The history of achievement in the United States contains many of the characteristics of a Midsummer Night’s Dream. For the first time in the annals of nations, democracy has had full swing, and has said to a whole people, ‘Come now, let us see what you will do with this word Liberty.’
So the people have gone out into the woods, as it were, with no let or hindrance but their own passions and their own powers. Time-honored social and political standards have been abandoned. Whatever plans they possessed were indefinite and governed by circumstances. Consequently, to begin with, there have been many strange and unexpected results, the contemplation of which gave the world abroad much complacent amusement. In this way, for generations, the worn-out civilization of the past has continued to titter and to point the finger of derision at the fantastical struggles of the new order of things, and to reiterate the warning, ‘I told you so.’
In many directions there appear to be numerous glaring reasons for this attitude. For the story of the early struggles of this youthful democracy contains the strangest conglomeration of social happenings that has ever been witnessed on any human stage. These happenings were by no means forced or artificial, but absolutely human, and springing from the blood and the soil. Such a mixture of excellencies and crudities, of heroism and social escapades, had never before called itself a system of government, and kept on battling, in a seemingly haphazard way, for the existence and supremacy of a principle. Applied to a whole continent, to states with diverse and conflicting interests, to social and industrial problems all the way down to the regulation of individual conduct and the ideals of a community, the principle on trial was the idea that the freest self-government of the parts produces the strongest self-government of the whole. The comments of historians, philosophers, and travelers who have watched the development of this principle are all set to one key.
‘The sword of Damocles,’ they affirm, ‘hangs over you and your country. Your social and political conceptions are impossible of attainment. Every lesson and precedent of the past is against you. For one thing, the discomforts of life in your country are simply unbearable. Meanwhile, you have an entire continent to bring under subjection. You have roads to construct, forests to clear, rivers to span, churches and schools to build, politics to purify, and a continuous and countless stream of incoming foreigners to provide for and assimilate. Then again you have no leisure class, consequently as a people you have little refinement or delicacy. To crown all, your voices are harsh, your manners boorish, and your self-conceit absurd.’
The above is not a fanciful estimate of outside opinion. Well-nigh word for word for nearly one hundred years it has been the uniform tale of historians, travelers, and critics, who have made it their business to comment on the nature and prospects of American democracy. Democracy, however, accepted the situation, with all its inconsistencies and prophesied terrors. It had no excuses or explanations to make, no finely-drawn theories to submit to the public opinion of the world, no time, in fact, to bother about anything but the work in hand. It simply believed in the democratic ship; and this ship was an instinct, and not a plan. Monarchy and Socialism are plans. Democracy, on the other hand, is at bottom the science of growth, of well-regulated freedom, and of the making of men. In those early days, this planless democracy, with no scheme for the debasement and dethronement of the individual, received but scant sympathy from other nations. With the odds against her in this way, she narrowed the justification for her existence to one main issue. She simply said to the rest of the world, ‘Watch us grow.’
This growth has been phenomenal and all-embracing. From the beginning until to-day it has been the work of an enchanter, and this social wizard is the Democratic Institution. In the United States the democratic idea has now been in full swing for generations, and in every honest aspect and detail it has been in the main continuously successful. The wilderness has been reclaimed, railroads have been constructed, rivers have been spanned, cities have been tunneled, the seas are covered with ships, the people have been educated, and everywhere industry flourishes and expands.
This industrial expansion is now a game of millions and billions. During the past twenty-five years one hundred thousand miles of new railroads have been built, requiring an expenditure each year of not less than two hundred million dollars for labor and material. We are both producers and consumers. While our population is only a little over five per cent of the population of the world, we produce twenty per cent of the wheat, forty per cent of the iron and steel, fifty-five per cent of the copper, seventy per cent of the cotton, and eighty per cent of the corn of the world.
Furthermore, with inconceivable rapidity, machinery has taken the place of human toil, and incidentally millions of slaves have been set free. The same triumphant progress has unvaryingly characterized every phase of human endeavor on the American continent. Civil and religious liberty is a natural condition as well as an attitude of mind. The story of agriculture, of manufacturing, of mining, of the arts and sciences, demonstrates the unbroken progress and uplift of the whole people. Finally, the health and well-being of the toiling masses have become, with constantly increasing earnestness of endeavor, the individual and collective purpose of the nation. And above all, the democratic idea, through good and evil report, has encouraged the personal work and character of the individual citizen. It has always believed that competition which encourages merit and skill should remain paramount. It has always gloried in this personal competitive type as the ideal and preserver of democratic conditions.
