Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/741

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

APRIL, 1891.


 

FROM FREEDOM TO BONDAGE.[1]
By HERBERT SPENCER.

OF the many ways in which common-sense inferences about social affairs are flatly contradicted by events (as when measures taken to suppress a book cause increased circulation of it, or as when attempts to prevent usurious rates of interest make the terms harder for the borrower, or as when there is greater difficulty in getting things at the places of production than else-where) one of the most curious is the way in which the more things improve the louder become the exclamations about their badness.

In days when the people were without any political power, their subjection was rarely complained of; but after free institutions had so far advanced in England that our political arrangements were envied by continental peoples, the denunciations of aristocratic rule grew gradually stronger, until there came a great widening of the franchise, soon followed by complaints that things were going wrong for want of still further widening. If we trace up the treatment of women from the days of savagedom, when they bore all the burdens and after the men had eaten received such food as remained, up through the middle ages when they served the men at their meals, to our own day when throughout our social arrangements the claims of women are always put first, we see that along with the worst treatment there went the least apparent consciousness that the treatment was bad; while now that they are better treated than ever before,.the proclaiming of their grievances daily strengthens: the loudest outcries coming


  1. Introduction to a Collection of Essays entitled A Plea for Liberty; An Argument against Socialism and Socialistic Legislation. Consisting of essays by various writers. Edited by Dr. Thomas Mackay. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1891.