- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 23 Mar 1916, p. 137-151
- Mulloy, Lt.-Col., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Democracy and the volunteer system. Asking whether the volunteer system is best suited to us; is it economical? These questions being asked today by ten thousands of Canadians, both in and out of the King's uniform. A few words on the phenomena of war itself: an examination of several schools of thought on war. Questions asked of a group of 56 cadets in the Royal Military College in the autumn of 1913 for two reasons: to get a grade on the thought and initiative of each individual student; to discover how far the chloroform of pacifism was affecting the mind of the rising generation. Responses and results of the questions asked. The need for right to be backed up by the shadows of might; with the shadow of force and occasionally they must be supported by force itself. The present war a case in point, and how that is so. In self-preservation and in duty, we are bound to raise an army; bound to raise the largest and most effective army which is compatible with our ability to maintain it in the field at our own expense and keep it supplied with recruits. Asking whether or not the volunteer system does this; responding that it does not. An examination of the volunteer system. The volunteer system inefficient, uncertain, and unequal to the strain of a really great war. A more serious charge against the volunteer system: it is antagonistic to the spirit of free institutions; it is undemocratic. Looking at the volunteer system from the standpoint of business. Such a system wasteful of our national energy. The speaker's belief that the volunteer system lacks dignity and smacks of insincerity, if not of moral weakness. An explanation of this point. A summary.
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- 23 Mar 1916
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- THE DUTY OF CANADA AND HER SONS TO THE EMPIRE
AN ADDRESS BY LT.-COL. MULLOY
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto March 23, 1916
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN,-I wish to thank you, sir, for the kindly expressions to which you have given utterance, and I wish to thank the Club and to express my sincere appreciation of the honour conferred upon me in asking me to address you.
If I might begin my talk, Mr. President, with a little story it would save me an introduction and perhaps save time. In the early period of our history in this country, before society was as well organized as it is at the present time, and in particular, before educational facilities were as plentiful and as generous as at present, there was a certain minister of the gospel whose education did not quite equal his ambition, and who, anxious to improve his vocabulary, possessed himself of one of the old fashioned vest pocket dictionaries of a non-pronouncing type and it was his wont to pick out a word which he wanted for his sermon, take a shot at the pronunciation and then, working it well into his next discourse, as we work a recruit until he is like the rest, it became part of his vocabulary. In this way he chose the word " phenomena," but the pronunciation he got was "feenameena." The following Sunday it wad feenameena here and feenameena there.-, It was 'this, that and the other startling feenameena. Going home with one of the pioneer parishioners, the farmer asked him about it. "Oh," said the clergyman, "did you notice it ? Do you know the meaning of it ?" "Well," said the farmer, "I don't think I do." "Well now," said the reverend, "perhaps I can explain. You see that cow ? That is not a feenameena. ' Did you hear that lark singing up there ? That is not a feenameena. You see that thistle nestling in the grass ? Neither is that a feenameena. But, my dear brother, if that cow were to sit down on that thistle and sing like that lark, that would be a feenameena."
Now, having asked from Col. Stewart and obtained a bound volume of the, speeches delivered to this Club last year, it struck me that it would be a phenomena if I could come up here and give anything very informing to men whose minds had been inundated, not to say devastated, by such a vast amount of knowledge _ concerning the war-lectures on Germany, on Austria, on France, on Belgium, in fact, it seems to me the only thing left me was a lecture on Portuguese or Africa.
However, when I could not choose a subject concerning the war directly, I chose one dealing with one of the problems arising out of the war and which confronts the Canadian people at the present time : The subject, " Democracy and the Volunteer System."
We are depending today, gentlemen, upon the volunteer system to furnish us with a weapon wherewith to meet our enemies in the field, wherewith to vindicate out national honour and uphold the splendid traditions of our race; a weapon with which we hope to fight for posterity, to produce, perhaps, the saddest page of Canadian history. After eighteen months of dependence upon this system, ordinary business insight suggests that we look it over carefully in the light of the results it has already achieved and in order to discover if it be the best system for us to continue to employ. Is the volunteer system best suited to us ? Is it economical ? Does it, in other words, with the minimum of expense, of energy and of business derangement, does it give us the maximum of results ? And in the burden which it brings to us, does that system distribute the burden over the various sections of the people in accordance with democratic principles.
