The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Ethics of Co÷peration, by James Hayden Tufts

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Title: The Ethics of Co÷peration

Author: James Hayden Tufts

Release Date: July 25, 2009 [eBook #29508]

Language: English

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Barbara Weinstock Lectures on
The Morals of Trade














The Riverside Press Cambridge



Published September 1918


This series will contain essays by representative scholars and men of affairs dealing with the various phases of the moral law in its bearing on business life under the new economic order, first delivered at the University of California on the Weinstock foundation.



According to Plato's famous myth, two gifts of the gods equipped man for living: the one, arts and inventions to supply him with the means of livelihood; the other, reverence and justice to be the ordering principles of societies and the bonds of friendship and conciliation. Agencies for mastery over nature and agencies for coöperation among men remain the two great sources of human power. But after two thousand years, it is possible to note an interesting fact as to their relative order of development in civilization. Nearly all the great skills and inventions that had been acquired up to the eighteenth century were brought into man's service at a very early date. The use of fire, the arts of weaver, potter, and metal worker, of sailor, hunter, fisher, and sower, early fed man and clothed him. These were carried to higher perfection by Egyptian and Greek, by Tyrian and Florentine, but it would be difficult to point to any great new unlocking of material resources until the days of the chemist and electrician. Domestic animals and crude water mills were for centuries in man's service, and until steam was harnessed, no additions were made of new powers.

During this long period, however, the progress of human association made great and varied development. The gap between the men of Santander's caves, or early Egypt, and the civilization of a century ago is bridged rather by union of human powers, by the needs and stimulating contacts of society, than by conquest in the field of nature. It was in military, political, and religious organization that the power of associated effort was first shown. Army, state, and hierarchy were its visible representatives. Then, a little over a century ago, began what we call the industrial revolution, still incomplete, which combined new natural forces with new forms of human association. Steam, electricity, machines, the factory system, railroads: these suggest the natural forces at man's disposal; capital, credit, corporations, labor unions: these suggest the bringing together of men and their resources into units for exploiting or controlling the new natural forces. Sometimes resisting the political, military, or ecclesiastical forces which were earlier in the lead, sometimes mastering them, sometimes combining with them, economic organization has now taken its place in the world as a fourth great structure, or rather as a fourth great agency through which man achieves his greater tasks, and in so doing becomes conscious of hitherto unrealized powers.

Early in this great process of social organization three divergent types emerged, which still contend for supremacy in the worlds of action and of valuation: dominance, competition, and coöperation. All mean a meeting of human forces. They rest respectively on power, rivalry, and sympathetic interchange. Each may contribute to human welfare. On the other hand, each may be taken so abstractly as to threaten human values. I hope to point out that the greatest of these is coöperation, and that it is largely the touchstone for the others.

Coöperation and dominance both mean organization. Dominance implies inequality, direction and obedience, superior and subordinate. Coöperation implies some sort of equality, some mutual relation. It does not exclude difference in ability or in function. It does not exclude leadership, for leadership is usually necessary to make coöperation effective. But in dominance the special excellence is kept isolated; ideas are transmitted from above downward. In coöperation there is interchange, currents flowing in both directions, contacts of mutual sympathy, rather than of pride-humility, condescension-servility. The purpose of the joint pursuit in organization characterized by dominance may be either the exclusive good of the master or the joint good of the whole organized group, but in any case it is a purpose formed and kept by those few who know. The group may share in its execution and its benefits, but not in its construction or in the estimating and forecasting of its values. The purpose in coöperation is joint. Whether originally suggested by some leader of thought or action, or whether a composite of many suggestions in the give and take of discussion or in experiences of common need, it is weighed and adopted as a common end. It is not the work or possession of leaders alone, but embodies in varying degrees the work and active interest of all.

Coöperation and competition at first glance may seem more radically opposed. For while dominance and coöperation both mean union of forces, competition appears to mean antagonism. They stand for combination; it for exclusion of one by another. Yet a deeper look shows that this is not true of competition in what we may call its social, as contrasted with its unsocial, aspect. The best illustration of what I venture to call social competition is sport. Here is rivalry, and here in any given contest one wins, the other loses, or few win and many lose. But the great thing in sport is not to win; the great thing is the game, the contest; and the contest is no contest unless the contestants are so nearly equal as to forbid any certainty in advance as to which will win. The best sport is found when no one contestant wins too often. There is in reality a common purpose—the zest of contest. Players combine and compete to carry out this purpose; and the rules are designed so to restrict the competition as to rule out certain kinds of action and preserve friendly relations. The contending rivals are in reality uniting to stimulate each other. Without the coöperation there would be no competition, and the competition is so conducted as to continue the relation. Competition in the world of thought is similarly social. In efforts to reach a solution of a scientific problem or to discuss a policy, the spur of rivalry or the matching of wits aids the common purpose of arriving at the truth. Similar competition exists in business. Many a firm owes its success to the competition of its rivals which has forced it to be efficient, progressive. As a manufacturing friend once remarked to me: "When the other man sells cheaper, you generally find he has found out something you don't know."

