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Capitalist Reform: Dreiser's The Titan and the Benefits of Competition

Capitalist Reform: Dreiser's The Titan and the Benefits of Competition concepts of truth and justice that animated progressive reformers but by conflict among amoral forces working mechanistically to establish balance, or "equilibrium." As he puts it in "Equation Inevitable," an essay in Hey Rub-A-DubDub (1920), "a harmonious workable state" of society requires a certain reciprocating smoothness of exchange and balance . . . . It is like those constructive adjustments which make any machine possible, and has apparently given rise to such conceptions of the necessary conditions for exchange as are indicated by the words "harmony," "justice," "truth," possibly even "tenderness" and "mercy," all of which mean but one thing, if they mean anything, at all: the need of striking a balance or achieving an equilibrium between plainly restless and conflicting elements. (157) Harmony, however, does not mean static perfection, for these "restless and conflicting elements" express "an inherent impulse in Nature that makes for change and so rearrangement, regardless of any existing harmonies or balances" (158). Without conflict, then, is no progress.1 Dreiser's belief in a universe of restless forces seeking what can only be a temporary balance derives largely from Herbert Spencer's version of Studies in American Naturalism · Summer 2011. Vol. 6, No. 1 © http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in American Naturalism University of Nebraska Press

Capitalist Reform: Dreiser's The Titan and the Benefits of Competition

Studies in American Naturalism , Volume 6 (1) – Feb 24, 2011

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University of Nebraska Press
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Copyright © University of Nebraska Press
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1944-6519
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Abstract

concepts of truth and justice that animated progressive reformers but by conflict among amoral forces working mechanistically to establish balance, or "equilibrium." As he puts it in "Equation Inevitable," an essay in Hey Rub-A-DubDub (1920), "a harmonious workable state" of society requires a certain reciprocating smoothness of exchange and balance . . . . It is like those constructive adjustments which make any machine possible, and has apparently given rise to such conceptions of the necessary conditions for exchange as are indicated by the words "harmony," "justice," "truth," possibly even "tenderness" and "mercy," all of which mean but one thing, if they mean anything, at all: the need of striking a balance or achieving an equilibrium between plainly restless and conflicting elements. (157) Harmony, however, does not mean static perfection, for these "restless and conflicting elements" express "an inherent impulse in Nature that makes for change and so rearrangement, regardless of any existing harmonies or balances" (158). Without conflict, then, is no progress.1 Dreiser's belief in a universe of restless forces seeking what can only be a temporary balance derives largely from Herbert Spencer's version of Studies in American Naturalism · Summer 2011. Vol. 6, No. 1 ©

Journal

Studies in American NaturalismUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Feb 24, 2011

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