Copyright
Laurence Gronlund.

The coöperative commonwealth in its outlines. An exposition of modern socialism online

. (page 18 of 23)
Online LibraryLaurence GronlundThe coöperative commonwealth in its outlines. An exposition of modern socialism → online text (page 18 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


are far more conservative, even reactionary — no fault of theirs,



WOMAN. 207

though — than men. In the words of Admiral Maxse: "Those
who think unorthodox, that is, unusual thoughts, they (i. e.
women of the present time) believe to be wicked. They turn
instinctively from all initiative movements. Even superior
women rarely have sympathy with the struggles which deter-
mine the life of a nation. They are only interested in public
affairs within the limits of the parish. "' But in the Coming
Commonwealth all these objections will disappear, for they
can all be shown to be due to their one-sided education.

Let us, however give credit to these persistent ;t women-
rights" agitators for one thing. We are told, that in some
settlements on the African coast free negroes are taunted by the
slaves with having no white man to look after them. That so
many of our women have got beyond the standpoint of those
slaves is in the main due to those agitators.

But for woman to expect, that her emancipation will be
worked out before that of man is altogether illusive. And
this is a sufficient reason, why all agitators for women's rights
ought with enthusiasm to embrace Socialism, which will en-
able woman to right, herself, all her other wrongs.

Take marriage

Ihe New Order will necessarily, by the mere working of its
economic principles considerabty modify that relation. And
is that relation such an ideal one now, that it would be a sac-
rilege to touch it ?

Is marriage not now, at bottom, an establishment for the
support of the woman? Is not maintenance the price which
the husband pays for the appendage to himself? And because
the supply generally exceeds the demand — that is, the effective
demand — has woman not often to accept the offer of the first
man who seems able to perform this pecuniary obligation ol
his?

This is rather a commercial view to take of this " holy "' re-
lation, but is not. as a matter of fact, marriage regarded by
altogether too many as a commercial institution? Do not, in
fact, the total of young women form a matrimonial market, regu-
lated by Demand and Supply? Nothing is more natural than



208 WOMAN.

that it should be so now. It is most human, that in our pres-
ent Social Order parents as well as young women should look
upon marriage, without prospects of subsistence, with horror.
Now. the Cooperative Commonwealth will dissipate that hor-
ror. Io will enable every healthy adult man and woman to
marry whenever they feel so inclined, without any present or
prospective misgivings in regard to their support or the prop-
er education of children. Socialists are charged, ignorantly
or insidiously, with attempting to destroy the family. Why!
we, icant to enable every man and woman to form a happy family.

Somebody may here interject, that it is very inexpedient for
people to marry yonng, since they must necessarily be wanting
in judgment. To that we reply, that by u young people " we
mean developed, adult young people — children will in a prop-
er social system remain in the care of their teachers till they
have grown to maturity ; further, that nothing contributes so
much to the chastity of a Nation as the marriage of its young
men as soon as possible after reaching the adult state; and,
lastly, that experience does not teach us, that judgment in
love affairs increases with growth in years. The fear of over-
population consequent on early and universal marriages we
have already shown to be baseless.

Next, the Coming Commonwealth will destroy the matri-
monial market.

When Wealth ceases to be a means of living by the labor
of other people, and especially when an honorable and easy
living is within her reach, we may suppose, that a woman
will rarely consent to marry for anything but love, will no
longer consent to be bought to be a piece of furniture of any
western Turk. Here, again, it is the power of earning that
will confer true dignity on womanhood.

Again, this economical equality of woman will greatly af-
fect for the better her position as wife.

Our mamage laws are the eode of the stronger, made by
lords for dependents. True, in many states of our Union some
modifications in regard to property have been effected in favor
of the wife. But even iu that regard the enormity every where
prevails, that the wife as survivor of her husband has onl} r a



EDUCATION. 225

more importance to the State than to parents, since the effects
of it will be felt by Society, and principally after these parents
are dead and gone. It is because through it Society accom-
plishes the end of its being, that all education is a public trust.

