Can Putin Survive?
The Lessons of the Soviet Collapse
IN THE summer of 1896 I gave an address at the original Chautauqua, created and conducted by Bishop John H. Vincent of the Methodist Episcopal Church, on "Five American Contributions to Civilization." In the last paragraph but one of the address these five contributions were succinctly described and characterized as follows:
"These five contributions to civilization--peace-keeping, religious toleration, the development of manhood suffrage, the welcoming of newcomers, and the diffusion of well-being--I hold to have been eminently characteristic of our country, and so important that, in spite of the qualifications and deductions which every candid citizen would admit with regard to every one of them, they will ever be held in the grateful remembrance of mankind. They are reasonable grounds for a steady, glowing patriotism. They have had much to do, both as causes and as effects, with the material prosperity of the United States; but they are all five essentially moral contributions, being triumphs of reason, enterprise, courage, faith, and justice, over passion, selfishness, inertness, timidity, and distrust. Beneath each one of these developments there lies a strong ethical sentiment, a strenuous moral and social purpose. It is for such work that multitudinous democracies are fit."
I wished to emphasize in this paragraph that the five contributions were not material but moral, not evidences of a coarse and selfish materialism in the American people, but on the contrary evidences of a good spiritual quality as the result of their experience in political and social liberty, and in chronic conflict with their various foes--some of them human beings, and some adverse forces of Nature.
Ten years earlier, at the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the First Parish Church in Cambridge, in an address entitled "Why we honor the Puritans," I had spoken near the end of the address as follows, trying to answer the question: Have we, the descendants of the Puritans, ideals for which we would toil, and suffer, and if need be die?
"The Civil War gave one answer to that question. But I believe that in peace as well as in war our nation has shown that it has ideals for which it is ready to bear labor, pain, and loss. I believe that no people ever sees clearly those steps in its own progress, those events in its own life, which future generations will count glorious. Yet I think we can discern some moral ideals toward which our generation strives. We strive toward a progressive improvement of human condition, an amelioration of the average lot. We begin to get a realizing sense of that perfect democratic ideal--'We are all members one of another.' The gradual diminution of the exercise of arbitrary authority in the family, in education, and in government is another ideal toward which we press. We have come at last to really believe that he that would be greatest among us must be our servant."
The reason I gave in that address for honoring the Puritans was that they were "stout-hearted for an ideal--not our ideal, but theirs--their ideal of civil and religious liberty. Wherever and whenever resolute men and women devote their lives and fortunes not to material but to spiritual ends, there and then heroes are made, and, thank God, are made to be remembered. The Puritans thought to establish a theocracy; they stand in history as heroes of democracy."
When the late World War was only two months old, I published in the New York Times a letter on "True National Greatness." I remarked that "In North America there are two large communities--heretofore inspired chiefly by ideals of English origin--which have never maintained conscripted armies, and have never fortified against each other their long frontier--Canada and the United States. Both may fairly be called great peoples even now; and both give ample promise for the future. Neither of these peoples lacks the 'stout and warlike' quality of which Sir Francis Bacon spoke;[i] both have often exhibited it." And then I asked the question--What are the real ambitions and hopes of the people of the United States and the people of Canada in regard to their own future? That question I answered in part as follows:
"Their expectations of greatness certainly are not based on any conception of invincible military force, or desire for the physical means of enforcing their own will on their neighbors. They both believe in the free commonwealth, administered justly, and with the purpose of securing for each individual all the freedom he can exercise without injury to his neighbors and the collective well-being. . . . They believe that the chief object of government should be the promotion of the public welfare by legislative and administrative means; that the processes of government should be open and visible, and their results be incessantly published for approval or disapproval. They believe that a nation becomes great through industrial productiveness and the resulting internal and external commerce, through the gradual increase of comfort and general well-being in the population, and through the advancement of science, letters, and art. . . . They think that the peace of the world can be best promoted by solemn public compacts between peoples--not princes or cabinets--compacts made to be kept, strengthened by mutual services and good offices, and watched over by a permanent international judicial tribunal authorized to call on the affiliated nations for whatever force may be necessary to induce obedience to its decrees. . . . The new ideals will still need the protection and support, both within and without each nation, of a restrained public force, acting under law, national and international, just as a sane mind needs as its agent a sound and strong body. Health and vigor will continue to be the safeguards of morality, justice and mercy."
