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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/49

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WHAT IS SOCIAL REVOLUTION?

shortest path, or the path which presents fewest impediments, is that which he chooses; and the like applies to courses of conduct at large: he does not use great effort to satisfy a want when small effort will do. Given his surroundings and the occupation he chooses, when choice is possible, is that which promises a satisfactory livelihood with the least tax on such powers as he has, bodily and mental—is the easiest to his particular nature, all things considered. What holds of individuals holds of masses of individuals; and hence the inhabitants of a tract offering facilities for a particular occupation fall into that occupation. In § 732 of the Principles of Sociology I have given from various countries illustrations of the ways in which local conditions determine the local industries:—instance among ourselves mining districts where there are coal, ironstone, lead, slate; wheat-growing districts and pastoral districts; fruit and hop districts; districts for weavers, stockingers, workers in iron; places for shipbuilding, importing, fishing, etc.: showing that certain sections of the population become turned into organizations for the production of certain commodities, without reference to the directive agency of any man. So in each case is it with the various classes of merchants, shopkeepers, professional men, etc., who in each of these centers minister to those engaged in its special industries: nobody ordering them to come or to go.

Similarly when we pass from production to distribution. As in India at the present time, where a Juggernaut festival is accompanied by a vast fair; as, according to Curtius and Mommsen, in Greece and Rome, the gatherings of people to make sacrifices to the gods were the occasions for trading; so in Christian times, church festivals and saints' days, drawing assemblages of people for worship, led to active exchange of commodities—the names of the fairs proving their origin. This was not arranged by any one: it arose from the common sense of all who wanted to sell some things and buy others. There has been a like history for the rise of markets, and the transition from weekly to bi-weekly, and finally to daily, markets in respect of important things—corn, money, securities. No superior man, political or other, dictated these developments. When barter gave place to exchange by means of a currency, the like happened. One wanting to dispose of surplus goods, meeting those who had no personal need for such goods, took in exchange certain things in universal demand, which he knew he would be able to pass on in like manner—in early stages articles of food, of warmth, of defense, of ornament; and from such articles arose in each case a currency—here dried fish, there tea-bricks, and in other cases skins, bundles of cotton, here standard bars of rock salt, there standard bars of iron, in one place definite lengths of cloth, and in an-