THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE BUSINESS SPECIALIST
Before seeking to trace the consequences and the significance of this specialized organization of American practical affairs, we must examine its origin with some care. An exact and complete understanding thereof will in itself afford an unmistakable hint of the way in which its consequences are to be appraised, and wherever necessary, corrected. The great and increasing influence of the new unofficial leaders has been due not only to economic conditions and to individual initiative, but to the nature of our political ideas and institutions. The traditional American theory was that the individual should have a free hand. In so far as he was subject to public regulation and control such control should be exercised by local authorities, whereof the result would be a happy combination of individual prosperity and public weal. But this expectation, as we have seen, has proved to be erroneous. While it has, indeed, resulted in individual prosperity, the individual who has reaped most of the prosperity is not the average, but the special man; and however the public may have benefited from the process, the benefit is mixed with so many drawbacks that, even if it may not be wholly condemned, it certainly cannot be wholly approved. The plain fact is that the individual in freely and energetically pursuing his own private purposes has not been the inevitable public benefactor assumed by the traditional American interpretation of democracy. No doubt he has incidentally accomplished, in the pursuit of his own aggrandizement, certain manifest public benefits; but wherever public and private advantages have conflicted, he has naturally preferred the latter. And under our traditional political system there was, until recently, no effective way of correcting his preference.