Page images

The author insists upon a more rational interpretation of the economic teachings of Jesus and in this regard the book is a real contribution to the newer religious literature well worth having.




Co-operation and Nationality. By GEORGE W. RUSSELL. Dublin:

Maunsel & Co. Ltd., 1912. Pp. 104.

The subtitle of this little booklet is “A Guide for Rural Reformers from This to the Next Generation.” Its aim and purpose are to set forth the problem of rural life in Ireland, to show how the conditions of that life have come to be what they are, and to point out the need of two things: first, agricultural co-operation; and second, the establishment of social institutions that shall make life worth while in the rural districts of Ireland, or in his words, “a change in business and technical methods, and a change in social temper." The author sets forth with characteristic Irish enthusiasm the benefits which he believes will follow from these changes. He declares that home rule has little significance as compared with these changes in the rural life of Ireland. The author evidently is actuated by a high and noble patriotism and makes suggestions which, if followed out, would lay the foundations of a more prosperous and happy Ireland.

The suggestions which he makes are not without timeliness for America. We are by no means in as sad a condition in America with respect to the rural economy as they are in Ireland. Nevertheless, there are phases of the American rural life which deserve careful attention. The co-operative movement among the farmers has begun in a small way. Doubtless it will proceed as rapidly as the farmers come to see the economic advantages of it, and as they are able to work out the details of a plan that is satisfactory.

On the other hand, what the author has to say about social life in the rural community applies to the rural communities of America. One of the crying needs of our rural communities is a more active social life. The reading of this little book by every farmer in the country and every rural economist would be very suggestive and helpful.


La réglementation de travail des femmes et des enfants aux États-Unis.

By A. CHABOSEAU. Paris: M. Giard et E. Brière. Pp. 206.

Fr. 2.50.

This volume, one of the series of the Bibliothèque du Musée Social, is somewhat novel in that it shows the progress which has been made in recent years in securing better conditions for women and children rather than describes the evils which exist. In fact, its object, as the author states in the preface, is to show what has been accomplished in the United States to protect the physical and moral health of women and children in order to arouse the admiration of the French people so that they will be led to “imitate.” Amid all the discouragements which beset those who are working at these problems in the United States, it cannot but be helpful to find that the impression made on a foreigner in one of rapid achievement.

Legislation which has been passed concerning child labor, school attendance, working-hours, night work, safety, apprenticeship, and similar topics is given both chronologically and by states with remarkable accuracy. While the immediate purpose of the study is to serve the French as an aid to solving their own problems along these lines, it will also aid in giving a general survey of the field to those in this country who sometimes feel the need both of perspective and of encouragement.


Child Labor in City Streets. By EDWARD N. CLOPPER. New

York: Macmillan, 1912. Pp. ix+280. $1.25.

This book canvasses the problem of the street-working child as distinct from that of the child employed in regulated industries. It indicates the extent and injuriousness of street trades in America and Europe, reviews the various forms of street trade, and presents the methods being used for the amelioration of the evil. The treatment is thoroughgoing and, together with the bibliography, appendices, and index, furnishes a handbook of exceptional value. All who work in the field of child protection and welfare will recognize this production as a classic and an invaluable aid.




The Reconstruction of Economic Theory. By SIMON N. PATTEN.

Supplement to the Annals of the American Academy of Political
and Social Science. November, 1912. Pp. 99.
Whenever Professor Patten has anything to say he is sure of a hearing

. and it is always worth while to listen, although the resultant is often tangent to the apparent direction in which the force is applied. In this case his method of “reconstruction” is the passing of a rhetorical cyclone over certain patches of experience; then having beclouded every landmark in the landscape, he occupies several chapters with pure economic theory which must be judged by itself, and he ends with an epilogue which has no necessary connection with anything that precedes. This is dramatic but inconclusive.

The book would have gained in dignity if it had begun with chap. vii, "The Failure of Theories of Distribution.” Five quasi-historical chap

" ters however, are prefixed. In these sections Professor Patten certainly does not appear at his best. They consist, not of careful analyses of the actual thought processes which are disposed of in rapid generalizations, but of a series of sparkling kaleidoscopic radiations from a few fragments of economic history. The major feature of this retrospect is disparagement of German economists. This is much like an oceanography that should begin by maligning the icebergs or the Gulf Stream. Waiving the logic of it, if one is to slander the icebergs or the Gulf Stream or the Germans, it is a pity not to pick one's imputations with reasonable care. On p. 14 Professor Patten implies that German economic theory is what it is from sheer jealousy of England. Even if in our opinion it is merely a case of giving the devil his due, everyone who is acquainted at first hand with the growth of social science theories in Germany knows that at the very least German scholars have on the whole compared rather favorably in candid objectivity with the scholars of any other nation. The eighteenth-century literature of social science in Germany is thick with evidences that the Germans were not only willing but anxious to learn of the English. No modern scholars have made more strenuous efforts to assimilate alien doctrine than the Germans to naturalize English “liberalism” from 1823 to 1870. The reason why the Germans rejected English classicism was, not that it was English, but that it was crude. Even after the Germans had weighed English economic theory for a half-century, and found it wanting, the very scholars who declared that theory impossible were quick to advise their countrymen of superiorities in English industrial practice. Everyone who has studied the publications of the Verein für Sozialpolitik knows that a large part of


