THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE FUNCTIONS OF THE STATE.
34. A discussion of the functions and the purpose of the state from the point of view of the underlying principles may quite as well start from the question as to what classes of activity the state should leave to private initiative, as from the correlative question stated from the opposite point of view, viz., what func tions the state should assume in order to round out the individual life of its members.
Every investigation that proceeds from the historical stand point sees in the state a process of growth, in the course of which both the structure of the state itself and the trend of development in the social life of the community undergoes a progressive adaptation to the requirements of the unfolding national life. The meaning of the state's activity, the bearing of the so-called encroachment of the state upon the private life of the society which it comprises, is ever conditioned in the course of this historical development by the stage of culture already attained at any given point of time. So that the degree of culture attained at the same time indicates the height and amplitude of the state's proper activity ; a scanty culture expresses itself in a scant measure of national development. For this reason any discussion which aims at an elucidation of the general principles which are to govern the limits between state action and private initiative will be futile if it does not take account of this pro cess of historical growth. It is only on the basis of a definite consciousness of social aims, and therefore only on the supposi tion that a certain definite stage of culture has been attained, that we are able to say anything as to where and why the line should be drawn.
We must also not allow ourselves to be deceived by the pos sibility of fluctuations to one side and to the other in points of detail as to what matters the requirements of advancing culture may intrust to private initiative on the one hand, and to state action on the other ; the main fact remains that what we have to do with is an ever swelling stream which irresistibly carries forward the progressive development of the functions of the state,—provided only that the general culture continues to advance.
It may very well happen that in matters of detail the state will withdraw its hand from a variety of activities, or at least that the hand of the state may not continue to bear upon a given point with the same weight as before ; but this is nothing more than such an alteration or contraction in the aggregate functions of the state as is much more than compensated for by the multi plicity of new duties which an advancing culture is continually urging upon the state on every side.
It is therefore true that a comparison of our own times with the state of the last century gives the impression that a prepon derance in the degree of state activity and state control rests now on one side, now on the other,—here with the earlier, there with the later era. Which term of the comparison is to carry off the palm will depend on the point of view from which we con template the old times and the new. The preponderance seems to belong with the earlier state in so far as regard is had to the recklessness with which, in the earlier times, the life of the individual was constrained by the superior discretion of the administrative authorities—the degree to which, in the thousand and one petty affairs of everyday life, of business and pleasure, of. morals and religion, the magistracy meddled with pedantic hand. But the picture changes as soon as attention is called to the fact that the space afforded by the widening of the sphere of private life and the corresponding lightening of the duties of the state has been filled by a body of new state functions, which may, in principle, have been contained in the theory of the earlier state, but which still are of so novel a character and of such considerable magnitude that, taken altogether, the ancient state and its economy are dwarfed by comparison with the state of the present.
§35 But magnae molis erat romanam condere gentem. From the beginnings of national development to the stage at which we stand—even though that point is very far short of the con summation of development—is a long and irksome way. J. G. Hoffmann, in the introduction to his Lehre von den Steuern, very aptly says : "The delusion that security of life and property, the productivity of labor, and the consequent possibility of acquisition and enjoyment, and even the elevation of the spirit ual and the ennobling of the moral nature—that all these good gifts come to man in the guise of gratuities, is itself a proof of the advanced stage of culture which the greater part of Europe at present occupies. As the grown man has long since forgotten the pains it cost him to learn to speak, so have the peoples, in the days of the mature growth of the state, forgotten what was required in order to free them from their primitive brutal savagery." In point of fact, how significant was the involuntary testimony which the eighteenth century, with its repudiation of the historic state and its yearning after the primordial state of nature, bore to the blessings of the inherited culture which it ungratefully enjoyed. For the yearning after a state of nature was possible only on condition that all those achievements which separate man from the real state of nature were assumed as spontaneously existing. The craving was for an escape from the refinement of a civilization which had turned its back upon nature, but by no means fora return to the actual conditions of primitive culture, to the "primitive state of Nature, where man is man's enemy" ; it was a craving for a paradise of amiable innocence and sim plicity, such as had for thousands of years filled the childish day of the peoples. It was in fact an instance of that oft noticed optical illusion of the human spirit, by means of whlih the images seen by poetic fancy in the remote future are reflected back into the remote past ; an illusion which was made possible by, and which will ever recur as an outcome of, a method of his torical study that sees in the past not so much what has actually taken place as what it is thought desirable should have taken place.
