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THE BANQUET OF LIFE

we should have abstract justice in nature, which we have never had yet, for luck is of all things the most unjust. We should also have equality, which hitherto we have never found in nature. Finally, we should have a natural right which could be defined and enforced, not against men, but against nature—the trouble with natural rights hitherto has been that they could not be defined, that nature alone could guarantee them, and that against nature they could not be enforced.

If we take the other alternative and conceive of the Banquet of Life as a limited feast, then we see at once that monopoly is in the order of nature. The question of weal or woe for mankind is: what are the conditions of admission? How many are provided for? Can we, by any means open to us, increase the supply? But when we take the question in this form we see that we are just where we and our fathers always have been; we are forced to do the best we can under limited conditions, and the Banquet of Life is nothing but a silly piece of rhetoric which obscures the correctness of our conception of our situation.

When men reasoned on social phenomena by guessing how things must have been in primitive society, it was easy for them to conceive of a "state of nature" or a "golden age"; but, as we come to learn the facts about the primitive condition of man on earth, we find that he not only found no banquet awaiting him here, and no natural rights adjusted to suit him, but that he found the table of nature already occupied by a very hungry and persistent crowd of other animals. The whole table was already occupied—there was not room for any men until they conquered it. It is easy for any one now to assure himself that this is the true and only correct notion to hold on that matter. If land ever was a