Typos p. 142: ennumerate [= enumerate]; p. 159: contributary [= contributory]
- p. 129 -
A Criticism of the Conservative in Practice
The problems chosen seemed peculiarly suitable for investigation owing to the fact that, although they occupy but a small place in the political history of England, they are all closely connected with the vital and greater problem of preserving the identity of the nation, and are therefore of the deepest concern to Tory and Conservative politicians.
Much has been said in the past, and still continues to be said, about the stupidity of the Conservative Party, their lack of ideas, and their lack of policy. A good deal of this adverse criticism is undoubtedly deserved; but let it not be imagined that because other parties have made a bigger display, they are therefore more intellectual than the Conservative Party. This conclusion is, as a rule, much too readily drawn before the ground has been properly explored. It is generally supposed that Liberalism and Jacobinism (Socialism, Communism) possess a greater weight of brains because their shop window is always more attractively dressed than that of the Conservative. But all ideas are not necessarily valuable. To be full of ideas is not necessarily to be in a position to offer even one practical solution of any modern problem.
It is because the Conservative Party have as a rule no practical, no realistic ideas, that they may fairly be regarded as stupid. But in this they are no worse than any other party. In fact they are, on the whole, a good deal better. It may be true that the leading coterie of Conservatism, together with the Aristocracy, have recently staked too much upon the undeniable charm of their manners, and the fact that this alone has not been found enough to maintain the nation in a state of contented tutelage, is not surprising. But let us not exaggerate the stupidity of one party to the advantage of any other. In the lack of realistic ideas Conservatives are no better and no worse than any of their opponents.
A proof of how completely Conservatism has become severed from the realistic principles on which it is based and from which it derives, may be gathered from the fact that there is no longer any necessary association between Conservatism and, for instance, the protection of the masses. When, as a Conservative, one writes or speaks in favour of the poor, or the oppressed, or the exploited proletariat, and recommends an attitude of solicitude and sympathy towards them one is instantly suspected of Socialistic tendencies. A certain Whig reviewer, in discussing my book, The False Assumptions of Democracy, which is really Conservative in spirit, accused me of recommending "highly Socialistic" measures, because, if you please, I declared it to be the duty of the Conservatives to give serious thought to such matters as the feeding of infants, pure bread and pure drink.
The Tory and Conservative, however, have certainly laboured under the great disadvantage of having only a very sparse literature. Even historical treatises, ever since the Grand Rebellion, have been chiefly the work of Whigs, and when I first set to work upon my Defence of Aristocracy, I was struck by the great disproportion between the literature on Democracy and Liberalism and that on Aristocracy and Conservatism. Treatises on the principles of the Tory and Conservative faith hardly exist, and the student of these principles has to fall back upon the
Even among the writers of purely political philosophy, such as Burke and Disraeli, there is a good deal of mysticism which is confusing. 2 I will give only one example from each writer. To speak as Burke does of "Each contract of each particular
1 In Spencer the loose thinking is frequently fundamental. Compare, for instance, his doctrine regarding parasites, with his doctrine dealing with the necessity inherent in the blind process of evolution of favouring "changes of nature which increase life and augment happiness".
2 G. P. Gooch, M.A., in the chapter on Europe and the French Revolution (Cambridge Modern History. Vol. VIII, p. 757), recognises the mysticism of Burke. But, so far, I have found no confirmation of my own view regarding Disraeli's mysticism.
It is also mystical in Disraeli to exalt "race" as he does, as a kind of metaphysical force operating as a panacea for all ills. Such phraseology savours of religious fanaticism rather than of political realism. The word "race", in relation to the national politics of Europe, can have only one use, that is to describe the end-result of the segregation of a particular body of people, who, although originally composed of different ethnic components, have become largely homogeneous in character through the observance of the same culture, values and ideals over a long period of time. A mixed people, who enjoy an integrated culture for many generations may thus acquire characteristics, more or less uniform, which constitute them a separate ethnic division of mankind, and any disturbance of their culture, or any introduction on a large scale of foreign elements may so destroy their homogeneity as to invalidate their claim to national individuality. But to speak of race without carefully denning the term as Disraeli does, 2 and then to say that "all is race", leads one rather to suspect that he
2 It is true that in Endymion he tells us that "there is only one thing which makes a race, and that is blood", but this is not very helpful.
