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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/279

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

old university ideals of culture. The whole pinch is here, for, whenever science is recognized as the foundation of a valuable and desirable mental culture, the progress of thought will soon give it the supreme place as a means of the higher education.

 

 

CURIOUS EDUCATIONAL LOGIC.

The rapid development in this country of a vast system of state education, under the control of politicians, gives interest to the views of those men on the subject of educational philosophy. President Hayes in his speech, which we referred to last month, is reported to have made the following remarkable statement: "The unvarying testimony of history is that the nations which win the most renowned victories in peace and war are those which provide ample means of popular education." That is, according to the President of the United States, popular education is equally a preparation for victories in peace and victories in war—the destructive practice of savages and the constructive vocations of civilized life. It has been the inspiring hope of multitudes through many ages that the world would yet outgrow the brutal pursuit of war, and they have had faith that this great result would be ultimately achieved by the progress of general enlightenment and the development of the arts of peace which communities would find it for their highest interest to promote. It has been believed that the victories of peace would put an end to the curses of war, because the state of mind they would engender in society must be incompatible with military barbarism. Certainly, if there is deadly antagonism anywhere it is between the interests of war and the interests of peace; but President Hayes seems to think popular education has the marvelous capacity of leading both ways, to triumphant war and victorious peace.

We need not go far for illustrations of inveterate hostility between the interests of peace and war, and for the influence of this conflict in shaping the permanent policy of government. The antagonism casts its malign shadow over all the periods of peace. The commerce and industry of the country are "regulated," not by the intrinsic laws of commercial and industrial prosperity, but with reference to the alleged contingencies of future war. Why should the intercourse of nations be impeded by shackles upon trade? Why should private enterprise be thwarted, and the intelligence of citizens discredited in regard to the course of industrial occupation? Because at some future time we may want to fight the world, and so must keep ourselves independent of it. We are cursed with a war-tariff because we had a domestic war, and must continue it because we may have foreign wars; and thus citizens are coerced this way and that in all their most vital private interests by the predominance of the military spirit.

A more specific illustration is fresh in the minds of all. The opening of a canal at the Isthmus of Darien would be one of the greatest victories of peace in the interest of the world that has ever been accomplished. It would bind the nations in pacific restraints more powerfully than any other international measure ever proposed. But it was resisted in this country in the interests of future war; and President Hayes and the politicians of Congress did all they could to prevent the execution of the work by a disgraceful demagogical perversion of the Monroe doctrine. The popular education of the politicians did not here lead them both ways, according to Hayes's formula; they sacrificed the victories of peace on the pretext of the adverse interests of future war.

President Hayes invokes "the unvarying testimony of history" to establish his proposition, but the problem of the influence and effects of "popular