The American Journal of Sociology/Volume 01/Number 4/Reviews
Social Theory. A Grouping of Social Facts and Principles. By John Bascom. T. Y. Crowell & Co., pp. xv+550. $1.75.
This book is full of a pedagogical sententiousness that may be serviceable in teaching undergraduates, but it necessarily exposes its author to the distrust of his peers. A writer may express opinions upon difficult questions in such decisive form that doubt is created about his right to any opinion at all. An author may pass judgment upon so many difficult questions in succession that readers are made to query whether the profoundest investigations of any of them can have been taken into the calculation.
The first suspicion which the table of contents creates is that unwarranted liberties have been taken with the term Sociology. The five parts into which the volume is divided profess to treat in turn of "Customs," "Economics," "Civics," "Ethics," and "Religion," each "as a factor in Sociology." In no single instance has the treatment conformed to the title. The factors named have been treated almost exclusively in their relations to social action, which is an entirely distinct affair. The nearest approach to any exception is in the division on Economics, but even here the fault remains.
The second suspicion is that in the use of the terms just mentioned the author has fixed on a very superficial classification of "forms of organic force," which he deals with as though they were different kinds of organic force. He nowhere penetrates below the surface to discover the nature of the energy which operates through these forms. He does not seem to realize that "customs," for example, are not separable from the other "forms," except in degree. He has built his whole treatment upon a division according to external traits of social actions, instead of discovering the radical principles of actions.
It is perhaps not surprising that the author treats of the family under the head of "customs." When we find, however, that in the same division he treats of "The Negro Problem," "Amusements," "Reform," and "The Press," we begin to question, if we did not before, the assumed law of association. We find that the author has unconsciously passed from the consideration of "customs" in the ethnographic sense, to "habit" in the most general psychological sense, and it is consequently a considerable feat of self-restraint on the part of Professor Bascom to have refrained from discussing in this division all the social phenomena to which the rest of the book refers. They are surely not less liable to the influence of habit than the sample activities mentioned in this division.
A third suspicion gathers force with the beginning of Part III, "Civics as a Factor in Sociology," viz., that for the sake of a mechanical classification the author has inextricably entangled the distinctions which he has undertaken to simplify. I can make nothing but confusion out of these two sentences on the same page (289): "Civics discusses the forms and the development of the state, its functions, the duties and rights of the citizen in reference to it, and its duties and rights in reference to the citizen." . . . "Civics lies between Custom and Economics on the one hand, and Ethics and Religion on the other." My perplexity increases when I read on the next page: "The pure moral impulses that spring up in Ethics and Religion encounter in Civics the inertia and the momentum alike of a slow, continuous, universal evolution," etc. Professor Bascom should have published a key to this peculiar dialect, so that his readers might be able to find out when he is talking about conduct, and when about the sciences which deal with certain relations of conduct.
A fourth suspicion gathers strength with each page of the volume, viz., that the appearance of system in treatment is a logical illusion. There is method and order most rigorously sustained throughout, but the structure is essentially arbitrary. Who could guess, for example, whether the same or different divisions of the book contain the following groups of topics?—(1) The Labor Movement; Coöperation; Profit-Sharing; Saving and Loan Associations; Gains of Workmen. (2) Injustices of Taxation; Principles on which Taxes should be Laid; Forms of Taxes; Indirect Taxes. It so happens that Professor Bascom discusses the former group in the division "Economics" and the latter in the division "Civics," but it would not have strained his method perceptibly if he had arranged to reverse the situation, or if he had transferred both groups to the division "Ethics."
In a word, the book contains a wealth of edifying discourse upon a multitude of subjects, but the dignity of these miscellaneous observations and their methodical arrangement no more gives them philosophical coherence than piling bricks in artistic shapes transforms them into crystals. Mr. Herbert Spencer was pleased to communicate a large assortment of his personal opinions as Ethics, notably in the second volume of the Principles. Professor Bascom chooses to distinguish his opinions on similar subjects as Sociology. In both cases the opinions are well worth printing. In each case, however, the significance of the opinion is incidental to the demonstration that the author has not succeeded in proving the opinions to be sanctioned by the science invoked.
