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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/144

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exercise for the mischief and impudence of their charges is well portrayed in several places. The text is not burdened with technical names, and the many spirited illustrations, together with the tasteful cover, add to the attractiveness of the book.

Social Progress: An Essay. By Daniel Greenleaf Thompson. London and New York: Longmans, Green & Co. Pp. 161. Price, $2.

This work forms a part of the same series of philosophical discussions to which the author's earlier volumes belong. Its special object is to present the principles that control the progress of society, a knowledge of which will enable men to direct their movements as social units so as to produce the most useful work with the least friction. The essay is substantially the introduction to a longer work, on which the author is engaged, entitled "The Fundamental Rights of Man." The two chief topics of this book are the conditions and the promotion of social progress. Every individual desires his own advancement, says the author, and closely bound up with this ideal of individual betterment is an ideal of social improvement. If there be either individual or social progress, there must be liberty for action. But the conflicting efforts of antagonistic individuals will neutralize each other if they are not restrained. This restraint is furnished by law. But too much restraint is as destructive as none. Hence the general condition essential to social progress is the establishment of an equilibrium between liberty and law. Men dwell together in the organic relations of society because this state allows each individual to attain a greater number of desires than he could in a solitary and hostile existence. The existence of society requires a social liberty—that is, the recognition of rights due each member of the community, and the limitation of the acts of every one by those rights. The nature of men makes necessary the defense of social liberty by positive law, with machinery to enforce it unfailingly and consistently. No government can be stable that does not insure equality in rights at least between those of the same class, and a government which depends upon the existence of classes tends to instability as knowledge becomes diffused among the least favored classes. Inequality of power, whether political or ecclesiastical authority or wealth, is dangerous to security and should be resisted. One more condition essential to the progress of society is fraternity—a disposition to prefer the good of the whole to the selfish interest of the individual.

In the part of the volume devoted to discussing the promotion of social progress Mr, Thompson calls attention to the fact that in every community there are observable two opposed tendencies with regard to the existing order of things: one toward change, the other resistance to change. The terms radicalism and conservatism have been used to express these antagonistic forces. Men unfortunately tend to range themselves as adherents of one tendency or the other, and any idea which bears the name of one party is scouted by the other. In the social organism, as in the human body, change is essential to life, and, when the changes which constitute the vital processes stop, death ensues and disintegrative changes begin. Mr. Thompson states as the general principles governing the promotion of social progress, that opportunity should be afforded for the action of evolutionary forces; that changes favoring the common freedom should be aided; and that equal enjoyment and security of life, liberty, and property are the test of common freedom. Further, in order to decide whether to aid or oppose a given change, we should examine the motives of its proponents and its opponents, estimate both the immediate and the remote consequences of the proposed change, consider the result of leaving things as they are, and calculate the probabilities of accomplishing the change and the results of failure. For the formation of opinions that will be reliable guides to conduct, self-knowledge and self-control in individuals are prime necessities. The habit of being suspicious of the correctness of one's positions and of the justice of one's sympathies and antipathies ought to be systematically cultivated. Opinions should be expressed freely though judiciously, in order to get the benefit of criticism, upon them. Action should be controlled by an extension and more careful application of the same rules which ought to govern expression of opinion. Compromise and forbearance are sometimes the most effective action. While Mr. Thompson in his