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General Intelligence a New Factor in all Reckonings—Senator Ingall's Views—Views of Rev. Lyman Abbott—Views of Bishop Newman (M.E.)—Views of a Noted Jurist—Views of Col. Robert Ingersoll—Hon. J. L. Thomas on Labor Legislation—Wendell Phillips' View—Historian Macaulay's Prediction—Hon. Chauncey Depew's Hopes—Bishop Worthington (P.E.) Interviewed—W. J. Bryan's Reply—An English View—Edward Bellamy's Statement of the situation—Rev. J. T. McGlynn's Opinion—Prof. Graham's Outlook—Views of a Justice of the Supreme Court—A French View, a "Social Melee."
"Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking forward to those things coming upon the earth [society]: because the powers of heaven [government—ecclesiastical and civil] shall be shaken." Luke 21:26
WISE men of the world, everywhere, recognize that a great social conflict is approaching, and that it is irrepressible—that nothing can be done to avert it. They have sought remedies, but have found none adequate to the malady, and, giving up hope, they have concluded that the suggestion of Evolution must be correct; namely, that "All nature operates under a law for the survival of the stronger as the fittest, and the destruction of the weaker as unfit to live." They are told by philosophers that "that which is hath been before," that our civilization is but a repetition of the civilizations of Greece and Rome, and that similarly it will fall to pieces so far as the masses are concerned, and that wealth [D414] and government will gravitate again into the hands of a few, while the masses, as in the earlier civilizations of the East, will merely exist.
They very generally fail to note the new element in the conflict never before encountered; viz., the more general spread of intelligence throughout the world, especially throughout Christendom. This, which many men forget, is brought to the attention of those wise enough to seek true wisdom at the fountain—God's Word. These are informed that "In the time of the end many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased,...and there shall be a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation." (Dan. 12:1-4) They see the predicted running to and fro of mankind astoundingly fulfilled; they see also the general increase of knowledge; and to these the time of trouble predicted in the same connection means, not a repetition of history, not a submission of the masses to a favored few, but a stupendous reversal of history brought about by the new conditions noted. And the statement by the same prophet, in the same connection, that "at that time Michael [Christ] shall stand forth" and take his glorious power and reign, is in harmony with the thought that the coming trouble will end the rule of selfishness under the "prince of this world" [Satan], and introduce Immanuel's Kingdom of blessing. But let us hear some of the world's wise men tell us of what they see!
A wide view and a broad and very dispassionate statement of the struggle for wealth and the consequent crush of the lower classes has been furnished to the press by Hon. J. J. Ingalls, a man of broad sentiments, of moderate wealth and an ex-Senator of the United States. We make liberal extracts from it, because it is a moderate statement of the case, and because it shows that even wide-awake statesmen who see the difficulty know of no remedy that can be applied to heal the malady and save the victims.
"Liberty is something more than a name. He who depends upon the will of another for shelter, clothing and food cannot be a free man in the broad, full meaning of that word. The man whose daily bread for himself and family depends upon wages that an employer may give or withhold at pleasure is not free. The alternative between starvation and submission to a schedule is slavery.
"Freedom does not consist in definitions. The declaration that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are the inalienable rights of every human being makes no man independent. The right to liberty is an empty mockery and delusion unless the power to be free exists also. Freedom is not merely the removal of legal restraints, the permission to come or go. Added to these must be the capacity and the opportunity, which only exemption from the necessity of incessant daily labor can bring. To paraphrase Shakespeare, Poverty and Liberty are an ill-matched pair. Freedom and dependence are incompatible. The abolition of poverty has been the dream of visionaries and the hope of philanthropists from the dawn of time.
"The inequality of fortunes and the obvious injustice of the unequal distribution of wealth among men have been the perplexity of philosophers. It is the unsolved enigma of political economy! Civilization has no paradox so mysterious as the existence of hunger when there is an excess of food—of want in the midst of superfluity. That one man should have possessions beyond the capacity of extravagance to squander, and another, able and willing to work, should perish for want of embers, rags and a crust, renders society unintelligible. It makes the charter of human rights a logogriph. So long as such conditions continue the key to the cipher in which destiny is written is not revealed—the brotherhood of man is a phrase, justice is a formula, and the divine code is illegible.
"The exasperation of the poor at the insolent ostentation of the rich has overthrown empires. The relief of the needy has been the object of statutes human and divine. The complaints of the wretched are the burden of history. Job was a millionaire. Whether that incomparable production bearing [D416] his name is a parable or a biography, it is of profound interest, because it shows that the patriarch was occupied with the same questions that disturb us now. He describes like a Populist those who take the ass of the orphan and the ox of the widow, remove the landmarks, reap the field and gather the vintage of the poor, whom they deprive of their garments and leave naked to the showers of the mountains and the shelter of the rocks.
"The Hebrew prophets reserved their choicest maledictions for the extortions and luxury of the rich, and Moses prescribed regulations for the remission of debts, the redistribution of lands and the restriction of private fortunes. In Rome, for centuries, the ownership of real estate was limited to 300 acres to each citizen, and the number of cattle and slaves was restricted to the area cultivated. But the laws given by the Almighty, through Moses, to the Jews, were as inoperative as the codes of Lycurgus and Licinius against the indomitable energies of man and the organic conditions of his being.
"At the time of Caesar 2,000 plutocrats practically owned the Roman Empire, and more than 100,000 heads of families were mendicants, supported by donations from the public treasury. The same struggle has continued through the Middle Ages into the nineteenth century. There is no remedy prescribed today that has not been ineffectually administered to innumerable patients before: no experiment in finance and political economy proposed that has not been repeatedly tried, with no result but individual disaster and national ruin.
"At last, after much random groping and many bloody and desperate combats with kings and dynasties, privilege, caste and prerogative, old abuses, formidably intrenched orders, titles and classes, the ultimate ideal of Government has here been realized, and the people are supreme. The poor, the toilers, the laborers are the rulers. They make the laws, they form the institutions. Louis xiv said, 'I am the State.' Here the wage-workers, the farmers, the blacksmiths, the fishermen, the artisans say, 'We are the State.' Confiscation and pillage and the enrichment of royal favorites are unknown. Every man, whatever may be his nativity, his faculty, education or morality, has an equal chance [D417] with every other in the race of life. Legislation, whether good or bad, is enacted by the majority.
"Less than a century ago the social condition in the United States was one of practical equality. In our first census period there was neither a millionaire, a pauper nor a tramp in the country. The first American citizen to pass the million-dollar goal was the original Astor, about 1806, who had migrated from Germany not many years before, the son of a butcher, with a pack of pelts as the foundation of his fortune. The largest estate before this time belonged to George Washington, which at his death, in 1799, was appraised at about $650,000.
"The mass of the people were farmers and fishermen, living contentedly upon the products of their toil. The development of the continent by the introduction of railroads, agricultural machinery and the scientific applications of modern life has made us the richest nation on earth. The aggregate possessions of the country probably exceed $100,000,000,000, one-half of which is said to be under the direct control of less than 30,000 persons and corporations. The largest private fortunes in the world have been accumulated in the last half century in the United States.
"And our material resources are yet hardly touched. Less than a fourth part of our arable area has been ploughed. Our mines hide treasures richer than those of Ophir and Potosi. Our manufactures and commerce are adolescent, but they already have established an aristocracy of wealth that wears neither garter nor coronet, and is proclaimed by no herald, but often is welcomed in the courts of princes and the palaces of kings.
"If the unequal distribution of the burdens and benefits of society depends upon legislation, institution and government, then under a system like ours the equilibrium should be restored. If wealth results from unjust laws, and poverty from legislative oppression, the remedy is in the hands of the victims. If they suffer it is from self-inflicted wounds. We have no feudal tenures, nor primogeniture, nor entail; no opportunities that are not open to all. Justice, equality, liberty and fraternity are the foundations of the State. In every man's hand is the ballot. The school offers education to all. The press is free. Speech, thought and conscience are unfettered.
"But universal suffrage has not proved a panacea for the evils of society. Poverty is not abolished. Though wealth has accumulated beyond the dreams of avarice, the inequality of distribution is as great as in the time of Job and Solomon and Agis. Not only is the old problem unsolved, but its conditions are complicated and intensified. Vaster political power is consolidated in the hands of the few, and more stupendous fortunes acquired by individuals under a republic than under a monarchy.
"The great gulf between the rich and the poor yawns wider and wider day by day. The forces of labor and capital, which should be allies, auxiliaries and friends are arrayed against each other like hostile armies in fortified camps, preparing for siege or battle. Millions of money are annually lost in wages, the destruction of perishable property, the deterioration of plants and the decrease of profits by the strikes and lockouts which have become the normal condition of the war between employers and employees.
"The condition of the masses is immeasurably bettered with the advance of civilization. The poorest artisan today has free enjoyment of comforts and conveniences that monarchs with their treasures could not purchase five centuries ago. But De Toqueville observed the singular anomaly that as the state of the masses improves, they find it more intolerable, and discontent increases. Wants and desires are multiplied more rapidly than the means of gratification. Education, daily newspapers, travel, libraries, parks, galleries and shop windows have widened the horizon of workingmen and women, increased their capacity for enjoyment, familiarized them with luxuries and the advantages of wealth. Political instruction has taught them the equality of man and made them acquainted with the power of the ballot. False teachers have convinced them that all wealth is created by labor, and that every man who has more than he can earn with his hands by daily wages is a thief, that the capitalist is a foe, and the millionaire a public [D419] enemy who should be outlawed and shot at sight.
"Great private fortunes are inseparable from high civilization. The richest community in the world, per capita, at this time is the tribe of Osage Indians. Its aggregate wealth is ten times greater, proportionally, than that of the United States. It is held in common. Community of property may not be the cause of barbarism, but in every State, as social and economic equality is approached, and wealth 'created by labor' without the intervention of capital, as in China and India, wages are low, the laborer is degraded and progress impossible. Were the wealth of the United States equally distributed among its inhabitants at this time the sum that each would possess, according to the census, would be about $1,000.
