The Theory of the Leisure Class*
Thorstein Veblen

Part 4 out of 6

act consistently to repress departures from the barbarian normal.
The predatory temperament does not lead itself to all the
purposes of modern life, and more especially not to modern

Departures from the human nature of the hereditary present are
most frequently of the nature of reversions to an earlier variant
of the type. This earlier variant is represented by the
temperament which characterizes the primitive phase of peaceable
savagery. The circumstances of life and the ends of effort that
prevailed before the advent of the barbarian culture, shaped
human nature and fixed it as regards certain fundamental traits.
And it is to these ancient, generic features that modern men are
prone to take back in case of variation from the human nature of
the hereditary present. The conditions under which men lived in
the most primitive stages of associated life that can properly be
called human, seem to have been of a peaceful kind; and the
character -- the temperament and spiritual attitude of men under
these early conditions or environment and institutions seems to
have been of a peaceful and unaggressive, not to say an indolent,
cast. For the immediate purpose this peaceable cultural stage may
be taken to mark the initial phase of social development. So far
as concerns the present argument, the dominant spiritual feature
of this presumptive initial phase of culture seems to have been
an unreflecting, unformulated sense of group solidarity, largely
expressing itself in a complacent, but by no means strenuous,
sympathy with all facility of human life, and an uneasy revulsion
against apprehended inhibition or futility of life. Through its
ubiquitous presence in the habits of thought of the
ante-predatory savage man, this pervading but uneager sense of
the generically useful seems to have exercised an appreciable
constraining force upon his life and upon the manner of his
habitual contact with other members of the group.

The traces of this initial, undifferentiated peaceable phase of
culture seem faint and doubtful if we look merely to such
categorical evidence of its existence as is afforded by usages
and views in vogue within the historical present, whether in
civilized or in rude communities; but less dubious evidence of
its existence is to be found in psychological survivals, in the
way of persistent and pervading traits of human character. These
traits survive perhaps in an especial degree among those ethic
elements which were crowded into the background during the
predatory culture. Traits that were suited to the earlier habits
of life then became relatively useless in the individual struggle
for existence. And those elements of the population, or those
ethnic groups, which were by temperament less fitted to the
predatory life were repressed and pushed into the background.
On the transition to the predatory culture the character of the
struggle for existence changed in some degree from a struggle of
the group against a non-human environment to a struggle against a
human environment. This change was accompanied by an increasing
antagonism and consciousness of antagonism between the individual
members of the group. The conditions of success within the group,
as well as the conditions of the survival of the group, changed
in some measure; and the dominant spiritual attitude for the
group gradually changed, and brought a different range of
aptitudes and propensities into the position of legitimate
dominance in the accepted scheme of life. Among these archaic
traits that are to be regarded as survivals from the peaceable
cultural phase, are that instinct of race solidarity which we
call conscience, including the sense of truthfulness and equity,
and the instinct of workmanship, in its naive, non-invidious

Under the guidance of the later biological and psychological
science, human nature will have to be restated in terms of habit;
and in the restatement, this, in outline, appears to be the only
assignable place and ground of these traits. These habits of life
are of too pervading a character to be ascribed to the influence
of a late or brief discipline. The ease with which they are
temporarily overborne by the special exigencies of recent and
modern life argues that these habits are the surviving effects of
a discipline of extremely ancient date, from the teachings of
which men have frequently been constrained to depart in detail
under the altered circumstances of a later time; and the almost
ubiquitous fashion in which they assert themselves whenever the
pressure of special exigencies is relieved, argues that the
process by which the traits were fixed and incorporated into the
spiritual make-up of the type must have lasted for a relatively
very long time and without serious intermission. The point is not
seriously affected by any question as to whether it was a process
of habituation in the old-fashioned sense of the word or a
process of selective adaptation of the race.

The character and exigencies of life, under that regime of status
and of individual and class antithesis which covers the entire
interval from the beginning of predatory culture to the present,
argue that the traits of temperament here under discussion could
scarcely have arisen and acquired fixity during that interval. It
is entirely probable that these traits have come down from an
earlier method of life, and have survived through the interval of
predatory and quasi-peaceable culture in a condition of
incipient, or at least imminent, desuetude, rather than that they
have been brought out and fixed by this later culture. They
appear to be hereditary characteristics of the race, and to have
persisted in spite of the altered requirements of success under
the predatory and the later pecuniary stages of culture. They
seem to have persisted by force of the tenacity of transmission
that belongs to an hereditary trait that is present in some
degree in every member of the species, and which therefore rests
on a broad basis of race continuity.

Such a generic feature is not readily eliminated, even under a
process of selection so severe and protracted as that to which
the traits here under discussion were subjected during the
predatory and quasi-peaceable stages. These peaceable traits are
in great part alien to the methods and the animus of barbarian
life. The salient characteristic of the barbarian culture is an
unremitting emulation and antagonism between classes and between
individuals. This emulative discipline favors those individuals
and lines of descent which possess the peaceable savage traits in
a relatively slight degree. It therefore tends to eliminate these
traits, and it has apparently weakened them, in an appreciable
degree, in the populations that have been subject to it. Even
where the extreme penalty for non-conformity to the barbarian
type of temperament is not paid, there results at least a more or
less consistent repression of the non-conforming individuals and
lines of descent. Where life is largely a struggle between
individuals within the group, the possession of the ancient
peaceable traits in a marked degree would hamper an individual in
the struggle for life.

Under any known phase of culture, other or later than the
presumptive initial phase here spoken of, the gifts of
good-nature, equity, and indiscriminate sympathy do not
appreciably further the life of the individual. Their possession
may serve to protect the individual from hard usage at the hands
of a majority that insists on a modicum of these ingredients in
their ideal of a normal man; but apart from their indirect and
negative effect in this way, the individual fares better under
the regime of competition in proportion as he has less of these
gifts. Freedom from scruple, from sympathy, honesty and regard
for life, may, within fairly wide limits, be said to further the
success of the individual in the pecuniary culture. The highly
successful men of all times have commonly been of this type;
except those whose success has not been scored in terms of either
wealth or power. It is only within narrow limits, and then only
in a Pickwickian sense, that honesty is the best policy.

As seen from the point of view of life under modern
civilized conditions in an enlightened community of the Western
culture, the primitive, ante-predatory savage, whose character it
has been attempted to trace in outline above, was not a great
success. Even for the purposes of that hypothetical culture to
which his type of human nature owes what stability it has -- even
for the ends of the peaceable savage group -- this primitive man
has quite as many and as conspicuous economic failings as he has
economic virtues -- as should be plain to any one whose sense of
the case is not biased by leniency born of a fellow-feeling. At
his best he is "a clever, good-for-nothing fellow." The
shortcomings of this presumptively primitive type of character
are weakness, inefficiency, lack of initiative and ingenuity, and
a yielding and indolent amiability, together with a lively but
inconsequential animistic sense. Along with these traits go
certain others which have some value for the collective life
process, in the sense that they further the facility of life in
the group. These traits are truthfulness, peaceableness,
good-will, and a non-emulative, non-invidious interest in men and

With the advent of the predatory stage of life there comes a
change in the requirements of the successful human character.
Men's habits of life are required to adapt themselves to new
exigencies under a new scheme of human relations. The same
unfolding of energy, which had previously found expression in the
traits of savage life recited above, is now required to find
expression along a new line of action, in a new group of habitual
responses to altered stimuli. The methods which, as counted in
terms of facility of life, answered measurably under the earlier
conditions, are no longer adequate under the new conditions. The
earlier situation was characterized by a relative absence of
antagonism or differentiation of interests, the later situation
by an emulation constantly increasing in relative absence of
antagonism or differentiation of interests, the later situation
by an emulation constantly increasing in intensity and narrowing
in scope. The traits which characterize the predatory and
subsequent stages of culture, and which indicate the types of man
best fitted to survive under the regime of status, are (in their
primary expression) ferocity, self-seeking, clannishness, and
disingenuousness -- a free resort to force and fraud.

Under the severe and protracted discipline of the regime of
competition, the selection of ethnic types has acted to give a
somewhat pronounced dominance to these traits of character, by
favoring the survival of those ethnic elements which are most
richly endowed in these respects. At the same time the earlier --
acquired, more generic habits of the race have never ceased to
have some usefulness for the purpose of the life of the
collectivity and have never fallen into definitive abeyance.
It may be worth while to point out that the dolicho-blond type of
European man seems to owe much of its dominating
influence and its masterful position in the recent culture to its
possessing the characteristics of predatory man in an exceptional
degree. These spiritual traits, together with a large endowment
of physical energy -- itself probably a result of selection
between groups and between lines of descent -- chiefly go to
place any ethnic element in the position of a leisure or master
class, especially during the earlier phases of the development of
the institution of a leisure class. This need not mean that
precisely the same complement of aptitudes in any individual
would insure him an eminent personal success. Under the
competitive regime, the conditions of success for the individual
are not necessarily the same as those for a class. The success of
a class or party presumes a strong element of clannishness, or
loyalty to a chief, or adherence to a tenet; whereas the
competitive individual can best achieve his ends if he combines
the barbarian's energy, initiative, self-seeking and
disingenuousness with the savage's lack of loyalty or
clannishness. It may be remarked by the way, that the men who
have scored a brilliant (Napoleonic) success on the basis of an
impartial self-seeking and absence of scruple, have not
uncommonly shown more of the physical characteristics of the
brachycephalic-brunette than of the dolicho-blond. The greater
proportion of moderately successful individuals, in a
self-seeking way, however, seem, in physique, to belong to the
last-named ethnic element.

The temperament induced by the predatory habit of life makes for
the survival and fullness of life of the individual under a
regime of emulation; at the same time it makes for the survival
and success of the group if the group's life as a collectivity is
also predominantly a life of hostile competition with other
groups. But the evolution of economic life in the industrially
more mature communities has now begun to take such a turn that
the interest of the community no longer coincides with the
emulative interests of the individual. In their corporate
capacity, these advanced industrial communities are ceasing to be
competitors for the means of life or for the right to live --
except in so far as the predatory propensities of their ruling
classes keep up the tradition of war and rapine. These
communities are no longer hostile to one another by force of
circumstances, other than the circumstances of tradition and
temperament. Their material interests -- apart, possibly, from
the interests of the collective good fame -- are not only no
longer incompatible, but the success of any one of the
communities unquestionably furthers the fullness of life of any
other community in the group, for the present and for an
incalculable time to come. No one of them any longer has any
material interest in getting the better of any other. The same is
not true in the same degree as regards individuals and their
relations to one another.

