Without trying to indulge in overoptimistic claptrap, it may nevertheless be predicted that, as the twenty-first century advances, human life will change both physically and culturally in an astounding way.
It is true that no particular war can possibly end all war. It is the untamed animal in man which causes all his personal fights, tribal aggressions, and national wars. It is the spiritual nature of man which urges him to live peaceably and harmoniously with his fellows. That man can rid himself of external bloodshed without troubling to rid himself of its internal causes within himself, is one of his intellect-born illusions. It may be kept at a distance for a longer time than before but it cannot be kept there permanently while the passions of hatred, anger, and greed thrive in his heart. But it is also true that his instruments of collective violence have now become so destructive, so terrible, and so cruel that their very results are forcing him to contemplate abandoning such violence altogether, and to turn towards peaceful discussion for the settlement of his disputes. Human conflict has reached its most violent expression in this war [WWII] of staggering planetary dimensions and unheard-of scientific destructiveness. But it helped to quicken the dawn of a day when the soldier's sword and the airman's bomb will be found only in such places as the "Chamber of Horrors" at Madam Tussaud's Museum in London. Such extreme violence was an evolutionary necessity to convince him that he must cease to tolerate war, that he must find a more refined--that is, more mental--method of carrying on his struggles, that he must come into the consciousness of world citizenship, and that he must create international institutions commensurate with such a broader consciousness.
Such thoughts have begun to circulate within his consciousness, but they will circulate forcibly only whilst the horrors of the last war are still easily remembered. It would be wiser and prudent to realize that a long night must precede this full dawn. A fresh generation or two will not feel the force of this remembrance, and then passions which breed war may overcome it and prove stronger than whatever mechanical organization to preserve itself society may have brought into being for its self-protection. This is so because sustained thought is creative and returns to us, in part, in the events which meet us as we travel through life. Nevertheless, we have indeed started to move onward and upward to that degree of ethical maturity which shall surely come when we shall have controlled these passions sufficiently to fight our quarrels around a conference table and not on a battlefield and which shall transform history from a record of national warfare into a record of international welfare.
Is it really a paradox that the first practical step in forging an armour for such self-protection against war must necessarily be a moral and not a physical one? There must be deep unflinching sincerity behind the will for peace. We yearn for a war-proof world; but when we come to consider the practical means of protecting mankind from further wars, we shall discover that insofar as they are not counterweighted with ethical principles and psychological understanding also, they may become as dangerous to us through creating a false sense of safety as the old League of Nations became for a similar reason. One of the half-conscious tasks which destiny placed in the war's hands was to show the world's face to itself. In the result it unmasked a gargoyle before an affrighted audience. For instance, when Hitler denounced the League of Nations as a humbug, we turned our ears away. Yet he was not wrong as he was not quite right. For those who know what really went on behind its public conferences and pleasant speeches, know also that too much unscrupulous intrigue, political greed, and ethical insincerity were covered by its fine verbal facade of idealism and morality. The closure of Suez and its withdrawal of oil would have brought Mussolini's Ethiopian adventure, for instance, to an abrupt close. But this needed a sincerity which was lacking. The betrayals of Manchuria to Japan, of Ethiopia to Italy, and of Czechoslovakia to Germany were lapses in international morality whose consequences ruined the League. Its ethical failure was inevitably followed by its physical failure.
Not that the basic conception of a League of Nations was a bad one; on the contrary, it was magnificent! But it was one thing to invent machinery to check the outbreak of war and quite another to find the mental outlook large enough to work such machinery. For the new institution itself did not change their old outlook. Geneva witnessed both the birth of a great idea and the death of a grand hope. The League perished because it put heads together but not hearts. It was to be expected that a machine of the character of the League of Nations would work badly at first, but it was not expected that it would ignominiously fail to work at all. Only a few anticipated this failure. They were the few who comprehended that the mental reality behind a thing is more formidable and important than its material appearance, that the inevitable karma of so much past aggression, exploitation, cruelty, and selfishness could not be easily circumvented without a real change of heart.
The League of Nations was only an idea. It never came to life because it was never given the chance to do so. And it was never given the chance because each of its members thought of its own country first and the League second, because each brought its nationalistic interests right into the League chambers and kept them there as the foremost purpose of its presence, because none had the consciousness of really being what all pretended to be--a united commonwealth. We, however, have the splendid chance to make it something more than an idea. For most statesmen now realize that some kind of arrangement which will honestly carry out its task of preventing aggressive war and not merely talk about doing so, which will comprehend that the duty of stronger nations is to protect the weaker ones and not to exploit them, must paradoxically be one of the products of this terrible time. Thus Nazism, which was fundamentally opposed to the idea of a just peace, unwittingly and unwillingly contributed to its stabilization.
