Gaetano Mosca, The Ruling Class - selections by Peter Myers, April 25, 2003;date June 29, 2003. My comments are shown {thus}.

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Gaetano Mosca was a political scientist who surveyed civilizations with the broad scope of Fernand Braudel (braudel.html) and Arnold J. Toynbee (toynbee.html).

As with Toynbee, he depicted a single "human history" in which all civilizations were linked. Without effort, he draws lessons for out time, from all times and places in the past.

(1) The Ruling Class, by Gaetano Mosca (2) The Myth of the Ruling Class: Gaetano Mosca and the "Elite"

(1) The Ruling Class

Elementi di Scienza Politica

Gaetano Mosca

Edited and revised, with an introduction by Arthur Livingston

Translated by Hannah D. Kahn

McGraw-Hill, New York, 1939.

{p. 24} Are Indians and Negroes on the whole inferior to whites as individuals? While most people would answer with a ready and emphatic yes, some few with equal promptness and resolve say no. As for us, we find it as hard to agree as to disagree in terms at all positive. Observers rarely fail to report, in strictly primitive groups of these races, individuals who are outstanding for qualities, now of mind, now of heart. Where the American aborigines have mingled with the whites and adopted their civilization, they have not failed to produce distinguished men in nearly all branches of human activity, and under identical conditions the Negroes can boast of a list of names almost as long. Nevertheless, one has to admit, as regards both these races, that the roster of conspicuous individuals is very brief as compared with the number of individuals who have been, and are, in a position to enjoy the advantages offered by civilized life. Some weight, however, has to be given to a remark that was made to Henry George by a scholarly Negro bishop, that Negro school children do as well as white children and show themselves just as wide-awake and intelligent up to the age of ten or twelve; but as soon as they begin to realize that they belong to a race that is adjudged inferior, and that they can look forward to no better lot than that of cooks and porters, they lose interest in studying and lapse into apathy. In a great part of America colored people are generally regarded as inferior creatures, who must inevitably be relegated to the lowest social strata. Now if the disinherited classes among the whites bore on their faces the indelible stamp of social inferiority, it is certain that few individuals indeed among them would have the energy to raise themselves to a social position very much higher than the one to which they were born.

If some doubt may be raised as to the aptitude of Negroes and American Indians for the higher forms of civilization and political organization, all perplexity vanishes as regards the Aryans and the Semites, the Mongolian, or yellow, race and that dark Asiatic race which lives mixed with the Aryan stock in India and has fused with the yellow in southern China, in Indo-China and

{p. 25} perhaps in Japan. These races taken together make up more than three-fourths, and perhaps as much as four-fifths, of all mankind. We say nothing of the Polynesian race. It may well have superior capacities, but being scant in numbers and dispersed over small islands, it has not been able to create any great civilization.

The Chinese succeeded in founding a highly original civilization which has shown wondrous powers of survival and even more wondrous powers of expansion. Offshoots in large part of Chinese civilization are the cultures of Japan and Indo-China, and the Sumerian people which founded the earliest civilization in Babylonia seems to have belonged to a Turanian stock. The dark Asiatic race seems to have developed a very ancient civilization in Elam, or Susiana, and an autochthonous culture apparently existed in India before the coming of the Aryans. Egypt owes her civilization to a so-called sub-Semitic or Berber race, and Nineveh, Sidon, Jerusalem, Damascus and perhaps even Sardis belonged to the Semites. Reference to the more recent civilization of the Mohammedan Arabs seems to us superfluous.

12. While not holding to the absolute superiority or inferiority of any human race, many people believe that each race has special intellectual and moral qualities and that these necessarily correspond to certain types of social and political organization, from which the spirit, or, better, the peculiar "genius" of the race, will not permit it to depart.

Now, making all due allowances for the exaggerations that gain ready admission to discussions of this subject, and taking account at all times of the great fund of human traits that is present in all peoples in all ages, it cannot be denied that - not to say every race - every nation, every region, every city presents a certain special type that is not uniformly definite and clear-cut everywhere but which consists in a body of ideas, beliefs, opinions, sentiments, customs and prejudices, which are to each group of human beings what the lineaments of the face are to each individual.

This variation in type could safely be regarded as due to physical diversities, to racial variations, to the different blood that flows in the veins of each different nationality, did it not find its explanation in another fact, which is one of the best

{p. 26} authenticated and most constant that observation of human nature affords. We refer to mimetism, to that great psychological force whereby every individual is wont to adopt the ideas, the beliefs, the sentiments that are most current in the environment in which he has grown up. Save for rare and rarely complete exceptions, a person thinks, judges and believes the way the society in which he lives thinks, judges and believes. We observe that aspect of things which is commonly noted by the persons about us, and the individual preferably develops those moral and intellectual attitudes which are most prevalent and most highly esteemed in the human environment in which he has been formed.

In fact, unity of moral and intellectual type is found to be very strong in groups of persons having nothing special in common as regards blood or race. The Catholic clergy will serve as an example. Scattered the world over, it always preserves a singular uniformity in its beliefs, its intellectual and moral attitudes and its customs. The phenomenon is most striking in the various religious orders. Well known is the remarkable resemblance of an Italian Jesuit to a French, German or English Jesuit. A strong resemblance exists, too, in the military type that is common to almost all the great European armies, and a fairly constant intellectual or moral type may further exist within separate regiments, in military academies and even in secular schools - anywhere, in short, where a special environment has somehow been established, a sort of psychological mold that shapes to its own contour any individual who happens to be cast into it.

We are not for the moment inquiring as to how the great national environments, and better still those great psychological currents that sometimes embrace a whole civilization or all the followers of a religion, have come into being, lived their lives and, often, vanished from the world scene. To launch out on such a study would involve retraversing the history of the whole civilized portion of mankind. But this much we can safely say: that historical circumstances peculiar to each of the great groups of mankind have in the main fashioned the special environments mentioned, and that new historical circumstances slowly modify, or even destroy, those environments. The role that blood relationship, that race, plays in the formation of the various

{p. 27} moral and mental environments may, in certain cases at least, be slight and of difficult appraisal even when the ethnological factor seems at first glance to be preponderant.

Apt to this point would be the example of the Jews, who have been dispersed among other peoples yet for centuries upon centuries have wondrously preserved their national type. But we must not forget, either, that the children of Israel have always lived spiritually apart from the peoples among whom they dwelt, and therefore have always been in a special environment. As Leroy-Beaulieu well says, the modern Jew is a product of the isolation in which he has for centuries been kept by the Torah, the Taimud and the ghetto. The progeny of Jewish families that are converted to Christianity or to Islamism rarely retain the characteristics of their ancestors for any length of time - for many generations, that is; and the unconverted Jew best preserves his special type in countries where he keeps most to himself. A Jew from Little Russia or Constantinople is much more Jewish than his coreligionists who have been born and bred in Italy or France, where the ghetto is now just a memory. Chinese immigrants in America take over white civilization in many respects, but their mental type remains unchained, while the Chinese in California and some other states always keep to themselves in a Chinese environment. In European and Asiatic Turkey, Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Jews and Levantines live together in the same cities. They do not fuse nor are their races modified, for in spite of the fact that they live in material contact, they are spiritually separated, each group having its own special environment. The great tenacity with which the English national type maintains itself, as compared with other nationalities of Europe, may be the result of the scant sociability that English settlers in foreign countries manifest toward natives, which inclines them to cluster together in a miniature British environment. Many cases might be mentioned where ethnic affinity between two peoples is a virtually negligible bond as compared with the ties that result from similarities in religion or from the fact of common histories and civilizations. Ethnologists have discovered that a Magyar is more closely related to a Chinese or a Turk than to a Frenchman or a German. But who would claim that he is morally and intellectually closer to the

{p. 28} two former than to the two latter? The Mohammedan Aryans of Persia and Hindustan certainly have closer moral afflnities with the Arabs and Turks than with their European kinsmen; and Jews long settled in western Europe certainly feel spiritually closer to the nations among whom they live than to the Arabs, who are blood relatives but who have adopted Oriental civilization.

The so-called genius of a race, therefore, has nothing predestined or inevitable about it, as some people are pleased to imagine. Even granting that the various "higher" races - in other words races that are capable of creating original civilizations of their own - differ organically from each other, it is not the sum of their organic differences that has exclusively or even principally determined the differences in the social type that they have adopted, but rather the differences in social contacts and in the historical circumstances to which every nation, every social organism - let alone every race - is fated to be subject.

13. The question of race would at this point be settled if everyone were in agreement that the organic and psychological changes by which a human race may be modified over an extensive period of history - for example, twenty or thirty centuries - are hardly appreciable and virtually negligible. But this is far from being a generally accepted belief. There is, in fact, a whole school of historical thinking that is founded on quite different postulates. Applying Darwin's doctrines about the evolution of species to the social sciences, this school holds that every human group can make considerable organic improvements in relatively brief periods of time, whence the possibility of political and social betterment. ...

{p. 29} To put the situation in a few words, the struggle for existence has been confused with the struggle for preeminence, which is really a constant phenomenon that arises in all human societies, from the most highly civilized down to such as have barely issued from savagery.

In a struggle between two human societies, the victorious society as a rule fails to annihilate the vanquished society, but subjects it, assimilates it, imposes its own type of civilization upon it. In our day in Europe and America war has no other result than political hegemony for the nation that proves superior in a military sense, or perhaps the seizure of some bit of territory. But even in ancient times, when Greece was fighting Persia and Rome Carthage, the political organization, the national existence, of the vanquished peoples was sometimes destroyed, but individually, even in the worst cases, they were usually reduced to servitude rather than put to the sword. Cases like that of Saguntum and of Numantia, or like the taking of Tyre by Alexander the Great, or of Carthage by Scipio, have been at all periods of history altogether exceptional. The Ayrans in the ancient East and the Mongols in the Middle Ages were the peoples most given to the practice of systematically butchering the peoples they conquered. But even they used the practice rather as a means of forcing enemies into surrender than as an end in itself, and it cannot be said that a single people was ever exterminated root and branch by their frightful slaughters. As instances of complete destruction of peoples by conquerors the cases of the Tasmanians, the Australians and the American Indians are commonly mentioned. But actually those were primitive tribes with small populations scattered over large territories. They perished, or are perishing, chiefly because, as we have seen, agriculture and an encroaching civilization have reduced the supply of big game which was their principal means of subsistence. In a few regions where the Indians have been

{p. 30} able to adapt themselves to a crude sort of agriculture, they have escaped destruction. In Mexico and Peru the natives were numerous at the time of the Spanish conquest because they had reached the agricultural stage. In spite of the slaughters committed by their Spanish conquerors they today form the great majority in Spanish American populations. In Algeria, too, a hard and bloody conquest by the French has not reduced the numerical strength of the natives.

If we consider, rather, the inner ferment that goes on within the body of every society, we see at once that the struggle for preeminence is far more conspicuous there than the struggle for existence. Competition between individuals of every social unit is focused upon higher position, wealth, authority, control of the means and instruments that enable a person to direct many human activities, many human wills, as he sees fit. The losers, who are of course the majority in that sort of struggle, are not devoured, destroyed or even kept from reproducing their kind, as is basically characteristic of the struggle for life. They merely enjoy fewer material satisfactions and, especially, less freedom and independence. On the whole, indeed, in civilized societies, far from being gradually eliminated by a process of natural selection so called, the lower classes are more prolific than the higher, and even in the lower classes every individual in the long run gets a loaf of bread and a mate, though the bread be more or less dark and hard-earned and the mate more or less unattractive or undesirable. The polygamy that is common in upper classes is the only point that might be cited in support of the principle of natural selection as applied to primitive and civilized societies. But even that argument is weak. Among human beings polygamy does not necessarily imply greater fertility. In fact, the preferably polygamous human societies have been the ones that have made least social progress. It would seem to follow, therefore, that natural selection has proved to be least effective in the cases where it has had freest play.

14. Then again, if the progress of a race or a nation depends primarily on organic improvement in the individuals who compose it, the world's story should present a far different plot from the one we know. The moral and intellectual, and therefore the

{p. 31} social, progress of every people should be slower and more continuous. The law of natural selection combined with the law of heredity should carry each generation a step, but only a step, ahead of the preceding generation; and we should not, as is frequently the case in history, see a people take a great many steps forward, or sometimes a great many steps backward, in the course of two or three generations.

Examples of such rapid advances and giddy declines are so common as scarcely to require mention. A mere hundred and twenty years intervened between the day of Pisistratus and the day of Socrates; but during those years Hellenic art, Hellenic thought, Hellenic civilization made such measureless progress as to transform a nation of mediocre though ancient civilization into the Greece which traced the most glamorous, the most profound, the most unforgettable pages in the story of human progress. We do not mention the case of Rome because, to tell the truth, Hellenic influence played a large part in her meteoric passage from barbarism to civilization. The Italy of the Renaissance is chronologically only a little over a century removed from the Italy of Dante; but in that interval the artistic, moral and scientific ideal is transformed by an inner creative ferment of the nation and the man of the Middle Ages changes and is gone.

Compare, for a moment, the France of 1650 and the France of 1750. Still alive in the former are men who can remember St. Bartholomew's Eve. The religious wars, the Holy League, the falling of two kings under the assassin's dagger, are facts which have not yet acquired the mystery of ancientness - eyewitnesses of them cannot be rare. Anyone who has passed early youth may easily have been present at the taking of La Rochelle, the closing scene in the historic period referred to. Almost no one dares voice a doubt as to the existence of goblins and witches. A scant thirty-seven years have passed since the wife of Marshal d'Ancre was burned at the stake as a witch. A century later, Montesquieu is an old man, Voltaire and Rousseau are in their prime, the Encyclopedia, if not published, has already ripened in the intellectual world. As far as ideas, beliefs, customs, are concerned, the revolution of '89 may be considered virtually complete.

{p. 52} Absolutisms though they were, there was little in common between the manners in which Russia and Turkey were managed politically, the levels of civilization in the two countries and the organization of their ruling classes being vastly different. On the same basis, the regime in Italy, a monarchy, is much more similar to the regime in France, a republic, than it is to the regime in England, also a monarchy; and there are important differences between the political organizations of the United States and France, though both countries are republics.

