Newer Ideals of Peace


Jane Addams

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We are accustomed to say that the machinery of government incorporated in the charters of the early American cities, as in the Federal and State constitutions, was worked out by men who were strongly under the influence of the historians and doctrinaires of the eighteenth century. The most significant representative of these men is Thomas Jefferson, and their most telling phrase, the familiar opening that "all men are created free and equal."

We are only now beginning to suspect that the present admitted failure in municipal administration, the so-called "shame of American cities," may be largely due to the inadequacy of those eighteenth- century ideals, with the breakdown of the machinery which they provided. We recognize the weakness inherent in the historic and doctrinaire method when it attempts to deal with growing and human institutions. While these men were strongly under the influence of peace

(32) ideals which were earnestly advocated, both in France and in America, even in the midst of their revolutionary periods, and while they read the burning poets and philosophers of their remarkable century, their idealism, after all, was largely founded upon theories concerning "the natural man," a creature of their sympathetic imaginations.

Because their idealism was of the type that is afraid of experience, these founders refused to look at the difficulties and blunders which a self- governing people were sure to encounter, and insisted that, if only the people had freedom, they would walk continuously in the paths of justice and righteousness. It was inevitable, therefore, that they should have remained quite untouched by that worldly wisdom which counsels us to know life as it is, and by that very modern belief that if the world is ever to go right at all, it must go right in its own way.

A man of this generation easily discerns the crudeness of "that eighteenth-century conception of essentially unprogressive human nature in all the empty dignity of its 'inborn rights.'' [1]Because he has grown familiar with a more passionate human creed, with the modern evolutionary conception of the slowly advancing race whose

(33) rights are not "inalienable," but hard-won in the tragic processes of experience, he realizes that these painfully acquired rights must be carefully cherished or they may at any moment slip out of our hands. We know better in America than anywhere else that civilization is not a broad road, with mile-stones indicating how far each nation has proceeded upon it, but a complex struggle forward, each race and nation contributing its quota; that the variety and continuity of this commingled life afford its charm and value. We would not, if we could, conform them to one standard. But this modern attitude, which may even now easily subside into negative tolerance, did not exist among the founders of the Republic, who, with all their fine talk of the "natural man" and what he would accomplish when he obtained freedom and equality, did not really trust the people after all.

They timidly took the English law as their prototype, "whose very root is in the relation be" tween sovereign and subject, between lawmaker and those whom the law restrains," which has traditionally concerned itself more with the guarding of prerogative and with the rights of property than with the spontaneous life of the people. They serenely incorporated laws and survivals which registered the successful struggle

(34) of the barons against the aggressions of the sovereign, although the new country lacked both nobles and kings. Misled by the name of government, they founded their new government by an involuntary reference to a lower social state than that which they actually saw about them. They depended upon penalties, coercion, compulsion, remnants of military codes, to hold the community together; and it may be possible to trace much of the maladministration of our cities to these survivals, to the fact that our early democracy was a moral romanticism, rather than a wellgrounded belief in social capacity and in the efficiency of the popular will.

It has further happened that as the machinery, groaning under the pressure of new social demands put upon it, has broken down that from time to time, we have mended it by giving more power to administrative officers, because we still distrusted the will of the people. We are willing to cut off the dislocated part or to tighten the gearing, but are afraid to substitute a machine of newer invention and greater capacity. In the hour of danger we revert to the military and legal type although they become less and less appropriate to city life in proportion as the city grows more complex, more varied in resource and more high-

(35)-ly organized, and is, therefore, in greater need of a more diffused local autonomy.

A little examination will easily show that in spite of the fine phrases of the founders, the Government became an entity by itself away from the daily life of the people. There was no intention to ignore them nor to oppress them. But simply because its machinery was so largely copied from the traditional European Governments which did distrust the people, the founders failed to provide the vehicle for a vital and genuinely organized expression of the popular will. The founders carefully defined what was germane to government and what was quite outside its realm, whereas the very crux of local selfgovernment, as has been well said, is involved in the "right to locally determine the scope of the local government," in response to the needs as they arise.