These are questions, Mr. President, which today are being asked by ten thousands of Canadians, both in and out of the King's uniform.
Before answering these questions, I should like to say a few words on the phenomena of war itself. War has always been a subject of absorbing interest to the student, to the philanthropist, to the humanitarian, to the political scientist, and, generally, the student of world welfare. Is war a good thing ? Is it an evil thing ? Is it a mixture of both. From time immemorial men have divided themselves upon this question. But while there is a great borderland of opinion, we can, roughly speaking, classify the various writers and debaters in history and their attitudes on this subject; we can group them into three schools of thought : The militarist, the moderate, and the pacificist. In other words, the two extreme and the moderate. The militarist view is best expounded
by Lamont, a writer who lived and wrote just prior to the time of the great Napoleon, and by Von Bernhardi of modern notoriety. Lamont held, first, that war was a good thing in itself; in itself a beneficent agency to the human race. That peace brought prosperity, luxury, idleness and immorality. That peace, in other words, set up a sort of gangrene in the body politic, and that war was the surgeon's knife cutting, exorcising the gangrenous part from the body part. Or, in the words of Bernhardi, which we all probably know : " War is an absolute necessity and since it is a form of national competition it is in the direct path of evolution and tends to the survival of that nation most fitted to survive." And is therefore, in Bernhardi's idea, a good thing in itself.
Now, I do not think that the views of that extreme school need detain us for a moment. I think even Lamont, or even Von Bernhardi, as he today surveys a stricken Europe, as he looks at Poland-where they say there is not a child living under eight years of age, because the weakest died first, and there have been two harvests; as he looks at defiled Belgium--I think even a Bernhardi must modify his views that war is, in itself, good.
The next school is the moderate school and the school to which a great majority of men belong. This school holds that war is a great evil, bringing in its train a tremendous freight of human misery and woe and sadness.
But that great evil, as it is, it is not so great an evil as other expedients which might conceivably befall a nation, such as the loss of our liberties or the loss of any of those principles which we consider fundamental ones. However, the moderate school admits that war is a possibility and even a probability, and holds it to be the part of wise statesmanship to prepare for it, just' as one would insure himself against an unwelcome or dreaded contingency. That is the moderate school.
The other school of thought is the pacificist. I am not so certain whether it can be called a school of thought. It will be better termed a type of mind, a type of mind that allows the reason to be led by the inclination, where the wish is father to the thought.
Now, the man who has reached the point where he does not allow the wish or inclination to conduct his reason, the man who can coolly weigh and accept the most unpalatable truth to himself is denounced as a long way off the road of mental development. For the man who cannot prevent his wish leading reason is sure to run foul of many of the pitfalls of error. I have always thought that the man mentioned in the scriptures : A fool considereth in his heart there is no Godwas probably a man who felt if there were one and he got a square deal he would probably have a good time in the present world, that is, he was of a pacificist type of mind allowing the wish to be father of his thought. Now, this pacificist type of mind holds, or this pacificist school holds, that war is a relic of a barbarous and untutored age. That it is something in human society that must give way before the advance of thought. And that just as the advance of civilization has abolished slavery as one of our institutions, so he holds or did hold, say, in July, I9 14, that war, especially great wars, were a thing of the past. Another one of his tenets is that war is only made possible by preparing for it. The preparation for war is the only way by which war is possible; the thought is suggestive that preparing to swim is preparation for death by drowning. Now, that is a pacificist thought.
