Elements of Power

IN the World War Germany displayed tremendous power. Restraining our emotions as much as possible, let us endeavor to analyse that power with mathematical dispassionateness.

Why did Germany display more power than any other single nation? Because in the establishment of her "ethics," her political system, and her economic structure, Germany availed herself, in larger measure than any other nation, of scientific achievements and scientific methods. It is a very common, very erroneous, and very harmful belief that war was created solely by a "war-lord." Every idea or movement doubtless originates with somebody but back of such "originations" or initiations there are favoring conditions, forces and impulsions. The stage is set by life and the ages; the actor enters and the show begins. In the instance in question, the stage was set by our whole modern system of civilization. The war lords were the "Deus ex machine"-the show was a real one-a tragedy.

The true origin of this war must be looked for in the economic field. Our economic system is the very complicated result of all our creeds, philosophies and social customs. It is therefore impossible to understand the working of the economic forces without understanding the foundation upon which this system of forces is based. A short list of works on the subject is given at the end of this book. A plain statement here will be enough.

Germany was committed to a policy of indefinite industrial expansion. This artificial expansion had reached its limits. Germany was on the verge of bankruptcy. Only a victorious war could avoid a national catastrophe; she played her last card, and lost despite her gigantic power, the greatest ever displayed by any nation. The leading European states were not able to overpower her for a long time. This writing is not intended as an apology for Germany, much less to praise her or her war lords. German purposes were nationally narrow and nationally selfish to the root; her methods were inhuman but Germany displayed power; and without the understanding of power, Human Engineering is impossible.

It is possibly a fault of the writer's military training, but it seems to him that the "General Staff" point of view has as much claim to consideration as any other among the many different interpretations of history-perhaps it has more. It is not the primary aim of the general staff to "fight," very far from it. Their primary aim is "victory" and all the better if victory be possible without a fight. Strategy, brain-work, intelligence, knowledge of facts-these are the chief weapons; brutal fighting is only a last resort. It is highly important to bear that in mind. Soldiers and engineers do not argue-they act. Germany affords the first example of a philosophy or a society having for its main purpose the generating of power to "do things." It seems only reasonable and intelligent to analyse the history of the war from the engineer's point of view, which, in this case, happens to coincide with the military point of view. It must be clearly understood that the modern general staff, or military, point of view has very little or nothing to do with the romance or poetry of war. War to-day is a grim business-but "business" before all else. It has to mobilize all the resources of a nation and generate power to the limit of its capacity. The conduct of war to-day is a technological affair-its methods have to be engineering methods. To crush an obstacle, there is need of a giant hammer, and the more mass that can be given it and the greater the force put behind it, the more deadly will be the blow. Prior to the World War technology had not been mobilized on so vast a scale nor confronted with a task so gigantic. Mobilized technology has revealed and demonstrated the fact that it is possible to generate almost unlimited power and has shown the way to do it; at the same time it has demonstrated the measureless potency of engineering and our utter helplessness without it. Technology is comparatively a new science; by some it is called a "semi-science" because it deals primarily with the application of science to practical issues. But when it became necessary "to do things," an engineer had to be called; the general staff had to adopt his view, and all other practices and traditions were bent to his ideas.

I have already repeatedly pointed out that the progress of technology proceeds according to a law like that of a rapidly increasing geometrical progression, and I have stressed the danger of inattention to any phenomena, force or movement that conforms to such a law. We have only to recollect the story of the simple but very greedy farmer who was very happy to make a contract with a laborer for a month's work, paying him only one cent the first day, twice as much the second, twice for the third, and so on to the end. Behold! The bill for the month ran into millions of dollars and the farmer was ruined. Such is the deadly secret of the geometrical progression. Violent readjustments await any society whose ethics, jurisprudence and the like do not keep pace with the developments of engineering.

Engineers are the wizards who, using the results of scientific research, can subjugate or release the concealed powers of nature. The supreme factor is the use of the mind-the exponential function of time-the time-binding energy of man. From that we have to take our start because that is the source of human power.

The German philosophy, as a whole, has its definite place in the history of philosophy; and the first thing to consider are those philosophic writers who directly and indirectly have contributed to the building up of German power. Hegel greatly affected the building up of the German mind-strange as it may seem; but Hegel was greatly under the influence of the work of Fichte, and Fichte in turn under that of Spinoza. All of them were, in a way, mathematicians in their methods and philosophy, as much as they could be in their time. I said "strange," because it is significant that the mathematical part of their philosophy was just the part which built up the German power. But if we look into it, it is not strange.

It had to be so, because mathematical and mechanical methods are the only ones by which power can be understood and built. Hegel in 1805 lectured on history of philosophy, pure mathematics and natural law. It would be hard to find a better combination for a philosophy of power. That is precisely what this philosophy was. It influenced not only German philosophy but even German theology, and through these channels it sank deep into the national consciousness. It affected every phase of life. An immense cult of disciples arose. Each one added something to that philosophy of power. One of the most brilliant representatives of this movement is Professor Oswald, who in his Monist Sermons gave the famous advice: "Do not waste energy but give it value." The German understanding of the great value of technology directly applied that principle to their philosophy, law, ethics, politics, and so on.

With increase of population, the problem of the State becomes more and more pressing. There are many theories about the state. For the purpose of the moment it is important to realize that a state is the governing center of an accumulation of human beings-of time-binding powers-increasing exponential functions of time. These powers, though the same in kind, differ in degree and in respect of individuality. If they are to be united so as to constitute a whole, they must be given a common aim; they must, so to speak, be reduced to a common base; if they be respectively Xm, Yn, Zp, and so on, we can not unite them and compute the whole by adding the exponents; but if we give them a common base-a common aim or purpose-then we can readily represent the magnitudes of the whole constituted by them; if we take X to be their common aim or base, then, if Y=aX, Z=bX, and so on, we shall have:

Xm.Yn.Zp . . . = Xm.an.Xn.bp.Xp . . . = (an. bp . . .)Xm+n+p . . .

