Portal Site for Russellian in Japan

John Stuart Mill,1955, by Bertrand Russell

対訳版(English + Japanese)

The Basic Writings of John Stuart Mill: On Liberty, the Subjection of Women and Utilitarianism BASIC WRITINGS OF JOHN STUART (Modern Library Classics) [ John Stuart Mill ]

Bertrand Russell Quotes 366
It is not easy to assess the importance of John Stuart Mill in nineteenth-century England. What he achieved depended more upon his moral elevation and his just estimate of the ends of life than upon any purely intellectual merits.
His influence in politics and in forming opinion on moral issues was very great and, to my mind, wholly good. Like other eminent Victorians he combined intellectual distinction with a very admirable character. This intellectual distinction gave weight to his opinions, and was thought at the time to be greater than it appears in retrospect. There are various modern trends which are adverse also to his ethical and moral theories, but in these respects I cannot feel that the world has made any advance since his day.
Intellectually, he was unfortunate in the date of his birth. His predecessors were pioneers in one direction and his successors in another. The substructure of his opinions remained always that which had been laid down for him in youth by the dominating personality of his father, but the theories which he built upon this substructure were very largely such as it could not support. Skyscrapers, I am told, cannot be built in London because they need to be founded on rock. Mill's doctrines, like a skyscraper founded on clay, were shaky because the foundations were continually sinking. The new stories, which he added under the inspiration of Carlyle and Mrs. Taylor, were intellectually insecure. To put the matter in another way: morals and intellect were perpetually at war in his thought, morals being incarnate in Mrs. Taylor and intellect in his father. If the one was too soft, the other was too harsh. The amalgam which resulted was practically beneficent, but theoretically somewhat incoherent.

Mill's first important book was his Logic, which no doubt presented itself in his mind as a plea for experimental rather than a priori methods, and, as such, it was useful though not very original. He could not foresee the immense and surprising development of deductive logic which began with Boole's Laws of Thought in 1854, but only proved its importance at a considerably later date. Everything that Mill has to say in his Logic about matters other than inductive inference is perfunctory and conventional. He states, for example, that propositions are formed by putting together two names, one of which is the subject and the other the predicate. This, I am sure, appeared to him an innocuous truism; but it had been, in fact, the source of two thousand years of important error. On the subject of names, with which modern logic has been much concerned, what he has to say is totally inadequate, and is, in fact, not so good as what had been said by Duns Scotus and William of Occam. His famous contention that the syllogism in Barbara is a petitio principii, and that the argument is really from particulars to particulars, has a measure of truth in certain cases, but cannot be accepted as a general doctrine. He maintains, for example, that the proposition "all men are mortal" asserts "the Duke of Wellington is mortal" even if the person making the assertion has never heard of the Duke of Wellington. This is obviously untenable: a person who knows the meaning of the words "man" and "mortal" can understand the statement "all men are mortal" but can make no inference about a man he has never heard of; whereas, if Mill were right about the Duke of Wellington, a man could not understand this statement unless he knew the catalogue of all the men who ever have existed or ever will exist. His doctrine that inference is from particulars to particulars is correct psychology when applied to what I call "animal induction," but is never correct logic. To infer, from the mortality of men in the past, the mortality of those not yet dead, can only be legitimate if there is a general principle of induction. Broadly speaking, no general conclusion can be drawn without a general premise, and only a general premise will warrant a general conclusion from an incomplete enumeration of instances. What is more, there are general propositions of which no one can doubt the truth, although not a single instance of them can be given. Take, for example, the following: "All the whole numbers which no one will have thought of before the year A.D. 2000, are greater than a million." You cannot attempt to give me an instance without contradicting yourself, and you cannot pretend that all the whole numbers have been thought of by someone. From the time of Locke onward, British empiricists had had theories of knowledge which were inapplicable to mathematics; while Continental philosophers, with the exception of the French Philosophes, by an undue emphasis upon mathematics, had produced fantastic metaphysical systems. It was only after Mill's time that the sphere of empiricism was clearly delimited from that of mathematics and logic so that peaceful co-existence became possible. I first read Mill's Logic at the age of eighteen, and at that time I had a very strong bias in his favor; but even then I could not believe that our acceptance of the proposition "two and two are four" was a generalization from experience. I was quite at a loss to say how we arrived at this knowledge, but it -felt quite different from such a proposition as "all swans are white," which experience might, and in fact did, confute. It did not seem to me that a fresh instance of two and two being four in any degree strengthened my belief. But it is only the modern development of mathematical logic which has enabled me to justify these early feelings and to fit mathematics and empirical knowledge into a single framework.