Some men are at present engaged in working out a philosophy of society. They call their desideratum Sociology. Other men, or the same men at other times, are trying to decide what conduct in society is most rational at the present moment. Solutions of problems in the latter field may and must be assumed for daily guidance, whether the former task is accomplished or not. It is meanwhile to be deplored that men who write books are not willing to contribute frankly to the one series of problems or to the other, allowing those contributions to stand on their merits, without attempting to borrow authority from assumptions about the other series. In order to secure sanctions for his dogmatism on problems of conduct Professor Bascom has followed the policy: "Assume a Sociology if you have it not." The effect of such policy is the reverse of that intended.
Practical Christian Sociology. A series of special lectures before Princeton Theological Seminary and Marietta College, with supplemental notes and appendixes. By Rev. Wilbur F. Crafts, Ph. D. Funk & Wagnalls Co. 12mo., pp. 512, $1.50.
Mr. Crafts is a stalwart specimen of the "reformer born." In all his work he furnishes ample exhibit of the virtues and the vices of the type. In the first place it is very hard for him to tell the truth without telling more than the truth. For example, he permits Mr. Joseph Cook, on the first page of his introduction, to allude to Maine, the state of his birth, in these words: "A state in which in all his childhood he saw neither saloon nor drunkard." The writer spent his childhood in the same state, at the same time, and, while he might accept in a qualified sense the statement about saloons, the rest of the assertion tends to create an impression so incorrect that it seriously the reliability of both author and editor as witnesses upon this and other subjects on which Mr. Crafts is said to give "expert testimony." For another illustration we may cite the remark (p. 428): "Chicago, whose reformers in City Hall and Civic Federation have been picking and choosing among the laws as a bill of fare—attacking gambling, but sparing its 'pals,' the saloon and the brothel—etc." This is the most masterly specimen of unconscious mendacity that I remember. It deserves to become a classic example of the advocate's tendency to smuggle conclusions into his allegations of facts. It would be difficult to cram more unfairness into an equal number of words without resorting to absolute falsehood.
On the other hand, everything which Mr. Crafts writes is inspired by a noble purpose, and its substance is true and strong. In the present instance the author's purpose is to "coordinate all these reforms as parts of one great reform—the reform which is the culmination of religion, namely, the Christianizing of society, which is the 'kingdom of God,' to the establishment of which, not to personal salvation merely, 'the chosen people' of both Testaments are divinely, but not yet effectually, called." While differing somewhat with Mr. Crafts on the systematic relation of this programme to "Sociology," I am glad to acknowledge the largeness of his view and the clearness of his aim in practical application of his conception.
The lectures treat of "Practical Christian Sociology." (1) From the standpoint of the church. (2) From the standpoint of the family and education. (3) and (4) From the standpoint of capital and labor. (5) From the standpoint of citizenship. This programme is plain, direct, candid. It is a plan to throw the clear white light of Christian revelation upon the importunate practical questions of modern society. It does not claim a mysterious philosophical endorsement assumed but never produced. The discussion proceeds boldly upon the presumption that Christianity has something decisive to say about unsettled social relations, and that it is possible to voice the Christian message in unmistakable form.
The primary value of the book will accordingly be found not so much in the force of the specific conclusions which it exhibits as in the cumulative effect of its insistence that religion is vain if it does not apply itself to the rectification of all sorts of human relations. Christian leaders may not be convinced that Mr. Crafts has discovered just the place or just the way to apply Christian force, but they will be very obdurate if they can read his book without a quickening of their conviction that they ought to be more devoted to finding the place and the way.
Mr. Crafts is a social evangelist rather than a sociologist, and I am often ready to confess that the class he represents may temporarily do more good, if they are judicious, than the other class. It is well for us to be told forcibly that we must bestir ourselves if the world is to be redeemed. Agitation is wholesome when conducted by men of good will, who have positive beliefs, even if the things they believe are not relatively as important as the agitators imagine. For this reason the book is to be welcomed.
Ruling Ideas of the Present Age.—The Fletcher Prize Essay for 1894, by Washington Gladden. Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 16mo., pp. 299. $1.25.
Dr. Gladden never fails to provoke thought—yes, provoke is the word. The virility of his style often becomes pugnacity. He defies opposition instead of conciliating prejudice. True, he sometimes makes monsters out of mild misdoers, and belabors them relentlessly for constructive crimes. But even in these cases it is edifying to see his ruthless logic lay on the blows, though we are obliged to think he rather thoughtlessly concentrates the castigation.
