And so come new dangers. The
rude society resembles the creatures that though cut into pieces will live;
the highly civilized society is like a highly organized animal: a stab in
a vital part, the suppression of a single function, is death. A savage village
may be burned and its people driven off — but, used to direct recourse
to nature, they can maintain themselves. Highly civilized man, however, accustomed
to capital, to machinery, to the minute division of labor, becomes helpless
when suddenly deprived of these and thrown upon nature. Under the factory
system, some sixty persons, with the aid of much costly machinery, cooperate
to the making of a pair of shoes. But, of the sixty, not one could make a
whole shoe. This is the tendency in all branches of production, even in agriculture.
How many farmers of the new generation can use the flail? How many farmers'
wives can now make a coat from the wool? Many of our farmers do not even
make their own butter or raise their own vegetables! There is an enormous
gain in productive power from this division of labor, which assigns to the
individual the production of but a few of the things, or even but a small
part of one of the things, he needs, and makes each dependent upon others
with whom he never comes in contact; but the social organization becomes
more sensitive. A primitive village community may pursue the even tenor of
its life without feeling disasters which overtake other villages but a few
miles off; but in the closely knit civilization to which we have attained,
a war, a scarcity, a commercial crisis, in one hemisphere produces powerful
effects in the other, while shocks and jars from which a primitive community
easily recovers would to a highly civilized community mean wreck.
 It is startling to think how destructive in
a civilization like ours would be such fierce conflicts as fill the history
of the past. The wars of highly civilized countries, since the opening of
the era of steam and machinery, have been duels of armies rather than conflicts
of peoples or classes. Our only glimpse of what might happen, wore passion
fully aroused, was in the struggle of the Paris Commune. And, since 1870,
to the knowledge of petroleum has been added that of even more destructive
agents. The explosion of a little nitro-glycerin under a few water-mains
would make a great city uninhabitable; the blowing up of a few railroad bridges
and tunnels would bring famine quicker than the wall of circumvallation that
Titus drew around Jerusalem; the pumping of atmospheric air into the gas-mains,
and the application of a match, would tear up every street and level every
house. The Thirty Years' War set back civilization in Germany; so fierce
a war now would all but destroy it. Not merely have destructive powers vastly
increased, but the whole social organization has become vastly more delicate.
 In a simpler state master and man, neighbor
and neighbor, know each other, and there is that touch of the elbow which,
in times of danger, enables society to rally. But present tendencies are
to the loss of this. In London, dwellers in one house do not know those in
the next; the tenants of adjoining rooms are utter strangers to each other.
Let civil conflict break or paralyze the authority that preserves order and
the vast population would become a terror-stricken mob, without point of
rally or principle of cohesion, and your London would be sacked and burned
by an army of thieves. London is only the greatest of great cities. What
is true of London is true of New York, and in the same measure true of the
many cities whose hundreds of thousands are steadily growing toward millions.
These vast aggregations of humanity, where he who seeks isolation may find
it more truly than in the desert; where wealth and poverty touch and jostle;
where one revels and another starves within a few feet of each other, yet
separated by as great a gulf as that fixed between Dives in Hell and Lazarus
in Abraham's bosom — they are centers and types of our civilization.
Let jar or shock dislocate the complex and delicate organization, let the
policeman's club be thrown down or wrested from him, and the fountains of
the great deep are opened, and quicker than ever before chaos comes again.
Strong as it may seem, our civilization is evolving destructive forces. Not
desert and forest, but city slums and country roadsides are nursing the barbarians
who may be to the new what Hun and Vandal were to the old.
 Nor should we forget that in civilized man still
lurks the savage. The men who, in past times, oppressed or revolted, who
fought to the death in petty quarrels and drunk fury with blood, who burned
cities and rent empires, were men essentially such as those we daily meet.
Social progress has accumulated knowledge, softened manners, refined tastes
and extended sympathies, but man is yet capable of as blind a rage as when,
clothed in skins, he fought wild beasts with a flint. And present tendencies,
in some respects at least, threaten to kindle passions that have so often
before flamed in destructive fury.
 There is in all the past nothing to compare
with the rapid changes now going on in the civilized world. It seems as though
in the European race, and in the nineteenth century, man was just beginning
to live — just grasping his tools and becoming conscious of his powers.
The snail's pace of crawling ages has suddenly become the headlong rush of
the locomotive, speeding faster and faster. This rapid progress is primarily
in industrial methods and material powers. But industrial changes imply social
changes and necessitate political changes. Progressive societies outgrow
institutions as children outgrow clothes. Social progress always requires
greater intelligence in the management of public affairs; but this the more
as progress is rapid and change quicker.