But we also apply the term "competition" to rivalry in which there is no common purpose; to contests in which there is no intention to continue or repeat the match, and in which no rules control. Weeds compete with flowers and crowd them out. The factory competes with the hand loom and banishes it. The trust competes with the small firm and puts it out of business. The result is monopoly. When plants or inventions are thus said to compete for a place, there is frequently no room for both competitors, and no social gain by keeping both in the field. Competition serves here sometimes as a method of selection, although no one would decide to grow weeds rather than flowers because weeds are more efficient. In the case of what are called natural monopolies, there is duplication of effort instead of coöperation. Competition is here wasteful. But when we have to do, not with a specific product, or with a fixed field such as that of street railways or city lighting, but with the open field of invention and service, we need to provide for continuous coöperation, and competition seems at least one useful agency. To retain this, we frame rules against "unfair competition." As the rules of sport are designed to place a premium upon certain kinds of strength and skill which make a good game, so the rules of fair competition are designed to secure efficiency for public service, and to exclude efficiency in choking or fouling. In unfair competition there is no common purpose of public service or of advancing skill or invention; hence, no coöperation. The coöperative purpose or result is thus the test of useful, as contrasted with wasteful or harmful, competition.

There is also an abstract conception of coöperation, which, in its one-sided emphasis upon equality, excludes any form of leadership, or direction, and in fear of inequality allows no place for competition. Selection of rulers by lot in a large and complex group is one illustration; jealous suspicion of ability, which becomes a cult of incompetence, is another. Refusals to accept inventions which require any modification of industry, or to recognize any inequalities of service, are others. But these do not affect the value of the principle as we can now define it in preliminary fashion: union tending to secure common ends, by a method which promotes equality, and with an outcome of increased power shared by all.


What are we to understand by the Ethics of Coöperation? Can we find some external standard of unquestioned value or absolute duty by which to measure the three processes of society which we have named, dominance, competition, coöperation? Masters of the past have offered many such, making appeal to the logic of reason or the response of sentiment, to the will for mastery or the claim of benevolence. To make a selection without giving reasons would seem arbitrary; to attempt a reasoned discussion would take us quite beyond the bounds appropriate to this lecture. But aside from the formulations of philosophers, humanity has been struggling—often rather haltingly and blindly—for certain goods and setting certain sign-posts which, if they do not point to a highway, at least mark certain paths as blind alleys. Such goods I take to be the great words, liberty, power, justice; such signs of blind paths I take to be rigidity, passive acceptance of what is.

But those great words, just because they are so great, are given various meanings by those who would claim them for their own. Nor is there complete agreement as to just what paths deserve to be posted as leading nowhere. Groups characterized by dominance, cut-throat competition, or coöperation, tend to work out each its own interpretations of liberty, power, justice; its own code for the conduct of its members. Without assuming to decide your choice, I can indicate briefly what the main elements in these values and codes are.

The group of masters and servants will develop what we have learned to call a morality of masters and a morality of slaves. This was essentially the code of the feudal system. We have survivals of such a group morality in our code of the gentleman, which in England still depreciates manual labor, although it has been refined and softened and enlarged to include respect for other than military and sportsman virtues. The code of masters exalts liberty—for the ruling class—and resents any restraint by inferiors or civilians, or by public opinion of any group but its own. It has a justice which takes for its premise a graded social order, and seeks to put and keep every man in his place. But its supreme value is power, likewise for the few, or for the state as consisting of society organized and directed by the ruling class. Such a group, according to Treitschke, will also need war, in order to test and exhibit its power to the utmost in fierce struggle with other powers. It will logically honor war as good.

A group practicing cut-throat competition will simply reverse the order: first, struggle to put rivals out of the field; then, monopoly with unlimited power to control the market or possess the soil. It appeals to nature's struggle for existence as its standard for human life. It too sets a high value upon liberty in the sense of freedom from control, but originating as it did in resistance to control by privilege and other aspects of dominance, it has never learned the defects of a liberty which takes no account of ignorance, poverty, and ill health. It knows the liberty of nature, the liberty of the strong and the swift, but not the liberty achieved by the common effort for all. It knows justice, but a justice which is likely to be defined as securing to each his natural liberty, and which therefore means non-interference with the struggle for existence except to prevent violence and fraud. It takes no account as to whether the struggle kills few or many, or distributes goods widely or sparingly, or whether indeed there is any room at the table which civilization spreads; though it does not begrudge charity if administered under that name.

