Page:Democratic Ideals and Reality (1919).djvu/23

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11
SOCIAL MOMENTUM

tomers no less than on the regular running of the machinery in his factory; both must be kept in repair, and when in repair they have the value of the 'going concern'; but should the business stop, they have merely a break-up value—the machinery becomes so much scrap metal, and the goodwill is reduced to the book debts.

Society reposes on the fact that man is a creature of habit. By interlocking the various habits of many men, society obtains a structure which may be compared with that of a running machine. Mrs. Bouncer was able to form a simple society for the occupation of a room, because Box slept by night and Cox by day, but her society was dislocated when one of her lodgers took a holiday, and for the nonce changed his habit. Let any one try to realise what would happen to himself if all those on whom he depends—the postmen, railwaymen, butchers, bakers, printers, and very many others—were suddenly to vary their settled routines; he will then begin to appreciate in how great a degree the power of modem man over nature is due to the fact that society is a 'going concern,' or, in the language of the engineer, has momentum. Stop the running long enough to throw men's habits out of gear with one another, and