THE SCIENCE OF SOCIETY
THE TRUE CONSTITUTION OF GOVERNMENT
SOVEREIGNTY OF THE INDIVIDUAL
FINAL DEVELOPMENT OF PROTESTANTISM,
DEMOCRACY AND SOCIALISM
STEPHEN PEARL ANDREWS
SARAH E. HOLMES, PUBLISHER
This book was printed nearly 40 years ago. Its seed, for the most part, fell upon stony ground. In consequence of this cold reception, this lack of demand, the work passed through but a few small editions and then disappeared from the market. The author's keen, broad, and untiring mind leading him into new fields of thought, he never reprinted it. Thus, for more than a quarter of a century, it has been practically out of sight, out of mind.
Nevertheless, its work has never stopped. Here and there the seed did fall upon the oases, and in fertile spots it always took deep root and reproduced its kind. Its children and grand-children have seldom been conscious of their ancestry, but today the family is so numerous that the branches of its genealogical tree pervade with a growing, and often a controlling, influence every department of what Mr. Andrews happily calls "Man's social habitat." It can be only helpful to this family to be made acquainted with its origin, especially when the power of the printing-press enables it to revive and freshly scatter the parent-seed upon a more receptive soil.
Such is the purpose of this new edition of "The Science of Society." The social problem is pressing more closely upon our heels than it was in 1851, and a book expounding as lucidly as this the basic principles in which alone its solution to be found is greatly needed. The author himself, in the closing years of his life, earnestly desired its republication, and the publisher takes pleasure in the thought that the enterprise would meet his appropriation. And not only his, but that of Josiah Warren as well, who has never tired of praising Mr. Andrew's work as in his opinion the soundest exposition that ever had been made or ever could be made of two principles which he (Mr. Warren) had introduced to the world in his less pretentious work, "True Civilization."
But even if this double incentive of satisfying a public demand and honoring a master's memory were altogether lacking, the publisher might still find abundant justification and encouragement in Robert Browning's lines:
To shoot a beam into the dark, assists:
To make that beam do fuller service, spread
And utilize such bounty to the height,
That assists also, -and that work is mine.
This little treatise of the True Constitution of Government was delivered as one of the regular course of lectures before the New York Mechanics'' Institute for the present winter. It is now published as the introductory number of a contemplated series of publications, presenting certain new principles of society, which it is the belief of the author are eminently adapted to supply the felt want of the present day for an adequate solution of the existing social disturbances. For the principles in question, either as original discoveries, or else as presented in a new light, as solvents of the knotty questions which are now puzzling the most capricious minds and afflicting the most benevolent hearts of Christendom, the author confesses his very great indebtness, to the genius of Josiah Warren, of Indiana, who has been engaged for more than twenty years in testing, almost in solitude, the practical operation, in the education of children, in the sphere of commence, and otherwise, of the principles which we are now for the first time presenting prominently to the public.
It has been the belief of the author that there are in the ranks of those who are denominated Conservatives many who sympathize deeply with the objects of radical reform, but who have never identified themselves with the movement in that direction, either because they have not seen the practical measures proposed by the advocates of reform contained the elements of success, or else because they have distinctly perceived or intuitively felt they did not. They may been repelled, too, by the want of completeness in the programme, the want of scientific exactness in the principles announced, or, finally, by the want of a lucid conception of the real nature of the remedy which is needed for the manifold social evils of which all confess the existence in the actual condition of society. If there are minds in this position, minds more rigid than others in their demands for precise and philosophical principles preliminary to action, it is from such that the author anticipates the most cordial reception of the elements propounded by Mr. Warren, so soon as they are seen in their connections and interrelations with each other.
Believing that these principles will justify the assumption, I have ventured to place at the head of this series of publications, as a general title, "The Science of Society."
The propriety of the use of the term "Science" in such a connection may be questioned by some whom habit has accustomed to apply that term to a much lower range of investigations. If researches into the habits of beetles and tadpoles, and their localities and conditions of existence, are entitled to the dignified appellation of Science, certainly similar researches into the nature, the wants, the adaptations, and, so to speak, into the true or requisite moral and social habitat of the spiritual animal called Man must be, if conducted according to the rigid methods of scientific induction from observed facts, equally entitled to that distinction.
The series of works, of which this is the first in order, will deal in no vague aspirations after "the good time coming." They will propound no definite principles which demand to be regarded as having all the validity of scientific truths, and which, taken in their co-relations with each other, are adequate to the solution of the social problem. If this pretension be made good, the importance of the subject will not be denied. If not well founded the definitiveness of the propositions will be favorable to a speedy and successful refutation.
NEW YORK, JANUARY, 1851
THE TRUE CONSTITUTION OF GOVERNMENT
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
The subject which I propose to consider this evening is the true constitution of the human government.
Every age is a remarkable one, no doubt, for those who live it. When immobility reigns most human affairs, there is still enough of movement to fix that attention, and even to excite the wonder of those who are immediately in proximity with it. This natural bias in favor 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 marked 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 regime was the declaration by Martin Luther of the right of private judgment in matters of conscious. 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 uncertainty whether it be some lurid and meteoric omen of fearful events, or whether it be not the actual rising of the Son 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 Progessionists 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 gain 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 falter. Reform, so called, is becoming confessedly more potent than its antagonist. The admission is reluctantly forced from pallid lips that revolutions- political, social, 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. Bo truth commends itself more universally to the minds of men now than that thus set forth 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? Whether 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 of 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 not 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 accursed nightmare that is crushing out the life of us and ours would take a shape, approach us like the Hyrcanian tiger, the Behemoth or 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 y 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, endeavor, 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, are 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 the 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 due allowance for the inebriation of the prophet 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 if 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 been 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 endeavor 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 answei- 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 basis 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 of 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 infinitely at different periods of 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 man 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 labors 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 afiirm 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 he the freedom and happiness of the race, and that the freedom and happiness of the race can not 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 lie 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 taste, 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 outgTowths 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 Protestantism; 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 aflinity 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 aifairs, 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-hewm 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 Grentlemen, as a jury apanelled 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 modem 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 toward 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 miiversal nature. Individuality is positively the most fundamentaland 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 subtile principle of Individuality, which lie patent upon the face of natm-e, aU 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 ever corresponded precisely to any other action, transaction, or set of circumstances. Had I a precise knowledge of aU the occurrences which have ever taken place up to this hour, it would not sufiice 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 vmiverse, 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, an 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, governmental, 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 subtile, 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 thing.
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, thelaw, and the only true law, of 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 onehundred 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 prmciples of justice, to which I shall 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. can not 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, as we have seen, it is infinite, and can not 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 can not, 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. To 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 by 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 audieuce 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 suppose 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 assxmae 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 this 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 to 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 departments of government into the hands of different depositaries 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 aU 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 retiremeut, 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 every thing, 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, practical, 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 slaver) 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 le-gislation aud jurisprudence, in every aspect of his existence. Accordingly, there is another whole part 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 can not 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 absolute 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 Fouche, 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 aleady 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, can not 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 Reforra, in its present aspect, is merely the prologue to a thoiough aud 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 murmering 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 citizen 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 cajias 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 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 programme 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 appr,opriately made matter of conscience, inasmuch as the responsibility of the Individual toward 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 rule 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 Perfectionists, at Oneida, who hold and practise, 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 aU 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 indorsements, 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 u-religious 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 hunself 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, seH-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, fentina 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 imnecessary, 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 which 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 criticised 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