Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/518

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tendency toward a rigid bureaucracy, with its moral perversion and industrial paralysis, has become painfully manifest. The centralization of the Federal Government, which set in so irresistibly with the civil war, has spread like a pest to the State and municipal governments, which wield an authority over the individual far in excess of the fears of the fathers. The same spirit has entered political parties and reduced them to powerful mechanisms almost military in perfection and despotism. It has seized upon the laboring man and capitalist, and arrayed them in bitter enmity and bloody conflict. It has reached the trades and professions, and developed in them the most odious traits of intolerance and monopoly. It has invaded social life even. There it has created a multitude of organizations with an exclusive and aggressive temper and a feudal love of pretension and show.[1] When a nation falls, like another priest of Apollo, into the strangling coils of such a system of organization, every part of which is made firm and unyielding by some law in violation of right or in concession of privilege, it has reached the limit of evolution. Immobile and unprogressive, its people, grown greedy, deceitful and barbarous,[2] lose the capacity to think or to care for themselves. The Government, also become depraved and incapable, degenerates into a huge machine to oppress and exploit. Thus a free democracy is turned into a Roman or Bourbon despotism that only a shock like an irruption of barbarians or a terrific explosion like a great revolution can awaken and rescue from the lethargy of death.

But from democracy as a condition of freedom under moral control, every achievement within the reach of human effort may be expected. Under its régime society remains fluent and mobile,

  1. and animating, furnishing aliment to high thoughts and elevating feelings, and strengthening the tie which binds every individual to the race, by making the race infinitely better worth belonging to."

  2. I refer particularly to the Colonial, Revolutionary, and Grand Army societies, and to various uniform and semi-secret orders. Referring to the recrowning of the "Queen of the Society of Holland Dames of New Netherlands," a paragraph in a daily newspaper says, "Almost royal state will be attempted, the lady riding on coronation day from her home to the Waldorf in a stately carriage drawn by six white horses, and bedecked with orange-colored ribbons and flowers." Everybody will recall the interest aroused by the exclusion from one of these societies of a descendant of Benjamin Franklin, on the ground that his relations with women had not been above reproach. For a further account of the Colonial societies, see Ladies' Home Journal, July, 1897, p. 10.
  3. Evidence of this spirit is to be found already in the various trades and professions that seek protective legislation, and also in the testimony of the tariff beggars before the Ways and Means Committee last winter. They show hardly more consideration for their victims than would a wolf for an infant it had found playing in its path. People really civilized could never have permitted the legislation that threw thousands of Welsh tin-plate makers and Austrian button makers out of employment subsequent to the enactment of the McKinley bill in 1890.