In the autumn of 7973 I had a group of fifty-six cadets in the Royal Military College, boys, bright lads, between the ages of 17 and a r who had been, so to speak, hand picked from the country from Halifax to Vancouver, and I appended one day to the end of a paper of history a question which, I told them, was a thought question. I gave them three options in the questions, my purpose in the question being two-fold : It was, first, to get a grade on the thought and initiative of each individual student. And secondly, to discover how far the chloroform of pacificism was .affecting the mind of the rising generation. And here is the question with the three options which I asked. I said
By what right do twelve million Canadians and Australians occupy one-eighth of the earth's surface while some one hundred and sixty million of their fellow humans are congested in the other seven-eights?
By what right do twelve million Canadians and Australians occupy one-eighth of the earth's surface ?
Or by what right do eight million Canadians occupy a territory equal to the continent of Europe, while some three hundred and fifty millions of Europeans, more highly organized than we are, are confined within the same area ? What right have we to this magnificent heritage, which is just as rich as Europe in natural resources ?
And the third part was this-Germany was even looming in the horizon
By what right do eight millions of Canadians hold down such enormous territory and sixty-five millions Of Germans must be kept within an area less than the Province of British Columbia ?
Now, the boys were practically unanimous in deciding the second option : By what right do eight millions of Canadians occupy a territory equal to the Continent of Europe while some three hundred and fifty trillions of Europeans, more highly organized than we are, are confined within the same area ? What right have we to this magnificent heritage, which is just as rich as Europe in natural resources ? The most foolish answer I received was from a boy who said : Our right to this territory is because we are a superior people. You would be surprised, Mr. President, how much that answer lies in the back of the average man of this country. I have been practically recruiting for eight months and I have run up against it. And you will find any amount of men in this country who will tell you : No matter what happens, that somehow or other, whether we fight or whether we don't we are going to come out all right. History has only one verdict : A people who would not fight passes into the position of inferior races. That was that answer : Because we are a superior people. I held up that answer, without giving the boy's name. The answer brought down the ridicule of the class. That boy, I am glad to say; with slightly modified ideas, I hope, is doing his bit in Flanders.
Another small group of answers was to the effect that our right to this territory was the right of first comers, and I held that up for criticism. And some boy at once said that we were not the first comers. The first came from France. Before the French came the North' American 'Indians and before them the mound builders and, goodness knows, who before them. And history does not hold out any hope that even although you were the first comers that that is a valid right to territory. The largest group of answers practically agreed on this point, that our best right to our territory was the right of international consent.
Now, this was in time of peace. I said, "That looks a good answer; what is the matter with it ?"
It was not long before one boy said, "Well sir, international consent is only good so long as they consent." International consent does not apply when diplomatic relations are broken off. And as we can see; as they boy pointed out then, international consent don't save Poland to the Poles; Korea to the Koreans; New Mexico to the Mexicians, and it will not save Mexico tomorrow to the Mexicans, and it will not save Belgium to the Belgians until we can mobilize superior physical forces. But there was one lad who gave an answer which would seem to defy criticism. And he said : "Our right to our territory, in case a challenge comes, lies in our ability to defend it against all comers." That lad a month after the war began enlisted as a subaltern in one of the British line regiments and gave his life in support of that answer at the battle of Neuve Chapelle. And his answer was right ! Do not misunderstand me-I am not saying that might is right, but I do say, and I say it after deliberation, that right must constantly be backed up by the shadows of might; with the shadow of force and occasionally they must be supported by force itself. In fact, the average man leans more in the shadow of force than most of us are aware. We are all particularly prompt in paying our taxes. Not that we are such a particularly prompt people--I do not know about you but I know for me if I do not pay my taxes I have a vision of the sheriff taking forcible possession of my goods and chattels. And take it in the case of the law;the whole volume of the law would be mere waste verbiage, if we could not see in the background the picture of the police court, the judge, the jury and constable and in the last resort, the army. This is true in our national life, in our international affairs. You may study the questions from whatever angle you will and as profoundly as you may and I think you will inevitably be driven to the same conclusion, that given human nature and fraternal relations as situate in the beginning of the twentieth century and a nation's right to its territory is ultimately, or in the last analysis, grounded in physical force. The present war is a case in point. From the very moment that the German purpose was unmasked we recognized in it a challenge to the sovereignty of every square foot of British soil, no matter how remote, and we also recognize in it a like challenge to these priceless democratic principles, rights and liberties which our fathers won for us through centuries of political agitation; and many of whichwere actually forged in the heat and hammered out on the anvil of civil war itself. We recognize a challenge, and so we are committed to this war and must pursue it with all its horrid details to a victorious end or, in the alternative, be cast from the roll of sovereign people, and have our activities and our destinies regulated and' directed from without by a stronger race. We prefer war to that! And so, no matter what the sacrifice, we prefer war to that alternative. And so we are fighting, and fighting we must win or die as a free people. There is our position.