A coöperating group has two working principles: first, common purpose and common good; second, that men can achieve by common effort what they cannot accomplish singly. The first, reinforced by the actual interchange of ideas and services, tends to favor equality. It implies mutual respect, confidence, and good-will. The second favors a constructive and progressive attitude, which will find standards neither in nature nor in humanity's past, since it conceives man able to change conditions to a considerable extent and thus to realize new goods.

These principles tend toward a type of liberty different from those just mentioned. As contrasted with the liberty of a dominant group, coöperation favors a liberty for all, a liberty of live and let live, a tolerance and welcome for variation in type, provided only this is willing to make its contribution to the common weal. Instead of imitation or passive acceptance of patterns on the part of the majority, it stimulates active construction. As contrasted with the liberty favored in competing groups, coöperation would emphasize positive control over natural forces, over health conditions, over poverty and fear. It would make each person share as fully as possible in the knowledge and strength due to combined effort, and thus liberate him from many of the limitations which have hitherto hampered him.

Similarly with justice. Coöperation's ethics of distribution is not rigidly set by the actual interest and rights of the past on the one hand, nor by hitherto available resources on the other. Neither natural rights nor present ability and present service form a complete measure. Since coöperation evokes new interests and new capacities, it is hospitable to new claims and new rights; since it makes new sources of supply available, it has in view the possibility at least of doing better for all than can an abstract insistence upon old claims. It may often avoid the deadlock of a rigid system. It is better to grow two blades of grass than to dispute who shall have the larger fraction of the one which has previously been the yield. It is better, not merely because there is more grass, but also because men's attitude becomes forward-looking and constructive, not pugnacious and rigid.

Power is likewise a value in a coöperating group, but it must be power not merely used for the good of all, but to some extent controlled by all and thus actually shared. Only as so controlled and so shared is power attended by the responsibility which makes it safe for its possessors. Only on this basis does power over other men permit the free choices on their part which are essential to full moral life.

As regards the actual efficiency of a coöperating group, it may be granted that its powers are not so rapidly mobilized. In small, homogeneous groups, the loss of time is small; in large groups the formation of public opinion and the conversion of this into action is still largely a problem rather than an achievement. New techniques have to be developed, and it may be that for certain military tasks the military technique will always be more efficient. To the coöperative group, however, this test will not be the ultimate ethical test. It will rather consider the possibilities of substituting for war other activities in which coöperation is superior. And if the advocate of war insists that war as such is the most glorious and desirable type of life, coöperation may perhaps fail to convert him. But it may hope to create a new order whose excellence shall be justified of her children.


A glance at the past rôles of dominance, competition, and coöperation in the institutions of government, religion, and commerce and industry, will aid us to consider coöperation in relation to present international problems.

Primitive tribal life had elements of each of the three principles we have named. But with discovery by some genius of the power of organization for war the principle of dominance won, seemingly at a flash, a decisive position. No power of steam or lightning has been so spectacular and wide-reaching as the power which Egyptian, Assyrian, Macedonian, Roman, and their modern successors introduced and controlled. Political states owing their rise to military means naturally followed the military pattern. The sharp separation between ruler or ruling group and subject people, based on conquest, was perpetuated in class distinction. Gentry and simple, lord and villein, were indeed combined in exploitation of earth's resources, but coöperation was in the background, mastery in the fore. And when empires included peoples of various races and cultural advance the separation between higher and lower became intensified. Yet though submerged for long periods, the principle of coöperation has asserted itself, step by step and it seldom loses ground. Beginning usually in some group which at first combined to resist dominance, it has made its way through such stages as equality before the law, abolition of special privileges, extension of suffrage, influence of public sentiment, interchange of ideas, toward genuine participation by all in the dignity and responsibility of political power. It builds a Panama Canal, it maintains a great system of education, and has, we may easily believe, yet greater tasks in prospect. It may be premature to predict its complete displacement of dominance in our own day as a method of government, yet who in America doubts its ultimate prevalence?

