But if low motives are mixed with high ones in the mind of the champions of socialism, they certainly have never stopped assuring us that it is worse with their opponents. Marx himself declared passionately that greed was the deepest spring, that "the most violent and malignant passions of the human breast, the furies of private interest" are whipping men into the battle against socialism. However that may be, the discussions in the clubroom and in the political hall perhaps oftener suggest a less malignant motive, a persistent carelessness, which keep the friends of the capitalistic order from making the effort really to find out at what the socialists are aiming. The largest part of the private and public accusations of socialism starts from the conviction that socialism means that all men must have equal property, and in consideration of the fact that no real socialist demands that, and that the socialists have always insisted that this is not their intention, there indeed seems to be some psychology necessary to understand why the antisocialists do not take the trouble to find out first what socialism is.
But here we are not engaged in the mental analysis of those who fight about socialism. We want rather to ask whether the human minds are rightly understood by those who tell us that socialism is, or is not, the solution of our social problems. And if we turn to this fundamental question whether socialism ought to become the form of our society, the chief thing will be to avoid a mistake in the discussion which pervades the largest part of our present-day literature. The problem is no longer, as it was in the childhood days of socialistic debate, whether the historical necessities must bring socialism. We know that socialism will come, if we like it, and that we can avoid it, if we hate it, and that everything therefore depends upon the decision of the community whether it wants to work for or against the great economic revolution. It is thus not a question of facts, but of preferences, of judgments, of ideals. We do not simply have to exchange wise words as to that which will come anyhow, but we have to make up our mind whether it appears to us desirable or not desirable, and that means, whether it is in harmony with our purpose or not.
But this forces on us as the very first inquiry: what is the purpose of our social economic system to be? Just here the mistake comes into the debates. We hear eloquent orations about the merits or demerits of socialism, without any effort being made to define clearly for what end it is useful or useless. It is meaningless to claim that socialism is good, if we do not know for what it is good, and the whole flippancy of the discussion too often becomes apparent when we stop and inquire what purposes the speaker wants to see fulfilled. We find a wobbling between two very different possible human purposes, with the convenient scheme of exchanging the one for the other, when the defender gets into a tight place. These two great purposes are economic development and human happiness. With the gesture of high cultural inspiration the new scheme is praised to us as a way toward a greater economic achievement by mankind, a fuller development of human economic life. But as soon as doubts are cast on the value of the scheme for this noble purpose, the argument slips into the other groove and shows us that socialism is wonderful for removing human misery and bringing sweet happiness to numberless men, women, and children. According to the same scheme, of course, when we do not feel convinced that socialism will be the remedy for unhappiness, the scene is changed again, and we hear that it will be splendid for economic progress.
No one would claim that the two ends have nothing to do with each other. We might define the progress of economic life in such a way that the increase of human happiness belongs within its compass. Or we might show that widespread human happiness would be an advantageous condition for the development of economic civilization. But in any case the two are not the same, and even their intimate relation may appear artificial. To discuss the value of a new scheme without perfectly clearing up and sharply discriminating the possible ends for which it may be valuable, can never be helpful toward the fundamental solution of a problem. Nobody doubts that human progress is a worthy aim, and no one denies that human happiness is a beautiful goal. Hence we may evade the philosophical duty of proving through reasons that they are justified ends. We take them for granted, and we only insist that the one is not the other, and that it is utterly in vain to measure the value of socialism with reference to these two ideals, as long as we do not cleanly discriminate for which of the two socialism can be valuable. In itself it may very well be that it is splendid for human progress, but unfit for promoting human happiness, or that it is powerless for the development of mankind, but most successful for the increase of human joy.
Hence we ask at first only: how does the old or the new system serve the progress of mankind? What this human progress means is clearly interpreted by the history of five thousand years of civilization. It is the history of the growing differentiation of human demands and fulfilments. Every new stage in the culture of mankind developed new desires and new longings from nature and from society, but it also brought with it new means of satisfying the longings and fulfilling the desires. The two belong most intimately together. The new means of fulfilment stimulate new desires of intellect and emotion and will, and the new desires lead to further means of their satisfaction. Thus there is an incessant automatic enrichment, an endless differentiation, a thousand new needs on the height of civilization where the primitive race found a few elementary demands, and a thousand new schemes of material technique and of social, institutional life where the lower culture found all it needed with simple devices. It is an unfolding not dissimilar to that which the plants and the animals have shown in their organic life in the long periods of natural evolution. The development from the infusors to the monkeys was such a steady increase in the manifoldness of functions. The butterfly is as well adjusted to its life conditions and as well off as the fish, and the fish as well off as the elephant, and in the evolution of economic civilization as in that of the kingdom of animals the advance does not involve an increase of joy. Pain results from a lack of adjustment, but not from a scarcity of functions. Hence if we strive for progress alone, we are moved not by the hope for greater joy, but by an enthusiastic belief in the value of progress and development itself. Does a socialistic order secure a more forceful, a more spontaneous, a more many-sided, or even a more harmonious growing of new demands and of new means for fulfilment than the capitalistic system which holds us all to-day?
The psychologist certainly has no right to ask to be heard first, when this strictly economic aspect of the great social problem is emphasized. Industrial specialists, administrators of labour, politicians, and financiers stand nearest to the issue. But whatever they testify, they ultimately have to point to mental facts, and the psychologist is naturally anxious to emphasize them. He has nothing new to contribute. It is the old story of the stimulating influence of the spirit of competition. Healthy progress demands unusual exertion. All psychological conditions for that maximum strain are unfavourable in a socialistic state with its acknowledged need of rigid regulation and bureaucracy. We see all around us the flabby routine work, stale and uninspiring, wherever sharp rivalry has no chance. It is the great opportunity for mediocrity, while the unusual talent is made ineffective and wasted. Our present civilization shows that in every country really decisive achievement is found only in those fields which draw the strongest minds, and that they are drawn only where the greatest premiums are tempting them. To-day even the monopolist stands in the midst of such competition, as he can never monopolize the money of the land. This spur which the leaders feel is an incessant stimulus for all those whom they control, and, as soon as that tension is released at the highest point, a perfunctory performance with all its well-known side features, the waste and the idleness, the lack of originality and the unwillingness to take risks, must set in and deaden the work.
Nature runs gigantic risks all the time, and throws millions of blossoms away so as to have its harvest of fruit, and at the same time nature shows the strictest economy and most perfect adjustment to ends in the single blossom which comes to fruit. Just this doubleness is needed in the progressive economic life. The rampant luxuriousness which is willing to throw away large means for a trial and for a fancy which may lead to nothing, and yet a scrupulous economy which reaches its ends with the smallest possible waste, must blend. But as long as man's mind is not greatly changed, both will be the natural tendency of the capitalist, and both are abhorred by the governmental worker. He has no right to run risks, but does not feel it his duty to avoid an unproductive luxuriousness. He wastes in the routine where he ought to economize, and is pedantic in the great schemes in which his imagination ought to be unbridled. The opponents of socialism have often likened the future state to a gigantic prison, where every one will be forced to do the work without a chance for a motive which appeals to him as an individual. This is in one respect unfair, as the socialists want to abolish private capital, but do not want to equalize the premiums for work. Yet is their method not introducing inequality up to the point where it has many of the bad features of our present system, and abolishing it just at the point where it would be stimulating and fertilizing to commerce and industry? We are to allow great differences of personal possession. Even to-day the large companies count with hundred-thousand-dollar salaries, and there is nothing in the socialistic principle which would counteract this tendency. The differences may even grow, if the economic callings are to attract the great talents at all in such a future state. But just the one decisive value of the possessions for the development of industry and commerce—namely, the transforming of the material gain into the capital which produces and works, would become impossible. The national achievement would be dragged down. All the dangers which threaten bureaucratic industrialism everywhere—political party influences with their capricious zigzag courses, favouritism, protection and graft, waste and indifference, small men with inflated importance in great positions, and great men with crushed wings in narrow places—all would naturally increase, and weaken the nation in the rivalry of the world.