the material for argument in favor of improved labor legislation in Germany was drawn from descriptions of the better ways in which those things had been done in England. To make jealousy of England the explanation of the Germans' refusal to halt their economics with the Cobden Club, is as perverse as it would be to bring a like charge against all modern nations for not stopping their chemistry with Lavoisier or their biology with Lamarck.

I am so far from denying the existence of German chauvinism, that I have no patience with those quietists who think the United States can safely neglect its navy while that type of megalomania persists; but to imply that this disorder has affected German scholars more than others is unworthy of Professor Patten's knowledge and judgment. He seems to have felt, however, that due penance for the confessed (p. 1) indiscretion of excessive appreciation of the Germans in his youth would be correspondingly excessive depreciation of them in his maturity. He returns to the charge on p. 32 with the assertions: “German thought is intensely national and has as its basis the concept of the superiority of the German race. Accepting these two premises, good history is German history. Everything that does not incorporate itself into German thought is bad doctrine. * * * * * * Such an attitude it would have been impossible to introduce into England because the English did not have a like concept of their national continuity and superiority.” This is the same sort of irresponsible banality which is illustrated by a German book noticed on another page (p. 574). The author is an authentic exhibit of the sort of thing which Professor Patten generalizes as the decisive characteristic of the Germans. At the same time, he and Professor Patten together compose an exhibit of the ease with which one prepossession may contradict another. One of the German writer's most serviceable premises is that the English are notorious for that very national attitude which in the last sentence Professor Patten declares it would have been impossible for them to acquire! In both cases the type of generalization is beneath the level of scientific discussion.

Incidental to his sweeping of German theory out of consideration is Professor Patten's evident opinion that an important prerequisite to economic reconstruction is persistence in that snobbery toward Karl Marx which has been good form for a generation. His justification for this particular smugness is in repeated hints at the same sort of reasoning which has so often satisfied itself that there was no originality in Shakespere. (By the way, one of Professor Patten's poetic licenses would permit him to say that I have now called Marx the Shakespere

[ocr errors]



of social science.) I have not the slightest desire to make the question, What think ye of Karl Marx ? a criterion of economic competence. It is certainly to be regretted, however, that any scholar who forms an appraisal of Marx should do so in an unhistoric spirit. Even the most conservative scholarship in Germany has advanced beyond treatment of Marx as a scientific pariah. That is proved by the expansion of Dr. Plenge's Antrittsvorlesung at Leipzig in 1910 (published under the title, Marx und Hegel). It is unfortunate that an eminent American scholar feels that he is doing himself justice in maintaining a contemptuous tone toward the Marxian factor in the modern social awakening.

For essentially similar reasons the estimate of Mill is no more adequate than that of Marx. I had to stop more than once for the query whether Professor Patten was not thinking of the father rather than the son. To propose as a historical interpretation of a personality as detached as Kant, for instance, a rendering which made him merely an abstraction among abstractions, instead of one among many co-workers upon the human problems of his time, would hardly have escaped criticism a generation ago. A version of John Stuart Mill in terms no more elementary than the preference of the English public for logical concepts (p. 33), is today too improbable to pass without protest.

In the portion of the essay to which the title properly applies there is much which deserves, and in time must receive, serious consideration. It covers too wide a range to be indicated in a few words. If I correctly understand Professor Patten on p. 30, however, he regards the problem of economic reconstruction as a fight to a finish “between sociological and economic premises.” I venture to confess the contrary opinion. The alleged antithesis between economics and sociology is purely factitious. In my judgment the only reconstruction in economic theory which will turn out to be in the line of permanent progress, will be a triumph of economic and sociological co-operation.

As already intimated, the only visible connection between the last two chapters and the earlier parts of the monograph is mechanical. Nevertheless, these chapters contain a flash of Professor Patten's real genius. The following passage (p. 92) contains an important contribution to sociological analysis. In former descriptions of progress, I divided it into two parts, a pain economy,

in which fear and suffering drive man to his daily tasks, and a pleasure economy, in which the motive of action is the pleasure derived from the goods enjoyed. I now regard this division as defective. To love pleasure is a higher manifestation of life than to fear pain; but the pleasure of action is in advance of the pleasure of consumption.

« PreviousContinue »