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present even when they refuse to recognize it. will never exist. His mind becomes the In the writings and talk of men about inter- indoor mind of a desk-man who will national affairs to-day, in the current discus- spend more time on speculations about sions of historians and political journalists, writing "over the heads” of his readers there is an effect of drunken men growing or “writing down” to his readers than he sober, and terribly afraid of growing sober. will spend finding out what is going on in They still talk loudly of their "love" for the minds of his readers. France, of their “hatred" of Germany, of the How different our magazines would be "traditional ascendancy of Britain at sea," if every month the editor's readers could and so on and so on, like those who sing of talk back to him in a sort of New Engtheir cups in spite of the steadfast onset of land town meeting of subscribers! The sobriety and a headache. These are dead readers of “The Tide of Affairs" are disgods they serve. By sea or land men want playing a gratifying facility with their no powers ascendant, but only law and ser- pencils and pens. Every month brings a vice. That silent unavoidable challenge is basket of approvals, disapprovals, inin all our minds like dawn breaking slowly, quiries for further information upon subshining between the shutters of a disordered jects sketchily dealt with, suggestions of
subjects that interest this or that reader, and so on.
The time invested in answerDrab-minded, but megaphonic, apos
ing this correspondence personally is tles of a narrow“America-first” national
cheerfully invested for the purely selfish ism will set this down as the ravings of a
reason that these reactions from readers romanticist. To some of us it is solid
are the only known antidote for the history. Some of us, many of us, believe blight of the indoor mind and the sins of that the statesman who ignores this
provincialism that haunt editorial offices. inevitable sweep of history will find his
All this is a roundabout introduction St. Helena.
to a series of essay editorials that will There would be little point in consum
run through the year 1921 in these coling space with these quotations from the
This series is prompted by three history of another day if from their
letters that have come to the writer's sentences leaped no light to guide us in
desk, one from a big business man, one this day of similar conditions and similar
from the president of a woman's club, challenge. But the parallel is there.
one from a reader is a far-away country He that hath ears to hear, let him hear
district. what history saith to the statesman.
The big business man writes that he is In particular, let Mr. Harding hear!
a busy man who does not read books, who has n't time to read many books, but that everywhere he finds the air of
discussion full of phrases the fundaLITTLE ESSAYS ON BIG IDEAS
mental meaning of which he would like Introductory
to know. He writes that at dinner HE isolation of editors is a great tables and in his clubs he is constantly Т. drawback to the production of running across the casual mention of magazines with a maximum of
gild socialism, syndicalism, philosointerest, instruction, and charm. A phical anarchism, trade parliaments, New York editorial office is in the sub- sovietism, Whitley councils, proportional urbs of the national mind, not at its representation, the short ballot, occenter. Only by eternal vigilance can cupational representation, the socialan editor save himself from the sins of unit plan, industrial democracy, Bolsheprovincialism in ideas and interests. vism, the Non-Partisan League, Sinn The vastness of our country makes in- Fein, dominion home rule, Lord Levertimacy between editor and reader a hulme's six-hour day, co-partnership, thing to be achieved only by careful and the like. He goes on to say: planning and ceaseless effort. Otherwise, the editor falls into the fatal error Of course, when these things are menof creating a mythical "average reader" tioned, I look wise, as the rest do, and manwho does not exist, has never existed, age to carry my part of the conversation.
But the fact is that there is hardly one of
GILD SOCIALISM these things that I could decently and specifically define. And I suspect my associates
ILDI SOCIALISM, broadly deare in the same boat. I have noticed that
fined, is a proposal for selfthe average talk about these things sticks to
in industry. It glittering generalities.
