0 / 0
How and Why the Nations are Assembled—The Social Elements Preparing for the Fire—The Heaping of Treasures—The Increase of Poverty—Social Friction Nearing Combustion—A Word from the President of the American Federation of Labor—The Rich sometimes too Severely Condemned—Selfishness and Liberty in Combination—Independence as Viewed by the Rich and by the Poor—Why Present Conditions Cannot Continue—Machinery an Important Factor in Preparing for the Great Fire—Female Competition—Labor's View of the Situation, Reasonable and Unreasonable—The Law of Supply and Demand Inexorable upon all—The Outlook for Foreign Industrial Competition appalling—Mr. Justin McCarthy's Fears for England—Kier Hardie, M.P., on the Labor Outlook in England—Hon. Jos. Chamberlain's Prophetic Words to British Workmen—National Aggression as Related to Industrial Interests—Herr Liebknecht on the Social and Industrial War in Germany—Resolutions of the International Trades Union Congress—Giants in These Days—List of Trusts and Combines—Barbaric Slavery vs. Civilized Bondage—The Masses Between the Upper and Nether Millstones—The Conditions Universal and Beyond Human Power to Regulate.
"WAIT ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy [wrath]. For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent." Zeph. 3:8,9
The gathering of the nations in these last days, in fulfilment of the above prophecy, is very notable. Modern discovery and invention have indeed made the remotest ends of the earth neighbors to each other. Travel, mailing facilities, the telegraph, the telephone, commerce, the multiplication of books and newspapers, etc., have brought all the world to a considerable extent into a community of thought and action hitherto unknown. This condition of things has already made necessary international laws and regulations that each of the nations must respect. Their representatives meet in Councils, and each nation has in every other nation its ministers or representatives. International Exhibitions have also been called forth as results of this neighboring of nations. There can no more be that exclusiveness on the part of any nation which would bar every other nation from its ports. The gates of all are necessarily thrown open, and must remain so; and even the barriers of diverse languages are being easily surmounted.
The civilized peoples are no longer strangers in any part of the earth. Their splendid sea equipments carry their business representatives, their political envoys and their curious pleasure-seekers to the remotest quarters with ease and comfort. Magnificent railway coaches introduce them to the interior lands, and they return home laden with information, and with new ideas, and awakened to new projects and enterprises. Even the dull heathen nations are arousing themselves from the dreams of centuries and looking with wonder and amazement at their visitors from abroad and learning of their marvelous achievements. And they in turn are now sending their representatives abroad that they may profit by their new acquaintances.
In the days of Solomon it was thought a marvelous thing that the queen of Sheba should come about five hundred miles to hear the wisdom and behold the grandeur of Solomon; [D271] but now numbers even of the untitled travel over the whole world, a great portion of which was then unknown, to see its accumulated wealth and to learn of its progress; and the circuit of the world can now be made with comfort and even in luxury in less than eighty days.
Truly, the nations are "assembled" in a manner not expected, yet in the only manner in which they could be assembled; viz., in common interest and activity; but alas! not in brotherly love, for selfishness marks every step of this progress. The spirit of enterprise, of which selfishness is the motive power, has prompted the construction of the railways, the steamships, the telegraphs, the cables, the telephones; selfishness regulates the commerce and the international comity, and every other energy and enterprise, except the preaching of the gospel and the establishment of benevolent institutions: and even in these it is to be feared that much that is done is inspired by motives other than pure love for God and humanity. Selfishness has gathered the nations and has been steadily preparing them for the predicted, and now fast approaching, retribution—anarchy—which is so graphically described as the "fire of God's jealousy" or anger, which is about to consume utterly the present social order—the world that now is. (2 Pet. 3:7) Yet this is speaking only from the human standpoint; for the Prophet ascribes this gathering of the nations to God. But both are true; for while man is permitted the exercise of his free agency, God, by his overruling providence, is shaping human affairs for the accomplishment of his own wise purposes. And therefore, while men and their works and ways are the agents and agencies, God is the great Commander who now gathers the nations and assembles the kingdoms from one end of the earth to the other, preparatory to the transfer of earth's dominion to him "whose right it is," Immanuel.
The Prophet tells us why the Lord thus gathers the nations, saying—"That I may pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for the whole earth [the entire social fabric] shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy." This message would bring us sorrow and anguish only, were it not for the assurance that the results shall work good to the world, overthrowing the reign of selfishness and establishing, through Christ's Millennial Kingdom, the reign of righteousness referred to in the words of the prophet—" Then will I turn unto the people a pure language [Their communications with each other shall no longer be selfish, but pure, truthful and loving, to the intent] that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve him with one consent."
The "gathering of the nations" will not only contribute to the severity of the judgment, but it will also make it impossible for any to escape it; and it will thus make the great tribulation a short, as well as a decisive, conflict, as it is written: "A short work will the Lord make upon the earth." Rom. 9:28; Isa. 28:22
Looking about us we see the "elements" preparing for the fire of this day—the fire of God's wrath. Selfishness, knowledge, wealth, ambition, hope, discontent, fear and despair are the ingredients whose friction will shortly set aflame the angry passions of the world and cause its various social "elements" to melt in the fervent heat. Looking out over the world, note what changes have taken place in respect to these passions during the past century, and especially during the past forty years. The satisfied contentment of the past is gone from all classes—rich and poor, male and female, educated and ignorant. All are dissatisfied. All are selfishly and increasingly grasping for "rights" or bemoaning [D273] "wrongs." True, there are wrongs, grievous wrongs, which should be righted, and rights that should be enjoyed and respected; but the tendency of our time, with its increase of knowledge and independence, is to look only at the side of questions closest to self-interest, and to fail to appreciate the opposite side. The effect foretold by the prophets will be ultimately to set every man's hand against his neighbor, which will be the immediate cause of the great final catastrophe. God's Word and providence and the lessons of the past are forgotten under the strong convictions of personal rights, etc., which hinder people of every class from choosing the wiser, moderate course, which they cannot even see because selfishness blinds them to everything out of accord with their own prejudices. Each class fails to consider with impartiality the welfare and rights of the other. The golden rule is generally ignored; and the lack of wisdom as well as the injustice of this course will soon be made manifest to all classes, for all classes will suffer terribly in this trouble. But the rich, the Scriptures inform us, will suffer most.
While the rich are diligently heaping up fabulous treasure for these last days, tearing down their storehouses and building greater, and saying to themselves and their posterity, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; eat, drink and be merry," God, through the prophets, is saying, "Thou fool! this night thy soul shall be required of thee. Then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?" Luke 12:15-20
Yes, the dark night predicted (Isa. 21:12; 28:12,13,21,22; John 9:4) is fast approaching; and, as a snare, it shall overtake the whole world. Then, indeed, whose shall these hoarded treasures be, when, in the distress of the hour, "they shall cast their silver in the streets and their gold shall be removed?" "Their silver and their gold shall not be able [D274] to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord:...because it is the stumbling block of their iniquity." Ezek. 7:19
It is evident that we are in a time pre-eminent above all others for the accumulation of wealth, and for "wanton" or extravagant living on the part of the rich. (James 5:3,5) Let us hear some testimony from current literature. If the point is conclusively proved, it becomes another evidence that we are in the "last days" of the present dispensation and nearing the great trouble which shall eventually wreck the present order of the world and usher in the new order of things under the Kingdom of God.
Note this statement by one of the best informed men in the world. This fact, so difficult for us to comprehend—that more wealth has been produced and accumulated during the past fifty years than during the previous nineteen centuries—is nevertheless shown by statistics to be a very conservative estimate, and the new conditions thus produced are destined to play an important part in the readjustment of the social order of the world now impending.
"The twenty-one railroad magnates who met in New York on Monday, to discuss the question of railroad competition, represented $3,000,000,000 of capital. Men now living can remember when there were not half a dozen millionaires [D275] in the land. There are now numbered 4,600 millionaires and several whose yearly income is said to be over a million.
"There are in New York City, at a conservative calculation, the surprising number of 1,157 individuals and estates that are each worth $1,000,000. There are in Brooklyn 162 individuals and estates each worth at least $1,000,000. In the two cities there are then 1,319 millionaires, but many of these are worth much more than $1,000,000—they are multi-millionaires, and the nature of these great fortunes is different, and they therefore yield different incomes. The rates of interest which some of the more conspicuous ones draw are reckoned in round numbers, thus: John D. Rockefeller's 6 per cent; William Waldorf Astor's, 7 per cent; Jay Gould's estate, which, being wrapped up in corporations, is still practically undivided, 4 per cent; Cornelius Vanderbilt's, 5 per cent and William K. Vanderbilt's, 5 per cent.
William Waldorf Astor.................$8,900,000 $23,277
John D. Rockefeller................... 7,611,250 20,853
Jay Gould's Estate.................... 4,040,000 11,068
Cornelius Vanderbilt.................. 4,048,000 11,090
William K. Vanderbilt................. 3,795,000 10,397
The above is evidently a conservative estimate, for even sixteen years ago it was noted that Mr. Rockefeller's quarterly dividend on Standard Oil Company's stock, of which he is one of the principal holders, was represented by a check for four millions of dollars; and the same holdings today yield a far greater income.
"One of the greatest dangers which now menace the stability of American institutions is the increase of individual millionaires, and the consequent concentration of property and money in single hands. A recent article in a prominent paper of New York State gives figures which must serve to draw general attention to the evolution of this difficulty. The following are said to be the nine greatest fortunes in the United States:
William Waldorf Astor.............................$150,000,000
Jay Gould......................................... 100,000,000
John D. Rockefeller............................... 90,000,000
Cornelius Vanderbilt.............................. 90,000,000
William K. Vanderbilt............................. 80,000,000
Henry M. Flagler.................................. 60,000,000
John L. Blair..................................... 50,000,000
Russell Sage...................................... 50,000,000
Collis P. Huntington.............................. 50,000,000
Rockefeller............................... 5,481,000 16,003
Gould..................................... 4,040,000 11,068
Vanderbilt, C. ........................... 4,554,000 12,477
Vanderbilt, W. K. ........................ 4,048,000 11,090
Flagler................................... 3,036,000 8,318
Blair..................................... 3,045,000 8,342
Sage...................................... 3,045,000 8,342
Huntington................................ 1,510,000 4,137
"Nearly all these men live in a comparatively simple style, and it is obviously impossible for them to spend more than a portion of their immense daily and yearly revenues. The surplus consequently becomes capital, and helps to build still higher the fortunes of these individuals. Now the Vanderbilt family possess the following immense sums:
William K. Vanderbilt......................... 80,000,000
Frederick W. Vanderbilt....................... 17,000,000
George W. Vanderbilt.......................... 15,000,000
Mrs. Elliot F. Sheppard....................... 13,000,000
Mrs. William D. Sloane........................ 13,000,000
Mrs. Hamilton McK. Twombly.................... 13,000,000
Mrs. W. Seward Webb........................... 13,000,000
John D. Rockefeller...........................$90,000,000
Henry M. Flagler.............................. 60,000,000
William Rockefeller........................... 40,000,000
Benjamin Brewster............................. 25,000,000
Henry H. Rogers............................... 25,000,000
Oliver H. Payne (Cleveland)................... 25,000,000
Wm. G. Warden (Philadelphia).................. 25,000,000
Chas. Pratt estate (Brooklyn)................. 25,000,000
John D. Archbold.............................. 10,000,000
"It took just twenty years to combine this wealth in the hands of eight or nine men. Here, then, is the danger. In the hands of Gould, the Vanderbilts and Huntington are the great railroads of the United States. In the possession of Sage, the Astors and others, rest great blocks of New York land, which are constantly increasing in value. United and by natural accumulation, the fortunes of these nine families would amount in twenty-five years to $2,754,000,000. William Waldorf Astor himself, by pure force of accumulation, will probably be worth a thousand millions before he dies; and this money, like that of the Vanderbilts, will descend in his family as in others, and create an aristocracy of wealth extremely dangerous to the commonwealth, and forming a curious commentary upon that aristocracy of birth or talent which Americans consider to be so injurious in Great Britain.
Leland Stanford................................ 30,000,000
Mrs. Hetty Green............................... 30,000,000
Philip D. Armour............................... 30,000,000
Edward F. Searles.............................. 25,000,000
J. Pierpont Morgan............................. 25,000,000
Charles Crocker estate......................... 25,000,000
Darius O. Mills................................ 25,000,000
Andrew Carnegie................................ 25,000,000
E. S. Higgins estate........................... 20,000,000
George M. Pullman.............................. 20,000,000
"Thus we see capital in almost inconceivable sums being vested in a few, and necessarily taken from [the opportunity of] the many. There is no power in man to peaceably settle this vexed question. It will go on from bad to worse."
The Editor of the Review of Reviews gives what he terms "a few excerpts from a most instructive and entertaining paper, the one fault of which is its optimistic view of the plutocratic octopus," in these words:
"An American who writes from intimate personal knowledge, but who prefers to remain anonymous, tells in Cornhill Magazine with much sympathy the story of several of the millionaires of the giant Republic. He claims that even if the four thousand millionaires own among them forty billion dollars out of the seventy-six billions which form the total national wealth, still the balance leaves every citizen $500 per head as against $330 per head forty-five years ago. He argues that millionaires have grown by making other classes not poorer but richer.
"'Commodore Vanderbilt, who made the first Vanderbilt millions, was born just a century ago. His capital was the traditional bare feet, empty pocket and belief in his luck—the foundation of so many American fortunes. Hard work, from six years of age to sixteen, furnished him with a second and more tangible capital, namely, one hundred dollars in cash. This money he invested in a small boat; and with that boat he opened a business of his own—the transportation of vegetables to New York. At twenty years of age he married, and man and wife both turned money-makers. He ran his boat. She kept a hotel. Three years later he was worth ten thousand dollars. After that his money came rapidly—so rapidly that when the civil war broke out, the boy, who had started with one boat, worth one hundred dollars, was able to present to the nation one of his boats, value eight hundred thousand dollars, and yet feel easy about his finances and his fleet. At seventy years of age he was credited with a fortune of seventy millions.
"'The Astor fortune owes its existence to the brains of one man and the natural growth of a great nation, John Jacob Astor being the only man in four generations who was a real money-maker. The money he made, as he made it, was invested in New York City property; the amount of such property is limited, as the city stands upon an island. Consequently the growth of New York City, which was due to the growth of the Republic, made this small fortune of the eighteenth century the largest American fortune of the nineteenth century. The first and last Astor worthy of study as a master of millions was therefore John Jacob Astor who, tiring of his work as helper in his father's butcher shop in Waldorf, went, about one hundred and ten years ago, to try his luck in the new world. On the ship he really, in one sense, made his whole fortune. He met an old fur-trader who posted him in the tricks of Indian fur-trading. This trade he took up and made money at. Then he married Sarah Todd, a shrewd, energetic young woman. Sarah and John Jacob dropped into the homely habit of passing all their evenings in their shop sorting pelts....In fifteen years John Jacob and Sarah his wife had accumulated twenty-five [D280] hundred thousand dollars....A lucky speculation in United States bonds, then very low in price, doubled John Jacob's fortune; and this wealth all went into real estate, where it has since remained.
"'Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins and Collis P. Huntington went to California in the gold fever of 1849. When the trans-continental railway was mooted these four 'saw millions in it,' and contracted to make the Union Pacific. The four men, penniless in 1850, are today credited with a combined fortune of $200,000,000.
"'One of them, Leland Stanford, had designed to found a family; but ten years ago his only son died, and he then decided to establish a university in memory of that son. And he did it in princely fashion, for while yet 'in the flesh' he 'deeded' to trustees three farms containing 86,000 acres, and, owing to their splendid vineyards, worth $6,000,000. To this he added $14,000,000 worth of securities, and at his death left the university a legacy of $2,500,000—a total gift by one man, to one institution of learning of $22,500,000, which is said to be a 'world's record.' His wife has announced her intention to leave her fortune, some $10,000,000, to the university.'
"'Thirty years ago five young men, most of them living in the small city of Cleveland (State of Ohio), and all comparatively poor (probably the whole party could not boast of $50,000), saw monetary possibilities in petroleum. In the emphatic language of the old river pilot, 'They went for it thar and then,' and they got it. Today that same party of five men is worth $600,000,000....John D. Rockefeller, the brain and 'nerve' of this great 'trust,' is a ruddy-faced man with eye so mild and manner so genial that it is very hard to call him a 'grasping monopolist.' His 'hobby' now is education, and he rides this hobby in robust, manly fashion. He has taken the University of Chicago under his wing, and already the sum of seven million dollars has passed [D281] from his pockets to the treasury of the new seat of learning in the second city of the Republic.'"
In an article in the Forum Mr. Thomas G. Shearman, a New York statistician, gave the names of seventy Americans whose aggregate wealth is $2,700,000,000, an average of $38,500,000 each; and declares that a list of ten persons could be made whose wealth would average $100,000,000 each; and another list of one hundred persons whose wealth would average $25,000,000 each; and that "the average annual income of the richest hundred Americans cannot be less [each] than $1,200,000, and probably exceeds $1,500,000."
"If one hundred workmen could earn each $1,000 a year, they would have to work twelve hundred or fifteen hundred years to earn as much as the annual income of these one hundred richest Americans. And if a workman could earn $100 a day he would have to work until he would be five hundred and forty-seven years old, and never take a day off, before he could earn as much as some Americans are worth."
The following table compares the wealth of the four richest nations of the world in 1830 and 1893; and shows how riches are being "heaped together" nationally in these "last days" of this age of almost fabulous accumulation.
Great Britain's total wealth $16,890,000,000 $50,000,000,000
France's total wealth 10,645,000,000 40,000,000,000
Germany's total wealth 10,700,000,000 35,000,000,000
United States' total wealth 5,000,000,000 72,000,000,000
That the reader may have an idea as to how statisticians arrive at their conclusions on so vast a subject, we give the following as an approximate classified estimate of the wealth of the United States:
Real estate in cities and towns.................$15,500,000,000
Real estate other than of cities and towns...... 12,500,000,000
Personal property (not hereafter specified)..... 8,200,000,000
Railroads and their equipments.................. 8,000,000,000
Capital invested in manufactures................ 5,300,000,000
Manufactured goods.............................. 5,000,000,000
Productions (including wool).................... 3,500,000,000
Property owned and money invested in
foreign countries............................. 3,100,000,000
arsenals, warships, etc....................... 3,000,000,000
Domestic animals on farms....................... 2,480,000,000
Domestic animals in cities and towns............ 1,700,000,000
Money, foreign and domestic coin,
bank notes, etc. ............................... 2,130,000,000
Public lands (at $1.25 per acre)................ 1,000,000,000
Mineral products (all descriptions)............. 590,000,000
This heaping together of treasures for the last days, here noted, relates specially to these United States, but the same is true of the whole civilized world. Great Britain is per capita richer than the United States—the richest nation on earth. And even in China and Japan there are millionaires of recent development. The defeat of China in 1894 by the Japanese is charged as chiefly due to the avarice of the government officers, who are said to have supplied inferior and even imitation cannon and cannon-balls, although paid a large price for the genuine.
Of course only a minority of those who seek wealth find it. The rush and strife for wealth is not always rewarded. The bane of selfishness extends far beyond the successful, and, as the Apostle said, "They that will be rich [who are determined to be rich at all hazards] fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful desires which drown men in destruction and perdition; for the love of money [wealth] is a root of all evil." (1 Tim. 6:9,10) The majority, inexperienced, take the risks and find disappointment and loss: the few, worldly-wise and keen, take few risks and reap most of the gains. Thus, for instance, the "South-African gold fever" which once spread over Great Britain, France and Germany, actually transferred from the pockets and bank accounts of the middle class to those of the wealthy capitalists and bankers, who take little risk, hundreds of millions of dollars. The result was undoubtedly a great loss to said middle class so anxious for sudden riches that they risk their all. The tendency of this is to make many of this usually conservative class discontented and ready in a few years for any Socialistic scheme which promises to be to their advantage.
But is it true that there are poor and needy people in this land of plenty, in which so many are heaping together such fabulous wealth? Is it not his or her own fault if any healthy man or woman cannot get along comfortably? Would it not tend to cultivate pauperism and dependence if the "well-to-do" should undertake to paddle the canoes of the poorer classes? Thus the subject is regarded by many of the wealthy, who in many instances were poor themselves twenty-five years ago, and who remember that then all who were able and willing to work could find plenty to do. They do not realize what great changes have taken place since [D284] then, and that while their fortunes have improved wonderfully, the condition of the masses has retrograded, especially during the last seven years. True, wages, at the present moment, are generally fair, being maintained by Unions, etc.; but many cannot obtain work, while many of those who have situations have work only about half time, and often less, and are barely able by strict economy to live decently and honestly.