This little book, apparently adapted from pulpit discourses, does not claim to present novel ideas. It tries to enforce some vital Christian conceptions. I wish it could be read by every intelligent person in the land who wishes to be a better citizen. No candid reader could fail to receive spiritual quickening from its arguments. Jews and Agnostics might accept many of his principal conclusions, without admitting that they depend upon the reasons alleged.
It is not necessary for such a book to convince at every point in order to do splendid service. I feel the need of a much broader treatment of the ethics of property (pp. 158 sq.); of more precise analysis of public opinion (p. 207); and of more judicial treatment of supposed "Pharisaism" (p. 233). But these are minor details. The whole argument is heavily charged with moral galvanism, and I prefer to herald rather than criticise.
The following epitome will indicate the course and quality of thought:
1. Needed social reconstruction depends upon a new conception of life and duty (p. 3).
2. It is the object of the book to point out some of the changes in men's thinking which the present conditions of Christian society most clearly indicate (p. 15).
3. The relation of man to God, i. e., the meaning of the Fatherhood of God, is a subject concerning which there is need of clearer ideas (p. 19).
4. There is need of clearer ideas respecting the brotherhood of man (p. 33). "Before the kingdom of God can fully come a great many Christian people will have to change their minds concerning the true nature of charity" (p. 37). "Beyond all controversy this pauper class owes its existence, in large measure, to the subtle selfishness of the almoners of charity, who are more willing to bestow a dollar than to give a helping hand" (p. 40).
5. There must be reconstruction of ideas concerning the independence of the individual as related to the solidarity of society (pp. 63-96). "In large sections of the Christian church the crucial question respecting the Christian life is 'How do you feel?' Salvation, or at any rate the evidence of it, is, according to this view, a satisfied and pleasurable feeling. ... Those who make the most of their own personal moods and tenses in the matter of religion are the kind of persons who can easily convince themselves that they could be happy in heaven while their next of kin were weltering in everlasting torment" (p. 65).
6. There must be revision of our ideas of the sacred and the secular. "There is no kind of work in which any man has a right to engage that is not in its deepest meaning sacred work" (p. 116).
7. There must be reconstruction of our ideas of property (pp. 137-162). "It may be supposed that such a conception would call for the bestowment of all we have in almsgiving and charitable work. ... I can conceive that a man might not give one dollar in what is known as charity, and yet might use his whole wealth in consecrated ministries" (p. 158).
8. We must clarify our views of the relations of religion and politics (pp. 165-187). "We have a service, in some of our churches, preparatory to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and we are wont to spend some hours of reflection and prayer in making ourselves ready worthily to enter into that solemn service. ... There is quite as much need of a deep and genuine religious preparation for the discharge of all the more important duties of citizenship" (p. 178).
9. We need to consider the relation of the individual to public opinion (pp. 191–215.) "The force which we describe as public opinion is not always wise when it is strong. . . . . If it were the aggregate thought of the whole multitude it would be less likely to go astray; the concentrated passion of the multitude is not so safe a guide (p. 203).
10. We need to detect modern Pharisaism (pp. 219–241). "Pharisaism was the deification of detail, the apotheosis of the trivial. It put so much stress upon minutiæ that no weight was left for things momentous" (p. 227).
11. We need to overcome irrational partisanship. "A good share of the disputes about social reform that are always filling the air arise from the fact that some persons see one side of this question very clearly and refuse to see the other; and about an equal number are equally perverse in their determination to stand and look on the opposite side of the shield" (p. 262).
The postulates upon which these claims rest are (a) the immanence of Christ (p. 274); (b) human relations are not contractual, but vital and organic (p. 285); (c) the presence of the kingdom of God (p. 289).
This extended notice is due because an occasional book of this quality is of more social and perhaps sociological consequence than dozens of purely scientific treatises.
Anarchy or Government? An Inquiry in Fundamental Politics. By William M. Salter. T. Y. Crowell & Co. 16mo., pp. 176, 75 cents.
A genial and wholesome discussion of etymological and ideal anarchy, rather than of the ugly reality that bears the name. Mr. Salter finds that "anarchy" and "liberty " are practically synonymous; that in a society of thoroughly good men compulsion which limits liberty would be unnecessary; hence anarchy is ideally possible and desirable; that in view of this desirability of liberty or anarchy the practical problem of government is: How far may a community or society use force in attaining its objects? The author's answer to the question is that government is justified in maintaining defensive war, in protecting life and property, and in promoting the higher ends of life, by education, popularizing art and guarding the integrity of the type of family best adapted to promote social welfare.