must not be confused, however, with the Of course, I read the newspapers and the
medley of proposals for industrial democmagazines; but the newspaper and magazine racy-shop committees, works councils, discussions of these things always assume a
shop stewards, and the like. These are prior knowledge of the fundamentals of the
half-measures, compromises with the subject. It is just those fundamentals that
existing industrial order. Gild socialmany of us don't know. Because we don't ism anticipates a completely new order know the fundamentals, a lot of newspaper
of industry. And not that alone. Unand magazine material is Greek to us. If
der gild socialism the state as well as you writers did n't assume so much back
the shop would be reorganized. Its exground knowledge on the part of your read
ponents speak of the gild state. ers, you would have a wider circle of readers. It is perhaps unfortunate that the But I don't want to tell you how to run your
word "socialism" appears in its name. magazine. I want to make one specific sug
When all is said, the fact remains that gestion. Can't you give us in “The Tide of orthodox socialism implies a centralized Affairs" a series of simple informative essays
bureaucratic state; with all its emphasis on a lot of these things about which we are all on economics, it is essentially a political talking so much and about which many of us
concept. Gild socialism, on the conknow so little? Don't worry about their
trary, is from first to last a blow at being timely or untimely; we can get the cur
bureaucrats, a plea for decentralization rent news about these things from the daily
both in politics and in industry. To call paper; give us a series of fundamental defini
it socialism attracts to it a mass of untions, so we can talk about these things in
necessary antagonisms. Orthodox sotelligently, without bluffing.
cialism is a call to the future, the pro
posal of a new and untried scheme. Gild The challenge of this letter is accepted. socialism is a harking back to the past, a Beginning with this issue, there will ap
plea for the revival of the gild system pear in these columns throughout 1921
that prevailed in the Middle Ages. a series of informative essays upon signifi- Many forms of orthodox socialism would, cant phrases that bulk large in current many of us believe, erase the individual discussions of social, political, and indus- man; gild socialism exalts him. trial issues. These essay editorials, it is
But these are the sort of dinner-table hoped, will furnish at least a suggestive generalities, from the foggy indefiniteoutline of information the reader re- ness of which our correspondent asks us quires before he can read with ease and to help him escape. Let us condescend understanding current news and maga
to details, sketching briefly the historical zine articles on these subjects. Neces- background of the gild system, and then sarily these essay editorials will be sug- stating succinctly the main points of the gestive rather than exhaustive, and theory. must, therefore, be read indulgently by We must dismiss the matter of the those familiar with the literature of the historical background of the gild theory subjects.
with scant attention, although a thorAt no point in the series does the writer ough study of the medieval gild system purpose to advocate or denounce; he is the best way to arrive at a just judgsimply explains. The reader must him- ment of the soundness or falsity of the self assume "the intolerable fatigue of theory. But that is the task of a volume, thought" involved in advocacy or de- not of an editorial article. The gild nunciation. Gild socialism is chosen at system was general in the Middle Ages. random as the subject of the first essay, The gilds ranked with the kings and the which follows.
barons as the basis of medieval society.
1 In conformity to the Century Dictionary, the form "gild" is here used in preference to "guild," the commoner but corrupted form.
Contrary to certain critics, the gild still more rapid growth of the central political system and feudalism were not synony- organization ... the most inevitable remous. The feudal barons were at en- sult of this development is that government mity with the gilds and the medieval has ceased to be conducted by the men who cities, and in the end defeated them. So, are intimately in touch with the work in for purpose of historical background, it is hand, and has passed into the control of the well to focus on the ation etween
political amateurs and the clerical bureaugilds and the king.
crats, who often have every qualification exIn our time government tends more cept personal knowledge of the work they are and more to become centralized and trying to manage. ... Modern government political; during the Middle Ages gov- must sooner or later break down, because ernment was predominantly local and it is growing so complex and so remote economic. The king exercised relatively from the facts of the case, that a sainted profew functions of government as com- fessor himself could not keep his head and pared with the extensive functions of our heart in such a turmoil and confusion. present highly centralized governments. Government has come to be a massive The local gilds were the centers of real structure in London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, government. The men of the Middle Petrograd, and Rome. In these overstrained Ages felt little need for the extensive centers we find a vast crowd of officials who system of laws we now have. In their have but a trivial knowledge of what they gilds, associations of craftsmen, they ought to do; while outside are the passive managed their own business affairs and citizens who scarcely can discover what has carried on all of the mutual helpfulness been done. It is a tragedy of cross-purposes. that organized society implies. By the gild system men were organized along The apostles of gild socialism are the lines of their trades. Each trade proposing a return to the principles of had its own gild. Every craftsman had this society of the Middle Ages. Broadly to belong to it. The gild held a monop- speaking, three principles would underly oly of its trade. The state delegated to a reorganization of a modern state on the gilds jurisdiction over their members, gild principles. or in some instances jurisdiction was First, the principle of organization by delegated by the municipality. The gild function. Under this principle the basis regulated wages, hours, and conditions of representation would be a trade or a of work, fixed prices, and established and profession rather than a geographical maintained standards for quality of area. Gildsmen claim that there is no work done, supervised the system of unity of interests in the modern political masters and apprentices in a manner areas, as counties, districts, states, and that made a trade a sort of craft univer- that no human being can represent all the sity. These gilds so completely served people and all the interests of a geograall the purpose of government that the phical area. They claim that governmen of the Middle Ages needed little else ment would be better if men were chosen in the way of government.
