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THE INDIVIDUAL, SOCIETY, AND THE STATE.

principle of the survival of the fittest, our present condition is the best that it is possible for us to have attained. You do not deny man's divinity, "neither do you deny his degradation"; from what has man been degraded? You do not accept an Edenic state; then what do you mean by "man's degradation"?

The idea of development which admits of a degradation and which expects Liberty's followers to arrest the "wasteful process" which has already made trial of everything else, and is now in despair about to make the experiment of Anarchy is something so new to me that I must ask for a more complete exposition of the system.

Frederic A. C. Perrine.

Newark, N. J.

 

Mr. Perrine should read more carefully. I have never said that it is "each man's duty to break all contracts as soon as he has become convinced that they were made foolishly." What I said was that, if a man should sign a contract to part with his liberty forever, he would violate it as soon as he saw the enormity of his folly. Because I believe that some promises are better broken than kept, it does not follow that I think it wise always to break a foolish promise. On the contrary, I deem the keeping of promises such an important matter that only in the extremest cases would I approve their violation. It is of such vital consequence that associates should be able to rely upon each other that it is better never to do anything to weaken this confidence except when it can be maintained only at the expense of some consideration of even greater importance. I mean by evolution just what Darwin means by it,—namely, the process of selection by which, out of all the variations that occur from any cause whatever, only those are preserved which are best adapted to the environment. Inasmuch as the variations that perish vastly outnumber those that survive, this process is extremely wasteful, but human intelligence can greatly lessen the waste. I am perfectly willing to admit its optimism, if by optimism is meant the doctrine that everything is for the best under the circumstances. Optimism so defined is nothing more than the doctrine of necessity. As to the word "degradation," evidently Mr. Perrine is unaware of all its meanings. By its derivation it implies descent from something higher, but it is also used by the best English writers to express a low condition regardless of what preceded it. It was in the latter sense that I used it.