider the psychology of fighting? But the challenge is still there, and it may be that the pacifist is not wisely pushing it one side, in the press of his immediately practicable undertakings. He might get a deeper insight into their import.
Let us consider the spiritual values in which war may school men and women, however costly the schooling may be. The hardihood of body and mind -- the opposite of the nature of Roosevelt's "mollycoddle" -- can conceivably be secured without the expense of warfare. The program suggests that of Charles Lamb, burning down the house to get a roast pig, but it points out sharply the criticism upon the present order of society. Our insistent motives to strenuous conduct are personal
(391) and individualistic, those of success in the competitions of business, the professions, and the social struggle. The effective public ideals are those of well-being, comfort, and that condition of body and mind in which men can enjoy life. Our social programs look to the removal of evils, sickness, misery, and drudgery. As Frederick Harrison said of the ideal of the utilitarians, they look toward a world in which everyone could be sure of smacking his lips over a good breakfast of ham and eggs. The strenuousness of life seizes upon the individual in the struggle for the means of living and competitive success, but it does not inexorably involve his public interests, until the existence of his society is threatened, and when a man becomes altruistically interested in public ends, these ends appear as the alleviation of suffering and attained enjoyments rather than as his own achievements -- the concentrated interest in mastering and controlling his world.
The other values that war may foster -- willingness to pay to the uttermost for supreme goods, the rising above our lower selves, the acceptance of a discipline which subordinates minor ends to ultimate ends, and the exaltation that rises from identification of one's self with all who are with him in the great enterprise -- that we should look away from civil life to war to arouse these is but a further reflection upon the conscious motivation of that civil life. War presents common goods in an imperative mood, which they will not assume in peaceful times, and therefore gives them a hold upon us which they never secure in philanthropic undertakings.
Professor James, however, has painted a picture of men who enjoy fighting immediately and have the zest of violent adventure in their blood through a long physiological and social heritage-- the immanent bellicosity of human nature which I think he has overdrawn. The average man does not want to fight for the sake of fighting. Threaten him and what is precious to him and the fighting complex is indeed ready to blaze out. His interest in violent adventure is easily satisfied
(392) by the movie, the detective tale, and the dramas of literature and history. Professor James was himself sympathetic with the revulsion to violence from drudgery and ennui. There is a story current that after a two days' session at a Chautauqua he exclaimed, "O, for an Armenian massacre! " But I do not think that in the interests of peace we have to combat a fundamental instinct of bloodshed. If the bare interest in slaughtering our fellows were so immediate, the campaigns of Army and Navy Leagues would be much simpler and much less expensive. The case for war does not lie in the fighting itself, but in that for which war compels us to fight.
Professor James then calls the attention of his fellow-pacifists to war as a schoolmaster that succeeds, at least on occasions, in making the public good the intense interest of the individual, in enforcing a discipline which reduces minor ends into subordination to a supreme end, and finally in arousing an exaltation of spirit that springs from identification of one's self with the community for which he is ready to make the supreme sacrifice, and points out that as long as human nature responds almost instinctively to the call to arms and as long as there is no other undertaking that accomplishes this for the whole community those who would abolish war must offer some moral equivalent for war or render a reason for the sacrifice. War on occasions makes the good of the community the supreme good of the individual. What has the pacifist who would abolish war to put in its place?
In a word we make the public good our immediate interest when it arouses the fighting spirit. Otherwise it is apt to be a philanthropic good, to reach which we must put one side our private interests. To be interested in the public good we must be disinterested, that is, not interested in goods in which our personal selves are wrapped up. In wartime we identify ourselves with the nation, and its interests are the interests of our primal selves. And in the fighting mood we find that we are in sympathetic accord with all others who are fighting for the
(393) same cause. Then we experience the thrill of marching in common enthusiasm with all those who in daily life are our competitors, our possible rivals, and opponents. The barriers are down which we erect against our neighbors and business associates. In daily life they may be hostile to our interests. We proceed warily. We protect ourselves even against our partners, associates, and employees with contracts and agreements defended with penalties. Even our good manners are means of keeping possible bores at a distance. It is sound sense to regard everyone as a possible enemy. In wartime these barriers are down. We need to feel the support of our fellows in the struggle and we grapple them to ourselves. The great issue itself is hallowed by the sense of at-oneness of a vast multitude.
