Society needs first of all to be freed from these meddlers—that is, to be let alone. The new foes must be met, as the old ones were met—by institutions and guarantees. How can we get bad legislators to pass a law which shall hinder bad legislators from passing a bad law? Such an interplay of social forces would, indeed, be a great and happy solution of a new social problem, if the aristocratic forces were strong enough for the magnitude of the task. Probably the popular notion is, that liberty means doing as one has a mind to, and that it is a metaphysical or sentimental good. Employers are generally separated by jealousy and pride in regard to all but the most universal class interests. The humanitarians, philanthropists, and reformers, looking at the facts of life as they present themselves, find enough which is sad and unpromising in the condition of many members of society. Stewart made his fortune out of those who worked for him or with him.
Social Science 1968 43 4 : 202—09. Bannister, On Liberty, Society, and Politics: The Essential Essays of William Graham Sumner Liberty Fund, 1992 , Introduction. Sumner had a biased approached towards economy in favor of the powerful wealthy class. I have given some reasons for this in former chapters. This book is written from a mostly secular viewpoint and is most assuredly pro-capitalistic. Will anyone allow such observations to blind them to the true significance of the change? If any man is not in the front rank, although he has done his best, how can he be advanced at all? Almost all legislative effort to prevent vice is really protective of vice, because all such legislation saves the vicious man from the penalty of his vice. A great deal is said about the unearned increment from land, especially with a view to the large gains of landlords in old countries.
All this is more or less truculently set forth. Against all such social quackery the obvious injunction to the quacks is, to mind their own business. If numbers increase, the organization must be perfected, and capital must increase— i. The real collision of interest, which is the center of the dispute, is that of employers and employed; and the first condition of successful study of the question, or of successful investigation to see if there is any question, is to throw aside the technical economic terms, and to look at the subject in its true meaning, expressed in untechnical language. The punishments of society are just like those of God and Nature—they are warnings to the wrong-doer to reform himself.
Here it may suffice to observe that, on the theories of the social philosophers to whom I have referred, we should get a new maxim of judicious living: Poverty is the best policy. Now, the greatest part of the preaching in America consists in injunctions to those who have taken care of themselves to perform their assumed duty to take care of others. We all agree that he is a good member of society who works his way up from poverty to wealth, but as soon as he has worked his way up we begin to regard him with suspicion, as a dangerous member of society. Whether social philosophers think it desirable or not, it is out of the question to go back to status or to the sentimental relations which once united baron and retainer, master and servant, teacher and pupil, comrade and comrade. The illegitimate attempt to raise wages by limiting the number of apprentices is the great abuse of trades-unions.
The assumption behind all these claims, writes Sumner, is that society consists of layers and layers of hidden and roiling conflicts and fights that can only be resolved by state intervention. But it seems impossible that any one who has studied the matter should doubt that we have gained immeasurably, and that our farther gains lie in going forward, not in going backward. In its turn wealth is now becoming a power in the state, and, like every other power, it is liable to abuse unless restrained by checks and guarantees. The notion of civil liberty which we have inherited is that of a status created for the individual by laws and institutions, the effect of which is that each man is guaranteed the use of all his own powers exclusively for his own welfare. He got what he could by way of food, and ate what he could get, but he depended on finding what Nature gave. The poor would also become William Graham Sumner is a social Darwinist who claimed that people who work hard are rich, while people who do not work as hard are poor.
Let every man be happy in his own way. Society, however, is only the persons interested plus some other persons; and as the persons interested have by the hypothesis failed to win the rights, we come to this, that natural rights are the claims which certain persons have by prerogative against some other persons. Whatever may be one's private sentiments, the fear of appearing cold and hard-hearted causes these conventional theories of social duty and these assumptions of social fact to pass unchallenged. If we try to learn what is true, we shall both do what is alone right, and we shall do the best for ourselves in the end. Because of that, I believe God's plan is for his church to voluntarily fill this gap between the haves and the have-nots through no fault of their own. The Connecticut tobacco-growers at once called for an import duty on tobacco which would keep up the price of their product.
From September 1870 to September 1872, Sumner was Rector of the Church of the Redeemer in Morristown, N. The employés have no means of information which is as good and legitimate as association, and it is fair and necessary that their action should be united on behalf of their interests. These conflicts are rooted in the supposed reality that one group wins only at the expense of another group. There is a great deal of it in the professions. They fix their minds entirely on the workmen for the time being in the trade, and do not take note of any other workmen as interested in the matter. Here it may suffice to observe that, on the theories of the social philosophers to whom I have referred, we should get a new maxim of judicious living: Poverty is the best policy.
Every man gets some experience of, and makes some observations on social affairs. Every protected industry has to plead, as the major premise of its argument, that any industry which does not pay ought to be carried on at the expense of the consumers of the product, and, as its minor premise, that the industry in question does not pay; that is, that it cannot reproduce a capital equal in value to that which it consumes plus the current rate of profit. Furthermore, it seems to me certain that all aggregated capital will fall more and more under personal control. Especially in a new country, where many tasks are waiting, where resources are strained to the utmost all the time, the judgment, courage, and perseverance required to organize new enterprises and carry them to success are sometimes heroic. It is often said that the mass of mankind are yet buried in poverty, ignorance, and brutishness. No doctrine that a true adjustment of interest follows from the free play of interests can be construed to mean that an interest which is neglected will get its rights. The boon, or gift, would be to get some land after somebody else had made it fit for use.
The former class of ills is to be met only by manly effort and energy; the latter may be corrected by associated effort. What shall we do with Neighbor A? After doing so, I jotted down some of the stray thoughts that occurred to me while rereading it -- nothing fully thought through, just my first impressions -- a set of reader reactions of the sort that I asked my students to do and hand in. The system of providing for these things by boards and inspectors throws the cost of it, not on the interested parties, but on the tax-payers. Strange and often horrible shadows of all the old primitive barbarism are now to be found in the slums of great cities, and in the lowest groups of men, in the midst of civilized nations. I first read this book in college. The name has been adopted by some professed labor leaders, but it really should be considered insulting.