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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/164

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

large enough to permit extensive division of labor, it is hindered both by deductions, often very great, from the products of their actions, and by the restraints imposed on their actions, usually in excess of the needs. And political control indirectly entails evils on those who exercise it as well as on those over whom it is exercised.

 

The stones composing a house can not be otherwise used until the house has been pulled down. If the stones are united by mortar, there must be extra trouble in destroying their present combination before they can be recombined. And if the mortar has had centuries in which to consolidate, the breaking up of the masses formed is a matter of such difficulty that building with new materials becomes more economical than rebuilding with the old.

I name these facts to illustrate the truth that any kind of arrangement stands in the way of rearrangement; and that this must be true of organization, which is one kind of arrangement. When, during the evolution of a living body, its component substance, at first relatively homogeneous, has been transformed into a combination of heterogeneous parts, there results an obstacle, always great and often insuperable, to any considerable change of structure; the more elaborate and definite the structure the greater is the resistance it opposes to alteration. And this, which is conspicuously true of an individual organism, is true, if less conspicuously, of a social organism. Though a society, composed of discrete units, and not having had its type fixed by inheritance from countless like societies, is much more plastic, yet the same principle holds. As fast as its parts are differentiated—as fast as there arise classes, bodies of functionaries, established institutions—these, becoming coherent within themselves and with one another, resist such forces as tend to modify them. The conservatism of every long-settled institution daily exemplifies this law. Be it in the antagonism of a Church to legislation interfering with its arrangements; be it in the opposition of an army to abolition of the purchase system; be it in the disfavor with which the legal profession at large has regarded law reform—we see that neither in their structures nor in their modes of action are parts that have once been specialized easily changed.

As it is true of a living body that its various acts have as their common end self-preservation, so is it true of its component organs that they severally tend to maintain themselves in their integrity. And, similarly, as it is true of a society that maintenance of its existence is the aim of its combined actions, so it is true of its separate classes and systems of officials, or other specialized parts, that the dominant aim of each is to preserve itself. Not the function to be performed, but the sustentation of those who perform the function, becomes the object in view: the result being that when the function is needless, or even detrimental, the structure still preserves itself as long as it can. In early days the history of the Knights Templars