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1815 battle

Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-17 15:03:26
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Thus in India, when freedom had at last been gained, and under the stress of external danger Hindus and Mohammedans had sunk their differences, it seemed for a while that out of these dark Aryan peoples the truth was coming which could save mankind. For the ancient Indian wisdom, which permeated all the faiths, now came more clearly into view, stripped of the irrelevances of particular creeds. The new India, it seemed, while armed with European science and European resolution, would teach mankind a quietude and detachment which Europe lacked. But somehow the movement went awry, corrupted by the surviving power of the Indian princes and capitalists. The wealthy controlled the new state for their own ends. Public servants were venal and inefficient. And the ancient wisdom, though much advertised, became merely an excuse for tolerating gross social evils. When at last the armies of the Russian Empire poured through the Himalayan passes, the rulers of India could not cope with the attack, and the peoples of India were on the whole indifferent to a mere change of masters. Not until much later were the Indians to make their great contribution to human history.

Such was the bleak image by which the forwards tried to express their new and dreadful vision. They also discussed the implications of the repugnant truth, and the policy which the human race should adopt towards it. One and all, they affirmed their continued loyalty to the spirit. ‘Every man,’ they said, ‘knows in his own experience that the life of love and of intelligence is good absolutely, is the only satisfying life for awakened beings. No devastating discovery about the nature of the ultimate reality can shake that immediate perception. Therefore, whatever the prospect, the human race will continue the struggle for love and intelligence here on earth. But it would be foolish to pretend that our metaphysical discovery makes no difference. Formerly it seemed that man would soon make contact with the life-giving and enheartening source of all spirit. We have found only desolation.’

But this age of peaceful development and confidence was not to last for ever. The first symptom was a crisis among the forwards. This crisis was at first kept secret, but in time it became clear that something grave was afoot. The forwards were evidently deeply disturbed. Those that were in the hostels and houses of contemplation came pouring out into the world. They travelled and took up work, but they lived in a state of anxious abstraction. There were endless private discussions during casual encounters, and many prearranged conferences, the subject of which was never disclosed. At last a world conference was arranged at Lhasa. For many months hosts of forwards from every city crowded the sacred city, and camped in the surrounding country. Several months were spent by the assembled forwards in discussing their secret problem and performing severe spiritual exercises in order to fit themselves for right judgment. During this period the rest of the world showed little curiosity. Life was far too full of more interesting matters. When at last the conference had ended and the forwards had returned to their home countries, a manifesto was issued to the peoples of the world. Its content was greeted by ordinary world-citizens with astonishment, varying from dismay among the friends of the forwards to hilarious incredulity among the sceptics.

The cultures of the states, though both crude and crazy, were such as could not have existed save as products of a past civilization. In most regions the average intelligence had sunk almost to the bushman level, and in the more degenerate populations far below it. Even outstandingly brilliant individuals were mostly mere dullards according to early standards. And these dullards were grievously hampered by their faulty upbringing. The languages of this age, mostly corruptions of the ancient English, Russian, or Chinese, were rich in fossil remains of ancient thought. Language was much cherished. It was the vehicle through which the sacred wisdom was handed down. Two dead languages, ancient English and ancient Chinese, were taught to the children of the wealthy, and proficiency in these languages was demanded of every aspirant to posts of responsibility. Ancient literature and historical records were very carefully studied, and subtly interpreted so as to accord with local mythology about the World Empire. Much of the ancient thought, particularly the great scientific and philosophical inquiries of the past, were by now far beyond the understanding of even the brightest individuals. Nevertheless immense labour was devoted to criticism of the ancient texts, which were given symbolical or magical meanings adapted to the degenerate modern mentality. Meanwhile the great mass of scientific knowledge accumulated by earlier ages was reduced to a few well-tried practical precepts, of use in manufacture and electrical engineering of a very crude kind. In physics and astronomy certain sensational mysteries were still handed down in the sacred tradition, but they were accepted without any attempt at understanding, and in general they were gross perversions of the original discovery. For instance, the theory of relativity was completely lost, but it was affirmed that if a man were to walk far enough in a straight line he would reach his starting-point. This true statement was not derived from the roundness of the earth, for the earth was assumed to be flat; it was regarded simply as a sacred mystery. Men also believed that the universe was very big; but since astronomy was a lost science, they assumed that the universe itself was a sphere, half of which was solid ground and the other half sky. Sun, moon, and stars were supposed to emerge from the eastern rim of the ground to be blown across the sky, and finally to settle down once more in the west.

The World Government jealously exercised its right to supervise all national educational systems so as to ensure that the essential principles of education for citizenship in the new world should not be violated; should in fact be vigorously practised. The aim was, not only to impart a clear outline of man’s story, along with some detail of national and provincial history, but also to foster the two supremely important human impulses, the will for community and the will for intelligence. Not only as between individuals but also as between peoples specialization was carefully restricted. Inevitably at first some countries were predominantly industrial, others agricultural, but it was deliberately designed that this specialization should be based on an underlying self-sufficiency. This surprised me, for the danger of war between the peoples had by now vanished. Why, then, this insistence on self-sufficiency? Partly, self-sufficiency was a result of natural economic development. With the great advance of physical and chemical technique, industry had become far less dependent on locality. Anything from food to typewriters could now be produced in almost any district, for the primary raw materials were vegetable tissues and the very common minerals.

The dissolution of the incipient caste system formed the end of an epoch. Hitherto the great conflicts which occurred in the human race had been in the main uncontrolled and gravely damaging. In tribal warfare, national warfare, and class struggles the organs of humanity tore at one another in blind fury, so that their common life was at all times crippled and abject, and every human being was to some extent warped. Not only were the types of cell within the great organism but feebly united but often by nature they were lethal to one another. Each was to the other an army of disease cells. Even during that long first phase of the career of the species some conflicts had of course been successfully integrated into the life of the whole, or at least into the life of a whole nation or class. But henceforth, conflicts were far better subordinated to the needs of the whole human race. They ceased to be desperate internecine life-and-death struggles, and became merely internal strains, needed to preserve the taut balance of the common life, like the tension between the antagonist muscles of a limb.

One striking institution, first tried out in North America, but immediately copied in China and soon adopted throughout the world, was the Corps of Emergency. This consisted of workers from almost every occupation chosen for their versatility and enterprise, and kept in training and on full pay, to be moved hither and thither as occasion required. Thus, if for some reason a river had to be deflected, a mountain removed, a sea drained, thousands of civil engineers were available without disturbance to existing enterprises. The Corps fulfilled the function of the unemployed in the old capitalist system, but with a very different temper.


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