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THE

International Scientific Series

VOL. XLV.



THE



SCIENCE OF POLITICS



BY



SHELDON AMOS, M.A.

BARRISTER-AT-LAW ; AUTHOR OF 'THE SCIENCE OF LAW' ETC.; LATE PUOFESSOK

OF JURISPRUDENCE IN UNIVERSITY CUL,LSGE, LONDON, AND TO THE

INNS OF COURT ; LATE EXAMINER IN CONSTITU'HONAL

HISTORY TO THE UXIA'SRSITY OF LONDON



THIED EDITION




KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER, & CO. Ltd.
1890






4^ J"2^ ^^cf"



{The rights of translation and of reproduction are reserved)



PEEFACE.



I HAVE done my best to avoid tlie temptation of con-
stnicting an ideal polity founded on mere guesses and
hopes.

That there is an ideal polity for each State, if not
one for all States, I steadfastly believe. But it is only
to be discovered in the paths of history and observa-
tion.

In passing from the ' Science of Law ' to that of
Politics, some change of method is inevitable, owing to
the superior complexity and larger range of the subject-
matter. But the exercise, once become familiar in the
narrower field, of applying a severe terminology and
logical process to ethical notions will be found of the
highest service in the wider field.

A two years' journey round the world, in the course
of which I visited the chief centres of political life,
ancient and modern, in Europe, America, Australasia,
Polynesia, and North Africa, has not only helped me
with illustrations, but has been of no small use in
stimulating thought.

Alexandkia.



VUl CONTENTS.



♦ CHAPTER VIII.






PAGE


THE GOVERNMENT OF DEPENDENCIES . . .


. . 311


CHAPTER IX.




FOREIGN RELATIONS . c -,


342



I



CHAPTER X.

A

THE PROVINCE OF GOVERNMENT 371 \



CHAPTER XI.

REVOLUTIONS IN STATES 427

CHAPTER Xn.

RIGHT AND WRONG IN POLITICS 447

INDEX 485



'V^?.^^






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'ORltl^



THE

SCIENCE OF POLITICS.

CHAPTER I.

KATURE AND LIMITS OP THE SCIENCE OP POLITICS.

The process of the strictly physical sciences in modern
|times has had a two-fold influence on the advancement
of those branches of knowledge which deal less with
ihysical than with moral, social, and political facts.
3n the one hand, the exact methods and indisputable
conclusions of the sciences conceraed with matter have

fiaugurated modes of study and enquiry which are
elieved to be of universal application. On the other
jiand, the standard of rigorous logic in all studies is so
ar exalted that those subjects of thought or investi-
gation which do not conform to identically the same
standard as that maintained for the study of matter
are thought to be not worth pursuing with any regard
to the claims of a severe logical process. This sort of
antipathy between the physical and the ethical regions
of search and argument has been intensified by the co-
existence of two opposed orders of minds, the ardently
speculative and the persistently practical. The former



i



THE SCIENCE OF POLITICS.



are discontented with the notion of a so-called Scienc
of Politics because of the complexity of the subjecii
matter, and the intrusion, at all points, of such seeming!
incalculable factors as the will and passions of mankind
Practical statesmen, again, immersed in actual business
and oppressed by the ever-recurring presence of nev
emergencies, almost resent the notion of applying th
comprehensive principles of science, and still more th
conjectural use of foresight, in respect of subject
which, for them, are in ceaseless flux, and can, at best
only be safely and wisely handled by momentarily
adjusted contrivances.

Between these two extreme classes lies all the larg«'
portion of society composed of p^soris with minds
less distinctly determined and trained in one directioii
or the other, and therefore all the more open to bo
impressed by influences derived from sound thinker^
and energetic workers, but experiencing these influence
only in a loose and diluted form. The aggregate]
result is that the subject of Politics fl^oats in th<|
public mind either as a mere field for ingenious chican*'}
or as a bbundless waste for the evolutions of scholastic
phantasy. If Politics are to be vindicated from th^
aspersions cast upon them from the opposite quarter!
here indicated, and are ever to be erected into a sciencL
with its own appropriate methods and limitations, the
foundation of these sceptical suspicions must be in-
vestigated and their real value strictly assessed. The|
investigation will proceed as follows. *

