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War of the Classes by Jack London

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War of the Classes

by Jack London


The Class Struggle
The Tramp
The Scab
The Question of the Maximum
A Review
Wanted: A New Land of Development
How I Became a Socialist


When I was a youngster I was looked upon as a weird sort of
creature, because, forsooth, I was a socialist. Reporters from
local papers interviewed me, and the interviews, when published,
were pathological studies of a strange and abnormal specimen of man.
At that time (nine or ten years ago), because I made a stand in my
native town for municipal ownership of public utilities, I was
branded a "red-shirt," a "dynamiter," and an "anarchist"; and really
decent fellows, who liked me very well, drew the line at my
appearing in public with their sisters.

But the times changed. There came a day when I heard, in my native
town, a Republican mayor publicly proclaim that "municipal ownership
was a fixed American policy." And in that day I found myself
picking up in the world. No longer did the pathologist study me,
while the really decent fellows did not mind in the least the
propinquity of myself and their sisters in the public eye. My
political and sociological ideas were ascribed to the vagaries of
youth, and good-natured elderly men patronized me and told me that I
would grow up some day and become an unusually intelligent member of
the community. Also they told me that my views were biassed by my
empty pockets, and that some day, when I had gathered to me a few
dollars, my views would be wholly different,--in short, that my
views would be their views.

And then came the day when my socialism grew respectable,--still a
vagary of youth, it was held, but romantically respectable.
Romance, to the bourgeois mind, was respectable because it was not
dangerous. As a "red-shirt," with bombs in all his pockets, I was
dangerous. As a youth with nothing more menacing than a few
philosophical ideas, Germanic in their origin, I was an interesting
and pleasing personality.

Through all this experience I noted one thing. It was not I that
changed, but the community. In fact, my socialistic views grew
solider and more pronounced. I repeat, it was the community that
changed, and to my chagrin I discovered that the community changed
to such purpose that it was not above stealing my thunder. The
community branded me a "red-shirt" because I stood for municipal
ownership; a little later it applauded its mayor when he proclaimed
municipal ownership to be a fixed American policy. He stole my
thunder, and the community applauded the theft. And today the
community is able to come around and give me points on municipal

What happened to me has been in no wise different from what has
happened to the socialist movement as a whole in the United States.
In the bourgeois mind socialism has changed from a terrible disease
to a youthful vagary, and later on had its thunder stolen by the two
old parties,--socialism, like a meek and thrifty workingman, being
exploited became respectable.

Only dangerous things are abhorrent. The thing that is not
dangerous is always respectable. And so with socialism in the
United States. For several years it has been very respectable,--a
sweet and beautiful Utopian dream, in the bourgeois mind, yet a
dream, only a dream. During this period, which has just ended,
socialism was tolerated because it was impossible and non-menacing.
Much of its thunder had been stolen, and the workingmen had been
made happy with full dinner-pails. There was nothing to fear. The
kind old world spun on, coupons were clipped, and larger profits
than ever were extracted from the toilers. Coupon-clipping and
profit-extracting would continue to the end of time. These were
functions divine in origin and held by divine right. The
newspapers, the preachers, and the college presidents said so, and
what they say, of course, is so--to the bourgeois mind.

Then came the presidential election of 1904. Like a bolt out of a
clear sky was the socialist vote of 435,000,--an increase of nearly
400 per cent in four years, the largest third-party vote, with one
exception, since the Civil War. Socialism had shown that it was a
very live and growing revolutionary force, and all its old menace
revived. I am afraid that neither it nor I are any longer
respectable. The capitalist press of the country confirms me in my
opinion, and herewith I give a few post-election utterances of the
capitalist press:-

"The Democratic party of the constitution is dead. The Social-
Democratic party of continental Europe, preaching discontent and
class hatred, assailing law, property, and personal rights, and
insinuating confiscation and plunder, is here."--Chicago Chronicle.

"That over forty thousand votes should have been cast in this city
to make such a person as Eugene V. Debs the President of the United
States is about the worst kind of advertising that Chicago could
receive."--Chicago Inter-Ocean.

"We cannot blink the fact that socialism is making rapid growth in
this country, where, of all others, there would seem to be less
inspiration for it."--Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

"Upon the hands of the Republican party an awful responsibility was
placed last Tuesday. . . It knows that reforms--great, far-sweeping
reforms--are necessary, and it has the power to make them. God help
our civilization if it does not! . . . It must repress the trusts or
stand before the world responsible for our system of government
being changed into a social republic. The arbitrary cutting down of
wages must cease, or socialism will seize another lever to lift
itself into power."--The Chicago New World.

"Scarcely any phase of the election is more sinisterly interesting
than the increase in the socialist vote. Before election we said
that we could not afford to give aid and comfort to the socialists
in any manner. . . It (socialism) must be fought in all its phases,
in its every manifestation."--San Francisco Argonaut.

And far be it from me to deny that socialism is a menace. It is its
purpose to wipe out, root and branch, all capitalistic institutions
of present-day society. It is distinctly revolutionary, and in
scope and depth is vastly more tremendous than any revolution that
has ever occurred in the history of the world. It presents a new
spectacle to the astonished world,--that of an ORGANIZED,
class struggle is a terrible and hateful thing, and yet that is
precisely what socialism is,--a world-wide class struggle between
the propertyless workers and the propertied masters of workers. It
is the prime preachment of socialism that the struggle is a class
struggle. The working class, in the process of social evolution,
(in the very nature of things), is bound to revolt from the sway of
the capitalist class and to overthrow the capitalist class. This is
the menace of socialism, and in affirming it and in tallying myself
an adherent of it, I accept my own consequent unrespectability.

As yet, to the average bourgeois mind, socialism is merely a menace,
vague and formless. The average member of the capitalist class,
when he discusses socialism, is condemned an ignoramus out of his
own mouth. He does not know the literature of socialism, its
philosophy, nor its politics. He wags his head sagely and rattles
the dry bones of dead and buried ideas. His lips mumble mouldy
phrases, such as, "Men are not born equal and never can be;" "It is
Utopian and impossible;" "Abstinence should be rewarded;" "Man will
first have to be born again;" "Cooperative colonies have always
failed;" and "What if we do divide up? in ten years there would be
rich and poor men such as there are today."

It surely is time that the capitalists knew something about this
socialism that they feel menaces them. And it is the hope of the
writer that the socialistic studies in this volume may in some
slight degree enlighten a few capitalistic minds. The capitalist
must learn, first and for always, that socialism is based, not upon
the equality, but upon the inequality, of men. Next, he must learn
that no new birth into spiritual purity is necessary before
socialism becomes possible. He must learn that socialism deals with
what is, not with what ought to be; and that the material with which
it deals is the "clay of the common road," the warm human, fallible
and frail, sordid and petty, absurd and contradictory, even
grotesque, and yet, withal, shot through with flashes and
glimmerings of something finer and God-like, with here and there
sweetnesses of service and unselfishness, desires for goodness, for
renunciation and sacrifice, and with conscience, stern and awful, at
times blazingly imperious, demanding the right,--the right, nothing
more nor less than the right.

January 12, 1905.


Unfortunately or otherwise, people are prone to believe in the
reality of the things they think ought to be so. This comes of the
cheery optimism which is innate with life itself; and, while it may
sometimes be deplored, it must never be censured, for, as a rule, it
is productive of more good than harm, and of about all the
achievement there is in the world. There are cases where this
optimism has been disastrous, as with the people who lived in
Pompeii during its last quivering days; or with the aristocrats of
the time of Louis XVI, who confidently expected the Deluge to
overwhelm their children, or their children's children, but never
themselves. But there is small likelihood that the case of perverse
optimism here to be considered will end in such disaster, while
there is every reason to believe that the great change now
manifesting itself in society will be as peaceful and orderly in its
culmination as it is in its present development.

Out of their constitutional optimism, and because a class struggle
is an abhorred and dangerous thing, the great American people are
unanimous in asserting that there is no class struggle. And by
"American people" is meant the recognized and authoritative mouth-
pieces of the American people, which are the press, the pulpit, and
the university. The journalists, the preachers, and the professors
are practically of one voice in declaring that there is no such
thing as a class struggle now going on, much less that a class
struggle will ever go on, in the United States. And this
declaration they continually make in the face of a multitude of
facts which impeach, not so much their sincerity, as affirm, rather,
their optimism.

There are two ways of approaching the subject of the class struggle.
The existence of this struggle can be shown theoretically, and it
can be shown actually. For a class struggle to exist in society
there must be, first, a class inequality, a superior class and an
inferior class (as measured by power); and, second, the outlets must
be closed whereby the strength and ferment of the inferior class
have been permitted to escape.

That there are even classes in the United States is vigorously
denied by many; but it is incontrovertible, when a group of
individuals is formed, wherein the members are bound together by
common interests which are peculiarly their interests and not the
interests of individuals outside the group, that such a group is a
class. The owners of capital, with their dependents, form a class
of this nature in the United States; the working people form a
similar class. The interest of the capitalist class, say, in the
matter of income tax, is quite contrary to the interest of the
laboring class; and, VICE VERSA, in the matter of poll-tax.

If between these two classes there be a clear and vital conflict of
interest, all the factors are present which make a class struggle;
but this struggle will lie dormant if the strong and capable members
of the inferior class be permitted to leave that class and join the
ranks of the superior class. The capitalist class and the working
class have existed side by side and for a long time in the United
States; but hitherto all the strong, energetic members of the
working class have been able to rise out of their class and become
owners of capital. They were enabled to do this because an
undeveloped country with an expanding frontier gave equality of
opportunity to all. In the almost lottery-like scramble for the
ownership of vast unowned natural resources, and in the exploitation
of which there was little or no competition of capital, (the capital
itself rising out of the exploitation), the capable, intelligent
member of the working class found a field in which to use his brains
to his own advancement. Instead of being discontented in direct
ratio with his intelligence and ambitions, and of radiating amongst
his fellows a spirit of revolt as capable as he was capable, he left
them to their fate and carved his own way to a place in the superior

But the day of an expanding frontier, of a lottery-like scramble for
the ownership of natural resources, and of the upbuilding of new
industries, is past. Farthest West has been reached, and an immense
volume of surplus capital roams for investment and nips in the bud
the patient efforts of the embryo capitalist to rise through slow
increment from small beginnings. The gateway of opportunity after
opportunity has been closed, and closed for all time. Rockefeller
has shut the door on oil, the American Tobacco Company on tobacco,
and Carnegie on steel. After Carnegie came Morgan, who triple-
locked the door. These doors will not open again, and before them
pause thousands of ambitious young men to read the placard: NO

And day by day more doors are shut, while the ambitious young men
continue to be born. It is they, denied the opportunity to rise
from the working class, who preach revolt to the working class. Had
he been born fifty years later, Andrew Carnegie, the poor Scotch
boy, might have risen to be president of his union, or of a
federation of unions; but that he would never have become the
builder of Homestead and the founder of multitudinous libraries, is
as certain as it is certain that some other man would have developed
the steel industry had Andrew Carnegie never been born.

