Our Expanding Horizons
THERE IS NO UNBROKEN LINE OF PROGRESS IN HISTORY
By BRUCE HOPPER, Associate Professor of Government at Harvard University
Delivered in Symposium on "Our Expanding Horizons," Metropolitan Opera House, New York, May 17, 1940
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VI, pp. 486-488
IN the three fields just presented we move toward visible horizons ever lifting over far away shining mountains; in foreign politics the horizon is closing down to "ceiling zero."
If we would but open our eyes to history and geography, if we would accept as final fact that we cannot escape from our period in time, nor from our planet in space,—then, having abandoned attempts to escape from both time and space, we could see an expanding horizon and the right path for America in foreign politics.
In the words of Justice Holmes, "We need education in the obvious more than investigation of the obscure."
I. Dynamics of Transition
To see that horizon we must face the historical truth that we are living through a transition period when the blind forces inherent in society smash the old patterns and accelerate the change to the new. In the rhythm of history there have been many such periods; none ever so rapid in process as the present. One transition comparable to this in historical consequence was that from feudalism and medieval town economy to the money economy of incipient capitalism in the 15th and 16th centuries. That period of religious wars and intellectual ferment was marked by economic levelling and integration of political authority. Fragmentation of legal authority and stability under the barons and in the towns gave way to integration of authority under the king, thus preparing the way for the nation-state. No doubt many intellectuals of the time embraced the dying cause, and foretold the doom of civilization. We, however, know from the record that the transition led to the Renaissance, the rebloom of Western Culture through rediscovery of ancient wisdom, the opening of a new world in America, and the Elizabethan Age when the spirit of man soared to heights attained before only by the Athenian mind.
1. Emotional and Social Instability: Economic Levelling. The present transition, accelerated by modern technology, began about fifty years ago with the armaments race and tariff wars. It broke over into war in 1914, slackened the pace through exhaustion, reached the intensive stage again in 1930, and picked up unprecedented speed after the last chance for a settlement was missed at the Disarmament Conference in 1932. The climax is this war. The issue, in the historical sense, is to decide whether the transition dictated by science and technology shall proceed by normal evolution or by revolutionary violence. Meanwhile, the dynamics of historical transition (economic levelling and political integration) are in operation.
Economic levelling, in fact, may merely mean shift in the incidence of ownership. A colossal depreciation of the currency wipes out the savings of generations, and impoverishes the most conservative elements of society, as was the case in Germany, Austria, and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. There then emerges a new type people, without patriotism, with different ethics, who know how to speculate during the breakdown. They sell their country short. As the process goes on the formerly conservative people lose faith in nor-
mal evolution; they lose their emotional stability; they are no longer able to resist the waves of shocks to their nerves. The scene is then ready for revolution, supported by the dispossessed, and by youth which has become infected with the contagion of fear.
That process started in Russia and spread to Germany. Will it engulf all Europe? All we know is that money to pay for the World War, the Depression, and the present war, will be taken from wherever the money is. It will involve some alteration of private capitalism, some measure of economic planning. It will probably shift the incidence of ownership without altering the class system, for human beings are still as uneven in capacity as the trees are in fruit.
2. Political Instability: Integration.
Besides this emotional and social instability, we note a political instability which threatens the existence of the nation-states system of the last 300 years. Despite the rules of international law, the doctrine of peace by Balance of Power, or the device of Collective Security, the nation-states system seems to be a casualty of the transition. The essential weakness has been political defiance of economic law,—the Balkanization of the map, begun in Southeastern Europe in the 19th century and exaggerated to folly in 1919. Guided by American idealism, and self-determination based on race and language, the peace-makers in 1919 sprayed small states on to the map of Eastern Europe, hoping thereby to achieve solid support for the peace settlements. In the League of Nations they built a roof without substructure. Balkanization collapsed that roof. Instead of serving as buffers between the Teuton and the Slav, the small states of Eastern Europe became an international vacuum, a low pressure area between two barometric plateaux. They became the means for the two revolutions to flow together, the political fact which precipitated this war.
A new system begins to emerge,—planned revolution, which throws to the winds the traditional criteria of race and language as raison d'etre for state existence. It destroys the natural process of social and economic life; it shifts the emphasis from the nation of human beings to the state absolute and mystic; it changes the pattern from the single nation-state to the multi-nation state with criteria for existence in economics, military strategy, and air power.
The Bolsheviks' formula is that the vertical lines between states must inevitably give way to broad horizontal lines between classes on an inter-nation scale. The toilers of any area may secede from the parent state, adopt the Soviet Constitution, and be admitted to the Union. The Bolshevik process has thus far retained the voluntary principle, and has extended to outright conquest only in the case of the Mannerheim Line.
