But each one of us is guilty insofar as he remained inactive. The guilt of passivity is different. Impotence excuses; no moral law demands a spectacular death. Plato already deemed it a matter of course to go into hiding in desperate times of calamity, and to survive. But passivity knows itself morally guilty of every failure, every neglect to act whenever possible, to shield the imperiled, to relieve wrong, to countervail. Impotent submission always left a margin of activity which, though not without risk, could still be cautiously effective. Its anxious omission weighs upon the individual as moral guilt. Blindness for the misfortune of others, lack of imagination of the heart, inner differences toward the witnessed evil--that is moral guilt.
It is often said that the invention of terrible weapons of destruction will put an end to war. That is an error. As the means of extermination are improved, the means of reducing men who hold the state conception of life to submission can be improved to correspond. They may slaughter them by thousands, by millions, they may tear them to pieces, still they will march to war like senseless cattle. Some will want beating to make them move, others will be proud to go if they are allowed to wear a scrap of ribbon or gold lace.
There is no calamity which a great nation can invite which equals that which follows a supine submission to wrong and injustice and the consequent loss of national self-respect and honor, beneath which are shielded and defended a people's safety and greatness.
A principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government — harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups.
Anarchism, the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government — harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being. In a society developed on these lines, the voluntary associations which already now begin to cover all the fields of human activity would take a still greater extension so as to substitute themselves for the state in all its functions. They would represent an interwoven network, composed of an infinite variety of groups and federations of all sizes and degrees, local, regional, national and international temporary or more or less permanent — for all possible purposes: production, consumption and exchange, communications, sanitary arrangements, education, mutual protection, defense of the territory, and so on; and, on the other side, for the satisfaction of an ever-increasing number of scientific, artistic, literary and sociable needs. Moreover, such a society would represent nothing immutable. On the contrary — as is seen in organic life at large — harmony would (it is contended) result from an ever-changing adjustment and readjustment of equilibrium between the multitudes of forces and influences, and this adjustment would be the easier to obtain as none of the forces would enjoy a special protection from the state.
We are so perverted by an education which from infancy seeks to kill in us the spirit of revolt, and to develop that of submission to authority; we are so perverted by this existence under the ferrule of a law, which regulates every event in life — our birth, our education, our development, our love, our friendship — that, if this state of things continues, we shall lose all initiative, all habit of thinking for ourselves. Our society seems no longer able to understand that it is possible to exist otherwise than under the reign of law, elaborated by a representative government and administered by a handful of rulers. And even when it has gone so far as to emancipate itself from the thralldom, its first care has been to reconstitute it immediately. "The Year I of Liberty" has never lasted more than a day, for after proclaiming it men put themselves the very next morning under the yoke of law and authority.
Thus is it to be seen that anyone revolting against the Church's authority under the unjust pretext that it is encroaching on the State's domain, is indeed thereby imposing limits to the Truth. He who holds it [i.e., the Church's authority] to be a stranger in a nation is also declaring that Truth must also be held to be something foreign in that nation. Those who fear that it will weaken the freedom and greatness of a people, are also obliged to admit that a people can be great and free without Truth. No, such a State, such a government or whatever other name may be given to it, cannot lay claim to its citizens' affection, because in waging war against Truth, it gravely strikes at that which is found to be most sacred in man. Such a government will be able to sustain itself through material and brute force; it will make itself feared through the sword; people will, through hypocrisy, self-interest or sheer slavishness: the people will obey because religion preaches and ennobles submission to the human powers that be, as long as they do not require that which is contrary to the holy laws of God. But if the fulfillment of these duties towards human authorities, in that which is compatible with the people's duty to God, renders their obedience more meritorious, it will not, for all that, become more tender, nor more joyful nor more spontaneous: never will it even deserve to be considered as venerable nor affectionate.
