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midst of the French Revolution. Condorcet has been discussing the vast number of obstacles put in the way of human progress by the complicated inheritances of old societies, in which prejudice and injustice are so deeply rooted that they cannot be removed without a dangerous surgical operation. He expatiates on the great possibilities of advance that there would be if statesmen or educators, with the enlightenment of the revolutionary age in their minds, were to set to work upon an unspoiled people in a state of nature. And there, he says, is Africa waiting! Let all the nations of Europe recognize their joint responsibility. Let them take Africa as a sacred trust for civilization and see what heights the backward, but unspoiled, natives can attain. He believes that it can and will be done. All that is necessary is firmly to exclude from Africa the speculator, the trader, the soldier, and I fear he also added the priest.
That is one side of the contrast; the other is the history of Africa as it has really been since Condorcet's day. It is described, for instance, in Mr. Leonard Woolf's "History of Empire and Commerce in Africa." And Mr. Woolf, I should say, is a man who almost entirely agrees with Condorcet's general views. If ever one were tempted to accept Mr. Balfour's description of the life history of the human race as "a brief and discreditable episode in the life of one of the meaner planets," it would be when one reads of the dealings of the white races with the colored races.
have taken place? What may be said to account for this slump in the white man's respect for other races? I think in the Middle Ages there was no clear superiority in the strength and material resources of the Western nations as compared with the East. In science, indeed, the Arabs were definitely our superiors. When it came to a fight, the power of the West was by no means certain of victory. Even in the sixteenth century it is not certain who would have won the fight if it had come.
What was it that chiefly altered the balance between West and East, between the white Christian European culture and that of the East-of the colored people, of the Moslem and the pagan of Asia and Africa? Roughly speaking, it was mechanical invention and the industrial revolution. The wars of the last half of the eighteenth century had a great effect. They showed how easily troops with Western arms could beat those without. And by the end of the nineteenth it is taken for granted that white troops with artillery and machine-guns can deal with ten times their number of colored troops who have not had access to the arsenals of the West.
That is obvious; but I think it would probably be true to conjecture that an economic change had also taken place as powerful in its effect as the change in military efficiency. Certainly in the eighteenth century and earlier it was a common experience for Western imaginations to be dazzled by the riches of the East, and we know how the first generation or two of nabobs, heavy with the spoils of the pagoda tree, upset the course of politics in England. Whereas at present it is the English or American traveler who
dazzles the Eastern peoples with his rich apparatus and his power of drawing checks. The wealth which imposes upon the imagination is not in the East, but as far west as London or even as New York or Chicago.
This change of proportion has been brought about chiefly by a process of adding to one side while leaving the other alone. But there has been also a definite depression of the trade of the East.
Except in a few places the white man of the late nineteenth century had reached a position of absolutely towering superiority over the colored man. A white man with a machine-gun or a bombing aeroplane cannot be expected to take quite seriously the strongest and most skilful swordsman of Asia so long as he has nothing but his sword, and a member of a big English or American firm, with vast credits at his command, cannot help smiling at dignified Eastern or African elders whose whole fortune would not buy the contents of the smallest suitcase that he takes for week-ends. And he feels justified in his consciousness of superiority because, after all, the people are not Christians, and have no bath-rooms or drains.
It is no longer a case of fighting, not of hard fighting or even of easy fighting; it is a case of eating. It sometimes seems as if the West, like some enormous saurian, some alligator of antediluvian magnitude, had slowly gazed upon the colored civilizations in various parts of Africa and the East till its slow brain gradually rose to the conception that it was hungry and they were good to eat; then the great masticators set to their work.
Of course in saying this I am leaving out of account a very important
element in the intercourse of West and East, or of white man and colored. I am leaving out the work of missionaries, the work of independent philanthropists, and, most important of all, the work of good government servants. They have always checked and modified this process; sometimes they have completely transformed it. I am thinking for the moment of the process as it would be if these influences of conscience and reason were not working, or as it has been in places where they were not brought into play.
