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- Transcriber's Note: Inconsistent hyphenation, and spelling in the original document have been preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected in this text. For a complete list, please see the end of this document. -
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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF NATIONS
A CONTRIBUTION TO THE PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY
NEW YORK THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 1919
COPYRIGHT, 1919 BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
Set up and electrotyped. Published, November, 1919
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This book contains two closely related studies of the consciousness of nations. It has been written during the closing months of the war and in the days that have followed, and is completed while the Peace Conference is still in session, holding in the balance, as many believe, the fate of many hopes, and perhaps the whole future of the world. We see focussed there in Paris all the motives that have ever entered into human history and all the ideals that have influenced human affairs. The question must have arisen in all minds in, some form as to what the place of these motives and ideals and dramatic moments is in the progress of the world. Is the world governed after all by the laws of nature in all its progress? Do ideals and motives govern the world, but only as these ideals and motives are themselves produced according to biological or psychological principles? Or, again, does progress depend upon historical moments, upon conscious purposes which may divert the course of nature and in a real sense create the future? It is with the whole problem of history that we are confronted in these practical hours. At heart our problem is that of the place of man in nature as a conscious factor of progress. This is a problem, finally, of the philosophy of history, but it is rather in a more concrete way and upon a different level that it is to be considered here,—and somewhat incidentally to other more specific questions. But this is the problem that is always before us, and the one to which this study aims to make some contribution, however small.
The first part of the book is a study of the motives of war. It is an analysis of the motives of war in the light of the general principles of the development of society. We wish to see what the causes of past wars have been, but we wish also to know what these motives are as they may exist as forces in the present state of society. In such a study, practical questions can never be far away. We can no longer study war as an abstract psychological problem, since war has brought us to a horrifying and humiliating situation. We have discovered that our modern world, with all its boasted morality and civilization, is actuated, at least in its relations among nations, by very unsocial motives. We live in a world in which nations thus far have been for the most part dominated by a theory of States as absolutely sovereign and independent of one another. Now it becomes evident that a logical consequence of that theory of States is absolute war. A prospect of a future of absolute war in a world in which industrial advances have placed in the hands of men such terrible forces of destruction, an absolute warfare that can now be carried into the air and under the sea is what makes any investigation of the motives of war now a very practical problem.
If the urgency of our situation drives us to such studies and makes us hasten to apply even an immature sociology and psychology, it ought not to prejudice our minds and make us, for example, fall into the error of wanting peace at any price—an ideal which, as a practical national philosophy, might be even worse than a spirit of militarism. What we need to know, finally, in order to avoid these errors which at least we may imagine, is what, in the most fundamental way, progress may be conceived to be. If we could discover that, and set our minds to the task of making the social life progressive, we might be willing to let wars take care of themselves, so to speak, without any radical philosophy of good and evil. We ought at least to examine war fairly, and to see what, in the waging of war, man has really desired. A study of war ought to help us to decide whether we must accept our future, with its possibility of wars, as a kind of fate, or whether we must now begin, with a new idea of conscious evolution, to apply our science and our philosophy and our practical wisdom seriously for the first time to the work of creating history, and no longer be content merely to live it.
As to the details of the study of war—we first of all consider the origin and the biological aspects of war; then war as related to the development, in the social life and in the life of the individual, of the motive of power. The instincts that are most concerned in the development of this motive of power are then considered, and also the relations of war to the aesthetic impulses and to art. Nationalism, national honor and patriotism are studied as causes of war. The various "causes" that are brought forward as the principles fought for are examined; also the philosophical influences, the moral and religious motives and the institutional factors among the motives of war. Finally the economic and political motives and the historical causes are considered. The conclusion is reached that the motive of power, as the fundamental principle of behavior at the higher levels, is the principle of war, but that in so general a form it goes but a little way toward being an explanation of war. We find the real causes of war by tracing out the development of this motive of power as it appears in what we call the "intoxication impulse," and in the idea of national honor and in the political motives of war. It is in these aspects of national life that we find the motives of war as they may be considered as a practical problem. But we find no separate causes, and we do not find a chain of causes that might be broken somewhere and thus war be once for all eliminated. Wars are products of the whole character of nations, so to speak, and it is national character that must be considered in any practical study of war. It is by the development of the character of nations in a natural process, or by the education of national character, that war will be made to give way to perpetual peace, if such a state ever comes, rather than by a political readjustment or by legal enactments, however necessary as beginnings or makeshifts these legal and political changes may be.
The second part of the book is a study of our present situation as an educational problem, in which we have for the first time a problem of educating national consciousness as a whole, or the individuals of a nation with reference to a world-consciousness. The study has reference especially to the conditions in our own country, but it also has general significance. The war has brought many changes, and in every phase of life we see new problems. These may seem at the moment to be separate and detached conditions which must be dealt with, each by itself, but this is not so; they are all aspects of fundamental changes and new conditions, the main feature of which is the new world-consciousness of which we speak. Whatever one's occupation, one cannot remain unaffected by these changes, or escape entirely the stress that the need of adjustment to new ideas and new conditions compels. What we may think about the future—about what can be done and what ought to be done, is in part, and perhaps largely, a matter of temperament. At least we see men, presumably having access to the same facts, drawing from them very different conclusions. Some are keyed to high expectations; they look for revolutions, mutations, a new era in politics and everywhere in the social life. For them, after the war, the world is to be a new world. Fate will make a new deal. Others appear to believe that after the flurry is over we shall settle down to something very much like the old order. These are conservative people, who neither desire nor expect great changes. Others take a more moderate course. While improvement is their great word, they are inclined to believe that the new order will grow step by step out of the old, and that good will come out of the evil only in so far as we strive to make it. We shall advance along the old lines of progress, but faster, perhaps, and with life attuned to a higher note.
The writer of this book must confess that he belongs in a general way to the third species of these prophets. There is a natural order of progress, but the good must, we may suppose, also be worked for step by step. The war will have placed in our hands no golden gift of a new society; both the ways and the direction of progress must be sought and determined by ideals. The point of view in regard to progress, at least as a working hypothesis, becomes an educational one, in a broad sense. Our future we must make. We shall not make it by politics. The institutions with which politics deals are dangerous cards to play. There is too much convention clinging to them, and they are too closely related to all the supports of the social order. The industrial system, the laws, the institutions of property and rights, the form of government, we change at our own risk. Naturally many radical minds look to the abrupt alteration of these fundamental institutions for the cure of existing evils, and others look there furtively for the signs of coming revolution, and the destruction of all we have gained thus far by civilization. But at a different level, where life is more plastic—in the lives of the young, and in the vast unshaped forms of the common life everywhere, all this is different. We do not expect abrupt changes here nor quick and visible results. Experimentation is still possible and comparatively safe. There is no one institution of this common and unformed life, not even the school itself, that supports the existing structures, so that if we move it in the wrong way, everything else will fall. When we see we are wrong, there is still time to correct our mistakes.
Our task, then, is to see what the forces are that have brought us to where we stand now, and to what influences they are to be subjected, if they are to carry us onward and upward in our course. Precisely what the changes in government or anywhere in the social order should be is not the chief interest, from this point of view. The details of the constitution of an international league, the practical adjustments to be made in the fields of labor, and in the commerce of nations, belong to a different order of problems. We wish rather to see what the main currents of life, especially in our own national life, are, and what in the most general way we are to think and do, if the present generation is to make the most of its opportunities as a factor in the work of conscious evolution.
The bibliography shows the main sources of the facts and the theories that have been drawn upon in writing the book. Some of the chapters have been read in a little different form as lectures before President G. Stanley Hall's seminar at Clark University. More or less of repetition, made necessary in order to make these papers, which were read at considerable intervals, independent of one another, has been allowed to remain. Perhaps in the printed form this reiteration will help to emphasize the general psychological basis of the study.
NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE MOTIVES OF WAR
I ORIGINS AND BIOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS 3
II UNCONSCIOUS MOTIVES, THE REVERSION THEORIES OF WAR, AND THE INTOXICATION MOTIVE 17
III INSTINCTS IN WAR: FEAR, HATE, THE AGGRESSIVE IMPULSE, MOTIVES OF COMBAT AND DESTRUCTION, THE SOCIAL INSTINCT 38
IV AESTHETIC ELEMENTS IN THE MOODS AND IMPULSES OF WAR 70
V PATRIOTISM, NATIONALISM AND NATIONAL HONOR 78
VI "CAUSES" AS PRINCIPLES AND ISSUES IN WAR 97
VII PHILOSOPHICAL INFLUENCES 110
VIII RELIGIOUS AND MORAL INFLUENCES 117
IX ECONOMIC FACTORS AND MOTIVES 128
X POLITICAL AND HISTORICAL FACTORS 142
XI THE SYNTHESIS OF CAUSES 153
THE EDUCATIONAL FACTOR IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF NATIONS
I EDUCATIONAL PROBLEMS OF THE DAY 161
II INTERNATIONALISM AND THE SCHOOL 168
III INTERNATIONALISM AND THE SCHOOL Continued 184
IV PEACE AND MILITARISM 197
V THE TEACHING OF PATRIOTISM 211
VI THE TEACHING OF PATRIOTISM Continued 226
VII POLITICAL EDUCATION IN A DEMOCRACY 242
VIII INDUSTRY AND EDUCATION 269
IX NEW SOCIAL PROBLEMS 290
X RELIGION AND EDUCATION AFTER THE WAR 305
XI HUMANISM 309
XII AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE IN EDUCATION 315
XIII MOODS AND EDUCATION: A REVIEW 319
NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE MOTIVES OF WAR
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF NATIONS
A CONTRIBUTION TO THE PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY
ORIGINS AND BIOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS
The simplest possible interpretation of the causes of war that might be offered is that war is a natural relation between original herds or groups of men, inspired by the predatory instinct or by some other instinct of the herd. To explain war, then, one need only refer to this instinct as final, or at most account for the origin and genesis of the instinct in question in the animal world. Some writers express this very view, calling war an expression of an instinct or of several instincts; others find different or more complex beginnings of war.
Nusbaum (86) says that both offense and defense are based upon an expansion impulse. Nicolai (79) sees the beginning of war in individual predatory acts, involving violence and the need of defense. Again we find the migratory instinct, the instinct that has led groups of men to move and thus to interfere with one another, regarded as the cause of war, or as an important factor in the causes. Sometimes a purely physiological or growth impulse is invoked, or vaguely the inability of primitive groups to adapt themselves to conditions, or to gain access to the necessities of life. Le Bon (42) speaks of the hunger and the desire that led Germanic forces as ancient hordes to turn themselves loose upon the world.
Leaving aside for the moment the question of the nature of the impulses or instincts which actuated the conduct of men originally and brought them into opposition, as groups, to one another, we do find at least some suggestion of a working hypothesis in these simple explanations of war. Granted the existence of groups formed by the accident of birth and based upon the most primitive protective and economic associations, and assuming the presence of the emotions of anger and fear or any instinct which is expressed as an impulse or habit of the group, we might say that the conditions and factors for the beginning of warfare are all present. When groups have desires that can best and most simply be satisfied by the exertion of force upon other groups, something equivalent to war has begun.
If we take the group (as herd or pack) and the instinct as the original factors or data of society, however, we probably simplify the situation too much. The question arises whether the motives are not more complex, even from the beginning, and whether both the tendencies or impulses by which the group was formed or held together and the motives behind aggressive conduct against other groups have not been produced or developed in the course of social relations, rather than have been brought up from animal life, or at any point introduced as instincts. We notice at least that animals living in groups do not in general become aggressive within the species. Possibly it was by some peculiarity of man's social existence, or his superior endowment of intelligence or some unusual quality of his instincts, perhaps very far back in animal life, that has in the end made him a warlike creature. Man does seem to be a creature of feelings rather than of instincts as far back as we find much account of him, and to be characterized rather by the weakness and variability of his instincts than by their definiteness. It is quite likely, too, that man never was at any stage a herd animal; in fact it seems certain that he was not, and that his instincts were formed long before he began to live in large groups at all. So he never acquired the mechanisms either for aggression or defense that some creatures have. Apparently he inherited neither the physical powers nor the warlike spirit nor the aggressive and predatory instincts that would have been necessary to make of him a natural fighting animal; but rather, perhaps, he has acquired his warlike habits, so to speak, since arriving at man's estate. Endowed with certain tendencies which express themselves with considerable variability in the processes by which the functions of sex and nutrition are carried out, man never acquired the definiteness of character and conduct that some animals have. He learned more from animals, it may be, than he inherited from them, and it is quite likely that far back in his animal ancestry he had greater flexibility or adaptability than other animals. The aggressive instinct, the herd instinct, the predatory instinct, the social instinct, the migratory instinct, may never have been carried very far in the stock from which man came. All this, however, at this point is only a suggestion of two somewhat divergent points of view in regarding the primitive activities of man from which his long history of war-making has taken rise.
The view is widely held and continually referred to by many writers on war and politics, that the most fundamental of all causes of war, or the most general principle of it, is the principle of selection—that war is a natural struggle between groups, especially between races, the fittest in this struggle tending to survive. This view needs to be examined sharply, as indeed it has been by several writers, in connection with the present war. This biological theory or apology of war appears in several forms, as applied to-day. They say that racial stocks contend with one another for existence, and with this goes the belief that nations fight for life, and that defeat in war tends towards the extermination of nations. The Germans, we often hear, were fighting for national existence, and the issue was to be a judgment upon the fitness of their race to survive. This view is very often expressed. O'Ryan and Anderson (5), military writers, for example, say that the same aggressive motives prevail as always in warfare: nations struggle for survival, and this struggle for survival must now and again break out into war. Powers (75) says that nations seldom fight for anything less than existence. Again (15) we read that conflicts have their roots in history, in the lives of peoples, and the sounder, and better, emerge as victors. There is a selective process on the part of nature that applies to nations; they say that especially increase of population forces upon groups an endless conflict, so that absolute hostility is a law of nature in the world.
These views contain at least two very doubtful assumptions. One is that nations do actually fight for existence,—that warfare is thus selective to the point of eliminating races. The other is that in warlike conflicts the victors are the superior peoples, the better fitted for survival. Confusion arises and the discussion is complicated by the fact that conflicts of men as groups of individuals within the same species are somewhat anomalous among biological forms of struggle. Commonly, struggle takes place among individuals, organisms having definite characteristics and but slightly variable each from its own kind contending with one another, by direct competition or through adaptation, in the first case individuals striving to obtain actually the same objects. Or, again, species having the same relations to one another that individuals have, contend in a similar manner.
Primitive groups of men, however, are not so definite; they are not biological entities in any such sense as individuals and species are. They are not definitely brought into conflict with one another, in general, as contending for the same objects, and it is difficult to see how, in the beginning, at least, economic pressure has been a factor at all in their relations. Whatever may have been the motive that for the most part was at work in primitive warfare, it is not at all evident that superior groups had any survival value. The groups that contended with one another presumably differed most conspicuously in the size of the group, and this was determined largely by chance conditions. Other differences must have been quite subordinate to this, and have had little selective value. The conclusion is that the struggle of these groups with one another is not essentially a biological phenomenon.