It is easy to study this in everyday situations. Gather ten or fifteen of your acquaintances and make the subject of your conversation the admirable qualities and services of some one known to all. Then change the subject of converse to someone for whom all have a common dislike, and note how much warmer is the sense of at-oneness of those who are engaged in common disparagement than in encomium. The hostile attitude is peculiarly favorable to social cohesion. The solid South is the product of common hostility to the negro as a social equal. The Ku Klux Klan is a deliberate manufacture of compact groups by the use of racial and religious antipathies. I think it is worth our while to make some inquiry into this cohesive power, which the hostile impulse in human nature exercises with such absolute authority.
We have long known that behind the spiritual exaltation of wartime patriotism and the irresponsibility of mob-consciousness lies the same psychological mechanism. And this fact is a ground neither for extolling it nor for damning it. It is just a psychological mechanism which like other mechanisms has served both fine and ignoble ends. It is equally inept to define, with Dr. Johnson, patriotism as the last refuge of the scoundrel, and to exalt Judge Lynch as the embodiment of
(394) social justice. But it is both apt and obligatory upon us to examine this mechanism when we are not caught in its meshes, and are free to comprehend it; for when we are involved in it, it is next to impossible to approach it with impartial consideration. Neither the patriot in his moment of exaltation nor the member of the blind mob in his unrestrained ferocity is capable of following the dictum: Know thyself. He may conceivably get outside of his intoxication, but he is then engaged in controlling his passionate impulses. He is in no mood to understand them.
I have already indicated the character of this mechanism. The hostile impulse unites us against the common enemy, because it has force enough to break down customary social textures, by which we hold others at a distance from our inexpugnable selves. But it was this social structure by which we realized ourselves. Our rights and our privileges, our distinctions of capacity and skill, our superiorities and our inferiorities, our social positions and prestige, our manners and our foibles not only distinguish and separate us from others but they constitute us what we are to ourselves. They constitute our individualities, the selves that we recognize, when we thank God that we are not as other men are, and when we determine upon what terms we can live and work with members of our families, with our neighbors and our countrymen. If these are in any degree broken down we are no longer the same individuals that we were. To join ourselves with others in the common assault upon the common foe we have become more than allies, we have joined a clan, have different souls, and have the exuberant feeling of being at one with this community.
There lie in all of us both of these attitudes. It is only in our common interests and our identities with others that there is found the stuff out of which social selves are made -- and it is only in distinguishing and protecting these selves from others that we exercise the self-consciousness that makes us responsible and rational beings.
But even the apparatus of this self-consciousness we have borrowed from the community. What are our rights in which we defend ourselves against all comers, but the rights which we recognize in others, that ours may be recognized by others? What are our peculiar powers and capacities but the facilities by which we perform our parts in common undertakings, and where would they be if others did not recognize them and depend upon them? The proudest assertion of independent selfhood is but the affirmation of a unique capacity to fill some social role. Even the man who haughtily withdraws himself from the crowd, thinks of himself in terms of an ideal community which is but a refinement of the world in which he lives. It is by assuming the common attitudes to each other, which an organized community makes possible, that we are able to address ourselves in the inner forum of our thoughts and private purposes. A self is a composite or interaction of these two parts of our natures -- the fundamental impulses which make us co-operating neighbors and friends, lovers and parents and children, and rivals, competitors, and enemies; on the other side the evocation of this self which we achieve when we address ourselves in the language which is the common speech of those about us. We talk to ourselves, ask ourselves what we will do under certain conditions, criticize and approve of our own suggestions and ideas, and in taking the organized attitudes of those engaged in common undertakings we direct our own impulses. These two parts are the matter and the form of the self, if I may use Aristotelian phraseology. The one is the stuff of social impulses and the other is the power which language has conferred upon us, of not only seeing ourselves as others see us but also of addressing ourselves in terms of the common ideas and functions which an organized society makes possible. We import the conversation of the group into our inner sessions and debate with ourselves. But the concatenated concepts which we use are ours because we are speaking in the language of the outer universe of discourse, the organized human world to which we belong.
