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description of the services of art. It is enough
to note that literature in particular elaborates
our insight into human life, and, therefore, en-
ables us to center our institutions more truly.

Ibsen discovers a soul In Nora : the discovery Is
absorbed Into the common knowledge of the age.
Other Noras discover their own souls; the Hel-
mers all about us begin to see the person in the
doll. Plays and novels have Indeed an over-
whelming political importance, as the "moderns"
have maintained. But it lies not In the preaching
of a doctrine or the insistence on some particular
change in conduct. That is a shallow and waste-
ful use of the resources of art. For art can open
up the springs from which conduct flows. Its

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THE GOLDEN RULE AND AFTER

genuine Influence Is on what Wells calls the
*'hlnterland," In a quickening of the sense of life.
Art can really penetrate where most of us can
only observe. ''I look and I think I see," writes
Bergson, "I listen and I think I hear, I examine
myself and I think I am reading the very depths
of my heart. . . (But) my senses and my
consciousness . . . give me no more than a
practical simplification of reality ... In
short, we do not see the actual things themselves;
In most cases we confine ourselves to reading the
labels aflixed to them." Who has not known this
In thinking of politics? We talk of poverty and
forget poor people; we make rules for vagrancy
— we forget the vagrant. Some of our best-
intentloned political schemes, like reform colonies
and scientific jails, turn out to be Inhuman tyran-
nies just because our imagination does not pene-
trate the sociological label. ''We move amidst
generalities and symbols ... we live in a
zone midway between things and ourselves, ex-
ternal to things, external also to ourselves." This
is what works of art help to correct: "Behind
the commonplace, conventional expression that
both reveals and conceals an Individual mental
state, it is the emotion, the original mood, to
which they attain In its undefiled essence."

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A PREFACE TO POLITICS

This directness of vision fertilizes thought.
Without a strong artistic tradition, the life and
so the politics of a nation sink into a barren
routine. A country populated by pure logicians
and mathematical scientists would, I believe, pro-
duce few Inventions. For creation, even of scien-
tific truth, is no automaticproduct of logical thought
or scientific method, and It has been well said that
the greatest discoveries In science are brilliant
guesses on Insufl^clent evidence. A nation must, so
to speak, live close to its own life, be intimate and
sympathetic with natural events. That Is what
gives understanding, and justifies the observation
that the Intuitions of scientific discovery and the
artist's perceptions are closely related. It is per-
haps not altogether without significance for us
that primitive science and poetry were indistin-
guishable. Nor Is It strange that latter-day re-
search should confirm so many sayings of the
poets. In all great ages art and science have en-
riched each other. It Is only eccentric poets and
narrow specialists who lock the doors. The
human spirit doesn't grow In sections.

I shall not press the point for It would lead
us far afield. It Is enough that we remember
the close alliance of art, science and politics in
Athens, in Florence and Venice at their zenith.

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THE GOLDEN RULE AND AFTER

We in America have divorced them completely:
both art and politics exist in a condition of un-
natural celibacy. Is this not a contributing fac-
tor to the futility and opacity of our political
thinking? We have handed over the government
of a nation of people to a set of lawyers, to a
class of men who deal in the most verbal and
unreal of all human attainments.

A lively artistic tradition is essential to the
humanizing of politics. It is the soil In which
Invention flourishes and the organized knowledge
of science attains its greatest reality. Let me
illustrate from another field of Interests. The
religious investigations of William James were
a study, not of ecclesiastical institutions or the
history of creeds. They were concerned with
religious experience, of which churches and rituals
are nothing but the external satisfaction. As
Graham Wallas is endeavoring to make human
nature the center of politics, so James made it
the center of religions. It was a work of genius,
yet no one would claim that it is a mature
psychology of the "Varieties of Religious Ex-
perience." It is rather a survey and a descrip-
tion, done with the eye of an artist and the method
of a scientist. We know from it more of what
religious feeling is like, even though we remain

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A PREFACE TO POLITICS

Ignorant of its sources. And this Intimacy human-
izes religious controversy and brings eccleslasti-
clsm back to men.

