Professor of Social Philosophy in the University of Toulouse and Deputy-Professor at the Sorbonne, Paris.
How has our conception of social phenomena, and of their history, been affected by Darwin's conception of Nature and the laws of its transformations? To what extent and in what particular respects have the discoveries and hypotheses of the author of "The Origin of Species" aided the efforts of those who have sought to construct a science of society?
To such a question it is certainly not easy to give any brief or precise answer. We find traces of Darwinism almost everywhere. Sociological systems differing widely from each other have laid claim to its authority; while, on the other hand, its influence has often made itself felt only in combination with other influences. The Darwinian thread is worked into a hundred patterns along with other threads.
To deal with the problem, we must, it seems, first of all distinguish the more general conclusions in regard to the evolution of living beings, which are the outcome of Darwinism, from the particular explanations it offers of the ways and means by which that evolution is effected. That is to say, we must, as far as possible, estimate separately the influence of Darwin as an evolutionist and Darwin as a selectionist.
The nineteenth century, said Cournot, has witnessed a mighty effort to "reintegrer l'homme dans la nature." From divers quarters there has been a methodical reaction against the persistent dualism of the Cartesian tradition, which was itself the unconscious heir of the Christian tradition. Even the philosophy of the eighteenth century, materialistic as were for the most part the tendencies of its leaders, seemed to revere man as a being apart, concerning whom laws might be formulated a priori. To bring him down from his pedestal there was needed the marked predominance of positive researches wherein no account was taken of the "pride of man." There can be no doubt that Darwin has done much to familiarise us with this attitude. Take for instance the first part of "The Descent of Man": it is an accumulation of typical facts, all tending to diminish the distance between us and our brothers, the lower animals. One might say that the naturalist had here taken as his motto, "Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." Homologous structures, the survival in man of certain organs of animals, the rudiments in the animal of certain human faculties, a multitude of facts of this sort, led Darwin to the conclusion that there is no ground for supposing that the "king of the universe" is exempt from universal laws. Thus belief in the imperium in imperio has been, as it were, whittled away by the progress of the naturalistic spirit, itself continually strengthened by the conquests of the natural sciences. The tendency may, indeed, drag the social sciences into overstrained analogies, such, for instance, as the assimilation of societies to organisms. But it will, at least, have had the merit of helping sociology to shake off the pre-conception that the groups formed by men are artificial, and that history is completely at the mercy of chance. Some years before the appearance of "The Origin of Species", Auguste Comte had pointed out the importance, as regards the unification of positive knowledge, of the conviction that the social world, the last refuge of spiritualism, is itself subject to determininism. It cannot be doubted that the movement of thought which Darwin's discoveries promoted contributed to the spread of this conviction, by breaking down the traditional barrier which cut man off from Nature.
But Nature, according to modern naturalists, is no immutable thing: it is rather perpetual movement, continual progression. Their discoveries batter a breach directly into the Aristotelian notion of species; they refuse to see in the animal world a collection of immutable types, distinct from all eternity, and corresponding, as Cuvier said, to so many particular thoughts of the Creator. Darwin especially congratulated himself upon having been able to deal this doctrine the coup de grace: immutability is, he says, his chief enemy; and he is concerned to show—therein following up Lyell's work—that everything in the organic world, as in the inorganic, is explained by insensible but incessant transformations. "Nature makes no leaps"—"Nature knows no gaps": these two dicta form, as it were, the two landmarks between which Darwin's idea of transformation is worked out. That is to say, the development of Darwinism is calculated to further the application of the philosophy of Becoming to the study of human institutions.
The progress of the natural sciences thus brings unexpected reinforcements to the revolution which the progress of historical discipline had begun. The first attempt to constitute an actual science of social phenomena—that, namely, of the economists—had resulted in laws which were called natural, and which were believed to be eternal and universal, valid for all times and all places. But this perpetuality, brother, as Knies said, of the immutability of the old zoology, did not long hold out against the ever swelling tide of the historical movement. Knowledge of the transformations that had taken place in language, of the early phases of the family, of religion, of property, had all favoured the revival of the Heraclitean view: panta rei. As to the categories of political economy, it was soon to be recognised, as by Lassalle, that they too are only historical. The philosophy of history, moreover, gave expression under various forms to the same tendency. Hegel declares that "all that is real is rational," but at the same time he shows that all that is real is ephemeral, and that for history there is nothing fixed beneath the sun. It is this sense of universal evolution that Darwin came with fresh authority to enlarge. It was in the name of biological facts themselves that he taught us to see only slow metamorphoses in the history of institutions, and to be always on the outlook for survivals side by side with rudimentary forms. Anyone who reads "Primitive Culture", by Tylor,—a writer closely connected with Darwin—will be able to estimate the services which these cardinal ideas were to render to the social sciences when the age of comparative research had succeeded to that of a priori construction.
