Story type: Essay
The worst of government by the people is that the moment the people put them into power they are gracefully forgotten. The only real government by the people comes through the people themselves in the form of disturbances and strikes and revolutions. Then, alas, the tiny craft of Progress is borne towards the ocean on a river of bad blood–which means waste and unnecessary suffering, and leaves a whole desert of anger and revenge behind it. The most crying need of the times is the very last to be heard by governments. They are so engrossed in the financial prosperity of the country that they forget the social and moral prosperity altogether–and financial prosperity without social and moral progress is but the beginning of bankruptcy after all. A government, to be a real government and so to represent authority in the eyes of the people, has not only to nurse and to harbour, but also to rebuild. It does something more than govern. It has been placed there by the people in order that it may help rebuild the lives of the people–so that, besides helping capital to increase and develop, it at the same time safeguards the people against exploitation by capital, and sees to it that, through this capital, the people are enabled to live cleaner, better, happier lives, are given an equal chance in the world, and encouraged and given the opportunity to live self-respecting lives–lives full not only of responsibility to themselves, but to humanity at large. That to my mind is the true socialism–and it is a socialism which could come within the next ten years, and without any sign of revolution, were the Government to realise that it is something more than the foster-mother of capital–that it is also a practical rebuilder of the human race–yes, even though it has to cut through all the red-tape in the world and throw the vested interests, owners and employers, on the scrap-heap of things inimical to human happiness in the bulk. Sometimes I think that the franchise of women will do a great deal towards this juster world when it comes. Women have no “political sense,” it is said. Well, thank God they haven’t, say I! They have the human sense–and that will be the only political sense of any importance in the world of to-morrow.
And this war has been the great revelation. Masses of men and women who never thought before–or, rather, who thought but vaguely, not troubling to put their thoughts into words–have by war become articulate. They are now looking for a leader, and upon their faces there is the expression of disappointment. They do not yet realise that they have discovered within their own minds and hearts that Splendid Vision which once came through one, or, at most, a small group of individuals. This vision is the vision of humanity as apart from the vision of one special nation. It sees a new world in which science, the practical knowledge and the material advancement of the West, combine with the greater peace and happiness of the East, to make of this world an abiding place, an ideal nearer the ideal of Heaven. Man, after all, possesses mind. His failure has been that, so far, he has not learned wisdom–the wisdom to employ that mind for the realisation of his own soul–that realisation without which life becomes a mockery and civilisation a sham.