When special depressions come, as in 1893-6, many of these out of work are thrown upon the charity of their friends who are illy able to sustain this additional pressure; and those who have no friends are forced upon public charities, which at such times are wholly inadequate.
The depression of 1893 passed like a wave over the whole world, and its heavy pressure is still widely felt; though to some a breathing spell of recuperation has come. But, as the Scriptures point out, this trouble comes in waves or spasms—"as travail upon a woman" (1 Thess. 5:3)—and each succeeding spasm will probably be more severe—until the final one. The wealthy and comfortable often find it difficult to realize the destitution of the poorest class, which is rapidly becoming more numerous. The fact is that even among those of the middle and wealthy classes who do think and feel for the distresses of the very poor there is the realization of the utter impossibility of so changing the present social order as to bring any permanent relief to them; and so each does what little he thinks to be his ability and duty for those nearest to him, and tries to discredit or forget the reports of misery which reach his eyes and ears.
The following extracts from the daily press will call to mind the conditions which obtained in 1893, and which before very long will probably be duplicated with interest. The California Advocate said:
"The assembling of the unemployed masses in our great cities in multitudinous thousands is a most gruesome spectacle, and their piteous cry for work or bread is being heard all over the land. It is the old unsolved problem of poverty, intensified by the unprecedented depression of business. Involuntary idleness is a constantly growing evil coincident with civilization. It is the dark shadow that steadily creeps after civilization, increasing in dimensions and intensity as civilization advances. Things are certainly in an abnormal condition when men are willing to work, want to work, and yet cannot find work to do, while their very life depends upon work. There is no truth in the old saw that 'the world owes every man a living.' But it is true that the world owes every man a chance to earn his living. Many theories have been advanced and many efforts have been made to secure inalienable 'right to work' to every one willing to work; but all such attempts have hitherto ended in gloomy failure. He will indeed be a benefactor to mankind who shall successfully solve the problem how to secure to every willing worker some work to do, and thus rid mankind of the curse of involuntary idleness."
Another account describes how, in Chicago, a crowd of over four hundred unemployed men marched through the downtown streets, headed by one of their number carrying a pasteboard sign on which was scrawled the grim legend, "We Want Work." The next day they marched with many banners bearing the following inscriptions: "Live and Let Live," "We Want a Chance to Support Our Families." "Work or Bread," etc. An army of unemployed marched through San Francisco with banners on which were inscribed, "Thousands of Houses to Rent, and Thousands of People Homeless," "Hungry and Destitute," "Driven by the Lash of Hunger to Beg," "Get Off Our Backs and We Will Help Ourselves," etc.
"NEWARK, N.J., August 21—Unemployed workingmen held a large parade today. At the head of the line marched a man with a large black flag, upon which in white letters were the words: 'Signs of the Times—I Am Starving Because He is Fat.' Beneath was a picture of a large, well-fed man with a high hat, and beside him a starving workman."
"The stories of actual distress, and even of starvation, are multiplying painfully throughout England, and the cessation of industries and the derangement of railways are assuming proportions of grave national calamity....As might be expected, the real cause consists in the huge royalties that lessees have to pay for the ground to the landlords from whom they lease the mines. A considerable number of millionaires, whose coal royalties hang like millstones around the neck of the mining industries, are also prominent peers, and angry public consciousness puts the two things together with a snap....Radical papers are compiling portentous lists of lords not unlike the lists of trusts in America, showing in their figures their monstrous levies on the earnings of the property of the country.
"The cry for bread goes up from the city. It is deeper, hoarser, broader than it has ever been. It comes from gnawing stomachs and weakened frames. It comes from men who tramp the streets searching for work. It comes from women sitting hopeless in bare rooms. It comes from children.
"In the city of New York the poor have reached straits of destitution that have never before been known. Probably no living person understands how awful is the suffering, how terrible the poverty. No one person can see it all. No one's imagination can grasp it.
"Few persons who will read this can understand what it means to be without food. It is one of those things so frightful that it cannot be brought home to them. They say, 'Surely people can get something to eat somewhere, enough to support life; they can go to their friends.' For the stricken [D287] ones there is no 'somewhere.' Their friends are as destitute as themselves. There are men so weakened from lack of food that they cannot work if work is offered to them."
"How is this? We have so much to eat that the farmers are complaining that they can get nothing for it. We have so much to wear that cotton and woolen mills are closing down because there is nobody to buy their products. We have so much coal that the railroads that carry it are going into the hands of receivers. We have so many houses that the builders are out of work. All the necessities and comforts of life are as plentiful as ever they were in the most prosperous years of our history. When the country has enough food, clothing, fuel and shelter for everybody, why are times hard? Evidently nature is not to blame. Who or what, then, is?
"The problem of the unemployed is one of the most serious that face the United States. According to the statistics collected by Bradstreet's there were at the opening of the year something over 801,000 wage-earners out of employment in the first 119 cities of the United States, and the number of persons dependent upon these for support was over 2,000,000. If the 119 cities gave a fair average for the country the total of wage-earners wanting employment on the first of the year would run above 4,000,000 persons, representing a dependent population of 10,000,000. As the unemployed seek the cities it is safe to deduct one-fourth from these figures. But even with this deduction the number of wage-workers out of employment is an enormous, heart-rending total.
"The hard road of poverty whose end is pauperism has been traveled so long in Europe that the authorities of the Old World know better how to deal with it than the comparatively prosperous community on this side of the water. The wages of Europe are so low that in many States the end of life must be the poorhouse. No amount of industry and frugality can enable the laborer to lay by a competence for old age. The margin between income and expenses is so small that a few days' sickness or lack of employment reduces [D288] the laborer to destitution. Government there has been forced to deal with it more or less scientifically instead of in the happy-go-lucky method familiar to America, where tramps flourish without work and the self-respecting man who falls into need must suffer hunger."
"The Dead Sea of want is enlarging its borders in every populous centre. The mutterings of angry discontent grow more ominous with each succeeding year. Justice denied the weak through the power of avarice has brought us face to face with a formidable crisis which may yet be averted if we have the wisdom to be just and humane; but the problem cannot longer be sneered at as inconsequential. It is no longer local; it affects and threatens the entire body politic. A few years ago one of the most eminent divines in America declared that there was no poverty to speak of in this Republic. Today no thoughtful person denies that this problem is of great magnitude. A short time since I employed a gentleman in New York to personally investigate the court records of the city that he might ascertain the exact number of warrants for evictions issued in twelve months. What was the result? The records showed the appalling fact that during the twelve months ending September 1, 1892, twenty-nine thousand seven hundred and twenty warrants for eviction were issued in the city of New York.
"In a paper in the Forum of December, 1892, by Mr. Jacob Riis, on the special needs of the poor in New York, he says: 'For many years it has been true of New York that one-tenth of all who die in this great and wealthy city are buried in the pottersfield. Of the 382,530 interments recorded in the past decade, 37,966 were in the pottersfield,' and Mr. Riis proceeds to hint at the fact known to all students of social conditions who personally investigate poverty in the great cities, that this pottersfield gauge, terribly significant though it be, is no adequate measure by which to estimate the poverty problem of a great city. On this point he continues:
"'Those who have had any personal experience with the poor, and know with what agony of fear they struggle against this crowning misery, how they plan and plot and [D289] pinch for the poor privilege of being laid to rest in a grave that is theirs to keep, though in life they never owned a shed to call their own, will agree with me that it is putting it low to assume that where one falls, in spite of it all, into this dread trench, at least two or three must be hovering on the edge of it. And with this estimate of from twenty to thirty per cent of our population always struggling to keep the wolf from the door, with the issue in grievous doubt, all the known, if scattered, facts of charity management in New York agree well enough.'
"In 1890 there were two hundred and thirty-nine suicides officially reported in New York City. The court records are burdened as never before with cases of attempted self-slaughter. 'You,' said Recorder Smyth, addressing a poor creature who had sought death by leaping into the East River, 'are the second case of attempted suicide that has been up in this court this morning; and,' he continued, 'I have never known so many attempted suicides as during the past few months.'
"The night is slowly but surely settling around hundreds and thousands of our people, the night of poverty and despair. They are conscious of its approach but feel powerless to check its advance. 'Rents get higher and work cheaper every year, and what can we do about it?' said a laborer recently while talking about the outlook. 'I do not see any way out of it,' he added bitterly, and it must be confessed that the outlook is dark if no radical economic changes are at hand, for the supply is yearly increasing far more rapidly than the demand for labor. 'Ten women for every place no matter how poor,' is the dispassionate statement of an official who has recently made the question of female labor a special study. 'Hundreds of girls,' continues this writer, 'wreck their future every year and destroy their health in the stuffy, ill-ventilated stores and shops, and yet scores of recruits arrive from the country and small towns every week to fill the places vacated.' And let us not imagine that these conditions are peculiar to New York. What is true of the metropolis is to a certain extent true of every great city in America. Within cannon-shot of Beacon Hill, Boston, where proudly rises the golden dome of the Capitol, are [D290] hundreds of families slowly starving and stifling; families who are bravely battling for life's barest necessities, while year by year the conditions are becoming more hopeless, the struggle for bread fiercer, and the outlook more dismal. In conversation with one of these toilers, he said, with a certain pathos and dejection, which indicated hopelessness or perhaps a deadened perception which prevented his fully grasping the grim import of his words, 'I once heard of a man who was put in an iron cage by a tyrant, and every day he found the walls had come closer and closer to him. At last the walls came so close together that every day they squeezed out a part of his life, and somehow,' he said, 'it seems to me that we are just like that man, and when I see the little boxes carried out every day, I sometimes say to my wife, There's a little more life squeezed out; some day we will go, too.'
"I recently visited more than a score of tenement houses where life was battling with death; where, with a patient heroism far grander than deeds of daring won amid the exulting shouts of the battlefield, mothers and daughters were ceaselessly plying the needle. In several homes I noticed bedridden invalids whose sunken eyes and emaciated faces told plainly the story of months, and perhaps years, of slow starvation amid the squalor, the sickening odor, and the almost universal filth of the social cellar. Here one becomes painfully conscious of specters of hunger and fear ever present. A lifelong dread presses upon the hearts of these exiles with crushing weight. The landlord, standing with a writ of dispossession, is continually before their mind's eye. Dread of sickness haunts every waking moment, for to them sickness means inability to provide the scant nourishment which life demands. The despair of the probable future not infrequently torments their rest. Such is the common lot of the patient toiler in the slums of our great cities today. On most of their faces one notes an expression of gloomy sadness and dumb resignation.
"Sometimes a fitful light flashes from cavernous sockets, a baleful gleam suggesting smouldering fires fed by an ever-present consciousness of wrongs endured. They feel in a dumb way that the lot of the beast of the field is happier far than their fate. Even though they struggle from dawn far [D291] into the night for bread and a wretched room, they know that the window of hope is closing for them in the great throbbing centers of Christendom. Sad, indeed, is the thought that, at the present time, when our land is decked as never before with stately temples dedicated to the great Nazarene, who devoted his life to a ministry among the poor, degraded and outcast, we find the tide of misery rising; we find uninvited poverty becoming the inevitable fate of added thousands of lives every year. Never was the altruistic sentiment more generally upon the lips of man. Never has the human heart yearned as now for a true manifestation of human brotherhood. Never has the whole civilized world been so profoundly moved by the persistent dream of the ages—the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. And yet, strange anomaly! The cry of innocence, of outraged justice, the cry of the millions under the wheel, rises today from every civilized land as never before. The voice of Russia mingles with the cry of Ireland. Outcast London joins with the exiles of all great continental and American cities in one mighty, earth-thrilling demand for justice.
"In London alone there are more than three hundred thousand persons on the very brink of the abyss, whose every heart-beat thrills with fear, whose life-long nightmare is the dread that the little den they call home may be taken from them. Beneath them, at the door of starvation, are over two hundred thousand lives; still further down we find three hundred thousand in the stratum of the starving, in the realm where hunger gnaws night and day, where every second of every minute, of every hour of every day, is crowded with agony. Below the starving are the homeless—they who have nothing with which to procure a lodging even in the worst quarters; they who sleep without shelter the year round, hundreds of whom may be found any night on the cold stone slabs along the Thames embankment. Some have a newspaper between themselves and the damp stones, but the majority do not even enjoy this luxury! This army of absolutely homeless in London numbers thirty-three thousand."
However it may be explained to the poor that the wealthy never were so charitable as now, that society has more ample provision now than ever before for the poor, the blind, the sick and the helpless, and that immense revenues are raised annually by taxation, for the maintenance of these benefactions, this will surely not satisfy the workingman. As a self-respecting, intelligent citizen it is not alms that he wants; he has no desire to avail himself of the privileges of the poorhouse or when sick to become a charity patient in a hospital; but he does want a chance honestly and decently to earn his bread by the sweat of his face and with the dignity of an honest toiler to maintain his family. But, while he sees himself and his neighbor workmen more dependent than ever upon favor and influence to get and keep a job of work, and the small storekeepers, small builders and small manufacturers struggling harder than ever for an honest living, he reads of the prosperity of the rich, the growing number of millionaires, the combines of capital to control the various industries—the copper business, the steel business, the glass business, the oil business, the match business, the paper business, the coal business, the paint business, the cutlery business, the telegraph business, and every other business. He sees also that these combinations control the machinery of the world, and that thus, while his labor is depreciating by reason of competition, goods and necessities may be advanced, or at least hindered from declining in proportion to the reduced cost of labor represented in improved machinery displacing human brain and muscle.
Under such circumstances can we wonder that at the thirteenth annual convention of the Federation of Labor at Chicago, the Vice President of the Trades Assembly welcomed [D293] the visitors in the following sarcastic language? He said:
"We would wish to bid you welcome to a prosperous city, but truth will not justify the assertion. Things are here as they are, but not as they should be. We bid you welcome in the name of a hundred monopolists, and of fifty thousand tramps, here where mammon holds high carnival in palaces, while mothers are heartbroken, children are starving, and men are looking in vain for work. We bid you welcome in the name of a hundred thousand idle men, in the name of those edifices dedicated to the glory of God, but whose doors are closed at night to the starving and poor; in the name of the ministers who fatten from the vineyards of God, forgetting that God's children are hungry and have no place to lay their heads; in the name of the pillars of the sweating system, of the millionaires and deacons, whose souls are endangered by their appetite for gold; in the name of the wage-workers who sweat blood which is coined into golden ducats; in the name of the insane asylums and poorhouses, packed by people crazed by care in this land of plenty.
"We will show you exhibits of Chicago that were not shown at the fair ground—of her greatness and her weakness. Tonight we will show you hundreds of men lying on the rough stones in the corridors of this very building—no home, no food—men able and willing to work, but for whom there is no work. It is a time for alarm—alarm for the continuation of a government whose sovereign rights are delivered to railway magnates, coal barons and speculators; alarm for the continuation of a federal government whose financial policies are manufactured in Wall Street at the dictation of money barons of Europe. We expect you to take measures to utilize the franchise and to hurl from power the unfaithful servants of the people who are responsible for existing conditions."
This speaker no doubt errs greatly in supposing that a change of office holders or of parties would cure existing evils; but it surely would be vain to tell him or any other sane man that there is nothing the matter with the social [D294] arrangement which makes possible such wide extremes of wealth and poverty. However much people may differ as to the cause and the cure, all are agreed that there is a malady. Some are fruitlessly seeking remedies in wrong directions, and many, alas! do not want that a remedy shall be found; not until they, at least, have had a chance to profit by present conditions.
"The labor movement is born of hunger—hunger for food, for shelter, warmth, clothing and pleasure. In the movement of humanity toward happiness each individual seeks his ideal, often with stoical disregard of others. The industrial system rests upon the devil's iron rule of every man for himself. Is it an unexplainable phenomenon that those who suffer most under this rule of selfishness and greed should organize for the overthrow of the devil's system of government?"
The newspapers abound with descriptions of fashionable weddings, balls and banquets at which the so-called "upper crust" of society appear in costly robes and rare jewels. One lady at a ball in Paris, recently, it is said, wore $1,600,000 worth of diamonds. The New York World in August 1896 gave a picture of an American lady arrayed in diamonds and other jewels valued at $1,000,000; and she does not belong to the very uppermost social strata either. The daily press tell of the lavish expenditure of thousands of dollars in providing these banquets—for choice wines, floral decorations, etc. They tell of the palaces erected for the rich, many of them costing $50,000, and some as much as $1,500,000. They tell of "Dog Socials" at which brutes are fed on dainties at great expense, tended by their "nurses." They tell of $10,000 paid for a dessert service, $6,000 for two artistic flower-jars, $50,000 for two rose-colored vases. They tell that an English duke paid $350,000 for a horse. They [D295] tell how a Boston woman buried her husband in a coffin costing $50,000. They tell that another "lady" expended $5,000 in burying a pet poodle dog. They tell that New York millionaires pay as high as $800,000 for a single yacht.
Can we wonder that many are envious, and some angry and embittered, when they contrast such wastefulness with their own family's penury, or at least enforced economy? Knowing that not many are "new creatures" who set their affections on things above and not on earthly things, and who have learned that "godliness with contentment is great gain" while they wait until the Lord shall vindicate their cause, we cannot wonder that such matters awaken in the hearts of the masses feelings of envy, hatred, malice, strife; and these feelings will ripen into open revolt which will ultimately work all the works of the flesh and the devil, during the great trouble-time impending.
"Behold, this was the iniquity of...Sodom—pride, fulness of bread and abundance of idleness was in her... neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy," etc. Ezek. 16:49,50
"The lavish luxury and dazzling extravagance displayed by the wealthy Greeks and Romans of 'ye olden times' is a matter of history. Such reckless display is beginning to make its appearance in what is called fashionable society in this country. One of our exchanges tells of a New York lady who spent $125,000 in a single season in entertaining. The character and value of the entertainments may be judged from the fact that she taught society how...to freeze Roman punch in the heart of crimson and yellow tulips, and how to eat terrapin with gold spoons out of silver canoes. Other entertainers decked their tables with costly roses, while one of 'the four hundred' is said to have spent $50,000 on a single entertainment. Such lavish expenditure to such [D296] poor purpose is sinful and shameful, no matter how large a fortune one may possess."
"One hundred and forty-four social autocrats, headed by an aristocrat, held a great ball. Royalty never eclipsed it. It was intensely exclusive. Wine flowed like water. Beauty lent her charms. Neither Mark Antony nor Cleopatra ever rolled in such gorgeousness. It was a collection of millionaires. The wealth of the world was drained for pearls and diamonds. Necklaces of gems costing $200,000 and downward emblazoned scores of necks. The dance went on amid Aladdin splendors. Joy was unconfined. While it was going on, says a journal, 100,000 starving miners in Pennsylvania were scouring the roads like cattle in search of forage, some of them living on cats, and not a few committing suicide to avoid seeing their children starve. Yet one necklace from the Metropolitan ball would have rescued all these from hunger. It was one of the 'great social events' of a nation called Christian; but what a contrast! And there is no remedy for it. Thus it will be 'till he come.'"
"Till he come?" Nay, rather, "Thus shall it be in the days of the Son of Man," when he has come, while he is gathering his elect to himself, and thus setting up his Kingdom, whose inauguration will be followed by the "dashing" of the present social system to pieces in a great time of trouble and anarchy, preparatory to the establishment of the Kingdom of righteousness. (Rev. 2:26,27; 19:15) As it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be in the days of the Son of Man. As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the [parousia] presence of the Son of Man. Matt. 24:37; Luke 17:26,28
"Mr. W. K. Vanderbilt's huge British steam yacht Valiante has joined Mr. F. W. Vanderbilt's British steam yacht [D297] Conqueror in New York Harbor. The Valiante cost $800,000. This represents the profits on a crop of about 15,000,000 bushels of sixty-cent wheat, or the entire product of at least 8,000 160-acre farms. In other words, 8,000 farmers, representing 40,000 men, women and children, worked through sun and storm to enable Mr. Vanderbilt to have built in a foreign shipyard such a pleasure craft as no sovereign in Europe possesses. The construction of that vessel required the labor of at least 1,000 mechanics for a year. The money she cost, put in circulation among our workmen, would have had a perceptible influence upon the state of times in some quarters."
