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Strange as it may seem, it is nevertheless true that the commissioners approach their task in the spirit of men searching for a grievance —or at least for an evil. When Jenner turned his attention to smallpox, or when Dr. Pasteur embarked upon his successful investigation of hydrophobia, they both might have considered themselves, as indeed they no doubt did, authorized by all mankind to find a cure for an unmitigated curse. So, apparently with the Commissioners. They are instructed, as clearly as if they held the lengthiest and most circumstantial brief ever consigned to green bag, to find the cure for an evil if it can be found in railroad offices. Their instructions come from the state of politics in this country at the present time, which makes it necessary to regard the low price of anything as an evil, while the low price of corn must be viewed as a disease that will very likely prove fatal to the nation. A generation cannot grow up to manhood and middle age under the influence of an overwhelming public sentiment without being, let us say, somewhat affected by the environThe protection of the farmer from the tendency prices sometimes display to fall on his head, is the unum necessarium of the American politician, and as he is, so are we all, for we are nothing if not politicians. Hence, I say, the Com. missioners go to New York and Omaha thoroughly instructed, if they find anything, to find the remedy for an overwhelming evil. Some persons used to insist that cheap corn meant cheap bread, and that cheap bread meant plenty for those who wanted it—namely, for the hungry. But these have been silenced long ago, and the opinion is now quite unanimous that the price of corn must be raised—that is, the price paid to the farmer. To the scientific mind it may be rather difficult to discern why the price to the farmer should be raised, rather than to the miller or the provision-merchant, these appearing
equally deserving members of society. To the political mind, on the contrary, it is perfectly obvious that the farmer is the one who must have his returns increased, while the price to the consumer should be kept down, if possible, as well as may be. Whoever stands between the farmer and eonsumer must be squeezed, and if any profit can be pressed out of him, it shall be passed back to the farmer. Meanwhile, farmers in Nebraska are burning their corn, not being able to sell it at any price; which is rather an uncomfortable fact for those who have to raise his selling price. But this fact must be passed over lightly by the political mind, whose energy must now be concentrated on the buyers and sellers that stand between the farmer and the hungry man. One of these intermediaries is the railroad. The railroad sells time to the Nebraska farmer-at 38 cents a bushel.
So the Commissioners have been sent out by a generous government, at $7500 a year apiece, to look for the low price of corn-in railroad offices. Because, before you can prescribe a remedy, you must locate the disorder somewhere or other. The business of the Commission, then, is to locate the disorder-Congress will apply the cure by and by.
There is something especially plausible about looking for the low price of corn in a railroad office. It needs no divining rod to point that way, the farmers themselves have indicated where they thought the trouble lay. If any one chooses to suspect that the farmers will naturally lay hands on something within easy reach, rather than wait for the approach of distant causes, I shall not try to dispell the suspicion. Nevertheless the low price of corn may lie concealed somewhere in a railroad office, and the Commissioners go instructed to find it there if possible. We may feel tolerably confident that they will find something.
But if the search should prove fruitless,
if the Commissioners find that railroad shares pay but little if any better than farming, whither will Congress then direct its penetrating gaze? To the Moon very likely but surely last of all to its own records. For has it not spent the better part of a generation inventing protective props to prevent prices falling about the farmer's head?
As to those penny-wise Democrats who favored the establishment of the Interstate Commerce Commission, let them ponder on the direction which this has given to the complaints of agricultural depression. If the energy of dispair could all concentrate on the Tariff, instead of being dissipated in vain investigations of railroads, the low price of corn might be discovered there.
AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO SOCIALISTS.
The recent Imperial Rescript of the of the German Emperor has deservedly attracted a great deal of attention throughout the world. The treatment of Socialistic ideas by the German Government is a curious bit of history, though perhaps not unparalleled. Governments, especially monarchical governments, are not usually very receptive of new ideas, and so the ideas have to make their way in spite of governmental opposition. But here was a case where the government, after a more or less strenuous, attempt to stamp out the ideas, suddenly confiscated them.
The ideas, in their political aspects at least, are such as would not be abhorrent to an imperial government with leanings towards despotism; they are opposed to the general movement towards individual liberty which has been spreading through Europe since the Middle Ages, implying, as they do, an exaltation of government and a complete subjection of the individual. These ideas are, moreover, well adapted to the nature of the German people" that disciplinable and much disciplined people," as Matthew Arnold.