Now, sirs, if I have carried you with me thus far it follows that we are in self-preservation and in duty bound to raise an army; not only bound to raise an army but bound to raise the largest and most effective army which is compatible, I will say, with our ability to maintain it in the field at our own expense and keep it supplied with recruits. That is, we are in duty bound to raise an army and, raising that army, we must keep one eve on the fighting power of the nation and one eye on the wealth-producing part of the nation, and neither must be allowed to suffer. Not only must we raise such an army but we must place the burden, as we are a domocracy, we must raise that army in such a way that the burden of it is evenly and equitably distributed among the people in proportion with their ability to pay.
Now, does the volunteer system do this ? I do not think that its most ardent advocate will claim it does. For, in the first place, you cannot raise a large army with a volunteer system. And if you had it raised, you would not be certain of a steady stream of recruits. And in the second place, so far as the direct burden being equitably distributed, it is not distributed at all. It is simply laid down there en masse before the whole people and each person can take what he wills of it, much, little or none at all. That is the volunteer system. Now, an apologist for the volunteer system will tell you in the suavest manner possible, as a man told me, not a long time ago : That after all, don't you know, the volunteer system is peculiarly adapted to the spirit of our free institutions. And I asked him what he meant and he did not know. He used euphemistic phraseology : "Peculiarly adapted to the spirit of our free institutions." If he meant, as I told him, that our people objected to any form of compulsory action then why not, to be consistent, do away will all compulsory action. If we must burn incense before this fetish of voluntary action, why not have the consistency to go the whole road and collect our taxes, pay our legislators, our judges and our civil servants by means of volunteer subscriptions. To be consistent, if our people so object to compulsory action. But that apology, as you see, will not hold water.
Another apologist says : While this voluntary system, you know, was handed down to us from holy antiquity. It is the system which served our fathers in the various crises through which they passed and it is good enough for them and it is good enough for us. Unfortunately-for that opinion is widely held-it does not coincide with historical fact. The British system up until the close of the Napoleonic struggle always was, and always has been the system of the military levy, the compulsory military levy, each county, town, parish, village, it will furnish its quota of military men. It was not until the middle of the eighteenth century, with the exception of a few corps of garrison, that such a thing as the volunteer corps existed in G-roat Britain. In 1757, a year after the outbreak of the Seven Years' war, government unpreparedness was so marked on the one hand and popular fear of invasion was great on the other, that we have boric this child of fear and weakness, the volunteer system. And the British Government had to pass an Act in 1757 regularizing and recognizing the socalled volunteer corps. But remember the system of the local levy, or policy, did not last-the volunteer system was simply superimposed or accepted as an adjunct. In fact, if you look into history you will find that in the history of no nation has the volunteer system ever proven equal to the test of a really great war. To my knowledge there are only two wars in British history in which the draft was not used. Those two wars were the Crimean war and the Boer War. In the Napoleonic system, as I intimated, Britain has to use the draft; in fact, in 1812 we used the draft in Canada. In that sanguinary struggle known as the American Civil war, both the North and the South were compelled to admit that the volunteer system could not be depended upon for a national army in a time of real crisis. And today, after one of the most magnificent responses that has ever been made in history to a call for volunteers, Great Britain has had to fall back on the compulsory levy or conscription.
