The Forerunners
by Romain Rolland
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[40] G. Thuriot-Franchi, Les Marches de France.

[41] Andreas Latzko, Menschen im Krieg, Rascher, Zurich, 1917; English translation, Men in Battle, Cassell, London, 1918.

[42] Andreas Latzko is a Hungarian officer. He was wounded on the Italian front during the fighting of 1915-16.

[43] Stefan Zweig, Jeremias, eine dramatische Dichtung in neun Bildern, Insel-Verlag, Leipzig, 1917.

[44] Les Temps maudits, "demain," Geneva.

[45] Vous etes des hommes, "Nouvelle Revue Francaise," Paris; and Poeme contre le grand crime, "demain," Geneva; above all the admirable Danse des Morts, "Les Tablettes," Geneva, republished by "L'Action Sociale," La-Chaux-de-Fonds.

[46] Mr. Britling sees it Through, Cassell, London, 1916.

[47] The Fortune, a Romance of Friendship, Maunsel, Dublin and London, 1917.

[48] G. F. Nicolai, M.D., sometime professor of physiology at Berlin University, Die Biologie des Krieges, Betrachtungen eines Naturforschers den Deutschen zur Besinnung, Orell Fuessli, Zurich, 1917; English translation, The Biology of War, Dent, London, 1919.

[49] Cf. especially Chapter Six, an interesting account of the development of armies from ancient times down to to-day, when we have the armed nation. Also Chapter Fourteen, which deals with war and peace as reflected in the writings of ancient and modern poets and philosophers.

[50] Erfassen. Nicolai points out that the figurative meaning of the word "erfassen" like that of "apprehend" and "comprehend" [or of the native "grasp"] is a metaphysical extension of the primitive "prehension" by the hand.

[51] I ignore, in the text, the abundant proofs Nicolai draws from ethnology and from the history of the lower animals. He shows, for example, that the most primitive peoples, the Bushmen, the Fuegians, the Eskimos, etc., live in hordes even when they display no tendency towards family life. All savages are gregarious in the extreme; solitude is disastrous to them alike physically and mentally. Even civilised man finds solitude hard to bear.

[52] Faust, Part II, 5. Mephistopheles' words, when he hands over to Faust the proceeds of a voyage. [War, trade, and piracy are trinity in unity—inseparable.]

[53] "Everything which exists, above all everything which lives, tends towards immeasurable increase."

[54] For unicellular organisms, osmosis imposes a limit; for multicellular organisms there is a mechanical limit to size; for the groupings of individuals to form collectivities, social communities, there is a limit fixed by the amount of available energy.

[55] Pp. 160 to 163 [English edition].

[56] On p. 255 [of the English edition] will be found an ethnographical chart of Germany. It is distinctly humorous.

[57] This statement requires qualification. The reader is referred to a note at the end of the volume.

[58] Jeheber, Geneva, 1915.

[59] Buddhist Views of War, "The Open Court," May, 1904.

[60] The actual words in my play are: "The nations die that God may live."

[61] Nicolai terms them "chance products" (sind nur zufaellige Produkte).

[62] It is surprising that there is but one mention of Auguste Comte in Nicolai's book; for Comte's Great Human Being is certainly akin to the German biologist's Humanity.

[63] We shall do well to note that Nicolai practically considers himself exempt from the need for these material demonstrations. As far as he is concerned, it would suffice him, as it sufficed Aristotle, to observe the play of forces among men. This simple observation would convince him that humanity must be regarded as an organism. "But moderns, although they will generally deny it, are for the most part infected with the belief that all solid fact must be material.... Even though it be not absolutely necessary to demonstrate that there exists between human beings a bridge of real substance (eine Bruecke realer Substanz), even though the dynamic ties suffice us, it is desirable to satisfy the materialistic demands of our day, and to show that there does actually exist between the men of all ages and all lands an effective interconnection, which is uniform, persistent, nay eternal" [pp. 392-393, English edition].

[64] According to this theory, which was initiated by Gustav Jaeger in 1878, there occurs an eternal transmission of an inheritable germ plasm, this being temporarily housed within the perishable soma of the individual living being. The hypothesis of the undying plasma has given rise to lively discussions which are still in progress.

[65] Ueber Ursprung und Bedeutung der Amphimixis, "Biolog. Zentralblatt," xxvi, No. 22, 1906.

[66] This seems to me the weak point in the theory. How can we reconcile the mutation and the variability of the germ plasm, with its immortality and its eternal transmission?

