Franklin Henry Giddings.

Democracy and empire; with studies of their psychological, economic, and moral foundations online

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as has been shown, is of the dull, mechanical, non-addptable
man by a more versatile competitor. But industries are not
all of the same character. Some are more progressive in their
methods than others, because they contribute to the satisfac-
tion of continually developing wants, which create a varying
demand, while others minister to wants that are relatively
stationary. In some, therefore, the high-priced man is the
cheap man; in others the low-priced man is the cheaper
man. Economists who have contended that high wages mean
a low cost of labour, and those who have affirmed the con-
trary, are alike half right and half wrong. They have been
observing different classes of industries. Under a perfectly
uniform, self-regulating circulation of labour, the versatile
man, of the high standard of life, would displace the cheaper
man in one class of industries, and the duller, cheaper man
would displace higher-priced labour in the other class. Under
normal progress the major displacement would be of inferior by
superior men. But unless economic evolution, creating new
wants and varying demands, and reorganizing industry to
supply them, is going on more rapidly than the growth of
social unrest, or of those political policies that so often force
vast hordes of destitute people into migrations that have no
definite destination — as in the case of the Kussian Jews —
there may be a cruel and ruinous substitution of the lower
for the higher grade of workman, prematurely and far beyond
normal limits. It would not be unfortunate that the Irish-
man should displace the native American, that the French
Canadian should in turn displace the Irishman, and that
finally the Hungarian or the Pole should displace the French
Canadian, if the men of the higher standard of life could
immediately step into industries of a higher grade. But
when this is not possible, when they can live only by sinking
to the level of their more brutal competitors, it is an evil
of great magnitude.

Under such circumstances, the intense competition of the


struggle for success, due partly to ambition, but primarily to
the quickening rate of industrial and social transformation,
piles up in the community a frightful wreckage of physical
and moral degeneration. Every sociologist, every statistician,
has been struck with the seemingly anomalous fact that sui-
cide, insanity, crime^ and vagabondage, increase with wealth,
education, and refinement; that they are, in a word, as Morselli
says, phenomena of civilization. But the fact is not altogether
anomalous, after all. These things are a part of the cost of
progress, forms that the cost of progress takes when the rate
of social activity exceeds the rate of constructive reorganiza-
tion. Quicken the pace of a moving army, and the number
of the unfortunates who will fall exhausted by the way will
be disproportionately increased. Besides quickening the pace,
let discipline lapse and organization break up, and the number
of stragglers will be more than doubled. Increase the strain
of any kind of competitive work and derange the conditions
under which it is done, and the percentage of failures will
rise. That this is the far-reaching explanation of the phys-
ical, intellectual, and moral degeneration that we behold on
every side, notwithstanding a marvellous multiplication of all
the influences that make for good, is not to be doubted by one
who will patiently study the facts recorded in moral and vital
statistics. Thus, the number of suicides in Italy was 29 per
1,000,000 inhabitants in 1864, when her people were just en-
tering on a new and larger life under national unity; while in
1877 it had risen to 40 per 1,000,000. In France, in 1827 the
number was 48 per 1,000,000 ; but before 1875 it had risen to
155. In England a rate of 62 in 1830 had risen to 73 in
1876. In Saxony a rate of 158 in 1836 had risen to 391 in
1877.^ Is it any wonder that Morselli, from whose laborious
monograph these figures are taken, says that "in the aggre-

1 Later figures, given by Maurice Block ("L'Europe Politique et Sooiale,"
deuxi6me Edition, 1893, p. 460), are as follows : Italy, 1888, 53 per 1,000,000
Inhabitants, 1889, 47 per 1,000,000 ; France, 1889, 212 per 1,000,000 ; England,
1889, 80 per 1,000,000. In Massachusetts the proportion was 69 per 1,000,000
in the period 1851-55, and 90.9 in the period 1881-85. See "Statistics of
Suicide in New England," by Davis E. Dewey, Publications of the American
Statistical Association, June-September, 1892.


gate of the civilized states of Europe and America, the fre-
quency of suicide shows a growing and uniform increase, so
that generally voluntary death since the beginning of the
century has increased and goes on increasing more rapidly
than the geometrical augmentation of the population and of
the general mortality " ? Elsewhere he says, and his figures
prove, that "it is those countries which possess a higher
standard of general culture which furnish the largest contin-
gent of voluntary deaths," and that the proportion of suicides
is greater in the compact population of urban centres than
among the more scattered inhabitants of the country.

