« VorigeDoorgaan »
difficulty of securing justice in the German Courts, or the reappearance of the infringers under a new name, until from sheer weariness, or reluctance to throw good money after bad, the unequal contest has been abandoned,
Their rapid success in trade has been due in part to excellent organisation—their •Kultur'-and in part to the important fact that their individual efforts have been officially subsidised. Their commerce, like their army, has been supported by the State. Thus the plan has been to attack, in à methodical manner, some industry carried on outside of Germany. Heavy import duties are imposed on the article which they desire to manufacture; bounties are given on exports of the article; freights are reduced on its carriage; and the ships which convey it to foreign countries are subsidised. In course of time this tells; it becomes unprofitable for manufacturers in a free-trade country to compete with a State-aided manufacture; prices fall, and after a struggle, the manufacture is abandoned. There exists at Berlin a council whose duty it is to consider each proposition on its merits; if there is a reasonable prospect of success, the attack is made; naturally, if it is successful, prices rise, and the manufacture is monopolised by Germans.* The reputation of the Germans as honest traders has, in fact, been steadily declining for years, and yet they have acquired an exaggerated sense of their own superiority. This has doubtless led them to believe that all men were their enemies; they have lived in a state of apprehension, tempered by a conviction that their imagined superiority would lead them to come out of any struggle victorious. In a word, they have become Prussianised. The southern races do not like the Prussian arrogance, yet they submit to Prussian domination, and have been infected by Prussian methods and morals.
It is obvious that this is ordinary commercial warfare, and that it is by no means unknown here or in the United States, but there is this difference; with us it is confined to individuals, in Germany it is backed by the whole machinery of the State. It would indeed be extraordinary if the talent which the Germans have
* This was pointed out by the writer in 1903, and is reported in the Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry for that year.
expended on the organisation of their army had not been also devoted to the organisation of their industries on a similar plan. It remains to be seen whether either will find itself in the long run justified by success.
Much as there is to admire in the German educational system, it is doubtful whether it has not been carried so far as to destroy whatever originality has existed in the Teutonic race; but we give two examples. A young Swede, who had spent a year in touring all over the globe, remarked, in conversation with me, on the fact that, wherever he went, he found English or Americans at the head of all important undertakings. He expressed himself as doubtful whether the countries of the European continent were not over-educating their children, and making of them merely well-trained machines, incapable of striking out new lines. An American acquaintance, who possessed a large electrical factory at Berlin, remarked some years ago that he was unable to employ German foremen; he said that Germans, owing to their obedience and method, make admirable workmen; but, after trial, he had to import American foremen, on account of their hustle,' their sharpness, and their keenness; and this in spite of the necessity for paying them nearly double the wages which the Germans received.
To revert to the thesis at the beginning of this article: -it is open to argument whether human progress is best achieved by the sum of individual efforts, or whether it can be hastened by socialism or by Kultur.' This, at all events, is certain, that the Allies will fight to the bitter end to avoid being subjected to domination by the German idea of the means for regenerating the world. This resolve has been enormously strengthened by the ruthless methods which have been adopted by the German Army Council in enforcing its demands on the Allied countries, and by their utter disregard for truth, honour, and uprightness. Knowing what we now do, it is manifest that conquest by Germany would involve the world in poverty and misery; it would destroy all ideals of justice and righteousness; and it would, even if carried out humanely, result in a ghastly failure.
It is not to be supposed that, even after the military power of Germany has been destroyed, they will abandon their unfair methods of attacking the commerce of other
nations. They will endeavour to undersell their competitors, regardless of the morality of the means they employ to secure their markets. If we are to oppose such an attack successfully, we have two alternatives-to copy their methods, or to refuse to deal with Germans. Perhaps these alternatives are not exclusive, for there are many things in their methods which we might with advantage copy; for instance, their skilled staffs, their widely extended agencies, and their careful organisation, not merely of any one industry, but of all allied industries. And it would perhaps be possible to boycott trade conducted on a system which we consider dishonourable or underhand. Time alone will show. But this is a fitting opportunity to consider our position; and by organisation, by co-operation among our manufacturers rather than by competition between them, and by scientific education of our directors and employees, we might do much to forestall the attack which will undoubtedly be made on our commercial position, if, at the end of the war, any prospect of recuperation is left to Germany.
