Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 31.djvu/55

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SOCIAL SUSTENANCE.

flames, the last vestiges of that which was a man. We are touching upon the epoch when history begins. Megaliths are no longer raised in Europe. They remained for a long time an unimportant memorial of barbarous populations; and it is only in our days that they have been restored to their true place in the history of art and of human progress.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from La Nature.


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SOCIAL SUSTENANCE.

GENERAL PRINCIPLES AND DEFINITIONS.

By HENRY J. PHILPOTT.

THE study of the relation of organized society to individual sustenance may, for brevity, be called the science of social sustenance. This means practically the same as the term political economy in its original significance. Economy means housekeeping or husbandry, or making a living. Political economy is housekeeping as affected by social and political conditions. The word "sustenance" means making a living, with or without a house or home, and with all that the term "living" implies when used in that way. Making a living is not merely keeping body and soul together. It is supplying all the physical, moral, and mental wants, in so far as conscious, irksome effort is required to supply them. What is a living to one man is not to another; but the man who makes his own living is always called self-sustaining. Sustenance, therefore, is the making any kind of a living.

Social sustenance is making a living as affected by social conditions. Social conditions are the conditions brought about by the existence and conduct of other people. Exactly what social sustenance means, then, is making a living as affected by the existence and conduct of other people.

The study of political economy begins the moment we try to think how our making a living is affected by other people. The infinite multitude of ways in which this happens may well discourage us. But we do not have to understand all of them, nor even know all of them. We have to classify them—rudely at first, and afterward as fully as we can. The most general classification of the ways in which others affect our ability to make a living is this: 1. They may hinder us in it. 2. They may help us in it.

So it is all a question of the help and hindrance others give us in making a living. If this division into help and hindrance seems trivial, it only seems so, for it is not. It has to be kept in mind all the way through our study. A policy which is boasted of as enabling us to increase our mutual helpfulness, as socialism, for instance, may or it may not increase our tendency to hinder each other. If we wish to reach a right conclusion we have always to ask whether the added