PANPATRISM versus PATRIOTISM.
NZ Truth , Issue 505, 20 February 1915, Page 1
PANPATRISM versus PATRIOTISM.
FOUR fOURFOLD TaTEFUL fORCES : /Anglicaflv P German -^ H Islam H18111-/ i isiav - ) '; RAGIAt RIVALRIES- RELIGIOUS RANCOURS. COMMERCIAL COMPETITION-COLONIAL CONQUEST. INDEFINITE IMPERIAL EXPANSION. ' '-"■' v» , Victlst ■i * r , - No. viii. --■' ".
has been acquired, "f^f J-" 0 t gf» -JJSe wojl maintained, and, qn the whole, HticdeßßfuUy retained. Before dolag ■ .S£ however, it will be necessary to grapple with a few gross fables, not fo aay monstrous mehdacitles. by which Englishmen have been brought to believe that they the Chosen People m the momentpiitr .matter of -conquering, Christianising,, and Qlyllls- ? fng thewholeof God's earth; ; and that 35 Empiro la more Eng Ish than British; that it is a P^fjl 1 ; founded upon peace, and, bu "t "P.?* poacoful processes; and that religion and morality, more thart war and rapine, have been the main factors In its establishment and maintenance.
Now demur has to bo made to most, If not all, of these English assumptibns concerning «» '°rt»n. 'o«»*^ n and maintenance of the British Empire, and to several otHers of a like Jiaracte? to k /noticed* ftnd , > llo f m the course 'of this seres, of Panpat•Dlßtleß. But m making demurrer care must be taken that it ip done decorously and decently, due regard being hud to the peculiarly piilnful, not to say perilous, position m whloh the« Empire is placed at the! present time. Criticism, if such be called for, must not be captious, but cautious, courteous, tender, and true, itnd, above all, careful of the sentiments and. feelings of those with whom ono^may differ historically,, on question!} qf fact, and morally on mattera of , sentiment. "Whether the Empire originated m piracy and. slavery, or m legitimate commercial enterprise .and freedom is a matter of opinion.. Whether the missionaries or soldiers have been .the pioneere and maintainers of the modern developments vl British imperial away; and whether the greed of gain or a desire "to spread abroad tho Gospel of glad tidings of great Joy, as it Is In Josus," anlraatejd them, are equally dubious, matters) of debate; •which require dollcatoj handling In these troublous times of international •trlfe and slaughter.
It Is an easy task from tho comfortable convenience of an armchair to . critlciso and challenge the conduct of past generations and the policy of tho present; and to ail upon those "brave bold boys of tho bull-dog breed who made old England's namo" to curse the Kaleer and go' to the front and crush him and his hordes of Huns. Arm-chair warriors ond curpet knights are ever tho most numerous and blatant when dangers, which they aro careful never to dare or ever to share, are moat imminent and awful. But when, a3 now, wo nee tho sons of tho . Empire "All British born/ marching on their "Long, long wily to Tippcrary," ucroßS many fl'Btrl<!ken Hold, and through many a bllood-drcnched, death -smitten frozen trench, carping criticism' is out of place; and. If indecontly Indulged m, should bo lndlg/ nantly disregarded, condlgnly condomnod, if not officially censored.