"Its criminality is not so much in the heartless motive as in its wanton destruction of happiness and life to achieve a selfish purpose. That squandering wealth in ostentation and luxury is a crime becomes very apparent by a close examination of the act. There would be no harm in building a $700,000 stable for his horses, like a Syracuse millionaire, or in placing a $50,000 service on the dinner table, like a New York Astor, if money were as free as air and water; but every dollar represents an average day's labor. Hence the $700,000 stable represents the labor of 1,000 men for two years and four months. It also represents 700 lives; for $1,000 would meet the cost of the first ten years of a child, and the cost of the second ten years would be fully repaid by his labor. The fancy stable, therefore, represents the physical basis of 700 lives, and affirms that the owner values it more highly, or is willing that 700 should die that his vanity might be gratified."
"Not long since a New England clergyman addressed a letter to Mr. Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor, asking him to state why, in his opinion, so many intelligent workingmen do not attend church. In reply Mr. Gompers said that one reason is that the churches are no longer in touch with the hopes and aspirations of workingmen, and are out of sympathy with their [D298] miseries and burdens. The pastors either do not know, he said, or have not the courage to declare from their pulpits, the rights and wrongs of the toiling millions. The organizations found most effective in securing improved conditions have been frowned upon by the church. Laborers have had their attention directed to 'the sweet by and by,' to the utter neglect of the conditions arising from 'the bitter now and now.' The church and the ministry have been the 'apologists and defenders of the wrongs committed against the interests of the people, simply because the perpetrators are the possessors of wealth.' Asked as to the means he would suggest for a reconciliation of the church and the masses, Mr. Gompers recommends 'a complete reversal of the present attitude.' He closes with these words: 'He who fails to sympathize with the movement of labor, he who complacently or indifferently contemplates the awful results of present economic and social conditions, is not only the opponent of the best interests of the human family, but is particeps criminis to all wrongs inflicted upon the men and women of our time, the children of today, the manhood and womanhood of the future.'"
While we thus note public opinion in condemnation of the rich as a class, and while we note also the Lord's condemnation and foretold penalty of this class as a whole, it is but reasonable that God's people should exercise moderation in their judgment or opinions of the rich as individuals. The Lord, whose judgment against the class is so severe, will nevertheless be merciful to them as individuals; and when in his wisdom he has destroyed their idols of silver and gold, and brought down their high looks, and humbled their pride, he will then be gracious to comfort and to heal such as renounce their selfishness and pride. It will be noted also, that we have quoted only the reasonable and moderate expressions of sensible writers and not the extreme and often nonsensical diatribes of anarchists and visionaries.
As an aid to cool moderation in judgment it is well for us to remember (1) That the term "rich" is a very broad one, [D299] and includes not only the immensely wealthy, but in many minds those who, compared with these, might be considered poor; (2) That among those whom the very poor would term rich are very many of the best and most benevolent people, many of whom are, to a considerable extent, active in benevolent and philanthropic enterprises; and if they are not all so to the extent of self-sacrifice, it would certainly be with bad grace that any who have not made themselves living sacrifices for the blessing of others should condemn them for not doing so. And those who have done so know how to appreciate every approach to such a spirit that any, whether rich or poor, may manifest.
It is well to remember that many of the rich not only justly pay heavy taxes for public free schools, for the support of the government, for the support of public charities, etc., but also cheerfully contribute otherwise to the relief of the poor, and are heartily benevolent to asylums, colleges, hospitals, etc., and to the churches they esteem most worthy. And those who do these things out of good and honest hearts, and not (as we must admit is sometimes the case) for show and praise of men, will not lose their reward. And all such should be justly esteemed.
Everyone is able and willing to criticize the millionaires, but in some cases we fear the judgment is too severe. We therefore urge that our readers do not think too uncharitably of them. Remember that they as well as the poor are in some respects under the control of the present social system. Custom has fixed laws and barricades around their heads and hearts. False conceptions of Christianity, endorsed by the whole world—rich and poor—for centuries, have worn deeply the grooves of thought and reason in which their minds travel to and fro. They feel that they must do as other men do; that is, they must use their time and talents to their best ability and on "business principles." Doing this, the money rolls in on them, because [D300] money and machinery are today the creators of wealth, labor being at a discount.
Then they no doubt reason that having the wealth it is their duty not to hoard it all, but to spend some of it. They perhaps question whether it would be better to dispense it as charity or to let it circulate through the avenues of trade, and wages for labor. They properly conclude that the latter would be the better plan. Balls, banquets, weddings, yachts, etc., may strike them as being pleasures to themselves and their friends and an assistance to their less fortunate neighbors. And is there not some truth in that view? The ten thousand dollar banquet, for instance, starts probably fifteen thousand dollars into circulation—through butchers, bakers, florists, tailors, dressmakers, jewelers, etc., etc. The $800,000 yacht, while a great personal extravagance, caused a circulation of that amount of money amongst workingmen somewhere; and more, it will mean an annual expenditure of at the very least twenty and quite possibly one hundred thousand dollars for officers, engineers, sailors, victuals, etc., and other running expenses.
Under present wrong conditions, therefore, it is extremely fortunate for the middle and poorest classes that the wealthy are "foolishly extravagant," rather than miserly; spending lavishly a portion of the flood of wealth rolling into their coffers; for diamonds, for instance, which require "digging," polishing and mounting and thus give employment to thousands who would only add to the number out of work if the wealthy had no foibles or extravagances, but hoarded all they got possession of. Reasoning thus, the rich may actually consider their extravagances as "charities." And if they do, they but follow the same course of false reasoning taken by some of the middle class, when they get up "church sociables" and fairs and festivals "for sweet charity's sake."
We are not justifying their course: we are merely seeking to point out that the extravagances of the rich in times of financial distress do not of necessity imply that they are devoid of feeling for the poor. And when they think of doing charity on any other than "business principles," no doubt they reflect that it would require a small army of men and women to superintend the distribution of their daily increase and that they could not feel sure that it would reach the most needy anyway; because selfishness is so general that few could be trusted to dispense large quantities honestly. A millionairess remarked that she never looked from the windows of her carriage when passing through the poorer quarters, because it offended her eye. We wonder if it was not also because her conscience was pricked by the contrast between her condition and that of the poor. As for seeing to charities themselves—the men are too busy attending their investments and the women are too refined for such things: they would see unpleasant sights, hear unpleasant sounds and sense unpleasant odors. When poorer they may have coveted such opportunities for good as they now possess: but selfishness and pride and social engagements and ethics offset the nobler sentiments and prevent much fruit. As some one has said, It was because our Lord went about doing good that he was touched with a feeling of man's infirmities.
In making these suggestions for the measure of consolation they may afford to the poorer classes, we would not be understood as in any sense justifying the selfish extravagance of the rich, which is wrong; and which the Lord condemns as wrong. (Jas. 5:5) But in consideration of these various sides of these vexed questions the mind is kept balanced, the judgment more sound, and the sympathies more tender toward those whom "the god of this world" has blinded with his riches, until their judgments are perverted [D302] from justice, and who are about to receive so severe a reprimand and chastisement from the Lord. The "god of this world" also blinds the poor upon some questions, to justify a wrong course. He is thus leading both sides into the great "battle."
But although we may find pleas upon which to base some apologies for present augmentations of wealth in the hands of the few; although we may realize that some of the rich, especially of the moderately rich, are very benevolent; and although the contention may be true that they gain their wealth under the operation of the very same laws that govern all, and that some of the poor are less generous naturally, and less disposed to be just than some of the rich, and that if places were changed they would often prove more exacting and tyrannical than the rich, yet, nevertheless, the Lord declares that the possessors of wealth are about to be called into judgment on this score, because, when they discerned the tendency of affairs, they did not seek at their own cost a plan more equitable, more generous, than the usage of today; as, for instance, along the lines of Socialism.
As showing the views of increasingly large numbers of people in reference to the duty of society to either leave free to all the opportunities and riches of nature (earth, air and water) or else if these be monopolized to provide opportunity for daily labor for those who have no share in the monopolies, we quote the following from an exchange. It says:
"A little girl who attends a kindergarten on the east side, the poorest district in New York City, came to the school one morning recently, thinly clad and looking pinched and cold. After being in the warm kindergarten a while the child looked up into the teacher's face and said earnestly:
"'Well,' said the child, 'he makes the wind blow, and I haven't any warm clothes; and he makes it snow, and my shoes have holes in them, and he makes it cold, and we haven't any fire at home, and he makes us hungry, and mamma hadn't any bread for our breakfast.'"
Commenting it says: "If we consider the perfection of God's material bounties to the children of earth, it is hard, after reading this story, to regard with patience the complacency of rich blasphemers who, like the innocent little girl, charge the miseries of poverty to God."
However, not much is to be expected of the worldly; for selfishness is the spirit of the world. We have more reason to look to great and wealthy men who profess to be Christians. Yet these lay neither their lives nor their wealth upon God's altar in the service of the gospel, nor yet give them in the service of humanity's temporal welfare. Of course, the gospel is first! It should have our all of time, talent, influence and means. But where it is hidden from view and does not have control of the heart by reason of false conceptions, from false teachings, the consecrated heart will surely find plenty to do for fallen fellow-creatures, along the lines of temperance work, social uplifting, municipal reform, etc. And indeed quite a few are so engaged, but generally of the poor or the middle class; few rich, few millionaires. If some of the world's millionaires possessed that much of the spirit of Christ and were to bend their mental and financial talents, their own time, and the time of capable helpers who [D304] would be glad to assist if the door of opportunity were opened to them, what a social reform the world would witness in one year! How the public franchises granted to corporations and trusts would be restricted or reclaimed in the public interest; vicious laws would be amended and in general the interests of the public be considered and guarded, and financial and political ringsters be rendered less powerful, as against the interests of the public.
But to expect such a use of wealth is unreasonable; because, although many rich men profess Christianity, they, like the remainder of the world, know nothing about true Christianity—faith in Christ as a personal Redeemer, and full consecration of every talent to his service. They wish to be classed as "Christians," because they do not wish to be classed as "heathen" or "Jews"; because the name of Christ is popular now, even if his real teachings are no more popular than when he was crucified.
Truly, God's Word testifies that not many great or rich or wise hath God chosen to be heirs of the Kingdom; but chiefly the poor and despised according to the course and wisdom and estimate of this world. How hardly (with what difficulty) shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven.* Matt. 19:23,24
*It is said that the "Needle's Eye" was the name of a small gateway in the walls of ancient cities, used after sundown, when the larger gates had been closed, for fear of attacks by enemies. They are described as being so small that a camel could pass through only on his knees, after his load had been removed. The illustration would seem to imply that a rich man would needs unload and kneel before he could make his calling and election sure to a place in the Kingdom.
But alas! "the poor rich" will pass through terrible experiences. [D305] Not only will wealth prove an obstacle to future honor and glory in God's Kingdom, but even here its advantages will be short-lived. "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for the misery that shall come upon you....Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days." The weeping and howling of the rich will be heard shortly; and the knowledge of this should remove all envy and covetousness from all hearts, and fill them instead with sympathy for the "poor rich"; a sympathy which nevertheless would not either strive or desire to alter the Lord's judgment, recognizing his wisdom and goodness, and that the result of the weeping and howling will be a correction of heart and an opening of eyes to justice and love, on the part of all—rich and poor alike—but severest upon the rich, because their change of condition will be so much greater and more violent.
But why cannot conditions be so altered as gradually to bring the equalization of wealth and comfort? Because the world is governed not by the royal law of love but by the law of depravity—selfishness.
Christian doctrines promote liberty, and liberty leads to and grasps knowledge and education. But liberty and knowledge are dangerous to human welfare, except under obedience to the letter and spirit of the royal law of love. Hence "Christendom," having accepted Christian liberty and gained knowledge, without having adopted Christ's law, but having instead grafted its knowledge and liberty upon the fallen, selfish disposition, has merely learned the better how to exercise its selfishness. As a result, Christendom is the most discontented portion of the earth today; and other nations share the discontent and its injury proportionately as they adopt the knowledge and liberty of [D306] Christianity without adopting the spirit of Christ, the spirit of love.
The Bible, the Old Testament as well as the New, has fostered the spirit of liberty—not directly, but indirectly. The Law indeed provided that servants be subject to their masters, but it also restricted the masters in the interests of the servants, assuring them that injustice would certainly be recompensed by the great Master of all—Jehovah. The Gospel, the New Testament, also does the same. (See Col. 3:22-25; 4:1.) But the Bible assures all that while men differ in mental, moral and physical powers, God has made provision for a full restitution—that, by faith in Christ, rich and poor, bond and free, male and female, wise and unwise, may all return to divine favor, on a common level—"accepted in the Beloved."
It is not surprising, then, that the Jews of old were a liberty-loving people, and had the name of a rebellious race—not willing to stay conquered, so that their conquerors concluded that there was no other way to subjugate them than to utterly destroy them as a nation. Nor is it surprising that able statesmen (even those not Christian) have conceded that "the Bible is the corner-stone of our liberties," and that experience proves that, wherever the Bible has gone, liberty has gone; carrying with it education and generally loftier sentiments. It was so during the first two centuries of the Christian era: then error (priest-craft and superstition) obtained control, the Bible was ignored or suppressed, and instead of further progress, Papacy's policy brought on the "Dark Ages." With the revival of the Bible as a public instructor, in the English and German Reformations, liberty, knowledge and progress again appeared amongst the people. It is an incontrovertible fact that the lands which have the Bible have the most liberty and general enlightenment, [D307] and that in the lands in which the Bible is freest, the people are freest, most enlightened, most generally educated, and making the most rapid strides of progress in every direction.
But now notice what we observed above, that the enlightening and freeing influences of the Bible have been accepted by Christendom while its law of love (the law of perfect liberty—Jas. 1:25) has been generally ignored. Thinking people are just awaking to the fact that knowledge and liberty united constitute a mighty power which may be exerted for either good or evil; that if, as a lever, they move upon the fulcrum of love the results will be powerful for good; but that when they move upon the fulcrum of selfishness the results are evil—powerful and far reaching evil. This is the condition which confronts Christendom today, and which is now rapidly preparing the social elements for the "fire" of "the day of vengeance" and recompenses.
In chemistry it is frequently found that some useful and beneficial elements suddenly become rank poison by the change of proportions. So it is with the blessings of knowledge and liberty when compounded with selfishness. In certain proportions this combination has rendered valuable service to humanity, but the recent great increase of knowledge instead of exalting knowledge to the seat of power, has enthroned selfishness. Selfishness dominates, and uses knowledge and liberty as its servants. This combination is now ruling the world; and even its valuable elements are rendered enemies of righteousness and peace by reason of selfishness being in control. Under these conditions knowledge as the servant of selfishness is most active in serving selfish interests, and liberty controlled by selfishness threatens to become self-license, regardless of the rights and liberties of others. Under present conditions therefore, [D308] selfishness (controlling), knowledge and liberty constitute a Triumvirate of evil power which is now ruling and crushing Christendom—through its agents and representatives, the wealthy and influential class: and it will be none the less the same Evil Triumvirate when shortly it shall change its servants and representatives and accept as such the masses.
All in civilized lands—rich and poor, learned and unlearned, wise and foolish, male and female—(with rare exceptions) are moved to almost every act of life by this powerful combination. They beget in all their subjects a frenzy for place, power and advantage, for self-aggrandizement. The few saints, whose aims are for the present and future good of others, constitute so small a minority as to be scarcely worthy of consideration as a factor in the present time. They will be powerless to effect the good they long for until, glorified with their Lord and Master, they shall be both qualified and empowered to bless the world as God's Kingdom. And while they are in the flesh they will still have need to watch and pray lest even their higher knowledge and higher liberty become evils by coming under the domination of selfishness.
The masses of the world have but recently stepped from slavery and serfdom into liberty and independence. Knowledge broke the shackles, personal and political, forcibly: political equality was not granted willingly, but inch by inch under compulsion. And the world of political equals is now dividing along lines of pride and selfishness, and a new battle has begun on the part of the rich and well-to-do for the maintenance and increase of their wealth and power, and on the part of the lower classes for the right to labor [D309] and enjoy the moderate comforts of life. (See Amos 8:4-8.) Many of the wealthy are disposed to think and feel toward the poorer classes thus: Well, finally the masses have got the ballot and independence. Much good may it do them! They will find, however, that brains are an important factor in all of life's affairs, and the brains are chiefly with the aristocracy. Our only concern is that they use their liberty moderately and lawfully; we are relieved thereby from much responsibility. Formerly, when the masses were serfs, every lord, noble and duke felt some responsibility for those under his care; but now we are free to look out merely for our own pleasures and fortunes. Their independence is all the better for us; every "gentleman" is benefited by the change, and hopes the same for the people, who of course will do the best they can do for their own welfare while we do for ours. In making themselves political equals and independents, they changed our relationship—they are now our equals legally, and hence our competitors instead of our proteges; but they will learn by and by that political equality does not make men physically or intellectually equal: the result will be aristocracy of brains and wealth instead of the former aristocracy of heredity.
Some of the so-called "under crust" of society thoughtlessly answer: We accept the situation; we are independent and abundantly able to take care of ourselves. Take heed lest we outwit you. Life is a war for wealth and we have numbers on our side; we will organize strikes and boycotts, and will have our way.
If the premise be accepted, that all men are independent of each other, and that each should selfishly do the best he can for his own interest, regardless of the interests and welfare of others, then the antagonistic wealth-war views above suggested could not be objected to. And surely it is [D310] upon this principle of selfishness and independence that all classes seem to be acting, more and more. Capitalists look out for their own interests, and usually (though there are noble exceptions) they pay as little as possible for labor. And mechanics and laborers also (with noble exceptions) look out for themselves merely, to get as much as possible for their services. How then can either class consistently find fault with the other, while both acknowledge the same principles of independence, selfishness and force?
This has become so largely the public view that the old custom for those of superior education, talents and other advantages to visit the poor and assist them with advice or substantials has died out; and now each attends to his own concerns and leaves the others, independent, to take care of themselves, or often to the generous public provisions—asylums, hospitals, "homes," etc. This may be favorable to some and in some respects, but it is apt to bring difficulties to others and in other respects—through inexperience, improvidence, wastefulness, indolence, imbecility and misfortune.
The fact is that neither the rich nor the poor can afford to be selfishly independent of one another; nor should they feel or act as though they were. Mankind is one family: God "hath made of one blood all nations of men." (Acts 17:26) Each member of the human family is a human brother to every other human being. All are children of the one father, Adam, a son of God (Luke 3:38), to whose joint-care the earth with its fulness was committed by God as a stewardship. All are therefore beneficiaries of the divine provision; for still "the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof." The fall into sin, and its penalty, death, accomplished by a gradual decline—physical, mental and moral—has left all men more or less impaired, and each needs and should have the others' sympathy and aid in proportion to the degree of [D311] his impairment and consequent dependence, mental, moral and physical.
If love were the controlling motive in the hearts of all men each would delight to do his part for the common welfare, and all would be on an equality as respects the common necessities and some of the comforts of life. This would imply a measure of Socialism. But love is not the controlling motive amongst men, and consequently such a plan cannot operate now. Selfishness is the controlling principle, not only with the major part of, but with nearly all Christendom, and is bearing its own bitter fruit and ripening it now rapidly for the great vintage of Revelation 14:19,20.
Nothing short of (1) a conversion of the world en masse, or (2) the intervention of superhuman power, could now change the course of the world from the channel of selfishness to that of love. Such a conversion is not dreamed of even by the most sanguine; for while nominal Christianity has succeeded in outwardly converting comparatively few of earth's billions, true conversions—from the selfish spirit of the world to the loving, generous spirit of Christ—can be counted only in small numbers. Hence, hope from this quarter may as well be abandoned. The only hope is in the intervention of superhuman power, and just such a change is what God has promised in and through Christ's Millennial Kingdom. God foresaw that it would require a thousand years to banish selfishness and re-establish love in full control of even the willing; hence the provision for just such "times of restitution." (Act 3:21) Meantime, however, the few who really appreciate and long for the rule of love can generally see the impossibility of securing it by earthly means; because the rich will not give up their advantages willingly; nor would the masses produce sufficient for themselves were it not for the stimulus of either necessity or [D312] covetousness, so inherent is selfish ease in some, and selfish, wasteful luxury and improvidence in others.
