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THIS volume is a challenge, not a summary of fragile 
dubiosities* No mystery hangs over it* Underlying it 
is the assumption that science and the machine arc two 
invincible facts with which all must reckon who write, teach, 
preach, lead, or practice the arts in our time. Those who refuse to 
face them are condemned in advance to sterility and defeat. While 
recognizing the evils brought by these modern engines- evils which 
weigh heavily in the minds of the authorsthe volume as a whole 
rejects the pessimistic views of writers like Chesterton^ Belloc* and 
Spongier* For visions of despair, it substitutes a more cheerful 
outlook upon the future of modern civilization, without at the 
same time resorting to the optimism of the real-estate agent. 

A simple method has controlled the preparation of the volume. 
With the aid of friendly advice from many quarters, authorities 
of outstanding competence, possessing also the ability to present 
their ideas with clearness and vigor, were chosen to deal with the 
several phases of modern civilization. No limitations* save those 
of space* were laid upon them* Each writer was given a free 
hand. None of them was asked to assume any responsibility for 
the opinions of the others, The editor has not altered their copy, 
smoothed out contradictions, or taken on the duty of defending 
everything that appears in these pages. If the principle of liberty 
had not commanded this, the distinction of the co-operating 
authors would have made it imperative. 

The editor s debt to Mr. Frank Ernest Hill, of Longmans, Green 
and Co* for editorial assistance passes all calculation. 


WlforJ, Com* 


INTRODUCTION: Charles A. Beard ,.,,,, i 

Hi* Sbib , . , . , ..... . . a$ 


Willem twi Loon ,,.,..,,. 41 

III, SotRNcrc: Bertraud Russell .,,,*.., 3 

I?- BUSINESS: /#/&$ JfC/tw ,,,,.,... 83 

V. LMQM Sid my and Beatrice Webb . . * . .no 


/IL WAR AND PEACE: Emtf Ln^u/% ,.,,,. 

III, HRALTH: C-/?. A W/wtew .,,.,., 187 

IX* THE FAMILY; Ihvtlwk Bilk .,,.,,, 


XL RELIGION: J^Mn Htfrivy KMmm . . , , . a$4 

KIL TMR ARTS; !>& Mumford ,..,,.. 287 

1IIL PHBLOSOPHV: M# Dewy , , . - . . .313 

IIV. PLAT: S/iwr/ C/JTO .,,,..... 33* 

KV. EDUCATION; Jjwrr /I DcwMtrtto ...... 354 

[VL LITHE ATOEE: Carl Van Dorm 

EPILOGUE: Charles A. Beard ...... 


ALL over the world, the thinkers and searchers who scan 
the horizon of the future are attempting to assess the 
values of civilization and speculating about its datiny* 
Europe, having just passed through a devastating war and already 
debating the hour for the next explosion, wonders whether the 
game is worth the candle or can be played to the bitter extreme 
without inviting disaster so colossal as to put an end to civilization 
itself. In America, where Europeans have renewed their youth, 
conquered a wilderness, and won wealth and leisure in the $weat 
of their brow, the cry ascends on all sides: "Whew do we go 
from here?" Vivcr* Jttode pMlowpharl^the stomach being full, 
what shall we do next? Far away in Japan* the younger genera 
tion, still able to $ee with their own eyes vestiges of a feudal order 
abandoned by their elders* are earnestly inquiring whether they 
must turn back upon their path or lunge forward with renewed 
energy into the age of steel and electricity. So for one reason or 
another, the intellectuals of all nations are trying to peer into the 
coming day, to discover whether the curve of contemporary civ 
ilization now rises majestically toward a distant zenith or in reality 
has already begun to sink rapidly toward a nadir near at hand* 
On casual thought, names of anxious inquirers from every land 
come to mind; Ku Hung Ming and Hu Shih in China; Gandhi and 
Tagore in India; Yusuke Tsurumi and the late Arishima in Japan; 
Ferrero and Croce in Italy; Spengler and Kayserling in Germany; 
Fabre-Luce, Detnangeon, and Georges Batault in France; Welk, 


Chesterton, Belloc, Shaw a and Dean Inge in England; Unamuno 

in Spain; Trotzky in Russia; Ugarte In Argentina. The very ti 
tles of the books having a challenging ring: "The Decline of 
the West/* "Mankind at the Crossroads, 1 * *Thc Rising Tide of 
Color," "The Revolt of the Unfit/ 1 "The Tragic Sense of Li% w 
"The Decline of Europe/ 4t War the Law of Life/ 1 and! * f Tht 
Destiny of a Continent." 

It Is not alone the philosophers who display anxiety about the 
future. The policies of statesmen and the quest of the people in 
circles high and low for moral values reveal a concern about des 
tiny that works as a dynamic force in the affairs of great nations* 
In Italy, the FascistI repudiate both democracy and socialism, 
bring about the most effective organization of capital and labor yet 
accomplished In any country, and prepare the way for the co 
operation of these two forces or for a class war all the more ter 
rible on account of the social equipment of the contending parties. 
In Russia, the Bolsheviki join the Italians in rejecting democracy 
but attempt to create a communist state which, if a success, would 
te % standing menace to all the governments of the world founded 
on did&rent principles. Germany writhes and turns, torn by an 
inner Zerfapsenbeit, with Nationalists cursing International capital 
ism and lortglng for burled things, with Socialists and Communists 
still active If shorn of their former confidence, and with the mass 
of the people once more absorbed in the routine of the struggle 
for existence, yet dimly aware that the Faustian age may not be 
closed after all. In an hour of victory t France reckons the ter 
rible cost and stirs restlessly, wondering about the significance of 
the ominous calm. Likewise triumphant, England im as of yore 
enthroned amid her Empire, with all her old intact and val 

uable additions made; but the self-governing dominions an 

unwonted independence; top-heavy capitalism,, having devoured 
domestic agriculture, feverishly searches for among 

the half -civilized and backward races of the earth* hoping to keep 
Its machinery turning and Its profits flowing, while American 
and German competition In the same enterprise harder 

and harder upon the merchants of London, Manchester* and 


Apparently secure between two seas, and enriched by the for 
tunes of the European war, America reaches out ever more vig 
orously, huckstering and lending money, evidently hoping with 
childlike faith that sweet things will ever grow sweeter; but 
critics, foreign and domestic, disturb the peace of the new Levia 
than. Einstein frankly sneers at American intelligence; Siegfried 
finds here sounding brass, tinkling cymbals, noise, and materialism, 
If many are inclined to discount the aspersions of the alien, they 
are immediately confronted by a host of domestic scoffers. The 
appearance and success of the American Mercury, the weekly, nay, 
almost daily, blasts of H. L. Mencken, so deeply stir the Rotarians 
and Kiwanians that one of the richest chemical companies buys 
space in his magazine to make fun of the editor. In a milder vein, 
but perhaps still more ruinous to the counsels of perfection, the 
Saturday Review of Literature^ edited by H. S. Canby, steadily 
undeimines naive valuations of every sort, bringing artistic judg 
ments ever nearer to the test of realism. And still more ruth 
less in dealing with moss-grown conventions, V. F. Calverton, 
with too much assurance perhaps, slashes at the preciosities of 
American art and thought, threatening them all with the cruel 
touch of economic appraisal The age of Victorian complacency 
has closed everywhere; those who are whistling to keep up their 
courage and deceive their neighbors merely succeed in hoodwink 
ing themselves. 


THIS inquisitive wondering about civilization is no fitful fever of 
a day, likely to pass soon, to be followed by the calm satisfaction 

of an Indian summer. On the contrary, its emotional sources lie 
deep in the nature of things. While the doubts and pessimism 
raised by the "World War might pass with the flow of time if the 

<1! normalcy n craved by the late President Harding could really be 
recovered, the prospects for "healing and serenity * are not good 

and the situation in which the world finds itself is not encourag 
ing to advocates of seraphic peace and benevolence. Although 

the League of Nations and the inevitabilities of Locarno give 


promise of a respite, the restlessness of Italy, whose swelling pop 
ulation overflows her narrow borders, the hundred sources of un 
ending friction in the Balkans, the discontent of Germany with a 
treaty that makes her a guilty criminal and tears from her side 
six or eight million German citizens, the turmoil of the Orient, 
and the constant menace of Russia to the imperialist powers of 
Europe, all tend to keep alive the interest of mankind in the fu 
ture of modern civilization. 

To these are added even more potent irritants, disturbing hu 
manity with threats of destiny. It is not to be supposed that the 
revolutions in Russia and Italy, flouting as they do the whale 
bourgeois scheme of things, will pass, if they pass, without leaving 
scars in the mind of the race* Nor will the antagonism between 
socialism and capitalism struggling for the possession of the helm 
of state disappear soon in a wave of brotherly affection. Each 
school regards the other as the foe of civilization and continually 
stirs the stream of speculation* Spengler, as he admits in his in 
troduction to "Trussianism and Socialism/* derived from that 
collision the emotions which flowered, through sophistication* into 
tbe enormous philosophic pile, "The Decline of the West*** 
And while socialism and capitalism stand face to face, the issue 
of civilisation will abide. 

Interwoven with this economic conflict, is the perennial strug 
gle between Catholics and Protestants, the former idealizing the 
middle ages of papal supremacy the age of feudalism, agriculture* 
handicrafts, miracles, and clericalism and thus assailing capital 
ism, even where forced to yield to its economic exigencies. Con 
forming in many respects with the same substantial patterns* is the 
much discussed conflict between Latin and Nordic culture**"* 
Italy, Spain, and France against Germany* England, and the 
United States civilizations essentially agricultural against civiliza 
tions essentially industrial, Catholicism against Protestantism, mys 
tery against science, adding thus racial antipathies to national, 
economic, geographical, and climatic contrasts, 

Even if Europe could resolve her conflicts and let the war of the 
books over civilization die away there in peace and pro$perity the 
rise of the United States would perhaps keep the old question still 


open to debate. The passage of America from a provincial, agri 
cultural status to the position of the premier capitalist power in 
international politics, with a navy hardly second to that of Eng 
land, is itself an inescapable fact for those who speculate on cul 
tural destinies. American civilization, the full flower of the 
machine apotheosized, with few traces of feudalism in its make-up, 
even more than Russia challenges the contemporary regime of 
Europe, particularly the Latin countries. If once the peasants, 
farmers, and laborers of the Old World should get it into their 
heads that more material goods would flow from machinery, sci 
ence, efficiency, and capitalism triumphant, the result would be the 
abandonment of whole provinces of the ancient heritage, even in 
remote districts, 

Beyond America lies Asia, presenting a sharp antithesis and 
challenge to the West. If it were possible to subdue the United 
States to the sublimated feudo-clerical civilization of Europe 
through education, cultural transference, and the intermarriage 
of aristocratic and capitalistic families, Asia would still remain 
inscrutable to those who never visited the continent* This does 
not mean that there is in fact an Oriental civilization to be 
sharply contrasted with that of the Occident, or that the so-called 
color antagonism is likely to be a factor in the future of Western 
civilization; far from it* It just so happens, however, that the 
Orient h a scene of operation for four western empires, English, 
Russian, French, and American the seat of an imperialist collision 
which will of necessity burn around the world if the friction 
reaches the point of combustion. Furthermore, the Orient is the 
home of one first-class power on the Western model, Japan, the 
only non-Caucasian people that has been able to use steel and 
gunpowder efficiently in self-defense and is rapidly transforming 
its feudal civilization into an industrial order. Chinese national 
ism cannot find its goal and Japanese economic necessity attain 
its fruition without disturbing violently one or more o the West 
ern imperial adventurers contending for mastery In the East. 
These two forces, rather than Gandhi s vain longing for a return 
to the hand loom and spinning wheel in defiance of science and 
machinery will serve to keep alive Indefinitely the interest of 


the world in the contrast, real and imaginary, between the East 
and the West* 

To these springs of emotion that feed the present concern about 
the problems of civilization, nationalism rampant adds another* 
The passion for self-determination, for democracy* which flamed 
so high during the World War, served to accentuate rather than 
smooth away the differences between cultures. For many a year* 
each of the nationalities composing the world s complex of self- 
governing communities is likely to continue to look upon Its own 
institutions as indicating a certain moral superiority in the pos 
sessor. The spirit is very old* 

Long ago, a Wahhabee preacher, while praising the people of 
Riad, to whom he belonged, remarked that the followers of Mo 
hammed were to be divided into seventy-three sects ^venty-two 
being destined to hell-fire and only one to heaven, and then added 
in solemn measure: f *And that, by the mercy of God arc we the 
people of Riad.* In a tone less theological but with an assurance 
equally firm, the historian Macaulay informed mankind in 183 J 
that die English "have become the greatest and most highly civ 
ilised people that ever the world saw, * * * have produced t lit 
erature which may boast of works not inferior to the noblest 
which Greece has bequeathed to us, have discovered the laws 
which regulate the motions of the heavenly bodies, haw spec 
ulated with exquisite subtilty on the operations of the human mind, 
have become the acknowledged leaders of the human, race in the 
career of political improvement/* 

Reverting to the religious strain of the Wahhabee, William II, 
a grandson of Queen Victoria, came to the conclusion that pre 
eminence lay elsewhere. "God would never have taken such great 
pains with our German Fatherland and its people/* said William 
in 1:905, "if He had not been preparing us for something still 
greater. We are the salt of the earth." 

Across the Rhine in France, of course, this gospel was not ac 
cepted. On the contrary, innumerable patriotic French writers 
have contended, with kindred emotions, that France was really 
the mother of modern civilization, the home of liberty, soulful- 
ness, and artistic sensibilities. <c Unc cuisine et unc politesset 


Oui, les deux de vieille civilisation et de naentalit d &tel 

Qui, en dehors des Chinois et da Frta$ai$ peut $e ranter de les 
arborer? Lcs Italians? Peut-etre* Les Anglais? Us se saouknt 

ct gardent lent casquette sur la tte devant une femmc. Les 
Americains? Lcs Allcmands? II n f en cst pas question/* 

Nor do high American authorities give their assent to the creed 
of William II. Quite recently, the committee on citizenship 
formed by the American Bar Association put into its credo for 
the salvation of America an article as follows; W I believe that 
we Americans have the best government that has ever been 
created the freest and the most just for all people; . * that as 
an American citizen the Constitution of the United States ought 
to be m actual a part of my life and my religion as the Sermon 00 
the Mount," 

If each nationalistic variant on modern civilization is vaunted 
as the best, then how can the students of destiny hope to find any 
rest from unceasing labors? 


ANXIETY about the values and future of civilization is real It 
has crept out of the cloister and appears in the forum and market 
place. It will not pass; it will endurt and increase. Forces as 
potent as the struggle for existence economic, racial, and nation- 
ali$tie~wiH continue to feed it, But while the controversy be 
comes more intense, the very diversity of the collisions that keep 
it alive lends confusion to all discussions bearing on the nature and 
destiny of civilization* So while our library shelves sink under 
the weight of books on the subject, ambiguity rather than clarity 
and frankness mark the trend of their arguments* Civilization, 
like politics, makes strange bedfellows. 

In various places in Europe, for example, we find Marxian com 
munists, Roman Catholics, and violent Chauvinists united in con 
demning the megalopditon civilization of modern capitalism, 
til for different reasons^ and certain to divide savagely on the na 
ture and work of the order which they would substitute for it* 
In Germany, the Nationalists turn against science, machine, and, 
industmli$npi all the aentiixients, religious, patriotic, and daw. 


that spring from their practical situation. In England and Amer 
ica, a school of anti-imperialists, disgusted with the slums and 
sooty towns of the machine, imagine that the kingdom of heaven 
must be in the Orient and, under the guise of Oriental wisdom, 
assail the evils of capitalism at home* 

This psychology, of course, is not new. The account of Ger 
many which Tacitus gave to the Romans nearly two thousand 
years ago may have been designed to hold up the mirror to 
Roman vices rather than to present a true picture of the tribes 
beyond the Rhine. The war which Rousseau waged on the civil 
ization of science and reason was conducted in the name of nature, 
the noble savage, and agriculture. When all the metaphysics and 
verbiage of Spengler s "Decline of the West* are put aside and 
the heart of the matter is revealed, it becomes evident that the 
author is really aiming to glorify an agricultural, as contrasted 
with a metropolitan, civilization. What really gives him distress 
and causes him to think that the West is declining is the fact 
that the city is overcoming the country* "In place of a people 
true to type," he says, "springing from the soil and reared on it, 
there now appears a new kind of nomad, loosely co-operating 
with instable and changing masses, the parasitical citydweller, 
without traditions, without religion, concerned only with matters 
of fact; clever, sterile, and profoundly contemptuous of the coun 
tryman, in particular that highest type of agriculturalist, the 
country gentleman." Stripped of rhetorical paint, this merely 
reflects the grudge of the Prussian landed-proprietor against the 
Berlin or Hamburg banker, merchant, and manufacturer* 

Nor is the confusion that exists among the contestants over the 
merits of particular "cultures" cleared up by those who speak 
either glibly or profoundly about the downfall of civilizations. 
Just what happened when Rome "fell" is nowhere clearly set 
forth in the immortal pages of Gibbon* It is true, EC shows m 
the unitary state (if a state ever beset by social war deserves the 
name) dissolving and great artists in letters giving place to soph* 
ists and stylists; but whether Roman civilization peiished or 
merely passed over into the next period he leaves for the scholar! 
to debate; whether the masses of the Roman empire, even those 


upstanding Roman citizens who lived like rabbits In the slums 
of the Eternal City and were sustained by bread and circuses, 
were happier, stronger, wiser, and nobler than the people of the 
so-called "dark-ages" which followed the blaze of Augustan days 
is nowhere made plain by the philosopher of London and Lausanne. 
And it must be confessed that the case presented %y Spengler 
is not much better on the side of explications. He does, no doubt, 
speak of the coming transition from constitutional systems to 
the informal sway of individuals/* of "wars of annihilation/* of 
"imperialism," and of primitive human conditions thrusting 
themselves upward into high civilized modes of living"; but just 
how this represents a ^decline" and why it presents features 
more alarming than those of the ages past cannot be discerned 
from the text of his argument* 


GIVEN the liveliness of the present discussion about civilization 

and the confusion that reigns among those engaged in inquiries 
respecting the subject, it seems worth while and pertinent to the 
thinking of our age to take stock, to clarify our notions by defi 
nitions and specifications, to invite those who talk with facility 
about it to deliver a bill of particulars. Such is the purpose of 
this book. 

At the outset, certain questions seem relevant* What is meant 
intrinsically by the contrast between Western and Oriental civ 
ilizations? By the contrast between the modern, mediaeval, and 
classical civilizations? What is n the West" that is threatened with 
a decline? What does a decline imply in terms of population, 
economy, art, government, literature* and life in general? Is 
the assumption supported by data or is it a mere hypothesis born 
of temperament and certain psychological situations induced by 
outward events such as defeats, disappointments, and adversities in 
general? If the decline is really imminent, can anything be done 
about it? If not, must philosophy despair and assume that the 
universe is meaningless^ that the forc^ which carries nations to 
high pinnacles will shortly become bankrupt itself? 

Conceivably a master mind, a modern Aristotle, equipped with 


all the sciences of the time, could attempt the solution of this rid 
dle, but the intense specialization of our age, the enormous mass 
of accumulated knowledge precludes any such unitary treat 
ment. Hence the concurrence of many minds is necessary if any 
progress is to be made. 

Beyon4|ifielding the fruits of co-operation, such concurrence 
itself may be a contribution of some consequence to civilization* 
"The various forms of intellectual activity which together make 
up the culture of an age," remarks "Walter Pater, **move for the 
most part from different starting points and by unconnected 
roads* . * * There come, however, from time to time, eras of 
more favorable conditions, in which the thoughts of men draw 
nearer together than is their wont and the many interests of the in 
tellectual world combine in one complete type of culture. The 
fifteenth century in Italy is one of these happier eras, and what 
is sometimes said of the age of Pericles is true of that of Lorenzo; 
it is an age productive in personalities, many-sided, centralized, 
complete. Here artists and philosophers and those whom the ac 
tion of the world has elevated and made keen do not live in iso 
lation but breathe a common air and catch light and heat from 
each other s thought. There is a spirit of general elevation and en 
lightenment in which all alike communicate/* 

If Pater s thesis is sound, and It seems to be, then a search for 
the essence of civilization ought to advance all the arts of the 
good life, reduce the social friction based upon misconceptions, 
illuminate the roads before us, and serve humanity in its struggle 
to get possession of the helm. A symposium on civilization* 
therefore, appears to be timely and It might possibly be a con 
tribution of something to itself, If that Is not an incredible para 

But a symposium may readily end in confusion rather than 
clarification, darkness rather than light, especially If no target is 
set up to give a general direction to the work of the participants. 
There is truth in the saying of the poet that everything written 
is in the nature of a confession. Nothing is more futile than a 
pretense to a kind of divine omniscience that leads readers by 
passages to predetermined ends. 


The purpose of this book Is, therefore, publicly admitted* It 
Is not designed to bolster up the arguments of any economic, 
racial, religious, or nationalist school It attempts to set forth 
clearly Indubitable facts relevant to the consideration of the sub 
ject In hand. It proceeds from the conviction that history reveals 
no golden age In the past and the additional belief achieve 

ments of the past three hundred years, good and bad, are not the 
deeds of willful men and women who have perverted the perfec 
tion offered by the middle ages. While laying a firm emphasis 
on certain aspects of the problems before us, the book Is not domi 
nated by any facile optimism* It frankly concedes the force of 
numerous Items In the bill of indictment lodged by critics against 
modern civilization its darker and more dangerous features 
without condemning It wholesale as a terrible error made through 
the neglect of the superlative wisdom of other times and places. 
At any rate, destiny seems to point to the future not to the 

WITH these preliminary admissions duly made, let us begin the 
discussion by recalling that a standard dictionary defines civiliza 
tion a$ "the state of being reclaimed from the rudeness of savage 

life and advanced in the arts and learning/* la origin. It derives 
Immediately from the Latin word civita$, meaning In Its concrete 
usage the rights and privileges of a Roman citizen, and figuratively 
a body of citizens, the state, commonwealth, or city. Now the 

rights and privileges of Roman omens, as over against slaves and 
subject peoples, were realistic and economic, and It Is of more than 
passing Interest to note that In Its deeper roots civitas comes from 
quiet, repose from labor, perhaps that leisure enjoyed by ruling 

orders. Aside from all philological subtleties, civilization In Its 

strict modem sense Includes all these Implements* devices, aad 
practices by which men and women lift themselves above $av- 
agei the whole economic order, the system of leisure built upon 
it, the employment of that leisure, and alt manifestations of reli 
gion, beauty, and appreciation. 


Since the substructure of any civilization is the material fabric 
that frees mankind from the status of the savage, it follows that 
every civilization must depend in a large measure upon its geo 
graphical environment rivers, mountains, seas, and natural re 
sources the state of its tools and industries, the occupations of 
the people|||pd the organization of society for the direction of in 
dustry. Civilization, therefore, is not a garment that can be put 
on or off by intellectuals at pleasure, transferred from a French* 
man or an Englishman to a Matabele or Zulu over night. Except 
for some of the minor decorative arts, a civilization cannot be 
borrowed without reproducing the accompanying economic or 
der. And economic orders are not arrangements which nations can 
take on or discard at will without reference to their geographical 
situation or the competition of their neighbors. Japan, for ex 
ample, if she is to survive, has no choice but the extensive adop 
tion of the machinery and science employed by her rivals, and 
with that adoption go its social and artistic habiliments. 

If this pattern of thought conforms with the facts, then the 
classification of civilizations by mere reference to longitude or to 
chronology is hardly short of absurd. The cultural status of a 
people is not determined by the element of time or by its posi 
tion east or west of Greenwich. Many primitive societies have 
remained in substantially the same condition for thousands of 
years; where the modes of acquiring a living remain practically 
static, civilization preserves the same social designs. In the back 
ward places of Europe are to be found numerous village com 
munities which have carried forward into the twentieth century 
the whole cultural outfit of the middle ages. Hence the distinc 
tion between modern and mediaeval civilizations, considered as th^ 
simple products of time, is intrinsically without meaning* 

Nor is the geographical case much better making astronomy 
rather than time the basis of calculation. In origin, the terms 
East and West are mere references to the dawning sun and its 
dusky resting place. Realistically considered, China and Japat*> 
when compared with Europe of the fourteenth or fifteenth cen 
tury, reveal more similarities than contrasts. Indeed early Chris 
tian missionaries in the Orient were so struck by the resemblance 



between Buddhist religious ceremonies and their own that they 
ascribed the former to the devices of the Devil No doubt a 
meticulous scholar can discover many fine points of distinction 
between the feudalism of Japan and that of mediaeval Europe, 
but for practical purposes the substance of the two orders was 
the same; the fighting men held the same suprem^fy in both 
geographical areas* There were differences between the lines and 
M;olor$ of the castle at Osaka and the castle at Warwick but 
O:hey were both built of stone, their purposes were fundamen 
tally the same, and the mode of life of their inhabitants strangely 

rj Proceeding from the definition given above and the argument 
Jthus sketched, it seems to follow that civilizations, apart from 
tribal and nomadic orders, when considered intrinsically, fall into 
three general types: 

Agricultural slave, feudal, peasant, or freehold. 
Pre-machine urban handicraft, mercantile, and 

political capitals. 
Mechanical and scientific. 

it be urged that this is merely an economic classification which 
leaves out of account arts, religion, and learning, the reply is that 
these things are themselves bent to the order in which they thrive 
.and have meaning and vitality only In relation to their economic 
^substructure. Traces of previous orders no doubt survive or thrust 
fOthemselves upward into new orders, but they thrive only in so far 
^Qas they carry with them the soil that originally nourished them. 
Certainly there are more fundamental resemblances between the 
culture of a peasant in a remote village in Spain and that of a 
peasant in a remote village of Japan than between the culture of 
a Christian priest of the upper Pyrenees and that of a Baptist 
clergyman in a thriving manufacturing town in Illinois. A Bud- 
-tlhbt monk from Horiugi would feel perfectly at home with a 
OCatholic monk from Ravenna; but neither of them would en- 
Cfjoy the hospitality or approve the religion of a Methodist parson 
in Zenith. 



WHAT is called Western or modern civilization by way of con 
trast with the civilization of the Orient or medixval times is at 
bottom a civilization that rests upon machinery and science as dis 
tinguished from one founded on agriculture or handicraft com 
merce. It is in reality a technological civilization* It is only 
about two hundred years old, and, far from shrinking in its 
influence, is steadily extending its area into agriculture as well 
as handicrafts. If the records of patent offices, the statistics of 
production, and the reports of laboratories furnish evidence worthy 
of credence, technological civilization, instead of showing signs 
of contraction, threatens to overcome and transform the whole 

Considered with respect to its intrinsic nature, technological 
civilization presents certain precise characteristics. It rests fun 
damentally on power-driven, machinery which transcends the phys 
ical limits of its human directors, multiplying indefinitely the 
capacity for the production of goods. Science in all its branches 
physics, chemistry, biology, and psychology -is the servant and 
upholder of this system. The day of crude invention being al 
most over, continuous research in the natural sciences is abso 
lutely necessary to the extension of the machine and its market, 
thus forcing continuously the creation of new goods, new pro 
cesses, and new modes of life. As the money for learning comes 
in increasing proportions from taxes on industry and gifts by 
captains of capitalism, a steady growth in scientific endowments is 
to be expected, and the scientific curiosity thus aroused and stimu 
lated will hardly fail to expand and to invade all fields of 
thought with a technique of ever-refining subtlety. Affording 
the demand for the output of industry are the vast populations of 
the globe; hence mass production and marketing are inevitable 
concomitants of the machine routine. 

For the present, machine civilization is associated with capi 
talism, under which large-scale production has risen to its pres 
ent stage, but machine civilization is by no means synonymous 
with capitalism that ever-changing scheme of exploitation. 


While the acquisitive instinct of the capitalist who builds factor 
ies and starts mass production is particularly emphasized by econ 
omists and is, no doubt, a factor of immense moment, it must 
not be forgotten that the acquisitive passion of the earth s multi 
tudes for the goods, the comforts, and the securities of the classes 
is an equal, if not a more important, force, and in any case is 
likely to survive capitalism as we know it. Few choose naked 
ness when they can be clothed, the frosts of winter when they 
can be warm, or the misery of bacterial diseases when sanitation 
is offered to them. In fact, the ascetics and flagellants of the 
world belong nowhere in the main stream of civilization and 
are of dubious utility and service in any civilization. J 

Though machine civilization has here been treated as if it 
were an order, it in fact differs from all others in that it is highly 
dynamic, containing within itself the seeds of constant recon 
struction. Everywhere agricultural civilizations of the pre~ 
machine age have changed only slowly with the fluctuations of 
markets, the fortunes of governments, and the vicissitudes o 
knowledge, keeping their basic institutions intact from century 
to century. Pre-machine urban civilizations have likewise re 
tained their essential characteristics through long lapses of tim 
But machine civilization based on technology, science, invention, 
and expanding markets must of necessity change and rapidly. 
The order of steam is hardly established before electricity invades 
it; electricity hardly gains a fair start before the internal combus 
tion engine overtakes it. There has never been anywhere in the 
world any order comparable with it, and all analogies drawn from 
the middle ages, classical antiquity, and the Orient are utterly 
inapplicable to its potentialities, offering no revelations as to its 


GRANTED that these essential characteristics of so-called Western 
civilization, namely, its mechanical and scientific foundations are 
realistic, is it a mere "flash in the pan," a historical accident des 
tined to give way to some other order based upon entirely dif 
ferent modes of life, lifting mankind "abova the rudeness of the 


savage 1 *? Now, if the term "decline in thi* connection meant 

anything concrete. It signifies the gradual or rapid! abandonment 
o the material modes of production prevailing in any particular 

age and the habits and arts associated with them. Conceivably the 
Prmslanism of the Hohenzollerns described so well In Spenglcr s 

"Prusslanism and Socialism/* may decline Is declining* It is 
highly probable that the petty tenure system of the French peas 
antry, die now sadly diluted aristocracy Inherited from the ^Ighfc* 

eenth century, the church of little mysteries and miracles may de* 

cline, but these things are not the peculiar characteristics of the 
West. They are the remnants of the agricultural complex which 
the machine Is everywhere steadily subduing* The real question Is 
this: can and wHl machine society "decline"? 

It Is generally agreed among historians that the decay of agri 
culture, owing to the lack of scientific management and fertilisa 
tion, was one of the chief causes for the breakdown of the Roman 
state. Is it to be supposed that the drive of the masses of man 
kind for machine-made goods will fail, that large-scale produc 
tion will be abandoned, that the huge literature of natural scl* 
ence will disappear in the same fashion as most of the literature 
of ancient Egypt, that the ranks of scientific men will cease in 
time to be recruited* that the scientific power to meet new situ 
ations will fail? An affirmative answer requires a great deal of 
hardihood* The scientific order 1$ not recruited from a class, 
such as the patricians of ancient Rome; nor is scientific knowledge 
the monopoly of a caste likely to dissolve. Unless all visible signs 
deceive us, there is no reason for supposing that cither machinery 
or science will disappear or even dwindle to Insignificance And 
they are the basis of the modern civilization* 

If Western civilization does not break down from such internal 
causes, is there good reason for supposing that any of the races now 
inhabiting Asia or Africa could overcome the machine order of the 
West by any process, peaceful or warlike, without themselves 
adopting the technical apparatus of that order? No doubt, some 
of them are already borrowing various features of machine society, 
but slowly and with indifferent success. The most efficient of 
them, the Japanese, still rely largely upon tke West for a sub- 


staatul part of their mechanical outfit for inventiveness and 
creative mechanical skill. Unless there is a material decline in 
Western technology and no evidence of such a slump is now 
in sight then it may be safely contended that none of the agri 
cultural civilizations of Asia or Africa will ever catch up with 
the scientific development of the West. As things stand at pres 
ent, none of them gives any promise of being able to overrun 
the West as the conquerors of Rome overran the provinces of 
that Empire. Certainly there is not likely to be, in any future 
that we can foresee, such an equality of armaments as existed be 
tween the best of the Roman legions and the forces of their con 
querors. Hence the downfall of the West through conquest may 
fairly be ruled out of the possibilities of the coming centuries. If, 
in due time, the East smashes the West on the battlefield, it will be 
because the East has completely taken over the technology of the 
West, gone it one better, and thus become Western in civilization, 
In that case machine civilization will not disappear but will make 
a geographical shift* 

Defining civilization narrowly in terms of letters and art, are 
the probabilities of a "decline* more numerous? Here we ap 
proach a more debatable, more intangible, topic. With reference 
to letters, taking into account the evidence of the last fifty years, 
there is no sign of a decay at all events, a decay like that which 
occurred between the first and the sixth centuries in Roman his 
tory* Indeed, there are many cautious critics who tell us that 
the writers of the past hundred years, with the machine system 
at a high pitch, may be compared in number, competence, and 
power without fear with the writers of any century since the 
appearance of the Roman grand style. Granted that we have no 
Horace, Shakespeare, or Goethe, we may reasonably answer that 
literature of their manner has little meaning for a civilization 
founded on a different basis. Considered in relation to their en 
vironment rather than some fictitious absolute, the best of modern 
writers, it may well be argued, rank with the best of the middle 
ages and antiquity. If poetry sinks in the scale and tragedy be 
comes comical, it may be because the mythology upon which they 
feed is simply foreign to the spirit of the machine age not be- 


cause there has been a dissolution of inherited mental powers, 
The imagination of an Einstein, a Bohr, or a Millikan may well 
transcend that of a Milton or a Virgil. Who is to decide? 

The case of the arts is on a similar footing. For the sake of the 

argument, it may be conceded that the machine age has pro 
duced nothing comparable with the best of the painting, sculpture, 
and architecture of antiquity and the middle ages. What does 
that signify? Anything more than a decline in the arts appro 
priate to an agricultural and market-city era? The machine age 
is young. As yet it can hardly be said to have created an art of 
its own, although there are signs of great competence, if not gen 
ius, about us signs of a new art appropriate to speed, mechanics, 
motion, railway stations, factories, office buildings, and public 
institutions* Using the lowest common denominator in the reck 
oning, there is no evidence of a decay in artistic power such as ap 
pears in the contrast between the Pantheon of Agrippa and the 
rude churches of Saxon England. To say that the modern age 
has produced no ecclesiastical architecture comparable with that of 
the middle ages is to utter a judgment as relevant to our situation 
as a statement that the mediaeval times can show no aqueducts or 
baths equal to the noblest structures of pagan Rome* It may 
be that the machine age will finally prove to be poor m artistic 
genius a debatable point but it can hardly be said that it has 
produced its typical art, from which a decline may be expected* 

Passing to a more tangible subject, is it possible that machine 
civilization may be destroyed by internal revolutions or civil wars 
such as have often wrecked great states in the past? That inch 
disturbances will probably arise in the future from time to time 
cannot be denied, and the recent Bolshevik revolution in Russia 
is often cited as a warning to contemporary statesmen. If the 
revolutions of antiquity be taken as illustrations, it must be pointed 
out that the analogies are to be used with extreme care in all appli 
cations to the machine age. When the worst has been said about 
the condition of the industrial proletariat, it must be conceded 
that as regards material welfare, knowledge, social consideration, 
and political power, it is far removed from the proletariat of Rome 
or the slaves of a more remote antiquity. The kind of servile 


revolt that was so often ruinous in Greece and Rome Is hardly 
possible In a machine civilization, even if economic distress were 
to pass anything yet experienced since the eighteenth century. 
The most radical of the modern proletariat want more of the 
good things of civilization not a destruction of technology* 
If the example of Russia be pressed as relevant, the reply is that 
Russia possessed not a machine, but an agricultural civilization 
of the crudest sort; peasant soldiers supplied the storm troops of 
the November revolution, and the Bolsheviki are straining every 
nerve to maintain their position by promising the peasants and 
urban dwellers that the benefits of a machine order will surely 
come. There will be upheavals In machine civilizations., no doubt, 
and occasional dictatorships like that In the United States be 
tween 1 8$ I and i8y, but the triumph of a party dedicated to 
a deliberate return to pre-machine agriculture with its low stand 
ards of life, Its diseases, and its illiteracy is beyond the Imagination. 

Finally, we must face the assertion that wars among the vari 
ous nations of machine civilisation may destroy the whole or 
der. Probably terrible wars will arise and prove costly in blood 
and treasure, but It is a strain upon the speculative faculties to 
conceive of any conflict that could destroy the population and 
mechanical equipment of the Western world so extensively that 
human vitality and science could not restore economic prosperity 
and even Improve upon, the previous order. According to J. S. 
Mill, the whole mechanical outfit of a capitalistic country can 
be reproduced in about tea years. Hence the prospect of re 
peated and costly wars in the future need not lead us to the pessi 
mistic view that suicide is to be the fate of machine civilization. 
We may admit the reality of the perils ahead without adopting the 
counsel of despair. If Europe and America were absolutely dev 
astated, Japan with her present equipment In libraries, laboratories, 
and technology could begin the work of occupying the vacant 
areas, using the machine process In the operation* 

For the reasons thus adduced It may be Inferred: that modern 
civilization founded on science and the machine will not decline 
after the fashion of older agricultural civilizations; that analogies 
drawn from ages previous to technology are Inapplicable; that ac- 


cording to signs on every hand technology promises to extend its 
area and intensify its characteristics; that it will afford the sub 
stance with which all who expect to lead and teach in the fu 
ture must reckon. 


SUCH appears to be the promise of the long future, if not the grand 
destiny of what we call modern civilization the flexible frame* 
work in which the human spirit must operate during the coming 
centuries. Yet this view by no means precludes the idea that the 
machine system, as tested by its present results, presents shocking 
evils and indeed terrible menaces to the noblest faculties of the 
human race. By the use of material standards for measuring 
achievement, it is in danger of developing a kind of ignorant com** 
placency that would make Phidias, Sophocles, Horace, St. August 
ine, Dante, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Lord Bacon, Newton, 
Goethe, Ruskin, and Emerson appear to be mere trifling parasites 
as compared with Lord Beaverbrook, Hugo Stinnes, John Kerpont 
Morgan, and Henry Ford. To deny the peril that lies ia any such 
numerical morality would be a work of supererogation. More 
perilous still is the concentration on the production of goods that 
will sell quickly at the best price the traffic will bear and fall to 
pieces quickly mass production of cheap goods rather than con* 
centration on the manufacture and exchange of commodities with 
the finest intrinsic values capable of indefinite endurance* What 
the creed of "give as little as you can for as much as you can get** 
will do to the common honesty of mankind, if followed blindly for 
centuries, can readily be imagined. Finally, it must be admitted 
that the dedication of the engines of state, supported by a passion 
ate and uninformed chauvinism, to the promotion and sale of 
machine-made goods is creating zones of international rivalry 
likely to flame up in wars more vast and destructive than any yet 

To consider for the moment merely the domestic aspects of the 
question, the machine civilization is particularly open to attack 
from three sides. 


On esthetic grounds, it has been assailed for nearly a hundred 
meat s, England, the classical home of the Industrial revolution, 
>eing naturally enough the mother of the severest critics Ruskin, 
2arlyle, Kingsley, and Matthew Arnold. The chief article in their 
.ndictment, perhaps, is the contention that men who work with 
nachinery are not creative, joyous, or free, but are slaves to the 
monotonous routine of the inexorable wheel. In a sense it is true 
chat, in the pre-machine age, each craftsman had a certain lee 
way in shaping his materials with his tools and that many a com 
mon artisan produced articles of great beauty. 

Yet the point can be easily overworked. Doubtless the vast 
majority of mediaeval artisans merely followed designs made by 
master workmen. This is certainly true of artisans in the Orient 
today. With respect to the mass of mankind, it is safe to assume 
that the level of monotony on which labor is conducted under the 
machine regime is by and large not lower but higher than in the 
handicraft, servile, or slave systems of the past. Let anyone who 
has doubts on this matter compare the life of laborers on the 
latifundia of Rome or in the cities of modern China with that of 
the workers in by far the major portion of machine industries. 
Those who are prepared to sacrifice the standard of living for 
the millions to provide conditions presumably favorable to the 
creative arts must assume a responsibility of the first magnitude. 

Indeed, it is not certain, so primitive as yet are the beginnings 
of machine civilisation, that there can be no substitute for the 
handicrafts as xsthetic stimulants, assuming that mechanical in 
dustry is not favorable to the creative life. The machine regime 
does not do away with the necessity for designing or reduce the 
opportunities for the practice of that craft: it transfers the oper 
ation from the shop to the laboratory; and it remains to be seen 
whether great aesthetic powers will not flourish after the first 
storm of capitalism has passed. In any case, it must be admitted 
that the **cheap and nasty" character of machine-made goods, $o 
marked everywhere, may really be due to the profit-making lust 
and the desire of the multitude to have imitations of the gew 
gaws loved by the patricians, not to the inherent nature of 
machine industry. Possibly what is lost in the merits of individ- 


ual objects of beauty may be more than offset by city and com* 
munity planning, realizing new types of esthetic ideals 00 a vast, 
democratic basis. Certainly the worst of the xsthctic offences 
created by the machine the hideous factory town -can be 
avoided by intelligent Cooperative action, as the garden-city 
movement faintly foreshadows. In a hundred years the coal- 
consuming engine may be w obsolete as the Dodo and the Birm- 
inghams, Pittsburgh^, and $&ens of the modern world live only 
in the records of the historians* However this may be> the 
xsthetes of the future will h&Ve tao work within the limitations and 
opportunities created by science tad the machine, directed*, it may 
be hoped, by a more intelligent economy and nobler concepts of 
human values. 

Frequently affiliated with aesthetic criticism of the machine and 
science is the religious attac%| "With endles$ reiteration, the 
charge is made that industrial Wvilwiatum is materialistic* In re 
ply, the scornful might say, "^ I, what of it? w But the issue 
deserves consideration on its merits, in spite of its illusive nature, 
As generally used, the term "materialistic" has some of the qual* 
ities of moonshine; it is difficult to grasp. It is the fashion of cer 
tain Catholic writers to call Protestantism materialistic, on ac* 
count of its emphasis on thrift and business enterprise*"*? fashion 
which some radicals have adopted: Max Weber in Germany and 
R* H. Tawney in England, for example. With something akin 
to the same discrimination, Oswald Spengler calls all England 
materialistic, governed by pecuniary standards-*"as contrasted 
with old Prussia where "duty/* "honor," and "simple piety 1 * 
reigned supreme. More recently, Andr$ Siegfried^ following a 
hundred English critics, with Matthew Arnold in the lead, has 
found materialism to be one of the chief characteristics of the 
United States, as contrasted with the richer and older civilisa 
tions of Europe, particularly France* And Gandhi consigns 
every one of them England, Prussia, France* and America to 
the same bottomless pit of industrial materialism* When all this 
verbiage is sifted, it usually means that the charge arises from emo 
tions that have little or no relation to religion or philosophy 
from the quarrels of races, sects, and nations* 


If religion i$ taken in a crude, anthropomorphic sense, filling 
the universe with gods, spirits, and miraculous feats, then beyond 
question the machine and science ate the foes of religion* If it 

is materialistic to disclose the influence of technology and environ 
ment in general upon humanity, then perhaps the machine and 
science are materialistic. But it is one of the ironies of history 
that science has shown the shallowness of the old battle between 

materialist and spiritist and through the mouths of physicists has 
confessed that it does not know what matter and force are* Mat 
ter is motion; motion is matter; both elude us, we are told. 
Doubtless science does make short shrift of a thousand little 
mysteries once deemed as essential to Christianity as were the thou 
sand minor gods to the religion of old Japan, but for these little 
mysteries it has substituted a higher and sublimer mystery. 

To descend to the concrete, is the prevention of disease by san 
itation more materialistic than curing it by touching saints bones? 
Is feeding the multitude by mass production more materialistic 
than feeding it by a miracle? Is the elimination of famines by 
a better distribution of goods more materialistic than prevention 
by the placation of the rain gods? At any rate, it is not likely 
that science and machinery will be abandoned because the theo 
logian (who seldom refuses to partake of their benefits) wrings 
his hands and cries out against materialism. After all, how can 
he consistently maintain that Omnipotent God ruled the world 
wisely and well until the dawn of the modern age and abandoned 
it to the Evil One because Henry VIII or Martin Luther quar 
relled with the Pope and James Watt invented the steam engine? 

Arising, perhaps, from the same emotional source as aesthetic 
and religious criticisms, is the attack on the machine civilization 
as lacking in humanitarianism* "Without commenting on man s 
Inhumanity to man as an essential characteristic of the race, we 
may fairly ask on what grounds can anyone argue that the masses 
were more humanely treated in the agricultural civilization of 
antiquity or the middle ages than in the machine order of modern 
times. Tested by the mildness of Its laws (brutal as many of 
them are), by its Institutions of care and benevolence, by its 
death rate (that tell-tale measurement of human welfare), by its 


standards of life, and by every conceivable measure of human val 
ues, machine civilization, even in its present primitive stage, 
need fear no comparison with any other order on the score of 
general well-being. 

Under the machine and science, the love of beauty, the sense 
of mystery, and the motive of compassion sources of esthetics, 
religion, and humanism are not destroyed* They remain essen 
tial parts of our nature. But the conditions under which they 
must operate, the channels they must take, the potentialities of 
their action are all changed* These ancient forces will become 
powerful in the modern age just in the proportion that men and 
women accept the inevitability of science and the machine, un 
derstand the nature of the civilization in which they must work, 
and turn their faces resolutely to the future. 


THE chapters which follow, in discussing the various aspects of 
modern civilization, develop more minutely the view thus pre 
sented and expand its implications in particular fields* On the 
other hand, while recognizing the validity of the general argument 
here advanced, they reflect an independent and critical spirit* If 
the tone of the volume seems positive, the defence may be offered 
that precision in error is useful to those who search for truth. 
At all events, by their very sharpness, the lines cut through the 
controversy over civilization will make it easier for the readers to 
share in the explorations of the symposium* 




IN RECENT yean the despondent mood of a number of Eu 
ropean writers has led to the revival of such old myths as 
the bankruptcy of the material civilization of the West and 
the superiority of the spiritual civilization of the Oriental nations. 
When I was in Germany last year, a German savant most solemnly 
assured me that the civilization of the East was based on spiritual 
principles, **In the East," said my enthusiastic friend, "even 
souls are selected on the basis of moral fitness. For does not the 
doctrine of the transmigration o souls imply the idea of moral 
selection?* Although these expressions represent nothing more 
than the pathological mentality of war-stricken Europe, they have 
already had the unfortunate effect of gratifying the vanity of 
Oriental apologists and thereby strengthening the hand of reac 
tion in the East. In the West, too, one could see, as I have seen 
during my recent travels, that such loose thinking was leading 
not a few people away from a proper understanding of their own 
civilization which is fast becoming the world civilization. It is 
in the hope of furnishing a new point of view and a new basis 
of discussion that I now offer these few reflections on the civiliza 
tions of the East and the West. 

As A true Chinese, I must begin with Confucius. According to 
Confucius, all implements of civilization are spiritual in origins 
they all came from "Ideas," **Whea conceived, they are called 


ideas. When materially embodied, they are called implements, 
When instituted for general use, they are called forms or patterns. 
When wrought into die everyday life of all the people, they mar 
vel at them and call them the work of the gods." Confucius 
cited many examples to illustrate this point of view. Man saw 
wood floating on water and invented canoes and ships; he saw 
wood submerged under water and, caring for the preservation of 
the dead bodies of his parents, invented coffins and tombs. He 
saw rain fall from the heavens and, thinking probably of the work 
of time obliterating all traces of human memory, invented writing 
to take the place of knotted cords. 

Needless to say, this view of Confucius was supported by Plato 
and Aristotle in the West. Human tools and institutions had 
their origin in the "ideas " or ideal patterns which Aristotle called 
the "formal causes." Confucius and Plato and Aristotle lived in 
those good old days when the human mind was not yet troubled 
by the medixval dualism of matter and spirit and was therefore 
able to recognize the ideality underlying the material embodiment 
of human inventions. 

Indeed there is no such thing as a purely material civilisation. 
Every tool of civilization is produced by human intelligence mak 
ing use of the matter and energy in the natural world for the satis 
faction of a want, a desire, an xsthetic feeling or an intellectual 
curiosity. A clay pot is no more material than a love lyric; nor 
is St. Paul s Cathedral less material than the Woolworth Building. 
Indeed when man first made fire by accidentally drilling wood, 
the invention was regarded as such a spiritual thing as to be at 
tributed to one of the greatest gods* In the Ease, all the legendary 
kings of China were not priest-philosophers, but inventors. Such, 
for example, were Sui-jen, the discoverer of fire, You-tsao, the 
first builder of houses, and Shen-nung, the first teacher of agricul 
ture and medicine. 

Our forefathers were quite right in deifying the creators of 
tools. Man is a tool-making animal, and it is tool-making which 
constitutes civilization. The invention of fire created a new 
epoch in the history of human civilization; agriculture, another; 
the invention of writing, a thkd; printing, a fourth. The great 


religions of the world may justly claim the credit for submerging 
the whole civilized world from the China Sea to the British Isles 
underneath the deluge of medievalism. But it was the Invention 
of the telescope and the steam-engine and the discovery of elec 
tricity and radio activity that have made the modern world what 
it is to-day. And if the priests of the Medixval Age were justly 
canonized as saints, Galileo, Watt, Stephenson, Morse, Bell, Edison, 
and Ford certainly deserve to be honored as gods and enshrined 
with Prometheus and Cadmus. They represent that which is 
most divine in man, namely, that creative intelligence which pro 
vides implements and makes civilization possible. 

The civilization of a race is simply the sum-total of its achieve 
ment in adjusting itself to its environment. Success or failure in 
that adjustment depends upon the ability of the race to use in 
telligence for the invention of necessary and effective tools. Ad 
vancement in civilization depends upon the improvement of tools. 
Such names as the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age and 
the Steam and Electricity Age tell the tale of the development of 
civilisation. And what is true of the historical development of 
civilisation, is 00 less true of the geographical distribution of the 
different civilizations* The difference between the Eastern and 
Western civilizations is primarily a. difference in the tools used. 
The West has during the last two hundred years moved far ahead 
of the East merely because certain Western nations have been able 
to devise new tools for the conquest of nature and for the multi 
plication of the power to do work. The East, whence have come 
a number of the epoch-making tools of ancient civilization, has 
failed to carry on that great tradition and is left behind in the 
stage of manual labor while the Western world has long entered 
the age of steam and electricity. 

This* then, is the real difference between the Oriental and 
Western civilizations. The Oriental civilization is built primarily 
on human labor as the source of power whereas the modern civili 
zation of the West is built on the basis of the power of machinery. 
As one of my American friends has put it, "each man, woman 
and child in America possesses from twenty-five to thirty me 
chanical slaves, while it is estimated that each man, woman and 


child in China has at his command but three quarters of one 
mechanical slave." * An American engineer has stated the case 
almost in the same language: "Every person in the United States 
has thirty-five invisible slaves working for him. . - * The^ Amer 
ican workman is not a wage slave, but a boss of a considerable 
force, whether he realizes it or not." * Herein lies the real ex 
planation of the difference between the two civilizations. It is a 
difference in degree which in the course of time has almost 
amounted to a difference in kind. 

IN JULY, 1926, I arrived at Harbin, in Northern Manchuria, on 
my way to Europe. The modern city of Harbin was formerly 
a Russian Concession which grew up from a small trading centre 
into what is now called the "Shanghai of North China," With 
the development of the Russian Concession, there has grown up, 
a few miles away, the native city of Harbin which was once only 
a group of peasant villages. While I was touring through the 
city, I was struck by one interesting fact; whereas practically all 
the vehicles of locomotion in the native city were jinrickshas, or 
carriages pulled by human power, no ricksha was allowed to 
operate in the former Russian City which, though now under 
Chinese administration, still retained much of Russian influence 
and tradition. Transportation and travelling in the modem city 
of Harbin were by tramways and taxicabs; rickshas carrying 
passengers from the native city must leave without a fare. 

Here I made my great discovery in modem geography I dis 
covered the borderline between the Eastern and Western civiliza 
tions. The city of Harbin separates the East from the West by 
separating the jinricksha (man-power-carriage) civilization from 
the motor-car civilization! 

Let all apologists for the spiritual civilization of the East re 
flect on this. What spirituality is there in a civilization which 
tolerates such a terrible form of human slavery as the ricksha 

*Julean Arnold, "Some Bigger Isuei in China s Problem!,** bookltt tooa to 
be published by the Commercial Press, Shanghai, 
^ Thomas T. Read, "The American Secret," Th* Atlantic Uwthly, March, 19*7* 


coolie? Do we seriously believe that there can be any spiritual 
life left in those poor human beasts of burden who run and toil 
and sweat under that peculiar bondage of slavery which knows 
neither the minimum wage nor any limit of working hours? Do 
we really believe that the life of a ricksha coolie is more spiritual 
or more moral than that of the American workman who rides to 
and from his work in his own motor-car, who takes his whole 
family outing and picnicking on Sundays in distant parks and 
woods, who listens to the best music of the land on the radio al 
most for no cost, and whose children are educated in schools 
equipped with the most modern library and laboratory facilities? 

It is only when one has fully realized what misery and acute 
suffering the life of *ricksha~pulling entails and what effects it 
produces on the bodily health of those human beasts of burden 
it is only then that one will be truly and religiously moved to bless 
the Hargreaveses, the Cartwrights, the Watts, the Fultons, the 
Stephensons, and the Fords who have devised machines to do 
the work for man and relieve him from much of the brutal suffer 
ing to which his Oriental neighbor is still subject. 

Herein, therefore, lies the real spirituality of the material 
civilization, of mechanical progress per $e* Mechanical progress 
means the use of human intelligence to devise tools and machines 
to multiply the working ability and productivity of man so that 
he may be relieved from the fate of toiling incessantly with his 
unaided hands, feet, and back without being able to earn a bare 
subsistence, and so that he may have enough time and energy left 
to seek and enjoy the higher values which civilization can offer him. 
Where man has to sweat blood in order to earn the lowest kind of 
livelihood, there is little life left, letting alone civilization. A 
civilization to be worthy of its name must be built upon the 
foundation of material progress. As one of China s statesmen 
said twenty-six centuries ago, "when food and clothing are suffi 
ciently provided for, honor and disgrace can be distinguished; 
and when granaries are full, the people will know good manners/* 
This is not to drag in the so-called economic interpretation of 
history; it is simple commonsense. Picture a civilization where 
boys and girls and old women with bamboo baskets tied to their 


backs and with pointed sticks in hand, flock to every dumping 
place of garbage and search every heap of refuse for a possible 
torn piece of rag or a half-burnt piece of coal. How can we 
expect a moral and spiritual civilization to grow up in such aa 

Then people may point to the religious life in those regions 
where the material civilization is low. I shall not discuss those 
Oriental religions whose highest deities appear on roadsides in the 
shape of human sex organs. I shall only ask: "What spirituality 
is there, let us say, in the old beggar-woman who dies in the direst 
destitution, but who dies while still mumbling, *N&m AmiU 
Buddha! 9 and in the clear conviction that she will surely enter 
that blissful paradise presided over by the Amita Buddha? Do we 
earnestly think it moral or spiritual to inculcate In that beggar- 
woman a false belief which shall so hypnotize her as to make her 
willingly live and die in such dire conditions where she ought not 
to have been had she been born in a different civilization?" 

No! A thousand times No! All those hypnotic religions be 
long to an age when man had reached senility and felt himself 
impotent in coping with the forces of nature. Therefore he gave 
up the fight in despair and, like the disappointed fox in the an 
cient fable who declared the grapes sour because he could not 
reach them, began to console himself and teach the world that 
wealth and comfort are contemptible and that poverty and misery 
are something to be proud of. From this it was only a step to 
the idea that life itself was not worth living and that the only 
desirable thing was the blissful existence in the world beyond, 
And when wise men calmly taught these ideas, fanatics went fur 
ther and practised self-denial, self-torture, and even suicide. In 
the West, saints prayed, fasted, lived on pillars, and whipped 
themselves at regular intervals- In medixval China, monks 
prayed, fasted, and, feeding themselves daily with fragrant oil 
and tying their bodies with oiled cloth, gladly burned themselves 
to death as offerings to some deity of Mahayana Buddhism* 

It was those religions of defeatism^ that sank the whole civilized 
world underneath the universal deluge of Medievalism, It took 
over a thousand years for a portion of mankind to emerge from 


the civilization which glorifies poverty and sanctifies disease, and 
slowly build up a new civilization which glorifies life and combats 
poverty as a crime. As we look around to-day, the religions of 
the Middle Ages are still there, the churches and cathedrals are 
still there, the monasteries and nunneries are still there. How 
is it that the outlook upon life has so radically changed? The 
change has come because in the last two centuries men have hit 
upon a few key-inventions out of which a vast number of tools 
and machines have been constructed for the control of the re 
sources and powers in nature. By means of these machines men 
have been able to save labor and reduce distance, to fly In the air, 
tunnel the fountains and sail underneath the deep seas, to enslave 
lightning to pull our carriages and employ "ether" to deliver our 
messages throughout the world. Science and machinery seem to 
meet no resistance from nature. Life has become easier and hap 
pier, and man s confidence in his own powers has greatly in 
creased. Man has become the master of himself and of his own 
destiny. Thus a revolutionary poet sings; 

I fight alone, and win or sink, 
I need no one to make me free; 

1 want no Jesm Christ to think 
That he could ever die for me. 

Thus the new civilization of the new age has given to men a new 
religion, the religion of self-reliance as contrasted with the religion 
of defeatism of the Middle Ages. 


AKE all children of the past, and the distinctive types of 
civilization which we find to-day can be best understood in the 
light of the relationship they bear to their respective mediaeval 
heritage. The difference between the Eastern and Western civi-r 
lizations is simply a degree of success or failure in the process of 
breaking away from the mediaeval ideas and institutions which 
once ruled the whole civilized world. The modern civilization of 


the West, as I have tried to show in the preceding paragraphs, rep 
resents a higher degree of success in the emancipation from medi- 
xvalism than any other cultural group has yet achieved* At 
the other end of the scale stands the civilization of India which 
is medievalism made visible to-day. Between these two poles, 
we may arrange and grade all the other civilizations of the East* 

A comparison between China and Japan will be most instruc 
tive in helping to drive home the point we are making* China 
started her fight against medieval Buddhism at least twelve cen 
turies ago, With the aid of the humanistic tradition of Con 
fucianism and the naturalistic philosophy of the school of Lao- 
tse, China fought a long war against the medieval religions* 
Mahayana Buddhism was replaced in the eighth century by Chi 
nese Zennism which was only the naturalism of ancient China 
clothed in Buddhist terminology. By the ninth century, Zennism 
became iconoclastic and was hardly recognizable as a religious 
sect. A great revival of the secular philosophy of Confucianism 
began in the eleventh century. Since that time. Buddhism has 
gradually died out without a persecution. The Neo-ConfucJan- 
ism which began, naturally enough, as a scholastic philosophy, 
slowly developed a highly intellectualistic attitude and its slogan 
became: "Extend your knowledge by going to things and finding 
the reason thereof."* By the middle of the seventeenth century, 
Chinese scholarship had developed a genuinely scientific method 
of study and investigation. Every philological reconstruction 
or textual criticism or historical research must be based upon evi 
dences* With the aid of this new methodology, the scholarship of 
the last three hundred years became quite scientific and a number 
of historical sciences, notably philology, textual criticism! higher 
criticism and archaeology reached a high stage of development. 

Yet with all this achievement in the humanistic undies and 
with all the success in the gradual emancipation of philosophical 
thought from religion, China remains in her backward state where 
we find her to-day. She has overthrown the mcdixval religions,, 
but has not made life easier for the vast majority of the people; 
she has found a scientific method, but its application has been 
confined to books and documents; there has been an cmancipa- 


tion of the mind, but there has not been an equivalent subjuga 
tion of the material environment to sustain that intellectual eman 
cipation and make it a reality in the ordinary life of the people. 
The thinkers of the seventeenth century lamented the fact that 
five hundred years of rational philosophy could not save the 
country from the fate of destruction by famine and banditry and 
final subjugation by a barbarian race. Thereupon they turned 
away from philosophizing and devoted themselves to what they 
considered to be "useful knowledge." Little did they dream that 
the three hundred years* diligent and scientific scholarship after 
them would also turn out to be only a new kind of scholasticism 
and would prove of little or no value in the salvation and uplift 
ing of the life of the people! 

On the other hand* Japan has achieved a modern civilization 
within a short period of time by an unreserved acceptance of the 
tools and machines of the Western civilization. When Perry 
knocked at the gate of Japan, she was deep in her mediaeval slum 
bers. After a short period of resistance, she was forced to throw 
open her doors to Western influence. In the face of imminent dan 
gers of national humiliation and ruin, she did not trouble about her 
mediaeval religions and feudalistic morals, but went whole 
heartedly into the work of equipping herself with all the new 
weapons of war, vehicles of commerce, machines of production, 
and methods of organization. In the course of half a century, 
Japan has not only become one of the greatest powers of the 
world, but has also solved a number of important problems which 
neither Buddhistic religion nor Chinese philosophy had been able to 
solve, feudalism is gone forever, constitutional government by 
parliamentary representation has come to stay, and the mediaeval 
religions are being rapidly undermined* Japan was the inventor of 
the ricksha; but to-day in the industrial centres of Yokohama and 
Tokio the ricksha coolie is rapidly disappearing. And his dis 
appearance has not been brought about by the humanitarianism 
of the native or foreign religions, nor by the good offices of the 
ladies of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 
but only by the advent of the "one-yen-within-the-city** Ford 
Car, And, with the increase of wealth and prosperity made pos- 


sible by the mechanical and industrial civilization* the indigenous 
artistic genius of the nation has been able to develop in the course 
of time a new art and a new literature commensurable with the 
material progress in the country. Japan has to-day ninety in- 
stitutions of scientific and technological research and thirty thou 
sand engineers enrolled in the membership of her national engi 
neering societies. Through these workers and instrumentalities a 
great modern civilization full of spiritual potentialities is being 
built up in the East. 

The moral of the story is clear. Man began his career as the 
tool-making animal and built up his civilization by inventing new 
implements for the control of his material environment* Civili 
zation sank into mediaeval darkness when man became weary of 
the task of fighting his natural environment and sought refuge 
in the life of the spirit* It was science and the new technology 
which restored to man the sense of self-confidence and created 
the modern civilization of the West, It was the introduction of 
science and technology which transformed Japan and built up her 
modern civilization. And it will be the same science and tech 
nology which will transform the whole East and bring China and 
India into the world of modern civilizations. 


I BEGAN by pointing out the spirituality of the most material 

phase of modern Western civilization, namely^ its technological 
phase. Modern technology is highly spiritual because it seeks, 
through human ingenuity and intelligence, to relieve human en 
ergy from the unnecessary hardships of life and provide for it 
the necessary conditions for the enjoyment of life* Whatever be 
the use man may make of the resultant comfort and leisure, the 
relief of suffering and hardship is In itself spiritual We do not 
necessarily condemn God simply because some honest heretics were 
burned to death in His name. 

I shall now try to show the spirituality of the other phases of 
the Western civilization. I shall leave out art, music, and litera 
ture, for it is evident to all that the West has its art and literature 


which are at least comparable with those found In the East, and 
its music which Is certainly far more advanced than any which 
the Oriental countries can boast of. 

Let us begin with Science. Whatever may be our divergent 
views regarding the exact definition of the life of the spirit, no one 
to-day will probably deny that the desire to know is one of the 
legitimate spiritual demands of mankind. Yet practically all the 
older civilizations have tried to suppress this intellectual longing 
of man. According to the Book of Genesis, the Fall of Man was 
caused, not by Woman, but by the acquisition of Knowledge. 
Most of the Oriental religions taught such slogans as "No knowl 
edge, no desire"; Know nothing and follow the plan of God"; 
"Abandon wisdom and shun sagacity," A great sage of the East 
declared; "Life Is finite and knowledge Is Infinite. How hazard 
ous It Is to pursue the infinite with the finite!** Thereupon those 
teachers of man turned away from the strenuous path of knowl 
edge-seeking and resorted to the various ways of introspection, 
meditation, and contemplation In search for what they conceived 
to be the "deeper wisdom/* Some taught the ways of direct com 
munion with God through devout contemplation. Others elabo 
rated the four stages of dhyana by means of which one might at 
tain the slat magic powers of the gods. 

As recently as January, 1927, an Egyptian fakir tried to demon 
strate to an American audience in Englewood, N. J., that he could 
prove the superiority of the spiritual civilization of the East by 
allowing himself to be buried alive for two hours and 52 minutes 
five feet under the ground. He bettered the record set by the 
great magician, Houdini, by 82 minutes, but failed to secure a 
vaudeville contract with the Loew s Company which feared that 
the theatre audience might not have the patience to sit three 
hours for the Oriental wise man to revive. 

After all ? there Is very little spirituality in such small tricks 
of spiritualism, which are still commonly practised by mendicant 
priests of the East. Do not most animals succeed in doing this 
during their period of hibernation? On the other hand, there 
is genuine spiritual joy in the work of the scientists who seek 
to wring from nature her little secrets by means of rigid methods 


of study and experimentation. Truth Is deeply hidden and never 
reveals Itself to those insolent souls who approach nature with un 
aided hands and untrained sense-organs. Science trains our in 
telligence and equips it with necessary tools and methods. It 
teaches us not to despair of the infinity of knowledge, for it is 
only through piecemeal accumulation of fragmentary information 
that we can hope to arrive at some knowledge of nature at all. 
Every piecemeal acquisition is progress, and every little step in ad 
vance gives to the worker a genuinely spiritual rapture. When 
Archimedes, on jumping into the bath tub, suddenly found the 
solution of the scientific problem that had troubled him, he was 
so overjoyed that he ran naked into the streets and shouted to 
everybody: "Eureka! Eureka!" This has been the spiritual joy 
that has constantly visited every research- worker in science, every 
Galileo, Newton, Pasteur, and Edison a state of rapturous spirit 
uality totally unknown to the pseudo-prophets of the old civili 
zation, who professed to seek the higher knowledge of the totality 
of things by inward contemplation and self-hypnotism. 

For self-hypnotism it was which constituted the so-called spirit 
ual pleasure of the practitioners of the older religions. A great 
Chinese philosophical rebel in the seventeenth century thus re 
corded his own experience in one of his moods of spiritual "attain 
ment": "It was a summer day. Clad in cotton-padded coat, I 
was leading the mules carrying the wheat-crop from the field* 
When my hired laborer was unloading the mules and piling up 
the sacks, I sat alone under the willow-trees and looked at the blue 
skies. The breezes were pleasant and the white clouds were 
gathering and regathering. I sang aloud the famous song of the 
great philosopher Cheng-hao which began with the line "Light 
clouds and light breezes a little before noon/ and I felt that I 
was very happy and my heart flew out as if it could embrace the 
whole heaven and earth, as if there were nothing else besides 
heaven and earth and myself. Then I looked through the thick 
leaves with half-closed eyes, and the sun appeared like a brilliant 
pearl shining through a screen of green silk. And the buzz of the 
invisible flies sounded like the divine music played in the court of 
the ancient sage-kings! . . ." When the author of this episode, 


Yen Yuen (163 J-1704), in his later years revolted against all 
the empty philosophizing of Neo-Confucianism and founded the 
Northern school of Pragmatism which to this day bears his name, 
he allowed this record of his early folly to be preserved In his col 
lected writings as a testimony to the unreal and self-deceptive 
character of the methods of the old semi-religious philosophies. 
The most spiritual element in science is its skepticism, its courage 
to doubt everything and believe nothing without sufficient evi 
dence. This attitude is not merely negative, although on the 
negative side it has performed very great service in liberating the 
human mind from slavish subjection to superstition and authority. 
The attitude of doubt is essentially constructive and creative: it 
is the only legitimate road to belief; it aims at conquering doubt 
itself and establishing belief on a new basis. It has not only 
fought the old beliefs with the irresistible weapon* **Give me evi 
dence,** but also raised new problems and led to new discoveries 
by the same insistence on evidence. It is this spirit of "creative 
doubt** which has made the biographies of the great scientists such 
as Darwin, Huxley, Pasteur, and Koch the most inspiring of all 
human records. Just as credulity has made our medixval saints, 
so has doubt made our modem gods who overcame nature and 
blessed man* 

the most spiritual phase of the modern civilisation of the 
West is its new religion which, in the absence of a better name, I 

shall term the religion of Democracy, 

Modern civilization did not begin with religion, but it has re 
sulted in a new religion; it did not much trouble about morals, 
but it has achieved a new system of morals. The European 
powers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were frankly 
states of piracy. The great heroes of the age, Columbus, Magel 
lan, Drake, and their like, were great pirates who braved the 
stormy and unknown seas in search of gold, silver, ivory, spices, 
and slaves* Their adventures were usually supported by genuine 
royal or imperial patronage, and their glory and spoils were justly 


shared by their state and sovereign. They had no scruples for 
their religion which taught love for all men or for their morals 
which condemned even usury. 

Those acts of piracy opened up the new continents to European 
trade and colonization which in turn greatly enhanced the material 
wealth and power of some of the European states and furnished 
tremendous stimulus to production and invention. The Industrial 
Revolution followed which fundamentally transformed the meth 
ods of production and multiplied the productive powers of the 
European states, With the increase in material enjoyment and 
the rise of a large middle class, there has been simultaneously an 
expansion in man s imaginative power and sympathy* And with 
the restoration of man s confidence in himself as the agent to 
control his own destinies, there have developed the various types 
of social consciousness and social virtues. All this leads to the 
rise of the new religion of democracy, by which I mean to include 
the individualistic ideals of the eighteenth century and the social 
istic ideals of the last hundred years. 

The new creeds of the eighteenth century were Liberty, Equal 
ity, and Fraternity. The new religion since the middle of the 
last century is socialism. All of which are spiritual forces rarely, 
if ever, dreamed of by the older civilizations. It is true that there 
were in the East religions which taught universal love and there 
were schools of thought which advocated equal distribution of land 
and property. But these have remained paper doctrines which 
never became real factors in social life and political organization. 

Not so in the West. The ideals of Liberty, Equality, and Fra 
ternity have become the war-cry of the American Revolution, the 
French Revolution, and the revolutions of 1848, and have vibrated 
through all the later revolutions. They have worked themselves 
into the constitutions of the new republics* They have brought 
about the downfall of monarchies, empires, and aristocracies* 
They have given to man equality before the law and freedom of 
thought, speech,; publication, and religious belief* Above allj 
they have emancipated the women and made universal education a 
The ideals of Socialism are merely supplementary to the earlier 


and more individualistic ideas of democracy. They are historically 
part of the great democratic movement* By the middle of the 

nineteenth century, die laissez-faire policy was no longer sufficient 
to achieve the desired results of equality and liberty tinder the 
highly organized and centralized economic system. Compulsory 
education was opposed as an infringement of liberty, and legis 
lation regulating wages and factory conditions was branded as 
"class legislation." The time had come for a new social and politi 
cal philosophy which would meet the needs of the new economic 
life of the age. Hence the rise of the socialistic movements which, 
when freed from their distracting theories of economic determinism 
and class war, simply mean the emphasis on the necessity of making 
use of the collective power of society or of the state for the great 
est happiness of the greatest number. In practice, the movement 
hast taken two main directions. On one hand, there has been the 
strong tendency to organize labor as the effective means for the 
protection of the interests of the working class, and collective bar 
gaining and strikes have been the chief weapons. On the other 
hand, there has been an equally strong tendency on the part of all 
modern governments to forestall the wasteful methods of class 
struggle by assimilating and putting into practice a number of 
socialistic ideas such as taxation on Inheritance, progressive In 
come tax, compulsory Insurance of workmen against accident and 
old age, regulation of working hours, fixing of minimum wages, 
and others. By one way or another or by both, many ideas which 
were once regarded as dangerously socialistic, have become an in 
tegral part of the legislative and governmental programme of 
every modern state. One may still believe In the sacred right of 
property, but the tax on income and Inheritance has become a most 
Important source of revenue for most governments. One may 
still condemn the Idea of class war, but organized labor has become 
a fact and strikes are almost universally legalized. England, the 
mother country of capitalism, has had a Labor Government and 
may soon have another. The United States of America, the 
champion of Individual liberty, Is trying to enforce national prohi 
bition. The world Is becoming socialistic without being aware 
of it* 


This religion of Democracy which not only guarantees one s own 

liberty, nor merely limits one s liberty by respecting the liberty 
of other people, but endeavors to make it possible for every man 
and every woman to live a free life; which not only succeeds 
through science and machinery in greatly enhancing the happiness 
and comfort of the individual, but also seeks through organization 
and legislation to extend the goods of life to the greatest number 
this is the greatest spiritual heritage of the Western civilisation, 
Is it necessary for me to remind my readers that neither the eman 
cipation of woman, nor democratic government, nor universal 
education has come from the so-called spiritual civilizations of the 
East? Is it necessary for me to add that, after all, there is not 
much spirituality in a civilization which bound the feet of its 
women for almost a thousand years without a protest, nor in that 
other civilization which long tolerated the practice of suttee or 
cremation of widows and has maintained the horrible caste-system 
to this day? 


I CANNOT think of a more fitting conclusion to this lengthy 
discussion than proposing to reconsider the much misused and 
therefore very confusing phrases "spiritual civilisation/* "material 
civilization/* and "materialistic civilisation*" The term "material 
civilization" ought to have a purely neutral meaning! for all tools 
of civilization are material embodiments of ideas and the wheelbar 
row civilization of the East is no less material than the motor 
car civilization of the West* The term "materialistic civilization/* 
which has often been applied to stigmatize the modern civilization 
of the West* seems to me to be a more appropriate word for the 
characterization of the backward civilizations of the Ka*t For to 
me that civilization is materialistic which is limited by matter and 
incapable of transcending Jt; which feels itself powerless against its 
material environment and fails to make the full use of human in 
telligence for the conquest of nature and for the improvement of 
the conditions of man. Its sages and saints may do all they can 
to glorify contentment and hypnotize the people into a willing- 


ness to praise their gods and abide by their fate. But that very 
self-hypnotizing philosophy is more materialistic than the dirty 
houses they live in, the scanty food they eat> and the clay and 
wood with which they make the images of their gods. 

On the other hand, that civilization which makes the fullest 
possible use of human ingenuity and intelligence in search of truth 
in order to control nature and transform matter for the service 
of mankind, to liberate the human spirit from ignorance, super 
stition, and slavery to the forces of nature, and to reform social 
and political institutions for the benefit of the greatest number 
such a civilisation is highly idealistic and spiritual. This civiliza 
tion will continue to grow and improve itself. But its future 
growth and improvement will not be brought about by returning 
to the spiritualistic ideals of the East, but only through conscious 
and deliberate endeavors In the direction of fully realizing those 
truly spiritual potentialities which the progress of this civilization 
has indicated* 


GENERALLY, very generally speaking, the human race can 
be divided into two parts: the few* who "do" and the 
many who "classify" what the others have "done/* 

It was undoubtedly a member of the latter species, a convinced 
and avowed homo clas$ific*w, who bestowed upon us the unfor 
tunate historical divisions by which the records of the past were 
forever to be separated into a "prehistoric era/* an "ancient and 
classical period," an intermezzo entitled "the Middle Ages** and an 
indeterminable stretch of time which for some mysterious reason 
was to be known as the epoch of the "moderns*" 

As a result, instead of seeing the past as an inevitable entity- 
as a line that has neither beginning nor end the average citizen, 
whenever the word History is mentioned, thinks of a rather jerky 
costume play a long-dmwn-out four-act drama* subdivided into 
endless dull scenes by an invisible stage-manager who knew that the 
last train for the suburbs left at twenty-seven minutes past eleven 
and that the final curtain should therefore be lowered not later 
than 10:45 sharp. 

Since homo classificans is also a creature of habit, and since he 
outnumbers homo agitam a million to one, many brethren of our 
historical guild have argued that we are doomed to wear that ab 
surd chronological harness for the rest of our planetary existence* 

Perhaps so, but in patient anticipation of the happy day when 
the Assembled Historians shall speak ex cathedra and shall present 
us with the bull Nwnc antem cfaranologw antiquittimfy I beg to 
offer an humble suggestion of my own and here and now I pro- 


pose that we divide the whole of the past into two parts and that 
we make the year of grace 1769 the great milestone of mankind. 

For it was on the fifth of January of that ever memorable year 
that James Watt obtained a patent for his newly perfected "fire- 

It was on that day that the era of the dem ex machine* came to 
an end and that the epoch of the homo in macbina commenced. 

It was on that day that man ceased to be a beast of burden and 
was given his first decent chance to become a human being. 

THE history of the world (or what, in the pride of our own su 
perior Western virtues, we are pleased to call the "history of the 
world* ) is the record of man in quest of his daily bread and butter. 

I don t mean to speak slightingly of the pretty room in which 
he prefers to take his afternoon nap when he has reached a certain 
amount of affluence of the book he reads when conversation with 
his beloved wife has run a little threadbare of the musicians he 
occasionally hires to enliven a convivial gathering* All of these 
charming incidents of life fill an important part in civilized so 
ciety. But first and foremost, with ninety-nine men out of a 
hundred, comes the problem of the hollow-bottomed dinner-pail. 

In witness thereof I refer curious readers to the philosophy ~of- 
lif c evolved by the young men who a few years ago were allowed 
to deliver the planet from the monster of autocracy and who in 
the discharge of their duties were changed (almost overnight) 
from modern citizens into counterparts of their Mousterian an 
cestors. Occasionally they sang songs about Home and Mother. 
They sometimes (less frequently) remembered the Girl They Left 
Behind Them* They never, unless compelled to do so by the spicier 
of the local Y.M.C.A., gave a thought to the country for which 
they were risking life and limb, and God Almighty was rarely 
referred to for purposes of a devotional nature. But under all and 
every circumstance, in the bowels of their darkened transports, 
amidst the stench-filled discomforts of their daily habitats, before 
battle, during battle, after battle, they gave expression to one single 
and all-over-powering thought and eagerly chanted the question, 
"When do we eat? * 


IT is a vulgar subject. It Is a commonplace subject. But it is a 
subject from which even the best of us cannot escape for more 
than a few hours at a time. 

There certainly never was an occasion upon which man s rnlnd 
ought to have been as far removed from material considerations 
as on that famous afternoon when Jesus addressed his followers 
upon the Fatherhood of God and urged the people of Judea to love 
their neighbors as themselves* Yet no sooner had he ceased to talk 
than the problem of food became of such paramount Importance 
that nothing short of a miracle was able to prevent a stampede for 
the bakeshops and fish-stores of the neighboring town of Caper 

Granted therefore that above and before all things man must 
eat, we come to our next question: "How will he try to satisfy his 
appetite?* and the answer is: "Man will Invariably try to get a 
maximum of food with a minimum of effort/* 

Go to our public squares and see how true this Is. The great 
leaders of the past who understood this principle are the heroes 
whose statues adorn our highways and byways, 

All other benefactors of nations have to content themselves with 
footnotes in the text-books written for the benefit of graduate stu 
dents and with solemn centenaries a hundred years after they 
starved to death. 

"For greater glory hath no man In the eyes of his fellow- 
citizens than that he show them a short-cut to a well appointed 
porterhouse steak/* 

A WISE man once wrote that It was a comparatively easy task to 
find out what the people of ancient times knew* The difficulty 
began when we tried to make clear to ourselves what they did not 

What holds good of our ancestors holds equally good of most 
of our contemporaries* 

As a harmless and Inexpensive sport, I have during the last four 
months conducted a series of private investigations Into the minds 
of those humble menials whose path crossed mine and have tried 


to discover what the Idea of ft f cxxT meant to them. As the prob 
lem of physical sustenance is almost as much interwoven with our 
daily existence as that of sex, it was quite easy to get the average 
person started upon the subject. 

At first the question seemed to puzzle a good many. Why 
should any one be so foolish as not to know where one could get 

Food was something that came from a store from a delicatessen 
a grocery-store a butcher-shop a bakery. 

Food was something that came in tin cans in paper parcels. 

But why ask where people got this food? Food was something 
that was there something that had always been there that 
would always be there something that was taken for granted as 
long as one had the money to pay for it. 

That was something else again. 

One had to pay for it. 

One had to pay for it with money. 

Now If I had only asked my friends how they were supposed 
to get that money, then they could have told me a different story, 
an interesting story, a story that filled all of their days and most 
of their nights with care and anxiety. 

For in order to get money, etc., etc, 

And I found out that our complex modern society had relieved 
the majority of the people from one sort of worry to make them 
the victims of another. 

Food they took for granted with childlike simplicity. 

The idea that there might not be food enough for all the people 
all the time never seemed to enter their minds. It was a self- 
evident and self-perpetuating commodity, like the postage-stamps 
in the home of our childhood. Of course, one might not have 
money enough to buy food, but the mere suggestion that food 
as such might give out, that there might be a shortage of the fa 
miliar rolls and bacon and coffee, all of them neatly done up in tin 
cans and paper bags why the idea was silly, it was ridiculous, it 
was absurd. 

Many of those humble men and women had never seen a grain- 
field. More of them had never seen a cow. How and in what 


manner beans and potatoes grew did not interest them in the least. 

They knew only one thing that they needed money* 

The moment however they had enough money , there was not 
a single other problem in the world* 

That little private excursion into the mysterious realm of pres 
ent-day psychology was an interesting experiment. But it did 
not make it any the easier for me to imagine myself back into a 
society where money was an absolutely unknown quantity and 
where food food on the hoof and food in the fields and food in 
the water was the one all-overpowering interest of the day. 

And yet the human race has lived through hundreds of thou 
sands of years when "food" in its most immediate and direct form 
was the paramount issue of existence* 

What was the attitude of ancient man, of Egyptians and 
Babylonians and Greeks and Romans and Hebrews atn<J Hittites, 
towards the ever-present and inevitable problem of nourishment? 

Which brings us face to face with another problem, the problem 
of work. 

WE LIVE in a society which lays great stress upon the biasings of 

We may not realize it, but that is a very novel idea* 

Animals hate exertion. All honest hunters will tell you that 
wild things never indulge in any form of labor for the fun of it. 

They must fill their bellies and they can only get their bellies 
full by going through certain muscular motions* such as running 
or flying or swimming, 

But the moment their hunger has been stilled, they are content 
to rest. 

Of course they also need a certain amount of sexual satisfaction 
and they will indulge m terrific efforts to get themselves the right 
sort of mate. 

But that urge is an occasional incident in their existence. Once 
their appetite along that line has been satisfied, they experience 
only one other emotion, the desire to be properly c % d 

I have never done any hunting myself t being one of those who 
are quite content to let Chicago do their slaughtering for them. 


But as I said before all the disciples of Nimmd and the followers 
of the amiable Izaak inform me that a lion with a full tummy or 
a snake that has properly gorged himself or a fish that has absorbed 
a thousand minnows becomes comparatively a harmless creature, 
who has no other wish but to be left severely alone that he may 
enjoy his leisure in solitude. 

Why and how and when we ever acquired the strange philosophy 
of life which makes "work" one of the cardinal virtues, I do not 

Maybe the late and inevitable Dr. John Calvin had something 
to do with it. That queerly biassed and perverted person has a 
great deal to do with almost everything that concerns our daily 
American life* 

Some day when he shall have become a mere historical curiosity, 
some learned person will submit the Calvinistic doctrines to a pre 
cise scientific examination and will be able to tell us at what mo 
ment "work" began to be regarded as a blessing* 

The sainted Johannes probably found some basis for his dogma 
in Holy Writ. When one has lived long enough in the dreary 
town on the shores of the Lake of Geneva which was his home, 
one will probably be able to discover many things in die Old and 
New Testaments which more cheerful eyes have failed to notice. 

But to a mere outsider, it seems difficult to connect the sacred 
scriptures with the ideal of a life spent in the pursuit of unneces 
sary toil. 

For did not Jehovah in his righteous anger condemn man to the 
worst possible punishment of which he could think and was not 
that the punishment which doomed him to a life of labor? 

"In the sweat of thy brow thou shalt gain thy daily bread." 
Surely those words did not imply that ancient Hebrews regarded 
work as a blessing. 

"In the sweat of thy brow thou shalt gain thy daily bread." 
Simple words but, uttered as a threat, they express with singular 
clarity the feeling of most primitive people concerning the bles 
sings of personal exertion, 

Work was a curse. Work was a nuisance. The leisure of Para 
dise was the highest good that had ever been within the reach of 


man. Now Paradise was lost. And as a result, man must work 
to cat. 

"Very well/ man answered. "I have been a wicked sinner. 
I have heard my sentence. Now let me see how I can get away 
from this curse with the least possible exertion on my part.** 

And within twenty-four hours after he had departed from the 
Garden of Eden, Adam had invented the spade. 

It was the first labor-saving device. 

It was the first bit of machinery. 

It was the first blow for liberty of which history, as taught in 
Tennessee, has retained the written record. 

OUR knowledge about primitive man is of very recent date. 
The "verboten" sign of the church kept all faithful Christians out 
side of the delectable realm of the Pre-Genesiac universe* 

Very slowly, very gradually, very painfully we are at last push 
ing forth into the mysterious dark of those picturesque but indef 
initely defined periods during which a creature, vaguely resembling 
our noble selves, fought his first battles with the elements and ran 
his desperate races with the ever-returning glaciers. 

It may take centuries before those Heidelbergians and Piltdown- 
ians (not to mention the little brother of the far-famed Dr. 
Dubois) shall become something more than bits of curiously shaped 
skulls and thigh-bones. But we are finding things. We are find 
ing more and more things all the time. And all of them tell of 
man s terrific effort to invent implements, that would make his 
daily toil less unbearable. 

"While I am writing this, two Germans have flown from Europe 
to America. The whole world is delighted with this latest triumph 
of the Iron Man, the inanimate slave that becomes animate at 
our bidding. And yet what is a motor compared with the first 
fish-hook or the first polished knife? 

We are so self -contented. We take so terribly much for granted. 
Wheels, levers, tackles, oars, needles, hammers, nails, all the thou 
sand and one necessities without which we should be obliged to eat 
raw turnips and raw meat. We use them and never give them a 
thought. They seem to be an Integral part of a civilization that 


has always existed and it is impossible for us to imagine a world 
that had to go after its food without the assistance of these in 
credibly simple objects. 

And yet, such a world existed for hundreds of thousands of 
years. And I am convinced that the appearance of the first axe 
made of polished flint threw the shivering cave-dwellers of southern 
Europe into ecstasies of happiness which far surpassed our own 
delirious delight when Lindbergh flew across the ocean. 

BUT the curse connected with the idea of work did not stop 
short at this side of the grave. 

The dependence of primitive man upon his inanimate friends 
was so great that he could not imagine the hereafter without 
vast assortments of auxiliary hands and feet and he therefore 
buried his honored dead in the midst of a miniature hardware 
store which provided the future wanderers in Nirvana with every 
thing they could possibly need from pots and pans to spurs and 

During the last hundred years, we have discovered and explored 
vast store-houses of the departed in the valleys of the Nile and 
the Euphrates, in the marshes of the Scandinavian peninsula, and 
amidst the rocks of Peru. 

Everywhere it is the same story. Everywhere the mummy or 
the corpse lies surrounded by an infinite variety of mechanical ap 
pliances* For one flute or harp we find a hundred implements 
of the hunt. One chair is offset by dozens of boats and baking- 
stoves and fishing-nets, and the average grave is nothing but a 
store-house for mechanical implements. 

IT is impossible to say what men of the ancient world would 
have done had they been given a few thousand more years of 
development* But after forty centuries of steady growth that 
early civilization came to an end and was succeeded by a different 
culture which suffered from the terrific disadvantage that it hap 
pened to be based upon slavery which is merely a living and 
human substitute for machinery. 


Statistics upon the early subject of human bondage are scarce 
and unreliable. 

But according to the best of our Information, ancient Greece 
(in the widest geographical sense) was Inhabited by five million 
freemen and twelve million slaves. Revaluated Into the language 
of our own country, if we were Greeks instead of Americans, we 
would have more than three hundred million slaves to look after 
our daily needs. 

We know nothing definite about the number of slaves in Rome 
but when we read that Spartacus, who drew most of his volunteers 
from among runaway gladiators, was able to assemble an army of 
130,000 men in less than two weeks time, we get an Idea of the 
number of helots who must have lived within the immediate 
vicinity of Rome in the year 73 B. c* 

And when we realise that during the first century of our era, 
during the reign of the Emperor Nerva (the predecessor of the 
famous Trajan who turned all of eastern Asia Into a slave reservoir 
for the benefit of his subjects) , the city of Rome had water-works 
which covered a distance of more than four hundred and fifty 
kilometers, that the Romans built commercial and military high 
ways of a total length of seventy-six thousand kilometers, when 
we remember that all those vast public edifices which served the 
daily needs of the Roman people were constructed by slave labor, 
we get a faint idea of the millions of human chattels that must have 
been at the disposal of these early masters of the Western world* 

Incidentally those vast numbers of Involuntary servants may 
explain the singular fact that both the Greeks and the Romans, 
who certainly were not lacking in Intelligence* who regarded the 
whole of the universe as their experimental laboratory, accom 
plished so little In the field of practical inventions. The people of 
Mesopotamia and the people of the Nile had owned slaves, but in 
comparatively small quantities. They seem to have lacked the 
facilities for subjugating large masses of their neighbors, When 
the Romans grew tired of their Irish question and decided to 
make an end of the Jewish nation, they quietly and unobtrusively 
destroyed Jerusalem, reconstructed the city according to their own 
notions on top of the ancient ruins, killed a quarter of a million 


of the surviving Judseans and drove the rest into exile, and the 
whole expedition caused little more disturbance within the Empire 
itself than a Nicaraguan expedition under the consulate of Calvin 
creates within the confines of our own glorious Republic. 