We must begin a new effort by realizing that the guns may stop shooting but this is not enough to make a peace. We need something more. We need a reconstructed society where the moral and physical causes which may ultimately set guns shooting again will themselves be liquidated. We must proceed by understanding that the historical and geographical accidents which divide one people from another, one class from another, one nation from another, have fostered dislike, suspicion, and even hatred in the past. The limited nationalistic outlook can no longer be accepted uncritically. The developments of modern scientific civilization have filled it with contradictions and imperfections, with dangers and inadequacies. In its prewar form it has become antiquated. It must now be revised and brought into line with postwar needs. Every major situation today is not only a national one but also an international one. Nations will have to broaden their outlook and give up some fraction of their nationalistic fervour not merely for the benefit of all but more so for their own individual benefit. And they will have to do this not only because the war's practical lessons have left them no alternative, but also because their moral evolution has left them no alternative. The necessity of curbing the power and authority of competitive nationality in the interests of international welfare is plain. Nazism and Fascism represented indeed in one aspect the last furious struggle of nationalism become aggressive and bellicose in an endeavour to save itself from impending and enforced limitation.
The animosities and prejudices, the rivalries and hatreds, of the old-fashioned nationalistic outlook must be replaced by the co-operative outlook of a new internationalism. Whether we like it or not, we are in the process of swiftly becoming a world community. The quicker we cut out the time-lag between the dissolution of our prejudices and the realization of our evolutionary needs, the less painful will it be. The sympathetic interest in foreign peoples, the feeling of connection with the wider human race, is something new in history but it is something which has come to stay. No continent can now afford to forget--as it has so often in the past--that it is a part of the same planet as the others. The great globe whose monstrous size frightened medieval minds has shrunk to a little ball which man now plays with. The war has taught more people more geography than any school ever did. This is not merely something to make us smile but also something to make us think. For it has forcibly brought home to them the fact that life today is an international affair, that they are being brought into ever-closer relations. We have to realize that we are approaching the middle of the twentieth century and not the middle of the eighteenth. Wireless, cable, telephone, steamer, railway, and printing press have made a new international relationship both necessary and possible but they have not yet made it actual.
The technological and commercial developments which have dissolved so many of the physical divisions in the present may be used, if we wish, to foster friendship, understanding, and goodwill in the future. The problems which have to be settled are now too large to be settled successfully on a prewar basis. A new international order must be instituted as being the only effective way to deal with them. Henceforth, the major events in every country must be looked upon as an integral and inseparable part of the planetary situation. The separate peoples are today too interdependent to carry on successfully with anything short of such an order. Every people is a part of a social organism and must share the general fate of that organism. If such a federation is still far off, it is near enough that a third world war will precipitate it overnight. For the difficulties of achieving it are really less than the difficulties into which another great war will plunge everybody. One must take a realistic view of the situation, yes, but one need not throw all one's idealism overboard to do it.
We have in the past enlarged the meaning of the word "patriotism" from a merely local to a tribal significance and then from a tribal to a national one. We must in the present enlarge it once again. It is no longer enough to be only Fiji Islanders or Frenchmen. We must also, and alongside of that, be world patriots. The political frontiers which separate one country from another separate them also from prosperity, peace, and advancement. The time will surely come one day to pull them down, when the United States of the World will come to birth as a single entity. The ultimate evolution will certainly be towards a universal humanity.
The immediate evolution is towards a consciousness that we are all human beings just as much as we are tribesmen or race members. This need not mean the total destruction of national sentiments and the total wounding of national vanities. It need not necessarily exclude an enlightened patriotism or a balanced devotion to a particular national or racial group. It would exclude, however, the hatreds, the prejudices, the dislikes, and the intolerant fanaticisms bred by false patriotism and narrow insularity. Just as a larger circle does not exclude the smaller concentric one contained within it, so loyalty to mankind as a whole need not exclude the lesser loyalties to race, creed, and class. What it does is to subordinate them. Each people could carry on its own autonomous existence and independent activities within the framework of an international association. The rights of freedom and self-rule need not be menaced by the broader rights of such an association. When the forms, interests, and arrangements of mankind become internationalized, the benefit will be moral as well as material. For group selfishness, false national pride, and racial prejudices will be forced down into second place behind human fellowship and common welfare. The administrative essentials of a fully developed new international order must consist of a world legislature, a world executive, and a world tribunal.
