Open main menu

Page:Earth-Hunger and Other Essays.djvu/234

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
208
EARTH HUNGER AND OTHER ESSAYS

and appoint inspectors"; "Pass a law." But the fact is that the new time presents manifold and constantly varying facts and factors. It is complicated, heterogeneous, full of activity, so that its phases are constantly changing. Legislation and state action are stiff, rigid, inelastic, incapable of adaptation to cases; they are never adopted except under stress of the perception of some one phase which has, for some reason or other, arrested attention. Hence, the higher the organization of society, the more mischievous legislative regulation is sure to be. Our discussions, therefore, only show how far we are from having a social science adequate to bear its share of human interests by the side of the other sciences on which human welfare now depends, and, also, how great is our peril for lack of a harmonious development on this side.

We think that security and justice are simple and easy things which go without the saying, and need only be recognized to be had and enjoyed; we do not know that security is a thing which men have never yet succeeded in establishing. History is full of instruction for us if we will go to it for instruction; but if we go to it for information, being unable to interpret its lessons or its oracles, we shall get nothing but whims and fads. Now history is one long story of efforts to get some civil organization which could give security over an indefinite period of time. But no such civil organization has yet been found; we are as far from it as ever. The organization itself has eaten up the substance of mankind. The government of a Roman Emperor, a Czar, a Sultan, or a Napoleon, has been only a raid of a lot of hungry sycophants upon the subject mass; the aristocracy of Venice and other city states has been only a plutocratic oligarchy, using the state as a means to its own selfish ends; democ-