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341
THE POWER OP CAPITAL

struct it. If we arrive at some correct idea of what society is and what civilization is, we shall regard all such speculations as more absurd than witchcraft or astrology. We are the children of the society in which we were born. It makes us. We are products of the civilization of our generation. Only a handful of men can react upon the society and the age in which they live so as to modify it at all. They are the very élite of the human race, and after all what they can do is only infinitesimal. Civilization means the art of living on this earth. All men have always been trying to learn it, and all that now is in the order of society is the product of this struggle of ages. It pours along in a mighty flood which bears us all with it; in it are all the efforts, passions, interests, and strife of men. It is the play of these upon each other which produces the heaving and swaying of the flood and determines its vast modifications of direction. If you come to a faint understanding of this, the man with a scheme in his pocket for the "reorganization of society" is made to appear very ridiculous.

The instrumentality by which, from the beginning, man has won and held every step of this development of civilization, is capital. Some people talk about ideas and philosophy which, they think, have ruled the affairs of men. The ideas are only secondary. The philosophy, when it has acted as a cause, has taken the form of dogma, and has done harm as often as good. We may take illustrations in proof from the present time. There is a dogma afloat that labor alone makes wealth, so that the whole product should belong of right to the laborer. Another dogma is that limiting the hours of labor would make work for more laborers, and another is that any wealth which one man accumulates is so much taken from some or all other men. Another is that all increase