Thus Tories and Conservatives may be said to have laboured under two radical disadvantages, which it would have needed a continuous sequence of enlightened thinkers and statesmen to have overcome. On the one hand they have been restricted to realism for a sound ideology, and have thus had the whole field of romantic and fantastic imagery excluded from their programme (and the ignorant populace is strongly moved by romantic and fantastic imagery); and, on the other, they have suffered from an extreme dearth of doctrinal literature.
It is true that they have too often failed to master
Yet the recent political history of Europe affords abundant proof of how easily even the mere hawkers of ideas, whatever the quality of their wares may be, can succeed in political struggles. Both in Russia and Italy, it has been the journalists not the statesmen, the
We may not look gladly upon the journalist who has worked himself into political power; for apart from the fact that we cannot expect sound political thought from a man trained in appealing to the popular taste, we should remember that journalism also spells opportunism, and, as a rule, irresponsibility. Nevertheless, the careers of Lenin, Trotsky, and Mussolini, show what an immense advantage over the modern professional politician that man enjoys who has only a remote and mercenary relationship to ideas, sound or unsound, and the example afforded by these successful journalist statesmen ought to warn the politician of the future against continuing any further along the lines of that unphilosophic and haphazard political activity in which all ideas are regarded as suspect, and so-called "men of action" (in plain English, men of a mechanical turn of mind) are preferred before men of thought and philosophic training.
Thus, although the charge of stupidity which is so often and so frivolously levelled against the Conservative and Aristocratic party of the nineteenth century, contains, as we have seen a misunderstanding for the qualifications required by a sound Conservative statesman are by no means confined to intellectual
Dealing with the question of Health first, it appears fairly obvious from the facts known about the Middle Ages, and from our knowledge of the minute care of the health and welfare of the community taken by the governing classes of that period, that mediæval society would have been much better able to handle the problems created by the Industrial Revolution than were the statesmen of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. For, as far as England is concerned, the Reformation and the Grand Rebellion had two significant consequences not usually referred to in history. The first of these was the destruction of Catholic tradition in the matter of diet and hygiene, and the second was the severance of politics from economics. 1 The statesmen of the Middle Ages, and above all the King at their head, were perfectly well aware that the health and happiness of the individual subject were questions which it was incumbent upon the State to study and understand. By the time that Charles I was beheaded, however, this doctrine had become almost obsolete. Individual happiness and health, were regarded as beyond the sphere of government, and it was left to Socialism in the nineteenth
1 Mr. Maurice Woods (op. cit. p. 408) comes to almost the same conclusion.
Against those who still think this view purely Socialistic, it is idle to argue that you cannot preserve a nation's identity throughout change without caring for its health and its happiness, and therefore that sound Conservative politics must be concerned with the national health. 1 The fact that Tories and Conservatives long neglected this part of their political doctrine, and that by so doing they created the breach which Socialism fills, is one too historical to influence the cogitations of the average modern journalist or politician. Hence the long dissociation in both the ignorant and the sophisticated mind, of Conservative politics from any concern about national health and welfare. And if we examine the data given on this point in the last chapter we shall find that, in spite of the enormous and frequently devastating changes that came over the lives of the common people from 1760 to 1830, nothing was done by any Tory government to establish a board or department which would take upon itself the responsibility for the Public Health, until through the agitation of purely private individuals, measures were taken in 18441845 to organise the water supply and sewage of the country, and again in 1866 to establish a more
1 Disraeli was particularly emphatic on this point in his speech at Manchester on April 3rd, 1872. He claimed that "pure air, pure water, the inspection of unhealthy habitations, the adulteration of food, etc.", were subjects with which Conservative politics ought to concern themselves, and it is interesting as a reflection upon the attitude of his Liberal opponents regarding these matters, to note that they contemptuously stigmatised his programme as a "policy of sewage". (See Selected Speeches of the Earl of Beaconsfield. Longmans Green & Co., 1882. Vol. II, pp. 511 and 532533).
