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means of winning their way in the world, and mind without muscle has far greater force than muscle without mind. These are some of the after-changes in the interior of nations, of which the causes must be scrutinized; and I now mention them only to bring out how many softer growths have now half hidden the old and harsh civilization which war made.
But it is very dubious whether the spirit of war does not still color our morality far too much. Metaphors from law and metaphors from war make most of our current moral phrases, and a nice examination would easily explain that both rather vitiate what both often illustrate. The military habit makes man think far too much of definite action and far too little of brooding meditation : life is not a set campaign but an irregular work, and the main forces in it are not overt resolutions but latent and half-involuntary promptings. The mistake of military ethics is, to exaggerate the conceptions of discipline, and so to present the moral force of the will in a barer form than it ever ought to take: military morals can direct the axe to cut down the trees, but it knows nothing of the quiet force by which the forest grows.
What has been said is enough, I hope, to bring out that there are many qualities and many institutions of the most various sort[s] which give nations an advantage in military competition; that most of these and most warlike qualities tend principally to good; that the constant winning of these favored competitors is the particular mode by which the best qualities wanted in elementary civilization are propagated and preserved.
In the last essay I endeavored to show that in the early age of man- the “fighting age" I called itthere was a considerable though not certain tendency towards progress: the best nations conquered the worst; by the possession of one advantage or another the best competitor overcame the inferior competitor. So long as there was continual fighting, there was a likelihood of improvement in martial virtues : and in early times many virtues are really “martial”. that is, tend to success in war - which in later times we do not think of so calling because thefir) original usefulness is hidden by their later usefulness; we judge of them by the[ir] present effects, not by their first. The love of law, for example, is a virtue which no one now would call martial; yet in early times it disciplined nations, and the disciplined nations won. The gift of “conservative innovation ” — the gift of matching new institutions to old - is not nowadays a warlike virtue, yet the Romans owed much of their success to it: alone among ancient nations, they had the deference to usage which combines nations and the partial permission of selected change which improves nations; and therefore they succeeded. Just so in most cases, all through the earliest times, martial merit is a token of real merit: the nation that wins is the nation that ought to win. The simple virtues of such ages mostly make a man a soldier if they make him anything. No doubt the brute force of number may be too potent even then (as so often
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it is afterwards): civilization may be thrown back by the conquest of many very rude men over a few less rude men. But the first elements of civilization are great military advantages; and roughly it is a rule of the first times that you can infer merit from conquest, and that progress is promoted by the competitive examination of constant war.
This principle explains at once why the "protected” regions of the world - the interior of continents like Africa, outlying islands like Australia or New Zealand—are of necessity backward. They are still in the preparatory school; they have not been taken on class by class, as No. 2, being a little better, routed and effaced No. 1, and as No. 3, being a little better still, routed and effaced No. 2. And it explains why Western Europe was early in advance of other countries, because there the contest of races was exceedingly severe: unlike most regions, it was a tempting part of the world and yet not a corrupting part; those who did not possess it wanted it, and those who had it, not being enervated, could struggle hard to keep it. The conflict of nations is at first a main force in the improvement of nations.
But what are nations ? What are these groups which are so familiar to us, and yet if we stop to think, so strange; which are as old as history ; which Herodotus found in almost as great numbers and with quite as marked distinctions as we see them now? What breaks the human race up into fragments so unlike one another, and yet each in its interior so monotonous ? The question is most puzzling, though the fact is so familiar, and I would not venture to say that I can answer it completely; though I can advance some considerations which as it seems to me go a certain way towards answering it. Perhaps these same considerations throw some light too on the further and still more interesting question, why some few nations progress and why the greater part do not.
Of course at first all such distinctions of nation and nation were explained by original diversity of race: they are dissimilar, it was said, because they were created dissimilar. But in most cases this easy supposition will not do its work: you cannot, consistently with plain facts, imagine enough original races to make it tenable; some half-dozen or more great families of men may or may not have been descended from separate first stocks, but sub-varieties have certainly not so descended. You may argue, rightly or wrongly, that all Aryan nations are of a single or peculiar origin, just as it was long believed that all Greek-speaking nations were of one such stock; but you will not be listened to if you say that there were one Adam and Eve for Sparta and another Adam and Eve for Athens. All Greeks are evidently of one origin; but within the limits of the Greek family, as of all other families, there is some contrastmaking force which causes city to be unlike city and tribe unlike tribe.
Certainly, too, nations did not originate by simple natural selection, as wild varieties of animals (I do not speak now of species) no doubt arise in nature. Natural selection means the preservation of those individuals which struggle best with the forces that oppose their race; but you could not show that the natural obstacles opposing human life much differed between Sparta and Athens, or indeed between Rome and Athens, and yet Spartans, Athenians, and Romans differ essentially. Old writers fancied (and it was a very natural idea) that the direct effect of climateor rather of land, sea, and air, and the sum total of physical conditions - varied man from man and changed race to race; but experience refutes this. The English immigrant lives in the same climate as the Australian or Tasmanian; but he has not become like those races, nor will a thousand years in most respects make him like them. The Papuan and the Malay, as Mr. Wallace finds, live now and have lived for ages side by side in the same tropical regions, with every sort of diversity. Even in animals his researches show as by an object-lesson that the direct efficacy of physical conditions is overrated.
“Borneo,” he says, “closely resembles New Guinea, not only in its vast size and its freedom from volcanoes, but in its variety of geological structure, its uniformity of climate, and the general aspect of the forest vegetation that clothes its surface; the Moluccas are the counterpart of the Philippines in their volcanic structure, their extreme fertility, their luxuriant forests, and their frequent earthquakes; and Bali with the east end of Java has a climate almost as dry and a soil almost as arid as that of Timor. Yet between these corresponding groups of islands — constructed as it were after the same pattern, subjected to the same climate, and bathed by the same oceans — there exists the greatest possible contrast when we compare their animal productions. Nowhere does the ancient doctrine, that differences or similarities in the various forms of life that inhabit different countries are due to corresponding physical differences or similarities in the countries themselves, meet with so direct and palpable a contradiction. Borneo and New Guinea, as alike physically as two distinct countries can be, are zoologically as wide as the poles asunder; while Australia, with its dry winds, its open plains, its stony deserts, and its temperate climate, yet produces birds and quadrupeds which are closely related to those inhabiting the hot, damp, luxuriant forests which everywhere clothe the plains and mountains of New Guinea." * That is, we have like living things in the most dissimilar situations, and unlike living things in the most similar ones. And though some of Mr. Wallace's speculations on ethnology may be doubtful, no one doubts that in the archipelago he has studied so well, as often elsewhere in the world though rarely with such marked emphasis, we find like men in contrasted places and unlike men in resembling places : climate is clearly not the force which makes nations, for it does not always make them and they are often made without it.
The problem of “nation-making” – that is, the explanation of the origin of nations such as we now
* Alfred Russell Wallace, “ Malay Archipelago," Chap. i.