Just as little as parents will the many denominational and
private schools and colleges which we now have do. Even
granted that the education in, say, the Quaker college of
Swarthmore is fully up to the standard of any public college,
the New Order cannot get along with such one-sided, awry,
cramped men and women as necessarily must issue from such
a one-sided school.

Lastly, the same objection applies to the Family as
to the Church: it is incompetent to teach. That is the
main objection agaiust Herbert Spencer's justly popular
book on "Education." He assumes throughout his treatise
(which might better have been called ''Home Training")
that parents are competent to teach their children. Why!
the fact is, th.it even now most children of the age of twelve
are more lit to teach their parents in all more important branch-
es than the reverse. If any man might be supposed qualified
to teach his son, it was James Mill, and yet we know from the
pen of John Mill that he would have been of greater ser-
vice to the world, if he had been trained in a public school.
Now it is true, that in the New Commonwealth mothers will
be tar better qualified to assist in the development of their in-
fants than now, yet their general incompetency will still re-
main, on account of the higher grade of education which will
obtain. At all events, a sufficient objection is and will remain
thai seeming paradox, that Darents know none so poorly as
their own children; they prate of qualities which no impar-
tial person can discover.

The Coming Commonwealth must radically do away with
all and any form of quackery and amateurs bip, in education-
al matters especially. Education is essentially scientific labor.
A competent and qualified body of educators must therefore be
raised up to whom the whole function of education can be in-
trusted.

Teaching is now a "business'" and a temporary one at that.



226 EDUCATION.

To teach in order to got pocket-money, or wait for a chance
to get into some other *' business," or for a chance to
marry, if the teacher is a woman as generally is the case,
does not qualify for the grand art. The time teachers in our
country practice their profession is simply their own training
period. We cannot have that genuine education which the
new Commonwealth will demand, before we have teachers who
have themselves been genuinely educated, next, thoroughly
trained as teachers and who then will devote themselves with
their whole, soul to their profession.

Here again, and more clearly than at any other point, we
see how all-important, how indispensable the economic side
of the New Order is to all other progress. For these teachers
will not be raised up, before we have given them a dignified
position economically. Teaching is now a temporary ** busi-
ness," because it is one of the most unprofitable positions,
and because the teaeher occupies a very low round in the so-
cial ladder. In the New Social Order he will be rewarded
pioportionately to his important function and need take no
thought for his advancing age. Furthermore, he will be a
member of a corporation of the highest dignity in the State;
a corporation embracing the teachers in the most elementary
schools, as well as the professors in the various universities —
genuine universities for untrammelled scientific investigation
in all departments — and whose directors, superiors and repre-
sentatives in the National Board of Administration we shall
suppose elected and dismissed exactly as they will be in the
other departments.

This corps of educators will have in their exclusive charge
the whole education from top to bottom and all scientific in-
vestigations. They will be perfectly untrammelled, for such
a system will enable them to say to all charlatans in their de-
partment as the bakers, artisans and agriculturists can say
in theirs: " w mind your own business, sir! You are not com-
petent to say aught in this matter."

There is not the smallest reason to fear that this will result
in any spiritual tyranny, for the influence of this theoretic
body of men is sure to be counteracted by that Public Opinion



EDUCATION. 227

of the practical majority which we saw will be of extraordi-
nary force in the Coming Commonwealth AVe ought rather
to hail such a strong and independent organization of a class,
devoted to the cultivation of knowledge, as a healthy counter-
poise to that Public Opinion. We may also suggest, that the
present tendency of founding universities in every section
and almost every State of our country (though so far it has
generally only resulted in founding university buildings) may
be the sowing of germs of many different centres of science
under the New Order, and thus contribute, as it has ill Gei-
maii3 r ,to intellectual freedom and all-sidedness.

