A work of jurisprudence is either expository of what the law is, or censorial, showing what it should be. It may relate to either local or universal jurisprudence; but if expository can hardly be more than local. It may be internal, or international, though there is very little law in international procedure; if internal, it may be national or provincial, it may be historical or living; it may be divided into statutory and customary, into civil and penal or criminal.
The Future of War
The son of humble Polish Jews, Jean Bloch, who was born in 1836, amassed a large fortune out of Russian railways. At the age of fifty he retired from business, and devoted himself to an exhaustive study of the conditions and possibilities of modern warfare. To this labour he gave eight years, and, in 1898, the fruits of it were published in a work of six volumes, in which he sought to prove that, owing to the immensity of modern armies, the deadliness of modern weapons, and the economic conditions that prevailed in the larger states, a great European war was rapidly becoming a physical impossibility. M. Bloch died on January 7, 1902, not before several of his theories had been tested by actual campaigning. His main argument, however, concerns a war on European frontiers between European powers, and such a war he did not live to witness.
I.—The Problem Stated
In the public and private life of modern Europe a presentiment is felt that the present incessant growth of armaments must either call forth a war, ruinous both for conqueror and for conquered, and ending perhaps in general anarchy; or must reduce the people to the most lamentable condition. Is this unique state of mind justified by possible contingencies?
It is true that the ruinousness of war under modern conditions is apparent to all. But this gives no sufficient guarantee that war will not break forth suddenly, even in opposition to the wishes of those who take part in it. Involuntarily we call to mind the words of the great Bacon, that "in the vanity of the world a greater field of action is open for folly than for reason, and frivolity always enjoys more influence than judgment."
War, it would appear from an analysis of the history of mankind, has in the past been a normal attribute of human life. The position now has changed in much, but still the new continues to contend with the old. With the innumerable voices which are now bound up in our public opinion, and the many different representatives of its interests, naturally appear very different views on militarism and its object—war. The propertied classes are inclined to confuse even the intellectual movement against militarism with aspirations for the subversion of social order; on the other hand, agitators, seeking influence on the minds of the masses, deny all existing rights, and promise to the masses more than the most perfect institutions could give them. And although the masses are slow to surrender themselves to abstract reasoning, and act usually only under the influence of passion, there can be no doubt that this agitation penetrates the people more and more deeply.
With such a position of affairs, it is necessary that influential and educated men should seriously attempt to give themselves a clear account of the effect of war under modern conditions; whether it will be possible to realise the aims of war, and whether the extermination of millions of men will not be wholly without result.
If, after consideration of all circumstances, we answer ourselves: "War with such conditions is impossible; armies could not sustain those cataclysms which a future war would call forth; the civil population could not bear the famine and interruption of industry"; then we might ask the general question: "Why do the peoples more and more exhaust their strength in accumulating means of destruction which are valueless even to accomplish the ends for which they are prepared?"
In recent times war has become even more terrible than before in consequence of perfected weapons of destruction and systems of equipment and training utterly unknown in the past. Infantry and artillery fire will have unprecedented force; smoke will no longer conceal from the survivors the terrible consequences of the battle. From this, and from the fact that the mass of soldiers will have but recently been called from the field, the factory, and the workshop, it will appear that even the psychical conditions of war have changed.
The thought of the convulsions which will be called forth by a war, and of the terrible means prepared for it, will hinder military enterprise. But, on the other hand, the present conditions cannot continue to exist for ever. The peoples groan under the burdens of militarism. We are compelled to ask: Can the present incessant demands for money for armaments continue for ever without social outbreaks? The position of the European world, the organic strength of which is wasted, on the one hand, in the sacrifice of millions on preparations for war, and, on the other, in a destructive agitation, which finds in militarism its apology and a fit instrument for acting on the minds of the people, must be admitted to be abnormal and even sickly. Is it possible that there can be no recovery from this? We are deeply persuaded that a means of recovery exists if the European states would but set themselves the question—in what will result these armaments and this exhaustion? What will be the nature of a future war? Can recourse be had to war even now for the decision of questions in dispute, and is it possible to conceive the settlement of such questions by means of the cataclysm which, with modern means of destruction, a war between five great powers with ten millions of soldiers would cause?
That war will become impossible in time is indicated by all. The more apposite question is—when will the recognition of this inevitable truth be spread among European governments and peoples? When the impossibility of resorting to war for the decision of international quarrels is evident to all, other means will be devised.
II.—How War Will Be Waged on Land
The bullet of the present day can kill at a vastly greater distance than the bullets fired during the Franco-German and Russo-Turkish campaigns. The powder now in use has not only far more explosive force than the old-fashioned powder, but is almost smokeless. The introduction of the magazine rifle has immensely increased the speed of firing. Moreover, the rifle is undergoing constant improvement, and becoming a more and more deadly weapon. It is easy, then, to see the following consequences from these changes: (1) The opening of battles from much greater distances than formerly; (2) the necessity of loose formation in attack; (3) the strengthening of the defence; (4) the increase in the area of the battlefield; and (5) the increase in casualties.
If we take rifle shooting alone into account, the length of range, the speed of fire, the better training of troops in the use of the rifle, and the invention of contrivances to aid markmanship, cause such effectiveness of fire that it would be quite possible for rival armies totally to annihilate each other. But a similar improvement has taken place in artillery. The introduction of the quick-firing gun has multiplied the speed of artillery fire many times over. The range has been increased by the perfecting of the structure of the guns, the use of nickel steel in the manufacture of projectiles, and the employment of smokeless powder of immense explosive force.
Artillery fire will now not only be employed against attacking troops, but even more against supporting bodies, which must necessarily advance in closer order, and among whom, therefore, the action of artillery will be even more deadly. We may well ask the question whether the nerves of short-service soldiers will stand the terrible destructiveness of artillery fire.
As a necessary consequence of the increase in the power of fire, we find the more frequent and more extended adoption of defences, and of cover for protection in attack and hampering the enemy. In addition, every body of men appointed for defence, and even for attack—if it is not to attack at once—must immediately entrench itself. The defenders, thus sheltered, and only requiring to expose their heads and hands, have an enormous advantage over the attacking party, which is exposed to an uninterrupted fire to which it can hardly reply.
In the opinion of competent military writers, the war of the future will consist primarily of a series of battles for the possession of fortified positions, which will further be protected by wire obstructions, pitfalls, etc., to overcome which great sacrifices must be made.
As infantry, even if weak in numbers, cannot be driven from an entrenched position without artillery fire, armies in future must find themselves mainly dependent upon artillery. If the defending artillery be equal in strength to that of the attackers, then the attacking artillery will be wiped out. If it be not equal in strength, then both may be wiped out. The losses will be so great that the artillery of both armies will be paralysed, or it might be that the artillery would inflict such heavy losses on the troops that the war would become impossible. Owing to smokeless powder, batteries of artillery are more exposed to the fire both of the enemy's artillery and of sharpshooters. A hundred sharpshooters at a distance of half a mile can, it is estimated, put a battery out of action in less than two minutes and a half. Let it be added that the high explosives used by modern artillery are extremely liable to explode, owing to being struck by the enemy, or owing to concussion caused by an enemy's shell, or to mishandling.
For these reasons, the prospect before an artillery battery entering into a modern European battle is a prospect of demolition.
