Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/136

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126
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

struggles between clans and tribes for the possession of desirable territory, or for the capture of food or slaves, or for the gratification of predatory and belligerent instincts, gave rise to the permanent chief, to the ruling hierarchy, and to all the other characteristics of a militant society. The degree of heat or humidity or the luxuriant vegetation of the tropics had no more to do with this political organization than the degree of cold, or the dryness of the atmosphere, or the comparative poverty of the soil of some of the Western States with the similar political organization of the Indians that roamed over them. None of these physical characteristics can prevent the play of those forces that drive people eventually to the adoption of that form of social organization that will best promote their happiness. As the social philosophy of evolution shows, the social organization best fitted for this purpose is the one where the largest individual freedom prevails. Since the abolition of slavery and serfdom and many other forms of despotism has been found necessary for the best interests of society in Europe, we have a right to believe that the abolition of the same forms of despotism will be found necessary for the best interests of society in the tropics.

It is true that in the tropics the white man has found it uncomfortable to work, and has often reduced the indigenes to a kind of slavery. But that either is inevitable and unavoidable because of the laws of social evolution, or any more than a temporary reversion, there is no reason for holding. Alfred Russel Wallace, who spent twelve years in the tropics, says in a recent article that the white man can and does work in every part of them. If he does not work, it is simply for the same reason that he does not work in Europe or the United States—namely, because he does not have to. When, however, necessity lays its heavy hands on him, driving him to earn his living by the sweat of his brow, he does it in the tropical region quite as well as he does in the temperate. That is shown particularly in Queensland. But when natives can be reduced to slavery the crime is committed with slight compunction, and defended on the same ground that it was defended in the South and elsewhere. The time must come, however, as it came in Brazil and in other countries where slave labor was found too wasteful and demoralizing, when it will be displaced with free labor. The time must come, too, when free institutions will be found as essential under the equator as farther north. Without them social evolution can not reach its highest point, nor man attain to his greatest happiness, a state that he is always seeking, no matter where he lives.

 


Scientific Literature.
SPECIAL BOOKS.

The famous discovery in Java, by Dubois, of the skullcap, femur, and two teeth in the upper Tertiary rocks has led to many interesting discussions, among which was a paper read by Ernst Haeckel before the International Congress of Zoölogists, held in Cambridge, England, last year. In this paper Haeckel contended that in these remains we had at last the long-sought-for missing link.[1] This paper excited much interest,

  1. The Last Link. Our Present Knowledge of the Descent of Man. By Ernst Haeckel. Adam and Charles Black. 1898.