Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/168

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158
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

on the business of law-making with the greatest hesitation. Yet in this more than in anything else do they show a confident readiness. Kowhere is there so astounding a contrast between the difficulty of the task and the unpreparedness of those who undertake it. Surely among monstrous beliefs one of the most monstrous is that, while for a mean handicraft, such as shoe -making, a long apprenticeship is needful, the sole thing which needs no apprenticeship is making a nation's laws!

Summing up the results of the discussion, may we not reasonably say that there lie before the legislator several open secrets, which yet are so open that they ought not to remain secrets to one who under- takes the vast and terrible responsibility of dealing with millions upon millions of human beings by measures which, if they do not conduce to their happiness, will increase their miseries and accelerate their deaths?

There is first of all the undeniable truth, conspicuous and yet abso- lutely ignored, that there are no phenomena which a society presents but what have their origins in the phenomena of individual human life, which again have their roots in vital phenomena at large. And there is the inevitable implication that unless these vital phenomena, bodily and mental, are chaotic in their relations (a supposition excluded by the very maintenance of life) the resulting phenomena can not be wholly chaotic: there must be some kind of order in the phenomena which grow out of them when associated human beings have to co- operate. Evidently, then, when one who has not studied such resulting phenomena of social order undertakes to regulate society he is pretty certain to work mischiefs.

In the second place, apart from a priori reasoning, this conclusion should be forced on the legislator by comparisons of societies. It ought to be sufficiently manifest that, before meddling wdth the details of social organization, inquiry should be made whether social organiza- tion has a natural history; and that, to answer this inquiry, it would be well, setting out with the simplest societies, to see in what respects social structures agree. Such comparative sociology, pursued to a very small extent, shows a substantial uniformity of genesis. The habitual existence of chieftainship, and the establishment of chiefly authority by war; the rise everywhere of the medicine-man and priest; the presence of a cult having in all places the same fundamental traits; the traces of division of labor, early displayed, which gradually be- come more marked; and the various complications, political, ecclesi- astical, industrial, which arise as groups are compounded and recom- pounded by war—quickly prove to any who compares them that, apart from all their special differences, societies have general resemblances in their modes of origin and development. They present traits of structure showing that social organization has laws which override