While such paralyzing influences were working from above, the changes from below would interfere no less with vigorous achievement. Every gateway would be wide open. Socialism would mean a policy opposite to that of the trade unions to-day. They are energetically excluding the unfit. Under the new order the fine day for the unfit would have dawned. At present the socialists feel at home in the system of the unions, because the firm organization of the workingmen through the unions is helpful for their cause. But if that cause wins, the barriers of every union must break down, and the industrial energies of the nation will be scattered in the unimportant work in order to give an equal chance to the unproductive.
Nobody doubts that socialism would overcome some of the obvious weaknesses of the capitalistic era, and those weaknesses may be acknowledged even if we are faithful to our plan and abstract from mere human happiness. If only the objective achievement is our aim, we cannot deny that the millionfold misery from sickness and old age, from accidents at work, and from unemployment through a crisis in trade, from starvation wages, and from losses through fraudulent undertakings, is keeping us from the goal. But has the groaning of this misery remained unheard in these times, when capitalism has been reaching its height? The last two decades have shown that the system of private ownership can be in deepest harmony with all those efforts to alleviate its cruelties in order to strengthen the efficiency of the nation at work. Certainly the socialists themselves deserve credit for much in the great international movement toward the material security of the workingman's social life. It is doubtful whether without her social democrats, Germany, the pioneer in the social insurance movement, would have given to the army of workingmen those protective laws which became the model for England and other nations, and which are beginning to be influential in American thinking, too. The laws against child labour, the efforts for minimum wage rates, and, most important, the worldwide tendency to secure a firm supervision and regulation of the private companies by the state, are characteristic features of the new period in which capitalism triumphs, and yet is freeing itself from cancerous growths which destroy its power for fullest achievement.
To work nine hours instead of ten, and eight instead of nine, was only apparently an encroachment on the industrial work. The worldwide experiment has proved that the shorter working hours allow an intensity of strain and an improvement of the workmen which ultimately heighten the value of the output. The safety devices burdened the manufacturer with expenses, and yet the economist knows that no outlay is more serviceable for the achievement of the factory. Unionism and arbitration treaties are sincere and momentous efforts to help the whole industrial nation. And all this may be only the beginning. The time may really come when every healthy man will serve his year in the industrial army. Man and woman and child may thus be more and more protected against the destructive abuses of our economic scheme. Their physical health and their mental energy may be kept in better and better working order by social reforms, by state measures and strong organization. The fear of the future, that greatest destroyer of the labourer's working mood, may be more and more eliminated. Extremely much still remains to be done, but the best of it can surely be done without giving up the idea of private capital. In the framework of the capitalistic order such reforms mean a national scientific management in the interest of efficiency and success. If that framework is destroyed, the vigour and the energy are lost, and no improvements in the detail can patch up the ruinous weakness in the foundation. If the goal is an increased achievement of the industrialized nation, socialism is bound to be a failure as long as human minds and their motives are what they are to-day and what they have been through the last five thousand years.
No doubt such arguments have little weight with the larger number of those who come to the defence of socialism. The purpose, they would say, is not at all to squeeze more work out of the nerves and muscles of the labourer, to fill still more the pocket of the corporations, to produce still more of the infernal noise in the workshops of the world. The real aim has nothing to do with the output and the muscle, but with the joy and happiness of the industrial workers, who have become slaves in the capitalistic era. It is quite true that if this is the end, the arguments which speak against the efficiency of socialism might well be disregarded. The mixing of the reasons can bring only confusion, and such chaos is unavoidable indeed, as long as the aims are not clearly discriminated. We may acknowledge frankly that the socialistic order may be a hindrance to highest efficiency, and yet should be welcomed because it would abolish the sources of unhappiness. Yet is there really any hope for such a paradise? The problem of achievement may stand nearer to the economist, but that of happiness and misery is thoroughly a question of the mind, and it is the duty of the psychologist to take a stand.
His issues, however, ought not to be confused by mixing in a side problem which is always emphasized when the emotional appeal is made and the misery of the workmen's fate is shown up. There is no unhappier lot than that of those healthy men who can work and want to work, and do not find a chance to work. But this tremendous problem of the unemployed is not organically connected with the struggle about socialism. As far as social organization and human foresight can ever be able to overcome this disease of the industrial body, the remedies can just as well be applied in the midst of full-fledged capitalism. It is quite true that the misfortune of unemployment may never be completely uprooted, but vast improvements can easily be conceived without any economic revolution; and, above all, no scheme has been proposed by the socialists which would offer more. As long as there is a market with its ups and downs, as long as harvests vary and social depressions occur, there will be those who have no chance for their usual useful activity. If the community of the socialistic state supports them, it will do no more than the capitalistic state will surely do very soon, too. If we want to see clean issues, we ought to rule out the problem of unemployment entirely.
The socialistic hope can be only that, through the abolition of capital, the average workman will get a richer share from the fruits of his industrial labour. In the programmes of the American socialists it has taken the neat round figure that every workingman ought to live on the standard of five thousand dollars yearly income. Of course the five thousand dollars themselves are not an end, but only a means to it. The end is happiness, and here alone begins the psychologist's interest. He does not discuss whether the five-thousand-dollar standard as minimum wage can really be expected. He asks himself only whether the goal can be reached, whether such a socialistic society would really secure a larger amount of human happiness. It is here that he answers that this claim is a psychological illusion. If we seek socialism for its external achievement we must recognize that it is a failure; if we seek it for its internal result, joy and happiness, it must be worse than a failure. The psychology of feeling is still the least developed part of our modern science of consciousness, but certain chief facts are acknowledged on all sides, and in their centre stands the law of the relativity of feeling. Satisfaction and dissatisfaction, content and discontent, happiness and unhappiness, do not depend upon absolute, but upon relative, conditions. We have no reason whatever to fancy that mankind served by the wonderful technique twenty centuries after Christ is happier than men were under the primitive conditions of twenty centuries before Christ. The level has changed and has steadily been raised, but the feelings are dependent, not upon the height of the level, but upon the deviations from it. Each level brings its own demands in the human heart; and if they are fulfilled, there is happiness; and if they are not fulfilled, there is discontent. But the demands of which we know nothing do not make us miserable if they remain unfulfilled. It is the change, and not the possession, which has the emotional value. The up and down, the forward and backward, are felt in the social world, just as in the world of space the steady movement is not felt, but only the retardation or the acceleration.
The psychologist knows the interesting psychophysical law according to which the differences in the strength of our impressions are perceived as equal, not when the differences of the stimuli are really equal, but when the stimuli stand in the same relation. If we hear three voices, the sound has a certain intensity; if a fourth voice is added, the strength of the sound is swelling; we notice a difference. But if there is a chorus of thirty voices and one voice is added, we do not hear a difference at all. Even if five voices are added we do not notice it. Ten new singers must be brought in for us to hear the sound as really stronger. And if we have a mighty chorus of three hundred singers, not even twenty or fifty or even eighty voices would help us to feel a difference; we need a hundred additional ones. In other words, the hundred singers which come to help the three hundred do not make more impression on us than the ten which are added to the thirty, or the one added to the three. Exactly this holds true for all our perceptions, for light and taste and touch. The differences upon which our pleasures and displeasures hang, obey this same law of consciousness. If we have three pennies, one added gives us a pleasure, one taken away gives us a displeasure, which is entirely different from the pleasure or displeasure if one penny is added or taken away from thirty or from three hundred pennies. In the possession of thirty, it needs a loss or gain of ten, in the possession of three hundred the addition or subtraction of a hundred, to bring us the same emotional excitement. A hundred dollars added to an income of five hundred gives us just as much joy as ten thousand added to fifty thousand dollars. The objective gain or loss does not mean anything; the relative increase or decrease decides human happiness.