Accordingly it also came to pass that the word "Nature" acquired such a shifting, iridescent sense as to leave it uncertain whether it was not employed rather as an expression of the demands of the new departure than as a serious claim with respect to the character of what lay in the past. And as a matter of fact we have come to see in the course of our Grundlegung (vol. i.), that the concepts of "Nature" and "Natural" as employed in Political Science have long been in an unsettled state, and have only lately acquired a substantial consistency through the means of profounder research.
§ 36. It lies not within our power to reverse the current of history. But each succeeding period in the course of history contains in itself the whole stupendous difference between one epoch and another, in that it comprehends a variety of races and of state organizations.
The eighteenth century was by no means without a knowledge of and an interest in this sort of comparative study. And all the more remarkable is the dominant influence exerted by the veil through which they were wont to see these obvious facts and in virtue of which their affections went out toward the fancied innocence of the "children of nature." An historical research of such abundant fruitfulness has by this time so prepared the way for our study that the daily increasing wealth of observation of primitive stages of culture which now offers itself affords us a veritable laboratory of ethnology.
And this not only speculatively. An increasing commercial intercourse with such primitive races, in which also the German people is now daily coming to be more and more concerned, affords abundant opportunity in practical life for modern civilized man to rid himself of the illusions which have veiled the actual course of national development from his eyes. It is brought home to him immediately in his own person—as a matter of life and limb —what a debt of gratitude he owes for the security afforded by that ancient fatherland from which he has taken his way out into the outlying regions of humanity as it exists in a state of nature. The horrors of primitive savagery which threaten him, and which make all life precarious from day to day, help him to appreciate the enormous interval between his home and his foreign environ ment.
Here, in the absence of state organization, he learns to understand the hard necessity out of which sprang the earliest efforts of mankind in the direction of order and security.
37. This primary need, which so laboriously lays the foundations of all human development, furnishes an explanation of the fact that the culture of all peoples is for many centuries of its earlier stages occupied with the establishment of authority and order. These are the necessary conditions of growth for any higher or more complex culture. Such is the case even under the exceptionally propitious circumstances of that favored branch of the human race which has occupied the foreground, or rather has alone occupied the stage of history. In the meantime the great number of other peoples have never succeeded in establish ing this primary condition, but on the contrary, in their attempt to lay a secure foundation for an orderly social life, have been toiling and struggling in vain from the very beginning down to the present under the never-ending curse of pristine violence.
European humanity, destined to the attainment of a highly developed culture, has, during these last centuries, reached an amplitude of national development which seems very far removed from the rudeness of primitive times. But this European humanity has also passed through a protracted struggle, and the sole effort of their states for a long time past has been directed to the establishment of that reign of order under which each individual citizen rejoices in the security of person and property.
§ 38. The well-worn concept of a " civil- (legal-) state " [Rechtsstaat] is sometimes contrasted with the other concept of a "police-state" or a state organized for the public welfare, or again, with the "culture-state." This shifting of the contrast shows that the content of the idea is a variable one. In the in which it has been handed down to us by the philosophy of the last century, the idea covers simply that fundamental function of the state which secures to each member of the social organism the enjoyment of his rights. The second meaning of the " civil state " which has been brought into the foreground in our own time on the contrary has come to terms with the more compre hensive modern range of state activity, and has accordingly no quarrel with the " welfare-state " or the "culture-state," but quarrels only with the "police-state," and even this only in the more objectionable sense of the word ; that is when it is used to denote a state that rules by the method of arbitrary discre tion as contrasted with a state that governs under the forms of law.
Even our political terminology has been at great pains to emancipate the concept of the earlier " civil-state " from the restrictions of its narrow meaning ; still the service rendered by history in exhibiting to us the civil-state in this narrower sense is none the less important.
The most primitive institutions of the Germanic common wealth with which we are acquainted do after all mean nothing further than a coincidence of law with force. The individual member of the commonwealth enjoyed security for his own person and possessions just in so far as he, being an able-bodied man, could make his claim good. The coincidence of the fran chise with the ability to bear arms is a simple consequence of the conditions in which the primitive state is placed. What the modern poet expresses in high-flown words and in meta phorical language—" He alone deserves liberty, as well as life, who daily has to conquer it "—holds true literally of these peoples.
