Newer Ideals of Peace, January 5, 1907

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Newer Ideals of Peace

Jane Addams
Hull House, Chicago

{This is the first publication of the opening chapter of Miss Addams's forthcoming book. The concluding chapter will be printed during the month. These studies in the gradual development of the moral substitutes for war have been made in the industrial quarter of a cosmopolitan city where the morality exhibits marked social and international aspects.}1

Copyright. 1907, by The Macmillan Co.

The following pages present the claims of the newer, more aggressive ideals of peace, as over against the older dove-like ideal. These newer ideals are active and dynamic, and it is believed that if their forces were made really operative upon society, they would, in the end, quite as a natural process, do away with war. The older ideals have required fostering and recruiting, and have been held and promulgated on the basis of a creed. Their propaganda has been carried forward during the last century in nearly all civilized countries by a small body of men who have never ceased to cry out against war and its iniquities and who have preached the doctrines of peace along two great lines. The first has been the appeal to the higher imaginative pity, as it is found in the modern, moralized man. This line has been most effectively followed by two Russians, Count Tolstoy in his earlier writings and [Vereshchagin] in his paintings. With his relentless power of reducing all life to personal experience Count Tolstoy drags us through the campaign of the common soldier in its sordidness and meanness and constant sense of perplexity. We see nothing of the glories we have associated with warfare, but learn of it as it appears to the untutored of his superior to suffer hunger, cold, and death for issues which he does not understand, which, indeed, can have no moral significance for him. [Vereshchagin] covers his canvas with thousands of wretched wounded and neglected dead, with the waste, cruelty, and squalor of war, until he forces us to question whether a moral issue can ever be subserved by such brutal methods.

High and searching as is the preaching of these two great Russians who hold their art of no account save as it serves moral ends, it is still the appeal of dogma, and may be reduced to a command to cease from evil. And when this same line of appeal is presented by less gifted men, it often results in mere sentimentality, totally unenforced by a call to righteousness.

The second line followed by the advocates of peace in all countries has been the appeal to the sense of prudence, and this again has found its ablest exponent in a Russian subject, the economist and banker, Jean de Bloch. He sets forth the cost of warfare with pitiless accuracy, and demonstrates that even the present armed peace is so costly that the burdens of it threaten social revolution in almost every country in Europe. Long before the reader reaches the end of de Bloch's elaborate computation he is ready to cry out on the inanity of the proposition that the only way to secure eternal peace is to waste so much valuable energy and treasure in preparing for war that war becomes impossible. Certainly no method could be devised which is more cumbersome, more roundabout, more extravagant, than that illustrated by the reductio ad absurdum of the peace-secured-by-the-preparation-for-war theory. This appeal to prudence was constantly emphasized at the first Hague conference and was shortly afterward demonstrated by Great Britain when she went to war in South Africa, where she was fined one hundred million pounds and lost ten thousand lives. The fact that Russia also, and the very czar who invited the conference, disregarded the conclusions of The Hague tribunal, makes this line of appeal, at least for the moment, seem impotent to influence [page 2] empires which command enormous resources and which lodge the power of expenditure in officials who have nothing to do with accumulating the treasure they vote to expend.

Although it would be the height of folly for responsible statesmen to ignore the sane methods of international discussion and concession suggested by the Interparliamentary Union for International Arbitration and by the Institute of International Law, nevertheless universal peace, viewed from the point of the world's sovereignty or of the council of nations, is discouraging even when stated by the most ardent advocate of the peace society. It is quite possible that we are making the same mistake which the old annalists of history made when they never failed to chronicle the wars and calamities which harassed their contemporaries, although, while the few indulged in fighting, the mass of them peacefully prosecuted their daily toil and followed their own conceptions of kindliness and equity. An English writer[2] has recently bidden us to look at the actual state of affairs existing at the present moment. He says:

Universal and permanent peace may be a vision; but the gradual change whereby war, as a normal state of international relations, has given place to peace as the normal state, is no vision, but an actual process of history palpably forwarded in our own day by the development of international law and of morals, and voluntary arbitration based thereon.

He insists that it is the function of international lawyers merely to give coherent expression to the best principles which the common moral sense of civilized governments recognizes; in other words, that international law within the nation, a formal expression of custom resting on the sense of a reciprocal restraint which has been found to be necessary for the common good.

