Puslapio vaizdai

The Rome correspondent of the "Petit Journal" wrote some weeks ago that the pope had accepted the resumption of diplomatic relations with France without conditions, bargainings, or designs, and expressed the opinion that the pope was ready to recognize the French laws respecting religious associations, in the belief that they are applied in a liberal spirit.

Knowing the immeasurable distance between the average political controversy and the facts of the case, it behooves us not to be disturbed by the charges and counter-charges that will fly thick and fast as this new policy is put into effect. It is inevitable that the ghost of the dead controversy will arise and rattle its saber of ancient hates.


OME months ago in these colSumns I suggested the primary

importance of good leadership in the small town of the United States. I dignified such leadership with the name of village statesmanship. I pointed out the fact that we cannot build a successful nation upon sloven villages, and made the statement that many problems we are now throwing upon national leadership could be solved at their source if the town councils of our small towns were in reality boards of social engineers, administering the common town life as a social unit. I tried to show by the listing of certain facts how the men of the small towns of America are failing to answer the challenge to leadership, to village statesmanship.

I then used, and am now using, the word "town" and the word "village" very loosely, as they are used in the middle West, where the words are commonly used as synonymous.

The simple statements I then made have proved provocative beyond expectation. Among the letters received from readers is one from Mr. Walker D. Hines, formerly director-general of railroads as successor to Mr. McAdoo, but now serving in Paris as "arbitrator of questions pertaining to river shipping" involved in the application of the Ver

sailles treaty. Writing from his Paris office, Mr. Hines says:

In the November Century I read with a great deal of interest "The Tide of Affairs." I was particularly struck with what you had to say on "Village Statesmanship." It fits in with my own idea that improvement in our political development must come very largely through improvement in the conception and action of the voters with respect to local political affairs. . . . I believe the time is coming when insistence upon the idea of centralizing and increasing responsibility in local affairs will elicit a constructive response from the public, and I do hope you will think it worth while to continue to use your influence in that direction.

Mr. Hines has long been an ardent believer in the national importance of effective local government. Some four years ago Mr. Hines delivered an address on "Our County Government" which is a mine of political suggestiveness.

In this address Mr. Hines pointed out the fact that city government in the United States used to be the very worst form of government in the country, but that it got so bad it began to develop its own cures, with the result that more thought has been given to the improvement of city government than to the improvement of any other part of our governmental system. But consideration of county government has lagged far behind consideration of city government. Mr. Hines's discussion is a stimulating contribution to the study of this vital issue.

His first charge against the ordinary form of county government is idleness. He says:

As I look back over my observations of county officers, their most striking characteristic has been their idleness. I can recall only rare instances of having seen a county officer at work, except when he was out, soliciting votes for reëlection. The general impression that I have of a county officer is a man who gets anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 a year, or perhaps more, and who selects one or more deputies, or clerks, at perhaps $50 or $75 per month, who do the work.

His second charge is that of a multiplicity of useless county offices, which

almost enforce idleness upon county officers. Of this he says:

This impression gives rise in my mind to a very strong suspicion that the average county has a good many more officers than it needs, and that, in the aggregate, there must be a tremendous waste in paying an army of county officers large sums of money for work which, in fact, is done by deputies and clerks.

Nor do I think the system can be defended on the ground that the county officer is needed to furnish the brainwork, because there is exceedingly little brainwork that the average county officer is ever called upon to do. The duties are almost wholly routine.

This idleness is not a reflection on the gentlemen who hold these offices. It is the necessary result of a system which creates many more officers than the work requires, and which provides officers to do work which is almost entirely clerical.

His third charge is that responsibility in county government is so widely scattered among useless and overlapping offices that it is difficult for officers to feel responsibility for good work or for the people to locate responsibility for bad work. This he illustrates by reference to the way we attempt to administer the matter of law enforcement in our counties. He says:

In connection with the enforcement of the law, we have a county attorney, and a sheriff, and a coroner, and frequently other county officers, and then in the various precincts or townships of the county we have constables. I have never come into intimate contact with any scheme of county government where anybody seemed to have a complete responsibility for enforcing the law, but we always find a large number who have an incomplete responsibility for its enforcement. If the law is not enforced, the people cannot definitely fix the blame and every officer connected with law enforcement can find some good excuse to put the blame off his own shoulders. In many states an additional feature of law enforcement is the grand jury, and the grand jury is a fine place in which to sink all responsibility, because, if the grand jury fails to indict for violating the law, nobody on earth can fix the blame for the failure to punish the violation.

His fourth charge is that all this

results in confusion and uncertainty in the minds of the voters, so that, as he puts it, "The public generally abandons all hope of expecting really first class results or of holding anybody to account for slipshod work." Mr. Hines protests against our practice of making all these indefinitely defined officers elected. On this point he says:

The result of this policy of having all this mass of county officers elected is that it becomes impossible for the voter to pay any particular attention to the qualification of the man for the office to which he seeks election. Indeed, in my boyhood, when I observed these things at closer range, it seemed to me that the rule was that the fact that a man was lacking in capacity to make a living in any other way was of itself a sufficient qualification to hold any county office, provided the man happened to be a good handshaker.