As we have already suggested, ingrained habits of thinking have long stood, as they still stand, in the way of scientific progress in this matter. The classification mentioned above which divides governments into absolute monarchies, limited monarchies and republics, was devised by Montesquieu and was intended to replace the classical categories of Aristotle, who divided governments into monarchies, aristocracies and democracies. What Aristotle called a democracy was simply an aristocracy of fairly broad membership. Aristotle himself was in a position to observe that in every Greek state, whether aristocratic or democratic, there was always one person or more who had a preponderant influence. Between the day of Polybius and the day of Montesquieu, many writers perfected Aristotle's classification by introducing into it the concept of "mixed" governments. Later on the modern democratic theory, which had its source in Rousseau, took its stand upon the concept that the majority of the citizens in any state can participate, and in fact ought to participate, in its political life, and the doctrine of popular sovereignty still holds sway over many minds in spite of the fact that modern scholarship is making it increasingly clear that democratic, monarchical and aristocratic principles function side by side in every political organism. We shall not stop to refute this democratic theory here, since that is the task of this work as a whole. Besides, it would be hard to destroy in a few pages a whole system of ideas that has become firmly rooted

{p. 53} in the human mind. As Las Casas aptly wrote in his life of Christopher Columbus, it is often much harder to unlearn than to learn.

3. We think it may be desirable, nevertheless, to reply at this point to an objection which might very readily be made to our point of view. If it is easy to understand that a single individual cannot command a group without finding within the group a minority to support him, it is rather difficult to grant, as a constant and natural fact, that minorities rule majorities, rather than majorities minorities. But that is one of the points - so numerous in all the other sciences - where the first impression one has of things is contrary to what they are in reality. In reality the dominion of an organized minority, obeying a single impulse, over the unorganized majority is inevitable. The power of any minority is irresistible as against each single individual in the majority, who stands alone before the totality of the organized minority. At the same time, the minority is organized for the very reason that it is a minority. A hundred men acting uniformly in concert, with a common understanding, will triumph over a thousand men who are not in accord and can therefore be dealt with one by one. Meanwhile it will be easier for the former to act in concert and have a mutual understanding simply because they are a hundred and not a thousand. It follows that the larger the political community, the smaller will the proportion of the governing minority to the governed majority be, and the more difficult will it be for the majority to organize for reaction against the minority.

However, in addition to the great advantage accruing to them from the fact of being organized, ruling minorities are usually so constituted that the individuals who make them up are distinguished from the mass of the governed by qualities that give them a certain material, intellectual or even moral superiority; or else they are the heirs of individuals who possessed such qualities. In other words, members of a ruling minority regularly have some attribute, real or apparent, which is highly esteemed and very influential in the society in which they live.

4. In primitive societies that are still in the early stages of organization, military valor is the quality that most readily

{p. 54} opens access to the ruling, or political, class. In societies of advanced civilization, war is the exceptional condition. It may be regarded as virtually normal in societies that are in the initial stages of their development; and the individuals who show the greatest ability in war easily gain supremacy over their fellows - the bravest become chiefs. The fact is constant, but the forms it may assume, in one set of circumstances or another, vary considerably.

As a rule the dominance of a warrior class over a peaceful multitude is attributed to a superposition of races, to the conquest of a relatively unwarlike group by an aggressive one. Sometimes that is actually the case - we have examples in India after the Aryan invasions, in the Roman Empire after the Germanic invasions and in Mexico after the Atec conquest. But more often, under certain social conditions, we note the rise of a warlike ruling class in places where there is absolutely no trace of a foreign conquest. As long as a horde lives exclusively by the chase, all individuals can easily become warriors. There will of course be leaders who will rule over the tribe, but we will not find a warrior class rising to exploit, and at the same time to protect, another class that is devoted to peaceful pursuits. As the tribe emerges from the hunting stage and enters the agricultural and pastoral stage, then, along with an enormous increase in population and a greater stability in the means of exerting social influence, a more or less clean-cut division into two classes will take place, one class being devoted exclusively to agriculture, the other class to war. In this event, it is inevitable that the warrior class should little by little acquire such ascendancy over the other as to be able to oppress it with impunity.

Poland offers a characteristic example of the gradual metamorphosis of a warrior class into an absolutely dominant class. Originally the Poles had the same organization by rural villages as prevailed among all the Slavic peoples. There was no distinction between fighters and farmers - in other words, between nobles and peasants. But after the Poles came to settle on the broad plains that are watered by the Vistula and the Niemen, agriculture began to develop among them. However, the necessity of fighting with warlike neighbors continued, so that the tribal chiefs, or voivodes, gathered about themselves a certain number of picked men whose special occupation was the bearing

{p. 55} of arms. These warriors were distributed among the various rural communities. They were exempt from agricultural duties, yet they received their share of the produce of the soil, along with the other members of the community. In early days their position was not considered very desirable, and country dwellers sometimes waived exemption from agricultural labor in order to avoid going to war. But gradually as this order of things grew stabilized, as one class became habituated to the practice of arms and military organization while the other hardened to the use of the plow and the spade, the warriors became nobles and masters, and the peasants, once companions and brothers, became villeins and serfs. Little by little the warrior lords increased their demands to the point where the share they took as members of the community came to include the community's whole produce minus what was absolutely necessary for subsistence on the part of the cultivators; and when the latter tried to escape such abuses they were constrained by force to stay bound to the soil, their situation taking on all the characteristics of serfdom pure and simple.

In the course of this evolution, around the year 1333, King Casimir the Great tried vainly to curb the overbearing insolence of the warriors. When peasants came to complain of the nobles, he contented himself with asking whether they had no sticks and stones. Some generations later, in 1537, the nobility forced all tradesmen in the cities to sell such real estate as they owned, and landed property became a prerogative of nobles only. At the same time the nobility exerted pressure upon the king to open negotiations with Rome, to the end that thenceforward only nobles should be admitted to holy orders in Poland. That barred townsmen and peasants almost completely from honorific positions and stripped them of any social importance whatever.

We find a parallel development in Russia. There the warriors who formed the druzhina, or escort, of the old knezes (princes descended from Rurik) also received a share in the produce of the mirs (rural peasant communities) for their livelihood. Little by little this share was increased. Since land abounded and workers were scarce, the peasants often had an eye to their advantage and moved about. At the end of the sixteenth century, accordingly,

{p. 56} the czar Boris Godunov empowered the nobles to hold peasants to their lands by force, so establishing serfdom. However, armed forces in Russia were never composed exclusively of nobles. The muzhiks, or peasants, went to war as common soldiers under the droujina. As early as the sixteenth century, Ivan the Terrible established the order of strelitzes which amounted practically to a standing army, and which lasted until Peter the Great replaced it with regiments organized along western European lines. In those regiments members of the old druzhina, with an intermixture of foreigners, became officers, while the muzhiks provided the entire contingent of privates.

Among peoples that have recently entered the agricultural stage and are relatively civilized, it is the unvarying fact that the strictly military class is the political, or ruling, class. Sometimes the bearing of arms is reserved exclusively to that class, as happened in India and Poland. More often the members of the governed class are on occasion enrolled - always, however, as common soldiers and in the less respected divisions. So in Greece, during the war with the Medes, the citizens belonging to the richer and more influential classes formed the picked corps (the cavalry and the hoplites), the less wealthy fought as peltasts or as slingers, while the slaves, that is the laboring masses, were almost entirely barred from military service. We find analogous arrangements in republican Rome, down to the period of the Punic Wars and even as late as the day of Mariusin Latin and Germanic Europe during the Middle Ages; in Russia, as just explained, and among many other peoples. Caesar notes repeatedly that in his time the backbone of the Gallic armies was formed by cavalrymen recruited from the nobility. The Aedui, for example, could not hold out against Ariovistus after the flower of their cavalry had been killed in battle.

5. Everywhere - in Russia and Poland, in India and medieval Europe - the ruling warrior classes acquire almost exclusive ownership of the land. Land, as we have seen, is the chief source of production and wealth in countries that are not very far advanced in civilization. But as civilization progresses, revenue from land increases proportionately. With the growth of population there is, at least in certain periods, an increase in

{p. 57} rent, in the Ricardian sense of the term, largely because great centers of consumption arise - such at all times have been the great capitals and other large cities, ancient and modern. Eventually, if other circumstances permit, a very important social transformation occurs. Wealth rather than military valor comes to be the characteristic feature of the dominant class: the people who rule are the rich rather than the brave.

The condition that in the main is required for this transformation is that social organization shall have concentrated and become perfected to such an extent that the protection offered by public authority is considerably more effective than the protection offered by private force. In other words, private property must be so well protected by the practical and real efficacy of the laws as to render the power of the proprietor himself superfluous. This comes about through a series of gradual alterations in the social structure whereby a type of political organization, which we shall call the "feudal state," is transformed into an essentially different type, which we shall term the "bureaucratic state." We are to discuss these types at some length hereafter, but we may say at once that the evolution here referred to is as a rule greatly facilitated by progress in pacific manners and customs and by certain moral habits which societies contract as civilization advances.

Once this transformation has taken place, wealth produces political power just as political power has been producing wealth. In a society already somewhat mature - where, therefore, individual power is curbed by the collective power - if the powerful are as a rule the rich, to be rich is to become powerful. And, in truth, when fighting with the mailed fist is prohibited whereas fighting with pounds and pence is sanctioned, the better posts are inevitably won by those who are better supplied with pounds and pence.

There are, to be sure, states of a very high level of civilization which in theory are organized on the basis of moral principles of such a character that they seem to preclude this overbearing assertiveness on the part of wealth. But this is a case - and there are many such - where theoretical principles can have no more than a limited application in real life. In the United States all powers flow directly or indirectly from popular elections, and suffrage is equal for all men and women in all the states of the

{p. 58} Union. What is more, democracy prevails not only in institutions but to a certain extent also in morals. The rich ordinarily feel a certain aversion to entering public life, and the poor a certain aversion to choosing the rich for elective office. But that does not prevent a rich man from being more influential than a poor man, since he can use pressure upon the politicians who control public administration. It does not prevent elections from being carried on to the music of clinking dollars. It does not prevent whole legislatures and considerable numbers of national congressmen from feeling the influence of powerful corporations and great financiers.

In China, too, down to a few years ago, though the government had not accepted the principle of popular elections, it was organized on an essentially equalitarian basis. Academic degrees gave access to public office, and degrees were conferred by examination without any apparent regard for family or wealth. According to some writers, only barbers and certain classes of boatmen, together with their children, were barred from competing for the various grades of the mandarinate. But though the moneyed class in China was less numerous, less wealthy, less powerful than the moneyed class in the United States is at present, it was none the less able to modify the scrupulous application of this system to a very considerable extent. Not only was the indulgence of examiners often bought with money. The government itself sometimes sold the various academic degrees and allowed ignorant persons, often from the lowest social strata, to hold public office.

In all countries of the world those other agencies for exerting social influence - personal publicity, good education, specialized training, high rank in church, public administration, and army - are always readier of access to the rich than to the poor. The rich invariably have a considerably shorter road to travel than the poor, to say nothing of the fact that the stretch of road that the rich are spared is often the roughest and most difficult.

{p. 59} 6. In societies in which religious beliefs are strong and ministers of the faith form a special class a priestly aristocracy almost always arises and gains possession of a more or less important share of the wealth and the political power. Conspicuous examples of that situation would be ancient Egypt (during certain periods), Brahman India and medieval Europe. Oftentimes the priests not only perform religious functions. They possess legal and scientific knowledge and constitute the class of highest intellectual culture. Consciously or unconsciously, priestly hierarchies often show a tendency to monopolize learning and hamper the dissemination of the methods and procedures that make the acquisition of knowledge possible and easy. To that tendency may have been due, in part at least, the painfully slow diffusion of the demotic alphabet in ancient Egypt, though that alphabet was infinitely more simple than the hieroglyphic script. The Druids in Gaul were acquainted with the Greek alphabet but would not permit their rich store of sacred literature to be written down, requiring their pupils to commit it to memory at the cost of untold effort. To the same outlook may be attributed the stubborn and frequent use of dead languages that we find in ancient Chaldea, in India, and in medieval Europe. Sometimes, as was the case in India, lower classes have been explicitly forbidden to acquire knowledge of sacred books.

Specialized knowledge and really scientific culture, purged of any sacred or religious aura, become important political forces only in a highly advanced stage of civilization, and only then do they give access to membership in the ruling class to those who possess them. But in this case too, it is not so much learning in itself that has political value as the practical applications that may be made of learning to the profit of the public or the state. Sometimes all that is required is mere possession of the mechanical processes that are indispensable to the acquisition of a higher culture. This may be due to the fact that on such a basis it is easier to ascertain and measure the skill which a candidate has been able to acquire - it is easier to "mark" or grade him. So in certain periods in ancient Egypt the profession of scribe was a road to public office and power, perhaps because to have learned the hieroglyphic script was proof of long and patient study. In modern China, again, learning the numberless characters in

{p. 60} Chinese script has formed the basis of the mandarin's education. In present-day Europe and America the class that applies the findings of modern science to war, public administration, public works and public sanitation holds a fairly important position both socially and politically, and in our western world, as in ancient Rome, an altogether privileged position is held by lawyers. They know the complicated legislation that arises in all peoples of long-standing civilization, and they become especially powerful if their knowledge of law is coupled with the type of eloquence that chances to have a strong appeal to the taste of their contemporaries.

There are examples in abundance where we see that longstanding practlce in directing the military and civil organization of a community creates and develops in the higher reaches of the ruling class a real art of governing which is something better than crude empiricism and better than anything that mere individual experience could suggest. In such circumstances aristocracies of functionaries arise, such as the Roman senate, the Venetian nobility and to a certain extent the English aristocracy. Those bodies all stirred John Stuart Mill to admiration and certainly they all three developed governments that were distinguished for carefully considered policies and for great steadfastness and sagacity in carrying them out. This art of governing is not political science, though it has, at one time or another, anticipated applications of a number of the postulates of political science. However, even if the art of governing has now and again enjoyed prestige with certain classes of persons who have long held possession of political functions, knowledge of it has never served as an ordinary criterion for admitting to public offices persons who were barred from them by social station. The degree of mastery of the art of governing that a person possesses is, moreover, apart from exceptional cases, a very difficult thing to determine if the person has given no practical demonstration that he possesses it.

7. In some countries we find hereditary castes. In such cases the governing class is explicitly restricted to a given number of

{p. 61} families, and birth is the one criterion that determines entry into the class or exclusion from it. Examples are exceedingly common. There is practically no country of long-standing civilization that has not had a hereditary aristocracy at one period or another in its history. We find hereditary nobilities during certain periods in China and ancient Egypt, in India, in Greece before the wars with the Medes, in ancient Rome, among the Slavs, among the Latins and Germans of the Middle Ages, in Mexico at the time of the Discovery and in Japan down to a few years ago.