Assuming that the two lines of appeal -- the one to sensibility and the other to prudence -- will persist, and that the international lawyers, in spite of fact that they have no court before which to plead and no executive to enforce their findings, will continue to formulate into codes the growing moral sense of the nations, the writer hopes not only to make clear the contention that these forces within society are so dynamic and vigorous that the impulses to war seem by comparison cumbersome and mechanical, but also to point out the development of those newer social forces which it is believed will at last prove a "sovereign intervention" by extinguishing the possibility of battle at its very source.

Primitive Dynamics of the Newer Peace. It is difficult to formulate the newer, dynamic peace, embodying the later humanism, as over against the old dogmatic peace. The word "non-resistance" is misleading, because it is much too feeble and inadequate. It suggests passivity, the goody-goody attitude of ineffectiveness. The words "overcoming," "substituting," "re-creating," "readjusting moral values," "forming new centers of spiritual energy," carry much more of the meaning implied. For it is not merely the desire for a conscience at rest, for a sense of justice no longer outraged, that would pull us into new paths where there would be no more war nor preparations for war. There are still more strenuous forces at work reaching down to impulses and experiences as primitive and profound as are those of struggle itself. That "ancient kindliness which sat beside the cradle of the race," and which is ever ready to assert itself against ambition and greed and the desire for achievement, is manifesting itself now with unusual force, and for the first time presents international aspects.

Moralists agree that it is not so much by the teaching of moral theorems that virtue is to be promoted as by the direct expression of social sentiments and by the cultivation of practical habits. They agree that in the progress of society sentiments and opinions have come first, then habits of action, and lastly moral codes and institutions. Little is gained by creating the latter prematurely, but much may be accomplished by the utilization of human interests and affections. The advocates of peace would find both the appeals to Pity and Prudence totally unnecessary [page 3], could they utilize the cosmopolitan interest in human affairs with the resultant social sympathy which at the present moment is developing among all the nations of the earth.

The Tribe and Cosmopolitanism. From this standpoint the advocates of the newer Ideals of Peace would have little to do but to insist that the social point of view be kept paramount, realizing at the same time that the social sentiments are as blind as the egotistic sentiments and must be enlightened, disciplined and directed by the fullest knowledge. The modern students of human morality have told us that primitive man, by the very necessities of his hard struggle for life, came at last to identify his own existence with that of his tribe. Tribal life then made room within itself for the development of that compassion which is the first step towards sensibility and higher moral sentiment.

If we accept this statement then we must assume that the new social morality, which we so sadly need, will of necessity have its origin in the social affections -- we must search in the dim borderland between compassion and morality for the beginnings of that cosmopolitan affection, as it is prematurely called.

The life of the tribal man inevitably divided into two sets of actions, which appeared under two different ethical aspects: the relation within the tribe and the relation with outsiders, the double conception of morality maintaining itself until now. But the tribal law differed no more widely from inter-tribal law than our common law does from our international law. Until society manages to combine the two we shall make no headway toward the newer ideals of peace.

If we would institute an intelligent search for the social conditions which make possible this combination we should naturally seek for them in the poorer quarters of a cosmopolitan city where we have, as nowhere else, the conditions for breaking into this double development; for making a fresh start, as it were, toward a synthesis upon a higher moral line which shall include both. There is every opportunity and necessity for compassion and kindliness such as the tribe itself afforded, and there is in addition, because of the many nationalities which are gathered there from all parts of the world, the opportunity and necessity for breaking through the tribal bond.

Early associations and affections were not based so much on ties of blood as upon that necessity for defense against the hostile world outside, which made the life of every man in a tribe valuable to every other man. The fact of blood was, so to speak, an accident. The moral code grew out of solidarity of emotion and action essential to the life of all.