The following sentence of the Rescript is the one which is the most striking and which has called out the widest comment: "It is the duty of the State so to regulate the duration and the nature of labor as to insure the health, the morality, and the supply of all the economic wants of the working men, and preserve their claims to equality before the law." This surely ought to satisfy the demands of the Socialists, and also those of the most ultra Imperialists. For in order that the State may perform this duty its power and intelligence must be supreme-must be equal to that power without whose cognizance not even a sparrow falls to the ground. One of the postulates of Political Economy is that labor is irksome; evidently one of the first regulations as to the nature of labor should be to remove its irksomeness. The proposition practically implies the Socialistic doctrine of the nationalization of capital; for if the State is to insure to the laborer the satisfaction of his economic wants, it must possess that with which to supply them, and must also, of course, provide work for the unemployed.
It may be remarked in passing that the means suggested to insure the health and morality of laborers appears inadequate; they must be induced to observe physiological laws for the former, and the nature of the laborers as well as of labor will have to be regulated to insure their morality.
Still, though the Emperor may have "caught up these ideas in a hurry," as the Evening Post suggests, he will be able to lay at least part of the blame upon
the wise men, the younger school of "scientific" political economists, if things turn out badly. Macaulay remarks with his usual fondness for antithesis, that there are two errors; that of judging the present by the past, and that of judging the past by the present; the former is the worse in a statesman; the latter in a historian. The historical school of Political Economy seems just now to be largely given over to the former error. If only they can get a vast collection of facts, that is all that is required. No classification is necessary; indeed the belief that no classification is possible is implied in their doctrine of the functions of the State as expressed by Professor Ingram. "Whenever social aims can be attained only or most advantageously through its action, that action is justified. The cases in which it can properly interfere must be determined separately on their own merits and in relation to the stage of national development." By and by perhaps the stage of classification will be reached and later the stage of interpretation. Then it will be possible to say that certain kinds of State-interference are injurious and ought not to be exercised in an industrial society, and it will not be necessary to decide each case on its own merits any more than it is necessary for the physician nowadays to decide each case on its own merits as to whether he shall resort to bleeding.
Meanwhile there is nothing to be done but to try experiments and thus leave as large a body of facts as possible for future generations to generalize from. The object proposed is certainly a laudable one -to insure the health, morality, and the satisfaction of the needs of laborers- and it has not hitherto been attained by any other agency; moreover it is not different in kind from the jumble of blessings which, Professor Ingram tells us, these political economists are agreed the State ought to attempt to secure, such as intellectual and æsthetic culture, the proper
conduct of production and transport, the protection of the weaker members of society, and other totally disconnected advantages.
The prediction is seriously made in one quarter that the adoption of State-Socialism by Germany would involve its adoption by "England, France, Austria, Italy and the United States, no matter how great the opposition against such a change." The force of a bad example is considerable, but it hardly seems necessary to anticipate such a grave result from any action which Germany may take. There has been a great deal of avowed Socialistic agitation in this country, and much Socialistic legislation has been enacted without any consciousness of the direction whither it tended. The most highly Socialistic measure to which we have submitted protection has not, for obvious reasons, had so grave an effect here as in Germany, and there is a constantly increasing opposition to this policy. Again, the reception accorded to Senator Blair's highly Socialistic bill for national aid to schools, by the country at large compared to that which the same bill received a few years ago, may be taken as an indication that the general current of feeling is away from Socialism.
GOVERNMENT AND ANARCHY.
The popular notion of Anarchy is a good instance of popular misconception. In the minds of most people, Anarchy is closely associated with dynamite, infernal machines, conspiracy, rebellion, assassination, and other terrible things; and therefore most people look on Anarchy with horror. And a leading Anarchist paper in this country, the Twentieth Century, earnestly advocates the peculiarly Christian doctrine of non-resistence! Anarchy, however, is not essentially allied to Christianity any more than it is to dynamite; it is a political theory - if that can be said to be a political theory which maintains
that politics should be entirely done away. This is the essence of Anarchy: that all Government should be abolished; and there is obviously room for disagreement among Anarchists as to whether the abolishment should be effected by force or by persuasion. The popular conception is precisely the reverse of the true conception; Government unquestionably rests upon force as its basis, and Anarchists maintain that this force should not be exercised.
