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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/650

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

age, each member of a tribe is subject—the knocking out of teeth, the gashing of the flesh, the tattooing, the submission to torture—it needs but to remember that from these imperative customs there is no escape, to see that the directive force which exists before political agency arises, and which afterward makes the political agency its organ, is the gradually formed opinion of countless preceding generations; or rather, not the opinion, which, strictly speaking, is an intellectual product wholly impotent, but the emotion associated with the opinion. This we everywhere find to be at the outset the chief controlling power.

The notion of the Tupis, that, "if they departed from the customs of their forefathers, they should be destroyed," may be named as a definite manifestation of the force with which this transmitted opinion acts. In one of the rudest tribes of the Indian hills, the Juángs, less clothed even than Adam and Eve are said to have been, the women long adhered to their bunches of leaves in the belief that change was wrong. Of the Koranna Hottentots we read that, "when ancient usages are not in the way, every man seems to act as is right in his own eyes," Though the Damara chiefs "have the power of governing arbitrarily, yet they venerate the traditions and customs of their ancestors." Smith says, "Laws the Araucanians can scarcely be said to have, though there are many ancient usages which they hold sacred and strictly observe." According to Brooke, among the Dyaks custom simply seems to have become the law, and breaking of the custom leads to a fine. In the minds of some clans of the Malagasy, "innovation and injury are. . . inseparable, and the idea of improvement altogether inadmissible."

This control by inherited usages is not simply as strong in groups of men who are politically unorganized, or but little organized, as it is in advanced tribes and nations, but it is stronger. As Sir John Lubbock remarks: "No savage is free. All over the world his daily life is regulated by a complicated and apparently most inconvenient set of customs (as forcible as laws), of quaint prohibitions and privileges.\ Though one of these rude societies appears to be structureless, yet its ideas and usages form a kind of invisible framework for it, serving rigorously to restrain certain classes of its actions. And this invisible framework has been slowly and unconsciously shaped, during daily activities impelled by prevailing feelings and guided by prevailing thoughts, through generations stretching back into the far past.

In brief, then, before any definite agency for social control is developed, there exists a control arising partly from the public opinion of the living and more largely from the public opinion of the dead.

 

But now let us note definitely a truth implied in some of the illustrations above given—the truth that, when a political agency has been evolved, its power, largely dependent on present public opinion, is