Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/318

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

commencement. The further it goes, the further it approaches anarchy, impoverishment, and barbarism.

At various times, in primitive society, in ancient Egypt, and in the Roman Empire, when women have possessed the forces which were efficient in the society, they have had dominion over men. They abused the power when they had it, too. At other times the subjection of women has been due to the fact that they have needed protection. They did not possess the forces which, at the time, were required for self-defense in the society. Since they accepted protection, they could not be free. When they fell into dependence, they could not be independent. If they could claim protection, and at the same time dominion, they would be privileged; and any one who enjoys privilege, which some one else has to furnish, is of course superior. Hence, there are three positions only in social relations: servitude with inferiority, privilege with superiority, and a middle state of neither, with equality.

Peasant proprietors turn into colons and serfs through misery.[1] They abandon personal liberty in order to get protection, and they accept servitude to get security, because they find that they have not enough of the force which prevails in the society to defend themselves. Their lords maintain superiority and exact for themselves social privilege. Such was the course of things at the downfall of the Roman Empire. When things began to improve in western Europe, the slave thought that it was comparative freedom when he was bound to the soil, because his family could not be separated, and he could not be removed from his home. A villain, however, would have thought it slavery to be reduced to the status of the serf, with unlimited servitudes to render. The serf, in his turn, thought it immeasurable gain to get his servitudes made definite, although a free man would have thought it slavery to be reduced to villainage. A villain could not go if he wanted to, but he could not be evicted if any one wanted to send him away. A free man can go if he wants to, and may be evicted if the other party chooses. At what point does the servitude of the villain, who must stay and work and pay feudal dues, turn into the blessing of the free tenant, who has fixity of tenure, but works and enjoys, subject to taxes? Evidently it is at that point where the rights and benefits of holding and using become equal to the burdens and duties of taking and using—always with reference to the comparative value of other chances which present themselves. If a villain wants to stay, it is a privilege that no one can evict him; if he wants to go, it is a servitude that some one can retain him. If the landlord wants to force tenants to stay and till his land, it is a privilege for him to be able

  1. This is a disputed point, on which a great deal has been written, with very great divergence of opinion. The above seems to me to be the best opinion.