THERE will be no day of days then when a new world order comes into being. Step by step and here and there it will arrive, and even as it comes into being it will develop fresh perspectives, discover unsuspected problems and go on to new adventures. No man, no group of men, will ever be singled out as its father or founder. For its maker will be not this man nor that man nor any man but Man, that being who is in some measure in every one of us. World order will be, like science, like most inventions, a social product, an innumerable number of personalities will have lived fine lives, pouring their best into the collective achievement.
We can find a small-scale parallel to the probable development of a new world order in the history of flying. Less than a third of a century ago, ninety-nine people out of a hundred would have told you that flying was impossible; kites and balloons and possibly even a navigable balloon, they could imagine; they had known of such things for a hundred years; but a heavier than air machine, flying in defiance of wind and gravity! that they knew was nonsense. The would-be aviator was the typical comic inventor. Any fool could laugh at him. Now consider how completely the air is conquered.
And who did it? Nobody and everybody. Twenty thousand brains or so, each contributing a notion, a device, an amplification. They stimulated one another; they took off from one another. They were like excited ganglia in a larger brain sending their impulses to and fro. They were people of the most diverse race and colour. You can write down perhaps a hundred people or so who have figured conspicuously in the air, and when you examine the rôle they have played, you will find for the most part that they are mere notorieties of the Lindbergh type who have put themselves modestly but firmly in the limelight and can lay no valid claim to any effective contribution whatever. You will find many disputes about records and priority in making this or that particular step, but the lines of suggestion, the growth and elaboration of the idea, have been an altogether untraceable process. It has been going on for not more than a third of a century, under our very eyes, and no one can say precisely how it came about. One man said “Why not this?” and tried it, and another said “Why not that?” A vast miscellany of people had one idea in common, an idea as old as Dædalus, the idea that “Man can fly”. Suddenly, swiftly, it got about—that is the only phrase you can use—that flying was attainable. And man, man as a social being, turned his mind to it seriously, and flew.
So it will certainly be with the new world order, if ever it is attained. A growing miscellany of people are saying—it is getting about—that “World Pax is possible”, a World Pax in which men will be both united and free and creative. It is of no importance at all that nearly every man of fifty and over receives the idea with a pitying smile. Its chief dangers are the dogmatist and the would-be “leader” who will try to suppress every collateral line of work which does not minister to his supremacy. This movement must be, and it must remain, many-headed. Suppose the world had decided that Santos Dumont or Hiram Maxim was the heaven-sent Master of the Air, had given him the right to appoint a successor and subjected all experiments to his inspired control. We should probably have the Air Master now, with an applauding retinue of yes-men, following the hops of some clumsy, useless and extremely dangerous apparatus across country with the utmost dignity and self-satisfaction . . . .
Yet that is precisely how we still set about our political and social problems.
Bearing this essential fact in mind that the Peace of Man can only be attained, if it is attained at all, by an advance upon a long and various front, at varying speed and with diverse equipment, keeping direction only by a common faith in the triple need for collectivism, law and research, we realise the impossibility of drawing any picture of the new order as though it was as settled and stable as the old order imagined itself to be. The new order will be incessant; things will never stop happening, and so it defies any Utopian description. But we may nevertheless assemble a number of possibilities that will be increasingly realisable as the tide of disintegration ebbs and the new order is revealed.
To begin with we have to realise certain peculiarities of human behaviour that are all too disregarded in general political speculation. We have considered the very important rôle that may be played in our contemporary difficulties by a clear statement of the Rights of Man, and we have sketched such a Declaration. There is not an item in that Declaration, I believe, which a man will not consider to be a reasonable demand—so far as he himself is concerned. He will subscribe to it in that spirit very readily. But when he is asked not only to subscribe to it as something he has to concede by that same gesture to everybody else in the world, but as something for which he has to make all the sacrifices necessary for its practical realisation, he will discover a reluctance to “go so far as that”. He will find a serious resistance welling up from his sub-conscious and trying to justify itself in his thoughts.
