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take command in industry. We sowed discontent; we reap a lust for luxuries and ever higher wages. We are to blame.
This is not the first reconstruction America has outlived, or the worst. After the Civil War there was a time when strong men, mighty statesmen and bankers, almost despaired. In those days the untamed western half of North America lured away the ambitious and the malconten、 ; to freedom. With drink and firearms they killed themselves or their equals, or created imperial fortunes, if they chose, as settlers, prospectors, and gamblers. But to-day these United States are settled, and the ambitious and the malcontents have grown more numerous and have learned to organize into unions, brotherhoods, and protective orders. What shall we do with them? The wild places of the earth beckon to them. Siberia, northern China, Western Australia, are beckoning to them. Will they go? Will they go, and leave us in industrial peace?
Let it be said once more: this nation possesses outworn ideals of human equality, of advancement for every man, of individual ambition-ideals suitable only for the jungle, the desert, or the frozen tundra, and it is cursed by those ideals. We adopted them in 1776 very naturally, we canonized the Rights of Man very innocently, when they were appropriate for us, when we lived as trappers in the forest, or as isolated farmers in little clearings, wolf-beset, surrounded by hostile savages. We were a primitive people, passing from the hunting to the husbandry stage of cultural growth. Life was very simple, very dangerous. Trade was mainly by barter, maize and wheat for plowshares and shoes, pelts of beaver for casks of rum. We were virtually barbarians.
Our ideals were adapted to our barbarous circumstances, but can any man say they are fitting in this land to-day? Society one hundred and fifty years ago was cellular, was composed of units almost entirely independent of one another. Society to-day is an organic whole, more closely integrated every year by the knitting of new ties, new
interdependencies. We have transformed a wilderness into the dwellingplace of myriads whose very existence continues only if the functioning of every portion of the community harmonizes with that of every other portion. We were once a scattering of solitary soldiers of fortune; we are now an army on the industrial march.
Hence it is alarming that to-day the soldiers in our industrial armies seem to be threatening to organize Soldiers' and Workmen's Councils such as shattered the Russian armies in the field just before the Revolution of 1917councils which will overthrow the general staff, will replace the trained officers with privates unaccustomed to command, abolish the salute of respect to authority and government, and substitute for military wage discipline and the healthy hunger stimulus, appeals in windy language to the freed and irresponsible laborer to "serve his fellow-proletarians unselfishly without compulsion or compensation." Later, perhaps after a holocaust of volcanic upheaval, will come realization and repentance for such infatuate idealism, and the discarding of false gods. All men are neither free nor equal in a civilized and humane society.
Four generations ago, when the Declaration of the Rights of Man was the latest news from France, American farmers were accustomed to drive their sons from home when the latter married. They helped them clear new lands for the plow, or started them off in canvas-covered wagons across the plains. Even after the Civil War the air resounded with urgent, strident individualism, and echoes of the cry, "Go West, young man," are heard to-day. There were always many sons; some of the family remained to work the ancestral holding to the limit of its productivity. That unregenerate exceptional farmer's son who was not fired by ambition for a great farm of his own clearing was a disgrace to his parentage. Had he not been trained to independence? Had he not been exhorted to love freedom better than death, to fight to prove his equality with the best in the world, as well as to establish his supremacy over the wilderness and the
savages in the wilderness? Had he not been a crack shot, a horseman, a hunter, a marvelous woodsman, and a skilful husbandman before he was ten years of age? No wonder he believed with all his might that men are born free and equal, that the goal of life is self-aggrandizement.
Contrast agrarian France, where the cultural development has had centuries to progress beyond the stage of savagery. France is comically patched with little fields thirty feet on a side, and fenced with high stone walls. Since there is no place for the sons of peasants to go, their parents must keep them at home, and the Napoleonic law of inheritance, still in force, which demands that every son shall have his share, has compelled the parceling out of the holdings until even the most intensive agriculture will not support the population, and the peasant has been forced to restrict his offspring and to reduce his well-beloved children to the status of unpaid farm-laborers, dependent upon him even for permission to marry. It is only natural that French peasants teach their children the passionate love of home, the abject respect for parental authority. The cultivation of the supreme virtue of contentment is inculcated, until to the young Frenchman contentment seems of more worth than jewels or adventures or fine gold.
market, have banded together in unions to control the labor market. So the teaching is turned against the teacher. To-morrow, unless we give them better gods to replace these lying lares and penates, we shall witness another communist experiment, another temporary atavism, another sanguinary reversal to the ways of the simian grandparents we have in common with modern monkeydom. Do we want a recrudescence of ancestral beastliness to hurl our complex culture into the sea?
Spiritually America has attained its sixteenth year, no more, and its young head is as full of fantastic notions as a lobster's claw with meat. It is charming, it is pathetic, it is damnable, by turns. Aged Europe, succored by our youthful strength, found us. adorably naïve, then pitifully impractical, and finally detestable in our insistence upon nonsensical ideals. Spiritually, like any sixteen-year-old, we must have time to wax romantic, to fall in love, to suffer and sigh, to reach military age, to have our warlike phase of imperialism, and to grow and mellow with the decades before we can become adult.
