Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/280

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communities, which are dissolving under the stress of industrial competition, says, "The truth is, that the incentives to labor and economy are weakened by the sense of personal interest in their results being subdivided."

And now let us note the marvelous parallel between this change in the structure of the social organism and a change in the structure of the individual organism. We saw that definite nucleated cells are the components which, by aggregation, lay the foundations of the higher organisms; in the same way that the well-developed simple social groups are those out of which, by composition, the higher societies are eventually evolved. Here let me add that as, in the higher individual organisms, the aggregated cells which form the embryo, and for some time retain their separateness, gradually give place to structures in which the cell-form is greatly masked and almost lost, so in the social organism the family groups and compound family groups, which were the original components eventually lose their distinguishableness, and there arise structures formed of mingled individuals belonging to many different stocks.

A question of great interest, which has immediate bearings on policy, remains: "Is there any limit to this disintegration of the family?"

Already in the more advanced nations, that process which dissolved the larger family aggregates, dissipating the tribe and the gens and leaving only the family proper, has long been completed; and already there have taken place partial disintegrations of the family proper. Along with changes which for family responsibility substituted individual responsibility in respect of offenses, have gone changes which, in some degree, have absolved the family from responsibility for its members in other respects. When by poor-laws public provision was made for children whom their parents did not or could not adequately support, society in so far assumed family functions; as also when undertaking, in a measure, the charge of parents not supported by their children. Legislation has of late further relaxed family bonds by relieving parents from the care of their children's minds, and in place of education under parental direction establishing education tinder state direction; and where the appointed authorities have found it needful partially to clothe neglected children before they could be taught, and even to whip children by police agency for not going to school,[1] they have still further substituted for the responsibility of parents a national responsibility. This recognition of the individual, even when a child, as the social unit, rather than the family, has indeed now gone so far that by many the paternal duty of the state is assumed as self-evident; and criminals are called "our failures."

Are these disintegrations of the family parts of a normal prog-

  1. See Times, February 28, 1877.