The things he will tell you will be very variable; but the word “premature” will play a large part in it. He will display a tremendous tenderness and consideration with which you have never credited him before, for servants, for workers, for aliens and particularly for aliens of a different colour from himself. They will hurt themselves with all this dangerous liberty. Are they fit, he will ask you, for all this freedom? “Candidly, are they fit for it?” He will be slightly offended if you will say, “As fit as you are”. He will say in a slightly amused tone, “But how can you say that?” and then going off rather at a tangent, “I am afraid you idealise your fellow-creatures.”
As you press him, you will find this kindliness evaporating from his resistance altogether. He is now concerned about the general beauty and loveliness of the world. He will protest that this new Magna Carta will reduce all the world to “a dead level of uniformity”. You will ask him why must a world of free-men be uniform and at a dead level? You will get no adequate reply. It is an assumption of vital importance to him and he must cling to it. He has been accustomed to associate “free” and “equal”, and has never been bright-minded enough to take these two words apart and have a good look at them separately. He is likely to fall back at this stage upon that Bible of the impotent genteel, Huxley’s Brave New World, and implore you to read it. You brush that disagreeable fantasy aside and continue to press him. He says that nature has made men unequal, and you reply that that is no reason for exaggerating the fact. The more unequal and various their gifts, the greater is the necessity for a Magna Carta to protect them from one another. Then he will talk of robbing life of the picturesque and the romantic and you will have some difficulty in getting these words defined. Sooner or later it will grow clear that he finds the prospect of a world in which “Jack’s as good as his Master” unpleasant to the last degree.
If you still probe him with questions and leading suggestions, you will begin to realise how large a part the need for glory over his fellows plays in his composition (and incidentally you will note, please, your own secret satisfaction in carrying the argument against him). It will become clear to you, if you collate the specimen under examination with the behaviour of children, yourself and the people about you, under what urgent necessity they are for the sense of triumph, of being better and doing better than their fellows, and having it felt and recognised by someone. It is a deeper, steadier impulse than sexual lust; it is a hunger. It is the clue to the unlovingness of so much sexual life, to sadistic impulses, to avarice, hoarding and endless ungainful cheating and treachery which gives men the sense of getting the better of someone even if they do not get the upper hand.
In the last resort this is why we must have law, and why Magna Carta and all its kindred documents set out to defeat human nature in defence of the general happiness. Law is essentially an adjustment of that craving to glory over other living things, to the needs of social life, and it is more necessary in a collectivist society than in any other. It is a bargain, it is a social contract, to do as we would be done by and to repress our extravagant egotisms in return for reciprocal concessions. And in the face of these considerations we have advanced about the true nature of the beast we have to deal with, it is plain that the politics of the sane man as we have reasoned them out, must anticipate a strenuous opposition to this primary vital implement for bringing about the new world order.
I have suggested that the current discussion of “War Aims” may very effectively be transformed into the propaganda of this new Declaration of the Rights of Man. The opposition to it and the attempts that will be made to postpone, mitigate, stifle and evade it, need to be watched, denounced and combatted persistently throughout the world. I do not know how far this Declaration I have sketched can be accepted by a good Catholic, but the Totalitarian pseudo-philosophy insists upon inequality of treatment for “non-Aryans” as a glorious duty. How Communists would respond to its clauses would, I suppose, depend upon their orders from Moscow. But what are called the “democracies” are supposed to be different, and it would be possible now to make that Declaration a searching test of the honesty and spirit of the leaders and rulers in whom they trust. These rulers can be brought to the point by it, with a precision unattainable in any other fashion.
But the types and characters and authorities and officials and arrogant and aggressive individuals who will boggle at this Declaration and dispute and defy it, do not exhaust the resistances of our unregenerate natures to this implement for the establishment of elementary justice in the world. For a far larger proportion of people among the “democracies” will be found, who will pay it lip service and then set about discovering how, in their innate craving for that sense of superiority and advantage which lies so near the core of our individual wills, they may unobtrusively sabotage it and cheat it. Even if they only cheat it just a little. I am inclined to think this disingenuousness is a universal weakness. I have a real passion for serving the world, but I have a pretty keen disposition to get more pay for my service, more recognition and so on than I deserve. I do not trust myself. I want to be under just laws. We want law because we are all potential law-breakers.
