Ladies and Gentlemen:
The subject which I propose to consider this evening is the true constitution of human government.
Every age is a remarkable one, no doubt, for those who live in it. When immobility reigns most in human affairs, there is still enough of movement to fix the attention, and even to excite the wonder of those who are immediately in proximity with it. This natural bias in favour of the period with which we have most to do is by no means sufficient, however, to account for the growing conviction, on all minds, that the present epoch is a market transition from an old to a new order of things. The scattered rays of the gray dawn of the new era date back, indeed, beyond the lifetime of the present generation. The first streak of light that streamed through the dense darkness of the old régime was the declaration by Martin Luther of the right of private judgment in matters of conscience. The next, which shed terror upon the old world, as a new portent of impending revolutions, was the denial by Hampden, Sidney, Cromwell, and others of the divine right of kings, and the assertion of inherent political rights in the people themselves. This was followed by the American Declaration of Independence, the establishment of a powerful Democratic Republic in the western world upon the basis of that principle, followed by the French Revolution, the Reign of Terror, the Reaction, and the apparent death in Europe of the Democratic idea. Finally, in our day, comes the red glare of French Socialism, at which the world is still gazing with uncertainly whether it be some lurid and meteoric omen of fearful events, or whether it be not the actual rising of the Sun of Righteousness, with healing in His wings; for there are those who profoundly and religiously believe that the solution of the social problem will be the virtual descent of the New Jerusalem,--the installation of the kingdom of heaven upon earth.
First in the religious, then in the political, and finally in the social relations of men new doctrines have thus been broached, which are full of promise to the hopeful, and full of alarm and dismay to the timid and conservative. This distinction marks the broadest division in the ranks of mankind. In Church and State and social life, the real parties are the Progressionists and the Retrogressionists,--those whose most brilliant imaginings are linked with the future, and those whose sweetest remembrances bind them in tender associations to the past. Catholic and Protestant, Whig and Democrat, Anti-Socialist and Socialist, are terms which, in their origin, correspond to this generic division; but no sooner does a new classification take place than the parties thus formed are again subdivided, on either hand, by the ever-permeating tendency, on the one side toward freedom, emancipation, and progress, and toward law and order and immobility on the other.
Hitherto the struggle between conservatism and progress has seemed doubtful. Victory has kissed the banner, alternately, of either host. At length the serried ranks of conservatism alter. Reform, so called, is becoming confessedly more potent than its antagonist. The admission is reluctantly forced from pallid lips that revolutions—political, social, and religious—constitute the programme of the coming age. Reform, so called, for weal or woe, but yet Reform, must rule the hour. The older constitutions of society have outlived their day. No truth commends itself more universally to the minds of men now than that thus set forty by Carlyle: “There must be a new world, if there is to be any world at all. That human things in our Europe can ever return to the old sorry routine, and proceed with any steadiness or continuance there,--this small hope is not now a tenable one. These days of universal death must be days of universal new birth, if the ruin is not to be total and final! It is a time to make the dullest man consider, and ask himself, Whence he came? Whither he is bound? A veritable “New Era” to the foolish as well as to the wise.” Nor is this state of things confined to Europe. The agitations in America may be more peaceful, but they are not less profound. The foundations of old beliefs and habits of thought are breaking up. The old guarantees of order are fast falling away. A veritable “new era” with us, too, is alike impending and inevitable.
What remains to be done, then, for wise men, is clearly this: to attempt to penetrate the future by investigating the past and the present to ascertain whether there be no elements of calculation capable of fixing with tolerable certainty the precise point in the sidereal heavens of human destiny toward which our whole system is confessedly verging with accelerated velocity. To penetrate the gloom which encircles the orbit of our future progression might, at least, end the torture of suspense, even to those who may be least content with the nature of the solution. “If,” says Carlyle again, “the accused nightmare that is crushing out the life of us and ours would take a shape, approach us like the Hyrcanian tiger, the Behemoth of Caos, or the Archfiend himself,--in any shape that we could see and fasten on,--a man can have himself shot with cheerfulness, but it needs that he shall clearly see for what.”
It is, then, neither unbecoming nor inappropriate, at this time, to attempt to prognosticate, by philosophical deductions from operative principles the characteristics of the new society which is to be constructed out of the fragments of the old. It is, perhaps, only right that I should begin by declaring the general nature of the results to which my own mind is conducted by the speculations I have made upon the subject, and toward which I shall, so far as I may, endeavour, this evening to sway your convictions.
I avow that, for one, I take the hopeful, the expectant, even the exulting view of the prospects of humanity, under the influence of causes which, to the minds of many,m re pregnant with evil. I hail the progress of that unsparing criticism of old institutions which is the characteristic of the present age. I hail with still higher enthusiasm a dim outline which begins to be perceived by the keenest vision, through th twilight mists which yet hang upon the surrounding hilltops of a social fabric, whose foundations are equity, whose ceiling is security, whose pillars are cooperation and fraternity, and whose capitals and cornices are carved into the graceful forms of mutual urbanity and politeness. It is just to you that I should announce this faith, that you may receive the vaticinations of the prophet with the due allowance for the inebriation of the prophetic rhapsody. I proclaim myself in some sense a visionary; but in all ages there have been visionaries whose visions of today have proved the substantial realities of tomorrow.
I shall make no apology for the rashness of the attempt to trace, with a distinct outline, some of the gigantic changes which will occur in the social organization of the world as the necessary outgrowth of principles now at work, and which are becoming every day more potential, in proportion as forces, which have hitherto been deemed antagonistic, converge and cooperate.
I affirm, then, firstly, that there is at this day a marked convergence and a prospective cooperation of principles which have hitherto resisted each other, or, more properly, a development of one common principle in spheres of life so diverse from each other that they have hitherto been regarded as unrelated, if not positively antagonistic. I assert, and shall endeavour to make good the assertion, that the essential spirit, the vital and fundamental principle of the three great modern movements to which I have already alluded,--namely, the Protestant Reformation, the Democratic Revolution, still progressing, and finally, the Socialist Agitation, which is spreading in multiform varieties of reproduction over the whole civilized world,--is one and the same, and that this common affinity is beginning in various ways to be recognized or felt. If this assertion be true, it is one of immense significance. If Protestantism, Democracy, and Socialism are merely different expressions of the same idea, then, undoubtedly, the confluent force of these three movements will expand tremendously the sweep of their results, in the direction toward which they collectively tend.
What, then, if this be so, is this common element? In what great feature are Protestantism, Democracy, and Socialism identical? I will answer this interrogatory first, and demonstrate the answer afterward. Protestantism, Democracy, and Socialism are identical in the assertion of the Supremacy of the Individual,--a dogma essentially contumacious, revolutionary, and antagonistic to the basic principles of all the older institutions of society, which make the Individual subordinate and subject to the Church, to the State, and to Society respectively. Not only is this supremacy or SOVEREIGNTY OF THE INDIVIDUAL, a common element of all three of these great modern movements, but I will make the still more sweeping assertion that it is substantially the whole of those movements. It is not merely a feature, as I have just denominated it, but the living soul itself, the vital energy, the integral essence or being of them all.
Protestants and Protestant churches may differ in relation to every other article of their creed, and do so differ, without ceasing to be Protestants, so long as they assert the paramount right of private or individual judgment in matters of conscience. It is that, and that only, which makes them Protestants, and distinguishes them from the Catholic world, which asserts, on the contrary, the supreme authority of the church, of the priesthood, or some dignitary or institution other than the Individual whose judgment and whose conscience is in question. In like manner, Democrats and Democratic governments and institutions may differ from each other, and may vary indefinitely at different periods or time, and still remain Democratic, so long as they maintain the one essential principle and condition of Democracy,--namely, that all governmental powers reside in, are only delegated by, and can be, at any moment, resumed by the people,--that is, by the individuals, who are first Individuals, and who then, by virtue only of the act of delegating such powers, become a people,--that is, a combined mass of Individuals. It is this dogma, and this alone, which makes the Democrat, and which distinguishes him from the Despotist, or the defender of the divine right of kings.
Again, Socialism assumes every shade and variety of opinion respecting the modes of realizing its own aspirations, and, indeed, upon every other point, except one, which, when investigated, will be found to be the paramount rights of the Individual over social institutions, and the consequent demand that all existing social institutions shall be so modified that the Individual shall be in no manner subjected to them. This, then, is the identical principle of Protestantism and Democracy carried into its application in another sphere. The celebrated formula of Fourier that “destinies are proportioned to attractions,” means, when translated into less technical phraseology, that society must be so reorganized that every Individual shall be empowered to choose and vary his own destiny or condition and pursuits in life, untrammeled by social restrictions; in other words, so that every man may be a law unto himself, paramount to all other human laws, and the sole judge for himself of the divine law and of the requisitions of his own individual nature and organization. This is equally the fundamental principle of all the social theories, except in the case of the Shakers, the Rappites, etc., which are based upon religious whims, demanding submission, as a matter of duty, to a despotic rule, and which embody, in another form, the readoption of the popish or conservative principle. They, therefore, while they live in a form of society similar in some respects to those which have been proposed by the various schools of Socialists, are, in fact, neither Protestants nor Democrats, and, consequently, not Socialists in the sense in which I am now defining Socialism. The forms of society proposed by Socialism are the mere shell of the doctrine,--means to the end,--a platform upon which to place the Individual, in order that he may be enabled freely to exercise his own Individuality, which is the end and aim of all. We have seen that the shell is one which may be inhabited by despotism. Possibly it is unfit for the habitation of any thing else than despotism, which the Socialist hopes, by ensconcing himself therein, to escape. It is possible, even, that Socialism may have mistaken its measures altogether, and that the whole system of Association and combined interests and combined responsibilities proposed by it may be essentially antagonistic to the very ends proposed. All this, however, if it be so, is merely incidental. It belongs to the shell, and not to the substance,--to the means, and not to the end. The whole programme of Socialism may yet be abandoned or reversed, and yet Socialism remain in substance the same thing. What Socialism demands is the emancipation of the Individual from social bondage, by whatsoever means will effect that design, in the same manner as Protestantism demands the emancipation of the Individual from ecclesiastical bondage, and Democracy from political. Whosoever makes that demand, or labours to that end, is a Socialist. Any particular views he may entertain, distinguishing him from other Socialists, regarding practical measures, or the ultimate forms of society, are the mere specific differences, like those which divide the Protestant sects of Christendom.
