List Of Contents | Contents of Equality by Charles Dudley Warner
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vindicate itself, it is because it works best, on the whole, for a
particular people.  But it needs no prophet to say that it will not work
long if God is shut out from it, and man, in a full-blown socialism,
is considered the ultimate authority.

II.  Equality of education.  In our American system there is, not only
theoretically but practically, an equality of opportunity in the public
schools, which are free to all children, and rise by gradations from the
primaries to the high-schools, in which the curriculum in most respects
equals, and in variety exceeds, that of many third-class "colleges."  In
these schools nearly the whole round of learning, in languages, science,
and art, is touched.  The system has seemed to be the best that could be
devised for a free society, where all take part in the government, and
where so much depends upon the intelligence of the electors.  Certain
objections, however, have been made to it.  As this essay is intended
only to be tentative, we shall state some of them, without indulging in
lengthy comments.

( 1. ) The first charge is superficiality--a necessary consequence of
attempting too much--and a want of adequate preparation for special
pursuits in life.

( 2. ) A uniformity in mediocrity is alleged from the use of the same
text-books and methods in all schools, for all grades and capacities.
This is one of the most common criticisms on our social state by a
certain class of writers in England, who take an unflagging interest in
our development.  One answer to it is this: There is more reason to
expect variety of development and character in a generally educated than
in an ignorant community; there is no such uniformity as the dull level
of ignorance.

( 3. ) It is said that secular education--and the general schools open to
all in a community of mixed religions must be secular--is training the
rising generation to be materialists and socialists.

( 4. ) Perhaps a better-founded charge is that a system of equal
education, with its superficiality, creates discontent with the condition
in which a majority of men must be--that of labor--a distaste for trades
and for hand-work, an idea that what is called intellectual labor (let us
say, casting up accounts in a shop, or writing trashy stories for a
sensational newspaper) is more honorable than physical labor; and
encourages the false notion that "the elevation of the working classes"
implies the removal of men and women from those classes.

We should hesitate to draw adverse conclusions in regard to a system yet
so young that its results cannot be fairly estimated.  Only after two or
three generations can its effects upon the character of a great people be
measured: Observations differ, and testimony is difficult to obtain.
We think it safe to say that those states are most prosperous which have
the best free schools.  But if the philosopher inquires as to the general
effect upon the national character in respect to the objections named, he
must wait for a reply.

III.  The pursuit of the chimera of social equality, from the belief that
it should logically follow political equality; resulting in extravagance,
misapplication of natural capacities, a notion that physical labor is
dishonorable, or that the state should compel all to labor alike, and in
efforts to remove inequalities of condition by legislation.

IV.  The equality of the sexes.  The stir in the middle of the eighteenth
century gave a great impetus to the emancipation of woman; though,
curiously enough, Rousseau, in unfolding his plan of education for
Sophie, in Emile, inculcates an almost Oriental subjection of woman--her
education simply that she may please man.  The true enfranchisement of
woman--that is, the recognition (by herself as well as by man) of her
real place in the economy of the world, in the full development of her
capacities--is the greatest gain to civilization since the Christian era.
The movement has its excesses, and the gain has not been without loss.
"When we turn to modern literature," writes Mr. Money, "from the pages in
which Fenelon speaks of the education of girls, who does not feel that
the world has lost a sacred accent--that some ineffable essence has
passed out from our hearts?"