This is a considerable digression into psychology, and I will do no more than glance at how large a part this craving for superiority and mastery has played in the sexual practices of mankind. There we have the ready means for a considerable relief of this egotistical tension in mutual boasting and reassurance. But the motive for this digression here is to emphasise the fact that the generalisation of our “War Aims” into a Declaration of Rights, though it will enormously simplify the issue of the war, will eliminate neither open and heartfelt opposition nor endless possibilities of betrayal and sabotage.
Nor does it alter the fact that even when the struggle seems to be drifting definitely towards a world social democracy, there may still be very great delays and disappointments before it becomes an efficient and beneficent world system. Countless people, from maharajas to millionaires and from pukkha sahibs to pretty ladies, will hate the new world order, be rendered unhappy by the frustration of their passions and ambitions through its advent and will die protesting against it. When we attempt to estimate its promise we have to bear in mind the distress of a generation or so of malcontents, many of them quite gallant and graceful-looking people.
And it will be no light matter to minimise the loss of efficiency in the process of changing the spirit and pride of administrative work from that of an investing, high-salaried man with a handsome display of expenditure and a socially ambitious wife, into a relatively less highly-salaried man with a higher standard of self-criticism, aware that he will be esteemed rather by what he puts into his work than by what he gets out of it. There will be a lot of social spill, tragi-comedy and loss of efficiency during the period of the change over, and it is better to be prepared for that.
Yet after making allowances for these transitional stresses we may still look forward with some confidence to certain phases in the onset of World Order. War or war fear will have led everywhere to the concentration of vast numbers of workers upon munition work and the construction of offensive and defensive structures of all sorts, upon shipping, internal communications, replacement structures, fortifications. There will be both a great accumulation and control of material and constructive machinery and also of hands already growing accustomed to handling it. As the possibility of conclusive victory fades and this war muddle passes out of its distinctively military phase towards revolution, and as some sort of Peace Congress assembles, it will be not only desirable but necessary for governments to turn over these resources and activities to social reconstruction. It will be too obviously dangerous and wasteful to put them out of employment. They must surely have learnt now what unemployment means in terms of social disorganisation. Governments will have to lay out the world, plan and build for peace whether they like it or not.
But it will be asked, “Where will you find the credit to do that?” and to answer this question we must reiterate the fact that money is an expedient and not an end. The world will have the material and the hands needed for a reconditioning of its life everywhere. They are all about you now crying out to be used. It is, or at any rate it has been, the function of the contemporary money-credit system to bring worker and material together and stimulate their union. That system always justified its activities on that ground, that is its claim to exist, and if it does not exist for that purpose then for what purpose does it exist and what further need is there for it? If now the financial mechanism will not work, if it confronts us with a non possumus, then clearly it resigns its function.
Then it has to get out of the way. It will declare the world has stopped when the truth will be that the City has stopped. It is the counting-house that has gone bankrupt. For a long time now an increasing number of people have been asking questions about the world counting-house, getting down at last to such fundamental questions as “What is money?” and “Why are Banks?” It is disconcerting but stimulating to find that no lucid answer is forthcoming.
One might have imagined that long before this one of the many great bankers and financial experts in our world would have come forward with a clear and simple justification for the monetary practices of to-day. He would have shown how completely reasonable and trustworthy this money-credit system was. He would have shown what was temporarily wrong with it and how to set it working again, as the electrician does when the lights go out. He would have released us from our deepening distress about our money in the Bank, our little squirrel hoard of securities, the deflating lifebelt of property that was to assure our independence to the end. No one of that quality comes forward. There is not so much as a latter-day Bagehot. It dawns upon more and more of us that it is not a system at all and never has been a system, that it is an accumulation of conventions, usages, collateral developments and compensatory expedients, which creaks now and sways more and more and gives every sign of a complete and horrifying social collapse.
