Charles A. (Charles Abram) Ellwood.

The social problem; a constructive analysis online

. (page 1 of 12)
Online LibraryCharles A. (Charles Abram) EllwoodThe social problem; a constructive analysis → online text (page 1 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


L/BRARY
OP



Central University Library

University of California, San Diego
Please Note: This item is subject to recall.

Date Due
JAN 1 3 1936



JAN1 2



Cl 39 (7/93)



UCSD Li}.






31822019442391




-Y V

INSTITUTION



OF OCEANOGRAPHY
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA



THE CITIZEN'S LIBRARY OP ECONOMICS, POLITICS
AND SOCIOLOGY NEW SERIES

Edited by RICHARD T. ELY, Ph.D., LL.D.
Profewor of Political Economy in the University of Wisconsin






THE SOCIAL PROBLEM






THE CITIZEN'S LIBRARY OF
ECONOMICS, POLITICS AND
SOCIOLOGY *

Edited by

RICHARD T. ELY, PH.D., LL.D.

Professor of Political Economy in the University
of Wisconsin



NEW SERIES

THE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT. By
Benjamin P. De Witt, M.A., LL.B.

THE SOCIAL PROBLEM. By Charles A.
Ellwood, Ph.D.

THE WEALTH AND INCOME OF THE
PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES. By
Willford I. King, Ph.D. In press.

AMERICAN MUNICIPAL PROGRESS. By
Charles Zueblin. Revised. In press.



THE SOCIAL PROBLEM



A CONSTRUCTIVE ANALYSIS



IHKTITUT.OW
tlOLOGK Ai. Rtit-ARCH



BY

CHARLES A. ELLWOOD, Ph. D.,

PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOOT IN THE UNIVERSITY OP MISSOURI,

AUTHOR OF " SOCIOLOGY IN ITS PSYCHOLOGICAL

ASPECTS," "SOCIOLOGY AND MODERN

SOCIAL PROBLEMS," ETC.



fork

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
1915

AU right* retencd



COPYRIGHT, 1915

BT THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
Set up and electrotyped. Published March, 1915.



TO THE FAR THINKING MEN AND WOMEN
OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, WHO
MUST SOLVE THE SOCIAL PROBLEM



MlOLOv



PREFATORY NOTE

"^HE purpose of this little book is to fur-
nish a brief analysis of the social prob-
lem in Western civilization and to outline a
scientific social philosophy which shall serve
as a basis for a well-balanced progress. The
present crisis in our civilization calls for a
reconstruction of our social philosophy; for
we cannot build anew the structure of Western
society upon the inadequate bases of eight-
eenth and nineteenth century thought. The
aim of the book is to indicate the direction
which our social thinking must take if we are
to avoid revolution, on the one hand, and
reaction, on the other. It aims, in other
words, to furnish a scientific basis for the
progressive social movement; and it is com-
mended to progressives, therefore, in what-
ever class, party or sect they may happen
to find themselves. The attitude of the book

will be found, it is hoped, thoroughly positive

vii



PREFATORY NOTE

and constructive toward all the essential
values of our civilization. We should have
learned by this time that nothing permanent
in our social life can be built upon negation.

It has been thought best not to burden the
text with extensive references to authorities
for the generalizations made. The deeper
scientific foundations of the book, however,
are to be found in my larger work on Sociology
in its Psychological Aspects, and I would be
ungrateful if I did not add, also in a large
number of the works of my colleagues in
scientific sociology on both sides of the At-
lantic. It is a particular pleasure to acknowl-
edge the helpful suggestions and criticisms
of friends in Oxford and London.

CHARLES A. ELLWOOD.
OXFORD, ENGLAND,

December 8, 1914.