It may be suggested that the rich and poor have lived together for six thousand years, and that there is no more danger of calamity resulting now than in the past; no more danger that the rich will crush the poor and let them starve, nor that the poor will destroy the rich through anarchy. But this is a mistake; there is greater danger than ever before from both sides.
Conditions have greatly changed with the masses since the days of serfdom; not only the physical, but also the mental conditions; and now, after a taste of civilization and education, it would require centuries of gradual oppression to make them again submit to the old order of things, in which they were the vassals of the landed nobility. It could not be done in one century—sooner would they die! The very suspicion of a tendency toward such a future for their children would lead to a revolution, and it is this fear which is helping to goad the poor to stronger protests than ever before attempted.
But it may be asked, Why should we contemplate such a tendency? Why not suppose a continuance, and even an increase, of the general prosperity of the past century, and particularly of the past fifty years?
We cannot so suppose, because observation and reflection show that such expectations would be unreasonable, indeed impossible, for several reasons. The prosperity of the present century has been—under divine supervision, Dan. 12:4—directly the result of the mental awakening of the world, printing, steam, electricity and applied mechanics [D313] being the agencies. The awakening brought increased demands for necessities and luxuries from increasing numbers. Coming suddenly, the increase of demand exceeded the production; and hence wages in general advanced. And as the supply became equal to and beyond the demands of the home-markets, other nations, long dormant, also awakened and demanded supplies. For a time all classes benefited, and all civilized nations suddenly became much more wealthy as well as much more comfortable than ever before; because the manufacture of machinery required moulders, machinists and carpenters; and these required the assistance of woodsmen and brick-makers and furnace-builders and furnace-men; and when the machines were ready many of them required coal and gave increased demand for coal-diggers, engineers, firemen, etc. Steamships and railroads were demanded all over the world, and thousands of men were promptly employed in building, equipping and operating them. Thus the ranks of labor were suddenly called upon, and wages rose proportionately to the skill demanded. Indirectly still others were benefited as well as those directly employed; because, as men were better paid, they ate better food, wore better clothes and lived in better houses, more comfortably furnished. The farmer not only was obliged to pay more for the labor he hired, but he in turn received proportionately more for what he sold; and thus it was in every branch of industry. So the tanners and shoemakers, the hosierymakers, clockmakers, jewelers, etc., were benefited, because the better the masses were paid the more they could spend both for necessities and luxuries. Those who once went barefoot bought shoes; those who once went stockingless began to consider stockings a necessity; and thus all branches of trade prospered. All this demand coming suddenly, a general and quick prosperity was unavoidable.
Invention was stimulated by the demand, and it has pushed one labor-saving device upon another into the factory, the home, onto the farm, everywhere, until now it is difficult for any to earn a bare living independent of modern machinery. All of this, together with commerce with outside nations, waking up similarly, but later, has kept things going prosperously for the laboring classes, while making the merchants and manufacturers of Christendom fabulously rich.
But now we are nearing the end of the lane of prosperity. Already in many directions the world's supply exceeds the world's demands, or rather exceeds its financial ability to gratify its desires. China, India and Japan, after being excellent customers for the manufactures of Europe and the United States, are now generally utilizing their own labor (at six to twelve cents per day) in duplicating what they have already purchased; and therefore they will demand less and less proportionately hereafter. The countries of South America have been pushed faster than their intelligence warranted, and some of them are already bankrupt and must economize until they get into better financial condition.
Evidently, therefore, a crisis is approaching; a crisis which would have culminated sooner than this in Europe had it not been for the unprecedented prosperity of this Great Republic, under a protective tariff, which brought hither for investment millions of European capital, as well as drew millions of Europe's population to share the benefits of that prosperity, and which incidentally has produced giant corporations and trusts which now threaten the public weal.
General prosperity and higher wages came to Europe also. Not only were Europe's labor ranks relieved, but wars also relieved the pressure of labor-competition by killing a [D315] million of men in the prime of life, and by a destruction of goods and a general interruption of labor. And for the past twenty-five years the constantly increasing standing armies are relieving Europe of other millions of men for the ranks, who otherwise would be competitors; besides, consider the vast numbers employed in preparing military armaments, guns, warships, etc.
If, notwithstanding all these conditions so favorable to prosperity and demand for labor at good wages, we now find that the climax has been reached, and that wages are now rather tending downward, we are warranted in asserting, from a human standpoint, as well as from the standpoint of God's revelation, that a crisis is approaching—the crisis of this world's history.
It is worthy of note also that while wages have reached an unprecedented height in recent years, the rise in the prices of the necessaries of life has more than kept pace with the increase, thus exercising more than a counter-balancing influence. What will be the result? and how long must we wait for it?
The collapse will come with a rush. Just as the sailor who has toiled slowly to the top of the mast can fall suddenly, just as a great piece of machinery lifted slowly by cogs and pulleys, if it slips their hold, will come down again with crushing and damaging force, worse off by far than if it had never been lifted, so humanity, lifted high above any former level, by the cogs and levers of invention and improvement, and by the block and tackle of general education and enlightenment, has reached a place where (by reason of selfishness) these can lift no more—where something is giving way. It will catch and steady for a moment (a few years) on a lower level, before the cogs and levers which can go no farther will break under the strain, and utter wreck will result.
When machinery was first introduced the results in competition with human labor and skill were feared; but the contrary agencies, already referred to (general awakening, in Christendom and outside, the manufacture of machinery, wars, armies, etc.), have until now more than counteracted the natural tendency: so much so that many people have concluded that this matter acts contrary to reason, and that labor-saving machinery is not at war with human labor. But not so: the world still operates under the law of supply and demand; and the operation of that law is sure, and can be made plain to any reasonable mind. The demand for human labor and skill was only temporarily increased in preparing the yet more abundant supply of machinery to take labor's place, and, the climax once reached, the reaction cannot be otherwise than sudden, and crushing to those upon whom the displaced weight falls.
Suppose that civilization has increased the world's demands to five times what they were fifty years ago (and surely that should be considered a very liberal estimate), how is it with the supply? All will agree that invention and machinery have increased the supply to more than TEN times what it was fifty years ago. A mentally-blind man can see that as soon as enough machinery has been constructed to supply the demands, thereafter there must be a race, a competition between man and machinery; because there will not be enough work for all, even if no further additions were made of either men or machines. But more competition is being added; the world's population is increasing rapidly, and machinery guided by increased skill is creating more and better machinery daily. Who cannot see that, under the present selfish system, as soon as the supply exceeds the demand (as soon as we have over-production) the race between men and machinery must be a short one, and one very disadvantageous [D317] to men. Machines in general are slaves of iron, steel and wood, vitalized by steam, electricity, etc. They cannot only do more work, but better work, than men can do. And they have no minds to cultivate, no perverse dispositions to control, no wives and families to think of and provide for; they are not ambitious; they do not form unions and send delegates to interfere with the management of the business, nor do they strike; and they are ready to work extra hours without serious complaint or extra pay. As slaves, therefore, machines are far more desirable than either black or white human slaves, and human labor and skill are therefore being dispensed with as far as possible; and those who own the machine-slaves are glad that under present laws and usages their fellowmen are free and independent, because they are thereby relieved of the responsibility and care on their behalf which their enslavement would necessitate.
The workmen of the world are not blind. They see, dimly at least, to what the present system of selfishness, which they must admit they themselves have helped to foster, and under which they, as well as all others, are still operating, must lead. They do not yet see clearly its inevitableness, nor the abjectness of the servitude to which, unless turned aside, it will surely and speedily bring them. But they do see that competition amongst themselves to be the servants of the machine-slaves (as machinists, engineers, firemen, etc.) is becoming sharper every year.
"The brilliancy of the ancient Greek city democracies, sparkling like points of light against the dark background of the surrounding barbarism, has been a source of contention among the modern advocates of different forms of government. The opponents of popular rule have maintained that the ancient cities were not true democracies at all, but aristocracies, since they rested on the labor of slaves, which alone gave the free citizens the leisure to apply themselves to politics. There must be a mudsill class, according to these thinkers, to do the drudgery of the community, and a polity which allows the common laborers a share in the government is one which cannot endure.
"This plausible reasoning was ingeniously met by Mr. Charles H. Loring in his Presidential address before the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1892, when he allowed that modern civilization had all the advantages of ancient slavery without its cruelty. 'The disgrace of the ancient civilization,' he said, 'was its utter want of humanity. Justice, benevolence and mercy held but little sway; force, fraud and cruelty supplanted them. Nor could anything better be expected of an organization based upon the worst system of slavery that ever shocked the sensibilities of man. As long as human slavery was the origin and support of civilization, the latter had to be brutal, for the stream could not rise higher than its source. Such a civilization, after a rapid culmination, had to decay, and history, though vague, shows its lapse into a barbarism as dark as that from which it had emerged.'
"'Modern civilization also has at its base a toiling slave, but one differing widely from his predecessor of the ancients. He is without nerves and he does not know fatigue. There is no intermission in his work, and he performs in a small compass more than the labor of nations of human slaves. He is not only vastly stronger, but vastly cheaper than they. He works interminably, and he works at everything; from the finest to the coarsest he is equally applicable. He produces all things in such abundance that man, relieved from the greater part of his servile toil, realizes for the first time his title of Lord of Creation. The products of [D319] all the great arts of our civilization, the use of cheap and rapid transportation on land and water, printing, the instruments of peace and war, the acquisition of knowledge of all kinds, are made the possibility and the possession of all by the labor of the obedient slave, which we call steam engine.'
"It is literally true that modern machinery is a slave with hundreds of times the productive power of the ancient human slaves, and hence that we have now the material basis for a civilization in which the entire population would constitute a leisure class, corresponding to the free citizens of Athens—a class not free, indeed, to spend its time in indolent dissipation, but relieved of the hardest drudgery, and able to support itself in comfort with no more manual labor than is consistent with good health, mental cultivation and reasonable amusement. In Great Britain alone it is estimated that steam does the work of 156,000,000 men, which is at least five times as many as there were in the entire civilized world in ancient times, counting slaves and freemen together. In the United States steam does the work of 230,000,000 men, representing almost the entire present population of the globe, and we are harnessing waterfalls to electric motors at a rate that seems likely to leave even that aggregation out of sight.
"But unfortunately, while we have a material basis for a civilization of universally diffused comfort, leisure and intelligence, we have not yet learned how to take advantage of it. We are improving, but we still have citizens who think themselves fortunate if they can find the opportunity to spend all their waking hours in exhaustive labor—citizens who by our political theory are the equals of any other men in deciding the policy of the government, but who have no opportunity to acquire ideas on any subject beyond that of the outlook for their next meals.
"Physical science has given us the means of building the greatest, the most brilliant, the happiest, and the most enduring civilization of which history has any knowledge. It remains for social science to teach us how to use these materials. Every experiment in that direction, whether it succeed [D320] or fail, is of value. In chemistry there are a thousand fruitless experiments for every discovery. If Kaveah and Altruria have failed, we still owe thanks to their projectors for helping to mark the sunken reefs on the course of progress."
"We have only to glance at the rapidity of transportation and communication which it has developed to appreciate the fact that it has indeed secured a position with the aid of which it is difficult to comprehend how modern business could now be conducted. One point about mechanical mining, and which is a matter of grave importance, is that the mechanic can be depended upon to render steady labor. The prospects of strikes are therefore greatly diminished, and it is a noticeable fact that wherever a strike occurs now it is often followed by an extension of the machine sway to new territory. The increased application of mechanical methods on all sides is gradually lining up the relations of cognate trade on a basis of adjustment that will continue to tend towards a point where strikes may become almost impossible.
"Electricity is yet in its infancy, but where it once takes possession of a field it appears to be permanent, and delvers of the dusky diamonds will soon have to face the stern fact that where they have not been driven out by the cheap labor of Europe they have a more invincible foe to meet, and that in a few years, where thousands are engaged in mining, hundreds will do an equal amount of work by the aid of electrical mining machinery."
"The wonderful strides of science, and innumerable devices of this inventive age, are fast driving manual labor out of many industries, and thousands of workingmen who found remunerative employment a few years ago are vainly seeking for something to do. Where hundreds of men were engaged in a mill or factory, now a score will do a greater amount of work, aided by mechanical contrivance. The linotype has thrown thousands of printers idle, and so on throughout the various trades, machinery does the work more expeditiously, with less expense, and more satisfactorily than hand-work.
"The prospects are, that in a few years the mining of anthracite [D321] coal will be largely done by electric contrivance, and that man and the mule will be but the accessory of an electric device where labor entailing motive power is at issue."
"Twenty years ago, in 1876, the production of pig iron in the United States was 2,093,236 tons. In the year 1895 the production of pig iron in the County of Allegheny was 2,054,585 tons. In 1885 the total production of the country was 4,144,000 tons of pig iron, while in 1895 we led the world with 9,446,000 tons."
"With the best machinery of the present day one man [D322] can produce cotton cloth for 250 people. One man can produce woolens for 300 people. One man can produce boots and shoes for 1,000 people. One man can produce bread for 200 people. Yet thousands cannot get cottons, woolens, boots or shoes or bread. There must be some reason for this state of affairs. There must be some way to remedy this disgraceful state of anarchy that we are in. Then, what is the remedy?"
"Prof. Hertzka, an Austrian economist and statesman, has discovered that to run the various departments of industry to supply the 22,000,000 Austrians with all the necessaries of life, by modern methods and machinery, would take the labor of only 615,000 men, working the customary number of hours. To supply all with luxuries would take but 315,000 more workers. He further calculates that the present working population of Austria, including all females, and all males between the ages of 16 and 50, is 5,000,000 in round numbers. His calculations further led him to assert that this number of workers, all employed and provided with modern machinery and methods, could supply all the population with necessaries and luxuries by working thirty-seven days a year, with the present hours. If they chose to work 300 days a year, they would only have to do so during one hour and twenty minutes per day.
"Prof. Hertzka's figures regarding Austria, if correct, are applicable with little variation to every other country, not excepting the United States. There is a steam harvester at work in California that reaps and binds ninety acres a day, with the attention of three men. With gang-plows attached, the steam apparatus of this machine can plow eighty-eight acres a day. A baker in Brooklyn employs 350 men and turns out 70,000 loaves a day, or at the rate of 200 loaves for each man employed. In making shoes with the McKay machine, one man can handle 300 pairs in the same time it would take to handle five pairs by hand. In the agricultural implement factory 500 men now do the work of 2,500 men.
"Prior to 1879 it took seventeen skilled men to turn out 500 dozen brooms per week. Now nine men can turn out 1,200 dozen in the same time. One man can make and finish [D323] 2,500 2-pound tin cans a day. A New York watch factory can turn out over 1,400 watches a day, 511,000 a year, or at the rate of two or three watches a minute. In the tailoring business one man with electricity can cut 500 garments a day. In Carnegie's steel works, electricity helping, eight men do the work of 300. One match-making machine, fed by a boy, can cut 10,000,000 sticks a day. The newest weaving loom can be run without attention all through the dinner hour, and an hour and a half after the factory is closed, weaving cloth automatically.
"Here is presented the problem of the age that is awaiting solution: how to so connect our powers and our necessities that there shall be no waste of energy and no want. With this problem properly solved, it is plain that there need be no tired, overworked people; no poverty, no hunger, no deprivation, no tramps. Solutions innumerable have been proposed, but so far none seems applicable without doing somebody an injustice, real or apparent. The man who shall lead the people to the light in this matter will be the greatest hero and the greatest benefactor of his race the world has ever known."
Still another item for consideration is female competition. In 1880 according to the United States' Census reports, there were 2,477,157 females engaged in gainful occupations in the United States. In 1890 the returns showed the number to be 3,914,711, an increase of more than fifty per cent. The increase of female labor along the line of bookkeeping, copying and stenography shows specially large. The 1880 Census showed 11,756 females so employed; the 1890 Census showed 168,374. It is safe to say that the total number of females now (1912) engaged in gainful occupations is over ten millions. And now these also are being pushed out by machinery. For instance, a coffee-roasting establishment in Pittsburgh by installing in two newly invented coffee-packing machines which are operated [D324] by four women have caused the discharge of fifty-six women.
The competition daily grows more intense, and every valuable invention only adds to the difficulty. Men and women are relieved indeed from much drudgery, but who will maintain them and their families while idle?
We can but confess that every indication speaks of a greater press for work, by a yet larger army of unemployed, and consequently lower and yet lower wages. To avert this Labor Unions have been formed, which surely have helped somewhat to maintain dignity and pay and manhood, and to preserve many from the crushing power of monopoly. But these have had their bad as well as their good effects. They have led men to trust in themselves and their Unions for counsel and relief from the dilemma, instead of looking to God and seeking to learn from his Word what is his way, that they might walk therein and not stumble. Had they followed the latter course, the Lord would have given them, as his children, "the spirit of a sound mind," and would have guided them with his counsel. But such has not been the result; rather the contrary; unbelief in God, unbelief in man, general discontent and restless, chafing selfishness have become intensified. Unions have cultivated the feeling of selfish independence and boastfulness, and have made workmen more arbitrary, and alienated from them the sympathies of good-hearted and benevolent men amongst the employers, who are fast coming to the conclusion that it is useless to attempt conciliatory dealing with the Unions, and that the workmen must learn by severe experience to be less arbitrary.
The theory of labor is correct, when it claims that the blessings and inventions incident to the dawning of the Millennial morning should inure to the benefit of all mankind, and not merely to the wealth of those whose avarice, keen judgments, foresight and positions of advantage have secured to themselves and their children the ownership of machinery and land, and the extra wealth which these daily roll up. They feel that these fortunate ones should not selfishly take all they can get, but should generously share all advantages with them; not as a gift, but as a right; not under the law of selfish competition, but under the divine law of love for the neighbor. They support their claims by the teachings of the Lord Jesus, and frequently quote his precepts.
But they seem to forget that they are asking the fortunate ones to live by the rule of love, for the benefit of those less fortunate, who still wish to live by the law of selfishness. Is it reasonable to ask of others what they are unwilling to accord to others? And however desirable and commendable this may be, is it wise to expect it, if asked? Surely not. The very men who demand most loudly that those more fortunate than they should share with them are quite unwilling to share their measure of prosperity with those less fortunate than themselves.
Another result of the rule of selfishness in human affairs is that a majority of the comparatively few men who have good judgment are absorbed by the great business enterprises, trusts, etc., of today, while those who offer counsel to Labor Unions are often men of moderate or poor judgment. Nor is good, moderate advice likely to be acceptable when offered. Workingmen have learned to be suspicious, and many of them now presume that those offering sensible advice are spies and emissaries in sympathy with the employers' party. The majority are unreasonable, and subject only to the shrewd ones who pander to the whims of the [D326] more ignorant, in order to be their comfortably-paid leaders.
Whether it be of ignorance or of bad judgment, fully one half of the advice accepted and acted upon has proved bad, unwise and unfavorable to those designed to be benefited. The trouble, in great part, no doubt is that, leaning on the arm of human strength, as represented in their own numbers and courage, they neglect the wisdom which is from above, which is "first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, and full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." Consequently they have not "the spirit [disposition] of a sound mind" to guide them. 2 Tim. 1:7
They fancy that they can by Unions, boycotts, etc., keep the price of labor in a few departments double or treble the prices paid for other kinds of labor. They fail to observe that under the new mechanical conditions it does not as formerly require years to learn a trade; that with common school and newspaper education general, thousands can speedily learn to do what few understood formerly; and that the oversupply of labor, breaking down prices in one trade or industry, will turn that many more men into competition for easier or more remunerative employment in other directions, and ultimately with such a pressure of numbers as to be irresistible. Men will not stand back and hunger, and see their families starve, rather than accept for one or two dollars per day, a situation now paying three or four dollars per day to another.
So long as the conditions are favorable—the labor supply less than the demand or the demand for goods greater than the supply—Labor Unions can and do accomplish considerable good for their members by way of maintaining good wages, favorable hours and healthful conditions under [D327] which to labor. But it is a mistake to judge the future by the past in this matter, and to rely upon Unions to counteract the laws of supply and demand. Let labor look away to its only hope, the Lord, and not lean upon the arm of flesh.
The present basis of business, with small and great, rich and poor, as we have seen, is love-less, crushing, selfish. Manufactured goods are sold at as high prices as the manufacturers and merchants can get for them: they are bought by the public at as low prices as will secure them. The question of actual value is seldom even considered, except from the selfish side. Grain and farm produce are sold at as high prices as the farmer can get, and are bought by the consumers at as low prices as will procure them. Labor and skill, likewise, are sold at as high prices as their owners can command, and are bought by farmers, merchants and manufacturers, at as low prices as will secure what they need.