The European infantry of the future will be composed largely of imperfectly trained short-service soldiers and of reserves who have forgotten their training. Infantry soldiers are liable to be killed by bullets from enemies whom they cannot see, whose rifles, owing to the distance, they may not even be able to hear. Their officers will be picked off in great numbers by sharpshooters, and they will be left without leaders. It is calculated that an average army is composed one-third of brave men, one-third of cowards, and one-third of men who will be brave if properly led. The loss of the officers must tend to cause this latter section to join the cowards.
Furthermore, the enormous area of modern battlefields involves great demands upon the endurance of the foot soldiers, and troops mainly drawn from industrial centres can hardly be expected to meet such demands.
Unless the attacking artillery is overwhelmingly stronger than the defending artillery, defensive infantry in an entrenched position cannot be ousted from its position unless the attackers outnumber their opponents by six or seven to one, and are prepared to lose heavily. The murderous zone of a thousand yards lying between the armies cannot be crossed save at fearful sacrifice, and the bayonet as a weapon of attack is now altogether obsolete.
Can any commander be found who will possess the extraordinary qualities needed for the control of a modern European army—a whole people possessed of weapons of tremendous power and deadliness, spread over an area of vast extent, engaged upon battles that will necessarily last for days, subjected to a nervous strain such as has never been experienced in warfare? The responsibility of subordinate officers must, under such circumstances, be far greater than it used to be; the commander cannot keep everything under his eye. And, as already said, the officers will be especially picked out for death. Under all these conditions, it is likely that after battles with enormous slaughter, victory will be claimed by both sides.
We must further take into account the influence of a modern war upon populations. What will be the effect on the temper of modern armies if war should be prolonged? How will the civil population receive the news from the front? What convulsions must we expect when, after the conclusion of peace, the soldiers return to their destroyed and desolated homes?
A great European war of the future will, it may be assumed, be fought on one or the other frontier of Germany—in the Franco-German area on the western side; or the German-Austro-Russian area on the eastern—or on both. Since it would be impossible under modern conditions for Germany, with or without Austrian co-operation, to invade both France and Russia, she would be obliged to defend one frontier while crossing the other. An attack upon France would involve the traversing of a difficult stretch of country in which elaborate arrangements have been made for defence; and although the French army is not so strong as that of Germany, it would have the enormous advantage of standing on the defensive. Even if Germany were to gain initial successes through her superior swiftness in mobilization, the difficulties of modern warfare are such that she could not hope, even under abnormally favourable circumstances, to capture Paris in less than two years, and long before then she would be reduced to a state of entire economic exhaustion. It is to be borne in mind that the invading army would constantly grow weaker, while the defenders would be able to enforce the superiority now belonging to defence by bringing up all their reserves.
Difficulties which would be, if possible, even harder to surmount would attend a French attempt to invade Germany.
The elaborate plans that have been drawn up for an Austro-German invasion of Russia would, in all probability, be doomed to failure. The defensive system of Russian Poland is regarded as almost perfect. Even if the German and Austrian forces could evade the Polish defences, they would waste their strength against the second Russian fortified line; and even if that were broken through, St. Petersburg and Moscow would still be far distant, and Russia's immense resources in men would enable her to bring up body after body of reserves against the dwindling invading force.
A Russian invasion of Prussia would have to encounter an elaborately scientific defensive system, and would be liable to all the other difficulties to which an invasion is exposed—particularly, in this case, the difficulty of feeding a vast host of men on hostile territory. The weakness of Austria's Galician frontier seems tempting; but Russia would have to strike at Germany—an invasion of Austria which left Germany untouched would be mere waste of energy.
The general conclusion is that invasion of an enemy's country, in a great European struggle, would, in all probability, lead to the destruction of the invaders and the entire exhaustion of both combatants.
III.—Modern War at Sea
The modern warship is a floating fortress equipped with complex machinery, and the rivalry in naval invention has led to a terrible expenditure upon which the powers have embarked in utter heedlessness of the warnings of economists. So prodigious is the destructive power of modern naval weapons that, in the opinion of most specialists, vessels which take part in great battles will issue from them damaged to such an extent that, during the rest of the war, they will not need to be taken into account.
In war the strongest nation will be that which possesses the greatest number of arsenals and ready stores of ammunition, and coal at points selected in times of peace; and, in addition to these, a fleet in reserve, even a fleet of old type, but equipped with modern artillery. With such a fleet it will be possible to strike deadly blows at the enemy when the fleets of the first line have been incapacitated.
To cruisers and torpedo-boats will be allotted the ferocious duty of pursuing merchant ships, falling upon them at night, and sinking them, with the object of cutting the communications and paralysing the trade of the enemy. The effect of naval wars on trade will in future be incomparably more disastrous than it has ever been before.
Calculations show that England alone in a prolonged war could gain the mastery of the sea, forcing the other naval powers to give way everywhere. But the interruption of communications at sea would cause the English such losses that a prolonged war would be impossible for them.
Thus, in continuing to increase their fleets and to perfect their armaments at immense cost, the European powers are striving at aims undefined and unattainable. But the financial and social difficulties which yearly increase may result in such dangers that governments must be compelled after immense sacrifices to do what it would be wiser to do to-day—namely, to abandon a fruitless competition.
Such is a brief picture of what Europe may expect from a future war. But over and above the direct sacrifices and material losses by slaughter, fire, hunger, and disease, a war will cause to humanity a great moral evil in consequence of the forms which a struggle on sea will assume, and of the examples of savagery which it will present at a moment when the civil order will be threatened by new theories of social revolution.
What wearisome labour will be needed to repair the losses, to cure the wounds which a war of a single year will cause! How many flourishing countries will be turned into wildernesses and rich cities into ruins! How many tears will be shed, how many will be left in beggary! How long will it be before the voices of the best men, after such a terrible example, will preach to humanity a higher principle than "might is right"?
IV.—The Warnings of the Economists
The conditions of modern war are bound to be the cause of huge expenditure. First of all, military stores must be drawn by every country from its own resources. Artillery, rifles, and ammunition are all far more costly than they used to be, and the amount of ammunition consumed in a modern European campaign will be prodigious. The vastness of armies, and the deadliness of modern weapons, will add immensely to the requirements of the sick and wounded. The demand for provisions must vastly increase, and the increase will be followed by a great rise in prices. That an immense army cannot exist on the resources of an enemy's territory is plain, especially when the slowness of advance in a struggle for fortified positions is taken into account. Communications by sea will be interrupted at the very outbreak of war. In this respect England is in incomparably the worst position.
There are serious reasons for doubting the proposition that a future war would be short. Thanks to railways, the period of preparatory operations would be considerably shortened; but in marches, manoeuvres, and battles railways can be employed only in very rare cases, and as lines of operation they cannot serve.
The question naturally arises: Will it be possible to raise for war purposes revenues vastly exceeding the normal revenues of European states? And what results must we expect from such extraordinary tension? A careful and thorough inquiry shows that no great power is economically capable of bearing the strain of a great war. Russia has in this respect an important advantage in that her workers, who are her fighters, are mostly agricultural; the members of their families can continue their labours when the summons to war is issued. But, on the other hand, the Russian rural population is extremely poor, and her resources would quickly be exhausted.
As for England, the interruption of maritime communications would affect disastrously, if not fatally, the industries of the country and the feeding of her population. England depends to so great an extent upon imported wheat that a war would threaten the whole population with famine.
The very large industrial portion of the German community would be hit most severely. The stoppage of work and the rise in prices would cause intense suffering and violent discontent.
Although France survived the economic strain of the war of 1870, it does not follow that she could endure the far greater strain of a campaign under the new conditions. Her industrial population, like that of Germany, would be ruined, and the resulting misery might well lead to revolution.
