Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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First Pub. Date
New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
572 of 1105



INDIVIDUAL AND THE RACE, The. How to account for the contrast between the aggregate will (the will of the state) and the single will of individuals, is confessedly one of the most difficult problems of political science. The caprice of individuals is as manifold as their peculiarities, while the aggregate will can and must indeed be only one. How is it possible to base the aggregate will, which rules in the state, on the multiformity of divergent individual wills?


—Rousseau, who explains the state as the agreement of individuals who come together as if by contract, had indeed some idea that the general will was other than the will of all. But he endeavored to evade a problem, which he could not solve, by a fiction, which stands no test. As it is very seldom that all agree, he says, the average will of the majority must pass for the will of all. This is jumping from the frying pan into the fire. In the state we are forced to respect the aggregate will as authority, that is, to respect it in all things as just; and who warrants us that the will of the majority is more just than that of the minority? Almost all great improvements, both in the state and in law, were in the beginning advocated only by single individuals, as were the blessed revelations of religion and the most fruitful discoveries of science, and were understood and accepted by a few enlightened adherents. Only after long and severe struggles with the prejudices, ignorance and crudeness of the multitude did they gradually obtain recognition. If the majority be eventually rational and just, certain it is that it is not so at all times. Therefore to assert that the aggregate will and the will of the majority are the same thing, is to set coarseness above culture, and ignorance above wisdom.


—But the unity of the will of the state can be explained in this way still less than the wisdom and justice of the will of the state. The mere counting together and bringing together of many or even all separate wills can never produce one aggregate will. Millions of grains of sand thrown together will make a sand bank, but no whole. A hundred thousand dollars piled one on another is a handsome sum of money, but not a fortune. The vessel, which is baked from the grains of sand, is a whole, and so is a property or an establishment of a hundred thousand dollars a fortune, but only because upon a summing up of the different parts an idea of unity has been added, which has formed them into a whole. In the case of lifeless things this union may come from without. But if the living wills of thousands are to become one will, the unity must be found in themselves.


—Hegel had remarked the want of coherence and the contradiction existing between all these separate wills, and perceived that from this confusion no unity of law could be formed. He, unlike Rousseau and Kant, understood the will, which formed the state and the law, to be, not individual caprice, but the general will, grown conscious of itself, really true and rational. But this only tells us how the will of all should be constituted in order to be recognized as the universal will; it does not explain why this universal will is right, rational, or one.


—Scarcely a philosopher or jurist has recalled that we have within ourselves the contrast between the aggregate will and the individual will. Only by the double nature of man, from the contrast which we as individuals and as belonging to a race find associated in ourselves, can this two-fold character of the will be explained, but it is completely explained by that. The credit of first recognizing this, and proving the very decisive significance of this contrast for all psychological questions, belongs to Friedrich Rohmer.


—We are conscious of our individual will with the same certainty as of our individual thoughts. By wishing something exclusively for myself, something which others do not wish or will not allow me, I am conscious of the opposition between my will and the will of others. Because Cæsar willed to rule Rome, Brutus willed to kill him. It is possible that both wills were only individual, but if one of them was likewise the Roman aggregate will, it is impossible that the other could be so too.


—The difference of the two wills is clear enough. But how do we become conscious of the aggregate will? How, except by the opposition which arises in ourselves when we wish something for ourselves, which injures the common nature, of which we, with others, form a part? When a son raises his hand against his father, when a brother wishes to make a slave of his brother, when the thief takes another's property, a voice is audible within him which opposes his individual will. When the indolent man sinks into laziness, and the inactive man buries his talents, he is sensible of an admonition which urges him to activity. In the first case the individual will is checked; in the second it receives an impulse to action. In both cases the inner voice announces the existence of a will, which strives to contend with the will of the individual. Some call this voice the conscience, through which God speaks to man; others call it the conscience, which is immanent in human nature, and which bears testimony to the moral order dwelling in it. At bottom, both mean the same thing; but the former admit that this voice is heard in human feelings, ideas and words; and the latter do not deny that the inner harmony of human nature was given with the creation of man, and is hence in the divine order. A moral spirit lives in the conscience, which is different from our individual spirit. Our individual will is often unjust and irrational; the human will of the conscience is always just and rational. The many individual wills contradict one another; the common will of the conscience is in itself harmonious. The individual will belongs to me alone; the aggregate will, which stirs as conscience, is common to me with my family, my people, and the human race. We can call it the will of the species, or the will of the race, for the species and the race are common to all, and make a unit of all.


