The Evening Star THURSDAY, JANUARY 14, 1915.
Oxx of the most, luminous and most powerful statements of An Impressive the issue* at eta.ke in Impeachment, the Great War is. that of Mr Benjamin Kidd, Tfrttka 'Daily Mail's' Year Book for 1915. •3llr Kidd will be known to many as th« author of two very remarkable books—'•Social Evolution' and 'Principles of Western Civilisation.' The present war furnishes a. fine illustration of the principles elaborated by Mr Kidd in the two books to which we refer, and it justifies the conclusions to which he arrives. The bocks, of course, were written long before this wad- broke out. 'Social Evolution' wae published in 189jg>- and -the other one at a somewhat later date. Taos© who have read thev-e books will be prepared for Mr Kidd's illuminating article in the 'Daily Mail's' Year Book. Those who • have "not, should on no account, miis the article in question, for no better presentation of the issues at stake in this dreadful war has yet been given to the world at M* Kidd's contention is that the loreea which have created western civilisation ■have not been rational, but- moral. For . the last nineteen centuries these moral j ioree* have taken on-the Christian, color,.
She represents what in 'biological science would be called atavism, or reversion to type. She has retreat-eel back to the old predatory conception of the State, as it found its expression in the ancient monarchies of Babylon and Assyria, etc., and culminated in pagan Rome*. But, united to this ideal, she has called in all the aid,) of modern science, and baptised the whole -with a veneer of religion. The struggle we are up against is thns not one of armies or of economic powers. It is a struggle against the recrudescence of a barbaric, idea, reinforced by all the resources of modern science, and inspired by a bastard religion. For 2,000 years western civilisation has been trying to disentangle itself from this barbaric idea-—the idea that .Might make? or gives Right. It has been trying, with more or less success, to conform itself to the Christian othic. It is not contended that it has achieved this, but it has kept this in view as nn ideal. Grsat Britain has been the leader in the forlorn hope of the nations. She. has been " the champion of the human "spirit in its belief in the ultimate tri"umph of principles of Universal Right, "and for the full and free development of ''all races under equal liberties." This has imposed on her an enormous burden—the. White Man's Burden, as Kipling sines of it: Take up the whito man's burden, Send forth the best you breed ; ' (.Jo hind your sons to exile. To icrve. your captives' need. And so she has shouldered the staggering burden of 400.G00.000 souls, in tho conviction that '" there is but one Race, and but "one Color, and but one Soul in Hurnan- '" ity, although the knowledge at times has "seared her flesh." Germany has divested herself of the handicap of what Nietzsche calk -i the slave morality of civilised ethics."' Under tho sanction of modern prophets like Nietzsche, Bernhardi, and the rest of the cult she has resurrected this bavbaris ideal—viz., that this is a world solely for the Strong, and that Might makes Right; that no Right can be pleaded against- thu State, which has no standard but that of '"power and expediency." Mr Kidd shows clearly that tho whole history of western civilisation has been one long struggle, against this pernicious doctrine. The meaning of Western progress for twenty ten tunes 33 that that progress represents the great spiritual integrations of mind, which has raised the conception of Right to the plane of the Universal, by projecting the sense of human responsibility outside till things of the State whatsoever. It has made Right independent of and superior to all interests of the State, on whatever claim or mission they may be, based, on whatever scale they may be represented, by whatever force they may be backed. Therefore, the challenge which Germany issues is a, challenge of tho fundamental principles <-.n which human progress has been founded, and by which Great Britain and the free nations have been built up. Tho issue involved U not merely the existence of our own Empire, but whether or not the last nineteen centuries have not been co-ordinated on a delusion, and the ancient barbaric ideals are. the. true ones. When wc rightly grasp this contention, in its full significance, we. understand tlto tremendous import of th« issues involved in it. Bul we also gain a firm faith, in tho final victory of our cause. We do this on both scientific and religious grounds. We have seen that Great Britain has taken on herself the "Whito Man's Barden," which is the burden of sacrifice and service for his higher life. Darwin's dictum is that " those, communities -which "included the greatest number of'the most "sympathetic members would flourish " best." History demonstrates that. The nations which most fully act upon it are the. vital nations and in the vanguard of the world. They are exactly like those "higher types of life in evolu"tion, which placed the centre of gravity '• in the future in taking care of the " voung." The vindication of this assertion is seen in the case of Great Britain when all round the globe—wherever her Dominions and colonies are—white men, black men, brown men have all leaped to arms to fight her battles. On the other hand,. Germany, as we have seen, is an example of "reversion to type." As Mr Kidd points out, whenever these higher tvpes have been hard pressed in tho struggle with their own kind they hav* relapsed into atavism and have relinquished the burden. But the inevitahlu issue must be the same, as is seen in the lewer forms of life—they will be forcod to the rear, and may ultimately end in extinction. That is the scientific law. There is, however, another and even more certain law operating against German success. It is the moral law. If there is anything certain in the history of the world it is that the Suprcma Power or Person who guides the destinies of the Universe is a moral Being. He is slowly but surely leading men and nations to realise that in the end of the day only 1 Truth and Right pay and endure. "You may build your Capitol on granite," said Wendell Phillips, " and pile it as high " as the Rocky Mountains, but if it bo i4«it founded, »a Juatke the Jiuise, of »_
" girl •will beat it down." That is a dictum that will never bo shaken. And it is because Germany's actions, before and during this titanic struggle, are a violation of every moral principle that has built up Western civilisation during the last 1,900 years that her. ultimate overthrow cannot be doubted. Were it to be otherwise, it would cause us to doubt whether or not the earth's base has been built on rottenness and dust and ashes: all that is. It ia incredible that the higher ethics which ha to .been the guiding star of modern civilisation are only the stuff of which dreams are wade, and that there are no moral laws and no moral Governor in this universe, except those that -men spin like spiders out of their own insides. The whole history of the world is a, denial of that, and is the vindication of its opposite. Wo may humbly conclude that Great Britain, with all her faults, stands for the moral issues in this great conflict, and may therefore expect her to triumph. As Mr Asquith said at the beginning, " the conflict is a spiritual one." It is a conflict in which is involved all that had been won for light and liberty in the past—for all that is dear and hopeful for the future. To quote Mr Kidd's summation of the position : It is a conflict in winch Britain may look the nations of the earth in the face, and with steady eyes say to them, as no nation ever before has been able to? say to the world, 1 have drawn the sword in the cause of the world. Whosoever is not with mo in this struggle is against me.
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The Evening Star THURSDAY, JANUARY 14, 1915., Evening Star, Issue 15700, 14 January 1915