It may, however, be questioned whether even the Act of 1866, despite the wisdom of some of its provisions, did not include a principle which was more Whig than Tory in its conception, and for this reason: if sound Conservatism must include some earnest endeavour to preserve the national health, it is none the less committed to the policy of also preserving the national character. But the radical feature of the Anglo-Saxon character, and one of its most valuable elements, had, as has already been shown, always consisted in its particularism, that is to say its independence and self-reliance. To introduce, therefore, the principle of gratuitous medical service, even for an operation which, at the time, was believed to be as important as vaccination, was a dangerous innovation. It was anti-Tory and anti-Conservative. To defray the cost of a slight service of this kind in order to encourage its use, was to begin that indirect subsidisation of industry out of the pockets of the whole community, which was gradually to undermine the character of the working population, and in this sense it ought to have been strongly deprecated by the true Conservatives of the day. It amounted to playing into the hands of the payers of wages without reckoning with the harm done to the wage-earners who availed themselves of the gratuity. Far better would it have been to impose a certain degree of compulsion (with
Throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century this vicious principle was extended more and more, until with Lloyd George's Insurance Act of 1912, the method of spending a portion of the poor man's wages for him, before it reached his pocket, was established upon such a prodigious scale, as to make a certain shrewd writer on the Conservative side ask whether Government was not actually evading the Truck Act. Whatever may be said against the working of the Insurance Act and as far as I have been able to discover there appears to be a good deal to be said
More or less the same remarks apply to the Tory attitude to Food. It was not incumbent upon the fantastic and romantic Liberals, with their Puritan disregard for the bodies of the people, to concern themselves about the nation's food. But it was decidedly the duty of all Tory governments, whose realism should have awakened them to the idleness of trying to preserve the identity of the nation without securing the latter's healthy nourishment. More-
1 For an interesting adverse criticism of it see the wholly impartial work of the American writer, Gerald Morgan (op. cit. pp. 61, 62). Its chief absurdity was that it was copied from Bismarck's 1883 legislation. How can legislation be copied in this way? Has the German the same problem of character to deal with as the English? The fact that Lloyd George imagined that he could thus borrow political ideas wholesale from another nation possessed of a different character-complex from the British, is only an additional proof, if such were needed, of the fantastic and romantic nature of the Liberal mind.
When the measure which resulted from the Commission, appointed in 1855, to enquire into the adulteration of food and drink, reached the Committee stage in the Commons, Mr. Wise, on February 29th, 1860, said: "Adulteration was in the highest degree an injustice and hardship to the poor. . . . The wealthiest classes were able to protect themselves, the poor could not do so." 1 He then proceeded to ennumerate some of the findings of the Commission, and, among other facts, revealed that bread was habitually adulterated with potatoes, plaster of Paris, alum and sulphate of copper; gin with grains of Paradise, 2 sulphuric acid and cayenne; marmalade with apples and turnips; porter and stout, though sent pure from the brewers, with water, sugar, treacle, salt, alum, cocculus Indicus, 3 grains of Paradise, nux vomica and sulphuric acid 4; vinegar, with water, sugar and sulphuric acid; and tea with silk worm dung, which gave it a deep colouring. 5 He also stated that the Commission had arrived at the conclusion that: "the intoxication, so deplorably prevalent, is in many cases less due to the natural properties of the drinks themselves, than to the admixture of
1 Hansard. Vol. CLVI, p. 2026.
2 An aromatic and pungent seed imported from Guinea.
3 A drug consisting of the dried fruit of anamirta cocculus, having narcotic and poisonous properties yielding pierotoxin.
4 This abuse is still to a large extent carried on by retailing publicans all over the country, with beer that is said to be "on draught".
5 Hansard. Vol. CLVI, pp. 20262027.
The Adulteration of Food and Drinks' Bill did indeed become law in 1860, but, as has already been shown, it did little good, and in many cases met with much opposition before it was passed. One member of the House, Mr. Hardy, even went so far as to say that "useless Bills like the present were prejudicial to the progress of sound legislation" !!
In spite of the many measures that have amplified and realised the original aims of the Liberal Act of 1860, the best of which were certainly due to Conservative administrations, the food situation in England still remains in a deplorable condition, and Conservatives continue to be too prone to regard the whole problem as outside their province, to deal drastically with it. Even, however, if we confine the object of Conservatism merely to a negative attitude towards change, we cannot absolve Conservative politicians from the obligation of controlling the nation's food supply; for it must be obvious that inferior or adulterated food, whether for infants or adults, must lead to change, and change in the direction of impairing the national physique.
With regard to Education, it will not be necessary to enter again into the details of the legislation passed, but only to point out that the gravamen of the charge which should be made against Conservatives for the part they played, not only in endorsing and ratifying Whig measures, but also in initiating measures of their own, consists in their persistently Whig attitude towards the problem. No Conservative ought ever to have been party to a measure which went any way towards establishing free compulsory education. What has been said about the Health Acts also applies here.
