York. The conditions which some would have us believe due to commercialism are but manifestations of man's fundamental belief that might makes right.
In this twentieth century, when the peoples of this world are no longer isolated communities, when bonds of steel bind all together, when through causes determined in long past geological ages some nations are agricultural, others manufacturing and others still confined to mining, so that all are mutually dependent, modes of thought and expression, proper enough in medieval times, are no longer wise, are truly anachronisms. One exhibits no evidence of knowledge or of good judgment who asserts that a professional life is of necessity purer, truer or loftier in aim than a life devoted to commercial pursuits. It is not long, in human history, since the only honorable profession was that of arms—thence to theology, law and medicine was a far reach and that to commerce still further. Then each caste, like Sophomores in college, avenged its injuries on that below. But that day has passed, never to return, and thoughtful men everywhere recognize that, in all callings alike, success depends on intellectual power of much the same type, and that the old-time distinction between professional and non-professional men exists in name rather than in fact.
Ours is an age of commerce, an age of devotion to material things; but that devotion has none of grossness nor is it in any sense inconsistent with a just devotion to higher things. Thus far, the argument has been largely negative, an effort to show that this age is not worse, but possibly better than its predecessors. The positive argument remains, to show that, because of commercialism, this age on the whole is vastly better than its predecessors.
The twentieth century opens with the establishment of a Permanent Court of International Arbitration, for which the world is indebted to the great commercial nations. The Hague conference was called by the Emperor of Russia, a nation not usually regarded as commercial, but that conference was due primarily to the course of Great Britain and the United States, which had tested arbitration and, by submitting to awards, not always just, had set the example for other nations. Peace between nations depends no longer merely upon armies and navies. War is no longer a matter affecting only the internal affairs of the nations directly involved; it concerns all, for commercial bonds unite all. Divine right of kingly authority is becoming an abstraction; the king bows to his subject and restrains his greed for conquest when bankers refuse to finance his loans. The exigencies of commerce have aroused a public opinion which curbs rapacity and demands arbitration of international disputes. War between Great Britain and the United States is well-nigh impossible—it would lead to financial ruin in both countries. The terrible conflict between Slav and Teuton, for which