Page images
PDF
EPUB

6

a divine vocation. But in all useful work the keen desire to render social service, or to do God's will, diminishes to an incalculable extent the human cost' of labour. This principle introduces a deep cleavage between the Christian remedy and that of political socialism, which fosters discontent and indignation as a lever for social amelioration. Men are made unhappy in order that they may be urged to claim a larger share of the world's wealth. Christianity considers that, measured by human costs, the remedy is worse than the disease. The adoption of a truer standard of value would tear up the lust of accumulation by the roots, and would thus effect a real cure. It would also stop the grudging and deliberately bad work which at present seriously diminishes the national wealth.

The Christian cure is the only real cure. It is the fashion to assume that militarism and cupidity are vices of the privileged classes, and that democracies may be trusted neither to plunder the minority at home nor to seek foreign adventures by unjust wars. There is not the slightest reason to accept either of these views. Political power is always abused ; an unrepresented class is always plundered. Nor are democracies pacific, except by accident. At present they do not wish to see the capital which they regard as their prospective prey dissipated in war; and for this reason their influence in our time will probably be on the side of peace. But, as soon as the competition of cheap Asiatic labour becomes acute, we may expect to see the democracies bellicose and the employing class pacific. This is not guess-work; we already see how the democracies of California and Australia behave towards immigrants from Asia. Readers of Anatole France will remember his description of the economic wars decreed by the Senate of the great republic, at the end of “L'Ile des Pingouins.' It would, indeed, be difficult to prove that the expansion of the United States has differed much, in methods and morals, from that of the European monarchies; and the methods of trade-unions are the methods of pitiless belligerency. Democracy and socialism are broken reeds for the lover of peace to lean upon.

In conclusion, our answer to the indictment against Christianity is that institutional religion does not represent the Gospel of Christ, but the opinions of a mass of nominal Christians. It cannot be expected to do much more than look after its own interests and reflect the moral ideas of its supporters. The real Gospel, if it were accepted, would pull up by the roots not only militarism but its analogue in civil life, the desire to exploit other people for private gain. But it is not accepted. We have seen that the Founder of Christianity had no illusions as to the reception which Hig message of redemption would meet with. The Prince of this World' is not Christ, but the Devil. Nevertheless, He did speak of the ‘whole lump' being gradually leavened, and we shall not exceed the limits of a reasonable and justifiable optimism if we hope that the accumulated experience of humanity, and perhaps a real though very slow modification for the better of human nature itself, may at last eliminate the wickedest and most insane of our maleficent institutions. The human race has probably hundreds of thousands of years to live, whereas our so-called civilisation cannot be traced back for more than a few thousand years. The time when 'nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more,' will probably come at last, though no one can predict what the conditions will be which will make such a change possible.

The signs are not very favourable at present for internationalism. The great nations, bankrupt and honeycombed with social unrest, will be obliged after the war to organise themselves as units, with governments strong enough to put down revolutions, and directed by men of the highest mercantile ability, whose main function will be to increase productiveness and stop 'waste. We may even see Germany mobilised as one gigantic trust for capturing markets and regulating prices. A combination so formidable would compel other nations, and our own certainly among the number, to adopt a similar organisation. This would, of course, mean a complete victory for bureaucratic state-socialism, and the defeat of democracy and trade-union syndicalism. Such a change, which few would welcome, will occur if no other form of state is able to survive; and this is what we may live to see. But there is no finality about any experiments in government. A period of internationalism may follow the intense nationalism which historical critics foresee for the twentieth century. Or perhaps the international labour-organisations may be too strong for the centralising forces. It is just possible that Labour, by a concerted movement during the violent reaction against militarism which will probably follow the war, will forbid any further military or naval preparations to be made.

