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Hence All
in the
Hands of
the Few

democracy imposes is plain to all. Hence, the more recurrent the need of prompt decision, the more willing are the members of a group to confide large powers to a few.

The need of secrecy has the same effect. Not only is public debate likely to let out group secrets, but it is impossible for many to take part in making a decision if that decision is to be concealed from foes or competitors. Now, in all forms of strife - commercial rivalry, industrial

, struggle, political contest, negotiation, diplomacy, and warfare both promptness and secrecy are necessary. Hence, fighting groups finally lodge large power in the hands of the trusted few. Stockholders limit themselves to the opportunity at stated intervals of turning out one board of directors and putting in another. Unionists may insist on the ballot for the calling or ending of a strike, but, while the fight is on, they allow decisions of the gravest import to be made by their officials. The rank and file of political parties may pick the nominees, but the conduct of the campaign is left in the hands of an irresponsible committee. A democratic government at war is evidently handicapped as to promptness and secrecy of decision. The consequence is that during a serious national war public discussion is damped, the press is curbed, the legislature becomes less responsible to the electors, and the executive becomes less responsible to the legislature.

War Is AntiDemocratic



Taking part in the making of group will strengthens character tion in the Making of and exclusion therefrom weakens it. In Canada, under the old Group Decisions French régime, no local self-government was tolerated. Roads Strengthens Char.

and bridges were under a royal official. Only in church matters had the people a voice, but no parish meeting to consider the cost of a new church could be held without the special permission of the intendant. Municipal officers there were none. The ordinances of the intendant and the council were law. All aspirations for a larger liberty were thwarted by governor, intendant, and bishop acting on instructions from the king of France. Reduced at last to a state of passive obedience, the people accepted the orders and edicts of the king without a murmur.

What was the type of character produced? When during the Revolution the American conquest brought the French creoles of the Illinois country under institutions of self-government, they





were, in the words of Mr. Roosevelt, “ hopelessly unable to grapple with the new life. They had been accustomed to the paternal rule of priest and military commandant and they were quite unable Self-Govto govern themselves, or to hold their own with the pushing, eager, and often unscrupulous new-comers.” The early with- Art Ac

quired drawal of the Americans left the French free to do as they pleased. Only by * Accustomed for generations to a master, they could do nothing Practice with their new-found liberty beyond making it a curse to themselves and their neighbors." The judges they had elected “had no idea of their proper functions as a governing body to administer justice. At first they did nothing whatever beyond meet and adjuurn.” Finally they went to granting one another immense tracts of adjacent wild land. Plunged into chaos, the creoles sent petition after petition to Congress. “There is one striking difference between these petitions and the similar requests and complaints made from time to time by the different groups of American settlers west of the Alleghanies. Both alike set forth the evils which the petitioners suffered, and the necessity of governmental remedy. But whereas the Americans invariably asked that they be allowed to govern themselves, being delighted to undertake the betterment of their condition on their own account, the French, on the contrary, habituated through generations to paternal rule, were more inclined to request that somebody fitted for the task should be sent to govern them." 3 Yet these creoles were descendants of people who had once managed their common afairs in local assemblies.' The most beautiful products of the Middle Ages, the churches, town halls, and cathedrals of France and Flanders, were financed by the people living all their lives near them, every man having a voice in the matter.


THE OUTLOOK Various modern developments are affecting the current mode It Is Not of organizing will. Thanks to the rising plane of popular intelli- whether gence, the members of open groups continually gain in capacity Moving to judge common affairs. The printing press and improved elec-

Self-Gov. toral methods facilitate among dispersed persons the forming and ernment or focussing of will. On the other hand, questions once plain have wide Field become technical, and simple matters have become complicated. tion for Large-scale effort being called for, small societies are often obliged the Export * Roosevelt, “The Winning of the West," Vol. II, p. 184.

Toward a

of Discre


by His




Professional Conscience and by Public Opinion

to merge into wider organizations, the result being that decision is farther removed from the members. In many lines mere experience is no longer enough and the trained man steps into the shoes of the amateur. To the expert, restrained by his professional conscience, strict control is nagging and hampering. Nowadays, too, at the elbow of the power holder stands imperious public opinion, so that there is less need to tie him down in advance by the mandate of his constituents.

The net outcome of these changes is not the same in different fields. In some kinds of association the trend is democratic, in others it is unmistakably toward small boards and expert permanent officials. What is to be the general trend is by no means clear.





N idea tower like Mohammedan theology, Roman law, or the

Nibelungen Lied is no less a team product than Solomon's Temple or the Panama Canal. No pyramid or cathedral embodies Thought

Structures the labors of so many generations of artificers as the science, let us sey, of astronomy. The Common Law, the Yogi philosophy of outcomo India, or a matured branch of knowledge like physics constitutes operation a well-knit system, and yet no one head, or even score of heads, can claim the credit of so much logic. The thinking of many men has resulted in a whole composed of congruous elements fitted together as steel beams are fitted together into a bridge span. The process of thus articulating ideas from different minds may be termed the organization of thought."

Nor does system-building exhaust mental cooperation. Com- Not Every mon opinion – class, group, or public opinion – is usually the Movement resultant of many individual contributions, the residue left after a single

Mind the offerings of each have been winnowed in the minds of the

Behind the eighteenth-century liberal movement, the romantic movement, the Oxford movement, behind impressionism, realism, symbolism, or anarchism, lies a complex of ideas which no one man propounded. A "school" of thought, of literature, or of art starts not always with master and disciples, founder and followers; often it begins with a band of like-minded rebels against the conventional, who stimulate and influence one another until they work out a creed, a style, or a manner which can make its way. The child in us demands a hero for every great achievement; and so the public clamors to be shown the " father" of the labor movement, of industrial unionism, of scientific charity, of the new penology, or of the public-recreation movement. As likely as not, the "parent" turns out to be a group of seminal minis coming gradually into touch and finding their way to a common doctrine or program. There is intellectual team work, too, on much smaller problems


Generally the Besult of Consensus

from the

zation of Ideas

than those of the great society. In each group - church, col

lege, trade union, or co-operative society - there goes on a joint Opinion Is working out of opinion as to the special problems and policies of

that group; and, while opinion may reflect the counsel of some sage member, it is usually the outcome of discussion and consen

sus, i.e., of cooperative thinking. The De

Absorbing the product of others is not the same as producing. velopment of Society As society develops, the proportion of us who bear a hand in Is Away

organizing its thought become less. More and more our headCommon

aches come from the effort to appropriate the fruits of other Participation of All men's thinking. The primitive tribesman had more influence on Organi- current ideas of right and wrong than has the common man after

theologian and philosopher take part in fixing moral distinctions. Early law springs from the customs of the folk, but the time comes when specialists, such as judges, jurisconsults, and lawgivers, have most to do with its fashioning. Poetry improvised, sung and danced to, stanza by stanza, in the primitive festal crowd, ends as the handiwork of a few gifted word-smiths. About the time of Socrates we see fruitful philosophic thinking quit street corner and market-place to hide with a circle of choice spirits in some secluded garden. In Athens, says Zimmern, “the first people to make a regular use of private gardens and to look upon them as indispensable were the philosophers.”

The reason for this concentration is near at hand. Teamquence of thinking goes on only among persons well matched in equipment. Our Intel

Hence, as soon as there appear in any field men of special knowlSpeciali

edge or training, with exceptional facilities in the way of collections, laboratories, travel, mutual access, and stimulating association, the rest of us content ourselves with walking henceforth in trails other men have blazed. The rise of scientific medicine makes it impossible for “wise ” women with their herb gardens to contribute to the art of healing. With the spread of agricultural experiment stations, the intelligent farmer with only his own experience to go on makes no further contribution to agriculture. As the tasks of government become more technical - e.g., sanitation, conservation, and regulation — the political talk of pothouse and corner grocery is paralyzed with a sense of futility.

In a word, just as we become parasites on the experts who wire our houses and test our food, so our minds become parasites on

1" The Greek Commonwealth,” p. 56.

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