Advancing human culture has not stood its final test until it has successfully abolished the necessity for this union in the same person of order and the force which secures it. So long as that has not been accomplished there is but this single alternative offered : either every man must put all his energies into the struggle for the prime necessaries of life, or he will have to submit to living without these prime necessaries and at a correspondingly degenerate level of existence. The course of history teaches that the solution of this problem calls for a process of many centuries' duration, in which progress seems impossible except by passing through apparent regressions.
§ 39 The progress and regress which we have in mind mani fest themselves in the following manner.
In the first place there is always present a tendency to dif ferentiation. In point of fact even the franchise belonging in com mon to all able-bodied men stands out in harsh contrast with the disfranchisement of menials, slaves and all who are physically infirm. Further development widens the chasm through the opportunities afforded by an increasing differentiation. The growth of population, the stationary character of settlements, the limited extent of the available land, the intensification, through growing complexity of social life, of the agencies tend ing to produce a rise or fall in the social scale, and not least the commendable habituation to steady and peaceful labor,—all these alienate the man more and more from an obligation which is held to consist in standing ready daily to assert one's right to life and property with armed hand.
In consequence there arises a separation of that part of the population which by inclination and aptitude continue to bear arms, from the others who by inclination or of necessity take to a. peaceful life. Now since the possibility of such a life of peace is as yet a desideratum the conditions for which are wanting, inasmuch as a defenseless, peaceable element in the midst of this rude environment is at any instant exposed to an armed, unpeace ful element ; therefore there is but a single expedient at hand, namely, the submission of the peaceable element to the force of those who bear arms.
Nothing sheds so clear a light on this matter as the connec tion subsisting between two different kinds of allegiance which' it seems to me, have been conventionally placed in too sharp a contrast to one another : the relation of villenage and that of citizenship in the medieval towns. Not only that the duties of the lord in relation to the villein were expressed in the same form of words that served to describe the relation of the bur gess to the town (the lord was to defend and champion the cause of the poor man, to succour and shield him); it is also to be noticed that the burgesses who removed from the town into the country accepted villenage as a substitute for the municipal franchise which they lost, or while still retaining the rights of the burgess they sometimes (perhaps on account of having fre quent occasion to pass back and forth overland) acquired allegi ance to some neighboring lord, in contravention, it is true, of the inhibition by the municipal council. And by preference allegiance was sworn to whomsoever was the most lawless in all the land, and men were wont to change masters according as they expected more efficient protection from one than from another. And all this took place as late as the fifteenth century.' Peace and the security of person and property therefore appear here as a service which was tendered to and acquired by private persons as a matter of bargain and sale. The conse quence of the situation was, as follows naturally from the char acter of the service rendered, that the one offering the service was the powerful party, the purchaser the feeble one.
§ 4o. Evidently progress will consist in rendering possible the secure enjoyment of a peaceful life without the dependence of the weak on the strong. This can be fully attained only in that the superiority of the strong over the weak disappears through the growth of a peaceful disposition. But inasmuch as this would require an infinitely long course of progress from the beginnings of human social life to a millennium of peace, the question comes practically to concern itself only with particular stages of this progress, within which the purpose is in each case to widen the sphere of the peaceable activities and as it were to remove the element of violence to the margin of this widen ing field.
The City of the Middle Age is the prototype of a peaceable community in the respect that here for the first time, within very narrow limits (made possible by the adoption of occupations), the interests that make for peace combine and fence themselves off by means of fortifications from the violence of the surrounding country. Wall and moat which serve to render a peace-needing, industrious community secure, are really the foundation of the state organization the end of which is the establishment of peace. There is of course still a demand for able-bodied burghers who are to man the breastworks and defend the town against the enemy ; and also, of course, the peaceable ness of the life within the walls is only relative, as contrasted with the turbulent world outside ; but in this way alone is it pos sible to make a beginning and redeem an oasis of peace from the waste of all-prevailing turbulence.
Further progress for centuries consists in what is equivalent to progressive extension of these town walls so as to create ter ritories, states, kingdoms, whose essential nature in so far as concerns their relation to the towns expresses itself in the secur ing of a correspondingly wide field within which the peace is kept. While at one time a community of interest in the securing of a peaceable existence led people to shut themselves up within the narrow space of the town and so secure themselves against dis turbance from without, there has, by slow degrees, grown out of these beginnings a domain of peace such as includes a common wealth of thirty, forty, fifty millions of people ; people whose life interests centre in peaceful labor, in peaceful industry and enjoyment, and who no longer are exposed to a disturbance of peace at the limits of the town but only at the boundaries of the nation. And this again is not the result of a process of nature, but a heavy piece of forge-work from the workshop of history, in which it lies to rise through progressive trans mutation of the commonwealth to higher forms and wider spheres.