In the sophisticated field of self-consciousness we control our conduct. We place ourselves over against other selves and determine what we want to do, what we have a right to do, and what other people may do. Here we assert ourselves and maintain ourselves by recognized rights and accorded privileges. In the field of the stuff -- the matter -- of personality we have no such power. We are born with our fundamental impulses. We choose our business associates and the members of our clubs and the guests at our dinner parties, but we fall in love, and whatever action we take upon this primal premiss, it is not a matter of our own choice. We say that we instinctively help a child who has fallen down, and our immediate attitudes toward puppies, kittens, and little pigs are different from those we take toward dogs, cats, and hogs, and the impulse to helpfulness is just as much an endowment as the impulse of hostility. This primal stuff of which we are made up is not under our direct control. The primitive sexual, parental, hostile, and co-operative impulses out of which our social selves are built up are few -- but they get an almost infinite field of varied application in society, and with every development of means of intercourse, with every invention they find new opportunities of expression. Here by taking thought we can add to our social stature. But we have no direct control over our loves and our hates, our likes and our dislikes, and for this reason we are relatively helpless when a common enemy fuses us all into a common patriotic pack or stampedes us under the influence of sympathetic terror.
This, then, is the stuff out of which human social selves are made up, their primal stuff or matter of social impulses, and the form of sophisticated self-consciousness. But society is the interaction of these selves and an interaction that is only possible if out of their diversity unity arises. We are indefinitely different from each other, but our differences make interaction possible. Society is unity in diversity. However there is always present the danger of its miscarriage. There are the two
(397) sources of its unity -- the unity arising from the interconnection of all the different selves in their self-conscious diversity and that arising from the identity of common impulses; the unity, for example, of the members of a great highly organized industrial concern or of the faculties and the students of a great university and the unity of a crowd that rushes to save a child in danger of its life. By these two principles of unity society is maintained; but there is an ever present risk of failure. Every society has it at the back of its mind. We want security and we distrust it. Society in every period of its history has presented to itself that danger in one form or another. Today we dread the Bolsheviki. At another time it has been the "interests"; at times the mob, and at other times the arbitrary power of a monarch.
We come back to our original question, How shall we get and maintain that unity of society in which alone we can exist? The ever present method of creating cohesion from below, from the impulses, is found in the common hostile impulse. The criticisms which are exercised upon the civil motives are but illustrations of this. Government is by partisanship. We can bring the voters to the polls only through their hostility to opposite parties. A campaign for a community chest is quickened by competitive teams. The great days of the religions have been the days of hostility, between the religions, between the Church and the sects, or between different churches. The fight with the devil and all his angels united men whom a common hope of salvation left untouched. More evident still is the need of the fighting attitude when a large community with varied groups and opposing interests is to be brought into a self-conscious whole. The antagonism of the Chinese to the Japanese and the English did more than anything else to awaken a Chinese national spirit. In our Civil War slavery was the issue, because it divided the nation. Men of the North fought for the Union and in fighting for it they felt it. The readiest way of arousing an emotional appre-
(398)-ciation of a common issue is to fight together for that issue, and until we have other means of attaining it we can hardly abandon war.
It is not a question of thrills nor of satisfying a deep-seated bellicosity in the human animal. It is a question of making ourselves actually feel the values that are wrapped up in the community. While war was still a possible national adventure, there was a certain rough psychological justification for the dictum, that at least one war in a generation was essential for the spiritual hygiene of the nation. The toleration of secret diplomacy, the cherishing of national honor and peculiar interests as lying outside the field of negotiation had behind it an obscure but profound feeling that in national honor and in these peculiar interests were symbolized a national unity which could be made precious by the arbitrament of war.
What better illustration of this can be found than in the Monroe Doctrine? None are agreed upon what the doctrine is. The nations of South and Central America in whose interests it was inaugurated with one voice denounce it. It is absurd to say that we can find an issue in the threatened neighborhood on this hemisphere of European powers, when our continent-wide, unfortified Canadian frontier, within the century and more since it was established, is almost the only frontier in the whole wide world that has not been crossed by belligerent forces. No, it is something -- no matter what it is -- for which we will fight. To think of it in these terms is to feel that there is a nation back of it. The more unintelligible the issue is, the more it emphasizes the unanimity of the community. It is an issue that cannot be discussed for we cannot in cold blood find out what the issue is. We must be of one mind about it, for it is impossible to have different minds about that which no one can comprehend. The only issue involved in the Monroe Doctrine is this, are you a patriot, are you a red-blooded American, or are you a mollycoddle? Let us get down to real rea-
(399) -sons and abandon good reasons. Even when we hope that there may be no future wars, we feel that we should keep certain issues which can arouse the fighting spirit, for the sake of their effect in drawing men together in a fashion which cannot be achieved by public interests, which are after all so divisive.