Religion presents a fascinating mixture of coöperation with dominance on the one hand, and exclusiveness on the other. The central fact is the community, which seeks some common end in ritual, or in beneficent activity. But at an early period leaders became invested, or invested themselves, with a sanctity which led to dominance. Not the power of force, but that of mystery and the invisible raised the priest above the level of the many. And, on another side, competition between rival national religions, like that between states, excluded friendly contacts. Jew and Samaritan had no dealings; between the followers of Baal and Jehovah there was no peace but by extermination. Yet it was religion which confronted the Herrenmoral with the first reversal of values, and declared, "So shall it not be among you. But whosoever will be great among you let him be your minister." And it was religion which cut across national boundaries in its vision of what Professor Royce so happily calls the Great Community. Protest against dominance resulted, however, in divisions, and although coöperation in practical activities has done much to prepare the way for national understanding, the hostile forces of the world to-day lack the restraint which might have come from a united moral sentiment and moral will.

In the economic field the story of dominance, coöperation, and competition is more complex than in government and religion. It followed somewhat different courses in trade and in industry. The simplest way to supply needs with goods is to go and take them; the simplest way to obtain services is to seize them. Dominance in the first case gives piracy and plunder, when directed against those without; fines and taxes, when exercised upon those within; in the second case, it gives slavery or forced levies. But trade, as a voluntary exchange of presents, or as a bargaining for mutual advantage, had likewise its early beginnings. Carried on at first with timidity and distrust, because the parties belonged to different groups, it has developed a high degree of mutual confidence between merchant and customer, banker and client, insurer and insured. By its system of contracts and fiduciary relations, which bind men of the most varying localities, races, occupations, social classes, and national allegiance, it has woven a new net of human relations far more intricate and wide-reaching than the natural ties of blood kinship. It rests upon mutual responsibility and good faith; it is a constant force for their extension.

The industrial side of the process has had similar influence toward union. Free craftsmen in the towns found mutual support in guilds, when as yet the farm laborer or villein had to get on as best he could unaided. The factory system itself has been largely organized from above down. It has very largely assumed that the higher command needs no advice or ideas from below. Hours of labor, shop conditions, wages, have largely been fixed by "orders," just as governments once ruled by decrees. But as dominance in government has led men to unite against the new power and then has yielded to the more complete coöperation of participation, so in industry the factory system has given rise to the labor movement. As for the prospects of fuller coöperation, this may be said already to have displaced the older autocratic system within the managing group, and the war is giving an increased impetus to extension of the process.

Exchange of goods and services is indeed a threefold coöperation: it meets wants which the parties cannot themselves satisfy or cannot well satisfy; it awakens new wants; it calls new inventions and new forces into play. It thus not only satisfies man's existing nature, but enlarges his capacity for enjoyment and his active powers. It makes not only for comfort, but for progress.


If trade and industry, however, embody so fully the principle of coöperation, how does it come about that they have on the whole had a rather low reputation, not only among the class groups founded on militarism, but among philosophers and moralists? Why do we find the present calamities of war charged to economic causes? Perhaps the answer to these questions will point the path along which better coöperation may be expected.

There is, from the outset, one defect in the coöperation between buyer and seller, employer and laborer. The coöperation is largely unintended. Each is primarily thinking of his own advantage, rather than that of the other, or of the social whole; he is seeking it in terms of money, which as a material object must be in the pocket of one party or of the other, and is not, like friendship or beauty, sharable. Mutual benefit is the result of exchange—it need not be the motive. This benefit comes about as if it were arranged by an invisible hand, said Adam Smith. Indeed, it was long held that if one of the bargainers gained, the other must lose. And when under modern conditions labor is considered as a commodity to be bought and sold in the cheapest market by an impersonal corporate employer, there is a strong presumption against the coöperative attitude on either side.

The great problem here is, therefore: How can men be brought to seek consciously what now they unintentionally produce? How can the man whose ends are both self-centered and ignoble be changed into the man whose ends are wide and high? Something may doubtless be done by showing that a narrow selfishness is stupid. If we rule out monopoly the best way to gain great success is likely to lie through meeting needs of a great multitude; and to meet these effectively implies entering by imagination and sympathy into their situation. The business maxim of "service," the practices of refunding money if goods are unsatisfactory, of one price to all, of providing sanitary and even attractive factories and homes, and of paying a minimum wage far in excess of the market price, have often proved highly remunerative. Yet, I should not place exclusive, and perhaps not chief, reliance on these methods of appeal. They are analogous to the old maxim, honesty is the best policy; and we know too well that while this holds under certain conditions,—that is, among intelligent people, or in the long run,—it is often possible to acquire great gains by exploiting the weak, deceiving the ignorant, or perpetrating a fraud of such proportions that men forget its dishonesty in admiration at its audacity. In the end it is likely to prove that the level of economic life is to be raised not by proving that coöperation will better satisfy selfish and ignoble interests, but rather by creating new standards for measuring success, new interests in social and worthy ends, and by strengthening the appeal of duty where this conflicts with present interests. The one method stakes all on human nature as it is; the other challenges man's capacity to listen to new appeals and respond to better motives. It is, if you please, idealism; but before it is dismissed as worthless, consider what has been achieved in substituting social motives in the field of political action. There was a time when the aim in political life was undisguisedly selfish. The state, in distinction from the kinship group or the village community, was organized for power and profit. It was nearly a gigantic piratical enterprise, highly profitable to its managers. The shepherd, says Thrasymachus in Plato's dialogue, does not feed his sheep for their benefit, but for his own. Yet now, what president or minister, legislator or judge, would announce as his aim to acquire the greatest financial profit from his position? Even in autocratically governed countries, it is at least the assumption that the good of the state does not mean solely the prestige and wealth of the ruler.