Vlll



CONTENTS

PAGES

PREFATORY NOTE. . vii



CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

The problem of our civilization Need of
the reconstruction of our social philosophy
Definition of the social problem Possibility
of its scientific solution Nature of social
unity Definition of civilization Present con-
dition of Western civilization Causes of
revolutions Possibility of a general reversion
to barbarism Essentially psychic or spiritual
nature of the social problem Conflicting ideas
and ideals in our civilization No ground for
social pessimism, but a call for social recon-
struction 1-47

CHAPTER II

HISTORICAL ELEMENTS IN THE MODERN SOCIAL PROBLEM

The r6le of tradition in social development
The influence of the Hebrew tradition in West-
ern civilization The influence of the Greek
tradition The influence of the Roman tradi-
tion The influence of the Teutonic tradi-
tion The influence of Christianity The at-
tempted synthesis of the Middle Ages The

ix



CONTENTS

PAGES

rise of modern individualism The develop-
ment of modern science The revolution in
industry and its results The "critical move-
ment " in modern thought The rise of modern
.humanitarianism The failure of the nine-
teenth century Peculiarities of American
social conditions 48-91

CHAPTER III

PHYSICAL AND BIOLOGICAL ELEMENTS IN THE SOCIAL
PROBLEM

The physical conditions of social develop-
ment The conservation of natural resources
Public hygiene and the public health move-
ment The role of heredity in human society
The modern theory of heredity Eugenics
as a necessary part of practical sociology
Difficulties of eugenics Need of a eugenics
programme in modern society Limits of eu-
genic legislation Power of public opinion and
of personal ideals Positive programme of
eugenics Moral value of rational eugenics . . . 92-144

CHAPTER IV

ECONOMIC ELEMENTS IN THE SOCIAL PROBLEM

Social thought in Western civilization pre-
dominantly economic The element of truth
in "economic determinism" The need of a
better industrial system than present capi-
talism The objections to capitalism It leads



CONTENTS

PAGES

to the exploitation of labour Unjust distribu-
tion of wealth has resulted from present capi-
talism Fostering of war between classes and
nations Fostering of materialism in both
rich and poor The way out of the evils of
present capitalism Scientific reform of taxa-
tion as a means of overcoming the inequalities
of the present economic system The objec-
tions to such reform of taxation The differ-
ence between such a progressive economic
programme and socialism 145-188

CHAPTER V

SPIRITUAL AND IDEAL ELEMENTS IN THE SOCIAL PROBLEM

The role of ideas and ideals in social develop-
ment Greater power of the ideal element in
the more complex stages of social evolution
Development of negative ideas and ideals in
Western civilization Need of a revaluation
of family life Need of a revaluation of
government Need of a revaluation of reli-
gion Need of a revaluation of morality
Need of a revaluation of Christianity Need
of better moral education and of conservation
of spiritual values in Western civilization. . . . 189-219

CHAPTER VI

THE SOLUTION OF THE SOCIAL PROBLEM

Solution of the social problem within the
limits of human knowledge and character

xi



CONTENTS

PAGES

Inadequacy of external machinery Inade-
quacy of one-sided programmes Inadequacy
of revolutionary methods The central place
of individual character The three roots of
character and the control of its development
Solution of the problem of the crime and the
labour problem as illustrating the method for
the solution of the social problem Types of
individual character to be aimed at The prac-
tical importance of finding and training social
leaders . . 220-249



Ml



SCRlj- . JT1OH

B1OLOG :-ARCM



THE SOCIAL PROBLEM



THE SOCIAL PROBLEM

A CONSTRUCTIVE ANALYSIS

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION l

A N American publicist ia recently predicted
that the end of our present social or-
der will come before 1930. He points out
that many of the social tendencies of the
present are strikingly like those which pre-
ceded the French Revolution. He cites the
mental opacity of our ruling classes as in many
respects similar to the stupidity of the old
French nobility when they were faced by the
necessity of social readjustment in their time.
The parallel between recent social unrest and

1 A large part of this chapter was presented before
the Sociological Society (London) in a paper on "The
Social Problem and the Present War," which was
published simultaneously in the Sociological Review
and the American Journal of Sociology, January, 1915.

la Brooks Adams, Theory of Social Revolutions (1913).

1



that which preceded the storm of the French
Revolution would probably be assented to by
nearly all students of social history. Indeed,
it requires no profound, scientific mind to
see the parallel. The blindness and ultra-
conservatism of many in our privileged classes
on the one hand, the fanatic radicalism and
one-sidedness of many of the leaders of the
non-privileged on the other, would breed
trouble in any social order. Unless plasticity
of mind and a sense of social obligation can be
instilled into our socially fortunate classes,
and broadminded and constructive views shall
dominate the leaders of our masses, Western
civilization is, indeed, brewing for the world
something worse than a French Revolution.

