« НазадПродовжити »
apathy, melancholy, intellectual vacuity, ennui, mental dejection, and hypochondria. This state of things is a moral death for the mind, and renders the rich, surrounded with all their luxuries, frequently more intensely miserable than the poor. Besides, how uncertain are they in their possessions! In the excesses and fluctuations of commerce, banking, and industry-in the dishonesty, frauds, and villanies to which the greedy and unprincipled strife after fortune leads-how many are precipitated suddenly from affluence into poverty! And those who, by superior skill or chance, escape the reverses of fortune, may be almost certain that their children will not, but will be wrecked upon the thousand shoals of our societies, and ingulfed in ruin. Yes, our societies expose all men to dangers, sad reverses, and bitter disappointments. Let those who oppose ignorantly, and from prejudice, the idea of a social reform, examine attentively the condition even of the most favored in society around them, examine their career, and see how unenviable in reality is their lot; see to how many evils, sufferings, and changes of fortune they are exposed; how often they are overtaken by misfortunes which they could not foresee or avert, and in how many instances they end their lives miserably. Some fall from affluence into poverty; others are disappointed by the bad conduct of children; some again, from these and other causes, take to the fatal cup, and die drunkards; while others are afflicted with poor health, and drag out an existence of debility and disease. There is not one person in twenty in our societies, who passes through life with even a moderate degree of good fortune; and as to that high and elevated happiness which man might enjoy in Association with Attractive Industry, moral harmony of the passions, and an extended cultivation of the arts and sciences, no one possesses it.
A social reform is necessary for all classes, but particularly for the millions of our poor, down-trodden, and oppressed fellowcreatures, who cannot speak for themselves,-who cannot plead their own cause, but must depend upon the intelligent and the rich to do it for them.
There is an apathy and indifference among the influential classes and the political leaders of society, which are most reprehensible. A great noise is made about trifling sins, which are of but small moment; while the crying sin of the times its dark, loathsome Selfishness is denounced by no sect or party. The rich, the clergy, and political leaders should direct their attention to the sad and melancholy question of human misery; they should inquire earnestly if means do not exist to remedy it, and they should search conscientiously for those means. If they
VOL. X., No. XLIII.—6
pass by this important question in silent indifference, they become traitors to the cause of Humanity and of God, and they incur a responsibility which they will have to answer as best they can. One tenth part of the time and means spent in selfish pleasures, in sectarian controversy and party quarrels, would, if directed to the great and noble object of the social elevation and happiness of mankind, secure its realization. But now scarce an effort, scarce a thought, is directed to this important subject. Human misery is looked upon as a fatal evil, which cannot be remedied; and it is declared an Utopia, a visionary scheme, even to think of it.
The clergy should in particular aid the cause of a social reform; the elevation and happiness of the human race upon this earth, is the true preliminary step to be taken to secure their salvation hereafter. Give man a sufficiency, so that his higher intellectual powers and sentiments will not be deadened by poverty and anxiety; develop his intelligence that internal light which God has given him to direct him rightly; take temptations and pitfalls out of his path, and will he not move on more uprightly and nobly in his earthly career, and be much more likely to obtain salvation,-if acts and deeds can obtain it,— than if he is plunged in poverty, forced into vice and crime, from ignorance, or circumstances which he cannot combat ?—if his higher faculties and sentiments are smothered, and his sensual tendencies only called out; and if, in short, his mind is uncultivated, so that he is left to move on amidst the thousand shoals and perils of our false societies, without any high moral and intellectual development to guide him, and to counteract tempting circumstances without, and perverted passions within? There can be no doubt of it; and true religion, as well as enlightened reason, pleads for a social reform, and prompts us to labor for the organ
ization of a true social order.
I shall lay before the readers of the Democratic Review the plan of a social organization, which, I feel confident, will do away with a vast amount of the misery which now exists, and secure the social elevation of the mass. I call the attention of reflecting minds to this subject, and request them to devote to it that serious examination which it merits. The system discovered by FoURIER differs entirely from all those which have heretofore been proposed; it has not the least affinity with or relation to that of Owen, the Shakers, Rappites, or any other of which the public has an idea. It is a comprehensive and noble system, which is not the arbitrary plan or scheme of an individual, but is deduced from certain great moral and intellectual laws, by which its truth can be proved.
