"Under the crude organisation of most foreign States that is quite possible," answered Count Krafft; "but the essence of the Super-State is that, in it, power cannot be exercised without authority, and only these persons are authorised through whom the Super-State chooses to express its will. It places everybody in such a position as enables him to render the greatest service to the State that he is capable of rendering. Consequently no fault can be found, by any class or section, with the power exercised by any other class or section; because they are merely the instruments of the State itself."
"That sounds a very comfortable doctrine for those who happen to wield the power," I said. "It leaves no room for any' opposition.' "
"The Super-State would not be the Super-State if it contained within it any opposition," he replied. "You ought to read the speech of Prince Mechow on the Super-State as the final expression of the Meccanian spirit," he went on. "Foreigners are apt to confuse the Super-State with an Autocracy. It is essentially different. In an autocracy of the crude, old-fashioned type, an exterior power is visible, and your talk of ruling classes would be appropriate there. In the Super-State all the functions are so organised that the whole body politic acts as one man. We educate the will of the component units in such a way that all conflicting impulses are eradicated. After all, that was the ideal of the Catholic Church. Prince Mechow applied the same principle when he reformed our Educational system. A good Meccanian would no more seek to violate the obligations laid upon him by the Super-State than a good Catholic would seek to commit deadly sin."
"Then there is no room for a Free Press in the Super-State," I remarked.
He saw my point and replied, "A' Free Press,' as you call it, would be an anachronism. What necessity is there for it? Its function has disappeared. It only existed during a brief historical phase in the earlier development of the modern State. Our great Prince Bludiron was the first to perceive its inconsistency with the line of true development. Prince Mechow absorbed all the functions of the independent professions, and among them those of the journalists, who were always an element of weakness in the State."
"But what, then, is the object of this complete Unity which, as far as I can make out, the Super-State seems always to be aiming at?" I asked.
"The object?" he replied, almost bored by my pertinacity. "Unity is the law of all organic life. We are simply more advanced in our development than other States, that is all."
"Then it is not true that all this super-organisation is for the purpose of fostering national power?" I said.
"That is he told argument of the weak against the strong, the poor against the rich, the ignorant against the educated. Every healthy person is a strong person; the rich man is stronger than the poor man; the educated man is stronger than the ignorant. The modern State, even among our neighbours, is infinitely' stronger' than the incoherent political organisms of earlier times. It cannot help itself. Its resources are enormously greater. How can the Super-State help being strong? No State deliberately seeks to weaken itself, or deprive itself of its natural force." Then, as if tired of the discussion into which our conversation had led us, he said, "But these are all matters about which you will learn much more from my friend the Professor of State Science. I am afraid I have been dishing up one of his old lectures. You will find this liqueur quite palatable."
We then drifted on to more trivial topics. He said I had spent too long among the petty officials, grubbing about with my Tour No. 4. I ought to see something of better society. Unfortunately it was the dead season just then, and I might have to wait a little time, but there were still some dinners at the University. Some of the professors never went out of Mecco and would be glad to entertain me.
We parted on very good terms. His manner had been friendly, and if he had done little besides expound Meccanian principles he had at any rate not been dictatorial. I wondered whether he really believed in his own plausible theories or whether he had been simply instructing the Foreign Observer.
When I saw Mr. Kwang a day or two afterwards aai this time alone--he greeted me cordially and said, "So things are improving?"
"They promise to do so," I said, "but so far, all that has happened has been a very tedious visit to Director Blobber and an academic discussion with Count Krafft."
"So you don't appreciate the honour of dining with an Under-Secretary of the Super-State?" he said. "You have stayed too long in Luniland."
"I am promised the privilege of seeing something of the best Meccanian Society, but what I was more anxious to see was the worst Meccanian Society."
"They will take care you don't," he answered, laughing.
"But why? In any other country one can associate with peasants or vagabonds or artisans or tradesmen or business men."
"You ought to know by this time--I am sure it has been explained to you over and over again. You would gather false impressions, and you might contaminate the delicate fruits of Meccanian Culture."
"That is the theory I have heard ad nauseam. But there is nothing in it."
"Because by keeping us apart they arouse the suspicions of both."
"Oh no, they may arouse your suspicions, but the Meccanian knows that what the State prescribes for him must be for his good. This is the only country where theories are carried into practice. It is a Super-State."
"And you admire it? You have become a proselyte," I said jokingly.
"Have you read my books yet?" he asked. "I saw one for the first time this week," I said.
"I recognise it as a masterpiece." He bowed and smiled. "From the President of the Kiang-su Literary Society that is high praise indeed."