The collective interests of any modern community center in
industrial efficiency. The individual is serviceable for the ends
of the community somewhat in proportion to his efficiency in the
productive employments vulgarly so called. This collective
interest is best served by honesty, diligence, peacefulness,
good-will, an absence of self-seeking, and an habitual
recognition and apprehension of causal sequence, without
admixture of animistic belief and without a sense of dependence
on any preternatural intervention in the course of events. Not
much is to be said for the beauty, moral excellence, or general
worthiness and reputability of such a prosy human nature as these
traits imply; and there is little ground of enthusiasm for the
manner of collective life that would result from the prevalence
of these traits in unmitigated dominance. But that is beside the
point. The successful working of a modern industrial community is
best secured where these traits concur, and it is attained in the
degree in which the human material is characterized by their
possession. Their presence in some measure is required in order
to have a tolerable adjustment to the circumstances of the modern
industrial situation. The complex, comprehensive, essentially
peaceable, and highly organized mechanism of the modern
industrial community works to the best advantage when these
traits, or most of them, are present in the highest practicable
degree. These traits are present in a markedly less degree in the
man of the predatory type than is useful for the purposes of the
modern collective life.

On the other hand, the immediate interest of the individual under
the competitive regime is best served by shrewd trading and
unscrupulous management. The characteristics named above as
serving the interests of the community are disserviceable to the
individual, rather than otherwise. The presence of these
aptitudes in his make-up diverts his energies to other ends than
those of pecuniary gain; and also in his pursuit of gain they
lead him to seek gain by the indirect and ineffectual channels of
industry, rather than by a free and unfaltering career of sharp
practice. The industrial aptitudes are pretty consistently a
hindrance to the individual. Under the regime of emulation the
members of a modern industrial community are rivals, each of whom
will best attain his individual and immediate advantage if,
through an exceptional exemption from scruple, he is able
serenely to overreach and injure his fellows when the chance

It has already been noticed that modern economic institutions
fall into two roughly distinct categories -- the pecuniary and
the industrial. The like is true of employments. Under the former
head are employments that have to do with ownership or
acquisition; under the latter head, those that have to do with
workmanship or production. As was found in speaking of the growth
of institutions, so with regard to employments. The economic
interests of the leisure class lie in the pecuniary employments;
those of the working classes lie in both classes of employments,
but chiefly in the industrial. Entrance to the leisure class lies
through the pecuniary employments.

These two classes of employment differ materially in respect of
the aptitudes required for each; and the training which they give
similarly follows two divergent lines. The discipline of the
pecuniary employments acts to conserve and to cultivate certain
of the predatory aptitudes and the predatory animus. It does this
both by educating those individuals and classes who are occupied
with these employments and by selectively repressing and
eliminating those individuals and lines of descent that are unfit
in this respect. So far as men's habits of thought are shaped by
the competitive process of acquisition and tenure; so far as
their economic functions are comprised within the range of
ownership of wealth as conceived in terms of exchange value, and
its management and financiering through a permutation of values;
so far their experience in economic life favors the survival and
accentuation of the predatory temperament and habits of thought.
Under the modern, peaceable system, it is of course the peaceable
range of predatory habits and aptitudes that is chiefly fostered
by a life of acquisition. That is to say, the pecuniary
employments give proficiency in the general line of practices
comprised under fraud, rather than in those that belong under the
more archaic method of forcible seizure.

These pecuniary employments, tending to conserve the
predatory temperament, are the employments which have to do with
ownership -- the immediate function of the leisure class proper
-- and the subsidiary functions concerned with acquisition and
accumulation. These cover the class of persons and that range of
duties in the economic process which have to do with the
ownership of enterprises engaged in competitive industry;
especially those fundamental lines of economic management which
are classed as financiering operations. To these may be added the
greater part of mercantile occupations. In their best and
clearest development these duties make up the economic office of
the "captain of industry." The captain of industry is an astute
man rather than an ingenious one, and his captaincy is a
pecuniary rather than an industrial captaincy. Such
administration of industry as he exercises is commonly of a
permissive kind. The mechanically effective details of production
and of industrial organization are delegated to subordinates of a
less "practical" turn of mind -- men who are possessed of a gift
for workmanship rather than administrative ability. So far as
regards their tendency in shaping human nature by education and
selection, the common run of non-economic employments are to be
classed with the pecuniary employments. Such are politics and
ecclesiastical and military employments.

The pecuniary employments have also the sanction of
reputability in a much higher degree than the industrial
employments. In this way the leisure-class standards of good
repute come in to sustain the prestige of those aptitudes that
serve the invidious purpose; and the leisure-class scheme of
decorous living, therefore, also furthers the survival and
culture of the predatory traits. Employments fall into a
hierarchical gradation of reputability. Those which have to do
immediately with ownership on a large scale are the most
reputable of economic employments proper. Next to these in good
repute come those employments that are immediately subservient to
ownership and financiering -- such as banking and the law.
Banking employments also carry a suggestion of large ownership,
and this fact is doubtless accountable for a share of the
prestige that attaches to the business. The profession of the law
does not imply large ownership; but since no taint of
usefulness, for other than the competitive purpose, attaches to
the lawyer's trade, it grades high in the conventional scheme.
The lawyer is exclusively occupied with the details of predatory
fraud, either in achieving or in checkmating chicanery, and
success in the profession is therefore accepted as marking a
large endowment of that barbarian astuteness which has always
commanded men's respect and fear. Mercantile pursuits are only
half-way reputable, unless they involve a large element of
ownership and a small element of usefulness. They grade high or
low somewhat in proportion as they serve the higher or the lower
needs; so that the business of retailing the vulgar necessaries
of life descends to the level of the handicrafts and factory
labor. Manual labor, or even the work of directing mechanical
processes, is of course on a precarious footing as regards
respectability. A qualification is necessary as regards the
discipline given by the pecuniary employments. As the scale of
industrial enterprise grows larger, pecuniary management comes to
bear less of the character of chicanery and shrewd competition in
detail. That is to say, for an ever-increasing proportion of the
persons who come in contact with this phase of economic life,
business reduces itself to a routine in which there is less
immediate suggestion of overreaching or exploiting a competitor.
The consequent exemption from predatory habits extends chiefly to
subordinates employed in business. The duties of ownership and
administration are virtually untouched by this qualification.
The case is different as regards those individuals or classes who
are immediately occupied with the technique and manual operations
of production. Their daily life is not in the same degree a
course of habituation to the emulative and invidious motives and
maneuvers of the pecuniary side of industry. They are
consistently held to the apprehension and coordination of
mechanical facts and sequences, and to their appreciation and
utilization for the purposes of human life. So far as concerns
this portion of the population, the educative and selective
action of the industrial process with which they are immediately
in contact acts to adapt their habits of thought to the
non-invidious purposes of the collective life. For them,
therefore, it hastens the obsolescence of the distinctively
predatory aptitudes and propensities carried over by heredity and
tradition from the barbarian past of the race.

The educative action of the economic life of the community,
therefore, is not of a uniform kind throughout all its
manifestations. That range of economic activities which is
concerned immediately with pecuniary competition has a tendency
to conserve certain predatory traits; while those industrial
occupations which have to do immediately with the production of
goods have in the main the contrary tendency. But with regard to
the latter class of employments it is to be noticed in
qualification that the persons engaged in them are nearly all to
some extent also concerned with matters of pecuniary competition
(as, for instance, in the competitive fixing of wages and
salaries, in the purchase of goods for consumption, etc.).
Therefore the distinction here made between classes of
employments is by no means a hard and fast distinction between
classes of persons.

The employments of the leisure classes in modern industry are
such as to keep alive certain of the predatory habits and
aptitudes. So far as the members of those classes take part in
the industrial process, their training tends to conserve in them
the barbarian temperament. But there is something to be said on
the other side. Individuals so placed as to be exempt from strain
may survive and transmit their characteristics even if they
differ widely from the average of the species both in physique
and in spiritual make-up. The chances for a survival and
transmission of atavistic traits are greatest in those classes
that are most sheltered from the stress of circumstances. The
leisure class is in some degree sheltered from the stress of the
industrial situation, and should, therefore, afford an
exceptionally great proportion of reversions to the peaceable or
savage temperament. It should be possible for such aberrant or
atavistic individuals to unfold their life activity on
ante-predatory lines without suffering as prompt a repression or
elimination as in the lower walks of life.

Something of the sort seems to be true in fact. There is, for
instance, an appreciable proportion of the upper classes whose
inclinations lead them into philanthropic work, and there is a
considerable body of sentiment in the class going to support
efforts of reform and amelioration. And much of this
philanthropic and reformatory effort, moreover, bears the marks
of that amiable "cleverness" and incoherence that is
characteristic of the primitive savage. But it may still be
doubtful whether these facts are evidence of a larger proportion
of reversions in the higher than in the lower strata, even if the
same inclinations were present in the impecunious classes, it
would not as easily find expression there; since those classes
lack the means and the time and energy to give effect to their
inclinations in this respect. The prima facie evidence of the
facts can scarcely go unquestioned.

In further qualification it is to be noted that the leisure class
of today is recruited from those who have been successful in a
pecuniary way, and who, therefore, are presumably endowed with
more than an even complement of the predatory traits. Entrance
into the leisure class lies through the pecuniary employments,
and these employments, by selection and adaptation, act to admit
to the upper levels only those lines of descent that are
pecuniarily fit to survive under the predatory test. And so soon
as a case of reversion to non-predatory human nature shows itself
on these upper levels, it is commonly weeded out and thrown back
to the lower pecuniary levels. In order to hold its place in the
class, a stock must have the pecuniary temperament; otherwise its
fortune would be dissipated and it would presently lose caste.
Instances of this kind are sufficiently frequent. The
constituency of the leisure class is kept up by a continual
selective process, whereby the individuals and lines of descent
that are eminently fitted for an aggressive pecuniary competition
are withdraw from the lower classes. In order to reach the upper
levels the aspirant must have, not only a fair average complement
of the pecuniary aptitudes, but he must have these gifts in such
an eminent degree as to overcome very material difficulties that
stand in the way of his ascent. Barring accidents, the nouveaux
arrivés are a picked body.

This process of selective admission has, of course, always been
going on; ever since the fashion of pecuniary emulation set in --
which is much the same as saying, ever since the
institution of a leisure class was first installed. But the
precise ground of selection has not always been the same, and the
selective process has therefore not always given the same
results. In the early barbarian, or predatory stage proper, the
test of fitness was prowess, in the naive sense of the word. To
gain entrance to the class, the candidate had to be gifted with
clannishness, massiveness, ferocity, unscrupulousness, and
tenacity of purpose. These were the qualities that counted toward
the accumulation and continued tenure of wealth. The economic
basis of the leisure class, then as later, was the possession of
wealth; but the methods of accumulating wealth, and the gifts
required for holding it, have changed in some degree since the
early days of the predatory culture. In consequence of the
selective process the dominant traits of the early barbarian
leisure class were bold aggression, an alert sense of status, and
a free resort to fraud. The members of the class held their place
by tenure of prowess. In the later barbarian culture society
attained settled methods of acquisition and possession under the
quasi-peaceable regime of status. Simple aggression and
unrestrained violence in great measure gave place to shrewd
practice and chicanery, as the best approved method of
accumulating wealth. A different range of aptitudes and
propensities would then be conserved in the leisure class.
Masterful aggression, and the correlative massiveness, together
with a ruthlessly consistent sense of status, would still count
among the most splendid traits of the class. These have remained
in our traditions as the typical "aristocratic virtues." But with
these were associated an increasing complement of the less
obtrusive pecuniary virtues; such as providence, prudence, and
chicanery. As time has gone on, and the modern peaceable stage of
pecuniary culture has been approached, the last-named range of
aptitudes and habits has gained in relative effectiveness for
pecuniary ends, and they have counted for relatively more in the
selective process under which admission is gained and place is
held in the leisure class.