In this connection two preliminary observations are in point. In the first place, all ruling classes tend to become hereditary in fact if not in law. All political forces seem to possess a quality that in physics used to be called the force of inertia. They have a tendency, that is, to remain at the point and in the state in which they find themselves. Wealth and military valor are easily maintained in certain families by moral tradition and by heredity. Qualification for important office - the habit of, and to an extent the capacity for, dealing with affairs of consequence - is much more readily acquired when one has had a certain familiarity with them from childhood. Even when academic degrees, scientific training, special aptitudes as tested by examinations and competitions, open the way to public offlce, there is no eliminating that special advantage in favor of certain individuals which the French call the advantage of posions deja prises. In actual fact, though examinations and competitions may theoretically be open to all, the majority never have the resources for meeting the expense of long preparation, and many others are without the connections and kinships that set an individual promptly on the right road, enabling him to avoid the gropings and blunders that are inevitable when one enters an unfamiliar environment without any guidance or support.

The democratic principle of election by broad-based suffrage would seem at first glance to be in confiict with the tendency toward stability which, according to our theory, ruling classes show. But it must be noted that candidates who are successful in democratic elections are almost always the ones who possess the political forces above enumerated, which are very often hereditary. In the English, French and Italian parliaments we

{p. 62} frequently see the sons, grandsons, brothers, nephews and sons-in-law of members and deputies, ex-members and ex-deputies.

In the second place, when we see a hereditary caste established in a country and monopolizing political power, we may be sure that such a status de jure was preceded by a similar status de facto. Before proclaiming their exclusive and hereditary right to power the families or castes in question must have held the scepter of command in a firm grasp, completely monopolizing all the political forces of that country at that period. Otherwise such a claim on their part would only have aroused the bitterest protests and provoked the bitterest struggles.

Hereditary aristocracies often come to vaunt supernatural origins, or at least origins different from, and superior to, those of the governed classes. Such claims are explained by a highly significant social fact, namely that every governing class tends to justify its actual exercise of power by resting it on some universal moral principle. This same sort of claim has come forward in our time in scientific trappings. A number of writers developing and amplifying Darwin's theories, contend that upper classes represent a higher level in social evolution and are therefore superior to lower classes by organic structure. Gumplowicz we have already quoted. That writer goes to the point of maintaining that the divisions of populations into trade groups and professional classes in modern civilized countries are based on ethnological heterogeneousness.

Now history very definitely shows the special abilities as well as the special defects - both very marked - which have been displayed by aristocracies that have either remained absolutely closed or have made entry into their circles difficult. The ancient Roman patriciate and the English and German nobilities of modern times give a ready idea of the type we refer to. Yet in dealing with this fact, and with the theories that tend to exaggerate lts significance, we can always raise the same objection - that the individuals who belong to the aristocracies in question owe their special qualities not so much to the blood that flows in their veins as to their very particular upbringing, which has brought out certain intellectual and moral tendencies in them in preference to others.

{p. 63} Among all the factors that figure in social superiority, intellectual superiority is the one with which heredity has least to do. The children of men of highest mentality often have very mediocre talents. That is why hereditary aristocracies have never defended their rule on the basis of intellectual superiority alone, but rather on the basis of their superiorities in character and wealth.

It is argued, in rebuttal, that education and environment may serve to explain superiorities in strictly intellectual capacities but not differences of a moral order - will power, courage, pride, energy. The truth is that social position, family tradition, the habits of the class in which we live, contribute more than is commonly supposed to the greater or lesser development of the qualities mentioned. If we carefully observe individuals who have changed their social status, whether for better or for worse, and who consequently find themselves in environments different from the ones they have been accustomed to, it is apparent that their intellectual capacities are much less sensibly affected than their moral ones. Apart from a greater breadth of view that education and experience bring to anyone who is not altogether stupid, every individual, whether he remains a mere clerk or becomes a minister of state, whether he reaches the rank of sergeant or the rank of general, whether he is a millionaire or a beggar, abides inevitably on the intellectual level on which nature has placed him. And yet with changes of social status and wealth the proud man often becomes humble, servility changes to arrogance, an honest nature learns to lie, or at least to dissemble, under pressure of need, while the man who has an ingrained habit of lying and bluffing makes himself over and puts on an outward semblance at least of honesty and firmness of character. It is true, of course, that a man fallen from high estate often acquires powers of resignation, self-denial and resourcefulness, just as one who rises in the world sometimes gains in sentiments of justice and fairness. In short, whether a man change for the better or for the worse, he has to be exceptionally level-headed if he is to change his social status very appreciably and still keep his character unaltered. Mirabeau remarked that, for any man, any great climb on the social ladder produces a crisis that cures the ills he has and creates new ones that he never had before.

{p. 64} Courage in battle, impetuousness in attack, endurance in resistance - such are the qualities that have long and often been vaunted as a monopoly of the higher classes. Certainly there may be vast natural and - if we may say so - innate differences between one individual and another in these respects; but more than anything else traditions and environmental influences are the things that keep them high, low or just average, in any large group of human beings. We generally become indifferent to danger or, perhaps better, to a given type of danger, when the persons with whom we daily live speak of it with indifference and remain cool and imperturbable before it. Many mountaineers or sailors are by nature timid men, yet they face unmoved, the ones the dangers of the precipice, the others the perils of the storm at sea. So peoples and classes that are accustomed to warfare maintain military virtues at the highest pitch.

So true is this that even peoples and social classes which are ordinarily unaccustomed to arms acquire the military virtues rapidly when the individuals who compose them are made members of organizations in which courage and daring are traditional, when - if one may venture the metaphor - they are cast into human crucibles that are heavily charged with the sentiments that are to be infused into their fiber. Mohammed II recruited his terrible Janizaries in the main from boys who had been kidnapped among the degenerate Greeks of Byzantium. The much despised Egyptian fellah, unused for long centuries to war and accustomed to remaining meek and helpless under the lash of the oppressor, became a good soldier when Mehemet Ali placed him in Turkish or Albanian regiments. The French nobility has always enjoyed a reputation for brilliant valor, but down to the end of the eighteenth century that quality was not credited in anything like the same degree to the French bourgeoisie. However, the wars of the Republic and the Empire amply proved that nature had been uniformly lavish in her endowments of courage upon all the inhabitants of France. Proletariat and bourgeoisie both furnished good soldiers and, what is more, excellent officers, though talent for command had been considered an exclusive prerogative of the nobility. Gumplowicz's theory that differentiation in social classes depends very largely on ethnological antecedents requires proof at the very least. Many facts to the contrary readily occur to one -

{p. 65} among others the obvious fact that branches of the same family often belong to widely different social classes.

8. Finally, if we were to keep to the idea of those who maintain the exclusive infiuence of the hereditary principle in the formation of ruling classes, we should be carried to a conclusion somewhat like the one to which we were carried by the evolutionary principle: The political history of mankind ought to be much simpler than it is. If the ruling class really belonged to a different race, or if the qualities that fit it for dominion were transmitted primarily by organic heredity, it is difficult to see how, once the class was formed, it could decline and lose its power. The peculiar qualities of a race are exceedingly tenacious. Keeping to the evolutionary theory, acquired capacities in the parents are inborn in their children and, as generation succeeds generation, are progressively accentuated. The descendants of rulers, therefore, ought to become better and better fitted to rule, and the other classes ought to see their chances of challenging or supplanting them become more and more remote. Now the most commonplace experience suffices to assure one that things do not go in that way at all.

What we see is that as soon as there is a shift in the balance of political forces - when, that is, a need is felt that capacities different from the old should assert themselves in the management of the state, when the old capacities, therefore, lose some of their importance or changes in their distribution occur - then the manner in which the ruling class is constituted changes also. If a new source of wealth develops in a society, if the practical importance of knowledge grows, if an old religion declines or a new one is born, if a new current of ideas spreads, then, simultaneously, far-reaching dislocations occur in the ruling class. One might say, indeed, that the whole history of civilized mankind comes down to a conflict between the tendency of dominant elements to monopolize political power and transmit possession of it by inheritance, and the tendency toward a dislocation of old forces and an insurgence of new forces; and this conflict produces an unending ferment of endosmosis and exosmosis between the upper classes and certain portions of the lower. Ruling classes decline inevitably when they cease to find scope for the capacities through which they rose to power, when they can no longer

{p. 66} render the social services which they once rendered, or when their talents and the services they render lose in importance in the social environment in which they live. So the Roman aristocracy declined when it was no longer the exclusive source of higher officers for the army, of administrators for the commonwealth, of governors for the provinces. So the Venetian aristocracy declined when its nobles ceased to command the galleys and no longer passed the greater part of their lives in sailing the seas and in trading and fighting.

In inorganic nature we have the example of our air, in which a tendency to immobility produced by the force of inertia is continuously in conflict with a tendency to shift about as the result of inequalities in the distribution of heat. The two tendencies, prevailing by turn in various regions on our planet, produce now calm, now wind and storm. In much the same way in human societies there prevails now the tendency that produces closed, stationary, crystallized ruling classes, now the tendency that results in a more or less rapid renovation of ruling classes.

The Oriental societies which we consider stationary have in reality not always been so, for otherwise, as we have already pointed out, they could not have made the advances in civilization of which they have left irrefutable evidence. It is much more accurate to say that we came to know them at a time when their political forces and their political classes were in a period of crystallization. The same thing occurs in what we commonly call "aging" societies, where religious beliefs, scientific knowledge, methods of producing and distributing wealth have for centuries undergone no radical alteration and have not been disturbed in their everyday course by infiltrations of foreign elements, material or intellectual. In such societies political forces are always the same, and the class that holds possession of them holds a power that is undisputed. Power is therefore perpetuated in certain families, and the inclination to immobility becomes general through all the various strata in that society.

So in India we see the caste system become thoroughly entrenched after the suppression of Buddhism. The Greeks found hereditary castes in ancient Egypt, but we know that in the periods of greatness and renaissance in Egyptian civilization political office and social status were not hereditary. We possess an Egyptian document that summarizes the life of a high army

{p. 67} officer who lived during the period of the expulsion of the Hyksos. He had begun his career as a simple soldier. Other documents show cases in which the same individual served successively in army, civil administration and priesthood.

The best-known and perhaps the most important example of a society tending toward crystallization is the period in Roman history that used to be called the Low Empire. There, after several centuries of almost complete social immobility, a division between two classes grew sharper and sharper, the one made up of great landowners and high officials, the other made up of slaves, farmers and urban plebeians. What is even more striking, public office and social position became hereditary by custom before they became hereditary by law, and the trend was rapidly generalized during the period mentioned.

On the other hand it may happen in the history of a nation that commerce with foreign peoples, forced emigrations, discoveries, wars, create new poverty and new wealth, disseminate knowledge of things that were previously unknown or cause infiltrations of new moral, intellectual and religious currents. Or again - as a result of such infiltrations or through a slow process of inner growth, or from both causes - it may happen that a new learning arises, or that certain elements of an old, long forgotten learning return to favor so that new ideas and new beliefs come to the fore and upset the intellectual habits on which the obedience of the masses has been founded. The ruling class may also be vanquished and destroyed in whole or in part by foreign invasions, or, when the circumstances just mentioned arise, it may be driven from power by the advent of new social elements who are strong in fresh political forces. Then, naturally, there comes a period of renovation, or, if one prefer, of revolution, during which individual energies have free play and certain individuals, more passionate, more energetic, more intrepid or merely shrewder than others, force their way from the bottom of the social ladder to the topmost rungs.

Once such a movement has set in, it cannot be stopped immediately.

{p. 174} As Renan well observes, if the reco-Roman world had not become Christian, it would have been converted to Mithraism, or to some other Asiatic religion that was at once more mystical than classical paganism and less incoherent.

So it was with Rousseau. He emerged and prospered at a time when first humanism and the Reformation, then the progress of the exact and natural sciences, then finally Voltaire and the Encyclopaedia, had discredited the whole Christian and medieval world, so that a new rational - we do not say reasonable - explanation of political institutions was in a position to win acceptance. If we analyze the lives of Luther and Mohammed it is easy to see that at the time when they appeared Germany and Arabia were ready to welcome their doctrines.

When the human being has a certain culture and is not under any engrossing pressure of material needs, he generally manifests a tendency to rise above the ordinary preoccupations of life and interest himself in something higher than himself, something that concerns the interests of the society to which he belongs. It is much easier for a new doctrine to prosper, accordingly, in places and situations where this idealistic tendency is not able to find satisfaction in the political system in its prevailing forms, and where, therefore, a man's enthusiasms and ambitions, his love of combat, his instincts for leadership, do not find a ready outlet. Christianity would certainly not have spread so rapidly in Rome in the days of the republic, when the state could offer its citizens the excitements of election campaigns, or when it was waging its terrible duel with Carthage. But the empire brought peace. It quieted conflicts between the nations and entrusted all public functions to salaried employees. That

{p. 175} prepared the ground for a long period of security and political repose that rendered the new religion the best possible service. In the age just past, the consolidation of the bureaucratic state, the ending of religious wars, the growth of a cultured, well-to-do class that had no part in political functions, supplied the basis first for the liberal and then for the radical socialist movements. Nations sometimes have periods of, so to say, psychological exhaustion, when they seem to need repose. That is what we mean when we say, with less aptness of phrase, perhaps, that a people has grown old. At any rate, if a society ha shad no revolutions and undergone no serious political changes for some centuries, when it begins at last to emrge from its long torpor it is much more easily persuaded that the triumph of a new doctrine, the establishment of a new form of government, will mark the beginning of a new era, a new golden age, and that on its advent all men will become good and happy in a new land of Cathay. That was the characteristic illusion in France around 1789. It was to an extent the illusion in Italy in 1848.

On the other hand, after a series of disturbances and changes, the enthusiasm and faith that political innovators and political novelties have inspired tends to fall off considerably, and a vague feeling of skepticism and fatigue spreads through the masses. However, capacity for faith and enthusiasm is exhausted far less readily than might appear at first sight. Disillusionment has little effect, on the whole, upon religious doctrines that are based on the supernatural, that solve problems relating to the prime cause of the universe or that postpone realization of the ideals of happiness and justice to another life.

But strangely enough, even doctrines that are apparently more realistic and should yield their fruits in this life succeed very well in surviving the refutations of them that are supplied by experience and the facts of everyday living. After all, illusions endure because illusion is a need for almost all men, a need that they feel no less strongly than their material needs. A system of illusions, therefore, is not easily discredited until it can be replaced with a new system. As we often see, when that is not possible, not even a sequence of sufferings, of terrible trials born of experiences more terrible still, is enough to disenchant a people; or, more exactly, discouragement rather than disillusionment settles upon that people ...