Then, and not till then, we can begin to have anything that
deserves the name of education. Then, as we have noticed
several times, we shall have arrived at the true starting point
of the Cooperative Commonwealth. It will thus be seen that,
even if all the conditions were ripe tomorrow for the inaugu-
ration of the New Order, we could not hope to do anything
more in the generation, then living, than lay the foundation,
deeply and firmly, for its upbuilding; among other things by
training capable persons belonging to the second generation
to be the educators of the third— to have charge of this third
generation from its earliest infancy till it reaches the adtflt age.

Consider how many, many children are now sent into the
world at an age, when those of wealthy parents arc still in
the nursery; consider that the average time children attend
school is in our cities but Jive, and outside our cities but three
years; consider that such an "enlightened" state as Massachu-
setts requires only a yearly school-attendance of twenty-weeks
of her children under fifteen years; consider that in spite of
this law 25.000 of her children never have seen the inside of a
school-room; consider that 10,000 infants under ten years are
woi king in the factories of that same enlightened State; * consid-
er that all over our country, with all our children, schooling
stops when the thinking process really first commences, and
is it any wonder that our educational results are wretched"?

Why! the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth years con-

* For these facts see an article on ' k Children's Labor " in At-
lantic Monthly, December, 1880.



228 EDUCATION.

Bitnte the most critic il period of a boy's life, and left to him-
self he is. during: those years and until he become restrained
by experience, really one of the most dangerous members of
Societjr. That these boys turn out to be as noble men as many of
them do is a sufficient proof of the inherent goodness of human
nature. But when the New Order has arrived, we shall be unan-
imous in acknowledging that restraint is just needed as a sort
of astringent, to give maximum of power. We shall have
learned that a young man who is kept under close and contin-
ued discipline of proper persons till twenty-one is sure to have
a m«>re vigorous and original character than one left to its own
devices at an age when mind is yet unformed. And as far
as our girls are concerned we shall yet sooner have learned a
similar lesson.

You will very likely doubt that such a radical change will
take place here when 1 , preeminently, it is the practice to leave
the young men and women to shift for themselves. In the
same way many doubts might have been raised as to the suc-
cess of the common school system, judging from the opposi-
tion to it from so many quarters at its introduction. Yet
nearly all parents now avail themselves of it, driven by an un-
conscious impulse. And so. when the Great Change occurs,
novelties will soon become familiar.

But the greatest novelty will be the new ideal of education.

That is the only matter left us to consider. We have noth-
ing to do with what will be taught or how to teach it. That
we for our part shall leave to the competent ; already too many
amateurs have had their say on that subject. But even those
now most qualified would be incompetent to frame a curricu-
lum for our future schools, for the ideal of education now will
by no means be the ideal of the Coming Commonwealth.

The ideal, the end sought to be attained, now of education
is to enable the individual to achieve success in life, to gd the
better of their fellowmen in the struggle for the good things of
this world. That is the meaning of Individualism. No mat-
ter that in the nature of things but few can achieve that suc-
cess, and that those who do succeed generally at the end of



EDUCATION. 229

their career consider their success not worth the trouble, that
teacher is considered the best who best knows how to qualify his
pupils for the battle of life. That is why teachers stimulate
the " ambition*' of their scholars with prizes, marks, relative
places iu the school-room &c. That is also why they cram
their pupils with facts and common-places of received opin-
ions and persist in teaching them Latin and Greek so that they
may afterward quote classical extracts for the sake of effect.

The end to be attained by education in the Coming Com-
monwealth will be a very different one. It likewise will be
to qualify the pupils for the battle of life, but against nature
and in accord with their fellows. That is the meaning of Social
Cooperation.

In that Commonwealth prizes will not be used, because they
only excite a few while leaving the mass phlegmatic; they
will be condemned as antisocial . Perhaps in t heir place the
educators will have recourse to Bentham's suggestion of a
scholar-jury, scholar-suffrage, leaving it to the scholars them-
selves to determine by their votes the relative position of each
other in the school-room. That will be a proper extension of
the suffrage and will bring home to the minds of the pupils,
that all suffrage is a trust.

Conformably to that new ideal the scholars will be impressed
with gratitude for the blessings which all past generations
have conferred upon them, and it will be urged upon them
that they owe all to Societj^.

