We have passed from a "deficit economy" of the past when no group had enough to go around to a "surplus economy" of the present when, if fairly distributed, there may be enough and to spare. Furthermore, the good treatment of one's neighbor which will help him to develop and prosper is of great advantage to oneself. Truly it blesses him that gives and him that takes.
1Commons, John R., Races and Immigrants in America, pp. 19-21.
In race relations in America the old feelings, attitudes, and habits of action, developed under the pioneer days, and its "deficit economy," have left a system of thinking and acting from the past as though we were still on a basis of classes of bond and free, when we are in the new day of freemen and plenty. The slave system was, in truth, a "deficit economy." The "Seaboard Slave States"1 and other books by Olmsted, the descriptions of earlier travelers, as well as the statistics given in DeBow's Review and Helper's Impending Crisis, give positive evidence that the system was economically unsound. Woodrow Wilson2 says, "The system of slave labor condemned the South to prosecute agriculture at the cost of a tremendous waste of resources." Gradually free labor in free states became alarmed for its own future. The slave system also ran counter to the Christian conscience of many, both within and without the states where it prevailed. From the earliest days the opposition to Christianizing slaves because Christian baptism carried with it the idea of freedom3 aroused those who saw the ulti-mate danger to the general religious welfare. When missionaries worked among the slaves they found such a response as to increase the concern about the development of these persons. In other fields besides the economic and the religious, men gradually awoke to the common interdependence of all upon the condition of a part of the population.
1 Olmsted, Frederick Law, A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States, New York, 1856; A Journey in the Back Country; A Journey Through Texas; The Cotton Kingdom, New York, 1861, reprinted by G. P. Putnam's Sons.
2 Division and Reunion, pp. 127-128.
3 Woodson, C. G., History of the Negro Church, pp. 4, 6.
After the coming of Negro emancipation and the readjustment of the first few decades following, America became absorbed in other affairs, - the tariff, free silver, the Spanish-American War, the Philippines, and the world struggle for democratic governments. The problems of domestic race relations assumed a smaller place in public thinking; but the old ways and attitudes and frictional contacts continued. There grew up the principle of dealing with the questions somewhat as though the two races inhabited separate countries and were distinct in interests and ideals, instead of viewing their relations as mutual and their interests and ideals as interdependent. In later years, as the inevitable connection of interests and obligations and the effects of keeping the Negro down1 have begun to dawn upon the mind of America, a new basis of relations is beginning to receive recognition from the leaders of both races, and a new basis of friendly contacts is felt and begins to operate.
Their joint interest in labor, trade, government, health, education, morals, and religion are so inextricably interwoven that they cannot be separated so long as the two races inhabit the same soil.2 Their hopes and fears, their ambitions and their ideals rise or fall together. Their common welfare makes action together in harmony the only sure basis of progress. The impulse toward such mutual action is as fundamental in nature and in human nature as the tendency to struggle in conflict against each other. The theory of the "struggle for the life of others" is as scientifically sound as that of the "struggle for existence." The belief that physical force is the guiding principle for setting things right in social groups grows partly out of the scientific idea that life is a struggle, where nature is "red in tooth and claw." That idea has been applied to human society; it has been accepted that "the survival of the fittest" in human life meant in the main the survival of the strongest. For example, Bernhardi and others in Germany, while counting the value of intelligence in national life, ridiculed the idea of mercy and kindness and gave the nation a popular philosophy of brutal force. This idea was not absent from other peoples. It ended in the great nightmare of the World War.
1Murphy, Edward Gardner, The Basis of Ascendency, pp. 154-171.
2 Compare Jefferson, Thomas, work cited, pp. 266-268.
During the past fifty years, so loud and dominant has been this view that the equally sound idea of the struggle for the existence of others has received little attention. The "mutual aid principle" is wide-spread among lower animals. It has been one of the greatest factors in man's achieving his position as "king of living creatures." Man's higher social virtues have their roots in this factor of "otherism."1 Group feelings, attitudes, and habits based upon mutual aid - emotions elaborated out of "the struggle for the life of others" - have become so ingrained in some human beings as to dominate brute emotions and traits. In others, the mutual aid habits soon break down under changing conditions.
Group interdependence between mental and social factors. The growing knowledge of group psychology indicates how readily one national or racial group reacts to the feelings and attitudes of another.1 All our sociology teaches that races and classes living upon the same soil are inseparably linked one with another in labor, trade, government and culture,2 to say nothing of the interaction of tribes and nations in different lands.