Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

War of the Classes by Jack London

Part 2 out of 2

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Seas, is served, the world over, with the morning toast. The wheat
output of Argentine or the gold of Klondike are known wherever men
meet and trade. Shrinkage, or centralization, has become such that
the humblest clerk in any metropolis may place his hand on the pulse
of the world. The planet has indeed grown very small; and because
of this, no vital movement can remain in the clime or country where
it takes its rise.

And so today the economic and industrial impulse is world-wide. It
is a matter of import to every people. None may be careless of it.
To do so is to perish. It is become a battle, the fruits of which
are to the strong, and to none but the strongest of the strong. As
the movement approaches its maximum, centralization accelerates and
competition grows keener and closer. The competitor nations cannot
all succeed. So long as the movement continues its present
direction, not only will there not be room for all, but the room
that is will become less and less; and when the moment of the
maximum is at hand, there will be no room at all. Capitalistic
production will have overreached itself, and a change of direction
will then be inevitable.

Divers queries arise: What is the maximum of commercial development
the world can sustain? How far can it be exploited? How much
capital is necessary? Can sufficient capital be accumulated? A
brief resume of the industrial history of the last one hundred years
or so will be relevant at this stage of the discussion.
Capitalistic production, in its modern significance, was born of the
industrial revolution in England in the latter half of the
eighteenth century. The great inventions of that period were both
its father and its mother, while, as Mr. Brooks Adams has shown, the
looted treasure of India was the potent midwife. Had there not been
an unwonted increase of capital, the impetus would not have been
given to invention, while even steam might have languished for
generations instead of at once becoming, as it did, the most
prominent factor in the new method of production. The improved
application of these inventions in the first decades of the
nineteenth century mark the transition from the domestic to the
factory system of manufacture and inaugurated the era of capitalism.
The magnitude of this revolution is manifested by the fact that
England alone had invented the means and equipped herself with the
machinery whereby she could overstock the world's markets. The home
market could not consume a tithe of the home product. To
manufacture this home product she had sacrificed her agriculture.
She must buy her food from abroad, and to do so she must sell her
goods abroad.

But the struggle for commercial supremacy had not yet really begun.
England was without a rival. Her navies controlled the sea. Her
armies and her insular position gave her peace at home. The world
was hers to exploit. For nearly fifty years she dominated the
European, American, and Indian trade, while the great wars then
convulsing society were destroying possible competitive capital and
straining consumption to its utmost. The pioneer of the industrial
nations, she thus received such a start in the new race for wealth
that it is only today the other nations have succeeded in overtaking
her. In 1820 the volume of her trade (imports and exports) was
68,000,000 pounds. In 1899 it had increased to 815,000,000 pounds,-
-an increase of 1200 per cent in the volume of trade.

For nearly one hundred years England has been producing surplus
value. She has been producing far more than she consumes, and this
excess has swelled the volume of her capital. This capital has been
invested in her enterprises at home and abroad, and in her shipping.
In 1898 the Stock Exchange estimated British capital invested abroad
at 1,900,000,000 pounds. But hand in hand with her foreign
investments have grown her adverse balances of trade. For the ten
years ending with 1868, her average yearly adverse balance was
52,000,000 pounds; ending with 1878, 81,000,000 pounds; ending with
1888, 101,000,000 pounds; and ending with 1898, 133,000,000 pounds.
In the single year of 1897 it reached the portentous sum of
157,000,000 pounds.

But England's adverse balances of trade in themselves are nothing at
which to be frightened. Hitherto they have been paid from out the
earnings of her shipping and the interest on her foreign
investments. But what does cause anxiety, however, is that,
relative to the trade development of other countries, her export
trade is falling off, without a corresponding diminution of her
imports, and that her securities and foreign holdings do not seem
able to stand the added strain. These she is being forced to sell
in order to pull even. As the London Times gloomily remarks, "We
are entering the twentieth century on the down grade, after a
prolonged period of business activity, high wages, high profits, and
overflowing revenue." In other words, the mighty grasp England held
over the resources and capital of the world is being relaxed. The
control of its commerce and banking is slipping through her fingers.
The sale of her foreign holdings advertises the fact that other
nations are capable of buying them, and, further, that these other
nations are busily producing surplus value.

The movement has become general. Today, passing from country to
country, an ever-increasing tide of capital is welling up.
Production is doubling and quadrupling upon itself. It used to be
that the impoverished or undeveloped nations turned to England when
it came to borrowing, but now Germany is competing keenly with her
in this matter. France is not averse to lending great sums to
Russia, and Austria-Hungary has capital and to spare for foreign

Nor has the United States failed to pass from the side of the debtor
to that of the creditor nations. She, too, has become wise in the
way of producing surplus value. She has been successful in her
efforts to secure economic emancipation. Possessing but 5 per cent
of the world's population and producing 32 per cent of the world's
food supply, she has been looked upon as the world's farmer; but
now, amidst general consternation, she comes forward as the world's
manufacturer. In 1888 her manufactured exports amounted to
$130,300,087; in 1896, to $253,681,541; in 1897, to $279,652,721; in
1898, to $307,924,994; in 1899, to $338,667,794; and in 1900, to
$432,000,000. Regarding her growing favorable balances of trade, it
may be noted that not only are her imports not increasing, but they
are actually falling off, while her exports in the last decade have
increased 72.4 per cent. In ten years her imports from Europe have
been reduced from $474,000,000 to $439,000,000; while in the same
time her exports have increased from $682,000,000 to $1,111,000,000.
Her balance of trade in her favor in 1895 was $75,000,000; in 1896,
over $100,000,000; in 1897, nearly $300,000,000; in 1898,
$615,000,000; in 1899, $530,000,000; and in 1900, $648,000,000.

In the matter of iron, the United States, which in 1840 had not
dreamed of entering the field of international competition, in 1897,
as much to her own surprise as any one else's, undersold the English
in their own London market. In 1899 there was but one American
locomotive in Great Britain; but, of the five hundred locomotives
sold abroad by the United States in 1902, England bought more than
any other country. Russia is operating a thousand of them on her
own roads today. In one instance the American manufacturers
contracted to deliver a locomotive in four and one-half months for
$9250, the English manufacturers requiring twenty-four months for
delivery at $14,000. The Clyde shipbuilders recently placed orders
for 150,000 tons of plates at a saving of $250,000, and the American
steel going into the making of the new London subway is taken as a
matter of course. American tools stand above competition the world
over. Ready-made boots and shoes are beginning to flood Europe,--
the same with machinery, bicycles, agricultural implements, and all
kinds of manufactured goods. A correspondent from Hamburg, speaking
of the invasion of American trade, says: "Incidentally, it may be
remarked that the typewriting machine with which this article is
written, as well as the thousands--nay, hundreds of thousands--of
others that are in use throughout the world, were made in America;
that it stands on an American table, in an office furnished with
American desks, bookcases, and chairs, which cannot be made in
Europe of equal quality, so practical and convenient, for a similar

In 1893 and 1894, because of the distrust of foreign capital, the
United States was forced to buy back American securities held
abroad; but in 1897 and 1898 she bought back American securities
held abroad, not because she had to, but because she chose to. And
not only has she bought back her own securities, but in the last
eight years she has become a buyer of the securities of other
countries. In the money markets of London, Paris, and Berlin she is
a lender of money. Carrying the largest stock of gold in the world,
the world, in moments of danger, when crises of international
finance loom large, looks to her vast lending ability for safety.

Thus, in a few swift years, has the United States drawn up to the
van where the great industrial nations are fighting for commercial
and financial empire. The figures of the race, in which she passed
England, are interesting:

Year United States Exports United Kingdom Exports
1875 $497,263,737 $1,087,497,000
1885 673,593,506 1,037,124,000
1895 807,742,415 1,100,452,000
1896 986,830,080 1,168,671,000
1897 1,079,834,296 1,139,882,000
1898 1,233,564,828 1,135,642,000
1899 1,253,466,000 1,287,971,000
1900 1,453,013,659 1,418,348,000

As Mr. Henry Demarest Lloyd has noted, "When the news reached
Germany of the new steel trust in America, the stocks of the iron
and steel mills listed on the Berlin Bourse fell." While Europe has
been talking and dreaming of the greatness which was, the United
States has been thinking and planning and doing for the greatness to
be. Her captains of industry and kings of finance have toiled and
sweated at organizing and consolidating production and
transportation. But this has been merely the developmental stage,
the tuning-up of the orchestra. With the twentieth century rises
the curtain on the play,--a play which shall have much in it of
comedy and a vast deal of tragedy, and which has been well named The
Capitalistic Conquest of Europe by America. Nations do not die
easily, and one of the first moves of Europe will be the erection of
tariff walls. America, however, will fittingly reply, for already
her manufacturers are establishing works in France and Germany. And
when the German trade journals refused to accept American
advertisements, they found their country flamingly bill-boarded in
buccaneer American fashion.