But the question about which the author seems to have been really most interested relates to the choice between anarchy and government in the industrial realm. Nearly half the book is devoted to this part of the inquiry. Mr. Salter's conclusions seem to be unimpeachable, but there is a surprising defect in his premises. He assumes—or rather he formally declares (p. 100)—that "while anarchy or liberty has passed away as regards the protection of life and property, and government is in its place, we live in an order of anarchy or liberty, substantially, as regards the industrial needs of the community." The further claim is that we have only to observe the present industrial situation to obtain inductive proof of the effects of liberty or anarchy. Mr. Salter decides after survey of present industrial conditions that liberty or anarchy in industrial affairs cannot be said to work well. The best that can be said is that the world somehow gets along under it.
If there is a single item of social analysis about which there is practical agreement, from the anarchist in the popular sense to the socialist or communist, it is that the present industrial regime is a reign of laws which restrict the liberty that they professedly promote. Complaints, modulated from violence down to mildness, harmonize in pronouncing our present system restrictive and repressive through laws pertaining to currency, banking, interest, taxation, inheritance, tariff, patent rights, corporate powers, etc. It would be difficult to find another critic of the present industrial situation who would accept Mr. Salter's description of our present condition as a state of industrial liberty or anarchy. There are enough who will go to the other extreme and call it a reign of legalized confusion, and there are few who do not declare that there is too much law of this or that sort—that is, too much abridgment of liberty.
A temperate judgment of our industrial institutions is that they are inventions intended to secure a certain conventional liberty, but that they result in numberless restrictions of real liberty. The conclusion properly to be drawn from a survey of present conditions is then that this system of restraint—government—cannot be said to work well, but that the world somehow gets along under it.
While, therefore, Mr. Salter's essay contains much that is suggestive and valuable, he appears to have sharpened one social perception by blunting another.
Statistics and Sociology, by Richard Mayo-Smith, Ph. D., Professor of Political Economy and Social Science in Columbia College, New York. Macmillan & Co., 1895.
Professor Mayo-Smith's interest in the practical phases of social and economic science is well known. His scholarly preferences seem rather for the scientific exposition of facts than for the development of theories. Both types of scholarship are necessary, but it often happens that the value of the first sort is underestimated.
The statistician is primarily the man of facts, not merely a recorder of facts, but one upon whom is laid the duty of their orderly arrangement, their exposition and scientific coordination. Our author inferentially recognizes these functions by mapping out a general work to bear the title of the science of the statistics. Herein will be arranged the principal contents of statistical knowledge, in two separate volumes, the one having particular reference to the needs of sociology, the other of economics. Comparative data will be brought together in specific chapters with general statement of purpose, with critical review and reflective analysis; a well-conceived order, contributing to lucidity and a proper comprehension of the function of statistical knowledge.
The volume before us is the first part of the contemplated work and is called Statistics and Sociology. One must not infer from the title that statistics in the scientific meaning of the term is an integral part of sociology, but that sociology, the general science of society needs to make use of statistical laws and conclusions just as it would the generalizations of political economy, of politics or of social ethics, in studying the organic development of society and in formulating a social synthesis. Population is the most important subject matter of statistical science, it is likewise a central fact in sociology. The former treats the appropriate data at first hand and discovers laws and regularities which the latter uses for purposes of coordination along with other generalizations. It is well to keep this distinction in mind lest the investigation of contemporary social facts by the statistical method be also considered a function of sociology and the results to stand for sociological laws.
There can be no question of the great service which statistical science can render to sociology. Neither is there any question of the service which a scholar renders in making available for sociological work the approved dicta of statistical science. Professor Mayo-Smith has done this in excellent fashion and thus merits the thanks of all those who, to use his own words, are working for the "development of a sane and intelligent sociology." Our author has drawn from the best official sources, has arranged the data intelligibly, and his analyses though sometimes meager are sound and direct. One cannot say that he has prepared an elaborate scientific treatise, since but brief consideration has been given to statistical method and technique. But he has arranged the principal contents of statistical science which bear close relation to sociology in such an interesting and managable way that no teacher of the latter subject can afford to do without the book.
Punishment and Reformation. By Frederick Howard Wines, LL. D. T. T. Crowell & Co., New York, 1895, pp. ix+339.
