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be assigned to it, and there will immediately arise more or less schism. Observe how the matter stands between the government and the dissentient citizen. Says the citi
“What is it that you, as the ruling agency, have been appointed for? Is it not to maintain the rights of those who employ you; or, in other words, to guarantee to each the fullest freedom for the exercise of his faculties compatible with the equal freedom of all others ?”
“ It has been so decided.”
“And it has been also decided that you are justified in diminishing this freedom only to such an extent as may be needful for preserving the remainder, has it not?”
“ That is evidently a corollary.”
“Exactly. And now let me ask what is this property, this money, of which, in the shape of taxes, you are demanding from me an additional amount for a further purpose? Is it not that which enables me to get food, clothing, shelter, recreation, or, to repeat the original expression—that on which I depend for the exercise of most of my faculties?”
“ It is.”
“Therefore to decrease my property is to decrease my freedom to exercise my faculties, is it not ?"
“Then this new impost of yours will practically decrease my freedom to exercise my faculties?”
“Well, do you not now perceive the contradiction? Instead of acting the part of a protector you are acting the part of an aggressor. What you were appointed to guarantee me and others, you are now taking away. To see that the liberty of each man to pursue the objects of his desires is unrestricted, save by the like liberty of all, is your special function. To diininish this liberty by means of taxes, or civil restraints, more than is needful for performing such function, is wrong, because adverse to the function itself. Now your
new impost does so diminish this liberty more than is need. ful, and is consequently unjustifiable."
It will perhaps be urged, however, that the evil done by a government, when it thus oversteps its original duty, is only an apparent one; seeing that although it diminishes men's spheres of action in one direction, it adds to them in another. All such supplementary functions, an objector may say, subserve in some way or other the wants of society; that is, they facilitate the satisfaction of men's desires; that is, they afford to men greater freedom for the exercise of their faculties. l'or if you argue that taking away a man's property diminishes his freedom to exercise his faculties, because it diminishes his means of exercising them, then you must in fairness admit that, by procuring for him certain of the objects he desires, or by taking away the obstacles that lie between him and those objects, or by otherwise helping him to his ends, the State is increasing his power to exercise his faculties, and hence is practically increasing his freedom.
To all which the answer is, that cutting away men's opportunities on one side, to add to them on another, is at best accompanied by a loss. Let us remember that the force by which a society, through its government, works out certain results, is not increased by administrative mechanisms, but that part of it escapes in friction. Government evidently cannot create any facilities for the exercise of faculties; all it can do is to re-distribute them. Set down the amount of power to satisfy his wants, which it takes from a citizen in extra taxes; deduct the serious waste occurring under official manipulations; and the remainder, transformed into some new shape, is all that can be returned to him. The transaction is consequently a losing one.
So that while, in attempting to serve the public by undertaking supplementary functions, a government fails in its duty towards all who dissent; it does not really compensate for this by additional advantages afforded to the rest; to whom it merely gives with one hand, less than it takes away with the other.
But in truth the transaction is a yet more detrimental one than it thus appears, for even the gift is a delusion. The expediency-philosophy, of which this general State-superintendence is a practical expression, embodies the belief that government ought not only to guarantee men the unmolested pursuit of happiness, but should provide the happiness for them. Now no scheme could be more self-defeating. Man, as briefly delineated at the outset (p. 16), consists of a congeries of faculties qualifying him for surrounding conditions. Each of these faculties, if normally developed, yields to him, when exercised, a gratification constituting part of his happiness; while in the act of exercising it, some deed is done subserving the wants of the man as a whole, and affording to the other faculties the opportunties of performing in turn their respective functions, and of producing every one its peculiar pleasure: so that, when healthily balanced, each subserves all and all subserve each. We cannot live at all unless this mechanism works with some efficiency; and we can live entirely only when the reciprocity between capacities and requirements is perfect. Evidently, then, one who is thus rightly constituted cannot be helped. To do anything for him by some artificial agency, is to supersede
, certain of his powers—is to leave them unexercised, and therefore to diminish his happiness.
“But men are not complete; they are not healthily developed ; they have not capacities in harmony with their wants; and therefore, as matters stand, a government does not by its interpositions pre-occupy offices which there are faculties to fill.” Very true; but next to being what we ought to be, the most desirable thing is that we should become what we ought to be as fast as possible. We have to lose the characteristics which fitted us for our original state, and to gain those which will fit us for our present state; and the
question to be asked, respecting these mechanical remedies for our deficiencies, is-do they facilitate the change? A moment's thought will convince, us that they retard it. Demand and supply is the law of life as well as the law of trade. Would you draw out and increase some feeble sentiment? Then you must set it to do, as well as it can, the work required of it. It must be kept ever active, ever strained, ever inconvenienced by its incompetence. Under this treatment it will, in the slow course of generations, attain to efficiency; and what was once its impossible task will become the source of a healthy, pleasurable, and desired excitement. But let a State-instrumentality be thrust between such faculty and its work, and the process of adaptation is at once suspended. The embryo agency now superseded by some commission-some board and staff of officers, straightway dwindles; for power is as inevitably lost by inactivity as it is gained by activity. Hence, humanity no longer goes on moulding itself into harmony with the natural requirements of the social state; but begins, instead, to assume a form fitting these artificial requirements. And thus, as before said, not only does a government reverse its function by taking away more property than is needful for protective purposes, but even what it gives, in return for the excess so taken, is in essence a loss.
There is indeed one faculty, or rather combination of faculties, for whose short-comings the State, as far as in it lies, may advantageously compensate—that, namely, by which society is made possible. It is clear that any being whose constitution is to be moulded into fitness for new conditions of existence, must be placed under those conditions. This granted, it follows that as man has been, and is still, deficient in those feelings which prevent the recurring antagonisms of individuals and their consequent disunion, some artificial agency is required by which their union may be maintained; Only by the process of adaptation itself, can be produced that character which makes social equilibrium spontaneous. And hence, while this process is going on, an instrumentality must be employed, firstly, to bind men into the social state, and secondly to check all conduct endangering the existence of that state. Such an instrumentality we have in a government.
And now mark that whether we consider government from this point of view, or from that previously occupied, our conclusions respecting it are in essence identical. For when government fulfils the function here assigned it, of retaining men in the circumstances to which they are to be adapted, it fulfils the function which we on other grounds assigned itthat of protector. To administer justice,—to mount guard over men's rights,- is simply to render society possible. And seeing that the two definitions are thus at root the same, we shall be prepared for the fact that, in whichever way we specify its duty, the State cannot exceed that duty without defeating itself For, if regarded as a protector, we find that the moment it does anything more than protect, it becomes an aggressor instead of a protector; and, if regarded as a help to adaptation, we find that when it does anything more than sustain the social state, it retards adaptation instead of hastening it.
To the assertion that the boundary line of State-duty as above drawn is at the wrong place, the obvious rejoinder isshow us where it should be drawn. This appeal the expediency-philosophers have never yet been able to answer. Their alleged definitions are no definitions at all. As was proved at the outset, to say that government ought to do that which is “expedient," or to do that which will tend to produce the
greatest happiness," or to do that which will subserve the "general good," is to say just nothing; for there are countless disagreements respecting the natures of these desiderata. A definition of which the terms are indefinite is an absurdity. Whilst the practical interpretation of “expediency” remains a matter of opinion, to say that a government should do that