 And that the rapid changes now going on are
bringing up problems that demand most earnest attention may be seen on every
hand. Symptoms of danger, premonitions of violence, are appearing all over
the civilized world. Creeds are dying, beliefs are changing; the old forces
of conservatism are melting away. Political institutions are failing, as
clearly in democratic America as in monarchical Europe. There is growing
unrest and bitterness among the masses, whatever be the form of government,
a blind groping for escape from conditions becoming intolerable. To attribute
all this to the teachings of demagogues is like attributing the fever to
the quickened pulse. It is the new wine beginning to ferment in old bottles.
To put into a sailing-ship the powerful engines of a first-class ocean steamer
would be to tear her to pieces with their play. So the new powers rapidly
changing all the relations of society must shatter social and political organizations
not adapted to meet their strain.
 To adjust our institutions to growing needs
and changing conditions is the task which devolves upon us. Prudence, patriotism,
human sympathy, and religious sentiment, alike call upon us to undertake
it. There is danger in reckless change; but greater danger in blind conservatism.
The problems beginning to confront us are grave — so grave that there
is fear they may not be solved in time to prevent great catastrophes. But
their gravity comes from indisposition to recognize frankly and grapple boldly
 These dangers, which menace not one country
alone, but modern civilization itself, do but show that a higher civilization
is struggling to be born — that the needs and the aspirations of men
have outgrown conditions and institutions that before sufficed.
 A civilization which tends to concentrate wealth
and power in the hands of a fortunate few, and to make of others mere human
machines, must inevitably evolve anarchy and bring destruction. But a civilization
is possible in which the poorest could have all the comforts and conveniences
now enjoyed by the rich; in which prisons and almshouses would be needless,
and charitable societies unthought of. Such a civilization waits only for
the social intelligence that will adapt means to ends. Powers that might
give plenty to all are already in our hands. Though there is poverty and
want, there is, yet, seeming embarrassment from the very excess of wealth-producing
forces. "Give us but a market," say manufacturers, "and we
will supply goods without end!" "Give us but work!" cry idle
read the entire essay
That the value attaching to land with social growth is intended for social
needs is shown by the final proof. God is indeed a jealous God in the sense
that nothing but injury and disaster can attend the effort of men to do
things other than in the way he has intended; in the sense that where the
blessings he proffers to men are refused or misused they turn to evils
that scourge us. And just as for the mother to withhold the provision that
fills her breast with the birth of the child is to endanger physical health,
so for society to refuse to take for social uses the provision intended
for them is to breed social disease.
For refusal to take for public purposes the increasing values that attach
to land with social growth is to necessitate the getting of public revenues
by taxes that lessen production, distort distribution and corrupt society.
It is to leave some to take what justly belongs to all; it is to forego the
only means by which it is possible in an advanced civilization to combine
the security of possession that is necessary to improvement with the equality
of natural opportunity that is the most important of all natural rights.
It is thus at the basis of all social life to set up an unjust inequality
between man and man, compelling some to pay others for the privilege of living,
for the chance of working, for the advantages of civilization, for the gifts
of their God. But it is even more than this. The very robbery that the masses
of men thus suffer gives rise in advancing communities to a new robbery.
For the value that with the increase of population and social advance attaches
to land being suffered to go to individuals who have secured ownership of
the land, it prompts to a forestalling of and speculation in land wherever
there is any prospect of advancing population or of coming improvement, thus
producing an artificial scarcity of the natural elements of life and labor,
and a strangulation of production that shows itself in recurring spasms of
industrial depression as disastrous to the world as destructive wars. It
is this that is driving men from the old countries to the new countries,
only to bring there the same curses. It is this that causes our material
advance not merely to fail to improve the condition of the mere worker, but
to make the condition of large classes positively worse. It is this that
in our richest Christian countries is giving us a large population whose
lives are harder, more hopeless, more degraded than those of the veriest
savages. It is this that leads so many men to think that God is a bungler
and is constantly bringing more people into his world than he has made provision
for; or that there is no God, and that belief in him is a superstition which
the facts of life and the advance of science are dispelling.
The darkness in light, the weakness in strength, the poverty amid
wealth, the seething discontent foreboding civil strife, that characterize
of today, are the natural, the inevitable results of our rejection of God’s
beneficence, of our ignoring of his intent. Were we on the other hand to
follow his clear, simple rule of right, leaving scrupulously to the individual
all that individual labor produces, and taking for the community the value
that attaches to land by the growth of the community itself, not merely could
evil modes of raising public revenues be dispensed with, but all men would
be placed on an equal level of opportunity with regard to the bounty of their
Creator, on an equal level of opportunity to exert their labor and to enjoy
its fruits. And then, without drastic or restrictive measures the forestalling
of land would cease. For then the possession of land would mean only security
for the permanence of its use, and there would be no object for any one to
get land or to keep land except for use; nor would his possession of better
land than others had confer any unjust advantage on him, or unjust deprivation
on them, since the equivalent of the advantage would be taken by the state
for the benefit of all.
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