They were anxious to keep the reins of government in the the hands of the good and professedly public-spirited, because, having staked so much upon the people whom they really knew so little, they became eager that they should appear well, and should not be given enough power to enable them really to betray their weaknesses. This was done in the same spirit in which a kind lady permits herself to give a tramp five cents, believ

(36)-ing that, although he may spend it for drink' he cannot get very drunk upon so small a sum. In spite of a vague desire to trust the people, the founders meant to fall back in every crisis upon the old restraints which government has traditionally enlisted in its behalf, and were, perhaps, inevitably influenced by the experiences of the Revolutionary War. Having looked to the sword for independence from oppressive governmental control, they came to regard the sword as an essential part of the government they had succeeded in establishing.

Regarded from the traditional standpoint, government has always needed this force of arms. The king, attempting to control the growing power of the barons as they wrested one privilege after another from him, was obliged to use it constantly; the barons later successfully established themselves in power only to be encroached upon by the growing strength and capital of the merchant class. These are now, in turn, calling upon the troops and militia for aid, as they are shorn of a pittance here and there by the rising power of the proletariat. The imperial, the feudal, the capitalistic forms of society each created by revolt against oppression from above, preserved their own forms of government only by carefully guarding their hardly won charters

(37) and constitutions. But in the very countries where these successive social forms have developed, full of survivals of the past, some beneficent and some detrimental, governments are becoming modified more rapidly than in this democracy where we ostensibly threw off traditional governmental oppression only to encase ourselves in a theory of virtuous revolt against oppressive government, which in many instances has proved more binding than the actual oppression itself.

Did the founders cling too hard to that which they had won through persecution, hardship, and finally through a war of revolution? Did these doctrines seem so precious to them that they were determined to tie men up to them as long as possible, and allow them no chance to go on to new devices of government, lest they slight these that had been so hardly won? Did they estimate, not too highly, but by too exclusive a valuation, that which they had secured through the shedding of blood ?

Man has ever overestimated the spoils of war, and tended to lose his sense of proportion in regard to their value. He has ever surrounded them with a glamour beyond their deserts. This is quite harmless when the booty is an enemy's sword hung over a household fire, or a battered

(38) flag decorating a city hall, but when the spoil of war is an idea which is bound on the forehead of the victor until it cramps his growth, a theory which he cherishes in his bosom until it grows so large and near that it afflicts its possessor with a sort of disease of responsibility for its preservation, it may easily overshadow the very people for whose cause the warrior issued forth.

Was this overestimation of the founders the cause of our subsequent failures? or rather did not the fault lie with their successors, and does it not now rest with us, that we have wrapped our inheritance in a napkin and refused to add thereto ? The founders fearlessly took the noblest word of their century and incorporated it into a public document. They ventured their fortunes and the future of their children upon its truth. We, with the belief of a progressive, developing human life, apparently accomplish less than they with their insistence upon rights and liberties which they so vigorously opposed to mediaeval restrictions and obligations. We are in that first period of conversion when we hold a creed which forecasts newer and larger possibilities for governmental development, without in the least understanding its spiritual implications. Although we have scrupulously extended the franchise to the varied immigrants among us, we have not

(39) yet admitted them into real political fellowship. It is easy to demonstrate that we consider our social and political problems almost wholly in the light of one wise group whom we call native Americans, legislating for the members of humbler groups whom we call immigrants. The first embodies the attitude of contempt or, at best, the patronage of the successful towards those who have as yet failed to succeed. We may consider the so-called immigration situation as an illustration of our failure to treat our growing Republic in the spirit of a progressive and developing democracy.

The statement is made many times that we, as a nation, are rapidly reaching the limit of our powers of assimilation, that we receive further masses of immigrants at the risk of blurring those traits and characteristics which we are pleased to call American, with its corollary that the national standard of living is in danger of permanent debasement. Were we not in the midst of a certain intellectual dearth and apathy, of a skepticism in regard to the ideals of self-government which have ceased to charm men, we would see that we are testing our national life by a tradition too provincial and limited to meet its present motley and cosmopolitan character; that we lack mental energy, adequate knowledge, and

(40) a sense of the youth of the earth. The constant cry that American institutions are in danger betrays a spiritual waste, not due to our infidelity to national ideals, but arising from the fact that we fail to enlarge those ideals in accord with our faithful experience of life. Our political machinery devised for quite other conditions, has not been readjusted and adapted to the successive changes resulting from our development. The clamor for the town meeting, for the colonial and early century ideals of government is in itself significant, for we are apt to cling to the past through a very paucity of ideas.