1 Hansard. Vol. CLVI, pp. 202627.
By providing more and more of the working population's necessaries out of rates and taxes a tendency which increased during the nineteenth century, and reached its zenith with the Liberal Act of 1906, by which the working-man's children were actually fed in the schools we have thus been sliding back to a system of slavery. And one of its worst consequences, already sufficiently apparent, has been the undermining of the character of the English masses. They have lost their independence, self-reliance and thrift, and the responsibility for these losses must rest very largely with the legislature. It was natural in the Whigs and Liberals to abet this policy, for not only were they the special patrons of the towns and of industry, and therefore interested
It was insufficient, however, merely to oppose Free and Compulsory Education, and to take no steps to see that workmen were receiving enough wages to defray the cost of their children's education themselves. And while the attitude of the 1858 Commission may be applauded, we must still blame the Commissioners for proposing no satisfactory alternative along the lines here suggested. No steps taken for securing a fair competence to the working masses, however, could possibly have helped if at the same time no means were taken to safeguard them against the fierce competition of foreign additions to the "labour market", and so long as immigrants from all parts were encouraged to come to this country, because, by swelling the supply of labour, they helped to keep down wages, it was hopeless to proceed to an investigation into the conditions of labour and the level of wages.
Any Conservative measure of reform in the "labour market", therefore, had in the middle of the last century, necessarily to include some such legislation as Mr. Balfour's Aliens' Bill of 1905; and the fact that neither this step nor that concerned with the regulation of wages, was taken, is the best demon-
1 It should be remembered that this Commission of Inquiry was the direct result of a motion which the Conservative educationalist, Sir John Pakington, had succeeded in carrying.
If only we could discern in the debates over the Act of 1870 a glimmering of the proper Conservative light, a sign of the sound Conservative prejudice, we might at least absolve the Tory Party of the period of any direct complicity in the vicious principles then first established. But, as we all know too well, the point of difference, the heat of the controversy in 1870, was entirely confined to the religious aspects of the measure, and Tories and Conservatives supported Mr. Forster with just as much enthusiasm as moderate Liberals. Not only that: when in 1876 it came to the Tories' turn to contribute an Act on Education to the Statute Book, they extended and confirmed the vicious principle contained in the 1870 Bill, although, as we have seen, they altered the method of its operation. Truly the Conservative in the nineteenth century did not shine.
1 It was the more unpardonable seeing that in their report of 1861 the Commissioners who had sat on the Commission appointed to Enquire into the State of Popular Education in England, had said: "Almost all the evidence goes to show that though the offer of gratuitous education might be accepted by a certain number of the parents . it would in general seem otherwise. The sentiment of independence is strong, and it is wounded by the offer of an absolutely gratuitous education" (p. 73 of the Report, 1861). Then the Commissioners added: "The feelings which tend to make the offer of gratuitous education unpopular, tend also to incline the parents to pay as large a share as they can reasonably afford of the expense of the education of their children." (Then follow a number of instances.) And this spirit seemed to be the rule except among "degraded people" who were indifferent, thriftless and reckless (p. 179 of the Report). The principal reason the Commissioners gave for not recommending compulsory education was that this would necessarily lead to gratuitous education (p. 200 of the Report). Thus the proper spirit existed in the country, though it has since disappeared.
It has been said above that no measures taken to adjust wages, and to give the workers a competence that would have maintained them in independence and thrift, could have been effective without a correlative measure safeguarding the British working man from the fierce competition of the immigrant. This, however, is only to state the matter from the point of view of the so-called "Labour Market". If, however, we consider it once more from the standpoint of the national character, and of the influence of alien taste upon the national culture, we obtain a second and very cogent argument in favour of legislation which would have kept out the indigent or even the well-to-do foreigner. For it is hopeless to preserve a nation's identity if the blood of its people, and the unity of its culture, are exposed to alien influences on a large scale. 1 And this brings us again to the question of the Jews and Immigration.
We look in vain for any intelligent Conservative comment on these problems throughout the nineteenth
1 The fact that during the anarchist movement in Europe, when monarchs and heads of States were being assassinated abroad, the English Press was able to boast that our own Royal Family were secure, because the ruck and scum of Europe were hardly likely to foul their one safe asylum (Great Britain), is sufficient proof of the reckless manner with which we allowed our unfortunate working classes to be polluted by the human rubbish of Europe during the nineteenth century. (Vide daily press about the time of the Carnot assassination.)