The problem of our civilization is something
more than the mere threatened overthrow of
existing political and industrial institutions.
The problem before us is not how to avoid
political revolution, but rather how to avoid
the decay and disintegration of civilization
itself. More than one half of the world sud-
denly finds itself (1914) plunged into one of

2



INTRODUCTION

the most terrible wars of human history. It
should be self-evident that there is something
wrong with Western civilization, or else such
a war could not have taken place.

Many writers have recently told us that
our civilization is on the wane, and many
things might be cited in the present Euro-
pean war to show that such a conclusion
is no mere expression of temperamental
pessimism. Indeed, the parallel between ex-
isting social conditions in the Western world
and those which we find in the Rome of
the decadence is closer even than the parallel
between our social unrest and that of pre-
revolutionary France. There was no need of a
Ferrero to point this out. 2 All who know any-
thing at all about the inner facts of our
civilization and that of decadent Rome know
the disturbing resemblances. The decay in
religious belief, in moral ideals, in political
honour, the conflict of classes, the breakdown
of social regulation and control, the demand

J See his Ancient Rome and Modern America (1914),
especially chapter IV of Part Two (pp. 77-78).

3



THE SOCIAL PROBLEM

for a strong man and a centralized government
to enforce order, all of these phenomena of the
present suggest the parallel with Rome. The
very forces which undermined Roman civiliza-
tion, viz., commercialism, individualism, ma-
terialistic standards of life, militarism, a low
estimate of marriage and the family, agnos-
ticism in religion and in ethics, seem to be the
things which are now prominent, if not domi-
nant, in Western civilization. 3

8 "Western civilization" is used in its customary
sense, namely, the civilization of Europe and its col-
onies, the two Americas and Australasia.

Most of the disintegrating tendencies referred to
in the last two sentences have appeared in menacing
strength in Western civilization only within compara-
tively recent years. In the United States at least many
of them became clearly manifest only in the nineties,
or even in the early years of the twentieth century.
As is pointed out later, such phenomena may not mean
social degeneration, but only temporary social de-
terioration a rhythm in the social progress, such as
history has often recorded. But the writer would
emphasize that these phenomena, as well as the War,
indicate that Western civilization has not yet grappled
successfully with the social problem.

4



INTRODUCTION

The present war has come as a shock to
those who have not studied intimately the
foundations of nineteenth century European
culture; but in the writer's opinion it is not
an accident of any sort, in diplomacy or other-
wise. Rather the war has merely exposed
the rottenness of some of those foundations
of Western civilization. We have supposed
that we could rear a secure social structure
upon the basis of an egoistic and materialistic
social philosophy. We have permitted a re-
barbarization of the individual's moral stand-
ards without imagining that these would
actually express themselves in the life of
nations. We have thought that somehow,
out of a programme of self-interest, material
satisfactions, and brute force followed by men
and nations, a settled and harmonious order
would result. Even now there are those who
fail to see that the egoistic, socially-negative
doctrines, which got such a hold of Western
civilization in the nineteenth century, both
in theory and in practice, are the sources of
present disorder. They look for some more



THE SOCIAL PROBLEM

ultimate sources in biologic or economic neces-
sities. But those who see clearly must per-
ceive that while biologic and economic condi-
tions may act as stimuli, the real roots of
civilization are always in the mental attitudes
and conscious values of individuals. They
will also see that some of the mental attitudes
and values approved as sound by the nine-
teenth century have proved unsound in prac-
tice; and that the present war of nations calls
for a reconstruction of our social philosophy
a rebuilding of it on a different basis from
that approved by the nineteenth century.

This may seem but a partial view of present
society, and the writer is glad so to confess.
But there is beyond question in Western
civilization at the present time a mighty con-
flict going on between social philosophies,
between ideals of life, between the forces of
social disorder and dissolution on the one
hand, and of social reconstruction and progress
on the other. All other conflicts are but parts
of this grand conflict in our civilization. No
one, perhaps, can at the present time foresee



INTRODUCTION

the outcome of this conflict; but all can, at
least, be intelligently informed as to its ex-
istence and know something of the power of
forces arrayed on either side. We are not
justified in thinking that the outcome will be
a matter either of chance or of fatal necessity.
Nations and civilizations, so far as the his-
torian and the sociologist can discover, do
not die natural deaths; their decadence and
extinction seem to be rather the result of
wrong choices, of misjudgments, especially on
the part of the social elite who furnish the
leaders in the fields of thought and action.
If then our civilization is "at the cross roads,"
as a recent English writer has well said, 4 let
no one suppose that the road which it will
ultimately take is predetermined. That will
be a matter to be decided by the amount of
social intelligence and character which the
individuals of the present and of the imme-
diate future can show. In proportion, in
other words, as we can get an intelligent in-
sight into the existing social problem and an
4 Figgis, Civilization at the Cross Roads.



intelligent appreciation of the individual and
social qualities needed to meet that problem,
in that proportion we may hope to control
the destiny of our civilization.