In the midst of the modern city which, at moments, seems to stand only for the triumph of the strongest, the successful exploitation of the weak, the ruthlessness and hidden crime which follow in the wake of the struggle for existence on its lowest terms, there come daily -- at least to American cities -- accretions of simple people, who carry in their hearts a desire for mere goodness. They regularly deplete their scanty livelihood in response to a primitive pity, and, independent of the religions they have professed, of the wrongs they have suffered, and of the fixed morality they have been taught, they have an unquenchable desire that charity and simple justice shall regulate men's relations. It seems sometimes, to one who knows them, that they continually seek for an outlet for more kindliness, and that they are not only willing and eager to do a favor for a friend, but that their kindheartedness lies in ambush, as it were, for a chance to incorporate itself in our larger relations, and that they persistently expect it shall be given some form of governmental expression. This is doubtless due partly to the fact that emotional pity and kindness are always found in greatest degree among the unsuccessful. We are told that unsuccessful struggle breeds emotion, not strength; that the hard-pressed races are the emotional races; and that wherever struggle has long prevailed emotion becomes the dominant force in fixing social relations. Is it surprising, therefore, that among this huge mass of the unsuccessful, to be found in certain quarters of the modern city, we should have the "medium" [page 4] in which the first growth of the new compassion is taking place?

Nascent Social-Morality in the Modern City. When looked at too closely, this nascent morality disappears, and one can count over only a thousand kindly acts and neighborly offices. But when mediated upon in the whole, there at once emerge again those vast and dominant suggestions of a new peace and holiness. It would seem as if our final help and healing were about to issue forth from broken human nature itself, out of the pathetic striving of ordinary men, who make up the common substance of life; from those who have been driven by economic pressure or governmental oppression out of a score of nations.

These various peoples who are gathered together in the immigrant quarters of a cosmopolitan city, worship goodness for its own value, and do not associate it with success any more than they associate success with themselves; they literally "serve God for nought." If we would adduce evidence that we are emerging from a period of industrialism into a period of humanitarianism, it is to such quarters that we must betake ourselves. These are the places in which it is easiest to study the newer manifestations of government, in which personal welfare is considered a legitimate object; for a new history of government begins with an attempt to make life possible and human in large cities, in those crowded quarters which exhibit such an undoubted tendency to barbarism and degeneracy when the better human qualities are not nourished. Public baths and gymnasiums, parks and libraries, are provided first for those who are without the security for bare subsistence, and it does not seem strange to them that it should be so. Such a community is made up of men who will continue to dream of Utopian governments until the democratic government about them expresses kindliness with protection. Such men will continue to rely upon neighborly friendliness until organized charity is able to identify impulsive pity with well-considered relief. They will naively long for an education for their children that will fit them to earn money until public education shall come to consider industrial efficiency. If we once admit the dynamic character of human progress, then it is easy to understand why the crowded city quarters become focal points of that progress. As their hopes and dreams are a prophecy of the future development in city government, in charity, in education, so their daily lives are a forecast of coming international relations.

[3]Our attention has lately been drawn to the fact that it is logical that the most vigorous efforts in governmental reform, as well as the most generous experiments in ministering to social needs, have come from the larger cities and that it is inevitable that they should be [today] "the centers of radicalism," as they have been traditionally the "cradles of liberty."

A deeper and more thorough-going unity is required in a community made up of highly differentiated units than in a more settled and stratified one, and it may be logical that we should find in this commingling of many peoples a certain balance and concord of opposing and contending forces, a gravitation toward the universal. Because of their difference in all external matters, in all of the nonessentials of life, the people in a cosmopolitan city are forced to found their community of interests upon the basic and essential likenesses of their common human nature; for, after all, the things that make men alike are stronger and more primitive than the things that separate them. It is natural that this synthesis of the varying nations should be made first at the points of the greatest congestion, quite as we find that selfishness is first curbed and social feeling created at the points where the conflict of individual interests is sharpest. One dares not grow too certain as to the wells of moral healing which lie under the surface of the sullen work-driven life which the industrial quarters of the modern city present, and which fascinate us by their mere size and diversity, as does the city itself; but certain it is, that these quarters continually confound us by their manifestations of altruism. It may be that we are surprised [page 5] simply because we fail to comprehend that the individual, under such pressure, must shape his life with some reference to the demands of social justice, not only to avoid crushing the little folk about him, but in order to save himself from death by crushing; that it is an instance of the irresistible coalescing of the altruistic and egoistic impulse which is the strength of social morality. We are often told that men under this pressure of life become calloused and cynical, whereas anyone who lives with them knows that they are sentimental and compassionate.

