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than social frontiers, whether it is a question of a military and absolute empire, or of a pacific and socialistic democracy.
Under these conditions, the forces called moral, but in reality at the same time material, conspired with all the others in the progressive extension of the frontiers of the Inca empire. As today in Turkey, Russia, Persia, etc., the Inca was the supreme head of the religion. The external mission of the empire represented by the autocracy fortified itself by a mission of religious propaganda. By means of war, and even without war, and before the military occupation, the surrounding savage tribes were successively converted to the solar cult. Even the religion preceded the armies, just as the English missionaries have paved the way for military colonization. Finally, the conquered territories were incorporated and their populations annexed and subjected to a common régime. Thus the frontiers always advanced by the assimilation of the territory and peoples beyond rivers and mountains, and even beyond deserts. Indeed, a society can be limited only by the conditions of its own organization or by another society, or, to be more exact, by its own organization in correlation with that of the external societies.
Ancient Peru represented the summum of development attained by the primitive communal types under a despotic military and religious form. This type would naturally enlarge, so long as it did not meet on the outside a force equal or superior to its own. It would necessarily be broken up in contact with more powerful forms which were better militarily and industrially equipped. It would even, without doubt, have become dislocated spontaneously, like every one of the great despotic and autocratic empires, through the very extension of its domination, when at a certain moment it proved an insufficient organ of co-ordination between the several parts of the social body. The communal and despotic Peruvian type was violently broken up in the sixteenth century by coming in contact with Spain, but in ancient Mexico, where this communal type had degenerated into a feudal monarchy, it was already profoundly altered. Ancient Egypt also presents to us almost the same viscissitudes, and the Spanish monarchy of the sixteenth century had, besides certain superiorities, a great number of affinities with the empire of the Incas. In the latter the worship of the sun was in harmony with the conception of an empire whose frontiers came to be extended wherever the brilliant rays of the divine aster penetrated. Similarly it was said of Charles V. and Philip II. that the sun never sank to rest upon their territories. Spain realized what Peru contained only in germ a world-empire. Was not Louis XIV. at the epoch of his power called the “sun king”? There was something more in this than flattery. It was an imperial conception with assimilations of the limits of sovereignty with those of the solar radiation. This conception had its remotest origin in the beliefs of populations still savage, but in which the communal form existed along with military authority. For instance, the chiefs of the Huron tribes bore the name of the sun, and those of the Natchez the title of sun kings.
Everywhere and always, the limits of power are at least instinctively conceived as the resultant of the composition and organization of the internal forces in equilibrium with the composition and organization of the external forces. However, in this estimation each group, especially the group that is widespread, has the illusion that its power is illimitable. The illusion, in reality, is only an abstraction made from the reaction of the other forces; a constant, but variable reaction which produces at each moment a state of unstable equilibrium, which always announces new changes.
G. DE GREEF. BRUSSELS, BELGIUM.
[To be continued.]
Die Amerikaner. Von Hugo MÜNSTERBERG, Professor an der
Harvard Universität. Erster Band, “Das politische und wirtschaftliche Leben,” pp. xii + 494; Zweiter Band, “Das geistige und sociale Leben,” PP. 336. Berlin: Ernst Sieg
fried Mittler & Sohn, 1904.
The publication of these volumes is a notable international event. They reinforce the department of literature in which De Tocqueville (Democracy in America) and Bryce (American Commonwealth) are eminent. Like these previous writers, the present author addresses primarily not an American public, but readers on the other side of the Atlantic. Professor Münsterberg, however, has a task incomparably more complex than that which confronted the French interpreter nearly three-quarters of a century ago, and he plans a inuch more comprehensive analysis than that which the later British author attempted. At the same time his opportunities to qualify himself for his undertaking have been far ampler than those of either of these predecessors.
