prophetic linkage - The New Republic

December 7, ig2i
As for the United States's policy so far as revealed, the test question is whether Mr. Root's
'our points are meant to sanction the status quo
in China. If events as they continue to develop
show that such is their main intent, then we may
^^ sure that the administration in order to secure
itself politically with the Amei-ican people, is will'ng to bargain with Japan and Great Britain at
the expense of China. There has been a cryptic
intimation that the recognition of China's sovereignty by these Root pi-inciples is equivalent to en'Orcing against her all the treaties and commitnients which she has signed—for otherwise China
would not be sovereign in her treaty-making
power! This ingenious device is worthy of that
|ype of American legal mind which has found that
't is interference with the liberty of the American
Workingman to do anything to place him in a secure position of freedom. But it is almost inconceivable—unfortunately not quite—that the problenis of the Far East should be approached in this
Of course it is something to improve China's con/^ition for the future. But the forces which arc
pperating because of the things that have been done
'^ the past will not stop operating because a Conference of powers in Washington decides that such
^nd such things shall be done in the future. The
only successfur way to regulate the future is by
dealing with conditions that now exist. Diplomats
S'Fe wont to square the circle and perform other
inipossibilities. To consecrate the status quo in
China and then to resolve that things shall be done
differently in the future is another of these miracles
°^ diplomacy.
Is the American press going to feed that portion
the Amei-ican public which requires a happy
i to every novel and drama? Or is it going
take the risk of offending American sentiment
pride by ceasing to proclaim every move as a
advance, and every remark of a foreign
'Plomat as a tribute to American success, and a
_^iison for swelling American pride? The danger
^ the greater because our vanity got such a terrible
P'^'ck at Versailles—a wound that had much to
0 with our withdrawal into our shell. Now that
^ have put our heads out again, we are looking
^1" solace and compensation. There are foreign
*Plomats skilled enough to salve our wounds while
"^y achieve in fact their own ends. If we are not
^ niuch inclined to spend our energy in gladsome
"Bering, we are more likely to attain that "happy
/iding" to the Washington dram^ which is so much
^eded by our mental habit and by our still sore
A Second Journey to
N 1919 Pan-Africa was a phase of war—an
attempt to call the attention of a world in
travail to the plight of a race. The cry was heard
but hardly understood, for other and greater cries
drowned it. But in 1921 there seemed to come a
chance to test the depth and meaning of PanAfrican consciousness.
Three sets of audiences gathered in London,
Brussels and Paris for the Second Pan-African
Congress. In the English gatherings were Negroes
and mulattoes from West and South Africa, British Guiana, Grenada, Jamaica, Nigeria and the
Gold Coast; Indians from India and East Africa;
colored men from London and twenty-five American Negroes. The voices were outspoken after
a rather timid and apologetic opening. The resolutions—strong and clear, with their plain leaning
toward Industrial democracy, went through without a dissenting voice, though some older repi-escntatives of white British philanthropy were evidently not content.
• This British attitude showed itself best in %
conference arranged by the Aborigines' Protection
Society with Sir Sidney Olivier, former Governor
of Jamaica, in the chair. Their secretary promptly
put the burden of position on us by offering three
resolutions for our adoption, on Land, Labor, and
Conscription in Africa. Our committee replied
that a demand for "sufficient lands" "to provide
for the economic independence of the family units"
in Africa did not go far enough; that we agreed
with their opposition to the new slavery and did
not agree that France had no right to conscript
her black as well as her white citizens, so long as
conscription was her policy, and so long as she
recognized racial equality; and that France did
come nearer this recognition than any other modern land. Then we in turn changed the subject and
spoke freely of the future relations of philanthropy and the Negro problem, laying down the
principle that Negro effort aided by white cooperation must be the rule rather than white effort
carried on without reference to the opinion and
wishes of black folk or with only casual consultation of picked representatives.
In contrast to this attitude was our conference
with the foreign relations committee of the Labor
party. There we sought to let men like Clynes,
Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Lowes Dickinson, Mrs.
Philip Snowden, Leonard Woolf, C. P. Buxton,
Sir G. Fordham and others, know the real oneness
of black and white labor problems. They were not
perhaps entirely convinced, but they were deeply
sympathetic and were plainly seeking information
rather than hoping to give advice.
