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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/748

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

into a voluminous flood utterly changing the face of things. Or to leave figures for a more literal statement, he is unconscious of the truth that he is helping to form a certain type of social organization, and that kindred measures, effecting kindred changes of organization, tend with ever-increasing force to make that type general, until, passing a certain point, the proclivity toward it becomes irresistible. Just as each society aims when possible to produce in other societies a structure akin to its own—just as, among the Greeks, the Spartans and the Athenians severally struggled to spread their respective political institutions, or as, at the time of the French Revolution, the European monarchies aimed to re-establish monarchy in France, so, within every society, each species of structure tends to propagate itself. Just as the system of voluntary co-operation by companies, associations, unions, to achieve business ends and other ends, spreads throughout a community, so does the antagonistic system of compulsory co-operation under state-agencies spread, and the larger becomes its extension the more power of spreading it gets. The question of questions for the politician should ever be, "What type of social structure am I tending to produce?" But this is a question he scarcely ever entertains.

Here we will entertain it for him. Let us now observe the general course of recent changes, with the accompanying current of ideas, and see whither they are carrying us.

 

The blank form of a question daily asked is, "We have already done this; why should we not do that?" And the regard for precedent suggested by it is ever pushing on regulative legislation. Having had brought within their sphere of operation more and more numerous businesses, the acts restricting hours of employment and dictating the treatment of workers are now to be made applicable to shops. From inspecting lodging-houses to limit the numbers of occupants and enforce sanitary conditions, we have passed to inspecting all houses below a certain rent in which there are members of more than one family, and are now passing to a kindred inspection of all small houses.[1] The buying and working of telegraphs by the state is made a reason for urging that the state should buy and work the railways. Supplying children with food for their minds by public agency is being followed in some cases by supplying food for their bodies; and, after the practice has been made gradually more general, we may anticipate that the supply now proposed to be made gratis in the one case will eventually be proposed to be made gratis in the other, the argument that good bodies as well as good minds are needful to make good citizens being logically urged as a reason for the extension. And then, avowedly proceeding on the precedents furnished by the church, the school, and the reading-room, all publicly provided, it is contended

  1. See letter of Local Government Board, "Times," January 2, 1884.