1. Learning from History
A history of past events
Perhaps I should remind readers that what I wrote was intended to be history- that is to say, a commentary on past events.
My first suggestion was that we learn nothing from history, because our studies are too narrow- normally limited to our own countries. If anything, this tendency seems to be increasing. When my daughter at school took up history, I asked her what period she was to study. She replied, “The history of the trade union movement in Britain”- an example of contemporary politics masquerading as history.
Theories are derived from experiments
Physical science has been built up by great numbers of experiments, from which theories and laws can be deduced. In the same manner, I believe that the histories of great nations of the past should be methodically studied with a view to the attainment of theories by which we, and future generations, may be guided.
My first point, therefore, is that if history is to mean anything it must be the history of the human race from the beginning of recorded time.
The chief cause of the outbursts of backward races is probably jealousy. The less fortunate wish to share the advantages of older, wealthier, more powerful civilisations. The odds against the newcomers seem to be overwhelming, but why were barbarian conquests so often successful? Perhaps one, if not the principal, reason is that old states tend to solidify into rigid forms, and to weaken or destroy individual initiative and psychological drive. In recent years the Vietnam War, in which the Vietcong showed more initiative and enterprise than did the Americans, may be taken as an example.
In the purely military field, the complicated and comparatively luxurious standard of the troops is a factor. An absurd example once happened to me. When accompanying a military column, we reached a group of wells. The Service doctors pronounced the water unfit for troops, and an expensive system of flying water to the column by the R.A.F. was adopted.
We had with us also a number of Arab irregulars who, with their families, had always drunk from these wells. But as they were now attached to the military column, they too were forbidden to drink, and water was flown out to them also.
In the same manner, British troops had to have a meat meal every day, whereas for the Arabs a handful of dates was sufficient. It is easy to see how these restrictions arose in a highly organised army or air force. If, on one occasion, a column drank from wells and three men developed typhoid, a general order was issued prohibiting the use of local wells.
The medical officers, watching the number of calories in the soldiers’ rations, ordered a certain quantity of meat. Meanwhile the Arabs, who had never heard of calories, had gone on ahead, each with a handful of dates, and had engaged the enemy.
In the kind of operations on which we were engaged, the government won in the end owing to its greater resources, but the operations showed the difficulties produced by the complicated machinery of regular armies belonging to an ‘old’ nation.
2. Organisation and the Loss of Initiative
Initiative and self-reliance
In war, the morale is to the physical as three is to one. The ultimate result will depend on the energy, enthusiasm and, above all, the initiative of the troops. From this angle, we are obliged to admit that any form of organisation is liable to weaken initiative. Thus, the more the State is a welfare state, the more it will destroy the initiative and self-reliance of its citizens.
It is not necessary for us to be partisans for or against the welfare state. Partisans are usually people who see only one side of the picture. If we examine our dilemma impartially, we can see how difficult it is. It is easy to appreciate the benevolent intentions of the welfare state. A walk through the slums causes us to boil with indignation. The Government, we feel, must do something- take over the area, move the inhabitants elsewhere, and plan a new lay-out.
In the same way, the ideals of freedom from fear and freedom from want sound so philanthropic. The citizen must be protected from anything likely to alarm him. If he is poor, his wants must be supplied by the State. In the perfect welfare state, the citizen has nothing to fear. He can just sit back and be spoon-fed.
Then we discover that it was precisely fear and want which produced individual initiative and drive.
All organisation weakens initiative
In fact, we ultimately realise that any form of organisation tends to reduce the energy, initiative and enterprise of the individual. The pioneer felled the trees of the forest and built his own log cabin, which he defended against Red Indians and wild animals. He became a real man, relying entirely on his own efforts. In our industrial society, the individual is helpless. His job is encased in a closed shop. He can only comply with his union, which may be a nationwide organisation with which he has no personal relationship. If he is sick or unemployed, the welfare state provides for him.
He cannot leave his job and become self-employed. If he tries to do so, the welfare state applies penalties. We can understand how difficult is the organisation of industry. But when a man wishes to earn his living independently, to prevent him from doing so is mere regimentation. Thus persons who wish to develop initiative are crushed.