The Whig attitude, being fantastic, is obvious enough. All that was needed was to soar sufficiently high above realities in order to prove conclusively that the Jew was the most desirable of British denizens. And, seeing that no concern about character or culture curbed the eloquence of Whig advocates of Jewish emancipation, we find the wildest nonsense talked in support of the step.
Macaulay, writing in 1829, said: "If there is any class of people who are not interested, or who do not think themselves interested, in the security of property and the maintenance of order, that class ought to have no share of the powers which exist for the purpose of securing property and maintaining order. But why a man should be less fit to exercise those powers because he wears a beard, because he does not eat ham, because he goes to the synagogue on Saturdays instead of to the Church on Sundays, we cannot conceive." 1
No, Macaulay certainly could not "conceive". A man who thinks that the whole question is one of maintaining order and securing property could not possibly conceive anything that was at all valuable.
Again he wrote: "The points of difference between Christianity and Judaism have very much to do with a man's fitness to be a bishop or a rabbi. But they have no more to do with his fitness to be a magistrate, a legislator, or a minister of finance, than with his fitness to be a cobbler. Nobody ever thought of compelling cobblers to make any declaration on the true faith of a Christian. . . . On nine hundred and ninety-nine questions out of a thousand, on all ques-
1 Statement of the Civil Disabilities and Privations affecting Jews in England (London, 1829).
Between the Jews and the English, it is not so much a matter of a difference of religion as a difference of temperament and cultural gifts. Both may be
1 Op. cit.
2 The fact that his contemporary, De Quincey, a much more profound and able writer, never achieved anything like the same success, is a significant comment not only on nineteenth century literary fame, but also upon nineteenth century criticism.
3 When, however, a man is allowed to make the remark about Charles I, which Macaulay made in the Edinburgh Review of December, 1831 (see my comment on this in my Defence of Aristocracy, p. 280), without losing his reputation as a sane writer, everything is possible.
The Earls of Malmesbury and Winchelsea, and the Marquess of Westmeath, in opposing the Bill, retorted by emphasising the arguments drawn from the need of protecting Christianity. The latter even spoke of the danger of allowing the Jews to ("un-Christianise the Legislature", and so on. 2 No one advanced the view that it is fatal to try to mix characters and cultures. No one seemed to recognise the principle that a nation with individuality is after all a segregated ethnic unit, and that if its identity is to be preserved and its institutions are to retain their type, it must be protected from the influence of other segregated peoples, whose cultural index, so to speak, must be incompatible and therefore undesirably modifying.
Perhaps the Earl of Malmesbury came nearer to a clear view of the issue when he called the attention of his fellow peers to the wretched state of Poland, where the Jews owned all the land, and when he reminded his listeners that the Jews were not hand workers, etc. Here, without rising to the level of stating any general principle, he at least pointed to some of those traits of the Jewish character which indicated that the Jews were temperamentally incompatible with the English; and when he exclaimed: "If they admitted a Jew to full participation of civil rights, why not admit a Mahometan, or a Chinese? Where were they to stop?" 3 he came very near to challenging the Upper House to recognise the principle here laid down.
On the whole, however, although the Bill was
1 Hansard. Vol. XXIV, p. 722.
2 Ibid. p. 731.
3 Ibid. pp. 722723.
It cannot be repeated too often that the alternative was not, as it was constantly made to appear, between kindness and unkindness, generosity and meanness, but between preserving or sacrificing the identity of the nation. If national rulership had always been a matter of brains then certainly the Jews should have been welcome even as legislators, for they are a clever and genial race, rising to great heights of intellectual power, and displaying this power in a higher proportion of individuals than do the English. But national rulership is always much more than a matter of brains. It is a matter also of national taste and character, and it is impossible to overcome this objection. To introduce sentiment into the question was, therefore, to confuse the issue. In politics, as in every other branch of human achievement, the one thing that ought always to be held clearly and steadily before consciousness is the object to be achieved. If our object is to be pleasant, hospitable and open-hearted at all costs, then, by all means, let us do what Lord Malmesbury suggested a hundred years ago, and invite the influence of the Chinaman and the Mahometan at our Council Board. If, however, our object as Conservatives is to preserve our nation in every sense, then obviously our policy must be different. 1
Those who to-day are wont to inveigh against the vicious element in Socialistic and Communistic politics, which consists in opposing an international to a purely
1 As I speak as an avowed friend of Jews, and count many prominent and gifted Jews among my acquaintances, I cannot be suspected of expressing narrow prejudice or resentment in the attitude I assume.