Do we not see it everywhere in our surroundings? If we lean over the railing and watch the steerage in the crowded ship, is there really less gayety among the fourth-class passengers than among the first-class? Where are the gifts of life which bring happiness to every one? I have friends to whom a cigar, a cocktail, and a game of cards are delightful sources of pleasure, the missing of which would mean to them a real deprivation. I have never played cards, I have never touched a cocktail, and have never had a cigar between my lips; and yet I have never missed them. On the other hand, I feel extremely uncomfortable if a day passes in which I have not gone through three or four newspapers, while I have friends who are most happy if they do not have a printed sheet in hand for months. The socialists claim that the possession of one's own house ought to be the minimum external standard, and yet the number increases of those who are not happy until they are rid of their own house and can live in a little apartment. Of course it might be said that the individual desires vary from man to man, but that an ample income allows every one to satisfy his particular likes and to protect himself against his particular dislikes. But the situation is not changed if we see it under this more general aspect of the money as means for the satisfaction of all possible wishes. The psychological law of the relativity of consciousness negates no less this general claim. There is no limit to the quantity of desires. On the level of expensive life the desires become excessive, and only excessive means can satisfy them; on a lower economic level, the desires are modest, but modest means are therefore able to give complete satisfaction and happiness.
The greatest dissatisfaction, hopeless despair, expresses itself in suicide. Statistics show that those who sink to this lowest degree of life satisfaction are not the poorest. Not seldom they are the millionaires who have lost their fortune and kept only enough for a living which would still be a source of happiness to hosts of others. If the average wage were five thousand dollars, or, better said, the comfort which five thousand dollars can buy to-day, this standard would be taken as a matter of course like fresh air and fresh water. The same old dissatisfactions and discomforts would spring from the human heart, when it looked with envy on the luxuries of the ten-thousand-dollar men, or when by recklessness and foolishness or illness the habitual home life became suddenly reduced to a pitiable three-thousand-dollar standard, which would be the goal for the workingmen of to-day. We are too little aware that the average existence of the masses in earlier centuries was on a much narrower scale than the life of practically the poorest to-day, and that the mere material existence of those who to-day consider themselves as industrial slaves is in many respects high above that of the apprentices in the periods before the machine age. Even at present those who think that they are at the bottom of material life in one country often live much better than the multitudes in other lands in which fewer desires have been aroused and developed.
The individual may often alternate between different standards, just as any one of us when he goes out camping may feel perfectly happy with the most moderate external conditions, which would appear to him utter deprivation in the midst of his stylish life the year around. Many an Irish servant girl feels that she cannot live here without her own bathroom, and yet is perfectly satisfied when she goes home for the summer and lives with seven in a room, not counting the pigs. This dependence upon relative conditions must be the more complete the more the income is used for external satisfactions. As far as the means serve education and aesthetic enjoyment and inner culture, there remains at least a certain parallelism between the amount of supply and the enjoyment. But the average American of the five-thousand-dollar class spends four thousand nine hundred dollars on goods of a different order. Altogether his expenses are the house and the table, the clothes of the women, and his runabout. In all these lines there is no limit, and the house of to-day is no longer a pleasure if his neighbour builds a bigger one to-morrow. The man with the fifty-thousand-dollar expenditures feels the same dissatisfaction if he cannot have the steam yacht and the picture gallery which the multimillionaire enjoys.
The inner attitude, the temperament, the training, the adjustment of desires to the available means, is the only decisive factor in such situations. The trust magnate and the factory foreman have equal chances to feel happiness in the standard of life in which they live. If they compare themselves with those who are richer, and if their hearts hang on the external satisfactions, they both may feel wretched; and yet with another turn of mind they both may be content. Optimism and pessimism, contentment and envy, self-dependence and dependence upon the judgment of the world, joyfulness and despondency, are more decisive contrasts for the budget of happiness than the difference between fifteen dollars a week and fifteen dollars a minute. Some of my best friends have to live from hand to mouth, and some are multimillionaires. I have found them on the whole equally happy and equally satisfied with their position in life. If there was a difference at all, I discovered that those who ate from silver plates were sometimes complaining about the materialism of our time, in which so much value is put on money. I have never found their fate especially enviable, nor that of the others especially pitiable, and evidently they themselves have no such feelings. The general impression is much more as if actors play on the stage. The one gives the role of the king in purple cloak and ermine, the other plays the part of a beggar in ragged clothes. But the one role is not more interesting than the other, and everything depends upon the art of playing the character.
This whole scramble for money's worth is based on a psychological illusion, not only because pleasure and displeasure are dependent upon relative conditions, but also because the elimination of one source of feeling intensifies the feelings from other sources. The vulgar display of wealth which cheapens our life so much, the desire to seek social distinction by a scale of expenditure which in itself gives no joy, have in our time accentuated the longing for wealth out of all proportion. This is true of every layer of society. The clerk's wife spends for her frocks just as absurdly large a part of his income as the banker's wife. Every salesgirl must have a plume on her hat rather than a nourishing luncheon. Others must have six motor cars instead of a decent library in their palace. But this longing for useless display is still outdone by the hysterical craving for amusement. The factory girl must have her movies every night, and besides the nine hundred kino shows, a hundred and twenty theatres are needed to satisfy the amusement seeking crowd of New York, in addition to the half dozen which offer art. This mad race to outdo one another and this hunting after pleasures which tickle the senses have benumbed the social mind and have inhibited in it the feeling for deeper values. But if by a magic word extreme equality of material means were created and the mere sensuous enjoyments evenly distributed, in that moment all the other differences from individual to individual would be felt with heightened sharpness, and would be causes for much stronger feelings of happiness and unhappiness.
Men differ in their inborn mental powers, in their intelligence and talent, in beauty, in health, in honours and career, in family and friends. The contrasts which are created in every one of these respects are far greater and for the ill-fated far more cruel than those of the tax-payers. The beautiful face which is a passport through life and the discouraging homeliness, the perfect body which allows vigorous work and the weak organism of the invalid unfit for the struggle of life, the genius in science or art or statesmanship and the hopelessly trivial mind, the youth in a harmonious, beautiful family life and the childhood in an atmosphere of discord, the home full of love from wife and children and the house childless and chilly, the honours of the community and the disappointment of social bankruptcy—they are the great premiums and the great punishments, which are whirled by fate into the crowd of mankind. Even here most of it is relative. We rejoice in four-score years, but if we knew that others were allowed a thousand years of life, we should be despondent that hardly a short century is dealt out to us. We are happy in the respect of our social community simply because we do not desire the honours of the czar or of the mikado. But if we began to measure our fate by that of others, how could we ever be satisfied? Women might envy men and men might envy women, the poet might wish to be the champion of sport and the sportsman might be unhappy because he is not a poet. No one of us can have the knowledge and the technical powers which the child of the thirtieth century will enjoy. As soon as we begin to compare and do not find the centre of our life in ourselves, we are condemned.
Everybody's life is composed of joys and pains which may come from any of these sources. Where beauty is lacking, wit may brilliantly shine; where health is failing, a talent may console; where the family life is unhappy, the ambitions for a career may be fulfilled. Much inequality will thus result, but the chances for a certain evenness of human joy and sorrow will be the greater the more numerous the sources from which the joys and griefs of our days are springing. Add the inequalities of wealth, and you increase the chances that the emotional values in the lives of all of us will become more equal. The ugly girl may be rich and the poor one may be beautiful, the genius may hunger and the stupid man may marry the widow with millions, the healthy man may have to earn his scanty living and the patient may enjoy the luxuries of life. Their states of feeling will be more alike than if a socialistic order had put them all on the same economic level of philistine comfort. The joys of capital are after all much less deeply felt than any of those others, and the sufferings from poverty are much less incisive than those from disappointed ambition, from jealousy, from illness, or from bereavement. It is well known that many more people die from overfeeding than from underfeeding. We may feel disgusted that the luxuries so often fall to the unworthy and that the finest people have to endure the hardship of narrow means. But all those other gifts and deprivations, those talents and beauties and powers and family relations, are no less arbitrarily dealt out. We all may wish to be geniuses or radiant beauties, great singers or fathers of a dozen children; we have not chosen our more modest lot.