Mill, although he knew a certain amount of mathematics, never learned to think in a mathematical way. His law of causation is not one which is employed in mathematical physics. It is a practical maxim employed by savages and philosophers in the conduct of daily life, but not employed in physics by anyone acquainted with the calculus. The laws of physics never state, as Mill's causal laws do, that A is always followed by B. They assert only that when A is present, there will be certain directions of change; since A also changes, the directions of change are themselves continually changing. The notion that causal laws are of the form "A causes B" is altogether too atomic, and could never have been entertained by anybody who had imaginatively apprehended the continuity of change.
But let us not be too dogmatic. There are those who say that physical changes are not continuous but explosive. These people, however, also say that individual events are not subject to any causal regularity, and that the apparent regularities of the world are only due to the law of averages. I do not know whether this doctrine is right or wrong; but, in any case, it is very different from Mill's.
Mill's law of causation is, in fact, only roughly and approximately true in an everyday and unscientific sense. Nevertheless, he thinks it is proved by an inference which elsewhere he considers very shaky: that of induction by simple enumeration. This process is not only shaky, but can be proved quite definitely to lead to false consequences more often than to true ones. If you find n objects all of which possess two properties, A and B, and you then find another object possessing the property A, it can easily be proved that it is unlikely to possess the property B. This is concealed from common sense by the fact that our animal propensity toward induction is confined to the sort of cases in which induction is liable to give correct results. Take the following as an example of an induction which no one would make: all the sheep that Kant ever saw were within ten miles of Konigsberg, but he felt no inclination to induce that all sheep were within ten miles of Konigsberg.
Modern physics does not use induction in the old sense at all. It makes enormous theories without pretending that they are in any exact sense true, and uses them only hypothetically until new facts turn up which require new theories. All that the modern physicist claims for a theory is that it fits the known facts and therefore cannot at present be refuted. The problem of induction in its traditional form has by most theoretical physicists been abandoned as insoluble. I am not by any means persuaded that they are right in this, but I think it is quite definitely demonstrable that the problem is very different from what Mill supposed it to be.
It is rather surprising that Mill was so little influenced by Darwin and the theory of evolution. This is the more curious as he frequently quotes Herbert Spencer. He seems to have accepted the Darwinian theory but without realizing its implications. In the chapter on "Classification" in his Logic, he speaks of "natural kinds" in an entirely pre-Darwinian fashion, and even suggests that the recognized species of animals and plants are infimae species in the scholastic sense, although Darwin's book on the Origin of Species proved this view to be untenable. It was natural that the first edition of his Logic 9 which appeared in 1843, should take no account of the theory of evolution, but it is odd that no modifications were made in later editions. What is perhaps still more surprising is that in his Three Essays on Religion, written very late in his life, he does not reject the argument from design based upon the adaptation of plants and animals to their environment, or discuss Darwin's explanation of this adaptation. I do not think that he ever imaginatively conceived of man as one among animals or escaped from the eighteenth-century belief that man is fundamentally rational. I am thinking, now, not of what he would have explicitly professed, but of what he unconsciously supposed whenever he was not on his guard. Most of us go about the world with such subconscious presuppositions which influence our beliefs more than explicit arguments do, and in most of us these presuppositions are fully formed by the time we are twenty-five. In the case of Mill, Mrs. Taylor effected certain changes, but these were not in the purely intellectual realm. In that realm, James continued to reign supreme over his son's subconscious.