These considerations emphasise the depth of our dilemma. How can an industrial nation avoid organising? How can it organise without destroying human freedom and killing enterprise, initiative, courage and self-reliance? Yet this regimentation and destruction of human initiative has been motivated (in Britain at least) by humane and benevolent intentions.
In my previous article, I attributed our decline to too long a period of wealth and power. I am still convinced that this diagnosis is correct. Perhaps, however, we should add, ‘to too much organisation and regimentation’.
3. Dividing the Nation
Enterprise and the exacerbation of politics
It would appear, therefore, that one of the results of too long a period of wealth, power and organisation is the weakening of enterprise and initiative. The pioneer spirit sets out to conquer new worlds and to discover new sources of wealth. The decadent mentality no longer embarks on new enterprises. It turns in on itself and begins to quarrel over the division of the wealth inherited from its forebears. A ‘remarkable and unexpected symptom of national decline is the intensification of internal political hatreds,’ I wrote.
This development seems to me to be due to two factors:
- The substitution of money-making for honour, service or adventure as the object of life. Money-making is a selfish pursuit, which destroys the spirit of service to the community.
- The loss of personal initiative and self-reliance in the individual, such as would make him embark on fresh ventures.
The result is a sordid squabble for the wealth still remaining. From the point of view of the nation, this is disastrous. Instead of standing together and encouraging our best men to make new discoveries or to win fresh markets, we devote ourselves to parochial feuds. While the workers in our car factories are on strike, the French, Germans, Italians and Japanese invade and conquer our domestic car market.
The ruler should stand for all
So intense does this in-fighting become that we hear the political leaders of one party promising their party supporters that, if elected, they will injure the other half of the nation.
The ruler of the nation, at any given moment, should stand for the whole nation. Britain has for many years been governed by a two-party system, but it is not the theoretical constitution which matters, rather the spirit which inspires the politicians.
When all were for the country, differences of opinion on policy occurred, but they did not lead to feuds which divided the nation.
The influence of the Crown
With the increasing bitterness in party politics, the Crown is the only influence which covers impartially the whole nation. The bitterness of the politicians is largely due to their desire for power, patronage and money. The nation itself is essentially moderate and benevolent.
Few people, even in Britain, realise how many of their liberties depend on the Crown. There are not many countries in the world which have not, at some time, been subjected to military dictatorships, or at least to a too-powerful army general staff. In Britain, however, the armed services swear allegiance to the Crown, and, as a result, have been kept out of party politics.
The political party in office cannot dismiss officers of the armed services and replace them with officers affiliated to their party, as occurs in many other countries. Likewise the judiciary can retain their independence of political pressure.
Yet there are politicians who would like to erode all these safeguards and to pack the Services and the judiciary with their own political supporters. It is well to remember that in 1649 the House of Commons executed the King and abolished the House of Lords. Yet this did not result in a democratic House of Commons, ruling for the people. The overthrow of the balanced constitution led to the dissolution of the Commons and to ten years of military dictatorship.
As I pointed out, one of the problems of our time is the immense number of small states, each with its own policy, passport, customs and currency. One of the principal advantages of great nations is that they provide a large trading area. As long as the nation is prosperous and confident, everyone is proud to belong to it.
But as soon as times become difficult, it is amazing what ancient rivalries are revived. Secession movements spring up, which are dignified with the name of liberation. Where successful, these moves further narrow the free-trading areas of the world, and the possibility of peace and prosperity.
They render defence impossible. Innumerable splinter armies, with different languages, different training, weapons and equipment, are impossible to command. The same applies to navies of three or four ships, or air forces with half a dozen squadrons, flying aircraft of peculiar designs.
Small is beautiful – or is it?
Having served the Jordan Government for twenty-six years, I am fully aware of the attractiveness of a small country. In the United States, and even in Britain, the individual is nothing. In a small country, everyone knows everyone else, and the leaders arc accessible and familiar. As against this, however, small countries are apt to be parochial in outlook.
