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the principles of freedom


By ☮ soaring eagle ॐ, 2013-02-26

Tthe principles of freedom by terence macswiney .. my great uncle

this is a copy of an ebook i included the link to the ebook at the bottom as well as a wikopedia entry about terence macswiney

terence gave his life for freedom and inspired ghandi and the entire freedom movement

here is the forward and table of contents'

PRINCIPLES OF

FREEDOM

BY

TERENCE MACSWINEY

LATE LORD MAYOR OF CORK

Publisher's Logo

1921


TO

THE SOLDIERS OF FREEDOM

IN EVERY LAND


PREFACE

It was my intention to publish these articles in book form as soon as possible. I had them typed for the purpose. I had no time for revision save to insert in the typed copy words or lines omitted from the original printed matter. I also made an occasional verbal alteration in the original. One article, however, that on "Intellectual Freedom," though written in the series in the place in which it now stands, was not printed with them. It is now published for the first time.

RELIGION

I wish to make a note on the article under this heading to avoid a possible misconception amongst people outside Ireland. In Ireland there is no religious dissension, but there is religious insincerity. English politicians, to serve the end of dividing Ireland, have worked on the religious feelings of the North, suggesting the danger of Catholic ascendancy. There is not now, and there never was, any such danger, but our enemies, by raising the cry, sowed discord in the North, with the aim of destroying Irish unity. It should be borne in mind that when the Republican Standard was first raised in the field in Ireland, in the Rising of 1798, Catholics and Protestants in the North were united in the cause. Belfast was the first home of Republicanism in Ireland. This is the truth of the matter. The present-day cleavage is an unnatural thing created by Ireland's enemies to hold her in subjection and will disappear entirely with political Freedom.

It has had, however, in our day, one unhappy effect, only for a time fortunately, and this is disappearing. I refer to the rise of Hibernianism. The English ruling faction having, for their own political designs, corrupted the Orangemen with power and flattery, enabled them to establish an ascendancy not only over Ulster, but indirectly by their vote over the South. This becoming intolerable, some sincere but misguided Catholics in the North joined the organisation known as THE ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS. This was, in effect, a sort of Catholic Freemasonry to counter the Orange Freemasonry, but like Orangeism, it was a political and not a religious weapon.

Further, as a political weapon, it extended all through Ireland during the last years of the Irish Parliamentary Movement. In Cork, for example, it completely controlled the city life for some years, but the rapid rise of the Republican Movement brought about the equally rapid fall of Hibernianism. At the present moment it has as little influence in the public life of Cork as Sir Edward Carson himself. The great bulk of its one-time members have joined the Republican Movement. This demonstrates clearly that anything in the nature of a sectarian movement is essentially repugnant to the Irish people. As I have pointed out, the Hibernian Order, when created, became at once a political weapon, but Ireland has discarded that, and other such weapons, for those with which she is carving out the destinies of the Republic. For a time, however, Hibernianism created an unnatural atmosphere of sectarian rivalry in Ireland. That has now happily passed away. At the time, however, of the writing of the article on Religion it was at its height, and this fact coloured the writing of the article. On re-reading it and considering the publication of the present work I was inclined to suppress it, but decided that it ought to be included because it bears directly on the evil of materialism in religious bodies, which is a matter of grave concern to every religious community in the world.

T. MacS.


CONTENTS

CHAPTER I THE BASIS OF FREEDOM
CHAPTER II SEPARATION
CHAPTER III MORAL FORCE
CHAPTER IV BROTHERS AND ENEMIES
CHAPTER V THE SECRET OF STRENGTH
CHAPTER VI PRINCIPLE IN ACTION
CHAPTER VII LOYALTY
CHAPTER VIII WOMANHOOD
CHAPTER IX THE FRONTIER
CHAPTER X LITERATURE AND FREEDOM--THE PROPAGANDIST PLAYWRIGHT
CHAPTER XI LITERATURE AND FREEDOM--ART FOR ART'S SAKE
CHAPTER XII RELIGION
CHAPTER XIII INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM
CHAPTER XIV MILITARISM
CHAPTER XV THE EMPIRE
CHAPTER XVI RESISTANCE IN ARMS--FOREWORD
CHAPTER XVII RESISTANCE IN ARMS--THE TRUE MEANING OF LAW
CHAPTER XVIII RESISTANCE IN ARMS--OBJECTIONS
CHAPTER XIX THE BEARNA BAOGHAIL--CONCLUSION

original ebook

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/13132/13132-h/13132-h.htm

wixopedia entry

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terence_MacSwiney

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principles of freedom chapter 19


By ☮ soaring eagle ॐ, 2013-02-26

CHAPTER XIX

THE BEARNA BAOGHAILCONCLUSION

I

But when principles have been proved and objections answered, there are still some last words to say for some who stand apartthe men who held the breach. For, they do stand apart, not in error but in constancy; not in doubt of the truth but its incarnation; not average men of the multitude for whom human laws are made, who must have moral certainty of success, who must have the immediate allegiance of the people. For it is the distinguishing glory of our prophets and our soldiers of the forlorn hope, that the defeats of common men were for them but incentives to further battle; and when they held out against the prejudices of their time, they were not standing in some new conceit, but most often by prophetic insight fighting for a forgotten truth of yesterday, catching in their souls to light them forward, the hidden glory of to-morrow. They knew to be theirs by anticipation the general allegiance without which lesser men cannot proceed. They knew they stood for the Truth, against which nothing can prevail, and if they had to endure struggle, suffering and pain, they had the finer knowledge born of these things, a knowledge to which the best of men ever winthat if it is a good thing to live, it is a good thing also to die. Not that they despised life or lightly threw it away; for none better than they knew its grandeur, none more than they gloried in its beauty, none were so happily full as they of its music; but they knew, too, the value of this deep truth, with the final loss of which Earth must perish: the man who is afraid to die is not fit to live. And the knowledge for them stamped out Earth's oldest fear, winning for life its highest ecstasy. Yes, and when one or more of them had to stand in the darkest generation and endure all penalties to the extreme penalty, they knew for all that they had had the best of life and did not count it a terrible thing if called by a little to anticipate death. They had still the finest appreciation of the finer attributes of comradeship and love; but it is part of the mystery of their happiness and success, that they were ready to go on to the end, not looking for the suffrage of the living nor the monuments of the dead. Yes, and when finally the re-awakened people by their better instincts, their discipline, patriotism and fervour, will have massed into armies, and marched to freedom, they will know in the greatest hour of triumph that the success of their conquering arms was made possible by those who held the breach.

