VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
NATIONAL PREPARATIONS FOR WAR.
WE CLIP the following from a Pittsburg daily, which shows that the Hague Peace Conference of 1899 is not taken very seriously by any of the nations:--
"To carry out the various programmes of naval construction, as framed by the nations of the world, will require an outlay of five billion dollars. England set the pace several years ago, and now many of her great ships are out of date and out-classed.
"The United States government arranged to spend $60,000,000, of which $20,000,000 will be expended in 1901. The cost of the tools and places to repair ships, is almost as expensive as the ships themselves. The value of ships is ephemeral, owing to the constant changes in types.
"England has under construction 17 battleships, 24 cruisers, 8 sloops of war and 25 torpedo destroyers, at a total cost of $133,000,000. This will not complete the fleet but moves them forward and completes those ordered, under a former appropriation.
"France has provided for a naval construction reaching to 1907, in which a total of 220 vessels are to be built, the outlay of 1901 being figured at $124,000,000.
"The plans of Germany cover 34 battleships, 32 cruisers and 80 torpedo boats. The appropriation for 1901 is $100,000,000. Russia's expenditures in 1901 is placed at $46,000,000 for the beginning of the work on new ships and completing those under way.
"Poverty-stricken Italy will expend $30,000,000 on her navy in 1901. Japan's budget for naval equipment in 1901 is $23,000,000. Austria, Sweden, Holland and Denmark are preparing to double their naval expenditures. Verily, the wings of the angel of peace are not to be spread over the ocean during the early years of the new century."
CHRISTENDOM'S FINANCIAL OUTLOOK.
Because the great time of anarchistic trouble for which the Scriptures teach us to look in the near future is to be the agency through which the "present evil world [age]" will collapse, and prepare the way for the Millennial Kingdom, therefore our interest in the financial situation as related to prophetic fulfilment.
"Money-making," the accumulation of vast wealth, cannot under present conditions come from day-labor in cultivating the soil or otherwise. It comes from the use of machinery, which today is so complete and abundant in civilized lands that each nation [R2784 : page 99] is able to much more than supply its own demands and must compete for outside business. This is the meaning of the Chinese trouble--she has hundreds of millions of people, and Christendom wants their patronage and in the name of Civilization will insist on having it;--even tho it costs blood and treasure it must be had for the future still more than for the present.
Truth to tell, the present era of prosperity would have collapsed a year ago had it not been for the wars which came just in time to prolong the momentum. The Spanish, Philippine, Boer and Chinese wars have taken men from the ranks of labor and helped in that way; and have drawn money from the treasuries of the nations and put it into circulation among the people as the price of services, provisions, armaments, etc., etc.,--bonds taking the place of money as "collateral." Note the above naval expenditures alone, and consider how the $500,000,000 to be spent this year is already giving employment to miners, coke-workers, steel-workers, railroad employees, ship-builders, boiler and engine-builders and gun-makers.
And this is but one item of the world's war expense. For instance, in the United States Senate one of its most careful and responsible members declared, "The military budget of this Republic for the [R2784 : page 100] coming year will be nearly $400,000,000. It will be nearly twice what any European power is spending." Of this amount, only one twentieth is for the navy as shown above.
If present wars continue, or others break out and necessitate further expenditures and more bonds, the "good times" will last a while longer, until something occurs to cause distrust; then a panic will ensue, which, because of present conditions, will grind the masses as none other ever did;--and then will come the collapse which we expect will spread to everybody and everything in "Christendom." Money is now pushing the lever forward and keeping the people busy, because it is more than proportionately profited; and when the time comes, as it must come, when national bonds will no longer be in demand, it will be the Money-power that will take fright and reverse the lever and arrest the world's machinery with a jolt that will shake the social structure.
Already both Great Britain and Germany have found it expedient to place their bonds in the United States rather than at home. Already there are premonitory signs of financial trouble in Germany--as the result of "over-production," competition, inability to find a market for her products. Already British manufacturers are suffering from competition; and the manufacturers of the United States could do nearly double their present business if they had the demand for their goods.
We clip the following from the Boston Herald:--
"Germany is feeling sharply similar conditions. The Berlin correspondent of a London newspaper says the German mortgage banks are in a bad way, which, indeed, is not news, since it has been known for some time. The important point is that the situation does not improve. The electrical industries, the iron trade and the wool-spinning industry are extremely dull, the latter being reported almost ruined. The cities are full of unemployed people, and the paternal government is busily devising public works and charitable arrangements for their relief. There has been in late years an enormous industrial development in Germany, bolstered up, to some extent, by artificial means. Naturally this has been accompanied by an enormous speculative movement. Should it collapse, the consequence would be a period of hard times, the duration of which cannot be predicted with any confidence. Germany has been, as it were, intoxicated by glory and hope. All classes of the population are puffed up with a sense of national destiny. They have appeared to think that nothing could withstand their progress to the supremacy of the world. Any rude shattering of their dreams would result in corresponding dejection when its significance was fully realized. According to all accounts having semblance of truthfulness, the present prospect is dark and threatening."
Concerning the condition of things in Russia, the Industrial World, Odessa, says:--
"It is no ordinary, temporary, fleeting or passing financial and industrial crisis which Russia faces. Her staple industries for some time have steadily languished, from causes various and deep-rooted, which it is the government's duty to investigate. Money is daily becoming scarcer. No year in forty has opened under blacker auspices. The country is within measurable distance, all around, of an economic collapse."
