The State itself must also advance. It must assume new duties,—new, that is, not to its mission, but to its past performance. Freedom is good, but it must be universal; and if my freedom tends to the destruction of another's, mine must be limited. What makes the right of the State to interfere and prevent domestic slavery ? What but its very mission to secure and maintain the personal rights of every one within its borders ? Are there then no other encroachments of the naturally stronger over the naturally weaker ? I will not now undertake to answer this question specifically; but wherever there is a tendency of this sort; wherever one man or a set of men get property in land or means of transportation or instruments of production or the means of subsistence, to such an extent as to place others largely at their mercy,—there the State should interfere, and, whether by legislation or actual administration in its own name, prevent the monopoly, and act for the good of all. The State with us is not, as it often was in old time, the rule of the stronger over the weaker : if it were, it would have no sanctity or defence; if it should become so, then revolution would be commanded. The State is for justice, —to see to it that the strong do not rule the weak, to break the force of the brute struggle for existence. Most ominous of all would be the future of that State wherein freedom should be ostensibly honored, and yet in the very name of freedom the bonds of servitude be put on men, women, and children ;1 wherein freedom would thus mean a freedom from law, from State examination and supervision, and be only a specious cloak behind which men might pursue their worst selfishness.
1 Cf. John Stuart Mill (Political Economy, ii. 579): "Freedom of contract, in the case of children, is but another word for freedom of coercion".
A very different spirit must animate the new religion from that which animated the old. The Stoic maxim and not that implied in the teaching of Jesus must furnish the rule for human life: " The wise man must take part in public life." For through the State rather than through any mythical judgment in the clouds, the ends of justice and right are in an important measure to be worked out.
3. But if we have need of a new political morality, very closely related thereto is our need of a new Industrial ethics. While the State should to my mind include economy to a certain extent, so that there might be some meaning in the phrase "political economy," — and hence the true tendency is toward the assumption, or at least direction, by the State of such properties and businesses as become large and public in their influences, —the time is yet far distant when a perfect and detailed and particular justice can be prescribed or done by the State. In any case, industry may, relatively speaking, be treated as a separate topic. We live from day to day by our own industry or by that of others; for I mean by industry not all kinds of pursuits, but those which aim to satisfy our physical needs and provide for our material comfort. Industrial concerns are those which touch us to the quick : a disorder here means so much less bread for some one to eat, so much of an increase in the death-rate. Society has always been partially, I may say largely, made up of those whose only means of commanding the necessaries, not to say the comforts, of life lay in their hands and arms, either by way of labor or of threatening. I say always, yet I do not say necessarily ; and here is the whole point. There are doubtless native inequalities among men, and there always will be. But the true industrial order would be one in which the inequalities would mutually supplement one another, according to an ideal law of justice and humanity. This ideal order does not however belong to history, but to the future, —society did not fall from it, but is to rise to it; and the call to rise to it is felt to lie in the very nature and constitution of humanity, whenever it sees through its muddy vesture of brutality and selfishness, and becomes aware of the beatings of its own heart.
The ideal order is, in a word, co-operation. It means for those engaged in the production of any means of subsistence or comfort that they seek no more than a fair profit from the community which they serve, and that they divide the profit fairly among themselves. There is apparently little thought of fairness and justice in the present industrial arrangements. Services are doubtless done both to the community and by the employer to the employed, as by the employed to the employer; but the simple fact that business is ordinarily undertaken for " profit," or, as is said, with " business motives," shows that fairness or equitableness, not to say humanity, are not the determining motives.
The upward limit of the employer's prices is not ordinarily any thought of justice, but the knowledge of what can or will be paid. And the wages he is apt to pay go as high, not as considerations of justice would suggest, but as the demands of the laborers can make them go, and sink as low as men or women — and perhaps children — can be found who will take them. " The very idea," says John Stuart Mill, "of distributive justice, or of any proportionality between success and merit, or between success and exertion, is in the present state of society so manifestly chimerical as to be relegated to the regions of romance." 1 A reviewer naively remarks, " The at-tempt of writers like Bastiat to show an exact harmony between the rules of political economy and the demands of absolute justice involves, like the opposite error of Mr. Froude, a confusion between economical rules and moral precepts." 2 That is, in plain words, economy is one thing, and ethics quite another; and by the " opposite error of Mr. Froude " was probably meant a demand on his part that there be an infusion of ethics into economy, which is at least more honorable, and I believe more likely to succeed, than the attempt of those who would defend and justify the present industrial arrangements on the ground not only that they are rooted " in the nature of things," but that they always mean "service for service." 3 Service for service? In words, yes; but what not only of the intention, but of the equity of the exchange ? Suppose that I succor a drowning man, and before doing so, exact of him the greater part of his possessions. That is undoubtedly service for service ; his life he plainly values more than his possessions. But what should you say of my exaction ? So there are those who take the possessions of men to-day, often the entire possessions, — for myriads possess little or nothing but strength of hand and limb, — and in return give them but the bare means of subsistence. O precious Equity !
1 Chapters on Socialism.
2 The Nation, Oct. 4, 1877, p. 216.
3 Cf. article on the identity of " Private Wealth and Public Welfare," by Hon. Edward Atkinson, in Unitarian Review, December, 1881.