Here again I maintained that the ideals of the American people were not primarily physical comfort and private and national wealth, but rather morality, justice, mercy, and spiritual well-being in family and State.
Two months later in a letter printed in the same newspaper[ii] I said:
"The immediate duty of the United States is presumably to prepare, on the basis of its present army and navy, to furnish an effective quota of the international force, servant of an international tribunal, which will make the ultimate issue of this most abominable of wars, not a truce, but a durable peace." Now, duty is the offspring of knowledge and sentiments or loves.
"When duty whispers low, Thou must, The youth replies I can."
This call to service for mankind was obeyed two years later by the American people with a whole-souled enthusiasm, which took small account of property losses, private or public, of huge government debts, of high taxes, or loss of life or health by their young men. Military success against autocratic governments and their selfish and cruel policies of conquest became the one object of the whole people, no matter at what cost. The National Administration had held back on going into the fierce War between the despotic and aggressive powers and the constitutional governments, had revived Washington's advice to the little feeble commonwealth planted on a narrow strip of the eastern seacoast of what are now the continental United States--that it keep out of European entanglements--and contented itself with ineffective verbal protests against the violation of "neutral rights"; but in April, 1917, Administration, Congress, and People went into the horrible War with the hope and purpose of destroying autocracy in Europe, promoting democracy everywhere, providing international means of preventing war in the future, and making the world a better place for future generations to live in. Surely, this was a prodigious moral enterprise, into which material and selfish considerations entered hardly at all.
In the twenty or thirty years which preceded this high resolve, the American people had made some other contributions to civilization in addition to the five I dwelt upon in 1896. These should now be set forth.
The American democracy has made a very important contribution to human welfare in that it has developed in its men a greater tenderness and a deeper reverence towards women and children than any other race or nation has ever exhibited. With this development has come in married pairs a spirit of sympathetic comradeship and of mutual affectionate effort for the benefit of children, which is a great improvement on the relations between the sexes that have heretofore prevailed in other nations or under other forms of government. Now, the attainment of happiness is more dependent on good relations between the sexes and on the domestic joys than on any other conditions of human life. Therefore, this American contribution to human welfare is fundamental, legitimate, and durable; and it is a spiritual or moral contribution, not a material one.
The physical conditions under which the American continent has been occupied by people of the English and American stock account in part for this moral accomplishment. All across the continent the real pioneering line--often preceded by a skirmish line of male adventurers--has been a line of families, for which the men have provided such protection as was possible, while the women have shared heroically in the dangers and hardships of the life. As the pioneering line advanced, it organized villages, districts, towns, churches, and schools which took common action for defense, for education, and for religion, and through these organizations the family was protected and nurtured. For three hundred years this development of family life on fresh soil has gone on without any hindrance from feudal system or ecclesiastical power, and with a steady fostering of individualism in liberty.
The physical conditions under which American society has developed have had another interesting effect on the character and habits of the people. Every generation has encountered tremendous evils, some of them effects of adverse forces of Nature and others results of man's folly or wickedness, against which it has had to struggle, such as inordinate heat or cold, drought, storms, pests, pestilences, contagious diseases, and attacks by savages or by civilized men who allied themselves with savages. Hence arose the practice in the American communities of resisting strenuously the evils which came upon them, and not only resisting but trying to prevent them. Cooperation in resisting or preventing evils and wrong-doings has been the great training-school of the American democracy. The initiative in this cooperative action often came from individuals of "light and leading"; but the cooperative effort was usually made by a group, sometimes small but often large, or was shared by the entire community. That cooperation of private citizens for public ends has characterized the American people for three hundred years.
