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Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States; Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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V.1, Entry 205, CHARITY, Public.

—To question the right of the state to assist in a certain measure the classes suffering from poverty is, in our eyes, only an exaggeration of the logic of laisser faire and laisser passer, a maxim good in itself, but the abuses of which should be avoided. Side by side with the individual and his action, there is a principle with which we must reckon, the principle of solidarity. Society is not a simple juxtaposition of individuals; it is a living organism; and the state which represents it is also to a certain point a moral person, a sort of collective individuality, which society itself intrusts with doing that which it could not do through each of its members standing alone. The state does not exceed its rights in performing acts of charity. How could it if, in doing so, it filled not only the rôle of benefactor to those it assisted, but performed also a duty of social prudence, and of preservation in certain cases?