The Source and Aim of Human Progress
THE SOURCE AND AIM OF HUMAN PROGRESS
(a study in social psychology and social pathology)
About twenty-five years ago I published in my Psychology of Suggestion a series of experiments on Normal and Abnormal Suggestibility, carried on at various laboratories including my own laboratory. I developed the psycho-physiological theory of the subconscious, traced the causation and nature of subconscious activities, and worked out the laws of normal and abnormal suggestibility. The following pertains to our present subject:
The nervous centers of man's nervous system, if classified as to function, may be divided into inferior and superior. The inferior centers are characterized by reflex and automatic activities. A stimulus excites the peripheral nerve-endings of some sense-organ. At once a nerve-current is set up in the afferent nerves. The current in its turn stimulates a plexus of central ganglia, the nerve energy of which is set free, and is propagated along the efferent nerves towards muscles and glands,—secretions, muscular contractions and relaxations are the result; biologically regarded, various reactions and adjustments follow.
Ingoing and outgoing nerve currents with their various end-reactions may be modified by the nerve centers. Nerve currents may be intensified, decreased in energy, or even entirely inhibited by central ganglia or by their mutual interaction and interferences. Sherrington and other physiologists have by a number of experiments formulated some of the important principles of such physiological activities. The law of inhibition or interference early formulated by Ziehen may suffice: "If an excitation of a definite intensity (m) take place in one cortical element (b), and another excitation of a different intensity (n) take place at the same time in another cortical element (c) which is connected by a path of conduction with element (b), the two intensities of excitation may modify each other."
Although such modifications frequently occur, it nevertheless remains true that the inferior nerve-centers are of a reflex nature. No sooner is the nerve-energy of a lower center set free than at once it tends to discharge itself into action. Thus every sensation, perception, feeling, emotion, thought, or belief, if left uncontrolled, tends to be translated into some appropriate movement, action, or reaction. The physiological process of setting free the nerve energy in a central ganglion, or in a system of central ganglia, is accompanied by activity in the simpler, but more organized, more integrated nerve centers, and by the lower psychic functions of simple sentience, sensibility; and in the more complex, but less integrated, less organized centers, by the higher psychic functions of consciousness, such as sensations, precepts, images, ideas, and emotions.
Turning now to the superior or the highest nerve-centers, we find that they are characterized by the highest mental functions, thought and reasoning, choice and will. A number of impressions, sensations and precepts reach those thought and will-centers; then a critical, a sifting, a selecting, a controlling or inhibitory process begins. Some of the mental states are modified and are permitted to develop within certain limits, others are given full play, while still others, and possibly the majority of them, are rejected and inhibited, not taking effect in reactions and adjustments to the environment.
The inhibited states belong to the great number of possible states with their reactions out of which selection is made by the critical thought and will-centers. These mental states, images, ideas, and feelings with their end-reactions, out of which selection is made, Galton aptly terms "the antechamber of consciousness." They are on the margin of consciousness, and are partly of a conscious and partly of a subconscious character. To quote from Galton: "Although the brain is able to do fair work fluently in an automatic way, and though it will of its own accord, strike out sudden and happy ideas, it is questionable if it is capable of working thoroughly and profoundly without past or present effort. The character of this effort seems to me chiefly to lie in bringing the contents of the antechamber more nearly within the ken of consciousness, which then takes comprehensive note of all its contents, and compels the logical faculty to test them seriatim before selecting the fittest for a summons to the presence of the chamber. The thronging of the antechamber is, I am convinced, beyond my control."
Mental activity in its rational or integrative aspects whether logical, moral, or aesthetic, is essentially selective in character. The logical process draws definite conclusions from given premises; the moral man or the ethical thinker regards definite relations in behavior in response to definite relations in the environment as right or wrong; while the artist or the one who enjoys artistic work appreciates definite relations and combinations as the artistic and the beautiful. Even in ordinary life where the process of selection is not so rigid as in the arts, sciences, and philosophy, still the process of attention for the maintenance of rationality is a severe judge in the rejection of unfit streams of thoughts and ideas that may present themselves in the antechamber of consciousness, as Galton terms the state of the mind. In a train of ideas, few ideas of the total mass that offer themselves are accepted, or utilized by the guiding, controlling consciousness to be acted upon in the life adjustments of the organism. This holds true not only of the material needs, but more especially of the spiritual interests of man. The higher the level of mental activity, the more definite, the more precise, the more rigid the selective process becomes. The stream of consciousness, as it rushes along, selects, synthetizes or, physiologically speaking, integrates those trains of ideas which help most effectually to reach the destination, or, in other words, are especially fit for the purpose in hand.
This selective will-activity of the highest nerve-systems, given in the will-effort of selection, forms the very nucleus of man's rational life.
These superior selective "choice and will centers," localized by Ferrier, Wundt, Bianchi and others, in the frontal lobes, and by others in the upper layers of the cortex, on account of their selective and inhibitory functions, may be characterized as selective and inhibitory centers par excellence.
Man's nerve organization may thus be classified into two main systems: I. the inferior, including the reflex, the instinctive, the automatic centres; and II. the superior, the controlling, selective, and inhibitory brain-centres of the cortex. Parallel to the double systems of nerve-centres, we also have a double mental activity, or double-consciousness as it is sometimes called, the inferior, the organic, the instinctive, the automatic, the reflex consciousness, or briefly termed the subconsciousness; and the superior, the choosing, the willing, the critical, the will-consciousness. This controlling will-consciousness may also be characterized as the guardian-consciousness of the species and of the individual.
From an evolutionary, or teleological standpoint, we can well realize the biological function or importance of this guardian-consciousness. The external world bombards the living organism with innumerable stimuli. From all sides thousands of impressions come crowding upon the senses of the individual. Each impression with its appropriate receptors has its corresponding system of reactions which, if not modified or counteracted, may end in some harmful or fatal result. It is not of advantage to the organism of a highly complex organization to respond with reactions to all impressions coming from the external environment. Hence, that organism will succeed best in the struggle for existence that possesses some selective, critical inhibitory "choice and will" centres. The more organized and the more sensitive and delicate those centres are, the better will the organism succeed in its life existence. The guardian-consciousness wards off, as far as it is possible, the harmful blows given by the stimuli of the external environment. In man, this same guardian-consciousness keeps on constructing, by a series of elimination and selection, a new environment, individual and social, which leads to an ever higher and more perfect development and realization of the inner powers of individuality and personality.
Under normal conditions man's superior and inferior centres with their corresponding upper, critical, controlling consciousness together with the inferior automatic, reflex centres and their concomitant subconscious consciousness keep on functioning in full harmony. The upper and lower consciousness form one organic unity,—one conscious, active personality. Under certain abnormal conditions, however, the two systems of nerve-centres with their corresponding mental activities may become dissociated. The superior nerve-centers with their critical, controlling consciousness may become inhibited, split off from the rest of the nervous system. The reflex, automatic, instinctive, subconscious centres with their mental functions are laid bare, thus becoming directly accessible to the stimuli of the outside world; they fall a prey to the influences of external surroundings, influences termed suggestions. The critical, controlling, guardian-consciousness, being cut off and absent, the reduced individuality lacks the rational guidance and orientation, given by the upper choice and will-centres, becomes the helpless plaything of all sorts of suggestions, sinking into the trance states of the subconscious. It is this subconscious that forms the highway of suggestions, suggestibility being its essential characteristic. The subconscious rises to the surface of consciousness, so to say, whenever there is a weakening, paralysis, or inhibition of the upper, controlling will and choice-centres, or in other words, whenever there is a disaggregation of the superior from the inferior nerve-centers, followed by an increase of ideo-sensory, ideo-motor, sensori-secretory, reflex excitability; and ideationally, or rationally by an abnormal intensity and extensity of suggestibility. In order to bring to the fore subconscious activities with their reflex, automatic psycho-motor reactions by removal of the upper consciousness I have found requisite, in my investigations, the following conditions:
Normal Suggestibility,—Suggestibility in the Normal, Waking State:
- Fixation of the Attention.
- Distraction of the Attention.
- Limitation of Voluntary Activity.
- Limitation of the Field of Consciousness.
- Immediate Execution of the Suggestion.
Abnormal Suggestibility,—Suggestibility in Hypnotic and Trance States:
- Fixation of the Attention.
- Limitation of Voluntary Activity.
- Limitation of the Field of Consciousness.
The nature of abnormal suggestibility, the result of my investigations given in the same volume, is a disaggregation of consciousness, a cleavage of the mind, a cleft that may become ever deeper and wider, ending in a total disjunction of the waking, guiding, controlling guardian-consciousness from the automatic, reflex, subconscious consciousness. . . . Normal suggestibility is of like nature,—it is a cleft in the mind; only here the cleft is not so deep, not so lasting as in hypnosis or in the other subconscious trance states; the split is here but momentary; the mental cleavage, or the psycho-physiological disaggregation of the superior from the inferior centres with their concomitant psychic activities is evanescent, fleeting, often disappearing at the moment of its appearance.
In the same work the following laws of suggestibility were formed by me:
- Normal suggestibility varies as indirect suggestion and inversely as direct suggestion.
- Abnormal suggestibility varies as direct suggestion and inversely as indirect suggestion.
A comparison of the conditions of normal and abnormal suggestibility is valuable, since it reveals the nature of suggestibility, and discloses its fundamental law. An examination of the two sets of conditions shows that in abnormal suggestibility two conditions, distraction of attention and immediate execution are absent, otherwise the conditions are the same. This sameness of conditions clearly indicates the fact that both normal and abnormal suggestibility flow from some one common source, that they are of like nature, and due to similar causes. Now a previous study led us to the conclusion that the nature of abnormal suggestibility is a disaggregation of consciousness, a slit produced in the mind, a crack that may become wider and deeper, ending in a total disjunction of the waking, guiding, controlling consciousness from the reflex consciousness. Normal suggestibility is of like nature, it is a cleft in the mind; only here the cleft is not so deep, not so lasting as it is in hypnosis, or in the state of abnormal suggestibility. The split is here but momentary, disappearing almost at the very moment of its appearance.
This fleeting, evanescent character of the split explains why suggestion in the normal state, why normal suggestibility requires immediate execution as one of its indispensable conditions. We must take the opportunity of the momentary ebb of the controlling consciousness and hastily plant our suggestion in the soil of reflex consciousness. We must watch for this favorable moment, not let it slip by, otherwise the suggestion is a failure. Furthermore, we must be careful to keep in abeyance, for the moment, the ever-active waves of the controlling consciousness. We must find for them work in some other direction; we must divert, we must distract them. That is why normal suggestibility requires the additional conditions of distraction and of immediate execution. For in the waking state the waking, controlling consciousness is always on its guard, and, when enticed away, leaves its ground only for a moment. In normal suggestibility the psychic split is but faint; the lesion, effected in the body consciousness, is superficial, transitory, fleeting. In abnormal suggestibility, on the contrary, the slit is deep and lasting,—it is a severe gash. In both cases, however, we have a removal, a dissociation of the waking from the subwaking, reflex consciousness, suggestion becoming effected only through the latter. For suggestibility is the attribute of the subwaking, reflex consciousness.
A comparison of the two laws discloses the same relation. The two laws are the reverse of each other, thus clearly indicating the presence of a controlling inhibiting conscious element in one case, and its absence in the other. In the normal state we must guard against the inhibitory, waking consciousness, and we have to make our suggestion as indirect as possible. In the abnormal state, on the contrary, no circumspection is needed; the controlling, inhibitory waking consciousness is more or less absent, the subwaking, reflex consciousness is exposed to external stimuli, and our suggestions are therefore the more effective, the more direct we make them. Suggestibility is a function of disaggregation of consciousness, a disaggregation in which the subwaking, reflex consciousness enters into direct communication with the external world, The general law of suggestibility is:
Suggestibility varies as the amount of disaggregation, and inversely as the unification of consciousness.
"The problem that interested me most was to come into close contact with the subwaking self. What is its fundamental nature? What are the main traits of its character? Since in hypnosis the subwaking self is freed from its chains, is untrammeled by the shackles of the upper, controlling self, since in hypnosis the underground self is more or less exposed to our view, it is plain that experimentation on the hypnotic self will introduce us into the secret life of the subwaking self; for as we pointed out the two are identical. I have made all kinds of experiments, bringing subjects into catalepsy, somnambulism, giving illusions, hallucinations, post-hypnotic suggestions, etc. As a result of my work one central truth stands out clear, and that is the extraordinary plasticity of the subwaking self.
"If you can only in some way or other succeed in separating the primary controlling consciousness from the lower one, the waking from the subwaking self, so that they should no longer keep company, you can do anything you please with the subwaking self. You can make its legs, its hands, any limb you like, perfectly rigid; you can make it eat pepper for sugar; you can make it drink water for wine; feel cold or warm; hear delightful stories in the absence of all sound; feel pain or pleasure; see oranges where there is nothing; you can make it eat them and enjoy their taste. In short, you can do with the subwaking self anything you like. The subwaking consciousness is in your power, like clay in the hands of the potter. The nature of its plasticity is revealed by its extreme suggestibility.