Theoretically, then, there exist in the United States all the
factors which go to make a class struggle. There are the
capitalists and working classes, the interests of which conflict,
while the working class is no longer being emasculated to the extent
it was in the past by having drawn off from it its best blood and
brains. Its more capable members are no longer able to rise out of
it and leave the great mass leaderless and helpless. They remain to
be its leaders.

But the optimistic mouthpieces of the great American people, who are
themselves deft theoreticians, are not to be convinced by mere
theoretics. So it remains to demonstrate the existence of the class
struggle by a marshalling of the facts.

When nearly two millions of men, finding themselves knit together by
certain interests peculiarly their own, band together in a strong
organization for the aggressive pursuit of those interests, it is
evident that society has within it a hostile and warring class. But
when the interests which this class aggressively pursues conflict
sharply and vitally with the interests of another class, class
antagonism arises and a class struggle is the inevitable result.
One great organization of labor alone has a membership of 1,700,000
in the United States. This is the American Federation of Labor, and
outside of it are many other large organizations. All these men are
banded together for the frank purpose of bettering their condition,
regardless of the harm worked thereby upon all other classes. They
are in open antagonism with the capitalist class, while the
manifestos of their leaders state that the struggle is one which can
never end until the capitalist class is exterminated.

Their leaders will largely deny this last statement, but an
examination of their utterances, their actions, and the situation
will forestall such denial. In the first place, the conflict
between labor and capital is over the division of the join product.
Capital and labor apply themselves to raw material and make it into
a finished product. The difference between the value of the raw
material and the value of the finished product is the value they
have added to it by their joint effort. This added value is,
therefore, their joint product, and it is over the division of this
joint product that the struggle between labor and capital takes
place. Labor takes its share in wages; capital takes its share in
profits. It is patent, if capital took in profits the whole joint
product, that labor would perish. And it is equally patent, if
labor took in wages the whole joint product, that capital would
perish. Yet this last is the very thing labor aspires to do, and
that it will never be content with anything less than the whole
joint product is evidenced by the words of its leaders.

Mr. Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor,
has said: "The workers want more wages; more of the comforts of
life; more leisure; more chance for self-improvement as men, as
trade-unionists, as citizens. THESE WERE THE WANTS OF YESTERDAY;
OF TOMORROW'S MORROW. The struggle may assume new forms, but the
issue is the immemorial one,--an effort of the producers to obtain
an increasing measure of the wealth that flows from their

Mr. Henry White, secretary of the United Garment Workers of America
and a member of the Industrial Committee of the National Civic
Federation, speaking of the National Civic Federation soon after its
inception, said: "To fall into one another's arms, to avow
friendship, to express regret at the injury which has been done,
would not alter the facts of the situation. Workingmen will
continue to demand more pay, and the employer will naturally oppose
them. The readiness and ability of the workmen to fight will, as
usual, largely determine the amount of their wages or their share in
the product. . . But when it comes to dividing the proceeds, there
is the rub. We can also agree that the larger the product through
the employment of labor-saving methods the better, as there will be
more to be divided, but again the question of the division. . . . A
Conciliation Committee, having the confidence of the community, and
composed of men possessing practical knowledge of industrial
affairs, can therefore aid in mitigating this antagonism, in
preventing avoidable conflicts, in bringing about a TRUCE; I use the
word 'truce' because understandings can only be temporary."

Here is a man who might have owned cattle on a thousand hills, been
a lumber baron or a railroad king, had he been born a few years
sooner. As it is, he remains in his class, is secretary of the
United Garment Workers of America, and is so thoroughly saturated
with the class struggle that he speaks of the dispute between
capital and labor in terms of war,--workmen FIGHT with employers; it
is possible to avoid some CONFLICTS; in certain cases TRUCES may be,
for the time being, effected.

Man being man and a great deal short of the angels, the quarrel over
the division of the joint product is irreconcilable. For the last
twenty years in the United States, there has been an average of over
a thousand strikes per year; and year by year these strikes increase
in magnitude, and the front of the labor army grows more imposing.
And it is a class struggle, pure and simple. Labor as a class is
fighting with capital as a class.

Workingmen will continue to demand more pay, and employers will
continue to oppose them. This is the key-note to LAISSEZ FAIRE,--
everybody for himself and devil take the hindmost. It is upon this
that the rampant individualist bases his individualism. It is the
let-alone policy, the struggle for existence, which strengthens the
strong, destroys the weak, and makes a finer and more capable breed
of men. But the individual has passed away and the group has come,
for better or worse, and the struggle has become, not a struggle
between individuals, but a struggle between groups. So the query
rises: Has the individualist never speculated upon the labor group
becoming strong enough to destroy the capitalist group, and take to
itself and run for itself the machinery of industry? And, further,
has the individualist never speculated upon this being still a
triumphant expression of individualism,--of group individualism,--if
the confusion of terms may be permitted?

But the facts of the class struggle are deeper and more significant
than have so far been presented. A million or so of workmen may
organize for the pursuit of interests which engender class
antagonism and strife, and at the same time be unconscious of what
is engendered. But when a million or so of workmen show
unmistakable signs of being conscious of their class,--of being, in
short, class conscious,--then the situation grows serious. The
uncompromising and terrible hatred of the trade-unionist for a scab
is the hatred of a class for a traitor to that class,--while the
hatred of a trade-unionist for the militia is the hatred of a class
for a weapon wielded by the class with which it is fighting. No
workman can be true to his class and at the same time be a member of
the militia: this is the dictum of the labor leaders.

In the town of the writer, the good citizens, when they get up a
Fourth of July parade and invite the labor unions to participate,
are informed by the unions that they will not march in the parade if
the militia marches. Article 8 of the constitution of the Painters'
and Decorators' Union of Schenectady provides that a member must not
be a "militiaman, special police officer, or deputy marshal in the
employ of corporations or individuals during strikes, lockouts, or
other labor difficulties, and any member occupying any of the above
positions will be debarred from membership." Mr. William Potter was
a member of this union and a member of the National Guard. As a
result, because he obeyed the order of the Governor when his company
was ordered out to suppress rioting, he was expelled from his union.
Also his union demanded his employers, Shafer & Barry, to discharge
him from their service. This they complied with, rather than face
the threatened strike.

Mr. Robert L. Walker, first lieutenant of the Light Guards, a New
Haven militia company, recently resigned. His reason was, that he
was a member of the Car Builders' Union, and that the two
organizations were antagonistic to each other. During a New Orleans
street-car strike not long ago, a whole company of militia, called
out to protect non-union men, resigned in a body. Mr. John
Mulholland, president of the International Association of Allied
Metal Mechanics, has stated that he does not want the members to
join the militia. The Local Trades' Assembly of Syracuse, New York,
has passed a resolution, by unanimous vote, requiring union men who
are members of the National Guard to resign, under pain of
expulsion, from the unions. The Amalgamated Sheet Metal Workers'
Association has incorporated in its constitution an amendment
excluding from membership in its organization "any person a member
of the regular army, or of the State militia or naval reserve." The
Illinois State Federation of Labor, at a recent convention, passed
without a dissenting vote a resolution declaring that membership in
military organizations is a violation of labor union obligations,
and requesting all union men to withdraw from the militia. The
president of the Federation, Mr. Albert Young, declared that the
militia was a menace not only to unions, but to all workers
throughout the country.

These instances may be multiplied a thousand fold. The union
workmen are becoming conscious of their class, and of the struggle
their class is waging with the capitalist class. To be a member of
the militia is to be a traitor to the union, for the militia is a
weapon wielded by the employers to crush the workers in the struggle
between the warring groups.

Another interesting, and even more pregnant, phase of the class
struggle is the political aspect of it as displayed by the
socialists. Five men, standing together, may perform prodigies; 500
men, marching as marched the historic Five Hundred of Marseilles,
may sack a palace and destroy a king; while 500,000 men,
passionately preaching the propaganda of a class struggle, waging a
class struggle along political lines, and backed by the moral and
intellectual support of 10,000,000 more men of like convictions
throughout the world, may come pretty close to realizing a class
struggle in these United States of ours.

In 1900 these men cast 150,000 votes; two years later, in 1902, they
cast 300,000 votes; and in 1904 they cast 450,000. They have behind
them a most imposing philosophic and scientific literature; they own
illustrated magazines and reviews, high in quality, dignity, and
restraint; they possess countless daily and weekly papers which
circulate throughout the land, and single papers which have
subscribers by the hundreds of thousands; and they literally swamp
the working classes in a vast sea of tracts and pamphlets. No
political party in the United States, no church organization nor
mission effort, has as indefatigable workers as has the socialist
party. They multiply themselves, know of no effort nor sacrifice
too great to make for the Cause; and "Cause," with them, is spelled
out in capitals. They work for it with a religious zeal, and would
die for it with a willingness similar to that of the Christian

These men are preaching an uncompromising and deadly class struggle.
In fact, they are organized upon the basis of a class struggle.
"The history of society," they say, "is a history of class
struggles. Patrician struggled with plebeian in early Rome; the
king and the burghers, with the nobles in the Middle Ages; later on,
the king and the nobles with the bourgeoisie; and today the struggle
is on between the triumphant bourgeoisie and the rising proletariat.
By 'proletariat' is meant the class of people without capital which
sells its labor for a living.

"That the proletariat shall conquer," (mark the note of fatalism),
"is as certain as the rising sun. Just as the bourgeoisie of the
eighteenth century wanted democracy applied to politics, so the
proletariat of the twentieth century wants democracy applied to
industry. As the bourgeoisie complained against the government
being run by and for the nobles, so the proletariat complains
against the government and industry being run by and for the
bourgeoisie; and so, following in the footsteps of its predecessor,
the proletariat will possess itself of the government, apply
democracy to industry, abolish wages, which are merely legalized
robbery, and run the business of the country in its own interest."

"Their aim," they say, "is to organize the working class, and those
in sympathy with it, into a political party, with the object of
conquering the powers of government and of using them for the
purpose of transforming the present system of private ownership of
the means of production and distribution into collective ownership
by the entire people."

Briefly stated, this is the battle plan of these 450,000 men who
call themselves "socialists." And, in the face of the existence of
such an aggressive group of men, a class struggle cannot very well
be denied by the optimistic Americans who say: "A class struggle is
monstrous. Sir, there is no class struggle." The class struggle is
here, and the optimistic American had better gird himself for the
fray and put a stop to it, rather than sit idly declaiming that what
ought not to be is not, and never will be.

But the socialists, fanatics and dreamers though they may well be,
betray a foresight and insight, and a genius for organization, which
put to shame the class with which they are openly at war. Failing
of rapid success in waging a sheer political propaganda, and finding
that they were alienating the most intelligent and most easily
organized portion of the voters, the socialists lessoned from the
experience and turned their energies upon the trade-union movement.
To win the trade unions was well-nigh to win the war, and recent
events show that they have done far more winning in this direction
than have the capitalists.

