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THE LIMITS OF STATE-DUTIES CONCLUDED.
§ 135. Of the many reasons for restricting the range of governmental actions, the strongest remains to be named. The end which the statesman should keep in view as higher than all other ends, is the formation of character. And if there is entertained a right conception of the character which should be formed, and of the means by which it may be formed, the exclusion of multiplied State-agencies is necessarily implied. “How so?” will doubtless be the exclamation of many.
? “Is not the formation of character the end to which much of the legislation we advocate is directed ? Do we not contend that an all-important part of the State's business is the making of good citizens ? and are not our schoolsystems, our free-libraries, our sanitary arrangements, our gymnasia, &c., devised with the view of improving their natures?"
To this interrogative reply, uttered with an air of astonishment and an implied conviction that nothing remains to be said, the answer is that everything depends on the goodness of the ideal entertained and the appropriateness of the appliances for realizing it; and that both of them are radically wrong.
These paragraphs sufficiently indicate the antagonist
views to be here discussed. Let us now enter on the discussion of them systematically.
§ 136. Upwards from hordes of savages to civilized nations, countless examples show that to make an efficient warrior preparation is needed. Practice in the use of weapons begins in boyhood; and throughout youth the ambition is to be a good marksman with the bow and arrow, to throw the javelin or the boomerang with force and precision, and to become an adept in defence as well as in attack. At the same time speed and agility are effectually cultivated, and there are trials of strength. More relevant still to the end in view comes the discipline in endurance; sometimes going to the extent of submission to torture. In brief, each male of the tribe is so educated as to fit him for the purposes of the tribe—to fit him for helping it in maintaining its existence, or subjugating its neighbours, or both. Though not a State-education in the modern sense, the education is one prescribed by custom and enforced by public opinion. That it is the business of the society to mould the individual is asserted tacitly if not openly.
With that social progress which forms larger communities regularly governed, there goes a further development of State-education. Not only are there now deliberately cultivated the needful strength, skill, and endurance, but there is cultivated that subordination which is required for the performance of military evolutions, and that further subordination to leaders and to rulers without which the combined forces cannot be used in the desired ways. It is needless to do more than name Greece, and especially Sparta, as exemplifying this phase.
With this practice went an appropriate theory. From the belief that the individual belonged neither to himself nor to his family but to his city, there naturally grew up the doctrine that it was the business of his city to mould him into fitness for its purposes. Alike in Plato and in Aristotle we have elaborate methods proposed for the due preparation of children and youths for citizenship, and an unhesitating assumption that in a good State, education must be a public business.
Evidently, then, while war is the chief business of life, the training of individuals by governmental agency after a pattern adapted to successful fighting, is a normal accompaniment. In this case experience furnishes a tolerably correct ideal to be aimed at, and guidance in the choice of methods productive of the ideal. All free men have to be made as much as may be into military machines, automatically obedient to orders; and a unifying discipline is required to form them. Moreover, just as in the militant type the coercive system of rule which regimentation involves, spreads from the fighting part throughout the whole of the ancillary parts which support it; so, there naturally establishes itself the theory that not soldiers only, but all other members of the community, should be moulded by the government into fitness for their functions.
§ 137. Not recognizing the fundamental distinction between a society which, having fighting for its chief business, makes sustentation subordinate, and a society which, having sustentation for its chief business, makes fighting subordinate, there are many who assume that a disciplinary policy appropriate to the first is appropriate to the last also. But the relations of the individual to the State are in the two cases entirely different. Unlike the Greek, who, not owning himself was owned by his city, the Englishman is not in any appreciable degree owned by his nation, but in a very positive way owns himself. Though, if of fit age, he may on great emergency be taken possession of and made to help in defending his country; yet this contingency qualifies to but small extent the private possession of his body and the self-directing of his actions.
Throughout a series of chapters we saw that the
progressive establishment by law of those rights which are deduced by ethics, made good the free use of himself by each individual, not only against other individuals but, in many respects, against the State: the State, while defending him against the aggressions of others, has in various directions ceased to aggress upon him itself. And it is an obvious corollary that in a state of permanent peace this change of relation would be complete.
How does this conclusion bear on the question at issue? The implication is that whereas the individual had to be moulded by the society to suit its purposes, the society has now to be moulded by the individual to suit his purposes. Instead of a solidified body-politic, wielding masses of its units in combined action, the society, losing its coercive organization, and holding together its units with no other bonds than are needed for peaceful co-operation, becomes simply a medium for their activities. Once more let me emphasize the truth that since a society in its corporate capacity is not sentient, and since the sentiency dwells exclusively in its units, the sole reason for subordinating the sentient lives of its units to the unsentient life of the society, is that while militancy continues the sentient lives of its units are thus best preserved ; and this reason lapses
! partially as militancy declines, and wholly as industrialism becomes complete. The claim of the society to discipline its citizens disappears. There remains no power which
. may properly prescribe the form which individual life shall assume.
“But surely the society in its corporate capacity, guided by the combined intelligences of its best members, may with advantage frame a conception of an individual nature best fitted for harmonious industrial life, and of the discipline calculated to produce such a nature ?” In this plea there is tacitly assumed the right of the community through its agents to impose its scheme-an assumed right quite inconsistent with the conclusions drawn in foregoing
chapters. But not here dwelling on this, let us ask what fitness the community has for deciding on the character to be desired, and for devising means likely to create it.
$ 138. Whether the chosen ideal of a citizen, and the chosen process for producing him, be good or bad, the choice inevitably has three implications, any one of which condemns it.
The system must work towards uniformity. If the measures taken have any effect at all, the effect must in part be that of causing some likeness among the individuals: to deny this is to deny that the process of moulding is operative. But in so far as uniformity results advance is retarded. Everyone who has studied the order of nature knows that without variety there can be no progressknows that, in the absence of variety, life would never have evolved at all. The inevitable implication is that further progress must be hindered if the genesis of variety is checked.
Another concomitant must be the production of a passive receptivity of whatever form the State decides to impress. Whether submissiveness be or be not part of the nature which the incorporated society proposes to give its units, it cannot enforce its plans without either finding or creating submissiveness. Whether avowedly or not, part of the desired character must be readiness in each citizen to submit, or make his children submit, to a discipline which some or many citizens determine to impose. There may be men who think it a trait of high humanity thus to deliver over the formation of its nature to the will of an aggregate mostly formed of inferior units. But with such we will not argue.
One further necessary implication is that either there exists no natural process by which citizens are in course of being moulded, or else that this natural process should be superseded by an artificial one. To assert that there is no