M. Leroy-Beaulieu, the French economist, is passionately preaching a
commercial combination of the whole Continent against the United
States,--a commercial alliance which, he boldly declares, should
become a political alliance. And in this he is not alone, finding
ready sympathy and ardent support in Austria, Italy, and Germany.
Lord Rosebery said, in a recent speech before the Wolverhampton
Chamber of Commerce: "The Americans, with their vast and almost
incalculable resources, their acuteness and enterprise, and their
huge population, which will probably be 100,000,000 in twenty years,
together with the plan they have adopted for putting accumulated
wealth into great cooperative syndicates or trusts for the purpose
of carrying on this great commercial warfare, are the most
formidable . . . rivals to be feared."

The London Times says: "It is useless to disguise the fact that
Great Britain is being outdistanced. The competition does not come
from the glut caused by miscalculation as to the home demand. Our
own steel-makers know better and are alarmed. The threatened
competition in markets hitherto our own comes from efficiency in
production such as never before has been seen." Even the British
naval supremacy is in danger, continues the same paper, "for, if we
lose our engineering supremacy, our naval supremacy will follow,
unless held on sufferance by our successful rivals."

And the Edinburgh Evening News says, with editorial gloom: "The
iron and steel trades have gone from us. When the fictitious
prosperity caused by the expenditure of our own Government and that
of European nations on armaments ceases, half of the men employed in
these industries will be turned into the streets. The outlook is
appalling. What suffering will have to be endured before the
workers realize that there is nothing left for them but emigration!"

That there must be a limit to the accumulation of capital is
obvious. The downward course of the rate of interest,
notwithstanding that many new employments have been made possible
for capital, indicates how large is the increase of surplus value.
This decline of the interest rate is in accord with Bohm-Bawerk's
law of "diminishing returns." That is, when capital, like anything
else, has become over-plentiful, less lucrative use can only be
found for the excess. This excess, not being able to earn so much
as when capital was less plentiful, competes for safe investments
and forces down the interest rate on all capital. Mr. Charles A.
Conant has well described the keenness of the scramble for safe
investments, even at the prevailing low rates of interest. At the
close of the war with Turkey, the Greek loan, guaranteed by Great
Britain, France, and Russia, was floated with striking ease.
Regardless of the small return, the amount offered at Paris,
(41,000,000 francs), was subscribed for twenty-three times over.
Great Britain, France, Germany, Holland, and the Scandinavian
States, of recent years, have all engaged in converting their
securities from 5 per cents to 4 per cents, from 4.5 per cents to
3.5 per cents, and the 3.5 per cents into 3 per cents.

Great Britain, France, Germany, and Austria-Hungary, according to
the calculation taken in 1895 by the International Statistical
Institute, hold forty-six billions of capital invested in negotiable
securities alone. Yet Paris subscribed for her portion of the Greek
loan twenty-three times over! In short, money is cheap. Andrew
Carnegie and his brother bourgeois kings give away millions
annually, but still the tide wells up. These vast accumulations
have made possible "wild-catting," fraudulent combinations, fake
enterprises, Hooleyism; but such stealings, great though they be,
have little or no effect in reducing the volume. The time is past
when startling inventions, or revolutions in the method of
production, can break up the growing congestion; yet this saved
capital demands an outlet, somewhere, somehow.

When a great nation has equipped itself to produce far more than it
can, under the present division of the product, consume, it seeks
other markets for its surplus products. When a second nation finds
itself similarly circumstanced, competition for these other markets
naturally follows. With the advent of a third, a fourth, a fifth,
and of divers other nations, the question of the disposal of surplus
products grows serious. And with each of these nations possessing,
over and beyond its active capital, great and growing masses of idle
capital, and when the very foreign markets for which they are
competing are beginning to produce similar wares for themselves, the
question passes the serious stage and becomes critical.

Never has the struggle for foreign markets been sharper than at the
present. They are the one great outlet for congested accumulations.
Predatory capital wanders the world over, seeking where it may
establish itself. This urgent need for foreign markets is forcing
upon the world-stage an era of great colonial empire. But this does
not stand, as in the past, for the subjugation of peoples and
countries for the sake of gaining their products, but for the
privilege of selling them products. The theory once was, that the
colony owed its existence and prosperity to the mother country; but
today it is the mother country that owes its existence and
prosperity to the colony. And in the future, when that supporting
colony becomes wise in the way of producing surplus value and sends
its goods back to sell to the mother country, what then? Then the
world will have been exploited, and capitalistic production will
have attained its maximum development.

Foreign markets and undeveloped countries largely retard that
moment. The favored portions of the earth's surface are already
occupied, though the resources of many are yet virgin. That they
have not long since been wrested from the hands of the barbarous and
decadent peoples who possess them is due, not to the military
prowess of such peoples, but to the jealous vigilance of the
industrial nations. The powers hold one another back. The Turk
lives because the way is not yet clear to an amicable division of
him among the powers. And the United States, supreme though she is,
opposes the partition of China, and intervenes her huge bulk between
the hungry nations and the mongrel Spanish republics. Capital
stands in its own way, welling up and welling up against the
inevitable moment when it shall burst all bonds and sweep
resistlessly across such vast stretches as China and South America.
And then there will be no more worlds to exploit, and capitalism
will either fall back, crushed under its own weight, or a change of
direction will take place which will mark a new era in history.

The Far East affords an illuminating spectacle. While the Western
nations are crowding hungrily in, while the Partition of China is
commingled with the clamor for the Spheres of Influence and the Open
Door, other forces are none the less potently at work. Not only are
the young Western peoples pressing the older ones to the wall, but
the East itself is beginning to awake. American trade is advancing,
and British trade is losing ground, while Japan, China, and India
are taking a hand in the game themselves.

In 1893, 100,000 pieces of American drills were imported into China;
in 1897, 349,000. In 1893, 252,000 pieces of American sheetings
were imported against 71,000 British; but in 1897, 566,000 pieces of
American sheetings were imported against only 10,000 British. The
cotton goods and yarn trade (which forms 40 per cent of the whole
trade with China) shows a remarkable advance on the part of the
United States. During the last ten years America has increased her
importation of plain goods by 121 per cent in quantity and 59.5 per
cent in value, while that of England and India combined has
decreased 13.75 per cent in quantity and 8 per cent in value. Lord
Charles Beresford, from whose "Break-up of China" these figures are
taken, states that English yarn has receded and Indian yarn advanced
to the front. In 1897, 140,000 piculs of Indian yarn were imported,
18,000 of Japanese, 4500 of Shanghai-manufactured, and 700 of

Japan, who but yesterday emerged from the mediaeval rule of the
Shogunate and seized in one fell swoop the scientific knowledge and
culture of the Occident, is already today showing what wisdom she
has acquired in the production of surplus value, and is preparing
herself that she may tomorrow play the part to Asia that England did
to Europe one hundred years ago. That the difference in the world's
affairs wrought by those one hundred years will prevent her
succeeding is manifest; but it is equally manifest that they cannot
prevent her playing a leading part in the industrial drama which has
commenced on the Eastern stage. Her imports into the port of
Newchang in 1891 amounted to but 22,000 taels; but in 1897 they had
increased to 280,000 taels. In manufactured goods, from matches,
watches, and clocks to the rolling stock of railways, she has
already given stiff shocks to her competitors in the Asiatic
markets; and this while she is virtually yet in the equipment stage
of production. Erelong she, too, will be furnishing her share to
the growing mass of the world's capital.

As regards Great Britain, the giant trader who has so long
overshadowed Asiatic commerce, Lord Charles Beresford says: "But
competition is telling adversely; the energy of the British merchant
is being equalled by other nationals. . . The competition of the
Chinese and the introduction of steam into the country are also
combining to produce changed conditions in China." But far more
ominous is the plaintive note he sounds when he says: "New
industries must be opened up, and I would especially direct the
attention of the Chambers of Commerce (British) to . . . the fact
that the more the native competes with the British manufacturer in
certain classes of trade, the more machinery he will need, and the
orders for such machinery will come to this country if our machinery
manufacturers are enterprising enough."

The Orient is beginning to show what an important factor it will
become, under Western supervision, in the creation of surplus value.
Even before the barriers which restrain Western capital are removed,
the East will be in a fair way toward being exploited. An analysis
of Lord Beresford's message to the Chambers of Commerce discloses,
first, that the East is beginning to manufacture for itself; and,
second, that there is a promise of keen competition in the West for
the privilege of selling the required machinery. The inexorable
MACHINERY? And when not only the East, but all the now undeveloped
countries, confront, with surplus products in their hands, the old
industrial nations, capitalistic production will have attained its
maximum development.