Like most of James's psychology, It opens up
investigation instead of concluding It. In the light
even of our present knowledge we can see how
primitive his treatment was. But James's ser-
vices cannot be overestimated: if he did not lay
even the foundations of a science, he did lay some
of the foundations for research. It was an Im-
mense Illumination and a warming of interest. It
threw open the gates to the whole landscape of
possibilities. It was a ventilation of thought.
Something similar will have to be done for politi-
cal psychology. We know how far off Is the
profound and precise knowledge we desire. But
we know too that we have a right to hope for
an increasing acquaintance with the varieties of
political experience. It would, of course, be drawn
from biography, from the human aspect of his-
tory and daily observation. We should begin to
know what It Is that we ought to know. Such a
work would be stimulating to politician and psy-
chologist. The statesman's Imagination would
be guided and organized; it v/ould give him a
starting-point for his own understanding of human
beings in politics. To the scientists it would be

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THE GOLDEN RULE AND AFTER

a challenge — to bring these facts under the light
of their researches, to extend these researches to
the borders of those facts.

The statesman has another way of strengthen-
ing his grip upon the complexity of life. Statistics
help. This method is neither so conclusive as
the devotees say, nor so bad as the people who
are awed by it would like to believe. Voting, as
Gabriel Tarde points out, is our most conspicuous
use of statistics. Mystical democrats believe that
an election expresses the will of the people, and
that that will is wise. Mystical democrats are
rare. Looked at closely an election shows the
quantitative division of the people on several
alternatives. That choice is not necessarily wise,
but it is wise to heed that choice. For it is a
rough estimate of an important part of the com-
munity's sentiment, and no statecraft can succeed
that violates It. It is often immensely suggestive
of what a large number of people are in the future
going to wish. Democracy, because it registers
popular feeling, Is at least trying to build truly,
and Is for that reason an enlightened form of
government. So we who are democrats need not
believe that the people are necessarily right In
their choice : some of us are always In the minority,
and not a little proud of the distinction. Voting

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A PREFACE TO POLITICS

does not extract wisdom from multitudes : its real
value Is to furnish wisdom about multitudes. Our
faith In democracy has this very solid foundation:
that no leader's wisdom can be applied unless the
democracy comes to approve of It. To govern
a democracy you have to educate it: that contact
with great masses of men reciprocates by educat-
ing the leader. "The consent of the governed'*
is more than a safeguard against ignorant tyrants:
It Is an Insurance against benevolent despots as
well. In a rough way and with many exceptions,
democracy compels law to approximate human
need. It Is a little difficult to see this when you
live right in the midst of one. But in perspective
there can be little question that of all govern-
ments democracy Is the most relevant. Only hu-
mane laws can be successfully enforced; and they
are the only ones really worth enforcing. Voting
is a formal method of registering consent.

But all statistical devices are open to abuse and
require constant correction. Bribery, false count-
ing, disfranchisement are the cruder deceptions;
they correspond to those enrolment statistics of
a large university which are artificially fed by
counting the same student several times if his
courses happen to span two or three of the de-
partments. Just as deceptive as plain fraud is

116



THE GOLDEN RULE AND AFTER

the deceptive ballot. We all know how when the
political tricksters were compelled to frame a
direct primary law in New York they fixed the
ballot so that it botched the election. Corpora-
tions have been known to do just that to their
reports. Did not E. H. Harriman say of a well-
known statistician that he could make an annual
report tell any story you pleased? Still subtler
is the seven-foot ballot of stupid, good intentions
— the hyperdemocratic ballot in which you are
asked to vote for the State Printer, and succeed
only in voting under the party emblem.

