« AnkstesnisTęsti »
A New Industrial Wanderlust-Why not Use Our Wings?-Limit Armaments or LieGilbert K. Chesterton Visits Us-A Simpler Diagnosis of Europe's Ills-Do We Need a Super-Senate?-Are Professors Partners or Peons?-Wanted: a Verbal House-cleaning.
A NEW INDUSTRIAL WANDERLUST
HERE is going on in the United States to-day a picturesque and significant folk-migration, exodus, hejira,-whatever one may please to call it, that has not, at the moment of writing, broken into the headlines, nor received adequate attention at the hands of alert interpreters of social and economic drifts. The goal of this migration is the Southwest. It smacks of the old pioneering adventures westward, but in this instance the pioneer is a skilled mechanic instead of a farmer, and his prairie-schooner is an automobile. An early issue of THE CENTURY will carry a rich and colorful story of this migration, but I cannot resist the temptation to capture your interest for it by editorial comment at this time.
Many books have been written about the passing of the pioneer in America. We assume too readily that the passing of the pioneer marked the passing of poetry. We fall too easily into the notion that when the prosaic transcontinental train took the place of the picturesque prairie-schooner, American life became drably unromantic. We do not expect to hear of stirring folk-migrations in the America of 1921. Even the
frontier atmosphere of the rush for new lands in the Indian Territory is receding into the dimmer backgrounds of memory. All such things we regard as part of a remembered world, of a time when there was more of the nomad in our blood, a time when we were less strongly tethered to residence.
H. G. Wells wrote an essay a few years ago to prove that the race is becoming nomadic again, that we should not think of our world as a static place denuded of the romance of migrations. I think I have quoted from this essay before in these columns, but the following paragraphs fit essentially into this comment.
The history of man's progress from savagery to civilization is essentially a story of settling down. It began in caves and shelters; it culminates in a wide spectacle of farms and peasant villages, and little towns among the farms. . . . The enormous majority of human beings stayed at home at last; from the cradle to the grave they lived, married, died in the same district, usually in the same village; and to that condition, law, custom, habits, morals have adapted themselves. . . . There have been gipsies, wanderers, knaves, knights-errant, and adventurers, no doubt, but the settled permanent rustic home and the tenure of land about it, and the hens and the cows, have constituted the fundamental reality of the whole scene.
Now, the really wonderful thing in the astonishing development of cheap, abundant, swift locomotion is this: it dissolves almost all the reason and necessity why men should go on living permanently in any one place or rigidly disciplined to one set of conditions. . . . This revolution in human locomotion that brings nearly all the globe within a few days of any man is the most striking aspect of the unfettering again of the old restless, wandering, adventurous tendencies in man's composition.
We are off the chain of locality for good and all... it becomes more and more possible to move great multitudes of workers seasonally between regions where work is needed in this season and regions where work is needed in that. They can go out to the agricultural lands at one time and come back into towns for artistic work and organized work in factories at another. They can move from rain and darkness into sunshine, and from heat into the coolness of mountain forests. . . . Men will harvest in Saskatchewan and come down in great liners to spend the winter working in the forests of Yucatan.
As Mr. Wells suggests, we have hardly begun to speculate upon the consequences, political, social, economic, and moral, of this return of humanity from a closely tethered to a migratory existence. Or, to be more accurate, we read such comments as these just quoted from Mr. Wells as philosophical generalizations only. We have n't quite visualized American instances of this new wanderlust that would pull his generalizations down to earth.
The industrial exodus to the Southwest referred to in the opening paragraph of this comment is an American instance of this new mobility of peoples to which Mr. Wells refers. There lies before me as I write an interesting letter from a Californian correspondent regarding this exodus. The letter introduces the story as follows:
As far as I know, there are two ways to get across the mountains into this southwestern country. One is through a pass called Cajon Pass, and the other through a pass called San Gorgiono. On the other side of San Gorgiono Pass, in the Colorado Desert, is a little oasis known as Palm Springs. It is
perhaps five hours by motor from Los Angeles. There is an odd sort of a spring there, run by an old Indian, where the water bubbles up out of the earth and one gets an exhilarating mineral bath. And the desert has a charm that is indescribable! We go down there occasionally for a rest. While there recently I learned an extremely interesting thing.