The phenomena of insanity follow the same general laws,
with the difference that the abnormal loneliness of isolated
country districts, drained of their population and social re-
sources by migration to the cities, is as deleterious as the
overcrowding and fierce competition of towns. According to
the figures of the eleventh federal census, the inmates of
public asylums and hospitals for the insane were 2.10 per 1000
inhabitants in the North Atlantic division and 2.25 per 1000 in
the Western division. It is in these sections that life is most
intense. In the North Central division the ratio was 1.28 to
1000, in the South Atlantic division the ratio was 1.27 to 1000,
and in the South Central division it was only 0.71 to 1000.
Some allowance must be made for the larger number of de-
ranged persons not committed to public institutions in som'e'
sections than in others, but this will not greatly affect the in-
terpretation of the figures — an interpretation fully borne out
by the researches of specialists. Maudsley, for example, says,
" I cannot but think that the extreme passion for getting rich,
absorbing the whole energies of life, predisposes to mental
■degeneracy in offspring, either to moral defect, or to intellec-
tual deficiency, or to outbursts of positive insanity."

That crime is an effect of poverty it is no longer possible to
believe, since it varies independently of poverty, and directly
with other social conditions and with the strain of progress.
Thus, serious crimes, including theft, are not more frequent
in poor than in wealthy countries. On the contrary, in Eng-
land the trials for theft are 228 per 100,000 inhabitants annu-


ally, while in Ireland they are but 101, in Hungary 82, and
in Spain 74. Everywhere, too, crimes are less frequent in
winter, when the hardships of poverty are most grievous, than
in summer, when they are more easily borne. Again, crime
is not a monopoly of the poor, since all classes contribute to
our jail and prison population in very nearly exact proportion
to their total numbers ; and Professor Falkner has shown that
in the United States serious crime is more frequently com-
mitted by the native than by the foreign-born. On the other
hand, keener competition is everywhere followed by increas-
ing criminality, as is most strikingly shown by the statistics
of criminality among women. The crimes of women have
been heretofore in small proportion to the crimes of men, but
with the opening of hundreds of new industrial and profes-
sional opportunities to the sex hitherto shielded from the
fiercer contentions of the social life-struggle, the figures of
arrests and commitments of women show a sad increase
" In all countries where social habits and customs constrain,
women to lead retiring and secluded lives," says Morrison,,
" the number of female criminals descends to a minimum."
Thus in Greece, in 1889, there were only 50 women in a total
prison population of 5023. In England, on the other hand,
women constitute 17 per cent of the whole number of offend-
ers ; while in Scotland, where the industrial emancipation of
women is most complete, no less than 27 per cent of the
offences tried in criminal courts in 1880 were committed by
women, and in 1888 that percentage had risen to 37.

Of the rapid increase of vagabondage with social unrest
and industrial evolution, but a word need be said. Professor
McCook, of Trinity College, Hartford, who has made an ex-
haustive study of this question, finds that we are supporting
in this country an army of 48,848 tramps. At the lowest
\ estimate, it costs to feed these absolutely worthless wretches-
I 17,988,620 a year. Adding their hospital, jail, and prison
I expenses, the total becomes 19,000,000.
I The end of these things would be social disintegration and
' paralysis, but for a reaction that they start in the public mind.
The ethical consciousness of society is aroused and unified by


such evidences that civilization and progress are not an un- |
mixed good. More imperative daily becomes the demand |
for a public and private philanthropy that shall be governed f
by the results of scientific inquiry ; which shall work no longer
at cross purposes, but shall merge their plans and efforts in a,
unified policy to ameliorate, as far as possible, conditions!
that man can never wholly remove, but which he can easily
make worse. How far can this demand be met ?

