Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/411

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CIVILIZATION AND SCIENCE.

science, even industry is compromised by what is in part its own work. In short, Idealism is succumbing in the struggle with Realism, and the kingdom of material interests is coming.

It is no surprise that this aspect of modern civilization should be most noticeable in a country where the creation of material resources and the removal of natural obstacles were for a long time of prime necessity; where an immigrant population had, in a measure, to begin a new life, and most of them had as it were burned their ships behind them; where no historic memories and literary traditions were available for stopping the tendency of the popular life, too exclusively directed toward the useful arts and the acquisition of wealth. It is no wonder that America has become the principal home of utilitarianism. While at times the very first conditions of human society are there in dispute, it is in America especially that those existences come into being whose wealth, luxury, and external polish, contrasting as they do with their ignorance, narrowness, and innate coarseness, give one the idea of a neo-barbarism. In view of this aspect of American life, which has been again and again portrayed by writers, from Sealsfield down to Bret Harte, it has come to be the custom to characterize as an Americanization the dreaded overgrowth and permeation by realism of European civilization, and the rapidly-growing preponderance of manufacturing industry. Later the starry flag has waved in a war for an idea, a glory which the tricolor has been wont to claim for its own—and then has, like your true mercenary, demanded its pay for service done. Still another starry flag may the land of the future confidently oppose to such reproaches as are implied in the term "Americanization"—the flag of its young literary honors, each star being some name illustrious in science, in song, or in story. However, the term "Americanization" is now naturalized, nor will non-Americanized Americans object to the employment of it, as most of them are quite ready to admit the weak point in the young giant's education which this term is used to designate.

But, in thus animadverting on American civilization, is it not a fact that we see the mote in our brother's eye, but perceive not the beam that is in our own eye? What of the resistance that ought to be made to these redoubtable tendencies by our German civilization, ancient and firmly rooted as it is, when compared with the American? Unless we give way to one of our latest-cherished self-delusions, we must confess that we have already made such progress in "Americanization" as should give us pause. Germany is become united and powerful, and the longing of our youth to see the German name again respected by land and sea has been fulfilled. Who would find fault with such an achievement? But go back in thought to the divided, powerless, provincial Germany of our youthful days—passing as it were from the cold splendor of the imperial city into the narrow streets of some old town in Middle Germany, with their overhanging gables, and the house-fronts hung with grape-vine and ivy—is there not something lacking