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AN IMPORTANT STRONGHOLD IN THE RUSSO-GERMAN-AUSTRIAN WAR ZONE
with a checkered history; it was once the capital of Poland; it constituted a free republic from 1815 until 1816; it was then annexed by Austria
AMERICA AND THE WAR FROM THE GERMAN POINT OF VIEW
present possess. The idea of settling by shall be as militant in the arts of peace as arbitration the question as to whether a to-day we are military in the arts of warfare. hungry man may take a loaf of which he has Give us time and security of existence, and full physical strength to possess himself is be sure that in fifty years the German people chimerical and quixotic. So with the na- will be freer politically, just as to-day they tional needs and impulses that bring on war, are more efficient in industrial pursuits and which is simply the last expression of or- social service, than other nations. Prussian ganized force, the balance-wheel of progress.” militarism is not a cause, but a result. There
So with the cause of Germany, which to- was a time when Voltaire's bon mot was well day is undergoing its supreme test of phys- expressive of our attitude : “ England rules ical efficiency. Not one-man power or lust the seas, France the land, Germany the of conquest drives men to action, but the clouds.” We were idealistic to the point of primitive necessities, protection and suste- folly and individualistic to the point of selfnance, direct the desires of the people, and destruction. Our sentimentalism was through them the course of their govern- ceeded only by our intemperance. But we ment. To destroy the monopoly in restraint were harmless—as long as we were cosmoof trade which Great Britain has established politan—and, though ridiculed, were toleron the highways of the seas, to secure the ated by our neighbors, who used to setessentials of national supply which we need tle their differences on German soil.
At for the maintenance of our ever-growing peo
last we awoke to national consciousness, ple, we wage war—with no apology to cosmo- and—after centuries of dissension, humiliapolitanism! How few Americans have studied tion, and derision—put forth our powers. the history of German civilization, and how What is more natural than that we should many know us only through British spec- become a "peril” to all those who profited tacles ! How. few understand the essence of by the maintenance of political balance! I do our political philosophy, and how many con- not care to excuse our atti but to explain. demn us without grasping even its funda- The military bureaucratic system of Germany mental principle! It is not surprising to see is the result of want and adversity. It was German institutions abused by the great mul- forced upon us by considerations of national titude of critics, whose sense of justice is expediency, and it has its grave defects in caterdulled by ignorance, inherited animosity, ing more to the powers of the State than to business depression, or hostile influence. But the pleasures of the people. But it also has it is strange to see men of intelligence, even its tangible advantages, because, under “Prusscientists, compare effects without examining sian rule,” Germany has become not only the causes, enlarging upon results without con- despair but also the wonder of other nations. sulting origins and sources of trouble.
So that we may say in defense of our system Obviously, no two countries can be gov- that in its own imperfect way it grapples with erned alike, because the political system, like the situation, whereas your more ideal systhe national ideals, is but the natural efflux tem of government does not. It also has a of the different circumstances under which larger margin of political potentiality. For the people live and have their being. Char- we can temper discipline with liberty whenacter, tradition, and environment are con- ever the time is ripe for it; but you cannot trolling factors. So is size of country and temper liberty with discipline, though the natural isolation. A big cake is easily so exigencies of the hour may some day redivided up that every hungry mouth in the quire it.
. family has a fine sufficiency. With a small In the last place, all dispute about the cake_contended and vied by hostile neigh- superiority of one system of government bors—it requires more severity, more sys- over the other is futile ; because it is not tem, and more restraint on the part of the the form of government which counts, but governor to make everybody satisfied. Here
the character of the people by whom it lies the root of our political dissension : is administered. ". There is no form of govpublicanism” on the one side, "militarism” ernment,” says Franklin, “but what may be on the other.
a blessing to the people if well adminisGive us freedom from alarm, immunity tered.” And there is no system that may from bondage to historical reminiscences, not become a
Whether individual and a country only one-tenth as large and initiative or organized action is the prefersafe and resourceful as your own, and we able expedient of statecraft is a matter of
circumstances. Conduct is the thing, after all, not the name. The only real guaranty against oppression by capital or mob lies, not in the programme or constitution of the country, but in the maintenance on the part of the people of national integrity and public-spiritedness.
Why, after all, should the German people abandon their political system, which has proved successful to the Commonwealth, and adopt American institutions, which are notorious for the contrast or discrepancy between recognized political principles and actual political life? If we apply the acid test of experience, which George Washington calls “the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing Constitution of a country,” to American institutions, we find that the prevalent interpretation of the fundamental laws of the Republic is out of all harmony with the Puritan ideals which inspired them. And we find, further, after the sovereign power of the land has been capsized by commercialism, that the American people are trying in vain to regain possession of their Government.
Instead of one tyrant, of whom the Pilgrim Fathers wanted to rid themselves by establishing a government of laws, not of men,' there are now five hundred, who hide their faces in the twilight zone of legal technicalities. Or what else did the eminent historian Woodrow Wilson mean when he declared : “ The most striking fact about the organization of modern society is that the most conspicuous, the most readily wielded, and the most formidable power is not the power of government, but the power of capital”?
Few Americans realize how carefully the executive circles in Germany are watching the democratic experiment in the New World ; how in matters of immigration, amalgamation, emancipation of women, separation of Church and State, conciliation of capital and labor, last, not least, in the most debateful of all questions, popular government, they are keeping close record of promises and events. For thirty years we have been sitting at your feet and learning of your composure. I am even bold enough to say that the admiration for the stanch defenders of human liberty who adorn the history of the United States is as fervent in Germany as it is in America.
