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classes, but of a number of different and unequal
parts, organs, tissues, etc., arranged as a whole. In
such an organism a single man, or a single stratum of
society, or the combination of a few individuals in
the pursuit of common aims, may attain a greater
importance than hundreds and thousands of ordinary
citizens. Even simple possession gives the owner a
far greater influence on the life of the whole than that
of the ordinary citizen ; it is just the same with
intelligence — the owners of it outweighing whole
troops of the masses.

This distribution of social influence might be con-
sidered just if we could say that it was rooted in the
nature of things, and that in this distribution capacity
and merit alone gave pre-eminence. Unfortunately,
this is so far from being the case that one feels more
disposed to say the contrary is the rule. This is true,
at least, of the possession of pro^Derty, niovea])le or
immoveable ; as is well known, it oscillates between
the utmost extremes, and leads to an inequality of the
citizens which runs counter to the interest of the whole.


This is the point where the analogy of the animal
and social organisms is most at fault, to the prejudice
of the latter. In the one case all "works together in
unison for the good of the whole, whilst unnatural
hindrances or local swellings immediately cause disease
and death. It is, at least in all the higher organisms,
an ideal form of collectivism ; in lower organisms the
independence of the parts is so great that when j^ou
cut one into pieces it continues to live. In the social
organism, on the other hand, individualism plays a
part which is prejudicial in man}- ways to the
interest of the whole. The large — sometimes whollv
immoderate — possessions of private property, with a
proportionate private influence, resemble the stoppages
or abscesses in the animal organism — with this differ-
ence, that they do not lead either to recover}- or death,
as in the animal, but continue untouched, and protected
by the law, to the prejudice of the whole. Instead of
returning to the whole, or to the blood of the social
organism, in a ceaseless interchange of fluid, or meta-
bolism, what they have received from it, they store it
up in special places, withdrawing it from the general
circulation, or else, through the slavery of interest,
remaining idle themselves and making others work
for them. ^Mien people set about showing the great
advantages of capital they should be careful to dis-
tinguish between private and collective capital. How-
ever beneficial the latter may be for the whole, that
cannot be said for the former. It is never directed
to the common good, but always used for private
advantage, and is only put out when a private gain is
in sight. The consequence is a continuous with-
drawal of blood for private ends, which greatly
weakens the whole. AYhen the workers and their


leaders declare capital to be their enemy, and declaim
against it, they are extremely short-sighted. Capital
is not their enemy, but their best friend — or might
be ; if all had capital, there \YOuld be no question of
anything but its beneficial character. Private capi-
talism is their enemy in so far as it forces them into
its private service without a corresponding return. A
juster distribution, or rather employment, of capital
in the interest of all would probably content every-
body, and solve a great part of our heavy social
problems. Not, indeed, that capital should be given
to each as property, but should rather be given as a
loan ; the community as a whole should, as the one
great capitalist of the social organism, meet all just
or necessary claims with the aid of its inexhaustible,
because constantly renewed, resources. In this way
we should realise the fine ideal that is given us in the
distribution of blood in the animal organism ; the
community, with its inexhaustible resources, extending
its beneficent influence to every — even the most distant
— part of the social organism. Schaffle, the famous
political economist, has the same thought in his
Quintessence of Socialism, where he advocates the
substitution of collective for private capital. There
must be a continual reversion, arranged on definite
principles, of private property into the possession of
the community, and thence a redistribution to
the periphery, or in favour of the individual. The
great State-treasury should be in a sense the
heart of the organism — on the one hand forcing its
fertilising and nourishing contents through countless
channels into the organs and tissues of the social
body, on the other hand reabsorbing it by as many
more channels and veins. Without the detested


Communistic " sharing," there would he a sort of
sharing taking place at every instance, and a condition
of things would he set up in which would he realised
the fine, oft-quoted phrase, " One for all and all for

It might he supposed that the idea of abolishing
private property was at the base of this programme.
That is by no means the case. On the contrary,
private property, or all that the individual has won
for himself by his zeal and industry, would remain
in his undisturbed possession to the moment of his
death, and would be interfered with as little as
possible by taxes and other contributions to the
State. Only w^hen the individual comes to the stage
when he can no longer make use of what he has
acquired would he be expected to return to the
community the surplus of what he has gained in and
throinfJi it. The collective resource raised in this
way forms (to use Nordau's expression) the immense
reservoir which assists the need of one from the
surplus of others, and incessantly smoothes out the
inequalities of property w^hich are ever arising ;
whereas the right of inheritance which has been
hitherto recognised not only fixes these inequalities,
but makes them more pronounced with each new

