Isolation of the Germ
I have no other purpose than to place true before my eyes ... and to draw
the world away from its old heathenish superstitions. -- Leeuwenhoek,
discoverer of the microbe world.
It is only when a man or beast has tuberculosis that I can find these
bacilli. In healthy animals I never find them. -- Robert Koch.
Science has shown that the only sure way to overcome disease is to isolate
the germ. It has shown, too, that what seems to be a complicated condition of
the body, or separate ills in it, can be cured by the simple act of removing a
microscopic germ. Though political science does not have guinea pigs to
experiment with, those with remedies for ills of the body politic need to give
what proof they can that they have really isolated the germ.
We hold that the major ills of the world today originate in the assumption
by democrats that their individual freedom requires them to organize the
relations among the democracies on the absolutist principle of nationalism
instead of the democratic principle of federal unionism. For clarity we can name
the germ, absolute nationalism, and the serum that eliminates it,unionism.
We may now prove isolation of the germ by showing that injection of absolute
nationalism in healthy political organisms will give them the disease the
democracies now suffer, and that injection of unionism will cure it.
There are two democracies which are themselves composed of many states: The
United States with-forty-eight and Switzerland with twenty-two. Neither of these
groups of democracies has the ills of our world group of fifteen. Switzerland,
that is, is afflicted with such things as quotas only in its relations with
other states; the Swiss cantons are not afflicted with quotas in their relations
with each other. The citizens of each American state suffer as citizens of the
United States from the armaments disease ravaging the fifteen democracies, but
they are free from it in their relations with the citizens of the other
forty-seven American states. If all the world should sink except the area
occupied either by the forty-eight states or by the twenty-two cantons their
citizens would no longer suffer from ineffective government, armaments racing,
war, trade barriers, monetary instability; all mankind would then be free of
One may therefore consider the states within the American and the Swiss
areas to be healthy organism, and consider as diseased organism the fifteen
Inject now into the people of each of these forty-eight states and
twenty-two cantons the virus, absolute nationalism. Let the people of
New York and of New Jersey, or of Zurich and of Geneva, think and act toward
each other in terms of the state instead of the citizen precisely as Americans
and Swiss now do toward each other or toward the British or French. Let their
relations be infected with the same confusion that makes anarchy of those of the
Let them too identify the freedom of the citizen with his state's freedom,
the rights of man with the rights of nations, the equality of man with the
equality of states. Let them found their relations on the state instead of man
as unit. Let the citizens of each of the forty-eight and of each of the
twenty-two democracies seek their individual freedom in establishing seventy
national sovereignties where there now are two, and in guarding these seventy
sovereignties as jealously as the fifteen democratic peoples guard theirs now.
Who needs human guinea pigs to know that the seventy healthy organisms would
then at once suffer the ills of the fifteen?
Consider more closely the effects of injecting the virus, absolute
nationalism, into the forty-eight. They must then have not merely
forty-eight flags where now they have one, but forty-eight armed forces,
forty-eight currencies to keep stable by equalization funds, forty-eight
national industries, farming classes, internal price levels and standards of
living to protect by tariffs, quotas, subsidies, currency, depreciation, -- all
for the sake of the one thing left them in common: The Rights of Man.
The citizen of the sovereign republic of New York, when he crosses the
Hudson to the sovereign republic of New Jersey, must then stop to have his
baggage searched and his money changed. He must have a passport and a visa --
for the republic of New Jersey seeks to protect its workers from the immigration
peril that cheap Harlem labor forms. To cross this line in his automobile he
must first get a customs paper and stop at the frontier to get it stamped. To
send a letter, he must pay double postage.
What of the freedom of the individual to do as he pleases with the money he
earns? The same 129,000,000 men must then pay enough taxes to maintain not one
but forty-eight national governments, foreign departments, diplomatic and
consular services, customs and immigration services, armies, air forces, and
navies. What would it cost New York to protect its precious corridor to the sea
against Connecticut and New Jersey making an alliance against it with the
support of Pennsylvania? How big an air fleet would New York need to keep off
bombers then? How many Holland tunnels would it need to dig -- not under the
river for commerce and pleasure but in Manhattan's rock for shelter in war time?
What would it cost New Yorkers to seek safety in invading and annexing New
Jersey -- and thus coming face to face with powerful Pennsylvania?
This injection of nationalism causes the people of the forty-eight to
sacrifice their liberty and prosperity in other ways, too. It involves them in
all sorts of costly and dangerous political, economic and financial quarrels, --
quarrels that centre in mad, maddening, mystic questions of the ratio of one
sovereign people to another. By identifying a man's self-respect with what he
imagines is the standing of his state in the world, this nationalistic virus
turns into a curse even the sense of dignity that freedom gives a man.
We see how the ills of the fifteen can be produced at will among the healthy
forty-eight by injecting in them the same nationalism. Suppose we now inject
into the fifteen our serum, unionism. Suppose the Americans, British,
French, Australians, Belgians, Canadians, Danes, Dutch, Finns, Irish, New
Zealanders, Norwegians, South Africans, Swedes, and Swiss all begin to think and
act toward each other in terms of men and no longer in terms of nations. Suppose
that by some miracle we could inject simultaneously into these fifteen peoples,
as doctors can inject serum into patients, the simple idea that their freedom
requires their union instead of their national independence. They gain by this
one costless priceless change all they are now vainly struggling to gain by
deepening their dugouts the higher they fly. Does any one need human guinea pigs
to believe that this serum would effectively cure the fifteen of all those ills
which it has already cured among the forty-eight?
Contents -- Chapter VII
-- Chapter X