The fact is that peace rather than war, taking the history of the human race as a whole, is the condition in which selection of the fittest is most active, for it is the power of adaptation to the conditions of stable life, which are fairly uniform for different groups over wide areas, that tests vitality and survival values, so far as these values are biological. It may be claimed that war is very often, if not generally, a means of interrupting favorable selective processes, the unfit tending to prevail temporarily by force of numbers, or even because of qualities that antagonize biological progress. Viewing war in its later aspects, we can see that it is often when nations are failing in natural competition that they resort to the expedient of war to compensate for this loss, although they do not usually succeed thereby in improving their economic condition as they hope, or increase their chance of survival, or even demonstrate their survival value. It is notorious that nations that conquer tend to spend their vitality in conquest and introduce various factors of deterioration into their lives. The inference is that a much more complex relation exists among groups than the biological hypothesis allows. Survival value indeed, as applied to men in groups, is not a very clear concept. There may be several different criteria of survival value, not comparable in any quantitative way among themselves.
Scheler (77) says that we cannot account for war as a purely biological phenomenon. Its roots lie deep in organic life, but there is no direct development or exclusive development from animal behavior to human. War is peculiarly human. That, in a way, may be accepted as the truth. Warfare as we know it among human groups, as conflict within the species is due in some way to, or is made possible by, the secondary differentiations within species which give to groups, so to speak, a pseudo-specific character. And these differences depend largely upon the conditions that enter into the formation of groups,—upon desires, impulses and needs arising in the social life rather than in instinct as such. These characteristic differences are not variations having selective value, but are traits that merely differentiate the groups as historical entities. These secondary variations have not resulted in the elimination of those having inferior qualities, but have shared the fortunes of the groups that possessed them,—the fortunes both of war and of peace. War, from this point of view, belongs to history rather than to biology. It belongs to the realm of the particular rather than to the general in human life. War has favored the survival of this or that group in a particular place, but has probably not been instrumental in producing any particular type of character in the world, either physical or mental.
Very early in the history of mankind, in fact as far back as we can trace history, we find these psychic differentiations, as factors in the production of war. There are significant extensions and also restrictions of the consciousness of kind pertaining to the life of man, as distinguished from animals. Animals have not sufficient intelligence to establish such perfect group identities as man does, and they lack the affective motives for carrying on hostilities among groups. They remain more clearly subjected to the simple laws of biological selection, and are guided by instincts which do not impel them to act aggressively as groups toward their own kind. Man proceeds almost from the beginning to antagonize these laws, so that it is very likely that the best, in the biological sense, has always had some disadvantage, in human life, and may still have. The real value that has thus been conserved by this human mode of life consists in preserving a relatively large number of secondary types or individual groups, rather than in insuring the predominance of any one biologically superior type. Man's work in the world is to make history. Even though war were a means of making a biologically superior type of man prevail we should not be justified in saying that it is thus vindicated as a method of selection.
Many writers whom we do not need to review in great detail have contributed to the objections to the biological principle as an explanation of war. Trotter (82) examines the doctrine that war is a biological necessity, and says that there is no parallel in biology for progress being accomplished as a result of a racial impoverishment so extreme as is caused by war, that among gregarious animals other than man direct conflict between major groups such as can lead to the suppression of the less powerful is an inconspicuous phenomenon, and that there is very little fighting within species, for species have usually been too busy fighting their external enemies. Mitchell (10) says that war is not an aspect of the natural struggle for existence, among individuals; that there is nothing in Darwinism that explains or justifies wars; that the argument from race is worthless since there are no pure races. M'Cabe (76) maintains that war is not a struggle between inferior and superior national types. Dide (20) also discusses the question of differences of race as causes of war, and the use that has been made of this dogma. Chapman (39) says that no race question is involved in the present war as has been supposed. There is no conflict of economic forces, no nations compelled to seek expansion.
Precisely how warfare originated (assuming that it arose in one way) we shall probably never know, since we cannot now reconstruct the actual history of man. We think of men as living at first in groups containing a few individuals, and presumably for a long time these small and isolated groups of men prevailed as the type of human society. We can already detect the elements of conflict in these groups, but whether warfare in the sense of deadly conflict originated there we cannot know; or whether it was only in the experience of men as large migrating hordes which had been formed by the amalgamation of smaller groups under the influence of hunger or climatic change, that warfare in any real sense came into the world. We do not know to what extent the small groups of men we find in conditions of savagery now represent primitive conditions. Fortunately, however, some of these problems of origin are of but little practical importance and their interest is chiefly antiquarian or historical.
The assumption that in the behavior of original groups of men war arose as a natural result of the life of the group seems to be an allowable hypothesis. Whether warlike conduct came by some modification of the habits brought up from animal life as instinctive reactions, or whether man invented warfare from some strong motive peculiar to human life, and produced it intelligently, so to speak, under stress of circumstances may have to remain an open question so far as conclusive evidence is concerned. What we lack is a knowledge of the type and form of the instincts of man in his first stages, and the degree and kind of intelligence he had. But the reconstructed pre-human history of man so far as we can make it seems to show, as we have already suggested, that early man could have had no definite herd instincts or pack instincts such as some of the animals have, that his habits were plastic and guided by intelligence rather than by impulse. His social life, his predaceous habits, the habit of killing large game, his warfare must have been a gradual acquisition, and from the beginning have been very different as regards motive and development from animal behavior which judged externally may seem to be like it in character and to have the same ends.
There are already inherent in any group of human individuals that fits into such knowledge of man past and present as we have, all the necessary motives of warfare in some form. There are the reactions of anger made to any threat or injury, fear, the predaceous impulse and habit, originating in hunger, the motives arising in sexual rivalry. These motives are the source of behavior toward both members of the group and outsiders. There is no absolute distinction between these objects. It is of the nature of man to be both aggressive and social. One instinct or motive did not come from the other, since there are emotions and desires at every stage that tend, some of them to unite and some to disrupt, the group. The sense of difference of kind and the fear of the strange on the one hand, and the effect of propinquity and practical necessity in the conduct in regard to the familiar on the other make the reactions different in degree in the two spheres but not different in kind. There is no aggressive instinct or war motive that is directed exclusively toward the outsider. Certain tendencies toward violence and strife, modified and controlled within the group, become unrestrained when directed toward the stranger. Among these motives are those of sexual rivalry, fear, anger, desire, and the play motive as an expression of any instinctive habits of aggression that may have been phyletically established.
Since every individual creature has his needs that can be satisfied only by preying in some way upon other animals of his own species or others, the motives for strife are original in organic life. Every animal lives in a world of which he is suspicious, and rightly so. He is suspicious toward the members of his own kind and group, and toward all strangers he shows watchfulness and fear. There are two motives, therefore, of a highly practical nature that contribute to a general state of unfriendliness in animal life. Both the motives of conflict within the group, the habit of aggression and its complement, fear, and the jealousy and display motive (the display itself probably having originated as a show of ferocity on the part of males) must have been transferred to relations between groups as a natural result of the proximity of groups to one another, although this process is not quite so simple as this would imply, since in part the outside groups are produced by these very same antagonistic motives in the group, for example the driving out of young males because of sexual jealousy. The presence of other groups must have excited all the motives of warfare at a very early stage, and this contrast had the effect of stimulating the social feeling of the group and developing control of impulses on the part of individuals within the group toward one another. So the motives of combat, as shown within the group and toward outsiders, developed, so to speak, by a dialectic process.
Fear and the predatory impulse, the sexual and display motive, play or the hunting activity as a pleasure for its own sake, with a desire perhaps to practice deception and to exercise intelligence, presumably introduced some kind and degree of definite warfare among primitive groups of men at a very early stage of human life, although of course such a conclusion can be only speculative. Increasing intelligence, the power of discriminating and of reacting to secondary likenesses and differences, and especially the recognition of the nature of death, and the advantages of killing rather than merely overcoming an enemy, the discovery of the use of weapons, introduced warfare into the world. Warfare is, then, not simply the negation of some original principle of mutual aid, nor yet an expression of instinctive aggressiveness or cruelty, but it is a product of original endowment, of conditions of life, and of intelligence all together. It is practical, but at no stage can it be said to be wholly practical. Changes must have taken place in warfare as in other social reactions as men passed through a number of stages from primitive wandering or a relatively unstable life to a stable life, but the motives of conflict cannot have been added to in any essential way. Through all the course of history all the motives that originally made individuals of a group or the groups as wholes antagonistic have remained, although the mental processes have become generalized, fused and transformed. If Gumplowicz is right we can still detect in any great society to-day all the primitive individual and group animosities, tempered down and held in check by laws and customs, but still existent and by no means overcome and made innocuous.
