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wealthy tyranny? If it be not the business of the state to interfere, whose is it? Better far to suffer from a law occasionally hurtful in its operation (as for example, the Factory Act), than be at the mercy of ten thousand petty tyrants, whose acts are known but to those who suffer from them.
The acts of a functionary, it is true, may sometimes run into abuse from want of attention on the part of the public, but this, so far from being an argument against his existence, is the very reverse. A society too indolent to superintend those whom they appoint, are still more likely to be too indolent to perform the duties themselves, and it is surely better that a needful function be imperfectly performed, than not performed at all.
The opponents of State-Interference are afraid of anything artificial. There is
, however, an Art which co-operates with Nature, as well as Art that is opposed to Nature. The last cannot stand, for the eternal laws are against it. But if the opponents of state-interference object to the first, we recommend them to preserve their logical consistency, and no longer hide the graces of their forms by such artificialities as 'breeks. Furthermore they should regale on the primitive crab and the raw potato, dwell in caves, and forego the use of fire.
Of course, these lovers of nature would recoil from vaccination, and reject every appliance that human intelligence has created to soften her rudeness and severity? Their unfairness is as remarkable as their inconsistency. To depress the laborers condition by land monopolies, unequal taxation, or by the introduction of Machines, is (with them) quite natural—but to check the operations of these evils, even in the slightest degree, is artificial! Or admit, as some do, that the former is an abnormal condition of things, how can the laborers claim to compensatory remedies be denied ?
An obvious corollary from the principle which bases the power of the state on the Public Will, is, that it should not be called upon to decide questions, or perform duties, on which it can have had little or no experience. It is no true ‘liberty' for a people to have the power of deciding, where the means for forming a correct decision are denied. On the other hand, the lodging of every function in a single central body, is equally inimical to liberty. A just union of the local and the central principles is the only safe medium. The local body is more likely to know its own wants than a body acting at a great distance, just as knows more of his own house, than wise man knows of another's.”
In the selection of delegates, and in the management of their local affairs, men use their own knowlege, and are influenced by their immediate interests. But when a whole nation presumes to elect a president for itself, as in the case of the French Republic, it is but too surely digging the grave of liberty.
“Not an individual of these millions would take a servant into his house to cook a dinner, or attend to a shop, upon testimony equally slight with that which the majority have been compelled to rest satisfied [with], in the elections of Louis Napoleon and General Taylor. If the lives of the majority depended npon answering, whether the successful candidate is fair or dark, short or tall, stout or thin, he could not state it upon oath,”—“If the question proposed to a body of peasants were, not who shall be the national president, but who shall be the schoolmaster of the next village, the reply should be,
“This is a subject for a committee; we cannot, collectively or individually, enquire into the personal qualifications of the candidates, and therefore we will entrust the appointment to a few in whom we have confidence, and who will see that the interests of our children shall not be neglected.'”
Other important advantages attend the system of local government. It trains up and adapts men for legislators. Their success in managing small matters, is the best guarantee of their fitness to superintend larger ones. It also gives each man an interest in the public welfare, develops each man's sympathy in the well-being of his fellows, renders him more of a citizen, and fosters public spirit—that strongest bulwark of a nation.
By the too great multiplication of functions in the central body, the state is incapacitated for the discharge of all the duties of which it is otherwise capable. In the moral as in the physical world, the strength of materials must be calculated. Ten or twenty small machines may effect certain results better than one cumbrous or complex one. That which the governors of a nation could not attempt, the towns and cities might; and what the city could not manage, the parish would easily effect. It is the overlooking of this plain principle that has led to the fallacy, that because the state centrally could not perform a certain task, the state could not perform it at all!
In those cases where national and perfect combination are required, as in the post office, the organization of pauper labor, the army, the coinage, etc., the central power must clearly preponderate, nor ought the supervision of the central power to be absent even from the most purely local councils. A central oversight is to local government, what local government is to individuals. Amid con. flicting claims and interests it decides on the general merits, free from local party bias. It compels attention to the general wishes of the nation in those districts where apathy or ignorance would occasion their neglect. A greater advantage is, that by collecting and diffusing information, it gives each place the opportunity of profiting by the experience of all the rest. Without this, the best and the worst management of the same kind of affairs, might exist within a few miles of each other, " and the local authorities at either place know nothing of the defects or excellencies of the other. In each of these respects, central supervision is worth far more than it costs.