The ground of selection has changed, until the aptitudes which
now qualify for admission to the class are the pecuniary
aptitudes only. What remains of the predatory barbarian traits is
the tenacity of purpose or consistency of aim which distinguished
the successful predatory barbarian from the peaceable savage whom
he supplanted. But this trait can not be said characteristically
to distinguish the pecuniarily successful upper-class man from
the rank and file of the industrial classes. The training and the
selection to which the latter are exposed in modern industrial
life give a similarly decisive weight to this trait. Tenacity of
purpose may rather be said to distinguish both these classes from
two others; the shiftless ne'er do-well and the lower-class
delinquent. In point of natural endowment the pecuniary man
compares with the delinquent in much the same way as the
industrial man compares with the good-natured shiftless
dependent. The ideal pecuniary man is like the ideal delinquent
in his unscrupulous conversion of goods and persons to his own
ends, and in a callous disregard of the feelings and wishes of
others and of the remoter effects of his actions; but he is
unlike him in possessing a keener sense of status, and in working
more consistently and farsightedly to a remoter end. The kinship
of the two types of temperament is further shown in a proclivity
to "sport" and gambling, and a relish of aimless emulation. The
ideal pecuniary man also shows a curious kinship with the
delinquent in one of the concomitant variations of the predatory
human nature. The delinquent is very commonly of a superstitious
habit of mind; he is a great believer in luck, spells, divination
and destiny, and in omens and shamanistic ceremony. Where
circumstances are favorable, this proclivity is apt to express
itself in a certain servile devotional fervor and a punctilious
attention to devout observances; it may perhaps be better
characterized as devoutness than as religion. At this point the
temperament of the delinquent has more in common with the
pecuniary and leisure classes than with the industrial man or
with the class of shiftless dependents.

Life in a modern industrial community, or in other words life
under the pecuniary culture, acts by a process of selection to
develop and conserve a certain range of aptitudes and
propensities. The present tendency of this selective process is
not simply a reversion to a given, immutable ethnic type. It
tends rather to a modification of human nature differing in some
respects from any of the types or variants transmitted out of the
past. The objective point of the evolution is not a single one.
The temperament which the evolution acts to establish as normal
differs from any one of the archaic variants of human nature in
its greater stability of aim -- greater singleness of purpose and
greater persistence in effort. So far as concerns economic
theory, the objective point of the selective process is on the
whole single to this extent; although there are minor tendencies
of considerable importance diverging from this line of
development. But apart from this general trend the line of
development is not single. As concerns economic theory, the
development in other respects runs on two divergent lines. So far
as regards the selective conservation of capacities or aptitudes
in individuals, these two lines may be called the pecuniary and
the industrial. As regards the conservation of propensities,
spiritual attitude, or animus, the two may be called the
invidious or self-regarding and the non-invidious or economical.
As regards the intellectual or cognitive bent of the two
directions of growth, the former may be characterized as the
personal standpoint, of conation, qualitative relation, status,
or worth; the latter as the impersonal standpoint, of sequence,
quantitative relation, mechanical efficiency, or use.

The pecuniary employments call into action chiefly the former of
these two ranges of aptitudes and propensities, and act
selectively to conserve them in the population. The industrial
employments, on the other hand, chiefly exercise the latter
range, and act to conserve them. An exhaustive psychological
analysis will show that each of these two ranges of aptitudes and
propensities is but the multiform expression of a given
temperamental bent. By force of the unity or singleness of the
individual, the aptitudes, animus, and interests comprised in the
first-named range belong together as expressions of a given
variant of human nature. The like is true of the latter range.
The two may be conceived as alternative directions of human life,
in such a way that a given individual inclines more or less
consistently to the one or the other. The tendency of the
pecuniary life is, in a general way, to conserve the barbarian
temperament, but with the substitution of fraud and prudence, or
administrative ability, in place of that predilection for
physical damage that characterizes the early barbarian. This
substitution of chicanery in place of devastation takes place
only in an uncertain degree. Within the pecuniary employments the
selective action runs pretty consistently in this direction, but
the discipline of pecuniary life, outside the competition for
gain, does not work consistently to the same effect. The
discipline of modern life in the consumption of time and goods
does not act unequivocally to eliminate the aristocratic virtues
or to foster the bourgeois virtues. The conventional scheme of
decent living calls for a considerable exercise of the earlier
barbarian traits. Some details of this traditional scheme of
life, bearing on this point, have been noticed in earlier
chapters under the head of leisure, and further details will be
shown in later chapters.

From what has been said, it appears that the leisure-class life
and the leisure-class scheme of life should further the
conservation of the barbarian temperament; chiefly of the
quasi-peaceable, or bourgeois, variant, but also in some measure
of the predatory variant. In the absence of disturbing factors,
therefore, it should be possible to trace a difference of
temperament between the classes of society. The aristocratic and
the bourgeois virtues -- that is to say the destructive and
pecuniary traits -- should be found chiefly among the upper
classes, and the industrial virtues -- that is to say the
peaceable traits -- chiefly among the classes given to mechanical

In a general and uncertain way this holds true, but the test is
not so readily applied nor so conclusive as might be wished.
There are several assignable reasons for its partial failure. All
classes are in a measure engaged in the pecuniary struggle, and
in all classes the possession of the pecuniary traits counts
towards the success and survival of the individual. Wherever the
pecuniary culture prevails, the selective process by which men's
habits of thought are shaped, and by which the survival of rival
lines of descent is decided, proceeds proximately on the basis of
fitness for acquisition. Consequently, if it were not for the
fact that pecuniary efficiency is on the whole incompatible with
industrial efficiency, the selective action of all occupations
would tend to the unmitigated dominance of the pecuniary
temperament. The result would be the installation of what has
been known as the "economic man," as the normal and definitive
type of human nature. But the "economic man," whose only interest
is the self-regarding one and whose only human trait is prudence
is useless for the purposes of modern industry.

The modern industry requires an impersonal, non-invidious
interest in the work in hand. Without this the elaborate
processes of industry would be impossible, and would, indeed,
never have been conceived. This interest in work differentiates
the workman from the criminal on the one hand, and from the
captain of industry on the other. Since work must be done in
order to the continued life of the community, there results a
qualified selection favoring the spiritual aptitude for work,
within a certain range of occupations. This much, however, is to
be conceded, that even within the industrial occupations the
selective elimination of the pecuniary traits is an uncertain
process, and that there is consequently an appreciable survival
of the barbarian temperament even within these occupations. On
this account there is at present no broad distinction in this
respect between the leisure-class character and the character of
the common run of the population.

The whole question as to a class distinction in respect to
spiritual make-up is also obscured by the presence, in all
classes of society, of acquired habits of life that closely
simulate inherited traits and at the same time act to develop in
the entire body of the population the traits which they simulate.
These acquired habits, or assumed traits of character, are most
commonly of an aristocratic cast. The prescriptive position of
the leisure class as the exemplar of reputability has imposed
many features of the leisure-class theory of life upon the lower
classes; with the result that there goes on, always and
throughout society, a more or less persistent cultivation of
these aristocratic traits. On this ground also these traits have
a better chance of survival among the body of the people than
would be the case if it were not for the precept and example of
the leisure class. As one channel, and an important one, through
which this transfusion of aristocratic views of life, and
consequently more or less archaic traits of character goes on,
may be mentioned the class of domestic servants. These have their
notions of what is good and beautiful shaped by contact with the
master class and carry the preconceptions so acquired back among
their low-born equals, and so disseminate the higher ideals
abroad through the community without the loss of time which this
dissemination might otherwise suffer. The saying "Like master,
like man," has a greater significance than is commonly
appreciated for the rapid popular acceptance of many elements of
upper-class culture.

There is also a further range of facts that go to lessen class
differences as regards the survival of the pecuniary virtues. The
pecuniary struggle produces an underfed class, of large
proportions. This underfeeding consists in a deficiency of the
necessaries of life or of the necessaries of a decent
expenditure. In either case the result is a closely enforced
struggle for the means with which to meet the daily needs;
whether it be the physical or the higher needs. The strain of
self-assertion against odds takes up the whole energy of the
individual; he bends his efforts to compass his own invidious
ends alone, and becomes continually more narrowly self-seeking.
The industrial traits in this way tend to obsolescence through
disuse. Indirectly, therefore, by imposing a scheme of pecuniary
decency and by withdrawing as much as may be of the means of life
from the lower classes, the institution of a leisure class acts
to conserve the pecuniary traits in the body of the population.
The result is an assimilation of the lower classes to the type of
human nature that belongs primarily to the upper classes only.
It appears, therefore, that there is no wide difference in
temperament between the upper and the lower classes; but it
appears also that the absence of such a difference is in good
part due to the prescriptive example of the leisure class and to
the popular acceptance of those broad principles of conspicuous
waste and pecuniary emulation on which the institution of a
leisure class rests. The institution acts to lower the industrial
efficiency of the community and retard the adaptation of human
nature to the exigencies of modern industrial life. It affects
the prevalent or effective human nature in a conservative
direction, (1) by direct transmission of archaic traits, through
inheritance within the class and wherever the leisure-class blood
is transfused outside the class, and (2) by conserving and
fortifying the traditions of the archaic regime, and so making
the chances of survival of barbarian traits greater also outside
the range of transfusion of leisure-class blood.

But little if anything has been done towards collecting or
digesting data that are of special significance for the question
of survival or elimination of traits in the modern populations.
Little of a tangible character can therefore be offered in
support of the view here taken, beyond a discursive review of
such everyday facts as lie ready to hand. Such a recital can
scarcely avoid being commonplace and tedious, but for all that it
seems necessary to the completeness of the argument, even in the
meager outline in which it is here attempted. A degree of
indulgence may therefore fairly be bespoken for the succeeding
chapters, which offer a fragmentary recital of this kind.

Chapter Ten

Modern Survivals of Prowess

The leisure class lives by the industrial community rather than
in it. Its relations to industry are of a pecuniary rather than
an industrial kind. Admission to the class is gained by exercise
of the pecuniary aptitudes -- aptitudes for acquisition rather
than for serviceability. There is, therefore, a continued
selective sifting of the human material that makes up the leisure
class, and this selection proceeds on the ground of fitness for
pecuniary pursuits. But the scheme of life of the class is in
large part a heritage from the past, and embodies much of the
habits and ideals of the earlier barbarian period. This archaic,
barbarian scheme of life imposes itself also on the lower orders,
with more or less mitigation. In its turn the scheme of life, of
conventions, acts selectively and by education to shape the human
material, and its action runs chiefly in the direction of
conserving traits, habits, and ideals that belong to the early
barbarian age -- the age of prowess and predatory life.