A great European war, then, would bring about the economic prostration of every nation engaged in it, and would be a cause of violent danger to the fabric of society.
Another problem of modern war remains to be considered—the condition and care of the wounded. Modern weapons of precision can not only kill or wound more accurately and at greater distances than the older weapons, but have more penetrative power. A rifle bullet of to-day will pass through three or four bodies, shattering and splintering any bones it may encounter in its course. Hence wounds will be more numerous than they have ever been; and, owing to the unwieldly size of armies and the poor physical condition of many of the men, sickness will be more common as well.
Nevertheless, the assistance of the wounded and sick will be much more difficult than it has been in the past. While the fighting organisation of armies has been improved, their healing organisation has been neglected. It will, besides, be almost impossible to give aid to the wounded. Their removal will have to be conducted under fire, and both the wounded man and his rescuer will run a constant risk of death. Many wounded will have to lie on the field, exposed to a hail of bullets and fragments of shells, until the end of the battle—and the battle may last for days. This cannot but have an evil effect on the morale of an army. If a soldier were convinced that he had a good chance of being taken care of if wounded, he would fight with a better spirit than if he feared that, if he fell, he would be left to prolonged hunger and agony.
It is evident that a vast difference exists between war as it has been in the past and war as it will be in the future. Wars formerly were carried on by standing armies consisting mainly of long-service soldiers. Armies in future wars will be composed mainly of soldiers taken direct from peaceful occupations; many of the older ones will be heads of families torn from their homes, their families, and their work.
The economic life of whole peoples will stand still, communications will be cut, and if war be prolonged over the greater part of a year, general bankruptcy, with famine and all its worst consequences, will ensue. It is to be expected, therefore, that popular discontent with militarism will continue to grow. The immense expenditure on military aims, and the consequent growth of taxation, are the favourite arguments of agitators, who declare that the institutions of the Middle Ages were less burdensome than modern preparations for war.
The question is naturally asked: What will be given to the people after war as compensation for their immense losses? The conquered certainly will be too exhausted to pay any money indemnity, and compensation must be taken by the retention of frontier territories, which will be so impoverished by war that their acquisition will be a loss rather than a gain.
With such conditions, can we hope for good sense among millions of men when but a handful of their officers remain? Will the armies of Western Europe, where the socialist propaganda has already spread among the masses, allow themselves to be disarmed; and, if not, must we not expect even greater disasters than those which marked the short-lived triumph of the Paris Commune? The longer the present position of affairs continues, the greater is the probability of such convulsions after the close of a great war. Thus, with the growth of military burdens rise waves of popular discontent, threatening a social revolution.
Such are the consequences of the armed peace of Europe—slow destruction in consequence of expenditure on preparations for war, or swift destruction in the event of war—in both events convulsions in the social order.
Reflections on the Revolution in France
Edmund Burke, born on Jan. 12, 1729, at Dublin, Ireland, was educated at Trinity College there, and proceeded in 1750 to the Middle Temple, London, but forsook law for the pursuit of literature and politics. His earliest serious work was the essay on "The Sublime and Beautiful," published in 1756, of which the full title is "A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful." In 1761 he became private secretary to Hamilton, the Secretary of Ireland, and four years later to the Premier, the Marquis of Rockingham, when he also became M.P. for Wendover, and, in 1774, for Bristol. He died on July 9, 1797. Burke's magnificent treatise on the French Revolution, of which the full title is "Reflections on the Revolution in France, and on the Proceedings of Certain Societies in London relative to that Event; In a Letter Intended to Have Been Sent to a Gentleman in Paris," was published in 1790, and was read all over Europe, powerfully encouraging strenuous resistance to the Revolution. It is, perhaps, in all literature, the noblest expression of all that is noble in conservatism. His treatise is as profound in its penetration into political principles as it is magnificent in conception and in language. As Burke had stood for a true liberty in America, so he took his stand against a false liberty in Europe. But history has not justified him so completely in the latter case as in the former. Revolutionism was not only, or chiefly, libertinism; and the wonderful modern France has largely disappointed his predictions.
I.—The Meaning of Freedom
Dear Sir, You are pleased to call again, and with some earnestness, for my thoughts on the late proceedings in France. You will see, sir, that though I do most heartily wish that France may be animated by a spirit of rational liberty, it is my misfortune to entertain great doubts concerning several material points in your late transactions. I love a manly, moral, regulated liberty as well as anyone; but I cannot stand forward and give praise or blame to anything which relates to human actions and human concerns, on a simple view of the subject, as it stands stripped of every relation, in all the nakedness and solitude of metaphysical abstraction.
I should, therefore, suspend my congratulations on the new liberty of France until I was informed how it had been combined with government; with public force; with the discipline and obedience of armies; with the collection of an effective and well-distributed revenue; with morality and religion; with the solidity of property; with peace and order; with civil and social manners.
All these, in their way, are good things, too; and, without them, liberty is not a benefit while it lasts, and is not likely to continue long. The effect of liberty to individuals is that they may do what they please; we ought to see what it will please them to do before we risk congratulations. It appears to me as if I were in a great crisis, not of the affairs of France alone, but of all Europe, perhaps of more than Europe.
All circumstances taken together, the French Revolution is the most astonishing that has hitherto happened in the world. Everything seems out of nature in this chaos of levity and ferocity, and of all sorts of crimes jumbled together with all sorts of follies. In viewing this monstrous tragi-comic scene, the most opposite passions succeed, and sometimes mix with each other in the mind; alternate contempt and indignation; laughter and tears; scorn and horror.
You will observe that from Magna Charta to the Declaration of Right it has been the uniform policy of our constitution to claim and assert our liberties as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our forefathers and to be transmitted to our posterity.
Our political system is placed in a just symmetry with the order of the world; wherein, by the disposition of a stupendous wisdom, moulding together the great, mysterious incorporation of the human race, the whole, at one time, is never old, or middle-aged, or young, but, in a condition of unchangeable constancy, moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay, fall, renovation, and progression. We have given to our frame of polity the image of a relation in blood; binding up the constitution of our country with our dearest domesticities; keeping inseparable, and cherishing with the warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected charities, our state, our hearths, our sepulchres, and our altars. Always acting as if in the presence of canonised forefathers, the spirit of freedom, leading in itself to misrule and excess, is tempered with an awful gravity.
All your sophisters cannot produce anything better adapted to preserve a manly freedom than the course that we have pursued, who have chosen our nature rather than our speculations for the great conservatories and magazines of our rights and privileges.
II.—A Lost Opportunity
You might, if you pleased, have profited of our example, and have given to your recovered freedom a correspondent dignity. You possessed in some parts the walls, and, in all, the foundations, of a noble and venerable castle. You might have repaired those walls, you might have built on those old foundations. But you began ill, because you began by despising everything that belonged to you. Respecting your forefathers, you would have been taught to respect yourselves. By following wise examples you would have shamed despotism from the earth by showing that freedom is not only reconcilable, but auxiliary to law. You would have had a free constitution. You would have had a protected, satisfied, laborious, and obedient people, taught to seek the happiness that is to be found by virtue in all conditions; in which consists the true moral equality of mankind, and not in that monstrous fiction which, by inspiring false ideas and vain expectations into men destined to travel in the obscure walk of laborious life, serves only to aggravate and embitter that real inequality which it never can remove, and which the order of civil life establishes as much for the benefit of those whom it must leave in an humble state as those whom it is able to exalt to a condition more splendid but not more happy.