If it is thus in the face of such immense national expenditures, how will it be when these and other great enterprises are forced to stop by a great panic? When it will come, no one can tell; but the Lord's people who order their affairs more for the accumulation of heavenly than of earthly wealth will be in the more favorable condition (both of head and heart) to take their share of whatever may be permitted of their Heavenly Father, and to profit by it. In view of the foregoing, we would not be surprised if wars would continue or increase, and thus prolong the present "good times" for a while, and thus financially weaken the nations for their fall. But we make no predictions. The Master's advice is always in order, "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation."
THE SPIRIT OF LAWLESSNESS PREVALENT.
The tendency away from peace toward lawlessness and war continues to be evidenced on every hand. The passion for blood and destruction still strives, however, to justify itself in some "righteous cause;" but the appetite, once whetted, will some day be careless respecting any claims of justification; and then some "good people" will be sorry that they did not balance their justice more evenly; that they helped unchain the tiger, that lies dormant, but not dead, in every fallen human being.
The war against the Boers--to compel them to give the elective franchise to a few hundred foreigners, "uitlanders," has not only cost thousands of lives and millions of money, but has given thousands a taste of blood and fire, of recklessness of life and property which will prepare them for the coming scenes of anarchy at home. The same is true of the American soldiers in the Philippines, and the soldiers of all "Christendom" in China.
The same spirit has manifested itself in nearly every nation of Europe against the Jews, and in Turkey against Christians. And it is a part of the spirit that has made possible horrible lynchings in this country; and which backs the present saloon-smashing now in vogue in Kansas. In all these cases those taking law into their own hands and practicing violence, would urge that right was on their side. Doubtless to some extent this is often true; what we point out is the spirit of lawlessness, anarchy which is [R2784 : page 101] growing, and which will bear a "whirlwind" harvest ere long.
TRUSTS AS VIEWED BY JUSTICE BROWN.
"Justice Brown, one of the ablest members of the Supreme Court of the United States, in his John Marshall address at Parkersburg, W.Va., made some remarks pertinent to the trust question in speaking of the future of the judiciary of this country. 'The problems to be solved in the future,' he said, 'were those of combinations of capital and monopoly.... Society must adapt itself to the new conditions and do all it can to minimize the evils. It will not be the judges and the lawyers of the twentieth century who will have to face these problems, but the statesmen. There will be a struggle fought out with the desperation of hunger and possibly with bloodshed, but society will have to readjust itself on the basis of justice and equity.'"--Pittsburg Post.
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We endorse the above. We do not say that Trusts and combinations are unmitigated evils--that serve no good purpose; but admitting that such great combinations of capital serve a great purpose in economy of management and cheapening the cost of life's necessities--just as socialism would propose--we see nevertheless the impossibility of this reduced cost reaching and benefiting the public. We see that selfishness will maintain or raise prices and perhaps reduce wages to increase the stock dividends, even tho the process grind the masses into the dust. Those who forget that selfishness is the motive power of "the present evil world," will err in all their calculations.
Socialists err on the other side of the question;-- in supposing that people in general would work either their hands or their brains vigorously, if the incentives of gain, selfishness, wealth, were removed by legislation or otherwise. Not until the strong hand of the Kingdom of God, backed by the strong love of the glorified Christ (head and body--Rom. 8:17) takes control of earth's affairs can socialistic programs hope for success.
THE POPE CRAVES POWER TO SUPPRESS
The pope gave a hint respecting one cause of his anxiety to recover temporal power in Rome, when, addressing the Duke of Norfolk and accompanying English Catholics, recently, he said:--
"Under our eyes, in this holy city, which should be the inviolate center of Catholicism, it is permitted to associations for religious propagation to take advantage of the sad economic conditions of the country to corrupt the faith of our children in the name of the specious doctrine of judgment, which pretends to leave each the right of interpreting in his own fashion the doctrine of Christ. You are right in protesting against this state of things, which enables you better to understand the grievous circumstances in which we have lived during the twenty-five years of our Pontificate." [R2785 : page 101]
Commenting on this the London Spectator truly remarks:--
"In other words, temporal power is needed to prevent liberty of worship and of conscience in Rome, and to cleanse Rome from the defilements of Protestant teaching. Yet the Pope praises the British nation because it allows full liberty of conscience. Fortunately there is little fear of Papacy recovering the temporal power. And, in truth, all good Roman Catholics should rejoice that this is so. Nothing could result therefrom but spiritual injury."
IMPORTANT CONCESSIONS BY THE PORTE.
"We are enabled to announce an important concession respecting the right of Jews to hold property in Palestine, which has been obtained from the Porte by M. Isaac Fernandez, President of the Comite Regional of the Alliance Israelite in Constantinople. For several years past, Jews of all nationalities, even Ottoman subjects born in Palestine, have been forbidden to buy landed property in Palestine. M. Fernandez has now secured for Jews who have been settled in the Holy Land for a considerable time, whether subjects of Turkey or of foreign powers, the right to buy "Miri" (agricultural land) and to have the property inscribed in their own names. The special importance of this concession lies in the fact that while "Mulk" (town land) is owned by private individuals, "Miri" is the property of the Sultan.
"M. Fernandez has rendered an immense service not only to his co-religionists, but to the entire population of Palestine. The Imperial Treasury will be among the first to derive material benefit from the measure mentioned above. The government of the Sultan has thereby given a fresh proof of the religious toleration which is a tradition in its annals."--Jewish Chronicle.
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"We are in a position to state that according to our latest information from Constantinople the views expressed in authoritative Turkish circles are favorable towards political Zionism, and the advantages the Ottoman Empire will derive from it. We can further state that we are now in the midst of negotiations of far greater importance than the mere annulling of the prohibition of immigration would signify." --Report of Zionist Committee in Die Welt.