“Grave as are the evils and formidable the dangers which confront mankind today, this is not the moment to lose heart.”
This was the message which Sir Herbert Samuel, leader of the Liberal party, gave to the audience which heard his presidential address before the British Institute of Philosophy.
Sir Herbert, who is also a leader of British Jewry, said the nations of Europe are “cowering” before a snake which does not exist.
“It is high time to cease the talk of a fatality which is bringing us all to disaster,” he asserted, “a fatality which is irresistible, strive as we may.
“The notion is the merest super-stitution, without foundation or substance, but a superstition of a pestilent and dangerous kind…. Let us not put too high the evils and the dangers, real as they are, of our times.”
Sir Herbert said that, in spite of the saber-rattling and destitution, the countries in which militarism is supreme are still a small minority, whereas the standard of living, taking mankind as a whole, has been higher in modern times than ever before in the course of history.
Religion, he declared, has been the chief agent in promoting morality, but at the present time this force has been weakening.
“Wherever we look,” he said, “we see a growing divorce between religion and daily life. The hold of the creeds upon conduct has been loosening.”
Sir Herbert then said that the Hagelian doctrine of the reality and supremacy of the state is the root of much of the evil of these times. Maintaining that the doctrine rests upon a delusion, he stated that in Great Britain thought has moved along other lines.
He then told of Professor Albert Einstein remarking once that the present troubles of the world have resulted from the fact that science has been advancing more rapidly than morals. When morals caught up with science, Dr. Einstein said, happier times would arrive.