"lam undecided whether to remain here longer," I said, "or to return home, perhaps calling for a rest and a change to see my friends in Lunopolis. I should like your advice."
"Of course that depends upon circumstances. I do not yet understand your difficulty or the circumstances."
"Well," I said, "I came here prepared to stay perhaps a year, if I liked the country, with the intention of obtaining general impressions, and some definite information on matters in which I am interested; but every Meccanian I have met is either a Government agent or a bore."
"What, even Madame Blobber?" he interposed, smiling.
"Even Madame Blobber," I said. "I am getting tired of it. I try all sorts of means to gratify my perfectly innocent curiosity, and am baffled every time. Now I am promised a sight of high Society, but I expect they will show me what they want me to see and nothing they don't want me to see."
"Why should they show you what they don't want you to see?" he laughed.
"I don't know how you stand it," I said.
"I have had the virtue of patience," he said, "and patience has been rewarded. I, too, am going home before long. I have got what I want."
He made the signal that bound me to absolute secrecy, and told me what his plans were. When I said that he ran a risk of being victimised he shook his head. "I am not afraid," he said. "By the time I reach home, every Meccanian agent in China will have been quietly deported. And they will not come back again. We are not a Super-State, but our country is not Idiotica."
"And in the meantime," I said, "suppose I stay here another month or so, what do you advise me to do?"
"Oh, just amuse yourself as well as you can," he said.
"Amuse myself! In Meccania?"
Yes; it is not worth while trying now to do anything else. You will find out nothing new-- nothing that I have not already found out. It takes ten years to penetrate beneath the surface here, even with my methods," he said. "But I have got what I want."
"And how am I to amuse myself?" "Accept all the invitations you get, keep your ears open and use your own considerable powers of reflection. By way of relief, come and talk to me whenever you want."
I followed Sz-ma-Kwang's advice: I gave up all thought of investigating either Meccanian Politics, or' social problems,' or anything of the kind. I thought I should probably get better information at second hand from Mr. Kwang than I could get at first hand for myself, in the short time that I was prepared to stay, and I am satisfied now that I decided rightly.... I saw Lickrod almost daily, and went with him to a number of places, museums, the great library, industrial exhibitions, manufactories and so forth. We spent a day or two looking at examples of Meccanian architecture, which was more interesting from the engineering point of view than from the artistic. I began to receive invitations to several houses, chiefly of high officials in the Civil Service and one or two members of the higher bourgeoisie.
In the meantime I had some interesting conversation with my friends, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Villele, as we sat in the garden after dinner. I had never yet asked Mr. Johnson why he was pursuing what I could not help thinking was the distasteful study of Meccanian Pedagogics, but as Lickrod had recommended me to talk to Mr. Johnson about Meccanian education the question came up naturally. I put it to him quite frankly.
"You are what I should describe as an Anti- Meccanian by temperament," I said, "and it seems very odd that you should be studying Meccanian Pedagogics of all things in the world."
"It is because I am an Anti-Meccanian, as you put it, that I am doing so," he replied. "You see in Luniland we never do things thoroughly--thank God!--and we have no pedagogical system. But every now and then a sort of movement arises in favour of some reform or other. For a long time Meccanian education was out of court; people would hear of nothing that savoured of Meccania, good or bad. Then there was a revival of interest, and societies were started to promote what they called Education on a scientific basis--by which they meant, not the study of science, but Meccanian education. As Professor of Education in one of our smaller Universities I was obliged to take some line or other, and the more I studied Meccanian Education from books, the less I liked it. So I came to equip myself with a better knowledge of the whole thing than the cranks who have taken it up."
"I suppose you find some things worth copying," I suggested, "in a field so wide, especially seeing that they have applied psychological science to methods of study?"
"Oh yes, there are certain pedagogical tricks and dodges that are decidedly clever. In fact, if the human race were a race of clever insects, the Meccanian system of education would be almost perfect. The pupils store up knowledge as bees store honey, and they learn to perform their functions, as members of an organisation, with wonderful accuracy. I cannot help thinking sometimes that Meccania is a society of clever insects."
"Exactly," struck in Mr. Villele. "There are the soldier ants, and the slave ants, and the official ants, and the egg-producing ants. We ought to call Meccania the Super-Insect-State, eh?"
"Yes; the land of the Super-Insects," said Johnson. "No person in Meccania, certainly no child, is ever looked upon as an' end in itself '; he is simply one of a community of ants."
"Of course," I said, "to be quite fair, we cannot consider anybody strictly as an end in himself, even in Luniland."
"Theoretically that is so," replied Johnson, "but in practice it makes all the difference in the world whether you regard a man as an individual soul, or as a cell in an organism or a wheel in a machine."
