Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
Famous People. (S573: 1899)
Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, in sending his motto for the twentieth century, accompanies it with a brief statement of its origin and application:--
1. The century that is now passing away has been characterised by an enormous and unprecedented increase of intellectual advancement and material wealth, accompanied by an increase rather than a decrease of want and misery. The truth of this latter statement is demonstrated in the twentieth chapter of my "Wonderful Century."
2. The coming century, along with the diminution of luxury, but the further increase of real wealth, may, let us hope, witness the abolition of want with all its direful consequences through the general recognition of the great principle of social justice--equality of opportunity.
3. This principle is a logical deduction from Herbert Spencer's fundamental law of social justice, which he gives as the equivalent of the law of the survival of the fittest in the animal world, and expresses as follows:--"Each individual ought to receive the benefits and evils of his own nature and consequent conduct: neither being prevented from having whatever good his actions normally bring to him, nor allowed to shoulder off on to other persons whatever ill is brought to him by his actions." (Justice, p. 17.) This law forbids all such gifts or bequests of property as may enable any person to live permanently without work on the labour of others, and thus demands for each "equality of opportunity."
4. If we earnestly endeavour to apply this principle to every department of social life--intellectual as well as material--the twentieth century will witness an advance in true civilisation and in human happiness such as the world has never seen before.
5. The public conscience is now so deeply stirred by the complete failure of our present system of wealth-distribution, even under the most favourable conditions, to abolish want, that it will welcome the adoption and application of this grand and far-reaching principle.
6. Let us, then, declare that notwithstanding the certain opposition of plutocrats and politicians, this principle shall be ever kept in view as a beacon-light to guide us in all our social legislation. Thus only shall we make sure our steady advance towards social justice till we reach the wished-for goal of general well-being.
Our motto must therefore be:--
"Equality of Opportunity" as the fundamental principle of Social Justice, and the only means of attaining the well-being of all.