It might be answered that the poverty of the industrial masses to-day means not only the absence of the special comforts, but that it means positive suffering. Men are starving from want and are chained down like slaves to a torturing task. But let us discriminate. It is true in states of unemployment and illness the physical man may be crushed by naked poverty, but that has nothing whatever to do with socialism. We have emphasized before that it is the solemn duty of society to find ways and means to protect every one who is willing to work as long as he is healthy, against starvation in times of old age and sickness, and if possible in periods of market depression. The non-socialistic community has the power to take care of that, and it is entirely an illusory belief that socialism has in that respect any advantage. All the comparisons of the two economic orders ought to refer only to the variations rather high above the starvation line, even though the American must call starvation a standard which the coolie may think tolerable and to which the European poor in the Middle Ages were often accustomed. On the other hand, neither capitalism nor socialism can protect the reckless and the wasteful against economic suicide.
Much more important is the problem of suffering through the character of the work itself. That is the real fountainhead of the socialistic flood which threatens to inundate our present-day social structures. But is there not even here a psychological misunderstanding involved? It may be granted that many a man and many a woman stand in the factory day after day and year after year with the one feeling of distress and wretchedness at the hard work to which they are forced. But is their work really responsible for it, and is it not rather their personal attitude? Who is doing harder physical work than the sportsman? There is no more exhausting muscle strain than the climb over the glaciers of the Alps, which thousands pursue with passion. Analyze the profession of the physician. How many of his functions are in themselves of such a character that they might be denounced as the most humiliating slavery, if they were demanded from any man who could not see the aim and higher interest which they are serving! This is exactly the point where the leaders of labour are sinning unpardonably. They work with all the means of suggestion, until the workman, as if hypnotized, looks on the mere movements which he is to perform in the factory, and forgets entirely the higher interest and aim of civilization which he is helping to serve. The scholar in his laboratory has to do a thousand things which in themselves are ugly and dirty, tiresome and dangerous, uninteresting and exhausting, but which he is performing with enthusiasm because he knows that he is serving the great ideal of cultured life, to discover the truth and thus to help the progress of mankind. There is under no factory roof a workman so forlorn that the work of his hands is not aiding the fulfilment of an equally great and equally ideal purpose of civilized mankind, the development of economic civilization. As soon as his labour amidst the noise of the machines is felt as such a service to an ideal cultural purpose, the work is no longer dead, but living, interesting, significant, wonderful.
The mother who takes care of her little children has to go through a thousand tiresome actions which would be intolerable if they were meaningless, but which compose a beautiful life if they are held together by the aim which the motherly love sees before it. Whatever work a human being may perform, force on his mind the treacherous suggestion that it is meaningless, that it is slavery, that others seize the profit, and he must hate it and feel it an unbearable hardship. It has often been observed that the most bitter complaints have always come from those workers who are reached by the suggestions of theories and not from those who simply face practice, even though their life may be a much harder one. In Russia the workingmen of the city found their life so intolerable that revolts broke out, while the rural classes were satisfied with conditions of much more cruel deprivation. Our social reformers too easily forget the one great teaching of the history of mankind, that the most powerful factor in the world is the ideas. Surely there is some truth even in that one-sided picture of the history of civilization which makes everything dependent upon economic conditions, but the element of truth which is contained therein is due to the fact that economic conditions may influence the ideas. The ideas are the really decisive agencies. Only for ideas have men been ready to die, and for ideas have they killed one another. Give to the world the idea that earthly goods are useless and heavenly goods alone valuable, and in this kingdom of the religious idea the beggarly rags of the monk are more desired than the gold of the mighty. Religion and patriotism, honour and loyalty, ambition and love, reform ideals and political goals, aesthetic, intellectual, and moral ideas have turned the great wheel of history. Give to the workingman the right kind of ideas, the right attitude toward his work, and all the hardship becomes blessedness and the suffering glory. His best payment then will be the satisfaction of carrying his stone to the great temple of human progress, even though it may not be a cornerstone.
Even the complaint repeated without end that the workingman's task is unendurable because of its unceasing monotony is ultimately nothing but a psychological theory, and this theory is superficial and misleading. It is easy to point out to the suggestible mind that there is a wonderful enrichment of life in variety, and that uniformity must therefore be something ugly and discouraging and unworthy. But the real mental facts allow just as well the opposite argument. The mere change and variation, going from one thing to another, makes the mind restless and distracted, without inner unity and harmony. To be loyal to one task and to continue it faithfully and insistently, brings that perfect adjustment of the mind in which every new act is welcome because it has become the habit ingrained in the personality. To be sure there are individual differences. We have in political life, too, radicals who get more satisfaction from change, and conservatives who prefer continuity of traditions; and so the whole mental structure of some men is better adjusted to a frequent variation in work, and that of others better prepared for continuity. The one has a temperament which may lead him from one occupation to another, from one town to another, from one flat to another, from one set of companions to another. But there is the opposite type of minds. To them it is far more welcome to continue throughout life at the same work, in the same old home, in touch with the same dear friends. Many minds surely are better fitted for alternation in their activities, but many others, and they certainly are not the worst, are naturally much better adapted to a regular repetition. There are opportunities for both types of mental behaviour in the workshop of the nation, and the peaceful adjustment is disturbed only by the hasty theory that repetition is a lower class of work, which makes man a mere machine and that it is therefore to be despised. Change the theory about uniformity, and you remove monotony from the industrial world. Monotony is only the uniformity which is hated.
Do we not see that power of theories and ideas everywhere around us, even in the most trivial things? The most splendid gown is nothing but an object of contempt if it is the fashion of the day before yesterday. In lands where titles and decorations are a traditional idea, the little piece of tin may be more coveted than any treasures of wealth. Through ideas only can the great social question be solved. No distribution of income can change in the least the total sum of pleasure and displeasure in the world, and the socialistic scheme is of all the useless efforts to increase pleasure and to decrease displeasure the least desirable, because it works, as we have seen, at the same time against those mental functions which secure the most forceful progress of economic life. A true change can come only from within. The superficial, unpsychological theories of human happiness, which have been hammered into the working population of our age, have made true happiness more and more difficult to attain. There is small chance that this inner conversion will come in our day through religion, however much religion may help toward it. There is still smaller chance that philosophy can do it and that the average man will take the attitude of Antisthenes who claimed that it is divine not to need anything and that he who needs least is nearest to the ideal. But there is every chance that mankind will remember again more vividly the deeper lasting values of humanity. Society must be sobered after the frenzy of this present-day rush for external goods. The shallow disappointment is felt too widely already. The world is beginning to discover once more that this scramble for pearls and palaces and motor cars among the rich, and for their showy imitations among the middle class, and the envy of material profits and the chase for amusements even among the poorest, leave life meaningless and cold and silly. As soon as the industrial community turns to a new set of ideas and becomes inspired by the belief in the ideal value of the work as work and as a necessary contribution to the progress of mankind, the social question will be solved, as all the differences which socialism wants to eliminate then appear trivial and insignificant.