This type is purely and simply the workingman. It includes the man at the forge, the man at the desk, the man in the study, and the man on the railroad. These workers are to be counted by the tens of thousands in every industry and in every field of endeavor. The big railroad worker, for example, is but a drop in the bucket; but let us hear what one of these modern Titans of industry has to say for himself: —
‘I believe every man who works is entitled to be classed as a workingman, and I am still working as I have worked in the different departments of rail-roading. My first railroad work was on a section; from there to the traffic and operating departments, until I reached my work of construction. Within the past twelve years I have planned and carried out the construction of more than five thousand miles of railroad. I am proud of this work. The railroads I have built are now employing thirty thousand men, and with these employees and their families, these railroads are now supporting over one hundred thousand souls. I wish I could continue to build roads in sections where they are needed, furnishing employment to deserving men, support of families and means of education for their children.’
In its own sphere there is ethical and economic grandeur in this American ideal of a workingman. In spite of faults and backslidings, all the best strains of the democratic instinct are stowed away as it were, in this intelligent and stalwart representative. Let no one imagine that he is simply a creation of the times, or an occasional product. He is rather the hammered-out result of at least two centuries of social and industrial battle. This ethical and economic frame of mind, this attitude of skill and capital toward society in general and the toilers in particular, is the result of the pounding of public opinion on the business and social conceptions of the community. This railroad workingman is the coming type of the captain of American industry. Pushed forward by his own abilities and by public opinion, he is now crowding to the front in every trade and calling. He is the justification of things as they are, and as they are unceasingly tending to become.
This glorious record of the achievement of democracy has its lesson for the present generation. Some time ago, in addressing the workingmen of Chicago, ex-President Roosevelt partially described the function and opportunity of the individual in American life in these words: —
‘We can build up the standard of individual citizenship and individual well-being and make it what it can and shall be, only by each one of us bearing in mind that there can be no substitute for the world-old, humdrum, commonplace qualities of truth, justice and courage, thrift, industry, common sense and genuine sympathy with others.’
He might have added that any social proposition or system of government that threatens in any way to interfere with the private ownership, control, and management of these faculties, threatens at the same time the whole fabric of democracy; and the quickest way to bring about this confusion of interests and ideals is by means of the public ownership and direction of the jobs, the homes, and the business of the people which depend upon the free play of these personal faculties for their inspiration and success. For it must be remembered that this is a country whose every chapter of growth, progress, and prosperity is an unbroken narrative of the individual effort of its citizens. The absolute negation, therefore, of the democratic idea of government and the achievement behind it, is contained, as it seems to the writer, in the doctrine of Socialism. This conclusion has been arrived at from a consideration of the subject from a definite and, as the writer thinks, from a neglected point of view, which must at once be focused and explained.
Briefly stated, then, most discussion concerning Socialism is based on a tacit acknowledgment that our individualist civilization is a failure. This assumption is based on ignorance and blindness. Facts and tendencies point the other way. All serous discussion should be based on the value of actual civilization, not on the relative merits of possible panaceas. Progressive, healthy, and persistent improvement are cogent reasons for faith in existing institutions, faith which should not be upset by any criticism of conditions, however distressing, especially when it can be shown that the trend of the very worst of these conditions is continuously upward.
But to be passively or theoretically conscious of the democratic idea in government is one thing; to be actively helpful and assertive of its merits is another. Just at present the public mind is so preoccupied with a multitude of material undertakings that it is becoming somewhat forgetful of the meaning and social value of its democratic heritage.
In the following pages the writer endeavors to illustrate these facts in relation to certain well-known theories of Socialism. It is a stock observation with many prominent Socialists that if an inhabitant from some other sphere should pay a visit to this planet of ours, he would be inexpressibly shocked at the unjust and ridiculous nature of our civilization. In the opinion of the writer, however, the surprise of a properly informed and intelligent visitor would be tuned to a totally different key. Bearing in mind the road traveled, the obstacles surmounted, the victories won, and then listening to an account of the widespread doubt and criticism with which the fundamentals of our civilization are now being assailed, he would be much more likely to express and opinion of the situation in the well-known words of King Lear, —
How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is
To have a thankless child!
This view of the matter points the way to a number of interesting details.