These motives of warfare might best be traced out in four more or less definite principles of conduct, or four purposes of war that appear throughout primitive life. These are: 1) thievery, including wife capture; 2) the fear motive; 3) cannibalism; 4) the display motive, with the desire to intimidate and to display power (more or less closely associated with the play motive, the love of hunting, gaming and the dramatic motive).
Cannibalism, of course, is a special expression of the predatory motive in general, or it is mainly that. Cannibalism was certainly established early in primitive life, at least early enough to antedate all religion, and although its origin and history are shrouded in mystery, the motive was quite certainly practical. Evidently it was widespread if not universal. Whether it was introduced as a result of a failure of animal food, as some think, or has a still more simple explanation as a part of the original impulse which led men at a certain stage of their development to become hunters, cannot be determined. We know, however, that the alien human being was to some extent included under the same concepts as the animal enemy and prey, and presumably some of the strongest motives that led men to attack animals also included man as an object, since the alien group was regarded as in some degree different in kind from the in-group. It may have been in the great migrations when all the aggressive motives were increased that cannibalism became fixed as a habit.
Cannibalism may well have been the primitive motive of warfare as serious deadly combat, but all predatory habits must have contributed to establishing a more or less habitual state of warfare among all groups of men. The predatory raid, with the reaction of defense, when carried on as a group activity in any form, is in fact war, so far as attack and defense were serious and deadly, and intelligence and weapons were sufficiently developed to make man a dangerous opponent. This predatory motive, of course, extended to all desired objects, and these objects must have included all objects that could most simply be acquired by stealing. They included food, women, and all other possessions. The custom of driving out young males from the group, by the jealousy of the old males, and of preventing males from obtaining females within the group must have been one of the earliest and one of the strongest incentives to predatory warfare. At first all property of the group, for so long as groups were wandering, was to some extent common, and attack and defense must have been common. The objects of predatory raids which produced group combat must have changed with the social life. When habitation became fixed and property therefore more individual, probably the predatory impulse itself became relatively a less important factor in combat.
Two motives grow out of the practical motives of combat, which we may assume to have been the original motives. These are both emotional rather than instinctive. Fear and anger, that is to say, become more or less detached motives for attack. Fear is increased with the increase of intelligence up to a certain point at least—with the increase of the capacity for understanding danger, and of the powers of man to become dangerous. All the experience of combat engenders anger and hatred, and these moods of hatred toward enemies are cumulative, absorb all the detached motives and feelings of antagonism between groups, preserve and give continuity to the memories of conflict, and so produce among groups the fear and hate motive. The feeling of fear arouses the motive of aggression, and the feeling of anger; and these in turn generate more fear, until both the moods of anger and fear and a perpetual state of animosity and warfare are induced among contending groups. Thus out of primitive motives of combat the feud as a more generalized and psychical antagonism is produced, and these states are possible because of the powers of generalization in man which extend to the emotions and make possible the formation of deep moods.
In another direction, also, the practical motives tend to be superseded by more abstract and more subjective motives. Both in the fear and anger reactions and in the motive that originates in the sexual impulse—display of males, and combat with reference to females—consciousness of prowess for its own sake, and the display of it in order to intimidate the enemy, arise. Into this motive of war there enter all the antagonisms that come from self-consciousness, the whole force of the diathesis of developing sexuality, with its jealousy and cruelty, and tendencies to perversion. The force of this motive of prowess must at some period of development have become very great. It extends out into a love of combat for its own sake, reenforces other motives, and issues in the more abstract motives of honor and power that we see playing such a great part in modern warfare.
These primitive motives of war are not merely numerous. They fuse, reenforce one another, and almost from the beginning, we must suppose, create complex states of consciousness, and form moods. War very early, we say, must contain all the motives that ever enter into it. The predatory impulse, the love of deception, of conquest, the love of combat for its own sake, the hunting impulse, the motive of power, of fear and anger, the impulse of display and the more primitive sexual motives, the motives of courage and jealousy, even a beginning of the aesthetic motive, are all there. They become the warlike mood or produce war, in the sense in which we now understand it, only when the intelligence gives to the relations between groups definite intentions and directions, and out of the many impulses that lead to combat, a distinctive motive and mood are derived. So we may say with all certainty that the making of war is not a mere perpetuation of some alleged instinct of murder, surreptitiously retained by man in his rise from an animal state, but it is quite as much a product of his whole social nature. It becomes established as life grows more complex, as specific desires increase in number. Man is not, as thus seen in these genetic views of him, a self-tamed animal. He has not arrived at a precarious and unstable social condition out of a primitive individualism which is the essence of his warlike nature. On the other hand, he has not degenerated from some ideal pacific state. Ages ago he was already divinely human, and possessed those capacities both for cooeperation and antagonism out of which war is created.
UNCONSCIOUS MOTIVES, THE REVERSION THEORIES OF WAR, AND THE INTOXICATION MOTIVE
There are several interesting theories of the causes of war, now in the field, most of them inspired by our recent great conflict, all of which (but no one perhaps completely or quite justly) may be described as based upon the view that war is an outbreak of, or reversion to, instincts and modes of activity which as primitive tendencies remain in the individual or in the social life and which, from time to time, with or without social cause, may break loose, so to speak, and hurl man back into savagery. These theories of war show us, in some cases, human character in the form of double personality, or liken civilization to a thin and insecure incrustation upon the surface of life, beneath which all that is animal-like and barbaric still remains smoldering. Some of these theories we need to review briefly here.
Bertrand Russell, in answer to the question, "Why do men fight?" which is the title of his book dealing with the causes of war, says, in substance, that men fight because they are controlled by instinct (and also by authority), rather than by reason. Men will cease fighting when reason controls instinct, and men think for themselves rather than allow their thinking to be done for them. This view does not explicitly state that war is a reversion, for man may be at no point better or more advanced than a creature of instinct, but it lays the blame for war upon the original nature of man. Man has instincts which presumably he has brought with him from his pre-human stage, and some of these instincts are, on their motor side, the reactions of fighting.
Le Bon (42) speaks of a conscious and an unconscious will in nations, and says that the motives behind great national movements may be beneath all conscious intentions, and may anticipate them. The Englishman in particular lives, in a sense, a divided life, since there is a manifest inconsistency between what he really is and what he thinks. What these instincts are, Le Bon does not specify; presumably they may be either better or worse than the conscious motives.
Trotter (82) and also Murray (90) consider war from a biological standpoint, regarding it as a herd phenomenon. Trotter's view, especially his interpretation of Germany, which we are not to consider here, is original and important. War is a result of the action of a herd instinct, a specific instinct which is peculiar in one respect, in that it acts upon other instincts but has no definite motor reactions of its own. War is the result of the action of the herd instinct in man upon the old instinct of aggression. At least aggressive war is. Men in all their social relations show the play of these instincts; in war it is the old aggressive instinct, the old passion of the pack, that dominates them; and it is the ancestral herd-fears that overcome them in their panics. It is the herd instinct that makes men in groups so highly sensitive to the leader, whose relations to the herd or pack are always dependent upon their recognizing him as one of the group; that is, as acting in accordance with the desires of the herd.
It is by the union of the herd, Murray says, or through the herd instinct, that suppressed unconscious impulses are given an opportunity to operate; when the human herd is excited by any external stimulus, the old types of reaction are brought into play. Curiously, in such times, leadership may be assumed by eccentric and even abnormal members of the group—by those who are governed by perverted instincts; by men who are touched with the mania of suspicion, or who even suffer from homicidal mania.