In a work on this subject the personality of the author is not a minor element. The conclusions reached are much more influential when stated by Dr. Wines who derived valuable suggestion and inspiration from a father who devoted his life to the study, and who has himself for a quarter of a century been identified with reform movements and public service.
The work is substantially the lectures given before the University of Wisconsin and the Lowell Institute. It is popular in form and contents, and yet deserves the attention of students and professional men. The author seeks to influence action, and this practical purpose has determined what material should be accepted and what rejected. The large hortatory element is explained by the practical purpose of the speaker.
The social sentiments relating to crime are traced in their historical evolution, from the half-instinctive and reflex vengeance of savages through the regulated retributive justice of former ages to the more humane desire to reform the criminal which has characterized this century.
In a very interesting way we have sketched the judicial procedure which corresponds to those evolving sentiments, and the modes of punishment which symbolize the feelings of communities toward law-breakers. It is shown that the methods of compensation common among savages, the ordeal or appeal to God in theocratic communities, the appalling severity of mediaeval authorities, and the educative methods of Elmira Reformatory are manifestations of the conceptions of crime and criminals held at the various stages of culture.
Rightly does the author insist on the fact that the phenomena of crime and of punishment cannot be understood apart from the general social states in which they are found. Each special physical and social science is called upon to furnish elements in the solution of the difficulty. Only when these special sciences have reached a certain stage of development, and only when we have succeeded in coordinating the results of such particular studies, are we in the way of securing the most rational treatment of crime and criminals. The necessity for a social science is clearly seen and abundantly illustrated, and the relation of social pathology to the subject is distinctly pointed out.
Among the most attractive passages are those which deal with the Elmira Reformatory and with the indeterminate sentence. The estimate of the really scientific results of "criminal anthropology" is marked by strong common sense and indicates careful study of the Italian writers, although the treatment is very brief.
The function of prison labor in the process of reformation is so well stated that one wishes the author would contribute a book to the economical, political and educational factors in the question. It may seem strange that the man who conducted the statistical inquiries of the United States in this field should make so few allusions to statistics. What he does say arouses an appetite for more reasoning of the same quality.
The explanation of the transition from the transportation system to the penitentiary system in England is an excellent piece of historical interpretation, and has a practical value in view of the occasional proposition to make Alaska a penal colony.
It is to be hoped that Dr. Wines will be able to expand this book into a discussion of the subject which shall be monumental and at the same time serve the interests of science and practice in America. The present book is better suited to its particular purpose than a larger work, but special students will be asking for more detailed treatment of many of the points raised.
If prison wardens and chaplains could have these chapters read and discussed in classes of the prison subordinate officials, they would help many a prisoner to a better life, and would themselves be enabled to perform a higher service. Tracts might be collated out of some of the chapters for distribution on "Prison Sunday." Legislators who are charged with the study of state correctional institutions owe it to their constituencies to ponder this work, and it should be forced upon their attention in all possible ways. In no other book can one find the most essential questions so well treated for the American public.
Social Regeneration. By Jacob A. Biddle. Hartford: The Student Publishing Company, 1896, pp. 325.
To do justice to the writer we must permit him to speak for himself. A few quotations will make much commentary unnecessary. "The New Testament and the New Science agree in placing sociology in the list of physical sciences. . . . In the order of sciences it comes in after zoology, viz., physics, astronomy, geology, botany, zoology and sociology. Together these constitute the universal science of biology or theology." Observe the reason for this remarkable nomenclature Biology is confounded with theology because "God is Life itself. . . . Life is God. Biology is theology." Really one needs a year's legal notice of such violent changes in phraseology in order to prevent heart disease from the shock. We do not dispute the right of the author to use common words in such strange ways, but we need a new dictionary to help us understand a random passage.
Perhaps the author's most cherished contribution is chapter 8, "The Cooperative Parish of the Holy Catholic Church." This might be called "a clergyman's dream of a local Utopia." It is unsafe to trust a paraphrase; we must use the author's own words when he describes what ought to be. After the conventional socialistic arraignment of capitalistic society the author constructs in the air a society which is eminently satisfactory—to himself. "Suppose now that they organize themselves into a cooperative parish."
"It is based upon the conception that all authority in government comes from the Power who made and rules the planet. It is a theocracy. . . . Its duty is to keep its members at peace with God, in fellowship and love with each other, in health of body, and supplied with all the necessaries of life. It is supported and managed by the people, for the people, upon the principle, that each shall give to the community according to ability and receive according to need. They are equal. Each is a freeman, a king. They ask no one to support or rule them. Each family is a world in itself of which the husband is head. The heads of families form the parish."
