Recklessness of consequences is a trait which physicians usually look for in certain types of mental disorder, and here again the militarist presents the symptoms of a man who is sick. What cares he for consequences? The naval experts of Germany are dragging the German Empire ever deeper into debt, unabashed by the ominous mutterings of a coming storm. The naval experts of England go right on launching Dreadnoughts, while the number of British paupers grows larger with the years, and all British problems become increasingly baffling and alarming. The naval experts of Russia plan for a new billion-dollar navy, notwithstanding Russia’s national debt is four and one-quarter billion dollars, and to pay her current expenses she is compelled to borrow seventy-five million dollars every year. With millions of her people on the verge of starvation, and beggars swarming through the streets of her cities and round the stations of her railways, the naval experts go on asking new appropriations for guns.
The terror of a patient who is suffering from mental derangement is often pathetic. Surround him with granite walls, ten in number, and every wall ten feet thick, and he will still insist that he is unprotected. So it is with the militarist. No nation has ever yet voted appropriations sufficient to quiet his uneasy heart. England’s formula of naval strength has for some time been: The British navy in capital ships must equal the next two strongest navies, plus ten per cent. But notwithstanding the British navy is to-day in battleships and cruisers and torpedo boats almost equal to the next three strongest navies, never has England’s security been so precarious, according to her greatest military experts, as to-day. It has been discovered at the eleventh hour that her mighty navy is no safeguard at all, unless backed up by a citizen army of at least a million men. It was once the aim to protect England against probable combinations against her. The ambition now is to protect her against all possible combinations. In the words of a high authority in the British army, she must protect herself not only against the dangers she has any reason to expect, but also against those which nobody expects.
Like many another fever, militarism grows by what it feeds on, and unless checked by heroic measures is certain to burn the patient up. Men in a delirium seldom have a sense of humor. The world is fearfully grim to them, and life a solemn and tragic thing. They express absurdities with a sober face, and make ridiculous assertions without a smile. It may be the militarists are in a sort of delirium. At any rate, they publish articles entitled, “Armies the Real Promoters of Peace,” without laughing aloud at the grotesqueness of what they are doing.
The militarist is comic in his seriousness. He says that if you want to keep the peace you must prepare for war, and yet he knows that where men prepare for war by carrying bowie knives, peace is a thing unheard of, and that where every man is armed with a revolver, the list of homicides is longest. He declares his belief in kindly feelings and gentle manners, and proceeds at once to prove that a nation ought to make itself look as ferocious as possible. In order to induce nations to be gentlemen, he would have them all imitate the habits of rowdies. To many persons this seems ludicrous, to a militarist it is no joke. He is champion of peace, but he wants to carry a gun. The man who paces up and down my front pavement with a gun on his shoulder may have peaceful sentiments, but he does not infuse peace into me. It does not help matters for him to shout out every few minutes, “I will not hurt you if you behave yourself,” for I do not know his standard of good behavior, and the very sight of the gun keeps me in a state of chronic alarm. But the militarist says that, for promoting harmonious sentiments and peaceful emotions, there is nothing equal to an abundance of well-constructed guns.