Compute your gains; see what is got by those extravagant and presumptuous speculations which have taught your leaders to despise all their predecessors and all their contemporaries, and even to despise themselves, until the moment in which they became truly despicable. By following those false lights, France has bought undisguised calamities at a higher price than any nation has purchased the most unequivocal blessings. She has abandoned her interest that she might prostitute her virtue.
All other nations have begun the fabric of a new government, or the reformation of an old, by establishing, or by enforcing with greater exactness, some rites or other of religion. All other people have laid the foundations of civil freedom in severer manners, and a system of a more austere and masculine morality. France, when she let loose the reins of regal authority, doubled the license of a ferocious dissoluteness in manners, and of an insolent irreligion in opinions and practices; and has extended through all ranks of life, as if she were communicating some privilege, or laying open some secluded benefit, all the unhappy corruptions that usually were the disease of wealth and power. This is one of the new principles of equality in France.
France, by the perfidy of her leaders, has utterly disgraced the tone of lenient counsel in the cabinets of princes, and has taught kings to tremble at what will hereafter be called the delusive plausibilities of moral politicians. Sovereigns will consider those who advise them to place an unlimited confidence in their people as subverters of their thrones. This alone is an irreparable calamity to you and to mankind.
The French have rebelled against a mild and lawful monarch with more fury, outrage, and insult than ever any people has been known to rise against the most illegal usurper or the most sanguinary tyrant. Their resistance was made to concession; their revolt was from protection; their blow was aimed at a hand holding out graces, favours, and immunities. They have found their punishment in their success. Laws overturned; tribunals subverted; industry without vigour; commerce expiring; the revenue unpaid, yet the people impoverished; a Church pillaged and a state unrelieved; everything human and divine sacrificed to the idol of public credit, and national bankruptcy the consequence.
III.—The Men in Power
This unforced choice, this fond election of evil, would appear perfectly unaccountable if we did not consider the composition of the national assembly. If we were to know nothing of this assembly but its title and function, no colours could paint to the imagination anything more venerable. But no artificial institution whatever can make the men of whom any system of authority is composed any other than God, and nature, and education, and their habits of life have made them. Capacities beyond these the people have not to give. Virtue and wisdom may be the objects of their choice; but their choice confers neither the one nor the other on those upon whom they lay their ordaining hands. They have not the engagement of nature, they have not the promise of revelation, for any such powers. Judge, sir, of my surprise when I found that a very great proportion of the assembly was composed of practitioners in the law. It was composed, not of distinguished magistrates, not of leading advocates, not of renowned professors; the general composition was of obscure provincial advocates, of stewards of petty local jurisdictions, country attorneys, notaries, and the whole train of the ministers of municipal litigation, the fomenters and conductors of the petty war of village vexation.
From the moment I read the list I saw distinctly, and very nearly as it happened, all that was to follow. Who could but conceive that men who are habitually meddling, daring, subtle, active, of litigious dispositions and unquiet minds, would easily fall back into their old condition of low and unprofitable chicane? Who could doubt but that, at any expense to the state, of which they understood nothing, they must pursue their private interests, which they understood but too well? It was inevitable; it was planted in the nature of things.
Other revolutions have been conducted by persons who, whilst they attempted changes in the commonwealth, sanctified their ambition by advancing the dignity of the people whose peace they troubled. Such was our Cromwell, one of the great bad men of the old stamp. Such were your whole race of Guises, Condes, Colignys, and Richelieus. These men, among all their massacres, did not slay the mind in their country. A conscious dignity, a noble pride, a generous sense of glory and emulation, was not extinguished. But your present confusion, like a palsy, has attacked the fountain of life itself. Every person in your country in a situation to be actuated by principles of honour is disgraced and degraded. Property is destroyed, and rational liberty has no existence. If this be your actual situation, as compared to the situation to which you were called, as it were by the voice of God and man, I cannot find it in my heart to congratulate you on the choice you have made, or the success which has attended your endeavours.
Far am I from denying in theory, full as far as my heart from withholding in practice, the real rights of man. Government is not made in virtue of natural rights, which may and do exist in total independence of it, and exist in much greater clearness, and in a much greater degree of abstract perfection; but their abstract perfection is their practical defect. Government is a contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants. Men have a right that these wants should be provided for by this wisdom. Among these wants is to be reckoned the want, out of civil society, of a sufficient restraint upon their passions. In this sense the restraints on men, as well as their liberties, are to be reckoned among their rights.
But as the liberties and the restrictions vary with times and circumstances, and admit of infinite modifications, they cannot be settled upon any abstract rule; and nothing is so foolish as to discuss them upon that principle. The moment you abate anything from the full rights of men, each to govern himself, and suffer any artificial, positive limitation upon those rights, from that moment the whole organisation of government becomes a consideration of convenience. This it is which makes the constitution of a state, and the due distribution of powers, a matter of the most delicate and complicated skill.
When I hear the simplicity of contrivance aimed at and boasted of in any new political constitutions, I am at no loss to decide that the artificers are grossly ignorant of their trade, or negligent of their duty. The pretended rights of these theorists are all extremes, and in proportion as they are metaphysically true they are morally and politically false. The rights of men are in a sort of middle, incapable of definition, but not impossible to be discerned. But this sort of people are so taken up with their theories about the rights of man that they have totally forgotten his nature. Without opening one new avenue to the understanding, they have stopped up those that lead to the heart.
IV.—The Death of Chivalry
As for the National Assembly, a majority, sometimes real, sometimes pretended, captive itself, compels a captive king to issue as royal edicts, at third hand, the polluted nonsense of their most licentious and giddy coffee-houses. It is notorious that all their measures are decided before they are debated. Amidst assassination, massacre, and confiscation, perpetrated or meditated, they are forming plans for the good order of future society. Who is it that admires, and from the heart is attached to, national representative assemblies, but must turn with horror and disgust from such a profane burlesque and abominable perversion of that sacred institute? Miserable king, miserable assembly!
History, who exercises her awful censure over the proceedings of all sorts of sovereigns, will not forget how the king, and his queen, and their infant children, who once would have been the pride and hope of a great and generous people, were forced to abandon the sanctuary of the most splendid palace in the world, which they left polluted by massacre and strewn with mutilated carcases, and were made to taste, drop by drop, more than the bitterness of death. Is this a triumph to be consecrated at altars?
I rejoice to hear that the great lady, an object of that triumph, has borne that day—one is interested that beings made for suffering should suffer well—and that she bears the whole weight of her accumulated wrongs with a serene patience, in a manner suited to her rank and race; that she feels with the dignity of a Roman matron; that in the last extremity she will save herself from the last disgrace; and that, if she must fall, she will fall by no ignoble hand. It is now sixteen years since I saw the Queen of France, then the dauphiness, at Versailles, and surely never lighted on this orb a more delightful vision. I saw her glittering like the morning star, full of life, and splendour, and joy. Oh! what a revolution!
Little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honour, and of cavaliers. I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever. Never, never more shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom. It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honour, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil by losing all its grossness.
If the king and queen of France and their children were to fall into our hands by the chance of war, they would be treated with another sort of triumphal entry into London. We formerly have had a king of France in that situation; you have read how he was received in England. Four hundred years have gone over us; but I believe we are not materially changed since that period. We have not lost the generosity and dignity of thinking of the fourteenth century; nor as yet have we subtilised ourselves into savages.