But the Egyptians and afterwards the Babylonians and the 
Persians were completely baffled by the Jewish problem and al 
though they had to deal with a much smaller number of Hebrews 
than Titus, they did not in the least know how to get rid of them 
or make them obey their will. 

Roman organization settled such difficulties with painful facility. 
And the Greeks, too, with their highly superior technique of battle, 
had found it a very easy matter to enslave as many of their neigh 
bors as they needed for their immediate use, 

It has been often said (and truthfully, methinks) that slavery 
is more disastrous for the slave-holder than for the poor serf him 
self, and the history of Greece and Rome bears out this contention. 

It is a well known fact that the two billions of gold which were 
transported from the American continent to the Iberian peninsula 
destroyed the national character of its people because it gave the 
average Spaniard a profound contempt for any sort of physical or 
mental effort. He was no longer obliged to work for his daily 
bread. The ingots of the Incas did it for him. 

A somewhat similar development took place in Greece* The 
Greeks of the age of Pericles had come to despise everything that 
was not connected with **pure thought.** A free-born citizen 
devoted himself to tk pursuits of the * c mind" everything done 
by the "hand" was left to the menial mercies of the slave. Even 
the great artists, the great sculptors and architects, did not escape 
this feeling of despisement. Pheidias may have been the greatest 
of all Greek sculptors, but his own contemporaries thought of him 
as we think of some Irish or Italian contractor who is digging away 
at a couple of miles of a subway. We happen (by mere chance and 
from a recently discovered Egyptian source) to know the name 
of the engineer who built the Hellespontine bridge across which 
Xerxes marched his armies into Europe. But about the men who 
were responsible for the temples and stadiums of Greece we know 
nothing but what they tell us through their own works and Vitru- 


vius is almost the only Roman engineer whose name has come down 
to us. And in order to gain immortality he had to write a book. 
To find a counterpart for this strange indifference, we must go 
two thousand years forward to the mysterious world of moving 
pictures. The modern followers of this anxsthetic pleasure hardly 
ever know the names of the men and women whose brains evolved 
the ideas upon which the story which delights their sluggish minds 
is based. They are familiar with the names of the poor mimes who 
forced through their paces on the screen, just a$ we happen to 
know the names of the utterly indifferent soldiers who first entered 
the city during the famous siege of Tyre, while we are completely 
ignorant about the personality of the mechanical genius who 
evolved the marvelous battering rams and ballistics that finally 
brought the Phoenician stronghold to terms. 

And yet it is not difficult to discover the reason for this lack of 
respect for the power of the creative brain. The Greeks and the 
Romans could draw upon such enormous reservoirs of human 
talent (in the form of slaves) that sooner or later they were bound 
to find a man who could provide them with whatever they wanted. 
They therefore never needed to worry that a problem would go 
unsolved, that a marsh would remain undrained, that a bridge 
remain unbuilt. The modern ruler of the movie realm knows 
that the intellectual proletariat is so large and so hungry that he 
can always buy some convenient man or woman to do his think 
ing for him. Who that person happens to be does not interest 
him any more than it interested Cxsar to know whether his 
chief engineer was black or brown or a pale yellow* 

That is probably the main reason why the moving picture with 
its incredible possibilities has remained a blot upon our civilization. 
It most certainly explains why the Greeks and the Romans con 
tributed so little to the further development of the machine and 
of mechanical appliances in general They did not have to exert 
themselves in that field of human endeavor. A centurion and a 
few hundred Veronese leather-necks turned loose in Gaul or Dacia 
would provide a whole countryside with enough workers to keep 
at least a dozen landlords happy and rich. 
And although the Romans were not without a certain mechan- 


ical aptitude (as was shown by the automatic marvels of the Colos 
seum, the disappearing and revolving stages of their public 
theatres) , in their daily lives they were comparatively indifferent 
about mechanical improvements and they were indifferent because 
necessity did not force them to be interested. "Why should they 
have bothered about installing an electric elevator in their houses 
when it was so much cheaper and easier to maintain a dozen Par 
thian slaves for the special purpose of hoisting them to the second 
story of their palace? Why invent dynamite when one can have 
the tunnels of one*s aqueducts dug by forced labor? 

If this argument sounds a little too simple to be quite true, I 
shall ask you to go to the patent-office and compare the number 
of inventions registered during the first sixty years of the nine 
teenth century by citizens of the South and by citizens of the 

"Would an Alabama land-owner of the year 1850 ever have 
bothered about inventing a cotton-planting machine? 
I doubt it. 

Out of these observations I think that we can distill the general 
observation that ft the amount of mechanical development will al 
ways be in inverse ratio to the number of slaves that happen to be 
at a country s disposal/* 

Prehistoric man and the Egyptians and the people of Meso 
potamia had contributed largely to the mechanical development 
of the world because most of the time they had been obliged to 
help themselves. 

The Romans and the Greeks had devoted themselves almost ex 
clusively to the theoretical aspects of science and had neglected the 
mechanical side of their civilization because their superior ability 
at the business of war had made it possible for them to base their 
culture entirely upon slave labor. 

But this state of affairs came abruptly to an end when Europe 
was overrun by savages whose proud boast it was that they were 
free men and who at the same time handled the spear and the 
sword with such dexterity that they were more than a match for 
the Roman legionaries, And while they invaded the European 
continent from the north-east, another force which was to contrib- 


ute greatly to the disintegration of Rome was slowly moving 
westward from the east. 

THE heathen of the modern world sometimes reproach the 
Christian church for its lukewarmness toward the miserable eco^ 
nomic status of the majority of mankind. Let fashion decree a 
skirt that reaches only to the knees, let frightened statesmen 
whisper a word about the danger of over-population, and the 
church will be heard from by return maiL Bishops, chaplains, 
vestrymen, yea, even the overworked head of the Roman branch 
of the Christian faith will arise in their wrath and will denounce 
the wickedness of the flesh as manifested by gun-metal hose and 
methods of contraception as propounded by the advocates of 
birth control with a fury that seems to know no bounds, 

But let an entire countryside starve to death as the result of a 
lock-out, let dozens of women and children be shot in conse 
quence of a labor dispute, and the church will remain as mum as the 
proverbial clam. 

This may seem regrettable on the part of an institution devoted 
to the dissemination of charity and brotherly love, but the fact 
is that the church only continues an age-old tradition and that 
the Holy Scriptures upon which her doctrines are based pay prac* 
tically no attention to the serious problem of obtaining our daily 

It is true that the Lord s prayer mentions a request for the pur 
veyance of a sufficient amount of "daily bread/* but that is ap 
parently a slightly erroneous translation. What Jesm seems to 
have meant was a request for daily spiritual sustenance.** For 
the rest, the Founder of the religion of the "West remains almost 
completely silent upon the subject of economics. The admonition 
to render unto Cxsar what belonged to Cswar sounds more like 
the attempt of a rather tired and slightly irritated man to avoid a 
debate upon a futile and ticklish subject than si positive expression 
of a well-defined economic creed. 

No doubt th<? material needs of the young prophet were very 
slight and by avoiding the pitfalls of the material world he could 
devote himself all the more thoroughly to the noble task of making 


men realize the practical values of those suggestions he offered for 
the solution of our manifold ills. 

An almost identical aloofness about the everyday affairs of our 
planet is found among the writings of the first of the great apostles. 
Saul-Paul was an indefatigable commentator who expressed his 
opinion upon all subjects with Cadmanian sincerity. From mat 
rimony to pedagogy he counseled, advised, and instructed, But 
of an interest in the practical problems of life, not a trace is to be 
found in those endless letters which he wrote to his followers in 
every part of the civilized world. 

It would be foolish therefore to expect Christianity in its original 
form to have made the slightest attempt to ameliorate the fate of 
the toilers. As introduced into the West through the efforts of 
Saul-Paul, Christianity was and remained an oriental philosophy 
of life. It was essentially a man s religion. It originated in a 
world in which the male of the species was relieved from almost 
all drudgery by allowing his wives and his slaves and his female 
children to do his harvesting and plowing and watering and spad 
ing for him, and Pauline Christianity was very careful not to 
interfere with any of these popular male prerogatives* 

To this day the pious among the Jews continue to thank a merci 
ful Jehovah that he did not let them be born women. And to this 
very hour not a single theologian has been able to prove that Paul 
and his followers regarded the serf as anything but a two-footed 
piece of cattle. 

To make matters still more complicated, or rather to make them 
still more simple, the followers of the new mystery believed 
seriously that the end of the world was near at hand and that it 
would be a sheer waste of time to attempt to improve man s lot. 
So why try? 

Furthermore early Christianity was decidedly a proletarian and 
anti-intellectual movement. Its programme addressed itself pri 
marily to the poor in purse and the poor in spirit. The rich and 
the powerful were not exactly excluded from the kingdom of 
Heaven but they were supposed to sneak in quietly through the 
well known Camel Gate* The razzias which the Christianized 
rabble held against the University of Alexandria, the lynching of 


philosophers who were suspected of unorthodox/, all these brutal 
manifestations of cultural intolerance clearly showed the attitude 
of the average convert towards those who were supposed to know 
certain things that lay beyond his own reach* 

And if Christianity had remained restricted to the Empire of 
the third century and had never passed beyond the countries that 
bordered the Mediterranean, it is doubtful whether European 
civilization could have survived the shock. Old and tired na 
tions are like old and tired people* They cannot stand great emo 
tional upheavals. Fortunately, the appearance of Christianity 
coincided with the conquest of Europe by young and vigorous 

The process of infiltration on the part of the eastern savages 
which eventually affected the whole of the Roman Empire was 
exceedingly slow. The Romans, vaguely conscious of what was 
happening, tried to stop this undesirable onrush with anti- 
immigration laws, with a strict military supervision of their fron 
tiers, by the social ostracism of the "foreigner" within their gates. 
All of which of course did not in the least help them. Nature has 
always abhorred a vacuum. The Empire had gradually become 
dotted with innumerable territorial vacua. Others came and took 
what the Romans were no longer able to hold, 

"We can be pretty certain that these Goths and Vandals and 
Alamannians and Burgundians and Frisians were an unappetising 
lot, long-haired, smelly, and devoid of all the social graces* But 
they probably were not quite as bad as their unwilling hosts painted 
them. And above all things (the story about them which has 
become most widely spread) their primary object in life was not 
to destroy. 

No doubt they could be as exasperating to people of discrimina 
tion as a traveling party of honest mid-western aborigines let loose 
in the Louvre or among the ruins of the Forum* But in their 
heart of hearts they resembled their twentieth century counter 
parts* In their heart of hearts they were so full of humble 
admiration before the older form of civilization that they could 
only express themselves by foolish and supercilious remarks* 

No Irish peasant come to financial glory is half as pleased with 


a Papal title as a Gothic chieftain of the third century of our era 
was with the empty honor of being called a Roman senator. And 
quite frequently a diplomatically inclined emperor could avert an 
open break with these dread invaders by bestowing upon their 
rulers certain tokens of recognition which temporarily at least 
deadened that dreadful inferiority-pain which attacked the poor 
savages whenever they came within actual reach of the immortal 

But alas, immortality is a virtue exclusively reserved for the 
gods* Human beings and human institutions are mortal. They 
grow, expand, and die with the regularity of trees and shrubs and 
after half a thousand years of slow decay the so-called classical 
world expired, and the Christian and the Barbarian who almost 
unwittingly had destroyed the old familiar civilization were forced 
to carry on. 

At that juncture those who denied life as a burden were called 
upon to make common cause with those who accepted life as a 
glorious expression of wonderment and joy. 

Out of their compromise of church and Barbarian grew the 
strange new world which we call the Middle Ages. 

THE new occupants of the great European peninsula found them 
selves in an uncomfortable position. As long as the northern part 
of the continent remained a wilderness they could live on the 

proceeds of the forest* But when the forest came down, as was 
inevitable with the influx of more and more immigrants, the 
problem of daily sustenance was no longer so simple. And it was 
a problem they were obliged to solve by their own ingenuity. For 
the mechanical age introduced by the Egyptians and the Bab 
ylonians had come to an end during the period of Roman and 
Greek ascendancy when slave labor had taken the place of the 
machine and now the slave had become the master. And although 
Europe became the scene of a grandiose system of anarchy, it was 
an anarchy of free men and for a while at least slavery In its 
classical form was unknown. 

After a few centuries the more powerful chieftains fell a victim 
to the old Roman delusion and bound their farm-hands to the 


soil. But even during the worst era of feudalism, the serf was 
rarely reduced to the rank of a slave. He was a stationary agri 
cultural workman. He was not an animated piece of machinery 
that could be bought and sold at will and that had no individual 
existence, like a plow or a barrow. 

THE study of upheavals is interesting but difficult. It is next to 
impossible to report a fair sized battle. To describe a social en 
counter that lasted seven or eight centuries is beyond the grasp 
of the ordinary mind. 

The period from the third to the ninth century will remain a 
mystery for a long time to come. The best one can say of most 
people who lived during the first six centuries after the extinction 
of the older forms of culture is that they survived. And they 
survived amidst surroundings that were as simple and as primitive 
as any that had ever been seen since the beginning of time. They 
lived amidst ruins, they borrowed or stole from the past in a most 
shameless fashion* They belonged to an intermediary period and 
had not yet found themselves. 

For the moment it seemed that all experimental curiosity had be 
come extinct. The world was slipping backwards. There still re 
mained a few people with inquisitive brains, ready to plunge into 
the unknown and continue the task of letting nature do what man 
did not like to do for himself. But they worked under a terrible 

The defeatist strain inherent in all Eastern creeds (and therefore 
in Christianity) fought tooth and nail against a return to that 
ancient state of affairs in which man had been regarded as the 
highest expression of all creation. 

The proud boast of c< homo sum" of the first centuries had been 
discarded for the humbly whispered confession that one was only a 
miserable sinner, caught in the toils of one s own wickedness, a 
poor, helpless child of God imploring the interference of the iem 
$x machine 

The written pages of a book stood firmly between Man and the 
Universe* A paper bulwark defied all people to inquire too closely 
into those secrets of nature which rcvaluated into terms of median-" 


ical appliances might have saved millions of women and children 
from millions of hours of drudgery. 

The struggle between the champions of human rights and the 
prophets of Heavenly prerogatives, which began in the fifth cen 
tury, lasted for more than a thousand years and even then the vic 
tory was not complete, 

The first great blow for the independence of the individual was 
struck with the invention of gun-powder. After the year 1300 
the possession of fire-arms meant pretty much what the possession 
of money-in-the-bank means today. It protected the owner 
against sudden eventualities it strengthened his feeling of self- 
reliance it gave him a spiritual assurance based upon physical 

From that moment on, the enslavement of the inanimate forces 
of Nature for the benefit of the human, race continued without 
further serious interruption. The curve of inventions took a sud 
den upward lift. It lagged behind in those countries where feu 
dalism was successful and where people had other people to work 
for them. It showed the greatest developments in those regions 
where man was brought face to face with the realities of life 
where he was called upon to do his own "digging" if he wanted to 
satisfy his hunger. Even the church was to feel the influence of 
this new spirit* Martin Luther, left to his own fate, would be 
known today as a courageous but misguided monk who had tried 
his hand at playing reformer and who had been burned at the stake 
for his troubles* Martin Luther, supported by a few landed pro 
prietors, might have survived a few years longer, but sooner or 
later his political friends would have been forced to make peace 
with the Emperor and the Pope, and would have been obliged to 
surrender their spiritual adviser to the worldly hangman. Martin 
Luther, backed up by a prince who through the recent invention 
of new mining machinery had become one of the wealthiest in 
dividuals of northern Europe, was invincible. 

I do 0ot mean to imply that the Reformation did not have a 
spiritual side. But all the spirituality in the world would not have 
saved it from defeat without the practical aid of the silver mines of 


The people of the Low Countries, rebelling against the tyranny 
of the Hapsburgs, would undoubtedly have fought as bravely as 

they did if they had only been poor fishermen or shepherds. But 
they would have suffered the fate of the German and French peas 
ants if their enterprise had not been based upon a number of simple 
nautical innovations which had made their country the common 
carrier of a great many staple products of the European food mar 
ket and had made them capitalists who need not spend fourteen 
hours of every day in the pursuit of eatables, 

I might continue the list almost indefinitely. 

In every conflict between the mechanically-minded inhabitants 
of the rapidly growing cities and their feudal enemies who based 
their wealth upon the possession of human chattels and continued 
the anti-mechanical traditions of ancient Rome, the citizens won 
out, until the difference between the mode-of-Ixving of the towns 
and the way-of -subsisting of the countryside had become so marked 
that the ruling classes themselves began to desert their ancient 
homesteads and moved citywards. Occasionally they tried to con 
tinue certain of their ancestral habits for the purposes of sport, but 
the despised machine which had its home within the city walls con 
tributed so much to their daily comfort that it was impossible for 
them to remain any longer amidst the simpler surroundings of their 
agricultural village and experience a feeling of satisfaction and hap 

Nowadays we sometimes contemplate the crowded streets of our 
cities and ask ourselves the question: "Why don t these poor be 
nighted fools leave their dark hovels and go and live in the country 
where there is plenty of air and sunlight and fresh green grass?** 

The denizens of our slums know this just as well as we do* They 
too appreciate fresh air and sunlight and green grass* But they 
positively refuse to return to a state of civilization in which they 
are called upon to perform a great many tasks which they have 
come to regard as unworthy of human effort because they can be 
done just as well or better by machinery. And far from despising 
the Iron Man, they love him so dearly that whenever the machine 
goes forth to live in the country, large numbers of people will 
hasten to follow. 


OF course It would be absurd to claim that our present form of 
civilization in which the machine is supreme is the last word 
in cultural perfection. But that is our own fault. Children with 
new toys with which they do not know how to play are a nuisance. 
Grown-up children, who suddenly find themselves possessed of fliv 
vers and machine-guns and factories and who take these things seri 
ously and render homage to steel contraptions as if they were mys 
terious gods instead of being merely servants, called upon to do our 
bidding and for the rest to "know their place," are bound to upset 
many pleasant old traditions. 

But children have one great advantage. Eventually they will 
grow up and sometimes even they will learn better. 

It is unnecessary to repeat the well known lamentations about the 
low intrinsic quality of modern civilization* Life, so it is said on 
all sides, has become dreary and standardized and shabby and 
shoddy* All people wear the same clothes, think the same 
thoughts, eat the same food, partake of the same futile forms of 
amusement. There is no high and no low. There is only an in 
termediary form of drab mediocrity. The exceptional man, like 
the exceptional artist or the exceptional musician, is given no 
chance to develop his talents. Whatever the modern factory pro 
duces must be so utterly fool-proof that it has lost all individuality. 

And so on and so forth. 

But alas, that complaint is really the complaint of the ages. 

Man, at the mercy of his own ignorance, has ever distrusted 
those influences which threatened to interfere with the safe and un 
disturbed pursuit of the one task with which he was fully familiar, 
the task of providing sufficient money or food for himself and his 

To blame the machine for all the evils of our age is an easy but 
one-sided way of escape, which overlooks the real issue at the bot 
tom of our problem. And surely the history of the first fifty cen 
turies of which we possess any reliable records shows us a very dif 
ferent story. 

Far from despising the assistance of mechanical appliances in the 
pursuit of food and leisure, man ever since the beginning of time 
has done his utmost to develop and amplify those contraptions 


which were really nothing but extensions of his own hands and feet 
and eyes and ears and which he meant to use as such. 

Upon a few occasions a superabundance of cheap forms of hu 
man labor made it unnecessary for him to exert himself as an in 
ventor. But whenever he did not find himself possessed of slaves, 
he pondered deeply and cogitated furiously and experimented and 
devised and corrected until he had fabricated for himself still more 
inanimate servants and had set himself free from still other bits 
of labor that could be done just as well by steel or coal or gasoline. 

In the fury of his eagerness, in his irrepressible desire to rid his 
own species of the curse of drudgery, he has unfortunately fallen a 
victim to the same error of judgment with which we became so 
unpleasantly familiar during the recent war when many honest cit 
izens seemed to overlook the fact that war could never be an end 
in itself and was only justified as a means to bring about peace. 

The machine too, we are at last beginning to understand, should 
never be an end in itself. On the other hand, as a means to one 
specified end (in this instance the delivery of mankind from the 
bondage of the larder and the kitchen) the machine should be 
given every possible chance to grow and develop* 

That in a general way was the ideal towards which the civiliza 
tions of the past were striving whenever they were thrown upon 
their own resources and realized by daily experience how much hu 
man misery goes into the raising of a single acre of wheat. 

It is of course fully possible that we shall prove less intelligent 
than our ancestors. Then the roles will be reversed, we shall lose 
our freedom and shall have to work twice as hard as before to keep 
our mechanical servants from starving to death. 

But that is another story. 

It belongs to the chapter entitled "Suicide." 


WESTERN civilization is derived from three sources: the 
Bible, the Greeks, and Science the last operating 
chiefly through machines. The reconciliation between 
the Bible and the Greeks was a slow business, achieved in the 
course of centuries by the Catholic Church. The Renaissance 
and the Reformation undid the synthesis, and left the two elements 
again at war, as in antiquity. On the whole, Protestantism repre 
sented the Bible and free thought represented the Greeks. Pre- 
industrial America was biblical rather than Hellenic, and agricul 
tural America has remained biblical, while industrial America is 
developing a new attitude, not hitherto known in the history of 
man. It is this new attitude that makes America interesting to 
the student of social science. 

The effects of science are of two sorts, rather sharply separable. 
On the one hand, there is the scientific outlook as it exists in the 
man of science; on the other there is the transformation of ordi 
nary life through the practical applications of scientific knowledge, 
more particularly through machines. The first k best seen in Ger 
many; the second in America. Let us begin with the first, since 
historically it developed earlier than the other. 

The Greeks are habitually praised by cultured persons on ac 
count of their literature and their art, but in these respects they 
were not very greatly superior to some other ancient nations, for ex 
ample, the Chinese. Where they were unquestionably superior was 
in their invention of the deductive method and the science of geom 
etry. Some few Greeks were scientific in the modern sense nota- 


bly Archimedes, who combined practice and theory, experiment 
and inference, in a thoroughly modern way* Some of the pre- 
Socratics, for example, Empedocles, were as scientific as was possi 
ble in the then state of knowledge. Aristotle is habitually praised 
for his extensive collection of facts, more especially in zoology; 
but the "Historia Animalium" shows that he was by no means 
careful to verify the tales brought him by those whom he em 
ployed, and that he did not realize the difficulty of accurate obser 
vation. Plato s influence was in the direction of emphasizing mor 
als and metaphysics rather than experiment; and in later times this 
attitude prevailed more and more, so that Archimedes remained 
an isolated figure. Plato, one feels, was led by his aristocratic 
mentality to think it vulgar to do anything with one s hands, and 
the methods of the modern laboratory would have seemed to him 
beneath the dignity of a gentleman. These and other causes inter 
fered with the development of experimental science in the ancient 
world, so that even what had been achieved came to be forgotten, 
But there existed no such obstacles to the development of 
geometry. Until the work of Lobatchevsky in 1829, it seemed 
that the premises of geometry offered no difficulty, and that 
genuinely new knowledge about the actual world could be ob 
tained by mere deduction. Consequently little attention was paid 
to premises and much to reasoning from them. This point of view 
dominated Greek philosophy and medieval theology. To the out 
look thus generated, particular facts were uninteresting except as 
the conclusions of syllogisms with general premises* The fact 
that Socrates was mortal was not ascertained from Plato s ac 
counts of his last moments, but from the premise that all men are 
mortal. With the Renaissance, the actual was re-discovered; it 
became interesting on its own account, not as a mere instance of a 
general rule. There was at first a revolt against the intellectual 
tyranny of system, for example, in Montaigne, who hardly ever 
mentions general rules except to refute them by amusing excep 
tions. But men tired of intellectual anarchy, and invented a new 
discipline for the mind. The new discipline was the scientific 
method, which is already complete, as a method, in the writings of 


The essence of the scientific method is the discovery of general 
laws through the study of particular facts. It is thus a synthesis 
of the Greek and renaissance outlooks. Particular facts are the 
basis of the whole structure, but they are used for the purpose of 
induction, and when they have led to general laws inductively 
obtained, the Greek methods of deduction are applied to infer new 
particular facts from the laws. This method has had the most 
amazing success amazing, because it is as indefensible intellectu 
ally as the purely deductive method of the Middle Ages. Hume 
long ago showed it up. All philosophy since his day has con 
sisted of sophistical refutations of his arguments: the special skill 
of the philosopher has consisted in making his refutations so subtle 
and obscure that their fallacious character was not apparent. Men 
of science, meanwhile, have simply ignored Hume, and have 
marched from triumph to triumph. Gradually, however, more 
especially during the last thirteen years, the best men of science, 
as a result of technical progress, have been led more and more to 
a form of skepticism closely analogous to Hume s. Eddington, in 
expounding the theory of relativity, tends to the view that most 
so-called scientific laws arc human conventions. Some of the lead 
ing authorities on the structure of the atom maintain explicitly 
that there are no causal laws in the physical world. And some 
philosophers hold the same view. ^Superstition,* says Wittgen 
stein, "consists of belief in causality/* 

This skepticism is a canker at the heart of science, affecting, as 
yet, only a few leaders, but capable, in time, of paralyzing the 
activities of the whole army of scientific workers. At least this 
would be the effect if men remained in the contemplative and in- 
tellectualistic mood. But science is becoming increasingly a man 
ner of life, a way of behaving, and is developing a philosophy 
which substitutes for the old conception of knowledge the new 
conception of successful behavior. The more skepticism seems to 
result from a purely theoretic attitude, the more the practical 
pragmatic attitude triumphs. This is likely to become true 
throughout the world, but for the moment it is of course more 
true in a country like America, where the practical success of 
science is very evident, than in post-war Germany, where pessi- 


mism and disillusion fit in with the prevailing tenor of the national 
life. It is therefore not surprising that America is leading the 
way in the transition from science as knowledge to science as a 
set of practical habits. On this ground, whoever is interested in 
the future should especially study America. To my mind, the 
best work that has been done anywhere in philosophy and psy 
chology during the present century has been done in America. 
Its merit is due not so much to the individual ability of the men 
concerned as to their freedom from certain hampering traditions 
which the European man of learning inherits from the Middle 

Perhaps these traditions can be summed up in the one word 
contemplation* European universities were originally places for 
the training of monks; and monks, though they tilled the soil, 
existed primarily for the sake of the contemplative life* A mod 
ern European professor does not till the soil, but he continues to 
believe in contemplation. In him this belief takes the form of 
admiration for pure learning regardless of its practical applications. 
I am myself sufficiently medixval to feel this admiration far more 
strongly than it is felt by the typical modern man. Nevertheless, 
I perceive that it is psychologically connected with an attitude of 
reverence towards the universe which is hardly compatible with* 
the modern belief in man s omnipotence through the machine. 
We do not contemplate a flea; we catch it. The modern point of 
view is in its infancy, but we may foresee a time when it will lead 
men to regard the non-human world in general with as little rever 
ence as we now feel towards the poor flea. This means that the 
philosophy of an industrial world cannot be materialism, for ma 
terialism, just as much as theism, worships the power which it 
believes to exist outside Man. Pious Russia, barely emerging from 
Byzantine ecclesiasticism, has become officially materialistic; prob 
ably the more pious portions of the American population will 
have to pass through this same phase. But sophisticated America, 
wherever it has succeeded in shaking off slavery to Europe (which 
is too common among the sophisticated), has already developed a 
new outlook, mainly as a result of the work of James and Dewey. 
This new outlook, embodied in the so-called instrumental theory 


of knowledge, constitutes the philosophy appropriate to indus 
trialism, which is science in the sphere of practice. 

The dominating belief of what may be called the industrial phi 
losophy is that man is master of his fate, and need not submit 
tamely to the evils hitherto inflicted upon him by the niggardli 
ness of inanimate nature or the follies of human nature. Man was 
in the past dependent upon the weather, which was beyond his 
control. This is still the case with peasants, who are usually pious, 
and still more so with fishermen, who are still more pious* It may 
be laid down broadly that the intensity of religious belief among 
sea-faring folk is inversely proportional to the size of their vessel. 
Accidents such as the sinking of the Titanic, however, tend to 
keep some measure of religion alive even in the largest ships. But 
this state of affairs is passing, and its passing is accelerated by 
every increase in the safety of navigation. 

Man, since he became capable of forethought, has been domi 
nated by fears fear of natural phenomena such as lightning and 
tempest, fear of starvation, fear of pestilence, fear of defeat in 
war, fear of murder by private enemies. Elaborate systems, partly 
rational, partly magical, have been built up to minimize these 
dangers. In the early ages of agriculture men dealt with the fear 
of starvation by means of human sacrifice, which was supposed to 
invigorate the Com Spirit. It is only very gradually that scien 
tific agriculture has displaced this attitude* Inundations, except in 
China, were usually dealt with by prayer to the River God. There 
was a general tendency to regard misfortunes as due to the anger 
of invisible beings, who could be propitiated by suitable ceremo 
nies. Pestilence was viewed superstitiously down to our own day, 
and is still so viewed in India. The fear of war has only just 
begun to be treated rationally, and those who so treat it still labor 
under the suspicion of being cranks. Our natural view of the 
causes of war is more consonant with Coleridge s: 

Kubla heard from far 

Ancestral voices prophesying war. 

The fear of murder by private enemies is supposed to be dealt with 
by the criminal law. But the criminal law, also, was in its origin 


superstitious, being based upon the notion of blood pollution. 
Even now, our emotion towards an ancient crime, such as murder, 
is quite different from that towards (say) forgery, which has no 
roots in the superstitious past. And even now, the retributive ele 
ment in punishment, which is superstitious, being based upon the 
rage inspired by fear of the criminal, prevents our criminal law 
from being as effective as it might be in the prevention of crime. 
Few people realize how very modern is the influence of science 
upon the intellectual outlook of cultivated men, let alone the or 
dinary citizen of a civilized community. The Greeks, and the 
Romans in their best days, were, it is true, not dominated by fear. 
But their hopes had a different quality from ours. Compare 
Plato s "Republic" with any of Wells Utopias. In Plato s hopes, 
men were to advance in virtue, and in a certain kind of wisdom; 
but he did not think of greater dominion over nature as an in 
gredient in the good life. Perhaps the reason for this was in part 
economic: where labor is performed by slaves, the free-man is not 
impressed with the importance of minimizing labor. But other 
more intellectual reasons played their part. Geometry led men to 
think that the truth could be discovered by reasoning, or, as Plato 
suggested, by reminiscence. Moral and assthetic considerations 
were allowed an undue weight in framing hypotheses about the 
physical world: it was supposed that the physical world must be 
beautiful and intellectually agreeable to contemplate, which led 
to a preference for simple hypotheses, such as that the heavenly 
bodies moved in orbits which were circles or combinations of cir 
cles. As the intellectual vigor of the ancient world declined, 
authority became supreme, and commentaries took the place of 
fresh thought. Thus, although a few Greeks had achieved a 
scientific outlook, the ordinary cultivated man had a view of the 
world in which scientific investigation played no part. 

This is no longer quite true of the Arabic civilization, which 
certainly had more scientific curiosity than the later Hellenistic 
centuries. But a great deal of superstition is mixed with science in 
all but the best of the Arabs. Alchemy, the search for the phi 
losopher s stone, the attempt to discover the elixir of life, occupied 
many experimenters thoughts to the exclusion of more genuine 


problems. In Europe, meanwhile, the over-emphasis on ethical 
considerations which is visible in all Greek post-Socratic philoso 
phy, and the subsequent undue respect for authority* which was 
both effect and cause of intellectual inferiority to earlier centuries, 
prevented almost all scientific investigation throughout the Middle 
Ages, except by those few men who, like Roger Bacon, had been 
stimulated by contact with the learning of the Moors, For all 
these reasons, science played hardly any part In life, even for the 
small learned minority, until the Renaissance. 

The Renaissance was, of course, primarily a literary movement, 
involving, at first, not an emancipation from authority, but only 
a change, more especially from Aristotle to Plato* However, 
when men realized that the ancients had disagreed with each other, 
they were forced to think for themselves to decide which ancient 
author they should follow, Copernicus discovered in Italy that 
some of the Greeks had taught that the earth goes round the sun; 
if he had not known this, it may be doubted whether he would 
have had the courage to propound his theory, in favor of which he 
had no very solid scientific reasons to offer. 

Kepler and Galileo represent the real Beginnings of modern 
science; it is in them that we first find the patient and unbiassed 
observation of large numbers of particular facts, leading to the 
formulation of laws which they had not expected. The contem 
poraries of Galileo, especially the most learned, objected to his 
habit of ascertaining facts by looking at the world instead of at 
Aristotle. But the time was at last ripe for the victory of science. 
In an earlier age, Galileo might have been forgotten; as it was, a 
scries of incredibly brilliant successors carried on his work quickly 
to its completion in Newton s "Principia/* 

Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, though 
science had to fight against both theology and the humanities, it 
acquired an increasing ascendancy over the minds of educated men. 
But until after the end of this period science was conceived al 
most wholly from the standpoint of theoretical knowledge. It is 
true that Bacon had said " knowledge is power," and had viewed 
knowledge in relation to its practical uses. But astronomy, the 
dominating science of the time, had not much utility except for 


navigation, and there only in its elementary portions. The in 
ventions which made physics and chemistry useful had not yet 
been made, or at any rate had not yet achieved success. The mo 
tive of men of science, accordingly, was to understand the world, 
not to change it. This is still the motive of those who make the 
great theoretical advances Einstein, Planck, Bohr, and such men. 
But everybody now-a-days is aware that science is likely to have 
practical applications, and this has greatly modified the prevailing 
view of the purposes of science. 

From the time when Charles II founded the Royal Society down 
to the outbreak of the French Revolution, science was associated 
with ^enlightenment." At first, it was a cure for "enthusiasm," 
i. e., for the kind of fanaticism that had been displayed by the 
Puritans, Then, in France, in spite of the fact that both Jesuits 
and Jansenists had produced ntany admirable men of science, the 
pursuit of mathematical physics became gradually associated with 
materialism, with opposition to the Church, and with political 
radicalism. This movement culminated in the Revolution, which 
produced, throughout Europe, a temporary diminution in the rate 
of scientific progress. 

It is only in the nineteenth century that science came to be com* 
monly regarded as affording a means of improving the general 
level of human life, not by moral regeneration, and not by political 
reform, but by increasing man s command over the forces of 
nature. This point of view was, of course, due to the industrial 
revolution, and to various inventions, such as steamships, railways^ 
and telegraphs. This view of science as the handmaid of industry 
has now become a commonplace. As already observed, it is now 
possible to hope that mankind may, to & very great degree, be 
freed from certain age-long terrors pestilence,; famine, droughty 
and flood, perhaps even war* 

Science, in so far as it is successful, eliminates these various 
kinds of fear from our lives. It cannot, of course, altogether 
eliminate the fear of death, but it can and does cause U3 to live 
longer than our ancestors, and to this process no definite limit can 
be set. Fear of natural phenomena plays a very small part in 
modern urban life* Once in a way, some event such as the Tokyo 


earthquake reminds us that Nature is not yet wholly subdued. 
Taking a longer view, science assures us that our planet will not 
always remain habitable, and that, although we may migrate to 
Venus when the sun s heat diminishes, that can only put off the 
date of our extinction by a million years or so. These distant 
speculations, however, have no power to disturb the urban worker 
as he hurries for his morning train. His emotional world is a 
human one, trivial, boring, but safe except from the anger of the 
boss. And so politics increasingly takes the place of religion, since 
it is in the sphere of politics that fear now finds its home. 

It may be said that, while science has already greatly diminished 
the fear of nature, it has so far, if anything* somewhat increased 
men s fear of each other. Lightning conductors, which George 
III (rightly, as I think) regarded as impious, have destroyed fear 
of "the all-dreaded thunder-stone/* But other inventions have 
enabled man to wield powers as destructive as those formerly 
wielded by Nature. And science has made society more organic, 
so that oa the one hand the rebel finds it increasingly difficult to 
escape the vengeance of the holders of power, while on the other 
hand social chaos, when it occurs, becomes a much greater dis 
aster than in more primitive communities* Perhaps for these 
reasons, the pressure of the herd and the fear of neighbors, are 
greater in America than in any other civilized country, While 
man collectively has been freed from bondage to the non-human 
world, men individually are held in bondage to their fellow-men 
more completely than in the pre-scientific ages. 

Will science, in the end, deal also with this form of fear? I 
think it will* Hitherto, the practical applications of science have 
been mainly directed to modifications of our material environment. 
"Whereas formerly the environment was a datum, something to be 
merely accepted and contemplated, it is now, so far as the surface 
of the earth is concerned, raw material for human manipulation. 
But human nature is still accepted as a datum. While we alter 
the environment to suit ourselves, we do not much alter ourselves 
to suit each other. The reason is, of course, that the sciences that 
deal with the formation of human character are far less developed 
than those that deal with the inanimate world. This, however, is 


rapidly changing. It is highly probable that in a hundred years 
we shall have acquired the same control over the characters of 
children that we now have over physical forces* We shall then, if 
we feel so disposed, be able to eliminate fear from the relations be 
tween human beings as we are already eliminating it from the 
relations of human beings with the world of nature. But what 
men will make of these powers when they come to possess them, 
it would be very rash to prophesy. Doubtless they will make 
something which, to our inherited standard of values, would seem 
horrible; but to them, one must suppose, it will seem good* Let 
us, then, console ourselves as best we may with Hamlet s dictum; 

There s nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. 

A good community is one that those who live in it think good; 
and that, at least, the scientic educators of the future will al 
most certainly be able to secure. 

The philosophy inspired by industrialism is seeping away the 
static conception of knowledge which dominated both mediaeval 
and modern philosophy, and has substituted what it calls the In 
strumental Theory, the very name of which is suggested by ma 
chinery* In the Instrumental Theory, there is not a single state of 
mind which consists of knowing a truth- there is a way of acting, 
a manner of handling the environment, which is appropriate, and 
whose appropriateness constitutes what alone can be called knowl 
edge as these philosophers understand it. One might sum up this 
theory by a definition: To know something is to be able to change 
it as we wish. There is no place in this outlook for the beatific 
vision, nor for any notion of final excellence. 

This "dynamic" conception of knowledge and of value is so 
ingrained in most typical modern men that they are incapable of 
understanding the nostalgia which it produces in a sensitive 
European impregnated with the older culture, European coun 
tries (except Russia) differ far less from each other than all differ 
from the United States* It is perhaps worth while to consider 
this difference impartially, since any forecast of the development 
of machine civilization based upon European experience is likely 
to prove fallacious. 


The last cantos of the "Divina Commedia * may serve to illus 
trate the point. In these the supreme bliss is represented as a 
combination of contemplation and love, both at the highest pitch 
of intensity, but wholly static, because perfection has been 
achieved and nothing is left to strive for. In Milton, more briefly, 
we find the same conception of heaven: 

"Where the bright seraphim in burning row 
Tfrdr loud uplifted angel trumpets blow, 
And the cherubic hosts in thousand quires 
Touch their immortal harps of golden wires. 

It is not suggested that the trumpets and harps should be of con 
tinually improved makes, or should be played by machinery to 
save the angels trouble and leave them free to increase the height 
of the buildings in the Golden City. 

The modern European artist or man of learning knows that the 
beatific vision cannot constitute the whole of his life, and is skep 
tical of any life hereafter. But if he is sensitive, whether as an 
artist or a man of science, a lover or an explorer, he lives for the 
moments which approach nearest to the ultimate ecstasy, when he 
is "silent upon a peak in Darien/ This is as true in the pursuit 
of knowledge as in that of beauty, for in a new theoretic insight 
he finds a rapture as intense as that of new love. 

Such men, however, are to be regarded as strayed ghosts from 
an earlier epoch* Men do not always belong to their own time: 
eminent men are often psychologically ahead of this epoch, but 
are sometimes behind it. Dante, for example, sums up preceding 
centuries, and does not suggest the future in anything except his 
use of the Italian language. It is a curious speculation to consider 
what various men of past ages would think of our civilization if 
they were miraculously transported into it. Archimedes, I fancy, 
would find it wholly delightf uL He would indef atigably visit fac 
tories, observatories, scientific instrument makers; he would read 
encyclopaedias from cover to cover; he would be immensely im 
pressed by wireless telegraphy, and beside himself with joy over 
aeroplanes. He would admire, above all things, our means of sci~ 


entific warfare, but would be unable to understand why they are 
not used to exterminate the barbarians* He would master our 
science and our mathematics in a few years of intense study, but 
our politics would puzzle him not so much what we do, but 
what we say, though what we do, also, would be in part unintel 
ligible to him* 

Aristotle, I fancy, would divide his time between Oxford Com 
mon Rooms smd the Zoo. In the latter, he would question the 
keepers as to the habits of their animals, and would be led to 
amend what he says on cures for insomnia in elephants* In the 
former, his conversation on metaphysics would be better appre 
ciated than anywhere else in the modern world, but he would 
be surprised by the lack of interest in acodlogy. He would make 
friends with explorers and statesmen, and would take a consider 
able interest in anthropology* But the mechanical aspects of our 
civilization would bore him, and he would be profoundly shocked 
by democracy. (So, indeed, would even the most democratic of 
the Greeks*) He would not use the subway unless he could have 
a special train for himself and his friends* 

Plato, if he could return to this world, would make friends 
with Deaa Inge and accept his views on modern civilization 
in Mo. 

Bacon would be appointed editor of the Encyclopaedia Britan- 
nicaj but would be dismissed for inserting advertising matter 
under the guise of articles. He would admire museums, card 
catalogues, and machine politicians. He would enthusiastically 
praise industrial technique, but would regard relativity and quan- 
.turn theory as unduly subtle, and as fantastic speculations of no 
practical importance. He would have many friends among the 
eminent, and would feel thoroughly at home in our world as 
soon as he had acquired a comfortable fortune* 

Newton, I fancy, would regret that he had ever allowed the 
world to become acquainted with his researches. He would be 
fairly happy so long as he remained within the gates of Trinity 
College, but motor cars and even bicycles would alarm him, and 
he would say that whenever he began to think about mathematics 
they ran into him. Machines, he would complain, have made 


present-day England less agreeable to the philosopher than the 
England of Queen Anne. And as Master of the Mint he would be 
inexpressibly shocked to find that paper had taken the place of 

I fear that a passion for psychological truth has led me to make 
these imagined reactions of distinguished ghosts more trivial than 
seems appropriate to their eminence, except in the case of Archi 
medes. Even the greatest men, however, are often influenced by 
very minor factors in forming their judgments; and this is an 
important fact, which should put us on our guard in attempting 
to sum up our own age. When we try to be as objective as 
possible in singling out the most important external differences 
between the present and the past before the nineteenth century, 
I think the following deserve emphasis. 

First: greater mobility both of men and goods. From the 
time when the horse was first domesticated down to the inven 
tion of the locomotive, the greatest possible speed of land travel 
remained approximately constant. The Imperial Post in the Ro 
man Empire travelled at about the same rate as Dickens stage 
coaches. Trains made a rapid revolution, but soon achieved very 
nearly their present speed. Aeroplanes represent a new revolu 
tion* Sea travel, although there was a vast addition to geograph 
ical knowledge, did not very greatly Increase in speed until the 
invention of steamboats. 

Second: speed in sending messages. Here the three stages, so 
far, are the telegraph, the telephone, and wireless. It is theo 
retically impossible to surpass the speed of wireless, which is that 
of light. In this matter, therefore, we have, in a certain sense, 
achieved perfection. 

Third: the substitution of machinery for handicrafts in indus 
try, with the consequent enormous increase of material well-being 
in all classes. 

Fourth: the improvement in public health, which has been par 
ticularly noteworthy since the beginning of the present century. 

Fifth; the application of science to methods of warfare. But 
this is a trite theme, as to which I propose to say nothing further. 

The intellectual changes brought about by science are in part 


considerably older than, the above practical changes, but in part 
they also belong to the last hundred years. It may be said, broadly, 
that science has simultaneously, and in equal measure, increased 
man s power and diminished his pride. In the Middle Ages, the 
earth was the centre of the universe, and the human race was 
the principal object of divine solicitude. The first blow to this 
outlook, and perhaps the greatest, was the Copernican system, 
with the discovery that the earth is one of the smaller planets. 
The next blow was the doctrine of evolution, as to which tradi 
tionalists are still fighting a rearguard action. The next, which 
is only now beginning to be delivered, is the analysis of mind and 
soul by behaviorists and bio-chemists. I have heard it suggested 
by a bio-chemist that mysticism is due to excessive alkalinity of 
the blood. This particular doctrine may or may not be true, 
but some equally painful explanation of the mystic emotion is 
pretty sure to be found before long. Physics, biology, psychol 
ogy, have each in turn passed over from superstition to science, 
and have each in turn demanded sacrifices dear to our human con 
ceit. The increase of power which men derive from science has, 
however, made these sacrifices endurable, and has allowed the 
scientific outlook to triumph in practice even with those who 
continue to reject it in its general and speculative aspects. 

Theoretical science itself has changed its character in the course 
of its development. Newton s ^Principia** has a statuesque per 
fection; a modern man of science docs not attempt to give his 
work this character. Final truth is no longer demanded of a 
scientific theory, or claimed for it by its inventor* There is no 
longer the same conception of "truth** as something eternal,; static, 
exact, and yet ascertainable. Consequently even the best modern 
theories are more satisfying to the practical than to the theoretical 
side of our nature. The more physics advances, the less it pro 
fesses to tell us about the external world. To the Greek atomist, 
an atom was a little hard lump, just like an ordinary body except 
that it was small. To the modern physicist, it is a set of radia 
tions coming out from a centre, and as to what there may be in 
the centre nothing can be known. Even when we say that there 
are radiations coming out from a centre, we are saying some- 


thing which, when correctly interpreted, is found to mean much 
less than it seems to mean at first sight. More and more, science 
becomes the art of manipulating nature, not a theoretical under 
standing of nature* The hope of understanding the world is 
itself one of those day-dreams that science tends to dissipate. 
This was not formerly the case; it is an outcome of the physics 
of the last twenty-five years. Undoubtedly it tends to strengthen 
the instrumentalist philosophy. 

The influence of the theory of relativity has been in this same 
direction, Einstein s law of gravitation is better than Newtoa*s, 
and represents an equal triumph of human genius; but its effect 
upon scientific mentality has been quite different. Both in Eng 
land and in France, Newton s work led men to think that they 
had at last penetrated the secrets of the universe; fine ladies 
tried to understand the "Principia," and philosophers took pleasure 
in expounding it to them. But Einstein s work has, on the whole, 
made men think that they know less than they had supposed. 
It seems that, although physics enables u$^ within certain limits, 
to predict our own experiences, it gives us only an abstract and 
formal kind of knowledge concerning what lies outside. If we 
continue to use pictorial language, and say (for example) that 
the earth describes an orbit round the sun, we must not suppose 
that "earth** and "sun" and "orbit" mean what one naturally 
imagines them to mean they are merely names for certain mathe 
matical expressions. Einstein, therefore, has not brought men 
the same sense of triumph as Newton brought, although his work 
is just as remarkable. "Laws of nature** have turned out to be 
in some cases human conventions, in others mere statistical aver 
ages. This may not be always the case, but at any rate the 
old glad certainty is gone. 

In conclusion, I wish to consider some of the social effects of 
science, and some of the hopes and fears for the future to which 
these effects give rise. 

There is one regrettable feature of scientific civilization as hith 
erto developed: I mean, the diminution in the value and independ 
ence of the individual. Great enterprises tend more and more to 
be collective, and in an industrialized world the interference of the 


community with the individual must be more intense than it 
need be in a commercial or agricultural regime. Although ma 
chinery makes man collectively more lordly in his attitude towards 
nature, it tends to make the individual man more submissive to 
his group. Perhaps this is one cause of the fact that herd instinct 
is much more insistent in America than in England, and that in 
dividual liberty is less respected both politically and socially, I 
think, however, that a more important cause is the mixture of 
races and nationalities in the United States, which makes herd in 
stinct a necessary unifying force. Even if a diminution of indi 
vidual liberty be an essential feature of a scientific civilization, 
the mastery over nature is so great a boon that it is worth while 
to pay even a high price in order to achieve it- And it is 
probable that, as men s habits become more adjusted to the new 
regime, the interference with liberty will become very much less. 

The omnipotence of man collectively and the feebleness of 
each individual man, which are features of a scientific civilization, 
should logically entail certain changes in values, religious! moral, 
and xsthetic. Belief in the infinite value of the individual soul 
arose as a consolation for the powerless subjects of the Roman 
Empire; ego-compensation had to be placed in another world, 
because the ordinary man had no share of political power* In the 
modern machine-world, owing to democracy and to the achieve 
ments of science, other compensations are possible, more espe 
cially nationalism, which identifies the individual emotionally with 
the power of his group* But in order that such compensations 
may satisfy, it is necessary to belittle the individual wherever he 
is not contributing to a totality. Lyric love, for example, which 
has inspired half the poetry of the world, has been a product of 
courts and aristocracies. Its revival after the Dark Ages was due 
to the Emperor Frederick II. The loves of an Emperor were 
events of public importance, and he saw nothing ridiculous in 
taking them seriously* His courtiers saw nothing ridiculous in 
imitating him* And so lyric love became a tradition* But in a 
civilization dominated by the machine, such seriousness about a 
mere emotion is impossible. 

Changes in religion and morals come slowly, owing to our cmo- 


tional resistance; yet they seem almost inevitable if a scientific 
civilization remains dominant for several centuries. In morals, 
we may expect a substitution of hope for fear, and an increase in 
the sense of the rights of the community as against the individual. 
Traditional morality, historically, was concerned with the relation 
of the individual soul to God. Political obligations formed part 
of the republican morality of Greece and Rome, but not of early 
Christianity, which grew up among populations without political 
power and therefore without political responsibility. This ex 
plains why many people still consider adultery a greater crime 
than acceptance of bribes by a politician or public official. Again: 
the State increasingly interferes between parents and children 
for example, by insisting on education and forbidding physical 
cruelty. It would seem likely that this tendency will continue; 
more particularly, the State may be expected to assume the role 
of the father by taking over economic responsibility for the child, 
on the ground that many fathers cannot be trusted in this matter. 
If so, there will inevitably be a breakdown of the family, which 
must modify social psychology profoundly, producing, in place of 
individuals, well-drilled armies of intelligent but submissive Jan 
issaries, without individual differences, and without loyalties other 
than their loyalty to the State. 

There remains the question: Can a scientific society be stable? 
Or does it contain within itself some poison which must ultimately 
produce Its downfall? The Greeks produced an admirable way of 
life, but it was incapable of survival Something of what they 
created passed into the Roman Empire, and thence into the Cath 
olic Church, but in a diluted form. So it may be that the in 
tensity of the scientific element in life will have to be diminished 
before men arrive at a stable polity. This possibility is worth 

There is, to begin with, an intellectual inconsistency in the sci 
entific outlook. The riominal practice of science is to accept 
nothing without evidence, to test all its assertions by means of 
facts. But in reality, as Dr. Whitehead has pointed out in 
"Science and the Modern World," science has dogmas as ill 
grounded as those of any theological system. All science rests 


upon induction, and induction rests upon what Mr* Saatayana 
calls "animal faith. * The proofs of the validity of induction are 
as numerous as the proofs of the existence of God ; but not one of 

them is calculated to carry conviction to a candid mind. This 
will not impede the progress of science so long as most men of 
science remain genuinely unaware of their theoretical insecurity, 
but as soon as they have to practise a semi-deliberate shutting of 
the eyes, they will lose the ardor of fearless explorers, and will tend 
to become defenders of orthodoxy. If, on the other hand, the 
instrumental theory of knowledge prevails* and theoretical prob 
lems are put to one side as merely scholastic, the Inspiration to 
fundamental discoveries wUl fail. I am not arguing that the in 
strumental theory Is false; on the contrary I incline to think that 
It is true* But I am arguing that it does not afford a sufficient 
incentive to the precarious labor of serious thinking. When 
Egyptian priests discovered the periodicity of eclipses, they did 
so because superstition had led them to record such phenomena 
with scrupulous care* A false belief may be an essential In 
gredient In dfscovery, and perhaps the progress of science will cease 
on the day when the men of science become completely scientific. 
If so, they will turn to superstition for relief, and the Dark Ages 
will return. All this, however, Is no more than a doubtful specu 

More serious is the effect of a scientific civilization, upon popu 
lation not upon quantity, which Is unimportant, but upon qual 
ity. The most intelligent individuals, on the average, breed least,) 
and do not breed enough to keep their numbers constant. Unless 
new incentives are discovered to induce them to breed, they will 
soon not be sufficiently numerous to supply the Intelligence needed 
for maintaining a highly technical and elaborate system. And 
new incentives will have to be far more powerful than any that 
seem politically feasible in any measurable future- In America 
and Great Britain, the fetish of democracy stands in the way; in 
Russia, the Marxian disbelief In biology. Wherever the Catholic 
Church is strong, mere quantity tends to be thought alone Im 
portant. In France, the economic system chat has grown up 
around the Code Napoleon makes any eugenic reform Impossible, 


Prdbably the best chance Is in Germany, but even there it is 
small. Meanwhile, we must expect* at any rate for the next hun 
dred years, that each generation will be congenitally stupider 
thaja its predecessor. This is a grave prospect. 

In the ancient world, it is clear that Greece in the age of Per 
icles and Rome in the Augustan age were more intelligent than at 
later times; it is also fairly clear that the decay of Rome was 
primarily a decay of intelligence. Will this kind of decadence re 
peat itself? Not if biological science can obtain the same hold 
over men s minds as physical and mechanical sciences have now. 
la that case, by positive and negative eugenics the average intel 
ligence can be increased in each generation, instead of being 
diminished, as at present. Unfortunately the concern of biology 
is with the most intimate part of human life, where emotions, 
morals, and religion alike stand in the way of progress. It may 
be doubted whether human nature could bear so great an inter 
ference with the life of instinct as would be involved in a really 
effective application of eugenics. Whatever may be thought dis 
agreeable in the machine age would be greatly intensified by the 
application of science to parenthood, and men might well think 
the price not worth paying, 

What does seem clear is that we cannot stand still with the meas 
ure of science that exists at present in western civilization* We 
must either have more science, in particular biological science, or 
gradually become incapable of wielding the science we already 
liave In that case the forces of ignorance and obscurantism will 
gradually creep back into power. For a while, the old machinery 
will survive, just as Roman aqueducts survived in the sixth and 
seventh centuries; but gradually there will be an increasing col 
lapse, until the skyscrapers become as strange as Maya ruins in 
Yucatan, Let us not flatter ourselves that this is impossible; all 
past history proves the reverse. 

In the course of this chapter, I have not sought to minimize 
what may be considered the defects of the machine civilization. 
I do not doubt, however, that its merits far outweigh its defects. 
Take two items alone: the diminution of poverty, and the im 
provement in public health. These two alone represent an almost 


incalculable increase in average happiness, and each of them is 
capable of being carried very much further than has yet been done. 
The remedy for the one-sidedness and harshness of our present 
civilization is to be sought, not in less science, but in more. Psy 
chology, physiology, and the study of heredity have much to con 
tribute. But if they are to add to human happiness, it is essential 
that we should learn to use the machine without worshipping it. 
Studies of industrial fatigue with a view to facilitating a greater 
output are not the most important part of psychology. The effect 
of stimulants in diminishing work on Monday morning is not their 
only effect deserving of study. Nor is suitability as a factory hand 
the only quality the eugenist should aim at producing. The ma 
chine was made for man, not man for the machine. The important 
thing about work is that it affords leisure for play; if it does not 
do this, it is not fulfilling its social purposes. When the same 
scientific acumen comes to be applied to human nature as has al 
ready been applied to the physical world, it may be expected* with 
some confidence, that the importance of happiness will no longer 
be forgotten. And evidently the honeymoon intoxication of the 
machine age will pass soonest in the countries which have been 
the first to experience it. I look, therefore, to the western nations, 
and more particularly to America, to establish first that more hu 
mane, more stable, and more truly scientific civilization towards 
which, as I hope, the world is tending. 


WHAT place has "business" in this symposium on Western 
civilization? After all, the intelligentsia continue to 
remind us cynically that "business is still business," and, 
if it has added anything to our civilization, its contributions have 
been but mercenary detractions from the loftier aspirations of man 
kind. Is the Moloch of modern industrialism anything but en 
throned avarice? How can the metallic notes of clinking coins 
mean anything but discord with the more exalted strains of higher 
idealism? Can there be anything of real value to culture and 
civilization in its broader sense in the "babblings of the Babbittry" 
in the market place? As business emerged from the darkness of 
medievalism with the tawdry pageantry of the guilds and of the 
princelings who capitalized the trade rivalries of the cities, did it 
not leave behind a tragic trail of ruthless exploitation, of warfare, 
and the debauching of civic honor? Does not business the urge 
for commercial development bear to this day the grave respon 
sibility for that insatiable thirst for Empire, for politico-economic 
conquest, which has been so repeatedly the cause of ghastly holo 
causts throughout all history? 

Can such an element be rated as a truly constructive factor in 
Western civilization? Have we not progressed in spite of this 
malevolent force rather than because of it? What has it really 
contributed aside from crass materialism and the debasements 
incident to its pursuit? 


At THE outset, the case folr business raises the counter query: how 



much of Western civilization would have been possible had there 
beea no solid foundation of material prosperity in each successive 
age upon which the lofty edifices of our culture could have been 
erected? To put it more concretely with an example from one 

of the golden eras of "Western history, the glories of Gothic archi 
tecture, which have immortalized the best of mediaeval idealism for 
us, rose primarily from the organizing ability, the industrial in 
genuity, and, above all, the solid earnings sordid perhaps at times, 
but none the less substantial and indispensableof craftsmen who 
were progenitors of the business world of today, 

One wonders what would have been the fate of latent genius in 
all the fields of art and letters throughout the ages had it not been 
for the continued and still continuing patronage of these "mer 
cenary magnates" whom the present-day literati delight to lam 
poon. Many of the brightest names enumerated elsewhere in this 
volume as typifying the heights of achievement in pamjyig, pjggtry, 
sculpture, architecture, science, and medicine would have disap 
peared without record, and Western civilization would have un 
knowingly been the poorer had there not been some affluent patron, 
ready to divejpt his tarningjjto immortalize the genius of some 
master, / Nor should we omit the inspiring and invaluable works in 
philanthropy and social service which have brightened many an 
otherwise dark page of arrogance and selfishness in Western his- 
tory, which the world owes to these same "materialists/* from the 
days of the great Fuggers of Augsburg down to their counterpart^ 
of our own day. /{ Granted, the motive may all too frequently have 
been the shallowest vanity, but the world is none the less their 

In order to be both just and accurate, we must appraise the place 
of business in this picture, not simply as a thing of material sub 
stance, but as a vehicle for the progress of humanity in all direc 
tions- The world of business is not simply made up of machines 
and merchandise, of counting houses and factories. It is the ex 
pression of, indeed the very means of existence for, civilisation* 
As Secretary Hoover once expressed it in speaking of American 
business advancement, "we are a nation of men, women, and chil 
dren* Our industrial system and our commerce are simply imple- 


ments for their comfort and happiness* When we deal with those 
great problems of business and economics, we must be inspired by 
the knowledge that we are increasing and defending the standards 
of living of all our people. Upon this soil grow those moral and 
intellectual forces that make our nation great." 

These same considerations are applicable not simply to the busi 
ness life of each nation; they bind the world of international com 
merce and industry In one compact unit, /whose economic in 
terdependence isjcnore and more evident with each new stage in 
^e^advanceinent Q| our civilization, / 

Time was when business was inseparably linked with the agencies 
of international discord and destruction; and in the earlier ages 
when nationalities were but vaguely defined and political units 
were reduced to hundreds of petty principalities and city states, 
the exploitation of their rivalries by merchant princes was wide 
spread* Indeed, It was but the Inevitable commercial reflex of the 
primitive principles t>f all relations between individuals that the 
ominous warning of caveat emptor was ever in the ears of every 
prospective buyer. Even after the well-organized city fairs the 
international market places of that earlier age and the strict regu 
lations of the various guilds had established certain elementary 
rules of commercial ethics, ythe^ cloud ^suspidon and fear still 
darkened the practices of trade./ Although in some quarters this 
principle survives to this day, it is being more widely realized that 
the only permanent foundation for business operations is to be 
found in the nu^ality of advantage in each transaction for both 
parties. Business today rests predominantly on credit, but an 
other name for confidence, which, of course, perishes instantly in 
the presence of that sinister medixval warning that the buyer must 


BUT let us get down to specific details and review some of the 
outstanding contributions of business throughout Western history, 
in terms not so much of their meaning in the narrower limits of 
economics, but In the broader sphere of general well-being. 

The threads of business run throughout the fabric of the re- 


corded annals of Western civilization. "Without the urge, and in 
deed the resources of trade and industry, not only would many of 
its brightest segments have been unwoven, but the very texture 
itself simply could not have survived. In the dreary records of 
the decline of one state after another, a conspicuous factor has 
been the laxity of business morale, the weakening of commercial 
acumen and fibre. In some cases, these once prosperous common 
wealths have faded from history because of the failure of some 
vital trade advantage, as in the case of the mighty Hanseatic 
League of the North and the powerful city states of the Mediter 

/The gradual spread of civilization moved with the tide of trade/ 
The Phoenicians were the pioneers as they felt their way cautiously 
from one sheltered haven to another along the shores of the in 
land sea, ever searching for new commodities, new markets, 
Finally, they boldly ventured forth on the vast wastes beyond the 
Pillars of Hercules and left the evidences of their batterings from 
the quarries of Cape Spartel to the stannaries of Cornwall -"-mere 
vestiges of sordid business, if you will, but also the sources of the 
very fuel for the light of civilization, for with the records of their 
trafficking they brought to Western civilization the alphabet. 

Then in their wake came their commercial heirs and colonial 
descendants, the Carthaginians and Greeks, with their substantial 
market centres at a dozen strategic points, exploiting hitherto un 
known raw materials and stimulating new Industries, many of 
which ultimately became the foundations of mediaeval society, 
Thus was the dark curtain of barbarism gradually pushed back ds 
civilization, in the persons of the lowly trader and hardy mariner, 
slowly groped along its way westward and northward, establishing 
its market posts, its primitive industries, its standards of barter 
with the natives. /Imperial Rome, with her panoply of military 
and majestic splendor, felt herself far from demeaned by the activ 
ities of her merchants*/ The network of roads which she spread 
everywhere for the feet of her conquering legions were also the 
highways of her traders, whose operations she shrewdly appraised 
as a binding force of her power quite as potent as the achievements 
of her soldiery. The Pax Romana was the shield, not simply of 


her far-flung political institutions, but particularly of her caravans 
and shipping. The visible vestiges of her Empire may suggest 
primarily the breadth of her military power from Hadrian s Wall 
in North Britain to the great camp of the Ninth Legion at MMda 
in "Western Spain, the barracks of Timgad, and farther Asia Minor. 
But more enduring and far more vital in their reactions on the 
world s civilization were her codes of business law, which to this 
day are factors in the affairs of trade and industry throughout 
the Latin lands of the Old World, and in the New, from Argen 
tina to California and Louisiana. 

As the Gothic hordes poured out of the wilds of northern and 
northeastern Europe, the "Roman Peace" was ended and darkness 
closed down upon the Western world. Business reverted to the 
primitive stages of nomadic barbarism, of furtive bartering in con 
stant fear of swarthy Saracen raiders or the rapacious Viking sea- 
hawks. But even with the threats of these two menaces from 
North and South, there came a constant stream of commercial and 
industrial contributions to the revival of civilization: wool, dye 
woods, and spices from Africa and the Near East to say nothing 
of those invaluable Arabic contributions of mathematical and class 
ical lore and numerous commodities and shipping experiences 
with each visitation of the Northmen, 

The first glimmers of a more pretentious commercial revival came 
in the commissaries of the Crusaders, who were soon followed by 
the merchant fleets of Venice and her rivals. The development of 
their lucrative trade with the Near East not only inspired many 
phases of architectural and literary accomplishment in Western 
Europe but provided the foundation of riches for the patronage of 
art and literature in Northern Italy during the generations of their 
greatest achievements. /Once more the crass materialists of bxjsi- 
ness sheltered and made possible the works of many of the im 
mortals of Western culture/ 

These merchant princes valued law and order; in fact, their for 
tunes were vitally dependent upon security; and, though the world 
of politics was riven with petty rivalries and clashing ambitions, 
the business life of the Middle Ages gradually evolved a compre 
hensive but effective series of international agreements and stand- 


ards of commercial and industrial behavior, which laid the founda 
tions for the restoration of Western civilization after its dismal 
depression in the Dark Ages. The formulation of such thirteenth 
and fourteenth century sea codes as that of the Hanseatic strong 
hold of Visby in the Baltic, of the island of Oleron in the Eng 
lish Channel, and of the Catalan comolat del mar in the Mediter 
ranean, maintained for centuries the basis of international shipping 
practice, integrity, and mutual confidence. Similarly the trade 
standards and usages of the guilds and of the great international 
fairs at Medina, Lyons, Leipzig, Frankfort, and elsewhere, which 
gradually crystallized into written ordinances, provided founda 
tions for modern municipal institutions and for commercial and 
financial codes, many of which survive to this day. /These were 
the symbols of that mutual trust which has always f>een tEe in- 
-dispensable factor in all enduring business relations the spirit 
which found expression in those early days in such usages as the 
phrase "easterling," or "sterling/* as applied in confident acceptance 
at face value of the silver offered in trade at the London Steel 
yard by the "easterlings" from the Hanseatic towns around the 
Baltic and the North Sea. 

Thus there gradually emerged the steadily strengthening de 
mand of the business world for orderly, peapdjjl relations, which 
gave powerful impulse to the movement toward the abolition and 
consolidation of countless petty principalities and the development 
of solid national growth./ The abiding and compelling convictions 
of the merchant world thus left upon the every-day lives of men 
and women throughout the civilized world an enduring mark which 
was far more real and immediate to them than the lofty, sonorous 
thunderings of emperors, whose glamours so dominate the pages of 
orthodox historians* 

It was only as these business agencies strayed from their proper 
fields and wandered along the devious paths of political aspira 
tions that their usefulness and solid worth began to crumble* 
When the guild rules no longer reflected the conditions and 
standards of living and slowly caked down as a deadening re 
straint upon the freedom of enterprise and initiative, and partic 
ularly when they injected themselves into local and even national 


politics even as business has done, to its shame and degradation, 
in many a later day the influence of these once guiding spirits 
upon medixval industrial and commercial life began to fade. 
When the Hanseatic League, once the proud mentor of trade 
standards throughout Europe, whose counting houses from Bergen 
to Venice, from London to the Lower Danube, stood for sterling 
integrity and impeccable reliability, began to intrude upon the af 
fairs of state, upon the bickerings of political factions, and the 
rivalries of petty dukedoms, its power as an agency for business 
morality and goodwill soon dwindled/ 

THE dramatic episode of the discovery of America has been ascribed 
to a variety of impulses the super-emotional expression of the new 
era of the Renaissance and the urge for new outlets for the ad 
venturous spirit and religious ardor, which had been rampant in 
Spain for more than seven centuries. The golden age of explora 
tion and discovery, which dawned during the late fifteenth cen 
tury and reached its zenith during the first half of the sixteenth, 
comprised a series of the most* brilliant achievements ever attained 
in the recorded chronicles of grand adventure. We think of this 
epoch usually in just those terms a bewildering story of astound 
ing 2plor/incredibly fantastic daring, and truly prodigious energy. 
It woula seem at first to be the sheerest sacrilege even to suggest 
the possible contamination of this immortal epic by any such 
lowly influence as commerce, and yet it was there, constantly and 

In appraising even the most exalted inspirations of men, such as 
this era of glorious adventure, it is folly to ignore that most prosaic 
of impulses, the njge$ ofjfoQid. And so, in searching for the 
motivating forces which so profoundly changed the current of 
"Western civilization and enriched its annals with a hundred 
Odysseys, we must not ignore the yellowed pages of the cook-books 
of the time. They have none of the glittering lustre of royal de 
crees or the illuminated splendor of papal bulls, but surely there 


could be no more immediate contact with the every~day life of 
humanity than this literature of its daily bread. 

The urge that drove the Portuguese down the "West Coast of 
Africa, leading to the accidental discovery of Brazil en route, the 
impulse that sped Columbus on that hazardous adventure across 
the dark wastes of the Atlantic, and the inspiration of the frantic 
efforts to break through the fogs of the Northwest passage and 
of the countless subsequent drives to penetrate the unknown 
wilderness of the new continent-y-nfiadjL .all of these immortal 
episodes had as their chief objectives the a,^ailMP ent: of new trade 
routes to the precious stores of spices in the East,/ 

Pepper, cloves, and cinnamon were absolutely indispensable for 
the heavily predominant meat diets of Western Europe. Vege 
tables, in the opinion of those whose opinion counted, were fit only 
for the crude board of the peasantry. The tables of the rest of 
society groaned under endless courses of meat, fish, and game; 
hence, the elaborate laws of the time regarding poaching, forestry, 
hunting, etc. The only substitute for refrigeration was a pro 
fusion of spices; and if there had been no such emphatic demand 
for them, issuing with increasing emphasis from every kitchen 
in Western Europe as living standards improved, one wonders 
whether there would have been any abiding persistence, any last 
ing accomplishment, in all of the adventuring, all of the fervid re 
vival of the Crusader s spirit, all of the hunting for the hated Mos 
lem in the Orient. 

When the Victoria, the lone survivor of Magellan s little fleet, 
finally tied up on the bank of the Guadalquivir at Triana, her 
precious cargo of cloves not only paid for the entire expedition 
but inspired quite as much jubilation as the astounding contribu 
tion to the world s geographic lore. /Business had its part, and a t 
vital one it was, in that memorable stride in the advancement* 
of Western civilization literally in its very first world-wide 

Later, as the era of colonization came on, we find once again that 
the longing for religious and political liberty was not the sole im 
pulse which inspired that great effort in projecting Western civ 
ilization across the seas to the New World. The diaries of the 


early governors of the Plymouth colony are dotted with references 
to the sums they "cleaned up," to use their own good Elizabethan 
phrase, on beaver skins and lumber. The first seeds of that sturdy 
growth, which was later to rise as the towering forest of modern 
American business, were planted by those stern devotees of Calvin- 
istic frugality. The dazzling riches of Aztec and Inca focused 
attention on the exploitation of those mainland sections of the 
Spanish empire, but, as their easily accessible treasures dwindled 
away, the more lowly commodities of the island colonies came to 
the front. The French physician, Jean Nicot, had introduced 
Europe to the allurements of "those curious incense burners of 
the "West Indies called tabacos" and had given his name to the dis 
tinctive ingredient of the weed. And so trade in tobacco, and, 
far more notably, that in sugar, came to inspire the struggles for 
empire which were waged in those waters for two centuries 
/struggles which wrought ultimately the dismemberment of the 
vast domains of Spain, at one time the greatest ever held under 
one flagy^-followed by the passage of supremacy from one dominant 
trading nation after another. 

Portugal, Spain, Holland, France, and England, each contributed 
its quota to the advancement of civilization in the New World and 
the Orient, and the annals of those contributions are inseparably 
linked with the business records of the time: the fleet system of the 
galleons, merchant adventurers, East and West Indian companies, 
the Hudson s Bay Company, the Darien Company, the Guipuzcoa 
Company, and many others of lesser fame. All of them obviously 
had their political aspects. Indeed the conquests of government 
and business went hand in hand and shared jointly in the countless 
episodes which stand high on the honor pages of our Western his 
tory and also, be it added in frankness, in more than one shameless 
atrocity of exploitation and vicious deviltry. The sordid associa 
tion of business and politics is not solely a phenomenon of our own 

With all of these world-wide searchings for new trade routes 
and exotic products there poured in upon the Old World an ever- 
increasing tide of raw materials and riches, of hitherto undreamed 
contributions to every-day comfort, not simply of the finery of 


Oriental fabrics, rare jewels, ivory, and gold, but lowly vegetables 
which were to change and vastly improve the diets of countless 
thousands the potato and tomato from Peru and Chile, chocolate 
from Mexico, to say nothing of far greater quantities of sugar and 
coffee than had ever been available at moderate prices from the 
meagre stream which had hitherto trickled to Europe through the 
Near East, Later also there came new cabinet woods, rubber, 
tobacco, vegetable dyes, cotton, numerous other fibres, and new 
base metals, all of which reacted profoundly upon the industrial 
development of the Old World, "With these new riches and com 
forts there came the resultant new desires for better things and 
simultaneously the means for their gratification. 


OUT of it all there emerged from the antiquated guild crafts, first 
the crude domestic industries, then the industrial revolution, and 
finally the factory system the ^ccessive foundation stones of 
modern business. Through them waTmHti Sfy emancipated from 

the medievalism of the guild system with all of its rigid regula 
tions and stern, archaic restrictions. A new era of business had 
come into being with far broader horizons, world wide in their 

scope. The autocracy of the craft hierarchies of the Middle Ages 
was gradually displaced first by the domestic or "putting out* sys 
tem of fabrication, the hybrid link between the home crafts and 

what was to follow, and finally by the full-fledged new element 
of the factory system* Democratic in its origins, springing as it 
did from the very roots of the social order, it was stxm to be trans 
formed into the ruthless tyranny of the new factory magnates, who 
bestrode the life, political as well as social, of the later eighteenth 
and early nineteenth centuries with inexorable power, 

In two brief generations, from 1770 to $40, they had created a 
new empire in England, which was soon to have its prototypes on 
the Continent and across the Atlantic, an empire of mills and 
foundries, of railroads and canals, and with it all a formidable array 
of sordid problems profoundly affecting the lives of millions yet un 
born* The host of new mechanical devices upon which they rode 


into power over the old industrial order became the symbol of their 
cold, calculating regime. They dominated the national drama of 
each major commonwealth in succession, even though they may 
not have been out in the centre of the stage in every scene. 

The factory chimneys of Manchester were indeed the guns that 
won the battle at Waterloo. The craving for empire was the 
theme of the Napoleonic era, but the means of its attempted 
gratification on the one hand and of its final frustration on the 
other originated in the grimy ranks of industrial and commercial 
cities, whence came not only the physical equipment of war 
fare but the equally invaluable weapons of embargoes, blockades, 
and, above all, fiscal resources. England s iron output rose from 
17,000 tons in 1740 to 125,000 in 1796. This mighty volume of 
raw stuff for the sinews of the war machine was ready to make 
its truly decisive contribution when the great need came to curb 
the menace of the Napoleonic legions. 

Had industrial history been just a generation ahead of this 
schedule there is no telling what would have happened to the 
gaunt, scattered bands of colonial soldiery of 1776 and to their 
precious cause. Once again the evolution of business fortunately 
retarded in this period played, in a negative way, a vital part in 
the development of Western civilization. 

After these spectacular, epoch-making transformations, the 
progress of the world s business during the first half of the nine 
teenth century seemed drab and lethargic. The heavy losses of 
warfare and of various crises in the Old World and New, aggra 
vated by the inevitable nationalistic ardor which has followed in 
the wake of every war in modern history, considerably modified 
the progress of international economic ajflf airs. The aggregate trade 
of all commercially active nations rose slowly in value from about 
1.4 billions of dollars in 1800 to 4 billions in 185:0, which meant 
a per capita growth from $2.31 to $3.76, according to Day s 
estimates. After the necessary allowance for price changes dur 
ing this period, the net result would seem to show practically no 
per capita increase in actual volume. In the field of industry the 
showing was distinctly better; evidently each of the newly or 
ganized nations, as well as older ones which had weathered the 


severe storms of previous decades, was concentrating its strength 
primarily upon the development of resources toward self-suf 
ficiency. The world s pig-iron production rose during the first 
half of the century from 800,000 tons to 4.7 millions, and coal 
from n.6 millions to 81.4. The gains in these two essential 
staples were particularly accelerated from 1835 onward; evidently 
it took two decades for the world of business to bind up its wounds 
and convalesce from the wars of the Napoleonic generation. 

The latter half of the century saw the accumulated momentum 
gathering speed with each swiftly passing decade. International 
commerce rose from 7.2 billion dollars in 1860 to 20.1 billions in 
1900, a per capita increase from $<J.oi to $13.02. Even with ris 
ing prices and thete were considerable dips as well as ascents in the 
price curve during the later years of the century this represented 
a most substantial gain in volume of trade. Industrial output 
grew at an incredible speed: the world s pig-iron yield was 7.2 mil 
lion tons in 1860 and 40.4 million tons in 1900, while coal produc 
tion rose impressively from 142.3 million tons to 800 million. 

Then came the thirteen years of the new century before the 
storm broke in the summer of 1914, a period of prodigious com 
mercial and industrial expansion during which the business world, 
as in the years just before the Napoleonic wars, seemed to be un 
consciously preparing itself for the frightful losses of 

WHEN we come to interpret these monotonous rows of figures in 
terms of their reactions on human living and civilization, the task 
is indeed a formidable one. Each age is fond of ascribing to itself 
the favored position as the "turning point * or "crucial period" of 
the trend of history. Day quotes the American historian, Adams, 
and the economist, Wells, who expressed in 1871 and in 1890, re 
spectively, their conviction as to the "unique and startling achieve 
ments" of the closing decades of the century, a period whose im 
portance was undoubtedly second to but very few and perhaps 
to none of the many similar epochs in time in any of the cen 
turies that have preceded it." 


Looking back upon that period, however, and particularly on 
the record of the relationship of business to the larger problems 
of society, it seems to be somewhat obscured by various question 
able tendencies. True, it was an age of astounding advancement 
in volume of material achievement; but in the intangible, though 
far more lasting, aspects of its record, there is less cause for gratifica 
tion. The gross offenses of monopolistic aggression, both of rail 
roads and industry, in the United States soon brought business be 
fore the bar of an outraged public opinion. The results were the 
Interstate Commerce Commission and the Sherman Anti-trust Law. 
More potent even than these and similar stern mandates in the 
written statutes of the eighties and nineties was the chastened spirit 
of business itself. From the cynical, mercenary devotees of trick 
ery, connivance, deceit, and general "public-be-damned" attitude, 
who had been so completely dominant in fixing the low standards 
of business morality, there gradually emerged a recognition that 
in self-defense business must shift its tenets to higher levels. The 
rigors of increasingly intensive competition made the consuming 
public the master; the rule of high-handed autocracy, which dated 
back a century to the industrial revolution, was distinctly at an 
end. Business became a thing of morals; its pursuit became a pro 
fession, which at last took its place with equal dignity and self- 
respect beside the law, medicine, and the ministry. The Wharton 
School of Finance was established at the University of Pennsylvania 
in 1 88 1, and the Harvard Business School in 19083 century or so 
after the first law and medical schools of the country and almost 
three hundred years after the first theological seminaries. Is one 
to conclude/ asks Owen D. Young, "that Harvard was fearful 
of an illiterate ministry of religion in 1656 but was not apprehen 
sive of an illiterate ministry of business until 1908?" 

The factors that entered into this amazing transformation in 
the soul of business are the basic themes of its history during our 
own generation, the truly vital contributions which it has made 
to the civilization of our time. The part played by business in 
the up-building of society to its present levels has been along 
widely divergent lines. First, and most obvious, is its contribu 
tion to the material comforts of mankind through a never-ending 


succession of inventions, each apparently more ingenious than its 
predecessor, each contributing an item which today may seem the 
sheerest luxury* but tomorrow may be an imperative necessity. 
The resultant transformation in our entire social order has been 
profoundly significant. 

The almost unbelievable improvements in the means of trans 
porting both things and thoughts within the past two decades have 
made the whole world one closely knit unit. Distance has been 
annihilated and with it the host of suspicions and hostilities that 
go with estrangement. In 1914 the combustion engine supplied 
only five per cent of the horse-power in the United States; today 
it contributes more than all other sources of power combined. 
It has completely remade our methods of business and the lives of 
our people on farms and in cities. It has created a host of en 
tirely new industries and fields for service. It has made lighter 
the burdens of thousands; it has bound together all sections of the 
country, however remote, with broad bands of concrete, and, be 
it said with regret, has plastered the countryside with billboards, 
gasoline stations, and road houses. 

The world s telephone wire mileage was about 33*7 millions in 
1913; it was more than 84.5 millions in 1^25. During the same 
period the number of pieces of mail carried increased from fifty 
billions to seventy-one billions, while the passengers carried on the 
.world s railway systems rose from seven billions to ten billions. 
Scores of other figures might be cited on these vital factors of the 
new age of transportation and communication, showing the 
astounding increase of international cables, the magic growth of 
the radio, the incredible advancement of aviation, trans-oceanic 
wireless telephony from San Francisco to Stockholm, from Berlin 
to Buenos Aires, the significant economies and increased efficiency 
of petroleum burners, of the Diesel engine, and of ihc electrifica 
tion of industry and transportation* 

From the point of view of business, this tightening of the net 
work of bonds of contact and communication around the globe 
has effected stupendous savings through the speeding up of valu 
able papers and commodities in transit. The newly established 
combination air and fast steamer mail service between Paris and 


Buenos Aires, cutting the schedule from twenty-one days to ten, 
will save millions in interest charges each year. The most highly 
perishable "commodity" today is commercial intelligence, and the 
usable supply of it has, therefore, been vastly increased by every 
new medium for expedited transmission of trade information and 
the means of its translation into values. 

It is true that with all of this speed, close contact, and resultant 
familiarity has come the disappearance of much that is romantic; 
distance lends enchantment and consequently all such space- 
annihilation has robbed our present-day business life of much of the 
leisurely charm and picturesqueness of the old days of the post- 
road and the clipper ship. Some cynics have even wondered 
whether Sarajevo could have brought on the holocaust of 1914 
without the radio and telegraph flashing with blinding speed each 
hasty impulse and momentary passionate outburst from capital to 
capital, which urged on the fateful, irretrievable decisions, or 
whether the cataclysm of 1870 could have happened without the 
"telegram from Ems.* 

Today, instead of dreaming in peaceful isolation, each industry 
or trade is almost instantly responsive to impulses generated far 
beyond the horizon. Never before has the business of all peoples 
been so completely, so literally internationalized, so entirely inter 
dependent. The textile mills in a small New England town come 
upon hard days; their principal market in far-off North China 
has dwindled because the sole industry of those remote Mongolian 
villages has collapsed, thereby destroying the buying power of their 
poverty-stricken inhabitants. The reason? Their livelihood was 
gained from making hair nets; the sudden shifts of feminine 
fancy brought on the bobbed hair "wave," and the once thriving 
Chinese hair net industry now lies buried under 400,000 tons of 
long locks, which have been shorn since the fashion started 
whence comes at least a portion of the distress in the New England 
textile mills. 

Of course, this despair of the modern business man in the 
presence of terrifying devastations due to changes in fashions is by 
no means a new phenomenon. In the year A. D. 22, Tiberius made 
these bitter observations to the Roman Senate: "If a reform (in 


dress) is in truth intended, where must it begin? And how am I to 
restore the simplicity of ancient times? . . How shall we re 
form the taste of dress? . . . How are we to deal with the peculiar 
articles of feminine vanity, and, in particular, with that rage for 
jewels and precious trinkets which drains the Empire of its wealth 
and sends in exchange for baubles the money of the commonwealth 
to foreign nations, and even to the enemies of Rome?** 

By these world- wide transmissions of impulses which react in 
stantaneously upon trades and industries, tens of thousands of 
miles apart, business has become infinitely more complicated. The 
merchant or manufacturer of today can no longer exist in com 
fortable isolation even if he wants to. He must know what is 
going on not simply locally, but in remote parts of the world, if 
he is to carry on his operations profitably. He must prepare for 
repercussions upon his establishment from outposts of civilization 
whose very existence was entirely beyond the comprehension or 
interest of his immediate predecessors. 


IN the face of this complete transformation of the world of in 
dustry and trade, it is the sheerest folly to contemplate the "return 
to pre-war normalcy," as is still the practice in some quarters. As 
a matter of fact, the business world realizes now f as never before, 
that nothing could be more disastrous than a reversion to the 
utterly medixval business practices and levels of 1913* To sug 
gest that we scrap all of this astounding post-war economic revolu 
tion and build our hopes and plans on 1913 specifications is simply 
babbling, antiquated twaddle. For some years immediately after 
the War, it was customary among statisticians to base their cal 
culations on pre-war index numbers, usually taking 1:9x3 as one 
hundred or perhaps the annual average for the last five pre-war 
years. Today the United States Department of Commerce is bas 
ing practically all of its statistical indices on the average of the 
years 1923-25 inclusive, which is taken as a typical intermediary 
point in the post-war period* 

The usual observation in some business circles about reversion to 
normalcy presupposes a fixed normal level which might be re- 


garded as a desirable attainment for business. Nothing could be 
more seriously misleading. If business is as awake and progres 
sive as it ought to be, it should obviously be readjusting its goal on 
a steadily advancing schedule. The last thing it can have in mind 
in this day of blinding speed and kaleidoscopic transformation is 
any firmly solidified objectives. The great reason why American 
business has progressed at such an incredible rate since the War 
has been its appreciation of the very fact that it must get away 
from the old and endeavor to attain steadily rising levels. The 
greatest monument to American industrial and commercial achieve 
ment is the enormous junk heap of abandoned practices, methods, 
and ideals, all of which were once " normal," but which today are 
the most useless relics of antiquity. Perhaps American business 
lias been wasteful, but it would have been even more disastrously 
profligate had it remained shackled to the sanctified precedents of 
its mummified past. 

Indeed, throughout the world wherever an industry or trade 
has been conspicuously successful in these recent years, it has been 
because its idea of "normalcy" has been the attainment of the 
abnormal, of the supposedly unattainable. 

Now this does not by any means imply that the devotion of 
European industry to the honored traditions of its past have been 
an obstacle to its progress. Such may have been the case in some 
instances, but the vastly different circumstances of European in 
dustrial growth make comparison with the corresponding develop 
ments in the New World extremely difficult and misleading. 
European industry still rests in many respects upon individual 
craftsmanship, the skill of artisans handed down sacredly from 
generation to generation. American industrial growth is in the 
main a matter of steadily advancing machine technique, of super- 
organization, and of management, engineering, and equipment ef 
ficiency, all of which are factors susceptible of continued rapid ad 
vancement and change. In the delicate refinements, however, of 
the craftsman s skill, the development is apt to be much more 

In general, the whole environment of American industry 
labor scarcity, abundant raw materials, large domestic markets 


has created a combination of circumstances vastly different from 
those prevailing in Europe* It is, therefore, only with the great 
est caution and reserve that one can contemplate the transfer 
of American methods of efficiency, mass production, and ration 
alization to the industrial communities of Europe. Such a trans 
fer would inevitably involve the dislocation not simply of manu 
facturing, but of labor conditions, which would be bound to have 
profound social and political repercussions. 

Indeed it is evident that those who have been prominent in pro 
posing such a transplanting of American industrial technique to 
the Old World have overlooked the fundamental importance in 
the American scheme of the element of mass consumption as well 
as of mass production. The development of American industry 
has been a matter not simply of machines and highly intricate fac 
tory organization; it rests upon a vast and steadily increasing pur 
chasing power within a market unincumbered by local trade bar- 
riers, racial or nationalistic antagonisms, and all the other hin 
drances which impede intra-European commerce. 

A conspicuous feature of this improved standard of living and 
buying power is the increasing tendency of larger industries to 
open the way for employee stock ownership. This has been de 
scribed of late as an economic revolution of major significance. 
Certainly it has made for a democratization of industry in a man 
ner totally different from, and probably in a large part impossible 
in, Europe at least in the immediate present* It has given labor 
such an inseparable part in management and in the profits of in 
dustry that the doctrine of curtailment of output has made no 
headway in the labor movement in this country. 

One of the inevitable costs of progress in all waste elimination 
in production methods has been the displacement of labor as in 
dicated above* This would involve in Europe a factor of major 
importance, particularly because of the relatively less elastic con 
ditions in industries and business in general- the greater difficulty 
of launching new practices, new enterprises, new consumer habits, 
etc. In America the problem has, of course, often been to the 
fore, especially in recent years, but there is here a vast advantage 
of new opportunity, of rapidly advancing buying power, of con- 


stant economic resilience, all of which have provided facilities 
for taking up at least some of the labor slack incident to the gen 
eral improvement in manufacturing technique. 

