Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/527

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SOME FORCES OF THE SOCIAL ORGANISM.

size, weapons have multiplied in number and destructiveness, battles have grown more and more deadly in action, while also becoming more merciful in their accompaniments; but still it is everywhere apparent that, in spite of these aids to carnage, the military spirit is on the decline. May we not look for the cause of this in the enormously increased cost of warfare and its interference with the pursuit of prosperity and wealth? When the internal losses to a people become greater than those they can gain through conquest and annexation, they will be very loath to enter into a great conflict. I am very far from saying that many other causes, such as ethics and a growing spirit of mercy, may not have contributed to this pacification of the nations, but is it not true that the cost of war is the chief preventive of war? If so, does it not illustrate the rule that the reactions set up by the vast technical improvement of methods of destruction have reacted on the primitive cause of the destruction—viz., the human will—and have lessened the cause by modifying the heart and brain of man?

It is not a difficult task to point out analogies more or less vague. It is generally a safe exercise to move about in the region of diffused generalization. It is prudent to keep one's balloon in the clouds so long as the country below is full of sharp and jagged rocks; but, then, one must come down some time, and anchor the craft to some tangible thing.

Now, I must bring this paper to an end, and relate it, if possible, to some present fact, and the* fact I want to tie to is the existing socialistic movement. That is rugged enough to gore anybody, and so I will approach cautiously with two o r three suggestions.

A closed system, possessed of incessant internal motion and alive, is conditioned by many things, but three only of these have been touched on in this paper: First, by its size; second, by possible intensities of action; and, third, by the reactionary forces set up by changes now going on. That the size of a community tends to disrupt it no one will deny. That the intensity of effort of the whole community is dependent on the average vigor and intelligence of its members is also a truism; while the operation of the third law seems to me to lead to these conclusions: 1. The dynamic value of any social movement depends more on its past history than the immediate present. Any forecasts which ignore the past, and predict future states only by observing the momentary conditions of to-day, will be surely in error. Indeed, I would go further, and say that a visible movement is already but the autumn crop of something sown long before. 2. Any movement of a portion of the community thereby sets up a counter force, whose tendency is to lessen or abolish the initial desire which