On the other hand, the overwhelming necessities of commerce and defence require larger and larger areas without passports and customs and with perfectly integrated armed forces.
Perhaps compromises can be found, giving some local autonomies, combined with perfect union for commerce and defence. But in these violent times, such changes must be made with extreme wisdom and care. Our civilisation is constantly threatened by terrorism, and by the squadrons, flying aircraft of peculiar designs.
The European Community
The discussions in the Press regarding Britain’s membership of the European Community seem to be limited normally to today’s price of butter or meat. Such short-sightedness is lamentable. If we consider the question from a broader viewpoint, we may see it as a reaction against the ever-increasing number of splinter states, which make defence impossible and hamper trade.
The Roman state was originally a hegemony ruled by the city of Rome. But when the Roman Republic became effete and corrupt, it was transformed into the Roman Empire, which became a vast area of which all the inhabitants were equal citizens, and the whole of which constituted a single trading area, with the same laws, the same organisation and the same official language. By this means, the wealth, culture, power and security of the Roman state were rejuvenated.
We often forget that, before Augustus, the Roman Republic was corrupt, materialistic and divided against itself in bitter feuds, not unlike our condition today. With its transformation into a Mediterranean empire, peopled by equal races, peace and prosperity returned. Augustus found Rome built of brick but left it made of marble.
It is in the broader, more statesmanlike context of such a possible revival of West European power and prosperity that the European Community should be considered.
One of my correspondents asked what will happen when a single super-power is the only one left. I am inclined to think that this will not happen. Should one super-power ever conquer the world in a sudden blitzkrieg, I doubt if it would be able to hold it for long. There are too many nationalisms in the world, which some time or other would reassert themselves.
The result of overpowering mass weapons, such as could cow the whole world, would be resistance on a parochial scale with small weapons, the dagger, the pistol and the bomb. The world conqueror would be faced with innumerable local rebellions, which would build up into local wars, and we should be back again where we began. But the human suffering resulting from such upheavals would be incalculable.
A United Nations army
Some years ago, our idealists were advocating a United Nations army, to discipline those countries that refused to obey the Organisation. Fortunately these proposals seem now to have lapsed. A worldwide organisation with the means of enforcing obedience to its orders would either be a fiasco or an unbearable tyranny.
4. Sea Power
Command of the sea
Another subject raised in this correspondence has been that of sea power. In my first article I wrote, ‘One of the more benevolent ways in which a superpower can promote both peace and commerce is by its command of the sea.’ Land garrisons established by a great power in a dependent territory are liable to provoke the resentment of Whitehall. The only objection to it was to the effect that the next war would be nuclear, and that one nuclear missile would destroy each such island base. On this assumption, one nuclear missile could destroy London, New York, Moscow, or any factory in any country. We might as well give up living now, on the grounds that we shall soon all be killed.
In fact, it is far from certain that the next war will be nuclear, and it is absurd to abandon all normal planning on such grounds. Moreover, the maintenance of British and American naval power all over the world would have been a major factor in the prevention of any future world war, nuclear or otherwise.
While 1 was writing these lines, the Press announced a coup d’état in the Seychelles, a former British colony, now a member of the Commonwealth. The Head of State was in London at the Commonwealth Conference.
The Seychelles are just such a group of islands as could have been used as bases for Anglo-American sea power. Situated at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, they dominate the communications leading to the world’s largest reserves of oil.
The oil route
Today Europe depends largely on the Middle East for her oil, which is brought by tankers round the Cape of Good Hope. The Royal Navy has been withdrawn from the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Naval bases and co-operation with South Africa have been given up for ideological reasons, and Europe’s oil lifeline has been abandoned to chance or to the Russians.
Our priceless heritage
One of the most alarming facts in the modern scene is the degree of ignorance and incapacity which is so often displayed by the politicians whom the nation places in power. It was Britain which first discovered the benevolent and peace-keeping strength of sea power. The idea that the duty of the Royal Navy was to protect Britain from invasion from Europe would scarcely convince a child in a primary school.