In Belgium the scene changed. We had here
audiences predominantly white and local, but the
Belgian Congo was strongly represented, the
American group was increased, and the French
colonies and Abyssinia appeared. Not only was
this a change of personnel but the language difficulty was to the fore, leaving the thirty Americans
for the most part linguistically stranded; and, too,
a new spirit was in the air. We sensed the Fear
about us in a war-land with nerves still taut. It
had taken swift work with M. Frank, .the Colonial
Minister, and others, and pro'bably some diplomatic
interchanges, to keep us from being denied admission to Belgium, and particularly the use of the
State building, the Palais Mondial. The opening
session was palpitating with curiosity and the press
tables were crowded. Two Generals graced the platform where presided the black Senegalese, Blaise
Diagne, President of the Congress and French
Deputy and High Commissioner of African troops.
A white French deputy was also there, an
Abyssinian, and an American colored woman;
the Colonial Office was represented by two officials
who pointedly declined platform seats; there were
also present, a group of international students, several hundred white Belgians, and many black
Congolese.For two days the speeches went on smoothly—
too smoothly, I felt, because nothing was being
said but platitudes—not a word about the past
in the Congo; not a word about the present; only
a hint of a future with some education, some recognition of the chiefs, some industrial betterment.
To this was added every effort to show what Belgium had done for the Negro. And here there was
much to be said: we stood astounded before the
crowning wonder of that museum at Tervurien.
It was marvelous—the visible, riotous wealth of
the Congo, the startling size of the vast African
empire destined to make Belgium but a physical
fraction of her own black colonial self; the beauty
—the infinite, intriguing, exquisite beauty of Negro
art. And yet in its midst and centre, at the end
of the long, straight, beech-lined avenue of ten
miles, sat Leopold II in ivory; while in the Congress he had not been mentioned!
It was in no spirit of trouble-making but as a
simple duty that I rose the last afternoon and
read in French and in English the resolutions of
London. I did not dream of the consternation
which I would cause; but even if I had, it was
my evident and bounden duty to read our adopted
charter of complaint and hope, even in Belgium.
I had previously made it plain in correspondence
December 7, 1921
that we came not for "revolution" but certainly
for calm and reasoned complaint, and I was unprepared to hear the word which London received
without protest, called "Bolshevist" and "absolutely inadmissible" in Brussels.
Diagne, the Senegalese Frenchman who presided, was beside himself with excitement after the
resolutions were read; as an under-secretary of
the French government, as ranking Negro of
greater France, and perhaps as a successful investor in French colonial enterprises, he was undoubtedly in a difficult position. Possibly he wasbound by actual promises to France and Belgium.
His French was almost too swift for my ears, but
his meaning was clear: he felt that the cause of
the black man in Belgium and France had been
compromised by black American radicals; he especially denounced our demand for "the restoration of the ancient common ownership of the land
in Africa" as rank communism. Panda, the young
black leader of Negro Congo in Belgium, was
curiously perplexed, and my heart went out to him.
White friends—his foster mother, a Belgian general, several members of philanthropic bodies—eddied about him and about Diagne with advice and
warning, while several Belgian officials made
speeches and reporters hunted for copy.
Meantime, the colored Americans were pressing
rather peremptorily for the appointment of a committee on the question of our London resolutions
—forgetting the almost unlimited power of a
French presiding officer. I was both alarmed and
cheered. At least the question had been laid before Belgium and the world. We would not leave
a Negro World Congress without really mentioning
the truth of our problems. On the other hand, if
it could be said that our Congress ended in an^
uproar—or if our French and Belgian colleagues
could be induced to withdraw, the Pan-African
movement would receive a severe, perhaps fatal,
check. Paui Otlet, a white Belgian, "father of the
League of Nations" and co-secretary with Senator
La Fontaine of the Palais Mondial, sought to
calm the waters by a harmless proposal which
Diagne rushed to a vote, even allowing guests and
visitors a voice, and swamping Pan-Africa momentarily under the opinion of white Belgians.
Mr. Otlet's proposition declared Negroes "susceptible" of advancement from their present backward
condition and that their development would rid
humanity of a weight of 200 millions of ignorant
incompetents, and that collaboration between races
on a basis of equ|j[ity was an urgent duty today.
