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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/247

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ETHICS AND THE STRUGGLE FOR EXISTENCE.

them. The use of morality is to humanize the struggle; to minimize the suffering of those who lose the game; and to offer the prizes to the qualities which are advantageous to all rather than to those which serve to intensify the bitterness of the conflict. This implies the growth of foresight, which is an extension of the earlier instinct, and enables men to adapt themselves to the future, and to learn from the past, as well as to act upon the immediate impulse of present events. It implies still more the development of the sympathy which makes every man feel for the sufferings of all, and which, as social organization becomes closer, and the dependence of each constituent atom upon the whole organization is more vividly realized, extends the range of a man's interests beyond his own private needs. In that sense, again, it must stimulate "collectivism" at the expense of a crude individualism, and condemns the doctrine which, as Prof. Huxley puts it, would forbid us to restrain the member of a community from doing his best to destroy it. If it be right to restrain such conduct, it is right to carry on the conflict against all anti-social agents or tendencies. I should certainly hold any form of collectivism to be immoral which denied the essential doctrine of the abused individualist, the necessity, that is, for individual responsibility. We have surely to suppress the murderer as our ancestors suppressed the wolf. We have to suppress both the external enemies, the noxious animals whose existence is incompatible with our own, and the internal enemies which are injurious elements in the society itself. That is, we have to work for the same end of eliminating the least fit. Our methods are changed; we desire to suppress poverty, not to extirpate the poor man. We give inferior races a chance of taking whatever place they are fit for, and try to supplant them with the least possible severity if they are unfit for any place. But the suppression of poverty supposes not the confiscation of wealth, which would hardly suppress poverty in the long run, nor even the adoption of a system of living which would make it easier for the idle and the good-for-nothing to survive. The progress of civilization depends, I should say, on the extension of the sense of duty which each man owes to society at large. That involves a constitution of society which, although we abandon the old methods of hanging, and flogging, and shooting down—methods which corrupted the inflicters of punishment by diminishing their own sense of responsibility—may give an advantage to the prudent and industrious and make it more probable that they will be the ancestors of the next generation. A system which should equalize the advantages of the energetic and the helpless would begin by demoralizing, and would very soon lead to an unprecedented intensification of the struggle for existence. The probable result of a