Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/26

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

brought to bear upon it will soon reveal its superficial nature. Ever since the first group of savages found that it was safer for them to unite in the eternal fight against the animals and against other savages than to face the hostile world as individuals, there have been two sets of phenomena to be considered: those which have to do with man as an individual, and those which have to do with him as a member of a community. The "scientific" critic quoted above forgets that Nature is as much interested in the development of the community as in the development of the individual, and that the process of producing communities fit to survive has had a distinct reaction upon the primitive instincts of the individual.

The struggle for life can never be done away with, but it has manifested itself under so many different forms in the past that there is no reason to suppose its present form is the permanent one. Society has evolved from savagery to barbarism, from barbarism to feudalism, from feudalism to individualism, and with every change the relations of individuals to each other have been modified, the form of the struggle has altered, and the situation of those individuals who have not been successful is somewhat improved. The position of the modern industrial wage-earner is bad, but it is a step in advance of serfdom, as serfdom was a step in advance of slavery. And if we can judge society by the situation of its most unfortunate members as a chain is judged by its weakest link,