The operations of this "Law of Supply and Demand" are absolute: no one can alter them; no one can ignore them entirely and live under present social arrangements. Suppose, for instance, that the farmer were to say, "I will defy this law which now governs the world. The price of wheat is sixty cents per bushel; but it should be one dollar per bushel in order to properly pay for my own labor and that which I employ: I will not sell my wheat under one dollar per bushel." The result would be that his wheat would rot, his family would be needy for clothing, his hired help would be deprived of their wages by his whim, and the man of whom he borrowed money would become impatient at his failure to meet his engagements and would sell his farm, and wheat, and all, for his debt.
Or suppose the matter the other way. Suppose the farmer should say, "I am now paying my farm helpers thirty dollars per month; but I learn that in a nearby town mechanics who work no harder, and for shorter hours, are paid from fifty to a hundred dollars per month: I am resolved that hereafter I will make eight hours a day's work and sixty dollars a month's pay the year round." What would be the result of such an attempt to defy the law of supply and demand? He would probably soon find himself in debt. True, if all farmers in the United States paid the same wages, and if all sold at fair prices, it could be done; but at the close of the season the elevators would be full of wheat, for Europe would buy elsewhere. And what then? Why, the news would be telegraphed to India, Russia and South America, and the wheat growers there would ship their wheat here, and break what would be termed the Farmer's Combine, and supply the poor with cheap bread. Evidently such an arrangement, if it could be effected, could not last more than one year.
In this Great Republic, conditions have been favorable to a large demand, high wages and good profits, by reason of a protective tariff against the competition of Europe, and the tendency has been for the money of Europe to come here for investment, because of better profits; and foreign labor and skill also came here for the sake of better pay than could be obtained at home. These were but the operations of the same Law of Supply and Demand. And the millions of money for investment in machinery and railroads, and to provide the people with homes and the necessities of life, have for years made this the most remarkable country of [D329] the world for prosperity. But the height of this prosperity is passed, and we are on the downward slope. And nothing can hinder it except it be war or other calamities in the other civilized nations, which would throw the business of the world for a time to the nations at peace. The war between China and Japan relieved the pressure slightly, not only by reason of the arms and ammunition bought by the contending parties, but also by the indemnity paid by China to Japan which in turn was expended by the Japanese for war vessels constructed in various countries, chiefly in Great Britain. Moreover, the realization that Japan is now a "sea power" has led the governments of Europe and the United States to add to their naval equipment. Nothing could be more shortsighted than the recent mass meeting of workingmen held in New York to protest against further expenditure for naval and coast defenses in the United States. They should see that such expenditures help to keep labor employed. Opposed as we are to war, we are no less opposed to having men starve for want of employment; and would risk the increased danger of war. Let the debts of the world turn into bonds. Bonds will be just as good as gold and silver in the great time of trouble approaching. Ezek. 7:19; Zeph. 1:18
Many can see that competition is the danger: consequently the "Chinese Exclusion Bill" became a law, not only stopping the immigration of the Chinese millions, but providing for the expulsion from this country of all who do not become citizens. And to stop immigration from Europe a law was passed forbidding the landing of emigrants who cannot read some language, etc. Many see that under the law of supply and demand labor will soon be on a common level the world over, and they desire to prevent as much as possible, and as long as possible, the degradation of labor in the United States, to either the European or Asiatic levels.
Others are seeking to legislate a remedy—to vote that manufacturers shall pay large wages and sell their products at a small margin above cost. They forget that Capital, if made unprofitable here, will go elsewhere to build, employ and manufacture—where conditions are favorable, where wages are lower or prices more profitable.
But the outlook for the immediate future under present conditions appears yet darker, when we take a still wider view of the subject. The Law of Supply and Demand governs Capital as well as Labor. Capital is as alert as Labor to seek profitable employment. It, too, keeps posted, and is called hither and thither throughout the world. But Capital and Labor follow opposite routes and are governed by opposite conditions. Skilled Labor seeks the localities where wages are highest; Capital seeks the regions where wages are lowest, that thus it may secure the larger profits.
Machinery has served Capital graciously, and still serves faithfully; but as Capital increases and machinery multiplies "overproduction" follows; that is, more is produced than can be sold at a profit; and competition, lower prices and smaller profits follow. This naturally leads to combinations for maintaining prices and profits, called Trusts; but it is doubtful if these can long be maintained except in connection with patented articles, or commodities whose supply is very limited, or fostered by legislation which sooner or later will be corrected.
But just at this juncture a new field for enterprise and Capital, but not for Labor, opens up. Japan and China are awakening to Western civilization from a sleep of centuries—to an appreciation of steam, electricity, machinery and modern inventions in general. We should remember [D331] that Japan's population about corresponds to that of Great Britain; and that China's population is more than five times that of the United States. Let us remember, too, that these millions are not savages, but people who generally can read and write their own language; and that their civilization, although different, is far older than that of Europe—that they were civilized, manufacturers of chinawares and silk goods when Great Britain was peopled with savages. We need not be surprised, therefore, to learn that Capital is seeking engagement in China, and especially in Japan—to build railroads there, to carry thither machinery, to erect there large manufacturing establishments—that thus they may utilize the skill, energy, thrift, patience and submissiveness of those millions accustomed to toil and frugality.
Capital sees large rewards in a land where labor can be had at from six to fifteen cents per day for each employee—accepted without a murmur, and with thanks. Considerable capital has already gone to Japan, and more awaits concession in China. Who cannot see that it will require but the short space of a very few years to bring the whole manufacturing world into competition with these millions of already skillful and apt-to-learn peoples? If present wages in Europe are found insufficient; and if because of previous munificent wages in the United States and the (as compared with Europe and Asia) extravagant ideas and habits cultivated here, we consider present wages "starvation wages" (although they are still double what is paid in Europe and eight times what is paid in Asia), what would be the deplorable condition of labor throughout the civilized world after thirty more years of inventing and building of labor-saving machinery; and after all the labor of the world has been brought into close competition with the cheap [D332] labor of the far East? It would mean not only fifteen cents a day as pay, but in addition six men for every job at even that pittance. The public press years ago noted the removal of a cotton mill from Connecticut to Japan, and since then other manufacturers have gone thither, in order to secure a field of cheaper labor and of consequently larger profits.
The German Emperor evidently saw this "industrial war" approaching; he symbolically represented it in the celebrated picture drawn by an artist under his guidance and presented to the Czar of Russia. The picture represents the nations of Europe by female figures clad in armor standing in the light shining from a cross in the sky above them, and at the direction of an angelic figure representing Michael looking to a black cloud arising from China and floating toward them, from which hideous forms and faces are developed by the flashing lightning. Under the picture are the words: "Nations of Europe! Join in the defense of your Faith and your Homes."
"So far, the Chinese have made but a beginning in the construction of spinning and weaving factories. On the river Yang Tsze and in the neighborhood of Shanghai, some five mills are already working, and others are in course of construction. It is estimated that they will contain about 200,000 spindles; and some of them have commenced work. The capital employed is entirely native, and with peace restored in these regions, there is, with honest, capable management, while our present monetary system continues, really no limit to the expansion and development of industries in Oriental countries."
Here we notice along the same lines a Washington, D.C., dispatch as early as 1896, announcing a report to the Government by Consul General Jernigan, stationed at Shanghai, China, to the effect that the cotton industry there is receiving great attention; that since 1890 cotton mills are being introduced and prospering; that a cotton-seed-oil plant was being started; and that as in China the area suitable for the cultivation of cotton is almost as limitless as the supply of very cheap labor, "there can be no doubt that China will soon be one of the greatest cotton producing countries in the world."
"The outcome of the present war may help to relieve the Chinese people from the trammels of the mandarins. China's mineral and other resources are known to be enormous, and at the very door they have millions of acres of land admirably adapted to the cultivation of cotton, which, though of short staple, is suitable for mixing with other qualities. In the Shanghai River in December, 1893, there were at one time no less than five ocean-going steamers taking in cargoes of China-grown cotton for transportation to Japan, there to be converted by Japanese mills and Japanese hands into yarn and cloth. The Japanese are now importing for their mills cotton direct from America and elsewhere. After this terrible awakening, should China, with her three hundred millions of intensely industrious people, open her vast inland provinces by the introduction of railways, her interior waterways to steam traffic and her boundless resources to development, it is impossible to form an estimate of the consequences. It would mean the discovery of practically a new hemisphere, thickly populated with industrious races, and abounding in agricultural, mineral and other resources; but so far from the opening of China, which we may reasonably hope will be one of the results of the present war, being a benefit to English manufacturers, [D334] unless some change is made, and that soon, in our monetary standard, the Celestial Empire, which has been the scene of so many of our industrial victories, will only be the field of our greatest defeat."
"The neighborhood of Osaka and Kioto is now a surprising spectacle of industrial activity. In a very brief period of time no less than fifty-nine cotton spinning and weaving mills have sprung into existence there, with the aid of upwards of twenty millions of dollars, entirely native capital. They now have 770,874 spindles, and in May last competent authorities estimated the annual output of these mills at over 500,000 bales of yarn, valued roughly at forty millions of dollars, or at the present exchange, say, four million pounds sterling. In short, Japanese industries, not only spinning and weaving, but of all classes, have increased by leaps and bounds. They have already carried their success to a point from which they may to a considerable extent disregard British industrial competition."
Mr. Whitehead proceeds to show that the capitalists of Europe and the United States, having demonetized silver, have nearly doubled the value of gold, and that this nearly doubles the advantage of China and Japan. He says:
"Let me explain that silver will still employ the same quantity of Oriental labor as it did twenty or thirty years ago. The inadequacy of our monetary standard therefore allows Eastern countries to now employ at least one hundred per cent more of labor for a given amount of gold than they could do twenty-five years ago. To make this important statement quite clear allow me to give the following example: In 1870 ten rupees was the equivalent of one sovereign under the joint standard of gold and silver, and paid twenty men for one day. Today twenty rupees are about the equivalent of one sovereign, so that for twenty rupees forty men can be engaged for one day, instead of twenty [D335] men as in 1870. Against such a disability British labor cannot possibly compete.
"In Oriental countries silver will still pay for the same quantity of labor as formerly. Yet, as now measured in gold, silver is worth less than half of the gold it formerly equalled. For example, a certain quantity of labor could have been engaged in England twenty years ago for, say, eight shillings. Eight shillings in England now will pay for no more labor than formerly, wages being about the same, and they have still by our law exactly the same monetary value as formerly, though their metallic value has, by the appreciation of gold, been reduced to less than sixpence each. The two dollars exactly similar to the old ones, can employ the same quantity of labor as before, but no more, yet at the present gold price they are only equal to four shillings. Therefore it is possible now to employ as much labor in Asia for four shillings of our money, or the equivalent thereof in silver, as could have been employed twenty years ago for eight shillings, or its then equivalent in silver. The value of Oriental labor having thus been reduced by upwards of fifty-five per cent in gold money compared with what it was formerly, it will be able to produce manufactures and commodities just so much cheaper than the labor in gold-standard countries. Therefore, unless our monetary law is amended, or unless British labor is prepared to accept a large reduction of wages, British industrial trades must inevitably leave British shores, because their products will be superseded by the establishment of industries in silver-standard countries."
Mr. Whitehead might truthfully have added that the silver standard countries will soon not only be prepared to supply their own needs, but also to invade the gold standard countries. For instance, Japan could sell goods in England at prices one-third less than prevail in Japan; and, by exchanging the gold money received into silver money, can take home to Japan large profits. Thus the American and European mechanics will not only be forced to compete with the Asiatic cheap and patient labor and skill, but in addition will be at the disadvantage in the competition by [D336] reason of the difference between the gold and silver standards of financial exchange.
"The Hon. T. H. Whitehead's lecture last night at the Colonial Institute drew attention to some astonishing figures in relation to our eastern trade. The fact that during the last four years our exports show a decrease of #54,000,000 has unfortunately nothing disputable about it. The returns of the sixty-seven spinning companies of Lancashire for 1894 show an aggregate adverse balance of #411,000. Against this the increase in the export of Indian yarns and piece goods to Japan has been simply colossal, and the cotton mills at Hiogo, in Japan, for 1891, showed an average profit of seventeen per cent. Sir Thomas Sutherland has said that before long the Peninsular and Oriental Company may be building its ships on the Yangtze, and Mr. Whitehead believes that Oriental countries will soon be competing in European markets. However much we may differ about proposed remedies, statements like these from the mouths of experts afford matter for serious reflection."
A German newspaper, Tageblatt (Berlin), carefully looked into the matter of Japan's decided victory over China, and was surprised at the intelligence it found. It pronounced Count Ito, the Japanese Prime Minister, another Bismarck; and the Japanese in general quite civilized. It concluded with a very significant remark respecting the industrial war which we are considering, saying:
"Count Ito shows much interest in the industrial development of his fatherland. He believes that most foreigners underrate the chances of Japan in the international struggle for industrial supremacy. The Japanese women, he thinks, are equal to the men in every field of labor, and double the capacity for work of the nation."
"The world has entered upon a new stage. Europeans must reckon with the new factors of civilization. The Powers must cease to quarrel among themselves, and must show a combined front, and they must remember that henceforth the hundreds of millions in the far East—sober, hardworking and nimble workmen—will be our rivals."
Mr. George Jamison, British Consul General at Shanghai, China, wrote on the subject of Oriental Competition, showing that the demonetization and hence depreciation of silver, leaving gold the standard money in civilized lands, is another item which depresses Labor and profits Capital. He said:
"The continual rise in the value of gold, as compared with that of silver, has changed everything. British goods got so dear in their silver value that the Orient was forced to make for himself, and the decline in the value of the white metal has so helped him in his work that he cannot only make sufficient for himself but is able to export them to advantage. The rise in the value of gold has doubled the silver price of British goods in the East and has made their use almost prohibitive, while the fall in the value of silver has brought down by over a half the gold price of Oriental goods in gold using countries, and is continually increasing the demand for them. The conditions are so unequal that it seems impossible to continue the struggle long. It is like handicapping the champion by giving to his opponent half the distance of the race.
"The impossibility of the European competing with the Oriental in the open field has been proved in America. The Chinese there by their low wages so monopolized labor that they had to be excluded from the country or the European workmen would have starved or been driven out. But the European countries are not threatened with the laborer himself as the Americans were (he knew the price of European labor, and could learn, understand, how much he should get himself), but with the products of that labor done at Oriental wages. Besides, it would be easy enough to refuse to employ an Oriental to do your work while it is difficult to decline to buy goods made by him, especially as [D338] they improve in quality and get cheaper in price. The temptation to buy them becomes all the greater as the money earned by the British workman gets less. He is the more prone to do so, and declines to buy his own make, but dearer goods. Protective countries are better off. They can impose increased duties on Oriental goods, and so stop them from flooding their markets. But England with her free trade has no defense, and the brunt of the burden will fall upon her workmen. The evil is getting greater. Every farthing in the increase of the price of gold as compared with that of silver makes English goods one per cent dearer in the East, while every farthing decrease in the price of silver makes Oriental goods one per cent cheaper in gold-using countries. These new industries are growing very rapidly in Japan, and what is being done there can and will be done in China, India and other places. Once well established, the Orient will hold on to them in spite of all opposition, and unless some speedy remedy is found to alter the currency system of the world, their products will be spread broadcast all over the world to the ruin of British industries and untold disaster to thousands and thousands of workmen."
Mr. Lafcadio Hearn, who for several years was a teacher in Japan, in an article in the Atlantic Monthly (October, 1895), pointed out as one of the reasons why Japanese competition is so sharp, that the poor can live and move and have their being, comfortably, according to their ideas of comfort, at almost no expense. He explains that a Japanese city is made up of houses of mud, bamboos and paper, put up in five days, and intended to last, with endless repairing, only so long as its owner may not desire to change his abode. There are, in fact, no great buildings in Japan except a few colossal fortresses erected by the nobles while feudalism prevailed. The modern factories in Japan, however extensive their business or however beautiful and costly their products, are but long-drawn shanties, and the very temples must, by immemorial custom, be cut into little pieces every twenty years, and distributed among the pilgrims. [D339] A Japanese workman never roots himself or wishes to root himself. If he has any reason for changing his province he changes it at once, dismantling his house, the paper and mud hut which is so picturesque and cleanly, packing his belongings on his shoulder, telling his wife and family to follow, and trudging off with a light step and a lighter heart for his far-away destination, perhaps five hundred miles off, where he arrives after an expenditure of perhaps, at the outside, 5s. ($1.22), immediately builds him a house which costs a few shillings more, and is at once a respectable and responsible citizen again. Says Mr. Hearn:
"All Japan is always on the move in this way, and change is the genius of Japanese civilization. In the great industrial competition of the world, fluidity is the secret of Japanese strength. The worker shifts his habitation without a regret to the place where he is most wanted. The factory can be moved at a week's notice, the artisan at half-a-day's. There are no impedimenta to transport, there is practically nothing to build, there is no expense except in coppers to hinder travel.
"The Japanese man of the people—the skilled laborer able to underbid without effort any Western artisan in the same line of industry—remains happily independent of both shoemaker and tailor. His feet are good to look at, his body is healthy and his heart is free. If he desires to travel a thousand miles, he can get ready for his journey in five minutes. His whole outfit need not cost seventy-five cents; and all his baggage can be put into a handkerchief. On ten dollars he can travel a year without work, or he can travel simply on his ability to work, or he can travel as a pilgrim. You may reply that any savage can do the same thing. Yes, but any civilized man cannot; and the Japanese has been a highly civilized man for at least a thousand years. Hence his present capacity to threaten Western manufacturers."
"That is a very noteworthy sketch, and we acknowledge frankly, as we have always acknowledged, that Japanese competition is a very formidable thing, which some day [D340] may deeply affect all the conditions of European industrial civilization."
"Japan has made astonishing progress in the development of her industries. This is in no small measure due to the intelligence and the diligence of her laborers, who will often work fourteen hours per day without complaining. Unfortunately, their complaisance is abused to a great extent by their employers, whose only object seems to be to overcome foreign competition. This is specially the case in the cotton manufacture, which employs large numbers of hands. An article in the Echo, Berlin, describes the manner in which Japanese factories are run as follows:
"The usual time to begin work is 6 A.M., but the workmen are willing to come at any time, and do not complain if they are ordered to appear at 4 A.M. Wages are surprisingly low; even in the largest industrial centers weavers and spinners average only fifteen cents a day; women receive only six cents. The first factories were built by the government, which afterward turned them over to joint stock companies. The most prosperous industry is the manufacture of cotton goods. A single establishment, that of Kanegafuchi, employs 2,100 men and 3,700 women. They are divided into day and night shifts and interrupt their twelve hours' work only once for forty minutes, to take a meal. Near the establishment are lodgings, where the workers can also obtain a meal at the price of not quite one and a half cents. The Osaka spinneries are similar. All these establishments possess excellent English machines, work is kept going day and night, and large dividends are realized. Many of the factories are opening branch works, or increasing their original plant, for the production is not yet up to the consumption.
"That the manufacturers have learned quickly to employ women as cheap competitors to male laborers is proved by the statistics, which show that thirty-five spinneries give work to 16,879 women and only 5,730 men. The employers form a powerful syndicate and often abuse the leniency of the authorities, who do not wish to cripple the industries. Little girls eight and nine years of age are forced to work from nine to twelve hours. The law requires that these children should be in school, and the teachers complain; but the officials close their eyes to these abuses. The great obedience and humility of the workmen have led to another practice, which places them completely in the power of their employers. No mill will employ a workman from another establishment unless he produces a written permit from his late employer. This rule is enforced so strictly that a new hand is closely watched, and if it is proved that he already knows something of the trade, but has no permit, he is immediately discharged."
The British Trade Journal also published an account of the industries of Osaka, from a letter of a correspondent of the Adelaide (Australia) Observer. This correspondent, writing directly from Osaka, is so impressed with the variety and vitality of the industries of the city that he calls it "the Manchester of the Far East":
"Some idea of the magnitude of the manufacturing industry of Osaka will be formed when it is known that there are scores of factories with a capital of over 50,000 yen and under, more than thirty each with a capital of over 100,000 yen, four with more than 1,000,000 yen, and one with 2,000,000 yen. These include silk, wool, cotton, hemp, jute, spinning and weaving, carpets, matches, paper, leather, glass, bricks, cement, cutlery, furniture, umbrellas, tea, sugar, iron, copper, brass, sake, soap, brushes, combs, fancy ware, etc. It is, in fact, a great hive of activity and enterprise, in which the imitative genius and the unflagging pertinacity of the Japanese have set themselves to equal, and, if possible, excel, the workers and artisans of the old civilized nations of the West.