But the crowning indictment into which these four charges merged is that a system which makes the voter indifferent about the qualifications of county officers greatly lowers the quality of political judgment in national affairs. This is true because county politics is closer to the average citizen than national politics. It is in county politics that the voter really forms his political habits. On this point Mr. Hines says:

Has it ever occurred to you that the average voter, outside of the city, does most of his voting with respect to county officers? He votes for a candidate for Congress once in two years, and for a candidate for the United States Senate twice in six years. He also votes from time to time for a slate of state officers. But, generally speaking, the most real and vital exercise which he makes of the power of sufferage is his action in expressing his choice as to candidates for county office.

Do you not perceive, therefore, that the mental processes which characterize the action of the voter in selecting his candidates for county office go far toward holding his action when he votes for other officers?

Therefore, when we find a scheme of county government which makes the voter practically indifferent as to the qualifications of the candidates for county office, and which renders the voter after the election prac

tically indifferent as to whether the county officer performs his work effectively or not, is it not clear that we have a demoralizing influence which tends to undermine the sense of responsibility of the voter himself in the exercise of his right of sufferage in every other field? . . . Is it not true that under our present scheme of county government we have set up in each county a school for political training, which tends to paralyse every instinct which the voter might have for intelligent and affective exercise of his right of sufferage, and which tends to encourage him in irresponsible and aimless selection of people for public office?

This is the indictment as drawn by Mr. Hines. His suggestions for reform of county government are simple and clear. He suggests that there be affected a thorough-going consolidation of county officers. He suggests that such consolidation would result in an organization that would give county officers work of genuine importance to do, and would give the voters a greater interest in selecting effective men for the offices. He suggests that we adapt to county government some of the important reforms which have proved sound and effective in city government. There is little doubt that we could improve the efficiency of county government very greatly by adapting to our county organization the principle of the commission form of government or the city manager plan. The work of county governments falls pretty clearly into two divisions. There is the work of law enforcements for one thing, and the business affairs of the county government for another. Why can we not have at each county a county manager who will be the sole responsible head of the county government? The responsibility for law enforcement should certainly rest definitely upon the shoulders of one officer instead of playing hide and seek, as it now does, between county attorney, sheriff, coroner, constable, and grand jury. The responsibility The responsibility for the efficient conduct of the business affairs of the county should rest definitely upon the shoulders of one officer. In most counties a county manager with capable routine assistance could conduct the entire business of the county govern

ment with greater efficiency and at lower cost.

We like to regard ourselves as a progressive people, and yet we are strangely reluctant to experiment with our political institutions. We refuse to apply the lessons of science to the problems of politics. In science or in mechanics the tool must always be fitted to the task. Too often in politics the task is bungled by tradition. Is not the time about ripe for the overhauling of our system of county government?

II. Industrial Democracy

N the January issue of THE CENTURY I began a series of essayeditorials in which I purpose to define as simply and clearly as I may certain problems, parties, groups, and proposals which figure constantly in presentday discussions of political, social, and industrial affairs. This series is to run intermittently through 1921. I intend to take my cue from the letters which this series of editorials elicit from readers. Since the appearance of the first editorial, which dealt with gild socialism, I have received repeated requests for some clarifying word on the matter of industrial democracy, which is in danger of becoming merely a catchword instead of the animating ideal of a statesman-like program for industrial relations in the United States.

The phrase "industrial democracy" is used very loosely. To one man it may mean a company union that stands in opposition to the sort of organized labor represented by the American Federation of Labor. To another it may mean any one of a great variety of shop committees. To still another it may mean the dictatorship of the proletariat. And to some it means only the trademark of John Leitch's plan for the organization of an industry after the pattern of our Federal Government.

I want simply to ask and answer three questions about industrial democracy. First, what does the average liberal employer mean when he uses the phrase? Second, what is the significance of the

steps that have already been taken toward a more democratic organization of many industries? Third, are the numerous plans for industrial democracy simply artificial creations of the moment, plans of dreamers, or are they the expression of a deep-going historical development in industry? Let us take these questions in turn.

First, what is the meaning of industrial democracy as commonly used by liberal employers? I am not here concerned with the state of affairs to which the application of the principle may lead in, say, a hundred years. Prophecy varies with the prophet. One type of mind thinks industrial democracy will mean increased efficiency, another that it will mean the bankruptcy of business. One thinks it will mean orderly progress in industry, another that it will mean Bolshevism in industry. Setting these conflicting prophecies aside, what does the phrase mean now? In the light of its application to date, it means merely a tentative and timid application of the principles of representative government to industry, as illustrated by the average shop committee, or the Whitley Council scheme.

