Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 31.djvu/134

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124
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

proves of the exemption of church property from taxation, in so far as the practice is grounded on a belief that the interests of public order will thereby be subserved."

I do not see why you should say this. There is nothing in my article to justify it. That article was written, not to discuss church exemption, but to define and illustrate socialism. Church exemption was only referred to so far as to answer the inquiry, Is it socialistic? Now, my definition of a socialistic measure—say, a legislative act—makes the motive and the objective a part of the act, equally with the positive provisions thereof; and by that definition, the exemption of church property from taxation, with a view to the promotion of good order, the reforming of vice and violence, the security of property, is not socialistic. It may be unwise; it may be monstrously foolish. On that point I had nothing to say, because I was writing on socialism. You express ,l surprise" that I should mention the argument in favor of church exemption, without denouncing it as hollow, unscientific, and a manifest begging of the question. Pardon me for suggesting that, whatever may be true of journals of art or theology, a journal maintained in the interests of science should encourage writers in sticking to their subjects, for the time being, and not going off erratically to discuss much less, to denounce views which regard matters wholly outside their chosen field of inquiry. Having decided that the measure in question was not socialistic, I had nothing more to do with it in an article on socialism.

It was perfectly competent to "The Popular Science Monthly" to reject my definition of socialism; but it should not blame me for adhering closely to that definition, when once adopted. Respectfully, yours,

Francis A. Walker.

Boston, March 18, 1887.

"We publish the above letter as a matter of simple justice to its author. It seems that we put a wrong construction on that portion of his article in the January "Scribner" dealing with the question of the non-taxation of church property. All we can say is that we gave his article a tolerably attentive reading at the time, and understood him to give at least an implied approval of the policy of non-taxation, provided only the claim made for it that it was favorable to the preservation of public order was urged in good faith. We are now asked to observe that all he said was that the policy in question—the proviso in question holding good—could not properly be described as socialistic. We accept the correction; but we think that so practiced a writer as General Walker might have guarded more effectually against misapprehension if he had tried. These were his exact words:

"The prevention of violence and crime is the proper function of the state, according to the lowest views that can be taken of it; and, if a certain amount of encouragement and assistance is extended to religious bodies genuinely in this interest, no invasion of individual initiative and enterprise can properly be complained of."

Our correspondent thinks that it would have been highly unscientific on his part to have dropped so much as a hint as to the completely unverified character of the claim supposed to be put forward on behalf of the policy referred to. It strikes us that the case is one in which Science might have sacrificed a little of its dignity for the sake of a public benefit. However that may be, we are glad to have it on record that General Walker does not commit himself in any manner, or to any extent, to the doctrine that church property ought to be exempt from taxation. It is more important and satisfactory to know this than to know that he does not regard the doctrine as a socialistic one; especially when we consider how little difference it makes, from General Walker's point of view, whether a doctrine is socialistic or not.—Editor.




EDITOR'S TABLE.


STATE EDUCATION.

WE publish elsewhere a letter calling in question the opinion expressed in these columns last month that education was properly a matter for the family rather than for the state for private enterprise rather than for governmental control. The arguments used by our correspondent have, we need hardly say, long been familiar to us; and therefore their restatement does not affect our conclusions on the question at issue. It is, however, due to our correspondent, and perhaps also to our readers, to deal briefly with some of the points raised in his letter.

He says that the alternative to state education is the "laissez-faire, or go-as--