Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/458

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

We may probe the ideas and projects which are grouped under this attempt at a dual organization of the world as we will, in no direction do we come upon anything but crude notions and inflated rhetoric. Such notions have hitherto proved very costly to the human race. President Cleveland, in his Venezuela message, sought a parallel for the Monroe doctrine in the balance-of-power doctrine. The parallel was unfortunate, if it had been true. The balance-of-power doctrine cost frightful expenditures of life and capital, and what was won by them? Where is the balance of power as it was understood in the eighteenth century, or in Napoleon's time? A real parallel to the Monroe doctrine is furnished by the colonial system. The latter, as above shown, was the doctrine of the unity of the world under the headship of Europe. The former is the doctrine of the dualism of the world, with Europe at the head of one part and the United States at the head of the other. One of these conceptions of the new organization of the human race, which is to grow out of the colonization and settlement of the outlying countries, is as arbitrary as the other, and the new one can never be realized without far greater expenditure of life and property than the other. If history and science have any power over the convictions and actions of men, here is a good opportunity for proof of it, for if anything is proved by ecclesiastical and civil history it would seem to be the frightful cost of phrases and doctrines, and of the whole cohort of phantasms which take the place of facts and relations in determining the actions of men. It is to these that men have always brought the heaviest sacrifices of their happiness, blood, and property. We have had in our own history the doctrines of no entangling alliances. State rights, nullification, manifest destiny, the self-expanding power of the Constitution, the higher law, secession, and as many more as rhetorical politicians have found necessary to save them the trouble of coming down to facts and law. How frightful has been the penalty for the people who have been deluded by some of these! Who knows on what day another of them may, by a turn of events, become politically important and call for its share of sacrifice? It is a wise rule of life for a man of education and sense not to allow his judgment to be taken captive by stereotyped catch-words, mottoes, and doctrines.

We have already a commercial system in which we have undertaken to surround ourselves by a wall of taxes so as to raise the prices of all manufactured products twenty-five to fifty per cent above the same prices in western Europe. That system has been adopted as a policy of prosperity to be produced by specific devices of legislation. We have applied it to the best part of the continent of North America. It is now proposed to restrict immigration so as to close the labor market of the same part of