{p. 342} The first founding of a great empire that can be dated approximately by historical documents was that of the empire of Sargon I, called the Elder, king of Akkad in Chaldea, about 3000 B.C. It is possible that similar efforts may have been made a century or more earlier by the kings of Lagash and Sumer. Sargon's empire extended from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean and the Sinai peninsula. If it really was the most ancient of the great political organisms, it marks a decisive step in the history of human civilization. It seems to have lasted less than a century, however, falling apart into a number of rival kingdoms after the death of Naram-Sin, third in line of succession from Sargon. But the example set by that early conqueror was to find imitators, and other great empires were to rise in epochs still remote, first in lower, and later in upper, Mesopotamia. Babylonia was situated in an almost intermediate position between the upper and the lower valleys of the Euphrates and the Tigris. For sixteen centuries, the long era that elapses between Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian empire very probably represented the greatest concentration of population, wealth and culture that the world had seen down to that time.

Perhaps some time before the day of Sargon, Menes, founder of the first Egyptian dynasty, had welded the little states, into which upper and lower Egypt had previously been sub-

{p. 343} divided, into a single state. So resulted an empire and a center of civilization which rivaled the Mesopotamian empire and were to last as long, with several periods of eclipse.

The little we know about the political organization of these two very ancient empires in Mesopotamia and Egypt indicates that at the vertex of the social pyramid stood a sovereign. He had a sacred character, offering sacrifices to the national deity in the name of the people. The deity held the guardianship of the empire. At Thebes, in Egypt, his name was Ammon, in Babylonia it was Marduk and in Nineveh, Asshur (see above, chap. III, §3). All civil and military powers were exercised in the name of the sovereign by a large body of officials, who were chosen ordinarily from the notables belonging to the race that had founded the empire. Subject peoples often kept their hereditary local leaders and preserved a certain autonomy. Sometimes they were wholly absorbed by the conquering people and blended with it. In such cases local officials were appointed and dismissed by the king directly, or rather by the court and in the court. It has been possible to establish that during the immensely long life of the Egyptian nationality the two systems replaced each other several times, according as the empire would grow stronger and more centralized for a time, or weaker and more centrifugal. The ruling class was usually made up of generals and priests, but both in Egypt and in Chaldea the priests were the repositories of all the learning of their day. They alone knew the laws, and the administration of the law devolved upon them. There were even cases where the high priests managed to replace secular powers and exercised royal authority. So in upper Egypt, in the ninth century B.C., the high priests of Amen exercised what today would be called temporal power.

As for the system of recruiting civil and military officials, it has been possible to determine that methods varied widely, especially in ancient Egypt during the three thousand years, more or less, of its history. As we have seen (chap. II, §§6, 8), there were periods when exact knowledge of hieroglyphic writing was the key that opcned the doors to higher offices, whether civil or military, and there were cases where commoners attained high rank. But as a rule, even if there were no really closed

{p. 344} castes in Egypt, the social hierarchy did have great stability, and a man was the child of his father rather than of his own works. In Babylonia, slaves were numerous, and almost all Egyptian documents and monuments testify to the luxury that the upper class displayed both in this life and in the next, while an intense and often forced manual labor was the normal lot of the lowly placed.

Greek writers incidentally throw a good deal of light on the social and political conditions that prevailed in the Persian empire, the last great government to flourish in the Near East before the Christian era. Greece had frequent contacts with it. It appears that birth had great importance in the constitution of the political hierarchy. Herodotus relates that the false Smerdis was able to become king by making people believe that he was the son of Cyrus. After he was murdered, seven Persian noblemen occupied the throne in turn. According to Xenophon, when the younger Cyrus died at Cunaxa, the Greek mercenaries offered the crown to Ariaeus, commander of the Persian troops that had fought with Cyrus. Ariaeus refused, on the ground that he was not noble enough, that the Persian grandees would never accept him as king. The Greeks also preserve the fact that the Persian empire was at bottom a more or less voluntary confederation of peoples of differing and more or less ancient civilizations, under the hegemony of Persia. Some peoples, such as the Armenians, the Cilicians and the citizens of Tyre, kept their autonomy and their national sovereigns. Others, such as the Lydians and the Babylonians, were governed by satraps, who were chosen from among great nobles at the Persian court of Susa. Over them the court kept strict surveillance. Almost all the subject nations paid annual tribute to the court of Susa, according to their wealth, and they furnished auxiliary troops as required. In the full midst of subject provinces, certain mountaineer populations maintained a savage de facto independence. That was the case with the Karduchians, who correspond, roughly, to the Kurds of today.

In the Middle Ages, the Mohammedan state was founded largely on the pattern of the Near Eastern state. No doubt it borrowed some few details of its administrative and political

{p. 345} system from Byzantium, but to a much greater extent it followed the examples and traditions of the neo-Persian empire of the Sassanids. Persian influence became preponderant especially under the Abbassid caliphs. The very title of the prime minister, "vizier," was of Persian origin. However, in spite of the stiff religious cement that was the strength of its dominant class, in spite of the fact also that at certain periods it developed a high level of culture, the Mohammedan state had innate weaknesses that inevitably produced a more or less rapid disintegration of the great political organisms which the overpowering impetuousness of the early Islamic generations had created. Almost all social and political relations in the Mussulman world were regulated by a religious code, in other words by the Koran. This, in the long run, arrested Mohammedan development. But, ignoring that, one of the most frequent causes for the rapid breaking up of the Mussulman states was the practice of allowing governors of separate provinces to conscript troops, and to collect directly the taxes that paid for them. Such a concentration of power in their hands made it easy for them to create personal followings in their armies, so that they could proclaim their independence, or at least become independent in fact, though paying a nominal deference to the caliph. This defect was noted by Averroes, one of the strongest intellects that Mohammedan civilization produced in its best days.

China, too, down to a few years ago, was organized politically along the lines of the Near Eastern state, but over the course of long centuries she brought the type to a level of perfection that it attained nowhere else. This was due to the fact that Chinese civilization was based on a nonreligious, positive morality, to the great unity of culture that the Chinese peoples achieved over many centuries of common history and, finally, to the democratic system of recruiting officials, who were appointed and promoted by competitive examination. In spite of these good points, the strength of the Chinese state was almost never proportionate to its size, and the inferiority of its political machine became promptly manifest once it came into contact with modern European states. In order to conserve her independence and her ancient national spirit, apan was obliged rapidly

{p. 346} to overhaul her political, administrative and military organization and conform to the models that the countries of European civilization supplied.

The organization of empires of the Near Eastern type has always proved inferior to the organization of modern states of European civilization. It was inferior to the organization of the ancient Roman Empire and, in many respects, even to the organization of the little Hellenic states of the classical period. However, the vicissitudes of the ancient empires of the Near East are gradually coming to light, as the old hieroglyphic and cuneiform inscriptions are deciphered. It would be unfair to forget that through them mankind was able to accumulate the first stores of experience and wealth that were required for making intellectual and economic progress possible. On the banks of the Tigris, the Euphrates and the Nile the groups of elders that had once ruled scattered tribes fused for the first time, and organized real ruling classes which had a chance to conceive and develop the idea that there were great interests that could be common to millions of human beings. In those classes, for the first time, a process of selection was able to operate whereby a certain number of individuals could be freed of the material cares of life. Sheltered by the organization of which they were a part from the greed and the violence of those who, in every age and in every society, are eager to get the best positions for themselves, such privileged individuals were enabled to devote their time to observing man and the world he lives in, and to elaborating the first rudiments of a morality for the family and for social groups. Those rudiments we find stated about four thousand years ago in the Code of Hammurabi, which already sanctions many of the rules that the individual has to observe if society is to endure. The ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead is in parts older than the Code of Hammurabi, some of its texts going back to the eleventh dynasty, and the most recent ones to the eighteenth (about 1400 B.C.). This collection of sacred precepts was placed in tombs, perhaps as a sacred gesture, perhaps so that the dead might have some guidance in the life to come. The texts formulate for the first time a number of moral precepts and rules of brotherly consideration that later were to become basic in the great universal religions - for example: "Feed the hungry," "Give the thirsty to drink," "Cheat not the worker of his wage,"

{p. 347} "Eschew falsehood," "Bear no false witness." In those empires, finally, the first trials were made in the difficult art of public administration. That art, in the last analysis, comes down to enabling a great society, with the least possible constraint, to see to it that the activity which each individual carries on spontaneously for his own advantage shall be useful to the grup as a whole.

If European civilization has been able to create a type of political organization that is profoundly different from that of the Near Eastern empire, the fact is due in very large part to the intellectual legacy left by Greece and Rome. There are of course wide differences between a great modern European or American state and the Athenian or Spartan state, or the Roman state during the republican period; but had it not been for the writings of political thinkers of the classical age, whose minds were formed by the political institutions they could see operating before their eyes, modern Europe, and the countries that were colonized by Europeans beyond the seas, would not have adopted the political systems that distinguish them so sharply from the Asiatic empires.

Greece borrowed many elements of her civilization from the nearest of the Asiatic empires and from Egypt. The first infiltrations must have taken place during a prehistoric period, when a pre-Hellenic civilization fiowered, with Crete as its center, and then vanished, leaving only vague memories of itself. But this civilization developed the rudiments of agricultural science and made other material advances. Such things may deteriorate, once they have made their way into the customs of a country, but they seem never wholly to disappear, even if the nation or civilization that first invented or adopted them is destroyed. Other infiltrations from Egypt and the Near East came in the period when a truly Hellenic culture was reawakening, in other words by the beginning of the ninth century B.C. At that time the Phoenicians were the main intermediaries between Greece, Egypt and the Near East. On this occasion the new seeds that were transplanted to the soil of Hellas bore somewhat different, and in many respects better, fruits than did the plant from which they came, especially in the respects of art, science and political organization.

{p. 410} The results which applications of the liberal principle yield vary according as the electorate, with which rests the choice of those who are to occupy the highest pub!ic offices, varies from narrowly exclusive to broadly inclusive.

In the former case, a large part of the ruling class, or of those who have the requisites for belonging to it, are kept out. This exclusion makes a liberal system look very much like masked autocratic rule by a narrowly limited class of people - at times by a few powerful or virtually omnipotent families. That

{p. 411} was the case in Poland in the decades just preceding the partition of that country. Furthermore, when the electorate is narrowly limited, almost all the voters are or may be regarded as eligible for office. In fact, almost all of them do become candidates. In other words they are offered for judgment but without there being a sufficient number of judges.

Something of the sort happens in elective chambers in countries with parliamentary governments. There the frequency of cabinet crises and the difficulty of forming new ministries depend, to an extent at least, on the fact that large numbers of deputies want to be ministers or undersecretaries of state. The candidates being too many, judges become too scarce, for judges should be men who share none of the interests that are at issue.

As a rule, therefore, in narrowly limited electorates, either a single clique forms, made up of those already in office and of their associates or partisans, or else there are two cliques, one of which is in power, while the other offers a spiteful and systematic opposition. The few who hold aloof from both cliques ordinarily are left isolated and are ignored. They can exert an effective influence only at critical moments, when a series of startling scandals or serious failures makes the fall of the clique that is in power probable or inevitable.

In the second case - in other words, in systems where everybody, or almost everybody, can vote - the chief task of the various party organiations into which the ruling class is divided is to win the votes of the more numerous classes, which are necessarily the poorest and most ignorant. These classes ordinarily live in submission to a government which often they do not care for, and the aims and workings of which more often still they do not understand. Their first, their natural, their most spontaneous desire is to be governed as little as possible, or to make as few sacrifices as possible for the state. Their second desire, which develops more especially with the exercise of suffrage, is to profit by government in order to better their economic situation, and to vent the repressed resentments and envies which often - not always - the man who is below feels for the man who is above, especially for the man who is his immediate superior.

{p. 418} It will be said that all that is a necessary product of private property, which makes wealth hereditary and smooths the road for those who inherit it to attain power and stay there. In that objection there is certainly a large element of truth - we do not say the whole truth, because the c ltural level and the famil connections of a parent can be passed on in part to'his children, even when the family has no patrimony proper. But few people realize today that in a collectivist state the drawback mentioned, for which private property is at present held responsible, will not disappear. It will simply present itself in a graver form. As we have already demonstrated (chap. XI, §) (and as is now happening in Russia), the governors of a state that is organized along collectivist lines will have far greater resources and means of action than have the rich and powerful of today. The rulers of a collectivist state pile economic power on politcal power and so, controlling the lots of all individuais and all families, have a thousand ways of distributing rewards punishments. It would be strange indeed if they did not take advantage of such a strategic position to give their children a start in life.

In order to abolish privileges of birth entirely, it would be necessary to go one step farther, to abolish the family, recognize a vagrant Venus and drop humanity to the level of the lowest animalism. It is interesting that in the Republic Plato proposed abolishing the family as an almost necessary consequence of the abolition of private property. He seems to have been inclined, however, to confine the two abolitions to his ruling class - the class of philosophers and warriors. He was not in favor of what would now be called "free love." He envisaged temporary unions, in which choice of the temporary mate was to be made by his philosophers. He further arranged that the children born of such unions should not know their parents, or be known by them, since the state should form one single family. A similar system is expounded and defended in Campanella's City of the Sun. Campanella also wanted to abolish private property and the family.

But we do not think that even provisions as radical as these would suffice to establish in the world an absolute justice that will never be realized, but which will always be appealed to by those who are trying to upset the system of social rankings that

{p. 419} prevails in a given country at a given time. The Catholic clergy have not been allowed to have legal children. But whenever they have come to wield great economic and political power, nepotism has arisen in the Church. And we may well imagine that if nephews as well as sons were to be suppressed the human being would still find among his fellow men some whom he would love and protect in preference to others.

It is not so certain, meantime, that it would be altogether beneficial to the collectivity to have every advantage of birth eliminated in the struggle for membership in the ruling class and for high position in the social hierarchy. If all individuals could participate in the scramble on an equal footing, struggle would be intensified to the point of frenzy. This would entail an enormous expenditure of energy for strictly personal ends, with no corresponding benefit to the social organism, at least in the majority of cases. On the other hand, it may very well be that certain intellectual and, especially, moral qualities, which are necessary to a ruling class if it is to maintain its prestige and function properly, are useful also to society, yet require, if they are to develop and exert their infiuence, that the same families should hold fairly high social positions for a number of generations.