"Were this equation to continue, progress obviously would cease. Had this been the prevalent condition from the beginning, we should have remained stationary. Only as wealth becomes concentrated can nature be subjugated and its forces made subservient to civilization. Until capital, through machinery, harnesses steam, electricity and gravitation, and exempts man from the necessity of constant toil to procure subsistence, humanity stands still or retrogrades. Railroads, telegraphs, fleets, cities, libraries, museums, universities, cathedrals, hospitals—all the great enterprises that exalt and embellish existence and ameliorate the conditions of human life—come from the concentration of money in the hands of the few.
"Even if it were desirable to limit accumulations, society possesses no agency by which it can be done. The mind is indomitable. The differences between men are organic and fundamental. They are established by ordinances of the Supreme Power and cannot be repealed by act of Congress. In the contest between brains and numbers, brains have always won, and always will.
"The social malady is grave and menacing, but the disease is not so dangerous as the doctors and the drugs. The political quacks, with their sarsaparilla and plasters and pills, are treating the symptoms instead of the complaint. The free coinage of silver, the increase of the per capita, the restriction of immigration, the Australian ballot and qualified [D420] suffrage are important questions, but they might all be accomplished without effecting the slightest amelioration of the condition of the great masses of the wage-workers of the United States. Instead of disfranchising the poor ignorant, it would be well to increase their wealth and their intelligence, and make them fit to vote. A proscribed class inevitably become conspirators, and free institutions can only be made secure by the education, prosperity and contentment of those upon whom their existence depends."
Here is a statement of facts; but where is the statement of the remedy? There is none. Yet the writer is not in sympathy with the facts to which he calls attention: he would prefer, if he could, to call attention to a way of escape from what he sees to be inevitable. So would all men who are worthy of the human form and nature. So far as Mr. Ingalls is concerned, this is evidenced by the following extract from one of his speeches in the United States' Senate.* He said:
"We cannot disguise the truth that we are on the verge of an impending revolution. Old issues are dead. The people are arraying themselves on one side or the other of a portentous contest. On one side is capital, formidably intrenched in privilege, arrogant from continued triumph, conservative, tenacious of old theories, demanding new concessions, enriched by domestic levy and foreign commerce, and struggling to adjust all values to its own gold standard. On the other side is labor asking for employment, striving to develop domestic industries, battling with the forces of nature and subduing the wilderness. Labor, starving and sullen in the cities, resolutely determined to overthrow a system under which the rich are growing richer and the poor are growing poorer—a system which gives to a Vanderbilt and a Gould wealth beyond the dreams of avarice, and condemns the poor to poverty from which there is no escape or refuge but the grave. Demands for justice have been met with indifference and disdain. The laborers of the country, asking for employment, are treated like impudent mendicants begging for bread."
In an old issue of the Literary Digest we find the following synopsis of the view of Dr. Abbott, the celebrated preacher, editor and co-worker with Theodore Roosevelt, on The Relationship between Capital and Labor:
"Dr. Abbott asserts that the question whether the wage system is better than feudalism or slavery has been settled; but against the present industrial system as either final or true he makes these counts: (1) That it is not giving steady and permanent employment to all willing laborers. (2) That it also fails to give all those who are employed under it wages adequate for true livelihood. (3) That it is insufficiently educative in itself and fails to allow adequate leisure for educative processes. (4) That pure, good homes are in many instances impossible under present conditions. Dr. Abbott believes that the precepts of Jesus Christ and the principles of a sound political economy coincide; he insists that it is ruinous to grind up men, women and children in order to make cheap goods. Labor is not a 'commodity,' he declares. To quote:
"'I believe that the system which divides society into two classes, capitalists and laborers, is but a temporary one, and that the industrial unrest of our time is the result of a blind struggle toward a democracy of wealth, in which the tool-users will also be the tool-owners, in which labor will hire capital, not capital labor; in which men, not money, will control in industry, as they now control in government. But the doctrine that labor is a commodity, and that capital is to buy in the cheapest market, is not even temporarily sound; it is economically false as it is ethically unjust.
"'There is no such commodity as labor; it does not exist. When a workingman comes to the factory on a Monday morning he has nothing to sell, he is empty-handed; he has come in order to produce something by his exertion, and that something, when it is produced, is to be sold, and part of the proceeds of that sale will of right belong to him, because [D422] he has helped to produce it. And as there is no labor commodity to be sold, so there is no labor market in which to sell it. A free market assumes a variety of sellers with different commodities and a variety of buyers with different needs, the seller at perfect liberty to sell or not to sell, the buyer at perfect liberty to buy or not to buy. There is no such market for labor. The laborers are in a great majority of cases as firmly attached to their town by prejudice, by ignorance of the outside world and its needs, by home considerations, by their little possessions—their house and lot—and by religious ties, as if they were rooted to the soil. They have no variety of skill to offer; as a rule the laborer knows how to do well only one thing, uses well only one tool, and must find an owner for that tool who wishes a laborer to use it, or must be idle. 'A merchant,' says Frederic Harrison, 'sits in his counting-house, and by a few letters or forms, transports and distributes the contents of a whole city from continent to continent. In other cases, as the shopkeeper, ebb and flow of passing multitudes supplies the want of locomotion in his wares. His customers supply the locomotion for him. This is a true market. Here competition acts rapidly, fully, simply, fairly. It is totally otherwise with a day-laborer, who has no commodity to sell. He must himself be present at every market, which means costly, personal locomotion. He cannot correspond with his employer; he cannot send a sample of his strength; nor do employers knock at his cottage door.' There is neither a labor commodity to sell nor a labor market in which to sell it. Both are fictions of political economy. The actual facts are as follows:
"'Most commodities in our time—even agricultural commodities are gradually coming under these conditions—are produced by an organized body of workingmen, carrying on their work under the superintendence of a 'captain of industry,' and by the use of costly tools. This requires the cooperation of three classes—the tool-owner or capitalist, the superintendent or manager, and the tool-user or laborer. The result is the joint product of their industry—for the tool itself is only a reservoired product of industry—and therefore [D423] belongs to them jointly. It is the business of political economy to ascertain how values can be equitably divided between these partners in a common enterprise. This is the labor question in a sentence. It is not true that the laborer is entitled to the whole, nor does he demand it, whatever some of the wild advocates of his cause may have claimed for him. The superintendent is entitled to his share, and a large share. To direct such an industry, to know what products are needed in the world, to find a purchaser for them at a price that will give a fair return for the labor of producing them, requires itself labor of a high quality, and one which deserves a generous compensation. The tool-owner is entitled to a remuneration. Presumptively he, or some one from whom he has received his tool, has saved the money which his companions spent either in present comfort or in doubtful pleasure, and he is entitled to a reward for his economy and thrift, though it may be a question whether our modern industrial system does not sometimes give a reward too great for the virtue of acquisition, and so transform virtue into a vice. The laborer is entitled to a compensation. Since the abolition of slavery no one denies this right. The determination how the division of the product of this joint industry shall be made is a difficult one. But it is certain that it is not to be made by a system which bids the capitalist pay as little wages as possible for the services rendered, and the laborer render as little service as possible for the wages received. Whatever may be the right way, this is the wrong way.'"
Dr. Abbott seems to have a warm, sympathetic heart for the masses and to have grasped their situation clearly. He diagnoses the politico-social-financial disease, but fails to find a remedy. He does indeed hint at what would be a remedy if it could be gotten at, but suggests no way of securing it—that is, he thinks he sees in progress,
This sentence reads as though its writer had recently read the story of Aladdin's Lamp in the Arabian Nights, and [D424] hoped to find and use a "magic wand." It shows that the gentleman either has but a limited knowledge of finances, or else that he is expecting a revolution in which the tool-users will take the tools by force from capital, and in violation of all the laws of society at present recognized. And if such a transfer of tools from the control of present owners to the ownership of tool-users were effected in any manner, cannot all see that the new tool-owners would promptly, by reason of that ownership, become capitalists? Have we any reason to suppose that the new tool-owners would be more generous or less selfish than present tool-owners? Have we any reason to suppose that the natural heart has changed more in tool-owners than in tool-users, or that all labor would be invited by the new tool-users to share alike the benefits of machinery? All experience with human nature says, No! The malady is seen, the necessity for a prompt cure is seen, but no remedy can cure the "groaning creation." Its groaning and travailing must continue and increase, as the Apostle indicates, until the manifestation of the sons of God—the Kingdom of God. Rom. 8:22,19
The denial of any trouble does not cure it. The affirmation that "there is no such commodity as labor" will not correct or alter the sad fact that labor is a commodity, and can be nothing else under our present social laws and conditions. Slavery, at one time and respecting certain peoples, may have been a beneficial institution under kind and considerate masters. Serfdom under the feudal system of semi-civilization may have had good features adapted to its time and conditions; and likewise the wage system. Labor as a commodity, subject to purchase and sale, has some excellent features, and has done much to develop mental and physical skill, and has, indeed, been a very precious boon to Labor in the past. Nor would it be wise to destroy this commodity feature even now, for those laborers who possess [D425] and exercise brain and skill and energy deserve to be in better demand and to be able to dispose of their labor at better prices than the unskilled and stupid: this is needful also for the spurring of the stupid and indolent. The need is—a just, wise, paternal government, which will continue wholesome restraints and incentives and add thereto, while at the same time protecting each class of labor from the arrogance of the class next above it, and shielding all from the herculean power of present-day Capital with its vast and increasing army of machine slaves; and, ultimately, after full and general practical instructions in righteousness, under the law of love, would destroy all in sympathy with selfishness and sin. Such a government is suggested nowhere except in the Bible, and there it is accurately described and positively promised and waits only for the selection of God's Church—to be its kings and priests as joint-heirs with Immanuel. Rev. 5:10; 20:6
The irrepressible conflict between Capital and Labor was seen by Bishop Newman, of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He saw rights and wrongs on both sides of the question. In an article once published in the journals of his denomination, he sets forth the following propositions and suggestions:
"Is it impiety to be rich? Is poverty essential to godliness? Are beggars the only saints? Is heaven a poorhouse? What then shall we do with Abraham, who was very rich in cattle, in silver and in gold? What then shall we do with Job, who had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 4,000 oxen, 500 asses; who had 30,000 acres and 3,000 household servants?...