II.-ART AND LITERATURE.
PROBABLY few English people had been prepared, by anything they had formerly learned about Germany, for certain aspects of the German mind and character revealed in eight months of war. They feel now, perhaps, that they ought to have been. They had of late read Nietzsche and Bernhardi ; they had, many of them, heard some of the opinions of Treitschke and Clausewitz; and they had been a little startled by the Kaiser's speech to his soldiery on their departure for Peking, the speech in which he urged them to emulate the ferocity of the Huns against a people who, however guilty they may have been on the occasion which led to this intervention, had certainly suffered much more at the hands of Europe than Europe has ever suffered from them. But all this, it was thought, could not represent the real Germany. There was something about these utterances and ideas
so fantastic in its inhumanity, so raw in its aggressiveness, that it simply could not be reconciled with what one knew of this friendly, home-loving people, with their simple social life, their flourishing industries, their love for good music, good plays and good living. And now we begin to wonder whether we ought not to have known better. In its imaginative literature and in its plastic arts, a nation expresses most unconsciously and therefore most truly its general conceptions of life. What should these have told us about Germany? What have been the achievements of the Kultur' on which Germans pride themselves so highly?
In Kultur,' be it understood, I do not intend to include the applications of scientific discovery. A people might be essentially barbarians, and yet be equipped with every device for the attainment of physical comfort and convenience which the mastery of material forces can put into their hands. Again, a people can be highly cultured, and yet, as we see in many parts of India and until recently in Japan, remain almost entirely strangers to the scientific developments which have been so great a factor in the European type of civilisation for the past hundred years. The Germans are not so cultured a people as the Japanese, perhaps on the whole no nation ever has been; but in the application of science, intelligence and method to industry, commerce and social organisation, it is idle to deny that they lead the world. But these things are not in themselves culture. Culture is a sense of the relations, the proportions, the deeper and more permanent values of things; and that Germans, in the intense cultivation of science and method, have missed a great deal that true culture would have valued, is plain to everyone outside Germany, and indeed to many Germans also. One of these things is freedom. Every Englishman who has lived in Germany for any length of time feels a vague sense of uneasiness in his surroundings. He finds everything foreseen and arranged to a degree which produces in a people accustomed to shape life for themselves a reaction, which according to one's temperament may be humorous or indignant, or both. One cannot take a walk in the woods without being led by ingeniously contrived paths to a view-point with its little fenced platform, or to an
artificial pond presided over by an appropriate piece of sculpture. In a railway station one is carefully herded through appointed antechambers into a carriage which, it must be confessed, is a model of comfort and convenience, incomparably superior to anything which one will find in wealthy England. If one walks across a bridge, although there may be hardly another soul on it at the time, the injunction Rechts Gehen' forbids
• one to take which side one likes. The words Nach Vorschrift' confront one at every turn, in all the ways whether of business or of pleasure, and they are meant to be obeyed. At last the Englishman begins to understand that he is in presence of a system-ridden people, and he discovers, if he reflects at all on the subject, that this devotion to the idea of system is the source at once of Germany's immense strength and of her fatal weak
This national trait was noted long ago by Tolstoi, who wrote of one of the characters in his War and Peace': 'Pfuhl was evidently one of those men of one idea who would go to the stake on the assurance they derive from their faith in the infallibility of some principle. Such natures are found among the Germans, who alone are capable of such entire confidence in an abstract idea.' It is really a kind of Vaticanism in the sphere of secular life, and it works there to just the
effect. It is capable of making the kindliest people—and I venture to affirm that the Germans are naturally most kindly--inhumanly cruel, of making an honest people faithless and treacherous, and of rousing in all free peoples an instinctive horror of a sway which on the surface promises, if only you will submit to it, to make everything smooth and easy. Germans themselves did not accept it without a resistance which has never been wholly overcome.
The comparison with Vaticanism is curiously close and very instructive. Just as a Catholic, who may be one of the most estimable and upright of men, feels bound to defend the principle of coercion in matters of religious opinion—that is to say, a war upon the human conscience-because the Church has definitely committed itself to that principle, so we find German Professors, like Eucken, who are reckoned among the chief ethical teachers of the day, defending the flagrant iniquity of