The Principles of Political Economy was Mill's second major work. The first edition appeared in 1848, but it was followed by a substantially modified edition in the next year. Mr. Packe, in his admirable biography, has said most of what needs to be said about the difference between these two editions. The difference was mainly concerned with the question of Socialism. In the first edition, Socialism was criticized from the point of view of the orthodox tradition. But this shocked Mrs. Taylor, and she induced Mill to make very considerable modifications when a new edition was called for. One of the most valuable things in Mr. Packe's book is that he has at last enabled us to see Mrs. Taylor in an impartial light, and to understand the sources of her influence on Mill. But I think perhaps Mr. Packe is a little too severe in criticizing Mill for his change as regards Socialism. I cannot but think that what Mrs. Taylor did for him in this respect was to enable him to think what his own nature led him to think, as opposed to what he had been taught. His attitude to Socialism, as it appears in the later editions of the book, is by no means uncritical. He still feels that there are difficulties which Socialists do not adequately face. He says, for example, "It is the common error of Socialists to overlook the natural indolence of mankind"; and on this ground he fears that a Socialist community might stagnate. He lived in a happier age than ours: we should feel a joyful ecstasy if we could hope for anything as comfortable as stagnation.
In his chapter on "The Probable Futurity of the Laboring Classes" he develops a Utopia to which he looks forward. He hopes to see production in the hands of voluntary societies of workers. Production is not to be in the hands of the State, as Marxian Socialists have maintained that it should be. The Socialism to which Mill looks forward is that of St. Simon and Fourier. (Robert Owen, to my mind, is not sufficiently emphasized.) Pre-Marxian Socialism, which is that of which Mill writes, did not aim at increasing the power of the State. Mill argues emphatically that even under Socialism there will still have to be competition, though the competition will be between rival societies of workers, not between rival capitalists. He is inclined to admit that in such a Socialist system as he advocates the total production of goods might be less than under capitalism, but he contends that this would be no great evil provided everybody could be kept in reasonable comfort.
To readers of our time, who take it as part of the meaning of Socialism that private capitalists should be replaced by the State, it is difficult to avoid misunderstanding in reading Mill. Mill preserved all the distrust of the State which the Manchester School had developed in fighting the feudal aristocracy; and the distrust which he derived from this source was strengthened by his passionate belief in liberty. The power of governments, he says, is always dangerous. He is confident that this power will diminish. Future ages, he maintains, will be unable to credit the amount of government interference which has hitherto existed. It is painful to read a statement of this sort, since it makes one realize the impossibility of foreseeing, even in its most general outlines, the course of future development. The only nineteenth-century writer who foresaw the future with any approach to accuracy was Nietzsche, and he foresaw it, not because he was wiser than other men, but because all the hateful things that have been happening were such as he wished to see. It is only in our disillusioned age that prophets like Orwell have begun to foretell what they feared rather than what they hoped.
Mill, both in his prophecies and in his hopes, was misled by not foreseeing the increasing power of great organizations. This applies not only in economics, but also in other spheres. He maintained, for example, that the State ought to insist upon universal education, but ought not to do the educating itself. He never realized that, so far as elementary education is concerned, the only important alternative to the State is the Church, which he would hardly have preferred.