Most of us have believed up to the last moment that somewhere distributed among the banks and city offices in a sort of world counting-house, there were books of accounts, multitudinous perhaps and intricate, but ultimately proper accounts. Only now is it dawning upon comfortable decent people that the counting-house is in a desperate mess, that codes seem to have been lost, entries made wrong, additions gone astray down the column, records kept in vanishing ink . . . .
For years there has been a great and growing literature about money. It is very various but it has one general characteristic. First there is a swift exposure of the existing system as wrong. Then there is a glib demonstration of a new system which is right. Let this be done or that be done, “let the nation own its own money”, says one radio prophet earnestly, repeatedly, simply, and all will be well. These various systems of doctrine run periodicals, organise movements (with coloured shirt complete), meet, demonstrate. They disregard each other completely and contradict each other flatly. And without exception all these monetary reformers betray signs of extreme mental strain.
The secret trouble in their minds is a gnawing doubt that their own proper “plan”, the panacea, is in some subtle and treacherous way likely to fail them if it is put to the test. The internal fight against this intolerable shadow betrays itself in their outer behaviour. Their letters and pamphlets, with scarcely an exception, have this much in common with the letters one gets from lunatics, that there is a continual resort to capital letters and abusive terms. They shout out at the slightest provocation or none. They are not so much shouting at the exasperating reader who remains so obstinate when they have been so clear, so clear, as at the sceptical whisper within.
Because there is no perfect money system by itself and there never can be. It is a dream like the elixir vitæ or perpetual motion. It is in the same order of thought.
Attention has already been drawn, in our examination of Mr Streit’s proposals for Union Now, to the fact that money varies in its nature and operations with the theory of property and distribution on which society is based, that in a complete collectivism for example it becomes little more than the check handed to the worker to enable him to purchase whatever he likes from the resources of the community. Every detachment of production or enterprise from collective control (national or cosmopolitan) increases the possible functions of money and so makes a different thing of it. Thus there can be endless species of money—as many types of money as there are types and varieties of social order. Money in Soviet Russia is a different organ from money in Nazi Germany, and that again is different from French or American money. The difference can be as wide as that between lungs and swimming bladders and gills. It is not simply a quantitative difference, as so many people seem to imagine, which can be adjusted by varying the rate of exchange or any such contrivance, it goes deeper, it is a difference in quality and kind. The bare thought of that makes our business and financial people feel uncomfortable and confused and menaced, and they go on moving their bars of gold about from this vault to that, hoping almost beyond hope that no one will say anything more about it. It worked very well for a time, to go on as though money was the same thing all the world over. They will not admit how that assumption is failing to work now.
Clever people reaped a certain advantage from a more or less definite apprehension of the variable nature of money, but since one could not be a financier or business director without an underlying faith in one’s right to profit by one’s superior cleverness, there did not seem to be any reason for them to make a public fuss about it. They got their profits and the flats got left.
Directly we grasp this not very obscure truth that there can be, and are, different sorts of money dependent on the economic usages or system in operation, which are not really interchangeable, then it becomes plain that a collectivist world order, whose fundamental law is such a Declaration of Rights as we have sketched, will have to carry on its main, its primary operations at least with a new world money, a specially contrived money, differing in its nature from any sort of money conventions that have hitherto served human needs. It will be issued against the total purchasable output of the community in return for the workers’ services to the community. There will be no more reason for going to the City for a loan than for going to the oracle at Delphi for advice about it.
In the phase of social stress and emergency socialisation into which we are certainly passing, such a new money may begin to appear quite soon. Governments finding it impossible to resort to the tangled expedients of the financial counting-house, may take a short cut to recuperation, requisition the national resources within their reach and set their unemployed hands to work by means of these new checks. They may carry out international barter arrangements upon an increasing scale. The fact that the counting-house is in a hopeless mess because of its desperate attempts to ignore the protean nature of money, will become more manifest as it becomes less important.
