Open main menu

Page:Earth-Hunger and Other Essays.djvu/80

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

of mutual interests; and they were not maintained with due responsibility such as must always go with a claim of right. The case was one, therefore, in which a civilized state of inferior rank could not maintain its hold on territory against a civilized state of higher rank. It was only another phase of the case presented by uncivilized tribes which try to hold territory against civilized colonists. There is, therefore, some truth to be admitted in the doctrine of "manifest destiny," although the doctrine is, like most doctrines in politics, a glib and convenient means of giving an appearance of rationality to an exercise of superior force. The truth in the doctrine is that an incompetent holder will not be able, as a matter of fact and in the long run, to maintain possession of territory when another nation which will develop it according to its capacity is ready to take it. A contemporary instance is furnished by the Transvaal, where the Boers certainly cannot maintain their independence and authority unless they prove themselves competent to maintain such civil institutions as are adequate to further the development of the territory.

Furthermore, civilized nations may find themselves face to face with the necessity of assuming the jurisdiction over territory occupied by uncivilized people, in order to police it and give local peace, order, and security, so that industry and commerce may be prosecuted there. The European nations now have this necessity in Africa. The fact remains, however, that the use of the land for production and the political jurisdiction of the territory are two entirely different things. What men want is to get at the land so as to till it and otherwise use it for industrial purposes; the political jurisdiction is a burden which is just so much of a drawback from the gain of using the land. If the industrial use could be got without taking