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and social life. The 19th-century revolutionaries—the Anarchists, the Socialists, and to some extent the Liberals
were driven to their destructive activities by the sense that actual European society was a mere embodiment of material force and fraud-magnum latrocinium, as St Augustine says—that it was based on no principle of justice, and organised for no spiritual or ideal end; and the more the simpler and more obvious remediesRepublicanism, Universal Suffrage, National SelfDetermination-proved disappointing to the reformers, the deeper became their dissatisfaction with the whole structure of existing society. And so, finally, when the process of disillusionment is complete, this religious impulse that lies behind the revolutionary attitude may turn itself against social life altogether, or at least against the whole system of civilisation that has been built up in the last two centuries. This attitude of mind seems endemic in Russia, partly perhaps as an inheritance of the Byzantine religious tradition. We see it appearing in different forms in Tolstoi, in Dostoievski, and in the Nihilists, and it is present as a psychic undercurrent in most of the Russian revolutionary movements. It is the spirit, which seeks not political reform, not the improvement of social conditions, but escape, liberation–Nirvana.
In the words of a modern poet (Francis Adams), it is • To wreck the great guilty temple, and give us Rest.'
And in the years since the war, when the failure of the vast machinery of modern civilisation has seemed so imminent, this view of life has become more common even in the West.
It has inspired the work of the Austrian poet, Albert Ehrenstein,* and many others. Mr D. H. Lawrence has well expressed it in Count Psanek's profession of faith, in 'The Ladybird' (pp. 43–44):
'I have found my God. The god of destruction—The god of anger, who throws down the steeples and factory chimneys.
Not the trees, these chestnuts for example—not thesenor the chattering sorcerers, the squirrels-nor the hawk that comes. Not those.
* For instance, the following verse :-
Ich beschwöre euch, zerstamfet die Stadt.
What grudge have I against a world, where even the hedges are full of berries, branches of black berries that hang down and red berries that thrust up? Never would I hate the world. But the world of man. I hate it.
'I believe in the power of my dark red heart. God has put the hainmer in my breast-the little eternal hammer. Hit-hit-hit. It hits on the world of man. It hits, it hits. And it hears the thin sound of cracking.
* Oh, may I live long. May I live long, so that my hammer may strike and strike, and the cracks go deeper, deeper. Ah, the world of man. Ah, the joy, the passion in every heart beat. Strike home, strike true, strike sure. Strike to destroy it. Strike ! Strike! To destroy the world of man.
Ah God, Ah God, prisoner of peace.'
It may seem to some that these instances are negligible, mere morbid extravagances, but it is impossible to exaggerate the dangers that must inevitably arise when once social life has become separated from the religious impulse.
We have only to look at the history of the ancient world and we shall see how tremendous are these consequences. The Roman Empire, and the Hellenistic civilisation of which it was the vehicle, became separated in this way from any living religious basis, which all the efforts of Augustus and his helpers were powerless to restore, and thereby, in spite of its high material and intellectual culture, the dominant civilisation became hateful in the eyes of the subject Oriental world. Rome was to them not the ideal world-city of Virgil's dream, but the incarnation of all that was anti-spiritual, Babylon the great, the mother of Abominations, who bewitched and enslaved all the peoples of the earth, and on whom at last the slaughter of the saints and the oppression of the poor would be terribly avenged. And so all that was strongest and most living in the moral life of the time separated itself from the life of society and from the service of the state, as from something unworthy and even morally evil. Thus we see in Egypt in the fourth century, over against the great Hellenistic city of Alexandria filled with art and learning and all that made life delightful, a new power growing up, the power of the men of the desert, the naked fasting monks and ascetics, in whom, however, the new world recognised its masters.
When in the fifth century the greatest of the late Latin writers summed up the history of the great Roman tradition, it is in a spirit of profound hostility and disillusionment:' acceperunt mercedem suam,' says he in an unforgettable sentence, 'vani vanam.'
This spiritual alienation of its own greatest minds is the price that every civilisation has to pay, when it loses its religious foundations, and is contented with a purely material success. We are only just beginning to understand how intimately and profoundly the vitality of a society is bound up with its religion. It is the religious impulse which supplies the cohesive force which unifies a society and a culture. The great civilisations of the world do not produce the great religions as a kind of cultural by-product; in a very real sense, the great religions are the foundations on which the great civilisations rest. A society which has lost its religion becomes
. sooner or later a society which has lost its culture.