The practical solution of the problem depends on a difiicult
.-combination of two very difficult things. The first is to con-
I vince one set of people that society ought to assume the costs ,
I of its progress, and, as far as possible, take openly the respon- 1
'Wbility for replacing the displaced. This is the element of
trff^ in socialism. We have, indeed, made some progress in
this direction. Practically and theoretically society admitted
the obligation when, in the reigns of the Tudors, it began to
supplement private and ecclesiastical charity by systems of
public relief. In a hundred forms of legislation and adminis-
tration, in public education, in the multiplication of asylums
and hospitals, in a thousand modes of private beneficence,
the duty is being more adequately discharged by each later
generation. But we are yet very far from comprehending its
full extent. We realize but faintly how far the incompetent
and impoverished have been made such by social movements
that have cut them off from any possibility of personal im-
provement. The second difficulty is to convince another set^
^/of people of the fallacy of a cardinal socialistic notion — 'i
namely, that industrial derangements can be prevented in a
progressive world ; and, further, to convince them that the
greatest possible compensation of thousands of able-bodied
auman beings who are relatively useless to the community,
and, therefore, poor, depends upon their being held for the
while in practical subjection to other individuals or to the

We have heard a great deal in recent years about Christian
socialism, and one of the most interesting developments in
the ecclesiastical world is the growing belief that Christianity
ought to prove its pretensions by demonstrating its power to


solve social problems. It is, however, noteworthy that in
all this discussion the most important single doctrine that
Christianity has to contribute to social science has been
forgotten or ignored. The doctrine referred to is that of
the distinction between those who are free from the law
and those who are under bondage to the law. The key to
the solution of the social problem will be found in a frank
acceptance of the fact that some men in every community
are inherently progressive, resourceful, creative, capable of
self-mastery and self-direction, while other men, capable of
none of these things, can be made useful, comfortable, and
essentially free, only by being brought under bondage to
society and kept under mastership and discipline until they
have acquired power to help and govern themselves. K
one should say that we all believe this doctrine — that it is
in no sense new — the necessary reply would be that we
nevertheless habitually disregard it in every matter save
the juridical distinction between the law-abiding and the
criminal. We accept laissez faire as the expedient rule for
all men and all industries alike, or we denounce it as
bad for all alike. We advocate socialistic methods for the
entire field of industry, or we pronounce them impracticable
for any part of it. We denounce compulsory education
for any class in the community, or we insist on forcing it
upon all classes. And in all these sayings and doings we
confound unlike things, and show ourselves irrational in
the last degree.

What, then, in concrete detail, are some of the ethical obli-
gations placed upon individuals and upon society by the con-
ditions of social progress ?

The law that the progressive, self-governing members of
society should lay on themselves must include at least three
groups of duties. First, they must resist, personally and in
their influence, the tendency to subordinate every higher con-
sideration to that mere quickening of competitive activity
which so easily goes beyond its normal function of means to
end, and becomes an irrational, unjustifiable end in itself.
Especially in the education of children who are seen to be


ambitious should everything that savours of competition be
absolutely put away. The competitive examination of such
children is nothing less than essential crime, essential insan-
ity, essential idiocy, for all these things will be among its
results. Second, they must resort more freely, as fortunately
they are beginning to do, to country life ; and especially must
they provide the conditions of country life to the greatest
possible extent for children, not only their own but those of
the city poor. Third, they must cultivate that true individu-
ality in the consumption of wealth, which is not only the
mark of genuine manliness or womanliness, but which surely
reacts on economic demand in ways that give a competitive
advantage to the higher industrial qualities of men whose
own standard of life is high.