Owing to the general wave of anti-imperialism. in Britain after the Second World War, our priceless heritage, so vital to ourselves and to the peace of the world, was unthinkingly thrown away. The Royal Navy was deprived of its beneficent role in a fit of absence of mind.
We just can’t afford it
Suggestions for the maintenance of our naval power, particularly in the Indian Ocean, will perhaps be greeted with the remark: “Very nice. But we just can’t afford it.” This is as if a housewife were to say, “We cannot afford to buy food for our family, because we have so many H.P. payments to make for the new car, the colour television and the washing-machine.” It is a question of priorities.
Britain derives the fuel and raw materials for her industries and the food for her people, from overseas. If we cannot protect these essentials on the high seas, we shall die or lose our independence.
The reason why we cannot pay for our essential protection is that we all want more money and less work now. ‘Let’s enjoy ourselves now. We can pay the penalty later on’, seems to be our motto. We cannot survive unless we take a more serious and far-sighted view of our needs and obligations.
5. The Lust to Coerce
Liberty or compulsion
One of the most unfortunate tendencies which permeate modern thinking is the reliance on coercion. If we do not agree with anyone, we attempt to force him to comply with our views, if not with weapons, then with strikes, blockades or boycotts.
We believe the policies of South Africa to be mistaken, but if we were her ally and partner, we could exercise more influence on their modification than we can do by boycott and disavowal.
This narrow-mindedness is extraordinary. We loudly proclaim the freedom of the individual, but if anyone dares to differ from our views in any respect, we immediately declare a blockade, a strike or a boycott. We claim to desire peace, yet we constantly stir up bitter hostility by our impatient intolerance. Would it not be wiser to be more calm, to reason, to discuss and to persuade amicably, than to issue peremptory ultimatums? Are we justified in assuming that we always know best, and that others had better agree with us, or else?
We assume this attitude in our internal affairs as much as in dealing with foreign nations. If the House of Lords rejects a Bill, we hear cries to abolish the Upper House. For trivial reasons employees call an official or unofficial strike, the resulting suffering falling on our fellow citizens. Every one of us seems to aspire to be a little dictator, though we all loudly denounce dictatorship.
The use of violence
I will not speak of the use of violence on moral grounds- the immediate results in human suffering are obvious enough. I will discuss it only in terms of its self-defeating futility. For human nature is such that the use of violence produces resentment. The victims of violence are embittered and nurse the desire for revenge. Sooner or later, their resentment will lead to counter-violence, which in its turn will cause another wave of counter-counter-violence, lasting perhaps for centuries.
Thus the wars of Napoleon may be seen as the cause of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and of both world wars.
In 1170, Strongbow, the Norman Earl of Pembroke, crossed to Ireland at the request of the King of Leinster, who had been driven from his throne by his neighbour, the King of Connaught. In 1172, Henry II crossed to Ireland. The effects of these initial acts of violence are with us to this day.
The same process may be traced all over the world, in the form of racial rivalries, and family or tribal blood-feuds. That violence solves nothing and only breeds more violence is a universal human law.
The need to maintain strength
At the same time, although we may realise the manner in which violence only breeds more violence, we must appreciate also that many nations deliberately intend to use violence to achieve their selfish ends. To abandon or to reduce too drastically our own armed forces is, therefore, not the way to end wars, but more probably to increase them. Those who consciously rely on violence would thereby be encouraged to embark on the offensive.
To reduce our armed forces in order to spend the money saved on social improvements is thus dangerously short-sighted. It might lead to another war, which would result in the loss of all our social services, and possibly also of our national independence.
Strength wins respect in this world. If we really want peace and the abandonment of violence, we need to be strong in order that we may be listened to. Our present situation is the reverse. Nobody listens to our admonitions, owing to our weakness. Yet we continue to tell everybody else how to behave, as though we were the patriarch of all the nations. Thereby we expose ourselves merely to resentment and contempt. Advice offered by the weak is rarely followed by its recipients.
6. Energy and Leadership
A decline in physical energy
European visitors to London at the beginning of the nineteenth century were impressed by the intense activity which they saw. Everybody in London was in a hurry. But in the second half of the century, this peculiarity was transferred to New York, where the pace and pressure of life were said to be almost unbearable.
