Review of the Book
A Quest for International Order,
by Jackson H. Ralston
Louis P. Taylor
[Reprinted from Land and Freedom, March-April
In this book, a solution to the international affairs of today is
offered by a Georgeist. Permanent peace and the forces that prevent
this state from being realized is the theme.
The author's solution for world affairs is in the field of
International Law. In individual human relations, says the author, we
have learned, to a certain degree, to distinguish right from wrong.
The state, which exists for the individual, should be governed by the
same laws of justice. But this lesson has not yet been learned. That
this misconception (or rather, lack of conception) prevents peace is
vitally demonstrated in Judge Ralston's book. It is best stated in the
author's own words:
"We have in the international field the absolute
want of any ideal or ultimate aim in the interest of the individual,
such as prevails within the state. Our rulers have labored in the
interest of an impossible object. To them the ineffable state has
appeared everything. In truth, the state is a mental conception and
to labor for it directly is to labor for nothing of reality. The
only reality is the individuals who compose the body of the nation.
International relations have not gone down to this bedrock of all
law the individual. In the study of human welfare he is not to be
ignored or to find substituted for him the unreal state. We have a
serious quarrel with the International Law writers who fail to
recognize this fundamental fact of what only by courtesy today can
be called their science. We wonder they have not studied the effect
of violations of right upon the individuals of a nation when its
rulers violate the freedom of the vanquished."
Judge Jackston H. Ralston is well qualified by experience to offer
his solution. He has been a lecturer and writer on international
affairs for a great many years. He was an umpire in the Italian-
Venezuelan Mixed Claims Commission.
Many topics usually discussed in connection with international peace
such as neutrality, intervention, national interests, etc. are dealt
with in the present volume. But they are subjected to a critical
analysis unusual in such discussions, and the errors and deficiencies
of International Law as now practised are constantly pointed out. A
reading of this book will show how satisfactorily the author has
performed his task.
The difficulty encountered by this type of literature is not so much
the subject matter as the period in which it is written. Nations at
present are not interested in a better understanding of the conflict
now being waged, but only in the continuance of the conflict until
victory is attained. Opinion-forming agencies are not likely to give
deep reflection to the ideas expressed by Judge Ralston. But precisely
for this reason his work should be given major attention.