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competitive State which I have imagined would be a far more unlovely place than Germany, and more unpleasant to live in. The spectacle of a saner and happier polity next door would break up the purely competitive State from within ; the strain would be too great for human nature. We cannot argue confidently from the struggle for existence among the lower animals to our own species. For a long time past, human evolution has been directed, not to living anyhow, but to living in a certaili way. We are guided by ideals for the future, by purposes which we clearly set before ourselves, in a way which is impossible to the brutes. These purposes are common to the large majority of men. No State can long maintain a rigid and oppressive organisation, except under the threat of danger; and a nation which aims only at perfecting its own culture is not dangerous to its neighbours. It is probable that without the supposed menace of another military Power on its eastern flank German militarism would have begun to crumble.
In the second place, would the absence of sharp competition within the group lead to racial degeneration ? This is a difficult question to answer. Perhaps a diminution of pugnacity and of the means to gratify this instinct would not be a misfortune. But it is certainly true that, if the operation of natural selection is suspended, rational selection must take its place. Failing this, reversion to a lower type is inevitable. The infant science of eugenics will have much to say on this subject hereafter ; at present we are only discovering how complex and obscure the laws of heredity are. The State of the future will have to step in to prevent the propagation of undesirable variations, whether physical or mental, and will doubtless find means to encourage the increase of families that are well endowed by Nature.
Thirdly, assuming that a nation as a whole prefers a policy of this kind, and aims at such an equilibrium of births and deaths as will set free the energies of the people for the higher objects of civilised life, how will it escape the cacogenic effects of family restriction in the better classes combined with reckless multiplication among the refuse which always exists in a large community ? This is a problem which has not yet been solved. Public opinion is not ready for legislation against the multiplication of the unfit, and it is not easy to see what form such legislation could take. Many of the very poor are not undesirable parents ; we must not confound economic prosperity with biological fitness. The 'submerged tenth' should be raised, if possible, into a condition of self-respect and responsibility; and the upper and middle classes should simplify their habits so far as to make marriage and parenthood possible for the young professional man. Care should also be taken that taxation is so adjusted as not to penalise parenthood in the socially valuable middle class.
For some time to come we are likely to see, in all the leading nations, a restricted birth-rate, prompted by desire for social betterment, combined, however, with concessions to the rival policy of commercial expansion, growing numbers, and military preparation. The nations will not cease to fear and suspect each other in the twentieth century, and any one nation which chooses to be a nuisance to Europe will keep back the progress and happiness of the rest. The prospect is not very bright; a too generous confidence might betray some nation into irretrievable disaster. But the bracing influence of national danger may perhaps be beneficial. For we have to remember the pitiable decay of the ancient classical civilisation, which was partly due, as we have found, to a desire for comfortable and easy living. A low birth-rate may indicate a tendency to withdraw from the struggle for existence, and to sacrifice the future to the present. There have been signs that many of our countrymen no longer think the strenuous life worth while ; part of our resentment against Germany resembles the annoyance of an old-fashioned firm, disturbed in its comfortable security by the competition of a young and more vigorous rival. It is even suggested that after the war we should protect ourselves against German competition by tariff walls. This abandonment of the policy on which our prosperity is built would soon bring our over-populated island to ruin.
In conclusion, if we leave the distant future to fend for itself when the time comes, what should be our policy with regard to population for the next fifty years ? I am led to an opinion which may seem to run counter to the general purport of this article. For though the British Isles are even dangerously full, so that we are liable to be starved out if we lose the command of the sea, the British Empire is very far from being over-populated. In Canada and Australasia there is probably room for nearly 200,000,000 people. These countries are remarkably bealthy for Northern Europeans; there is no reason why they should not be as rich and powerful as the United States are now. We hope that we have saved the Empire from German cupidity—for the time, but we cannot tell bow long we may be undisturbed. It would be criminal folly not to make the most of the respite granted us, to people our Dominions with our own stock, while yet there is time. This, however, cannot be done by casual and undirected emigration of the old kind. We need an Imperial Board of Emigration, the officials of which will work in co-operation with the Governments of our Dominions. These Governments, it may be presumed, will be anxious, after the war, to strengthen the colonies by increasing their population and developing their resources. They, like ourselves, have had a severe fright, and know that prompt action is necessary. Systematic plans of colonisation should be worked out, and emigrants drafted off to the Dominions as work can be found for them. Young women should be sent out in sufficient numbers to keep the sexes equal. We know now that our young people who emigrate are by no means lost to the Empire. The Dominions have shown that in time of need they are able and willing to defend the mother country with their full strength. Indeed, a young couple who emigrate are likely to be of more value to the Empire than if they had stayed at home; and their chances of happiness are much increased if they find a home in a part of the world where more human beings are wanted. But without official advice and help emigration is difficult. Parents do not know where to send their sons, nor what training to give them. Mistakes are made, money is wasted, and bitter disappointment caused. All this may be obviated if the Government will take the matter up seriously. The real issue of this war is whether our great colonies are to continue British; and the question will be decided not only on the field of battle, but by the action of our Government and people after peace is declared. The next fifty years will decide for all time whether those magnificent and still empty countries are to be the home of great nations speaking our language, carrying on our institutions, and valuing our traditions. When the future of our Dominions is secure, the part of England as a World-Power will have been played to a successful issue,
vol. 225. NO. 459.
and we may be content with a position more consonant with the small area of these islands.
I believe, then, that if facilities for migration are given by Government action, it will be not only possible but desirable for the increase in our population to be maintained during the twentieth century. It is, of course, possible that chemical discoveries and other scientific improvements may greatly increase the yield of food from the soil, and that in this way the final limit to the population of the earth may be further off than now seems probable. But within a few centuries, at most, this limit must be reached; and after that we may hope that the world will agree to maintain an equilibrium between births and deaths, that being the most stable and the happiest condition in which human beings can live together.
W. R. INGE.
THE FUTURE OF ENGLISH RAILWAYS
THREE important countries, the United States, Canada,
I and India, are at this moment conducting official and exhaustive inquiries into the whole question of the relation of railways to public authority. Yet in no one of these three countries is the position.so acute as here. We are admittedly in a condition of unstable equilibrium, but nothing is being done to decide when and how a stable equilibrium shall be restored. Our railways are at present being worked as agents of the State, under the orders of a Government Department, and at the costs and charges of the public exchequer. And this state of affairs is, nominally, so purely provisional that it might in theory be terminated at any moment on an Order in Council after only one week's notice. In practice it is universally admitted that a mere return to the status quo ante bellum is quite impossible.
Before proceeding farther it is well to give a brief account of what has actually happened. On the 5th of August, 1914, the Government, under the powers conferred by the Regulation of the Forces Act, 1871, took possession of all the railways in Great Britain—though not in Ireland—with negligible exceptions.* The management was handed over to an Executive Committee composed wholly of the General Managers of the principal companies. The nominal chairman is the President of the Board of Trade. The actual working head of the organisation is the Deputy Chairman, himself a General Manager. So far as can be judged from the outside, the Executive Committee, as was natural and probably in the main right, have refrained from trespassing collectively on the preserve previously belonging to each member of the Committee individually. They have, in fact, suggested to each General Manager how he can best employ his line in the general interest of the traffic of the country rather than given him positive instructions to do such and such things. And each General Manager naturally has felt that, while for the
* Irish railways were not taken over till Dec. 17th, 1916.