Democracy and Social Ethics eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 164 pages of information about Democracy and Social Ethics.

It is easy to indict the educator, to say that he has gotten entangled in his own material, and has fallen a victim to his own methods; but granting this, what has the artist done about it—­he who is supposed to have a more intimate insight into the needs of his contemporaries, and to minister to them as none other can?

It is quite true that a few writers are insisting that the growing desire for labor, on the part of many people of leisure, has its counterpart in the increasing desire for general knowledge on the part of many laborers.  They point to the fact that the same duality of conscience which seems to stifle the noblest effort in the individual because his intellectual conception and his achievement are so difficult to bring together, is found on a large scale in society itself, when we have the separation of the people who think from those who work.  And yet, since Ruskin ceased, no one has really formulated this in a convincing form.  And even Ruskin’s famous dictum, that labor without art brutalizes, has always been interpreted as if art could only be a sense of beauty or joy in one’s own work, and not a sense of companionship with all other workers.  The situation demands the consciousness of participation and well-being which comes to the individual when he is able to see himself “in connection and cooperation with the whole”; it needs the solace of collective art inherent in collective labor.

As the poet bathes the outer world for us in the hues of human feeling, so the workman needs some one to bathe his surroundings with a human significance—­some one who shall teach him to find that which will give a potency to his life.  His education, however simple, should tend to make him widely at home in the world, and to give him a sense of simplicity and peace in the midst of the triviality and noise to which he is constantly subjected.  He, like other men, can learn to be content to see but a part, although it must be a part of something.

It is because of a lack of democracy that we do not really incorporate him in the hopes and advantages of society, and give him the place which is his by simple right.  We have learned to say that the good must be extended to all of society before it can be held secure by any one person or any one class; but we have not yet learned to add to that statement, that unless all men and all classes contribute to a good, we cannot even be sure that it is worth having.  In spite of many attempts we do not really act upon either statement.



Throughout this volume we have assumed that much of our ethical maladjustment in social affairs arises from the fact that we are acting upon a code of ethics adapted to individual relationships, but not to the larger social relationships to which it is bunglingly applied.  In addition, however, to the consequent strain and difficulty, there is often an honest lack of perception as to what the situation demands.

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Democracy and Social Ethics from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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