It is possible that we shall be saved from warfare by the "fighting rabble" itself, by the "quarrelsome mob" turned into kindly citizens of the world through the pressure of a cosmopolitan neighborhood. It is not that they are shouting for peace -- on the contrary, if they shout at all, they continue to shout for war -- but that they are really attaining cosmopolitan relations through daily experience. They will probably believe for a long time that war is noble and necessary both to engender and cherish patriotism; and yet all of the time, below their shouting, they are living in the kingdom of human kindness. They are laying the simple and inevitable foundations for an international order as the foundations of tribal and national morality have already been laid. They are developing the only sort of patriotism consistent with the intermingling of the nations; for the citizens of a cosmopolitan quarter find an insuperable difficulty when they attempt to hem in their conception of patriotism either to the "old country" or to their adopted one. There arises the hope that when this newer patriotism becomes large enough, it will overcome arbitrary boundaries and soak up the notion of nationalism. We may then give up war, because we shall find it as difficult to make war upon a nation at the other side of the globe as upon our next-door neighbor.

The Spiritual Value of the Humbler Fraternalism. These humble harbingers of the newer ideals of peace, venturing themselves upon a larger relationship, are most touching. And while the success of their efforts can never be guaranteed or spoken of too confidently, they stir us with a strange hope, as if new vistas of life were opening before us -- vistas not illuminated with the glare of war, but with a mellowed glow of their own. These paths are seen distinctly only as we ascend to a more enveloping point of view and obtain a larger and bulkier sense of the growing sentiment which rejects the old and negative bonds of discipline and coercion and insists upon vital and fraternal relationship, subordinating the lower to the higher. To make this hope valid and intelligible is indeed the task before these humble brethren of ours and of those who would help them. They encourage us to hope for the discovery of a new vital relation -- that of the individual to the race -- which may lay the foundation for a new religious bond adequate to the modern situation; and we almost come to believe that such a foundation is, in fact, being laid now -- not in speculation, but in action.

That which secured for the early Hebrew shepherd his health, his peace of mind, and his sense of connection with the Unseen, became the basis for the most wonderful and widespread religion the world has ever known. Perhaps, at this moment, we need to find that which will secure the health, the peace of mind, and opportunity for normal occupation and spiritual growth to the humblest industrial worker, as the foundation for a rational conduct of life adapted to an industrial and cosmopolitan era.

Even now we only dimly comprehend the strength and irresistible power of those "universal and imperious ideals which are formed in the depths of anonymous life," and which the people insist shall come to realization, not because they have been tested by logic or history, but because the mass of men are eager that they should be tried as a living experience.

According to our different methods of viewing society, we express this newer ideal which is after all so old as to have been engendered in the tribe itself. He who makes the study of society a mere corollary of biology, speaks of the "theory of the unspecialized," that the simple cell develops new characteristics when [page 6] new tissue is needed, while the more highly developed one does not; he who views society from the economic standpoint and finds hope only in a changed industrial order, talks of the "man at the bottom of society," of the proletarian who shall eventually come into his own; he who believes that a wiser and a saner education will cure our social ill, speaks ever and again of "the wisdom of the little child" and of the necessity to reveal and explore his capacity; while he who keeps close to the historic deductions upon which the study of society is chiefly founded uses the old religious phrase, "the counsel of imperfection," and bids us concern ourselves with "the least of these."

The French have a phrase l'imperieuse bonté by which they designate those impulses towards compassionate conduct which will not be denied, because they are as imperative in their demand for expression as is the impulse to make music or to soften life by poesy and decoration. According to this definition, St. Francis was a genius in exactly the same sense as was Dante or Raphael, and he revealed, quite as they did, possibilities and reaches of the human soul hitherto unsuspected. This genius for goodness has in the past largely expressed itself through individuals and groups, but it may be that we are approaching a period which shall give a collective expression, and shall unite into one all those private and parochial efforts. It would be no more strange than was that marvelous coming together of the artists and the people in the thirteenth century which resulted in the building of the Gothic cathedrals. We may be waiting for a religious enthusiasm, for a divine fire to fuse together the partial and feeble efforts at "doing good" into a transfigured whole which shall take on international proportions as naturally as the cathedrals towered into unheard-of heights. The Gothic cathedrals were glorious beyond the dreams of artists, notwithstanding that they were built by unknown men, or rather by so many men that it was a matter of indifference to record their names. Could we compare the present humanitarian efforts to the building of a spiritual cathedral, it would seem that the gargoyles had been made first, that the ground is now strewn with efforts to "do good" which have developed a diabolical capacity for doing harm. But even these may fall into place. The old cathedral-builders fearlessly portrayed all of life, its inveterate tendency to deride as well as to bless; its trickery as well as its beauty. Their art was catholic enough to portray all, and the cathedral was huge enough to mellow all they portrayed into a flowing and inspired whole.