§ 41. Precisely because the serious hardships which were necessary in order to bring about the possibility of a peaceful organization of life are not tangibly present to the senses of the modern man, or because—fortunately for him—disturbances occur but infrequently to remind him of what he ungratefully enjoys in the placid flow of existence ; for this reason he is, in good human fashion, inclined to take the good that comes as a matter of course, and only find fault with and feel the absence of whatever may still be lacking.
But the central fact of this evolution is to be sought at a point which lies without the conscious life of the modern man and citizen. To him it seems natural that he should inhale the atmosphere of peace every moment of his life, just as he inhales the oxygen of nature,— in truth it is the grand achievement that has come of the protracted efforts of culture in its struggle with primitive human nature.
But while this unconscious acceptance of the attained security furnishes a striking testimony to the achievements of civilization, there is needed, in order to a theoretical insight into the intimate relation subsisting between public sacrifice and benefit, a consciousness which shall grasp the significance of past expenditures and more particularly of such expenditures as are still requisite to further this purpose.
Great as is the advance already accomplished along this line, it can be maintained only at the cost of further continued great sacrifices. Indeed, the habitual bearing of heavy burdens in order to secure the peace, grave as they may seem, constitutes but a relatively easy burden in comparison with the more painful and dangerous disturbances which would result in case these burdens were not submitted to.
§ 42. We have now seen how protracted a piece of work it is to elaborate the mechanism of a commonwealth which shall maintain tranquillity among men in place of the rude savagery of the state of nature—which creates such organizations as will suppress every disturbance of the peace within the bounds of the community, and erect an iron circle of defense against the threats of hostile forces from without. It is evident that this preliminary work will have to be accomplished before the state can turn its energies to other, higher, nobler purposes, which will thrive only under the shelter afforded by a state of peace. However, when this fundamental prerequisite has been com passed there are innumerable agencies in the developing civiliza tion which will climb and spread over the walls of these great institutions established for the keeping of the peace. There is at hand the organized force which first came into being as an authority established to suppress the disturbing forces, but which, being present, is ever a powerful means for other purposes which may likewise need the aid of such a force.
This intimate connection of the fundamental function of the state with all ulterior purposes of the " culture-state" is suf ficiently obvious. It is something in the way of a miracle, this segregation of a superior authority which, though itself originat ing from the multitude, still compels this multitude into the ways of an amelioration that runs counter to their natural instincts. But from the accomplishment of this segregation there follows as a matter of course a necessity that this superior power should take all, tendencies for good under its protection.
A state of peace, however, is the soil in which such tenden cies rapidly and plentifully increase. Indeed, it is worthy of remark how these tendencies venture out into the light of day even in the midst of an age when this preliminary work is not yet accomplished ; as, e. g., already in the depth of the Middle Ages, in the midst of bloody feuds and daily deeds of violence, universities arose and arts and sciences were cultivated which pre saged the coming of a happier era. And even more remarkable ! We find that through all the centuries which separated the down fall of the classic world from the close of the Middle Ages, in the, midst of the preliminary work required when the state was only beginning to take shape and emerge out of the rudimentary stage, the attempt was constantly renewed to recall to life the relics of ancient splendor. A series of attempts at reawakening into broad daylight the spirit of Rome and Athens, which have attained their results only after the state of later times has long ago trodden out its mediaeval baby-shoes.
§ 43. A second point is worth noticing in this connection. We speak of the centuries of the Middle Ages as an evolution out of the beginnings of Germanic nation-making simply. But the influence of the civilization of antiquity affects the process from the first. These influences were not lost to European cul ture. Indeed, there evolved out of the bosom of antiquity an institution whose office it was to take into its care, and to instill into the new civilization in process of becoming, the sum of all past achievements in religion, morals, art and science.
This was the Church.
The church is one of the most intelligible means for solving the riddle of the elevation of refractory man from a state of nature to a state of peaceful civilization. Indeed, taken in a gen eral sense, this is the means by which the nobler impulses of crude human nature are awakened to life, by which the heritage of earlier culture, fortified by authority, is transmitted to the peoples of a later day. Through the church, then, comes about an habituation to the ways of peace ; through the church domes also the fostering care of all those things which are first made valuable by a state of peace. Nearly every branch of activity of the modern state in so far as concerns that fostering, furthering, helping activity which bears upon the processes of productive industry, on science and art, on the higher and lower education, on charities and the care of the sick, was either exercised or out lined in the activity of the medimval church.