Two recent reforms in the field of public health--the Prohibition Amendment and the repression of venereal diseases and of the commercialized vice which produced and spread them--have been within recent years the products of this cooperation of private citizens for public ends. The entrance of the United States into the World War gave a great impetus to both of these reforms; but the Prohibition legislation had been in gradual development for nearly thirty years in Kansas, and in several southern states for ten or twelve years, while the way toward the repression and ultimate extinction of the venereal diseases had been shown for some years before the War by private societies. The results of the War prohibition of the sale of alcohol in and near the camps or barracks of the forming National Army showed millions of Americans how the hideous evil of alcoholism could be successfully resisted and reduced, and with patience exterminated, and led directly to the adoption of the Prohibition Amendment by an overwhelming majority of the American voters. Thus the American democracy has led the way in strenuous conflict against one of the worst evils which have beset civilized mankind in modern times. Here are two admirable illustrations of the training the American people have received during the three centuries of their occupation of American soil from their habit of resisting the physical or moral evils which their mode of life brought upon them, while they were free to either overcome or succumb to those evils. That is God's way of forming sound character in either an individual or a race.
In no field has this method of resisting evils been more conspicuous than in the field of medicine or public health. Accordingly, the profession of medicine has been held in higher esteem and been given a better status in American society than anywhere else in the world. It has exercised a stronger influence on community affairs than in any other nation. In many a village or small town all over the United States the doctor has been, and still is, the leading citizen, and the habitual adviser, not only of the town meeting, but of the principal families of the town or district. He is the person who can best tell his community how to attack and prevent the evils to which they find themselves exposed. In recent times the physician has often surpassed in American communities both the lawyer and the minister as influential citizen. In many an American manufacturing community today the physician is more competent than any other member to show the community how to resist or prevent the evils which afflict them. Cooperative resistance to evils is in the modern world the great means of social and industrial progress; and in democratic communities it is the physician who gives the best example of accuracy in determining facts, caution in drawing inferences, and disinterestedness and public spirit in his mode of life.
It is the fashion at home and abroad to represent American society and its motives as in the highest degree materialistic, and to cite as illustrations of this doctrine the extraordinary number and value of the inventions which American inventors have contributed to productive industries and the general means of livelihood, such as the telegraph, the telephone, the sewing machine, the mower, the reaper, the rotary printing press, and the machines which get light, heat, and power from electricity. But while such inventions have, indeed, greatly contributed to man's control over nature and to his utilization of natural resources, what kind of a product are the inventors themselves? They have been, and are today, men of unusual natural gifts who have developed as individuals in the freedom of democratic society, a society which produces more abundantly than any other the individual of rare natural endowments, and then gives him freedom to develop in accordance with his natural tendencies and devotions. In other words, the extraordinary new advantages which American inventiveness has given to the whole world are not primarily materialistic in origin, but a mental and spiritual result of the moral character and comprehensive goodwill which democracy develops in both individuals and groups. The new means of communication due to American inventiveness are no more materialistic in essence or in effect than the post-office. They bring near together people who live wide apart, and so facilitate human intercourse, which is good and useful in the main, though sometimes indifferent or even bad.
It appears from this review that the American people have from the first settlement of Europeans on the Atlantic Coast been steadily contributing not only to the promotion of liberty among mankind, but also to the improvement of all those conditions of human life which make for greater comfort, security, and happiness. The phrase in the Declaration of Independence that everyone is entitled to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is highly significant as descriptive of the benevolent objects to which the American people have intentionally and persistently been striving to attain, not only for themselves but for all men. But how have the American people been obliged to live themselves through these centuries of well-directed effort? It is no exaggeration to say that they have been compelled to live ready to use force or violence against opponents--men or natural evils--and prepared to fight all the time.
In the Pilgrim Colony at Plymouth every able-bodied man bore arms and was trained in the use of the guns of that day; and for more than a generation the military force of the colony was under the command of an impetuous and combative professional soldier. In the Puritan Colony of Massachusetts Bay the same state of things existed from the moment when the pioneering Puritan farmers moved away from their ships and their harbors. The men were always armed and equipped for fighting. The Puritan men carried their guns when the family went to Meeting, and kept vigilantly on their guard against the stealthy savages.