Whatever forms reconstruction may take, Christianity will have its part to play in making the new Europe. It will be able to point to the terrible vindication of its doctrines in the misery and ruin which have overtaken a world which has rejected its valuations and scorned its precepts. It is not Christianity which has been judged and condemned at the bar of civilisation; it is civilisation which has destroyed itself because it has honoured Christ with its lips, while its heart has been far from Him. But a spiritual religion can win a victory only within its own sphere. It can promise no Deuteronomic catalogue of blessings and cursings to those who obey or disobey its principles. Social happiness and peace would certainly follow a whole-hearted acceptance of Christian principles; but they would not certainly bring wealth or empire. «Philosophy,' said Hegel,

will bake no man's bread'; and it is only in a spiritual sense that the meek-spirited can expect to possess the earth. Nevertheless, it is a mistake to suppose that a Christian nation would be unable to hold its own in the struggle for existence. A nation in which every citizen endeavoured to pay his way and to help his neighbour would be in no danger of servitude or extinction. The mills of God grind slowly, but the future does not belong to lawless violence. In the long run, the wisdom'that is from above will be justified in her children.

6

[ocr errors]

W. R. INGE.

Art. 3.—THE TURKISH PEASANTRY OF ANATOLJA.

1. Researches in Asia Minor. By W. J. Hamilton.

Murray, 1842: 2. Turkish Stories and Parables (the concluding part of

* Frederick the Great on Kingcraft'). By J. W. Whit

tall. Longmans, 1901. 3. A Wandering Scholar in the Levant. By D. G. Hogarth. Murray, 1895.

And other works.

THERE is an aspect of the Turkish situation which deserves to be carefully considered by those who are interested in the future relations between Great Britain and Turkey-What will be the condition of the Moslem peasant population after the war? It is unlikely that Britain will be able, or even willing, to wash her hands of Turkey permanently or completely. The country will remain on the hands of the Allied powers. Not merely must the scanty remnants of the Christian and the Jewish populations be cared for and helped to recover their position and their economic ability; an equally pressing and even a bigger matter will be to set the Moslem population of Anatolia and Syria on their feet. They are not in an economic point of view self-sufficient. They cannot recreate their position, poor as it was before the war.

It is useless to give them money (which some people regard as a cure for every ill); to give money to those who cannot use it wisely only makes their situation worse. Morally, intellectually and financially, those Moslem peasants will be found incapable of making the effort which is needed to restore prosperity or even any ordinary comfort to their villages and their families.

Apart from a few exceptional cases, the agricultural tradition has for a long time been not improving but deteriorating over great part of Anatolia (to which my knowledge, and therefore the scope of the present article, are restricted); Anatolia, however, contains the strength and the backbone of the Turkish state. Further, I have in mind the central mass of Anatolia, where Moslems constitute almost the entire population, setting aside those districts where Greeks on the one side and Armenians on the other furnish (or at least formerly

Vol. 229,-No. 454.

E

furnished) an influential part, numerically as well as morally, of the inhabitants. Money wisely given, and not merely distributed at random, may help the Greeks and Armenians; even the staving-off of starvation will do them permanent good, for they are energetic, and they have some knowledge; but the Moslem peasants need guidance more than money. After the war they will have deteriorated still further in respect of economic capacity. It requires knowledge to carry on agriculture and make it successful even after the simple fashion of Western Asia. The whole basis upon which the economic existence of the peasantry rested will be found to have been broken up during the war and the sufferings which it has entailed on the peasantry. People who are accustomed to a stable social order (as in Great Britain) are for the most part hardly conscious of the vast amount of practical wisdom which has been applied in building the foundations on which civilised life rests. Even in the much more simple and humble life of the Moslem peasantry there was involved an amount of practical knowledge and cooperation which will not be recognised until the want of it is felt. The reasons which have led to this long-continued economic deterioration form the subject of the present article; and the need of drawing attention to this subject was strongly impressed upon me in conversation with an extremely well-informed American consul, who had just returned from Turkey and who has had long experience of the country.

It has been natural that the attention of the Allied Christian peoples should have been almost wholly directed in the last year or two to the condition and the sufferings of the Christian peoples who are still left under the domination of the Turks, and it is an unpopular thing at the present time to speak about the needs of the Turkish people; but the Turkish problem is one that cannot be avoided in the near future. It is impossible to obliterate from the attention of the world a large population in a country that was once wealthy and productive, and might be so again, a country which was more than once the cradle of a young civilisation and the central point in the movement of history. A large mass of suffering and undirected or misdirected people anywhere constitutes a general evil for modern civilisation.

« PreviousContinue »