Page:Democratic Ideals and Reality (1919).djvu/26

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DEMOCRATIC IDEALS AND REALITY

stagnation by the very strength of its momentum. The goodwill of a long-established and well-managed business may often be sold for a large sum in the market. Perhaps the most striking illustration of social momentum is to be seen in the immobility of markets themselves. Every seller wishes to go where buyers are in the habit of congregating in order that he may be sure of a purchaser for his wares. On the other hand, every buyer goes, if he can, to the place where sellers are wont to assemble in order that he may buy cheaply as the result of their competition. The authorities have often tried in vain to decentralise the markets of London.

In order to appreciate the other type of organiser, the Creator of social mechanism, let us again consider for a moment the common course of Revolutions. A Voltaire criticises the running concern known as French Government; a Rousseau paints the ideal of a happier society; the authors of the great Encyclopédie prove that the material bases for such a society exist. Presently the new ideas take possession of some well-meaning enthusiasts—inexperienced, however, in the difficult art of changing the habits of average mankind. They seize an opportunity for altering the structure of French society.