The essential point of these biological views is that, when the human herd is subjected to any influences that tend to arouse the herd instinct—that is, to unite the herd in any common emotion or action, the old instinctive forms of response are likely to be brought to the front. Whatever the stimulus, the tendency is for the herd to fixate its attention upon some external object, which at once is reacted to with deep emotion. Plainly, if this be true, if herd instinct does throw human society from time to time and from various causes into attitudes of defense and offense with the appropriate emotional reactions, and if in such times leaders are likely to appear, having exaggerated instinctive tendencies, there is always close at hand and ready a mechanism by which war can be produced, war being precisely of the type of mass action, under strong emotion, of a group closely united under spectacular leadership, with attention cramped upon some external object hated or feared.
Nicolai (79), who believes strongly that war is wholly useless, compares it to the play we turn to when the actions performed in the play are no longer in themselves practical. War is a great debauch, perhaps now the last the race will experience. War is like wine: in it nations renew their youth. It is not the war itself, but the mood it produces that we crave, and this mood is longed for because in it old and sacred feelings of patriotism are aroused, and these feelings are themselves survivals, something romantic, archaic, no longer needed in the present stage of social life.
Novicow (83) says something very similar to this. War is a survival, like the classical languages, for example. Men begin to find beauty and glory in these things only after the activities they represent are useless. The principle of their survival is nothing more or less than that of habit. It is habit that keeps war alive; wars are a concession to our forebears, a following in the footsteps of a dead past.
We are presenting these views in a somewhat loose and illogical order, but let us look at still a few more of them. Patrick thinks of war as precisely a plunge into the primeval. War is a reaction, a regression, but still it is something more than a mere slipping of the machinery of life. It is craved; and it is craved because it offers relief from the tension of modern life. It is not quite clear whether it is because we are tired and want rest for our over-worked functions, or are merely dull and need renewed life, but in any case, when the desire has accumulated enough, back we fall into the primeval. Then all the tensions and inhibitions of civilized society disappear. Society, relieved of its cross-tensions, is resolved and organized into an harmonious and freely acting whole, seeking a definite object. Life is simplified, and becomes again primitive. Old and vigorous movements take the place of the cramped thinking of our civilized life. All that keeps us modern and evolved is relaxed.
Naturally the Freudians have their own explanation of war in terms of subconscious wishes, repressed feelings and instincts. Freud (78) himself says that war is a recrudescence (and a mastery over us) of a more primitive life than our own. The child and the primitive man, as we have long known them in the Freudian theories, live still in us and are indestructible. We have supposed ourselves to have overcome these primitive impulses, but we are far from being so civilized as we thought. The evil impulses, as we call them, which we supposed had at least been transformed are changed only in the sense that they have been influenced by the erotic motive, or have been repressed by an outer restraint, an educational factor, the demands of what we call civilized environment. But let us not deceive ourselves; the old impulses are still alive; the number of people who have been transformed by civilization is less than we supposed. All society is at heart barbaric. Judged by our unconscious wishes, we are a band of murderers, for the primitive wish is to kill all who oppose our self-interests, and war is precisely a reversion to the method of free expression of our desires in action. Society and the authority of government have suppressed these primitive reactions in the individual, but instead of eliminating them altogether from human nature (which, of course, no legislation can do in any case), government and society as a whole have appropriated all these primitive actions to their own use.
Jones (37), the Freudian, distinguishes two quite different groups of causes of war: the conscious causes, all expressed in the feeling of patriotism; and the unconscious causes, which grow out of the desire to release certain original passions—the passions of cruelty, destruction, loot and lust.
The central thought of all these views, it is plain, is that war belongs to the past. It is a return to something that, in a significant sense, is the natural man—is his instinctive and unguarded self. It is also plainly implied in these views, here and there, that modern man, by thus lapsing into war, is renewing his stock of primitive nature. The modern man is in unstable equilibrium, and whatever upsets that equilibrium sends him back through the ages. MacCurdy (37), having Jones and Freud in mind, protests against these views to this extent: he says that the present state of man, rather than the past, is the natural state, and that at least in reverting to the primitive state man becomes unnatural.
The question upon which our discussion of this aspect of war is going to hinge is whether, or in what sense, the activities and the feelings aroused in war are reversions. Wars, beyond a doubt, do involve to a greater extent than peaceful life certain instinctive reactions. Wars are so impulsive and so persistent that we must suppose very deep motives to be engaged in war; and the fact that in all wars, and on both sides of every war, the feelings and the reactions are fundamentally the same, indicates that war is something less differentiated than the peaceful life. But that war can be explained in terms of instinct as such, or that war can be disposed of as a mere recrudescence of old impulses and types of conduct buried beneath civilization, is very much to be doubted. War, in the first place, in its moods and passions, appears to be too complex, too synthetic a process to be quite what this view would imply. It is too intimately related to everything that occurs and exists in present day society. It means too much, concretely and with reference to objects specifically desired for the future. War is related to the past, but to a great extent, it may be, wars represent and contain the present and look toward the future. The distinctions and differences in the interpretation of war thus implied, and the conflicting understanding of facts about society and individual life cannot be very clear at this point, but that there are involved fundamental problems of psychology, and perhaps divergent ways of thinking of history and society, and of such principles of philosophy at least as are implicated in aesthetics, and finally of the practical questions that are of most interest in these fields to-day, may begin to be evident.
There is one aspect of war, or one question about war, that seems to suggest that its problems are more subtle and less simple than the instinct-theories imply. War has been, and still is, the great story of the world, the center of all that is dramatic and heroic in life. Its mood—and that is the essential thing in it, whatever else war may have been, and in spite of all its horrors—is ecstatic. War produces, or is produced by, states of mind that affiliate it with all the other ecstasies—of love, religion, intoxication, art. We may well doubt whether any explanation of war can ever be satisfactory that does not take this quality of it fully into account. One may say, of course, that war is ecstatic just because it does satisfy instincts, that the satisfaction of all instincts is pleasant, or that pleasure is the satisfaction of instincts. But there is more in the problem than that. Love, the source of the other great romance of the world, is not exhausted by calling it a gratification of the sexual instinct, or a primitive tendency of all organic life. It is at the other end of the process of development of it, so to speak, its place as a present motive in life, that it is most significant, and it is by no means explained by calling it a product of sexuality.
So with war. Made out of instincts, it may be, but it is not explained as the sum of instinctive reactions. That, at least, is our thesis. It is the fact that war is a great ecstasy of the social life, that it holds a high place in art, that history—our selective way of reacting upon human experience—is in a large measure the story of war, that its representations in dramatic forms are almost endless in variety; it is such facts that give us our clew to the nature of the problems of war, and also to the practical questions of its future.
Hirschfeld (98), in a short study of war, has enumerated and briefly described some of the forms in which the ecstasy of war appears, or some of the ecstasies that appear in war. He speaks of the ecstasy of heroism, and the ecstatic sense that accompanies the taking part in great events, the consciousness of making history. On a little lower plane there is the excitement of adventure and of travel that gives allurement to the idea of war in the mind of the soldier, and which also glorifies the soldier; the sensation hunger; the cupidus rerum novarum; the ecstasies of nature and freedom, suggested by the very term "in the field." Add to these the ecstasies of battle and of victory, the Kampfsrausch and the Siegestrunkenheit, and the mood of war in which acts unlawful for the individual become not only lawful but highly honorable when done collectively. There is also in the mood of war the social intoxication, the feeling on the part of the individual of being a part of a body and the sense of being lost in a greater whole. The lusts of conquest, and of looting, and of combat, all contribute to this spirit of war. And finally, summing up all the other ecstasies, the strong inner movement of the soul expressing itself in strong external movements, and in the sense of living and dying in the midst of vivid and real life.
