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spiritual desert. The old ideals fall from him, the old shibboleths cease to exercise authority, long before he has found opportunity or developed capacity to recognize the new. This entails a period of unlovely materialism, cheap ideals and often asocial conduct.
No civilization worthy of the name can be a patchwork quilt, with pretty colors added here and there. We do not expect to add to our institutions the harem of Turkey, or the tribal organization of the Berber, or the juridical methods of the Tong and the Maffia. Our civilization is an organic structure, adapted one part to another. Such variations and improvements as are to be made must have some regard to the original architecture and some consideration of the strength of the structural parts and the load-bearing capacity of amalgam. The more promptly our new citizens throw off the beliefs that keep them apart from the rest of us, the sooner they can begin to make their individual and characteristic contribution to the bettering of our civilization. Nevertheless there is upon us a special responsibility to help the immigrant through that transition, with delicate respect for the ideals which we ask him to give up at the same time that we press upon him the ideals which we hope he will in time feel are closer and dearer to him than those he has surrendered. No social concepts which do not imply this tolerance are entitled to or can expect to win allegiance from the men and women who come here to help us build up a righteous and enduring civilization.
IV The Russian Bolshevists cry out against a democracy like ours, which they denounce as the tool of the capitalist class. To their minds the irrefutable evidence of this is our national habit of proceeding in our social reforms one step at a time. Theirs is an all-or-nothing doctrine to which we, more experienced both in the difficulties and the possibilities of living bearably together, cannot subscribe. Our imaginations are too seasoned to get much comfort from the idea of a complete turnover, however exhilarating such a picture might be to the revolutionist. Whatever curse may be upon us at any time, capitalistic tyranny or the throttling grip of the trade union, our natural method of getting rid of it is not by capsizing the State, but by working out checks and balances to offset the evil and still retain some good in living for the rest of us. Nor is our governmental machinery entirely without devices to enable us to do this, however the Bolshevists may decry it. The most complete answer that could be made to such critics of our democracy was given in the victory of the NonPartisan League in North Dakota. Whatever the soundness or unsoundness of that party's theory of government or the success or failure of the experiments it has tried, its coming into power has afforded an example of the possibilities of radical alterations of method within the democracy, dependent solely upon a conversion of a majority of the voters to any proposed changes. Nothing much more radical was tried in Russia; the chief distinction was the substitution of ballots for bayonets in the Dakota adventure. Such limitations as there are to the complete control of our affairs by any party, limitations imposed by the constitution guaranteeing the rights of the individual, would find critics only among the “tender-minded” of Professor James's classification. The protection of the individual and the safeguarding of his freedom of speech and conduct are the assurance of those very liberties which make progress possible.
The fundamental difference between the Bolshevist method and the democratic is the difference between the practice of the methods of revolution and of the methods of evolution. Faith in the endless possibilities of political evolution is a traditional American faith. If it is to persist, those who do not carry the belief as a racial inheritance must be trained in its tenets until they become ingrained. Unless our people accept this political faith, and unless we remove every impediment to peaceful change and alteration, revolution may inevitably overtake us. At best revolution is a tragedy. From its ruins some structure must be built up to hold and express the new society. Why then pass through the horrors of revolution in the transit? The chaos of the overturn is not a necessary prelude to the new construction. All it can ever achieve is a change of mind; and a civilization, designed to make that a daily possibility, should be proof against the hysteria of the revolutionist. A respect for evolution as a political method must become the very form of our thinking,
strange and alien though it may seem to the unaccustomed minds of some of our immigrants, or democracy goes down in failure.
V A civilization built up on a theory of equality of opportunity, designed to do without a caste system or hereditary classes, able to contemplate with equanimity the three-generation transition from shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves, must hold as one of its chief articles of faith a profound respect for the dignity of labor. Every function performed in a democratic society, whether it so exists in the consciousness of the performer or not, is a service to the community as a whole, independent of the loss or gain to the individual himself. Human contributions are rightly measured, not by the financial reward given or received, but in terms of social gain, the degree of service rendered. Such an evaluation eliminates any moral distinction between the contribution of labor and capital, or between the manual and the brain worker, the mechanic and the manager.
The capitalist who boasts of himself as a philanthropist because he gives work to a thousand men is the naïve expositor of an ancient and long-since discarded economic theory. He ignores the fact that without these men to convert crude substances into finished products his capital represents just so much junk. The workmen might equally claim that they were philanthropists in turning his raw materials into marketable goods. On the other hand the laborer's contention that, because his work is done with his hands and the capitalist's with his savings, there is a moral gulf between the two, is equally unsound. The difference between the two contributions may be merely one of time. The capitalist may be one who amassed his capital in carlier years by the work of his hand or brain and is now utilizing in further production that which he abstained from spending. The capitalist, in spite of all the connotation of excessive wealth the word brings to the lay mind, is not the bloated creature of the popular cartoon, clutching his money bags, but is you or 1 with inat hundred dollars we put in the bank against the emergency of a rainy day. Are we by that very act more iniquitous than the loafer who earns nothing or the spendthrift who saves nothing?
We must train our citizens to respect many ideals and abstractions at the cost perhaps of great pain to themselves, but there is one human ideal above all which they must respect if our civilization is to do more than merely mark time. In so far as we are able to define it and in so far as we are capable of recognizing it we must hold truth in the highest honor. Truth is man's formulation of the actualities of life, freed to the extent of his critical ability from the distortion incident to its transfer through a fallible human mind. The votaries of truth are under a double compulsion: they must be intelligent enough to know the truth when they see it; and they must be courageous enough to act upon it when they have mastered it. Most of us muddle through life without sufficient sharpness of intellect to discriminate between the true and the false, but the minds of those marked by the gods to lead in the advance of the race are of a quality “defenseless against the truth”. These minds, flooded by the great realities that lie about them, reveal the truth, but look to us to act upon their findings. How often we are found unworthy of the trust!
Many a truth is kept without the pale because it fails to fit in comfortably with our favorite preconceptions. The warfare between science and religion has a long history and one that is not yet ended. Nor is revealed religion the only enemy of truth. Economists and psuedo-economists cling to their fallacies. That a proper wage is not an actual sum of money but a relation between producing ability and the buying power of an artificial medium of exchange, is a truth that is hard for the employee to appreciate on a falling market and the employer on a rising market. The conviction that alcohol is a stimulant has, in the minds of many, survived by many years the laboratory demonstration of its fallaciousness. That every disease has its antidotal herb or drug is a belief that fills the coffers of the apothecaries and is proof against the continued discrediting of it by science. And yet an ability to recognize truth and to guide conduct by its light is of vital importance to the sovereigns of a democracy whose will is law and the findings of whose intelligence decide the ways of life for us all.
Some European wit has said that truth-telling is an invention of the English. There are some Europeans who convince us that the invention must have been patented in London for home consumption only. Governments may be workable on a basis of personal and official indifference to veracity in racial
groups that have their own code of truth-telling and know through generations of experience how much salt to add to each other's statements.
But in a country like ours, a blend of races representing all degrees of veracity from zero up, the only practical way out may have to be an educational and social insistence on the truth and nothing but the truth. Though this bids fair to remove many of the ameliorations from political and private life, we find it hard to know where to draw the line. We can hardly teach our young citizens that they may lie at home and with their fellows but must cultivate the truth only in their civic relations. Even at the risk of introducing a certain bleakness into our personal life, the gain in stability in our public life would more than compensate.
We might entirely discount truth-telling as a moral virtue, we might let it go the way of card-playing, dancing, and Sunday base-ball as an activity entirely removed from the category of sins, and yet be reluctant to see it go, so obvious are its practical advantages. To walk always on firm ground, not to be constantly braced against the possibility of the foundation giving way, would be an economic as well as a moral gain. Undoubtedly one of the primary difficulties in our municipal politics is the great inequality in veraciousness among the different racial groups. The truth-tellers are at a marked disadvantage. They are apt to be early detected as such, but are themselves reluctant to suspect an evasion of the truth on the part of their critics or opponents.
This might serve as an argument for achieving an equality in evasiveness, but that presents the prospect of an impossible competition with no end in sight. For the dignity of our lives as citizens of the great democracy, as well as for the dignity of our personal lives, let us put away childish things and adopt a national habit of truth-seeking and truth-telling.