So there I make my first point against the volunteer system. It is inefficient; it is uncertain, and it is unequal to the strain of a really great war.
But there is another, a more serious charge which, to my mind, can be laid at its door. That is, a more serious charge when it is considered by free people or by a democracy. The essence of democracy is equality; that is, equality in the eye of the State, from the standpoint of the State. The state gives to all equal protection, equal opportunity and equal justice. The citizen in his turn accepts and assumes the responsibility of maintaining the state in peace and defending it in time of war. And that last is true of every state that the world has ever produced, from ancient Egypt and Babylon to the most modern or latest state which is created. The citizen in assuming citizen rights, ipso facto, assumes citizen's responsibilities. And there is no so-called conscientious objection which invalidates this unwritten point, which underlies the reciprocal relation between all states and their citizens. Whatever the State gives to the citizen, more or less right, the citizen always assumes responsibility for maintaining its peace and defending it in war. This basic principle of equality, I said, was true of the democratic state. If I can go to the Minister of Finance tomorrow and prove to him that a certain schedule of the tariff works a genuine hardship upon a certain section of the Canadian people, I have established a bona fide case for the redrafting of the schedule; if I canpoint out to our legislature that a law we had upon the Statute books works discriminatory or works. an injustice to a most insignificant minority of the most humble citizens, I have established a case forthe rescinding and re-drafting of that Statute.
Now, gentlemen, if this equality be true in the administration of justice, if it be true in the levy of taxation for the maintenance of the State in time of peace, that is, the levying of taxation, the collection of dollars and cents to keep up the State-should:. it not be even more true when the levy is in blood, when the toll collected is in disability, bereavement and death. To repeat it : If it is a democratic principle that in the administration of justice, in the collection of taxes, the burden be evenly and equitablydistributed upon all sections of the people, accordingto their power to bear it, is it not even truer democracy that in a life and death struggle for the existence of the state itself, the men for that struggle should be drawn with the same due regard to the proportionate bearing of the burden ?
And that is the second point which I make against the volunteer system. So far from being adopted to. the spirit of free institutions, it is antagonistic; that is, it is undemocratic, not only inefficient but undemocratic. Look at the volunteer system just for a moment from the standpoint of business. And it is hardly necessary for me to come to Toronto to tell you anything on that heading. One of your Toronto dailies yesterday carried an advertisement for something like 12 7 skilled mechanics. Consider the tens of thousands of men that have been recruited, and are being recruited today from our agricultural,, from our factories, from our metal and from our other industries, and consider the equal number of slackers who adorn our street corners, our pool rooms, our picture shows and who refuse to answer the call. Now, the State owes something to this latter class. Here is where the weakness of this system comes in; that when you step out on the platform as I have had to do for eight months and call upon men to come forward, that the State wants them, the State is depending upon them, they are the last ditch of the State's defence-the class of men who hear that call is the man that already has a disciplined mind. He is the man that needs army training the least in a community. And the man who does not hear the call is the man to whom the regular life and habits, the discipline, the power of self-control and the power of concentration which he would obtain in the army service would be an inestimable boon to him. That is how it happens that your call reaches the men whom we can least afford to lose and falls on deaf ears in the case of the men who would be most beneficially served by serving in the army. In fact, as I look over the situation I remember an incident which came to my knowledge not very long ago, and I felt some responsibility for it too. I had a meeting in a country district. And there was a farmer there, a man about thirty-seven or thirty-eight years of age, a husky, free man of the soil with five children and he felt the call and he came. And he made preparations to rent his little farm and to find a place of abode for his wife and children, and he is serving in the ranks today. And one of that man's nearest neighbours has four sons, a little bit of a farm that can't employ them, and three of those boys are eligible, and not one of them has heard the call. And that is happening all over Canada. And I can quite sympathize with Baron Shaughnessy in his appeal on behalf of the industries of this country; though I do not quite agree with him in its application. I do not say stop recruiting but I would, if I had the power, stop this system of recruiting which is so wasteful of our business and of our economic energy.