A great social and political order has been built up, and we all hold that it must not be exploited for private gain. It has not been created or maintained by chance. Nor could it survive if every man sought primarily his own advantage and left the commonwealth to care for itself. Nor in a democracy would it be maintained, provided the governing class alone were disinterested, deprived of private property, and given education, as Plato suggested. The only safety is in the general and intelligent desire for the public interest and common welfare. At this moment almost unanimous acceptance of responsibility for what we believe to be the public good and the maintenance of American ideals—though it brings to each of us sacrifice and to many the full measure of devotion—bears witness to the ability of human nature to adopt as its compelling motives a high end which opposes private advantage.

Is the economic process too desperate a field for larger motives? To me it seems less desperate than the field of government in the days of autocratic kings. One great need is to substitute a different standard of success for the financial gains which have seemed the only test. Our schools of commerce are aiming to perform this service, by introducing professional standards. A physician is measured by his ability to cure the sick, an engineer by the soundness of his bridge and ship; why not measure a railroad president by his ability to supply coal in winter, to run trains on time, and decrease the cost of freight, rather than by his private accumulations? Why not measure a merchant or banker by similar tests?

Mankind has built up a great economic system. Pioneer, adventurer, inventor, scientist, laborer, organizer, all have contributed. It is as essential to human welfare as the political system, and like that system it comes to us as an inheritance. I can see no reason why it should be thought unworthy of a statesman or a judge to use the political structure for his own profit, but perfectly justifiable for a man to exploit the economic structure for private gain. This does not necessarily exclude profit as a method of paying for services, and of increasing capital needed for development, but it would seek to adjust profits to services, and treat capital, just as it regards political power, as a public trust in need of coöperative regulation and to be used for the general welfare.

But the war is teaching with dramatic swiftness what it might have needed decades of peace to bring home to us. We are thinking of the common welfare. High prices may still be a rough guide to show men's needs, but we are learning to raise wheat because others need it—not merely because the price is high. Prices may also be a rough guide to consumption, but we are learning that eating wheat or sugar is not merely a matter of what I can afford. It is a question of whether I take wheat or sugar away from some one else who needs it—the soldier in France, the child in Belgium, the family of my less fortunate neighbor. The great argument for not interfering with private exchange in all such matters has been that if prices should by some authority be kept low in time of scarcity, men would consume the supply too rapidly; whereas if prices rise in response to scarcity, men at once begin to economize and so prevent the total exhaustion of the supply. We now reflect that if prices of milk rise it does not mean uniform economy—it means cutting off to a large degree the children of the poor and leaving relatively untouched the consumption of the well-to-do. Merely raising the price of meat or wheat means taking these articles from the table of one class to leave them upon the table of another. War, requiring, as it does, the united strength and purpose of the whole people, has found this method antiquated. In Europe governments have said to their peoples: we must all think of the common weal; we must all share alike. In this country, the appeal of the food administrator, though largely without force of law, has been loyally answered by the great majority. It is doubtless rash to predict how much peace will retain of what war has taught, but who of us will again say so easily, "My work or leisure, my economy or my luxury, is my own affair, if I can afford it?" Who can fail to see that common welfare comes not without common intention?

The second great defect in our economic order, from the point of view of coöperation, has been the inequality of its distribution. This has been due largely to competition when parties were unequal, not merely in their ability, but in their opportunity. And the most serious, though not the most apparent, aspect of this inequality, has not been that some have more comfort or luxuries to enjoy; it is the fact that wealth means power. In so far as it can set prices on all that we eat, wear, and enjoy, it is controlling the intimate affairs of life more thoroughly than any government ever attempted. In so far as it controls natural resources, means of transportation, organization of credit, and the capital necessary for large-scale manufacturing and marketing, it can set prices. The great questions then are, as with political power: How can this great power be coöperatively used? Is it serving all or a few?