Mill distinguishes between Communism and Socialism. He prefers the latter, while not wholly condemning the former. The distinction in his day was not so sharp as it has since become. Broadly speaking, as he explains it, the distinction is that Communists object to all private property while Socialists contend only that "land and the instruments of production should be the property, not of individuals, but of communities or associations, or of the Government." There is a famous passage in which he expresses his opinion on Communism:
"If, therefore, the choice were to be made between Communism with all its chances, and the present state of society with all its sufferings and injustices; if the institution of private property necessarily carried with it as a consequence, that the produce of labor should be apportioned as we now see it, almost in an inverse ratio to the labor the largest portions to those who have never worked at all, the next largest to those whose work is almost nominal, and so in a descending scale, the remuneration dwindling as the work grows harder and more disagreeable, until the most fatiguing and exhausting bodily labor cannot count with certainty on being able to earn even the necessaries of life; if this or Communism were the alternative, all the difficulties, great or small, of Communism would be but as dust in the balance. But to make the comparison applicable, we must compare Communism at its best, with the regime of individual property, not as it is, but as it might be made. The principle of private property has never yet had a fair trial in any country; and less so, perhaps, in this country than in some others."
The history of words is curious. Nobody in Mill's time, with the possible exception of Marx, could have guessed that the word "Communism" would come to denote the military, administrative, and judicial tyranny of an oligarchy, permitting to the workers only so much of the produce of their labor as might be necessary to keep them from violent revolt. Marx, whom we can now see to have been the most influential of Mill's contemporaries, is, so far as I have been able to discover, not mentioned in any of Mill's writings, and it is quite probable that Mill never heard of him. The Communist Manifesto was published in the same year as Mill's Political Economy ', but the men who represented culture did not know of it. I wonder what unknown person in the present day will prove, a hundred years hence, to have been the dominant figure of our time.
Apart from the pronouncements on Socialism and Communism, Mill's Political Economy is not important. Its main principles are derived from his orthodox predecessors with only minor modifications. Ricardo's theory of value, with which on the whole he is in agreement, was superseded by Jevon's introduction of the concept of marginal utility, which represented an important theoretical improvement. As in his Logic, Mill is too ready to acquiesce in a traditional doctrine provided he is not aware of any practical evil resulting from it.


Much more important than Mill's longer treatises were his two short books On the Subjection of Women and On Liberty. In regard to the first of these, the world has gone completely as he would have wished. In regard to the second, there has been an exactly opposite movement.
It is a disgrace to both men and women that the world should have had to wait so long for champions of women's equality. Until the French Revolution, nobody except Plato ever thought of claiming equality for women, but when the subject came to be raised, incredibly ridiculous arguments were invented in support of the status quo. It was not only men who argued that women should have no part in politics. The arguments were equally convincing to women, and especially to political women such as Queen Victoria and Mrs. Sidney Webb. Very few seemed capable of realizing that the supremacy of men was based solely upon a supremacy of muscle. The claim for women's equality was regarded as a subject of ridicule, and remained so until three years before it achieved success. I spoke in favor of votes for women before the First World War and in favor of pacifism during it. The opposition which I encountered in the first of these causes was more virulent and more widespread than that which I encountered in the second. Few things in history are more surprising than the sudden concession of political rights to women in all civilized countries except Switzerland. This is, I think, part of a general change from a biological to a mechanistic outlook. Machinery diminishes the importance of muscle. Industry is less concerned with the seasons than agriculture. Democracy has destroyed dynasties and lessened the feeling of family continuity. Napoleon wanted his son to succeed him. Lenin, Stalin and Hitler had no such desire. I think the concession of equality to women has been rendered possible by the fact that they are no longer regarded primarily in a biological light. Mill remarks that the only women in England who are not slaves and drudges are those who are operatives in factories. Unaccountably, he forgot Queen Victoria. But there is a measure of truth in what he says, for the work of women in factories, unlike childbearing, is such as men are capable of doing. It seems that, however admirable the emancipation of women may be in itself, it is part of a vast sociological change emphasizing industry at the expense of agriculture, the factory at the expense of the nursery, and power at the expense of subsistence. I think the world has swung too far in this direction and will not return to sanity until the biological aspects of human life are again remembered. But I see no reason why, if this occurs, it should involve a revival of the subjection of women.