Instead of antagonizing the unions, which had been their previous
policy, the socialists proceeded to conciliate the unions. "Let
every good socialist join the union of his trade," the edict went
forth. "Bore from within and capture the trade-union movement."
And this policy, only several years old, has reaped fruits far
beyond their fondest expectations. Today the great labor unions are
honeycombed with socialists, "boring from within," as they
picturesquely term their undermining labor. At work and at play, at
business meeting and council, their insidious propaganda goes on.
At the shoulder of the trade-unionist is the socialist, sympathizing
with him, aiding him with head and hand, suggesting--perpetually
suggesting--the necessity for political action. As the JOURNAL, of
Lansing, Michigan, a republican paper, has remarked: "The
socialists in the labor unions are tireless workers. They are
sincere, energetic, and self-sacrificing. . . . They stick to the
union and work all the while, thus making a showing which, reckoned
by ordinary standards, is out of all proportion to their numbers.
Their cause is growing among union laborers, and their long fight,
intended to turn the Federation into a political organization, is
likely to win."

They miss no opportunity of driving home the necessity for political
action, the necessity for capturing the political machinery of
society whereby they may master society. As an instance of this is
the avidity with which the American socialists seized upon the
famous Taft-Vale Decision in England, which was to the effect that
an unincorporated union could be sued and its treasury rifled by
process of law. Throughout the United States, the socialists
pointed the moral in similar fashion to the way it was pointed by
the Social-Democratic Herald, which advised the trade-unionists, in
view of the decision, to stop trying to fight capital with money,
which they lacked, and to begin fighting with the ballot, which was
their strongest weapon.

Night and day, tireless and unrelenting, they labor at their self-
imposed task of undermining society. Mr. M. G. Cunniff, who lately
made an intimate study of trade-unionism, says: "All through the
unions socialism filters. Almost every other man is a socialist,
preaching that unionism is but a makeshift." "Malthus be damned,"
they told him, "for the good time was coming when every man should
be able to rear his family in comfort." In one union, with two
thousand members, Mr. Cunniff found every man a socialist, and from
his experiences Mr. Cunniff was forced to confess, "I lived in a
world that showed our industrial life a-tremble from beneath with a
never-ceasing ferment."

The socialists have already captured the Western Federation of
Miners, the Western Hotel and Restaurant Employees' Union, and the
Patternmakers' National Association. The Western Federation of
Miners, at a recent convention, declared: "The strike has failed to
secure to the working classes their liberty; we therefore call upon
the workers to strike as one man for their liberties at the ballot
box. . . . We put ourselves on record as committed to the programme
of independent political action. . . . We indorse the platform of
the socialist party, and accept it as the declaration of principles
of our organization. We call upon our members as individuals to
commence immediately the organization of the socialist movement in
their respective towns and states, and to cooperate in every way for
the furtherance of the principles of socialism and of the socialist
party. In states where the socialist party has not perfected its
organization, we advise that every assistance be given by our
members to that end. . . . We therefore call for organizers, capable
and well-versed in the whole programme of the labor movement, to be
sent into each state to preach the necessity of organization on the
political as well as on the economic field."

The capitalist class has a glimmering consciousness of the class
struggle which is shaping itself in the midst of society; but the
capitalists, as a class, seem to lack the ability for organizing,
for coming together, such as is possessed by the working class. No
American capitalist ever aids an English capitalist in the common
fight, while workmen have formed international unions, the
socialists a world-wide international organization, and on all sides
space and race are bridged in the effort to achieve solidarity.
Resolutions of sympathy, and, fully as important, donations of
money, pass back and forth across the sea to wherever labor is
fighting its pitched battles.

For divers reasons, the capitalist class lacks this cohesion or
solidarity, chief among which is the optimism bred of past success.
And, again, the capitalist class is divided; it has within itself a
class struggle of no mean proportions, which tends to irritate and
harass it and to confuse the situation. The small capitalist and
the large capitalist are grappled with each other, struggling over
what Achille Loria calls the "bi-partition of the revenues." Such a
struggle, though not precisely analogous, was waged between the
landlords and manufacturers of England when the one brought about
the passage of the Factory Acts and the other the abolition of the
Corn Laws.

Here and there, however, certain members of the capitalist class see
clearly the cleavage in society along which the struggle is
beginning to show itself, while the press and magazines are
beginning to raise an occasional and troubled voice. Two leagues of
class-conscious capitalists have been formed for the purpose of
carrying on their side of the struggle. Like the socialists, they
do not mince matters, but state boldly and plainly that they are
fighting to subjugate the opposing class. It is the barons against
the commons. One of these leagues, the National Association of
Manufacturers, is stopping short of nothing in what it conceives to
be a life-and-death struggle. Mr. D. M. Parry, who is the president
of the league, as well as president of the National Metal Trades'
Association, is leaving no stone unturned in what he feels to be a
desperate effort to organize his class. He has issued the call to
arms in terms everything but ambiguous: "THERE IS STILL TIME IN THE

As he says, the work is for "federating employers in order that we
may meet with a united front all issues that affect us. We must
come to this sooner or later. . . . The work immediately before the
National Association of Manufacturers is, first, KEEP THE VICIOUS
INJUNCTION BILL, which wrests your business from you and places it
in the hands of your employees; third, to secure the PASSAGE OF THE
through with a rush were it not for the hectoring opposition of
Organized Labor." By this department, he further says, "business
interests would have direct and sympathetic representation at

In a later letter, issued broadcast to the capitalists outside the
League, President Parry points out the success which is already
beginning to attend the efforts of the League at Washington. "We
have contributed more than any other influence to the quick passage
of the new Department of Commerce Bill. It is said that the
activities of this office are numerous and satisfactory; but of that
I must not say too much--or anything. . . . At Washington the
Association is not represented too much, either directly or
indirectly. Sometimes it is known in a most powerful way that it is
represented vigorously and unitedly. Sometimes it is not known that
it is represented at all."

The second class-conscious capitalist organization is called the
National Economic League. It likewise manifests the frankness of
men who do not dilly-dally with terms, but who say what they mean,
and who mean to settle down to a long, hard fight. Their letter of
invitation to prospective members opens boldly. "We beg to inform
you that the National Economic League will render its services in an
impartial educational movement TO OPPOSE SOCIALISM AND CLASS
HATRED." Among its class-conscious members, men who recognize that
the opening guns of the class struggle have been fired, may be
instanced the following names: Hon. Lyman J. Gage, Ex-Secretary U.
S. Treasury; Hon. Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, Ex-Minister to France;
Rev. Henry C. Potter, Bishop New York Diocese; Hon. John D. Long,
Ex-Secretary U. S. Navy; Hon. Levi P. Morton, Ex-Vice President
United States; Henry Clews; John F. Dryden, President Prudential
Life Insurance Co.; John A. McCall, President New York Life
Insurance Co.; J. L. Greatsinger, President Brooklyn Rapid Transit
Co.; the shipbuilding firm of William Cramp & Sons, the Southern
Railway system, and the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railway

Instances of the troubled editorial voice have not been rare during
the last several years. There were many cries from the press during
the last days of the anthracite coal strike that the mine owners, by
their stubbornness, were sowing the regrettable seeds of socialism.
The World's Work for December, 1902, said: "The next significant
fact is the recommendation by the Illinois State Federation of Labor
that all members of labor unions who are also members of the state
militia shall resign from the militia. This proposition has been
favorably regarded by some other labor organizations. It has done
more than any other single recent declaration or action to cause a
public distrust of such unions as favor it. IT HINTS OF A CLASS

The OUTLOOK, February 14, 1903, in reference to the rioting at
Waterbury, remarks, "That all this disorder should have occurred in
a city of the character and intelligence of Waterbury indicates that
the industrial war spirit is by no means confined to the immigrant
or ignorant working classes."

That President Roosevelt has smelt the smoke from the firing line of
the class struggle is evidenced by his words, "Above all we need to
remember that any kind of CLASS ANIMOSITY IN THE POLITICAL WORLD is,
if possible, even more destructive to national welfare than
sectional, race, or religious animosity." The chief thing to be
noted here is President Roosevelt's tacit recognition of class
animosity in the industrial world, and his fear, which language
cannot portray stronger, that this class animosity may spread to the
political world. Yet this is the very policy which the socialists
have announced in their declaration of war against present-day
society--to capture the political machinery of society and by that
machinery destroy present-day society.

The New York Independent for February 12, 1903, recognized without
qualification the class struggle. "It is impossible fairly to pass
upon the methods of labor unions, or to devise plans for remedying
their abuses, until it is recognized, to begin with, that unions are
based upon class antagonism and that their policies are dictated by
the necessities of social warfare. A strike is a rebellion against
the owners of property. The rights of property are protected by
government. And a strike, under certain provocation, may extend as
far as did the general strike in Belgium a few years since, when
practically the entire wage-earning population stopped work in order
to force political concessions from the property-owning classes.
This is an extreme case, but it brings out vividly the real nature
of labor organization as a species of warfare whose object is the
coercion of one class by another class."

It has been shown, theoretically and actually, that there is a class
struggle in the United States. The quarrel over the division of the
joint product is irreconcilable. The working class is no longer
losing its strongest and most capable members. These men, denied
room for their ambition in the capitalist ranks, remain to be the
leaders of the workers, to spur them to discontent, to make them
conscious of their class, to lead them to revolt.

This revolt, appearing spontaneously all over the industrial field
in the form of demands for an increased share of the joint product,
is being carefully and shrewdly shaped for a political assault upon
society. The leaders, with the carelessness of fatalists, do not
hesitate for an instant to publish their intentions to the world.
They intend to direct the labor revolt to the capture of the
political machinery of society. With the political machinery once
in their hands, which will also give them the control of the police,
the army, the navy, and the courts, they will confiscate, with or
without remuneration, all the possessions of the capitalist class
which are used in the production and distribution of the necessaries
and luxuries of life. By this, they mean to apply the law of
eminent domain to the land, and to extend the law of eminent domain
till it embraces the mines, the factories, the railroads, and the
ocean carriers. In short, they intend to destroy present-day
society, which they contend is run in the interest of another class,
and from the materials to construct a new society, which will be run
in their interest.

On the other hand, the capitalist class is beginning to grow
conscious of itself and of the struggle which is being waged. It is
already forming offensive and defensive leagues, while some of the
most prominent figures in the nation are preparing to lead it in the
attack upon socialism.

The question to be solved is not one of Malthusianism, "projected
efficiency," nor ethics. It is a question of might. Whichever
class is to win, will win by virtue of superior strength; for the
workers are beginning to say, as they said to Mr. Cunniff, "Malthus
be damned." In their own minds they find no sanction for continuing
the individual struggle for the survival of the fittest. As Mr.
Gompers has said, they want more, and more, and more. The ethical
import of Mr. Kidd's plan of the present generation putting up with
less in order that race efficiency may be projected into a remote
future, has no bearing upon their actions. They refuse to be the
"glad perishers" so glowingly described by Nietzsche.

