The Moral Dynamics of World Power -- By: Winthrop D. Sheldon

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 072:287 (Jul 1915)
Article: The Moral Dynamics of World Power
Author: Winthrop D. Sheldon


The Moral Dynamics of World Power

Winthrop D. Sheldon

Like the kindred expression Weltpolitik, “world power” is a term of recent coinage, having come into familiar use within the last quarter of a century., No other describes so well the trend of modern national development.

Briefly defined, a “world power” is one whose influence is more or less world-wide — a power that is to be reckoned with in the affairs and progress of the world at large. Various elements are commonly included in this concept — a favorable location upon the map of the world; a vast extent of territory; a large population; great and varied natural and acquired resources; a merchant marine flying the national flag on every sea and in every important port: extensive and valuable colonial possessions; and mighty armaments, military and naval. All these are objective and more or less adventitious elements in the problem of world power, its visible, material factors. And because they stand out in bold relief, they appeal so powerfully to the popular imagination, that most people lose sight of the primary, fundamental dynamics of world power,— the subjective, moral, and spiritual forces, without which no nation can wield a lasting and salutary world influence. In its way each of the objective, visual factors helps to give a nation a certain prestige and a prima facie standing as a Great Power. But one nation may lack some of them, and yet be a profound world influence; while another may possess most or even all, and yet have comparatively little real, vital influence,

or none at all, upon the affairs and higher progress of the world as a whole.

No European nation has been so richly dowered as Russia with the objective factors which make for world power. She holds a commanding position on two continents, with an area equal to one seventh of the landed surface of the globe and including sixty per cent of Europe, a population of one hundred and seventy millions, almost unlimited natural resources, a revenue of one billion five hundred millions annually, and by far the largest army in the world, sufficient with its enormous reserves, if properly organized and led, to overwhelm any adversary.

A greater combination of the physical and material elements of national power can scarcely be imagined. And yet, with all her objective advantages, Russia is almost bankrupt in the subjective factors essential to a strong, enlightened, progressive world influence, without which no nation is entitled to rank as a world power of the modern type. Political and social conditions, some of them almost mediaeval, are notoriously far below the standards of other European states. Says General Ku...

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