Statistics then is no automatic device for
measuring facts. You and I are forever at the
mercy of the census-taker and the census-maker.
That impertinent fellow who goes from house to
house is one of the real masters of the statistical
situation. The other is the man who organizes
the results. For all the conclusions in the end
rest upon their accuracy, honesty, energy and in-
sight. Of course, in an obvious census like that
of the number of people personal bias counts for
so little that It Is lost In the grand total. But
the moment you begin inquiries Into subjects
which people prefer to conceal, the weakness of
statistics becomes obvious. All figures which
touch upon sexual subjects are nothing but the

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A PREFACE TO POLITICS

roughest guesses. No one would take a census
of prostitution, illegitimacy, adultery, or venereal
disease for a statement of reliable facts. There
are religious statistics, but who that has traveled
among men would regard the number of profess-
ing Christians as any index of the strength of
Christianity, or the church attendance as a meas-
ure of devotion? In the supremely important
subject of literacy, what classification yet devised
can weigh the culture of masses of people? We
say that such a percentage of the population can-
not read or write. But the test of reading and
writing is crude and clumsy. It is often adminis-
tered by men who are themselves half-educated,
and it is shot through with racial and class preju-
dice.

The statistical method is of use only to those
who have found it out. This is achieved princi-
pally by absorbing Into your thinking a lively
doubt about all classifications and general terms,
for they are the basis of statistical measurement.
That done you are fairly proof against seduc-
tion. No better popular statement of this is to
be found than H. G. Wells' little essay: ''Skep-
ticism of the Instrument." Wells has, of course,
made no new discovery. The history of philoso-
phy is crowded with quarrels as to how seriously

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THE GOLDEN RULE AND AFTER

we ought to take our classifications : a large part
of the battle about Nominalism turns on this,
the Empirical and Rational traditions divide on
it; in our day the attacks of James, Bergson, and
the **antl-intellectualists" are largely a continua-
tion of this old struggle. Wells takes his stand
very definitely with those who regard classifica-
tion *'as serviceable for the practical purposes of
life" but nevertheless "a departure from the ob-
jective truth of things."

"Take the word chair," he writes. "When
one says chair, one thinks vaguely of an average
chair. But collect individual instances, think of
armchairs and reading-chairs, and dining-room
chairs and kitchen chairs, chairs that pass into
benches, chairs that cross the boundary and be-
come settees, dentists' chairs, thrones, opera stalls,
seats of all sorts, those miraculous fungoid
growths that cumber the floor of the Arts and
Crafts Exhibition, and you will perceive what
a lax bundle in fact Is this simple straightforward
term. In co-operation with an Intelligent joiner
I would undertake to defeat any definition of
chair or chalrlshness that you gave me." Think
then of the glib way in which we speak of "the
unemployed," "the unfit," "the criminal," "the
unemployable," and how easily we forget that

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A PREFACE TO POLITICS

behind these general terms are unique individuals
with personal histories and varying needs.

Even the most refined statistics are nothing but
an abstraction. But if that truth is held clearly
before the mind, the polygons and curves of the
statisticians can be used as a skeleton to which
the imagination and our general sense of life give
some flesh and blood reality. Human statistics
are illuminating to those who know humanity. I
would not trust a hermit's inferences about the
statistics of anything.

It is then no simple formula which answers our
question. The problem of a human politics is
not solved by a catch phrase. Criticism, of which
these essays are a piece, can give the direction we
must travel. But for the rest there Is no smooth
road built, no swift and sure conveyance at the
door. We set out as if we knew; we act on the
notions of man that we possess. Literature re-
fines, science deepens, various devices extend it.
Those who act on the knowledge at hand are the
men of affairs. And all the while, research studies
their results, artists express subtler perceptions,
critics refine and adapt the general culture of the
times. There is no other way but through this
vast collaboration.

There is no short cut to civilization. We say
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THE GOLDEN RULE AND AFTER

that the truth will make us free. Yes, but that
truth is a tliousand truths which grow and change.
Nor do I see a final state of blessedness. The
world's end will surely find us still engaged In
answering riddles. This changing focus in politics
is a tendency at work all through our lives. There
are many experiments. But the effort is half-
conscious; only here and there does it rise to a
deliberate purpose. To make it an avowed ideal
— a thing of will and intelligence — is to hasten its
coming, to illumine its blunders, and, by giving it
self-criticism, to convert mistakes into wisdom.



