Postscript To Yesterday- Wise Words From The Past

Wise Words From The Past

Quote from Postscript To Yesterday

by

Lloyd Morris dated 1947

William Graham Sumner

     pp. 477-78

     Looking at democracy, as the years passed, (Graham) Sumner became apprehensive about its future.  It would have to meet two grave dangers, both of which originated in the mounting antagonism of those-who-have and those-who-have-not.  The latter, being in the numerical majority, possessed effective political power.  He surmised that they would use it to make the government an instrument for improving their situation- as he saw it, to plunder the successful and wealthy.  Already, reformers and humanitarians– he denounced them, scornfully, as crackpots and meddlers– were proposing schemes for the alleviation of economic hardship, and social injustice, by government action.  All such schemes rested on the assumption that social evolution is amenable to social control.  Sumner declared this to be nonsense.  If these misguided demagogues had their way– and they were being abetted by labor leaders, clergymen, and certain segments of the press– democracy would be construed as a system of favoring a new privileged class of the many and the poor.  To develop into a sound working system, Sumner urged, democracy must oppose a cold resistance to any claims for favor on the ground of poverty and hardship.  Once such claims were admitted as valid, the way was paved for socialism.  They involved a renunciation of liberty, as he saw it, and he deplored a growing tendency among Americans to want somebody to come and help them to be free.  Men had always failed of freedom, he siad, not because they had been enslaved, but because the price of liberty was too high and too great for them.  Rather than pay the price, they preferred servitude, and they got it.

     Our situation about as clear as it can be made.

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