Throughout the history of the machine age this problem of the 
repercussions of greater manufacturing efficiency has been ever 
recurring. American steel production has increased fifty per cent 
per worker since 1913 and the efficiency of each operative in shoe 
factories has been enlarged sixteen per cent. In our automobile 
industry each employee is now turning out 1 1. y units (cars, trucks, 
etc.) a year as against 7.2 in 1913. In other words, the need 
for labor in that industry has decreased more than fifty per cent 
in ratio to the output. This advancing efficiency, plus the de 
flation of America s wartime industrial abnormality, has resulted 
in a net decrease in employees in our factories of something like 
917,000 since 1920. This substantial figure, if added to the 800,- 
ooo represented in the decline of employees in agriculture (partly 
due to more efficient methods, the use of machinery, automotive 
traffic, etc.) and the 240,000 relieved from the railroads (likewise 
due in the main to better operation and greater efficiency in labor) 
since the War, gives a formidable total of nearly two millions in 
these groups. 

If our observation were to stop at that point and, unfortu 
nately, several recent commentators have been so overwhelmed 
with that figure that their emotion has not permitted them to go 
any further the business of the country would indeed be in a 
grave situation. In fact, more than one scathing indictment of 
this manifestation of the modern machine age has been drawn by 
social reformers. 

There has, however, been a most helpful corrective, which has 
taken up most, though perhaps not all, of the slack, namely, the 
astonishing increase in non-manufacturing trades and pursuits. 
For example, since 1920, there has been an increase in the number 
of workers in automobile servicing and driving of nearly 760,000, 
including nearly 100,000 chauffeurs of buses, a vocation which 
scarcely existed before 1914. There are nearly 100,000 more 
insurance agents clamoring at our doors today than in 1919. The 
needs of the new electric refrigeration, light and power, and oil- 


heating establishments have required an increase of 100,000 in 
their service employees. Another hundred thousand addition to 
personnel has been required since the War in the management and 
general direction of construction work (exclusive of actual manual 
labor on building projects). There are 231,000 more teachers and 
professors required to look after the country s flaming youth of the 
present day than in 1919. The increase in the number of motion- 
picture servitors (again exclusive of production employees) ac 
counts for another 125,000 names added to the payrolls of that 
exuberant industry since the War, It is not hard to explain 
the increase of 170,000 barbers and hairdressers during the same 
period. One of the most impressive figures is that in the service 
branches of hotels and restaurants, whose personnel has increased 
by no less than 525,000 (some estimates run as high as a million) 
since 1920 a vivid commentary upon the social transformation 
which has accompanied this post-war development of American 

These new service functions not only counteract in large part 
the harmful unemployment effects of displacing manual labor by 
machinery; they are an encouraging indication of the higher per 
capita earning power of the operatives of the machines; they are 
a definite indication of better living standards and of the greater 
margin of general comfort made possible by lifting many of the 
burdens of drudgery from the backs of men and laying them on 
the steel frames of machines. As defined in the recent observa 
tions of a British visitor, "the objective of American democracy 
is to create an economic system which will assure to everybody 
who is prepared to work not simply food, clothing, and shelter, 
but a university education, a motor-car, a good annual holiday, and 
all of the amusement within reach, and which will then set to 
work either to increase his wages or shorten his hours from eight to 
seven and then to six or five so that more and more of his life will 
be spent in those leisure hours when he is master of his own time 
and fate." 

And so, the harnessing of machinery and of factory technique 
in its most scientific form goes on apace. Nearly seventy per cent 
of the power used in the United States today is electrical. Ac- 


cording to the latest available figures about $6,000 of capital is 
invested in the equipment and plant of American factories for 
every worker employed. This substantial sum a margin far be 
yond the corresponding figure in leading European nations ac 
counts largely for the fact that the output per man per hour has 
increased since 1900 about eighty per cent. 

There is a further social consequence of this changing era in 
the evolution of industry. In order to keep pace with the stream 
of economic changes that are engulfing one trade after another, 
business has in self-defense been compelled to resort to much more 
aggressive educational campaigns for the building up of trained 
personnel. The great technical schools in Europe have in recent 
years been materially strengthened, although their personnel and 
resources suffered sadly during the War and in the depression of 
1921-23. The number of pupils in American vocational schools 
has risen from 265,000 in 1920 to more than 752,000 in 1926. In 
dustry has taken upon itself not only the endowment of such 
establishments, but also the advancement of educational efforts 
within its own ranks through research laboratories on a vastly 
larger scale today than before the War, through trade papers, 
whose circulation in the United States exceeds two millions, through 
trade associations, of which there are more than two thousand in 
this country, and through close collaboration with various govern 
mental bodies engaged in the advancement of industrial learning. 
All this has led to a host of new approaches to business problems 
through more intelligent, far-sighted preparation for their solution. 

Industrial strategy is no longer a matter of momentary tactics, 
of sudden opportunistic shifts with each new situation. Busi 
ness today is operating more and more on long- view planning, upon 
shrewd, broad-visioned appraisal of situations and prospects, all of 
which has greatly modified the dangerous variables of risks. The 
slide-rule has indeed displaced the rule-of-thumb. The gyrations 
of the business cycle have been lessened in severity, so that the 
strain on the economic machine is greatly modified. Closer con 
tacts with demand and shrewder appraisal of its possible trends 
have lessened the strain on inventories and stocks, thereby modify 
ing greatly the overhead burdens of business. The American 


Federal Reserve System, whose counterpart is beginning to ap 
pear in many lands of Latin America and the Old World, has 
further contributed toward the same stabilizing process by more 
effective control of the flow of credit. 

Conspicuous among these newer forces of control is the vastly 
increased co-operative and collaborative element in modern busi 
ness* As Secretary Hoover has vividly expressed it, "We are, 
almost unnoticed, in the midst of a great revolution, or perhaps a 
better word, a transformation in the whole super-organization of 
our economic life. We are passing from a period of extremely in 
dividualistic action into a period of associational activities." These 
comprise a vast range of organizations embracing every conceivable 
phase of economic interest* There are perhaps twenty-five thou 
sand of them in the United States alone* Although in the case of 
the European organisations, their ancestry is traceable back to the 
mediaeval craft guilds in many cases, the present-day association is 
vastly different in its interests and significance. The purposes of 
some of them are admittedly sinister, but there can be no doubt 
that in the main their efforts are concentrated upon the modifica 
tion of the destructive elements in our business life* 

They stand for the adoption of codes of commercial ethics, for 
the standardization of grades of merchandise and accepted business 
practices, for the elimination of malicious competition, the cur 
tailment of costly litigation through the spread of arbitration, and 
the interchange of ledger experience as a means of stabilizing credit 
practices. Perhaps the instinctive gregariousness of the American 
business man, his recognition of his own inadequate experience, and 
the general democratic congeniality of life in newer social environ 
ments have all contributed toward the relatively greater advance 
ment of such trade organizations in America than in Europe. 

Nevertheless, business in the Old World is also groping toward 
the same broad line of development, though with a degree of 
patronage and control from governments which has not been 
tolerated in the United States. The European chambers of com 
merce are usually semi-official bodies, occasionally with compulsory 
membership, and always with some intimate association with 


political authority. Their proceedings, therefore^ have many of 
the sanctions of law in dealing with problems which are solved 
in America by voluntary restraint and informal collaboration. 
This contrast does not, of course, necessarily involve a judgment 
as to inferiority; it is simply the result of contrasts in environment, 
of entirely different social and political institutions, which prob 
ably would make difficult the injection of such American practices 
into Old World conditions. 

The fundamental theme of the early factory system was its 
autocracy, a characteristic which has regrettably survived to this 
day in a minority of certain industries and localities. The new 
development of democracy through employee participation in man 
agement and ownership and broad collaborative effort, partic 
ularly among small establishments, through trade associations, is 
perhaps the outstanding element in the present-day transforma 
tion of business* Incidentally, these changes have greatly modi 
fied the once widespread custom of condemning industrial and 
commercial enterprises merely because of their size. The rapid 
advance in employee-owner collaboration in the large concerns on 
the one hand and the activity of trade association campaigns to 
clear up trade abuses among small establishments on the other have 
indicated that there is no essential relationship, in inverse ratio, be 
tween the virtue and the vastness of business enterprises. A sub 
stantial contributor to this change in the public mind has been 
the ever strengthening conviction within business circles that good 
will is after all the sine qua non of survival and that one of the 
most effective means for the attainment of that goodwill is through 
collaborative effort in building up accepted standards of sound 
trade ethics. 

Until business can cure its own abuses from within through such 
commendable means, it need expect no mercy from the public and 
its authorized governmental agencies. Unfortunately, the expe 
rience of the past generation reveals all too many illustrations that 
such governmental intrusion upon the affairs of trade inevitably 
implies, especially in a democracy, the most dangerous temptations 
to bureaucracy and demagogy. And when the business relation- 


ships involved are international in scope, the perils are vastly 
multiplied. The additional phase of diplomacy and world-wide 
intrigue then begins to appear, with consequent problems of the 
utmost gravity. The cause of goodwill and friendly international 
relations is not encouraged by injecting the bickerings of the 
market-place into the counsels of ministries of foreign relations; 
nor does business itself stand to profit by being made the football 
of international politics as has happened on several recent oc 
casions when governments have undertaken active participation in 
affairs of trade. 

Post-war policies of nationalistic economic self-sufficiency and 
the general need of replenishing sadly depleted stocks of raw ma 
terials led to a widespread campaign for the further development 
and control of trade in essential crude commodities. These fac 
tors, coupled with the collapse of prices during the 1911 depression, 
resulted in the launching of several schemes to manipulate through 
governmental agencies the trade in such essentials as rubber, cof 
fee, nitrate, sisal, potash, quinine, and several others. In some 
cases this involved renewal of old pre-war price-fixing devices. 
This widespread injection of government into business may in 
some cases have had a momentary justification, but, as is invariably 
the case, the embarrassments of retirement, once such a step had 
been taken, have proved in most cases to be insurmountable. The 
situation of the producers in each case was temporarily aided, but 
the tendency toward further exploitation of the consumers, partic 
ularly through unscrupulous and irresponsible market operators 
who thrive only on erratic price changes, resulted in considerable 
friction and emphatic protest, particularly from American in 
dustries, which in most cases are the largest consumers of these 

However, the inevitable cycle set in. Artificially stimulated 
prices far beyond equitable limits, arbitrary regulatory impedi 
ments to trade, and other defects in government operation en 
couraged the use of substitutes of synthetic nitrates for the 
monopolized Chilean natural product, of other fibres in place of 
sisal, of various beverages substituted for coffee, and of reclaimed 
rubber and more economical uses of the crude product each of 


these at one time or another, and in some instances permanently, 
resorted to by protesting consumers as effective weapons o de 

The net result has been a thoroughly disturbed business situa 
tion in each case, much unnecessary animus and ill will, which 
have been promptly capitalized by professional agitators, and even 
more fundamentally a retarded introduction of the sound prin 
ciples of accepted business practice, namely, large volume consump 
tion at lowest prices consistent with stable fair profits. 

Such distortions of distribution bring up all too clearly the fact 
that among the outstanding problems confronting business today 
one of the most conspicuous is the need for improvement in this 
broad field of economies in selling methods. In contrast with pro 
duction, this aspect of the world s post-war economic development 
has been given far less scientific attention and intensified effort. 
The first problem after the termination of the struggle of 1914-18 
was the rehabilitation of productivity to fill the gaps in world 
supplies of goods and equipment, j Questions of economy in dis 
tribution, of eliminating wastes in selling costs, have only very 
recently received the attention which they deserve among busi 
ness leaders. The world as a whole is still obviously in the earliest 
experimental stages with installment selling, with such mass dis 
tributive apparatus as chain stores and mail-order establishments, 
and with problems of more accurate market appraisals, calcu 
lations of potential buying power, etc. It is along these lines 
of more economical and generally less wasteful selling that busi 
ness is likely to make its greatest progress in the immediate fu 

In this connection, one of the phases of newer distributive 
changes in Europe has been the active exploitation of the interna 
tional cartel, a revival in a more comprehensive form of an old 
pre-war institution. These organizations, which roughly may be 
described as marketing pools, now operate in dominating the 
European trade in some fourteen staple commodities, usually 
through the allocation of trade territories, sales quotas, and the 
establishment of uniform price policies. Ostensibly, their chief 
aim is to eliminate distributive wastes and excessive competition 


and to stabilize prices. As a matter of fact, they are, of course, 
still subject to all the usual faults of monopolies, notably a ten 
dency to protect and sustain inefficient units in the trade and an 
inclination toward the exploitation either of consumers on the 
one hand or of labor on the other* Though not organized pri 
marily as offensive weapons against the United States, it is ob 
vious that their success will encourage them toward more aggres 
sive competition with corresponding trades in this country. For 
the time being, their chief purpose is the elimination of abnormal 
ities in European business and the introduction of more orderly 
trading conditions on the Continent. They are part of the gen 
eral trend toward greater cohesion among Old World interests, 
both economic and political, and reflect the increasing belief that 
collaboration is indispensable if Europe is to be saved. The cartels 
have undoubtedly contributed some elements of stability to the 
world s trade in certain respects, thereby assisting the marketing of 
similar American products. Their further competitive develop 
ment and possible antagonism to American business practices, how 
ever especially in connection with their association with govern 
mental authority will undoubtedly be most carefully observed 
from this side of the Atlantic* 


this widespread growth of more and more associated effort 
in all aspects of business, the question is frequently raised as to 
whether we are not witnessing the rapid construction of a great 
Moloch of organized industry and commerce completely dominat 
ing and overwhelming the finer elements of individual initiative, 
the spirit of enterprise and originality. 

But whatever the machine age has done for us, it must be granted 
that it has spared humanity from the interminable and insufferable 
detailed, repetitive routine* The old Periclean law gave each 
Athenian the right to own five slaves. It has been calculated that 
every inhabitant of the United States has today at his disposal the 
power equivalent of ijo slaves. Surely there could be no more 
impressive indication of the contribution that machinery and its 


directive force, modern business, have made in easing the burdens 
of drudgery, in sparing the costs of countless tasks, and in making 
available a larger leisure for the enjoyment of those finer com 
forts which in earlier ages were the exclusive prerogatives of a 

Some writers, such as Aldous Huxley, for example, have ques 
tioned the benefits of our business progress and wondered whether 
it is not being accelerated at the expense of future generations. 
The population of the earth has increased two and one-half times 
during the nineteenth century, while coal production has grown 
one hundred and ten times, iron eighty, cotton twenty, the volume 
of the world s commerce forty, and so on. But does this piling up 
of mass output mean a better civilization? These critics quote 
Ben Jonson s observation that 

It is not growing like a tree 

In bulk doth make men better be. 

Unless these mighty works of modern industry and managerial 
genius really contribute to improved comfort and welfare for 
masses of human beings, business cannot claim to have advanced 
in fundamental social value since the primitive days of the in 
dustrial revolution. But most assuredly the business world has 
awakened to a new consciousness of its responsibilities in that direc 
tion and to a realization that only by assuming them can it play 
its part in restoring the fabulous losses of the War and the post 
war economic chaos. 


THE APPLICATION to industry of scientific discoveries 
and inventions, with the consequent great development 
of machinery and of every form of capital during the 
past two centuries, have wrought, as is well known, a marvellous 
increase in the production of nearly every kind of commodity de 
sired by man. This increase in every form of material wealth is 
definitely distinctive of Western civilization. What is not so 
commonly realized is that the Industrial Revolution, as it is termed, 
effected equally substantial changes in the daily lives of the hired 
men and their families, who came gradually to form the bulk of 
the whole community constituting in fact, at the present day, 
in the nations in which the changes have gone farthest, four-fifths 
of the population* It is the thesis of this chapter that the Indus 
trial Revolution, whilst ultimately of great social advantage, did, at 
the outset, in every country create considerable evils. These evils 
have been, during the past century, very largely prevented and 
remedied by appropriate collective action, differing in details from 
country to country, and varying in the degree of success yet at 
tained; but everywhere steadily increasing in volume and range. 
An analysis of these changes in the life and labor of the people, 
from decade to decade, and from country to country, will, we 
think, best reveal the present value and the future prospects of 
Western civilization. 


LET us note, to begin with, that the application of science and 


machinery to wealth-production, which is so characteristic of 
Western civilization, has no necessary relation to the Capitalist 
organization of industry, on the one hand, or to any particular 
status of the manual worker, on the other. As Dr. Beard points 
out in the Introduction to this volume, "Machine civilization is by 
no means synonymous with capitalism." The owners and ultimate 
directors of the instruments of production are not necessarily 
private persons or corporations of private persons, whose ^acquisi 
tive instincts" have led them to "build factories and start mass 
production," for the purpose of making profit* Quite apart from 
possibilities of the future, there is, in the world of to-day, no small 
aggregate of capital embodied in large masses in great undertak 
ings, in which there is neither private ownership nor private profit. 
We may instance, in one or other nation, great governmental sys 
tems of internal transportation and communication (railways, 
roads, and canals; the postal, telegraph, and telephone services; 
even radio broadcasting) ; innumerable national and municipal in 
stitutions of public character (schools and colleges, hospitals, and 
museums) ; the supply of water, gas, electricity, and hydraulic 
power; the tramway and motor omnibus service; the provision of 
dwellings, pleasure grounds and parks; the administration of vast 
areas of forest; even governmental concerns of magnitude deal 
ing with such transactions of finance as banking, insurance, inrest- 
ments, and remittance. In Great Britain, Germany, Scandinavia, 
and other European countries there are extensive "Democracies of 
Consumers" (the Co-operative Movement), conducting, through 
a hierarchy of salaried officials, "big business" of amazing bulk 
and variety, including banking, insurance, growing, mining, manu 
facturing, importing and exporting, together with both whole 
sale and retail distribution all instituted and administered with 
out any thought of "profit on price." There are, in fact, to-day 
States of magnitude in which as many as one tenth of all the 
families are on the public payroll, directly enrolled in either the 
national, the municipal, or the co-operative service. 

Moreover, the masses of men and women who pass their work 
ing lives in this associated production with the "machines," or 
other forms of capital who become more and more nearly co- 


extensive with the "Industrial State" are not necessarily "free." 
They have been in the recent past (as in parts of the United States 
down to 1 86$, and, here and there in Africa, even nearer to our 
own day) actually chattel slaves* They have been semi-slaves or 
unenfranchised serfs to the end of the eighteenth century (as in 
Scottish salt- and coal-mines); or down to x8$o (as in govern 
ment factories in Czarist Russia) ; or even (in parts of Asia and 
Africa) down to the present day. But in the modern industrial 
States of Europe, Australia, and America, as in Japan, and in the 
parts of continental Asia and Africa in which Western civiliza 
tion has already become dominant, the men and women laboring 
with the masses of capital are free wage-earners, working under 
contracts of service voluntarily entered into, which run usually 
for short periods, and are always terminable at the will of either 
party to the contract, 


THE initial effects of the Industrial Revolution on the lives of 
those wage-earners who were brigaded in the mines, the factories, 
and the other forms of highly capitalized industry, were twofold. 
As compared with the life of the individual producer in handi 
craft or agriculture, the factory operative found his work sim 
plified, systematized, and regulated. Instead of working when he 
liked, and producing what he chose, in whatever way he pre 
ferred, the handloom weaver or the agricultural peasant who en 
tered the cotton mill or the mine was required to be in attendance 
every day, at a prescribed hour, and to continue at the task dic 
tated to him for a fixed working period. In the England of 
the eighteenth century this involved, we believe, for large masses 
of workers, a gain in the diminution of loose living, hard drinking, 
ami spells of idleness and ill-health* 

S But the second and more general effect was wholly disad 
vantageous. Though the application to industry of power-driven 
machinery, and the more organized production which it neces 
sitated, poured forth a vastly increased aggregate of commodities, 
it soon appeared that the increase in wealth meant often no im 
provement of material conditions for the wage-earners, but very 

LABOR 113 

much the opposite. This happened, not so much from the 
thoughtlessness and inhumanity of the owneis of the new machine 
industries* as from the economic competition among them. As 
each, in the struggle to market the vastly increased output, strove 
against all the others, prices were reduced, and costs had to be 
cut. The hours of labor were progressively lengthened; the fac 
tories became more and more crowded with operatives; nothing 
could be spared for sanitation, nothing even for safeguarding the 
workers against accidents; the wages were reduced and again re 
duced, until only by the earnings of the whole family, man, wife, 
and children of tender age, could even a bare subsistence be ob 
tained. Aggregated in hastily erected dwellings, in areas devoid 
of the means of healthy existence, the population of the districts of 
the factory and the mine sank even below the level of the mediaeval 
village. The tragic process of this worsening of the conditions is 
described in every account of the Industrial Revolution. So far 
as Great Britain is concerned the account of what happened be 
tween 1760 and 1860 has during the present generation become a 
wearisome platitude of the history text-books. But those who 
realize what happened find it difficult to write about it without pas 
sion. Relays of young children destroyed in the cotton factories; 
men and women, boys and girls, weakened and brutalized by 
promiscuous toil in mines and ironworks; whole families degraded 
by indecent occupation of the tenement houses of the crowded 
slums; constantly recurrent periods of unemployment, and con 
sequent hunger and starvation; food adulterated, air poisoned, 
water contaminated, the sights and sounds of day and night ren 
dered hideous, these were the commonplace incidents of the in 
dustrial Britain of the beginning of the nineteenth century, dis 
covered and rediscovered, in trade after trade, not by sentimental 
philanthropists and sensational newspaper reporters, but by govern 
ment inspectors and legislative enquiries. Britain came first to 
this state, and perhaps went furthest in degradation. The condi 
tion of the people of the cotton-spinning centre of Bolton in Lan 
cashire was described by Col. Perronet Thompson in 1 842 in lan 
guage that palpitates with anger. "Anything like the squalid 
misery, the slow, mouldering, putrefying death by which the weak 

ii4 LABOR 

and feeble of the working classes are perishing here, it never be 
fell my eyes to behold nor my imagination to conceive* And the 
creatures seem to have no idea of resisting, or even repining. They 
sit down with Oriental submission, as if it was God and not the 
landlord that was laying his hand upon them." 

At the same time, the newly constituted Boards of Guardians 
(the Poor Relief Authorities), throughout the whole of England 
and Wales, were exacting useless toil from between forty and fifty 
thousand adult able-bodied men in oakum-picking, stonebreaking, 
and bonecrushing in the "Labour Yards * attached to the hated 
workhouses, or "Bastilles of the poor/* in return for pittances of 
poor relief just sufficient to keep them and their families alive. 
Of such workers as were fortunate enough to be still in wage- 
earning employment, men, women, and children, "pent up in a 
close dusty atmosphere from half past five or six o clock in the 
morning till seven or eight o clock at night, from week to week, 
without change, without intermission, it is not to be wondered 
at," states a contemporary Government Report, "that they fly 
to the spirit and beer shop and the dancing house on the Saturday 
nights to seek those, to them, pleasures and comforts which their 
now destitute and comfortless homes deny/* 


Now THIS state of physical and mental degradation among the 
wage-earners in the Machine Industry, and of widespread destitu 
tion and misery among "the common people/* was not the "Act 
of God/ It was not the result of famine^ pestilence, or flood, 
or of any failure of nature to reward honest toil. On the con 
trary, it occurred in a country that was year by year extending its 
dominion beyond the range of the world s greatest empires, with 
out a rival in foreign markets, at a time when those in command 
of the land and the machines, and of the commercial and financial 
organisation through which they were administered, grew rich 
beyond the dreams of avarice* Nor was it due to any lack of 
physical science, or to any backwardness in the inventiveness that 
harnessed the newly discovered forces to industrial production as 

LABOR 1 1 j 

fast as the capitalists could erect their mills, launch their ships, 
and construct their canals and railways. The hideous effects of 
the Capitalism of the first half of the nineteenth century in Great 
Britain were due, in the last analysis, to a state of mind; to the 
opinions generally held by the educated and enlightened govern 
ing class, and to the social organization, or lack of organization, 
which was the outcome of that state of mind. The destitution of 
the manual workers, and their consequent compulsion to become 
the docile slaves of the new machines, were, so Malthus taught in 
his ^Law of Population," part of the necessary order of nature 
the inevitable result of the pressure of population on the means 
of subsistence, which no effort of government or philanthropy 
could alter. It was inevitable, so the Political Economists de 
clared In the Theory of the Wage Fund, that wages should oscil 
late closely around their "natural" rate, which could be no more 
than sufficed for the day to day subsistence of the manual worker s 
family. To the energetic capitalist employers, as to the com 
fortable class generally, this "natural law" seemed, not merely 
inevitable, but also actually advantageous and beneficial to the com 
munity, for was it not the necessary basis of all riches, all refine 
ment, all learning, and civilization itself? "It seems to be a law 
of nature," wrote the Rev, Joseph Townsend, a popular clergy 
man in 178 y, in a work which was repeatedly reprinted during the 
next thirty years, and quoted with approbation in contemporary 
government reports, "that the poor should be to a certain degree 
improvident, that there may always be some to fulfil the most 
servile, the most sordid and the most ignoble offices in the com 
munity. The stock of human happiness is thereby much increased 
whilst the more delicate are not only relieved from drudgery, and 
freed from those occasional employments which would make them 
miserable, but are left at liberty without interruption, to pursue 
those callings which are suited to their various dispositions, and 
most useful to the State. As for the lowest of the poor, by custom 
they are reconciled to the meanest occupations, to the most labo 
rious works, and to the most hazardous pursuits. . . . There must 
be a degree of pressure, and that which is attended with the least 
violence will be the best. "When hunger is either felt or feared, 


the desire of obtaining bread will quietly dispose the mind to un 
dergo the greatest hardships, and will sweeten the severest labour." 

"Without a large proportion of poverty/" declared Dr, Patrick 
Colquhoun (the inventor of the modern Preventive Police force, 
to-day ubiquitous throughout Western civilization),; "there could 
be no riches, since riches are the offspring of labour, while labour 
can exist only in a state of poverty. Poverty is that state and 
condition of society where the individual has no surplus labour in 
store; or, in other words, no property or means of subsistence but 
what is derived from the constant exercise of industry in the 
various occupations of life. Poverty is therefore a most necessary 
and indispensable ingredient of society, without which nations 
and communities could not exist in a state of civilization. It is the 
lot of man. It is the source of wealth, since without poverty 
there could be no labour; there would be no riches, no refinement 
or comfort, and no benefit to those who may be possessed of 
wealth, inasmuch as without a large proportion of poverty sur 
plus labour could never be rendered productive in producing 
either the conveniences or luxuries of life." "Poverty," said the 
philanthropic Michael Thomas Sadler in 1818, "j$ the great weight 
which keeps the social machine going; remove that, and the gilded 
hands would not long be seen to move aloft ?: nor the melodious 
chimes be heard again." 

The American reader, will, we think, recognize in these extracts 
from writers in a country debarred from negro slavery a close 
resemblance to the arguments used, between 1830 and 1860, by 
the Virginian and Carolinian defenders of the "peculiar institu 
tion" on which the civilization of the Southern States was in that 
generation based. 


THE first reaction from the realisation of the condition of destitu 
tion and demoralization, into which the Industrial Revolution was 
hurrying the wage-earners subjected to it, came from certain 
farsighted philanthropists. What impressed Robert Owen, in the 
first quarter of the nineteenth century and Lord Shaftesbury in 


the second, was the imperative necessity of restraining, by the 
criminal law, the more heedless or the less scrupulous of the em 
ployers from making the conditions of employment in their fac 
tories and mines positively injurious to the health and vigor of the 
wage-earners, out of whose incessant labor so much wealth was 
being derived. In the successive Factory Acts of 1802, 1819, 
1815, and 1833, and in the Mines Regulation Act of 1842, the 
foundation was laid of an altogether novel policy of systematically 
"blocking the downward way" in the competitive struggle. With 
out specific theory, merely as a means of preventing abuses, the 
Legislature extended the criminal law, so as to give to those who 
were shown to be oppressed the protection that they were unable 
to secure for themselves. In the course of the century this princi 
ple received an almost continuous extension. In the great industry 
of coal mining, which came to employ nearly one tenth of all the 
manual workers in the nation, successive statutes required more 
and more elaborate safeguards against accidents, prevented the 
piece-workers from being cheated in their earnings, ensured tor 
them more sanitary conditions, limited the employment of women 
and boys, and more and more closely regulated, in the interests ot 
the wage-earners, the technical processes of the industry. In the 
present century, this legal control of the industrial conditions ot 
the mine was further extended, first to the limitation of the daily 
working hours of adult men, and secondly, by the enactment ot 
a Legal Minimum of daily earnings. We see a similar evocation 
of legislation with regard to the great army of those who go 
down to the sea in ships. By the succession of Merchant Ship 
ping Acts a constantly extending protection has been accorded 
to those engaged in the mercantile marine, with the object ot 
.securing them from accident, ill-usage, and oppression. Ihe 
Regulation of Railway Acts of 1889 and 1893 empowered the 
Board of Trade to prevent excessive hours of labor among rail 
way employees. By successive Trucks Acts^ Factory and Work 
shop Acts, and Shop Hours Acts, practically all manufacturing in 
dustries and nearly all retail stores have been similarly brought 
under regulation and inspection, in order to prevent the wage- 
earners from being subjected to insanitary conditions, preventable 


accidents, and excessive hours of labor. The present century has 
seen a similar protection against wages insufficient for subsistence. 
In 1909 and 1918, by the Trade Boards Acts, which have been ap 
plied to industries employing nearly a million wage-earners, these 
(men as well as women) have been given the security of a Legal 
Minimum below which the law does not permit their wages to be 
reduced. This truly remarkable development of British indus 
trial policy has not only received the endorsement alike of econ 
omists and of representative organizations of capitalist employers, 
but has also been paid the compliment of imitation, in principle, 
by nearly every other industrial community in the world. The 
nations naturally differ in the date, the nature, and the extent of 
the successive adoption of what is now summed up as Factory 
Legislation. Similar prohibition of wrongdoing is embodied 
in Great Britain from 1848 onwards, and in all other industrialized 
countries in the course of the nineteenth century in the long 
succession of laws relating to the Public Health, In all their rami 
fications, starting from the more serious infectious diseases which 
injured the rich almost as much as they did the poor. "Whilst 
Great Britain has on the whole led the way, yet at one or other 
date, and with regard to one or other point, Switzerland or Russia, 
Australia or Massachusetts, Sweden or France has from time to 
time improved on the contemporary practice. The International 
Labour Office of the League of Nations now works persistently for 
the improvement and the ubiquitous assimilation throughout the 
world of this policy of "blocking the downward way/ 5 

So FAR, we have dealt only with the laws which prevented the 
landowners and employers from using their freedom of competi 
tion in certain ways which had been proved to be demoralizing 
and degrading to those who served them* This principle of 
"blocking the downward way" in the working of free competi 
tion may be said to constitute the foundation of a Framework of 
Prevention. A second, and more controversial, stage in that pre 
ventive framework was the provision, out of public funds, of 

LABOR o 9 

particular services and commodities for the use of all those, whether 
rich or poor, who were in need of them. The bulk of the work 
of the tens of thousands of local government authorities in all 
the countries of Western Civilization is done as will be realized 
on reflection on a communistic basis, that is, on the principle of 
f 7o each man according to his need, and from each man accord 
ing to his ability." The earliest forms of this empirical commu 
nism may be seen in the paving, lighting, and sewering of the cities. 
Even more striking cases are the schools for the children and 
hospitals for the sick. The present generation has seen an 
enormous extension in range and in amount of this form of com 
munal service. Germany led the way in the addition, by com 
pulsory insurance, of Old Age Pensions for all men and women 
on reaching a certain age; and this provision, extended to widows 
and orphans, has been copied with various modifications by other 
nations. A corresponding, and equally costly system of com 
pulsory thrift on the part of the hired persons, largely subsidized 
by contributions from their employers and from the taxpayers, 
now provides, in more than a score of States, at least partial main 
tenance when sick or unemployed, together with medical treatment 
and often the gratuitous services, in finding new employ 
ment, of a public system of Employment Exchanges. The Frame 
work of Prevention thus includes, not merely an all-embracing 
code of protective legislation, and an extensive communal pro 
vision of public utilities for common use, but also communal pay 
ments to individual families, in Great Britain alone amounting in 
the aggregate to more than a hundred million pounds a year, at 
least two-thirds of it levied on the employers or the propertied 
class. It is paradoxical that there should be actually to-day in 
Great Britain much more "communism" in this economic sense 
than there is in Soviet Russia! 


CONTEMPORANEOUSLY with the development of the governmental 
Framework of Prevention, in the legislative blocking of the down 
ward way, and the public provision of necessary services for all 

izo LABOR 

who need them, there has grown up, from one end o Western 
civilization to the other, a different form of protection of the 
wage-earners against the; worst abuses of the capitalist system. 
The new status of wage-earner had, it was discovered, the inherent 
economic drawback, in comparison with the position of the in 
dividual producer, that the capitalist employer in the Machine In 
dustry had a position of vantage in the bargaining by which the 
terms of the wage-contract were settled. Not only could the 
employer easily afford to wait, whereas the day laborer could 
not; but even more serious, in the competition for engagement 
among men eager for subsistence, he could play oflf one wage- 
earner against another, so as to bring down the terms for the 
whole group to the level of the most necessitous and the most 
assiduous among them. In short, in the process of bargaining 
over wages, the employer was a combination in himself. It was 
inevitable that the wage-earners should seek by combination among 
themselves some way of regaining collectively at least a sub 
stitute for the independence .that they had individually lost Thus 
Trade Unionism arose to construct, by its collective agreements 
and regulations, essentially the same sort of shield against the 
worst offences of the Industrial Revolution as the Legislatures 
were devising in their Factory Legislation. In England, as in 
every other country, the resulting combinations of the unlettered 
workmen have made all sorts of mistakes, including everywhere 
a longer or a shorter period of violence and intimidation, marked,- 
here and there, by the destruction of property, and even murder. 
But wherever Trade Unionism has progressed, it may be seen, in one 
country after another, settling down to the attainment of its ends 
by one or other of three methods or expedients, the Method of 
Mutual Insurance (preventing any member from being, by dire 
need, driven to accept anything that the employer offers) ; the 
Method of Collective Bargaining (preventing the common terms 
being brought down by competition of the most needy or the 
most eager) ; and the Method of Legal Enactment (securing 
minimum conditions by law, in so far as the Legislature will con 
cede this). Jrade Unionism, like Factory Legislation, was long 

LABOR 121 

objected to by the economists, and still longer resisted by the 
employers; but it has, in the best organized industries, in country 
after country, converted both the one and the other to the es 
sential validity of its position; and with the gradual improvement 
in its methods notably in the increasing substitution of negotia 
tion for violence, and of the settlement of the terms of the wage- 
contract by public tribunals instead of by the wild arbitrament of 
the lock-out and the strike it must be deemed to have definitely 
established itself throughout Europe and T Australasia we do not 
know how far the same can be said of the United States as a 
feature of Western Civilization. 


IT is interesting to notice that, at least in the European industrial 
ized States, both Factory Legislation and Trade Unionism began 
as direct results of the Industrial Revolution, before the admission 
of the manual-working wage-earners to any share in government. 
Political democracy had, in fact, another origin. As an intel 
lectual ferment, it dates, in Europe, from the Protestant Reforma 
tion of the sixteenth century, from which, however, it only grad 
ually emerged. As a political movement in the course of the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was most dramatically 
manifested in the English Rebellion and Constitutional Revolu 
tion of 1640-89; the American Declaration of Independence and 
successful revolt of 1776-83; and the French Revolution of 
1789-96. The British demonstration that monarchs could be 
made responsible to those whom they had regarded as their sub 
jects; the emphatic American declaration of the inherent rights 
of all men to political freedom and social opportunity; and the in 
spiring gospel of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity that France 
transmitted around the whole world, combined, throughout the 
nineteenth century, in re-moulding the thought and re-drafting 
the political constitutions of Western civilization, until, in the 
Great World War of 1914-18, not merely autocratic Kingship, 
but also aristocratic privilege expired. Though it took more than 



a hundred years, even in the most advanced countries, before the 
political franchise was granted to the whole adult population 
and in some countries, such as Japan and Greece, and practically 
all those of Latin race in Europe as well as in South America, women 
are still excluded yet we must notice that the successive ex 
tensions of the franchise were, practically everywhere, conceded 
by the governing classes to argument, and not wrested from them 
by force; a notable testimony to the slow but sure effect on public 
opinion of the resounding declarations of the preceding century. 
It is the separate nationalities that have had, in Europe, actually to 
fight for political self-determination, not the manual workers in 
each nation. Moreover, whilst we may ascribe to the general 
movement for Democracy the gradual, and pretty general, adop 
tion of freedom of speech and freedom of association, it was espe 
cially to the intellectual influence of the theoretical Democrats of 
the United States and the Philosophic Radicals of Great Britain that 
we owe, along with universal voting, also universal schooling. The 
public educational systems of Western civilization, which to-day 
constitute (apart from the burden of debt and the cost of de 
fence) in most countries the largest single item of public ex 
penditure, are among the greatest of social achievements. It may, 
perhaps be regretted that the political philosophers, from whose 
teaching public opinion learnt Democracy, so far as elections were 
concerned, were seldom favorable to Factory Legislation, and not 
often even to the conception of a Framework of Prevention of 
working-class destitution a fact which partly explains the luke 
warm support given by the wage-earners for the greater part of 
the nineteenth century, to the merely political Democracy of 
"Liberal" thinkers. Not until the wage-earners, as a class, be 
gan to resort to political action on their own account, did the two 
streams join in the present century, in Great Britain, to merge 
in the establishment of the Labour Party, the immediate result 
of which has been the greatly quickened rate at which, during 
the past twenty years, successive advances and developments of 
collective action for the prevention of destitution in the wage- 
earning class have been made by Parliament and generally ac 
cepted by public opinion. 

LABOR 123 


DURING the past half century, in practically all the nations of 
Europe, the stream of Political Democracy has become trans 
formed into that of Socialism. What was essentially a struggle 
for reorganization, on the lines of broader and more complete 
Democracy, of the political machinery of the State, has become a 
struggle for reorganization of the economic and industrial ma 
chinery of each community, so as to substitute public and collec 
tive for individual and private control of the main instruments of 
wealth production. What is commonly not appreciated is that 
there are, in the world-wide Socialist movement, two varieties, the 
one derived from Robert Owen and the Chartists of 1837-48, to 
which Great Britain and Australasia have been predominantly dis 
posed; and the other, derived from Karl Marx, which captured the 
enthusiasm of the wage-earners (and received a great deal of sup 
port from the intellectuals) of continental Europe, The cleav 
age between the two schools is, however, historical and traditional, 
based rather on the methods of thought and political circum 
stances of the various countries than on any contrast of political 
programmes and immediate results. The special note of what 
may be called the British School of Socialism is that of the gradual 
and empirical application of collectivist doctrine in one field after 
another, relying more on the general acceptance, by all sections 
of the community, of particular changes, than on the conquest of 
power by the wage-earning class, leading to more spasmodic, 
though possibly less fragmentary, social transformations. The 
British Socialists, with those of Australia and New Zealand per 
haps also, we may say, in consonance with the practice of those 
of Belgium, Sweden, and Denmark visualize the Socialist Move 
ment as progressing smoothly and continuously, and resting al 
ways, at each stage of its advance, on general public assent, along 
the "Fourfold Path" of ever-increasing Collective Ownership, 
Collective Regulation, Collective Provision, and Collective Taxa 
tion. Many of the Socialists of the rest of Europe, on the other 
hand, together with many of those of America (who have not, 
as yet, had much experience of personal participation in govern- 


ment) contemplate an intensification and exacerbation of "The 
Class "War," leading to a Conquest of Power** by an advancing 

Proletariat even to the forcible seizure of government by a 
Socialist Minority overpowering a rebellious Capitalist Minority, 
without the "Apathetic Mass" of public opinion necessarily ex 
pressing agreement with either the one or the other. Leaving aside 
the striking exception, in quite unique circumstances, of the decade 
of Bolshevist domination of Russia, with results on which it is as 
yet hard to form any confident judgment, and confining atten 
tion to the actual achievements of the Socialist Movement in the 
various other countries during the past half century it is im 
possible not to recognize, throughout Western civilization, a large 
measure of similarity in what has actually been put in opera 

The observer will notice first, with the quickening of the com 
pletion of Political Democracy, to which we have already al 
luded, the rapid decay throughout all Europe, and often the prac 
tical disappearance, of the typically middle-class political parties 
and programmes, to which the world has commonly applied the 
term "Liberal.** The electoral and governmental struggles have 
everywhere come increasingly to relate, not to enlarging the per 
sonal freedom of the individual to f *do what he likes with his own, * 
but to economic issues: to the enlargement of the social opportu 
nities of the manual-working class, even at the expense of diminish 
ing the almost unlimited opportunities of the property owner; and 
to the extension in range and magnitude of those collective serv 
ices which promote the wellbeing of the whole community and 
make the special provisions required by its suffering members. 
Thus the whole range of Factory and Public Health legislation has 
been everywhere greatly extended; the collective prevention of 
disease and accident, and the collective provision for the infants, 
the sick and infirm, the aged and the involuntarily unemployed 
have gone ahead with a bound; gigantic systems of National In 
surance have been adopted, usually by the opponents of Socialism 
as a means of staving off cruder and more dangerous reforms; 
the aggregate collective ownership of the instruments of produc 
tion becomes every day greater, very largely through the growth 

LABOR 125 

of municipal and other forms of Local Government, mainly in 
such essentially public services as it seemed convenient to convert 
into legal monopolies, and in the public provision, not only of 
every kind of educational and humanitarian institution, but also 
of an ever-growing proportion of the dwellings in which the 
manual workers live. Who can measure the immensity of the 
improvement in the Standard of Life of the wage-earners of the 
world that has been wrought by these essentially Socialist develop 
ments of the past half -century? 


VERY different has been the activity of that other derivative from 
Robert Owen,; the essentially British movement of Consumers Co 
operation. This form of organization is characterized by its 
voluntary membership, in contrast with the State or Municipality, 
which are also Associations of Consumers, but of citizen-consumers, 
whose membership is obligatory. The Consumers Co-operative 
Movement^ which was for half a century unconscious of its own 
nature, may be said to have effectively started, after a couple of 
decades of abortive projects, in the establishment in 1844 by the 
28 flannel-weavers, styled "the Rochdale Pioneers,* of their little 
Co-operative Store in Toad Lane, Rochdale (Lancashire). From 
that humble venture, the Consumers* Co-operative Movement, on 
a predominantly working-class foundation without, at the outset* 
any capital; without external aid; without government assistance; 
for a whole generation without countenance or approval from 
philanthropists or economists has grown, in nearly all the coun 
tries of Western civilization, to a truly prodigious height. In 
Great Britain, for instance, it will, by the end of 1928, have nearly 
six million enrolled shareholding members, representing at least 
one third of all the families in the Kingdom. Its working capital, 
entirely accumulated from its own membership in the course of 
its own operations, exceeds one hundred million pounds sterling. 
Its annual turnover of commodities and services supplied to its 
members reaches two hundred million pounds sterling. Nor does 
it confine itself, as is often ignorantly supposed, to wholesale and 

ii6 LABOR 

retail distribution. It operates its own coal mine; its own arable, 
fruit, and dairy farms in Great Britain; its own tea plantations in 
India and Ceylon; its own wheat farms in Manitoba. It runs 
the largest flour mills and the most extensive boot factories in 
Europe; gigantic soap works, along with smaller cotton and woollen 
mills; extensive factories for all kinds of clothing; the making of 
jam, cocoa, confectionery, and all sorts of foodstuffs; bicycle and 
automobile works, furniture workshops, the production of every 
description of hardware; along with its own ships, its own build 
ing departments and its own printing works, its own depart 
ments of banking and insurance; its own depots and agencies in 
foreign ports serving its own organization for the importing or 
exporting of every kind of requisite to and from almost every 
country in the world. This vast industrial organization, almost 
entirely composed of wage-earners and employing two hundred 
thousand persons in the common service, is owned and directed 
upon the most democratic basis conceivable. Each of the six mil 
lion members of either sex, however considerable the accumulation 
of savings or number of shares standing to his or her credit, has but 
one vote for the Board of Directors of his society. Each local 
Co-operative Society, as a constituent of the national federal or 
ganization, casts its vote for the supreme executives in exact pro 
portion either to its enrolled membership or to the amount of its 
dealings with the federal body during the preceding year. Every 
executive reports to periodical open meetings of members, and is 
absolutely dependent for ratification of its proceedings, and for 
re-election for a further term, on the votes of these open meetings. 
Nor does Great Britain stand alone in this amazing and long con 
tinued progress of the Consumers Co-operative Movement. In 
America, as in Australia and New Zealand, the wage-earners have, 
until recent years, found other channels for their aspirations and 
their energies, though there are now indications that the Con 
sumers* Co-operative Movement is taking root. Throughout all 
Europe, however, and likewise in Japan indeed in thirty differ 
ent countries outside Britain, but mainly in Russia, Germany, 
Austria, Scandinavia, France, Belgium, and Switzerland Consum 
ers Co-operation (now comprising, in the aggregate, at least twenty 

LABOR 127 

million families and everywhere enlarging its membership, in 
creasing its annual turnover, extending its range of manufacturing 
as well as of distributing, and piling up the aggregate of its work 
ing capital and its reserves) is united in an International Co 
operative Alliance working for the further development of a 
Movement very definitely distinctive of Western civilization as 
such, knowing no barrier of race, religion, or class, and visibly 
transcending all frontiers, 


WE HAVE hitherto discussed the position and prospects of the 
wage-earning class in Western civilization almost entirely with 
reference to the advanced industrial communities of the Old 
World, in particular Great Britain, the country that we have taken 
as the oldest and still the foremost European exemplar of the re 
sults of the Industrial Revolution of the past two hundred years. 
How far can similar assertions be made, and like inferences be 
drawn, with regard to the country which is to-day pre-eminent 
in wealth production, the United States of America? 

Difficult as it is to make general statements applicable to all the 
countries of Europe, not to mention also Australia, New Zealand, 
and Japan, it is even more difficult to do so with regard to the 
North American Continent, It can, at least, be noticed that the 
United States, on the one hand, and the Dominion of Canada on 
the other, started their own form of the Industrial Revolution in 
circumstances very different from those of the European nations, 
and that they have enjoyed exceptional advantages in its develop 
ment. The United States in particular (leaving out of account 
the sparsely scattered aborigines) started with a population auto 
matically selected for energy, adventurousness, and relative 
emancipation from the old ruts of custom and convention. For 
two centuries or more, the Pilgrim Fathers were followed by what 
was, on the whole, a stream of immigrants distinctly superior in 
mental and physical strength to those who were left behind. They 
had at their command a continent of enormous, and, as it seemed, 
unlimited natural resources. The mere growth of the population, 

ii8 LABOR 

continuing for centuries at a rate unequalled at any time else 
where, necessarily resulted in an ever-growing increase, not only in 
urban land values, but also in the size and value of every kind of 
business enterprise. By the individual appropriation of this per 
petually created "Unearned Increment," each generation of prop 
erty owners and industrial employers for two hundred years has 
had poured upon it continual showers of private riches, increas 
ing in magnitude in every decade with every increase in popula 
tion, and every successive conquest of natural resources, until, 
within our own time, the profusion has reached a magnitude that 
staggers imagination. And both the existence of so extensive a 
population, and the production of so great an aggregate of wealth, 
have been made possible by the ability of the American inventors 
and the American employers, who have shown themselves not only 
equal to their continually expanding opportunities, but also (in 
assiduity, courage, and enterprise, and in openminded readiness 
to apply new ideas and new processes) possessed of a peculiar 
genius for industrial development that has left the Old World 
amazed and admiring. 

How, amid all this gigantic production of wealth, this per 
petual heaping-up of unexampled riches, have fared the steadily 
mounting proportion of "hired men," unforeseen by either Wash 
ington or Jefferson? The United States could not, it is clear, 
wholly escape the evil consequences produced in Europe by the 
Industrial Revolution and the growing predominance of Ma 
chinery and Mass Production. Boston and New York, Chicago 
and San Francisco had, in due course, their patches of insanitary 
and overcrowded slum tenements, as bad as anything that European 
cities had to show; and occasionally their crowds of underfed and 
diseased wage-earners, demoralized by unemployment and destitu 
tion ; and their swarms of children without schooling, without in 
dustrial training, growing to manhood brutalized by their lives 
and their surroundings. That the proportion of the total popu 
lation falling below the "Poverty Line" has been at no time so 
large as in the cities of Europe we may well believe. In America 
the whole class of manual workers benefited at all times by the 
opportunities open to the abler, stronger, and more adventurous 

LABOR 129 

among their number in the chance of taking up land in the 
West and all the prospects of freshly peopled settlements; in the 
exceptional mobility and almost frictionless passage from one 
vocation to another, and from grade to grade, in which America 
has so far excelled the Europe from "which it sprang; in the con 
ception of equality of social and political status, quickly translated 
into political democracy, which has so generally prevailed; and, 
finally, in the near approach to universal schooling for which the 
greater part of the population of the United States was early dis 
tinguished above even Prussia, Scotland, and Switzerland. In 
every generation, too and notably in our own time considerable 
sections of the wage-earners, in particular industries and in cer 
tain parts of the vast community, have shared, to an extent un 
known in the Old World, by specially large earnings and excep 
tionally advantageous chances of rising into the higher industrial 
grades, in the golden showers of unearned increment enjoyed by 
the owners of urban land and business enterprises. 

To cope with the destitution, disease, and demoralization, which 
formed, in the United States as in Europe, the dark shadow at 
tendant on the development of the Machine Industry and Mass 
Production, the American people have relied mainly on private 
beneficence. Their public organization of Poor Relief, compared 
with that which England developed from 1536 onwards, has 
perhaps fortunately remained, in nearly all the States, extremely 
rudimentary. But in individual almsgiving, and still more in the 
unofficial organization of appropriate charitable aid to the indigent 
sick and infirm, widows and orphans, aged and unemployed, to 
gether with the victims of earthquake, fire, and flood, the United 
States has been, at least for the last three quarters of a century, un 
equalled by any other country. In the magnitude of their en 
dowments of every kind, from Charity Organization Societies 
and hospitals up to universities and world-wide exploration and 
research, the American capitalists are as pre-eminent as in the 
magnitude of their wealth. In face of this boundless, and on the 
whole wisely directed philanthropy of the rich, it may seem un 
gracious to remark that as American no less than European ex 
perience indicates no amount of private charity, however skil- 

1 30 LABOR 

fully organized, can succeed in preventing either destitution or 
disease, and the ever-spreading demoralization of urban slum life, 
In order to avoid flooding, the dyke that withstands the waters 
must be complete and coextensive with the danger. No efficiency 
of protection in some places, with neglected openings in others, 
will avert evil consequences, which cannot be confined to the 
immediate sufferers, but will inevitably spread, and exert their bale 
ful influences on the community as a whole. Accordingly, Amer 
ica has not failed to provide the necessary dyke, by steadily in 
creasing Federal, State, and Municipal action, which serves, to a 
greater extent than is commonly realized, as a Framework of Pre 
vention comparable with that erected in Great Britain and the 
most advanced countries of continental Europe. Yet, as in these 
countries, the American Framework of Prevention seems to have 
its own incompleteness, and a special "patchiness/* of which 
thoughtful Americans are themselves uneasily conscious. 

With regard to the whole range of Public Health, from birth 
to death, there are American cities in which almost every branch 
of this important work on the one hand the care of maternity 
and infancy, the provision for children below and during the 
school age, the medical treatment of the physically or mentally 
sick or disordered, the protection of the widow and the orphan, 
the infirm and the aged; and, on the other, the paving, lighting, 
and drainage, the water supply and the housing, the fire protec 
tion and the parks, the food inspection and the sanitary disposal 
of garbage are, taken as a whole, not below the standard of the 
best governed cities of the Old World. In some branches of this 
work, indeed, many American cities are authoritatively reported 
to be superior to anything the Old World can show. Yet other 
cities, and the districts just outside even the best governed cities, 
will often be found to be, to the European eye, almost mediaeval 
in their neglect of the most elementary requirements of Public 
Health. Perhaps the part of the Framework of Prevention in 
which the United States, taken as a whole, compares most favor 
ably with nearly every other nation, is that of education. Yet 
even here there are large sections of the hundred and twenty mil 
lions of population which, in respect of the universality of com- 

LABOR 131 

mon schooling, recall the conditions of the England of a century 
ago. The most striking instance of this characteristic "patchi- 
ness" of American civilization with regard to universal schooling 
is the practical exclusion from the common system of the not 
inconsiderable section of the young citizens who are Roman Cath 
olics, clinging invincibly to the schools taught by teachers of 
their own faith, in a mental atmosphere of their own religion. 
That something approaching two million American children should 
be growing up in the "parochial schools" uninspected, unsub- 
sidized and, as a whole, inevitably far inferior in scholastic ef 
ficiency to the common standard amounts to a gap in the na 
tional educational system which is of grave import for the future, 
all the more serious because, for various reasons, the Roman Cath 
olics of all racial origins are the most rapidly increasing part of the 
population. European experience some would say also Austra 
lian experience indicates that there is no way of stopping this 
gap short of including in the national system, by appropriate ad 
ministrative devices, denominational schools as such, for the minor 
ities which insist on them. Another equally extensive and more 
commonly recognized gap is the serious inferiority of the edu 
cational provision for the children of color: a problem for which 
neither European nor Australian experience affords any solution. 
It is interesting to the Englishman to notice the beginning, here 
and there, of developments, corresponding with the remarkable 
extension of the British school system in the past twenty years, 
from the care of the child s mind to the care of the child s body. 
It is a feature of the great city of the twentieth century that there 
needs to be provision for the periodical medical inspection of the 
school child to discover incipient physical ailments and defects; 
for the "following up" by the School Nurse, or by the volunteer 
members of a Children s Care Committee, of children found to 
have "dirty heads," or to be in need of medical treatment or of 
such appliances as spectacles; for the actual provision of such 
treatment or appliances for those unable to buy them; even for 
the provision of meals or additional nourishment for children 
found to be suffering from hunger; and finally, on the one hand, 
for the transfer to special schools of the children found to be, in 

13* LABOR 

one or other respect, "subnormal" or abnormal; and, on the other 
hand, for the effective promotion to higher grades of schools, by 
means of maintenance scholarships, of the poorest children of 
superior capacity. 

It seems to be one of the incidental drawbacks of the division 
into forty-eight autonomous States, all clinging to their "State 
Sovereignty," and protected by the rigidity of the Federal Con 
stitution interpreted by a necessarily ^conservative" Supreme 
Court, that almost insuperable difficulties stand in the way, in 
America, of any national system of employment exchanges that 
might minimize the time lost in shifting from job to job; and 
also in the way of any nation-wide provision against the not in 
considerable proportion of actual destitution that can hardly fail 
to accompany, in a community of hired wage-earners, sickness, 
accident, and premature infirmity, widowhood, and old age, 
and the prolonged involuntary unemployment due to fluctua 
tions of trade. It is not easy to foresee by what expedient Amer 
ican statesmanship will solve, as it certainly will, the problem of 
how to adapt to American political conditions some equivalent to 
the British and German national systems of universal insurance 
providing maintenance during those periods of life in which wage- 
earning is impossible. In short, what American civilization seems 
most to lack from the standpoint of the vast majority of the 
heads of families who are "hired men" is economic security. In 
spite of unparalleled private wealth, unusually effectively open to 
all, though necessarily attained only by a small minority in spite 
too, of an average of earnings and of individual savings, through 
out an unprecedented aggregate of wage-earners, higher than the 
world has ever seen there remains the definite statistical probabil 
ity that any given wage-earner will, in the United States, find him 
self at one or other time, ruthlessly "fired"; that he will at one or 
other period in his life go through at least one prolonged spell 
of involuntary unemployment; that he will be at various periods 
incapacitated by sickness or accident; that he will under one or 
other of these trials exhaust all the family savings; that his wife 
may be left a widow, and his offspring at a helpless age orphaned, 
without any adequate maintenance; that his children may grow up 

LABOR 133 

insufficiently protected against disease and very inadequately edu 
cated; and that, if they or their parents live the allotted span, the 
chances are that they will find their old age one of extreme 
penury, and possibly of dependence on charity. The statistician 
has to tell us that, however numerous may be the exceptions, these 
are the liabilities of the main body of wage-earners, the "common 
lump of men," in the United States as in the other nations of 
Western civilization, liabilities which, in no small fraction of the 
mass, are found to become actualities. 

To what extent this statistical liability to penury and destitu 
tion is lessened by enforced abstinence from alcoholic drink, or min 
imized in practice by the exceptional economic prosperity and wide 
freedom of American life in what degree, for instance, the ever- 
open opportunity for employment on the farms, or in the lumber 
camps, or in the mineral exploitations of the West, mitigates the 
successive industrial crises of involuntary unemployment we are 
unable to estimate. But one suggestion we allow ourselves. If 
anything like similar conditions prevailed in Europe, experience in 
dicates that the lack of economic security to which we have re 
ferred, accompanied, as it js in the United States by the customary 
expectation of a high Standard of Life among the wage-earners, 
would lead to a prevalence of lawlessness and violence, and to a 
degree of vagrancy and criminality, which northwestern Europe 
has not known for a couple of centuries. Whether the lack of 
economic security for the wage-earners in the United States to-day 
has anything to do with such features of American life only Amer 
icans can usefully judge. 


WE SUGGESTED, at the beginning of this chapter, that what caused 
the evils attendant on the Industrial Revolution was, in the last 
analysis, not the substitution of the status of wage-earning for that 
of independent production, but the state of mind, alike of the con 
temporary philosophers and of the contemporary capitalists. What 
is the transformation of thought that has enabled those evils to 
be everywhere, in a greater or lesser degree, obviated and remedied 

134 LABOR 

by the Framework of Prevention erected during the past century? 
In the first place, Western civilization has ceased to believe that 
widespread destitution and subjection, the "Poverty of the Poor," 
is the "Act of God," or otherwise inevitable. Neither in Europe 
nor in America are the nations* minds oppressed by the bleak hor 
rors of the Malthusian "Law of Population/ or by its economic 
recension in the "Theory of the Wage Fund," which were thought, 
a hundred years ago, to condemn the great mass of the people 
to eternal penury. Secondly, in America even more than in 
Europe, it is no longer believed that each man is morally en 
titled to "do what he likes with his own," or to find justification for 
his life in the amount of wealth that he can amass, regardless of 
the effect on his fellow-men or on the community in which he 
lives. The watchword for the business man as for the manual 
worker, for him who is wealthy by inheritance as for the creator 
of his own fortune, is, nowadays, "service." Nor is anyone pre 
pared, in the twentieth century, to admit that the Legislature 
the National Government or the Municipal Government can 
safely and properly assume that if every man looks after his own 
interests, according to his own lights, the welfare of the com 
munity will necessarily be secured. No economist, throughout the 
wide world, to-day puts his faith in laissez faire. Instead of every 
thing being complacently left to the arbitrament of the individual 
seeking his own advantage, it has become accepted that deliberate 
action needs to be taken, by governments and legislatures, or some 
collective agency for the promotion of the interests of the com 
munity as a whole, for the future as well as in the present. And 
here we recognize a wider meaning than at first sight appeared, in 
the statement that Western civilization is the outcome of science. 
Just as it is the discoveries of physical science that have created 
the Machine Industry, and made possible Mass Production, so it is 
principally on economic and political science that the world is 
dependent in the deliberate corporate action which is ever- 
increasingly typical of the present age* Individual decision may 
come from impulse and intuition; but what is done by Cabinets 
and Legislatures, Municipal Councils and Co-operative Committees 
has to be the outcome of deliberate concert, which, if it is to be 

LABOR 135 

successful, plainly needs to be informed, whether in Education or 
Public Health, Currency or Industrial organization, by all the 
science physical or biological, economic or political, psychological 
or ethical that each generation possesses. 

Finally, it must be noted that the progressive development of 
corporate activity does not mean any lessening of personal obliga 
tion. It does not involve any transfer of responsibility from the 
individual to the community. On the contrary, the universal 
maintenance of a prescribed minimum of civilized life, which is 
to-day seen to be in the interest of the community, becomes the 
joint responsibility of an indissoluble partnership, in which the 
State and the citizen have each their several parts to play. It is an 
inevitable complement of the corporate responsibility and of the 
indissoluble partnership, which have come to form the intellectual 
basis of Western civilization, that new and enlarged obligations, 
unknown in a regime of laissez faire, are placed upon the in 
dividual citizen and enforced upon him by the community. The 
Bolton cotton-spinner of 1842, whom we mentioned at the be 
ginning of this chapter, had no need to keep his children in health, 
or his house healthy; his wife could with impunity let the babies 
die; the parents could put their offspring to work at the earliest 
age; the whole household was free, in fact, to live practically as it 
chose, even if it infected and demoralized the neighborhood. 
Now, the cotton-spinner lives in a whole atmosphere of new 
obligations, such as the obligation to keep his family in health, and 
to send every child between five and fourteen daily to school, 
properly washed and dressed, and at an appointed hour; and the 
obligation not to infect his environment, and to submit when re 
quired to hospital treatment. While it becomes more and more 
imperative, in the public interest, to enforce the fulfilment of 
personal and parental and marital responsibility on every adult, 
it becomes more and more clear that no such responsibilities can 
be effectively enforced without at the same time ensuring to every 
adult the opportunity of fulfilling them. To secure the fulfil 
ment of these obligations by the negligent and the recalcitrant, 
modern civilization has other expedients than the punishments 
of the criminal law. What happens is that the collective action 

136 LABOR 

of the community, by a series of deliberate experiments on volition 
"weights the alternatives" that present themselves to the mind 
of the ordinary man* He retains as much freedom of choice as 
before, if not more than before. But he finds it made more easy, 
by the universal provision of schools, to get his children educated, 
and more disagreeable to neglect them. By the provision of 
public baths and cleansing stations, he finds it made more easy 
for him to keep his family free from vermin,, and more disagree 
able to let them remain neglected and dirty. By the public pro 
vision of hospitals and medical attendance, it is made more easy 
for parents to keep their dependants in health, and more disagree 
able to let them die. The public organization of the labor market 
by means of labor exchanges makes it easier for the man out of 
work to find employment, and enables the State (as the Socialists 
and Trade Unionists are at one with the rest of the world in de 
manding) to make it more disagreeable for the *Vork-shy." In 
every direction, the individual finds himself, in the growing elabo 
ration of organization of the twentieth century State, face to face 
with personal obligations unknown to his grandfather, which the 
development of collective action both enables and virtually com 
pels him to fulfill. The claim is made that this new atmosphere 
of personal obligation results, paradoxically enough, in an actual 
increase, taking the population as a whole, in the enlargement of 
individual faculty, and in the opportunity for individual develop 
ment. In short, in the transformation of Democracy from a 
merely political to an increasingly economic conception of the 
State, which has marked the past seventy-five years, law has been 
the mother of freedom. 


CAN WE now define what, after a couple of centuries of travail, 
the Machine Industry and Mass Production have, in the most ad 
vanced countries of Western civilization, brought to their democ 
racies of "hired men, * in vast majority manual-working wage- 
earners, so far as their social condition may be measured in the 
means by which men live? 

LABOR 137 

What is typical of Western civilization to-day, even after the 
catastrophe of four years of unparalleled warfare, in comparison 
with any previous age, is the relatively high Standard of Life en 
joyed, especially in northwestern Europe, Australasia, and North 
America, by the wage-earning class. Any comparison of the con 
ditions under which the wage-earners live to-day in the most ad 
vanced countries, with those enjoyed by the manual-working class 1 
throughout the Europe of the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries, 
makes it plain that the artisan or mechanic and his family, and 
to a lesser degree the unskilled laborer and his family, are to-day 
enjoying a definitely higher Standard of Life than the correspond 
ing section of the population at any previous period in the world s 
history. As a result of medical science on the one hand, and of 
law and municipal administration on the other, the average work 
man s life is longer, the normal health at all ages is better, the 
periods of illness are fewer and notably shorter, the daily aches 
and pains and minor digestive troubles are less disturbing, and the 
chances of violent death or disabling injury are smaller than in 
any former age. The homes in which these wage-earners and their 
families live, even taking into account the shocking conditions 
still prevailing in many places, are more soundly constructed, 
more commodious and convenient, more abundantly and more 
comfortably furnished, with immeasurably better sanitation, and 
placed amid surroundings superior in respect of hygiene and 
amenity to anything usual in any previous century. These 
families, husband, wife, and children, are far better fed than their 
forbears of any previous generation. They have more leisure after 
work, and greater opportunity of making good use of their leisure. 
They are far better protected against violence, oppression, or 
tyranny. The reward which is the result of their work is, taking 
the manual -working class as a whole, greater than ever before; 
and what is now almost always a money wage commands a vastly 
widened range of commodities and services, effectively brought 
within their reach, according to their choice; and, in the aggregate, 
an increased amount of such commodities and services, in com 
parison with what fell to the lot of the manual workers when they 
were, for the most part, independent producers. Their boys and 

138 LABOR 

girls find open to them, even forced on them, common schooling 
superior to any their forefathers knew; opportunities for the more 
gifted to proceed to the heights of all the learning of the age; and 
greater freedom of access than ever before to the vocation of their 
choice. For the orphans, the sick, the mentally or physically dis 
abled, the widows and the aged, there is more humane, more ef 
ficient and more universal provision than has been known in any 
previous century. Above all, there has been, for the manual- 
worker, throughout Western civilization, a most marked rise of 
status. He is no longer a slave, no longer a serf, no longer an 
illiterate incapable of understanding the civilization amid which 
he lives. For the first time in the world s history, he is a full 
citizen, legally and politically the equal of everyone with whom 
he comes in contact. How full of significance for the future is the 
fact that, within a single decade, in Great Britain and throughout 
Australasia, in all three Scandinavian nations, in Germany and 
Austria, and in other States of post-war Europe, governments have 
actually been placed in office composed of men of neither wealth 
nor social position, but of manual-working origin and Socialist 
opinions, definitely raised to power as the representatives of the 
wage-earners* own Parties, whilst for the whole decade all Russia 
has lain under what avowedly claims to be a ^dictatorship of the 

What is there to be said on the other side? We have first to 
notice, throughout Western civilization, the wide gap between 
ideals and achievements. Even ia the elementary conditions of 
human existence the National Minimum of Civilized Life, which 
every advanced community is now learning to prescribe, and is 
beginning to enforce, is far from being universally maintained. 
In every country of Western civilization there are extensive 
patches, even vast districts, in which this National Minimum is not 
reached. Everywhere there are large sections of the population 
for whom the necessary measures for the prevention of the evil 
consequences of the Machine Age have not yet been made effective, 
Yet it is actually a ground for hope that the most serious short 
coming, so far as the material condition of the people is concerned, 
is not any scantiness in each nation s resources, nor any weak* 

LABOR 139 

ness in its ideals, but the "gaps" still remaining in a Framework 
of Prevention of Destitution, which the world has learnt how to 
erect, and which every nation can, at its will, complete. 

But material conditions are very far from being everything. 
"We cannot here explore the manifold shortcomings of the manual- 
working class, or forecast its future in intellectual development, 
in artistic feeling, or in manners and morals, in all of which the 
actual progress of the manual workers, taken as a whole, during the 
past two centuries, has been, in every country, probably greater 
than during any previous period of the world s history. There is 
one point, however, on which a few closing words may be said. 
It is often alleged that, great as has been the workman s advance 
in material wellbeing and political status, and even in intellectual 
attainments, he has lost, by the coming of the Machine Age, his 
joy and freedom in production, and even his artistic capacity. 
The mediaeval handicraftsman, who built the cathedrals of Europe, 
and both designed and wrought beautiful things in wood or metal, 
earthenware or stone, is contrasted with the brutalized laborer in a 
gigantic mass-production factory, condemned to endless repeti 
tions of a single meaningless act, such as screwing on a nut, or 
dabbing on grease, as the moving band brings before him, from 
morning to night, a series of skeletons of an inchoate product in 
the design of which his mind has had no part, and which, in its fin 
ished form, he may never even see. Is this soulless Robot, we are 
asked, any advance on Giotto or Cellini? Needless to say, the 
contrast is illegitimate. The assumption that the manual work 
ers of Egypt or Greece, Italy or England at any period whatso 
ever, were apart from a numerically inconsiderable fraction of 
them engaged on anything that could be described as artistic 
handicraft, is wholly unwarranted. In the heyday of the 
mediaeval gild, there were always, even in the most artistic cities, 
far more manual workers outside the favored circle of masters, 
journeymen, and apprentices than within it. The manual-work 
ing population of the cities was, in fact, mainly composed of 
laborers who were lifelong hewers of wood and drawers of water^ 
whilst that of the vast stretches of farmland and forest outside 
the cities was as devoid of art as of letters. And the proportion 

140 LABOR 

of merely mechanical work in the world s production has, taken 
as a whole, lessened, not increased. What a multitude of labor 
ers quarried the stones, dragged and carried the stones and lifted 
the stones of the cathedral walls on which half a dozen skilled and 
artistic masons carved gargoyles? From the building of the 
Pyramids down to the present day, the proportion of the world s 
work of the nature of mere physical digging, pushing, carrying, 
lifting* and hammering, by the exertion of muscular force, has 
almost continuously diminished. From the cutting of the canal 
at Corinth to the cutting of that at Panama, the share of the 
thinker, the architect, the designer, the draftsman, the engineer, 
the toolmaker, the accountant, and the clerk, in every productive 
enterprise has become steadily larger; and the proportion of work 
ers so engaged has grown accordingly. We may grant that there 
has been, to some undefined extent, a shift in development. The 
artistic handicraftsmen of Athens or Florence small minority as 
they were felt more than they could have expressed. In the 
machine industry the development among the superior minority 
takes what may be called an intellectual rather than an artistic 
form. Its product is exact thinking, calculation, adjusting, fit 
ting. Yet is not this art? There is, for instance, one beauty of 
the architect, and another of the jeweller. And it must not be 
forgotten that, in "Western civilization to-day, the actual numbers 
of men and women engaged in daily work of distinctly intellectual 
character, which is thus not necessarily devoid of art, are positively 
greater than at any previous time. There are, of course, many 
more such workers of superior education, artistic capacity, and in 
teresting daily tasks in Henry Ford s factories at Detroit than 
there were in the whole city of Detroit fifty years ago! Along 
side of these successors of the equally exceptional skilled handi 
craftsmen of the Middle Ages there has come to be a vast multitude 
of other workers with less interesting tasks, who could not other 
wise have come into existence, and who represent the laborers of 
the cities and the semi-servile rural population of past times, and 
who certainly would not themselves dream of wishing to revert to 
the conditions of those times. It may be granted, that, in much of 
their daily tasks (as has always been the case) the workers of 

LABOR 141 

to-day can find no joy, and take the very minimum of interest. 
But there is one all important difference in their lot. Unlike their 
predecessors, these men spend only half their working hours at 
the task by which they gain their bread. In the other half of their 
day they are, for the first time in history, free (and, in great meas 
ure, able) to give themselves to other interests, which in an ever- 
increasing proportion of cases lead to an intellectual development 
heretofore unknown among the typical manual workers. It is, 
in fact, arguable that it is among the lower half of the manual 
workers of Western civilization rather than among the upper 
half, that there has been the greatest relative advance during the 
past couple of centuries. It is, indeed, to the so-called unskilled 
workers of London and Berlin and Paris, badly off in many re 
spects as they still are and notably to their wives and children 
that the Machine Age has incidentally brought the greatest ad 
vance in freedom and in civilization. 


THE countries of Western civilization are politically com 
mitted to what Disraeli characterized as "that fatal drol 
lery called representative government." How long this 
commitment will run only the complacent or the visionary dares 
forecast. Its day is already rudely challenged by Bolshevists and 

Moreover, under the prevailing representative system, democracy 
in theory is not democracy in practice. The effective equality 
of voters is as far from the realities of life as that freedom and 
equality with which men in Jefferson s classic declaration are 
ushered into being, or the equality before the law which is the 
worthy though unachieved ambition of an aspiring jurisprudence. 
Popular sovereignty is an elusive concept; public opinion, save 
rarely, a will o the wisp. The will of the majority is not nearly 
so practical a working formula of democracy as is the will of a 
minority, and for obvious reasons. On most of the complicated 
problems of modern government the majority have not and cannot 
have a will. It is usually the will of small minorities that pre 
vails. Such a minority may be self-seeking, or self-righteous, or 
self-immolating. But it is nearly always cautious at least in the 
more advanced democracies and it is cautious because of dem 

Among the rank and file of voters the franchise is not a prized 
possession. Large numbers ignore it and large numbers of those 



who vote are in fact indifferent. The "lower classes" may peace 
fully capture the government at will. Nowhere have they done 
so. On the contrary a very wide franchise, like a very narrow 
one, "appears to be most favorable to the conservative cause." 
Yet slumbering power is there, in the ballots of the masses; and 
those who govern must be wary not to arouse the heavy sleeper 
in respect of those relatively few matters political that are within 
his interest and his comprehension. In theory the rule of the 
people is the driving force of the ship of state. In usual practice 
it is far more comparable to a mildly retarding head wind. The 
driving force is a thing of great complexity and some mystery 
operating in the deep, dark bowels of the ship. 

Such a realistic estimate of democracy can of course be pressed 
too far. On some political questions there is a public opinion, a 
will of the people. If opinion be widespread and positive it will 
in the end be realized in government. But it is exceptional that 
opinion is widespread and positive* 

Democracy as a form of government was discernible long be 
fore the advent of the machine age. Down the centuries from 
Plato and Aristotle on it was discussed by philosophers. Occasion 
ally it was approximately realized, though the classical democracies 
of Athens and Rome were in truth only fairly wide aristocracies 
superstructed upon slavery. It can scarcely be said that modern 
democracies were a product of the machine age, but certain it is 
that they grew into manhood as that age unfolded. Certain it is 
also that the massing of men, women, and children in factory, 
shop, and mine was ultimately a potent factor in most agitations 
for widening the suffrage. Still less can it be said that the ma 
chine age was produced by democracy. Democracy had little, 
if anything, to do with its coming. It is under democratic 
auspices nevertheless that the age has reached its present rich out 
pouring. Democracy neither hates nor hinders the machine. 
Quite the contrary. There never was any warrant for Sir Henry 
Maine s dogmatic certainty that universal suffrage would have pro 
hibited the spinning jenny and the power loom and forbidden the 
threshing machine. 

Whatever may be the connection between the advent of the ma- 


chine and the rise of political democracy, it is certain that science 
and machinery have altered the operating conditions of democratic 
government. The point scarcely calls for illustration. If any 
be needed, we may take from among a thousand the power print 
ing press and the telegraph. Their influence upon the accumula 
tion and distribution of political knowledge, true and false, passes 
all calculation. When applied to propaganda, they can serve either 
dictatorships or democracy, but they work rather in favor of the 
latter. News and thought are not easily confined; they fre 
quently escape the best of regulated censorships; they leak and 
creep far and wide through the agency of the press. Victims of 
propaganda turn upon their masters and laugh, if they do nothing 
more. The strongest government case is sure to be challenged in 
some quarters. What the radio and television will do to political 
campaigns can hardly be conjectured yet; beyond question the 
processes by which public opinion is formulated are being trans- 
form^d by these new mechanical contrivances. If space per 
mitted, it would be possible to trace innumerable ramifications of 
science throughout society affecting its political as well as its other 
habits^ prejudices, and ideas. 


A CENTURY and a half ago Edmund Burke made no apology for 
expounding eloquently the commonplace proposition that human 
society is a vast and complex thing. From his day to this day 
social and economic complexities have steadily increased in num 
ber and bewildering variety. The machine has been the chief if 
not the sole cause. The resulting burden upon society in its 
political organization is enormous. The capacity of democracy 
satisfactorily to cope with the internal and external problems of 
peoples is already taxed beyond its apparent limit. Candid and 
competent observers must admit that as to many of its larger 
tasks democracy is doing a poor, if admittedly a difficult, job. 

In the last two decades of the nineteenth and the first decade of 
the twentieth century there were in Europe considerable extensions 
of communal enterprise. State railways, telephones and telegraphs 


were added to the earlier enterprise of the posts and state 
monopolies in a few manufactures were established. Municipal 
trading was extended to street railways, gas, water, and electric 
works, as well as to housing and other productive projects. Col 
lectivism was given a chance to prove its efficiency. The exper 
iment was not disastrous but it was frequently, perhaps gen 
erally, disappointing. Many state socialists were disillusioned. A 
decided reaction had set in when, In nearly every country, state 
socialism was given an immense upward thrust by the necessities 
of the war. Many thought this would be permanent. Mr. J. A. 
Hobson wrote with confidence in 1919 that any sudden lapse 
from the state socialism of war time "would spell disorder and 
disaster." An instinct of self-preservation would "impel the 
state to endeavor to retain after the war many of the emergency 
powers it has acquired during the war." "The war has advanced 
state socialism by half a century." He was not alone in believ 
ing this. But almost immediately events proved the error of such 
predictions. The cause of collectivism was, if anything, hurt by 
the war. There was sudden and sharp reaction from the war 
and all of its works. The "four pillars" of the programme of 
the English Labour Party support no actual structure. The so 
cialization invited by some of the post-war continental constitu 
tions has made slight progress. In Fascist Italy there has been an 
extensive denationalization of industries, although no return to 
former individualist production. 

If state socialism is no longer widely accepted as a catholicon 
for political-economic ills it will not be wholly abandoned. The 
field of government ownership and operation will slowly widen. 
And each new enterprise will put additional strain upon the ca 
pacity of democracy. The points of this strain can only be hinted 
here. Democracies have not been model employers. Little, if 
any, democratic control has been introduced in public industries 
not nearly so much as in occasional private industries. The gov 
ernment as employer faces the same labor problems as the private 
employer. It must cope with unionization and strikes. In the 
minds of many, however unwarranted the view, a strike of gov 
ernment employees smacks of rebellion. The fact is that a strike 


of the policemen of a large city would be not nearly so serious as 
the halting of all privately operated railways. Vigilantes can be 
more quickly trained than locomotive engineers, and food is more 
important to society than good order. It is not a question of pub 
lic or private employment that matters. It is the relation of the 
service to the life of the community that is of importance. 

Even in the United States, where government ownership has 
lagged far behind most European countries, about one in twelve 
of all who are gainfully employed are on government pay 
rolls. A vast extension of government ownership would prob 
ably have serious political consequences for democracies. Govern 
ment employees are also voters. Some of their organizations have 
been extremely active in promoting legislation for the advancement 
of their own interests. This has been true, however, chiefly of 
organized municipal employees; for commonly national employ 
ees, even though numerous, are residentially too scattered for ef 
fective political action relative to their strength. In any case 
a pressure group of public employees does not differ in kind from 
other pressure groups with which democracies are everywhere fa 
miliar. If the number of such groups were greatly multiplied, 
competitive interests and rivalries among them would doubtless 
prevent any cohering giant amalgamation. But the ultimate pos 
sible result on politics is problematical. 

Apart from the political activity of public employees mention 
should be made of the benumbing effect of government bureaucra 
cies on individual initiative. Sidney and Beatrice Webb have said 
of Great Britain that tc the special skill in a civil servant which is 
most appreciated by his parliamentary chief and by his col 
leagues in the civil service is not initiative or statesmanship, and 
not even the capacity to plan and to explain the departmental 
projects, but either to avoid questions in the House, or, if these are 
asked, to furnish answers which allay without satisfying the curios 
ity of the inquirers." "The great mass of government today is 
the work of an able and honest but secretive bureaucracy." This 
is said of the most capable civil service yet developed in any de 
mocracy. Despite variations and many individual exceptions the 
bureaucracies of most democracies arc not, generally speaking, 


able and are not always honest. Whatever the cause a spirit seems 
usually to pervade the civil service which argues for a maximum 
in security of tenure and a minimum of obligation to render serv 
ice. There is no adequate substitute for the initiative that prevails 
in private industry. Public management, fettered by law and by 
custom, inculcating a spirit of the right to be employed rather than 
the right to be of use, results in poor and extravagant service. 
There seems to be almost a conspiracy of forces at work to keep 
public employment on a dead level of mediocrity. 

State socialism is a direct product of the machine age. It is 
true that government ownership of a few enterprises antedated the 
era of whirling wheels. But these were relatively unimportant 
even in a relatively simple time. The dependence of the public 
upon monopolistic services made possible by steam and electricity 
and dissatisfaction with private control of such services led to 
government assumption. Dissatisfaction with private manage 
ment of limited natural resources exploited by machines and with 
a chaotically individualistic system of power production and dis 
tribution pointed to further expansion of the economic functions 
of government. But dissatisfaction with government operation, 
to the extent that it obtained, as well as the opposition of powerful 
vested interests, gave and still gives pause. Meantime almost of 
necessity governments turned to a new kind of regulation or, to 
be more exact, vastly extended a kind of regulation which, though 
of ancient origin, was exceptional rather than regular. 


THE regulation which antedated the machine age, which long sur 
vived, and which still prevails on a wide scale, was for the most 
part regulation by court-applied rules of law. The system was 
intensely individualistic. Every individual was guardian of his 
own rights under the rules. If he failed to assert these rights he 
suffered the consequences. Under a simple agrarian and handicraft 
economy the system tolerably sufficed. But with the expansion of 
industry entailing manifold social and economic complexities, it 
cracked at many points. It could not satisfy insistent social 
demands. The old law of private nuisance, for example, depend- 


ing on suit by one aggrieved and proof of specific injury to him 
or his property, gave inadequate protection either to the indi 
vidual or to the public. It had to be supplemented by the law 
of public nuisance. Merely to commit an act that might lead to 
or constitute this or that nuisance was made an offence. No proof 
of injury to anyone was necessary. Moreover, administrative 
agencies were set up to discover and abate nuisances, to issue 
orders both general and particular, and to prosecute. What had 
been a private wrong redressed by private action in law courts was 
made a public wrong; and the public through administrative ac 
tion undertook to prevent and to punish. 

In his relations with privately owned public services the individ 
ual was practically defenceless. There were, to be sure, a few ele 
mentary rules of law that he might theoretically assert in the 
courts. But there were overwhelming deterrents ignorance of 
rights, cost of litigation, fear of retaliation and the rules did not 
reach all the evils from which the consumer of services suffered. 
Statutes imposing additional restrictions were ineffective. They 
were either too inelastic or were unenforceable. Where they gave 
new legal rights to the consumer he was still helpless to vindicate 
these rights. Where they imposed penalties there was no sufficient 
machinery for detection and prosecution. Hence resort again to 
the agency of administration. Utilities were compelled to operate 
under rules and conditions prescribed and allowances granted by 
administrative officers. The discretion of their managers was sub 
jected to curb. They were put under continuous and close official 

This development of regulation by administration may be widely 
exampled. Buildings must be erected and even located under 
elaborate governmental supervision in the interest of safety and 
health. To the same ends factories, mines, and mercantile estab 
lishments are subjected to requirements and watched to insure per 
formance. After long and bitter struggle the brutal common 
law doctrines of assumption of risk and of contributory and fellow- 
servant negligence were worsted, and industry was compelled to 
assume the burden of its toll of life and limb through systems 
of insurance administered by or under the eye of the state. The 


business of banking and insurance fell under varying degrees of 
state surveillance. By administrative agency governments also 
seek to discover and prevent the unfair practices of big business. 
And the end is not yet* 

Twenty years ago a profound student of the law, Dean Roscoe 
Pound, declared: "Executive justice is an evil. It always has been 
and it always will be crude and as variable as the personalities of 
officials. No one who attempts to decide each case pro re nata will 
be able to show that *con$tans et perpetiM voluntas suwm cuique 
tribuem* which is justice. Nothing but rule and principle, stead 
fastly adhered to, can stand between the citizen and official in 
competence, caprice, or corruption. Time has always imposed a 
legal yoke upon executive justice and incorporated its results into 
law. The only way to check the onward march of executive jus 
tice is to improve the output of judicial justice until the adjust 
ment of human relations by our courts is brought into thorough 
accord with the moral sense of the public at large." Since that 
was written, however, executive justice regulation by adminis 
tration has marched steadily onward. 

Nor is there sign of its waning. Moreover, it is difficult to 
see how human intercourse in the tangled modern world can. be 
guided into adjustment by lawmakers and courts alone. The law 
itself cannot be made sufficiently elaborate and sufficiently elastic 
to meet the endlessly varying facts of life. The individual is pow 
erless to enforce even his stark legal rights against the stupendous 
organizations for production and distribution upon which he must 
depend. Primarily organized to settle controversies, the courts are 
ill-suited to afford general preventive relief to the many. Agencies 
of mixed powers legislative, executive, judicial seem indispen 
sable. Investigator, lawmaker, prosecutor, judge, and jury are 
fused into a unit to reach desired ends which a division of govern 
mental functions conspicuously failed to realize. 

This is not to imply that these agencies are wholly free from 
judicial control. In America, where the courts enjoy power to 
declare laws unconstitutional, there is still uncertainty and con 
fusion as to the extent to which such agencies have been or can 
be given final authority. The attempt to distinguish between 


law and facts and to permit administrative finality on facts though 
not on law has been far from successful partly, if not chiefly, 
because it is often impossible to determine where facts leave off 
and law begins. 

But there are certain points of significance in the change from 
government by law to government by administration. First, 
while individuals initiate some of the "cases * before these agencies, 
the agencies themselves, on the basis of their own fact finding, 
initiate many others. Second, the persons or enterprises subject to 
control are put under the requirement to secure advance permis 
sion for many performances. Third, and most important, if liti 
gation of rights ensues the parties to the controversy are, at 
least in theory, appropriate parties. It is not the suit of a Lilli 
putian against a giant; it is a controversy between a giant and 
an agency of government acting in behalf of a horde of Lillipu 

There are those who argue earnestly for the necessity of sub 
jecting administrative determination to judicial review, though no 
one has yet supplied a neat test of what should and should not 
be reviewable. To an extent the argument rests upon the gen 
eral desirability of authorizing appeals as a check upon arbitrariness 
or incompetence. This is the basis of all appellate arrangements. 
But appeals may be and often are provided within the administra 
tive hierarchy, just as they are provided within the judicial hier 
archy. To urge that administrative agencies, because of their 
specialization, are less competent than are courts to formulate 
rules of law founded on broad considerations is to make assump 
tions that would be as easy to refute as to prove* If administra 
tive agencies were uncontrolled by courts they would have power 
to determine their own competence under the law, but that, it may 
ba answered, is a power which courts, uncontrolled by any other 
authority, also have. Nor is it probably true that these agencies in 
deciding a "case" or issuing an order are disregardful of precedents 
or unmindful that a rule applied may have wider consequences 
than the instant facts imply. 

However that may be, government by administration, like gov 
ernment by direct operation, has its limitations. No one who has 


observed and studied it in action will be duped into adoration of 
its accomplishments or possibilities. Like all other democratic con 
trivances it merely lumbers and falters on. The goal of social 
justice is not attained is indeed unattainable in a world of in 
tricate and jealously competing interests and ideas. But it is prob 
ably more nearly approximated than it would be under an ex 
clusive reign of court-applied law. 

In one highly important field of economic relationships gov 
ernment by administration, as well as government by law, has 
signally failed. Too often controversies between organized cap 
ital and organized labor are still settled, when settled, by the sav 
age methods of the jungle. Where the government touches these 
controversies, except in the role of a mediator abjuring power, its 
touch is frequently more hurtful than helpful. No doubt Mr. 
Justice Holmes properly diagnosed the difficulty when he said: 
"It cannot be helped, it is as it should be, that the law is be 
hind the times. I told a labor leader once that what they asked 
for was favor, and if a decision went against them they called it 
wicked. The same might be said of their opponents. It means 
that the law is growing. As law embodies beliefs which have 
triumphed in the battle of ideas and then have translated them 
selves into action, while there still is doubt, while opposite con 
victions still occupy the battle front against each other, the time 
for law has not come; the notion destined to prevail is not yet 
entitled to the field/* It may be that in the course of time rela 
tively acceptable rules and principles for the settlement of in 
dustrial disputes can be formulated. But until that is done exer 
tions of governmental power, whether by compulsory arbitration 
or through other use of force, will be largely abortive. Even at 
tempts to preserve the public peace while the economic battle is 
being waged and to protect each of the combatants in his legal 
rights will be fraught with grave difficulty. 


GOVERNMENT by administration, extensive as it is, has by no means 
supplanted government by court-applied rules of law. It is still 


the obligation of the individual to press forward many of his 
legal rights, and these rights are increasingly determined by leg 
islative enactments rather than by court-made rules. Even so, 
the modern civil codes of continental Europe, as well as British 
and American statutes, embody many rules, modified or unmod 
ified, that were formulated and applied by the judges in the 
era of "free decisions." 

It may be, as Woodrow "Wilson once said, that changing a law 
by statute Is "like mending a garment with a patch." But the 
problems of the machine age change swiftly, kaleidoscopically. A 
degree of stability and permanence Is indeed indispensable to the 
law. Men must know what can be counted on tomorrow. But 
judge-made law often lags too far behind the times and, enveloped 
in its own impedimenta, the pace of its catching up is too slow. 
American judges, for instance, must know how absurd and how 
inconsistent are the rules that have "developed" to determine the 
, liability of the various units of government in tort, but the skein 
of their unintended making will doubtless never be untangled by 
the courts. Statutes are the only conceivable remedy. Indeed 
changing the law by statute is at least occasionally less like mend 
ing with a patch than like weaving a new garment to replace a 
threadbare patchwork which the courts have been unable or un 
willing to discard. Moreover situations may call for some at 
tempt at solution or relief even before beliefs have triumphed in 
the battle of ideas. Statutes may be frankly experimental for 
they are as easily unmade as made* Judges dare not experiment 
too widely in rule-making for their rules once pronounced are 
too unyielding. The hand of the law, however aged or youth 
ful, should be a living hand, not the hand of a ghost laid upon the 
quick. And statutes assist in making it s.o. 