121



CHAPTER V

WELL MEANING BUT UNMEANING: THE CHICAGO
VICE REPORT

IN casting about for a concrete example to Illus-
trate some of the points under discussion I
hesitated a long time before the wealth of ma-
terial. No age has produced such a multitude of.
elaborate studies, and any selection was, of course,
a limiting one. The Minority Report of the En-
glish Poor Law Commission has striking merits
and defects, but for our purposes it Inheres too
deeply In British conditions. American tariff and
trust Investigations are massive enough in all
conscience, but they are so partisan In their origin
and so pathetically unattached to any recognized
Ideal of public policy that It seemed better to look
elsewhere. Conservation had the virtue of aris-
ing out of a provident statesmanship, but its
problems were largely technical.

The real choice narrowed Itself finally to the
1S2



WELL MEANING BUT UNMEANING

Pittsburgh Survey and the Chicago Vice Report.
Had I been looking for an example of the finest
expert inquiry, there would have been little ques-
tion that the vivid and intensive study of Pitts-
burgh's industrialism was the example to use. But
I was looking for something more representative,
and, therefore, more revealing. I did not want
a detached study of some specially selected cross-
section of what is after all not the typical eco-
nomic life of America. The case demanded was
one in which you could see representative Amer-
ican citizens trying to handle a problem which
had touched their imaginations.

Vice is such a problem. You can always get
a hearing about it; there is no end of interest
in the question. Rare indeed is that community
which has not been "Lexowed," in which a dis-
trict attorney or a minister has not led a crusade.
Muckraking began with the exposure of vice;
men like Heney, Lindsey, Folk founded their
reputations on the fight against it. It would be
interesting to know how much of the social con-
science of our time had as its first insight the
prostitute on the city pavement.

We do not have to force an interest, as we do
about the trusts, or even about the poor. For
this problem lies close indeed to the dynamics of

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A PREFACE TO POLITICS

our own natures. Research is stimulated, actively
aroused, and a passionate zeal suffuses what is
perhaps the most spontaneous reform enthusiasm
of our time. Looked at externally It is a curious
focusing of attention. Nor is it explained by
words like "chivalry," ^'conscience," "social com-
passion." Magazines that will condone a thou-
sand cruelties to women gladly publish series of
articles on the girl who goes wrong; merchants
who sweat and rack their women employees serve
gallantly on these commissions. These men are
not conscious hypocrites. Perhaps like the rest
of us they are Impelled by forces they are not
eager to examine. I do not press the point. It
belongs to the analyst of motive.

We need only note the vast interest in the
subject — that it extends across class lines, and ex-
presses itself as an immense good-will. Perhaps
a largely unconscious absorption in a subject is
itself a sign of great importance. Surely vice
has a thousand implications that touch all of us
directly. It is closely related to most of the in-
terests of life — ramifying into Industry, into the
family, health, play, art, religion. The miseries
it entails are genuine miseries — not points of
etiquette or infringements of convention. Vice
issues in pain. The world suffers for it. To



WELL MEANING BUT UNMEANING

attack it Is to attack as far-reaching and real a
problem as any that we human beings face.

The Chicago Commission had no simple, easily
measured problem before it. At the very outset
the report confesses that an accurate count of the
number of prostitutes In Chicago could not be
reached. The police lists are obviously Incom-
plete and perhaps corrupt. The whole amorphous
field of clandestine vice will, of course, defeat any
census. But even public prostitution Is so varied
that nobody can do better than estimate It roughly.
This point is worth keeping In mind, for It lights
up the remedies proposed. What the Commis-
sion advocates is the constant repression and the
ultimate annihilation of a mode of life which re-
fuses discovery and measurement.

The report estimates that there are five thou-
sand women in Chicago who devote their whole
time to the traffic; that the annual profits in that
one city alone are between fifteen and sixteen
million dollars a year. These figures are ad-
mittedly low for they leave out all consideration
of occasional, or seasonal, or hidden prostitution.
It Is only the nucleus that can be guessed at; the
fringe which shades out into various degrees of
respectability remains entirely unmeasured. Yet
these suburbs of the Tenderloin must always be

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A PREFACE TO POLITICS

kept in mind; their population Is shifting and
very elastic; it Includes the unsuspected; and I am
Inclined to believe that it Is the natural refuge
of the ^'suppressed" prostitute. Moreover it de-'
fies control.