The duties that society must discharge in its relation to
the general conditions of progressive activity, and to its mem-
bers who are undeveloped or degenerate, fall also into three
groups. First, society must assume the regulation of inter- /
national imgfation. Each nation must be made to bear the/
burden of pauperism, ignorance, and degeneracy caused by
its own progress or wrong-doing. Society must also assume
the regulation, by industrial and labour legislation, of those
industries in which free competition displaces the better man
by the inferior. Perhaps in time some of these industries
may advantageously come directly under public manage-
ment, as socialism proposes. Second, society must act on )
the fact that a proportion of its population must always be ■^'"
practically unfree, by extending compulsory education to the
children of all parents who are unable or unwilling to pro-
vide in their own way a training that the commonwealth can
approve. This education should be as perfectly adapted as
knowledge, money, and sincerity of purpose can make it, to
the work of fitting the children of the poor for life in a
changing, progressive world. Third, society should enslave
— not figuratively, but literally —'111 those men and women
who voluntarily betake themselves to a life of vagabondage.
The time has passed when food and shelter should be given
by kindly sentimentalists to the tramp, or when the public


should deal with his case in any partial way. Every tramp
within the borders of civilization should be placed under
arrest and put at severe, enforced labour under public

These are the positive obligations of individuals and of the
state that seem to be disclosed by a study of social progress.
But we must not forget that the same conditions impose a
negative duty also — an obligation of restraint. For all re-
form, all philanthropic work, is itself a phase of social prog-
ress, and, like all others, has a cost in effort and suffering.
Therefore, if philanthropic reform is hurried, or pursued by
too radical methods, it may convert the absolute increase of
evil, which progress costs, into a relative increase, and so
wholly defeat itself. Those distinguished Italian students of
criminal anthropology, Lombroso and Laschi, have lately
pointed out that political crime (the crime, that is, of those
who unsuccessfully resist governmental authority) consists
essentially in the attempt to accomplish in crude and violent
ways desirable changes or reforms for which society is not yet
ready. Devotion to the cause of progress these authors call
philoneism ; while the dread of change they call misoneism.
Society is, on the whole, misoneistic ; and therefore we can
mend its ways but slowly. For, whatever happens, we must
keep in touch with our fellow-men, remembering always the
fine, true words of Marcus Aurelius: "The intelligence of
the universe is social. Accordingly, it has made the inferior
things for the sake of the superior, and it has fitted the
superior to one another. Thou seest how it has subordinated,
coordinated, and assigned to everything its proper portion,
and has brought together into concord with one another the
things which are the best."



Under all disguises, and in all its forms, the labour move-
ment is a struggle for control. The objects that the wage
earner desires are not different in kind from those that
appeal to the employer and to the professional man. All men
alike desire material goods and personal freedom. Every
wage earner who is dissatisfied with his lot, however, believes
that his share of goods is small and that his real freedom to
follow his own will is curtailed because the organization of
industry is monarchical or oligarchic. He therefore hopes
for the success of some scheme that will make industry, like
politics, democratic. The plan that he favours may be noth-
ing more than a perfecting of trade unionism; it may be
cooperation; or it may be socialism or anarchism. But
whatever it is in name and form, in essence it is an attempt
to put the wage earner in control of the conditions under
which he works.

Historically and practically, the most important gains that
workingmen have made in their struggle for control, have
been secured through political activity; and, in all proba-
bility, law and government will continue to be the most
effective instrumentalities that industrial democracy can

The first writer who fully comprehended this truth was Fer-
dinand Lassall e. Lassalle's " Workingman's Programme "
has aptly been called the gospel of the labour movement. No
one who has not read it has grasped the issues of discontent
in their historical connections, their motives, and their tenden-
cies. Before Lassalle, social questions interested the few —



theorists, students, and social experimenters. Karl Marx's
ponderous work on " Capital " would never have been read
by many labouring men had not their enthusiasm been kindled
by the brilliant Lassalle, a man perhaps less learned than
Marx, but standing higher in social life, and endowed with
that rare gift of so stating the most momentous propositions
that they fascinate and quicken the dullest minds. The
" Workingman's Programme " was one of a series of addresses
delivered in Berlin in 1862, and for its bold utterances its
author paid the penalty of a term of imprisonment. On the
score of radicalism, these utterances would scarcely attract
attention in the United States to-day, for the most audacious
of them was the demand for universal suffrage ; but in Ger-
many in 1862 they were revolutionary.