Hirschfeld's analysis of the ecstasy of war discloses deep and powerful motives in the individual mind and the social life. We can find this ecstasy everywhere in the history of war, sometimes as a national exaltation, sometimes as a more restricted phenomenon. Villard (54), speaking of the first days of the war, says that in Germany then one could see "the psychology of the crowd at its noblest height." The exaltation of a people, whatever its content, or its purpose, is an awe-inspiring spectacle. There can be no greater display of the sources of human power. In this particular time of exaltation we can see in action religious ecstasy, the cult of valor, and the stirring of more fundamental and more primitive feelings. This exaltation has its imaginative side. There is a dream of empire in it. There is an exhibition of the forms of royalty, its display, its color and its dramatic moments. There is the spirit of militarism and of great adventure, the excitement of chance, of throwing all into the hands of fate, the aesthetic and the play motives which are never separated from the practical passions in times of great exaltation.
This mood of war differs, of course, at different times under different circumstances. The French people certainly went into the great war with no such exaltation. We should have to look elsewhere in French history for the ecstatic war spirit, when the French are moved by the motives of glory and prestige, or by the vanity and eroticism which Reuthe thinks are the essential qualities of the spirit of France. But taking history as a whole there is no lack of ecstasy in the spirit of war. We find in this ecstasy exalted social feeling, joy of overcoming the pain of death, the exultation of sacrifice, love of display, feeling of tragedy, the ecstasy of exerting the utmost of power, love of danger, the gambling motive, the love of battle, love of all the dramatic elements of military life. These separate ecstasies, taken all together, make up the exalted mood of war. They represent war in its most significant moments.
In this mood of war instincts are exhibited, but they seem to be in some way transformed, so that the whole has a meaning different from the parts. The mood of war is not a mere effect, a reaction to events. It is a longing—plastic and indefinite it may be—but looking toward the future. It is a craving, not for the release of definite instincts, but is rather a force or a desire which, however misguided the expression of this mood or this energy may be, is the essence of what individuals and society to-day are. We may find in this mood, upon superficial examination, mere emotions, but in a final and deeper analysis, we may suppose, its content and its meaning will be found to be specific—purposes which constitute what is deepest and most continuous in the individual and in society, but which at the same time give to this mood its generality of direction and of form.
It is the war-mood, then, that must be explained, if we wish to understand the motives and causes of war. And this war mood, so it appears, is related to all the other great ecstasies—of art, religion, intoxication, love. It is, of course, then, a psychological problem, and one having many radiations and deep roots. The view that we are going to take is that in the mood of war we have to do essentially with what, relying upon previous studies of the principles of art and of the motives that are at work in society that produce the phenomena of intemperance we may call the intoxication motive. That this intoxication motive is a plastic force, a mood containing desires and impulses that may be satisfied in a variety of ways, since as a sum of desires it is no longer specific and instinctive, is the main implication of this view. It is this generic quality and compositeness of the purpose of the individual and of the spirit of society that obscures the meaning of history and often makes individual lives so enigmatical, and which also makes these purposes of individuals and nations so persistent, sometimes so terribly forceful and insatiable.
As contrasted with instincts, the motive of intoxication we say, is plastic, and its object—and this is one of its most significant characteristics—is to produce exalted states of consciousness mainly for their own sake. At least this experience of exaltation is the main or central thing sought. It is a tendency to seek exalted states, but at the same time, we should say, specific instincts gain some kind of satisfaction, although not at all necessarily by the performance of the external movements appropriate to them. They may obtain a certain vicarious satisfaction. The mood gives conduct a general direction, it provides a motive and the power, it is the source of interest and of desire, but its objects may be indefinite and variable.
Some general aspects of the moods that we have to consider have already come to light, and these may prove to be valuable clews to a psychological analysis of their content. There is the ecstatic state, and the craving to experience it, the love of excitement, the desire to have a sense of reality, the impulse to seek an abundant life, the love of power and of the feeling of power. These are all related, and at least they have something in common, but it is the last mentioned, the motive of power, that seems to be the most definite and to have the clearest biological meaning and implications. Indeed this motive of power (and we must here again depend upon previous studies of the aesthetic motives and other aspects of ecstasy), appears to be fundamental in art, in religion, and in history. It is a concept that gives us a vantage ground for the interpretation of some of the most significant parts of life. The idea of power and the craving for power as a general motive, but also containing and exploiting specific purposes and desires, runs through all the history of art and religion and also through history itself. Religion is based upon the desire to exert and to feel power, and it is the manifest and indeed the expressly acknowledged purpose of all primitive art, and is concealed and implied in all later art. Art is practical, an effort to realize a sense of power, to become a god (just as in his motive of play the child desires more than anything else to realize himself as a man), to influence people, or objects, or gods, to exert magic somewhere in the world. In the feeling of power which the ecstatic state produces, the belief in the power of art is established, and at the same time deep and hidden impulses are exploited. On the feeling side, and indeed in every way, this ought to explain how art, religion, and all states of intoxication have a common element, if they are not primitively the same.
A psychology of the war moods must undertake to trace the history of the motive of power, considering its beginnings as the desire and sense of satisfaction connected with the performance of definite instinctive acts, and with their physiological results, with the exertion of power and the production of effects upon objects. It is in the performance of instinctive acts, in which superiority is inborn, that animal and man obtain their original sense of power or superiority. As capacities are differentiated and multiplied, the experiences of achievement generate a mood and a more general impulse, a desire to exert power for its own sake. The sensory or organic elements tend to predominate in this generalized motive, simply because the specific actions in which the sense of power is obtained cannot so readily, or cannot at all, be generalized. Such an organization of actions and states in consciousness demands nothing new in principle, implies nothing different from that found on the intellectual side when concepts are formed from concrete experiences. The associative processes and the selective principles everywhere present in mental action are all that are necessary to be assumed here. We may take advantage, however, of the special investigations of affective logic, and the like, as giving evidence in support of such a conception of the formation of moods as is here being worked out. We are likely to make the mistake of thinking the specific instincts and the impulses and pleasure states that we find in human experiences, such as ecstasy, as the whole of these experiences, and to overlook the constant process of generalization that goes on in all the mental activity of the individual. For example, we may think of various plays which involve instinctive actions as being wholly explained by, or to be made up of, these instinctive acts alone, whereas in most plays that take the form of excitement, abandon or ecstasy, there are being employed processes which are general in the sense of reenforcing all the specific acts alike, and are yet specific in the sense that they are themselves, or have been, practical: that is, they are in reality processes that belong to the fundamental strata of consciousness—to the nutritional and reproductive tendencies. Out of these tendencies the more complex processes of which we speak are made, but they are no mere repetition of old forms. That, at least, is the way these ecstatic moods appear from our point of view.
It is precisely because ecstatic moods are presumably thus general and composite, and involve fundamental instincts (but in such a way that they are transformed, and no longer present in body, so to speak, but are represented by their organic processes rather than appearing as specific concatenated chains of motor events), with their purposes changed and their whole meaning determined by the present states to which they belong, that we should be inclined to say that to explain any great and powerful movement in the lives of individuals or nations as merely reversions is very inadequate and indeed wrong. They are emotional forces that are at work, composite feelings and moods rather than instincts. They are aspects of the continuity of the life of the present, rather than of the fragmentary past that lives in the individual. These forces are plastic, complex and organized, rather than haphazard and suppressed. They are directive, creative, but incidentally they make amends for and satisfy and exploit the past.
If these principles be valid, their application to the psychology of war seems plain. The central purpose or motive of war to-day is a craving for the realization of the sense of power. This is the subjective side of it, the unconscious, instinctive, mystical motive so often observed. The question of the actual power exerted or displayed is not the most essential point of this war mood. It is the manipulation and the satisfaction of inner factors that make the most significant aspect of these moods. History, we should hold, is in great part an unfoldment of this motive. Nations crave, as collective or group consciousness, the feeling of power. Just as we say the child in his plays wants to be a man, and the individual in his art feels himself a god, so nations in their wars and in their thoughts of wars, feel themselves more real, realize themselves as world powers, and as supreme and divine. To be first and all is indeed the purpose that runs in these moods, and this we believe is true, in its way, of the most insignificant and hopelessly decrepit of peoples. This must be taken account of in the interpretation of history, and in that larger pedagogy, the pedagogy of nations to which we just now look forward.
