Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/425

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411
EDITOR'S TABLE.

that what society lacks is the bread of knowledge and the discipline of firm governmental administration can lend their aid to a scheme which totally subordinates knowledge to dogma, and seeks to solve social difficulties by a kind of deus ex machina intervention of a somewhat fanatical and not over-scrupulous individual. We do not grudge Mr. Booth the utmost support he can get from persons on the same plane of thought as himself, and who believe that it is a good thing that he should wield an autocratic power over so many thousands of his fellow-men; but we can not believe that those who regard his way of thinking as narrow and unintelligent, and who disapprove of the concentration of unlimited power, however acquired, in the hands of one man, are justified in directly helping to strengthen his organization. It is right, however, that those who fight under the banner of science should note what is going on and be admonished thereby. If the forces of reaction are in motion, the forces of progress should not be inactive. It is time that the whole problem of social reform should be considered in the light of the best knowledge now obtainable. Medical and sanitary science have much to say to it, and so has political economy. History, psychology, and ethics should all be able to throw light upon it, and anthropology might render more or less assistance. One unfortunate result of the undue specialization of scientific study now prevalent is that scientific men are, or feel themselves to be, cut off to a great extent from large questions of every-day life; but here certainly is one of pressing importance which should not be left to ignoramuses and fanatics to solve in their own crude way. We do not hesitate to say that the scientific men of this generation will gravely fail in their duty if they do not collectively strive to bring the improved knowledge of the time to bear on social problems. If we can not be helped to discern all we ought to do, it would be something if we could be led to see what we ought not to do. The prominence which a man like "General" Booth is able to achieve is largely due to the abstention from social concerns of men who ought to be able to take a wider and more sober view of the situation than he. There are social problems to be dealt with in this country just as there are in England, though they may not have reached so acute a stage; and we trust it may not be left to the Salvation Army to take up on this side of the Atlantic work which might so much better be coped with by scientifically directed effort.

 

 

CHARITY AS A FETICH.

A fetich is commonly understood to be some inanimate object ignorantly and blindly worshiped as possessing supernatural powers. In the March number of the Westminster Review Mrs. Emily Glade Ellis discusses The Fetich of Charity. The expression is happily chosen. It is hardly too much to say that, with the Christian world in general, charity is little better than a fetich. It is blindly believed in as something that must do good, that must bless both the giver and the receiver. True, this fetich, like other fetiches, often does not do the things that are expected of it, but, on the contrary, seems to take a spiteful pleasure in doing the opposite of what was expected; still, the faith of its worshipers is not shaken. The African savage will sometimes treat his uncomplying fetich to a sound drubbing; but the Christian savage (shall we say?) has a casuistry at his command that enables him at all times to make apologies both for his fetich and for himself. How richly the fetich deserves to be drubbed, or rather, to use a more rational phrase, how strong the case is for discarding it as a fetich, any one may learn from a perusal of Mrs. Ellis's article. Her arraignment of the fetich falls under five heads: "(1) It invites