The Theory of Social Revolutions eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 153 pages of information about The Theory of Social Revolutions.
which now lie beyond legal jurisdiction.  If it be objected that the American people are incapable of an effort so prodigious, I readily admit that this may be true, but I also contend that the objection is beside the issue.  What the American people can or cannot do is a matter of opinion, but that social changes are imminent appears to be almost certain.  Though these changes cannot be prevented, possibly they may, to a degree, be guided, as Washington guided the changes of 1789.  To resist them perversely, as they were resisted at the Chicago Convention of 1912, can only make the catastrophe, when it comes, as overwhelming as was the consequent defeat of the Republican party.

Approached thus, that Convention of 1912 has more than a passing importance, since it would seem to indicate the ordinary phenomenon, that a declining favored class is incapable of appreciating an approaching change of environment which must alter its social status.  I began with the proposition that, in any society which we now understand, civilization is equivalent to order, and the evidence of the truth of the proposition is, that amidst disorder, capital and credit, which constitute the pith of our civilization, perish first.  For more than a century past, capital and credit have been absolute, or nearly so; accordingly it has not been the martial type which has enjoyed sovereignty, but the capitalistic.  The warrior has been the capitalists’ servant.  But now, if it be true that money, in certain crucial directions, is losing its purchasing power, it is evident that capitalists must accept a position of equality before the law under the domination of a type of man who can enforce obedience; their own obedience, as well as the obedience of others.  Indeed, it might occur, even to some optimists, that capitalists would be fortunate if they could certainly obtain protection for another fifty years on terms as favorable as these.  But at Chicago, capitalists declined even to consider receding to a secondary position.  Rather than permit the advent of a power beyond their immediate control, they preferred to shatter the instrument by which they sustained their ascendancy.  For it is clear that Roosevelt’s offence in the eyes of the capitalistic class was not what he had actually done, for he had done nothing seriously to injure them.  The crime they resented was the assertion of the principle of equality before the law, for equality before the law signified the end of privilege to operate beyond the range of law.  If this principle which Roosevelt, in theory at least, certainly embodied, came to be rigorously enforced, capitalists perceived that private persons would be precluded from using the functions of sovereignty to enrich themselves.  There lay the parting of the ways.  Sooner or later almost every successive ruling class has had this dilemma in one of its innumerable forms presented to them, and few have had the genius to compromise while compromise was possible.  Only a generation ago the aristocracy of the South deliberately chose a civil war rather than admit the principle that at some future day they might have to accept compensation for their slaves.

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The Theory of Social Revolutions from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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