[67] Species and Varieties: their Origin by Mutation, Kegan Paul, London, 1905.

[68] Closing sections of Chapter Thirteen.

[69] I should like to give an account here of Nicolai's solution of the problem of liberty. He discusses the matter in one of the most important sections of his book.—How can a biologist, filled with a feeling of universal necessity, find place, amid that necessity and without prejudice to it, for human freedom? One of the most notable characteristics of this great mind, is Nicolai's power of associating within himself two rival and complementary forces. He makes a suggestive study, at once philosophic and physiological, of the anatomy of the brain and of the almost infinite possibilities the brain holds for the future (all unknown to us to-day), of the thousands of roads which are marked out in the brain many centuries before humanity dreams of using them.—But to follow up this study would lead us beyond the scope of the present article. I must refer the reader to pp. 58-68 of The Biology of War [English edition]. These pages are a model of scientific intuition.

[70] Chapter Ten, p. 309 [English edition].

[71] Chapter Fourteen.

[72] Chapter Ten, pp. 270-271 [English edition].

[73] Introduction, p. 11 [English edition].

[74] "Um dem guten und gerechten Menschen meine triumphierende Sicherheit zu geben." Introduction [p. 10, English edition].

[75] The most important of these studies have been collected in the great work Les Fourmis de la Suisse (Nouveaux memoires de la Societe helvetique des Sciences naturelles, vol. xxvi, Zurich, 1874), and in the admirable series Experiences et remarques pratiques sur les sensations des insectes, published in five parts in the "Rivista di Scienze biologiche," Como, 1900-1901. [Two only of Forel's writings on insects are available in the English language: The Senses of Insects, Methuen, London, 1908; and Ants and some other Insects, Kegan Paul, London, 1904.] But these works form no more than a fraction of the author's studies written on this subject. Dr. Forel recently told me that since the publication in 1874 of the work which has become a classic, he has penned no less than 226 essays upon ants.

[76] Some of these soldier ants function also as butchers, cutting up the prey into small fragments.

[77] Insect Life, Macmillan, London, 1901.

[78] Mutual Aid, Heinemann, London, 1915.

[79] Auguste Forel, Les Fourmis de la Suisse, pp. 261-263.

[80] Op. cit. p. 249.

[81] Polyergus rufescens.

[82] Op. cit. pp. 266-273.

[83] A great cause of error, among those who study insects, is to apply uncritically to an entire genus, observations made upon one or upon a few species. The species of insects are very numerous. Among ants alone, so Forel informs me, there are more than 7,500 species. These species exhibit all shades, all degrees, of instinct.

[84] I am well aware that the concluding statement in the text is in total contradiction with the thought of Auguste Forel, who denies free will. I do not propose here to reopen the agelong dispute between free will and determinism, which seems to me largely verbal. I shall consider the question elsewhere.

[85] For instance, the Institut fuer Kulturforschung (Institute for the Study of Civilisation) of Vienna (see above p. 19). This Institute has just founded a Society for the Study of World Civilisation, which issues a periodical entitled "Erde, a journal for the intellectual life of the whole of mankind." The first number, which comes to hand while I am correcting the proof of these pages, is throughout an ardent confession of "panhumanist" faith.

[86] A Great European, G. F. Nicolai ("demain," October and November 1917).—See Chapter XX above.

[87] Steen Hasselbach, Copenhagen. First issue, October 1, 1918.

[88] Why I left Germany. An open letter to the Unknown who rules Germany.—The German article has been republished in pamphlet form by A. G. Benteli, Buempliz-Bern, Switzerland, 1918.

[89] In telling this part of the story, Nicolai conceals most of the details of his flight. Too many are implicated, and they would suffer if he were explicit. Already, he tells us, an innocent person, the betrothed of one of his companions, has been imprisoned.—Some day he will write a memoir of his military experiences.

[90] This Aufruf an die Europaeer is reprinted, in the first issue of "Das werdende Europa" immediately after the article I have just been analysing, and Nicolai appeals to all readers who sympathise with it to send him their signatures.

[91] Subsequent events have shown that this did not amount to much, after all. The moral abdication of President Wilson, abandoning his own principles without having the honesty to admit the fact, signalises the ruin of that lofty bourgeois idealism which, for a century and a half, gave to the ruling class, notwithstanding many mistakes, both strength and prestige. The consequences of such an act are incalculable.


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