6. In this twentieth century of ours, there are few people indeed who do not make public profession of an enthusiastic support of democracy. It might seem superfiuous, therefore, to linger very long on the evils and disadvantages of an excessive predominance of the aristocratic tendency or of stabilizing political power and social inuence in certain families. Yet just such stabilization is a common trait in civilizations that have disappeared, and in civilizations that have remained outside the sphere of present-day European progress. Social stabilization has been considerably weakened in the West but it is far from being a thing of the past. The aristocratic spirit is not entirely dead among us, and probably will never die. Now that tendency has its dangers and disadvantages.

When a people has long been ruled by a closed or semiclosed aristocracy, almost inevitably a group spirit, a sense of caste, arises and asserts itself, so that the members of the aristocracy

{p. 420} come to think of themmelves as infinitely superior to the rest of men. This pride often goes hand in hand with a certain frivolousness of spirit and an excessive attention to external forms. Those who are at the top are likely to feel that everything is automatically due to them, without their having any definite obligations toward those who do not belong to their caste. They look upon otsiders as in a way created to be blind instruments of their aims, passions and caprices. That state of mind comes easily to the human being. It is amazing, sometimes, to note how quickly people who have managed to climb to high position from humble origins come to consider themselves superior to the rest of mankind.

This manner of thinking and feeling develops spontaneously in individuals who are destined to occupy conspicuous positions from the day of their birth and who enjoy many privileges and receive much adulation from their earliest childhood. But it prevents them in general from understanding, and therefore from sympathizing with, the sorrows and tribulations of those who live on the lower rungs of the social ladder; and they are equally insensitive to the toils and efforts of those who have managed to climb a rung or two on the ladder by their own achievement. Exaggeration of the aristocratic spirit, moreover, brings people to avoid contacts with the lower strata of society. They are at no pains to make any close study of them, and are left in complete ignorance of real psychological conditions in the lower classes. Those conditions are sometimes portrayed to them in literature, especially in novels, as something very close to the primitive simplicity and goodness of man, and then again as something that takes directly after the brutes. Whatever their inner process, both exaggerations have the one result of depriving the ruling classes of any influence whatever on mental and sentimental developments in the masses, and so of unfitting the ruling classes for managing them.

Rarely in history do we find eamples of hereditary upper classes that have been conscious, as they should properly be, of their intellectual and moral superiorities, and yet have been spontaneously and equally conscious of the obligations toward the lower classes which those superiorities lay upon them. More rarely still among individuals belonging to hereditary ruling classes has there been any widespread distribution of the

{p. 421} sentiments of real brotherhood and oneness of man that have been the foundation and the glory of the great world religions, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam - sentiments, in other words which enable the man of high station to recognize and sincerely feel that the lowliest human being is also an integral part of the common humanity to which they both belong. This feeling, after all, is the one sound element that lies embedded in that great conglomerate of dreams and falsehoods which is going about today under the name of "democracy."

The most insidious enemy of all aristocracies of birth is, undoubtedly, idleness. Idleness generates softness and sensuality, stimulates frivolousness of mind and creates an aspiration to a life of pleasures unaccompanied by duties. When there is no daily pressure from an obligation to do a set task, and when the habit of work has not been formed in early years, it is hard to escape the traps of that deadly enemy. Yet aristocracies that cannot defend themselves adequately from idleness decline rapidly. They may succeed in retaining their ranks and offices nominally for some time, but when such functions are actually exercised by subalterns, the subalterns soon become the actual masters. It can only turn out that the man who acts, and knows how to act, will eventually succeed in commanding.

Exemption from physical labor, the assurance of being able to live and retain one's social position without a corresponding and compelling need of attending to an onerous daily occupation, may in certain cases yield results that are ecellent from the standpoint of the collective interest. The fact that a certain number of people have been in that position has been one of the main factors in the intellectual and moral progress of mankind. The Spanish critic Unamuno once wrote a witty and very learned eulogy on laziness. In it he tried to show that the world owes much to the loafer, for had there not been among our ancestors a certain number of people who did not have to work with their hands, and who had at their disposal all the time there was, neither science, nor art, nor morality would have come into being.

Unamuno's thesis is a daring one, and it contains a considerable amount of truth. But the question might be stated in a better form. In the case in point, what the uninitiate calls laziness -

{p. 422} and the uninitiate may belong to the upper classes as well as to the lower - is often very far from being any such thing. It may be the noblest form of human labor. It may be a form of labor that envisages no immediate utility to the individual who devotes himself to it, or even to any other specified individuals. It may simply seek to discover the laws that regulate the universe of which we are part, or to learn what the development of human thought and human institutions has been. It may have no other motive than a disinterested passion for widening to some extent the confines of the known at the expense of the unknown. It may have no other end in view than to clarify somewhat, within the limits of the possible, those grave and tormenting problems that try the souls and minds of men, and to endow men with the characteristic truths that lift them above the status of the animals. Now those impulses have expressed themselves most readily, and have had the best chance to develop, in people who have belonged to ruling classes - classes which have been so firmly established in their rule that some of their members could be exempted from the material cares of life and from the worries that go with defending one's social position from day to day. Under any other conditions these same impulses would not have asserted themselves at all. We are obliged to admit that science and social morality originated in aristocracies, and that even today they normaily find their most consistent practitioners in aristocracies.

It would be untrue and unfair to maintain that a disinterested passion for knowledge is not to be found in individuals belonging to the lower strata of society. Modern civilized nations are products of a very ancient culture, and their social classes have undergone so many upheavals and so many amalgamations that it is not surprising that most aristocratic instincts should sometimes appear in individuals of low status, who may have inherited them from remote ancestors. One of the happiest applications of the democratic tendency would lie in enabling such individuals to develop their superior qualities. That, however, is not an easy thing to do, and we do not believe that compulsory elementary education will alone be sufficient to accomplish it.

It might be objected that we owe great discoveries in the scientific field, and great pronouncements in morals, to men who

{p. 423} have been endowed with what is commonly called "genius" - men, that is, who have had exceptional capacities of mind or heart and exceptional strength of will - and that genius is rarely hereditary. This is true. But genius more often reveals itself in individuals who belong to peoples and classes that have shown high average levels of intelligence, and it is a fact of common observation that intellectual qualities which are above the average, though not necessarily extraordinary, are readily transmitted from parents to children. It is not far-fetched to imagine that in the beginning, the upper classes, on whatever basis they may have been constituted, attracted many of the more intelligent individuals into their membership, and that when such classes are not hermetically-sealed they are continuously replenished with intelligent elements deriving from the lower strata of society.

The selective process that goes on in the higher social classes, whereby their average intelligence becomes higher and stays higher than that of the lower classes, has been the subject of careful investigation by Ammon. That scholar soundly attaches great importance to the fact that marriages almost always take place between individuals of the same class, largely because of the aversion that women of the higher classes manifest for marrying men of a class, and therefore of an education, inferior to their own. In this matter we must be on our guard against a wrong appraisal into which we often fall because of the European custom of transmitting names from father to son. As a result of that custom the only visible ancestor is the one whoe name is transmitted. From the physiological standpoint, any number of other ancestors have no less right to be taken into account. An individual always has two parents, one male and one female. He has 2 ancestors in the first generation, 4 in the second, 8 in the third, and 1,024 in the tenth. The intellectual and moral type of a family of ancient lineage is to be ascribed, therefore, rather to sustained eugenic crossings than to some particular remote ancestor, who gave the present generation not more than, say, a thousand and twenty-fourth part of its blood. ...

{p. 426} The Venetian aristocracy might seem, at first glance, to offer an example to the contrary. That group managed to stay in power for centuries and yet was made up of merchants and bankers. However, Venetian noblemen often commanded the ships and fleets and sometimes, down to the second half of the seventeenth century, even the armies of the Serenissima. They lost touch completely with military life in the eighteenth century. Then, significantly, the republic was in full decline.

To look upon ruling classes as economically unproductive is to succumb to an absurd preconception. In maintaining order and keeping the social structure united they create the conditions under which productive labor can best be prosecuted, and ordinarily they supply production with its technical and administrative personnel. All the same, it is in point to ask, in this regard, whether a ruling class of recent origin contents itself, in the distribution of wealth, with a smaller share than suffices for a ruling class of ancient date, in which, therefore, the aristocratic tendency predominates. That is another way of asking whether democracy is more economical for a society than aristocracy.

Ruling classes, whether democratic or aristocratic, which keep in power by systematically favoring the interests of private individuals or small organized minorities at the expense of the public are always the most costly. There is little to choose between the tendencies in that regard. But otherwise the

{p. 427} question is hard to answer and the answer, moreover, varies widely according to the times and peoples that happen to be considered. In general, the great are more given to flaunting a blatant luxury in barbarous countries, or in countries that have recently grown rich, and something of the sort happens with individuals in ruling classes. It is a matter of common observation that those who most distinguish themselves by an insensate squandering of the fruits of human toil are the ones who have most recently attained the peaks of wealth and power. But that much granted, one must not overlook a consideration that is often overlooked - namely, that in the distribution of the economic production of a country among the various social classes, the class that rules politically has to be allowed a sufficient share to enable it to give its children a long, careful and therefore expensive education and to maintain a dignified standard of living. It must have a large enough share, in a word, to spare it from showing too great an attachment to petty earnings, to small savings and in general to those economies which sometimes lower a man in the eyes of his fellows more than any amount of bad conduct.

7. In his dialogue on the Laws Plato sets forth the thought of his maturer years, and it is significant that he there maintains that the best form of government is one in which autocracy and democracy are fused and balanced. As we have already seen, aristocracy and democracy were, for Plato, the two typical forms of government. In his Politics, Aristotle gives an objective description of his three fundamental forms of government, monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, and then goes on to show his preference for a modified aristocracy or, better still, for a modified democracy, in which not even the working classes, let alone slaves and metics, would be admitted to public office. Almost two centuries later, Polybius considered the political organization of Rome the best, because he thought that the three fundamental types of Aristotle found simultaneous application in it. About a century after Polybius, Cicero set forth a somewhat similar view in De Republica, and more than twelve centuries after Cicero, at a time when political science

{p. 428} was beginning to show signs of new life, St. Thomas also expressed a preference for mixed governments. Montesquieu freed himself of Aristotle's classification and divided governments into despotic, monarchical and republican. His preference lay with a modified monarchy, in which the three fundamental powers, the legislative, executive and judiciary, were entrusted to separate organs, all independent of one another. In that, evidently, Montesquieu was groping toward the concept of a necessary balance between the various political forces and influences. One might add that Cavour, too, declared that in politics he was a believer in the juste milieu, which would involve balance and mutual control between the many political forces or doctrines.

All these great thinkers or statesmen, then, would seem to have had one common feeling: that the soundness of political institutions depends upon an appropriate fusing and balancing of the differing but constant principles and tendencies which are at work in all political organisms. It would be premature in the present state of political science to attempt to formulate a law, but some such hypothesis as the following might be ventured: that violent political upheavals, such as occurred at the fall of the Roman Empire and are today occurring in Russia, entailing unutterable suffering for large portions of humanity and interrupting the progress of civilization for long years and perhaps centuries, arise primarily from the virtually absolute predominance of one of the two principles, or one of the two tendencies, that we have been studying; whereas the stability of states, the infrequency of such catastrophes, depends on a proper balancing of the two principles, the two tendencies.

This hypothesis could be corroborated by historical experiences in considerable numbers. But it rests primarily upon the assumption that only the opposition - one might almost say only the competition - of these contrary principles and

{p. 429} tendencies can prevent an overaceentuation of the vices that are congenital to each of them.

This conclusion would correspond very closely to the old doctrine of the golden mean, which judged mixed governments best. In fact, we would only be reviving that doctrine, though on the basis of the more exact and profound knowledge that our times have attained as to the natural laws that influence and control the political organization of society. To be sure, there would still be the difficulty of determining just where the golden mean lies, and that difficulty would be so great that each of us could feel quite free to locate it as best suits his passions and interests.

But one practical method has occurred to us for helping well-meaning persons, whose exclusive aim is the general welfare and prosperity quite apart from any personal interest, or any systematic preconception. It would be to watch for - so to say - atmospheric changes in the times and in the peoples who live about us.

When, for instance, a glacial calm prevails, when we can feel no breath of political discussion blowing, when everybody is raising hymns of praise to some great restorer of order and peace, then we may rest assured that the autocratic principle is prevailing too strongly over the liberal, and vice versa when everybody is cursing tyrants and championing liberty. So too, when the novelists and poets are vaunting the glories of great families and uttering imprecations upon the common herd we may safely consider that the aristocratic tendency is becoming too strong; and when a wild wind of social equality is howling and all men are voicing their tenderness for the interests of the humble, it is evident that the democratic tendency is strongly on the upgrade and approaching the danger point. To put the matter in two words, it is just a question of following a rule that is the opposite of the one that climbers have consciously or unconsciously followed at all times in all countries. If we do that, the little nucleus of sound minds and choice spirits that keep mankind from going to the dogs every other generation may on occasion be able to render a service to its contemporaries, and especially to the children of its contemporaries. For in political life, the mistakes of one generation are almost always paid for by the generation that follows. ...

{p. 439} Historical materialism may be summed up in two propositions, which constitute its fundamental axioms, or assumptions. On these rest the proofs of all the theorems deriving from it.

The first assumption is that the whole political, juridical and religious organization of a society is uniformly subordinated to the prevailing type of ecopnomic production ...

The second assumption ... maintains that every economic period has seeds which, slowly maturing, make the advent of the successive periods necessary ...

... in view

{p. 440} of a progressive concentration of wealth in a very few hands that is taking place, economic and social conditions are being prepared which make collectivism unavoidable and predestined. When this last phase of historical evolution has been reached, every inequality that is based upon social institutions will vanish forever, any control and exploitation visited by one class upon other classes will be rendered impossible, and a new system will be inaugurated, which will be based not on individual selfishness but on universal brotherhood.

These doctrines were already hinted at in the Communst Manifesto which was published by Marx and Engels in 1848. They were further elaborated in the preface to the Kritik der politischen Okonomie, which Marx issued in 1859. They form the skeleton, so to speak, of the first volume of Das Kapital, published in 1867, since they are either intermittently enunciated, or else taken for granted, throughout the course of that work. Some of Marx's fundamental ideas are not altogether original. They may be found set forth, with less orderliness and definiteness to be sure, in the publications of a number of earlier writers of more or less socialistic tendencies, and especially, in mixture with many mystico-transcendental notions, in the works of Pierre Leroux. Leroux wrote his Egalite in 1838, and his Humanite in 1840. He too looked upon communism and absolute equality as the inevitable conclusion of the whole historical evolution of mankind. He thought of the nineteenth century as representing a transitional period between a world of inequality, which was coming to an end, and a world of equality, which was about to dawn.