1. One obvious class of objections to the possibility
of applying rigorous scientific > methods to Politics is
founded on the number and nature of the component
and preparatory studies which are presupposed in



NATURE AND LIMITS OY THE SCIENCE OE POLITICS. 3

all strict enquiries into tlie theory of Government.
Assuming that the physical sciences, — beginning (say)
with astronomy and ending with physiology or psycho-
logy, — have reached a strictly scientific stage, there yet
remain, as properly leading the way to the study of
Politics, all those branches of knowledge which depend
oii. tlie composite nature of man both as isolated and as
in society. Such are Ethics in the Aristotelian sense,
comprehending as topics decorum and propriety as well
as duty ; political economy, which deals with the con-
ditions under which national wealth is produced,
accumulated, and distributed; law and legislation,
(sometimes comprised under the general head of juris-
prudence) which deal with the essential nature, logical
distribution, and historical growth of the general rules
of conduct which all Governments maintain and enforce ;
and lastly, the somewhat novel science of Sociology,
which deals with the inherent problems to which the
aggregation of mankind into groups gives rise, so far
as these problems can be abstracted and treated inde-
pendently of Government.

This list of studies, which might be multiplied and
varied to any extent according to individual proclivities,
encloses large areas of knowledge over the subjects of
which the human will and human passions must have, at
least in the course of ages and in passing from country
to country, an amount of influence which seems to set
scientific ;^recision at defiance. Nevertheless, and in
spite of all the controversies waged among those who
prosecute these sttidies, there is no doubt that in all these
pursuits the most searching and exact methods, so far as
they are applicable, are beginning to be used, and the
certainty and universality of the sequence of cause and

B 2



4 THE SCIENCE OF POLITICS.

effect, — that is, of Laws of Nature, — to be recognised
as a premise.

The extension of the like severity of process to
political studies is mainly delayed by the constantly
disappointing incompleteness of the constituent and
preparatory studies just enumerated. A Science of
Politics, indeed, has its own special sources of em-
barrassment, owing, among other things, to the necessity
of co-ordinating in one view all the conclusions dedueible
from those other, and as it were introductory, researches.
Of course this process of combination abounds with it?
own manifold opportunities of error ; but this fact need
no more produce despair than the composite quality
of physiology leads the student to be sceptical of the
scientific character of enquiries into the constitution
of the animal world.

There is a vast difference between calling a branch
of knowledge a science, because it can only be profitably
studied by the use of the same logical methods as are
indispensable in the mastery of the best-established phy-
sical sciences, and being, as yet, scientifically cultivated,
or advanced in outward form to the full proportions
.of a maturely developed science. It may be, indeed,
that, from a number of causes to be shortly adverted
to. Politics will always present an appearance neither
homogeneous nor, in one sense, exact. !3ut these de-
fects neither impair the genuine truth of the universal
laws to which the topic is submitted, nor ought to
convey any imputation on the only methods serviceable
in treating it.

Admitting as a provisional and practical postulate
the freedom of the human will, it might indeed seem to
be impossible, on the face of it, to bring within the



NATUEE AJsJ) LIMITS OF THE SCIENCE OF POLITICS. 5

domain of stringent scientific methods any class of
materials largely conversant with the direct actions
and emotions of mankind. But there are certain cor-
rections which reduce the significance of any sceptical
conclusions which might be drawn.

In the first place, the more extensively and minutely
i^iistorical studies are carried on and the investigations
of travellers pursued and recorded, the more uniform
does human nature appear, and the more calculable are
the actions, sentiments, and emotions of large classes
of mankind, when the antecedents and surrounding con-
ditions are ascertained. So far as political enquiries
are concerned, it is more with classes, groups, and
assemblages of men, and with considerable stretches
of' time, than with any individual men at a given ^
moment that the investigator is occupied. Thus thee
historical method, in proportion as it is extensively
pursued, contains in itself its own correctives.

