« AnkstesnisTęsti »
Stealing en bloc
By W. M. S.
E have heard much of late of the defense and protection of small nations. It has become a favorite phrase with some statesmen and political writers. Yet it has a jocular taint, after a review of the history of the last fifty years. The refusal of the leading civilized nations of the world to observe the rights of small nations has been the underlying cause of all the wars of the last century. Each nation, in denying it, always offers good pretexts to its own people and to the rest of the world. You cannot catch up with the modern international diplomat. He is always three jumps ahead of the people. A government may do anything if it has carefully prepared to issue the proper bulletins on the subject afterward.
Let us begin with ourselves. The United States has been guilty in the last 140 years of several breaches of the ethical right which we are discussing. We must freely admit that fact before proceeding to criticize others. Doubtless we played the game on quite as high a plane as the international standards of the different epochs involved seemed to require. We evidently believed in the fundamental justice of the law of conquest. Certainly up to very recent times it has been well recognized that when a nation went to war with another it might take the other's territories or its colonies, among other things. And we have done it. Sometimes we have done this without going to war and sometimes by going to war. Of course there are many other nations that have done this on a larger scale, and there are other nations that circumstances prevented from
doing it to so large an extent as they wished. The situation thus produced caused the present world struggle.
I do not believe at all in the vague preachments of peace societies. I gladly and freely acknowledge the sincerity and high-mindedness of their work, but they are not on the right track. You cannot make people stop fighting for loot simply by preaching godliness to them. If they were godly, even in a receptive sense, they would not be fighting for loot. Then there are gentlemen who are so Utopian as to believe that we might create a red, white, blue, pink, green, and yellow international police force, composed of warships and armies contributed by the various civilized nations of the world, I suppose on a per capita basis,-and that after establishing a supreme arbitral tribunal, with this I hardly like to say motleynaval force back of it, wise and just decisions of all kinds in cases of international disputes could be effectively enforced. The idea is not practical. One cannot imagine, with patriotism defined and taught as it is to-day, with our civic education following the lines with which we are familiar, that any ordinary person would commit treason against his own country (and in time of war, of course, treason is defined as bearing arms or taking service against one's own flag); nor can one imagine that an international police force of ten or twelve different races would bring about, even in time of peace, anything but opportunity for dispute.
There remains the proposition of disarmament as a means of bringing about
peace. After all, whatever we may start to talk about, what we are thinking about is peace-permanent world peace. There are people who sincerely believe that if the strong nations disarmed, or partly disarmed, continued peace would be rendered more possible or more probable. History does not indicate anything of the sort. We are unable to discover the case of any nation which, unarmed, has been treated with more careful consideration by any other nation or nations because of the former's defenseless situation. There may have been such instances, but they are not recorded in history. Perhaps the Chinese Republic is the best example of an unoffending, unarmed, and unaggressive nation, but it is suffering bitterly at the present time. So that, while it is true that great preparations for war, great armies and powerful navies, may set the hairtrigger, may render it easier for the ruling powers to bring about war, if they so desire, because the nations feel so well prepared for it, it is equally true that lack of preparation for defense has never protected any nation or people in the world, and it would be a very dangerous experiment, it seems to me, for the American people to endeavor to test out that theory, least of all, at this time. We have, then, the idea of a supreme arbitral tribunal which requires an international posse comitatus, as Colonel Roosevelt has suggested, to enforce its decrees, and we have the idea of disarmament, and I declare frankly, as a lover of peace, that I do not believe that either of the plans would produce peace. The question therefore becomes whether there is any tendency toward peace which we could further or encourage. There is, if we are ready to face it.