The Nazi formula was not definitive until the seizure of Prague. By that act Lebensraum superseded Fold und Raum in order to annex non-Germanic areas. The Nazis now announce as their goal a Socialist Commonwealth of All Europe, under German military hegemony. By the spoils of one conquered small state they finance the conquest of the
next. They now stake their whole future on this single, major battle, win or lose. If they win, then integration by revolution will go to the limit, a pax Hitlerica. If the Allies win, or if the result is a stalemate, then integration will follow the route of evolution, to some form of federation.
There are certain dictates which predetermine this integration regardless of victors or vanquished. The first is economics. The many boundaries of Versailles Europe made for an intense nationalism which prevented recovery. Small states are not capable of meeting the exigencies of large scale production in the machine age. The trend must be toward larger free trade and currency areas, toward customs unions, toward regional planning to arrive at a workable exchange of agricultural and industrial products.
A second dictate for boundaries is military strategy, to correct the mistakes of 1919, and after, e.g. the Russo-Finnish boundary, the German-Polish, etc.
And a third dictate is air power. Sovereignty over the air space is a barrier which belligerents cannot observe. Total air war dooms the small states; they cannot remove their vital centers far enough from frontiers. Unless the air bomber is abolished (which could have been done in 1932), or assigned to inter-regional police in some future system, Europe will have to live constantly on the alert for enemy bombers which arrive in the night. Such nervous tension would be almost intolerable for large states; it would be utterly impossible for the small sovereignties. The air bomber has more significance for history and politics than any other weapon since the invention of gunpowder.
In the last twenty-six months thirteen small states have been erased from the map, reduced in sovereignty, or are now under military occupation with future unknown. In the long period when they were protected as neutrals, or when they served as aggregate support for Collective Security, they indulged in the luxury of making armaments for large states, and not very much for themselves. They thus kept the tax rate low and the educational level high. But, now, unable to bear the increasing costs of statehood in a more ruthless age, they become symbols of the dying cause,—Liberalism.
Statesmen may check the pace of this integration; they cannot alter the. trend. A Nazi victory would mean war again in 20 years. An Allied victory, if carried through to the dismemberment of Germany, might also mean war again in 20 years. We can only hope for an Allied victory, and a wise peace, negotiated with the moderate elements in Germany. A stalemate would indicate:
A Mittel Europa, with a Customs Union extending from the North Sea down the Danube.
A British-French Bloc, closely amalgamating the two empires.
These two economic powerhouses would set the fashion for the formation of other regional blocs. The formerly independent small states must cluster around these powerful nuclei as moons revolve around the various suns in the galaxies.
The transition, therefore, follows the dynamics of economic levelling and political integration. The direction is from a prevailing mode of nation-ism to one of region-ism in allegiance; from nation-states to customs blocs; from boundaries determined by race and language to boundaries determined by economics, military strategy, and air power; from inter-nation law through this lawless period to inter-region law formulated in the new era.
Race and language do not perish as criteria; but they are overwhelmed in this period. Given bread in the box, and a fowl in the pot, the common people of many races can, and
do live side by side in peace. The prevalence of treason in the small states since 1938 indicates the extent to which nationalism has already broken down.
Regionalization of the economic forces in Europe would not abolish war, but it would be a long step toward the achievement of what America achieved in 1789,—a free trade area on a continental scale. That is the only way to relax the tension, and to make possible world-wide disarmament which alone will permit a feeling of security, and thus a slow but steady recovery.
II. America's Role
By this historical analysis we see Europe changing her face through revolution and war. The dictators are doing by violence something which may have been historically necessary for further advance, but which in their lethargy the democracies were unable to do by evolution. To all this America tries to behave like King Canute. We have talked isolation for 20 years, and yet every hour of the day we go to the radio to get our nerves jangled and our souls torn by the grim tidings. The emotional instability of Europe has invaded America, where it becomes bigger and better emotion. Even to pretend to the neutrality, which was useful in a bygone agrarian age, is ipso facto to support that demoniac revolutionary power that is tearing Europe asunder. Like small states, we have overstayed our hand in neutrality. America would like to be the umpire. But in our hearts we know that in fighting fire with fire Britain and France must become totalitarian, and that will set the fashion for American totalitarian reaction. Not that we, too, are in danger of being conquered. We will keep ahead of the 5th, the 6th, or even the 7th column. But freedom will be increasingly difficult to manage.
There are some Americans, some unconsciously, others quite aware, who are preparing that fate for us all. But not our people as a whole. We are a friendly people. We have a profound sympathy for other democratic peoples whose form of government we inspired. But our own people must be taught that through fear of war all democracies dig their own graves; that non-aggression is not life insurance for any nation; that, in the future, our two oceans will no longer assure us of security but will provide the silent approach for air power.
We must make our people understand that we are a great nation, and no longer an infant republic with hideaway privileges of the child; that spoiling the Egyptians is an ancient custom vastly improved in speed and thoroughness. The time may come when we shall no longer be allowed to go to the polls every four years to elect a president. To streamline our democracy we must elect men to office who understand the rhythm of history; we must attract our most effective talent to our defense services; we must unshackle our first line of defense, which is diplomacy. Above all we must close the ranks to gain unity; we must sharpen the identity of America as a nation if we are to defend the cause of evolution against revolution at the barricade.