As regards the former of the two assumptions, it is to be observed first of all that many historical examples might be adduced to show that very important changes have occurred in human societies - changes that have radically altered political constitutions and sometimes the political formulas on which those constitutions were based - without any simultaneous or approximately simultaneous modifications in systems of economic production, and in the relations between labor and the owners of the instruments of production. The Roman Republic was transformed into the empire of Augustus and his successors - in our terms, the classical city-state became a political organism of the bureaucratic type - without the slightest change in systems of production and without any alteration in the laws regulating

{p. 441} the ownership and distribution of wealth. The only change that did take place, and it was certainly not a general one, was a change in the persons who owned the property. After the second civil war especially, a great deal of private property was confiscated and distributed among the soldiers of the triumvirs. The triumph of Christianity wrought a great intellectual and moral revolution in the ancient world. Many fundamental ideas, many sentiments and, in consequence, many institutions were changed by the new religion - one has only to think of matrimony and other family relationships. But it does not appear, indeed it may positively be denied, that any particular changes occurred in the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. in the relations between manual labor and those who possessed the tools of economic production - chief among them at that time was land.

It is hard to think of an upheaval of a whole society that is comparable in extent and significance to the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, to the collapse of the splendid civilization of antiquity over so large a part of Europe. One might possibly liken to it the catastrophe that has fallen upon Russia in our day. The Russian disaster will almost certainly have less abiding and less far-reaching effects, but the immediate effects have been more intense, since they developed in a very few years. One may regard as roughly accurate an epigrammatic statement made by Guglielmo Ferrero, that Russia completed in four years a task of social disintegration for which the ancient civilization of Europe required four centuries. Yet, as regards Rome, it is clear enough that the system of economic production remained identical before and after the barbarian invasions. Rural serfdom was not brought about by the barbarian invasions. It was already a generalized institution under the Low Empire. We might, indeed, mention the economic exhaustion of Roman society in that period as one of the factors in the fall of the western empire. That poverty was due to a falling off in production and, accordingly, in national wealth. But an attentive examination of the phenomenon shows that the general impoverishment was a consequence, rather than a cause, of the political decline, since a bad financial administration was largely responsible for it. During this period the Roman middle classes suffered virtual

{p. 447} The truth is that the great factors in human history are so complex and so intertwined that any single-track doctrine which tries to set up one among them as the principal one, "ever moving and never moved," necessarily leads to erroneous conclusions and false applications, especially when it undertakes to explain the whole past and present of humanity by following one method and looking at them from a single point of view. Worse still befalls when one sets out to predict the future in the same way.

As we have already suggested, the second of the assumptions on which historical materialism rests may be regarded as an implication of the first, and it therefore loses its significance when the first has been disposed of. Nevertheless, one might point out that to assert generically that every historical period contains the germs which will eventually fiower and transform it into the epoch immediately following is to state a truth so obvious that it may be regarded as a platitude. It is, at any rate, one of the commonplace assumptions of modern historical science. But the fact is, Marx insists that the only seeds that flower and produce are seeds of an economic nature. We believe, instead, that they are much more numerous and much more diversified. Marx's view of the historical phenomenon is so limited that it would in itself be sufficient to make one reject the thesis, which is one of the fundamentals in Marxist doctrine, that our present bourgeois period is ripening the seeds that will male the advent of collectivism inevitable - or, accord-

{p. 448} ing to some, has already ripened them. But quite apart from that consideration, it is now certain that the concentration of wealth and of the instruments of production in a very few hands, which should have preceded their collectivization and made it easy for the countless hordes in the proletarian phalanx to expropriate the handful of proprietors, had not taken place before the World War and had not even moved in the direction of doing so. If the war has recently impaired the situation of the middle classes everywhere to a greater or lesser extent, that has been due to other causes, which were in no sense foreseen by historical materialism. And again, if the organization of the bourgeois state has today been destroyed in a number of countries, and in others is hanging on only by a thread, that is happening not because of the concentration of wealth in a few hands, but for quite different reasons. To them we have already referred in the course of this book, and to them we shall again turn shortly.

The conclusion of the second assumption of historical materialism, and indeed of the doctrine as a whole, seems to us utterly fantastic - namely, that once collectivism is established, it will be the beginning of an era of universal equality and justice, during which the state will no longer be the organ of a class and the exploiter and the exploited will be no more. We shall not stop to refute that utopia once again. This whole work is a refutation of it. One should note, however, that that view is a natural and necessary consequence of the optimistic conception of human nature which originated in the eighteenth century and which has not yet completed, though it is coming pretty close to completing, its historical cycle. According to that idea, man is born good, and society, or, better, social institutions, make him bad. If, therefore, we change institutions, the seed of Adam will be, as it were, freed of a choking ring of iron, and be able to express all their natural goodness. Evidently, if one is going to reason in that fashion one will go on and reason that private property is the prime and sole cause of human selfishness. Aristotle argued much more soundly, in his day, that selfishness is the cause that makes private property inevitable. Combatting the communistic theories of Plato, the Stagirite declares that private property is indispensable if the individual is expected to produce and therefore provide for his

{p. 448} own needs and the needs of his family and city. The justification that St. Thomas offers for private property in the Summa is almost identical. We do not believe there could be a better one, as long as the human being loves himself and his own family more than he loves strangers.

{In fairness to Marx, he does not requre that domestic possessions such as house and garden by collectivized; only that the major parts of the economy be publicly owned and managed. The Communism that developed in Eastern Europe after World War II allowed peasant farmers to retain their farms, and allowed for small businesses employing up to 50 workers. Heavy industry was collectivized. The Australian economy of the 1950s & 60s had many similarities}

Beginning with Morelly, Mably and Babeuf, and coming down to Louis Blanc, Proudhon and Lassalle, most writers who have tried to sketch a complete plan for human regeneration have included in their programs, now a partial and gradual, now a complete and immediate, inauguration of communism and abolition of private property. These results were regarded, of course, as desirable results, which were to be achieved by the majority will because they were desirable. Following, roughly, some hints of Pierre Leroux, Marx simplifies all that. He dispenses with the individual will and has the desired results achieved by the fatal course of history. Without any doubt at all his method has its advantages. If a reform is inevitable, there is not much that one can do about it. It cannot be criticized and demolished, the way one can criticize and demolish a fundamental reform that rests upon the authority, or the desire, of a mere individual. Not only that. Among all the arguments in favor of a doctrine, the most convincing will always be the one that represents its triumph as inevitable in a more or less immediate future.

4. Another notion that has troubled the minds of people who have pondered political problems since the day when Plato wrote his dialogues is that "the best people" ought to be the ones to govern a country. The consequence of that aspiration has been, and perhaps still is, that good souls go looking for a political system that will make the concept a reality, or at least point the way to doing so. During the last decades of the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth and, indeed, for a decade or two longer, that yearning has been intensified because it has found nourishment in the optimistic conception of human nature to which we have so often alluded. That opinion made it easy to imagine that if one could change institutions all the less noble instincts that ravage our poor humanity would automatically be suppressed or become atrophied.

{p. 449} In order to determine just how much truth and error there may be in that outlook, we ought first to decide just what sort of people deserve to be called "the best."

Evidently, in ordinary language, the word "best," as the superlative of the adjective "good," should serve to designate persons who are distinguished from the average of men by exceptional "goodness." The "best" on that basis would be the most altruistic people, those who are most inclined to sacrifice themselves for others rather than to sacrifice others to themselves, those who in life give much and receive little, those who are - to use a phrase of Dora Melegari - faiseurs de joie rather than faiseurs de peines. They would be people in whom the instinct to surmount or remove any obstacle to the satisfaction of their passions or interests is better restrained and controlled than it is in the average run of men.

But surely it must have become apparent by this day and age that "goodness," taken in such a literal sense, is a quality that is of great service to others but of very little service, as a rule, to those who possess it. At best, it does fairly little harm to people who are born to a social position, or who by chance achieve a social position, that is so high as to cure all temptation in any one who might be inclined to take advantage of them. But even in such a case, the individual to whom the adjective "good" might legitimately be applied must be able to renounce the prospect of rising as high in the social scale as he might be entitled to rise in view of his other qualities. For to rise in the social scale, even in calm and normal times, the prime requisite, beyond any question, is a capacity for hard work; but the requisite next in importance is ambition, a firm resolve to get on in the world, to outstrip one's fellows. Now those traits hardly go with extreme sensitiveness or, to be quite frank, with "goodness" either. For "goodness" cannot remain indifferent to the hurts of those who must be thrust behind if one is to step ahead of them; and when goodness is deep and sincere, one is loath to appraise the merits, rights, and feelings of others at an infinitely less value than one's own.

It may seem strange at first glance that, in general, people should insist that their rulers have the loftiest and most delicate moral qualities and think much of the public interest and little of their own, but that when they themselves are in question.

{p. 458} To be sure there are thinkers who declare that states, like individuals, are fatedly condemned to disappear some day or other. So far, no sound proof has ever been given of any such necessity, and, for our part, we do not believe in it. Quite to the contrary, we judge that peoples are able to renew their composition by procreation, a thing that individuals cannot do, and that therefore they may look forward to a literal immortality.

It would not be difficult to mention cases of peoples that have disappeared without leaving any descent. The aborigines of Tasmania vanished in that way. The aborigines of Australia are fast disappearing. Few descendants of the Guanches of the Canary Islands still survive. Many native tribes in the Americas are extinct and others are dwindling in population. But those peoples were, or are, small groups, living by hunting and fishing. Colonization by the whites deprives them of their means of sustenance, and on coming into contact with the whites

{p. 459} they are too backward in civilization to adapt themselves at once to agricultural livelihoods, or adopt the white man's methods of production. In Mexico and Peru the native populations were practicing agriculture at the time the Europeans arrived. They were much more numerous, therefore, and they were not exterminated. In the United States, too, it seems, Indian tribes that have been able to turn to agriculture show no tendencies toward dying out.

Very different is the situation with peoples that have long since reached the agricultural stage, have organized into orderly, powerful and thickly populated nations and created or developed civilizations. In such cases, anything that could be called physical death - the elimination of a race through lack of descent - has perhaps never occurred. Once a people has reached that stage of culture, it may lose its original physiognomy, it may be absorbed by other peoples, by other civilizations, it may change its religion and sometimes its language - it may, in a word, undergo a comprehensive intellectual and moral metamorphosis; yet it continues to survive physically. Against this thesis one might urge the example of the Britons, who had long been practicing agriculture at the time when their country was invaded and occupied in large part by the Angles and Saxons. But in the first place, a primitive Celtic lineage still survives in the north of Scotland, in Wales and also in French Brittany, whither some of the Britons emigrated under Saxon pressure. In the second place, if the Celts lost their language over the major part of Great Britain, they were by no means exterminated. They were simply absorbed by the invaders of Germanic race. Studies of such problems often yield vague or uncertain results, but it really seems as though the population in the western counties of England, and in a large part of Scotland, had remained basically Celtic.

History is full of such transformations and survivals. The descendants of the ancient Gauls and the ancient Iberians survived underneath the crust of Latin civilization that came to give them a new outward shape. The descendants of the ancient peoples of Mesopotamia and Syria survived, even though they adopted the language and religion of the Arabs, who conquered them in the seventh century. That was the case too in Egypt, where the modern and so-called Arab population still retains,

{p. 460} in the mass, the physical traits of its real ancestors, who created the civilization of the Pharaohs and preserved it for forty-odd centuries. Modern Italians are still, in the main, descendants of the ancient Italic peoples, and in the veins of the modern Greeks, however much their blood may be mixed with other bloods, the blood of the Hellenes who knew Pericles and Aristotle still flows, and so does the blood of the Byzantines of the ninth and tenth centuries.

But suppose we ignore that type of survival, and also the case where a people is assimilated by a domination of foreign origin that brings in a higher culture - the case of the Gauls, the Iberians, and the many other more or less barbarous peoples whom the genius of ancient Rome successfully welded into a single state. Then, evidently, there is still a sense in which a people that has been able to create a civilization of its own and maintain it through long centuries can be said to have died. And the death may be attributed more especially to two causes, which undermine and corrode the inner mechanism of the nation and bring it to such a pass that the least shock from outside is enough to kill it.

These two causes seem almost inevitably to go together. Nations die when their ruling classes are incapable of reorganizing in such a way as to meet the needs of changing times by drawing from the lower and deeper strata of society new elements that serve to give them new blood and new life. Then again, as we have already seen (chap. XIV, §3), nations are also marked for death when they suffer a dwindling of those moral forces which hold them together and make it possible for a considerable mass of individual efforts to be concentrated, disciplined and directed toward purposes related to the collective interest. In a word, old age, the forerunner of death, comes upon political organisms when the ideas and sentiments which make them capable of the collective effort that is required, if they are to maintain their group personality, lose inflence and prestige without being replaced by others.

An instinctive fear of that eventuality explains the blind attachment to tradition, to ancestral customs and examples, that lay at the bottom of the religions and the political psychologies of all the great nations of antiquity, beginning with the old civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt and coming down to Rome. The same attachment was very strong, down to a few generations

{p. 461} ago, in Japan and China; and in spite of appearances to the contrary, it is far from being unknown to modern nations of European civilization, especially to the peoples of Anglo-Saxon stock. The national soul seems instinctively to feel that if it is not to die it must hold faithful to certain principles, certain fundamental and characteristic ideas, which impregnate all the atoms that unite to form its organic being. It seems to feel that only on that condition can it conserve its personality, maintain its social structure intact and keep each stone in its composition from losing the cement that binds it to the others. That instinct underlies the ancient Christian persecutions, and the old religious wars. For the historical events that have helped most to modify the complexes of sentiments and beliefs that were peculiar to the old nations were the rise and spread of the great world religions, which seek to embrace all humanity and blend it in a universal brotherhood, yet impress upon their believers a special intellectual and moral stamp. In fact, there are three special types of civilization that correspond to the three great world religions, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, an excessive and exclusive cult of the past is likely to result in fossilization, and for a nation to be allowed to remain stationary with impunity, all other nations have to be equally fossilized. China and Japan tried to relax into immobility during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and part of the nineteenth. In order to keep inflences from Europe out of China the emperor Yung Cheng, who reigned between 1723 and 1735, drove out the missionaries. Japan had preceded him on that road. As early as 1639 an edict of the shogun Yemitsu prohibited commerce with foreigners with very few exceptions and made it subject to very severe penalties. Neither nation succeeded entirely even at home, but in any event they both underwent brusque awakenings from outside. China had to begin opening her doors after the so-called Opium War with England, which broke out in 1839. Japan did the same when Commodore Perry, with his American squadron, appeared off her shores in 1853.

