Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/9

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APPLETONS'

 

POPULAR SCIENCE

 

MONTHLY.



NOVEMBER, 1899.



THE REAL PROBLEMS OF DEMOCRACY.
By FRANKLIN SMITH.

MUCH has been written of late about "the real problems of democracy." According to some "thinkers," they consist of the invention of ingenious devices to prevent caucus frauds and the purchase of votes, to check the passage of special laws as well as too many laws, and to infuse into decent people an ardent desire to participate in the wrangles of politics. According to others, they consist of the invention of equally ingenious devices to compel corporations to manage their business in accordance with Christian principles, to transform the so-called natural monopolies into either State or municipal monopolies, and to effect, by means of the power of taxation, a more equitable distribution of wealth. According to still others, they consist of the invention of no less ingenious devices to force people to be temperate, to observe humanity toward children and animals, and to read and study what will make them model citizens. It is innocently and touchingly believed that with the solution of these problems, by the application of the authority that society has over the individual, "the social conscience" will be awakened. But such a belief can not be realized. It has its origin in a conception of democracy that has no foundation either in history or science. What are supposed to be the real problems of democracy are only the problems of despotism — the problems to which every tyrant from time immemorial has addressed himself, to the moral and industrial ruin of his subjects. If democracy be conceived not as a form of political government under the regime of universal suffrage, but as a condition of freedom under moral control, permitting every man to do as he likes, so long as he does not trench upon the equal right of every other