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become defined. With the development of the movement towards the equalisation of economic conditions throughout the world there has emerged into the view of the leading peoples a tendency, inherent in the process from the beginning, compelling capital at an ultimate stage of the process to close with the causes opposing it; and, in a sustained and organised effort, to maintain the process of exploitation in trade and industry in the world at the level of its lowest standards in human life and labour, that is to say, at the standards of the less developed races of mankind.
This is the phase of the problem which has already begun to dimly haunt the consciousness of labour in our civilisation, and which, in a hundred complex forms, already makes itself felt in the international relations of our time. Yet it was the spectacle which the late Charles H. Pearson, in the last decade of the nineteenth century, calmly contemplated as likely to be realised at no distant time, and as the natural and apparently legitimate culmination in practice of the theories of the Manchester school. The day was probably not far distant, he assured us, when we should see the races of our Western civilisation elbowed and hustled, and in large measure superseded, by the yellow races of the world, through the destiny of capital to find in these latter its most effective instruments when it proceeded in due course, and in obedience to its inherent tendencies, to wage the economic conflict throughout the world under the lowest possible standards of human life and human labour.1
1 National Life and Character, chaps. i.-iii.
The profound materialism of this final conception, which blind to the significance of the principle which our civilisation represents, and blind, therefore, to the meaning of the causes for which that civilisation has wrought and suffered for a thousand years contemplated the lower sections of the race extinguishing the higher, simply by reason of their ability to wage an economic struggle on more purely animal conditions, could hardly be carried farther. In it we see the conception of the ascendency of the present in the modern economic process which led James Mill in the early decades of the nineteenth century to assert that there was no place in the theory of society for a moral sense, as it was not required to discern "Utility," carried, as it were, to its final expression in the world process.
This is the position in Western thought with which an era closes.2 In the current literature of the social revolt throughout our civilisation, we only see, as it were, the theories of the middle decades of the nineteenth century carried to their logical application. It is, in reality, the governing idea of Bentham, the Mills,
1 Mr. Leslie Stephen, speaking of this polemic of James Mill against the moral sense theory in the dispute with Mackintosh, says justly, that it "reveals the really critical points of the true utilitarian doctrine. Mill would cut down the moral sense root and branch. The 'moral sense' means a 'particular faculty' necessary to discern right and wrong. But no particular faculty is necessary to discern' 'utility.' The utility is not the 'criterion' of the morality, but itself constitutes the morality" (The English Utilitarians, by Leslie Stephen, vol. ii. p. 321).
2 In it we see how, to use John Morley's words, "great economic and social forces flow with a tidal sweep over communities that are only half-conscious of that which is befalling them" (The Life of Richard Cobden, vol. ii. chap. xx.).
and the group of writers who developed the theories of the Manchester school in England that we encounter again in Loria's conception, as applied to modern Italy, of the dominance of the economic factor in society; in Marx's conception, as applied to our civilisation at large, of the materialistic interpretation of history; in Nietzsche's conception, as applied to the occupying classes in modern Germany, of the superlative claims of the Uebermenschen. The point of view may be altered according to the nature of the interest concerned; but the essential conception is the same in all cases the ascendency of the present in the economic process in history.
The relation to each other of all the phases of thought and action here discussed will be evident. They are all but the closely related aspects of the influence on the human mind of a single conception, the meaning of which may be said to have dominated the theory of our social progress through the democratic development of the nineteenth century, namely, that the controlling centre of the evolutionary process in the drama of human progress is in the present, and that the ascendency of the interests of the present is the end toward which the whole order of our social and political development moves. This is the conception from which the intellectual foundations have been removed.
1 Les bases économiques de la constitution sociale.—BOUCHARD. 2 The Twilight of the Idols, and Zarathustra.
To obtain some definite view of the nature of the remarkable position towards which the theory of our Western progress has been carried by recent developments in the evolutionary hypothesis, it is in the highest degree desirable that the observer should, in the first instance, endeavour, as far as possible, to detach his point of view from those more current and transient phases of social controversy which largely occupy the attention of the world.
The first step towards realising the condition of mind in which it is desirable to approach the consideration of the problem of modern progress through the medium of the biological sciences is that which every really scientific observer who has followed the trend of recent thought will in all probability have taken for himself. There is possibly no one at the present time, who has made progress towards understanding something of the governing principles of our social development, that has not arrived at a point where he has felt the necessity for definitely and finally putting away from him a conception which pervaded almost all departments of social philosophy in the past; namely, the conception that
there can be such a thing as a true science of human life and progress apart by itself. There cannot be, we must understand, such a science regarded as an isolated section of knowledge;, or in any other sense than as a department of higher biology. All that vast and complex series of phenomena, which we have in the history of our social progress, constitute, it would appear, only the last and highest phase in the history of life, the latest orderly events in a chain of law and sequence stretching back to the beginning of sentient existence. There has been only one process of development throughout: there is only one system of law therein. Every phase of the social life around us, political, economic, and ethical,1 however self-centred and self-contained it may appear to the beholders themselves, occupies, and will ap parently for ever occupy, strictly controlled and subordinate relationship to this central process of development. We must, in short, put away from us, once and for all, the idea that we can understand any part of this process as an isolated study. Its last human details - those with which the social sciences are concerned, and those in particular which carry us down into the midst of Western progress—can, like all those which have preceded them, only be studied with profit by science when we understand something of the nature of the process as a whole, and of the laws that have controlled it throughout.
1 The distinction made by Huxley (Oxford, Romanes Lecture, 1893) between the cosmic process and the ethical process is entirely superfi cial. As Huxley afterwards pointed out in a note to the lecture, it must be taken that the social life and the ethical process in virtue of which it advances towards perfection are part and parcel of the general process of evolution (cf. Evolution and Ethics, note 20, p. 114).