Let us note, moreover, that the philosophy of Becoming in passing through the Darwinian biology became, as it were, filtered: it got rid of those traces of finalism, which, under different forms, it had preserved through all the systems of German Romanticism. Even in Herbert Spencer, it has been plausibly argued, one can detect something of that sort of mystic confidence in forces spontaneously directing life, which forms the very essence of those systems. But Darwin's observations were precisely calculated to render such an hypothesis futile. At first people may have failed to see this; and we call to mind the ponderous sarcasms of Flourens when he objected to the theory of Natural Selection that it attributed to nature a power of free choice. "Nature endowed with will! That was the final error of last century; but the nineteenth no longer deals in personifications." (P. Flourens, "Examen du Livre de M. Darwin sur l'Origine des Especes", page 53, Paris, 1864. See also Huxley, "Criticisms on the 'Origin of Species'", "Collected Essays", Vol. II, page 102, London, 1902.) In fact Darwin himself put his readers on their guard against the metaphors he was obliged to use. The processes by which he explains the survival of the fittest are far from affording any indication of the design of some transcendent breeder. Nor, if we look closely, do they even imply immanent effort in the animal; the sorting out can be brought about mechanically, simply by the action of the environment. In this connection Huxley could with good reason maintain that Darwin's originality consisted in showing how harmonies which hitherto had been taken to imply the agency of intelligence and will could be explained without any such intervention. So, when later on, objective sociology declares that, even when social phenomena are in question, all finalist preconceptions must be distrusted if a science is to be constituted, it is to Darwin that its thanks are due; he had long been clearing paths for it which lay well away from the old familiar road trodden by so many theories of evolution.
This anti-finalist doctrine, when fully worked out, was, moreover, calculated to aid in the needful dissociation of two notions: that of evolution and that of progress. In application to society these had long been confounded; and, as a consequence, the general idea seemed to be that only one type of evolution was here possible. Do we not detect such a view in Comte's sociology, and perhaps even in Herbert Spencer's? Whoever, indeed, assumes an end for evolution is naturally inclined to think that only one road leads to that end. But those whose minds the Darwinian theory has enlightened are aware that the transformations of living beings depend primarily upon their conditions, and that it is these conditions which are the agents of selection from among individual variations. Hence, it immediately follows that transformations are not necessarily improvements. Here, Darwin's thought hesitated. Logically his theory proves, as Ray Lankester pointed out, that the struggle for existence may have as its outcome degeneration as well as amelioration: evolution may be regressive as well as progressive. Then, too—and this is especially to be borne in mind—each species takes its good where it finds it, seeks its own path and survives as best it can. Apply this notion to society and you arrive at the theory of multilinear evolution. Divergencies will no longer surprise you. You will be forewarned not to apply to all civilisations the same measure of progress, and you will recognise that types of evolution may differ just as social species themselves differ. Have we not here one of the conceptions which mark off sociology proper from the old philosophy of history?
But if we are to estimate the influence of Darwinism upon sociological conceptions, we must not dwell only upon the way in which Darwin impressed the general notion of evolution upon the minds of thinkers. We must go into details. We must consider the influence of the particular theories by which he explained the mechanism of this evolution. The name of the author of "The Origin of Species" has been especially attached, as everyone knows, to the doctrines of "natural selection" and of "struggle for existence," completed by the notion of "individual variation." These doctrines were turned to account by very different schools of social philosophy. Pessimistic and optimistic, aristocratic and democratic, individualistic and socialistic systems were to war with each other for years by casting scraps of Darwinism at each other's heads.
