The newest civil war in China is on the point of breaking out. Once again Western eyes are drawn uncomprehending toward that land of vast numbers and unknown forces. And the multiplicity of explanations is in itself enlightening.
Is it another civil war between north and south? Is it a communist revolt? Is it an attack on foreign interference? Perhaps one of these, perhaps all, perhaps none. And western civilization goes on oblivious to meanings and motives of the East.
It is a cynical blot on western competency that the fabrications of a wild romancer like Ossendowski pass as interpretations of the Orient, and it is a fault in occidental optimism that it seems to ignore the ancient East. In the East civilization arose earliest, has lasted with least change, and bids fair to endure with greatest permanency. The East is both civilized and barbarous, and out of its barbarity new hordes may rush upon the flimsy fabric of occidentalism. In pushing strident commercial claims, the possibility of reaction must be remembered; and greed for a few dollars today must not be allowed to organize the tremendous forces of the East into a unanimity of hostility. A mess of potage for today is not worth a birthright for tomorrow. If the West can never understand the East, it must at least stop to calculate the powers it is arousing and the eventualities it is creating.