But before that time must intervene a period which bids one pause
for breath. A new romance, like unto none in all the past, the
economic romance, will be born. For the dazzling prize of world-
empire will the nations of the earth go up in harness. Powers will
rise and fall, and mighty coalitions shape and dissolve in the swift
whirl of events. Vassal nations and subject territories will be
bandied back and forth like so many articles of trade. And with the
inevitable displacement of economic centres, it is fair to presume
that populations will shift to and fro, as they once did from the
South to the North of England on the rise of the factory towns, or
from the Old World to the New. Colossal enterprises will be
projected and carried through, and combinations of capital and
federations of labor be effected on a cyclopean scale.
Concentration and organization will be perfected in ways hitherto
undreamed. The nation which would keep its head above the tide must
accurately adjust supply to demand, and eliminate waste to the last
least particle. Standards of living will most likely descend for
millions of people. With the increase of capital, the competition
for safe investments, and the consequent fall of the interest rate,
the principal which today earns a comfortable income would not then
support a bare existence. Saving toward old age would cease among
the working classes. And as the merchant cities of Italy crashed
when trade slipped from their hands on the discovery of the new
route to the Indies by way of the Cape of Good Hope, so will there
come times of trembling for such nations as have failed to grasp the
prize of world-empire. In that given direction they will have
attained their maximum development, before the whole world, in the
same direction, has attained its. There will no longer be room for
them. But if they can survive the shock of being flung out of the
world's industrial orbit, a change in direction may then be easily
effected. That the decadent and barbarous peoples will be crushed
is a fair presumption; likewise that the stronger breeds will
survive, entering upon the transition stage to which all the world
must ultimately come.

This change of direction must be either toward industrial
oligarchies or socialism. Either the functions of private
corporations will increase till they absorb the central government,
or the functions of government will increase till it absorbs the
corporations. Much may be said on the chance of the oligarchy.
Should an old manufacturing nation lose its foreign trade, it is
safe to predict that a strong effort would be made to build a
socialistic government, but it does not follow that this effort
would be successful. With the moneyed class controlling the State
and its revenues and all the means of subsistence, and guarding its
own interests with jealous care, it is not at all impossible that a
strong curb could be put upon the masses till the crisis were past.
It has been done before. There is no reason why it should not be
done again. At the close of the last century, such a movement was
crushed by its own folly and immaturity. In 1871 the soldiers of
the economic rulers stamped out, root and branch, a whole generation
of militant socialists.

Once the crisis were past, the ruling class, still holding the curb
in order to make itself more secure, would proceed to readjust
things and to balance consumption with production. Having a
monopoly of the safe investments, the great masses of unremunerative
capital would be directed, not to the production of more surplus
value, but to the making of permanent improvements, which would give
employment to the people, and make them content with the new order
of things. Highways, parks, public buildings, monuments, could be
builded; nor would it be out of place to give better factories and
homes to the workers. Such in itself would be socialistic, save
that it would be done by the oligarchs, a class apart. With the
interest rate down to zero, and no field for the investment of
sporadic capital, savings among the people would utterly cease, and
old-age pensions be granted as a matter of course. It is also a
logical necessity of such a system that, when the population began
to press against the means of subsistence, (expansion being
impossible), the birth rate of the lower classes would be lessened.
Whether by their own initiative, or by the interference of the
rulers, it would have to be done, and it would be done. In other
words, the oligarchy would mean the capitalization of labor and the
enslavement of the whole population. But it would be a fairer,
juster form of slavery than any the world has yet seen. The per
capita wage and consumption would be increased, and, with a
stringent control of the birth rate, there is no reason why such a
country should not be so ruled through many generations.

On the other hand, as the capitalistic exploitation of the planet
approaches its maximum, and countries are crowded out of the field
of foreign exchanges, there is a large likelihood that their change
in direction will be toward socialism. Were the theory of
collective ownership and operation then to arise for the first time,
such a movement would stand small chance of success. But such is
not the case. The doctrine of socialism has flourished and grown
throughout the nineteenth century; its tenets have been preached
wherever the interests of labor and capital have clashed; and it has
received exemplification time and again by the State's assumption of
functions which had always belonged solely to the individual.

When capitalistic production has attained its maximum development,
it must confront a dividing of the ways; and the strength of capital
on the one hand, and the education and wisdom of the workers on the
other, will determine which path society is to travel. It is
possible, considering the inertia of the masses, that the whole
world might in time come to be dominated by a group of industrial
oligarchies, or by one great oligarchy, but it is not probable.
That sporadic oligarchies may flourish for definite periods of time
is highly possible; that they may continue to do so is as highly
improbable. The procession of the ages has marked not only the rise
of man, but the rise of the common man. From the chattel slave, or
the serf chained to the soil, to the highest seats in modern
society, he has risen, rung by rung, amid the crumbling of the
divine right of kings and the crash of falling sceptres. That he
has done this, only in the end to pass into the perpetual slavery of
the industrial oligarch, is something at which his whole past cries
in protest. The common man is worthy of a better future, or else he
is not worthy of his past.

NOTE.--The above article was written as long ago as 1898. The only
alteration has been the bringing up to 1900 of a few of its
statistics. As a commercial venture of an author, it has an
interesting history. It was promptly accepted by one of the leading
magazines and paid for. The editor confessed that it was "one of
those articles one could not possibly let go of after it was once in
his possession." Publication was voluntarily promised to be
immediate. Then the editor became afraid of its too radical nature,
forfeited the sum paid for it, and did not publish it. Nor, offered
far and wide, could any other editor of bourgeois periodicals be
found who was rash enough to publish it. Thus, for the first time,
after seven years, it appears in print.


Two remarkable books are Ghent's "Our Benevolent Feudalism" {7} and
Brooks's "The Social Unrest." {8} In these two books the opposite
sides of the labor problem are expounded, each writer devoting
himself with apprehension to the side he fears and views with
disfavor. It would appear that they have set themselves the task of
collating, as a warning, the phenomena of two counter social forces.
Mr. Ghent, who is sympathetic with the socialist movement, follows
with cynic fear every aggressive act of the capitalist class. Mr.
Brooks, who yearns for the perpetuation of the capitalist system as
long as possible, follows with grave dismay each aggressive act of
the labor and socialist organizations. Mr. Ghent traces the
emasculation of labor by capital, and Mr. Brooks traces the
emasculation of independent competing capital by labor. In short,
each marshals the facts of a side in the two sides which go to make
a struggle so great that even the French Revolution is insignificant
beside it; for this later struggle, for the first time in the
history of struggles, is not confined to any particular portion of
the globe, but involves the whole of it.

Starting on the assumption that society is at present in a state of
flux, Mr. Ghent sees it rapidly crystallizing into a status which
can best be described as something in the nature of a benevolent
feudalism. He laughs to scorn any immediate realization of the
Marxian dream, while Tolstoyan utopias and Kropotkinian communistic
unions of shop and farm are too wild to merit consideration. The
coming status which Mr. Ghent depicts is a class domination by the
capitalists. Labor will take its definite place as a dependent
class, living in a condition of machine servitude fairly analogous
to the land servitude of the Middle Ages. That is to say, labor
will be bound to the machine, though less harshly, in fashion
somewhat similar to that in which the earlier serf was bound to the
soil. As he says, "Bondage to the land was the basis of villeinage
in the old regime; bondage to the job will be the basis of
villeinage in the new."

At the top of the new society will tower the magnate, the new feudal
baron; at the bottom will be found the wastrels and the
inefficients. The new society he grades as follows:

"I. The barons, graded on the basis of possessions.

"II. The court agents and retainers. (This class will include the
editors of 'respectable' and 'safe' newspapers, the pastors of
'conservative' and 'wealthy' churches, the professors and teachers
in endowed colleges and schools, lawyers generally, and most judges
and politicians).

"III. The workers in pure and applied science, artists, and

"IV. The entrepreneurs, the managers of the great industries,
transformed into a salaried class.

"V. The foremen and superintendents. This class has heretofore
been recruited largely from the skilled workers, but with the growth
of technical education in schools and colleges, and the development
of fixed caste, it is likely to become entirely differentiated.

"VI. The villeins of the cities and towns, more or less regularly
employed, who do skilled work and are partially protected by

"VII. The villeins of the cities and towns who do unskilled work
and are unprotected by organization. They will comprise the
laborers, domestics, and clerks.

"VIII. The villeins of the manorial estates, of the great farms,
the mines, and the forests.

"IX. The small-unit farmers (land-owning), the petty tradesmen, and

"X. The subtenants of the manorial estates and great farms
(corresponding to the class of 'free tenants' in the old Feudalism).

"XI. The cotters.