As we all know, in spite of the glorious past and present and the dazzling prospect on the horizon ahead of us, this is not the whole picture. It is not the consummation, but it is the way. We are still confessedly on the high seas of improvement and discovery. As one generation of newcomers is admitted to the national partnership and is successfully passed upward and onward, another works its way to the foot of the social ladder. In this way the body politic is being continually called upon to assimilate fresh supplies of human nature, for the most part in the raw. Consequently, society is at all times in a state of strenuous, yet healthy fermentation, resulting in a strange conglomeration of conflicting situations and conditions.
As the most sanguine among us are willing to admit, the picture is at times, and in many respects, ‘a spectacle shot strangely with pain, with mysterious insufficiencies and cruelties, with aspects unaccountably sad.’ It is a consequence, and a natural one, that from top to bottom of the social and industrial fabric, there is an ever-present unrest and a consciousness of injustice and of wrongs still to be righted. But these shadows do not darken the whole prospect, for the sense of justice is constantly growing. Democracy in America is bestowing much careful thought upon every phase of this perplexing situation. It is constantly making fresh and critical examination of its own standing and practices, and if it must, it is willing to attempt a radical reconstruction. It would gladly settle the problems of poverty, of intemperance, of wages, and of industrial conditions, by any feasible and reasonable plan, if such could only be devised without stunting the individual growth and genius of the people. In the settlement of justice between classes, and of nearly all other social problems—as it seems to the writer at all events—American democracy is frankly opportunist. It has no plan apart from the gigantic movement working out in various ways, from the inspiration of the individual toward the gradual uplift of society and the fairer adjustment of conditions.
From this point of view Socialism and its wholesale collective theories must be looked upon as a menace to American society. Socialism has taken for its text the ‘determining economic base,’ and its conclusions and anticipations are all derived from this axiom. In the words of one of the interpreters of this doctrine, ‘One strong trade union is worth more as a force in moral education in a given city, than all the settlements and people’s institutes combined.’ And it is seriously questioned by the same writer, ‘whether the scene has been brightened perceptibly by the efforts of all our social artists.’
The truth of this statement depends on how far you allow your perception to penetrate. Certainly as an estimate of social forces it is sadly deficient in vital truths. The prophets, philosophers and teachers who have blazed the way to the social and economic triumphs of the twentieth century cannot be dismissed with the queries, What have they said? or, What have they done? These ‘social artists’ may not have worked in cotton mills or been prominent in the circles of organized labor, but there are thousands upon thousands in every walk of life in this country, whose lives have been ‘perceptibly brightened’ by their influence and efforts. In reading the life of Alice Freeman Palmer, for example, one gets a vivid idea of this helping and brightening process.
Turning to the other side of the situation, however, one finds democracy giving the greater part of its allegiance to the determining ethical and educational base. Socialism is prepared to name the time and conditions when individuals and classes shall be harmonized and fairly contented. Given the material conditions, Socialism can figure, or thinks it can, on human conduct. The individualist, on the other hand, has no formula for social or industrial contentment.
Take the matter of work and wages. Neither the successful peddler nor the successful millionaire, nor the representative of any grades between them can throw one ray of light on the problem of permanent or satisfactory conditions other than in terms of dollars and cents. While we are watching them, the peddler may move up and the millionaire may move down, and mixed in the very fibre of their lives, together with every conceivable degree of happiness and achievement, there is now, and always must be, discontent.
The ‘determining economic base’ in human affairs appears to be still more fairylike as a harmonizer when we consider a well-appointed and well-conditioned labor organization at the present day. Take the cigar-makers, for example. At the present writing, in one or two cities, they are on strike for higher wages and better conditions. The conditions that obtain in the city of Boston in this industry, as advertised by the union, will give an idea of its general prosperity.
Number of factories: 165
Number of persons employed: 3,000
Amount of wages paid annually: $2,900,000
Amount paid in revenue annually: $400,000
Number of cigars made annually: 134,000,000
The standard based upon these conditions will last as long as the contract that binds it, not a minute longer. Five dollars a day for five hours’ work is said to be the next step, which before long will be up for consideration.
Or take the situation on the railroads. The country is kept in a continual state of anxiety in regard to the settlement of wages and conditions. And yet, neither Utopia nor Socialism in any form has any such picture of opportunity and prosperity as the railroads to-day are offering to employees, from the trainman at three dollars a day all the way up to the locomotive engineer at seven or eight dollars a day, with a positive guarantee in some cases of a comfortable salary whether they work or not.
