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democratic principle' in order to secure an equitable settlement which, how. ever denounced at the moment when passions of conflict are running high, will grow steadily stronger, and secure an ever more general and willing acceptance because it really leaves no grievance.
With many apologies for intruding on you so long a letter when your time must be overfilled with work,
By far the most important problem of modern times in the domain of practical politics is the future relation of the East and the West. Their impact has created a movement which was inevitable and, in some instances, desired; but which is nevertheless regarded in militant sections of the Western world with the fear which overtakes all monopolists on the least appearance of competition. Under the influence of this feeling what might be welcomed as signs of progress is labelled
unrest'; and European nations of diverse tendencies are invited to close up their ranks, for the spirit of the age must be kept in check from doing its work among Eastern races. How long these efforts and exhortations will succeed in maintaining the present state it is impossible to tell, but it is somewhat incongruous to find the same sentiment which is honoured in one continent condemned in another ; whilst expressions carried from the West to the East either lose their significance or connote different ideas. Thus what is patriotism' in Europe becomes “fanaticism' in Africa and Asia ; and the desire for progress and development, ' restlessness ' in Eastern lands.
It is not necessary to go far back into history to show the influence mere names have exercised on the destinies of the human race; we have an interesting illustration in our own times. A few years ago 'Spread-eagleism' was used for mere purposes of ridicule ; christened
Imperialism ' it has acquired a holy meaning—it sanctifies crusades against the liberty of weaker States. Not only has the Empire of Great Britain an imperial policy which has enabled it to appropriate vast territories in every part of the globe, but the mighty Republics of the United States of America and of France have similar policies of an equally decided character. One would have thought that ' Imperialism' was inconsistent with ‘Republicanism,' but here come into play some of those anomalies which make modern civilisation, with its mixture of humbug and hypocrisy, such an interesting study.
In the Middle Ages religion furnished the pretext for the spoliation
and enslavement of alien races. In the fifteenth century the Pope divided the world beyond Christendom between the Portuguese and the Spaniards. In the prosecution of the task imposed on them by the Head of the Church, the Portuguese in the East Indies, the Spaniards in the West, made hecatombs of races and civilisations. Spanish ferocity caused the destruction of three brilliant civilisations so widely apart as the Moorish, the Aztec, and the Peruvian, and reduced to helotage three fine races. Spain,' said an American Senator in the late Hispano-American war, ' set up more crosses in more lands, beneath more skies, and under them butchered more people than all the nations on earth combined.'
To-day other shibboleths have taken the place of older ones; religion has made room for what is called 'Western civilisation.' The white man's burden' has elbowed out the Gospel, whilst trade has become more important than 'evangelisation.' Although the missionary, in his efforts to avoid martyrdom, has always at his back ironclads and big guns, the Bible is not forced upon unwilling people with the same fierce proselytising zeal as a few centuries ago ; it is now trade which they are compelled to admit whether they will or not. They are no more converted, they are civilised.' Civilisation is brought to their doors with beat of drums and clangour of arms, in the shape of trousers and top-hats, drink, disease, infant-murder and prostitution. There was something definite and ennobling in the conception of religion; and though the adoption of a new faith did not usually bring the converted equality of rights with the converting missionary, soldier or priest, it promised at least some compensation in the next world. The new creed does not hold out any such prospect. They drink and they die, and there is an end of it. But the fat lands remain to reward the labours of the civilised man. In the intensity of conviction in his mission, the follower of the new creed rivals those of the old. The champion of Jehovah restricted salvation to birth in Israel ; the champion of Western civilisation’ confines it to a special colour. With him it is a primary article of faith that, whatever may be the case in heaven, the kingdom of the earth is for the white skin. And the products of the ghetto and the slum are equally vehement, equally clamorous in the assertion of special claims to civilisation, with the privileges which it carries.
We are thus face to face with a peculiar situation which in the struggle for 'grab'—that delightfully simple yet expressive Americanism-we have neither the time nor the wish to study; the incongruity does not strike us as anything out of the common. The Pagan Empire of Rome extended to all its subjects the rights of citizenship, and the
provincial' was as much entitled to the full enjoyment of those privileges as the Roman-born. The Christian Empire of Great Britain cannot secure considerate treatment for its provincials' in its own Colonies. South Africa presents at this moment an extra
ordinary spectacle of what a mixture of high altruistic pretensions and rank selfishness can produce in the name of civilisation.