Mill's book On Liberty is more important to us in the present day than his book On the Subjection of Women. It is more important because the cause which it advocates has been less successful. There is, on the whole, much less liberty in the world now than there was a hundred years ago; and there is no reason to suppose that restrictions on liberty are likely to grow less in any foreseeable future. Mill points to Russia as a country so dominated by bureaucracy that no one, not even the individual bureaucrat, has any personal liberty. But the Russia of his day, after the emancipation of the serfs, had a thousand times more freedom than the Russia of our day. The Russia of his day produced great writers who opposed the autocracy, courageous revolutionaries who were able to carry on their propaganda in spite of prison and exile, even liberals among those in power, as the abolition of serfdom proved. There was every reason to hope that Russia would in time develop into a constitutional monarchy, marching by stages toward the degree of political freedom that existed in England. The growth of liberty was also apparent in other countries. In the United States, slavery was abolished a few years after the publication of Mill's book. In France, the monarchy of Napoleon III, which Mill passionately hated, came to an end eleven years after his book was published; and, at the same time, manhood suffrage was introduced in Germany. On such grounds I do not think that Mr. Packe is right in saying that the general movement of the time was against liberty, and I do not think that Mill's optimism was irrational.
With Mill's values, I for my part find myself in complete agreement. I think he is entirely right in emphasizing the importance of the individual in so far as values are concerned. I think, moreover, that it is even more desirable in our day than it was in his to uphold the kind of outlook for which he stands. But those who care for liberty in our day have to fight different battles from those of the nineteenth century, and have to devise new expedients if liberty is not to perish. From the seventeenth century to the end of the nineteenth, "Liberty" was the watchword of the radicals and revolutionaries; but in our day the word has been usurped by reactionaries, and those who think themselves most progressive are inclined to despise it. It is labeled as part of ''rotten bourgeois idealism" and is regarded as a middle-class fad, important only to those who already enjoy the elegant leisure of the well-to-do. So far as any one person is responsible for this change, the blame must fall on Marx, who substituted Prussian discipline for freedom as both the means and the end of revolutionary action. But Marx would not have had the success which he has had if there had not been large changes in social organization and in technique which furthered his ideals as opposed to those of earlier reformers.
What has changed the situation since Mill's day is, as I remarked before, the great increase of organization. Every organization is a combination of individuals for a purpose; and, if this purpose is to be achieved, it requires a certain subordination of the individuals to the whole. If the purpose is one in which all the individuals feel a keen interest, and if the executive of the organization commands confidence, the sacrifice of liberty may be very small. But if the purpose for which the organization exists inspires only its executive, to which the other members submit for extraneous reasons, the loss of liberty involved may grow until it becomes almost total. The larger the organization, the greater becomes the gap in power between those at the top and those at the bottom, and the more likelihood there is of oppression. The modern world, for technical reasons, is very much more organized than the world of a hundred years ago: there are very many fewer acts which a man does simply from his own impulse, and very many more which he is compelled or induced to perform by some authority. The advantages that spring from organization are so great and so obvious that it would be absurd to wish to return to an earlier condition, but those who are conscious only of the advantages are apt to overlook the dangers, which are very real and very menacing.
As a first example, let us take agriculture. In the years immediately succeeding the publication of Mill's Liberty, there was an immense development of pioneering in the Middle West of the United States. The pioneers prided themselves upon their u rugged individualism." They settled in regions which were well wooded, well watered, and of great natural fertility. Without excessive labor, they felled the trees, thereby securing log cabins and fuel, and when the soil was cleared, they procured a rich harvest of grain. There was, however, a serpent in this individualist paradise: the serpent was the railroad, without which the grain could not be got to market. The railroad represented a vast accumulation of capital, an enormous expenditure of labor, and a combination of very many persons, hardly any of them agriculturists. The pioneers were indignant at their loss of independence, and their indignation gave rise to the Populist movement, which, in spite of much heat, never achieved any success. In this case, however, there was only one enemy of personal independence. I was struck by the difference when I came in contact with pioneers in Australia. The conquering of new land for agriculture in Australia depends upon enormously expensive schemes of irrigation, too vast for the separate states and only practicable by the federal government. Even then, when a man has acquired a tract of land, it contains no timber, and all his building materials and his fuel have to be brought from a distance. Medical attention for himself and his family is only rendered possible by an elaborate organization of airplanes and radio. His livelihood depends upon the export trade, which prospers or suffers according to the vagaries of distant governments. His mentality, his tastes and his feelings, are still those of the rugged individualist pioneer of a hundred years ago, but his circumstances are totally different. However he may wish to rebel, he is tightly controlled by forces that are entirely external to himself. Intellectual liberty he may still have; but economic liberty has become a dream.