The Whitley Council scheme, as it is being worked out in England, differs not a little from the manner in which industrial democracy is making headway in the United States. In England the whole situation promises to go to a more comprehensive and rigid organization than in the United States. The Whitley scheme starts upon the assumption of complete and coherent organization of both workmen and employers. With the two camps completely organized, the program calls for three units of organization: first, National Industrial Councils in the several industries; second, District Industrial Councils; and third, Local Works Industrial Councils, or shop committees. In this program every industry is looked upon as an industrial community that requires a form of industrial government. As may be plainly seen, the plan of industrial government follows somewhat the sequence of municipal, state, and Federal Government. Each of these bodies -local, district, and national-is composed of both employers and employees.

These bodies are to meet at regular intervals. They are not thought of as intermittent bodies, like boards of arbitration, which have work to do only in times of trouble. They are administrative bodies primarily, and arbitral bodies secondarily.

Now, what are such bodies supposed to do? Does this mean a taking over of industry by these joint bodies? It does not. The limitations thrown about these bodies caused me to describe industrial democracy as the tentative and timid application of the democratic idea to industry. Industrial democracy does not mean handing over to inexperienced workmen the financial and technical matters of industry-matters that call for expert judgment and experience. It does not imply, at the present stage at any rate, a labor voice in the commercial side of management. It implies mainly a labor voice on the human side of management, a voice on the control of the conditions under which work is done.

In the United States there is little likelihood that the Whitley program will be followed. Employers in general are not ready, as the English employers seem to be, to sanction the complete organization of labor. In the ranks of the present movement for an open-shop policy for the nation there can be found much opposition to the full organization of all labor. But the idea of industrial democracy is gaining ground despite this fact. The next twenty-five years will, I think, see an increasing number of local shop committees. In some cases these will be simply a modernization and broadening of the old company unions. In many cases they will be adopted in the hope that they will prove a club against organized labor. In other cases they will represent sincere attempts to apply the democratic principle to industry. But it will be many years, unless I am far afield in judgment, before we shall see industrial democracy taking shape as a national program. The one gain we shall realize out of all these attempts will probably be this: we shall begin to deal with disputes before they arise by common counsel between employers and employees instead of waiting until disputes arise and then quarreling about them and indulg

ing in the luxury of strikes and lockouts.

The second question I want to ask and answer is this: What significance may we attach to the experiments made so far? Has the Whitley program, for instance, established any new principles that will be helpful to industry in the future? I have elsewhere answered this question with the five statements that follow:

1.-The Whitley scheme and its many shop-committee variations has established the principle of conference between equals.

2. It has established the principle of equal representation of equally strong and well-organized forces.

3. It has established the principle of open diplomacy in business to take the place of the secretiveness that has hitherto been the breeding-ground of suspicions and lack of confidence between employers and employees.

4. It has established the principle of legislation for industry by industry, the most fruitful political as well as industrial idea of modern times.

5. It marks the beginnings of constitutionalism in industry, since it is based upon the idea that industrial relations present a problem of government rather than a problem of warfare.

The third question I want to ask and answer is this: Are such plans as the Whitley scheme artificial creations of the moment, makeshift programs designed to bridge over a difficult time of unrest, the work of clever industrial politicians, or do they express a sound historical development? There is much to indicate that they are part of a deep-going development. At least this is the opinion of many of the best minds of England and the United States.

Before the introduction of machine power, which resulted in grand-scale production, the handicraft workman was master of industry. When the factory system came into being the masters of the small shops were driven to the wall. Two classes developed in industry, employers and employees. Not even a sense of partnership survived the wreck of the old handicraft system. It became a matter of master and servant. Control was the big thing that was lost by the masses of laborers.

The workmen of the world have never become reconciled to that loss, and as popular education has done its work, stimulating the self-respect and dignity of the masses, the sense of disinheritance has become keener. So that many of the most acute students of contemporary life contend that beneath all the clatter of labor disputes there is a profound movement for representative government in industry, exactly as there has been through the years a movement for representative government in politics. It is a little difficult for many employers to believe this. They come into daily contact with workmen, and rarely do they find a workman who seems greatly concerned with a "voice in the business." The workmen they meet seem concerned solely with matters of wages and hours. Many employers, therefore, set down all the talk of a movement for industrial democracy as the dream of doctrinaires. But I suspect that a reporter going up and down England a little while before Magna Charta was wrested from King John would have been impressed with the fact that few of the common folk of England could discuss intelligently and in detail the desired political reform, though the underlying urge to democracy was there. Most of the profound movements of history have been unconscious, as far as the masses were concerned, until the critical moment of consummation arrived.


T is a custom as old as the nation that the President-elect of the United States shall, on the day he assumes the duties of chief executive, deliver an inaugural address. This is one of the formalities of our political procedure. In politics, as in religion, it is always difficult to keep formalities instinct with reality.

It might make inauguration day a more vital date if, instead of the President's addressing the country, the country could address the President. The average Presidential election is in no sense a referendum on issues. Platforms are vote-catching devices, and no plat

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