"The acquisition of wealth is a divine gift. Industry and frugality are the laws of thrift. To amass great fortunes is a special endowment. As poets, philosophers and orators are born such, so the financier has a genius for wealth. By intuition [D426] he is familiar with the laws of supply and demand; he seems gifted with the vision of a seer of the coming changes in the market; he knows when to buy and when to sell, and when to hold fast. He anticipates the flow of population and its effect upon real estate. As the poet must sing because the muse is in him, so the financier must make money. He cannot help it. The endowment of this gift is announced in Scripture: 'The Lord thy God giveth thee the power to get wealth.' (Deut. 8:18) And all these promises are illustrated in the present financial condition of Christian nations, who control the finances of the world.
"Against these natural and lawful rights to the possession of property is the clamor for the distribution of property among those who have not acquired it either by inheritance or skill or industry. It is a communism that has no foundation either in the constitution of nature or in the social order of mankind. It is the wild, irrational cry of Labor against Capital, between which, in the economy of nature and in political economy, there should be no common antagonism."
The Bishop affirms that "the employer and the employed have inviolable rights; the former to employ whom he can for what he can, and the latter to respond when he can." The bishop asserts that the envy and jealousy of laboring classes are not excited against those who possess vast fortunes, but against the supreme ease and the supreme indifference of the rich. He continues:
"Wealth has the noblest of missions. It is not given to hoard, nor to gratify, nor for the show of pomp and power. The rich are the almoners of the Almighty. They are his disbursing agents. They are the guardians of the poor. They are to inaugurate those great enterprises which will bring thrift to the masses; not the largest dividends, but the largest prosperity. Capital makes it possible for the laborer to enjoy a happiness that waits upon honest industry. It is for the rich to improve the homes of the poor, but many a rich man's [D427] stable is a palace compared to the abode of the honest and intelligent mechanic.
"When the wealthy are the patrons of those social reforms that elevate society, then they will receive the benediction of the poor. It is for them to give direction to the legislator essential for the protection of all the rights and interests of a community. When they build libraries of learning, museums of art and temples of piety they will be esteemed the benefactors of their kind. When the wealth of Capital joins hands with the wealth of intellect, the wealth of muscle, and the wealth of goodness for the common good, then Labor and Capital will be esteemed the equal factors in giving every man life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
The Bishop evidently endeavored to take a fair view of both sides of the present controversy and approaching struggle, but association with and dependence upon wealth evidently gave bias, no doubt unconsciously, to his judgment. It is a fact that many of the ancients were very rich; Abraham, for instance. Yet the story of the sojourn of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the land of Canaan shows that although land was owned in those days, it was nevertheless not fenced but free to the users. These three patriarchs with their servants and herds and flocks roamed at will through the land of the Canaanites for nearly two centuries, and yet did not claim to own a foot of it. (Acts 7:5) And in God's typical kingdom, Israel, the code of laws provided for the poor, home-born and foreigner. None need starve: the fields must not be gleaned closely, but the corners must be left for the poor to glean. The hungry might enter an orchard, a vineyard or a field and eat on the spot to satisfaction. And when the land of Palestine was divided amongst the tribes and families of Israel, the special provision for the cancellation of mortgages on all lands, and all debts, every fiftieth year, prevented the impoverishment and practical enslavement of the people as a whole to a wealthy few.
The Bishop seemed to forget that the laws and arrangements of Christendom are not a divinely arranged code; that like all the devices of imperfect heads and hearts these laws are not infallible; that although at one time no better could be devised, the changes of social and financial conditions made changes necessary in the past; that other changes are now recognized as proper, though opposed by selfishness and ultraconservatism in their day. If, then, our laws are conceded to be merely human and fallible, and if they have already been changed and amended to suit changed conditions, is it not inconsistent for the Bishop to treat them now as sacred, unquestionable, unalterable; and to claim that rights once conceded are therefore "inviolable," "natural" and indisputable "either in the order of nature or in the constitution of mankind"; and that the very suggestion of a modification of the laws and social regulations to better adapt them to present conditions is "wild" and "irrational"?
The Bishop, it will be noted, took opposite ground from that taken by Dr. Abbott on the question of labor as a commodity, subject to the conditions of supply and demand. He saw in this the law of our present social system, and said that it must continue. He was correct in seeing that Labor must continue a commodity (to be bought as cheap as Capital can purchase it, and to be sold at as high a price as Labor can obtain for it) so long as the present social system continues. This, however, will not be for many years, as indicated by prophecy and as discerned by other able minds in closer touch with the people and their unrest.
From the Bishop's standpoint the only hope of a peaceful solution of the differences between Capital and Labor is, (1) a conversion of all the wealthy to the loving and benevolent conditions particularized in the last two paragraphs above quoted; and (2) a conversion of all the poor and middle classes [D429] to that godliness and contentment where they can accept with thanks whatever the wealthy are pleased to let them have of the earth and the fulness thereof, and shout "Blessed are we poor!" This, we admit, would solve the Labor Question, quickly and thoroughly; but no sane people are looking for such a solution in the near future; nor do the Scriptures so portray. We cannot suppose that this intelligent Bishop really offers his suggestions as a remedy; rather we assume him to mean, that he sees no other than this impossible solution, and that hence civilization will shortly be smitten with the curse of Anarchy. Would that the gentleman might see God's remedy for which our Lord taught us to hope and pray—"Thy Kingdom come"—and the way in which that Kingdom is to be set up in power and dominion. Dan. 2:44,45; 7:22,27; Rev. 2:27.
"The history of the arrogant and rapacious race to which we belong has been the record of incessant and bloody struggles for personal liberty. Wars have been waged, dynasties overthrown and monarchs beheaded, not for conquest, for ambition, for glory, but that man might be free. Privilege and prerogative have stubbornly and reluctantly yielded through many sanguinary centuries to the indomitable passion for individual liberty. From the Magna Charta to Appomattox is a far cry; but there was no moment of that 652 years in which the race ceased or hesitated in its resolute and unflinching battle for the equality of all men before the law. It was for this that the barons bullied King John; that Latimer burned; that Hampden fell; that the compact in the cabin of the Mayflower was drawn; that the Declaration of Independence was promulgated; that John Brown, of Osawatomie, died; that the legions [D430] of Grant and Sheridan marched and conquered, willing to relinquish life and all its possessions rather than surrender the franchises of liberty.
"The dream of the centuries has at last been realized. From the brutal and bloody tumult of history, man has at last emerged lord of himself; but the perplexing enigmas of faith remain. Men are equal, but there is no equality. Suffrage is universal but political power is exerted by a few; poverty has not been abolished. The burdens and privileges of society are unequally borne. Some have wealth beyond the capacity of extravagance to squander, and others pray in vain for daily bread. Baffled and thwarted by these incongruities, exasperated it may be by suffering and want, disappointed in the effects of political liberty upon individual happiness and prosperity, many have yielded to a disquietude so searching and profound as to indicate the necessity for the active coalition of the conservative forces in our society.
"In the evolutionary movement, upon which society of the United States has entered, there are no precedents in history, because the conditions are anomalous, and a scientific solution is therefore impossible. While the conditions of the masses of the people have been enormously improved by social progress, the application of science to industry, and the invention of machinery, it cannot be doubted that poverty is more hostile to society, more dangerous to the institutions of self-government and to the personal liberty that has been gained after so many centuries of conflict than ever before. The reasons are obvious. The laborer is free; he is a voter; his self-respect is increased; his sensibility has become acute; his wants have been multiplied more rapidly than the means of gratification; education has elevated him above the condition of menial toil. The daily newspaper has familiarized him with the advantages that wealth gives its possessors. He has been taught that all men have been created equal, and he believes that while rights are equaled, opportunities are not. Modern science has [D431] armed him with formidable weapons, and when hunger comes nothing is so sacred as the necessities of wife and children.
"The social crisis in all civilized countries, and especially in ours, is becoming more formidable. The muttered thunder of sullen discontent grows nearer hour by hour. While I believe that the serene and resolute genius of the Anglo-Saxon race will prove equal to this, as it has to every other emergency, and that it will not relinquish the possessions it has acquired by incredible sacrifices, yet it is apparent that the battle is not ended; that man is no longer content with equality of rights and with equality of opportunity, but that he will demand equality of conditions as the law of the ideal state.
"It is obvious also that social degradation is inconsistent with self-government, and that hopeless and helpless poverty is incompatible with personal freedom. The man who is absolutely dependent upon another for means of subsistence for himself and family, which may be taken away altogether by the employer at pleasure, is not in any just sense free. In one hundred years we have become the wealthiest of all the nations. Our resources are gigantic. The statistics of our earnings and accumulations astonish even credulity. Money is abundant, food is plentiful; fabrics and labor are in ample supply; but notwithstanding this fecundity the paradox of civilization remains: the majority of the people struggle for existence, and a fraction subsists in abject and wretched penury.
"That such conditions should exist seems to impeach Supreme Wisdom. To admit that want, misery or ignorance are an inevitable inheritance makes the brotherhood of man sardonic irony and the code of the moral universe unintelligible. The disappointment engendered by these conditions is deepening into distrust of the principles upon which society is founded and a disposition to change the basis upon which it rests. This distrust it is your most important mission to allay, and this revolution it is your most important duty to resist.
"The popular remedies proposed for the reformation of the evils and defects and infirmities of modern society may [D432] be roughly classed in two groups, the first of which proposes to redress grievance by changing political institutions. This method is erroneous and must be ineffectual, because it rests upon the fallacy that material prosperity is a result of freedom, the truth being that political liberty is the consequence and not the cause of material progress. Much has been written by poets and dreamers in praise of poverty, and the love of money has been denounced as the root of all evil, but the fact remains that, honestly acquired and wisely employed, there is no form of power so substantial, positive and palpable as that which accompanies the possession of money.
"There is no condition so deplorable, so depressing, so destructive of all that is noblest in man, all that is most elevating in domestic life, all that is most inspiring in destiny, as hopeless, squalid, helpless poverty, want, hunger, the wages of the sweatshop, embers, rags and a crust. As your trained intelligence is directed to the investigation of the problems of the times, you will not fail to observe that this element of our society is constantly increasing."
Here we have a clear and able statement of facts, as all, rich or poor, must acknowledge. But it contains no remedy: not even the suggestion that the new batch of lawyers and politicians should seek a remedy. They are merely counseled to allay distrust in others, however much they feel it themselves, and to resist every change of the present system while they seek to keep above its grind themselves.