The Stock Exchange and Bank credit and all the arts of loaning and usury and forestalling will certainly dwindle away together as the World Order establishes itself. If and when World Order establishes itself. They will be superseded, like egg-shells and foetal membranes. There is no reason for denouncing those who devised and worked those methods and institutions as scoundrels and villains. They did honestly according to their lights. They were a necessary part of the process of getting Homo sapiens out of his cave and down from his tree. And gold, that lovely heavy stuff, will be released from its vaults and hiding-places for the use of the artist and technician—probably at a price considerably below the present quotations.
Our attempt to forecast the coming World Order is framed then in an immense and increasing spectacle of constructive activity. We can anticipate a rapid transfiguration of the face of the earth as its population is distributed and re-distributed in accordance with the shifting requirements of economic production.
It is not only that there is what is called a housing shortage in nearly every region of the earth, but most of the existing accommodation, by modern standards, is unfit for human occupation. There is scarcely a city in the world, the new world as well as the old, which does not need to have half its dwelling-places destroyed. Perhaps Stockholm, reconditioned under a Socialist regime, may claim to be an exception; Vienna was doing hopefully until its spirit was broken by Dollfuss and the Catholic reaction. For the rest, behind a few hundred main avenues and prospects, sea and river fronts, capitols, castles and the like, filthy slums and rookeries cripple childhood and degrade and devitalise its dulled elders. You can hardly say people are born into such surroundings; they are only half born.
With the co-operation of the press and the cinema it would be easy to engender a worldwide public interest and enthusiasm for the new types of home and fitment that are now attainable by everyone. Here would be an outlet for urban and regional patriotism, for local shame and pride and effort. Here would be stuff to argue about. Wherever men and women have been rich enough, powerful enough and free enough, their thoughts have turned to architecture and gardening. Here would be a new incentive to travel, to see what other towns and country-sides were doing. The common man on his holidays would do what the English milord of the seventeenth century did; he would make his Grand Tour and come back from his journeys with architectural drawings and notions for home application. And this building and rebuilding would be a continuing process, a sustained employment, going on from good to better, as the economic forces shifted and changed with new discoveries and men’s ideas expanded.
It is doubtful in a world of rising needs and standards if many people would want to live in manifestly old houses, any more than they would want to live in old clothes. Except in a few country places where ancient buildings have wedded themselves happily to some local loveliness and become quasi-natural things, or where some great city has shown a brave façade to the world, I doubt if there will be much to preserve. In such large open countries as the United States there has been a considerable development of the mobile home in recent years. People haul a trailer-home behind their cars and become seasonal nomads. . . . But there is no need to expatiate further on a limitless wealth of possibilities. Thousands of those who have been assisting in the monstrous clumsy evacuations and shiftings of population that have been going on recently, must have had their imaginations stirred by dim realisation of how much better all this might be done, if it were done in a new spirit and with a different intention. There must be a multitude of young and youngish people quite ripe for infection by this idea of cleaning up and resettling the world. Young men who are now poring over war maps and planning annexations and strategic boundaries, fresh Maginot lines, new Gibraltars and Dardanelles, may presently be scheming the happy and healthy distribution of routes and residential districts in relation to this or that important region of world supply for oil or wheat or water-power. It is essentially the same type of cerebration, better employed.
Considerations of this sort are sufficient to supply a background of hopeful activities to our prospective world order. But we are not all architects and gardeners; there are many types of minds and many of those who are training or being trained for the skilled co-operations of warfare and the development of a combatant morale, may be more disposed to go on with definitely educational work. In that way they can most easily gratify the craving for power and honourable service. They will face a world in extreme need of more teachers and fresh-minded and inspiring teachers at that. At every level of educational work from the kindergarten to the research laboratory, and in every part of the world from Capricornia to Alaska and from the Gold Coast to Japan, there will be need of active workers to bring minds into harmony with the new order and to work out, with all the labour saving and multiplying apparatus available, cinema, radio, cheap books and pictures and all the rest of it, the endless new problems of human liaison that will arise. There we have a second line of work along which millions of young people may escape the stagnation and frustration which closed in upon their predecessors as the old order drew to its end.
