By Auguste Comte
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Doctrines are almost equally powerless to restrain the development of individual selfishness, which grows bolder, from day to day, in clamouring for the license of the least social passions, in the name of universal intellectual anarchy. The second characteristic of our condition folj Q W S ^ m faQ first. It is the systematic corrupPolitical corruption. . 1 . -. -ui • ± tion which is set up as an indispensable instrument of government. The three doctrines bear their share, though it may be an unequal one, in this disgraceful result, because all exclude, as we have seen, true political convictions.
Under the impulse of this persuasion, the strongest social devotedness that can shed honour upon contemporary history was manifested. But this could be only for a time. As the illusion disappeared, the convictions which arose from it became first weakened, and then mingled with the influences of the stationary, and even the retrograde polity: and though they are still of a higher order than those which are inspired by the other doctrines, and especially among the young, they have not energy to resist the dissolving action of the revolutionary philosophy, even among its own advocates; so that this philosophy now contributes, almost as much as its two antagonists, to the spread of political demoralization.
Short as is our life, and feeble as is our reason, we cannot emancipate ourselves from the influence of our environment. Even the wildest dreamers reflect in their dreams the contemporary social state: and much more impossible is it to form a conception of a true political system, radically different from that amidst which we live. The highest order of minds cannot discern the characteristics of the coming period till they are close upon i t ; and before that, the incrustations of the old system will have been pretty much broken away, and the popular mind will have been used to the spectacle of its demolition.