But in the second place, if the researches of his-
torians and the reports of travellers contain an endless
and boundless mass of facts which seem rather to
increase the list of human eccentricities than to reduce
it by discovering a dominant order and an integral unit
of progress and purpose, yet here again the problem of
finding a scientific form for the theory of Government
is on the whole simplified rather than otherwise. As
explorations of all sorts are multiplied and extend,
they take the place of the logical instrument of ex-
periment ; and the result of them is that a limited
number of propositions are evolved which admit of
being announced with a fair assurance of their uni-
versality. If the area of observation be limited, the
truths reached will, indeed, be proportionately restricted



6 THE SCIENCE OF POLITICS.

in number, but within this area they will be none the
less valid.

Thus, in the science of Political Economy, it is not
universally true that, in all conditions of society, popu-
lation tends to increase out of proportion to the means
of subsistence ; for the effective desire of individual
self- enrichment constitutes in certain conditions a
reparative and compensating force. So in Law, it is
not everywhere true that a human being is, in a legal
sense, a person and not a thing ; or that laws proceed
from a consciously acting Political Authority ; or that
it is recognised as an axiom that taxation and repre-
sentation go together. The several propositions here
chosen by way of illustration from two of the component
sciences which, with others, go to constitute the com-
plete range of political studies, and help to convert those
studies into a separate science, are only partially and
relatively true at certain places and periods. But, within
these limits of time and place, their truth, and the truth
of all like propositions, is invariable and incontestable.

Thus if tlie^ composite nature of Politics impairs the
universality of the majority of the propositions with
which it is concerned, this only establishes the rela-'
tivity of these studies, and in no wise detracts from
their usefulness or supersedes the employment of those
rigorous logical methods which in other respects continue
to be applicable.

^-^. Another reason which accounts for the unscientific
aspect under which political studies usually present
themselves is that it very rarely happens, or has hap-
pened, that conscious attention to the^^true character of
Governmental problems, to their difficulties, and to the
modes of their solution, is aroused in any nation till



NATUEE AND LIMITS OF THE SCIENCE OF POLITICS. 7

long after a practical solution of some kind lias been
instinctively resorted to, and a considerable advance
in the art of administration achieved.

An exception might be supposed to exist in the
case of colonies and dependencies, at the first founda-
tion of which all the materials seem to be within
the conscious control of the parent or governing State.
But it is just on this very account that theoretical truths
have here their most hopeful platform, and are habitually
applied in practice to an extent which, because of un-
noticed but vitiating errors of calculation, is often
fraught with serions hazard. The Cornwallis settle-
ment in Bengal, the early land policy of the Australian
Colonies, and the attempted central taxation of the
American Colonies by the British Parliament, are all
instances of the over-hasty application, to materials
believed to be malleable, of firmly fixed political princi-
ples. The principles themselves, indeed, in all these
cases, needed re-examination and re-statement.

The obstacles to at once applying even the best-
established principles of Government in all conceivable
emergencies, so soon as conscious attention happens
to be awakened to the national needs, are sufficiently
obvious. It is not only that the principles them-
selves usually demand modification in view of the
circumstances of the people and of the day, but that
the greatest allowance must always be made in all
political reforms for the influence of fixed sentiments
and habits. It also may happen that bad institutions,
— such as a bad poor-law system, or, in the criminal
law, a falsely conceived relationship between crimes
and punishments, — may have generated a vast and
complex web of affiliated ideas, customs, institutions.



8 THE SCIENCE OF POLITICS.

and laws, which can severally be neither defended in
principle nor yet rudely disdained and cast aside.

For not only do custom and habit enable a people, or
classes of a people, to work in long established grooves
with the smallest amount of friction and obstruction ;
but the mere fact of theJong existence of a familiar
usage so far fashions in its own image the mind, and
even the conscience, of a people, that a critical reformer
has a hard and unpopular task to perform in assaulting
even the most indefensible abuses. The large mass of
the people, if disused to political change of any but
the most cautious, slow, and tentative kind, have
their sentiments of loyalty and reverence outraged
by the sudden introduction of what is new and un-
familiar. Their mind has been trained and pruned
in such a way as to be unable to conceive, as a mere
intellectual notion, a better ordered world than that
in which they live. Where too great a disparity both
in sentiments and in intellect exists between the re-
former and the people, or even between different classes
of the people in the same community, it may show
that the times are not yet ripe for changes recom-
mended by deference to the claims of logic and of
justice.

