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By John Fiske

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Extra resources for American political ideas viewed from the standpoint of universal history: Three lectures delivered at the Royal institution of Great Britain in May, 1880,

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Both are originally designed for purposes of external defence; but the one can readily be used for purposes of internal oppression, and the other cannot. Nobody ever heard of a navy putting up an empire at auction and knocking down the throne of the world to a Didius Julianus. When, therefore, a country is effectually screened by water from external attack, it is screened in a way that permits its normal political development to go on internally without those manifold military hinderances that have ordinarily been so obstructive in the history of civilization.

Now the process of change which we call civilization means quite a number of things. But there is no doubt that on its political side it means primarily the gradual substitution of a state of peace for a state of war. ” Manifestly the development of industry is largely dependent upon the cessation or restriction of warfare; and furthermore, as the industrial phase of civilization slowly supplants the military phase, men's characters undergo, though very slowly, a corresponding change. Men become less inclined to destroy life or to inflict pain; or—to use the popular terminology which happens here to coincide precisely with that of the Doctrine of Evolution—they become less brutal and more humane.

But in the federal union, if California, as a state sovereign within its own sphere, adopts a grotesque constitution that aims at infringing on the rights of capitalists, the other states are not directly affected. They may disapprove, but they have neither the right nor the desire to interfere. Meanwhile the laws of nature quietly operate to repair the blunder. Capital flows away from California, and the business of the state is damaged, until presently the ignorant demagogues lose favour, the silly constitution becomes a dead-letter, and its formal repeal begins to be talked of.

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