Puslapio vaizdai

strikes or revolutions, which involve state control, and they visualize themimminent risk of starvation.

Defenders of the capitalist régime are apt to vaunt the liberty which it grants to men of enterprise, but this is an example of the aristocratic fallacy. In new countries, such as the United States used to be, and such as South America still is, there may be some truth in it, and therefore in such countries one sees capitalism at its best; but in older countries whose resources are developed and whose population is nearly as great as present methods of industry can support, the supposed freedom of enterprise exists only for a few. The early history of railways in the United States is full of bold piratical adventures; the railroad kings of that period remind one of Elizabethan bucaneers. But a railway in modern England is a very sober affair; its capital is held largely by innumerable maiden ladies and orphans whose funds are administered by trustees, its directors are sleepy peers, its policy is traditional, and it does nothing to encourage new men with bold schemes. This is not due, as superficial observers suppose, to a difference between the British and American temperaments, but to a difference in their geography and industrial antiquity. But even taking the capitalist case at its best, even considering America as it was forty years ago, it was only the men of unusual enterprise and push and unscrupulousness who came to the top. Such men are, by definition, the minority, and a society which suits only them cannot be considered satisfactory except by one who commits the aristocratic fallacy.

I am afraid there are many socialists who commit the same fallacy; they imagine industry developed under

selves in that future millennium as part of the state control, not as part of the ordinary workaday labor. In a system of centralized, bureaucratic state socialism those who direct the machine will have all the advantages at present enjoyed by the captains of industry, with the exception of enormous wealth, which to a vigorous, executive, and combative person is one of the smallest advantages of business success, being valued merely as a tangible proof of ability and power and as a means of acquiring the respect of the herd.

But it is not only the great captains of industry who will enjoy an exceptionally agreeable life under state socialism; it is also the whole army of officials. It is obvious that the man who sits in a government office and spends his time interfering with other people has a pleasanter life than the man who works in a mine or stokes a liner. Yet there are many forms of socialism which would do nothing to remedy this inequality. The industrial machine as it has been developed by capitalism is full of injustices other than the inequality of wealth.

Unless these other injustices are also remedied, a socialistic society may be scarcely pleasanter to the average manual worker than the existing system. tem. This is concealed from labor politicians and from men with bureaucratic minds, because they envisage themselves in the new order as leaders or officials, not as ordinary workers. Their judgment of the society they aim at creating is, in fact, vitiated by the aristocratic fallacy.

It may be that the evils of the present world must be cured one by one, that inequality of wealth must be

tackled first, leaving inequality of power for a later stage, and inequality in the pleasantness of labor for perhaps a still later stage. It may be that a bureaucratic, centralized state socialism is the necessary first step. It is not this that I am denying. What I am denying is that such a society is good in itself.

A society which is to bring diffused well-being not only to one class or to one type of character, but as far as possible to every member of the community, must not be too systematic or too orderly. It must not be the kind of society which a man of administrative temperament plans in his head and enforces by bayonets and the criminal law. Different persons have different needs, and it is important to suit all needs that can be suited without damage to others. It is, of course, necessary to restrain predatory impulses. The insufficient amount of such restraint is one of the greatest evils of the world as it is. But it is at least equally disastrous to restrain creative impulses. This is the danger of what one may call tight systems. A military machine or an industrial machine treats men as all alike, with the exception of the privileged few who direct it; it has no room for other exceptions, no desire for the kind of work that would not be ordered from above, no toleration for the kind of person to whom it is difficult to become a mere cog in the machinery.


Perhaps the most important of all the qualities that a social system can possess is that it must be such as people can believe in. During the last five centuries Europe has advanced with quite extraordinary rapidity in all that

makes what we call civilization, but step by step with this advance has gone a progressive disintegration of belief. I do not mean merely belief in religious dogma, though this also has played its part. I mean belief in all the assumptions on which the social order is based; all the sources of authority have become suspect and all inherited institutions have ceased to command assent. The war and the Russian Revolution gave the coup de grâce to such beliefs as remained. At the beginning of the war democracy was still a fighting creed, something for which men were willing to die. At the end poor President Wilson was left its one remaining votary, proclaiming his gospel in pathetic isolation to a world which shrugged its shoulders and went about its business as if he had not spoken.

It may be that some element of injustice is essential to the existence of a social order, at any rate for many ages to come. But in ages of faith men believe in the social order even when it makes them suffer, even when they are the victims of what to a later age appears unmerited misfortune. Nowadays this is not the case The only men nowadays who believe in injustice are those who profit by it, and even they in their hearts feel that their belief is not genuine, but merely an embodiment of self-interest. I except from this indictment the big capitalists of America, who are more naïve, more untouched by modern thought than any other set of men, with the exception possibly of a few Central African negroes. American business men still believe in the capitalistic system, but business men elsewhere merely hope it will last their lifetime, provided they can obtain sufficient machine-guns and

ships to shoot down or starve those who advocate systems which, in their hearts, they know to be better.

Such half-hearted belief does not bring happiness. The capitalists try to persuade themselves that their war against Russia is a holy crusade, but in this attempt they are very unsuccessful throughout Europe. And everybody except the capitalists is unable to create in himself even a semblance of belief in the old order.

This old order is no longer capable of bringing happiness. It is not only its nominal victims who suffer, it is not only the defeated nations or the proletarians who find that life has lost its meaning. Even the well-to-do classes of western Europe have no longer the sense of anything to live for. Having no purpose in life, they have plunged into a frantic pursuit of pleasure. But with every added pleasure comes added unhappiness; while the senses are gratified, the soul remains hungry; there is no inward sense of well-being, but only futility and despair.