1 The acknowledgment of this fact marks the one bright passage m Macaulay's essay. Speaking of the Jews before their civil disabilities were removed, he says: "In fact the Jews are now not excluded from political power. They possess it; and as long as they are allowed to accumulate large fortunes they must possess it." (Op. cit.)
There is, moreover, this serious view to be taken of the Jewish question a view which, to the best of my knowledge, does not appear to have been stated elsewhere namely, that since the Jew approaches the society in which he resides, more or less as a stranger, he and those he influences will naturally strive to break down as far as possible all the barriers in that society which tend to perpetuate his strangeness, or to bar his access to complete citizenship. This means that the Jew's form of power wealth will find itself opposed to all other kinds of power, such as Gentile aristocratic lineage, Gentile aristocratic character and prestige, hereditary honours of all kinds, and, above all, national solidarity (by this I mean loyalty between the various classes), which are all things that cannot be bought, which have no market price, and which the Jew cannot get possession of, or form part of, no matter how rich he is. Now where the Jew becomes powerful, it will be found that these things tend to fall ever more deeply into disrepute, and the tendency will be to make rank, status, citizenship, nationality and prestige depend entirely upon purchasable symbols, or outward signs whether these happen to be titles, honours, a reputation for charitable or patriotic munificence, valuable old masters, or expensive horses and cars. Hence the inevitable association of Jews in Germany, France, England and elsewhere, with a Liberal plutocratic order of society, standing opposed to a proud here-
1 Those who know my Defence of Aristocracy will remember how, until the death of Charles I, the government took steps to oppose capitalistic exploitation as we now understand it.
Had Conservatives truly and loyally played their part, all this could not have happened. But, to study the controversy from its inception, is to become convinced that they never faced the problem as it should have been faced. Vague feelings of revolt moved them to oppose the admission of the Jew to civil rights. But the deeper question whether it was at all desirable to allow the Jew to influence our character and culture by miscegenation on the one hand, and the power of his taste and temperament on the other, was never, and is still not properly understood. 2
1 In this regard it is interesting to note the active propaganda now being carried on by powerful Liberal Jewish journals in modern democratic Germany against all ideas of race, lineage and heredity. Those who are inclined to think of Disraeli in this connection, and of his many references to the need of aristocracy and race, should bear in mind two things: (a) that he was a single Jew struggling for his own advancement, and that his association with the British Aristocracy was part of his climbing tactics; and (b) that he was, as I have shown, always careful to speak only mystically about race and blood.
2 The figure usually given for the total number of Jews in the
How splendidly the Tories of the late seventeenth century shine in contrast! The Conservative instincts of the nation were then so strong that, when in 1693, a Bill for the Naturalisation of Foreign Protestants was debated in the Commons, Sir John Knight, the Tory Member for Bristol, declared that the Naturalisation Bill would bring "as great affliction on this nation as ever fell upon the Egyptians". It was alleged that by intermarriage they would blot out the English race! 2
Who speaks like this now? Who even thinks like this now? And yet it is only realistic to do so. It was the Tories who took the lead in the anti-alien
United Kingdom is 300,000. But it should be remembered that this is based upon the religious congregations. In addition to these, therefore, we ought to reckon the non-religious Jews, the Jews who do not profess themselves as such, of which there is a vast number, and the half and quarter Jews, who are the outcome of miscegenation. It is not unlikely, therefore, that the total number is something nearer to 1,000,000 than to 300,000.
1 The ancient monarchs who encouraged the influx of alien artisans of particular trades, to found new industries, can at least be excused on the score of expediency. But the uncontrolled inflow of aliens of all kinds up to the Act of 1905, hardly comes under this head.
2 Roylance Kent. (Op. cit. pp. 440441.)
Democratic institutions tend inevitably to destroy the belief in national purity and good stock. Miscegenation might even be regarded as the peculiar vice of democracy. And with the triumph of democratic principles throughout the nineteenth century, it was natural that national pride and the jealousy of the foreigner should decline. Nevertheless, this did not excuse the Conservative for joining in the general stampede towards disintegration and confusion, and the Acts of 1844 and 1870, both Tory in their origin, 2 reveal the extent to which the feelings of the party towards the foreigner had changed in under two centuries.