But, in the February 1977 issue of Blackwood’s, Jean Gimpel tells us that in 1956 the men and women in the streets of the United States ‘were now walking to and from work in as leisurely a manner as if they were in Rome; and, like their counterparts in Paris, many executives were taking two hours or more for lunch’.
To what are we to attribute this regular decline in energy in old nations? Is it a physical phenomenon, the result of comfort and overeating? Or is it mental or moral, a decline in idealism and spirit?
It will be seen that, in many directions, we cannot solve our problems, because we have never thought in terms of the long-term rise and fall of nations and cultures. It is my earnest hope that the present debate might lead to a change in our historical studies, and to more research into the rise and fall of nations throughout history. Such studies might help us to discover the reasons for national decline and enable us to rectify them.
The lost art of leadership
However dedicated men nay be, the success of their work inevitably depends on the quality of their leaders. I am, convinced that the key to leadership lies in the principle: ‘He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.’ Leadership should not bring privileges, but duties.
No man should ask his subordinates to do more than he does himself. If work begins at eight in the morning, the top men should be there on time. If the workers snatch a quick lunch in a cafeteria, the directors should do the same, and not absent themselves for two hours to eat at a restaurant.
Everyone should enjoy his or her daily work. Enjoyment depends on personal relations. It is the duty of the senior men to make their subordinates happy by knowing them personally and by producing a spirit of comradeship and of mutual pride in the work.
Warm personal relationships can be used by senior men to discuss with their subordinates the progress of the work, their mutual achievements and the difficulties which lie ahead. Such intercourse and exchange of confidences foster a sense of comradeship and team-work.
The plague of paper work
One of the principal obstacles to leadership today is the ever-increasing amount of paper work, which tends to keep senior people constantly at their desks, and hence militates against human relationships. This plague affects every department of our lives- industry, the armed services, the Church, the administration and almost every other human activity.
No amount of paper work, planning or statistics can produce comradeship.
‘Liberation’ from the office
When I commanded, the Arab Legion, I too suffered from the endless stream of paper. Office life, moreover, was insidious. To escape from it, I found myself obliged to make and observe my own rule of life. Three days a week I spent in the office. The other three days I spent visiting the men at work or in the field, no matter how much paper lay in my in-tray. At a pinch, the extra paper work could be done in the house after working hours. Company directors and civil servants should remember that by calling for more reports and statistics, they make it impossible for their subordinates to carry out essential tasks of leadership.
I recently received a letter from a friend in the United States in which he said that the outstanding characteristic of life in that country today is selfishness. This peculiarity seems to me to be due to the fact that the acquisition of money has become the chief object of our lives.
As I said in my first article, we make money for ourselves, not for our community or our country. We may, however, extend the charge of selfishness from individuals to confederations, trade unions and businesses, each of which concentrates on the interests of its members, disregarding the country as a whole, and other bodies similar to itself.
The necessity for work
The motto of the school at which I was educated was Labor Omnia Vincit- Work conquers everything. Asian immigrants often arrive penniless in the United States, but within five or six years they are wealthy and well established. The reason is that they are prepared to work day and night, whereas the native Americans work only short hours.
Trade unions have undoubtedly achieved great things in Britain, but they have also largely contributed to her decline by urging their members to restrict their output.
A constructive outlook necessitates hard work, increased production and an energetic policy of expansion. Such an attitude would result in the earning of increased wealth, leading to higher wages and an improved city environment.
Business executives who spend two hours at lunch and shop-floor workers who limit their own output are two faces of the same coin- a decline of energy and, above all, of enthusiasm.
We need constructive leaders who can rouse the nation to new energy and enthusiasm, as did Winston Churchill in his 1940 speech to the British people, when he told them that he had ‘nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat’.
Politicians who seek votes by promising the electors more money cannot supply positive leadership. Human beings can only be roused to enthusiasm by a clarion call to service and sacrifice for a noble cause.
