Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/207

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ON JUSTICE.

ratio between the one and the other. As I have elsewhere shown,[1] during the thirty—or rather forty—years' peace, and consequent weakening of the militant organization, the idea of justice became clearer: coercive regulations were relaxed and each man left more free to make the best of himself. But, since then, the redevelopment of militancy has caused reversal of these changes; and, along with nominal increases of freedom, actual diminutions of freedom have resulted from multiplied regulations and exactions. The spirit of regimentation proper to the militant type has been spreading throughout the administration of civil life. An army of workers with appointed tasks and apportioned shares of products, which socialism, knowingly or unknowingly, aims at, shows in civil life the same characters as an army of soldiers with prescribed duties and fixed rations shows in military life; and every further act of Parliament which takes from the individual money for public purposes and gives him public benefits, tends more and more to assimilate the two. Germany best shows this kinship. There, where militancy is most pronounced, and where the regulation of citizens is most elaborate, socialism is most highly developed; and from the head of the German military system has now come the proposal of regimental regulations for the working classes throughout Europe.

Sympathy which, a generation ago, was taking the shape of justice, is relapsing into the shape of generosity; and the generosity is exercised by inflicting injustice. Daily legislation betrays little anxiety that each shall have that which belongs to him, but great anxiety that he shall have that which belongs to somebody else For While no energy is expended in so reforming our judicial administration that every one may obtain and enjoy all he has earned, great energy is shown in providing for him and others benefits which they have not earned. Along with that miserable laissez-faire which calmly looks on while men ruin themselves in trying to enforce by law their equitable claims, there goes activity in supplying them, at other men's cost, with gratis novel reading!

Evidently, then, amid this chaos of opinions the true idea of justice can be but very partially recognized. The workman who, in pursuance of it, insists on his right of making his own contract with an employer, will continue to be called "a black-leg"; and the writer who opposes the practice of forcibly taking A's property for B's benefit will be classed as an "a priori bigot"—Nineteenth Century.


  1. Principles of Sociology, §§ 266, 267; Political Institutions, §§ 573, 574 and 559.