The strength and charm of the " Programme " lie in the
historical treatment adopted. Dogmatic statements are care-
fully avoided. Starting from the premise that the working
class is only one of many classes of which the modern com-
munity of citizens consists, Lassalle traces the course of social
evolution from the Middle Ages, to discover in what way
social classes have been marked off from each other, in what
way power and privilege have been distributed among them,
and by what conditions their relations to one another have
been determined; the retrospect disclosing a progressive
broadening of the basis of power and privilege, accompanied
by moral not less than material gains.

Going back to the Middle Ages, Lassalle finds the same
social grades as now, but not well developed or defined, and
one grade and one element — the landed interest — dominat-
ing all the others. The cause — a simple one — he discovers
in the economic conditions of the time. Agricultural produce
was the staple wealth. Trade was but slightly developed,
manufacturing still less, and movable possessions were so little
thought of in comparison with possession of the soil that chat-
tels were alienable without the consent of heirs, while property
in land was not. Four highly important social consequences
resulted from this predominance of the landed interest. First,
a vast development of the feudal system, with its obligations


of service in the field ; second, the limitation of the right of
representation to the owners of real estate ; third, the exemp-
tion of landed proprietors from taxation, on the principle that
a ruling, privileged class, invariably seeks to throw the harden
of maintaining the existence of the state on the oppressed
classes that have no property; fourth, the contempt with
which every labour or profession not connected with the land
was socially regarded.

The overthrow of this mediaeval constitution of society be-
gan with the Reformation of 1517, and was completed by the
Revolution pf 1789 ; but neither religion nor revolution was
the cause of the transformation. The cause was the accumu-
lation, through trade, of capital — movable property as distin-
guished from landed property — in the hands of the bourgeoisie.
By law the nobles and the clergy continued to be the ruling
classes; but in fact they became more and more dependent
upon the rich bourgeoisie, or they were even obliged to
abandon their class notions and themselves resort to trade
to obtain wealth. The age became one of materialism,
characterized by a voracious struggle for money, in which all
moral ideas were prostituted. The causes of such a remarkable
increase in movable wealth, Lassalle enumerates at length;
but they all reduce to one, the enormous extension of the
market for movable goods by the discoveries of America and
the sea route to the East Indies. The Revolution of 1789
merely gave legal recognition to a change that was already
accomplished in fact. Lassalle takes pains to emphasize the
truth that this is the character of all revolutions : they cannot
be made to order ; they only give form and countenance to
what already exists.

The bourgeoisie became, then, legally and constitutionally
what they had, for some time, been in fact — the ruling power.

How did they use their power ? For a time they professed
to use it in the interests of the whole of humanity ; but they
soon discovered that, after all, they were only a fragment. As
a class, they began to separate into two subdivisions, one made
up of those who were dependent on their daily labour for
subsistence, the other composed of the possessors of large


capitals. It was the latter that now became the ruling class,
which straightway began to devise a system of social arrange-
ments advantageous to itself and oppressive to all others,
exactly as the landlords had done in the Middle Ages.

The first step was the restriction of suffrage and represen-
tation to the possessors of capital, as measured by their pay-
ment of direct taxes. Lassalle gives numerous examples of
the extent to which this device was carried in European
countries. In France, where the rights of man had been so
enthusiastically proclaimed, two hundred thousand electors,
in the reign of Louis Philippe, bore rule over thirty million

Online LibraryFranklin Henry GiddingsDemocracy and empire; with studies of their psychological, economic, and moral foundations → online text (page 8 of 29)