The Conservative (Nebraska City, Neb.) 1898-1902, October 06, 1898, Page 5, Image 5

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f * *
'Cbe Conservative.
ness to which ho can nfctnin during his
life on earth , the product of nil history
and all philosophy up to this time is
summed up in the doctrine , that ho
should be left free to do the most for
himself that ho can , and should be guar
anteed the exclusive enjoyment of all
that he docs. If the society that is to
say , in plain terms , if his fellow-men ,
either individually , by groups , or in a
mass impinge upon him otherwise
than to surround him with neutral con
ditions of security , they must do so
under the strictest responsibility to jus
tify themselves. Jealousy and preju
dice against all such interferences are
high political virtues in a free man. It
is not at all the function of a state to
make men happy. They must make
themselves happy in their own way , and
at their own risk. The functions of the
state lie entirely in the conditions or
chances under which the pursuit of hap
piness is carried on , so far as those con
ditions or chances can bo affected by
civil organization. Hence , liberty for
labor and security for earnings are the
ends for which civil institutions exist ,
not means which may bo employed for
ulterior ends.
Now , the cardinal doctrine of any
sound political system is , that rights and
duties should be in
EQUAL RIGHTS. equilibrium. A
monarchical or aristocratic system is
not immoral , if the rights and duties of
persons and classes are in equilibrium ,
although the rights and duties of differ
ent persons and classes are unequal.
An immoral political system is created
whenever there are privileged classes
that is , classes who have arrogated to
themselves rights while throwing the
duties upon others. In a democracy all
have equal political rights. That is the
fundamental political principle. A
democracy , then , becomes immoral , if
all have not equal political duties. This
is unquestionably the doctrine which
needs to bo reiterated and inculcated
beyond all others , if the democracy is to
lie made sound and permanent. Our
orators and writers never speak of it ,
and do not seem often to know anything
about it ; but the real danger of demo
cracy is , that the classes which have the
power under it will assume all the
rights and reject all the duties that is ,
they will use the political power to
plunder those-who-havo. Democracy ,
in order to be true to itself , and to de
velop into a sound working system ,
must oppose the same cold resistance to
any claims for favor on the ground of
poverty , as on the ground of birth and
rank. It can no more admit to public
discussion , as within the range of pos
sible action , any schemes for coddling
and helping wage-receivers than it could
entertain schemes for restricting politi
cal power to wage-payers. It must put
down schemes for making the "rich"
pay for whatever the "poor" want , just
as it tramples on the old theories that
only the rich are lit to regulate society.
One needs but to watch our periodical
literature to see the danger that demo
cracy will bo construed as a system of
favoring a now privileged class of the
many and the poor.
Holding in mind , now , the notions of
liberty and democracy as wo have de
fined them , wo see that it is not alto
gether a matter of fanfaronade when
the American citizen calls .himself a
"sovereign. " A member of a free demo
cracy is , in a sense , a sovereign. Ho has
no superior. Ho has reached liis sovereignty
eignty , however , by a process of reduc
tion and division of power which leaves
him no inferior. It is very grand to call
one's self a sovereign , but it is greatly
to the purpose to notice that the politi
cal responsibilities of the free man. have
boon intensified and aggregated just in
proportion as political rights have been
reduced and divided. Many monarehs
have been incapable of sovereignty and
unfit for it. Placed in exalted situations ,
and inheritors of grand opportunities ,
they have exhibited only their own im
becility and vice. The reason was ,
because they thought only of the grati
fication of their own vanity , and not at
all of their ditty. The free man who
steps forward to claim his inheritance
and endowment as a free and equal
member of a great civil body must un
derstand that his duties and responsi
bilities are measured to him by the sauio
scale as his rights and his powers. He
wants to bo subject to no man. Ho
wants to bo equal to his follows , as all
sovereigns are equal. So be it ; but he
cannot escape the deduction that he can
call no man to his aid. The other sov
ereigns will not respect his independence
if he becomes dependent , and they can
not respect his equality if ho sues for
favors. The free man in a free demo
cracy , when ho cut off all the ties which
might pull him down , severed also all the
ties by which he might have made
others pull him up. Ho must take all
the consequences of his now status. He
is , in a certain sense , an isolated man.
The family tie does not bring to him
disgrace for the misdeeds of his rela
tives , as it once would have done , but
neither does it furnish him with the
support which it once would have given.
The relations of men are open and free ,
but they are also loose. A free man in
a free democracy derogates from his
rank if ho takes a favor for which ho
does not render an equivalent.
A free man in a free democracy has
no duty whatever toward other men of
the same rank and
standingj except
respect , courtesy , and good-will. Wo
cannot say that there are no classes ,
when we are speaking politically , and
then say that there are classes , when wo
are telling A what it is his duty to defer
for B. In a free state every man is held
and expected to take care of himself and
Ms family , to make no trouble for his
neighbor , and to contribute his full
share to public interests and common
necessities. If ho fails in this ho throws
burdens on others. Ho does not there
by acquire rights against the others.
On the contrary , ho only accumulates
obligations towards them ; and if ho is
allowed to make his deficiencies a
ground of now claims , ho passes over
into the position of a privileged or
petted person emancipated from duties ,
endowed with claims. This is the inev
itable result of combining democratic
political theories with humanitarian
social theories. It would be aside from
my present purpose to show , but it is
worth noticing in passing , that ono re
sult of such inconsistency must surely
be to undermine democracy , to increase
the power of wealth in the democracy ,
and to hasten the subjection of demo
cracy to plutocracy ; for a man who
accepts any share which ho has not
earned in another man's capital cannot
bo an independent citizen.
It is often affirmed that the educated
and wealthy have an obligation to those
wll ° hllVO 1(3SS ( ( iA'
UClltio11 nUfl lm > '
KDUCATHD. perty , just because
the latter have po
litical equality with the former , and
oracles and warnings are uttered about
Avhat will happen if the uneducated
classes who have the suffrage are not
instructed at the care and expense of the
other classes. In this view of the matter -
tor universal suffrage is not a measure
for Kh-i'iitjllii'iiiny the state by bringing
to its support the aid and aifeetion of
all classes , but it is a now burden , and ,
in fact , a peril. who favor ii
represent it as a peril. This doctrine is
politically immoral and vicious. "When
a community establishes universal . - > uf-
frage , it is as if it said to each new
comer , or to each young man : "We
give you every chance that any ono else
has. Now come along with us ; take
care of yourself , and contribute your
share to the burdens which we all have
to bear in order to support social insti
tutions. " Certainly , liberty , and uni
versal suffrage , and democracy are not
pledges of care and protection , but they
carry with them the exaction of indi
vidual responsibility. The state gives
equal rights and equal chances just be
cause it does not mean to give any
thing else. It sets each man on his
feet and gives him leave to run just be
cause it does not mean to carry him.
Having obtained his chances , ho must
take upon himself the responsibility for
his own success or failure. It is a pure
misfortune to the community , and ono
which will redound to its injury , if any
man has boon endowed with political
power who is a heavier burden then
than ho was before ; but it cannot bo
said that there is any new duty created
for the good citizens toward the bad by
the fact that the bad citizens are a harm
to the state ,