The two human institutions which it would seem most hopeless to attack are the Church and the State. It may be that Religion had its origin in images, shadows, dreams, and certain nervous diseases, and that Government is begotten of aggression and continued in oppression; but mankind can no more repudiate them than it can its social instinct. The individuals of a society, being contiguous, arrange themselves in a certain way, and one of the products is Government. If Government were something which a few, or even the majority, forced upon the rest, the case would not be so hopeless; but all men- practically all-desire to govern, to have power over other men. Not content with having his own way, each man wants other men to follow it also; and there are certain acts which all men are ready forcibly to prevent others from doing-murder, theft, arson for instance. Nothing can be more certain than that governments were not originally instituted to prohibit these and similar acts, but this has at last come to be recognized as one of their chief duties; and in so far as they discharge this duty their action is beneficial to society. It is not open to question that murder, theft, fraud, assault, and most of the crimes recognized by common law ought to be repressed; but any one may, if he choose, assert that Government is not efficient in repressing these crimes, that more of them. are committed than would be if there were were no Government at all, or that the incidental evils inflicted by Government
Whether governments have, on the whole, done more good than harm is not an easy question to decide. Part of the evil they have done is perfectly evident, while it is possible to attribute most of the good to other causes. It is a truism, in this decade, to say that of two organisms, individual or social, that one is most likely to survive which is best adapted to the conditions which surround it; and conversely, if of two organisms placed under similar conditions, one has survived and the other has perished, it may safely be inferred that one was better adapted to the conditions than the other. Now for several thousand years there has been a struggle for existence among societies, and those having governments have survived. to the exclusion of those not having them. It is barely conceivable that an organism should develop an organ actually disadvantageous to it and still survive; but it certainly is not conceivable that all the social organisms which have survived should have developed and maintained an organ injurious to them.
I said that possibly societies would eventually exist without governments. The conflict between societies has hitherto been mainly a military conflict; there are some indications that in the future the conflict will be an industrial competition. Mr. David A. Wells, as a result of his studies, thinks it probable that the voice of Political Economy to the nations of Europe will presently be :-Disarm or starve. If, as seems by no means unlikely, the possession of a government proves to be a disadvantage to a nation in a purely industrial competition, then governments will probably be done away. But nature is seldom in a hurry. This result is not likely to be effected by the nations recognizing that their governments are a disadvantage and abolishing them; the more natural way would be by the disappearance of those nations which have the most government-whose governments interfere most with industrial relations-before those whose governments interfere the least.
Anarchists frequently assert that there is no logical halting-place between Socialism, where the government is everything. and Anarchy, where the government is nothing. Aristotle, a thinker who has received considerable respect in the world for the last two thousand years, elaborated what he called the doctrine of the mean. He maintained that the right always lay in a mean between excess and defect. If he were to write his "Politics" now, he would certainly regard Socialism as the excess of Government and Anarchy as the defect. What he would regard as the mean it is by not at all easy to sayprobably not exactly the course pursued by present governments, however. It seems as if our Anarchist friends might produce more effect if, instead of pushing their arguments to what they call a logical conclusion, but which to most people seems an absurdity and therefore tends to create distrust of the arguments;-if,
instead of doing this, they would recognize as a fact that man has an instinct for making governments which he can no more help exercising than can the Ethiopian. change his skin or the leopard his spots, and if they would bend their energies to persuading men to do themselves as little injury as possible in the exercise of their instincts.
It is related of the wife of a certain doge that she was so given to luxury as to eat with a golden fork instead of with her fingers. But, the chronicle adds, a punishment from heaven overtook her for this outrage upon nature; she was afflicted with a loathsome disease. A better, though less amusing, illustration of the fact that what was formerly regarded as luxury would not be so regarded now, is to be found in the introduction to Hollinshed's Chronicon, where there is a bitter complaint of the great number of chimneys that had recently been erected in England, and of the many earthern and tin dishes that had been introduced in place of wooden ones. The word is difficult to define, not so much because it has included different things at different time and places, but because it is hard to draw the line between a luxury and that
which is necessary. Anything which simply satisfies one of the three essential wants of man, food, clothing and shelter, may be regarded as a necessary, and whatever is beyond, as a luxury; but no very clear line can be drawn between them. From ancient times the feeling that there might be something wrong in the indulgence in luxury has been very general, probably due in part to the ancient belief that the gods were jealous of men's good fortune, and partly to the iufluence of Christian asceticism.
One of the chief uses of luxury has been to accentuate class distinctions. The