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THE FAMILY AND PROPERTY

Private property, even private property in land, exists in some of the most primitive forms of human society; monogamic marriage likewise exists in some of the most primitive and barbarous forms of society. It is not possible to construct any scale or ladder of consecutive stages under either of these heads, starting from some most rudimentary and negative organization, and rising higher and higher, as it approaches nearer to what now exists in civilized states. It should be understood that no sociologist, evolutionist or other, attempts to do anything of the kind. Evolution would, in fact, account for and show the necessity of retrogressions and anomalies, interrupting any such series.

In fact, retrogressions and anomalies meet us at every turn, and a scientific student of sociology is sure to be timid about those generalizations which seem the most tempting; this is, in fact, the strongest reason for the impatient rejection of the easy dogmatizing which is in fashion and which has fastened upon property as its especial prey. To dictate what our neighbors shall do with their property is, of course, the next pleasantest thing to having property of our own at our disposition. Property is the most fundamental and complex of social facts, and the most important of human interests; it is, therefore, the hardest to understand, the most delicate to meddle with, and the easiest to dogmatize about. There is not at the present time any similar disposition to dogmatize about the family, and it has seemed to me