The Somes family established early in the eighteenth century at Gloucester, Massachusetts, sent some of their men to explore the wealth of the Maine coast in forests, fish, and water-power before the middle of the century; but they waited to move as a family to the head of Somes's Sound till after Wolfe's victory over Montcalm settled the question which race was to be supreme on that shore, the English or the French. The English colonists in New England took active part in the long series of combats with the Indians, and with the French and Indians in alliance, all the way to the Great Lakes and the Mississippi. When the Revolutionary War broke out, it appeared that at least in New England most of the young men not only knew how to fight, but were ready to do so. Many of the officers in the army which gathered so promptly in Cambridge were men of considerable experience in warfare, and the privates in the patriot soldiery not only attacked in flank and front veteran British troops retreating from Concord and Lexington, but within three months of the outbreak of the war actually repulsed twice some of the most experienced troops in the British army, who assaulted most gallantly the hastily constructed redoubt and fence on Bunker Hill. The Salem, Boston, and New York merchants, who undertook to open trade with the northwest coast of America or the Far East, habitually equipped their trading vessels with plenty of guns and ammunition, and expected bloody encounters with savages, pirates, or the armed forces of the tribes with which they sought to trade; but they never had any difficulty in procuring officers or crews for these vessels, which were expected to fight as well as meet the dangers of the seas.
Within about twenty years of the adoption of the Constitution of the United States the American people found themselves again at war with Great Britain, and again they showed themselves competent and ready to fight, though they fought better on the water than on the land.
Between 1815 and 1855 there was a long period during which bearing arms declined as a habit of the northern section of the American people; and simultaneously skill in the use of firearms in gunning and hunting also declined. So the Civil War opened with plenty of fighting spirit in the northern states, but with a lack of fighting skill which it took the northern troops a year or two to overcome. The southern whites, because of the existence of slavery among them and their liking for shooting game as a sport and a means of livelihood, came better prepared than the northerners to the early battles of the war. But before two years had elapsed the northern troops had acquired as much skill as the southern, and began to win success on hard-fought battle-fields. Before the war ended, the combatants on the two sides fought with equal skill and spirit. The north prevailed, because it had more men and more military and industrial resources, and because it was fighting for Union and against slavery.
Before another generation had passed, the United States went to war again, this time with Spain and more in the interest of Cuba than in their own. Again the fighting spirit of the American people promptly manifested itself on sea and land. The amount of fighting in and around Cuba was comparatively small, and was brought to an end by the generous offer on the part of the United States to send all the Spanish troops in Cuba home to Spain at the cost of the United States. The fighting, however, was much prolonged because the United States, having paid Spain twenty million dollars for the "sovereignty" (whatever that might mean) of the Philippine Islands, had to overcome by force the resistance of the Filipinos, or of a part of them, to the transfer. This fighting was of a kind and for an object highly displeasing to the American people as a whole; but it was persisted in till its object was attained.
What the fighting spirit of the American people was in the World War it is needless to describe. It grew hotter and hotter as the horrors of the prodigious combat increased, and was demonstrated in every field of war endeavor, in the trenches, in the open assault, in the provision of munitions and supplies, and in the hospitals. It appeared in the energetic action of the national and state governments, and in the efficient operations of the numerous patriotic voluntary associations that undertook to supply the physical and mental needs of the soldiers and sailors. Here was a nation which had never before had a real conscript army, had experienced no attack on its own territory for more than a hundred years, and had never before sent an armed force into Europe, suddenly undertaking to pour an immense force into France, and to feed and supply it there in the amplest manner, and all for no material objects or selfish ends of its own, but only to bring help to other nations whose liberties and rights were attacked. The American youth who died in France were not fighting for endangered homes, or for their own freedom to live and work as they pleased. They fought and suffered and died for the advancement and security of public liberty under law, for the diffusion of comfort and security among all classes and conditions of men, and in defense of human welfare and happiness wherever threatened. They had no hesitation about using force to promote these ends, or any scruples about killing and wounding their opponents in order to attain them. Again the fighting spirit in the American people, a result of their three centuries of experience on the fresh American continent!
The Government of the United States has always maintained that it would not intervene forcibly in the domestic affairs of the Central and South American Republics, and particularly of the island republics in the Caribbean Sea. Nevertheless, both the preceding national Administration and the present have felt no difficulty in using the army and navy of the United States for armed intervention in the affairs of some of those republics; and neither of the two great political parties in the United States has thus far shown any disposition to make an issue with either Administration on this subject.