To estimate the work fairly one should have thorough knowledge of the “subjective environment” of the Germans with respect to America, as well as complete insight into our own conditions. One should be able to judge the version of American life not by use of any single standard which we may regard as absolute. The work presents a problem of relativity. Considering the state of knowledge about America among the Gernians, and their modes of thinking in general, is it calculated to give them more accurate information about us, and means of judging us more correctly? So far as my limited acquaintance with the Germans entitles me to an opinion upon this question, I must answer it without reserve in the affirmative. Professor Münsterberg has not renounced his German citizenship. He does not ask his readers to join him in the worship of strange gods in order to find a bond of sympathy with strange devotees. He does not echo the boasting and bluster which Europeans have too much reason for regarding as basic Yankee traits. Speaking as a German to Germans, he asks his countrymen to apply their own more general principles of criticism, rather than off-hand superficial forms of comparison, to a people who must be interpreted in the light of antecedents and of surroundings very different from those which furnish the historical setting of continental society.
It is as needless as it would be rash for an American to attempt a forecast in detail of the workings of this argument in Germany. I fancy there will be two principal reactions: first, astonishment that such a brief can be drawn in the interest of America by such a competent authority; and, second, suspicion that “he doth protest too much.” If Germans will read the book candidly, however, the resultant can hardly fail to show a preponderance of the former influence.
A somewhat condensed English translation is to appear presently in this country. For that reason it is worth while to consider the book from our own standpoint. How are Americans likely to estimate this analysis of America by a German for the Germans ?
In the first place, it may prove somewhat difficult for us to make constant allowance for the fact that it was intended, not for us, but for others. In the second place, there is a schematology about the treatment which will tempt us to put it in the “important-if-true" class. It works out too well as a theory to escape suspicion of being more artificial than real. These two points may be made plainer in a moment.
We have no precise English equivalents for some of the chief terms employed in the analysis, but I shall venture to translate four principal phrases by rather clumsy imitations of the original.
There are four main divisions of the work: Part I, “The Political Life;" Part II, “ The Industrial Life;" Part III, “The Intellectual Life;" Part IV, “The Social Life." Each of these phases of American conditions is treated as primarily the expression of a single characteristic and determining principle. This is a genial heuristic and expository device, but it at once presents both of the difficulties just suggested. National life, and above all American life, fits but roughly into any fair framework of philosophical principles. Americans are perhaps more inclined than any other people in our civilization to be skeptical of theories that profess to detect symmetrical architecture and coherent reason underneath the hilterskilter of commonplace human actions. Accordingly there is bound to be a more or less energetic negative reaction when Americans are invited to interpret their politics as the projection of their "spirit of
self-determination” (Geist der Selbstbestimmung); their economics as the objectification of their "spirit of self-initiative ” (Geist der Selbstbetätigung); their intellectual activities as the reflex of their “spirit of self-completion” (Geist der Selbstvervollkommnung); and their social life as the output of their “spirit of self-assertion" (Geist der Selbstbehauptung). For purposes of bluff we have an exhaustless stock of undigested overratings of ourselves, but when we find a thinker taking us seriously our sense of humor must restrain us from posing as demonstration of these four ample dimensions. We shall want to ask: "Are not other men so?” “Is anything really true of Americans under these rubrics that is not also true of other nations ?” “Do the Americans differ from other peoples in the foursquareness of their display of these common principles ?” “Is not the whole scheme of interpretation too aprioristic for positive value?”
On the other hand, the author is, in the first place, not to be understood as saying that either of these principles operates exclusively in the division of life for which it is made the test. Each has a certain pre-eminence in that division, while the others, and all minor social forces, fall into a certain subordination to it. This should go without saying, but may be noted in passing. In the second place, the argument is not that these principles are at work in Americans and not in other men. The author rather says to his countrymen : “These principles reach a relatively higher degree of determining influence in these departments of American life than in the corresponding departments of German life. The objective facts of American life can be understood only in their relation to these principles."
I confess that while reading the book I have felt, for my share of Americanisin, very much as I suspect President Roosevelt must have felt when he read of himself in Mr. Riis's overweighted eulogy. For our own horizon Professor Münsterberg has too highly idealized America. Among ourselves we could not make out as good a case for ourselves as he presents for us to the Germans. This is not to say that he fails to write judicially, or that he omits reference to necessary qualifications. The proportions and the shading are due to the fact that he is addressing a public in which the worst that can be said of us has had undue currency, and the best has had no adequate representation.
If we can give the book the benefit of these provisos, we shall find it a first-rate help to national self-knowledge. Although it dis