Our Congress must learn that by our unavoidable economic power we have promoted world revolution. Every new by-product of synthetic industries destroys in some measure the means of existence for peoples elsewhere; they pass in despair over to revolution. High tariffs to please particular constituencies merely raise the wall over which we cannot see the desperation boiling up outside. That attitude of the succulent bourgeois neutral has been typical of the older generation in Europe as well,—a colossal equanimity now being smashed with painful suffering for all.
Government by pressure groups which raid the Treasury cannot possibly survive this transition.
And our Congress must learn that the type of investigation which ignores America's great idealism, and charges our bankers with dragging us into the last war, inflames the fears of our already sensationalized youth, provides revolutionary weapons to those who make a career of youth, and in the end leads to self-devourment, as shown in Europe.
Finally, we may say: no military intervention; no dictate as to politics or boundaries in Europe. But, taking the long view, we know that we have had the economic power to save the cause of evolution in Europe against this demoniac revolutionary nihilism. Let us accept responsibility to that cause, our moral and economic cause, in Europe and in the Pacific, lest the sceptre of economic power itself fall from our seemingly nerveless grasp. If it comes to that, let us be wise this time,—not war debts but subsidies.
At the end of this war Europe will be disciplined, largely socialized, and hard. Let us, then, aid that regional bloc which is least likely to unite all Europe against us, and most likely to cooperate with us in world demobilization, in the transfer of energy from the making of armaments to civil production. In that way, and only in that way, lies peace.
And in the reconstruction let us use our power to attain that enduring security of international division of labor and a relatively free world market, and not be content again with the security of the cemetery where the children and ghosts of the vanquished will one day unite to renew the struggle.
Our youth cry: Concentrate on welfare in America. We say: recapture the credo of America; make of sanctity of the individual a Holy Grail to which man must ever return in his unending quest for freedom. It was expressed by Chinese scholars more than two thousand years ago in the Confucian text of The Great Learning:
"4. The ancients who wished to illustrate illustrious virtue throughout the kingdom, first ordered well their own states. Wishing to order well their states, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons. Wishing to culti-
vate their persons, they first rectified their hearts. Wishing to rectify their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things.
"5. Things being investigated, knowledge became complete. Their knowledge being complete, their thoughts were sincere. Their thoughts being sincere, their hearts were then rectified. Their hearts being rectified, their persons were cultivated. Their persons being cultivated, their families were regulated. Their families being regulated, their states were rightly governed. Their states being rightly governed, the whole kingdom was made tranquil and happy.
"6. From the Son of Heaven down to the mass of the people, all must consider the cultivation of the person the root of everything besides."
To cultivate the person of youth today we must educate them in the obvious, and let the obscure fit where it may. We must teach them the way back to emotional stability through character and moral fibre. We must all learn to be vigilant and resolute. There is no unbroken line of progress in history. Disintegration and decay come slowly at first; then the blind forces assume command and strike like lightning. If we are unprepared in mind and soul to meet it, then, as a nation, we will suffer enormously, and lose our moral mission in the world.
To change the moral climate we must keep America a hate-free citadel; we must keep America's great faith in man. Institutions come, and institutions go, but man carries on toward his destiny. In periods of decline he reverts to his primitive ferocity and becomes a destroyer. The greater the momentum of his plunge into barbarism, the greater his rebound on the next rise in sheer recoil. When the transition is over, man will again receive a new spiritual dispensation from Providence, and make a new covenant, with law again written on his heart. Europe, cleansed by fire, will again renew her genius. And America, in friendliness, will collaborate with a new Europe which has at last attained that political foundation for economic security which America attained in 1789. That is our expanding horizon.
We Stand at Armageddon
PAX BRITANNICA OR PAX HITLERICA By the MOST HON. THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN, C.H., British Ambassador to the United States
Delivered to the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce, April 19, 1940
IT is now more than eight months since the second world war of the twentieth century began. I feel that it is right that I, as the Ambassador of Great Britain to the United States, should try to put before you why we are against a patched-up peace, and the kind of peace we are fighting for. I think you have the right to know this because, unfortunately, the war is affecting you and other neutrals more and more every day.
In making such a speech I may be accused of propaganda. If propaganda means the telling of lies or the making of suggestions and innuendoes designed to mislead or prejudice other nations into doing things which they would otherwise not do there will be no propaganda in this speech. But if
it means telling you the real facts about the way my countrymen think, and that is what I am going to do, then I am performing an essential function in the international relations of Democracies. For how can free nations arrive at sound policies in international affairs unless they are honestly told what the others think?
Why do the Allies go on fighting? Why are they uninfluenced by the many "peace offensives" which directly or indirectly come from Berlin. They are fighting, of course, first for their own existence. But they are also fighting because they are convinced that not only a victory by Nazi Germany but a truce with Nazi Germany now would be the end of most of the civilized values which Christianity and