AT ANY rate the machine age is superlatively an age of statutes. 
Mass production is as characteristic of some legislative mills as it 
is of industrial factories. Sometimes it almost seems that law- 


making for its own sake has become a democratic obsession. This 
is especially true of the United States; it is less true of the coun 
tries of Europe where the whole process of law-making is central 
ized in and controlled by a ministry. Unquestionably some of 
this law product is silly, superfluous, ill-advised, and much of it is 
unskillfully wrought. But there is little use to rail about the 
multiplicity of laws. Directly or indirectly the machine is largely 
responsible. The motor vehicle, so to say, arrived only yester 
day; yet it is difficult to list the branches of the law in which the 
motor car today figures the law of crime, of traffic, of taxation, 
insurance, public utilities, tort, license, chattel mortgage. There 
is already a law of the air both for craft and radio. More im 
portant, however, is the fact that since the entire complicated 
industrial organization of modern society is so largely founded 
upon power production and transportation, and since the law at 
tempts at innumerable points to control the framework and the 
operations of this organization, the machine is indirectly respon 
sible for much more in law than superficially appears. 

The onward press of statute law has not transmuted the judge 
into an automaton. In England and America statutes have by 
no means completely usurped the entire realm of judge-made 
common law. Moreover statutes regulating complex phenomena 
are themselves complex. Lawmakers are not only not omniscient; 
they are sometimes relatively ignorant; and they operate in a mael 
strom of conflicting pressure currents. Nearly every law is a 
compromise; nearly every law has its vague spots. The thought 
of those who made it is not always crystal clear; and at best words 
are an imperfect tool of thought transmission. Statutes, there 
fore, must be construed. They must often be applied to facts 
that were beyond the contemplation of the legislators. Large 
leeway is in consequence left to the judge. Judge-made law has 
not disappeared. "By the decisions of the Paris Court of Cassa 
tion," says Eugene Ehrlich, "so many new ideas have been fused 
in the French civil law, statutes have been interpreted so fre 
quently in a manner deviating widely from the intention of the 
legislature, that one may properly say: Whoever knows merely 
the statutory law of France has no conception of the law as it ac- 


tually exists there/* In varying degree this is true of all the coun 
tries of the western world. 

However apparently natural its growth, the luxuriant flowering 
of the law under the joint and several husbandry of legislatures 
and courts has not been an untinged benefaction. From birth 
certificate to death certificate man is literally pursued by law. 
The man of business, otherwise lost in the labyrinth, must keep 
one hand constantly and firmly fitted into the hand of his law 
yer. He must avoid the pitfalls that are set, not as traps it is true, 
but with like effect none the less. Of necessity the man of busi 
ness learns some law. Of necessity the lawyer becomes a man of 
business. Not of necessity but of a certainty both cultivate and 
practise the fine art of law-evasion. More and more has the law 
become what Burke called it, "the lucrative business of mystery." 

In the United States, more than elsewhere, the close tieup be 
tween business and law has resulted not only in a considerable 
domination of business by lawyers but also in the application of the 
standards and methods of business to the practice of the law. Law 
offices grow larger and larger; legal work becomes more and more 
specialized, parcelled, and unsupervised. Clients deal with a 
"firm," not with a personal lawyer a firm which itself consists 
perhaps of a score or more of members and which employs an end 
less number of lesser lawyers, as well as bookkeepers, stenographers, 
messengers, and the like. Says a recent commentator, himself a 
lawyer of distinction, "legal work is ground out as if it were the 
standardized production of a factory." The legal profession is 
"no longer a learned profession but simply a business organization 
conducted by push buttons and call bells." 

Despite their huge number, the cases in the courts represent 
an actually small part of the law s applications. They are in 
truth but occasional units that raise their heads for court inspection 
out of the ceaseless and resistless flow of a mighty stream of legal 
process* For in one thing at least the machine age is not 
standardized; it is capable of infinite variety and refinement of 
legal circumstances to the never ending advantage of the ever 
enlarging and increasingly acquisitive legal profession. 

By and large the spirit of the modern era is too urgent and its 


people are often too commonsensible to bother with dilatory courts. 
"Uncertainty, delay and expense, * says Dean Pound, "and above 
all, the injustice of deciding cases upon points of practice, which 
are the mere etiquette of justice, direct results of the organization 
of our courts and the backwardness of our procedure, have cre 
ated a deep-seated desire to keep out of court, right or wrong* on 
the part of every sensible business man in the community/* 
Countless legal controversies are settled out of court by com 
promises. These range all the way from easily reached gentle 
men s agreements to battles royal waged between hard-headed 
lawyers for tight-fisted clients across mahogany desks or deal- 
top tables. In these innumerable contests the court-applied rules 
of law, known or guessed, are often badly manhandled. The law 
that is in fact applied may not be the law at all. But it is fre 
quently less costly and irksome to compromise even an unques 
tionable legal right than it is to sue. These non-court "cases" 
form the main body of the great on-moving stream of applied 
law. In a general way statutes and court-made rules serve as 
guide and compass. But the net result is not all cool and clean 
handed justice. 


ALMOST of necessity the lawmakers of the machine age have 
made some progress in fact finding and fact using. Neither a 
priori reasoning concerning human nature, nor "immutable and 
eternal principles of justice," nor a comparative study of foreign 
laws, furnish sufficient premises for law in the modern world. 
Facts must be found, statistics gathered, opinions heard. Innum 
erable investigations are undertaken by legislative committees and 
special commissions, as well as by permanent administrative agen 
cies. Perhaps it is fair to say, moreover, with Mr, Graham "Wallas, 
that this gathering of information tends to become more and more 
quantitative rather than qualitative. Yet the information that is 
assembled is sometimes bewildering, is often incomplete or one 
sided, and is not always adequately studied. Moreover not every 
proposal for important legislation is preceded by an attempt to 


ascertain the facts. In America the use of injunctions in labor 
disputes has been fiercely debated for years but no study of all 
the relevant facts has ever been made. Nobody knows how many 
such injunctions have been issued nor in what industries, how 
many have been denied, how many temporary injunctions have 
been vacated and how many made permanent, what length of 
time temporary injunctions have been allowed to run before being 
vacated, how generally or successfully such injunctions are en 
forced, how many violations have been punished, what has been 
their effect upon industrial disputes. There have been some 
strictly legal studies and much partisan special pleading, but the 
question whether the instrument of the injunction in industrial 
controversies is generally useful or abuseful is largely a matter of 
conjecture. There is, however, no hesitancy in proposing to deal 
with the problem by legislation. 

Even when in respect of this or that matter of legislation law 
makers do master an amplitude of facts, choice must be made of 
ends desired and of legal arrangements for the attainment of these 
ends. It is upon the making of that choice involving nearly al 
ways a weighing of interfering interests that the forces of minori 
ties furiously play. 

However competent courts may be to discover the facts of 
particular cases before them, they are manifestly not instrumental 
ities that are properly organized and equipped for social fact 
finding. There is an increasing tendency, however, to present 
to the courts, with or without their seeking, social and economic 
data that enable them better to envisage the social purpose of a 
statute under review or the social utility of a rule they are urged 
to apply. In this general direction much remains to be done. 
The social and economic conditions out of which the law of the 
past arose have not been sufficiently understood or emphasized and 
the totality of actual social effects of the present-day applica 
tion of many legal rules and doctrines is not fully known. These 
conditions and effects need further and continuous study. Busy 
lawyers have little time for such study and, regrettably enough, 
most of them have little interest in or capacity for it. 

This social-utility approach toward the law has come to be 


known as sociological jurisprudence. There is nothing essen 
tially new about it. As Mr. Justice Stone has said: "It is the 
method which the wise and competent judge has used from time 
immemorial in rendering the dynamic decision which makes the 
law a living force. Holt, Hardwick, Mansfield, Marshall, and 
Shaw employed it long before the phrase sociological jurisprudence 
was thought of." True enough; but not all the rules of law 
have been made by wise and competent judges. Moreover it must 
be recognized that the great judges mentioned employed this 
method in a less complex era than that in which we now live. 
In simpler times social facts were more widely known to the 
casually well informed. John Marshall in 1819 probably needed 
no elaborate brief of counsel to assist him in apprehending the 
economic consequences of state insolvency laws. He knew how 
these laws operated alike to ameliorate the plight of the honest 
debtor caught in a snare and to further the chicanery of the dis 
honest. As Beveridge says: "All this John Marshall saw and ex 
perienced"; it "took place under his very eyes in Virginia." To 
a less degree certainly would the United States Supreme Court 
a hundred years later have been able to appreciate the economic 
and social questions involved in minimum wage legislation with 
out the able factual briefs that were presented by Mr. Brandeis, 
Mr. Frankfurter, and Miss Josephine Goldmark. That the facts 
were flouted by the majority of the court does not weaken the 
point of contrast. In the machine age the law must grapple with 
innumerable relationships that do not unfold under the eyes of 
courts but are largely, if not wholly, beyond their observation 
or ken. The "experience" which Mr. Justice Holmes sagely 
says is the "life of the law" is not of course the experience of the 
judges themselves. Unfortunately for the law and for society it 
too often has been. Hence the increasing need in the modern 
world for so-called sociological jurisprudence. 

If sociological jurisprudence is not wholly novel, even less so 
is the present-day demand for a "restatement" of the law. Time 
out of mind such demands have been recurrent and the result, 
if any, has usually been codification or revision of existing codes. 
But the genius of the common law of English-speaking countries 


is antipathetic to legislative codification, even though statutes 
more and more modify, embody, destroy, or otherwise encroach, 
upon judge-made rules. The truth is that the legal profession 
as a whole is not greatly concerned with the lack of form and sym 
metry in the law, with its anachronisms, its inconsistencies, its 
outworn fictions, its occasional downright follies and injustices. 
The profession is however appalled at the growing volume and the 
rate of increase of legal literature the materials with which law 
yers must deal. In America the federal system of government 
with forty-eight separate state jurisdictions and a distinct national 
jurisdiction is in part responsible for this unwelcome surfeit. 
If, by some alchemical process, all of the dross the useless rhet 
oric, the endless reiteration, the obiter dicta, the pomp and cir 
cumstance of legal learning could be extracted from the law 
books that clutter the groaning shelves, the problem of simplifying 
the law of the past and present would not be so staggering, though 
obviously it would still be a mammoth task. If judges who are 
in fact not overly learned could be induced to forswear a vain 
show of learning, and if all judges, learned and otherwise, could 
be persuaded to greater brevity and more frequent silence, the 
future might not appear so loury. There are eminent lawyers 
and jurists who believe that English and American law can and 
must be simplified. The attempt is already under way. Its ulti 
mate form and its measure of success remain to be revealed. 


IN humanitarianism the law of the machine age need not shun 
comparison with other ages. The number of acts for which pen 
alties are imposed has unquestionably increased. Wholly outside 
of criminal codes modern statutes fairly bristle with penal sanc 
tions. But in the course of only a hundred years or so many bar 
barous features of the law have been tempered. "Women may no 
longer be whipped in public for petty crimes. Girls of ten years 
of age or less are no longer legally competent to consent to their 
own ruin. Pickpockets, horse thieves, shoplifters, and counter 
feiters may no longer be hanged. Indeed the death penalty has 


been, completely abolished in a number of European countries 
and in some American states. Grotesquely enough, suicide is 
still a crime; but vengeful society no longer finds sadistic satis 
faction in impaling the lifeless body of the victim; nor are his in 
nocent heirs punished by the escheat of his property to the state. 
On the Continent the accusatory method of criminal prosecution 
is supplanting the less just and less reasonable inquisitorial method. 

In the course of a mere half century the legal and political 
status of women has undergone radical change. In most countries 
a husband no longer has complete control of his wife s earnings 
or the income from her property. Inheritance laws have been 
revamped in her favor- No longer may a father deprive a mother 
of access to or control over her own children nor oust her by 
will from their guardianship after his death. Generally speaking, 
divorce laws have been liberalized and, theoretically at least, have 
been put within reach of the poor as well as the rich. But the 
wide variations in the liberality of such laws (from the free di 
vorce of Soviet Russia to the no divorce of South Carolina) offer 
numerous comfortable choices to the incompatible well-to-do* 
In a few places, as in New York, adultery is still regarded as the 
only major sin against the matrimonial state, while in England, 
until within a few years, an adulterous wife could be put away but 
an adulterous husband could be discarded only if he were also a 
brute or a deserter. With all its occasional pious appeal to magic, 
the law cannot alter the fact that adultery in a man is socially con 
doned not even by the foolish gesture of making adultery a crime, 
as it is in some places. Hence under strict divorce laws collusion 
is common. In England until recently it was only a little more 
difficult and expensive, a little more humiliating for the woman, 
and therefore a little more ridiculous than elsewhere. Gradually, 
too, the learned professions have been opened to women; while 
the war carried the ballot battle to victory in many countries 
among the vanquished as well as the victorious. 

Important as it is, little need be said of so-called social legis 
lation; its ever lengthening chapters are too well known. Smug 
and stupid oppositionists at length learned that much of this 
legislation was of economic advantage to themselves. Since that 


lesson was learned there has been less bigoted resistance to its 
progress, though resistance has by no means subsided. The ma 
chine age without such legislation would be unthinkable. Even in 
commonwealths with laws that are the most advanced in humane 
ness there is still an appalling amount of suffering and of unhappy 
circumstance of life for which the individual is not to be blamed. 
Law can and will no doubt in the course of time alleviate some of 
this. The history of the last century or more is not discouraging. 
The struggle for political democracy was in most countries 
long and hard fought. Everywhere, however, its theoretical prom 
ise far outran its realizations, substantial as some of these have 
been. In consequence the instinct of self-preservation in de 
mocracy may not be so deep-struck as many serenely assume. 
Certainly the great experiment has not completely substantiated 
the Aristotelian conceit that man is by nature a political animal. 
Concerning the future of law and government in the Western 
world, as Richard Hooker said of God, no doubt the safest elo 
quence is silence. 



We punish an individual guilty of assault or murder, but the massacre of a people 
is considered ,a glorious deed. SENECA. 

STALWART in his war-chariot stands the handsome youth 
swinging his sword. In long glittering rows advance the 
men, half in armor, skins over their nakedness; as some bend 
forward laying arrows on their bow-strings, as others bend back 
ward balancing spears in their right hands, as they battle with one 
another wielding clubs and axes, first in armor and finally unfet 
tered with straining muscles, wounding and killing, then streams 
from every pore the strength of life, youth, and manhood, the 
will to action, the fire of victory all fused in one grand ensemble 
just to present a hero to the observer. 

For the hero does not tower thus before us in flesh and blood, 
but in marble and bronze> in dithyramb and rhapsody. In these 
forms, art has fashioned the hero s image and exalted it to the place 
of the gods. Were the deities more than heroic men? A little 
more, but what the man of antiquity loved and feared in them 
was the heroic attitude which he saw in his conquerors and trans 
ferred to his gods. In those days no photographer followed the 
soldier into the field and so the narratives of skeptics, who described 
warfare in the language of truth, could more easily be ignored and 
forgotten. Nor was this martial struggle conducted in the manner 
of the Centaur frieze at Pergamon or the metopes at Selinus; 
its form was the titanic duel of Homeric realism. 



The antique world cherished strength and beauty of body more 
than sympathy and magnanimity; it was a segment of earth com 
prising many small countries which did not know, visit, or com 
municate with one another; which were all populated by more 
insular groups living in fear of the unfamiliar folk across the sea, 
or on the other side of the hills, and anxious to keep them at a 
distance; by men who were the sons and grandsons of supersti 
tious, primitive men knowing only themselves, the sun, and the 
stars. It was natural therefore that these ancient peoples should 
need weapons when they ventured upon the road for a day or 
came into strange lands. From time immemorial, fighting and 
warfare had been necessities to them, were to be expected every 
day; and so they were venerated in word and picture and the hero 
was honored. Was it not true that, at a decisive moment, a 
single sturdy young man could rescue a whole city from slavery? 

Those who were most powerful, having the support of friends 
or servants, expanded their might by means of threats or gifts, 
bread or offices, and so began very early to praise as heroic the 
service rendered by the masses whom they needed in their struggle 
with alien rivals and to glorify the sacrifice of other lives made 
in defense of their power. A man will risk all the advantages he 
possesses for the sake of money or property but he gambles with 
his life only when impelled by a romantic dream that promises 
immaterial goods honor and love. He wishes to possess this 
woman, he would like to surpass that man, and therefore he throws 
his life into the balance. The hope of shining before thousands as 
the most courageous or being borne in triumplf, the victor s fillet 
about his brow, through acclaiming multitudes, of returning home 
amidst splendid festivities such a vision rises triumphant over 
his fear of death, for an immortal life is apparently offered only 
to those who hazard their mortal years on the throw of the 

It was, and still is even today, easy for clever kings or tribunes 
to induce men to surrender their lives by offering them visions of 
the victor s crown. It is easy to discover a few ideals. They are 
called nation, honor, or fatherland. "What do these conceptions 
mean to us today? 



So long as kings entrusted their wars to hired and paid troops, 
there was nothing immoral or inappropriate in the procedure. 
Strong and dauntless men, adventurers who were tied down 
neither by religion nor work of any kind nor by a desire to lead 
an ordered or domestic existence, took up the profession of arms 
when they did not go to sea. Although the Renaissance was 
their true golden age, until about a hundred years ago generals and 
soldiers fought, for the most part, on the side and in the interest 
of him who paid them best. The pretext and sham virtue of 
"higher purposes" had not yet been invented; if indeed the soldiers 
of the Middle Ages did not fight on the side of the Turks, they 
were restrained only by their common feelings as Christians 
Europe was fighting against Asia. 

Later on, during the Thirty Years* "War, the disputed matters 
of religious belief, which were the basic causes of the struggle, 
prevented nobody from taking the side which happened to be 
profitable. At no other time has the cynicism born of the op 
portunity to gain, loot, and brawl flourished with more unbridled 
license than during the Wars of Religion, when both sides inscribed 
the name of God on their banners. Bravery was then an article 
of merchandise which was sold to the highest bidder. Tilly was 
a Belgian, Piccolomini was an Italian, and Wallenstein met his 
death at the hands of Scottish and Irish hirelings. "When the battle 
of Rheinfeldern was fought, the Imperial German army was com 
manded by the French general, Meroy, and the French army by 
the German Duke Bernhard of Weimar. 

So long as it was possible to enlist, or entice, slaves or poor men 
into military service by means of the sovereign s power or wealth, 
the blame could be laid only upon a social system which permitted 
slavery to exist, or upon a state of feeling which preferred brutality 
and anarchy to the right flowering of life. Thus was evolved 
the paradox that Christianity intensified rather than repressed 
the inclination to engage in warfare. 

The man of antiquity had lived with, and subject to, gods who 
endowed him with strength, beauty, and the desire to excel others; 


the Christian followed a God who forbade him all these things. 
The antique world had suppressed none of its natural instincts; 
Christianity enchained all instincts, threatened men with punish 
ment in a life to come, and thus dammed the current of the natural 
desire for combat that in an earlier time had risen out of need 
for which men had to train their sons in a practical manner. 

Long before a universal civilization or the protection afforded 
by law had robbed force of its claim to a necessity, the Church 
had deprived the European, taught to love humanity and the 
particular group to which he belonged, of the legal opportunity to 
follow normally his natural instincts. Fighting and warfare alone 
remained. And if one could then proceed to commit murder 
in the name of God, the adventure acquired a two-fold charm. 
Those who took up arms in that era for the purpose of finding an 
outlet for their natural spirits were by no means the most debased 
in character. Faith and superstition co-operated in justifying the 
Christian wars. As mediaeval man looked upon God as the source 
of law, the priest had only to formalize his interpretation of this 
law in order to gain credence for it. A legal trial in which re 
course was taken to Divine testimony and judgment was an ideal 
easily made realistic to the people and in fact a defeat was held 
to be, in those times, a judgment of God. Only after reason had 
established itself more and more firmly in the place occupied by 
faith during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was the 
attempt to justify war on moral grounds destined to suffer. 
"Even though there were no God, the law of nature would never 
theless exist," wrote Hugo Grotius. During the nineteenth cen 
tury, the state was everywhere accepted as the source of law; in 
the twentieth century its authority is being undermined by the 
association of classes and groups. 

Indeed we of today are witnessing a conflict of ideas similar to 
that which took place five hundred years ago. Then the knight, 
who was losing his standing in society, took the law into his own 
hands and rushed from his castle to fall upon the merchant and 
rob him of his wares. This he did because he had once been 
rich and now was poor, because he once had been the lord and 
was now only an heir without a patrimony. The state was too 


weak to protect the merchant, although it had produced him. 
The emperor s authority had slipped from his grasp and the ter 
ritorial prince was intent only upon the aggrandizement of his 

Now the state, after an interim of strength, is once more too 
weak to furnish adequate protection for the merchant. So parlia 
ments are warring against corporations, dictators against classes, 
and the habit of taking the law into one s own hands is gaining 
ground again. This time however it is not a decadent group 
which has recourse to self-help but new, striving groups eager to 
better their station. More and more the state is becoming a 
welfare institution. 

THE first argument advanced by contemporary friends of war is 
biological in character and may be stated in this way: Darwinism, 
the fighting instinct, healthful blood-letting, survival of the fittest 
are sanctioned by nature. 

Although zo-ology gives many instances of animals extending 
mutual aid, we shall dispense with this help from science. We 
gladly make room for the fighting instinct innate in man, even 
give it praise, and declare that we should rebel out of sheer ennui 
against a tranquil world populated entirely by angels dressed in 
white a world without a Mephisto, a society without struggle 
or sacrifice. 

But in fact the constant battle of all against all, at least the 
struggle between classes, has assumed such proportions since the 
abolition of slavery that a new form of human destiny has become 
a competitor to the daily letting of blood. If in our time hea 
thenish science provides for the preservation of human life better 
than did the Christian Middle Ages, the same science neverthe 
less, at the same time, works against its own eugenic practice by 
increasing and facilitating crimes and accidents in an equal meas 
ure. We hear of surplus population every day, and no war has 
noticeably reduced it anywhere. With each decade we hear less 
of living in too much comfort, less of sloth due to possessions, 


less of too much blood in the body politic; and no social physician 
has as yet established the necessity for a healthful letting of blood. 

The second argument of the friends of war is expansion. 

It is true that many of the wars of former centuries were started 
by rulers or by their masculine and feminine counselors because 
a certain district, about to be annexed to some other country 
through, marriage or inheritance, was also claimed by some third 
party. Millions of men have been slaughtered because the House 
of Hapsburg or the House of Bourbon, the Spanish or the French 
Crown, demanded territories to which other kings advanced pre 
tensions. Concerned about the power of their houses or perhaps 
about the security and wealth of their children and grandchildren, 
monarchs and nobles misused the name of God and the lives of 
their subjects, sacrificing both in order to gain a new province. 
The more a lord extended his realm, the taller his statue became. 
Sometimes culture and commerce profited by this extension of 
power, but nobody can determine whether the prize was worth 
the cost. At all events, none of these wars brought good fortune 
to the conquered districts. The people who had been subdued 
were counted, in grotesque fashion, as so many "souls/* It would 
have been more accurate to speak of "bodies," for the souls re 
mained unaffected after they had been conquered, and were, for 
.the most part, quite indifferent to the prospect of being conquered 

What did such a victory prove? Did it, after the fashion of 
earlier ages, demonstrate the greater health and vigor of a state? 
Or the superiority of intellect, the refinement of spirit, or even the 
affluence of available means? No, for the major portion, especially 
the greatest, of modern wars have been wars of coalition. The 
country which secured the best allies through making the most 
ample promises, resorting to the most clever diplomacy, or offer 
ing the most staggering rewards, almost invariably won out over 
weaker powers. Where exceptions to this rule occurred, the 
deeper cause of victory was fortunate geographical position, some 
times also the genius of a leader, but never the genuine and 
general superiority of a people. Nations without culture have 
vanquished more highly cultivated peoples in other times than 


those of the Huns. And the farther we remove ourselves from 
the condition of brute force, the more paradoxical becomes the 
effort of cultured peoples to attain the greatest possible crude 

The worship of might did not, of course, commence to diminish 
only after Christianity had come into the world. It has been on 
the decrease since the time of Socrates, and even earlier; for the 
primacy of the spirit has been developed independently of Jewish- 
Christian principles, and sometimes in spite of them. Whoever 
values reason more highly than cannon and subjects the sword to 
"the spirit does not thereby enter upon the Christian conception of 
life, far less accept it. Such a man can die a pagan or a Chinaman. 


THE third argument of the friends of war is this: the progress of 
industry in the victorious country. This has been torn to tatters 
during the last war, like a flag fluttering gaily in the bright parade 
but rent asunder during the storm. Everything that Norman 
Angell had predicted, or calculated rather, some years previous has 
been more than verified. We have seen that a full-fledged victory 
made the conqueror poorer and not richer that even America, 
which seemed destined to reap the largest profits, lost far more 
during the years of war than it had gained during the years of 
neutrality. It is rich today in spite of its triumph. Every Euro 
pean has experienced in his own person the cost of war to Europe. 
Prior to the cataclysm of 1914, a Paris workingman paid (reckon 
ing in gold) 1 8 francs for a month s rent and 30 centimes for a 
kilo of bread. After the victory he paid 72, francs and 125 cen 
times for the same lodging and the same bread. 
. Were all those leaders of industry in various countries, who 
advocated war, simply fools? On the contrary, they were too 
shrewd. We shall, they thought, manufacture cannon, shells 
or battleships. But they overlooked the fact that in our century 
nobody can remain wealthy, in the long run, at the expense of 
other people. Precisely at the most dangerous point in Europe, 
where the two "implacable foes** touch each other, precisely in 


that district which had been most ruthlessly shaken, morally and 
physically, by four years of conflict, the leaders of industry met 
immediately after the war was over in order to come to an agree 
ment as speedily as possible. Even before the war the manu 
facturers of arms so grotesquely managed their affairs that when 
the conflict came Turks fired upon French troops with French 
cannon, and Italians upon German soldiers with German cannon. 
But hardly had the struggle ended when the iron, coal, and potash 
interests of Germany and France combined for the purpose of 
working and profiting together the same interests which during 
four years had sought to destroy each other through the instru 
mentality of bombs and gases. 

"What had become of the old hostility? Had men at length 
discerned the fact that coal deposits and potash fields extend 
under the earth regardless of boundary lines fixed by treaties 
and congresses, and that it is a mistake to fight those whose 
co-operation one needs in order to become more prosperous? Why 
did this realization come so late? 

Because conditions are novel and because, even though thinkers 
had previously arrived at the same conclusion on paper, a great 
test had to be made by practical men in an experiment that led 
to negative results. 

It was possible, in centuries gone by, to establish an approxi 
mate monopoly of money, coal, or petroleum through conquest. 
Today science has destroyed this possibility. In the first place, 
science always invents precisely that which humanity happens 
to need. If, for instance, all rubber were owned by a single 
nation, science would devise a substitute as Edison is now, as a 
matter of fact, trying to do. Secondly, as we are taught by the 
example of coal rendered unnecessary through hydraulic power, 
science triumphs over the elements just in proportion as it returns 
to them. In the third place, it has transcended all boundaries 
and has intertwined the widely differentiated raw materials and 
industrial domains in such a manner that they can no more be 
readily defended indefinitely than a fortified city in the interior 
of a hostile country or even an island in mid-ocean. 

Science has at the same time divested war of its divinity; made 


it devilish and ridiculous as a pursuit of man. Technique, above 
all, as a friend of the human race, has reduced to absurdity en 
mity between peoples, in that it surrendered at the same time to 
both warring parties and for that reason alone compelled both to 

The fourth argument, then, advanced by the friends of war 
the splendour of heroic death has, in the technical warfare of 
our time, become grotesque. During the cavalry attacks of 
Frederick the Great, yes even down to the battles of /o- /i, a 
trooper, galloping forward with bridle reins flung to the wind, 
could enjoy the voluptuous sensation of being a youth who risked 
his life in order to win personal renown. Today ambitions of this 
kind can spur only a few hundred aviators or sailors on a sub 
marine. No battle of the "World War was decided by a single 
man, like an occasional battle of old, or if there was such an 
incident, the fact remains unknown. Of course no one denies 
the part which the element of morale plays even today in the 
field and everybody knows that only an army resolved to hold 
out can gain advantage. 

But the chance to win a battle by personal effort, through 
strategy or courage, which existed fifty years ago, has disap 
peared since war materials have become the determining factor, 
since the military machine has obtained control of everything, ancE 
since the soldier has been reduced to a servant of organization. 
Hand-to-hand fighting is still a reality, positions may be held by 
the resolution or the strength of a small force, but decisions are 
arrived at fifty miles behind the front, beside a telephone in a 
room, and are carried out twenty-five miles nearer the front in a. 
dugout, by let us say a captain of artillery. Personal leader 
ship in battle has given way to a remote, machine-like control, just 
as all other enterprises have. Now that it is possible to shoot over 
mountains at a target more than a hundred miles away, now that 
a commanding general need no longer push an army forward in 
order to capture a city in the heart of the enemy s territory but 
can destroy it with a gas attack carried out by aerial squadrons, 
war is no longer an affair between men, but a conflict between, 
machines on the one hand, women and old men on the other. 


Since physics usurps the role of the "human instrument of destiny"; 
since chemistry occupies the place of an attack, and statistics that 
of a call to arms; since the tension of high- voltage wires has re 
placed moral energy, and rigid discipline the spirit of voluntary 
sacrifice; since every military position has become a system of 
fortifications and whole countries a single citadel; since war, which 
was first a duel, then a knightly game, and then a profession, 
has become the fate of whole peoples, bringing destruction to 
millions remote from the battle area through bombs, gas or hunger: 
since all this has happened, the idea of heroic death has become a 
lie and every exhortation to win martial laurels a crime* 

THE fifth argument presented by the friends of war is this: the 
nation, the fatherland. How beautiful was the Roman Empire, 
extending from the Ebro to the Euphrates! How vast was the 
realm of the Caliphs! After the barbarians of the fifth century 
had overwhelmed the Roman might and partitioned it, the nations 
of Europe began to take shape. And yet during more than a 
thousand years afterwards every nationalistic antagonism disap 
peared so completely under the spell of a unifying faith that Dante 
could greet the German Emperor as a savior and Petrarch could 
summon another to Italy. 

It was the Reformation that brought the first signs of patriotism 
to the surface in Germany; the Hussite wars were, perhaps, the 
first great nationalist movement. After England had developed 
a national consciousness during the Middle Ages, France, Spain, 
and other national powers came into being. Under Napoleon, 
who occasionally united several nations in one regiment, there 
existed momentarily something like a sentiment of a European 
fatherland. But after the nineteenth century had opened, Europe 
grew more and more divided. The Greek nation freed itself from 
the Turks, the Italians threw off the Austrian yoke, the Belgians 
parted from the Dutch, the Scandinavian peoples went their 
separate ways, and the Balkan nations discovered themselves. 
National states organized themselves everywhere and most of them 


became permanent. But Ireland and Poland remained in bondage 
to what they considered foreign domination, and two great im 
perial states the Hapsburg monarchy and Turkey united many 
peoples under their sway. 

These powers discovered and nurtured their nationalist sentiment 
partly after, partly before, their actual establishment as inde 
pendent states. They began to find it a source of pride. So long 
as a race or family is oppressed, one understands that it should 
vaunt its strength. But .once a family is free, any member of it 
who continues loudly to praise his stock will hardly be understood 
by anyone. In the case of peoples however the game seems to be 
permitted, with the result that what is a private bad habit is trans 
formed into a public virtue. And when the leaders of a young 
nation require patriotic sentiment, they easily find professors who 
prove that it exists. Thus Bulgarian savants found 1,100,000 
Bulgars and only 700 Serbs in Macedonia, while Serbian authorities 
found 57,000 Bulgars and 2,000,000 Serbs in the same country. 
The Greeks meanwhile had been unable to discover a single Serb. 

In similar fashion a great stock-taking of races started in the 
department-store called Europe, with a view to giving all races 
the justice they desired according to the demands of nationalities. 
No one knew (or if someone did, he concealed the fact) that after 
two thousand years of blending there were no more pure races 
in Europe, and that the only population of relatively undiluted 
blood dwells on the isle of Iceland, far out to sea, where the self 
same Scandinavian immigrants have lived for a thousand years. 
But though only amalgamations of peoples, desirable for political 
reasons, existed and no pure races or providentially appointed 
nations were discovered nationalistic sentiment was nevertheless 
nourished everywhere. A few scattered customs and songs were 
so skilfully grouped that even the eight mutually inimical nations 
of Austria-Hungary and the forty-eight nations of Russia which 
were perfect strangers to one another managed to produce both 
an Austrian and a Russian national feeling. 

To both groups, the sixth argument of the lovers of war the 
hope of restoring the common tongue by a military victory 
bristled with significant difficulties. Why was German spoken in 


the Baltic provinces of Russia, and Polish in German Masuria? 
Why do Basques and Bretons speak a French less pure than that 
used by the Canadian in English Quebec? How does it happen 
that, in spite of conquests and reconquests, the inhabitants of 
border provinces cannot make up their minds to speak any one 
pure language, and cling tenaciously to a jargon like the Alsatian 
dialect? And, on the other hand, how is it possible that a couple 
of dozen peoples, mingling in the United States, agree to use a 
single language so quickly that the sons of Italian or Polish im 
migrants are unable to understand the speech of their mothers? 
Where languages are forbidden they are preserved, but the emi 
grant forgets them speedily. It would seem therefore that the 
language of a country is dependent upon circumstances and not 
upon any national sentiment and that this last is developed among 
voluntary and even unwilling emigrants when they adopt one 
tongue, as is in the case in America. Apparently the community 
of land, language, and interests creates certain associative feelings 
but this implies not common enmity to those living elsewhere but 
common friendship for those who are neighbors. When deserters 
from various countries found themselves banded together in 
Switzerland during the World War for forced labor, they lived 
peaceably together, although their brothers at the front massacred 
one another on behalf of national sentiment. 

Admittedly, sentiment of this character animates many indi 
viduals and those not of the worst sort. 

"Italy is a religion," exclaimed Mazzini, and in vain did Bakunia 
object that Italy was composed of five nations the clerical caste, 
the grande and petite bourgeoisie, the workers, and the farmers. 
A little earlier it was said in England that "God first revealed 
Himself to Englishmen"; and William II was honestly convinced 
that God "has in mind a very especial destiny for His Germans." 
Before and after the War, poets and scholars arose on all hands 
to cry out that theirs was the chosen people; and then when men 
ultimately began, amidst the thunder of assembled cannon, to call 
upon the German, English, French, or Russian God, every people 
believed, at first, in its own righteousness. Gustav Herve believed 
in it, although a year previous he had led in establishing as a 


dogma the negation of patriotism, and had courteously declared 
that none of the existing nations was worth even a single drop of 
a workingman s blood. All, or nearly all, speedily fell victims to 
suggestion. The great powers especially were convinced of the 
presence of God with them, although many spoke a little cynically 
of the Bulgarian, Portuguese, or Montenegrin Deity. As if the 
God of Christians were not always with the weak! 

One of the romantic subsidiary motives of the nationalists, 
which we will not stress overmuch, is the wish to see the "indi 
viduality of a people" conserved, and the belief that it would perish 
under the influence of international union. The dances, songs, 
and costumes of the olden time would otherwise, it is said, disap* 
pear completely. But when one bears in mind that today the 
same collar is worn by Catholics, Mohammedans, and Confucians 
in three continents, that the same business letter is despatched 
from Honolulu and cities in Alaska, and that the same jams are 
eaten by white men and negroes, one marvels at these lovers of 
"individuality," who still seem to believe that Europe is a costume 
ball, and that the preservation of a few racial customs associated 
with church-going or shooting festivals are more important than 
the preservation of thousands of human lives. 

A final objection that arises to confute those who are concerned 
over individualities of race and speech is the fact that we are today 
experiencing not a horizontal but a vertical migration of peoples* 
The diagram of the century results not from the longitudinal cuts 
which divide Europe into nations, but from those cross-cuts which, 
split it up into classes. If one desires to understand the puzzle, one 
must look diagonally from the bottom upward, not simply straight 
from the top down. 


THE seventh argument advanced by the friends of war is "national 
honor." It is the most dangerous and most unreasonable of all; 
wherefore it comes home to everyone. It leads directly to the 
problem of the fatherland. Lessing said that "Love for one s 
country is at best an heroic weakness"; but Goethe went still 


farther when he wrote: "Patriotism as well as knightly conduct 
are now as much out of date as chivalry and priestcraft." These 
bold German opinions were balanced by French views. "The world 
is our country, men are our brothers/* Paine had written; and in 
the National Assembly of 1790 Mirabeau declared: "I propose 
to you that the ministers or agents who have undertaken a war 
of aggression be pursued as criminals. The time will undoubtedly 
come when all Europe will be a single family. Weakness alone 
calls for war!" At the same time, General George Washington 
said: "My sincerest wish is to behold war, the shame of mankind, 
banished from this earth." 

National honor sometimes called prestige is the corollary of 
heroic death. Both have been invented in order to arouse quiet, 
reasonable men to that fury which is indispensable to any attempt 
to storm an enemy position. Since no one is any longer stirred 
to martial ardor by the thought of defending the Cross or of 
fighting in behalf of the right interpretation of the Gospel, be 
cause all now permit others to believe what they think right, since 
the nation state has superseded the theocratic state, the "honor of 
the country" has been revised. 

Though the concept of what constitutes this kind of honor has 
undergone many changes during recent centuries, one fact has 
remained: there is no such thing as the honor of a collective body, 
When the knight, festooned with flowers and wreaths, rode out 
to joust for his dame, determined to win or to fall, when a con 
temptuous glance from a neighboring loge an offence against 
honor was sufficient to doom one of two men to death, at that 
time, no nobleman went without a sword, and the history of the 
world was fashioned by aristocrats or the clergy. In such an age 
knightly conduct was a genuine thing, and the legends of mankind 
would be poorer without the scenes, anecdotes, and epigrams which 
grew up round about it. 

Meanwhile, however, the world has discovered that lawyers and 
journalists, trade-unionists, teachers, and artisans guide the for 
tunes of peoples, that the nobility have lost their privileges, and 
that only the priests have conserved their ancient influence. The 
rapier is now found only in museums, at the opera, and in the 


castles of old families. Even in Germany dueling is restricted to 
very especial cases of mortal insult. Its place has been taken by 
assassination a less knightly, a more cowardly and cynical, way of 
destroying an opponent. 

And now, in the face of this transformation of the concept of 
honor, in an era when adultery is calmly discussed, forgiven or 
merged in divorce, and avenged by a bullet only in old-fashioned 
novels, at a time when one even goes to an unknown and official 
judge in order to obtain, through the state, revenge in the shape 
of money for an insult (thereby, incidentally, rendering oneself, 
the author of the injury, and the state ridiculous) at such a 
moment in the world s history we are expected to believe that the 
honor of a nation can be violated, as even the newest treaties of 
1928 do declare. In all truth, the spirit of no nation has ever been 
conscious of an Injury to its honor. The fact is, rather, that a 
dozen ministers and popular orators, or a few hundred news 
papers, have asserted that the nation has been insulted and must 
be avenged. In so far as such declarations have been masks be 
hind which some group sought to conceal an attack, they have 
been means of overpowering through suggestion and excitement a 
few million tranquil citizens, most of whom had not, as they read 
the account of the injury, been so deeply stirred as to strike the 
table with their fists. . 

{Collective honor is as unthinkable as collective love*) These 
two most subtle manifestations of the human heart have always 
been experienced only by individuals. They are like stars which 
shine only in the lonely darkness and fade in the light of the omni 
present sun. 

How weak must be the self-possession of a nation which permits 
itself to be changed by the threatening speeches of a neighboring 
statesman, by the incivility of a king making a vacation tour, by 
an article in an official journal or by the note of a minister of 
foreign affairs I If what we label patriotism really existed in the 
hearts of men, if the matter were not rather a natural affection for 
one s family, countryside, and state, there would exist no con 
scription. This is just as unethical as the so-called "matrimonial 
duty," which even the most modern codes of law still impose upon 


women. The existence of conscription would in itself suffice to 
prove that the kings who invented patriotism a hundred years ago 
were just as little certain of finding it in their subjects as legislators 
have been with respect to the existence of love in marriage rela 
tions. For this reason kings forced citizens to defend a country 
which nobody had attacked for any natural motive, and which 
therefore needed no defense. 

"Standing armies," wrote Immanuel Kant, ec should in time cease 
to be, for they constitute a perennial threat of war to other 
states. . . . The condition of peace is not a state of nature, which 
is rather constantly at war; but it must be established. . . . The 
civil constitution of every state ought to be republican. . . In 
ternational law should be based upon a federation of free states. 
. . . The idea of a world civil law is a necessary complement to 
general social rights and so to lasting peace, as are civil and common 
law.** Simultaneously with the enunciation of these granite truths 
was heard the melodious voice of Voltaire, ef D#ns tons les guenes 
il tie s agtt que de voler" and the declaration of his disciple, Fred 
erick II, that wars are "the fever-fits of mankind." In 1820 
Jefferson wrote a letter proposing that the earth be divided into 
two halves: one Europe, the land of martial heroes and belching 
cannon; the other America, home of peace and freedom. 

Fifty years later Victor Hugo said: "Obliterate boundaries, get 
rid of border and customs officials, send the soldiers home: in other 
words, be free! Peace will then follow!" And Lamartine writes 
in his manifesto to the Europe of 1848: "The world and our 
selves, we would advance toward brotherliness and peace . . . not 
the fatherland but the free man incurs the greatest danger in war 

But long before the exuberances of these poets and thinkers, a 
few statesmen attempted to use practical measures in preparing a 
way which, in our time, only a few venture to take. In all ages 
the crowd has ridiculed as Utopian ideas which it feared for one 
reason or another, chiefly habit. The first man who sought to 
establish an international tribunal with executive power in Europe 
was a Czech who had come into prominence first as a politician 
and governor, then as an elected king. He was George von 


Podiebrad who in 1462 nearly five hundred years before the 
time of Wilson sought to unify the Christian nations into one 
parliament and to create an international militia as a means of 
defense against any disturber of peace. But the Pope laid a ban 
on him, and the age passed him by. A century later, Henri IV 
conceived a similar plan in Paris. 

Every era of great wars enkindles anew the will to peace. It 
seems as if, in this respect, men remain all their lives like children 
who abstain from sugar only when and as long as they suffer from 
stomach-ache as a result of too much nibbling. In times of peace 
the desire for unison among peoples grows steadily weaker; and it 
would be entirely forgotten if a few thinkers, here and there, did 
not repeat their warnings over and over again. 

Living in the seventeenth century, under the deep impression 
which the longest of all wars had made upon him, the Dutch 
scholar, Hugo Grotius, fought against the notion of a chosen 
people. The Frenchman Emeric de Lacroix proposed a permanent 
international congress having its seat in Venice, and the English 
man William Penn suggested a congress of states. Then the whole 
spirit of later times was dominated by the work of the Abbe St. 
Pierre, who in his turn demanded a permanent congress of states, 
the reduction of armed forces in every country to 6,000 men, and 
punitive expeditions against every recalcitrant member. This plan 
was first formulated in France by Turgot and the Encyclopxdists, 
in Germany by Leibnitz, and in England by Bentham. 

The year 1815 was a great year for the peace movement. Twenty 
years of war had once again stirred the consciences of Europeans. 
This time, however, a new part of the world was in evidence for 
the first time, making its appearance in a characteristic way. 
During the same month that witnessed the meeting in Paris of the 
three most powerful sovereigns of Europe, for the purpose of 
establishing, with mighty words and petty reservations, with pomp 
and falsehoods, "eternal peace" through the medium of the so- 
called "Holy Alliance," there asseihbled, in a New York cottage, a 
few dozen Quakers to form, without pomp and circumstance, 
the first society for the promotion of peace recorded in history. 
The Holy Alliance devised by kings in armor was soon under- 


mined and wormeaten by the flagrant family interests of their 
dynasties, but the modest club formed by those humble liberty- 
loving American citizens multiplied within ten years into fifty 
such associations scattered throughout the United States. Other 
Quakers made a similar beginning in England, a year after the 
American society came into being, arid a little later "Friends of 
Peace," the first periodical of its kind in the world, appeared in 

Not until 1830 did the Continent follow this example by 
founding the first European society for peace in Genoa* In 1843 
the first Peace Conference met in London. The leading spirits of 
many nations Cobden, Peel, Disraeli, Hugo, Garibaldi, and also 
Napoleon III were captivated by the new idea. During the 
nineties, Germans took the lead; Alfred Fried and Berta von Suttner 
offered themselves to ridicule in an Empire prospering in a coat of 
mail; a Peace Bureau was established in Berne; Nobel, Carnegie, 
and other manufacturers of war materials, dying, bequeathed 
millions to rid the world of war; and mankind even witnessed the 
spectacle of the Czar of all the Russias, formerly commander-in- 
chief of the largest army in the world, summoning a congress to 
The Hague, for the purpose of founding an international tribunal. 
So great was the fear of war in the hearts of those engaged in 
preparing it! 

The tragi-comic history of this Conference closed the nineteenth 
century and its era, grown so drunk with old thoughts of power 
that it could be awakened only by the noise of a vast catastrophe. 
The whole nineteenth century had been marked by reaction 
against the peaceful solution of international problems because it 
had witnessed the rise of nationalist states and, under the influence 
of nationalist concepts and the interests of so-called Realpolitik, 
concern for both moral and economic considerations had been 
trampled in the earth. The World War, which was on the verge 
of breaking out in the very first years of the opening century, is 
the great liquidation of debts created in the previous era and we 
desire and demand that it be associated with the nineteenth cen 
tury. The second Hague Conference of 1907 was only a farce. 
During the weeks for which the third meeting was set in the 


summer of 1915, oratory could no longer be heard in The Hague 
for nearby thundered the canon of Europe. 

The cost of armament during the years from 1910 to 1914 
amounted to 1.8 billions of dollars for Austria and Germany to 
gether and 2.4 billions for France and Russia. The total was 
more than four billions. Yet these were small sums compared with 
those piled up by the War. On land and sea or in the air, 12,- 
990,570 soldiers were killed in the World War. The War cost the 
combined combatants 250,000,000 billions of dollars, half their 
total national wealth. 

Thus, within four years, for no reason and without any essential 
consequences, Europe had sent up in smoke half of all it had 
gathered together during centuries. How should we characterize 
an act of this kind on the part of a large bank or a powerful 

In so far as the victorious powers are concerned, France was a 
creditor nation to the extent of 30 billions before the war and a 
debtor to the extent of 3 1 billions afterward. During the struggle, 
the national wealth of Franch decreased by one third; that of 
England by one fourth. Even the United States Government had 
to expend during two years more than it had previously laid out 
in the course of a century; and if in spite of this fact it remains 
today the creditor of the world, the reason is not participation in 
the second half of the war but rather abstention during the first 
half. The small countries which remained neutral are in a rela 
tively better position than any of the imperialist states. 

With the exception of America, all the warring countries lost 
millions of men and billions of money; and any territory gained 
in the process at the expense of the conquered peoples is of intrinsic 
worth only in the case of the new free states established at the 
end. During the past ten years Germany, though beaten and 
stripped of considerable territory, has recuperated more rapidly 
than enlarged and victorious France a new proof that neither 
vastness of domain, number of "souls," the fortune of arms, nor 
the role assumed ,at the signing of peace determines the strength 
of a nation but, rather, a series of biological factors. Even the 
single positive result of the World War the destruction of four 


realms anachronistically ruled by emperors, and the creation of 
eleven republics was therefore purchased at a price which, in civil 
life, only an insane person would pay. 


THE primitive negro who first beholds a white man shrinks back 
from the stranger in religious fear. A long time passes before he 
discovers that this demigod dies of thirst without water, is hungry 
if there be no game to eat; that red blood flows from his wounds, 
which are painful to him also; and that his children are born and 
suckled in the family pickaninny manner. The fact that cer 
tain people wear bear skins, eat blubber, and live in snow-huts 
keeps them worlds apart from the Hindu who chews almonds and 
washes himself and his breech-cloth daily in the stream. And 
yet the mysterious mechanism of their bodies, so much more wisely 
and complexly constructed than all houses and machines, func 
tions in both in the same manner and living energy radiates in the 
same waves through both organisms. 

The great thinkers, teachers of wisdom to mankind, knew this 
well because their thoughts went back to the fundamentals of our 
existence and did not rest content with the particular customs 
and beliefs of their own peoples. Confucius and Buddha, Socrates 
and Jesus, Francis of Assisi, Spinoza, Voltaire, addressed their 
words to a being who must breathe, eat, drink, and die; who can 
feel, dream, think, and invent; who desires, suffers, and enjoys; 
and who is at home everywhere on this round earth which we shall 
soon encircle with ships that ride the air. Here we have the word 
which, more than all the wisdom of philosophers, will girdle all 
the earth, building one common society in which men like unto 
one another will dwell: the word velocitas, which means speed, is 
the word to which our century hearkens. 

The wars of our time had their genesis in the minds of a few; 
they could be brought into being, however, only through the aid 
of propaganda, which averred that those who live "over there" are 
different from ourselves and are therefore evil, having what we do 
not possess and longing to possess what we have. These people, 


who wear wooden shoes and blue mantles instead of leathern boots 
and jackets, who eat sausages and drink beer instead of mutton 
and red wine, who take the chalice at the Lord s Supper rather than 
the Host alone these are not worthy to own that beautiful 
district. And vice versa. The chauvinists have always flattered 
their own folk, and defamed foreign peoples. 

Therefore we are told again and again, in the self-satisfied 
manner of those who have no vision, that war must be as long as 
there are men. For the most part, persons who talk in this strain 
are beyond the age of military service. But why should those who 
will be sent into the fray not pause to consider how this ignominy 
may be overcome? 

The robber barons, who sat in their "romantic" castles enjoying 
a clear view of the commercial highways on which they took 
their plunder, would also have smiled if someone had told them 
that before one or two centuries passed armor and long swords 
would have gone out of style. "But how shall order be main 
tained, how shall people realize that I am a nobleman, if I carry 
no death-dealing weapon?" they might have asked. 

What would these gentlemen say if they could behold cities 
erected without walls to afford protection against their forays, 
fortresses which have been levelled, castle moats converted intd 
flower-gardens, their own grandsons going about with a gilded 
foil, and their great-grandsons carrying nothing more destructive 
than a cane ! -* --^ w ~*~ - 

It was possible after all for a world comprised of law-abiding 
citizens to develop out of a state of affairs in which every house 
was its own fortress and every head of a family carried a weapon 
to defend his nest and his rights, as soon as communities decided 
to live peaceably inside the common walls and to allow judges to 
settle grievances. It was possible, furthermore, for a time to come 
when the walls of cities could fall and the diverse portions of a 
continent could be linked with one another openly by means of 
iron rails stretching from city to city, promoting tranquillity and 
labor in common. Are we now to believe it impossible that these 
same rails, which in reality pass beyond all barriers created by 
tariffs and newspapers, which are of the same gauge throughout a 


great portion of die earth, which carry the same cars everywhere, 
and which are indifferent to hateful words about the bad neighbor 
who boils his chicken instead of roasting it, shall not overcome 
these words out of sheer practical necessity? 

Are they not carrying similar things through the wide world? 
The bananas offered for sale by the street vendors of Paris and 
Berlin grew on neighboring trees in the primeval African forest. 
Was this admirable English white bread baked of American or 
Russian flour? Is not the coffee percolator in a San Francisco 
drug store the same as that in the Espresso in Rome? A Russian 
farmer who has saved a little money rides in a Ford car to a 
field which he plows with a German tractor; in China people carry 
German parasols and wear American snowshoes; the same types 
of manufactured articles turn up in all countries, because the 
pictures displayed in trade magazines are wafted round the world. 
The machine impresses its identical forms upon the brain of all 
mankind. The gesture of a Korean manipulating the throttle of 
his motor is international in character, and he thinks the same 
thoughts regarding the refusal of his automobile to budge as does 
the handsome gentleman tourist on the broadest highway in 
Sussex. The roads of the whole world are similar, for autos are 
destined to go everywhere; the clothes of the whole world repeat 
one another and all autoists must wear auto coats or mechanics 
trousers. Even the air, in which the traveller could once perceive 
real differences, is becoming homogeneous. Wherever men are, 
theje also is the smell of machine oil. 

//Fh& joys of men are coming to resemble one another. The 
phonograph records played in Uganda in front of the kraal of 
the chieftain are the same as those whirled off in a Parisian dance 
hall. And possibly the old negro recognizes something African, 
coming to him in a roundabout way, in the jazz rhythms. The 
film tragedies manufactured in Hollywood are reeled off in Tokio 
and Melbourne at the same time. 

In the place of things, which once had a differentiating effect 
upon men, impelling them to discern that which was strange, not 
that which was common, in the simple affairs of life, have now 
come machines which bring people together more quickly than 


could the conferences of their statesmen conferences at tables 
which are green, like the congress tables in centuries gone by. 
Machines and merchandise, railroads and newspapers, technical 
effort and science, are all compelling us toward peace* When 
viewed from an elevated standpoint, war is now seen to have be 
come as mediaeval as a tourney. 


WHEN the festive parade that honored the occasion of Queen 
Victoria s jubilee came into view, a beggar made the following 
comment: "I own Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and India, 
but I am starving nevertheless, because I have no bread* I am 
a citizen of the greatest world power, and everybody should bow 
before me. But when I asked a negro for alms yesterday, he gave 
me a kick instead." 

The fact that the propertied man in this anecdote was a negro 
and also a British subject renders this tragi-comic story doubly 
true. For while we Europeans have reintroduced slavery among 
ourselves in the form of conscription, the Africans have occa 
sionally been emancipated from slavery through the same con 
scription and enabled to demand their rights in accordance with 
Mr. Wilson s programme. Though this century may not witness 
the end of war, it will certainly experience the end of colonization. 
Therewith there will fall into the discard the last argument which 
once seemed to offer a recommendation of war. If our century 
does not see the peaceful unification of Europe, it will behold 
militant unification should the colored races join against the white 
world. "If the inhabitants of Mars were to invade our midst, we 
should have a world nation tomorrow," said ZangwilL 


If they would preserve themselves, civilized states must achieve 
some kind of unity. For internationalism is not the antithesis 
to nationhood, but verily rather a synthesis of nations. "No peo 
ple," said Lord Grey, "can in the future consider itself victorious 
if it has sought security for itself alone and not, at the same time, 
for others." 

This discernment is nowhere gainsaid, but the dullness of minds, 


the sloth of hearts, the force of habit all conspire to make most 
men conduct themselves in the fashion of thirty years ago, when 
President Kriiger came to Europe an exile and was greeted by 
a French journal with these words: "Forgive Europe the cir 
cumstance that we were not in a position to do what we ought to 
have done and wished to do/ 

And yet all these millions of people, who look forward unmoved 
and inactive to an approaching war as if this were their fate, belong 
to various organizations which have long since broken through 
nationalistic bonds. All are Catholics or Protestants, Jews or 
Mohammedans, and so in agreement, inside their confessions, 
throughout the world. They are all either members of the 
capitalist class, doing business daily in foreign exchange, notes, 
papers, and bills of lading, or they are members of an international 
union of workers or of international congresses and institutes; if 
they can do nothing else, they mount railroad cars routed to 
foreign countries, or ships whose papers name foreign lands as their 
goal. If they belong, however, to the very small number who 
clamor for war who sit in certain military headquarters or edi 
torial offices in all countries then they have nothing else to think 
about except the foreign countries which they intend to conquer 
and destroy. 

The League of Nations is the first institution which has begun 

to carry into effect the plans of the Czech king and the Dutch 

scholar whom we have named, and to express in terms of reality the 

idea which meant so much to Kant and Leibnitz, Goethe and 

Lessing, St. Pierre, Lamartine and Hugo. Conceived in Europe, 

advocated in America, it has now been established, with many 

imperfections, on the banks of a Swiss lake. But however little 

one may venture to compare dream and reality in this instance, 

it is certain that the marble tablet on the quay at the Lake of 

Geneva quite properly bears the name of Woodrow Wilson. As 

the letters of that name, inscribed in gold, face the summit of 

Mont Blanc, the man whom they recall seems, in all his earthbound 

limitations, to summon forth the giant whose godlike head is there 

only occasionally revealed through a drifting of clouds. 

La verite e$t en -marche. In all countries, particularly in Eng- 


land and America, societies founded for the unification of lovers of 
peace now number millions rather than thousands. But it is 
obvious that the chief leaders are not those who thus instruct and 
dedicate themselves to the cause, that our hope must lie rather 
with the young who are now growing into maturity and will be 
lieve what they are taught. If we give our boys tin soldiers, take 
them to gaze upon the monuments erected to victorious kings, 
teach them the names of battles, the songs of tramping men, the 
renown of generals, the splendor of armies marching to the field, 
the glory of a uniform, the charm of decorations, the prestige of 
the state, the superiority of the fatherland, the pride of conquest, 
they will accept it all. And when they arrive at maturity, they 
will seek to attain the goal that has been pointed out to them as 

: reveal to them the fleeting honors of martial success as com 
pared with the enduring victories of the spirit, contrast for them 
the achievements of triumphant captains and the work of thinkers 
and inventors, compare generals sending men to death with doctors 
devoted to saving lives^X Teach them to realize the faults of their 
own countries and to appreciate the virtues of others. Show them 
their close kinship to children who speak an alien tongue. Em 
phasize the fact that they have in common mountains and streams, 
that national boundary lines do not mark vital differences between 
the people on both sides, that customs and clothing, faith and 
superstition, present similarities throughout the world, that litera 
tures supplement one another, and that great foreign cities are 
friendly neighbors which can now be reached by aeroplane in a 
few hours. Do this and they will believe and be governed ac 
cordingly throughout their lives. Above all, teach them what at 
battle really is, show them photographs terribly true of life in 
the zone of battle where human bodies are mangled beyond recog 
nition and beautiful lives are snuffed out in smoke and flame. 
Teach them the mathematical terms in which a victor nation must 
reckon its success when war is over. Let them learn modern lan 
guages so that they can go about everywhere. And while you 
educate your sons to seek an outlet for their ambitions and 
energies in tasks that will bring success to them, give your daugh- 


ters to understand that they, the natural guardians of life and 
hearth, must likewise realize their solidarity with one another so 
that, in case another "fever-fit,** as Frederick termed it, attacks 
humanity, they may arise and extinguish it before it bursts into 
war. For theirs are those weaponless hands which, since primeval 
time$ ? have been superior to hands bearing arms. 


THE question which has been asked of the contributors to 
this volume reminds one a little of an episode in Wells* 
"Food of the Gods." The "Children of the Food" have 
become giants eight times the stature of mankind with an equiva 
lent intellectual and spiritual development. One of them wanders 
into London and astounded at the mass of busy, crawling humanity 
he asks: "What are you all for, you little people? What are you 
all for, anyway?" 

Professor Beard has put this question to our modern scientific 
civilization. It is a sound question and a pertinent one; but it 
takes a little answering. It involves consideration of what has 
been accomplished, of the values and the costs of the results at 
tained, of future probable tendencies and of the underlying philos 
ophy which, however unconsciously, animates our civilization as 
a whole. It is a challenge which we, who believe in evolution and 
in the fruits of evolution, should be proud to take up as best we 

In the field covered by the present chapter, that of health, the 
first question noted above, as to what has actually been accom 
plished, is relatively easy to answer. There may be differences of 
opinion as to whether man is more or less pugnacious, more or less 
philosophical than he was. That he is more healthy can be dem 
onstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt. 

As the simplest and most obvious measure of achievement 
we can take the life span to which the average man may 
look forward at birth. In the eighteenth century, acccording to 


1 88 HEALTH 

the few estimates which can be made, this expectation of life in 
civilized English and American communities (Carlisle, England, 
Massachusetts and New Hampshire) was between 35 and 40 years. 
In some cities (Northhampton, England and Philadelphia) it was 
under 30 years. From 1838 on, we have full data for England 
and Wales which may be cited in round figures to the nearest full 
year as follows: 

1838 1854 40 years 

1871 1880 41 years 

1881 1890 44 years 

1891 1900 44 years 

1901 1910 48 years 

1910 1912 51 years 

1920 1922 56 years 

During the last half of the nineteenth century there was a gain 
of only four years in the average expectation of life; during the 
first quarter of the twentieth century there has been a gain of 
twelve years. For the United States, the same thing has occurred, 
an increase in expectation of life from forty-eight years in 1901 
to fifty-eight years in 1925. 

Whether this remarkable increase in the length of life is due to 
chance or to vague and uncertain biological and social tendencies 
or whether it is the direct result of purposeful public health efforts, 
we can judge by an analysis of the specific causes of death which 
have chiefly contributed to the total result. For this purpose I 
may cite, as entirely typical, the statistics for my own city of New 
Haven which have recently been analyzed in detail for the past 
half century. 

For 1877-1881 the death rate from all causes in New Haven 
was 1820 per 100,000 that is out of every 100,000 persons in 
the population 1820 died each year. In 1922-1926 the cor 
responding rate was 1250. Comparing these two periods, the 
rate for pulmonary tuberculosis dropped from 282 to 41; for 
diphtheria, from 124 to 5:; for typhoid fever, from 47 to y; for 
scarlet fever, from 40 to 2; for infant diarrhea, from 105 to 19. 
These five causes alone account for an aggregate decrease of 526 


per 100,000 or 92 per cent of the total net decrease in the death 
rate from all causes, If we can reasonably account for the decrease 
in these five diseases we shall have gone far to explain the major 
changes in expectation of life during the past half century. 

We shall return later on to those factors in the death rate which 
have shown an increase. It suffices for the present to note 
that the major decreases have occurred in the five diseases listed; 
and how these decreases have been accomplished, we can say with 
considerable definiteness. Typhoid fever has been controlled 
chiefly by the purification of water supplies, the pasteurization of 
milk, and the use of vaccine; diphtheria, by the use of antitoxin, 
and more recently by toxin-antitoxin immunization; scarlet fever 
by isolation and very recently by serum treatment; diarrhea, by 
pasteurization of milk and breast feeding of infants. In the case 
of tuberculosis, the causal relationships are less well established. 
Discussion of the reasons for the decreasing death rate from this dis 
ease offer a happy hunting ground for the mystics who from time 
to time seek to substitute vague cosmic tendencies for more ob 
viously apparent causes* The statement that the fall in the tuber 
culosis rate has been a continuous process irrespective of public 
health activities is, however, simply untrue. The sharp and sudden 
decrease began about 1890 when the anti-tuberculosis campaign be 
gan and not before; it has taken place in countries where there 
has been an organized anti-tuberculosis campaign and not in other 
countries. Some part of the decrease is without doubt due to 
improved economic status since everything which affects physical 
well-being affects this disease. There was, however, improvement 
in economic status before 1890 but it was accompanied by no such 
spectacular results as have since accrued from a combination of 
improved economic status and organized public health work. If 
the same rate of decrease which has occurred since 1890 had existed 
prior to that date we must assume that all the deaths which oc 
curred from all causes in 1840 were due to this disease. 

Furthermore, for the purpose of our present argument, it is of 
no moment whether tuberculosis has been conquered by sanatoria 
and dispensaries and public health education or by higher stand 
ards of living. It is the whole impact of modern science upon 

i 9 o HEALTH 

human life with which we are concerned; and the outstanding 
material prosperity of the common man is the fruit of science as 
truly as is the improvement in the special field of public health. 

We may summarize then by saying that during the past half 
century a phenomenal thing has happened a fundamental and 
startling revolution in the conditions of human life. Over one 
third of the total burden of disease and early death which weighed 
upon the human race fifty years ago has been lifted from its 
shoulders; and this is the result of modern science, chiefly of med 
ical science, applied directly to the problem of public health, and 
in part of chemical and physical and mechanical and industrial 
science which have operated indirectly by raising the general 
standard of living throughout the civilized world* 


IT might seem superfluous to argue as to the values to mankind 
of the results above. If we could say to a given individual on his 
deathbed, "You can have twelve years more of life/ the boon 
would generally be accepted with satisfaction and that is ex 
actly what the advance of public health science has said to the 
average man of today. Yet there are those who question the social 
value of a reduced death rate on two different grounds with suffi 
cient persistence to warrant a consideration of their arguments. 

The first of these criticisms is based on the assumption that a 
total increase in human population is in itself a menace, tending 
to lower standards of living and to aggravate international rival 
ries. It is to this view that the late Professor W. T. Sedgwick 
referred in his suggestive address on "The Reappearance of the 
Ghost of Malthus." The fear, in theory, perhaps seems a just one 
for there would be little gain in replacing pestilence by its grim 
sisters, war and famine. Fortunately for mankind, however, the 
theory does not actually work out in that way. 

We may take the statistics of New Haven once more as an ex 
ample although the same general facts would appear from an 
analysis of vita! statistics from any other community in the civil 
ized world. We have seen that the death rate from all causes de- 


creased from 1820 per 100,000 in 1377-1881 to 1250 per ioo,~ 
ooo in 19221926; but during the same period, the birth rate 
decreased from 3120 per 100,000 to 2150. In other words, the 
net excess of births fell from 1300 to 900 per 100,000. 

This is, in greater or less degree, a world-wide phenomenon; and 
it is a phenomenon of great significance. Malthus was right in 
diagnosing an unrestricted increase in population as a menace to 
the human race; but his remedies of famine, plague, and war were 
crude and primitive ones. Nature (if we may use a good old 
abstract term which has its usefulness) has a better medicine and 
uses it. It does not seem entirely certain to the writer that the 
phenomena observed are wholly due to voluntary birth control for 
there may also be subtler physiological forces at work. The fact, 
however, is clear that all over the civilized world the birth rate is 
falling at a rate so rapid that the decreasing death rate barely, or 
scarcely, keeps pace with it. 

The diminishing death rate is then clear gain from a purely 
quantitative standpoint. If the birth rate would have decreased 
in any event, the fall in mortality has checked the human race 
on the road to extinction* If the falling birth rate is a concomitant 
of the falling death rate the combination remains still an unmixed 
good; for there is no social profit in the bearing of children doomed 
to die before they reach maturity. 

A second school of skeptics challenges the values of the modem 
public health campaign on qualitative rather than quantitative 
grounds. They claim that sanitary science interferes with natural 
selection and preserves the unfit; they paint for us a doleful pic 
ture of a world full of degenerate cripples as the contribution of 
medical science. 

This fallacious line of argument depends on two fundamental 
errors errors which have dogged the steps of naive Darwinians 
in many another field. The first of these is an exaggerated view 
of the scope of selection; and the second is the assumption that 
"fitness" is a single simple factor and not (as Darwin himself well 
understood) a collective noun. In the first place the toll taken of 
mankind by epidemic disease was in large measure not selective at 
all. The babies who died of infant diarrhea were condemned, not 


by inherent weakness but by the pure chance that they were fed on 
decayed milk. The people of a town which suffered from a 
devastating epidemic of typhoid fever or cholera were no feebler 
than those of a town which escaped. They were merely unfortu 
nate in the character of their public water supply. 

To say so much, however, is after all only to say that natural se 
lection is a wasteful process. A second point, which is more im 
portant, concerns the specificity of "fitness. 5 * Let us grant that if 
a group of infants be fed with the same bad milk, a group of 
adults with the same polluted water, some will perish, and some 
will survive as a result of differences in innate powers df resistance. 
It does not at all follow that the survivors will be fitter than the 
victims in any other respect whatever mentally, morally, or phys 
ically. In many instances there is no reason to think that their 
inherent vigor in regard to any other disease will be greater than 
that of those who had perished, for resistance is in a large 
measure a definite and specific condition due to the structural 
character of a given tissue or to the presence in the blood of a 
specific chemical compound. In certain other cases it is true 
that survival may depend on the strength of some vital organ 
such as the heart; but even here it can scarcely be doubted that 
death at fifty from organic heart disease represents a clear gain 
as compared with death at twenty from typhoid fever. 

Furthermore, there is another side to this problem which is of 
far greater practical importance. A death from diarrhea or 
diphtheria, from scarlet fever or tuberculosis, represents ten or 
twenty other cases which did not terminate fatally. These ten 
or twenty survivors, whatever their inherent vigor, have suffered 
a severe strain upon their vital forces. They have been wounded 
if not killed; and it very frequently happens that their wounds 
never wholly heal. It is among such survivors as these that we 
find weak hearts and kidneys, with increased susceptibility to dis 
orders of all sorts. It is these lamed individuals, far more than 
the unselected, who constitute a source of true racial weakness. 
And the proportion of these crippled beings in the population is 
decreased in direct measure with the decreasing death rate from 
preventable disease; for it is prevention of infection, not cure of 


acquired disease, that has played the major part in the sankary 
progress of the past half century. 

We may conclude from the evidence available that the con 
quest of communicable disease has, through its interference with 
natural selection, tended in negligible degree to increase the pro 
portion of weaklings in the population since the action of epidemic 
disease is mainly non-selective and since such selective action ias it 
does exert is chiefly specific and unrelated to general health- On 
the other hand it has exerted a very real tendency to increase the 
vigor of the race by eliminating the widespread crippling which 
obtains among those who have survived an attack of such diseases. 
There is a net gain in quality as well as in quantity. 

It is this intimate connection between mortality and dj^abil^ty 
which is indeed the heart of the whole problem. The two are 
inseparable and whatever affects one also affects the other. The 
fact that infants are rationally fed does not merely protect them 
from intestinal disorders. It also makes them bigger and stronger. 
We can not by taking thought add a cubit to our own stature; 
but we can, and we have, added inches to the stature of our off 
spring, as statistics show. It would be a poor triumph to prolong 
the average length of life by twelve years if it meant merely the 
accumulation of a horde of doddering cripples. But it ddfes not 
mean this. It is, I believe, impossible to prolong the average 
length of life by ten years without tending at the same time to 
make the man of seventy equivalent in vigor to the man 9JE .sixty 
of an earlier period. The individual who dies from a given cause 
is but one member of a group suffering from crippling wounds due 
to tjie same factor. If we remove the cause we save that wkole 
group from their disabilities. 

The object of the modern public campaign is, then, health, not 
merely survival. Its ideal is set forth in that picture dr^yn by 
William James in his glorious phrase, "Simply to live, and breathe 
should be a delight." Nor is physical life and physical soundness 
to be thought of by the man of this modern scientific age as sepa 
rable from the life and the soundness of the mind and the spirit. 
We are recapturing the Greek ideal of a whole man. We know 
that a Darwin or a Stevenson may accomplish wonders under 


hwrfy physical handicaps; but we look to the sound mind in the 
sound body as our goal. 


IF public health, as a modern scientific social movement, has yielded 
certain results and if those results seem inherently valuable, the 
aext question which concerns us is the cost involved. As the 
late Dr. Hermann M. Biggs taught us, "Public health is purchasable. 
Within natural limitations a community can determine its own 
death rate;" but is the investment a good one? Even if the fruits 
are sweet, are we paying too much for them? Do they involve the 
sacrifice of other goods, material or spiritual, in unreasonable 
proportion to the gains which are won? 

From a purely material standpoint the question is easily answered 
ia dbe negative* The cost of a standard community health pro 
gramme as it is understood at the present day is between two 
and three dollars per person per year. This includes ordinary 
health department service, complete public health nursing service, 
clinic services for tuberculosis and venereal disease, and prenatal 
and infant and school hygiene. Even if we assume that this sum 
may be doubled in the future to permit of certain possible expan 
sions to be discussed in a succeeding paragraph we have only the 
equivalent of one day s wages for the average American working 
man.. Double this again, to allow for such complete preventive 
medical supervision as is now given to the student in our leading 
colleges or to the worker in certain favored industries, and we 
tare still only ten dollars per person per year as compared with 
at least four times that sum which would be a highly conservative 
estimate of the burden of largely preventable illness at the present 
day, as measured in the loss of one week s working time per person 
eadh year plus the cost of physicians and nurses and hospitals and 
medicines. Financially, preventive medicine is a sound investment. 

The question whether public health involves sacrifices of a non- 
material nature is also worthy of consideration. Indeed the most 
important problem to be dealt with in this volume is here con- 


cerned. It Is quite certain that in our scientific age material 
prosperity has been accompanied, in some respects at least, by 
losses of spiritual values. We must ask ourselves seriously whether 
the connection is an accidental one or whether it represents a 
temporary phase of adjustment to a new condition or whether it 
is a price which we must agree to pay for the results attained. 

The first criticism which is commonly leveled at the twentieth 
century by those who yearn for the thirteenth is that it tends to 
materialism, and the second is that it involves the crushing of the 
potentialities of the individual beneath the load of a deadly uni 
formity. They are serious charges and if they were justified we 
might well have reason to pause and consider* In the field f 
public health they are not justified. 

First, as to materialism. To those who are in the least familiar 
with the tendencies of preventive medicine it must be obvious that 
materialism is not one of its fruits. It is the sick man who is ob 
sessed by his body, not the well man. Health sets us free lor 
higher things; and it is health, positive health, not negative ffee- 
dom from disease, which is the watchword of this movement. The 
driver of a car who has his carburetor cleaned and his engine over 
hauled is not dominated by hypochondriac fears but by the desbe 
to glory in a perfect smooth-running machine. He is far more 
likely to be able to enjoy the beauties of the countryside than his 
fellow driver who stalls by the roadside. His car in the long raa 
takes far less of his time and attention than does the sickly macfaiBe 
driven by the more careless. 

Nor does the modern public health movement involve subjection 
to a soul-destroying type of social control; quite the contrary. 
From the sacred books of Persia onwards the life of primitive people 
has been shadowed by taboos of a mixed medical and religious 
origin. Irksome quarantines and brutal treatment of the leper 
and the mental case darkened the life of the Middle Ages. The 
modern public health movement itself began in large measure as 
an exercise of police power. Regulations enforced by the strong 
arm of the law and dealing with the sanitation of the physical 
environment dominated this movement from its inception in 1 840 

i 9 6 HEALTH 

almost to the end of the last century. The isolation of com 
municable disease and the protection of the public against small 
pox by vaccination were accomplished by compulsion. 

Today, however, all this is changing. The problems of 
modem public health are subtler and more difficult of accomplish 
ment; and we recognize that they can be attained only by enlist 
ing the voluntary and intelligent co-operation of the individual. 
Education replaces compulsion. The public health nurse supplants 
the sanitary policeman; and with the most fortunate results. The 
marvelous success obtained by immunization against diphtheria 
Witfc toxin-antitoxin has been achieved without a single law inter 
fering with personal liberty. When one case of smallpox occurred 
in. die city of New Haven last spring (with three others in sur- 
rowiding towns) 102,000 persons were vaccinated within a week 
ia a city of 185,000 population, with no legal compulsion what 

I think I voice the sentiments of all progressive health officers 
when I say that we would agree to the removal from the statute- 
books of every health law whatsoever of a mandatory nature 
provided that we be given in exchange adequate funds for a full 
health programme of education and of services along clinic and 
nursing lines* 

The modern public health movement is not, then, based on 
autocratic dictatorship but on democratic education of a free 
aad intelligent people by the force of expert leadership. 


THE scientific age is still in its infancy; and public health is no 
exception to the general rule. It will be well to consider briefly 
some of its potentialities for the future. 

The modern public health movement began in England in 1 842 
with the report of Edwin Chadwick on the Sanitary Condition of 
the Laboring Population of Great Britain. It was at first essen 
tially a movement for environmental sanitation in the strictest 
sense. It was based on more or less crude and incomplete theories 


of disease, for Pasteur s epoch-making researches were still in the 
future. Yet there was enough truth in Chadwick s conceptions 
of the relation between filth and disease to make them work 
which is all we can demand of any scientific theory. As water sup 
plies were improved and age-long accumulations of filth were 
cleared away, the major plagues and pestilences of earlier days, 
cholera, typhus, gradually disappeared. 

In the eighties, following on the fundamental discoveries of 
Pasteur, came the golden age of bacteriology. The germs of dis 
ease were discovered and we learned how to detect cases and car 
riers and to replace blind "gunshot quarantine * by intelligent 
selective isolation of individuals. The principles of vaccine 
prophylaxis and serum therapy were discovered and diphtheria, 
typhoid, meningitis and, most recently, scarlet fever were added 
to the list of maladies which need no longer take their toll of the 
children of mankind. Of the entire group of acute communicable 
infections only pneumonia and influenza now remain as still be 
yond the scope of effective control. Our basic knowledge in re 
gard to these diseases is still incomplete; but that their turn %ifl 
come in the future we can scarcely doubt. 

At the beginning of the present century a third line of attack 
was initiated which today dominates the public health campaign 
the development of an organized programme of popular echjca- 
tion in the principles of personal hygiene. By 1900, environ 
mental sanitation and the bacteriological control of the acute con 
tact-borne infections had already begun to bear fruit; and with 
the impending disappearance of typhoid fever, scarlet fever, and 
diphtheria, the health administrator began to look for new worlds 
to conquer. Tuberculosis was the outstanding health problem of 
that day; and this disease could not be attacked along the lines of 
sanitation or of serum therapy but only by education in personal 
hygiene. With the organization of the National Tuberculosis 
Association in 1904, there was launched the first of the great 
modern movements for health education and for mobilizing the 
whole public in a volunteer community warfare against 4i$ea$e. 
The movement succeeded and was quickly followed by a similar 


programme for the control of infant mortality; and by others 
designed to deal with venereal disease, with mental disease, with 
heart disease, and with cancer. 

It is this type of programme which dominates the public health 
movement of the present day: It involves two essential elements 
education of the public and the development of a new relation 
ship between the physician and his patient* Each of these 
problems requires novel social machinery of first-rate significance. 

In the first place it must be noted that the type of education 
required involves something more than mass propaganda. Bul 
letins, newspaper articles, cinemas, radio talks, exhibits help to 
prepare the soil but the seed must be planted in the home itself. 
c The Kingdom of God is within you" and the kingdom of health 
m the last analysis is an individual matter. It is not merely vague 
generalities about food, fresh air, exercise, and the rest which are 
needed. They must be applied to John and to Susan, with John s 
and Susan s specific potentialities and limitations. We needed an 
individual teacher to carry the message to Garcia in the individual 
household. For this purpose we turned to the visiting nurse and 
she was transformed into the public health nurse, not merely a 
minister of healing but a messenger of health, carrying the gospel 
of hygiene to the worker in the factory and to the mother in the 
tenement. The nurse, as teacher, is the central figure in the 
public health movement of the present day. 

If, however, the nurse was to teach personal hygiene as applied 
to the individual something else was needed. She must know just 
what health teaching the individual required, and such knowledge 
could only be based on a medical diagnosis. From this situation 
was born the conception of a new relationship between the medical 
profession and the public. In the past the physician was a repair 
ma& ? called in only when suffering became so acute as to call for 
relief i and in such circumstances only relief and not cure or pre 
vention can generally be anticipated. The true use of medical 
science as a preventive of disease has only dawned upon us during 
the past quarter of a century. 

The new conception has worked itself out empirically in response 
to specific demands. Tuberculosis clinics were organized for the 


diagnosis of this disease in its curable stage. Medical examination 
of school children was introduced. Infant welfare stations unefe 
developed, not to care for sick babies but to keep well babies m 
good health. Prenatal clinics followed* Here and there heart 
clinics were established, and cancer clinics. The campaign for an 
nual health examinations was launched. We glimpse today a far- 
reaching and comprehensive change in the whole organization of 
the medical profession and in the basis of payment for medical serv 
ice as possibly necessary if really preventive medical service is to be 
made available for all the people, rich and poor and of median eco 
nomic status, in city and in country, and at a cost and on terms which 
the people can be persuaded individually or collectively to pay. 

The problems involved are by no means simple ones. They 
should be solved without sacrifice of the splendid traditions cf 
individualistic medicine and they can be solved wisely only with 
the active co-operation of the medical profession itself. That 
they must somehow be solved is* however, clear. The old 
artificial line between prevention as a function of the state and 
cure as that of the private physician can no longer be maintained. 
Disease is a process. The physician cures (so far as possible) the 
damage already done and prevents that damage from going 
further. He, and not the engineer or the bacteriologist, most 
be the central figure in the public health programme of the future. 
He must be given whatever new form of social organization can 
be devised which will make his work most effective. 

The importance of this new type of public health social in its 
conception, individual in its application is made clear by a con 
sideration of the actual nature of the objective of the campaign 
of today. Fifty years ago the chief causes of death were tuber 
culosis, diphtheria, typhoid fever, and diarrhea. All of these ex 
cept tuberculosis have practically disappeared and even tuber 
culosis has fallen to fifth or sixth place among the items in the 
death roll. Today we are dying of heart disease and apoplexy and 
nephritis and cancer and pneumonia; and it is toward the control 
of these conditions that our programme must be directed. 

The first four of these causes of death have shown not only a 
relative but an absolute increase during the past half century in 


the United States. This is in part of course due to the fact that 
they are chiefly old-age diseases and if people do not die of diph 
theria and tuberculosis in youth they are likely to die of heart dis 
ease or cancer in later life. Even at a given age, however, cancer 
mortality has progressively risen, whether as a result of some real 
increase in prevalence or, more probably, as a result of better 
diagnosis. The same thing happened with heart disease and its 
related conditions, apoplexy and nephritis, for the first part of the 
period under consideration; but it is encouraging and significant 
to note that for the last two decades the mortality from this group 
of conditions has begun to decrease at all ages under seventy. 

It is unnecessary here to enter into an analysis of the complex 
factors of age and race which have affected the earlier and the 
later decrease. It will suffice to point out that there is real en- 
cc*nragement in the figures as they stand. "The rising tide of 
heart disease" has been checked and is on the ebb again. Yet 
heart disease, apoplexy, nephritis, and cancer remain the outstand 
ing causes of death. They can be controlled only by the appli 
cation of organized preventive medicine, by early diagnosis and 
prompt medical or surgical or hygienic treatment. They challenge 
us to develop machinery for this purpose as the major task of 
public health in the immediate future. 

Finally, behind all this public health programme of the past 
and the present, there opens up a new field of almost unlisted 
potentiality. This is the field of mental hygiene. 

Mental diseases and defects do not play a large part in the death 
rate, in comparison with such conditions as those which have been 
discussed above. If, on the other hand, we consider the problem 
of disability and the burden placed upon society by such disability, 
it is probable that disorders of the central nervous system out 
weigh in significance disorders and disabilities of all other organs 
of the body taken together. 

"We know that the provision of institutional facilities for the 
care of mental disease and defect, even today, is approximately 
equal to the total of hospital beds required for all other diseases; 
and we know that such facilities are grossly inadequate to meet 
existing needs. Dr. Frankwood "Williams tells us that in the schools 


of the United States today there are one million children who are 
looking forward to becoming business men or housewives or clerks 
or industrial workers but who will end their days as inmates of 
institutions for mental disease if present ratios hold. It is the 
testimony of nurses and social workers that, in the average family 
throughout the land, the burden due to mental disease and defect 
is fully equal in magnitude to that imposed by the total burden 
resulting from all other types of disease and disability. 

Here, then, is a new field of social activity, equivalent in its 
scope to the whole field of public health as we have known it in 
the past. We must build up in the case of mental disease the 
same sort of machinery used with such success in connection with 
infant hygiene and tuberculosis. We must educate the public 
to understand that mental disease, like tuberculosis, is a disability 
not a disgrace; and that, again like tuberculosis, it is often curable 
and preventable. "Insane asylums" must be fully transformed 
into hospitals for mental disease. They must be supplemented by 
psychopathic wards in general hospitals to furnish "first aid to the 
mentally injured." The viewpoints of the psychiatrist must 
dominate more fully the procedure of our penal institutions 
perhaps even to the point visualized by Governor Smith of New 
York in his suggestion that judges and juries should merely pass 
on the physical facts of a crime, leaving diagnosis and treatment 
to a commission of experts. 

"We must build up a chain of mental hygiene clinics where the 
first symptom of mental disease can be detected and alleviated and 
where mental defect can be determined and provision made, either 
for the safeguarding of the defective in the normal life which a 
high-grade defective can often lead, or for institutional segregation, 
in the extreme case whose hereditary defects it is essential to 
eliminate from the stream of human inheritance. 

Nor must we limit our consideration solely to the more obvious 
deviations from mental normality. The cases of mental disease 
and defect so pronounced as to require, or to threaten to require^ 
institutional care are serious enough. Yet I believe, if we could 
really measure all the effects involved, that the burden laid upon 
society by such acute conditions is less than that created by the 


innumerable minor mental maladjustments which hamper all of 
us in the conduct of our daily lives. The thousand petty fears 
and jealousies and prejudices and inhibitions which keep us hour 
by hour from perfect internal harmony and perfect adaptation to 
the persons and the conditions which surround us here is the 
supreme problem of mental hygiene. 

It is in mental hygiene thus widely interpreted that the basis 
of a new industrial order must be found. There are few disputes 
between capital and labor which could survive a discussion about 
the same table by employers and employees both free from in 
feriority complexes and defense reactions. In international affairs 
the same thing holds true. We have overstressed economics and 
ignored psychology as the cause of class struggles and of wars be 
tween nations. It is a supreme value of the League of Nations that 
it constitutes a great experiment in mental hygiene. Geneva is 
no super-state; it is an atmosphere in which straight and honest 
thinking about international relationships by men who stand face 
to face with each other in the public eye is easier than such think 
ing has ever been before. 

I know that these things of which I write are still in the future. 
I know that psychiatry is still a young science that its really 
competent votaries are few that the quack and the charlatan are 
abroad in the land. I know that extreme Behaviorism and ex 
travagant Freudianism may do more harm than good. Yet I know, 
too, that there is a technique involved which promises to give 
man, who has so largely conquered the material universe, an ulti 
mate mastery over his own mind and spirit. 

The first fruits of a new science are apt to be disquieting. When 
we discover a new force we misuse it, as a child makes a noise with 
a drum or breaks windows with a bow and arrow. I am inclined 
to interpret many of the disturbing influences of our present 
civilization as similar results of a novel instrument with which 
mankind is half unconsciously and rashly toying. It is significant 
that the dominant figures in American life today are the adver 
tisers, that the great fortunes of the moment, political and indus 
trial, are built on exploitation of mass psychology rather than on 


service. Razor-blade and chewing-gum kings form a less inspiring 
aristocracy than the railroad builders and steel men of fifty years 
ago. Our visitors from the East are quite right in considering the 
native susceptibility of America to mass suggestion a menace to 
America and to the world. All these things are manifestations of 
unconscious attempts to apply half -perceived principles of mental 
hygiene for selfish and individual ends. Yet I am confident that 
this is a transitory stage. Science is always born of magic, as 
Lynn Thorndike has shown us. Astronomy began as astrology, 
chemistry as alchemy. We are in the magic stage of control of 
the human mind; but this stage will surely pass. 

As we learn more of the new powers which a knowledge of the 
laws of mind will yield it seems possible that we shall even begin 
to bridge that gap which yawns between the mind and the spirit. 
There have always been the two types of men, those in whom 
reason was dominant and those who were stirred chiefly by emotion,; 
which is indeed the "moving" force. Science and the machine 
have always appealed to the rational man and repelled the artist. 
May we not hope, as science goes more deeply into the foundations 
of human motive, that it may itself learn to be psychological and 
may learn how to interpret logic to the emotions that we may 
gain a common ground for progress toward a- society which shall 
include beauty as well as order in its essential makeup? 

may perhaps contribute to such an ultimate understanding 
by granting as scientists that the life of the spirit is after all 
the ultimate goal at which we all must aim. If prolonged life 
and increased vitality were bought at the cost of shorter vision 
and decreased joy in living they would be too costly. It behooves 
us, who believe in the modern world, to make our statement of 
faith in its hidden and fundamental values for it is such values 
alone which are of permanent significance. Chardonne makes the 
hero of his latest novel say, "Toute civilization a para decrepitude 
et folie a ses contemporains. Les patriotes reprochaient a Per 
icles de dilapider le tresor de guerre pour batir des temples . . . 


J espere que nous construisons des chases que nous ne voyons pas." 
First of all, then, the man of science is a man of faith. He 
need not, and does not, entertain the conception that the universe 
is a simple physical machine whose attributes can be described in 
the largely obsolete terms of mass and motion. But he does be 
lieve in a universe of order and causation, a universe which we 
can trust, insofar as we understand the language in which it speaks. 
He is not, he cannot, be blind to the conflict between certain laws 
of this universe and others (for instance the law that men should 
desire life and the law that men must die) ; yet on the whole he 
believes that the universe as it stands is worth living and dying for. 
He thinks that in the progress up from the slime in the rock pools 
to the mind of Shakespeare and of Darwin there is ground for a 
reasonable hope. He finds the twentieth century on the whole 
finer in its possibilities than the tenth or the thirteenth. He holds 
the game worth the candle. 

Perhaps this attitude of mind is determined by purely physiolog 
ical conditions in the individual. Like Chu-Yin in "Marco Polo," 
when the Khan asks if his prayer is true and wise, we can only 
answer, "It is thy truth. It is thy wisdom. * Perhaps the once- 
born is a man with a constant excess of some vital hormone, the 
twice-born a man with an intermittent supply, the confirmed 
doubter a man with a permanent deficiency. Perhaps hope and 
courage will some day be controllable by chemical or psychiatric 
means. Hitherto, in any case, there have always been religious men 
who felt that life on the whole had a meaning and a value and 
irreligious men who did not. In this sense applied science is a 
religion; for it involves this primary act of faith. 