"Why do you Lunilanders and Francarians, if I may ask such a large question, allow yourselves to be influenced at all by what is done in Meccania?
There is so little intercourse between the countries that it hardly seems worth while having any at all," I said.
"Because in both countries there are still many people who regard the Meccanians not as Super-Insects, but as human beings," answered Johnson. "And there is always, too, the ultimate possibility of conflict. If they were on another planet it would not matter, providing they could invent no means of communicating with us. In itself Meccanian education is of little interest, except, of course, as education in the insect world might be interesting, or perhaps as a branch of pedagogical pathology or psychological pathology."
"In effect," interrupted Mr. Villele, "it all comes back to what Mr. Johnson was saying a few nights ago, that the key to the whole polity of Meccania is military power. Meccanian education is merely a means to that end, just as the Time Department, and every other institution--and the absence of certain other institutions like the Press, for example aai is. The Super-State is the grand instrument of Militarism."
"Is it not possible," I said, "that the real key to the Super-State is the desire of the ruling classes to keep themselves in power?"
"But the two things go together," answered Villele. "The Meccanian maxim is that' The State must be strong within in order to be strong without.' "
"And is not that true doctrine?" I said, wondering how they would answer the argument.
"To a certain extent," answered Johnson cautiously. "But where are their enemies? Why should they want all this' Super-Strength '?"
"They say they are surrounded by unfriendly nations," I replied.
"So they are," answered Villele, "but they have done their best to make them unfriendly. If you knock a man down, and trample on him, and rob him into the bargain, you can hardly expect him to be a friendly neighbour next day."
"We started by talking about education," I remarked, "but we have very soon got into a discussion about Militarism--somehow we seem to get to that no matter what point we start from."
"And with very good reason," said Villele. "There used to be a saying that all roads lead to Rome. In Meccania all roads lead to Militarism. You who are not faced by the problem it presents may regard it as an obsession, but a man who refuses to admit the plainest evidence is also the victim of an obsession."
"And you think the evidence is unmistakable?" I said.
"For what purpose does the Meccanian Parliament--if it can be called a Parliament--surrender its control over taxation? For what purpose does the Government conceal its expenditure upon army and navy? For what purpose does it destroy the freedom of the Press, and freedom of speech? For what purpose does the Government keep every person under supervision? For what purpose does it control all production?"
"I cannot answer these questions," I said; "but what evidence is there that the Meccanian system of education is designed as part of the scheme of Militarism?"
"The evidence is abundant," answered Johnson, "but it is not so plain as to be unmistakable. If you see one of our elaborate pieces of modern machinery, a printing-machine or a spinningmachine, you will find that it contains a thousand separate contrivances, and unless you are an expert you will not be able to perceive that every part is absolutely necessary to the performance of the simple function of printing or spinning. Yet that is the fact. It is just the same with the Meccanian educational machine. Its chief purpose, according to the Meccanian theory, is to enable the citizen-- or, as Villele and I might say, the Super-Insect-- to perform his functions as a member of the Super-Insect community. But the chief end of the Super-Insect State is Power. The Meccanians say so themselves. Anyhow, we can easily see for ourselves that their system of education fits in exactly with Militarism. It makes men efficient for the purposes required of them by the Super-State; it makes them not only docile and obedient, but actively devoted to the interests, not of themselves individually, but of what they are taught to regard as something more important, namely, the Super-State; it fosters the superstition which makes possible such an incredible custom as Villele has told you of; it keeps them ignorant of all other ideals of civilisation."
"All that may be true," I replied. "It may very well be that the system of education does favour Militarism, but it may not have been deliberately designed to that end. It has been put to me," I added, "that all this elaborate organisation, including education, is part of the inevitable tendency of things in the modern world, and that the Meccanians are only doing a little in advance of other people what they will all do sooner or later."
"That won't do at all," interposed Villele. "They cannot have it both ways. What becomes of the genius of Prince Mechow if it is all an inevitable tendency? They tell us other nations are not clever enough, or not far-seeing enough, or not strong-willed enough, to produce such a system. These reforms had to be introduced in the teeth of opposition. Other nations have not adopted them and will not adopt them except under the pressure of fear. It is Militarism alone that is strong enough to impose such a system."
"But," said I, "I find it difficult to believe that any civilisation, even Meccanian, can be really the result of the domination of a single idea. Not even the communities of the ancient world were so simple in their principles."
"That fact tells in favour of our contention," answered Villele.
"How so?" I said.
