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not irritated easily enough by men or by matters which ought to infuriate us, if we wish to better ourselves. We are too much like pink little pigs, with our snouts buried in the swill. We do not mind the smell in the least. And we are satisfied as long as we take in enough nourishment.

It is the esthetic side of our natures which must be improved before we force our other functions forward. I do not mean by esthetic any love of beauty, as artists speak of it. I mean simply what the Greek word means, as sensing and perceiving of the forms and flavors and activities of the world wherein we live. Here, more than in the realm of reason, lies one of the immense driving-powers of humanity.

More men with abnormal noses who rebel savagely at every open garbage-can!

More women with abnormal eyes who, infuriated at the sight of billboards along our highways, attack and burn these monstrosities in monstrosities in frenzied mobs!

More citizens with abnormal morality who exclude from their homes and clubs such scum as the blackmailing journalist, the the crooked banker, and the blue-sky stock swindler, with the same deeply esthetic motive that moves them to sprinkle cockroach powder around their drainpipes!

More freaks with abnormal curiosity who are delighted to spend their lives nosing into questionable affairs

of business and politics, just to see what's going on there!

More eccentrics with abnormal fears who go up and down the world sniffing for evils, perils, epidemics, impending railway collisions, cyclones, and dope-peddlers!

More cranks with abnormal artistry who annoy us all with their demands that we beautify our parks, our front lawns, our shirt-fronts, our religions, our moral systems, and our teeth!

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Because, beloved subjects, I defend and help all such abnormally sensitive folk, I hereby forgive the Biological Bloc for their mistaken zeal in behalf of their Eugenical Bills. I recognize that they too are just such hypersensitives. They have been moved solely by their hypersensitive family pride and patriotism and herd fears. That their sensitivity has exceeded their logic is not to be held against them. Let them go forth blameless from the throneroom! Let them go right on wondering and imagining strange dangers to the human race! the human race! Maybe one out of a hundred of all their fears may some day turn out well founded. Then we shall have occasion to bless them. After all, we must not expect more than one new truth from any man in his lifetime. Even one such from every hypersensitive in a lifetime would create an appalling surplus of truths which the world could not absorb at any price.

I

LIBERTY TO LIVE BY

In One Sense, at Least, We Are Free in Spite of Ourselves

JOHN ERSKINE

N our Fourth of July addresses each season there is a certain shift of meaning when we speak of liberty. Both the audience and the orator are aware of the change, and of recent years the word has been somewhat avoided, perhaps because it now seems unreliable. No doubt the early patriots, whose memory of the Revolution was fresh, meant political freedom when they said liberty, and certain discriminating and far-sighted citizens may have realized, perhaps, that the Colonies had achieved economic independence. Nowadays neither political nor economic liberty is for the average man a vital issue; perhaps no kind of liberty is desirable; are we not frequently told that liberty is another term for license? If our elders remark that our manners are free, they mean no compliment.

Strange that we haven't long ago recognized liberty, not as a virtue, nor as a state which necessarily has to be worked for, but as a natural endowment of American life. In one sense, at least, we are free in spite of ourselves. The size of the country insures it. When the early settlers arrived in this vast territory, they encountered few limitations of their freedom. Natural hardships were here, but they overcame them

with surprising speed, if we reckon decades against the long background of history. Since they brought with them a high degree of civilization already achieved, they were spared the centuries of discipline which went to the making of any other modern nation. America was discovered when the colonists learned that more than other people they could do much as they pleased. This is still our privilege-if liberty is a privilege. It may be wise for a moment to consider liberty neither a privilege nor a handicap, but, in America at least, an inevitable characteristic of life.

Hasty objection might be made that the first settlers exhibited extraordinary character and extraordinary sense of discipline. Doesn't the same tradition of discipline persist in what we call our puritanism, or in conservative public opinion in all our communities, large and small? small? Quite true. But American puritanism and American public opinion have a quality not likely to occur except in a land where liberty is a natural condition. To make any impression on a vast scattered community, public opinion has to be rather strident, over-aggressive, a little hard-and because of this effort the impression it makes may

be ridiculous and negligible. When citizens who follow among us a wise tradition of behavior wish to guide the rest of the community, they too must become aggressive, and they may amuse more than they convince us. As individuals they could not hope to move the large and inert mass, so they organize. We are the land of organized virtue. Our most sincere morality and undoubted good-will comes to be presided over by a chairman, a vice-president and secretary, with a system of annual dues. If in our best moments we are somewhat laughable to the rest of the world, it is not because of any meanness or mistake in our motives, but because even a colossal organization is ineffective in a land which, as long as it wishes to, can remain free.

The success of the first settlers in this country, after all, was due not to a discipline imposed on them by others, but to a responsibility which they themselves assumed. In small countries which have grown slowly for many centuries, and which are now densely populated, public opinion can act normally with a certain flexible mercy and understanding, and with undoubted effect. But think what centuries of development went into building up the fine traditions of England, for example what patience and what varied experience in the home, in the school, in society at large; and society at large in England was never very large, after all. The land is compact, and it is now full of people. What would have happened if into an almost empty England a migration had occurred of people infinitely further advanced in civilization than the old Saxons and Danes, but not

numerous enough to fill the territory? Whatever else, the English traditions behind English public opinion probably would not have been born. At times some of us hope to solve our American problems by introducing, into the country which imposes freedom upon us, the traditions of an old and smaller, and therefore disciplined, country; but all those who transplant hither philosophies of life which could never be produced here run the danger of seeming to their fellows humorous-imitators of foreign habits, strangers in their own or any other land. For us, given the conditions of the country, its enormous size, the consequent inadequacy of any police force-an inadequacy which must remain; given also our extraordinary distribution of mechanical devices; given the motor-car, which enables almost any citizen to travel where and when he pleases, at whatever speed he likes; given our public libraries and the accessibility of information and ideas-for us the only kind of government is one of personal responsibility, after a frank admission that little besides our conscience will constrain us.