But on the other hand, this belief cannot grow, and cannot spread its roots deep in the soil of the industrial mind unless, as a necessary counterpart, the ideas of duties and obligations spread and enlarge among those who profit from the rights of capital. The capitalistic society must organize itself so that the sinking below the starvation line through illness, old age, or unemployment will be reduced to a minimum, so that the greatest possible participation in all which gives higher value to life will be secured for the worker and his family, and above all, so that the industrial control will be exerted by the best and the wisest. Nowhere is reform of ideals more needed. The brutality of capital is never felt more strongly than when the workingman suspects that those at the top are not selected on account of their stronger capacities. Only when capital is conscious of its duties can the belief in the ideal meaning of the workingman's function take hold of the masses and inhibit the suggestion of socialism. Merely granting the external claims, giving to the factory girls increasing chance for amusement, means to deceive them. The more such longings are satisfied, the more they must grow and become a craze which sharpens the feeling of dissatisfaction. This desire for superficial joys, for sensual amusements and cheap display is nothing but a suggested habit, which imitation creates in a period of waste. If a time of simplicity were to come, not only the longing for these prizes would become silent, but the prizes themselves would appear worthless. Liberate the workingman from his distrust of the present social order; let him feel deeply that his duties are not enforced slavery but a solemn offering to human progress, which he gives in glad cooeperation in the spirit of ideal belief. At the same time stop the overestimation of the outer enjoyments, and cultivate the appreciation of the lasting values, and our time of unrest will come to inner harmony. But do not believe that this can ever be done, if those who are called to be the leaders of the social group are not models and do not by their own lives give the cue for this new attitude and new valuation. As long as they outdo one another in the wild chase of frivolity and seek in the industrial work of the nation only a stronghold for their rights and not a fountain spring of duties, as long as they want to enjoy instead of to believe, this inner change can never come in the community. The psychologist can do nothing but to predict that no other scheme, no outer reform, no new plan of distribution, can bring a real change, as every calculation which works with outer means to secure happiness must remain a psychological illusion. The change from within is the only promise and the only hope.
THE INTELLECTUAL UNDERWORLD
The public conscience of the social world has been stirred in recent days by the dangers which threaten from an antisocial world that lurks in darkness. The sociologists recognize that it is not a question of vicious and criminal individuals, but one of an antisocial atmosphere, of immoral traditions and surroundings, through which crime flourishes and vice is fostered. They speak of a social underworld, and mean by it that whole pitiable setting in which the gangs of thieves and the hordes of prostitutes live their miserable lives. The public discussions nowadays are full of stirring outcries against the rapid spreading of vice in our large cities; it is a war for clean living and health. But after all we ought not to forget that similar dangers surround our inner culture and our spiritual life, and that an intellectual underworld threatens our time, which demands a no less rigorous fight until its vice is wiped out. The vice of the social underworld gives a sham satisfaction to the human desire for sensual life; the vice of the intellectual underworld gives the same sham fulfilment to the human longing for knowledge and for truth. The infectious germs which it spreads in the realm of culture may ultimately be more dangerous to the inner health of the nation than any physical diseases. The battle against vice and crime in the world of the body ought to be paralleled by a battle against superstition and humbug in the world of the mind. The victory over the social underworld would anyhow never be lasting unless the intellectual underworld were subjugated first. In the atmosphere of sham-truth all the antisocial instincts grow rankly.
I know of a large, beautiful high school in which the boys and girls are to receive the decisive impulses for their inner life from well-trained teachers who have had a solid college education. I have found out that quite a number of these teachers are clients of a medium who habitually informs them as to their future, and for a dollar a sitting gives them advice at every turn of their lives. I do not know whether she takes it from the tea leaves or from an Egyptian dream book or from her own trance fancies, but I do know that the prophecies of this fraud have deeply influenced some of their lives and shaped the faculty of the high school. What does this mean? Mature educators to whose training society has devoted its fullest effort and who are chosen to bring to the youth the message of earnest thought and solid knowledge, and whose intellectual life ought therefore to be controlled by consistent thinking and real love for knowledge, fall back into the lowest forms of mental barbarism and really believe in the most illogical prostitution of truth. The double life of Jekyll and Hyde is more natural than this. The impulse to virtuous behaviour and the atrocities of the criminal may after all be combined in one character, but the desire to master the world by a disciplined knowledge and to think the universe in ideas of order and law cannot go together with a real satisfaction and belief in the chaotic superstitions of mediumistic humbugs. Here we have truly a twofold personality, one living in a world of culture and the other in an underworld of intellectual dissipation and vice. It would not be desirable for the high school teachers who are to be models of virtue to live a second life as gamblers and pick-pockets, but it is more dangerous if they are the agents of intellectual culture and indulge at the same time in intellectual prostitution.
No spirit of false tolerance ought any longer to be permitted, when the treacherous danger has become so nation wide. It is sufficient to take up any newspaper between New York and San Francisco and run through the advertisements of the spiritualists and psychical mediums, the palmists and the astrologers, the spiritual advisers and the psychotherapists: it is evident that it is a regular organized industry which brings its steady income to thousands, and which in the bigger towns has its red-light districts with its resorts for the intellectual vice. The servant girl gets her information as to the fidelity of her lover for fifty cents, the clerk who wants to bet on the races pays five dollars, the great banker who wants to bet on stocks pays fifty dollars for his prophetic tips, and the widow who wants messages from her husband pays five hundred dollars, but they all come and pay gladly. If this mood permeates the public of all classes, it is not surprising that the cheapest spiritualistic fraud creeps into religious circles, that the wildest medical humbug is successfully rivalling the work of the scientific physician, and that the intellectual graft of psychical research is beginning to corrupt the camps of the educated. Surely it is a profitable business, and I know it from inside information, as not long ago a very successful clairvoyant came to the Harvard Psychological Laboratory and offered me a partnership with half his income, not because he himself believed much in my psychology, but because, as he assured me, there are some clients who think more highly of my style of psychology than of his, and if we got together the business would flourish. He told me just how it was to be done and how easy it is and what persons frequent his parlours. But I have inside information of a very different kind before me, if I think of the victims who come to me for help when superstition has broken their mental springs. There was a young girl to whom life was one great joy, until for ten dollars she got the information that she would die in a very big building, and now she goes into hysterics when her family tries to take her into a theatre or a hotel or a railway station or a school.
Indeed the psychologist has an unusually good chance to get glimpses of this filthy underworld, even if he does not frequent the squalid quarters of the astrologers. Bushels of mail bring this superstition and mental crookedness to his study, and his material allows him to observe every variety of illogical thought. If a letter comes to his collection which presents itself as a new specimen that ought to be analyzed a little further, nothing is needed but a short word of reply. It will at once bring a full supply of twisted thought, sufficient for a careful dissection. It has been said repeatedly in the various vice investigations that no one can understand the ill fate of the vicious girls, unless he studies carefully the men whom they are to please. An investigation into mental vice demands still more an understanding of those minds which play the part of customers. There are too many who cannot think in straight lines and to whom the most absurd linking of facts is the most satisfactory answer in any question. The crudeness of their intellect, which may go together with ample knowledge in other fields, predestines them to be deceived and puts a premium on the imposture. I may try to characterize some varieties of crooked thinking from chance tests of the correspondence with which the underworld has besieged me. I have only the letters of most recent date in hand.
I abstract, of course, from those written by insane individuals. They come plentifully and show all sorts of distortions and impossible ideas. But they do not belong here. The confused mind of the patient is not to be held responsible. His absurdities are symptoms of disease, and they are sharply to be separated from the lack of logic in the sound mind, just as the impulse to kill in paranoia is to be distinguished from the murderous schemes of the criminal. It is generally not difficult to recognize at once which is which. I find the most frequent type of letters from evidently diseased persons to be writings like this: "Dear Sir: I wish to let you know that some young men have a sort of a comb machine composed of wireless telephone and reinforced electricity. They can play this machine and make a person talk or wake or go to sleep. They can tell where you are, even miles away. They play in the eyes and brain, I think. They have two machines; so they know when the police or anybody is coming toward their house. They keep talking most of the time so as to take up a person's mind. It is about time it was stopped, but people don't understand such things around here. Could a wireless telephone get their voices? Hoping you will do something to stop them, I am yours, ONE WHO HAS BEEN ANNOYED VERY MUCH."
There is no help for such a poor sufferer except in the asylum. Here we want to deal not with the patients, but only with the sinners who sin against logic, while their minds are undiseased.