The restriction of hereditary rights or hereditary
capitalism, together with the restoration of the land
to the community, is one of the most familiar claims
of nearly all Socialist parties and writers ; moreover,
the simple death duties have long been regarded as
the most equitable and least oppressive form of taxa-
tion. This claim is not merely one of economic
propriety, but one also of social justice. No one will


question that all men, however different their char-
acters, come into the world with equal right to
existence ; this right is hardly respected when one is
born with a silver spoon in his mouth, another with
the pangs of hunger. The one is soon worth millions
in the balance, or can call his own a large portion of
the land that should belong to all ; the other stands
helplessly between heaven and earth, and would die
of hunger if he did not at once place at the service
of others more favourably situated the strength that
nature has given him. Heredity, or the right of the
individual to dispose of what he leaves behind, is not
an outcome of natural law, but an invention of later
times, probably of Roman origin ; in ancient Germany,
for instance, it was quite unknown. Learned investi-
gations as to the rise of the idea of property have
rather shown that communal ownership was its first
stage. It was Roman law, with its excessive emphasis
of individualism and the rights of personal ownership),
that abolished the earlier condition of things, and
pushed personal rights to their extreme conclusion
in the sense of personal egoism — a condition that still
weighs heavily on the shoulders of society. " Every
man for himself ! Let those who can help themselves !
Let those who cannot perish!" Such is the general
cry to-day ; the voices of the economically weak are
drowned in the din of the onward rush, and whoever
falls is trodden mercilessly under foot.

But let us return to the question of hereditary
rights. Such rights cannot claim to be unrestricted
and arbitrary, when it is remembered that the gain of
the individual is not a purely personal matter ; it is
only possible in society, and with its co-operation.
Nothing illustrates this better than the well-known


enormous increase in the value of land in the interior
and suburbs of growing towns ; it pours millions into
the coffers of the private owner without any action on
his part, but only injures the community, which is
the sole cause of the increase, by raising the rents of
the houses.

Naturally so drastic a social measure as the restric-
tion of hereditary rights could not be introduced
abruptly and suddenly, but must make its way gradu-
ally b}^ increasing progression. It might be left
undecided at first whether we should stop at restric-
tion, whether this restriction shou'.d gradually be
increased up to a total abolition of hereditary rights.

We find the chief advantage of the whole process
for the individual members of society in its equalising
justice, and in the circumstance that every man would
enjoy onty the fruit of his own zeal, care, and energy,
and not that of the industry or the good fortune of
his ancestors. The property which a man has
acquired by his own industry and econom}^ would be
untouched ; it is only that which one owes to the toil
or luck of others that would be kept within certain
limits. Even those who think the scheme impractic-
able cannot reproach it with injustice.

A further and not less appreciable advantage to the
State and society is that in this way an insuperable
limit would be put to the unnatural accumulation of
large private means in a few hands, which in a sense
constitute a State within the State, a power of gold in
opposition to the power of the State. The enormous
active and passive evils of such an accumulation are
obvious, and might be illustrated by striking examples
from modern life. They not only withdraw a great
part of its contents from the general circulation of


material, but have a direct injurious effect on the
social body, similar to the effect of obstructions or
local swellings on the health of the animal body.

But the State — that is to say, the totality of its
citizens — will lind its chief advantage in the fact that,
without being obliged to tighten the screw^s of taxa-
tion, it will find itself in possession of sufficient means
to carry out all the measures which the general
interest demands — such as the education and rearing
of children where the resources of the individual
family are inadequate, the abolition of all payment for
instruction, provision for widows and orphans, the
prevention of pauperism and blameless unemploy-
ment, the organisation of all the means of production,
the control of commerce (otherwise self-supporting
and as a rule without bounties), and finally the
organisation of the entire system of insurance against
age, sickness, accident, and death, and so on. When
we remember that, according to the returns of the
Prussian Minister of Finance, twelve hundred million
marks [.i'60,000,000] are inherited every 3^ear in
Prussia alone — and the calculation is probably much
below the mark, and should perhaps be more than
doubled — we can imagine how large would be the
yield of a proportionate death duty, together with the
State's revenue from ground-rents.

There are, of course, many objections to this kind
of taxation and its practicability, the chief of which
are, the fear of interfering with the instinct of
acquisition, the danger of encouraging prodigality,
the defeat of the law by gifts during life, and the
fear of weakening the principle of the family. A
full reply to these objections, which are not difricult
to meet, would take me beyond the limits of this essay.


I will only remark that the effect of the right of
heredity as a stimulus to work is, in comparison with
the right of private property, a somewhat subordinate
one. Although we hear people say day after day that
they are only working for their children, we should
be poorly acquainted with the human heart if we took
this literally in every case. Most people save up for
their own sake and for the pleasure of ownership, as
is clear from the fact that we find the greatest misers
amongst those who have no heirs in a direct line. It
would indeed be much more natural for those who
have acquired their wealth or comfort by their own
exertions to expect or desire the same efforts on the
part of their offspring, instead of sj)ending all their
strength in preparing a couch for them to loll on.
"We might take a lesson from the animals in this ;
they show a most scrupulous care for the feeding and
rearing of their young, but leave them to themselves
from the moment they are capable of maintaining
themselves by their own exertions.