This is not an exaggerated account of our liberty. It is true that we have a costly government in most of the States, and a still more costly one at Washington. It is true that the statute-books are burdened with laws, and prodigious sums of money are voted and spent to enforce a few of them. It is also true, however, that many of the laws which are not strictly enforced are better obeyed than others on which millions are spent. In one case the intelligence and the sense of responsibility of the

citizens have been roused. In the other, the government has proceeded on the false assumption that there are enough police in the world to make Americans live as they don't

want to.

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Not the government alone makes this mistake; it is a curious obsession among us all, who ought to know ourselves better. In this condition In this condition of liberty which we manage to preserve for our own use, most of us believe our fellows would be improved by more guidance. We credit them with good-will, but we play with the idea that a little compulsion from the outside would develop their virtues. What a queer appearance we make before the eyes of other countries as we continue to mix futile attempts to curtail the liberty of our neighbors with a calm disregard of all such attempts made at our expense! It will perhaps seem a puzzle to the historian, if he concerns himself about it-why we let others seem to impose their will on us, or what pleasure they could possibly have got from supposing that they did impose their will.

A characteristic illustration of this mixture occurs whenever a university or a church or school appeals for large gifts. These objects are admirable, and the natural supposition would be that people interested in them would feel responsible for their proper support. Our method, however, is to engage some expert money-raisers-managers of a drive, as we call it—who of course are paid for their labors by a percentage of the returns or otherwise. They undertake to bring pressure on the supposed friends of the cause. The

supposed friends of the cause, however, instinctively resist the pressure, and usually the drive does not succeed beyond a certain fractional point. The net result is that the sense of freedom in possible subscribers has been delicately offended; to those who wanted the money, however, the efficiency of such drives seems to be demonstrated. Other aspects of this paradox we overlook for the moment-the anomaly, for example, of trying to cultivate loyalty and affection in so commercial a way. What concerns us here is our complete ignoring of the liberty we actually enjoy. After all, what we give in response to such drives is voluntary; nobody can compel us; nobody with an eye on the facts would think he could compel us.

A more recent attempt to invade our liberty, which is likely to end in a similar condition of paradox and failure, is illustrated by the various commercial ventures which pretend to choose a book for us to read each month. Their advertisements sound plausible, if we are not on our guard. They imply that excellent literature is constantly overlooked by the reading public only because in this busy world we haven't time to read all and find out what is best. A small group of devoted philanthropists have decided to scan the field and pick out the best for us. At its worst this sort of scheme would be a serious menace to the intellectual liberty of every intelligent man and woman. If they could succeed, the power of all such commercial ventures over our intellectual life would be fantastic. No program of censorship yet proposed would be so far reaching. As a matter of fact,

we are led to believe that thousands of people do subscribe to such enterprises. Yet here the American paradox shows itself. Having subscribed to a book a month to be chosen for them by a jury, the American public then insists on returning the book, if they don't like it. In other words, the liberty in which we habitually live is too comfortable to throw off all at once. There are lands in There are lands in which literary juries of proved authority do choose certain books each month, which are subscribed to by readers who wish to follow the taste of such authorities. It is easily conceivable, for example, that if Bernard Shaw, or H. G. Wells, or Arthur Schnitzler, or Romain Roland, should choose each month the book he personally prefers, thousands of people, because of his name, would wish to read the book. But this could happen only in an old and disciplined country where authority of all kinds, literary authority included, has been built up. The typical American would reserve the right to disagree with any one of these men. The attempt, therefore, to choose a book for him develops in practice into nothing more extraordinary than plain book-marketing under the mask of a critical choice.

In both these illustrations one can easily regret a lack of responsibility either on the part of those who ought to subscribe to good works, or of those who ought to seek out and read good books. Let us grant that we none of us live up to our duties in this and some other matters. But if we are willing to grant also that the peculiar circumstances of American life force us to do our duty in a state

of freedom, we have the right to ask whether a fictitious discipline can do anything for us but harm. The financial drive takes out of our gifts the spontaneity and the pleasure which ought to be in them; it takes away from the givers the credit which is really theirs and bestows it on the company which "put the drive over." The various book clubs, if they were thoroughly effective, would take from the genuine reader the habit of browsing and sampling, the invaluable habit of forming his taste in accord with the needs of his own character. None of our schemes for improving each other, even supposing they are quite sincere, makes provision for that increase of responsibility in us which must occur before we can live wisely in our freedom.

On the other hand, there are plenty of instances familiar to us all of responsibility properly assumed. They occur where there is no silly or fictitious compulsion. On a lonely road almost every citizen drives his motor-car carefully to the right as he goes around the traffic post. The chances are slight of his being arrested for making a left turn in the wrong place. But his sense of cooperation has been enlisted in the safety of all who drive on the roads, and in this respect he has become a responsible citizen. The laws which he will not obey, on the other hand, are too obvious to mention, and the reason why they cannot be enforced is simple enough; for the same reason the punitive expedition which President Wilson sent into Mexico failed to catch Villa-there was too much room in Mexico; where there is room there is liberty.

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