To do away with some prejudices which may exist in the mind of the reader, I will state explicitly:
1. That the religious sentiment will be not only maintained, but nobly developed. It is now nearly smothered by misery and anxiety in the minds of the mass, and is degraded by sectarian dissensions. We wish Christianity; but we wish it felt and understood by enlightened minds.
2. That the family tie and marriage will be preserved. They are now, in a vast number of cases, sadly smothered and degraded by poverty, brutality, drunkenness, vice, and crime. How can ties of so delicate a nature exist with purity in a society which is full of misery, ignorance, and degradation? We do not wish to change the family sentiment, but we wish to change the circumstances which surround it.
3. That no community of property will exist. In the system which I shall explain in my future articles, individual property will not only be maintained, but the means of acquiring it will be extended to every member of society-female as well as male. In our present societies, not one person out of ten - if we include women— possess any property in their own right, and this is the cause of that revolting tyranny of the individual over the individual, which at present so generally exists. People cling, and rightly so, to the principle of individual property; but they do not see that it exists in theory, not in practice: that the Mass possess no individual property. The wealth of society is absorbed by a few, who make often the most oppressive and reprehensible uses of it.
The reform which we contemplate will embrace the following departments of society:
The system of Industry, or mode of prosecuting agriculture, manufactures, and mechanics.
The system of Commerce.
The system of Isolated Households, which assigns to each family a separate dwelling, and a separate interest in society.
The departments of society, which are true in their nature, and require no reform, but merely a true and noble development, are, The Religious Sentiment, and its external manifestation Worship.
The Marriage Institution.
The principle of Individual Property.
That element or institution of the present social order to which men will no doubt cling with the greatest tenacity, is the Isolated Household. It must, however, be reformed, and Association must be substituted in its place. The isolated household
is the fundamental cause of our present false and repugnant system of industry; it leads to waste, to discord and antipathy, to opposition of interests and envious competition, to quarrels and litigations, to an anti-social spirit, to a conflict of the individual with the public good, to a miserable system of agriculture, and to universal selfishness.
We will explain a system of association, by means of which, isolated and separate families can be induced to unite and associate; in which unity of interests and concert of action can be introduced; an equitable division of profits, according to labor, capital, and skill, established; industry rendered honorable and ATTRACTIVE; individual rights and liberty vastly extended; the product of industry increased six or eight fold; the tyranny of Capital over Labor restricted; the monopolies, adulterations, enormous intermediate profits, and other frauds and extortions of commerce prevented; unity between the individual and the collective good, and general confidence attained; a practical and scientific education guarantied to the child; agreeable and varied occupations opened to all; and an abundance secured to every member of society.
Such are some of the results which I can promise from the system of Association which I shall explain in future articles. Will our leading politicians, and those who take an interest in the social elevation of man, give their attention to the subject, and examine our new social principles? The world, we know, is full of petty schemes and plans of reform, of low party strife, and of selfish personal ambition, which divert men's minds from a subject so vast and general as a reorganization of society; but let us hope that there are some minds which will feel its importance, and be willing to lend it their aid. The world wants a social reform; not superficial, political, and administrative changes, which lead to no results. The suffering mass plead for an abatement of their misery,—plead for relief from the poverty, and harassing cares and anxieties which crush them to the earth. Will they be heard? Are there no noble souls which can abstract themselves from the din and interests of parties, and become penetrated with a true and profound feeling for the greatest and noblest of undertakings — the elevation, happiness, and dignity of the poor, the low, and down-trodden portion of the human family? If there are, let them not be stopped or discouraged by the opposition or ridicule of those common-place minds, which, steeped in the selfishness, contracted spirit, cold-hearted indifference, and animosities of society, are mere repeaters and echoes of its shallow policy, its false wisdom, its individualism, and its selfish precepts for individual conduct.
BY CHARLES T. CONGDON.
As every heart its secret sorrow knoweth,
Not all unmixed-half earthly, half divine.
Of its existence to the world around,
But sadly sooths us, when our spirits pine,
For joys that did in by-gone days abound, Joys that Youth lost, and Manhood has not found.
We love the memory still that bids us sigh-
Though tears our gaze may blind- we know not why,
We laugh, we weep- yet still must we obey
A gloomier shade upon our starless way, —
And now we sit us down and weep the dead,
The tuneful revel and the wildering dance
Once more before the gladdened sight appear; Lip meeteth lip, glance answereth unto glance,
And the loved lost, whom sorrow's useless tear
The winged hours once more go smiling by,
'Tis past!-vanished the glittering scene! for Death
Who bade thee waste thy skill unerring here?