There is another large class of correspondents, which is not to be blamed, and which is one of the most interesting contributers to the psychologist's files. People write long discussions of theories which they build up on peculiar happenings in their minds. The theories themselves may be entirely illogical, or at least in contradiction to all acknowledged science, but such letters are interesting, because they disclose abnormal mental states. Here it is not real insanity; but all kinds of abnormal impulses or ideas, of psychasthenic emotions, of neurasthenic disturbances, of hysteric inhibition, are the starting points, and it is only natural that such pathological intrusions should bewilder the patient and induce him to form the wildest theories. Again, he may believe in the most improbable and most fantastic connection of things, but this is due to the overwhelming power of disturbances which he is indeed unable to explain to himself. I have a whole set of letters from women who explain in fantastic theories their magical power to foresee coming events; and yet it is not difficult to recognize as the foundation of all such ideas some well-known forms of memory disturbance. Commonly it is the widespread tendency of women to accompany a scene with the feeling that they have experienced it once before. They are few who never have had it, especially in states of fatigue; many have it very often; and some are led to trust it and to become convinced that they really experienced the scene, at least in their minds, beforehand. This uncanny impression then easily develops into untenable speculations on the borderland of normal intellect. The letters which approach those of the insane most nearly come from persons who try to work out a theory to account for hysterical experiences which break into their normal life. Sometimes the most absurd explanations must be acknowledged as justified from the standpoint of the patient. A woman wrote to me that she had the abnormal power to produce railroad wrecks by her mere will, while she was lying at home in bed. She wanted me to hypnotize her in order to relieve her from this uncanny power. She had elaborated this thought in full detail. She did not know, what I found out only slowly, that in hysterical attacks at night, for which every memory was lost the next morning, she used a stolen switch key to open a switch, because she was angry with a railway official. I will ignore all such cases with an abnormal background here and confine myself to the healthy crowd.
If I were to characterize their writings from an outside point of view, I might first say that their expressions are expansive. There is no limit to their manuscripts, though I have to confess that an exposition of eighty-five hundred pages which has just been announced to me by its author has not yet reached me. Nor can it be denied that their relation to old-fashioned or to new-fashioned spelling is not always a harmonious one. Nor should I call them always polite: the criticism of my own opinions, which they generally know only from some garbled newspaper reports, often takes forms which are not the usual ones for scholarly correspondence. "Whether it is your darkness or if it is the badness of the police that go around calling themselves the government, that probably ordered you to put such ignorance in the Sunday article, I do not know." Or more straightforward are letters of this type: "Greeting—You take the prize as an educated fool. According to reports to me by less stupid and more honest men than you, the matter is...." It is surprising how often the handwriting is pretty, coquettish, or affected, but almost half of my crank correspondence is typewritten.
When the newspapers tell of a mysterious case, minds of this type immediately feel attracted to mix in. When a few years ago I published an article disclosing the tricks of Madame Palladino, I was simply flooded with letters of advice and of explanation. The same thing occurred recently when the papers reported that I was experimenting with Beulah Miller. Now it is easy to understand that those who fancied that the Miller child had supernatural gifts of telepathy and clairvoyance would wish to bring their questions to me so that I might make Beulah Miller trace their lost bracelets or predict their fortune in the Stock Exchange. But I was at a loss to understand why so many persons from Maine to California felt tempted to write long letters to me in which they told me what kind of questions I ought to ask the child, as if I could not formulate a question for myself. Every one expected a special report for himself with exact statements of her answers. The whole performance showed a lack of judgment which is typical of that lower intellectual layer; and yet the letters were often written on beautifully monogrammed letter paper. More often, however, my own writings or doings have nothing to do with the case. I am the perfectly innocent receiver of written messages about anything between heaven and earth, while the messages which my correspondents receive from me are not always authentic. One of my psychically talented writers reports: "On May 31st at eight forty-nine A. M. in the midst of a thunderstorm I came into communication with Doctor Muensterberg and asked him to send me a message. He said, 'The name of my son is Wilhelm Muensterberg.'" It is improbable that I lied so boldly about my family, even in a telepathic message.
I may select a few typical theories, which all come from evidently otherwise normal and harmless people. I have before me a whole series of manuscripts from a druggist who is sure that his ego theory is "very near the truth." It is in itself very simple and convincing. "The right and the left cerebral egos united with one sublime ego are in the body in a loose union in possession of an amoeboid cell. During sleep they may separate. The sublime ego wanders through nerve paths to the bowels, and the bowel experiences are the dreams." An experiment brought a definite proof of this. The druggist dyed some crackers deep blue with methylene blue, and later dreamed that a large train of blue food was passing by. As each carriage of the train corresponded to a granule of starch in the crackers, he was able to figure that the ego which saw those parts of the crackers was about one thousandth of an inch large. "The fact of seeing in dreams is due to vital force, the peculiar low speed to the high vibration force of living albuminoids emitted from every tendril of bioplasm and perceived by the eye of the ego-bion during its visit." "Within the ego-bion is the ego itself, which is much simpler looking, about one hundredth of a micromillimeter." I do not want to go into details of how these egos can be transmitted "by kiss or otherwise" from one generation to another, but I can say that as soon as the reader has grasped the fundamental thesis of the author, everything follows with perfect logic. The good man, who is doubtless a faithful druggist and whose mind is perfectly clear, has simply twisted some of the ideas which he has gathered from his ample reading and developed his pet theory.
His case is very similar to that of a dignified, elderly trained nurse who is faithfully devoted to her noble daily work and who follows her vocation without indicating to any one that she is the author of a great unpublished philosophical work. She has spent twenty-five years of her life on the elaboration of this magnum opus, which is richly illustrated. Everything in the book is consistent and in harmony with its presuppositions. The theory again is very simple; every detail is perfectly convincing, if you acknowledge the starting point. As to this, there may be difference of opinion. The fundamental thought is that all human souls are born in the forests of Central Africa. "Souls are sexless forces. Never is one soul born into life. There are always two. Often we find three pairs of almost the same type with but a shadow of density to distinguish each pair. Man evolutes upward on the scale of life by two tribes of apes. Ere man becomes human, he represents one cell force. When man takes the human form as Maquake, he becomes a double life cell." I do not claim to be an expert in this system, but if I understand the whole work rightly, the idea is that any human soul born there by the monkeys in Africa has to pass in circles of one thousand years from individual to individual, becoming at first negro, then Indian, then Malayan, then Hindu, then Greek, Celt, and Roman, then Jew, and finally American. After a thousand years the soul begins to degenerate and enters sinners and criminals. Which stage the soul has reached can easily be seen from the finger nails. The chief illustrations of the great work were therefore drawings of finger nails of all races. It is a side issue of the theory that "souls once matured generally pass on to another star. The nearer the sun is to the star holding life, the denser is all growth in nature." I acknowledge that this view of evolution does not harmonize exactly with my own, but I cannot deny that the whole system is worked out with perfect consistency, and wherever I asked the writer difficult questions as to some special problems, she was at once ready to give the answers with completely logical deduction from her premises. She is by no means mentally diseased, and she does not mix her theories with her practical activity. If she sits as nurse at the bedside of a patient, she recognizes of course from the finger nails that this particular soul may be three or five thousand years old, and accordingly in a decaying state, but that does not interfere with her conscientious work as a nurse and helper.
To be sure, not every one spends twenty-five years on the elaboration of some twisted fancies. Most of my correspondents write the monumental thoughts of their systems with decisive brevity. A physician informs me that every thought and act of our lives is transfixed on the etheric vapours that surround our earth, and that it is therefore only natural that a clairvoyant is able to see those fixed events and write them down afterward from the ethereal inscriptions. Another tells about his discovery that the human body is a great electrical magnet. I am the more glad to make this fact widely known, as the author writes that he has not given it to the public yet, as he is not financially able to advertise it. Yet he himself adds that after all it is not necessary to advertise truth. On eight quarto pages he draws the most evident consequences of his discovery and shows how he is able to explain by it the chemical change of each cell in the brain and to prove that "foolish so-called spirits are simply electrical demonstrations." "I can demonstrate every current, nerve cell, and atom of the human body. It may seem strange to you that I claim so much, but with the induction every investigation has been so easy for me. I have never been puzzled for any demonstration yet, but I am still searching for more knowledge. Yours for investigation...." I may say that this is a feature common to most of my correspondents of this metaphysical type. They are never "puzzled."