to represent constituents in relation only Since then, as already noted, local to the matters of trade or profession that government has given way to centralized they actually knew something about government, and the whole basis of gov- from practical experience. ernment has shifted from economics to Second, the principle of self-governpolitics. By some, in fact by most men ment in the gilds. Under this principle to-day, this shift is regarded as a neces- political interference in the affairs of a sary process accompanying the change trade would be reduced to a minimum, from the simpler life of the Middle Ages and the government of the work of the to the more complex and interdependent world, which takes up most of our waklife of modern times. But the apostles ing hours, would rest in the hands of of the gild theory do not think so. Mr. those who know about it. Thus a series G. R. Stirling Taylor, for instance, says: of industrial self-governments would
take away from political government Since the Middle Ages there has been a much of its present jurisdiction. continual weakening of the local power, and a Third, the principle of decentralizaB В
tion and small units. The whole gild THE BELGIAN CONFUSION OF TONGUES philosophy rests upon the conviction that overcentralization has been suicidal
ELGIUM has her Babel, alboth in politics and in industry. The
though her confusion of tongues
is a matter of only two tongues, gild state would throw most of govern
the French and the Flemish. The ment into the hands of local communities, and in industry would aim at the small
dominant problem of Belgium's internal
history is the conflict, of long standing est possible unit that the efficiency of a trade or occupation demanded.
and sustained vitality, between the We cannot do more than state these French-speaking Walloons, who occupy
the southern half of Belgium, and the principles baldly. There are a thousand
Flemish speaking Flemings, who occupy qualifications and ramifications that must be followed out before one should
the northern half of Belgium. This
conflict was adjourned during the war, pass final judgment on the theory. But would the gildsman have no state
but is again acute. The old movement in the present sense? Push the theory
for a racial partition of Belgium, at least to its logical outcome, and the state
in an administrative sense, is once more would be simply the linking together of
in full swing. Little of the news of this all the gilds into a national parliament
conflict has appeared in the American or congress. But the partizans of gild
press. At the moment of writing the socialism realize that "for the first
only American press report of marked stages, at any rate, there would be all significance that has come to the writer's
attention is a column of special corresorts of little nooks and crannies left outside, and hundreds of quite useful spondence that appeared in "The Chriscitizens who would not be clearly sort
tian Science Monitor" in the early part able into appropriate gilds." The less
of September last. dogmatic supporters of the theory also
But since we are bound to hear more recognize that man is a consumer as well
of this as time goes on, this is a timely as a producer, and that it is difficult for
moment for sketching in the background him always to harmonize his interests as
of this Belgian language question and producer and his interests as consumer
for summarizing such fragmentary curin one organization. There is heard, rent news as may be available. therefore, the proposal that there be
For a statement of the background of organized one chamber on the basis of the problem, it is perhaps permissible representation from trades and occupa- to plagiarize, without the formality of tions to represent the citizen as producer, quotation marks, certain paragraphs and another chamber on the basis of from the chapter on Belgium in “The representation from geographical areas Stakes of the War," of which volume to represent the citizen as consumer.
the writer is co-author with Mr. Lothrop In all proposals a modicum of political Stoddard. government is assumed to provide a sort Belgium is a sort of geographical halfof impresario for the numerous local way house between the marshlands of economic governments. Most students the North Sea coast and the uplands of of the theory recognize that the time is west-central Europe. The north and not ripe for the return to the system of west parts are low plains. The southlocal gilds, and therefore propose as an
eastern half is hill country. Here again immediately practicable program a poli- geography has played a determining role cy of national gilds. This is the turn in history. The geographical difference given to the agitation in England. But
between the two portions of Belgian the goal is the thoroughgoing decentrali- territory accounts for the racial differzation into local gilds.
