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increase the size of the Cabinet. The result is not without its evils. A score of men cannot discuss and agree on a policy with the same readiness as a dozen. There is more danger of delay when action must be taken. There is a greater probability of long discussions that are inconclusive or result in a weak compromise. There is, in short, all the lack of administrative efficiency which a larger body always presents, unless, indeed, that body is virtually guided and controlled by a small number of its own members.
The unwieldiness and inefficiency of British Cabinets are still further increased by a very important factor which Professor Lowell has not mentioned. The Prime Minister and other influential Ministers who wish to control the national policy through the Cabinet endeavour to strengthen their position by keeping some of the ablest men outside the charmed circle and by introducing into it a number of nonentities, a bodyguard of their own, which increases their influence and voting power and correspondingly diminishes the Cabinet's efficiency. This residuum of nonentities is naturally sometimes fought for by the leading Ministers who wish to secure its support. Lord John Russell significantly wrote to Lord Lansdowne on May 28, 1854 : 'It seems to me that the presence of many able men in the Cabinet tends to discordance of opinion and indecision.' In the third volume of Morley's 'Gladstone' we read, ' A slight ballast of mediocrity in a Government steadies the ship and makes for unity.'
Great Britain is governed by a Cabinet composed of the most eminent party leaders and of those of their followers whom they wish to have near at hand. The management of Army and Navy, the direction of the diplomatic service, &c., are political prizes, are ‘spoils of office.' The highest administrative positions have become political perquisites. They are given to men not for their administrative qualifications, but exclusively on account of their political and social influence without any regard to their aptitude. High office is often given to politicians who have had no practical experience whatever in administration, and sometimes to men who are utterly unfitted for a Ministerial post. No one can faithfully serve several masters. As a politician-minister has probably a business of his own to attend to and must devote much time to party politics in the House of Commons, he can attend only perfunctorily to the business of State. Naturally, disorder, delay, and stagnation in departmental administration is the result. In former ages the national Government was mismanaged by Court favourites. Their place has been taken by party favourites.
The Cabinet is supposed to decide all important questions unanimously. The Army, the Navy, the Diplomatic Service, the national finances, &c., are nominally directed by a single amateur, but in important questions each service is directed by the combined wisdom of some twenty amateurs. One of these knows a little of the business in hand, and the remaining twenty-one know less. Thus, a party politician, who all his life has done nothing except make speeches, has suddenly to take over the functions of a general, an admiral, a diplomat, an expert on agriculture, an authority on shipping and finance, &c., in rapid succession. To do this efficiently he must have a greater and more universal genius than was vouchsafed to Napoleon the First or to the elder Pitt. Jack-of-all-trades are masters of none. Napoleon wrote to Berthier on October 24, 1803 :
L'expérience prouve que le plus grand défaut en administration générale est de vouloir faire trop ; cela conduit à ne point avoir ce dont on a besoin.
In former ages when matters were simple, when the public services were rudimentary, when a few clerks and a door-keeper could handle the business of one of the great Government departments, it was perhaps possible for an amateur to direct successfully a department of State. Now, when the administrative departments have grown to gigantic size, and when the Services have become all-embracing and highly technical, none but great experts can satisfactorily manage a great department. Aristotle wrote in the fourth century before Christ :
A State requires many assistants and many superintendents. ... We observe that the division of labour greatly facilitates all pursuits, and that each kind of work is best performed when each is allotted to a separate workman. To the complicated affairs of Government this observation is particularly applicable.
If a careful division of administrative labour, if Government by specialists was recognised to be necessary in the tiny Greek City-States 2300 years ago, how much more necessary then is expert government in a modern worldempire of 400,000,000 inhabitants ?
Blackstone wrote in the time of Frederick the Great in his celebrated 'Commentaries':
It is perfectly amazing that there should be no other state of life, no other occupation, art, or science, in which some method of instruction is not looked upon as requisite, except only the science of legislation, the noblest and most difficult of any. Apprenticeships are held necessary to almost every art, commercial or mechanical : a long course of reading and study must form the divine, the physician, and the practical professor of the laws; but every man of superior fortune thinks himself born a legislator.
During the last three centuries British national organisation has progressively deteriorated.
Napoleon wrote at St. Helena un mauvais général vaut mieux que deux bons. War is a one-man business. The greatest generals of all time-lack of space prevents giving their opinions in this place—have stated that nothing is more dangerous in warfare than to allow military operations to be directed by a military council, by a council of experts. The great War was for a long time directed not by a council of military experts, but by a council of politicians, by the Cabinet. When Mr. Churchill was reproached for the failure of the Dardanelles Expedition, Mr. Asquith declared in the House of Commons that Mr. Churchill was not to blame, that it had been approved of 'by the Cabinet as a whole,' and the House and the country were perfectly satisfied with that explanation. No one asked whether that expedition had been originated and approved of by the experts ! As long as military operations are jointly directed by a body of amateurs, disaster is more likely to be the result than success. The British Government, as hitherto constituted, is not the organisation of efficiency, but its negation. It is an organisation similar to that which caused the downfall of Poland. It is the organisation of disorganisation. Amateurs are bound to govern amateurishly, and their insufficiency will be particularly marked if they have to run an unworkable Government machine and are pitted against perfectly organised professionals.
The assertion that inefficiency is inseparable from democracy is not true. Democracy means popular control, but popular control need not mean disorganisation. It need not mean government by amateurs. A highly successful business may have a number of amateur directors, but these will in reality be merely supervisors. The actual management and direction will be left to an expert manager. Similarly, a jury of twelve good men and true does not expound the law, but leaves that technical duty to a single expert, the judge. The fact that democracy and the highest efficiency are compatible is illustrated by the British police, which is at the same time the most democratic, the most efficient, and the least corrupt police force in the world. However, the London police are directed not by a board of politicians, but by a single great expert, who possesses vast powers, and who is controlled by politicians to whom he is personally responsible. Committees are excellent for investigation and deliberation-twenty eyes see more than two—but they are totally unsuitable for decisive and rapid action, especially in the age of railways and telegraphs. Only one man can usefully command a ship, conduct an orchestra, manage a business, or direct a State, especially in difficult times.
The rules of good organisation are simple and few. They demand
(1) That a single man of the highest directing ability should be in sole control and should be solely responsible.
(2) That he should be supported by a number of expert assistants, and that he should be able to draw either on their individual or their combined advice, according to the nature of the problem before him.
(3) That every man should have only one job, and that every man should attend only to his own job.
A commercial business directed jointly by twenty-two amateur directors of nominally equal authority, who can only act when they are unanimous, would go bankrupt in a very short time. A business so incompetently organised does no exist. If such an organisation is totally unsuitable for a business where, after all, only a sum of money is at stake, how much more unsuitable then is it for a nation and empire where the existence of 400,000,000 people is at stake ? The British Empire has poured out lives and treasure without stint, and the results achieved so far—the action of the Fleet excepted-have been far from encouraging. The return for the gigantic sacrifices made has been totally inadequate. The strength of Great Britain and of the Empire cannot indefinitely be wasted with impunity. The organisation of Great Britain cries for immediate reform. Continuance of organised disorganisation, of haphazard warfare, directed by inexpert committees, may have the gravest consequences to this country.
A democracy has a great advantage over a monarchy by being more able to adapt its constitution to changing conditions. The wonderful vitality of Ancient Rome was largely due to its adaptability, to the fact that the State had an institution, the Dictatorship, by which the Republic could rapidly be converted into a monarchy in time of danger. Machiavelli has told us in his ‘Discorsi':