It may be argued that these measures meant little; that, indeed, the actual privilege of easy naturalisation did not contribute much towards either increasing the number, or multiplying the evil consequences of the foreigner in England. This is probably true. The
1 Op. cit. p. 446.
2 The Naturalization Act of 1870 was passed by a Liberal administration, but the Commission which led to it was appointed in 1868, and it was the result of a pledge made to the United States by a Tory government.
Needless to say that, in the debates on the Naturalisation Bill, both in the Commons and the Lords, not a sign of the old Tory spirit was manifested. And, at the time of the Second Reading of the Bill in the Commons on April 25th, 1870, no mention was made of ethnic difficulties.
That the laxity and indifference which these debates reveal were unwise, may be seen from many recent developments in the nation; and if the working population ever recognise the crime that was committed against their character, their peace, and their chance of employment, by the ruthless manner in which their ranks were allowed to be swelled by immigrants from every quarter of Europe during the nineteenth century, they must be forgiven if they feel a very bitter grudge indeed against that party whose chief responsibility was their guidance and protection. Seeing that I speak as a grandson of one of the very aliens who were naturalised under the Act of 1870, I can hardly be suspected of venting any private or personal prejudice against the foreigner, or against the legislation that facilitated his acquiring the rights of a subject in this country; and when I claim that for over a hundred years the whole attitude
To complain now of the spirit which, in the working classes, has led to the abuse and the inordinate use of the dole, to marvel at the transformation which has made the English masses, once notoriously independent, self-reliant and proud, accept Socialistic and Communistic doctrine, so foreign to the particularist character of the nation, and to bewail the passing of the Nordic element in the country and its replacement by Mediterranean stock, 1 is merely to register our recognition of some of the results which, though partly due to unwise and enslaving legislation, must be very largely ascribed to the indiscriminate flooding of our urban communities by foreign stock of more or less desirable quality. And, in judging the Conservative in history and in practice, we ought not to forget the manner in which he has connived at the perpetration of this crime against his nation's identity.
Enough has been said on the attitude of Conservatives towards Factory Legislation to convince us not only of the belatedness of their action, but also of the credit due to them, or to prominent members of their party, in carrying the measures in this department which ultimately became law. We must, however, remember that the nature of these measures was, in
1 Anthropologists, or merely apologists, have recently been interpreting this phenomenon as the outcome of the fact that the Mediterranean stock of England flourishes best in urban conditions, and that as urbanisation has increased it has favoured the multiplication of this stock at the expense of the Nordic stock. This may be a contributary cause of the decline of the Nordic element in our midst, but wholesale immigration of foreign blood must also have played its part in producing the change.
In saying this it is not intended to detract from the great merits of Lord Shaftesbury and his colleagues in the noble fight they waged to protect the poor victims of capitalistic exploitation from the worst consequences of the system; for a sufficiently high tribute has already been paid to them on this score. It is merely desired to point to a certain grave omission on the part of Conservatives in general in dealing with the whole phenomenon of Industrial growth.
To safeguard the interests of wretched women and children was in the highest degree urgent and necessary, and the Liberal opposition to this legislation is as unpardonable from a national point of view as it is self-revelatory from the standpoint of Liberal politics. But what was equally necessary and urgent was to organise growing industries so as to prevent: (a) functionless ownership; and (b) division between owners and workers, and a difference of interest between them. The Middle Ages, which probably understood everything better than does our Muddle Age (except, of course, mechanism of all kinds), had set an example which it was foolhardy to overlook. Mediæval industries formed corporate wholes, in which masters and workers functioned as units answerable to the State, and guaranteed a public service both qualitatively and quantitatively in return for certain privileges. Without constituting a department of the State in the sense of the Socialist's notion
To refer to the brewing industry alone, for instance, I have shown in my Defence of Aristocracy 1 that it was incumbent upon the brewers in the Middle Ages and later, to keep up an adequate supply of good ale, just as nowadays we insist upon a proper supply of good water. The brewers were not allowed to inconvenience the public by a sudden reduction of their output on the ground, say, that the State-regulated prices did not cover the working expenses, or on any other plea. Public service was expected from the industry as a whole, in return for certain privileges granted by the State, and any dereliction from duty on the part of the industry was severely dealt with.
It is, however, obvious that to render this possible, the industry must function as a unit. The moment there could be any line of cleavage between the workers in the industry on the one hand, and the masters on the other, it would become quite impossible for the State to insist upon service, because the State would have no united corporation with which it could deal, and which was enjoying the privileges granted as a single body.