This parish elects its own officers and receives or expels members. It is not quite clear what would be done with a recalcitrant skeptic or agnostic. The dose of creed and ritual is by no means scant. "The rites of the parish are baptism, confirmation, the Lord's Supper, pardon, matrimony, healing and ordination. In these mysteries of religion is the recognition that God is a Cosmic Power, and rules this earth through solar force. There is also the Christian confession that this aqueous age of the planet is passing away and the age of the Spirit is coming."
The need of a larger political body is recognized, "the coöperative commonwealth, called a diocese or state, whose chief officer could be called bishop or governor."
The book is typical. It is a curious psychical study. It proves that the kaleidoscopic possibilities of the constructive imagination, in the employment of a very few simple pieces of highly colored fragments, are practically boundless. It shows at work, in the stage of ferment, a deeply ethical and sympathetic nature. Its scientific value is nothing. There is not a trace of the scientific temper or method. There are assumptions stated in a single line which it would require a volume to prove.
Primitive Civilizations. By E. J. Simcox. Macmillan & Co., pp. x+576+554. $10.00.
Miss Simcox has evidently lavished labor and patience upon these two large, compact, and admirable volumes, and the result is a book which for interest to the student of social institutions may be compared with Spencer's Principles of Sociology, and Westermarck's History of Human Marriage. But it resembles these works perhaps less than it differs from them. Westermarck is a master in polemics on a question of origins where it is too much to ask that any single thesis be accepted as covering every case, and confines himself to a single aspect of the life-process; Spencer is boundlessly suggestive but frequently tangential and sometimes preposterous, limiting himself neither geographically nor chronologically in his search for materials to illustrate his views of the interworking of social forces in the aggregate. Miss Simcox's plan is a compromise between these two. She has considered the Egyptian, Babylonian, what she calls for convenience the Syro-Phœnician and Lybo-Phœnician, and the Chinese civilizations, avowedly with the purpose of outlining the history of ownership in these archaic communities; but industrial, militant and social conditions are treated with great fullness, and the position of women receives at every turn especial attention. Miss Simcox has shown throughout a fine enthusiasm for her difficult task, and feels that the two volumes scantly suffice for her purpose. "A sketch of English history and social growth," she says at the close of her second volume, "compressing the records of 800 years into half as many pages is apt to repel by the dullness that comes of brevity. A survey of five times as many centuries would need to be ten times as long to become less tedious; and the charitable reader is entreated to believe that the foregoing pages might have seemed shorter if they had been a great deal more numerous."
To the sociologist, who has the threefold task of finding his facts, reading his ideals out of the facts, and carrying the ideals over into action, this work is of great value, and especially so since its author is not merely a compiler of facts, but a searcher to whom the significance of the process underlying the facts is all-important. Miss Simcox thinks we have been superficial and contemptful in our views of the great civilizations of the East, and considers that the irritable West may learn a lesson from their permanence. She is obviously qualified to speak in this connection, and we give some space to the quotation of her words:
"Past nations lived their life as their fate and choice determined, with no view certainly to the instruction of posterity; and hence the truth of history must be distorted if we study it exclusively with a view to the lessons to be learnt from it for our own profit. It is only after reading the history of Egypt or China as disinterested students, that we can trust ourselves to generalize as to the conditions of the stability and conservatism, which we began by recognizing as the common feature of the great primitive civilizations. Knowing better than Cicero how great nations may not only decline in fortune, but actually cease to exist, we cannot doubt that there must have been 'wisdom and breeding' in any people whose life has endured for two, three, or four thousand years. We have seen that the same kind of qualities enable tribes as well as nations to flourish unchangingly for ages, so it is clear that this longevity does not depend upon political organization. The widest generalization that our facts seem to warrant is that it depends upon the prevalence among the people of a temperament, which, when undisturbed by foreign elements, inspires a theoretical and practical adoption of the homely doctrine, 'Live and let live.'
