Nasmyth, George. Social Progress and the Darwinian Theory. Putnams. $1.50.

IT IS the contention of Dr. Nasmyth that the philosophy of force is the real cause of "the breakdown of civilization" in Europe; and his purpose is to show from whence sprang this philosophy and how it came to dominate the modern world, as it undoubtedly does.

What is the philosophy of force? It is, Dr. Nasmyth tells us, the belief that human progress is the result of natural selection operating in the social realm through the agency of war. The theory has been eloquently expounded, not only by such men as Nietzsche, Von Moltke, Bernhardi and Theodore Roosevelt, but also by such men as Herbert Spencer, Ernest Renan and Ruskin. The source of the theory, we are told, is to be in the misconception of the Darwinian theory of evolution, due to an illogical application of definite biological analogies to human society. It is Dr. Nasmyth's chief purpose to show that Darwin himself did not push his theory so far, and that the struggle by which mankind has advanced was the struggle of man against the external universe, and not of man with man and social group with social group. Without a doubt, this point is well sustained by the author, and for that reason alone, if for no other, the volume should have the careful attention of thinkers.

It would seem, however, that Dr. Nasmyth, after successfully confounding those who defend the philosophy of force on the grounds of biological evolution, proceeds to push his own contention too far. No one can doubt that modern militarism, reaching its maximum development in imperial Germany, is truly the result of a misapprehension of the Darwinian theory. Nor can one doubt, as Dr. Nasmyth states, that the geographical position of Germany and the Franco Prussian war were largely responsible for the practical application of the theory by the German empire. This much seems clear. But we begin to question Dr. Nasmyth's argument when he makes this philosophy of force the cause of all modern social ills.

The present war is not, as is generally supposed, of dynastic, but of commercial origin; and it is to the same source that the ills of society must be traced, and to nothing else. The philosophy of force, far from being the cause of modern social ills, is, in fact, merely the technic of world competition for markets, and quite properly so; for competition, however veiled by custom, is a form of violence.

Dr. Nasmyth himself seems to suspect something of the kind in his later chapters, although he still maintains that the philosophy of force is a cause, and not, as it seems to us, a logical result of the social disease. He makes a strong and, at times, convincing plea for the establishment of a world federation in the interest of universal peace; and since it is undeniable that society tends more and more toward the larger unit, his argument is of great significance. But he does not seem to grasp the fact that only by destroying our present competitive system of economics and instituting universal co-operation could his dream become a reality.