The thirst for money and ownership has this unfor-
tunate quality, that it is not quenched, but increased,
by attainment. It easily leads to avarice, hard-
heartedness, and selfishness ; only in exceptional
cases does it prove the opportunity of doing good to
others or serving the interest of the general com-

All this would be most beneficially counteracted
by a carefully-applied law of death-duties, and the
wealth of the nation would be unceasingly returned
from the possession of individuals to its proper source
— that is, to the bosom of the nation, which will
provide for the young wherever such provision is
required. Such a law would set a limit to excessive


parsimony, covetousness, and avarice, and to useless
storing up and undue accumulation of dead wealth —
wealth that has been withdrawn from circulation — in
the hands of individuals, without adversely aftecting
the individual's stimulus to acquire, which depends
on love of work, pleasure in personal possession, and
the first provision for offspring. " Because," as
Professor Hallier pertinently remarks, " there is
hardly anything more dishonourable than to regard
work as a burden, and fail to appreciate it for its
own sake. For the man who is sound in bod}^ and
mind work is the greatest luxury in life. And shall
the rich be so lacking in honour as to sit in the chair
of idleness, because he knows that if he acquires more
it will not go to the ruin of his children, but to the
good of the State and of his fellow citizens *? If a
man has inherited wealth, he is doubly and triply
bound to prove himself worthy of his fortune by

In truth the consciousness that he is working, not
merely for himself and his family, but likewise for the
good of the community, the fortune of his fellows,
and the end of the State, should prove a higher and
nobler stimulus to the individual than the mere satis-
faction of selfish instincts. A condition which has
unhappily not yet been realised, in which the
happiness of the individual is so bound up with the
happiness of the community that they mutually deter-
mine each other, and that what the individual seems
to lose on the one hand he receives back with interest
on the other — that is the ideal of a future constitution
of the State and society, which, if it were realised,
would put an end to all the dreams of a Utopian


It is a familiar fate of great men that, being beyond
their time and its intelligence, they are not understood
by their contemporaries, and sink into the grave
without witnessing the triumph of their ideas. It is
reserved for later generations to grant them the honour
which was denied them during life. One of the most
conspicuous examples of this is the fate of the famous
predecessor of Darwin, Lamarck, who put forward
and defended in his Philosophie Zoologique (1809), at
the very beginning of the century, and therefore long
before Darwin, the main outlines of the now accepted
theory of the evolution of the organic world in opposi-
tion to the then dominant dogma of the immutability
of species. Up to that time only a few isolated
thinkers had expressed the opinion that the actual
forms of life might have descended by gradual trans-
formation from earlier types. But they could make
no greater headway against the prevailing prejudice
than Lamarck himself, who saw a few weak spots in
his reasoning seized upon for the purpose of holding
up his whole theory to the ridicule of his contem-
poraries. The philosophic view of nature which
Lamarck had introduced had to give way to the
purely empirical attitude taken up especially by
Cuvier. It was not until forty years after the famous
struggle on February 22nd, 1830, in the Parisian


Academy, between Cuvier and his colleague, Geoffroy
St. Hilaire, which ended in favour of the former, and
which so much interested Goethe, that Darwin's
famous work on The Orir/in of Species brought the
question once more before the tribunal of the scientific
^yorld, and secured a decision against Cuvier.

Poor Lamarck did not live to see this triumph of
his ideas. He died in poverty and oblivion on
December 18th, 1829, at the age of eighty-five, after
spending the last seventeen years of his life in blind-
ness, caused by small-pox. But Darwdn's brilliant
success would scarcely have proved a source of great
pleasure or satisfaction to him, because Darwin
followed an entirely different way from his forerunner
in his attempts to explain the causes of the trans-
formation of species ; instead of the independence of
the individual, which Lamarck advocated, he laid
more stress on its passive behaviour in face of the
transforming influences ; though he generally agreed
with him as to heredity, adaptation, deviation from
specific type, the catastrophic theory, and other
matters. On the other hand, he made a great and
important stride beyond Lamarck wdth his famous
theory of natural selection in the struggle for

However, even Darwin's teaching, so much admired
and appraised at first, has fallen into some disfavour^
and l)ecome a subject of criticism. In particular it
has been thought possible to call into question the
universality of natural selection, and its determining
influence on the formation of new species, without
daring to extend this doubt to the theory of evolution
itself, supported as it is by philosophic arguments.
The theory itself seems to be firmly established in the


judgment of all competent thinkers ; but there is a
great divergence of opinion as to the inner working
and determining influences of development.