The Common Man and the Internationalism of Good Will. At the present moment it requires the philosopher to unify these spiritual efforts of the common man into the internationalism of good will, as in the past it was natural that the philosophers, the men who looked at life as a whole, should have been the first to have sighed for negative peace which they declared would be "eternal."

Speculative writers, such as Kant, Bentham, and Buckle, long ago pointed out that the subsidence of war was inevitable as society progressed. They contended that every stage of human progress is marked by a further curtailment of brute force, a limitation of the area in which it is permitted. At the bottom is the small savage community in a perpetual state of warfare; at the top an orderly society stimulated and controlled by recognized ideals of social justice. In proportion as the savage society comes under the dominion of a common moral consciousness, it moves up, and in proportion as the civilized society reverts to the use of brute force, it goes down. Reversion to that brute struggle may at any moment cost the destruction of the painfully acquired bonds of equity, the ties of mutual principle, which are wrought with such effort and loosed with such ease. But these earlier philosophers could not possibly have foreseen the tremendous growth of industry and commerce with their inevitable cosmopolitanism which has so recently taken place. Nor without knowledge of this could they possibly have prognosticated the forward leap, the aggressive character which the concern for human welfare has latterly evinced. [page 7]

The speculative writers among our contemporaries are naturally the only ones who formulate this new development, or rather bid us heed its presence among us. An American philosopher[4] has lately reminded us of the need to "discover in the social realm the moral equivalent for war -- something heroic that will speak to men as universally as war has done, and yet will be as compatible with their spiritual natures as war has proved itself to be incompatible." It may be true that we are even now discovering these moral substitutes, although we find it so difficult to formulate them. Perhaps our very hope that these substitutes may be discovered has become the custodian of a secret change that is going on all about us. We care less each day for the heroism connected with warfare and destruction, and constantly admire more that which pertains to labor and the nourishing of human life. The new heroism manifests itself at the present moment in a universal determination to abolish poverty and disease, a manifestation so widespread that it may be justly called international.

In illustration of this new determination one immediately thinks of the international effort to rid the face of the earth of tuberculosis, in which Germany, Italy, France, England and America are engaged with such enthusiasm. This movement has its international congresses, its discoverers and veterans, also its decorations and rewards for bravery. Its discipline is severe; it requires self-control, endurance, self-sacrifice and constant watchfulness. Its leaders devote hours to careful teaching and demonstration, they reclaim acres of bad houses and make over the food supply of huge cities. One could instance the determination to do away with neglected old age, which finds expression in the old age pension acts of Germany and Australia, in the state savings banks of Belgium and France, in the enormous number of mutual benefit societies in England and America. In such undertakings as these, with their spontaneous and universal manifestations, are we beginning to see the first timid forward reach of one of those instinctive movements which carry onward the progressive goodness of the race.

Virile Good Will as a World-Wide Process. It is possible that this substitution of nurture for warfare is analogous to that world-wide effort to put a limit to revenge which one nation after another essayed as each reached a certain stage of development. To compel the avenger to accept blood-money in lieu of the blood of his enemy may have been but a short step in morals, but at least it destroyed the stimulus to further shedding of blood which each avenged death had afforded, and it laid the foundations for court adjudications. The newer humanitarianism is more aggressive and substitutes emotional stimuli as well as codes of conduct. We may predict that each nation quite as a natural process will reach the moment when virile good-will will be substituted for the spirit of warfare. The process of extinguishing war, however, compared to the limiting of revenge, will be amazingly accelerated. Owing to the modern conditions of intercourse, each nation will respond not to an isolated impulse, but will be caught in the current of a world-wide process.