In a sense the enormous and unprecedented moving about over the face of the earth on the part of all nations is in itself the result of philosophic dogma of the eighteenth century -- of the creed of individual liberty. The modern system of industry and commerce presupposes freedom of occupation, of travel, and residence; even more, it unhappily rests in a large measure upon the assumption of a body of the unemployed and the unskilled, ready to be absorbed or dropped according to the demands of production: but back of that, or certainly preceding its later developments, lies "the natural rights" doctrine of the eighteenth century. Even so late as 1892 an official treaty of the United States referred to the

(41) "inalienable rights of man to change his residence and religion." This dogma of the schoolmen, dramatized in France and penetrating under a thousand forms into the most backward European States, is still operating as an obscure force in sending emigrants to America and in our receiving them here. But in the second century of its existence it has become too barren and chilly to induce any really zealous or beneficent activity on behalf of the immigrants after they arrive. On the other hand those things which we do believe _the convictions which might be formulated to the immeasurable benefit of the immigrants, and to the everlasting good of our national life, have not yet been satisfactorily stated, nor apparently apprehended by us, in relation to this field. We have no method by which to discover men, to spiritualize, to understand, to hold intercourse with aliens and to receive of what they bring. A century- old abstraction breaks down before this vigorous test of concrete cases and their demand for sympathetic interpretation. When we are confronted by the Italian lazzaroni, the peasants from the Carpathian foothills, and the proscribed traders from Galatia, we have no national ideality founded upon realism and tested by our growing experience with which to meet them, but only the platitudes of our crudest youth.

(42) The philosophers and statesmen of the eighteenth century believed that the universal franchise would cure all ills; that liberty and equality rested only upon constitutional rights and privileges; that to obtain these two and to throw off all governmental oppression constituted the full duty of the progressive patriot. We still keep to this formalization because the philosophers of this generation give us nothing newer. We ignore the fact that world-wide problems can no longer be solved by a political constitution assuring us against opposition, but that we must frankly face the proposition that the whole situation is more industrial than political. Did we apprehend this, we might then realize that the officers of the Government who are dealing with naturalization papers and testing the knowledge of the immigrants concerning the Constitution of the United States, are only playing with counters representing the beliefs of a century ago, while the real issues are being settled by the great industrial and commercial interests which are at once the products and the masters of our contemporary life. As children who are allowed to amuse themselves with poker chips pay no attention to the real game which their elders play with the genuine cards in their hands, so we shut our eyes to the exploitation and industrial debasement of the immigrant, and

(43) say, with placid contentment, that he has been given the rights of an American citizen, and that, therefore, all our obligations have been fulfilled. It is as if we should undertake to cure the contemporary political corruption founded upon a disregard of the Inter- State Commerce Acts, by requiring the recreant citizens to repeat the Constitution of the United States.

As yet no vigorous effort is made to discover how far our present system of naturalization, largely resting upon laws enacted in 1802, is inadequate, although it may have met the requirements of "the fathers." These processes were devised to test new citizens who had immigrated to the United States from political rather than from economic pressure, although these two have always been in a certain sense coextensive. Yet the early Irish came to America to seek an opportunity for self-government, denied them at home; the Germans and Italians started to come in largest numbers after the absorption of their smaller States into the larger nations; and the immigrants from Russia are the conquered Poles, Lithuanians, Finns, and Jews. On some such obscure notion the processes of naturalization were worked out, and, with a certain degree of logic, the first immigrants were presented with the Constitution of the United States as a type

(44) and epitome of that which they had come to seek. So far as they now come in search of political liberty, as many of them do every day, the test is still valid, but, in the meantime, we cannot ignore those significant figures which show emigration to rise with periods of depression in given countries, and immigration to be checked by periods of depression in America, and we refuse to see how largely the question has become an economic one.