This is a big subject; but there is no reason why it cannot be briefly outlined here, for the principle is clear enough. 2
It was manifestly reckless and shortsighted on the part of the statesmen of the late eighteenth and the whole of the nineteenth century, to allow the great and leading industries of the country to develop along haphazard and unregulated lines; and this criticism applies more particularly to the various.
1 Page 211.
2 On this whole question, see William Sanderson, Statecraft.
From the beginning some attempt should have been made to model the new activities of the people upon the pattern supplied by the Middle Ages, and, in this attempt, the following guiding principles should have been observed:
(a) To achieve an organisation by means of which service could be guaranteed and quality ensured in return for certain national privileges.
(b) To unify each industry so that the masters and workers constituted a corporate whole.
(c) To secure functional ownership, so that masters and men might retain a human and humane relationship.
And finally, (d) To forestall the mischievous separatist influence of the Trade Unions 1 by demonstrating to the industries and their workers a zeal for their protection, which the workers would then have had no need to supplement or to supply by organisations of their own.
The vices of modern capitalism are not, as the Socialist would have us believe, inherent in capitalism in general; for capitalism has always existed, and the vices manifested in modern capitalistic States are of recent growth. The vices of modern capitalism are due wholly to the fact that it has never been properly controlled, 2 and that the human element in industrial life was rated too cheaply from the start.
To treat working men like a commodity; to let them suffer like other marketable produce all the
1 It should not be forgotten that the growth of the Trade Union movement in England was the result of a need felt, and very justifiably felt, by the workers to protect themselves. If they had been protected from above the need would not have been felt.
2 See on this point my Defence of Aristocracy, Chapter II.
It ought to have been seen from the beginning that any purely mechanistic adjustment of human relations, of master and worker, of consumer and producer, v/as bound to culminate in a deadlock, because human nature is provided with impulses and sentiments which will not tolerate such negativism. This is not romance but realism. It is romantic to suppose that this realistic view can be neglected with any success.
As a Party which had no particular interest in exploiting the masses, and which had no very binding pact with industry, the Conservatives, had they remained loyal to their principles, would have recognised all this not only because it is more humane, but also because it is more prudent, more intelligent to do so. For where there is no human bond there is bound to be inhuman cleavage.
Furthermore, in dealing with every great industry, it should have been seen from the start that the State always had certain very substantial privileges to grant, with which it could barter and bargain. The railways, for instance, afford a singularly illuminating lesson of what is meant by this peculiar position of the State. And to some extent, the State profited by its position in order to secure terms from the
What applies to the railways also applies to other industries and particularly to the mines, where the State's intervention was emphatically indicated.
At the root of the whole madness, however, which characterises the organisation of industry in this country and the rest of Europe merely followed where we led will be found the inhumanity of considering the paid worker in every industry merely as a machine; for, when once this inhumanity is corrected, it is immediately seen that industry must be organised on a more rational basis. The fatal tendency in the Puritan-Whig Liberal tradition to deal with fantastic abstractions as if they were realities, and to organise national life on the basis of meta-
1 Maximum mileage charges, freight charges, and other conditions of service.
It is by no means too late to reorganise industry along the lines suggested. In fact, if Communism and Socialism are to be resisted, it will have to be done. But think how much more difficult the task is now, with our proletariat a class apart, almost an ethnic subdivision, permeated with class hatred, rendered distrustful through the inhumanity with which they have been treated; and our markets so far reduced by foreign imitation of our methods, that the changes which are necessary will have to be effected, as it were in mid-stream, precisely at a moment in our history when the utmost smoothness and serenity of our productive organisation would be needed in order to enable us to hold our own!
It is impossible to absolve the Tory Party of the chief blame for the position in which we now find ourselves, because they are the only party whose principles might have enabled them to save the
1 Mr. Maurice Woods puts it very well when he says: "Liberalism indeed has inherited from the French Encyclopædists the passion for abstract conceptions, for treating life as a proposition in Euclid, and men as if they could be arranged in a geometrical pattern like so many bricks." (Op. cit p. 360.)
1 Speech at the Crystal Palace, June 24th, 1872. (Selected Speeches of the Earl of Beaconsfield. Vol. II, p. 524.)
The fact that the Conservative Party failed to achieve this task aye that it failed to see that this task was necessary, is probably the best evidence we have of its universally alleged lack of intelligence and ideas.