The 10 1 2 women recognized on the police lists
are of course the most easily studied. From them
we can gather some hint of the enormous be-
wildering demand that prostitution answers. The
Commission informs us that this small group alone
receives over fifteen thousand visits a day — five
million and a half in the year. Yet these 1012
women are only about one-fifth of the professional
prostitutes In Chicago. If the average continues,
then the figures mount to something over
27,000,000. The five thousand professionals do
not begin to represent the whole Illicit traffic of
a city like Chicago. Clandestine and occasional
vice is beyond all measurement.

The figures I have given are taken from the
report. They are said to be conservative. For
the purposes of this discussion we could well
lower the 27,000,000 by half. All I am con-
cerned about Is in arriving at a sense of the
enormity of the Impulse behind the "social evil."
For It Is this that the Commission proposes to
repress, and ultimately to annihilate.

126



WELL MEANING BUT UNMEANING

Lust has a thousand avenues. The brothel,
the flat, the assignation house, the tenement,
saloons, dance halls, steamers, ice-cream parlors,
Turkish baths, massage parlors, street-walking —
the thing has woven itself into the texture of city
life. Like the hydra, it grows new heads, every-
where. It draws into its service the pleasures
of the city. Entangled with the love of gaiety,
organized as commerce, it is literally impossible
to follow the myriad expressions it assumes.

The Commission gives a very fair picture of
these manifestations. A mass of material is of-
fered which does in a way show where and how
and to what extent lust finds its illicit expression.
Deeper than this the report does not go. The
human impulses which create these social condi-
tions, the human needs to which they are a sad
and degraded answer — this human center of the
problem the commission passes by with a plati-
tude.

"So long as there is lust in the hearts of men,"
we are told, "it will seek out some method of
expression. Until the hearts of m6n are changed
we can hope for no absolute annihilation of the
Social Evil." But at the head of the report in
black-faced type we read:

"Constant and persistent repression of prostitu-
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A PREFACE TO POLITICS

tion the Immediate method; absolute annihilation
the ultimate ideal."

I am not trying to catch the Commissioners in
a verbal inconsistency. The inconsistency is real,
out of a deep-seated confusion of mind. Lust will
seek an expression, they say, until "the hearts of
men are changed." All particular expressions are
evil and must be constantly repressed. Yet though
you repress one form of lust, it will seek some
other. Now, says the Commission, In order to
change the hearts of men, religion and education
must step In. It is their business to eradicate an
impulse which is constantly changing form by
being "suppressed."

There Is only one meaning In this: the Com-
mission realized vaguely that repression Is not
even the first step to a cure. For reasons worth
analyzing later, these representative American
citizens desired both the immediate taboo and
an ultimate annihilation of vice. So they fell
Into the confusion of making immediate and de-
tailed proposals that have nothing to do with the
attainment of their ideal.

What the commission saw and described were
the particular forms which a great human im-
pulse had assumed at a specific date in a certain
city. The dynamic force which created these con-

128



WELL MEANING BUT UNMEANING

ditions, which will continue to create them — lust —
they refer to in a few pious sentences. Their
thinking, in short, is perfectly static and literally
superficial. In outlining a ripple they have for-
gotten the tides.

Had they faced the human sources of their
problem, had they tried to think of the social evil
as an answer to a human need, their researches
would have been different, their remedies fruitful.
Suppose they had kept in mind their own state-
ment: *'so long as there is lust in the hearts of
men it will seek out some method of expression."
Had they held fast to that, it would have ceased
to be a platitude and have become a fertile idea.
For a platitude is generally inert wisdom.

In the sentence I quote the Commissioners had
an idea which might have animated all their
labors. But they left it in limbo, they reverenced
it, and they passed by. Perhaps we can raise it
again and follow the hints it unfolds.

If lust will seek an expression, are all expres-
sions of it necessarily evil? That the kind of
expression which the Commission describes is evil
no one will deny. But is it the only possible ex-
pression?

If it is, then the taboo enforced by a Morals
Police is, perhaps, as good a way as any of gain-

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A PREFACE TO POLITICS


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