"I wanted to get an insight into the very nature of the subwaking self; I wished to make a personal acquaintance with it. 'What is its personal character?' I asked. How surprised I was when, after a close interrogation, the answer came to me that there can possibly be no personal acquaintance with it,—for the subwaking self lacks personality."
Under certain conditions a cleavage may occur between the two selves, and then the subwaking self may rapidly grow, develop, and attain (apparently) the plane of self-consciousness, get crystallized into a person, and give itself a name, imaginary, or borrowed from history. (This accounts for the spiritualistic phenomena of personality, guides, controls, and communications by dead personalities, or spirits coming from another world, such as have been observed in the case of Mrs. Piper and other mediums of like type; it accounts for all the phenomena of multiple personality, simulating the dead or the living, or formed anew out of the matrix of the subconsciousness. All such personality metamorphoses can be easily developed, under favorable conditions, in any psycho-pathological laboratory). The newly crystallized personality is, as a rule, extremely unstable, ephemeral, shadowy in its outlines (spirit-like, ghost-like), tends to become amorphous, being formed again and again under the influence of favorable conditions and suggestions, rising to the surface of consciousness, then sinking into the subconsciousness, and disappearing, only to give rise to new personality metamorphoses, bursting like so many bubbles on the surface of the upper stream of consciousness.
A few quotations from my work on the subject of the subconscious may help to elucidate the main traits of the lower secondary self with its extreme suggestibility and automatic, reflex consciousness:
"The subwaking self is extremely credulous; it lacks all sense of the true and the rational. 'Two and two make five.' 'Yes.' Anything is accepted, if sufficiently emphasized by the hypnotizer. The suggestibility and imitativeness of the subwaking self were discussed by me at great length. What I should like to point out here is the extreme servility and cowardliness of that self. Show hesitation, and it will show fight; command authoritatively, and it will obey slavishly.
"The subwaking self is devoid of all morality. It will steal without the least scruple; it will poison; it will stab; it will assassinate its best friends without the least scruple. When completely cut off from the waking person, it is precluded from conscience."
This explains the many atrocities committed by the Assyrian, Macedonian, Roman or German soldier who by a long course of military training had fallen into the degraded and wretched state of the irresponsible, slavish, sub-conscious self.
"The subwaking self dresses to fashion, gossips in company, runs riot in business-panics, revels in the crowd, storms in the mob, parades on the streets, drills in the camp, and prays in revival meetings. Its senses are acute, but its sense is nil. Association by contiguity, the automatic, reflex mental mechanism of the brute, is the only one it possesses.
"The subwaking self lacks all personality and individuality; it is absolutely servile. It has no moral law, no law at all. To be a law unto one-self, the chief and essential characteristic of personality, is the very trait the subwaking self so glaringly lacks.
"The subwaking self has no will; it is blown hither and thither by all sorts of incoming suggestions. It is essentially a brutal self.
"The primary self alone possesses true personality, will, and self-control. The primary self alone is a law unto itself,—a personality having the power of investigating its own nature, of discovering faults, creating ideals, striving after them, struggling for them, and by continuous efforts of will attaining to higher and higher stages of personality."
Suggestibility is a fundamental attribute of man's nature. We should, therefore, expect that man in his social capacity would manifest this general property; and such do we actually find to be the case. What is required is the bringing about of a disaggregation in the social consciousness. Such a disaggregation may either be fleeting, unstable, the type is that of normal suggestibility; or the disaggregation may become stable, the type is then that of abnormal suggestibility. The one is the suggestibility of the crowd, the latter that of the mob. In the mob direct suggestion is effective, in the crowd indirect suggestion. The clever stump orator, the politician, the preacher, fixes the attention of the crowd on himself, while interesting the hearers in his "subject." The orator, the preacher, or the demagogue, the politician, distracts the attention of the crowd by his stories, frequently giving his suggestion in some indirect and striking way, winding up the long yarn by a climax, requiring immediate execution of the suggestion.
The condition of limitation of voluntary movements is of paramount importance in suggestibility in general, since it brings about a narrowing down of the field of consciousness which of all other conditions is most favorable to dissociation. The condition of limitation of voluntary movements is one of the prime conditions that helps to bring about a deep, a more or less lasting dissociation in the consciousness of the crowd,—the crowd passes into the mob-state. A large gathering, on account of the cramping of voluntary movements, easily falls into a state of abnormal suggestibility. Large assemblies carry within themselves the germs of the possible mob. The crowd contains within itself all the elements and conditions favourable to a disaggregation of consciousness. What is required is that an interesting object, or that some sudden, violent impression should strongly fix the attention of the crowd, and plunge it into that state in which the waking personality is shorn of its dignity and power, and the naked, subwaking self remains alone to face the external environment.
Besides limitation of the voluntary movements and contraction of the field of consciousness, there are also present in the crowd, the matrix of the mob, the conditions of monotony and inhibition. When the preacher, the politician, the stump orator, the ringleader, the hero, gains the ear of the crowd, an ominous silence sets in, a silence frequently characterized as "awful." The crowd is in a state of overstrained expectation; with suspended breath it watches the hero or the interesting, all absorbing object. Disturbing impressions are excluded, put down, or driven away by force. All interfering influences and ideas are inhibited. The crowd is entranced, and rapidly merges into the mob-state.
The suggestion given to the entranced crowd by the "master" or hero spreads like wild fire. The suggestion reverberates from individual to individual, gathers strength, becomes overwhelming, driving the crowd into a fury of activity, into a frenzy of excitement. As the suggestions are taken up by the mob and executed, the wave of excitement rises higher and higher. Each fulfilled suggestion increases the emotion of the mob in volume and intensity. Each new attack is followed by a more violent paroxysm of furious, demoniac frenzy. The mob is like an avalanche, the more it rolls, the more menacing and dangerous it grows. The suggestion given by the hero, by the ringleader, by the master of the moment, who simply gives expression to the subconscious passions of the mob, is taken up by the crowd, and is reflected and reverberated from man to man, until every soul is dizzied, and every person is stunned. In the entranced crowd, in the mob, every one influences and is influenced in his turn; every one suggests and is suggested to; until the surging billow of excitement and mob-energy swells and rises, reaching a formidable height.
Let the crowd, the mass or the mob, be indicated by m and its energy by E, the energy of another mass m1 be E1. On account of the interaction of the masses the result will be m multiplied by m1 or mm1 and their energies EE1; the energies of masses m, m1, m2, give mm1m2 or EE1E2. If the masses are equal, the energies are respectively E, E2, E3, and so on. While the masses grow by equal increments of m, the energies increase by the factor E. The masses are respectively: m, 2m, 3m, 4m, 5m, and so on, the corresponding energies are: E1, E2, E3, E4, E5. Mob-energy rises as the powers of the mass. We may say then that while the masses increase in arithmetical progression, the energies of the masses increase in a geometrical progression. In other words, the masses grow as the logarithms of their energies. In short, if M is the mass of the mob, then M = Log E.
If m is 10 and E is 10, then a mass of 2m gives an energy of 102, a mass of 3m yields an energy of 103, a mass of 4m gives an energy of 104, or 10,000, a mass of 5m gives an energy of 105 or 100,000. While the mass increases in an arithmetical progression of 10, the mass energy grows in a geometrical progression of 10. Briefly stated, the mass grows as the logarithm of mass-energy.
A knowledge of the subconscious and of the laws of suggestibility are of vital consequence in Social Psychology in general and in Social Pathology in particular. As the great Sociologist, Tarde, points out: "To understand thoroughly the essential social fact, as I perceive it, knowledge of the infinitely subtle facts of mind is necessary,—the roots of what seems to be even the simplest and most superficial kind of Sociology strike far down into the depths of the most inward and hidden parts of Psychology and Physiology."
In surveying human life in its organized capacity, from the lowest to the highest forms of social organizations in the great wealth of their manifestations, economic, tribal, totemic, sex and family relationship, marriage, art, morals, religion, magic, beliefs, practices, rites, taboos, and other social phenomena, the student of Social Psychology cannot help being impressed with the important rôle played by the instinctive, automatic, reflex consciousness, or the subconscious with its normal and abnormal suggestibility in the protean forms and activities taken by the metamorphic and anamorphic social spirit of aggregate humanity. If there is truth in Aristotle's dictum that man is a social or rather a gregarious animal, or in that of Tarde's and others that man is an imitative animal, there is a deeper truth in the more fundamental view, which really includes all others, that man is by nature, or by his subconscious nature, a suggestible animal.
Man's subconsciousness, with its conditions and laws of normal and abnormal suggestibility, works on a large scale in the social evolution of the human race. In the course of human development and the incessant building of new social structures with their corresponding functions we find the activities of the upper, controlling, regulating, ordering, critical consciousness, rationalizing the formative activities of the subconscious with its characteristic reflex, instinctive, automatic, suggestible consciousness. The rational progress of human societies depends on the interaction and synthesis of the upper and lower consciousness. When, however, the upper, critical consciousness is kept in abeyance, or is dissociated from the lower self, society becomes subject to all forms of social diseases, mental epidemics, mob-actions, riots, horde-attacks, blind slaughters, massacres, pogroms, revolts, mass upheavals, mass movements on a great scale, such as are manifested in migrations of tribes and nations, or in local, national, and world-wars. The very weakening of the controlling social consciousness causes the social mind to become predisposed to overaction of the social subconsciousness with its abnormal suggestibility and consequent social, psychic diseases and mental epidemics of all sorts and description. For a clear understanding of Social Psychology and Social Pathology one should keep in mind the following laws formulated in my "Psychology of Suggestion":
- Social subconsciousness is the vehicle of suggestibility and more specially of abnormal suggestibility.
- Suggestibility varies as the amount of disaggregation of social consciousness and inversely as the unification or synthesis of social consciousness.
- Social, impulsive, reflex action is in inverse relation to the synthesis of the upper consciousness and the reflex subconscious.
- While the social aggregate grows in an arithmetical progression, the emotional excitement of the aggregate grows in a geometrical progression; or the emotional energy rises as the powers of the mass, the mass varying as the logarithm of its energy.
- The greater the uniformity of the constituent units of social mass, the greater the mass-energy, and the more powerful are the effects of social suggestibility. In other words, social suggestibility is directly proportional to the uniformity of the social aggregate.
- Individuality is in inverse relation to the social mass.
- The conditions of normal and abnormal suggestibility, such as Fixation of the Attention, Limitation of Activity, Suppression of Variations, Monotony, Contraction of the Field of Social and Individual Consciousness, and inhibition of non-conforming ideas, ideals, and beliefs, leading to a weakening and paralysis of the critical consciousness, tend to the laying bare of the suggestible subconscious with its consequent deleterious effects. The main principles of social psychology, outlined in my "Psychology of Suggestion" were adopted by Prof. Ross in his "Social Psychology":
"In the normal state" Professor Ross writes "suggestion should be as indirect as possible in order to catch the inhibitory, waking self 'off its guard.' In the abnormal state no circumspection is needed; the controlling, inhibitory, waking consciousness is more or less dormant, the subwaking reflex consciousness is exposed, and our suggestions are more effective the more direct they are." Ross then quotes our general law of suggestibility formulated in The Psychology of Suggestion; "Suggestion (suggestibility) varies as the amount of disaggregation and inversely as the unification of consciousness."
"The primary self is the self with personality and will. . . . It alone embodies the results of reflection, and it alone holds life true to a personal ideal. It is the captain of the ship. . . . If now this primary self is overthrown or put to sleep, the subwaking self becomes the master of the ship. This (subconscious) self has little reason, will, or conscience. . . . It is imitative, servile, credulous, swung hither and thither by all sorts of incoming suggestions. The life it prompts cannot be stable, self consistent, integrated. It is low on the scale of personality, and a situation that commits to its hands the helm of the individual life is fraught with disaster." From this standpoint Ross discusses social suggestibility, the crowd, and the mob mind, worked out in my work on the psychology and pathology of the individual and society.
Ross further realizes the import in the domain of social psychology of the factors and conditions of normal and abnormal suggestibility as developed in my "Psychology of Suggestion." Thus he writes: "Sidis goes further in declaring 'If anything gives us a strong sense of our individuality, it is surely our voluntary movements. We may say that the individual self grows and expands with the increase of variety and intensity of its voluntary activity; and conversely, the life of the individual self sinks, shrinks with the decrease of variety and intensity of voluntary movements.' Here, perhaps, is the reason why individuality is so wilted in a dense throng." . . . "A crowd self will not arise unless there is an orientation (fixation) of attention, expectancy, narrowing of the field of consciousness that excludes disturbing impressions."
"With the growing fascination of the mass for the individual, his consciousness contracts to the pin point of the immediate moment, and the volume of suggestion needed to start on its conquering career becomes less and less. He becomes automatic, in a way unconscious. The end is a tranced impressionable condition akin to hypnosis. . . . The crowd self is ephemeral. . . . The crowd is unstable. . . . The crowd self is credulous . . . Rational analysis and test are out of the question. The faculties we doubt with are asleep . . . The crowd self is irrational . . . His (man in the crowd) actions are near to reflexes . . . The crowd self shows simplicity . . . Finally, the crowd self is immoral. . . ."
Similarly Professor Giddings of Columbia University refers to these laws and their corollaries in his Sociology: "There are three of these laws" Professor Giddings writes in his work "that may be regarded as demonstrated: "Impulsive, social action is commenced by those social elements that are least self-controlled." . . .
"The Law of Restraint of impulsive social action is: Impulsive social action varies with the habit of attaining ends by indirect, or complex means." In other words, impulsive social action varies with the attainment of ends by rational means, free from impulsive, emotional excitement, characteristic of the reflex, automatic consciousness or subconsciousness.
"The Law of extent and intensity of social action is: Impulsive social action tends to extend and to intensify in geometrical progression." This is my Law of Logarithmic relation of social mass and it energy.
I may add another important factor in Social Psychology, a factor revealed by my researches in the pathology of the human mind.
The disaggregation of social consciousness predisposes to the arousal of one of the most fundamental of impulses and instincts,—the impulse of self-preservation with its accompanying fear instinct. The subconscious is specially affected by self and fear suggestions, direct and indirect, which tend to awaken and stimulate the uncontrollable, slumbering impulse of self-preservation and fear which are ever ready to awaken and burst the bonds in which they are kept in the subconscious regions by the controlling, rational, personal consciousness. Once self-preservation and fear are aroused they magnify and intensify the pathogenic state of subconscious social activities.
"Intimidation" says Tarde "plays an immense part in society under the name of 'respect.' Every one will acknowledge this, and although the part is sometimes misinterpreted, it is never in the least exaggerated. Respect is neither unmixed fear nor unmixed love, nor is it merely the combination of the two, it is a fear which is beloved by him who entertains it." All taboos, covering the vast field of human life, religion, magic, family, marriage relationships, articles of diet, details of modes of living, rules of behavior, involving the minutiæ of life of primitive societies, savage, barbarian and civilized, all the codes of law, religious, ceremonial, legal, political, all customs and rites and beliefs which control the human race in the course of its evolution, take their origin in self and fear. According to anthropological research all human institutions with all their taboos are based on fears of perils, often of an extremely superstitious nature, perils of soul and body, fears of impending evil of the supernatural before which gregarious man quails in terror of his life. The impulse of self-preservation and the fear-instinct are at the basis of social organized life activities. The taboos, the laws, the rules of gentes, tribes, and nations, from the lowest to the highest, are upheld by a vague terror and sacred awe which society impresses on man by threats of ill-luck, fearful evil, and terrible punishments befalling sinners and transgressors of the tabooed, of the holy and the forbidden, charged with a mysterious, highly contagious, and virulently infective life-consuming energy. As the English anthropologist, Frazer, puts it: "Men are undoubtedly more influenced by what they fear than by what they love." The Bible lays special stress on the fear of God as the font of wisdom. The Biblical love is saturated with fear of the supernatural. Lack of obedience to commandments, in modern religions lack of faith, is threatened with fearful tortures and eternal damnation in hell. Throughout the course of human evolution, through the institutions of gentile savagery and barbarism to political class-civilization, social organization was taboo-intimidation based on self-preservation and fear. Organized society inspires its individual units with abject terror of the least trespass of custom, rule, rite and taboo. "Brute force" as the English anthropologist well puts it "lurks behind custom in the form of what Bagehot has called 'persecuting tendency.'" Society enmeshes the individual in a close and strongly woven network of taboos, customs, commandments, and traditions, all maintained by force and fear.
Fear of the outraged sense of the community inhibits even the very thought of breach of a taboo or violation of custom. The taboo is based on some subconscious fear of some unknown mystic force, or some vague apprehension of a spirit power avenging the awful transgression. The taboo is essentially the fear of the unseen, of the unknown. "A taboo is anything that one must not do lest ill-luck befall. And ill-luck is catching, like an infectious disease. Hence, if some one has committed an act that is not merely a crime, but a sin, it is every one’s concern to wipe out that sin, which is usually done by wiping out the sinner. Mobbish feeling always inclines to violence." This fear of communal anger, manifested at the breaking of some taboo, and resting on social self-preservation and mystic fear of the unknown and the unseen, is at the basis of all social institutions. Self-preservation and fear are at the heart of gregarious man; the two interpenetrate every fibre of his subconscious being.
Plato with his deep insight into the nature of man and society finds fear of such vital importance that he makes the knowledge of what to fear and what not to fear as fundamental in the education of the citizen. Self preservation with its companion the fear instinct dwell in the subconscious depths of gregarious man, and once aroused from slumber and started on their mad career cannot be arrested, they both become uncontrollable, giving rise to social plagues, mental crazes, epidemics and panics highly contagious and virulent in character. This was well brought out in the skillfully conducted campaigns by the various governments in appealing to the masses with their characteristic suggestible subconsciousness, stirring to the very depths the reflex consciousness of gregarious man by all sorts of direct and indirect suggestions of fear of attacks and patriotic reactions of self-defence against such attacks until the evil genii of self-preservation and fear became loose, resulting in a sweeping conflagration of a war of nations with all the horrors of diseases, mutilation, and extermination of millions of human lives; over seventeen and a half millions, according to latest accounts, having perished in this world-massacre of the human race.
Of all the mental epidemics that befall aggregate humanity and its subconscious activities the worst are the mob feelings of the militaristic type. The subconscious activities are not rationalized and humanized, they are in fact more brutalized than ever, inasmuch as under the aegis of military law and under the tacit understanding that necessity knows no law, there is no pity and no mercy in war. The worst of crimes are committed for the benefit of the army and the militant nation. The individual in the army becomes used to holding human life in contempt, in fact, the greater the slaughter, the greater is his merit; and the more medals, ribbons, and honors of hero-worship are showered on him, the more he becomes, after a time, indifferent to all sorts of human suffering and loss of human life. We find this difference in the warlike Assyrians who enjoyed the impaling and flaying alive of their prisoners, and in the case of the military Spartans in the treatment of their unfortunate Helots, more specially in the imperial warlike world-conquerors, the Romans, in their love of the brutalities of gladiatorial combats and the popular delight in the shedding of blood on the arena. Thus Lecky in describing Roman society, says: "The gladiatorial games form indeed one feature which to a modern mind is almost inconceivable in its atrocity. That not only men, but women, in an advanced period of civilization,—men and women who not only professed, but very frequently acted upon a high code of morals,—should have the carnage of men as their habitual amusement, that all this should have continued for centuries with scarcely a protest, is one of the most startling facts in moral history. It is, however, perfectly normal, while it opens fields of ethical inquiry of a very deep, though painful character." The great Roman phrase-monger and moralizer Cicero, glorifies gladiatorial games. "When guilty men" proclaims Cicero "are compelled to fight, no better discipline against suffering and death can be presented to the eye." It is instructive for us to learn as well as to ponder on the fact that "the very men who looked down with delight, when the sand of the arena reddened with human blood, made the theatre ring with applause when Terence in his famous line: ‘Homo sum, Nihil humani mihi alienum puto’ proclaimed the brotherhood of man." If any protests against those edifying gladiatorial games and ancient forms of movie shows of the arena appeared at all, they came not from the intellectual and ideological classes, but from the despised Jews and from those pariahs of the ancient world, the unwarlike, peace-loving, humble, early Christians who lived by the apparently absurd rule of Christianity: 'Love your enemies and return good for evil.' There is, however, one feeble protest on record, but it is not from imperial Rome,—it is from the mother of human progress and humanistic civilization, from ancient Athens. "When an attempt was made to introduce the games into Athens, the philosopher Demonax appealed successfully to the better feelings of the people by exclaiming: 'You must first overthrow the altar of pity!' "
Of the many mental epidemics that occurred in the middle ages, the Crusades, on account of their duration, intensity, and extent, are of interest to the student of Social Psychology and Social Pathology.
The crusades agitated Europe for a couple of centuries with a loss of more than seven million men. Peter the Hermit and Pope Urban II were the heroes who first broke the ice, and directed the popular current to the conquest of the Holy Land. The fiery appeals of the emaciated, dwarfish hermit carried everything before them. The frenzy which had unsettled the mind of the hermit was by him communicated to his hearers who, sinking into a trance, fell easy victims to the fearful visions of a disordered mind.
Meantime Pope Urban II convoked two councils, one after another. At the second council that of Clermont, the pope addressed a multitude of thousands of people. His speech was at first listened to in solemn silence. Gradually, however, as the multitude became more and more subject to the action of the suggestion, and began to sink into the subconscious state of social trance as is usual under such conditions, sobs broke out. "Listen to nothing" he exclaimed "but the groans of Jerusalem! . . . And remember that the Lord has said 'He that will not take up his cross and follow me is unworthy of me.' You are the soldiers of the cross; wear then on your breast or on your shoulders the blood-red sign of Him who died for the salvation of your soul!" The suggestion took effect, it was irresistible. Leaving the fields and towns, agricultural serfs and petty traders displayed intense eagerness to reach the Holy City. Marching in parades and processions with high floating banners, flags, and sacred images at the sound of drums and praying monks hysterical multitudes called for preparedness in the cause of the holiest of wars,—the war of Christ against the infidel. Nations sank in a state of social somnambulism, obsessed by hatred in the name of love, and by war in the name of peace.
The silly, crazed, maniacal subconscious, in spite of its impulsive and reflex character, often simulates the reflective self by using meaningless, pompous phrases of an idealistic nature. The chattering, irrational brute of the subconscious clothes itself in the tattered garments of rationality and idealism. Few are clear-sighted enough to discern the cloven hoof from under the mantle of the active subconscious, freed from all control of the rational self. Those few who by some luck happen to escape the madness of social hypnotization are afraid to give expression to their thoughts, because they are terrorized by the inquisitorial intolerance of crazed mobs and frenzied nations. Everyone spies and is spied upon in turn; everyone denounces and is denounced in turn for disloyalty to the cause of "humanity" and treason to the sacred flag. The few are forced into silence and submission by threats of violence and torture. If anyone dares to say anything rational, or if he has the courage to set himself in opposition to the maddened current of popular opinion, he is mobbed by pious crowds and is persecuted by inquisitorial courts of justice. Such was the terrible state of the mediaeval crusade-mania. Such in fact is the state of every crusade-mania which seizes on the minds of nations in the long history of national mental epidemics. If any rational person during the crusade epidemic dared to speak a word of warning, the only answer of the hypnotized, entranced crusaders was the suggestion given by the pope: "He who will not follow Me is unworthy of Me." Such conscientious objectors, "sinners undeserving of Me," were usually wiped out by sword and fire.
If we ridicule the mediaeval crusade mania, let us compare it with what took place in our own times, in the first quarter of the twentieth century. At the outbreak of the war for the alleged defense of the Fatherland the excitement of militaristic mania in the central empires of Europe reached a formidable height. There were parades, processions, the carrying high of banners and flags, the preaching of hatred and singing of "Hass" and the patriotic national hymn—"Wundt, Haeckel, and Harnack were affected alike with the lowliest chimney-sweeps and craziest asylum inmates,—all cursed and threatened perfidious England and the treacherous allies, all were obsessed by the fervor of national defense of the imperilled Fatherland. The patriotic crusade of the Fatherland-defense did not spare anyone; the young and the old, the learned and the ignorant, the conservatives and the radicals, the capitalists, the workmen, and the international socialists were all alike affected by this terrible mental epidemic. If anyone happened by chance to escape the plague and give a word of warning he was promptly accused of disloyalty, interned, imprisoned, immured in a cell for years of torture. It seemed as if the insane asylums had opened wide their gates and let loose their populations to hold frenzied meetings, and parade the streets in processions of wild excitement with banner, flag, and drum for the salvation of the country. Thus a German medical eye-witness of all those militaristic orgies expressed himself in private: "The streets are now full of the unbalanced and the insane; this is their hour. . . . The war will afford a free arena for every instinct and every form of insanity."ueber Alles"; there were Leagues of Defense and Leagues of Security, and all sorts of societies for fighting the war to a finish and for winning the war. The plague did not spare scientists, philosophers, and theologians; such men as
Many of those parades and processions were at first staged and controlled by the ever present hands of the central government and the ruling classes. Then the highly virulent mental germs skillfully inoculated took a hold in the subconscious mind of European humanity; the disease developed rapidly, spread like wild fire, and raged unabated throughout the width and length of the central empires. This virulent epidemic soon spread to neighboring nations, and like its deadly associate, the influenza, reached the farthest corner of the habitable globe. In some nations there was a lull of 'neutrality,' the incubating period, followed by an ever rising temperature of popular excitement, breaking out in series of 'preparedness parades' occurring all over the country from imperial New York, the stockyards of Chicago, the mines and vineyards of California to towns, villages, and hamlets. At first social hypnotization was staged by organizers, leaders, and hypnotizers in the form of parades and processions with banners and flags, to the sound of drums and orations reverberated and magnified by the boom and thunder of the press. The hypnotization took effect, and the demon of the demons began to stir in the depths of the subconscious social self.
Repetition and impressive, persistent suggestion finally brought about a lodgement of the virus in almost every individual of the social aggregate. Neither the learned nor the ignorant could escape the pressure of social suggestion. The way they tumbled one after another or rather one over another as victims to the fatal influence should have been a study of the utmost interest to the student of Social Psychology. Lay, literary and scientific periodicals were full of war literature. Versifiers sang of "the blood-red glory cross of war" while soldiers and sailors made love not only in halls and on the streets, but also in all the best sellers and novelettes. All the posters, all the pictures of every journal in the land were full of war, magazines teeming with photographs of soldiers and sailors and the valorous deeds of the heroes at the front. Who could resist the pressure of insistent war-suggestion repeated day after day and month after month? There was no let up on Sundays and holidays. The pulpit thundered war, congregations sang battle-hymns.
Then came the great "saving" mania. Everything and everybody had to be saved. Circulars were distributed about saving and the war. One went to sleep with war pictures and illustrated circulars of a militaristic character, and woke up with visions of war illustrations. Everything had to be saved. Save Belgium, save the country, save Democracy, save your food, from potato peelings to the garbage can. The suggestion was irresistible, and the weak human spirit yielded and fell into a deep social trance from which the awakening could not but be one of disillusion. Meanwhile, the war literature, experiences of all kinds of colonels and generals and correspondents grew to enormous proportions. The dust raised by all that waste product which the country could have easily 'saved' blinded the eye and choked the breath. Everybody, young and old, fell to greedily reading the latest book on the war. Everybody was full of war, from the leader in society to the waiter in the club, from the leader in the paper to the wrapper round the grocery man's soap-box. Why wonder that when the air was full of the germs that the war malady spread like wild fire?
The populace became obsessed with a fury of war insanity, with craze of Victory-mania. Security leagues, unions, associations, clubs to promote and advance something or other of a patriotic character to help winning the war were formed all over the country. The enthusiasm of national excitement went far beyond the bounds desired by the government, such as the activities of The National Security League which denounced members of Congress for not being red-blooded Americans, or for not showing one hundred per cent. of Americanism, so that Congress in self-defense had to investigate and possibly suppress the activities of over zealous leagues. Leagues of all kinds of description grew up rapidly and luxuriantly like mushrooms after a rain. Everyone attempted to outshine his neighbor, every one had to outdo his friend in doing his bit to help win the war. Posts, poles, trees, walls, and windows were plastered and placarded with leaflets, bills, and signs for the defense of the nation and the glory of the country. Whoever happened to be skeptical, or not enthusiastic enough, was accused of being 'pro-German' and a spy, with consequences natural to such accusations. Every one tried to out-bawl his neighbor with declarations of loyalty, often of a spurious character.
The trance became deepened, the subconscious emotions of fear, anger, and aggression became more and more intensified, fanned as they were by the hot breath of propaganda and the bellows of the press, until the mass of the nation fairly quivered with the fever heat of enthusiasm and maniacal excitement, an overwhelming mass excitement which no individual could withstand. "Make the world safe for Democracy," "He who does not stand behind Me is disloyal and unworthy of Me" were slogans impressed on the subconscious mind of the public with all the suggestive force of law, press, bema, rostrum, pulpit, and movie, all waving on high old glory, calling crusaders to the battlefield of Democracy in honor of "Courage, Cooties, and Heroes," and for the glory of "the blood-red cross of War." Secretary Lansing has well summed up the general mental state in his appeal: "Let us, as loyal citizens of the Republic, serve in this mighty crusade against Prussianism." For such a mental state can only be paralleled by the crusade mania of the Middle Ages, the mania which cost Europe millions of men, killed and crippled, devastations of populations and countries, followed by the no less terrible epidemic of the Black Plague which ravaged Europe and Asia from end to end, with the destruction of half the human race.
The bestialization produced by war and militant patriotism came openly to the front with all the horrors of savagery, rapine, deportation, atrocities, and the inhuman slaughter of millions of human beings for the glory of the Fatherland and Kultur and for "the making of the world fit for Democracy." Groups of scientists vied with each other in their supply of infernal machines and chemical poisons for the wholesale slaughter of mankind. Poisons and poison-gases, more deadly than ever employed by savage man, poisons which even savages and barbarians scorned to use, were utilized triumphantly and jubilantly by Kultur and culture in their mad strife for supremacy. Man could not have fallen to a lower level of vice and depravity. The Aristotelian dictum was well justified in this strife of nations, in this ignoble world war: "A vicious man can do ten thousand times as much harm as a beast." The chivalrous motto of Alexander of Macedon "οὐ κλέπτω τὴν νίκην," was scorned by the generals of civilized nations. Atrocities of the most vicious kind were justified by the watchwords: "This is war!" "Might is Right." "Necessity knows no law." In this world-war nations fell to the lowest level of savagery. The frenzied, suggestible, gregarious, subconscious self, freed from all rational restraints, celebrated its delirious orgies, its corybantic bacchanalia, held its mad salto mortale over the grave of crucified humanity.
Our social status is a reversion to savagery of the most degenerate type, an atavistic lapse towards the paleolithic and eolithic man, only more brutal, because of the greater power for evil possessed by modern man. What Hun or Vandal ever dreamt of suchdestruction! Over three hundred billions wasted by war and depredation, about seventeen to twenty million men lost by slaughter and disease! The fame of God's scourges, Attila, Jenghiz Khan, Batu, and Tamerlane pales and fades before the glories of modern warfare. In a few years Kultur and culture have caused more ruin to humanity than all the invasions of the yellow peril in the history of mankind.
Some future historian in describing and estimating our times will place us below the moral level of the Bushmen, the Hottentots, the Todas, and the Australian savages. He may say: "Towards the end of the nineteenth and at the beginning of the twentieth century there took place a vast accumulation of wealth, due to a rapid development of applied science and practical arts. Instead, however, of improving their condition, European nations deteriorated intellectually and morally.
"Liberal education gave way to technical training. Science served on greed. Education became mechanical and military in character. The thinker gave way to the reporter, the scientist to the mechanic, the artist to the artisan, the genius to the Philistine. Industrial and commercial interests inspired by patriotism and chauvinism became the standard of nations. An insane frenzy of militarism obsessed the minds of men.
"The state enslaved the individual. Blind obedience became a virtue. Drill and discipline trained people into automatism of the subconscious with its abnormal suggestibility and extreme sensitivity to direct and indirect suggestions, intensified by brilliant parades, hypnotizing oratory, and by all the artifices of a militant chauvinistic press. Nations were thrown into a social trance, the subconscious came to the surface, yielded to the noxious suggestions, wriggled in hysterical convulsions of nationalism, became obsessed with the fury of homicidal mania, and plunged into the abyss of the world war with all its horrors and atrocities. Nations boasting of refinement and culture, of great achievements in philosophy and science and of general world 'Kultur' and culture broke treaties, attacked, destroyed, deported, and enslaved whole populations. Women and babes were drowned like rats in the middle of the ocean by sneaking submarines. Zeppelins and aeroplanes showered explosive missiles on defenceless people, on civilian populations. Nations gloried in such brutal acts. Every fiendish deed was greeted with an ever rising wave of patriotic enthusiasm. For such cowardly, inhuman, and diabolical acts, the craven miscreants were decorated and honored as heroes by their alleged superiors. Man could not have fallen to any lower level of vice and depravity.
"The very elements of nature were let loose for the ruin of nations. Man gloried in his fiendish, military, inventive power of depredation and destruction. Science supplied virus, venom, toxins, poison, gas, rifles, cannons, tanks, and long range guns. Hell was let loose on earth. Professors of philosophy and science carrying high the patriotic banner of Kultur and culture gloried in the system of compulsory, universal, military service, first made in Germany; they exulted in the degrading, vicious process of training by which the individual is hypnotized into submission to a brutal organization of military junkers, hallowed by the name of state and Fatherland. It was the darkest period in the history of mankind. Man was crazed with the lust of blood, frenzied with rapine and murder."
Such are the terrible consequences when in fear of attack or invasion the subconscious becomes awakened to its irrational self-defence by the impulse of self-preservation and the fear instinct. The prestige of the gregarious aggregate, the overwhelming awe and terror of the herd, mob, community, the loss of individuality in the mob and the crowd, along with the conditions favorable to a dissociation of the upper, reflective self from the suggestible, automatic, reflex subconsciousness go to form the main sources of all mental epidemics, scourges, plagues, panics, frenzies, and manias, political, religious, and military. With the increase in mass of the human aggregate the mob-energy grows like the momentum of an avalanche in its downward course. Witness the overwhelming migratory obsession of swarming multitudes of hordes of barbarians, an obsession akin to the uncontrollable, migratory instinct of birds, or of buffaloes, an obsession which has seized periodically on barbaric tribes, such as the migrations of Semites, Aryans in the early dawn of history, the Lust-Wanderung of Celts, Goths, Normans, and Germans, Huns, Mongols, Tartars in the early ages of our era; the flood of Arabs, obsessed with a fervor of military, religious mania; the Crusades of mediaeval European humanity, rolling waves after waves of crusaders in a fury of religious, delusional excitement, forcing their way towards the entrancing object, the grave of the Savior in Jerusalem; the bloody religious wars of the Reformation; the political revolutions in England and France with the terrible excesses of mob-rule; the mob spirit running riot in economical crisis, financial bubbles, industrial panics, religious revivals; Napoleonic wars; the recent exaltant, social mania of empire-building and world-dominion, infected by the most virulent pestilential germs of triumphant militaristic nationalism which first seized on the imperial aggregates of Central Germanic tribes, and spread like a virulent miasma to other nations, wafting its poisonous emanations across land and oceans, culminating in the worst world-epidemic,—the so called world-war.
The central and centralized, imperial governments, guided by the big interests of the country, induced in their unfortunate subjects this last pestilential epidemic of military mania by means of a persistent course of direct and indirect suggestion in which the conditions of normal and abnormal suggestibility were specially emphasized, laying bare the social subconscious, stimulating in it the fear of invasion and attack by neighboring nations, stirring up the impulse of self-preservation, rousing the entranced, hypnotized mind of the populace to a frenzy of self-defense, while the junkers, the officers, the soldiers, the professors, the journalists of the middle-classes were entranced with beatific visions of world-dominion. Nothing stirs so much to the very depths of its soul the poor, naked, irrational subconscious as self and fear. Nothing is so suggestive, so appealing to the social subconscious as fear and self which alone have the power to set society into intense excitement of maniacal fury.
With the growth of social institutions there is an ever increasing tendency towards formation of rigid rules and regulations for almost every step, for every act in all walks of life. Man's behavior is prescribed for every occasion of life. He is commanded by direct and indirect suggestion what to say and how to say it, what to do and how to do it, what to wear and how to dress, what to eat and drink and what manners to have at the table and in company, he is prescribed what to believe and what to think in fear of social condemnation and eternal damnation. Man is brow-beaten, leashed, muzzled, masked, and lashed by boards and councils, by leagues and societies, by church and state. Man is driven by orders and commands, rules and laws, customs and fashions. Man is crushed under the burden of statutes and terrorized by fear of taboos.
Aristotle takes it for granted that it is absurd and ludicrous to force a person to cure himself. He had no suspicion that many centuries later man will be forced into treatment by benevolent organizations, charity boards, philanthropic societies, hygienic and eugenic societies, boards of health, and municipal councils. In fear of disease and in the interest of his health man will be muzzled and masked like a vicious dog, and that without any murmur of complaint. Breathing freely will become a social offense, punished by fine and by jail in the communities of the free West. With a scanty supply of laws in Hellenic commonwealths or city states what an immense vista for an Aristotle, of that grand, complex, efficient machinery of law, turning out yearly thousands of laws and taboos for the paternalistic control and alleged welfare of the citizen! What a joy to watch our bureaucratic governments piling law on law fit for the waste basket and the scrap heap! Edicts, ordinances, regulations are issued by the thousands by states, cities, towns, boroughs, organizations, societies, associations, and leagues for all imaginary human ills. Society staggers under the burden of laws and taboos. Individuality is stifled by the endless, massive excretions of its lawgivers. Our lawgivers take special pride in the ever active manufacture of new bills and laws. Recently even the legislators begin to object to the labor involved in the work on the ever growing mass of bills, introduced into the legislature of one state alone. Thus a senator of a western state complained that in one year alone over seventeen hundred bills had to pass through the mill of his legislature. Multiply that figure by the number of states, add the municipal edicts, and the numerous laws turned out by the federal government, and one can form some faint idea of the vast burden laid on the shoulders of the individual citizen. It were well if the legislators were specially instructed by their constituencies that instead of piling bills upon bills and laws upon laws, like Pelion on Ossa, they should repeal as many as they can. At the present stage of "law-mania" the rational legislator would be far more useful if he made up his mind to devote his time and energy to the clearing of the Augean stables of law products. The overproduction of laws is one of the great evils of modern civilization.
In one of the ancient Greek republics he who wished to introduce a new law had to appear before the popular assembly with a rope around his neck, probably as an emblem of the hangman and the criminal. We have hardly made an improvement by shifting the rope to the neck of the helpless citizen. We may possibly be forced to come round to the ancient Greek practice by putting once more the rope round the neck of the legislator,—and tighten it too. Traditions, laws, taboos, statutes, commandments, rules, regulations, ordinances, manners, and fashions, all enacted by an inordinate philanthropic zeal for the good and improvement of society and race, press heavily on individuality and originality, forcing them down into the general mire of mediocrity. The home, the school, the church, the club, business, profession, trade, and union, all insist on strict, correct conformity to standard; all demand authoritatively implicit obedience and submission to rule and regulation.
The individual is so effectively trained by the pressure of taboo, based on self and fear, that he comes to love the yoke that weighs him down to earth. Chained to his bench, like a criminal galley slave, he comes to love his gyves and manacles. The iron collar put around his neck becomes a mark of respectability, an ornament of civilization. Tarde finds that society is based on respect, (respectability I should say), a sort of an alloy of fear and love, fear that is loved. A respectable citizen is he who is fond of his bonds, stocks, and shekels, and comes to love his bonds, stocks and shackles of fears and taboos. In fact, he attacks and fights those who wish to free him from his social, religious, and political fetters. Some criticize justly the militaristic regime with its heavy weight of obedience and strict discipline, pressing on the individual. What is the burden of militarism compared with the endless screw of the socio-static press ceaselessly and pitilessly forcing individuality into the narrow, crooked moulds of social mediocrity and respectable commonplace?
In "The Psychology of Suggestion" I pointed out an important law in Social Psychology, namely, that greatness of individuality is inversely proportional to the mass of the social aggregate. Great genius appeared not in the empire of Assyria, Babylonia, or Persia, but in the small city-states of Greece and Judea. It is not immense modern China that gives great men, but the small states of Chinese feudalism. This Law of Mass versus Individuality falls in line with my work on the subconscious and its conditions of dissociation: Limitation of Voluntary Activity, Monotony, and other conditions, requisite for the weakening and final disaggregation of the primary, upper self from the lower, subconscious self leave the latter bereft of control and critical sense.
This law may be modified under conditions in which the individual is given freedom and more scope than in societies hitherto known to us. In this respect we may agree with the great French psychologist, Ribot, who in reviewing my work thinks that the law admits of exceptions. Professor Ross, however, seems to adopt the law without any qualification: "It is perhaps the dwarfing pressure of numbers" he writes "that explains why vast populous societies seem to produce small individualities, whereas little societies permit great men to arise. Compare great homogeneous aggregations, such as Egypt, China, Persia, Babylonia, India, with the diminutive communities of Judea, the Greek city-states, the Italian cities of the Middle Ages, the free towns of mediaeval Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland, and Switzerland."
However the case may be with societies under widely different conditions of development the law of mass and individuality holds true of the social facts known to us. The law is of far greater importance than the psychologist and sociologist are inclined to admit. It is certainly important to remember this law when dealing with social progress. The individual is getting dwarfed and stunted in proportion as the social aggregate is getting larger and more organized. The larger the empire the more dwindles the mind of the citizen. This is especially true of empires formed by conquest in which the individual is reduced by military discipline to the rôle of an automaton, where the automatic subconscious is alone cultivated and is in direct relation with the external world, with the commands, orders, suggestions given to him by his superiors. Such empires soon crumble, sometimes in the life time of a single generation. The empire of Alexander Macedon, the empire of Charlemagne, the empires of Djenghis Khan and Tamerlane; in modern times the empire of Napoleon, the Russian and Ottoman empires are good illustrations.
The insecurity, the instability of militaristic empires is brought out strongly in aggregates held by force for a few generations: the catastrophe of the empire. The empire falls at one blow, and is gone forever. The Assyrian, the Persian, the Carthaginian in ancient times, the Austrian, the German, the Russian empire in our own times are cases in point. The empires go to pieces, they crumble into dust. From a superficial standpoint it may be said that an empire upheld by the sword perishes by the sword. This, however, is not the full truth. A deeper insight discloses the fact that the spirit of the empire-building citizen has been dead long before the final collapse. In fact it is this death of individuality that is the real cause of the fall of the empire.
The fall of the empire is sometimes so sudden and so complete, and the spirit of individuality before its departure is so small and dwarfed, that no spirit is left to transmit the history of the imperial achievements. When a couple of centuries after the fall of the mighty Assyrian empire Xenophon passed the ruins of the once Nineveh the great, the capital of Assyria, the terror of nations, he was unable even to find out its name. Assyria was wiped out from the memory of man as if it had never existed. If it were not for Greek accounts, what would have been left of the great Persian empire, but a few ruins and inscriptions on the rock of Behistan? If it were not for modern excavations the very name of Assyria would have been like a dream of the past, long gone and forgotten. What would have been left of the Carthaginian empire, if not for the Greek and Roman historians? Those empires passed away at one single blow, and with the sudden collapse vanished all the glory of imperial power. But long before that fall the real glory had departed,—the glory of the individual. Empires may often look grand and magnificent, but they are built with poor material,—with small men and petty minds. Military aggregates or societies, held together by the sword are doomed to dissolution at the moment of their birth. The destruction is not due so much to luxury and effeminacy, as is usually assumed, but to the dwarfing and suppression of the spirit of the free, living individuality which alone constitutes the active nucleus of social life.
With the growth of the social aggregate, social structure and functions become varied, differentiated, and rigid; social pressure increases, while individuality and originality are ever on the decrease, sinking to a uniform level of dead mediocrity and commonplace. There is limitation of the field of consciousness, limitation of voluntary activity, monotony, routine, and inhibitions, all growing with the increase of mass, structure, and social pressure on individual units. With the progressive intensification of these conditions the personal, critical consciousness gets more and more dissociated from the impersonal, automatic, reflex subconscious, and becomes subject to all sorts of absurd suggestions. If now some brilliant object fixes the involuntary attention of the subconscious mind of the social aggregate, the mental energy of the constituent units, becoming polarized, turning in one direction, develops a momentum, uncontrollable and overwhelming in its disastrous effects,—the subconscious self becomes the luckless hysterical actor in all the vulgar farces and horrible tragedies of historical life.
Great empires, becoming gradually bureaucratized, institutionalized, differentiated, and ossified, carry within them the germs of decay and death. The growth of nations has, until the present time, been associated with a predominance of rigid structure over living function. When such lines and forms of organic development prevail, the individual, as the cell of the body, becomes soon senescent, drifting inevitably into age, decay, and death. The great biologist and embryologist, Professor Minot, describes this downward course of organic evolution, as the Law of Genetic Restriction: "The development runs in one direction, and ends in the production of structure, which, if it is pursued to its legitimate terminus, results in degeneration and death." Societies, developing on lines of organic growth, follow the Law of Genetic Restriction. The individual unit is more and more restricted to the narrow lines of growth of differentiation and specialization in which the individual is sacrificed to society and the state, and generally to the progressive development of the social organism, as the phrase runs. Such societies, from the very nature of the course taken by their evolution, tend towards decay, death, and final dissolution. Just as the process of , or cell development, in the evolution of the organism leads to an increase of cytoplasm with formation of rigid connective tissue and fibre, with a corresponding decrease of nucleoplasm, the ever living font of life and youth, the process ending in dissolution of both the cell and the organism, so the process undergone by the individual in social organic evolution by a gradual reduction of the living personality and predominance of the subconscious with its rigid Byzantine institutionalism and formalism results in destruction of individuality, corruption, and dissolution of society.
With the increase of social pressure on the individual, with the ever rising power of restriction of freedom of thought and expression, and loss of liberty of manifestation of originality and initiative due to an ever greater amount of legislation and regulation of the minutiae of individual life, true social progress diminishes, comes to a standstill, ending in decline, decay, and ruin. Society is doomed to an ignominous death as soon as the connective tissue of institutions and the ossified material of officialdom with its rank growth of unyielding red tape and formalism begin to spread, choking, and strangling the free, personal life of the individual. The ancient Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Roman, Byzantine, Arabian, Chinese empires, and in modern times the sudden collapse of the French, Russian, German, and Austrian empires warn us, by example, of what happens to nations, in spite of all their external splendor and apparent manifestations of greatness, when the private individual becomes restricted in thought and act by narrow, mean specialization, mean formalism, monotony of lines of action due to a legalized mesh of fibrinous tissue in a hypertrophied, cartilagenous, ossified structure of organized, and classified, governmental officialdom. History is strewn with the ruins of empires and with the remains of once living social organisms, because in the eagerness to build massive, rigid, and stable structures, the individual units became so bound and cemented by official tissue that paralysis of personal activities ensued. The whole social structure became decayed, and was finally destroyed by less organized, but more youthful societies in which the individual units were still vital, still having free scope for the manifestation of their energies. Brilliant as were those empires, magnificent as those social structures were to the external observer, they were rotten with corruption and decay, and were doomed to perish at the hands of the less advanced, more backward, but more vigorous tribes who were still alive with the living, nuclear energies of the individual.
In his description of the degenerate Byzantine Greeks Ribot tells us that their geniuses were mediocrities and their great men commonplace personalities. It was the cultivation of before the coming storm. When the storm comes the imperial edifice collapses in a chaos of ruins.thought and the freedom of individuality that awakened the Greek mind to its achievements in art, science, and philosophy; it was the deadening Byzantine bureaucracy with its cut and dried theological discipline that dried up the sources of Greek genius. Society is on its downward course when it is building up a Byzantine empire with large institutions, immense organizations, and big corporations, but with small minds and dwarfed individualities. It is a sure symptom of social degeneration when administration is valued above individuality and official ceremonialism above originality. When the free soul of the individual is gone, the social organism gives up the ghost, and at best remains as an embalmed corpse, a warning to men in their craving for imperialism and their efforts at empire-building at the expense of the living, thinking individual. Imperial pomp is bought with the life-blood of man. Vain is imperial glory; for it is the symptom of disease and death of the social organism, grown fat with the lives of men. Society never appears so brilliant as when the end is nigh. It is like the dead lull
The best and most precious treasure of humanity is the free, independent personal life of the individual. More than twenty-three centuries ago Aristotle, one of the greatest thinkers of humanity, made some important generalizations on the nature of man and society, generalizations the full significance of which have not been fully appreciated. His work was based on extensive studies of the great variety of Hellenic societies and their diversity of constitutions. It may be appropriate to quote here some of his statements:
"That form of social constitution is best in which every man is best, whoever he may be, and can act for the best, and live happily. Happiness is virtuous activity. The active life of thought (as we put it, the active life of the upper, critical consciousness) is the best for man and the citizen. Happiness is activity, and the actions of the wise and the just (not the present business ideal of specialization, vocational, technical, professional or business efficiency of the greatest amount of marketable articles and luxuries) are the realization of what is good and noble. Not that a life of action must necessarily have a relation to other men (extolled at present, such as charitable, philanthropic, political, commercial, industrial, military, social) as some persons think, but much more the thoughts and contemplation which are free, independent, and complete in themselves. To man the life according to intellect is pleasant and best,—intellect constituting the essential nature of man." In other words, under a good constitution the upper, critical, rational, controlling consciousness should be cultivated both for the happiness of the individual and the general welfare of the community. "Happiness" Aristotle tells us "is self-rule, self-government." Man should not be ruled, but self-ruled: ἡ εὐδαιμονΐα τῶν αὐτάρχων ἐστί. "Man should not be brought up for business or for work as an end in itself, but for leisure. . . . For it is specially disgraceful to have such a poor education as to manifest excellent qualities in times of work and stress, but in the enjoyment of leisure to be no better than a slave. For it is not in the nature of a free man (a cultured man as we would put at present) to be always seeking after the useful. Education should be with a view to the enjoyment of leisure. I must repeat once and again the first principle of all action is leisure. Both are required, but leisure is better than occupation. Society should take care of the education of the individual on right principles. In most societies, however, good education on right principles is neglected, the people do as the Cyclops:
- Each rules his race, his neighbor not his care
- Heedless of others, to his own severe.
Society is not a community of living beings only (for the sake of making a living as we would say, for the sake of work and trade), society is a community of equals, aiming at the best life possible for each individual citizen. . . . Now in man reason is the end after which nature strives, so that the education of the citizen (in a good community under a good constitution) should be with a view to that end, namely, the cultivation of the mind, more especially of reason."
Thus Psychology, Sociology, and History go to confirm the principle that in a well ordered and progressive community the end, the telos, is the culture of the individual, a culture based on the cultivation of the rational mind, or the cultivation of the upper, controlling, critical, personal consciousness of the individual citizen; the welfare of the community being not imperial grandeur of war and trade, empire-building of the military Macedonian type, but entirely and solely the development of man and the happiness of each individual citizen. The true aim of progress is not a beautifully organized bureaucracy with well organized departments for all walks of life in some great capital, adorned by pomp and display, or by ostentation of wealth and luxuries, but the simple, happy life of a highly cultured citizen. Protagoras' dictum: πάντων μέτρον ἄνθρωπος Aristotle modifies into: πάντων μέτρον ἄνθρωπος ἀγαθός. It is not man, as Protagoras claims, but the good man who is the measure of everything. It is not the citizen as a taxpayer, or voter, or office-holder, but the cultivated, free individual who is the true aim of all social progress.
This type of society, described by Aristotle as the result of his profound studies of various forms of social life, this type of society after which humanity strives in all its social metamorphoses, discarding one form after another as crude and inadequate for the purpose of a good social life, this type has for its sole object not the structure of society, the welfare of great institutions and the building of vast empires, but solely the highest development of the free, cultivated individual. Such a type of society the sole object of which is the happiness and cultivation of Man may be characterized as functional, or humanistic, based on the principle that in the universe there is nothing greater than Man, and in Man there is nothing greater than Mind, or Reason. Societies whose object is the organization of a strong, centralized structure, the State, with its empire-building tendencies at the expense of life and liberty of the individual components may, from their nature, be characterized as organic, or structural.
In societies of the structural organic type centralization and organization with hypertrophy of structure are above rationalization and individualization with an ever greater tendency to cleavage of the conscious self from the subconscious self. Roughly classified, civilized, structural, organic societies may be theocratic, aristocratic, timocratic and democratic. In theocratic societies, the priests representing the conscious activity, usurp the government, such as in Egypt and India. In aristocratic societies the nobility of birth and wealth, representing the intelligence of the people, assume the rôle of social control, while the rest of the population are kept in bondage and ignorance. Such conditions are found in many Greek states, in the Roman state, and in the societies of the Middle Ages, as well as in the states of modern Europe before the revolutions, in England, Germany, France, Russia, and Austria-Hungary. In timocratic societies the rich, or propertied classes represent the conscious control, relegating the other classes to the regions of the passive subconscious. In democratic societies of modern times the power is in the hands of the people, really dominated by the middle classes, business men, professionals, labor aristocracy and their leaders who possess control of the masses which form the subconscious strata of social life activities. Thus throughout the forms and history of structural, organic societies there is present a cleavage of the conscious from the subconscious,—the conscious control of classes as against the subconscious activities of the masses.
Classes versus Masses may be characterized as the main cleavage of organic societies. That is why the whole history of humanity which, until our present times presents the evolution of societies, associations, and generally of social aggregates, based on structural organic lines, is full of conflicts of classes and masses. History is full of struggles of the powers of the conscious classes with the subconscious forces of the masses. This massive subconsciousness, predominating in the type of organic societies, gives to the society as a whole the psychological tone of the subconsciousness, the character of which is suggestibility, normal and abnormal, subject to the nature, conditions, and laws of subconscious trance states. In other words the plane of cleavage in structural organic societies is along the lines of the conscious and the subconscious with consequent dissociation of the two. Hence, the ever present danger of predominance of abnormal suggestibility, and precipitation in a general state of social hypnosis. Social suggestibility and social somnambulism form the main traits of structural, organic societies.
From this standpoint we may well understand why Tarde and many other sociologists lay so much stress on social imitation and even somnambulism as the very nature of society; for imitation is but another term for what may be more fundamentally described as suggestibility.
As a matter of fact when the great sociologist, Tarde, comes to examine more closely the basis of social imitation, he falls back on social hypnotization as the nature of social life. This social hypnotization, as we have found, depends on the stage of the social dissociation of the upper, controlling self from the lower, suggestible, subconscious self, or mass-subconsciousness. "The social, like the hypnotic state" writes Tarde "is only a form of dream (Tarde should rather say trance-state), a dream of command and a dream of action. Both the somnambulist and the social man are possessed by the illusion that their ideas, all of which have been suggested to them, are spontaneous. . . . Because this magnetization (or hypnotization) has become more general or mutual we err in flattering ourselves that we have become less credulous and docile, less imitative than our ancestors. This is a fallacy, and we shall have to rid ourselves of it." Tarde comes to the conclusion that "Society is imitation, and imitation is a kind of somnambulism." There is a good deal of truth in Tarde's view of social life. What Tarde does not realize is the fact that his generalization holds true only of organically constituted societies, but not of all societies, and it is certainly not true of humanistic communities. Tarde's sociological generalization is but part of the truth. The definition of society in terms of hypnotization or somnambulism holds true of societies in which social dissociation is present. In other words, in structural, organic societies there is a weakening, or lack of development, or inhibition of the upper, critical self from the lower suggestible self with the consequent manifestation of subconscious elements and predominance of subconscious activities. This condition, as we have pointed out, and which cannot be emphasized too much on account of its importance, holds good in most, if not all societies, known to us from history, societies in which the organic, institutional structure of centralization predominated over the freedom of individual activity and the critical independence of personality.
Where social life runs in moulds, hardened by civilization or specialization, crystallized in caste, class, group, league, and various other organizations of a highly complex structure, there the social aggregate tends to develop more and more connective tissue fibre of the inactive, supporting type. This gradually crowds out the living elements, smothers the individual units, paralyzes the activities of the upper self with its controlling, rational consciousness, leaving exposed the lower, automatic consciousness with its characteristic abnormal suggestibility and docility to the stimuli and suggestions, coming from the external environment, and results in a permanent state of trance hypnosis, subject to all forms of gregarious plagues and mental epidemics. For all organic societies are based on subconscious activities which are but feebly held in check by a weak-minded upper self. Such human aggregates run wild in fads, crazes, manias, epidemics, plagues, mobs, riots, wars, without in the least making any real progress or in the least improving their wretched social state. It is not the humanistic type of society, but the organic, subconscious type of society which is the suggestible victim and miserable subject of hypnotization.
The fate of organic aggregates is sealed from the very start of their career. Organic societies, if left to themselves, may become stationary, or static, as it is sometimes termed, stagnating for centuries, like Egypt, India, China, and Byzantium, until destroyed by the onset of a young, vigorous society in which the structural elements have not yet gone far in their development, the living individual elements having still retained their social vitality and independent upper, personal consciousness, so that the social self has not yet sunk into the decadent, massive, subconscious with its characteristic abnormal suggestibility, and its hypnotic trance state. This young aggressive aggregate, once it has taken the course of organic, social development is, in its turn doomed to a similar fate. The ancient Babylonian and Hittite empires were destroyed by the Assyrian, the Assyrian and Egyptian empires by the Persian, the vast Persian empire by the Macedonian. After undergoing a process of segmentation the Macedonian empire succumbed to the iron grip of the Roman imperial rule. The Roman empire in its turn underwent a process of segmentation, in the western and eastern portion. The western portion fell a prey to the Germanic barbarians, while the eastern, the Byzantine empire, remained for centuries in a state of ossification, until destroyed by the onslaught of the Turks.
In modern times we witnessed the fall of the Chinese empire at the hands of the Japanese, the great crash of the mighty Russian and structurally well organized German empire, along with Austro-Hungarian and Turkish empires, all falling together into heaps of ruins in the great hurricane of the world war.
As long as societies choose the course of organic growth, of differentiation and specialization, becoming more and more inflexible, unyielding, and rigid, developing an hypertrophy of social connective tissue—laws, regulations, ordinances, commands, commandments, rites, ceremonies, formalities, and all sorts of prohibitions and taboos, and becoming crystallized into leagues, associations, and organizations with their respective constitutions, rules, and by-rules, all tending to stifle and smother the individual consciousness, so long will society be doomed to a state of subconscious activity with a predisposition to social somnambulism, getting, in consequence, afflicted with various forms of social diseases, often malignant in character, subject to riots, mobs, mental epidemics, crazes, and war-manias, and if not reformed by some radical revolution into a humanistic social type, ending in decay and death. Complexity of social organization is accompanied by a corresponding diminution of vitality and ultimate loss of life of the social aggregate. As Professor Minot tersely puts it: "With complication of organization the cells lose something of their vitality, something of their possibilities of perpetuation; and as the organization of cells becomes higher and higher (that is more differentiated), this necessity for change (differentiation and organization) becomes more and more imperative. But it involves the end. Differentiation leads up to its inevitable conclusion—to death." A social aggregate which has chosen the fatal path of organic evolution must succumb to the same law of organic development to which all organisms are subject, namely greater and greater organization, increase of structure, greater differentiation, decrease of critical, personal, consciousness, loss of individual liberty, increased activity of the subconscious forces, falling into a state of somnambulism which can only be redeemed by revolution or by death.
A chronological table will show the uninterrupted chain of European mental epidemics:
|1000 to 1095|
Crusade epidemic, Eastern and Western Crusades
|1095 to 1270|
|1095 to 1270|
|1260 to 1348|
Black Death and Antisemitic mania
St. John's dance
St. Vitus' dance
To the end of the fifteenth century.
Demonophobia, or witchcraft mania
To the end of the seventeenth century.
The Hundred years' War
|1338 to 1453|
The Wars of the Roses
|1455 to 1485|
The Hundred Years of Religious Wars
The Huguenot Wars
|1562 to 1629|
The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day
The Thirty Years' War
|1618 to 1648|
The War of Austrian Succession
|1740 to 1748|
The Seven Years' War
|1756 to 1763|
The French Revolution and
|1789 to 1815|
The Napoleonic Wars
The Imperialistic wars of modern times throughout the nineteenth century and ending with the catastrophe of the world war
|1914 to 1919|
Bringing about the fall of the Russian, Turkish, Austrian, and German empires.
The South Sea Bubble
And business bubbles to our own time. The speculative mania running a career from the highest excitement of business-revival, ending in a crisis of business depression in a cycle of ten years.
If society is to progress on a truly humanistic basis, without being subject to mental epidemics and virulent social diseases to which the subconscious falls an easy victim, the personal consciousness of every individual should be cultivated to the highest degree possible. Every phase of individuality and originality, no matter how eccentric, should not only be tolerated, but jealously guarded and protected from all assaults and oppressions. All manifestations of individuality and personality, no matter how opposed to our notions and foreign to all our tastes, ideas, beliefs and feelings, should be carefully left to grow and develop without any inhibitions, prohibitions, and punishments, nor branded by social custom and law as "dangerous, seditious, and subversive of the welfare of the state," should not be oppressed and persecuted by organized society and scourged by the scorpions of law and order. We must revert to the Hellenic ideal of a good citizen in a good society as expressed by Thucydides in the person of the greatest of statesmen, Pericles, and clearly stated by the greatest of thinkers, Aristotle: "The full development of a free individuality in a community of equals, aiming at the best life of each individual citizen."
By its famous proclamation that "All men are equals, and are, endowed with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" the American Declaration of Independence has made a long step in the direction of the true progress of humanity. The framers of the American Constitution have without any qualifications, whether peace or war, declared the most fundamental elements, requisite for the development of a well-ordered, civilized society by proclaiming in the very first article of the amendments to the Constitution that: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." This is a fundamental limitation of congressional powers.
We must say to the credit of the American Congress that never in its history has it attempted to transgress this important right claimed by the Constitution, namely the freedom of speech, liberty of press, and freedom of popular assembly for the redress of grievances. It is certainly to the credit of Congress that no matter under what circumstances, peace or war, it guards jealously over this important right of the individual, freedom of expression in word, in speech, in press, and in assembly. The heroes of the American Revolution fought and died in their struggle with English rule that Liberty should live in the American colonies, in the states of the Union. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Congress, in defending the fundamental rights of the people, is ever vigilant that this right of freedom of word, press, and assembly should not for a moment pass from the people which they represent. Congress sees to it that the humblest person in the land should enjoy this right under all circumstances, war or peace. No post-master, no censor, no attorney-general is permitted for a moment even to meddle with the inalienable right of expressing one's opinion, whether by spoken or by written word, as to the course of public affairs. Congress watches closely over all agencies that no law should be passed and enforced which should in any way interfere with the freedom of the individual and the liberty of speech, press, and assembly which are at the basis of the free American institutions. Not a single paper, not a single pamphlet was ever excluded from the mails, not a single person was ever brought before the courts, nor was any person ever sentenced to jail, nor even fined for freely expressing his opinion, in press or in word, no matter how damning they may be or antagonistic to the laws of that centralized, legislating body. Well may Congress be congratulated for realizing its mission, not passing any oriental, monarchial espionage laws that might in the least rob the individual of his inalienable right to liberty of expression in speech, in print, or assembly. Congress is the guardian spirit of American liberty, seeing to it that not a single law is enacted that may possibly prevent anyone giving his opinion freely in public. Congress is the guardian spirit of the country. Every person, however humble, and no matter what his opinion may be, is given full freedom of expression as demanded by the Constitution. For Congress, as the bearer of the spirit of the Constitution, fully realizes that no civilized society may for a moment relinquish this great right of freedom of individuality and liberty of thought and expression by word, by press, and by assembly without sinking into a state of barbarism. Whether we stand at Armageddon and battle for 'the Lord', whether we fight for the ideal, or sit in the council of the great to make a world of empires fit for democracy, this liberty is like a sacred fire, jealously guarded, like a beacon shining on a hill for the humblest person in the land. For Congress in its anxiety to preserve the word and spirit of the Constitution fully realizes that freedom of individuality and liberty of expression in speech, press, assembly, being the basis of human progress, should be guarded and even specially cultivated before all else, by all well-ordered, progressive commonwealths.
No man is so low as to deserve oppression, no opinion is so mean as to merit suppression. As we look back to the history of the human race we almost invariably find that all fundamental changes of human life may be traced in their origin to some one individual or group of men, often obscure and humble, whose opinions were regarded as antisocial and dangerous, on account of their extreme radicalism and deviation from the conventional traditions, customs, and beliefs. The Hebrew prophets who set justice above the Hebrew nation, and put righteousness above patriotism which was preached by the false prophets of that time, claiming loyalty to nationalism, were just the few men who dared to give expression to the small, still voice of human consciousness and conscience, and as such were the true bearers of human progress. These great harbingers of human justice were hunted and persecuted unto death by the false patriotic prophets who put loyalty to Israel and Judah above loyalty to humanity. The true country of the prophets was not soil, but soul. Their countrymen were the just and the righteous of the earth.
What man would have dared even in our modern times of free speech and free press, what man would have dared to claim the prophesy of Hosea: "Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men. Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled. . . . As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird. . . . Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, that there shall not be a man left. . . . Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit. . . . My God will cast them away. . . . They shall be wanderers among nations." Such words are not only unpatriotic, but they are also "seditious." When the Assyrian threatened the national integrity of Judah, Isaiah carried to his nation the following message: "Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievances which they have prescribed; to turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless! . . . O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the street." . . . Is not it a clear case of "sedition ?" Is it not "giving aid and comfort to the enemy?"
When again the shadow of the later Babylonian empire fell on the small kingdoms of Asia minor, and the Jewish state was in imminent danger of destruction, Jeremiah had the courage of proclaiming the patriotic prophets false. The true message to his nation was total national collapse which he claimed they fully deserved: "Lo, I will bring a nation against you from afar, O house of Israel, it is a mighty nation. . . . And they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread, which thy sons, and thy daughters should eat; they shall eat up thy flocks; they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees; they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst, with the sword. . . . And the carcasses of the people shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth." Even when the Chaldeans besieged the Jewish capital, Jeremiah declared to the king: "Thus saith the Lord; Behold I will turn back the weapons in your hands wherewith you fight against the Chaldeans which besiege you, and I will assemble them into the midst of this city. And I myself will fight against you. . . . And I will smite the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast; they shall die of a great pestilence." These are not patriotic speeches. From our standpoint they are not only full of sedition, but of the worst form of treason. Still it was Jeremiah who proved in the right, and the false prophets of nationalism and patriotism in the wrong. This is the soul of the prophet's burden: Justice is above my nation, and righteousness above my people.
The prophets were but few individuals among nations and tribes, vibrant with nationalism of the narrowest type, but it was just these few chosen spirits and not the multitude of false patriots who gave voice to the tendencies of true human progress. The prophets were seized by the authorities, sentenced, mobbed, tormented, and killed, but their spirit lived, while kingdoms succumbed, empires vanished, and nations perished. The acts and decrees of the great Assyrian, Egyptian, Babylonian, and Persian monarchs lie buried in the ruins and dust of their once magnificent palaces, but the living words of the few humble men, the prophets, ring loud and true across the gulf of ages. Insignificant as those men might have been in the courts of a Sargon, Tiglath-Pileser, Esarhaddon, Cyrus, and Darius, it was none-the-less those lowly men who stood for human progress, and transmitted to humanity the precious treasures of human ideals.
The Gospel of Christ and his apostles ran counter to all Jewish tradition as represented by the Pharisees and Sadducees. Christianity conflicted with the imperial patriotism of the Romans. Cruel persecutions followed. The great historian, Tacitus, regarded the Christians with horror as we do anarchists and Bolsheviki, and he branded them as "the enemies of the human race." The mild Pliny in his report to emperor Trajan considers the Christians as deserving of punishments from a purely civic principle of subduing the obstinate and the obdurate. A quotation from Pliny's correspondence is both interesting and instructive as a warning to our own times: "The method I have observed," Pliny, as Governor of the province of Bythinia, reports to emperor Trajan "towards those who have been brought before me as Christians is this: I asked them whether they were Christians; if they admitted it, I repeated the question twice, and threatened them with punishment. If they persisted, I ordered them at once to be punished. For I was persuaded, whatever the nature of their opinions might be, a contumacious and inflexible obstinacy certainly deserved correction. . . . According to your commands, I forbade the meetings of any (Christian) assemblies. . . . I judged it necessary to endeavor to obtain the real truth, by putting two female slaves to torture, who were said to officiate in their religious rites, but all I could discover was evidence of an absurd and extravagant superstition. I deemed it expedient to adjourn all further proceedings in order to consult you. For it appears to me a matter highly deserving your consideration, more especially as great numbers must be involved in the danger of these persecutions. . . . In fact, this contagious superstition is not confined to the cities only, but has spread its infection among neighboring villages and country. Nevertheless, it still seems possible to restrain its progress." Pliny's opinion was the mildest statement made by a Roman official on the character of the despised Christians.
As the Christians grew in numbers they were no longer regarded in the light of superstitious, misguided people, but as people who were dangerous to the foundations and pillars of society. The Christians were accused of being cannibalistic, ghoulish in their religious services; it was charged that at their secret meetings they drank the blood of children as a sacrament, that they consumed the flesh of human victims as a sacrosanct piaculum, that they were drunk with human blood, and generally rejoiced in offering theanthropic victims to Christ, a crucified, criminal Jew. The Christians were abandoned criminals and degenerates who hated mankind, who delighted in excess, in ruin and destruction of civilization. The Christians were accused of crimes more heinous and nefarious than those brought at present against anarchists, Bolsheviki, and I. W. W. Incendiary crimes in large cities throughout the empire, conflagrations in Rome, robberies, incest, foul murders of men, women, and children for sacrificial purposes were charged against those inhuman Christians who consorted with slaves and with criminals of the most abject and depraved kind, belonging to the Spartacus group, full of sedition and treason, conspiring for the overthrow of the Roman government, and undermining the most sacred foundations of human life.
The writers of the day could not find words abusive enough to express the villainy and depravity of those Christian vipers who breathe poison and hatred for the human race, those Christian deniers of Gods and of all things divine, those cannibal atheists who delighted in the seduction of poor, ignorant, misguided slaves, those Christians who entertained the absurd superstitions of that degraded and debased, and abject race, the Jews, the Gypsies of the Roman world, those Christians who delighted in the desecration of all that is true, good, and beautiful, who enjoyed the profanation of all that is pure and holy in man. Christianity was a plague which threatened with infection the body-politic and with pollution the very sources of society, a fatal scourge that surely tended towards dissolution of all ties, sacred to family, society, and humanity. Christians were moral lepers. No punishment, no torture was adequate for such fiends in human shape. Such were the terrible charges brought against the Christians, accusations circulated among the populace by writers, by reliable witnesses, government agents, informers, professional spies and detectives, and by respectable citizens. The Christians were "the enemies of the human race," the sworn foes of all law and order, and as such, they were hunted by police, by the populace, they were mobbed, jailed, deported, impaled, crucified, thrown to wild beasts on the arena, or hanged as flaming torches in the public parks or in Caesar's gardens for the amusement of the people. Even the imperial, ethical philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, joined in the hunting down of "the superstitious" and dangerous Christians.
Pliny's assurance that the spread of Christianity could be stayed was not realized. Christianity could not be stayed by the force of edict and persecution. Christ and his small band of disciples triumphed; lowly and ignorant as they appeared to the haughty Roman patricians, mean as the Christians appeared to the aristocratic Sadducees and the learned doctors of the law, because Christianity originated among the poor and the lowly, the slaves and day-laborers, carpenters and fishermen, still it was just these few individuals who really constituted the advance guard of true human progress. What Tacitus, Pliny, Marcus Aurelius with all their culture deemed "an absurd and extravagant superstition, a contagion and infection" turned out to be the beacon light of humanity. Those whom the great Romans regarded as "the enemies of the human race" we, who have the advantage of historical perspective, now glorify as saintly martyrs who have given their lives for the highest principles of humanity. The stone which the builders neglected hath become the corner stone.
No opinion should be disdained and scorned. No individuality should be suppressed and crushed. The manifestation of individuality andshould in every well-ordered and progressive community not be persecuted, but on the contrary it should be cherished, protected, and cultivated as the fons et origo of civilization and human progress.
If we wish social life not to become stationary and stagnant, we should give free scope to all individuality and originality, no matter how eccentric they may seem to us. We should allow free play to all opinions, doctrines, and expressions of human thought, no matter how absurd and contagious the superstitions may appear to us. New ideas, ideals, and beliefs should not be persecuted but should rather be left for discussion and criticism, because we should not assume that we are in possession of the whole truth, and that no further advance is possible. We may learn from other people who look at the world from a different angle, and thus may be able to see things in a different light which may either add to the truth which we already possess, or may even transform it by some new additional element or principle which at first may appear to us as bizarre and paradoxical.
Even such simple sciences as Geometry, Physics, and Astronomy were revolutionized by principles which appeared quite absurd and paradoxical to the learned profession. What was more absurd to an Egyptian Ahmes than the assumptions of surfaces without thickness, of lines without breadth, and of points without any dimensions whatever? The principle of inertia appeared in opposition to the commonsense of antiquity. Heavenly bodies must have the support of crystal spheres, the assumption that they revolve in space without any support seemed absurd. The assumption by Newton that the force of attraction is transmitted through space instantaneously and without any known medium appeared paradoxical even to such a mind as Leibnitz. It was not long ago when a well known professor in Physics in one of the greatest universities thought that there was not any more original work to be accomplished in the domain of physical science. Then came the Roentgen X-ray and the radio-active forces which have revolutionized science. A physicist of high standing confessed to me that when rumors of the X-ray properties and of radioactive forces began to circulate in the papers as miracles of science, he sat down to write a series of scientific papers on the "extravagant superstitions" of the X-ray and radium. The existence of antipodes was a standing joke and an example of absurdity among the scientists of antiquity. When discovered the law of conservation of energy every scientific journal refused to publish his work, and the great discoverer died of a broken heart in a sanitarium. Ohm lost his position when he discovered his great law of electricity. Dr. Jenner lost his practice when he gave to the world his method of vaccination. These instances can be multiplied indefinitely. Men hate new ideas of a radical character and are terrified by radical innovations in practice, especially when the innovations are of a political, and more so when of a social, religious, or economic nature. It is told that a workman came to one of the Roman emperors, Trajan or Hadrian, with a newly discovered metal that looked just like silver. The emperor had the inventor arrested and had him beheaded, fearing that the new metal might undermine the silver currency of the empire. While we rarely deal out such rewards to inventors and discoverers, any new ideas of a radical or revolutionary character are still met with social ostracism and governmental persecution. This rooted tendency of disapprobation of new ideas and innovations as generally bad and harmful is well illustrated by the remark of a Chinese sage, in Confucius' Analects: "Nang-kung Kwoh, who was consulting Confucius, observed respecting I, the skillful archer, and Ngau who could propel a boat on dry land, that neither of them died a natural death; while Yu and Tsih, who with their own hands had labored at husbandry, came to wield imperial sway." This Chinese remark clearly reveals the fear not only of innovations, but also the fear of all originality, talent, and genius. The unusual individual comes to an untimely end. And the time was when the unusual was shunned as a plague, and the unusual individual was actually put to death.