They will be taught how to utilize all the sources of happiness
which Nature and the Commonwealth supply, for the New
Order will want them to have many tastes and needs.

But especially will they be taught to perforin well their
functions in Society.

It will by that time be fully known, that a man trained for
one subject only never becomes a good judge in that one, even,
whereas enlightenment and enlargement of his circle gives
him increased power and knowledge in a rapidly increased
ratio. Therefore a harmonious and balanced cultivation of
all the faculties will be the first object. The pupils will be
taught all that is known, and though that field seems immense



230 EDUCATION.

they will easil} r master it, for they will be led to the bottom of
things and learn the fundamental laws and the conneetion of
phenomena. They will be profound and complete human be-
ing's, all of them. We are tending more and more in that di-
rection ; that is why such incomplete men and women, as Pu-
ritans and Quakers, have hardly any of their old-time influence
left.

Again, a great deal will be done in order to find out the pe-
culiar fitness of every child. Now next to nothing is done to
discover the natural aptitude of children, or to substitute choice
for chance in the allotment of the various social functions.
And so it may be said that the mistake which all teachers make
is to teach the same lesson in the same way to all.

But Goethe suggests in the second volume of his Wilhelm
Mcister, that every human being is born into the world with a
particular talent of some kind or other. In his opinion, it is
only requisite to recognize that particular talent in the child?
and foster it. in order to develop all its other faculties, and
that, if that talent be not found out and developed, it is the
fault ot the educator. lie grounds this suggestion of his on
the well-known pedagogic experience, that a teacher can suc-
ceed with even the dullest child, as soon as he manages
to win its interest for some object, whatever it may
be; in other words as soon as he succeeds in discovering
the drift of that inborn talent in the child. As soon. then, as a
scholar is incited to voluntary activity and finds out that he
is able to accomplish something in some one direction, it would
be comparatively easy to awaken his Self-confidence, so that
he will succeed in other respects. This special talent thus in-
sures the possibility that ever;/ healthy chila, male and female,
may have all its human faculties harmoniously developed.

Now we do not say, that it is remarkable that educators have
hitherto been entirely deaf to this important hint — for it is
not, considering the present ideal of education — but we can-
not help here to notice that an obscure teacher in Iloboken,
N. J., Dr. Adolph DouaL who, were the New Commonwealth
now in existence, would undoubtedly be found in the front
rank of its leading minds, has been the first and only profes-



EDUCATION. 231

sional educator who publicly has called attention to this sug
gestion. We may be sure that the Coming Commonwealth,
which can only furnish the necessary favorable conditions for
the verification of this thought, will not be slow to utilize it.
The institutions that have already shown themselves specially
adapted to the discovery and unfolding of these latent talents
in children, are the Kindergartens. Though as yet but compar-
atively few of them exist in our country or elsewhere, those
who teach in them have been able to discern in many children
geometrical talent and aptitude for the study of natural sci-
ences in whom otherwise nobody would probably ever have
suspected them. These Kindergartens the Cooperative Com-
monwealth will in all probability establish in all the nooks
and corners of the country, not to say in every family, as the
first and most important link in the chain of its educational
institutions.

Mr. Bain in his treatise on Education makes an important
observation which is pertinent here: "If from the beginning
one can interpolate five shades of discrimination of color where
another can feel but one transition, the careers of the two c;\n
be foreshadowed as widely apart. To observe this native in-
equality is important in predestining the child to this or that
line of special training."

This observation and predestination will be made in the Kin-
dergartens, where also a taste for manual work will be imbibed
at a very early age. Thereafter we suppose general education
and special training will accompany each other, under the eye
of the teacher, till the child reaches adult age. We judge so,
not merely from considering the natural requirements of the
Commonwealth, but from observing the various attempts that
now are being made to find a substitute for that slavish and
wasteful apprentice-system which happily is a thing of the
past, by founding industrial schools, so-called "developing
schools," and trying to make them a part of our common-
school system.