The opponents of government-interference dilate much upon the abuses to which it is liable, and its costliness. It is said that Favoritism and Nepotism are fostered—that those who administer the function of the state, are placed in circumstances likely to encourage extravagance. If these assumptions are rounded off with an allusion to our expensive armaments, to our mismanaged dock-yards, and the high salaries paid for nominal duties, the case is complete ! Now the force of these objections lies, in the main, rather against the nation itself
¢ Westminster Review. Vol. 50, p. 524. d As in the old Poor-law. The Unions of Mechanics Institutes in Yorkshire, and elsewhere, have been established for obtaining the advantages of centralization,
than against the government. In the first place, the people manifest a too great indifference to the conduct of rulers, and in the next, they permit a feudal oligarchy to govern. The first essential of good government is responsibility to the governed. The social implies the democratic Republic. Moreover, the importance of the national expenditure-question is much exaggerated. The expenditure is small in proportion to the wealth of the country. Deducting war establishments and the debt, two things for which the present rulers are not responsible, our whole civil government does not cost above a twelfth part of what the nation spends in strong drinks. Of the two errors, it is certainly better to overpay than to underpay a government, for good government is, as little as anything else, to be obtained without paying the full price for it. The much vaunted cheapness of the American government is not all gain. For many offices it pays less than the highest class of talent can obtain in other ways, and in such cases it naturally gets, instead of the best, second-best and inferior.
What has been called 'the ignorant impatience of taxation’ is a phrase justly applicable to those who complain of over taxation, instead of wasted taxation. When expended in providing education, roads, drainage,--any of those manifold necessaries, utilities, luxuries, which individual man (especially poor men) could not obtain,-it is a Capital in many cases more advantageous than if it had remained with those who might have spent it productively, and still more advantageous when, drawn from the very wealthy, it transforms what they might have spent injuriously to themselves and others, into a means of common utility and enjoyment.
Under the voluntary system an Association must be extemporized for every occasion demanding interference, whereas the government (central or local) already possesses a machinery for giving force to its plans. Men habituated to manage public affairs (under responsibilities) best know how to set about public undertakings. Voluntaryism implies the existence of as many taxing bodies, as there are public objects to be obtained. Every-body is running after every-body else, with a begging box or a subscription book! Attempt to supply the desirable, or even necessary social ends, upon the voluntary principle, and Society would become one vast and intolerable Mendicant establishment. Public duties would remain unfulfilled, public objects unattained, and the nation would retrograde to barbarism.
That the voluntary functionary should be unpaid, is no gain to society. The state-functionary's “To salary' may figure in the taxes, while the unpaid ones expenditure of time and means does not. But experience has shown that in government, as in other things, the principle of the division of labor is far the best.
In innumerable instances a consciousness of some great good to be obtained, or evil to be removed, may exist for long in the general mind of the community, without
any person arising, at once capable and willing to do the needful work. To make exertions in behalf of the public requires spirits of a generous or an ambi
e The poor Law is an example. The standing army furnishes an analogous one. In those countries where every citizen is compelled to serve, the apparent cost of the army is small, but the real cost far exceeds the English plan, costly as that needlessly is.
tious mould, and these are rare_still more rare the possession of strength of character and sufficient means to give force and reality to their designs. Each man naturally feels that the required provision, if only of a pump in bis neighborhood, a school for the parish, a public library or park for the town, is a matter which belongs as much to his neighbor as to himself. Why shall he sacrifice time and money, incur anxiety, and perhaps ingratitude, for others? Why saddle himself with labor, or make sacrifices a thousand times greater than others, to attain objects from which he will derive no more advantage than they ?
When we task the voluntary principle to provide the every day wants of men, we degrade it. To the voluntary principle belongs all great, heroic action, all self-sacrifice for the good of others. Release it from drudgery that it may expend itself on worthier objects. Freed from the first pressing duties of bare existence, it will find out the useful,—freed from the useful, it will be devoted to the higher and more refined wants of society. The benevolent and self denying are wasting their anxious thoughts to supply wants which the simplest social organization could provide far more perfectly. The mind that is struggling to raise some local dispensary, or some village school, would, if these were provided by the parish-rate, seek other and higher objects for its activity.
To the Voluntary Principle belongs the support of the untried principles of inventors and discoverers, the advocacy and development of new truths struggling to obtain the notice of an indifferent or hostile public. To it we look for those sacrifices which great souls will make for their race, in times of emergency. Society should pay for whatever service it can, that it may have more of that ‘unbought'grace of life, that cheap defence of nations, which neither wealth, nor power, nor honor, can purchase.
Supersede Voluntaryism? Never! There will always be some tears to dry, some ignorance or prejudice to remove, some new, beautiful, and refreshing thought for the wise man to carry to his neighbor. Organize society as perfectly as possible, there will still be some misfortune to amend, some wrong to redress, some right to defend,—for progress is as infinite as man's nature is limitless. In the attainment of the ends of his being there will ever remain 'ample room and verge enough' for man's individual activity.
When society virtually taxes the time or means of self-denying individuals to do those things for it, which it should and may do for itself, the results are sure to possess the weaknesses corresponding to the actor's idiosyncrasy, and the defects attributable to the limited powers of an individual. In this case the community can have no title to object, for whatever has been done, is so much over and above what they had any claim to. Tho it may trouble them to see their youth in the degrading apparel of the 'charity-boy,' or brought up in some spiritual-vestures equally antique, piebald, and pitiable,-their public places closed on days when they should be open, or opened when they should be shut,coals given instead of soup, or food instead of fuel,
-or any of the other innumerable freaks exhibited in the annals of our public-charities, how can they complain? *A gift horse is not to be looked in the mouth.'
The action of the state attains the objects that it proposes to itself. true Social Machine, the idea of government includes an object to be attained,
and the means of attaining it. The exception with Governmental, is the rule with Voluntary action. Neglect, failure, weakness, incompleteness, we look upon as crime in the one, while in the other they pass without surprize, osten without comment. Let the slightest jar exist in the working of any of the government functions—in the post office, or the poor-laws, for example,—and what an outcry is heard! But had these duties been undertaken by private interest or benevolence, the sufferers would experience little or no sympathy. The functionary is watched by those both above and below him, and owes responsibility to the public whose wages he receives.
Yet these objections to the voluntary system are the least. Suppose a wise, good, generous, and efficiently powerful Individual undertaking the common duty,—who shall ensure anything like an adequate supply of such men ? Individual influence radiates only a little way, but the need of these services is co-extensive with society itself. How is the Lady Bountiful to be brought into erery village ?
For the important public objects demanded by modern civilization, Voluntaryisin would be but a barely tolerable doctrine even if the majority of men fulfilled the duties of the citizen, whereas the masses of mankind feel but the smallest possible interest in public questions, however vital, except in periods of spasmodic and momentary excitement. However useful, or indeed essential, 'agitation' may
be for starting a cause, the best of causes condemned to live on such stimulating diet, would languish and die out,
Will Voluntaryism look to the rich ? If, indeed but a tithe of the rich felt as the ideal rich man painted by Fichte, good government would, to a great extent, be obtained. Thus he is supposed to speak.
“Altho I possess as much as hundreds or perhaps thousands of you do together, yet I cannot, on that account, either eat, drink, or sleep, for a hundred or a thousand. The undertakings in which you see me daily engage ; the experiments on a great scale with new methods of husbandry; the introduction of new and nobler races of animals, new plants and seeds from distant lands; the study of their proper treatment, which, being hitherto anknown, has now to be patiently sought out ;-these demand great immediate outlay, and the means of defraying the loss consequent upon possible failure. You cannot afford to do this, and hence it is not required of you: but that wherein I am successful, you may learn from me, and imitate ; what proves unsuccessful, you may avoid, for I have already encountered the risk for you. From my herd there will gradually extend to yours those nobler races of animals already domesticated with me; from my fields there will be propagated to yours those more profitable 'fruits already inured to the climate, with the art of their cultivation already acquired and tested at my expense.
It is true that my granaries are plentifully filled with stores of every kind, but to whom among you, who stood in need of aid, have they ever been closed ?—who among you all has ever been in difficulty, and I have not succoured him? What you do not require, shall, at the first signal given by the State, flow forth freely to any province of our Fatherland that may feel ihe iron hand of want. Grudge me not the Gold which I receive ;-it shall be all expended as I have hitherto expended, before your eyes; there shall not be, with my will, a single farthing of it applied without some gain to the cause of Human Culture. Moreover, if the State shall require my money for the pay of its armies, or the support of its provinces,