Instances in point are supplied by the difficulties
experienced by the British Indian Government in dealing
with such patently immoral institutions as polygamy ;
by the attachment of the Scotch to a law of mamage
which notoriously facilitates the most cruel of frauds ;
and by the obstacles in all countries to any com-
prehensive reconstruction of the systems of land-tenure
and inheritance, and of civil, and still more of crimi-
nal, procedure. These last-mentioned institutions have



NATUEE AXD LIMITS OF THE SCIENCE OF POLITICS. 9

seldom been radically altered in any country by any
process short of revolution, however persuasive the
voice of right, of reason, and of utility, in favour of
change. So vast is the number of individual persons
interested in these classes of matters, so well habituated
are they, and consequently so deei)ly attached, to the
recognised forms, usages, or even gestures, customarily
in use, — many of which" are of a public nature and are
daily witnessed by all men, — that any vital re-con-
struction seems little short of sacrilege, and the most
conclusive reasons in favour of.it are scarcely compre-
hensible.

-^3^' It is needless to point out that the conception of
Politics as a Science is much affected by the imperfec-
tions of Politics as a practical Art. It is not only
by reason of the existence of ineradicable institutions
and ideas that the scientific development of political
studies is hampered and delayed. There is another
reason of a still more commanding importance which
operates in the same direction with a stiU more signal
force. It is that, at any given moment, when the legis-
lator, or administrator, would otherwise most desire to
govern with due regard to well-established principles
dictated by abstract political science, he is imperatively
urged on to the front, and impelled into action, by the
pressing necessity of instantly choosing between a
limited number of possible alternative courses. Most
of all is this the case in what are sometimes called
constitutionally-governed coufitries, — that is, countries
in which representative institutions have reached a
tolerable degree of advancement, and political know-
ledge and interest are widely diffused. In these circum-
stances a spontaneous organisation of political leaders



10 THE SCIENCE OF POLITICS.

and their respective followers into parties for tlie pur-
pose of uniform and combined action is sure to have
taken place.

The result is, that an artificial effort will be made,
at each critical occurrence which seems to call for the
intervention of the Government, to narrow the possible
courses of action to a very few immediately intelligible
expedients, recommended rather by their rough con-
formity to some pre-existing schemes or ideals in favour
with the different contending parties than by their in-
trinsic harmony with scientific requirements. No doubt
the party leader who is himself imbued with a scientific
spirit, and is personally disposed to do as little violence
as possible to his cultured instincts, will do his utmost
to bring all his measures into the shape which his
logical and historical training, applied to all the cir-
cumstances of the special case, leads him to desire. But
action at once and without farther delay is unavoidable.
A decision can only be deferred at the cost either
of letting go the opportunity for providing a remedy
of some sort for a possibly crying abuse ; or of openly
confessing impotency ; or of surrendering to others a
leadership which, with all its demerits, is probably
believed to be, on the whole, fraught with good rather
than with evil. Thus the peremptoriness of political
opportunities, and the necessity of instant action, with-
stand, in a country with free representative institutions,
every effort to impart to political action through a
long period a comprehensive, consistent, and scientific
cha-racter.

It is no wonder if the same class of facts re-acts on
the intellectual conception of the position of Politics as
a subject of study and of knowledge.



NATUKE AXD LIMITS OF THE SCIENCE OF POLITICS. 11

The topic is naturally relegated to the region of
caprice and accident, or to that of tentative experiment
and spasmodic contrivance. This intellectual conse-
quence is intensified by the fact that all Governments,
— and not least those known at the present day as the
freest and, on the whole, the soundest, — are habitually
made the arena of purely ambitious contention, of
selfislL aspiration, and even of corrupt conspiracies
against the public well-being. The wider the terri-
torial area of any particular Government, and the more
complicated and extensive its essential mechanism,
the more opportunity there is for the exhibition of
personal or, at the most, of local self seeking. So
far as this prevails. Politics become degraded into a
mere vulgar struggle for money, office, or power. All
actual reference to scientific considerations is excluded.
The tone of public thought and sentiment becomes
proportionately infected, and all the claims which
might otherwise be asserted on behalf of Politics to
take its place by the side of other sciences dealing with
such moral elements as the human Will meet with a
sceptical repudiation.