II

When, happily, we can fall back on the eloquence of the world's greatest orator, we turn with gratitude to the greatest tribute ever spoken to the memory of those men to whom the world owes most. Demosthenes, in the finest height of his finest oration, vindicates the men of every age and nation who fight the forlorn hope. He was arraigned by his rival, schines, for having counselled the Athenians to pursue a course that ended in defeat, and he replies thus: "If, then, the results had been foreknown to allnot even then should the Commonwealth have abandoned her design, if she had any regard for glory, or ancestry, or futurity. As it is, she appears to have failed in her enterprise, a thing to which all mankind are liable, if the Deity so wills it." And he asks the Athenians: "Why, had we resigned without a struggle that which our ancestors encountered every danger to win, who would not have spit upon you?" And he asks them further to consider strangers, visiting their City, sunk in such degradation, "especially when in former times our country had never preferred an ignominious security to the battle for honour." And he rises from the thought to this proud boast: "None could at any period of time persuade the Commonwealth to attach herself in secure subjection to the powerful and unjust; through every age has she persevered in a perilous struggle for precedency and honour and glory." And he tells them, appealing to the memory of Themistocles, how they honoured most their ancestors who acted in such a spirit: "Yes; the Athenians of that day looked not for an orator or a general, who might help them to a pleasant servitude: they scorned to live if it could not be with freedom." And he pays them, his listeners, a tribute: "What I declare is, that such principles are your own; I show that before my time such was the spirit of the Commonwealth." From one eloquent height to another he proceeds, till, challenging schines for arraigning him, thus counselling the people, he rises to this great level: "But, never, never can you have done wrong, O Athenians, in undertaking the battle for the freedom and safety of all: I swear it by your forefathersthose that met the peril at Marathon, those that took the field at Plata, those in the sea-fight at Salamis, and those at Artimesium, and many other brave men who repose in the public monuments, all of whom alike, as being worthy of the same honour, the country buried, schines, not only the successful and victorious." We did not need this fine eloquence to assure us of the greatness of our O'Neills and our Tones, our O'Donnells and our Mitchels, but it so quickens the spirit and warms the blood to read it, it so touchesby the admiration won from ancient and modern timesan enduring principle of the human heartthe capacity to appreciate a great deed and rise over every physical defeatthat we know in the persistence of the spirit we shall come to a veritable triumph. Yes; and in such light we turn to read what Ruskin called the greatest inscription ever written, that which Herodotus tells us was raised over the Spartans, who fell at Thermopyl, and which Mitchel's biographer quotes as most fitting to epitomise Mitchel's life: "Stranger, tell thou the Lacedemonians that we are lying here, having obeyed their words." And the biographer of Mitchel is right in holding that he who reads into the significance of these brave lines, reads a message not of defeat but of victory.

III

Yes; and in paying a fitting tribute to those great men who are our exemplars, it would be fitting also, in conclusion, to remember ourselves as the inheritors of a great tradition; and it would well become us not only to show the splendour of the banner that is handed on to us, but to show that this banner we, too, are worthy to bear. For, how often it shall be victorious and how high it shall be planted, will depend on the conception we have of its supreme greatness, the knowledge that it can be fought for in all times and places, the conviction that we may, when least we expect, be challenged to deny it; and that by our bearing we may bring it new credit and glory or drag it low in repute. We do well, I say, to remember these things. For in our time it has grown the fashion to praise the men of former times but to deny their ideal of Independence; and we who live in that ideal, and in it breathe the old spirit, and preach it and fight for it and prophesy for it an ultimate and complete victorywe are young men, foolish and unpractical. And what should be our reply? A reply in keeping with the flag, its history and its destiny. Let them, who deride or pity us, see we despise or pity their standards, and let them know by our workslest by our election they misunderstandthat we are not without ability in a freer time to contest with them the highest placesavoiding the boast, not for an affected sense of modesty but for a saving sense of humour. For in all the vanities of this time that make Life and Literature choke with absurdities, pretensions and humbug, let us have no new folly. Let us with the old high confidence blend the old high courtesy of the Gaedheal. Let us grow big with our cause. Shall we honour the flag we bear by a mean, apologetic front? No! Wherever it is down, lift it; wherever it is challenged, wave it; wherever it is high, salute it; wherever it is victorious, glorify and exult in it. At all times and forever be for it proud, passionate, persistent, jubilant, defiant; stirring hidden memories, kindling old fires, wakening the finer instincts of men, till all are one in the old spirit, the spirit that will not admit defeat, that has been voiced by thousands, that is noblest in Emmet's one line, setting the time for his epitaph: "When my country"not ifbut "when my country takes her place among the nations of the earth." It is no hypothesis; it is a certainty. There have been in every generation, and are in our own, men dull of apprehension and cold of heart, who could not believe this, but we believe it, we live in it: we know it. Yes, we know it, as Emmet knew it, and as it shall be seen to-morrow; and when the historian of to-morrow, seeing it accomplished, will write its history, he will not note the end with surprise. Rather will he marvel at the soul in constancy, rivalling the best traditions of undegenerate Greece and Rome, holding through disasters, persecutions, suffering, and not less through the seductions of milder but meaner times, seeing through all shining clearly the goal: he will record it all, and, still marvelling, come to the issue that dauntless spirit has reached, proud and happy; but he will write of that issueLiberty; Inevitable: in two words to epitomise the history of a people that is without a parallel in the Annals of the World.

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principles of freedom chapter 18


By ☮ soaring eagle ॐ, 2013-02-26

CHAPTER XVIII

RESISTANCE IN ARMSOBJECTIONS

I

Having stated the case for resistance, it will serve us to consider some objections. Many inquiring minds may be made happy by a clear view of the doctrine, till some clever opponent holds them up with remarks on prudence, possibly sensible, or remarks on revolutionists, most probably wild, with, perhaps, the authority of a great name, or unfailing refuge in the concrete. It is curious that while often noticed how men, trying to evade a concrete issue, take refuge in the abstract, it is not noticed that men, trying to avoid acknowledging the truth of some principle, take refuge in the concrete. A living and pressing difficulty, though transient, looms larger than any historical fact or coming danger. Seeing this, we may restore confidence to a baffled mind, by helping it to distinguish the contingent from the permanent. Thus, by disposing of objections, we make our ground secure.

II

To the name of prudence the most imprudent people frequently appeal. Those whose one effort is to evade difficulties, who to cover their weakness plead patience, would be well advised to consider how men passionately in earnest, enraged by these evasions, pour their scorn on patience as a thing to shun. The plea does not succeed; it only for the moment damages the prestige of a great name. Patience is not a virtue of the weak but of the strong. An objector says: "Of course, all this is right in the abstract, but consider the frightful abuses in practice," and some apt replies spring to mind. Dr. Murray, writing on "Mental Reservation," in his Essays, chiefly Theological, speaks thus: "But it is no objection to any principle of morals to say that unscrupulous men will abuse it, or that, if publicly preached to such and such an audience or in such and such circumstances, it will lead to mischief." This is admirable, to which the objector can only give some helpless repetitions. With Balmez, we reply: "But in recommending prudence to the people let us not disguise it under false doctrineslet us beware of calming the exasperation of misfortune by circulating errors subversive of all governments, of all society." (European Civilisation, Chap. 55.) Of men who shrink from investigating such questions, Balmez wrote: "I may be permitted to observe that their prudence is quite thrown away, that their foresight and precaution are of no avail. Whether they investigate these questions or not, they are investigated, agitated and decided, in a manner that we must deplore." (Ibid. Chap. 54.) Take with this Turner on France under the old rgime and the many and serious grievances of the people: "The Church, whose duty it was to inculcate justice and forbearance, was identified, in the minds of the people, with the Monarchy which they feared and detested." (History of Philosophy, Chap. 59.) The moral is that when injustice and evil are rampant, let us have no palliation, no weakness disguising itself as a virtue. What we cannot at once resist, we can always repudiate. To ignore these things is the worst form of imprudencean imprudence which we, for our part at least, take the occasion here heartily to disclaim.

III

There is so much ill-considered use of the word revolutionist, we should bear in mind it is a strictly relative term. If the freedom of a people is overthrown by treachery and violence, and oppression practised on their once thriving land, that is a revolution, and a bad revolution. If, with tyranny enthroned and a land wasting under oppression, the people rise and by their native courage, resource and patience re-establish in their original independence a just government, that is a revolution, and a good revolution. The revolutionist is to be judged by his motives, methods and ends; and, when found true, his insurrection, in the words of Mackintosh, is "an act of public virtue." It is the restoration of, Truth to its place of honour among men.