When the police force of Boston suddenly struck, and left the city for some hours at the mercy of hoodlums and criminals, there was an instant response from all classes to the call of the Governor for volunteers to replace the strikers; and within a few weeks a carefully selected and well equipped State Guard was organized to preserve order and protect property throughout the commonwealth. It then appeared that the fighting spirit in Massachusetts had in no way abated through disuse, or in consequence of the large additions, racially heterogeneous, which had been made to her population.
There can be no doubt that all the philanthropic and spiritual contributions the American people have made to civilization--and such are by far their most important contributions--have depended for support and diffusion on their willingness to suffer and fight for them. To these very experiences of suffering in fighting is due the characteristic American advocacy of neutral rights, arbitration, and peace.
When the armistice was unexpectedly signed on November 11, 1918, the state of mind of the American soldiers in France underwent a sudden change. They all wanted to get home at once, and to resume their civil occupations; and many of them, but by no means all, avowed that they never meant to do any more fighting except in defense of their own country and people. Never again would they encounter the sufferings and hardships of the soldier's life, or run the risk of being killed or disabled, for the sake of any other people or nation, or in any way contribute to the enforcement of any treaties or alliances which might hereafter be made for the benefit of the Allies, of the nations which had been neutral during the war, or of the new states which had been created or were to be created as results of the war. No more sacrifice of American lives or American savings should be made for the benefit of foreigners.
Shortly after the signing of the armistice, some political leaders at Washington, made aware of this state of mind among the returning soldiers, began to talk about the secure isolation of the United States and the self-sufficiency of their resources, and to preach the dubious doctrines expressed in the phrases "safety first" and "America first." These slogans are both capable of good uses; but these politicians used them in their selfish and ignoble significations. When the probable terms of the Treaty of Versailles became known, a formidable proportion of the members of the Senate gave notice that they should vote against the ratification of any treaty under which the American people might assume an obligation to enforce the decisions of the Assembly and Council of the League of Nations. Partisan politics had something to do with this demonstration in the Senate against the treaty and the League of Nations which was incorporated with it; but there were members of the Senate who really believed that the conduct of the American people towards their late comrades in arms and towards the promotion of human welfare in general, political, economic, or social, might properly be there-after determined solely by the commercial and financial interests of the American people, and not by any philanthropic or humanitarian emotions or sympathies. The platform of the Republican Party endorsed this demoralizing doctrine. This was an extraordinary departure from the moral principles which the whole experience of the American democracy had inculcated, and the birth of the Republican Party had nobly illustrated.
In November, 1920, the Republican Party returned to power, after an interval of eight years, with an overwhelming majority in both the Senate and the House and complete possession of the administrative organization. The new Administration believed that it had received from the people an emphatic mandate to prevent the United States from incurring any obligation to assist Europe, on either the political or the economic side, to recover from the desolation and chaos which resulted from the war, and particularly to keep the United States out of the League of Nations, because one article in that covenant contemplated the possible use of some international force to prevent outbreaks of war.
Accordingly, the United States have taken no direct official part in any of the international efforts to rescue Europe from its present deplorable condition, although they have sent unofficial observers, or lookers-on, to some of the conferences or meetings on means of rescue. The attitude of the American Government toward all these efforts has been cold and unsympathetic, and as a matter of fact the efforts of the other nations have been crippled by the abstention of the United States. The League of Nations has been well organized, and its membership having been much increased, it has done some effective work toward the re-establishment of order in Europe and the prevention of sporadic fighting; but it cannot accomplish the objects for which it was created until the United States take active part in its work. Why does the American Government maintain this weak and ungenerous attitude? Because it believes that the American people have turned their backs on their history, including that of the five years from 1914 to 1919, and have decided that they will fight no more and suffer no more for other peoples or in the general cause of liberty, justice, and peace for mankind.
There is serious doubt whether any large part of the American people has suffered this moral collapse. In the Presidential election of 1920 some temporary motives took effect on considerable bodies of voters. Thus the German-Americans wished to express their disapprobation of the hatred of Germany which American fighting in Europe on the side of the Allies had engendered; and it seemed to them at the moment that their only way to express that feeling was to vote the Republican ticket. Again the Irish-Americans, contrary to all precedent, voted the Republican ticket in many states and municipalities, because that seemed to them the best way at the moment to express their hatred for Great Britain and their desire to see the British Empire disrupted. Furthermore, in several states and large communities the Management of the Democratic Party was so bad that it was difficult for a patriotic citizen to vote for any of the candidates that Management nominated.