"XII. The tramps, the occasionally employed, the unemployed--the
wastrels of the city and country."

"The new Feudalism, like most autocracies, will foster not only the
arts, but also certain kinds of learning--particularly the kinds
which are unlikely to disturb the minds of the multitude. A future
Marsh, or Cope, or Le Comte will be liberally patronized and left
free to discover what he will; and so, too, an Edison or a Marconi.
Only they must not meddle with anything relating to social science."

It must be confessed that Mr. Ghent's arguments are cunningly
contrived and arrayed. They must be read to be appreciated. As an
example of his style, which at the same time generalizes a portion
of his argument, the following may well be given:

"The new Feudalism will be but an orderly outgrowth of present
tendencies and conditions. All societies evolve naturally out of
their predecessors. In sociology, as in biology, there is no cell
without a parent cell. The society of each generation develops a
multitude of spontaneous and acquired variations, and out of these,
by a blending process of natural and conscious selection, the
succeeding society is evolved. The new order will differ in no
important respects from the present, except in the completer
development of its more salient features. The visitor from another
planet who had known the old and should see the new would note but
few changes. Alter et Idem--another yet the same--he would say.
From magnate to baron, from workman to villein, from publicist to
court agent and retainer, will be changes of state and function so
slight as to elude all but the keenest eyes."

And in conclusion, to show how benevolent and beautiful this new
feudalism of ours will be, Mr. Ghent says: "Peace and stability it
will maintain at all hazards; and the mass, remembering the chaos,
the turmoil, the insecurity of the past, will bless its reign. . . .
Efficiency--the faculty of getting things--is at last rewarded as it
should be, for the efficient have inherited the earth and its
fulness. The lowly, whose happiness is greater and whose welfare is
more thoroughly conserved when governed than when governing, as a
twentieth-century philosopher said of them, are settled and happy in
the state which reason and experience teach is their God-appointed
lot. They are comfortable too; and if the patriarchal ideal of a
vine and fig tree for each is not yet attained, at least each has
his rented patch in the country or his rented cell in a city
building. Bread and the circus are freely given to the deserving,
and as for the undeserving, they are merely reaping the rewards of
their contumacy and pride. Order reigns, each has his justly
appointed share, and the state rests, in security, 'lapt in
universal law.'"

Mr. Brooks, on the other hand, sees rising and dissolving and rising
again in the social flux the ominous forms of a new society which is
the direct antithesis of a benevolent feudalism. He trembles at the
rash intrepidity of the capitalists who fight the labor unions, for
by such rashness he greatly fears that labor will be driven to
express its aims and strength in political terms, which terms will
inevitably be socialistic terms.

To keep down the rising tide of socialism, he preaches greater
meekness and benevolence to the capitalists. No longer may they
claim the right to run their own business, to beat down the
laborer's standard of living for the sake of increased profits, to
dictate terms of employment to individual workers, to wax
righteously indignant when organized labor takes a hand in their
business. No longer may the capitalist say "my" business, or even
think "my" business; he must say "our" business, and think "our"
business as well, accepting labor as a partner whose voice must be
heard. And if the capitalists do not become more meek and
benevolent in their dealings with labor, labor will be antagonized
and will proceed to wreak terrible political vengeance, and the
present social flux will harden into a status of socialism.

Mr. Brooks dreams of a society at which Mr. Ghent sneers as "a
slightly modified individualism, wherein each unit secures the just
reward of his capacity and service." To attain this happy state,
Mr. Brooks imposes circumspection upon the capitalists in their
relations with labor. "If the socialistic spirit is to be held in
abeyance in this country, businesses of this character (anthracite
coal mining) must be handled with extraordinary caution." Which is
to say, that to withstand the advance of socialism, a great and
greater measure of Mr. Ghent's BENEVOLENCE will be required.

Again and again, Mr. Brooks reiterates the danger he sees in harshly
treating labor. "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."

"The most concrete impulse that now favors socialism in this country
is the insane purpose to deprive labor organizations of the full and
complete rights that go with federated unionism."

"That which teaches a union that it cannot succeed as a union turns
it toward socialism. In long strikes in towns like Marlboro and
Brookfield strong unions are defeated. Hundreds of men leave these
towns for shoe-centres like Brockton, where they are now voting the
socialist ticket. The socialist mayor of this city tells me, 'The
men who come to us now from towns where they have been thoroughly
whipped in a strike are among our most active working socialists.'
The bitterness engendered by this sense of defeat is turned to
politics, as it will throughout the whole country, if organization
of labor is deprived of its rights."

"This enmity of capital to the trade union is watched with glee by
every intelligent socialist in our midst. Every union that is
beaten or discouraged in its struggle is ripening fruit for

"The real peril which we now face is the threat of a class conflict.
If capitalism insists upon the policy of outraging the saving
aspiration of the American workman to raise his standard of comfort
and leisure, every element of class conflict will strengthen among

"We have only to humiliate what is best in the trade union, and then
every worst feature of socialism is fastened upon us."

This strong tendency in the ranks of the workers toward socialism is
what Mr. Brooks characterizes the "social unrest"; and he hopes to
see the Republican, the Cleveland Democrat, and the conservative and
large property interests "band together against this common foe,"
which is socialism. And he is not above feeling grave and well-
contained satisfaction wherever the socialist doctrinaire has been
contradicted by men attempting to practise cooperation in the midst
of the competitive system, as in Belgium.

Nevertheless, he catches fleeting glimpses of an extreme and
tyrannically benevolent feudalism very like to Mr. Ghent's, as
witness the following:

"I asked one of the largest employers of labor in the South if he
feared the coming of the trade union. 'No,' he said, 'it is one
good result of race prejudice, that the negro will enable us in the
long run to weaken the trade union so that it cannot harm us. We
can keep wages down with the negro and we can prevent too much

"It is in this spirit that the lower standards are to be used. If
this purpose should succeed, it has but one issue,--the immense
strengthening of a plutocratic administration at the top, served by
an army of high-salaried helpers, with an elite of skilled and well-
paid workmen, but all resting on what would essentially be a serf
class of low-paid labor and this mass kept in order by an increased
use of military force."

In brief summary of these two notable books, it may be said that Mr.
Ghent is alarmed, (though he does not flatly say so), at the too
great social restfulness in the community, which is permitting the
capitalists to form the new society to their liking; and that Mr.
Brooks is alarmed, (and he flatly says so), at the social unrest
which threatens the modified individualism into which he would like
to see society evolve. Mr. Ghent beholds the capitalist class
rising to dominate the state and the working class; Mr. Brooks
beholds the working class rising to dominate the state and the
capitalist class. One fears the paternalism of a class; the other,
the tyranny of the mass.


Evolution is no longer a mere tentative hypothesis. One by one,
step by step, each division and subdivision of science has
contributed its evidence, until now the case is complete and the
verdict rendered. While there is still discussion as to the method
of evolution, none the less, as a process sufficient to explain all
biological phenomena, all differentiations of life into widely
diverse species, families, and even kingdoms, evolution is flatly
accepted. Likewise has been accepted its law of development: THAT,

It is in the struggle of the species with other species and against
all other hostile forces in the environment, that this law operates;
also in the struggle between the individuals of the same species.
In this struggle, which is for food and shelter, the weak
individuals must obviously win less food and shelter than the
strong. Because of this, their hold on life relaxes and they are
eliminated. And for the same reason that they may not win for
themselves adequate food and shelter, the weak cannot give to their
progeny the chance for survival that the strong give. And thus,
since the weak are prone to beget weakness, the species is
constantly purged of its inefficient members.

Because of this, a premium is placed upon strength, and so long as
the struggle for food and shelter obtains, just so long will the
average strength of each generation increase. On the other hand,
should conditions so change that all, and the progeny of all, the
weak as well as the strong, have an equal chance for survival, then,
at once, the average strength of each generation will begin to
diminish. Never yet, however, in animal life, has there been such a
state of affairs. Natural selection has always obtained. The
strong and their progeny, at the expense of the weak, have always
survived. This law of development has operated down all the past
upon all life; it so operates today, and it is not rash to say that
it will continue to operate in the future--at least upon all life
existing in a state of nature.

