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The War Justified By The Evolutionary Rhythm

( Originally Published 1916 )


Before the individual knows it, he is involved in a complex which usurps his place in the scheme of things. His social wants grow apace with his individualisation. The more highly specialised he be-comes, the greater his dependence on others. His interests are closely interwoven with the interests of the aggregate ; likewise his activities. There is an exaltation to be had from forming part of a mighty whole; few can resist the pleasure of the larger life-throb that comes with being one of many. Almost imperceptibly is man drawn into the vortex of the new unit — the social body.

But while the development of the individual is largely dependent upon that of the social unit, it is not one with the development of that unit. A state may desire that a general mean of knowledge be spread among its people, but it does not look with favour on independent judgment, nor on the scruples of individual conscience; it wants obedience, and not criticism; self-restraint, not self-assertion. The growth of the individual in that which is most peculiar and distinctive in him was what made the political unity of Greece impossible. In its spirit of individual self-abnegation lies the political strength of modern Japan. Although a society has the strongest interest in educating, training and organising the powers of its members, that interest is in no wise concerned with the welfare of the individual and may be quite opposed to it.

So nearly complete did man's conquest of the physical world seem prior to the beginning of the war, that humanity had come to look to thoughts and aspirations for the integration essential to its higher evolution. Strange to say, it was Rudolph Eucken, Germany's foremost philosopher, who was the chief exponent of such spiritual compounding. A glance backward over the life-movement shows how unfounded was this hope; it is clear that from the biological point of view the idea exists, as Aristotle had it, in the world of matter and not apart from it. We have to recognise that a true involution — that is, one making for the manifestation of a higher consciousness — requires a material good, as well as a spiritual one, for the basis of co-ordination. Otherwise it must needs project its spiritual hierarchy into some realm beyond our mortal ken, after the manner of religions generally. To him who questions this need of a material good as the basis of involution, I instance the phenomenal spread of Christian Science. What with the increase of cosmopolitanism and liberality of thought in matters of religion, the day has long passed for a purely spiritual union. A person who can worship with every belief, worships with none. The God of the involute is ever a jealous God, having no other gods before him, and his people are a chosen people.

While the ties of race, language and social traditions are strong for the binding of the socius, the ties of a common work are still more impelling. There is an organising quality appertaining thereto not to be found in other mutualities. And furthered as industrial involution is by patriotic sentiment and common legislation, the lines of demarcation for the human aggregate fall naturally along state boundaries.

But wherefore any segregating at all? The spirit of Christianity is that of a universal brotherhood. Why not one body for all peoples? Debarred from actual knowledge as we are by our position in the life-sequence, we cannot do better than to assume the same personal idealism for that higher level of being as for our own. And once we grant a self-defining consciousness to the State, we have postulated a society of beings like unto it ; its reality carries theirs. The oneness of a world at peace is not to be achieved through the doing away with natural boundaries, but has to come through the harmony of many nations joined in " native contemplation of the same ideal." And first these have to attain to self-definition through struggle and conflict, for such is the evolution of the moral order, whatever the elements constituting it.


The Great War has been ascribed to the failure of Christianity; it were truer to say, paradoxical as it may seem, that this war could not have come about unless Christianity had succeeded of its purpose. That national integrity obtains in the present cataclysm denotes a higher degree of self-abnegation and personal sacrifice than the world has hitherto known. A loyalty sufficiently powerful to inspire great masses of individuals to give their lives without hope of personal gain or sense of national wrong, must needs be imbued with the spirit of a religious movement. Such unity of action as we are witnessing is possible only if the community of feeling is that of Christian brotherhood. The patriotism of French and German soldier alike is ascribable only to consciousness of contact with some higher being. Characterised as no previous conflict has been by the sudden awakening of the individual to something above and beyond himself, the war now waging is a religious war in the deepest sense — and this be-cause Christianity has raised man to the perception of a life beyond self.

Religion has throughout history been the amalgamating principle in the building up and maintenance of national character. Indeed, the superiority of Christianity over other religions is best attested by the fact that the Christian era is marked as no other has been by the rise and growth of many nations. The Fatherhood of God and the brother-hood of man, the giving of self, are manifestly factors making for integration; and it is to these, in the last analysis, that the superhuman entities now con-tending with one another for the survival of the fittest owe their existence. Christ's mission was to bring to man the knowledge of a higher life. His teachings make it most clear that the way to this life is through social cohesion —" When (even) two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them." In the light of this, who shall say that the Lord of Hosts is not with each and every nation that goes forth to battle calling on His name? Certain it is that the community of spirit basic to an efficient state organisation, to say nothing of the sense of oneness obtaining from military discipline, is creative of a national over-soul or consciousness. We have to regard the years of its peace as constituting for a nation its period of spiritual gestation. Men had long to dwell together in Christian amity before they could know that it is " Ourself, not ourselves, that makes for righteousness." Because the time is now ripe for the manifestation of these super-personal entities which we call nations is proof conclusive that the mission of the Galilean is accomplished.

And in that day there will be war and rumours of war, for it is only through a common peril that all the citizens of a state may be brought to the joy of unity. War offers as naught else the supreme moment for the transcending of self. Socialist and suffragette witness to the fact that individual differences are quickly forgotten in the identity of its purpose. Is war then the consequent of religion? Yes,— if our vision be limited to the historical range; but given the whole life-spiral we see that differentiation and integration function together for the upward movement, and the struggle for existence characterises the one, as altruism the other. But if war is the consequent of religion, religion is the consequent of war — such is their serial order in our experiencing. We have to remember that these superhuman entities we call nations must submit in their turn to a competition for survival of the fittest. And because reason is not only generated by involution, but is the necessary condition of progress through it, international adjustment will come in its own good time.

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