In more concrete terms our attitude toward life is illuminated 
by the conviction that man through science can arrive at power. 
In other days one could take the world as he found it or he could 
turn from this world to fix his gaze on a life to come. Today 
we have a third choice. We believe that we can take this uni 
verse about us in our hands and within limits make it safer and freer 
and happier. There are limits (though just where they lie no one 
can yet say). The game has its rules. But our part in it is a 
dynamic one; and from age to age it seems that mankind is win- 


ning. We refuse to be Babbitts on the one hand or Menckens on 
the other. "We neither submit to the universe nor defy it, We 
purpose by comprehension and courage to remould it nearer to the 
heart s desire. 

There is a third element no less important, I believe, than faith 
and hope in the creed of science; and this third element is charity. 
We do not improve on the formulas of the old religions but merely 
reinterpret them. Charity, love, liberalism, all mean the same 
thing. It is as the Scriptures tell us the greatest of the three and 
the most difficult of attainment. It is just because of the lack of 
this element that our modern scientific civilization (like all earlier 
ones) is most open to criticism. 

It is impossible not to recognize that mass-production wars 
against beauty, that concentration on material success threatens 
idealism, that autocracy crushes out personality. Immediate effi 
ciency may be purchased at too high a price, by Lenin in Moscow, 
by Mussolini in Rome, by a democracy instinct with Calvinistic 
materialism in the United States. This is our danger and it is a 
real one. 

Yet it is no new danger. Nor is it, I believe, a danger created 
by the scientific spirit. It is, on the contrary, a limitation im 
posed on this, as on every previous civilization, by the indolence 
and impatience of man, aggravated by the new powers with which 
he finds himself endowed. Since our ancestors lived in the caves 
of the Dordogne, it has been easier for men to imitate than to 
create, to eat than to think, to follow than to lead* This vast 
inertia is the stuff we work in. From It, civilization emerges like 
a Rodin head, still half imprisoned in dead marble. 

Science did not forge these chains. Rather it is the Perseus 
which shall at last unloose them. Science, real science, knows 
full well the significance of the individual, the essential value of 
freedom. Is not every scientific discovery a revolution, made by 
an individual man, through the study of individual facts? Is 
not an adventurous freedom the very condition of scientific prog 

The scientific investigator is indeed the modern protagonist of 
the Bang of Ithaca who, in his old age cries out that 


AH experience is an arch wherethro* 

Gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades 

Forever and forever when I move; 

and tells how his "grey spirit" is 

yearning in desire 

To follow knowledge like a sinking star, 
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought. 
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks; 
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep 
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends, 
*Tis not too late to seek a newer world. 
Push off, and sitting well in order smite 
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds 
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths 
Of all the western stars, until I die. 

The old enemy is subtle. The half understood truths of science, 
like the half understood truths of religion, are used to replace the 
shackles upon mankind. But true science and true religion, true 
art and true philosophy are converging roads of attack upon a 
common citadel of truth. Dogmatism is a barrier along every road 
and between each of these roads and the others. 

Yet the way opens always. It seems to some of us as though 
the barriers were less high and forbidding than was once the case. 
Wnitehead s philosophy, which teaches us, so far as laymen can 
grasp its meaning, that reality consists, not in matter or in 
energy, but in relationship, is a reconciling gospel. It embodies 
in the broadest form the dynamic science of today as Descartes 
generalized the mechanistic science of his century. It permits 
us to glimpse through the underbrush even the converging 
paths of art and of religion. As scientists we know that the 
properties of salt will always emerge when sodium and chlorine 
combine under the right conditions. Yet we also know that those 
properties are new properties which did not exist in either constitu 
ent. Something Las been created; and in this conception lies the 
germ of a philosophy which can include the highest things ,we 


There is in truth no longer any inherent antagonism between 
science and religion, between science and philosophy, between 
science and beauty. There is antagonism, deep and fundamental, 
between all of these pathways to reality and the dark and tangled 
forest of ignorance and doubt, of confusion and ugliness by which 
they are surrounded, the "old chaos" of the poet. That full 
mastery has not been secured need not trouble us. That as we 
attack ever greater problems the difficulties increase, need not 
dishearten. A wise old bishop when taunted with the "failure" 
of Christianity, replied, "Christianity has not failed. It has never 
been tried." We may say the same of science* 


MANY believe that the family is today in a perilous posi 
tion. The ever-increasing approach to social and in 
dustrial equality of the sexes, the steady rise and exten 
sion of the divorce movement, the changed conceptions of the 
morality of sexual relationships, and the spread of contraception 
these new influences, it is supposed, must destroy marriage and un 
dermine the family as it has hitherto been known in our Western 

It has to be admitted that all these influences are real, probably 
permanent, and that they have never been found at work before 
in combination, seldom even separately. Not one of them, how 
ever, when examined with care, bears within it any necessary 
seeds of destruction. On the contrary, they may purify and 
fortify, rather than weaken, the institution of the family; enable 
it to work more vigorously and effectively rather than impair its 
functions as what has been termed "the unit of civilization." It 
is true that the younger women of today are often dissatisfied with 
marriage, but that attitude is a belated recognition that they are 
entitled to satisfaction, and we may accept it as wholesome. The 
greater economic independence of women assists them in the task 
of sexual selection, and is found to be conducive to marriage 
though it is also favorable to divorce when marriage is disrupted. 1 



The greater f acility of divorce aids the formation of the most satis 
factory unions. A greater freedom between the sexes before 
marriage, even if it has sometimes led to license, is not only itself 
beneficial but the proper method of preparing for a more intimate 
permanent union. And the exercise of contraceptive control is 
the indispensable method of selecting the best possibilities of off 
spring and of excluding from the world those who ought never to 
be born. As a matter of fact, marriage, so far from dying out, 
tends in various countries of the West to increase in frequency; 
thus in England, in 1921, out of every 1000 women over fifteen 
years of age 520 were married, though ten years earlier (1911) 
only 506 were married. While as regards the production of chil 
dren through the agency of the family, the danger that faces 
"Western civilization today is not of a deficient production but of 
an enormous excess. So that, whatever changes of form it may 
undergo, we clearly have to reckon with the persistence of the 
family, whether that is a prospect which causes our hearts to sink 
or whether it fills us with satisfaction. 

"We might reach the same conclusion even without any close 
examination of the sociological data of today. It is enough to 
survey the fundamental biological facts on which all human or 
other societies must rest, or to glance at the history of marriage and 
the family in mankind from the earliest period at which our knowl 
edge begins. This has been done in recent years by two scholars, 
Westermarck and Briffault. They differ on important points in 
the early history of marriage. Westermarck regards the family 
as having proceeded uniformly, though with endless minor varia 
tions, from the anthropoid ancestors of man on to civilization, in 
a predominantly monogamic (though occasionally polygamic) 
form, in which the father always had a recognized and important 
place. Briffault emphasizes the significance of a stage in human 
history, of which we but vaguely discern the traces, where the 
father s place was small and subordinate, and the family was or 
ganized on a mainly maternal basis, so that when, in the progress 
towards civilization, the matriarchal system gave way to the 
patriarchal system, with new economic conceptions and the de 
velopment of the idea of personal property, an almost revolution- 


ary change took place in human history. These differences of 
opinion are of interest, though they may be harmonized if we 
suppose that each writer has passed over too lightly some aspects 
of the subject that the other has unduly emphasized. Wester- 
marck perhaps unduly emphasizes the frequency with which the 
husband or the wife has only one conjugal partner, and Briflfault 
unduly emphasizes the frequency with which husband or wife 
has more than one conjugal partner. From the point of view of 
the family it makes little difference, save that in the one condition 
the father, in the other the mother, becomes the predominant 
parent. But all that it concerns us here to observe is that even if 
we adopt the view that the family was primitively a mainly matri 
archal institution we are still constrained to admit that, under what 
ever changes of form, it has always persisted, so that its existence 
may even be said to be woven into the texture of the species. 

THERE is indeed one important aspect in which our Western civ 
ilization is changing the relationship of the family to society, 
Hitherto the question of the family has been mainly, if not even 
altogether, the question of marriage. To a large extent it must 
continue to be so. But it is a distinguishing characteristic of our 
Western civilization, in all the countries it has touched, that this is 
no longer the case in fact. In the history of mankind in general 
marriage has meant a family, and when no children appeared the 
marriage has often been dissolved, sometimes almost automatically. 
With us, not only is the absence of children considered no adequate 
ground for the dissolution of the marriage, but the marriage may 
at the outset be planned to avoid procreation, whether temporarily 
or permanently. That is becoming a characteristic of our mar 
riage system, and it is of immense significance in relation to the 
family. Not that it can affect the existence of the family, since 
that rests on a biological foundation which cannot be destroyed. 
But it furnishes an altogether new control over the forms the 
family may assume, and it renders the family adjustable, in a 
way that has never before been possible, to the developing direc 
tion of our general social organization. 


This is notably conspicuous in relation to the changing economic 
position of women. In the phase of civilization out of which we 
are growing, a phase which persisted unimpaired until the In 
dustrial Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century, the 
economic position of woman was as wife and mother at the head of 
the home. That was no small position to occupy, and it required 
most diverse gifts, since the home was a centre of industrial activ 
ity for a large part of its own needs. But woman today occupies 
a totally different position. She has lost her industrial activities 
in the home, but has regained them in the wider world, and added 
to them the freedom to adopt, if she so chooses, most of the 
activities formerly reserved to men. At the same time she tends 
more and more to accept, at all events as an ideal, the principle 
of complete economic independence, even in the exercise of her 
functions as wife and mother, since she no longer considers that 
as wife and mother she becomes the servant of a man and en 
titled to wages as such, but holds that she is gratifying her own 
desires. That principle, however, though it may be reasonable, 
leads to a grave conflict if pushed to its logical extreme in prac 
tice. If a woman, when she becomes a wife, is to follow the exam 
ple of the woman of the old world and spend her time and 
strength in bearing perhaps a dozen children, of whom not half 
may survive, she cannot possibly be economically dependent on 
her own exertions. She must remain unmarried or renounce her 
independence in becoming wife and mother. The difficulty is al 
ways real, but it has now become, in some measure at all events, 
adjustable. It has become clear, that is to say, that the number 
of children and the times when they are to be borne may be 
arranged according to the circumstances in which the two parents 
are situated, and it is also seen to be reasonable that, since the 
mother must necessarily devote a larger share of time and care to 
the child, the father may be called upon to take a larger finan 
cial share, without the economic equality of the two parents being 
thereby impaired- 


THE desirability of controlling the appearance of children in the 


family brings us to the question of contraception. That is a ques 
tion around which in the immediate past much controversy raged, 
It cannot even yet be said that it has ceased to rage. And since 
in some countries of the West there are yet legal disabilities to be 
removed in order to bring the law into harmony with custom 
and opinion, propaganda is artificially stimulated. There is, how 
ever, no longer the shadow of doubt that both the principle and 
the practice of birth control are now firmly established in all 
civilized lands, and gradually becoming accepted by every class of 
the community, so that before long the only matter of dispute 
will be concerning the best method by which it can be carried out. 
It is estimated that at the present rate birth control will become 
practically universal in our civilization within from twenty-five 
to fifty years, and it is probable that, with better conditions of 
sexual initiation and the cultivation of self-control, mechanical 
methods of contraception will become less necessary. 2 

There are three main lines along whick this development has 
proceeded* In the first place there has been the insistence of 
women that they will no longer be mere breeding machines, de 
stroying alike themselves and their excessive progeny. In the 
second place the economic conditions of life for all social classes 
in the modern world tend to render caution and foresight neces 
sary in family life, and there are now but few parents who can 
afford to disregard so completely these conditions, and the re 
sponsibilities of bringing up children in the world of today, as 
to have an unlimited family. In the third place scientific de 
mographers and statisticians are now, with ever greater decision, 
pointing out that the enormous increase in the earth s population, 
which up to about a century ago was practically stationary, can 
not be much longer continued, since even another century may 
suffice to reach the limit of possible expansion. Each of these 
lines of argument is legitimate. When combined, they are of 
irresistible force. 3 

2 In Russia, where the birth-rate rises and the infantile death-rate is falling, the 
need of contraception is recognized, but not yet fully established. Abortion is 
legalized and conducted with due precaution, but this is a poor substitute for 

3 It is sometimes supposed that the Catholic Church is opposed to contraception 



ANOTHER modern condition which has an important bearing on 
the family in our Western civilization is constituted by the in 
crease of divorce and the ever greater legal facilities for securing 
it. Speaking generally (there are always exceptions), it may be 
said that in savage societies, as probably in the primitive world, 
matings, provided they are formed with members of the group 
with which mating is permitted, are easily formed and rather 
easily ended. In more advanced barbarous societies, in which 
property becomes a chief factor in society, masculine influence 
is more predominant than before over feminine influence; the 
marriage bond grows more rigid and is specially rigid in favor of 
the husband. In the latest civilized social states, this rigidity is 
relaxed, divorce becomes easier and more frequent, and the rights 
of the sexes tend to be equalized. We may see that process in 
classic Rome. Beginning, it may well be, in a social state of more 
or less matriarchal constitution, when the Roman social order be 
came patriarchal marriage in some of its forms was almost in 
dissoluble, and divorce, so far as it existed, was usually a privilege 
confined to the husband, except in a "free" marriage, where the 
wife did not fall under the manus of her husband. But in the 
later developments the privileges of free marriage were extended 
to manus marriages, and Roman law became equally liberal to 
husbands and wives in the matter of divorce. That represents 

and that Catholics refuse to practise it. Both these suppositions involve some mis 
apprehension. It is certain that some Catholics practise contraception. France, a 
largely Catholic country, has been the leader in the movement, and in Germany 
the Catholic birth-rate is falling; in the United States it is found at Mrs. Margaret 
Sanger*s clinic in New York that the proportion of Catholic women who apply for 
advice is about 32, per cent, that is to say, nearly as large as the proportion of 
Protestant women, which is 35 per cent. In some countries, it is true, statistics show 
a higher birth-rate among the Catholics than among the Protestants, but in those 
countries the Catholics usually belong to a lower and less educated social class 
which would inevitably show a higher birth-rate whatever religion they pro 
fessed. Dignitaries of the Catholic Church have sometimes distinguished themselves 
by denunciation of contraceptive measures. But they speak for themselves. It is 
hardly possible for a Church which venerates chastity and maintains the celibacy 
of the clergy to be opposed to contraception, since without contraception chastity 
and celibacy can hardly exist. The only dispute possible is with regard to methods 
of contraception, and that is a comparatively trivial matter. There would appear 
to be no dogma of the Church incompatible with contraception. 


approximately the stage that we have today reached in "Western 

The frequency of divorce has much increased since the Great 
War, but it was steadily though more slowly increasing long 
before, though in France the frequency of divorce increased up to 
1921 and since then has somewhat decreased. The post-war so- 
called "epidemic of marriage" was naturally followed by an 
"epidemic of divorce," which is now subsiding, although we may 
still expect the rate to rise slowly as the impediments are removed. 
In Japan, it may be remarked, which comes next to the United 
States in frequency of divorce, there was no post-war rise. The 
United States holds the record; in 1923 there were 360 divorces 
to 100,000 of married population (or 149 to 100,000 of the whole 
population). And in some States this means one or more divorces 
to every five marriages. In Europe, Austria and Switzerland 
stand high, and England (1922) very low with only 6.8 divorces 
to 100,000 of population, though that is four times as many as 
ten years earlier. In Russia divorce may be obtained at the wish 
of either party (and at the wish of both it may be arranged be 
fore the Registrar, without recourse to the Courts) , yet divorce is 
far less frequent than in the United States, and the younger gen 
eration cultivate ideals of self-discipline and self-control. Such 
differences represent differences of social opinion and of religion, 
as well as discrepant facilities for obtaining divorce. The general 
advance of divorce corresponds to the normal condition of ad 
vanced civilization and represents a necessary and healthy ad 
justment to the complex social conditions. Divorce by mutual 
consent (and even on the demand of either party) seems to be 
the goal towards which we are moving, and it has already been 
reached in some countries. It is reasonable that a contract formed 
by mutual consent should be dissolvable by mutual consent, and 
so far from divorce being destructive to the family, we may agree 
with "Westermarck that it is a necessary means of preserving the 
dignity of marriage by ending such marriages as have ceased 
to be worthy of the name. 4 

4 Westermarclc, "History of Human Marriage/ Vol. Ill, ch. 33; Burgdorfer, **Sta- 
tistik der Ehe" in Max Marcuse s "Die Ehe," 1927; art, "Marriage* (by various 
hands) in Hastings 1 "Dictionary of Ethics and Religion.* 1 


The tendency to diminish the rigidity of marriage ties is being 
carried further, it may be added, than an increased legal facility 
for divorce can carry it. There is undoubtedly a tendency in our 
Western civilization to recognize the existence of sexual relation 
ships outside marriage altogether, always provided that such re 
lationships are not for the procreation of children. It may be 
said that such extra-marital manifestations of the sexual life are 
no novelty. Prostitution has flourished in secret, and even been 
defended in public, while what is called "seduction" has every 
where been taking place. But the novelty lies in the fact that 
both prostitution and seduction are diminishing. Prostitution is 
becoming less attractive and seduction less possible. The palmy 
days of prostitution (which seems to have begun as a religious 
rite) were before syphilis entered civilization, and its prestige has 
been gradually falling ever since. Seduction in the legitimate 
sense of the word (as "seduced" is often merely the expression 
used by women of low social class to describe their first act of 
sexual intercourse) is only possible when the woman is unduly 
ignorant of the nature of sexual relations, and in proportion as 
the task of what is called "social hygiene" is fulfilled, such igno 
rance becomes unusual. But when prostitution and seduction 
are, so far as may be possible, eliminated, the objections to the 
formation of sexual relationships in the absence of higher ethical 
or religious considerations and provided offspring are not contem 
plated largely fall away. There can be no doubt that this new 
condition is becoming appreciated by the younger generation. 
Young people of both sexes are now in a position to view a larger 
proportion of the facts involved than were open to the genera 
tions preceding them, and they are acquiring the courage to act in 
accordance with the facts. That means that many mistakes are 
being made, for the deepest facts of the sex life can only be 
learnt by experience, and experience can only come slowly. But 
it is perhaps better to make the mistakes of facing life than to 
make the mistakes of running away from life. For those mis 
takes may enrich and enlighten, while these are apt to prove 
futile. The paths of the sex life are beset by difficulties; but so 


is the whole of life. If we are to live in any true sense at all 
we are compelled to live dangerously. 

A large number of the men and women of today form sexual 
relationships outside marriage whether or not they ultimately lead 
to marriage which they conceal, or seek to conceal, from the 
world. The prevalence of such relationships, and the new at 
titude taken towards them, has led to the conception of the "com- 
panionate marriage/* that is, an openly acknowledged and recog 
nizable relationship less binding than ordinary marriage, though 
liable to become ordinary marriage should children be born. This 
conception has not been put forward as a method of relaxing mor 
als, but rather of supporting them, on the theory that the open 
recognition of a kind of relationship which already exists secretly 
on a large scale cannot but be a steadying and ennobling in 
fluence. 5 

The preceding considerations represent conditions which are 
modifying marriage in our Western civilization. But they are 
far from overthrowing marriage or threatening the life of the 
family. On the contrary, they help to strengthen them. It is 
the rigid institution that is broken; the institution that cannot 
change is dying. By its flexibility and its adaptation to changing 
conditions an institution reveals its stability and its power of 


So WE still have, notwithstanding all the modifications that we 
can regard as within the limits of probability, the family persist 
ing, essentially, in its primitive form: father, mother, offspring. 
The impulses that make these three units a trinity are all pri 
mordial: the desire of the parents for each other, the desire of each 
for the child, and the dependence of the child on its parents, 
righty considered on both its parents, for even where there is 
no material need of a father there is yet a spiritual need. 

It is true that, in the supposed interests of the child, the idea 

5 M. Knight, "The Companionate and the Family," Journal of Social Hygiene, 
May, 1924. Judge Ben Lindsey, with his wide experience of social conditions, has 
powerfully advocated this conception in his "Compauionate Marriage," 1937. 


has been put forward (first of all by Plato in the famous fifth 
book of his "Republic") that the infant should be removed from 
its natural parents and placed in the hands of nurses skilfully 
trained in all the science and art of modern hygiene in general 
and puericulture in particular. Certainly it is possible to find in 
numerable parents who are completely and lamentably ignorant 
of this science and this art. But to be content to leave the 
mothers in ignorance and to train up in the knowledge of the 
duties of maternity a body of women who are not intended to be 
mothers, except for other women s children, seems a perverted 
attempt to escape the difficulty. It is not calculated to benefit, 
and still less to render happy, the real mothers, the artificial moth 
ers, or the children. It is scarcely surprising that we find little 
indication that this method is likely to be followed on any large 
scale, if at all. It seems only in place when we are concerned 
with motherless waifs and strays. The legitimate method of ap 
proaching the problem as is constantly becoming more widely 
recognized lies in training the real mothers, and, so far as pos 
sible, before they have begun to be mothers. In our world moth 
erhood has ceased to be an inevitable fate of every woman who 
enters marriage and many who remain outside it. It may be 
said to have become a vocation. It is true that nearly every 
woman, at some period in her life, desires to become a mother, 
and that most men desire to become fathers, sometimes indeed 
without clearly realizing that fatherhood implies motherhood 
and that it is a vastly more difficult task to be a mother than to 
be a father. But this is a vocation which not all who feel called 
to it ought to follow. Only those who are fitted by nature, and 
also by training, should attempt to follow it. In various coun 
tries now, and on an ever larger scale, efforts are being made to 
provide this training. The establishment of Schools for Mothers, 
in some countries facilitated by law, constituted a notable step 
along this path. 6 

6 Dr. Miele of Ghent has sometimes been credited with initiating this step, which, 
however, naturally grew out of the insistence on puericulture by Budm and 
Pinard in France. An early pioneer in the establishment of Schools for Mothers 
seems to have been Dr. E. S. Goodhue, of California and Hawaii, who is still 
active in this field. 



So FAR we have been viewing the family as a domestic institution. 
It is that in the supreme degree, being the central and essential 
core of all human and even animal life, the primal institution. In 
the most primitive conditions, before any wide social bonds were 
formed, or any compact community existed, we must postulate the 
family, for we cannot conceive how any creature with the pro 
longed helpless infancy of human beings could otherwise survive 
in this dangerous world. But with the formation of communi 
ties, with the multiplication of social ties, the family ceases to 
be a merely domestic institution, and it is possible, and even 
probable, that the family became more complex in its relation 
ship, even at a fairly early period of human prehistory. It is 
certainly complex today among those peoples whom we are pleased 
to regard as "primitive." 7 

"With the development of civilization the form assumed by the 
family becomes again more simple and independent in appearance, 
but the family remains in an intimate relationship with the com 
munity to which it is constantly furnishing new members. Be 
yond its elementary domestic functions, the family thus neces 
sarily enters into reciprocal functions of responsibility with the 
community. The community undertakes duties which may 
vary to a wide extent towards the family, and the family, in 
return, is called upon to contribute, to the best of its abilities, 
to the community. There are wide variations in the conception 
of the duties on either side, and this leads today to a frequent con 
flict in opinion and practice. On the one hand, there is the 
tendency to dimmish the duties of the family and of the state 
towards each other to a minimum; on the other hand the tendency 
to increase them to a maximum. The former tendency is com 
monly called Individualism, the latter Socialism. It is common 
for those who associate themselves with one of these tendencies 
to sneer at the other or denounce it as dangerous. From the 

7 See, for instance, the fascinating books, based on intimate knowledge, of Pro 
fessor Malinowski concerning the social and sexual life of the Trobriand Islanders 
of New Guinea. 


. social point of view, however, as is fairly obvious to an impartial 
observer, both tendencies are necessary. A society without social 
istic impulses could not cohere; a society without individualistic 
impulses could not surviv^ But with regard to the limits to be 
set to each group of impulses opinions are bound to vary. We 
may believe that with regard to many elementary requirements, 
of which all have an equal and common need such as provision 
of open spaces in cities, a pure water supply, and a sanitary sys 
tem the collective activity of the community is rightly invoked; 
and that in regard to religion, to opinion in general, and to the 
higher branches of education a large scope must be left to the 
individual. But there are many spheres in which arguments clash. 
In this special question of the family, for instance, we may ask, 
how far children are reared for the parents of the family and how 
far for the community. And if, as we are bound to hold, children 
have a value as future members of the community, should the com 
munity, in addition to other services, contribute financially to the 
upbringing of the children? In this way we have the question 
of mothers pensions. 

It appears that the idea of "Family Endowment" was first put 
forward by Thomas Paine, that great fertilising genius whose sug 
gestions on so many subjects, Utopian when he formed them, are 
now becoming embodied in our Western civilization; and he was 
followed by Condorcet, who was also the pioneer in publicly 
advocating the use of contraceptive measures, for there is no op 
position between birth control and family endowment. On the 
contrary, it may be said that the prevention of unwanted children 
and the proper care of wanted children (whether or not that 
should be aided by the State) are closely related measures. 

There is still dispute as to whether children should be subsidised 
by the State, and although the principle is becoming widely trans 
formed into practice, the implications of Mothers Pensions (for it 
is generally held that the payment should go direct to the mother) 
are not yet always fully understood or realized. In France such 
assistance is given partially, especially to the families of state 
employees, in various ways, from anxiety to increase the growth 
of population (which, however, it fails to do) , on militaristic and 


Catholic grounds, and with no regard to the quality of the children 
who may thus be produced; nearly half of the wage-earners of 
France, it is said, now benefit in some way or other by these 
measures. In Germany, modifications of the same methods, on 
a more socialistic basis, have been put into action, but do not 
seem to flourish. In Russia, with the idealistic hope to make a Par 
adise for children, mothers receive state aid and special funds. In 
Australia, the problem of family endowment has been approached 
in a logical and systematic manner, and a Government Commission 
was set up to investigate its feasibility. Every political party is 
said to favor it, but the cost of a thorough-going scheme is so vast 
that no Australian State has yet ventured to set it up, except 
(1927), on a comprehensive but modest basis, New South Wales. 
New Zealand had previously adopted the plan on a small scale. 

There are, however, many convinced opponents to any scheme 
of this kind. They hold, on the one hand, that there is not the 
slightest need to assist maternity since the population is nearly 
everywhere increasing already at too rapid a rate, and, even if 
there appeared to be such need, maternity is not a suitable function 
for state endowment, since it is not essential to a woman s life 
to become a mother, and there are ample recompenses in maternity 
itself. Even among those who are not opposed to a State sub 
sidy there is severe criticism of the motives and methods of the 
schemes usually adopted or proposed. Nationalistic and militar 
istic motives are here out of place, nor can they often appeal to 
the mothers it is proposed to assist. On the other hand, the real 
interests of the community demand a discriminate selection of 
population, and for the State to offer to assist the procreation not 
merely of the highest and best who scarcely need such assistance 
but of the lowest and worst is to stultify itself and to work 
for its own decadence. A wiser and more reasoned scheme than 
has yet been devised is needed, if the present tendency to maternal 
endowment is to prove of substantial benefit to the community. 8 

8 The Cause of Family Endowment is ably and persuasively stated, and the present 
position of such schemes in various countries set forth in detail, by Miss Eleanor 
Rathbone in her "Disinherited Family" and "Ethics and Economics of Family En 
dowment* (1927). She fails to insist adequately on the need of birth control and 
eugenical safeguards, but argues that to help the mother is to aid "orderly and 


When the question o mothers* pensions arises, and the function 
of the community in supplying financial aid towards the produc 
tion of children, we are faced by a problem which is often ignored 
when this measure is adopted or advocated* That is the problem 
of how far the community really needs its production of children 
to be subsidised, and how far it is desirable to afford that subsidy 
aid without regard to the probable quality of the children pro 
duced. The measures adopted or advocated for maintaining or 
increasing the population of a State have so far been confused, 
unintelligent, and even maleficent. The old feverish anxiety to 
increase the population at all costs has ceased to be reasonable. 
The growth of the world s population has become during the 
past century so enormously rapid, being doubled every hundred 
years, that we are approaching a period when the strongest coun 
try will be that which increases most slowly or not at all. 9 Even 
among the nations concerned in the Great War, Russia, with the 
largest population and the highest birth-rate, was almost the first 
to succumb, for the size of a population is not the measure of 
its strength. The two countries of the Old World which today 
display the greatest anxiety to stimulate their own growth in 
population, France and Italy, both illustrate the methods which 
should not be adopted. In France the growth of the population 
is small but the country has reaped many benefits from that slow 
growth, which is not, however, due to a low birth-rate but to 
a high rate of infantile mortality. Yet the official policy of France 

self-respecting living which is the best cure for indiscriminate and dysgenic breed 
ing." She remarks that family aid in France has done nothing to increase the 
birth-rate, though introduced for that purpose, and points out that grants may 
be limited to the early children of the family and refused altogether where the 
heredity is bad. An argument on which she forcibly insists is that equal payment to 
men and women for equal work is not practicable unless in association with family 

9 The whole question of the rapid growth of population in modern times and its 
bearing on the future of the world is discussed in a masterly manner by Professor 
E. M. East, "Mankind at the Crossroads," 1924- For a more recent discussion of 
fundamental population problems from various points of view, by leading scientific 
authorities of Europe and America, see Proceedings of the "World Population Conference, 
1927, edited by Margaret Sanger. And for a clear and authoritative statement, in a 
concise form, see Sir George Kimball, "The Fundamental Elements of the Problems of 
Population and Migration," "Eugenics Review* Jan. 1928; he concludes that the great 
problem before Man now is "how best to control the rate at which he multiplies." 


is directed much less to the task of better caring for the children 
born than to the encouragement by all sorts of small benefits of 
still more births, without any regard for the quality of the chil 
dren thus to be born. In Italy, where the rate of population 
growth is already high, the energetic encouragement to further 
increase, for which the Fascist government is responsible, can only 
lead to internal suffering and discontent or to external trouble, 
due to difficulties with other countries refusing to accept immi 
grants and to the resulting temptation to risk war, which from of 
old has been the method for arresting internal rebellion and re 
ducing superfluous populations. A wiser course is being pursued 
in the New World. The United States, in view of the growing 
perfection of technical processes and the increasing tendency to 
unemployment, realises that the desirable limits of population are 
being reached, and is slackening its own rate of growth (it once 
doubled its population in twenty-three years), excluding all but 
a small proportion of foreign immigrant peoples, whose rates of 
increase are usually higher than its own. To the United States 
thus belongs the honor of being first, among great nations, to 
assert, virtually, the international importance of Birth Control. 
In Australia, also, though in a less definitely formulated manner, 
the same attitude prevails, and while internal expansion has not 
yet reached its limits, although at the present rate of increase 
it is rapidly drawing near them, the tendency is now towards 
hostility to immigration. 


WE thus approach the problem of the desirable size of the family. 
It is a problem which has only in recent years become practical. 
In old days children were "given by God," and God who gave them 
often took them back again with extreme rapidity. The popula 
tion was practically stationary and yet families were frequently of 
enormous size. Many were called into the world but few were 
chosen to live. In old family records we see two or even three 
brothers of the same name. "John" was christened and "John" 
died, so the name was available for a later "John," and, if he too 
died, for a third. Nowadays the progress of medicine and hygiene 


has rendered life safer; when a child is born there is a reasonable 
probability that he will live, and we can afford to be more economi 
cal in child production. The old methods, indeed, become imprac 
ticable; they would produce too large an excess of population. 
If we desire to retain that almost stationary population which 
has, on the whole, been normal for mankind, we can no longer 
effect it by the method of large gross production and small net 

The optimum number of children in a family has often been 
exaggerated, especially by those who have not realised how greatly 
in modern times the conditions of life have changed in the direc 
tion of diminishing wastage. Thus Grotjahn in Germany has 
stated that an average of 3.8 children is required per marriage 
in order to maintain the population in equilibrium. But this is, 
as a general rule, certainly too high. In England, it is calculated, 
an average of about 2.5 children per marriage now amply suffices 
to do more than maintain a stationary population, by ensuring a 
considerable increase. The optimum size of the family now there 
fore oscillates between two and three. To many marriages we 
find more children, and to many we find fewer or none* 


cannot yet attempt to calculate all the benefits arising for 
the community from the diminution in the size of the family which 
has now become possible owing to new hygienic and medical con 
quests in the economy of life. There is far more in it than the 
simple ascent to a higher level of well-being inevitably resulting 
from a diminution of our excessive procreation, our excessive dis 
eases, and our excessive deaths. The family may be the unit 
of civilization. But in any developed civilization it must be 
come much more than that. In so far as the family is merely an 
isolated unit, civilization still remains primitive. It is by its 
capacity for interpenetrating contacts with the community that 
family and community are alike enabled to develop a finer civiliza 
tion. It is largely because the family has been so much a self- 
centred unit, absorbed in the constant stress and strain of self- 


reproduction that our civilization is still, on the whole, so crude, 
An important factor in this development is the liberation of 
women who are mothers from an undue absorption in maternal 
functions. It is estimated that a healthy woman in a healthy 
environment, when left to nature, produces on an average fifteen 
children. Apart from the fact that the world nowadays has no 
use for such women, it is obvious that a woman whose life was 
thus occupied had little time or strength left over for the wider 
functions of social life. She could not exercise a profession and 
she could not bring her knowledge and experience to bear on the 
life of the world outside her own home. Moreover her knowl 
edge and experience were so limited from lack of contact with 
that larger world that, unless when rarely gifted, she was not 
fitted even to conduct her small domestic life wisely. The af 
fairs of the world, so far as women are concerned, were left 
to the unmarried, often by the limitation of their experience nar 
row and prejudiced, and to a few fine exceptional women who, 
when the period of sexual activity was over, still had the strength 
and ability for wider activities. These conditions are responsi 
ble for the severe criticisms which have often been mistakenly 
directed against the activities of women in the life of the com 
munity, mistakenly because it is not women, but a special and 
untypical class of women, whose activities arouse this criticism. 
The proper fulfilment of all that maternity means involves, 
even for the average 2.5 children, the devotion of a large slice 
of a woman s life. But it is very far from demanding the whole 
of it, and by a due apportionment of her time and energy between 
her family and the world a woman may enrich both to an extent 
in previous times impossible. In Russia, where the social equality 
of women is legally established in accordance with the original 
intention of Lenin, who declared that "every kitchen maid must 
learn to rule the State," 10 it is found practicable for women to 
work and even to occupy high posts without prohibiting mater- 

10 This was not an empty boast, surprising as it may seem to those who only 
knew Russia in the days of Czardom. Today women in Russia form a larger 
proportion of the ruling class than in any other country of Western civilization, 
and are, it is claimed, proving worthy of their opportunities. See, for instance, Dr. 
Helene Stocker, "Zum Vierten Male in Russland," Ncue Generation^ March, 


nity, the woman being released from work and provided for by 
the State for two months before and two months after her con 
finement, assisted in her maternal duties by communal nurseries 
and kindergartens, and not mulcted in salary for the time spent 
in suckling her infant. The obstacles that in many countries are 
only slowly being overcome are due less to any inherent difficulty 
In combining work and motherhood than to effete traditions and 
blind prejudices. 

This is well illustrated in the special and important case of 
teachers. A large proportion of teachers are today women, often 
not only for children of their own sex but for boys. There can 
not be the smallest doubt that women who have had sex expe 
rience of their own and children of their own are incomparably 
better fitted to deal with the special difficulties of children than 
those who have not. A few gifted women may be found who 
can make up for personal inexperience by insight and artificially 
acquired knowledge, but they are rare exceptions. This is a 
fact that should be fairly obvious even to one who knows nothing 
about schools and education. But it becomes conspicuous when 
we observe the actual conditions that prevail. The teacher who 
has had children of her own is seen to possess an almost instinctive 
comprehension of children which is seldom present in her unmar 
ried colleagues. The scholastic attainments of the latter may be of 
the highest, and yet they may be unable to meet even the simplest 
emergencies of child life, themselves little more than children, and 
sometimes indeed often more ignorant of the facts of human 
life, and more afraid of them, than are their pupils, whom they are 
supposed to be competent to "educate/* Children today are apt 
to be acute critics of the abilities of their teachers, and if children 
had a voice in the selection of teachers the level of education 
would certainly soon be raised. At present a large majority of 
elementary teachers (in England nearly 80 per cent), and a con 
siderable proportion in secondary schools, are women. Yet how 
many of them are encouraged by the official authorities, or even 
allowed, to acquire the essential experiences of motherhood? In 
spite of the recent progress of science, the depths of human im 
becility have not yet been plumbed. 



BUT the family is not only a domestic question ; not only a social 
question as the almost tragic failure to recognize it in the great 
function of education brings home to us. It is, finally, a racial 
question. The well-being of the individual in the home, his due 
equipment in the community, and, ultimately, his fate in the 
species, must rest on the sound organization of the family. The 
increasing recognition of this fact on a scientific foundation is 
one of the most notable features of our Western civilization. 

In an almost instinctive and unconscious manner it has been 
recognized and acted on ever since human society became or 
ganized. Equally among savages and among the founders of the 
classic cultures of Greece and Rome, from whom we inherit so 
much, it was recognized, without question and without discus 
sion, that the population must sometimes be restricted and that 
only the best children should be allowed to live. The method of 
infanticide has everywhere been the most usual method of attain 
ing this end. 11 Then a new ideal, supported by Christianity and 
emphasizing the value of every human being as a soul, began to 
be developed, and finally to be carried out in an extreme form, 
owing to the modern advances in medicine and hygiene. That 
movement has meant much for the growth of human sympathy 
and solidarity. But it was unbalanced, for it failed to perceive 
the precious elements that had been lost in the decay of the earlier 
ideal. Our civilization today is marked by an increased per 
ception of both the fundamental conditions of racial well-being. 
We have gained the ability and the will to cherish every human 
creature, however feeble, that is brought into the world. But 
we also see the cruelty of bringing into the world human creatures 
that are maimed, physically or spiritually, merely that we may 
prolong or alleviate their sufferings. And we realize how heavy 
is the burden that we thus place on the race, not only of today 

11 The various methods which Man throughout his history has practised in order to 
reach the ends now possible through birth control and eugenics are fully set forth by 
Prof. Carr-Saunders in his elaborate work, "The Population Problem." 


but of tomorrow, by thus cherishing the feeblest specimens of 
humanity and enabling them to increase and multiply. We fur 
ther realize and that is our main discovery that it is unneces 
sary. The advance in medicine and hygiene which enables us to 
preserve the defective members of our kind also enables us to 
prevent, in large measure, their production, by methods which 2 
unlike those practised in the early world, are humane. 12 

There are two lines along which these measures for the eugenic 
good of the race are being embodied in our general life: by legis 
lation and by education. The first has often been resorted to, 
because for the ordinary mind it is the easiest. But it is futile 
without the second. Many eugenical laws have been passed, 
especially in the United States, merely to be evaded or become a 
dead letter because they are not in accordance with the general sen 
timent of the community. On the other hand, when a line of 
action is spontaneously carried out by the community without 
penal sanction, legislation became unnecessary, save ultimately in 
order to whip into line a small recalcitrant minority. It is 
only by the growth of scientific knowledge, by the spread of edu 
cation, and by an increased sense of personal responsibility 
all now slowly permeating civilized communities that we can 
expect any sound advance in the eugenic field. By a reasonable 
regard for the probabilities of heredity, and a well-directed atten 
tion to personal fitness or unfitness for paternity or maternity, we 
are moving, even though at present slowly, in the right direction. 
Certificates of fitness for marriage more accurately for father 
hood and motherhood are now actively advocated or projected 
in various countries. But they cannot be effectively introduced 
by legislation; they must first become the imperative demand of 
each individual for himself and herself, and his or her partner. 
"When they become that, all is effected that we need trouble 
about, and legislation becomes a matter of comparative indiffer 
ence, except to set the seal on a social custom of the first im 
portance for the purification of the race. 

12 For the history of contraception, see M. C, Stopes, "Contraception: its Theory and 
Practise," and. ed., London, 1928; and for discussion of all its aspects medical, eugenic, 
religious, moral, and international, see Proceedings of The Sixth International Neo- 
Maltkuisan & Birth Control Conference, edited by Margaret Sangcr, New York, 1916. 


It used sometimes to be asked: "What has posterity done for me 
that I should do anything for posterity? The question was 
wrongly put, "Posterity" is only another name for Mankind, 
and when we pose the question rightly there can be no dispute 
about the answer. If we put aside the part that belongs to Na 
ture or to God, we owe everything to Mankind. All that we are, 
and all that we possess in civilization, we owe to the everlasting 
aspiration and struggle of Mankind before us, and to the slow 
accumulation of knowledge and art on the topmost level of which 
we now stand. Our immense debt to Mankind in the past can 
only be repaid to Mankind in the future. It is our privilege, 
if we do not regard it as our duty, to pass on, in ever finer shapes, 
the great traditions which have been handed to us. 


RACE is the garment we are born in and is set in our 
biologic or blood inheritance; civilization or culture, to 
use a more comprehensive term is the garment we learn 
to wear and depends on physical and social environment: time, 
place, parents, teachers, society. The author of this chapter holds, 
in common with his fellow-anthropologists, that no necessary or 
innate connection between race and civilization has yet been 
proved, and that while such connection is conceivable it is highly 
improbable. He holds further that there is no warrant for the 
assumption that certain races are "higher" than others, or that 
there are any "pure" races, or that race mixtures or "hybrid 
races" are biologically (or culturally) inferior; or even that any 
existing classification of mankind according to biologic or heritable 
features and psychologic or cultural traits has any permanent 
scientific merit or furnishes any real clue as to how peoples and 
cultures are genetically related. 

AND yet a group of writers, not inappropriately termed "heredity 
mongers," not only make such assumptions but assert that race 
and civilization are innately related, and use their assumptions and 
assertions as arguments for political legislation and social reform. 
In fact, the amount of false biology, infantile logic, and bad faith 
that these heredity mongers bring to bear on our enormously com 
plicated and complex racial and cultural problems is unbelievable. 
Wittingly or unwittingly, they juggle biologic, psychologic, and 



cultural factors to suit their convenience, and pour forth flimsy 
arguments based on dogmatic and unfounded assumptions as sci 
entific facts to gratify their race phobia. They demand atten 
tion solely because of their prominence or academic standing, or 
because as "best sellers" they attempt to mould American civiliza 
tion in ways biologically unwarranted and socially . false and 

Race phobia is as old as human nature and springs from the 
same primitive impulse: We are the People. Race phobia in its 
modern form * began (in 1854) with Count Arthur de Gobineau s 
"Essay on the Inequality of the Races of Man/* which under 
took to prove that the decisive factor in civilization was race, or 
physical structure; that national development depended on keep 
ing the race pure; and that the "Aryan" race only had founded 
a really great civilization. Max Miiller, in his work on Aryan 
tongues, indirectly and unwittingly helped establish the idea of 
an Aryan race; and in spite of the fact that Aryan tongues are 
spoken by peoples of India and of diverse racial type, "Aryan" 
came to be synonymous with Blumenbach s European or Cau 
casian race, and especially with the blond peoples of North Europe 
the Teutons or "Nordic" race. 

The World War produced a recrudescence of race phobia that 
has not yet run its course or possibly yet reached the height of 
its virulence. But the original "Aryan" race has been resolved 
into three "races" represented by the blond Teuton, the heavy 
Slav, and the darker Italian or, the Nordic, Alpine, and Mediter 
ranean. Due to the flood of emotion which swept this country 
during the war, the "Teutonic" race quite gave way to a Nordic 
obsession or an Anglo-Saxon myth. This virtual abandonment 
of the Aryan for a Nordic idea was largely due to the "Founda 
tions of the Nineteenth Century" by the Scotsman, Houston 
Stewart Chamberlain, who deserted his country for Germany. 
Schultz s "Race or Mongrel" (1908) definitely brought the Nor 
dic idea to America. 

With Madison Grant s "The Passing of the Great Race" (1916) 

*T!ie complete history of this movement is beautifully told in Part I of Professor 
F. H. Hankins* "The Racial Basis of Civilization: A Critique of the Nordic Doctrine/ 


the doctrine of a specific Nordic race was definitely let loose on the 
public. That doctrine has already been put to work in America 
in keeping the Nordic stock "pure" by restricting immigration 
of "inferior" races, and is now being invoked by the eugenics cult 
to make it purer by encouraging "superior" people to out-breed 
their "inferiors" and by discouraging inferior people from breed 
ing at all. Nonsense of course; but potentially so dangerous that 
a critical examination of the doctrine and its inferences is prop 
erly a part of this discussion of race and civilization. 

Grant s book alone, in spite of its formidable display of "author 
ities" (especially prepared by a Columbia student as window 
dressing for a later edition), could not have reached its vogue 
without the endorsement of a great name Professor Henry Fair- 
field Osborn. He wrote a preface to two editions. 

How ruthlessly Professor Osborn argues and how well he 
knows "facts" (quite unknown to anthropologists) is best revealed 
by the following extracts from his letter to the New York Times, 
April 8, 1924: 

"The Northern races, as is well known to anthropologists, include all 
those peoples which originally occupied the western plateau of Asia and 
traversed Northern Europe, certainly as early as 12,000 B.C. In the 
country which they occupied the conditions of life were hard, the 
struggle for existence severe, and this gave rise to their principal virtues, 
as well as to their faults, to their fighting qualities and to their love of 
strong drink. . . . They invaded the countries to the South, not only as 
conquerors but as contributors of strong moral and intellectual elements 
to more or less decadent civilizations. Through the Nordic tide which 
flowed into Italy came the ancestors of Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, 
Galileo, Titian; also according to Giinther, of Giotto, Donatello, Botti 
celli, Andrea del Sarto, Petrarch and Tasso, . . . Columbus from his 
portraits and from busts, authentic or not, was clearly of Nordic 
ancestry. Kossuth was a Calvmist and of noble family, and there is a 
presumption in favor of his being a Nordic; Kosciusko and Pulaski were 
members of a Polish nobility which at that time was largely Nor 
dic. Coligny, Colbert, Richelieu, Lafayette, and Rochambeau, beyond 
all question were of French (Norman) Nordic nobility, and in modern 
France we observe that two of the leaders in the recent great struggle, 
Joffre and Foch, are both Nordic, while Clemenceau and Poincare are of 


Alpine blood. France includes among her great artists Rodin, of Nordic 
origin; among her leading literary men, Lamartine, Racine, Anatole 
France, all Nordics. The intellectual influence of the Northern race is 
also apparent in Spain where it appears in her greatest man of letters, 
Cervantes; also in Portugal in the poet-hero Camoens, whose ancestors 
were Gothic. Of the fighting stock of Italy, Napoleon, although born 
in Corsica, was descended from the old Lombard nobility, of Nordic 
origin, and it is probable that Garibaldi with his Teutonic name was 
largely of Northern stock. . . 

"Columbus front his portraits and from busts, authentic or 
not, was clearly of Nordic ancestry" This sentence seems worth 
requoting even italicizing; comment would be superfluous. 

In the first preface to Grant s book, Professor Osborn asserts 
that race plays a larger part than language or nationality in mould 
ing human destiny: "Race implies heredity and heredity im 
plies all the moral, social, and intellectual characteristics and traits 
which are the springs of politics and government, . . . Thus the 
racial history of Europe . . . might be paraphrased as the heredity 
history of Europe." He then speaks of "the gradual dying out 
among our people of those hereditary traits through which the 
principles of our religious, political, and social foundations were 
laid down and their insidious replacement by traits of less noble 

By the time of the writing of the preface to the second edition, 
the United States had entered the World War. Professor Osborn 
found that it was the "Anglo-Saxon branch of the Nordic race" 
that was "again showing itself to be that upon which the nation 
must chiefly depend for leadership, for courage, for loyalty, 
for unity and harmony of action, for self-sacrifice and devotion to 
an ideal. ... In the new world that we are working and fighting 
for, the world of liberty, of justice, and of humanity, we shall 
save democracy only when democracy discovers its own aristoc 
racy as in the days when our Republic was founded." Professor 
Osborn is plainly in the grip of race phobia. 

With Professor Osborn so baselessly dogmatic we need not be 
surprised if Grant asserts anything he wants as evidence, but 
when he claims that "modern anthropology has demonstrated that 


racial lines are not only absolutely independent of both national 
and linguistic groupings, but that in many cases these racial 
lines cut through them at sharp angles and correspond closely with 
the divisions of social cleavage/* he claims something that no liv 
ing anthropologist admits as demonstrated. 

Equally unfounded in observable fact is his claim that "the 
great lesson of the science of race is the immutability of somatolog- 
ical or bodily characters, with which is closely associated the im 
mutability of psychical predispositions and impulses. This con 
tinuity of inheritance has a most important bearing on the theory 
of democracy and still more upon that of socialism, for it naturally 
tends to reduce the relative importance of environment." 

Does Grant know what a "race" is? Or the result of hybrid 
ization? Or whether there are "higher" races? Let this quota 
tion answer: "Whether we like to admit it or not, the result of 
the mixture of two races, in the long run, gives us a race revert 
ing to the more ancient, generalized, and lower type. The cross 
between a white man and an Indian is an Indian; the cross be 
tween a white man and a Negro is a Negro; the cross between a 
white man and a Hindu is a Hindu; and the cross between any of 
the three European races and a Jew is a Jew." 

But "mix" they will, especially "women of the better classes." 
In fact, man s "perverse predisposition to mismate" is one of the 
greatest difficulties in classifying man! 

Yet in spite of these "difficulties" and he has not named half 
of them Grant "easily and surely" finds a Nordic, Alpine, and 
Mediterranean race. "With equal ease he finds racial "aptitudes." 
His three European races "vary intellectually and morally just 
as they do physically. Moral, intellectual and spiritual attri 
butes are as persistent as physical characters and are transmitted 
substantially unchanged from generation to generation. . . . Each 
race differs in the relative proportion of what we may term good 
and bad strains, just as nations do." 

Thus the Alpine race, although "submissive to authority both 
political and religious, being usually Roman Catholics in western 
Europe, tends toward democracy." But the Nordics are "a race 
of soldiers, sailors, adventurers, and explorers, but above al! 2 of 


rulers, organizers, and aristocrats in sharp contrast to the essen 
tially peasant and democratic character of the Alpines . . . dom 
ineering, individualistic, self-reliant and jealous of their personal 
freedom both in political and religious systems and as a result 
they are usually Protestants. Chivalry and knighthood and their 
still surviving but greatly impaired counterparts are peculiarly 
Nordic traits, and feudalism, class distinctions, and race pride 
among Europeans are traceable for the most part to the north." 

No Brahman of Benares, London, or Boston ever looked down 
upon a pariah from a dizzier height than that from which Grant 
looks down upon the whole non-Nordic race of human outcasts. 
And what is the point of this false science? To serve as a basis for 
the ethics of a Gorilla, to warn us that "we Americans must re 
alize that the altruistic ideals which have controlled our social 
development during the past century and the maudlin sentimental- 
ism that has made America c an asylum for the oppressed, are 
sweeping the nation toward a racial abyss. If the Melting Pot 
is allowed to boil without control and we continue to follow 
our national motto and deliberately blind ourselves to all distinc 
tions of race, creed, or color, the type of native American of 
Colonial descent will become as extinct as the Athenian of the 
age of Pericles, and the Viking of the days of Rollo." 

One is reminded in this connection of a remark of John 
Langdon-Davies in his "The New Age of Faith": "If America had 
set out to attract Dantes and Benedetto Croces she would have had 
no alien problem at all, but the fact is she set out to attract cheap 
labor and as a result she has got Chicago." 

Professor William McDougall s "Is America Safe for Democ 
racy?" might be ignored except for the fact that it is based on 
lectures entitled "Anthropology and History, or the Influence of 
Anthropologic Constitution on the Destinies of Nations," given at 
the Lowell Institute when he was Professor of Psychology in Har 
vard University; that he cites "evidence" that our "social strati 
fication" is "positively correlated with a corresponding stratifica 
tion of innate moral and intellectual quality"; and that "the upper 
social strata as compared with the lower contain a larger pro 
portion of persons of superior natural endowments." "Every 


human being, every community of human beings, every populace, 
inherits from its ancestry a stock of innate qualities which enable 
it to enjoy, to sustain, to promote, a civilization of a certain 
degree of complexity." 

From the following we may learn Professor McDougalPs idea 
of "evidence": "The colored men of the Northern States showed 
distinct superiority to those of the South, in respect of their per 
formance in the army intelligence-tests. Have they not a larger 
proportion of white blood? I do not know, but I suspect it. ... 
We have pretty good evidence that capacity for intellectual growth 
is inborn in different degrees, that it is hereditary, and also that it 
is closely correlated with social status." Also that "just as that pe 
culiarity which enables a man to become a great mathematician (or 
a great musician) is certainly innate and hereditary, so also the de 
velopment of the highest moral character only proceeds upon the 
basis of a hitherto undefined innate and hereditary peculiarity." 

After an "it seems," Professor McDougall finds "good reason" 
to add to his "hypothesis" an "assumption," namely, that the 
"herd instinct" is relatively stronger in the Mediterranean than 
in the Nordic peoples, and that the "Nordic race" is more curious 
and less sociable t 

Alfred Edward Wiggam, in his "The New Decalogue of Sci 
ence" and "The Fruit of the Family Tree," has broadcasted more 
false views about race and civilization than any other one man. 
He is the spokesman of the Nordic faction, the silver-tongued 
champion of the eugenics cult, the popularizer of genetics par ex~ - 
cellence. He even ventures the assumption that had Jesus been 
among us he "would have been President of the First Eugenics 
Congress"! And he would re-write the Golden Rule: "Do unto 
the born and the unborn as you would have the born and the 
unborn do unto you." That, by the way, is the "biologist s con 
ception of the brotherhood of man" and "the final reconciliation 
of science and the Bible." 

Mr. "Wiggam, it need hardly be added, has no doubt about his 
"biology" when he speaks of the "integrity of the racial blood/ 
Unless we keep the blood currents of our race "rich, regnant, and 
alive," there can be "no ethics^ religion, art, democracy, idealism, 


philosophy," nor can "any other dream of man long succeed." 
Mr. Wiggam s biologic "evidence"? Certain Darwinian gener 
alizations, a microscope, sweet peas, guinea-pigs, human stud 
books, fruit flies, biometric calculations; but he "cannot present 
the highly technical proof." Why should he, when "every biol 
ogist -knows that intelligence is inherited, energy is inherited, in 
sanity is inherited, emotional possibilities are inherited, a man s in 
ner character is inherited"? And if what "every biologist knows" 
is not proof enough, the curious are invited to examine Woods* 
"Royal Families of Europe," Thorndike s twins, and the conduct 
of our Pilgrim forefathers! 

Why pile up "evidence"? Because in the past two decades we 
have admitted to America "at least two million oppressed peoples 
of other lands, of lower intellectual ability than our ten million 
or more Negroes already on hand." Because Brigham s interpre 
tation, of army intelligence tests "gives ample evidence that espe 
cially the Nordic elements of our population are being forced out 
by other races whose representatives in this country are of dis 
tinctly lower average mental alertness and of less social coherence 
and political capacity." (Wiggam, by the way, nowhere alludes 
to the fact that these same tests showed that New York State 
Negroes had a higher intelligence rating than the Nordics of Ala 
bama.) "This (Nordic race) has contributed a vast share of all 
political wisdom and scientific discovery to the modern world." 

Lothrop Stoddard s "The Rising Tide of Color" is appropriately 
introduced by Madison Grant, who presents the great Nordic 
race and Stoddard as its prophet. Certainly no fair-skinned man 
can read that introduction and not be proud of his Nordic an 
cestors. They and they alone saved civilization on four separate 
occasions, and, if that great race ever passes, civilization passes with 
itl Then what? "An unstable and bastardized population, 
where worth and merit would have no inherent right to leader 
ship and among which a new and darker age would blot out our 
racial inheritance." But that catastrophe cannot happen if the 
Nordic race will get together, shake off the shackles of its inveter 
ate altruism, discard the vain phantom of internationalism, and 
reassert the pride of race and the right of merit to rule! "Demo- 


cratic ideals among an homogeneous population of Nordic blood, 
as in England or America, is one thing, but it is quite another for 
the white man to share his blood with, or intrust his ideals to, 
brown, yellow, black, or red men/ 5 

Dr. Ellsworth Huntington assumes to be an authority on race 
and civilization problems, and, while he solves them in terms of 
climatic changes, he is also a confirmed Nordic propagandist. 
Were he not connected with Yale University, and did he not pre 
tend to set forth "fundamental facts, principles and relationships" 
fit for use in "classes in human geography, sociology, oriental and 
biblical history, and the philosophy of history," we might pass by 
his "The Pulse of Progress." "While climate in a way, according 
to Dr. Huntington, is intimately related to civilization, civiliza 
tion and race are innately related. For example, "would any 
amount of training ever make the average Chinese as good a boat 
man as the average Eskimo, or could the average Eskimo by any 
possibility be as careful and patient a farmer as the Chinese?" 
After posing other questions equally absurd, a "thoughtful an 
swer," we are led to infer, would be that there is "such thing as 
innate mental differences between one race and another"; at any 
rate "the vast majority of people believe in biological differences 
in the mentality of different races" as though such belief were 
in itself of any weight in any court of science. 

But Dr. Huntington knows that anthropologists do not believe 
in such differences. How get rid of them? By a trick worthy 
of a shifty lawyer: "The people who chiefly question this (in 
nate mental differences) are a relatively small group of scientific 
men, especially those who belong to races that are not dominant, 
and a rather large group of persons with strong philanthropic and 
religious tendencies." (Italics mine.) He is referring, of course, 
especially to Professor Franz Boas, whose "Mind of Primitive 
Man," although a classic in anthropological literature for seven 
teen years, has never, so far as I know, been mentioned by Os- 
born, Grant, McDougall, Wiggam, or Huntington. That "rel 
atively small group" presumably also includes three other leading 
American anthropologists of international reputation, Robert H. 
Lowie, Alfred L. Kroeber, and A. A. Goldenweiser. Imagine a 


Nordic physicist thumbing his nose at the hypothesis of relativity 
because propounded by a man who belongs to a race that is not 
dominant! And yet Dr. Huntington knows so little of the 
history of the Jews that he speaks of them as a "pure" stock, and 
accounts for their being the most religious nation by "a long eu 
genic process which began with the patriarchs and culminated in 

Edwin M. East is a professor in Harvard University, and by 
profession one of those geneticists who, in the words of his preface 
to his Mankind at the Crossroads," as a result of their labors 
"with fruit flies and guinea-pigs, with sweet peas and corn, with 
thousands of animals and plants, have made heredity no longer a 
mystery but an exact science to be ranked close behind physics 
and chemistry in definiteness of conception"! Professor East talks 
much of genes and chromosomes, and has no doubt of the laws 
of inheritance at least in sweet peas. There is nothing mysteri 
ous about the how of inheritance, he tells us; in fact "a superficial 
acquaintance with Mendelism is expected today of every school 
boy . . . but what the scientists appear to have neglected to tell 
the general public is how these facts [which every schoolboy 
should know] affect the human race directly and personally." 
He will tell us. 

Not only are "mental attributes inherited" but "great gaps sep 
arate the races. There are huge series of hereditary units possessed 
exclusively by each. Thus the white race has developed intellec 
tual qualities superior to the black race, though the black race can 
resist malaria much better than the -white" (Italics mine.) 

Professor East quotes McDougall with approval, and finds 
Stoddard one of the ablest writers on the "doctrine" that world 
supremacy is imperilled and that there is a very real danger of 
the colored races supplanting the white race. Therein lie the 
crossroads. The finest families are hardly replacing themselves 
the incompetents are taking their place. What is the answer? 
Not restriction of immigration but eugenics "parentage must 
not be haphazard." 

Not content with his crossroads puzzle, Professor East returns 
to the fight to save the world for the elect in his "Heredity and 


Human Affairs." "Thoughtful members of society" can get one 
version of biological determinism from "newspaper men and pro 
fessors of journalism, from certain retired lawyers and bartenders, 
from preachers and social workers, who write out of the fullness 
of their hearts"; or "another version from the works of Morgan, 
of Bateson, of Conklin, of Guyer, who write out of a fullness of 
critical experience which has made genetics a science." "Why no 
mention of Pearl or Jennings lack of critical experience? But 
he does quote "Wiggam approvingly. 

Between writing his "Crossroads" and his "Heredity" Professor 
East evidently heard of Professor Boas, for "Heredity" has a 
chapter on an analysis of Boas investigations on changes in head 
shape in the children of certain immigrants. But still no overt 
mention of "The Mind o.f Primitive Man"; only this: "Today the 
Jews retaliate by proclaiming the Nordic race a myth." 

Professor East s logic in establishing a point is typical of the 
, heredity mongers. Thus, speaking of Alain Locke s "The New 
Negro," his "wide experience in making genetic judgments" forces 
him t.o conclude that "the developed germ-plasm causing the 
making of this book is nine-tenths white at least." Or, paraphras 
ing Professor Osborn, whether Locke s skin color is authentic or 
not, his germ-plasm must be at least nine-tenths Nordic! 

Professor East not only knows how heredity works but what is 
inherited. "The physical differences between races are extraor 
dinary ... the mental differences are just as great. We cannot 
suppose that nature has produced the red man, the brown man, 
the white man, the black man, the pigmy and the giant, and has 
stopped there. No matter what value one may assign to precept 
and example in moulding the mind of man, his mentality is due 
fundamentally to his hereditary endowment, to his inborn traits"! 

And yet Professor East would dismiss with contempt anyone 
still unconvinced that genetics can solve any problem In heredity 
all is "crystal clear" except to fools and knaves. For Christian 
ity, which he characterizes as "a little geocentric universe created 
as a kind of preserve for the Hominida" he would substitute 
"something infinitely more grand and glorious," science the sci 
ence of genetics, whose proved facts are so simple and obvious 


that "there is no difficulty whatever in accounting for the emer 
gent individuals like Carlyle and Lincoln in otherwise undistin 
guished families." With genetics elevated to the rank of religion, 
we can dispense with obstetrical societies, aseptic surgery, pre 
natal clinics, certified milk stations, public hospitals, higher wages, 
slum renovation, and all such social amenities they favor the 
survival of the poor, are "unsound biologically," and nullify the 
"natural elimination of the unfit/ Nature eliminated the unfit 
why shouldn t we? Down with civilization, back to the jungle, 
and long live the new religion, genetics! 

The chief difference between these heredity mongers and the 
Ku Klux Klan is the difference between kid gloves and a night 
gown they have the same ethics. There is no problem of race 
and civilization; they know. Their only problem is salvage: how 
may the Great race, the Anglo-Saxon branch of the Nordic race, 
be saved and perpetuated in all its "purity/ with all its "genius for 
democracy" and other inherent virtues. 

In fact, between the religious prejudice of a Bryan s ignorance 
and the class prejudice of a McDougall, Grant, East, or Osborn, 
there is little to choose and less to excuse. Bryan had Genesis to 
support him, Grant has Osborn, both have McDougall, all three 
are endorsed by Wiggam, who is endorsed by East. All of them, 
by stooping to loose reasoning, easily find what they want* To 
build hypotheses on assumptions and use them as facts from which 
they can, by faulty logic, draw as much proof as they need to 
support a dogma is bad enough, but to put on blinders and deny 
observed facts is to prostitute science and put scientists in the fun 
damentalist boat. 

If these words seem harsh, let us isolate one more passage as 
typical of the "science" of the whole. Nordic group. Professor 
Osborn in his preface to the second edition of "The Passing of 
the Great Race" says: "It should be remembered also that many 
of the dark-haired, dark-eyed youths of Plattsburg and other vol 
unteer training camps are often three-fourths or seven-eighths Nor 
dic, became it only requires a single dark-eyed ancestor to lend the 
dark hair and eye color to an otherwise pure Nordic strain" 
(Italics mine.) Professor Osborn in effect says that if I, a pure 


"Anglo-Saxon of the Nordic race," marry a female of the "Med 
iterranean race," my son may have dark eyes and hair, but he will 
have the courage, loyalty, self-sacrifice and idealism of my branch 
of the Nordic race! I need hardly say that neither Davenport 
himself, nor Castle, nor Walter, nor Morgan, nor any geneticist 
who prefers his science to his infantile beliefs, would agree to such 
a conclusion or ever pretended to find any evidence for such a 
principle of inheritance. 

Or, turn to Professor Osborn s well known "Men of the Old 
Stone Age" for further light on his idea of heredity and his rea 
soning when he is forced to solve a problem in heredity. In 
trying to account for the great change in the Cro-Magnon "race" 
between the Aurignacian and Magdalenian periods, he says: "It is 
probable that in the genial climate of the Riviera these men (Cro- 
Magnon race) obtained their finest development; the country 
was admirably protected from the cold winds of the north, ref 
uges were abandoned, and game by no means scarce, to judge 
by the quantity of animal bones found in the caves. Under such 
conditions of life the race enjoyed a fine physical development 
and dispersed widely"; in fact, became "one of the finest the world 
has ever seen." 

But by the Magdalenian period this superb race had become 
something else, and Professor Osborn accounts for it by change 
in physical environment "very severe climatic conditions." But 
if mere environment change can account for a difference in cranial 
capacity as great as that between Pithecanthropus erectus and a 
modern Nordic, and a difference in stature as great as that be 
tween a Pygmy and a modern Frenchman, what becomes of hered 
ity, and what becomes of the doctrine of racial purity and the 
theory of the germ-plasm? And yet these Nordic "fans" accuse 
anthropologists of over-emphasizing environment, or sneer them 
out of court with a gesture of contempt. 


GENETICISTS give one version of heredity, says Professor East; 
bartenders, preachers, journalists, etc., another. I offer still others. 


And turn first to the biological laboratory of Johns Hopkins Uni 
versity, directed by Professor H. S. Jennings, specialist in genet 
ics, authority on heredity. 

Professor Jennings says that heredity is neither an entity nor 
a force which does anything, and that we would be better off 
without the concept. As for "unit characters" about which East 
is so certain, "there is no such thing. ... At least fifty genes 
must work together to produce a single feature such as red eye" 
in the humble fruit fly. That is, there are fifty or more separate 
ways in which an insect s eye character can be altered. Pre_dicable 
characters are extremely few. No pair of parents can be certain 
of the character of their prospective offspring. Nor is it true 
that a given set of genes must produce just one set of characters 
and no other. In other words, inheritance is not foreordained. 
"Characters are not inherited at all; certain material which will 
produce a particular character under certain conditions is in 

Knowledge of the natural history of the oyster is useless in 
predicting the behavior and social organization of ants; the natural 
history of neither enables us to predict man s behavior "only 
knowledge of the biology of man himself is relevant." Thus, as 
Jennings points out, the difference in stature between Jones and 
Smith may be due to heredity; that between the same Jones and 
Brown, to environment. 

Well, if there are no inferior races, how about the eugenic 
programme to wipe out defective germ-plasm, which in some un 
explained manner seems to have become so prevalent even inside 
the Nordic race itself? Professor Jennings thinks that possibly 
some cases of insanity belong to the small group in which the 
known number of single gene defects is so serious as to justify 
measures to stop their propagation. But the defects of such in 
dividuals, along with those with thyroid deficiency, etc., are "min 
gled with similar defects that are due primarily to environmental 
conditions, operating on special gene-combinations, so that it is 
difficult to know whether the stoppage of propagation in these 
classes gets rid of the main cause of the defects." 

As for mental characteristics, "the rules for their inheritance 


are little known." Are they innate? They "are the organism s 
reaction to the varying environment, differing under different en 
vironments." From which an outsider might infer that at least 
one outstanding geneticist knows little of the inheritance of so- 
called mental characters and thinks they are due primarily to en 

Raymond Pearl, Professor of Biology and Director of the Bio 
logic Institute of Johns Hopkins University, is also a geneticist, 
and not without honor in his own country. He maintains (in 
"The Biology of Superiority," American Mercury, November, 
1927) that the science of genetics has not yet produced a superior 
pod of beans or flock of hens. He characterizes eugenics litera 
ture as "a mingled mass of ill-grounded and uncritical sociology, 
economics, anthropology, and politics, full of emotional appeals 
to class and race prejudices, solemnly put forth as science, and 
unfortunately accepted as such by the public." Eugenics has 
fallen into disrepute "because of the ill-advised zeal with which 
some of its more ardent devotees have assigned such complex 
and heterogeneous phenomena as poverty, insanity, crime, pros 
titution, cancer, etc., to the operation of either single genes 
or to other simple and utterly hypothetical Mendelian mechan 

There is "no support to the view that the somatic (physical) 
characters of the offspring can be predicted from a knowledge 
of the somatic characters of the parents." The eugenists* claim 
that "like produces like" and that "superior people will have supe 
rior children" is contrary to the established facts of genetics and 
in the long run does the cause harm. He asks eugenics to clean 
house, and throw away the "old-fashioned rubbish which has ac 
cumulated in the attic." 

"The epoch-making achievement of genetics during the last 
quarter of a century," he declares, "is the complete, comprehen 
sive and general demonstration that heredity does not mean that 
like produces like." And yet the public teaching, legislative en 
actments, and moral fervor of the eugenists are "plainly based 
upon a pre-Mendelian genetics, as outworn and useless as the 
rind of yesterday s melon." 


In his "Differential Fertility/ 5 in the Quarterly Review of Biol 
ogy, Professor Pearl emphasizes still further his disagreement with 
* c the eugenic condemnation of whole social or economic classes," 
directly or by inference; such condemnation is "unwarranted by 
anything now known. It has yet to be demonstrated that either 
poverty or lack of membership in a social aristocracy are biolog 
ically inherited traits." 

And, finally, the dean of geneticists certainly qualified to ex 
press an opinion on the relations of genetics and human affairs- 
Professor Thomas Hunt Morgan, in his "Evolution and Genetics," 
is "inclined to think" that considerable individual differences are 
"probably" genetic. But, he insists, there is: 

... no real scientific evidence of the kind that we are familiar with 
in other animals and in plants. I will even venture to go so far as to sup 
pose that the average of the human race might be improved by eliminat 
ing a few of the extreme disorders, however they may have arisen. In 
fact, this is attempted at present on a somewhat extensive scale by the 
segregation into asylums of the insane and feeble-minded. I should 
hesitate to recommend the incarceration of all their relatives if the 
character is suspected of being recessive, or of their children if a 
dominant. . . . Least of all should we feel any assurance in deciding 
genetic superiority or inferiority as applied to whole races, by which is 
meant not races in a biological sense but social or political groups bound 
together by physical conditions, by religious sentiments, or by political 
organizations. ... If it is unjust "to condemn a whole people" . . . 
how much more hazardous is it, as some sensational writers have not 
hesitated to do, to pass judgment as to the relative inferiority or superi 
ority of different races. 

If within each human social group the geneticist finds it impossible to 
discover, with any reasonable certainty, the genetic basis of behavior, the 
problems must seem extraordinarily difficult when groups are contrasted 
with each other where the differences are obviously connected not only 
with material advantages and disadvantages resulting from location, 
climate, soil, and mineral wealth, but with traditions, customs, religions, 
taboos, conventions, and prejudices. A little goodwill might seem more 
fitting in treating these complicated questions than the attitude adopted 
by some of the modern race-propagandists. 


I offer still another version of genetics, from the physiological 
laboratory of the University of Chicago, directed by Professor 
A. J. Carlson. In his address at the Third Race Betterment Con 
ference, Professor Carlson was skeptical even of the fatter hogs 
and faster horses that have been produced by selection and con 
trolled breeding: "Have we thereby secured a better hog and a 
better horse? We know many factors that injure the individual, 
and a few that injure the race, but in our almost complete igno 
rance of the mechanisms of race improvement, we seem impotent 
on the positive side." But even if we knew how to improve the 
"race," we are still far from agreement as to the goal: "Is the 
super model of homo sapiens to be constructed on the line of a 
Mussolini, a Gandhi, an Einstein, a Dempsey, a Darwin, or a Henry 
Ford? Is he to be Vet or dry ? Should he be white, black, 
yellow, brown, pink, or gray? Should he be six or sixty feet tall? 
Should he be a more rational or a more emotional machine? Is 
he to be a pacifist or a man fitted to wage bigger and better wars? 
Are we to aim at a better co-ordinated society of masters and 
slaves or a democracy?" 

As Professor Carlson points out, man has reached his present 
state of development almost without any conscious direction 
whatsoever based on accumulated experience. We do not know 
what our forebears ate and drank and how much, nor how they 
worked, rested, and loved, and without that knowledge we are 
hardly entitled to label our way of living or our artificial environ 
ment "favorable" or "unfavorable." What is known today of 
the influence of diet, work, behavior, environment, etc., on physio 
logical processes tends merely to limit or permit full development 
of individual growth and functions, and hence is not significant in 
relation to race betterment. "The only clear instances we have 
of rapid modification of the germ plasm by experimental (drugs) 
or environmental means seem to be injurious or destructive. 
Man today is like a curious and clumsy and very ignorant child 
tinkering with the watch; will he tomorrow contrive a superior 
mechanism? The lesson for the present seems clear: The germ 
plasm can be injured; some phases of the present man-made 
environment seem to enhance such injury. Are the ablest, 


the strongest, the wisest men merely grave-diggers in disguise?" 
I offer still another version of genetics, this time from an insane 
asylum. Professor A. Myerson, neurologist and psychiatrist, au 
thor of "The Psychology of Mental Disorders," has especially in 
vestigated the question of heredity in relation to mental diseases 
and feeble-mindedness. Is feeble -mindedness inherited or "intel 
ligence"? And how about the Jukes, etc., of whom so many 
thousand pages have been written? 

The Jukes, KHikaks, etc., are bad enough, Myerson says, but 
"it has not been proved that they are really feeble-minded; nor 
even if they are feeble-minded has it been proved that they 
are typical of the bulk of cases of feeble-mindedness." While psy 
choses such as dementia prxcox and manic depressive may run 
in families, even such diseases "appear as isolated characteristics 
of one individual and cannot be linked up with mental disease 
of the family, or appear without any hereditary linking up 
which is worthy of the name. * , A few cases of three-generation 
disease are recorded, only one or two where four generations 
were mentally sick. It appears that mental disease, like physical 
disease, either destroys the stock which it attacks, or there is final 
recovery. 9 * But even if a father has a psychosis and his son or 
daughter is feeble-minded, "there is no known hereditary bond 
between the two states." 

After paying his respects to the "surprisingly omniscient way" 
certain people pass judgment on the dead as well as the quick, Dr. 
Myerson admits that he finds it hard to "evaluate individuals 
after a close study and after a long acquaintance with mental and 
physical disease. . . Much of feeble-mindedness is environmental 
in origin, much is hereditary, but the most is of unknown origin, 
and may represent the inexplainable downward movement of in 
telligence, just as genius represents its inexplainable upward move 
ment." Eugenics "needs research more than legislation. . . It 
does not yet need publicity so much as it needs scientists and scien 
tific work. . . "We are still far away from real understanding of 
the bulk of mental diseases and of feeble-mindedness, and no 
amount of statistical evaluation of improper data will bring us 



WELL, how about the far-famed "intelligence tests" made on mil 
lions of army recruits and since on millions of school children of 
various "races"? Do they not prove innate connection between 
race and intelligence, do they not definitely prove that the Great 
race is greatest in innate ability? These tests have been a mighty 
arsenal of ammunition for the heredity mongers, cited again and 
again as proof that races differ in innate mental capacity. 

But what do the tests test "intelligence" ? What is intelli 
gence? "Whatever it is, the outstanding fact brought out in the 
tests is that it is astoundingly scarce. Why this is so is well 
put by Dr. Myerson. Few people, comparatively speaking, are 
really interested in matters beyond their immediate concerns, or 
have any intellectual interest at all. Most people lead a parochial 
existence, absorbed in their own problems of livelihood, sex, and 
pleasure. They read little beyond the innately interesting things, 
and avoid real mental exertion. They forget readily the frag 
ments of culture which reached them in school and which bob 
up now and then in newspaper and magazine. And yet, while 
the average adult may "rank lower in "intelligence" than a bright 
child, he "ranks much higher in qualities that tests cannot evalu 
ate experience in life, sober judgment, special efficiency, etc." 

And that is just what the tests do not test ability to learn 
from experience. 

The tests may furnish samples of knowledge, but there is no 
way whereby inborn capacity for intelligent behavior can be 
directly measured. At best they can only give a measure of be 
havior. Any test, to serve as measure of innate capacity, must 
be made on individuals who have been subjected to the same social 
environment. The really significant thing brought out in the 
army tests was the enormous variation in the same "racial" strains 
and amongst individuals of practically the same environment. 
What they have not shown is that there is anything in the ana 
tomical make-up, physiological processes, or chromosomes of a 
son of the chief of the Mano Nera of Catania which will pre- 

dispose him, on the East Side of New York or the West Side of 
Chicago, to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious parent. That 
such a youth at the age of twenty, reared in a New York or Chi 
cago Little Italy atmosphere, should not rate highly in an examina 
tion paper prepared by a one hundred per cent American school 
teacher, is to be expected. Whatever the tests showed, they did 
not measure capacity to learn, and they are therefore, so far as 
criteria of innate "racial" capacity are concerned, worthless. 


THE last version of genetics the problem of innate relation of 
race and civilization I shall offer, is that of the anthropologists, 
of those whose life business it is to study mankind in the making, 
rnan*s genetic history, his cultural achievements. Are these two 
necessarily related? 

Professor A. C. Haddon of Cambridge University, in "The 
Races of Man," says: "A classification based on culture may be 
of interest to the sociologist, but it is obviously one which can 
have no prime importance in regard to genetic relationship, though 
it may indicate the influence of peoples upon one another. There 
is no such thing as racial culture. The culture of any given peo 
ple is primarily dependent upon their mode of life, which is in 
itself largely an expression of geographical conditions." 

With that dictum, I need hardly add, I am in complete agree 
mentas are, I believe, practically all living anthropologists. 
Professor Haddon is not of the, or a, non-dominant "race"; he be 
longs to the "Anglo-Saxon branch of the Nordic Race"! 

Professor Franz Boas, in the chapter on Race Problems in the 
United States in his "Mind of Primitive Man," specifically raises 
the question as to how far the undesirable traits that are today 
found in our Negro population are innate, and how far they are 
due to social surroundings for which we are responsible. In 
answer to that question he emphasizes the fact, known to every 
ethnologist, that the culture of the African Negroes is that of a 
healthy primitive people with much personal initiative, talent for 
organization, and with imaginative power, technical skill, and 


thrift. "Neither is a warlike spirit absent in the race, as is proved 
by the mighty conquerors who overthrew states and founded 
new empires, and by the courage of the armies that follow the 
bidding of their leaders. There is nothing to prove that licen 
tiousness, shiftless laziness, lack of initiative, are fundamental 
characteristics of the race. Everything points out that these qual 
ities are the result of social conditions rather than of hereditary 

Boas thinks, however, that there may be differences in the mental 
make-up of the Negro and other races. But there is "no evidence 
whatever that would stigmatize the Negro as of weaker build, 
or as subject to inclinations and powers that are opposed to our 
social organization. An unbiassed estimate of the anthropolog 
ical evidence so far brought forward does not permit us to coun 
tenance the belief in a racial inferiority which would unfit an 
individual of the Negro race to take his part in modern civiliza 
tion. . . In short, there is every reason to believe that the Negro, 
when given facility and opportunity, will be perfectly able to 
fulfil the duties of citizenship as well as his white neighbor." 

In an article on "The Question of Racial Purity" in the Amer 
ican Mercury, Professor Boas insists even more strongly that "no 
body has ever given satisfactory proof of an inherent inequality 
of races." 

Professor Robert E. Lowie states his opinion as to the existence 
of innate racial capacity thus: "As to the existence of superior 
races, I am an agnostic open to conviction. All evolutionists ad 
mit that at some point an organic change of fundamental signifi 
cance occurred. It is conceivable that the Bushmen and Negritos, 
Pygmies and Negroes are organically below the remainder of liv 
ing human types, and that differences of one sort or another even 
divide more closely related stocks." 

Between Boas* "nobody has ever given satisfactory proof," or 
Lowie s "it is conceivable" and the flat-footed assertions of those 
who assume to know races as such and to classify them according 
to innate virtues or traits, there is not the difference between Twee 
dledum and Tweedledee but a gulf. That gulf is so wide that, 
it may confidently be asserted, no one yet has definitely and con- 


clusively associated, either for individual or for race, any innate 
connection between physical structure and cultural trait or "men 
tal faculty/* 

Physical features are, within certain limits, heritable traits, and 
something is known of the laws which govern their transmission. 
Such innate factors are rooted in biology, the same for man as for 
other species of animals. To classify mankind by the way they 
look, or by their physical features or anatomical traits, is one 
thing; to classify men by what they do is an entirely different 
thing. As the behavior of an individual depends, certainly in 
some measure, upon the training he receives at the hands of par 
ents, playmates, teachers, and social environment in general, so the 
cultural behavior of families, groups, tribes, and nations is de 
pendent upon historic and psychological factors never in any way 
proved to be heritable traits. 

Indeed there is no evidence that man s capacity to learn human 
behavior has increased in the slightest since he definitely left the 
trees and became man. During that long period, variously reck 
oned from 50,000 to 250,000 years, due to factors little under 
stood as yet, fairly distinct physical types have come to be formed 
in different parts of the world, physical types marked by varying 
proportions of anatomical features, character of hair, pigmentation 
of skin and eye, etc. Human culture has varied from one genera 
tion to another. Just as every normal newborn "Nordic," Jew, 
or Negro born in New York City in 1928 inherits in general the 
features of his near ancestors, so he is heir to a culture environ 
ment or stage of civilization unlike anything the world has seen 
before. What that youngster will be twenty, forty, or sixty years 
hence, no one can possibly predict, because no one can possibly 
predict the social and conditioning factors which will play upon 
him and to which he will learn to respond, not because of his 
physical inheritance but because of his common human inheritance 
of a capacity to learn any human language or culture. 

The outstanding fact about human beings is individual varia 
tion of physical type. Equally striking is the capacity of every 
normal newborn to learn or acquire human behavior. Why one 
individual of a family, or why one family in a group of families 


more or less closely related by blood, achieves different results 
culturally, is a problem that is yet far from solution, but the pri 
mary factors in that problem seem to be psychologic rather than 
biologic. That is to say, so far as we know at the present time, 
the factors which make for, say, a given state of culture among 
the aborigines of Australia at any given time are the incidence of 
geographic and physical environment and the antecedent historic 
and psychologic factors which made that culture what it is. 
What any individual, family, or physical type could or would do 
under different geographic and social environmental conditions 
is something which no one at present is warranted in asserting 
dogmatically. Conceivably , the Australian, or the Bushman, Ne 
grito, or Pygmy, for any evidence we have to the contrary, could 
learn to behave like a Nordic if he were reared in a Nordic en 
vironment. What is too often left out of account is that the 
Nordic social environment makes it difficult, if not impossible, for 
the alleged inferior to develop to the fullest his innate capacity. 

THERE is no such thing as racial culture or Nordic civilization. 
Is there such a thing as race or Nordic race? Obviously, Nordic, 
Alpine, Caucasian, Mongolian, etc., are merely abstract terms, con 
venient, as Haddon says, only to the extent that they help us 
appreciate broad facts. C A race type exists mainly in our own 
minds." What are the "broad facts"? 

Of the dozens of attempted classifications of man by anatom 
ical traits, no two agree. Presumably never will agree, because 
there are no outstanding, sharply defined physical traits by which 
groups of mankind can be partitioned off from one another. To 
classify human beings by shape of head is one thing, by stature 
another, by pigmentation of skin or eyes another, by color and 
character of hair still another. Any classification made on- any 
one of these traits is to classify mankind by such a trait and by no 
other. But there is always overlapping. "When the attempt is 
made to classify man by a combination of two or more of these 
traits, hopeless confusion results. When the attempt is made to 


combine as many as five physical traits, the proportion o "pure 3 * 
types becomes, as Ripley says, almost infinitesimal. "We are 
thus reduced to the extremity in which my friend, Dr. Ammon 
of Baden, found himself, when I wrote asking for photographs of 
a pure Alpine type from the Black Forest. He has measured 
thousands of heads, and yet he answered that he really had not been 
able to find a perfect specimen in all details. All his round- 
headed men were either blond, or tall, or narrow-nosed, or some 
thing else that they ought not to be. 55 

Possibly the difficulty in finding a satisfactory classification of 
man on the basis of heritable traits is because the influence of en 
vironment on innate structure is not yet known. We do not 
yet know why men vary in stature, in amount of pigmentation, 
in head form, etc., nor how permanent are such variations. No 
anthropologist has succeeded in isolating a pure race or type, 
presumably because there is no such thing. Hence the probabil 
ity that races in a strict sense of the term do not exist, or if they 
did once, cannot be distinguished because of inter-breeding. 

But there are pronounced differences between, for example, the 
tall blond of Northern Europe and the diminutive Pygmy of 
Africa, or between the European in general and the native of 
Australia. Why they differ, or the extent to which these differ 
ences would persist under changed environment, is not known; 
nor, I repeat, is any inherent connection between these physical dif 
ferences and psychologic or cultural abilities known. 

Only in a very limited sense, then, can we say that "racial in 
heritance" has any significance. Traits common to every indi 
vidual of a race, and which set him off from every individual 
of other races, may be spoken of as hereditary racial traits. Thus 
we may speak of the black skin and kinky hair of the Afri 
can Negro as hereditary racial traits. All Negroes have these 
traits. But shape of head and size of brain cannot be spoken of 
as traits which set off Negroes from Whites, because there is great 
overlapping amongst the two groups in these respects. Such 
overlapping of types found everywhere today is presumably due 
to intermixture, but we are not, as Boas points out, on that ac 
count entitled to assume that extreme physical types represent 


pure races. Thus the classification of Europeans into Northern 
or Nordic, Central or Alpine, and Southern or Mediterranean, in 
no sense represents races but merely extreme forms of three phys 
ical characters: stature, skin color, and head form. The extremes 
of these forms are not typical of a "race," much less of a pure 
race; they are only the extremes in an unbroken series from 
the North to the South of Europe. Anyone not content with 
three European races can have thirty-three, or in fact as many as he 

The argument put forth by our racial purity propagandists 
falls to the ground. There is no evidence for pure races, no 
evidence that the extreme forms of any type represent the purest, 
nor any evidence for the assumption that inter-breeding of dif 
ferent types in any respect lowers their capacity for culture or 
civilization. Nowhere does the ethnologist find evidence of cor 
relation of racial achievement and supposed race purity; nor is 
there any substantial proof of inherent lack of mentality or capac 
ity for intelligence in any race or racial type. On the contrary, 
all that we know of human history makes the claim for racial 
inferiority seem improbable. 

Race and civilization, then, are not interchangeable terms. No 
classification of mankind by blood will coincide with classification 
by language or culture. No one language or culture belongs 
to any distinct physical type. Hence every attempt to classify 
mankind from a combined physical and cultural or linguistic point 
of view has failed, and must inevitably fail. 

Perhaps the best known attempt to combine blood and culture 
is the classification of F. Miiller, who, basing his classification 
on hair, discovered .two great races (woolly-haired and straight- 
haired), and within these, minor divisions based on linguistics. 
But as the laws governing the inheritance of language and culture 
are based on psychologic and historic factors, and the laws which 
govern physical inheritance are biologic, his classification has only 
historic interest. 

Early classifications of mankind were geographical a race to 
a continent. Thus Linnaeus found four varieties of man: Euro 
pean White, Asiatic Yellow, American Red, and African Black. 


Blumenbach (1775) added a fifth: the Oceanic or Brown. That 
was the classification which I learned in school, and is still em 
bodied in our Federal laws as Caucasian, Mongolian, Ethiopian, 
American, Malayan. Cuvier (1800) hung his three "races" on 
the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 

Thereafter it was a perpetual open season for race hunting, with 
widely varying results. Haeckel could only find twelve races in 
1873, kut a f ew " years later succeeded in finding thirty-four. 
Topinard found sixteen in 1878, and a few years later discovered 
three more. Deniker also had difficulty with his count, but in 
1900 decided there were six "grand divisions," seventeen "divi 
sions," and twenty-nine "races." Why these differences? Be 
cause, as Blumenbach had observed, "the innumerable varieties of 
mankind run into one another by insensible degrees"; because, as 
Pritchard in his "Natural History of Man" said, "the different 
races of man are not distinguishable from each other by strongly 
marked and permanent distinctions. All the diversities which exist 
are variable, and pass into each other by insensible gradations." 

