Page:The Green Bag (1889–1914), Volume 25.pdf/500

This page needs to be proofread.

Reviews of Books The book is a hard one to review, because it is difficult for the reviewer to comprehend just what the author means at all times. Nowhere has the author attempted a concise definition of capi talism. Yet in a book the whole argu ment of which turns on the contempo rary influence exerted by capitalism, and the dangers confronting it, it is essential that the conception be ex pounded clearly. Exception likewise may be taken to general propositions like the following, enunciated without thorough study of economic or sociological prin ciples: "In fine, monopolies, or compe tition in trade, appear to be recurrent social, phases which depend upon the ratio which the mass and the fluidity of capital, or in other words its energy, bears to the area within which competi tion is possible"; "The judge may develop a principle, he may admit evi dence of a custom in order to explain the intentions of the parties to a suit, as Lord Mansfield admitted evidence of the customs of merchants, but he should not legislate"; "What we call civiliza tion is, I suspect, only, in proportion to its perfection, a more or less thorough social centralization, while centraliza tion, very clearly, is an effect of applied science." Phrases like these reveal a lack of power to state abstract concep tions clearly, and a tendency to inexacti tude of thought as well as of utterance. If the judiciary has been influenced by capitalism to the extent Mr. Adams assumes, the point is of too great im portance to be passed over without an attempt to portray the relation between the bench and the so-called capitalistic class, and without a survey of the judi cial decisions which are supposed to betray this unfortunate partisan bias. The incredulous may accept the con clusion without examining the premises, but we are not incredulous enough to


follow, with sympathy or comprehen sion, Mr. Adams' plea that the judi ciary needs to be withdrawn from politics, i.e., that political questions are never for the courts, but always for the legislatures. That the courts may have been compelled to decide some partisan controversies does not indicate that their functions are ordinarily more political than judicial. And if there is, indeed, the need of withdrawing the judges from politics, how can short elective terms, and the recall of judicial decisions, com bined with a disability to hold statutes unconstitutional, fail to force judges further into politics, instead of taking them away from it? The author has in his concluding pages much to say about the lawyers being, like the universities, under the control of the capitalist class. But if, as it seems to us, we live in an era of capitalism, and this era is likely to endure for many centuries longer, purged perhaps of some of its abuses, the modern labor union may be considered a part of the capitalist regime. In that case to call a man a capitalist cannot be to accuse him of partisanship. If capitalism be taken in a narrower sense, are we to consider that there is any such battle now raging between capi tal and labor in this country as the doctrinaire socialist has in mind when, preaching the gospel of Marx or Loria, he sets the economic system of modern society at defiance? And is it not pos sible that Mr. Adams takes surface phe nomena rather too seriously, that he has lost sight, in a word, of the distinction between revolutions and oscillations? Political parties are composed of such mixed elements that it overtaxes credul ity to explain the national Republican convention of 1912, with the lesson of the French Revolution in mind, as exempli fying "the inability of a declining favored