It remains to be seen how promptly the capitalist class will respond
to the call to arms. Upon its promptness rests its existence, for
if it sits idly by, soothfully proclaiming that what ought not to be
cannot be, it will find the roof beams crashing about its head. The
capitalist class is in the numerical minority, and bids fair to be
outvoted if it does not put a stop to the vast propaganda being
waged by its enemy. It is no longer a question of whether or not
there is a class struggle. The question now is, what will be the
outcome of the class struggle?


Mr. Francis O'Neil, General Superintendent of Police, Chicago,
speaking of the tramp, says: "Despite the most stringent police
regulations, a great city will have a certain number of homeless
vagrants to shelter through the winter." "Despite,"--mark the word,
a confession of organized helplessness as against unorganized
necessity. If police regulations are stringent and yet fail, then
that which makes them fail, namely, the tramp, must have still more
stringent reasons for succeeding. This being so, it should be of
interest to inquire into these reasons, to attempt to discover why
the nameless and homeless vagrant sets at naught the right arm of
the corporate power of our great cities, why all that is weak and
worthless is stronger than all that is strong and of value.

Mr. O'Neil is a man of wide experience on the subject of tramps. He
may be called a specialist. As he says of himself: "As an old-time
desk sergeant and police captain, I have had almost unlimited
opportunity to study and analyze this class of floating population,
which seeks the city in winter and scatters abroad through the
country in the spring." He then continues: "This experience
reiterated the lesson that the vast majority of these wanderers are
of the class with whom a life of vagrancy is a chosen means of
living without work." Not only is it to be inferred from this that
there is a large class in society which lives without work, for Mr.
O'Neil's testimony further shows that this class is forced to live
without work.

He says: "I have been astonished at the multitude of those who have
unfortunately engaged in occupations which practically force them to
become loafers for at least a third of the year. And it is from
this class that the tramps are largely recruited. I recall a
certain winter when it seemed to me that a large portion of the
inhabitants of Chicago belonged to this army of unfortunates. I was
stationed at a police station not far from where an ice harvest was
ready for the cutters. The ice company advertised for helpers, and
the very night this call appeared in the newspapers our station was
packed with homeless men, who asked shelter in order to be at hand
for the morning's work. Every foot of floor space was given over to
these lodgers and scores were still unaccommodated."

And again: "And it must be confessed that the man who is willing to
do honest labor for food and shelter is a rare specimen in this vast
army of shabby and tattered wanderers who seek the warmth of the
city with the coming of the first snow." Taking into consideration
the crowd of honest laborers that swamped Mr. O'Neil's station-house
on the way to the ice-cutting, it is patent, if all tramps were
looking for honest labor instead of a small minority, that the
honest laborers would have a far harder task finding something
honest to do for food and shelter. If the opinion of the honest
laborers who swamped Mr. O'Neil's station-house were asked, one
could rest confident that each and every man would express a
preference for fewer honest laborers on the morrow when he asked the
ice foreman for a job.

And, finally, Mr. O'Neil says: "The humane and generous treatment
which this city has accorded the great army of homeless unfortunates
has made it the victim of wholesale imposition, and this well-
intended policy of kindness has resulted in making Chicago the
winter Mecca of a vast and undesirable floating population." That
is to say, because of her kindness, Chicago had more than her fair
share of tramps; because she was humane and generous she suffered
whole-sale imposition. From this we must conclude that it does not
do to be HUMANE and GENEROUS to our fellow-men--when they are
tramps. Mr. O'Neil is right, and that this is no sophism it is the
intention of this article, among other things, to show.

In a general way we may draw the following inferences from the
remarks of Mr. O'Neil: (1) The tramp is stronger than organized
society and cannot be put down; (2) The tramp is "shabby,"
"tattered," "homeless," "unfortunate"; (3) There is a "vast" number
of tramps; (4) Very few tramps are willing to do honest work; (5)
Those tramps who are willing to do honest work have to hunt very
hard to find it; (6) The tramp is undesirable.

To this last let the contention be appended that the tramp is only
PERSONALLY undesirable; that he is NEGATIVELY desirable; that the
function he performs in society is a negative function; and that he
is the by-product of economic necessity.

It is very easy to demonstrate that there are more men than there is
work for men to do. For instance, what would happen tomorrow if one
hundred thousand tramps should become suddenly inspired with an
overmastering desire for work? It is a fair question. "Go to work"
is preached to the tramp every day of his life. The judge on the
bench, the pedestrian in the street, the housewife at the kitchen
door, all unite in advising him to go to work. So what would happen
tomorrow if one hundred thousand tramps acted upon this advice and
strenuously and indomitably sought work? Why, by the end of the
week one hundred thousand workers, their places taken by the tramps,
would receive their time and be "hitting the road" for a job.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox unwittingly and uncomfortably demonstrated the
disparity between men and work. {1} She made a casual reference, in
a newspaper column she conducts, to the difficulty two business men
found in obtaining good employees. The first morning mail brought
her seventy-five applications for the position, and at the end of
two weeks over two hundred people had applied.

Still more strikingly was the same proposition recently demonstrated
in San Francisco. A sympathetic strike called out a whole
federation of trades' unions. Thousands of men, in many branches of
trade, quit work,--draymen, sand teamsters, porters and packers,
longshoremen, stevedores, warehousemen, stationary engineers,
sailors, marine firemen, stewards, sea-cooks, and so forth,--an
interminable list. It was a strike of large proportions. Every
Pacific coast shipping city was involved, and the entire coasting
service, from San Diego to Puget Sound, was virtually tied up. The
time was considered auspicious. The Philippines and Alaska had
drained the Pacific coast of surplus labor. It was summer-time,
when the agricultural demand for laborers was at its height, and
when the cities were bare of their floating populations. And yet
there remained a body of surplus labor sufficient to take the places
of the strikers. No matter what occupation, sea-cook or stationary
engineer, sand teamster or warehouseman, in every case there was an
idle worker ready to do the work. And not only ready but anxious.
They fought for a chance to work. Men were killed, hundreds of
heads were broken, the hospitals were filled with injured men, and
thousands of assaults were committed. And still surplus laborers,
"scabs," came forward to replace the strikers.

REPLACE THE FIRST ARMY? One thing is certain: the trades' unions
did not scab on one another. Another thing is certain: no industry
on the Pacific slope was crippled in the slightest degree by its
workers being drawn away to fill the places of the strikers. A
third thing is certain: the agricultural workers did not flock to
the cities to replace the strikers. In this last instance it is
worth while to note that the agricultural laborers wailed to High
Heaven when a few of the strikers went into the country to compete
with them in unskilled employments. So there is no accounting for
this second army of workers. It simply was. It was there all this
time, a surplus labor army in the year of our Lord 1901, a year
adjudged most prosperous in the annals of the United States. {2}

The existence of the surplus labor army being established, there
remains to be established the economic necessity for the surplus
labor army. The simplest and most obvious need is that brought
about by the fluctuation of production. If, when production is at
low ebb, all men are at work, it necessarily follows that when
production increases there will be no men to do the increased work.
This may seem almost childish, and, if not childish, at least easily
remedied. At low ebb let the men work shorter time; at high flood
let them work overtime. The main objection to this is, that it is
not done, and that we are considering what is, not what might be or
should be.

Then there are great irregular and periodical demands for labor
which must be met. Under the first head come all the big building
and engineering enterprises. When a canal is to be dug or a
railroad put through, requiring thousands of laborers, it would be
hurtful to withdraw these laborers from the constant industries.
And whether it is a canal to be dug or a cellar, whether five
thousand men are required or five, it is well, in society as at
present organized, that they be taken from the surplus labor army.
The surplus labor army is the reserve fund of social energy, and
this is one of the reasons for its existence.

Under the second head, periodical demands, come the harvests.
Throughout the year, huge labor tides sweep back and forth across
the United States. That which is sown and tended by few men, comes
to sudden ripeness and must be gathered by many men; and it is
inevitable that these many men form floating populations. In the
late spring the berries must be picked, in the summer the grain
garnered, in the fall, the hops gathered, in the winter the ice
harvested. In California a man may pick berries in Siskiyou,
peaches in Santa Clara, grapes in the San Joaquin, and oranges in
Los Angeles, going from job to job as the season advances, and
travelling a thousand miles ere the season is done. But the great
demand for agricultural labor is in the summer. In the winter, work
is slack, and these floating populations eddy into the cities to eke
out a precarious existence and harrow the souls of the police
officers until the return of warm weather and work. If there were
constant work at good wages for every man, who would harvest the

But the last and most significant need for the surplus labor army
remains to be stated. This surplus labor acts as a check upon all
employed labor. It is the lash by which the masters hold the
workers to their tasks, or drive them back to their tasks when they
have revolted. It is the goad which forces the workers into the
compulsory "free contracts" against which they now and again rebel.
There is only one reason under the sun that strikes fail, and that
is because there are always plenty of men to take the strikers'

The strength of the union today, other things remaining equal, is
proportionate to the skill of the trade, or, in other words,
proportionate to the pressure the surplus labor army can put upon
it. If a thousand ditch-diggers strike, it is easy to replace them,
wherefore the ditch-diggers have little or no organized strength.
But a thousand highly skilled machinists are somewhat harder to
replace, and in consequence the machinist unions are strong. The
ditch-diggers are wholly at the mercy of the surplus labor army, the
machinists only partly. To be invincible, a union must be a
monopoly. It must control every man in its particular trade, and
regulate apprentices so that the supply of skilled workmen may
remain constant; this is the dream of the "Labor Trust" on the part
of the captains of labor.

Once, in England, after the Great Plague, labor awoke to find there
was more work for men than there were men to work. Instead of
workers competing for favors from employers, employers were
competing for favors from the workers. Wages went up and up, and
continued to go up, until the workers demanded the full product of
their toil. Now it is clear that, when labor receives its full
product capital must perish. And so the pygmy capitalists of that
post-Plague day found their existence threatened by this untoward
condition of affairs. To save themselves, they set a maximum wage,
restrained the workers from moving about from place to place,
smashed incipient organization, refused to tolerate idlers, and by
most barbarous legal penalties punished those who disobeyed. After
that, things went on as before.

The point of this, of course, is to demonstrate the need of the
surplus labor army. Without such an army, our present capitalist
society would be powerless. Labor would organize as it never
organized before, and the last least worker would be gathered into
the unions. The full product of toil would be demanded, and
capitalist society would crumble away. Nor could capitalist society
save itself as did the post-Plague capitalist society. The time is
past when a handful of masters, by imprisonment and barbarous
punishment, can drive the legions of the workers to their tasks.
Without a surplus labor army, the courts, police, and military are
impotent. In such matters the function of the courts, police, and
military is to preserve order, and to fill the places of strikers
with surplus labor. If there be no surplus labor to instate, there
is no function to perform; for disorder arises only during the
process of instatement, when the striking labor army and the surplus
labor army clash together. That is to say, that which maintains the
integrity of the present industrial society more potently than the
courts, police, and military is the surplus labor army.