A word rlfirht here concerning tho much abused Censor. In matters political tho Censor cuts no Ico In British public afralrs. The, coniiorlal scissors ■ may curtail criticisms, aiid prevent tho publication In print of 'military nnd irnvftl news already known, if not ,<«f world-wldn notorliuy. Hut press cetl« enrshlp will never succeed, ovon it wrti df'Hlmblo to do so, In curtailing tho expression of public opinion m tho momeniouH mutter of it war m whioh tho patriotic citizens profusely pour out iholr blood llko watw, and Maori;-f*co Un'lr live* MUt* rimrtyri«; and their s -»ksnre In Paciollnn stm-am*. Hrltluh rjVjp n?; clulm to know Hip policy of .1 jyM the right!) and wrongs of the ■^■■rcl: which »ldo l« to blurno; which to win nnd which to lose; and ■J^vvhm manner iholr pncrlllees of rxwniw.y mid m«>n aro <<>Uk utlllHod to Ki'iug micco.au to our fluj|t and dlwiator to that of th« for. U'm well enough to damn tho KaUcr; but it's atill betterto
defeat him. To knock "L" out of Berlin on the theatre' stage may, be witty, but it isn't war, and won't make a single hair of Wilhelm's military mo moult or even droop. What Britishers want to know is how the war is going on; how we and our Allies are getting on m the magnificent, ' murderous melee. •
Something may, nay, must be said m mitigation of that censure of the Censor, to which Englishmen are much too prone. War is war: bloody mur.-der, many times multiplied — systematised slaughter, an appeal to the arbitrement of sword and gun, bullet and bayonet, instead of o the gentle, soothing methods of gospel and grog, blblei and beer. If the pen' be mightier than the sword, its freedom of use must be curtailed m time of war, If the sword is to be given a faif show to do its bloody work well. Strategics m war is the science of surrounding the bird and driving It into the net;/tactics that of killing, plucking, and carving up the quarry. Sausage-slithering scribes, , and beer-blown broadsheet blighters are not authorities on war, except that kind of war waged with the mouth, whose worst, and most destructive blaßt Is, bad hot breath. In those days of rapid post, telegraphy, and "wireless," war-correspondents are, an annoyance, a nuisance, and a peril to military and naval commanders. Thoy ought not, must not, and actually are not now allowed to: < poke, their supercilious snouts, or, rather, porsumptuous pens, into the plans and operations of war by land or water, which they do not understand; or, understanding, are often only too willing; to describe or~betray to friend or-foe^ for love or lucr.e— or from the _metff mercenary desire of making a fl l ensa/-'' tional journallstlo scoop. .
As Illustrating the irreparable harm which irresponsible newspaper scribbleTs may do m time of war, It may be pointed out that the surrender of' Metz In the Franco-German war of forty years ago, was largely due to the hints unconsciously and innocently enough given to tho Germans b.y an English war-correspondent m a telegram to a London newspaper. From that telegram In that newspaper, the Germans first got an inkling of Marshall MacMahon's real movements, and divined that the objective of his march was* to succour Bazaine, then cooped up m Mets, and to raise the siege. This information enabled the Germans to ward off MacMabon's contemplated attack by frustrating his march; thus giving them time to close up their lines of clrcumvallatlon and to complete the investment by surrounding Motz with a ring of steel. Thus waß the free use of the pen shown to be m favor of the Germans, the foes of Franco then, and the foes of Franco to-day, and of oursolvos, and practically of the whole civilised world. "Mrota bone," however, not all the Christian world is civilised, any more than all the civilised part of tho world -is ChriHtlan. Thoro are Christian^ and Christians, some civilised, Bomo" uncivilised, nnd they do not all love ono another, nor havo thoy, like the Early Christians — very early m age from us, and much moro remote m point of practlce-*-"all things In common." The only things modern Christian natlnnH appear to havo m common are national hatred "and general greed.