Why this advice? Is it because this able man despises his humbler brother? By no means; but because he sees the inevitable operation of liberty—"individualism"—selfishness—with its implied liberty to compete, and for each to do the best he can for himself. Looking into the past he says, "What hath been shall be." He does not see that we are in the end of the present age, in the dawn of the Millennium, that only the power of the Lord's Anointed King of all the earth can bring order out of all this confusion; and that, in [D433] God's wise providence, men are now brought face to face with these perplexing problems which no human wisdom can solve, and with calamitous conditions which no human foresight or policy can avert or dispel, so that in due time, in their extremity and peril, they will be glad to recognize and submit to the divine intervention and to cease from their own works and be taught of God. He whose right the kingdom is is about to "take unto himself his great power and reign," to bring order out of chaos, to glorify his Church, as his "bride," and with and through her to end the woes of the sin-burdened, groaning creation and bless all the families of the earth. Only those who have the "true light" can see the glorious outcome of this present dark time, which is puzzling the wise.
Col. Ingersoll was known as a wise man according to the course of this world. Although a noted infidel, he was a man of marked ability and of more than usual sound judgment, except in religious matters, where no man's judgment is sound except as informed and guided by the Word and spirit of the Lord. As a lawyer, Mr. Ingersoll's advice was so highly esteemed that he has been known to receive $250 for thirty minutes counsel. This active brain has also been employed in grappling with the great problems of this perplexing time; yet neither had he any remedy to suggest. He expressed his views of the situation in a lengthy article in the Twentieth Century, from which we give a brief extract. He said:
"Invention has filled the world with competitors, not only of laborers, but of mechanics—mechanics of the highest skill. Today the ordinary laborer is, for the most part, a [D434] cog in the wheel. He works with the tireless, he feeds the insatiable. When the monster stops the man is out of employment—out of bread. He has not saved anything. The machine that he fed was not feeding him—the invention was not for his benefit. The other day I heard a man say that for thousands of good mechanics it was almost impossible to get employment, and that in his judgment the government ought to furnish employment to the people. A few minutes after I heard another say that he was selling a patent for cutting out clothes; that one of the machines could do the work of twenty tailors, and that only the week before he had sold two to a great house in New York, and that over forty cutters had been discharged. The capitalist comes forward with his specific. He tells the workingman that he must be economical—and yet, under the present system, economy would only lessen wages. Under the great law of supply and demand every saving, frugal, self-denying workingman is unconsciously doing what little he can to reduce the compensation of himself and his fellows. The saving mechanic is a certificate that wages are high enough.
"Capital has always claimed, and still claims, the right to combine. Manufacturers meet and determine prices, even in spite of the great law of supply and demand. Have the laborers the same right to consult and combine? The rich meet in the bank, clubhouse or parlor. Workingmen, when they combine, gather in the street. All the organized forces of society are against them. Capital has the army and the navy, the legislature, the judicial and executive departments. When the rich combine, it is for the purpose of 'exchanging ideas.' When the poor combine, it is a 'conspiracy.' If they act in concert, if they really do something, it is a 'mob.' If they defend themselves, it is 'treason.' How is it that the rich control the departments of government? There are times when mendicants become revolutionists—when a rag becomes a banner, under which the noblest and the bravest battle for the right.
"How are we to settle the unequal contest between man and machine? Will the machines finally go into partnership with the laborer? Can these forces of nature be controlled [D435] for the benefit of nature's suffering children? Will extravagance keep pace with ingenuity? Will the workmen become intelligent enough and strong enough to become the owners of machines? Can man become intelligent enough to be generous, to be just; or does the same law or fact control him that controls the animal or vegetable world? In the days of cannibalism the strong devoured the weak—actually ate their flesh. In spite of all the laws that man has made, in spite of all advances in science, the strong, the heartless, still live on the weak, the unfortunate, and the foolish. When I take into consideration the agony of civilized life—the failures, the anxieties, the tears, the withered hopes, the bitter realities, the hunger, the crime, the humiliation, the shame—I am almost forced to say that cannibalism, after all, is the most merciful form in which man has ever lived upon his fellowman.
"It is impossible for a man with a good heart to be satisfied with the world as it now is. No man can truly enjoy even what he earns—what he knows to be his own—knowing that millions of his fellowmen are in misery and want. When we think of the famished, we feel that it is almost heartless to eat. To meet the ragged and shivering makes one almost ashamed to be well dressed and warm—one feels as though his heart were as cold as their bodies.
"Is there to be no change? Are the 'laws of supply and demand,' invention and science, monopoly and competition, capital and legislation, always to be the enemies of those who toil? Will the workers always be ignorant enough and stupid enough to give their earnings for the useless? Will they support millions of soldiers to kill the sons of other workingmen? Will they always build temples and live in dens and huts themselves? Will they forever allow parasites and vampires to live upon their blood? Will they remain the slaves of the beggars they support? Will honest men stop taking off their hats to successful fraud? Will industry, in the presence of crowned idleness, forever fall upon its knees? Will they understand that beggars cannot be generous, and that every healthy man must earn the right to live? Will they finally say that the man who has had equal privileges [D436] with all others has no right to complain, or will they follow the example set by their oppressors? Will they learn that force, to succeed, must have thought behind it, and that anything done in order that it may endure must rest upon the cornerstone of justice?"
The argument here set forth is poor, weak, hopeless and suggestionless; and coming from a wise man and a fine logician merely shows that the wise men of this world see the malady but can see no remedy. The learned gentleman points out the causes of the difficulty clearly enough, and their inevitableness, and then says, to workmen, practically—"Don't you let them (invention, science, competition, etc.) crowd you down and hurt you!" But he suggests no means of deliverance, except it be in the query, "Will the workmen become intelligent enough and strong enough to become the owners of machines?"
But suppose they had machines and quite sufficient capital to operate them! Could such factories and machines be operated more successfully than others? Could they long be successfully operated as benevolent concerns and not for profit? Would they not do their share to increase "overproduction" and cause "shutdowns," making their own and other workmen idle? Do we not know that if the mill or shop were run on the principle of equal pay for all employed, it would speedily either become bankrupt because it paid too much for wages, or else the more skillful would be drawn by better pay to other situations, or to private operations on their individual account? In a word, self-interest, selfishness, is so ingrained in fallen human nature and so much a part of the present social structure that whoever does not count on it will quickly learn his mistake.
The closing sentence quoted is very smooth, but very barren of help for the emergency. It is like a glass nest egg. It serves instead of a solution, until you break it open and attempt to eat it. "Will they [the workmen] learn that force, [D437] to succeed, must have thought behind it?" Yes; all know that; and that thought must have brains; and that the brains must be of good quality and arrangement. All can see that if all had brains of equal caliber and force the battle between man and man would be so equal that a truce would be speedily arranged, and each other's rights and interests provided for; or, more probably, the fight would have come sooner and been severer. But no one knows better than did Mr. Ingersoll that no earthly power could produce such a condition of mental equality.
The fourth paragraph quoted is most creditable to the great man. It finds an echo in every noble soul, of which we trust there are many. But others, in moderate circumstances, or even wealthy like Mr. Ingersoll, decide as he no doubt did decide, that they are as powerless to obstruct or to alter the social trend which sweeps along the channel of the fallen human nature, by casting into it their money and influence, as they would be to stop Niagara Falls by casting their bodies thereinto. A momentary splash and commotion is all that there would be in either case.
The claim is frequently made that Labor has been discriminated against by legislation favoring the rich and injurious to the interests of the poor; and that a reversal of this would be a cure-all remedy. Nothing could be further from the truth, and we are glad to have a summary of United States Labor legislation by so well qualified a gentleman as former U. S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas, in the New York Tribune, Oct. 17, 1896, as follows:
"The courts in many instances are directed to enter judgment in favor of a laborer who has to bring suit to recover his wages or enforce his rights against a corporation for a stated sum to cover his attorney's fees.
"Laws have been passed regulating passenger and freight charges on railroads and other transportation lines, and also of public warehouses and elevators, and National and State commissions have been created to supervise railway traffic, by which charges have been reduced two-thirds or more.
"It is made a misdemeanor in many of the States to blacklist a poor man who has been discharged from service or has failed to pay his debts, and it is made a misdemeanor to threaten by postal card through the mails to sue a debtor, or by the use of any device to reflect on him.
"Postages have been reduced, entailing a loss to the government of $8,000,000 annually in carrying the mails, under the operation of which the people get the country newspapers free of postage, and the best magazines and periodicals have been made so cheap as to put them within the reach of the poor.
"The employees in the public service are allowed leave of absence with pay for thirty days in some instances, and fifteen days in others, and an additional thirty days for sickness of themselves or families.
"The coolie trade, the importation of laborers under contract, the labor of convicts of the United States, the further immigration of Chinese, the importation of convict-labor-made-goods, and the peonage system have been forbidden by law.
"Those employed in the public service are allowed pay for the National holidays—the first day of January, the 22nd of February, Decoration Day, the 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and the 25th of December.
"Last, though not least, public schools have been established, so that now the annual expenditure for tuition alone in them is more than $160,000,000, and for buildings, interest on loans and other expenses, probably the further sum of $40,000,000 or more.
"Innumerable other laws of less importance, looking in the same direction as the above, and extending into the minutest details of the relations between employers of labor, whether corporations, partnerships or individuals, and employees, have been passed by Congress and by the Legislatures of the various States.
"All these laws were passed and these benefactions granted by the rich as well as the poor. Indeed, the history of this country for the last quarter of a century shows that men and women of all classes alike have taxed their ingenuity to the utmost limit to devise laws for the benefit, education and elevation of the masses of the people, and this has been carried so far that many thoughtful men fear that it will, if the present course continues, land in State Socialism. There is no question that the trend of public opinion among the people has been for many years in that direction."
So then, if all has been done by legislation that can be done, and still the unrest increases, it is evidently hopeless [D441] to look in that direction for a remedy. Mr. Thomas evidently had also reached the conclusion that the conflict is irrepressible.
"No reform, moral or intellectual, ever came from the upper class of society. Each and all came from the protest of the martyr and victim. The emancipation of the working people must be achieved by the working people themselves."
