Strength of the Strong and Other Stories HTML version
The Unparalleled Invasion
It was in the year 1976 that the trouble between the world and China reached its
culmination. It was because of this that the celebration of the Second Centennial
of American Liberty was deferred. Many other plans of the nations of the earth
were twisted and tangled and postponed for the same reason. The world awoke
rather abruptly to its danger; but for over seventy years, unperceived, affairs had
been shaping toward this very end.
The year 1904 logically marks the beginning of the development that, seventy
years later, was to bring consternation to the whole world. The Japanese-
Russian War took place in 1904, and the historians of the time gravely noted it
down that that event marked the entrance of Japan into the comity of nations.
What it really did mark was the awakening of China. This awakening, long
expected, had finally been given up. The Western nations had tried to arouse
China, and they had failed. Out of their native optimism and race-egotism they
had therefore concluded that the task was impossible, that China would never
What they had failed to take into account was this: THAT BETWEEN THEM AND
CHINA WAS NO COMMON PSYCHOLOGICAL SPEECH. Their thought-
processes were radically dissimilar. There was no intimate vocabulary. The
Western mind penetrated the Chinese mind but a short distance when it found
itself in a fathomless maze. The Chinese mind penetrated the Western mind an
equally short distance when it fetched up against a blank, incomprehensible wall.
It was all a matter of language. There was no way to communicate Western
ideas to the Chinese mind. China remained asleep. The material achievement
and progress of the West was a closed book to her; nor could the West open the
book. Back and deep down on the tie-ribs of consciousness, in the mind, say, of
the English-speaking race, was a capacity to thrill to short, Saxon words; back
and deep down on the tie-ribs of consciousness of the Chinese mind was a
capacity to thrill to its own hieroglyphics; but the Chinese mind could not thrill to
short, Saxon words; nor could the English-speaking mind thrill to hieroglyphics.
The fabrics of their minds were woven from totally different stuffs. They were
mental aliens. And so it was that Western material achievement and progress
made no dent on the rounded sleep of China.
Came Japan and her victory over Russia in 1904. Now the Japanese race was
the freak and paradox among Eastern peoples. In some strange way Japan was
receptive to all the West had to offer. Japan swiftly assimilated the Western
ideas, and digested them, and so capably applied them that she suddenly burst
forth, full- panoplied, a world-power. There is no explaining this peculiar
openness of Japan to the alien culture of the West. As well might be explained
any biological sport in the animal kingdom.