We have not been drawn and trussed, in order that we may be filled, like stuffed birds in a museum, with chaff and rags and paltry blurred shreds of paper about the rights of man. We have real hearts of flesh and blood beating in our bosoms. We fear God; we look up with awe to kings, with affection to parliaments, with duty to magistrates, with reverence to priests, and with respect to nobility. Why? Because when such ideas are brought before our minds it is natural to be so affected; because all other feelings are false and spurious, and tend to corrupt our minds, to vitiate our primary morals, to render us unfit for rational liberty; and by teaching us a servile insolence, to be our low sport for a few holidays, to make us perfectly fit for, and justly deserving of, slavery through the whole course of our lives.
V.—Principles of Statesmanship
One of the first principles on which the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated is lest the temporary possessors and life-renters in it should act as it they were the entire masters, hazarding to leave to those who come after them a ruin instead of an habitation. By this unprincipled facility of changing the state as often, and in as many ways as there are floating fancies or fashions, the whole continuity of the commonwealth would be broken. Men would become little better than the flies in summer.
First of all, the science of jurisprudence, the pride of the human intellect, which, with all its defects, redundances, and errors, is the collected reason of ages, combining the principles of original justice with the infinite variety of human concerns, would be no longer studied. No certain laws, establishing invariable grounds of hope and fear, would keep the actions of men in a certain course.
No principles would be early worked into the habits. Who would ensure a tender and delicate sense of honour, to beat almost with the first pulses of the heart, when no man could know what would be the test of honour in a nation continually varying the standard of its coin? To avoid, therefore, the evils of inconstancy and versatility, ten thousand times worse than those of obstinacy and the blindest prejudice, we have consecrated the state, that no man should approach to look into its defects or corruptions but with due caution; that he should never dream of beginning its reformation by its subversion; that he should approach to the faults of the state as to the wounds of a father, with pious awe and trembling solicitude. Society is indeed a contract. But it is not a partnership in things subservient only to the gross animal existence of a temporary and perishable nature.
It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art, a partnership in every virtue and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born. Each contract of each particular state is but a clause in the great primeval contract of eternal society, linking the lower with the higher natures, connecting the visible and invisible world, according to a fixed compact sanctioned by the inviolable oath which holds all physical and all moral natures, each in their appointed place.
These, my dear sir, are, were, and, I think, long will be, the sentiments of not the least learned and reflecting part of this kingdom. They conceive that He Who gave our nature to be perfected by our virtue willed also the necessary means of its perfection. He willed, therefore, the state—He willed its connection with the source and original archetype of all perfection. They who are convinced of His will, which is the law of laws, and the sovereign of sovereigns, cannot think it reprehensible that this, our corporate realty and homage, that this our recognition of a signiory paramount—I had almost said this oblation of the state itself—as a worthy offering on the high altar of universal praise, should be performed with modest splendour and unassuming state. For those purposes they think some part of the wealth of the country is as usefully employed as it can be in fomenting the luxury of individuals.
It is on some such principles that the majority of the people of England, far from thinking a religious national establishment unlawful, hardly think it lawful to be without one. The commons of Great Britain, in the national emergencies, will never seek their resource from the confiscation of the estates of the church and poor. Sacrilege and proscription are not among the ways and means of our committee of supply. There is not one public man in this kingdom, of any party or description, who does not reprobate the dishonest, perfidious, and cruel confiscation which the national assembly have been compelled to make of that property which it was their first duty to protect.
But to what end should we discuss all these things? How shall we discuss the limitations of royal power? Your king is in prison. Why speculate on the measure and standard of liberty? I doubt very much indeed whether France is at all ripe for liberty on any standard. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.
A Course of Positive Philosophy
Isidore Auguste Marie Francois Xavier Comte, the founder of the Positive philosophy, was born at Montpellier, in France, Jan. 19, 1798. Entering the Ecole Polytechnique at Paris in his seventeenth year, he showed mathematical talent, but was expelled for insubordination. In 1818 he met St. Simon, and for six years he remained under the influence of that philosopher; but in 1824 he broke away and entered on an independent philosophical career. In 1826 he expounded to a distinguished audience his system of Positive philosophy, but during the course had an attack of insanity which lasted for a few months. Between 1830 and 1842 he published his "Cours de Philosophie Positive." From 1835 to 1845 he acted as examiner at the Ecole Polytechnique, but after 1845 he was supported by a "subsidy" from his admirers. Comte married in 1825, but his marriage was not happy, and ended in a separation in 1842. He died on September 5, 1857. His other important works are "The System of Positive Politics" and the "Positivist Catechism."
I.—Positive Classification of the Sciences
On studying the development of human intelligence, it is found that it passes through three stages: (1) The theological, (2) the metaphysical, (3) the scientific or positive. In the theological stage it seeks to account for the world by supernatural beings. In the metaphysical stage it seeks an explanation in abstract forces. In the scientific, or positive, stage it applies itself to the study of the relation of phenomena to each other.
Different sciences have passed through these stages at different rates. Astronomy reached the positive stage first, then terrestrial physics, then chemistry, then physiology, while sociology has not even yet reached it. To put social phenomena upon a positive basis is the main object of this work; its secondary object is to show that all branches of knowledge spring from the same trunk. An integration of the sciences on a positive basis should lead to the discovery of the laws which rule the intellect in the investigation of facts, should regenerate science and reorganise society. At present the theological, the metaphysical, and the positive conflict, and cause intellectual disorder and confusion.
The first step to be taken in forming a positive philosophy is to classify the sciences. The first great division we notice in natural phenomena is the division into inorganic and organic phenomena. Under the inorganic we may include the sciences astronomy, physics, chemistry; and under the organic we include the sciences physiology and sociology. These five sciences, astronomy, physics, chemistry, physiology, and sociology, we may consider the five fundamental sciences. This classification follows the order of the development of the sciences, and indicates their social relation and relative perfection. In order to reach effective knowledge, the sciences must be studied in the order named; sociology cannot be understood without knowledge of the anterior sciences.
Behind and before all these sciences, however, lies the great science of mathematics—the most powerful instrument the mind can employ in the investigation of natural law—and the science of mathematics must be divided into abstract mathematics or the calculus, and concrete mathematics embracing general geometry and rational mechanics. We have thus really six great sciences.
MATHEMATICS. Mathematics may be defined briefly as the indirect measurement of magnitudes and the determination of magnitudes by each other. It is the business of concrete mathematics to discover the equations of phenomena; it is the business of abstract mathematics to educe results from the equations. Thus concrete mathematics discovers by actual experiment the acceleration which takes place per second in a falling body, and abstract mathematics educes results from the equations so discovered, and obtains unknown quantities from known.
ASTRONOMY. Astronomy may be defined as the science by which we discover the laws of the geometrical and mechanical phenomena presented by heavenly bodies. To discover these laws we can use only our sense of sight and our reasoning power, and reasoning bears a greater proportion to observation here than in any other science. Sight alone would never teach us the figure of the earth or the path of a planet, and only by the measurement of angles and computation of times can we discover astronomical laws. The observation of these invariable laws frees man from servitude to the theological and metaphysical conceptions of the universe.
PHYSICS. Physics may be defined briefly as the study of the laws which regulate the general properties of bodies regarded en masse, their molecules remaining unaltered and usually in a state of aggregation. In the observations of physics all the senses are employed, and mathematical analysis and experiment assist observation. In the phenomena of astronomy human intervention was impossible; in the phenomena of physics man begins to modify natural phenomena.
Physics includes the subdivisions statics, dynamics, thermology, acoustics, optics, and electrology. Physics is still handicapped by metaphysical conceptions of the primary causes of phenomena.