Very true; very wise; but neither did Mr. Phillips offer any practical suggestion as to how the working-people are to emancipate themselves from the sure outcome on selfish principles of the Law of Supply and Demand (backed by mental and physical inequalities), inexorable as the law of gravitation. He knew not what to recommend. Revolution, as all know, might work local and temporary changes, beneficial or otherwise, but what would revolution avail against universal conditions and competition? As well might we revolt against the rising of the ocean tide, and attempt to sweep it back with brooms, or to gather the surplus in barrels.
"It is clear as the daylight that your government will never be able to hold under control a suffering and angry majority, because in your country the government is in the hands of the masses, and the rich, who are in the minority, are absolutely at their mercy. A day will come in the state of New York when the multitude, between half a breakfast and the hope of half a dinner, will elect your legislators. Is it [D442] possible to have any doubt as to the kind of legislators that will be elected?
"You will be obliged to do those things which render prosperity impossible. Then some Caesar or Napoleon will take the reins of government in hand. Your Republic will be pillaged and ravaged in the twentieth century, just as the Roman empire was by the barbarians of the fifth century, with this difference, that the devastators of the Roman empire, the Huns and Vandals, came from abroad, while your barbarians will be the natives of your own country, and the product of your own institutions."
It did not occur to this man of large acquaintance with human nature, in both rich and poor, to suggest as a probability that the rich might unselfishly espouse the cause of the majority and acquiesce in the enactment of such large and benevolent laws as would lift the masses gradually to competency and render it impossible for anyone to amass more than half a million dollars worth of wealth. No; Mr. Macaulay knew that such a proposition was unworthy of consideration, and hence his prediction, which is in line with God's testimony as to the results of selfishness, a great time of trouble.
Moreover, since he thus wrote, the ballot has been demanded by Mr. Macaulay's own countrymen, the British public, and they got their demand. It has been demanded by the Belgians and the Germans, and has been granted. It was demanded and taken by force by the French. It is being demanded in Austro-Hungary, and will be exercised ere long by the Italians. So that the very catastrophe so confidently predicted for the United States impends also over "Christendom" entire. Macaulay saw no hope, and had no suggestions to offer, except what others also offered; namely, that the rich and influential forcibly take control and sit on the safety valve as long as possible—until the explosion occurs.
Amongst the able and broad thinkers of the world today is also the Hon. Chauncey M. Depew, LL. D. A wise man, he frequently gives good advice; and we are glad to have his views of the present situation. Speaking to the graduating class of the Chicago University, and others, as orator of its Tenth Convocation, he said, among other things:
"Education has not only made possible the marvelous growth of our country, and the wonderful opportunity it affords for employment and fortunes, but it has lifted our people out of the methods and habits of the past, and we can no longer live as our fathers did.
"The common school and the high school, with their superior advantages, have cultivated us so that the refinements of life make broader and more intelligent men, and brighter, more beautiful and more large-souled women. It lifts them above the plane of the European peasant. While education and liberty have made the Americans a phenomenal people, they have also, in a measure, raised the standards of living and its demands in the older countries of Europe. The Indian laborer can live under a thatch in a single room with breech clout for clothes and a pan of rice for food. But the American mechanic wants his home with its several rooms. He has learned, and his children have learned, the value of works of art. They have all become familiar with the better food and the better clothing and the better life which constitute not luxury but comfort, and which make up and ought to make up the citizens of our Republic.
"Masterful men of great foresight and courage have seized upon the American opportunity to accumulate vast fortunes. The masses, who have not been equally fortunate, look upon them and say: 'We have not an equal share in these opportunities.' This is not the place nor have I time to even hint at the solution of these difficulties, or the solving of these problems. That the genius exists among us to meet them if need be by legislation, if need be by other processes, no man in his senses can doubt. We require for our time [D444] more education, more college students and more college opportunities. Every young man who goes out from these foundations into the world goes out as a missionary of light and knowledge. He will stand in the community where he will settle, for an intelligent, broad and patriotic appreciation of the situation in the country and in the neighborhood. The graduates of the four hundred universities of the country are the lieutenants and the captains, the colonels, the brigadier-generals and the major-generals of that army of American progress to which we all belong.
"The world which our young man enters today is a very different one from that which his father or grandfather or ancestors of one hundred years ago knew anything about. Fifty years ago he would have graduated at a denominational college and fallen into the church of his fathers and of his faculty. Fifty years ago he would have dropped into the party to which his father belonged. He would have accepted his religious creed from the village pastor and his political principles from the National platform of his father's party. But today he graduates at a college where the denominational line is loosely drawn, and finds that the members of his family have drifted into all churches and are professing all creeds, and he must select for himself the church in which he shall find his home, and the doctrines upon which he shall base his faith. He discovers that the ties of party have been loosened by false leaders or incompetent ones, and by the failure of party organizations to meet the exigencies of the country and the demands of the tremendous development of the times. Those who should be his advisers say to him, 'Son, judge for thyself and for thy country.' Thus, at the very threshold, he requires an equipment which his father did not need for his duties as a citizen or for the foundations of his faith and principles. He starts out at the close of this marvelous nineteenth century to be told from the pulpit and the platform and by the press, and to see from his own observations, that there are revolutionary conditions in the political, the financial and the industrial world which threaten the stability of the State, the position of the church, the foundations of society and the safety of property. But while precept and prophecy are of [D445] disaster, he should not despair. Every young man should be an optimist. Every young man should believe that tomorrow will be better than today, and look forward with unfaltering hope for the morrow, while doing his full duty for today.
"That the problems are difficult and the situation acute, we all admit. But it is the province of education to solve problems and remove acute conditions. Our period is the paradox of civilization. Heretofore our course has been a matter of easy interpretation and plain sailing by the navigation books of the past. But we stand five years from the twentieth century, facing conditions which are almost as novel as if a vast convulsion had hurled us through space and we found ourselves sitting beside one of the canals of Mars.
"Steam and electricity have made the centuries of the Christian era down to ours count for nothing. They have brought about a unity of production and markets which upsets all the calculations and all the principles of action of the past. They have united the world in an instantaneous communication which has overthrown the limitations which formerly were controlled by time and distance, or could be fixed by legislation. The prices of cotton on the Ganges or the Amazon, of wheat on the plateaus of the Himalayas or in the delta of the Nile, or in the Argentines, of this morning, with all the factors of currency, of climate and wages, which control the cost of their production, are instantly reflected at noon at Liverpool, at New Orleans, at Savannah, at Mobile, at Chicago and at New York. They send a thrill or a chill through the plantations of the South and the farmhouses of the West. The farmers of Europe and America are justly complaining of their condition. The rural populations are rushing to the cities and infinitely increasing the difficulties of municipal government. Capitalists are striving to form combinations which shall float with the tide or stem it, and labor organizations, with limited success, are endeavoring to create a situation which they believe will be best for themselves. The tremendous progress of the last fifty years, the revolutions which have been worked by steam, electricity and invention, the correlation [D446] of forces working on one side of the globe and producing instantaneous effects on the other, have so changed the relations of peoples and industries that the world has not yet adjusted itself to them. The reliance of the present and future must be upon education, so that supreme intelligence may bring order out of the chaos produced by this nineteenth century earthquake of opportunities and powers.
"There have always been crises in the world. They have been the efforts and aspirations of mankind for something better and higher, and have ultimately culminated in some tremendous movement for liberty. These revolutions have been attended by infinite suffering, the slaughter of millions and the devastation of provinces and kingdoms. The Crusades lifted Europe out of the slavery of feudalism, the French revolution broke the bonds of caste. Napoleon was the leader and wonder worker, though selfishly so, of modern universal suffrage and parliamentary government. The aspiration of all the centuries has been for liberty, and more liberty. The expectation has been that when liberty was gained there would be universal happiness and peace. The English speaking peoples have secured liberty in its largest and fullest sense; that liberty where the people are their own governors, legislators and masters. The paradox of it all is that with the liberty which we all hold as our greatest blessing has come a discontent greater than the world has ever known. The socialist movement in Germany grows from one hundred thousand votes ten years ago to some millions in 1894. The Republican elements in France become more radical and threatening month by month. The agrarian and labor troubles of Great Britain are beyond any ability of her statesmen to overcome except by makeshifts from day to day. There was an Anarchist riot in Chicago, when only the disciplined valor of a small corps of policemen saved the great city from the horrors of pillage and the sack. A single man created an organization of railway employees in a few months, so strong that under his order twenty millions of people were paralyzed in their industries and their movements, and all the elements which constitute the support of communities temporarily suspended. So potential was the uprising that two Governors [D447] surrendered, and the Mayor of our Western metropolis took his orders from the leader of the revolt. Industrial and commercial losses of incalculable extent were averted only by the strong arm of the Federal Government.
"Another of the paradoxes of our quarter of a century is that every artisan and mechanic and the laborer in every department today, with shorter hours of labor, receives twenty-five per cent, and in many cases fifty per cent, more than he did thirty years ago. While he receives thus one-third more than he did thirty years ago, his dollar will buy in clothes and food twice as much as it did thirty years ago. One would think that the laborer ought to be supremely happy when he compares the past with the present, and that beyond his living he ought to be laying up in savings bank the fund which would speedily make him a capitalist. And yet he feels a discontent which his father, thirty years ago, with one-third the wages and his dollar buying one-half as much, never knew. This all comes of education !"
[Mr. Depew takes no notice of the fact that thirty years ago there was an abundance of work. The supply of human skill and muscle being far less than the demand, men were urged to work "double turn" on railroads as well as in mills and factories; while immigrants also came by the million and promptly found employment. But now the labor supply greatly exceeds the demand in every direction, being superseded by machinery. Now, although wages are not bad, the people, the masses, cannot secure steady demand and employment for their services; and, inevitably, wages are falling.]
"We are fighting the battles not only of today, but for all time; we are developing this country not only for ourselves but for posterity. We have overcome slavery, we have extirpated polygamy, and our only remaining enemy is ignorance.
[But if the partial destruction of ignorance by education has brought all the discontent and ills above recounted, how much anarchy and what awful trouble would a thorough [D448] education cost! Mr. Depew declares that he is not here discussing the remedy for all these ills and discontent, but doubtless he would have been glad to do so if he knew a remedy; and here he declares that it will be remedied "in some way or other" which is a tacit admission that he knows no specific remedy to suggest.]
