Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/869

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

tics, and favor and foster states of mind that exclude all considerations of a scientific nature. This may be an unpalatable conclusion, but unpalatable conclusions are often true. We have to face the disagreeable fact that it is under the most liberal and perfected political institutions, so called, that the incalculable element of personal caprice in political affairs comes into greatest ascendency. We speak of kingly rule as the type of personal government, but personal government is only seen in its highest power and effect where each citizen has become a sovereign. It is only where the self-seeking of the single monarch is multiplied by millions in a nation of potential office-holders, that the selfishness of personal politics rises to its maximum influence. It is only in a country where everybody is eligible to office, where the incentives to office-seeking are universal, where politics has become such a national passion that the whole scheme of public education is subordinated to it, that personal aspirations and the interests of selfish ambition will dominate unrestricted in the management of public affairs. And it is undeniable that politics with us is coming to be more and more a business, a vocation to be pursued for profit and emolument by successful office-seeking. Under such a system the winning politician will not be the man of intelligence, deliberation, and principle, but the man skilled in all the low arts which will insure political success. He will be the shrewdest operator of the partisan mob. Nothing is more notorious than that under the working of our popular political institutions, the best men go to the wall, and the worst men come to the front. By the very conditions of the case, it is the crafty operators, the longheaded managers, caucus manipulators, party intriguers, and brazen, indefatigable demagogues, who secure the offices. From the General Government down through all the ramifications of legislation and administration to the petty town officials, the places are filled by partisan professionals, so that the first presumption in regard to an office-holder is that he is unfit for the place. And such is the extent of this field, and the intensity of the competition in it, that the preparation for it is of the most absorbing nature, so as to afford a virtual guarantee that the incumbents of office will be profoundly ignorant of all that it is most important for them to know. These are of course not the men to appreciate the scientific elements and aspects of governmental affairs. Such considerations are not available for their purposes. Everything like statesmanship, the forecast of distant consequences in government policy, will be excluded from their minds by the pressure of immediate interests, the advancement of personal projects, and the achievement of political success in accordance with current ideas. The politician looks out first for himself, and all his study is to get a better thing than he already has. Only the one at the top can get no higher, and his soul is devoured by the ambition to be re-elected By the very instinct of the situation, which involves calculations of immediate effect, the politician will be comparatively indifferent to all those slow-working agencies which yield enduring results of the highest value, and which it is the great object of science to elucidate, and of genuine statesmanship to recognize in government policy.

In dealing with the hindrances to the due consideration of a science of politics, the author of the work referred to remarks as follows upon the adverse tendencies which are to be met with even under the best governments:

The topic is naturally relegated to the region of caprice and accident, or to that of tentative experiment and spasmodic contrivance. This intellectual consequence is intensified by the fact that all governments—and not least those known at the present day as the freest, and, on the whole, the sound-