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called in ancient times the view of “oligarchy," or “ aristocracy.” The second view was called “ democracy.” These words do not mean exactly the same as inequality and equality. They mean government by a few (oligarchy), government by the best (aristocracy), and government by the mass of the people after taking out the “ few best” (democracy). Yet the words inequality and equality were very soon connected with these theories of government. For it was taken as a matter of course that if the few (whether they were those of special birth or those who were wealthy) were governing, they would govern for their own advantage; while if the many, who were usually poor, were governing, they would govern for their own advantage.
Why should any one wish to limit good things to a The small class? We know that persons often are selfish; view of but most persons would not wish to set selfishness up
inequality as an ideal or as a general policy. Most men would say that it would be a fine thing if all could have health, education, and means of enjoyment. Yet there have always been certain persons who have held strongly to the theory of inequality. Some of them have been very eminent. How can we explain it? There are perhaps four principal reasons which have been in their minds.
The first reason would be a very good one against (1) Men certain forms of the theory of equality. It is that differ in men are very different in their capacities. Some men,
capacity it is claimed, are never capable of enjoying books, music, good clothes, travel, study; and especially it is claimed that they are not capable of governing themselves. It is foolish to waste these goods upon them. If they try to govern themselves they make a mess of it. They cannot manage a business or a farm and make a success of it; how absurd to suppose that they can
manage the business of the whole country or of a city! They should be given the necessaries of life in some way. The older way was by a system of slavery. The modern way should be by daily wages, sufficient to keep them in comfort. The great philosopher of Greece, Aristotle, the man who laid the foundations of most of our various sciences, sincerely believed that some men are not capable of directing themselves and therefore can best be cared for as slaves. Of course he did not mean that they should be cruelly treated. He thought such slavery would be best for both classes.
This we may call the theory of. natural inequality. Men are unequal by nature. God has made them so, or, at any rate, they are born so and it cannot be helped. In early times this theory of natural inequality was generally connected with clannishness. Greeks thought that other people were “barbarians” and not so good as Greeks. Jews thought that the Gentiles were not so good as Jews. Christians thought that Pagans or Heathen were inferior. Normans thought that the English were not gentlemen.
The second reason why men have held the doctrine of inequality has been the old prejudice of the clan added to the military fact of conquest. This is rooted very deep. It seems to show even among animals; a dog that has whipped another carries his head proudly and the whipped dog puts his tail between his legs. The small boy who has triumphed over a boy from another gang feels much like the successful dog, especially if he had an easy victory. He feels that the other boy isn't quite in his “ class.” Peoples have felt much the same way. In history we read over and over again of how one race or group conquers another and reduces it to a lower class even if it does not make its
(2) Race prejudice and conquest
people slaves. When the Normans conquered England they took the view that every Norman was a gentleman and that the English as a class were“
common.” The word native was used to mean a serf. In ancient Greece, the Spartans, a very warlike group, conquered the older inhabitants and ever after kept them in a state of inferiority. They called them Helots and looked upon them with great contempt. Sometimes the difference in color falls in with difference in fighting ability. The negro race have never been very good fighters. This has no doubt added to the prejudice against them felt by some. On the other hand, the American Indians were, in most cases, remarkable as fighters, and hence a certain romantic admiration for their bravery has tended to counterbalance prejudice arising from difference in color. The Japanese stand higher in general respect among Europeans since their war with Russia.
The third explanation for the view of inequality is (3) Not that in the past there has usually not been “ enough enough to go around.” In all human history until the Indus- for all trial Revolution the great mass of men had to work hard and long in order to get the bare means of existence. It had not been possible for many to have books or leisure, to enjoy comforts, or to have education. It is only the recent inventions and the more efficient way of working by coöperation that make possible so much education and so many of the comforts of life as we can now enjoy. In early times the only way in which any one at all could have leisure was that some one else should support him. In Athens the citizens who made the beautiful buildings and statues, who wrote the tragedies and comedies and song, who carried on the government, who laid the foundations
of our sciences, did not expect to do much manual work. They might have farms, but labor of most sorts was performed by slaves. The early settlers of America had little leisure. They worked from early until late, not because any one was oppressing them, but simply because it was impossible to get a living in any other way. If there isn't enough to go around, it may plausibly be said it is better that some one should have leisure for writing poems, painting pictures, studying, and teaching, than that there should
be no books, no pictures, no science, and no schools. (4) Prizes A fourth reason that some offer for inequality is stimulate that to strive for prizes stimulates men to do their best.
And we cannot give prizes without both recognizing differences and making these differences conspicuous. Recognition of differences and admiration for excellence are very widespread both in savage and in civilized life. Among the American Indians a man who had performed special feats of courage or strength could wear an eagle's feather. In the army the lieutenant, captain, colonel, general, have each a distinctive uniform. This is of course partly in order that it may be seen at once whether they have a right to command. But it is partly also a reward for distinguished service. In the field of education those who graduate from college receive a“ degree,” such as “bachelor of arts.” Those who go on with further study receive further degrees, such as “ doctor of medicine ” or “ doctor of philosophy.” These are in part to show whether one is competent to be a physician or a teacher, but they are also regarded as honors. In the earlier days in all our public schools spelling was usually taught orally, and it was the custom that when one missed a word he should go to the foot of the class. To be at the head of the
spelling class was an honor which made many a boy or girl work hard to master the difficult words.
Now it may be said that good clothes, a fine house, an automobile, and all the other attractive things which money can buy, are prizes. The power which a railroad president or banker or manufacturer has is a prize. It stimulates men to work harder if they have such a prize to look forward to. It stimulates invention. It makes men keen to discover the most efficient ways to carry on their business. In other words, it is a part of the general competitive idea. We cannot have prizes and competition without inequality.
Here, then, are four reasons for inequality. Let us View of now hear what is to be said for equality.
equality And first as to facts. Are men naturally unequal (1) Men or naturally equal? The Declaration of Independence are not says flatly, “ We hold these truths to be self-evident, so unequal that all men are created equal.” Is this so? We have seen that the view of “natural inequality” is that men are naturally unequal. Isn't this common sense? Is it not evident that if you take any dozen persons you meet on the street they are very different in ability, to say nothing of comparing Sir Isaac Newton or Shakespere or the author of Job with an Esquimau or a native Australian?
Before answering this question we notice that although in early days Jews and Greeks despised others, it was yet a Jew who wrote “God created man in his own image,” without making any distinctions. It was a Greek who wrote, “ We are his offspring," and a Jew with Greek education that wrote, “ He (God] made of one every nation of men.” It was a Roman, Cicero, who said over and over, “Men are equal,” “ There is nothing so like, so equal, as we all are, one with an