I take it that this is the real question that is put up to us by Professor James's moral equivalent of war. Can we find outside of the fighting spirit that unifying power which presents a supreme issue to which all others are subordinated, which will harden us to undergo everything, and unite us in the enthusiasm of a common end?
When I have borne in memory what has tamed
Great Nations, how ennobling thoughts depart
When men change swords for ledgers, and desert
The student's bower for gold, some fears unnamed
I had, my Country-am I to be blamed?
There is nothing in the history of human society nor in present-day experience which encourages us to look to the primal impulse of neighborliness for such cohesive power. The love of one's neighbor cannot be made into a common consuming passion. The great religions that have sought to embody it when they have dominated society have appeared as the Church militant. Auguste Comte, the great French sociologist and philosopher, sought to fashion a universal religion out of it. It gathered a handful of great souls into its communion. How widespread was its sweep of the community may be indicated by the tale that, in London, a gathering of the Comtists took place within which a schism arose. For even in this church sects appeared. A London wag reported that the members of the convention gathered in one cab and came away in two. There is, to be sure, no falling off in numbers of those who identify themselves with different Christian sects in the Western world, but there never was a time when the churches have had less power in organizing the community
(400) into common action. We can unite with common zeal to aid the victims of famines, of earthquakes, and of conflagrations, but we do not go into nor come out of such common undertakings with a sense of the supremacy of the nation or society that holds us together. The passion of love between the sexes isolates those whom it consumes, and family life segregates us. The positive social impulses exhibit no forces that bind us immediately together in conscious devotion to the complex community out of which our sophisticated selves arise. They have their place in the cults, mores, and customs that form the tissue of human society, but they do not flame out into a patriotism that can fuse men in the devotion to the fatherland.
The Great War has presented not a theory but a condition. If war were a possible measure of public policy, it might be kept for the sake of social cohesion, even if the ends for which wars are ostensibly fought were illusory and inadequate. But the Great War has made this no longer possible. Every war if allowed to go the accustomed way of wars will become a world war, and every war pursued uncompromisingly and intelligently must take as its objective the destruction not of hostile forces but of enemy nations in their entirety. It has become unthinkable as a policy for adjudicating national differences. It has become logically impossible. This is not to say that it may not arise. Another catastrophe may be necessary before we have cast off the cult of warfare, but we cannot any longer think our international life in terms of warfare. It follows that if we do think our national and international life, we can no longer depend upon war for the fusion of disparate and opposing elements in the nation. We are compelled to reach a sense of being a nation by means of rational self-consciousness. We must think ourselves in terms of the great community to which we belong. We cannot depend upon feeling ourselves at one with our compatriots, because the only effective feeling of unity springs from our common response against
(401) the common enemy. No other social emotion will melt us into one. Instead of depending upon a national soul we must achieve national-mindedness.
Professor James seems to have thought that we might substitute some other cult for the cult of warfare and reach the same emotional result -- the cult of youth conscripted to necessary social labor. But cults are not deliberately created in this fashion. Plato admitted this. He needed a set of cults for his ideal state, but he was compelled to postulate them as already in being. Even his philosopher king could not legislate cults into existence. Mussolini refuses to recognize the logic of the situation. He is depending upon the hostile impulse to fuse his Fascist state, and he is compelled to talk in terms of wars. He has to quicken imaginations with pictures of Roman conquests, and the threat of full panoplied legions. He is undertaking to arouse an Italian soul, not to fashion an Italian mind. He is, undoubtedly, very far from wanting the wars whose threat helps to hold this society together, for nothing would more certainly shatter it than the operation of a modern war; but he can safely threaten for a while, in a Europe whose surrounding populations have had a surfeit of fighting. The task of becoming nationally minded is then that which the outcome of the Great War is imposing upon us.
