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LABOUR PARTY AND RESEARCH
struction, published by the Labour Party, shows the proposals they make for dealing with the surplus of wealth, which science has created and which is at present absorbed by individual proprietors. Whether one agrees with the methods proposed or not, their aims express a high ideal totally new in practical politics.
“From the same source must come the greatly increased public provision that the Labour Party will insist on being made for scientific investigation and original research, in every branch of knowledge, not to say also for the promotion of music, literature and fine arts, which have been under Capitalism so greatly neglected, and upon which, so the Labour Party holds, any real development of civilisation fundamentally depends. Society, like the individual, does not live by bread alone, does not exist for perpetual wealth production.”
Lastly, with regard to our third ideal of virtue, concerned with the ethical and religious perceptions, the study of the laws of God and man, rather than with the laws of Nature, is it not even worse served at present in the universities than either of the other two? What, in these times of transition and doubt, does the university contribute to the innate aspirations of men after virtue and justice? The existing codes and creeds into which human and divine laws have been formulated and crystallised still purport to be their authoritative expressions. But these, with the growth of science and the upheaval it has brought into social relationships and the whole mode of living and outlook of men, whether in peace or war, have become no more than the empty forms from which the living spirit has departed. They are in profound and irremediable disrepute. But the reality we have had exemplified in the modern spirit of duty and self-sacrifice, which the war has revealed to be
alight and alive amongst us more intensely than ever. Nor is it the monopoly of a class, profession or religion. Duty, like Truth and Beauty, is one of the universal values without which a university cannot live, but, of all, even less than Truth owes to any Faculty of Science, or Beauty to the Faculty of Arts, does Duty, as a living, burning flame in our midst, owe to the Faculties of Law and Divinity.
We have had no academical lesson of the stern reality of duty. As a memorial let us install in our universities, not only a pure Faculty of Art, charged with and carrying on the creative work which, rather than their languages, made our ancestors great, but also a pure Faculty of Duty, pursuing the tasks which, in these days, have fallen from flaccid hands. The duties which I am advocating should be the concern of a pure university Faculty of Duty, to be studied like a natural science solely in the interests of the advancement of knowledge and the love of truth, are the duties of the twentieth century, as distinct from mythological, ancient or feudal man, rather than the codes and creeds, the survival of which brings into contempt our whole ethical system. In earlier times, more corrupt or more openly corrupt than our own, the profession of the law was magnified, rather than the research aspect into the application of its principles and spirit to modern life, which is now the most pressing need. The status, emoluments and pensions, for example, of judges were fixed on a scale such as to make them superior to the temptation of bribery. To-day the power of money and its concentration into the hands of wealthy corporations makes, on the one hand, such a device absurd, and, on the other, we have a more generally developed sense of public honour, which makes it seem nothing remarkable that duties calling for equal integrity and incorruptibility should be honestly done without such
THE WAR AND INDIVIDUALISM
inducements, and by officials frequently among the humblest and least well-paid in the State. To ensure a higher respect for law rather than for the legal profession, it should not be so apt to shut up like a steel trap to the humble wayfarer, and open of its own accord to the gilded coach-and-four.
In feudal times, again, vast powers and privileges were acquired by territorial magnates in return for the distinct duty of maintaining on their estates, in times of peace, the people from whom, in times of war, armies could be raised for the defence of the realm and the king's external adventures. These rights survive, but we do not now raise armies in this manner. On the very lowest ground of expediency, and apart from ethical considerations altogether, a State that calls on fit men to serve in time of war must, in time of peace, provide conditions of existence capable of producing an Ai instead of a C3 army.
It is impossible to reconcile the cold, unrestricted operation of soulless economic law, the beggarmy-neighbour, devil-take-the-hindmost competitive individualism associated with nineteenth-century Jindustrialism and commerce, with the supreme socialism and self-sacrifice for the common weal which is asked of a section of the population in time
It seems impossible that we should say to these men, “Good fellows! upon you has fallen the nobler and better portion of sacrificing, for the national good, that individualism which we prize so highly as essential to efficiency, enterprise and progress. At home we will carry on as usual and expect to make fortunes, as individuals, out of the nation's necessities. It is for you to display the communal virtues of loyalty and devotion to the common weal, which we personally loathe, abominate and fear”; at least, it is impossible to say so more
The question of a citizen's duty and place in a complex State to-day would surely be a better basis for his education than Latin and Greek or introspective philosophy. Parliament and the country are being daily confronted and settle by votes similar questions of practical twentieth-century ethics, which it should be as much the function of a university to explore, in a scientific spirit, and reduce to a reasoned and complete form, as it is its recognised duty to enlarge the boundaries of natural knowledge. Applied professional Faculties of Law, Divinity, Medicine, Education and so on, without the pure Faculties to carry out constructive and creative work in the subjects with which they deal, are just one example of our artificially engendered retrospective habit of mind. Professional Faculties merely carry on, but whose business is it at present to say what it is shall be carried on when what is being carried on becomes anti-social and out of date? We pride ourselves on being the greatest nation on earth, with an empire on which the sun never sets, and all that sort of thing, and we leave to haphazard, popular vote and professional interests, the settlement of the problems arising out of the very growth and development upon which greatness alone depends.
There is only one principle, and that an undeniable one, which needs to be logically accepted and carried out in practice to make this nation exorcise the evil spirit which has brought us so near to the brink of ruin and made of us the object of real concern and despair to every one of our daughter dominions beyond the seas. We must act as we have been forced to act during the war, as though we were great because of ourselves, our environment, our powers of making original discoveries and of applying them without fear to the peculiar problems of our day, not merely in science but universally. Act upon
THE RETROSPECTIVE HABIT
the principle which has dominated the past century in our education and government but a little longer and the time for reform will be past. The principle in question cannot be better illustrated than by quoting the opening words of Charles Stuart Parker's “Essay on the History of Classical Education," in the volume to which I have already alluded. Referring to the Greeks and Romans, as well as the Jews, as our spiritual ancestors, he says: “They left treasures of recorded thought, word and deed, by the timely and judicious use of which their heirs have become the leaders of mankind. But they left them in their native tongues.
If one comes out of a fog or mist among the mountains, natural colours of grass, flowers and sky take on an unreal vividness in contrast to the blank pall of a moment before. I can imagine that after the Dark Ages, when the world once more emerged from the fog of barbarism, the treasures of the recorded thoughts of the ancients must, by contrast, have appeared similarly vivid and satisfying, and I can imagine how the tradition arose that to these treasures the renaissance of Italy, France, Germany, and, though assuredly least of all, Britain, as great nations, was to be traced. I am not concerned with its historical truth or otherwise. But if we ask ourselves to-day, fifty years after the words I have quoted were written, whether the great nations of the earth—the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Britain, Japan, to name them in haphazard order-do actually lead the world, or can ever hope to do so again, either the world of thought, the world of action, or even the world of art, because of the recorded treasures of Greeks, Romans and Jews, the question appears too ridiculous to be answered. They will lead or fail, primarily, because of the timely and judicious use or the suicidal neglect of those treasures--also written