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Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/25

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situation, and it is therefore not so important to enquire whether the moral character of the individual can be reformed, as to discover whether the system can be so changed that it will become impossible for the natural egotism of man to bring about conditions so unjust to the majority and so inexpedient for society as a whole.

But it is precisely at this point that many men who consider themselves particularly unprejudiced and open-minded, stop thinking. They accomplish this feat by the timely application of a phrase ready-made to suit any emergency: "The struggle for life and the survival of the fittest."

"You approach this question from the wrong end altogether," such a man would say. "You talk about social justice and social expediency, but what we are dealing with are Laws of Nature, and Nature knows neither justice nor expediency. What she cares about is the production of types that shall be fit to survive, and her method is pitiless warfare. In the case of man, the struggle for survival is the social struggle. It may not be pretty, but it is necessary. You cannot change Nature: all you can do is to ameliorate conditions a little by prevailing upon the most successful individuals to render the lot of the least successful a little less unendurable, and even that is of doubtful benefit to society, which can only advance by the elimination of the 'least fit.'"

This is a seductive theory, but the knowledge of a little history and a little science candidly