We are much too timid and apologetic in regard to this newer humanitarianism, and do not yet realize what it may do for us in the way of courage and endurance. We continue to defend war on the ground that it stirs the nobler blood and the higher imagination of the nation, and thus frees it from moral stagnation and the bonds of commercialism. We do not see that this is to borrow our virtues from a former age and to fail to utilize our own. We find ourselves in this plight because our modern morality has lacked [fiber,] because our humanitarianism has been much too soft and literary, and has given itself over to unreal and high-sounding phrases. It appears that our only hope for a genuine adjustment of our morality and courage to our present social and industrial developments lies in a patient effort to work it out by daily experience. We must be willing to surrender [page 8] ourselves to those ideals of the humble, which all religious teachers unite in declaring to be the foundations of a sincere moral life.

Following the clue afforded by these newer ideals through our daily experience in the modern city, it may be found that certain survivals of militarism in municipal government are responsible for much of the failure in the working of democratic institutions. We may discover that the survivals of warfare in the labor movement and all the other dangers of class morality rest largely upon an appeal to loyalties which are essentially a survival of the virtues of a warlike period. The more aggressive aspects of the newer humanitarianism may be traced in the movement for social amelioration and in the protective legislation which regards the weakest citizen as a valuable asset. The same spirit which protests against the social waste of child labor also demands that the traditional activity of woman shall be utilized in civic life. When the state protects its civic resources, as it formerly defended its citizens in time of war, industrialism versus militarism comes to be nurture versus conquest. In order to trace the displacement of the military ideals of patriotism by those of a rising concern for human welfare, we must take an accounting between those forms of governmental machinery and social organization which are the historic outgrowth of conquest and repression, and the newer forms arising in their midst which embody the social energy instantly recognizable as contemporaneous with our sincerest moral life. To follow this newer humanitarianism even through its obvious manifestations requires at the very outset a definite abandonment of the eighteenth century philosophy upon which so much of our present democratic theory and philanthropic activity depends. It is necessary from the very beginning to substitute the scientific method of research for the a priori method of the school men, if we would deal with real people and obtain a sense of participation with our fellows. The eighteenth century humanitarian hotly insisted upon "the rights of man," but he loved the people without really knowing them, which is by no means an impossible achievement. "The love of those whom a man does not know is quite as elemental a sentiment as the love of those whom a man does know," but with this difference, that he shuts himself away from the opportunity of being caught and carried forward in the stream of their hopes and aspirations, a bigger and warmer current than he dreams of. The eighteenth century humanitarian substituted his enthusiastic concept of "the natural man" for the warmth which this stream might have given him, and so long as he dealt with political concepts it answered his purpose. But this abstraction breaks down when applied to the people who constantly settle in the industrial quarters of a cosmopolitan city. Mazzini made a most significant step between the eighteenth century morality and our own by appealing beyond "the rights of man" to the "duties to humanity;" but although an impassioned democrat, he was still a moralist of the earlier type. He realized with them that the appeal to humanity would evoke a finer and deeper response than that to patriotism or to any sectional morality; but he shared the eighteenth century tendency to idealization. It remained for the moralist of this generation to dissolve "humanity" into its component parts of men, women, and children and to serve their humblest needs with an enthusiasm which, so far from being dependent upon glamour, can be sustained only by daily knowledge and constant companionship.

It is no easy task to detect and to follow the tiny paths of progress which the unencumbered proletarian, with nothing but his life and capacity for labor, is pointing out for us. These paths lead to a type of government founded upon peace and fellowship as contrasted with restraint and [defense]. They can never be discovered with the eyes of the doctrinaire. From the nature of the case, he who would walk these paths must walk with the poor and oppressed, and can approach them only through affection and understanding. The ideals of militarism would make this impossible.

[1] Newer Ideals of Peace, by Jane Addams. By permission of the Macmillan Company, publishers. Price, $1.25

[2] L. [T]. Hobhouse, Democracy and Reaction, page 197.

[3] The Growth of Cities in the Nineteenth Century. A. F. Weber, page 432.

[4] William James, professor of philosophy at Harvard University.