"The people who are discontented are the governors and rulers, and must solve their own problems. They can elect their own Congresses and presidents. They cannot revolt against themselves nor cut their own throats. Sooner or later, and in some way or other, they will solve their problems, but it will be by and through the law. It will be by destructive or constructive methods.
"The inquiry is natural, 'With all the prosperity and progress of the world, why this discontent?' The rapidity of invention and the opportunities afforded by electricity and steam have destroyed in the last twenty-five years sixty per cent of the capital of the world and thrown forty per cent of its labor out of employment. The triple expansion engine, the invention of a new motor, the reduplication of forces by a new application of machinery makes useless all the old ones. It does more, it compels the skilled artisan, in the loss of the tool by which he earned his living, and which is no longer of any use, to fall back into the vast mass of common laborers. At the same time these very forces, which have thus destroyed the majority of values and thrown out of employment so many people, have created new conditions which have added beyond the power of calculation to the wealth of the world and the opportunities of its people for living, comfort and happiness. But to enjoy its opportunities, its comforts and its happiness a better education becomes necessary."
It is very evident that Mr. Depew is well posted in labor matters and that he has made a study of the conditions which have led up to the status which now confronts the world. But what remedy does he offer? It was perhaps only courtesy and a sense of propriety that led the gentleman, in addressing a college class, to suggest that ignorance is the "enemy" causing present ills and threatening the future. [D449] But that education cannot prove a remedy no one should know better than Mr. Depew. Very few of the millionaires of today ever received a college education. Cornelius Vanderbilt was uneducated, a ferryman, whose keen business instincts guided him to wealth. He foresaw the increase of travel, and invested in steamboats and railroads. The original John Jacob Astor was uneducated, a trader in furs and skins. Foreseeing the growth of New York City he invested in its real estate and thus laid the basis of the fortunes of the present generation of Astors.
The following list of American millionaires who have given a million dollars or more to colleges has gone the rounds of the press, together with the statement that not one of these wealthy and intelligent men ever enjoyed a college education:
"Stephen Girard, to Girard College, $8,000,000; John D. Rockefeller, to Chicago University, $7,000,000; George Peabody, to various foundations, $6,000,000; Leland Stanford, to Stanford University, $5,000,000; Asa Parker, to Lehigh University, $3,500,000; Paul Tulane, to Tulane University, New Orleans, $2,500,000; Isaac Rich, to Boston University, $2,000,000; Jonas G. Clark, to Clark University, Worcester, Mass., $2,000,000; the Vanderbilts, to Vanderbilt University, at least $1,775,000; James Lick, to the University of California, $1,600,000; John C. Green, to Princeton, $1,500,000; William C. DePauw, to Asbury, now DePauw University, $1,500,000; A. J. Drexel, to the Drexel Industrial School, $1,500,000; Leonard Case, to the Cleveland School of Applied Sciences, $1,500,000; Peter Cooper, to Cooper Union, $1,200,000; Ezra Cornell and Henry W. Sage, to Cornell University, each $1,100,000; Charles Pratt, to the Pratt Institute of Brooklyn, $2,700,000."
Although a college education is valuable, it is by no means a remedy for present conditions. Indeed, if every man [D450] in Europe and America were a college graduate today, the conditions would be worse, instead of better, than they now are. Mr. Depew admits this in the above quotations, when he says that the mechanic "feels a discontent which his father, thirty years ago, with one-third the wages, and his dollar buying one-half as much, never knew. All this comes of education." Yes, indeed, and the more general the education the more general the discontent. Education is excellent, and greatly to be desired; but it is not the remedy. While it is true that some righteous, noble men have been rich, it is also true that some of the most wicked men have been educated men and some of the most holy men have been "unlearned," like the apostles. The more education a wicked man has the greater his discontent and the greater his power for evil. The world needs new hearts—"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me!" (Psa. 51:10) The world's need is thus prophetically declared, and the demonstrations that much more than education and intelligence is necessary to happiness and peace, are coming, and will ultimately be generally recognized. "Godliness with contentment is great gain"; and only if this foundation be first laid can education be guaranteed to be a great blessing. The selfish hearts and the spirit of the world are at variance with the spirit of love, and no compromise will avail. Education, "knowledge increased," among the masses is bringing the social crisis and its ultimate result, anarchy.
While attending a convocation of the Protestant Episcopal Church in New York City, Bishop Worthington's views respecting the social commotion were gleaned by a newspaper man and published broadcast on Oct. 25, 1896. He is reported to have said:
"The trouble with the farmer, in my judgment, is that we have carried our free educational system entirely too far. Of course, I know that this view will be considered as a bit of heresy, but still I believe it. The farmer's sons—a great many of them—who have absolutely no ability to rise, get a taste of education and follow it up. They will never amount to anything—that is, many of them—and they become dissatisfied to follow in the walk of life that God intended they should, and drift into the cities. It is the overeducation of those who are not qualified to receive it that fills our cities while the farms lie idle."
The Bishop takes an opposite view from that advocated by Mr. Depew. He agrees better with the Director General of Education in Russia, to whose declaration against educating the poorer classes we have already referred. We agree with both as to the fact that education generally enlarges the ambitions and restless discontent. But surely the Bishop will concede that matters have already gone too far, in this land of liberty and education, to hope to stifle the rising discontent by extinguishing the lamp of knowledge. Good or bad, the education and the discontent are here and cannot and will not be ignored.
"To talk about the overeducation of the farmer's sons and to attribute the difficulties which surround us today to overeducation, is, to my mind, one of the most cruel things a man ever uttered. The idea of saying that farmers' sons, who are not able to rise in life, get a taste of education, and enjoy the taste so much that they follow it up and become dissatisfied with the farm and drift into the cities! The idea of saying that there is overeducation among our farmers' sons! My friends, do you know what that language means? [D452] It means a reversal of the progress of civilization and a march toward the Dark Ages again.
"How can you tell which one of the farmers' sons is going to prove a great man until you have educated them all? Are we to select a commission to go around and pick out the ones that are to be educated?
"Ah, my friends, there is another reason why people have gone into the cities and left the farms. It is because your legislation has been causing the foreclosure of mortgages on the farmers and the farms. It is because your legislation has been making the farmer's life harder for the farmer; it is because the non-producing classes have been producing the laws and making it more profitable to gamble in farm products than to produce them.
"The idea of laying the blame of the present condition at the farmer's door! The idea of suggesting as a remedy the closing of schools in order that the people may not become dissatisfied! Why, my friends, there will be dissatisfaction so long as the cause for dissatisfaction exists. Instead of attempting to prevent people realizing their condition, why don't these critics try to improve the condition of the farmers of this country?"
"Throughout the world seething unrest, conflicting interests, and cross currents keep civilized mankind in a perpetual state of excitement. The tension of nerve and mind becomes more intense week by week almost; at short intervals some startling event shakes the political and commercial world with seismic force, and men realize what accumulated elements of disaster lurk beneath the surface of society. Politicians, while they strive to modify the course of these forces, frankly admit they cannot thoroughly control them or foretell their results.
"In the confusion of endless theories, proposals, experiments and prophecies, on two points the greatest thinkers are agreed. On the one hand they see impending a great catastrophe which shall convulse the whole world and shatter the present structure of political and social life, the forces of [D453] destruction having to exhaust themselves before the formative ones can reconstruct the social fabric on a surer foundation. On the other hand they agree that never did nations more long for peace, or more clearly see the duty and advantages of cultivating unity and fraternal concord, than at the present moment."
It is the same throughout the whole civilized world. All intelligent people see the dilemma more or less clearly, but few have anything to suggest as a remedy. Not all however: some well-meaning people think that they can solve the problem, but only because they fail to get the situation clearly outlined before their mental optics. These will be examined in a subsequent chapter.
"If you would form a vivid conception of the economical absurdity of the competitive system in industry, consider merely the fact that its only method of improving the quality or reducing the price of goods is by overdoing their production. Cheapness, in other words, can only result under competition from duplication and waste of effort. But things which are produced with waste of effort are really dear, whatever they may be called. Therefore goods produced under competition are being made cheap only by being made dear. Such is the reductio ad absurdum of the system. It is a fact often true that the goods which we pay the least for, are in the end the most expensive to the nation owing to the wasteful competition which keeps down the price. All waste must in the end mean loss, and therefore about once in seven years the country has to go into insolvency as the result of a system which sets three men to fighting for work which one man could do.
"To speak of the moral iniquities of competition would be to enter on too large a theme for this time, and I only advert in passing to one feature of our present industrial system, in which it would be hard to say whether inhumanity [D454] or economic folly predominated, and refer to the grotesque manner in which the burden of work is distributed. The industrial press-gang robs the cradle and the grave, takes the wife and mother from the fireside, and old age from the chimney-corner, while at the same time hundreds of thousands of strong men fill the land with clamors for an opportunity to work. The women and children are delivered to the taskmasters, while the men can find nothing to do. There is no work for the fathers, but there is plenty for the babies.
"What, then, is the secret of this alarm over the approaching doom of a system under which nothing can be done properly without doing it twice, which can do no business without overdoing it, which can produce nothing without overproduction, which in a land full of want cannot find employment for strong and eager hands, and finally which gets along at all only at the cost of a total collapse every few years, followed by a lingering convalescence?
"When a bad king is mourned by his people, the conclusion must be that the heir to the throne is a still worse case. That appears to be, in fact, the explanation of the present distress over the decay of the competitive system. It is because there is fear of going from bad to worse, and that the little finger of combination will be thicker than the loins of competition; that while the latter system has chastised the people with whips, the Trusts will scourge them with scorpions. Like the children of Israel in the desert, this new and strange peril causes the timid to sigh even for the iron rule of Pharaoh. Let us see if there be not also in this case a promised land, by the prospect of which faint hearts may be encouraged.