"There are ten cotton mills running in Osaka, the combined capital of which is about $9,000,000 in gold, all fitted up with the latest machinery, and completely lighted by electricity. They are all under Japanese management, and, it is said, all paying handsome dividends—some as much as eighteen per cent on the invested capital. Out of $19,000,000 worth of cotton imported into Japan in one year the mills of Kobe and Osaka took and worked up about seventy-nine per cent."
"SAN FRANCISCO, CAL., June 6—The Hon. Robert P. Porter, editor of the Cleveland World and ex-superintendent of 1890 U.S. Census, returned from Japan on the steamer Peru, yesterday. Mr. Porter's visit to the empire of the Mikado was for the purpose of investigating the industrial conditions of that country with regard to the effect of Japanese competition upon American prosperity. After thorough investigation of the actual conditions in Japan, he expresses the belief that this is one of the most momentous problems which the United States will be obliged to solve. The danger is close at hand as evinced by the enormous increase of Japanese manufactures within the past five years, and its wonderful resources in the way of cheap and skillful labor. Japanese exports of textiles alone have increased from $511,000 to $23,000,000 in the last ten years; and their total exports increased from $78,000,000 to $300,000,000 in the same period, said Mr. Porter. Last year they purchased $2,500,000 worth of our raw cotton, but we purchased of Japan various goods to the amount of $54,000,000.
"To illustrate the rapid increase he mentioned matches, of which Japan manufactured $60,000 worth ten years ago, chiefly for home consumption, while last year the total output was $4,700,000 worth, nearly all of which went to India. Ten years ago the exports of matting and rugs was $885 worth; last year these items amounted to $7,000,000 worth. They are enabled to do this by a combination of modern machinery and the most docile labor in the world. [D343] They have no factory laws, and can employ children at any age. Children, seven, eight and nine years of age work the whole day long at one to two American cents per day.
"In view of the growing demand for our cotton and the growth of their exports of manufactured goods to us, a Japanese syndicate was formed while I was there, with a capital stock of $5,000,000 to build and operate three new lines of steamships between Japan and this country, the American ports designated being Portland, Oregon, Philadelphia and New York."
The reporter saw and interviewed Mr. S. Asam, of Tokyo, Japan, a representative of the above mentioned steamship syndicate, who arrived on the same steamer with Mr. Porter, to make contracts for building said steamers. He explained that the Japanese government had recently offered a large subsidy for vessels of over 6,000 tons burden, between the United States and Japan, and that their syndicate had formed to take advantage of the same, and would build all of its vessels still larger—of about 9,000 tons capacity. The syndicate proposed to do a very heavy business, and to this end would cut freight and passenger rates very low. A $9 passenger rate between Japan and our Pacific coast is contemplated.
"WASHINGTON, June 9, '96—Chairman Dingley, of the House ways and means committee, today made a report on the menace to American manufacturers by the threatened invasion of the cheap products of Oriental labor and the effect of the difference of exchange between gold and silver standard countries upon United States' manufacturing and agricultural interests, these questions having been investigated by the committee.
"The report says the sudden awakening of Japan is being [D344] followed by an equally rapid westernizing of her methods of industry; that, while the Japanese do not have the inventive faculty of Americans, their imitative powers are wonderful. Their standard of living would be regarded as practical starvation by the workmen of the United States, and their hours of labor average 12 a day. Such skilled workmen as blacksmiths, carpenters, masons, compositors, tailors and plasterers receive in Japanese cities only from 26 to 33 cents, and factory operatives 5 to 20 cents per day in our money, and nearly double those sums in Japanese silver money, while farm hands receive $1.44 per month.
"The report continues: Europeans and Americans are recognizing the profitable field afforded for investment and factories. Sixty-one cotton mills controlled ostensibly by Japanese companies, but promoted by Europeans, and several small silk factories are in operation, with something over half a million spindles. Japan is making most of the cotton goods required to supply the narrow wants of her own people, and is beginning to export cheap silk fabrics and handkerchiefs.
"Recently, a watch factory with American machinery was established by Americans, although the stock is held in the names of Japanese, as foreigners will not be permitted to carry on manufacturing in their own names until 1899. The progress made indicates that the enterprise will prove a success.
"It is probable the rapid introduction of machinery into Japan will, within a few years, make fine cottons, silks and other articles in which the labor cost here is an important element in production, a more serious competitor in our markets than the products of Great Britain, France and Germany have been.
"According to Mr. Dingley, the competition will differ, not in kind, but in degree from European competition. The committee knows no remedy, outside of the absolute prohibition enforced against convict labor goods, except the imposition of duties on competing goods equivalent to the difference of cost and distribution. An argument for this policy is made; it being said to accomplish a double purpose, the collection of revenue to support the government [D345] and the placing of competition in our markets on the basis of our higher wages. This is said to be not for the benefit of the manufacturer in this country, for the manufacturer has only to go to England or Japan to place himself on the same basis as he is placed here under duties on competing imports equivalent to the difference of wages here and there, but to secure to all the people the benefits which come from home rather than foreign production."
The Japanese government gives no protection to foreign patents. The civilized world's most valuable labor-saving machinery is purchased and duplicated cheaply by her cheap craftsmen who, though not "original," are, like the Chinese, wonderful imitators. Thus her machinery will cost less than one-half what it costs elsewhere; and Japan will soon be prepared to sell Christendom either its own patented machinery or its manufactured products.
"Another straw showing which way the wind of Japanese competition blows is the transfer of a great straw matting manufactory from Milford, Ct., to Kobe, one of the industrial centers of Japan. Those who affect to pooh-pooh the subject of Japanese competition and airily speak of the superiority of Western intellect, entirely overlook the fact that the mobility of capital is such that it can easily be transferred to countries where cheap labor can be had, so that all that is necessary is for the superior intellects of America and Europe to invent machines, and the owners of capital can buy them and transfer them to countries where they can be operated most cheaply."
Hon. Robert P. Porter, referred to above, contributed an article to the North American Review some time ago in which he points out that, notwithstanding the United States Tariff against foreign-made goods, the Japanese are rapidly making inroads upon United States manufactures. They can do this by reason (1) of their cheap and patient labor, and (2) by reason of the one hundred per cent advantage of their silver [D346] standard over the gold standard of civilized countries, which far more than offsets any tariff protection that would be considered feasible.
"The Japanese have, metaphorically speaking, thrown their hats into the American market, and challenged our labor and capital with goods which, for excellence and cheapness, seem for the moment to defy competition, even with the latest labor-saving appliances at hand."
"Within the last few months I have visited the districts in Japan and inspected the industries reported in the above table. The increase in the exports of textiles, which was over forty-fold in ten years, is due to the fact that Japan is a nation of weavers."
"Cotton spinning in 1889 gave employment to only 5,394 women and 2,539 men. In 1895 over 30,000 women and 10,000 men were employed in mills that for equipment and output are equal to those of any country. The future situation of the cotton industry, at least to supply the Asiatic trade, is bound to be in China and Japan. England is doomed so far as this trade is concerned, and nothing can save her—not even bimetallism, as some imagine. Cotton mills are going up rapidly, both in Osaka and Shanghai, and only actual experience for a period of years will demonstrate which of these locations is the better. My own [D347] judgment, after a close examination of every item in the cost of production, is Japan.
"Should Japan take up the manufacture of woolen and worsted goods as she has done cotton, her weavers could give Europe and America some surprises and dumbfound those who claim there is nothing in Japanese competition. A constant supply of cheap wool from Australia makes it possible, while the samples of Japanese woolen and worsted cloth and dress goods which I examined while there indicate that in this branch of textiles the Japanese are as much at home as in silk and cotton. They are also doing good work in fine linens, though so far the quantities produced are small.
"When in Japan I had the pleasure of meeting, among other statesmen and officials, Mr. Kaneko, Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Commerce. I found him a man with intelligence and foresight, and of wide experience in economical and statistical matters. Educated in one of the great European universities, he is up to the spirit of the age in all that relates to Japan and her industrial and commercial future."
"The cotton spinners of Manchester [England] are known to have said that while the Anglo-Saxons had passed through three generations before they became clever and apt hands for the spinning of cotton, the Japanese have acquired the necessary skill in this industry in ten years' time, and have now advanced to a stage where they surpass the Manchester people in skill."
"M. Oshima, technical director of the proposed steel works in Japan, and four Japanese engineers, arrived on [D348] the steamer Rio de Janeiro from Yokohama. They are on a tour of inspection of the great steel works of America and Europe, and are commissioned to buy a plant costing $2,000,000. They say they will buy just where they can buy the best and cheapest. The plant is to have a capacity of 100,000 tons. It will be built in the coal fields in Southern Japan, and both Martin and Bessemer steel are to be manufactured.
"Mr. Oshima said: 'We want to put our nation where it properly belongs, in the van, as a manufacturing nation. We will need a vast amount of steel and do not want to depend on any other country for it.'"
Marching closely behind Japan comes India, with its population of 250,000,000, and its rapidly growing industries; and next comes the new Chinese Republic, with its 400,000,000, awakened by its recent rebellion to a recognition of Western civilization, which enabled Japan with only 40,000,000 to conquer it. China's late Prime Minister, Li Hung Chang, some years ago toured the world, negotiating for American and European instructors for his people, and freely expressed his intention to inaugurate reforms in every department. This is the man who so impressed General U.S. Grant on his tour of the world, and whom he declared, in his judgment, one of the most able statesmen in the world.
The significance of this bringing together of the ends of the earth is that British, American, German and French manufacturers are to have shortly as competitors people who, until recently, were excellent customers; competitors whose superior facilities will soon not only drive them out of foreign markets, but invade their own home markets; competitors who will thus take labor out of the hands of their workmen, and deprive them of luxuries, and even take the bread out of their mouths by reason of wage competition. No wonder, in view of this, that the German Emperor pictured the nations of Europe appalled by a specter [D349] rising in the Orient and threatening the destruction of civilization.
But it cannot be checked. It is a part of the inevitable, for it operates under the law of Supply and Demand which says, Buy the best you can obtain at the lowest possible price—labor as well as merchandise. The only thing that can and will cut short and stop the pressure now begun, and which must grow more severe so long as the law of selfishness continues, is the remedy which God has provided—the Kingdom of God with its new law and complete reorganization of society on the basis of love and equity.
If the people of Europe and America have had the whole world for customers, not only for fabrics but also for machinery, and yet have gotten to a place where the supply is greater than the demand, and where millions of their population seek employment in vain, even at low wages, what is their prospect for the near future when more than double the present number will be competitors? The natural increase will also add to the dilemma. Nor would this outlook be so unfavorable, so hopelessly dark, were it not for the fact that these nearly seven hundred millions of new competitors are the most tractable, patient and economical people to be found in the world. If European and American workmen can be controlled by Capital, much more can these who have never known anything else than obedience to masters.
"The evils of pauperism and lack of employment ought to strike more terror to the heart of England than any alarm about foreign invasion. But English statesmanship has never taken that error seriously, or even long troubled about it. Even the one trouble caused by disputes between [D350] employers and workingmen—the strike on the one hand and the lock-out on the other—has been allowed to go on without any real attempt at legislative remedy. The reason is that any subject is allowed to engross our attention rather than that of the condition of our own people."
"Trades-unionism is in a bad way in England. I sometimes fear that it is practically dead. We workingmen are learning that capital can use its money in organization, and by using it beat us. Manufacturers have learned a way of beating the men and the men are helpless. Trades unions have not won an important strike in London in a long time. Many of the once big unions are powerless. This is especially true of the dockers. You remember the great dock strike? Well, it killed the union that made it, and did not help the men at all. The trades-union situation in London is distressing.
"The Independent Labor Party is socialistic. We shall be satisfied with nothing but Socialism, municipal Socialism, national Socialism, industrial Socialism. We know what we want, and we all want it. We do not want to fight for it, but if we cannot get it in any other way we will fight for it, and when we fight we shall fight with determination. The avowed object of the Independent Labor Party is to bring about an industrial commonwealth, founded on the socialization of land and industrial capital. We believe that the natural political divisions must be on economical lines.
"Of the wrongs of the present system, I should say that the greatest single oppression upon British workingmen is the irregularity and uncertainty of employment. You may be aware that I have made this question a specialty, and know that I am speaking facts when I say that in the British islands there are over 1,000,000 able-bodied adult workers, who are neither drunkards, loafers nor of less than average intelligence, but who are still out of employment through no fault of their own, and utterly unable to get work. Wages appear to be higher than they were half a century ago, but [D351] when the loss of time through lack of employment is taken into consideration it is found that the condition of the worker has really retrograded. A small, steady wage produces greater comfort than a larger sum earned irregularly. If the right to earn a living wage were secured to every worker, most of the questions which vex us would be solved by natural process. The situation is surely melancholy. During the recent dreadful cold weather relief works were opened at which men could have four hours' work at sweeping the streets, at 6 pence an hour. Thousands gathered outside the yard gates as early as 4 A.M. in order to be at the front of the line. There they stood, shivering and shaking in the cold, half-starved and filled with despair, until 8 A.M., when the yards were opened. The rush which followed was little less than a riot. Men were literally trampled to death in that horrible scramble for the opportunity to earn 2 shillings (48 cents). The place was wrecked. Hungry men in a solid mass, pushed on by thousands in the rear, crushed the walls and gates in their anxiety to find employment. These men were no loafers.
"The average wage of unskilled labor in London, even when it keeps up to the trades-union standard, is only 6 pence an hour. In the provinces it is less. Careful study has shown that nothing under 3 guineas a week will enable the average family (two adults and three children) to enjoy common comfort, not to mention luxuries. Very few workers in England receive this sum or anything like it. That skilled workman is fortunate who gets 2 guineas a week the year round, and that laborer is lucky who manages to earn 24 shillings ($5.84) in the course of each seven days, one-third of which must go for rent. So in the best-paid classes of workers the family can only keep itself at the poverty line. A very short period of enforced idleness is invariably sufficient to drag them below it. Hence our vast number of paupers.
"London contains now over 4,300,000 persons. Sixty thousand families (300,000 persons) average a weekly income per family of less than 18 shillings a week, and live in a state of chronic want. One in every eight of the total population [D352] of London dies in the workhouse or in the workhouse infirmary. One in every sixteen of the present population of London is at the present moment a recognized pauper. Every day 43,000 children attend the board schools, having gone without breakfast. Thirty thousand persons have no homes other than the 4-penny lodging houses or the casual ward."
The foregoing statistics show that a few years would be ample allowance for the development of this competition. Thus the Almighty is bringing the masses of all nations, gradually, to a realization of the fact that soon or later the interests of one must be the interests of the other—that each must be his brother's keeper if he would preserve his own welfare.
Nor is it wise or just to denounce Capital for doing the very same thing that Labor does and has always done—seeking its own advantage. Indeed, we can all see that some of the poor are equally as selfish at heart as some of the rich; we can even imagine that if some now poor were given the positions of the wealthy, they would be more severely exacting and less generous than their present masters. Let us not, therefore, hate and denounce the rich, but instead hate and denounce the selfishness general and particular which is responsible for present conditions and evils. And, thoroughly abhorring selfishness, let each resolve that by the Lord's grace he will mortify (kill) his own inherent selfishness, daily, and more and more cultivate the opposite quality of love, and thus be conformed to the image of God's dear Son, our Redeemer and Lord.
Note the views of Joseph Chamberlain, once Colonial Secretary of Great Britain, and one of the shrewdest statesmen [D353] of our day. In receiving a deputation of unemployed shoemakers who came to advocate municipal workshops, he showed them clearly that what they wanted would not really aid them, except temporarily; that such shops would merely oversupply the demand and throw others, now doing fairly well, out of work, and that the true policy would be to cultivate trade with the outside world, and thus find customers for more boots, which would speedily bring a demand for their services. He said:
"What you want to do is not to change the shop in which the boots are made, but to increase the demand for boots. If you can get some new demand for boots, not only those who are now working but those out of employment may find employment. That should be our great object. In addition to the special point before me, you must remember that, speaking generally, the great cure for this difficulty of want of employment is to find new markets. We are pressed out of the old markets (out of the neutral markets which used to be supplied by Great Britain) by foreign competition. At the same time, foreign Governments absolutely exclude our goods from their own markets, and unless we can increase the markets which are under our control, or find new ones, this question of want of employment, already a very serious one, will become one of the greatest possible magnitude, and I see the gravest reasons for anxiety as to the complications which may possibly ensue. I put the matter before you in these general terms; but I beg you, when you hear criticisms upon the conduct of this Government or of that, of this Commander or of that Commander, in expanding the British Empire, I beg you to bear in mind that it is not a Jingo question, which sometimes you are induced to believe—it is not a question of unreasonable aggression, but it is really a question of continuing to do that which the English people have always done—to extend their markets and relations with the waste places of the earth; and unless that is done, and done continuously, I am certain that, grave as are the evils now, we shall have at no distant time to meet much more serious consequences." [D354] National Aggression as Related to Industrial Interests
Here we have the secret of British aggression and empire-expansion. It is not prompted merely by a desire to give other nations wiser rulers and better governments, nor merely by a love of acreage and power: it is done as a part of the war of trade, the "industrial war." Nations are conquered, not to pillage them as of old, but to serve them—to secure their trade. In this warfare Great Britain has been most successful; and, in consequence, her wealth is enormous, and is invested far and near. The first nation to have an oversupply, she first sought foreign markets, and for a long time was the cotton and iron factory of the world outside of Europe. The mechanical awakening which followed the United States civil war in 1865 made this land for a time the center of the world's attention and business. The mechanical awakening spread to all civilized nations turned their attention to finding outside demand. This is the foreign competition to which Mr. Chamberlain refers. All statesmen see what he points out; namely, that the markets of the world are fast being stocked, and that machinery and civilization are rapidly hastening the time when there will be no more outside markets. And as he wisely declared, "grave as are the evils now, we shall have at no distant time to meet much more serious consequences."
In 1896, Mr. Chamberlain, as Colonial Secretary for the British Empire, had in London delegates from the British Colonies who had come thousands of miles to confer with him and each other respecting the best means of meeting industrial competition. Ever since Great Britain found that her workshops produced more wares than her population could consume, and that she must seek her market abroad, she has been the advocate of Free Trade, and, of course, has kept her colonies as near to her free trade policy as practicable [D355] without force. This conference was with a view to an arrangement by which Great Britain and her many colonies might erect a protective tariff wall about themselves to measurably shut out the competition of the United States, Germany, France and Japan.
The conquests of France, Italy and Great Britain in Africa meant the same thing; that they feel the commercial warfare severely, and see it increasing and would, perforce, have some markets under their control. The following press dispatch is in evidence on this subject:
"WASHINGTON, June 9, 1896—Taking as his starting point the official announcement of the annexation by France of Timbuctoo, the principal place in the Djallon country, a district larger than the state of Pennsylvania and quite as fertile, United States' Consul Strickland, at Goree-Dakar, has made a most interesting report to the State Department upon the dangers threatening United States' trade with Africa, owing to the rapid extension of the colonial possessions of the European nations. He shows how the French, by the imposition of a discriminating duty of 7 per cent against foreign goods, have monopolized the markets of the French colonies, and have thus crushed out the lucrative and growing trade which the United States already enjoyed in that part of the world. He says that the process has now begun of fortifying perhaps the whole continent of Africa against us by protective tariffs; for, if one nation can even now do it with effect, the remainder will in time have to in order to equalize things among them."
But let no one suppose for a moment that the aforesaid "expanding of the British Empire" and the other empires of the earth, and the general war for trade, are inaugurated or sustained solely for the purpose of supplying British, Italian [D356] and French workmen with employment. Not at all! The workman is merely an incidental. It is chiefly to enable British capitalists to find new fields wherein to garner profits, and to "heap together riches for the last days." James 5:3
Herr Liebknecht, leader of the Social Democratic party in the German Reichstag, who visited Great Britain in July 1896, submitted to an interview for the columns of the London Daily Chronicle, from which we extract the following:
"'Our Social Democratic party is the strongest single party in the German Parliament. At the last election we polled 1,880,000 votes. We are expecting a dissolution on the question of expenditure on a great fleet, which the Reichstag will not sanction. At that election we look forward to polling another million votes.'