It was the spectacle of human contrivance that suggested to Darwin his conception of natural selection. It was in studying the methods of pigeon breeders that he divined the processes by which nature, in the absence of design, obtains analogous results in the differentiation of types. As soon as the importance of artificial selection in the transformation of species of animals was understood, reflection naturally turned to the human species, and the question arose, How far do men observe, in connection with themselves, those laws of which they make practical application in the case of animals? Here we come upon one of the ideas which guided the researches of Galton, Darwin's cousin. The author of "Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development" ("Inquiries into Human Faculty", pages 1, 2, 3 sq., London, 1883.), has often expressed his surprise that, considering all the precautions taken, for example, in the breeding of horses, none whatever are taken in the breeding of the human species. It seems to be forgotten that the species suffers when the "fittest" are not able to perpetuate their type. Ritchie, in his "Darwinism and Politics" ("Darwinism and Politics" pages 9, 22, London, 1889.) reminds us of Darwin's remark that the institution of the peerage might be defended on the ground that peers, owing to the prestige they enjoy, are enabled to select as wives "the most beautiful and charming women out of the lower ranks." ("Life and Letters of Charles Darwin", II. page 385.) But, says Galton, it is as often as not "heiresses" that they pick out, and birth statistics seem to show that these are either less robust or less fecund than others. The truth is that considerations continue to preside over marriage which are entirely foreign to the improvement of type, much as this is a condition of general progress. Hence the importance of completing Odin's and De Candolle's statistics which are designed to show how characters are incorporated in organisms, how they are transmitted, how lost, and according to what law eugenic elements depart from the mean or return to it.
But thinkers do not always content themselves with undertaking merely the minute researches which the idea of Selection suggests. They are eager to defend this or that thesis. In the name of this idea certain social anthropologists have recast the conception of the process of civilisation, and have affirmed that Social Selection generally works against the trend of Natural Selection. Vacher de Lapouge—following up an observation by Broca on the point—enumerates the various institutions, or customs, such as the celibacy of priests and military conscription, which cause elimination or sterilisation of the bearers of certain superior qualities, intellectual or physical. In a more general way he attacks the democratic movement, a movement, as P. Bourget says, which is "anti-physical" and contrary to the natural laws of progress; though it has been inspired "by the dreams of that most visionary of all centuries, the eighteenth." (V. de Lapouge, "Les Selections sociales", page 259, Paris, 1896.) The "Equality" which levels down and mixes (justly condemned, he holds, by the Comte de Gobineau), prevents the aristocracy of the blond dolichocephales from holding the position and playing the part which, in the interests of all, should belong to them. Otto Ammon, in his "Natural Selection in Man", and in "The Social Order and its Natural Bases" ("Die naturliche Auslese beim Menschen", Jena, 1893; "Die Gesellschaftsordnung und ihre naturlichen Grundlagen". "Entwurf einer Sozialanthropologie", Jena, 1896.), defended analogous doctrines in Germany; setting the curve representing frequency of talent over against that of income, he attempted to show that all democratic measures which aim at promoting the rise in the social scale of the talented are useless, if not dangerous; that they only increase the panmixia, to the great detriment of the species and of society.
Among the aristocratic theories which Darwinism has thus inspired we must reckon that of Nietzsche. It is well known that in order to complete his philosophy he added biological studies to his philological; and more than once in his remarks upon the "Wille zur Macht" he definitely alludes to Darwin; though it must be confessed that it is generally in order to proclaim the in sufficiency of the processes by which Darwin seeks to explain the genesis of species. Nevertheless, Nietzsche's mind is completely possessed by an ideal of Selection. He, too, has a horror of panmixia. The naturalists' conception of "the fittest" is joined by him to that of the "hero" of romance to furnish a basis for his doctrine of the Superman. Let us hasten to add, moreover, that at the very moment when support was being sought in the theory of Selection for the various forms of the aristocratic doctrine, those same forms were being battered down on another side by means of that very theory. Attention was drawn to the fact that by virtue of the laws which Darwin himself had discovered isolation leads to etiolation. There is a risk that the privilege which withdraws the privileged elements of Society from competition will cause them to degenerate. In fact, Jacoby in his "Studies in Selection, in connexion with Heredity in Man", ("Etudes sur la Selection dans ses rapports avec l'heredite chez l'homme", Paris, page 481, 1881.), concludes that "sterility, mental debility, premature death and, finally, the extinction of the stock were not specially and exclusively the fate of sovereign dynasties; all privileged classes, all families in exclusively elevated positions share the fate of reigning families, although in a minor degree and in direct proportion to the loftiness of their social standing. From the mass of human beings spring individuals, families, races, which tend to raise themselves above the common level; painfully they climb the rugged heights, attain the summits of power, of wealth, of intelligence, of talent, and then, no sooner are they there than they topple down and disappear in gulfs of mental and physical degeneracy." The demographical researches of Hansen ("Die drei Bevolkerungsstufen", Munich, 1889.) (following up and completing Dumont's) tended, indeed, to show that urban as well as feudal aristocracies, burgher classes as well as noble castes, were liable to become effete. Hence it might well be concluded that the democratic movement, operating as it does to break down class barriers, was promoting instead of impeding human selection.
