We see the same thing, watching moment by moment the movement of historical personages (that is, restoring the inevitable condition under which all action takes place—the condition of the continuity of motion in time), and not losing sight of the necessary connection of historical figures with the masses.

Whatever happens, it always appears that that was foreseen and decreed. Whichever way the ship turns, the waves gurgle in front of it, and neither guiding nor accelerating its movement, will seem to us at a distance to be moving arbitrarily and guiding the course of the ship.

Examining only those expressions of the will of historical characters which related to events as commands, historians have assumed that the events were dependent on the commands. Examining the events themselves, and that connection in which the historical characters stand with the masses, we have found that historical characters and their commands are dependent on the events. An incontestable proof of this deduction is to be found in the fact that, however many commands may be given, the event does not take place if there is no other cause to produce it. But as soon as an event does take place—whatever it may be—out of the number of all the expressions of the will of different persons, there are always some which, from their meaning and time of utterance, are related to the events as commands.

Having reached this conclusion, we can directly and positively answer these two essential questions of history:—

  1. 1. What is power?
  2. 2. What force produces the movements of peoples?
  1. 1. Power is a relation of a certain person to other persons, in which that person takes the less direct share in an act, the more he expresses opinions, theories, and justifications of the combined action.
  2. 2. The movement of peoples is not produced by the exercise of power; nor by intellectual activity, nor even by a combination of the two, as historians have supposed; but by the activity of all the men taking part in the event, who are always combined in such a way that those who take most direct part in the action take the smallest share in responsibility for it, and vice versa.

In its moral aspect the cause of the event is conceived of as power; in its physical aspect as those who were subject to that power. But since moral activity is inconceivable apart from physical, the cause of the event is found in neither the one nor the other, but in the conjunction of the two.

Or, in other words, the conception of cause is not applicable to the phenomenon we are examining.

In our final analysis we are brought to the circle of infinity, to that utmost limit, to which the human intellect is brought in every department of thought, if it is not merely playing with its subject. Electricity produces heat; heat produces electricity. Atoms are attracted; atoms are repelled.

Speaking of the mutual relations of heat and of electricity and of atoms, we cannot say why it is so, and we say it is so because it is unthinkable otherwise; because it must be so; because it is a law. The same thing applies also to historical phenomena. Why does a war or a revolution come to pass? We do not know. We only know that to bring either result to pass, men form themselves into a certain combination in which all take part; and we say that this is so because it is unthinkable otherwise; because it is a law.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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