[Editor: This article by Mary Gilmore was published in The Lone Hand (Sydney, NSW), 1 June 1914.]
A world’s union
Sir Rider Haggard recently said that what was much needed by those directing affairs was “imagination.” Apparently, he was speaking for Australians. Possibly Australians do need this, but they are not the only ones. Let Sir Rider apply his imagination, as Australia has done, to the following, and ask himself — Is not imagination needed in other countries as well as in ours?:—
(1) Europe is congested.
(2) Asia is congested.
(3) Asia has a greater population than Europe; and congestion in Asia is greater than in Europe.
(4) The congested countries in both continents either must look for scientific re-adjustment of populations at home, or flood out. The greatest flood will come from the continent with the greatest population.
(5) The un-congested countries are America (North and South), Canada, Africa, and Australia.
(6) The continent that floods most into these will dominate the whole world, for these new lands are greater, far, than the old.
The world’s problem is not “What is Europe Doing?” but “What is Asia doing, or about to do?”
The “White Australia” policy is no longer that of a single nation, but it must be that of all the nations called white.
And we are come to this pass, that only by the united action of ALL the European and sub-European peoples can ANY country remain white; can ANY country hope to resist the Asiatic conquest by immigration. One cannot even except Europe.
It is simply a question of ships, and ship-building. “Ships” do not mean dreadnoughts, for dreadnoughts do not carry either immigrants or commodities. They mean the Asiatic partnerships, and, in the future, control of the world’s general shipping.
It would be well to apply imagination to a future in which a strongly competing Asia will carry the world’s trade, and (here is the point) — the world’s immigrants.
The day of the single Union, political or industrial, has gone by; the day of the single country in the matter of East or West has gone by.
The conquest of the Russian Fleet added a fleet to Japan. The conquest of one single “white” country, whether by infiltration and immigration, or by war, will add a new army, a new navy, and a new mercantile marine; also new coaling stations and a new jumping-off place to the country making that conquest. And any country that helps bring that about is a blackleg on all the other “white” countries.
Here we have the need for imagination.
Has Asia that need, or is it only Europe?
Is Europe banding, white to white, to defend the countries to which its congested population must presently go? Or is Asia dreaming of world-wide conquest, with a vassalage of white races?
If the white races are to stay white there must be no blacklegs among them. There must be one solid, single nation, for if a breach is once made nothing can ever close it, or stay the tide that in time will replace every white man by a half-caste.
If the colored peoples of the world are four to one of the white (figures given are various) the united white world has one chance in four of survival. But if the white races are not in unity, if any white country either allows immigration to its own shores, or forces it on its dependencies, what possible chance has any one white country standing alone?
Take Australia:— A hundred thousand Germans coming here mean no more, racially, than the parentage of 100,000 Australians. Australians, because of likeness of race and not merely because born in Australia. But let 100,000 Japanese or Chinese, or even Indians, come in, and the children are anything but Australian! They are either pure Japanese, Indian, or Chinese, or half-caste to twice the number.
If, for instance, the Japanese go into Canada because of Japo-British (or is it simply Anglo-Japanese?) Alliance, how is Australia to shut out the half-caste children of such an immigration ? If the same influence that is pushing the Japanese on Canada also succeeds in pushing them on California, and if that influence is further extended to get them into the South America, how are we going to shut out the Japo-Californian, or the Japo-Argentine? And once you have made way for the Anglo-Japo-Canadian, and all the others, how long will it be before the Anglo-Japo-Canadians — in particular — demand entry for their full-blooded relations direct from the “Motherland?” But before that day, we may well ask, “Should the Japanese enter Canada, and settle there, how do we, in Australia, stand to their children?”
People will tell you there is’ no danger of Asia flooding out; that Asia only asks for Asia for the Asiatics. As well say that when twelve o’clock comes time will stand still! Was Canada filled up when Australia was claimed and invaded by the British? Was Australia filled when the same people invaded and took South Africa? Does the white man suppose the desire for expansion, wherever advantages are to be seen or gained, belongs purely to the white races, and pre-eminently to the British? As well say wheat won’t grow in a place because grass grows there; or that oats cannot be bred to grow in wheat lands. The security that rests on that kind of foundation isn’t worth the breath that speaks it. It is the statement of people who never remembered that the call of adventure, the love of investigation, the desire for change, and the attraction of wealth, draw forth the emigrant centuries before the pangs of hunger drive him out.
The history of the world shows migration to be proportioned, not to class or quality, but to the means of travel, of transit. If the British had not built ships, they would still be cooped up in Britain; if the Asiatic had built ships, there could be now no talk of a union of white peoples, because there would have been no white races to think of it.
When Asia builds ships it will be too late to talk about racial purity. It is to-day that the white peoples have it in their power to say whether they will keep out Asia till she is more civilised in the white way, or whether the Asiatic is to filter in, and our civilisation drift into Asiatic.
It will only be by the greatest vigilance of the world’s greatest union that the white civilisation and trend can be maintained till Asia takes it in, in reality, as well as in appearance — till admixture becomes a matter of “the more nearly like,” and the child’s inheritance of adaptability comes from the likeness of two, and is not drawn two ways by the divergence of two.
The Lone Hand (Sydney, NSW), 1 June 1914, p. 37
dreadnought = the main type of battleship used in the early 20th century, a type built with an “all-big-gun” armament design and powered by steam turbines, named after the first of its kind, the HMS Dreadnought (launched in 1906 by the United Kingdom); an advantage of using guns of just one calibre was that the gunnery officers avoided the problems in estimating the range of where shells were hitting, which occurred when ships equipped with both small and large caliber guns were firing and ranging difficulties arose when it was unclear which splashes were from which guns
half-caste = someone whose parents are of different racial backgrounds; someone of mixed racial descent
Rider Haggard = Sir Henry Rider Haggard (1856-1925), an English author (known as Rider Haggard, or H. Rider Haggard)
vassalage = the condition or state of being a vassal: a person or state which is in a subordinate position to another person or state; (in a feudal society) a holder of land who owes allegiance, entailing certain obligations, to a lord