IV

Balmez mentions Bossuet as apparently one who denies the right here maintained; and we may with profit read some things Bossuet has said in another context, yet which touches closely what is our concern. Writing of Les Empires, thus Bossuet: "Les rvolutions des empires sont rgles par la providence, et servent humilier les princes." This is hardly calculated to deter us from a bid for freedom; and if we go on to read what he has written further under this heading, we get testimony to the hardihood and love of freedom and country that distinguished early Greece and Rome in language of eloquence that might inflame any people to liberty. Of undegenerate Greece, free and invincible: "Mais ce que la Grece avait de plus grand tait une politique ferme et prvoyante, qui savait abandonner, hasarder et dfendre, ce qu'il fallait; et, ce qui est plus grand encore, un courage que l'amour de la libert et celui de la patrie rendaient invincible." Of undegenerate Rome, her liberty: "La libert leur tait donc un trsor qu'ils prferoient toutes les richesses de l'univers." Again: "La maxime fondamentale de la rpublique tait de regarder la libert comme une chose insparable du nom Roman." And her constancy: "Voila de fruit glorieux de la patience Romaine. Des peuples qui s'enhardissaient et se fortifiaient par leurs malheurs avaient bien raison de croire qu'on sauvait tout pourvu qu'on ne perdit pas l'esperance." And again: "Parmi eux, dans les tats les plus tristes, jamais les faibles conseils n'ont t seulement couts." The reading of such a fine tribute to the glory of ancient liberties is not likely to diminish our desire for freedom; rather, to add to the natural stimulus found in our own splendid traditions, the further stimulus of this thought that must whisper to us: "Persevere and conquer, and to-morrow our finest opponent will be our finest panegyrist when the battle has been fought and won."

V

In conclusion, in the concrete this simple fact will suffice: we have established immutable principles; the concrete circumstances are contingent and vary. It is admirably put in the following passage: "The historical and sociological sciences, so carefully cultivated in modern times, have proved to evidence that social conditions vary with the epoch and the country, that they are the resultant of quite a number of fluctuating influences, and that, accordingly, the science of Natural Right should not merely establish immutable principles bearing on the moral end of man, but should likewise deal with the contingent circumstances accompanying the application of those principles." (De Wulf, Scholasticism, Old and New, Part 2, Chap. 2, Sec. 33.) Yes, and if we apply principles to-morrow, it is not with the conditions of to-day we must deal, but "with the contingent circumstances accompanying the application of those principles." Let that be emphasised. The conditions of twenty years ago are vastly changed to-day; and how altered the conditions of to-morrow can be, how astonishing can be the change in the short span of twenty years, let this fact prove. Ireland in '48 was prostrate after a successful starvation and an unsuccessful risingto all appearances this time hopelessly crushed; yet within twenty years another rising was planned that shook English government in Ireland to its foundations. Let us bear in mind this further from De Wulf: "Sociology, understood in the wider and larger sense, is transforming the methods of the science of Natural Right." In view of that transformation he is wise who looks to to-morrow. What De Wulf concludes we may well endorse, when he asks us to take facts as they are brought to light and study "each question on its merits, in the light of these facts and not merely in its present setting but as presented in the pages of history." It can be fairly said of those who have always stood for the separation of Ireland from the British Empire, that they alone have always appealed to historical evidence, have always regarded the conditions of the moment as transient, have always discussed possible future contingencies. The men who temporised were always hypnotised by the conditions of the hour. But in the life-story of a nation stretching over thousands of years, the British occupation is a contingent circumstance, and the immutable principle is the Liberty of the Irish People.

chapter 19

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principles of freedom chapter 17


By ☮ soaring eagle ॐ, 2013-02-26

CHAPTER XVII

RESISTANCE IN ARMSTHE TRUE MEANING OF LAW

I

When we stand up to question false authority we should first make our footing firm by showing we understand true authority and uphold it. Let us be clear then as to the meaning of the word law. It may be defined; an ordinance of reason, the aim of which is the public good and promulgated by the ruling power. Let us cite a few authorities. "A human law bears the character of law so far as it is in conformity with right reason; and in that point of view it is manifestly derived from the Eternal Law." (Aquinas Ethicus, Vol. 1, p. 276.) Writing of laws that are unjust either in respect to end, author or form, St. Thomas says: "Such proceedings are rather acts of violence than laws; because St. Augustine says: 'A law that is not just goes for no law at all.'" (Aquinas Ethicus, Vol. 1, p. 292.) "The fundamental idea of all law," writes Balmez, "is that it be in accordance with reason, that it be an emanation from reason, an application of reason to society" (European Civilisation, Chap. 53). In the same chapter Balmez quotes St. Thomas with approval: "The kingdom is not made for the king, but the king for the kingdom"; and he goes on to the natural inference: "That all governments have been established for the good of society, and that this alone should be the compass to guide those who are in command, whatever be the form of government." It is likewise the view of Mill, in Representative Government, that the well-being of the governed is the sole object of government. It was the view of Plato before the Christian era: his ideal city should be established, "that the whole City might be in the happiest condition." (The Republic, Book 4.) Calderwood writes: "Political Government can be legitimately constructed only on condition of the acknowledgment of natural obligations and rights as inviolable." (Handbook of Modern Philosophy, Applied Ethics, Sec. 4.) Here all schools and all times are in agreement. Till these conditions are fulfilled for us we are at war. When an independent and genuine Irish Government is established we shall yield it a full and hearty allegiance: the law shall then be in repute. We do not stand now to deny the idea of authority, but to say that the wrong people are in authority, the wrong flag is over us.

II

"We must overthrow the arguments that might be employed against us by the advocates of blind submission to any power that happens to be established," writes Balmez, on resistance to De Facto Governments. (European Civilisation, Chap. 55.) We could not be more explicit than the famous Spanish theologian. To such arguments let the following stand out from his long and emphatic reply:"Illegitimate authority is no authority at all; the idea of power involves the idea of right, without which it is mere physical power, that is force." He writes further: "The conqueror, who, by mere force of arms, has subdued a nation, does not thereby acquire a right to its possession; the government, which by gross iniquities has despoiled entire classes of citizens, exacted undue contributions, abolished legitimate rights, cannot justify its acts by the simple fact of its having sufficient strength to execute these iniquities." There is much that is equally clear and definite. What extravagant things can be said on the other side by people in high places we know too well. Balmez in the same book and chapter gives an excellent example and an excellent reply: "Don Felix Amat, Archbishop of Palmyra, in the posthumous work entitled Idea of the Church Militant, makes use of these words: 'Jesus Christ, by His plain and expressive answer, Render to Csar the things that are Csar's, has sufficiently established that the mere fact of a government's existence is sufficient for enforcing the obedience of subjects to it....' His work was forbidden at Rome," is Balmez' expressive comment, and he continues, "and whatever may have been the motives for such a prohibition, we may rest assured that, in the case of a book advocating such doctrines, every man who is jealous of his rights might acquiesce in the decree of the Sacred Congregation." So much for De Facto Government. It is usurpation; by being consummated it does not become legitimate. When its decrees are not resisted, it does not mean we accept them in principlenor can we even pretend to accept thembut that the hour to resist has not yet come. It is the strategy of war.

III

We stand on the ground that the English Government in Ireland is founded in usurpation and as such deny its authority. But if it be argued, assuming it as Ireland's case, that a usurped authority, gradually acquiesced in by the people, ultimately becomes the same as legitimate, the reply is still clear. For ourselves we meet the assumption with a simple denial, appealing to Irish History for evidence that we never acquiesced in the English Usurpation. But to those who are not satisfied with this simple denial, we can point out that even an authority, originally founded legitimately, may be resisted when abusing its power to the ruin of the Commonwealth. We still stand on the ground that the English government is founded in usurpation, but we can dispose of all objections by proving the extremer case. This is the case Dr. Murray, already quoted, discusses. "The question," he writes, "is about resistance to an established and legitimate government which abuses its power." (Essays, Chiefly Theological, Vol. 4.) He continues: "The common opinion of a large number of our theologians, then, is that it is lawful to resist by force, and if necessary to depose, the sovereign ruler or rulers, in the extremethe very extremecase wherein the following conditions are found united:

"1. The tyranny must be excessiveintolerable.