Races do not exist; classifications of mankind do. And 
Kroeber s, in his "Anthropology," or Haddon s, in his "The Races 
of Man," are as good as any^ and have the merit of being up to 

Personally, the simple scheme proposed by Boas many years ago 
is the classification I like best. It is easily remembered and re 
quires no stretch of the imagination. Boas finds two great forms 
or groups of the human species in which skin color, shape of hair, 
form of face and nose, and body proportions, are characteristically 
distinct. The Negroid, represented geographically as the Indian 
Ocean, is contrasted with the Mongoloid, or Pacific Ocean group. 
The Negroid form is dark-skinned, frizzly-haired, flat-nosed, as 
opposed to the light-skinned, straight-haired, high-nosed Mon 
goloid division. Boas does not pretend, of course, that these two 
groups represent pronounced and sharply contrasted forms of 
humanity, or that there are not individuals in one group that in 
certain respects differ more from their own group than from some 
of those in the opposite group. The Mongoloid group is found in 
both Americas, Asia, and Europe; the Negroid in Africa, and pre- 


sumably once in the whole of Southern Asia and the islands on 
the West side of the Indian Ocean. 

Outside of these two great divisions of mankind are certain pro 
nounced physical types, such as the North Europeans, the Austra 
lians, and the Pygmies, but how they are genetically related to one 
or the other of the two main groups of mankind is not known. 
Europeans differ in pigmentation from the Negroid more than 
from the Mongoloid type, but in form of hair, proportions of 
body, and form of eye and cheeks, are not so different from the 
Negroid as from the Mongoloid. The Australian natives in certain 
respects are rather sharply set off from the rest of mankind, and 
possibly represent a type differentiated early in the history of the 
human race. The Pygmy people are found irregularly distributed 
in many parts of Africa, the Andaman Islands, Malay Peninsula, 
the Philippines, and New Guinea, and in early times were possibly 
more widely distributed. They form in themselves a distinct, 
definite, and wholly unsolved problem in thfe genesis of the hu 
man species. 

Europeans presumably came into their physical characteristics 
in Europe or nearby Asia. But the difference between the skin color 
of the European and the Mongoloid group is neither so pronounced 
as is commonly supposed nor so common as to make it a distin 
guishing mark of race. Many Asiatics have a skin quite as white 
as the average European. Boas has even found among the Haida 
Indians of British Columbia, white skins, brownish red hair, and 
light brown eyes. The Indian tribes of the Upper Mississippi 
had also a very light complexion, yet the Yuma Indians of 
Southern California are often as dark in skin color as the lighter 
skinned Negroes. Thus the most we can say is that the very light- 
skinned European represents an extreme variant of pigment de 
ficiency, in itself characteristic of the whole Mongoloid group. 
While blond hair is not found among the Mongoloids, yet red 
dish brown hair is common. The European nose varies among 
Europeans, and in line with similar variants in the Mongoloid 
group. From these and other considerations Boas believes the 
European type to represent nothing more than a recent specializa 
tion of the Mongoloid group. 


If no definite innate connection between physical type and cul 
tural capacity can be discovered, and if there is no agreement as 
to the genetic relationship of the varying physical types of man 
kind, it seems hardly worth while to inquire whether some races 
or types are, anatomically speaking, lower than others; yet inas 
much as it is a favorite diversion of certain geneticists to arrange 
races according to the supposed distance from their animal ancestor, 
let us see what basis there is in observed fact for the existence of 
"higher" and "lower" races. 

The real point brought out by all such graded series is that 
the gap between man in general and his anthropoid progenitor is 
wide, but qualitative rather than quantitative. The Negro, to be 
sure, has a broad and flat nose and a protruding jaw, which seems 
to bring him nearer the anthropoid than the European. But while 
the European and the Mongoloid have the largest brains, the Euro 
pean shares with the native Australian the doubtful honor of re 
maining the hairiest of the human race, a peculiarly animal-like 
trait. The red lip, one of our most human characteristics, is most 
strongly developed in the Negro. Again, in proportion of limbs 
the Negro is most human that is, has diverged most from ape 
like forms. 

In other words, divergence from animal ancestor has developed 
in varying directions in varying types. Such differences are at 
best purely anatomical. We have no reason to infer that they 
have anything to do with "mental faculty." We have been mis 
led by associating features that seem to us brutish, with brutality. 
Karl Pearson, after extended inquiry into the whole subject, ex 
pressed his conviction that there is little relation between physical 
and psychical characters in man. Nor could Manouvrier, the 
great French anatomist, discover any direct connection between 
anatomical characteristics and iriental ability. 

How about size of brain? True, whatever difference there is 
between Europeans and Mongoloids or Negroids favors in general 
the Europeans, but this difference in itself is no proof of increase 
in ability. If the majority of eminent men have had large brains, 
so too have the majority of murderers. Some of the most eminent 
men of Europe have had very small brains. Dr. Franklin Mall, 


who specially investigated brain weights, concluded that, because 
of the great variability of individuals of each race, racial differ 
ences, if they exist, are exceedingly difficult to discover. But even 
if we could assume that ability is inherent in brain capacity, the 
most we could say is that the European is likely to produce more 
men of commanding genius than the African. As a matter of 
fact, there is no distinct gap between European and Negro brains. 
They distinctly overlap in size; only in Europe there are a few who 
reach a size not found in Africa. We have neither anatomical nor 
psychological evidence that the European or so-called white race is 
physically the highest type of man. 

As for the three alleged European races Nordic, Alpine, and 
Mediterranean they simply do not exist other than as abstract 
conveniences. The Alpine type, for example, includes such diverse 
languages and cultures as French, German, Italian, and Slav. 
There is good reason to believe that these peoples are related in 
blood and sprang from common ancestors; today they are far 
apart in language and culture. 

How, then, can we account for the fact that the European has 
developed a civilization which has encompassed the globe and 
which makes all other civilizations appear fundamental or in a state 
of arrested development? And if the culture of the European is 
superior to all others, why is it not because of innate capacity? 

The ethnologist, familiar through long personal contact with so- 
called savages, and accustomed to view his own civilization objec 
tively and hence more or less unemotionally, has no difficulty in 
seeing the fallacy implicit in such questions as I have just posed. 
And is grateful when a philosopher comes to his aid, as does Pro 
fessor John Dewey, in saying that "the present civilized mind is 
virtually taken as a standard and the savage mind is measured off 
on this fixed scale. It is no wonder that the outcome is negative: 
that primitive mind is described in terms of "lack/ absence*; its 
traits are incapacities/* Then there was the visitor to a savage tribe 
who wrote of its Manners and Customs: "Customs, beastly; Man 
ners, none. 5 * 

The fallacy I spoke of above is in the "lack," "absence." I 
may lack a dress suit: that does not necessarily mean I cannot af- 


ford one or cannot learn to wear one; it may only mean that I j 
Bang of the Cannibal Islands, have no need or desire for a dre 
suit or having seen one, devoutly hope Customs and Manne] 
will never force me or my kind into one. 

The answer to the why of present white supremacy must b 
sought in a historic review of human achivement. We cannot as 
sign dates to the beginnings of human culture. Even in the re 
mote past there were certain fundamental inventions and begin 
nings of culture known to all peoples. 

Only a few thousand years ago we find types of culture ap 
proximating civilization beginning to develop on an extensive seal 

in Asia. In the course of time these higher types of culture o 

civilization fluctuated, moved about from one people to anothei 
Civflization seemed to ebb and flow, now here, now there. At tin 
.dawn of recorded history the contrast between so-called civilkec 
peoples and savage peoples was about as sharp as it is today. Bu 
throughout this vast land area there was constant conflict, civilizec 
peoples often being vanquished only to have their culture taker 
up and carried on by their conquerors, as was the case with th< 
Mongol Manchu conquerors of China. Centres of civilizatior 
shifted from one part of Asia to another. Meanwhile, the an 
cestors of modern Europeans possessed culture in no wise supe 
rior to that of primitive man, or of savage man today who has not 
yet come in contact with modern civilization. 

What was the origin of this ancient Asiatic civilization? Does 
it indicate a special kind of genius or any special innate capacity? 
Seemingly not. The peoples of Asia were fortunate in their social 
environment. Asiatic civilization was the product of the genius 
of no one people; each contributed something toward general prog 
ress and the general fund. The more we know of the history of 
this civilization, the more abundant become the proofs that cul 
ture was disseminated from one people to another whenever and 
wherever tribes or nations came in contact, neither race nor lan 
guage nor distance limiting the diffusion of culture. Hamitic, 
Semitic, Aryan, and Mongol alike made invaluable contributions, 
each offering of its genius. 

Meanwhile, on the more isolated continent of America, in at 


least three centres, a high culture developed. In the highlands 
of Peru and Mexico, and in the Ohio Valley, we find highly de 
veloped political organizations and elaborate divisions of labor 
and an intricate organization. Huge public works requiring the 
co-operation of master minds and swarms of people were under 
taken and successfully carried through. Many animals and plants 
extremely valuable to man were domesticated; the art of writing 
was invented. 

As Professor A. C. Tozzer, in his "Social Origins and Social Con 
tinuities," says: "The Maya calendar functioned without the loss 
of a day for 2000 years, until it was broken up by Spanish priests. 
Marginal corrections were applied to take care of the variation in 
the year and the true solar year a means more accurate than 
our method of leap year. It was not until 1582 that the Julian 
day was invented, which corresponds to the Maya day count 
2000 years after the same principle had been adopted by the 

The ancient civilization of the New is not the ancient civiliza 
tion of the Old World, but its general status was almost as high. 
There were differences, but the nature of these differences is es 
sentially the same as that between the ancient Asiatic and the 
ancient European culture simply a difference in time. One 
reached a certain stage a few hundred or a few thousand years in 
advance of the other. Natural causes, in which we may include 
the vast land area and a more abundant natural supply of animals, 
especially the horse, cow, elephant, and dromedary, and plants 
suitable for domestication these seem to have been the chief fac 
tors which predetermined that the development of human culture 
was to make more rapid progress in the Old than in the New 
"World. There is nothing strange in the course of such a race for 
cultural supremacy. Europe alone in the last two thousand years 
furnishes innumerable parallels, not only in one people arriving 
at a destination sooner than another, but in the phenomenon so 
often presented in Asia two or three thousand years ago, of the van 
of progress being assumed now by one people, now by another. 
Thus the lead in civilization has been held by Greece, Rome, 
Byzantine, Bulgaria, the Moors, Portugal, Spain, France, and Hoi- 


land, to go no further. Of two children born at the same time, 
the difference in their progress by the age of fifty is likely to be 
much greater than the difference between them at the age of ten; 
and in each case it is possible generally to evaluate the factors 
which accelerate or retard their development, rather than to ac 
count for them by hereditary or innate inferior or superior capac 

Applying this argument to human history, we are justified in 
concluding that, considering the vast age of the human species, 
a difference of a few centuries in becoming what we call "civ 
ilized* is to be accounted for on purely historical grounds, and 
not on any real or fancied innate capacity. 

But, it may be argued, when we contrast modern European civ 
ilization with that of the primitive peoples of Africa and the peo 
ples of other areas equally backward, we find a difference more 
fundamental than can be accounted for by the mere element of 
time. I can find no valid ground on which to base this argument. 
Modern competition that is, the clash between the European, who 
has objectified and perfected his methods of warfare and trans 
portation, and primitive peoples is along unfair lines; primitive 
man cannot compete with the power of the white man s machine. 
Further, primitive tribes in certain parts of the world, as in Amer 
ica and Siberia, have been swamped by the crowds of alien white 
immigrants they have had no time to assimilate. The average 
American Indian had no more chance of holding his own against 
the Europeans than had the Chinese armies a few years 
ago, equipped with bow and arrows, against the bullets of the 

In short, a peculiar sequence of historical causes has had in 
finitely more to do in furthering the rapid growth of civilization 
amongst some people than amongst others; and this growth is 
due to these historical causes rather than to innate faculty. 

Even granting as we must the actual cultural superiority of the 
Whites or Europeans, the weakness of the argument for correla 
tion of race faculty and civilization becomes apparent when we 
try to evaluate the relative parts played in culture history by the 
several divisions of the European or Caucasian race. Thus Kroeber 


would award the palm to the Mediterranean branch for its long- 
continued lead in productivity and having reared the largest por 
tion of the structure of existing civilization: 

To it belonged the Egyptians; the Cretans and other ^geans; the Semitic 
strain in the Babylonians; the Phoenicians and Hebrews; and a large element 
in the populations of classic Greece and Italy, as well as the originators 
of Mohammedanism. With the Hindus added as probably nearly related, 
the dark whites have a clear lead. 

The next largest share civilization would owe to the Alpine-Armenoid 
broad-headed Caucasian branch. This may have included the Sumemns, 
if they were not Mediterranean; comprised the Hittites; and contributed 
important strains to the other peoples of Western Asia and Greece and 

By comparison, the Nordic branch looms insignificant. Up to a thou 
sand years ago the Nordic peoples had indeed contributed ferment and 
unsettling, but scarcely a single new culture element, certainly not a new 
element of importance and permanence. For centuries after that, the 
centre of European civilization remained in Mediterranean Italy or Alpine 
France. It is only after A. D. 1500 that any claim for a shift of this 
centre to the Nordic populations could be alleged. In fact, most of 
the national and cultural supremacy of the Nordic peoples, so far as it 
is real, falls within the last two hundred years. Against this, the Med 
iterraneans and Alpines have a record of leading in civilizational crea- 
tiveness for at least six thousand years. 

I am in entire accord with Tozzer s conclusions that: 

There is no present evidence, physical, psychological, or cultural, to 
prove that contemporaneous savages are fundamentally different in mind, 
body, or estate from the sophisticated human product of civilization. 
The savage is "bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh-" He is, in short, 
a "poor relation, but our own." . . . 

Savages the world over have come to possess in some form every basic 
institution of civilized society. There is no reason to believe that they 
owe such social institutions to precept, example, or imitation of the so- 
called "Higher Cultures." On the contrary, these "Higher Cultures" 
owe much to the institutions from which they have been derived. . . . 

The evolution of institutions may, like physical life, have had many 
mutations. . . . They are characterized by many spontaneous growths, 
individual creations of life-forms (the product of the workings of the 


mind). , . . Similarity of nomenclature does not always mean either 
identity o structure or a common history. 

The savage in his customs and social organization manifests a genius 
for diversification, a skill in practical adaptation, and a willingness and 
often a surprising ability to modify and to improve which make it unsafe 
to assume that primitive man is either stagnant or degenerate. Any 
modern group of savages with health and unmolested by the grosser 
benefits of civilization may have the potentiality to work out for itself 
an abundant spiritual and material enrichment. 

All of the defects behind the so-called irrational follies of the savage, 
evidenced in superstition, credulity, suspicion, and vanity, are the common 
inheritance of all mankind. The same psychological principles are behind 
the same psychological weaknesses both in savage and in civilized life. 
They are actively functioning among the ignorant of the civilized peoples 
and are by no means atrophied in those human groups which have been 
most constantly exposed to education. . . . 

If we compare the relation between opportunity and achievement of 
the savage and of his more cultured brother, we soon realize that, from 
this point of view, our superiority is very doubtful. The complexity of 
institutions is not a measure of their validity, nor is the multiplication 
of inventive devices a true criterion of progress. 

The savage is a rational being, morally sound, and in every respect 
worthy of a place in the "Universal Brotherhood of Man." 

For "savages" read Hottentots, Chinese, Japanese, Russians, 
Sicilians, Mexicans, Greeks, Jews, Choctaws, and I am still in com 
plete accord. 

In conclusion, then, we may say that judgments of cultural 
capacity or, specifically, the capacity to enter into American 
civilization based on the known contribution of this or that race 
to civilization, or judgments of races through sampling of individ 
uals in so-called intelligence tests, are inconclusive and for practical 
purposes worthless. Nor have we any reason to believe that fur 
ther mixture with our present sub-stratum by immigrants from any 
part of Europe or Asia will destroy the integrity of our race, 
hybridize it, or in any way lower it. Such racial mixtures as we 
have in America today are in no essential different from race mix 
tures which have been going on for thousands of years in Europe 


and Asia, and which we have no reason to believe have ever re 
sulted in inferior races or in breaking up civilization. 

Our problems, then, are not those of race and civilization, but 
of too little understanding and too much prejudice. Result: too 
many aliens in our midst socially unadjusted. Answer: less race 
phobia, more intelligent understanding of the nature of civiliza 
tion. Like human behavior, civilization is made and not born. 
Like life itself, it must be nourished day by day, ceaselessly, with 
new energy and new materials, or it sickens and dies. 




VARIOUS notable attempts have been made during tlie 
past two thousand years and more to understand and ex 
plain man s religious life; but these have been rare and in 
conspicuous compared with the heated polemics of convinced fac 
tions, engaged in attacks and defense. When I was a boy, among 
the protagonists were Matthew Arnold, Huxley, Tyndall, Inger- 
soll, Gladstone, Bradlaugh, Beecher, Horace Bushnell each after 
his kind. There was Emerson, and some recollection of Theodore 
Parker. All these did their part in keeping religious issues alive 
and in shifting them somewhat from their old moorings. Lecky s 
"History of Rationalism" and his "History of Morals" furnished 
hitherto neglected material for a reconsideration of the actual 
record of Christian leaders. Henry C. Lea had issued his story 
of priestly celibacy to be followed by many stately volumes which 
amounted to an arraignment of the Mediaeval Church based on a 
terrific accumulation of first-hand information. But all these 
seem now far-off echoes of a remote past, if one happens to be 
reading the newer books on religion. 

The intellectual climate in which religious beliefs and practices 
must hold their own underwent a sharp and surprising alteration 
in the early twentieth century. New, or previously over-looked, 
information about man, his origin and proclivities, his ancient 
ways and his observable habits in various stages of culture, prom 
ised to explain, or at least recast, the whole estimate of religious 
phenomena. Considerations which could not have occurred to 



Arnold, Huxley, Lecky, and Lea have now become fundamental, 
It is to this astonishing revolution wrought by science rather than 
by theological controversy, that we propose to turn our atten 
tion. But first some general reflections on the current use of the 
words "religion" and "religious" are called for. 

Almost everyone takes his own religion for granted, and only 
in rather exceptional circumstances does he bother much about 
its contrasts with other forms of belief. But to affirm that one 
has no religion would not only seem shocking but downright un 
intelligible to most of our fellow citizens. It is a common, but 
by no means novel, feature of our times for those who have lost 
faith in the older tenets to construct a new religion "to put in its 
place." Their inventors and converts bereaved of their former 
comforts take to themselves a younger and fairer spouse. Marxism 
has become a religion for many who have no slightest patience 
with the older foundations of faith. This has been most inter 
estingly and acutely shown by Max Eastman. C. E. Ayres even 
suspects that Science is being taken for a new religion, although 
a false Messiah in the way of betraying the multitudes with base 
less hopes. 

Books on reconstruction of religion flow in an even stream 
from the presses. The newer varieties usually turn on how much 
can be retrieved from the desolation wrought in old convictions 
by increasing knowledge. They ask what can an intelligent per 
son continue to cling to in the way of comforting purposefulness 
in this universe of ours. I have on my desk a tiny volume called 
"Troasm," written by a Middlesex schoolmaster, who for pruden 
tial reasons would not have his name revealed. I will quote his 
opening sentences as pertinent to this discussion: 

"There is an ancient anecdote, almost threadbare with service, 
of a disputant who closed his argument with the aphorism that 
all sensible men professed the same religion; adding, when asked 
what that religion might be, that no sensible man would ever 
tell." This has been the attitude of a good many thoughtful peo 
ple in earlier times. The writer continues: "There can have been 
few periods in the world s history when the need for a religion that 
would stabilize and comfort mankind was felt more deeply or 


more universally than now. Organized creeds seem, to the ma 
jority of men, to have had their trial,- with almost everything in 
their favor for so long a tine that their failure to influence even 
the surface of the conduct of mankind places them out of court 
as possible foundations for the religion of the. future." 

The writer finds no churches in Great Britain whose honest and 
orthodox adherents number more than "an entirely negligible 
percentage of the population, and it is possible to assert in almost 
any company, without fear of contradiction, that heresy is now 
a social duty." The writer of "Troasm" holds that "there must 
be a religion in the world that, indeed, if civilization is not to 
fall to pieces, there must henceforth be religion infinitely more 
intense and universal than any the world has yet known." I have 
quoted these passages as a sort of text. So far as the United 
States is concerned I suspect there is still a far wider acceptance 
of the older religious beliefs than the writer finds in England, 
but certainly to judge from the church notices in the newspapers^ 
"partisans of all the churches are even now shouting from the 
house tops that the supreme want of the world is religion." 

New religions perpetuate many old mystic assumptions and 
a good deal of respect for tradition witness one of the most 
conspicuous, Christian Science. In the case of "The Creator 
Spirit, a Survey of Christian Doctrine in the light of Biology, 
Psychology and Mysticism," by Canon Raven, we may find, ac 
cording to The Churchman, that "the frankest and fullest knowl 
edge revealed by modern science is only an aid to the deeper re 
liance upon the spirit of God." Certainly the wonders of the 
universe are becoming every day more numerous and impressive, 
so that, if one is sure that God made it, the more startling in 
stances that can be unearthed of his skill, the surer one is that 
one is right. This is however no new; enterprise. The old 
Bridgewater treatises of nearly a century ago proposed to illus 
trate and confirm by the scientific knowledge of the time "the 
power, wisdom and goodness of God, as manifested in his crea 
tion." One of these volumes boldly explains "The adaptation of 
Nature to the Moral and Intellectual Constitution of Man." 


So it seems agreed that a religion is something fundamentally 
essential to human welfare. But what is religion? 


THE word religion is perhaps the vaguest of all the important 
nouns in our language. Innumerable pathetic efforts have been 
made to define the most indefinite of terms. Benjamin Kidd in 
his "Social Evolution" busied himself by collecting definitions of 
religion, from Seneca to Dr. Martineau. Kant says that religion 
consists in our recognizing all our duties as Divine commands? 
while Ruskin declares: "Our national religion is the performance 
of Church ceremonies, and preaching of soporific truths (or un 
truths) to keep the mob quietly at work while we amuse ourselves/ 5 
Huxley and John Stuart Mill, not reckoning any more with God, 
still liked the word Religion and found it to be reverence and 
love for ideal conduct and our efforts to pursue it during our 
life. Alexander Bain, following a new trail, says that "The re 
ligious sentiment is constituted by the Tender Emotion, together 
with Fear, and the Sentiment of the Sublime." Solomon Reinach, 
reaching far back into primitive religious practices, defines re 
ligion as Un ensemble de scrupules qui font obstacle an libre ex- 
ercice de nos facnltes which, as a critic remarked, would describe 
a university board of trustees just as well. 

All these definitions are about as individual and personal as 
the portraits of the men who forged them* So far as Europe 
and the United States are concerned all religious people, and most 
irreligious ones, would concur fundamentally in Dr. Martineau s 
view that "Religion is a belief in an everlasting God; that is, a 
Divine mind and will, ruling the Universe, and holding moral 
relations with mankind." God is to be feared, praised, wor 
shipped, beseeched and obeyed. We do his will when we attend 
the ceremonies prescribed by the particular church to which we 
belong. Certain forms of sacrifice, fasting, and penitence are 
deemed pleasing to God and essential to the soul s welfare. It is 
the duty of Christians to follow the straight and narrow way of 


salvation described in the New Testament, through belief in their 
Saviour. They are commanded to love their neighbors as them 
selves and neighbors are those who hold the true faith. All 
these things would be commonly accepted as salient features of 
religion in Christian lands. 

So much for the attempts to define religion. Would it not 
be better in the interest of clarity to regard religion, not as a 
mystic and essential entity, but as a label which we attach to one 
division of our beliefs, emotions, and deeds? "We have many 
moods, fears, hopes, aspirations, scruples, loves, and abhorrences. 
Some of these we are wont to call religious, but not so very many. 
We take various and varying action every day of our life; we 
make decisions and pass judgments. A part of our decisions and 
judgments affecting ourselves, and especially others, we classify 
as religious, and a much smaller part of our overt behavior. Sec 
ular affairs may well engage us from Monday morning to Sat 
urday night while on the great day of the Sun a goodly portion 
of our population goes to church and remains there for an hour 
mayhap. This is deemed a religious performance. If one goes 
to his office on Tuesday and writes out a cheque to the order of 
the Charity Organization Society, is that a religious performance? 
If so, would it be a religious act to write a cheque to replenish the 
funds of Paterson strikers? Pure religion and undefiled before 
our God and Father has been described as visiting the fatherless 
and widows in their affliction, but does this include the widows 
and children of labor agitators? So even if we give up trying to 
define religion we are beset with difficulties when we try to dis 
tinguish between what we are inclined to call "religious" as over 
against things of this world where such adjectives as holy and sin 
ful seem inapplicable. 

The word religion represents something that practically all 
those who have turned their thoughts on the matter regard as an 
essential to social and individual welfare; as the great and only 
barrier against moral corruption and intolerable anarchy. Never 
theless they come to no agreement on what religion is, or even 
what things are religious. They agree only in thinking that those 
who differ from them have a false religion. St. Paul was sure that 


St. Peter was wrong; Luther denounced Erasmus; Calvin, Serve- 
tus; Kant could not stand for Voltaire s God; Huxley was certain 
that the Archbishop of Canterbury harbored fantastic super 
stitions. The author of "Troasm" sees no hope unless we give up 
the most fundamental elements of older religions and substitute 
recently revealed scientific discoveries in regard to human motives 
and their purposeful modification in the cause of righteousness. 

"What about false religion? It seems to abound, according to 
all accounts. Does its noxious falsity offset its precious religious 
ness? "Writers often give the impression that they think religion 
in general essential and yet condemn pretty much everything 
that passes for religious among their fellow creatures throughout 
the world. The Roman emperors are applauded by Gibbon for 
cherishing religions that suited the tastes and traditions of the 
various peoples of the Empire on the ground that they were all 
good and useful so long as they did not, like that of the Christians, 
refuse due respect for the imperial government and the goddess 
Roma. This seems a consistent recognition of the value of re 
ligion and the need of gracious toleration. It has not been the 
view promoted by Christians; yet something of the attitude of 
the Roman government seems to lurk in religious discussion to 
day. It is urged, for instance, that religion is good for <c the 
Masses, 5 even if their beliefs seem a quite absurd set of notions 
to the person who advances the argument. 

In this welter of confused thinking its seems some gain to give 
up the idea that there is an entity or supernatural agency, re 
ligion, which can be discovered and defined. The case is at least 
somewhat simplified by resolving religion into thoughts, beliefs, 
moods, revelations, scruples, judgments and acts which take place 
under auspices which would be generally pronounced religious 
by participants or on-lookers. "We cannot hope for any very 
precise agreement even on the basis of the older conceptions of 
religion, much less if one takes account of the newer develop 
ments to be mentioned in due time. 

"What may be called religious phenomena, that is, what has gone 
on and goes on under religious auspices, seem to fall into two rather 
easily distinguishable classes. Santayana, who defines religion as 


poetry mistaking itself for science, distinguishes between primary 
and secondary religion. The first takes the form of convincing 
personal experiences and peace and comfort, lifting of intolerable 
burdens, sense of security, relief from perplexity, active fighting 
for God and his righteousness and ultimately a fine sense of merging 
into the eternal. Then there is a mere acquiescence, an unquestion 
ing pursuit of sanctified routine going to church, singing the ap 
pointed hymns, listening to the lessons or sermons, repeating the 
creed or litany, following the prayers and greeting one s neighbors 
when the service is over. In Catholic churches there is more 
warmth and symbolism in the ancient ceremonies the Mass, the 
resonant Latin, the ringing of bells, the swinging of smoking cen 
sers, and the richly garbed efficient. And it should not be forgot 
ten that over two thirds of the Christians of the world are either 
Roman Catholics or belong to the Greek Orthodox Church. In the 
United States the Catholics claim about a fifth of the population. 
Each one can come to terms in his own mind as to how much 
of his religion is primary, how much obedience to habit; in what 
respects he feels strongly, in how much he merely accedes and 
obeys. The range of varieties of religious experience, as William 
James names his book, are tremendous^ from the light-hearted 
choir boy cheerfully chanting the recessional and looking forward 
to a Sunday dinner, to Saint John of the Cross in his cell, who 
sought to mortify joy, hope, fear, and grief, to deprive himself 
of every natural satisfaction and to imitate Jesus, as he thought, 
in repudiating everything agreeable. 


come now to the main purport of this chapter. What kind 
of new knowledge has placed the matter of religion in a setting 
so different from that in which it was conceived fifty years ago? 
In the first place a great deal more is known by European and 
American scholars of wide-ranging religious phenomena than was 
possible a half a century ago. Herbert of Cherbury, as early as 
the days of Charles I, denounced bitterly the provinciality of 
Christian controversies. He maintained that the belief in God, 


in man s responsibility to him, and in a future life of rewards and 
punishments, had existed among men everywhere and always 
although fearfully disguised was this natural religion by priestly 
imposture. Spinoza analyzed rather coldly the religion of his 
remote ancestors and his writings charmed Matthew Arnold. But 
with the mastering of Sanscrit, of Pali, of Chinese, of Egyptian 
hieroglyphics and Mesopotamian cuneiform, and of Pahlavi, an in 
credible addition was made to the scanty stock of information upon 
which previous estimates of religion had been formed. Chris 
tianity took its place for the first time in a large group of still 
more ancient forms of belief, each with its venerable wisdom and 
teachings in regard to man s duties and fate. 

During the period in which the comparative study of highly 
developed religions was progressing, travellers and missionaries 
were busy reporting the religious practices of wholly illiterate 
tribes in Africa, the Americas, Australasia and the isles of the 
sea. These reports contained suggestions respecting the assump 
tions and myths upon which the more sophisticated religions had 
been built. This invited attempts to surprise primitive survivals 
in the early portions of the Old Testament, in the Vedas and the 
Homeric poems. And such attempts have proved highly suc 
cessful; if sometimes painfully disconcerting to the old type of be 

A second and rather unexpected contribution to the understand 
ing of religious scruples, emotions and aspirations has come with 
the recognition of the overwhelming importance of childhood; 
not merely the so-called childhood of races, but the childhood of 
each and every man and woman. It has been shown that a great 
part of the general impressions which remain with us through life 
are gained in childhood and are never very seriously modified. As 
Mr. Trotter has pointed out, it is just those beliefs which were 
inculcated or absorbed in childhood which retain the most in 
escapable hold on us and which it seems perverse and unholy to 
question. This fact was not formerly recognized in dealing with 
religion. It is now eagerly grasped by many as the golden key 
for unlocking previously mysterious doors and seeing within them 
the forgotten survivals of earlier days. 


The third and far more distasteful suspicion is that many ex 
treme perturbations of human emotions, which have been deemed 
divine and holy manifestations of saintliness, suggest common 
enough dislocations and exaggerations which, if not cloaked with 
religion, would land one in an insane asylum. 

In addition to the newer types of criticism suggested by the (i) 
comparison and interplay of other religions than our own; (2) the 
recognition of highly primitive elements in all religions; (3) the 
reckoning with the survival of childish impressions; and (4) with 
the possibly pathological nature of mystic experiences, we should 
take note of two more novel factors in our efforts to assess 
religious matters today. There is (5) an historic trend toward 
secularization, that is, the reduction of the number of the thoughts 
and deeds of mankind which display themselves under religious 
guise; (6) the weakening of the old belief that religion is essen 
tial to right conduct in a worldly sense, for this seems to decline 
part p*$sn with the shrinking of the dominions of religion. Here 
we have six fairly new and at present very conspicuous con 
siderations in handling those aspects of experience which are com 
monly called religious. These will be taken up in turn. 


IT is obvious that, whether one is engaged rather dully in routine 
religious practices or is filled with religious fervor, he consciously 
or unconsciously refers his acts and feelings to a remote past. 
That is, without a substantial historic background he could neither 
act nor feel as he does. As it was in the beginning, is now, and 
ever shall be, lurks behind religious security. Accordingly the 
recently developed study of comparative and especially of primitive 
religious phenomena is bound to make far clearer than ever before 
the heavy traditional element which is to be discovered in even 
the most novel formulations of religious beliefs. Veneration for 
the remote past, for the long accepted assumptions, for the in 
comparable wisdom to be found in the sayings of ancient seers 
and in venerable books, are in all the more advanced religions 
in India, China as well as in the Western World primary in 
establishing religious faith. 


Syncretism is the name given by historians of religion to the 
re-combinations and blendings and modification of traditional ele 
ments which enter into all seemingly new religions. And, as 
Hatch, Reville, Legge, Harnack, Glover, Conybeare and many 
others have shown, Christianity is in no way an exception. It is 
explicitly founded on the ancient religious beliefs of the Hebrews, 
but many tributaries which did not have their origin in the hills 
of Palestine augmented its stream during its development under 
the Roman Empire. The religious beliefs of the Hebrews had 
already been deeply affected by Mesopotamian and even Egyptian 
influences. Christmas and Easter, for example, far antedate, 
as festivals, their adoption by the Christian churches. 

It is assumed by most Christians, ignorant of history, that the 
teachings of Jesus were highly novel and that the prevailing of 
Christianity was so startling an event as alone to prove its divine 
character. Neither of these beliefs can be held by one familiar 
with scholarly books on these matters. There is a gap between the 
latest books contained in the Old Testament and the earliest writ 
ings in the New. This "period of silence" has been narrowed 
down to somewhat less than two centuries, by the recognition 
that Daniel, for instance, and certain of the Psalms were written 
in the second century before Christ. "But recent research," ac 
cording to one of the chief scholars in this field, R. H. Charles, 
"has shown that no such period of silence ever existed. In fact, 
we are now in a position to prove that these two centuries were 
in many respects centuries of greater spiritual progress than any 
two that had preceded them in Israel." A number of the re 
ligious works of this intermediate period still survive, "written 
probably for the most part in Galilee, the home of the religious 
seer and mystic. Not only was the development of a religious but 
also of an ethical character. In both these respects the way was 
prepared by this literature for the advent of Christianity, while 
a study of the New Testament makes it clear that its writers had 
been brought up in the atmosphere created by these books and 
were themselves directly acquainted with many of them." Jesus 
it seems was a sdn of his time so far as his views and admonitions 
are reported to/us. Many of them can be readily duplicated or 


paralleled in the contemporaneous religious literature o Judea. 
The fatherhood of God and the kingdom not of this world had 
been already proclaimed. This discovery, be it observed, in no 
way diminishes the -value or importance of the gospels; it merely 
serves to reduce the miraculous and revelationary element in their 
origin, hitherto claimed for them. 

As for the spread of Christianity it was gradual, and turbid with 
the controversies between innumerable sects, calling themselves 
the only true followers of Christ. Harnack, one of the greatest 
certainly of contemporaneous church historians, shows how the 
revised beliefs spread to Jewish communities scattered over the 
Roman Empire. It will be remembered that Jesus addressed a 
terrible rebuke to the clergy of his time, reported in the twenty- 
third chapter of Matthew* Among his many accusations was 
that te Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when 
he is become so, ye make him twofold more a son of hell than 
yourselves/* This prejudice was shared by gentiles throughout 
the Roman Empire. The Jews had far more missionary ardor 
than used to be supposed. If, as it would now appear, the teach 
ings of Jesus were in accord with the advanced religious and 
ethical ideals of his people, his disciples, who accepted him as the 
long-expected Jewish Messiah, could find ready converts among the 
many Jewish communities throughout the Roman Empire. To 
wards three hundred years elapsed however between the death of 
Jesus and the effective acceptance of the new religion by Constan- 
tine. This was no prompt or surprising victory compared with 
that of the religion of Mohammed, which spread with really 
miraculous speed and exeeds in its adherents today aU the Protes 
tant Christians in the world. 

BUT (Christianity is itself a recent religion compared with all in 
the way of religious beliefs and practices which preceded it. The 
seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church were first formu 
lated dearly by Peter Lombard in his famous textbook, the 


Sentences, less than eight centuries ago. Two or three of these 
are accepted by the Protestants. Even the Old Testament, which 
in its earlier portions contains many primitive ideas, is recent 
compared with man s history. The belief in a soul, in the gods and 
their propitiation, in a life to come, are all so very much more an 
cient! The thoughtful Greeks and Romans were quite as "mono 
theistic" as the Christians through the Middle Ages. The Stoics 
often talked of "God." It is true they used "the gods" too, which 
was equivalent to our "heavenly powers." Catholics accept a 
great number of beings which the Romans would have called gods, 
Christ, the Virgin, angels, archangels, and the saints, to whom 
they appeal, as well as Satan and various other wicked spirits. 
The Protestants say less of the devil and his minions nowadays, 
but cling to the persons of the Trinity, and deny not the angels, 
who surely are supernatural and god-like beings, as the classical 
peoples would have estimated them. 

Vestiges of what modern archaeologists are impelled to class as 
religious observances are indicated in prehistoric remains and are 
reported from every known tribe of illiterate people whether in 
Melanesia, Polynesia, or the Americas. As George Foot Moore 
says, it is the prevailing opinion of anthropologists that "existing 
races on a lower plane of culture have religions whose present 
state implies long antecedents, and that among the remains of 
palaeolithic culture in some regions objects are preserved which, 
if they were modern, would unhesitatingly be interpreted as re 
ligious." It would clearly be out of place to go into details in 
recalling the various classes of precautions which primitive peoples 
have been wont to take in dealing with the mysterious "powers" 
or virtues of things which they believed endangered or promised to 
benefit them. It was an old idea to derive religion from fear, 
and Dr. Moore deriving it from "the common impulse of self- 
preservation" is expressing a similar view. The self-preservation 
would of course include precautions of all kinds, veneration for 
the totem, and a strict observance of taboos. Later anthropolo 
gists tend to see a period of "mana" or realization of the various 
powers of things preceding the birth of animism, which came with 


the assumption of a sort of spirit or soul, with its human-like de 
sires and purposes. Such a spirit could be lodged in animals and 
plants, stars and rocks* 

All this however touches human nature so congenially that it 
needs hardly such lengthy disquisitions as are devoted to it. Solo 
mon Reinach reports that, as a child, he had a blue shell which 
seemed to be a faithful protector. William James says that when 
the earthquake happened in California in 1906 it shook his bed 
room as a terrier would shake a rat. "It was to my mind abso 
lutely an entity that had been waiting all this time holding back its 
activity, but at last saying "Now go it/ and it was impossible not 
to conceive it as animated by a will, so vicious was the temper 
displayed*" Reinach s shell was an up-to-date fetich, and Wil 
liam James enjoyed the animistic dismay of a savage. 

Totemism, the reverence for ancestral animals, sometimes plants, 
to which groups in a tribe ascribe their origin is, as Reinach ex 
presses it, "the hypertrophy of the social instinct." We still have 
our mascots and animal emblems, such as the American eagle 
and the two-headed, now extinct, Austrian bird. On any British 
consulate one can see the lion and the unicorn. These things are al 
together too contemporaneous to seem very strange when we 
reflect that apprehensions and current precautions are not unlike 
in us all, and have been since culture began. We can detect 
tendencies to fetichism, totemism, animism and the observance of 
taboos, with not a little lust for magic, in our feelings and some 
times in our behavior. 

All these primitive elements continue to find religious sanction 
in one form or another although they tend to take a symbolic 
form. For example, savages are commonly fearful of the dead. 
They take elaborate precautions to prevent their return. The rel 
atives may paint themselves black, and cautiously close all en 
trances to the hut so that the spirit may not recognize them or 
penetrate into the house. Lewis Browne finds here the traditional 
background of deep mourning and of closing the shutters of a 
house in which a dead person lies. The modern woman does 
not have the origin of her crape in mind; she sees in it a symbol of 
grief and thereby publicly proclaims herself a stricken being. 


The closing of the shutters seems a decent exclusion of the sunshine 
of life during a period of sadness. Today the scattering of rice 
on bride and groom is no longer a symbol of the blessing of fer 
tility and has degenerated into a conventional jest, which only 
gives the porter of the sleeping car cause of murmuring. 

It is from primitive beginnings, ignorant and squalid though 
some may seem to us now, that modern anthropologists believe that 
the higher and nobler conceptions of the immortal soul, of one 
supreme God, maker of heaven and earth, of salvation, heaven 
and hell, all must inevitably have originated. The visions of the 
night have played a great part in the creation of ancestor worship, 
which is of profound religious significance in India, China and 
Japan, though singularly enough it has no such significance in the 
West. But in dreams one not only saw and talked to the dead, 
he might himself leave the body and wander forth and so re 
alize that he had a double or spirit far freer in its movements 
than his heavy body. As he viewed the dead he could see that 
their spirits had departed. 

As these discoveries, which have come with the study of re 
ligions of today and yesterday, are more and more widely known, 
in spite of the ignorance and expostulations of those who see in 
them a very real menace to the perpetuation of their particular 
beliefs, they will inevitably influence both the older and newer 
religious ideas. To the earlier defenders of existing religjfous 
systems the discovery that "Religion" was a universal characteristic 
of the human race came as a comfortable and efficient weapon to 
be used against supposed "atheists." They did not suspect that 
the new knowledge might influence their own particular faith 
far more potently than the talk of any atheist. 


ALONG with the examination of the religious beliefs and prac 
tices of primitive and ancient peoples has appeared another ap 
proach to the subject of religion. This has to do with childhood, 
when religious ideas and scruples are implanted. Once it was sup- 


posed that religion was the product o the mature and inspired 
thought of highly exceptional religious experts. Whatever con 
tributions these may have made, they are slight compared with 
the childish impressions derived from father and mother and such 
religious instruction as reached us when children. Bryan exhibited 
through his life no more knowledge of religious matters than he 
could easily have acquired at ten years of age. Sermons of the 
commoner sort contain only what both preacher and audience 
accepted before they were grown up. Religion does not tend to 
mature in most cases. It is what we learned at our mother s 
knee. In later life we are preoccupied with business and amuse 
ment, and there is no time to keep up with the course of religious 
investigation, even if we had the slightest disposition to do so. 
Billy Sunday talks as a big husky boy to other boys and girls. 
Even distinguished scientific men solemnly discuss the relation of 
Religion to Science, when, if they but stopped to think, they would 
find they were assuming that they know all about Religion, with 
out having given it much thought since childhood, although they 
will readily admit that after a lifetime s work they know very little 
about Science. Paul says confidently that "When I was a child, I 
spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I 
am become a man, I have put away childish things." Alas^ this 
does not take place with many of us. The majority of men and 
women do not heartily revise many of their earlier impressions after 
thirteen or fourteen years of age. Only exceptional ones learn 
enough more to criticize and recast thoroughly and continuously^ 
as the years go on, what they were given in childhood. This is 
rather specially true of religious beliefs, which are matters of sim 
ple faith and not supposed to be subject to individual modification, 
rectification or rejection. 

The very language of the Christian religion is that of the family. 
"We are all God s children. There is the Heavenly Father and, 
among the Catholics, the pure and devoted Mother, whose arms 
are open to those who call upon her; Christ is the son and elder 
brother. The saints form a single family, whether they be quick 
or dead, "though now divided by the stream the narrow stream 
of death," "part hath crossed the flood and part is crossing now." 


The divine shepherd tends his flock, repels the wolves of sin, seeks 
the wandering sheep when it goes astray. 

Saviour, who thy -flock art feeding, 

With the shepherd s kindest care, 
All the feeble gently leading, 

While the lambs thy bosom share. 

Never from Thy pasture roving, 

Let them be the lion s prey; 
Let thy tenderness, so loving, 

Keep them through life s dangerous way. 

To all the timid and sensitive as well as to the downright "sick 
souls," life is beset with menace, self-reproach, perplexity, disap 
pointment, bereavement, the sense of ill-usage, and sometimes 
with the keenest and most poignant suffering. "We hunger for a 
defender and protector and one who will right our wrongs. We 
thirst for assured tenderness and love in a hard and fickle world. 
We long to rest in someone s loving arms, to return to our moth 
er s bosom and have our tears wiped away. "We become children 
and fall back on the child s hopes of comfort and reassurance. 

Discouraged in the work of life, 

Disheartened by its load, 
Shamed by its failures or its fears, 

I sink beside the road; 
But only let me think of Thee, 

And then new heart springs up in me. 

(Samuel Longfellow) 

It would not mend matters to cite Lucretius at this point that 
we are but a negligible and fortuitous concourse of atoms, dissi 
pated at death; that we have always been grousing, and that even 
if a longer life were granted us we should go on sulking; that no 
matter how long we live it will make no difference in the eternity 
we shall be dead. It would be like interrupting a Christmas party 
to read an article from Hastings* "Encyclopaedia of Religion and 
Ethics" to prove the unauthenticity of the accepted date of 


Jesus 9 birth, or reading KempPs "Psychopathology" to the love- 
intoxicated St. Theresa, or "The Golden Bough" to an adorant of 
the Mass. 

But the solaces of religion are not confined to moods of apathy 
and suffering; it meets our requirements for ultimate glory and vic 
tory, for successful conflict and the utter undoing of those who 
have refused to open their eyes to the light vouchsafed to us and 

"With Thy favored sheep O place me; 

Nor among the goats abase me; 
But to thy right hand up-raise me. 

While the wicked are confounded, 

Doomed to flames of woe unbo^lnded, 
Call me, with Thy saints surrounded* 

(Thomas of Celano, XIII Century) 

And the faithful can join the divine cohorts, and be participants 
in final conquest of evildoers, and reign forever. What heart so 
torpid, whether of believer or unbeliever, can, without heightened 
beat, read: 

The Son of God goes forth to war, 

A kingly crown to gain: 
His blood-red banner streams afar: 

Who follows in his train 1 ? 

Who best can drink his cup of woe. 

Triumphant over pain, 
Who patient bears his cross below. 

He follows in His train* 1 

*A very interesting article on "The Psychology of Hymns" by Kimball Young, 
was published in the journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. XX, pp. 391 flf. The 
writer finds that veil over half the popular hymns suggest infantile regression or 
the hope of final reward. "Simple, obvious themes, childlike expressions, much repeti 
tion; these, coupled with the emotional arousal from musical accompaniment, are 
the outstanding characteristics of hymns. The hymns have one dominant motif as 
a rule a central point which expresses the infantile feelings in the socially accep 
table, that is, symbolic, form." Whatever the merits of this contention it illustrates 
the novel way of looking at "praising the Lord," 



RELIGIOUS moods in rare cases take on an intense, obsessive form, 
in which mystic intimacies with God or the Saviour occur. There 
may be ecstasies which the subject does not think of as religious; 
but there are scattered through the history of Christianity (as well 
as the history of primitive and highly sophisticated religions) in 
stances of absorbing interest in which the saint finds himself 
ineffably one with the divine. Special works are devoted to mysti 
cism, of which William James "The Varieties of Religious Ex 
perience" is one of the altogether most remarkable. More recent 
works are cited in Leuba s "The Psychology of Religious Mysti 
cism," which excellently presents and discusses many mystics not 
alluded to by James. 

It is impossible to take up these unusual instances of saintliness. 
One unfamiliar with the literature will be shocked and repelled 
by many of the experiences reported. Modern psychiatrists will 
readily resort to hysteria and sex-repression to dispose of some of 
them. They are to be found at almost every level of culture and 
are connected with artificial intoxication of various kinds, fast 
ings, stimulants, narcotics, excessive exertion, macerations but 
by no means always. In solemn ecclesiastical conclaves mystics 
have been canonized and beatified long after their death. We may 
leave this phase of religious phenomena with the observation of 
Professor Leuba: "There are those who are satisfied when they 
have described these states as divine possession or union. But noth 
ing is thereby explained, . . . for, the term divine in itself 
throws no light upon these facts. It is the reverse: f div ine* gets 
whatever significance it may possess from the experiences to which 
it is applied" In short it may be that the ideas of the "divine" 
were derived from what the "possessed" person did or said, as 
in the case of the Pythian priestess of Delphi, who wrought herself 
into a frenzy before she delivered her oracles. One s assessment 
of mysticism will always depend fundamentally on whether he 
is looking for divine revelations or is not. I take it Professor 
Leuba is not, whereas Marguerite Marie Alacoque, born in 1647, 


knew that Christ had told her most simply and directly, "I have 
chosen you for my bride." 

I infer that a good many persons have some kind of mystic 
experience during their lives. Dreams often seem revelations. 
Xhere are in almost all cases intimations in usual human experience 
of those things that appear in more grandiose fashion among 
the mystics. James 5 analysis of asceticism is very ingenious* 
but more recent psychopathological studies have gravely altered 
the analysis and evaluation of mystic phenomena. In general 
the Protestant sects are much less hospitable to reports of saint- 
liness than the Catholics. They seem to feel that God reveals him 
self in less spectacular fashion. 


THERE is a persistent claim^ often finding expression even today, 
that idealism, morality, decency, and fairness depend upon and are 
re-enforced by religious beliefs. No one thinks that the godly 
are always good,; but only that the godless have thrown off the 
restraints which hold them back from a life of heartless self- 
indulgence and wicked disregard for the rights of others. The 
relation of religion to ethics is a far more obscure and intricate 
question than would appear at first sight. That at least may be 
safely said. There has been much of a religious nature in the 
past which had to do merely with prudential measures in making 
terms with gods, who were themselves no better than they should 
be, and with fighting off devils. Then the Christian theologians 
have disputed much over "good works *; and Calvin taught 
the Presbyterians to hold that every man and woman was pre 
destinated before the foundation of the world to heaven or hell, 
without any reckoning with his earthly conduct. The number of 
the saved and damned is, according to the Presbyterian confession 
of faith* "so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased 
or diminished." Yet Presbyterians are not conspicuous either as 
saints or sinners in spite of their theory of the hopeless irrelevancy 
of daily behavior to salvation. 


There is space here available for only a few observations on the 
modern phases of religious faith and works. They would seem 
to be drifting apart* Careful observers, such as Reinach and 
Professor Shotwell, detect an unmistakable tendency toward the 
secularization of human affairs. That is to say, less and less 
goes on under religious guise. So rich and varied and ever- 
changing are human preoccupations today that it is impossible to 
bring them within the ancient religious categories. The percent 
age that seems in accord with God s behests, or in violation of 
them, tends to decrease. 

A few instances may be given: modern physicians do not as 
sume that the devil is at the bottom of disease; they do not resort 
to prayers and exorcisms but to serums and the knife. The pro 
visions of the "Rituale Romanum" for dissipating an approaching 
storm raised by evil spirits would seem futile to most of our country 
men. Treaties between nations are no longer concluded in the 
name of the Holy Trinity as they were a hundred years ago. No 
one would longer justify negro slavery, as did the Southern clergy 
before the Civil War, on the ground that Noah had cursed Ham 
and his offspring for making light of the old man s drunken relaxa 
tion. These examples might be multiplied indefinitely. So it is 
clear that not only have modern business corporations failed to 
assume the religious tinge of the mediaeval guilds; and telephones 
and motor cars to ask for religious sanction; but many previously 
heavily sanctified affairs of life have become secularized. It is this 
worldly tendency that has created suspicions with regard to the 
older claims that the supernatural directs and controls human 


A BROOKLYN clergyman, Richard Storrs, whose learning and elo 
quence would overwhelm the most wary, wrote a large book over 
fifty years ago on "The Divine Origin of Christianity Indicated 
by Its Historical Effects." Further increase of knowledge and less 
eloquence have produced reservations in the minds of historical 
students. But such reservations are easily countered if one ac- 


cepts die Rev. Storrs* warning that Christianity like the sun may 
be hidden at times behind thick clouds. "It may seem grotesquely 
or hideously tinted, by steaming vapors rising to intercept it from 
forges and factories, from chemical laboratories, or from the 
noisome reek of slums* But these pass away, and the sunshine 
continues: the same today, when we untwist its strand into the 
crimson, gold, and blue, as when it fell on the earliest bowers 
and blooms of the earth/ 1 

Warming with his argument and the unfailing abundance of 
incontrovertible evidence as he comes down through the ages. Dr. 
Storrs closes triumphantly: "Whatever may be our just criticism 
of modern society or whatever on the other hand, may be our 
confidence in ethics, legislations, improved industries, widened 
commerce* the general distribution of letters and knowledge it 
seems almost impossible to doubt that the religion of Jesus is at 
this hour the commanding factor in whatever is best in the charac 
ter and the progress of persons and states. It has not merely 
rectified partictilar abuses, removed special evils, exerted a benign 
and salutary influence on local institutions. It has formed and 
instructed a general Christian consciousness in the world, which 
is practically ubiquitous and commanding in Christendom: to 
which institutions, tendencies, persons, are more and more dis 
tinctly amenable; which judges all by an ideal standard; to which 
flattering concessions to wealth, to power, to genius or culture, 
are inherently offensive/ 

It was perhaps easier to write these lines in the early eighties 
than it would be now. The crimson, gold and blue have been 
notably obscured in the years that followed. But flattering con 
cessions to genius and culture have at least grown no more servile 
in the twentieth century than in the nineteenth. This seems the 
only striking instance of the constancy of Christian influence. 

To claim however that the disappearance of witchcraft and 
slavery, and the introduction of religious toleration were the ef 
fects of Christian teachings seems not to stand inspection. The 
leaders of the various churches have most rarely raised their voices 
against what seem to us now ancient and happily extinct atrocities. 
They were not the ones who did away with them. On the con* 


trary they very generally supported religious intolerance, accepted 
slavery, blessed war, and cursed those who suspected the gloomy 
deceptions of witchcraft. So much for the arguments of the 
Reverend Dr. Storrs. 

The clergy have not been ethical innovators. Leo XIII in 
1891 summed up what until very lately has been the theory of 
the Protestant churches, not alone of the Catholic. Labor is the 
painful expiation of sin; the rich and the poor are ordained by na 
ture to maintain the equilibrium of the body politic: 

tc Cursed be the earth in thy work ; in thy labor thou shalt eat 
of it all the days of thy life.* In like manner, the other pains and 
hardships of life shall have no end or cessation on earth; for the 
consequences of sin are bitter and hard to bear; and they must 
be with man as long as life lasts. To suffer and endure, there 
fore, is the lot of humanity; let men try as they may, no strength 
and no artifice will ever succeed in banishing from human life 
the ills and troubles which beset it." 

In preventing strife between rich and poor and making it im 
possible, "the efficacy of Christianity is marvelous and manifold. 
First of all there is nothing more powerful than religion (of which 
the Church is the interpreter and guardian) in drawing the rich 
and poor together, by reminding each class of its duties to the 
other, and especially the duties of justice." 

One sees slight evidence in the account of contemporaneous 
labor disputes that issues and adjustments turn often on the 
marvelous and manifold efficacy of Christianity. Nor have they 
in the past. When the German- peasants in Luther s time drew 
up their twelve godly articles based on evangelical fairness, Luther 
sided not with them but with the possessing class, and urged the 
latter to use all bloody measures necessary to put down the rebels 
on the ground that "they deserved death of body and soul many 
times over." 

When we come to daily observations we cannot distinguish be 
tween the believer and the unbeliever by his conduct, by his hon 
esty, generosity, and other homely virtues. Bradstreet does not 
reckon with religion in establishing one s credit. The custom 
house official would not pass unexamined the luggage of one pro- 


fessing the Athanasian creed or submitting a certificate of good 
standing in the Brick Church. The rain continues to fail on 
the just and unjust alike; and,; as Jesus reminds us, in a passage 
almost universally neglected by his followers: think ye that they 
were offenders above all men in Jerusalem on whom the tower in 
Siloam fell? As late as 1897 the horrible fire in a Paris charity 
bazaar was attributed by a French priest to God s vengeance on 
those who rejected the teachings of the Catholic Church. But in 
general this primitive notion is on the decline. It was not widely 
urged when San Francisco and Yokohama were desolated by earth 
quakes. These horrors were generally accepted as the result of 
geological episodes, not as "acts of God." Scientific knowledge 
has spread far enough to discredit the older cosmology. As Sam 
uel Butler says, it was not hard in his boyhood for the ordinary 
English clergyman to think of God s moulding Adam in the rec 
tory garden, and retiring to the greenhouse to form Eve. Those 
who cling to a heavily anthropocentric universe have now to alter 
their lines of arguments. Henry Drummond set this example late 
in the nineteenth century* 

It has become apparent that there have been many, many elab 
orate systems of religious belief, of which the various Christian 
churches and sects afford modern instances. It is not the aim 
of this chapter to appraise these as to the truth and value of their 
claims. It is possible to have hopes and aspirations to which none 
of them has assigned a prominent place for example, the in 
crease of human knowledge and imagination as over against 
ancient dogma. The effort to engineer life in the light of already 
existing intelligence would in itself be perhaps as holy a task as 
any hitherto essayed by saint or martyr. Contrasting St. An 
thony s fierce struggles against temptation in the Egyptian sands 
and the ideal community described by Rabelais, where desire 
merged into prompt fruition, Havelock Ellis wisely closes his 
"Dance of Life" with the suggestion of "how vast a field lies 
open for human activity between the Thebaid on one side and 
Thelema on the other." 


DURING a great part of history, the arts were an indivisible 
part of the life of a community. It is difficult, as Karl 
Buecher pointed out, to say where work leaves off and 
art begins: drama is in origin .the significant rehearsal of the 
"thing done," the planting of seed and the gathering of harvest; 
song and dance rhythmically recapture the ecstasy of courtship 
or martial triumph; painting and sculpture visualize divinity, or 
realize, in more perfect composure, the forms of men and land 
scapes ;fto live is to experience art? Among all the occupations 
known to men and practised by them down to modern times, the 
only one that was degraded, to the* exclusion of art, in the process 
of conducting the work or shaping the materials or sharing in civic 
life, was that of the miner* From the miserable slaves that worked 
the silver mines of Athens to the serfs that remained injthe mines 
of Great Britain up to the nineteenth century, the miner alone 
was condemned along with the public executioner to exist 
without benefit of the arts. 

The industrial period begins with a reversal of this condition. 
The miner develops the steam engine and invents the railroad; 
for a while, the steam engine, the railroad, and a great array of 
mechanical contrivances occupy the centre of men s activities; 
and the one art that throughout human history had been a symbol 
of degradation dominates the scene, displacing human desires and 
human standards, and erecting, as an Iron Calf for the multitude 


to worship, the notions of mechanical efficiency and merely 
pecuniary wealth. Every art feels the shock of this change: liv 
ing becomes subordinate to working, and working is no longer en 
riched by the whole personality. The new working class, as it 
is called, can alas! neither produce art nor respond to it; the in 
tricate folk dances disappear; the folk songs lose both in fun and 
in depth; the manufactured furniture, rugs, curtains, and dress 
materials that take the place of the old products of handicraft 
lose all aesthetic value ;|^y the middle of the nineteenth century 
the age of non-art has, apparently, begun/ 

"Was the displacement of art that marked the introduction of 
machinery a permanent or a temporary process? It was impos 
sible to answer this question in John Ruskin s time; but by now 
I think we may say confidently that the process was only a tem 
porary one. While those who value the traditional arts are chiefly 
conscious of the loss and as I shall show the loss was vast and 
widespread we are now also conscious of the fact that indus 
trialism has produced new arts, associated with the application of 
precise methods and machine tools, Will these new industrial 
arts altogether replace the traditional ones? Will the traditional 
arts recover some of their lost ground? Has the machine age de 
veloped a new aesthetic, or is its bias essentially anti-xsthetic? 
Will the expression of the human personality through the arts 
regain Its ancient place and will art once more accompany all hu 
man activity? These are some of the questions we must ask. Let 
us take stock of the whole environment before we attempt to an 
swer them. 

WHAT was the effect of modern methods of production and inter 
course upon the cities and countrysides of the Western World? 
The primary result, without doubt, was the wholesale deface 
ment of the landscape and the reckless misuse and perversion of 
almost every natural resource; above all, the stark misuse of the 
workers themselves. 

The coal that was brought to the surface to run the engines in 
the new factories resulted in the horrid debris of the pithead; 


carried by railways into the new towns, it created the smokepall 
which shut out sunlight, reduced the aerial colors to foggy grey, 
and, falling in a sooty film which effaced every gradation of color 
in street and building, it sank into the lungs and the pores of the 
industrial denizen. In certain industries, the escaping gases or 
finely divided particles destroyed the surrounding vegetation; 
while in others the refuse dumped into the streams killed the animal 
life and made the water unfit to drink or to swim in. The dis 
solution of solid forms in the later paintings of Turner and in 
those of Whistler in the next generation was partly a witness of 
the early coal regime. without the soft obliteration of fog, the 
landscape was hideous: the sole beauty that remained was that of 

The new towns of the nineteenth century suffered as miserably 
as the countryside. One has only to compare the old town of Ox 
ford with its new industrial additions to be aware of a contrast that 
holds throughout Western civilization. The industrial towns 
themselves were built entirely without art: the new parts were 
laid out in rectangles designed solely for convenience in sale, and 
the parts most necessary for purposes of recreation, namely, the 
waterfronts, were completely dedicated to manufacture and com 
merce. The town grew within the interstices formed by vast 
railway yards that pushed into its heart; and as a centre of culture 
and art the city survived with difficulty, if at all; the new civic 
centre was the stock exchange,|and the only functions that pros 
pered were those of sale, exchange, monetary appreciation/ When 
the directors of the London and Northwestern rejected Watts* 
offer to paint appropriate frescoes on the walls of Euston StationJ 
gratis, they merely expressed the deep contempt of the successful 
philistine for a purpose so foreign to early industrial enterprise as 

In this environment architecture totally collapsed, except so 
far as it was still carried forward by the momentum acquired in 
an earlier age. There was a period in England during the eight 
eenth century when it seemed as if the architect would effect a 
reasonable transition from the stylicism of the classical revivals to 
a modern vernacular which would be adapted to every new pur- 


pose; some of the buildings of the time oddly anticipate the designs 
of modern European architects like Le Corbusier. But these 
forms did not survive the anti-art bias of the industrialist : {useful 
buildings, with occasional exceptions, grew more ugly, and in 
natural reaction against this ugliness the architect sought by 
picturesque touches derived from the past to give back to the in- 
dividuaTbijilding the order and beauty that had once pervaded 
the city. / 

If architecture fared badly in the mass, it did even worse in the 
more intimate forms of decoration and furniture. In these de 
partments a practised handicraft was eliminated by the steady in 
troduction of labor-saving machinery the lathe, the scroll-saw, 
the planing machine, the power loom; and this process was ac 
companied by a positive loss in design. It is hardly an exaggera 
tion to say that from 1830 to 1890, the period when the traditional 
methods in all the industries were supplanted or at least modified 
by machine production, there is not a book, a piece of furniture, a 
pattern in textiles, a cup or saucer of new design which deserves 
a place, except as an historical curiosity, in a museum of art* 
While in America the rural housewife produced rugs and bed 
spreads of brilliant design, and while an occasional rebel against the 
machine system, such as "William de Morgan or William Morris or 
John LaFarge executed wall-papers and ceramics and furniture 
that had warmth and beauty, the early products of the machine 
were for the most part destitute of any value, except as raw ma 
terial defaced. 

On every hand, this period brought disruption to the traditional 
arts; they survived, if at all, by isolation and "backwardness," as 
peasant pottery survived in Brittany and Mexico, as hand-weaving 
persisted in Scotland and Ireland, as wood-carving continued at a 
low level of traditional design in the Tyrol. The reason for this 
is fairly plain. Under the method of handicraft, the knowledge 
necessary for the conduct of the arts is empirical or rule-of -thumb; 
it consists of rules, saws, formulae, workshop receipts, which are 
handed down from craftsman to craftsman with such slow addi 
tions and improvements as experience and skill may make. The 


introduction of the experimental method of science, with the 
quickening of invention and the elaboration of new processes and 
methods broke up this limited but living tradition and destroyed 
the body of taste, the sense of proportion, fitness, fine design, 
which was part and parcel of the handicraft worker s knowledge. 
Henceforward, during the period of transition, knowledge and 
taste occupied different departments: the industrialist was one 
person, the xsthete was another; the operative was one person, the 
designer was another. This divorce had begun to take place, un 
der the influence of aristocratic patronage, during the Renaissance; 
it was widened with the breakup of the guilds, which were the main 
repository of tradition; and it was carried to completion during the 
nineteenth century. 

The quarrel between the romanticist and the utilitarian was 
the natural outcome of this process; and, now that we can view the 
spectacle at a distance, we can see that both were right. The 
utilitarian was right when he insisted upon living in his own age 
and taking advantage of the instruments this age had produced; 
the romanticist was right when he declared that the human 
personality could not be split up, and that a philosophy which ar 
bitrarily limits our practical functions and divorces them from 
questions of taste and beauty is an instrument of degradation. 


THERE are two exceptions to this general story of depletion and 
decay music and painting for they survive and sometimes flour 
ish in the cloister, even when the avenues of popular achievement 
are closed to them. 

Up to the eighteenth century music was largely, but not en 
tirely, a personal performance and an accompaniment to the other 
arts. It embroidered the ritual of the church; it set the figures 
and movements of the dance; it lightened the labors of the sailor 
hauling ropes or the weaver at the loom or the blacksmith at the 
forge, quickening the work with an appropriate rhythm, moving 
whole bodies of men in grand synergy. In industry, the orchestra- 


tion of work by music was replaced by the impersonal processes of 
factory organization, in an environment whose clank and whirr 
and din denied all opportunities for musical accompaniment. 
With this divorce from labor and ritual, music ceased to pervade 
human life and entered upon a period of emotionally intense, but 
socially restricted, activity. 

In a sense, music repeated on the plane of the spirit the general 
development of science and industry. The symphony orchestra 
comes into existence as a contemporary of the modern factory: 
with the development of machine-technique, many of the tradi 
tional instruments were remodelled during the nineteenth century, 
for the purpose of achieving greater accuracy and range; new ones, 
like the saxophone, were invented by one of the foremost manu 
facturers; and the technical possibility of projecting lights and 
colors of uniform tone and intensity led Scriabine, the composer^ 
to attempt the orchestration of light and sound from which it 
was only a step, albeit hemmed with technical difficulties, to the 
modern color-organ. 

In the symphony orchestra, the individual performer concen 
trates his personal skill, but has his chief significance as a sub 
ordinate member of the whole group. The relation of the com 
poser to the orchestra is not unlike that of the industrial engineer 
or designer but there is no need to push the parallel into ab 
surdity. The fact is that, in a period when industrialism had un 
dermined most of the traditional arts and depleted their vitality, 
music flourished: from Bach to Moussorgsky one is aware of a grand 
succession of composers who, to all appearances, are not crippled 
by the experience of their generation, and who, unlike the great 
Victorian men of letters, do not lose a good part of their energies 
in bitter but ineffectual revolt. If their sonatas and symphonies 
are not heard on the street, if popular music becomes banal to a 
degree that makes the Elizabethan song or the medieval ballad 
seem the work of impossibly gifted people, fine music becomes al 
most a religion; and the concert hall is its church. 

While this fact is all to the good, and must ameliorate the gen 
eral picture of the arts during the first hundred and fifty years 
of industrialism, one must not overlook the possibility that it bears 


a less favorable interpretation. It may be that music during 
this period has been in the same position that typography occupied 
during the transition from script to machine-printing. During the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, there was a great outburst 
of beautiful typography; the work of the Venetian and Florentine 
printers was worthy, in its own way, of the great schools of paint 
ing; in their originality, the masters of type-design seemed inex 
haustible. But the period of new types waned in the eighteenth 
century. And why? The answer is, I think, that the great types 
were the result of long practice in handicraft lettering; and as the 
tradition of manuscript writing dwindled away, the type-designer 
lost the basis for his art: his efforts to create original types became 
weaker and poorer. The new types of the nineteenth century were 
as bad as the new architecture; one of the last fine types, Bodoni, 
has an element of uncouthness and rococo exaggeration. 

It may be that a similar situation exists in music. Bach used 
the existing church music as a basis for his own work; and in one 
degree or another every composer had drawn upon the singing 
voice and the traditional melodies of the dance and the worksong 
and the lullaby and the ballad. With the lapse of the singing 
voice, with the reduction of the musical amateur to the mere 
listener, one cannot be too sure that the soil out of which music 
grows as a personal, organic experience may not be impoverished. 
The perfection of mechanical transmission, which we now have in 
the phonograph and the radio, may result in the final rigor of 
death; the spread of music by mechanics may presage extinction 
of music as a direct spiritual experience^ Let us not be deceived. 
The modern maker of mosaics, for instance, has almost literally a 
thousand colors to work with, whereas the creators of the Ravenna 
mosaics had only a child s palette,; ^T^oi^jkilHn^design has not 
increased commensurately with our skill in manufacture^. quite 
the contrary^ ITrib? "procesTof mechanization is unfriendly to the 
human spirit, it will be inimical to music; and in the long run, the 
spirit must either assert itself or commit suicide. If the second 
happen, who will listen to music? If the first happen, who will 
bother if the factories and the sales departments find themselves 
glutted with unmarketable instruments of reproduction? 

294 THE 


THE ART of painting took a somewhat different course from music. 
During the nineteenth century painting survived by a complete 
retreat from the hurly-burly and by a willingness to forego active 
contemporary patronage. The artists of distinction were either, 
like Cezanne, men with a small "independent" income who could 
afford, in the economic sense, to be amateurs; or, like Meryon and 
Van Gogh and a hundred others, they lived for long periods at 
the point of starvation. 

The practical environment for the painter was perhaps never 
so unfavorable as it was during this progressive century; for the 
stuffy bourgeois home, filled with the bric-a-brac and claptrap of 
the auction room or curio shop, was not the sort of background 
against which a Turner, a Delacroix, or a Redon could be seen 
with advantage; whilst the art-museum, the form under which 
the treasures of the country house became available to the indus 
trial population, harbored only the most paltry art of its time, 
and resolutely turned its back upon contemporary aesthetic masters. 
Occasionally, in France, the country where painting survived most 
happily during the nineteenth century, the artist was fortunate 
enough to have a public destination for his work, as Puvis de 
Chavannes had in the lecture theatre at the Sorbonne; but, for 
the most part, the great artists were out of touch with the bourgeois 
patrons and contemptuous of their demands. 

It is important, perhaps, to realize that this withdrawal was 
not due to the painter s inability to take contemporary life and 
thought as materials for his art; it was rather due to the indiffer 
ence of the new financial and industrial masters to any scheme of 
life or thought which did not in some way reinforce the dominant 
ideology the belief in money-making and material comforts as 
the supreme end of existence. For the fact is that the great in 
tellectual interests of the time were more completely mirrored in 
painting than in any other art: Turner reveals the contemporary 
interest in Nature; and the Pre-Raphaelites, under the influence of 
Ruskin, carry this so far that their work, which ranks low as art, 
might nevertheless have earned for them a place in the natural 


history museum. Corot, in a more idyllic vein, carried on this 
same interest in nature, treating it religiously, as an object of won 
der and love; while Monet, following the lead of Constable and 
Delacroix who had studied Chevreul s researches on color car 
ried his palette into the open air, and in his pure colors and 
luminous skies proclaimed the healthy joy of stirring about in the 
open and blinking, like an animal, at the sun a joy which brought 
him close to the same source that created men of science, such as 
Darwin, Haeckel, Candolle. 

The bourgeois patron, who wanted his wife, his mistress, or 
his dog represented with unctuous sentiment, looked upon the re 
treat of the artists with sour repugnance; the artists that pleased 
him, the Landseers, the Leightons, the Bouguereaux, the Delaroches, 
did not mock at his charities as Daumier did, or feel greater sym 
pathy with the poor peasant than with the elegant wife of the 
manufacturer, as Millet did. So the patron denied the signif 
icance of the new art, and accepted it, if he accepted it at all, only 
after he had starved the artist himself into the grave and had found 
the price of the despised pictures rising steadily, like a good spec 
ulation on the stock exchange. In the new industrial society, art 
was still alive, but patronage was dead. By his withdrawal, the 
painter gained intensity; but he lost the opportunity of express 
ing triumphantly the interests of the collectivity, as the painters 
of Giotto s time expressed the universal religious interests of the 

IN WHAT way did science or technology affect the situation? 
There were both direct and indirect relations between science 
and painting; and neither was altogether unimportant. 

As to the actual process of using pigments, it was necessary for 
the painter to recover by laborious experiment a great body of 
data which the Renaissance painters had empirically arrived at. 
This involved the order of building up colors on the canvas, the 
testing of new colors, and the discovery of the most favorable 
combinations of colors for the working palette. Moreover, scien- 


tific researches into the physics of light and color established cer 
tain definite relations between the nominal color of an object and 
its actual color under specific conditions of light, atmosphere, re 
flection; Seurat, likewise, discovered in the method of pointillism 
a means of placing pure colors in juxtaposition to obtain a third 
color of purer quality than could be mixed directly on the palette; 
in both these departments, the effect of experimental science was 
a tangible one* 

The indirect relations with science were perhaps equally im 
portant; for both the scientist and the artist brought to light and 
exhibited certain aspects of life to which the European had long 
been insensitive: landscape painting developed again with the ad 
vance of botany and geology: Barye, the sculptor, was a true con 
temporary of Geoff roy St. Hilaire, the naturalist; while Courbet s 
reason for not painting angels "he had never seen any" would 
have satisfied Huxley, if anyone had demanded why the con 
stitution of angels was not investigated in the South Kensington 
Laboratories. In our own day, the researches of the cubists in 
abstract representation, and the attempt of Duchamp and Picasso 
and Brancusi, at a certain stage of their art, to abandon static 
forms and to portray the passage of solids through time or space 
was a response to the impulses that were becoming dominant in 
mathematics and physics. Do not misunderstand me: the artist 
does not illustrate science; the point is that as a living, thinking 
being he frequently responds to the same interests that a scientist 
does, and expresses by a visual synthesis what the scientist converts 
into analytical formulas or experimental demonstrations. 

There is still a third way in which, science has reacted upon art. 
By transforming technology, the physical sciences have created 
new forms and patterns, in instruments of precision, in machines 
and grain elevators and warehouses and bridges; and the artist has 
seized upon these forms as fresh materials for his art. A sub 
way station, for instance, with its regular piers, its monotonous 
surfaces, its sudden crystallization of color in red and green signal 
lights, presents an aesthetic experience. The hardness, the abstrac 
tion, the absence of surface variations, which characterize machine 


work, the intricate relation of parts, the lack of subtle modula 
tions in color, the uniform illumination of electricity all these 
things belong particularly to the modern world and have not, in 
this precise form, existed before. To these new products of exact 
technology the modern artist has become sensitive. Dismissed as 
mere utilitarian ugliness in one generation, they come back to 
us, through the purer experience of the artist, as things of beauty: 
Duchamp-Vilion models a machine with the same zeal that he 
would model a human figure, or, seeing the world as an expression 
of machinery, he sees the living form itself in a mechanical aspect 
and creates the mechanized plastic equivalent of a horse. 

As with every new idea, the discovery of the xsthetic value of 
machine forms has been attended by exaggeration and grotesque 
overemphasis: just as the impressionists, for a while, disclosed a 
world dissolved in color, and in the act of doing so weakened line 
and almost obliterated the architectonic qualities of painting, so 
the simpler cubists, coming upon the hard solids and voids of 
machinery, have forgotten that man is not a robot but an organic 
being, with desires, lusts, and ideals that are not represented by 
mechanical forms: he reacts to the sunset as well as to the dynamo^ 
to mountains as well as to skyscrapers, to the ripple of muscles or 
the fresh sensuality of the body, which Renoir delighted in, as 
well as to the precise plunge of pistons or the uniform whirr of 
dynamos, to fog and mystery no less than artificial light and 
mathematical theorems. 

The innovators, who conquer a new realm in art, often have the 
illusion that they have achieved possession of, or displaced, the old 
realms as well; but it is fairly plain that the aesthetic revolution of 
the world as a system of mechanics is only one of the movements of 
the human spirit. This does not lessen the merits of the artists who 
have made us sensitive to these new forms; on the contrary, they 
have not merely given us pictures, like those of Bracque and Du- 
champ in France; of Baylinson and Benton and Lozowick in Amer 
ica; sculptures like those of Archipenko, Brancusi, and Duchamps- 
Villon; and photographs like those of Stieglitz and Strand which 
are excellent in their own right: they have also helped to acclimate 

29 g THE ARTS 

us to the world in which we live a world in which machinery ex 
ists not only to perform useful services but to be, as far as pos 
sible, enjoyed. 

Here one becomes conscious of the reciprocal functions of the 
arts of use and the arts of contemplation; for although they are 
different in origin and intention, they are forever crossing back and 
forward across the line that divides them. On one hand, the arts 
of contemplation, feeding primarily upon the religious, philosophic, 
and aesthetic ideas of a period or a tradition, create an independent 
reality. But the picture or the statue so created becomes a stim 
ulus: he who enjoys Michelangelo is more conscious of the ar 
chitecture of the human body; he who enjoys Albert Pinkham 
Ryder responds more intensely to the green twilight of moon over 
an open sea, he who enjoys Stieglitz awakens anew to the meaning 
of the sky. On the other hand, the arts of use, when they are 
perfected, produce forms which are themselves subjects for con 
templation: barns, ships, grain elevators, constructed without 
direct xsthetic aim, become objects of happy contemplation and 
suggest new themes to the artists. 

In periods of active culture, the inner and the outer, the con 
templative and the useful, recur in the ordinary rhythm of life; 
and, as in science the dilemmas of the shipbuilders were an incentive 
to Lord Kelvin and those of the wine-growers to Pasteur, so the 
pure artist is none the worse for being confronted from time to 
time with some contemporary actuality. 

One of the great difficulties of the artist s retreat during the 
nineteenth century was that this vital and organic relationship in 
the arts was almost impossible to secure; and though an isolated 
man of great talent, like the Englishman, Alfred Stevens, might 
both create the Wellington Monument and design steelware for 
Sheffield cutlery, it has not been until the present generation, with 
the application of Picasso to stage design, of Dufy to the design 
of cretonnes, of numerous French, Dutch, and German artists 
to architecture, that any such intercourse has taken place. Never 
theless, it is quite plain that the divorce of design from the act of 
craftsmanship? under machine production! has made the pure 
artist an indispensable collaborator in many departments of pro- 


duction: Iiis relation to design is like that of the pure scientist to 
technological method- And just as technology can advance only 
to the extent that there is free play of hypothesis and experiment, 
without any subordination to immediate industrial needs, so the 
application of the pure arts to industrial design, in house-building, 
furniture making, linoleum stamping, and so forth can exist only 
after the contemplative arts are practised and valued for their 
own sake when we prize art solely for what it gives us in imme 
diate emotional realization or intuition. 

The arts which are least fettered to material conditions, except 
those which they establish for their own purpose painting and 
music for example owe the smallest amount to the accidental 
limitations of their environment and most to their heritage and 
to the needs of the human personality. In the nature of things, 
the heritage as a whole in the arts and the human personality itself 
are a relatively stable thing: that which any generation contributes^ 
either through new activities or through technical achievements^ 
is little in comparison with what art and life have deposited in the 
past. It is this freedom from the contemporary and the con 
tiguous that gives the arts their great part in the economy of the 
personality: for the artist not merely bears the stamp of his en 
vironment; he also has a means of reacting upon it and giving it, 
in one degree or another, a different stamp. A man who loves 
the human body, as Rodin did, or who seizes obscure moments 
of mystic insight, as Redon and Ryder did, has an even more es 
sential part to play in a machine age than the artist who responds 
solely to the mechanical aspects of our environment; for he gives 
freedom to the expression of the personality as a whole, whereas 
the dominant routine may curb such expression and dehumanize 
the personality. In so far as our age has been prostrated and 
paralyzed by the machine and in many important respects this 
is true the need for a superficially unrelated art, an art, that is, 
more deeply related to life and personality, has become greater. 
In literature, a Shakespeare or a Melville may be more important 
for us than a Shaw; in philosophy, Mr. Santayana may become 
more significant than William James, precisely because the remoter 
writers stand outside the conventions that we so helplessly conform 


to* The same thing holds true in the arts. A worshipper of na 
ture, like John Marin, is no less essential to the expression of our 
time than an experimenter in machine forms like Marcel Duchamp. 
Society, as Okakura Kakuzo said, speaking out of the experience 
of an older culture, is the sphere of the conventions; art is the 
sphere of freedom. If we are to maintain our freedom we must 
be ready to foster, even in adverse circumstances, expression in the 
pure arts. These arts are not the product of any particular state 
of economic life; they began their existence under the province of 
another race of men than our own, in the Aurignacian caves, and 
why should we think they will cease to exist because we now sink 
mine-shafts and subways? 


WHEN we turn from the traditional arts to the new arts that arose 
with the machine economy the picture becomes somewhat different, 
Engineering as an exact art came into existence during the Renais 
sance and entered upon a period of astonishing growth in the eight 
eenth century, the century that saw the perfected steam engine, the 
power loom, and the iron bridge. Even in its primitive applica 
tions, in the art of fortification in the seventeenth century, en 
gineering showed results which placed it, at times, on the level 
of architecture. 

With the development of mathematics and physics, the art of 
engineering flourished. By exact measurements, by tested for 
mulae, by fine calibrations, a new technique in handling materials 
came into existence whose success was measured, not by its incor 
poration of the human touch and the human personality, but by 
its total elimination of these characteristics. Engineering deals 
in known quantities: it seeks to achieve calculable results; and its 
highest products have been in those departments where the un 
known or uncertain factors could be reduced to a minimum. By 
making cast-iron and steel available as a common material of art 
throughout Western Europe and America, metallurgy placed at 
our disposal a substance more pliable than stone or wood, and 
much more hard and tough and strong in its various possible mix 
tures than copper and its alloys; while in the lathe, the drill, and 


later the planing machine, the art of adapting this metal to the 
finest mechanical adjustments was made possible. The specialized 
machine itself is a derivative product: it is the machine-tool that 
is the source of our triumphs in the exact arts. 

Without steel, our machine-tools might have produced instru 
ments of exquisite accuracy, but they would have been few in 
number; without machine-tools, our plentiful supply of iron would 
have had little formal effect upon design, for this material would 
still have been subjected to the characteristic modifications of 
handicraft. Both these possibilities were explored in the early 
development of technology; for up to the eighteenth century the 
exact arts had produced as their crowning achievements only 
small instruments like clocks and watches, while as soon as iron 
came into general use, the early designer succumbed to the tempta 
tion to treat it in the fashion of handicraft stuff, with modelled 
and cast embellishments in the form of flowers and birds and 
fruit decorations which appear equally on the barrels of cannons, 
on the girders of bridges, and on the vacant parts of the earliest 

In spite of numerous sorties down these blind alleys, engineering 
by the middle of the nineteenth century, when the Crystal Palace 
was built in London, had begun to find its legitimate task and its 
proper canons of workmanship. The first complete demonstra 
tion of its power to produce great works of art came in the con 
struction of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. Without doubt, 
the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the great masterpieces of nineteenth 
century engineering, and, considered by the standards of aesthetics, 
it is perhaps the most complete work of architecture on a large 
scale that the century can show a perfect expression, in line and 
mass, of all that the structure demands from the engineering ele 
ments, and of all that the eye requires in their disposition. 

That engineering demands imaginative design, and is not the 
less an art because all the aesthetic conditions must be achieved 
within a narrow set of material limitations, is likewise established 
by the large number of badly designed engineering structures that 
we have produced: against a Brooklyn Bridge one may pit the un 
couth design of the Williamsburgh Bridge, against the Army Sup- 


ply Base in South Brooklyn one miglit put a score of unrhythmical, 

boxlike factories; and in general, for every example of strong 
imaginative engineering one might put a dozen examples of feeble 
work to prove that, while the impersonal arts are as capable of 
beauty as the humane arts, the mere employment of mathematical 
formulas or the close adherence to machine patterns is no guarantee 
whatever of xsthetlc success. 

During the last thirty years we have become more conscious of 
the aesthetic possibilities of the exact arts; and It Is no accident 
that our newest instruments, the automobile and the aeroplane, 
are not the weakest but the best of our machined products, a dis 
tinction which they share with American kitchen equipment and 
bathroom fixtures. Under our very eyes, an improvement In 
design has taken place, transforming the awkward mass and the 
broken lines of the primitive auto into the unified mass and the 
dick stream-lines of the modern car; or, by an even greater revolu 
tion in design, turning the imperfectly related planes of the push- 
power aeroplane into the more buoyant, gull-like tractor plane of 
today, with body and wing both gaining In beauty as they were 
adapted more carefully to the mechanical requirements of flight. 
So strong, so logical are these designs that they have inevitably a 
powerful imaginative effect; and one does not wonder at the Im 
pulse many European architects have succumbed to, to copy the 
forms of the aeroplane or the steamship even in buildings where 
their functions are foreign or irrelevant. 

In appreciating the great achievements of modern engineering, 
as an art, we must not however forget their limitations. The 
fact is that all the indisputable triumphs of the exact arts have been 
in fields where the human element has been eliminated, or where 
the function of the machine itself expressed the only human de 
sire involved as the aeroplane expresses the ancient human de 
sire for the powers of flight. The real test of our ability as artists 
and engineers will come when we attempt to carry the machine- 
technique Into fields of activity where the personality as a whole 
must be considered, and where social adaptations and psychological 
stresses and strains are just as important factors as tensile strength, 
load, or mechanical efficiency in operation. 


Up to the present our use of machine methods has been muddled 
by two different attitudes. One has been the pathetic error of 
using machine methods to achieve forms and qualities that are 
antagonistic to the nature of the machine: under this head comes 
the introduction of machine-carving in the manufacture of, say, 
Tudor chairs in order to simulate the ancient handicraft designs on 
a scale that will meet the vulgar mind. For anyone with an honest 
sense of design, the cheapest bent wood chair is superior to the 
faked replica of the machine. The contrary error is that of hold 
ing that the bent-wood machined chair is admirably suited to 
modern purposes because it is solely and entirely a product of the 
machine: this neglects the simple fact that it is totally unadapted 
in design to the contours of the human body in all but one or 
two brief stiff postures. To deny that the machine can produce 
art is a fallacy; to believe that everything the machine produces 
is excellent art is also a romantic fallacy. To curb the machine 
and limit art to handicraft is a denial of opportunity. To extend 
the machine into provinces where it has no function to per 
form is likewise a denial of opportunity. 

If engineering shares with music the supremacy in the arts dur 
ing the last hundred and fifty years and after a careful ap 
praisal of all its shortcomings I think that it does this does not 
decrease the need of the opportunity for other modes of expres 
sion. When human functions become the norm, a good part of 
current machine work will inevitably drop out of existence. 
Our increased knowledge of physiology has cast into limbo the 
elaborate weights and counterweights and horses that the me 
chanical gymnastics of the nineteenth century laboriously de 
veloped, with perilous results to the human body. So our in 
creased knowledge of education has shown the futility, for 
example, of highly specialized mechanical playground apparatus, 
such as see-saws fastened to fixed iron bases, when a simple plank 
and a saw-horse provide more varied forms of experimental play. 
Similar insight into human needs may turn many of our most tri 
umphant advances in engineering into otiose rubbish in spite of 
the utmost virtuosity they may exhibit as mechanical contrivances^ 
or the financial profit their exploitation may bring. But engineer- 


ing as an art will flourish all the more in its own right, when it 
ceases to daim recognition as a substitute for other arts; and in 
the long run it must profoundly modify our popular xsthetic. 


POLITICAL ECONOMY was written originally by professors of moral 
science and stockbrokers; and, in the light of their traditions, it is 
not altogether surprising that they conceived that the industrial 
Devolution was primarily, if not indeed solely, a mechanical and 
financial one. As a matter of fact, the introduction of new foods 
into Western civilization, particularly the potato and maize, and 
the application of the experimental method to agriculture, with the 
overthrow of a backward, customary farming, was an equally 
powerf ul instrument of change. 

In the mechanical transformation of the Western World, land 
scape architecture had a compensatory part to play. By a paradox, 
it came into existence in the very period that, in sinking mines, 
ruining forests, and extending slum areas, was blithely obliterat 
ing a good part of the natural landscape. This art is a classic ex 
ample of the interrelation of science and ideology and the arts. 
On one side, landscape architecture acquired its aesthetic, its method 
of design, from the contemporary landscape painters, Ruysdael, 
Wilson, Claude, Constable; and on the other, in its acceptance of 
natural forms, and in its intention merely to modify, for more per 
fect enjoyment, the landscape as it exists in nature, it derived 
from Rousseau and Linnaeus. The traditional art of the formal 
garden disappeared during this period it lingered chiefly as an 
appanage of royalty; but the art of modifying the whole landscape 
came to life, beginning with the improvement of country estates, 
and reaching the cities in the form of the landscape park. 

During the nineteenth century, this art became the chief com 
munal art in cities that had otherwise lost almost every organ of 
a common life apart from industrial enterprise: Regent Park in 
London, Central Park in New York, and the great park system 
established for metropolitan Boston were perhaps the principal , 
landmarks in this development. But in both Europe and Amer- 


ica, the naturalistic interest went one step further: in Europe it 
led to the formation of walking trails through the high Alps, and 
in America it resulted in the conception of the "wild park/ 9 a 
park which would exhibit a minimum modification of the land 
scape by man; and in naturally picturesque places like the Colorado 
Canyon or the Yosemite Valley, vast areas were set aside for this 

The deliberate culture of the whole landscape, for purposes not 
directly connected with the growth of food and timber, is one of 
the youngest of the arts; and it is only at the beginning of its 
influence. Parkways, riverways, state forests, town forests, moun 
tain trails, dedicated to beauty and health and the renewal of the 
spirit the development of these things modifies, it seems to me, 
our whole picture of the "machine age" and its future. If we 
left the desires and purposes that are so expressed out of account, 
we might easily believe that the great reservoirs of energy the 
machine-process is tapping would be expended in the future solely 
upon a more lavish mechanical equipment two motor cars for 
every inhabitant, or a vacuum cleaner for every room, or some 
similar preposterous extravagance which a desperate salesmanship 
might invent. But there is also another possibility. We are now 
slowly learning to do as communities what rich individuals do 
occasionally as "country gentlemen" {revivify and restore the 
whole landscape, returning with love wkat we destroyed in our 
haste and our greedy, short-sighted financial exploitation,^ JUr 
gional planning and country planning are the current names for 
this process; and"where the idea^^EHglroot, ^Tf^_itself~^y 
"^resentTy^reak through the soil and shoot upward, on a far more 
extensive scale than we may now picture. 

