Page images

accounts or reports were produced. The portion of the line near Bagdad appeared irretrievably lost. That near Aleppo fell into Allenby's hands, and was administered by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force till it was handed

to the French. The separation between the Anatolian and Bagdad Railways became effective; for the former was now controlled by the British in Constantinople and the latter by the French in Aleppo.


It may be asked what will be the future of the enterprise which once set half Europe by the ears? The Anatolian Railway is commercially sound ; and should Asia Minor obtain the stable government it needs, Anatolia will take its proper place as one of the great granaries of the world. The Cilician plain, if properly administered, could not only rival but even might excel all other cotton-growing areas. Its harbours are few and indifferent, so that, should the difficulties involved in the maintenance of the Taurus Tunnel system not prove insuperable, the railway from Konia southwards, including the connexion between Aleppo and the coast, may prove successful. under its new name, the SyriaCilicia Railway.'* At the other end, the development of Mesopotamia and the movement of its produce towards its natural embouchure on the Persian Gulf will be facilitated by the existence of a railway from Bagdad to the coast and, though a pipe-line can do much, railway connexion with the coast is a natural requirement of the Mosul oilfields. But between Mosul and Alexandretta lie some four hundred miles of country, most of it mountain or desert; and now that the events of the War have placed Mesopotamia under British control, it is natural that a sea-faring people should seek to develop it down the valley of the Two Rivers to the nearest sea. Turkey ruled the land but not the sea ; it was necessary for her to cross half a continent to evade British sea-power and British control of the Suez Canal. But it is improbable that under ordinary circumstances, even given a stable administration, it should ever be financially worth while to complete and work the line from Aleppo eastwards. When Asia Minor and Syria on the one side and Mesopotamia on the other have been developed, then the question may arise.

* It would never pay to bring goods from Cilicia by Konia to Constanti. nople or Smyrna. All such goods must go by sea from Cilicia. The only use of the Taurus Tunnel is to carry goods from the south-eastern part of the plateau to, Cilician harbours and vice versa.

There are enough possibilities in these lands to occupy all the capital available. They have never been properly administered since Roman days. Gradual development of natural resources will succeed; but ambitious and showy Trans-Continental ventures have been proved a

and delusion. Speedy TransContinental communication will, in future, be made by air; and, though the Bosphorus may be bridged or tunnelled, the world does not need a through express from Vienna, Paris, or Ostend to the Persian Gulf.





SELF-GOVERNMENT is the Mecca of the moral individual. And as such it is-more or less-intelligible. For government of the person by the person (but do not let us say for the person) is possible so long as the person is quite sure that he is a person. Even so, it is not an easy ideal to grasp. For to suppose that a self requires to be governed by itself implies a belief that the word 'indi. vidual' is a misnomer; inasmuch as a self consists, as Plato would have it, of better and worse elements, the former of which should completely dominate the latter; or, as the psychologist will have it, of instincts and reason, the latter of which may have a constitutional monarchy over the former. If an individual were really an individual, one and indivisible, he could not govern himself. He could be governed by somebody else or not governed at all; but he could not so split himself up into parts that one element in the self should govern another. Self-government is not an easily intelligible ideal for the individual, but it is not wholly meaningless, for most of us can, if we like, discern a self to govern and a self to be governed.

But to-day self-government is as much the ideal of society as of the individual. The people who inhabit certain areas of the globe want to be self-governing; the people who pursue the business of getting a living by similar means want to be self-governing. And of course it is axiomatic that any association of persons formed for a definite object-whether the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, or the Overthrow of the Capitalist System—should be within wide limits selfgoverning bodies. Self-government is a plural as well as a singular conception; it is identified with the govern. ment of the people, for the people, by the people, no matter how many of the people there may happen to be.

But self-government as the ambition of society is a great deal more difficult to understand than self-government as the religion of an individual. For, on the one hand, any real self-government in societies of the dimensions of those to which we are accustomed offends against that principle of specialisation, by which alone (for our sins) we are enabled to keep going economically; and in the second place social self-government implies a social self, just as much as individual self-government implies an individual self. On this last rock the democratic ship splits on every voyage; and every such disaster is marked by the wreckage of cynicism and disillusionment that bestrews the course of democracy.

Consider the first point. Democracy, as its name implies, is not native to our people or (which is much more important) to our civilisation. Like so much else in our thought, our institutions and our outlook, it is Greek in origin. It has been said that there is nothing in the world which moves that is not Greek. It might as well have been said that there is nothing in this world which so much hinders movement as the homage paid to the Greek idea. Democracy was born in a city-state. Democracy according to the Greeks mąy be best, for under it the people rules. The Athenians, so they said, considered a man who took no active part in public affairs as something worse than merely idle. And so they might. Those whom a city-state admitted to citizenship at all may have enjoyed some real approach to self-government. Even this, however, has doubtless been exaggerated by the sentimentality of later ages.

It is certain at any rate that the narrow interpretation of citizenship excluded from a share in the government of the communal self the great majority of the dwellers within the city's borders. Still it is probably only in the city-states of classical antiquity that the idea of social self-government has been realised in anything approaching a logical form. Such realisation is only perfectly attained when the butcher, the baker, and the candlestickmaker compose both the self who governs and the self who is governed; when nobody presumes to specialise in the representation of the popular will. For it is only in that case that we have anything comparable to the selfgoverned individual who is at the same time John Brown, the governor, and John Brown, the governed. But to expect that democracy should be the same yesterday, today, for ever; the same for a population of 50 or 100 millions living in a small island, or spread over a great continent; the same in the industrialised as in the agricultural state; the same in a steam-driven as in a horse-drawn civilisation to expect this is to be guilty of a serious lack of historical perspective. True political democracy would imply to-day the conduct at least of legislation, if not of administration, by all the inhabitants of the State. The cruelties of economics, however, compel merciless specialisation; and the selfgovernment of 50 million people is a ludicrous abstraction. Were we each and all to act as the fifty-millionth member of a governing body, starvation would soon bring the numbers of the body into a more reasonable compass. And even if it were not so, it is still doubtful how far such an arrangement would result in true selfgovernment. A committee of fifty millions of people would only exhibit on the grand scale that with which we are familiar enough on the scale of a committee of five—the dominance of the one or two people who have the capacity and the will to get through the work.


We have to face the fact that true self-government is a will-o'-the-wisp not to be caught by the industrialised hands of our over-populated communities. To seize it, we must violate the fundamental laws of economics by which we are imprisoned. If the materialistic interpretation of history means that the limits to the varieties of political or social development are rigidly confined by economic necessity, then it is at once an incontrovertible and a pitiless doctrine. It is this doctrine which puts a stopper on' 19th- or 20th-century democracy. By specialisation we live, and specialisation is the denial of true self-government. And this is a matter of democracy itself, not of democratic mechanics. We have immensely improved our democratic machinery; we have by education and so forth no less improved the material of Demos, the governor and the governed. But these measures do not go to the heart of the problem. A century ago we believed in this country that the will-o'the-wisp could be caught by the extension of the political franchise. That extension was won, step by step and not without bloodshed, by the devotees of the democratic idea. The disillusionment that followed the partial concessions of the first Reform Act gathered momentum in the Chartist agitation. Democracy was still unattained because the franchise was not universal, secret, or everywhere of equal value, because Parliaments lived long

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »