out duress or hindrance but with unlimited encourage-
ment, they could work out their own theories to logical
conclusions and see with their own eyes the end
However, it is not the destructionists that society
needs to fear today, but another -and larger class which
we may call The Obstructionists. The absolute de-
structionists are few and futile. They never really
destroy except in the physical sense, they never really
change anything; at best they are but the tools of
those whose principles are constructive.
But the Obstructionists are many and influential.
The friends of destruction form the red-hot center,
but there is an outer rim of people who escape the fire
but remain within range of the heat a more numer-
ous group than the others, but very harmful.
One of the differences between the two is this : the
destructionist is always conscious of his position and
purpose, but a man may be an obstructionist without
knowing it. It may show itself in him not so much
a temper as a bad habit.
If we could assemble the wastes, the leaks, the
costly hindrances against which the world must make
headway every day, the sum of them would stagger us.
They are all the result of intentional or thoughtless ob-
Take the coal situation : everybody connected with
it in any way whatsoever has come in for his criticism,
and yet there is an element we never hear about that
affects every coal user. The little thieves that rake
the coal cars at every stop- how much do they add to
the price of coal?
Very considerably. A car is shipped containing so
many tons. It arrives containing a less weight. Short-
age claims are made and the railroads have to make
up the difference. These shortages amount to very
large sums of money. Who pays it? Ultimately the
coal user. The railroad, to protect itself against the
shortages caused by thievery, adds the cost to the price
of carrying the coal. The man who uses the coal
pays for the average amount of coal the thief takes,
in order that he may get the amount of coal he ordered.
Probably never a single coal thief ever dreamed that
he was an element in the situation at all, but he is.
He is an obstructionist.
Little dishonesties, multiplied by twenty-five or
thirty million citizens, are a far costlier drain on the
country than the large dishonesties of a few powerful
rich men. Yet it is more convenient to blame the
prominent few than the obscure multitudes.
In fact it is a fetish with the people that everyone
may be wrong but them. And it is one of the signs
of a true leader of the people that he dares rebuke
them, that he does not praise them as all-wise and
Obstructionism is the real trouble of the country
today. The attitude of a large portion of our people
seems to be to sag back in the breeching. The only
use of a breeching is to hold the wagon back ! When
the breeching is most in use, the wagon is going down
hill ! Let this be a word to the wise.
The yard-master down at the freight yards is also
a very important factor. If he is still playing the old
game of waiting for a bribe before he will move
urgently needed cars in or out, he is an obstructionist.
One day's delay on a car may mean the loss of 10,000
days of work. A day's delay on material may mean
the loss of an important contract. No one can com-
pute the loss which has been forced on the people of
the country by incompetency or unwillingness among
men who are responsible for the movement of ma-
terial and cars throughout the land.
But it is the same wherever obstructionism prevails.
Even an office boy may have his part in slowing up
the business day, or snarling it at some important
point. The stenographer may unconsciously disar-
range a whole scries of transactions. The janitor re-
sponsible for the lighting or heating of an office or
factory may help the organization press forward into
the collar, or assist it to sag back in the breeching.
Someone may say, "Why talk of breeching in a
day of gears? Only farmers and horsemen will un-
derstand what you mean by breeching."
Well, this is the reason : life, after all, is run by
man-power. You may dispense with horse-power
both in man and beast for the ordinary use of hu-
man energy for purposes that might as well be an-
swered by machinery, is just taking your horse-power
out of men's bodies, that is all.
Man-power, not muscular power, but man-power,
is still the staple of all achievement.
Men harness themselves to a task. The power
they put forth in it is their interest, their efficiency,
their hope. When these are present in full force, men
press forward into the collar ; when these are lacking,
men sag back into the breeching, for our jobs are only
the harnesses we have put on in order to accomplish
something. If we sag back on the job, we hold back
the load, we don't deliver the goods.
We have machinery to take the place of man's
muscles ; we have no machinery to take the place of
his willingness and interest. Man is like a pulse, he
beats strong and full, or slow and weak, but it is the
pulse that determines all matters at last. There is no
substitute for men, there is no substitute for human-
co-operation and industry and willingness to put things
We suffer for lack of that man-power which it is
peculiarly the gift of man to put forth the power
of self-motivation, the power of going at it and stick-
ing to it and getting it done. Too many of us have
become wheelbarrows which must be trundled along.
We need to become self-starters, and so move ob-
structions out of the way. instead of becoming an
Would the Farmers Strike?
PERHAPS you overlooked it in the day's news,
because the most important occurrences are not
always deemed worthy of emphasis in the newspapers.
But the fact that the farmers of the United States
have considered the "strike" as a method of solving
their own difficulties, and have arrived at the con-
clusion that they have no moral right to strike, is one
of the most significant decisions made in this genera-
tion. And the conclusions which the farmers draw
from their own attitude and belief are of very great
importance to the labor question in general. Every-
body at one time or another has asked himself the
question, "Suppose the farmers should strike what
then ?" Serious men have been appalled by the mere
But wiseacres, who apparently do not know what
is going on, have put it aside as impossible. "Why,
the farmers are not organized," they say. Which
shows how little they are informed.
It was at a national meeting of the organized
farmers of the United States- The National Grange,
the Patrons of Husbandry, the American Farm Bureau
Federation, the Cotton States Board and the Asso-
ciation of Farmers' Union Presidents whose aggre-
gate membership covers the country and whose in-
fluence is unimpeachable, that the decision referred
to was made. If the farmers had so far forgotten
their relation and duty to humanity at large as to put
their private or class rights above the Public Right, it
would not be impossible for them to start a curtailing
movement that would make the wiseacres turn pale.
This national meeting adopted a memorial from
which we quote one paragraph :
"IV hat would be tlic 1'crdict of the people if the
fanners of the United States should go on a strike
and should refuse to supply the wants and needs of
those who are not in a position to produce food and
clothing for themselves? The farmers would be con-
demned from one end of the country to the other, and
the fact would be pointed out that the owners and
tillers of the land had no right, either moral or legal,
to bring about such a calamity. If the farmer has no
such right, those who handle his products have no such
That is basically sound both in economics and
morals. It is especially notable because in the last
sentence it links all industry with farming, and this
is a point that we often forget.
We are accustomed to say that the farmer pro-
duces our food. That is a partial statement. He
produces our clothing too. Where do the wool and
the cotton and the leather and the flax come from?
Why, they come from the farm!
Farming produces railroading too. Would there
be any railroads without farming? The farmer feeds
the trainmen, and the moving of crops is the basic
reason for the railroads' existence. Farming pro-
duces manufacturing too. It may be the coal beneath
the boilers that keeps the factory wheels turning, but it
is the farmer's products that keep the workers going.
Food is the fuel of human effort.
Now, whenever railroad men, or mechanics, or
miners go out on strike, they go out on the food which
the farmer furnishes. The farmer is the commissary
of everything, good and bad. And he has a right to
his word when the very products of his toil are used
to create conditions which make it harder for all the
people to live.
The three great arts are linked together Agri-
culture, Transportation, Manufacture. They all serve
each other. But the origin and sustenance of all is
The farmer feels this more keenly than anyone
else, because he still lives amid conditions that make
for sanity of mind. He lives under the sky, he deals
with the soil, he knows the flawless and beautiful order
of nature's laws; and he sees also that the anarchy
of human society is not constructive but steadily de-
Yes, he could strike too. The farmer could strike
WOULD THE FARMERS STRIKE?
hardest of all. Why doesn't he? Because he feels
deep and sacredly in the core of his heart that when
mere man grows so impudent as to attempt to hold
up the God-given processes of nature, it would con-
stitute the last rebellion of mankind on the physical
plane. Whether he would say it in just those words
or not, this is what the farmer feels. If he struck
he would be a traitor to Nature. The shining sun,
the falling shower would rebuke him. Seedtime with-
out seed would denounce him, and harvest-time with-
out harvest would curse him.
No, the farmer is not going to trifle with the
Powers that are above and around him. He is Priest
of the Soil. He would not profane his earthly altar.
America should be thankful for the strength of the
moral imperative among American farmers ! Now,
the question is, "Has any other man who handles the
fruits of the soil the right to do what the farmer has
no right to do?"
Has the miner the right to refuse coal that the
wheat may be baked into bread? Has the spinner a
right to refuse labor that the cotton and wool may be
spun into clothing? Has the railroad man a right to
refuse his skill that food and clothing and the means
of living might be transported to those who need
them? Clearly, if the farmer has no right to with-
hold, the others have not.
To say these things is to challenge many popular
fallacies. Our economic past has been so rilled with
greed and selfishness and absolute wrongdoing that it
is difficult for some to believe that to deny the right
to strike is not also to deny the right to high wages,
proper working hours and conditions.
Let it be said right here that labor has a right to
high wages, a right to proper hours, a right to proper
conditions, a right to a share in the profits, a right to
a voice in the conduct of industry. These are moral
rights ; they are inherent. Whether they arc acknowl-
edged or not, whether they are granted or not, they
still remain rights, because they are fundamentally
human rights they are just, they are good, they are
humane, they are practicable, they produce social good
But that these rights entitle anyone to quote again
from the Farmers' memorial "to starve the people
of the cities," in order to force, by the suffering of
the innocent, a proper respect for rights on the part
of the employing class, is drawing an unwarrantable
"How are we going to get our rights without
striking?" Here again we run up against one of the
snags of our industrial system. If an employer won't
do right, how is he to be made to do right?
Well, how would it do to educate the employer to
a knowledge of how he could do the right thing and
make it pay? And the men can do that, if the em-
ployer is not bright enough to see it for himself. (An
employer who cannot see these things for himself is
not fit to direct his workmen.) Men have been di-
viding themselves off into classes for the sake of
hindering and hurting each other, when they should
have endeavored to draw themselves nearer together
for the sake of educating each other in different points
of view. The employer knows things that the employe
doesn't know, and the employe knows things that the
employer doesn't know and all about the same eco-
nomic conditions too. The sensible, direct way would
be, not to begin to try to starve each other out because
they don't know the same things, but to come to-
gether and share their light, and all get the broader
point of view, and go on together in partnership of
production and profits.
A strike is war. War is unnecessary. War is an
irrecoverable loss to both winner and loser. Let us
delay both war and strikes and use the simpler and
more effective means of meeting man to man, face to
face, as fellow-laborers who desire to find the right
basis. For it is only the right basis that can continue.
Anything that is not right, whether it temporarily
favors the employes or the employers, cannot last
because it is not right.
And anything that is not consistent with our duty
to ourselves, our work and the community, is not right.
Who Is Their Boss?
THERE has been an interesting evolution in the
questions which the people have put to office-
seekers. Years ago we asked candidates what they
were seeking office for. This was the consequence of
a period of school instruction by which the American
boy was taught to admire the fame and glory of public
office. Merely to achieve an office and a title was
considered to be "success," and naturally men did not
scruple as to the methods by which the success was
achieved. Their principal occupation after election
was to repay at public expense the political trainers
who groomed them for the race and counted them in.
In the general disgust which has followed this seek-
ing of office for glory's sake, the people are beginning
to ask candidates for tvhat they were working. The
people exalted the standard of Fame Through Service
rather than fame through office.
There is now, however, a new question. It doesn't
go directly or exclusively to the motives a candidate
might think he has, but to the masters he has. The
question to ask of candidates today is not only, "Why
do you want this office ? What do you think your mo-
tives are in seeking it?" but rather, "Who specially
wants you to have it? Who is your master? For
whom are you working?" The basis of the new ques-
tion is this : Power goes with office, regardless of the
strength or weakness of the incumbent. There are
concealed interests whose whole existence depends
on such a hold of the higher offices. Indeed, it is the
higher offices of our government that are most neces-
sary to the continuance of certain interests and priv-
ileges. It is therefore of vital importance to them
that they retain their control, and there is no surer
way of doing this than by guarding all the approaches
to our highest offices so that only a certain kind of
men are permitted to arrive there.
The question, "Kor whom arc vou working?" is
therefore a most important one for every electorate
to ask and every candidate to consider.
But here is the amazing thing some candidates
don't know who it is they are working for! They
fancy they are working for themselves. They some-
times believe they are working for the people. But
they do not always know who their real masters are.
There are lawyers in America who do not know who
their ultimate clients are: they know the person with
whom they do business, they do not know in whose
ultimate interest the business is done.
Likewise there are financial institutions in Amer-
ica and elsewhere which apparently are independent
concerns, managed by and in the interests of the men
whose names appear as officers and directors. But
sometimes even these men do not know whose game
they are playing. They are but the "fronts" of in-
terests which are never known to the~public, and which
keep their identity concealed that they may the better
play interest against interest.
Strange as it may seem, not every man knows
for whom he is working. There are highly placed
men in these United States who would get the sur-
prise of their lives if they followed back the clues
which would lead them to their real masters.
When a man is in honest business he wants his
name to appear at the front of the business. The
young man opens a shop or a store and he is proud
to have his name in front. He puts out a useful and
honestly made product and he is proud to have his
name known in connection with it. But the biggest
business interests in the world, those who play back
and forth with the riches and the destiny of nations,
never want their names to be known, nor their organ-
ization, nor their power. They break themselves up
into numerous corporations in each of which only a
trusted agent will appear, while the remainder of the
men will apparently be the real masters of the busi-
ness, and sometimes actually think they are.
That is why it is said that not every man knows
who his master is. And it behooves every man to
find out; especially those men who commit their lives
to the searching test of public service.
WHO IS THEIR BOSS?
This concealed international control of the world
flourishes because people do not believe it exists. They
don't see how it can exist. They imagine no selfish
group could hold together strongly enough to manage
the world. But if they knew the special international
elements involved they would readily see how possible
it is. Some day a world-wide exposure will be made
and many things explained which have always puzzled
the plain people, and we shall see that much which we
have charged up to the "mystery of life" has really
been the deliberate effect of a deep-wrought, unified
international but private program.
In politics the effect of this control has been to
take out the local and human element. That is, can-
didates are no longer selected for their individual at-
titude with reference to public problems, but for their
relationship to this invisible hierarchy.
Few states select their own senators any longer,
save in very exceptional instances. The national
group, taking care of its end of the international
group's business, knows the kind of man it wants,
chooses in each state one of the men it has kept in
training, and creates the conditions under which the
people elect him. It appears that senators no longer
represent their states ; they seem to represent "in-
terests" which are interstate and international.
The same is true of almost every office. Repre-
sentatives to the state legislature are becoming less
and less district representatives, and more and more
the representatives of state and national "interests"
in their districts. Representatives in Congress also
tend to become less than formerly the representatives
of the people who voted for them, and more the rep-
resentatives of the interests who groomed them and
nominated them. Even governorships are going the
It simply indicates that instead of Government
rooting down into the people, it is heading up into an
international control that picks out of the midst of
the people the men who will serve it.
And some men serve it unconsciously. They do
not always know the source of the business that has
been thrown their way. They do not always know the
source of the interest which is shown in them. They
do not always see the vision which others have of
their future usability in office. And so they go on,
fancying they are being carried on the pleasant crest
of cumulative success, when really they are being
picked out because their inclinations or obligations may
render them useful at some time. It is a wonderful
system and its ramifications have no end. Cities are
networks, states are networks, nations are networks,
and the whole net is drawn by interests who have no
nationalistic interests whatever. They are apart from
the world, living upon the world, using the world as
their counting table. The whole system is founded
on self-interest. Everyone allied with it gets some-
thing out of it. The little fellows get a little, the big
fellows get more. Usually the little fellows get an
income and a taste of public honor. The big fellows
get the big public honors. It is what the public has
within its gift that keeps the system going. The sys-
tem never sacrifices anything for principle ; it has no
inspired reformers ; seldom are its servants big enough
to be called States ; the whole system exists to curb
and destroy the wisdom and foresight of true states-
Who is master of all these men who want the high
offices within your gift? Do you know? Do they
Who has chosen them ? Who has groomed them ?
Who is supplying the means by which the bait of their
personality is dangled before the public?
Is there any difference in them? Can you see in
the lot of them one man who really stands out in all
his records and ideas as a free man, untangled by any
That is the mark of distinction. Where all can-
didates are equally acceptable to the concealed inter-
ests, it simply is proof that they own the field.
The American Shop
IF YOU ask an employer what kind of a shop he
has, he should be able to make the proud reply,
"An American Shop." If you ask an employe in
what kind of a shop he works, he too should be able
to say, "An American Shop." There are all kinds of
names for shops; there is the closed shop and the
open shop terms which are redolent of strife and ex-
clusion ; there is the piece-work shop and the straight
wage shop; there is the shop that is booming along
all the time because of the quality of its workmanship,
management and output, and there is the shop which
hobbles along like a cripple, hardly able to live ; there
is the shop where human principles rule, and the shop
where men are treated as impersonally as if they were
but raw material. But the main difference that exists
between shops is just this : either they measure up to
the American ideal, or they do not.
There are many employers who indulge in great
talk these days about "100 per cent Americanism." It
would be a good thing if they were required to ac-
company their boast by a statement of the profits they
took from the government in the recent war. It would
be found that the percentage of their profits was
equal to or in excess of the percentage of purity they
claim for their Americanism.
The flag that flies above the shop is not the only
index of Americanism a shop can have ; the policy that
is practiced inside tells the story. We all reverence
Our Flag as the symbol of a great free people, but
we cannot reverence all the uses to which profiteers
have put it.
America needs the American Shop. It needs it
not only to meet the vast economic problems which
confront us in the production of an adequate quantity
of goods ; but also to solve the problems which have
grown out ot past injustices on the part of both lead-
ership and labor.
Itris pretty well conceded^ even by the most slow-
minded employer, that the question of production
cannot be settled until the question of the producer is
settled. The principal and controlling factor in all
our difficulties is the human element. Indeed, all our
difficulties, of whatever nature, are human difficulties :
they are the signs of humanity in trouble.
What would be some of the characteristics of a
true American Shop? In personnel and policy it
would be representative. There is no room for na-
tional, racial or religious prejudices in an American
Shop. Its purpose is industry, and that ought to open
wide its doors to all the industrious. The need of
men's labor, and the need of men themselves to labor,
is universal. Work is the burden laid on us all and no
man shirks it without doing harm to himself and the
whole social body. No race is superior, no race is