"2. The tyranny must be manifest, manifest to men of good sense and right feeling.

"3. The evils inflicted by the tyrant must be greater than those which would ensue from resisting and deposing him.

"4. There must be no other available way of getting rid of the tyranny except by recurring to the extreme course.

"5. There must be a moral certainty of success.

"6. The revolution must be one conducted or approved by the community at large ... the refusal of a small party in the State to join with the overwhelming mass of their countrymen would not render the resistance of the latter unlawful." (Essays, Chiefly Theological; see also Rickaby, Moral Philosophy, Chap. 8, Sec. 7.)

Some of these conditions are drawn out at much length by Dr. Murray. I give what is outstanding. How easily they could fit Irish conditions must strike anyone. I think it might fairly be said that our leaders generally would, if asked to lay down conditions for a rising, have framed some more stringent than these. It might be said, in truth, of some of them that they seem to wait for more than a moral certainty of success, an absolute certainty, that can never be looked for in war.

IV

When a government through its own iniquity ceases to exist, we must, to establish a new government on a true and just basis, go back to the origin of Civil Authority. No one argues now for the Divine Right of Kings, but in studying the old controversy we get light on the subject of government that is of all time. To the conception that kings held their power immediately from God, "Suarez boldly opposed the thesis of the initial sovereignty of the people; from whose consent, therefore, all civil authority immediately sprang. So also, in opposition to Melanchthon's theory of governmental omnipotence, Suarez a fortiori admitted the right of the people to depose those princes who would have shown themselves unworthy of the trust reposed in them." (De Wulf, History of Medieval Philosophy, Third Edition, p. 495.) Suarez' refutation of the Anglican theory, described by Hallam as clear, brief, and dispassionate, has won general admiration. Hallam quotes him to the discredit of the English divines: "For this power, by its very nature, belongs to no one man but to a multitude of men. This is a certain conclusion, being common to all our authorities, as we find by St. Thomas, by the Civil laws, and by the great canonists and casuists; all of whom agree that the prince has that power of law-giving which the people have given him. And the reason is evident, since all men are born equal, and consequently no one has a political jurisdiction over another, nor any dominion; nor can we give any reason from the nature of the thing why one man should govern another rather than the contrary." (HallamLiterature of Europe, Vol. 3, Chap. 4.) Dr. Murray, in the essay already quoted, speaks of Sir James Mackintosh as the ablest Protestant writer who refuted the Anglican theory, which Mackintosh speaks of as "The extravagance of thus representing obedience as the only duty without an exception." Dr. Murray concludes his own essay on Resistance to the Supreme Civil Power by a long passage from Mackintosh, the weight and wisdom of which he praises. The greater part of the passage is devoted to the difficulties even of success and emphasising the terrible evils of failure. In what has already been written here I have been at pains rather to lay bare all possible evils than to hide them. But when revolt has become necessary and inevitable, then the conclusion of the passage Dr. Murray quotes should be endorsed by all: "An insurrection rendered necessary by oppression, and warranted by a reasonable probability of a happy termination, is an act of public virtue, always environed with so much peril as to merit admiration." Yes, and given the happy termination, the right and responsibility of establishing a new government rest with the body of the people.

V

We come, then, to this conclusion, that government is just only when rightfully established and for the public good; that usurpation not only may but ought to be resisted; that an authority originally legitimate once it becomes habitually tyrannical may be resisted and deposed; and that when from abuse or tyranny a particular government ceases to exist, we have to re-establish a true one. It is sometimes carelessly said, "Liberty comes from anarchy," but this is a very dangerous doctrine. It would be nearer truth to say from anarchy inevitably comes tyranny. Men receive a despot to quell a mob. But when a people, determined and disciplined, resolve to have neither despotism nor anarchy but freedom, then they act in the light of the Natural Law. It is well put in the doctrine of St. Thomas, as given by Turner in his History of Philosophy (Chap. 38): "The redress to which the subjects of a tyrant have a just right must be sought, not by an individual, but by an authority temporarily constituted by the people and acting according to law." Yes, and when wild and foolish people talk hysterically of our defiance of all authority, let us calmly show we best understand the basis of Authoritywhich is Truth, and most highly reverence its presiding spiritwhich is Liberty.

chapter 18

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principles of freedom chapter 16


By ☮ soaring eagle ॐ, 2013-02-26

CHAPTER XVI

RESISTANCE IN ARMSFOREWORD

I

The discussion of freedom leads inevitably to the discussion of an appeal to arms. If proving the truth and justice of a people's claim were sufficient there would be little tyranny in the world, but a tyrannical power is deaf to the appeal of truthit cannot be moved by argument, and must be met by force. The discussion of the ethics of revolt is, then, inevitable.

II

The ubiquitous pseudo-practical man, petulant and critical, will at once arise: "What is the use of discussing arms in Ireland? If anyone wanted to fight it would be impossible, and no one wants to fight. What prevents ye going out to begin?" Such peevish criticism is anything but practical, and one may ignore it; but it suggests the many who would earnestly wish to settle our long war with a swift, conclusive fight, yet who feel it no longer practical. Keeping to the practical issue, we must bear in mind a few things. Though Ireland has often fought at odds, and could do so again, it is not just now a question of Ireland poorly equipped standing up to England invincible. England will never again have such an easy battle. The point now to emphasise is thisby remaining passive and letting ourselves drift we drift into the conflict that involves England. We must fight for her or get clear of her. There can be no neutrality while bound to her; so a military policy is an eminently practical question. Moreover, it is an urgent one: to stand in with England in any danger that threatens her will be at least as dangerous as a bold bid to break away from her. One thing above all, conditions have changed in a startling manner; England is threatened within as without; there are labour complications of all kinds of which no one can foresee the end, while as a result of another complication we find the Prime Minister of England going about as carefully protected as the Czar of Russia.[Footnote: The militant suffragette agitation.] The unrest of the times is apt to be even bewildering. England is not alone in her troublesall the great Powers are likewise; and it is at least as likely for any one of them to be paralysed by an internal war as to be prepared to wage an external one. This stands put clearlywe cannot go away from the turmoil and sit down undisturbed; we must stand in and fight for our own hand or the hand of someone else. Let us prepare and stand for our own. However it be, no one can deny that in all the present upheavals it is at least practical to discuss the ethics of revolt.

III

We can count on a minority who will see wisdom in such a discussion; it must be our aim to make the discussion effective. We must be patient as well as resolute. We are apt to get impatient and by hasty denunciation drive off many who are wavering and may be won. These are held back, perhaps, by some scruple or nervousness, and by a fine breath of the truth and a natural discipline may yet be made our truest soldiers. Emerson, in his address at the dedication of the Soldiers' Monument, Concord, made touching reference in some such in the American Civil War. He told of one youth he knew who feared he was a coward, and yet accustomed himself to danger, by forcing himself to go and meet it. "He enlisted in New York," says Emerson, "went out to the field, and died early." And his comment for us should be eloquent. "It is from this temperament of sensibility that great heroes have been formed." The pains we are at to make men physically fit we must take likewise to make them mentally fit. We are minutely careful in physical training, drill regulations and the rest, which is right, for thus we turn a mob into an army and helplessness into strength. Let us be minutely careful, too, with the untried mindstimid, anxious, sensitive in matters of conscience; like him Emerson spoke of, they may be found yet in the foremost fighting line, but we must have patience in pleading with them. Here above all must we keep our balance, must we come down with sympathy to every particular. It is surely evident that it is essential to give the care we lavish on the body with equal fulness to the mind.