The old world of our forefathers has sud-
denly enlarged and burst its bounds within a
generation. The world in which we live may
justly be regarded as a new world, transformed
out of the old by the working of forces yet
imperfectly understood. Many new problems
have suddenly come upon us, due to the in-
crease of population, the increase of knowl-
edge, the intermingling of races and cultures,
the increasing interdependence of nations, the
invention of new machines, and other new
developments in industry, politics and religion.
These many problems, however, have long
been seen, even by superficial students, to be
interdependent. Lying at the back of our
social problems, we are gradually coming to
realize, there is the social problem; but un-
fortunately we are far from agreed as yet as
to what that problem is. Theorist and prac-



INTRODUCTION

tical reformer alike have been too prone to see
it from the little corner in which they were
working. The truly broad view of the problem
is scarcely to be found in the social literature
of the present, save, perhaps, in the pages of
a few writers who apparently have no appre-
ciable influence as yet on practical social and
political leaders. 8

The present strife between classes and na-
tions has obscured the real nature of the social
problem in many ways; but in others it has
clarified the issues involved. It has shown
that the social problem cannot be defined or
understood from any point of view which is
merely national. War has suddenly revealed
the interdependence of national groups ano^
the common life of humanity. When an au-
thor, claiming to speak for any one nation
asserts that "action in favour of collective
humanity outside of the limits of the State or
nationality is impossible;" 6 and that its own

6 Cf. the ideas in Howerth, Work and Life (1912)
and in Hobson, The Social Problem.
6 Bemhardi, Germany and the Next War, p. 25.
9



THE SOCIAL PROBLEM

mission is to impose its superior civilization
upon as large a part of humanity as possible,
the rest of the civilized world stands aghast at
this frank avowal of group egoism as a basis
for practical living. It suddenly becomes evi-
dent that the unit of our sociological thinking
must be humanity. We see at once that group
egoism, whether of a nation, class, or race, is
no lovelier than individual egoism. Again, the
danger of taking some single principle, like
that of the biological struggle for existence,
from some single aspect of life, and conceiving
the human problem preponderatingly in its
terms, becomes evident, when we are told
that "the aspiration [to abolish war] is
directly antagonistic to the great universal
laws which rule all life." 7 We begin to
see that all the factors which shape civi-
lized human life, whether material or im-
material, must be taken into account in

7 For a more detailed and scientific analysis of the
nature of social unity, see Chapter VIII of the writer's
Sociology in Its Psychological Aspects (D. Appleton &
Co., 1912).

10



INTRODUCTION

any truly broad view of the social prob-
lem.

Let us specify briefly some of the particular,
narrow views of the social problem which are
dangerously prevalent at the present time.
To many, whose vision has been confined
largely to the economic relations of classes
within the nation, the modern social problem
has seemed essentially the labour problem. If
it is not merely the problem of the harmonious
adjustment of employer and employee, it is
at most the problem of finding a social order
in which work and enjoyment shall be in satis-
factory relationship to each other. Hence the
generally prevalent view that the social prob-
lem is essentially the problem of the satis-
factory production and just distribution of
wealth. To find the proper methods of pro-
ducing and distributing material goods, would
solve the social problem, according to these
thinkers.

The pacifists, however, looking beyond the
bounds of national life, and emphasizing the

dangers to civilization itself of international

11



THE SOCIAL PROBLEM

conflicts, have suggested that the pressing
social problem of the present is that of inter-
national relationships. If by treaties inter-
national federal councils and arbitration courts
could be established to discuss all questions
and settle all disputes between nations; if the
burdens of militarism and increasing arma-
ments could thus be thrown off; then, they
seem to think, the inherent forces in civiliza-
tion, such as increasing knowledge and increas-
ing control over external nature, could be
trusted to work out the solution of all minor
questions.