We enter upon our civil conflicts with the comfortable sense of a sovereign state behind us endowed with supreme and ultimate force to compel adherence to law and order. This state can if necessary call out the national troops to enforce the unity of the community which conflicting interests may have threatened. Can we keep this sort of state unless it is endowed with an army trained to fight the country's wars? A police force, even a national police force, is not an army. The dread sovereignty of the state is evidenced in troops trained to the unthinking obedience which warfare enforces. If we are compelled to surrender war with the blind military obedience which it puts into the hands of the state, we will be
(402) compelled to think out rational solutions of our civil quarrels and think them out a good deal more quickly. It is a great deal easier to feel than it is to think. It is a great deal easier to be angry with one's enemy than to sift the grounds of one's quarrel and find the basis for a reasonable solution. And if you can find grounds for making your enemy the enemy of the community -- a Bolshevik, for example -- the procedure is still easier. To use the mind with which the community has endowed you to compass the common interests rather than as a means of pursuing your own interest is a strenuous affair, and this is what it means to become nationally minded. Let me repeat if we surrender war there is no way of maintaining national unity except in discovering that unity in the midst of the diversity of individual concerns. There is a common good in which we are involved, and if society is still to exist we must discover it with our heads. We cannot depend upon our diaphragms and the visceral responses which a fight sets in operation.
There is something profoundly pathetic in the situation of great peoples, that have been struggling up through long centuries of fighting and its attendant miseries, coming closer and closer to each other in their daily life, fashioning unwittingly larger racial, lingual, liturgical, confessional, political, and economic communities, and realizing only intermittently the spiritual life which this larger community confers upon them, and realizing it only when they could fight for it. The pathos comes out most vividly in the nationalisms of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These nationalisms have meant the sudden realization that men belonged to communities that transcended their groups, families, and clans. They had attained selves through which they entered into relation with their common nationals, and the only way in which they could seize upon and enjoy this new spiritual experience was in the fight for its symbols, their common language and literature, and their common political organizations. The pathos
(403) lies in the inability to feel the new unity with the nation except in the union of arms. It is not that men love fighting for its own sake, but they undergo its rigors for the sake of conjunction with all those who are fighting in the same cause. There is only one solution for the problem and that is in finding the intelligible common objects, the objects of industry and commerce, the common values in literature, art, and science, the common human interests which political mechanisms define and protect and foster. But all these values are at first divisive. They appear at first as individual and class interests and at first one fights for them and against others who threaten them. The rational attitude is to find what common values lie back of the divisions and competitions. Within our communities the process of civilization is the discovery of these common ends which are the bases of social organizations. In social organization they come to mean not opposition but diverse occupations and activities. Difference of function takes the place of hostility of interest. The hard task is the realization of the common value in the experience of conflicting groups and individuals. It is the only substitute. In civilized communities while individuals and classes continue to contend, as they do, with each other, it is with the consciousness of common interests that are the bases both for their contentions and their solutions. The state is the guardian of these common interests, and its authority lies in the universal interest of all in their maintenance. The measure of civilization is found in the intelligence and will of the community in making these common interests the means and the reason for converting diversities into social organization.
The Great War has posed the problem before contending nations of carrying civilization into the community of nations; that is, it has left us with the demand for international-mindedness. The moral equivalent of war is found in the intelligence and the will both to discover these common interests between contending nations and to make them the basis for the
(404) solution of the existing differences and for the common life which they will make possible.
This is the moral equivalent of war if the office of war is to adjust international differences. As an adjudicator war is utterly discredited since, as I have said, if war is logically pursued it leaves nothing to be adjudicated, not even the enemy nations themselves. However, it has not been the peace treaties after hostilities have ceased that have been the valuable contributions which warfare has made to human history. Professor James has indicated them -- the spiritual heritage of devotions and heroisms and the consecrations of national values which occupy the most precious pages in history, and the emotional exaltation which accompanies the merging of a crowd of discrete individuals into a living union of men with a single purpose. These are the by-products of war which are in themselves invaluable, but to compass which no people would deliberately undertake war. This constitutes the paradox with which Professor James opened the discussion of his theme. It is a paradox the full depth of which he did not sound. The lying secret diplomacies, the exasperations of suppressed minorities, the profiteering of individuals and combines, the underhand conservation of selfish interests, which men have allowed in the past and still in a measure allow because they keep war as a valued possibility to hold the nation together -- this is a stranger paradox. Must we simply surrender the values which we dare not directly invoke?
