The Age of Brain Passes.
The war was a blessing to Germany.
In cutting out the old military system it gave wider
opportunity for manufacturing. Young men, instead
of spending their days in military training, went into
business, and things boomed.
The war had caused a great outcry
against German-made goods, yet when peace came and
dropped the barriers, the manufactures of Germany began
to flood the world.
Germany’s indemnity of L1,000,000,000
could only be paid from its manufactures, so the Allied
nations took every opportunity to see that those goods
got into circulation.
Though British, Russian and French
merchants during the war had tried to “kill
German trade,” as money was urgently required
the Allies had to let it live, and see that it had
a vigorous life in order to get their indemnity without
delay. That was why Australia, as well as other
parts of the British Empire, was advised to lift tariff
restrictions on German goods. It was an extraordinary
request, and later on was to have a world-wide effect.
I remembered a remark Nap once made
to me during one of our yarns whilst waiting behind
the fighting lines on the Aisne for the dawn to call
us into the air.
“It’s blamed hard,”
he said, “to have this war in our life time.
It’s going to throw the world back thirty years,
and thirty years in a fellow’s life is a mighty
big hunk. This war had to come. The world
had been moving too quickly during the last ten years,
which saw wireless, flying, radium, and other marvellous
stunts in fact, the world had rushed ahead
so swiftly that it had to pull up to take breath.
This war is giving the earth breathing space, but
it’s going to take thirty years to clear up
the mess, wipe the stains away and patch mankind up
physically and mentally.”
But time proved that Nap, like all
the other gloomy prophets of bad times, was wrong.
The war speeded up things. Men, flushed with the
activity of the battlefield, came back quick-witted.
Country louts and city boys, who had been taken in
hand and trained to physical perfection for the battlefield,
came back in twelve months men.
There was prosperity everywhere.
All Western Europe, with the exception of Belgium
had declared for Socialism. The Humanist (Socialist)
trend of things made high wages for the workers everywhere.
But the capitalists were being hit hard. Their
factory profits were dwindling away under Humanist
rule, and as each one went under, the Government would
take over his business. Great estates were taxed
and super-taxed, till the owners had to relinquish
The Socialistic ideal of “all
sharing the wealth of the wealthy” was rapidly
approaching, but bringing with it a social cataclysm.
There was no doubt of that. It
was being hastened by the lessened output of the workers.
The ca-canny system ruled everywhere. With
good pay for little work there was no incentive to
excel, and from “little work” to “no
work” was an easy step for many, as under the
Humanist rule the unemployed were also paid.
The people were rapidly losing self-respect.
With their false idea of equality, discipline was
difficult to maintain, and lawlessness was rife.
People were so sick of war that in
most of the nations disarmament was an easy matter.
Even the German Navy, that was passed over to the Allied
nations at the termination of the war rapidly deteriorated
from lack of discipline and reduced votes for upkeep.
War was looked upon as a waste of
blood and a waste of heroism, so the manufacture of
arms was declared to be illegal.
Invention practically ceased.
There was no incentive to invest,
as the Humanists had gradually taxed the capitalist
out of existence; and it is interesting to note how
time proved that the capitalist was essential to inventive
The State desired to improve the flying
machine, as flying was still confined to the aeroplane
and the dirigible.
The then type of aeroplane could not
rise or descend vertically, and only kept in the air
when at great speed. The dirigible balloon was
of the Zeppelin type, and was not always dependable.
It was decided to invent a machine
that could easily rise and descend, and could rest
in the air and be independent of all atmospheric conditions.
So a State flying machine factory was commenced in
England on Salisbury Plain.
The first trouble arose when the building
was being erected. Many workers objected to what
was called the waste of labor. It was pointed
out that under the Socialistic rule, the product of
labor had to go to labor, and as the building of the
flying machine factory was not producing food or clothing,
and the workers on it had to be supported by the labor
of the whole community, it was making a distinct class
of them, which was illegal. However, the Government
went on with the work.
The first machine made was not successful.
Then an agitation ensued that it was not equitable
and just that the community should support any labor
engaged in such a foolish enterprise. It was demanded
that the factory should be closed, and the workers
set at useful employment, instead of being a burden
on the state and reviving the old system of classes.
I remember reading at the time that
a leader in the experiments named Cooley, pointed
out that the successful machine would save much labor
in after years, by giving more efficient means of
transport, and that when the successful machine was
built the whole community would enjoy the result of
the labor expended on it.
He pointed out that in the production
of the first aeroplane, the Wright Brothers had spent
years of effort in the solution of the problem of
aerial navigation, and that a vast amount of labor
and material was consumed before the first practical
machine was made, so it was, therefore, reasonable
to consider that much expenditure of labor and material
would have to continue till the perfect machine was
found, and that it was worth it all to win that ideal
means of transport. The labor of the hand and
brain to achieve the perfect flying machine would have
to be directed either by a capitalist or by the State.
There were now no capitalists, and it was, therefore,
the duty of the State to take the matter up notwithstanding
the so-called waste of labor and material.
He pointed out that all industry involved
waste. That millions of pounds had been spent
in experiments in evolving the machines we were using
to-day. He also mentioned that he remembered,
when in America, that millions of dollars were spent
in attempting to tunnel under the Hudson River, at
New York, and that many failures were met with before
the work was successfully achieved.
He might also have mentioned that
all this expense was borne by the capitalist, and
that if the State had had charge of it, the enormous
waste of money in experiments would have caused a public
He pleaded that all great inventions
were developed on expensive experimenting, and the
perfect flying machine could only be won in the same
The State flying machine factory was,
therefore, given another opportunity, and the second
flying machine was made. On its first test it
failed to rise, so the public objected to the mad enterprise
and refused to support the experiments in unprofitable
labor. The factory was closed, and the workers
put at employment that “showed results.”
I mention this incident of the flying
machine, as the same opposition was met in other branches
Thus the spirit of invention was suppressed.
There was no anxiety to achieve, no desire for individual
excellence. With invention ceasing the Age of
Brain went out that Age of Brain that brilliant
period in the world’s history which only covered
one hundred years, yet saw the rise and development
of the most brilliant scientists the world had ever
Great brains rose in one brief space
of a century, and gave the world railways, steam navigation,
electric telegraphs, the telephone, gas and electric
lighting, photography, the phonograph, the X-Ray, spectrum
analysis, anaesthetics, antiseptics, radium, the cinematograph,
the automobile, wireless telegraphy, and the aeroplane;
all perfectly new departures from anything previously
That wonderful Age of Brain passed
out, giving place to the Age of Brawn!
It was the sunset of ambition, and
the remarkable events that followed are all so recent
that to give details seems like telling news of general