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Ricardian economics can be said to be so essential to modern socialism that its claims disappear when either is refuted. Its strength lies in its appeal to the principle that there is a right of all human beings to the opportunities of developing what is in them, and in its powerful demonstration that such a right is not now realized.
But, though the materialism of socialists is irrelevant to the issues, the notion of development is not. The object, even of economical inquiry, is not merely facts but their connection and sequence. This is even more true of political philosophy generally. We must therefore ask ourselves what meaning the theory of development or evolution is to receive and what follows from the acceptance of it.
The popular notion of evolution is that of continuous change. The philosophical conception of it, long ago presented by Greek and perfected by German philosophy, is that of a change where the past is not abolished but preserved, and the subject which has experienced the development remains identical throughout the changes, that which was in it in germ at the beginning reaching its maturity at the end. Hegel would add that the development proceeds by a conflict of opposite principles.
The Darwinian theory is a particular form of the theory of development. It is a theory of continuous change, where in the struggle for existence natural selection secures the survival of the fittest. It is applied especially to the origin of species ainong living things. By the principle of Malthus, which Darwin accepts, nature causes an indefinitely great propagation of individuals, each of which, though very like every other, has some small point of difference. As they cannot all find room and food, those only will live and breed which have such points of difference as will help them to succeed in the struggle for existence. The result of centuries of accumulated variations is seen in groups of living creatures differing from each other, the one group from the other, so widely as to seem absolutely different species; but all have come from a common ancestral pair ; and the differences are due to the different circumstances of the struggle, and to the accumulated peculiarities that enabled particular individuals to live and breed where the less fortunate failed. Naturalists are now agreed that natural selection has been at least one very potent cause of the origin of species, though the extent of the influence of the subsidiary causes is not so undisputed. But the Darwinian theory assumes, without explaining, the variations of individuals ; and it provides us with no means of pronouncing a judgment as to the quality of the results of this evolution. There is no identity of Subject throughout the changes, and there is nothing in the theory to show that the last winners are “better," by any other standard than that of successful survival. There are many instances of Darwinian development in economic phenomena ; and economics, like Darwinism, gives us by itself no means of judging the results. But the struggle for existence means, by ordinary standards of judgment, something less savage when it is between societies than when it is between individual men; and even the Darwinian notion of development can be applied, like the Malthusian theory of population, in a form which betokens improvement as well as mere survival. It is not the bare doctrine that might is right. Within civilized nations the contest becomes a struggle not for mere living but for a better life; and the vanquished are converted, in spite of themselves, not slain or allowed to die. To apply the theory in this way to societies, however, we need to found our standard of judgment not on the Darwinian but on the philosophical notion of development.
It is not obvious that Darwinism would favour socialism, or indeed any particular plan of social reform. It explains how, but not why, certain occurrences have taken place, and leaves us still to deal with our old problems by the aid of conceptions outside of Darwinism itself. Darwinism is in keeping with the view that the industrial improvement and organization surrounding us have in great part grown up spontaneously, or tentatively, and that laissez-faire does not necessarily mean chaos. The development of the individual members of society is the chief end of society itself, and of the State which is its articulate representative head. To secure this end, the necessary outward conditions must be assured to each member of society; and, as long as human nature remains as it has been in all history, so long there will be need for a State to do this work. But, as each individual must himself use the opportunities, so assured to him, in his own way, there must be (in no narrow sense of the word) individual liberty secured to him. The future may bring with it changes in the statute laws of property, in order to bring it within reach of every one, as a condition of development. As long as there is room kept open for personal and moral freedom, originality, and every kind of individual variation, the world of mankind will not be losers.
Absolute Monarchy: 59, 68, 70, and Nature (Mill) 250, (Dar-
(cf. 83), 97, 128, 129, 132, win) 364.
Asceticism : (Ad. Smith) 154,
217, (Kant) 271.
Reasoning: 120 (cf. 144), AUGUSTINE (De Civitate Dei): 51,
BACON (Francis): 61, 66, 67, 89,
204, 249 n.
BAGEHOT (Walter): 181, 264 n.,
344, 360 n.
BAIN (Prof. A.): 238, 265.
(Ad. Smith) 153, (Proudhon)
333 ; of property in land
203, 258 (cf. 284, 294), 296, BASTIAT (Frédéric): 333.
BAUDRillart (Prof. H. J. L.):
258, 287 (cf. 175, 273, 313), BAUER (Bruno): 330, 335.
388. See Laissez-faire. BAUER (Dr. Stephan): 145 n.
BEAULIEU (Anatole Leroy): 55 n.
125, rights of 189, 263, 298. BELLARMINE (Cardinal) : 98.
149, 188, 191, 196 Note, 199,
collectively 87, (Hegel) 319. 237-8, 243, 247, 256, 259,
also 47, 49, 54, 55, 67, 68, BERKELEY (Bishop) : 104, 105,
117, 118, 269.
BLUNTSCHLI (Prof. J. C.): 75 n.
also 71, 74, 377.
219 n., 222 n.