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margin at which existence is just possible. Industry on the European system of mass-production is still in its infancy in Asia; where it exists, it is very profitable. It is said that at the present time Japan, which till lately was a very poor country, contains as many millionaires, in proportion to its population, as the United States. The second objection-that if our premisses are true, no efforts on our part can avert the ruin of the white races, is not altogether sound. The industrialisation of Asia will undoubtedly give rise to the same labo ir difficulties which cripple our home industries. The wages of the Indian and Chinese operative will rise. They will certainly not rise sufficiently to prevent Asiatic merchants from capturing all our markets if we go on as we are doing; but the case of British trade is not yet quite hopeless. A great increase of production, and a cessation of strikes, with a Government pledged to peace, free trade, and drastic retrenchment, would restore confidence and give the country a chance of returning to sound business principles. We still have some advantages, including our coal, and a geographical position which, though no longer the best, is a good one. But the country must learn that our industry must henceforth be conducted under unprivileged conditions. The relation of wages to output must be approximately that which prevails in the world at large. Moreover, as our period of expansion is probably over, we cannot provide for a larger population than we have at present. The birth-rate must match the death-rate, as it does in France. It is probable indeed that we shall not be able to employ or to feed the whole 48 millions who now inhabit these islands. A gradual reduction in our numbers, by emigration or by birthcontrol, might save much misery.

Behind the problem of our own future rises the great question whether any nation which aims at being a working-man's paradise can long survive. Civilisation hitherto has always been based on great inequality. It has been the culture of a limited class, which has given its character to the national life, but has not attempted to raise the whole people to the same level. Some civilisations have decayed because the privileged class, obeying a law which seems to be almost invariable,

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have died out, and the masses have been unable to perpetuate a culture which they never shared. Civilisation, therefore, based on inequality, has always been insecure; and there are other reasons why the ideal of equality, or at least of equal opportunity, is attractive to many. But a universal high standard of living seems to be impossible in an industrial community. It has been suggested that what Aristotle called inanimate instruments (as distinguished from the animate instruments-the slaves) may take the place of the poorly paid labourer. In other words, we may all be comfortable when we have machines to work for us. But it must be remembered that machines displace hand-labour; so that the proposed improvements would reduce the number of men and women for whom employment could be found. Further, the extended use of machinery means in practice that every worker is himself turned into cog in a machine. His working life consists of repeating, thousands of times a day, some simple movement, like turning a screw. The human organism is not adapted to this kind of work; it is hateful and injurious. All joy in labour, all the pleasure of creation, all art and ingenuity, are killed by such excessive mechanisation. Machinery will no doubt perform many unpleasant tasks for us, as it does already; but it will not enable the whole population to live in comfortable villas, and to eat as much expensive food as they desire. Least of all will this be possible in our densely populated island, for reasons which have already been stated.

The present writer has urged these considerations before, of course with the object of demonstrating the ruinously unsound economics of the Labour movement, and of pleading with his countrymen to return to saner counsels while yet there is time. He pictured a possible reversion to the conditions which prevailed in England before the industrial revolution-a reversion which would involve the disappearance of our great towns, the death of their inhabitants, the repudiation of our debts, and the end of our position as a Great Power. He was rather taken aback when a few extremists said in effect: Your Sarguments are perfectly sound; that is the revolution which we wish to bring out. We shall be happier and healthier as a small agricultural people.' I had not


expected that any one would choose that horn of my dilemma. These extremists can hardly have pictured to themselves the dreadful misery of a starving nation and a dying social order; and it is incredible that half our population should acquiesce in such a fate, in order that the survivors might enjoy an idyllic existence in the next century. It is conceivable that such a fate may be in store for us; but if so, every patriot and every humane man would wish to spread the shrinkage over as long a period as possible, so that prudence rather than famine might effect the necessary reduction in numbers.