There is just one more point against this system and I am through. I have tried to show to you that the system is inefficient, unreliable and could not stand the strain of a great war; that it is inequitable and undemocratic and that it is thoroughly wasteful of our national energy. To me, also, the system lacks dignity and smacks of insincerity, if not of moral weakness. Let me explain. The very essence, the essential conditions of free will offering is freedom to refuse, is it not ? And freedom to refuse without incurring odium. If you stand upon a dock in the summer and a child falls into the water accidentally, and you have a wife and children you incur no moral obligation if you think of the wife and children, if you are but an indifferent swimmer, it is a matter of volunteering. I say voluntary or freewill giving is one of the conditions or his freedom to refuse. Now then, so long as Canada by her attitude implies that each citizen is free to adopt whatever attitude he believes towards this war, so long I maintain, Mr. President, does that attitude of Canada give a legal justification to the man who says, "It is none of my business." You follow me ! So long as Canada by her actions implies that each citizen is free to adopt what attitude he likes towards the war, so long that attitude will give a legal justification to the man who says, " It is no concern of mine." Let me give an illustration. A few days ago in one of our Canadian towns a returned invalided soldier,
partly incapacitated for life, was acting as a recruiting sergeant and he accosted a young man who looked a likely recruit, with the object of enlisting him. That a young man told the recruiting sergeant in so many words that he did not intend to enlist, he did not intend to serve until the State called him or the State compelled him to. And furthermore he thought that the man that did otherwise was a fool. What I meant, when I said this lacks dignity is this : That the man who stays at homeindeed, that callous loafer had what the Americans call, the horsesense to put his finger on the weak spot of the whole situation The man who stays at home today can turn to the representative who comes back disabled for life and say: "Why did you go on the venture? You did not have to go." And I said it would add dignity to this thing if we made it-that sergeant fellow as I talked to him found that his country did not think this matter in which he had given up his best was of sufficient importance to make it the vital concern of the citizens.
Now, to put the thing in a nutshell : In this affair of undergoing hardship and fighting and bleeding and dying for the people of Canada, it is either a matter which concerns all the men of Canada or does not concern any. That is putting the thing briefly. That is the situation. Now, sir, I am proud, and I am sure we are all proud, to hear our legislatures and our members with one united voice proclaim to the world that we are in this struggle to the last dollar and the last boot strap, and I was going to say, of the last honourary colonel. There is not a legislature, provincial or federal; there is not a paper, from those of our great dailies to that of the most obscure rural weekly-in fact, there is not a man on the street with a modicum of brains and insight that does not know that this volunteer system, in so far as efficiency goes is a make believe and that does not know that the first instalment of the compulsory method of conducting a national war is a classification of our industries and registrations of our man power. And who does not know also that the second step is democratic compulsion or compulsion from within. Look at our two mother countries, France and England. France since the beginning of this war has never faltered or flinched from any sacrifice however great. The great spirit of her great free democracy has inspired her sons to acts of the most exalted heroism. With steady eyes they have marched unflinching into the maelstrom of death and poured out their blood like water on behalf of French freedom, French language and French ideals of civilization, in the full recognition that for months the British Empire, the inviolability of the Empire depended on French initiative and the valour of a French conscript army. Now the sturdy British people have got through faking and shamming. They have adopted conscription 'and hurried to the side of their chivalrous ally. Now then, with those two great democracies fighting side by side, shoulder to shoulder, in the great struggle for human freedom shall Canada, shall we who are the true offspring of these two giant parent stocks, shall we cower in fear before the name of national service. Shall we be afraid to adopt that system which is best suited to our democracy and to the needs of our present time? I think not. And I hope that we will soon, forthwith I would like to say, adopt that system. Have done with the sham, lay hold upon the real, and then we can go forward in the confidence and assurance that our united material effort will be added to the moral strength of our fathers.
A hearty vote of thanks was passed.