These moods which, slumbering, become the ecstasies of war are vague, even secretive. They contain aggressive thoughts that are disavowed, vanities that are concealed, fears that present a quiet front. But we must not think that the war mood always intends war. Nations have their subjective lives and inner history, and their vicarious satisfactions. A nation in arms already feels itself victor by reason of its sense of power. Otherwise few wars would be entered upon. Dreams and talk of war may incite to war, but they may also satisfy the desire and need of war. There is a certain narcissism in nations, and this is due precisely to the fact that patriotism as a feeling and impulse necessarily lacks in the group consciousness the mechanisms for externalization, except indeed in war. War is an escape, for a people, from a kind of subjectivism, from the evils of a self-love to perhaps the greater evils of self-assertion.
Nations in war, and even in the thought of war realize their own potentiality, take account of stock of their powers, and create an ideal, romantic and dream world. They make castles-in-air, and these castles-in-air always take the form of empires. War, precisely like art, is at first more and then less practical, and sought for practical purposes. More and more there is a craving for glory, for prestige, for subjective satisfaction and symbols of power. Nations take lands that they cannot use for any good purpose, inflict indemnities that may ruin themselves rather than their enemies, exploit economic relations that are dangerous to the nations' very existence. It is power that they seek, and it is power they thus create, but it is often different in form and in value from what the conscious purpose holds. They are really seeking general and subjective states in part for their own sake. Psychologically it is all one and the same whether we realize this power by actually killing an enemy, or believe we overpower him by the performance of some mystic and ecstatic act, or in some more modern way become confident in our own power and prestige. National life, in order to maintain its integrity, must move upon a plane of intense feeling. It must have objectives, but these objectives are not necessarily of value in themselves. This is the delusion and enigma of history. Peoples enact dramas in their own subjective lives, and these things they do have reference to the desires for inner experiences. We may say that nations, like individuals, crave for luxuries of the emotional life, but to think of these experiences as merely static pleasure-states, after the fashion of a certain conception of the emotions, would be wholly to misunderstand this view which we have been trying to present. These subjective states are full of meaning and of purpose. They are not reactions, but rather, in so far as these collective lives are normal and progressive, these moods and ecstasies are more of the nature of crucibles in which old reactions and feelings are fused, given new direction, new forms and in a certain way a new nature. History is made in these moods of war. They are subjective forces, but they are also objectively creative.
What is it that nations really desire? What is it, we might ask, that an individual desires? On the side of experience it is an abundant life, a life full of the feeling of power. This craving for an abundant life is a craving for the satisfaction of many desires, instinctive and acquired, but it is also a craving, in some sense, for more desire. It is not merely to satisfy desires, but to realize more life by creating more desires that experience is sought. That is the philosophy of the life of the superior individual; it is also the principle of the larger individual—the nation. The creation and the satisfaction of desire are the motives of art. They are also the motives of life.
In history, it is the intangible value, the unconscious purpose, the desire to realize empires that are only in part material, the desire for glory and prestige and opportunity that seem to be the guiding motives. There is a general and plastic purpose beneath all the special tendencies and desires directing interest toward specific objects, and also sometimes making the objectives sought indefinite and the purposes in seeking them seem mystical. It is the desire to be a power in the world, or rather to have power over the world, and to experience all the inner exaltation these desires inspire that appears to be the creative force in history. These things, moreover, are not the desires and impulses of the geniuses among nations alone; they seem to be inherent in all national life.
Study of the intoxication motive in the individual and as a social phenomenon shows that it is not an expression of the need of relaxation from strain, or a reversion, or something that occurs by a mere release of primitive instincts. It occurs in the great periods of history, and in the strong years of the life of the individual, rather than in times of weakness. It is always a spirit of the times rather than of some past reverted to. It may occur in times of disorder or of repression, but it is an experience in which energy and power are expressed. We see it most dominant when life is most abundant, when there is also a craving to make life more abundant still, when there is already power and more power is longed for. It is true, however, that two opposite conditions may produce the strongest manifestations of this intoxication motive. Something analogous to these conditions we see in the lives of individuals, in the phenomena of intemperance, which belong in general to the virile years. Social ecstasy is produced in times when there is already a free expression of energy, but also under conditions that cause pain, disorder and repression. Under the latter conditions we think of it not as desire for relief from strain but desire to be released from obstacles that impede the expression of the growth force. If all this be true, we see war in a somewhat different light from that in which it is ordinarily regarded. It is not, in its typical forms, a reversion to barbarism, and it is not a political mishap. It is rather a readjustment of tendencies or forces and an expression and product of the living and progressive forces of society—not necessarily a good or even a normal expression of them, but an awakening and a realization of such desires as are to-day at work in everything we do—forces which for the moment are raised to a white heat, so to speak, in which purposes are for the moment fused and it may be confused—but still an expression of what, for better or for worse we are, not of what in some remote past time we were. We cannot explain war or excuse ourselves for waging wars by saying that we lapse for a time into barbarism, but on the other hand the heroism we suddenly find in ourselves as nations or as individuals, is not so different from that of ordinary life as we may have supposed. We have perhaps no right to say that all war is thus to be characterized. War is a very complex and a widely variable phenomenon, but this is the explanation of that aspect of the motive of history which in general produces war. War may have its abnormalities, if we may speak of a worse in that which is already bad enough. War may satisfy the desperate mind; it may, on occasion, be a narcotic to cover up worse pain, or an evidence of decadence; or even be what those who think of it as a reversion believe. But all these aspects of war, if our view be sound, are the eccentricities rather than the essence of war.
The conditions preceding our recent great war will doubtless in the course of future historical and sociological research, be minutely scrutinized, in the effort to find the causes of the war—factors deeper than and different from the political and economic causes and the personal intrigues that are now most emphasized. If we believe that the war was made in Germany rather than elsewhere, we might look there, especially for these psychological factors of war—for our intoxication motives and unconscious impulses and our causes of reversion, but we should probably not find anything different in kind there from what we should discover in other great countries. Those who have seen in modern industrialism dangers of coming disaster, or who now look back upon it as a genuine cause of the war were probably not mistaken. Industrialism has been producing rapidly, and in an intense form, what we may call the mood of the city, and this mood of the city contains all the conditions and all the emotions that tend to bring to the surface the deep-lying motives of the social life that we are trying to point out. There are both the joy of the abundant life, the craving for new experiences, and the sense of reality, and also the disorganization of interests and motives, the stress and fatigue and monotony which prepare the mind for culmination in dramatic events. There is, in a word, a deep stirring of all the forces that make for progress and expansion, and also conditions that disorganize the individual and the social life. Lamprecht (59) of all German writers seems to have appreciated this. He has written before the war, describing a condition in Germany which he says began in the seventies of the preceding century—a change of German life in which there is a great increase of the activities of the cities, with haste and anxiety, unscrupulous individual energy, general nervous excitement, a condition of neuro-muscular weakness (and he might have added as another sign, over-stimulation of the mind by a great flood of morbid literature).
In Lamprecht's opinion, this period of excitement, this strong tendency to the enjoyment of excitation in general, is a form of socio-psychic dissociation. It is a period of relative disorganization, when the individual is subjected to a great variety of new experiences, when outside influences prevail over the inner impulses of the individual, in which the individual is unsettled and there is a tendency toward pessimism and melancholia. Lamprecht thinks of this state as something transitory, and already as he writes (in 1905) nearing an end. This state of continuous excitement, with its shallow pathos of the individual and its constant and superficial happiness, its worship of the novel and the extraordinary, the suggestibility and the receptivity of the masses, automatic action of the will and the emotions—all this Lamprecht thinks will pass. It is a stage in the process of a new formation. The very elements of dissociation are positively charged, so to speak, and contain creative power. A new system of morals, a new philosophy, new religion begin to emerge. There is a strong effort to reach a new dominant.
