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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/17

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9
THE REAL PROBLEMS OF DEMOCRACY.

and free institutions. It adds thousands upon thousands to the constantly growing army of tax eaters that are impoverishing the people still striving against heavy odds to gain an honest livelihood. It places in the hands of the political despots now ruling the country, without the responsibility that the most odious monarchs have to bear, a revenue and an army of mercenaries that make more and more difficult emancipation from their shackles. It is doing more than anything else except the post-office department to teach people that there is no connection between merit and benefit; that they have the right to look to the State rather than to themselves for maintenance; that they are under no obligations to see that they do not take from others, in the form of salaries not earned nor intended to be earned, what does not belong to them. In the face of this wholesale destruction of fellow-feeling such as occurred in France under the old regime and is occurring to-day in Italy and Spain, and the inculcation of the ethics of militant activities, such as may be observed in these countries as well as elsewhere in Europe, is it any wonder that the mind-stuffing that goes on in the public schools has no more effect upon the morals of the American people than the creeds and prayers of the mediæval ecclesiastics that joined in wars and the spoliation of oppressed populations throughout Europe?

Since the path that all people under popular government as well as under forms more despotic are pursuing so energetically and hopefully leads to the certain destruction of the foundations of civilization, what is the path that social science points out? What must they do to prevent the extinction of the priceless acquisition of fellow-feeling, now vanishing so rapidly before the most unselfish efforts to promote it? The supposition is that the social teachings of the philosophy of evolution have no answer to these questions. Believing that they inculcate the hideous laissez-faire doctrine of "each for himself and the devil take the hindmost," so characteristic of human relations among all classes of people in this country, the victims of this supposition have repudiated them. But I propose to show that they are the only teachings that give the slightest promise of social amelioration. Although they are ignorantly stigmatized as individualistic, and therefore necessarily selfish and inconsiderate of the welfare of others, they are in reality socialistic in the best sense of the word—that is, they enjoin voluntary, not coercive, co-operation, and insure the noblest humanity and the most perfect civilization, moral as well as material, that can be attained.

Why a society organized upon the individualistic instead of the socialistic basis will realize every achievement admits of easy