Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/58

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
48
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ing classes, intensified by life in India. In a letter published in the Times of May 15, 1872, the late Sir Donald McLeod writes concerning this dismissal and removal:

"All the information that reaches me tends to prove that a severe blow has been given to all chance of vigorous or independent action in future, when emergencies may arise. The whole service appears to have been astonished and appalled by the mode in which the officers have been dealt with."

That we may see clearly what amazing perversions of sentiment and idea are caused by contemplating actions from class points of view, let us turn from this feeling of sympathy with Mr. Cowan to the feeling of detestation shown by members of the same class in England toward a man who kills a fox that destroys his poultry. Here is a paragraph from a recent paper:

"Five poisoned foxes have been found in the neighborhood of Penzance, and there is consequently great indignation among the western sportsmen. A reward of £20 has been offered for information that shall lead to the conviction of the poisoner."

So that wholesale homicide, condemned alike by religion, by equity, by law, is approved, and the mildest punishment of it blamed; while vulpicide, committed in defence of property, and condemned neither by religion, nor by equity, nor by any law save that of sportsmen, excites an anger that cries aloud for positive penalties!

I need not further illustrate the more special distortions of sociological belief which result from the class-bias. They may be detected in the conversations over every table, and in the articles appearing in every party-journal or professional publication. The effects here most worthy of our attention are the general effects—the effects produced on the minds of the upper and lower classes. Let us observe how greatly the sentiments and ideas generated by their respective social positions pervert the conceptions of employers and employed. We will deal with the employed first.

 

As before shown, mere associations of ideas, especially when joined with emotions, affect our beliefs, not simply without reason, but in spite of reason, causing us, for instance, to think there is something intrinsically repugnant in a place where many painful experiences have been received, and something intrinsically charming in a scene connected with many past delights. The liability to such perversions of judgment is greatest where persons are the objects with which pleasures and pains are habitually associated. One who has often been, even unintentionally, a cause of gratification, is favorably judged; and an unfavorable judgment is apt to be formed of one who, even involuntarily, has often inflicted sufferings. Hence, where there are social antagonisms, arises the universal tendency to blame the individuals, and to hold them responsible for the system.