Jimt-'one other plea for tho sword jiKiilnst tho pon m time of war. If It he right to restrain tho pen and printin>; press In time of pence, by censoring and cenaurinp the publication of blasphemous, 'seditious, dofnmatory, or obscene llbH« ngnlnst tho State or citizen, surely it m much more necessary to prohibit and punish the abuses of writing, printing, and publishing In time of war. If the protection of tho public is entrusted, as it Is In jlmos of peace, to the police. !s the public collectively or Individually to be deprived of this police protection against, the press In limp of war, when it 1.4 so nuioh l ho more peremptorily lmoenwiry? In the first Instance It la only tho roHglour, and moral opinions and sentlmentn, lh« political and social prejudices and predilection* of persons that are offended, defamed or
, . , y . . • -■ ■ .- ■ - v shocked. But In the second conjuncture It Is the lives and safety of< our .Bpldiers-r-flghtlng' bravely, if S often blindly, for what they are told, to be and believe to be the best interests of thejr country, and of? humanity — the very existence of whole armies, . com-i prising millions of men— of the State itself— that can be, and sdmetimes are, as above shown, put m peril by the free, unrestrained use of- the pen;
If it be right to prohibit ft soldier from wantonly, or negligently, or ignorantly, damaging his country ,by disclosing the designs of the generals commanding her armies m, the field, ana to punish him for- so doing, is it not equally right to subject scribbling, • sensation-seeking, noncombatant newspaper scavengers to the same restraints, (restrictions, and punishments .m war time? -To 'this last . reasonable question there can, be but one logical answer; and that answer is best made m the form of asking another , question— What is there peculiarly patriotic about the wielder of a pen that should place him In a more privileged position ~. y than the wielder of a sword m ttmoof war? Surely a hired eofdier is as honorable and trustworthy a member of the community as a hireling scribbler on the scoot for a sensational scoop. ■ Why should one.be more privileged, than the other? Ay, why? , Is one more w.orthy to be trusted' apd honored? Devil a bit! Unit for unit, an army is a more honorable b6dy than a gang of hired scribblers, who, for th c most part, write as they are told, and , if they don't write as they are > told, they are .sacked. The only difference between the hired Boldier and the hired scribbler is that for disobedience the first is sometimes shot dead, whereas the other is only fired out. "
The euphuism about the pen being mightier /'than the sword' ia one of those stale lies of .Christian civilisation which . none but fools believe. If it be ever true at all, it is only when and while, the sword rests or' rusts in' the scabbard for want of the strong hand of the rigtft man'to/iyleld it Fancy a scribbler's pen being mightier than the sword held by a Caesar or a Napoleon, or even a Cromwell or a Kitchener! Such siUy^saylng is no more true than the assertion "That- becauso a, be/fl-bug, disturbs and'discomforts a man by biting his buttocks, he is. therefore, mightier than the man. Pshaw! Faugh, the only element In Which the bug is mightier than the man whose back parts It has bitten is m the awful all-pervading stink, it emits' and leaves behind. So It is with the press.- In peace an unlicensed, uncontrolled press can doyittle good; and frequently does much harm both to the citizen and to the State. Uncontrolled and unrestrained m $ime of war, it is a damned nuisance, and call do, and often dobs <?o, a great deal of harm to the country or cause Jt pretends, and often, sincerely;! enough, seeks to serve; But, where f Ignorance is bliss, 'Ub folly to be wise, and the good intentions of bad pressmen have done more than most other men to pavo the way to perdition for their country, / - .
Besides, even If it wore true that the pen were mightier than the aword In influencing the affairs of men m times of peace, a pre-requlslte to the proper exercise of such a power is competency, resting upon innate capacity and courage. A pressman, like the poet, "nascltur non fit". You can't make a journalist out of, a mere scribbler, any more than you can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, or evolve a modest maiden out of a stale strumpet, or. a model mother out of a wanton wife. Those contrasts cannot be combined: th,ey are morally and physically incompatlblo, and, therefore^ irreconcilable. Besides, good pressmen are as rare as good men and good women, good,painters and good poets. , Great journalists are rarer still — as rare as great statesmen or great soldiers. Tho Horace Greeleys and Gordon Bennetts, tho Greenwoods and Henry Laboucheres the Henri Rocheforts and Jules Claretios, have boon as rare m America and Franco as tho William Henry Trallls, tho John Haynesee, and the Jules Francois Archibalds have 'been, and still are, m this hemisphere.
Australia ha« had a perfect Egyptian plague of plssant poets, and "soidlsant," patriotic, but few real, Journalists. Most of her so-called poets have been prurient pochards: swankers. of sour swipes, Instead of singers of sweet stanzas. As for the majority of her pressmen, few of them, indeed,- dre worthy of tho name of Journalists — except m the sense that they work for their dally bread. But so, too, do ordinary day laborers, hod-carriers, and wharfrlaborers, and coal-lumpers, kitchen slushies and potatoe- peelers, who aro much better and more worth the money they earn than aro many impudent inksllngers, who impudently poso as journalists. This Is tho sort of pressmen that pretends to make tho politics of a country; to educate public opinion, and propound Its patriotic principles at so much per week, or at so much a line. Such pressmen educato public opinion much m tho samo way as a pig In a perfumery would add to its odours; and affect the body politic 1 ' m precisely the same way that pediculous parasites—fleas and Jico for instanc — Irritate and Inflame the body physical.