As for this country, Americans still are being urged to yearn with undivided minds for wealth, never to be content without great riches. Industrial relations are poisoned with the fruit of this teaching, and commerce is half distraught with the strikes of pupils who have taken their lessons to heart. Can they ever be satisfied? For years Americans have had the spotlight of publicity focused upon the newly rich, who like colossi rise from the mud by the sweat of brow and brain to bestride whole domains of human effort. For years we, the self-appointed, self-deluded instructors the wage-earners, have insisted upon their emulation of these shirt-sleeved giants; and the wage-earners, grasping the superficial fact that men can be enriched only by controlling the
We must have time, but the world cannot wait. The other day an English statesman lamented, "The worst of the war is that it leaves England in financial leading-strings to a nation politically in its nonage." No, the world cannot wait. France, her blood still flowing from a thousand wounds, is endeavoring to marry both the senior and the junior members of the AngloSaxon house, and if virginal and bachelor America is rather coy about accepting France's leap-year proposal, it is only because we still regard marital alliances as sacraments, not to be lightly dissolved, and we recall that France is only just divorced from Russia after a disgraceful trial. While polygamous England, very much the man of the world, accepts this new alliance as an incident, America hangs back because of youthfulness; but that will offend no Frenchman who comprehends how childish is the intelligence of America.
Our national adolescence, despite its gawky moral fantasies, is but the pass
ing idiosyncrasy of a sound and sane population. We shall outgrow it. Most of our people, down in the bottoms of their hearts, are not ambitious, are not greedy for gold, are not frenziedly not frenziedly strenuous in the quest for wealth. Rather they strive for security, for surcease from toil and anxiety, for a serene life. More and more they study how peacefully to accumulate happi
If the captains of industry of America can contrive to guarantee their daily bread, the humble masses will yet learn to be content, will labor loyally, and spurn the agitator and the unionorganizer. This is no supposition, but the experience of directors in many sagacious institutions. It is an experiment whose effects have been demonstrated and verified. Men are glad to be directed by genuinely superior intelligence. They defer with piteous humility to real authority. They revere the laws of the land so long as these govern all men equally, and they consider the wishes of their fellow-men even to the detriment of their own interests. The humble masses have character, personal integrity, and an unspoiled straightforwardness. Labor unrest arises primarily from the laborer's insecurity of tenure, and it is worthy of note that this unrest causes an annual labor turnover, a shifting from job to job, the cost of which to the entire commonwealth is fabulous. Colonel Arthur Woods, after an exhaustive investigation, estimated the other day that it costs the United States $2,500,000,000 in wasted time every year to hire and fire the workers who must shift from job to job precariously to gain a livelihood.
Then, having contrived to guarantee security, the leading citizens of America must preach a new gospel. They must preach that ambition is folly; that greedy, pushing, discontented people are ill-bred; that those who can become rich do so; and that those who cannot become rich do not do so by taking thought. Thinking will not make you the equal of your betters, but it may make you wretched. In the days when Adam and Eve wore fig
leaves there were no gentle-folk, unless Lucifer be counted in some sort a cultivated person; but the days of Adam and Eve are past, and now the world holds many grades of humankind. We all arrive in the world equally naked, and we all depart equally dead, but in the interim we reveal the most sundering differentiation. Each man in his rank fulfils his part in the whole of nature, but no man can rise from his class except by growth, and even growth is limited. The pigmy cannot stretch his stature by wishing. This is a truth to be welcomed, not railed at.
We must point out the comfort and the joy of knowing one's place. We must condemn the bounder who struts on borrowed stilts above his plane. Shall the turtle long to be a tortoise? Shall the Guernsey be encouraged to become a Hereford? Shall the feebleminded be urged to claim the sage's sapience? In our preaching of the new-old gospel, we must point out how envy was the sin of Satan, and for it he was flung from paradise. Let no man envy another. Let no poor man envy the rich their automobiles, which jounce and cramp the kidneys and induce Bright's disease; nor their expensive diet, which destroys the liver and brings gout to the feet; nor their cellars of costly vintages whose alcohol poisons the blood and makes the offspring anemic and mentally deficient. There was once a command of God, "Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbor's," and has not the Man of Galilee said, "Blessed are the meek"?
A rich man is harassed by his possessions in this life, and, according to Holy Writ, is shut out from heaven by them. What peace of mind can he enjoy? What reward has he? He is the trustee of the people's goods, the people's food, the people's fate. He is responsible. There is no escape from his responsibilities, and proudly be it said, he rarely wishes to shirk, to heave the crushing weight from his back. He is lordly in the wilderness of human life, and imperturbably he faces the eternal fire. But I promised But I promised not to praise him.
THE RUMFORD PRESS CONCORD