We have, then, two contrary tendencies in the modern world. The one is the economic exploitation of the helpless territories and nations by the strong ones, a process which has enormous historical impetus behind it and is at this particular moment stimulated by the exceptional economic hunger of the European world; the other is that consciousness of the earth as "one great city," and that acceptance of duty toward our fellow-man which, if my opening observations were justified, may now be normally expected of a civilized and educated man. The question is, which of these two contrary tendencies, both greatly strengthened by recent events, is going chiefly to prevail?
I have not the smallest doubt that for some time there will be an attempt to run the two together. The determined money-hunter, who forms an immensely powerful element in modern civilization, knows very well how to gild with moral and religious phrases the projects that promise the largest dividends. But that attempt cannot last. The conflict is too sharp between the two principles. Indeed, the lists
are already set, and the issue is joined.
Out of that strange chaos of passions which possessed the world at the close of the Great War, producing at the same time and through the same human agents the blockade of the exenemy powers in time of peace and the covenant of the League of Nations, the most startling object which emerged was Article XXII of the covenant, the article on mandates. It reminds me of a phrase used by Byzantine bishops, in an excess of humility, to describe themselves as elevated to their bishoprics not by divine Providence, but by "divine inadvertence." There must have been a good deal of inadvertence, I will not say in heaven, but perhaps on the earth and under the earth when Article XXII slipped through the peace conference. At a moment when the appetite of our great saurian was whetted to the utmost, when the prey lay ready before it to be devoured, Article XXII swept in like the harpies, and seemed to snatch the food out of its jaws.
An agreement which might have been drawn up by the most wholehearted idealists in Great Britain, which might have been drafted in Exeter Hall and corrected by the Aborigines Protection Society, which would not have had a ghost of a chance of passing into law in any British, French, German, Italian, or American parliament, has been signed by the representatives of forty-two nations, and is part, we may almost say, of the statute law of the world. Of course it directly affects only the new territories transferred in consequence of the war. It will act on the other territories only by way of example. But in the new territories the idea of possession is definitely abolished and
that of trusteeship substituted; the well-being and even the development of the native races is recognized as a "sacred trust for civilization." The mandatory is debarred from making personal gain out of his trust. Not only the slave-trade, but even the traffic in arms and the liquor traffic, are forbidden; the military training of the natives, except for local police purposes, is forbidden. And by another clause even the trade and commerce of the territories must be open on equal terms to all members of the league, which will probably include, if not the whole world, at least the principal trade rivals of the mandatory. To clinch the matter, an annual report must be sent to the League of Nations to show how each mandatory is carrying out his trust, and submitted to the scrutiny of a special mandates' committee of the league.
Will this wonderful article be sincerely and honestly carried out by all the mandatory powers? Of course not. The interested parties will exercise overpowering pressure to prevent anything of the sort. As a matter of fact, the great powers, while remaining firmly in military possession of the territories, have spent the last two years in refusing to accept any draft mandates proposed to them. The league, disheartened, at last asked them to draw up their own mandates and submit them to it for approval. This also they refused. And the league eventually asked them to draw up their own mandates and act upon them without submitting them to anybody, subject only to the annual report. This they accepted, but did not carry out. By the time the assembly met, no draft mandates were ready.
Then came an unanswerable protest from America-a protest equally unanswerable from Germany, an indignant series of letters from the mandates' sub-committee of the assembly. Eventually, Great Britain has produced two mandates, for Palestine and Mesopotamia; and France one, for Syria, which were laid before the committee with the express stipulation that no public comment should be made upon them! Evidently they are not documents of which their authors are proud. The public will know all about them in time, and then the fight will come.
The interesting point of the situation is that the protest on behalf of the natives is no longer left to small and uninfluential bodies, chiefly in England and America, consisting of a few missionaries and Quakers and exofficials and stray philanthropists. It is definitely taken up by the assembly of the league, which has not only spoken a severe censure on the conduct of the great powers, but has laid down unanimously two principles which the powers were, and are, specially seeking to evade: that no mandatory may use its position to acquire monopolies and special economic advantages, and that no mandatory may increase its own military strength by means of its mandated populations. The reports have to be sent in to the league before next September.