At the present moment, as we know, the actual importing of immigrants is left largely to the energy of steamship companies and to those agents for contract labor who are keen enough to avoid the restrictive laws. The business man is here again in the saddle, as he so largely is in American affairs. From the time that the immigrants first make the acquaintance of the steamship agent in their own villages, at least until a grandchild is born on the new soil, they are subjected to various processes of exploitation from purely commercial and self-seeking interests. It begins with the representatives of the transatlantic lines and their allies, who convert the peasant holdings into money, and provide the prospective emigrants with needless supplies, such as cartridge belts and bowie knives. The brokers, in manufactured passports, send their clients

(45) by successive stages for a thousand miles to a port suiting their purposes. On the way the emigrants' eyes are treated that they may pass the physical test; they are taught to read sufficiently well to meet the literacy test; they are lent enough money to escape the pauper test, and by the time they have reached America, they are so hopelessly in debt that it requires months of work to repay all they have received. During this time they are completely under the control of the last broker in the line, who has his dingy office in an American city. The exploitation continues under the employment agency whose operations verge into those of the politician, through the naturalization henchman, the petty lawyers who foment their quarrels and grievances by the statement that in a free country everybody "goes to law," by the liquor dealers who stimulate a lively trade among them, and, finally, by the lodging-house keepers and the landlords who are not obliged to give them the housing which the American tenant demands. It is a long dreary road, and the immigrant is successfully exploited at each turn. At moments one looking on is driven to quote the Titanic plaint of Walt Whitman:

"As I stand aloof and look, there is to me something profoundly affecting in large masses

(46) of men following the lead of those who do not believe in men."

The sinister aspect of this exploitation lies in the fact that it is carried on by agents whose stock in trade are the counters and terms of citizenship. It is said that at the present moment there are more of these agents in Palermo than perhaps in any other European port, and that those politicians who have found it impossible to stay even in that corrupt city are engaged in the brokerage of naturalization papers in the United States. Certainly one effect of the stringent contract labor laws has been to make the padrones more powerful because "smuggled alien labor" has become more valuable to American corporations, and also to make simpler the delivery of immigrant votes according to the dictates of commercial interests. It becomes a veritable system of poisoning the notions of decent government; but because the entire process is carried on in political terms, because the poker chips are colored red, white, and blue, we are childishly indifferent to it. An elaborate avoidance of restrictions quickly adapts itself to changes either in legislation here or at the points of departure, because none of the legislation is founded upon a real analysis of the situation. For instance, a new type of broker in Russia during the Russian-Japanese War made

(47) use of the situation in the interests of young Russian Jews. If one of these men leaves the country ordinarily, his family is obliged to pay three hundred rubles to the Government, but if he first joins the army, his family is free from this obligation for he has passed into the keeping of his sergeant. Out of four hundred Russian Jews who, during three months, were drafted into the army at a given recruiting station, only ten reported, the rest having escaped through immigration. Of course the entire undertaking is much more hazardous, because the man is a deserter from the army in addition to his other disabilities; but the brokers merely put up the price of their services and continue their undertakings.

All these evasions of immigration laws and regulations are simply possible because the governmental tests do not belong to the current situation, and because our political ideas are inherited from governmental conditions not our own. In our refusal to face the situation, we have persistently ignored the political ideals of the Celtic, Germanic, Latin, and Slavic immigrants who have successively come to us; and in our overwhelming ambition to remain Anglo-Saxon, we have fallen into the Anglo-Saxon temptation of governing all peoples by one standard. We have failed to work out a democratic government which

(48) should include the experiences and hopes of-all the varied peoples among us. We justify the situation by some such process as that employed by each English elector who casts a vote for seventy-five subjects besides himself. He indirectly determines -- although he may be a narrowminded tradesman or a country squire interested only in his hounds and horses -- the colonial policy, which shall in turn control the destinies of the Egyptian child toiling in the cotton factory in Alexandria, and of the half-starved Parsee working the opium fields of North India. Yet he cannot, in the nature of the case, be informed of the needs of these far-away people and he would venture to attempt it only in regard to people whom he considered "inferior."