But for all the noteworthiness of the ideals which they cherished and of the institutions which they helped to create, we can
not close our eyes to the fact that the great Republic did not keep in practice what it promised in theory. “Jefferson's fundamental doctrine," says Charles W. Eliot, “was the political and economic value of individual liberty.” But the forces which were once so strong during the framing of the Constitution were in the course of time overruled by an even mightier force, namely, by the chieftainship of business, “ which builds its power on the collective strength of economic forces and has won the battle in the three great departments of personal and social activity—industry, education, and government.
Now, if the absence of adequate rule in America offers feeble a guarantee against the complete reversal of the fundamental principles of government from individualism to collectivism, and from democracy to plutocracy-not to speak of corruption in its various forms; if the enlightened people of America, working as they do under the most favorable auspices of heredity and environment, with all their political liberties have been unable to preserve their economic independence, how can it be surprising that the German people hesitate to commit their country to the same policy of laissez faire ?
Germany, in order to preserve her national existence, must remain strictly an empire of efficiency. She must continue to learn from the experience of other countries, and cannot afford to adopt unreservedly a constitution which is “all sail and no anchor," as Macaulay put it. She cannot tolerate a political system which leaves so wide a margin between aspiration and accomplishment, besides being the most expensive system of government on earth. The political emancipation of the German people is proceeding by the scientific process of logical evolution. Its instrument is obedience and its law is reason. With the blessings of constitutional government it combines the privileges of a strong executive, which stands high above the clamor of parties and acts free from slavery to instant gain. It enthrones public service above private initiative. It bridles the freedom of the individual constituent, inasmuch as such interference is requisite for the freedom of all.
This principle of executive efficiency, which is the essence of Prussian statecraft and the secret of Germany's remarkable successes, both military and civil, is being more and more appreciated and extolled even by American statesmen, who recognize that the source
AMERICA AND THE WAR FROM THE GERMAN POINT OF VIEW
of all trouble in the United States is the mini- cation prepares also the way for popular mizing of government and the magnifying of government. For enlightenment is the death Business. “ The danger to American democ- of indolence, just as humanity is the death of racy,” says Theodore Roosevelt, “lies not egotism. in the least in the concentration of adminis- But Rome was not built in a day, and even trative power in responsible and accountable the United States, after a hundred years of hands, since concentrated power is palpable, experimental democracy, is still far from the visible, responsible, easily reached, quickly realization of democratic ideals. Wherefore held to account. The danger lies rather in Americans will not reproach us for our politihaving the power insufficiently concentrated, cal preferences, because we value freedom so that no one can be held responsible to the which is born of discipline higher than liberty people for its use."
which is born of chaos. And they will not No people can glory in their freedom from blame us for our war of independence, becontrol unless they are fit to make the best
a century ago they fought it thempossible use of that freedom. No form of selves. Whatever be the established form of government, however universal, can bear
country, aristocracy or good fruit unless the voters are capable of democracy, and whatever be the dominant exercising their functions reasonably. No power, bureaucracy or plutocracy, it is well country, however situated, can afford to sur- for the leaders of all nations to be ever mindrender its destinies to the ballot unless it is ful of this essence of political philosophy : sure that the intelligent overrules the blatant. " An exclusive government may be pardoned Hence, in the last place, it is not politics but if it is efficient, an inefficient government if education which decides the great issues of it rests upon the people. But a government civic policy and determines the rank and which is both inefficient and exclusive incurs respectability of a people among the nations. a weight of odium under which it must ultiThe country which encourages popular edu- mately sink ” (James Bryce).
II—THE AMERICAN POLICY A BLUNDER
BY DR. ERVIN ACEL
POLITICIAN may commit a crime, in the whirling confusion of the egotistic but he must never make a mistake. political hand-to-hand fightings.
The crime by means of which the Surely the war will at last be over. And threatened doom of a country is averted what will happen if Germany is crushed, will be forgiven by history's goddess; but she England victorious, and Japan has seized never pardons a political blunder which causes Kiaochau and the German Pacific Islands ? the ruin of a nation's future. Asto the bloody, What will happen if Japan refuses to turn smoke-laden European conflict, it seems to Kiaochau over to China ? And surely she me obvious that the American people and the will refuse to do this. That egotistic people American press
commit an unpardonable living in the poetical land of the rising sun mistake in sympathizing with the Allies and never yet fought for nothing, and is not in not siding with Germany. Let us suppose fighting for nothing now. She fights, bleeds, that the Kaiser's cause were opposed to the wastes her money and treasure; and, withethical standards of the world, and therefore out fail, she will send her account in. Every it must now bear the weight of the neutral man realizes that this account will require peoples' criticism ; but, even if this were true, that Japan shall enter into possession of the Uncle Sam's very interest requires that he German colonies. She would be crazy to stand by the German cause. It is very fine fight without any resulting benefit. She will and does the United States much honor that hold the territory conquered with the blood she, sitting on the high chair of a world of her oblique-eyed sons.
I know it, you court, lends an car to the complaints of the know it, Washington knows it-everybody warring nations and judges of living and knows it. dead. But the war, sooner or later, will be Before Japan threw the old Samurai sword ended ; and then Uncle Sam will be pulled in the balance of the conflict she assured us down from his high station to take his place that she did not intend to retain Kiaochau,