THE INDIVIDUAL, SOCIETY, AND THE STATE.
has produced, not alone the evil in us, but has produced us as we are, with all our good and ill combined.
It is the force which is as surely leading us up to Anarchy and beyond as it has led us from the star-dust into manhood. It is the personification of our evolution, and, while no man may either advance or retard that evolution to any very considerable extent, still it seems to me that much more can be accomplished by acting with it than across its path, even though we may seem to be steering straight towards the harbor for which it is tacking.
The other night I attended a meeting of the Commonwealth Club of New York City, and there listened to the reading and discussion of a paper by Mr. Bishop, of the Post, on the effects of bribery at elections, concerning the amount of which Mr. Wm. M. Ivins had given so many startling figures at an earlier meeting. Mr. Bishop recited the long list of party leaders, and characterized them in their professions and practices.
The whole unsavory story, only too familiar to us all, did not daunt him in his belief that the government is a part of the true curve of development, but only incited the proposal of a remedy, which consisted in substituting the State for the party machine in the distribution of the ballots and in the enactment of more stringent bribery and undue influence acts,—in fact, a series of laws similar to those English laws of Sir Henry James, which are in force there at the present time and which seem to act to a certain extent beneficially.
In closing, after recognizing the difficulty in passing any reform measures, he quoted Gladstone's memorable appeal to the future for his vindication, claiming a common cause with all reformers and with Time, which is fighting for them.
The reading of this paper was followed by an address from Mr. Simon Sterne, advocating the minority representation of Mill, and one by Mr. Turner, who appealed for an open ballot.
Immediately Mr. Ivins rose, and, after showing that no open ballot could be free, as even asking a man for his vote is a form of coercion, proceeded on the lines of Mr. Bishop's closing quotation to show that the reform then proposed was but a link in the long chain which is leading us irresistibly onward; that not in State supervision, or in minority representation, or in any measure at present proposed, was there an adequate solution of the problem, but that they were each logical steps in progress,—progress which may end in a State Socialism or in Anarchy or in what not, but at any rate in The End which is right and inevitable. We cannot any of us turn far aside the course of this progress, however we may act. We can but put our shoulder to the wheel and give a little push onwards according to our little strength. Except at great epochs, the extremists diminish their effect by diminishing their leverage; the steady, every-day workers who strive for the right along the existing lines purify the moral tone of the times and pave the way for those great revolutions when the world seems to advance by great bounds into the future.
Should we not, then, strike hands with these men of the Commonwealth Club, and, burying our differences of ultimate aims, if differences exist, work in and for the present?
I sat at that dinner with Republicans and Democrats, Free Traders and Protectionists, all absorbed with the one idea of advancement and working for that idea with heart and soul. Their influence will be felt, felt not onlynow, but in the future, even the future of a happy Anarchy; reaching out