Another deeply alarming symptom is the appearance of bribery and corruption in our public life. One outstanding quality which has characterised British civil servants for more than a century has been the absence of bribery. Living a great part of my life in the Middle East, I have endlessly heard the people of those countries express their surprise and admiration at the fact that British officers and officials never took bribes.
In the last few years, alas, we read of an increasing number of cases of bribery and corruption involving British public servants. Corruption is a cancer which destroys a nation from within.
Intellectualism cannot provide a solution
I indicated the shortcomings of intellectualism in my first article. We suffer today under the illusion that human cleverness can save us. A new ideology, a lot more new laws, more intellectual planning, a change of the party in office- these are offered as remedies for our distresses.
Politicians are unwilling or afraid to admit that our decline is due to a loss of moral fibre. Yet there cannot be the slightest doubt that this is the case. No amount of intellectual cleverness can restore greatness to a nation which has lost its energy, its initiative, its honesty and, above all, its dedication to service. ‘Only readiness for self-sacrifice can enable a community to survive,’ I wrote in my first article.
Our problems, therefore, are how to secure the reform of moral standards and how to bring about devotion to service and sacrifice.
Hitting them for six
Personally I believe in Britain. If we could only shake of our negative attitudes and resolve to stop our internal quarrels and to set ourselves energetically to work, I believe (to use a British metaphor) we could hit all our detractors for six.
7. The Position of Women
I was surprised to receive little comment on my remarks regarding the increase of female influence in public life in tithes of national decline. I mentioned that the Arab feminist movement came to an end at the close of the ninth century, when the breakdown of public security made it unsafe for women to go out into the streets unescorted.
Once again, we do not know the reason for the emergence of women into public life in periods of decadence, because the rise and fall of nations have never been studied by our historians. Is there some way in which the men of a nation can become decadent, but not the women?
Reversal of the sexes
The increasing prominence of women in public life seems to coincide with a desire on the part of some men to imitate women. In Baghdad, there were young men who wore female clothes and strings of beads. This tendency may coincide with an increase in homosexuality. This has been called the reversal of the sexes – the men want to be women, the women men.
Of course the majority of men and women continue to marry, to produce families and to observe the normal relations between the sexes. Nevertheless, the reversal of the sexes seems to be a sign of decadence.
Again, however, while recording this development, we are unable to offer an explanation or a cure.
Women and the next generation
When considering the future, we realise the importance of women in deciding the quality of the next generation. The first ten years of life stamp the future character of a child, and during those years the influence of a good mother can be decisive. We can probably say with confidence that most of the great men in history owed their characters to their splendid mothers, rather than to the example of their fathers. It is for this reason that the modern tendency of women with small children to go out to work seems so fraught with future danger for our country.
The ever-increasing number of men and women who desert their spouses and children to run away with someone else provides an alarming portent for the future. The children, dragged from pillar to post, grow up mentally unstable, refractory, cynical and delinquent.
No statement could be farther from the truth than the claim that my morals are my own affair and are nobody else’s business. The morals of every one of us are of vital importance to the future of our country.
Noble and selfless service
God, we are told, created us mate and female. But women seem to me to have rendered the more noble and selfless service and to have been the vital foundation of the nation. They toil day after day at their domestic duties and at bringing up their children, without the apparent rewards and publicity enjoyed by men. No doubt the realisation of the selfless service carried out by women gave rise to the veneration which occurred here and there in the past.
But even among ourselves, such practices as opening doors for women, allowing them to pass first, taking off the hat or giving up seats to women, were symptoms of the same feeling. They indicated that the nation was founded upon its women, who consequently deserved the respect and the veneration of men.
Of all the internal quarrels to which we devote so much of our time, the most absurd is surely the demand for the ‘liberation’ of women. Both my grandmothers died before 1910, but I can remember them clearly. Certainly no suspicion of inferiority ever entered their minds. They presided like empresses, gentle and beloved, over their children and grandchildren.
Any good I may have done in my life I attribute principally to the influence of my mother.
Women and culture
We must also remember that women are the inspiration and the guardians of romance, poetry and culture. Any man who has served in an army at war, or in a distant region where there were no women, realises how coarse and brutal men can become without female influence.
