In the early 1890s, at a fashionable summer resort somewhere on the East Coast, Mr. Twelvemough (a popular author of light fiction) plays host to a vistor from the faraway island of Altruria, come to experience first-hand everyday life in the country which prides itself as the spearhead of democracy and equality.
the Altrurian, with a simplicity so fine that it was a long time before I could believe it quite real, "that I shall approach it so much more intelligently with a little instruction from you. You say that your social divisions are voluntary. But do I understand that those who serve among you do not wish to do so?"
"Well, I don't suppose they would serve if they could help it," I replied.
"Surely," said the Altrurian, with a look of horror, "you don't mean that they are slaves."
"Oh no! oh no!" I said; "the war put an end to that. We are all free now, black and white."
"But if they do not wish to serve, and are not held in peculiar honor for serving--"
"I see that my word 'voluntary' has misled you," I put in. "It isn't the word exactly. The divisions among us are rather a process of natural selection. You will see, as you get better acquainted with the workings of our institutions, that there are no arbitrary distinctions here but the fitness of the work for the man and the