For centuries together it has been the church alone that pos sessed adequate power, and at the same time occupied the requi site standpoint for enterprises of this rank. And it is only after the church has brought it to pass that such duties are understood and such forces engendered in the world outside, — then only does the state undertake to supplant the church.
The co-ordinate position which the church of the Middle Ages occupied beside the state is due to this fact. The mediz val church performed duties for civilization which served not only to supplement the yet incomplete state, but also, by its appeal to a higher court, to reach out beyond the state's sphere of action. But so soon as the state has itself become possessed of these elements of civilization it comes to refuse acknowledg ment of the need of any such supplemental agency or of any authority which transcends its sphere. The state does not deny the significance of the ecclesiastical functions nor the authority to which the church appeals, since it transfers both to its own domain.
§ 44. It is a characteristic of the state, in the form in which it has developed since the sixteenth century, that it reaches out with a long arm and takes all the activities of life under its care. The state of classic antiquity, typified by the Greeks and devel oped by the Romans into the powerful bureaucratic state of the later empire, has also become the model for the modern state. The state is again becoming or is about to become what it then was,—the highest organ of human social life.
Herewith we have already seized the position that whatever is a vital factor in the existence of the individual citizen is also a proper object of state action. It is not the difference in aims or interests that serves to distinguish the sphere within which the state administration should further the life purposes of the citi zen, but the distinction between the two spheres, of state and of private activity, depends on causes which, under the particular circumstances of an age or a people, serve to give the one sphere a preponderance over the other. I may here refer to the state ment of these reasons in the first volume (secs. 213-216), as also to the examination of the circumstances which lead " free competition " and corporate activity mutually to supplement one another (secs. 293-304).
If the state is constituted by the combined forces of the units which it includes, then its action will properly reach wherever the purpose sought to be accomplished is of such a character as to call for this consolidated force. We have satisfied ourselves that such a contingency is present in an extreme form as regards the great fundamental work of laying the foundations upon which that authority is erected which establishes peace and security, the prerequisites of all the other ends of life.
In close relation to this, and in dependence on it, is that further function which goes to secure or reinstate the peace of the land, by decisions with respect to a violated or a disputed right. The institution of a superior tribunal which is to deter mine the objective right of a case as between the wrangling contradictions of private life, is essentially a matter requiring organized spiritual and moral forces.
With this convergence of spiritual forces it also becomes pos sible to establish such institutions for the development of the spiritual life as will realize as high a level of culture as is possi ble under the circumstances, and such as for this very reason over passes the horizon of the individual. Hence arises the important function of public instruction.
The grounds for the consolidation of powers which the state brings about may also sometimes be found in the technical character of the contrivances which are to meet certain wants of society. In this connection we may call to mind the communal management of roads, inclusive of the means of transportation, whose peculiar nature makes it expedient to have a single concern minister to a considerable group of wants.
In so far as great mechanical progress has latterly created a great extension of the work to be done in the direction last spoken of, the aggregate progress due to these improvements carries with it a tendency to concentration of forces which will affect the sphere of state activity, at least indirectly through its conse quences. The greater, e.g., the consolidation of powers under the management of individuals, the more urgent becomes the necessity for bringing the mass of these interests into harmony with the interests of the community.
But after the state has created whatever institutions are thought desirable, there still remain a great variety of directions of individual activity, which may each in its own way serve toward advancing the consummation of human effort. Therefore does the superior spiritual and physical power of the state have to do with these also, so far as there may be need of help, support, prohi bition, relief. Herewith we have indicated the whole domain of the controlling action of the state, which is in an especial degree a varying one and which in principle comprehends every sphere of individual life.
§ 45. I have already (vol. i. secs. 187-212) discussed the development of wants as a fact incident to advancing civilization. In this discussion it is not the range of wants—which is infinite —but rather the rational disposition and regulation of them in detail and the rational character of the aggregate selected that constitutes the central point.
With respect to the state, as concerns its various lines of activity, we are led to the application of the same principles which we have already become acquainted with in the general part of the work.
The characteristic feature of the state in respect of the development of its wants consists in the superior rationality of the state as compared with the private economy of the individual. In the life of the individual the motive to a development of his wants springs directly from the natural impulses ; it is only on the broad foundation furnished by supplies sufficient to cover the essentially primary wants that a higher culture can bear fruit in the form of nobler wants.