ence between the two parts of Belgian The reader will do well to read the population. The play of cause and effect stimulating volumes of Penty, Hobson, was in this wise: Orage, Taylor, and other able exponents The low plains of the north and west of of the theory. The writer will be glad Belgium fell easy prey to the Germanic to suggest complete bibliographies to barbarians when they swept southward interested readers of these essays.
at the fall of the Roman Empire. Today the modern Flemings, the descen- In the years immediately preceding the dants of these invaders, form a solid Great War Flemish-Walloon antagonism block of population which is thoroughly was acute. Flemish extremists threatTeutonic in blood, language, and basic ened secession to Holland, while Walloon culture. They are, in fact, blood-broth- extremists hinted at union with France. ers of their northern neighbors, the Then came the German invasion of Dutch.
1914, and differences of race and culture But the more defensible hills of the were temporarily adjourned in the face of southeastern half of Belgium enabled the a common disaster. But these differLatinized Celtic population to hold its ences were only temporarily adjourned. ground against the Germanic invaders.
As already stated, they are again acute. There was not, therefore, the racial dis- The strictly French-speaking and the placement in the southeast that there strictly Flemish-speaking elements are was in the north and west of Belgium. divided with fair evenness. Pre-war The modern Walloons occupying this figures reckoned the French-speaking region of Belgium are descendants of the Walloons at about 2,833,000, the Flemold Latinized Celtic folk, and therefore ish-speaking Flemings at about 3,220,are a French-speaking people closely re- 000. In addition there were about lated to their kinsmen in France.
871,000 persons who spoke both French For more than two centuries previous and Flemish. The majority of this to 1870 France aspired to control Bel- bi-lingual bloc should probably be classed gium. During the Napoleonic era Bel- as Flemish in blood. gium was actually in French hands. As Before summarizing the reports that a barrier to French aggression, the Vien- indicate the acuteness of the present na Congress of 1814 united Belgium and situation, we may pause to comment Holland into the Kingdom of the Nether- upon the inevitably bad consequences of lands. But this union was of short dura- any actual racial division of Belgium. tion, because the French-speaking Wal- Such division would imply the extinction loons, whose racial self-consciousness of Belgium as a state. Of course a racial had been intensified by the preceding division of Belgium could be made along generation of French rule, chafed under fairly clear lines, leaving very few conthe rule of Dutchmen and Flemings flicting elements in either part. But, which the Kingdom of the Netherlands once divided, the two parts would beinvolved. The Walloons, taking ad- come pawns and prizes in a not-to-bevantage of the religious cleavage be- welcomed diplomatic game. The untween the Catholic Flemings and the doubtedly latent imperialistic spirit in Protestant Dutch, won sufficient Flem- certain quarters of French political life ish support to launch the successful rev- would begin to cast longing eyes at the olution of 1830, which resulted in the French-speaking Walloon part, while in establishment of Belgium as an inde- Holland the partizans of the “Great pendent state.
Netherland" school of political thought From 1830 until 1914 Belgium enjoyed would dream anew of annexing the unwonted immunity from foreign pres- Flemish part. It must be remembered sure, but the vexing problem of a grow- that Flemish and Dutch culture are esing breach between the Walloons and sentially the same. There is virtually no Flemings persisted, and the proportions racial difference between the two stocks. of its menace grew. During the genera- The Flemish tongue is a dialect of the tion after 1830 there was a marked racial Dutch. The literary language of the and cultural revival among the Flemings, two peoples is the same. This racial giving momentum to a growing protest and cultural unity has caused many on against the privileged position that the both sides of the Belgo-Dutch frontier to Walloon leaders of the revolution of look with regret upon the violent separa1830 had accorded the French language tion of 1830 and to dream of a reunion of and culture. The Walloons, jealous of this Flemish part of Belgium with their advantages, feared that the slightly Holland. This is part of the “Great more numerous Flemish element might Netherland" dream. ultimately secure political supremacy. - Then, too, an isolation of the Flemish