Most people are now much more ready for the widening in loyalties which world-order schemes would involve, but they are not at all as ready as they should be. Thus, they unnecessarily deprive themselves of the clear advantages of such an order and go on foolishly enduring the troubles of the old order. That we are moving toward some kind of single World Commonwealth is certain. That we are not emotionally ready for it is also certain. For the events and inventions which are pushing us forward are ahead of our ideas and ideals. The tragic needs of our time do not find a commensurate mentality to meet them. The Europeans, for example, cannot be persuaded to renounce their state sovereignties, cannot be made into common citizens of a frontierless continent against their will. How much more will this be the case with a world-citizenship scheme? But in the end humanity will find itself unable to keep the peace between its diversified groups without creating a separate paramount international association--be it central, federal, or league. A world organization which can legally settle international disputes and which possesses the armed power to enforce its decisions or to resist aggressions cannot ultimately be avoided. Men, in their present stage of moral evolution, cannot be effectively governed without the use of some kind of physical coercion nor can their national disputes be settled without some means of physically enforcing decisions. The peoples are being evolved from within and driven from without to the point where only a world association will fit their political needs.
Such an authority would possess the usual administrative powers. First, it would be a legislature whose jurisdiction would extend over the whole field of international matters and regulate by agreed laws the political, commercial, and cultural relations between the States. Second, it would be a tribunal where final judgement would be pronounced upon disputes, aggressions, and alterations of frontiers. Third, it would be an executive equipped to maintain order and enforce laws actually worked out to preserve peace. But besides the necessity of preventing possible internecine wars the practical advantages of such a common authority are so obvious that the administrations of the otherwise independent units will sooner or later be forced by developments to accept it. Such advantages would include a customs union, a common currency, a common transport system, and probably a common armed force. But the danger here is that a paramount supranational power may develop into a tyrannous suprastate. It may be that adequate checks and safeguards can be devised by statesmen against it, but in the end it can be overcome only by overcoming the moral and mental defects in men which could cause it.
If men are not evolved enough to support such an ideal institution as a world family of democratic nations, they are not so low that they cannot support the beginnings of such an institution. If a nation is unwilling to be its neighbour's keeper, it ought at least be willing to be its neighbour's helper. It is inevitable that as men become more truly spiritually minded they will become more internationally minded. And this is certain to reflect itself in turn in their political systems. The end of such a process can only be the formation of an international commonwealth. Hence, every political measure which promotes this end is a right one and every measure which obstructs it is a wrong one. But it must be also well-timed or it will defeat its own end. The League was ill-timed. The right time for a solely regional scheme was after World War I. Instead, too much was attempted by way of the League, which inevitably failed. But after World War II a regional scheme alone would likewise fail. The present suggestion adapts itself to this factor of proper timing.
It was predicted in The Wisdom of the Overself that the principle of co-operation would be the only principle to emerge from all the postwar conferences as being effective enough to solve their thorny problems. It will have many possible spheres of application but the first and major one will be in the direction of peace. So we venture to predict again that failure of international co-operative action to create and sincerely to sustain some kind of an assembly of representatives drawn from the different nations, will lead directly to the catastrophe of a third armed conflict more terrible than this planet has yet known. It could lead to this in one and a half to two decades. Metropolitan cities would not be able to escape heavy bombing and wide destruction. Such an honest and determined assembly of nations would be better protection for every country than any army, navy, or air force.
The ultimate evolution of the twenty-first century will be toward a democratic world association, acting through an international parliament, an international tribunal, and an international executive, which would impartially regulate, coordinate, and boldly envelop the entire economic resources of the planet as a whole. When all nations can thus share equitably in the common wealth and productivity, one of the prime causes of war between them would completely vanish. Past events have tragically proved the truth of these statements. Many of the calamities such as monetary collapse, trade depression, and labour strikes which descended on classes, masses, and nations were caused by their failure to recognize the immense power of the principle of mutual help and by their inability to meet the events of this historic turning-point with the understanding they demand. The first nation to recognize the one and to meet the other will do much, not only for herself, but also for all other nations. Both moral development and practical exigencies will require us in the end to subscribe to the fundamental truth that prosperity, no less than peace, is one and indivisible. But, unfortunately, we are not yet emotionally ready to climb such a height. We must expect, therefore, that different kinds of troubles will plague us from time to time as the penalty of our unreadiness.
-- Notebooks Category 11: The Negatives > Chapter 3: Their Presence in The World > # 363