This is the story: for several months there has been a steady stream of working-men and their families touring into the Southwest from the East and the Middle West. These men and their families have been going across the country, across desert and mountains, in motor-cars. It is estimated by observers, perhaps a bit liberally, that in one day five hundred motor-cars loaded with working-men and their families entered the Southwest through Cajon Pass, while perhaps two hundred and fifty drove through San Gorgiono Pass in one day. These were, of course, exceptional days. But our correspondent writes that, from the rather hasty investigation he was able to make, many days the traffic approaches these figures.
He writes that this migration has been in progress since last October or November, and that it was continuing in the last week of January, when his letter was posted. Most of these migrating working-men, it seems, are skilled mechanics from the East and the Middle West. Thrown out of work by postwar readjustments, they have turned toward the Southwest in search of new homes. The process seems to be somewhat as follows: a skilled mechanic of the East or Middle West, finding himself unemployed, bundles his family, a tent, cooking equipment, and provisions into his motor-car, sells the rest of his belongings, and starts on a pioneering journey to the Southwest.
It is reported that Los Angeles, for instance, is filling up with these skilled mechanics who have thus driven across country. Many of them, unable to find housing facilities at once, are living in tents until they can "throw up a shack" or build more pretentious houses.
An interesting side-light is thrown on the situation by the fact that plans are being discussed at the moment of writing for the erection of big buildings in Los
Angeles that will be a sort of combination of garage and hotel into which these migrating working-men and others can drive, store their motor-cars, secure a room to cook and eat in, and another room for sleeping-quarters. These buildings are conceived as temporary restingplaces, bunk-houses for families in search of permanent homes.
Interwoven with these bare details of this migration are a thousand and one issues of social and economic readjustment, and a picturesqueness that can hold its own with the picturesqueness of other days.
WHY NOT USE OUR WINGS?
AST year the French people erected a monument to do honor to the Wright brothers, a lasting memorial to their achievement in building the first heavier-than-air machine that would really fly. This occasion stimulated a review of the whole progress of aviation and the tremendous impetus that the war had given to the aircraft industry.
Americans appreciated the honor that the French had done their two distinguished countrymen. At the same time Americans were haunted by a feeling of regret that the inventive genius of the Wright brothers had been seized upon and developed by other nations to a greater degree than by their own country.
The French, with their impulsive natures, had, before the war, gone in for flying as a sport, and the progress they had made in the development of the aëroplane as a plaything proved a valuable asset when pilots, who had thought of little more than to amuse the crowds, took to the air and brought back valuable information for the army chiefs.
When in pre-war days-in 1909, if I remember rightly-M. Blériot flew across the English Channel for the first time, Mr. H. G. Wells wrote an article for the London "Times," pointing out the significance of the achievement, suggesting the imperative need of aircraft development in England, and forecasting with singular accuracy some of the uses to which aircraft were put during the war. He said that Germany would
bomb London and that an army without aeroplanes for eyes would be at the mercy of the enemy.
During the early months of the war a few planes ventured across the front lines. Mess history of the British Flying Corps has it that the pilots of these planes carried shotguns and blazed away at the Germans with fine, but futile, vigor, until some one thought of arming the planes with machine-guns; then came the synchronized gear, firing through the propeller, and the compensating sights, until near the end of the war one singleseater model carried four guns, each capable of one thousand shots a minute, a veritable air battle-cruiser.
With the supremacy of the air came the final victory on land. For the air forces of the Allies it marked a triumph not only of marksmanship and generalship on the part of the pilots, but a victory for the factories, a vindication of the inventive genius of the Allied nations, and the logical result of adequate supplies of the materials with which to play the "long hand."
