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Goodwin's weekly : a thinking paper for thinking people. [volume] (Salt Lake City, Utah) 1902-1929, July 27, 1912, Image 10

Image and text provided by University of Utah, Marriott Library

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/2010218519/1912-07-27/ed-1/seq-10/

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I 10 GOODWIN'S WEEKLY
1 THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE STATE
H The present generation in the
H United States is revising its theories
IH of the proper limits of state inter-
M ference with private affairs. Within
B a decade we have witnessed the es-
H iabllshmont of regulation of the rail-
H toads and other public utilities, and
H in the field of social legislation there
H has been an increasing assumption
H of control over the individual. This
H modification of the strict doctrine of
H laissez faire is the most marked char-
B acteristic of the drift in our political
H and social life, and as the tendency
H seems rather to accelerate tlian to
abate thero is no topic which it be
hooves the thinking American to pon
der more than this says the Chicago
Tribune.
Thero is no doubt that the natural
policy of special privilege to seize
upon the laissoz faire dootrine in self
defense has discredited what was and
is a highly idealistic theory of hu
man relations. It is difficult for this
generation, which is waking sharply
to the defects of laissoz faire and to
the human evils which wore permitted
to grow up under it, to do justice to
it. The power that misuse liberty
are the worst enemies of liberty, and
while selfish and shortsighted ogot-
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1
ism is exploiting humanity and de
veloping social disease Under the" holy
name of freedom, it is not easy to bo
just.
So perhaps today wo are already in
clined to neglect What is good in the
individualist point of view and to
brush aside the wholesome fear our
forefathers felt of the interference of
the state in iprivate affairs. What we
need is clear thinking to avoid a hasty
acceptance of plausible extensions of
public control and at the same time
a sane refusal to be balked of real
social betterments by academic theor
ies of individual rights or vague fears
of "paternalism."
An excellent discussion of principles
underlying the relations of the state
to the individual is that of the distin
guished English sociologist, Prof. Hob
house, in the concluding lecture of
a series delivered at Columbia last
year and now published under the
title, "Social Evolution and Political
Theory." Prof. Hobhouse is better
able to clarify our thought about the
vexed claims of the social meliorlst
and put us in harmony with the beat
social effort of the day than individu
alists like the late Prof. Sumner or his
BritiBh predecessors of the heyday of
laissez faire.
Especially timely is the reminder
that the assumed anthithesis between
the rights of the individual and the
welfare of the state, 'between liberty
and restraint, is a false anthithesis.
If liberty is a social conception, there
can be no liberty without social re
straint. If all restraints are removed
one person may enjoy absolute lib
erty. But his liberty will work some
other person's restraint. ' Exces3 of
liberty contradicts Itself," says Prof.
Hobhouse; "there is only liberty for
one and restraint for another." To
establish liberty, therefore, is a prob
lem of organizing restraints.
If American judges of the laissez
faire school had grasped this truth
wo should not have had some of the
remarkable decisions upon the "life,
liberty, and property" clause of the
fourteenth amendment, decisions which
have bred the profound distrust and
hostility to courts now manifest in
the United States. We should not
have had a solemn -judicial declara
tion that a statute prohibiting wo
men from working more hours than
normal strength and well being al
low, was a denial of their "liberty."
A3 to the sphere of the state, Prof.
Hobhouse defines it as to secure
"those common ends in which uni
formity or, more generally, concerted
action is necessary." On the other
hand, he holds that "purposes which
can be secured without compelling
the adhesion of those who do not ac
cept them fall naturally within the
sphere of individual enterprise and
voluntary co-operation."
Space is not available to summarize
thU suggestive essay which, with the
others in the volume, it is hoped will
be widely read. But one further quo
tation is indulged in as admirably stat
in? th wise social and politioal tend
ency of our day. The value of liberty,
Prof Hubhouse finely says, "is to build
up the life of the mind, while the
(Continued on Pago 11 )
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