Men are the common clay of the human race, the hewers of wood and the drawers of water. How tragic it is that women, our guardian angels, the inspirers of all our best actions, should desire to descend from their high estate and rake in the mud of the sordid rat race.
8. Population and the Future
The unexpected happens
When attempting to discuss the future, it is interesting to observe that, all through history, the wisest men of their time have completely failed to foresee events. Providence always seems to have an utterly unexpected card to play. Who, ten or twenty years ago, foresaw the sudden enormous wealth which Iran and desert Arabia have acquired in the last three or four years?
Means of transport and communication
It is obvious that modem means of transport and communication must profoundly affect the future. Some people foresee the development of a single human race, sharing a common mixed culture. Such forecasts are no more than guesswork. The emergence of a single race and culture over the earth seems to me to threaten a tragic monotony and impoverishment in human life.
Nevertheless, it is worth noting that propinquity does not necessarily mean either co-operation or fraternisation. The Greeks and the Turks have lived together in Cyprus for centuries, and only in the last few years has there been violent hostility. Ireland is another example of two races which have never amalgamated.
Is it not more probable, at least for a long time to come, that the ease of transport from one continent to another may result in the creation of many pockets of persons of various races, isolated amid different ethnic majorities?
Is compulsory integration wise?
Middle Eastern governments always realised that people prefer to live in their own communities, with others of the same language, customs and religion. Every city had its separate quarters for Arabs, Turks, Armenians, Persians, Circassians, Jews or Christians, or whatever they may have been. If all were fairly treated by an impartial government, no trouble occurred.
Obviously, however, all communities must be equally treated, where such public benefits as schools, roads, and municipal services are available. If there is fair treatment for all, I am intensely opposed to officious governments attempting to regiment people by force.
The idea of national homogeneity seems to be of Western origin, and has given rise to many problems. In the United States, troops have been used to compel black and white children to go to the same schools. The Israeli Government evicted hundreds of thousands of Palestine Arabs from their homes and their country by military force. The population of Israel was to be entirely Jewish.
The intellectual conception of homogeneity, in an age of rapid transportation, seems destined to lead only to violence and hatred.
It is true that, in my first article, I referred to the influx of foreigners as a source of national weakness, as indeed it is. I am inclined to think that homogeneous nations would be better. I do not mean thereby the rigid exclusion of all foreigners, who may enter a country for business, or as technical experts or for similar causes, but the mass transfer of populations.
But as transport becomes easier and faster, mixed populations may become inevitable. In such cases, the mutual toleration of different communities seems to be wiser than the attempt to integrate them by force.
One of my correspondents offered the criticism that I did not mention the enormous increase in world population. My excuse is, once again, that I was writing the history of the past.
I must confess, however, that I do not know what the effect of world population increases may be in the future. In general, the more sophisticated nations do not increase much in population. The immense increases in the populations of Asia may well constitute a threat to other nations.
9. The Spirit Makes Alive
The effect of spirit
In all problems, it is not the cleverness of the planning which can ensure success, but the spirit which inspires the persons involved. Love will always find a way. Love, we are told, is patient and benevolent, is not jealous or arrogant, or selfish, and is not easily provoked. To some extent, the present ideals of the British Commonwealth are based on this spirit, if its leaders can live up to it. Above all, it means not to use compulsion, except in the very last resort- that is, if it is the only way to protect the weak from the most terrible forms of oppression.
A revival of religion
I am convinced that moral standards can only be raised by a revival of religion. The proliferation of ‘isms’ in our own times proves that no intellectual panacea can command general support. A group of clever people produce a theory of society which they are convinced will result in an earthly paradise, but it is impossible to build a dream society with violent, selfish people. Their theories are bitterly attacked by other groups, and conflict and hatred result.
Religion alone can persuade men to abandon their immediate, short-term selfishness and to dedicate themselves to the common good in complete self-oblivion. By religion, I mean the conviction that this life is not the end; that there is a spiritual world which, though invisible, penetrates all creation, and which can strike a sympathetic note in every human heart.