Pending a recent election, a Chicago reformer begged his hearers to throw away all selfish thoughts of themselves when they went to the polls and to vote in behalf of the poor and ignorant foreigners of the city. It would be difficult to suggest anything which would result in a more serious confusion than to have each man, without personal knowledge and experiences, consider the interests of the newly arrived immigrant. The voter would have to give himself over to a veritable debauch of altruism in order to persuade himself that his vote would be of the least value to those

(49) men of whom he knew so little, and whom he considered so remote and alien to himself. In truth the attitude of the advising reformer was in reality so contemptuous that he had never considered the immigrants really partakers and molders of the political life of his country.

This attitude of contempt, of provincialism, this survival of the spirit of the conqueror toward an inferior people, has many manifestations, but none so harmful as when it becomes absorbed and imitated and is finally evinced by the children of the foreigners toward their own parents.

We are constantly told of the increase of criminals in the second generation of immigrants, and, day after day, one sees lads of twelve and fourteen throwing off the restraint of family life and striking out for themselves. The break has come thus early, partly from the forced development of the child under city conditions, partly because the parents have had no chance of following, even remotely, this development, but largely because the Americanized child has copied the contemptuous attitude towards the foreigner which he sees all about him. The revolt has in it something of the city impatience of country standards,, but much more of America against Poland or Italy. It is all wretchedly sordid with bitterness on the part of the parents, and

(50) hardhearted indifference and recklessness on the part of the boy. Only occasionally can the latter be appealed to by filial affection after the first break has once been thoroughly made; and yet, sometimes, even these lads see the pathos of the situation. A probation officer from Hull-House one day surprised three truants who were sitting by a bonfire which they had built near the river. Sheltered by an empty freight car, the officer was able to listen to their conversation. The Pole, the Italian, and the Bohemian boys who had broken the law by staying away from school, by building a fire in dangerous proximity to freight cars, and by "swiping" the potatoes which they were roasting, seemed to have settled down into an almost halcyon moment of gentleness and reminiscence. The Italian boy commiserated his parents because they hated the cold and the snow and "couldn't seem to get used to it;" the Pole said that his father missed seeing folks that he knew and was "sore on this country;" the Bohemian lad really grew quite tender about his old grandmother and the "stacks of relations" who came to see her every Sunday in the old country, where, in contrast to her loneliness here, she evidently had been a person of consequence. All of them felt the pathos of the situation, but the predominant note was the cheap contempt of the so

(51) new American for foreigners, even though they are of his own blood. The weakening of the tie which connects one generation with another may be called the domestic results of the contemptuous attitude. But the social results of the contemptuous attitude are even more serious and nowhere so grave as in the modern city.

Men are there brought together by multitudes in response to the concentration of industry and commerce without bringing with them the natural social and family ties or the guild relationships which distinguished the mediaeval cities and held even so late as the eighteenth century, when the country people came to town in response to the normal and slowly formed ties of domestic service, family affection, and apprenticeship. Men who come to a modern city by immigration break all these older ties and the national bond in addition. There is all the more necessity to develop that cosmopolitan bond which forms their substitute. The immigrants will be ready to adapt themselves to a new and vigorous civic life founded upon the recognition of their needs if the Government which is at present administered in our cities, will only admit that these needs are germane to its functions. The framers of the carefully prepared charters, upon which the cities are founded, did not foresee that after the universal

(52) franchise had once been granted, social needs and ideals were bound to enter in as legitimate objects of political action. Neither did these framers realize, on the other hand, that the only people in a democracy who can legitimately become the objects of repressive government, are those people who are too undeveloped to use their liberty or those who have forfeited their right to full citizenship. We have, therefore, a municipal administration in America which concerns itself only grudgingly with the social needs of the people, and is largely reduced to the administration of restrictive measures. The people who come most directly in contact with the executive officials, who are the legitimate objects of their control, are the vicious, who need to be repressed; and the semidependent poor, who appeal to them in their dire need; or, for quite the reverse reason, those who are trying to avoid an undue taxation, resenting the fact that they should be made to support a government which, from the nature of the case, is too barren to excite their real enthusiasm.