This is Lamprecht's psychological interpretation of recent German history. This view and the various aspects of the condition which Lamprecht describes, the relation of the materialism, the pessimism and the melancholy of such a time to the optimistic trends and the deep forward movement need a closer study than we can here give it, but may we not see in it the truth that such conditions as these are prone to cause wars as a phase of the process of the inner adjustment of national life? Wars occur as forms of expression of those impulses which appear in the individual life in times of rapid growth and relative dissociation as outbreaks of intemperance and passion—a culmination, according to our view and terminology, of the intoxication motive. Industrialism itself is perhaps but one manifestation of deep impulses in the life of nations; it is at once an intensification and a formalizing of life. Hence perhaps its paradoxical appearance as an increase of both joy and distress. There is nothing in it that is wholly satisfying.
Germany, says Lamprecht, was seeking, in this transition period, a new dominant, a new religion and a new philosophy. But Germany, let us help Lamprecht to say, since he does not himself draw this conclusion, has failed to emerge upon the level of an exalted ecstasy, failed to produce the philosophical, the moral and religious fruit of its new impulses, failed, in a word, to find its dominant on a high level, precisely as often the promising individual fails and has expressed his truly great nature in low forms of activity. So Germany, and the world, dominated by industrialism and all the desires and forces that the rapid development of industrialism has brought into action, has come to a culmination of its efforts in an outbreak unparalleled in history. On the side of Germany we see a nation governed by a mood of war in which the chief modes of thought and action represented are the pseudo-mystical and religious longings for new empire, romantic love of the past, militarism, and all the motives of the new industrialism and the new science. The best motives of the old feudalism and the new industrialism tried to unite, as we might say, into a new and very great civilization—and they failed. What has happened is that the material powers and the cynical moods of industrialism have combined with the mystical elements and the superficial aestheticism of the old feudalistic regime to create a philosophy of life, a temporary stage it may be, in which force and fanaticism and the uncompromising ideals of national honor and brute strength prevail over those of a wider efficiency and a broader devotion which might have inspired a greater and a better Germany. Convention and political motives have done the rest.
Bergson says that in the war spirit of Germany one sees matter arrayed against spirit. One can see some truth in this, but spirit and matter are not two armies pitted against one another. In Germany, as we may believe elsewhere, the spiritual in the sense of creative forces in the subconscious life of nations does try to organize the practical life, with its routine and convention, into an onward moving progress, in which, necessarily, exalted moods (if energies are to get themselves expressed at all) must prevail, and must be full of possibilities, both of great good and of great evil. Life in its collective form will be abundant, because that is its most fundamental craving. It may be terribly and destructively abundant, or benignly, but progress, as history seems to show us—if reason and psychology do not—can never be orderly and complacent. Order and convention must break down to introduce new spirit and new desires which are continually being created in the inner life. These forces may be old instincts which are continually upsetting civilized life, but the desires they produce and the mechanism of their operation seem to be different from what our customary psychology and interpretation of history imply. Just as these moods make the child play and be wholly unpractical when one might suppose he could be useful, and the individual, as man, live a certain life of adventure rather than in security and routine, so this spirit or mood that dominates nations makes them imperialistic, and causes them to crave those things which lead toward war, if they do not crave war itself, when we might think they ought to be most concerned about the economic welfare of the world as a whole.
Whether this spirit of nations be an evil to be overcome, and to suppress, or an untamed force to direct to right objects, or a good that by some logic of events which we do not understand works out the right course of history, we do not know. But here, of course, we come to problems, which, if they are problems at all in any real sense, are philosophical and ultimate.
INSTINCTS IN WAR: FEAR, HATE, THE AGGRESSIVE IMPULSE, MOTIVES OF COMBAT AND DESTRUCTION, THE SOCIAL INSTINCT
We have found that the essential, and we might say, primary psychological datum of war is a war-mood, that the central motive of this war-mood is a general impulse which we called the intoxication motive, and that this intoxication motive, considered generically, and in regard to its specific meaning is a craving for power and for the experience of exerting and feeling power. The war-mood is not a mere collection of instincts; it is a new product, in which instincts and emotions have a place. There are several reasons, practical and theoretical, for regarding it as a highly important problem to discover what the actual content of this war-mood is. This mood, being one of the greatest of all powers of good and evil, and one most in need to-day of education and re-direction, it may be, it will probably be controlled, if ever, upon the basis of a knowledge of what it means as a whole, and of what its elements are which appear in the form of fused, transformed, truncated, generalized and aborted instincts and feelings.
First of all, the highly complex emotions, moods and impulses we find in the social consciousness as expressed in the moods of war, do contain and revert to instincts and feelings that are part of the primitive equipment of organic life, and are usually identified as nutritional and reproductive tendencies. The part played in war by the migratory impulse, the predatory impulse and the like indicates the connection of the war-moods with the nutritional tendencies; and the display elements found already in primitive warfare and, as we have already inferred, in all forms of ecstasy contain factors that are at bottom sexual. We no longer eat our enemies, and we do not bring home their heads to our women or practice wife stealing, but it is easy to observe the remnants of these old feelings and instincts in war. Trophy hunting continues, and we may suppose that even the moods of primitive cannibalism have not entirely been lost. The ready habituation of soldiers to some of the scenes of the recent war seems to suggest a lingering trace of this motive, while the looting impulse which plays such a part in war, and some aspects of the destructive impulses and the like that are displayed, are, with a high degree of probability, closely related to instincts that were once specifically practical and belong to the fundamental nutritional motives. Nor is it a mere euphemism, perhaps, when we speak of the greed of nations, nor solely analogical when we compare the ambitions of peoples with certain adolescent phenomena in the life of the individual. Plainly the social consciousness, as a collective mood, does not command the specific reactions connected with sexuality and nutrition, but we may observe the presence of these instinctive reactions in two phases of war. We see them in the tendencies of various individuals, who under the excitements of the war moods are controlled more or less specifically by instinctive reactions. We see also fragments of instinctive reactions and primitive feeling woven into the total states of social consciousness. The hunger motive may, and probably does, supply some of the elements of the fear and the aggressive moods of war; just as the sex motive provides some of the elements of anger and hatred, and some of the qualities of combat itself.
The Aggressive Instinct
A natural, but somewhat naive explanation of war is that it is a survival of the aggressive instinct that man has brought up with him from animal life, in which he originated, and that very early in his career was directed toward his fellow men. This aggressive instinct as expressed in the modern spirit of war does not need, on this view, to be thought of as something reverted to. It is still active throughout the social life. Both the purposes and the methods of it remain. We have referred to one aspect of this before, and to the objection that can be made that the ancestry of man does not show us such an aggressive instinct. The nearest relatives of man are mainly social rather than aggressive in their habits. Even the habits of hunting other animals and eating animal food appear to have been acquired during man's career as man, and he never has had the aggressive temper that some creatures have had. Man has acquired a very effectual and very complex adjustment to his environment by piecing together, so to speak, fragments of his original conduct, and developing mechanisms that have been produced in the race as a means of satisfying fundamental needs. Modes of reaction produced originally for one purpose have apparently been utilized by other motives. Of course the more specific animal instincts are not wholly lacking, but it is also true that man through his social life has produced habits that resemble or are substitutes for primitive instincts. The love of combat, especially as it is shown in play indicates the presence of instinctive roots, but it does not show the existence of a definite instinct of aggression. This play is in part an off-shoot of the reproductive motive. These fighting plays of children are in part sexual plays, and we see them clearly in their true light in some of the higher mammals most closely related to man.