Probably it will not be disputed that the higher races of India have attained a place in the scale of development which compares favourably with many nationalities ordinarily regarded as civilised. The general diffusion of modern education has brought many of them into line with the foremost ranks of culture in the Western world. Save among special or backward communities, the spirit of enterprise has never been lacking among the people of India ; and the process of unification which is in progress in the country has given it an extraordinary impetus. Under its impulse many Indians, in the pursuit of what, in the parlance of the day, would no doubt be called civilised avocations, relying on their status as British subjects, betake themselves to British Colonies. They are well-conducted, thrifty, law-abiding people; not a few are highly educated. 'Civilisation' meets them at the threshold and brands them as members of an inferior race.
The Indian may not walk on the same side-path as the Italian, the Greek, the Russian, the Jew, or Armenian, or any other' white,' nominal or otherwise ; he may not travel in the same railway compartment or ride in the same tram-car; he may not own house or land in his own name; may not live in the same street, or find board or lodging in the same hotel. If a charitable-minded innkeeper houses a late arrival left stranded in a strange land, he must take his meals either in his own room or some hole-and-corner place where he may not be observed by people of the colour-caste to which civilisation has given birth.
The Colonial attitude towards the inhabitants of Great Britain's dependency on the retention of which rests much of the greatness of England's Empire carries one back to the days of the first Hindu law-giver. No member of the lower castes could aspire to associate with the Brahmin or Kshatriya without making himself liable to severe and most disagreeable penalties. Even now the Brahmin or Rajpoot sepoy would throw away his food if the shadow of a Sudrs or non-Brahmin fell across his half-cooked or half-eaten meal. The Colonial has in his treatment of certain Asiatic races taken & leaf out of the book of Manu, who would brand a Sudra with hot iron if he had the temerity to sit on the same bench with a Brahmin! This Brahminical exclusiveness is however marked by one remarkable inconsistency. The Ottoman sovereign rules over a variety of races. The high character his Moslem subjects bear has been testified to by his enemies. But the 'civilisation of to-day does not take into account the virtues of sobriety, cleanliness, temperance, and honesty. Evidently the modern creed is tinged with s certain mediævalism which tabooes one faith in favour of another. It is anomalous to find that whilst Levantines, Jews, Greeks, Maltese, and others are welcomed into the Colonial bosom, the clean, sober,
honest Moslem is alone classified as an undesirable Asiatic, and subjected to the humiliating and degrading restrictions which modern Brahminism imposes on outsiders.
What, however, is more than anomalous is that the subjects of a common Sovereign should be denied the ordinary privileges of fair, generous, and considerate treatment. In the recent dispute between the Transvaal authorities and the British Indians settled in the Colony, which has created such an intense and bitter feeling in India, two facts came out in strong relief—the helplessness of the Colonial Office, which kept, metaphorically speaking, wringing its hands over the dilemma of the situation; and the rather whimsical stand made by the India Office in favour of Indian chiefs and notables visiting the Transvaal !
The answer of the Imperial Government to the many appeals that were addressed to it during the late crisis conveys a lesson to the people of India which they are not likely to ignore. It supplies to the advocates of self-government on Colonial lines another powerful argument. At present they cannot make an effective retort to the insults and humiliations to which they are subjected by the Colonials ; nor can they obtain legitimate protection from the Imperial Government. Self-government of the kind enjoyed by the Colonials would enable them to demand and perhaps secure reciprocity of fair treatment. We must not be surprised if some such reasoning enters into the conceptions of thoughtful Indians in the future.
A fortnight ago came the news from Vancouver that a number of British Indians, who had been passed by the Dominion authorities, were immediately informed by the provincial officials that they must be deported, and on their refusal to re-embark had been put in prison.' The correspondent telegraphing the news added, “it is now generally admitted that “the Natal Act” is ultra vires so far as the Japanese or Chinese are concerned. The Indians say they are loyal subjects of the King, and ask why if other Asiatics are allowed to land they should be forbidden to do so. Many other persons are asking the same question. A large proportion of the Indians arriving here have served the King in the Army, and the treatment to which they are being subjected shocks even exclusionists.'
As I write comes further news respecting a situation which is fast tending to develop into a crisis. This time the Dominion Government itself, taking its stand behind a legal quibble, has added to the gravity of the problem that faces the Empire, which is neither exclusively European nor exclusively Asiatic, but has to maintain, for its own sake, a just and equitable balance between the two component elements.
In what even some opponents of Asiatic immigration admit (says the special correspondent of the Times'] to be an arbitrary and indefensible manner, the
I 19th of March 1908.