Man, preeminent though he is in the animal kingdom, capable of
reacting upon and making suitable an unsuitable environment,
nevertheless remains the creature of this same law of development.
The social selection to which he is subject is merely another form
of natural selection. True, within certain narrow limits he
modifies the struggle for existence and renders less precarious the
tenure of life for the weak. The extremely weak, diseased, and
inefficient are housed in hospitals and asylums. The strength of
the viciously strong, when inimical to society, is tempered by penal
institutions and by the gallows. The short-sighted are provided
with spectacles, and the sickly (when they can pay for it) with
sanitariums. Pestilential marshes are drained, plagues are checked,
and disasters averted. Yet, for all that, the strong and the
progeny of the strong survive, and the weak are crushed out. The
men strong of brain are masters as of yore. They dominate society
and gather to themselves the wealth of society. With this wealth
they maintain themselves and equip their progeny for the struggle.
They build their homes in healthful places, purchase the best
fruits, meats, and vegetables the market affords, and buy themselves
the ministrations of the most brilliant and learned of the
professional classes. The weak man, as of yore, is the servant, the
doer of things at the master's call. The weaker and less efficient
he is, the poorer is his reward. The weakest work for a living
wage, (when they can get work), live in unsanitary slums, on vile
and insufficient food, at the lowest depths of human degradation.
Their grasp on life is indeed precarious, their mortality excessive,
their infant death-rate appalling.

That some should be born to preferment and others to ignominy in
order that the race may progress, is cruel and sad; but none the
less they are so born. The weeding out of human souls, some for
fatness and smiles, some for leanness and tears, is surely a
heartless selective process--as heartless as it is natural. And the
human family, for all its wonderful record of adventure and
achievement, has not yet succeeded in avoiding this process. That
it is incapable of doing this is not to be hazarded. Not only is it
capable, but the whole trend of society is in that direction. All
the social forces are driving man on to a time when the old
selective law will be annulled. There is no escaping it, save by
the intervention of catastrophes and cataclysms quite unthinkable.
It is inexorable. It is inexorable because the common man demands
it. The twentieth century, the common man says, is his day; the
common man's day, or, rather, the dawning of the common man's day.

Nor can it be denied. The evidence is with him. The previous
centuries, and more notably the nineteenth, have marked the rise of
the common man. From chattel slavery to serfdom, and from serfdom
to what he bitterly terms "wage slavery," he has risen. Never was
he so strong as he is today, and never so menacing. He does the
work of the world, and he is beginning to know it. The world cannot
get along without him, and this also he is beginning to know. All
the human knowledge of the past, all the scientific discovery,
governmental experiment, and invention of machinery, have tended to
his advancement. His standard of living is higher. His common
school education would shame princes ten centuries past. His civil
and religious liberty makes him a free man, and his ballot the peer
of his betters. And all this has tended to make him conscious,
conscious of himself, conscious of his class. He looks about him
and questions that ancient law of development. It is cruel and
wrong, he is beginning to declare. It is an anachronism. Let it be
abolished. Why should there be one empty belly in all the world,
when the work of ten men can feed a hundred? What if my brother be
not so strong as I? He has not sinned. Wherefore should he hunger-
-he and his sinless little ones? Away with the old law. There is
food and shelter for all, therefore let all receive food and

As fast as labor has become conscious it has organized. The
ambition of these class-conscious men is that the movement shall
become general, that all labor shall become conscious of itself and
its class interests. And the day that witnesses the solidarity of
labor, they triumphantly affirm, will be a day when labor dominates
the world. This growing consciousness has led to the organization
of two movements, both separate and distinct, but both converging
toward a common goal--one, the labor movement, known as Trade
Unionism; the other, the political movement, known as Socialism.
Both are grim and silent forces, unheralded and virtually unknown to
the general public save in moments of stress. The sleeping labor
giant receives little notice from the capitalistic press, and when
he stirs uneasily, a column of surprise, indignation, and horror

It is only now and then, after long periods of silence, that the
labor movement puts in its claim for notice. All is quiet. The
kind old world spins on, and the bourgeois masters clip their
coupons in smug complacency. But the grim and silent forces are at

Suddenly, like a clap of thunder from a clear sky, comes a
disruption of industry. From ocean to ocean the wheels of a great
chain of railroads cease to run. A quarter of a million miners
throw down pick and shovel and outrage the sun with their pale,
bleached faces. The street railways of a swarming metropolis stand
idle, or the rumble of machinery in vast manufactories dies away to
silence. There is alarm and panic. Arson and homicide stalk forth.
There is a cry in the night, and quick anger and sudden death.
Peaceful cities are affrighted by the crack of rifles and the snarl
of machine-guns, and the hearts of the shuddering are shaken by the
roar of dynamite. There is hurrying and skurrying. The wires are
kept hot between the centre of government and the seat of trouble.
The chiefs of state ponder gravely and advise, and governors of
states implore. There is assembling of militia and massing of
troops, and the streets resound to the tramp of armed men. There
are separate and joint conferences between the captains of industry
and the captains of labor. And then, finally, all is quiet again,
and the memory of it is like the memory of a bad dream.

But these strikes become olympiads, things to date from; and common
on the lips of men become such phrases as "The Great Dock Strike,"
"The Great Coal Strike," "The Great Railroad Strike." Never before
did labor do these things. After the Great Plague in England,
labor, finding itself in demand and innocently obeying the economic
law, asked higher wages. But the masters set a maximum wage,
restrained workingmen from moving about from place to place, refused
to tolerate idlers, and by most barbarous legal methods punished
those who disobeyed. But labor is accorded greater respect today.
Such a policy, put into effect in this the first decade of the
twentieth century, would sweep the masters from their seats in one
mighty crash. And the masters know it and are respectful.

A fair instance of the growing solidarity of labor is afforded by an
unimportant recent strike in San Francisco. The restaurant cooks
and waiters were completely unorganized, working at any and all
hours for whatever wages they could get. A representative of the
American Federation of Labor went among them and organized them.
Within a few weeks nearly two thousand men were enrolled, and they
had five thousand dollars on deposit. Then they put in their demand
for increased wages and shorter hours. Forthwith their employers
organized. The demand was denied, and the Cooks' and Waiters' Union
walked out.

All organized employers stood back of the restaurant owners, in
sympathy with them and willing to aid them if they dared. And at
the back of the Cooks' and Waiters' Union stood the organized labor
of the city, 40,000 strong. If a business man was caught
patronizing an "unfair" restaurant, he was boycotted; if a union man
was caught, he was fined heavily by his union or expelled. The
oyster companies and the slaughter houses made an attempt to refuse
to sell oysters and meat to union restaurants. The Butchers and
Meat Cutters, and the Teamsters, in retaliation, refused to work for
or to deliver to non-union restaurants. Upon this the oyster
companies and slaughter houses acknowledged themselves beaten and
peace reigned. But the Restaurant Bakers in non-union places were
ordered out, and the Bakery Wagon Drivers declined to deliver to
unfair houses.

Every American Federation of Labor union in the city was prepared to
strike, and waited only the word. And behind all, a handful of men,
known as the Labor Council, directed the fight. One by one, blow
upon blow, they were able if they deemed it necessary to call out
the unions--the Laundry Workers, who do the washing; the Hackmen,
who haul men to and from restaurants; the Butchers, Meat Cutters,
and Teamsters; and the Milkers, Milk Drivers, and Chicken Pickers;
and after that, in pure sympathy, the Retail Clerks, the Horse
Shoers, the Gas and Electrical Fixture Hangers, the Metal Roofers,
the Blacksmiths, the Blacksmiths' Helpers, the Stablemen, the
Machinists, the Brewers, the Coast Seamen, the Varnishers and
Polishers, the Confectioners, the Upholsterers, the Paper Hangers
and Fresco Painters, the Drug Clerks, the Fitters and Helpers, the
Metal Workers, the Boiler Makers and Iron Ship Builders, the
Assistant Undertakers, the Carriage and Wagon Workers, and so on
down the lengthy list of organizations.

For, over all these trades, over all these thousands of men, is the
Labor Council. When it speaks its voice is heard, and when it
orders it is obeyed. But it, in turn, is dominated by the National
Labor Council, with which it is constantly in touch. In this wholly
unimportant little local strike it is of interest to note the stands
taken by the different sides. The legal representative and official
mouthpiece of the Employers' Association said: "This organization
is formed for defensive purposes, and it may be driven to take
offensive steps, and if so, will be strong enough to follow them up.
Labor cannot be allowed to dictate to capital and say how business
shall be conducted. There is no objection to the formation of
unions and trades councils, but membership must not be compulsory.
It is repugnant to the American idea of liberty and cannot be

On the other hand, the president of the Team Drivers' Union said:
"The employers of labor in this city are generally against the
trade-union movement and there seems to be a concerted effort on
their part to check the progress of organized labor. Such action as
has been taken by them in sympathy with the present labor troubles
may, if continued, lead to a serious conflict, the outcome of which
might be most calamitous for the business and industrial interests
of San Francisco."

And the secretary of the United Brewery Workmen: "I regard a
sympathetic strike as the last weapon which organized labor should
use in its defence. When, however, associations of employers band
together to defeat organized labor, or one of its branches, then we
should not and will not hesitate ourselves to employ the same
instrument in retaliation."

Thus, in a little corner of the world, is exemplified the growing
solidarity of labor. The organization of labor has not only kept
pace with the organization of industry, but it has gained upon it.
In one winter, in the anthracite coal region, $160,000,000 in mines
and $600,000,000 in transportation and distribution consolidated its
ownership and control. And at once, arrayed as solidly on the other
side, were the 150,000 anthracite miners. The bituminous mines,
however, were not consolidated; yet the 250,000 men employed therein
were already combined. And not only that, but they were also
combined with the anthracite miners, these 400,000 men being under
the control and direction of one supreme labor council. And in this
and the other great councils are to be found captains of labor of
splendid abilities, who, in understanding of economic and industrial
conditions, are undeniably the equals of their opponents, the
captains of industry.

The United States is honeycombed with labor organizations. And the
big federations which these go to compose aggregate millions of
members, and in their various branches handle millions of dollars
yearly. And not only this; for the international brotherhoods and
unions are forming, and moneys for the aid of strikers pass back and
forth across the seas. The Machinists, in their demand for a nine-
hour day, affected 500,000 men in the United States, Mexico, and
Canada. In England the membership of working-class organizations is
approximated by Keir Hardie at 2,500,000, with reserve funds of
$18,000,000. There the cooperative movement has a membership of
1,500,000, and every year turns over in distribution more than
$100,000,000. In France, one-eighth of the whole working class is
unionized. In Belgium the unions are very rich and powerful, and so
able to defy the masters that many of the smaller manufacturers,
unable to resist, "are removing their works to other countries where
the workmen's organizations are not so potential." And in all other
countries, according to the stage of their economic and political
development, like figures obtain. And Europe, today, confesses that
her greatest social problem is the labor problem, and that it is the
one most closely engrossing the attention of her statesmen.

The organization of labor is one of the chief acknowledged factors
in the retrogression of British trade. The workers have become
class conscious as never before. The wrong of one is the wrong of
all. They have come to realize, in a short-sighted way, that their
masters' interests are not their interests. The harder they work,
they believe, the more wealth they create for their masters.
Further, the more work they do in one day, the fewer men will be
needed to do the work. So the unions place a day's stint upon their
members, beyond which they are not permitted to go. In "A Study of
Trade Unionism," by Benjamin Taylor in the "Nineteenth Century" of
April, 1898, are furnished some interesting corroborations. The
facts here set forth were collected by the Executive Board of the
Employers' Federation, the documentary proofs of which are in the
hands of the secretaries. In a certain firm the union workmen made
eight ammunition boxes a day. Nor could they be persuaded into
making more. A young Swiss, who could not speak English, was set to
work, and in the first day he made fifty boxes. In the same firm
the skilled union hands filed up the outside handles of one machine-
gun a day. That was their stint. No one was known ever to do more.
A non-union filer came into the shop and did twelve a day. A
Manchester firm found that to plane a large bed-casting took union
workmen one hundred and ninety hours, and non-union workmen one
hundred and thirty-five hours. In another instance a man, resigning
from his union, day by day did double the amount of work he had done
formerly. And to cap it all, an English gentleman, going out to
look at a wall being put up for him by union bricklayers, found one
of their number with his right arm strapped to his body, doing all
the work with his left arm -forsooth, because he was such an
energetic fellow that otherwise he would involuntarily lay more
bricks than his union permitted.

All England resounds to the cry, "Wake up, England!" But the sulky
giant is not stirred. "Let England's trade go to pot," he says;
"what have I to lose?" And England is powerless. The capacity of
her workmen is represented by 1, in comparison with the 2.25
capacity of the American workman. And because of the solidarity of
labor and the destructiveness of strikes, British capitalists dare
not even strive to emulate the enterprise of American capitalists.
So England watches trade slipping through her fingers and wails
unavailingly. As a correspondent writes: "The enormous power of
the trade unions hangs, a sullen cloud, over the whole industrial
world here, affecting men and masters alike."

The political movement known as Socialism is, perhaps, even less
realized by the general public. The great strides it has taken and
the portentous front it today exhibits are not comprehended; and,
fastened though it is in every land, it is given little space by the
capitalistic press. For all its plea and passion and warmth, it
wells upward like a great, cold tidal wave, irresistible,
inexorable, ingulfing present-day society level by level. By its
own preachment it is inexorable. Just as societies have sprung into
existence, fulfilled their function, and passed away, it claims,
just as surely is present society hastening on to its dissolution.
This is a transition period--and destined to be a very short one.
Barely a century old, capitalism is ripening so rapidly that it can
never live to see a second birthday. There is no hope for it, the
Socialists say. It is doomed.

The cardinal tenet of Socialism is that forbidding doctrine, the
materialistic conception of history. Men are not the masters of
their souls. They are the puppets of great, blind forces. The
lives they live and the deaths they die are compulsory. All social
codes are but the reflexes of existing economic conditions, plus
certain survivals of past economic conditions. The institutions men
build they are compelled to build. Economic laws determine at any
given time what these institutions shall be, how long they shall
operate, and by what they shall be replaced. And so, through the
economic process, the Socialist preaches the ripening of the
capitalistic society and the coming of the new cooperative society.

The second great tenet of Socialism, itself a phase of the
materialistic conception of history, is the class struggle. In the
social struggle for existence, men are forced into classes. "The
history of all society thus far is the history of class strife." In
existing society the capitalist class exploits the working class,
the proletariat. The interests of the exploiter are not the
interests of the exploited. "Profits are legitimate," says the one.
"Profits are unpaid wages," replies the other, when he has become
conscious of his class, "therefore profits are robbery." The
capitalist enforces his profits because he is the legal owner of all
the means of production. He is the legal owner because he controls
the political machinery of society. The Socialist sets to work to
capture the political machinery, so that he may make illegal the
capitalist's ownership of the means of production, and make legal
his own ownership of the means of production. And it is this
struggle, between these two classes, upon which the world has at
last entered.

Scientific Socialism is very young. Only yesterday it was in
swaddling clothes. But today it is a vigorous young giant, well
braced to battle for what it wants, and knowing precisely what it
wants. It holds its international conventions, where world-policies
are formulated by the representatives of millions of Socialists. In
little Belgium there are three-quarters of a million of men who work
for the cause; in Germany, 3,000,000; Austria, between 1895 and
1897, raised her socialist vote from 90,000 to 750,000. France in
1871 had a whole generation of Socialists wiped out; yet in 1885
there were 30,000, and in 1898, 1,000,000.

Ere the last Spaniard had evacuated Cuba, Socialist groups were
forming. And from far Japan, in these first days of the twentieth
century, writes one Tomoyoshi Murai: "The interest of our people on
Socialism has been greatly awakened these days, especially among our
laboring people on one hand and young students' circle on the other,
as much as we can draw an earnest and enthusiastic audience and fill
our hall, which holds two thousand. . . . It is gratifying to say
that we have a number of fine and well-trained public orators among
our leaders of Socialism in Japan. The first speaker tonight is Mr.
Kiyoshi Kawakami, editor of one of our city (Tokyo) dailies, a
strong, independent, and decidedly socialistic paper, circulated far
and wide. Mr. Kawakami is a scholar as well as a popular writer.
He is going to speak tonight on the subject, 'The Essence of
Socialism--the Fundamental Principles.' The next speaker is
Professor Iso Abe, president of our association, whose subject of
address is, 'Socialism and the Existing Social System.' The third
speaker is Mr. Naoe Kinosita, the editor of another strong journal
of the city. He speaks on the subject, 'How to Realize the
Socialist Ideals and Plans.' Next is Mr. Shigeyoshi Sugiyama, a
graduate of Hartford Theological Seminary and an advocate of Social
Christianity, who is to speak on 'Socialism and Municipal Problems.'
And the last speaker is the editor of the 'Labor World,' the
foremost leader of the labor-union movement in our country, Mr. Sen
Katayama, who speaks on the subject, 'The Outlook of Socialism in
Europe and America.' These addresses are going to be published in
book form and to be distributed among our people to enlighten their
minds on the subject."

And in the struggle for the political machinery of society,
Socialism is no longer confined to mere propaganda. Italy, Austria,
Belgium, England, have Socialist members in their national bodies.
Out of the one hundred and thirty-two members of the London County
Council, ninety-one are denounced by the conservative element as
Socialists. The Emperor of Germany grows anxious and angry at the
increasing numbers which are returned to the Reichstag. In France,
many of the large cities, such as Marseilles, are in the hands of
the Socialists. A large body of them is in the Chamber of Deputies,
and Millerand, Socialist, sits in the cabinet. Of him M. Leroy-
Beaulieu says with horror: "M. Millerand is the open enemy of
private property, private capital, the resolute advocate of the
socialization of production . . . a constant incitement to violence
. . . a collectivist, avowed and militant, taking part in the
government, dominating the departments of commerce and industry,
preparing all the laws and presiding at the passage of all measures
which should be submitted to merchants and tradesmen."

In the United States there are already Socialist mayors of towns and
members of State legislatures, a vast literature, and single
Socialist papers with subscription lists running up into the
hundreds of thousands. In 1896, 36,000 votes were cast for the
Socialist candidate for President; in 1900, nearly 200,000; in 1904,
450,000. And the United States, young as it is, is ripening
rapidly, and the Socialists claim, according to the materialistic
conception of history, that the United States will be the first
country in the world wherein the toilers will capture the political
machinery and expropriate the bourgeoisie.

But the Socialist and labor movements have recently entered upon a
new phase. There has been a remarkable change in attitude on both
sides. For a long time the labor unions refrained from going in for
political action. On the other hand, the Socialists claimed that
without political action labor was powerless. And because of this
there was much ill feeling between them, even open hostilities, and
no concerted action. But now the Socialists grant that the labor
movement has held up wages and decreased the hours of labor, and the
labor unions find that political action is necessary. Today both
parties have drawn closely together in the common fight. In the
United States this friendly feeling grows. The Socialist papers
espouse the cause of labor, and the unions have opened their ears
once more to the wiles of the Socialists. They are all leavened
with Socialist workmen, "boring from within," and many of their
leaders have already succumbed. In England, where class
consciousness is more developed, the name "Unionism" has been
replaced by "The New Unionism," the main object of which is "to
capture existing social structures in the interests of the wage-
earners." There the Socialist, the trade-union, and other working-
class organizations are beginning to cooperate in securing the
return of representatives to the House of Commons. And in France,
where the city councils and mayors of Marseilles and Monteaules-
Mines are Socialistic, thousands of francs of municipal money were
voted for the aid of the unions in the recent great strikes.

For centuries the world has been preparing for the coming of the
common man. And the period of preparation virtually past, labor,
conscious of itself and its desires, has begun a definite movement
toward solidarity. It believes the time is not far distant when the
historian will speak not only of the dark ages of feudalism, but of
the dark ages of capitalism. And labor sincerely believes itself
justified in this by the terrible indictment it brings against
capitalistic society. In the face of its enormous wealth,
capitalistic society forfeits its right to existence when it permits
widespread, bestial poverty. The philosophy of the survival of the
fittest does not soothe the class-conscious worker when he learns
through his class literature that among the Italian pants-finishers
of Chicago {9} the average weekly wage is $1.31, and the average
number of weeks employed in the year is 27.85. Likewise when he
reads:{10} "Every room in these reeking tenements houses a family or
two. In one room a missionary found a man ill with small-pox, his
wife just recovering from her confinement, and the children running
about half naked and covered with dirt. Here are seven people
living in one underground kitchen, and a little dead child lying in
the same room. Here live a widow and her six children, two of whom
are ill with scarlet fever. In another, nine brothers and sisters,
from twenty-nine years of age downward, live, eat, and sleep
together." And likewise, when he reads:{11} "When one man, fifty
years old, who has worked all his life, is compelled to beg a little
money to bury his dead baby, and another man, fifty years old, can
give ten million dollars to enable his daughter to live in luxury
and bolster up a decaying foreign aristocracy, do you see nothing

And on the other hand, the class-conscious worker reads the
statistics of the wealthy classes, knows what their incomes are, and
how they get them. True, down all the past he has known his own
material misery and the material comfort of the dominant classes,
and often has this knowledge led him to intemperate acts and unwise
rebellion. But today, and for the first time, because both society
and he have evolved, he is beginning to see a possible way out. His
ears are opening to the propaganda of Socialism, the passionate
gospel of the dispossessed. But it does not inculcate a turning
back. The way through is the way out, he understands, and with this
in mind he draws up the programme.

It is quite simple, this programme. Everything is moving in his
direction, toward the day when he will take charge. The trust? Ah,
no. Unlike the trembling middle-class man and the small capitalist,
he sees nothing at which to be frightened. He likes the trust. He
exults in the trust, for it is largely doing the task for him. It
socializes production; this done, there remains nothing for him to
do but socialize distribution, and all is accomplished. The trust?
"It organizes industry on an enormous, labor-saving scale, and
abolishes childish, wasteful competition." It is a gigantic object
lesson, and it preaches his political economy far more potently than
he can preach it. He points to the trust, laughing scornfully in
the face of the orthodox economists. "You told me this thing could
not be," {12} he thunders. "Behold, the thing is!"

He sees competition in the realm of production passing away. When
the captains of industry have thoroughly organized production, and
got everything running smoothly, it will be very easy for him to
eliminate the profits by stepping in and having the thing run for
himself. And the captain of industry, if he be good, may be given
the privilege of continuing the management on a fair salary. The
sixty millions of dividends which the Standard Oil Company annually
declares will be distributed among the workers. The same with the
great United States Steel Corporation. The president of that
corporation knows his business. Very good. Let him become
Secretary of the Department of Iron and Steel of the United States.
But, since the chief executive of a nation of seventy-odd millions
works for $50,000 a year, the Secretary of the Department of Iron
and Steel must expect to have his salary cut accordingly. And not
only will the workers take to themselves the profits of national and
municipal monopolies, but also the immense revenues which the
dominant classes today draw from rents, and mines, and factories,
and all manner of enterprises.

All this would seem very like a dream, even to the worker, if it
were not for the fact that like things have been done before. He
points triumphantly to the aristocrat of the eighteenth century, who
fought, legislated, governed, and dominated society, but who was
shorn of power and displaced by the rising bourgeoisie. Ay, the
thing was done, he holds. And it shall be done again, but this time
it is the proletariat who does the shearing. Sociology has taught
him that m-i-g-h-t spells "right." Every society has been ruled by
classes, and the classes have ruled by sheer strength, and have been
overthrown by sheer strength. The bourgeoisie, because it was the
stronger, dragged down the nobility of the sword; and the
proletariat, because it is the strongest of all, can and will drag
down the bourgeoisie.

And in that day, for better or worse, the common man becomes the
master--for better, he believes. It is his intention to make the
sum of human happiness far greater. No man shall work for a bare
living wage, which is degradation. Every man shall have work to do,
and shall be paid exceedingly well for doing it. There shall be no
slum classes, no beggars. Nor shall there be hundreds of thousands
of men and women condemned, for economic reasons, to lives of
celibacy or sexual infertility. Every man shall be able to marry,
to live in healthy, comfortable quarters, and to have all he wants
to eat as many times a day as he wishes. There shall no longer be a
life-and-death struggle for food and shelter. The old heartless law
of development shall be annulled.

All of which is very good and very fine. And when these things have
come to pass, what then? Of old, by virtue of their weakness and
inefficiency in the struggle for food and shelter, the race was
purged of its weak and inefficient members. But this will no longer
obtain. Under the new order the weak and the progeny of the weak
will have a chance for survival equal to that of the strong and the
progeny of the strong. This being so, the premium upon strength
will have been withdrawn, and on the face of it the average strength
of each generation, instead of continuing to rise, will begin to

When the common man's day shall have arrived, the new social
institutions of that day will prevent the weeding out of weakness
and inefficiency. All, the weak and the strong, will have an equal
chance for procreation. And the progeny of all, of the weak as well
as the strong, will have an equal chance for survival. This being
so, and if no new effective law of development be put into
operation, then progress must cease. And not only progress, for
deterioration would at once set in. It is a pregnant problem. What
will be the nature of this new and most necessary law of
development? Can the common man pause long enough from his
undermining labors to answer? Since he is bent upon dragging down
the bourgeoisie and reconstructing society, can he so reconstruct
that a premium, in some unguessed way or other, will still be laid
upon the strong and efficient so that the human type will continue
to develop? Can the common man, or the uncommon men who are allied
with him, devise such a law? Or have they already devised one? And
if so, what is it?


It is quite fair to say that I became a Socialist in a fashion
somewhat similar to the way in which the Teutonic pagans became
Christians--it was hammered into me. Not only was I not looking for
Socialism at the time of my conversion, but I was fighting it. I
was very young and callow, did not know much of anything, and though
I had never even heard of a school called "Individualism," I sang
the paean of the strong with all my heart.

This was because I was strong myself. By strong I mean that I had
good health and hard muscles, both of which possessions are easily
accounted for. I had lived my childhood on California ranches, my
boyhood hustling newspapers on the streets of a healthy Western
city, and my youth on the ozone-laden waters of San Francisco Bay
and the Pacific Ocean. I loved life in the open, and I toiled in
the open, at the hardest kinds of work. Learning no trade, but
drifting along from job to job, I looked on the world and called it
good, every bit of it. Let me repeat, this optimism was because I
was healthy and strong, bothered with neither aches nor weaknesses,
never turned down by the boss because I did not look fit, able
always to get a job at shovelling coal, sailorizing, or manual labor
of some sort.

And because of all this, exulting in my young life, able to hold my
own at work or fight, I was a rampant individualist. It was very
natural. I was a winner. Wherefore I called the game, as I saw it
played, or thought I saw it played, a very proper game for MEN. To
be a MAN was to write man in large capitals on my heart. To
adventure like a man, and fight like a man, and do a man's work
(even for a boy's pay)--these were things that reached right in and
gripped hold of me as no other thing could. And I looked ahead into
long vistas of a hazy and interminable future, into which, playing
what I conceived to be MAN'S game, I should continue to travel with
unfailing health, without accidents, and with muscles ever vigorous.
As I say, this future was interminable. I could see myself only
raging through life without end like one of Nietzsche's BLOND-
BEASTS, lustfully roving and conquering by sheer superiority and

As for the unfortunates, the sick, and ailing, and old, and maimed,
I must confess I hardly thought of them at all, save that I vaguely
felt that they, barring accidents, could be as good as I if they
wanted to real hard, and could work just as well. Accidents? Well,
they represented FATE, also spelled out in capitals, and there was
no getting around FATE. Napoleon had had an accident at Waterloo,
but that did not dampen my desire to be another and later Napoleon.
Further, the optimism bred of a stomach which could digest scrap
iron and a body which flourished on hardships did not permit me to
consider accidents as even remotely related to my glorious

I hope I have made it clear that I was proud to be one of Nature's
strong-armed noblemen. The dignity of labor was to me the most
impressive thing in the world. Without having read Carlyle, or
Kipling, I formulated a gospel of work which put theirs in the
shade. Work was everything. It was sanctification and salvation.
The pride I took in a hard day's work well done would be
inconceivable to you. It is almost inconceivable to me as I look
back upon it. I was as faithful a wage slave as ever capitalist
exploited. To shirk or malinger on the man who paid me my wages was
a sin, first, against myself, and second, against him. I considered
it a crime second only to treason and just about as bad.

In short, my joyous individualism was dominated by the orthodox
bourgeois ethics. I read the bourgeois papers, listened to the
bourgeois preachers, and shouted at the sonorous platitudes of the
bourgeois politicians. And I doubt not, if other events had not
changed my career, that I should have evolved into a professional
strike-breaker, (one of President Eliot's American heroes), and had
my head and my earning power irrevocably smashed by a club in the
hands of some militant trades-unionist.

Just about this time, returning from a seven months' voyage before
the mast, and just turned eighteen, I took it into my head to go
tramping. On rods and blind baggages I fought my way from the open
West where men bucked big and the job hunted the man, to the
congested labor centres of the East, where men were small potatoes
and hunted the job for all they were worth. And on this new BLOND-
BEAST adventure I found myself looking upon life from a new and
totally different angle. I had dropped down from the proletariat
into what sociologists love to call the "submerged tenth," and I was
startled to discover the way in which that submerged tenth was

I found there all sorts of men, many of whom had once been as good
as myself and just as BLOND-BEAST; sailor-men, soldier-men, labor-
men, all wrenched and distorted and twisted out of shape by toil and
hardship and accident, and cast adrift by their masters like so many
old horses. I battered on the drag and slammed back gates with
them, or shivered with them in box cars and city parks, listening
the while to life-histories which began under auspices as fair as
mine, with digestions and bodies equal to and better than mine, and
which ended there before my eyes in the shambles at the bottom of
the Social Pit.

And as I listened my brain began to work. The woman of the streets
and the man of the gutter drew very close to me. I saw the picture
of the Social Pit as vividly as though it were a concrete thing, and
at the bottom of the Pit I saw them, myself above them, not far, and
hanging on to the slippery wall by main strength and sweat. And I
confess a terror seized me. What when my strength failed? when I
should be unable to work shoulder to shoulder with the strong men
who were as yet babes unborn? And there and then I swore a great
oath. It ran something like this: ALL MY DAYS I HAVE WORKED HARD
DO. And I have been busy ever since running away from hard work.

Incidentally, while tramping some ten thousand miles through the
United States and Canada, I strayed into Niagara Falls, was nabbed
by a fee-hunting constable, denied the right to plead guilty or not
guilty, sentenced out of hand to thirty days' imprisonment for
having no fixed abode and no visible means of support, handcuffed
and chained to a bunch of men similarly circumstanced, carted down
country to Buffalo, registered at the Erie County Penitentiary, had
my head clipped and my budding mustache shaved, was dressed in
convict stripes, compulsorily vaccinated by a medical student who
practised on such as we, made to march the lock-step, and put to
work under the eyes of guards armed with Winchester rifles--all for
adventuring in BLOND-BEASTLY fashion. Concerning further details
deponent sayeth not, though he may hint that some of his plethoric
national patriotism simmered down and leaked out of the bottom of
his soul somewhere--at least, since that experience he finds that he
cares more for men and women and little children than for imaginary
geographical lines.

To return to my conversion. I think it is apparent that my rampant
individualism was pretty effectively hammered out of me, and
something else as effectively hammered in. But, just as I had been
an individualist without knowing it, I was now a Socialist without
knowing it, withal, an unscientific one. I had been reborn, but not
renamed, and I was running around to find out what manner of thing I
was. I ran back to California and opened the books. I do not
remember which ones I opened first. It is an unimportant detail
anyway. I was already It, whatever It was, and by aid of the books
I discovered that It was a Socialist. Since that day I have opened
many books, but no economic argument, no lucid demonstration of the
logic and inevitableness of Socialism affects me as profoundly and
convincingly as I was affected on the day when I first saw the walls
of the Social Pit rise around me and felt myself slipping down,
down, into the shambles at the bottom.


{1} "From 43 to 52 per cent of all applicants need work rather than
relief."--Report of the Charity Organization Society of New York

{2} Mr. Leiter, who owns a coal mine at the town of Zeigler,
Illinois, in an interview printed in the Chicago Record-Herald of
December 6, 1904, said: "When I go into the market to purchase
labor, I propose to retain just as much freedom as does a purchaser
in any other kind of a market. . . . There is no difficulty whatever

{3} "Despondent and weary with vain attempts to struggle against an
unsympathetic world, two old men were brought before Police Judge
McHugh this afternoon to see whether some means could not be
provided for their support, at least until springtime.

"George Westlake was the first one to receive the consideration of
the court. Westlake is seventy-two years old. A charge of habitual
drunkenness was placed against him, and he was sentenced to a term
in the county jail, though it is more than probable that he was
never under the influence of intoxicating liquor in his life. The
act on the part of the authorities was one of kindness for him, as
in the county jail he will be provided with a good place to sleep
and plenty to eat.

"Joe Coat, aged sixty-nine years, will serve ninety days in the
county jail for much the same reason as Westlake. He states that,
if given a chance to do so, he will go out to a wood-camp and cut
timber during the winter, but the police authorities realize that he
could not long survive such a task."--From the Butte (Montana)
Miner, December 7th, 1904.

"'I end my life because I have reached the age limit, and there is
no place for me in this world. Please notify my wife, No. 222 West
129th Street, New York.' Having summed up the cause of his
despondency in this final message, James Hollander, fifty-six years
old, shot himself through the left temple, in his room at the
Stafford Hotel today."--New York Herald.

{4} In the San Francisco Examiner of November 16, 1904, there is an
account of the use of fire-hose to drive away three hundred men who
wanted work at unloading a vessel in the harbor. So anxious were
the men to get the two or three hours' job that they made a
veritable mob and had to be driven off.

{5} "It was no uncommon thing in these sweatshops for men to sit
bent over a sewing-machine continuously from eleven to fifteen hours
a day in July weather, operating a sewing-machine by foot-power, and
often so driven that they could not stop for lunch. The seasonal
character of the work meant demoralizing toil for a few months in
the year, and a not less demoralizing idleness for the remainder of
the time. Consumption, the plague of the tenements and the especial
plague of the garment industry, carried off many of these workers;
poor nutrition and exhaustion, many more."--From McClure's Magazine.

{6} The Social Unrest. Macmillan Company.

{7} "Our Benevolent Feudalism." By W. J. Ghent. The Macmillan

{8} "The Social Unrest." By John Graham Brooks. The Macmillan

{9} From figures presented by Miss Nellie Mason Auten in the
American Journal of Sociology, and copied extensively by the trade-
union and Socialist press.

{10} "The Bitter Cry of Outcast London."

{11} An item from the Social Democratic Herald. Hundreds of these
items, culled from current happenings, are published weekly in the
papers of the workers.

{12} Karl Marx, the great Socialist, worked out the trust
development forty years ago, for which he was laughed at by the
orthodox economists.

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest