INDIVIDUALISM AND SOCIETISM
By Xenia Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary of the United Presbyterian Church of North America, Dallas Theological Seminary and Graduate School of Theology, Dallas Theological Seminary, (Address before the students of Western Reserve University and Oberlin Theological Seminary) - July 1896
INDIVIDUALISM AND SOCIETISM
MR. Z. SWIFT HOLBROOK
IT is undoubtedly true that the New Testament is not, and does not purport to be, a treatise on economics, sociology, civics, or political liberty. It does not refute the doctrines of Adam Smith nor make mention of laisses-faire; nor does it allude to the principle of cooperation or profit- sharing in the sphere of production, any more than it prophesies the invention of the telephone or of stem-winding watches; the discovery of the law of gravitation or of the Roentgen ray. For a treatise on the duties and functions of the state, one may go much more profitably to the reference library than to the Moody Institute; and the attempt to find in Christ's sayings a warrant for every new social ism that may arise, so that authority may take the place of reason and save the necessity of some rugged intellectual work, marks a mind that may be submerged in sentimentalism, but it certainly is not in sense.
Christ and his immediate followers, however, did enunciate spiritual truths that involve some fundamental principles seemingly remote; and that, unfolding through the centuries, have blossomed into some very practical reforms. The attempt, therefore, to interpret his teachings, and adapt them to the existing emergencies of each age, is not prima facie evidence of religiosity nor of a mind afflicted with pietism. There is a rational diagnosis of social diseases; and if a critical study of proposed remedies fails to find any genuine cure, except in the good-will proposed by Christianity, intellectual honesty demands that the truth shall be spoken. If scientific socialism cannot be made to work unless society is first imbued with good-will; and if, when that social, regenerative force has taken possession of a community, there will be no need of scientific socialism, the truth must then be told, that what society needs is an increase in the momentum and appreciation of spiritual forces, and not enlarged conceptions of the duties and functions of the state. The vital mistake of many so-called social reformers is at this point.
The parable suggestive of Christ's relations to the individual and to society, is that of the ninety and nine. It is not by direct assertion or definite teaching that the lesson of individualism is learned from this beautiful and simple word-picture, but it is there by assumption and inference. The shepherd left in the wilderness the ninety and nine to find the individual sheep that was lost, and then returned to give his thought and care to the one hundred. It is no flight of the imagination to say that, historically and scientifically, this has been the divine method of procedure in social development. The discovery and development of a true individualism before it could perfect social conditions, and the highest and best form of Societism as the outgrowth of a rational and Christian individualism, is the fact of history. It is a fact that never has needed enforcing more than in this age, when there is a tendency to make the state everything and the man nothing.
The attention given to the lost sheep was a species of exaggeration, to be sure, but any religion that would not leave the ninety and nine and find the one, would not have proved itself divine; and this value which Christianity has placed upon the unit has made it as essentially individualistic in its spirit and methods as, in the opinion of Maurice, Kingsley, and Hughes, it is essentially socialistic. Herbert Spencer has well said, that the type of society is determined by the character of its units, and science teaches that the superior atoms attract the smaller; so that the great leaders of thought and action, thousands of whom Christianity has found and dedicated to society, have molded and shaped our institutions.
Science itself is a testimony to the divine method of perfecting the units of society, and through them society itself. The two poles of thought in full-orbed truth are individualism and Societism,—not striving with one another for supremacy, but as progressive stages in the development of an ideal social condition.
It is, therefore, by no means rightly assumed that Christianity is not interested in social questions, in the masses of men, in all that affects society and civilization. It set in motion the influences that have ripened into the loftiest notions of individual, civil, and political liberty; in its democratic tendencies it awakened forces that have resulted in American democracy, although Professor John Dewey well says, that democracy is a spiritual fact, and not a mere piece of governmental machinery.1 Christianity sent the Mayflower across the sea, freed the slave, inspired Robert Raikes, if its inspired writers did not know of a western continent, nor dream of American slavery, nor write treatises on children as the future citizens of a republic. It awakened intellectual life, if it did not teach the relation of the intellectual to the spiritual. It is by no forced and strained interpretation of Christianity that its relations to individualism and Societism are taught with confidence by Christian teachers and preachers.
1 Christianity and Democracy, p. 5.
Christ wrote no treatise on psychology or on ethics, but he seemed to understand perfectly the relations of intellect, sensibilities, and will in the formation of character, and his knowledge of ethics and its relations to faith finds ample exemplification in his teachings.
The writer uses the word "Societism" because such a diversity of opinions exists as to the real meaning of the word "socialism," and even of the word "individualism," that economic and sociological students should either free them from the mass of debris that has gathered about them, or leave them to their fate, and find new words to express the two simple concepts,—individual man and social man. Emerson declared that what men needed was individualism, rather than having all things in common.1 De Tocqueville declared, that individualism was of democratic origin, and it threatened to spread in the same ratio as the equality of conditions. "Individualism, at first, only saps the virtues of public life; but in the long run, it attacks and destroys all others and is at length absorbed in downright egotism."2 Rae says: "Socialism and individualism are merely two contrary general principles, ideals, or methods which may be employed to regulate the constitution of economical society."3 Dr. Washington Gladden says: " If I were shut up to the two alternatives, of individualism with its fierce principle of the survival of the fittest, and socialism with its leveling tendencies, I should take my stand with the socialists."4 John Stuart Mill says, that individualism is the principle of acting according to one's own will or for one's own ends; individual as opposed to associate action or common interests."5
1. R. W. Emerson, by George Willis Cooke, p. 94.
2. Democracy, Vol. ii. p. 104.
3. Contem. Socialism, p. 209.
4. Tools and the Man, p. 276.
5. Socialism, p. 114.
The Century Dictionary defines it, as "That theory of government which favors the non-interference of the state in the affairs of individuals; opposed to socialism or collectivism." In his Bampton lectures, Professor Barry says: "The day may come when, as of old, Christianity shall have to assert itself against the exaggeration of the social idea, and again emphasize the sacredness of individual right and freedom." Lieber says the individual stands higher than the state.1
Vol. i. p. 160.
To many minds the word "socialism" stands for an ideal social condition, the kingdom of heaven upon earth, when the fruitage of individualism, competition, will be a thing of the past, and cooperation will be in full bloom; when the duties and functions of the state will find a wider interpretation, and the individual, with the exaggerated notions of his importance, will find his true level. To other minds, socialism means the stifling of all individual incentive to private energy and enterprise, which has so marked this age, and the virtual enslavement of the individual because of the enforced subordination of his personal rights to the rights of the state, which means a return to the democracy of Aristotle, instead of the American democracy praised by De Tocqueville and Bryce.
Socialism means the tyranny of the majority, a misconception of the true conditions of equality, which must spring from individual liberty, for an enforced equality is no equality at all; it demands reconstructed notions of the natural rights of man, and a consequent revolution in established systems of ethics, for vested rights must seek new grounds for justification.
The words "individualism" and "socialism are a convenient dumping - ground for the preconceived theories of social agitators, who read into them their own opinions, their likes and dislikes, not to say their prejudices and their passions. And this must remain true, so long as eminent scholars and authorities differ so widely in their notions of what the words should stand for.
The word which may find acceptance, and start upon a new mission, is "Societism." It might be defined, not as opposed to individualism, but as the highest development of 1 Political Ethics, true individualism. Perverted notions of the independence, the autonomy, and the liberty of the individual would find fruitage, not in selfism, but in selfishness, while the true and orderly development of the individual would not rob him of his individuality, but reveal individualism as a necessary training for that higher school — Societism. The honey bee, viewed as a unit, in the perfection of his individual powers and capacities, would be individualism; but the hive in its social aspects and activities, in associated action, with common ends and interests, and in which aspect alone the object for which bees were created is discerned, would be Societism.
Individualism, rightly conceived, and Societism are not deadly foes, but perfect man viewed in different aspects. Individualism should no more be held responsible for the harm which comes from its exclusive or excessive development, than the love of offspring can be charged with the crimes of lust. Every noble trait has its perversion, and true individualism should not be so defined as to appear hostile to associate action or to common interests. As the perversion of individualism is anarchism, so would the perversion of Societism appear to be socialism or collectivism.
If the competitive system is the necessary, natural, and logical outgrowth of true individualism, then economic scholars must search for deep reasons in opposing its overthrow instead of seeking its restraint. If individualism is the necessary starting-point and beginning of all true social development, because it simply perfects the units, that the aggregate may be perfect; and if socialism would make the state everything and the individual nothing, then socialism is anti-christian, and the term "Christian socialism," as used by Maurice, Kingsley, Hughes, and by our own Behrends and Gladden, is simply self-contradictory, for the lean kine eat up the fat ones. The truth would seem to be, that individualism is necessary to Societism, and that Societism is necessary to the perfection and highest development of true individualism. We shall examine into this more carefully.
- VOL. LIII NO. 211
As to the origin of the loftiest conception of the independence, the autonomy, and the value of the individual, there can be no doubt whatever that it belongs to Christ. This can be shown to be fundamental in his teachings and in his efforts to save lost individuals. It is, historically, a fact that Christianity has worked upon this plan from the time of the apostles to the present; for it is the assertion of the individual right to differ from the mass or established authority, and to obey God as revealed in the individual conscience, that directly established Christianity in the world. The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church. Barry says, that the soul in its supremest moments is conscious of but two existences,—God and self.
Christ emphasized the brotherhood of man ; and, as a vital force, the Christian religion is good-will to men and, hence, clearly altruistic ; but the proper love of self is none the less commended. Each one is commanded to go into his closet, and shut the door, and pray to God in secret. That each man is a government by himself, an independent republic, with individual reason, will, sensibilities, and, as such, distinct from every other man, separate and absolutely unique, is the conception of the New Testament. He came into the world alone; he moves amid its pleasures and enjoyments, its sorrows and troubles, essentially alone; and he goes out of the world alone,—responsible only to God for the use of his talents. The greater the man, the greater his loneliness. Each heart knoweth its own sorrow, and a stranger intermeddleth not therewith. It is true, then, that as a man is to love God as a distinct personality, and his neighbor as a person, so he must love himself as a single, identical personality; an individual unit, with powers, privileges, rights, and duties; responsible to God for all that he has and is. This is the law and the prophets.
Not only does the law of love and the general teaching of Christ emphasize true individualism, but the personal work of Christ and of his immediate followers was to save individuals, and through them to save society. For example, when a committee was appointed to discover, if possible, how the young man was cured of his blindness, and, failing to get any satisfactory answer from him, except that he was born blind and that a man called Jesus gave him his sight, they cast him out. Christ found him, and cured him of his spiritual blindness as He had of his physical. The woman at the well of Samaria is an instance of Christ's personal interest in the individual when the fields were white to the harvest. His mind took in, not only the whole field of grain, but each individual sheaf. The personal affection of Christ for each one of his disciples is as unanimous as it is fundamental in the faith of all Christian sects, however much they may differ in their views of inspiration or of the atonement. He knoweth his own sheep and calleth each one by name, is the belief of Christendom.
Paul's method of procedure at Rome is in evidence. He did not openly fight their form of government, their customs, manners, usages, not even their brutal gladiatorial scenes, but he concentrated his attention upon individuals, planting the seed of the gospel in single minds and hearts until he could say: "They that are of Caesar's household salute you." The Epistle to Philemon is an exposition of his methods. Rome had its Tammany, its corruption, civic rottenness, rampant demagogism; its capitalists no less than its paupers, its pampered aristocracy no less than its brutalized masses, its hungry mobs; its slavery and social debaucheries the same as London, New York, or Chicago. But Paul moved upon individuals, not upon the state; he preached the need of personal faith in Christ, not civic righteousness. He sought to regenerate society through the reform of individuals, not in general but in particular.
As a result, that simple stream that had its rise in the hills of Palestine trickled underneath the seven hills of old Rome, and the throne of the Caesars fell; the gladiatorial scenes were abolished, and made unlawful, and the entire civilization was changed. It became Christian. If Christ had remained the earthly head of the church, Christianity never would have allied itself to Rome in the hope of borrowing any of its prestige, honor, or renown; for Christianity was greater than Rome, because it sought out and saved the despised and the lowly, the slave no less than the women and the children. The character of those to whom Paul sends his deepest love in the Epistle to the Romans reveals the facts. Rome despised what Christianity exalted, for though Stoicism deified the will, it was not good-will. As one wanders to-day about the old Colosseum and the Palace of the Caesars, the mildew and dust of ages lies upon the ruins that once listened to the plaudits of the noble Roman, and that heard the tramp of the returning legions with their trophies of war; the newts blink as they scurry away from the sunlight into the crevices where decay and death are doing their final work ; but Christianity is ever new and fresh, bursting forth like a pure, sweet stream in every land, and, like Tennyson's brook, going on forever. Rome exalted the state, but for the individual it cared nothing; Christianity exalted the individual because it cared for the state.
The pages of history reveal that this emphasis placed upon the dignity and worth of the individual and upon his rights is unique with Christianity. The birthright of democracy is just here, for the democracy of to-day differs from that of Aristotle in this,—that in Greece the individual existed for the state, while now the state exists for the individual. The ancient state recognized no personal rights, says Woodrow Wilson, while the modern state recognizes no state rights which are independent of personal rights. The rights of government were formulated and enforced long before those of the individual. A man existed for society: he was a zero, the state was the unit.
Christianity left all this line of reasoning and went into the mountains to find the lost sheep,—individualism. It insisted upon the personal responsibility of each individual to God. The conscience of each one was supreme. Robert Browne, the founder of Congregationalism in 1580, "clearly stated and defended the theory that every man had a right to choose and practice such religion as his conscience approved; and that the king, hierarchy, or magistrate had no right to meddle in any way with his liberty of conscience." 1 "This exaltation of the individual," said Dr. Poole, "was the polity under which New England was settled, and there it was the dominant influence for two centuries in molding our institutions. ... It is not strange that a system so unlike that of England and the other nations of Europe should have wrought out an independent and peculiar people." True individualism is, therefore, not an economic absurdity, but a spiritual fact.
1 W. F. Poole, in the Dial, 1880.
The simple law of love may have led to the search for the lost sheep; but involved in it was the law of completeness, of perfection, of symmetry, of unity, of beauty, of harmony, of self-preservation. If this be true, the universe demanded it. The missing one may be the keystone to the arch, the missing link in the chain, the wayward son that destroys the family lineage. The law of perfection involves the love of detail. The divine genius of Christ nowhere revealed itself more clearly than in his absolute knowledge and love of detail. The very hairs of your head are all numbered. Not a sparrow falleth to the ground without your Father's notice. It marks an exact, orderly, and scholarly mind to be able to concentrate its attention upon the minutest detail; and the importance of it is apparent, for the life of the whole may be dependent upon it. A surgeon in making an autopsy simply pricked his finger, and his life quickly paid the penalty. The speck of dust in the eye kept the light from the whole body. One loose bolt wrecked the limited express. The microbe was Pasteur's study. Momentous results hang upon decisions of the will seemingly trivial. In music, the leader of the orchestra will leave the ninety and nine instruments and go after the one, if it be wandering upon the mountains alone and out of harmony. Harmony results from individualism no less than from concerted action, and the deepest harmony may spring from the very diversity of the individuals' action.
The genius of Paderewski is that his soul-power in music, his passion, is in his technique, his technical skill, his artistic execution. He has learned the truth, and the truth has made him free.
In art, the impressionism school is going out in Paris, because it was impatient of all detail and loved only glittering generalities. Bouguereau's human forms are from a living model, and the perfection of his flesh tints make his canvas celebrated. He loves and studies detail. Verboeckhoven's sheep, like Rosa Bonheur's horses, are painted from life, and reveal an infinite patience in the attention to seeming trivial. Vereschagin's battle scenes were prohibited from public exhibition in Russia, because they were realistic, and told not only too much truth, but too vividly. The Venus of Milo, Angelo's David, the Dying Gaul, all reveal the master hand no less than the eye of genius that reads plainly what to ordinary minds is a dead language.
In literature, Gray's Elegy waited many years for the right word; but at last it came, and, behold, Gray lives as a literary genius. All of these children of men are esteemed God's children, because they have followed in the footsteps of their Father in his love for every grain of sand and every animalcule. Whoever made nature loves detail. Just as Agassiz loved every minute thing in the world of nature, and through it read great laws ; and as Linnaeus loved not botany alone, but each bud, leaf, petal, and stamen, with an affection born of true greatness; so Christianity has accomplished its greatest task in the discovery and development of true individualism. All other religions have overlooked the weak things of the world. Hence the fowls of the air are lodging in the branches of the tree that sprung from the smallest of seeds.
A small mind may be wedded to detail as an end; a great mind loves detail as means to an end. A narrow mind sees the telescope; a broad mind sees through it. Hence we love to think of Christ, that he loved great truths, broad generalizations, large thoughts, but he came upon them through an exactness, an accuracy, that marked him as divine. Christ's divinity needs no further proof than in his likeness to his Father in this respect.
It might be interesting to go a step further, and find that the discovery of individualism depended upon such a knowledge of man that no system of truth but Christianity was in possession of it. Christianity lays its stress upon life, and not upon light alone. To do the will is to know of the doctrine. Good-will and not mere knowledge is the keynote. Plato had a perfect state in mind, and it lacked but one thing, justice in the individual. Cicero, following in his line of reasoning, thought that a perfect social condition was possible, if only men would act justly. Christ assumed that the will was man's fortress, and he moved upon men to act, to do, to be, and not simply to think. Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life. He that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, my sister, and my mother. Christianity does not ignore the sensibilities, it awakens them and softens them; it casts no reproach upon the intellect or mind of man, it simply transcends rational processes by acts of faith; it is not contra-rational, it is super- rational. It places character in the will; it makes conduct the revealer of faith, and hence connects faith and works as cause and effect; it reveals the nexus between religion and ethics by making the love of neighbor an index of the love of God.
The divine order, then, would seem to be that Christianity seeks the individual will, it proceeds to radiate and illumine the man. The imagination is purified, hope is awakened, the intellect is aroused, the sensibilities are softened, faith begins to read in a new language—between the lines. Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. The dead has heard the voice of the Son of God.
Then this superior atom or unit attracts others; a church springs up spontaneously; awakened intellects demand the school and college; art and literature blossom from healthy imaginations and quickened intellects; ethics, science, theology follow as logical sequences, and behold a Republic like our own, with its churches, schools, colleges, manufactures, arts, sciences, and philanthropies. Then Christian missions complete the plan. Hence Christianity works from the unit to the mass; from within outward. It seeks first the man, then the town, the village, the city, the nation, the world. Hence it is individualistic in its very nature and mode of working.
What is denned as individualism, in distinction from socialism, or collectivism, is simply the theory that the state is not to interfere with the man so long as he exercises his powers without injury to his neighbor. It is assumed that this doctrine has been allowed free play, to the real detriment of society; for its fruitage in economics is the laissez- faire, or let-alone policy,—sometimes called "the dog eat dog" or "the devil take the hindmost" philosophy. The doctrine of the survival of the fittest became, unfortunately, its strongest ally and supporter. It is the theory that the function of the state is to grant to the individual the largest freedom and play in the exercise of his individual powers consistent with the good of the state. It is precisely at the point, as to how much individual freedom is compatible with the public welfare, that the war between socialism and individualism wages. The smoke of battle is made more dense by the constant confusion of thought as to what is justice and what benevolence. Human beings are not made benevolent by law, and justice, within reasonable exactness, is all that the state can hope to enforce. The biblical doctrine of stewardship in matters of property, for example, cannot be enforced by the courts.
Men may be warned that a supreme judge and a supreme court in some other sphere will judge them by higher and more spiritual standards than any earthly tribunal, and it may serve to awaken conscience and secure a justice between man and man that the bungling machinery of human courts cannot hope to accomplish; but the most that the state can enforce is, at best, a plain and practical morality. If Mr. Carnegie paid his men their agreed wages, and they left their places voluntarily, it was his unquestioned right to hire others; and the principle laid down by Bishop Fallows, that their former service gave them any moral right to ask for more than the contract called for, was simply confusing benevolence with justice. It would be as reasonable to say that supreme justice demanded the gift of the Only-begotten Son to the world, because ability to give was imperative with the opportunity.
Socialism is most apt, therefore, to break down into sentimentalism, and insist upon attaching the wings of angels, by act of the state, to human beings who as yet can, with difficulty, carry what burdens they have, and have no immediate prospect of learning to fly. The demand for scientific socialism has largely arisen from the confessed inability of the state to limit and control the exercise of individual rights within proper limits. The right of contract claims a divinity of origin, even if it be dealing with starving women and children, and a hungry man's promise to pay is impartially enforced by the courts.
But this is not true individualism; it is a "perversion thereof," as old Governor Winthrop would say. True individualism does not ignore the state nor the public good. It does not make individual effort, prerogative, and right paramount to social considerations, but subordinates them to the common-weal. It finds one's highest self in neighbor, and it stoops to conquer. It finds a higher advantage in taking the disadvantage. Such an individualism spoke through Martin Luther, and voiced the right of private judgment; it has held sway in religion, giving us Protestant Christianity, even with the evils of many sects founded on individual beliefs; its influence spread into politics, giving us democracy in government as opposed to paternalism; and in economics it found fruitage in the Manchester school, or the laissez-faire doctrine.
This conservative school of thought has been defended by the ablest economic scholars and scientific thinkers of the past century. It is defended upon the ground of its ultimate justice, in distinction from sentimental notions of benevolence. The free and unrestricted play of individualism in economics and the evils assumed as consequent upon it, because it has undoubtedly borne some bad fruit, has given rise to most of the indictments of our social condition and to a demand for an untried system—socialism.
Hence scientific socialism has had the ear of the masses since Karl Marx and Ferdinand Lassalle pictured its beauties to the hungry masses. Individualism was judged, not by its fruits in the hearts of good men, but by its fruitage in an avaricious and selfish world, where the scramble for money makes no note of tears and groans. It became responsible for all the evils incident to bread-winning. Under it children starve, the dreary song of the shirt goes on, while the eyes are red and the fingers are weary and worn.
The iron law of competition and the scientific heartlessness of the survival of the fittest grind flesh and blood, bodies and souls, into luxuries for the few, while it rewards the sacrifice with not even the necessaries of life. One percent of the families in the United States own fifty-four per cent of the wealth. This unequal distribution of the product, so manifestly out of all proportion to the part that all members of society play in production, has awakened a demand for some new equalizing force greater than the churches or, as the wage-earners believe, greater than Christianity itself. Hence the most marked characteristic of modern times, next to the arrival of democracy, is the passion to subordinate individualism to the mass or, in other words, to increase the duties and functions of the state.
As Kidd says, socialism is born again. The state is more and more stepping in to say to individualism in the sphere of economics, "Thus far shalt thou go; there shall thy proud waves be stayed." Man's desire to acquire passes too easily over into avarice, and its free play must be checked. All eyes are turned away from the churches and toward the state for relief. The churches have fostered individualism, say the masses, and the charge is true; but they do not distinguish between a true individualism and its perversion. '1 The power of the state to do whatever is essential to the public welfare is almost unlimited, and pervades every department of business, and reaches to every interest and every subject of profit or enjoyment," but, as Herbert Spencer well says, "Egoism comes before altruism." In his latest report on labor legislation, the Hon. Carroll D. Wright gives a synopsis of recent decisions of the courts on legislation in behalf of labor, and they are almost unanimous in declaring such legislative acts as unconstitutional or an interference with individual rights. In other words, the tendency already is to overestimate the ability of the state to regulate and control the desire to acquire.
But the cry of the masses must be heard, and if the churches heed it not, then Christianity will seek new outlets, for the Shepherd left the ninety and nine only until he had found the one. Christianity has discovered individualism, it must now turn its attention to Societism. Shall we not say, " Forth to the Master, and hear what he has to say of man in his social aspects"? Shall demagogues and unscrupulous politicians teach the people that the cure-all for poverty and want is in politics; and then proceed to exalt the mission, the powers, and prerogatives of the state in its ability to produce happiness and contentment?
It is not to the purpose to speak of the state and the real limits of its activities, for Lieber has done this for all; but the common people must be taught that there are a few things the state cannot do:—
- It cannot make people honest, industrious, and thrifty and, therefore, contented and happy.
- It cannot make men equal, except before the law.
- It cannot bring real equality, except through liberty.
- It cannot change the nature of things. The principles of Euclid are not changed by majorities, nor by vote of the people. The legislative, judicial, nor executive can make Tom hatch out young turkeys. The town pump cannot give milk by vote of the council.
- If individualism be suppressed, it will assert itself in some new form; for, as Lieber says: "The individual stands higher than the state."1 To rob man of his sense of personal freedom by subjecting the individual completely to the State is the end and aim of socialism. Furthermore, it would be dangerous in a free, democratic Republic, for self government must depend upon units that are self-governed. Individualism alone can produce such a result.
The air is full of fraternal feeling, but it is not the gift of socialism. It is the good-will of the gospel. Let the common people beware lest liberte, egalite, fraternite, so dear to each, not only as a sentiment, but as a working principle, and which have been bought with so great a price, be robbed of their charm and of their essential genius by that creature of the state—Authority. Liberty, wrested from King John by the Barons, enunciated in the Declaration and blossoming in the Proclamation, must not now be bound hand and foot and cast into outer darkness. In the rebound from extreme individualism, the state must not be exalted until fraternitc means social slavery. Authority cannot make men fraternal; the highest justice is not the product of force, nor can the state give men sagacity, prudence, tact, honor, self-denial, shrewdness, or thrift. Mother's love cannot be found for sale at the grocery, patriotism at the drugstore, nor morals at the meat shop.
1 Vol. i. p. 160.
The inflood of socialistic utopianism must be looked upon with alarm, unless it shall lead to opening the eyes of the people to the true limits of individualism and Societism, for it has stolen the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in ; it is a wolf in sheep's clothing. It comes to change environment, not man; to make men believe that the need of the world is legislation, not regeneration; that the material is superior to the spiritual; that growth is from the mass to the unit, and that social ethics must precede individual ethics. The state as anything but the conservator and protector of individual rights has been tried fully; it has been weighed in the balances and found wanting. Compulsory arbitration is, therefore, impossible.
But the state is divinely ordained no less than the individual. Individual freedom is guaranteed by the state. There is no danger of a democracy returning to the aristocratic or monarchic principle. We need not be afraid to open our windows and catch the breath of the new spring morning, — the Twentieth Century. The one hundred now demands attention. Individualism has been found. Societism now calls for study, for devotion, and for sacrifice. The air is full of hope for better social conditions. Poverty, degradation, misery, sin, must be banished from the earth. Monopolies, trusts, combinations, consolidations, centralization, is the order of the day; but they must be permeated with good-will, not with selfishness; they must reduce the cost of production and aid the masses to live easier by bringing the necessaries of life within the reach of the humblest and weakest. Individualism does not mean such a non-interference of the state in the affairs of individuals that combinations and trusts can rob the poor by increasing the cost of the necessaries of life; it does not mean the right to sell liquors in a college town.
Forth to the Master who said Our Father; Give us our daily bread ; Forgive us our debts; Where two or three are gathered together ; Bear ye one another's burdens ; For no man liveth to himself. True notions of Societism will give us a state that is a necessary good; not a necessary evil. It will protect the weak, the slow, the stupid, the ignorant, the children, the poor, the imperfect, from the encroachments, the trespassing, the selfishness, of the shrewd, the strong, the swift, and the cunning.
While the will of a community, its intelligence, its ethical standards and ideals, must be sought back in the persons who comprise that community, yet the combined strength is a social will, a public enlightenment, a public conscience, a public opinion that itself helps to shape the thought and mould the characters of the many. The logic of true individualism, then, is beneficent laws, Christian customs and manners, a public virtue that is the result of accumulated private virtues.
Absolute justice must be the basis of a Christian society, and a community that is not so founded may have enlightenment, may have a form of culture, a certain type of piety even, but it is not Christian. The state is founded on justice; and if Christian faith cannot produce that in its citizens it cannot produce a benevolence that is worthy of the name, for it is synonymous with sentimentalism. It is not the duty of the state to attempt to make its citizens happy by adopting some economic theory that has never been tried practically, nor by abolishing private property; nor by distributing arbitrarily equally to the just and unjust; nor by restricting the free play of true individualism ; nor by taxing the successful and the prosperous unjustly to feed the drones and the sluggards of society; nor by becoming a religious teacher or a paternal guardian,—thus relieving the individual from the necessity of personal and heroic virtues like honesty, industry, and thrift.
But it is the duty of the Christian state to throw its protecting arms about the humblest and the poorest; to protect the weak from the strong; to permit any man, no matter how lowly and despised, to be the equal before the law of any other man, however rich and powerful; to see that each one has the right to labor and to enjoy the fruits of his labor, provided always that his efforts be put forth with due regard for the rights of others; to keep from starvation those who are mentally or physically unable to work ; to guard the individual in the possession of his natural rights, —life, liberty, property, and reputation.
Christianity is not simply the science of manhood and womanhood: it is the science of statehood; it is the art of social control; it is the true philosophy of government. In its very genius, it gives free play to that highest individualism, the educated reason moved by a regenerated will; for, as Kant says: "Of all things that can possibly be conceived, one thing alone can be called perfectly good, and that is a good-will." It was good-will that led the Shepherd to leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness and find the lost sheep; it is good-will that leads him now to lay down his life for the sheep. The light of the Christian religion must now be concentrated upon social problems, and its life must be spent in the attainment of just social conditions.