Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/509

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SOCIAL FORCES IN AMERICAN LIFE.

ical and social barriers, and the giving to each man an unimpeded career, must be purely beneficial, yet there is, at first, a considerable set-off from the benefits. Among those who, in older communities, have by laborious lives gained distinction, some may be heard privately to confess that "the game is not worth the candle," and, when they hear of others who wish to tread in their steps, shake their heads and say, "If they only knew!" Without accepting in full so pessimistic an estimate of success, we must still say that very generally the cost of the candle deducts largely from the gain of the game. That which in these exceptional cases holds among ourselves holds more generally in America. An intensified life, which may be summed up as great labor, great profit, great expenditure, has for its concomitant a wear and tear which considerably diminishes in one direction the good gained in another. Added together, the daily strain through many hours and the anxieties occupying many other hours—the occupation of consciousness by feelings that are either indifferent or painful, leaving relatively little time for occupation of it by pleasurable feelings—tends to lower its level more than its level is raised by the gratifications of achievement and the accompanying benefits. So that it may, and in many cases does, result that diminished happiness goes along with increased prosperity. Unquestionably, as long as order is fairly maintained, that absence of political and social restraints which gives free scope to the struggles for profit and honor conduces greatly to material advance of the society—develops the industrial arts, extends and improves the business organizations, augments the wealth; but that it raises the value of individual life, as measured by the average state of its feeling, by no means follows. That it will do so eventually, is certain; but, that it does so now, seems, to say the least, very doubtful.

The truth is, that a society and its members act and react in such wise that while, on the one hand, the nature of the society is determined by the natures of its members, on the other hand, the activities of its members (and presently their natures) are re-determined by the needs of the society, as these alter: change in either entails change in the other. It is an obvious implication that, to a great extent, the life of a society so sways the wills of its members as to turn them to its ends. That which is manifest during the militant stage, when the social aggregate coerces its units into co-operation for defense, and sacrifices many of their lives for its corporate preservation, holds under another form during the industrial stage, as we at present know it. Though the co-operation of citizens is now voluntary instead of compulsory, yet the social forces impel them to achieve social ends while apparently achieving only their own ends. The man who, carrying out an invention, thinks only of private welfare to be thereby secured, is in far larger measure working for public welfare; instance the contrast between the fortune made by Watt and the wealth which the