"Let us first inquire whether a return to the old order of things, the free competitive system, is possible. A brief consideration of the causes which have led to the present world-wide movement for the substitution of combination in business for competition will surely convince any one that, of all revolutions, this is the least likely to go backward. It is a result of the increase in the efficiency of capital in great masses, consequent upon the invention of the last and present generations. In former epochs the size and [D455] scope of business enterprises were subject to natural restrictions. There were limits to the amount of capital that could be used to advantage by one management. Today there are no limits, save the earth's confines, to the scope of any business undertaking; and not only no limit to the amount of capital that can be used by one concern, but an increase in the efficiency and security of the business proportionate to the amount of capital in it. The economics in management resulting from consolidation, as well as the control over the market resulting from the monopoly of a staple, are also solid business reasons for the advent of the Trust. It must not be supposed, however, that the principle of combination has been extended to those businesses only which call themselves Trusts. That would be greatly to underestimate the movement. There are many forms of combination less close than the Trust, and comparatively few businesses are now conducted without some understanding approaching to a combination with its former competitors—a combination tending constantly to become closer.
"From the time that these new conditions began to prevail, the small businesses have been disappearing before the larger; the process has not been so rapid as people fancy whose attention has but lately been called to it. For twenty years past the great corporations have been carrying on a war of extermination against the swarm of small industrial enterprises which are the red blood corpuscles of a free competitive system, and with the decay of which it dies. While the economists have been wisely debating whether we could dispense with the principle of individual initiative in business, that principle has passed away, and now belongs to history. Except in a few obscure corners of the business world there is at present no opportunity for individual initiative in business unless backed by a large capital; and the size of the capital needed is rapidly increasing. Meanwhile the same increase in the efficiency of capital in masses, which has destroyed the small businesses, has reduced the giants which have destroyed them to the necessity of making terms with one another. As in Bulwer Lytton's fancy of the coming race, the people of the Vril-ya had to give up [D456] war because their arms became so destructive as to threaten mutual annihilation, so the modern business world finds that the increase in the size and powers of the organizations of capital, demands the suppression of competition between them for the sake of self-preservation.
"The first great group of business enterprises which adopted the principle of combining instead of competing, made it necessary for every other group sooner or later to do the same or perish. For as the corporation is more powerful than the individual, so the syndicate overtops the corporation. The action of governments to check this logical necessity of economical evolution can produce nothing more than eddies in a current which nothing can check. Every week sees some new tract of what was once the great open sea of competition, wherein merchant adventurers used to fare forth with little capital beside their courage and come home loaded—every week now sees some new tract of this once open sea inclosed, dammed up, and turned into the private fish-pond of a syndicate. To say that from the present look of things the substantial consolidation of the various groups of industries in the country, under a few score great syndicates, is likely to be complete within fifteen years (1889-1905) is certainly not to venture a wholly rash statement.
"So great an economic change as is involved in taking the conduct of the country's industries out of the hands of the people and concentrating them in the management of a few great Trusts, could not of course be without important social reaction; and this is a reaction which is going to effect peculiarly what is called the middle class. It is no longer a question merely for the poor and uneducated, what they are to do with their work; but for the educated and well-to-do, also, where they are to find business to do and business investments to make. This difficulty cannot fail constantly to increase, as one tract after another of the formerly free field of competition is inclosed by a new syndicate. The middle class, the business class, is being turned into a proletarian class.
"It is not difficult to forecast the ultimate issue of the concentration of industry if carried out on the lines at present [D457] indicated. Eventually, and at no very remote period, society must be divided into a few hundred families of prodigious wealth on the one hand, a professional class dependent upon their favor but excluded from equality with them and reduced to the state of lackeys, and, underneath, a vast population of working men and women, absolutely without a hope of bettering a condition which would year by year sink more and more hopelessly into serfdom. This is not a pleasant picture, but I am sure it is not an exaggerated statement of the social consequences of the syndicate system."
It will be remembered that some years ago Mr. McGlynn came in conflict with his ecclesiastical superiors in the Roman Catholic Church, because of his advocacy of Labor Reform, and specially of Single Tax theories. Although reconciled to the Church of Rome, he remained a Single Taxer. The following extracts are from an article from his pen in Donahoe's Magazine (Boston, July, 1895). Introducing his subject, "The Prevention of Large Fortunes, and Raising the Standard of the Laboring People," he said:
"It is possible for men to make honestly, as the world holds business honesty at present, fortunes such as the Vanderbilts possess, or the Astors, which run into the hundreds of millions. It is not because these people are dishonest that their fortunes grow, but that the leaders of the people are either ignorant or indifferent in watching the channels through which wealth flows from the individual laborer into the common treasury. It is the machinery of distribution which is at fault. When, therefore, labor has made its daily contribution to the world's support, if the processes of that contribution are carefully studied, from the moment the laborer touches the raw material which he is to convert into wealth until the finished product is placed in the hands [D458] of its user, it will be seen that the makers of colossal fortunes have, under cover of law and custom, taken possession of every important point of the process, and are turning the wealth, which should fall into the treasuries of the millions, into their own."
Dr. McGlynn urges that in seeking to account for large fortunes and low wages three principal matters should be carefully studied: (1) land and other natural bounties upon which man exercises his faculties; (2) the means of transportation; and (3) money, the medium which facilitates the exchanges of products. It will be found, he says, that the people have been indifferent to these points to which money-makers have been exceedingly attentive. We quote:
"To take possession of these natural bounties, to monopolize them under cover of law and custom, and to make all men who would use them pay beforehand for the privilege, have been the aim of the money-makers since time began. It is an easy matter to run up a fortune of one hundred millions when you can tax for two or three decades the millions who must buy bread and meat, timber and coal, cotton and wool, which all come from the land. This is what has been done directly in European countries, where, as in the British nation and in Ireland, millions of acres have been seized by the few under cover of the law, and the people have been compelled to pay first for permission to get at the land, then for permission to continue their labor on it.
"The same thing happened indirectly in this country when millions of acres were given to the great railroads, and capitalists were permitted to get hold of millions more by various subterfuges, all to be held with a tight grip until the tide of immigration had swelled these properties to untold values, when they were sold off at rates that made millionaires as common in this country and in Europe as knights in England. The readers of newspapers are well acquainted with the career and the methods of the coal-barons of Pennsylvania and elsewhere, who got hold of the great coal-producing districts under cover of law, and for forty years have levied tribute on consumers and miners alike by every device [D459] that human ingenuity could invent without regard to justice....
"Just as the few get control, almost absolute control, of the natural bounties, so they also get control of the means of transportation in a country. What this means is best comprehended by the statement that society makes no advance without a proper exchange of commodities; for civilization to improve on every side, men must have the greatest facilities for exchanging the work of their hands....Ease of transportation is, therefore, as vitally necessary to the laborer as ease in getting at the natural bounties; and as all men are laborers in the true sense of the word, the few who have placed themselves in charge of the transportation facilities of a nation get incredibly rich in the briefest time, because they tax more thoroughly and absolutely every human being in their jurisdiction than does the government itself.
"The Vanderbilts are worth perhaps a third of a billion today. How did they get it? By hard labor? No. By using the privileges foolishly granted them by the foolish people: the right of way over the state of New York; the right to fix what rates of freight and passage the citizens of the community must pay to use their own roads; the right to hold immense domains of the State as the creation of their own hands....No individual or corporation should be allowed to amass billions out of these public properties....
"The same may be said of the medium of exchange—money. Here again the world seems to be all at sea as to the elementary principles of this problem; the money-lenders alone have fixed and profitable principles, which enable them to tax every human being who uses money, for the use and for the continuance of the favor to use it. They have placed themselves between men and the medium of exchange, just as others have placed themselves between men and the natural bounties, between men and the facilities of transporting goods to market. How can they help getting millions together as the Rothschilds have done; millions, again, that should be in greater part passing into the treasury of the community."
"Organization is good to keep up the price of labor, to secure sound legislation, to force employers to house their workers well, landlords to provide good tenements, and so on; but the root of all our difficulties, the explanation of our unequal social conditions, and the cause of our large fortunes and low wages, is to be found in the common indifference to the three necessities of social and civilized life. Before we can raise wages permanently, and make the Vanderbilt and the Carnegie fortunes as impossible as they are unnecessary, we must learn how to keep the natural bounties, the means of exchange, and the medium of exchange free from the speculator's tax, his interference, his tyranny."
Dr. McGlynn's remedy is a "Single Tax," which we will examine in the chapter following. It is but proper here, however, to call attention to the fact that the Astors and Vanderbilts have gained their wealth under the same laws that controlled their fellow citizens, and which heretofore have been esteemed the most just and equitable laws that the world has ever known. It is to be noted, also, that the Vanderbilt millions were won in connection with great public service and great public benefit; although self-interest and not interest in the public welfare was the inspiring motive. The important point to be noted is, that science and invention have wrought a complete revolution in the social equilibrium, by which both brain and muscle are discounted by the possession of land, machinery, wealth. A properly adjusted new code of laws, suited to the new conditions, is needed. But here lies the difficulty: a satisfactory adjustment cannot be made because the parties interested—Capital and Labor—will neither of them take a moderate, reasonable view of the situation. It may indeed be said that neither can view the matter righteously because both are governed by selfishness which is generally quite blind to equity until compelled to see it. The new conditions call for a readjustment of affairs on a basis of love; and because this [D461] quality is possessed by but a small minority in either party to the controversy, therefore the trouble will come, which will not only wreck the present social order based on selfishness, but will prepare all classes by experience to appreciate the new social order, the "new heavens and new earth" to be established under the dominion of Messiah.
Another writer, Prof. W. Graham, in The Nineteenth Century (Feb. 1895), discussed the social question from the standpoint known in England as "Collectivism"—the doctrine that the people as a whole should own or control the material and means of production: opposed to individualism. Prof. Graham's conclusion is that, since a transformation of the hearts of men is not supposable, the method could only be introduced to a limited degree and after a long time. He said:
"It is impracticable, at least, unless human nature in its fundamental essence and desires, either eternally innate or deeply rooted as the result of thousands of years of slow social evolution tending to intensify them, be simultaneously changed in the majority of men by a sort of general miracle. I believe, further, that if anything resembling Collectivism in its fulness were ever attempted to be established in this country, even by a supposed majority in some new 'Mad' Parliament representing even a majority of voters, that it would be forcibly resisted by the minority, which, on the boldest supposition, can never be a small one; and it would be resisted because it would necessarily involve confiscation as well as revolution, political, economical and social. If, finally, it were ever, by any extraordinary combination of chances, momentarily established, as it might conceivably be in a country like France, which has a great leaning toward it, as well as some Collectivist memories, it could not possibly last. It could not even be reduced to practice save nominally, owing to its inherent impracticability; while, so long as it did exist, even partially or nominally, it would [D462] bring, after the first grand general division, the shares of which would soon be dissipated, in addition to general social chaos, evils including poverty to all classes, and greater poverty than now prevails."