The most immediate and unequivocal expression of that archaic
human nature which characterizes man in the predatory stage is
the fighting propensity proper. In cases where the predatory
activity is a collective one, this propensity is frequently
called the martial spirit, or, latterly, patriotism. It needs no
insistence to find assent to the proposition that in the
countries of civilized Europe the hereditary leisure class is
endowed with this martial spirit in a higher degree than the
middle classes. Indeed, the leisure class claims the distinction
as a matter of pride, and no doubt with some grounds. War is
honorable, and warlike prowess is eminently honorific in the eyes
of the generality of men; and this admiration of warlike prowess
is itself the best voucher of a predatory temperament in the
admirer of war. The enthusiasm for war, and the predatory temper
of which it is the index, prevail in the largest measure among
the upper classes, especially among the hereditary leisure class.
Moreover, the ostensible serious occupation of the upper class is
that of government, which, in point of origin and developmental
content, is also a predatory occupation.

The only class which could at all dispute with the
hereditary leisure class the honor of an habitual bellicose frame
of mind is that of the lower-class delinquents. In ordinary
times, the large body of the industrial classes is relatively
apathetic touching warlike interests. When unexcited, this body
of the common people, which makes up the effective force of the
industrial community, is rather averse to any other than a
defensive fight; indeed, it responds a little tardily even to a
provocation which makes for an attitude of defense. In the more
civilized communities, or rather in the communities which have
reached an advanced industrial development, the spirit of warlike
aggression may be said to be obsolescent among the common people.
This does not say that there is not an appreciable number of
individuals among the industrial classes in whom the martial
spirit asserts itself obtrusively. Nor does it say that the body
of the people may not be fired with martial ardor for a time
under the stimulus of some special provocation, such as is seen
in operation today in more than one of the countries of Europe,
and for the time in America. But except for such seasons of
temporary exaltation, and except for those individuals who are
endowed with an archaic temperament of the predatory type,
together with the similarly endowed body of individuals among the
higher and the lowest classes, the inertness of the mass of any
modern civilized community in this respect is probably so great
as would make war impracticable, except against actual invasion.
The habits and aptitudes of the common run of men make for an
unfolding of activity in other, less picturesque directions than
that of war.

This class difference in temperament may be due in part to a
difference in the inheritance of acquired traits in the several
classes, but it seems also, in some measure, to correspond with a
difference in ethnic derivation. The class difference is in this
respect visibly less in those countries whose population is
relatively homogeneous, ethnically, than in the countries where
there is a broader divergence between the ethnic elements that
make up the several classes of the community. In the same
connection it may be noted that the later accessions to the
leisure class in the latter countries, in a general way, show
less of the martial spirit than contemporary representatives of
the aristocracy of the ancient line. These nouveaux arrivés have
recently emerged from the commonplace body of the population and
owe their emergence into the leisure class to the exercise of
traits and propensities which are not to be classed as prowess in
the ancient sense.

Apart from warlike activity proper, the institution of the duel
is also an expression of the same superior readiness for combat;
and the duel is a leisure-class institution. The duel is in
substance a more or less deliberate resort to a fight as a final
settlement of a difference of opinion. In civilized communities
it prevails as a normal phenomenon only where there is an
hereditary leisure class, and almost exclusively among that
class. The exceptions are (1) military and naval officers who are
ordinarily members of the leisure class, and who are at the same
time specially trained to predatory habits of mind and (2) the
lower-class delinquents -- who are by inheritance, or training,
or both, of a similarly predatory disposition and habit. It is
only the high-bred gentleman and the rowdy that normally resort
to blows as the universal solvent of differences of opinion. The
plain man will ordinarily fight only when excessive momentary
irritation or alcoholic exaltation act to inhibit the more
complex habits of response to the stimuli that make for
provocation. He is then thrown back upon the simpler, less
differentiated forms of the instinct of self-assertion; that is
to say, he reverts temporarily and without reflection to an
archaic habit of mind.

This institution of the duel as a mode of finally settling
disputes and serious questions of precedence shades off into the
obligatory, unprovoked private fight, as a social obligation due
to one's good repute. As a leisure-class usage of this kind we
have, particularly, that bizarre survival of bellicose chivalry,
the German student duel. In the lower or spurious leisure class
of the delinquents there is in all countries a similar, though
less formal, social obligation incumbent on the rowdy to assert
his manhood in unprovoked combat with his fellows. And spreading
through all grades of society, a similar usage prevails among the
boys of the community. The boy usually knows to nicety, from day
to day, how he and his associates grade in respect of relative
fighting capacity; and in the community of boys there is
ordinarily no secure basis of reputability for any one who, by
exception, will not or can not fight on invitation.

All this applies especially to boys above a certain somewhat
vague limit of maturity. The child's temperament does not
commonly answer to this description during infancy and the years
of close tutelage, when the child still habitually seeks contact
with its mother at every turn of its daily life. During this
earlier period there is little aggression and little propensity
for antagonism. The transition from this peaceable temper to the
predaceous, and in extreme cases malignant, mischievousness of
the boy is a gradual one, and it is accomplished with more
completeness, covering a larger range of the individual's
aptitudes, in some cases than in others. In the earlier stage of
his growth, the child, whether boy or girl, shows less of
initiative and aggressive self-assertion and less of an
inclination to isolate himself and his interests from the
domestic group in which he lives, and he shows more of
sensitiveness to rebuke, bashfulness, timidity, and the need of
friendly human contact. In the common run of cases this early
temperament passes, by a gradual but somewhat rapid obsolescence
of the infantile features, into the temperament of the boy
proper; though there are also cases where the predaceous futures
of boy life do not emerge at all, or at the most emerge in but a
slight and obscure degree.

In girls the transition to the predaceous stage is seldom
accomplished with the same degree of completeness as in boys; and
in a relatively large proportion of cases it is scarcely
undergone at all. In such cases the transition from infancy to
adolescence and maturity is a gradual and unbroken process of the
shifting of interest from infantile purposes and aptitudes to the
purposes, functions, and relations of adult life. In the girls
there is a less general prevalence of a predaceous interval in
the development; and in the cases where it occurs, the predaceous
and isolating attitude during the interval is commonly less

In the male child the predaceous interval is ordinarily fairly
well marked and lasts for some time, but it is commonly
terminated (if at all) with the attainment of maturity. This last
statement may need very material qualification. The cases are by
no means rare in which the transition from the boyish to the
adult temperament is not made, or is made only partially --
understanding by the "adult" temperament the average temperament
of those adult individuals in modern industrial life who have
some serviceability for the purposes of the collective life
process, and who may therefore be said to make up the effective
average of the industrial community.

The ethnic composition of the European populations varies. In
some cases even the lower classes are in large measure made up of
the peace-disturbing dolicho-blond; while in others this ethnic
element is found chiefly among the hereditary leisure class. The
fighting habit seems to prevail to a less extent among the
working-class boys in the latter class of populations than among
the boys of the upper classes or among those of the
populations first named.

If this generalization as to the temperament of the boy among the
working classes should be found true on a fuller and closer
scrutiny of the field, it would add force to the view that the
bellicose temperament is in some appreciable degree a race
characteristic; it appears to enter more largely into the make-up
of the dominant, upper-class ethnic type -- the dolicho-blond --
of the European countries than into the subservient, lower-class
types of man which are conceived to constitute the body of the
population of the same communities.

The case of the boy may seem not to bear seriously on the
question of the relative endowment of prowess with which the
several classes of society are gifted; but it is at least of some
value as going to show that this fighting impulse belongs to a
more archaic temperament than that possessed by the average adult
man of the industrious classes. In this, as in many other
features of child life, the child reproduces, temporarily and in
miniature, some of the earlier phases of the development of adult
man. Under this interpretation, the boy's predilection for
exploit and for isolation of his own interest is to be taken as a
transient reversion to the human nature that is normal to the
early barbarian culture -- the predatory culture proper. In this
respect, as in much else, the leisure-class and the
delinquent-class character shows a persistence into adult life of
traits that are normal to childhood and youth, and that are
likewise normal or habitual to the earlier stages of culture.
Unless the difference is traceable entirely to a fundamental
difference between persistent ethnic types, the traits that
distinguish the swaggering delinquent and the punctilious
gentleman of leisure from the common crowd are, in some measure,
marks of an arrested spiritual development. They mark an immature
phase, as compared with the stage of development attained by the
average of the adults in the modern industrial community. And it
will appear presently that the puerile spiritual make-up of these
representatives of the upper and the lowest social strata shows
itself also in the presence of other archaic traits than this
proclivity to ferocious exploit and isolation.

As if to leave no doubt about the essential immaturity of the
fighting temperament, we have, bridging the interval between
legitimate boyhood and adult manhood, the aimless and playful,
but more or less systematic and elaborate, disturbances of the
peace in vogue among schoolboys of a slightly higher age. In the
common run of cases, these disturbances are confined to the
period of adolescence. They recur with decreasing frequency and
acuteness as youth merges into adult life, and so they reproduce,
in a general way, in the life of the individual, the sequence by
which the group has passed from the predatory to a more settled
habit of life. In an appreciable number of cases the spiritual
growth of the individual comes to a close before he emerges from
this puerile phase; in these cases the fighting temper persists
through life. Those individuals who in spiritual development
eventually reach man's estate, therefore, ordinarily pass through
a temporary archaic phase corresponding to the permanent
spiritual level of the fighting and sporting men. Different
individuals will, of course, achieve spiritual maturity and
sobriety in this respect in different degrees; and those who fail
of the average remain as an undissolved residue of crude humanity
in the modern industrial community and as a foil for that
selective process of adaptation which makes for a heightened
industrial efficiency and the fullness of life of the
collectivity. This arrested spiritual development may express
itself not only in a direct participation by adults in youthful
exploits of ferocity, but also indirectly in aiding and abetting
disturbances of this kind on the part of younger persons. It
thereby furthers the formation of habits of ferocity which may
persist in the later life of the growing generation, and so
retard any movement in the direction of a more peaceable
effective temperament on the part of the community. If a person
so endowed with a proclivity for exploits is in a position to
guide the development of habits in the adolescent members of the
community, the influence which he exerts in the direction of
conservation and reversion to prowess may be very considerable.
This is the significance, for instance, of the fostering care
latterly bestowed by many clergymen and other pillars of society
upon "boys' brigades" and similar pseudo-military organizations.
The same is true of the encouragement given to the growth of
"college spirit," college athletics, and the like, in the higher
institutions of learning.