IV

At the heart of the question we will be met by the religious objection to revolt. Here all scruples, timidity, wavering, will concentrate; and here is our chief difficulty to face. The right to war is invariably allowed to independent states. The right to rebel, even with just cause, is not by any means invariably allowed to subject nations. It has been and is denied to us in Ireland. We must answer objectors line by line, leading them, where it serves, step by step to our conclusions; but this is not to make freedom a mere matter of logicit is something more. When it comes to war we shall frequently give, not our promises, but our conclusions. This much must be allowed, however, that, as far as logic will carry, our position must be perfectly sound; yet, be it borne in mind, our cause reaches above mere reasoningmere logic does not enshrine the mysterious touch of fire that is our life. So, when we argue with opponents we undertake to give them as good as or better than they can give, but we stake our cause on the something that is more. On this ground I argue not in general on the right of war, but in particular on the right of revolt; not how it may touch other people elsewhere ignoring how it touches us here in Ireland. A large treatise could be written on the general question, but to avoid seeming academic I will confine myself as far as possible to the side that is our concern. For obvious reasons I propose to speak as to how it affects Catholics, and let them and others know what some Catholic writers of authority have said on the matter. One thing has to be carefully made clear. It is seen in the following quotation from an eminent Catholic authority writing in Ireland in the middle of the last century, Dr. Murray, of Maynooth: "The Church has issued no definition whatever on the questionhas left it open. Many theologians have written on it; the great majority, however (so far as I have been able to examine them), pass it over in silence." (Essays chiefly Theological, vol. 4). This has to be kept in mind. Theologians have written, some on one side and some on the other, but the Church has left it open. I need not labour the point why it is useful to quote Catholic authorities in particular, since in Ireland an army representative of the people would be largely Catholic, and much former difficulty arose from Catholics in Ireland meeting with opposition from some Catholic authorities. It may be seen the position is delicate as well as difficult, and in writing a preliminary note one point should be emphasised. We must not evade a difficulty because it is delicate and dangerous, and we must not temporise. In a physical contest on the field of battle it is allowable to use tactics and strategy, to retreat as well as advance, to have recourse to a ruse as well as open attack; but in matters of principle there can be no tactics, there is one straightforward course to follow, and that course must be found and followed without swerving to the end.

chapter 17

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principles of freedom chapter 15


By ☮ soaring eagle ॐ, 2013-02-26

CHAPTER XV

THE EMPIRE

I

With the immediate promise of Home Rule many strange apologists for the Empire have stepped into the sun. Perhaps it is wellwe may find ourselves soon more directly than heretofore struggling with the Empire. So far the fight has been confused. Imperialists fighting for Home Rule obscured the fact that they were not fighting the Empire. Now Home Rule is likely to come, and it will serve at least the good purpose of clearing the air and setting the issue definitely between the nation and the Empire. We shall have our say for the nation, but as even now many things, false and hypocritical, are being urged on behalf of the Empire, it will serve us to examine the Imperial creed and show its tyranny, cruelty, hypocrisy, and expose the danger of giving it any pretext whatever for aggression. For the Empire, as we know it and deal with it, is a bad thing in itself, and we must not only get free of it and not be again trapped by it, but must rather give hope and encouragement to every nation fighting the same fight all the world over.

II

One candid writer, Machiavelli, has put the Imperial creed into a book, the examination of which willfor those willing to seeclear the air of illusion. Now, we are conscious that defenders of the Empire profess to be shocked by the wickedness of Machiavelli's utterancewe shall hear Macaulay laterbut this shocked attitude won't delude us. Let those who have not read Machiavelli's book, "The Prince," consider carefully the extracts given below and see exactly how they fit the English occupation of Ireland, and understand thoroughly that the Empire is a thing, bad in itself, utterly wicked, to be resisted everywhere, fought without ceasing, renounced with fervour and without qualification, as we have been taught from the cradle to renounce the Devil with all his works and pomps. Consider first the invasion. Machiavelli speaks:"The common method in such cases is this. As soon as a foreign potentate enters into a province those who are weaker or disobliged join themselves with him out of emulation and animosity to those who are above them, insomuch that in respect to those inferior lords no pains are to be omitted that may gain them; and when gained, they will readily and unanimously fall into one mass with the State that is conquered. Only the conqueror is to take special care that they grow not too strong, nor be entrusted with too much authority, and then he can easily with his own forces and their assistance keep down the greatness of his neighbours, and make himself absolute arbiter in that province." Here is the old maxim, "Divide and conquer." To gain an entry some pretence is advisable. Machiavelli speaks with approval of a certain potentate who always made religion a pretence. Having entered a vigorous policy must be pursued. We read"He who usurps the government of any State is to execute and put in practice all the cruelties which he thinks material at once." Cromwell rises before us.

"A prince," says Machiavelli, "is not to regard the scandal of being cruel if thereby he keeps his subjects in their allegiance." "For," he is cautioned, "whoever conquers a free town and does not demolish it commits a great error and may expect to be ruined himself; because whenever the citizens are disposed to revolt they betake themselves, of course, to that blessed name of Liberty, and the laws of their ancestors, which no length of time nor kind usage whatever will be able to eradicate." An alternative to utter destruction is flattery and indulgence. "Men are either to be flattered and indulged or utterly destroyed." We think of the titles and the bribes. Again, "A town that has been anciently free cannot more easily be kept in subjection than by employing its own citizens." We think of the place-hunter, the King's visit, the "loyal" address. To make the conquest secure we read: "When a prince conquers a new State and annexes it as a member to his old, then it is necessary your subjects be disarmed, all but such as appeared for you in the conquest, and they are to be mollified by degrees and brought into such a condition of laziness and effeminacy that in time your whole strength may devolve upon your own natural militia." We think of the Arms Acts and our weakened people. But while one-half is disarmed and the other half bribed, with neither need the conqueror keep faith. We read: "A prince who is wise and prudent cannot, or ought not, to keep his parole, when the keeping of it is to his prejudice and the causes for which he promised removed." This is made very clear to prevent any mistake. "It is of great consequence to disguise your inclination and play the hypocrite well." We think of the Broken Treaty and countless other breaches of faith. It is, of course, well to seem honourable, but Machiavelli cautions: "It is honourable to seem mild, and merciful, and courteous, and religious, and sincere, and indeed to be so, provided your mind be so rectified and prepared, that you can act quite contrary upon occasion." Should anyone hesitate at all this let him hear: "He is not to concern himself if run under the infamy of those vices, without which his dominion was not to be preserved." Thus far the philosophy of Machiavelli. The Imperialist out to "civilise the barbarians" is, of course, shocked by such wickedness; but we are beginning to open our eyes to the wickedness and hypocrisy of both. To us this book reads as if a shrewd observer of the English Occupation in Ireland had noted the attending features and based these principles thereon. We have reason to be grateful to Machiavelli for his exposition. His advice to the prince, in effect, lays bare the marauders of his age and helps us to expose the Empire in our own.

