Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/167

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
163
THE UNIVERSITY IN POLITICS

ment. Many things are still in the experimental stage. It should be stated, however, that most of the alleged experts who muddle the public mind are partly or wholly pseudoscientific. A very small amount of inquiry among the citizens of the real republic of science would demonstrate this to any one.

Thus, I think the members of any university faculty should be "in politics" to the extent of being ready and anxious to help wherever they can, to come forward and fight for what they believe to be true and wise. They should also, it is almost superfluous to say, stand always for the moral and decent thing. On the other hand, speaking for myself, I do not see how any man with scientific training can be a strictly "regular" member of any political party. In some particular controversy, he may be wholly on one side, but in the long run, orthodox party service deprives him of that freedom of judgment and action which he deems so essential. Fortunately, everything indicates the breaking up of the old rigid lines; not, I believe, so much to form new ones along fresh directions of cleavage, as to allow greater freedom for the products of honest thought. Thus the initiative and referendum, by compelling people to form judgments on particular questions, will prove well worth the expense and sometimes inconvenience they may occasion.

What about the student body in politics? Its members are young and relatively inexperienced, but they are, we hope, to be the politicians of the future. They ought, at any rate, to be in training for public service. Probably the greatest criticism that future generations will make on our present educational system is this, that thought and deed are too far apart; so far, often, that the deed never follows. Every one deplores the lack of earnest purpose shown by so many university students, and many attribute it to an absolute deficiency in the individuals concerned. Much of it, I fancy, is due to nothing more than lack of opportunity to do things; an opinion confirmed in part by the extraordinary activity shown from time to time in foolish undertakings, and in part by the excellent record in life of many men who were never considered very able in college. It is in many ways a difficult situation, yet I confess I should be willing to see our students more active in public affairs, more like those men of the universities who have always taken prominent parts in political crises in Germany. To some extent the faults of immaturity are offset by the fresh and generous attitude of one who goes to battle unwounded and unafraid. I remember how a certain writer once rejoiced that he had, when a young man, written a book. It was bold to the point of error, he would not, could not, write so' now—but, after all, it had a precious quality he could never again approach.

The internal activities of the university afford scope for a good deal of political talent, but unfortunately their purposes are often petty, and