Two notable doctrines of the courts point ways for ethics. The first is that of property affected with public interest. Applied thus far by the courts to warehouses, transportation, and similar public services, what limits can we set ethically to the doctrine that power of one man over his fellows, whether through his office, or through his property, is affected with public interest?

The police power, which sets the welfare of all above private property when these conflict, is a second doctrine whose ethical import far outruns its legal applications.

Yet it is by neither of these that the most significant progress has been made toward removing that handicap of inequality which is the chief injustice of our economic system. It is by our great educational system, liberal in its provisions, generously supported by all classes, unselfishly served, opening to all doors of opportunity which once were closed to the many, the most successful department of our democratic institutions in helping and gaining confidence of all—a system of which this University of California is one of the most notable leaders and the most useful members—that fair conditions for competition and intelligent coöperation in the economic world are increasingly possible.


What bearing has this sketch of the significance and progress of coöperation upon the international questions which now overshadow all else? Certainly the world cannot remain as before: great powers struggling for empire; lesser powers struggling for their separate existence; great areas of backward peoples viewed as subjects for exploitation; we ourselves aloof. It must then choose between a future world order based on dominance, which means world empire; a world order based on nationalism joined with the non-social type of competition, which means, every nation the judge of its own interests, continuance of jealousies and from time to time the recurrence of war; and a world order based on nationalism plus international coöperation, "to establish justice, to provide for common defense, to promote the general welfare, and to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."

It is not necessary to discuss in this country the principle of dominance and world empire. It contradicts our whole philosophy. Safety for dominance lies only in a civilization of discipline from above down, in ruthless repression of all thinking on the part of the subject class or race.

Nor can I see any genuine alternative in what some advocate—reliance by each nation on its own military strength as the sole effective guarantee for its interests. After the military lessons of this war, the concentration of scientific, economic, and even educational attention upon military purposes would almost inevitably be vastly in excess of anything previously conceived. What limits can be set to the armies of France and Great Britain if these are to protect those countries from a German empire already double its previous extent, and taking steps to control the resources of eastern Europe and the near East? What navy could guarantee German commerce against the combined forces of Great Britain and the United States? What limits to the frightfulness yet to be discovered by chemist and bacteriologist? What guarantee against the insidious growth of a militarist attitude even in democratically minded peoples if the constant terror of war exalts military preparations to the supreme place? Something has changed the Germany of other days which many of us loved even while we shrank from its militarist masters. Is it absolutely certain that nothing can change the spirit of democratic peoples? At any rate, America, which has experimented on a larger scale with coöperation—political, economic, and religious—than any other continent, may well assert steadily and insistently that this is the more hopeful path. It may urge this upon distrustful Europe.

The obstacles to coöperation are:

1. The survival of the principle of dominance, showing itself in desire for political power and prestige, and in certain conceptions of national honor.

2. The principle of non-social competition, exhibited in part in the political policy of eliminating weaker peoples, and conspicuously in foreign trade when the use of unfair methods relies upon national power to back up its exploitation or monopoly.

3. The principle of nationalistic sentiment, itself based on coöperation, on social tradition and common ideals, but bound up so closely with political sovereignty and antagonisms as to become exclusive instead of coöperative in its attitude toward other cultures.

The principle of dominance deters from coöperation, not only the people that seeks to dominate, but peoples that fear to be dominated or to become involved in entangling alliances. Doubtless a policy of aloofness was long the safe policy for us. We could not trust political liberty to an alliance with monarchies, even as with equal right some European peoples might distrust the policies of a republic seemingly controlled by the slavery interest. At the present time one great power professes itself incredulous of the fairness of any world tribunal; smaller powers fear the commanding influence of the great; new national groups just struggling to expression fear that a league of nations would be based on present status and therefore give them no recognition, or else a measure of recognition conditioned by past injustices rather than by future aspirations and real desert. All these fears are justified in so far as the principle of dominance is still potent. The only league that can be trusted by peoples willing to live and let live, is one that is controlled by a coöperative spirit. And yet who can doubt that this spirit is spreading? Few governments are now organized on the avowed basis that military power, which embodies the spirit of dominance, should be superior to civil control, and even with them the principle of irresponsible rule, despite its reinforcement by military success, is likely to yield to the spirit of the age when once the pressure of war is removed which now holds former protesters against militarism solid in its support. For all powers that are genuine in their desire for coöperation there is overwhelming reason to try it; for only by the combined strength of those who accept this principle can liberty and justice be maintained against the aggression of powers capable of concentrating all their resources with a suddenness and ruthlessness in which dominance is probably superior.