But the life of the Australian pioneer is one of heavenly bliss when compared with that of the peasant in Communist countries, who has become more completely a serf than he was in the worst days of the Czardom. He owns no land, he has no right to the produce of his own labor, the authorities permit him only a bare subsistence, and any complaint may land him in a forced-labor camp. The totalitarian State is the last term of organization, the goal toward which, if we are not careful, we shall find all developed countries tending. Socialists have thought that the power hitherto vested in capitalists would become beneficent if vested in the State. To some degree this is true, so long as the State is democratic. Communists, unfortunately, forgot this proviso. By transferring economic power to an oligarchic State, they produced an engine of tyranny more dreadful, more vast, and at the same time more minute than any that had existed in previous history. I do not think this was the intention of those who made the Russian Revolution, but it was the effect of their actions. Their actions had this effect because they failed to realize the need of liberty and the inevitable evils of despotic power.
But the evils, of which the extreme form is seen in Communist countries, exist in a lesser degree, and may easily increase, in many countries belonging to what is somewhat humorously called the "Free World." Vavilov, the most distinguished geneticist that Russia has produced in recent times, was sent to perish miserably in the Arctic because he would not subscribe to Stalin's ignorant belief in the inheritance of acquired characters. Oppenheimer is disgraced and prevented from pursuing his work largely because he doubted the practicability of the hydrogen bomb at a time when this doubt was entirely rational. The FBI, which has only the level of education to be expected among policemen, considers itself competent to withhold visas from the most learned men in Europe on grounds which every person capable of understanding the matters at issue knows to be absurd. This evil has reached such a point that international conferences of learned men in the United States have become impossible. It is curious that Mill makes very little mention of the police as a danger to liberty. In our day, they are its worst enemy in most civilized countries.


IT is an interesting speculation, and perhaps not a wholly idle one, to consider how Mill would have written his book if he had been writing now. I think that everything he says on the value of liberty could stand unchanged. So long as human life persists, liberty will be essential to many of the greatest goods that our terrestrial existence has to offer. It has its profound source in one of our most elementary instincts: newborn infants fall into a rage if their limbs are constricted. The kinds of freedom that are desired change with growth in years and knowledge, but it remains an essential source of simple happiness. But it is not only happiness that is lost when liberty is needlessly impaired. It is also all the more important and difficult kinds of usefulness. Almost every great serv- ice that individuals have ever done to mankind has exposed them to violent hostility extending often to martyrdom. All this is said by Mill so well that it would require no alteration except the supplying of more recent instances.
Mill would, I think, go on to say that unwarrantable interferences with liberty are mostly derived from one or other of two sources: the first of these is a tyrannical moral code which demands of others conformity with rules of behavior which they do not accept; the other, which is the more important, is unjust power.
Of the first of these, the tyranny of moral codes, Mill gives various examples. He has an eloquent and powerful passage on the persecution of the Mormons, which is all the better for his purposes because no one could suspect him of thinking well of polygamy. Another of his examples of undue interference with liberty in the supposed interests of a moral code is the observance of the Sabbath, which has lost most of its importance since his day. My father, who was a disciple of Mill, spent his brief Parliamentary career in a vain endeavor to persuade the House of Commons that T. H. Huxley's lectures were not entertaining, for, if they could be considered as entertainment, they were illegal on Sundays.