These manifestations of the predatory temperament are all to be
classed under the head of exploit. They are partly simple and
unreflected expressions of an attitude of emulative ferocity,
partly activities deliberately entered upon with a view to
gaining repute for prowess. Sports of all kinds are of the same
general character, including prize-fights, bull-fights,
athletics, shooting, angling, yachting, and games of skill, even
where the element of destructive physical efficiency is not an
obtrusive feature. Sports shade off from the basis of hostile
combat, through skill, to cunning and chicanery, without its
being possible to draw a line at any point. The ground of an
addiction to sports is an archaic spiritual constitution -- the
possession of the predatory emulative propensity in a relatively
high potency, a strong proclivity to adventuresome exploit and to
the infliction of damage is especially pronounced in those
employments which are in colloquial usage specifically called

It is perhaps truer, or at least more evident, as regards sports
than as regards the other expressions of predatory emulation
already spoken of, that the temperament which inclines men to
them is essentially a boyish temperament. The addiction to
sports, therefore, in a peculiar degree marks an arrested
development of the man's moral nature. This peculiar boyishness
of temperament in sporting men immediately becomes apparent when
attention is directed to the large element of make-believe that
is present in all sporting activity. Sports share this character
of make-believe with the games and exploits to which children,
especially boys, are habitually inclined. Make-believe does not
enter in the same proportion into all sports, but it is present
in a very appreciable degree in all. It is apparently present in
a larger measure in sportsmanship proper and in athletic contests
than in set games of skill of a more sedentary character;
although this rule may not be found to apply with any great
uniformity. It is noticeable, for instance, that even very
mild-mannered and matter-of-fact men who go out shooting are apt
to carry an excess of arms and accoutrements in order to impress
upon their own imagination the seriousness of their undertaking.
These huntsmen are also prone to a histrionic, prancing gait and
to an elaborate exaggeration of the motions, whether of stealth
or of onslaught, involved in their deeds of exploit. Similarly in
athletic sports there is almost invariably present a good share
of rant and swagger and ostensible mystification -- features
which mark the histrionic nature of these employments. In all
this, of course, the reminder of boyish make-believe is plain
enough. The slang of athletics, by the way, is in great part made
up of extremely sanguinary locutions borrowed from the
terminology of warfare. Except where it is adopted as a necessary
means of secret communication, the use of a special slang in any
employment is probably to be accepted as evidence that the
occupation in question is substantially make-believe.

A further feature in which sports differ from the duel and
similar disturbances of the peace is the peculiarity that they
admit of other motives being assigned for them besides the
impulses of exploit and ferocity. There is probably little if any
other motive present in any given case, but the fact that other
reasons for indulging in sports are frequently assigned goes to
say that other grounds are sometimes present in a subsidiary way.
Sportsmen -- hunters and anglers -- are more or less in the habit
of assigning a love of nature, the need of recreation, and the
like, as the incentives to their favorite pastime. These motives
are no doubt frequently present and make up a part of the
attractiveness of the sportsman's life; but these can not be the
chief incentives. These ostensible needs could be more readily
and fully satisfied without the accompaniment of a systematic
effort to take the life of those creatures that make up an
essential feature of that "nature" that is beloved by the
sportsman. It is, indeed, the most noticeable effect of the
sportsman's activity to keep nature in a state of chronic
desolation by killing off all living thing whose destruction he
can compass.

Still, there is ground for the sportsman's claim that under the
existing conventionalities his need of recreation and of contact
with nature can best be satisfied by the course which he takes.
Certain canons of good breeding have been imposed by the
prescriptive example of a predatory leisure class in the past and
have been somewhat painstakingly conserved by the usage of the
latter-day representatives of that class; and these canons will
not permit him, without blame, to seek contact with nature on
other terms. From being an honorable employment handed down from
the predatory culture as the highest form of everyday leisure,
sports have come to be the only form of outdoor activity that has
the full sanction of decorum. Among the proximate incentives to
shooting and angling, then, may be the need of recreation and
outdoor life. The remoter cause which imposes the necessity of
seeking these objects under the cover of systematic slaughter is
a prescription that can not be violated except at the risk of
disrepute and consequent lesion to one's self-respect.

The case of other kinds of sport is somewhat similar. Of these,
athletic games are the best example. Prescriptive usage with
respect to what forms of activity, exercise, and recreation are
permissible under the code of reputable living is of course
present here also. Those who are addicted to athletic sports, or
who admire them, set up the claim that these afford the best
available means of recreation and of "physical culture." And
prescriptive usage gives countenance to the claim. The canons of
reputable living exclude from the scheme of life of the leisure
class all activity that can not be classed as conspicuous
leisure. And consequently they tend by prescription to exclude it
also from the scheme of life of the community generally. At the
same time purposeless physical exertion is tedious and
distasteful beyond tolerance. As has been noticed in another
connection, recourse is in such a case had to some form of
activity which shall at least afford a colorable pretense of
purpose, even if the object assigned be only a make-believe.
Sports satisfy these requirements of substantial futility
together with a colorable make-believe of purpose. In addition to
this they afford scope for emulation, and are attractive also on
that account. In order to be decorous, an employment must conform
to the leisure-class canon of reputable waste; at the same time
all activity, in order to be persisted in as an habitual, even if
only partial, expression of life, must conform to the generically
human canon of efficiency for some serviceable objective end. The
leisure-class canon demands strict and comprehensive futility,
the instinct of workmanship demands purposeful action. The
leisure-class canon of decorum acts slowly and pervasively, by a
selective elimination of all substantially useful or purposeful
modes of action from the accredited scheme of life; the instinct
of workmanship acts impulsively and may be satisfied,
provisionally, with a proximate purpose. It is only as the
apprehended ulterior futility of a given line of action enters
the reflective complex of consciousness as an element essentially
alien to the normally purposeful trend of the life process that
its disquieting and deterrent effect on the consciousness of the
agent is wrought.

The individual's habits of thought make an organic complex, the
trend of which is necessarily in the direction of
serviceability to the life process. When it is attempted to
assimilate systematic waste or futility, as an end in life, into
this organic complex, there presently supervenes a revulsion. But
this revulsion of the organism may be avoided if the attention
can be confined to the proximate, unreflected purpose of
dexterous or emulative exertion. Sports -- hunting, angling,
athletic games, and the like -- afford an exercise for dexterity
and for the emulative ferocity and astuteness characteristic of
predatory life. So long as the individual is but slightly gifted
with reflection or with a sense of the ulterior trend of his
actions so long as his life is substantially a life of naive
impulsive action -- so long the immediate and unreflected
purposefulness of sports, in the way of an expression of
dominance, will measurably satisfy his instinct of workmanship.
This is especially true if his dominant impulses are the
unreflecting emulative propensities of the predaceous
temperament. At the same time the canons of decorum will commend
sports to him as expressions of a pecuniarily blameless life. It
is by meeting these two requirements, of ulterior wastefulness
and proximate purposefulness, that any given employment holds its
place as a traditional and habitual mode of decorous recreation.
In the sense that other forms of recreation and exercise are
morally impossible to persons of good breeding and delicate
sensibilities, then, sports are the best available means of
recreation under existing circumstances.

But those members of respectable society who advocate athletic
games commonly justify their attitude on this head to themselves
and to their neighbors on the ground that these games serve as an
invaluable means of development. They not only improve the
contestant's physique, but it is commonly added that they also
foster a manly spirit, both in the participants and in the
spectators. Football is the particular game which will probably
first occur to any one in this community when the question of the
serviceability of athletic games is raised, as this form of
athletic contest is at present uppermost in the mind of those who
plead for or against games as a means of physical or moral
salvation. This typical athletic sport may, therefore, serve to
illustrate the bearing of athletics upon the development of the
contestant's character and physique. It has been said, not
inaptly, that the relation of football to physical culture is
much the same as that of the bull-fight to agriculture.
Serviceability for these lusory institutions requires sedulous
training or breeding. The material used, whether brute or human,
is subjected to careful selection and discipline, in order to
secure and accentuate certain aptitudes and propensities which
are characteristic of the ferine state, and which tend to
obsolescence under domestication. This does not mean that the
result in either case is an all around and consistent
rehabilitation of the ferine or barbarian habit of mind and body.
The result is rather a one-sided return to barbarism or to the
feroe natura -- a rehabilitation and accentuation of those ferine
traits which make for damage and desolation, without a
corresponding development of the traits which would serve the
individual's self-preservation and fullness of life in a ferine
environment. The culture bestowed in football gives a product of
exotic ferocity and cunning. It is a rehabilitation of the early
barbarian temperament, together with a suppression of those
details of temperament, which, as seen from the standpoint of the
social and economic exigencies, are the redeeming features of the
savage character.

The physical vigor acquired in the training for athletic games --
so far as the training may be said to have this effect -- is of
advantage both to the individual and to the collectivity, in
that, other things being equal, it conduces to economic
serviceability. The spiritual traits which go with athletic
sports are likewise economically advantageous to the individual,
as contradistinguished from the interests of the collectivity.
This holds true in any community where these traits are present
in some degree in the population. Modern competition is in large
part a process of self-assertion on the basis of these traits of
predatory human nature. In the sophisticated form in which they
enter into the modern, peaceable emulation, the possession of
these traits in some measure is almost a necessary of life to the
civilized man. But while they are indispensable to the
competitive individual, they are not directly serviceable to the
community. So far as regards the serviceability of the individual
for the purposes of the collective life, emulative efficiency is
of use only indirectly if at all. Ferocity and cunning are of no
use to the community except in its hostile dealings with other
communities; and they are useful to the individual only because
there is so large a proportion of the same traits actively
present in the human environment to which he is exposed. Any
individual who enters the competitive struggle without the due
endowment of these traits is at a disadvantage, somewhat as a
hornless steer would find himself at a disadvantage in a drove of
horned cattle.

The possession and the cultivation of the predatory traits of
character may, of course, be desirable on other than economic
grounds. There is a prevalent aesthetic or ethical predilection
for the barbarian aptitudes, and the traits in question minister
so effectively to this predilection that their serviceability in
the aesthetic or ethical respect probably offsets any economic
unserviceability which they may give. But for the present purpose
that is beside the point. Therefore nothing is said here as to
the desirability or advisability of sports on the whole, or as to
their value on other than economic grounds.

In popular apprehension there is much that is admirable in the
type of manhood which the life of sport fosters. There is
self-reliance and good-fellowship, so termed in the somewhat
loose colloquial use of the words. From a different point of view
the qualities currently so characterized might be described as
truculence and clannishness. The reason for the current approval
and admiration of these manly qualities, as well as for their
being called manly, is the same as the reason for their
usefulness to the individual. The members of the community, and
especially that class of the community which sets the pace in
canons of taste, are endowed with this range of propensities in
sufficient measure to make their absence in others felt as a
shortcoming, and to make their possession in an exceptional
degree appreciated as an attribute of superior merit. The traits
of predatory man are by no means obsolete in the common run of
modern populations. They are present and can be called out in
bold relief at any time by any appeal to the sentiments in which
they express themselves -- unless this appeal should clash with
the specific activities that make up our habitual occupations and
comprise the general range of our everyday interests. The common
run of the population of any industrial community is emancipated
from these, economically considered, untoward propensities only
in the sense that, through partial and temporary disuse, they
have lapsed into the background of sub-conscious motives. With
varying degrees of potency in different individuals, they remain
available for the aggressive shaping of men's actions and
sentiments whenever a stimulus of more than everyday intensity
comes in to call them forth. And they assert themselves forcibly
in any case where no occupation alien to the predatory culture
has usurped the individual's everyday range of interest and
sentiment. This is the case among the leisure class and among
certain portions of the population which are ancillary to that
class. Hence the facility with which any new accessions to the
leisure class take to sports; and hence the rapid growth of
sports and of the sporting sentient in any industrial community
where wealth has accumulated sufficiently to exempt a
considerable part of the population from work.