CHEMISTRY. Chemistry may be briefly defined as the study of the laws of the phenomena of composition and decomposition, which result from the molecular and specific mutual action of different substances, natural or artificial. In the observations of chemistry the senses are still more employed, and experiment is of still more utility. Even in chemistry metaphysical conceptions, such as "affinity," linger.
PHYSIOLOGY. Physiology may be defined as the study of the laws of organic dynamics in relation to structure and environment. Placed in a given environment, a definite organism must always act in a definite way, and physiology investigates the reciprocal relations between organism, environment, and function. In physiology observation and experiment are of the greatest value, and apparatus of all kinds is used to assist both observation and experiment. Physiology is most closely connected with chemistry, since all the phenomena of life are associated with compositions and decompositions of a chemical character.
To place social physics on a scientific basis is a task of great difficulty, since social theories are still perverted by theological and metaphysical doctrines. All I can hope to do is to point out general principles which may serve to correct the intellectual anarchy which is the cause of the moral and political anarchy of the present day. I propose to state first how the institution of a science of social physics bears upon the principal needs and grievances of society, so that men worthy of the name of statesmen may realise that such labours are of real utility. So far, positive philosophy has worked timidly and tentatively, and has not been bold and broad and general enough to cope with intellectual anarchy in social questions; but it is necessary now that it play a more dominant part in life, and lead society out of the turmoil in which it has tossed for three centuries.
At present, society is distracted by two conflicting influences, which may be called the theological polity and the metaphysical polity.
The theological polity at one time exercised a beneficent influence on society; but for three centuries past its influence has been essentially retrograde, and has gradually, but radically, decayed. The causes of its decline are various; but the chief present-day antagonist to the theological polity is the scientific spirit, and the scientific spirit can now never be repressed.
The metaphysical polity is progressive, but progressive mainly in a negative way. So far, it has made for progress; but it has made for progress chiefly by removing impediments to progress, by destroying the theological conceptions which retarded the development of human intelligence and human society. Though dangerous and revolutionary, it has been necessary; for much required to be demolished to permit permanent reconstruction.
The metaphysical polity was required to combat the theological; but now it has served its destructive purpose, and tends to become obstructive, for, having destroyed the old, it will not permit the new. Its chief dogma has always been liberty of conscience with the liberty of press and speech which that implies; but liberty of conscience really means little more than absence of intellectual regulation; and even as liberty of conscience is out of the question in astronomy and chemistry, so it is out of the question in social physics. Liberty of conscience and inquiry can only be temporary and transitional, and must be followed by positive decision on the part of those qualified to decide. It cannot be held that every man is competent to form opinions in social and political questions; it cannot be maintained that intellects of weak capacity can judge obscure and complex questions, and that all opinions are equally valuable. All society is based on faith in the opinion of others and in reciprocal confidence. Continual discussion of the foundations of society must render it impossible to lay sure foundations firm, and the disorder produced by free opinions on all points by all people is seen in the fierce and feeble sectarianism of Protestantism. What are the limits of free inquiry we shall see later; meantime, we may note that fine motto of the Catholic Church: "In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; and in all things, charity."
The second dogma of the metaphysical polity is equality, and, like the other dogma, it must be considered the temporary expression of a temporary need. It is indeed a corollary of the dogma of liberty of conscience; for to assume liberty of conscience without equality of intelligence would be to stultify the assumption. Having achieved its purpose, it also became an obstacle in the path of progress. Equality sufficient to permit a man to use his faculties aright is allowed by all; but men cannot be made equal physically, and much less can they be made equal intellectually and morally.
The dogma of liberty of conscience and equality resulted naturally in a third dogma, the sovereignty of the people. This also was provisionally useful, in that it permitted a series of political experiments; but it is in essence revolutionary, condemning the superior to be ruled by the inferior. A fourth dogma, the dogma of national independence, has also been serviceable in separating the nations in preparation for a new union.
The metaphysical polity fails utterly in constructive capacity. During the first French revolution it successfully destroyed the old social system; but its attempts to reorganise society were retrogressive. Instead of Catholicism it proposed polytheism; and in the name of virtue and simplicity it condemned industry and art. Even science was condemned as aristocracy of knowledge. Nor can these blunders be considered accidental; they were inherent in the polity. It is evident that a polity that admits on the one hand the need for a theological foundation, and on the other hand destroys the foundations of theology must end in intellectual anarchy.
Satisfied with neither the theological nor the metaphysical polities, society has wavered between them, and the one tendency has served chiefly to counteract the other. Out of these oscillations a third school of political opinion, which we may call the "stationary school," has arisen.
This school would fix society in a contradictory position between retrogression and progress, such as is seen in the parliamentary monarchy of England. This is a last phase of the metaphysical polity, and is only a kind of placebo.
The result of all this is to produce a most unfortunate position. The theological polity would revert to old, worn-out principles; the metaphysical polity has no definite principles at all; and the stationary school merely offers temporary compromises. Everywhere there is intellectual anarchy, and in Protestant countries the disorder is increased by sectarian discord. So complex are all social questions that few are able to see them steadily, and see them whole, and where individual opinion is unhampered, individual prejudice and individual ignorance must be rampant.
Intellectual anarchy and unsettled convictions, moreover, tend to political corruption. If there are no convictions and no principles to which to appeal, appeal must be made to self-interest or to fear.
A growing tendency to take a shortsighted and material view of political questions is also a disturbing sign of the times. This is due to the fact that when, three centuries ago, spiritual power was abolished, all social questions were given over to men occupied with practical affairs and influenced chiefly by material considerations.
Material views of political questions not only impede progress, but are also dangerous to order, for the view that disorders have a material cause leads to constant interference with institutions and with property. Granted there are abuses in connection both with property and institutions, what is required is not material changes but general moral and intellectual reform.
An inadequate and material view of social physics naturally favours mediocrity, attracts political charlatans, while the most eminent minds devote their attention to science.
The theological and metaphysical philosophies having failed, what remains? Nothing remains but the positive philosophy, which is the only agent able to reorganise society. The positive philosophy will regard social phenomena as it regards other phenomena, and will apply to the renovation of society the same scientific spirit found effective in other departments of human knowledge. It will bring to politics the conception of natural laws, and deal with delicate social questions on impartial scientific principles. It will show that certain wrongs are inevitable, and others curable; and that it is as foolish to try to cure the incurable in social as in biological and chemical matters. A spirit of this kind will encourage reform, and yet obviate vain attempts to redress necessary evils.
It will thus make for intellectual order. It will likewise make for progress and for true liberty by substituting genuine convictions founded on scientific principles for constitutional artifices and the laws of arbitrary wills; it will reconcile the antagonism of class interests by moral and scientific considerations. Revolutionary outbursts there still will be, but they will merely clear the ground for positive reconstruction on a moral and intellectual basis.
Strangely enough, the scientific class are not likely to assist in the positive reconstruction of society. They shrink from the irrational methods of modern polities, and, further, they are so restricted in their narrow horizons that they are unable to grasp the wide generalisations of positive philosophy.
There can be no doubt that society originated in social instincts, and was not merely the result of utilitarian considerations. Indeed, the social state could manifest its ability only when well developed, and in the early ages of humanity the advantages to the individual of association would not be obvious.
