Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 7.djvu/213
SAVAGISM AND CIVILIZATION.
entertain the doctrine that civilization never could have arisen had not the Creator appeared upon earth as the first instructor; for, unfortunately for this hypothesis, the aboriginals supposedly so taught, were scarcely civilized at all, and compare unfavorably with the other all-perfect works of creation; so that this sort of reasoning like innumerable other attempts of man to limit the powers of Omnipotence, and narrow them down to our weak understandings, is little else than puerility.
Nor, as we have seen, is this act of civilizing the effect of volition; nor, as will hereafter more clearly appear, does it arise from an inherent principle of good any more than from an inherent principle of evil. The ultimate result, though difficult of proof, we take for granted to be good, but the agencies employed for its consummation number among them more of those we call evil than of those we call good. The isolated individual never, by any possibility, can become civilized like the social man; he cannot even speak, and without a flow of words there can be no complete flow of thought. Send him forth away from his fellow-man to roam the forest with the wild beasts, and he would be almost as wild and beastlike as his companions; it is doubtful if he would ever fashion a tool, but would not rather with his claws alone procure his food, and forever remain as he now is, the most impotent of animals. The intellect, by which means alone man rises above other animals, never could work, because the intellect is quickened only as it comes in contact with intellect. The germ of development therein implanted cannot unfold singly any more than the organism can bear fruit singly. It is a well-established fact that the mind without language cannot fully develop; it is likewise established that language is not inherent, that it springs up between men, not in them. Language, like civilization, belongs to society, and is in no wise a part or the property of the individual.
We may hold, then, a priori, that this progressional principle exists; that it exists not more in the man than around him; that it requires an atmosphere in which to live, as life in the body requires an atmosphere which is its vital breath, and that this atmosphere is generated only by the contact of man with man. Under analysis this social atmosphere appears to be composed of two opposing principles—good and evil—which, like attraction and repulsion, or positive and negative electricity, underlie all activities. One is as essential to progress as the other; either, in excess or disproportionately administered, like an excess of oxygen or of hydrogen in the air, becomes pernicious, engenders social disruptions and decay, which continue until the equilibrium is restored; yet all the while with the progress of humanity the good increases, while the evil diminishes. Every impulse incident to humanity is born of the union of these two opposing principles. For example, as I have said, and will attempt more fully to show further on, association is the first requisite of progress.