The Professor proceeded to offer proof of the correctness of these views, and then inquired, Would Collectivism operate satisfactorily even if it were somehow installed and set in motion? He answers in the negative. He says:
"There would be slackness of effort all throughout, in inventors, organizers, foremen, even in the better class of workers, if they were not stimulated by extra remuneration to put forth their utmost and their best efforts; in short, if the present enormous and far-extending stimulus of private interest be removed or ever seriously lessened, the inevitable result would be a production greatly reduced in quantity and inferior in kind. There would have to be given at least 'bounties on production,' and so long as men are as they are, and are long likely to be, they would have to be on a liberal scale—that is to say, equality of remuneration would have to be departed from as respects these higher laborers. Otherwise there would be poverty in which all would equally share, and ordinary laborers would have to set against their poverty only the poor satisfaction that the former rich classes had all been dragged down to share it with them."
To prevent the decline of civilization and a return to barbarism, the Professor continued, it would soon be necessary to reintroduce inequality of wages and private enterprise. Gradually competition, private loans, exchange, interest, would have to be allowed, and in the end the new system would be found to differ but little from the present order. He concluded:
"Things would be modified more and more and more in the old direction, till, finally, there would be the inevitable counter-revolution, probably without any fresh civil war, for which the governing class would no longer have heart in face of the falling-off of their supporters and their own failing [D463] fanaticism. There would be a grand restoration, not of a dynasty, but of a Social System; the old system based on private property and contracts, which has emerged, as a slow evolution under every civilization, as the system most suited to human nature in a state of aggregation, and which is still more suitable and more necessary under the circumstances, physical and social, of our complex modern civilization."
We believe that considerable has already been done for the masses by Collectivism, as for instance in the Public School system of the United States, the postal systems of the civilized world, municipal ownership of waterworks, etc., and that much more could yet be accomplished along the same lines. Yet all reasonable people must consent to the argument that if the sinews of selfishness, which now move the world, be cut, by putting all men on the same level, a new motive power (Love) would need to take their place, or the world's business would suddenly come to a standstill: sloth would take the place of industry, and poverty and want would supplant comfort and affluence.
But we present these difficulties not because we have a "patent" theory of our own to advocate, but that those looking for the wisdom which cometh from above, through the Bible, may the more clearly see the helplessness of mankind in the present crisis, and that they may the more confidently and more firmly lay hold by faith upon the Lord and the remedy which he will apply in due season.
Justice Henry B. Brown, addressing the Alumni of the Law Department of Yale College, took as his theme, "The Twentieth Century." He pointed out that the changes of the twentieth century promise to be social rather than political or legal, and then named the three most prominent perils which threaten the immediate future of the United States— [D464] (1) Municipal Corruption, (2) Corporate Greed, and (3) The Tyranny of Labor. Among other things he said:
"Probably in no country in the world is the influence of wealth more potent than in this, and in no period of our history has it been more powerful than now. Mobs are never logical, and are prone to seize upon pretexts rather than upon reasons to wreak their vengeance upon whole classes of society. There was probably never a flimsier excuse for a great riot than the sympathetic strike of last summer , but back of it were substantial grievances. If wealth will not respect the rules of common honesty in the use of its power, it will have no reason to expect moderation or discretion on the part of those who resist its encroachments.
"I have spoken of corporate greed as another source of peril to the state. The ease with which charters are procured has produced great abuses. Corporations are formed under the laws of one state for the sole purpose of doing business in another, and railways are built in California under charters granted by the states east of the Mississippi for the purpose of removing their litigation to federal courts. The greatest frauds are perpetrated in the construction of such roads by the directors themselves, under guise of a construction company, another corporation, to which is turned over all the bonds, mortgages and other securities, regardless of the actual cost of the road. The road is equipped in the same way by another corporation, formed of the directors, which buys the rolling stock and leases it to the road, so that when the inevitable foreclosure comes the stockholders are found to have been defrauded for the benefit of the mortgagees, and the mortgagees defrauded for the benefit of the directors. Property thus acquired in defiance of honesty and morality does not stand in a favorable position to invoke the aid of the law for its protection.
"Worse than this, however, is the combination of corporations in so-called trusts, to limit production, stifle competition and monopolize the necessaries of life. The extent to which this has already been carried is alarming; the extent to which it may hereafter be carried is revolutionary. [D465] The truth is that the entire corporate legislation is sadly in need of overhauling, but the difficulty of procuring concurrent action on the part of the forty-four states is apparently insuperable.
"From a wholly different quarter proceeds the third and most immediate peril to which I have called your attention—the tyranny of labor. It arises from the apparent inability of the laboring man to perceive that the rights he exacts he must also concede. Laboring men may defy the laws of the land and pull down their own houses and those of their employers about their heads, but they are powerless to control the laws of nature—that great law of supply and demand, in obedience to which industries arise, flourish for a season, and decay, and both capital and labor receive their appropriate rewards."
"The conflict between them has been going on and increasing in bitterness for thousands of years, and a settlement seems further off than ever. Compulsory arbitration is a misnomer—a contradiction in terms. One might as well speak of an amicable murder or a friendly war. It is possible that a compromise may finally be effected upon the basis of cooperation or profit-sharing, under which every laborer shall become, to a certain extent, a capitalist. Perhaps, with superior education, wider experience and larger intelligence, the laboring man of the twentieth century may attain the summit of his ambition in his ability to command the entire profits of his toil."
In referring to the social disquietude arising from the corporate evils mentioned he proposes as a palliative, but not as a remedy, the public ownership of what are called "natural monopolies." He thinks these privileges should be exercised by the state or the municipality directly, rather than that corporations should compete and quarrel for franchises with bribes. He says:
"There would seem to be no sound reason why such franchises, which are for the supposed benefit of the public, should not be exercised directly by the public. Such is, at least, the tendency in modern legislation in nearly every highly civilized state but our own. Here great corporate interests, by parading the dangers of paternalism and socialism, have succeeded in securing franchises which properly belong to the public."
The gentleman evidently speaks forth his honest convictions, untrammeled—membership in the United States Supreme Court being of life tenure. He therefore could, and probably did, suggest everything he has knowledge of in the nature of a remedy for the conditions he deplores. But what is the suggested temporary relief? Only an item of Socialism (the public ownership of "national monopolies") which all men except bankers and corporation stockholders admit would be a temporary benefit—nothing more; and even this he seems to concede is doubtful of accomplishment, so powerfully entrenched is Capital.
The editor of La Justice, Paris, some time ago published a book, Le Melee Sociale, which received much attention because of the prominence of its author as a legislator and editor. It deals with the social question vigorously, maintaining that cruel, remorseless struggling for existence is as characteristic of human society as in the animal and vegetable kingdoms, and that civilization, so-called, is but a thin veneer which disguises man's essential brutality. He sees the whole history of society symbolized in Cain, the first murderer, and claims that while the modern Cain does not murder his brother directly, he systematically endeavors to crush his brother over whom, by force or fraud, he has gained an advantage of power. We give a few striking extracts from this book, as follows:
"It seems to me remarkable that humanity should have needed the meditation of centuries and the investigation of the greatest minds to discover the simple and apparent fact that man has ever been at war with man, and that this war has lasted ever since the human race began. Indeed, the imagination fails to completely conjure up a vision of the tremendous, the bloody and universal slaughter which has been going on upon this earth ever since it first emerged from chaos.
"The forced labor of the chained slave and the free toil of the paid workman both rest on the common basis of the defeat of the weakest and his exploitation by the strongest. Evolution has changed the conditions of the battle, but under a more pacific appearance the mortal strife is still going on. To seize the life and body of others to turn them to one's own purposes—that is what has been the aim and fixed purpose of the majority of men from the savage cannibal, the feudal baron, the slave proprietor, down to the employer of our own day."
"Hunger is the enemy of the human race. As long as man shall not have conquered this cruel and degrading enemy the discoveries of science will appear only as irony on his sad lot. It is like giving a man luxuries when he is not even provided with the necessaries of life. It is the law of nature, and the cruelest of all her laws. She forces mankind to contrive, to torture itself and destroy itself, to preserve at any cost that supreme good or evil called life.
"Other lives dispute man's right to life. He defends himself by organizing into communities. To his physical weakness, the first cause of his defeat, is now added his social weakness. And now the question can be asked, Have we arrived at such a degree of civilization that we can conceive of and establish a social organization in which the possibility of death by poverty or hunger may be eliminated? The economists do not hesitate. They reply boldly in the negative."
It is the duty of the State and of the rich members of the community, in M. Clemenceau's view, to abolish hunger and recognize the "right to live." Not only as a matter of right, but of expediency as well, should the community take care of the unfortunate and incapable. We quote again:
"Is it not the duty of the rich to succor the unfortunate? The day will come when the spectacle of one man dying [of hunger], while another man has more millions than he knows what to do with, will be intolerable to all civilized communities—as intolerable, in fact, as the institution of slavery would be in this community today. The troubles of the proletariat are by no means restricted to Europe. They seem to be just as bad in 'free' America, the paradise of every poor wretch on this side of the Atlantic."
The foregoing is a French view. It may or may not imply that matters are worse in France than in the United States. Of one thing, at least, we are thankful—that here, by liberal taxation as well as by generous contributions, death by starvation is not necessary. What is desired is something more than bare existence. Happiness is necessary to make existence desirable.
M. Clemenceau sees and denounces the faults of the present social system, but he offers no reasonable solution of them; hence his book is but a firebrand and disquieter. It is easy enough to make ourselves and others more dissatisfied and uncomfortable; and every book or article that offers no healing balm, no theory or hope of escape from the troubles would far better be unwritten, unpublished. The Scriptures, thank God, supply not only a comforting balm, but the only and infallible cure for the world's disease, sin, selfish-depravity and death, at the hands of the great Mediator, the Good Physician and Life-Giver. And this very volume endeavors to call attention to these heavenly specifics. But incidentally we are presenting the desperate character of the disease and the hopelessness of the world's available remedies.