How far the expectation has been realized that women, in fiction, for
instance, would be more accurately described, better understood, and
appear as nobler and lovelier beings when women wrote the novels, this is
not the place to inquire.  The movement has results which are unavoidable
in a period of transition, and probably only temporary.  The education of
woman and the development of her powers hold the greatest promise for the
regeneration of society.  But this development, yet in its infancy, and
pursued with much crudeness and misconception of the end, is not enough.
Woman would not only be equal with man, but would be like him; that is,
perform in society the functions he now performs.  Here, again, the
notion of equality is pushed towards uniformity.  The reformers admit
structural differences in the sexes, though these, they say, are greatly
exaggerated by subjection; but the functional differences are mainly to
be eliminated.  Women ought to mingle in all the occupations of men,
as if the physical differences did not exist.  The movement goes to
obliterate, as far as possible, the distinction between sexes.  Nature
is, no doubt, amused at this attempt.  A recent writer--["Biology and
Woman's Rights," Quarterly Journal of Science, November, 1878.]--,
says: "The 'femme libre' [free woman] of the new social order may,
indeed, escape the charge of neglecting her family and her household by
contending that it is not her vocation to become a wife and a mother!
Why, then, we ask, is she constituted a woman at all?  Merely that she
may become a sort of second-rate man?"

The truth is that this movement, based always upon a misconception of
equality, so far as it would change the duties of the sexes, is a
retrograde.--["It has been frequently observed that among declining
nations the social differences between the two sexes are first
obliterated, and afterwards even the intellectual differences.  The more
masculine the women become, the more effeminate become the men.  It is no
good symptom when there are almost as many female writers and female
rulers as there are male.  Such was the case, for instance, in the
Hellenistic kingdoms, and in the age of the Caesars.  What today is
called by many the emancipation of woman would ultimately end in the
dissolution of the family, and, if carried out, render poor service to
the majority of women.  If man and woman were placed entirely on the same
level, and if in the competition between the two sexes nothing but an
actual superiority should decide, it is to be feared that woman would
soon be relegated to a condition as hard as that in which she is found
among all barbarous nations.  It is precisely family life and higher
civilization that have emancipated woman.  Those theorizers who, led
astray by the dark side of higher civilization, preach a community of
goods, generally contemplate in their simultaneous recommendation of the
emancipation of woman a more or less developed form of a community of
wives.  The grounds of the two institutions are very similar."
(Roscher's Political Economy, p. 250.)  Note also that difference in
costumes of the sexes is least apparent among lowly civilized peoples.]--
One of the most striking features in our progress from barbarism to
civilization is the proper adjustment of the work for men and women.
One test of a civilization is the difference of this work.  This is a
question not merely of division of labor, but of differentiation with
regard to sex.  It not only takes into account structural differences and
physiological disadvantages, but it recognizes the finer and higher use
of woman in society.

The attainable, not to say the ideal, society requires an increase rather
than a decrease of the differences between the sexes.  The differences
may be due to physical organization, but the structural divergence is but
a faint type of deeper separation in mental and spiritual constitution.
That which makes the charm and power of woman, that for which she is
created, is as distinctly feminine as that which makes the charm and
power of men is masculine.  Progress requires constant differentiation,
and the line of this is the development of each sex in its special
functions, each being true to the highest ideal for itself, which is not
that the woman should be a man, or the man a woman.  The enjoyment of
social life rests very largely upon the encounter and play of the subtle
peculiarities which mark the two sexes; and society, in the limited sense
of the word, not less than the whole structure of our civilization,
requires the development of these peculiarities.  It is in diversity, and
not in an equality tending to uniformity, that we are to expect the best
results from the race.

V.  Equality of races; or rather a removal of the inequalities, social
and political, arising in the contact of different races by

Perhaps equality is hardly the word to use here, since uniformity is the
thing aimed at; but the root of the proposal is in the dogma we are
considering.  The tendency of the age is to uniformity.  The facilities
of travel and communication, the new inventions and the use of machinery
in manufacturing, bring men into close and uniform relations, and induce
the disappearance of national characteristics and of race peculiarities.
Men, the world over, are getting to dress alike, eat alike, and
disbelieve in the same things: It is the sentimental complaint of the
traveler that his search for the picturesque is ever more difficult, that
race distinctions and habits are in a way to be improved off the face of
the earth, and that a most uninteresting monotony is supervening.
The complaint is not wholly sentimental, and has a deeper philosophical
reason than the mere pleasure in variety on this planet.

We find a striking illustration of the equalizing, not to say leveling,

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