"Why, you admit the natural tendency of all civilised peoples towards diversity of aims. The more highly developed, the more diversified. If, therefore, you find a people becoming less diversified, subordinating all individual wills to the will of the State, you must suspect some extraordinary force. You would not deny the fact that individual liberty has been suppressed?"
"No," I said, "I do not deny that."
"But you think the Super-State has such an interest in the tender plant of the individual souls of its children, their moral and spiritual and physical life, that it is merely a meticulous grandmother trying to prepare them all for a better world, eh?"
"No, that won't do. Only two things are strong enough to suppress the spirit of liberty: one is superstition calling itself religion; the other is Militarism."
"If it were less well done," resumed Johnson, "it would be easier to detect. But it is diabolically well done. Who but the Meccanians would think it worth while to control the whole teaching of history for the sake of cultivating Militarism? In most countries anybody may write history, although very few people read it. Here only the official historians may write: only the books prescribed by the State may be read. And all the people while they are at school and college must read it. In this way they create a powerful tradition. One need not laugh at the idea of State historians. They have done their work too well for that. Their falsification of history is not a clumsy affair of inventing fairy tales. It is scientific falsification. They utilise every fact that can tell against, or discredit, other nations, and every fact about their own people which can raise their national self-esteem. The method is not new, for you may say that all historians are biased. But in other countries the bias of one historian is counterbalanced by the bias of others. The method is not new but the system is. As an example, take their treatment of a well-known Luniland statesman of the beginning of the last century--and this is a fairly harmless instance. He was undoubtedly a single-minded, publicspirited man, a patriot who was also a good European, for he did as much as any one man to save Europe from a military tyranny. But he shared many of the current ideas of his age and lived according to its customs. In Meccanian history all we are told of him is that he drank heavily, gambled, persecuted ignorant and misguided labourers, bribed the people's representatives, enriched capitalists and landlords by his fiscal system, and displayed his ignorance of finance by inventing a fallacious Sinking Fund that any schoolboy could see through."
"Mr. Johnson is putting the case much too mildly," interposed Villele.' There are in the 'reports' issued by the Government on all sorts of matters, but particularly with regard to foreign affairs, falsifications of fact of the most barefaced character. Now the writers of the school and college histories quote very extensively from these official reports, implying always that the statements are true. Further than this, you know, but not perhaps as well as we do, that in countries where speech is free and the Press is free there are any number of libellous writers who vilify their opponents in a shameless fashion. In Luniland in particular, if my friend will pardon my saying so, there are enthusiasts for some particular cause who have no sense whatever of proportion. For instance, to hear some of the so-called Temperance advocates you would imagine that the Lunilanders were a nation of drunkards, wifebeaters, seducers, abandoned wretches of every kind. To listen to their Socialist fanatics you would imagine that every working man was a down-trodden slave. To listen to their anti-vivisectionists you would imagine that the whole medical profession spent its leisure in the sport of torturing animals. To listen to some of the priests you would think the whole nation was sunk in vice.
To listen to the anti-priests you would think the priests were a tribe of grasping hypocrites, and so on and so on. Now you will find Meccanian histories, and works on the social and political life of foreign nations, full of quotations from such writers."
"As I said at the outset," remarked Johnson, "this may seem a little thing in itself, but it is symptomatic and characteristic. Look at an entirely different aspect of the system. The whole teaching profession is honeycombed with sycophancy. Every teacher is a spy upon every other. Every one tries to show his zeal, and gain some promotion, by a display of the Meccanian spirit. As you know, there are no private schools. There is not a single independent teacher in the whole country. It is in the Universities even more than in the schools that sycophancy runs riot."
"That may be perfectly true," I said, "but would you not get this disease of sycophancy wherever you have a bureaucracy, quite apart from Militarism? Suppose there were no army at all, but suppose that the State were the sole employer and controller of every person and thing, you might still have all the petty tyranny and sycophancy that you describe."
"But there is a difference," said Johnson. "Under a mere bureaucracy it is still possible for the large groups of workers to combine, and very effectually, to safeguard their interests; especially if at the same time there is a real parliamentary system. Indeed, many years ago one of the strongest arguments brought forward in Luniland against any large extension of State employment was that the employees, through their trade combinations, would be able to exert political pressure, and rather exploit the State than be exploited by it. No, I maintain that a military autocracy without a bureaucracy may be brutal and tyrannical, in a spasmodic sort of way; but it is loose- jointed and clumsy: a bureaucracy apart from a military control of the State may be meddlesome and irritating; but it is only when you get the two combined that the people are bound hand and foot. Anyhow, I cannot conceive of the whole teaching profession, including the highest as well as the lowest branches, being so completely enslaved as it is here, without there being a driving power at the back of the bureaucratic machine, such as only Militarism can supply in our times--for religion is out of the question."