So we see that, according to the point of view, very different conclusions have been drawn from the application of the Darwinian idea of Selection to human society. Darwin's other central idea, closely bound up with this, that, namely, of the "struggle for existence" also has been diversely utilised. But discussion has chiefly centered upon its signification. And while some endeavour to extend its application to everything, we find others trying to limit its range. The conception of a "struggle for existence" has in the present day been taken up into the social sciences from natural science, and adopted. But originally it descended from social science to natural. Darwin's law is, as he himself said, only Malthus' law generalised and extended to the animal world: a growing disproportion between the supply of food and the number of the living is the fatal order whence arises the necessity of universal struggle, a struggle which, to the great advantage of the species, allows only the best equipped individuals to survive. Nature is regarded by Huxley as an immense arena where all living beings are gladiators. ("Evolution and Ethics", page 200; "Collected Essays", Vol. IX, London, 1894.)
Such a generalisation was well adapted to feed the stream of pessimistic thought; and it furnished to the apologists of war, in particular, new arguments, weighted with all the authority which in these days attaches to scientific deliverances. If people no longer say, as Bonald did, and Moltke after him, that war is a providential fact, they yet lay stress on the point that it is a natural fact. To the peace party Dragomirov's objection is urged that its attempts are contrary to the fundamental laws of nature, and that no sea wall can hold against breakers that come with such gathered force.
But in yet another quarter Darwinism was represented as opposed to philanthropic intervention. The defenders of the orthodox political economy found in it support for their tenets. Since in the organic world universal struggle is the condition of progress, it seemed obvious that free competition must be allowed to reign unchecked in the economic world. Attempts to curb it were in the highest degree imprudent. The spirit of Liberalism here seemed in conformity with the trend of nature: in this respect, at least, contemporary naturalism, offspring of the discoveries of the nineteenth century, brought reinforcements to the individualist doctrine, begotten of the speculations of the eighteenth: but only, it appeared, to turn mankind away for ever from humanitarian dreams. Would those whom such conclusions repelled be content to oppose to nature's imperatives only the protests of the heart? There were some who declared, like Brunetiere, that the laws in question, valid though they might be for the animal kingdom, were not applicable to the human. And so a return was made to the classic dualism. This indeed seems to be the line that Huxley took, when, for instance, he opposed to the cosmic process an ethical process which was its reverse.
But the number of thinkers whom this antithesis does not satisfy grows daily. Although the pessimism which claims authorisation from Darwin's doctrines is repugnant to them, they still are unable to accept the dualism which leaves a gulf between man and nature. And their endeavour is to link the two by showing that while Darwin's laws obtain in both kingdoms, the conditions of their application are not the same: their forms, and, consequently, their results, vary with the varying mediums in which the struggle of living beings takes place, with the means these beings have at disposal, with the ends even which they propose to themselves.
Here we have the explanation of the fact that among determined opponents of war partisans of the "struggle for existence" can be found: there are disciples of Darwin in the peace party. Novicow, for example, admits the "combat universel" of which Le Dantec ("Les Luttes entre Societies humaines et leurs phases successives", Paris, 1893,) speaks; but he remarks that at different stages of evolution, at different stages of life the same weapons are not necessarily employed. Struggles of brute force, armed hand to hand conflicts, may have been a necessity in the early phases of human societies. Nowadays, although competition may remain inevitable and indispensable, it can assume milder forms. Economic rivalries, struggles between intellectual influences, suffice to stimulate progress: the processes which these admit are, in the actual state of civilisation, the only ones which attain their end without waste, the only ones logical. From one end to the other of the ladder of life, struggle is the order of the day; but more and more as the higher rungs are reached, it takes on characters which are proportionately more "humane."
