Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/282

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Similarly, from a state in which family groups were alone recognized, and individuals ignored, we are moving toward an opposite state, in which ignoring of the family and. recognition of the individual go to the extreme of making not only the mature individual the social unit, but also the immature individual; from which extreme we may expect a recoil toward that medium state in which has been finally lost the compound family group, while there is a reinstitution, and even further integration, of the family group proper, composed of parents and offspring.

And here we come in sight of a truth on which politicians and philanthropists would do well to ponder. The salvation of every society, as of every species, depends on the maintenance of an absolute opposition between the régime of the family and the régime of the state.

To survive, every species of creature must fulfill two conflicting requirements. During a certain period each member must receive benefits in proportion to its incapacity. After that period, it must receive benefits in proportion to its capacity. Observe the bird fostering its young, or the mammal rearing its litter, and you see that imperfection and inability are rewarded; and that, as ability increases, the aid given in food and warmth becomes less. Obviously this law, that the least worthy shall receive most, is essential as a law for the immature: the species would disappear in a generation did not parents conform to it. Now mark what is, contrariwise, the law for the mature. Here individuals gain rewards proportionate to their merits. The strong, the swift, the keen-sighted, the sagacious, profit by their respective superiorities—catch prey or escape enemies, as the case may be. The less capable thrive less, and on the average of cases rear fewer offspring. The least capable disappear by failure to get prey, or from inability to escape. And by this process is maintained that average quality of the species which enables it to survive in the struggle for existence with other species. There is thus, during mature life, an absolute reversal of the principle that ruled during immature life.

Already we have seen that a society stands to its citizens in the same relation as a species to its members; and the truth which we have just seen holds of the one holds of the other. The law for the undeveloped is that there shall be most aid where there is least merit. The helpless, useless infant, extremely exigeant, must from hour to hour be fed, kept warm, amused, exercised; as during childhood and boyhood the powers of self-preservation increase, the attentions required and given become less perpetual, but still need to be great; and only with approach to maturity, when some value and efficiency have been required, is this policy considerably qualified. But when the young man enters into the battle of life he is dealt with