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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/722

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

has been attained by former methods. Mr. Bryant argues for the state compulsory system as against the voluntary system, but the great advancements of civilization have been incontestably made by private enterprise, and spontaneous coöperation among the members of the community, and with these things the state has only meddled to hinder. The state originates nothing; its highest office is simply to secure the conditions under which the voluntary combinations of individuals for desirable objects shall have the fullest and freest play. Nor is the progress of education any exception to this law. The work of originating and extending knowledge, and of diffusing it by the formation of schools, the organization of societies, the institution of academies, and the establishment of colleges, has always been mainly done by the individual forces of society working under voluntary coöperation and independent of government. Besides, all the tendencies of modern progress are to give larger scope to private enterprise, and to relinquish to the people prerogatives that formerly belonged to government. It is now proposed to contradict this law of advancement by surrendering to the state the whole duty of directing the mental development of its citizens. Mr. Bryant maintains that the right of state control in the matter of educaion is a necessary consequence of state sovereignty, and he argues that, in the course of political development, the family is superseded, the state assuming the parental functions. He says: "The child passes, in any organized society, through all the grades in the related social state. In the same order, also, government passes on, until it rests in the control of sovereignty, the state. And the right of the state to the custody and control of the citizen is as complete as the right of the parent to the control of the infant child. These are only the natural laws belonging to the several relations in the growth of society in all artificial conditions, under all governments. State control, therefore, comes into rightful exercise of authority over the education of every human being entitled to the privileges and protection of government. The particular age at which state* authority may rightfully interfere in this relation is a matter of state policy and sovereign discretion."

Here, again, the law of progress is misread. Nothing is more certain than that it has resulted in cutting down state sovereignty to make room for individual rights. Man's development has ever been an acquirement of rights against the state, and, in all political advancement, the state has consequently become less and less, and the citizen more and more. The progress of civil liberty has been from the beginning a wresting of power from despotic state sovereignty. Men fought early and desperately for the right of life—that is, that they should not have their heads cut off at the caprice of a sovereign will. They wrung from the state the right of the individual ownership of property. They reduced the functions of the state when it repressed free speech for its own sovereign purposes. They stripped the state of its power of determining what religion it thinks best for the community, and thus secured the rights of conscience. In all these things, and in many more, government has been restrained and hampered in its tyrannical meddlings, and the people have correspondingly gained in liberty. The state has always assumed that it knew more about what was good for the people than they knew themselves. What we call liberty is nothing more than the right of the people to be their own judges, and to manage their own concerns in the way that seems best for the promotion of their own interests. But Mr. Bryant interprets state sovereignty in a way that dissolves all individual rights. If the state may interfere at its