There are the lists set, there is the fight that is coming; I hope it will be a handsome one. I once lived in Australia in the house of a man who kept a bulldog and who received a present of a small native bear. I was present at the scene of their introduction to each other. The owner explained carefully that they must be friends.
He stroked them together, he gave them food together, he took them together for exercise in the garden, and all went well, for the bulldog had a high sense of obedience and duty. But at the end, when it retired to its basket, it gazed miserably and long at the bear, with tears running in streams down its cheeks. It was so very hard not to kill him and eat him! That is how our saurian will feel if the better elements in the great powers, backed by all the disinterested opinion in the rest of the world, succeed ultimately in imposing their will, like a bond of conscience, on the forces of uncontrolled and irresponsible covetousness which otherwise will plunder the world.
For the geographer the interesting point is that not merely are the great powers, by means of their increased geographical discoveries, able to make, indeed, forced to make, decisions about the whole orbis terrarum; the orbis terrarum itself is meeting in committee, and has enough mutual knowledge among its parts to be able to make at least a beginning of deciding about its own future.
There is a motive for which I do not know the exact psychological name-let us call it professional interest-which is very powerful in human affairs. It is the motive which makes men or committees interested in the success of the job at which they are working. If once a man becomes a detective, he will be eager to track down law-breakers. He may start with no ill will whatever against the particular breach of the law concerned, or, indeed, against any breach of the law, but he will soon be working keenly at his chase. It is a common experience
in municipal and other bodies that a man who is dangerously energetic in spending money if he is on a spending committee will often be a ferocious economizer if he is put in charge of the accounts. Now, I venture to say that no one can read the debates in the recent assembly of the league at Geneva without realizing that we have there, for the first time in history, a representative assembly of able men drawn from all quarters of the globe united by a professional interest in the welfare, concord, and wise guidance of the world as a whole. Some few persons may have seemed to have a subcurrent of national feeling which they never forgot; but for the most part the persons, speaking about typhus or the arms traffic, or the traffic in women and children or the prevention of various wars, really had their minds devoted to the thing they were talking about. They were really thinking internationally, they were genuinely interested in the public good of the world. And this not because they were all more high-minded men than are normally elected to national parliaments, but because the common good of the world was the business on which they were employed, and had set up in them the normal stimulus of professional interest. The same phenomena can be detected, though not in such glaring colors, in the ordinary work of the secretariate of the league. We have there, set up in the heart of Europe, a large body of able men drawn from all nations, but united by the fascination of a common cause and a common professional interest, which is the securing of coöperation between the nations and the maintenance not only of peace, but of good-will.
All causes which depend for their
success on the continuous operation of lofty motives are foredoomed to failure. Good government consists largely in so arranging matters that the great serried masses of ordinary every-day motives reinforce the good ones. In a well-governed society a certain decent level of social behavior is generally maintained because things are deliberately so arranged that it is easier to maintain it than not, except when the pressure of passion or temptation to the square inch is unusually great.
Now, if the future treatment of Africa and the East were merely dependent on a struggle between two forces, the desire of the exploiter to exploit and the desire of disinterested third parties, on ideal grounds, that he should not do so, the outlook would not be doubtful. The first is a fullblooded and intense passion, and the second a pale and ineffective one. But the struggle is not going to be so simple as that.
Now, it seems to me that under its present constitution the league has succeeded to a remarkable degree in mobilizing for the cause of justice and good government a very strong phalanx of ordinary workaday motives, of the kind that rule an ordinary man in daily life. It has its secretariate permanently sitting and professionally devoted to the cause in question. It has the assembly, which is led by every motive of professional interest and amour propre to see that it is not made a fool of, and that the principles of the covenant, of which it is the supreme guardian, are carried out. And many a government which has hitherto been worried by strong private interests into conniving, against its better instincts, in various methods