A sturdy and assertive variety of the new young will be needed for the police work of the world. They will be more disposed for authority and less for teaching or creative activities than their fellows. The old proverb will still hold for the new order that it takes all sorts to make a world, and the alternative to driving this type of temperament into conspiracy and fighting it and, if you can, suppressing it, is to employ it, win it over, trust it, and give it law behind it to respect and enforce. They want a loyalty and this loyalty will find its best use and satisfaction in the service of world order. I have remarked in the course of such air travel as I have done, that the airmen of all nations have a common resemblance to each other and that the patriotic virus in their blood is largely corrected by a wider professionalism. At present the outlook before a young airman is to perish in a spectacular dog-fight before he is five and twenty. I wonder how many of them really rejoice in that prospect.
It is not unreasonable to anticipate the development of an ad hoc disarmament police which will have its greatest strength in the air. How easily the spirit of an air police can be de-nationalised is shown by the instance of the air patrols on the United States-Canadian border, to which President Roosevelt drew my attention. There is a lot of smuggling along that border and the planes now play an important part in its suppression. At first the United States and Canada had each their own planes. Then in a wave of common sense, the two services were pooled. Each plane now carries a United States and a Canadian customs officer. When contraband is spotted the plane comes down on it and which officer acts is determined by the destination of the smuggled goods. There we have a pattern for a world struggling through federation to collective unity. An ad hoc disarmament police with its main strength in the air would necessarily fall into close co-operation with the various other world police activities. In a world where criminals can fly anywhere, the police must be able to fly anywhere too. Already we have a world-wide network of competent men fighting the white-slave traffic, the drug traffic and so forth. The thing begins already.
All this I write to provide imaginative material for those who see the coming order as a mere blank interrogation. People talk much nonsense about the disappearance of incentive under socialism. The exact opposite is the truth. It is the obstructive appropriation of natural resources by private ownership that robs the prosperous of incentive and the poor of hope. Our Declaration of Human Rights assures a man the proper satisfaction of all his elementary needs in kind, and nothing more. If he wants more than that he will have to work for it, and the healthier he is and the better he is fed and housed, the more bored he will be by inactivity and the more he will want something to do. I am suggesting what he is likely to do in general terms, and that is as much as one can do now. We can talk about the broad principles upon which these matters will be handled in a consolidating world socialism, but we can scarcely venture to anticipate the detailed forms, the immense richness and variety of expression, an ever-increasing number of intelligent people will impose upon these primary ideas.
But there is one more structural suggestion that it may be necessary to bring into our picture. So far as I know it was first broached by that very bold and subtle thinker, Professor William James, in a small book entitled The Moral Equivalent of War. He pointed out the need there might be for a conception of duty, side by side with the idea of rights, that there should be something in the life of every citizen, man or woman alike, that should give him at once a sense of personal obligation to the World State and personal ownership in the World State. He brought that into relation with the fact that there will remain in any social order we can conceive, a multitude of necessary services which by no sort of device can be made attractive as normal life-long occupations.
He was not thinking so much of the fast-vanishing problem of mechanical toil as of such irksome tasks as the prison warder’s, the asylum attendant’s; the care of the aged and infirm, nursing generally, health and sanitary services, a certain residuum of clerical routine, dangerous exploration and experiment. No doubt human goodness is sufficient to supply volunteers for many of these things, but are the rest of us entitled to profit by their devotion? His solution is universal conscription for a certain period of the adult life. The young will have to do so much service and take so much risk for the general welfare as the world commonwealth requires. They will be able to do these jobs with the freshness and vigour of those who know they will presently be released, and who find their honour in a thorough performance; they will not be subjected to that deadening temptation to self-protective slacking and mechanical insensitiveness, which assails all who are thrust by economic necessity into these callings for good and all.
It is quite possible that a certain percentage of these conscripts may be caught by the interest of what they are doing; the asylum attendant may decide to specialise in psycho-therapeutic work; the hospital nurse succumb to that curiosity which underlies the great physiologist; the Arctic worker may fall in love with his snowy wilderness . . . .