A homely and familiar fact may serve to show that the predaceous
impulse does not prevail in the same degree in all classes. Taken
simply as a feature of modern life, the habit of carrying a
walking-stick may seem at best a trivial detail; but the usage
has a significance for the point in question. The classes among
whom the habit most prevails -- the classes with whom the
walking-stick is associated in popular apprehension -- are the
men of the leisure class proper, sporting men, and the
lower-class delinquents. To these might perhaps be added the men
engaged in the pecuniary employments. The same is not true of the
common run of men engaged in industry and it may be noted by the
way that women do not carry a stick except in case of infirmity,
where it has a use of a different kind. The practice is of course
in great measure a matter of polite usage; but the basis of
polite usage is, in turn, the proclivities of the class which
sets the pace in polite usage. The walking-stick serves the
purpose of an advertisement that the bearer's hands are employed
otherwise than in useful effort, and it therefore has utility as
an evidence of leisure. But it is also a weapon, and it meets a
felt need of barbarian man on that ground. The handling of so
tangible and primitive a means of offense is very comforting to
any one who is gifted with even a moderate share of ferocity.
The exigencies of the language make it impossible to avoid an
apparent implication of disapproval of the aptitudes,
propensities, and expressions of life here under discussion. It
is, however, not intended to imply anything in the way of
deprecation or commendation of any one of these phases of human
character or of the life process. The various elements of the
prevalent human nature are taken up from the point of view of
economic theory, and the traits discussed are gauged and graded
with regard to their immediate economic bearing on the facility
of the collective life process. That is to say, these phenomena
are here apprehended from the economic point of view and are
valued with respect to their direct action in furtherance or
hindrance of a more perfect adjustment of the human collectivity
to the environment and to the institutional structure required by
the economic situation of the collectivity for the present and
for the immediate future. For these purposes the traits handed
down from the predatory culture are less serviceable than might
be. Although even in this connection it is not to be overlooked
that the energetic aggressiveness and pertinacity of predatory
man is a heritage of no mean value. The economic value -- with
some regard also to the social value in the narrower sense -- of
these aptitudes and propensities is attempted to be passed upon
without reflecting on their value as seen from another point of
view. When contrasted with the prosy mediocrity of the latter-day
industrial scheme of life, and judged by the accredited standards
of morality, and more especially by the standards of aesthetics
and of poetry, these survivals from a more primitive type of
manhood may have a very different value from that here assigned
them. But all this being foreign to the purpose in hand, no
expression of opinion on this latter head would be in place here.
All that is admissible is to enter the caution that these
standards of excellence, which are alien to the present purpose,
must not be allowed to influence our economic appreciation of
these traits of human character or of the activities which foster
their growth. This applies both as regards those persons who
actively participate in sports and those whose sporting
experience consists in contemplation only. What is here said of
the sporting propensity is likewise pertinent to sundry
reflections presently to be made in this connection on what would
colloquially be known as the religious life.

The last paragraph incidentally touches upon the fact that
everyday speech can scarcely be employed in discussing this class
of aptitudes and activities without implying deprecation or
apology. The fact is significant as showing the habitual attitude
of the dispassionate common man toward the propensities which
express themselves in sports and in exploit generally. And this
is perhaps as convenient a place as any to discuss that undertone
of deprecation which runs through all the voluminous discourse in
defense or in laudation of athletic sports, as well as of other
activities of a predominantly predatory character. The same
apologetic frame of mind is at least beginning to be observable
in the spokesmen of most other institutions handed down from the
barbarian phase of life. Among these archaic institutions which
are felt to need apology are comprised, with others, the entire
existing system of the distribution of wealth, together with the
resulting class distinction of status; all or nearly all forms of
consumption that come under the head of conspicuous waste; the
status of women under the patriarchal system; and many features
of the traditional creeds and devout observances, especially the
exoteric expressions of the creed and the naive apprehension of
received observances. What is to be said in this connection of
the apologetic attitude taken in commending sports and the
sporting character will therefore apply, with a suitable change
in phraseology, to the apologies offered in behalf of these
other, related elements of our social heritage.

There is a feeling -- usually vague and not commonly avowed in so
many words by the apologist himself, but ordinarily
perceptible in the manner of his discourse -- that these sports,
as well as the general range of predaceous impulses and habits of
thought which underlie the sporting character, do not altogether
commend themselves to common sense. "As to the majority of
murderers, they are very incorrect characters." This aphorism
offers a valuation of the predaceous temperament, and of the
disciplinary effects of its overt expression and exercise, as
seen from the moralist's point of view. As such it affords an
indication of what is the deliverance of the sober sense of
mature men as to the degree of availability of the predatory
habit of mind for the purposes of the collective life. It is felt
that the presumption is against any activity which involves
habituation to the predatory attitude, and that the burden of
proof lies with those who speak for the rehabilitation of the
predaceous temper and for the practices which strengthen it.
There is a strong body of popular sentiment in favor of
diversions and enterprises of the kind in question; but there is
at the same time present in the community a pervading sense that
this ground of sentiment wants legitimation. The required
legitimation is ordinarily sought by showing that although sports
are substantially of a predatory, socially disintegrating effect;
although their proximate effect runs in the direction of
reversion to propensities that are industrially disserviceable;
yet indirectly and remotely -- by some not readily comprehensible
process of polar induction, or counter-irritation perhaps --
sports are conceived to foster a habit of mind that is
serviceable for the social or industrial purpose. That is to say,
although sports are essentially of the nature of invidious
exploit, it is presumed that by some remote and obscure effect
they result in the growth of a temperament conducive to
non-invidious work. It is commonly attempted to show all this
empirically or it is rather assumed that this is the empirical
generalization which must be obvious to any one who cares to see
it. In conducting the proof of this thesis the treacherous ground
of inference from cause to effect is somewhat shrewdly avoided,
except so far as to show that the "manly virtues" spoken of above
are fostered by sports. But since it is these manly virtues that
are (economically) in need of legitimation, the chain of proof
breaks off where it should begin. In the most general economic
terms, these apologies are an effort to show that, in spite of
the logic of the thing, sports do in fact further what may
broadly be called workmanship. So long as he has not succeeded in
persuading himself or others that this is their effect the
thoughtful apologist for sports will not rest content, and
commonly, it is to be admitted, he does not rest content. His
discontent with his own vindication of the practice in question
is ordinarily shown by his truculent tone and by the eagerness
with which he heaps up asseverations in support of his position.
But why are apologies needed? If there prevails a body of popular
sentient in favor of sports, why is not that fact a sufficient
legitimation? The protracted discipline of prowess to which the
race has been subjected under the predatory and quasi-peaceable
culture has transmitted to the men of today a temperament that
finds gratification in these expressions of ferocity and cunning.
So, why not accept these sports as legitimate expressions of a
normal and wholesome human nature? What other norm is there that
is to be lived up to than that given in the aggregate range of
propensities that express themselves in the sentiments of this
generation, including the hereditary strain of prowess? The
ulterior norm to which appeal is taken is the instinct of
workmanship, which is an instinct more fundamental, of more
ancient prescription, than the propensity to predatory emulation.
The latter is but a special development of the instinct of
workmanship, a variant, relatively late and ephemeral in spite of
its great absolute antiquity. The emulative predatory impulse --
or the instinct of sportsmanship, as it might well be called --
is essentially unstable in comparison with the primordial
instinct of workmanship out of which it has been developed and
differentiated. Tested by this ulterior norm of life, predatory
emulation, and therefore the life of sports, falls short.

The manner and the measure in which the institution of a leisure
class conduces to the conservation of sports and
invidious exploit can of course not be succinctly stated. From
the evidence already recited it appears that, in sentient and
inclinations, the leisure class is more favorable to a warlike
attitude and animus than the industrial classes. Something
similar seems to be true as regards sports. But it is chiefly in
its indirect effects, though the canons of decorous living, that
the institution has its influence on the prevalent sentiment with
respect to the sporting life. This indirect effect goes almost
unequivocally in the direction of furthering a survival of the
predatory temperament and habits; and this is true even with
respect to those variants of the sporting life which the higher
leisure-class code of proprieties proscribes; as, e.g.,
prize-fighting, cock-fighting, and other like vulgar expressions
of the sporting temper. Whatever the latest authenticated
schedule of detail proprieties may say, the accredited canons of
decency sanctioned by the institution say without equivocation
that emulation and waste are good and their opposites are
disreputable. In the crepuscular light of the social nether
spaces the details of the code are not apprehended with all the
facility that might be desired, and these broad underlying canons
of decency are therefore applied somewhat unreflectingly, with
little question as to the scope of their competence or the
exceptions that have been sanctioned in detail.

Addiction to athletic sports, not only in the way of direct
participation, but also in the way of sentiment and moral
support, is, in a more or less pronounced degree, a
characteristic of the leisure class; and it is a trait which that
class shares with the lower-class delinquents, and with such
atavistic elements throughout the body of the community as are
endowed with a dominant predaceous trend. Few individuals among
the populations of Western civilized countries are so far devoid
of the predaceous instinct as to find no diversion in
contemplating athletic sports and games, but with the common run
of individuals among the industrial classes the inclination to
sports does not assert itself to the extent of constituting what
may fairly be called a sporting habit. With these classes sports
are an occasional diversion rather than a serious feature of
life. This common body of the people can therefore not be said to
cultivate the sporting propensity. Although it is not obsolete in
the average of them, or even in any appreciable number of
individuals, yet the predilection for sports in the commonplace
industrial classes is of the nature of a reminiscence, more or
less diverting as an occasional interest, rather than a vital and
permanent interest that counts as a dominant factor in shaping
the organic complex of habits of thought into which it enters.
As it manifests itself in the sporting life of today, this
propensity may not appear to be an economic factor of grave
consequence. Taken simply by itself it does not count for a great
deal in its direct effects on the industrial efficiency or the
consumption of any given individual; but the prevalence and the
growth of the type of human nature of which this propensity is a
characteristic feature is a matter of some consequence. It
affects the economic life of the collectivity both as regards the
rate of economic development and as regards the character of the
results attained by the development. For better or worse, the
fact that the popular habits of thought are in any degree
dominated by this type of character can not but greatly affect
the scope, direction, standards, and ideals of the collective
economic life, as well as the degree of adjustment of the
collective life to the environment.

Something to a like effect is to be said of other traits that go
to make up the barbarian character. For the purposes of economic
theory, these further barbarian traits may be taken as
concomitant variations of that predaceous temper of which prowess
is an expression. In great measure they are not primarily of an
economic character, nor do they have much direct economic
bearing. They serve to indicate the stage of economic evolution
to which the individual possessed of them is adapted. They are of
importance, therefore, as extraneous tests of the degree of
adaptation of the character in which they are comprised to the
economic exigencies of today, but they are also to some extent
important as being aptitudes which themselves go to increase or
diminish the economic serviceability of the individual.