Complete immobility in a human society is an artificial thing, whereas continuous change in ideas, sentiments and customs,

{p. 462} which cannot help having its repercussions upon political organization, is natural.

{p. 478} But what at first sight is not so easy to understand is that during the nineteenth century, and into the twentieth, the European bourgeoisie should have offered such feeble and spasmodic resistance to the spread of socialist doctrines, and to the organization of the political forces that have embraced those doctrines. That has come about for a number of reasons. In the first place, there has been a widespread deference to the liberal principle that the good sense of the public can be depended upon to distinguish between truth and error and to discover what is realizable and what is not realizable in the real world. Then again a vague sense of optimism prevailed, with few interruptions, all through the western world down to the very end of the nineteenth century. Confidence in the reasonableness and goodness of the human being, and in the ability of the schoolmaster eventually to educate the masses, remained unshaken. It was the common belief that the world was moving toward an era of universal concord and happiness. The bourgeois mid itself was

{p. 479} until very recently imbued with many of the principles that form the intellectual substructure of socialism. Slave to its own preconceptions, therefore, the European bourgeoisie has fought socialism all along with its right hand tied and its left hand far from free. Instead of fighting socialism openly, many countries in Europe came to terms with the movement, accepting compromises that were sometimes, nay almost always, undignified and harmful.

The consequences of that weakness have been aggravated by a number of other circumstances. Of all the various versions of the socialist gospel, the version that has been canonized and universally adopted has been the one that promises the certain triumph of the doctrine and meantime deliberately fans feelings of class hatred. Those are the feelings that are best calculated to undermine the structure of a nation or civilization and destroy it. As we have seen (chap. XI, §7), a pernicious and effective propaganda of destructive hate between the social classes is developed in the pages of Marx's Kapital. It is also certain that to promote that hatred was one of the purposes that Marx set himself in his writings. The correspondence between Marx and Lassalle is replete with sentences of which the following is typical: "The thing to do now is instill poison wherever possible (Gift inltrieren wo immer ist nun ratsam)." If it be argued that perhaps one in a thousand of all the many socialists have read and comprehended Marx's works, one can answer that from Marx's new gospel a brief catechism has been carefully extracted which anyone can easily commit to memory. Today there is hardly a factory worker who does not believe, or at least has not been told over and over again, that the wealth of his employer, or of the shareholders who have supplied capital for his factory, has been amassed by depriving workingmen of some of the wages that were due them, and in not a few countries there is hardly a farmhand to whom the same good tidings have not been brought.

One of the commonest sophisms of socialist propaganda is that class hatred is not produced by socialist doctrines, but is a natural consequence of the inequalities and injustices that prevail in society. The answer is that social inequalities and injustices have always existed, whereas class hatreds have been intermittent

{p. 480} in the past, or at least have never been as strong as they are today as a result of socialist propaganda.

{Marx and the Trotskyists have also promoted Free Trade, to widen class divisions and thereby precipitate revolution: classwar.html}

Socialism and the more extreme wings of socialism are dangerous largely because of the state of mind that they create and maintain in the masses, and because of their actual organizations, which are more or less strong according to the country.

But another and perhaps a graver danger confronts our modern society. It lies not in a mental state that can be modified but in the very nature of the economic organization which modern society has adopted. Not only that. Modern society cannot abandon that organization without abandoning the larger share of its prosperity, and without ceasing to satisfy many needs that have only recently come to be felt as needs but which are already to be classed among the indispensables.

Division of labor and specialization in production have been carried to extreme lengths in western societies. Without railroads, steamships, postal systems, telephones and telegraphs, supplies of fuel and other raw materials, not one of our great cities could live for more than a month; and within a few months the greatest of our nations would find itself unable to feed more than a small percentage of its population. Never before has the material life of each single individual been so directly dependent upon the perfect functioning of the whole social mechanism as it is today. Now the functioning of each part in the mechanism is entrusted to a particular group of persons and the normal life of society as a whole comes, therefore, to depend upon the good will of each of its groups.

This state of affairs is becoming very hard to change, and of it has come the syndicalist peril - the danger, that is, that a small group may impose its will upon the rest of society. Today it would not be strictly necessary to conform to the letter of the apologue of Menenius Agrippa - it would not be necessary for all the members to combine against the stomach or, better, against the directing brain. If any single member, any single essential organ, should stop doing its duty, the brain and all the nervous centers that depend on it would be paralyzed.

Every group of persons that is engaged in a special function has a certain homogeneousness of spirit, education and, especially, interests. It is only natural, therefore, that it should try to organize in a trade or professional union, or syndicate, under

{p. 481} leaders of its own, and that once the unions are organized they should immediately perceive their power and the profit they can derive from exercising it. What is commonly called "syndicalism" has become, therefore, a graver danger for the modern state than feudalism ever was for the medieval state. During the Middle Ages, society, and therefore the state, was very primitively organized. Each fraction of society was all but sufficient unto itself. It had at its disposal all the organs that it needed for subsisting. The opposition of the part against the whole arose along local lines. A powerful baron, or a great city, or a league of barons and cities, could now and again dictate to the emperor or the king. Today the opposition of the part to the whole has a functional basis. A powerful labor union or, a fortiori, a league of labor unions can impose its will upon the state.

In order to obviate this danger, it is necessary to prevent, at all costs, the rise of new sovereignties intermediate between the individual and the state. That was what happened in the Middle Ages, when the vassal gave his direct obedience to the baron and not to the king. In other words, it is absolutely indispensable tat the heads of our present governments should at all times receive greater obedience from the members of the unions than the heads of the unions themselves receive. Devotion to the national interests must always be stronger than devotion to class interests. Unfortunately, one of the major weaknesses of present-day European society - another of the seeds of dissolution in the modern representative system - lies in a relaxation of those forces of moral cohesion which alone are capable of uniting in a consensus of sentiments and ideas all the atoms that make up a people, and which, therefore, constitute the cement without which any political edifice totters and collapses.

The fundamental doctrine of the old religion aimed at uniting all the citizens of a given nation, and all Christian nations, in brotherhood with each other. But especially during the last two centuries religion has lost much of its prestige and practical efficacy. There are a number of causes for that. Outstanding among them, particularly in the Latin countries, has been the irreligion of the ruling classes, who are now perceiving, too late, that the emancipation of the lower classes from what were too lightly called "outmoded superstitions" has thrust them into the clutches of a gross and crass materialism and opened the road to

{p. 482} far worse superstitions. It was thought that once the religious bond had been weakened it could be replaced by faith in the three great principles of the century, liberty, equality, fraternity; and that the application of those principles would inaugurate a new era of peace and universal justice in the world. But socialist propaganda had no difflculty in demonstrating that this liberal faith had no foundation in fact, that democracy, however generous, did not prevent power from remaining in the hands of the bourgeoisie, which, according to socialist doctrines, will always be separated from the humbler classes in society by an incurable conflict of interests.

Patriotism, therefore, has been left as the chief factor of moral and intellectual cohesion within the various countries of Europe. Patriotism, too, has generally been combated by socialism as an invention that the ruling classes have devised to prevent the union of the proletarians of all the world against the bourgeoisie of all the world which had been foretold by Marx. But having deeper roots than religion in the souls of the modern nations today, patriotism has offered sturdier resistance to the attacks of its adversaries. Patriotism is grounded in the sense of common interests that binds together people who live in the same country, and in the oneness of sentiments and ideas that almost inevitably arises among people who speak the same language, have the same background, share common glories and meet the same fortunes and misfortunes. It satisfies, finally, a yearning of the human soul to love the group to which it belongs above all other groups.

It would be hazardous, and perhaps inconsistent with the facts, to assert that the middle classes in Europe have had any clear or definite awareness of the great moral obstacle that patriotism offers to the progress of socialism. But it is certain, nevertheless, that, beginning with the early years of the twentieth century, a powerful awakening of patriotic feeling was observable in the educated youth of almost all the European countries. Unfortunately, love of country, and a natural desire that one's country should make its influence more and more felt in the world, often goes hand in hand with diffidence toward other countries and sometimes with hatred of them. The overexcitation of these patriotic sentiments undoubtedly helped to create the moral and intellectual atmosphere that brought on the World War.

{p. 483} 5. The grave and far-reaching consequences of the World War, during which each of the contending nations strained its capacities to the utmost, are now too familiar to need minute description. At the end of 1918 all the belligerent states were burdened with enormous public debts. Most of the money represented by the debts had been applied to purposes of war and were therefore unproductive from an economic standpoint. Much wealth had gone abroad to neutral countries, or to nations that had entered the conflict very tardily. In the countries that had borne the major weight of the war private capital also had shrunk considerably. It was therefore inevitable that the period of prosperity that had preceded 1914 should be succeeded by a period of relative poverty, which in less wealthy countries, and especially in the defeated and therefore worse-treated countries, reached the point of acute misery.

The economic disaster was reinforced by the moral disaster that resulted from the changed distribution of what little wealth was still left. In the belligerent nations, and to a considerable though lesser extent in neutral countries, while large proportions of the population were markedly impoverished, a certain minority found opportunities to make unexpected and handsome gains in the war. Now nothing is more demoralizing to people than to see sudden wealth acquired through no special merit, side by side with sudden impoverishment that is not due to any fault. That spectacle offends the sense of justice and overstimulates sentiments of envy and greed. Many individuals who had lived honest, respectable lives down to the great cataclysm turned to a dishonest scrambling for wealth, since they were resolved to be counted among the newly rich at any cost, rather than to suffer the hardships of the newly poor.

But what helped most of all to shake the stability of the political organization of Europe, and to disturb the equilibrium between social classes, was the impoverishment of the middle class of that portion of the bourgeoisie that lives on small savings, on moderate holdings of real estate and, especially, by its intellectual labors. We have already seen (chap. XIV, §6) that the rise of such a class was one of the factors in the creation of the conditions that are required for the proper functioning of the representative

{p. 484} system. It is only natural, therefore, that the economic decline of that class should make it difflcult for the representative system to go on functioning, and if the decline continues, an intellectual and moral decline will necessarily ensue.

In all countries that played sustained roles in the World War, the state machine was called upon to undertake such hard work and so much of it, it was called upon to repress or to crush so many private passions, sentiments and interests, that it is not to be wondered at that its gearings should at certain moments have shown signs of deteriorating and of failing to function. At the point where the state machine was weakest, in Russia, that is, the wear and tear was so great that the machine flew to pieces outright; but it is evident that it needs more or less rest and repairing in all countries.

In almost all countries, these causes, and other secondary ones, have made it more or less difflcult for the prewar political system to go on functioning. Especially in countries that were more distressed than others by the common misfortunes the idea has arisen that the present crisis can be solved, and ought to be solved, by some profound and radical change in the institutions that have been inherited from the last century, and that it is and should be the duty of the new generation, of the young men who fought the war, to effect that transformation by dismantling the political structures reared by their fathers, and building them over according to new and better patterns.

Now, if one examines the present economic, intellectual and moral situation in European society and takes into account the various currents of ideas, sentiments and interests that are stirring within it, one finds but three possible solutions of a radical nature for the present political crisis. One of them has already been resorted to in Russia - the "dictatorship of the proletariat," so-called, with its corresponding experiment in communism. The second would be a return to old-fashioned bureaucratic absolutism. The third would be syndicalism, in other words, a replacement of individual representation by class representation in leislative assemblies.

In view of the Russian experiment the results of the dictatorship of the proletariat are now sufflciently familiar, and they are such that many fervent and long-standing admirers of Marx are

{p. 485} today more or less openly opposed to any immediate realization of the master's program.

The disagreement between Marxists who favor an immediate and violent realization of the program commonly attributed to their master, and Marxists who favor a slow and gradual application of it, has of late become sharply marked. Those who belong to the more violent faction have taken the name of "communists." The others have kept the old name - "socialists." A more scientific criterion for distinguishing the terms "socialism" and "communism" would be to call socialism a system under which the community pays each worker according to the value or efficiency of the work he does. Under communism, each worker would receive an income according to his needs. This criterion is the one that Lenin himself adopted. He asserted that in a first phase his system would be socialistic, whereas communism would be attained in a second phase, when society should have become completely free of any remnants of bourgeois morality - or, rather, immorality. The men who are today governing the former empire of the czars are themselves trying to moderate the realization of the Marxian program.

It is inevitable that a new bourgeoisie should eventually emerge in Russia from the ranks of the very men who carried the revolution through, and that private property should be reestablished in substance if not in form. Nevertheless it proved impossible, during the first period of the revolution, to avoid an attempt to establish pure communism in that country. That attempt, as is well known, brought on a rapid and complete disorganizatio of every sort of production, and want and famine came in its wake. Nor can we believe that if communism were to triumph in other parts of Europe it would be possible to avoid a similar experiment, which would inevitably yield the same results, and perhaps worse ones. Less fortunate than Russia, western Europe is overpopulated and in continual need, even in normal times, of certain raw materials that are indispensable to daily living, and these can be supplied only by America or other parts of the world.

These results are of an economic nature. As for moral results, the dictatorship of the proletariat, in whatever country, would

{p. 486} have consequences far more disastrous. In Russia, in the name of that dictatorship, the old ruling class has been all but exterminated and replaced by another that is certainly shrewder and more energetic, and perhaps even more intelligent. Morally, alas, it can only be regarded as inferior. In order to hold its own in the face of the general discontent, in order to deal with the desperation of all who are not members of it, and to make up for others of its deficiencies, the new Russian ruling class has had to govern tyrannically, override all scruples and enforce obedience by sheer terror. One can say more than that. In Russia, for better or for worse, it has been possible to find another ruling class to supersede the old. In western Europe that would be virtually impossible. Communism would immediately resolve, or, better, dissolve, into complete anarchy. In Russia, the old bourgeoisie has been replaced after a fashion by the Jewish petty bourgeoisie and by other more or less allogeneous elements such as Letts, Armenians and Mohammedan Tatars {i.e. minorities combining against the majority}. The individuals composing each of those elements have long been bound to each other by comradeships of race, language and religion, and by the petty persecutions and disabilities which they suffered in common under the government of the czars. The present rulers of Russia can therefore count on their loyalty. Such minorities, however - minorities differing in race and religion from the rest of the population - hardly exist in western Europe, and such as there are are so situated that they would greatly fear the advent of communism. The new ruling class, therefore, would have to be recruited from the more violent elements in the plebs and the less reputable portions of the old bourgeoisie. These people would be incompetent on the intellectual side and they would almost certainly be lacking in that minimum of morality that has to regulate relations between people who are committing a great villainy in common, if their villainy is to achieve any abiding success.