"'I am sure of it. In the Parliaments of France, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Denmark the Socialist Deputies (and we have a good many in each) are fighting it to the death. When the International Congress takes place this year in London, all the Socialist Deputies present will hold a meeting for the purpose of arranging for common action. As for Germany, it is being totally ruined by its military system. We are a new country. Our manufactures are all young and if we have to compete with England'—
"'Of course we have, only to us it is something very real. We have, as I will show you, no liberty of the Press and no liberty of public meeting. You, on the contrary, have both, and that is how I account for the fact that the present economic [D357] system is more deeply and firmly rooted in England than anywhere else; and, above all, we have the doctrine of the divine right of kings to contend against, and you English found out two hundred years ago that the divine right of kings and political liberty for the people could not exist together.'
"'We have in Germany five million peasant proprietors, and they are all going to ruin as fast as they can. Every one of them—and I use the word advisedly—is mortgaged up to and beyond the full value of his holding. Our peasantry live on bread made from a mixture of rye and oats. In fact, food of all kinds is cheaper in England than in Germany.'
"'As a manufacturing country we are only just beginning. Our present industrial system only dates from 1850, but already its results are becoming far greater than in your country. We are being rapidly divided into two classes—the proletarians, and the capitalists and land-owners. Our middle classes are being literally wiped out by the economic conditions that obtain. They are being driven down into the working classes, and to that more than to anything else I attribute the extraordinary success of our party.
"'You must remember that we have not two sharply-defined parties, as you have in England. We Social Democrats work with any party, if we can get anything for ourselves. We have only three great parties: the others may be disregarded. There is our party, the Conservatives and the Catholic Center party. Our Conservatives are very different from yours. They want to go back to feudalism and reaction of the worst type. Economic conditions are splitting up the Center party, and part will come over to us and the rest go to the Conservatives. And then we shall see what will happen.'
"Herr Liebknecht gave the history of the Socialist movement. The rapidity of the growth of Social Democracy in Germany was caused by the newness of industrial commercialism in that country, and the fierce competition which Germany had had to face to keep pace with England and France in the struggle for commercial supremacy."
It will be noticed that the questions recognized by this able man as those which press upon the people and are causing the distress and the division of the people into two classes—the poor and the rich—are thus clearly stated as being (1) the Agrarian or land question, especially affecting agriculturalists; (2) the Economic question, or the money question, including the relationship between Capital and Labor; (3) the Industrial question, or question of finding profitable employment for mechanics—related to foreign and home competition, supply and demand, etc. These are the same questions which are perplexing every civilized nation, and preparing for the approaching world-wide trouble—revolution, anarchy—preparatory for the Millennial Kingdom.
"That this international meeting of workers (recognizing that peace between the nations of the world is an essential foundation of international brotherhood and human progress, and believing that wars are not desired by the peoples of the earth, but are caused by the greed and selfishness of the ruling and privileged classes with the single view to obtain the control of the markets of the world in their own interests and against all the real interests of the workers), hereby declares that between the workers of different nationalities there is absolutely no quarrel, and that their one common enemy is the capitalist and landlord class, and the only way of preventing wars and ensuring peace is the abolition of the capitalist and landlord system of society in which wars have their root, and it therefore pledges itself to [D359] work for the only way in which that system can be overthrown—the socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange; it further declares that till this is accomplished every dispute between nations should be settled by arbitration instead of by the brutality of the force of arms; further, this meeting recognizes that the establishment of an International Eight Hours Day for all workers is the most immediate step towards their ultimate emancipation, and urges upon the Governments of all countries the necessity of having a working day of eight hours by legal enactment; and, further, considering that the working class can only bring about their economic and social emancipation by their taking over the political machinery of today in the hands of the capitalist class; and, considering that in all countries large numbers of workingmen and all working women do not possess the vote and cannot take part in political action, this meeting of workers declares for and pledges itself to use every endeavor to obtain universal suffrage."
Another result of competition has been the organization of large corporations for commerce and manufacturing. These are important elements in preparation for the coming "fire." Before these giant corporations the small shops and stores are being rapidly crowded out, because they can neither buy nor sell as profitably as can the large concerns. These large concerns, in turn, being able to do more business than there is for them, are forming combinations, called Trusts. These, originally organized to prevent competition from destroying all but the largest of its kind, are found to work very satisfactorily to those whose capital and management they represent; and the plan is spreading—the Great Republic leading the world in this direction. Notice the following list published in the New York World, Sept. 2, 1896, under the caption—"The Growth of Trusts."
Dressed Beef and Provision Trust...........$100,000,000
Sugar Trust, New York...................... 75,000,000
Lead Trust................................. 30,000,000
Rubber Trust, New Jersey................... 50,000,000
Gossamer Rubber Trust...................... 12,000,000
Anthracite Coal Combine, Pennsylvania...... *85,000,000
Axe Trust.................................. 15,000,000
Barbed Wire Trust, Chicago................. *10,000,000
Biscuit and Cracker Trust.................. 12,000,000
Bolt and Nut Trust......................... *10,000,000
Boiler Trust, Pittsburgh, Pa............... *15,000,000
Borax Trust, Pennsylvania.................. *2,000,000
Broom Trust, Chicago....................... *2,500,000
Brush Trust, Ohio.......................... *2,000,000
Button Trust............................... *3,000,000
Carbon Candle Trust, Cleveland............. *3,000,000
Cartridge Trust............................ *10,000,000
Casket and Burial Goods Trust.............. *1,000,000
Castor Oil Trust, St. Louis................ 500,000
Celluloid Trust............................ 8,000,000
Cigarette Trust, New York.................. 25,000,000
Condensed Milk Trust, Illinois............. 15,000,000
Copper Ingot Trust......................... *20,000,000
Sheet Copper Trust......................... *40,000,000
Cordage Trust, New Jersey.................. 35,000,000
Crockery Trust............................. *15,000,000
Cotton Duck Trust.......................... 10,000,000
Cotton-Seed Oil Trust...................... 20,000,000
Cotton Thread Combine, New Jersey.......... 7,000,000
Electric Supply Trust...................... *10,000,000
Flint Glass Trust, Pennsylvania............ 8,000,000
Fruit Jar Trust............................ *1,000,000
Galvanized Iron Steel Trust, Pennsylvania.. *2,000,000
Glove Trust, New York...................... *2,000,000
Harvester Trust............................ *$1,500,000
Hinge Trust................................ 1,000,000
Indurated Fibre Trust...................... 500,000
Leather Board Trust........................ *500,000
Lime Trust................................. *3,000,000
Linseed Oil Trust.......................... 18,000,000
Lithograph Trust, New Jersey............... 11,500,000
Locomotive Tire Trust...................... *2,000,000
Marble Combine............................. *20,000,000
Match Trust, Chicago....................... 8,000,000
Morocco Leather Trust...................... *2,000,000
Oatmeal Trust, Ohio........................ *3,500,000
Oilcloth Trust............................. *3,500,000
Paper Bag Trust............................ 2,500,000
Pitch Trust................................ *10,000,000
Plate Glass Trust, Pittsburgh, Pa.......... *8,000,000
Pocket Cutlery Trust....................... *2,000,000
Powder Trust............................... 1,500,000
Preservers' Trust, West Virginia........... *8,000,000
Pulp Trust................................. *5,000,000
Rice Trust, Chicago........................ 2,500,000
Safe Trust................................. 2,500,000
Salt Trust................................. *1,000,000
Sandstone Trust, New York.................. *1,000,000
Sanitary Ware Trust, Trenton, N.J.......... 3,000,000
Sandpaper Trust............................ *250,000
Sash, Door and Blind Trust................. *1,500,000
Saw Trust, Pennsylvania.................... 5,000,000
School Book Trust, New York................ *2,000,000
School Furniture Trust, Chicago............ 15,000,000
Sewer Pipe Trust........................... 2,000,000
Skewer Trust............................... 60,000
Smelters' Trust, Chicago................... 25,000,000
Smith Trust, Michigan...................... *500,000
Soap Trust................................. *500,000
Soda-Water Apparatus Trust, Trenton, N.J... 3,750,000
Spool, Bobbin and Shuttle Trust............ 2,500,000
Sponge Trust............................... *500,000
Starch Trust, Kentucky..................... $10,000,000
Merchants' Steel Trust..................... 25,000,000
Steel Rail Trust........................... *60,000,000
Stove Board Trust, Grand Rapids, Mich...... 200,000
Straw Board Trust, Cleveland, Ohio......... *8,000,000
Structural Steel Trust..................... *5,000,000
Teazle Trust............................... *200,000
Sheet Steel Trust.......................... *2,000,000
Tombstone Trust............................ 100,000
Trunk Trust................................ 2,500,000
Tube Trust, New Jersey..................... 11,500,000
Type Trust................................. 6,000,000
Umbrella Trust............................. *8,000,000
Vapor Stove Trust.......................... *1,000,000
Wall Paper Trust, New York................. 20,000,000
Watch Trust................................ 30,000,000
Wheel Trust................................ *1,000,000
Whip Trust................................. *500,000
Window Glass Trust......................... *20,000,000
Wire Trust................................. *10,000,000
Wood Screw Trust........................... *10,000,000
Wool Hat Trust, New Jersey................. *1,500,000
Wrapping Paper Trust....................... *1,000,000
Yellow Pine Trust.......................... *2,000,000
Patent Leather Trust....................... 5,000,000
Dye and Chemical Combine................... *2,000,000
Lumber Trust............................... *2,000,000
Rock Salt Combination...................... 5,000,000
Naval Stores Combine....................... *1,000,000
Green Glass Trust.......................... *4,000,000
Locomotive Trust........................... *5,000,000
Envelope Combine........................... 5,000,000
Ribbon Trust............................... *18,000,000
Iron and Coal Trust........................ 10,000,000
Cotton Press Trust......................... *6,000,000
Tack Trust................................. *3,000,000
Clothes-Wringer Trust...................... *2,000,000
Snow Shovel Trust.......................... *200,000
The Iron League (Trust)....................*$60,000,000
Paper Box Trust............................ *5,000,000
Bituminous Coal Trust...................... *15,000,000
Alcohol Trust.............................. *5,000,000
Confectioners' Trust....................... *2,000,000
Gas Trust.................................. *7,000,000
Acid Trust................................. *2,000,000
Manilla Tissue Trust....................... *2,000,000
Carnegie Trust............................. 25,000,000
Illinois Steel Trust....................... *50,000,000
Brass Trust................................ 10,000,000
Hop Combine................................ *500,000
Flour Trust, New York...................... 7,500,000
American Corn Harvesters' Trust............ *50,000,000
Pork Combine, Missouri..................... *20,000,000
Colorado Coal Combine...................... 20,000,000
Bleachery Combine.......................... *10,000,000
Paint Combine, New York.................... *2,000,000
Buckwheat Trust, New Jersey................ 5,000,000
Fur Combine, New Jersey.................... 10,000,000
Tissue Paper Trust......................... *10,000,000
Cash Register Trust........................ *10,000,000
Western Flour Trust........................ 10,000,000
Steel and Iron Combine..................... 4,000,000
Electrical Combine No. 2................... 1,800,000
Rubber Trust No. 2......................... 7,000,000
Tobacco Combination........................ 2,500,000
"The addition of $1.50 to the price of every ton of anthracite coal means that the eleven members of the Coal Trust will pocket not less than fifty and perhaps more than sixty millions of dollars. On the basis of last fall's competition and resulting fair prices, this money rightfully belongs to those who use coal.
"The enormous addition to the cost of coal means that many manufacturers who were going to start again this fall cannot do so because they cannot add such a large item to the cost of their product and still compete with those who get coal at natural prices. It means that many manufacturers will cut wages to make up for this increase in the cost of production. It means that every householder of moderate means will pinch on some modest luxury or comfort. He must buy coal, and as the officers he has helped to elect will not enforce the law, he must pay the trust's prices. It means finally that the poor will have to buy less coal. The old prices were hard enough. The new prices are sharply restrictive. And so the poor must shiver in the coming winter.
Take another illustration of the power of trusts. In the Spring of 1895 the Cotton Tie Trust was formed. (The cotton tie is a plain band of iron used in baling cotton.) The price at that time was seventy cents a hundred. The following year the trust concluded that it would make a little extra profit, and advanced the price to $1.40 per hundred—so near the time for baling cotton that foreign ties could not be imported in season.
All trusts have not similarly abused their power; possibly favorable opportunities have not yet been offered to all; but no one will dispute that "the common people," the masses, are in serious danger of injury at the hands of such giant corporations. All know what to fear from power and selfishness in an individual, and these "giant" trusts not only have immensely more power and influence than individuals, but in addition, they have no consciences. It has become a proverb that "Corporations have no souls."
"NEW YORK, Nov. 5, 1896—The liquidating trustees of the Standard Oil Trust met today and declared the regular quarterly dividend of $3 per share and $2 per share additional, payable December 15. The total original issue of Standard Oil Trust certificates was $97,250,000. During the fiscal year just closing there has been 31 per cent in dividends declared, making a total distribution of earnings amounting to $30,149,500. During the same period the American Sugar Refining Company, known as the sugar trust, has paid $7,023,920 in dividends. In addition to these payments of earnings to stockholders, the trust is said to have a surplus in raw sugar, bills receivable and cash amounting to about $30,000,000."
"The Wire Nail Trust was probably one of the most rascally combinations to plunder and extort money from the people that was ever gotten up in this country. It defied the laws, bribed, bullied and ruined competitors, and ruled the trade with autocratic powers. Having done this, and advanced prices from two hundred to three hundred per cent, it divided millions among its members. No anarchy here, of course. In fact, it is the anarchists who protest against such robbery and defiance of law. So at least thinks Mr. A. C. Faust, of New Jersey, of the nail trust, who writes the World that its exposures of the enormities of the trust 'feed the flame of popular discontent.' This is getting things down to a fine point. The illegal and plundering trusts are to be allowed free sway, and attempts to hold them in check are not to be tolerated because 'they feed the flame of popular discontent.' On one side we have the people of the country, and on the other the licensed robbers—the trusts. But there must be no exposures or protest, or the 'flame of popular discontent' will make it hard for the trusts. Could impudence and arrogance go further?
"The Coal Trust in the anthracite product is now plundering the people at the rate of fifty million dollars a year by an advanced price of $1.50 per ton. Rev. Dr. Parkhurst [D366] paid his respects the other day to this particular band in these words: 'If the coal companies or coal combines or coal trusts use their power to the end of draining off into their own treasury as much of the poor man's money as they can or dare, to the impoverishment of the poor, to the reduction of their comfort and to the sapping of the currents of health and life, then such companies are
"While Rev. Dr. Parkhurst was denouncing them as 'possessed by the demon of theft and murder,' another New York preacher, Rev. Dr. Heber Newton, to velvet pews and a millionaire flock, praised the trusts as a necessary and beneficent part of our advancing civilization."
"The great 'Steel Pool,' formed to keep up prices, is practically smashed. This gigantic combination of capital and power, made to control the output of one of the greatest industries of America, to run prices up or down by its simple mandate, to tax consumers at its pleasure, and to the limit of expediency, is to be devoured by a combination still more gigantic, still more powerful, still more wealthy. Rockefeller and Carnegie have seized the steel industry of America. The event is epochal. The cut in the price of steel rails from $25 to $17 a ton, the lowest figure at which they have ever been sold, marks an era in the country's economy. So far it is a case of trust eat trust, and the railroads are the gainers.
"It is safe to say that neither Mr. Rockefeller nor Mr. Carnegie has been led into their great enterprise by any considerations of sentiment for the public. They saw a chance to crush competition and they took advantage of it. They now own the most remarkable source of supply in the world, the Mesaba range, above Duluth, described as a region where it is not necessary to delve at vast expense, but merely to scoop the ore off the surface. Rockefeller has strengthened his advantage in securing this source of supply [D367] by building a fleet of barges of immense capacity to carry his raw material to the docks of Lake Erie. When he completed his cycle by the alliance with Carnegie, with his furnaces and mills, he had the 'Railmakers' Association' at his mercy. The whole affair has been carried out by a masterly combining of existing facilities. The present result, at least, is a benefit to great numbers of people. Whether Messrs. Rockefeller and Carnegie, having gotten this vast power into their hands, will be content to reap reasonable profits and let the public benefit, or will, once having crushed their opponents, use this power for ruthless extortion, is a grave problem. The fact that they have the power is a menace in itself."
"KANSAS CITY, MO., Nov. 26, 1896—Ex-Governor David R. Francis, now Secretary of the Interior, sent the following letter to a little party of gold standard men who held a banquet at the Midland Hotel last night:
"Gentlemen: I have just received your invitation of the 25th, and regret I cannot attend the ratification of the sound money victory this evening....If some legislation is not enacted to check the growing influence of wealth and to circumscribe the powers of the trusts and monopolies, there will be an uprising of the people before the close of the century which will endanger our very institutions.
"We have in our hands a decision by Judge Russell, of the New York Supreme Court, which shows the extent to which the 'Trust' system, or system of using capital to create monopolies, is pushed in the United States. A National Wholesale Druggists' Association has been formed which includes almost every large drug-dealer in the Union, and which fixes the price of drugs. If any private dealer undersells the Association the latter warns the whole trade by circular not to deal with him, and as a rule succeeds in ruining [D368] the business of the refractory firm. John D. Park and Sons' Company resolved to resist the dictation, and applied for an injunction, which was refused in the particular instance, but granted as a general principle, all men being enjoined to abstain from 'conspiring' to enforce 'a restraint of trade.' The case is an extreme one, because it is clear that a Trust of the kind is, or may be, playing with human life. It does not matter much if they raise the price of patent medicines, which seems to have been the specific grievance, to a guinea a drop; but suppose they put drugs like quinine, opium, or the aperients out of the reach of the poor. It will be remembered that Mr. Bryan's followers place the Trust system in the forefront of their charges against capital, and cases like this give them an argumentative foothold."
"Trusts are beginning to take possession of some of our British trades. At the present time there exists—with its headquarters in Birmingham—a combination or trust in the metallic bedstead trade throughout Great Britain, which is so cleverly arranged that it is practically impossible for any outsider to start making brass or iron bedsteads unless he joins the combination, and even then he has to sue for admittance, which will probably be denied him. If, however, he tried to start independently of it, he would be unable to buy his raw material or get any workmen used to the trade, as all the makers of iron and brass for bedsteads have agreed to only supply the combination, and the workmen are all pledged by their Union to work only for makers belonging to it. Consumers have therefore to look to foreign competition alone if prices are to be kept down. This bedstead trust is at present successful, hence many other local trades are now emulating its example."
Controlling capital of hundreds of millions of dollars, [D369] these combinations or trusts are indeed giants; and if matters continue for a few years, as they have during the past twenty, they will soon control the world with the financial lever. Soon they will have the power, not only to dictate the prices of the goods consumed by the world, but, being the chief employers of labor, they will have the control of wages.
True, these combinations of capital have in the past accomplished great enterprises which single individuals could not have accomplished so quickly or so well. Indeed, private corporative enterprise has taken and successfully carried risks which the public would have condemned and defeated if undertaken by the government. We are not to be understood as holding up vast accumulations of capital to wholesale condemnation; but we are pointing out that every year's experience not only adds largely to their financial power, but also to their sagacity, and that we are rapidly nearing the point where the people's interests and very liberties are threatened, if indeed we are not already there. Everybody says, Something must be done! but what to do nobody knows. The fact is, mankind is helplessly at the mercy of these giant outgrowths of the present selfish social system, and the only hope is in God.
True, also, these giants are usually headed by men of ability who thus far generally seem disposed to use their power in moderation. Nevertheless, the power is being concentrated; and the ability, guided in the main by selfishness, will be likely from time to time to tighten the screws upon their servants and the public as opportunities permit and circumstances favor.
These giants threaten the human family now as literal giants threatened it over four thousand years ago. Those giants were "men of renown"—men of wonderful ability and sagacity, above the fallen Adamic race; they were a hybrid [D370] race, the result of a new vitality united to the Adamic stock.* So with these modern corporate giants: they are great, powerful and cunning, to an extent which discourages the thought of their being conquered without divine interference. Their marvelous powers have never yet been fully called into service. These giants, too, are hybrid: they are begotten by a wisdom that owes its existence to Christian civilization and enlightenment acting in combination with the selfish hearts of fallen men.