We do not know whether this hypothesis of Goethe, that all
normal men are capable of being educated up to the same
level of intelligence and knowledge, is true or not. We know



232 EDUCATION.

of no fact that militates against it, but think there are many
facts that confirm it. At all events, only the Interdependent
Commonwealth can furnish the necessary conditions for its
verification. Should it be found true, it is easy to see that it
will prove of tnnscendant significance as it will lay the foun-
dation for that perfect, absolute equality which is the ideal of
Socialism — and yet, mark what an unlikeness, what a variety
there will be!

As the boys will be really educated, so the girls will be. In
the New Commonwealth they will no longer be trained to
please the man-fool, or acquire only accomplishments which
give fullest scope to vanity, luxury and passion. No. they
will be equally fitted for their appropriate functions as mem-
bers of society, as wives and mothers, in institutions adapted for
them. The latter qualification is important, for the motto which
is the prominent characteristic of the modern American school-
system, that ''boys' and girls' schools should be one, and
that one the boys' will surely be rejected by the Com-
ing Commonwealth, as one against which physiology pro-
tests. But the future woman will, by methods and regi-
men adapted to her sex, reach the same plane of knowledge
and intelligence as man and in that way become his equal and
true companion. We shall then surely have complete men and
complete women.

But how can the State, when once it has taken charge of
education, draw a line where education ends and moral indif-
ference begins?

The great need of the age is to organize, diffuse and assim-
ilate that which is known. Humanity, indeed, does not now so
much need more isolated facts, as to understand how all these
facts are related to each other, and most of all. it needs to have
that deeper, real knowledge made common property. Then
first we can enjoy all the fruits of the tree of knowledge.
Then, more particularly, we shall again reach a substantial
agreement of opinion as to tills Universe in which we live,
what it means and what therefore is the part we ought to
play in it. The anarchy of opinion of this transitory age is
an enormous evil. Unity of belief is the normal condition of



EDUCATION. 233

the human intellect; it is just as natural for healthy men to
think and believe alike, as it is for healthy men to see alike.

When one. harmonious sentiment thrills through the whole
of Society, we may expect a revival of the aesthetic sense of
ancient Greece. This Gilded Age with its so-called %i promoters
of the arts " create prostitutes of art, who exercise it, not for
lov^e of it, but to •' make" money by it. Imagine if you can,
a Raphael painting a Madonna, or Phidias sculpturing an
Aphrodite for — profit! Art always is prostituted, when it
only serves the vanity of the rich. In the present age poets do
not sing for the masses, artists do not fashion their master-
pieces for the masses as during the Christian Middle Ages or
in classical Greece and Uome.

In Athens the whole people in the amphitheatre witnessed
the spectacles, here — how different it is ! We have expensive
theatres where our comfortable classes can idle away their
time, but, as Beecher says, they are not for the poor. The
theatre to which the poor have entrance is perhaps the most
vitiating of all social institutions. If there is anything that
needs the helping, the reforming hand of the Commonwealth
we should say it is the stage. It can be made the mightiest ed-
ucational instrument. In particular, manners and address can
be learned to perfection in the theatre, and only there.

MatthewArnold says, pointedly : •• A handful of Athenians
of two thousand years ago are more interesting than millions
of our contemporary nations — because they present us the
spectacle of a cultured people. It was the many in the highest
development of their humanity; the many who relished these
arts and were satisfied with nothing less than those monu-
ments."

So in the Cooperative Commonwealth where care is forever
banished art will once more belong in the midst of the people,
because of its eminently educational importance. lie who
has learned to appreciate the Beautiful will never after have a
taste for the Low. Art will re-enter into the open arena of
life.

But the greatest effect of this common education and com-
mon opinion will be the feeling of a common duty.



CHAPTER XII.



MORALS IN THE COOPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH.



"Ethics are the finest fruits of humanity but not its roots."

Matlock's New Republic.

"Man has it in his power by his voluntary actions to aid the


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 18 20 21 22 23

Online LibraryLaurence GronlundThe coöperative commonwealth in its outlines. An exposition of modern socialism → online text (page 18 of 23)