The arts of ordering the earth and improving its living forms 
what Professor Patrick Geddes has called geotechnics and bio- 
technics are as much indebted to the experimental methods of 
modern science as the purely mechanical departments of our life; 
it is a naive habit of the paleotechnic period to identify science 
merely with the physical sciences, and to consider all the arts as 
subordinate to the machine. Our scientific knowledge of the 
earth and its organic forms is a later development than the phys- 


ical sciences; but in the period that is now opening there is rea 
son to believe that it may have an equally revolutionary effect upon 
the associated arts, whilst the machine itself advances from the 
muck and disorder and waste of the coal-and-iron-and-steam period 
to the finer and more conservative economy of electricity and the 
lighter metals. 


IT IS not only in the arts that have been fructified by science that 
there has been a distinct gain. Once the disruption of the tradi 
tional arts was complete, it became possible to revive them on a 
modem basis; and since, roughly, 1880, there has gone on a re 
vival in typography, textiles, furniture, in architecture and city 
planning which shows, I think, that science and technics, while 
tiey liave altered the basis of these arts, have not done away with 
die possibilities of their proper growth and development. I shall 
concentrate on architecture and city design; for these are the 
master arts; and they flourish only to the extent that they can 
call freely on the accessory crafts. 

Beginning first in America, among the group of original minds 
that began to design the warehouses and office buildings of Chicago 
daring the eighties, a fresh impetus in architectural design has 
now spread throughout Western civilization. "What is in back of 
it? Modern architecture differs from all the revivals that began 
with the Renaissance in that it springs out of a new logic of struc 
ture, instead of deriving from the last stage in architectural de 
velopment the ornament. This logic is founded on certain cap 
ital facts: first, that our habits of living have changed; second^ 
that the functions of a building have been modified partly by the 
introduction of mechanical utilities for heat, drainage, equalization 
of temperature; finally, that modern technology has provided a 
whole range of new materials and methods the steel cage and 
ferro-concrete construction for example which have altered the 
essential problems of design. 

As a result, the content and potential rhythm of a modern build 
ing has changed. Mr, Frank Lloyd "Wright has altered the pro- 


portions of wall and window, making his ceilings low and his win 
dows continuous; Mr. Erich Mendelssohn, in the Einstein Tower, 
has treated ferro-concrete as a completely plastic material; P. P. 
Oud in Holland and Messrs. Stein and Wright in America have 
designed dwelling-houses whose aesthetic value comes solely through 
the spacing and grouping of simple, standardized units; whilst the 
most original skyscraper architects, Messrs. Corbett, Kahn, Walker, 
Harmon, and Hood, have created vast structures which, by sheer 
mass and proportion and disposition of the parts, sometimes ac 
quire the dignity of great building. There is nothing in European 
or American architecture since the seventeenth century to equal in 
originality of design and in positive conception the important 
buildings of the last thirty years, buildings like the Marshall Field 
"Warehouse, the Monadnock Building, the Los Angeles Public Li 
brary, the Shelton Hotel, the Barclay- Vesey Building, the interior 
of the Hill Auditorium at Ann Arbor, the railroad station at 
Helsingfors, the Town Hall at Stockholm, the Bourse at Amster 
dam,; the concert-hall at Breslau to mention only a handful of 
examples chosen at random. It is almost as impossible to char 
acterize all the varied manifestations of this architecture,* partic 
ularly during the last twenty years, as it is to characterize the 
Gothic; but, like the Gothic of the thirteenth century, it per 
haps witnesses a common impulse towards synthesis throughout 
Western civilization, 

Our achievements in architecture have been curbed by the fact 
that except in certain European cities the architect has lost his 
sense of the whole: the best buildings are not assured, by adequate 
city planning, of the best sites, or even of relatively important 
ones; so that, while in the actual order of development we have 
risen from good engineering to good architecture, and may eventu 
ally rise from good architecture to good city design, as numerous 
plans for city extensions and new communities already promise, 
it is only by reversing this process and securing control of the 
social situation that we shall be able to extend and perpetuate the 
advances we have made. What does this mean? It means modi 
fying public taste through the creation of a new aesthetic; it means 
curbing extravagant ground rents and preventing the misuse of 


sites; In general, it means treating the community itself as a major 
element in design. Before architecture can produce more than 
isolated masterpieces, our social skill must be pushed at least as 
far as our engineering skill, defining the several functions of a city 
and controlling the use of land for the benefit of the whole com 
munity. Where this has been done by public authority in Hol 
land, Germany, and England, architecture has profited. 

WE COME at last to city design. If one excepts the extravagant 
and socially dubious improvements made in Paris and Vienna dur 
ing the nineteenth century, city design almost completely disap 
peared. With indisputable gains in mechanical efficiency, in the 
manufacture and transportation of certain products, there was a 
vast loss in the communal art of living. In the new cities the 
liousing accommodation, not merely for the industrial workers but 
for a good part of the middle classes, was below decent hygienic 
standards; private gardens disappeared, and as the cities increased 
in area, population, and wealth the amount of sunlight, fresh air, : 
open spaces relatively diminished. 

There were many criticisms of this condition from Engels to 
Ruskin, from the physician who planned the imaginary town of 
Hygeia to the industrial magnates who attempted to improve con 
ditions in Pullman, Port Sunlight, and Essen; but the first adequate 
conception of the problem was formulated by Sir Ebenezer Howard 
when he published his classic proposal for garden cities under the 
title, "To-morrow." Mr. Howard pointed out that the nineteenth 
century city had become amorphous: it had neither shape nor 
bounds: the only inter-relation of its parts was an inter-relation of 
mechanical utilities, sewers, water-mains, and transportation sys 
tems and even these were designed at haphazard. 

Adequate design, Mr. Howard saw, was not a matter merely of 
providing architectural approaches or "civic centres," nor was it 
a matter of elaborating further the physical utilities: it was es 
sentially a sociological matter, and it must face every problem of 
the city s existence; any fine aesthetic result could only be the 


crown of a long series of efforts. Modern city design involved 
planning cities as units in relation to natural resources and recrea 
tion areas; it meant planning of house-sites and gardens and schools 
so that children could be bred under conditions that would further 
their physical survival and their culture: it called for the provision 
of factory-sites and the co-ordination of industries: and finally* 
it demanded as a condition of continuous growth the creation of 
new city-units, surrounded by rural areas, but with all the benefits 
of urban co-operation, schools, amusements, libraries, theatres, 
hospitals, and so forth. Modern city design meant the adequate 
resolution of all these problems problems which actual city plan 
ning by engineers and architects not merely shirked but never even 
posed for themselves. 

Mr. Howard s conception of city growth as growth by com 
munities, related to their region and" to its industrial life, chal 
lenged the existing methods and habits; for it shifted the whole 
emphasis from mechanical planning and patchwork, to compre 
hensive social planning. Although Mr. Howard s conceptions have 
actually been embodied in two English cities, Welwyn and Letch- 
worth, and although they have deeply modified the current concep 
tions of city planning in Europe, and to a smaller extent in Amer 
ica, city planning is still the least progressive of the arts; and the 
new cities of the Western World are not organic centres but inef 
ficient mechanical agglomerations. This state of affairs need not 
excite our wonder; for, compared with any single specialized in 
dustry, the co-ordinations and transformations required for modern 
city planning are infinitely more complicated, and the human 
variables are much more difficult to handle. Despite this tardi 
ness in development, our city planning must eventually not merely 
reach the point that Messrs. Howard and Unwin had reached by 
1904; it must even pass beyond it; for our new technological 
achievements in the automobile, the aeroplane, long-distance com 
munications and giant power transmission have made our existing 
centres inefficient and obsolete. 

Whatever the city of the future may be, we can now say with 
some confidence that it will not be the Leviathan of machinery, 
with manifold subways, multiple streets, windowless houses, and 

3 io THE ARTS 

costly artificial substitutes for the natural elements that the vulgar 
imagination of today conjures up on the basis of an early Vic 
torian ideology. The mechanical Leviathan, which cities like New 
York and Chicago now approximate and aspire toward, is a dead 
form: it is dead not merely because it burkes human functions and 
purposes; it is equally dead because it conflicts with the gains in 
modern technology. With our modern means of communication, 
the region is now the locus of activity, not the single unit of a 
city; and there is no more reason to cover the region over with 
continuous streets and houses in a day that knows the auto and 
the aeroplane, than there is to go back to the oxcart for transporta 

With the city planned for human functions and activities, the 
scale of our mechanical operations alters. When street areas are 
planned in relation to the capacity of buildings, and when sunlight 
and air are provided for every window, we do away with the 
necessity for such a costly engineering device as the double-decked 
street or artificial ventilation; when houses are grouped around 
parks and garden spaces, and designed for through ventilation and 
full sunlight for all rooms, the necessity for expensive substitutes 
like artificial sunlight is removed; when the telephone and the 
radio are employed, social intercourse is just as close in an open 
network of communities as in a congested metropolis; when giant 
power provides the power-line and our motor roads and airways 
the means of transportation our factories are no longer chained to 
the railroad siding or the terminal. In sum, modern community 
planning, when it plans in terms of human functions instead of 
speculation, ground rents, extravagant multiplication of utilities, 
and progressive chaos, will provide a new setting not merely for 
architecture but for all our social functions. 

The role of city design in the future can hardly be over 
emphasized. Our specialization in the arts is tolerable only when 
we re-unite them again in the city itself as part of the active func 
tions of citizens when music, painting, poetry, the dance, gym 
nastics have as essential a part in our daily life as subway rides 
and newspapers now have in the economy of the metropolitan 
worker. Today, the possibilities for such an integrated life are 

THE ARTS 3 ir 

open only to a small, prosperous minority, a badly educated and 
largely futile leisure class; only an infinitesimal part of the in 
dustrial population, whether in the open country or in cities, live 
under conditions which are favorable to the complete humaniza- 
tion of man in society. In the main, their development is stunted 
and one-sided, a caricature of their complete heritage and potential 
ity, very largely because the communities in which they live are 
one-sided and partly developed whilst in the big metropolises, 
where a more complete development is possible, the routine of liv 
ing the depression produced by bad air, sunless streets, long 
suffocating hours wasted in the transportation of the human car 
cass, crowded housing quarters vitiates the happy expression and 
fulfilment of life. 

City design is the art of orchestrating human functions in the 
community. As, through the applications of the scientific method, 
our ability to forecast and control our purposes increases, regional 
planning must provide the framework for city design, architec 
ture must avail itself more and more of community planning and 
engineering must give precedence to architecture thus reversing 
the present condition under which there is a vast proliferation of 
misconceived and misapplied physical utilities and a perpetual 
scamping of human purpose and design* This is not an abstract 
conclusion; it emerges from the actual situation in the arts to 
day* Once the framework for a humane life is prepared, the 
arts that arise naturally tinder these happy auspices will appear, 
not constrained, specialized, shrunken, often insignificant, as they 
are to-day, but in something like the original virility that char 
acterized them throughout western Europe before the introduc 
tion of the machine. 

IN SUM, we can now see, I believe, that the machine age is not a 
fixed monument in relation to which the arts must get their bear 
ings. The machine age began with great discoveries in the phys 
ical sciences, with the application of experiment and invention to 
mechanical contraptions, and with the domination of engineering 

3 i2 THE ARTS 

as the supreme art. Its early growth was marked by the dilapida 
tion of all the traditional arts except those which by their nature 
could retreat to the cloister. In the arts which arise out of per 
sonality and social needs, the machine age has developed slowly; 
but with the increasing application of biological knowledge to 
hygiene, agriculture, and medicine, of psychology to education, 
and of the social sciences to the actual problems of industry plan 
ning and city design and regional development, the one-sided 
emphasis on mechanical technique, which marked the early transi 
tion, should eventually give way to a more even-handed com 
petence in dealing with every aspect of life. With the existence 
of greater opportunities for leisure, provided potentially by the 
machine economy but still far from actual achievement, the per 
sonal and contemplative arts, which were either isolated or re 
duced to frivolity m the early stages of industrialism, should flour 
ish again. 

There is, of course, no certainty that any of these things will 
happen. A disastrous series of wars might even throw us back 
into a pre-industrial era, or drive the spirit into a superstitious 
ideology in which compliance with inscrutable powers outside our 
selves, powers working fear, disaster, death, would take the place 
of that active if unnameable faith which buoys up all those who 
now heartily pursue the arts and sciences. It is even possible that 
our financial organizations, taking advantage of sundry narrow 
psychological skills,- may find a way of keeping the arts and 
sciences tethered to the market, and of emasculating them of every 
hypothesis that would upset the profit-making mechanism. Any 
or all of these perversions and miscarriages may come to pass; but 
none of them will arise out of the legitimate method of science, 
nor will they occur because tested and verifiable knowledge dis 
courages the arts and annuls the function of the artist. 

Science can not take the place of religion and philosophy; nor 
can engineering arrogate to itself the provinces of all the other 
arts. Our sciences, our ideologies, and our arts are, on the con 
trary, essential to humane living; and their expression in whole 
ness furthers and effectuates Life. 


NO QUESTION can be stated where everything is ques 
tioned. Ability to formulate a problem depends upon 
something which is admitted. Now what is taken for 
granted in the present inquiry is that men live in a world that is 
undergoing extensive and accelerated change, and that physical 
science and technological industry are the causes of this change. 
On the basis of this admission as to the character of contemporary 
civilization, the question is: What is implied for philosophy? Can 
philosophers stand aloof, indifferent and immune; or does this 
state of affairs say something to them, and say it so urgently that 
its voice must be hearkened to? It is proposed to answer the 
interrogation in the affirmative, the answer rests upon another 
premise which is taken to be admitted. It is taken for granted 
that philosophical problems and the theories suggested for their 
solution take their rise out of some social medium, past or present. 
The authentic subject-matter of philosophy is found in some 
state of culture, although all civilizations are sufficiently complex 
to provide quite diverse subject-matters- to different thinkers. 
But a philosopher draws upon that element of culture which is 
most congenial or most hostile to his own temperament and 
desires, whether it be the contemporary scene, Greece, India, or 
mediaeval Europe. Realistic content is derived positively from 
what is there; idealistic content is derived by way of recoil 
from the defects, perversions, and evils of the social medium. 

The tendency of many philosophers to withdraw into the past 
arJ the remote always easier to idealize does not mark a private 



idiosyncrasy. The past furnishes an atmosphere in which imagina 
tion thrives and thought is less bound down; while the continuity 
of present civilization with that of the past necessitates this re 
course. Ever since the time of the Greeks, European culture has 
been a borrowed one. The bases and chief values of life have 
been alien, not indigenous- Rome went in debt to Greece and 
the Orient; medixval culture owed everything that was ordered 
and supremely prized to Greece, Rome, Judea, and Alexandria; 
the civilization we call modern has been a struggle to accommodate 
the outcome of these borrowings to new elements. Philosophers 
have oscillated between efforts to strike a balance, to repudiate 
the debts, to declare bankruptcy, and sometimes, though less often, 
to liquidate what is owed and establish the solvency of modern 
life. In a civilization largely built out of alien traditions, it is 
not surprising that thinkers have been more concerned about 
transmitted borrowings than about contemporary and novel fac 
tors. Bacon and Descartes set out with avowal of independence 
and originality, but even they conducted their intellectual enter 
prises on capital drawn from sources they nominally rejected. 

Tension between old and new has, however, been sufficient to 
influence the course of philosophic thought since the sixteenth 
century. Curiously enough, the tension has been least felt in the 
New World, in the United States. The scene in which new factors 
have had the most unrestricted sway in fact, has been that in 
which thinkers, excepting a few outside of professional bounds, 
have lived most contentedly upon borrowed capital. The more, 
it would seem, actual life has been transformed by the application 
of natural science in industry and commerce, the more profes 
sional philosophers have ignored the contemporary situation and 
devoted themselves to manipulation of portions of the European 
tradition torn from its living context. The result is the thin 
meagreness of American contributions to the reflective thought of 
mankind. There is manifest neither the vitality that springs from 
acceptance of a living tradition that retains significance by struggle 
with forces which attack and would undermine it, nor that which 
might spring from appreciative concern with forces that actually 
dominate contemporary life. 


Some European philosophies have been refuges framed for con 
solation and compensation. But these cities of emotional and 
moral refuge were at least sought out because of realization of im 
minent peril. Other philosophies have been deliberate protests 
against the inherited tradition; they have been revolutionary in 
intent. Others have given themselves to the task of reconcilia 
tion and mediation. In consequences, these European philosophies 
have been pregnant with meaning in their own social contexts. 
It is possible for a French historian to write a history of French 
philosophy with titles drawn from characteristic social move 
ments. British philosophy until the nineteenth century was a de 
liberate attempt to supply a creed for liberalism and social reform, 
and its reliance upon German thought in the latter nineteenth 
century was an attempt to discover adequate means for counter 
acting disintegrative results of the earlier liberalism as that was 
carried into action. German thought, conventionally the most 
speculative and otherworldly of all European systems, has been 
either a social apologia elaborated by a highly technical apparatus, 
or a program of social revolution. As for Russia there every 
social movement, conservative or radical, has openly, even 
flagrantly, linked its programme with some mode of philosophic 
doctrine. An American student is bewildered to find, for ex 
ample, that Lenin considered it necessary as part of his practical 
movement to engage in heated polemic against every German 
philosophic doctrine, however innocently theoretical it looks in our 
perspective, that deviates from orthodox dialectical materialism* 

In contrast with the vitality of European philosophies, Amer 
ican professional philosophy has taken with utmost seriousness in 
tellectual formulations extracted from their actual setting. It has 
played with them in detachment. American philosophies were 
idealistic, realistic, or pragmatic of this or that shade, without 
leaving in their wake a ripple in American life. Santayana, the 
only American thinker who has systematically employed even, 
reaction against the American scene as a factor in framing his 
philosophy, is of Spanish origin and no longer lives in the coun 
try. William James is the outstanding exception to what has 
been said, in that he used intellectually as much of the distinctively 


American tradition as Bad In Bis day come to any consciousness 
of Itself. But he probably Bad more influence abroad tBan at 
home and is here still criticized as uttering in effect a supine glori 
fication of what Is least worthy in American life. Otherwise, 
one has to go beyond philosophic bounds, to Emerson, Thoreau, 
"Walt Whitman, to find a critical evaluation and report of the 
American scene. 

The situation as described shows many signs of loosening, of 
breaking up. Such detachment cannot go on indefinitely. If 
the actual scene does not offer a sufficient challenge, that of the 
chorus of European critics does. The challenge is not one that 
should produce apologetic justification; much less petulant retort. 
It is a challenge to understanding. What is our materialism, our 
commercialism, our narrow practicality, our childish immaturity, 
our impatient preoccupation with hurry and movement? What is 
our alleged "practical Idealism/* our devotion to "social service/* 
our curious combination of individualism with collectivlstic stand 
ardization and conformity? What is the meaning of our union 
of Ideals of peace and regard for the rights of self-determination of 
other people with an expansion that looks to the outsider remark 
ably Hke familiar economic Imperialism? Whence and why our 
combination of complacency and restless discontent? Whence and 
why our multiplication of regulative laws conjoined with prac 
tical lawlessness? Why are our politics and our thinking so 
legalistic and our practice a matter of taking short-cuts across all 
legal boundaries? And so on indefinitely. 

The challenge Is the more peremptory because, If our European 
critics be correct, Europe, and probably the Orient, are them 
selves being "Americanized," so that what we are now the world 
in general is coming to be. For this fact (or prophecy with 
whatever truth it may contain) recalls attention to the central 
fact that the force most active in contemporary life is growth of 
habits congruous with natural science and still more with the 
technological application of its discoveries. Practically every 
phase of our present technique of industry and commerce has its 
roots in some discovery made somewhere in some laboratory by 
some scientist engaged in physical or chemical research. Indeed* 


the connection is now so obvious to the "practical" man that a 
characteristic feature of our recent industrial life is the develop 
ment within business Itself of richly subsidized laboratories, the 
number of which is put at some five hundred, and the more im 
portant of which are engaged in "pure" research. We cannot 
discriminate, even if we should like to, the scientific phase of 
present civilization from its technological phase. 

This intimate union of science and technology, realized in me 
chanical civilization, is a challenge to our most cherished philosophic 
tradition* For the outstanding feature of the classic tradition is 
the separateness of knowledge and practice, a separation in which 
adjectives of praise and honor are attached to the former and those 
of depreciation to the latter. European philosophy early in its 
career committed itself to a celebration of the contemplative life. 
The rise of natural science did not seriously disturb the tradition* 
Philosophers went on interpreting knowledge by means of the 
earlier concepts of its exclusively contemplative nature long after 
actual knowledge in its most authentic form had adopted ex 
perimental methods, in spite of the fact that experimentation de 
pended upon the invention and use of physical tools and machines. 
The dependence of the worker in the factory upon mechanical 
devices is no greater than that of the worker in the laboratory. 
The latter consciously employs an elaborate apparatus of theory and 
theoretical calculations of which the factory worker is innocent. 
But the latter can ignore this auxiliary intellectual apparatus only 
because for him it is already physically incarnate in the machines 
he operates. The machine is the authentically embodied Logos 
of modern life, and the import of this fact is not diminished by 
any amount of dislike to it. 

Philosophy has, however, been little affected by the transforma 
tion of the ways in which men actually pursue knowledge. It has 
remained, as far as possible, true to conceptions formulated more 
than two thousand years ago in Greece, when the experimental 
method was not dreamed of; when indeed the absence of me 
chanical appliances made the method impossible. Philosophy has 
paid deference to science; but its obeisances have been made father 
to the conclusions of science than to its method* As far as the 


nature of the knowing operation and function is concerned, philos 
ophers have disputed whether knowledge is a direct grasp and 
intuition of real things, or whether the only things directly known 
are impressions and ideas in the mind* They have disputed 
whether sensation or reason is the basic guarantee of knowledge. 
But the schools have retained the notion that in any case know 
ing is a matter of some contact or intercourse between mind on 
one side and things on the other, a contact and intercourse inde 
pendent of the needs and instrumentalities of practical activity. 
At first sight this fact may seem of little importance save to pro 
fessional philosophers. But in reality it involves two of the most 
significant problems of common humanity, and begs the question 
as to their solution. For there is contained in it an issue as to the 
nature of truth and as to the organ by which it is achieved. There 
is also included an assumption as to the nature of the "practical" 
that identifies it with the merely utilitarian or the commercial and 
the politic, to the neglect of any ideal content. The endeavor to 
pour the new wine of knowledge into old bottles of tradi 
tional notions as to the contemplative essence and function of 
knowing signifies in effect that ideas and intelligence inhabit a self- 
enclosed realm, and that vital human affairs are conducted by turn 
ing to personal and class account such conclusions of science as 
lend themselves to pecuniary gain and power over others. 

Critics of our present social regime often assume that the evils 
of our industrial civilization are the exclusive products of the 
reign of mechanical technology. It seems to be inherent in hu 
man nature to want a deity to worship and a devil to abhor. 
Machinery has become the devil of a wide-spread cult* But the 
indictment overlooks the fact that our existing institutions and 
interests have their roots in the past, and that the use we make of 
mechanical instrumentalities is not due to these instruments alone 
but to their entanglement with a texture of beliefs and ideals that 
matured in a pre-industrial age. In such a condition there is more 
petulance than enlightenment in charging evils to machines and 
industry. The only thing certain is that, when men think and 
believe in one set of symbols and act in ways which are contrary 
to their professed and conscious ideas, confusion and insincerity 


are bound to result, and that in this chaos the unregenerated ele 
ments of man, lacking direction, avidly snatch at those immediate 
and nearby goods which present themselves as attainable. It 
would be absurd to hold philosophy responsible for the divided 
estate of civilization; it shows rather a reflection of the division in 
life itself. But unreconstructed philosophy gives an intellectual 
formulation of the division, and perpetuates it by the rational 
justification it thereby seems to provide. However slowly the 
ideas of thinkers filter into popular consciousness, the first move 
in straightening out, on the intellectual side, the tangle, in clarify 
ing the confusion, lies with thinkers. They must set their own 
house in order before they can furnish any plans and specifications 
for a better integration of the activities of men. This fact seems 
to me to define the connection of philosophy in America with 

Classic Greek philosophy and the mediaeval synthesis at least re 
flected the conditions and aspirations of their own times in a co 
herent system of beliefs. Their ideas could be used to formulate 
a warrant and goal for their own conduct and institutions. The 
resultant religious-philosophic organization of beliefs permeated 
men s minds and was congruous with their deepest hopes and fears. 
It supplied the greatest need of man, that of an authority by 
which to live. The central point in this system of authority was 
the conviction that knowledge is obtained by direct contact of mind 
with reality, supplemented by revelation; that the knowledge so at 
tained by reason and faith would bring about, when projected into 
the happier estate of life after death, a direct possession and en 
joyment of the ultimate reality, God. That is, a theory of knowl 
edge which isolated both its method and its outcome from practical 
action was the essence of the classic theory, and the theory had 
authority, since it laid down both the goal of life and the means of 
attaining the goal. 

The traditional theory received a shock from the rise of new 
methods in physical science. Everyone is familiar with the strug 
gle induced by the incompatibility of traditional astronomy, the 
"science" which underlay and justified commonly accepted be 
liefs about earth, heaven, and hell, with the astronomy of Coper- 


mcus and Galileo* We are familiar with a similar although less 
bitter conflict going on today in the realm of ideas about living 
creatures, plants and animals. The opposition to each other of 
fundamentalist and modernist is the latest expression of the results 
of a shock felt in the sixteenth century. Familiarity with these 
facts does not of itself, however, induce familiarity with a more 
important consideration. These special conflicts are but the out 
ward and visible signs of an inner conflict that concerns the very 
nature of what is to be accepted as knowledge and truth, and the 
methods by which this knowledge and truth are to be attained. 
Since such truth and the method of obtaining it is the seat of 
ultimate authority, or affords the warrant of man s ultimate al 
legiances, the conflict reaches down to the depths of belief and to 
the patterns of conduct and institutions bound up with belief. 

Hence it was practically inevitable that modern thought should 
make the problem of knowledge its central problem. It would 
require a long and technical discussion, to prove the statement 
previously made that consideration of this problem has been 
dominated by retention of notions formed in a period in which ex 
perimental inquiry was non-existent. I can cite only an, illustra 
tion or two. An illuminating instance is found in the formulation 
given to the problem. Is knowledge possible and if so how? 
What are its limits and extent? The answer to the latter ques 
tion which the actual pursuit of knowledge would have suggested 
is: Knowledge is possible as far as we can develop instrumentalities 
of inquiry, measurement, symbolization, calculations, and test 
ing. This is perhaps the one answer that has not been given. 
Solution of the question as to the legitimate extent of knowledge 
has been sought on the basis of inherited premises as to the nature 
of mind, of sensations, of concepts, and the relation, physical and 
epistemological, of mind to the nature of reality as pre-defined; 
that is, as thought of in a way that was independent of the results 
of inquiry. 

There is something ironical in the very statement of the prob 
lem of the possibility of knowledge. At the time when science 
was advancing at an unprecedented rate, philosophers were ask 
ing whether knowledge was possible. And when the answer was 


in the affirmative, it was justified on the basis of notions about 
mind, sensation or reason. The straightforward course would 
seem to have been an examination of the procedures by which 
knowledge is obtained in actual practice. Men discover how it is 
possible to walk or talk or fly by examining how these things are 
actually done. What other way is there by which to find out how 
knowledge is possible? That this road represents the one road 
which was not taken may have some other explanation than that 
philosophers are so made that they naturally take the most back 
handed approach to anything. The real explanation is that they 
have been primarily occupied with reconciling tradition with the 
new movement of science. From the standpoint of tradition, a 
report of how knowledge is obtained would so contradict inherited 
ideas of mind, in its isolation from the body and other agencies 
of practical action, as to constitute a serious and perplexing issw. 
Philosophers were not a unique class. They reflected the control 
which tradition, engrained in institutions as well as in beliefs, had 
over the minds of men even when their practice ventured into 
previously untried fields in ways incompatible with the tradition. 
One further illustration may be drawn from an allied field. 
The deepest problem of modern ethical philosophy has been the 
reconciliation of human freedom with that phase of science which 
is called "the reign of law/ 3 All sorts of solutions have been pro 
pounded, from denial of the reality of freedom to the postulation 
of a realm above nature by entrance into which man s moral free 
dom is secured. Attention to the practical scene of contemporary 
human activity would have given an entirely different turn to 
the discussion. For every phase of technological civilization shows 
that an advance in knowledge of natural uniformities and neces 
sary conditions increases man s working freedom, namely, control 
of nature, enabling him to harness natural energies to his own 
purposes. This operative power may not correspond to the tradi 
tional definition of freedom, for that originated in days when 
man was so enslaved to natural conditions that he could conceive 
of freedom only as escape from the bondage they imposed. But 
it is at least an appreciable part of what men actually want under 
the name of freedom. The freedom thus gained moreover is 


poorly thought of when it is conceived merely as increased liberty 
to realize desires already stirring in men. Its more considerable 
phase is the release of new desires, the creation and projection of 
previously unheard of purposes. It was the sense of this new 
kind of freedom, freedom to want and strive for all kinds of new 
possibilities, that expressed itself in the feeling of living in a new 
world lending itself to indefinite progress. This fact brings us to 
a. consideration of that degradation of the idea of the "practical* 9 
which has been noted. As far as the traditional idea of the isola 
tion of mind from natural conditions, and the superiority of mind 
to these conditions, persisted, the feeling assumed, of necessity, a 
romantic form. As far as actual practice was concerned, the new 
control was mainly used for personal material advantage. 

Thus the traditionalist has a ready retort. He may claim that 
to offer this freedom, freedom to conceive and execute desires, as 
if it signified what man justly cherishes as true freedom, is only to 
exemplify the degradation of values and ideals which has been 
wrought by industrial civilization. For, according to traditional 
pigeon-holes, all desires that are capable of concrete realization 
fall within the strictly economic field, within the area of wants for 
material things and for material prosperity. What of spiritual 
freedom, of freedom in respect to things which are the dignities 
and ennoblements of human life; art, religious communion and 
adoration, the un tethered flight of moral aspirations? What bet 
ter proof can be found, it is asked, of the degeneration effected 
by industrial civilization than that liberation of economic wants 
by material means should be proposed as if it were relevant to 
significant human freedom? 

The question reaches far. Before it is considered, it will be well 
to deal with another objection of a limited nature, 

The position taken exemplifies, it may be urged, a complacent 
contentment with existing industrial conditions. Instead of ex 
tension of human control over purposes and their realization, 
machine-made and machine-bound civilization has deprived men of 
leisure and led to use of such leisure as they possess in mad search 
for amusement and foolish display. It has brought not freedom 
but enslavement to the machine. Work has been deprived of joy; 


artistic feeling has been eliminated from its performance and its 
products. The masses have been condemned to become ap 
pendages to the machines they tend; and those released from this 
fate manifest their boasted freedom for the most part only in 
holding the activities of others in thrall. It is only heartless in 
difference which can behold in such a state of affairs a gain in hu 
man freedom. 

The facts that underlie this indictment are undeniable. They 
are not to be wholly disposed of by setting against the indictment 
the deplorable state of the masses in all ages, or by pointing out 
that distance and ignorance effect an easy idealization of their 
estate in the past. It is more to the point to inquire how far the 
evils pointed to are solely chargeable to the machine and how 
far they are due to perpetuation of modes of desire, habits of 
thought, and institutions that developed in the delightful agrarian 
and feudal age. For the consciousness of the evil conditions 
under which masses live, the recognition of them as something 
humanly abhorrent, as something against which conscience and 
will should revolt, is itself a product of industrial civilization. 
One does not find the revolt in earlier civilizations; one does not 
find it in those parts of the earth which have as yet not come 
under the industrial blight. The peculiar thing is not the enslave 
ment of masses of mankind to the necessities of making a hardly- 
won precarious livelihood; that has existed at all times and places. 
The distinctive thing is increased consciousness of this state of 
affairs and discontent with it; the belief that it is unjust and un 
natural; the conviction that it is a monster to be extirpated. Such 
an attitude could not have risen until industrial civilization had 
sufficiently advanced to bring with it the perception of the pos 
sibility of a free life upon a higher level for all mankind; until 
command of natural energies by means of machinery had enabled 
imagination to conceive of leisure for all. The state of things 
which is now emphasized as the product of industrial civilization 
was through long ages taken for granted as part of the natural, 
the necessary, yes, the providential, order of things. 

The modern democratic movement in its broad sense provides 
the background for our "humanitarian" aspirations. The machine 


age has resulted in a transference of the locus of the ideal of 
a larger and more evenly distributed happiness and leisure from 
heaven to earth. This is true even though the attainment of the 
Meal is as much beset with doubt in the earthly as in the other 
worldly scheme. The facts represented in this transference are 
closely connected with the issue involved in the belief that in 
dustrial civilization inevitably degrades the higher interests of 
men,, offering us at best greater liberty to procure material com 
fort and ease at the expense of the values which mark off the life 
of man from that of beasts. The trouble with this objection is 
that it proves or assumes too much. The possession of physical 
means for a higher degree of material security would not appear 
to be inherently hostile to creative effort and appreciative enjoy 
ment in the higher arts and values of life. One would rather 
suppose that increase of security, even if not extending to possession 
of a large surplus of wealth, would release imagination and emo 
tion to engage more generously in the pursuit of ideal interests. 

I do not claim for a moment that this presumption is as a matter 
0f fact realized in our present civilization. Only a blind man 
would deny that characteristic traits of present life are a mad 
scramble for material commodities, a devotion to attainment of 
external power, and an insensate love of foolish luxuries and idle 
display. But full acknowledgment of this fact settles nothing; 
it only sets a problem for inquiry. "Why is this so? One pos 
sibility is that human nature is running true to form; that our 
industrial development supplies the means by which the ever 
dominant factors of human nature get a chance to express them 
selves: that men are so made that taken en masse they always de 
vote themselves to material power and enjoyment rather than to 
religion, art, and disinterested science if they have the chance* 
But the adoption of this explanation indicates that the hold of 
higher values upon man was always accidental and compensatory, 
Such an explanation commits us to the idea that human nature is 
inherently so base that only the holy discipline of privation, sacri 
fice, and suffering can elevate man above himself. Even if this 
be so, it makes human nature, not industrial civilization, the cause 
of the evils complained of. The degradations of industrialism 


can only signify on this score that at last the natural man possesses 
the means for displaying himself; the evils of industrial civilisa 
tion are an effect of the constitution of human nature. 

Adoption of this alternative lands us in a desperate case, Tl^pse 
who remain loyal to the spiritual interest may repine, scold, or 
withdraw into seclusion. But by their own statement there is 
nothing which can be done about the perverse state of civiliza 
tion. There is, however, another possibility. The present over- 
zeal for material goods and prosperity may be the fruit of long 
ages in which man has been starved and oppressed. It may be 
chiefly the product of the belauded former ages in which,- it is 
asserted, higher values were held in esteem. In this case, the 
so-called lower desires of man, his demand for comfort, for en 
joyment of material things, his foolish love of power over things 
and other persons for the mere sake of power, were held in re 
straint not by devotion to spiritual interests, but by force of sur 
rounding external conditions. The pressure removed, these wants 
are released into action with an intensity proportionate to tl*e 
pressure which had previously kept them in. In that case, the 
present situation is one of transitional unbalance, and it is not en 
tirely Utopian to look forward to recovery of a sane equilibrium 
after the so long inhibited appetites have glutted themselves, The 
prodigal may return to his father s house bringing with him a 
wisdom gathered in his own experience, not with mere reiteration 
of precepts forced upon him from without. 

Explanation of some of the outstanding evils of industrialism 
by reference to an exaggerated rebound from a prior abnormal 
state raises doubts as to the quality of the values which form our 
inherited standards. These were directly shared only by a few; 
most persons had to take them on faith, vicariously and as post 
poned to a future world. And they could have had little depth of 
root, or the march of industrialism could not so easily have sub 
verted men s allegiance to them. 

The fact is that the standards by which we still conventionally 
judge not only values but also standards are so traditional, ajad 
the elements of that tradition are so far removed from the actual 
ities of modern life, that we are almost wholly at a loss when we 


attempt to pass critical judgments upon what is now going on. 
Shall we employ standards that matured in an earlier day? If so, 
the conclusion is foregone. Since it is by the impact of industrial 
civilization that these standards have lost their vitality, when we 
measure industrial civilization by them of course it stands con 
demned. The condemnation, moreover, is not limited to evils 
that condemn themselves to any intelligent mind; it extends to 
industrial and scientific methods wholesale, since they are the 
causal factors. Shall we then employ standards congenial to, 
arising from, the new technological and scientific trend? But the 
difficulty is that they are as yet unavowed and unrevealed. We 
simply do not know what they are. Some of the ignorance is un- 
d6ubtedly due to the newness and immaturity of industrial civiliza 
tion itself. But this ignorance is intensified and complicated by 
the fact that philosophic thought has chiefly devoted itself to 
cultivating the older tradition instead of exploring the meaning 
of actual conditions and the possibilities that may inhere in them. 
In consequence, a nominal and formal intellectual allegiance to 
standards which have little relevancy to existing civilization is 
conjoined with practical surrender to forces we make so little 
effort to understand. The decline of the operative force of old 
standards and ideals is attended and confirmed by the withdrawal 
of philosophy from concern with actualities. 

Thus we are brought back to the question of the relation of 
philosophy to existing civilization in its dominantly industrial 
character. Unless philosophies are to be Edens of compensatory 
refuge, reached through an exercise of dialectic ingenuity, they 
must face the situation which is there. It is their business to bring 
intellectual order out of the confusion of beliefs. For the con 
fusion of which we have been speaking, due to lack of adjustment 
between ideas and ideals inherited from an older culture and the 
dominating interests and movements of present civilization, while 
not itself philosophical in origin, is both a datum and an opportu 
nity for philosophy. "Acceptance" is an ambiguous word in re 
lation to the office of philosophy. It may signify either accept 
ance of whatever is a fact as a fact, or acceptance of it as a value 
or even as a measure of value. Any philosophy which does not 


accept important facts is in that degree a philosophy of escape. 
This appellation holds, in my opinion, even with respect to those 
theories which would confine the legitimate business of philosophy 
to analysis of scientific premises or to synthesis of scientific con 
clusions, in isolation from the place and function of science in 
life. It is as an operative fact that philosophy has to accept the 
controlling role of technological industry in contemporary civ 
ilization. This acceptance is far from implying commitment to 
its characteristics as values, but it is precedent to any valid criti 
cism of their value. Otherwise criticism is a complaint, an emo 
tional cry, not an intellectual discrimination. 

The discussion may be summarized in saying that industrial 
civilization presents philosophers with a double challenge. One 
of its tasks is to discover the full meaning of the experimental 
methods by which the advances of natural sciences have been 
made secure. In order to make this discovery, there is needed 
revision and even surrender of fixed prepossessions regarding the 
nature of mind, thought, and truth that are transmitted to us 
from a pre-experimental age. Ideas of these and allied subjects 
must be developed after the model and the pattern of what 
competent inquirers actually do in the attainment of knowledge of 
facts and principles. The accomplishment of this task is difficult. 
But it is of more than technical and professional significance. It 
signifies what is in effect a new logic in investigation and criti 
cism of social institutions and customs. For this area, the one in 
which men concretely live, is hardly touched as yet by the ex 
perimental habit of mind. Philosophers of the seventeenth cen 
tury did a great work in liberating physical knowledge from bond 
age, and in projecting the roads upon which it could move securely 
forward. There is now a similar opportunity and similar demand 
for the emancipation of knowledge of social affairs legal, eco 
nomic, political, religious. Until the implications of the experi 
mental method are worked out in this field 2 the scientific revolution 
begun three centuries ago is incomplete and subject to warping 
and perversion as it is now actually twisted and deflected when 
it reaches the popular consciousness and takes effect in action* 

A second task may be suggested by saying that the relatioa 


between instrumentalities and consequences, means and ends, must 
be reconsidered on the basis of the new tools and sources of power 
which come within human control because of applications of 
science. Upon the whole the record of the history of philosophy 
displays a division into things called ends-in-themselves and 
other things that are mere means, intrinsically indifferent to 
enek-in-themselves, the ulterior sources of value: into noumenal 
and phenomenal, physical and ideal, material and spiritual. AH 
sddtt separations root in the separation of ends and means from 
one another. The ideas of objects to which final worth is as 
signed are formed with little respect to existent conditions, to 
the realistic factor. Since the latter supplies the only means for 
tfie execution of ideas and the realization of desires and purposes, 
tiie outcome is that higher and more far-reaching ends become 
merely "idealistic" that is, romantic, sentimental, compensatory* 
It is as if an engineer despised material and energies on the ground 
tliat they are merely material in nature. The issue affects equally 
die conception and the treatment of the "realistic" factor, things 
as they exist at a given time. Since they are viewed and used in 
isolation, they too become rigid and fixed. Regard for actual 
conditions is thought to imply mere accommodation and con 
formity. Since, however, desire and purpose, the setting up of 
aims or ends-in-view remains a constant function of human na 
ture, this attitude signifies, in the outcome, that actual conditions are 
employed as means, but as means for ends that are near at hand, 
suggested by immediate circumstances, attainable by manipula 
tion, and enjoyable on the existing level. Thus operative and con 
trolling "ends" have little to do with professed and sentimentally 
worshipped ideals. They are then relatively trivial, and super 
ficial; they consist in utilization of conditions as means to direct 
enjoyment and direct exercise of power over others. Here is the 
ultimate source of the confusion, insincerity, meaningless change, 
and unrest characteristic of so much of industrial civilization. 

A philosophy of the relations of means and ends, of the mate 
rially existent and the ideally possible, based on the control of 
agencies and instrumentalities which the new technology has 


brought with itself, cannot terminate with, as it were, a mere 
post mortem dissection. It supplies impetus; its drive is to the 
future. It takes effect in restatement of the ideal or spiritual ele 
ments that have been contained in the religions, arts, literature, 
moralities, and polities of our traditional inheritance. They are 
revised so that they bear an operative relation to the state of 
affairs through which they are realizable. By the same move 
ment of thought, existent conditions cease to be taken as fixed, 
changeable only by some external and accidental intrusion; they 
cease to be models and measures of conduct. It is worth while 
to recur to the analogy with the scientific situation of the seven 
teenth century. It produced an array of thinkers who clarified 
and organized the inchoate efforts of a small number of workers 
in the fields of astronomy, physics, and chemistry. These thinkers 
evolved an articulate system of ideas which provided subsequent 
workers with confidence and courage and gave direction and point 
to their activities. 

In the succeeding century, in the period .of the "enlightenment,** 
philosophers turned their attention to man, to human nature and 
human interests. They saw in the methods and results of the 
new science the promise of complete control of human institutions 
and efforts by "reason." They predicted an era of liberation 
from all the oppressions of the past, since these had been conceived 
in ignorance and perpetuated in superstition. An era of indef 
inite progress and unlimited perfectibility was ushered in. The 
course of events gave the lie to their ardent aspiration. "Reason" 
did not assume a role of control and direction; it, and the new 
appliances of science, were seized as tools for the promotion 
of personal and class power over others and as means of new and 
frenetic display and enjoyment. It did not turn out bliss to be 
alive, but rather unregulated competition, conflict, and confusion. 
In consequence the philosophies of the nineteenth century, as 
far as we can view them with detachment in the present perspec 
tive, were infected with a reactionary spirit. Men looked back 
ward rather than forward. The discovery of history considered 
as a record of the past was its great intellectual contribution* 


"Evolution** Is an Idea which generalizes the discovery of history, 
and the idea of evolution was elaborated into an idea of cosmic 
forces which follow their own predestined course, and with respect 
to which the intervening inventive and directive intelligence of 
man is of slight account. The most systematic philosophic move 
ment of the century, German idealism, fused this idea with ele 
ments drawn from the classic religious and philosophic tradition 
of Europe so as to effect an intellectual rehabilitation of the 
latter. Many phases of this movement display nobility; all pos 
sess pathos. But the movement was essentially apologetic; it jus 
tified the existing state of institutions as a manifestation of some 
inner absolute Idea or Spirit engaged in the slow process of evolu 
tionary expression. In effect, the philosophies contributed their 
support to acquiescence and impotence rather than to direction 
and re-creation, because they gave an inherent ideal value to what 
exists-r-inherent in the sense of independent of what deliberate 
action might make out of the existent. 

A philosopher who would relate his thinking to present civiliza 
tion, in its predominantly technological and industrial character, 
cannot ignore any of these movements any more than he can dis 
pense with consideration of the underlying classic tradition formed 
in Greece and the Middle Ages. If he ignores traditions, his 
thoughts become thin and empty. But they are something to be 
employed, not just treated with respect or dressed out in a new vo 
cabulary. Moreover, industrial civilization itself has now suffi 
ciently developed to form its own tradition. If the United States 
Is more advanced on the road of industrialized civilization than 
are Old World countries, the meaning of this tradition should be 
more legible here than elsewhere. It cannot be read, however, un 
less it is observed and studied, and it cannot be effectively observed 
without a measure of intellectual sympathy. Such observation 
and reflection as discern its meaning that is Its possibilities is 
philosophy, no matter by what name the discernment is called. If 
philosophy declines to observe and interpret the new and charac 
teristic scene, It may achieve scholarship; it may erect a well 
equipped gymnasium wherein to engage in dialectical exercises; 


it may clothe itself in fine literary art. But it will not afford il 
lumination or direction to our confused civilization. These can 
proceed only from the spirit that is interested in realities and that 
faces them frankly and sympathetically. 


IN A jungle clearing, a low brushwood fire is burning. About 
the fire a score of naked human beings are stretched upon 
the ground. Over the top of the black belt of encircling 
trees comes the full moon. Suddenly a man begins to sing, a 
deep, full-throated chant. The loungers leap to their feet and 
join the song. Singing, they begin to dance. It is a weird wild 
dance, involving every muscle of the body. They strike their 
thighs with their hands in lieu of the musical instruments which 
they have never invented. The rhythm moves ever faster to a 
leaping climax. Each man is rapt, intense, dancing his own dance, 
yet there is a rough unity and form in the whole group. The cli 
max reached, the dancers fall exhausted to the ground, panting, 
glistening with sweat, spent and satisfied. 

This, according to the reporting anthropologist, is a favorite 
form of play among the Rock Veddahs of Ceylon one of the 
most primitive of surviving nature peoples. The dance is con 
nected with exorcism against wild beasts, but it is also a profound 
expression of personal impulse and desire. Muscles, voice, rhythm, 
senses are all involved. It is the vital principle of raw life at the 
full. If we would understand play, we must begin in some such 
jungle clearing. It is our base line. 

From Ceylon we move to the most civilized city which ever 
the hands of man have built. Plato tells us of the philosophy of 
play in that city. "The mere athlete becomes too much of a 
savage, and the mere musician is melted and softened beyond what 
is good for him. ... The two should therefore be blended in 


PLAY 333 

right proportions." The Athenian ideal of citizen was artist, 
athlete, soldier, statesman, and philosopher, all in one. A reason 
ably full order, but the Acropolis still stands to remind us of 
how well it was achieved. Nor must we forget that time in 
Hellas was measured in units of play; the four-year intervals be 
tween the Olympic games. 

Athenian children were encouraged to play. Kindergartens 
were provided with a fairly complete equipment of toys, stilts, 
skipping ropes, kites, swings, marbles, see-saws, together with ball 
games and running games. Girls and boys shared these sports in 
their early years, but at seven or eight the girl was forgotten, while 
the boy went on to school where he read Homer, learned writing, 
arithmetic, singing, rhythm, and the use of the lyre and the 
flute. His free play was still encouraged, and to it were added 
dancing, wrestling, boxing,- swimming, and discus and javelin 
throwing. At eighteen he entered the gymnasium and was intro 
duced to the five-fold exercise, the pentathlon* And in the inter 
vals of sport and study, he talked with philosophers and statesmen 
who foregathered there among the porticos. 

The human body was reverenced for the beautiful thing it is 
if given half a chance. The winner of the Olympic ga&ies was, 
for the time, the greatest man in Greece; his only prize an olive 
wreath. But Pindar inscribed an ode to him, and Myron fashioned 
his body in eternal marble. Such was the Golden Age. In the 
short century of its brilliance, a picked group of men fought and 
thought and played and lived as perhaps men will never do again 
upon this planet. 

Tonight in the United States of America in the year 1928, thirty 
million people are in their homes listening to sounds coming out 
of a small polished box. Wrapt and motionless they sit. Anon 
someone turns a knob and the rhythm of the sound changes, but 
its eternal monotonousness never changes, save when it suddenly 
up-rushes into a voice like that of a very large and very startled 
crow. Then somebody turns another knob and the timeless chant 
goes on. 

Once a singer sang a song. Conceivably he enjoyed it, and so 

334 PLAY 

his singing was play. That song was heard by an audience, who 
watched the singer; watched his lips, watched his movements, 
caught something of his spirit, and also conceivably enjoyed it 
but at one remove; the audience did not itself sing. The song 
meanwhile, with the utmost scientific ingenuity, was inscribed 
upon a plate of composition material, and by running a sharp* in 
strument over that material it could be reproduced, and still en 
joyed at two removes from reality. The plate and the sharp 
instrument are finally set down in front of a radio broadcaster. 
Not thirty million people, but a solid fraction of them, are, as 
they turn the knobs, listening to a song which one machine has 
caught from another machine, which was caught, lidless and blind, 
by the first machine from a more or less bored singer vocalizing 
into its dead and impersonal face. And those of us who hear 
this song, while we are indeed "playing" the radio, are not playing 
as the Rock Veddahs, and the Athenians, define the term. We 
are not playing ourselves; we are being played to and at three 
removes from the original source. 

Among Western peoples particularly those which had adopted 
the Puritan way of life play was not in high repute at the be 
ginning of the machine age. In America with a stubborn con 
tinent to conquer, this was especially true. Unremitting labor 
was the price of survival. A Methodist school in 1872 voiced the 
prevailing conception in these words: 

We prohibit play in the strongest terms ... the students snail 
rise at j o clock summer and winter. Their recreation shall be garden 
ing, walking, riding and bathing without doors, and the carpenter s, 
jointer s, cabinet maker s or turner s business within doors. . . . The 
students shall be indulged with nothing which the world calls play. 
Let this rule be observed with the strictest necessity; for those who 
play when they are young, will play when they are old. 

Meanwhile in Europe, a learned man proposed that "a young girl 
should never play; she should weep much and meditate upon 
her sins." 

Against such imperatives Rousseau flamed. Presently Froebel 
came to his support with kindergartens for making play respect- 


able again. In these dark days it is impossible to believe that 
play for either child or adult was abandoned. But it was formally 
ostracized, and, like prohibition-breaking today, more or less car* 
ried on behind closed doors. All of course within limited areas. 
Most of the world in 1800 was playing openly and passionately,; 
as it had always done in jungle clearings and out of them. 

The Puritan ostracism died hard, indeed it is not yet altogether 
dead, but from Rousseau to John Dewey, one champion after 
another has come forward to insist upon the beauty, the necessity, 
nay, even the utility of play, until now the battle is to all intents 
and purposes won. In the great Cathedral of St. John the Di 
vine in New York, there is a special altar for Sport. It is uni 
versally admitted that adults as well as children have a right to 
play, and that on the whole it is good for them to play. Along 
Broadway, a favorite comedy theme is the dancing grandmother, 
a phenomenon heretofore unheard of. 

What is play; is it an instinct to begin with? The latter is 
still a matter for acrimonious debate between the behaviorists and 
the more orthodox psychologists, and thus scientifically unanswer 
able. But there seems to be a pretty general consensus of opin 
ion among those who have been concerned with the behavior of 
mankind, that play is a vital principle in the growth of children, 
and ranks as a major necessity, not far below hunger and mat 
ing, in the life of the adult. Furthermore with the coming of 
the machine, and particularly in the United States of America, 
the age-long biological balance is threatened by monotonies and 
muscular repressions in work which give play an unprecedented 
significance. Increasingly it becomes the flywheel of modern life. 
"There is nothing in our inheritance which savors of factory, 
treadmill, or office stool. We must acquire these priceless habits, 
and often at the loss of our entire original inheritance which in 
cluded freedom to fight or run, or everlastingly to fool around. 
Life hates monotony but loves rhythm in heart beat, in intestinal 
contraction, in poetry, music, play/ "Which, from Mr. Dorsey, 
brings us not so far from the clearing in the jungle. 

The most rewarding forms of play, furthermore, are those in 
which the player participates directly with his own muscles, his 

336 PLAY 

own voice, his own rhythm. To exercise the faculty vicariously 
through the play of others, while frequently amusing enough, 
is far less helpful biologically. In brief, first hand is better than 
second hand. 

If this distinction is a valid one, it follows that the value of 
play in a given culture may be roughly appraised by the volume 
of its participating as against its non-participating forms. A 
group given to doing is on the whole having more fun, and serving 
Its nervous system better, than a group given to watching. 

We have in the Western World a costly and stupendous organ 
ization of recreation and amusement. How much are we as citi 
zens of that world getting out of it? Is it really providing us 
with fun, with release, with something of the satisfaction which 
the Rock Veddahs and the Greeks have known? No conclusive 
answer to this basic question will be found in this paper. An 
adequate appraisal would require months, nay years, of patient 
research. I can only sketch the barest introduction to the prob 

An initial step is obviously to secure some idea of the extent 
and of the specific forms of play now practised among Western 
peoples. The following table is an attempt to do this for the 
United States the nation which is undoubtedly the outstanding 
exhibit of the machine age, and the type toward which other 
Western peoples, for good or for ill, are at present drifting. No 
body, so far as I can learn, has tried to construct a similar table, 
and accordingly it can only be regarded with the charity which 
a pioneering effort deserves. 


Forms impossible without machinery 

Pleasure motoring (% of total cost) $5,000,000,000 

Vacations and travel (Transportation element prima 
rily) 2,000,000,000 

Moving pictures 1,500,000,000 

Newspapers, tabloids, light fiction (in part) . . . 1,000,000,000 

PLAY 337 

Phonographs, pianolas, etc, 250,000,000 

Telephone pleasure factor only 100,000,000 

Flying, bicycling, etc. pleasure factor 2 5; ,000,000 

Total $ 10,63 5,000,000 

forms conceivable without machinery 

Entertaining, visiting, night clubs, road houses (food 

and service factor) 3,000,000,000 

Candy, chewing gum, hard and soft drinks (in part 

only) 2,000,000,000 

Tobacco (in part) . 1,500,000,000 

Collections, hobbies, pets 1,000,000,000 

Shows, theatres, concerts, religious revivals, lectures, 

etc . 500,000,000 

Gifts (in part) 500,000,000 

Golf 500,000,000 

Social clubs (upkeep factor only) ...... 250,000,000 

Children s toys 250,000,000 

Indoor games cards, billiards, pool, chess, etc. . . . 100,000,000 

Playgrounds, camping, hiking 100,000,000 

Dancing, jazz palaces, etc 100,000,000 

Amusement parks 100,000,000 

Processions, celebrations, pageants 50,000,000 

Swimming and bathing beaches ........ 50,000,000 

Musical instruments (non-automatic) ...... 50,000,000 

Hunting and fishing 50,000,000 

Gambling, including stock exchanges (commission 

element only) 50,000,000 

Horse-racing 50,000,000 

Football 50,000,000 

Baseball 50,000,000 

Sport clothes 50,000,000 

Prize fighting 15,000,000 

Tennis and allied games 15,000,000 

Yachting and boating 10,000,000 

Field sports 10,000,000 

Winter sports 10,000,000 

Indoor sports gymnasiums, basketball, bowling, etc. 10,000,000 

Grand total, all forms $21,045,000,000 


You wonder, perhaps, why I include the telephone. I include 
it and only a portion of the total annual cost for the simple 
reason that the Federation of Women s Clubs, in making a survey 
of recreation comprising eight million American families, so in 
cludes it. Among rural matrons, particularly on party lines, it 
is alleged to be a major indoor sport. There is, furthermore, a 
recognized telephone habit, allied to the ancient diversion of 

Naked and undocumented as they stand, these figures cannot 
fail to tell us certain things which are both true and important. 
To begin with, the grand total of over twenty billion dollars 
and I am convinced that this is a conservative estimate indicates 
that not far from one quarter of the entire national income of 
America is expended for play and recreation, broadly interpreted. 
In the next place, perhaps half that sum is expended in forms of 
play new since the coming of the industrial revolution, and requir 
ing more or less complicated machinery for their enjoyment. The 
outstanding exhibits are the motor car, travel, the movies and the 
radio. Finally, the table gives a fairly comprehensive list of the 
things which I have in mind when I use the word play, and so 
serves to define it. Incidentally, it has been calculated that the 
total mechanical horsepower of our automobiles is greater than 
all other forms of mechanical energy combined, in America. The 
most powerful thing we possess is thus a plaything. And, as we 
play with it, we kill 25,000 persons, and wound 600,000 more, 
every year which must make the emperors of Rome stir enviously 
in their graves. 

A similar table prepared for Western Europe would tell a 
somewhat different story. Not only would the relative amount 
devoted to recreation be less, but motoring, radio, moving pictures, 
and formal athletics would shrink in favor of entertaining, festi 
vals, special foods and drinks, music, group games and dancing. 
But if we could watch these figures, year by current year, it is 
safe to assume that the traditional ways of playing the fiestas 
and the community songs and dances were slowly giving way to 
the forms which so triumphantly head the budget in America. 
There is a good deal of excited talk on the Continent about pre- 

PLAY 339 

serving native forms of culture, but this talk is not reflected in 
the statistics of either motor cars or Hollywood films imported 
from the United States. At the present time, nine out of every 
ten films exhibited in foreign theatres are American made* 

Another way to show the significance of play in figure form, is 
to count noses rather than dollars. Again the following figures 
are for the United States only, and again they are mostly pioneer 
ing estimates. The table is a rough attempt to find out what 
proportion of the population goes in for non-participating, second 
hand amusement. 

Newspapers and tabloids 35,000,000 readers a day. 
Radio 30,000,000 listeners a night 

Phonographs, player pianos 15,000,000 listeners a night. 
Moving Pictures 50,000,000 admissions a week. 

Theatres, concerts, shows, lectures, religious revivals 5,000,000 admis 
sions a week. 

The popular magazines 15,000,000 readers a month. 
Baseball 40,000,000 admissions a year. 
Horse-racing 10,000,000 admissions a yean 
Football 10,000,000 admissions a year. 
Prize fighting 10,000,000 admissions a year. 
Golf, tennis, regattas, field sports 5,000,000 admissions a year. 

Save for phonographs and radios the air not having passed 
into the category of private property as yet all the above are 
paid admissions. The free watching of amateur sports of 
pageants and processions, of long-distance swimming events, 
cornerstone laying, church and civic festivals, and championship 
contests devoted to pie eating, coffee drinking, long-distance expec 
torating, the selection of bathing beauties, and the rest would 
make huge, but utterly incalculable increases in the total attend 
ance figures. 

Of these side-show championships, which are becoming increas 
ingly prevalent, we might note a typical case. On September 13, 
1926, Professor B. G. Burt of Jamestown, New York, broke the 
piano-playing endurance record. He ran the non-stop period 
from 52 hours and 15 minutes up to 60 hours. He did not cease 
an instant for food, drink, or sleep. He played over 5,000 selec- 

340 PLAY 

tions from memory; his fingers hit the keys on an average of 72,- 
ooo times an hour, a total of 4,320,000 blows for the whole period 
of the contest. He consumed 200 cigarettes and 50 cigars. 
Meanwhile the contest was staged appropriately enough, in the 
show window of a garage where the casual passerby might have an 
opportunity to observe the devoted musician at his championship 

Furthermore, many of our second-hand, and particularly third- 
hand, thrills result not from the activity of the players the line 
and drive of their bodies in action but from an entirely differ 
ent motive; the money one is going to win or lose by betting on 
the contest. Gambling is an ancient and universal form of play, 
but its frequency and volume tends to be a barometer which 
measures the success or failure of a given culture in providing 
more direct and rewarding forms. Gambling is a revolt against 
boredom. The greater the normal facilities for being bored, the 
greater the volume of gambling. Second-hand play is thin por 
ridge, and we salt it with gambling. 

A bookmaker at the races, who used to collect pennies for 
a company operating slot machines, recently confessed his pres 
ent profession as follows: "It s a good deal like collecting money 
from slot machines except that, instead of getting it out of the 
machines, I get it out of the boobs. It s a lot better too because 
there are more boobs than slot machines, they are closer together, 
they have more money in them, and they open easier." 

It has been estimated that over a billion dollars changes hands 
every year in poker playing. It is rapidly becoming a part of 
golfing ritual like silence when a shot is made that a player 
must back his prowess with a money wager. A foursome was 
recently played for $10,000 a side, plus $1,000 a hole, plus a $5,- 
ooo Nassau, and before the match was finished $500 a stroke 
was added. At the championship match at the Chicago Golf 
Club, Mr. Hugh Fullerton estimates the total betting reached 
$j 00,000. A match was recently played on Long Island for 
$20,000 a side. "Try to get into a foursome and refuse to bet," 
asks Mr. Fullerton, "and see how often you will be asked to play 
again. * 



There is a third and last exhibit to be spread upon the record. 
How do children play in the machine age? From many points of 
view this is the most important question of all. Fortunately there 
is a very careful statistical study available in this connection 
though somewhat limited in area. Messrs. Lehman and Witty 
have tabulated the frequency of play forms among some 7,000 
school children and young people, both urban and rural, in Kansas. 
They drew up a list of 200 common methods of play, and had 
each child grade frequencies on the list, and also note other 
forms not given on the list. (Altogether, over 800 forms of play 
were noted and tabulated.) The outstanding results of this in 
quiry, conducted at intervals in 1923, 1924, and 1926, may be 
summarized as follows: 


Boys and Young Men 
[Numbered in order of frequency] 
8 Years Old 12 Years Old 15 Years Old 18 Years Old 

1. Funny pa- Funny papers Funny papers 


2. Reading Reading Reading 

3. Playing catch Playing catch Playing catch 

4. Drawing Automobiling Automobiling 

5. Romping Movies Movies 

6. Gathering Playing baseball Baseball 


7. Cutting with Playing football Watching 

scissors sports 

8. Listening to Bicycling Football 


9. Carpentry Wrestling Radio 


10. Playing foot- Carpentry Basketball 


11. Automobil- Watching sports Wrestling 


12. Phonograph Radio Bicycling 

Reading news 

Funny papers 

Watcliing sports 
Playing catch 

Reading books 
Driving motor 



Girls and Young Women 

8 Years Old 

1. Funny papers 

2. Reading 

3. Skipping rope 

4. Drawing 

5. Scissors work 

6. "Just singing" 

15 Years Old 
Funny papers 
Playing piano 
Writing letters 

7. Looking at pictures Phonograph 

8. Dolls 

9. Playing house 

10. Listening to stories 
n. Gathering flowers 
12. Playing piano 


Gathering flowers 

Teasing somebody 
Looking at pic 

22 Years Old 
Reading newspapers 
Writing letters 
Going to shows 
Reading books and maga 
Social clubs 
Playing piano 

The astonishing hold of the "funnies" needs no comment. One 
suspects that Kansas primarily an agricultural state Is not 
unique in this regard. I can see no great evil in the funny papers; 
I can only see many other things which are conceivably more fun 
if the modern child had free access to them. 

Indeed the children were asked in this same study to name 
what they would like best to play. For boys from S to 15, pop 
ularity ran to participating games football, baseball, basketball, 
boxing, horseback riding. The funny papers came eleventh on 
the list. It would appear, accordingly, that Kansas children, at 
least, have not the space and equipment to play what they like 
the best. The newspapers, on the other hand, are always there. 
They constitute father s chief recreation, as well. Furthermore, 
in this popularity grading, second-hand play forms motors, mov 
ies, radio, watching sports, all tended to come after specific partici 
pating games. The boy seems to know his needs better than his 
world knows them. 

Whatever else the patient researches of Messrs. Lehman and 
Witty show, they prove, beyond all peradventure, the hold of 
mechanized forms on the play of children, even as we have traced 

PLAY 343 

it in the recreation of adults. The eight-year-olds were the freest 
both of machinery and commercial exploitation, but these forces 
tramped down upon them relentlessly as they aged. 

The rebirth of play, since Rousseau, has grown year by year with 
the industrial revolution. It has matured with steam turbines, 
turret lathes, and giant power. Inevitably like every other factor 
of human life in the Western "World, it has been profoundly in 
fluenced by these instruments. The mark of the machine is all 
over the tables that we have been examining. One can recognize 
a number of major ways in which the machine has affected play 
and which we will consider in order. 

First, it has given us more playthings; more physical and 
mechanical apparatus with which to amuse ourselves. Human 
beings are normally as curious as monkeys, and the opportunities 
to handle, explore, pull to pieces, boggle at, have been indefinitely 
expanded. Unfortunately, however, many of these shining toys, 
such as motors and radio sets, are being made increasingly self- 
regulating and foolproof. Not even the joy of tinkering with 
them is left to us. We can no longer actively handle them, but 
only quietly submit to their perfect handling of us. The output 
of all sorts of play implements has been enormously increased 
as a result of factory methods skates, skis, balls, racquets, bats, 
stadia, golf sticks, what not. The limiting factors of darkness, the 
weather, the seasons, have been set at naught by electric lights, 
heated swimming pools, artificial ice rinks, indoor tennis courts, 
innumerable mechanical devices for making play easier and more 
enduring. There is even a machine which will register the num 
ber of yards you would have driven a golf ball if the ball you 
hit had been a free agent, rather than tied by a string to the ap 

The machine age has given us more leisure in which to play. 
The end of the struggle of the pioneer, the steady decrease in 
hours of labor, have markedly increased the number of hours 
in a day for which we have to find something to do. The phrase 
"to kill time" is not without significance here. One cannot kill 
time with genuine play; one can only improve it. But with non- 

344 PLAY 

satisfying pseudo-play, time may be, and conceivably is, mutilated 
and murdered, 

Thirdly, it lias given us more income per family with which 
to buy the increase in the output of playthings. For the two- 
thirds of all American families below the income level of the 
budget of health and decency, this has not meant so much, but for 
the well-to-do and the wealthy it has meant a great deal. Palm 
Beach, Pinehurst, Long Island, the North Shore, Atlantic City 
have set standards for conspicuous consumption in play which 
take nearly all of the time, and a large fraction of the income, of 
the conscientious devotee. Indeed so far have matters gone, that 
the solemn trek in full regalia from one shrine of sport to the 
next has frequently been designated as a hard life. One can 
well believe it. With new millionaires being shot out of Pitts 
burgh, Oklahoma, Hollywood, Wall Street, at the rate of a dozen 
a week, the struggle not only to lead the band wagon but to keep 
one s place upon its slippery sides, is an exhausting affair. In a 
deeper sense this is not play at all, but exhibitionism. We note 
the same phenomenon on the Riviera. 

The machine age has given us more congested cities where op 
portunities for free play are normally at a minimum. This bears 
hard on adults, but doubly hard on children. I have stood frozen 
with horror on East ^zd Street, New York, watching a group of 
youngsters play ball under the wheels of trucks and taxicabs. 
They faced a terrible death a dozen times an hour. Every year 
some of them are killed; which furnishes eloquent and tragic 
tribute to the eternal biological demand for play. It has been 
said that the closing three decades of the last century, were the 
most malignant in their effect upon city children of any previous 
period which history has to record. Industry had created the 
choked city, the Puritan attitude towards play was still formi 
dable, playgrounds were non-existent and parks at a minimum 
indeed it hardly bears thinking upon, the life of millions of chil 
dren in the dreadful eighties. With the present century, the 
change for the better has been marked. The Puritan has relaxed 
his grip on the Sabbath; and nearly every city in the land has 

PLAY 34? 

its municipal playground and park areas, which have begun to 
bring play back into the life of children in the modem town* 
But my courageous friends on 426, Street attest that only a begin 
ning has been made. 

It is claimed that as ground rents rise and cities become increas 
ingly congested, opportunities for real recreation decline, even as 
opportunities for second-hand play, duly capitalized, increase* 
What does the average adult city dweller do with his or her leisure? 
Here is a typical enough instance: 

Goldie Cinnamon sold stockings in Bernheimer s department store. 
She had only Sundays and holidays to do the things she wanted and 
needed to do. She had planned this Sunday to wash her two pairs of 
crepe-de-Chine teddies and her four pairs of silk hose. She wanted to make 
a pan of fudge, wash her hair, and sit on the fire escape while it dried, 
reading True Confessions, and smoking cigarettes. She hoped to go with 
her girl friend later in the day to the Criterion to see John Gilbert in 
"Passionate Perils." 

For those who use the term * Veek-end," say one per cent of the 
urban population, there is plenty of real play to be had in the 
event that they can keep sober (the week-ends of the prohibition 
era are becoming something of an endurance contest). But for 
the other ninety and nine, there are, in order: (i) The gross ton 
nage of the Sunday newspapers, particularly the funnies, the roto 
gravure section, and the succulent details of the last love nest 
murder; (2) an automobile ride in solemn procession, with a car 
five feet in front of the forward bumpers, and another five 
feet behind, and anywhere from a one-half to a three-hour wait 
at the ferries and other choked bottle-necks of the city s main 
arteries on a Sunday; (3) the moving pictures, happily held to 
the intelligence limit of the normal twelve-year-old child; (4) a 
rapid transit trip to an amusement park where, if one does not 
step on a broken pop bottle on the beach, he is reasonably sure 
of a banana peel; where owners of loop-the-loops commit suicide 
on rainy holidays; and where it is a very poor day indeed when 
fifty lost children are not entertained in die local police station 

346 PLAY 

awaiting the entry of their frenzied parents; (5) a trip to one 
of the city parks where there may be a patch of green not cov 
ered by a newspaper, but hardly a safe proposition to wager any 
thing upon; and (6) , a poker party at Joe s place. Far, far down 
in the list, comes that small, hardy, and courageous group who 
brave hours of dreary transit to get out into the country and 
really play, knapsacks on their backs. 

In all fairness we should note that while the knapsack group is 
small in numbers as compared with the total urban population, 
its importance is steadily increasing. Perhaps nowhere has the 
out-of-doors movement made more headway than in Germany, 
but America is rapidly organizing camping clubs, Boy Scouts, 
Camp Fire Girls, Appalachian Trails. Winter sports meanwhile 
have achieved an unheard-of prominence in the last decade. 
Against the encroachments of the modern city, the playground 
and recreation forces make a valiant struggle but a recent sur 
vey of Newark, New Jersey, showing two out of every three chil 
dren with the streets as their chief playground, indicates how far 
the movement has yet to go. In the race between land values and 
the right to play, the financial odds are with the former. 

The machine age, as already noted, has given us more routine, 
mechanized jobs. These jobs demand a righting of an outraged 
biological balance through some form of play. In the automobile 
industry today, the character of work has been summarized by 
engineers^ as follows: 

per cent 

of the total force 
x. Machine tenders 40 

2. Assemblers 15 

3. Skilled workers .10 

4. Inspectors j 

5:. Helpers for skilled workers 15 

6. Laborers, clean-up men 15 

Groups one and two combined constitute more than half of 
the total, and these are the employees who can be taught in a day 

PLAY 347 

or two the simple relentless operations on the machines, or "on the 
belt"; operations which kill every spark of interest in their daily 
work. Furthermore, these groups are steadily gaining in numbers 
against the other four. Nor is the situation in the automobile 
industry greatly different from other industries which have adopted 
mass production. As a result some millions of industrial em 
ployees are trying to work off the "unrelieved irritations of their 
psychic lives" in the thrills, excitement and intense stimulation of 
prize fights, ball games, race courses, roller coasters, tabloid mur 
der stories, gambling, gin, and "torrid screen dramas of sexy souls." 
They take the only outlets they can find in a blind rush from 
the monotony of their appointed tasks. But the basic deficiency 
is not neutralized as the curious visitor in Detroit can only too 
clearly establish. Even jazz dancing is but play in a Ford fac 
tory. Its pounding rhythm is as simple as tightening bolts. It 
gives very little scope for individual expression. 

Nor is the revolt from the machine confined to manual work 
ers. A strange and otherwise inexplicable phenomenon is ap 
pearing among business men, particularly of the medium salaried 
group. The unimaginative routines of their office work stan 
dardized dictation, telephone calls, "conferences," recording, check 
ing, submitting themselves to a given niche in a huge corporate 
structure are forcing them in increasing numbers into the cap 
and bells of Mystic Shriners, Mooses, Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis, the 
cults of service, Ku Klux Klans anything which promises color 
and life, humor and activity. The utter banality of where they 
land is in tragic contrast with the humanity of the urge to play 
which drives them forth. Not a few of the antics of advertising 
and the higher salesmanship should be written off to the same 
revolt. The consumer suffers, heaven knows, but the salesman 
at least secures some needed psychic relief. 

Why did America enter the great war of which it intellectually 
disapproved, with such whoops and shouts of tumultuous joy? 
In part, I believe, because the war offered a substitute for that 
release in play which the piping times of peace did not provide. 

Finally, the machine age has given us mass production in amuse 
ment, run according to up-to-date business methods. We have 

348 PLAY 

been "sold" on play precisely as we have been sold on tooth 
powder, bathtubs, snappy suits .and electrical refrigerators. Mo 
tors, bicycles (presently aeroplanes) z baseball, moving pictures, 
Broadway, night clubs, college football, prize fights, Coney Islands, 
radios, victrolas, lecture bureaus, tabloids, confession magazines, 
best sellers, horse-racing, travel bureaus, plus fours, revival meet 
ings, Boy Scouts, cigarettes, antique furniture all have gone 
into quantity production, following accepted formulae of adver 
tising, salesmanship, the limit of price the traffic will bear ? and 
all have proved soundly profitable, with wide margins of credit 
from the banks, and as often as not a listing on the stock ex 

At the first Dempsey-Tunney fight for the heavyweight box 
ing championship of the world, 135,000 spectators saw the match, 
and they paid $2,000,000 for their seats not counting what the 
speculators made. Mr. Dempsey received $750,000 for 30 minutes 
work, Mr. Tunney received $450,000, while the profits of Mr. 
Tex Rickard, the promoter, were $437,000. Mr. Rickard s Madi 
son Square Garden voting trust certificates are listed on the New 
York Curb Exchange. With such profits they should be in the 
main tent, along with General Motors and the Radio Corporation 
of America. In 1850, Tom Sayers, the English boxing champion, 
was glad to fight 44 rounds for 5 a side. But perhaps he fought 
for the fun of it. 

In the eighteenth century prize fighting was a sport, beloved 
of royalty and gentry. In the nineteenth century it became a 
game, deserted by the elite and controlled by the underworld. In 
the twentieth century it has passed into the category of big 
business, financed by the banks, issuing securities, and licensed 
by the state like banking and insurance. In New York recently 
a syndicate was organized by a certain Mr. Jimmy Johnson to buy 
the contracts of champion boxers and leading contenders, and 
so happily to effect a monopoly of the whole sport. "The boxing 
industry (note the word industry) is reaching gigantic propor 
tions and the time has arrived for big business methods. We pro 
pose to handle boxers in the same fashion that moving-picture 

PLAY 349 

producers handle their star performers." Than which nothing 
could be more business-like. 

Baseball has long since entered the ranks of big business with its 
20,000,000 paid admissions to the two big leagues, its million dollar 
world series event, and its purchasing of the contracts of players 
to the extent of over $2,000,000 each year. It has been judi 
ciously calculated furthermore that Mr. Babe Ruth, the home-run 
batter, is worth a cool $1,000,000 a year in extra admission fees 
to the American League. 

Football has but recently broken into the admittedly profes 
sional ranks. A certain Mr. C. C. Pyle, popularly known as "Cold 
Cash" Pyle, induced the famous Mr. Red Grange to leave the 
lists of college football and act as cornerstone for a professional 
league. (This is the same Mr, Pyle who started tennis as big 
business with the purchase of Miss Suzanne Lenglen for $200,- 
ooo,) On the day Red Grange left the amateur ranks, he cleared 
$375,000, with the promise of making a million before the winter 
was over. At the same time the use of his name was sold to a 
sweater manufacturer for $12,000, a shoe manufacturer for $5,- 
ooo, a cap maker for $2,500, and to a cigarette company for $i,- 
ooo the latter bargain figure doubtless due to the fact that Red 
never smokes. A candy company sold six million "Red Grange 
Chocolate Bars" in thirty days, for a consideration not disclosed. 
During this period Red received 187 telephone calls, sixty tele 
grams, and thirty-nine personal visits from commercial firms eager 
to capitalize his name and fame. 

Miss Gertrude Ederle, after swimming the English Channel, re 
ceived over a million dollars worth of commercial offers, a gross 
even greater than Red s. 

College football while amateur in name is professional in spirit, 
and constitutes what is known as a major industry. A good 
team is not only the chief claim to fame of a given college; 
it is also frequently its financial backbone. Its profits (running 
up as high as $500,000 a year in some cases) maintain all other 
college sports; while its success is a harbinger for endowments 
from rich and happy alumni. Speculators reap a magnificent re- 

3 jo PLAY 

ward at every big game, selling $2 tickets to prosperous butter and 
egg merchants for $100 more or less. Meanwhile a retired col 
lege coach declares: "I will guarantee any first-class high school 
player that I can get him through any one of a half a dozen good 
colleges with board and tuition paid and no one pressing him for 
payment of his loans* afterward." In these circumstances the 
suggestion of Mr. Heywood Broun that college football turn 
frankly professional, buying and selling its players as do the base 
ball leagues, seems eminently just. 

The moving-picture industry turns out 150,000 miles of film 
a yean In 1895 it turned out 21,600 feet. It is alleged that 
68.2 per cent of the American population attend the movies fairly 
regularly. There are daily changes of programme in 14,000 
theatres. "With such an enormous investment, is it any wonder 
that the necessities of the art require a grade and volume of pub 
licity in respect to the stars of the silver screen, that never for 
an instant loses sight of the fact that sexual curiosity is perhaps 
the chief interest of the modern world? 

A concert singer has confessed how the exigencies of her 
trade today require that she be "sold" like a circus. She cannot 
sing what she wants, but only what will pay, while her publicity 
agent sees to it that she performs the requisite number of stunts 
and somersaults. In the theatre, profit has been standardized 
under three heads, to wit: (i) tears, (2) laughs, (3) thrills 
standardized, say the Beards, with the rhythmic thump of a hy 
draulic pump. Broadway s musical comedies are geared to the 
spectator s emotions, as the belt in an automobile factory is geared 
to the maximum endurance of those that seek it. Sound box- 
office stuff. 

The editor of one of our confession magazines with a circula 
tion in the millions tenders this advice to his authors: "Here s a 
man, see? And his wife, see? And another man. Write about 
that. And let the shadow of the bed be on every page, but never 
let the bed appear." The resulting confection, duly browned to 
formula, is served largely to the average woman in America, lead 
ing the common existence, only partially literate, with limited 

PLAY 351 

financial resources; a drab, dull and often sordid life. From this 
drabness the confession magazine allows her a brief and heady 
escape. In this exhibit we probably find play at its lowest level. 
But immensely profitable financially. 

The United States Santa Glaus Company has recently been or 
ganized in Chicago. It undertakes to provide any home with a 
professional Santa at Christmas time, and thus relieve father of his 
time-honored role. It is guaranteed that the children s names will 
be remembered, that appropriate seasonal remarks will be de 
livered, and that no mistakes will be made in the distribution of 
gifts. Over one hundred orders were booked for Christmas, 1927. 
Thus goes another participating festival into the hands of stand 
ardized business enterprise. 

A final corollary of the not altogether holy alliance of play 
and business is the over-competition that finds its way into so 
much of modern sport. It is dominated by a compulsion to win| 
rather than freely to enjoy. College football players are partic 
ularly under the domination of their non-participating alumni, 
and have repeatedly claimed that they hate the nervous pressure 
of the fall season. This is not play but work. One is adjured 
to make good in the paint and varnish business, and in the half 
back business. The terminology is identical; the saga of com 
petitive success dominates both. 

In its broadest outline the situation seems to be this: the indus 
trial revolution has wrenched most of us away from those manual, 
handicraft tasks which gave us muscular activity and a margin 
of true play in making and fashioning things for our own use and 
amusement. With these tasks have gone the old community play 
forms, the roof raising, the barn dance, the Maypole, the harvest 
festival, the sugaring off. Such often flourished in the teeth of 
the Puritans. Our jobs today are less active, and even when 
we use a set of muscles in a factory, it is all too frequently the 
same set day in and day out. All-round development, such as 
the pioneer and the craftsman knew, is increasingly a thing of 
the past. 

Meanwhile we have more time on our hands by virtue of shorter 

352 PLAY 

working tours. Children with the abatement of the old-time 
chores have far more time as well. Now to use this time, and 
to offset the non-active or over-specialized modern job, play is 
necessary. Furthermore, we have more income with which to 
finance this new demand. A culture which encouraged us to use 
that time and money by substituting valuable new forms of play 
for the forms which had been lost would be a wise culture. But 
the balance sheet of modern play that we have been examining 
is hardly a document of unalloyed wisdom. Not knowing where 
to turn we have turned into the clicking turnstile at fifty cents 
a click. 

A fraction of the extra time and money has been devoted to 
new participating forms of recreation, that do indeed release the 
human spirit, equate the biological balance, and return as much, 
or more, to life as ever was lost with the passing of the handi 
craft era. Particularly noteworthy in this respect is the out-of- 
doors movement, with its new parks, playgrounds, pools, beaches, 
trails and camping places. Also important is the growth in in 
ternational sports, the Olympic games, the Davis Cup tennis 
matches and others, leading to friendly rivalry among nations. 
And perhaps even more important in the long run is the new con 
ception of education through pky which many schools are begin 
ning to experiment with though the relative number of children 
actually touched by this philosophy to date is very small. 

But a far greater amount of money, and probably of time, is 
devoted to forms of play which at their best do not furnish an 
equivalent release^ and at their worst compound the harm which 
flows from over-mechanized daily work. Motoring, movies, 
second-hand thrills in sports, in tabloid crimes, and in confession 
magazines, the funnies, the radio, even the remorseless rhythm of 
jazz dancing all are burdened with elements against which the 
spirit of play beats its wings in vain. 

As a male adult in reasonable health, the play forms which 
I really love to undertake are these: following mountain trails 
on foot in summer, on snow shoes in winter; following lonely 
reaches of lake and river in a canoe; swimming, sun bathing, and 
high diving; skating, hockey, tennis and squash. I like to sing 


with a group. I like to improvise dances, to act charades, to 
take part in amateur theatricals. None of these things I do par 
ticularly well, but all outrank any enjoyment I can suck from 
motoring, moving pictures, gambling games, night clubs, or 
watching other people play. And all of them without excep 
tion have no basic dependence upon a machine culture. I give 
this personal exhibit only for what it may be worth, but I fancy 
that the few of us who follow some such recreational bent have 
more genuine fun than all the devotees at the twenty billion dol 
lar shrine combined. Meanwhile the great majority of my fellow 
citizens have had no opportunity to discover the joy, the beauty 
and the cheapness of genuine play. Trapped in a great city, 
their habit patterns are geared to more ugly and far more ex 
pensive relaxations, while the economic pressure to hold them to 
that line is well-nigh relentless. 

What the age of machinery has given us in time, it would 
fain take away again by degrading the opportunities which that 
time affords; by standardizing our recreations on a quantity 
production basis, by making us watchers rather than doers, by ex 
ploiting our leisure for profit, by surfeiting us with endless me 
chanical things to monkey with from gasoline cigar lighters to 
million dollar cruising yachts, by forcing the pace of competition 
in play until it turns into work, and above all by brutalizing 
in recreation millions of human beings who are already brutalized 
by the psychological imperatives of their daily labor. And it 
will take more barn dances than Henry Ford can ever pay for, 
to throw off the yoke of that brutality. 

But who shall be the winner in another generation, only the 
gods can tell. 


EVERYWHERE in Western civilization education is in a 
state of confusion. The present situation is inevitable and 
not necessarily alarming for the industrial age is new, and 
it should not surprise us to find that as Freud says, we are living 
"psychologically beyond our means." The Western nations did 
not wholly foresee or deliberately plan the industrial revolution. 
They drifted into it. They came into it with ideas, traditions, 
values, elaborated in an earlier civilization the economic struc 
ture of which had remained relatively the same throughout many 
centuries. The new ways of living necessitated important revalua 
tions, new forms of social control, restatement of many of the 
aims of culture. There has been tragic blundering. New and 
hitherto inarticulate elements of the population frequently peo 
ple with but few civilized interests and almost no cultural tradi 
tion, or social responsibility have risen to power. In the indus 
trial struggle many priceless values, won out of a long past, have 
been temporarily lost. Others survive in antiquated form which 
often renders them irrelevant and sentimental in their modern 
application. In the general confusion, it is the habit of those with 
unsolved problems to offer education usually the education of 
someone else the masses as the long sought solution. 


YET in actual practice education is daily under fire of severe criti 
cism. People demand of it all sorts of new things. At the same 
time they denounce it for its failure to meet the existing demands. 


They forget that, in the scramble of the sudden transition into the 
industrial age, education also is bound to fall victim to the general 
cultural chaos. 

The Western "World has not as yet achieved a seriously considered 
philosophy of education. There is little agreement concerning 
what should be taught, or how, or to what end, or as to the value 
of learning anything at alL It is generally agreed however that 
what is taught is usually taught poorly. Attention has repeatedly 
been called to two outstanding facts. First it is a matter of 
common knowledge that the boards of trustees who exercise final 
authority over the system of education both in the public schools 
and in institutions of higher learning are made up largely of per 
sons who do not know at all what education is about. It is not 
fair to say, as some critics do, that school and college trustees 
deliberately conspire to divert institutions of learning from their 
true aims to mere agencies for the conservation of the present 
industrial hierarchy, with its capitalist "ideology" and its special 
privileges. It is enough to say that for the most part they are 
sincere laymen, chosen to guide education not because of their 
own attainments in learning but because of political preferment 
"or business -success. It is natural that such persons should be more 
interested in success and in established convention than in scholar 
ship. And who can blame them if they give little original thought 
to the question: What is an educated person? 

Professional educators likewise give little thought to this ques 
tion. Most of them are content to teach as well as they can the 
subject in which they have attained some proficiency. It is not 
their task, considering their place in the system, to concern them 
selves with the larger problems of education. Those who are 
concerned with these larger questions are usually administrators 
rather than teachers, and their interest is in problems of method, 
organization, discipline, and school politics, rather than in any 
such abstract matter as the ultimate aim of education. They are, 
or try to be, practical persons. 

This leads to the mention of the second outstanding fact about 
modern education. The teaching profession does not offer to its 
members a career comparable in attractiveness with the opportu- 


nities o business or of some of the other professions. It goes with 
out saying that many high-grade men and women are in this pro 
fession out of devotion to scholarship and service to humanity* 
But such devotion calls for a degree of self-sacrifice which is not 
commonly expected of persons in other occupations. Financial 
reward is small, advancement is slow and difficult, preferment de 
pends largely upon the good will of superiors who are often ad 
ministrators rather than scholars. Popular prejudice is a hindrance 
to independence of judgment and freedom of expression. Schol 
arly attainment is seldom appreciated, the public preferring to 
honor motion-picture actresses and baseball players. 

Consequently the teaching profession with notable exceptions 
tends to be filled with deferential people, people who can be 
easily intimidated, who can trot in harness, conform to the system, 
take orders, and present controversial truths in an inoffensive 
manner. Teaching becomes a kind of trade similar in a way to 
other trades, with an average quality of workmanship and stand 
ardized quantity production as its object. People who all their 
professional lives must do just what they are told commonly lose 
the habit if ever it was part of their nervous organization of 
judging the ultimate significance of that which they are obliged to 
perform. Hence it is futile to inquire of the educational system 
why it exists. That responsibility would appear to be elsewhere. 
Education is here; that is all a routine job to be done day by 
day. Any account of its aim from this source must at best be 
largely conventional. 


MUCH of our present confusion, I think, is a result of historical 
accident, and of the state of the cultural tradition at the time die 
"Western World entered the industrial era. It is necessary to grasp 
the force of the position of education at the time the great transi 
tion took place. It must be said that it was, on the whole, unpre 
pared by its very traditions to interpret effectively the values of 
civilization in so unprecedented and unforeseen a situation. Not 
only did the industrial revolution cast up as the actors upon the 


stage of modern life two classes, employers and employees, who 
were largely innocent of the educational traditions prevalent in the 
older ruling class and for whom, in the new environment, many 
cultural standards must be revised but the cultural tradition it 
self had at that time become so inadequate for the solving of vital 
human problems that the educator could do little more than in 
sist upon a dead and irrelevant formalism. What was demanded 
of him was a return to the experimental spirit in which his tradi 
tion had its origin. 