Thero Is nothing:, nor ought there to bo anything, about the press that can or could or should bo considered sucrosanct by ordinary people of common - Hcn»e, To permit to tho press m tlmo of war privileges that it abuses so notoriously m time of peace, would be to place the scribbler above the soldier, tho talker above tho doer, tho Inexpert over the export. Tho press has Its good uses, and thero arc good pressmen here as elsewhere But then tho press Is ofton put to evil uses, by bad pressmen, from reasons or motives of moral perversity, political partisanship, pecuniary profit, and personal ambition on the part of its bosses. Drugs and poisons arc beneficial when prescribed by skilled physicians, and compounded by compotent
chemists: otherwise, they are •deadly and destructive, dangerous, and jto'j.be curtailed, and con trqlled m the ruse, if not altogether restricted and restrained. So it is with the press, that boasted Palladium of Liberty, concern:J ing which Russell Lowell, the ever,green and quotidianally quoted Yankeedoodling political poetaster makes his. "Pious 1 Editdr" declare/as part of his creed: k - ; . Idu believe with alj my soul ' ! Jin the great Press's freedom, To pint the people to the goal • An m the traces lead 'em; " Palsied the arm that forges yokes At my fat contracts squlntiri, An' withered be the nose thet pokes , ' inter .the gov'ment prlntin' ! I dv believe thet I Bhould give ; Wut's hls'n unto Caesar, i Fer it's by him I move an' live, l | Frum him my bread an' cheese air: I dv believe thet all o' me Doth, bear the superscription, — WHI, conscience, honor, honesty, ' . An* things o' thet description. I /dv believe m prayer an 1 praise .To him thet hez the grantin' OMobs.r-in every thin' thet pays, Bui most of all In Canttn'; This doth my cup with marcles fill, This lays all thoughts p' sin to rest— I don't believe In priricerple; But O, Idu m interest. ' ■: I dv believe m bein' this Or thet, ez. it may happen One way"ior t'other hendiest is ; To ketch the people nappin' ; ir ain't by. princerples nor men ; My* preudunt course is steadied, — I scent which pays the best, an' then ;Go into it bald-headed. ; ■ .'l ■ ■ '■'.■•.'■ ' :■ I dU believe thet holdln' slaves Comes riat'ral tv a Presidunt Let 'lone the . rbwdedow it saves ;To hey a wal-broke-precedunt • Fer my office; small or gret, v I 'Couldn't ax with no face, ' Without I'd ben, thru dry an' wet, Th'unrizzest kind, o'. doughface. , ' I dv believe wuteyer trash '11 keep the people m bjindness.-r- : . Thet we the Mexlcuns can thrash ■'■ Right inter jbrotherly kindness, Thet bombshells, grape, an' powder f ri' ' . ball . ■...■ ■.. ■ - ._■■ ; -Air good -will's strongest magnets, ; Thet peace, to make it stick at all, Must be dr uy m with bagnets. In short, I firmly dv believe In Humbug generally, Fer it's a thing that' l perceive To hey. a solid vally; ' This heth my faithful shepherd ben In pasture sweet hdlh led me, An* thlsfll keep' the people gr,een To feed oz, they hey fed me. ■'■' ■ . ''-: •' , "■-'■ , .■:...- < .■ .■ •.. Now, here I am again, ctfrae suddenly to the end of my teth6rVfor,the time being. This last long quotation from th> Biglow Papers, has brought me rto the limit of present tfme, and sanctioned space. Therefore, lest I should exhaust the patience of my readers I'll pause here, bespeaking their kind consideration for this desultory, discursive dissertation on the score that It has been written m the seclusion ' of a sickroom— dlagrnoals of malady, mental prostration and nervous headache, neither of which is likely to be mortal or prolonged. So to my indulgent readers I say, Yale! which means m the vernacular, "So -long," or In French, "au reyoir," thit. is, m this case, to our re-meeting, or review of one another In print In these pages next weok,
when we'll deal with some of the gross ;fables and monstrous mendacities men; tloned m the opening paragraphs t -,' of this' article. JOHN NORTON. .Scott's Hotel, ' Melbourne, Thursday, February 4th, 1915.