Where free representative institutions are not
found, and absolutism of one type or another prevails,
the way is more open for a deliberate choice of the
policy to be pursued in any sudden emergency. Such
a case has presented itself, again and again, on the
occurrence of famines in British India. Could such a
casualty occur without being long foreseen in a country
enjoying a popular constitution, the question of reme-
dies would be instantly debated in every kind of public
assembly, and by all the organs of public opinion, with a



12 THE SCIENCE OF POLITICS.

ferment of party zeal which would daily gain in heat and
vehemence, and would impel statesmen to select with
over much precipitation between the limited number of
remedial measures which enjoyed, for one cause or
another, the popular favour.

The legislation demanded in the case of a failure ot
the potato-crop in Ireland has more than once illus-
trated this position. One party advocates the institution
of public works, of a purely wasteful or superfluous
kind, on an enormous scale ; another is in favour of in-
discriminate outdoor relief; a third recommei^ds, with
the late Lord George Bentinck, the construction at the
public cost of railways, with the purpose at once of
employing labour on a large scale and of distributing
food. However much a judicious statesman may be
opposed to all these views, yet for fear of being reduced
to nullity, and of having to give place to opponents,
he can only connect his own name with, and invite
the adhesion of his followers to, what seems on the
whole the least objectionable of the popular alter-
natives. The utmost he can do is to combine different
courses in such a way as that some special evil of one
may neutralise some greater evil of another, and to
introduce modifications which may escape general atten-
tion, but which none the less go some way, at least, to
qualify the mischievous operation of the scheme, a pro-
fessed adoption of which cannot be evaded.

It will depend, of course, very largely on the con-
stitutional circumstances of the country how far, even
in the case of a pressing emergency, the art of politics
may be made to comply with the requirements of
scientifically ascertained laws. Where a large and
promiscuous population has to be satisfied or must be



NATUEE AND LIMITS OF THE SCIENCE OF POLITICS. 13

appealed to by statesmen for political support, the
measures must be instantly intelligible and not too far
removed in their conception from the average ken of
mankind as represented then and there. The ulterior
objects proposed must not belong to a too distant
future : the pursuit of them must not involve what
seem to most people excessive or disproportionate
sacrifices : they must easily and obviously connect
themselves with the common wants and feelings of the
many at the moment, rather than with the (seemingly)
problemtt-tical aspirations of a few in the indefinite
future.

The case is different where popular government has
not yet established itself, and where, in consequence,
none of the above obstacles, even at a critical juncture
calling for the immediate intervention of the legislator
or administrator, are presented. But the exemption of
the statesman or ruler from the checks of popular
control of a constitutional kind by no means ensures
a deference to purely scientific demands. Timidity,
rashness, prejudice, personal rivalries, and the still
less worthy influences of calculating self-interest or of
a narrow ambition, dwarf and vitiate a policy not less
surely than do the impediments due to popular ignor-
ance and incompetence. The statesman, in the one
case as in the other, is bound to act, — and this too with-
out delay ; and, though a scientific resolution cannot
be excluded, yet, from one cause or another, the tempta-
tions to deviate to this or that side are numerous and
urgent. There have indeed been statesmen who have
so far impressed their own personality on their policy,
and communicated their views and aspirations to the
bulk of the governing population that, at special



14 TIIE SCIENCE OF POLITICS.

exigencies, the public confidence previously won has
enabled them vto dictate a course scarcely comprehended
by the people at large. Such a position was occupied
on certain occasions by Count Cavour in Italy, Presi-
dents Lincoln and Grant in the United States, even to



Online LibrarySheldon AmosThe science of politics → online text (page 1 of 35)