"Well, now, is there any other sort of evidence," I said, "that the educational system is inspired by Militarism? So far the case is' not proven.'
"The cultivation of' the Meccanian spirit,' which is one of the prime aims of all the teaching, points at any rate in the same direction."
"But the Meccanian spirit is only another name for patriotism, is it not?" I said.
"Your scepticism," remarked Villele,' would almost make one suppose you were becoming a convert to Meccanianism."
"Not at all," I said. "I have tried to get firsthand information on these matters and I have failed. Here I am, listening to you who are avowedly, if I may say so in your presence, anti- Meccanians." They both nodded assent. "Would it not be foolish of me to accept your views without at any rate sifting the evidence as fully as I am able? It has this advantage, I shall be much more likely to become convinced of the correctness of your opinions if I find that you meet the hypothetical objections I raise than if I merely listen to your views."
"The Meccanian spirit is another name for patriotism," said Johnson; "but it is Meccanian patriotism. Patriotism is not a substitute for Ethics in the rest of Europe, nor was it in Meccania two centuries ago. Absolute obedience to the State is definitely inculcated here. No form of resistance is possible. Resistance is never dreamt of; the Meccanian spirit implies active co-operation with the Super-State, not passive obedience only but reverence and devotion. And remember that the Super-State when you probe under the surface is the Second Class, the Military Caste."
"But do not all States inculcate obedience to themselves?" I said.
"No," replied Johnson bluntly. "They may inculcate obedience to the laws for the time being; it is only Churches claiming Divine inspiration that arrogate to themselves infallibility, and demand unconditional obedience. In the rest of Europe the State is one of the organs--a most necessary and important organ--of the community: here, the State or the Super-State is the Divinity in which society lives and moves and has its being. It is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent."
"Admitting all you say about the deliberate policy of the Super-State," I answered, "is it not strange that a hundred millions of people submit themselves to it, and that even outside Meccania there are many advocates of Meccanian principles?
"Tyrannies have flourished in the world in every age," replied Johnson, "because there is something even worse than Tyranny. To escape a plague a man will take refuge in a prison. Anarchy, such as that which broke out in Idiotica some fifty years ago, was a godsend to the rulers of Meccania. They persuaded the public that there was a choice only between the Super-State and Anarchy or Bolshevism as it was then called. We know that is false. Liberty may be attacked by an open enemy or by a secret and loathsome disease; but that is no reason for surrendering either to the one or the other."
AN ACADEMIC DISCUSSION.
IT was some days after this conversation with my friends at the hotel that I was present at a dinner-party given by the President of Mecco University. There were about thirty guests, so that at table a general conversation was almost impossible; I could hear only what was said by those close to me. I was seated between a member of the diplomatic corps and a general. General Wolf, a benevolent-looking old gentleman with a large, coarse face and a double chin, seemed rather disappointed that I could not discuss with him the Higher Mathematics. He deplored the neglect of Mathematics in Meccania. He admitted that unless a person had a mathematical brain it was useless to attempt to make him a mathematician; but he said the Eugenics section of the Health Department was not sufficiently alive to the importance of improving the mathematical stock. He railed very bitterly against a member of the Eugenics Board who had tried to get authority to improve the supply of artists. Happily the Board had turned down his proposals. Count Hardflogg, who wore the Mechow whisker and an eyeglass, and frowned fiercely at everything one said to him, was full of a recent report by the experts in the Industrial Psychology section of the Department of Industry and Commerce. It seems they had recommended a shortening of hours for the members of the Sixth and Fifth Classes in a number of provincial towns, to bring them more on a level with the same class of workers in Mecco itself. He said it was the thin end of the wedge; that they ought not to have reported until experiments had been made with a different diet: he blamed the Eugenics Section, too, for not being able to produce a tougher strain of workers. Reduction of working hours should not be resorted to, he maintained, until every other expedient had been tried: it was so very difficult to increase them afterwards. Besides, in the Strenuous Month, it had been proved over and over again that the men could easily stand a longer working day without physical injury.
"And what is the Strenuous Month?" I asked.
"Oh, of course," he said, "you have not studied our industrial system as a factor of military organisation. There is a very good account of it in Mr. Kwang's Triumphs of Meccanian Culture. Briefly it is this. Every year, but not always in the same month, the signal is given for the Strenuous Month to begin. The workmen then work at top speed, and for as many hours a day as the Industrial Psychologists determine, for thirty days consecutively. It is excellent training, and incidentally has a very good effect on the output for the other months of the year. The men are so glad when it is over that, unconsciously, they work better for the rest of the year."