III

There is a lesson to be learnt from the fact that this book of Machiavelli's, written four centuries ago in Italy, is so apt here to-day. We must take this exposition as the creed of Empire and have no truck with the Empire. It may be argued that the old arts will be no longer practised on us. Let the new supporters of the Empire know that by the new alliance they should practise these arts on other people, which would be infamy. We are not going to hold other people down; we are going to encourage them to stand up. If it means a further fight we have plenty of stimulus still. Our oppression has been doubly bitter for having been mean. The tyranny of a strong mind makes us rage, but the tyranny of a mean one is altogether insufferable. The cruelty of a Cromwell can be forgotten more easily than the cant of a Macaulay. When we read certain lines we go into a blaze, and that fire will burn till it has burnt every opposition out. In his essay on Milton, Macaulay having written much bombast on the English Revolution, introduces this characteristic sentiment: "One part of the Empire there was, so unhappily circumstanced, that at that time its misery was necessary to our happiness and its slavery to our freedom." For insolence this would be hard to beat. Let it be noted well. It is the philosophy of the "Predominant Partner." If he had thanked God for having our throats to cut, and cut them with loud gratitude like Cromwell, a later generation would be incensed. But this other attitude is the gall in the cup. Macaulay is, of course, shocked by Machiavelli's "Prince." In his essay on Machiavelli we read: "It is indeed scarcely possible for any person not well acquainted with the history and literature of Italy to read without horror and amazement the celebrated treatise which has brought so much obloquy on the name of Machiavelli. Such a display of wickedness, naked, yet not ashamed, such cool, judicious, scientific atrocity, seemed rather to belong to a fiend than to the most depraved of men." But, later, in the same essay, is a valuable sidelight. He writes of Machiavelli as a man "whose only fault was that, having adopted some of the maxims then generally received, he arranged them most luminously and expressed them more forcibly than any other writer." Here we have the truth, of course not so intended, but evident: Machiavelli's crime is not for the sentiments he entertained but for writing them down luminously and forciblyin other words, for giving the show away.

Think of Macaulay's "horror and amazement," and read this further in the same essay: "Every man who has seen the world knows that nothing is so useless as a general maxim. If it be very moral and very true it may serve for a copy to a charity boy." So the very moral and the very true are not for the statesman but for the charity-boy. This perhaps may be defended as irony; hardly, but even so, in such irony the character appears as plainly as in volumes of solemn rant. To us it stands out clearly as the characteristic attitude of the English Government. The English people are used to it, practise it, and will put up with it; but the Irish people never were, are not now, and never will be used to it; and we won't put up with it. We get calm as old atrocities recede into history, but to repeat the old cant, above all to try and sustain such now, sets all the old fire blazingblazing with a fierceness that will end only with the British connection.

IV

Not many of us in Ireland will be deceived by Macaulay, but there is danger in an occasional note of writers, such as Bernard Shaw and Stuart Mill. Our instinct often saves us by natural repugnance from the hypocrite, when we may be confused by some sentiment of a sincere man, not foreseeing its tendency. When an aggressive power looks for an opening for aggression it first looks for a pretext, and our danger lies in men's readiness to give it the pretext. Such a sentiment as this from Millon "Liberty"gives the required opening: "Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with Barbarians, provided the end be their improvement"; or this from Shaw's preface to the Home Rule edition of "John Bull's Other Island": "I am prepared to Steam-roll Tibet if Tibet persist in refusing me my international rights." Now, it is within our right to enforce a principle within our own territory, but to force it on other people, called for the occasion "barbarians," is quite another thing. Shaw may get wrathful, and genuinely so, over the Denshawai horror, and expose it nakedly and vividly as he did in his first edition of "John Bull's Other Island," Preface for Politicians; but the aggressors are undisturbed as long as he gives them pretexts with his "steam-roll Tibet" phrase. And when he says further that he is prepared to co-operate with France, Italy, Russia, Germany and England in Morocco, Tripoli, Siberia and Africa to civilise these places, not only are his denunciations of Denshawai horrors of no availexcept to draw tears after the eventbut he cannot co-operate in the civilising process without practising the cruelty; and perhaps in their privacy the empire-makers may smile when Shaw writes of Empire with evident earnestness as "a name that every man who has ever felt the sacredness of his own native soil to him, and thus learnt to regard that feeling in other men as something holy and inviolable, spits out of his mouth with enormous contempt." When, further, in his "Representative Government" Mill tells the English peoplea thing about which Shaw has no illusionsthat they are "the power which of all in existence best understands liberty, and, whatever may have been its errors in the past, has attained to more of conscience and moral principle in its dealing with foreigners than any other great nation seems either to conceive as possible or recognise as desirable"they not only go forward to civilise the barbarians by Denshawai horrors, but they do so unctuously in the true Macaulayan style. We feel a natural wrath at all this, not unmingled with amusement and amazement. In studying the question we read much that rouses anger and contempt, but one must laugh out heartily in coming to this gem of Mill's, uttered with all Mill's solemnity: "Place-hunting is a form of ambition to which the English, considered nationally, are almost strangers." When the sincerest expression of the English mind can produce this we need to have our wits about us; and when, as just now, so much nonsense, and dangerous nonsense, is being poured abroad about the Empire, we need to pause, carefully consider all these things, and be on our guard.

V

In conclusion, we may add our own word to the talk of the hourthe politicians on Home Rule. It should raise a smile to hear so often the prophecy that Ireland will be loyal to the Empire when she gets Home Rule. We are surprised that any Irishman could be so foolish, though, no doubt, many Englishmen are so simple as to believe it. History and experience alike deny it. Possibly the Home Rule chiefs realise their active service is now limited to a decade or two, and assume Home Rule may be the limit for that time, and speak only for that time; but at the end of that time our generation will be vigorous and combative, and if we cannot come into our own before then, we shall be ready then. We need say for the moment no more than thisthe limit of the old generation is not the limit of ours. If anyone doubt the further step to take let him consider our history, recent and remote. The old effort to subdue or exterminate us having failed, the new effort to conciliate us began. Minor concessions led to the bigger question of the land. One Land Act led to another till the people came by their own. Home Rule, first to be killed by resolute government, was next to be killed by kindness, and Local Government came. Local Government made Home Rule inevitable; and now Home Rule is at hand and we come to the last step. Anyone who reads the history of Ireland, who understands anything of progress, who can draw any lesson from experience, must realise that the advent of Home Rule marks the beginning of the end.

chapter 16

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principles of freedom chapter 14


By ☮ soaring eagle ॐ, 2013-02-26

CHAPTER XIV

MILITARISM

I

To defend or recover freedom men must be always ready for the appeal to arms. Here is a principle that has been vindicated through all history and needs vindication now. But in our time the question of rightful war has been crossed by the evil of militarism, and in our assertion of the principle, that in the last resort freemen must have recourse to the sword, we find ourselves crossed by the anti-militarist campaign. We must dispose of this confusing element before we can come to the ethics of war. Of the evil of militarism there can be no question, but a careful study of some anti-militaristic literature discloses very different motives for the campaign. I propose to lay some of the motives bare and let the reader judge whether there may not be an insidious plot on foot to make a deal between the big nations to crush the little ones. For this purpose I will consider two books on the question, one by Mr. Norman Angell, "The Great Illusion," and one by M. Jacques Novikow, "War and Its Alleged Benefits." In the work of Mr. Angell the reader will find the suggestion of the deal, while in the work of M. Novikow is given a clear and honest statement of the anti-militarist position, with which we can all heartily agree. Those of us who would assert our freedom should understand the right anti-militarist position, because in its exponents we shall find allies at many points. But with Mr. Angell's book it is otherwise. These points emerge: the basis of morality is self-interest; the Great Powers have nothing to gain by destroying one another, they should agree to police and exploit the territory of the "backward races"; if the statesmen take a different view from the financiers, the financiers can bring pressure to bear on the statesmen by their international organisation; the capitalist has no country. Well, our comment is, the patriot has a country, and when he wakens to the new danger, he may spoil the capitalist dream, and this book of Mr. Angell's may in a sense other than that the author intended be appropriately named "The Great Illusion."

II

The limits of this essay do not admit of detailed examination of the book named. What I propose to do is make characteristic extracts sufficiently full to let the reader form judgment. As we are only concerned for the present with the danger I mention, I take particular notice of Mr. Angell's book, and I refer the reader for further study to the original. But the charge of taking an accidental line from its context cannot be made here, as the extracts are numerous, the tendency of all alike, and more of the same nature can be found. I divide the extracts into three groups, which I name:

1. The Ethics of the Case.

2. The Power of Money.

3. The Deal.

Where italics are used they are mine.

