Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/579

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

in its intensity. They are sympathetic, friendly, helpful, and always interested in endeavoring to perfect social relations, to develop the methods of co-operation, to add to the happiness of mankind by improving the forms of social pleasure, to preserve the great social institutions of the family and the state. To this class the entire population turns for help, inspiration, and leadership, for unselfish loyalty and wise enterprise. It includes all who in the true sense of the word are philanthropic, all whose self-sacrifice is directed by sound judgment, all true reformers whose zeal is tempered by common sense and sober patience, and all those who give expression to the ideals and aspirations of the community for a larger and better life." The Pre-eminent Social Class is further discussed in Chapter XII; and the subsequent chapters, as far as, and including, XIX, describe the processes by which social results in the balancing of interests, establishment of rights, assimilation of characters, and general improvement of social conditions, are realized. The limits which expediency sets to the pursuit of "like-mindedness" are well shown, and the advantage and necessity for social progress of free discussion and wide toleration of individual differences are strongly insisted on. Chapter XX deals with The Early History of Society, and contains the statement that "from an apelike creature, no longer perfectly represented in any existing species, the human race is descended."

The subject of Democracy is well treated in a special chapter (XXIV). The author is of opinion that, if the natural leaders of society do their duty, they will wield a moral influence that will give a right direction to public policy, and secure the continuous advance of the community in prosperity and true civilization. The "if" is an important one, but the author has strong hope, in which ail his readers will certainly wish to share, that in the main everything will turn out well.

The remarks on the State in Chapter XXIII are, as far as they go, judicious; but we could have wished that the author, who we are sure desires to make his treatise as practically useful as possible, had dwelt somewhat on the dangers of over-legislation, and had brought into fuller relief than he has done the difference between state action and voluntary enterprise, arising from the fact that the former always involves the element of compulsion. We pass a law when we can not get our neighbor to co-operate or agree with us in something, and consequently resolve to compel him. Surely this consideration should suffice to make parsimony the first principle of legislation. We agree with our author that it is not well to "belittle" the state (page 214), but it is hardly belittling the state to wish to be very sparing in our appeals to it for the exercise of coercive power.

We miss also in the work before us such a treatment of the family as might have been introduced into it with advantage. The family certainly has an important relation to the individual, and in all civilized countries it is specially recognized by the state. Mr. Spencer, in the chapter of his Study of Sociology entitled Preparation in Psychology, has dwelt on the encroachments of the state on the family; and Mr. Pearson, in his National Life and Character, published half a dozen years ago, sounded a note of alarm on the same subject. What position Professor Giddings would have taken as to the importance of family life and the rights and duties of the family we do not, of course, know; but we are disposed to think he could have increased the usefulness and interest of his book by some discussion