The Word Foundation


Harold W. Percival



What is self-government? What is spoken of as self or oneself, as of identity, is the sum of the feelings and desires of the conscious one who is within the human body, and who is the operator of the body. Government is the authority, administration and method by which a body or state is ruled. Self-government as applied to the individual, therefore, means that one’s feelings and desires which are or may be inclined by appetites or by emotions and prejudices and passions to disrupt the body, will be restrained and governed by one’s own better feelings and desires which think and act according to rightness and reason as the standards of authority within, instead of being controlled by the preferences for or the prejudices against the objects of the senses as authority from outside the body. When one’s riotous feelings and desires are self-governed the forces of the body are regulated and preserved intact and strong, because the interests of some desires against the interests of the body are disorderly and destructive, but the interest and welfare of the body is for the ultimate interest and good of each of the desires.

Self-government of the individual, when extended to the people of the country, is democracy. With rightness and reason as authority from within, the people will elect as their representatives to govern them only those who practice self-government and who are otherwise qualified. When this is done the people will begin to establish a genuine democracy, which will be the government of the people for the greatest good and benefit of all the people as one people. Such democracy will be the strongest kind of government.

Democracy as self-government is what people of all nations are blindly seeking. No matter how different or opposed their forms or methods seem to be, genuine democracy is what all people inherently want, because it will allow them most freedom with greatest opportunity and security. And true democracy is what all peoples will have, if they see how it works for the good of all the people in the United States. This will surely come to be, if individual citizens will practice self-government and thus take the great opportunity which destiny offers to those who live in what has been called, “The land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Sensible people will not believe that a democracy can give them all they might want. Sensible people will know that no one in the world can get all that he wants. A political party or its candidate for office who promises to supply the wants of one class at the expense of another class would be a crafty bargainer for votes and a breeder of trouble. To work against any class is to work against democracy.

Genuine democracy will be one corporate body composed of all the people who arrange themselves naturally and instinctively into four classes or orders by their individual thinking and feeling. (“The four classes” is dealt with in “Four Classes of Persons”.) The four classes are not determined by birth or law or by financial or social position. Each individual is of that one of the four classes as which he thinks and feels, naturally and obviously. Each of the four orders is necessary to the other three. To injure one of the four for the interest of any other class would really be against the interest of all. To try to do that would be as foolish as for one to strike his foot because that foot had stumbled and caused him to fall on his arm. What is against the interest of one part of the body is against the interest and welfare of the entire body. Likewise, the suffering of any individual will be to the disadvantage of all the people. Because this fundamental fact concerning democracy has not been thoroughly appreciated and dealt with, democracy as the self-government of a people has always failed in every past civilization in its time of trial. It is now again on trial. If we as individuals and as a people will not begin to understand and practice the underlying principles of democracy, this civilization will end in failure.

Democracy as self-government is a matter of thought and understanding. Democracy cannot be forced on an individual or on a people. To be a permanent institution as government the principles as facts should be approved by everyone, or at least by the majority in the beginning, for it to become the government for everybody. The facts are: Every individual who comes into this world will eventually think and feel himself into one of the four classes or orders, as body workers, or traders, or thinking workers, or knower workers. It is the right of each individual in each of the four orders to think and speak what he feels; it is the right of each to fit himself to be what he chooses to be; and, it is the right under the law for each one to have equal justice with all men.

No one individual can take another individual out of the class he is in and put him into another class. Each individual by his own thinking and feeling remains in the class in which he is, or by his own thinking and feeling puts himself into another class. One individual may help or be helped by another individual, but each must do his own thinking and feeling and perform works. All people in the world distribute themselves into these classes, as workers in the body order, or the trader order, or the thinker order, or the knower order. Those who are not workers are as drones among the people. The people do not organize themselves into the four classes or orders; they have not even thought about the arrangement. Yet, their thinking makes them to be and they are of these four orders, no matter what their birth or position in life may be.