It has been shown that there are more men than there is work for
men, and that the surplus labor army is an economic necessity. To
show how the tramp is a by-product of this economic necessity, it is
necessary to inquire into the composition of the surplus labor army.
What men form it? Why are they there? What do they do?

In the first place, since the workers must compete for employment,
it inevitably follows that it is the fit and efficient who find
employment. The skilled worker holds his place by virtue of his
skill and efficiency. Were he less skilled, or were he unreliable
or erratic, he would be swiftly replaced by a stronger competitor.
The skilled and steady employments are not cumbered with clowns and
idiots. A man finds his place according to his ability and the
needs of the system, and those without ability, or incapable of
satisfying the needs of the system, have no place. Thus, the poor
telegrapher may develop into an excellent wood-chopper. But if the
poor telegrapher cherishes the delusion that he is a good
telegrapher, and at the same time disdains all other employments, he
will have no employment at all, or he will be so poor at all other
employments that he will work only now and again in lieu of better
men. He will be among the first let off when times are dull, and
among the last taken on when times are good. Or, to the point, he
will be a member of the surplus labor army.

So the conclusion is reached that the less fit and less efficient,
or the unfit and inefficient, compose the surplus labor army. Here
are to be found the men who have tried and failed, the men who
cannot hold jobs,--the plumber apprentice who could not become a
journeyman, and the plumber journeyman too clumsy and dull to retain
employment; switchmen who wreck trains; clerks who cannot balance
books; blacksmiths who lame horses; lawyers who cannot plead; in
short, the failures of every trade and profession, and failures,
many of them, in divers trades and professions. Failure is writ
large, and in their wretchedness they bear the stamp of social
disapprobation. Common work, any kind of work, wherever or however
they can obtain it, is their portion.

But these hereditary inefficients do not alone compose the surplus
labor army. There are the skilled but unsteady and unreliable men;
and the old men, once skilled, but, with dwindling powers, no longer
skilled. {3} And there are good men, too, splendidly skilled and
efficient, but thrust out of the employment of dying or disaster-
smitten industries. In this connection it is not out of place to
note the misfortune of the workers in the British iron trades, who
are suffering because of American inroads. And, last of all, are
the unskilled laborers, the hewers of wood and drawers of water, the
ditch-diggers, the men of pick and shovel, the helpers, lumpers,
roustabouts. If trade is slack on a seacoast of two thousand miles,
or the harvests are light in a great interior valley, myriads of
these laborers lie idle, or make life miserable for their fellows in
kindred unskilled employments.

A constant filtration goes on in the working world, and good
material is continually drawn from the surplus labor army. Strikes
and industrial dislocations shake up the workers, bring good men to
the surface and sink men as good or not so good. The hope of the
skilled striker is in that the scabs are less skilled, or less
capable of becoming skilled; yet each strike attests to the
efficiency that lurks beneath. After the Pullman strike, a few
thousand railroad men were chagrined to find the work they had flung
down taken up by men as good as themselves.

But one thing must be considered here. Under the present system, if
the weakest and least fit were as strong and fit as the best, and
the best were correspondingly stronger and fitter, the same
condition would obtain. There would be the same army of employed
labor, the same army of surplus labor. The whole thing is relative.
There is no absolute standard of efficiency.

Comes now the tramp. And all conclusions may be anticipated by
saying at once that he is a tramp because some one has to be a
tramp. If he left the "road" and became a VERY efficient common
laborer, some ORDINARILY EFFICIENT common laborer would have to take
to the "road." The nooks and crannies are crowded by the surplus
laborers; and when the first snow flies, and the tramps are driven
into the cities, things become overcrowded and stringent police
regulations are necessary.

The tramp is one of two kinds of men: he is either a discouraged
worker or a discouraged criminal. Now a discouraged criminal, on
investigation, proves to be a discouraged worker, or the descendant
of discouraged workers; so that, in the last analysis, the tramp is
a discouraged worker. Since there is not work for all,
discouragement for some is unavoidable. How, then, does this
process of discouragement operate?

The lower the employment in the industrial scale, the harder the
conditions. The finer, the more delicate, the more skilled the
trade, the higher is it lifted above the struggle. There is less
pressure, less sordidness, less savagery. There are fewer glass-
blowers proportionate to the needs of the glass-blowing industry
than there are ditch-diggers proportionate to the needs of the
ditch-digging industry. And not only this, for it requires a glass-
blower to take the place of a striking glass-blower, while any kind
of a striker or out-of-work can take the place of a ditch-digger.
So the skilled trades are more independent, have more individuality
and latitude. They may confer with their masters, make demands,
assert themselves. The unskilled laborers, on the other hand, have
no voice in their affairs. The settlement of terms is none of their
business. "Free contract" is all that remains to them. They may
take what is offered, or leave it. There are plenty more of their
kind. They do not count. They are members of the surplus labor
army, and must be content with a hand-to-mouth existence.

The reward is likewise proportioned. The strong, fit worker in a
skilled trade, where there is little labor pressure, is well
compensated. He is a king compared with his less fortunate brothers
in the unskilled occupations where the labor pressure is great. The
mediocre worker not only is forced to be idle a large portion of the
time, but when employed is forced to accept a pittance. A dollar a
day on some days and nothing on other days will hardly support a man
and wife and send children to school. And not only do the masters
bear heavily upon him, and his own kind struggle for the morsel at
his mouth, but all skilled and organized labor adds to his woe.
Union men do not scab on one another, but in strikes, or when work
is slack, it is considered "fair" for them to descend and take away
the work of the common laborers. And take it away they do; for, as
a matter of fact, a well-fed, ambitious machinist or a core-maker
will transiently shovel coal better than an ill-fed, spiritless

Thus there is no encouragement for the unfit, inefficient, and
mediocre. Their very inefficiency and mediocrity make them helpless
as cattle and add to their misery. And the whole tendency for such
is downward, until, at the bottom of the social pit, they are
wretched, inarticulate beasts, living like beasts, breeding like
beasts, dying like beasts. And how do they fare, these creatures
born mediocre, whose heritage is neither brains nor brawn nor
endurance? They are sweated in the slums in an atmosphere of
discouragement and despair. There is no strength in weakness, no
encouragement in foul air, vile food, and dank dens. They are there
because they are so made that they are not fit to be higher up; but
filth and obscenity do not strengthen the neck, nor does chronic
emptiness of belly stiffen the back.

For the mediocre there is no hope. Mediocrity is a sin. Poverty is
the penalty of failure,--poverty, from whose loins spring the
criminal and the tramp, both failures, both discouraged workers.
Poverty is the inferno where ignorance festers and vice corrodes,
and where the physical, mental, and moral parts of nature are
aborted and denied.

That the charge of rashness in splashing the picture be not
incurred, let the following authoritative evidence be considered:
first, the work and wages of mediocrity and inefficiency, and,
second, the habitat:

The New York Sun of February 28, 1901, describes the opening of a
factory in New York City by the American Tobacco Company. Cheroots
were to be made in this factory in competition with other factories
which refused to be absorbed by the trust. The trust advertised for
girls. The crowd of men and boys who wanted work was so great in
front of the building that the police were forced with their clubs
to clear them away. The wage paid the girls was $2.50 per week,
sixty cents of which went for car fare. {4}

Miss Nellie Mason Auten, a graduate student of the department of
sociology at the University of Chicago, recently made a thorough
investigation of the garment trades of Chicago. Her figures were
published in the American Journal of Sociology, and commented upon
by the Literary Digest. She found women working ten hours a day,
six days a week, for forty cents per week (a rate of two-thirds of a
cent an hour). Many women earned less than a dollar a week, and
none of them worked every week. The following table will best
summarize Miss Auten's investigations among a portion of the

Industry Average Average Average
Individual Number of Yearly
Weekly Weeks Earnings
Wages Employed
Dressmakers $.90 42. $37.00
Pants-Finishers 1.31 27.58 42.41
Housewives and 1.58 30.21 47.49
Seamstresses 2.03 32.78 64.10
Pants-makers 2.13 30.77 75.61
Miscellaneous 2.77 29. 81.80
Tailors 6.22 31.96 211.92
General Averages 2.48 31.18 76.74

Walter A. Wyckoff, who is as great an authority upon the worker as
Josiah Flynt is on the tramp, furnishes the following Chicago

"Many of the men were so weakened by the want and hardship of the
winter that they were no longer in condition for effective labor.
Some of the bosses who were in need of added hands were obliged to
turn men away because of physical incapacity. One instance of this
I shall not soon forget. It was when I overheard, early one morning
at a factory gate, an interview between a would-be laborer and the
boss. I knew the applicant for a Russian Jew, who had at home an
old mother and a wife and two young children to support. He had had
intermittent employment throughout the winter in a sweater's den,
{5} barely enough to keep them all alive, and, after the hardships
of the cold season, he was again in desperate straits for work.

"The boss had all but agreed to take him on for some sort of
unskilled labor, when, struck by the cadaverous look of the man, he
told him to bare his arm. Up went the sleeve of his coat and his
ragged flannel shirt, exposing a naked arm with the muscles nearly
gone, and the blue-white transparent skin stretched over sinews and
the outlines of the bones. Pitiful beyond words was his effort to
give a semblance of strength to the biceps which rose faintly to the
upward movement of the forearm. But the boss sent him off with an
oath and a contemptuous laugh; and I watched the fellow as he turned
down the street, facing the fact of his starving family with a
despair at his heart which only mortal man can feel and no mortal
tongue can speak."

Concerning habitat, Mr. Jacob Riis has stated that in New York City,
in the block bounded by Stanton, Houston, Attorney, and Ridge
streets, the size of which is 200 by 300, there is a warren of 2244
human beings.

In the block bounded by Sixty-first and Sixty-second streets, and
Amsterdam and West End avenues, are over four thousand human
creatures,--quite a comfortable New England village to crowd into
one city block.

The Rev. Dr. Behrends, speaking of the block bounded by Canal,
Hester, Eldridge, and Forsyth streets, says: "In a room 12 by 8 and
5.5 feet high, it was found that nine persons slept and prepared
their food. . . . In another room, located in a dark cellar, without
screens or partitions, were together two men with their wives and a
girl of fourteen, two single men and a boy of seventeen, two women
and four boys,--nine, ten, eleven, and fifteen years old,--fourteen
persons in all."

Here humanity rots. Its victims, with grim humor, call it "tenant-
house rot." Or, as a legislative report puts it: "Here infantile
life unfolds its bud, but perishes before its first anniversary.
Here youth is ugly with loathsome disease, and the deformities which
follow physical degeneration."

