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THE STUDY OF POLITICS

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THE STUDY OF POLITICS

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has long been an open secret that there is war among

among the political economists. John Stuart Mill no longer receives universal homage, but has to bear much irreverent criticism; even Adam Smith might be seriously cavilled at were not the habit of praise grown too old in his case. He is still the father of political economy;' but, like other fathers of his day, he seems to us decidedly old fashioned. The fact is, that these older writers, who professed to point out the laws of human businesses, are accused of leaving out of view a full half of human nature; in insisting that men love gain, they are said to have quite forgotten that men sometimes love each other, that they are not only prehensile, but also a great many other things less aggressive and less selfish.

Those who make these charges want to leave nothing human out of their reckonings; they want to know ‘all the facts,' and are ready, if necessary, to reduce every generalization of the older writers to the state-the wholly excep

tional state-of a rule in German grammar. Their protest is significant, their purpose heroic, beyond a doubt; and what interesting questions are not raised by their programme! How is the world to contain the writings, statistical, historical, critical, which must be accumulated ere this enormous diagnosis of trade and manufacture shall be completed in its details? And after it shall have been completed in detail who is to be born great enough in genius and patience to reduce the mass to a system comprehensible by ordinary mortals? Moreover, who is going surety that these new economists will not be dreadful defaulters before they get through handling these immense assets of human nature, which Mill confessed himself unable to handle without wrecking his bookkeeping? Are they assured of the eventual collaboration of some Shakespeare who will set before the world all the standard types of economic character? Let the world hope so. Even those who cannot answer the questions I have broached ought to bid such sturdy workers 'God speed!

The most interesting reflection suggested by the situation is, that political economists are being harassed by the same discipline of experience that, one day or another, sobers all constructors of systems. They cannot build in the air and then escape chagrin because men only

gaze at their structures, and will not live in them. Closet students of politics are constantly undergoing new drill in the same lesson: the world is an inexorable schoolmaster; it will have none of any thought which does not recognize it. Sometimes theorists like Rousseau, being near enough the truth to deceive even those who knew something of it, are so unfortunate as to induce men to rear fabrics of government after their aerial patterns out of earth's stuffs, with the result of bringing every affair of weight crashing about their ears, to the shaking of the world. But there are not many such coincidences as Rousseau and his times, happily; and other closet politicians, more commonly cast and more ordinarily placed than he, have had no such perilous successes.

There is every reason to believe that in countries where men vote as well as write books, political writers at any rate give an honest recognition of act to these facts. They do not vote their opinions, they vote their party tickets; and they are the better citizens by far for doing so. Inside their libraries they go with their masters in thought-mayhap go great lengths with Adolph Wagner, or hold stiffly back, ‘man versus the state,' with Spencer; outside their libraries they 'go with their party.' In a word, like sensible men, they frankly recognize the difference between what

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