Nor is the government ownership and direction of labor one whit more satisfactory than other methods. Economically speaking, it leaves little to be desired; but a tour of the government offices in Washington, where thousands of employees go to work at nine or ten o’clock in the morning and go home at two or three in the afternoon, has a discouraging if not a soporific effect on a visitor of ordinary energy.
However, democracy has all these different problems in hand, and they are being slowly, yet surely, worked out by the process of education and enlightenment. Meanwhile, to illustrate the vanity as well as the variety of the social paradox with the ‘determining economic base,’ let us take up a newspaper and read the following description of a town in Brittany where the ‘economic base’ is far from satisfactory.
‘Concarneau is not a prohibition town. There are drinking-booths at every step. I think there are about two “buvettes” to each three fishermen, but I have not yet seen a drunken man.
‘I admire all the inhabitants? The men are sturdy and honest, as good sailors always are, and it is a pleasure to see the women of all ages (all dressed alike) go “click-clacking” along the street, and gather in little crowds around the fountain or the fish market and gossip cheerfully. All are poor, but I believe that nearly all are happy and contented. They are deeply religious. I have the good fortune to strike one of their annual religious festivals (called “Pardons”), and wind and weather permitting, will go to-morrow to the Pardon of Fouesnant in honor of St. Anne.’
But the propositions and contentions of Socialism cannot be brushed aside with any mere collection of statistics. After all has been said, the fact remains that Socialism in various forms and degrees is now being discussed by thoughtful people in every civilized country. It is preeminently the great social, industrial, and religious problem of the century. What is termed justice, between the classes, is now the popular slogan on every platform and in nearly every pulpit. There is a certain fluidity and pliability in the mental temperament of the times, particularly in the United States, that promises well for the general outcome of this discussion. The distinguishing feature of this mental fluidity, however, is in many ways puzzling and unsatisfactory. It has been described as a state of moral earnestness, combined with unprecedented perplexity and uncertainty. In our social and industrial programmes, it is said, we have everything but decided views, everything but steadfast purpose, everything but character. In a certain way Socialism may be said to be an attempt to check this mental uncertainty and to solidify the vacillating yet earnest public opinion into some kind of scientific social rigidity.
Manifestly, in any consideration of Socialism, some idea of its brand and doctrine from the writer’s point of view must first be outlined. But unfortunately, the open-minded inquirer into the principles and aims of Socialism meets as many opinions as he has Socialist acquaintances. Among the more popular exponents of Socialism, there are, however, a few writers who speak with considerable authority on the subject, and whose presentations of principles and aims may be looked upon as fairly reliable and representative at the present day.
Some time ago the writer of this article was advised to read a volume entitled, New Worlds for Old, by Mr. H. G. Wells. ‘In this book,’ my friend said to me, ‘you will find a reasonable and fairly exhaustive presentation of Socialism, interpreted by a very capable and conscientious writer.’
Socialism, as viewed by Mr. Wells and stated substantially in his own words, I find to be the most hopeful thing in human affairs. It is a project for the reshaping of human society. In its nature this project is distinctly scientific. It aims to bring order out of casualty, beauty out of confusion, justice, kindness, and mercy out of cruelty and wrong. The present order of things is found fault with by this Socialist, from every conceivable point of attack. Our methods of manufacturing necessary things, of getting and distributing food, of begetting and raising children, and of permitting diseases to engender and spread, are chaotic and undisciplined.
The remedy for this state of affairs, in the opinion of the Socialist, is organized effort, and a plan in place of disorderly individual effort. This organized effort is to convert one public service after another ‘from a chaotic profit scramble of proprietors amidst a mass of sweated employees, into a secure and disciplined service, in which every man will work for honor, promotion, achievement, and the common weal.’ With these noble ends in view the State, that is to say, the organized power and intelligence of the community, is to be called upon to take action in the most practical manner. There are to be no more private land-owners, no private bankers and lenders of money, no private insurance adventurers, no private railway owners, no private mine owners, no oil kings, no silver kings and wheat forestallers, and so forth, and the ‘vast revenues that are now devoted to private ends will go steadily to feed, maintain, and educate a new and better generation, to promote research, to advance science, to build houses, develop fresh resources, and to plan, beautify, and reconstruct the world.’