As it finds expression in the life of the barbarian, prowess
manifests itself in two main directions -- force and fraud. In
varying degrees these two forms of expression are similarly
present in modern warfare, in the pecuniary occupations, and in
sports and games. Both lines of aptitudes are cultivated and
strengthened by the life of sport as well as by the more serious
forms of emulative life. Strategy or cunning is an element
invariably present in games, as also in warlike pursuits and in
the chase. In all of these employments strategy tends to develop
into finesse and chicanery. Chicanery, falsehood, browbeating,
hold a well-secured place in the method of procedure of any
athletic contest and in games generally. The habitual employment
of an umpire, and the minute technical regulations governing the
limits and details of permissible fraud and strategic advantage,
sufficiently attest the fact that fraudulent practices and
attempts to overreach one's opponents are not adventitious
features of the game. In the nature of the case habituation to
sports should conduce to a fuller development of the aptitude for
fraud; and the prevalence in the community of that predatory
temperament which inclines men to sports connotes a prevalence of
sharp practice and callous disregard of the interests of others,
individually and collectively. Resort to fraud, in any guise and
under any legitimation of law or custom, is an expression of a
narrowly self-regarding habit of mind. It is needless to dwell at
any length on the economic value of this feature of the sporting

In this connection it is to be noted that the most obvious
characteristic of the physiognomy affected by athletic and other
sporting men is that of an extreme astuteness. The gifts and
exploits of Ulysses are scarcely second to those of Achilles,
either in their substantial furtherance of the game or in the
éclat which they give the astute sporting man among his
associates. The pantomime of astuteness is commonly the first
step in that assimilation to the professional sporting man which
a youth undergoes after matriculation in any reputable school, of
the secondary or the higher education, as the case may be. And
the physiognomy of astuteness, as a decorative feature, never
ceases to receive the thoughtful attention of men whose serious
interest lies in athletic games, races, or other contests of a
similar emulative nature. As a further indication of their
spiritual kinship, it may be pointed out that the members of the
lower delinquent class usually show this physiognomy of
astuteness in a marked degree, and that they very commonly show
the same histrionic exaggeration of it that is often seen in the
young candidate for athletic honors. This, by the way, is the
most legible mark of what is vulgarly called "toughness" in
youthful aspirants for a bad name.

The astute man, it may be remarked, is of no economic value to
the community -- unless it be for the purpose of sharp
practice in dealings with other communities. His functioning is
not a furtherance of the generic life process. At its best, in
its direct economic bearing, it is a conversion of the economic
substance of the collectivity to a growth alien to the collective
life process -- very much after the analogy of what in medicine
would be called a benign tumor, with some tendency to transgress
the uncertain line that divides the benign from the malign
growths. The two barbarian traits, ferocity and astuteness, go to
make up the predaceous temper or spiritual attitude. They are the
expressions of a narrowly self-regarding habit of mind. Both are
highly serviceable for individual expediency in a life looking to
invidious success. Both also have a high aesthetic value. Both
are fostered by the pecuniary culture. But both alike are of no
use for the purposes of the collective life.

Chapter Eleven

The Belief in Luck

The gambling propensity is another subsidiary trait of the
barbarian temperament. It is a concomitant variation of character
of almost universal prevalence among sporting men and among men
given to warlike and emulative activities generally. This trait
also has a direct economic value. It is recognized to be a
hindrance to the highest industrial efficiency of the aggregate
in any community where it prevails in an appreciable degree.
The gambling proclivity is doubtfully to be classed as a feature
belonging exclusively to the predatory type of human nature. The
chief factor in the gambling habit is the belief in luck; and
this belief is apparently traceable, at least in its elements, to
a stage in human evolution antedating the predatory culture. It
may well have been under the predatory culture that the belief in
luck was developed into the form in which it is present, as the
chief element of the gambling proclivity, in the sporting
temperament. It probably owes the specific form under which it
occurs in the modern culture to the predatory discipline. But the
belief in luck is in substance a habit of more ancient date than
the predatory culture. It is one form of the artistic
apprehension of things. The belief seems to be a trait carried
over in substance from an earlier phase into the barbarian
culture, and transmuted and transmitted through that culture to a
later stage of human development under a specific form imposed by
the predatory discipline. But in any case, it is to be taken as
an archaic trait, inherited from a more or less remote past, more
or less incompatible with the requirements of the modern
industrial process, and more or less of a hindrance to the
fullest efficiency of the collective economic life of the

While the belief in luck is the basis of the gambling habit, it
is not the only element that enters into the habit of betting.
Betting on the issue of contests of strength and skill proceeds
on a further motive, without which the belief in luck would
scarcely come in as a prominent feature of sporting life. This
further motive is the desire of the anticipated winner, or the
partisan of the anticipated winning side, to heighten his side's
ascendency at the cost of the loser. Not only does the stronger
side score a more signal victory, and the losing side suffer a
more painful and humiliating defeat, in proportion as the
pecuniary gain and loss in the wager is large; although this
alone is a consideration of material weight. But the wager is
commonly laid also with a view, not avowed in words nor even
recognized in set terms in petto, to enhancing the chances of
success for the contestant on which it is laid. It is felt that
substance and solicitude expended to this end can not go for
naught in the issue. There is here a special manifestation of the
instinct of workmanship, backed by an even more manifest sense
that the animistic congruity of things must decide for a
victorious outcome for the side in whose behalf the propensity
inherent in events has been propitiated and fortified by so much
of conative and kinetic urging. This incentive to the wager
expresses itself freely under the form of backing one's favorite
in any contest, and it is unmistakably a predatory feature. It is
as ancillary to the predaceous impulse proper that the belief in
luck expresses itself in a wager. So that it may be set down that
in so far as the belief in luck comes to expression in the form
of laying a wager, it is to be accounted an integral element of
the predatory type of character. The belief is, in its elements,
an archaic habit which belongs substantially to early,
undifferentiated human nature; but when this belief is helped out
by the predatory emulative impulse, and so is differentiated into
the specific form of the gambling habit, it is, in this
higher-developed and specific form, to be classed as a trait of
the barbarian character.

The belief in luck is a sense of fortuitous necessity in the
sequence of phenomena. In its various mutations and expressions,
it is of very serious importance for the economic efficiency of
any community in which it prevails to an appreciable extent. So
much so as to warrant a more detailed discussion of its origin
and content and of the bearing of its various ramifications upon
economic structure and function, as well as a discussion of the
relation of the leisure class to its growth, differentiation, and
persistence. In the developed, integrated form in which it is
most readily observed in the barbarian of the predatory culture
or in the sporting man of modern communities, the belief
comprises at least two distinguishable elements -- which are to
be taken as two different phases of the same fundamental habit of
thought, or as the same psychological factor in two successive
phases of its evolution. The fact that these two elements are
successive phases of the same general line of growth of belief
does not hinder their coexisting in the habits of thought of any
given individual. The more primitive form (or the more archaic
phase) is an incipient animistic belief, or an animistic sense of
relations and things, that imputes a quasi-personal character to
facts. To the archaic man all the obtrusive and obviously
consequential objects and facts in his environment have a
quasi-personal individuality. They are conceived to be possessed
of volition, or rather of propensities, which enter into the
complex of causes and affect events in an inscrutable manner. The
sporting man's sense of luck and chance, or of fortuitous
necessity, is an inarticulate or inchoate animism. It applies to
objects and situations, often in a very vague way; but it is
usually so far defined as to imply the possibility of
propitiating, or of deceiving and cajoling, or otherwise
disturbing the holding of propensities resident in the objects
which constitute the apparatus and accessories of any game of
skill or chance. There are few sporting men who are not in the
habit of wearing charms or talismans to which more or less of
efficacy is felt to belong. And the proportion is not much less
of those who instinctively dread the "hoodooing" of the
contestants or the apparatus engaged in any contest on which they
lay a wager; or who feel that the fact of their backing a given
contestant or side in the game does and ought to strengthen that
side; or to whom the "mascot" which they cultivate means
something more than a jest.

In its simple form the belief in luck is this instinctive sense
of an inscrutable teleological propensity in objects or
situations. Objects or events have a propensity to eventuate in a
given end, whether this end or objective point of the sequence is
conceived to be fortuitously given or deliberately sought. From
this simple animism the belief shades off by insensible
gradations into the second, derivative form or phase above
referred to, which is a more or less articulate belief in an
inscrutable preternatural agency. The preternatural agency works
through the visible objects with which it is associated, but is
not identified with these objects in point of individuality. The
use of the term "preternatural agency" here carries no further
implication as to the nature of the agency spoken of as
preternatural. This is only a farther development of animistic
belief. The preternatural agency is not necessarily conceived to
be a personal agent in the full sense, but it is an agency which
partakes of the attributes of personality to the extent of
somewhat arbitrarily influencing the outcome of any enterprise,
and especially of any contest. The pervading belief in the
hamingia or gipta (gaefa, authna) which lends so much of color to
the Icelandic sagas specifically, and to early Germanic
folk-legends, is an illustration of this sense of an
extra-physical propensity in the course of events.

In this expression or form of the belief the propensity is
scarcely personified although to a varying extent an
individuality is imputed to it; and this individuated propensity
is sometimes conceived to yield to circumstances, commonly to
circumstances of a spiritual or preternatural character. A
well-known and striking exemplification of the belief -- in a
fairly advanced stage of differentiation and involving an
anthropomorphic personification of the preternatural agent
appealed to -- is afforded by the wager of battle. Here the
preternatural agent was conceived to act on request as umpire,
and to shape the outcome of the contest in accordance with some
stipulated ground of decision, such as the equity or legality of
the respective contestants' claims. The like sense of an
inscrutable but spiritually necessary tendency in events is still
traceable as an obscure element in current popular belief, as
shown, for instance, by the well-accredited maxim, "Thrice is he
armed who knows his quarrel just," -- a maxim which retains much
of its significance for the average unreflecting person even in
the civilized communities of today. The modern reminiscence of
the belief in the hamingia, or in the guidance of an unseen hand,
which is traceable in the acceptance of this maxim is faint and
perhaps uncertain; and it seems in any case to be blended with
other psychological moments that are not clearly of an animistic

For the purpose in hand it is unnecessary to look more closely
into the psychological process or the ethnological line of
descent by which the later of these two animistic
apprehensions of propensity is derived from the earlier. This
question may be of the gravest importance to folk-psychology or
to the theory of the evolution of creeds and cults. The same is
true of the more fundamental question whether the two are related
at all as successive phases in a sequence of development.
Reference is here made to the existence of these questions only
to remark that the interest of the present discussion does not
lie in that direction. So far as concerns economic theory, these
two elements or phases of the belief in luck, or in an
extra-causal trend or propensity in things, are of substantially
the same character. They have an economic significance as habits
of thought which affect the individual's habitual view of the
facts and sequences with which he comes in contact, and which
thereby affect the individual's serviceability for the industrial
purpose. Therefore, apart from all question of the beauty, worth,
or beneficence of any animistic belief, there is place for a
discussion of their economic bearing on the serviceability of the
individual as an economic factor, and especially as an industrial

It has already been noted in an earlier connection, that in order
to have the highest serviceability in the complex
industrial processes of today, the individual must be endowed
with the aptitude and the habit of readily apprehending and
relating facts in terms of causal sequence. Both as a whole and
in its details, the industrial process is a process of
quantitative causation. The "intelligence" demanded of the
workman, as well as of the director of an industrial process, is
little else than a degree of facility in the apprehension of and
adaptation to a quantitatively determined causal sequence. This
facility of apprehension and adaptation is what is lacking in
stupid workmen, and the growth of this facility is the end sought
in their education -- so far as their education aims to enhance
their industrial efficiency.