Yet coöperation for protection of liberty and justice is liable to fall short of humanity's hopes unless liberty and justice be themselves defined in a coöperative sense. The great liberties which man has gained, as step by step he has risen from savagery, have not been chiefly the assertion of already existing powers or the striking-off of fetters forged by his fellows. They have been additions to previous powers. Science, art, invention, associated life in all its forms, have opened the windows of his dwelling, have given possibilities to his choice, have given the dream and the interpretation which have set him free from his prison. The liberty to which international coöperation points is not merely self-direction or self-determination, but a larger freedom from fear, a larger freedom from suspicion, a fuller control over nature and society, a new set of ideas, which will make men free in a far larger degree than ever before.

Similarly justice needs to be coöperatively defined. A justice that looks merely to existing status will not give lasting peace. Peoples change in needs as truly as they differ in needs. But no people can be trusted to judge its own needs any more than to judge its own right. A justice which adheres rigidly to vested interests, and a justice which is based on expanding interests, are likely to be deadlocked unless a constructive spirit is brought to bear. Abstract rights to the soil, to trade, to expansion, must be subordinate to the supreme question: How can peoples live together and help instead of destroy? This can be approached only from an international point of view.

The second obstacle, unsocial competition, is for trade what dominance is in politics. It prevents that solution for many of the delicate problems of international life which coöperation through trade might otherwise afford. Exchange of goods and services by voluntary trade accomplishes what once seemed attainable only by conquest or slavery. If Germany or Japan or Italy needs iron or coal; if England needs wheat, or if the United States sugar, it is possible, or should be possible, to obtain these without owning the country in which are the mines, grain, and sugar cane. The United States needs Canada's products; it has no desire to own Canada. But in recent years the exchange of products has been subjected to a new influence. National self-interest has been added to private self-interest. This has intensified and called out many of the worst features of antagonism and inequality.

Few in this country have realized the extent to which other countries have organized their foreign commerce on national lines. We are now becoming informed as to the carefully worked-out programmes of commercial education, merchant marines, trade agreements, consular service, financial and moral support from the home government, and mutual aid among various salesmen of the same nationality living in a foreign country. We are preparing to undertake similar enterprises. We are reminded that "eighty per cent of the world's people live in the countries bordering on the Pacific Ocean, and that as a result of the rearrangement of trade routes, San Francisco's chance of becoming the greatest distributing port of the Pacific for goods en route to the markets of the Orient, are now more promising than ever before." Can the United States take part in this commerce in such a way as to help, not hinder, international progress in harmony? Not unless we remember that commerce may be as predatory as armies, and that we must provide international guarantees against the exclusive types of competition which we have had to control by law in our own domestic affairs. An Indian or an African may be deprived of his possessions quite as effectively by trade as by violence. We need at least as high standards of social welfare as in domestic commerce. I cannot better present the situation than by quoting from a recent article by Mr. William Notz in the "Journal of Political Economy" (Feb. 1918):

During the past twenty-five years competition in the world markets became enormously keen. In the wild scramble for trade the standards of honest business were disregarded more and more by all the various rival nations. In the absence of any special regulation or legislation, it appeared as though a silent understanding prevailed in wide circles that foreign trade was subject to a code of business ethics widely at variance with the rules observed in domestic trade. What was frowned upon as unethical and poor business policy, if not illegal at home, was condoned and winked at or openly espoused when foreign markets formed the basis of operations and foreigners were the competitors. High-minded men of all nations have long observed with concern the growing tendency of modern international trade toward selfish exploitation, concession-hunting, cut-throat competition, and commercialistic practices of the most sordid type. Time and again complaints have been voiced, retaliatory measures threatened, and more than once serious friction has ensued.

Mr. Notz brings to our attention various efforts by official and commercial bodies looking toward remedies for such conditions and toward official recognition by all countries of unfair competition as a penal offense.

What more do we need than fair competition to constitute the coöperative international life which we dreamed yesterday and now must consider, not merely as a dream, but as the only alternative to a future of horror?