But the eugenists, looking beyond the
bounds of the present generation, have lately
insisted that the real social problem of the
present is the problem of the relation of the
generations to one another, more particularly,
the problem of the control of heredity. Start-
ing out with an abstract biologic man, much
like the abstract economic man of the early
nineteenth century, they seem to think that
the all-important matter is the breeding of

man. To secure the perfect, or even the nor-

12



INTRODUCTION

mal physical man, would be to solve, they
think, the essential problem of humanity.

To the leaders of the feminist movement,
the social problem appears to be very largely
"the woman problem," or at most the prob-
lem of the relations of the sexes to one another.
When opportunity is given to woman to as-
sert herself freely, to develop her own per-
sonality fully, and to make her full contribu-
tion to the social life of mankind, then the
problems of our civilization will easily be
solved.

The views of pacifists, eugenists and fem-
inists are all to be welcomed as tending, at
least, to bring out the larger human elements
in the problem. Some of us, at least, are be-
ginning to perceive that the social problem
is now, what it has been in all ages, namely,
the problem of the relations of men to one an-
other. It is the problem of human living to-
gether, and cannot be confined to any state-
ment in economic, eugenic or other one-sided
terms. The social problem is neither the

labour problem, nor the problem of the dis-

13



THE SOCIAL PROBLEM

tribution of wealth, nor the problem of the
relation of population to natural resources,
nor of the control of hereditary qualities, nor
of the harmonious adjustment of the relations
of the sexes; but it is all of these and much
more. If the social problem is the problem
of human living together, then it is as broad
as humanity and human nature, and no mere
statement of it in terms of one set of factors
will suffice. Such a statement obscures the
real nature of the problem, and may lead to
dangerous, one-sided attempts at its solution.

A word of caution is necessary here. Be-
cause the greatest possible broadmindedness
is needful to view aright the social problem
the problem of human living together it
must not be thought that it is beyond the
power of the human intellect or of science.
On the contrary, we may boldly claim that
if we will keep to the common-sense view of
the world, and not be seduced by one-sided
philosophies, enough knowledge of how hu-
man groups do actually live together has

14



INTRODUCTION

already been accumulated to make it possible
for any well-trained mind to see deeply and
truly into the problem of human living to-
gether whether the living together concern
two or three individuals or humanity as a
whole. Nor must it be thought that because
so many different factors are involved in our
social life that there is no such thing as "the
social problem," that it is only a name for
many different problems. On the contrary,
nothing is so real as the social problem the
problem of living together. Every age, na-
tion, and individual must solve it in some
way, by howsoever crude a social philosophy.
But to solve it aright for humanity at large
in universal terms, so to speak requires a
scientific understanding of the forces at work
in human interrelations, and careful putting
together in a right way of all the factors con-
cerned. In brief, it requires a scientific
sociology.

Let us, therefore, consider the nature of the
unity of a social group in the light of modern

sociology in order to see what the nature of

15



THE SOCIAL PROBLEM

the social problem of the present is upon
scientific analysis. 8 A social group, whatever
else it may be, is a mass of interactions be-
tween the individuals who compose it; but if
it is to have any sort of unity, these interac-
tions must be regulated and controlled, that
is, the activities of the individual members
of the group must be adjusted to one another
in some more or less definite way. Otherwise,
the group cannot work together as a unit nor
can its actions work out to any definite end.
While analogies are dangerous in science, it
may be helpful to compare our social group to
a machine. Now the unity of a machine is
secured by the nice adjustment of its parts to
one another. If this adjustment is not me-
chanically perfect, there is friction and it will
not work well, or perhaps not at all. So in
the social group there must be this nice ad-
justment between the activities of its in-

;

8 For a more detailed and scientific analysis of the
nature of social unity, see Chapter VIII of the writer's
Sociology in Its Psychological Aspects (D. Appleton &
Co., 1912).

16



INTRODUCTION

dividual members, if the group is to work
well as a unity, or even at all. But the parts
of the social mechanism, if we may so call it,
are not bits of dead, inert physical matter,
but are living, feeling, thinking individual
units. The machinist has only to know the


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryCharles A. (Charles Abram) EllwoodThe social problem; a constructive analysis → online text (page 1 of 12)