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EARTH HUNGER AND OTHER ESSAYS

and conscience of the people, is what has probably given rise to the notion, just now so popular, that ethical considerations do, or ought to, regulate legislation and social relations. The doctrine, however, that institutions must in the course of generations slowly change to conform to social conditions and social forces, according to the mature convictions of great masses of men, is a very different thing from the notion that rights and duties should be at the sport of all the crude notions which, from time to time, may gain the assent of even an important group of the population.

Among the most important tides of thought at the present time which are hostile to liberty are socialism which always has to assume a controlling organ to overrule personal liberty and set aside civil liberty, in order to bring about what the socialist authorities have decided shall be done; nationalism, really a cognate of socialism, with opposition to emigration or immigration; state absolutism, which, in its newest form, insists that the individual exists for the state; and altruism, which, when put forward as an absolute dogma, is as anti-social as selfishness. All these are only the latest forms of the devices by which some men live at the expense of others. In their essence and principle they are as old as history, and not even the device of making the victims vote away their own liberty, apparently of their own free will, because they think they ought to do so, has anything new in it.