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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/602

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

with the doctrine of evolution, and impressed with the lesson it teaches as to the length of time required for changes for the better, discerns at "the limits of evolution," countless generations hence, as goal, a system of property and contract, purified and supplemented by voluntary benevolence, with the authority of the state reduced to a minimum.

In like manner Mill prophesied; but his conclusion was different. He prophesied that co-operative production, "sooner than people in general imagined," would transform society by superseding the capitalist employer; and with respect to the two exactly opposite prophecies of Mill and Comte, all that need be said is that neither of them has been as yet fulfilled. Co-operative production has not advanced, nor, on the other hand, has the capitalist attained supreme political power, though of the two perhaps the prophecy of Comte has come nearer to fulfillment.

When De Tocqueville wrote his remarkable book on "Democracy in America," the new tendency to inequality had not shown itself in America, there was great equality of conditions, and there was likewise considerable equality of conditions in France as a consequence of the Revolution. De Tocqueville generalized from what he then saw, and prophesied a further and a general equality, though somewhat prematurely, because a tendency to a prodigious inequality was setting in at the time he was writing, a tendency first manifested in England, that increased, spread, embraced the civilized world, that was followed by a new social conquest, and the rise of a new and potent moneyed aristocracy. It grew greater; and, generalizing from this tendency, Karl Marx prophesied it would grow still greater until all capital was concentrated in a few hands; the capitalists would then be expropriated, and socialism and equality would come. But Marx, as already stated, based his prophecy on a misread tendency, a short tendency which had spent its full force before he died, just as De Tocqueville based his prediction on a supposed tendency gathered from the facts of a generation earlier. Both were wrong: a great current toward inequality came, especially in America, after De Tocqueville wrote, in 1835, just as there came a check to the concentration of capital in fewer hands, and a tendency to its dispersal, before Marx died.

Others also have prophesied in our century, though without pretending to base their predictions on the scientific study of political or social phenomena: St. Simon, that the golden age was in the future, and that society would reach it through his doctrine; Carlyle, that the abyss lay before society, unless the Great Man appeared to save it. To the like effect the poet-laureate also speaks: "Before earth reach her earthly best a God must mingle with the game."