America made large contributions in pilots, motors, and some machines; but many members of the United States Army Air Service waded mud in France instead of flying on one of the famously advertised "ten thousand roads to Berlin." Perhaps too much was expected of our Aircraft Production Board. It was widely heralded and lustily hailed, but it did n't have time to develop fully before the war came to an end. Those who attended the movies during the days when our boys were at the front saw raft after raft of logs floated out of the Northwest, choicest timber for aëroplanes. Factories were filmed making Liberty motors as fast as the legendary cow-puncher rolls cigarettes. But somehow the timber and the motors did not get together in the finished product, and hundreds of expensively trained, handsomely accoutered, and heavily endowed pilots sat in camps here and over there telling what they would do if they only had a chance.
We should now take to heart the lesson of this laggard development of aircraft production. With the League of Nations functioning in a hotel in Geneva, with world courts being organized during
summer holidays, and with good men and women in all lands preaching disarmament, it may seem to some little short of treason to civilization to counsel aircraft development at this time. However keenly we may feel the necessity of some truly international program of disarmament, however deeply we may desire that our own nation shall take the initiative in such a program, the fact remains that caldrons of discontent are bubbling in Europe and Asia, the world generally is in a state of nerves, and the safety of democracy is in greater question than ever before. In the face of these facts, and pending some truly international coöperation, we have no right to neglect adequate defensive
But the development of aviation and aircraft production need not be made solely in reference to a possible next war. The greatest field for aviation, in reality, is in peaceful air lanes. To this development of aviation for peaceful purposes we should turn with enthusiasm. With the great distances on this continent, the linking of our cities and States more closely together is a peculiarly difficult problem. The aëroplane might effect a closer knitting of West to East and North to South that would rank in history with the earlier achievement of linking West to East by transcontinental railroads. The aëroplane can be the means of effecting a more active coöperation between ourselves and our Northern neighbors in Canada and our neighbors to the south.
All this does not imply a shout for the flag and the spirited demand for appropriations in the form of subsidies to various manufacturing and carrying concerns. It does mean the enactment of aërial laws, the maintenance of landingfields by the Government, perhaps an interstate commerce commission of the air, and the general inspiration and supervision that the Government should rightly give to an infant public utility of this sort. In the early days of our national expansion westward, railways were pushed thither by government aid. The West and East were linked, thanks to government aid, but it took years of commercial suffering and ruinous rebates and evil practices before we began
to feel our way toward decent social control. We do not want to repeat that story in the development of civil aviation.
The Manufacturers Aircraft Association, in its review of the aircraft industry for 1920, said:
Decreased production and general contraction in the aeronautical industry generally is offset by the more encouraging records of performance made in American aviation this year (1920). While the last twelve months have not brought the carefully defined policy of Federal jurisdiction required to assure steady and economical progress in commercial aviation, they have witnessed many remarkable achievements by American pilots in American machines.
True, it is interesting to read of the exploits of some of our airmen, and the test trips they have made have been of great value in proving the reliability of the aëroplane and in helping us to visualize the possibilities which await further development. Commander A. C. Reed, of transatlantic fame, flew 7740 nautical miles in his NC 4. Four remodeled French planes, equipped with Liberty motors, each carrying two men of the United States Army Air Service, flew from Mitchell Field, Long Island, to Nome, Alaska, and return in 112 hours flying time, a total distance of 9000 miles. This trip was made without any accident serious enough to delay the flight. Not a motor missed fire. Most of the difficulty was due to rain and fog as they flew over country not even charted with any great detail on the maps.
To quote again from the Manufacturers Aircraft Association's review:
The Air Mail in 1920 operating between New York and Washington, Cleveland, Chicago, Omaha, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco, transported approximately one hundred million letters at ordinary postage rates. The system was extended in 1920 from Chicago to San Francisco, from Key West to Havana, and from Seattle to Victoria, British Columbia. About thirty five air mail planes are in the air each day flying a total, in round trips, of about 8,000 miles per day.
And yet, at the moment of writing, Congress seriously questions the appro