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SOCIOLOGICAL FALLACIES
[1884]

In the extension of modern arts and industry the mass of mankind have been taught to expect comfort and ease, if not luxury; we boast so constantly of what we have accomplished in this direction that many believe we can do away with all hardship and establish universal well-being, if we choose. In our discourses, debates, and discussions we assume that the end for which society exists is the greatest happiness of the greatest number; it is laid down as an axiom of political science that political institutions should produce that result. Our philosophers encourage this doctrine and encourage the application to themselves of this test. It is, indeed, affirmed that our civilization is a failure because poverty continues to exist, and that a society in which poverty continues to exist is fit only to have "war" made upon it with fire, sword, and dynamite by any one who is still poor. Yet here is a plain question: is there any other man in the world who is to blame for the fact that I am poor?

The triumph of civilization is in the fact that we are not all steeped in poverty and misery. The student of sociology is more and more appalled as he goes on gaining fuller knowledge of what the primitive condition of man was, and a more definite conception of what human life must once have been. A missionary who resided among the Fuegans heard a shouting often at sunrise; when he asked what it meant he was told: "People very sad; cry very much." This instinctive and childlike howling