One other leading probability of a collectivist world order has to be noted here, and that is an enormous increase in the pace and amount of research and discovery. I write research, but by that I mean that double-barrelled attack upon ignorance, the biological attack and the physical attack, that is generally known as “Science”. “Science” comes to us from those academic Dark Ages when men had to console themselves for their ignorance by pretending that there was a limited amount of knowledge in the world, and little chaps in caps and gowns strutted about, bachelors who knew a passable lot, masters who knew a tremendous lot and doctors in crimson gowns who knew all that there was to be known. Now it is manifest that none of us know very much, and the more we look into what we think we know, the more hitherto undetected things we shall find lurking in our assumptions.
Hitherto this business of research, which we call the “scientific world”, has been in the hands of very few workers indeed. I throw out the suggestion that in our present-day world, of all the brains capable of great and masterful contributions to “scientific” thought and achievement, brains of the quality of Lord Rutherford’s, or Darwin’s or Mendel’s or Freud’s or Leonardo’s or Galileo’s, not one in a thousand, not one in a score of thousands, ever gets born into such conditions as to realise its opportunities. The rest never learn a civilised language, never get near a library, never have the faintest chance of self-realisation, never hear the call. They are under-nourished, they die young, they are misused. And of the millions who would make good, useful, eager secondary research workers and explorers, not one in a million is utilised.
But now consider how things will be if we had a stirring education ventilating the whole world, and if we had a systematic and continually more competent search for exceptional mental quality and a continually more extensive net of opportunity for it. Suppose a quickening public mind implies an atmosphere of increasing respect for intellectual achievement and a livelier criticism of imposture. What we call scientific progress to-day would seem a poor, hesitating, uncertain advance in comparison with what would be happening under these happier conditions.
The progress of research and discovery has produced such brilliant and startling results in the past century and a half that few of us are aware of the small number of outstanding men who have been concerned in it, and how the minor figures behind these leaders trail off into a following of timid and ill-provided specialists who dare scarcely stand up to a public official on their own ground. This little army, this “scientific world” of to-day, numbering I suppose from head to tail, down to the last bottle-washer, not a couple of hundred thousand men, will certainly be represented in the new world order by a force of millions, better equipped, amply co-ordinated, free to question, able to demand opportunity. Its best will be no better than our best, who could not be better, but they will be far more numerous, and its rank and file, explorers, prospectors, experimental team workers and an encyclopædic host of classifiers and co-ordinators and interpreters, will have a vigour, a pride and confidence that will make the laboratories of to-day seem half-way back to the alchemist’s den.
Can one doubt that the “scientific world” will break out in this way when the revolution is achieved, and that the development of man’s power over nature and over his own nature and over this still unexplored planet, will undergo a continual acceleration as the years pass? No man can guess beforehand what doors will open then nor upon what wonderlands.
These are some fragmentary intimations of the quality of that wider life a new world order can open to mankind. I will not speculate further about them because I would not have it said that this book is Utopian or “Imaginative” or anything of that sort. I have set down nothing that is not strictly reasonable and practicable. It is the soberest of books and the least original of books. I think I have written enough to show that it is impossible for world affairs to remain at their present level. Either mankind collapses or our species struggles up by the hard yet fairly obvious routes I have collated in this book, to reach a new level of social organisation. There can be little question of the abundance, excitement and vigour of living that awaits our children upon that upland. If it is attained. There is no doubting their degradation and misery if it is not.
There is nothing really novel about this book. But there has been a certain temerity in bringing together facts that many people have avoided bringing together for fear they might form an explosive mixture. Maybe they will. They may blast through some obstinate mental barriers. In spite of that explosive possibility, that explosive necessity, it may be, this remains essentially an assemblage, digest and encouragement of now prevalent but still hesitating ideas. It is a plain statement of the revolution to which reason points an increasing number of minds, but which they still lack resolution to undertake. In The Fate of Homo sapiens I have stressed the urgency of the case. Here I have assembled the things they can and need to do. They had better summon up their resolution.