Free trade has been not unnaturally urged as at least one condition. Tariffs certainly isolate. To say to a country: "You shall manufacture nothing unless you own the raw material; you shall sell nothing unless at prices which I fix," is likely to provoke the reply: "Then I must acquire lands in which raw materials are found; I must acquire colonies which will buy my products." Trade agreements mean coöperation for those within, unless they are one-sided and made under duress; in any case they are exclusive of those without. Free trade, the open door, seems to offer a better way. But free trade in name is not free trade unless the parties are really free—free from ignorance, from pressure of want. If one party is weak and the other unscrupulous; if one competitor has a lower standard of living than the other, freedom of trade will not mean genuine coöperation. Such coöperation as means good for all requires either an equality of conditions between traders and laborers of competing nations and of nations which exchange goods, or else an international control to prevent unfair competition, exploitation of weaker peoples, and lowering of standards of living. Medical science is giving an object lesson which may well have a wide application. It is seeking to combat disease in its centers of diffusion. Instead of attempting to quarantine against the Orient, it is aiding the Orient to overcome those conditions which do harm alike to Orient and Occident. Plague, anthrax, yellow fever, cannot exist in one country without harm to all. Nor in the long run can men reach true coöperation so long as China and Africa are a prize for the exploiter rather than equals in the market. Not merely in the political sense, but in its larger meanings democracy here is not safe without democracy there. Education, and the lifting of all to a higher level, is the ultimate goal. And until education, invention, and intercommunication have done their work of elevation, international control must protect and regulate.

In many respects the obstacle to international coöperation which is most difficult to remove is the strong and still growing sentiment of nationality. This is not, like dominance, a waning survival of a cruder method of social order; it is a genuine type of coöperation. Rooted as it is in a historic past, in community of ideals and traditions, and usually of language and art, it wakens the emotional response to a degree once true only of religion. Born of such a social tradition, the modern may be said in truth mentally and spiritually, as well as physically, to be born a Frenchman or a German, a Scotchman or Irishman or Englishman. He may be content to merge this inheritance in an empire if he can be senior partner, but the struggles of Irish, Poles, Czechs, and South Slavs, the Zionist movement, the nationalistic stirrings in India, with their literary revivals, their fierce self-assertions, seem to point away from internationalism rather than toward it. The Balkans, in which Serb, Bulgar, Roumanian, and Greek have been developing this national consciousness, have been the despair of peacemakers.

The strongest point in the nationalist programme is, however, not in any wise opposed to coöperation, but rather to dominance or non-social competition. The strongest point is the importance of diversity combined with group unity for the fullest enrichment of life and the widest development of human capacity. A world all of one sort would not only be less interesting, but less progressive. We are stimulated by different customs, temperaments, arts, and ideals. But all this is the strongest argument for genuine coöperation, since by this only can diversity be helpful, even as it is only through diversity in its members that a community can develop fullest life. A world organization based on the principle that any single group is best and therefore ought to rule, or to displace all others, would be a calamity. A world organization which encourages every member to be itself would be a blessing.

Why do nationalism and internationalism clash? Because this national spirit has rightly or wrongly been bound up so intimately with political independence. Tara's harp long hangs mute when Erin is conquered. Poland's children must not use a language in which they might learn to plot against their masters. A French-speaking Alsatian is suspected of disloyalty. Professor Dewey has recently pointed out that in the United States we have gone far toward separating culture from the state, and suggests that this may be the path of peace for Europe. We allow groups to keep their religion, their language, their song festivals. It may perhaps be claimed that this maintenance of distinct languages and separate cultures is a source of weakness in such a crisis as we now face. Yet it may well be urged, on the other hand, that a policy less liberal would have increased rather than diminished disunion and disloyalty.


The student of human progress is likely to be increasingly impressed with the interaction between ideas and institutions. How far does man build and shape institutions to give body to his ideas? How far is it the organized life with its social contacts, its give and take, its enlargement of its membership to see life sub specie communitatis, which itself brings ideas to birth? Desire may bring the sexes together, but it is the association and organized relationships of the family which transform casual to permanent affection and shape our conceptions of its values. A herding instinct or a common need of defense or of food supplies may bring together early groups, and will to power may begin the state, but it is the living together which generates laws and wakens the craving for liberty and the struggle for justice. Seer and poet doubtless contribute to progress by their kindling appeals to the imagination and sympathy; the philosopher may, as Plato claimed for him, live as citizen of a perfect state which has no earthly being, and shape his life according to its laws; but mankind in general has learned law and right, as well as the arts of use and beauty, in the school of life in common.

So it is likely to be with international coöperation. Fears and hopes now urge it upon a reluctant, incredulous world. But the beginnings—scientific, legal, commercial, political—timid and imperfect though they be, like our own early confederation, will work to reshape those who take part. Mutual understanding will increase with common action. When men work consistently to create new resources instead of treating their world as a fixed system, when they see it as a fountain, not as a cistern, they will gradually gain a new spirit. The Great Community must create as well as prove the ethics of coöperation.

The Riverside Press
U · S · A




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