—In the individual will is a clearer self-consciousness and a higher freedom. In the will of the species the order of nature and instinctive necessity chiefly work. Separate wills give rise to multiformity; the will of the species preserves unity and insures equality. Individual will lives only in the individual; the will of the species works through the whole species.


—In each man the contrast of the race and the individual is found in one person. To the extent that we distinguish and more closely examine both these sides of our being, we obtain great light upon numerous questions. Let us endeavor to establish a few chief principles, although their exhaustive demonstration may not fall within the province of a work like the present one.


1. The race at first glance is visible in the sameness of the human frame. 1. One's special individuality is, as a peculiar faculty of the mind, concealed in the body.
2. The race is, however, not mere corporeal matter; the organs of the body are at the same time psychic organs. There are also universal instincts of the race, as for instance, the instinct for nourishment, the sexual instinct, the universal moral faculties, conscience, the universal intellectual faculties, human intellect; therefore, in a word, in the race there is also a common spirit. 2. The hidden nature of the mind of the individual strives to become visible, and becomes most clearly so in words and deeds. In exalted and excited moments it is radiated visibly from the body, and its finer or coarser lines impress lasting traces on the body.
3. The human race is originally the work of the creation, but since then has been transmitted from parents to children. The human race rests, therefore, upon propagation through human beings. It preserves its coherence through ancestors and descendants, under the generations, which follow one another. Natural right of inheritance is an effect of race. 3. The individual mind is not the continuation of the parents'. Its production is a new act of creation. Talents and the particular spirit are not transmitted, and an individual may have an entirely different disposition from his parents or his family. Individuals create the new in the world.
4. Race is necessarily bound to the surface of the earth, which nourishes and supports it. It is essentially earthly. 4. The individual mind is not bound to the earth. The whole terrestrial globe is a plaything for it, and it translates itself without trouble to the most distant stars.
5. Race undergoes necessarily a series of transformations. In regular order the different steps of age succeed each other. After youth follows old age, as death follows birth. No one, who lives long, can avoid this evolution, which is independent of him as a power of nature. 5. The individual mind remains essentially the same from childhood to old age. A youthful individual mind remains young, although the hair may be white; while an oldish mind is old, even in childhood. The individual develops himself by his work. His works are like himself.
6. In the external nature of man, in the human race, a complete system of faculties in perfect order is visible. Man is created in relative perfection, a microcosmic picture of the perfection of God. 6. Individual minds are endowed, for the most part, only deficiently and incompletely. They are generally only incomplete thoughts of God; single living words, not a complete language. But, with the help of the race, they work themselves up to perfection.
7. Race is similarity. In all essential relations the thousands of millions of men, who have already lived or shall yet live, are endowed with the same physical organs in the same order, and the same psychic powers; and all are subject to the same development with age. 7. Difference is the characteristic quality of the individual. Talents and all special gifts are distributed unequally. Achilles and Thersites, Cæsar and Lucullus, were infinitely different, although as belonging to the same race of people and living in the same period they were classed together.
8. Race unites its members in a necessary community. Whoever tries to withdraw himself from this community revolts against nature and breaks the faith which he owes his kind. 8. The individual is first of all interested in himself and has his own life, distinct from other individuals. With free choice he seeks his own companions, and extends his hand of his own free will to them for common work.
9. The human race means the unity of the human kind. The history of the world is the record of the fulfillment of its destiny. 9. Individuals are multiformity. The tasks of individual life promote, but sometimes impede, the progress of human society.
10. The aggregate will has its natural foundation in the community and unity of the race. 10. The individual will is the expression of the individual mind.
11. When the aggregate will rules one-sidedly, the freedom of the individual is lost, and the despotism of the whole prevails: the reciprocal action between the freedom of the individual and the despotism of the whole is unavoidable. 11. When individual will asserts itself, without regard to the aggregate will, then we have anarchy.
In the repose of man the life of the race predominates. In the work of man the life of the individual is heightened.


—There can be no doubt what relation human law bears to this contrast. Race is visible; and only exteriorly perceptible relations are taken cognizance of, and determined, by the law. In race, psychic and physical elements are combined into unity, and all law is made up of an intellectual-moral and a physico-formal element. Race is earthly-human, and so also is law. Race is transmitted from generation to generation, and law also outlasts the life of individuals. Race has an organic growth, and experiences regular transformations; and so the history of law is the organic growth and the regulated transformation of the laws. The life of the race is chiefly a necessity of nature, and the fundamental character of law is the moral necessity of human relations. Race is similarity, community and unity; and these are also the qualities of law. Race is the repose, and the perfection, so to speak, of law and order.