An experiment in so-called "moderate socialism," which would allow private property to exist provisorily and nominally but would subject it to such burdens and limitations as to deprive it of significance, would have even less chance of lasting in western Europe than a downright and thoroughgoing dictatorship of the proletariat. Such a system would always be open to violent

{p. 487} attack by the regular communists, without having the prestige and strength to suppress them, and it would not have at its disposal the margin of wealth that would be indispensable to cover the wastage inevitably incident to any attempt to apply a moderate form of socialism. Because of its failures and the disappointments it would occasion, it would either degenerate rapidly into pure communism, or merely lead to a development of the present political and economic system into a bureaucratic and military dictatorship.

Such a development would correspond to the second of the solutions of the present crisis in the representative system that we mentioned above. It might for the moment have its advantages for one or another of the European countries, though it would itself present very serious drawbacks if it were to be adopted as a permanent solution. Down to 1914, elective elements played an important and effective part in the exercise of sovereign power in all countries that are governed according to one or another of the representative systems. Under the solution in question such elements would vanish from public life, or be reduced to fulfilling secondary or merely decorative functions, leaving the civil and military bureaucracy with a de facto authority that would be virtually unbalanced and uncontrolled.

The bureaucratic system here in question would not be like any of the various forms of representative government. It would resemble neither the parliamentary form, which prevails in England and France, nor the presidential form, which is functioning in the United States, nor the strictly constitutional form which existed in Germany prior to 1918. It would be a sort of "Caesarism" such as prevailed in France during the First Empire, and, in more moderate form, during the Second Empire down to 1868. Under those forms of government parliament had purely decorative functions. This new Caesarism, furthermore, might even try to find a legal basis for itself in a popular referendum, or plebiscite, as the two Napoleonic Caesarisms did.

As we have seen, the participation of the elective element is very important in the modern state, and the great superiority and the main strength of modern political systems lie in the ingenious balancing that they admit of between the liberal principle and the autocratic principle, the former represented by pDrliaments and local councils, the latter by permanent bureaucracies.

{p. 492} To restore the representative system by no means implies that that system should not be modified or changed in one respect or another, especially in certain countries. In our opinion, one of the most important changes would concern legislation on the press. Ways can surely be found to maintain freedom for scientific investigation and for honest criticism of acts of government, and at the same time to place restraints on the corruption of minds that are, and will forever remain, minds of children. That corruption has so far been freely practiced in our European countries. A first step in that direction would be to adopt the principle that responsibility for offenses of the press, like responsibility for any other crime, should rest with those who actually commit them, in other words, with the writers. A number of European countries have a legal monstrosity that permits a man who writes in a newspaper or periodical to evade penal responsibility for what he writes as long as he is willing to remain anonymous or unknown. In such cases the penalty goes to the publisher's agent, who is known in technical language as the "responsible manager." In honest criticism of acts of government we mean to include criticism that is based on fundamental differences in political ideas and principles, provided it does not stoop to defaming insult, to deliberate and brazen falsehood and to slander.

Another difficulty which requires urgent attention in several, if not all, countries of Europe, arises in connection with freedom of assembly and association. Present laws are so vague and indefinite that they permit a strong authoritarian governmnt to suppress any sort of association by police force. At the same time they do not offer a weak and timid government any effective legal defense against the organization of elements that are opposed to the existing order and aim to suppress the state itself by violent seizure of its organs.

We have not mentioned limitation of suffrage among the resorts that might be best calculated to ensure the duration of the representative system. We regard the granting of universal suffrage as a mistake and mistakes are not more frequent in public life than they are in private life. At the same time one could not go back on it without committing a second mistake which might have unforeseeable consequences of a very serious nature.

{p. 493} Brief periods of strong government, where the state exercises many powers and great authority, may prove of actual benefit in some European countries, as helping to restore or provide conditions that will enable the representative system to function normally in a near future. In Rome, in the best days of the republic, brief periods of dictatorship were not infrequent.

But if the present crisis that is threatening our political systems and the social structure itself is to be surmounted, the ruling class must rid itself of many of its prejudices and change its psychological attitude. It must become aware that it is a ruling class, and so gain a clear conception of its rights and its duties. It will never be able to do that unless it can raise the level of its political competence and understanding, which have so far been woefully defective in the most highly civilized countries in Europe, and in some countries altogether lacking. Then only will it learn how to appraise the conduct of its leaders soundly, and so gradually regain in the eyes of the masses the prestige that it has in large part lost. It must be able to see a little beyond its immediate interests and no longer squander most of its energies in the pursuit of objectives that are of advantage to certain individuals only, or to the little cliques that are grouped about certain individuals. It must be persuaded once and for all that the situation that confronts us today is such that, in order to be worthy of belonging to the chosen minority to which the lot of every country is entrusted, it is not enough to have won a university degree, or to have managed a commercial or industrial enterprise successfully, or even to have risked one's life in the trenches. Long study and great devotion are also necessary.

Every generation produces a certain number of generous spirits who are capable of loving all that is, or seems to be, noble and beautiful, and of devoting large parts of their activity to improving the society in which they live, or at least to saving it from getting worse. Such individuals make up a small moral and intellectual aristocracy, which keeps humanity from rotting in the slough of selfishness and material appetites. To such aristocracies the world primarily owes the fact that many nations have been able to rise from barbarism and have never relapsed into it. Rarely do members of such aristocracies attain the outstanding positions in political life, but they render a perhaps more effective service to the world by molding the minds and guiding

{p. 494} the sentiments of their contemporaries, so that in the end they succeed in forcing their programs upon those who rule the state.

We cannot suppose that there will be any lack or deficiency of such generous souls in the generations that are now rising. But it has happened more than once in the long course of human history that the efforts and sacrifices of such people have not availed to save a nation or a civilization from decline and ruin. That has occurred, we believe, largely because the "best" people have had no clear and definite perception of the needs of their times, and therefore of the means best calculated to achieve social salvation. Let us hope that that clear perception will not be wanting today in the nobler elements among our youth, and that it may so enlighten their minds and quicken their hearts that they can think and act in peace as resolutely and courageously as they fought in war.

{end of quotes}

(2) The Myth of the Ruling Class: Gaetano Mosca and the "Elite", by James H. Meisel, Ann Arbor Paperbacks, Michigan, 1962.

Meisel's view is that Mosca, in saying that elites rule in fact, is justifying rule by an elite. He brackets Mosca with Arnold J. Toynbee, who really was part of an elite: toynbee.html. This is not my reading of Mosca; instead, I think that Mosca means that elites circulate as one is overthrown and replaced with another (endlessly).

{p. 3} Elitism - at its crudest the notion that The Few should rule because they do in fact rule ... has become ... the common parlance among those who like to think of themselves as members of Arnold Toynbee's Creative Minorities.

{p. 224} In 1928, six years after the March on Rome, the Committee for Political and Organization Questions of the Interparliamentary Union asked five European authorities in the field of "political economy" to write about the subject of "the crisis through which the parliamentary system is now passing in almost every country." The result of the inquiry was a slender volume comprising the contributions of one Englishman, Harold Laski, one Swiss, Charles Bourgeaud, M. F. Larnaude of Paris University, and M. J. Bonn speaking for Germany; Gaetano Mosca is the Italian representative in that distinguished company. The symposium was published that same year in Switzerland.

An inspection reveals Mosca's contribution to be a facsimile of the last chapter of The Ruling Class. The differences between the two pieces are purely verbal. But it is that very fact that makes the 1928 pronouncement so remarkable. In 1923, when the second Elementi appeared, the future character of Mussolini's government, then barely one year old, could hardly be anticipated. That makes certain strictures against neo-absolutism and syndicalism in the final chapter of that volume all the more prophetic. But it took no courage yet to make those criticisms; Italy was then still a free country. To repeat the same indictments five years later was an altogether different affair. To be sure, the word Fascism is never mentioned, but no reader could have been in doubt as to the real target of the author's 1928 remarks. That took some courage in a man who was then, technically, still a member of the Senate and who could have used that pretext or pleaded his old age in order to avoid unpleasant controversy. But not only did he seek it then, in 1928, but three years earlier had given battle on the very Senate floor.

The grand occasion was the law proposed to strengthen the prerogatives of the prime minister, but actually to give the Duce dictatorial powers to wipe out the Opposition stirred up by the outrage of the Matteotti murder. Mosca's speech rejecting the proposal was a masterpiece of dignity and firmness, made no less impressive by the fact that the address was the swan song of our author's parliamentary

{p. 225} career. One more thing is remarkable about that senatorial peroration: in the teeth of the new tyrant, Gaetano Mosca took the opportunity to speak in defense of the very system which he had attacked throughout his life. He could have stood on his record as the Cassandra of democracy. Instead, he chose to follow in the way of the old prophet who had set out to pronounce a curse and instead was moved to utter a blessing.

The words pronounced by Gaetano Mosca on December 25, 1975, are memorable words. Nobody of his calibre rose in the German Reichstag to protest, in 1933, Adolf Hitler's similar Errnachtigungsgeset.

No one, said Mosca, will object to a modification of the parliamentary regime. He had himself been advocating various measures designed to strengthen the executive power, to make it more independent of the vagaries of parliament. But now the tables were to be completely turned: the chamber was to lose its influence altogether. Its agenda was not only to be modified and limited by the new law, the chamber was to give up its right to initiate legislation. Another drastic change affected the position of the monarch. The new law made the prime minister all-powerful: he would no longer need the confidence of the king who appointed him.

{quote} Instead, the clearly stated intention is for the head of the state to leave [the premier] in charge of affairs as long as the economic, political, and moral forces which carried him to power do not desert him. As long as all those forces ... found expression in the votes of parliament, the situation was quite clear. But once those forces are no longer represented by parliament, then one would like to know: How are they represented? {endquote}

To a mind as much imbued with liberal ideas as that of our author the reply that social forces could express themselves outside the representative regime, in the mass organization of a revolutionary party, would have been incomprehensible. All he could see was that "the king was no longer to have the free choice of his government, which in turn would no longer depend on the votes of parliament."

Mosca speaks "with a certain emotion because, let us be frank, we take part in the funeral rites of a form of government. I should not have thought possible that I would be the one to deliver the funeral

{p. 226} oration on the parliamentary regime ... I, who have always taken a harsh attitude toward it, I am today obliged to lament its departure."

But then he proceeds from lament to eulogy. His step is circumspect but firm as he approaches his antagonist. We may imagine at this point a tensing of atmosphere in the first chamber. The majority of his distinguished colleagues, Mosca knew well, had already made up their minds to vote for the insidious measure and thus to make true the Roman proverb: ruere in servitutem, to volunteer for slavery. A small band must have felt like Mosca, for the minutes note occasional approval of his speech, applause which scarcely could relieve the anguish of these men who knew the predetermined outcome of the session. As for the victors in the seats of government, they may have thought: let the oldtimer speak his piece, what do we care about mere words.

But the oldtimer did care, for with each of his words went a deeply meaningful part of his life. However, if his heart felt agony, his head remained as clear as ever. Gaetano Mosca spoke as if he were addressing his habitual academic audience, treating in judicious terms a remote problem of historical research. And how else could one understand the present, not to speak of future hopes, if not in terms of centuries! In this mind great political decisions were not a mere matter of the moment but the contribution to or wasting of a great inheritance.

"A form of government," he said, "can be judged only in one way: by comparing it with both its predecessor and successor. To speak of the latter would be premature. As to the predecessor, it was such that one may say in all sincerity: the parliamentary regime was better."

Before advancing any further, Mosca once more makes certain of his ground. Nobody could accuse him of a change of mind toward the representative regime. He said that it had been operating well until the First World War; then it had "suffered a degeneration," partly caused by that great cataclysm which shook the political terrain to the foundations. But not to forget: human error played a maor part too, because "two enormous blunders were committed, one immediately before, the second right after the war: I am referring

{p. 227} to the introduction of universal suffrage and proportional representation."

Again the minutes register approval. Many liberals among the Senators may have used the opportunity to go on record as good patriots who condemned what they had adored for so long. By howling with the wolves, these men tried to establish a belated alibi. If so, their cheers were premature. For after saying that "the system of parliamentary representation neither must nor can remain impervious to change," the speaker added a great But. Changes, he said, can be radical and rapid, or they can be slow, deliberate. "That is a question of the utmost gravity which fills my soul with anguish and which, in my own opinion, the opinion of a lifelong adversary of the parliamentary regime, should be resolved in favor of judicious moderation."

After having shot his bolt, Mosca becomes once more the historical observer. In the slightly mocking but benevolent tone of the elder statesman he addresses now the younger generation which "believes that it knows everything, can change everything, and has nothing to learn from the past ..." As befits the learned man, he couches his last warning in a classical quotation. It is taken from the Iliad. Hector's farewell to his baby son Astyanax becomes the text of Gaetano Mosca's valedictory: "Then may men say of him, 'Far greater is he than his father' ..."

Is he talking with his tongue in cheek? I doubt it. Gaetano Mosca was a good Italian who would not desire the ruin of his country just so he could say "I told you so." His own faith in liberty remained unshaken: "For my part, if I should approve the new law before us, I would act against my conscience, and therefore I cannot vote for it."

Polite applause marks the end of a gallant speech commemorating the end of an era.

{end of quotes}

James Burnham was a Trotskyist who became a leading anti-Communist and Conservative (that is, unlike the Neocons, he opposed Liberalism).

His book The Managerial Revolution (1941, 1942) was one of the influences on George Orwell (also a Trotskyist) in writing 1984.

The Managerial Revolution depicted a convergence between Communism, National Socialism and New-Deal policies (in the West) towards what he called "Managerial" society, where the public services manage the state and the economy. Disparagingly, he branded the bureauracy the "ruling class" in such managerial economies; a theme taken up by Djilas, in his book The New Class.

Decades later, Thatcherism and Reaganomics (privatization and deregulation) have got rid of the public-sector Managerialism Burnham wrote about in The Managerial Revolution, and replaced it with rule by company boards and anonymous creditors, many based in tax havens, not answerable to the public in any way.

In 1947 Burnham proclaimed that the Cold War was the Third World War; he went on write a number of books about the threat of the USSR and the need for the US to mount a worldwide operation to contain it.

Burnham wrote extensively about Mosca. I feel that he has misused Mosca, making of him a prop for US-style "Democracy": burnham.html.

Gaetano Mosca surveyed civilizations with the same broad scope as Fernand Braudel (braudel.html) and Arnold J. Toynbee (toynbee.html).

Write to me at contact.html.

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