The instinctive protest against this mechanical method of civic control, with the lack of adjustment between the natural democratic impulse and the fixed external condition, inevitably produces the indifferent citizen, and the so-called "professional politician." The first, because

(53) he is not vicious, feels that the real processes of government do not concern him and wishes only to be let alone. The latter easily adapts himself to an illegal avoidance of the external fixed conditions by assuming that these conditions have been settled by doctrinaires who did not in the least understand the people, while he, the politician, makes his appeal beyond the conditions to the real desires of the people themselves. He is thus not only "the people's friend," but their interpreter. It is interesting to note how often simple people refer to "them," meaning the good and great who govern but do not understand, and to "him," meaning the alderman, who represents them in these incomprehensible halls of State, as an ambassador to a foreign country to whose borders they themselves could not possibly penetrate, and whose language they do not speak.

In addition to this difficulty inherent in the difference between the traditional and actual situation, there is another, which constantly arises on the purely administrative side. The traditional governments which the founders had copied, in proceeding by fixed standards to separate the vicious from the good, and then to legislate against the vicious, had enforced these restrictive measures by trained officials, usually with a military background. In a democracy, however,

(54) the officers entrusted with the enforcement of this restrictive legislation, if not actually elected by the people themselves, are still the appointments of those thus elected and are, therefore, good-natured men who have made friends by their kindness and social qualities. This is only decreasingly true even in those cities where appointments are made by civil service examinations. The carrying out of repressive legislation, the remnant of a military state of society, in a democracy is at last put into the hands of men who have attained office because of political pull. The repressive measures must be enforced by those sympathizing with the people and belonging to those against whom the measures operate. This anomalous situation produces almost inevitably one result: that the police authorities themselves are turned into allies of vice and crime. This may be illustrated from almost any of the large American cities in the relation existing between the police force and the gambling and other illicit life. The officers are often flatly told that the enforcement of an ordinance which the better element of the city has insisted upon passing, is impossible; that they are expected to control only the robbery and crime that so often associate themselves with vice. As Mr. Wilcox [2] has re-

(55)-cently pointed out, public sentiment itself assumes a certain hypocrisy, and in the end we have "the abnormal conditions which are created when vice is protected by the authorities," and in the very worst cases there develops a sort of municipal blackmail in which the administration itself profits by the violation of law. The very governmental agencies which were designed to protect the citizen from vice, foster and protect him in its pursuance because everybody involved is thoroughly confused by the human element in the situation. Further than this, the officer's very kindness and human understanding is that which leads to his downfall, for he is forced to uphold the remnant of a military discipline in a self-governing community. It is not remarkable, perhaps, that the police department, the most vigorous survival of militarism to be found in American cities, has always been responsible for the most exaggerated types of civic corruption. It is sad, however, that this corruption has largely been due to the kindliness of the officers and to their lack of military training. There is no doubt that the reasonableness of keeping the saloons in lower New York open on Sunday was apparent to the policemen of the East Side force long before it dawned upon the reform administration; and yet, that the policemen allowed

(56) themselves to connive at law-breaking, was the beginning of their disgraceful downfall. Because kindness to an enemy may mean death or the annihilation of the army which he guards, all kindness is illicit on the part of the military sentinel on duty; but to bring that code over bodily into a peaceful social state is to break down the morals of both sides, of the enforcer of the illadapted law, as well as of those against whom it is so maladroitly directed.

In order to meet this situation, there is almost inevitably developed a politician of the corrupt type so familiar in American cities, the politician who has become successful because he has made friends with the vicious. The semi-criminal, who are constantly brought in contact with administrative government are naturally much interested in its operations. Having much at stake, as a matter of course, they attend the primaries and all the other election processes which so quickly tire the good citizens whose interest in the government is a self-imposed duty. To illustrate: it is a matter of much moment to a gambler whether there is to be a "wide-open town" or not; it means the success or failure of his business; it involves, not only the pleasure, but the livelihood, of all his friends. He naturally attends to the election of the alderman, to the appointment and retention

(57) of the policeman. He is found at the caucus "every time," and would be much amused if he were praised for the performance of his civic duty; but, because he and the others who are concerned in semi-illicit business do attend the primaries, the corrupt politician is nominated over and over again.