I think if Mill were writing now he would choose in further illustration two matters which the police have recently brought to the fore. The first of these is ' 'obscene" literature. The law on this subject is exceedingly vague; indeed, if there is to be any law about it, it cannot well help being vague. In practice, anything is obscene which happens to shock a magistrate; and even things which do not shock a magistrate may become the subject of prosecution if they happen to shock some ignorant policeman, as happened recently in the case of the Decameron. One of the evils of any law of this sort is that it prevents the diffusion of useful knowledge if such knowledge was not thought useful when the magistrate in question was a boy. Most of us had thought that matters were improving in this respect, but recent experience has made us doubtful. I cannot think that the feeling of shock which an elderly man experiences on being brought in contact with something to which he is not accustomed is a sufficient basis for an accusation of crime.
The second matter in which Mill's principles condemn existing legislation is homosexuality. If two adults voluntarily enter into such a relation, this is a matter which concerns them only, and in which, therefore, the community ought not to intervene. If it were still believed, as it once was, that the toleration of such behavior would expose the community to the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, the community would have every right to intervene. But it does not acquire a right to intervene merely on the ground that such conduct is thought wicked. The criminal law may rightly be invoked to prevent violence or fraud inflicted upon unwilling victims, but it ought not to be invoked when whatever damage there may be is suffered only by the agents always assuming that the agents are adults.
Of much greater importance than these remnants of medievalism in our legislation, is the question of unjust power. It was this question which gave rise to the liberalism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They protested against the power of monarchs, and against the power of the Church in countries where there was religious persecution. They protested also against alien domination wherever there was a strong national sentiment running counter to it. On the whole, these aims were successfully achieved. Monarchs were replaced by presidents, religious persecution almost disappeared, and the Treaty of Versailles did what it could to realize the liberal principle of nationality. In spite of all this, the world did not become a paradise. Lovers of liberty found that there was less of it than there had been, not more. But the slogans and strategies which had brought victory in the past to the liberal cause were not applicable to the new situation, and the liberals found themselves deserted by the supposedly progressive advocates of new forms of tyranny. Kings and priests and capitalists are, on the whole, outmoded bogies. It is officials who represent the modern danger. Against the power of officials, single individuals can do little; only organizations can combat organizations. I think we shall have to revive Montesquieu's doctrine of the division of powers, but in new forms. Consider, for example, the conflict of labor and capital which dominated the minds of Socialists. Socialists imagined that the evils they were combating would cease if the power of capital was put into the hands of the State. This was done in Russia with the approval of organized labor. As soon as it had been done the trade unions were deprived of independent power, and labor found itself more completely enslaved than ever before. There is no monolithic solution of this problem that will leave any loop-hole for liberty. The only possible solution that a lover of liberty can support must be one in which there are rival powers, neither of them absolute, and each compelled in a crisis to pay some attention to public opinion. This means, in practice, that trade unions must preserve their independence of the executive. Undoubtedly the liberty enjoyed by a man who must belong to his union if he is to obtain employment is an inadequate and imperfect liberty; but it seems to be the best that modern industries can permit.
There is one sphere in which the advocate of liberty is confronted with peculiar difficulties. I mean the sphere of education. It has never been thought that children should be free to choose whether they will be educated or not; and it is not now held that parents ought to have this freedom of choice. Mill thought that the State should insist that children should be educated, but should not itself do the educating. He had, however, not very much to say about how the educating should be done. I will try to consider what he would say on this subject if he were writing now.
Let us begin by asking the question of principle, namely, what should a lover of liberty wish to see done in the schools? I think the ideal but somewhat Utopian answer would be that the pupils should be qualified as far as possible to form a reasonable judgment on controversial questions in regard to which they are likely to have to act. This would require, on the one hand, a training in judicial habits of thought; and, on the other hand, access to impartial supplies of knowledge. In this way the pupil would be prepared for a genuine freedom of choice on becoming adult* We cannot give freedom to the child, but we can give him a preparation for freedom; and this is what education ought to do.