In so far as the individual's inherited aptitudes or his training
incline him to account for facts and sequences in other terms
than those of causation or matter-of-fact, they lower his
productive efficiency or industrial usefulness. This lowering of
efficiency through a penchant for animistic methods of
apprehending facts is especially apparent when taken in the
mass-when a given population with an animistic turn is viewed as
a whole. The economic drawbacks of animism are more patent and
its consequences are more far-reaching under the modern system of
large industry than under any other. In the modern industrial
communities, industry is, to a constantly increasing extent,
being organized in a comprehensive system of organs and functions
mutually conditioning one another; and therefore freedom from all
bias in the causal apprehension of phenomena grows constantly
more requisite to efficiency on the part of the men concerned in
industry. Under a system of handicraft an advantage in dexterity,
diligence, muscular force, or endurance may, in a very large
measure, offset such a bias in the habits of thought of the

Similarly in agricultural industry of the traditional kind, which
closely resembles handicraft in the nature of the demands made
upon the workman. In both, the workman is himself the prime mover
chiefly depended upon, and the natural forces engaged are in
large part apprehended as inscrutable and fortuitous agencies,
whose working lies beyond the workman's control or discretion. In
popular apprehension there is in these forms of industry
relatively little of the industrial process left to the fateful
swing of a comprehensive mechanical sequence which must be
comprehended in terms of causation and to which the operations of
industry and the movements of the workmen must be adapted. As
industrial methods develop, the virtues of the handicraftsman
count for less and less as an offset to scanty intelligence or a
halting acceptance of the sequence of cause and effect. The
industrial organization assumes more and more of the character of
a mechanism, in which it is man's office to discriminate and
select what natural forces shall work out their effects in his
service. The workman's part in industry changes from that of a
prime mover to that of discrimination and valuation of
quantitative sequences and mechanical facts. The faculty of a
ready apprehension and unbiased appreciation of causes in his
environment grows in relative economic importance and any element
in the complex of his habits of thought which intrudes a bias at
variance with this ready appreciation of matter-of-fact sequence
gains proportionately in importance as a disturbing element
acting to lower his industrial usefulness. Through its cumulative
effect upon the habitual attitude of the population, even a
slight or inconspicuous bias towards accounting for everyday
facts by recourse to other ground than that of quantitative
causation may work an appreciable lowering of the collective
industrial efficiency of a community.

The animistic habit of mind may occur in the early,
undifferentiated form of an inchoate animistic belief, or in the
later and more highly integrated phase in which there is an
anthropomorphic personification of the propensity imputed to
facts. The industrial value of such a lively animistic sense, or
of such recourse to a preternatural agency or the guidance of an
unseen hand, is of course very much the same in either case. As
affects the industrial serviceability of the individual, the
effect is of the same kind in either case; but the extent to
which this habit of thought dominates or shapes the complex of
his habits of thought varies with the degree of immediacy,
urgency, or exclusiveness with which the individual habitually
applies the animistic or anthropomorphic formula in dealing with
the facts of his environment. The animistic habit acts in all
cases to blur the appreciation of causal sequence; but the
earlier, less reflected, less defined animistic sense of
propensity may be expected to affect the intellectual processes
of the individual in a more pervasive way than the higher forms
of anthropomorphism. Where the animistic habit is present in the
naive form, its scope and range of application are not defined or
limited. It will therefore palpably affect his thinking at every
turn of the person's life -- wherever he has to do with the
material means of life. In the later, maturer development of
animism, after it has been defined through the process of
anthropomorphic elaboration, when its application has been
limited in a somewhat consistent fashion to the remote and the
invisible, it comes about that an increasing range of everyday
facts are provisionally accounted for without recourse to the
preternatural agency in which a cultivated animism expresses
itself. A highly integrated, personified preternatural agency is
not a convenient means of handling the trivial occurrences of
life, and a habit is therefore easily fallen into of accounting
for many trivial or vulgar phenomena in terms of sequence. The
provisional explanation so arrived at is by neglect allowed to
stand as definitive, for trivial purposes, until special
provocation or perplexity recalls the individual to his
allegiance. But when special exigencies arise, that is to say,
when there is peculiar need of a full and free recourse to the
law of cause and effect, then the individual commonly has
recourse to the preternatural agency as a universal solvent, if
he is possessed of an anthropomorphic belief.

The extra-causal propensity or agent has a very high utility as a
recourse in perplexity, but its utility is altogether of a
non-economic kind. It is especially a refuge and a fund of
comfort where it has attained the degree of consistency and
specialization that belongs to an anthropomorphic divinity. It
has much to commend it even on other grounds than that of
affording the perplexed individual a means of escape from the
difficulty of accounting for phenomena in terms of causal
sequence. It would scarcely be in place here to dwell on the
obvious and well-accepted merits of an anthropomorphic divinity,
as seen from the point of view of the aesthetic, moral, or
spiritual interest, or even as seen from the less remote
standpoint of political, military, or social policy. The question
here concerns the less picturesque and less urgent economic value
of the belief in such a preternatural agency, taken as a habit of
thought which affects the industrial serviceability of the
believer. And even within this narrow, economic range, the
inquiry is perforce confined to the immediate bearing of this
habit of thought upon the believer's workmanlike serviceability,
rather than extended to include its remoter economic effects.
These remoter effects are very difficult to trace. The inquiry
into them is so encumbered with current preconceptions as to the
degree in which life is enhanced by spiritual contact with such a
divinity, that any attempt to inquire into their economic value
must for the present be fruitless.

The immediate, direct effect of the animistic habit of thought
upon the general frame of mind of the believer goes in the
direction of lowering his effective intelligence in the respect
in which intelligence is of especial consequence for modern
industry. The effect follows, in varying degree, whether the
preternatural agent or propensity believed in is of a higher or a
lower cast. This holds true of the barbarian's and the sporting
man's sense of luck and propensity, and likewise of the somewhat
higher developed belief in an anthropomorphic divinity, such as
is commonly possessed by the same class. It must be taken to hold
true also -- though with what relative degree of cogency is not
easy to say -- of the more adequately developed anthropomorphic
cults, such as appeal to the devout civilized man. The industrial
disability entailed by a popular adherence to one of the higher
anthropomorphic cults may be relatively slight, but it is not to
be overlooked. And even these high-class cults of the Western
culture do not represent the last dissolving phase of this human
sense of extra-causal propensity. Beyond these the same animistic
sense shows itself also in such attenuations of anthropomorphism
as the eighteenth-century appeal to an order of nature and
natural rights, and in their modern representative, the
ostensibly post-Darwinian concept of a meliorative trend in the
process of evolution. This animistic explanation of phenomena is
a form of the fallacy which the logicians knew by the name of
ignava ratio. For the purposes of industry or of science it
counts as a blunder in the apprehension and valuation of facts.
Apart from its direct industrial consequences, the animistic
habit has a certain significance for economic theory on other
grounds. (1) It is a fairly reliable indication of the presence,
and to some extent even of the degree of potency, of certain
other archaic traits that accompany it and that are of
substantial economic consequence; and (2) the material
consequences of that code of devout proprieties to which the
animistic habit gives rise in the development of an
anthropomorphic cult are of importance both (a) as affecting the
community's consumption of goods and the prevalent canons of
taste, as already suggested in an earlier chapter, and (b) by
inducing and conserving a certain habitual recognition of the
relation to a superior, and so stiffening the current sense of
status and allegiance.

As regards the point last named (b), that body of habits of
thought which makes up the character of any individual is in some
sense an organic whole. A marked variation in a given direction
at any one point carries with it, as its correlative, a
concomitant variation in the habitual expression of life in other
directions or other groups of activities. These various habits of
thought, or habitual expressions of life, are all phases of the
single life sequence of the individual; therefore a habit formed
in response to a given stimulus will necessarily affect the
character of the response made to other stimuli. A modification
of human nature at any one point is a modification of human
nature as a whole. On this ground, and perhaps to a still greater
extent on obscurer grounds that can not be discussed here, there
are these concomitant variations as between the different traits
of human nature. So, for instance, barbarian peoples with a
well-developed predatory scheme of life are commonly also
possessed of a strong prevailing animistic habit, a well-formed
anthropomorphic cult, and a lively sense of status. On the other
hand, anthropomorphism and the realizing sense of an animistic
propensity in material are less obtrusively present in the life
of the peoples at the cultural stages which precede and which
follow the barbarian culture. The sense of status is also
feebler; on the whole, in peaceable communities. It is to be
remarked that a lively, but slightly specialized, animistic
belief is to be found in most if not all peoples living in the
ante-predatory, savage stage of culture. The primitive savage
takes his animism less seriously than the barbarian or the
degenerate savage. With him it eventuates in fantastic
myth-making, rather than in coercive superstition. The barbarian
culture shows sportsmanship, status, and anthropomorphism. There
is commonly observable a like concomitance of variations in the
same respects in the individual temperament of men in the
civilized communities of today. Those modern representatives of
the predaceous barbarian temper that make up the sporting element
are commonly believers in luck; at least they have a strong sense
of an animistic propensity in things, by force of which they are
given to gambling. So also as regards anthropomorphism in this
class. Such of them as give in their adhesion to some creed
commonly attach themselves to one of the naively and consistently
anthropomorphic creeds; there are relatively few sporting men who
seek spiritual comfort in the less anthropomorphic cults, such as
the Unitarian or the Universalist.

Closely bound up with this correlation of anthropomorphism and
prowess is the fact that anthropomorphic cults act to
conserve, if not to initiate, habits of mind favorable to a
regime of status. As regards this point, it is quite impossible
to say where the disciplinary effect of the cult ends and where
the evidence of a concomitance of variations in inherited traits
begins. In their finest development, the predatory temperament,
the sense of status, and the anthropomorphic cult all together
belong to the barbarian culture; and something of a mutual causal
relation subsists between the three phenomena as they come into
sight in communities on that cultural level. The way in which
they recur in correlation in the habits and attitudes of
individuals and classes today goes far to imply a like causal or
organic relation between the same psychological phenomena
considered as traits or habits of the individual. It has appeared
at an earlier point in the discussion that the relation of
status, as a feature of social structure, is a consequence of the
predatory habit of life. As regards its line of derivation, it is
substantially an elaborated expression of the predatory attitude.


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