Reflections of this kind permit the introduction into the economic order of limitations to the doctrine of "laisser faire, laisser passer." This appeals, it is said, to the example of nature where creatures, left to themselves, struggle without truce and without mercy; but the fact is forgotten that upon industrial battlefields the conditions are different. The competitors here are not left simply to their natural energies: they are variously handicapped. A rich store of artificial resources exists in which some participate and others do not. The sides then are unequal; and as a consequence the result of the struggle is falsified. "In the animal world," said De Laveleye ("Le socialisme contemporain", page 384 (6th edition), Paris, 1891.), criticising Spencer, "the fate of each creature is determined by its individual qualities; whereas in civilised societies a man may obtain the highest position and the most beautiful wife because he is rich and well-born, although he may be ugly, idle or improvident; and then it is he who will perpetuate the species. The wealthy man, ill constituted, incapable, sickly, enjoys his riches and establishes his stock under the protection of the laws." Haycraft in England and Jentsch in Germany have strongly emphasised these "anomalies," which nevertheless are the rule. That is to say that even from a Darwinian point of view all social reforms can readily be justified which aim at diminishing, as Wallace said, inequalities at the start.
But we can go further still. Whence comes the idea that all measures inspired by the sentiment of solidarity are contrary to Nature's trend? Observe her carefully, and she will not give lessons only in individualism. Side by side with the struggle for existence do we not find in operation what Lanessan calls "association for existence." Long ago, Espinas had drawn attention to "societies of animals," temporary or permanent, and to the kind of morality that arose in them. Since then, naturalists have often insisted upon the importance of various forms of symbiosis. Kropotkin in "Mutual Aid" has chosen to enumerate many examples of altruism furnished by animals to mankind. Geddes and Thomson went so far as to maintain that "Each of the greater steps of progress is in fact associated with an increased measure of subordination of individual competition to reproductive or social ends, and of interspecific competition to co-operative association." (Geddes and Thomson, "The Evolution of Sex", page 311, London, 1889.) Experience shows, according to Geddes, that the types which are fittest to surmount great obstacles are not so much those who engage in the fiercest competitive struggle for existence, as those who contrive to temper it. From all these observations there resulted, along with a limitation of Darwinian pessimism, some encouragement for the aspirations of the collectivists.
And Darwin himself would, doubtless, have subscribed to these rectifications. He never insisted, like his rival, Wallace, upon the necessity of the solitary struggle of creatures in a state of nature, each for himself and against all. On the contrary, in "The Descent of Man", he pointed out the serviceableness of the social instincts, and corroborated Bagehot's statements when the latter, applying laws of physics to politics, showed the great advantage societies derived from intercourse and communion. Again, the theory of sexual evolution which makes the evolution of types depend increasingly upon preferences, judgments, mental factors, surely offers something to qualify what seems hard and brutal in the theory of natural selection.
But, as often happens with disciples, the Darwinians had out-Darwined Darwin. The extravagancies of social Darwinism provoked a useful reaction; and thus people were led to seek, even in the animal kingdom, for facts of solidarity which would serve to justify humane effort.
On quite another line, however, an attempt has been made to connect socialist tendencies with Darwinian principles. Marx and Darwin have been confronted; and writers have undertaken to show that the work of the German philosopher fell readily into line with that of the English naturalist and was a development of it. Such has been the endeavour of Ferri in Italy and of Woltmann in Germany, not to mention others. The founders of "scientific socialism" had, moreover, themselves thought of this reconciliation. They make more than one allusion to Darwin in works which appeared after 1859. And sometimes they use his theory to define by contrast their own ideal. They remark that the capitalist system, by giving free course to individual competition, ends indeed in a bellum omnium contra omnes; and they make it clear that Darwinism, thus understood, is as repugnant to them as to Duhring.
