Page:Earth-Hunger and Other Essays.djvu/333

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called non-government or "atomistic." The old Congressional Globe bore the motto: "The world is governed too much." Jeffersonian democracy, however, in its best estate, was able only partly to fulfil its own ideal, for it found that a state power which undertook to live by the principles of self-abnegation could not simply rest at ease or be quietly neutral. It had to defend itself against the forces which tried to direct it, and to push back against the organizations which were trying to drive it on to the undertakings which it disavowed. In the latest developments of democracy, the world over, there is very little of this reluctance to assume functions.

By imperium the Romans meant the concept of military and civil power combined in a supreme authority. Every government aims to develop and maintain this conception in its chief organ as a realized fact, and democracy is no exception. The "people"—that is the ruling majority for the time being—instead of divesting itself of any part of the traditional functions of the civil authority, is notably tenacious of everything which it imagines to be "sovereignty"; and it resents any curtailment, as if such curtailment would contain an imputation upon the equality of democracy with the other -ocracies which have had the powers. So we are gravely told that "the state is the depository of the coercive power of society"; as if that was an intelligible proposition, or one embodying a distinct notion applicable to any question of theory or any problem of practise. It is upon such turgid and empty dicta that all absolutism has been built up in the past; and such are now being fabricated with a zeal hitherto unequaled for the purposes of democratic absolutism. Indeed, we seem destined speedily to discover that democracy, instead of being a single