Nearly related to this type of theories are the systems of astrology; and in our upper world very few are really aware what a role astrology is still playing in the intellectual underworld. Some of the astrological communications I receive periodically go so far beyond my understanding that I do not even dare to quote them. But some of the astrological authors present very neat and clean theories which are so simple and so practical that it is almost a pity that they are absurd. For instance, I am greatly interested in the question of determining how far the mind of individuals is predisposed for particular vocations, and in the psychological laboratory we are busy with methods to approach the problem. The astrologers have a much more convincing scheme. My friend writes that he has observed "over two thousand cases wherein the dates of birth have been the means to give the position of the planets at the hour of birth, the purpose being to ascertain the influence they had on man. Now the furniture business calls for an artistic temperament, and after careful observation through birth dates it is found that the successful furniture men have the planet Venus in their nativities. But the Venus influence is prominent also in other lines of business such as art, jewellery, and in all lines where women's necessities are manufactured. Other planetary influences on success in business are: Saturn for miners, tanners, gardeners, clowns, and beggars; Mercury for teachers, secretaries, stationers, printers, and tailors; Jupiter for clergymen, judges, lawyers, and senators; Mars for dentists, barbers, cutlers, carpenters, and apothecaries; Uranus for inventors, chemists, occultists, and others."
One system which is still more frequent than the astrological is the strictly spiritualistic one, which expresses itself in spirit returns and messages from the other world. Geographically the most favoured stations for wireless heavenly connections seem to be Brooklyn, New York, and Los Angeles, California. The adherents of this underworld philosophy have a slang of their own, and the result is that their letters, while they spring from the deepest emotions, sound as if they were copied from the same sample book. The better style begins about like this: "Knowing that you are intensely interested in things psychological, I beg to enclose you copies of some of the automatic letters which I have received. I have a young lawyer friend in the city, and he and I can throw down fifteen or twenty sheets of paper on a table, take hold of hands and get them written full, and in this way I have received letters from Pericles, Aristides, Immanuel Kant, and many others. I got letters from Julia Ward Howe a week after her transition, and I got letters from Emerson and Abraham Lincoln by asking for them. I enclose copy of the last letter which I received from Charlotte Cushman, and I think you will agree there is nothing foolish about it or indeed about any of the letters. I have recently married again, and my present wife is a wonderful trance medium, probably the best means of communication between the two worlds living to-day." This is not exceptional, as practically every one of my spiritualistic correspondents has some "best means of communication between the two worlds." The messages themselves usually begin: "My loved one, out of the realms of light and truth, I come to you ..." and so on. If the letters do not come from the spiritualists themselves, some of their friends feel the need of turning my attention to the "wonderful psychic powers" of their acquaintances. Not seldom the spirits take a more refined form. "The forms of the newly dead come to me in bulk. I see and feel them. They are purplish inky in colour. When a real spirit comes to me in white, I close my eyes. I seem to have to. The spirit or presence most commonly seen, I believe, is a thought form. It frequently comes off the cover of a magazine, and were I not getting wise, I would think the universe turned suddenly to beauty. But I am learning that a person can receive wonderfully exaggerated reports from the very soul of the artist."
From here we see before us the wide vista of the individual gifts and talents: the underworld people are sometimes bragging of them, sometimes grafting with them, if not blackmailing, and often simply enjoying them with the sweet feeling of superiority. The powers turn in all valuable directions. Here is one who wishes to know whether I have ever heard of any other "person who senses the magnetism of the earth and is able to tell many kinds of earthquakes? Also volcanic heats? A quick reply will favour me." Many have the regular prophetic gift; practically every one of them foresaw the assassination of McKinley. Most of them, however, are gifted in curing diseases. The typical letter reads as follows: "There is a young man living here who seems to be endowed with a wonderful occult power by the use of which he is able to diagnose almost any human ailment. He goes into a trance, and while in this condition the name of the subject is given him, and then without any further questions he proceeds to diagnose his case fully and correctly and prescribes a treatment for the relief of the trouble. In every case yet diagnosed a cure has almost immediately resulted." This kind of gift is so frequent that it is really surprising that so many physicians still rely on their clumsier method. Marvellous also are the effects which hypnotism can secure in this paradise of the ignorant. After having hypnotized patients many hundred times, I fancied that I had a general impression as to the powers and limits of hypnotism. But there is no end to the new information which I get from my hypnotizing correspondents. "Has it ever occurred to you that by hypnotism death will be prevented, and all ills, mental or otherwise, be cured before long? Why do I think so?" Of course I do not know why she thinks so. I usually do not know why the writers of the underworld letters think so. Or rather I usually do know that they do not think at all.
There may be many who will read all this not only with surprise, but with skepticism. They live their intellectually clean lives, dwell in safe, comfortable houses of the intellect and move on well-paved educational streets, and never see or hear anything of those inhabitants of the intellectual slums. If ever a letter like those which pour in hundreds to the desk of the psychologist were to stray into their mail, they would feel sure that they had to do with a lunatic who belongs in an asylum under a physician's care. They have no idea that not only their furnaceman and washwoman, but also their tailor and their watchmaker, or perhaps the teacher of their children, and, if they examine more carefully, three of their last dinner guests, are strolling for hours or for a night, or living for seasons, if not for a lifetime, in that world of superstition and anti-intellectual mentality. Such people are not ill; they are personally not even cranks; they are simply confused and unable to live an ordered intellectual life. Their character and temperament and their personality in every other respect may be faultless, but their ideas are chaotic. They bring together the contradictory and make contrasts out of the identical, and, far from any sound religious belief or any true metaphysical philosophy, they simply mix any mystical whims into the groups of thought which civilization has brought into systematic order. Instead of trying to learn, they are always longing for some illegitimate intellectual profit; they are always trying to pick the pocket of the absolute.
It is not difficult to recognize the social conditions from which this tendency springs. The fundamental one, after all, is the widely spread lack of respect for the expert. Such a lack easily results from democratic life, as democracy encourages the belief that every one can judge about everything and can decide from his own resources what ought to be thought and what ought to be done. Yet no one can claim that it is truly a part of democracy itself and that the democratic spirit would suffer if this view were suppressed. On the contrary, democracy can never be fully successful and can never be carried through in consistent purity until this greatest danger of the democratic spirit of society is completely overcome and repressed by an honest respect for the expert and a willing subordination of judgment to his better knowledge. Another condition which makes our country a favourite playground for fantastic vagaries is the strong emphasis on the material sides of life, on business and business success. The result is a kind of contrast effect. As the surface of such a rushing business life lacks everything which would satisfy the deeper longings of the soul, the effort to create an inner world is readily pushed to mystical extremes in which all contact with the practical world is lost, and finally all solid knowledge disregarded and caricatured. The newspapers have their great share, too. Any absurdity which a crank anywhere in the world brings forth is heralded with a joy in the sensational impossibilities which must devastate the mind of the naive reader.
But whatever the sources of this prevailing superstition may be, there ought to be no disagreement about its intellectual sinfulness and its danger to society. We see some alarming consequences in the growth of the revolt against scientific medicine. Millions of good Americans do not want to know anything about physicians who have devoted their lives to the study of medicine, but prefer any quack or humbug, any healer or mystic. Yet for a queer reason the case of the treatment of diseases shows the ruinous results of this social procedure very slowly. Every scientific physician knows that many diseases can be cured by autosuggestion in emotional excitement, and if this belief in the quack produces the excitement and the suggestion, the patient may really be cured, not on account but in spite of the quack who treats him. The whole misery of this antimedical movement is therefore somewhat veiled and alleviated. But this is not so in the fields of real culture and knowledge. The belief in the absurdities there has not even an autosuggestive value. It is simply destructive to the life of civilized society. It is absurd for us to put our best energies to work to build up a splendid system of education for the youth of the whole nation, and at the same time to allow its structure to be undermined by the millionfold intellectual depravity.
