Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Forgotten Man

The Forgotten Man and Other Essays is a book by William Graham Sumner, an American scholar who was active at the turn of the 20th century. Below is a quote from The Forgotten Man.

"The type and formula of most schemes of philanthropy or humanitarianism is this: A and B put their heads together to decide what C shall be made to do for D. The radical vice of all these schemes, from a sociological point of view, is that C is not allowed a voice in the matter, and his position, character, and interests, as well as the ultimate effects on society through C's interests, are entirely overlooked. I call C the Forgotten Man."[2]

"As soon as A observes something which seems to him to be wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine what C shall do for X, or in the better case, what A, B, and C shall do for X.... What I want to do is to look up C.... He is the man who never is thought of."

"He works, he votes, generally he prays--but he always pays. . . ."

Other interesting quotes from William Graham Sumner, Yale University 1883, are below.

    (on government responses to economic recessions) "No scheme which has ever been devised by them has ever made a collapsed boom go up again"

    “All history is one long story to this effect: men have struggled for power over their fellow men in order that they might win the joys of earth at the expense of others, might shift the burdens of life from their own shoulders upon those of others.”

    "I think the hardest fact in human life is that two and two cannot make five; but in sociology while people will agree that two and two cannot make five, yet they think that it might somehow be possible by adjusting two and two to one another in some way or other to make two and two equal four and one-tenth." (Sumner Today, 1940 p. 82)

    "Nature's remedies against vice are terrible. She removes the victims without pity. A drunkard in the gutter is just where he ought to be, according to the fitness and tendency of things. Nature has set upon him the process of decline and dissolution by which she removes things which have survived their usefulness." -- from the essay "The Forgotten Man".[2]

    "It used to be believed that the parent had unlimited claims on the child and rights over him. In a truer view of the matter, we are coming to see that the rights are on the side of the child and the duties on the side of the parent."


walt said...

I had not heard of this man. From the excerpts, it reminded me of the general flavor of one of his contemporaries, Albert Jay Nock.

Such perspectives are very interesting to me -- although, they certainly don't cheer me up!

Rick Matz said...

Atlas Shrugged and Animal Farm are two books I have queued up for rereading.

walt said...

I read Atlas Shrugged when I was sixteen. I gather it is still relevant.

Rick Matz said...

It's especially relevant today.