In the two years which have elapsed since the last Presidential election divisions have appeared within the Republican Party itself on such important matters as the Bonus Bill, the Emergency Tariff Bill, the Permanent Tariff Bill, and the proper dealing by the government with the strikes which now threaten the comfort and security of the public and the business prosperity of the whole country. Clearly the American public is beginning to desire that their government assume a vigorous and generous attitude both at home and abroad, an attitude determined not by cowardly selfishness or timid circumspection but by brave disinterestedness. It is highly significant that hundreds of college students and young graduates are at this moment attending at their own charges camps for military instruction and training in which the teachers are men who saw service in the late war. These youths propose to be ready to serve effectively when next their country summons them to fight; they do not like the present attitude of the American Government towards suffering humanity, and hope and expect that the American people will shortly return at whatever risk to their traditional policies in favor of arbitration in international disputes, the development of International Law, the maintenance of an International Court with the usual sanctions for its decisions, and the abolition of war for expansion or conquest. These young men constitute an important element in the new voters. The ex-soldiers who rashly say that they will fight no more have no influence with them.
In the hope of making some contribution to the settlement of Europe and the prevention of war, while still keeping America out of European alliances and treaties, the American Government called and led the Washington Conference. In both the original and the revised Agenda prepared by the Department of State reduction of land forces appeared as one of the prime subjects for consideration at the Conference; but when France declared that she could not reduce her army effectively unless she were promised aid by Great Britain and the United States in case she were again attacked, the reduction of land forces was dropped incontinently by common consent. The United States would give no such promise. Now, it is impossible to restore Europe, either politically or economically, unless the burden of maintaining armies which withdraw all the able-bodied young men of each yearly class from productive industry for a long period, such as three years, two years, or even one year, can be lifted, and this great item of expenditure be removed from each national budget. For example, France cannot re-establish a sound budget and acquire again a sound currency unless her expenditures on her army can be largely reduced. On the other hand, it is obvious that every nation in Europe, and in North and South America as well, must maintain a trained and disciplined military force which can be called upon at any moment by the national government to preserve order and prevent violence in any part of the country. How to train such a national force at low cost, and to keep it always efficient and on instant call, the Swiss Republic has shown the rest of the world; but this lesson can be accepted by the other European nations only when the United States will take the responsibility of urging it.
At the Washington Conference the American Secretary of State carried by great audacity and firmness a serious reduction in the cost of the navies of the leading naval powers; but the reduced navies are to be kept in prime fighting order with all the latest improvements in submarine and aerial activity. This is a gain for the budgets of the few naval powers which is well worth while, but has little effect on the bankrupt condition of the majority of the European powers, and slight if any effect toward the abolition of war. The pacts made at Washington with regard to Pacific Ocean affairs and Far Eastern powers contained no provision for the enforcement of the agreements. If any nation violates or disregards them, the remedy is only more conference. At the Washington Conference the United States did not undertake to use its army or navy, or any part thereof, to enforce on land or sea the agreements into which they entered. The American people seem still to hold the position that they will make no more sacrifices for the promotion in the world of justice, liberty, and peace. How can any lover of his country believe that the American spirit has really sunk so far? How can anyone fail to see that no progress can be made toward the abolition of war until America becomes a full partner in that holy enterprise, and takes all its risks?
Nevertheless, the Washington Conference, in spite of its failure to promise the use of America's armed forces to support the decisions of the new International Court and of the Assembly and Council set up by the League of Nations, and in spite of its general inconclusiveness, did make some gains toward the adoption of better means than militarism and war of settling international disputes. It stopped for a time the ruinous competitive building of navies. In the Four Power Treaty concerning Pacific Islands the United States agree to take part in the discussion of any failure to observe the treaty, although the matter to be discussed is no concern of theirs--a distinct step in advance. The abrogation of the Anglo-Japanese alliance was a real gain towards peace in the Orient; and so was the consideration given by the Conference to the grave Chinese problems which were brought before it. For these accomplishments American patriots may be thankful, while they deeply regret that the Conference stopped so far short of the bold measures needed.