As this type of politician is successful from his alliance with crime, there also inevitably arises from time to time a so-called reformer who is shocked to discover the state of affairs, the easy partnership between vice and administrative government. He dramatically uncovers the situation and arouses great indignation against it on the part of good citizens. If this indignation is enough, he creates a political fervor which is translated into a claim upon public gratitude. In portraying the evil he is fighting, he does not recognize, or at least does not make clear, all the human kindness upon which it has grown. In his speeches he inevitably offends a popular audience, who know that the evil of corruption exists in all degrees and forms of human weakness, but who also know that these evils are by no means always hideous, and sometimes even are lovable. They resent his over-drawn pictures of vice and of the life of the vicious; their sense of

(58) fair play, their deep-rooted desire for charity and justice, are all outraged.

To illustrate from a personal experience: Some years ago a famous New York reformer came to Chicago to tell us of his phenomenal success, his trenchant methods of dealing with the city "gambling- hells," as he chose to call them. He proceeded to describe the criminals of lower New York in terms and phrases which struck at least one of his auditors as sheer blasphemy against our common human nature. I thought of the criminals whom I knew, of the gambler for whom each Saturday I regularly collected his weekly wage of $24.00, keeping $18.00 for his wife and children and giving him $6.00 on Monday morning. His despairing statement, "the thing is growing on me, and I can never give it up," was certainly not the cry of a man living in hell, but of him who, through much tribulation had at least kept the loyal intention. I remembered the three girls who had come to me with a paltry sum of money collected from the pawn and sale of their tawdry finery in order that one of their number might be spared a death in the almshouse and that she might have the wretched comfort during the closing weeks of her life of knowing that, although she was an outcast, she was not a pauper. I recalled the first mur-

(59)-derer whom I had ever known, a young man who was singing his baby to sleep and stopped to lay it in its cradle before he rushed downstairs into his father's saloon to scatter the gang of boys who were teasing the old man by giving him English orders. The old man could not understand English and the boys were refusing to pay for the drinks they had consumed, but technically had not ordered.

For one short moment I saw the situation from the point of view of humbler people, who sin often through weakness and passion, but seldom through hardness of heart, and I felt that in a democratic community such sweeping condemnations and conclusions as the speaker was pouring forth could never be accounted for righteousness.

As the policeman who makes terms with vice, and almost inevitably slides into making gain from vice, merely represents the type of politician who is living off the weakness of his fellows, so the over- zealous reformer who exaggerates vice until the public is scared and awestruck, represents the type of politician who is living off the timidity of his fellows. With the lack of civic machinery for simple democratic expression, for a direct dealing with human nature as it is, we seem doomed to one type or the other -- corruptionists or anti-crime committees.

(60) And one sort or the other we will continue to have so long as we distrust the very energy of existence, the craving for enjoyment, the pushing of vital forces, the very right of every citizen to be what he is without pretense or assumption of virtue. Too often he does not really admire these virtues, but he imagines them somewhere as a standard adopted by the virtuous whom he does not know. That old Frankenstein, the ideal man of the eighteenth century, is still haunting us, although he never existed save in the brain of the doctrinaire.

This dramatic and feverish triumph of the selfseeker, see-sawing with that of the interested reformer, does more than anything else, perhaps, to keep the American citizen away from the ideals of genuine evolutionary democracy. Whereas repressive government, from the nature of the case, has to do with the wicked who are happily always in a minority in the community, a normal democratic government would naturally have to do with the great majority of the population in their normal relations to each other.

After all, the so-called "slum politician" ventures his success upon an appeal to human sentiment and generosity. This venture often results in an alliance between the popular politician and the humblest citizens, quite as naturally as the re-

(61)-former who stands for honest business administration usually becomes allied with the type of business man whose chief concern it is to guard his treasure and to prevent a rise in taxation. The community is again insensibly divided into two camps, the repressed, who is dimly conscious that he has no adequate outlet for his normal life and the repressive, represented by the cautious, careful citizen holding fast to his own, once more the conqueror and his humble people.


  1. "The Spirit of Modern Philosophy," Josiah Royce, page 275.
  2. The American City, Dr. Delos F. Wilcox, page 200.

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