The value of freedom of opinion is by no means lessened even if the given opinion or examination turns out to be wholly false. For the true value of an opinion is not so much in its truth as in its freedom. In our search for truth we should be anxious for every ray of light that might possibly elucidate the subject from a different angle. The failure of the opinion in actually finding such an angle does not matter, more important is the open-mindedness which the free thinking man should constantly maintain. We must have as many opinions as possible to select from, true or false, or only partly so, and use our critical selective sense. The keeping alive of this critical selective sense is of the highest moment in man's rational life activity. In the rational equipment of the human mind it is of the utmost consequence to keep the edge of the critical sense bright and keen. In the course of examination of some new opinion which may afterwards be rejected some new sidelights may appear which may give a deeper insight into the nature of the subject, whether it be of a theoretical or practical character; some new views and modes of thought, new methods may be suggested which in their turn may result in the evolvement of new principles and important laws.
In the general history of science and in the history of each individual investigation we find this freedom of thought and critical sense ceaselessly at work. Rarely, if ever, do we strike in science the truth at a flash. We usually pass through a series of hypotheses, theories, speculations, and experimentations, often false or defective. Ever new lines of thought are struck out and new ways of experimentation are undertaken only to be rejected again and again. They who have undertaken a series of experiments on any subject realize the amount of work requisite before even the preliminaries may be started well under way. There must go on a ceaseless selection, an active criticism which is merciless to itself, ever hostile to routine, ever awake to new points of view and better methods of work, ever welcoming a different, but truer and better way of handling and treating the facts, observations, and experiments, ever ready to modify and change the course of the work, now in one place, now in another, ever retracing the steps of the research now in one way, now in another, until some satisfactory and unitary point of view is gained. And still with all that labor one must always be ready to abandon the whole line as false and start on a new track, ever revising his work, ever criticizing each step in advance, ever doubtful, looking at the work as if it might be on the false track, allowing for error, alive to new facts which may contradict the methods of observation and experimentation or the apparently established facts, rejecting hypothesis and theories which are attractive, or which have become endeared to the heart of the investigator, either because they are his pet view, or because they fall in line with his previous works, or because in sheer desperation of finding a sure, true, definite path in the jungle of facts he decides to adhere to one course and follow up one trail which may be entirely misleading and end in a blind alley from which he must once more retrace his steps, and start all over again. Of all that the true investigator must be acutely conscious, if he wishes to track the truth. The truly indefatigable and earnest investigator must be keenly conscious of failures, shortcomings, both of method and result. He must look at his truth as if about to be false, and at falsehood as if about to be true. Everything is relative, and nothing is final. It is only by such an attitude of mind and such a mode of procedure that truth can be attained.
If ceaseless vigilance is the price of liberty, more so is it true that ceaseless criticism of ever new opinions and ever new views, however distasteful, bizarre, and paradoxical, is the price of truth. For we must keep in mind the fact that truth does not come as deus ex machina or like Athena out of the head of Zeus; but must be found after persistent, laborious, painstaking searching of heart, mind, and fact. Truth is in the deep, as a Greek sage puts it. One must dive again and again often bringing up nothing but brilliant falsehoods before the homely truths are found.
It is by a devious course of long search and patient testing of apparent truths and falsehoods that the investigator may be assured that he has got a hold of the truth, and even then he must be constantly on the look-out never to relinquish a re-examination of it so as to gain an understanding of its actual relationships, of its limitations and relativity that the truth may not slip away after all by a dogmatic position and by the neglect of circumstances and unforseen conditions which he may have omitted to take into consideration, or by not bringing it into line with work and discoveries in other directions. By over-generalizing he may lose much that is vital in the truth and thus lay more stress on the false than on the true. Recent ruthless criticism of all that is dogmatic in Mathematics, Logic, Physics, Biology, and other sciences have resulted in new points of view and in the opening of new horizons for investigations which have revolutionized the sciences themselves. This sense of ceaseless active criticism must be kept alive and keen, if science and truth are to keep on advancing. It is due to this critical sense turned on the fundamental principles and postulates of science that such phenomenal progress has been made recently in the domain of science and human thought. This critical sense must be kept fresh and alive, if human thought and love of truth are not to fall, into a state of hebetude and desuetude.
The manifestation of the apparently false opinion keeps thought awake; it constantly challenges us, making us review again and again our established truths, and contributes to an ever deeper realization of what has been gained by severe thought and hard labor. The freedom of the seemingly false opinion and our tolerance of it and our willingness to meet with it in the open help test the validity of truth while keeping alive the critical sense which is the main spring of all advancement of human thought and is the vital point, the very soul, of all human progress. In a certain sense it may be said that it is the function of the false to keep the truth alive. The suppression of the freedom of thought or the liberty of individual expression, whether in speech or in press, is the crushing of all true human progress. Thus science, Sociology, Social Psychology, all go to confirm the same central attitude towards the free manifestation of individuality in the life existence of a well-ordered, progressive commonwealth.
The great philosopher, logician, and economist, John Stuart Mill, known for his candor and moderation, entered a strong plea for the liberty of the individual. Mill's work 'On Liberty' is so well known that I almost hesitate to quote from it, and still the work is of such importance that I cannot resist the temptation of making a few quotations from it, even if they become somewhat lengthy: "People" Mill writes, "think genius a fine thing, if it enables a man to write an exciting poem, or paint a picture. But in its true sense, that of originality in thought and action, though no one says that it is not a thing to be admired, nearly all, at heart, think they can do very well without it. Unhappily this is too natural to be wondered at. Originality is the one thing which unoriginal minds cannot feel the use of. They cannot see what it is to do for them. How should they? If they could see what it would do for them, it would not be originality. The first service which originality has to render them is that of opening their eyes: which being once fully done, they would have a chance of being themselves original. Meanwhile, recollecting that nothing was ever yet done which someone was not the first to do, and that all things which exist are the fruits of originality let them be modest enough to believe that there is something still left for it to accomplish, and assure themselves that they are the more in need of originality, the less they are conscious of the want.
"In sober truth whatever homage may be professed, or even paid, to real or supposed mental superiority, the general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendent power among mankind. . . . At present individuals are lost in the crowd. . . . The thinking (of the masses) is done for them by men much like themselves, addressing them or speaking in their name, on the spur of the moment, through the newspapers. I am not complaining of all this. I do not assert that anything better is compatible, as a general rule, with the present low state of the human mind. But it does not hinder the government of mediocrity to be a mediocre government. . . . In this age of mass-action the mere example of non-conformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service. Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric. Eccentricity has always abounded where and when strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage which it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time. . . . There is only too great a tendency in the best beliefs and practices to degenerate into the mechanical; and unless there were a succession of persons whose ever recurring originality prevents the grounds of those beliefs and practices from becoming merely traditional, such dead matter would not resist the smallest shock from anything really alive, and there would be no reason why civilization should not die out, as in the Byzantine empire.
"It is not by wearing down into uniformity all that is individual, but by cultivating it and calling it forth, within the limits imposed by the rights and interests of others, that human beings become a noble and beautiful object of contemplation; and as the works partake the character of those who do them, by the same process human life also becomes rich, diversified, and animating, furnishing more abundant aliment to high thoughts and elevating feelings, and strengthening the tie which binds every individual to the race infinitely better worth belonging to. In proportion to the development of this individuality, each person becomes more valuable to himself, and is therefore more capable of being valuable to others. There is a greater fulness of life about his own existence, and when there is more life in the units there is more in the mass which is composed of them.
"There is one characteristic of the present direction of public opinion, peculiarly calculated to make it intolerant of any marked demonstration of individuality. The general average of mankind are not only moderate in intellect, but also in inclinations; they have no tastes or wishes strong enough to incline them to do anything unusual, and they consequently do not understand those who have, and class all such as wild and intemperate whom they are accustomed to look down upon. . . . There is a moral and prudential spirit abroad for the exercise of which there is no more inviting field than the moral and the prudential improvement of our fellow-creatures. These tendencies of the times cause the public to be more disposed than in former time periods to prescribe general rules of conduct, and endeavor to make everyone conform to the approved standard. Its ideal of character is to be without any marked character; to maim by compression, like a Chinese lady's foot, every part of human nature which stands out prominently, and tends to make the person markedly dissimilar in outline to commonplace humanity. Instead of great energies guided by vigorous reason, and strong feelings, strongly controlled by a conscientious will, its result is weak feelings and weak energies which therefore can be kept in outward conformity to rule without any strength either of will or of reason."
Thus we are brought once more to the same view from which we started that the essential factor in human progress is the cultivation of the upper controlling, critical, personal consciousness. "The only unfailing and permanent source of improvement" says Mill "is liberty, since by it there are as many possible, independent centres of improvement as there are individuals." . . .
In these times of human agony, when the individual is crucified for social glory and national power, when men are sacrificed by the millions and their labor by the billions for the grandeur of the nation, when the world is made safe for all sorts of 'cracies' by fire and sword, it may be well to give heed to the following reflections by Tocqueville and Tarde:
"In democratic societies" as Tocqueville remarks "majorities as well as 'capitals' have prestige. As citizens become more equal and more alike (as far as their subconscious is concerned, regarded from the standpoint of Social Psychology) the tendency of each to believe blindly in a given man or class, diminishes. The disposition to believe the masses increases, and public opinion guides the masses more and more. Since the majority becomes the real political power, the universally recognized superior, its prestige is submitted to for the same reason as that of a monarch or nobility was formerly bowed down to. Moreover, in times of equality (of the mediocre subconscious considered from the point of view of Social Psychology) men have no faith in one another, because of their mutual (subconscious, mediocre) likeness. This very resemblance, however, inspires them almost with an unlimited confidence in the judgment of the public. For it seems improbable to them that when all have the same amount of light, the truth should not be found on the side of the greatest number." "This appears logical" comments Tarde "and mathematical. If men are like units, then it is the greatest sum of these units which must be in the right. In reality this is an illusion, based on constant oversight of the rôle played by imitation. When an idea rises in triumph from the ballot-box, we should be less inclined to bow down before it, if we realized that nine hundred and ninety-nine thousandths of the votes that it polled were but echoes. Unanimities should be greatly distrusted. Nothing is a better indication of the impulse of imitation." In other words, with the increase of mental disaggregation in a crowd of (subconscious) mediocrities individuality and the critical self are at a minimum, the subconscious self is left unprotected, a target to the arrows of suggestion. Social suggestibility is at its maximum, and the body-politic is thrown into hysterical convulsions of mob-frenzies, into maniacal, nationalistic excitement with fixed paranoidal delusions of national grandeur, demoniacal obsessions of world-dominion, resulting in homicidal and suicidal world-wars.
What then is the remedy for all those human sufferings, virulent mental epidemics, and other severe social maladies that plague mankind in its aggregate capacity? Only one answer is given by science, by Biology, Sociology, and Social Psychology: Fortify the resistance of the individual by freedom of individuality and by the full development of personality. Immunize the individual against social, mental plagues by the full development of his rational reflective self, controlling the suggestible, automatic subconscious with its reflex consciousness. Put no barriers to man's self expression, lay no chains on man, put no taboos on the human spirit. Do not, like the savage, run man's mind and skull into ugly shapes and distorted moulds of social traditions. Liberate man's spirit from the dark, narrow, and oppressive, social dungeon. Full freedom of individuality and cultivation of the critical rational self constitute the essential conditions of a healthy social consciousness. The full development of a synthetic unity of the conscious in control of the subconscious in a pure atmosphere of liberty is sure immunity against all mental plagues, and is at the same time the source and aim of all true human progress.
Here we may pause for the present. As far as our present purpose is concerned Social Psychology needs not take us any further. Perhaps, the words of Professor Minot's may be appropriated here where we have laid so much stress on the Logos, on Thought, on Reason, as being the savior of humanity: "The time, I hope, will come" says Professor Minot "when it will be generally understood that the investigators and thinkers of the world are those upon whom the world depends. I should like, indeed, to live to a time when it will be universally recognized that the military man and the government-maker are types which have survived from a previous condition of civilization, not ours; and when they will no longer be looked upon as heroes of mankind. In that future those persons who have really created our civilization will receive the recognition which is their due. Let these thoughts dwell long in your meditation, because it is a serious problem in all our civilization to-day how to secure due recognition of the value of thought, and how to encourage it. I believe every word spoken in support of that recognition which is due to the power of thought is a good word, and will help forward toward good results."
When the great American biologist made this earnest appeal to his countrymen had he had a foreboding of the approaching storm of the world-war with all the horrors of frenzied militarism which has obsessed deluded humanity?
One thing stands out clear and distinct, and this is,―the source and aim of true human progress are the cultivation and development of man's self-ruling, rational, free individuality. This is also Man's happiness. For as the great Stagirite puts it: ἡ εὐδαιμονΐα τῶν αὐτάρχων ἐστί.
- This law, first formulated in "The Psychology of Suggestion," is termed by Professor Giddings in his "Sociology" as "The Law of Extent and Intensity of Social Action." Giddings phrases the Law as follows: "The Law of Extent and Intensity of Social Action is: Impulsive social action tends to extend and intensify in geometrical progression."