The cause of every war in the last century, and many before that, has been acquisitive statesmanship, the wrongful lust for land, and the commerce and advantages flowing from it. It is the basic cause of the present war. There is not a nation with even a fifth-rate statesman which cannot offer a perfectly good pretext for going to war; and, unfortunately, most of
the people in the country always believe the pretext put forward by their own statesmen, and pay no attention at all to any arguments advanced by the other side. The result is that we have the almost incredible spectacle of ten or eleven different nations of relatively high civilization ranged in a death-struggle against one another, with the people of each nation sincerely believing-ninety per cent. of them at least that its cause is just. It is not of any real importance whose cause is just, because it may well happen that the really just cause, virtually speaking, will be defeated by the greater number of men, ships, and cannon. The important point is: what state of diplomacy or what state of education exists in the world when eleven nations can go to war, with not only the statesmen, but the mass of the people, of each believing that it is right? There is only one possible explanation, and that is that the people of those nations are in reality fighting for something very much nearer to them and more tangible than a theory of abstract justice. The war has been put to them on racial lines or on religious lines or on the line of altruism or on the line of the upholding of treaties, but the fact is that the real appeal is to something very much more solid, very much more practical, than anything of that kind, and that appeal is to the longsince familiar "larger national development." How often those words appear in the official blue books and communiqués! It is this aspiration for more land which at least one neutral nation in Europe is using to-day to inflame the war spirit of its people. What does that mean? What does it mean in the case of this neutral nation? It means more territory, more commerce, more people to be taxed, more land over which to rule, and more people over which the flag may float. We Americans are no more free from it than any other nation in the world. We have our own name for our national exploits. We free the oppressed. We do pretty well, all things considered. There is some good in everything, but I am thinking about the international custom which per
mits a nation on any pretext to violate the sovereignty of any other nation. The denial of this may sound rather radical, because war between sovereign peoples has been the fashion for thousands of years. But we have grown out of a great many fashions, and the fact is that until fixed international boundaries shall be recognized as inviolate, and until some other method of punishing a nation which infringes on the rights of other nations shall be found, war will continue, and no peace societies, arbitral tribunals, or international fleets, or anything of that kind, can possibly stop it. We have seen in the last fifty years a dozen flagrant and shameless violations of treaties-violations committed by the leading nations of the world, including, in one instance at least, the United States, where in a small or weak country there has been some little oppression of foreigners, a mercenary spirit, or other cause for the complaint which has been seized as a convenient pretext for the treaty violators at home and abroad.
We have seen a whole continent virtually divided up in the last twenty years. We see a large part of another great continent about to be divided up between two of the leading civilized nations of the world. In our hemisphere there are two great continents whose future status is by no means permanently fixed, certainly not, if the principle is to be accepted by the world that strong naval or military power allows a nation or group of powers to dictate new international rights.
The United States and the American people, who are neutral, officially, in this present struggle, will probably come out of the situation disliked by all parties. We can do nothing now but prepare for eventualities, except to begin to think in larger terms than those of counties and States. The great, glaring defect in the international affairs of the American people is that they cannot think in broad terms. Let us begin by remembering that there are a great many nations in this world, contributing to its welfare and civilization in a high degree, and making life
both interesting and profitable for all of us, which could never by any reasonable probability become great military powers. If these nations are to be wiped out, if they are to become subject peoples, merely because of their indisposition, as in the case of China, or their inability, as in the case of many smaller nations, to become great military powers, then the world will live in centuries more of strife. And if that is to be the future, the United States. should become a military power as soon as possible. On the other hand, if there is such a thing as a manly appeal, if there is such a thing as an unselfish proposition in international affairs, let us put forth, in proper diplomatic language, at proper times, and under proper conditions, a distinctly American doctrine, which has not to do with the interning of vessels or the shipment of arms, but declares that in all circumstances the integrity and sovereignty of all neutral nations as they exist shall be recognized, all pretexts to the contrary notwithstanding.
The first and most important result to flow from that declaration would be the way in which our neighbors to the south would regard us. I do not blame them for having the greatest suspicions of what American policy-Yankee policy, as they call it means for them. I myself believe that those suspicions are unjustified, as do you; but I am speaking from their point of view. We ought to put forth that doctrine for their sake. We ought to make it very clear to them, no matter what happens, no matter what the temptation or the crisis may be, or what interests may be involved, we will never take a hand in stealing from any other nation on the Western Hemisphere (nor, of course, elsewhere) a single square mile of territory under any pretext. is possible that after we have proclaimed that, and made good at it, we might get some other nations in the world to see the permanent value to peace of that doctrine. There is not very much unseized land left in the world except China, and she seems to be on the point of being altruistically taken in charge, so that we
ought not to be considered entirely unreasonable when we suggest to them that all nations stop fighting among one another for the land which they have already divided up.
But the United States, you say, took the Philippine Islands purely for altruistic reasons. I know some will smile at this, because there are many people who really think that we are there for that reason, and we may be; but the fact is that the British say, the French say, the Russians say, and the Japanese say, "You found it convenient to rob poor old Spain when you were in a war with her, and you took the Philippine Islands." quote our speeches in Congress and everything of that kind to prove that we are there for the welfare of the people. England is where she is all over the globe for that, and France is in a good part of Africa for that purpose, and Japan and Russia are struggling in one direction or another for that purpose. It may well be that the great mass of us are sincere in our belief that we can govern better certain portions of the globe that we could hardly have found on the map seventeen years ago than could the people who were there for hundreds of years before us or the people who were born there. It may also well be that a Russian form of government would be much better for the people of Constantinople than the present one; but that is not the point. The point is, is there anything practical about such a doctrine? Where would we stop?
