« PreviousContinue »
Among the institutions of Rome, that of the Dictatorship deserves our special admiration. The ordinary institutions of a Commonwealth work but slowly. No Councillor or magistrate has authority to act alone. In most cases several must agree, and time is required to reconcile their differences. Hesitation is most dangerous in situations which do not brook delay. Hence every republic ought to have some resource upon which it can fall back in time of need. When a republic is not provided with some such safeguard, it will either be ruined by observing its Constitutional forms, or it will have to violate them. However, in a republic nothing should be done by irregular methods, for though the irregularity may be useful, it would furnish a pernicious precedent. Every contingency cannot be foreseen and provided for by law. Hence those republics which cannot in a sudden emergency resort to a Dictator or some similar authority may in time of danger be ruined.
The Dictator was originally called Magister populi. According to Dionysius he was nominated by the Senate and approved of by the people. Later on he was appointed by the Consuls, the highest civil authorities, whom he superseded. He was not a high-handed tyrant but a popular leader elected by the representatives of the nation. While the Consuls could act only with the co-operation of the Senate, the Dictator could act on his own responsibility. However, his power was limited. He was appointed only for six months. He had no power over the Treasury, but had to come to the Senate for money. The power of the purse remained with the representatives of the nation. Rome was repeatedly saved from ruin by a Dictator when its Civil Government was unable to deal with the situation. We may learn from Rome's example. A Dictator is wanted.
As the Cabinet in its original shape has proved totally unsuitable for conducting a great war, an inner Cabinet of six has been evolved. It remains to be seen whether six can successfully accomplish the work of direction which, according to the greatest statesmen and the practical experience of all time, should be left to a single man. If the committee of six should prove unsatisfactory, the Government should frankly declare its inability to deal efficiently with the situation and ask Parliament, without delay, for power to effect the necessary constitutional changes. The leading politicians themselves must surely recognise that they cannot successfully direct a war. The simplest way of concentrating control into one hand would obviously consist in increasing the authority of the Prime Minister, making him solely responsible to Parliament for the conduct of the national business in all its branches, making the other Ministers distinctly his subordinates and appointing to the direction of every Department not politicians but the best experts that can be found. Only the Prime Minister should attend Parliament, for ministers cannot at the same time attend to Parliament and their Departments. The greatest administrative experts would undoubtedly furnish a far stronger advisory council to the Prime Minister than a Cabinet of politicians, however eminent and of whatever party. Statesmanship and party politics must be kept strictly apart. The direction of the nation and the leading of the House require totally different qualifications. To enable the Prime Minister to give his undivided attention to national affairs the two offices should be separated by law. Otherwise national affairs will continue to be subordinated to party matters and be perfunctorily attended to for lack of time. In addition, an advisory Council modelled upon Napoleon's Conseil d'Etat, as described in these pages and foreshadowed by Sir John Fortescue in his 'Governance of England,' might be created by resuscitating the moribund Privy Council. The Privy Council might once more become a most valuable institution, a national intelligence depart-. ment, for investigating matters, preparing laws, &c. Its ranks should be greatly strengthened. At present it includes too many politicians and society leaders and too few experts. It should be composed of the ablest men in every branch of human knowledge and activity. It is noteworthy that at present science is quite unrepresented on that Council.
with th than the wher
Wars are not won by speechos. The province of politicians is speech, that of statesmen action. Men of words are rarely men of action, and men of action rarely men of words. Richelieu, Cromwell, Frederick, Napoleon, Bismarck, were wretched speakers, and most great speakers, the elder Pitt excepted, wretched statesmen. To entrust the direction of the State to men of words seems as inappropriate as to entrust a valuable racehorse to a plausible sporting journalist. It is questionable whether another set of amateurs will do better than the present one, for the fault lies chiefly with the system. Government by debating society has proved a failure. It should be abolished before it is too late. The situation seems to call for three reforms : (1) A solely responsible Prime Minister exclusively engaged with national business ; (2) the replacing of politician-ministers by the best experts ; (3) the creation of an efficient Privy Council to serve as a national intelligence department.
The traditional organisation of Great Britain is an anachronism and a danger. Every statesman must be convinced of its insufficiency and inaptitude. Happily it can easily be modernised and immensely strengthened.
The advantage of democracy, which means popular control over the Government, can easily be combined with an efficient and well-ordered administration carried on by experts. If the national organisation were reformed in the manner indicated, Great Britain would no longer suffer disappointment after disappointment in war through inexpert direction and divided councils. She would no longer be surprised by events. The Allies would no longer offer a chiefly passive resistance to Germany's onslaughts. The War would be greatly shortened. Efficiency would be met with efficiency, and greater numbers and resources would rapidly prevail. England's example of reorganisation would no doubt be followed throughout the world. The saying that democracy means improvidence, inefficiency, wastefulness, bungling, amateurishness, and delay would cease to be true. Well
organised Great Britain would become an example to democracy throughout the world. The democratic form of government which, in consequence of the War, has lost prestige everywhere, would be rehabilitated and obtain a new lease of life.
HOW AMERICA BECAME A NATION IN ARMS: 1
SOME LESSONS FOR PEACEFUL DEMOCRACIES AND THEIR
On December 10, 1914, Professor C. K. Webster stated in his inaugural lecture delivered before the University of Liverpool :
You will look in vain for the books which can teach Englishmen the connection of their own country with the political life of the Continent during the nineteenth century. Such books cannot be improvised on the spur of the moment in the midst of a national crisis. ... Few will dispute that the study of our diplomatic history in the past century is of real and immediate importance to-day. Yet the work has scarcely been begun. There is, for example, as yet no adequate record of the part England played in the great reconstruction of Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. ... Neither Canning nor Palmerston is known to us, except by loose and inadequate records.
This statement is exceedingly humiliating. It seems incredible, but unfortunately it is only too true. While the art of vote-catching, called politics, has been assiduously studied in all its branches, the science of statesmanship in the broadest sense of the word, has been completely neglected. The most important of all human sciences is
1 The Nineteenth Century and After, September, 1915.
2 The recommendations contained in the following pages have since been adopted.