It is one of the ironies of history that, when the emergence of 
"Western civilization duplicated in certain important aspects the 
psychological situation out of which the ancients won those cul 
tural values that have been the ideals of educators ever since then, 
those very moderns who held most closely to the classical tradition 
were incapable of taking when the times demanded it again an 
experimental attitude similar to that of their great preceptors* 
The example and spirit of the ancient Greeks, in a situation in 
some respects similar to our own, ought to have given our educa 
tors courage. Unfortunately the ideas of men who like themselves 
were once compelled to meet a new situation in unprecedented 
ways had by the end of the eighteenth century become little more 
than an irrelevant intellectual orthodoxy. Otherwise it might 
have placed culture above "go-getting." As it was, it became a 
flight from reality that had nothing to do with the case. 

With the ancients the pursuit of wisdom a wisdom beyond 
mere immediate practicality had everything to do with the case; 
it smashed tradition and placed before the human intellect the issue 
not of personal advantage but rather the function and necessity of 
wisdom in the common life of mankind. Education, as it was 
first given us by the ancients, was in no sense a genteel tradi 
tion aloof from contemporary reality. It was a quest for mean 
ing and value in a world made new. It is my conviction that un 
less we understand the problem which the ancients tried to solve 
in the fifth and fourth centuries before Christianity, we can never 
get a proper perspective of our own problems. Otherwise the 
tradition of men who once grappled not wholly unsuccessfully 
with the task of making something more than a sordid economic 


struggle out of human relationships becomes a mere gesture in 
obeisance to a misunderstood past* One alternative is the casting 
off as many do of the accumulated wisdom of the ages. Mod 
ern man then becomes merely a creature of his own day and gen 
eration. But new as our age is I do not believe we can afford 
to ignore all that men in the past have struggled for in order to 
give living some meaning and scale of importance. We need the 
things that have marked the difference between men and beasts 
and between higher men and lower men. 

I said that in one respect at least the educational task of the 
ancient Greek was like our own. He also found himself in a 
new world, responsible as master over a situation he had not fore 
seen. He realized that in the new situation his ancestral myths 
were no longer sufficient to guide his behavior. Education became 
a voyage of discovery, the search for knowledge and for an under 
standing of what constituted the good life. Old beliefs, pre 
suppositions, popular opinions were examined by a dialectical 
method, the practice of which was at once education and philos 

Although designed for members of what we now should call a 
leisure class, this ancient education was not mere idle specula 
tion or intellectual adornment. It was practical in the largest 
sense. The free man learned not merely how to employ his leisure 
time in polite conversation. He learned to take a critical attitude 
toward his prejudices. He discovered principles of reason with 
which he could free his mind from herd opinion, control his be 
havior and consider intelligently the welfare of the state. There 
was something courageous and ennobling in this early humanistic 
struggle of men to find by using their unaided intelligence, and 
without recourse to magic or miracle or divine revelation, meanings 
and values with which they might attain self-mastery. The tradi 
tion of liberal education in the Western World had its origin in the 
humanism of non-religious ancient Greece. At the beginning it 
was an adventure in "debunking." 

But the humanism and spirit of inquiry did not always survive in 
the liberal education of subsequent ages. When Christian theo 
logians in the Middle Ages rediscovered Aristotle, they naturally 


appropriated only so much of the Greek education and philosophy 
of life as could be assimilated with their religious culture based upon 
divine revelation. Dialectic was not now a voyage of discovery. 
It became a refined and subtle disputation designed to rationalize 
the mythus. The good life became the life of pious contempla 
tion. The free man, the ancient man of leisure, was supplanted 
by one who found leisure through forsaking the world for the 
cloister. The full force of the meaning of the classical tradi 
tion was not felt by the scholastic mind. 

It was the humanists of the Renaissance who for the first time 
in Christendom got some notion of what classical education was 
about. It was as if low-hung clouds had suddenly lifted and re 
vealed nearer their own humanity than men trained in mediaeval- 
ism had as yet dared to imagine the sunlit heights of spiritual 
value and cultural achievement to which men had once risen in 
supreme indifference to the entire system of beliefs and values of 
mediaeval Christianity. The discovery was startling, disconcert 
ing, revolutionary, and it immediately inspired a transvaluation of 
education. It was to the work of transforming education that 
men like Erasmus devoted their lives. Erasmus might still be 
nominally a Christian but he could write "Saint Socrates, pray for 
me/ and it is to be noted that he raised an issue in every university 
he visited. People think of the Renaissance as an epoch in Italian 
painting and sculpture. From our point of view it was an educa 
tional movement, the aim of which was the recovery of the ad 
venturous humanism which is the true spirit of the classical tradi 


THE educational aim of the Renaissance was bound to stir up a 
tremendous reaction. Men do not want an inquiring, sceptical, 
value-creating discipline which forces the mind to examine its be 
liefs, face reality, and stand on its own. They want to be told 
what to believe. They want the delusion of comfort and security. 
They ask of education not that it raise new questions but that it 
give a categorical answer to old ones. They expect it to train. 


youth in the ways that the elders expect them to walk in. Educa 
tion, instead of being free to do its work, is sidetracked. Its 
proper task is, as I have said in my "Meaning of a Liberal Educa 

Something which will broaden the interests and sympathies of people 
regardless of their daily occupation or along with it to lift men s 
thought out of the monotony and drudgery which are the common lot, 
to free the mind from servitude and herd opinion, to train habits of 
judgment and of appreciation of value, to carry on the struggle for hu 
man excellence in our day and generation, to temper passion with wisdom, 
to dispel prejudice by better knowledge of self, to enlist al 1 jaien, in the 
measure that they have capacity for it, in the achievement of civilization. 

But education is always diverted from its true aim and made to 
serve ends which are irrelevant the state, the church, popular 
notions of morality, efficiency, ambition, social security, 

We cannot understand the anomalous position of education in 
the world today, unless we see clearly what happened to the clas 
sical tradition after the Renaissance. As should have been ex 
pected, both Protestant and Catholic turned against the human 
izing influence of the Renaissance upon education. This fact 
should not astonish the psychologist. As I have shown elsewhere, 
after every intellectual awakening in history the masses have risen 
up in an effort to blot it out or repudiate its real meaning, and 
have made use of popular religious ideas as weapons in their 
struggle against a movement which at once demanded too much 
of men, made them feel inferior and robbed them of their tradi 
tional consolations. Both Protestant and Catholic turned against 
the humanism of the Renaissance. It was "Pagan," "worldly," 

It is interesting to note that both the Protestant Reformation 
and the Catholic counter Reformation led by the Jesuits did 
much the same thing with the classical tradition revived by the 
Renaissance. Both hastily established schools and colleges; both 
saw that the classical tradition in education was a challenge to pre- 
established beliefs and that "Humane Letters," once published, 
could not again be withdrawn from the curriculum. Some know!- 


edge of them had become part of recognized education. Hence 
each, quite independently of the other, sought to capture for itself 
the classical knowledge. 

Apparently they accepted the classical tradition, and then each 
denatured it, and made it serve its own theological ends. There 
was careful selection and expurgation. Emphasis was placed upon 
monotonous drill in learning Latin and Greek as dead languages 
the more dead, the better and all for "discipline" rather than 
for understanding of a great culture. And all was so taught 
usually so badly taught as to give the student only a superficial 
knowledge of the language and a disgust at the whole procedure, 
and almost no knowledge at all of the Pagan civilization and non- 
Christian values and ways of life that lay back of all this drill in 
grammar and vocabulary. 

The teaching of the classics might have been the opening of 
a window on ways of life and thought different from our own, 
knowledge of which would have broadened the student s interest 
and sympathies and might have led him to take a critical and ex 
perimental attitude toward the problems of living similar to that 
of the ancients. All this however was carefully avoided. The 
scholastic spirit was revived in education. Students droned over 
dull lessons and translation, learned to adorn their speech with a 
few Latin and Greek quotations, passed examination and for the 
most part had no notion of what all the study of the classics was 
about except that some proficiency in the dead languages was 
expected of a gentleman. It was a sign of refinement. The clas 
sical tradition had thus become the "genteel tradition" and it was- 
with this meaningless baggage that the "Western World entered the 
industrial age and expected that its education would lead it 
through the maze of machines and organizations and the brute 
struggle for power and advantage to the achievement of a bright 
and beautiful civilization. Such might have been realized had the 
classical tradition, which made up the greater part o the cur 
riculum of school and college, been allowed to retain its vitality, 
its critical spirit, its humanism and discrimination of worth. But 
you cannot humanize a machine age with a dead language! 

The ancient emphasis upon distinction of human worth, the 


free spirit in its search for truth and beauty, the breadth of hu 
man understanding all embraced in the classical tradition if it 
had not been so denatured were the very things necessary for 
the humanization of the industrial age. 

As it was, the dead language tradition remained an innocuous 
ground-work on which was superimposed a scientific and voca 
tional training which by its very nature had to do with means 
rather than with ends. Real knowledge of science is possible only 
in graduate research institutions and thus accessible only to the 
few. The public, accepting the fruits of science and knowing 
little of its methods, marvels over its practical "wonders" and is 
afraid it will destroy its reEgion. Popular education becomes more 
and more vocational training, an instrumentality for gaining ad 
mittance to the white collar class. The dead language drill on 
which the ct go-getter" animal-training is grafted is unable to give 
meanings to life that are relevant to our age or any other and 
hence there is much cleverness as to methods of achievement and 
little reflection on the question: What is worth doing? 

Even in those religious circles which succeeded so admirably 
in capturing and emasculating the classical tradition in education, 
there is small leadership in the struggle of the modern world for 
value. Science is either repudiated or its meaning, like that of 
the humanities, evaded. The spirit of dogmatism has no educa 
tional relevancy in the modern world, and when dogmatism is 
thrust into the background there often emerges not so much a 
new intellectual spirit as a sentimentalism in which Christ and 
3Rx)usseau and Mark Hanna are unintelligibly scrambled. 

Education becoming secular has not found a philosophy that 
equips it for leadership in the new civilization. Everywhere the 
pillar of fiery cloud is replaced, if not by the ambulance, then by 
[the technique of the efficiency expert whose interest in education 
seems to be that some marchers go faster than others and that the 
whole rate of marching be speeded up, but whither and to what 
ends neither dead language nor up-to-date animal-training is able 
4 to say. Is it to be wondered at that the two parties the masters 
of dead languages and of the newer animal-training should in 
pur time fall afoul of each other, each party asserting that the 


other did not know where it was leading humanity? I said that 
everywhere in Western civilization, education is in a state of con* 


THE function of education in modern life is something whicK 
could not possibly have been foreseen by those who in the past 
fabricated the classical tradition. Nor is it comprehended by 
those moderns who seem to be content with specialization, voca 
tional training, preparation for citizenship, new and easier psy 
chological methods of habit formation, or that kind of social 
service according to which it is held that a university is fulfill 
ing its proper end when it offers its students any sort of instruc 
tion that anyone may desire, all with little or no concern for the 
students* general mental development or orientation toward their 

Western civilization, because of its industrial and mechanical 
basis, is like an artifact, a construct, an assemblage of parts, rather 
than like a process of organic growth. Its unity is not given like 
that of a living thing or like that of earlier societies. Its unity 
must be consciously thought out by someone and also consciously 
utilized and controlled. Successful adaptation to it by the indi 
vidual requires something more than the assent which was sufficient 
in earlier civilizations it requires understanding. It must, to a 
degree that earlier civilizations did not find necessary, depend for 
its survival and advancement upon deliberately constructed pro 
grammes of education. In agrarian civilizations continuity and 
integration were achieved largely by means of tradition and custom 
uncritically accepted. Education there was, but except in Ancient 
Greece (and perhaps China) legend was more important than rea 
son. Society was relatively static. The past was more to be con 
sidered than the future. Distinctions of right and wrong were 
not subject to revision in the light of experience. They were 
definitely fixed by the wisdom of the fathers and by a supernatural 
will. Education was largely drill in the mores and in the estab 
lished system of rationalization* 



IN THE new age such an education is obviously fatal. At best it is 
irrelevant, having nothing to do with the novel situations in which 
behavior must take place. At worst it means stagnation and mal 
adjustment. Modern civilization is naturalistic, mechanistic, its 
rhythm the tempo of machines, each one of which is a creature of 
problem-solving intelligence. It is an unstable equilibrium of 
forces, the shifting patterns of which require of mankind ever 
more insight and calculation. To participate, otherwise than as an 
automaton and helpless victim of circumstance, the modern man 
must to some degree be initiated into the "mysteries" of his new 
civilization. And these secrets are the discoveries of the labora 
tory, of scientific research, of exact measurement, and of mathe 
matics. The formulas of ancient wisdom may still be useful for 
certain human valuations of the possibilities of modern life. But 
they are not enough. The new order has no deep roots in the 
past. The swiftly changing environment is a ceaseless challenge 
to die educator. As new industrial processes emerge, together 
;with a succession of unpredictable inventions, and as devices of 
all sorts of control of the forces of nature are placed in the hands 
of the public at Iarge 2 there must be continuous restatement of the 
human issues at stake and ever better general understanding of the 
methods of utilizing power for the achievement of value. With 
rapidly moving machinery at their disposal men may not behave in 
one world and think as if they were living in another. In the face 
of every popular resistance and resistance here is almost insur 
mountable the educator must lead beneficiaries of the machine 
age to face the realities of the world they are living in. 

One such obvious fact, the import of which is not popularly 
recognized frequently not by educators themselves is that in 
dustrialism is rapidly transforming society from an agrarian civ 
ilization to a new urban civilization. Yet many of the habits 
and views of Hfe on which school and college insist are those of 
the country side, the small village, and rural parish of two or 
tkree generations ago. Even in highly industrialized America our 
prevailing culture has not yet passed the turning point where there 


is general recognition of the situation as it exists. The very ap 
proach to such a turning point at which the urban and rural ways 
of life are arrayed in sharp contrast, raising some of the most 
significant issues of contemporary American life, still finds such 
issues officially suppressed both in practical politics and in the edu 
cational system. Popular moral sentiments are, as Mr. Mark Sul 
livan says, still those formerly inculcated by the McGuffy readers. 
Popular religious beliefs are still parochial, pre-Newtonian^ ante- 
Darwinian. Political ideas are still largely Jacksonian. The Mid 
dle West is still thought of as "progressive/* Americanism is still 
largely the inhospitality of the older agrarian immigration toward 
the newer immigration with its industrial urban population. Big 
cities are still "wicked* 5 though much of their superficial sophis 
tication is universally imitated. It would seem that the intellec 
tual urbanization of America is taking place with little guidance 
on the part of the educational system, a fact which may in part ac 
count for our tabloid newspaper mentality and other cultural 

The emergence of every urban civilization has brought with it, 
among other things, often of lasting gain for human progress,- a 
period of cultural turmoil, intellectual ferment, and moral laxity. 
Our own promises to outdistance them aU in these respects. 

It is a question how effective the educator in the past may have 
been in directing the hot outflow of such volcanic eruptions into 
safe channels and in directions calculated to lay new and advantag 
eous ground for human habitation and culture. I have not the 
historical knowledge to answer this question but I cannot believe 
tfeat in the present transformation society may expect much guid 
ance of those educators whose agrarian psychology makes them un 
able to think in terms of the problem with which they have to deal. 


THUS we find that education in Western civilization, confused 
as to its aims, and hesitant to recognize the full implication of the 
situation in which it is expected to lead, is at the same time a social 
necessity such as it has never been before. There is nothing new 


in the statement that without knowledge the people perish. But 
the statement is true in a new sense now. 

Knowledge was never so imperative. And hitherto the chief 
task of education was the dissemination of knowledge. The 
knowledge to be disseminated was not far to seek. It was sure and 
easily obtainable. It was the wisdom inherent in the mores. To 
day such wisdom must itself be revalued. The necessary knowl 
edge must be continuously rediscovered and its principles revised 
and restated. And the people to whom it is to be given? They 
too are a problem such as the educator of no previous age had to 
meet. New situations must be met in new and still more new 
ways, yet always in such a way that those basic human interests 
for which men have always struggled be not lost, but in each read 
justment augumented and made richer in objective. 

The burden which Western civilization loads on the back of 
education can be borne neither by ignoring the present as do the 
classicists nor by ignoring the past as do many moderns. There 
must be a living union of the two not a mere logical synthesis 
such as has not appeared in education since the days of ancient 
Athens. Although in the machine age it is necessary that in the 
struggle for value men be enabled consciously to match and meet 
each change in the patterns of mechanical forces, nevertheless a 
living culture, like all organic behavior, is a continuity in which 
past and present are merged as one. It is the task of education in 
the machine age to achieve such a continuity. 

Education is thus faced with two aspects of the same problem 
that of practically orienting the individual to his world in the 
struggle for value. The practical problem of orientation can 
not be divorced from the end of the struggle for value. To do 
so is to kill culture, turn the pursuit of value into futile senti 
mentality and the practical interest into a brute struggle equipped 
with means, but with no goal or meaning. 

The dismemberment of education into an alleged "practical" 
and a "cultural" interest that seem to have little in common is 
not infrequently found among those who are engaged in the work 
of adult education. A vast majority of the two million or more 
persons in America who are enrolled as students in various classes 


and correspondence courses, which we speak of as adult educa 
tion, are inspired by purely utilitarian motives. They are seek 
ing a kind of training which will in the shortest time increase their 
economic efficiency and enable them to improve their material 
condition. This is a laudable aim. But I doubt if its prevalence 
should influence our philosophy of education. Yet this popular 
utilitarian spirit is often reflected in the thinking of the educators 
whose task it is to supply this widespread demand for practical 
information of a vocational nature. Not only is such specialized 
and elementary training considered education, but it is often takea 
for granted that this is the only adult education worthy of con 
sideration and that "cultural" education, though not essential, 
may be embroidered around the periphery of the vocational if 
one is inclined to such ornamentation. But in our industrial world 
it is considered an intellectual luxury a sort of high-brow enter 
tainment. I have reason to believe that such a view is not uncom 
mon among those engaged in the work of formal education in 
school and university. One can understand such a notion when 
one remembers the lack of thoroughness and the aimlessness of 
much of the teaching of the humanities. But one wonders what 
Socrates or Abelard or Erasmus would have thought of the idea. 

My point is, the educator s task is dual. He must equip the 
modern man with the insight and the intellectual tools which are 
necessary for adequate behavior in a world where natural science 
and modern industry are substituting mechanism for the older 
personal explanations and relationships. And he must at the same 
time go beyond means to ends. There is a possible education that 
will make men more than well ordered puppets in the passing 
show trained to make gestures, with no sense of the significance of 
the human drama and with no reflection beyond problems of mate 
rial advantage. 

The task of immediate adjustment is the simpler part of educa 
tion. Although it is easier to dazzle the masses with the results 
of scientific research than it is to lead them to think scientifically 
and the average man s belief in science must remain second-hand 
knowledge a sort of fides implicata still it is possible for the 
educator to block out innumerable vocational processes and to 


"sell" in the open market such expert information as will add 
to the efficiency of anyone from a paper hanger to a member of 
the diplomatic service. 


THE second part of the task that which really makes it educa 
tion and liberalizing is that of leading men to reflect on the way 
they are going, to consider for themselves ends and values in the 
light of the experience and the serious thinking of all time, to 
break the bondage of narrow self-interest and of parochial prej 
udices with wider outlook and sympathies. If learning does not 
result in the ability to take a philosophical attitude toward expe 
rience, it is not liberal education. 

The goal has been achieved all too infrequently even under the 
favorable conditions of a relatively simple and thus easily inter- 
pretable body of knowledge, a selected group of students, and 
leisure. Consider then the conditions under which the educator 
must labor in present-day civilization. 

Saint Paul tried to be all things to all men. But this ambitious 
attempt was somewhat simplified by the fact that he had to as 
sume these multitudinous roles only in so far as the appearance 
was necessary to convert all sorts of people to belief in his creed 
which was his specific purpose. Our civilization forces its educa 
tional system to try Saint Paul s ambitious experiment, yet with 
no such singleness of aim. Democracy and industrialism combine 
to load upon education a multitude of burdens under which it 
necessarily weakens. Try to do everything and you will do noth 
ing well. The increased demands upon education are of two 
kinds. The range and variety of subjects to be taught are vastly 
extended. Second, our age insists upon giving (compulsory) 
educational opportunity to the whole population. We may for 
the present pass by the logical contradiction of the term, com 
pulsory opportunity, and merely note in passing that no such de 
mand was ever before made upon the educator. Could he have 
succeeded in re-orienting the nations, giving them a well con 
sidered knowledge of the elements of the good life, a criterion for 


the discrimination of worth, and habits of judgment which might 
have enabled men to deal with reality courageously and independ 
ently, the educator might have come into his own at last. He 
might have induced the population of the Western World to adopt 
a mentality which would have saved it from the comic vulgarities 
of democracy, the insincerities of our industrialism, and the menace 
of a future dictatorship. There is little doubt that such was the 
hope of early nineteenth century apostles of universal education. 
Those who held this visionary hope did not however take into ac 
count the psychological and social effects of the new economic 
system, the materialistic twist which was to be given to the motive 
of ambition, the will to self -flattery of the masses. 

We have precedent and the force of the established order to pro 
tect our courts from the evils of personal greed and the passion of 
the mob. We know how often these protective devices fail. But 
we have literally thrown education to the mob and have subjected 
it to every sort of crowd influence. Discipline and prestige and 
precedent it has often to its disadvantage but as protective de 
vices these are empty gestures. I have watched many local elec 
tions of members of boards of education and have noted the fact 
that commonly petty personal interests and crowd partisanship 
result in the choice of incompetent persons, whose influence upon 
public education everywhere is to make it not only susceptible to 
crowd prejudice but an actual fabricator of mob ideas. In 1917 
I happened to be secretary of a citizens committee in New York 
which strove to interpret an educational aim to the masses at a 
time when politicians made the so-called Gary School a campaign 
issue, I saw the school system of the metropolis of America 
Itrampled under foot by a hysterical mob which drove our speak 
ers off the streets because, among other things, an ignorant candi 
date for mayor had promised to free the school system of experts 
who were conspiring to make "wage slaves" of the children. 

We have all read with "chagrin the attacks upon education in 
states like Tennessee and in the second city of the land, Chicago. 
These spasms are only exaggerations of a pressure which is all 
about public education all the time. Certain radicals have pointed 
out the menace of capitalist influence on education! It is a men- 


ace but a greater menace is the terrorism of the mob. There are 
few places in America where anything may be mentioned in the 
public school that is displeasing to Methodist preachers, the Catholic 
Irish, leading politicians, grocers, or any organized group. 


THERE is a growing tendency to look to education as the savior 
of the state which means that it must inculcate the ideas of what 
ever group has succeeded through its organized lobby in controlling 
the legislature* Of course the school must teach obedience to 
law, no matter by what questionable methods the law was passed. 
The school must disseminate patriotic and moral sentiments. To 
this we all agree, but we should not forget the fact that many such 
prevailing sentiments are not only partisan but are disguises for 
material interests not always disclosed. The school, in teaching 
morals and patriotism, should be critical if it is not to be partisan. 
But the school is forced to become the agency of all sorts of prop 
aganda to such an extent indeed that most people "educated" in 
it are never afterward able to distinguish between education and 
propaganda. The idea that their education should enable them 
to examine aU things is something that schooling never gave them. 
They think of the educator as one who tells them what to be 

But if the school fails to develop critical faculties, at least it 
must serve the ends of personal ambition in the industrial world. 
It must make for efficiency of every kind. It is not so much as a 
guarantor of liberty as an agency of progress prosperity that 
democracy and industry support the school. 

Evidence of the anomalous position of education in modern civ 
ilization is that, whereas people generally look to it for guidance, 
yet the gospel of "service" evolved jointly by business and by the 
temper of democracy tends commonly to place institutions of 
learning in the rear, not at the head of the procession. A recent 
critic of contemporary religious tendencies says that, whereas re 
ligion was once the pillar of fire and cloud that led humanity 
through the procession of the ages, it becomes in our times the am- 


balance which follows in the rear and takes care of the wounded 
and the broken. Something similar happens to education also. 

The school or college, apologetic and fearful that its educational 
traditions may not be satisfactorily directed "toward life" and 
obliged, in our commercial society, continually to "sell" education 
if it is to hold its place in popular interest, desires to be of service 
to the community. The superintendent needs larger appropria 
tions, the president larger gifts, for each feels an increasing pres 
sure on the part of those who want to see results which are im 
mediate and tangible. Is there a campaign to "put the town on 
the map," a city-wide religious revival, a "drive" in behalf of 
some approved community interest, a wave of warlike patriotism, 
a strong Fundamentalist or Ku Klux Klan sentiment, a fear of 
Bolshevism, a demand for better trained mechanics, an ambition 
on the part of persons seeking vocational training and opportunity, 
an imaginary need for the psychology of salesmanship? Forth 
with the public school, loving our fellow man, surely as much as 
it loves pure learning, would see, like Abou ben Adhem, its name 
lead all the rest. But one may question whether this Abou ben 
Adhemism, making brotherly love the sole virtue often at expense 
of love of wisdom, is really conducive to that leadership which our 
civilization most needs, and should have from its educational in 
stitutions. And when college and university gather up their 
academic gowns and run after the band, offering academic stand 
ing to anything for which there is a popular demand, however 
narrowly ambitious, and are sensitive to every wave of "enthu 
siasm," one may well question how far leadership in the modern 
world is in the hands of educators. 

Mr. Bryan, arch enemy of education during his latter years, 
did not mean to be cynical when he said that people who pay 
for education have the right to decide what shall be taught. He 
would have condemned this policy on the part of privately en 
dowed universities but advocated it on the part of those publicly 
supported. He was merely describing a situation that is the 
confusion of education in an age when everything is expected of 
it, while it is controlled for the greater part by the uneducated. 


There are alleged realists who would say that all this is the normal 
course of events. They hold that economic tendencies must dom 
inate education, as they do all else, and hence the idea of looking 
to education for leadership is a delusion. The school or university 
is merely a product of economic forces. It is but an agency for 
drilling the public in the ways of life required by the existing 
order* Its function is but to fabricate the ideology of the present 
system; it is a useful servant in the present-day industrial house 
hold, with little influence on the general trend of events. 

If this theory is correct we should turn our attention away from 
education, give up the notion that it can in any way assist us in 
the present crisis of civilization, and base our hope entirely on the 
prophecies of those who are studying the balance of economic 
forces. It seems to me however that a theory such as I have sug 
gested oversimplifies the situation. Among the elements which 
determine the destiny of any civilization there are many which 
are curiously inconsistent with dominant economic tendencies. 
Many of these tendencies are themselves the result of accident and 
of psychological factors quite independent of prevailing economic 
interests. Many are hangovers from earlier stages of culture and 
are evidences of the devilish inconsistency of human nature. 

Hence the confusion about education is only made greater by 
the theory of economic determinism. Education becomes con 
fused with propaganda. For instance, it is said that since pre 
vailing education is nothing but capitalist "ideology," the new 
education must be the ideology of the rising proletariat as if 
there could be a capitalist geometry and a working-class arithmetic; 
a capitalist geography and a working-class economics. This is 
nonsense. Things are either true or false and are so for all men. 
A man is either being educated or he is not. And if the pursuit 
of a disinterested wisdom may not pull our world out of its present 
muddle, upon what else may we depend? A blind struggle for 
power? In that case the confusion about education is universally 
accepted, and the notion that there is or can be any guidance 
of wisdom, at the very time the world needs it most, is a forlorn 



HOWEVER, the gospel of service places education at the beck and 
call of every popular demand* The educator is like a manu 
facturer who, finding that his staple commodity is out of fashion, 
must turn his plant to the making of novelties of all sorts. Pub 
lic school authorities, correspondence schools, and universities are 
forced to offer a bewildering array of courses of study in the up- 
to-date tricks of every human enterprise. Universities follow 
the high schools in this matter. Courses in Egyptian archaeol 
ogy, Aristotle s Ethics, Domestic Science, the sanitary laws of the 
State of North Carolina, Oral Hygiene, Soil Fertilization, Scenario 
Writing, Journalism, Engineering, High Power Salesmanship, Ap 
plied Psychology, Advanced Physics and Mathematics, Household 
Decoration, Personnel Management, Boxing and Poultry Raising all 
stand very much on a level. Are not credits for equal time al 
lotted to all? Has not a president of a great university said that 
it makes little difference what one learns, since all learning is cul 
tural? Hence the catalogue of a progressive institution of "higher 
learning" resembles nothing so much as a similar catalogue an 
nually issued by Sears, Roebuck & Co. 

One need not be astonished at the catholicity of modern edu 
cation. It is to its credit and a sign of its broadmindedness that 
it tolerates anything beyond skill in the tricks of the trade. Mod 
ern life is chiefly concerned with results. Thinking is subordi 
nated to doing. Much present-day educational psychology pro 
ceeds on the theory that we learn only by doing, and that learning 
is habit formation not essentially different from that habit forma 
tion which can be organized in animals by means of the condi 
tioned reflex. It is possible in a laboratory to put an animal in 
a maze and to note on successive days, the diminishing period of 
time occupied by random movements which elapses before the 
animal is able to make the particular movement which leads to 
escape. It is held that the sucessful movement, being associated 
with escape and food, and being repeated daily, becomes "over- 
determined." Hence while regarding the animal as a pure autom 
aton, with no insight into the situation, the mechanics of the 


environment may be so arranged as to organize in the neurons 
certain tendencies to respond which we may predict and control. 
This process of neural organization, the requisite length of time 
for which may be written down as a curve such as scientists love, 
is education, the same for animals and human beings. Learning 
is habit formation, and why strive to learn or retain habits that 
are useless when so many are required by our everyday environ 

Recently an eminent psychologist was requested to make a study 
of the process of adult education. The substance of his pre 
liminary report is somewhat as follows: The problem of adult 
education is the same as that of the facility in acquiring new habits. 
To ascertain the relative degrees of facility in this respect exper 
iments were made upon several hundred subjects to find out at 
which age they could most speedily learn to write with the left 
hand and to speak Esperanto. Of course every scientific cau 
tion was resorted to in order to secure accuracy in such experi 
ments. It was found that maximum speed in habit formation is 
most common between the years of 1 8 and 24. Before and after 
these learning years facility is about 75% and 80% that of the 
best period. Hence it is suggested that in view of the greater loss 
of time in acquiring habits in earlier years and also taking into ac 
count the loss of efficiency in forgetting, education should be so 
arranged that people may learn things only a short time before 
they are required to make use of habits so acquired. I understand 
that this advance in pedagogical science is to be corroborated by a 
series of experiments on rats of various ages, in order to learn at 
what period a conditioned reflex may be organized in these an 
imals in the shortest period of time. Give a psychologist a rat 
and a graph and you will get about the last word on the subject of 
the philosophy of education in the machine age. 

Those of us who have for many years been engaged in the work 
of adult education have sometimes stumbled upon certain criteria 
of the educational process which I think are pertinent to educa 
tion in general. Long ago I became aware of a striking difference 
among the students of The People s Institute a difference accord 
ing to which I believe one may classify students in any educational 


institution beyond the primary grades* All alike were exposed 
to every cultural influence we could bring to bear on them. All 
were placed in an environment of investigation of ideas old and 
new. The best information at our disposal was given d> all. A 
critical spirit was dominant and no one was requested to accept 
anything on the authority of the instructor. The aim was not to 
teach people what to think but how to think. 

To such a stimulus we have always received two sharply con 
trasted types of response, one negative and one positive. The nega 
tive response was varied. Some came in the hope that in our lec 
tures and classes they would find finality. They seemed to care 
little to what creed they were required to subscribe. But they 
wished to subscribe, not to think, or to be forced to ask ques 
tions. They are just natural believers and I have always told them 
that they had come to the wrong place: they should have gone to 

Another negative type always puzzles the educator. We all 
find in our classes brilliant students who take our courses and yet 
never seem to learn a thing they leave precisely as they came. 
From the beginning to the end they have been on the defensive. 
They have been so afraid that something might be said, some fact 
disclosed, some interpretation made, which might possibly result 
in a revision of the preconceived ideas with which they entered^ 
that they carefully made their minds prophylactic to any educa 
tional influence. They throw off all that challenges the opinion 
ated state of mind in which they entered. Yet many of these 
unteachable persons are very adept in acquiring habits of practical 

The positive reaction of our students has not always been easy 
to check up. But there are students to whom something hap 
pens. Often they have entered a course as opinionated as any 
one could be, and have at the beginning resisted everything that 
was said regarding every discovery and interpretation placed be 
fore them with profound suspicion. Slowly they changed. They 
formed habits of considering evidence and of respecting fact. 
They became critical of over-generalization and hasty conclusion. 
[They learned to hold judgment in abeyance and to know what it 


is to liave an open mind. They were forced to smile at them 
selves with their premature "know it all" attitude. It is at just 
this point that intellectual curiosity is stimulated, along with self- 
criticism and a love of truth for its own sake. Very often stu 
dents come to me after one or two years of conflict: "Do you 
remember what a fool I used to make of myself? I thought that 
I knew it all and that you were trying to put something over on 
us. Now I begin to see what you mean by the disinterested pur 
suit of knowledge. I realize the fact that I have by no means 
as much knowledge as I thought I had when I came here, but I 
want to learn/* 

Here is something more than skill. 

this thing happens, a thing we look and wait for, we feel 
that education is going on and that a personality, a character, 
is emerging out of the impersonal forces of the machine world. 
In the environment of Western civilization this result is more 
difficult of achievement than was the end sought in those ages 
when education meant the drill necessary for conformity to an 
accepted ideal of civilization. 

Education in ancient China if I am correctly informed con 
sisted largely in training in manners, practical philosophy, and 
literature. That of the Hebrews one of the most vital and per 
sistent systems of education in all the world was chiefly the 
study of the law and the prophets and the rabbinical commentators. 
The ancient Greeks, though, as we have seen, their education was 
aimed at independence of thought, were chiefly concerned with 
dialectic. The education of the Middle Ages was primarily con 
cerned with theology, law, and the technique of disputation in the 
Latin language. That of the Renaissance was occupied with ^hu 
mane letters." 

Only a century ago, at the beginning of the Industrial Revolu 
tion, the task of the educator in the English-speaking world was 
relatively simple in contrast with that of our day. The aim was 
a rather aloof scholarship, the conventional training of the gentk- 


man. In addition to language drill in Greek and Latin the aim 
of which seems to have been chiefly to adorn the speech of mem 
bers of the English Parliament there was required a knowledge 
of the philosophy of such writers as Aristotle, Hobbes, Bacon, 
Locke, and Hume. Familiarity with the political ideas of these 
same writers and also of Burke, Blackstone, Montesquieu, and 
Rousseau was also considered a part of the equipment of an edu 
cated man. He must also have some acquaintance with modern 
languages other than his own, notably French or German, though 
this was not absolutely essential. But he must know the vernacu 
lar literature of his own nation. 

On the whole higher education was class education. It was 
aesthetic and intellectual and its aim was training in the knowledge 
of general principles. It was believed that, once the student had 
mastered his few principles, their practical application could be 
left to his mature common sense. Education even at the dawn of 
the Industrial Revolution was thus essentially theoretical in con 
trast with the immediately practical interest which appears to 
dominate it in the age of machines. 

This difference in the aim of higher education is reflected in the 
common school. The "schooling" given children in earlier times 
was not really considered "education." It was elementary train 
ing in acquiring the mastery of the simple tools of learning not 
itself "learning." 

Reading, writing, arithmetic were only the crude instruments of 
an education which was, if at all, to come later and after mastery. 
It was held that, once the student had mastered thoroughly these 
required elements of learning, he then possessed the key which 
could open for his mind if he had opportunity and inclination 
those chambers of ageless wisdom, entrance into which was the open 
door of education. No intelligent person in the eighteenth cen 
tury would have thought a modern high school graduate in any 
pense an educated person. 

From all this it is clear that the common school of a century 
ago was primarily a preparatory school. It was designed to point 
the way to a far-off scholarly attainment. Today the tendency is 
to abandon this scholarly aim since only a minority of students 


can aspire to it or care for it and to try to make the elementary 
school, in the short years of average attendance, a "preparation for 
life" whatever that is. Consequently, in addition to drill in 
the elements of scholarship with the aim of thoroughness in these 
simple disciplines, I should say that* at the tragic expense of such 
thoroughness, children in common schools are bewildered by an 
ill-assorted curriculum designed to give them in these early years 
about all the knowledge they will ever systematically get of all 
the subjects that their elders think a mature person should know 
in this complex modern world. The notion that children can be 
prepared for life by giving them a superficial, censored, and child 
like view of a hundred mature interests, while neglecting to give 
them a thorough grounding, when we have the opportunity, in 
the essentials, and such reading habits as will later enable them to 
acquire mature knowledge, is one of the iafantilisms of modern 

Little children must for instance be trained in the duties of 
citizenship. The State which supports the school requires this. 
Of course this is a future citizenship not to be exercised for many 
years. But it can easily be formulated too easily in terms of 
the child mind. But what can such training amount to? Good 
citizenship means that mature persons give careful and dispassion 
ate consideration to the public good. Does infantile training in 
citizenship prepare children for such political duty? I do not 
think so. The common school can hardly do more than fix in 
their minds a hackneyed phraseology, a set of childish sentiments, 
a Santa Claus-like distortion of the history of their country, an 
uncritical hero worship. The total effect is to identify their in 
fantile egoism with childlike symbols of the glory of their na 
tion and to discourage independence of judgment in future years* 
I think the low political mentality displayed by the American 
electorate is directly chargeable to the public school. Politically 
conditioned in a child psychology, the average citizen never gives 
up but always retains an uncritical, infantile notion of citizen 
ship in which the school drilled his mind. Now that there is 
also thrown on the school the burden of Americanizing millions 
of children of immigrants and of so interpreting our culture and 


history that children without our background of tradition .can 
understand it and carry it with them all their Eves, the unction 
and desire for quick result add to our national infantilism an 
element of downright insincerity. 

This same unctiousness appears to the extent that the school, 
under popular pressure, tends to supplant the home in the training 
in manners and morals. Here also the average person gets very 
little, yet tends never to outgrow the childish fixations of his early 
schooling. I think this is the case with most that the public 
school teaches in its efforts to equip children to live in our machine 
world. It might be better if we concentrated our efforts on the 
task of giving children the elements of a scholarship which, by 
the time they had mastered the elements, would open to them a 
grown-up world to be met with mature judgment and not childish 
sentimentality and idealization. I am sure there would be a larger 
number of really educated people if we did this. 

We are beginning to see the result of the attempt to teach chil 
dren a smattering of everything presented in terms of their inex 
perience and tender years, while neglecting to give them the es 
sentials of learning. Dumping a little of everything into the 
school makes of education intellectual garbage. Short cuts to 
specific knowledge are delusions. Knowledge of means without 
knowledge of ends is animal-training. The throwing of emphasis 
on practical advantage rather than on scholarship tends to de 
prive our people of that respect for scholarship without which a 
high civilization is impossible. To divide attention among a 
multitude of subjects only superficially presented results in a lack 
of thoroughness which is notorious in our entire educational sys 
tem from primary grades to graduate university courses. 

The infantile sentimentality, lack of thoroughness, scattering 
of attention, and superficial interest in a thousand things without 
mastery of anything these are the psychological deposits of our 
education in the public mind. The school cannot evade respon 
sibility for the present low level of mental life in this republic. 
This people can read, and the school may be judged by the reading 
habits of its human output. The people have been taught by the 
school to read; they prefer to read trash, and they act in important 


situations just as people would be expected to act who read that 
sort of thing. The school was forced to try to do everything; 
hence it could do nothing well. 


IT would seem that the destiny of Western civilization is bound 
together with the most ambitious and perhaps Utopian programme 
of popular education ever contemplated. Not only is there an 
attempt to take over from custom and rule of thumb all kinds of 
human activity and make proficiency everywhere a matter of 
special training; in addition the entire population is to be en 
lightened, drilled, regimented, and initiated into the ways of 
modern life by means of compulsory attendance at school. 

The considerations which led our predecessors to attempt uni 
versal education and today justify the enormous expense of the 
enterprise are the commonplace of contemporary thought. Is not 
every child entitled to his share in our cultural heritage? Society 
owes it to all its members to equip them to perform the tasks 
which it will require of them. Popular education is the best safe 
guard of democratic institutions. Industry has need of trained 
men and women. Moreover since training is of advantage to 
the individual in the struggle for preferment and personal advance 
ment, the democratic dogma of equal opportunity requires that 
the State extend educational opportunity to all. We like to be 
lieve that in our civilization any youth, however poor, may "get 
an education if he really desires it," and that, once he has it, his 
humble origin is no barrier to him. He may rise to any position 
and move in any circles to which ambition may inspire him and 
to which his ability and industry may entitle him. Thus universal 
education at once asserts that equality of opportunity demanded 
by democracy and justifies the inequalities of competitive indus 
trialism. All the arguments are in favor of the widest possible 
extension of education. 

But when we turn from argument to consideration of the 
actual situation, we may question whether in the attempt to 
educate everybody we are really educating anyone. In their en- 


thusiasm over equal opportunity a splendid ideal men forgot 
to inquire whether all persons could be educated; whether what 
they thought they wanted was really education; whether the ma 
terial conditions under which so vast an experiment must neces 
sarily be conducted could ever be made conducive to the learn 
ing process. 

There are almost insurmountable difficulties in trying to teach 
large numbers of students in crowded class rooms, where there is 
little opportunity for personal contact between the teacher and 
the individual student. Inevitably a vast educational system 
emerges which tends to become an end in itself and in which ap 
pear the tendencies to bureaucracy, the emphasis on externalities 
to the point of neglect of original aims and values, the standardiza 
tion, uniformity, and spirit of quantity production which com 
monly defeat the ends of human organization. 

The idea of equal educational opportunity even with the best 
we can do remains something of a fiction. The realization of 
this ideal is everywhere defeated by facts of economic, domestic, 
and psychological nature. The greater portion of students in 
the public school stop their lessons and go to work before they 
have had opportunity to learn much of anything. One person in 
a little less than three hundred in the population enters college or 
university. This number which represents an enormous increase 
in recent years is so unprecedented that institutions of higher 
learning are obliged to decline admission to many candidates. 

In the common school notwithstanding the occasional efforts 
of psychologists to isolate the unusual children for specially super 
vised instruction the presence of large numbers of dull and poorly 
prepared children retards the progress of learning and makes thor 
oughness in teaching difficult. In the colleges a prevailing social 
custom requires the sons and daughters of families of wealth and 
position to attend. These young people may have little inclina 
tion toward scholarship or possess only mediocre ability. Many 
are first subjected to a distasteful and often painful process in pre 
paratory school where the chief end of man is a passing grade in 
the college entrance examinations. The presence in a college of a 
large number of students who have come not out of love of learn- 


ing so much as for social reasons gives rise to the idea that there 
can be education without scholarship, and that,,as an agency for 
broadening culture the fraternity house is preferable to the library. 
It is a charming picture to be sure and who can say that good 
does not come from that confusion of adolescent activities and 
interests known as undergraduate college life? But is this edu 
cation? Are not the dominant spirit and present intellectual level 
of school and college very much what one should expect when the 
attempt is made to educate a large number of people who have no 
interest in scholarship? 

Universal education must proceed with the disadvantage of 
having to overcome the cultural influences or lack of them of 
the early home environment. Psychologists recognize the great 
importance of the early years of childhood in the family circle. 
Generally speaking it makes a great difference for the success of 
education whether the home from which the student comes to 
school is an ally of culture or is indifferent or hostile. The older 
"class education/ limited as it was chiefly to the favored few, 
could assume that the students had a similar background of cul 
tural interest. The child had early associated with people for 
whom books, travel, art, and good manners were a part of daily 
existence* The task of education was half done before it was 
given over to the school master. 

Universal education unfortunately has in most cases no such pre 
school training to give it a running start. It must begin at the 
beginning. It must deal with social groups in whose daily ex 
istence culture has little place. The home of the average stu 
dent in the public school may be usually is I think one in which 
there is a spirit of love, industry, self-respect. Sometimes there is 
also some training in manners. But generally speaking, in these 
homes books are few and usually of little educational value. There 
is little interest in art. There is little political philosophy beyond 
that of the editorial page of the newspaper. 

Many a promising student enters school even university 
never having voluntarily read one of the world s great classics in 
having heard, except in recent years over the radio, a symphony 
literature often with no developed reading habits at all never 


of Beethoven or Brahms, never having seen a good painting or work 
of sculpture or of architecture better than the rural county court 
house or small town post-office never, in a word, having known 
the fellowship of people of easy cultured habits or broad intellec 
tual interests. 

The school often tries frantically to make up for this o>mmon 
lack of cultural background. In some cases it succeeds. But it is 
doubtful if the effort is often very successful. Thus it is easier 
to give needed information in specific subjects than to develop in 
the student an educated person s outlook on life, or intellectual 
curiosity beyond that stimulated by some specific material in 
terest. Librarians today are making a study of the reading habits 
of the public. They wish to learn why it is that, although the 
people have learned in school to read, they do little serious read 
ing and show almost no interest in the great literatures to which 
it is the aim of the school to introduce them* I think that a study 
of home influence would throw much light on this problem. An 
interest in reading observed in those about him by a small child 
becomes part of daily existence and is retained after school days as 
life-long habit. Interest in reading acquired in school is likely 
to be thought of as something required, a part of an irksome disci 
pline, something extraneous which belongs to the school, not to 
the home life. People read the tabloid papers because they think 
that these papers deal with "real life," with sensational stories taken 
from the uncouth environment to which they were "conditioned** 
in pre~school days and after. Poetry they do not read because 
poetry belongs to the world of the school, a world from which 
they have returned to real life bringing back very little. Even on 
those occasions when they do bring home from school something 
more than practical knowledge with die promise of material suc 
cess, it is a difficult matter to adapt the newly acquired knowledge 
to the old environment. I fear it will be a long time before uni 
versal education finds in the daily environment, from which it 
draws the majority of its students, an ally which prepares them to 
be receptive to instruction or cordially welcomes any cultural 
change that the school makes in their habits. 

The situation is somewhat similar for institutions of higher 


learning. Few students enter undergraduate study really pre 
pared and few leave college with a passion for truth and with 
habits of study which make any great difference either in their 
personal lives or in the general spirit of the communities to 
which they return, aspiring to positions of leadership. Illustration 
of this fact may be seen in the influence on almost any educational 
institution of the organized alumni. Such influence is seldom 
on the side of scholarship. The loyalty and generosity of the 
alumni are of great value to a college and are quite genuine and 
universal. But it is said that gifts from alumni increase and 
fall off each season in proportion to the success of the college 
football team over its rivals. Most alumni are business men and 
there has grown up a psychology of business, a psychology of the 
fascination of publicity and efficiency. Football and schools of 
business u put a college on the map." 

There is confirmation of this point in the fact that the large 
women s colleges of America have been obliged to unite in an 
appeal for funds. These institutions in which athletic contests 
and schools of business are not part of the tradition of education 
have little of spectacular method of appeal and are neglected by 
that portion of the public which commonly supports higher edu 


THE advance of learning is in America almost confined to those 
who have completed courses of graduate study. It is such per 
sons who make up university faculties, carry on research and ex 
perimentation and, in a word, give to modern education such ulti 
mate standards as it has. Graduate study makes for proficiency 
in the subjects studied. But for reasons I have pointed out it 
is often pursued by those who in school and undergraduate days 
have failed to gain a general cultural background. Graduate 
study, which for many students is the first real study they ever 
experienced, is not necessarily culture. It is rather the mastery 
of the technique of a profession. It is less a culmination and 
flowering of a growing, deepening, and broadening cultural in 
terest, than a narrow specialization superimposed upon such gen- 


eral knowledge and cultural background, or the lack of it, as the 
student may have gained in earlier years. Expert information 
may or may not become integrated with one s intellectual life as 
a whole. It is a question moreover whether the combined in 
fluence of minds trained in one-sided specialization can provide 
a community with the balanced and well-rounded leadership it 
needs. It is only in providing such leadership that education 
performs successfully its social task. 

Lacking this leadership of education, Western civilization makes 
shift to find such temporary and plausible leaderships as it can, and 
seeks its valuations of events in whatever has sentimental appeal. 
Interest centres in the immediately practical. The utilitarian 
spirit becomes dominant and presses into its service all cultural 
agencies, education included. Education serves this interest well 
and in the future we may expect it to serve even more effectively. 
Knowledge of engineering will be perfected and disseminated as 
never before. Business methods will be developed, devices of sales 
manship and the psychological technique of propaganda will doubt 
less be carried to a subtilty quite beyond our imagination today. 
Men will have mastered the techniques of their several tasks in 
numbers far beyond anything we have yet known. 

In all this, education will have- merged itself more and more 
completely in the immediate needs and passing interests of the 
time. Men have always wrestled with the forces of nature and 
have struggled with one another for position and power. But 
there have been leaders, not content that the struggle be inten 
sified or carried on with sharper weapons, who have sought to 
humanize it, to view it in the light of larger experience and wider 
sympathies. Such as these have given to human life some mean 
ing beyond the struggle for material ends; these are they who 
have changed the accidents of history and the conflicts of the 
hour into a somewhat continuous advance of civilization. Out 
of their efforts have come to us something more than clever 
ways of doing things a certain emancipation of the mind from 
routine, a set of interests which belong not merely to one time 
but to all time. Is not this the proper task of education in any 
civilization? The following passage quoted from a letter pub- 


listed in a liberal journal sums up the aim of liberal education and 
the failure to achieve that aim: 

In the words of G. Stanley Hall, is it not the true aim of college edu 
cation to "break down prejudices, religious, political, philosophical, lit 
erary, social, and to postpone discipleship to any school or view in every 
field where there are many held by intelligent and sincere men"? 

"We must admit that the present system of education is not doing very 
much toward the accomplishment of this task in the liberalization of the 
minds of American youth. In raising the standard of work along tech 
nical lines, in enlarging programs of endowment and equipment, and in 
the great increase of attendance, it would seem that education has made 
progress, if these things are counted the same as education. But in 
modernization of the curriculum and humanizing of knowledge to free 
the minds of the youth from superstitions and prejudices, little progress 
is being made. If education is to provide the source of liberalization, it 
must be a new type of education, 

I have tried to show that the tc nw education" must be something 
different from the technology which today is supplanting an out 
worn classical tradition. It must be an adventurous quest for 
meaning and for that which is important, a disposition to think 
things through similar in spirit to that which once created classical 
education and gave it vitality. That education today has so 
generally accepted the subordinate position assigned to it by the 
utilitarian interest is, I think, a result of the confusion of educators 
as to their task at the time we entered the industrial age. It is 
absurd to suppose that intellectual leadership will be permanently 
left behind in an industrial civilization which is itself, in its 
various elements, a product of intelligence. The time must come> 
when educators, instead of trying meekly to meet any de 
mand the public may make upon them, will have something to say 
on their own account. And instead of giving all their attention 
to social service, pedagogical methods, and administration detail 
will again approach their task in a philosophical spirit. Many 
people now see the need, not of some new educational trick, but 
of a well-considered philosophy of education. I am thinking of 
the ancient Greeks who also felt the need. Perhaps we of the 
Western World are just beginning to be civilized. 


SO FAR as literature is concerned the machine age began with 
the invention of printing in the fifteenth century. Before 
that time all the forms of literattire were limited to more 
or less special audiences. What the orator had to say -seldom 
reached beyond the ears of those persons who were within range 
of his rostrum or his pulpit. The poet or historian or man of 
science might write books, but the cost of making copies of them 
by hand kept the number of even the most popular books down 
to what now seems relatively negligible. Even the dramatist, 
though his work might be both heard and read, had nothing to 
compare with what has come to be known as a general public. 
And the journalist, whose work in its various aspects has done 
more to condition modern -literature than any other of its forms* 
may be said to owe his very existence to the printing press. 

In the twentieth century, of course, it is no longer possible to 
look upon the invention of printing as the last great step taken 
to enlarge the audiences which men of letters may expect to reach. 
There are other steps beside which the mere printing of a writer s 
words seems to belong to an old fashion. If George Bernard Shaw, 
for instance, sends a witty letter to a London evening newspaper, 
his words may be cabled to the United States and may appear the 
next morning in other papers of which millions of copies have 
been printed. The telegraph thus extends the uses of the print 
ing press. A still more recent invention, the radio, partly supple 
ments and partly supersedes them. How these different machines 



can be united in a single purpose would lately have been shown if 
a certain plan, never thinkable before the present century, had 
been carried out. That plan was to entice Shaw to New York 
Harbor, to show respect for his prejudice against the United States 
by not asking him to leave the ship in which he had crossed the 
Atlantic, to install the necessary apparatus on board, and to al 
low him to speak his mind through the air to as many Americans 
as might have radios and care to listen* This, it was argued, would 
have given him the largest audience ever addressed by any man 
of letters. 

Socrates might have had to content himself with a few inquiring , 
citizens in the Agora, and Cicero with those Senators who wouli 
find time to leave the routine of their committees, and Abelard 
with the students who could make their way to him from the parts 
of Europe to which his fame had traveled. But the comic drama 
tist of the machine age, only incidentally an orator, could without 
effort or delay have had an audience of millions. Machines would 
have brought him across the ocean, would have informed a con 
tinent as to the precise hour at which he was to speak, and 
would have conveyed his very accents to the ears of his listeners, 
sitting at home almost as peacefully as if literature had never been 
devised to carry human speech farther than the unaided human 
voice could send it. Not in a thousand years did Socrates address 
himself to as many minds as Shaw could have addressed while his 
voice was still sounding. 

Let it be at once admitted that mere numbers do not make an 
important audience, nor does an audience, important or unimpor 
tant, by itself make an art. Nevertheless, the literature of the 
machine age cannot be studied without reference to the machines 
which have led to the creation of new literary functions and the 
development of new forms. These functions and forms may have 
been imposed from without. They may be shown to have had 
little or no effect upon the essential processes of the creative ar 
tist. Poetry is still poetry, drama is still drama, story-telling is 
still story-telling, persuasion is still persuasion, logical argument 
is still logical argument. The principal themes of the earliest 
writers continue to be, with but few outward differences, the prin- 


cipal themes of the latest writers. But the part played by litera 
ture in civilization at large has steadily changed ever since print 
ing was invented, and it goes on changing with each mechanical 
device which serves to bring writer and reader into closer and 
more immediate relationship. 

Possibly the radio, bringing the voice of the speaker to the 
ear of the listener, may be held to have no connection with liter 
ature, because nothing has been written. But suppose another 
case. Suppose there were in New York a poet as characteristic 
and as eminent among the poets of the city as Villon was of Paris. 
Villon read his ballads and testaments to his companions in this 
t or that tavern, and allowed manuscript copies to be made. Not 
till after his banishment, and in all likelihood after his death, 
were they printed. Consequently the audience most fitted to 
enjoy him, to recognize his topical allusions as well as to enjoy 
his art and wit, had but few chances to know of him until he 
was already a legend. A Villon of New York, however, might 
read his poems over the radio, might make records of them for the 
gramaphone, and might thereby give a special delight to innumer 
able hearers. It is by no means certain that he would. Such an 
outlet is ordinarily given only to work in which music has a 
part. But there are the machines which in a few days might 
spread such a vogue for a poem as is now spread for a song. 
That the vogue, as vogue, would yield the next month to an 
other, does not matter. In the long run, naturally, the poem 
would have to take its due course among the perils of oblivion. 
Yet the machines would have added to its career, during its month 
in court, something that the poems of the actual Villon did not 
have. And literature would have done something to the ma 
chine age which literature was not able to do to the fifteenth 

The tavern reading of the actual Villon of Paris and the radio 
appearance of the imaginary Villon of New York mark the ex 
treme limits of the change brought about by the machine age. 
The intermediate steps, which must be traced, have been most 
of them taken by the printing press. Viewed strictly, this has 
meant nothing beyond the rapid multiplying of the number of 


copies of any book which might be given to the world. That mul 
tiplying, however, has meant many other things. So long as 
books remained as expensive as they were when they had to be 
copied out by hand, they were necessarily available to few persons, 
and only a few persons took the trouble to learn to read. But as 
books became more readily available they stimulated the desire 
which they were produced to satisfy, precisely as does any other 
commodity when introduced to a new market. Because there 
were more books there were more readers, and because there were 
more readers there were more books. By ioo the better part of 
the literature of ancient and medixval Europe had found its way 
into print. By 1700 there were few contemporary writers of 
merit, in Europe or the Americas, who had to remain long in man 
uscript, By 1800 journalism had passed through its preliminary 
stages and was entering into competition with the more artful 
forms of writing. By 1900, after a century of enormous expan 
sion, printing had become one of the major industries, and litera 
ture had been elaborated and subdivided and extended until what 
had once been called by that name seemed now but a more or 
less permanent island in the midst of an unquestionably ephemeral 
sea of printed words. Since 1900 there has been evident a tend 
ency to move, in several of the forms of literature, beyond print 
ing: in oratory, with the radio; in drama, with the moving picture; 
an journalism, with the illustrated newspaper. Dark prophets, 
here and there, insist that literature is near its end and that the 
future will drift into illiteracy as the past struggled out of it. 

For the present it is enough to study what the machine age has 
actually done for literature. Most of all it has brought about, 
as in other forms of activity, such a division of labor and such a 
specialization that something very like a system of castes has 
arisen. For example, literature and journalism are often spoken 
of as distinct, if not antagonistic. Oratory has almost ceased to 
be classed with literature, as have all of science and a good deal of 
history. Moreover, the spoken drama has drawn a little to one 
side, and the moving picture contentedly inhabits another sphere. 
Even the bulk of verse and prose fiction not too resentfully ac 
cepts a sub-literary rank. The term literature, in a world in 


which nearly everybody is literate, is as a rule held to apply, not to 
whatever is written to be read, but only to what is written in 
certain ways for the benefit of those who will read it in certain 
ways. Nor does this suggest a mere technical status, like that of 
a Roman citizen among non-citizens. It springs from the fact 
that all the conceivable facilities for making writers known do 
not, apparently, increase the number of those who are gifted. 
The ratio of genius to population remains much the same. Litera 
ture, in the special sense, goes on being produced as rarely as 
ever. But so great a demand has been created that it is supplied, 
and often no doubt satisfied, with inferior productions. And 
when these sub-literary or extra-literary productions are not pre 
cisely inferior, for the reason that they do their special tasks as 
well as could be expected, they are nevertheless thoroughly sub 
ordinate to literary masterpieces. The literature of the machine 
age, dividing its labor and growing more and more specialized, has 
distinguished itself from the literature of previous ages by adding 
to itself what it does not, in its exacter moments, consider to be 
literature at all. 

Conditions might have been different if the printing presses 
had confined themselves to masterpieces issued by the million, but 
there have always been obstacles to such a program. Publishers, 
for one thing, do not invariably know masterpieces when they see 
them* Furthermore, there has steadily been a demand, beyond the 
strength of publishers or writers to resist, for written matter which 
would serve various purposes not served by the classics. Easy in 
struction, entertainment, news these have been the demands most 
frequently insisted upon. These demands, indeed, are not peculiar 
to the machine age. They are perf ectly tinivenaL Before writ 
ing was invented, no less than between that and the invention of 
printing, men were eager for easy instruction, entertainment, news. 
And it is not to be wondered at that the machine age, able to 
meet the demand as no previous age was ever able to do, has given 
over its printing presses so largely to manuals of information, 
prose fiction, and newspapers. A Babylonian shepherd might con 
sult a soothsayer about a disease wHch had harmed his flock, might 
listen to a legendary tale at the camp-fire, and might ask a travel- 


ing merchant what had recently happened in the capital. An 
American farmer reads a government bulletin, a novel, and a news 
paper, and obtains the same satisfactions. Printing makes the 
only difference. 

The familiar temptation, customarily yielded to, is to brush 
aside all the inferior or subordinate aspects of literature and to 
consider, in serious discussions, only that literature which is pro 
duced with deliberate art for what it is hoped will be eternity. A 
discussion of the sort, however, is not broad enough to take into 
account all the theoretical elements involved. After all, litera 
ture is whatever is written to be read, a device to carry human 
speech farther than the unaided human voice can send it. Nor 
is such a discussion, practically, altogether precise. Between per 
manent masterpieces and temporary ventures it is not always pos 
sible to draw a line which will unmistakably distinguish them. 
Moreover^ they may stand in some respects so close together that 
neither can be estimated by itself. Don Quixote was created as 
a parody on innumerable gentlemen whose chroniclers, too much 
attached to a passing fashion even to notice that their heroes were 
mad, wrote, in that fashion, books which would be entirely for 
gotten except that they must be vaguely remembered in any ex 
planation of the book which smiled at them and which outlasts 
them. Robinson Crusoe may have been created for what literary 
historians call eternity, but he too emerged from a fashion which 
at the time ran to lost travelers and shipwrecked sailors and which 
led to the production of many books now investigated only by 
the curious. Nor can it be said with assurance that Cervantes 
and Defoe undertook deliberately to add art and permanence to 
models which they saw lacked these qualities. Being writers of 
genius, they went beyond their models; yet without these models 
they would not have written these masterpieces; and they may 
even have been unaware that they were doing what their com 
petitors could not do. Posterity has decided, in these as in all 
instances, which books to keep alive and which to let die, but 
the making of literature continues to be a general process, to be 
understood only if the failures are thought of along with the suc 


The influence of the printing press upon the matter printed ap 
pears nowhere more clearly than in connection with the novel, 
which in the machine age is the outstanding literary form. With 
out the printing press, indeed, the novel would hardly exist at 
all, and certainly not on the scale on which it exists now. Though 
the form itself had been invented long before printing came 
to its aid, it could never have prospered as it has if it had been 
obliged to depend upon the slow labors of men copying novels 
by hand. Even with printing to depend upon, the novel had to 
wait for more than three hundred years to reach its maturity. It 
might be, as it is, the most easy, natural, flexible, and varied of 
the forms of literature, but it could not exhibit or perhaps dis 
cover all its qualities until there was a body of readers large 
enough to offer it progressive encouragement. The printing press 
had developed such a public. The antagonism which the novel 
aroused in several quarters was symptomatic. The novel was, its 
enemies declared, nothing better than entertainment. They thus 
implied that reading ought to be confined to what was clearly 
useful or edifying. They could not so confine it. Men and 
women who had learned to read for use went on to read for pleas 
ure. Grown accustomed to books, they did not need to take 
them solemnly, but could regard them as entertainment, as mere 
pastime. There followed an immense increase in the demand for 
novels, and consequently in the supply. During the nineteenth 
century the novel left all the other forms behind. It drew into 
itself the chief function of the narrative poem, because prose is 
easier to read than verse. It did more than a little damage to 
the drama, because it is easier to send a thousand miles for a book 
than it is to go a dozen miles to see a play. The novel became a 
school of manners, a forum of debate, a picture of history, and 
a pocket theater. It brought imaginative literature closer to 
more people than any other species of writing had ever done. It 
is, in literature, a triumph of the machine. 

Whatever may be said of the novel may be said still more em 
phatically of the newspaper, which without the printing press 
could not be imagined. Though the hunger for news is age-old, 
it took the newspaper to make clear how great the hunger is and 


how much news there is. "Whether the news makes the news- 
paper or the newspaper makes the news is a nice point which 
need not be decided. Plainly, however, the greater part of what 
is printed is trivial* The whole world does not produce enough 
important events in a single day to fill a newspaper. But the 
machines which have been invented and developed to play their 
indispensable part in the gathering, transmitting, printing, and 
distributing o news axe not lightly to be kept idle. They go 
on like the changes of day and night. No matter how trivial 
tteir news may be, it must be abundant* And indeed a news 
paper with hundreds of thousands, or millions, of readers can 
hardly find an item of information whkh some one will not wel 
come. Because so many readers are to be served, the sheer bulk 
of a twentieth-century newspaper, particularly in the United 
States, is enormous* And because all this is intended to last for 
only a single day, everything is arranged and written for the bene 
fit of those who may want to read with a hurried, glancing eye. 
Quickly written, quickly read, quickly forgotten. Machines have 
made newspapers possible; machines set the pace for them and de- 
temiine their qualities* And though the machines actually start 
and stop under human guidance, they themselves seem to be cre 
ators. Or rather, the element of creation is lost sight of. The 
style throughout a newspaper is as uniform, or nearly so, as the 
typography. Special writers sign their names in order to lay 
claim to whatever touches of personality may have crept in among 
the even columns. The general aim of the newspaper is a vast im 
personality, mirroring the world day by day. Often the men who 
direct the machines are less impersonal than irresponsible, but 
somehow it has come about that the machine age has a mirror in 
words which nothing in any other age can match. It may be 
doubted whether all the surviving literature of Athens furnishes 
a picture of Greek life as complete as the picture of American 
life which is furnished by a single issue of a New York Sunday 

The drama, a literary form much older than the novel or the 
newspaper, has fallen no less than they into the multiplying hands 
of the machines. To say nothing of Greek or Latin plays, the 


plays of Shakespeare and Moliere, early in the machine age, were 
produced by hand as truly as they were written by hand* Not 
till the nineteenth century did the theater discover and employ 
the methods of lighting, of changing scenery, of raising and 
lowering curtains which have turned the stage into an intricate 
machine in the midst of which the play itself is sometimes displayed 
with a fresh brilliance of effect, and is sometimes lost. It might 
be possible ingeniously to point out various effects which the 
mechanized theater has had upon the drama, in the way of short 
ening the action, limiting the scene, sharpening the exits and en 
trances; but these are not strikingly important. Plays have re 
mained plays and actors have remained actors. Shaw, after all, 
is more like Euripides than Tolstoi is like Homer. The conspicu 
ous novelty in the drama of the machine age is the moving pic 
ture. What the printing press was to the book the camera has 
been to the drama. It has multiplied copies of it. A play when 
acted can reach only one audience at one performance. A play 
when photographed can then be presented to as many audiences 
as there are copies of the film. "Within a few weeks after a mov 
ing picture is released it may have been shown throughout the 
world. Language is no barrier, because pantomime is a universal 
language. Charlie Chaplin might never leave his California studio 
and yet be, as he is, the most widely-known human being now 
alive. The moving picture is perhaps the form of literary art 
most completely characteristic of the machine age, and it is the 
form which is, on the whole, most dependent upon machines. 
In it may be seen the full extent to which machines can liberate 
an art and the full extent to which they narrow it. By means of 
the camera the drama has been set free to choose any spot on 
earth for its scene. The top of a mountain, a ship at sea, the 
interior of a factory, an airplane at high altitude, a city street, the 
middle of a desert: these things not merely painted on a swaying 
curtain at .the back of the stage, but really present in the picture. 
The action may be larger than any stage in a theater could ever 
find room for, more dangerous, more exciting, more picturesque, 
more realistic. Since the photographs are made in private, with 
time for endless repetition and correction, nothing reaches the 


public except the best performance ever given, and that exactly 
repeated on every film. On the other hand, the moving picture, 
aiming always at the eyes of so many millions, notoriously prefers 
being below the few to being above the many. As a rule its 
plots are conventional, its characters stereotyped, its sentiments 
banal. Machines can photograph better than they can think. 

It may be thought that emphasis is here unduly laid upon the lit 
erature, and sub-literature, of the present century, to the neglect 
of what lies between this and the century in which printing was 
invented. The answer is that printing had little effect upon the 
place of literature in western civilization until it had helped bring 
into existence a large literate public. Reading had to be made 
a normal habit of mankind, as common as, say, the wearing of 
shoes. Until that was accomplished, printing was chiefly a con 
venience for the learned. After literacy ceased to mean the same 
as learning, the changes were very rapid. And they are still go 
ing on. Tides of printing sweep over and through the world. 
Rumor never sped as fast or as far. The information, news, and 
entertainment which once had to make their way slowly by 
word of mouth may now reach millions of readers in a single 
day. The result has been to accelerate and to extend all the in 
fluences brought about by the spread of ideas and emotions. A 
continent can be roused as quickly as could an ancient city. A 
hero can be made over-night, a movement started in a week, a 
crusade got on its way in a month or so. So can divisions be en 
gineered and hostile parties founded. And the most trivial forms 
of entertainment may be borne in all directions on the same swift 
tides. With the radio, the moving picture, and the newspaper, 
western civilization may be represented as a man sitting in a 
whispering-gallery, watching a play, and holding on his lap a book 
of which the pages continually turn of their own accord. 

So much for what literature has done to civilization. But 
what has civilization, in the course of the process, done to litera 
ture? On this point the various schools of taste are bound to 
disagree. For once, however, it ought to be possible to look be 
yond them beyond either the school which holds that literature 
has been debased from something high and noble or the school 


which holds that literature has been, rescued from something 
haughty and difficult. Neither argument covers the whole 
ground. Most of what has happened is that a great deal which 
formerly was only spoken and then allowed to die on the wind 
has come to be put into type. Though it may seem less temporary 
than random speech, it is not much less so. It should be taken into 
account not for itself but for the influence which it exerts upon 
the literature which is produced with deliberate art for what it is 
hoped will be eternity. That sort of literature remains, age after 
age, surprisingly the same. Perhaps there ought to be no occa 
sion for surprise in this fact. The stature of men is still much 
what it was when it first occurred to their ancestors that writing, 
as well as serving a use, might also be an art; so are their intel 
lects and passions, their sense of tragedy and comedy, their modes 
of eloquence, their supply of images, their rules of discourse. 
Great writers occur, as if by accident, where and when they occur, 
and their native gifts vary from individual to individual, not from 
century to century. 

The machine age has done little to writers of genius, but even 
to them, and certainly to writers as a whole, it has given an im 
pulse to productivity which did not exist before printing came 
into vogue. "When machines wait, men hurry. Or, to express it 
in less pictorial terms, the knowledge that an audience is readily 
accessible, and may be eager, has a strong tendency to stimulate 
the literary mood, especially when a writer s living depends upon 
it. "Whereas in the manuscript age a good many writers, conscious 
of only a small, like-minded audience and hopeful of profit only 
from some patron, might work for years on a single masterpiece, 
in the printing age a good many more writers keep frequent ap 
pointments with their audiences and leave a miscellaneous bulk 
of writings to be remembered by. Somewhere in almost every 
thing now written there is a sense of the audience. But that 
sense of an audience shows itself in more ways than has ordinarily 
been noted. It may lead to simplicity of language, to the avoid 
ance of controverted themes, to the repetition of literary devices 
so often tried that they can be certain of effect, to a concession to 
vulgar prejudices. A writer whose audience has been brought 


close to him may fall into such sympathy with it tKat he loses him 
self in its mass, and thereby loses distinction. But there is an 
other consequence of such proximity. That is a kind of fear 
of the vast, uncritical, undiscriminating body of readers whom 
every writer has to face. The fear is essentially modern. A 
Greek or Roman might, as a citizen, dread the mob; as a writer, 
however, he did not dread it, because it could not read. The 
modern mob docs read. Doubtless ths writers who are afraid 
of it, grow self-conscious about it, suspect those writers who 
cam please it, and in their own work turn away to intricate, eccen 
tric modes, are in no great danger. The reading mob travels along 
straight lines. But the fear obviously exists, generally disguised 
under the pretense often, it may be, the self-delusion of inde 
pendence and contempt. From this comes the presence in moilem 
literature of numerous figures who* voluntarily, even violently, 
reject the special advantages which the machine age has to offer 
them. They will not live by it, aiidt can hardly bear to Hve in it. 
They furnish one member of the antithesis in which the effect 
f the machine age upon literature may be summed up: It has 
drawn author and audience closer together, it has. driven author 
and audience farther apart. 

In some future century, when the effect of the machine age 
upon literature shall have become history and shall not stall, as at 
present, remain a debatable item of speculation, historians may 
well wonder at what they will presumably regard as the thankless- 
ness of writers toward the machines which served them. For it 
cannot be denied that the common attitude of men of letters 
toward machines is that of resentment toward a new and ominous 
dynasty. Among the writers f inferior novels, newspapers, and 
scenarios this attitude does not appear, but they, being sub-literary, 
have not formulated their gratitude and so* have not strikingly 
influenced opinion. The writers of a prouder rank for a hundred 
years have steadily complained of the machines which, brought 
in to serve as slaves, have turned into masters. This mechanical 
dynasty, the complaint runs, has shaped mankind to mechanical 
patterns, has dimmed its natural colors, has forced the intricate 
dance of life into ,a dull march in a single direction. There were 


freedom and grace tinder the old regime, they say; there can be 
no such things under a regime which thinks in geometrical designs 
and which feels as with instruments of precision. Such writers 
seem like royalist poets in a republic, still longing for die good old 
days of the monarchy and drinking toasts to tike king over the 
water. Negligent, even scornful, of the benefits which have 
came to them, they go on polishing up their loyalty and elaborat 
ing their memories. Literature lags while life moves forward. 

The phenomenon, however, is by no means peculiar to the pres 
ent age. The human imagination, which exists in men at large but 
which finds words 1*1 men of letters, has always been slow to grasp 
its new materials. There must have been a time when the trireme 
to a Roman poet seemed a hulking craft, without charm. But 
one by one the trimne and the viking longboat and die galleon 
and the clipper ship were absorbed into the imagination and took 
a place thane. Metaphors were fitted to them. Romance was 
built up aimind them. No longer merely timbers and sails, they 
became homogeneous to the mind and could there easily find har 
bor and sea room. Exactly the same process is now at work upon 
die ocean Hner, diough it has not yet gone far enough to make 
men generally aware of it. Men generally, perhaps, but not the 
poets. And until the poets haye found die words, it is difficult to 
say whedier the thoughts behind those words at?e actually in ex 
istence. Thoughts without words are vague and shaggy. A boy 
watching a liner put out fo sea may be visited by an ache like that 
which has sent thousands of other boys tx> venture on salt water. 
A novelist, trying to define that ache, slips into conf won because 
he inherits an ardbaic vocabulary of towering masts and creaking 
cordage, tarry trousers and inarlin-spikes^ when fee should be writ 
ing about propellers and oil-burning engines, radio antennae and 
gyroscopic compasses. Nor does the confusion lie wholly in the 
writer. The reader, too, inherits the archaic vocabulary. Poetry 
and fiction seem to him to be associated with the objects with 
wbich lie has offceia seen titera associated, for in literature, familiar 
ity breeds anything but contempt. It is more likely to breed 
glamor. Towering masts are glamorous becatjse they have been 
made so; radio antennae are not, becatise they have not been* 


Neither the writer nor the reader does justice to the impulse in the 
boy. The liner is still too large and complex, too glittering and 
novel, to have been absorbed into the human imagination. 

So with all the machines of which the liner is a convenient ex 
ample. However much they may be used, however customary 
they may have become in daily life, men still walk warily among 
them. The imagination can far more readily throw a glamor 
around the figure of a medieval scribe illuminating a manuscript 
by a dim candle than around a twentieth-century printing press 
performing its tasks with punctual ingenuity in a thunder of noise 
and a blaze of light. What poet has celebrated the modern print 
ing press as Whitman celebrated the broad-axe? Is it to be con 
cluded, as it is often said, that the brain with its tender cells can 
not master, for the purposes of imagination, the complicated, 
powerful, irresistible machines which give a special character to the 
industrial age? Must the human imagination, that is to say,? 
forever remain agricultural? It is too early to decide. Nor has 
the recent cult of the machine, which has won followers in every 
art, done much to bring about any notable change. The imagina 
tion does not take a step because the will has commanded it to. 
It appears rather to evolve in accordance with the laws, not yet 
discovered, of a growth which is virtually organic. Centuries 
may have to pass before machines can fall into their due place, 
whatever it turns out to be, among human circumstances. And 
then, it is safe to prophesy, they will not be, as the cult of the 
machine would like them to be, the direct objects of literary scru 
tiny, but something which, like weather and landscape, can be 
taken for granted. Then only will the imagination be free to turn 
naturally to its perennial subjects for literature, making merely 
such use of the machines as this or that subject may call for. 

For, machines or no machines, the functions of literature will 
be the same. To store up knowledge and transmit it to other 
places and other times; to catch sight of some kind of order in the 
chaos of appearances and to represent that order in forms so con 
crete that they suggest reality even to those for whom reality 
itself is chaos; to create characters of such validity and substance 
that they become inhabitants of the world like the creatures of 


genuine flesh and blood; to pluck drifting thoughts and swirling 
emotions out of the stream of consciousness and to fix them, as 
precisely as possible, to the words which alone can give them 
outlines: these are the functions which literature seeks to perform 
in all ages. It can be nothing but the representation in words of 
experience endured or experience desired or experience feared. 
But these are everywhere intrinsically the same. Men endure 
birth and growth and labor and grief and death. They desire 
food and fortune, love and joy, adventure and peace. They fear 
loneliness and poverty and frustration, accident and torment, pre 
mature annihilation or life drawn out too long. The special or 
local conditions in which they live, and in which books represent 
their lives, are merely an idiom, merely a setting of the stage. One 
of the most effective writers of melodrama now living has pointed 
out that of all his hundred plays there is not one that does more 
than play some variation upon the story of Cinderella or of the 
Prodigal Son. And less conventional writers find it difficult to 
escape from fairly conventional themes, not because more unusual 
themes cannot be invented but because the important human ex 
periences fall into simple patterns. In only one essential respect 
does modern literature differ from the various older literatures: 
in the variety of minor personages, often with special, even trivial 
experiences, who are admitted into the imagined world of books. 
This difference, of course, has been brought about by machines. 
By multiplying books, they have multiplied readers; by multiply 
ing readers, they have multiplied the number of persons desirous 
of seeing experiences like their own mirrored in literature; and by 
multiplying this demand, they have caused the supply to be multi 
plied. The enormous banality of many popular novelists is a 
result of the development which, no less logically, has also resulted 
in the enormous subtlety of James Joyce and Marcel Proust. 

Perhaps the final sense, after a survey of the literature of the 
machine age, is a sense of waste. Innumerable printed pages flut 
ter in the wind. Libraries of unopened volumes lie like h^aps 
of slag. Myths, with the help of journalism, spring up almost 
over night, so that a few weeks can do for Lindbergh what it took 
centuries to do for Galahad. And if various literary processes 


have been accelerated, so have the processes of oblivion. It seems 
necessary to borrow a term from the language of industrialism 
and to say that the turn-over in literature has reached a point with 
out precedent m. literary history. Yet this hardly justifies the 
consternation which it often rouses in timid spirits. It h another 
condition of the machine age, like the use Q railroad trains in- 
st^ad of stage-coaches. Men have accustomed themselves to walk 
ing in crowded streets continually in danger from motor cars 
almost as swift as missiles, and more deadly. So must readers of 
taste accustom themselves to moving with security among the 
rush of books, unconcerned by the mass of traffic, their intent fixed 
upon their particular goals. For there still are masterpieces, as 
safe in a crowd as in a desert. 


FOM this appraisal of modern civilization what gramd 
iusiojis emerge? 
First: Science and the machine have changed the lace 
of the easTth, the ways of men and women on it,, and mr k&ewt~ 
edge of nature and mankind. They break down barriers tefete 
us and thrust us* out into infinity. Not even the Living, BucUba 
escapes their impact, for ships, railways* motors, amd airplanes 
carry visitors to disturb the calm of his contemplation. If St. 
Peter s chair is still planted on a rock> the f ock itself has unwed; 
by no possible stretch of the imagination could the SyUairt 
Errors be written now in the terms of 1864. Even pure Idofes, 
who disdain all reference to reality, must give feed when they 
breathe and stir. It might be even respectfully suggested that 
Kant could not write to-day without making reference to the 
discoveries in physics, chemistry, biology, and psychology whklt 
have been made during the past hundred years. If the categori 
cal imperative still stands unimpeached > the execution of ks 
commands must reckon with the bewildering variety of choices 
offered by that revolving kaleidoscope called modern scKiety. 
While adherents of ancient creeds may continue to recite in 
unison the words of their professions* they differ violently aMg 
themselves with respect to applications, thus becoming assimi 
lated in practical affairs to pagans and unbelievers. Old rules 
of politics and law, religion and sex, art and letters the whole 
domain of culture must yield or break before the inexorable 



pressure of science and the machine. Women, perhaps even more 
than men, find it difficult to steer by ancient headlands. Accus 
tomed by long necessity to functions that conserve life, they 
suddenly discover that the modes of conservation are multiplied 
by science and the machine into endless complexity. They too 
confront the peril of taking thought. 

Secondly: Through the preceding chapters, with varying em 
phasis, runs another theme, namely, that by understanding more 
clearly the processes of science and the machine mankind may 
subject the scattered and perplexing things of this world to a 
more ordered dominion of the spirit. This is the paradox of 
the symposium. Nowhere in these pages is there a signal for 
surrender or retreat. The effects of science and the machine upon 
human life are often metallic and oppressive, sometimes terribly 
cruel to our hopes and conceits; but in dealing with these engines 
of modern thought and work, our authors consider quality as 
well as quantity development, ends, and values as well as num 
bers. They are not oblivious to the evils of the modern order, 
but they do not concede that any other system, could it be freely 
chosen in place of machine civilization, would confer more 
dignity upon human nature, make life on the whole richer in sat 
isfactions, widen the opportunity for exercising our noblest fac 
ulties, or give a sublimer meaning to the universe in which we 
labor. On the contrary. "With some skepticism (perhaps not 
more disheartening than could be found in many a Jesuit Semi 
nary) they express a belief that there is in the new order of af 
fairs a prospect for life on higher levels, more emancipated from 
vain imaginings and conquerable sufferings, freer to make flights 
into the realm of the imagination, and, at all events, devoted to 
better uses than lamentation and propitiation. 

In attempting to evaluate modern civilization and understand its 
drift, our authors do not arrange themselves on the side of the 
Materialist in his ancient battle with the Idealist. If those ac 
customed to taking refuge in occultism discover little consolation 
in these pages, the materialist of the old school, who reduces all 
things to terms of matter, organization, and motion, will find 
little aid and comfort in any of the arguments here presented. 


Indeed the Chinese philosppher, Dr. Hu Shih, insists on reversing 
the tables; instead of admitting that modern civilization is ma 
terialistic as compared with the heritage of antiquity still sur 
viving, especially in the Orient, he flatly declares that it is the 
machine age which rightly deserves the appellation "spiritual." 
He knows the East and the West, their languages, institutions, 
philosophies, and practices. 

As he goes about in the Far East, seeing sickness that elemen 
tary medicine could cure or prevent, starvation due to defective 
transportation, and appalling poverty near undeveloped resources, 
Dr. Hu Shih cannot look with amused indifference on well-fed 
persons gathered in comfortable drawing-rooms to deplore the 
materialism and black despair of science and the machine. Far 
from it. Instead of conceding that they may have some right 
reason on their side, he boldly denies the correctness of their terms, 
demonstrates the shallowness of the old antithesis between matter 
and spirit, turns the customary conceptions of the East and the 
West upside down, and comes out with the firm conclusion that 
inventors, scientists, and producers of goods deserve the blessings 
of mankind as spiritual leaders, while the mumblers of mystic 
formulas are to be set down as the slaves of circumstance, them 
selves fundamentally materialist in their surrender to starvation, 
misery, and darkness, called fate. Naturally this will be shock 
ing, particularly to those Westerners who, pained by the hard 
ness of the machine and baffled by the inconclusiveness of science, 
seek refuge in one or more of the two or three hundred varieties 
of religious exercise given to the world by the fruitful Orient. 

It is clear from these pages that modern scientists, in spite of 
the doubts and uncertainties which assail them, are not willing 
to be made partisans of materialism in an ancient theological 
battle concerning the ultimate constitution of the universe. The 
very idea of subjecting the scattered and perplexing things of 
this world to a more ordered dominion is itself born of the spirit, 
marks mankind off from animals and inanimate nature, and re 
quires for its realization the practice of the grand virtues usually 
ascribed to religion. 

Indeed, effort to reduce the confusion of the modern age to 


of control, whether in matters of business, labor, health, 
family life, economy, the arts, government, or international re- 
litioas, is no mere excursion in mechanics, no mere question of 

arranging material objects. It involves habits, customs, morals, 
and the appreciation of values. It requires all the services which 
psychology can render. It functions not only through regimenta 
tion, but also through individual understanding and co-operation. 
JM, becoming parts of a greater organism, men and women do 
shrink either in the range of their knowledge or the sweep 
of their imagination. Never before was there a larger oppor 
tunity foe the exercise of their creative faculties, a more urgent 
aeed for intelligent leadership, or a wider variety of choices in 
enterprise. The transformation of chaos into order is a work of 
the miad, not a mere function of mechanism. 
The f*rce$s of subjecting the things of this world to a more 
dominion of the spirit, here revealed as an outstanding 
of the modem age, makes short work of the doc 
trine of anarchy-plus-tiie-"police-cx)nsiable celebrated in the writ 
ings of Herbert Spencer. Nowhere in these pages is there a 
display of faith in the unlimited beneficence of "the acquisitive 
kastkict" let loose among machines and test tubes. Business en 
terprise discloses co-operative effort on every hand. Even finance 
i* International. "We are passing/ 5 declares Mr. Herbert Hoover, 
te f rooi a period of extremely individualistic action into a period of 
associated activities/* 

Tie tendencies revealed in business are also found in govern 
ment. There has been a reaction in Europe against state social 
ism, but nevertheless it appears that "the field of government 
and operation will slowly widen." This wiH come about 
gradually as a necessity of the machine system, as a part of the 
process of introducing order into industrial economy. Economic 
regions to which government ownership does not extend will be 
invaded by regulation, and that regulation will be administrative 
ratter than judicial. Laws will multiply rather than diminish. 
"Wlifire courts of the state fail in speed and justice, courts of 
private conciliation will supplement the tribunals of government. 
The establishment of collective interests functioning through the 


state, instead of reducing always the freedom of the 
often enlarges it by placing oa his side the services of a 
Government, a clumsy and frequently a tyrannical agency,, but 

still one very useful in holding at bay the powerful private aissoek- 
tions which flourish in our civilization. 

The great schemes of modern society for raising the standards 
of those who work for wages under the hazards of acciJeat ad 
poverty rest on collective foundations, public, private, and san- 
public. Their existence is a fact, standing four-square m law, 
custom, and organization. However they may be cuiftaiect car 
extended in the future, the wheel of time will not turn back 
to the epoch of Manchesterisim. The dominant issues of tbe mod 
ern age are, in this respect, matters of means in detail, wfc * 
high policy. The debates over the ten hours bill in Enj^aad sound 
like echoes from a forgotten age. 

Even in the arts, intensely individualistic as they sometimes 
seem to be,, collectivism has a significant role to play in the pf ec- 
ess of subordinating machinery to ideals of beauty. Especially d 
the grandest projects of technology bridges, factories, and office 
buildings which in these later days are coming tinder the cbtti*- 
ion of artists, require for their fulfilment and flowering the de 
velopment of city and regional planning* Indeed the movement 
is well under weigh with enormous practkal interests feeMiMt k. 
It gathers momentum. It extends beyond narrow city 
to regions, beyond regions to the countryside, promising t0 trans 
form the hideous aggregations of the machine city into efficient 
unities of use and beauty. Of course, no one can be sure erf the 
future; wars and the psychology of patent-iBedkine salesmen maj 
yet spoil the picture, but there is no inherent necessity m folly. 
The spirit of intelligent control is here; it has a fighting chance 
to prevail. 

Associated enterprise leaps beyond national boundaries* In 
numerable international organizations^ economic, scientific, and 
cultural, afford signs of a transition. If the devastations of war 
are to be prevented, threatening a dissolution of modern civiliza 
tion as a fruit of the science and tke machine which created it, 
then nations must associate themselves in understandings and 


state, instead of reducing always the freedom of the 
often enlarges it by placing oa his side the services of a 
Government, a clumsy and frequently a tyrannical agency* but 
still one very useful in holding at bay the powerful private aissoeia- 
tions which flourish in our civilization, 

The great schemes of modern society for raising the staiiclards 
of those who work for wages under the hazards of acciffeet ad 
poverty rest on collective foundations, public, private, and san- 
public. Their existence is a fact, standing four-square m law, 
custom, and organization. However they may be cuittaieci car 
extended in the future,, the wheel of time will not turn back 
to the epoch of Manchesterism. The dominant issues of tbe 
ern age are, m this respect, matters of means in detail, Mt til 
high polky. The debates over the ten hours bill in Eaglaad sowd 
like echoes from a forgotten age. 

Even in the arts, intensely individualistic as they sometimes 
seem to be,, collectivism has a significant role to play in the pf ec- 
ess of subordinating machinery to ideals of beauty. Especially do 
the grandest projects of technology bridges, factories, and office 
buildings which in these later days are coming tinder the demmm- 
ion of artists, require for their fulfilment and flowering the de 
velopment of city and regional planning* Indeed the movement 
is well under weigh with enormous practkal interests feeMiMt k. 
It gathers momentum. It extends beyond narrow city 
to regions, beyond regions to the countryside, promising t0 trans 
form the hideous aggregations of the machine city into efficient 
unities of use and beauty. Of course, no one can be sure e the 
future; wars and the psychology of patent-iBedkine salesmen ny 
yet spoil the picture, but there is no inherent necessity m folly. 
The spirit of intelligent control is here; it has a fighting chance 
to prevail. 

Associated enterprise leaps beyond national boundaries* In 
numerable international organizations^ economic, scientific, and 
cultural, afford signs of a transition. If the devastations of war 
are to be prevented, threatening a dissolution of modern civiliza 
tion as a fruit of the science and tke machine which created it, 
then nations must associate themselves in understandings and 

101 191