One excuse can be offered for the present reluctance of the American people to take their full share in international action. They have always objected to national action in general, not excepting national action in favor of education and the public health. State rights seemed during the period of the Civil War and the years that immediately preceded and followed that war chiefly a doctrine held in the southern states and based on the desire to resist the attack on slavery by the northern states; but in reality the policy of state rights commends itself in the northern states on many local issues, and even on issues which are inevitably of national scope, like prohibition, tariff, quarantine, irrigation, conservation, and national parks. Some recent events have opened the mind of the people to the indispensableness of national action against evils which take effect, or are liable to take effect, all over the country. It is no use to eradicate hookworm disease in spots. It must be exterminated on large areas, and then every recurrence must be detected and stopped by an authority which can operate at short notice wherever in a broad territory the disease may reappear. It was not until prohibition was ordered by a national enactment that a reduction of the monstrous evil of alcoholism became possible and its ultimate extermination probable. The separate states could not deal intelligently with the engineering problem of irrigation from streams that flowed through several states, or along their borders. The immigration problem could not be dealt with in any satisfactory way until the national government took control of it. The Weather Bureau must be supported by the national government. The late war taught emphatically that the state militias must be converted into National Guards, and in wartime brought under the control and direction of the national military authorities. These vivid lessons have taught many Americans that the historical objection to national action requires modification to meet the new conditions of the Federal Union.
The proposals made by the present Administration with regard to subsidies are not only in the highest degree inexpedient with reference to national economics, but tend to postpone the recovery of the American people from their moral collapse in respect to international affairs. The American people and government went wisely into ship-building in hot haste, without regard to cost, the moment they declared war on Germany in 1917, and showed much wisdom as well as energy in the prosecution of that work. They saw that with the developing power of the German submarine more vessels were indispensable means of prosecuting the war. It was a martial zeal which impelled them to this extravagant expenditure; and many Americans were severely disappointed when the armistice came before the real fruits of the heavy expenditures of our government on shipping had been exhibited on sea and land.
But what has happened in respect to expenditures on shipping during the five years since the armistice was signed? We kept on spending many hundred millions of dollars a year on a navy and an American commercial marine for which we had no use, and which cannot be manned by Americans. The sailor's life has ceased to have attraction for intelligent young Americans. They wisely prefer employments on land that are comparatively free from the hardships and exposures the common sailor and stoker must endure, and do not involve prolonged absences from home and friends. So the American fleets, naval or commercial, cannot be manned by Americans or be made profitable to private owners, unless by the payment of large subsidies unjustly extorted from the mass of the taxpayers. Hence, legislative attempts to give American bottoms advantages over foreign bottoms in both exporting and importing goods, a policy which would be sure to breed international bitterness and strife, and to feed American selfishness rather than American disinterestedness. Every American policy now should be generous as well as just.
What then should American patriots advocate and hope for in respect to American participation in international action to restore stable government to the countries of Europe, old or new, repair the losses in population, public health, means of transportation, and agricultural and manufacturing productiveness, and to efface as fast as possible the distrusts and hatreds which the war engendered? Our government should enter heartily into the existing League of Nations, take a sympathetic share in every discussion broached in the League, and be ready to take more than its share in all the responsibilities which unanimous action of the nations constituting the League might impose. America should cease to keep out of the Paris Covenant, "the greatest step in recorded history in the betterment of international relations," as ex-President Taft said of it in March, 1919, and give over completely every fear of being called upon to fight, no matter where, in support of the decisions of the League. That fear is now and always has been absolutely unworthy of the American people, false to its history, and even falser to its hopes.
The next American contribution to civilization should be full participation in the safe conduct of those world affairs through which the enlightened common interests of mankind are served, first, by joining heartily the League of Nations for the immediate salvation of Europe and the Near East, and then by advocating steadily for all the world Federalism, elastic and progressive Law, cooperative management and discipline in machinery industries, the emancipation of children from fear, harsh domination, and premature labor, the furtherance of preventive medicine and public health, and the opening for everybody of the delightful and sustaining vision of freedom, aspiration, and hope.
[i] True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates.
[ii] 11 December, 1914.