There is only one cure for this despair, and that is a faith that a man can believe. No man can be happy unless he feels his life in some way important; so long as his life remains a futile round of pleasures or pains leading to no end, realizing no purpose that he can believe to be of value, so long it is impossible to escape despair. In most men at the present time this despair is dumb and unconscious, and because it is unconscious, it cannot be avoided. It is like a specter always looking over a man's shoulder and whispering acid words into his ear, but never seen, never looked at face to face. Once acknowledged, once faced, this despair can be coped with, but it can be coped with only by a new belief,

by something which supersedes the search for pleasure. Although it may sound old-fashioned to say so, I do not believe that a tolerable existence is possible for an individual man or a society without some sense of duty.

There is only one kind of duty that the modern man can acknowledge without superstition, and that is a duty to the community. There was a time when such ideals as God, country, family, could move men. This time is past. All such ideals were used by elderly rulers throughout the war to drive the young to slaughter one another in futile carnage. Most of the young at the time believed that the war was about something important, but now that it is nominally over, they see their mistake. No good has come out of it except revolt against the system which caused it; the vices of the vanquished have been acquired by the victors.

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And this brings me to the second of the two characteristics which a good society must have. It must be progressive; it must lead on to something still better. Now, fundamental progress seldom comes from those who fit comfortably and easily into the existing system. It is not, for example, from trust magnates that we expect the inauguration of the new era. New growth will come from the creative people, the men of science, the artists, the thinkers, many of whom very probably will be critics of the new order. Under the influence of commercialism, many men have come to think that the important progress is progress in the technical methods of production, better machinery, better means of communication, and so on. This has been true, since in the past

labor was not sufficiently productive to provide a good life for all. But it is true no longer. When once men have enough of material commodities, there is no great importance in providing them with a superfluity. It is only commercialism, the competitive struggle for markets, as reinforced by the luxury of the very rich, that has made mere quantity of goods seem so important. We have reached the point where we could organize our material resources in a way that would leave sufficiency and leisure for all. Therefore the important progress now is not in industrial production, but in ideas. One might hope that the energy liberated from the production of luxuries and armaments would be employed in the pursuit of knowledge and in the beautifying of life, bringing back for the many that artistic excellence which existed in the pre-industrial era for the few. But if this is to happen, there must be freedom for the creative people, the men of science and the artists. They must not be controlled at every point by state officials, or obliged to do work at every moment which is pleasing to existing prejudices. Without freedom, the man who is ahead of his age is rendered impotent. All innovations are, to begin with, displeasing to the majority, yet without innovations no society can progress. Freedom for exceptional people, provided their work is creative and not predatory, is the most important condition of progress in any society. There is always a tendency for the administrator to think of himself as God Almighty and to imagine himself capable of judging the good or bad in every new idea.

This tendency is dangerous, and would be particularly dangerous in the earlier phases of communism, where the administrator may be expected to have more power than he has ever had before. The danger can be met only by acknowledging the importance of creative work and the fact that the best creative work often does not commend itself to contemporaries. It is not in the least necessary that the artists and men of science should be rewarded for their work, since the best of them are indifferent to rewards and do their work merely because they love it. But it is necessary that they should be free to do it and free to make it known; that, for example, a man of science should be able to print his work without having first to find favor in the eyes of officials.

It is a world full of hope and joy that we must seek to create, not a world mainly designed to restrain men's evil impulses. Evil impulses must be restrained, especially during the time of transition while they are still strong, but this is an incidental part of our task, not its main purpose or inspiration. The main purpose and inspiration of any reconstruction which is to make a better world must be the liberation of creative impulses, so that men may see that out of them a happier life can be built than out of the present frantic struggle to seize and hold what others desire. We must so regulate the material side of existence as to enable men to take it for granted and to leave their minds free to employ their leisure in those things which make the true glory of


Why Dada?

An Inquiry into the Connection between the War's Ruins, Peace-Time Insanity, and the Latest Sensation in Art


N writing about Dada I find myself

I embarrassed. I am enough of a

Dadaist to wish to be loyal to Dada tenets, and the first of them is that Dada must not be talked or written about; but in being embarrassed about it I am also showing that I cling to certain minor moralities of my preDada period, since to talk about what you should n't is of the very essence of Dadaism. It is perhaps that I am not yet that Dada.

I believe one is never sure, since Dada has abolished logic-I believe that the conception of Dadaism might be traced back to people and events long antedating the late war, say to the fin-de-siècle generation of Beardsley and Wilde; but the war and its ruins were the immediate precipitating cause. Thus M. André Gide, editor of the "Nouvelle Revue Française," exclaims: "What! while our fields, our villages, our cathedrals have suffered so much, our language is to remain untouched! It is important that the mind should not lag behind matter; it has a right, it, too, to some ruins. Dada will see to it."

The war, then, fathered the child. Tristan Tzara is generally credited with doing the rest. The christening, if not the birth, took place in Zurich. M. Tzara, who shares with Francis Picabia the honor and the notoriety of chief place among the Dadaists, describes the event somewhat mystically as follows:

In Switzerland I was in the company of friends and was hunting the dictionary for a word appropriate to the sonorities of all languages. Night was upon us when a green hand placed its ugliness on the page of Larousse, pointing very precisely to "dada." My choice was made. In the light of subsequent events, which have probably outrun even M. Tzara's anticipations, the name does seem to have been chosen with superhuman canniness. The original meaning of "Dada" in the French is "hobbyhorse"; but the associations the word has taken on through recurrence as the first spoken syllables of millions of generations of infants are rich beyond compare.

I can imagine some one asking at this point, "What is Dada?" The

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