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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/474

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

mission was. The same may be said of the alphabet and printing. If one reads the vivid account Lord Macaulay gives of the founding of the Bank of England, of the debates thereon, and the still more violent debates on the usefulness or danger of the goldsmiths who originated banking, he will get a good illustration of the utter unconsciousness with which social improvements are made, and the universality with which they arise from a desire for the attainment of some immediate individual end. The great financial invention of our own day—building and loan associations—has begun in the desire of wage-earners, who never heard of Mill, or Spencer, or Das Kapital, to get homes for themselves and each other, and has been perfected in humble and unknown hands till now, having built a million homes, earned a high rate of interest for millions of members, they have grown to hold more money than the savings banks, and may at length aspire to engage the notice of Chauncey M. Depew when next he tells the public what to do with a thousand dollars of savings. Industrial improvements unfold as silently and modestly as the leaf on the tree. New structures, for new uses, do not spring from old structures, fixed in other uses, but from the undeveloped part of the organism, and gradually by inconsidered increments the mightiest economic changes are made. These characteristics of social evolution give us greater faith in the natural progress of society, and have a most important and decisive bearing upon many of the questions agitating social philosophers so much and the rest of the world so little.

Evolution teaches us to expect further changes to be additions to the present state rather than anything like subversions. There will be a continual increase in division of labor, increased social stability, and we may expect increased industrial co-operation by means of market reports, by which production in the various trades will be kept more perfectly equilibrated than at present, and the overproduction of any one product prevented. All labor will become more and more specialized, and unskilled labor will have a continual tendency to disappear.

Perhaps the most important and interesting topic that evolution brings into political economy is the vast subject of industrial disorders. That these are capable of scientific treatment no evolutionist will deny, because they are essentially like all other ills of humankind. What are industrial disorders? How do they originate? What course do they run? How and when do they subside? Evolution can and will treat these great questions in a comprehensive way, and when it does we shall for the first time have clear ideas on the most engrossing subject of our own day. That evolution has a panacea to offer I do not believe, for it reminds us at every turn that pain and suffering are an inseparable