Conformism, imitativeness, submission to rules and to teachings is the writer's capital crime. The work of a writer must be not only the reflection, but the larger reflection of his personality. The only excuse that a man has for his writing is to write about himself, to reveal to others the sort of world that is mirrored in his own glass; his only excuse is to be original; he must speak of things not yet spoken of in a form not yet formulated. He must create his own aesthetics
Essentially Americanism, which in democracy, is a moraland spiritual adventure, concerned primarily with a sound and workable philosophy of life, summed up in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, respect for human personality, and recognition of the dignity and value of the individual. In his brilliant statement on The Coming Victory of Democracy, Thomas Mann tells us he believes in democracy because he believes in freedom, and he believes in freedom because he believes in human nature and the dignity of man, who is more than a depersonalized unit in the state. Man is a spiritual being whom it is the duty of the state to serve. He is more than a slave to be kept in order and submission by the crack of a master's whip. "The essential man," says he, "is not the creature who hurls down bombs on children, but the mind that devised the flying machine, the seeker and builder, not the destroyer."
One must be firm and unchanging with regard to the end but gentle and humble as to the means.
The guiding of man, the most variable and manifold of creatures, seems to me in very deed to be the art of arts and the science of sciences.
Be not anxious about thy provision for old age, for by all appearance thou wilt never see it. It is more than probable thou wilt be sooner at thy journey's end. The body is weak; it is even stepping down to salute corruption as its mother, ere it has well entered the hall of the world: thy tabernacle pins seem to be drawing out by little and little already. Courage then, O my soul; ere long the devil, and the world, and the flesh shall be bruised underthy feet; and thou shalt be received into eternal mansions. But though the Lord should lengthen out thy days to old age, he that brought thee into life will not forsake thee then either. If he give thee life, he will give thee meat. Keep a loose hold of the world then; contemn it if thou wouldst be a fisher of men..
Poor child of danger, nursling of the storm, sad are the woes that wreck thy manly form! Rocks, waves, and winds, the shattered bark delay, thy heart is sad, thy home is far away.
A single good government becomes... a blessing to the whole earth, its welcome to the oppressed restraining within certain limits the measure of their oppressions. But should even this be counteracted by violence on the right of expatriation, the other branch of our example then presents itself for imitation: to rise on their rulers and do as we have done.
The sheep are happier of themselves than under the care of a wolf.
We may consider each generation as a distinct nation, with a right, by the will of its majority, to bind themselves, but none to bind the succeeding generation, more than the inhabitants of another country.
The great thing, and the only thing, is to adore and praise God.
Neither in environment nor in heredity can I find the exact instrument that fashioned me, the anonymous roller that pressed upon my life a certain intricate watermark whose unique design becomes visible when the lamp of art is made to shine through life's foolscap.
Do not mistake me. Our interest just now is in the life of complete obedience to God, not in amazing revelations of His glory graciously granted only to some. Yet the amazing experiences of the mystics leave a permanent residue, a God-subdued, a God-possessed will. States of consciousness are fluctuating. The vision fades. But holy and listening and alert obedience remains, as the core and kernel of a God-intoxicated life, as the abiding pattern of sober, workaday living. And some are led into the state of complete obedience by this well-nigh passive route, wherein God alone seems to be the actor and we seem to be wholly acted upon. And our wills are melted and dissolved and made pliant, being firmly fixed in Him, and He wills in us. But in contrast to this passive route to complete obedience most people must follow what Jean-Nicholas Grou calls the active way, wherein we must struggle and, like Jacob of old, wrestle with the angel until the morning dawns, the active way wherein the will must be subjected bit by bit, piecemeal and progressively, to the divine Will.
I have in mind something deeper than the simplification of our external programs, our absurdly crowded calendars of appointments through which so many pantingly and frantically gasp. These do become simplified in holy obedience, and the poise and peace we have been missing can really be found. But there is a deeper, an internal simplification of the whole of one's personality, stilled, tranquil, in childlike trust listening ever to Eternity's whisper, walking with a smile into the dark.