What, then, is to be the fate of this great modern civilisation of ours? a civilisation which has gained an extension, and a wealth of power and knowledge which the world has never known before. Is it to waste its forces in the pursuit of selfish and mutually destructive aims, and to perish for lack of vision ? or can we hope that society will once again become animated by a common faith and hope, which will have the power to order our material and intellectual achievements in an enduring spiritual unity ?
Art. 8.-LABOUR IN THE NEW ERA.
THE General Election of 1924 has brought the country definitely into a new era. The war, the war mood, and the post-war mood are finally left behind. And as the shock and strain of the contest, the high-pitched hopes, the corresponding bitterness and despair, the nerve storms and the shell-shock symptoms of its aftermath pass into history, Britain swings back to normal, sane in judgment, anxious to do what is right, determined to move forward, but cautious and practical-now, in short, as ever, true to type. Naturally enough, therefore, the first great popular expression of opinion in this new era has resulted in an overwhelming decision in favour of Conservatism, to which, as a result, has been confided the task of shaping, moulding, expressing in practical form the outlook and aspirations of the race.
Meantime, what of the second Party in the State, fresh from its first experience of office and from a crushing popular defeat? It is inevitable and essential that the Labour Party and the Labour Movement' should revise and reconsider its outlook and its attitude to meet the new situation, the new atmosphere, the new
That it will seek to do so is certain, for no party is more sensitive to the mood of the moment. The fluidity of its outlook is indeed remarkable. It is prepared to be revolutionary in a revolutionary atmosphere; to be constitutional when the weather report says fine.' In the years since the war, indeed, the Labour Party has registered almost slavisbly the Continental weather conditions. In 1918-20, when Bolshevism was mastering its domestic opponents and successfully defending itself against foreign attack, Councils of Action, Workmen's and Soldiers' Councils were all the vogue here. When the Russian attack upon Poland ended in the utter discomfiture of the invaders, the cooling-off process began; Lenin's admission that pure communism was economically impracticable and that private enterprise must be allowed to begin again produced a further fall in the temperature; while the fate of the Capital Levy at the hands of the Swiss democracy was followed by a positively cold snap.'
And now Britain has taken a hand in the game. The General Election has struck with an arctic chill the whole Continental rapprochement of the Labour Party and frozen it stiff in its tracks.
The liaison between British Labour and Revolutionary Internationalism was essentially a war product. It was Labour's pet, private, and particular alliance in a world organised in alliances. And it has given the Labour Party its bitterest experience. It will now disappear without trace. The wild men will come to heel, for they and Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, in their devotion to their Russian friends, between them wrecked the first Labour Government. As a result, the moderate leaders, Mr Thomas, Mr Snowden, and Mr Henderson, have, on this subject, complete control of the situation. Their advice was disregarded. Had it been followed on the night of the Campbell debate, when the Cabinet sat all the evening attempting, as it is generally understood, to persuade the Prime Minister to grant an independent inquiry, the election would not only have been avoided in October, but it need not have taken place last autumn at all. For within a week of the dissolution, the Zinovieff letter was in the hands of the Foreign Office, bringing with it an obvious way of escape from the toils of the Russian Treaty. With a noble gesture Mr MacDonald could have explained that he had been misled ; that the Treaty must be dropped ; that his Government was above all a Government of patriots. Even Mr Lansbury would have been muzzled; for to protest would have been openly to support revolution in Britain. Thus the Government could have converted its one great embarrassment into a valuable asset. It would have had the Liberal Party in Parliament at its mercy. It would have immensely increased its own prestige, and Mr MacDonald could have moved steadily forward to a second Budget from Mr Snowden, with a General Election under the most favourable conditions as its sequel. The violence of the internationalist group, the weakness first and then the obstinacy and bad temper of Mr MacDonald, ruined this fair prospect. It must be the bitterest of reflexions for the more moderate and statesmanlike men in the late Labour Cabinet that it was their own leader who prevented their making use of the means of escape