The last expression, where the parenthetical coefficient is the product of individualities, serves to represent the united powers of all in terms of X, the common base, purpose or aim.

Let us look at the matter in another way. One mechanical "horse-power" is less than the power of one living horse. One living horse can do more work than one mechanical horse-power, but in using more than one living horse at one time we get less work than by using the same number of mechanical horse-powers; the reason is very obvious. The mechanical horse-powers are the same in kind, equal, and constant, but living horses differ in character, they are not equal, and each one is a variable. Hence mechanical horse-powers can be added or multiplied arithmetically, but the powers of living horses can not, except very roughly; the living horses of a team interfere with each other; they do not pull together, as we say, and energy is lost.

The German mathematical philosophy or theory of the state did not express itself in just this way, but the foregoing gives a clue to it. Germany united the powers of living men and women and children: it gave them a common base; It gave them one common "social" mood and aim; they all became consolidated in service of that which is called the State; they studied and taught for the State; they worked, lived and died for the State: the State was their idol, King and God.

Such was the aim of German philosophy, theology, law and science. The establishment of ONE AIM for all was the decisive factor. It is obvious that if we want to inspire 60 Millions of individuals with one aim, this aim can not be private or personal. It must be a higher aim, collective, general, impersonal, in some way uniting and including all personal aims. I shall call it simply a collective aim. But collective aims may differ profoundly in kind; out of personal or egoistic aims there grows a series of collective aims, increasing in generality, such as: (1) Family aims; (2) association, congregation, club aims; (3) class or professional aims; (4) national or race aims; and finally (5) HUMAN AIMS-the natural aims for the time-binding class of life. The fatal error of German political philosophy was an error of aim- her aim was too low-too narrow-the welfare of a state instead of the welfare of Humanity.

In the case of Germany, the national aim was equivalent to the state aim. German philosophy made the "state" equivalent to the "good" and equivalent to "power." Or course such philosophy influenced the whole national life in every detail; in consequence Germany proclaimed herself the first nation of the world, and this soon evolved into a plan for the conquest of the world. The German General Staff as an institution had, par excellence, as its aim and first object, "power," "concentration of power" and "efficiency." It took the leadership in all branches of life and industry. Militarism and industrialism are almost synonymous from the mechanical point of view; they are both of them power. They both have to use the same scientific methods and in the present conditions of the world they are dependent upon each other, for war cannot be waged without strong industries. Here we have to face the fact that geometrically progressing industry can not live without new markets, which under present conditions have been largely acquired, directly or indirectly, by the power of the army; and this has been the case with Germany. If we curse Germany for being a "military nation" we can, with no less justice, curse her for being a completely "industrialized nation." If we add to that her nationally selfish and narrow national aim, we will readily understand this "world peach." Those who have tasted it know something of its sweetness.

There is no need to go into further details. Special books give us all the data. That which is of interest is the impersonal fact that what was the strength and power of Germany is the best possible illustration we have had of what science and a sort of mathematical philosophy are able to accomplish, even when directed, not to the welfare of Humanity, but to that of a relatively small group of people. The above-cited political philosophies had a very pronounced effect upon Marx. One of the branches of socialism is the so-called state socialism. State socialists, as the name indicates, believe that the state should assume the most important functions in society. It is obvious that in monarchical countries where "god-given" rulers represent the state, such a theory is not unwelcome, as it gives the rulers an opportunity to show a sort of "advanced liberalism," which serves to strengthen their power. The astute Bismarck can not be suspected of being a progressionist in the modern sense but, being a product of German culture and philosophy, all his ideals were those of a strong state. He was a proclaimed advocate of state socialism. Since 1879 at least, Bismarck was considered almost the leading spirit of paternal state socialism. He was a believer and promoter of the close relation of the state and the railways, keeping always in view a thorough nationalization which he finally accomplished. This fact eliminated from German public life all that phase of corruption which private ownership of railroads brings in any country, the railroad being the very life of any country.

To sum up: Germany applied the most scientific methods to build up her national power; she understood the elements of "power," for they were disclosed to her by her science and her philosophy. She applied technological methods in every part of her civil life, and thus built her gigantic power. Her industrial life followed the military way; her military strength was built on industrial power. And so the vicious circle. Germany adopted a collective aim instead of a personal individualistic aim, and because of this broader aim, she was able to mobilize and to keep mobilized all her moral, political and industrial forces for long years before the war. The direct effect of this system of continuous mobilization was over-production. For this she desperately needed new markets. The cheapest and quickest way to acquire them, if they were not to be grabbed otherwise, was to conquer them by a victorious war. Her plans progressed according to the program, all except the victory in the battle fields.

This war was a calamity of unprecedented magnitude for the world and it is our duty to study it dispassionately and learn the lesson of it, if we do not want to be moral accomplices of this great modern crime, by letting the world drift into an even worse catastrophe. We have to arouse ourselves from our inertia and go to the bottom of this problem and analyse it ruthlessly, no matter whether the analysis be pleasant or not. We must value everyone of our "ten sacred dead" at least as much as we value one rabbit killed in scientific laboratories, and take the lesson to heart or be prepared for a repetition of world slaughter.

If Human Engineering had been established long ago our social system would have been different, our civilization would have been much higher, this war would have been avoided. We do not need to delude ourselves. The World War was the result of badly balanced social and economic forces. The world needs other "balances of power" than such as are devised by lawyers and politicians, by single-selfish or group-selfish interests. Humanity is reaching out for a science and art of human guidance based upon a right understanding of human nature.