In this way, after a thorough analysis of his subject-matter, the Socialist has formulated his plans for the reshaping of human society. At the very outset, however, he is compelled to confess, ‘Unless you can change men’s minds, you cannot effect Socialism.’ In order to bring about this psychological reformation, the collective mind of the world has first to be educated and inspired, and when you shall have made clear and instilled into the collective mind certain broad understandings, Socialism, in the words of Mr. Wells, becomes ‘a mere matter of science devices and applied intelligence.’
It is not now the intention of the writer to construct a formal argument against Socialism, or to analyze any of the economic features of this programme. It is presented with considerable detail, that we may be able so to grasp a certain ‘broad understanding’ which covers it all from beginning to end, as with a blanket. Briefly, the thing to be grasped is the assumption of failure and defeat so emphatically ascribed by Socialism to every feature of social and industrial progress in America. Beginning with the personal attitude of the individual and the conduct and standard of his domestic life, all the way up to the application of democratic principles in government, the whole system is characterized as hopelessly and miserably unfair and chaotic. In every conceivable way, socialism is held up as the last and beatific resort of a defeated civilization.
But luckily, as we have seen, the history of achievement in the United States admits of no such interpretation of social and industrial progress. Socialism, even as viewed by Mr. Wells, a very conservative interpreter, is building itself up on theories of crumbling ruins which do not exist, and its literature is padded with stories from the catacombs of human society.
But democracy, and its fruits, like any ordinary business undertaking, must be judged from the comparative point of view. Although betterment work in every conceivable direction is progressing by leaps and bounds, the average Socialist remains oblivious to the speed at which the world moves on.
A writer in a recent issue of the Quarterly Review describes this important phase of the situation as follows: ‘The theory of increasing misery, which is an essential part of the doctrine of Socialism, is faring very badly. It is still repeated in the programmes, but it is so glaringly contradicted by patent and uncontrovertible facts, that the great parliamentary champion, Herr Bebel himself, has abandoned it. The contention now is that the condition of the working classes gets worse relatively to the prevailing standard. But this also is contradicted by statistical data and general experience. Nothing in our time is more remarkable than the steady approximation of classes among the great mass of the population. The theory of increasing misery, and the dismal, unmanly whining of Socialism, are exceedingly repugnant to self-respecting workingmen. Mr. Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, has fiercely attacked the whole theory and has covered it with ridicule, on behalf of the American Trades Unions.’
But while faith and freedom in America will never succumb to Socialism, of late years there has, nevertheless, appeared around us an atmosphere of dissatisfaction and lack of faith in existing standards, which is having a marked, and in many ways a pernicious, influence on religion, education, industry, and politics. These topics cannot now be treated separately with the care which their importance merits, but the general principle which warrants the criticism can be clearly enunciated.
Briefly stated, the growing impression that in our social and industrial programmes we have everything but decided views, everything but steadfast purpose, everything but character, is the very natural outcome of the gospel of social failure, which is the head and front of the socialistic propaganda. But apart from all methods or principles of Socialism, this doctrine of failure has been the text of the great majority of political, social, and religious writers during the past ten years. The Socialist movement in America is kept on its feet by this outside public opinion and criticism of existing conditions.
This public opinion had a very healthy origin. Its aim was reform and the abolition of abuses in directions too numerous to mention. It has done good work, but it is now degenerating into a kind of morbid introspection which has little affinity with healthy progress. In a word, the mental trouble which this doctrine of failure is now engendering in society threatens to dwarf in importance every economic injustice which in the beginning it was its purpose to remedy. And it must be confessed that it is to the well-intentioned writers and educators in this country that we owe the development and persistence of this doctrine of social failure. Without this encouragement from the outside, Socialism, at any rate in its most radical features, would soon be absorbed in the everyday atmosphere of American democracy. As the case stands, however, the minds of the people are becoming more and more entangled in the meshes of this fault-finding propaganda, and in all the perplexities of the socialistic logic with which it is surrounded.
Meanwhile the social and religious everyday life of the people goes on apace, and everywhere achievement is giving the lie to its mischievous theoretical environment. The consequent mental bewilderment that has resulted from this conflicting situation must now be evident to the least thoughtful of men. The spiritual uncertainty of the boy and the girl is simply taking its cue from the spiritual uncertainty and indefiniteness of the parent, the minister, and the educator, in matters of teaching. In this way, the thought-life of the nation is moving in a direct line toward the annulment of ideas and principles which have always been looked upon as the bulwarks of democratic institutions. Happily, this movement is still in the mental stage, but the day is not far distant when this mental uncertainty and this gospel of fault-finding, with all its socialistic background, will bear fruit, and then we are likely to awake to the fact that the great problems of the future may not, after all, concern so much the clothing and feeding of the people as the wrecking of their minds.
