Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/11

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3
THE REAL PROBLEMS OF DEMOCRACY.

their own industry. Since each will be left in full possession of all the fruits of his own toil, he will be at liberty to make just such use of them as will contribute most to His happiness, thus permitting the realization, in the only practicable way, of Bentham's principle of "the greatest happiness of the greatest number." Since all of them will be free to make such contracts as they believe will be most advantageous to them, exchanging what they are willing to part with for what some one else is willing to give in return, there will prevail the only equitable distribution of the returns from labor and capital, No one will receive more and no one less than he is entitled to. Thus will benefit be in proportion to merit, and the most scrupulous justice be satisfied.

But this regime of equity in the distribution of property implies, as I have already said, the possession of a high degree of self-control, not only must all persons have such a keen sense of their own rights as will never permit them to submit to infringement, but they must have such a keen sense of the rights of others that they will not be guilty themselves of infringement. Not only will they refrain from the commission of those acts of aggression whose ill effects are immediate and obvious; they will refrain from those acts whose ill effects are remote and obscure. Although they will not, for example, deceive or steal or commit personal assaults, they will not urge the adoption of a policy that will injure the unknown members of other communities, like the Welsh tin-plate makers and the Vienna pearl-button makers that the McKinley Bill deprived of employment. Realizing the vice of the plea of the opponents of international copyright that cheap literature for a people is better than scrupulous honesty, they will not refuse to foreign authors the same protection to property that they demand. They will not, finally, allow themselves to take by compulsion or by persuasion the property of neighbors to be used to alleviate suffering or to disseminate knowledge in a way to weaken the moral and physical strength of their fellows. But the possession of a sense of justice so scrupulous assumes the possession of a fellow-feeling so vivid that it will allow no man to refuse all needful aid to the victims of misfortune. As suffering to others will mean suffering to himself, he will be as powerfully moved to go to their rescue as he would to protect himself against the same misfortune. Indeed, he will be moved, as all others will be moved, to undertake without compulsion all the benevolent work, be it charitable or educational, that may be necessary to aid those persons less fortunate than himself to obtain the greatest possible satisfaction out of life.

But the methods of social reform now in greatest vogue do