Of course it may be difficult to say what ought to be done. I feel sure that society ought to suppress with relentless energy all those parlours of the astrologists and palmists, of the scientific mediums and spiritualists, of the quacks and prophets. Their announcements by signs or in the public press ought to be stopped, and ought to be treated by the postal department of the government as the advertisements of other fraudulent enterprises are treated. A large role in the campaign would have to be played by the newspapers, but their best help would be rendered by negative action, by not publishing anything of a superstitious and mystical type. The most important part of the fight, however, is to recognize the danger clearly, to acknowledge it frankly, and to see with open eyes how alarmingly the evil has grown around us. No one will fancy that any social schemes can be sufficient to bring superstition to an end, any more than any one can expect that the present fight against city vice will forever put a stop to sexual immorality. But that surely cannot be an argument for giving up the battle against the moral perversities of metropolitan life. The fact that we cannot be entirely successful ought still less to be an argument for any leniency with the intellectual perversities and the infectious diseases the germs of which are disseminated in our world of honest culture by the inhabitants of the cultural underworld.
The harmony and soundness of society depend upon its inner unity of mind. Social organization does not mean only an external fitting together, but an internal equality of mind. Men must understand one another in order to form a social unit, and such understanding certainly means more than using the same words and the same grammar. They must be able to grasp other men's point of view, they must have a common world in which to work, and this demands that they mould the world in the same forms of thought. If one calls green what another calls sour, and one feels as noise what another feels as toothache, they cannot enter into a social group. Yet it is no less confusing and no less antisocial if the world which one sees as a system of causes and effects is to another a realm of capricious, causeless, zigzag happenings. The mental links which join society are threatened if some live with their thoughts in a world of order and natural law, and others in a mystical chaos.
This has nothing to do with differences of opinion. Society profits from contrasting views, from discussion and struggle. The opposing parties in a real debate understand each other well and are working with the same logic and the same desire for order of thought. This contrast between order and mysticism has still less to do with the difference of knowledge and belief in a higher religious and philosophical sense. There is no real antagonism between science and religion, between experience and philosophical speculation. They point to each other, they demand each other, and no social question is involved when the interests of one man emphasize more the scholarly search for scientific truth, and those of another concentrate throughout his lifework on the emotional wisdom of religion. It is quite different with mysticism and science; they are not two parties of a debate on equal terms. They exclude each other, as the mystic projects his feeling interests into those objects which the scientist tries to analyze and to understand as effects of causes. Nothing is a safer test of the cultural development of a society than the instinct for the difference between religion and superstition. Mysticism is a systematized superstition. It never undermines the true interests of society more than when it goes to work with pseudo-scientific tools. Its most repellent form, that of sheer spiritualism, has in recent years declined somewhat, and the organizations for antilogical, psychical research eke out a pitiable existence nowadays. But the community of the silent or noisy believers in telepathy, mystical foresight, clairvoyance, and wonder workers seems to increase.
The scientific psychologist might have a twofold contact with such movements. His most natural interest is that of studying the mental makeup of those who chase this will-o'-the-wisp. Their mental vagaries and superstitious fancies are quite fascinating material for his dissection. But for the interests of society an entirely different effort is, after all, more consequential. The psychologist has no right to avoid the trouble of examining conspicuous cases which superficially seem to endorse the fantastic theories of the mentally untrained. Such an investigation is his share, as indeed mental occurrences generally stand in the centre of the alleged wonderful facts. From this feeling of social responsibility some years ago I approached the hysterical trickster, Madame Palladino, who had so much inflamed the mystical imagination of the country, and from this interest in the social aspect I undertook again recently a research into the mental powers of Beulah Miller, who was well on the way to bewilder the whole nation and thus to stir up the always latent mystic inclinations of the community. It is a typical specimen of those cases which can easily upset the loosely reasoning public and do tremendous harm to the mental unity of the social organism. It seems worth while to illuminate it in full detail.
Indeed, since the days when Madame Eusapia Palladino stirred the whole country with her marvellous mystic powers, no case of psychical mystery has engaged the interest of the nation as that of little Beulah Miller in Warren, Rhode Island, has done. The story of her wonderful performances has become a favourite feature of the Sunday papers, and the small New England town for the first time in its long history has been in the limelight. The reporters have made their pilgrimages, and every one has returned bewildered and amazed. Here at last the truth of telepathy was proved. Sworn affidavits of reliable persons removed the last doubts; and I myself, with my long training as a scientist, had to confess, when for the first time I had spent a few hours with Beulah Miller, that I was as deeply startled and overcome with wonder as I was after the first night with Eusapia Palladino. Yet what a contrast! There the elderly, stout Italian woman at a midnight hour, in dimly lighted rooms, in disreputable New York quarters, where the palmists and mediums live in their world of sham psychology, sitting in a trance state at a table surrounded by spiritualistic believers who had to pay their entrance fees; here a little, naive, ten-year-old girl among her toys in the kitchen of her parents' modest white cottage in a lovely country village! I never felt a more uncanny, nerve-irritating atmosphere than in Palladino's squalid quarters, and I do not remember more idyllic, peaceful surroundings than when I sat between Beulah and her sister through bright sunny mornings in their mother's home with their cat beside them and the pet lamb coming into the room from the meadow. There everything suggested fraud, and when at my second seance her foot was caught behind the curtain and the whole humbug exposed, it was exactly what I had expected. But here everything breathed sincerity and naivete and absence of fraud—yet my mere assurance cannot convince a skeptic; we must examine the case carefully.
The claims are very simple: Here is a school child of ten years who is able to read in the mind of any one present anything of which he is thinking. If you take a card from a pack and look at it, and still better if several people look at it, and best of all if her mother or sister looks at it, too, Beulah will say at once which card it is, although she may stand in the farthest corner of the room. She will give you the date on any coin which you have in hand; in a book she will tell you the particular word at which you are looking. Indeed, a sworn affidavit reports still more surprising feats. Beulah gave correctly the name of the reporter whom nobody else knew and the name of the New York paper for which she is writing. At school she reads words written on the blackboard with her back turned to it. At home she knows what any visitor is hiding in his pocket.
The serious-minded man who is disgusted with spiritualistic charlatans and their commercial humbug is naturally inclined here, too, at once to offer the theory that all is fraud and that a detective would be the right man to investigate the case. When the newspapers discovered that I had begun to study the girl, I received from many sides letters with suggestions to look for certain devices with which stage performers carry out such tricks, such as marked cards and the equipment of the magician. But whoever thinks of fraud here misunderstands the whole situation. The psychical powers of Beulah Miller were not brought before the public by the child or her family; there was no desire for notoriety, and in spite of the very modest circumstances in which this carpenter's family has to live, the facts became known before any commercial possibility suggested itself.
The mother was startled by Beulah's psychical gifts because she noticed two years ago that when the family was playing "Old Maid" Beulah always knew in whose hands the dangerous queen was to be found. Then they began to experiment with cards in the family circle, and her ability to know of what the mother or the sister was thinking became more and more interesting to them. Slowly her school friends began to notice it, and children in the Sunday-school told the minister about Beulah's queer mind-reading. All this time no newspaper had known about it. One day the minister, when he passed the house, entered and inquired whether those rumours were true. He had a little glass full of honey in his pocket, and Beulah spelled the word honey at once. He made some tests with coins, and every one was successful. This minister, Rev. H. W. Watjen, told this to his friend Judge Mason, who has lived in Warren for more than thirty years, and then both the minister and the judge visited repeatedly the village where the Millers live, performed a large number of experiments with cards and coins and words, and became the friendly advisers of the mother, who was still troubled by her doubt whether these supernatural gifts of the child came from God or from the devil. Only through the agency of these two well-known men, the Baptist minister and the judge, was the public informed that a mysterious case existed in the neighbourhood of Warren, and when the newspapers began to send their reporters and strangers came to see the wonder, these two men decided who should see the child. Of course, commercial propositions, invitations to give performances on the vaudeville stage, soon began to pour in, but with indignation the mother refused to listen to any such idea. Because of my scientific interest in such psychological puzzles, the judge and the minister turned to me to investigate the case. It is evident that this whole social situation lacks every conceivable motive for fraud.