1. THE ETHICS OF THE CASE."The real basis of Social Morality is self-interest." ("The Great Illusion," 3rd Ed., p. 66.) "Have we not abundant evidence, indeed, that the passion of patriotism, as divorced from material interest, is being modified by the pressure of material interest?" (p. 167.) "Piracy was magnificent, doubtless, but it was not business." (Speaking of the old Vikings, p. 245.) "The pacifist propaganda has failed largely because it has not put (and proven) the plea of interest as distinct from the moral plea." (p. 321.)

2. THE POWER OF MONEY."The complexity of modern finance makes New York dependent on London, London upon Paris, Paris upon Berlin, to a greater degree> than has ever yet been the case in history." (p. 47.)

"It would be a miracle if already at this point the whole influence of British Finance were not thrown against the action of the British Government." (On the assumed British capture of Hamburg, p. 53).

"The most absolute despots cannot command money." (p. 226.)

"With reference to capital, it may almost be said that it is organised so naturally internationally that formal organisation is not necessary." (p. 269.)

3. THE DEAL."France has benefited by the conquest of Algeria, England by that of India, because in each case the arms were employed not, properly speaking, for conquest at all, but for police purposes." (p. 115.)

"While even the wildest Pan-German has never cast his eyes in the direction of Canada, he has cast them, and does cast them, in the direction of Asia Minor.... Germany may need to police Asia Minor." (pp. 117, 118.)

"It is much more to our interest to have an orderly and organised Asia Minor under German tutelage than to have an unorganised and disorderly one which should be independent." (p. 120.)

"Sir Harry Johnston, in the 'Nineteenth Century' for December, 1910, comes a great deal nearer to touching the real kernel of the problem.... He adds that the best informed Germans used this language to him: 'You know that we ought to make common cause in our dealings with backward races of the world!'"

The quotations speak for themselves. Note the policing of the "backward races." The Colonies are not in favour. Mr. Angell writes: "What in the name of common sense is the advantage of conquering them if the only policy is to let them do as they like?" (p. 92.) South Africa occasions bitter reflections: "The present Government of the Transvaal is in the hands of the Boer Party." (p. 95.) And he warns Germany, that, supposing she wishes to conquer South Africa, "she would learn that the policy that Great Britain has adopted was not adopted by philanthropy, but in the hard school of bitter experience." (p. 104.) We believe him, and we may have to teach a lesson or two in the same school. It may be noted in passing Mr. Angell gives Ireland the honour of a reference. In reply to a critic of the Morning Post, who wrote thus: "It is the sublime quality of human nature that every great nation has produced citizens ready to sacrifice themselves rather than submit to external force attempting to dictate to them a conception other than their own of what is right." (p. 254.) Mr. Angell replied: "One is, of course, surprised to see the foregoing in the Morning Post; the concluding phrase would justify the present agitation in India, or in Egypt, or in Ireland against British, rule." (p. 254.) Comment is needless. The reading and re-reading of this book forces the conclusion as to its sinister design. Once that design is exposed its danger recedes. There is one at least of the "backward races" that may not be sufficiently alive to self-interest, but may for all that upset the capitalist table and scatter the deal by what Ruskin described in another context as "the inconvenience of the reappearance of a soul."

III

We must not fail to distinguish the worth of the best type of anti-militarist and to value the truth of his statement. It is curious to find Mr. Angell writing an introduction to M. Novikow's book, for M. Novikow's position is, in our point of view, quite different. He does not draw the fine distinction of policing the "backward races." Rather, he defends the Bengalis. Suppose their rights had never been violated, he says: "They would have held their heads higher; they would have been proud and dignified, and perhaps might have taken for their motto, Dieu et mon droit." ("War and Its Alleged Benefits," p. 12.) He can be ironical and he can be warm. Later, he writes; "The French (and all other people) should vindicate their rights with their last drop of blood; so what I write does not refer to those who defend their rights, but to those who violate the rights of others." (Note p. 70.) He does not put by the moral plea, but says: "Political servitude develops the greatest defects in the subjugated peoples." (p. 79.) And he pays his tribute to those who die for a noble cause: "My warmest sympathy goes out to those noble victims who preferred death to disgrace." (p. 82.) This is the true attitude and one to admire; and any writer worthy of esteem who writes for peace never fails to take the same stand. Emerson, in his essay on "War," makes a fine appeal for peace, but he writes: "If peace is sought to be defended or preserved for the safety of the luxurious or the timid, it is a sham and the peace will be base. War is better, and the peace will be broken." And elsewhere on "Politics," he writes: "A nation of men unanimously bent on freedom or conquest can easily confound the arithmetic of the statists and achieve extravagant actions out of all proportions to their means." Yes, and by our unanimity for freedom we mean to prove it true.

chapter 15

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principles of freedom chapter 13


By ☮ soaring eagle ॐ, 2013-02-26

CHAPTER XIII

INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM

I

It will probably cause surprise if I say there is, possibly, more intellectual freedom in Ireland than elsewhere in Europe. But I do not mean by intellectual freedom conventional Free-thought, which is, perhaps, as far as any superstition from true freedom of the mind. The point may not be admitted but its consideration will clear the air, and help to dispose of some objections hindering that spiritual freedom, fundamental to all liberty.

II

I have no intention here of in any way criticising the doctrine of Free-thought, but one so named cannot be ignored when we consider Intellectual Freedom. This, then, has to be borne in mind when speaking of Free-thought, that while it allows you latitude of opinion in many things, it will not allow you freedom in all things, in, for example, Revealed Religion. I only mention this to show that on both sides of such burning questions you have disputants dogmatic. A dogmatic "yes" meets an equally dogmatic "no." The dogmas differ and it is not part of our business here to discuss them: but to come to a clear conception of the matter in hand, it must be kept in mind, that if you, notwithstanding, freely of your own accord, accept belief in certain doctrines, the freethinkers will for that deny you freedom. And the freethinkers are right in that they are dogmatic. (But this they themselves appear to overlook.) Freedom is absolutely dogmatic. It is fundamentally false that freedom implies no attachment to any belief, no being bound by any law, "As free as the wind," as the saying goes, for the wind is not free. Simple indeterminism is not liberty.

III

We must, then, find the true conception of Intellectual Freedom. It is the freedom of the individual to follow his star and reach his goal. That star binds him down to certain lines and his freedom is in exact proportion to his fidelity to the lines. The seeming paradox may be puzzling: a concrete example will make it clear. Suppose a man, shipwrecked, finds himself at sea in an open boat, without his bearings or a rudder. He is at the mercy of the wind and wave, without freedom, helpless. But give him his bearings and a helm, and at once he recovers his course; he finds his position and can strike the path to freedom. He is at perfect liberty to scuttle his boat, drive it on the rocks or do any other irrational thing; but if he would have freedom, he must follow his star.

IV

This leads us to track a certain error that has confused modern debate. A man in assumed impartiality tells you he will stand away from his own viewpoint and consider a case from yours. Now, if he does honestly hold by his own view and thinks he can put it by and judge from his opponent's, he is deceiving both himself and his opponent. He can do so apparently, but, whatever assumption is made, he is governed subconsciously by his own firm conviction. His belief is around him like an atmosphere; it goes with him wherever he goes; he can only stand free of it by altogether abandoning it. If his case is such that he can come absolutely to the other side to view it uninfluenced by his own, then he has abandoned his own. He is like a man in a boat who has thrown over rudder and bearings: he may be moved by any current: he is adrift. If he is to recover the old ground, he must win it as something he never had. But if instead of this he does at heart hold by his own view, he should give over the deception that he is uninfluenced by it in framing judgment. It is psychologically impossible. Let the man understand it as a duty to himself to be just to others, and to substitute this principle for his spurious impartiality. This is the frank and straightforward course. While he is under his own star, he is moving in its light: he has, if unconsciously, his hand on the helm: he judges all currents scrupulously and exactly, but always from his own place at the wheel and with his own eyes. To abandon one or the other is to betray his trust, or in good faith and ignorance to cast it off till it is gone, perhaps, too far to recover.