This, however, is not the theory of education which has prevailed in most parts of the world. The theory of education which has prevailed most widely was invented by the Jesuits and perfected by Fichte. Fichte states that the object of education should be to destroy freedom of the will, for why, he asks, should we wish a freedom to choose what is wrong rather than what is right? Fichte knows what is right, and desires a school system such that, when the children grow up, they will be under an inner compulsion to choose what Fichte considers right in preference to what he considers wrong. This theory is adopted in its entirety by Communists and Catholics, and, up to a point, by the State schools of many countries. Its purpose is to produce mental slaves, who have heard only one side on all the burning questions of the day and have been inspired with feelings of horror toward the other side. There is just one slight divergence from what Fichte wanted: although his method of education is approved, the dogmas inculcated differ from country to country and from creed to creed. What Fichte chiefly wished taught was the superiority of the German nation to all others; but on this one small point most of his disciples disagreed with him. The consequence is that State education, in the countries which adopt his principles, produces, in so far as it is successful, a herd of ignorant fanatics, ready at the word of command to engage in war or persecution as may be required of them. So great is this evil that the world would be a better place (at any rate, in my opinion) if State education had never been inaugurated.
There is a broad principle which helps in deciding many questions as to the proper sphere of liberty. The things that make for individual well-being are, broadly speaking, of two sorts: namely, those in which private possession is possible and those in which it is not. The food that one man eats cannot be also eaten by another; but if a man enjoys a poem, he does not thereby place any obstacle in the way of another man's enjoyment of it. Roughly speaking, the goods of which private possession is possible are material, whereas the other sort of goods are mental. Material goods, if the supply is not unlimited, should be distributed on principles of justice: no one should have too much if, in consequence, someone else has too little. This principle of distribution will not result from unrestricted liberty, which would lead to Hobbes's war of all against all and end in the victory of the stronger. But mental goods such as knowledge, enjoyment of beauty, friendship and love are not taken away from other people by those whose lives are enriched by them. There is not, therefore, any prima-facie case for restrictions of liberty in this sphere. Those who forbid certain kinds of knowledge, or, like Plato and Stalin, certain kinds of music and poetry, are allowing Government to intervene in regions where it has no locus stmdi. I do not wish to overemphasize the importance of this principle, for there are many cases in which the distinction between material and mental goods cannot be sharply drawn. One of the most obvious of these is the printing of books. A book is as material as a plum pudding, but the good that we expect to derive from it is mental. It is not easy to devise any sound principle upon which even the wisest authority could decide what books deserve to be printed. I do not think that any improvement is possible upon the present diversity of publishers. Wherever there is an authority, whether secular or ecclesiastical, whose permission is required before a book can be printed, the results are disastrous. The same thing applies to the arts: no one, not even a Communist, will now contend that Russian music was improved by Stalin's intervention.
Mill deserved the eminence which he enjoyed in his own day, not by his intellect but by his intellectual virtues. He was not a great philosopher, like Descartes or Hume. In the realm of philosophy, he derived his ideas from Hume and Bentham and his father. But he blended the harshness of the Philosophical Radicals with something of the Romantic Movement, derived first from Coleridge and Carlyle and then from his wife. What he took over, he made rational in assimilating it. The follies and violences of some Romantics made no impression upon him. His intellectual integrity was impeccable. When he engaged in controversy, he did so with the most minutely scrupulous fairness. The people against whom his controversies were directed deserved almost always the urbanely worded strictures which he passed upon them.
In spite of his purely intellectual deficiencies, his influence was very great and very beneficent. He made rationalism and Socialism respectable, though his Socialism was of the preMarxist sort which did not involve an increase in the powers of the State. His advocacy of equality for women in the end won almost world-wide acceptance. His book On Liberty remains a classic: although it is easy to point out theoretical defects, its value increases as the world travels farther and farther from his teaching. The present world would both astonish and horrify him; but it would be better than it is, if his ethical principles were more respected.