Saints and Revolutionaries

By Olaf Stapledon



THE AIMS of this series are set out in the Argument which follows this Preface. My responsibilities as Editor are restricted to the selection of the contributors and occasionally to the suggestion of a subject. I must not be supposed to agree with any particular author's point of view, any more than one contributor can be assumed to agree with another—except on this, which gives the series its unity.

We are all agreed in believing that materialism is not enough. That is the lowest statement of our convictions. The belief in freedom, in human responsibility, in the authority of reason, in the duty of argument, in the claims of the individual, which arises from these convictions will be expressed in different ways and from different religious, philosophical and political standpoints.

For myself, I hold firmly that the great danger to civilization to-day comes from the tyranny of fear, the worship of power and from man's refusal to endure the burden of spiritual liberty. Men seek to be free from their selves, not through a passion of self-abnegation, but from a suspicion that the self is not worth while. They value security above safety, convenience above conviction; and would submerge themselves in the mass, not in a fellowship of free men seeking a fuller life, but in obedience to some dark sub-human impulse towards the domination of death.

Against that, all of us, Christians, Jews, agnostics, atheists, mystics, rationalists, orthodox, heretics, are agreed to make our protest.



THE two outstanding characteristics of our age are the revival of violence, of conflict, and the revival of religion. The revival of conflict is obvious enough—conflict between classes, between parties between races, between nations. The revival of religion is not so generally recognized. The reason for this is that for most Europeans and Americans—and it is their philosophers who are foremost in formulating and describing the clash of ideas—religion still means Christianity: and the religions of the new conflicting forces are at the antipodes to Christianity.

There is to-day no more important conflict than the conflict of ideas. It was possible for intelligent men in the nineteenth century to think that conduct could be divorced from belief. Indeed it was a common opinion: and it was as wrong as it was common. We see all over the world the disastrous consequences of the attempt to separate conduct from creed.

The most extreme conflict is that between those who believe in the world of freedom and those who believe in the world of fate. Between the disciples of reason and the instruments of the unconscious. Between the children of the: spirit and the servants of the machine.

The Editor of this series is a Christian; but he would not put forward the arrogant and ridiculous claim that no religion but Christianity is opposed to the worship of the mass and of a mechanical determinism, which are our peculiar foes. In the present conflict those who are not against the spirit are for it; all those who believe that. there is a world other than the sensuous, phenomenal world are on the same side. This is a series of books by those who are opposed to the forces in life which seek to destroy the dignity of the individual soul and to exalt the machine: who are opposed to the attempt to exalt violence above justice; and to the tendency to substitute persecution for argument.

The contributors will include historians, philosophers, men of science and theologians; but the chief aim of the series is to form a focus for the creative artists.

Each volume might be called "I Believe" The books, that is, will not be essays in opinion or conjecture; not experiments in speculation or desire, but adventures in faith. They will express the authors' innermost convictions. Some of the books will deal at large with the world of reality; others with certain aspects of it. Some of the authors have taken, as a starting-point and motto as it were, a clause or a phrase from the historic creeds of Christendom; others write from the standpoint of their own individual interpretation of philosophic, religious or historical subjects.

I. To-day

II. Saints. And Pacifism

III. Sceptics, and Morality

IV. Revolutionaries, and Metaphysice

V. Mainly Speculation

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