How are we to demarcate acquisitive statesmanship from altruistic statesmanship, if you once admit that for any reason you can take another's native land? Suppose that the intricacies and tendencies of international law do make it more difficult in future for a nation to pick a quarrel of conquest, it is easy for clever statesmen to devise new pretenses. The right of conquest, the taking of territory by bald conquest, has already gone out of fashion. Nowadays a weaker nation is rarely taken by conquest. There is a clash of interests, carefully advertised and worked up in advance, then the national
commerce of the aggressor becomes vitally important, or a racial affinity is discovered which makes it necessary that one nation leap eight or nine hundred miles to stand by another nation in going to war. I mention these things only because we have grown used to them. Fine expressions may be very consoling to the people of the country being seized, but we all know that such things are merely a question of a pretext, and there can be no just pretext for taking the land and the birthright of another people. Certainly the American people should never admit such a pretext, and if we do, it must be because of some finesse of diplomacy and international law.
When certain difficulties arise, I can conceive that it would be almost easier to go in and "spank" a smaller nation than to reason with it or to arbitrate. We have seen cases of that kind not very long ago. But the vexations of self-restraint are much less than the difficulties which flow to the world at large from the admission of the doctrine of the right of the acquisition of territory belonging to another sovereign people. I should like to see the United States (and I suppose that we can do so at least as fittingly as any other nation) put forth this doctrine at the proper time, take it as their national slogan, and await the result. We cannot impose it upon others if they do not choose to accept it, and it will be hard at times to sit quietly by and see other nations reject it and profit by their attitude while we are following a principle. That is true, however, of every principle which is worth while. The United States should do one thing more, at the same time that it is preparing to put forth that doctrine of the fixed balance of territory as a possible safeguard against war: it should establish and maintain in this country an army and a navy so efficient and so large that, whatever the international situation might be, there could be no suspicion in the mind of any doubting Thomas anywhere in the world that we were putting forth this peaceful and generous doctrine from either weakness or fear.
Liberty in Utah
NE day last summer the "New York Tribune" published a telegraphic despatch about the trial of the Eccles Case in Utah. The despatch did not come from Utah. It came from Denver, Colorado. And it was prefaced with a note in italics to say that the correspondent had sent his account of the trial from Denver because the Mormon Church prevented "the complete facts" of the Eccles Case from being sent out of Utah on the wires! On the same day the "Tribune" published another telegraphic despatch reporting that the Liberty Bell had arrived in Ogden, Utah, on its way to San Francisco, and had received an ovation of welcome.
The reasons why the Mormon Church might wish to keep secret the proceedings in the Eccles Case are as interesting as the fact that it has succeeded so well in keeping them secret. Utah obtained its statehood on the solemn pledges of the leaders of the Mormons that the practice of Mormon polygamy (among other illegal church practices) had been abandoned by "a revelation from God." When the present United States Senator, Reed Smoot, was elected from Utah, it was charged that the Mormons were again practising polygamy, and a committee of the Senate investigated the charge and returned a majority report to the Senate that the Mormons were guilty and that Reed Smoot should be refused his seat. Among the witnesses called to testify before the committee was Margaret Geddes Eccles, who was known to be the third wife of a prominent Mormon polygamist named David Eccles. She swore that she was not his wife, and that he was not the father of her son. By so doing she helped to protect the Mormon Church, but she
swore away her son's right to his share in the Eccles estate, which was valued at twenty-five million dollars. When Eccles died recently without leaving a will, the other heirs prepared to divide the inheritance without providing for Margaret Geddes Eccles and her child. She entered suit. That suit is the "Eccles Case," the complete facts of which the church refuses to allow on the telegraph wires from Utah.
In that suit Margaret Geddes Eccles swore that she had committed perjury at Washington and that she had been married, as a plural wife, to David Eccles by Apostle Merrill of the Mormon Church. There are twelve apostles, and they are the governing body of the church, by whom, and from whose ranks, the president of the church and his two councilors are elected. Senator Reed Smoot is one of these twelve apostles. The secretary of the president swore that the marriage of Margaret Geddes Eccles to David Eccles had been recognized by the presidency of the church as authentic. And so forth.
All of this is no surprise to Utah, where every one knows that the church has been secretly practising polygamy ever since it publicly abandoned the practice by divine revelation. But if it were wired all over the country by the Associated Press, it might make trouble for Apostle Reed Smoot or his successor in the Senate. And the church, being treasonably engaged in a violation of Utah's statehood pledges, protects itself with a news censorship that is necessary to the success of the conspir
It is probable that the non-Mormons in Ogden noticed, during their ovation, that the Liberty Bell is cracked.
Back to the Land
HERE are indications that the backto-the-land movement in our Eastern States has been defeated and repelled, and the reasons that are given for the reverse are interesting. Farming, it appears,
is an industry in which labor is immensely more important than capital, because the amount of capital that can be profitably invested in a farm is small, and not a dollar of the investment can be made profita