Lastly, have we any right to assume that the supremacy of the Asiatic would be a retrograde step in the history of the world? The Americans do assume it as unquestionable; but they seldom condescend to give their reasons. There is no physical or intellectual inferiority in the yellow races-that is certain; and the moral inferiority of the Asiatic consists chiefly in a callousness about bearing and inflicting suffering, which the Orientals themselves admit. An Indian pundit said to Mr Townsend, 'The substantial difference between the English and us is not intellectual at all. We are the brighter, if anything; but you have pity (doya), and we have it not.' An English officer told me that he once stood over the mangled body of a Chinaman who had met with a violent death. Noticing, as he thought, some sign of compassion on the stolid face of the dead man's companion, he said, 'This is a sad sight.' 'Yes,' said the Celestial: he owed me ten cents'! But there are other virtues in which the Oriental is our superior; the Japanese, especially, have achieved the boast of Pericles, that the Athenians are lovers of beauty combined with plain living, better than any other modern people. It is the plain living which sticks in the throat of the American; but it need not stick in ours. Probably the Eastern races will force upon us a general simplification of life, which will give us a social freedom to which we have long been strangers. A Russian-one of the survivors of the intelligentsia who have escaped from the Terror-has lately suggested that the psychological cause of the war is that people were stifling under the burden of civilisation,' compelled to make, to buy, and to consume countless unnecessary articles which

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were 'of use neither to him who made them nor to him who sold them, nor even to him who bought them.' To simplify life by abolishing irrational and unnecessary expenditure would increase our health and happiness, and would perhaps enable us to hold our own against the races of the East, who in truth have as much to teach us as they have learnt from us. A gradual assimilation in the modes of life of all civilised countries is to be expected. There will be no more hermit kingdoms. The Asiatic will have more wants; the European and American must be content with fewer. The chief danger to the white man arises from his arrogant contempt for other races, a contempt which in America is mixed with fear and hatred, and which has provoked fear and hatred in return. Europeans have recently enjoyed an unfair advantage over their rivals, which they have abused without the slightest regard for justice and fair play. This advantage will not be theirs in the future: they will have to compete on equal terms with nations schooled by adversity and winnowed by the hard struggle for existence. Victory will go to the races which are best equipped for that kind of competition; and it may well be that a modified caste system, such as prevails in India and prevailed till lately in Europe, may prove to have a greater survival value than either democracy, which pulverises society into individuals and collects them again into mobs, or socialism, which in its present form desires to keep the whole population as nearly as possible on the same level. An English poet has given his opinion that fifty years of Europe are better than a cycle of Cathay. But the future may show that the European is a good sprinter and a bad stayer. It is better to be a hare than a tortoise; but it is better to be a live tortoise than a dead hare.





1. A History of the English Agricultural Labourer. Dr W. Hasbach. Translated by Ruth Kenyon. Second impression. P. S. King, 1920.

2. The Village Labourer, 1760-1832. By J. L. and Barbara Hammond. New edition. Longmans, 1920. 3. A History of the English Agricultural Labourer, 18701920. By F. E. Green. P. S. King, 1920.

AGRICULTURE has troubles peculiar to itself. But its greatest difficulty is one that it shares with other industries. It is labour. Yet it would be fatal to think that the agricultural problem is, in this respect, identical with the industrial problem, or to attempt to apply to both exactly the same solutions. The cultivation of the soil is the oldest of our industries, and those who pursue it as their ancestral calling have, in the course of centuries, developed habits of mind that survive from generation to generation. No such complications affect our factories. They are comparatively recent growths. Of the methods of production that they have supplanted little, if anything, survives. With the extinction of the domestic handicraftsmen disappeared the ideals, customs, and traditions of their trades. In the case of cultivators of the soil it is different. The agricultural worker of to-day is a wage-earner, a hired labourer. The system under which he toils is altered. But he tills the same soil by the same processes under the same seasons.. At heart he retains the native instincts, ideals, and traditions of the peasant of the 18th century, who was either a small farmer, or not exclusively dependent for his home and his livelihood on the sale of his labour on the land at competitive wages. In that direction may perhaps lie the path to contentment and stability. An interest in the land that he cultivates or in the produce that he raises, rather than successive increases in weekly wages, may prove the truer remedy for his unrest.

From the three books, whose titles head these pages, may be gathered a continuous history of the agricultural worker from the earliest times to the present day. The sympathies of the three writers are strongly, sometimes passionately, enlisted on the side of the cultivator

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