Puslapio vaizdai

their daily labor cannot get work, the fact has a deep and terrible significance.

Louis Blanc said, "In demanding that the right to live should be regulated, should be guaranteed, one does much more than demand that millions of unhappy beings should be rescued from the oppression of force or of chance; one embraces in its highest generalization, and in its most profound signification, the cause of humanity; one greets the Creator in his labor. Whenever the certainty of being able to live by one's labor does not result from the essence of social institutions iniquity reigns."

Cardinal Manning declared that a man who was willing to work but could not get work had a right to steal bread; and he cites an English statute which says that every one has "A right either to work, or to bread without work." But does not the law say, "Thou shalt not steal?" The laborer replies the command applies to the organized taking from laborers what they have earned, as well as to individual theft. If industry is so organized that of the two parties engaged in it, one, the employer, gets more than enough, and the other, the laborer, receives so little that he is hungry and naked, then he is robbed, and has a moral right to what justly belongs to him. If David was justified in taking unlawful shew bread to appease his hunger, his example would have weight with a Christian laborer starving in the presence of overflowing granaries. The well-to-do may

have no fear of actual hunger and cold, wolves that constantly prowl around the doors of the poor: and yet the world's supply of food is so limited that a general failure of crops for a single season would bring frightful consequences.

"With machinery multiplying tenfold our powers of production and with rapid and cheap methods of transportation, we are always within twelve months of starvation. Let the world play for one year, and famine is king. are actually living from hand to mouth, and the world's ceaseless toil is needed to keep its 1,400,000,000 alive."


The poorest paid, which constitute the great mass of laborers, are often haunted by the ghastly spectre of pau

perism. In the reign of Henry VIII. seven thousand people were branded with a hot iron and hung for being poor. To assure the working poor that history repeats itself and then condemn them to involuntary idleness, is a dangerous proceeding. It suggests an explosion to be told that every twentieth inhabitant in England is a pauper.1 In 1880 this country had an army of 67,067 paupers in its almshouses. There is reason to fear that the number has since largely increased. In 1866 one in every thirty-five of the foreign-born population of New York was a pauper. Pauperism is a standing menace to our free institutions, and multitudes continually stand in fear of it.

X.-Class Legislation.

"Legislation with regard to labor has almost always been class legislation. It is the effort of some dominant body to keep down a lower class." - PROFESSOR W. STANLY JEVONS.

Nothing in connection with the present industrial régime has so offended the great mass of laborers as Class Legislation discriminating in favor of capital and against labor.

Thorold Rogers, in his history of "Work and Wages" in England for six centuries, discloses a mass of legislation against labor that is simply iniquitous. The real but generally disguised object of these laws is to preserve the economical and social distinction of the dominant classes and to reduce working men to industrial slavery.

Professor Jevons quotes approvingly the statement of Brentano, "That all the statutes of the Middle Ages were framed with regard to the powers and wants of the landed proprietors and feudal lords," and he says of the famous Statute of Laborers that "It was simply a futile attempt to prevent labor from getting its proper price." And the great Statute of Apprentices was the "abomination of desolation" to labor. It allowed justices of the peace to fix all wages, and to tyrannize in the most shameful manner over laborers. It compelled every servant or artificer to work in the one trade to which he was accustomed. If he

1 "Contemporary Socialism," p. 57.

removed to another town for work without a testimonial from an employer, or officer, he was to be imprisoned, and if he could not obtain such testimonial within twenty days, he was to be whipped and treated as a vagabond.

From the middle of March to the middle of September, every workman was to be at work at or before five o'clock in the morning, and not depart until betwixt seven and eight at night.

Young women of twelve years and upwards could be put at work when and where the justice of the peace saw fit, at wages fixed by him, and if they refused they were imprisoned. The most merciful thing about the statute was, it so overshot the mark, that it could not be enforced, except its provisions as to apprenticeship, the evils of which have been incalculable.