But man's necessity and God's opportunity are simultaneously drawing near; and as the giants of "the world that was before the flood" were swept away in the flood of waters, so these corporative giants are to be swept away in the coming flood of fire—the symbolic "fire of God's jealousy" or indignation, already kindling; "a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation." In that "fire" will be consumed all the giants of vice and selfishness; they will fall, and will never rise again. Isa. 26:13,14; Zeph. 3:8,9
Contrast for a moment the past with the present and future, respecting the supply of labor and the demand for it. It is only within the last century that the slave trade has been generally broken up and slavery abolished. At one time it was general, but it gradually merged into serfdom throughout Europe and Asia. Slavery was abolished in Great Britain no longer ago than the year 1838, the general government paying to the slave-holders the sum of #20,000,000, or nearly $100,000,000 indemnity. France emancipated her slaves in 1848. In the United States slavery continued in the southern states until 1863. It cannot be denied that Christian voices and Christian pens had [D371] much to do with putting a stop to human slavery; but, on the other hand, it should be noticed that the changing conditions of the labor market of the world helped to give the majority a new view of the matter, and with the indemnity fund helped to reconcile the slave owners to the new order of things. Christian voices and pens merely hastened the abolition of slavery; but it would have come later, anyway.
Slavery dies a natural death under the modern selfish competitive system backed by mechanical inventions and the growth of population. Aside entirely from moral and religious considerations, it would now be impossible to make slavery general in populous, civilized countries: it would not pay financially. (1) Because machinery has, to a large degree, taken the place of non-intelligent, as well as of intelligent, labor. (2) Because an intelligent servant can do more and better work than an unintelligent one. (3) Because to civilize and even slightly educate slaves would make their services cost more than free labor; besides which the more intelligent and efficient slaves would be more difficult to control and use profitably than those nominally free, but bound hand and foot by necessity. In a word, the worldly-wise have learned that wars for spoils of enemies, and for slaves, are less profitable than wars of commercial competition whose results are better, as well as larger; and that the free "slaves of necessity" are the cheaper and more capable ones.
If already free, intelligent labor is cheaper than ignorant slave-labor, and if the whole world is waking up in intelligence, as well as rapidly increasing in numbers, it is evident that the present social system is as certain to work its own destruction as would an engine under a full head of steam and without a check or governor.
Since society is at present organized upon the principle of supply and demand, there is no check, no governor, upon the world's selfish competition. The entire structure is built upon that principle: the selfish pressure, the force pressing society downward, grows stronger and stronger daily. With the masses matters will continue thus, to press down lower and lower, step by step, until the social collapse in anarchy is realized.
It is becoming more and more manifest to the masses of men that in the present order of things they are between a nether and an upper millstone whose rapid revolutions must eventually, and at no distant date, grind them down to a miserable and ignoble serfdom, unless interfered with in some way. Such, indeed, is the actual condition of things: human necessity is the feed-pipe which presses the masses between the millstones; the lower millstone is the fixed law of supply and demand which is crowding the rapidly increasing and growingly intelligent population of the world closer and closer to the pressure of the upper millstone of organized selfishness, driven by the giant power of mechanical slaves, assisted by the cogs and levers and pulleys of financial combinations, trusts and monopolies. (It is pertinent, that the Bureau of Statistics at Berlin estimated in 1887 that the steam engines (power slaves) then at work in the world represented approximately one thousand million men, or three times the working population of the earth; and the steam and electric powers have probably more than doubled since then. Yet these engines are nearly all in civilized lands, whose populations represent only about one-fifth of the total.) Another part of the driving power of the upper millstone is its fly-wheel, ponderous [D373] with the weight of concentrated and hitherto undreamed of wealth and selfishly quickened and trained brain power. As partially illustrating the result of the grinding process, we note a report that in London, Eng., there were 938,293 poor, 316,834 very poor and 37,610 of the most destitute—a total of 1,292,737, or nearly one-third of the population of the greatest city in the world living in poverty. Official figures for Scotland have shown that one-third of the families lived in one room, and more than one-third in only two rooms; that in the city of New York during a severe winter 21,000 men, women and children were evicted because unable to pay their rent; and that in a single year 3,819 of its inhabitants were buried in the "potter's field," too poor to either live or die decently. This, remember, in the very city which has already been shown to number among its citizens thousands of millionaires.
A writer in The American Magazine of Civics, Mr. J. A. Collins, once discussed the subject of Decadence of American Home Ownership, in the light of the U.S. census. At the outset he tells us to be prepared for startling facts, and for threatening and dangerous indications. We quote as follows:
"Think of this startling result having been produced in so short a time, with the vast domain of free lands in the West open to settlers, with the great fields of industry open and offering employment at good pay; and then consider what is to be the result with the great West all occupied, or its lands all monopolized, a population increased by the addition [D374] of millions, both by natural increase and by immigration, the mineral lands and mines controlled by syndicates of foreign capital; the transportation system controlled in the interest of a few millionaire owners; the manufactures operated by great corporations in their own interest; with the public lands exhausted, and the home sites monopolized and held by speculators beyond the reach of the industrial masses."
Comparing these figures with European statistics, Mr. Collins concludes that conditions under the greatest Republic on earth are less favorable than in Europe, except the richest and most enlightened there—Great Britain. But Mr. Collins' figures are misleading unless it be remembered that thousands of these mortgaged homes are owned by young people (who in Europe would live with their parents) and by immigrants who buy on the "instalment plan." The bare truth, however, is bad enough. With the increasing pressure of the times few of the present many mortgages will ever be cleared off, except by the sheriff.
Few probably realize how very cheaply human strength and time are sometimes sold; and those who realize it know not how to remedy the evil, and are busy avoiding its clutches themselves. In all large cities of the world there are thousands known as "sweaters," who work harder and for longer hours for the bare necessities of life, than did the majority of the southern slaves. Nominally they have their liberty, but actually they are slaves, the slaves of necessity, having liberty to will, but little liberty to do, for themselves or others.
"The sweater system had its birth and growth in foreign lands before it was transplanted to American soil, bringing its curse with it. It is not confined to the departments of ready-made clothing, but it includes all others which are [D375] worked by a middleman. The middleman or contractor engages to procure goods for the merchant at a certain price, and in order to supply the great buying public with bargains and at the same time give the dealer and the middleman their profits, this price must be fixed at a low rate, and the poor workmen must suffer.
"In England almost every business is worked on this basis. The boot and shoe trade, the fur trade, the cabinet and upholstery trade, and many others, have come within the scope of the middleman, and the people are ground down to starvation wages. But it is of the ready-made clothing trade in our own land we mean to speak. In 1886 there were but ten sweater shops in New York, now there are many hundreds, and the same is true of the city of Chicago also, while other cities have their share. These shops are for the most part in the hands of Jews, and those in Boston and New York have the advantage over their brothers farther west in that they can take advantage of foreigners, freshly arrived, who cannot speak the language and are therefore easily imposed on. These employees are taken, crowded into small, illy-ventilated rooms, sometimes twenty or thirty in a room large enough for eight workers, where they often have to cook, eat and live, toiling for eighteen and twenty hours a day to earn enough to keep them alive.
"The prices paid for this kind of work are a disgrace to humanity. Men by hard work may earn from two to four dollars a week. The following figures are given by one who has made a study of the matter and who obtained his information from one of the 'boss sweaters' who gave these prices as what he received from the dealer:
For making overcoats,...........................$ .76 to $2.50
For making business coats,...................... .32 to 1.50
For making trousers,............................ .25 to .75
For making vests (per dozen),................... 1.00 to 3.00
For making knee pants (per dozen),.............. .50 to .75
For making calico shirts (per dozen),........... .30 to .45
"A large percentage is taken from this list of prices by the boss sweater as his profit, and after deducting the cost of [D376] carting, which the workman pays, it can easily be imagined how hard and how long men and women must labor to obtain the ordinary necessities of life. For knee pants, for which the 'boss' gets sixty-five cents a dozen from the manufacturer, the sweater gets only thirty-five cents.
"The maker gets ten cents for making summer trousers, and in order to complete six pairs must work nearly eighteen hours. The cloaks are made by fifteen persons, each one doing a part. Overalls, sixty cents a dozen pairs. These are a few examples, and any woman who knows anything about sewing or making clothes, knows the amount of labor involved.
"But there is retribution in all things, and sometimes the innocent or thoughtless must suffer as well as the guilty. This clothing is made under the worst conditions of cleanliness. It is made in rooms sometimes not fit for human occupancy and which are reeking with germs of disease. In Chicago, during this year, a visitor saw in one of these shops four people working on cloaks, all of whom had scarlet fever, and in another place a child lay dead of the same disease, while the work went on around it, and the contagion was inevitably spread."
The numbers of the miserably poor are rapidly increasing, and, as has been shown, competition is crowding the whole race down hill, except the fortunate few who have secured machinery or real estate; and their wealth and power correspondingly advance, until it seems as though the billionaire might soon be looked for if present conditions continue.
That such a condition of things should continue forever is not possible; even the operation of the natural law of cause and effect would eventually bring retribution. Nor could we expect that the justice of God, which arranged that law, would permit such conditions forever. God, through Christ, has redeemed, and has espoused the cause of our unworthy humanity, and the time for its deliverance [D377] from selfishness and the general power of the evil one is nigh at hand. Rom. 8:19-23
"Perhaps you have heard this before. I want you to think about it until you realize what it means. It means that under 'the best government in the world,' with 'the best banking system the world ever saw,' and everything else at the top notch, and with unparalleled productions of food and every other comfort and luxury of existence, one-seventh of our population has been reduced to absolute beggary, as the only alternative to starvation. People are going hungry in sight of warehouses and elevators filled with grain that can't be sold for enough to pay the cost of raising. People are shivering and almost naked in the shadow of store rooms filled to bursting with clothing of every sort. People are cold and fireless, with hundreds of millions of tons of coal easily accessible in thousands of mines. And the shoemakers who are idle would be glad to go to work and make shoes for the men who mine the coal in exchange for fuel. So would the latter be glad to toil in the mines to get shoes. Likewise the half-clad farmer in Kansas, who is unable to sell his wheat to pay for the harvesting and threshing bills, would be delighted to exchange it with the men in the eastern factories who spin and weave the cloth he needs.
"It is not lack of natural resources that troubles the country today. It is not inability or unwillingness on the part of the two millions of idle men to labor and produce desirable and useful things. It is simply that the instruments of production and the means of exchange are congested in the hands of a few. How unwholesome a state of affairs this is we are beginning to realize; and we shall understand it more and more fully as the congestion grows more severe. People are idle, cold and starving because they cannot exchange the products of their labor. In view of such results as [D378] this, is not our boasted present day civilization pretty near a dead failure? The unemployed in this country formed in ranks four abreast and six feet apart would make a line six hundred miles long. Those who depend upon them for subsistence would in the same order reach 2,400 miles. This army thus formed would extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific—from Sandy Hook to the Golden Gate.
"If the intellect of the race is not capable of devising a better industrial system than this, we might as well admit that humanity is the greatest failure of the universe. [Yes, that is just where divine providence is leading: men must learn their own impotence and the true Master, just as every colt must be "broken" before it is of value.] The most outrageous and cruel thing in all the ages, is the present attempt to maintain an industrial army to fight the battles of our plutocratic kings without making any provisions for its maintenance during the periods in which services are not needed."
The above was written during the period of the most serious depression incident to "tariff tinkering," and happily is not the normal condition. However, there is no knowing when it may be repeated. Nevertheless, the Harrisburg Patriot, of the same year, gave the following figures under the caption, "The Number of the Unemployed":
"There are 10,000 laborers out of work in Boston; in Worcester 7,000 are unemployed; in New Haven 7,000; in Providence 9,600; in New York City 100,000. Utica is a small city, but the unemployed number 16,000; in Paterson, N.J., one-half of the people are idle; in Philadelphia 15,000; in Baltimore 10,000; in Wheeling 3,000; in Cincinnati 6,000; in Cleveland 8,000; in Columbus 4,000; in Indianapolis 5,000; in Terre Haute 2,500; in Chicago 200,000; in Detroit 25,000; in Milwaukee 20,000; in Minneapolis 6,000; in St. Louis 80,000; in St. Joseph 2,000; in Omaha 2,000; in Butte City, Mont. 5,000; in San Francisco 15,000."
We give below an extract from The Coming Nation, entitled "A Problem You Must Solve." It shows how very plainly [D379] some men see the present situation. All these warning voices do but reiterate the solemn counsel of the inspired prophet, "Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings [all in any measure of authority and power]; be instructed, ye judges of the earth." It says:
"You will admit that new machines are rapidly displacing workmen. The claim that the making and caring for these new machines employs the number thus thrown out will not stand; for if that were true there would be no gain in the use of machines. The fact stands out so prominently that hundreds of thousands of men are now idle because machines are doing the work they formerly did, that any man must recognize it, if he will think but a moment. These men out of work do not buy as many goods as when employed, and this decreases the demand for goods, and thus prevents many more workmen from being employed, increases the number out of work and stops more purchasing.
"What are you going to do with these unemployed? That prices of goods, as a whole, are being cheapened, does not give these men employment. There is no occupation open to them, for all occupations are glutted with men, for the same reason. You can't kill them (unless they strike), and there is nowhere for them to go. In all seriousness I ask, what are you going to do with them? Skilled farmers are bankrupting, so what show would these men have at that, even if they had land?
"These men are multiplying like leaves of the forest. Their numbers are estimated by millions. There is no prospect of many of them getting employment, or if they do, it is only to take the places of others now employed who would then be added to the out-of-works. You think, perhaps, that it is none of your concern what becomes of them, but, my dear sir, it is your concern, and you will realize it before many seasons. It is a subject that cannot be dismissed by turning on your heel and refusing to listen. The French people thought that, once upon a time, but they learned differently, even if the present generation has forgotten the lesson. The present generation in the United States must solve this question, and will solve it in some way. It may be [D380] in peace and love and justice, or it may be by a man on horseback trampling down the rights of all, as you now carelessly see the rights of some trampled. We repeat, you will answer these questions within a very few years.
"The French were warned, but they could not listen because of the gaiety of royal rottenness. Will you listen? or will the present course be permitted to run unchecked until five or six millions are clamoring for bread or the oxide of iron? The trouble, when it comes, will be intensified in the United States a hundred-fold, because of the social conditions that have prevailed here for a century. The love of liberty has grown stalwart, nursed on a hatred of kings, tyrants and oppressors. No army or navy from the masses can be relied upon to shoot their own fathers and brothers at the beck or order of untitled or titled kings. Seeing what must result from a too prolonged idleness of millions, whose conditions will soon cement a bond of fellowship, do you not think you have some interest in the conditions they are producing? Would it not be better to find and apply a remedy, to employ these men, even in public workshops, than to have the finale?
"We know what the capitalists are doing: We see them preparing the munitions of war to rule the masses by force of arms. But they are foolish. They are wise only in their own conceits. They are adopting the tactics of kings, and will be as chaff before the wind, by and by. All the fates are against their tactics. Kings, with greater armies than can be mustered to fight for capitalism here, are trembling before the steady growth of a higher civilization among the people, hurried on by the distress of this rapidly increasing army of out-of-works. Justice injures none, though it may shut off the privileges of robbers. Let us, as citizens, solve and settle the problem lawfully, not as partisans, but as citizens who think more of country than of party, and more of justice than of the king's gold."
Nor are these conditions peculiar to America and Europe: not for centuries have the millions of Asia known anything else. An American missionary in India writes that she became heartsick when asked by the natives if it were true that the people of her home have all the bread they want to eat, three times a day. She says that in India the majority rarely have sufficient food to satisfy nature's cravings.
The Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, India, is reported to have said, not long since, "Half our agricultural population never know from year's end to year's end what it is to have their hunger fully satisfied." Those who raise the grain cannot eat what nature calls for: taxes must first be paid out of it. Ten millions of India's population are hand-loom cotton-cloth weavers, and now machinery on the coast has destroyed their trade and left nothing for them but agriculture on the above hard conditions.
In South Africa, too, where millions of dollars have been freely invested during what was known as the "African Gold Craze," times are "hard" with very many, and some of the educated are faring worst. The following from a Natal, S. Africa, journal gives an idea of the conditions:
"Those who do not come directly in contact with European immigrants in search of employment can have little idea of the amount of destitution which prevails among this class in Durban. It is gratifying to find, however, that the Relief Committee of the Town Council realize that, on the grounds of humanity, they have a duty toward the unfortunates who have been stranded here. In course of a chat this week with Mr. R. Jameson, the indefatigable convener, who has entered heart and soul into this philanthropic movement, I ascertained that the relief works at the Point afford a temporary employment to something like fifty men. It is distressing to find that men who have been [D382] trained to clerical pursuits, as well as skilled artisans, should find themselves so 'down in their luck' that they are only too ready to accept the Corporation's allowance of 3s. per day and shelter, in return for eight hours' shovelling sand under a broiling sun.
"Meantime there are no vacancies, and frequent applications have to be refused. From time to time the chairman of the committee, by means of advertisements and otherwise, finds employment for such of the men as have any knowledge of a trade or handicraft. Vacancies thus created in the gang are filled up from the ranks of those who have previously made unsuccessful application. In addition to those serving on the gang, there is a considerable number of men wandering about the town who have sought in vain for employment. They very soon find their way to the genial deputy-mayor, and he does the best he can for them, which, unhappily, often ends in failure. If employers having vacancies will wait on Mr. Jameson, they can obtain full information concerning the unemployed on his list. It must be understood that none of these men are residents proper of Durban, but have drifted there from various parts of South Africa in search of employment. Durban is by no means unique in its experience; there are only too clear evidences that similar deplorable conditions hold elsewhere.
"As has been already indicated, many of the applicants for places on the relief gang are men accustomed only to clerical work. It cannot be too often or too strongly emphasized that for such there is absolutely no chance in Natal, the market being always overstocked. But for the action of the Corporation in providing temporary work, there would have been a considerably greater amount of destitution in town. On the whole the conduct of the men on the relief gang has been highly exemplary, and warrants a continuance of the policy which the council has adopted. But what, it may be asked, is the Benevolent Society doing? That excellent institution affords relief only to residents and their families, and, as usual, its hands are full—if not with money, at any rate with deserving cases."
But will not people of intelligence who see these matters take steps to prevent the crushing of their fellow-creatures, less favored or less intelligent? Do they not see that the upper millstone is coming very dangerously close upon the lower one, and that the masses who must pass between them in competition are feeling the pressure severely, and must feel it yet more? Will not generous hearts provide relief?
No; the majority who are favored either by fortune or skill are so busy doing for themselves, "making money," diverting as much as possible of the "grist" to their own sacks, that they do not realize the true situation. They do hear the groans of the less fortunate, and often give generously for their aid, but as the number of the unfortunate grows rapidly larger, many get to feel that general relief is hopeless; they get used to the present conditions, and settle down to the enjoyment of their own comforts and special privileges, and for the time at least forget or ignore the troubles of their fellowmen.
But there are a few who are well circumstanced and who see the real situation more or less clearly. Some of these, no doubt, are manufacturers, mine owners, etc. They can see the difficulties, and wish that matters were otherwise, and long to aid in changing them; but what can they do ? They can do very little, except to help to relieve the worst cases of distress among their neighbors and relatives. They cannot change the present constitution of society and destroy the competitive system in part, and they realize that the world would be injured by the total abolition of competition without some other power to take its place to compel energy on the part of the naturally indolent.
It is evident that no one man or company of men can change the present order of society; but by the Lord's power and in the Lord's way, as pointed out in the Scriptures, it [D384] can and will be changed by and by for a perfect system, based, not upon selfishness, but upon love and justice. And to introduce this the present conditions must be entirely overthrown. The new wine will not be put into the old bottles, nor a new patch upon the old garment. Hence, with sympathy for both rich and poor in the woes near at hand, we can pray, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven," even though it be introduced with "the fire of God's indignation," for which we see the "elements" already in preparation.
"The boast of haughty tyrants no more shall fill the air,
But aged and youth shall love the truth and speed it everywhere.
No more from want and sorrow shall come the hopeless cry,
But war shall cease, and perfect peace will flourish by and by.
"The tidal wave is coming, the year of jubilee;
With shout and song it sweeps along, like billows of the sea.
The jubilee of nations shall ring through earth and sky.
The dawn of grace draws on apace—'tis coming by and by.