Review of the Book

A Quest for International Order,
by Jackson H. Ralston

Louis P. Taylor

[Reprinted from Land and Freedom, March-April 1941]

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.