What, then, are the human instincts and requirements which give society its fundamental characters? In the first place, it must be noted that in man the intellectual is subordinate to the affective. In most men the intellectual faculties are easily fatigued, and require a strong and constant stimulus to keep them at work. In the majority of cases the stimulus is derived from the needs of organic life; but in more highly endowed individuals the incitement may proceed from higher affective impulses. This subordination of the intellectual to the affective faculties is beneficent in that it gives a permanent end and aim to the intellectual activity.
In the second place it must be noted that the personal affections are stronger than the social affections, and that personal affections give aim and direction to our social actions. This is necessary, for all ideas of public good must be inferred from the ideas of private advantage, and if it were possible to repress our personal affections, our social affections, deprived of necessary inspiration and direction, would become vague and ineffective. In the precept that bids us love our neighbours as ourselves the personal instinct is suggested as the pattern for the social. The only thing to be regretted is that the personal affections are apt to override, instead of stimulating, the social affections.
Increase of intelligence must mean greater capacity for social affection, because of the discipline it imposes on the personal affections; and for the same reason increase of the social instinct is favourable to intelligence. To strengthen this reciprocal action of the intellect and the social affections is the first task of universal morals. And the double opposition between man's moral and material need of intellectual toil and his dislike of it, and again between man's moral and material need of the social affections, and the subjection of these to his personal instincts, discloses the scientific germ of the struggle which we shall have to review, between the conservative and the reforming spirit; the first of which is animated by purely personal instincts, and the other by the spontaneous combination of intellectual activity with the various social instincts.
Society, however, cannot be regarded as composed of individuals. The true social unit is the family; it is essentially on the plan of the family that society is constructed. In a family the social and the personal instincts are blended and reconciled; in a family, too, the principle of subordination and mutual co-operation is exemplified. The domestic is the basis of all social life. The modern tendency, therefore, to attack the institution of the family is an alarming symptom of social disorganisation.
The sociological basis of the family depends on subordination of sexes and of ages.
Marriage at once satisfies, disciplines, and harmonises the strongest and most disorderly instinct of our animal nature; and though it may be attacked by the revolutionary spirit because of its theological implications, yet the institution is based on true principles, and must survive. No doubt marriage has been modified, but to modify is not to overthrow, and its fundamental principle remains intact.
The fundamental principle of the institution of marriage is the natural subordination of the woman—a principle which has reappeared under all forms of marriage. Biology teaches that radical differences, physical and moral, distinguish the sexes, and sociology will prove that the much-advertised equality of sexes is a fiction, and that equality of the sexes would be incompatible with all social existence. Each sex has special functions it must perform in the family, and the necessary subordination of one sex is in no wise injurious, since the happiness of every being depends on the wise development of its proper nature.
Our social system depends on intellectual activity under affective stimulus, and in power of mental labour the woman is incontestably inferior to the man, either because her mental powers are weaker, or because her lively moral and physical sensibility is unfavourable to mental concentration.
Besides the bond of marriage, which holds together society, there is the bond between parents and children. Here again we find the principle of subordination in force, and even as we find wild revolutionaries who challenge the principle of subordination in women, so there are some who would challenge the same principle in the case of children. Fortunately, popular good sense and the primary instincts resist such absurdities.
The spontaneous subordination in the human family is the best model for society. On the other hand, we see obedience and due subordination allied to gratitude, and unassociated with shame; and, on the other hand, we see absolute authority combined with affection and geniality. There are those who would take children from their parents' care, and hand them over to society, and there are those who would prevent the transmission of property from parents to children; but such extravagances need not be examined here.
Coming now to the consideration of society as constructed out of the family units, we see unity of aim associated with diversity of functions. It is a marvellous spectacle to see how in a society the individuals pursuing each their own end yet unconsciously co-operate; and this co-operation is the mainspring of society. In the family, co-operation is much less marked; for the family is founded chiefly on affection, and in affection finds its justification, quite apart from co-operation towards any end. In society the instinct of co-operation preponderates, and the instinct of affection plays only a secondary part. There are exceptional men in whom the affective side of the social instinct is dominant; but such men in most cases give their affection to the race at large simply from lack of domestic sympathy.
The principle of co-operation, spontaneous or concerted, is the basis of society, and the object of society must ever be to find the right place for its individual members in its great co-operative scheme. There is, however, a danger of exaggerated specialism; it concentrates the attention of individuals on small parts of the social machine, and thus narrows their sense of the social community, and produces an indifference to the larger interests of humanity. It is lamentable to find an artisan spending his life making pin-heads, and it is equally lamentable to find a man with mind employing his mind only in the solution of equations.
To guard against such social and intellectual disintegration must be the duty of government. It must foster the feeling of interconnection between individuals; and such a bond of feeling must be intellectual and moral rather than material, and will always imply subordination. The social instinct of man spontaneously produces government, and there is a much stronger instinct of obedience in man than is commonly supposed. Who has not felt it good to resign the responsibility of conduct to wise and trustworthy guidance? Even in revolutionary times the people feel the need of preponderant authority, and political subordination is as inevitable as it is indispensable.
Human progress consists essentially in the evolution of the moral and intellectual qualities proper to man. Most of the occupations of civilisation which deal with material things relieve man from material cares and discomforts, and permit him to use his higher faculties. Death, too, may be considered a promoter of human progress. Youth is essentially progressive, age essentially conservative and opposed to progress, and death it is that prevents old age from too seriously impeding the progress of the world. If life were ten times as long, progress would be greatly retarded. On the other hand, death interferes with continuity of work, and by interrupting a man's work often delays its fruition. It is probable that if life were twice or thrice as long, progress would be more rapid.
Human progress is directed by the reason, and the history of the progress of society is largely the history of the human mind in its progress through its three stages—the theological, metaphysical, and positive. The necessity of these stages can be shown.
At first man knows nothing but himself, and it was inevitable that he should explain things as produced by a being like himself. The theological philosophy gave a basis for observation by its hypotheses that phenomena were products of actions like human acts, and that all bodies had life like human life, and that there was an invisible world with invisible agents. These hypotheses were not only intellectually necessary; they were also morally necessary, for they gave man confidence to act, and hope that he could modify anything unsatisfactory in the universe by appeals to its maker. Not only did the theological philosophy sustain man's courage, and kindle his hope, and increase his sense of power, but it gave an intellectual unanimity of great social and political value; and, producing a special speculative class, made the first effective division between things of matter and things of mind. Except for the theological speculative class, man might have remained merely a superior monkey.
Still, the theological philosophy was obviously only temporary, and could not satisfy the needs of more highly developed intelligence, and it soon came into conflict with positive philosophy. Indeed, at all times there had been glimmerings of positive belief, for at all times the simplest phenomena had been considered subject to natural laws, and all had been compelled to act in everyday affairs on the assumption of the invariability of natural law. The positive philosophy, therefore, was inevitable from the first, and its open antagonism to the theological philosophy was merely a question of time.
Between the theological and positive philosophy naturally and necessarily has intervened the metaphysical, which has substituted entities for a deity. This philosophy has never had the social power or the consistency of the theological philosophy; its entities have been mere abstractions. It has and has had such political power simply because so elusive.
Material progress has gone through similar stages. The primitive tendency of mankind was to a military life. At first the military life afforded man, apart from cannibalism, the easy means of making a living; and in no other school in these days could order have been taught, and in no other way could political consolidation be so quickly effected.
Necessary as the military stage was, it was merely provisional, it must be succeeded by the industrial stage. Meantime, we are in the transitional stage between the two, for we have defensive instead of offensive military organisation, which is becoming more and more subordinate to industrial production.