"In the communities of the West, we weed out our social failures, we throw them—or let them sink—into what we call the residuum. Our social residuum lives and propagates its species in a medium as well prepared for the growth of anti-social vices as the hay tea or chicken broth in which amateurs of microbes cultivate their disease germs. But the man of science calls cultivation successful if the virus grows milder and less fatal in each generation. His media are sterilized by the most elaborate precautions; everything in which the germs of disease delight, not merely morbid matter, dirt, decay, but even healthy atoms of animal or vegetable substance, which, having been alive, are subject to decomposition, are to be excluded, saving just such a simple minimum as may serve to keep the microbe alive and multiplying. Small wonder that under this treatment it grows less virulent, it is tamed until it becomes a harmless inoculant, and might in time lose all its power to infect. But we, instead, plant the children of our social failures in a soil where their parents' vices and defects must become intensified, and where every kind of quality and propensity injurious to the individual and to society must develop. The children of drunkards, nurtured in the lowest depths of city squalor, have their hereditary craving for alcohol stimulated by chronic hunger, exhaustion, and foul air. . . . . We pay covetousness its wages in the same coin as skill, and we visit feebleness with the same industrial penalties as crime. . . . . We ridicule the idea of making occupation hereditary, yet we acquiesce in the propagation of classes in which one generation has nothing to bequeath to the next save bad health, bad habits, and general incapacity for wholesome and serviceable living.
"We acquiesce in all this not as morally right or practically expedient, but as the natural or necessary consequence of the free play of individual enterprise in the struggle for existence. And, so far the heterogeneous society of the West can be said to guide its conduct by any creed, it is probably inspired by a kind of faith in the healing power of freedom. There is no new thing under the sun, and English Liberalism agrees with Chinese Taoism: 'There is such a thing as letting mankind alone; there has never been such a thing as governing mankind.' Philosophical Anarchism is the logical outcome of the optimistic doctrine that the best possible world will be made by leaving every one at liberty to do the best he can for himself. . . .
"It is a foolish fatalism to assume that everything which occurs naturally must occur necessarily, or that nothing new can become natural. Every historical occurrence is at once natural and necessary, in the sense of being necessarily due to causes naturally operating on existing minds under existing conditions. But men act under the influence of felt desires, and the unforeseen results of their action are sometimes inconsistent with the ends intentionally aimed at; and this discovery itself is a natural motive for a change of action. The malign influence exercised in the middle of the present century, by the accepted doctrines of political economy, lay exactly in the encouragement they gave to the delusion that all natural tendencies were unalterable, even by experience revealing new evils consequent on their operation.
"We agree with Mencius that there is no difference between killing a man with a sword, and letting him die because we do not know how to regulate the struggle for existence ; and there is no general disposition to repudiate 'the everlasting obligations which are due by man to man.' The problem has reached the intellectual stage, and we need men of science to show how the felt obligations may be met almost more than moral teaching to rouse the sense of duty. . . . On the face of it, it does not appear to be a more complicated problem to apply the principles of righteousness to the ramifications of trade and industry than to apply the principles of pure mathematics to the construction of the Forth Bridge. All that is needed is that our moralists should acquaint themselves as fully and precisely with the facts of industry and commerce as our mathematicians do with the properties of matter. The processes of the operative, the manufacturer, the warehouseman, the carrier, the merchant, and the retailer must be put under the microscope, and every detail of them examined under the dry light of disinterested science, when much that is unfit to face the pencil of the recorders will at once shrink out of existence. . . . Human needs, human instincts, and human perceptions do not alter in their nature, and the dislocations of intricate social adjustments, which follow from the natural course of historic development, will not prove beyond the skill of social surgery to reduce, if the need is recognized for encyclopædic wisdom in the professors of the healing art.
"To combine progress and stability, it is necessary, not to prevent all change of status on the part of individuals, but to establish laws and customs which shall make it impossible for large classes to contract themselves into an intolerably painful or injurious status; or for individuals to enter into contracts, however personally advantageous, which will in effect tend to produce such a result for the other parties concerned. . . . And in an age which has accomplished such marvels in the way of self-adjusting machinery and compensating balances as the present, it should not be impossible to assign the limits within which individual liberty of action must be confined in order to secure to the individual himself the supreme good of dwelling in a community without victims.
"The course natural to the multitudes is to make things, to contract marriages of affection, to revere the wisdom of the wise, who succeed in interpreting those laws of heaven and earth which regulate the satisfaction of human instincts. And the pursuance of this course holds out, unless human nature has altered in 5000 years, the best prospect of social and economic welfare to the multitudes of the West, as well as to the ancient nations, versed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and the learning of the Chaldeans."
This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.
This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.