—It was, therefore, a great and a fatal error of the philosophy of law to have deduced law and the state from the life of the individual and the will of the individual. Law and the state refer indirectly to individuals, inasmuch as they guarantee them protection in their action, exactly as does the corporeal race serve the mind of the individual as a dwelling place and an instrument. But the law and the state have no measure for what is most individual in the life of the heart and the mind, nor do they exercise any power over that life. Not only is the order of the state based upon the race, and in the first place upon the race to which the people belong, but the life of the state, politics, is the development of community and unity; therefore of the race. But the life of the individual has also an important share in politics; it is not merely the development of the race. There are also certain men who in their capacity of individuals are made for the state, and who give their individual life to the state. All real statesmen are such individuals. Such men are a living embodiment on a large scale of the reciprocal action of the two natures. The state is not exclusively the formation of the common nature of the people or the national race; it is indebted for a part of its existence and its importance to the individual labor of its leaders.


—This leads to a further distinction within the race. There is an inborn race and an inculcated race. Whoever wishes to obtain a clear idea of the power of education not only on individual men, but in the formation of whole races or entire classes, has only to consider the influence of Moses on the Jews, of Lycurgus on the Spartans, of the government of Rome on all Roman peoples, or of the clerical education on the whole department of the Catholic clergy. Race, which is in the first place a natural idea, is thus changed to an idea of culture. The state gradually and by piecemeal transforms the nation, which is educated by it, through its ever active institutions. The necessity of common nature thus experiences the power of individual freedom.


—The most important of the narrower circles of the race, into which the one human race is divided, are: 1. What we, in a psychological meaning of the expression, call the different races of mankind, those great differences which constitute the natural varieties of mankind. How these contrasts, which are apparent in the complexion, the structure of the hair, the form of the skull, and, still more, in the difference in the sensuous and intellectual faculties, and which for thousands of years have remained substantially the same, originated in the first place, whether by different creative acts, or by later workings of nature, has not yet been decided by science. But two things we know. In the first place, we know that this difference in the races of mankind is not a work of human culture, but essentially a product of macrocosmic nature, and it therefore must be accepted as a necessity. In the second place, we know that this very thing is of the highest significance in politics. Only the white race is, in the highest sense of the word, given to the formation of the state; of the white race, again, the Aryan subdivision is here in advance of the Semitic. The black Ethiopian race is evidently assigned to the tutelary training and sway of the Aryan and Semitic races. Only the yellow Mongolian race and perhaps also in other times the red (Indian) race have brought themselves to a real civilization of their own, and by themselves have developed a state, relatively speaking. 2. Races which form nations and peoples are essentially a product of human history; and human history itself is the result of the cooperation of human freedom, a natural necessity and fate. A mere glance can distinguish between the Englishman and the Frenchman, the Italian and the German, although the European culture of to day, at least in the educated classes, has effaced and destroyed a multitude of the old differences. More important than the difference in national traits, the shades of which can hardly be depicted in language, is the race contrast in national character and spirit, which chiefly determines political life. The manly pride of the Englishman is a characteristic of race, like the love of fame of the Frenchman, the calculation of the Dutchman, the philosophical nature of the German, the craftiness of the Slave, and the deceit of the Italian. The peculiarity of nations is their race. 3. Within the nation, the race of single tribes of people is modified, as among the people that of estates and classes is. 4. The family forms the narrowest circle of race. Whoever compares the family portraits of the Hapsburgs or the Bourbons for hundreds of years, will be surprised at the energy and tenacity with which nature so long held fast a fixed family character. The very same thing is repeated in families of the middle class. With family traits are also transmitted a definite family character and family spirit. The mental side of the race of families is therefore no less worthy of attention than the physical.


—All these races together, of the family, of the nation, and of mankind, form the animated instrument, which the individual living therein uses during his earthly life. The race serves him; but it demands in return also from the ruling individual, respect for the conditions of its life, and due regard for its limited faculties. Happy, the intellectually powerful individual, who has at the same time received a strong and enduring race as an inheritance. Unhappy, the man in whom race and individual struggle with each other in continual dissension. So, happy is the state, whose race of people is guided by statesmen, whose individual nature is the loftiest expression of their race; and miserable is the state, whose rulers are not worthy of the better race.

A. D. HALL, Tr.

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