This Statute of Apprentices, that has disgraced England for centuries, was not completely repealed until eighteen years ago. Still more unjust was the law forbidding combinations of working men "for improving wages, and reducing the hours of labor." What tyranny could be more galling than to forbid laborers peaceably meeting to discuss their own interests and at the same time encouraging combinations of capitalists? Although the repeal of this monstrous law in 1824 rendered labor unions legal, still the unjust discriminations in favor of employers continued to oppress laborers till their final emancipation in 1871.

We cannot wonder at the distrust and bitterness of laborers against capitalists and legislatures between which, as upper and nether millstones, they have been crushed and ground. Legislation has been as guilty in sins of omission as of commission.

Women and children of tender years have been put at tasks in a manner that disgraces civilization. Women formerly worked in English mines, "harnessed with cattle to loads of ore," as they even now are on the pit-banks and coke-hearths.1

Children from nine to fifteen years of age have been kept 1 "The Wages Question" (Walker), p. 52.

at work in factories from six in the morning till nine and

twelve at night.

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"In the agricultural districts of England gangs of children of all ages, from sixteen down to ten or even five years, have been formed and driven from farm to farm and from parish to parish, to work all day under strange overseers and to sleep at night in barns huddled all together, without distinction of sex.' Not till 1867 could Parliament be induced to interfere with such cruelty. Professor Ely says of child labor in England during the first half of this century, "It was little less than murder. Nay, I go further: I believe in the sight of Almighty God the cannibals of the Sandwich Islands were less guilty than those who, appreciating its terrors, knowingly, wilfully supported it; for it also was a species of cannibalism, slow but more cruel, for the flesh and blood of the little ones were devoured piecemeal. Yet it required the struggle of a generation to pass laws forbidding it, and nothing is more disgusting than the evasive, shifting, lying course of its chief opponents." 2

The spirit of class legislation against labor crossed the Atlantic in the Mayflower. In 1630, in the Massachusetts Colony, "it was ordered that carpenters, joiners, bricklayers, sawyers, and thatchers shall not take above two shillings a day."3 Employers, however, might get them for nothing if they could. But why enact laws to prohibit laborers from asking higher wages, and not prohibit employers from paying lower? It starts an honest man's blood to hear Adam Smith, one hundred and fifty years later, say, "We have no acts of Parliament against combining to lower the price of work; but many against combining to raise it." But immemorial custom blinds oppressors to their cruelty and the oppressed to their wrongs. Class legislation against labor proceeds upon the pagan principle that might makes right. This vicious legislation did not, however, find a congenial soil in the Western world. The tendency of American legislation

1 Idem, p. 201.

2 "The Labor Movement in America," p. 316.
3 "The Wages Question" (Walker), p. 305.

affecting capital and labor has been to favor the schemes of capital rather than to interfere directly with labor.

Enormous powers and privileges have been granted to capitalists, while until quite recently the policy of legislatures has been to let laborers shift for themselves. Socialism is a protest in behalf of women and children, crushed under the wheels of an industrial Juggernaut, and a demand that the old capitalistic chariot, with its idol Gold, shall give way to a more democratic and Christian vehicle, bearing the goddess of social Justice and Equity. It is a most hopeful sign of the times that several States, as well as the general government, are collecting labor statistics, appointing labor bureaus and arbitration committees, and passing laws to secure the individual rights of laborers.

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"Can it be believed that Democracy, which has overthrown the feudal system and vanquished kings, will retreat before tradesmen and capitalists? Will it stop, now that it has grown so strong and its adversaries so weak?"-DE TOCQUEVILLE.

Another cause of Socialism is the Spread of the Democratic Principle. Political freedom is in the air, not only of America, but of the nineteenth century.

Russia, at the opening of the century, bought and sold human beings as cattle. The Moscow Gazette of 1801 advertises for sale three coachmen and two girls, eighteen and fifteen, good looking and capable. Referring to a house "In this house one can buy a coachman and a Dutch cow."

it says,

A prominent woman killed by inhuman tortures nearly one hundred of her serfs, mostly girls. All this is changed. Within a generation Russia has freed sixty millions of serfs, extended to them civil rights, established trials by jury, and inaugurated many other reforms. True, certain forms of despotism remain, but the people, having tasted liberty, resist them by the desperate methods of nihilism.

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