But it is at the scientific and not at the moral point of view that they place themselves when they connect their economic history with Darwin's work. Thanks to this unifying hypothesis, they claim to have constructed—as Marx does in his preface to "Das Kapital"—a veritable natural history of social evolution. Engels speaks in praise of his friend Marx as having discovered the true mainspring of history hidden under the veil of idealism and sentimentalism, and as having proclaimed in the primum vivere the inevitableness of the struggle for existence. Marx himself, in "Das Kapital", indicated another analogy when he dwelt upon the importance of a general technology for the explanation of this psychology:—a history of tools which would be to social organs what Darwinism is to the organs of animal species. And the very importance they attach to tools, to apparatus, to machines, abundantly proves that neither Marx nor Engels were likely to forget the special characters which mark off the human world from the animal. The former always remains to a great extent an artificial world. Inventions change the face of its institutions. New modes of production revolutionise not only modes of government, but modes even of collective thought. Therefore it is that the evolution of society is controlled by laws special to it, of which the spectacle of nature offers no suggestion.
If, however, even in this special sphere, it can still be urged that the evolution of the material conditions of society is in accord with Darwin's theory, it is because the influence of the methods of production is itself to be explained by the incessant strife of the various classes with each other. So that in the end Marx, like Darwin, finds the source of all progress in struggle. Both are grandsons of Heraclitus:—polemos pater panton. It sometimes happens, in these days, that the doctrine of revolutionary socialism is contrasted as rude and healthy with what may seem to be the enervating tendency of "solidarist" philanthropy: the apologists of the doctrine then pride themselves above all upon their faithfulness to Darwinian principles.
So far we have been mainly concerned to show the use that social philosophies have made of the Darwinian laws for practical purposes: in order to orientate society towards their ideals each school tries to show that the authority of natural science is on its side. But even in the most objective of theories, those which systematically make abstraction of all political tendencies in order to study the social reality in itself, traces of Darwinism are readily to be found.
Let us take for example Durkheim's theory of Division of Labour ("De la Division du Travail social", Paris, 1893.) The conclusions he derives from it are that whenever professional specialisation causes multiplication of distinct branches of activity, we get organic solidarity—implying differences—substituted for mechanical solidarity, based upon likenesses. The umbilical cord, as Marx said, which connects the individual consciousness with the collective consciousness is cut. The personality becomes more and more emancipated. But on what does this phenomenon, so big with consequences, itself depend? The author goes to social morphology for the answer: it is, he says, the growing density of population which brings with it this increasing differentiation of activities. But, again, why? Because the greater density, in thrusting men up against each other, augments the intensity of their competition for the means of existence; and for the problems which society thus has to face differentiation of functions presents itself as the gentlest solution.
Here one sees that the writer borrows directly from Darwin. Competition is at its maximum between similars, Darwin had declared; different species, not laying claim to the same food, could more easily coexist. Here lay the explanation of the fact that upon the same oak hundreds of different insects might be found. Other things being equal, the same applies to society. He who finds some unadopted speciality possesses a means of his own for getting a living. It is by this division of their manifold tasks that men contrive not to crush each other. Here we obviously have a Darwinian law serving as intermediary in the explanation of that progress of division of labour which itself explains so much in the social evolution.
And we might take another example, at the other end of the series of sociological systems. G. Tarde is a sociologist with the most pronounced anti-naturalistic views. He has attempted to show that all application of the laws of natural science to society is misleading. In his "Opposition Universelle" he has directly combatted all forms of sociological Darwinism. According to him the idea that the evolution of society can be traced on the same plan as the evolution of species is chimerical. Social evolution is at the mercy of all kinds of inventions, which by virtue of the laws of imitation modify, through individual to individual, through neighbourhood to neighbourhood, the general state of those beliefs and desires which are the only "quantities" whose variation matters to the sociologist. But, it may be rejoined, that however psychical the forces may be, they are none the less subject to Darwinian laws. They compete with each other; they struggle for the mastery of minds. Between types of ideas, as between organic forms, selection operates. And though it may be that these types are ushered into the arena by unexpected discoveries, we yet recognise in the psychological accidents, which Tarde places at the base of everything, near relatives of those small accidental variations upon which Darwin builds. Thus, accepting Tarde's own representations, it is quite possible to express in Darwinian terms, with the necessary transpositions, one of the most idealistic sociologies that have ever been constructed.
These few examples suffice. They enable us to estimate the extent of the field of influence of Darwinism. It affects sociology not only through the agency of its advocates but through that of its opponents. The questionings to which it has given rise have proved no less fruitful than the solutions it has suggested. In short, few doctrines, in the history of social philosophy, will have produced on their passage a finer outcrop of ideas.