To accept the existence of this vast spiritual world immensely enlarges our horizon and enables us to see the pettiness of our quarrels and our attempts to grab for ourselves. It can result in a gradual transformation of our characters. But, more often than not, pride in out own cleverness closes our minds to the spiritual world which everywhere surrounds and envelopes us.
A message of hope
The object of my first article was not, therefore, to moan that ‘the end is nigh’, rather the reverse. Our decline is due not to external forces over which we have no control, but to our own greed, selfishness and immorality, and to our loss of courage and energy. ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.’ These are failings which each one of us can help to rectify.
Our duty is, therefore, to inaugurate movements for the reversal of these trends; scrupulously to carry out our duties to our families; to work as hard as we possibly can, and to carry our subordinates with us, through comradeship and personal relations; to seize every opportunity to speak and to write in favour of self-sacrifice, service and unselfishness. It is, above all, the revival of our spirit which will transform our situation and guarantee our future.
Our country is obsessed by the grudging spirit of ‘Why should I?’ We need leaders to inspire us once again with the spirit of selfless service. But if our leaders are incapable of setting us such an example, we must do it ourselves.
We need the spirit of the prophet who, when he heard that hard service was needed, cried joyfully, “Here am I! Send me!”
- Our teaching of history should be modified so as to include the history of the human race.
- There can be no doubt that too long a period of power and wealth leads to decadence. We must diagnose how this occurs and take steps to rectify it.
- Old nations suffer from atrophy owing to organisation, to rigid forms and to an ever- increasing bureaucracy, destroying individual initiative and psychological drive.
- The armed forces recruited from a welfare state tend to lose initiative. Too luxurious a standard of living results in their becoming all tail and no teeth.
- Too much organisation from above tends to destroy initiative. One of our chief problems is how to avoid over-organisation in an industrial nation.
- We can appreciate the humane and benevolent intentions of the welfare state, while simultaneously realising that a spoon-fed population loses all initiative.
- Decadent nations cease to explore new sources of wealth. Their energies are wasted in sordid squabbles over inherited wealth.
- The influence of the Crown is impartial and thus valuable.
- Both security and prosperity require large unified areas of free trade. The tendency to split up into smaller and smaller fragments increases poverty and insecurity.
- The European Community is not a device to reduce the price of groceries in Britain. Its object is to produce a wider trading area and better integration of European defence measures.
- The surest guarantee of world peace and free trade would be Anglo-American command of the sea. This fact, the foundation of the past greatness of Britain, does not seem to have been grasped by our modern politicians.
- Although we talk of liberty, one of the most disastrous of modern trends is the tendency to use coercion, whether by the use of weapons, by strikes, blockades or boycotts. Reason, discussion and amicable persuasion produce better and more lasting results. But in order to be listened to we need to be strong.
- A notable feature of declining nations is a loss of physical energy. We cannot be sure of the reason, for national decline has never been the subject of research.
- Every one of us can contribute to the recovery of our country by working harder and by fostering a sense of comradeship and team-work.
- Bribery and corruption in public life are new features in Britain. They cannot be obliterated by more laws or by increased penalties, but only by the diffusion of a higher standard of morality.
- The increasing appearance of women in public life seems to have been a symptom of decline of past nations. We cannot explain the reversal of the sexes because no research has been done in this field.
- Women are the guardians of the national future by the dedication with which they bring up their children. When women neglect small children to earn a double salary for the family, there is grave danger of injury to the next generation.
- Men should venerate women for their noble and selfless service. Women, in their turn, would do better not to descend from their high estate.
- Ease of travel and the increase in world population may inevitably lead to mixed populations. This tendency presents many dangers of internal hatreds. It is better to allow people to live as they wish, and in separate communities if they so desire, rather than to force them to integrate.
- Love, patient and benevolent, will always find a way. The ideals of the British Commonwealth are based on this spirit.
- Only a revival of spiritual devotion – not fashionable ‘-isms’- can inspire selfless service.
- Each one of us can contribute by leading moral and dedicated lives, and by speaking and writing in that sense. If we have no leaders to inspire us, we must ‘go it alone’.