These are the men and women who are what they are because they were
not better born, or because they happened to be unluckily born in
time and space. Gauged by the needs of the system, they are weak
and worthless. The hospital and the pauper's grave await them, and
they offer no encouragement to the mediocre worker who has failed
higher up in the industrial structure. Such a worker, conscious
that he has failed, conscious from the hard fact that he cannot
obtain work in the higher employments, finds several courses open to
him. He may come down and be a beast in the social pit, for
instance; but if he be of a certain caliber, the effect of the
social pit will be to discourage him from work. In his blood a
rebellion will quicken, and he will elect to become either a felon
or a tramp.

If he have fought the hard fight he is not unacquainted with the
lure of the "road." When out of work and still undiscouraged, he
has been forced to "hit the road" between large cities in his quest
for a job. He has loafed, seen the country and green things,
laughed in joy, lain on his back and listened to the birds singing
overhead, unannoyed by factory whistles and bosses' harsh commands;
and, most significant of all, HE HAS LIVED! That is the point! He
has not starved to death. Not only has he been care-free and happy,
but he has lived! And from the knowledge that he has idled and is
still alive, he achieves a new outlook on life; and the more he
experiences the unenviable lot of the poor worker, the more the
blandishments of the "road" take hold of him. And finally he flings
his challenge in the face of society, imposes a valorous boycott on
all work, and joins the far-wanderers of Hoboland, the gypsy folk of
this latter day.

But the tramp does not usually come from the slums. His place of
birth is ordinarily a bit above, and sometimes a very great bit
above. A confessed failure, he yet refuses to accept the
punishment, and swerves aside from the slum to vagabondage. The
average beast in the social pit is either too much of a beast, or
too much of a slave to the bourgeois ethics and ideals of his
masters, to manifest this flicker of rebellion. But the social pit,
out of its discouragement and viciousness, breeds criminals, men who
prefer being beasts of prey to being beasts of work. And the
mediocre criminal, in turn, the unfit and inefficient criminal, is
discouraged by the strong arm of the law and goes over to trampdom.

These men, the discouraged worker and the discouraged criminal,
voluntarily withdraw themselves from the struggle for work.
Industry does not need them. There are no factories shut down
through lack of labor, no projected railroads unbuilt for want of
pick-and-shovel men. Women are still glad to toil for a dollar a
week, and men and boys to clamor and fight for work at the factory
gates. No one misses these discouraged men, and in going away they
have made it somewhat easier for those that remain.

So the case stands thus: There being more men than there is work
for men to do, a surplus labor army inevitably results. The surplus
labor army is an economic necessity; without it, present society
would fall to pieces. Into the surplus labor army are herded the
mediocre, the inefficient, the unfit, and those incapable of
satisfying the industrial needs of the system. The struggle for
work between the members of the surplus labor army is sordid and
savage, and at the bottom of the social pit the struggle is vicious
and beastly. This struggle tends to discouragement, and the victims
of this discouragement are the criminal and the tramp. The tramp is
not an economic necessity such as the surplus labor army, but he is
the by-product of an economic necessity.

The "road" is one of the safety-valves through which the waste of
the social organism is given off. And BEING GIVEN OFF constitutes
the negative function of the tramp. Society, as at present
organized, makes much waste of human life. This waste must be
eliminated. Chloroform or electrocution would be a simple, merciful
solution of this problem of elimination; but the ruling ethics,
while permitting the human waste, will not permit a humane
elimination of that waste. This paradox demonstrates the
irreconcilability of theoretical ethics and industrial need.

And so the tramp becomes self-eliminating. And not only self!
Since he is manifestly unfit for things as they are, and since kind
is prone to beget kind, it is necessary that his kind cease with
him, that his progeny shall not be, that he play the eunuch's part
in this twentieth century after Christ. And he plays it. He does
not breed. Sterility is his portion, as it is the portion of the
woman on the street. They might have been mates, but society has
decreed otherwise.

And, while it is not nice that these men should die, it is ordained
that they must die, and we should not quarrel with them if they
cumber our highways and kitchen stoops with their perambulating
carcasses. This is a form of elimination we not only countenance
but compel. Therefore let us be cheerful and honest about it. Let
us be as stringent as we please with our police regulations, but for
goodness' sake let us refrain from telling the tramp to go to work.
Not only is it unkind, but it is untrue and hypocritical. We know
there is no work for him. As the scapegoat to our economic and
industrial sinning, or to the plan of things, if you will, we should
give him credit. Let us be just. He is so made. Society made him.
He did not make himself.


In a competitive society, where men struggle with one another for
food and shelter, what is more natural than that generosity, when it
diminishes the food and shelter of men other than he who is
generous, should be held an accursed thing? Wise old saws to the
contrary, he who takes from a man's purse takes from his existence.
To strike at a man's food and shelter is to strike at his life; and
in a society organized on a tooth-and-nail basis, such an act,
performed though it may be under the guise of generosity, is none
the less menacing and terrible.

It is for this reason that a laborer is so fiercely hostile to
another laborer who offers to work for less pay or longer hours. To
hold his place, (which is to live), he must offset this offer by
another equally liberal, which is equivalent to giving away somewhat
from the food and shelter he enjoys. To sell his day's work for $2,
instead of $2.50, means that he, his wife, and his children will not
have so good a roof over their heads, so warm clothes on their
backs, so substantial food in their stomachs. Meat will be bought
less frequently and it will be tougher and less nutritious, stout
new shoes will go less often on the children's feet, and disease and
death will be more imminent in a cheaper house and neighborhood.

Thus the generous laborer, giving more of a day's work for less
return, (measured in terms of food and shelter), threatens the life
of his less generous brother laborer, and at the best, if he does
not destroy that life, he diminishes it. Whereupon the less
generous laborer looks upon him as an enemy, and, as men are
inclined to do in a tooth-and-nail society, he tries to kill the man
who is trying to kill him.

When a striker kills with a brick the man who has taken his place,
he has no sense of wrong-doing. In the deepest holds of his being,
though he does not reason the impulse, he has an ethical sanction.
He feels dimly that he has justification, just as the home-defending
Boer felt, though more sharply, with each bullet he fired at the
invading English. Behind every brick thrown by a striker is the
selfish will "to live" of himself, and the slightly altruistic will
"to live" of his family. The family group came into the world
before the State group, and society, being still on the primitive
basis of tooth and nail, the will "to live" of the State is not so
compelling to the striker as is the will "to live" of his family and

In addition to the use of bricks, clubs, and bullets, the selfish
laborer finds it necessary to express his feelings in speech. Just
as the peaceful country-dweller calls the sea-rover a "pirate," and
the stout burgher calls the man who breaks into his strong-box a
"robber," so the selfish laborer applies the opprobrious epithet a
"scab" to the laborer who takes from him food and shelter by being
more generous in the disposal of his labor power. The sentimental
connotation of "scab" is as terrific as that of "traitor" or
"Judas," and a sentimental definition would be as deep and varied as
the human heart. It is far easier to arrive at what may be called a
technical definition, worded in commercial terms, as, for instance,

The laborer who gives more time or strength or skill for the same
wage than another, or equal time or strength or skill for a less
wage, is a scab. This generousness on his part is hurtful to his
fellow-laborers, for it compels them to an equal generousness which
is not to their liking, and which gives them less of food and
shelter. But a word may be said for the scab. Just as his act
makes his rivals compulsorily generous, so do they, by fortune of
birth and training, make compulsory his act of generousness. He
does not scab because he wants to scab. No whim of the spirit, no
burgeoning of the heart, leads him to give more of his labor power
than they for a certain sum.

It is because he cannot get work on the same terms as they that he
is a scab. There is less work than there are men to do work. This
is patent, else the scab would not loom so large on the labor-market
horizon. Because they are stronger than he, or more skilled, or
more energetic, it is impossible for him to take their places at the
same wage. To take their places he must give more value, must work
longer hours or receive a smaller wage. He does so, and he cannot
help it, for his will "to live" is driving him on as well as they
are being driven on by their will "to live"; and to live he must win
food and shelter, which he can do only by receiving permission to
work from some man who owns a bit of land or a piece of machinery.
And to receive permission from this man, he must make the
transaction profitable for him.

Viewed in this light, the scab, who gives more labor power for a
certain price than his fellows, is not so generous after all. He is
no more generous with his energy than the chattel slave and the
convict laborer, who, by the way, are the almost perfect scabs.
They give their labor power for about the minimum possible price.
But, within limits, they may loaf and malinger, and, as scabs, are
exceeded by the machine, which never loafs and malingers and which
is the ideally perfect scab.

It is not nice to be a scab. Not only is it not in good social
taste and comradeship, but, from the standpoint of food and shelter,
it is bad business policy. Nobody desires to scab, to give most for
least. The ambition of every individual is quite the opposite, to
give least for most; and, as a result, living in a tooth-and-nail
society, battle royal is waged by the ambitious individuals. But in
its most salient aspect, that of the struggle over the division of
the joint product, it is no longer a battle between individuals, but
between groups of individuals. Capital and labor apply themselves
to raw material, make something useful out of it, add to its value,
and then proceed to quarrel over the division of the added value.
Neither cares to give most for least. Each is intent on giving less
than the other and on receiving more.

Labor combines into its unions, capital into partnerships,
associations, corporations, and trusts. A group-struggle is the
result, in which the individuals, as individuals, play no part. The
Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, for instance, serves notice
on the Master Builders' Association that it demands an increase of
the wage of its members from $3.50 a day to $4, and a Saturday half-
holiday without pay. This means that the carpenters are trying to
give less for more. Where they received $21 for six full days, they
are endeavoring to get $22 for five days and a half,--that is, they
will work half a day less each week and receive a dollar more.

Also, they expect the Saturday half-holiday to give work to one
additional man for each eleven previously employed. This last
affords a splendid example of the development of the group idea. In
this particular struggle the individual has no chance at all for
life. The individual carpenter would be crushed like a mote by the
Master Builders' Association, and like a mote the individual master
builder would be crushed by the Brotherhood of Carpenters and

In the group-struggle over the division of the joint product, labor
utilizes the union with its two great weapons, the strike and the
boycott; while capital utilizes the trust and the association, the
weapons of which are the black-list, the lockout, and the scab. The
scab is by far the most formidable weapon of the three. He is the
man who breaks strikes and causes all the trouble. Without him
there would be no trouble, for the strikers are willing to remain
out peacefully and indefinitely so long as other men are not in
their places, and so long as the particular aggregation of capital
with which they are fighting is eating its head off in enforced

But both warring groups have reserve weapons. Were it not for the
scab, these weapons would not be brought into play. But the scab
takes the place of the striker, who begins at once to wield a most
powerful weapon, terrorism. The will "to live" of the scab recoils
from the menace of broken bones and violent death. With all due
respect to the labor leaders, who are not to be blamed for volubly
asseverating otherwise, terrorism is a well-defined and eminently
successful policy of the labor unions. It has probably won them
more strikes than all the rest of the weapons in their arsenal.
This terrorism, however, must be clearly understood. It is directed
solely against the scab, placing him in such fear for life and limb
as to drive him out of the contest. But when terrorism gets out of
hand and inoffensive non-combatants are injured, law and order
threatened, and property destroyed, it becomes an edged tool that
cuts both ways. This sort of terrorism is sincerely deplored by the
labor leaders, for it has probably lost them as many strikes as have
been lost by any other single cause.

