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The rich man's wealth is his strong city; the destruction
of the poor is their poverty '-The Proverbs of Solomon x. 15

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THE purpose of this work is to direct attention to the influences which have dominated the history of the poor in this country. It will be found that the view presented differs from the popularly conceived opinion as to the causes which have produced the inequalities of modern life.

Assumptions have been made without sufficient inquiry, yet of such importance that they control with disastrous effect the whole course of modern speculation, and, consequently, of modern practice. It has been assumed that Socialism is something new, and that in the past, human destiny has been entrusted to the care of the individualistic principle. The main object of the present volume is to show that this is the very contrary of the truth. The dominant principle in human affairs has been Socialism. History is the record of the gradual and painful emancipation of the individual from the socialistic tyranny of slavery, feudalism, and centralised authority.

The salient distinction between the Socialist and the Individualist theory of life, as it is understood in these pages, may here be stated. By Individualism is meant the rule of conduct which obliges each individual man to adapt his instincts, habits, and character to his surroundings. These surroundings in civilised and associated life are governed by economic laws, which though not of inflexible rigidity are yet more permanent in their nature than human character. They are indeed the environment in reference to which human character must be formed. The definition assumes that man has inherited a capacity for this course of action, a capacity which can be developed by use and transmitted with ever-growing intensity to successive generations. This to the Individualist is Nature's Covenant of Progress.

By Socialism is meant the instinct which induces men to reject, unconsciously for the most part, Nature's offer of safe conduct, and to submit themselves, in their search for happiness, to the guidance of groups and associations of men. A study of primitive ideas will show that such associations owed their first origin to the desire for giving effect to some universal superstition or wish; that by a natural process of deterioration (for the individualistic instincts of self-preservation and acquisition are ineradicable and in the long run more potent than the combining motive of

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association) they soon fall away from their ideal purpose and become mere close corporations working only for the benefit of those who from time to time can control the authority of the State. Such is the origin of all government that is not based on the mere right of conquest. The Socialist points to the chaos and oppression which has arisen in this conflict of opposing principles, and attributes the disorder to 'Individualism run wild.' But in his analysis of cause and effect he forgets mankind's primitive surrender to socialistic control.

These definitions disclose the line of argument which is to be followed. In the introductory chapter, with a view of obtaining a master-key to the situation, appeal is made to the modern doctrine of Evolution. The preference given to an individualistic basis of society is supported by this, the greatest scientific discovery of the century. For, beyond all dispute, in the world of creation it is to individual organisms and not to groups and associations of these that Nature has confided the secret of progress, the power of self-adjustment to environment. The argument goes on to show that property, wealth, or the surplus of maintenance over and above what is necessary for the hand-to-mouth life of a savage, is a main part of the environment of civilisation. To this mankind has to adjust itself.

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