On the other hand, it is inherent in the nature of the state that its demands, taken as a whole, go through a clarifying pro cess, or are the outcome of intelligent deliberation. Food, drink, clothing, shelter, amusement, social intercourse—these are the primary wants with the covering of which private economy is mainly occupied ; peace, order, security, culture, relief,—these are the higher needs which are mainly served by the public economy.
While the state has for a long time past felt called upon to prune the superfluous growths of the system which serves the primary wants, it has on the other hand also become an awakener of the higher wants, in that it has created institutions for educa tion, science, art, charity, sanitation, etc. And not only has it awakened such higher wants, but in peculiarly urgent cases, as e. g., school attendance and legislation for protection of laborers, it has even made use of its power of coercion in order to create a general demand for the institutions which it has established.
46. The increased range of public demand in modern times is especially due to two causes : progress in technical efficiency, and the spread of democratic ideas.
In the first place as regards technical efficiency. This is of peculiar significance for that branch of state activity which is pri mary and fundamental, namely, provision for self-defense. This provision and solicitude comprehends in itself two distinct pairs of contrasted factors : the contrast between the means available for offense and for defense, on the one hand ; and that between dif ferent commonwealths that stand opposed to one another, on the other hand. As a consequence of this relation, advancing tech nical efficiency means a progressive incitement to the achieve ment of further improvements on the basis of the improvements already achieved. Every improved means of defense calls for an improved means of attack ; every advance in weapons of offense calls forth an advance in the means of defense. Technical knowledge, however, after it has once entered upon the course of development into which progressing natural science has carried it, serves the purposes of either side alike. It serves equally each of two opposing peoples, for it is a common possession of the age, and any advantage which one nation may today possess above another will tomorrow be surpassed by a fresh advance achieved by that other nation.
This race, kept up as it were by an automatic regulating appa ratus so long as progress in technical knowledge goes on, of course presumes continually increasing sacrifices. And these sacrifices, as also the continued progress of the technology of war, is made possible by the ever increasing productivity of peaceful industrial knowledge. As fast as an advance is made in the tech nical knowledge of peaceful industry the technology of war stands ready to claim any new resource made available. This fateful inseparability of the two movements might be broken only by means of a radical change in the bearing of peoples, originating from within. And this inseparability of war and progress, it is to be remarked, is therefore a fact necessary to be taken into account for the present and for the future ; for alterations so radical and profound as that referred to can take place only very slowly.
It is possible to contemplate with less mixed feelings those advances of technical knowledge which serve the manifold improvements and comforts of a peaceful existence. Compare the modern accommodations of an American house or of the Amer ican metropolis with the ineptitude of a German provincial town ; compare the contrivances for cleanliness, lighting, water-supply, street-management, etc. Notice the great progress which our cities have made or are on the point of making in this direction. Espe cially noteworthy is what our larger German cities have accom plished in this respect during the last generation, and the changes they are engaged in today.
The progress of technical knowledge so intimately touches the primary demands of civilized life that also within this domain of peaceful industry the improvements of technology give rise to an increasing influx of new wants.
§ 47. Inasm4ch as the class of improvements in technology last spoken of has to do mainly with amelioration of the condi tions of life for the community, it will naturally come about that the democratic ideas of the new era will exert their influence in the same direction to hasten and heighten the effect.
The more widespread the concepts of human rights and human dignity are among any modern people, the more readily will the public bodies undertake to supplement the customary rights of suffrage with such social machinery as shall serve to elevate the culture-plane occupied by the lower classes.
It is not only a fact of great financial significance for our age that the common schools, the care of the poor, sanitary regula tions, insurance of laborers, and other like enterprises have come to be recognized as properly public business. How great this significance may be depends, in the case of each commonwealth and at every epoch, on whether they comply more or less willingly with the ever growing demands made for these purposes. The subventions to the common schools, the care of paupers, etc., are evidently of a very extensile nature ; and we may see how this extensile quality is put to the test under circumstances where the force of democratic tendencies is highly developed. But since the age is everywhere permeated with this class of ideas, in one country as in another, the continual increase of this class of expenditures is unavoidable and unmistakable.
If it is true that the idea of equality achieves in the course of history a slow but ever progressing realization (cf. vol. i. secs. 312-16), and that our century constitutes a segment of distinct advance in this direction ; then are these contrivances whose purpose is the elevation, physically and spiritually, of the lower classes by means of the fulfillment of certain fundamental condi tions requisite for all culture, an essential feature of the process.