The military stage corresponded with the theological stage, belonged to the same regime, had common antipathies and sympathies as well as general interests, and could not have worked without the aid of theological convictions to give blind confidence in military superiors. The industrial stage corresponds with the positive stage; it is akin in spirit, in origin, and in destination. The transitional stage, again, corresponds with the metaphysical stage. Only on these three dualisms which I have established can a sound historical philosophy be based.
Progress and Poverty
Henry George was born at Philadelphia on September 2, 1839. After spending some years at sea, he reached California in 1858, became a printer, and later a journalist and director of the public library in San Francisco. In 1871 he published "Our Land Policy," and this was afterwards developed into "Progress and Poverty: an Inquiry into the Causes of Industrial Depressions, and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth," issued in 1879. The book soon acquired a world-wide reputation, not only from the eloquence and beauty of its diction, but from the author's novel theory of land taxation. In 1880 George removed to New York, published a book on the Irish land question, and for some years afterwards undertook a succession of missionary journeys to Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, the result of which was the foundation of the English Land Reform Union, the Scottish Land Restoration League, and the legislative adoption by the different Australasian colonies of his scheme of the taxation of land values. Among other economic works he issued were "Protection or Free Trade," "The Condition of Labour," and "A Perplexed Philosopher." George died on October 29, 1897.
I.—Wages, Capital, and Wealth-Distribution
The past century has been marked by a prodigious increase in wealth-producing power. It was naturally expected that labour-saving inventions would make real poverty a thing of the past. Disappointment, however, after disappointment has followed. Discovery upon discovery, invention after invention, have neither lessened the toil of those who most need respite nor brought plenty to the poor. The association of poverty with progress is the great enigma of our time.
I propose to attempt to solve by the methods of political economy the great problem; to seek the law which associates poverty with progress and increases want with advancing wealth.
The inquiry is—why, in spite of increase in productive power, do wages tend to a minimum which will give but a bare living? The answer of current political economy is that wages are fixed by the ratio between the number of labourers and the amount of capital devoted to the employment of labour, and constantly tend to the lowest amount on which labourers will consent to live and reproduce; because the increase in the number of labourers tends naturally to follow and overtake any increase in capital. This argument is inconsistent with the general fact that wages and interest do not rise inversely, but conjointly. My proposition is that wages, instead of being drawn from capital, are in reality drawn from the product of the labour for which they are paid.
The three agents or factors in production are land, labour and capital, and that part of the produce which goes to the second of these factors is wages. Land embraces all natural materials, forces, and opportunities, and therefore nothing that is freely supplied by nature can be properly classed as capital. Labour includes all human exertion, and hence human powers, whether natural or acquired, can never be properly classed as capital.
We exclude from the category of capital everything which must be included either as land or labour, and therefore capital consists of those things which are neither land nor labour, but which have resulted from the union of these two original factors of production. Nothing can be capital which is not wealth; only such things can be wealth the production of which increases, the destruction of which decreases, the aggregate of wealth. Increase in land values does not represent any increase in the common wealth, for what landowners gain by higher prices the tenants or purchasers will lose.
All wealth is not capital. Capital is only that part of wealth which is devoted to the aid of production. It is wealth in the course of exchange, for production includes not merely the making of things, but the bringing of them to the consumer. Wherever we analyse the facts we find that without production wages would not, and could not, be. As the rendering of labour precedes the payment of wages, and as the rendering of labour in production implies the creation of value, the employer receives value before he pays out value—he but exchanges capital of one form for capital of another form. Hence the payment of wages in production never involves the advance of capital or ever temporarily lessens capital.
Nor is it true that the maintenance of labour is drawn from capital, and that therefore population regulates itself by the funds which are to employ it, for that would involve the idea that labour cannot be exerted until the products of labour are saved, thus putting the product before the producer, which is absurd. Capital, therefore, does not limit industry, the only limit to industry being the access to natural material. Capital may limit the form of industry, and the productiveness of industry, by limiting the use of tools and the division of labour. The functions of capital are to assist labour in production with tools, seeds, etc., and with the wealth required to carry on exchanges. All remedies, whether proposed by professors of political economy or working men, which look to the alleviation of poverty either by the increase of capital, or the restriction of the number of labourers, or the efficiency of their work, must be condemned.
The argument that wages are determined by the ratio between capital and labour finds its strongest support in the Malthusian doctrine, and on both is based the theory that past a certain point the application of capital and labour yields a diminishing return. The Malthusian doctrine is that the tendency to increase in the number of labourers must always tend to reduce wages to the minimum on which labourers can reproduce. When this theory is subjected to the test of straightforward analysis, it is utterly untenable. In the first place, the facts marshalled in support of it do not prove it, and the analogies drawn from the animal and vegetable world do not countenance it; and, in the second place, there are facts which conclusively disprove it.
There are on every hand the most striking and conclusive evidences that the production and consumption of wealth have increased with even greater rapidity than the increase of population, and that if any class obtains less than its due share, it is solely because of the greater inequality of distribution. The denser the population, the more minute becomes the subdivision of labour, the greater economies of production and distribution, and hence, the very reverse of the Malthusian doctrine is true.
II.—The Law of Wages
To discover the cause which, as population increases, and the productive arts advance, deepens the poverty of the lowest class, we must find the law which determines what part of the produce is distributed to labour as wages, what part to capital as interest, and what part to landowners as rent.
Rent is the price of monopoly arising from the reduction to individual ownership of natural elements which human exertion can neither produce nor increase. Interest is not properly a payment made for the use of capital. It springs from the power of increase which the reproductive forces of nature and the (in effect) analogous capacity for exchange give to capital. The principle that men will seek to gratify their desires with the least exertion operates to establish an equilibrium between wages and interest.
This relation fixed, it is evident that interest cannot be increased without increasing wages nor wages lowered without depressing interest. The law of interest is that the relation between wages and interest is determined by the average power of increase which attaches to capital from its use in its reproductive modes. The law of wages is that they depend upon the margin of production, or upon the produce which labour can obtain at the highest point of natural productiveness open to it without the payment of rent. This law of wages accords with and explains universal facts, and shows that where land is free, and labour is unassisted by capital, the whole produce will go to labour as wages. Where land is free, and labour is assisted by capital, wages will consist of the whole produce, less that part necessary to induce the storing up of labour as capital. Where land is subject to ownership and rent arises, wages will be fixed by what labour can secure from the highest natural opportunities open to it without the payment of rent. Where natural opportunities are all monopolised, wages must be forced by the competition among labourers to the minimum at which labourers will consent to reproduce. Nothing can be clearer than the proposition that the failure of wages to increase with increasing productive power is due to the increase of rent.
The value of land depending wholly upon the power which its ownership gives of appropriating wealth created by labour, the increase of land values is always at the expense of the value of labour. And, hence, that the increase of productive power does not increase wages is because it does increase the value of land. It is the universal fact that where the value of the land is highest civilisation exhibits the greatest luxury side by side with the most piteous destitution.
The changes which constitute or contribute to material progress are three: increase in population, improvement in the arts of production and exchange, and improvement in knowledge, government, and morals. The effect of increase of population upon the distribution of wealth is to increase rent, and consequently to diminish the proportion of the produce which goes to capital and labour in two ways. First, by lowering the margin of cultivation; and second, and more important, by bringing out in land special capabilities otherwise latent, and by attaching special capabilities to particular land. The effect of inventions and improvements in the productive arts, including division of labour between individuals, is to save labour—that is, to enable the same result to be secured with less labour, or a greater result with the same labour, and hence to the production of wealth.