V

If we so understand intellectual freedom, in what does its denial consist? In this: around every set of principles guiding men, there grows up a corresponding set of prejudices that with the majority in practice often supersede the principles; and these prejudices with the march of time assume such proportions, gather such power, both by the numbers of their adherents and the authority of many supporting them, that for a man of spirit, knowing them to be evil and urgent of resistance, there is needed a vigour and freedom of mind that but few understand and even fewer appreciate or encourage. The prejudices that grow around a man's principles are like weeds and poison in his garden: they blight his flowers, trees and fruit; and he must go forth with fire and sword and strong unsparing hand to root out the evil things. He will find with his courage and strength are needed passion and patience and dogged persistence. For men defend a prejudice with bitter venom altogether unlike the fire that quickens the fighter for freedom; and the destroyer of the evil may find himself assailed by an astonishing combinationcharged with bad faith or treachery or vanity or sheer perversity, in proportion as those who dislike his principles deny his good faith; or those who profess them, because of his vigour and candour denounce him for an enemy within the fold. But for all that he should stand fast. If he has the courage so to do, he gives a fine example of intellectual freedom.

VI

It will serve us to consider some prejudices, free-thinking and religious. First the free-thinker. He has a prejudice very hard to kill. If I believe in the beginning what Bernard Shaw has found out thus late in the day, that priests are not as bad as they are painted, the free-thinker would deny me intellectual freedom. The fact of my right to think the matter out and come to that conclusion would count for nothing. On the other hand, if I were known to have professed a certain faith and to have abandoned it, he would acclaim that as casting off mental slavery. This is hopelessly confusing. If a man has ceased to hold a certain belief he deserves no credit for courage in saying so openly. If he thinks what he once believed, or is supposed to have believed, has no vitality, surely he can have no reason for being afraid of it, and to speak of dangerous consequences from it to him, can be for him at least only a bogey. His simple denial is, then, no mark of courage. Courage is a positive thing. Yet he may well have that courage. Suppose him in taking his stand to have taken up some social faith that for him has promise of better things. He will find his new creed surrounded by its own swarm of prejudices, and if he refuse to worship every fetish of the free-thinker, declaring that this stands to him for a certain definite, beautiful thing, and fighting for it, he will find himself denied and scouted by his new friends. He may find himself often in company with some supposed enemies. He will surely need in his sincere attitude to life a freedom of mind that is not a name merely but a positive virtue that demands of him more than denunciation of obscurantism, the recognition of a personal duty and the justification of personal works.

VII

The religious prejudice will be no less hard to kill. Indiscriminate denunciation of unbelievers as wicked men serves no good purpose and leads nowhere. There are wicked men on all sides. Our standard must be one that will distinguish the sincere men on all sides; and our loyalty to our particular creeds must be shown in our lives and labours, not in the reviling of the infidel. We are justified in casting out the hypocrite from every camp, and when we come to this task we can be sure only of the hypocrites in our own; and we should lay it as an injunction on all bodies to purge themselves. The burden will be laid on allnot one surely of which men can complainthat they shall prove their principles in action and lay their prejudices by. Christians might well find exemplars in the early martyrs, those who for their principles went so readily to the lions. One may anticipate the complacent rejoinder: "This is not so exacting an age; men are not asked to die for religion now"and one may in turn reply, that, perhaps our age may not be without occasion for such high service, but that we may be unwilling to go to the lions. Our time has its own trialby no means unexacting let me tell youbut we quietly slip it by: it is much easier to revile the infidel. This as a test of loyalty should be pinned: we shall shut up thereby the hypocrite. And the earnest man, more conscious of his own burden, will be more sympathetic, generous and just, and will come to be more logical and to see what Newman well remarked, that one who asks questions shows he has no belief and in asking may be but on the road to one. If to ask a question is to express a doubt, it is no less, perhaps, to seek a way out of it. "What better can he do than inquire, if he is in doubt?" asks Newman. "Not to inquire is in his case to be satisfied with disbelief." We should, acting in this light, instead of denouncing the questioner, answer his question freely and frankly, encourage him to ask others and put him one or two by the way. Men meeting in this manner may still remain on opposite sides, but there will be formed between them a bond of sympathy that mutual sincerity can never fail to establish. This is freedom, and a fine beautiful thing, surely worth a fine effort. What we have grown accustomed to, the bitterness, the recriminations, the persecutions and retaliations, are all the evil weeds of prejudice, growing around our principles and choking them. They are so far a denial of principle, a proof of mental slavery. Our freedom will attest to faith: "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty."

VIII

This, in conclusion, is the root of the matter: to claim freedom and to allow it in like measure; rather than to deny, to urge men to follow their beliefs: only thus can they find salvation. To constrain a man to profess what we profess is worse than delusion: should he give lip service to what he does not hold at heart, 'twere for him deceitful and for us dangerous. Where his star calls, let him walk sincerely. If his creed is insufficient or inconsistent, in his struggle he shall test it, and in his sincerity he must make up the insufficiency or remove the inconsistency. This is the only course for honourable men and no man should object. To repeat, it puts an equal burden on allthe onus of justifying the faith that is in them. Life is a divine adventure and he whose faith is finest, firmest and clearest will go farthest. God does not hold his honours for the timid: the man who buried his talent, fearing to lose it, was cast into exterior darkness. He who will step forward fearlessly will be justified. "All things are possible to him who believeth." Many on both sides may be surprised to find suddenly proposed as a test to both sides the readiness to adventure bravely on the Sea of Life. The free-thinker may be astonished to hear, not that he goes too far, but does not go far enough. He may gasp at the test, but it is in effect the test and the only true one. The man who does not believe he is to be blotted out when his body ceases to breathe, who holds all history for his heritage and the wide present for his battle-ground, believes also the future is no repellent void but a widening and alluring world. If in his travel he is scrupulous in detail, it is in the spirit of the mariner who will neither court a ship-wreck nor be denied his adventure. He cannot deny to others the right to hesitate and halt by the way, but his spirit asks no less than the eternal and the infinite. Yes, but many good religious people are not used to seeing the issue in this light, and those who make a trade of fanning old bitterness will still ply their bitter trade, crying that anarchists, atheists, heretics, infidels, all outcasts and wicked men, are all rampant for our destruction. It may be disputed, but, admitting it, one may ask: Is there no place among Christian people for those distinctive virtues on which we base the superiority of our religion? When the need is greatest, should the practice be less urgent? It is not evident that the free-thinker is obliged by any of his principles to give better example. It is evident the Christian is so obliged. Why is he found wanting? If human weakness were pleaded, one could understand. It is against the making a virtue of it lies the protest. How many noble things there are in our philosophies, and how little practised. No violent convulsions should be needed to make us free, if men were but consistent: we should find ourselves wakening from a wicked dream in a bloodless and beautiful revolution. We are in the desert truly and a long way from the Promised Land. But we must get to the higher ground and consider our position; and if one by one we are stripped of the prejudices that too long have usurped the place of faith, and we find ourselves, to our dismay, perhaps lacking that faith that we have so long shouted but so little testified, and tremble on the verge of panic, there is one last line that gives in four words with divine simplicity and completeness a final answer to all timidity and objections: "Fear not; only believe."

chapter 14

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