It is, therefore, now time for the educators and prompters of the public conscience to study the ethics of appreciation, and the economic value to the community of a propaganda of thankfulness. But to study and recognize the history of achievement in this country, according to the merits of the case, would take from socialism the principal means whereby it lives. Unfortunately, now-a-days there is a noticeable lack of this hopeful, appreciative kind of literature. There are certainly figures enough and considerable glorification, but in all the libraries of books that have been published during the past ten years, one searches in vain for a single psalm of thanksgiving, such as those in which the Jewish nation has enshrined its traditions.
A word remains to be said with particular reference to the influence of this doctrine of Socialism, or the failure of democratic principles and methods, upon the rising generation. Being a false, or at any rate a grossly exaggerated, aspect of American life, it is peculiarly harmful to the young. To illustrate the nature and significance of this doctrine at the present day, I will quote the headlines form a single newspaper of recent date, as follows: —
THE PRESIDENT OF THE WOMAN’S CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE UNION RETURNS FROM ABROAD AND SAYS THAT AMERICA LACKS MORALS.
Again, at a conference on the moral and religious training of the young, held at Sagamore Beach, the founder of the Christian Endeavor Society is reported to have said: ‘My attention has been particularly called to this subject by some alarming but well-authenticated reports of flagrant immorality in our public schools, and by the well-known fact that in some of our colleges even, gross immorality, drunkenness, and lechery, are no bar to a degree if only examinations can be passed and percentages of scholarship are barely tolerable.’
Apart from its manifest exaggeration, this kind of educational advertising is something worse than a mistaken policy. With conditions in our colleges as they really are, the morality of the method itself is very questionable. In some circles the persistent flaunting of occasional failures follows hard upon the waning of the devil as a religious asset, and upon the whole, this doctrine of social failure is the more mischievous delusion of the two. It penetrates every nook and corner of social life. Even the American home must be subjected to this withering process. On the same date and in the same newspaper to which I have referred, a well-known minister and educator has the following to say about it: —
‘As a rule, teachers, public officials, and the public generally, discount the parental care of their own children. It is because of this fact that the extra-domiciliary agencies for child-training have arisen. Hence the Sunday school. Then, again, the public schools are assuming functions which belong to the home, and which, being delegated to an agency outside of the home, make for the disintegration of home-life. Others have been given over to the church which, likewise, is to-day doing scores of things which it has no proper business to be doing. In this way the church is also a disintegrating force in modern society.’
* * *
In fact, nothing escapes the hue and cry. Just what stimulation or uplift there is for the rising generation in all this fault-finding literature, it is impossible to imagine. In the midst of all this mental derangement, however, our boys and girls and our homes are continually working out the way to higher and better things.
A number of years ago, Mr. Herbert Spencer called attention to the paradox that, as civilization advances, as the health and comfort of the community increase, the louder become the exclamations about the inherent badness of things. Our attention was directed to the fact that in the days when the people were without any political power, when women bore all the burdens, when scarcely a man could be found who was not occasionally intoxicated, and when ability to read and write was practically limited to the upper classes, the subjection and discomfort of the people were rarely complained of.
This paradox mentioned by Herbert Spencer still holds good. Seemingly unaffected by reforms and improvements without number, or by the best material gains of the masses, there still continues to swell louder and still more loud the cry that the evils connected with our social and industrial systems are so great that ‘nothing short of a revolution can cure them.’
After all, this is not very much of a paradox; it is simply a tribute to the expanding sensibility of the public conscience. At the same time the situation points to misunderstanding and lack of harmony between the practical and the theoretical elements in human progress. For a number of years past the combination of these essential elements has been doing good work. It has been asserting itself in reforms and regulative movements. It has accomplished results gradually destructive of graft and of wrong-doing. But the mental element of the combination is now getting ahead of its job. It should be subjected to a steadying process at the hands of conservative and well-balanced people. Democracy is willing to experiment with various socialistic ideas, but her main purpose is, and must be, the perfection of individual character in social progress.
There are laws and regulations enough on the statute-books, and as a clear-sighted thinker has described the situation, ‘After a period of correction and chastisement, we should now apply ourselves to constructive work; and having got rid of so much that is bad, having thoroughly frightened the unrighteous, we should now seek our industrial and institutional structure.’
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