The scab is powerless under terrorism. As a rule, he is not so good
nor gritty a man as the men he is displacing, and he lacks their
fighting organization. He stands in dire need of stiffening and
backing. His employers, the capitalists, draw their two remaining
weapons, the ownership of which is debatable, but which they for the
time being happen to control. These two weapons may be called the
political and judicial machinery of society. When the scab crumples
up and is ready to go down before the fists, bricks, and bullets of
the labor group, the capitalist group puts the police and soldiers
into the field, and begins a general bombardment of injunctions.
Victory usually follows, for the labor group cannot withstand the
combined assault of gatling guns and injunctions.

But it has been noted that the ownership of the political and
judicial machinery of society is debatable. In the Titanic struggle
over the division of the joint product, each group reaches out for
every available weapon. Nor are they blinded by the smoke of
conflict. They fight their battles as coolly and collectedly as
ever battles were fought on paper. The capitalist group has long
since realized the immense importance of controlling the political
and judicial machinery of society.

Taught by gatlings and injunctions, which have smashed many an
otherwise successful strike, the labor group is beginning to realize
that it all depends upon who is behind and who is before the
gatlings and the injunctions. And he who knows the labor movement
knows that there is slowly growing up and being formulated a clear
and definite policy for the capture of the political and judicial

This is the terrible spectre which Mr. John Graham Brooks sees
looming portentously over the twentieth century world. No man may
boast a more intimate knowledge of the labor movement than he; and
he reiterates again and again the dangerous likelihood of the whole
labor group capturing the political machinery of society. As he
says in his recent book: {6} "It is not probable that employers can
destroy unionism in the United States. Adroit and desperate
attempts will, however, be made, if we mean by unionism the
undisciplined and aggressive fact of vigorous and determined
organizations. If capital should prove too strong in this struggle,
the result is easy to predict. The employers have only to convince
organized labor that it cannot hold its own against the capitalist
manager, and the whole energy that now goes to the union will turn
to an aggressive political socialism. It will not be the harmless
sympathy with increased city and state functions which trade unions
already feel; it will become a turbulent political force bent upon
using every weapon of taxation against the rich."

This struggle not to be a scab, to avoid giving more for less and to
succeed in giving less for more, is more vital than it would appear
on the surface. The capitalist and labor groups are locked together
in desperate battle, and neither side is swayed by moral
considerations more than skin-deep. The labor group hires business
agents, lawyers, and organizers, and is beginning to intimidate
legislators by the strength of its solid vote; and more directly, in
the near future, it will attempt to control legislation by capturing
it bodily through the ballot-box. On the other hand, the capitalist
group, numerically weaker, hires newspapers, universities, and
legislatures, and strives to bend to its need all the forces which
go to mould public opinion.

The only honest morality displayed by either side is white-hot
indignation at the iniquities of the other side. The striking
teamster complacently takes a scab driver into an alley, and with an
iron bar breaks his arms, so that he can drive no more, but cries
out to high Heaven for justice when the capitalist breaks his skull
by means of a club in the hands of a policeman. Nay, the members of
a union will declaim in impassioned rhetoric for the God-given right
of an eight-hour day, and at the time be working their own business
agent seventeen hours out of the twenty-four.

A capitalist such as Collis P. Huntington, and his name is Legion,
after a long life spent in buying the aid of countless legislatures,
will wax virtuously wrathful, and condemn in unmeasured terms "the
dangerous tendency of crying out to the Government for aid" in the
way of labor legislation. Without a quiver, a member of the
capitalist group will run tens of thousands of pitiful child-
laborers through his life-destroying cotton factories, and weep
maudlin and constitutional tears over one scab hit in the back with
a brick. He will drive a "compulsory" free contract with an
unorganized laborer on the basis of a starvation wage, saying, "Take
it or leave it," knowing that to leave it means to die of hunger,
and in the next breath, when the organizer entices that laborer into
a union, will storm patriotically about the inalienable right of all
men to work. In short, the chief moral concern of either side is
with the morals of the other side. They are not in the business for
their moral welfare, but to achieve the enviable position of the
non-scab who gets more than he gives.

But there is more to the question than has yet been discussed. The
labor scab is no more detestable to his brother laborers than is the
capitalist scab to his brother capitalists. A capitalist may get
most for least in dealing with his laborers, and in so far be a non-
scab; but at the same time, in his dealings with his fellow-
capitalists, he may give most for least and be the very worst kind
of scab. The most heinous crime an employer of labor can commit is
to scab on his fellow-employers of labor. Just as the individual
laborers have organized into groups to protect themselves from the
peril of the scab laborer, so have the employers organized into
groups to protect themselves from the peril of the scab employer.
The employers' federations, associations, and trusts are nothing
more nor less than unions. They are organized to destroy scabbing
amongst themselves and to encourage scabbing amongst others. For
this reason they pool interests, determine prices, and present an
unbroken and aggressive front to the labor group.

As has been said before, nobody likes to play the compulsorily
generous role of scab. It is a bad business proposition on the face
of it. And it is patent that there would be no capitalist scabs if
there were not more capital than there is work for capital to do.
When there are enough factories in existence to supply, with
occasional stoppages, a certain commodity, the building of new
factories by a rival concern, for the production of that commodity,
is plain advertisement that that capital is out of a job. The first
act of this new aggregation of capital will be to cut prices, to
give more for less,--in short to scab, to strike at the very
existence of the less generous aggregation of capital the work of
which it is trying to do.

No scab capitalist strives to give more for less for any other
reason than that he hopes, by undercutting a competitor and driving
that competitor out of the market, to get that market and its
profits for himself. His ambition is to achieve the day when he
shall stand alone in the field both as buyer and seller,--when he
will be the royal non-scab, buying most for least, selling least for
most, and reducing all about him, the small buyers and sellers, (the
consumers and the laborers), to a general condition of scabdom.
This, for example, has been the history of Mr. Rockefeller and the
Standard Oil Company. Through all the sordid villanies of scabdom
he has passed, until today he is a most regal non-scab. However, to
continue in this enviable position, he must be prepared at a
moment's notice to go scabbing again. And he is prepared. Whenever
a competitor arises, Mr. Rockefeller changes about from giving least
for most and gives most for least with such a vengeance as to drive
the competitor out of existence.

The banded capitalists discriminate against a scab capitalist by
refusing him trade advantages, and by combining against him in most
relentless fashion. The banded laborers, discriminating against a
scab laborer in more primitive fashion, with a club, are no more
merciless than the banded capitalists.

Mr. Casson tells of a New York capitalist who withdrew from the
Sugar Union several years ago and became a scab. He was worth
something like twenty millions of dollars. But the Sugar Union,
standing shoulder to shoulder with the Railroad Union and several
other unions, beat him to his knees till he cried, "Enough." So
frightfully did they beat him that he was obliged to turn over to
his creditors his home, his chickens, and his gold watch. In point
of fact, he was as thoroughly bludgeoned by the Federation of
Capitalist Unions as ever scab workman was bludgeoned by a labor
union. The intent in either case is the same,--to destroy the
scab's producing power. The labor scab with concussion of the brain
is put out of business, and so is the capitalist scab who has lost
all his dollars down to his chickens and his watch.

But the role of scab passes beyond the individual. Just as
individuals scab on other individuals, so do groups scab on other
groups. And the principle involved is precisely the same as in the
case of the simple labor scab. A group, in the nature of its
organization, is often compelled to give most for least, and, so
doing, to strike at the life of another group. At the present
moment all Europe is appalled by that colossal scab, the United
States. And Europe is clamorous with agitation for a Federation of
National Unions to protect her from the United States. It may be
remarked, in passing, that in its prime essentials this agitation in
no wise differs from the trade-union agitation among workmen in any
industry. The trouble is caused by the scab who is giving most for
least. The result of the American scab's nefarious actions will be
to strike at the food and shelter of Europe. The way for Europe to
protect herself is to quit bickering among her parts and to form a
union against the scab. And if the union is formed, armies and
navies may be expected to be brought into play in fashion similar to
the bricks and clubs in ordinary labor struggles.

In this connection, and as one of many walking delegates for the
nations, M. Leroy-Beaulieu, the noted French economist, may well be
quoted. In a letter to the Vienna Tageblatt, he advocates an
economic alliance among the Continental nations for the purpose of
barring out American goods, an economic alliance, in his own

It will be noted, in the utterances of the Continental walking
delegates, that, one and all, they leave England out of the proposed
union. And in England herself the feeling is growing that her days
are numbered if she cannot unite for offence and defence with the
great American scab. As Andrew Carnegie said some time ago, "The
only course for Great Britain seems to be reunion with her
grandchild or sure decline to a secondary place, and then to
comparative insignificance in the future annals of the English-
speaking race."

Cecil Rhodes, speaking of what would have obtained but for the pig-
headedness of George III, and of what will obtain when England and
the United States are united, said, "NO CANNON WOULD. . . BE FIRED
would seem that England, fronted by the hostile Continental Union
and flanked by the great American scab, has nothing left but to join
with the scab and play the historic labor role of armed Pinkerton.
Granting the words of Cecil Rhodes, the United States would be
enabled to scab without let or hindrance on Europe, while England,
as professional strike-breaker and policeman, destroyed the unions
and kept order.

All this may appear fantastic and erroneous, but there is in it a
soul of truth vastly more significant than it may seem.
Civilization may be expressed today in terms of trade-unionism.
Individual struggles have largely passed away, but group-struggles
increase prodigiously. And the things for which the groups struggle
are the same as of old. Shorn of all subtleties and complexities,
the chief struggle of men, and of groups of men, is for food and
shelter. And, as of old they struggled with tooth and nail, so
today they struggle with teeth and nails elongated into armies and
navies, machines, and economic advantages.

Under the definition that a scab is ONE WHO GIVES MORE VALUE FOR THE
SAME PRICE THAN ANOTHER, it would seem that society can be generally
divided into the two classes of the scabs and the non-scabs. But on
closer investigation, however, it will be seen that the non-scab is
a vanishing quantity. In the social jungle, everybody is preying
upon everybody else. As in the case of Mr. Rockefeller, he who was
a scab yesterday is a non-scab today, and tomorrow may be a scab

The woman stenographer or book-keeper who receives forty dollars per
month where a man was receiving seventy-five is a scab. So is the
woman who does a man's work at a weaving-machine, and the child who
goes into the mill or factory. And the father, who is scabbed out
of work by the wives and children of other men, sends his own wife
and children to scab in order to save himself.

When a publisher offers an author better royalties than other
publishers have been paying him, he is scabbing on those other
publishers. The reporter on a newspaper, who feels he should be
receiving a larger salary for his work, says so, and is shown the
door, is replaced by a reporter who is a scab; whereupon, when the
belly-need presses, the displaced reporter goes to another paper and
scabs himself. The minister who hardens his heart to a call, and
waits for a certain congregation to offer him say $500 a year more,
often finds himself scabbed upon by another and more impecunious
minister; and the next time it is HIS turn to scab while a brother
minister is hardening his heart to a call. The scab is everywhere.
The professional strike-breakers, who as a class receive large
wages, will scab on one another, while scab unions are even formed
to prevent scabbing upon scabs.

There are non-scabs, but they are usually born so, and are protected
by the whole might of society in the possession of their food and
shelter. King Edward is such a type, as are all individuals who
receive hereditary food-and-shelter privileges,--such as the present
Duke of Bedford, for instance, who yearly receives $75,000 from the
good people of London because some former king gave some former
ancestor of his the market privileges of Covent Garden. The
irresponsible rich are likewise non-scabs,--and by them is meant
that coupon-clipping class which hires its managers and brains to
invest the money usually left it by its ancestors.

Outside these lucky creatures, all the rest, at one time or another
in their lives, are scabs, at one time or another are engaged in
giving more for a certain price than any one else. The meek
professor in some endowed institution, by his meek suppression of
his convictions, is giving more for his salary than gave the other
and more outspoken professor whose chair he occupies. And when a
political party dangles a full dinner-pail in the eyes of the
toiling masses, it is offering more for a vote than the dubious
dollar of the opposing party. Even a money-lender is not above
taking a slightly lower rate of interest and saying nothing about

Such is the tangle of conflicting interests in a tooth-and-nail
society that people cannot avoid being scabs, are often made so
against their desires, and are often unconsciously made so. When
several trades in a certain locality demand and receive an advance
in wages, they are unwittingly making scabs of their fellow-laborers
in that district who have received no advance in wages. In San
Francisco the barbers, laundry-workers, and milk-wagon drivers
received such an advance in wages. Their employers promptly added
the amount of this advance to the selling price of their wares. The
price of shaves, of washing, and of milk went up. This reduced the
purchasing power of the unorganized laborers, and, in point of fact,
reduced their wages and made them greater scabs.

Because the British laborer is disinclined to scab,--that is,
because he restricts his output in order to give less for the wage
he receives,--it is to a certain extent made possible for the
American capitalist, who receives a less restricted output from his
laborers, to play the scab on the English capitalist. As a result
of this, (of course combined with other causes), the American
capitalist and the American laborer are striking at the food and
shelter of the English capitalist and laborer.

The English laborer is starving today because, among other things,
he is not a scab. He practises the policy of "ca' canny," which may
be defined as "go easy." In order to get most for least, in many
trades he performs but from one-fourth to one-sixth of the labor he
is well able to perform. An instance of this is found in the
building of the Westinghouse Electric Works at Manchester. The
British limit per man was 400 bricks per day. The Westinghouse
Company imported a "driving" American contractor, aided by half a
dozen "driving" American foremen, and the British bricklayer swiftly
attained an average of 1800 bricks per day, with a maximum of 2500
bricks for the plainest work.

But, the British laborer's policy of "ca' canny," which is the very
honorable one of giving least for most, and which is likewise the
policy of the English capitalist, is nevertheless frowned upon by
the English capitalist, whose business existence is threatened by
the great American scab. From the rise of the factory system, the
English capitalist gladly embraced the opportunity, wherever he
found it, of giving least for most. He did it all over the world
whenever he enjoyed a market monopoly, and he did it at home with
the laborers employed in his mills, destroying them like flies till
prevented, within limits, by the passage of the Factory Acts. Some
of the proudest fortunes of England today may trace their origin to
the giving of least for most to the miserable slaves of the factory
towns. But at the present time the English capitalist is outraged
because his laborers are employing against him precisely the same
policy he employed against them, and which he would employ again did
the chance present itself.

Yet "ca' canny" is a disastrous thing to the British laborer. It
has driven ship-building from England to Scotland, bottle-making
from Scotland to Belgium, flint-glass-making from England to
Germany, and today is steadily driving industry after industry to
other countries. A correspondent from Northampton wrote not long
ago: "Factories are working half and third time. . . . There is no
strike, there is no real labor trouble, but the masters and men are
alike suffering from sheer lack of employment. Markets which were
once theirs are now American." It would seem that the unfortunate
British laborer is 'twixt the devil and the deep sea. If he gives
most for least, he faces a frightful slavery such as marked the
beginning of the factory system. If he gives least for most, he
drives industry away to other countries and has no work at all.

But the union laborers of the United States have nothing of which to
boast, while, according to their trade-union ethics, they have a
great deal of which to be ashamed. They passionately preach short
hours and big wages, the shorter the hours and the bigger the wages
the better. Their hatred for a scab is as terrible as the hatred of
a patriot for a traitor, of a Christian for a Judas. And in the
face of all this, they are as colossal scabs as the United States is
a colossal scab. For all of their boasted unions and high labor
ideals, they are about the most thoroughgoing scabs on the planet.

Receiving $4.50 per day, because of his proficiency and immense
working power, the American laborer has been known to scab upon
scabs (so called) who took his place and received only $0.90 per day
for a longer day. In this particular instance, five Chinese
coolies, working longer hours, gave less value for the price
received from their employer than did one American laborer.

It is upon his brother laborers overseas that the American laborer
most outrageously scabs. As Mr. Casson has shown, an English nail-
maker gets $3 per week, while an American nail-maker gets $30. But
the English worker turns out 200 pounds of nails per week, while the
American turns out 5500 pounds. If he were as "fair" as his English
brother, other things being equal, he would be receiving, at the
English worker's rate of pay, $82.50. As it is, he is scabbing upon
his English brother to the tune of $79.50 per week. Dr. Schultze-
Gaevernitz has shown that a German weaver produces 466 yards of
cotton a week at a cost of .303 per yard, while an American weaver
produces 1200 yards at a cost of .02 per yard.

But, it may be objected, a great part of this is due to the more
improved American machinery. Very true, but none the less a great
part is still due to the superior energy, skill, and willingness of
the American laborer. The English laborer is faithful to the policy
of "ca' canny." He refuses point-blank to get the work out of a
machine that the New World scab gets out of a machine. Mr. Maxim,
observing a wasteful hand-labor process in his English factory,
invented a machine which he proved capable of displacing several
men. But workman after workman was put at the machine, and without
exception they turned out neither more nor less than a workman
turned out by hand. They obeyed the mandate of the union and went
easy, while Mr. Maxim gave up in despair. Nor will the British
workman run machines at as high speed as the American, nor will he
run so many. An American workman will "give equal attention
simultaneously to three, four, or six machines or tools, while the
British workman is compelled by his trade union to limit his
attention to one, so that employment may be given to half a dozen

But for scabbing, no blame attaches itself anywhere. With rare
exceptions, all the people in the world are scabs. The strong,
capable workman gets a job and holds it because of his strength and
capacity. And he holds it because out of his strength and capacity
he gives a better value for his wage than does the weaker and less
capable workman. Therefore he is scabbing upon his weaker and less
capable brother workman. He is giving more value for the price paid
by the employer.

The superior workman scabs upon the inferior workman because he is
so constituted and cannot help it. The one, by fortune of birth and
upbringing, is strong and capable; the other, by fortune of birth
and upbringing, is not so strong nor capable. It is for the same
reason that one country scabs upon another. That country which has
the good fortune to possess great natural resources, a finer sun and
soil, unhampering institutions, and a deft and intelligent labor
class and capitalist class is bound to scab upon a country less
fortunately situated. It is the good fortune of the United States
that is making her the colossal scab, just as it is the good fortune
of one man to be born with a straight back while his brother is born
with a hump.

It is not good to give most for least, not good to be a scab. The
word has gained universal opprobrium. On the other hand, to be a
non-scab, to give least for most, is universally branded as stingy,
selfish, and unchristian-like. So all the world, like the British
workman, is 'twixt the devil and the deep sea. It is treason to
one's fellows to scab, it is unchristian-like not to scab.

Since to give least for most, and to give most for least, are
universally bad, what remains? Equity remains, which is to give
like for like, the same for the same, neither more nor less. But
this equity, society, as at present constituted, cannot give. It is
not in the nature of present-day society for men to give like for
like, the same for the same. And so long as men continue to live in
this competitive society, struggling tooth and nail with one another
for food and shelter, (which is to struggle tooth and nail with one
another for life), that long will the scab continue to exist. His
will "to live" will force him to exist. He may be flouted and
jeered by his brothers, he may be beaten with bricks and clubs by
the men who by superior strength and capacity scab upon him as he
scabs upon them by longer hours and smaller wages, but through it
all he will persist, giving a bit more of most for least than they
are giving.


For any social movement or development there must be a maximum limit
beyond which it cannot proceed. That civilization which does not
advance must decline, and so, when the maximum of development has
been reached in any given direction, society must either retrograde
or change the direction of its advance. There are many families of
men that have failed, in the critical period of their economic
evolution, to effect a change in direction, and were forced to fall
back. Vanquished at the moment of their maximum, they have dropped
out of the whirl of the world. There was no room for them.
Stronger competitors have taken their places, and they have either
rotted into oblivion or remain to be crushed under the iron heel of
the dominant races in as remorseless a struggle as the world has yet
witnessed. But in this struggle fair women and chivalrous men will
play no part. Types and ideals have changed. Helens and Launcelots
are anachronisms. Blows will be given and taken, and men fight and
die, but not for faiths and altars. Shrines will be desecrated, but
they will be the shrines, not of temples, but market-places.
Prophets will arise, but they will be the prophets of prices and
products. Battles will be waged, not for honor and glory, nor for
thrones and sceptres, but for dollars and cents and for marts and
exchanges. Brain and not brawn will endure, and the captains of war
will be commanded by the captains of industry. In short, it will be
a contest for the mastery of the world's commerce and for industrial

It is more significant, this struggle into which we have plunged,
for the fact that it is the first struggle to involve the globe. No
general movement of man has been so wide-spreading, so far-reaching.
Quite local was the supremacy of any ancient people; likewise the
rise to empire of Macedonia and Rome, the waves of Arabian valor and
fanaticism, and the mediaeval crusades to the Holy Sepulchre. But
since those times the planet has undergone a unique shrinkage.

The world of Homer, limited by the coast-lines of the Mediterranean
and Black seas, was a far vaster world than ours of today, which we
weigh, measure, and compute as accurately and as easily as if it
were a child's play-ball. Steam has made its parts accessible and
drawn them closer together. The telegraph annihilates space and
time. Each morning, every part knows what every other part is
thinking, contemplating, or doing. A discovery in a German
laboratory is being demonstrated in San Francisco within twenty-four
hours. A book written in South Africa is published by simultaneous
copyright in every English-speaking country, and on the day
following is in the hands of the translators. The death of an
obscure missionary in China, or of a whiskey-smuggler in the South

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