He proposed, therefore, a federation of all uplift
agencies of Negroes and their friends centring
in the Palais Mondial, Belgium.
December 7, ig2i
Diagne's precipitate acceptance of this program "Africa for the Africans" movement, which appleased neither its promoters, like the aged Gen- parently proposed the forcible expulsion of the
eral Sorelas, former pupil of the great Cardinal whites. It was not easy to explain at first that this
Lavigerie—nor yet the American Negroes who Congress was a meeting for conference and
envisaged a bigger, stronger movement and who acquaintanceship, for organization and study;
saw little to encourage them to hope that Belgium that it did not as yet represent any complete,
Was ready to lead in the restoration of Negro settled and adopted policy, but that its members
civilization. Their strong but calm stand finally almost unanimously repudiated any policy of war,
brought order out of threatened chaos: the Otlet conquest, or race hatred. On the other hand, we
resolutions were declared adopted, but the London did agree on an unalterable belief in racial equality
"Manifesto was held for further consideration, to and on the general proposition that the governoe debated on and finally voted on in Paris. After ment and policy of Africa must be designed priadjournment, groups of whites and blacks stood marily for the good' of the Africans themselves
about until dark, discussing in French, Flemish, and not primarily for the profit of colonial
Spanish, Portuguese and English, the meaning of powers.
that whirl of deep feeling which flared before
Here it was that we encountered the central
Fear of France: the main reaction of that organWe came to Paris with a sense of strain and ized thrift of Central Europe which is today govapprehension, only partially allayed by a long, erning and leading economic reorganization after
frank conference with Diagne who acknowledged the war. France recognizes Negro equality not
that his methods in Brussels were high-handed but only in theory but in practice; she has for the
Contended that he had only sought to prevent the most part enfranchised her civilized Negro citizens.
assassination of a race I" The Paris meeting was But what she recognizes is the equal right of her
different from both London and Brussels. It was citizens, black and white, to exploit by modern
'^ot "official"—it had clear and determined ele- industrial methods her laboring classes, black and
'^ents of revolt. It, was outspoken and it was white; and the crying danger to black France is
"itter with complaint. The variety of groups rep- that its educated and voting leaders will join in
resented was larger than in London or Brussels, the industrial robbery of Africa rather than lead
^^d included besides the United States, the former its masses to education and culture. This is not
'merman colonies, the Portuguese colonies, French yet true, but men like Diagne and Candace, while
Senegal, Congo, and the West Indies, British West unwavering defenders of racial opportunity, eduAndia, the Philippines, and Annam. There was no cation for blacks, and the franchise for the civilattempt to control the Congress in the interests of ized, are curiously timid when the industrial prob^'^y one point of view. None of the colored lems of Africa are approached.
<^eputies of the French Parliament attempted to
For instance, they asked us to omit from the
^ave their way exclusively. Every attempt at French version of our English manifesto, seven
Smooth platitude was thwarted. "We arc a little paragraphs which emphasized and particularized
France," cried the Haitian Minister diplomatical- our arraignment of predatory capital in Africa.
'y. "Yes, but France did not give freedom to Haiti The gist of the 'paragraphs lay in these
"^Haiti took it," answered the Americans amid words:
'he wild applause of young Haiti; and they added
If we are coming to recognize that the great modern
that when America seized Haiti, it was not France
problem is to correct maladjustment in the distribution
"^t Black America which made the only effective
of wealth, it must bo remembered that the basic malPfotest.
adjustment is in the outrageously unjust distribution of
world income between the dominant and suppressed
"We are getting on all right in the French
peoples; in the rape of land and raw material; the
^ongo," cried a black Congolese in halting phrase,
monopoly of technique and culture. And in this crime
^t he was followed by a white Frenchman,
wbite labor is particepg criminis with white capital. Un^hallaye, with circumstantial denunciation of
consciously and consciously, carelessly and deliberately,
the vast power of the white labor vote in modern
**Tench methods in her Congo..
democraciips has been cajoled and flattered into imFrench and English officials, two ex-governors
perialistic schemes to enslave and debauch black, brown
'"om Africa, and may prominent whites watched
and yellow labor, until with fatal retribution, they are
he proceedings and reporters questioned us; above
themselves today bound and gagged and rendered im'•^ one thoiight was uppermost: What did this potent by the resulting monopoly of the world's raw
material in the hands of a dominant, cruel and ir-^
Congress mean? What was back of it? What
responsible few.
our objects? Especially we were asked reThe Americans insisted upon including these
peatedly if we represented the West Indian
paragraphs but consented to have them especially
marked as being the opinion of Black America but
reserved by Black France for consideration at the
next Congress.
Back of this serious internal difference of
opinion and policy, which future Congresses must
thresh out, lay a subtler and more fundamental
problem: Europe asked. What do these hundred,
more or less, persons of near and far Negroid
ancestry really represent ? Is this a real Pan-Negro
movement or the work of individuals or of small
groups enthusiastic with an idea but representing
And we ourselves could not answer. Of the
hundred and fifty millions of African Negroes,
few were conscious of our meeting. But a few
were: in South Africa—even in far Swaziland—
in Kenya, East Africa—in the Egyptian Sudan,
in Angola, in Liberia and British West Africa, in
Nigeria and the Gold Coast, in the French and
Belgian Congo and throughout the Americas,
many black men knew definitely.of our meeting
and some attended. But how far did we really
represent and voice them and how far were we
merely floating in the air of our dreams and
ambitions ?
We were undoubtedly an intelligentzia—a small
group of intellectuals interpreting to some extent
but more certainly seeking to guide the public
opinion of our group. Was our interpretation
honest and clear, and would our guidance be fullowed ? Who shall say until Time itself tells ?
But certainly there is today no gainsaying the
ground swell in the Negro race—the great, unresting, mighty surge; it is reported by every
colored official, it is feared by every colonial
power, it is sensed by every intelligent Negro in
every part of the world. What is it? Sometimes
it is revolt against slavery; sometimes revolt
against land theft; sometimes complaint against
low wages, always a chafing at the colorbar.
What part did the Pan-African Congress play
in this worldwide feeling? It did not cause it, as
many accuse; it but partially and fitfully voiced it.
But it did do three things:
1. It brought face to face and in personal contact a group of educated Negroes of the calibre
that might lead black men to emancipation in the
modern world.
2. It discovered among these men more points
of agreement than of difference.
3. It expressed the need of further meetings and strengthened the permanent organization.
December y, IQ2I
The Ambush
E sat in the hedge on the field side, thinkingHe had lots to think about, and it was 3
grand, early summer's day. He took his wife's
letter from his pocket; it was the last he had had
from her.
They were all well at home, they were trying
not to fret about him. The boy was growing great
and had lots of talk. Did he hear about Crowleys,
she asked. She was afraid to put more in the
letter about it, but the lads from Kerry would tell
him. She thought she'd give up the house and go
and live in the town with her mother. Dunne's
house was burned, and theirs was searched four
times in two weeks. Bride Flaherty was taking
this letter to Tralee and maybe he'd get it somehow. He was to keep his head up, and not forget what Bride had told him.
He laid the letter down. In a few minutes he
must tear it up. Yes, he remembered what Bride
had told him. He looked at his hand—there if
was, a great long life line.
"Begor, boy, ye'll never die on the field of
Bride was a great one for the fortunes. Welli
well, he was glad his wife put him in mind of itTomorrow they'd be in action, he was making for
the place now, he had lots of time so he could sit
and think. His home, it rose before his mindHe'd made a good choice of a wife anyway. There
were few who had so snug a home. She was great
entirely for the flowers, well he remembered the
rows of sweet peas, rambler roses. Yes, she was a"
for them. Flowers weren't the whole thing . . •
Lord! how he longed to be back, as he remembered
how she fed him. He hadn't eaten food as good
since he left home.
Ah well^ well, he must turn his thoughts froifl
these things yet a while, from the thought of his
fine young son. He'll have the Irish on him from
his cradle, please God. • He smiled as he thought
of himself in years to come telling the boy of the
fights they made for freedom, of the life of a maJ^
on the run. Ah well, please God, the boy will
never have to endure it.
He stood up, stretched himself. This thinking
hurt. He'd made up his mind he'd make for
Costelloe's for a bit of dinner. The Costelloes
were his wife's third cousins. The boys were ii^
the movement and he knew he'd find a w.elcom"
there. He carried no equipment, he wore no uniform, to do either meant death on sight—if ^
lorry chanced to pass. There was a chance of that
without either. Sure, wasn't there a price an his