In such a state of things it was only natural that
the half-forgotten Lamarck should be recalled to
mind, and it should be asked if his theory had not
been more correct than Darwin's on a number of
points. In point of fact quite a school of Neo-
Lamarckism has been founded as a result of this
inquiry ; in America especially it has found a large
number of supporters amongst the scientists of that
country, who have an abundance of palseontological
material at their disjDOsal. One of the most dis-
tinguished of these is the Professor of Zoology and
Comparative Anatomy at the University of Penn-
sylvania, Mr. E. D. Cope, who has given the fullest
credit to the great French naturalist in his able
work on The Causes of Orfjanic Development (1896).
Lamarck was the first to prove, as Cope justly says,
that "nature, in bringing forth all kinds of animals,
beginning with the lowest and ending with the highest,
has improved their organisation gradually, and that
these animals, in spreading over every part of the
habitable earth, were subject to the influence of their
environment, and were modified in form and habits by
this influence." Lamarck assigns as the chief causes
of this transformation the use and disuse of particular
parts or organs in the course of long periods of time,
and the transmission by heredity of the changes thus
effected. A striking example of the effect of the use
and disuse of organs is found in the case of blind
subterraneous animals, whose organ of sight has
degenerated and become useless through perpetually
living in darkness. The proof of the explanation is


that the eyes of the young of these animals are much
larger in proportion to the body than in the case of
adults, which often lose all trace of the organ with the
advance of age ; and that their embryos have, to an
extent, normally-developed eyes.

Moreover, as Professor A. S. Packard, of the Brown
University, has shown in an excellent article on Neo-
Lamarckism, Lamarck also took into account the
influence of Darwin's natural selection. His views
and illustrations have unfortunately often been carica-
tured or misunderstood. When, for instance, he
alleges that birds which were compelled to seek their
food in the water gradually adapted their characters
to this need, he does not mean that an isolated bird
gradually acquired web-feet, or long legs, or a long
neck ; but that this result was attained in the course
of a long series of generations by selection of the
adapted individuals. Or, when Lamarck is credited
with the assertion that the giraffe has acquired its
long neck by continually stretching after the foliage
of high trees, that is not quite correct. Lamarck
merely says that the giraffe lives in arid, grass-less
wastes, and so is compelled to stretch out its neck
constantly after the foliage of high trees ; and that,
when this habit continues for a long series of genera-
tions, the fore limbs become longer than the hind, and
the neck is lengthened. Darwin explains this, as is
well known, by saying that certain individuals which
happened to have longer necks survived their fellows
in a time of scarcity or famine, and transmitted this
feature to their offspring. But this natural selection
in the struggle for existence is not a vera causa or an
active factor. It is only an expression for the out-
come of a series of factors, which Lamarck had already



indicated, though he had not the powerful assistance
of modern morphology, embryology, physiology, and
palaeontology, and the facts of geographical distribu-
tion. These factors are: changes in the environment,
such as habitation, climate, ground, food, temj)erature,
light, etc., and adaptation to them in the course of
long periods of time ; needs (which are much misun-
derstood in the Lamarckian meaning) ; the use or
disuse of organs ; the struggle for maintenance (not
so clearly indicated as by Darwin) ; the inheritance of
variations which have arisen (emphasized just as
strongly as by Darwin) ; the fixing of these variations
by the crossing of similar individuals ; geographical
change — all this in connection with the assumption
of the spontaneous generation, probably still taking
place, of the lowest forms of life in early ages, and
the existence of a law of progressive development
notwithstanding some or many indi^ddual cases of
degeneration. Lamarck rejected the theory of great
geological catastrophes or revolutions which prevailed
until the time of Lyell, attacked the notion of a special
" vital force," explained instinct as an outcome of
inherited habit, and indicated the cellular tissue as
the parent of everything organic and the nervous
system as the source of all the acts of the intelligence.
Finally, he contended that the will was never really free.
It is obvious that Lamarck was leagues in advance
of the natural-philosophic ideas of his time ; if
Darwin, otherwise so accurate, does not do full
justice to his great predecessor, that is probably
because, as Packard says, he had not made a suffi-
ciently thorough study of his works. Packard calls
Lamarck a true prophet of the future, who lived fifty
years before his time. It is his distinguished work in


systematic zoology which brought him recognition
and the name of the Linne of France. If we attribute
to what Lamarck has left us the colossal enlargement
of our knowledge and expansion of our ideas since
that time, we enter the field of opinion which Neo-
Lamarckism represents. According to its partisans,
it rests on a much wider basis than Darwinism, which
would have no ground for the play of natural selec-
tion and the struggle for life without the factors
introduced by Lamarck. " It is clear," says Packard,
" that these Lamarckian factors taken together form
the foundation on which natural selection rests ; with-
out their action the worlds of plants and animals

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