Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/487

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
471
THE STUDY OF SOCIOLOGY.

dread sovereign, which Almighty God, the Father of all mercies, bestowed upon us the people of England, when first He sent Your Majesty's Royal Person to rule and reign over us," etc., etc. Think of such a dedication of such a book to such a man; and then ask if, along with a sentiment thus expressing itself, there could go any thing like balanced judgments of political transactions.

Does there need an illustration of the extent to which balanced judgments of political transactions are made impossible by this sentiment during times when it is strong? We have one in the warped conceptions formed respecting Charles I. and Cromwell; and respecting the changes with which their names are identified. Now that many generations have gone by, and it begins to be seen that the one was not worthy to be prayed for as a martyr, while the other deserved treatment quite unlike that of exhuming his body and insulting it, it begins to be seen, also, how utterly wrong have been the interpretations of the events they took part in, and how entirely men's sentiments of loyalty have incapacitated them for understanding those events under their sociological aspects.

Naming this as an instance of a more special perverting effect of this sentiment, we have here chiefly to note its more general perverting effect. From the beginning it has tended ever to keep in the foreground of consciousness the governing agent as causing social phenomena; and so has kept in the background of consciousness all other causes of social phenomena—or, rather, the one has so completely occupied consciousness as to exclude the other. If we remember that history has been full of the doings of kings, but that only in quite recent times have the phenomena of industrial organization, conspicuous as they are, attracted any attention—if we remember that, while all eyes and all thoughts have been turned to the actions of rulers, no eyes and no thoughts have, until modern days, been turned to those vital processes of spontaneous coöperation by which natural life, and growth, and progress, have been carried on—we shall not fail to see how profound have been the resulting errors in men's conclusions about social affairs. And, seeing this, we shall infer that the emotion excited in men by embodied political power must now, and for a long-time to come, be a great obstacle to the formation of rational sociological conceptions—tending, as it must ever do, to exaggerate the importance of the political factor in comparison with other factors.

Under the title of "Subjective Difficulties—Emotional," I have here entered upon an extensive field, the greater part of which remains to be explored. The effects of impatience, the effects of that all-glorifying admiration felt for military success, the effects of that sentiment which makes men submit to authority by keeping up a superstitious awe of the agent exercising it, are but a few among the effects which, the emotions produce on sociological beliefs. Various other effects