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.

A thousand other instances of similar incapacity might be adduced, but I will content myself with this alone.

Briefly the precedents induce the inference that privileged classes seldom have the intelligence to protect themselves by adaptation when nature turns against them, and, up to the present moment, the old privileged class in the United States has shown little promise of being an exception to the rule.

Be this, however, as it may, and even assuming that the great industrial and capitalistic interests would be prepared to assist a movement toward consolidation, as their ancestors assisted Washington, I deem it far from probable that they could succeed with the large American middle class, which naturally should aid, opposed, as it seems now to be, to such a movement.  Partially, doubtless, this opposition is born of fear, since the lesser folk have learned by bitter experience that the powerful have yielded to nothing save force, and therefore that their only hope is to crush those who oppress them.  Doubtless, also, there is the inertia incident to long tradition, but I suspect that the resistance is rather due to a subtle and, as yet, nearly unconscious instinct, which teaches the numerical majority, who are inimical to capital, that the shortest and easiest way for them to acquire autocratic authority is to obtain an absolute mastery over those political tribunals which we call courts.  Also that mastery is being by them rapidly acquired.  So long as our courts retain their present functions no comprehensive administrative reform is possible, whence I conclude that the relation which our courts shall hold to politics is now the fundamental problem which the American people must solve, before any stable social equilibrium can be attained.

Theodore Roosevelt’s enemies have been many and bitter.  They have attacked his honesty, his sobriety, his intelligence, and his judgment, but very few of them have hitherto denied that he has a keen instinct for political strife.  Only of late has this gift been doubted, but now eminent politicians question whether he did not make a capital mistake when he presented the reform of our courts of law, as expounders of the Constitution, as one of his two chief issues, in his canvass for a nomination for a third presidential term.

After many years of study of, and reflection upon, this intricate subject I have reached the conviction that, though Mr. Roosevelt may have erred in the remedy which he has suggested, he is right in the principle which he has advanced, and in my next chapter I propose to give the evidence and explain the reasons which constrain me to believe that American society must continue to degenerate until confusion supervenes, if our courts shall remain semi-political chambers.


[1] Charles River Bridge v.  Warren Bridge, II Peters, 608, 609.

[2] Fitchburg R.R. v.  Gage, 12 Gray 393, and innumerable cases following it.

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