This definition of Socialism may surprise some into the discovery of the fact that they have been Socialists all along, unawares. Some, on the other hand, who have called themselves Socialists may not at once be inclined to accept the definition. They may not perceive clearly that it is the emancipation of the Individual for which they are laboring, and affirm that it is, on the other hand, the freedom and happiness of the race. They will not, however, deny that it is both; and a very little reflection will show that the freedom and happiness of each individual will be the freedom and happiness of the race, and that the freedom and happiness of the race cannot exist so long as there is any individual of the race who is not happy and free. So the Protestant and the Democrat may not always have a clear intellectual perception of the distinctive principle of their creeds. He may be attached to it from an instinctive sentiment, which he has never thoroughly analyzed, or even from the mere accidents of education and birth.
Protestantism proclaims that the individual has an inalienable right to judge for himself in all matters of conscience. Democracy proclaims that the Individual has an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Socialism proclaims that the Individual has an inalienable right to that social position which his powers and natural organization qualify him, and which his tastes incline him to fill, and, consequently, to that constitution or arrangement of the property relations, and other relations of society, whatsoever that may be, which will enable him to enjoy and exercise that right,--the adaptation of social conditions to the wants of each Individual, with all his peculiarities and fluctuations of tasted, instead of the moulding of the Individual into conformity with the rigid requirements of a preconcerted social organization.
If this be a correct statement of the essential nature of Protestantism, Democracy, and Socialism, then Protestantism, Democracy, and Socialism are not actuated by three distinct principles at all. They are simply three partial announcements of one generic principle, which lies beneath all these movements, and of which they are the legitimate outgrowths or developments, modified only by the fact of a different application of the same principle. This great generic principle, which underlies every manifestation of that universal unrest and revolution which is known technically in this age as “Progress,” is nothing more nor less than “THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE INDIVIDUAL.” It is that which is the central idea and vital principle of Democracy; and it is that which is the central idea and vital principle of Socialism.
This being so, it is high time that the mutual affinity of these movements should be intelligently perceived and recognized both by the friends and the enemies of the movements themselves. It is high time that the scene of the battle-field should be shifted from the right or wrong of any or all of the partial developments of the principle to the essential right or wrong of the principle itself. The true issue is not whether Protestantism be good or evil, whether Democracy be good or evil, nor whether Socialism be good or evil, but whether the naked, bald, unlimited principle of the Sovereignty of the Individual, in human government and the administration of human affairs, be essentially good and true or essentially pernicious and false. This is the issue now up for trial before the world, and the definitive decision of which must be had before the final destiny of mankind upon earth can be even rough-hewn by the most vivid imagination, and certainly before any thing approximating scientific deduction respecting it can be had.
You will please to consider yourselves, Ladies and Gentlemen, as a jury empaneled to try this issue. I take my position before you as the advocate of the Sovereignty of the Individual, and the defender of the spirit of the present age. If this principle be essentially good and true, then it may be trusted wherever it leads, and the general drift of what the world calls “Progress” is in the right direction, whatever mistakes may be made in matters of detail. If it is a false principle, the sooner we understand that fact the better; but let it be also understood, in that case, that we have much to undo which has been already done, and which has been supposed to be well done, in these modern times. In that case, Protestantism is all wrong, and Democracy is all wrong; the Whateleys, the Wisemans, the Bronsons, the Windischgratzes, and the Haynaus are philosophers and philanthropists of the right school; and the Luthers, the Channings, the Jeffersons, the Washingtons, and the Kossuths are the world's worst foes,--the betrayers and scourgers which the wrath of an offended Heaven has let loose upon earth, first to delude and then to punish mankind for their sins.
I will first endeavor to set before you a clearer view of the doctrine of the Sovereignty of the Individual, as based upon the principle of the infinite Individuality of things. I will then show that this Sovereignty of the Individual furnishes the law of the development of human society, as illustrated in the progressive movements of modern times. Finally, I shall endeavor to trace the development which is hereafter to result from the further operation of this principle and to fix, so nearly as may be, the condition of human affairs towards which it conducts, especially in that particular department of human affairs which constitutes the subject of investigation this evening,--namely, the government of mankind.
The doctrine of the Sovereignty of the Individual—-in one sense itself a principle—-grows out of the still more fundamental principle of “INDIVIDUALITY,” which pervades universal nature. Individuality is positively the most fundamental and universal principle which the finite mind seems capable of discovering, and the best image of the Infinite. There are no two objects in the universe which are precisely alike. Each has its own constitution and peculiarities, which distinguish it from every other. Infinite diversity is the universal law. In the multitude of human countenances, for example, there are no two alike, and in the multitude of human characters there is the same variety. The hour which your courtesy has assigned to me would be entirely consumed, if I were to attempt to adduce a thousandth part of the illustrations of this subtle principle of Individuality, which lie patent upon the face of nature, all around me. It applies equally to persons, to things, and to events. There have been no two occurrences which were precisely alike during all the cycling periods of time. No action, transaction, or set of circumstances whatsoever corresponded precisely to any other action, transaction, or set of circumstances. Had I a precise knowledge of all the occurrences which have ever taken place up to this hour, it would not suffice to enable me to make a law which would be applicable in all respects to the very next occurrence which shall take place, nor to any one of the infinite millions of events which shall hereafter occur. This diversity reigns throughout every kingdom of nature, and mocks at all human attempts to make laws, or constitutions, or regulations, or governmental institutions of any sort, which shall work justly and harmoniously amidst the unforeseen contingencies of the future.
The individualities of objects are least, or, at all events, they are less apparent when the objects are inorganic or of a low grade of organization. The individualities of the grains of sand which compose the beach, for example, are less marked than those of vegetables, and those of vegetables are less than those of animals, and, finally, those of animals are less than those of man. In proportion as an object is more complex, it embodies a greater number of elements, and each element has its own individualities, or diversities, in every new combination into which it enters. Consequently these diversities are multiplied into each other, in the infinite augmentation of geometrical progression. Man, standing, then, at the head of the created universe, is consequently the most complex creature in existence,--every individual man or woman being a little world in him or herself, an image or reflection of God, and epitome of the Infinite. Hence the individualities of such a being are utterly immeasurable, and every attempt to adjust the capacities, the adaptations, the wants, or the responsibilities of one human being by the capacities, the adaptations, the wants or the responsibilities of another human being, except in the very broadest generalities, is unqualifiedly futile and hopeless. Hence every ecclesiastical, government, or social institution which is based on the idea of demanding conformity or likeness in any thing, has ever been, and ever will be, frustrated by the operation of this subtle, all-pervading principle of Individuality. Hence human society has ever been and is still in the turmoil of revolution. The only alternative known has been between revolution and despotism. Revolutions violently burst the bonds, and explode the foundations of existing institutions. The institution falls before the Individual. Despotism only succeeds by denaturalizing mankind. It extinguishes their individualities only by extinguishing them. The Individual falls before the institution. Judge ye which is best, the man-made or the God-made world.
In the next place this Individuality is inherent and unconquerable, except, as I have just said, by extinguishing the man himself. The man himself has no power over it. He can not divest himself of his organic peculiarities of character, any more than he can divest himself of his features. It attends him even in the effort he makes, if he makes any, to divest himself of it. He may as well attempt to flee his own shadow as to rid himself of the indefeasible, God-given inheritance of his own Individuality.
Finally, this indestructible and all-pervading Individuality furnishes, itself, the law, and the only true law, or order and harmony. Governments have hitherto been established, and have apologized for the unseemly fact of their existence, from the necessity of establishing and maintaining order; but order has never yet been maintained, revolutions and violent outbreaks have never yet been ended, public peace and harmony have never yet been secured, for the precise reason that the organic, essential, and indestructible natures of the objects which it was attempted to reduce to order have always been constricted and infringed by every such attempt. Just in proportion as the effort is less and less made to reduce men to order, just in that proportion they become more orderly, as witness the difference in the state of society in Austria and the United States. Plant an army of one hundred thousand soldiers in New York, as at Paris, to preserve the peace, and we should have a bloody revolution in a week; and be assured that the only remedy for what little of turbulence remains among us, as compared with European societies, will be found to be more liberty. When there remain positively no external restrictions, there will be positively no disturbance, provided always certain regulating principles of justice, to which I will advert presently, are accepted and enter into the public mind, serving as substitutes for every species of repressive laws.
I was saying that Individuality is the essential law of order. This is true throughout the universe. When every individual particle of matter obeys the law of its own attraction, and comes into that precise position, and moves in that precise direction, which its own inherent individualities demand, the harmony of the spheres is evolved. By that means only natural classification, natural order, natural organization, natural harmony and agreement are attained. Every scheme or arrangement which is based upon the principle of thwarting the inherent affinities of the individual monads which compose any system or organism is essentially vicious, and the organization is false,--a mere bundle of revolutionary and antagonistic atoms. It is time that human system builders should begin to discover this universal truth. The principle is self-evident. Objects bound together contrary to their nature must and will seek to rectify themselves by breaking the bonds which confine them, while those which come together by their own affinities remain quiescent and content. Let human system makers of all sorts, then, admit the principle of an infinite Individuality among men, which cannot be suppressed, and which must be indulged and fostered, at all events, as one element in the solution of the problem they have before them. If they are unable to see clearly how all external restrictions can be removed with safety to the well-being of society, let them, nevertheless, not abandon a principle, which is self-evident, but let them modestly suspect that there may be some other elements in the solution of the same problem, which their sagacity has not yet enabled them to discover. In all events, and at all hazards, this Individuality of every member of the human family must be recognized and indulged, because first, we have seen it is infinite, and cannot be measured or prescribed for, then because it is inherent, and cannot be conquered; and, finally, because it is the essential element of order, and cannot consequently, be infringed without engendering infinite confusion, such as has hitherto universally reigned, in the administration of human affairs.
If, now, Individuality is a universal law which must be obeyed if we would have order and harmony in any sphere, and, consequently, if we would have a true constitution of human government, then the absolute Sovereignty of the Individual necessarily results. The monads or atoms of which human society is composed are the individual men and women in it. They must be so disposed of, as we have seen, in order that society may be harmonic, that the destiny of each shall be controlled by his or her own individualities of taste, conscience, intellect, capacities, and will. But man is a being endowed with consciousness. He, and no one else, knows the determining force of his own attractions. No one else can therefore decide for him, and hence Individuality can only become the law of human action by securing to each individual the sovereign determination of his own judgment and of his own conduct, in all things, with no right reserved either of punishment or censure on the part of any body else whomsoever; and this is what is meant be the Sovereignty of the Individual, limited only by the ever-accompanying condition, resulting from the equal Sovereignty of all others, that the onerous consequences of his actions be assumed by himself.
If my audience were composed chiefly of Catholics, or Monarchists, or Anti-Progressionists of any sort, I should develop this argument more at length, for, as I have said, it is the real issue, and the only real issue, between the reformatory and the conservative portions of mankind; but I supposed that I may, with propriety, assume that I am before an auditory who are in the main Protestant and Democratic, and, assuming that, I shall then be authorized to assume, in accordance with the principles I have endeavored to develop, that they are likewise substantially Socialist, according to the definition I have given to Socialism, whether they have hitherto accepted or repudiated the name. It is enough, however, if I address you as Protestants and Democrats, or as either of these. I shall therefore assume, without further dwelling upon the fundamental statement of those principles, that you are ready to admit so much of Individuality and of the Sovereignty of the Individual as is necessarily involved in the propositions of Protestantism or Democracy. I shall assume that I am before an assembly of men and women who sympathize with ecclesiastical and political enfranchisement,--who believe that what the world calls Progress, in these modern times, is in the main real and not sham progress, a genuine and legitimate development of the race. Instead, therefore, of pursuing the main argument further, I will return to, and endeavor more fully to establish, a position which I have already assumed,--namely, that, by virtue of the fact of being either a Protestant or a Democrat, you have admitted away the whole case, and that you are fully committed to the whole doctrine of Individuality and the Sovereignty of the Individual, wherever that may lead.
I assert, then, the doctrine of Individuality, in its broadest and most unlimited sense. I assert that the law of genuine progress in human affairs is identical with the tendency to individualize. In ecclesiastical affairs it is the breaking up of the Church into sects, the breaking up of the larger sects into minor sects, the breaking up of the minor sects, by continual schism, into still minuter fragments of sects, and, finally, a complete disintegration of the whole mass into individuals, at which point every human being becomes his own sect and his own church. Does it require any demonstration that his is the natural tendency and the legitimate development of Protestantism, that it is in fact the necessary and inevitable outgrowth of its own fundamental principle. The History of all Religions in Protestant Christendom is becoming already too voluminous to be written. With the multiplication of sects grows the spirit of toleration, which is nothing else but the recognition of the sovereignty of others. A glance at the actual condition of the Protestant Church demonstrates the tendency to the obliteration of Sectarianism by the very superabundance of sects.
In the political sphere the individualizing tendency of Democracy is exhibited in the distribution of the department of government into the hands of different depositories of power, the discrimination of the chief functions of government into the Legislature, the Executive, and the Judiciary, in the division of the Legislature into distinct branches, in the representative system which recognizes the Individuality of different confederated states, and of different portions of the same state, in the divorce of the Church and State, and yet more strikingly than all in the successive surrender to the Individual of one branch after another of what was formerly regarded as the legitimate business of government.
Under the old order of things, government interfered to determine the trade or occupation of the Individual, to settle his religious faith, to regulate his locomotion, to prescribe his hours of relaxation and retirement, the length of his beard, the cut of his apparel, his relative rank, the mode of his social intercourse, and so on, continuously, until government was in fact everything, and the Individual nothing. Democracy, working somewhat blindly, it is true, but yet guided by a true instinct, begotten by its own great indwelling vital principle, the Sovereignty of the Individual, has already substantially revolutionized all that. It has swept away, for the most part, in America at least, the impertinent interference of government with the pursuits, the religious opinions and ceremonies, the travel, the amusements, the dress, and the manners of the citizen. One whole third of the field heretofore occupied by government has thus been surrendered to the Individual. To this point we have already attained, practically, at the precise stage at which we now are in the transition from the past to the future model of the organization of society.
But the principle of Democracy does not stop here. Government still interferes, even in these United States, in some instances, with the social and political status of the Individual, as in the case of slavery, with commerce, with the title to the soil, with the validity of private obligations, with the treatment of crime, and, finally, with the marriage and parental relationships of the citizen; and it is obviously an incongruous fact that it interferes with all these, in many instances at least, to the great annoyance of the citizen, who, according to our political theory, is himself the sovereign, and consequently the voluntary fabricator of that which annoys him. To the philosophical mind there is that in this incongruity alone which predicts the ultimate emancipation of the citizen from the restrictions of legislation and jurisprudence, in every aspect of his existence. Accordingly, there is another whole third of the domain hitherto occupied by Government which is at this moment in dispute between it and the Individual. The whole of that legislation which establishes or tolerates that form of human bondage which is called slavery is at this moment undergoing the most determined and vigorous onset of public opinion which any false and tyrannical institution of Government was ever called upon to endure. The full and final abolition of slavery cannot but be regarded, by every reflecting mind, as prospectively certain. Such is the fiat of Democracy; such is the inevitable sequitur from the Democratic premise of inherent political rights. Government interferes, again, to regulate commerce; but what is the demand of Democracy in relation to that? Nothing short of free trade. Democracy says to Government, Hands off! Let the Individual determine for himself when, and where, and how he will buy and sell. Does any one doubt that Democracy will, in the long run, have its own way in relation to this matter as well, and that tariffs, and custom houses, and collectorships, and the whole lumbering paraphernalia of indirect taxation, which fences out the intercourse of nations, will be looked back upon, in a generation or two, in a light akin to that in which the police system of Fouché, the passport system of the despotic countries of Europe, and the censorship of the press are now regarded by us? Government still interferes to control the public domain; but already an organized and rapidly augmenting political organization is demanding in this country a surrender of this whole subject to the Individual Sovereigns who make the Government, and who need the land. Nor are the modest pretensions of Land Reform, which as yet touch only the public domain, likely to end at that. The very foundation principles of the ownership of land, as vested in individuals and protected by law, cannot escape much longer from a searching and radical investigation; and when that comes, the arbitrary legislation of Government will have to give place to such natural and scientific principles regulating the subject as may be evolved. Land Reform, in its present aspect, is merely the prologue to a thorough and unsparing, but philosophical and equitable agrarianism, by means of which either the land itself, or an equal participation in the benefits of the land, shall be secured to the whole people. Science, not human legislation, must finally govern the distribution of the soil Government, again, interferes with contracts and private obligations. But already the demand is growing loud for the abolition of the usury laws, and a distant murmuring is overheard of the question whether good faith and the maintenance of credit would not be promoted by dispensing with all laws for the collection of debts. Both the statesman and the citizens have observed, not without profound consideration, the significant fact that the fear of the law is less potential for the enforcement of obligations than commercial honor; that the protest of a notary, or even a whisper of suspicion on Change, is fraught with a cogency which neither a bench warrant nor a capias ad satisfaciendum ever possessed. Government still deals with criminals by the old-fashioned process of punishment, but both science and philanthropy concur in pronouncing that the grand remedial agency for crime is prevention, and not cure. The whole theory of vindictive punishment is rapidly obsolescent. That theory once dead, all that remains of punishment is simply defensive. Imprisonment melts into the euphemism, detention; and, while detained, the prisoner is treated tenderly, as a diseased or unfortunate person. Nor does Democracy stop at that. Democracy declares that liberty is an inalienable right, the inherent prerogative of the Individual Sovereign, of which there is no possible defeasance, even by his own act. Democracy therefore claims, or will claim, when it better understands the universality of its own pretension, either such conditions of society that criminals shall no longer be made, or else that some more delicate method of guardianship shall be devised which shall respect the dignity with which Democracy invests the Individual man.
When the battles which are thus already waged in these various departments of human affairs between Government and the Individual shall have been finally fought and won, the domain of Government will have shrunk to the merest fragment of its old dimensions. Hardly any sphere of legislation, worthy of the name, will remain, save that of the marriage and parental relations. These are subjects of great delicacy, and form, ordinarily, an insuperable barrier to the freedom of investigation in this direction. It is in connection with these subjects that men shrink with dismay from what they understand to be the program of Socialism. A brief consideration of the subject, conducted with the boldness and impartiality of science, will demonstrate, however, that the most extreme proposition of Socialism does not transcend, in the least, the legitimate operation of the fundamental principle of either Protestantism or Democracy. There is that, both in one and the other, which, carried simply out to its logical and inevitable conclusion, covers the whole case of marriage and the love relations, and completely emancipates them from the impertinent interference of human legislation. First, what says protestantism? Why, that the right of private judgment in matters of conscience is paramount to all other authority whatsoever. But marriage has been, in all ages, a subject eminently under the dominion of conscience and the religious sense. Besides, it is one of the best recognized principles of high-toned religionism that every action of the life is appropriately made matter of conscience, inasmuch as the responsibility of the Individual towards God is held to extend to every, even the minutest thing, which the Individual does. No man, we are told, can answer for his brother. This, then, settles the whole question. It abandons the whole subject to the conscience of the Individual. It implies the charge of a spiritual despotism, wholly unwarranted, for any man to interfere with the conscientious determination of any other with regard to it. Nor can it be objected, with any effect, that this role only applies when the determination of the Individual accords with, and is based upon, his own conscientious conviction, for who shall determine whether it be so or not? Clearly no one but the Individual himself. Any tribunal assuming to do it for him would be the Inquisition over again, which is the special abhorrence of Protestantism. Such, then, is the Protestant faith. But what, let us inquire, is the Protestant practice? Precisely what it should be, in strict accordance with the fundamental axiom of Protestantism. Every variety of conscience and every variety of deportment in reference to this precise subject of love is already tolerated among us. At one extreme of the scale stand the Shakers, who abjure the connection of the sexes altogether. At the other extremity stands the association of the Perfectionists at Oneida, who hold and practice, and justify by the Scriptures, as a religious dogma, what they denominate complex marriage or the freedom of love. We have, in this State, stringent laws against adultery and fornication; but laws of that sort fall powerless, in America, before the all-pervading sentiment of Protestantism, which vindicates the freedom of conscience to all persons and in all things, provided the consequences fall upon the parties themselves. Hence the Oneida Perfectionists live undisturbed and respected, in the heart of the State of New York, and in the face of the world; and the civil government, true to the Democratic principle, which is only the same principle in another application, is little anxious to interfere with this breach of its own ordinances, so long as they cast none of the consequences of their conduct upon those who do not consent to bear them.
Such, then, is the unlimited sweep of the fundamental axiom of Protestantism. Such its unhesitating endorsements, both theoretically and practically, of the whole doctrine of the absolute Sovereignty of the Individual. It does not help the matter to assert that it is an irreligious or a very immoral act to do this, or that, or the other thing. Protestantism neither asserts or denies that. It merely asserts that there is no power to determine that question higher than the Individual himself. It does not help the matter to affirm that the Scriptures, or the law of God, delivered in any form, have determined the nature and limits of marriage. Protestantism, again, neither denies that proposition nor affirms it. It merely affirms, again, that the Individual himself must decide for himself what the law of God is, and that there is no authority higher than himself to whose decision he can be required to submit. It is arrogance, self-righteousness and spiritual despotism for me to assume that you have not a conscience as well as I, and that, if you regulate your own conduct in the light of that conscience, it will not be as well regulated in the sight of God as it would be if I were to impose the decisions of my conscience upon you.
In general, however, Government still interferes with the marriage and parental relations. Democracy in America has always proceeded with due deference to the prudential motto, festina lente. In France, at the time of the first Revolution, Democracy rushed with the explosive force of escapement from centuries of compression, point blank to the bull's eye of its final destiny, from which it recoiled with such force that the stupid world has dreamed, for half a century, that the vital principle of Democracy was dead. As a logical sequence from Democratic principle, the legal obligation of marriage was sundered, and the Sovereignty of the Individual above the institution was vindicated. That the principle of Democracy is, potentially, still the same, will appear upon slight examination. Democracy denies all power to Government in matters of religion. No Democratic Government does, therefore, or can base its interference with marriage upon the religious ground. It defines marriage to be, and regards it as being, a mere civil contract. It justifies its own interference with it upon the same ground that it justifies its interference with other contracts,--namely, to enforce the civil obligations connected with it, and to insure the maintenance of children. But here, as in the case of ordinary obligations, if the conviction obtains that different conditions of society will render the present relations of property between husband and wife unnecessary, and secure, by the equitable distribution and general abundance of wealth, a universal deference on the part of parents to the dictates of nature in behalf of children. Democracy will cease to make this subject an exception to her dominant principles. A tendency to change these conditions is already shown in the passage of laws to secure to the wife an independent or individual enjoyment of property. Already the observation is made, too, that children are never abandoned among the wealthy classes, and hence the natural inference that the scientific production, the equitable distribution, and the economical employment of wealth would render human laws unnecessary to enforce the first mandate of nature,--hospitality and kindness toward offspring. The doctrine is already considerably diffused that the union of the sexes would be, not only more pure, but more permanent, in the absence, under favorable circumstances, of all legal interference. But whether that be so or not is not now the question. I am merely asserting that the inevitable tendency of Democracy, like that of Protestantism, is toward abandoning this subject to the sovereign determination of the Individual, and that Democracy in this country will attain, only more leisurely, the same point to which it went at a single leap, and from which it rebounded, in France.
It is far less obvious, judging from the practical exhibition what it has hitherto made of itself, that the essential principle of Socialism is, equally with that of Protestantism and Democracy, the Individual Sovereignty. Indeed, Socialism has been attacked and resisted more vigorously than from any other cause in consequence of an instinctive perception that the measures hitherto proposed by it sap the freedom of the Individual. The connected interests and complicated artificial organization proposed by Fourier, and the renunciation of independent ownership contemplated by Communism, have been severely criticized and denounced, and the most so, perhaps, by those who are the most thoroughly imbued with the Protestant and Democratic idea of Individuality. To understand this apparent discrepancy we must distinguish the leading idea of Socialism from the methods proposed by its advocates. The two are quite distinct from each other, and it may be that Socialism has mistaken its measures, as every human enterprise is liable to do.
Socialism demands the proper, legitimate, and just reward of labor It demands that the interests of all shall be so arranged that they shall cooperate, instead of clashing with and counteracting each other. It demands economy in the production and uses of wealth, and the consequent abolition of wretchedness and poverty. To what end does it make these demands? Clearly it is in order that every human being shall be in the full possession, control, and enjoyment of his own person and modes of seeking happiness, without foreign interference from any quarter whatsoever. This, then, is the spirit of Socialism, and it is neither more nor less than a still broader and more comprehensive assertion of the doctrine of the inherent Sovereignty of the Individual. The Socialist proposes association and combined interests merely as a means of securing that which he aims at,--justice, cooperation, and the economies of the large scale. Hence it follows that the Democrat resists and the Socialist advocates Association and Communism for precisely the same reason. It is because both want identically the same thing. The Democrat sees in connected interests a fatal stroke at his personal liberty,--the unlimited sovereignty over his own conduct,--and dreads the subjection of himself to domestic legislation, manifold committees, and continual and authorized espionage and criticism. The Socialist sees, in these same arrangements, abundance of wealth, fairly distributed among all, and a thousand beneficent results which he knows to be essential conditions to the possession or exercise of that very Sovereignty of the Individual. Each has arrived at one half the truth. The Socialist is right in asserting that all the conditions which he demands are absolutely essential to the development of the individual selfhood. He is wrong in proposing such a fatal surrender of Individual liberty for their attainment as every form of amalgamated interests inevitably involves. The Democrat is negatively wrong in omitting from his program the absolute necessity for harmonic social relations,--wrong in supposing that there can always be a safe and legitimate exercise of those rights which he declares to be inalienable, short of those superior domestic arrangements which the Socialist demands. It is futile, for example, to talk of removing the restraints of law from marriage, thus guaranteeing freedom in “the pursuit of happiness” in that relation, before the just reward of labor and the consequent prevalence of general wealth shall have created a positive security of condition for women and children. Hence the blunder of Democracy in the old French Revolution, and hence the absolute dependence of Democracy, for the working out of its own principles, upon the happy solution of all the problems of Socialism. Hence, again, the natural affinity of Democracy and Socialism, and the reason why, despite their mutual misunderstanding, they have recently fallen into each other's embrace, in France, resounding in the ears of terrified Europe the ominous cry Vive la Republique Démocratique et Sociale.
The blunder of Socialism is not in its end, but in its means. It consists in propounding a combination of interests which is opposed by the individualities of all nature, which is consequently a restriction of liberty, and which is, therefore, especially antagonistic to the very objects which Socialism proposes to attain. It is this which prevents the harmony of Democracy and Socialism, even in France, from becoming complete, and which renders inevitable the disruption of every attempted social organization which does not end disastrously in despotism,--the inverse mode in which nature vindicates her irresistible determination toward Individuality. Let that feature of the Socialist movement be retrenched, and a method of securing its great ends discovered which shall not be self-defeating in its operation, and from that point Socialism and Democracy will blend into one and, uniting with Protestantism, lose their distinctive appellations in the generic term of Individual Sovereignty.
Such a principle is already discovered. It is capable of satifactory demonstration that out of the adoption of a simple change in the commercial system of the world, by which cost and not value shall be recognized as the limit of price, will grow, legitimately, all the wealth-producing, equitable, cooperating, and harmonizing results which Socialism has hitherto sought to realize through the combination or amalgamation of interests, while, at the same time, it will leave intact, the individualities of existing society, and even promote them to an extent not hitherto conceived of. It is not now, however, the appropriate time to trace out the results of such a principle. We are concerned at present with Individuality and the spirit of the age as connected with governmental affairs.
It is already the axiom of Democracy that that is the best government which governs least,--that, in other words, which leaves the largest domain to the Individual sovereign. It may sound strange, and yet it is rigidly true, that nothing is more foreign to the essential nature of Democracy than the rule of majorities. Democracy asserts that all men are born free and equal,--that is, that every individual is of right free from the governing control of every other and of all others. Democracy asserts also, that this right is inalienable,--that it can neither be surrendered nor forfeited to another Individual, nor to a majority of other Individuals. But the practical application of this principle has been, and will always be found to be, incompatible with our existing social order. It presupposes, as I have said, the preliminary attainment of the conditions demanded by Socialism. The rule of majorities is, therefore, a compromise enforced by temporary expediency,--a sort of half-way station-house, between Despotism, which is Individuality in the concrete, and the Sovereignty of every Individual, which is Individuality in the discrete form.
Genuine Democracy is identical with the no-government doctrine. The motto to which I have alluded looks directly to that end. Finding obstacles in the present social organization to the realization of its theory, Democracy has called a halt for the present, and consented to a truce. The no-government men of our day are practically not so wise, while they are theoretically more consistent. They are, in fact, the genuine Democrats. It is they who are fairly entitled to the sobriquet of “The unterrified Democracy.” They fearlessly face all consequences, and push their doctrine quite out to its logical conclusions. In so doing, they repeat the blunder which was committed in France. They insist upon no government higher than that of the Individual, while they leave in existence those causes which imperatively demand, and will always demand so long as they exist, the intervention of just such restrictive governments as we now have.
It results from all that has been said that the essential principle of Protestantism, of Democracy, and of Socialism, is one and the same; that it is identical with what is called the spirit of the present age; and that all of them are summed up in the idea of the absolute supremacy of the Individual above all human institutions.
What, then, the question returns, is to be the upshot of this movement? If every department of modern reform is imbued with one and the same animating principle; if there be already an obvious convergence, and, prospectively, an inevitable conjunction and cooperation of the three great modern revolutionary forces, Protestantism, Democracy, and Socialism; if, even now, in their disjointed and semi-antagonistic relations, they prove more than a match for hoary conservatism; if, in addition, material inventions and reforms of all sorts concur in the same direction; if, in fine, the spirit of the age, or, more properly, of modern times, and which we recognize also as the spirit of human improvement, tends continually and with accelerated velocity toward the absolute Individualization of human affairs,--what is the inevitable goal to be ultimately reached? I have said that in religious affairs the end must be that for every man shall be his own sect. This is the simple meaning of Protestantism, interpreted in the light of its own principles. If the occasion were appropriate, it would be a glorious contemplation to dwell upon that more perfect harmony which will then reign among mankind in the religious sphere,--a unity growing out of infinite diversity, and universal deference for the slightest Individualities of opinion in others, transcending in glory that hitherto sought by the Church in artificial organizations and arbitrary creeds, as far as the new heavens and the new earth will excel the old.
Socialism demands, and will end by achieving, the untrammeled selfhood of the Individual in the private relations of life, but out of that universal selfhood shall grow the highest harmonies of social relationship. It is not these subjects, however, that are now especially appropriate. Let us restrict our specific inquiry to the remaining one of the three spheres of human affairs which we have in the general view considered conjointly,--namely, that which relates to human government.
Is it within the bounds of possibility, and, if so, is it within the limits of rational anticipation, that all human governments, in the sense in which government is now spoken of, shall pass away, and be reckoned among the useless lumber of an experimental age,--that forcible government of all sorts shall, at some future day, perhaps not far distant, be looked upon by the whole world, as we in America now look back upon the maintenance of a religious establishment, supposed in other times, and in many countries still, to be essential to the existence of religion among men; and as we look back upon the ten thousand other impertinent interferences of government, as government is practiced in those countries where it is an institution of far more validity and consistency than it has among us? Is it possible, and, if so, is it rationally probable, that the time shall ever come when every man shall be, in fine, his own nation as well as his own sect? Will this tendency to universal enfranchisement—indications of which present themselves, as we have seen, in exuberant abundance on all hands in this age—ultimate itself, by placing the Individual above all political institutions, the man above all subordination to municipal law?
To put ourselves in a condition to answer this inquiry with some satisfactory decree of certainty, we must first obtain a clear conception of the necessities out of which government grows; then of the functions which government performs; then of the specific tendencies of society in relation to those functions; and, finally, of the legitimate successorship for the existing governmental institutions of mankind.
I must apologize as well for the incompleteness as for the apparent dogmatism of any brief exposition of this subject. I assert that it is not only possible and rationally probable, but that it is rigidly consequential upon the right understanding of the constitution of man, that all government, in the sense of involuntary restraint upon the Individual, or substantially all, must finally cease, and along with it the whole complicated paraphernalia and trumpery of Kings, Emperors, Presidents, Legislatures, and Judiciary. I assert that the indications of this result abound in existing society, and that it is the instinctive or intelligent perception of that fact by those who have not bargained for so much which gives origin and vital energy to the reaction in Church and State and social life. I assert that the distance is less today forward from the theory and practice of Government as it is in these United States, to the total abrogation of all Government above that of the Individual, than it is backward to the theory and practice of Government as Government now is in the despotic countries of the old world.
The reason why apology is demanded is this: So radical a change in governmental affairs involves the concurrence of other equally radical changes in social habits, commerce, finance, and elsewhere. I have shown already, I think, that Democracy would have ended in that, had it not been obstructed by the want of certain conditions which nothing but the solution of the problems of Socialism can afford. To discuss the changes which must occur in every department of life, in order to render this revolution in Government practicable, and to provide that those changes now exist in embryo, would be to embrace the whole field of human concerns. That is clearly impossible in the compass of a lecture. But it is equally impossible to adjust the radical changes which I foretell in Government to the notion of the permanency of all other institutions in their present forms. What, then, can be done in this dilemma? I am reduced to a method of treating the subject which demands apology, both for incompleteness and apparent dogmatism. I perceive no possible method open to me but that of segregating the subject of Government from its connection with other departments of life, and deducting from principles and rational grounds of conjecture the changes which it is destined to undergo; and when those changes involve the necessity of other and corresponding changes elsewhere, to assert, as it were, dogmatically, without stopping to adduce the proofs, that these latter changes are also existing in embryo, or actually progressing.
I return now to the necessities out of which Government grows. These are in the broadest generalization: 1. to restrain encroachments, and 2. to manage the combined interests of mankind.
First, with regard to restraining encroachments and enforcing equity. Is there no better method of accomplishing this end than force, such as existing Governments are organized to apply? I affirm that there is. I affirm that a clear scientific perception of the point at which encroachment begins, in all our manifold pecuniary and moral relations with each other, an exact idea of the requirements of equity, accepted into the public mind, and felt to be capable of a precise application in action, would go tenfold further than arbitrary laws and the sanctions of laws can go, in obtaining the desired results. In saying this, I mean something definite and specific. I have already adverted to the discovery of an exact, scientific principle, capable of regulating the distribution of wealth, and introducing universal equity in pecuniary transactions,--an exact mathematical gauge of honesty,--which, when it shall have imbued the public mind, and formed the public sentiment, and come to regulate the public conduct, will secure the products of labor with impartial justice to all, and tend to remove alike the temptations and the provocations to crime. What that principle does in the sphere of commerce is done in the social and ethical spheres by the doctrine of the Sovereignty of the Individual. Both give to each his own, for it must be continually remembered that the doctrine of Sovereignty of the Individual demands that I should sedulously and religiously respect your Individuality, while I vindicate my own. These two ground principles, with a few others incident thereto, once accepted and indwelling in the minds of men, and controlling their action, will dispense with force and forcible Government. The change which I contemplate in governmental affairs rests, therefore, upon these prior or concurrent changes in the commercial, ethical, and social spheres. Statesmen and jurists have hitherto dealt with effects instead of causes. They have looked upon crime and encroachment of all sorts as a fact to be remedied, but never as a phenomenon to be accounted for. They have never gone back to inquire what conditions of existence manufactured the criminal, or provoked or induced the encroachment. A change in this respect is beginning to be observed, for the first time, in the present generation. The superiority of prevention over cure is barely beginning to be admitted,--a reform in the methods of thought which is an incipient stage of the revolution in question. The highest type of human society in the existing social order is found in the parlor. In the elegant and refined reunions of the aristocratic classes there is none of the impertinent interference of legislation. The Individuality of each is fully admitted. Intercourse, therefore, is perfectly free. Conversation is continuous, brilliant, and varied. Groups are formed according to attraction. They are continuously broken up, and re-formed through the operation of the same subtle and all-pervading influence. Mutual deference pervades all classes, and the most perfect harmony, ever yet attained, in complex human relations, prevails under precisely those circumstances which Legislators and Statesmen dread as the conditions of inevitable anarchy and confusion. If there are laws of etiquette at all, there are mere suggestions of principles admitted into and judged of for himself or herself, by each individual mind.
Is it conceivable that in all the future progress of humanity, with all the innumerable elements of development which the present age is unfolding, society generally, and in all its relations, will not attain as high a grade of perfection as certain portions of society, in certain special relations, have already attained?
Suppose the intercourse of the parlor to be regulated by specific legislation. Let the time which each gentlemen shall be allowed to speak to each lady be fixed by law; the position in which they should sit or stand be precisely regulated; the subjects which they shall be allowed to speak of, and the tone of voice and accompanying gestures with which each may be treated, carefully defined, all under pretext of preventing disorder and encroachment upon each other's privileges and rights, then can any thing be conceived better calculated or more certain to convert social intercourse into intolerable slavery and hopeless confusion?
It is precisely in this manner that municipal legislation interferes with and prevents the natural organization of society. Mankind legislate themselves into confusion by their effort to escape it. Still, a state of society may perhaps be conceived, so low in social development that even the intercourse of the parlor could not be prudently indulged without a rigid code of deportment and the presence of half a dozen bailiffs to preserve order. I will not deny, therefore, that Government in municipal affairs is, in like manner, a temporary necessity of undeveloped society. What I affirm is that along with, and precisely in proportion to, the social advancement of a people, that necessity ceases, so far as concerns the first of the causes of Government referred to,--the necessity for restraining encroachments.
The second demand for Government is to manage the combined interests of society. But combined or amalgamated interests of all sorts are opposed to Individuality. The Individuality of interests should be as absolute as that of persons. Hence the number and extent of combined interests will be reduced with every step in the genuine progress of mankind. The cost principle will furnish in its operation the means of conducting the largest human enterprises, under Individual guidance and control. It strips capital of its iniquitous privilege of oppressing labor by earning an income of its own, in the form of interest, and places it freely at the disposal of those who will preserve and administer it best, upon the sole conditions of returning it unimpaired, but without augmentation, at the appropriate time, to its legitimate owners.
A glance at the functions which Government actually performs, and the specific tendencies which society now exhibits in relation to those functions, will confirm the statement that all, or most of, the combined interests of society will be finally disintegrated and committed to individual hands. It is one of the acknowledged functions of Government, until now, to regulate commerce. But, as we have already seen, the spirit of the age demands that Government shall let commerce alone. In this country, an important Bureau of the Executive Department of Government is the Land Office. But the public domain is, we have seen, already demanded by the people, and the Land Office will have to be dispensed with. The Army and Navy refer to a state of international relations of which every thing begins to prognosticate the final extinction. The universal extension of commerce and intercommunication, by means of steam navigation, railroads, and the magnetic telegraph, together with the general progress of enlightenment, are rapidly obliterating natural boundaries, and blending the human family into one. The cessation of war is becoming a familiar idea, and, with the cessation of war, armies and navies will cease, of course, to be required. It is probable that even the existing languages of the earth will melt, within another century or two, into one common and universal tongue, from the same causes, operating upon a more extended scale, as those which have blended the dialects of the different countries of England, of the different departments of France, and of the kingdoms of Spain into the English, the French and the Spanish languages, respectively. We have premonitions of the final disbanding of the armies and navies of the world in the substitution of a citizen militia, in the growing unpopularity of even that ridiculous shadow of an army, the militia itself, and in the substitution of the merchant steamship with merely an incidental warlike equipment instead of the regular man-of-war. The Navy and War Departments of Government will thus be dispensed with. The State Department now takes charge of the intercourse of the nation with foreign nations. But with the cessation of war there will be no foreign nations, and consequently the State or Foreign Department may in turn take itself away. Patriotism will expand into philanthrophy. Nations, like sects, will dissolve into the individuals who compose them. Every man will be his own nation, and, preserving his own sovereignty and respecting the sovereignty of others, he will be a nation at peace with all others. The term, “a man of the world,” reveals the fact that it is the cosmopolite in manners and sentiments whom the world already recognizes as the true gentleman,--the type and leader of civilization. The Home Department of Government is a common receptacle of odds and ends, every one of whose functions would be better managed by Individual enterprise, and might take itself away with advantage any day. The Treasury Department is merely a kind of secretory gland, to provide the means of carrying on the machinery of the other Departments. When they are removed, it will of course have no apology left for continuing to exist. Finances for administering Government will no longer be wanted when there is no longer any Government to administer. The Judiciary is, in fact, a branch of the Executive, and falls of course, as we have seen, with the introduction of principles which will put an end to aggression and crime. The Legislature enacts what the Executive and Judiciary execute. If the execution itself is unnecessary, the enactment of course is no less so. Thus, piece by piece, we dispose of the whole complicated fabric of Government, which looms up in such gloomy grandeur, overshadowing the freedom of the Individual, impressing the minds of men with a false conviction of its necessity, as if it were, like the blessed light of day, indispensable to life and happiness.
There is abundant evidence to the man of reflection that what we have thus performed in imagination is destined to be rapidly accomplished in fact. There is, perhaps, no one consideration which looks more directly to that consummation than the growing unpopularity of politics, in every phase of the subject. In America this fact is probably obvious than anywhere else. The pursuit of politics is almost entirely abandoned to lawyers, and generally it is the career of those who are least successful in that profession. The general repugnance of the masses of mankind for that class of the community, by which they testify an instinctive appreciation of the outrage upon humanity committed by the attempt to reduce the impertinent interference of legislation to a science, and to practice it as a learned profession, is intensified, in the case of the politician, by the element of contempt. In the sham Democracies, wherein majorities govern, the condition of the office-seeker and of the office-holder is alike and peculiarly unfortunate. Defeated, he is consigned unceremoniously, by popular opinion, to the category of the “poor devil.” Successful, he is denounced as a political hack. His position is preeminently precarious. Whatever veneration attaches still to the manufacturers and executors of law among us is mostly traditionary. So much of the popular estimation of the men whose business is governing the fellow-men as is the indigenous growth of our institutions is essentially disrespectful. The politician, in a republic, is a man whose business it is to please everybody, and who, consequently, has no personality of his own, and this, here and now, in a country and age in which distinctive personality is becoming the type and model of society. It is regarded today as a misfortune, in the families of respectable tradespeople, if a son of any promise has an unlucky turn for political preferment. Those who execute the laws are in little better plight than those who make them. Recently, throughout most of the States, when changes have been made in the fundamental law, the tenure of office of judges of all ranks has been reduced to a short period of from two to four years, and the office rendered elective. Such is the fearful descent upon which the dignity of powered wigs is fairly launched in Republican America. Judges, Chancellors and Chief Justices entering the canvass, at short intervals, for returns to the Bench, and shaking hands with greasy citizens as the price of judicial authority. It is said that familiarity breeds contempt, or that no man is great to his valet de chambre. When the inhabitants of a heathen country begin to treat their priests and their wooden divinities with contemptuous familiarity, wise men see that the power of Paganism is broken, and the Medicine-man, the Fetish, or the Juggernaut must soon give place to some more rational conception of the religious idea. At the ratio of depreciation actually progressing, office-holding of all sorts, in these United States, from the president down to the constable, will, in a few years more, be ranked in the public mind as positively disreputable. In the higher condition of society, toward which mankind is unconsciously advancing, men will shun all responsibility for and arbitrary control over the conduct of others as sedulously as during past ages they have sought them as the chief good. Washington declined to be made king, and the whole world has not ceased to make the welkin ring with laudations of the disinterested act. The time will come yet when the declinature, on all hands, of every species of governmental authority over others will not even be deemed a virtue, but simply the plain dictate of enlightened self-interest. The sentiment of the poet will then be recognized as an axiom of philosophy.
Whoever mounts the throne,--King, Priest, or Prophet,--Man alike shall groan.
Carlyle complains, in the bitterness of his heart, that the true kings and governors of mankind have retired in disgust from the task of governing the world, and betaken themselves to the altogether private business of governing themselves. Whenever the world at large shall become as wise as they, when all men shall be content to govern themselves. Whenever the world at large shall become as wise as they, when all men shall be content to govern themselves merely, then, and not till then, will “The True Constitution of Government” begin to be installed. Carlyle has but discovered the fact that good men are withdrawing from politics, without penetrating the rationale of the phenomenon. He may call upon them in vain till he is hoarse to return to the arena of a contest which has been waged for some six thousand years or so, with continuous defeat, at a time when they are beginning to discover that the whole series of bloody conflicts has been fought with windmills instead of giants, and that what the world wants, in the way of government, is letting alone.
But what then? Have we arrived at the upshot of the whole matter when we have, in imagination, swept all the actual forms of Government out of existence? Is human society, in its mature and normal condition, to be a mere aggregation of men and women, standing upon the unrelieved dead level of universal equality? Is there to be no homage, no rank, no honors, no transcendent influence, no power, in fine, exerted by one man over his fellow-men? Will there be nothing substantially corresponding to, and specifically substituted for, what is now known among men as Human Government?
This is the question to which we are finally conducted by the current of our investigations, and to this question I conceive the answer to be properly affirmative. Had I not believed so, there would have been no propriety in the title, “The True Constitution of Government,” under which I announced this discourse. It might be thought by some a sufficient answer to the question that might be thought by some a sufficient answer to the question that principles, and not men, will then constitute the Government of mankind. So vague a statement, however, does not give complete satisfaction to the inquisitive mind, nor does it meet the interrogatory in all its varying forms. We wish to know what will be the positions, relatively to each other, into which men will be naturally thrown by the operation of that perfect liberty which will result from the prevalence and toleration of universal Individuality. We desire to know this especially, now, with reference to that class of the mutual relations of men which will correspond most exactly to the relations of the governors and the governed.
Negatively, it is certain that in such a state of society as that which we are now contemplating no influence will be tolerated, in the place of Government, which is maintained or exerted by force in any, even the subtlest, forms of involuntary compulsion. But there is still a sense in which men are said to exert power,--a sense in which the wills of the governor and the governed concur, and blend, and harmonize with each other. It is in such a sense as this that the great orator is said to control the minds of his audience, or that some matchless queen of song sways an irresistible influence over the ears of men. When mankind graduate out of the period of brute force, that man will be the greatest hero and conqueror who levies the heaviest tribute of homage by excellence of achievement in any department of human performance. The avenues to distinction will not be then, as now, open only to the few. Each individual will truly govern the minds, and ears, and conduct of others. Those who have the most power to impress themselves upon the community in which they live will govern in larger, and those who have less will govern in smaller spheres. All will be priests and kings, serving at the innumerable altars and sitting upon the thrones of that manifold hierarchy, the foundations of which God himself has laid in the constitution of man. Genius, talent, industry, discovery, the power to please, every development of Individuality, in fine, which meets the approbation of another, will be freely recognized as the divine anointing which constitutes him a sovereign over others,--a sovereign having sovereigns for his subjects,--subjects whose loyalty is proved and known, because they are ever free to transfer their fealty to other lords. With the growing development of Individuality even in this age, new spheres of honorable distinction are continually evolved. The accredited heroes of our times are neither politicians nor warriors. It is the discoverers of great principles, the projectors of beneficent designs, and the executors of magnificent undertakings of all sorts who, even now, command the homage of mankind. While politics are falling into desuetude and contempt, while war, from being the admiration of the world, is rapidly becoming its abhorrence, the artist and the artisan are rising into relative importance and estimation. Even the undistinguished workers, as they have hitherto been, shall hereafter hold seats as Cabinet Ministers in the new hierarchical government, which shall shadow, in those days, with its overspreading magnificence, the dwellings of regenerated humanity. In that stupendous administration, extending from the greatest down to the least things of human discernment, there shall be no lack of functionaries and no limit upon patronage. Of that social state, which opens the avenues of all honorable pursuits to all, upon terms of equity and mutual cooperation, it may be truly said, as was said by the Great Teacher, when speaking of another kingdom,--if indeed it be another,--”In my Father's house there are many mansions.” The laudable ambition of all will then be fully gratified. There will be no defeated candidates in the political campaigns of that day. Where the interests of all are identical, even the superiority of another is success, and the glory of another is a personal triumph.
A superficial observer might judge that there was more prosperity and power in a petty principality of Germany than there is in the United States of America, because he sees more pomp and magnificence surrounding the court of a puppet prince, whom men call the ruler of that people. No one but an equally superficial observer will mistake the phantom, called Government, which resides in the Halls and Departments at Washington—the mere ghost of what such a Government once was, in its palmy days of despotism—for a nearer approximation to the true organization of Government than that natural arrangement of society which divides and distributes the functions of governing into ten thousand Departments and Bureaus at the homes, in the workshops, and at the universities of the people.
If that trumpery Government be called such, because it performs important public functions, then have we distinguished private individuals among us who are already preeminently more truly Governors than they. If the concern at Washington is legitimately denominated a Government of the people, because it controls and regulates a Post Office Department, for example, then are the Harndens and Adamses Governors too, for they control and regulate a Package Express Department, which is a greater and more difficult thing. They carry bigger bundles, and carry them farther, and deliver them with more regularity and dispatch. It is stated, upon authority which I presume to be reliable, that Adams & Co.'s Express is the most extensive organization of any sort in the world,--that it is, in fact, absolutely world-wide; and yet it is strictly an individual concern. As an instance of the superiority of administration in the private enterprise of the national combination, I was myself at Washington during the last winter, when the mails were interrupted by the breaking up of a railroad bridge between Baltimore and Philadelphia, and when, for nearly two weeks, the newspapers of the Commercial Metropolis were regularly delayed, one whole day, on their way to the Political metropolis of the country, while the same papers came regularly and promptly through every day by the private expresses. The President, Members of Congress, and Cabinet Ministers, even the Postmaster-General himself was regularly served with the news by the enterprise of a private individual, who performed one of the functions of the Government, in opposition to the Government, and better than the Government, levying tribute upon the very functionary of the Government who was elected, consecrated, and anointed for the performance of that identical function. Who, then, was the true Governor and Cabinet Minister, the Postmaster General, who was daily dispatching messengers to rectify the irregularity, and issuing bulletins to explain and apologize for it, or the Adams Express man, who conquered the difficulty, and served the public, when the so-called Government failed to do it? The fault is that the Government goes by rule, preordained in the form of law, and consequently has no capacity for adapting itself to the Individuality of an unforeseen contingency. It has not the Individual deciding power and promptitude of action which are absolutely necessary for such occasions.
It is the actual performance of the function which is all that there is good in the idea of Government. All that there is besides that is mere restriction, and consequent annoyance and oppression of the public, as when our Government undertook to suppress those private expresses, which serve the public better than it. The point, then, is thus: I affirm that every useful function, or nearly every one which is now performed by Government, and the use of which will remain in the more advanced conditions of mankind, toward which the present tendencies of society converge, can be better performed by the Individual, self-elected and self-authorized, than by any constituted Government whatsoever; and further, since it is the performance of the function, and the influence which the performance of the function exerts over the conduct, and to the advantage of men, which makes the true Governor, it follows, I affirm, that the Adams Express man was, in the case I have mentioned, the true Governor, and that the Postmaster General, and the whole innumerable gang of Legislators and Executors of the law at his back, were the sham Governors, such as the world is getting ready to discharge on perpetual furlough.
It is possible that there may be a few comparatively unimportant interests of mankind which are so essentially combined in their nature that some species of artificial organization will always be necessary for their management. I do not, for example, see how the public highways can be properly laid out and administered by the private individual. Let us resort, then, to science for the solution of this anomaly, for every subject has its science, the true social relations of mankind as well as all others. The inexorable natural law which governs this subject is this: that nature demands everywhere an individual lead. Every combined interest must therefore come ultimately to be governed by an individual mind, to be entrusted, in other words, to a despotism. It is the recognition of this law which is embodied in the political axiom that “power is constantly stealing from the hands of the many into the hands of the few,” It is this scientific principle, lying down in the very nature of things, which constitutes both the rationale of monarchy and its appropriate apology. The lesson of wisdom to be deduced from this principle is not, however, as our political leaders have preached to us, that “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance,”--a liberty which is not worth possession if it cannot be enjoyed in security, and a vigilance which is only required to be exercised in order to defeat the legitimate operation of the most universal and fundamental law of nature. The true lesson of political wisdom is simply this: that no interests should ever be entrusted to a combination which are too important to be surrendered understandingly and voluntarily to the guidance of a despotism. Government, therefore, in the present sense of the term, can never, from the very essential nature of the case, be compatible with the safety of the liberties of the people, until the sphere of its authority is reduced to the very narrowest dimensions,--never until the mere commission,--a board of overseers of roads and canals, and such other unimportant interests as experience shall prove can not be so readily managed by irresponsible individual action.
It is this latter alone which will then truly merit the imposing title of Government. There is a sense, as I have said, in which that term is fairly applicable to the natural organization of the interrelations of men. If Genin, or Leary, or Knox devises a new fashion for hats, and manufactures hats in the style so devised, and the style pleases you and me, and we buy the hats and wear them, therein is an example, a humble example, perhaps you will think, but still a genuine example, of true Government. The individual hatter is self-elected to his function. I, in giving him the preference over another, express my conviction of his fitness for that function, of his superiority over others. I vote for him. I give him my suffrage. I confirm his election. The abstract statement of the true order of Government, then, is this: it is that Government in which the rulers elect themselves, and are voted for afterward.
The uncouth and unscrupulous despot proclaims that he governs mankind in his own right,--the right of the strongest. The modernized and somewhat civilized despot announces that he governs by divine right; that he is the God-appointed ruler of the people, by virtue of the fact that he finds himself a ruler at all. The more modern Democratic Governor claims to rule by virtue of the will of a majority. The true Governor rules by virtue of all these authorizations combined. He rules in his own right, because he is self-elected, and exercises his function in accordance with his own choice. He rules by authorization of the majority, because it is he who receives the suffrages of the largest number who governs most extensively, and finally, he, of all men, can be appropriately said to rule by divine right. His own judgment of his own fitness for his function, confirmed by the approval of those whom he desires to govern, are the highest possible evidence of the divinity of his claim, of the fact, in other words, that he was created and designed by God himself for the most perfect performance of that particular function.
What, then, society has to do is to remove the obstructions to this universal self-election, by every Individual, of himself, to that function which his own consciousness of his own adaptation prompts him to believe to be his peculiar God-intended office in life. Throw open the polls, make the pulpit, the school-room, the workshop, the manufactory, the shipyard, and the storehouse the universal ballot-boxes of the people. Make every day an election day, and every human being both a candidate and a voter, exercising each day and hour his full and unlimited franchise.
In order to this consummation, two conditions are indispensably necessary: the first is the cordial and universal acceptance of this very principle of the absolute Sovereignty of the Individual,--each claiming his own Sovereignty, and each religiously respecting that of all others. The second is the equitable interchange of the products of labor, measured by the scientific law relating to that subject to which I have referred, and the consequent security to each of the full enjoyment and unlimited control of just that portion of wealth which he or she produces, the effect of which will be the introduction of general comfort and security, the moderation of avarice, and the supply of a definite knowledge of the limits of rights and encroachments.
The instrumentalities necessary for hastening the adoption of these principles are likewise, chiefly, two: these are, first, a more intense longing for true and harmonic relations; and, secondly, a clear intellectual conception of the principles themselves, and of the consequences which would flow from their adoption. The first is a highly religious aspiration, the second is a process of scientific induction. One is the soul and the other the sensible body, the spiritual substance and the corporeal form, of social harmony. The teachings of Christianity have inspired the one, the illumination of science must provide the other. Intellectual resources brought to the aid of Desire constitute the marriage of Wisdom with Love, whose progeny is Happiness.
When from the lips of truth one mighty breath
Shall, like a whirlwind, scatter in its breeze
The whole dark pile of human mockeries,
Then shall the race of mind commence on earth,
And, starting fresh, as from a second birth,
Man, in the sunshine of the world's new spring,
Shall walk transparent, like some holy thing.
It would, perhaps, be injudicious to conclude this exhibit of the doctrine of the Individual Sovereignty, without a more formal statement of the scientific limit upon the exercise of that Sovereignty which the principle itself supplies. If the principle were predicated of one Individual alone, the assertion of his Sovereignty, or, in other words, of his absolute right to do as he pleases, or to pursue his own happiness in his own way, would be confessedly to invest him with the attributes of despotism over others. But the doctrine which I have endeavored to set forth is not that. It is the assertion of the concurrent Sovereignty of all men, and of all women, and, within the limits I am about to state, of all children. This concurrence of Sovereignty necessarily and appropriately limits the Sovereignty of each. Each is Sovereign only within his own dominions, because he cannot extend the exercise of his Sovereignty beyond those limits without trenching upon, and interfering with, the prerogatives of others, whose Sovereignty the doctrine equally affirms. What, then, constitutes the boundaries of one's own dominion? This is a pregnant question for the happiness of mankind, and one which has never, until now, been specifically and scientifically asked, or answered. The answer, if correctly given, will fix the precise point at which Sovereignty ceases and encroachment begins, and that knowledge, as I have said, accepted into the public mind, will do more than laws, and the sanctions of laws, to regulate individual conduct and intercourse. The limitation is this: every Individual is the rightful Sovereign over his own conduct in all things, whenever, and just so far as, the consequences of his conduct can be assumed by himself; or, rather, inasmuch as no one objects to assuming agreeable consequences, whenever, and as far as, this is true of the disagreeable consequences. For disagreeable consequences, endurance, or burden of all sorts, the term “Cost” is elected as a scientific technicality. Hence, the exact formula of the doctrine, with its inherent limitation, may be stated thus: “The Sovereignty of the Individual, to be exercised at his own cost.”
This limitation of the doctrine, being inherent, and necessarily involved in the idea of the Sovereignty of all, may possibly be left with safety, after the limitation is understood, to implication, and the simple Sovereignty of the Individual be asserted as the inclusive formula. The limitation has never been distinctly and clearly set forth in the announcements which have been made either of the Protestant or the Democratic creed. Protestantism promulgates the one single, bald, unmodified proposition that in all matters of conscience the Individual judgment is the sole tribunal, from there is no appeal. As against this there is merely the implied right in others to resist when the conscience of the Individual leads him to attack or encroach upon them. It is the same with the Democratic prerogative of the “pursuit of happiness.” The limitation has been felt rather than distinctly and scientifically propounded.
It results from this analysis that, wherever such circumstances exist that a person cannot exercise his own Individuality and Sovereignty without throwing the “cost”, or burden, of his actions upon others, the principle has so far to be compromised. Such circumstances arise out of connected or amalgamated interests, and the sole remedy is disconnection. The exercise of Sovereignty is the exercise of the deciding power. Whoever has to bear the cost should have the deciding power in every case. If one has to bear the cost of another's conduct, and just so far as he has to do so, he should have the deciding power over the conduct of the other. Hence dependence and close connections of interest demand continual concessions and compromises. Hence, too, close connection and mutual dependence is the legitimate and scientific root of Despotism, as disconnection or Individualization of interests is the root of freedom and emancipation.
If the close combination, which demands the surrender of our will to another, is one instituted by nature, as in the case of the mother and the infant, then the relation is a true one, notwithstanding. The surrender is based upon the fact that the child is not yet strictly an Individual. The unfolding of its Individuality is gradual, and its growing development is precisely marked, by the increase of its ability to assume the consequences of its own acts. If the close combination of interests is artificial or forced, then the parties exist toward each other in false relations, and to false relations no true principle can apply. Consequently, in such relations, the Sovereignty of the Individual must be abandoned. The law of such relations is collision and conflict, to escape which, while remaining in the relations there is no other means but mutual concessions and surrenders of the selfhood. Hence, inasmuch as the interests of mankind have never yet been scientifically individualized by the operations of an equitable commerce, and the limits of encroachment never scientifically defined, the axioms of morality, and even the provisions of positive legislation, have been doubtless appropriate adaptations to the ages of false social relations to which they have been applied, as the cataplasm or sinapism may be for disordered conditions of the human system. We must not, however, reason, in either case, from that temporary adaptation in a state of disease to the healthy condition of society or the Individual. Much that is relatively good is only good as a necessity growing out of evil. The greater good is the removal of the evil altogether. The almshouse and the foundling hospital may be necessary and laudable charities, but they can only be regarded by the enlightened philanthropist as the stinking apothecary's salve, or the dead flies, applied to the bruises and sores of the body politic. Admitted temporary necessities, they are offensive to the nostrils of good taste. The same reflection is applicable to every species of charity. The oppressed classes do not want charity, but justice, and with simple justice the necessity for charity will disappear or be reduced to a minimum. So in the matter before us. The disposition to forgo one's own pleasures to secure the happiness of others is a positive virtue in all those close connections of interest which render such a sacrifice necessary, and inasmuch as such have hitherto always been the circumstances of the Individual in society, this abnegation of selfhood is the highest virtue which the world has hitherto conceived. But these close connections of interest are themselves wrong, for the very reason that they demand this sacrifice and surrender of what ought to be enjoyed and developed to the highest extent. The truest and the highest virtue, in the true relations of men, will be the fullest unfolding of all the Individualities of each, not only without collision or injury to any, but with mutual advantage to all,--the reconciliation of the Individual and the interests of the Individual with society and the interests of society,--that composite harmony, or, if you will, unity, of the whole, which results from the discrete unity and distinctive Individuality of each particular monad in the complex natural organization of society.
The doctrine of Individuality, and the Sovereignty of the Individual, involves, then, at this point, two of the most important scientific consequences, the one serving as a guiding principle to the true solution of existing evils in society, and to the exodus out of the prevailing confusion, and the other as a guiding principle of deportment in existing society, while those evils remain. The first is that the Sovereignty of the Individual, or, in other words, absolute personal liberty, can only be enjoyed along with the entire disintegration of combined or amalgamated interests; and here the “cost principle” comes in to point out how that disintegration can and must take place, not as isolation, but along with, and absolutely productive of the utmost conceivable harmony and cooperation. The second is that, while people are forced, by the existing conditions of society, to remain in the close connections resulting from amalgamated interests, there is no alternative but compromise and mutual concession, or an absolute surrender upon one side or the other. The innate Individualities of persons are such that every calculation based upon the identity of tastes, or opinions, or beliefs, or judgments, of even so many as two persons, is absolutely certain to be defeated, and as Nature demands an Individuality of lead, one must necessarily surrender to the other whenever the relation demands an identity of action. To quarrel with that necessity is a folly. To deny its existence is a delusion. To enter such combinations with the expectation that liberty and Individuality can be enjoyed in them is a sore aggravation of the evil. Mutual recrimination is added to the inevitable annoyance of mutual restriction. Hence a right understanding of the scientific conditions under which alone Individuality can be indulged, a clear and intelligent perception of the fact that the collisions and mutual contraventions of the combined relation result from nothing wrong in the associated Individuals, but from the wrong of the relation itself, goes far to introduce the spirit of mutual forbearance and toleration, and thus to soften the acrimony and alleviate the burden of the present imperfect and unscientific institutions of society.
Hence, again, as self-sacrifice and denial to one's self of one's own abstract rights is an absolute necessity of the existing order of things, there is a mutual necessity that we claim that of each other, and, if need be, that we enforce the claim. Herein lies the apology for our existing Governments, and for force as a temporary necessity, and hence the doctrine of Individuality, and the Sovereignty of the Individual, while the most ultra-radical doctrine in theory and final purpose ever promulgated in the world, is at the same time eminently conservative in immediate practice. While it teaches, in principle, the prospective disruption of nearly every existing institution, it teaches concurrently, as matter of expediency, a patient and philosophical endurance of the evils around us, while we labor assiduously for their removal. So far from quarreling with existing Government, when it is put upon the footing of temporary expediency, as distinguished from the abstract principle and final purpose, it sanctions and confirms it. It has no sympathies with aimless and fruitless struggles, the recrimination of different classes in society, nor with merely anarchical and destructive onslaughts upon existing institutions. It proposes no chaotic, abrupt and sudden shock to existing society. It points to a scientific, gradual, and perfectly peaceable substitution of new and harmonious relations for those which are confessedly beset, to use the mildest expression, by the most distressing embarrassments.
I will conclude by warning you against one other misconception, which is very liable to be entertained by those to whom Individuality is for the first time presented as the great remedy for the prevalent evils of the social state. I mean the conception that Individuality has something in common with isolation, or the severance of all personal relations with one's fellow-men. Those who entertain this idea will object to it, because they desire, as they will say, cooperation and brotherhood. That objection is conclusive proof that they have not rightly comprehended the nature of Individuality, or else they would have seen that it is through the Individualization of interests alone that harmonic cooperation and universal brotherhood can be attained. It is not the disruption of relationships, but the creation of distinct and independent personalities between whom relations can exist. The more distinct the personalities, and the more cautiously they are guarded and preserved, the more intimate the relations may be, without collision or disturbance. Persons may be completely individualized in their interests who are in the most immediate personal contact, as in the case of the lodgers at an hotel, or they may have combined or amalgamated interests, and be remote from each other, as in the case of partners residing in different countries. The players at shuttlecock cooperate in friendly competition with each other, while facing and opposing each other, each fully directing his own movements, which they could not do if their arms and legs were tied together, nor even if they stood side by side. The game of life is one which demands the same freedom of movement on the part of every player, and every attempt to procure harmonious cooperation by fastening different individuals in the same position will defeat its own object.
In opposing combinations or amalgamated interests, Individuality does not oppose, but favors and conducts toward cooperation. But, on the other hand, Individuality alone is not sufficient to insure cooperation. It is an essential element of cooperative harmony, but not the only one. It is one principle in the science of society, but it is not the whole of that science. Other elements are indispensable to the right working of the system, one of which has been adverted to. The error has been in suppressing that, because the Individuality which is already realized in society has not ultimated in harmony, that Individuality itself is in fault. Instead of destroying this one true element of order, and returning to a worse condition from which we have emerged, the scientific method is to investigate further, and find what other or complementary principles are necessary to complete the well-working of the social machinery.
Regretting that the whole circle of the new principles of society, of which the Sovereignty of the Individual is one, cannot be presented at once. I invite you, Ladies and Gentlemen, as occasion may offer, to inform yourselves of what they are, that you may see the subject in its entire connection of parts. In the meantime I submit to your criticism, and the criticism of the world, what I have now offered, with the undoubting conviction that it will endure the ordeal of the most searching investigation, and with the hope that, however it may shock the prejudices of earlier education, you will in the end sanction and approve it, and aid, by your devoted exertions, the inauguration of the True Constitution of Government, with its foundations laid in the Sovereignty of the Individual.