It is a question that concerns both ethics and psychology. The answer of ethics has already been given. The spiritual losses of war in prospect enormously outweigh any estimate we dare put upon these by-products. The psychological solution Professor James sought in a somewhat fantastic cult of youth conscripted for social labor. He would substitute a harmless cult for one that is extremely hazardous. We have seen that cults cannot be manufactured to order. The willingness of the communities of the world to keep up the apparatus
(405) of fighting and the threat of war is an advertisement both of the supreme value of the larger national self and the extreme difficulty of bringing the citizen to realize it. What Professor James saw was that it was only in war that public interests do not leave men cold. The war taxes are the only taxes that are willingly paid. It is still so much easier to revert to the old dispensation and chant with the Psalmist that our God is a man of war.
What I am seeking to bring out is that the chief difficulty in attaining international-mindedness does not lie in the clash of international interests but in the deep-seated need which nations feel of being ready to fight, not for ostensible ends but for the sake of the sense of national unity, of self-determination, of national self-respect that they can achieve in no other way so easily as in the readiness to fight.
National-mindedness and international-mindedness are inextricably involved in each other. Stable nations do not feel the need in any such degree as those that are seeking stability. It was the militaristic fusing of the German nation out of separate German states by Bismarck's policy of blood and iron and the fusion of a vast backward community of Russian peasants by a Czardom with a pan-Slavic battle-cry that played a great part in the origins of the Great War. When the French are convinced that the German nation no longer needs to threaten her neighbors in order that she may feel her own national self, the fears of France will subside. Bismarck's proud sentence -- Germany fears God and no one else on earth -- was the challenge of a nation that dared not disarm because it feared internal disintegration. Bismarck's God was a man of war, that was the reflex of an international inferiority complex.
The outlawry of war as proclaimed in the Peace Pact goes then only halfway toward its great goal. It will be presumably approved by the nations of the world. So far as ostensible international differences are concerned, the peoples of the
(406) Western world are agreed that they should be settled by some method of negotiation, and that war to this end is no longer a policy which civilized nations may pursue. Self-defense remains a permissible ground for fighting, but with no war of offense there would be none of defense, and wars would vanish with the development of adequate means of negotiation, but we are not willing to have the readiness to fight disappear. So we retain national honor and peculiar interests. Why cannot these be adjudicated as well? Because these touch the sense of national self-respect. As long as we have these provisos, we have the proud sense of being willing to fight -- to stake everything upon the assertion of national selfhood. It was this sense which President Wilson's unfortunate phrase offended -- being too proud to fight. It was seemingly a phrase that contained a contradiction in terms. Pride predicates a fighting-spirit.
Now, if I am not mistaken such an attitude at the present period in human history is a revelation of an uncertainty of national selfhood and a grasping after the approved means of securing it-the wartime spirit. For at this period of the world's history there is no point of national honor and peculiar interest which is not as open to reasonable negotiation in a community of self-respecting nations as any of the so-called justiciable and negotiable issues, if we were sure of ourselves. But we are not sure of our national selves, and a certain amount of national psychoanalysis would be very valuable if not very probable. One thing, however, is clear, that we cannot attain international-mindedness until we have attained a higher degree of national-mindedness than we possess at present; and a rough gauge of it will be found in the necessity of retaining national honor and peculiar interests as causae belli.
Such a formulation seems to imply that if we were willing to get down to real reasons and abandon good reasons, if we were willing to be really reasonable we could immediately banish the threat of war from our international and our national life. I do not believe that this is the case. Civilization
(407) is not an affair of reasonableness; it is an affair of social organization. The selfhood of a community depends upon such an organization that common goods do become the ends of the individuals of the community. We know that these common goods are there, and in some considerable degree we can and do make them our individual ends and purposes, to such a degree that we have largely banished private warfare from the recognized methods of maintaining self-respect in civil conflicts. But there are still great gaps in our social organization, notably between our producers and the social service which they perform. Here there are groups that have to assure themselves of their self-respect by fighting on occasions. The labor unions and the employers as well preserve their solidarity, that is their sense of common selfhood, by the mechanism of hostility, that is by the threats of strikes and lockouts. Back of it lies the inability of the laborer to realize himself in the social process in which he is engaged. Where such a situation becomes acute, men, if they can, will always bind themselves together by hostile organizations to realize their common purposes and ends and thus assure themselves the selfhood which society denies them. Men will always jealously maintain and guard this mechanism to assure themselves to themselves. We will get rid of the mechanism of warfare only as our common life permits the individual to identify his own ends and purposes with those of the community of which he is a part and which has endowed him with a self.
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO